Sunday, November 27, 2011


My Indian chiefs (we have two chiefs at our house) were just fine when I informed them that we'd be celebrating Thanksgiving early this year. Elilza endorsed the plan as she assumed that as soon as those plates were washed and dried, the world would officially be in full on Christmas mode.
After three years away, it was wonderful to be seated around my Mom's table, working in her kitchen and listening to the happy voices of a full set of cousins. 

Because she's magic, my Mom sprinkled in an extra dose of special for the grand kids. She prepared a fun cupcake craft, gifted each of them a chocolate advent calendar counting down to Christmas and bravely hosted a rowdy game of the pin the tail on the turkey! 
Speaking of turkeys... the Flegal's have a lot to be grateful for. After reviewing our feathers, I'm prepared to share our respective lists.

This year we are thankful for: 

  • a warm house
  • Henry is a good eater
  • Eliza is a good helper
  • the mountains
  • mom is such a good cook
  • my children
  • my family
  • Eliza was very helpful without being asked.
  • I am thankful for Daddy's job and for being able to stay at home with my kids.
  • healthy bodies
  • The Gospel of Jesus Christ
  • friends, old and new
  • Living in Utah (I have a few additions:)
  • Grateful for children who play so well together
  • Eliza's artwork 
  • Henry's laugh
  • Lottie's cuddles
  • Dates with Daddy
  • Sunday naps
  • I love my family
  • I am thankful to be able to go to school
  • thankful my last name is Flegal
  • My mom is not a monster
  • Music class on Tuesday
  • Thankful for birthdays
  • love
  • playing with my friends
  • playing with my friends (he said that one twice)
  • going to my school
  • my blue blankie
  • my mom is nice
  • spider rings make me happy
Lottie (we took the liberty):
  • snacks in my high chair
  • Mom juice 
  • Eliza and Henry make me laugh
  • When Daddy comes home
  • cuddles with blankie and binki
Thanksgiving weekend we had to cancel our plans to join Andrew's family in St. George as he was needed at work Friday and Saturday. 
We were understandably disappointed.

Bowling with the McAllister side of the family on Thursday, seeing Breaking Dawn with my Mom, watching the parade and another wonderful family dinner at my Mom's cleared the sadness. 

At the bowling alley's play center:
Eliza watching the parade:
Strike a pose, Eliza. 

Thanksgiving evening was low key in comparison to the previous weekend's celebration.As I basked in the feelings of contentment the calm atmosphere provided, I took the time to silently account for each of my blessings. Certainly we aren't immune from life's challenges, but I feel that my cup of joy is full to the brim. The love of my family brings me great happiness. Continuing on with my little analogy, as I watch my children love one another and as I listen to their observations (the humorous or profound), my happiness spills over. God is great! To Him, we owe everything.

"Are you done yet Mom? Sheeeesh!"

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A top 9 list.

Lessons learned from black Friday shopping.

1. The people who say that shopping online is superior to braving the insane crowds at midnight are 100% right. You'd think after three children, I would have adapted to a more nocturnal lifestyle. This is not the case. Shopping in the wee hours of the morning is not natural. Staying awake past my bedtime makes my face hurt.

2. Hunting for black Friday deals is better done in pairs/groups. It's a lonely affair, traveling down the interstate in a van that is completely void of the happy (and sometimes unhappy) sounds of small children.You'd think I would have welcomed the time to myself, but such a thing is hard to appreciate when you're tired. Sad fact: on the drive home, I knew exactly where I was going but I confess to turning on the GPS for the sake of having some form of company. Label me pathetic.  

3. Continuing with the importance of having strength in numbers, I found myself carefully observing the 'professionals' as they calmly sipped their hot chocolate as we waited outside in the cold for the doors to open. I imagined that they were doing a mental warm-up of sorts as they quietly discussed strategy. One team member would head straight for the check out line, as their partner made the immediate rounds. Dropping their first batch of prized product, they would tag out their partner so they could have the opportunity to snatch up additional items. Brilliant. 

