Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Next stop, memory lane.

Friday, December 23, we prepared the children for a night out on the town. It began with our family's first trip aboard (wait for it)... the Front Runner train. Say it with me, folks:

"Ooooh. Awwww!"

It's true. Sometimes we roll fancy. Rushing to purchase our group pass, we literally ran onto the train in an effort to successfully make our departure. Don't worry. We were careful to mind the "danger zones." Eliza a.k.a. 'Captain Safety Pants,' saw to that.

The children were delighted with the experience!! Being on a train brought on feelings of nostalgia as I remembered the first time Eliza and I boarded a train together. As I recollected the happy memories aloud to her, I was surprised as we made the connection that she was the same age that Lottie is now when we made many of those trips.

In preparation for this post, I  gave into the urge to revisit that particular chapter via our blog history link.  Here's a fun little diddy.

Look at how Eliza has grown. Do you think she resembles Lottie? They're different in many ways. For one, look at her pig tails. Oh, if Lottie even knew what it meant to envy the length. Eliza has lighter hair, has blue eyes and didn't have any curl. Lottie has big brown eyes. Her shorter locks are darker and wild. It's hard to have hair that can't make up its mind in deciding what it's about. Not to mention, Lottie is a saucy little thing.(pssst: watch out as I sling a nasty ball of cheese your direction...)

The one similarity are the feelings of deep maternal love that stirs inside my heart when I look at both of my daughters. And at Henry. Fret not, sweet boy, I love you too!

After successfully making a quick connection over to trax, we arrived. Waiting for the sun to set, we made our way into the visitor's center to observe the Christus and wait out the arrival of Andrew's parents and the Jensen family.

Henry was violently opposed to cooperating when it came time for the family photo. He's in the orange coat, hiding behind Andrew. His screams of protest could be heard throughout the crowd. Say it with me. Parenthood is AWESOME. 

With the sun now set and our traveling companions in tow, we made our way through the crowded mass of visitors to enjoy the majesty of the temple and the surrounding lights. It was stunning.

Brent and Katie's twins are adorable. We love them and look forward to watching James and Ellie grow up with Lottie. P.S. Katie you look beautiful.
 Lottie was wide eyed the whole night. She was a content little bundle of warmth and I thank her for putting up with the cold, long outing without fussing.
For those who have been to see the lights at Temple Square, I'm sure that you would easily agree that my photos don't come close to doing the actual scene justice. It was my hope to re-emphasize the real reason for celebrating Christmas. And while we made an attempt to testify of the Savior when those quiet, albeit few, moments presented itself, they were blunt as they informed me that the train ride was way better than seeing the lights. Even so, I'm happy we went.If all our intentions to spiritually feed our children failed, I will console myself with the thought that we had fun spending the time with family and hopefully we have set another tradition (train ride and all) in place for the coming years.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas cookies, Christmas carols

With the help of two special elves, I was able to fulfill one holiday tradition that has become a Flegal favorite. When a giant heap of cookie dough is involved, such an attachment is inevitable.

Hours of cutting and baking plus hours of frosting and sprinkling led to this:

I waited for the children to grow tired of the activity, but they helped up until the last cookie had been frosted. Saturday morning, we bundled the kids and located our meager collection of instruments. As our children jingled their bells and brightly sang their carols to our new neighbors and friends, I melted. It was a happy sight.

Henry has his own holiday tradition he'd like to contribute for the good of all. He'd like to know if you have ever been plagued by the sticky sensations that attack clean hands when trying to eat a candy cane? The discomfort from it all can be distracting and take away from the peppermint goodness. His solution...

Protect your hands with... socks (preferably clean ones)! 

 What a clever fellow.

 Hey! It's Lottie! At 14 months old, she is pretty much the queen of our castle.

Being deemed as the family, "performer," we are having a great deal of fun dressing her up. The attention that ensues is warmly received. Eliza was entirely responsible for the hot pink ensemble. As for me, I kept things on a more serious level as she and I rehearsed a scene from Luke 2:8

"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, 
keeping watch over their flock by night..."

