Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Eliza's first day of Kindergarten!

I will (try to) let the pictures do the talking.


Pardon the interruption, but doesn't she look excited?
There wasn't a spec of hesitation or any indication of nerves... on her part.

I replied to a friend's e-mail this morning shortly after returning home from dropping Eliza off. It sums up well the experience of saying goodbye to my sweet Kindergartner.

"My baby went to Kindergarten today!!!! WAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

She was so brave and excited and PRECIOUS. Oh man. Watch out. This thing called Motherhood will break your heart and make it soar with happiness all at once. It makes me dizzy."

Inspired by Nie Nie's tradition of having a back to school feast, Eliza and Henry decorated foam crowns while I made a "feast" of Eliza's choosing. She asked for breakfast (pancakes, eggs, bacon). Family night also included a Father's blessing from Andrew and a scoop of ice cream. Side note: Last year, Eliza was insistent that Henry and I keep our day void of all things FUN while she was at preschool. This year, her request was a little different.

"Mom, can you make sure that the house is shiny and clean when I come home from school?" Considering the state of my house, I better get going on those dishes in the sink.

I love the expression on Henry's face.
I am proud of her too!

Off you go, Eliza! I love (and miss) you!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Flashdance

This evening's preface:

Teenage boys are naturally awkward. They can't help it. Fortunately for a few, natural charm overcomes gawky as they make their transition to manhood with a little more self-awareness. On the opposite end, there are those that you silently ache for as it is apparent that they are adorably clueless to the scene around them. These poor adolescents are struggling with:
  • acne.
  • a tenor voice that is struggling to become a bass.
  • locker rooms (*shudder).
  • the inability to realize that public flatulence is NOT COOL.
  • the frustrations surrounding unrequited attention from the girl who doesn't know he exists. (Is it just me or does it sound like I'm prepping to write Taylor Swift's next big hit?)
And then there are those extra "special cases" that involve young men who don't posses an ounce of social grace. Manners mean nothing and their mission to annoy planet earth is met with continued success daily. Brothers. That's another word for "special cases."

Fortunately, the two teenage boys who approached my front door tonight are far from that last category. They were more than decent, polite and well mannered as our exchange began. Without knowing it, their request that I support their football fundraiser provided me with a moment of,

"Wow. I really do live here. This fundraiser means I'm a neighbor lady. I'm totally legit." Because truly, there are days when I wake up and feel that I'm an impostor living the life of someone who is far more experienced in the ways of Motherhood than I am. PTA sign ups? Really?

That moment of validation (?) was reason enough to go search out the checkbook. I'm sure Andrew is shaking his head in disbelief as he reads this, but honestly I had no idea what the Dominoes card I was purchasing entitled me too. My bet is pizza. I didn't ask for the details.

To my complete frustration, I am a people-pleaser and am certain that I will never outgrow my desire to make a positive impression (read: I want to be liked by everyone). I was like,

"HECK YES, I'll buy one. Do you take checks?" And with that Lottie and I disappear into the kitchen.

Did I mention that they rang the doorbell? For my children, that sound triggers Christmas-like enthusiasm. Potentially, in their minds, that bell ringing could be indicating the possible arrival of a friend! Ooooh. Right? They SQUEAL when it rings; whether they know who is there or not. Eliza flew down the stairs, but wasn't fast enough, as I arrived first.

Henry, who remains upstairs in the bathroom, is equally curious to know who our unexpected guests are.

"Mom! Come help me put my clothes on." He wails. Wanting to find my check book as quickly as possible, I disregard his request. A small red flag begins to wave.

"Why aren't his clothes on?" Lottie's unpleasant mood steals my attention away from that thought. Finally, I have found a pen that works. As I sign and date my ten dollar check, the foyer is suddenly ringing with laughter.

I can hear Henry's footsteps as he darts in the upstairs hallway from one end to the other. Before I locate him, I see the two teenage boys. Their eyes are filled with tears from laughing. The one I know from Church is red in the face. Wiping away a bead of sweat from his brow, he leans over to calm himself down.

"Your kids" he pauses to take a deep breath, "are SO funny."

Eliza, who is giggling behind the door, peers upstairs. On cue, Henry pauses at the top of the stairs, wiggles his stark naked bum at his audience below and then darts out of view. What should I say?

