Tuesday, April 30, 2013

This old man needs a birthday nap!

This handsome guy entered his thirties completely sleep deprived. In the days leading up to his big day, he was up against a deadline at work. Friday morning, he rolled in around 1:00 a.m. Saturday morning, his 30th birthday, he set a personal record as it was well past 3:00 a.m. when he finally crawled into bed.

Four, painfully short, hours later he was out of bed with the intention of setting up chairs at the church in preparation for Stake Conference.

"What a guy!" is right! Giving him an early present, I deactivated his alarm and excused him via text message  to the elders quorum president. It's a shame that I forgot to deactivate his own children as they bounced in our room shortly after seven asking about soccer games and cinnamon rolls.

He was awake, despite my best efforts, but at least he was ours to spoil. The kids and I had missed him. We sang our first round of 'Happy Birthday' over a fresh batch of cinnamon rolls. Before you feel impressed, they were Pillsbury... even so, they were delicious.

His birthday brought a lot of rain which made Henry and Eliza's Saturday soccer games awesome AND cold; real cold. With their games being held at the same time, I wasn't there to watch Eliza score her first goal ever. Happy birthday to YOU, Andrew!

Next up, we went to the Ogden Nature Center in honor of Eliza (more on that later). My parents met us there. Sadly, due to the rain, we chose not to linger. Returning home, Andrew expressed excitement over the enchiladas that he'd missed out on the night before.

"Those look great. I'm starving." He said. Hungry myself, I understood his sentiment. And then he continued,

"I just realized that I didn't have breakfast today!"

"You mean, you don't remember the four cinnamon rolls you ate this morning?" It's true. His metabolism rolled right on with him into his thirties (can't really say the same for his memory!). Did I mention he was tired?

Laughing and apologizing at the same time, we had lunch and sent him straight to bed for a birthday nap. Feeling refreshed, (laugh out loud), we made our way to Bubba and Nanna Teresa's for a delicious birthday dinner. Aunt Katie went all out on making him a killer 'tire' cake in honor of the spare one he'll never have. ;)
Uncle Mike was also there, all the way from Atlanta, to join in the evening's festivities. 
He opened his gifts next, all of which he loved. The most meaningful was a belt buckle that had once belonged to Andrew's Grandpa Flegal. Coming in second was a hand held device that makes farting noises. Thank you Liz, he LOVES it. The matching bow ties that he received to wear on Sunday with Henry was also well received. Thank you for your kindness Bubba and Nanna.
The October birthday twins share a love. 
And last but not least, Katie invited the gift that kept on giving in the form of one of Andrew's best childhood buddies. Meet Joey (and Franklin)!
I thought I "knew" Joey from my own junior high and high school experiences as we spent those years in the same grade at the same schools.. However, I can say with more confidence that I know him much better as I've now seen him through the eyes of Andrew and in listening to them share memories. Their friendship is one that picks up where it left off. As well as they know each other, there are still revelations made as they exchange a "Remember when" type memory with each other. Shock filled faces, gasps for air and laughter usually follows whatever confession follows that particular opening.

Joey's darling wife Lynsie, Franklin and baby girl Ruthie only add to the draw that we have for us to see their family more often. As I observed Henry and Franklin play, I felt this pull for the pair of them to have a repeat childhood experience. I suppose I ought to craft that sentence with more caution. Knowing the mischief the pair of them created, I wouldn't wish for the same experiences for the second generation, per say. But to have the chance to grow up with a friend like that, is what I'd hope for each one of my children.

"How can we land these kids of ours in the same neighborhood?" It was a question that perplexed me most of the night. Good friends are a blessing. I find it rewarding when Andrew is able to spend time with someone who truly knows him. Thank you Joey and Lynsie for coming and for Katie's thoughtfulness in inviting them. Let's not wait until he's forty to get together again, please!

