Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Flegal First: A trip to the Emergency Room

You can breathe easy. Everyone is fine. Well, except my husband who has already suffered a nervous breakdown in regards to the impending hospital bill. Transition mode is awesome when you don't have your new health insurance card. The insurance specialist at the hospital had no choice but to place us in the "self-pay" category. It's a mess that will eventually be sorted through, but the important thing is Henry's fine.

Yes. It was Henry. His stellar instinct combined with my neglectful parenting landed him in the emergency room after he swallowed a dime. While collecting his shoes in preparation for an outing to the movie theater, I hear a surprised Eliza ask,

"Henry? Did you just swallow your money?" I dart to where the pair of them are standing. His expression of fear and confusion efficiently answer her question. It's too late for me to swipe for it. I feel a mixture of relief and panic. He is breathing fine, but his increasing agitation leads me straight to the telephone.

For the first time in my life I dial 911.

"Um, hello. I think this is an emergency, but I'm not sure? My three year old just swallowed a coin." According to Eliza it was dime. As the operator makes plans to send someone to my Mom's house, my mother in law arrives. I tell them to wait on that. To reassure the operator, I promise to call back if he starts to struggle with his breathing. After counseling with Teresa and the pediatrician's office, it's decided that I'll take the younger two kids up to Primary Childrens Hospital. On the way, I pick up Katie from the University of Utah to help me with Lottie. Her calm demeanor is what my frazzled, "I can't believe this is happening" nerves needed.

I get it. It was a dime. JUST A DIME. Still, it was a new experience, totally unexpected and the medical professionals on the phone scared me as they discussed directions the dime may have traveled. After an X-ray session that involved my partially naked, fully reluctant child; it was determined that the dime was in the best place possible. They anticipate it will make a "natural" exit within a day or two. According to the doctors, it was a mellow day in the E.R. which is why the the visit only lasted three and a half hours. In fact, our longest wait was for the Doctor to confirm what the nurse practitioner had already explained. In addition to assuring us he was fine, he left us with a charming joke that I'd like to "pass" onto you. And I quote:

"It's not required that you look for the dime. However, if you decide too, just look to see if his stools have changed."

Ba-dum-CHING!!

A few pictures: Here we have Henry examining his ultra cool wristband. Would you believe me if I told you that two days later he's still wearing it? It's true. Aunt Katie (who is expecting twins!) helps us pass the time! Thanks again, Katie! Thanks to Nana Marie for picking up Katie and Lottie while Henry and I wait for the x-ray/consultation. I will admit that the one on one time with my little pal was nice. Next time, we'll opt for a different venue. Deal?To reinforce the lesson that we don't put coins in our mouth, we visited the beautiful fountain on our way to the car. As for Eliza, she spent the afternoon with Nanna Teresa. The pair of them went out for a movie, did a little shopping (yay dollar store!) and went to "Old McDonalds" for dinner. According to Eliza, it was the "best day ever!"

In other news, Eliza started preschool again!
New Kid at School

After walking her to school, we met her new teacher. While Miss Hillary showed us around the classroom, a little girl approached Eliza. Without saying a word, she grabbed Eliza's hand and led her to a corner to play. It wasn't long until a group of new friends had her surrounded. Giving me a smile, Eliza gives me a thumbs up which is code for: I'm okay now, Mom. You can leave. She's home by 11:30 which leaves plenty of time for Henry to have his fill of her. As for me, I miss her, but watching her run around the playground with a new little friend during preschool pickup sure made me happy.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Bittersweet

Seeing that this is my fourth attempt to tackle this topic, it's fair to say that I'm having a difficult time conveying the emotional turmoil associated with our decision to return to Utah. For me, writing is easiest when it's propelled by one emotion. With that being said, I blame my current aversion to blogging on my vacillating mood. Two minutes into typing, an unexpected feeling surfaces and demands to be dealt with. I apologize in advance for my messy thoughts. The contrast in emotion confuses and frustrates me. And while my head is advising that I keep my feet rooted in denial, my heart inexplicably requires that I owe it to who knows what that I record the memory of saying goodbye - no matter the incoherency.

The happiness attached to the permanent reunion to family is obvious. On the flip side, saying "goodbye" to a batch of friends that were nothing short of heaven sent stings beyond measure. And while we loved our home, the beautiful weather, the entertaining accent and endearing Southern catch phrases, it's the relationships formed that we grieve for most. Forgive me if I sound like a want-to-be shrink, but I'm doing my best to delay the "coping process." Instead, I'm pretending that we're in Utah on vacation. In a matter of days we'll be collecting the necessities for our airplane carry on items in preparation for our return back to that happy little Boiling Springs life.

