Friday, December 31, 2010

My Big, Fat New Year Resolution.

Last night I had a dream that Lottie finally met my Dad.

As the lovely dream sequence unfolded, Lottie slumbered in her crib for the first time.In organizing her room, the rocking chair changed locations. The view from my beloved chair, changed from being able to see out the window to seeing this:


(*tear)

Because the frames are so similar to the color of her wall, I'm considering painting them. Any suggestions? I'll be the first to admit that I'm insecure when it comes to decorating my home.

This is where I attempt (and fail) to segue from the telling of dreams to the telling of nightmares; except the one which I'm about to share, (pause for dramatic effect) is painfully real.

Feeling energized from my morning workout:

(It's true. We own an elliptical.
And yes, it doubles as a towel rack.
I've been using it regularly.
Please don't die of shock.)

...I head to my closet to choose the day's outfit which, I have to say, is consistently an awful experience considering the fact that the majority of my clothes were purchased in 2004, are (coughing) a few sizes too small and in the shabbiest of condition. Nevertheless, my mood was high. I had a place to be! The hours ahead would be spent away from my kids (Huzzah!!) That's right folks. I was headed to the dentist's office!

Feeling courageous, I rummaged through a stack of jeans that I haven't looked at in months. Mentally I cheer myself on.

"I had the baby two months ago! I've been faithfully exercising. I can do this!" I select a worn, yet faithful, pair of old blues. And then, as I began to shimmy myself into them,

(*Cue Sue Sylvester)

"HORROR!!!!'


The surprisingly loud sound of denim ripping apart is one I won't soon forget. I would easily prefer listening to the drills at the dentist's office to the shredding of innocent jean pants. I hope this experience will serve as a reminder that not all women come home from the hospital after giving birth wearing their size nothing jeans; even though, most of my friends seem too. These pants will likewise serve as a tangible piece of motivation to exercise and eat better. I will have my revenge in 2011.

To soothe my self esteem, the family and I spent our evening at Chuck-E-Cheese. I know, right? Pizza is the last thing I need. Despite Henry's expression, we had a blast!

It's a shame Eliza's missing her nose. Other than that, I quite like this picture. We're getting a hang of this "family of five" thing. Thank you Heavenly Father for our newest addition.
2010 was a wonderful year for our family. And because I'm indecisive on what to share, here are a few extra for the grandparents:

Monday, December 27, 2010

A White Christmas!

On Christmas Day, South Carolina welcomed its first snow storm of the season!

The morning of the 26th, the conditions for snow play were ripe! Eliza was sorely disappointed when we told her that Church had been canceled. Um... not!

Heaven bless our fellow Carolinians and their cautionary reaction to snow. I'm not kidding when I say that Church was canceled. We did our best to keep the day holy. However, I implore you to keep in mind (as I justify our choices) that this may be the only time they put on their snow boots this Winter.

Considering our usual climate, the acquisition of snow gear is consistently low on my priority list. It was a small miracle that we were able to squeeze Henry into Eliza's former snow pants (size 18 months). In lieu of boots, we layered 4 pairs of socks on his little feet to fill in the bright pink rain boots he borrowed from Eliza.
Our little snow monster didn't seem to mind the arrangement.
There he goes flashing his large "hole" again. "Raaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrr!!!!!!"
Like last year, making a snow angel was the first thing on her list of to-dos. Can you tell she's laughing?!

Throwing snowballs at Daddy came next.
And finally, under the tutelage of her Father, she built our snow family.

Christmas day was simply wonderful. Our enthusiastic children proved to be the perfect cure for a homesick heart.

I realize that Henry looks like a bored Elvis impersonator in that picture, but it was the best one we got of the pair of them! In contrast to other years, the unwrapping of gifts took a long time. Henry wanted nothing to do with the presents that remained in his pile after opening the first two. Eliza, on the other hand, was gleefully inhaling that wrapping paper.This was my first Christmas spent away from family; which is why I feel a little guilty for the level of contentment we enjoyed that day. And thanks to that perfectly timed snowfall, that extra dusting of magic we'd been pining for arrived.

The only tears to escape me on Christmas fell while sharing some one on one time with Lottie. As I rocked her, we treated ourselves to a sampling of Mannheim Steamroller's Christmas music. Their version of "Bring a Torch, Jeanette Isabella" has long connected me to my Dad. There I sat; loving my new baby and loving the parents who raised me. Humbly, I was reminded that its because of that Babe in Bethlehem, even Jesus Christ, that they are mine to love forever.
How special it was to have someone so fresh from heaven in our home. I ache for the opportunity to introduce her to rest of her family but am rejoicing that she's already here. She's truly a gift. They all are.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

sugar cookies, santa clause & slobber... cow slobber

Because we have friends with awesome ideas, I had the 'good fortune' of getting up close and personal with a cow this week. After weeks of feeling like a cow myself, I have to say that it most certainly was a lactating girl's dream come true.