4. I learned that the 'holiday season' begins for most radio stations on black Friday. While driving to Kohls (my store of choice - Kohls cash is a fabulous incentive), the music playing was typical, unheralded. Returning to my car post midnight, each segment was now noticeably marked with the chiming sounds of jingle bells and the hearty and happy wish to have a happy holiday season!

5. Don't take your kids with you! I apologize for expressing parental judgement, but it just makes your heart a little sad when you see Henry sized children curled up on the display beds, trying desperately to block it all out.

6. Go to the bathroom before you head out. With all of those tag teaming crazies jumping in line with their friends at that last second, your wait to check out is easily doubled. 

7.  Do yourself a favor and lay off the turkey! Or, if possible, squeeze in a solid nap before venturing out. My body was still laced with the sleep inducing haze brought on by the slices of turkey I'd consumed that evening. 

8. Before making a yearly habit of this ridiculous (and possibly addictive) practice, make sure that your husband does not have to go into work the next day at 6:00 a.m. The wake-up call the following morning was nothing short of brutal.

9. In addition to securing yourself a solid stretch of sleep, plan to go with friends! Make it a girls night. Pretend your 17 again. Laugh, be merry and enthusiastically congratulate each other on the scored deals. Oh wait, didn't I already say that?

I haven't decided if my take home treasure was worth the chaos. But I will confess that swiping the second to last 'Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Musical Activity Walker' from the shelf made me feel GOOD! I made friends with the people who had the "fortune" of being stuck in line next to me which helped pass the time. The shoppers were polite and courteous considering the outrageous shopping conditions and the employees were well prepared, so kudos to them.

What are your thoughts? If you shop the crazy hours, is it for the experience, the deals or both? Did any of my beloved readers work the night of Black Friday? What was that like? Can someone tell me why some people take the time to completely glamatize themselves before going? Is that a form of shopper intimidation?

Or... are you among those smart enough to score the same deals from the comfort of your home? If so, aren't you the least bit curious to taste the insanity? If so, give me a call next year.  

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Most thankful for...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011

I'm watching you!

Tis the season for Moms and Dads to cash in on the most beautiful (and effective) of warnings.

"You need to behave. Santa's elves are watching you."  In an effort to further ingrain said message, we sing the familiar words from, 'Santa Claus is Coming to Town': 

"... He sees you when you're sleeping
He knows when you're awake"

 To that, Eliza responds:

"I see you too!"

"Bring it Santa."

(*Eliza's special friend presented her with a belated Halloween goodie bag last night. In the mix were these lovely glasses that she apparently couldn't part with last night. Walking in to check on her last night with Andrew, we find her snoozing peacefully in above featured position. The combined sound of our stifled laughter is for me, parenthood at its best.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Singing Her Praises (it's what Mom's do.)

It's been an eventful couple of weeks for Eliza Grace Flegal!


Last Sunday she participated in the primary program. Eliza did a superb job reciting her part. Despite the fact that I was suffering in a silent storm of rage, I was very proud of her. 

Yes, it's true. Crazed emotion and the expected feelings of Sabbath day peace and rejuvenation can not co-exist. As a program participant myself, I was aware of where she would be sitting on the stand; therefore, I reserved our bench accordingly. With the program being the last meeting of our three hour block, I was suddenly excused from the morning practice due to a need for extra help with the nursery children. 

Upon my return, I learn three minutes before the start of the meeting that Eliza's seating assignment was changed. Our formerly stellar view of her was gone as she was now completely blocked by the podium. I was heartbroken. All of my careful planning was spoiled. Had I not been in nursery, I would have remedied the situation. Time was now out. Knowing my Mom was making the 40 minute drive to attend added salt to my wound as I stressed over her (lack of) view. 

Meanwhile, Andrew takes the news in stride. Wanting to emphasize my crazy, he shields any feelings of disappointment he may have. I'm still trying to rinse the bitter taste from my mouth. Don't worry. Andrew has clearly voiced your opinion that I'm over reacting. Chalk it up to lack of maturity on my part or insane devotion to my child and her precious facial expressions.
Despite everything, Nana Marie enjoyed the program. It meant so much to Eliza to have her there.  