"Um, I'm sorry?"

Because I am likewise AWKWARD (still waiting to outgrow that phase of my own life) I begin to over-communicate. I know. You're shocked. It's a defense mechanism I've developed to put to sleep (and/or bore to death) whoever it is that finds themselves sharing in a moment of awkward discomfort with me. All feelings of "I'm an adult who keeps it all together" vanish as I shut the door, in the middle of my verbal tirade/apology.

I'll close by saying that our door is always open to visitors. But please, consider yourself warned as it would seem we have a little ruffian in our midst.

Future awkward teenage boy
(I LOVE you Henry!!)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

seven more sleeps!

Thinking of the neighborhood children beginning their first day of school, I couldn't help but ask this morning,

"Eliza, when does Kindergarten start?"

"Seven more sleeps!" I detect the pain in her voice. Her dismay isn't a result of worry or nerves, but rather she is disappointed. The wait was sadly prolonged as I made the mistake in assuming that Kindergarten would begin the same day as the rest of the school.

(aspiring to be the teacher's pet)

Even with a list as "organized" as this,
...the error wasn't caught until late last week. Rather than having five days left on our countdown, we actually had twelve. It's okay though. With the excitement of 'back to school night' and our two on one meeting with her teacher this Wednesday (standard for all students entering Kindergarten), there's enough school related excitement to help occupy us during the wait.

As for Henry, I tried to pull together a co-op with a group of Moms; but my friend and I were struggling to drum up interest and/or get firm commitments. While working through possible solutions, Andrew and I visited a neighborhood preschool and it stole.my.heart. And Henry's.

(As we clean out the final boxes from our move,
artificial flowers continue to magically appear. Random.)

I feel like a total sellout as I remember the special experience I had with Eliza during her first year of preschool; but it would seem with so many Utah-esque options to choose from, we're dealing with different circumstances. For example: with Eliza, I had friends who watched Henry when it was my turn to host preschool and I likewise returned the favor to them. I don't think that would have happened here. It could have worked, I'm sure, but I opted for Henry to attend preschool twice a week for two hours a day somewhere else. We will plan and host play dates with his neighborhood friends to help bond those friendships.

Last year, I was an emotional wreck (I'd like to play the pregnancy card) as I prepared to send Eliza to preschool. The time (five days a week, three hours a day) + the money (*enter insane cost here) + the distance (one hour drive round trip) all factored into my emotional instability. That being said, preschool proved to be a great blessing to Eliza. I don't regret our decision for her to attend, but in the beginning it felt emotionally premature.

Thank the stars above, Utah's Kindergarten is half day. And while her preschool teacher recommended that Eliza attend full day (if possible), I'm glad Henry and I have one more year of having that extra slice of time with her.


Cute little Naughty Lottie has promised to help keep my mind off those two while they're at school. You see, one of my favorite features of our kitchen

has become hers.
She walks (read: crawls) on the wild side.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

when peanuts learn new tricks

She has a new favorite game! It goes like this:


PEEK
- A -
BOO!

To Lottie's dismay, those tricky hands don't always land where they are meant to.
Don't worry baby girl, the finesse will come.

Lottie has added a new dimension of FUN to our feeding time thanks to her new found love for the peek-a-boo game. Consequently, what used to be a quick wipe down of her cheeks has escalated into a small sponge bath at the kitchen sink as she is proficient in styling her hair in all things GERBER. I'm not 100% sure, but I think the sweet potatoes/corn mixture brings out her curls the most.

At her 9 month check up (closer to 10 months to be honest), she weighed in at 15 lbs 9 ounces. Little Miss Lottie is in the 3rd percentile in weight and the 11th in height. She is a peanut like her brother Henry as well as a handful of their cousins but she continues to climb her growth chart and is reaching all of her developmental milestones. Henry was eventually tested for all sorts of issues as a result of his small size and thankfully everything turned up normal. At age 2, he evened out quite a bit (gained weight). He's still small for his age, but no longer looks deprived of food.

Poor girl. She's just going to have to join her Dad and brother in the land where calories simply don't matter. What would that be like?

I'll close by offering the assurance that all me kids, Henry especially, have healthy appetites. As parents, Andrew and I our making a concerted effort to ensure they receive the proper nutrients to help them grow healthy and strong.

