Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Replaying Those Back to School Blues

I have a confession. It's really quite pathetic. Blame it on my desire to be agreeable; but when the conversation turns to how we as Mothers feel about our kids going back to school, I can sing two very different tunes.

For many, sending their children back to school is a signal to Mom that it's okay to exhale. The warm chaos of summer has come to a close. A new chapter opens and life's going to be a little more settled, perhaps a bit quieter, than the previous one. You imagine that finding moments of peace will more easily be attained. There is a hope that maybe, just maybe, that counter top will stay neat just a little bit longer and that the crumbs around the floor of the kitchen table will be fewer. The return of routine steadies the family. A new rhythm of life takes shape and its something that everyone will be able to march along with.

I've sugarcoated it, haven't I? Bluntly spoken, a chorus of Mothers exclaim:

'My kids drive me and each other crazy! Praise the heavens above that school has started and I can be my own human again!"

The part of me that has been adjusting and falling in love with a new member of our family wants structure. School forces me into routine. My inner-planner is delighted when the schedule I've set is followed and we find ourselves 'early' to a commitment. I once made and kept fancy lunch dates when I was a single lady working in the heart of downtown Salt Lake City. And while I don't miss that phase of my life, it's still kind of nice to 'have to be somewhere' even if it's just the carpool line at the elementary school.

The other song, is much sappier than the first. And if I'm being honest, it's the one that really resonates with me. It's a song that begins with a lot of energy; so much that if you're not careful it can effect the nerves. Sometimes I feel frenzied as the now familiar back to school tune begins to play. I try to shift that energy into excitement. However, the chorus that follows fills my insides with a distinct flavor of sadness. I felt it last Tuesday (aug 20) as I hugged my second grader goodbye and watched her confidently walk into her new classroom. It again greeted me this morning as I woke up my brand new Kindergartener. I found myself walking a fine line between wanting him to be prepared for everything and not throwing too much information at him. That may have introduced feelings of worry.

Having heard and felt this song before, I thought I'd be prepared for the song's crescendo. I was wrong.

Watching him trace the outline of his name before carefully hanging up his backpack and then shadowing him to his first ever elementary school seat, I felt the emotion rise in my throat. Thankfully he didn't notice. He happily went to work as I hugged his teacher and slipped out the door.

"Good luck today, Mrs. Chase" I said. "You'll do great!" What I wanted to include was, "Love my baby boy. He's full of so much goodness and  he means everything to me."

I wipe the tears before Andrew can see. Returning to my crew, I see that Henry's former seat in the stroller is now occupied with someone who wears a lively crown of naturally brown curls. Her big eyes smile up at me as she begins to play peek-a-boo with the shade cover of the stroller. In front of her lays a sweet baby whose eyes are wide and alert. He's drinking it all in.

Five minutes ago, that was Eliza and Henry. Back then my days were completely my own. I filled them as best I could with things just for them. I feel like it's a total gift that I have this new pairing to create memories with now. I hope I take advantage of it because in another five minutes, I'll be kissing my sweet Forrest goodbye on his first day of Kindergarten and wondering what the heck happens now?!

As for that song, in addition to the disbelief, excitement and sadness I've already mentioned, it evokes feelings of gratitude and finally triumph with his end of day report,

"Kindergarten is SO MUCH FUN!"    

What song do you sing, friend? Is it the Back to School Blues or the Halelujiah! They are gone! song? Maybe a combination of both?

Here's a million  few photos from their first days of school. Eliza began August 20 and Henry followed a week later on August 27th. 

The outfits:
 The smiles:

 The backpacks:
The Siblings:
 Slightly awkward, but I give points for having all of their eyes open!

The Goodbye:

Monday, August 26, 2013

Nine Years Later

August 17 marked our ninth wedding anniversary! Realizing it was her parent's anniversary that Saturday morning, Eliza briefly disappeared down the hallway. Having planned ahead, she retrieved a picture she found of us from 'back in the day' that she had decorated a few days earlier. Her thoughtfulness touched us both.

