Sunday, November 25, 2012

beautiful mess

Having abandoned the pile of dirty dishes that sit in my sink, a decision I will hate myself for in the morning, I have retreated to my bedroom in search of this here laptop. I've been a distant friend to our family blog lately.  It would be easy to pile on the reasons why, but who is really interested in that? So often I've claimed that I "write" so that my kids will know and remember how their Mother perceived their childhood or because its a means of staying in touch with whoever it is that doesn't even read our blog anymore. I confess, however, that after spending a few minutes (which turns into hours sometimes) reviewing older entries that I feel grateful for taking the time to do this for my own sake. Does this make me sound horrible? Don't answer that.

I've been in 'this business' (Motherhood, that is) for six and a half years. By comparison to the veteran Saints, a.k.a. Mothers, I've only scratched the surface. To the newly expectant Mom, I might be able to fool you that I totally know what I'm talking about when we discuss teething and/or forming proper sleeping habits. What I can say that is authentic is that I feel a weird sense of surprise mixed with a large dose of sadness when I see how my kids have grown. I am thrilled that they are growing and that we're expanding, but it's proof that this world that I live in won't remain the same despite the fact that there are many times during a week, particularly in that four o'clock p.m. hour of the day, that seem unending. The mundane daily tasks combined with really loud kids who are high on nothing but LIFE itself, forces me from the room and into another so I can hear myself think for a minute. But, there will come a time when the goldfish cracker crumbs disappear for good and I no longer write the words, "dino chicken nuggets" on my grocery shopping list (hey, don't judge). At Christmas time I won't spend hours searching for the best deal on Christmas pajamas and I'll wonder as I decorate the tree by myself if I adequately taught those young believers how to be Christ-like givers. 

In case you're wondering what the sam-hill point is of this post, I am afraid that there isn't one.
I'm hormonal and it's okay.
That's my daily mantra now. ;) 

It will be Andrew and me. I wonder if I'll find myself in a situation like I'm in tonight where I sit in bed and type up a load of non-sense while he cuts his own hair, like he is now, in our bathroom. It's true, he cuts his own hair. I think he is the only person on planet earth who actually understands his own hair, really... it's as complex and unique a situation as he is. Feeling a need to substantiate that last sentence, any guesses on what type of music he listens (and sings) to while he does it?

If you guessed Celtic folk music, you are CORRECT! This is the same guy who felt like he could lift a 300+ pound axle by himself and as result, ended up on the concrete of our driveway with said piece of equipment on his lap (yowzers!). Fortunately axles roll so he recovered once he was able to determine that all of his limbs still functioned in the proper manner. Hopefully though, this was a lesson in learning that it's sometimes important to ask people for help.

Anyway, Thanksgiving weekend was one of the best our family has shared. And while I wait to bum a few more pictures off of my family members who are more diligent in the photo taking department than I am, I will postpone that recap for another day.

I will say, since it's fresh in my head, that we decorated our Christmas tree tonight. Finding an old Christmas nightgown, Eliza and all of her, "LET'S DECORATE!' enthusiasm spread the spirit and excitement of the early season through the family. Henry's reaction to said merriment wasn't verbalized as much as it was expressed through his dance moves. His eyes said more than his mouth did as he sorted through the ornaments. As I would tell him about the special meaning behind his ornaments, he'd simply say,

"Oh my gosh!"

Lottie seemed so pleased to have us all together, away from electronic devices, homework and telephones. Or maybe that was how I felt. I'm not sure, but she was sure darling as she continued to evaluate and praise our beautiful tree. Having been caught by the Christmas bug himself, Andrew offered to hang some lights in the kid's bedrooms. While he did his thing, the kids played and sang 'ring around the rosey' multiple times... As sweet as they are, the song grew tiresome after the 20th round. I found myself initiating bedtime to escape it. Wow, I sound like the Grinch. It was, in fact, past bedtime. After prayers and singing the kids their first Christmas bedtime song of the season, we said goodnight.

Returning to their darkened hallway sometime later, I paused near Lottie's door. That sweet girl, who had taken a rather late Sunday nap, was still awake. In her crib she was singing,  "ring around the rosey' to herself. And yes, she was on repeat. That song that I'd been itching to get away from was suddenly my favorite in the world as I knew that Lottie was reliving the best memory from her day in her head.

Since I've clearly stated that this evening's post lacks a unifying thread to tie each paragraph together, I'll conclude with a grouping of photos that don't relate to much of anything that's been written. Just like my horrible kitchen downstairs, I give myself permission to be a mess.

For the sake of documentation ('Ya, whatever Ali' is right), this snow storm fell post Halloween, pre-Thanksgiving. The snow has long since melted, but if you were to ask any of these kids, they'd be thrilled if it returned soon. 
 Henry was kind enough to dig Lottie's car out of the snow with a hot pink sand shovel. 
What a guy.
 Can you spot Henry? 
It's a total win when Mom doesn't misplace the hand-me-downs such as
this purple coat. The pre-exisisting snow boots, however, have yet to be found.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Our Family Tree

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, it is with a grateful heart that I am able to announce that our family tree is expanding.