My mood lifted when Church was over. How's that for ironic? I'm an advocate for attending Church; I'm just equally passionate about ensuring that primary children can be seen by their loved ones during the yearly program.

A game of Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders followed our afternoon meal... it really was a nice day.

 The school week began with the arrival of Eliza's first report card. It was perfect... straight 4's. I'm not sure what happened to the good ole fashioned, "A, B & C" method, but it seems to have been replaced.

Let the good news parade continue! Eliza was chosen as the Student of the Month from her class. Her name hangs in lights in the main hallway of the school. That's fancy.

The promises of a special congratulations from the principal and her very own water bottle with the school logo (filled with treats) are hers to claim at the end of the month. Way to go Eliza!!

Have I reached my quota for all things obnoxious yet? Don't answer that, because we're not done. Last week, I learned that her last minute reflections entry was one of the top five chosen from the visual arts category to compete at the district level. Earning an "Award of Excellence" and a trophy that bears her name this evening had her beaming brightly all night long.

Andrew and I are super proud of her. She is truly a special girl. Being Eliza's Mom brings me great joy!

I love you, Eliza!

Friday, November 11, 2011

the little snow plow that could

(Returning to last Saturday...)

Pulling into the driveway after spending the morning at his office, Andrew returns home to find that his yard is a canvas of white. Eager for the opportunity to play with his kids outside, he hurries in to find that they are minutes away from being ready to go play.

(Let it snow!
Andrew shakes the tree, 
covering Eliza and himself 
in a fresh blanket.)

 After having their fill, the children retreat indoors in hopes of finding their Mom ready with a mug of hot chocolate. 

Needing to work out the knots of stress in his brain, Andrew disappears into his man cave. The third car garage may have been the selling point that tipped the scale back in my favor during the great house debate of 2011. It's his happy place. He jokes about adding a lazy boy recliner next to his work bench to complete the room. Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if that eventually happens.

It is his play room. Hours have been accumulated working on a motor for his fishing boat, assembling toys for the kiddos and bringing back to life a small snow blower we inherited years ago, among other activities. Even though he'd been successful in bringing to life the snow blower, he has deemed it inadequate for our future snow removal needs. He'll hang onto it, of course, because you never know when he'll decide to dissect its parts for future projects.

The thick layer of snow that covers our patio has him convinced that being without an adequate snow blower, let alone a shovel, is problematic.

 In recent weeks, he's kept a close eye on the snow blowers that are for sale on KSL. He stalks the KSL classifieds. He loves them; especially the FREE section. The possibilities, kids... are endless. While singing its praises, one particular statement he made stood out to me.

"It's like garage selling in your underwear!"

Sadly, he learns that afternoon that the snow blower he's had his eye on has "just been sold." Disappointing, we know. It would seem that snow storms tend to bring about the sale of snow blowers (shocker!). Looking for a plan B, he pins down an idea that's been floating around his brain. Settling into his haven of concrete, he begins to tinker.

Hours pass. His absence is felt, but knowing how insanely busy (not an exaggeration) work has been, I leave him be. He needs this break. While editing photos, I hear a tap at the back door. Looking up, I see my personal, 'Frosty the Lumber Jack' peering through the glass door. He is wearing a huge smile.

And it came to pass... 

With the aid of our retired (read: demoted) lawn mower, flashy blue wire and a piece of good ole fashioned wood, he successfully made his own snow plow.
Clever fellow.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Tell me. What's white and really fun to crumple?

In a 'Salt Lake minute'

 everything can change.

 But first, we had to run to Target to buy snow pants.

As we drive, Eliza begins to articulate my thoughts aloud. Taking in the overwhelming scene of white, she simply shares,

"Snow is so pretty." And then, after a brief moment she sweetly adds, "It reminds me of heaven." I let that sink in until she states in a matter of fact tone,

"It NEVER snows in Texas. Not ever." Without offending those we love in Texas, I have to say this made me laugh as the implication she didn't intend to make made me think of H.E. double hockey sticks. Mrs. Arnow, as it turns out, is a Texas native. She is also the other Kindergarten teacher at Eliza's school. This week she explained to Eliza's class the differences in both topography and climate between Utah and Texas - which explains Eliza's train of thought.