Sharing the news of Andrew's upcoming job interview with my Mom was an early Christmas present. The anticipation surrounding the interview process was thick and exciting. However, after wrapping up an encouraging conversation with her, it wasn't long until I found myself on the phone with Michelle. Suddenly I was issuing statements of pessimism that this job wouldn't work out, that it was simply interview experience that we were gaining and that our plans to vacation at the beach in a couple months would most definitely come to pass.

January came and Andrew departed for Salt Lake. As he shared the positive feedback with our parents firsthand, my friends were spending their weekend date night playing games with me. Knowing I was juggling the kids on my own, they provided the mental outlet I needed which reaffirmed for the zillionth time the awesome nature of our bond.

At Church, following the final interview, Michelle approaches Andrew in the hallway.

"Hey Andrew. I hear the interview went well." She says. Pausing to shift her expression from a smile into an unfriendly glare she exclaims,

"Not cool!"

February I experienced for the first time the "joy" of getting a home ready to show. The emotional roller coaster of selling a home began. An appointment for a buyer to walk through would be made. We'd rejoice. The frenzy we felt to ensure its perfection masked the tedious and repetitive tasks of dusting, vacuuming and toilet bowl scrubbing. I'll never forget how it felt to get a call requesting to see the home on short notice. They wanted to come within the hour. I pleaded for more time and was given 30 additional minutes. Holding true to a promise that I'd never deny a showing, I frantically called my husband and begged him to head from work early. My kids were troopers as I full on neglected them during those moments of preparation (read: HYSTERIA).

Even with the black for sale sign in our front yard, I opted to ignore the huge change that was looming on the horizon. Eliza still had preschool. Doctor appointments and trips to the dentist were still on our schedule. The Bachelor was still on every Monday night. You get the idea.

March arrived. The fact that time was running out could no longer be ignored. I picked Eliza up from preschool for the last time.

Westminster Day School
Miss Mitzi & Miss Tina


Our final outings to the Greenville zoo and children's museum came and went.


I bid farewell to the Rowdy Readers (my awesome book club) and indulged in two nights out with my lady friends. The night we went to Fatz Cafe, I was given a beautiful charm bracelet that serves as a reminder of their friendship. In true, Ali "Let's make this as awkward as possible" Flegal fashion, I went around the table and shared a memory or something I admired about each of the 15 women who were there. The age spectrum of these friends ranged from early twenties to mid sixties. It was a great night.

The fun continued the following weekend when a few friends and I went out for pedicures before joining our husband's at Outback. Games at our house followed. I suppose I ought to mention that in between dinner and games, we received a call from the babysitter that Colby threw up on Henry (awesome!), but I want to keep up with the illusion that our fairy tale life was absolutely drama-free so I'll spare you the details.

Another "going away" highlight included a dinner at the Kitchen's home. Dale and Loranna are a great couple and we're lucky to count them as friends. We were socially spoiled and perfectly supported by these associations.

If you're familiar with my blog, you are familiar with the Blasers. Michelle was the first best thing about living in South Carolina. Her status of "being the best thing" in terms of friendship and support held firm. Pretty sure I'd give an arm and a leg to have them in Utah with us. Considering my "profession," those appendages are dearly valued. Basically, that's a really terrible way of saying that the Lord preserved one of my greatest friends for life in the South. The first day we met, we learned that she and I grew up a few minutes from each other. Months later, she was looking through a high school scrapbook and discovered an old flame in one of my dance pictures. Small world. Still, our paths weren't meant to cross until 2008.

Her zest for life gave me the confidence I needed to venture out with my two small children. Together we conquered story time, Mom's club activities, park outings, Monkey Joes, McDonalds, shopping malls, Costco (you get the idea). To be fair, occasionally we suffered through these activities based on our children's behavior but it was always manageable and enjoyable because I knew she had my back. To have a friend know me so well and STILL answer when I call is priceless. Jimmy, her mate, was likewise one of my favorite people to hang out with. What a gem of a guy. I'll never forget the time he rescued me from a Walmart parking lot after locking myself out of my car. He also taught me that there's "no crying in baseball." Thanks Jimmy. I'll try my best to forever avoid that sport.

Michelle's objective in life is to have fun and help everyone. She is down to earth, talented in all things craft, was one amazing Primary president and the coolest Mom ever. If you find yourself far away from family and adjusting to something entirely new; pray for your Michelle Blaser to come into your life. Sorry, though. You can't have mine.