I love you Andrew and hope you had a very Happy Birthday. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Goblin Valley, day 3

Sometimes life interferes with my plans to polish off a travelogue. When things slow down and I realize that the tail end is still missing to that particular weekend's story, I feel bothered. Better late than never, I hope.

Our final adventure was a stop to the incredibly remote location of Goblin Valley. One minute you're driving in the middle of nowhere, enjoying the view of complete nothingness when suddenly BAM!!!

You stumble upon this amazing scene of crazy!

Embracing the morning chill, we stepped out to begin our self guided exploration. The kids wasted no time in acquainting themselves with the goblins.

 Their imaginations proved superior to the grown-ups that accompanied them as they articulated what the formations looked like from their charming child-like perspectives. I will say, however, that I was the first one to point out the 'condition' of this particular (albeit, headless) goblin.
(36 weeks pregnant)

How I wish I could have scaled the back of that formation and put my head between the rocks as it would be a fair representation of how I currently feel.

I was able to manage to squeeze into this window with Andrew. In the moment, you think that sticking your head in the window of a rock like that is "cute." But the truth is, we kind of look silly... for lack of a better word.
When posing with the kids, you can rely on them to supply the cute factor. Asking them to pose for another picture isn't always well received. However, when you throw cousins and Nana Marie into the mix, they are usually quicker to comply.
The kids climbed the rocks, took turns scaring each other and snacked on crackers while sitting on the rocks; among other rock related activities. The real thrill of the morning, in my opinion, was when Andrew chased down a lizard.

 And introduced him to the kids.
 It was love at first sight for Henry. He wants a lizard of his own. Man, was he happy holding that lizard.
 Lottie said it best as she trotted along her Dad's side that morning.

"I'm so happy here!" And as happy as the hours spent in Southern Utah were, it was time for us to hit the road and return home.

It was a great way to end our little get-away. The drive home, I suppose, is an adventure itself; especially if it includes Lottie finding a rogue piece of ice on the floor of a fast food restaurant and casually popping it into her mouth before all of the eyewitnesses can scream,

"No! Don't!!!!!"

But those kind of adventures are scary and best kept to yourself! I expect that my next 'vacation' will be at the maternity ward of a hospital, so until that excitement hits, I return the blog to our days of normalcy at home.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Got Sand? Arches, day 2

 This is what having fun for 
FREE-EEEEEEEE (!!!!!!!!!)
looks like.

Just outside the entrance to Arches is a monster sized sand hill. While my family braved the crazy winds a top of Delicate Arch, we parked it in front of the sand hill for a fun morning of sand centered play. But first, we had to make bathroom stop # 57 for the pregnant lady at the visitor's center.
As we pulled into the park that morning, I noticed Henry staring out his window intently. Transfixed by the sight of the giant formations of rock that greet visitors old and new, I heard him quietly exclaim,

"I love this place."

Positive feedback, that is unexpectedly provided, is the cream in my cocoa. It's that sugary surge of inner-satisfaction that only my children can reward me with. Henry's comment set that tone to my morning. Bless him.
Let it be noted, children also have the same power to damage, deflate and discourage the happiness level of parents. This comes in the form of poor attitudes, bad-owies and meltdowns born of exhaustion. I'm choosing not to dwell on those instances but would be lying if I said that those moments never cropped up.

 Eliza was the first to scale the massive hill. It was a feat that she'd perform many times that day. Henry, along with his trusty dump truck, went to work doing whatever it is the pair of them do. Lottie demonstrated both determination and physical endurance as she also trekked it to the top of the hill. Nervous to stand, she opted to scoot her bum the e.n.t.i.r.e. way down the hill. Her little bum scooting marks make me laugh.

Sorry to disappoint you with the absence of a photo of me sitting in my camping chair in all my lazy pregnant lady glory. That's where I spent my time... enjoying the view of my family, passing out fruit roll-ups, encouraging drinks of water and taking pictures when I felt so inspired.

It's a hard life. :)  
Hours passed. It was time to meet back up with the hikers for lunch. The wind was intense and the crowd of visitors was thick. Hearing of our successful morning at the hill, we returned there for a second helping with our cousins in tow.