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I lost the bet.

With his folks in charge of the Flegal party this year, Nanna Teresa found herself in need of someone to fill the jolly shoes of Santa Claus. At these parties, he's also known as "The Silly Santa" in case a savvy young child grows suspicious of his thrifty duds and want-to-be beard. Per his Mother's request, Andrew accepted the job. 

On our drive down, Andrew expressed how difficult small talk can be for him. In his defense, I complimented him on how well he'd done whilst conversing with a new acquaintance at a breakfast earlier that morning. I was a referring to conversation he had with a fellow engineer.His response,

"Ali. I can speak engineer." Obviously. I would like to add that he also speaks "fishing" fluently. As for sports, well... let's just say that topic is about as foreign as it comes for my dear spouse.

Anyway, with a list of 60 + names of extended family to visit personally, while dressed as Santa, he had ample practice Saturday night. It was the perfect opportunity.

As for our bet...   
I was certain the children would recognize the "Silly Santa" as their own Dad. Feeling confident in his new role, Andrew trusted they wouldn't discover his true identity.

Andrew was right. Did you hear that babe? I said, YOU WERE RIGHT!!! I was wrong.  (*A rare acknowledgement; I had to make it count!) There wasn't a hint of suspicion from any of them. They had no idea that they were sitting on their own Dad's lap.
 Look at how she is pulling at her pant leg. That's a total sign of awkward unfamiliarity. Right? Hee, hee, hee!

 After concluding his one on one interviews with the group, he entreated the children to join him in a festive rendition of the "Tooty-Tot" song. Eliza was eager to join him as his special helper. I wish I could say that we had a massive crowd of participants, but mostly people just watched as we "performed" this Kindergarten classic.

As we were preparing to leave, Eliza spotted Andrew's Uncle Eddie. Uncle Eddie has an authentic white beard and spends his winter holiday playing the part of Santa Claus professionally at Heritage Park. Tugging at my arm, Eliza points out Uncle Eddie,

"That's him, Mom!" I know what she is referring to. Because I'm telling the truth, I am quick to deny her claim.

"I'm certain of it! That's the man I did the Tooty-Tot song with!" There was such conviction in her voice as she solved a mystery that she didn't know needed to be solved. So, after all that, we went home having the Silly Santa conversation after all.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

a stroll through Christmas village

Tuesday night we had the pleasure of experiencing the merriment of Christmas Village!

 This is a wonderful place to take your kids! The atmosphere is rich with dazzling lights, holiday music, hot chocolate and adorable (tailored for children) Christmas shops. Words can't capture the feeling of hearing small children squeal with delight at the sight of each happy enchantment. 'Magic,' maybe that's the word.

 As an added bonus, we were able to share in the experience with Nana Marie and Papa.

Lottie was likewise thrilled by the all of the lights. A favorite moment of mine was watching her feet bob up and down under a heap of blankets to the music. Her mitten covered hands were also busy pointing at the things that caught her fancy.

Another (unplanned) highlight was meeting Santa Claus.
The line was short, so we jumped in with Henry leading the way. Without a spec of hesitation, Henry climbed into his lap and proceeded to silently stare. He was in awe.
Our dear boy was speechless. When asked what treasure he'd like for Christmas, he just quietly whispered, "Ummmm" over and over. Eliza, on the other hand, when the question was directed at her...
...raced through her mentally prepared wish-list! It was like she'd been swimming under water for a long time and had just come up for air. She made her answer count! 
Lottie, content as she was in her bundle of blankets, stayed tucked away in her stroller. Looking back, I wish we had taken her out. Hopefully, we'll find another opportunity for her to visit with St.Nick. 
Santa was fabulous, but the real star of the night was Eliza!
We were shocked when we learned that she'd be performing on an outdoor stage. Seriously, a heads up from her studio would have been appreciated. Nevertheless, it was pretty special to watch her dance on that spectacular stage. 