I feel like a lost puppy. When I wake up and think through my day, I wonder what Michelle and company are up too. This still crosses my mind. For a moment, I lie to myself and wonder when we can get our kids together. That's when the ache returns.

Another moment of sadness passed with the arrival of our vehicles. I saw the number "28" on the wind shield of my van that was used this year to indicate that I was Eliza's Mom when picking her up from preschool and immediately that lump in my throat returned. Here's another lame trigger. A new Chik-Fil-A (a true Southern symbol) opened nearby. I met with family there for lunch last week. Sad thing was, I couldn't find those four blond haired boys in the play area. I knew I'd miss Michelle, but what's caught me off guard is my attachment to Talon, Colby, Nate & Clay.

Michelle and Jimmy reminded Andrew and me of the importance of dating. With their encouragement we hired babysitters and spent weekends laughing and enjoying a few hours away from the kids. Through them, we came to know and love the Fletchers - a family we'd always admired and respected. But oh. They're awesome. Chris Fletcher is someone I wish I'd bonded with a year sooner. She's a great listener. And when I needed it, she had the advice I needed. Not to mention, she has one of the best laughs on planet earth.

Michelle and I continued to put off the final goodbye. When the Blaser's came over for the last time, I had to fetch my sunglasses (9:00 pm. at night) to hide my ever leaky eyes. The kids carried on as usual, not completely aware that this usual play-date was their last for awhile. Because she's one of the most thoughtful people on planet earth, she left us with these parting gifts.They drove away a little after nine. And then I fell apart.

"I thought she wanted to move home" I heard Andrew say to his Mother. In his voice, I could hear that, "I just can't win with her" tone.

Earlier that day, I'd picked Teresa up from the Greenville airport. She was kind enough to help the children and me with our flight. Watching her interact with Lottie as we made our way to the airport was the balm my aching heart craved. Her presence not only aided in the tricky logistics involved when flying with three small children, but was a physical reminder of why we were giving up a life that had been so rich with blessings.

And while our friends were an important facet of our life's happiness, there are other pieces to our story that deserve mention. Our Church provided great moments of joy. Clearly, I'm a sap. I won't deny it. However, I have to say that Andrew has also had his moments of crazy. On the morning of his release from the Young Men's program, he kind of had a meltdown. Imagine the emotion surging through a girl's camp testimony meeting and times it by 10. That was my sweet husband. He loved the boys he worked with.
The preschool co-op I was apart of was a definite accomplishment for me. The effort put into those lessons and the fun we had made me proud of the work I was doing as a Mom. I want to feel that again and hope to find a group of women as dedicated to share in another experience like that for Henry this fall. Loranna, Amber, Becky (hollah!), Michelle and Stephanie became great friends through that experience.

Our home.I don't know how to articulate the feelings I have for our home. I loved it and the memories that were created there. It's where Henry learned to walk, Lottie came home from the hospital, family and friends came to visit, we fed the missionaries, we grew a garden, we built snowmen, ran through sprinklers and got to know our neighbors.
Like Germany, I had to learn to rely on Andrew for just about everything. I feel comfort knowing that he can relate to the mixture of emotions I'm experiencing. He shared this with me. He witnessed this chapter of my life. He held my hand through hard times and jumped up and down with me during the moments of triumph. Together we're raising a family. And we really got the hang of it in South Carolina.

His continued success in the workplace ought to have been mentioned on the blog, but his humility over things like promotions and pay raises prevented such posts. He did the impossible by finding a job to move us back home. His work ethic puts me to shame and I really kick myself at times when I find myself guilty of taking such a person for granted. I truly love him and find courage knowing that this next chapter will be spent loving and challenging one another as before.

The feelings of sadness are unavoidable. In a strange way, I'm grateful. To me, these emotions testify to the fact that we did our best with the time we had in South Carolina. And while returning to Utah was always part of our "plan" - there are times when it feels like it was premature. The experience came and went in a blink. It's shocking to see how they have grown and changed since 2008. Henry was younger than Lottie is now when we left. They are the reason we decided to act on this opportunity to return to Utah.

In South Carolina, I would spend hours on the phone with my Mom. I would detail the humorous conversations I had with my children, the unfortunate public tantrum or the mundane occurrences of the day. And now, I feel great pleasure as I overhear my Mom share a funny Eliza-ism with another member of our family. She was there, firsthand, to enjoy her say:

"Mom, I never want my dreams to come true." The children were watching Cinderella. In the background I hear Cinderella singing, "A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes." Feeling surprised and a little sad at her declaration, I quickly ask:

"Why?"