It was fun to see my beau out picking  flowers from our own backyard for me. They were lovely.
Having plans with family that night, we postponed our 'date' for a future weekend. Before our guests arrived, we treated our kids to our wedding video. Lottie was a huge fan of the "Mommy & Daddy" show.

 Eliza on the other hand... ;)

Oh please. Just stop. I know you're coveting our sweet dual tv set-up/entertainment center. We're forever in the "wait until we can afford" what we want mode in terms of furniture. 

The had their sights set on cousins. And pizza. 
 I sure married into a great family.

This past Saturday we called the babysitter and went to see Man of Steel. Forrest loved it. Seriously, he behaved so well. We need to take advantage of that while we can. After the movie we went to dinner. Even with a newborn, date night still felt like date night. Aside from bedtime, I do not crave that personal independence away from my baby. I want him near me all the time. Lucky for us all, Andrew's not the jealous type and is happy to include him!

At dinner, we wondered aloud about what life will look like ten years from now. The conversation bred fear as he said the words, "Eliza will be 17!" And while she's a very good girl, the idea of teenagers worries me to pieces! So, dear blog, if you're still around ten years from now... how are we doing?!?

I love you very much, Andrew. Sharing my life with you is life's best gift.  

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The 'Good News, Bad News' Trip

The look of uncertainty. I love it. 

 Earlier this month, we had a chance to spend a few days at a cabin with the Flegal side of our family. It was a memorable vacation to say the least. Eliza, having suffered a most traumatic day on the lake sans her Mother, reported her day in a most endearing fashion. Alternating the good news with the bad, she shared her 'ordeal' with me.

  Feeling inspired, I'd like to pattern today's post after the styling of my seven year old reporter. Eliza's tumultuous tale will likewise be included.


The good news was Liz Green made arrangements for our family to stay at a cabin. We were excited because our family had stayed there before. It's a great place to go.

The bad news was Uncle Mike couldn't come and the time frame conflicted with swimming lessons. 

The good news was we compromised.
While missing the first day of the cabin trip,
the kids only had to miss their last day of swimming lessons.

The bad news was I procrastinated the laundry, packing and cleaning that proceeds a vacation.

The good news was my jobs were done by the time Andrew came home from work.
I was pleased to see that we were ahead of schedule after packing up the car.
I just love that!

The bad news was he drove us to Walmart instead of heading straight to the cabin.
He wanted to buy fresh worms for fishing.

The good news was Eliza lost another tooth while driving to the cabin.
She was thrilled!!

The HORRIBLE news was she accidentally dropped her tooth on the floor of the car.
It was lost. 
She was heartbroken.

The good news was the kids behaved well on the drive.

The bad news was we got lost on the last five minute stretch.

The good news was it was okay because we ended up driving past a Moose.
That was exciting.

The bad news was Eliza was still crying over that lost tooth.

The good news was Daddy found it 40 seconds after parking the car at the cabin.
Good job, Daddy!

The bad news was we realized that we left Forrest's baby bed at home.
I was upset by the discovery.

The good news was we brought his baby swing and he slept well that night. 

The bad news was Mom didn't.

The good news was we were on vacation! The kids were in cousin heaven.

Plans were being made to spend the day at Echo Reservoir on the boat.
With the lake being 30 minutes from home,
I volunteered to drive back for Forrest's rock and play (bed).
I'd meet them at the lake after. 
The bad news was Mother Nature intervened.
Having set up camp at the beach, the boat made a single spin around the lake before the lightning arrived.
It was time to pack up. 

The good news was no one was struck by lightening. 

The bad news was the kids were super disappointed. 

The good news was plans were quickly made to drive to Kamas for an afternoon of swimming at an indoor water recreation center. Pizza would follow. 

The bad news was the cabin was locked and Kamas was far away.
Heavy winds arrived that night.
By the time they returned to the cabin, I was too tired to make the drive.
 Forrest and I would end up staying home. 