See?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

a 'classic' anniversary

Yesterday was our seventh wedding anniversary! Can you believe it?! That's pretty special if you ask me. Wanting to honor our day, we thought nothing could be more special than to celebrate our love with 40+ cub scouts at Classic Water Park.

"Oooh La La" is RIGHT!

My eternal companion is also an eternal boy scout! Soon after moving into the area, Andrew was called to be the Cub Master ( that deserves to be capitalized, right?) of three wards. Last night provided them with the opportunity to meet for the first time as the park had been reserved especially for his troop, which is a decent size! Lucky for the kids and I, families were invited.

Andrew was nothing but business as he welcomed the guests and dutifully served ice cream cones. I tended to the children as they explored the water play area designed especially for youngsters.Both children vehemently rejected our offers to go down the water slides with us.

Did that stop Andrew from coaxing Eliza to walk to the top of the "minnow" slide to check out the view? After making our way to the top, I hear him say:

"Hey Eliza, come feel the water!" Innocent and pure, she trustingly walks forward to dangle her hand in the spray of water. BAM! He scoops her up into his arms and off they go. She is simultaneously screaming and laughing as they make their way down the slide.

Henry, on the other hand wanted no part of it. I don't blame him. I'm certain the experience of being "encouraged" to water ski at Bear Lake is still fresh in his mind. After getting his fill of the water he opted to watch the kids go down the slides, eat an ice cream cone and snuggle with his Mama.

Here's the obligatory, 'Lottie sits in the stroller' photo:She is so good when we're out and about. If she's outside and has people to stare it, she is set. A few of our friends were kind to hold her, but for the most part she sat in my lap or in her stroller... happy as a clam.

On his way up to the slides, Andrew notice a snake which he proceeded to catch (naturally). Momentarily, the snake became the most interesting thing at the water park. I'm glad he was able to leave the boys with an impression of things to come. The night went well with the exception of a minor injury.

Fortunately (?) the only one who went home needing stitches was the Cub Master himself after the Barracuda slide served him a slice of humble pie. A friend offered to watch our kids so we could do a run together. Pretty swoon worthy right?

Feeling tentative, I suggest we go down the medium scariest slide.

"This is a kids park! Go big or go home!" He says confidently as he hits the slide with momentum. I watch in horror as he FLIES down the first hill. He's unintentionally catching air, flipping off his mat and is soon out of sight as I decide instantly that the Barracuda is not the slide for me.

Neither one of us caught the memo that you are to LAY DOWN when riding the slides which is why we both hit our heads pretty hard coming down. Andrew's glasses cut his upper eye lid but fortunately he was able to retrieve them after they fell off. It was an intense minute when he came out of the water with a bleeding eyelid which I'm sure confirmed to our kids that their decisions to opt out was smart.

It was a very fun way to spend our day and in true flegal fashion it's unsurprising that we kept with our tradition of having an out of the norm, wedding anniversary. Do you remember our third anniversary? We spent 15 hours on a plane traveling back home from our three month stay in Germany. That was lovely. Or how about our fifth anniversary when I was struggling to recover from a nasty bout of pneumonia and our the incredibly awesome Michelle Blaser brought us dinner? And then there was last year when I wrote you an incredibly sentimental poem which I suddenly felt insecure about so I deleted it?

I love you Andrew and am so grateful for the life we've created together. You are my best friend and I remain convinced that you were tailored made for me. Here's to forever.

Monday, August 15, 2011

spilling over

Eliza was temporarily dismissed from Primary on Sunday.

The movie they had been watching was of the Savior raising Lazarus from the dead. The sadness surrounding the loss of Lazarus proved too great. Eliza was a mess of tears as she was gently escorted into the hallway to compose herself. Andrew, who had been in the hall quieting Lottie, quickly noticed Eliza as she exited the Primary room. From my chair in Sunday School, I watch with curiosity as Andrew and Eliza's hallway exchange unfolds. Before I can verbalize my question, Andrew quietly whispers upon his return,

"They were watching a movie about Lazarus..." That's all he has to say. Instantly, I understand.