Continuing on with misinterpreted communication, I offer another funny. This one comes courtesy of Henry.

At dinner last night, I begin to share with Andrew the plot of my current read. The central character, Jacob Hunt, has Asperger's Syndrome. Without wanting to over generalize on a topic I know little about, I do my best to relay what I've learned, based on the author's research. In other words, I share the traits exhibited by the fictional character. A few minutes pass and our conversation is placed on hold, as so many of them are, due to the needs of our children.

Fast forward to bed time. Andrew joins the rest of the family in Henry's bedroom. He has just collected the children's toothbrushes. Handing me Eliza's, I realize that Andrew is complaining.

"I bet it was Henry." Andrew's playing detective. "He's a crumpler." He says accusingly. That word clues me into the topic he's busy muttering over: toilet paper.

*If you can't stomach bathroom related subjects, I suggest you skip this last part (Aunt D, I'm looking at you!)*

Andrew won't deny that he feels that he is somewhat superior over the fact that he neatly folds his toilet paper. He looks down on those who crumple. What a waste. What a lack of efficiency! So he thinks.

Joining the conversation, I stick up for Henry.

"Actually babe, it was Eliza. She just used the bathroom." A look of pain crosses his face.

"Oh no. She's a crumpler too?!" What has the world come to, indeed. Locating Eliza, I reiterate for the tenth time that day,

"Eliza! You need to remember to flush the toilet."

"No," Andrew chimes in. "She needs to remember to put the toilet paper she's used IN the potty and then flush it." Surprised and disgusted, I shoot Andrew a silent look of,

"Really? So gross." Thinking back to our earlier conversation, I say on the side,

"I bet the character in my book neatly folds his toilet paper. Precision and organization can be a trait of Aspergers." Cue Henry.

"Ass Boogers? ... Eww gross!" Even though Henry doesn't not associate that word with a bum (ass is not a word used at house, ever.) we can't help but laugh (and laugh and laugh). And because Andrew can't help himself, he inappropriately ties the two conversations together.

"Ass boogers... Is that what you call the stuff that's wiped on the toiler paper?"

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Death by Chocolate

Whilst on the phone with my Mom today, the verbal waterfall that is my conversing mouth suddenly ceased after she asked the question:

"What kind of Mom are you?"

... .... ... Say what?!

Have my personal self evaluations grown loud? Not quite. Turns out, she was curious about whether or not I ration my children's intake of Halloween candy or if I let them inhale it at a pace that they deem suitable {ding, ding, ding!!}. Wanting to pad the confession just a tad, I shamelessly reply:

"Oh, you know. I pretty much let them eat what they want. Just like you let us when we were kids."

After all, Halloween is exciting! In the 5th grade, I remember walking home the day after Halloween. In my mind, I could visualize my pillowcase full of my sweetest treasures, safely concealed from my brothers in my closet. I couldn't walk home fast enough. With that being said, I appreciate that my kids woke this morning eager to rummage through their pumpkin pails.After watching them eat a proper breakfast , I allowed Eliza a piece (or two, or three) before leaving for school. And yes, I made sure she brushed her teeth before we left.

Adding to my defense, I told my Mom that their pumpkins were currently up on the fire place mantle, out of their reach, as my living room floor had been flooded by candy wrappers. In addition, my son had just passed out from what I diagnosed as being a chocolate over dose (read: he fell asleep with a descent sized piece of chocolate in his mouth). Both were major hints that perhaps we ought to lay off the sugar for awhile.

Self incrimination at its best: Henry sleeping in a pool of chocolate drool.
Sweet dreams are sure to come to those who fall asleep eating chocolate. 
And perhaps the possibility of needing the Heimlich maneuver.

Waking up from his chocolate induced coma wasn't easy. It was the promise of a cup of ice water that lured him back to the present.
Playing the part of family puppy, Lottie picked up his scent and tried desperately to pick a piece off of his face for herself.
She loves chocolate too. Henry's not the only one enjoying the sugar high around these parts. Just look at those glazed over eyes. 

As if it's not already totally apparent, ... I do Halloween so much better than New Years.