"Because, at night, I have the scariest dreams ever!"

I had to smile yesterday when she told me that she wanted Lottie because, "she hadn't had a chance to hold her all day." After months of not having a chance to hold her, I love that it's a daily thing.

So dear friend, if you've survived this post, you can see the unique situation of celebration/sadness we find ourselves in.The moving truck driving away

The commonality between the two places is gratitude. We feel blessed. Let's just hope that a strong dose of patience arrives soon as we wait out the sale of our home. I'm trying to tone down the eagerness I feel to settle. The past few weeks of limbo have been spent with special people. And for that, we're lucky.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Going Green

Dear Henry,

I'm sorry to say that your third birthday was spent bonding with a bowl.

...and Daddy's Ipod. But let's keep that part between you and me, okay?

Two days before your birthday we moved from South Carolina to Utah. That memory will likely eclipse the illness that clouded your special day... but who knows for sure. I still remember what happened after you turned one. Let's not let this be a tradition. Deal?!

On Sunday, we did our best to make up for the birthday that Eliza officially deemed as being "the worst birthday ever!" After Church, your cousins came over to play, we ate dinner, sang to the birthday boy and opened gifts. When it was all said and done you gasped,

"Mom, I had a birthday!"

The festivities continued on St. Patrick's Day when your Mom turned 27. Your dear Nanna Teresa hosted a leprechaun gold hunt, but before we went, I received a lovely surprise. My dear friend Michelle sent her cute, Utah based, sister to our house with a special little message and a bouquet of flowers. I'll be honest. I cried. I've been missing Michelle and her cute boys in a big way. It was so thoughtful and kind of Kara to come on her behalf. My forever thoughtful friend absolutely made my day.

After a quick stop to the little clinic to confirm that you did not have pink eye, we headed over to the festival of green. After a brunch that included green pancakes, fruit and sausage, the hunt began!

Nanna Teresa and Aunt Katie, I mean the leprechauns, spray painted rocks gold and filled eggs with tiny treasures for the children to enjoy. After exchanging their "gold" for a bag of treasures, Nanna Teresa gave you more presents. Cupcakes followed.

Happy Birthday dear Henry! You bring us so much joy! I love you very much and will forever be grateful to be your Mom.

Love,
Mama

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sitting on a secret the size of Texas aint easy

... especially when you have a mouth as big as mine. And it must be stated that this secret wasn't simply kept for fun. It was necessary that Andrew's former employer remain "in the dark" until he was ready to deliver the news that he'd be resigning.

In response to the questions we've received, here's a brief(?) explanation on how this massive change came to pass.

Last summer, Andrew began searching for jobs closer to family. Knowing his extremely pregnant wife wasn't in the "mood" to gear up for a huge change, he kept the search casual. I didn't anticipate or hope that something would work out right away. Early December, Andrew and I decide to postpone the job search until Spring. Things were going really well at work, we were still adjusting to life with our newest family member and we thought it would be wise to sell our home prior to accepting a job, etc.

And then life happened.

Despite our "plans," Andrew continued to peruse the job listings. A week before Christmas, he comes across a job description that fits. Confident that he meets the qualifications, he submits his resume. And just like that, I find myself crawling, in true James Bond fashion, in the upstairs hallway to the closed door where the first phone interview is taking place. While listening to Andrew's responses through the door, my heart begins pounding. I can tell that it's going well. An invitation to interview in person is made. He accepts. And I begin to freak out a little.

Celebrating the holidays, we carry on with life as usual. A month later, the trip to Utah finally happens. Quickly deciding that Andrew is the candidate they want, an offer is made. A day later, he accepts. Fortunately, the offer includes a stellar relocation package which made the idea of leaving behind our still for sale home bearable. Per Andrew's request, the name of the company he'll be working for will remain private, but I can say that he'll be working in South Ogden and we are excited and grateful for this new opportunity. Our search for a home won't begin until the one in South Carolina sells.

For now, consider our young family displaced. I will say that as frustrating as our condition is, we feel incredibly blessed to be waiting out our next step (rental house?) in my parent's basement. Their hospitality and warm welcome has greatly been appreciated. I hope we will be less of a burden and more of a blessing as we decide what comes next.