Lately, we've been fielding a lot of questions about death. Eliza's faith is strong as she understands that Jesus died for us. The teachings of the resurrection are familiar to her and I can see that she acknowledges that Heavenly Father loves us so much that He provided a plan for us to follow so that we can be together forever as a family. What she struggles with (and who doesn't) is the temporary separation that occurs when a loved one passes away.

Thursday night I went to Enrichment night. Coming home, Andrew reports that Eliza was in tears over the likelihood that I will die before she does.

"Nana Marie's Mom died before she did and so did Nanna Teresa's!" She sobbed. Parenthood challenges me to know and question what I really believe as I am determined to speak with confidence as I share with her the assurance and understanding I've acquired. I try my best to patiently respond after listening closely to her concerns but because of how fragile her feelings are, I don't go out of my way to bring up topics that are going to upset her as they seem to be evolving on their own. Example:

Driving home from my sister's house this week, we pass a cemetery.

"Hey Mom! What's that over there?" Eliza asks. My inner dialogue explodes.

"Here we go again! Awesome." Taking a deep breath, I think through what I should say. Thankfully, that conversation was void of tears.

Allow me to confess a parental failing as I totally shift gears to share another example of how this child operates. I have a weak spot for reality t.v. I absolutely love Survivor and most definitely say the Jeff Probst is the hostest with the mostest. Love him. I also have an unexplainable fondness for the awkwardness that is Chris Harrison and the Bachelor series. Usually, the children are in bed or are otherwise occupied when I catch up on my shows.

However, during the series finale of the Bachelorette, Eliza enters the room. I welcome her into my lap assuming that this episode would be free of bikinis and hot tub make out sessions. I didn't think that the intense Neil Lane heart to hearts would have a profound effect on her innocent mind. Together we watch as Ashley refuses Ben's heartfelt proposal. Ben proceeds to give his emotional exit interview and before I know it, Eliza is in shambles over the outcome.

"Why didn't she choose Ben!?" She cries. "Am I going to have to choose like Ashley? Talon and Luke BOTH want to marry me. What's going to happen?"

I encourage (**Bad Mom Award**) her to keep watching as I anticipate a happier outcome for J.P. I'm wrong in my assumption that she'll drop it. Her feelings of sadness for Ben win over the scene of the accepted proposal. Keep in mind, she hasn't seen a single episode before now. Her strange allegiance to Ben perplexes me. Her questions and concern wouldn't abate as she is now convinced that she needs to have a conversation with Ashley to discuss her thought process.

"Mom! Do you even know what state she lives in?" She is exasperated and I realize how closely we need to filter the things she watches as I assume her actions are a result of her young age. And then, I'm reminded of our experience with the Disney movie, Tangled. Maturity isn't the issue. It's how she is wired. Bless her.

It doesn't matter if it's the first, third or eighth time to see that movie. Without fail, she cries when it seems that all is lost for Flynn Rider. She knows that he'll be okay but her knowledge of the movie's outcome isn't enough to prevent the waterworks.

"I can't help it Mom! My eyes! They just want me to cry!" I've never criticized or shamed her for her sensitivity. That would be a prime example of the pot calling the kettle black. Yes, there are times when the circumstances that lead to those tears make Andrew and I chuckle, but overall I find it sweet. Her tender heart is one of her best attributes. Eliza is compassionate and thoughtful.

And before you start sending me recommendations on physician's who would willingly help "stabilize" her moods, I assure you she is fine. She is a confident, happy, intelligent, fun loving girl! Her social life has really exploded as of late. This past week, two new friends invited her to their birthday parties which completely thrilled her.Henry, on the other hand, was severely disappointed that he wasn't invited to either party. And so it continues. Learning to nurse your child's broken heart is another job requirement that I'm steadily gaining experience with. Heaven knows, there will be serious bumps in the road and I sincerely hope I'm adequately equipped to help them.

Leave it to me to blog about bible stories and the Bachelorette in the same post, but I want future Eliza to know that I'm touched by the size of her heart and its wide range of concern for others (from rejected bachelors to biblical figures).

end of summer "camp out"

Flegal camping check list:
  • tent
  • bedding
  • pillow pets (unicorn and dog)
  • pink bunny
  • grinch
  • brown puppy
Am I forgetting anything? Oh yes.
  • blankies
(Andrew hauls the camping "essentials")

This past Friday we attended the ward camp out. Our stake property is a convenient two minute drive from our house. In terms of scenery, there wasn't much to look at except for the homes that dot the perimeter of the property. However, for our little family the setting proved ideal as it afforded Lottie and me the opportunity to sneak away to sleep in our own beds and return the following morning in time to see Henry crawling out of the tent.