Flegal baby # 4 is due May 25!

* This is a great place to stop reading if my personality ever 
makes you want to vomit.

I hesitate to broadcast the happy emotions attached to our announcement as we are keenly aware that this news is (and has been) hard for some of our dear friends and family to receive. Andrew and I know of couples who, at this moment, are longing, aching and praying for their families to grow. In no way am I saying that anyone wishes misfortune upon us; but rather that their pleas to heaven were being met in a more timely manner or with a greater level of ease. Perhaps I have no business to be blogging about something so personal and so difficult when I myself haven't tasted of that particular heartache. For those who've shared their struggles and frustrations, I literally cry with you. When I look at the divine qualities these women, some of whom are Mothers already, possess, I have to ask why on earth these blessings are delayed. It feels unbelievably unfair.

It's possible that I have followed the bloggers code to closely as I have a tendency to portray a life of perfected bliss via this blog. The truth is, we have our challenges. With time, I expect that we will face, "assorted soul-stretching challenges and adversities." I don't say this because I'm a pessimist, but because there aren't exemptions from trial and difficulty.

This past weekend we had a close call on the freeway. After Andrew slammed on the breaks, Lottie instantly began to bawl. Assuming she'd been startled, I look back to console her. To my horror I see that her car seat is tilted forward, resting on the back of the driver's seat.

We'd been to a movie with family that afternoon. Having the room to fit all the adults in our van, we carpooled the group while Lottie and the other kids stayed at Bubba's house to play. Her car seat, which had been removed to accommodate the group, was eventually put back in the car, but not buckled back in.  

Jumping back to be with her, I quickly fastened her seat in properly. A mixture of relief, intense gratitude and a terrible sickness for what could have happened fell over Andrew and me. The kids, with the exception of Eliza who was worried out of her mind that a police man would see me out of my seat belt and arrest me on the spot, settled quickly while Andrew and I were left reeling. It was an ugly reminder that in a matter of seconds, what you hold and value as more precious than anything (as trite as that sounds) can be taken away from you. 

With all that being said, Heavenly Father didn't intend us to live life in a state of fear or depression. Peace and hope, I believe, can be found in the ugliest of circumstances. I can't give overwhelming testimony of this with an earth shattering example from my own life, but I've seen it in other people's lives and on a smaller and more simple scale in my own. Quoting from the same LDS conference talk that I shared from earlier, Sister Linda Burton said,

"All that is unfair about life can be made right through the Atonement of Jesus Christ." I have faith that if we follow Christ's teachings and make him both our sail and anchor, we'll be able to progress safely through life and have a secure foundation for when life's storms come. The Atonement, we're taught, isn't there to only cleanse the sinner, but to also lift and repair the brokenhearted. There's a lovely little quote floating around Pinterest that struck a chord with me. It says:

"Peace is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of Christ."

I apologize for letting my feelings (which have been unintentionally designed to look like a sermon) have exploded in such a manner. I just hope that I can share the upcoming months of preparation and excitement in a sensitive way. 

And finally, a note to our precious fourth,

Dear baby,

Your story has begun! The fourth spot in our family is special, you should know. Both your Daddy and I hold that same place in the families we grew up in so without question you'll be favored at all times! ;)  With it comes the blessing of older siblings who clapped and shouted for joy when we shared with them the news. On a lazy Sunday morning, your sisters and brother decided to climb into bed with us. It was a most welcomed invasion. Singing the family favorite, "Here we are together," I added the lines:

"...And another new baby growing in Mommy's tummy." Eliza's mouth dropped open, Henry beamed a happy smile, Lottie demanded the attention be returned to her (just kidding)...  Then we celebrated.

Those same siblings, who remain pure, innocent (well that's debatable... hee hee hee) and full of faith, pray each day for your safety and health. To be fair, it remains to be seen how the sister that is about to be dethroned from the prime spot of 'family baby' will react; but with time I have every confidence in the world that she'll promote you to the coveted spot of 'personal favorite.' 

Another benefit of being the fourth is that much of the concern we have regarding the exhausting exercises that accompany having a newborn have been diminished as we see how incredibly fast those months pass. Those early, heaven filled, new baby phases are gone in a blink. And with each exciting new development, the exhaustion softens and a new normal is discovered. 

The morning I found out you were coming, your Daddy was away on business. I did not have the patience to wait for him to return as I believed that a positive result could be possible that day. The thrill of seeing those two pink lines felt as new as it did the first time. The shock was significantly less compared to when I found out about Eliza, but time and experience demanded a higher level of gratitude as I made my way onto my knees to thank our Father in Heaven.