The good news was my kids had a BLAST swimming.

The bad news was I was sad to be at home. 

The good news was Forrest took me to Costa Vida for dinner.
What a sweetheart.

The bad news was Lottie missed her Mom and didn't sleep well that night. 

The good news was I slept well at home.
It was time to drive back to my family! 

The bad news was I was greeted by a horrible stench in my car. 
It was a mystery as I couldn't find an obvious culprit.
Removing a few walmart sized bags of trash, I left satisfied.

The good news was the smell disappeared.

The bad news was, I later learned, one of those walmart bags contained fishing hooks
 and the remains of the worms Andrew had purchased two days earlier.
Hence, the mystery smell was discovered.
RIP stinky worms.

The good news was I was reunited with my family. As a family, we made it to the lake.

The bad news was I never made it onto the boat.
By the time 'our turn' arrived, so did the rain clouds.
It was time to go back to the cabin.

The good news was my kids were still having a wonderful time with their cousins.
Andrew and I were in charge of dinner that night.
It was a success. 

More good news.
Andrew and I went on a four wheeler ride;
just the two of us!

The bad news was Henry didn't feel well.
He had been whining non-stop.
Gathering my wits, I put my hand to his forehead.
It was burning hot. 

The good news was Doctor Bubba Flegal was in the house.
He checked him out.

The bad news was Henry had white patches in his throat.
Bubba said the words, "Strep Throat" and I nearly jumped off the back deck out of frustration. 

The good news was Andrew and Bubba volunteered to drive to Park City so we could start him on an antibiotic that night. 

The bad news was Andrew forgot his wallet which included our insurance information. 

The good news was we had cell phones and could relay information to him over the phone.

The bad news was they arrived at 9:02 p.m.
The pharmacy closed at 9:00 and would NOT fill their order.

The good news was they were heroic and drove to Salt Lake to a 24 hour pharmacy. 

The bad news was they were gone for a long time.
They were missed. 

The good news was bedtime arrived, despite my concern for Henry,
(and all the other kids he'd come in contact with)
 I made myself relax. 

The bad news was the next morning we heard that a cousin had been up all night throwing up. 

The good news was it was time to go boating again.
Henry still had a fever and didn't want to go.
I offered to stay at the cabin with him and Lottie (whom I was watching closely.)
I wanted her to take a good nap.

The bad news was Andrew was torn.
Should he go boating?
Should he stay back with his wife?

The good news was he went boating.
Nana Teresa stayed with me. We had a fun visit.
The plan was for Andrew to do a quick ski run before trading her places.
He'd drive back to the cabin and she'd head to the lake. 

Enter Eliza's story:

The bad news was that plan was foiled by a failed boat engine.

The good news was before the engine failed Eliza surprised Andrew with the following request,
"Dad, will you waterski with me?"
His heart soared with pride as he enthusiastically replied,

The bad news was a few ski runs later,
the boat engine died.

The good news was Andrew the engineer was on board to tinker.

The bad news was he couldn't fix it despite his skills.

The good news was he thought that jump starting it would fix it.

The bad news was Eliza interpreted that suggestion into
"Jumping into the lake"
Pleading to the crew, she asked if the could please contact 911.

Finally, left with no other options, they flagged down another boat and were towed to shore.

The good news was Bubba was coming with the trailer to pull them out.

The bad news was Bubba's car got seriously stuck in the mud.

The good news was Andrew saw someone with a super huge truck and asked for help.
The suburban was rescued.

The bad news was the boat still didn't work.

The good news was Andrew was there to pull/drag the boat  back to where the trailer was.
It took 45 minutes or so.
Brent and Shipley helped too.

That was actually bad news for Andrew. He was pretty sore the next few days.

The good news was everyone made it home.

The bad news was more cousins began throwing up.

The good news was Andrew, feeling bad about Henry's low key day,
whisked Henry away for a one on one fishing trip.