Hollywild is 'the' place to see Christmas lights. We caught the merry memo in 2008 when Andrew and I took Eliza and Henry, but sadly missed out on the experience last year. So, when we received an invite to go with friends for family night, we quickly said yes. For those of you unfamiliar with the Hollywild experience, picture this:

Having been freed from their car seats, children pile onto their parents laps for a leisure drive through a festively lit zoo. Ten minutes later, order and decency fly out the window as you enter a giant field of animals: zebras, cows, deer, ostriches, etc. With your recently purchased bag of bread, you do your best to navigate your vehicle near an animal(s). Making a total fool of yourself, you invent animal noises in hopes of seducing one to your car window to feed.

That's the traditional way of doing things. This year, however, we went Blaser style.

Add two more toddlers, a ten year old and Michelle and that would complete the above scene. Relax. The three newborn babies that were with us stayed warm and safe in their car seats in the massive cab of the truck.

Considering the myriad of cars vying for the animals attention, I was a little skeptical that we'd have the opportunity to hand feed anything. Oh Ali of little faith. What was I thinking? Jimmy was driving. A minute after entering the field, we were closing in on this hot mama.

And suddenly, I'm face to face with a massive cow. I become uneasy as I wait for the its large head to move. My inner panic fuels a verbal tirade that's full of stupid puns.

"Holy cow! Mooooooove!" Awkwardly, I simultaneously begin to scream and laugh. Hearing Henry's quiet pleas for home, I realize that my lack of composure is scaring him.

"Don't worry, Henry! Mommy will keep you..." I scream the final word, "SAFE!!!!" I recognize the substance flowing freely from the cows mouth. It's slobber. And it's drenching my leg. My conversation resumes with the cow.

"I promise to 'Eat More Chiken!' (you're welcome Chik-Fil-A)" The encounter soon passes. I clue into Michelle's hearty laughter. My dear friend had been bating the cow with bread that she strategically placed above my head; mysterious connection I held with cow now solved.

Still, as I said in an e-mail I sent her the following day:

"Seriously, I haven't laughed/screamed/cried that hard since giving birth. I loved it. So did the kids."

The night ended with a birthday party for Jimmy. Good times! The weekend prior was likewise filled with merriment. We took the kids to see Tangled. Personally, I loved it. I'm pleased to report that Henry and Lottie were well behaved. It was Eliza who had trouble handling the moments of suspense. But, she bravely persevered and came out singing the movie's praises.

Dec. 17th was the Ward party. After dinner, Santa arrived. After visiting with the children, he joined the kids on the dance floor. That was Eliza's favorite part.
Here's a sampling of their special friends!
The transformation from sugar cookie dough to cookie was a small miracle. Lottie was so kind to cooperate while the kids and I completed that project. The amazing sugar cookie recipe can be found on my favorite cooking blog here.
Henry calls his mouth, his "hole." He loves to show it off. That cute stinker could not keep that dough out of his hole. Despite my plea for him to refrain, he'd curl up on the kitchen chair, turn his face toward the opposite direction of Mom and nibble on his recently swiped piece. Eliza found the frosting and sprinkling of cookies to be another art project. I was grateful she was able to exercise those creative muscles in her brain.

Merry Christmas Eve! I have never been so eager for Christmas Day to arrive. This season has been magic! Kids will give that gift to you. I hope your day is full of love and cheer. Finally, here's a wonderful Christmas video (five minutes) to share with your family. It can be found here. We'll be watching it tonight.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Happy holidays one and y'all

In the glow of colored Christmas lights, a tiny hand delicately rips another strand from the green and red paper chain. Excitement saturates her voice as she counts for the second time the remaining days until Christmas.
....

With dishrags adorning their heads, a brother and sister fetch a bright pink baby cradle.

"I'm Joseph, Mom!" the two year old exclaims. The older daughter chimes in,

"We're playing 'When Jesus was born'!" Forgetting her work, she tunes in to watch her children reenact the nativity.

....

An overly excited wife takes her place next to her spouse. They wait with anticipation for their child's Christmas program to begin. This is a first for them. The smile on the Mother's face is mirrored by the expression of the other parents who have gathered. Finally, their star enters. Finding her Mom and Dad in the crowd, she offers them an enthusiastic wave and a bright smile. And just like that, the chaotic memory of getting all three children out the door that morning is erased.

The family home has become a refuge of warmth from the surprisingly frigid, Southern air. Entering said home, you'd discover that pieces of Christmas have found their way into each room. Even Sherman the Snowman (he updates Santa on the family's behavior) has been known to travel to the bathroom. He appears to be the cure for overly rowdy children playing in the tub. Magic.

The gingerbread... ah, the prepackaged gingerbread. It waits patiently in a... box?

That's it. HALT the yuletide!

(Hanging head in mock-shame) Despite the fact that our gingerbread village came from a box and not the oven, this activity was met with great excitement.


Paper plates? Why yes.
I'm classy like that.

As easy as it is to sugar coat the holidays (*see entire entry), we've had our share of stress. Circumstance and choice have pushed the children and me out the door on errands. Some days the return home feels victorious. On other days, you might find me hiding under a blanket in fetal position, trying to recover from the latest public tantrum.

I won't point fingers (but he will...)