 Here she is, the moment before it was her turn to perform.
Luckily, her best pal Elizabeth was there to keep her company as they waited in the cold! Aren't they cute? We're sure grateful to be neighbors with her family!

They did a wonderful job! I video taped her performance and at some point, I forgot that I was filming as you will notice that I suddenly begin to tape the ground. My apologies!

Again, to my Mom and Dad, thanks again for braving the cold to share in this special night with us! Eliza loved seeing you in the audience as she waited for her turn to perform and both kids expressed how fun it was driving with you to the village.

a happy homecoming

He's home!

I wasn't kidding when I said that Lottie started walking in the 10 days that Andrew was gone. Here she is, really walking to her Daddy for the first time!

 Eliza and Henry are really happy to have him back too!
So am I!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Day 9: sky scraping

Dear Andrew,

Skype-ing [or "sky scraping," as Eliza would say] with you today was wonderful! I am glad that your schedule finally allowed for the kids to have a few moments with you. Lottie's enthusiastic reaction surprised me. I know that she loves you, but I wasn't expecting her to glue herself to my lap to accommodate her want to see you. Her continued wave and happy blabber at your sudden appearance was the highlight of my day. Of course, while you've been gone, she finally decided that walking is her new preferred method of transport. I was happy that you were able to catch a glimpse of her adorable toddle.

I'm still trying to interpret Henry's unexpected reaction. Rather than staying put at the computer where we were all situated, he ran to the garage door to greet you. Somehow, hearing your voice and seeing your face meant that you were FINALLY home from work. He hasn't been vocal about your absence, but judging by his intense excitement as he rushed toward the garage yelling,

"He's home!! Daddy is home!" I think it's fair to say that he's definitely missing his Daddy.

Eliza was quick to retrieve the artwork that she had previously left for you on your nightstand and inside your lunch box... two places she knows they won't be missed. Don't be surprised if you come home and find additional love letters tucked near the toilet paper rolls of the bathroom as she is aware that it possibly could be your favorite room in the house. (Ba ha-ha ha).

The additional hours this project has required has been great. It has occupied your weekends, canceled a family vacation and taken you to Florida. Even so, it has also provided you the opportunity to showcase your talent and high level of commitment. Your work ethic continues to inspire me to make the most of my time at home with our children. So for that, I tip my hat to you and say, "Thank you."

I confess that I am thankful that traveling isn't a common occurrence because:
  1. Nagging you in person is way better than doing it over the phone and
  2. I am a huge sissy when it comes to turning off lights (especially basement lights), securing the doors (all four of them) and making sure there are zero monsters under our children's beds. When it comes time to tuck myself in, I pretty much run to bed.When something is out of place, at night especially, it makes my heart beat fast.
Speaking of things out of place, last night I found our sweet five year old slumbering in our bed. For the first time in her life, I allowed her to stay the night. The only "disturbance" came when I woke up at 3:00 a.m. to find that she was awake and scratching my back. Cute, right? You better hurry home, or you might find that I have found a replacement. ;)

As for the weekend, you'll never guess what the kids did Saturday...

They did a little artwork! I know. You're shocked. They also played outside for a bit. It was nice to see them enjoy the refreshing (read: polluted by inversion) air. 

But if you were to ask them, even better than painting was going to Nana Marie's for Grandma day. Having made each grandchild their own house, the kids got busy decorating them with an assortment of colorful candies. Eliza and Henry were thrilled with the activity.

Playing with cousins and pizza followed.


It doesn't get much better than that... unless, you get to take three cousins home with you for an even longer evening of play as part of a beautiful date night exchange you have going with your sister. It's seriously the greatest.

{Thank you Nana Marie for the ginger bread houses, the Christmas pillow cases and for the support you've lent while Andrew's been away.}

We love and miss you dearly.. Hurry home.