In the morning, Andrew reported that the children slept soundly. The adults, however, complained of an intense windstorm that made sleep difficult. Eliza, who fervently prays each night that we will be spared from tornadoes, thankfully slept through the torrent of wind. Andrew's greatest anxiety was that she'd wake up screaming, "It's a twister, It's a twister!"

I hope the 'camping in suburbia' tradition continues as Lottie felt a little slighted that she wasn't invited to stay. Next summer, baby girl.

(Lottie and "The Grinch" sporting a similar hair style)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Making a splash!

I made two discoveries today. The first is that we live a few minutes away from this delightful park/splash pad.

The seconds discovery is that my baby has red (?) hair.
Am I making it up?

Returning to the day's adventure, we were lucky that the Chamberlain chicks were able to accept our invitation to come play with us.
Cute Callie
Miss Mia
Henry's pal, Sara.

I know. I am a broken record; but seriously it's great that we get to spend time with these cute girls once a week rather than our former average of once a year (not an exaggeration).


That's Eliza. In case you forgot.

And while she plays the part of spectator well, Lottie was thrilled to be an active participant in the splashing too.

Ugly beefy Ali arms, cute little Lottie.

We like to keep things balanced between the two of us.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Flower Child

One of the benefits of having an older sister.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

(Yogi) Bear Lake



We are home from a lovely vacation. Any ideas on where we went? Here are a few clues (as if the Title didn't already give it away). Our trip involved:

1. Sunscreen. Buckets of it.

2. Goggles (?) and life jackets.3. Raspberry shakes.4. And these views.When I asked Eliza to share with me what she liked best about Bear Lake, she exclaimed,

"EVERYTHING!" And while I am pleased as punch that she enjoyed it all, I'm left with the task of specifying a few of those happy memories on her behalf.

Eliza's Favorites:

No surprise here; Eliza loved spending time with her cousins; the nightly sleepover in the upstairs loft, watching movies and playing on the beach.
Next up on her (Mom's) list: Craft time with Nana Marie.Nana brought shirts for the kids to tie-dye and a table cloth for them to decorate.

Soon after we arrived, the lake was renamed: "Yogi Bear Lake" in honor of the week's movie of choice. Cousin Kate had the idea to draw Yogi Bear on the table cloth. The idea soon spread (get it?) as the cloth was decorated with several versions of Yogi and Boo Boo. Eliza's version of the duo were especially impressive to her Mom.
And finally, she enjoyed her time on the boat and swimming in the lake.

Henry's Favorites:

Napping on the boat.Playing in the sand with dump trucks and wading in the lake.Exploring with Eliza.And yes, he loved playing with the cousins too!His absolute lowest moment of the trip came when Andrew and I encouraged (read: forced) him to water ski with Andrew. The poor child was absolutely freaked out of his mind. Yes, I feel like a terrible parent but you should hear the kid talk about it (now). He is so proud of himself but adamant that he will never do it again.

Lottie's Favorites:
Little Miss Lottie was a PEACH on the trip. Seriously. No complaints here. She loved being outside. She easily went to sleep in the pack and play on the beach (when needed) and did so well on the boat.

She was surrounded by smiling faces and "eager to hold you" arms.
Andrew's Favorites:

Captain Flegal was at the helm of his parent's boat (who graciously allowed us to use it) for most of the trip. Tube wars, wake board flips and watching his wife water ski, were memorable moments for him (right, Andrew?). While on the topic of Andrew, I have to say that for those involved, watching him help get three nieces up on water ski's was highly entertaining.Look closely and you'll see Andrew's face. He wouldn't let go until they did. What a champ.

Ali's Favorites:

This group vacation with the entire Mays clan was a first. I loved it.

It would be sufficient to type a big fat DITTO to what I already wrote in regards to the moments I enjoyed most. The two "honorable mentions" that remain are watching my Mom laugh her head off on the tube and stepping into the role of "storyteller" per the request of the kids. They ate up my nonsense which I found totally gratifying.Until next time.