In the land of baby, life is beautiful.
(two months old)

Lottie is sublime. As much as I like words, one thing I can't properly express is how special this baby is to us. I love her very much.
As of today, I'm not in need of a self-help baby guide. But if you happen to have a,

"How to survive your two year old," I'd love a copy!

{Oh dear, I feel myself shifting from "Ode to Lottie" mode to "Ode to Henry"...}

Yes, this is a challenging stage, but Andrew and I have never been more entertained or delighted. Henry is a blend of hilarity, irresistability (not a word, I know) and -u-make-me-want-to-rip-my-hair-out. Not to mention, he's a best friend to Eliza and super smitten with Lottie.

Let the Christmas-ing continue. Next up for us: a visit with Santa, sugar cookies and holiday lights (with a few nightmare trips to Walmart smothered in between).

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Flasers

Oops! We did it again.

(1st edition
Talon + Eliza)


(2nd edition
Lottie + Clayton
five weeks apart)

Or do you prefer "The Blagals"?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Her letter to Santa

It came!
(click to enlarge. or not.)

My four year old wants a roller coaster. Sweet. I'm glad we've taught our daughter to dream big.

*side note: I'm sure proud of how she's learning to use her lower case letters.

Santa received word that our children have a few "pajama parties" coming up. Agreeing with him that it makes sense for them to wear their holiday jammies during the holidays, he kindly had them delivered early. Who needs snow when your children are dancing around in Christmas pajamas? (That's the spirit, Ali!)

Eliza and Henry are doing their best to behave nicely. We have snowman named Sherman. He reports to Santa on how well they're doing. They try hard to impress Sherman. As for me, Henry's taken it upon himself to keep me in line.

When I'm being naughty, a.k.a. am frustrating him beyond belief, he'll yell,

"No, no, no Mommy David Flegal" or sometimes it's just "Mommy David!" followed by a sigh of incredible annoyance.

His middle name is David. It's a shame that he associates it with being in trouble. It's an even greater shame that y'all assume he learned this from me! I swear, Eliza uses his full name too when she's frustrated with the dear child.

As for this little elf,

She's been nothing but nice. Lottie is a wonderful baby. She's cooing. I am so tickled to hear that sweet voice of hers. Shaping her mouth to form an "Oh," she excitedly waits for herself to make a sound. Sometimes the sound comes out, sometimes its her tongue; which happens to be the feature people comment on most when they meet her. Her tongue is long and she sticks it out frequently.

When we're really lucky, this escapes instead.
It's such a joy watching Eliza react to her sister's smiles. I already have what I want for Christmas. I'm so glad Lottie is here.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Deck the halls

"Mom, when is it going to snow?" Eliza asks again. Hearing the familiar request, Henry decides to chime in,

"I want to go swedding."

February 2010

We're crossing our fingers that we'll soon be dusting off our storage bin for a sledding trip. Their hearts are sure set on snow. The South has spoiled us with pleasant weather and we have welcomed it. However, as soon as the Christmas music returns, I start to pine for the snow. Snow is that visual tease that Christmas is right around the corner. For me, "Christmas time" is that magical blend of snow, holiday lights and hot chocolate. Alas.

In lieu of Mother Nature's wintry goodness, my family and I are doing our best to create those special feelings with traditional holiday projects. I begin with my dear spouse.

Getting in touch with his inner Clark Griswald, Andrew decided to go for that extra thrill when hanging our lights. I wasn't nervous until he requested that I come outside every so often, let out a whistle (which is weird because he knows that I can't) and wait for him to whistle a reply.
You can't tell from this picture, but I'm pretty sure he wet his pants.

Meanwhile, Eliza and Henry went to work making cards for the nine soldiers and three missionaries that are serving from our ward. That made for a most memorable family night lesson. Following the card making, we decorated the tree.

Thanksgiving weekend we ventured out (twice) to take family pictures for our Christmas card. It was awesome. Two minutes after sitting ourselves down, we realize that someone (that would be me) forgot to return the memory card to the camera. I was showered. My hair was done. We weren't rescheduling for another day. I thought this one was cute with the exception that we didn't include a most beloved family member.That hurt her feelings.

Despite the beautiful distractions, we found a keeper. Speaking of distractions, I don't know why I have spent so much time thumbing through ads in search of the perfect gifts for our children.

Coming home from a most painful Saturday morning trip to Walmart (Henry and I waited in line 28 minutes. I timed it.), I discovered that Andrew and Eliza had constructed a castle in our absence. Andrew even installed Eliza's flower shaped night-lite inside. It was fancy.

This box has provided three of my children (Andrew, Eliza & Henry) with hours of entertainment.

Eliza added a wreath. I thought that was charming.

When the box is on its side, it transforms into "Tidmouth Sheds."
I'm considering re-gifting this to the family this year. Well, at least I was until Henry decided to claim it as his own. Yesterday, Henry spent the afternoon in his underwear. I was encouraged as I watched him take himself to the potty to "try." You know where this story is headed. Let's just close by saying,

It's all fun and games until someone decides to PEE in the box.