The bad news was his fever hadn't gone anywhere.

The good news was he caught two fish despite feeling crummy.
He was one HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY boy.

The bad news was he was coming unglued.
And so was I.
Feeling a premonition that the barf storm was headed our direction, we left that night.
I wanted to deal with that disturbance with the comfort of my own toilet.

The good news was we made it home without much incident.

The bad news was the barf bug arrived the next morning; which I documented in a previous post.

Despite the ups and downs, we always feel lucky when our time is being spent with family. Our kids have grandparents who love them like crazy, cousins that they could play with around the clock and parents who are getting really good at pretending they have everything under control when in reality we are winging it!  

Thank you Nanna and Bubba for providing us this opportunity to be together as family. You know what they say, "Families that barf together, get stranded together, play together and pray together STAY TOGETHER!" - or something like that! We love you!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

on the mend

The kids are on the tail end of what's been the ugliest bout of illness we've seen this summer. What began with an exclusive-to-Henry fever was violently interrupted by the stomach flu. That flu was shared between our three older children. Lottie's been the slowest to return to full health as that fever attached itself to her next. Her tummy remains unsettled as well. Poor thing.

On the bright side, it hasn't dampened her mood much.
Hello Sunshine!

Having recently returned from another family trip, the downtime at home has been welcome. With school  around the corner, the time to clean out closets, shop for school supplies and bask in the chaos of my four littles has been needed.
It's just a shame that in addition to all that we had to throw in a couple of barf bowls and a lot of cleaning/sanitation supplies. That's life! 

A week ago, on August 8, Forrest hit his 3 month mark. He's such a low key guy. He let his month-iversary pass without acknowledging it. However, it's kind of a BIG deal if you ask his Mama! He's mellow, cuddly and despite my lack of photographic proof is full of huge smiles and giggles. 
This morning, Henry jumped in my bed as I was nursing Forrest. He wanted to be apart of the snuggle cuddle. He still 'ooh's and ahh's' over all that Forrest does. Henry is the one that runs to him when he's crying. He will ask me to lay him on the floor to play and keeps him occupied when I'm needed elsewhere. As Henry reaps the benefits of loving on that brother, the girls are quick to jump and say,

"Hey, I want to hold him now!" or, "I want a turn!"
It makes my heart sing to see them vie for his attention. I cling to these moments.  

Otherwise, that moment when Lottie, clutching at her mid-section, announces,

"My tummy hurts!"  thirty seconds after I've stepped into the shower, would haunt me for the remainder of my day. You see, following said declaration, she becomes still as a statue whilst a look of pain and concern spreads across her face. This look alerts me to the fact that she is in the process of having a serious potty accident in her under-roos. As I stand wet in the shower I realize that the stomach bug is still plaguing her.
Bleh, is right!!

I apologize for the over-share, I'm just keeping things real here in blog land.

I'm feeling reflective (that's Andrew's cue to skip the next few paragraphs) with school starting next week. My thoughts have been spent reviewing our summer. With a new baby in our home, I felt determined to provide my children with memory making opportunities despite the adjustment a new baby brings. I falsely associated this desire with the need for out of the home experiences and/or time spent vacationing. And while I'm grateful for the trips and other local adventures we've shared; the at home, seemingly mundane, memories are among my favorite.

It was a summer of simple, low-key, ragamuffin days; where a new mom to four sat back and waited for her new normal to unfold.
I've started to fill in the calendar with school related events. Knowing that it now applies to two of my children makes my insides churn. Feelings of excitement, sadness and disbelief swim to the surface as we hang up two new backpacks and purchase supplies for two classrooms. There is dread at the thought of the extra amount of paperwork that will be sent home. Next to my fridge an accumulation of 'this, that and the other' will grow like an indoor weed. I'll try my best to be organized and throw things away in a timely fashion but that pile of school related paper will always be there!
Farewell messy faces, late night adventures and mismatched everything. Welcome back routine, strict bedtimes and a regular bath schedule!