That same day, I found myself at the Brigham City Temple open house with Eliza, Henry and Lottie. As we walked through the celestial room, I was reminded how close heaven and earth can be. I am thankful that this experience, God willing, can bring me to that sacred moment in time, when Mother and child meet once more.

Daddy came home to a "Welcome Home" sign that Eliza had lovingly decorated. Moments before his late night return home, I added the 'exclamation point' to the sign; which in fact, was one of my positive pregnancy tests (by that point, I had a fair few). 

"Did you notice Eliza's sign?" I questioned as I sat sleepily on the couch. The sign that was displayed on the mantel was quite prominent. 

"Yes." His voice was nonchalant. Assuming he was saving his 'reaction' for the child who had colored it so well, I continued. 

"Look at it closely." Heeding my instruction, his solid, consistently stable demeanor momentarily faltered. A certain smile (that I love, love, love) reserved for occasions such as this broke through. 

"Really?!" And then his confidence returned. He smugly added, "I already knew it!"  And then we made out. Say what, Mama?!? (I'm just checking to see if Andrew is still paying attention.)

You are loved and wanted more than you know. We pray for you daily and your Mom thinks about you around the clock. 

All my love,
That folks, is more muffin top than baby. But still, there's a baby. After Thanksgiving, I'll look 35 + weeks pregnant... can't wait! ;)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Belated 'Boo!'

Tell me, friend. What does Tinkerbell, a Gold Samuri Power Ranger and a Vampire have in common?

You're right. They don't have much in common. Andrew laments each year over our lack of costume coordination. Maybe next year, honey. I went with Eliza and Henry's costume request and Lottie went with mine.

Said in an ominous tone, "I want to be a vampire princess!" 
(Rolling the 'r' sound on the word 'princess' was consistent on her part)

To be honest, she wasn't at all interested in white face paint, plastic fangs or pretend blood. As we were getting reading for our first Halloween event, the ward Trunk or Treat, I informed her that vampires are infamous for drinking blood. This news horrified her.  Next year, I predict a return to Disney characters. We'll see.

As for Henry, he relished the role of hero.
There were days, however, when I thought the sword might have been a mistake. If you were on his 'bad guy' list, you may have fallen victim to being hit with the sword. Whether it was on purpose or accidental, I wasn't always sure. All I know is that I heard myself say,

"You do that again and I get to eat all your candy." or "Give me the sword. HENRY! GIVE ME THE SWORD!"

Seriously though, he is such a super stud.

As for Tinkerbell, I have to say that watching her react to the collection of candy was great fun. Having no memory from last year, it was special to experience this as a "first" with her.
In addition to the trunk or treat, we also enjoyed our first visit to the neighborhood, 'Mafia Man' (that's a post for another day year.), had a party with our cousins, watched Eliza parade through her elementary school, carved pumpkins and trick-or-treated through our neighborhood.

I remember, back in South Carolina, feeling lonely on Halloween as we didn't have anyone to tag along with. Trick-or-treating with groups is great, but this year we ended up going alone as a family. We saw friends along the way, which was fun, but what I'm trying (and failing so hard) to say that I feel content with my lot.  It was sweet watching Eliza and Henry dart to each door with each other, compare candy piles and scream in unison, "Yes!" when Andrew asked if they wanted to go out for another round of candy collecting with him.
Until next year.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Winter Preview

Wanting to participate in a little (pre) Halloween action, Mother Nature surprised us with a trick of her own.

I have to say that there are others in my family who would argue that it was less of a trick and more of a treat to wake up a week before Halloween to a decent sized snow storm. As I drove Eliza to school that morning, I remember thinking how neat the snow capped mountains looked as the lower half remained bright with the colors of fall. The two seasons, winter and fall, had met.

Henry just about bounced out of his pajamas, he was so excited to dive into the snow outside. Eliza, on the other hand, was bummed that she had to go to school. After assuring her that Henry wouldn't use up all the snow in our over sized backyard, she cheered up some.
"Careful Henry. Make sure you save some snow for your sister." ;) 

She did, however, miss out on the first cup of hot chocolate.
A boy and his hot chocolate; what more could you ask for?

Oh I know. How about a super awesome Dad who decides to hook up the sled to the lawn mower so that he can give rides to his kids? How about that?!
 They loved every minute of it. The ride lasted for a half hour at least. Lottie tried it but opted out after a few runs around the yard. And when I say that she, 'opted' out... I mean she rolled out of the sled.

Here's Lottie before she James Bonded her way off the sled. 

In the sledding department, things have sure improved for Andrew. Here's a flashback to 2010 to help illustrate what I mean.

  Eliza was thrilled that Henry kept his word. He saved her a yard full of snow.

The temperature soon jumped back up. Three days later, the snow was gone. By the time Halloween arrived, we were back in the 70's. Despite Mother Nature's temperamental mood, we sure enjoyed the Winter preview (minus the piles of wet clothes, gear and snow boots that littered the house from the continual bustle of kids running in and out to play). 
"Snow is AWESOME!!"