Now that I've covered the basic details, my heart is bursting to share the emotional repercussions attached to this change. However, I'd like to catch up on Henry's birthday first (in another post). Off I go.

Surprise!

It's been an eventful week for the Flegal family. I begin with our eldest.

"Surprise, Mom! I have bangs!" - well, kind of.

Eliza couldn't fully commit to a new look when she picked up the scissors. At least that's what I concluded when I discovered bangs on only half of her face. With her hair nearing her waist, the two and a half inches that were needed to even up her most recent display of creativity won't be missed. On a brighter note: she got the length right on her bangs.

As for Henry, he turned three years old!!!

Happy Barf-day Henry!

Depressingly enough, our celebrations were thwarted by an uninvited guest. The stomach bug flu monster paid my sweet boy an early morning birthday visit and was successful in spoiling all of our happy plans. Eliza got the "surprise party" started at midnight which made the all-nighter even more exciting. Thankfully, the barf fest was exclusive as our sweet little Lottie was spared the torment.

Speaking of Lottie, she took her first plane ride to Utah this week! Surprise!
I am pleased to say that the long awaited introductions between our newest family member and her extended loved ones are now in progress. And while I feel terrible that the sickness that rocked my children was brought into my parent's home, I am thankful that it didn't surface on our flight. Can you even imagine? (*shudder*)

I ought to mention, dear reader, that our airplane tickets to SLC...
were most definitely one way.

We're back!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

Cindy Lou Who
The Grinch
Thing 2
The trio

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Weekend Gems

Sunday morning, our wake-up call quietly tiptoes to her Daddy's bedside. Without saying a word, Eliza invites herself into our bed. Nestling between the pair of us, she begins to tickle my back.

With my eyes still closed, I whisper:

"That feels so nice Eliza, thank you." Her voice, that is perfectly sweet, replies:

"You're welcome, Mom." And while I love waking up to a snuggling child, my body still craves sleep. I decide to redirect her attention.

"Why don't you give Daddy a turn?" Without a word, she turns the other direction. On cue, Andrew's arms open wide with welcome. Unfortunately, so does his mouth. An odor of a terribly foul nature escapes his lips as he greets her:

"Good morning, Eliza!" Accepting his embrace, she takes in his morning breath. In a tone of complete sincerity she questions:

"Is there a skunk in this bed?!" Thoughts of falling back asleep are obliterated by our hearty laughter. Eliza is thrilled with our delight and with her Daddy's quick decision to go brush the skunk that crawled up and died in his mouth away before resuming the morning cuddle session.

Fast forward to that afternoon:

I was looking forward to taking the children to the baptism of our eight year old friend. Experiences like Ethan's baptism lead to important questions. Two days later, I find that Eliza and I are still talking about the importance of being baptized. For the record, she's willing to fully go under the water as long as she is permitted to wear goggles. This is a huge step forward considering that the last baptism we attended, Eliza sobbed that she "never wanted to do that" (be fully submerged in the font).

Following the baptism, we returned to our seats to watch our friend participate in another special ordinance. As she bows her head, Eliza leans herself forward on her metal chair. This position proves accommodating as her body gleefully relieves itself of its need to pass gas.

Oh the embarrassment. Not one - but TWO giant, long lasting toot-a-roos escape her bum. Henry and Eliza lose themselves in a fit of giggles. It's a blessing that Andrew was already in the hall with Lottie as he would have certainly lost his composure. Horrified, I hush Henry as I send Eliza into the hall to find her Daddy. Thankfully, her "disturbance" didn't go farther than our row. Next time, it might be best if we choose to support our friends without the company of our children.

And now for the picture fest.

We've kept ourselves busy enjoying the beautiful Spring like weather and playing with our friends. These past two weeks have included a trip to the zoo, a visit to Monkey Joes and a day at the Children's museum. Securing a babysitter Saturday night, we went on a Mommy/Daddy/Lottie date with the Blasers.
Lottie's maiden voyage to the Greenville Zoo.
Let's count them, folks! I see one, two... make that THREE Flegals!Henry may or may not have peed his pants while playing at the Zoo' park. What a happy memory.
Life is rough when you and your friends are the only kids at Monkey Joes.A Flegal favorite: The Children's Museum of the Upstate.This outing, his pants were wet for a different, albeit preferred, reason. The water play area is phenomenal. As his sister tackles a puzzle, Henry offers his moral support.Kicking back on the porch as our day out comes to a close... Man, I love the South. And I love my husband who uses my children's medical syringe to ice Sunday morning's cinnamon rolls.