Later that day, we hiked Park Avenue. And while the trail is totally kid friendly... my body yelled at me in protest as it reminded me how near I am to delivering a baby. The braxton hicks were some of the strongest I've experienced to date. Despite those reminders, that hike was one of my favorite hours spent at Arches.
The day prior we hiked Landscape Arch. I didn't have too much trouble there even though the inclines and changes in elevation were more pronounced. It was just fun, you know? Walking with family, enjoying the scenery and appreciating the cooperation of the weather.

Landscape Arch

Eliza chose to walk with cousins while her slow Mom and thoughtful Dad were the caboose of the family train. Lottie spent a little time in the back pack carrier, but when she had her way, she was hiking on her own two, size 5 shoe, feet.

Our evenings were spent swimming at the pool of the hotel. Oh? You thought I was camping? As important as a descent bed is to a pregnant woman, I have to add that being at a close distance to a bathroom is equally essential.

So yes, the swimming pool was another happy place for the kids. They had a great time. Different conversations have brought out different answers to the question, "What was your favorite thing about your trip?" Quite often, the kids have said that the time at the pool was their favorite.

Bedtime, which includes trying to stifle the children's giggles, was my favorite. Look what it gave me.
The thought that maybe, they went to sleep holding hands.

Monday, April 15, 2013

From Sunscreen to Snow Boots - Arches, day 1

Still basking in memory's warm glow of our sun-filled weekend to Arches, I couldn't help but feel amused as another part of my personality took pleasure in the sight of the giant snow flakes that graced the view out  our window this morning.

"Eliza, please find your snow boots." I heard myself say. The day prior, I had to beg her to slow down long enough to allow me to invade her little face with my two sunscreen covered palms.

Spring will come and at some point, hopefully soon, will decide to stay without further disruption from the harsh reach of Winter! Until then, we'll take our warm days with gratitude and appreciate our escape to pleasant Southern Utah that much more.

South Carolina provided Andrew and I with the opportunity to introduce our kids to the excitement of the beach. Our childhoods, however, we're spent exploring the unique and majestic landscape of Southern Utah. Countless vacations were enjoyed at various state/national parks with family friends. We hiked, went four wheeling, played night games, danced under the stars and talked around camp fires. For those unfamiliar with 'our story,' it was on one these trips that Andrew and I "met" on a hike and in a matter of what felt like minutes, fell in love.

Southern Utah holds a special place in our hearts. Up until this weekend, all of my memories associated with the grand red rock formations were strictly tied to my childhood/youth, as we had not yet had the chance to introduce our kids to its wonders. Yes, I'm probably over-glorifying it all, but there were a few times this weekend when I was really surprised to find myself in a van with three children, a pregnant belly and a map in my hands.

"How did I become the big grown up whose job it was to pour over the map and determine how we'd spend our morning?" I'm pretty used to being a Mom, I think. At least I thought I was until I was the one standing at the back of the van, filling up water bottles and doling out snacks while a troop of bouncing kids, claiming to belong to me, were pleading to start the first hike.

Friday afternoon, we arrived at Sand Dune Arch. In a matter of minutes we were reunited with Nana Marie, Birthday Boy Papa, my four siblings and their families. It was a GREAT way to begin our family vacation.

The kids get their first taste of red rock country.


A top of the arch, the boys show us what their made of.

Meanwhile, the ladies enjoyed sunning themselves.

Except this lady... 
Attached to her own personal baby cooker,
she welcomed the shade;
and the camping chair her thoughtful Mister had carried in for her.


 I want to remember the sight of a joyful Henry zooming about
as he took in his new surroundings.
He just ran and ran.
 Eliza bounced between socializing with cousins 
and getting lost in her sand creations.

Lottie was thrilled when Nana surprised us with cupcakes
to celebrate Papa's birthday.

Cousins, sand, dump trucks, cupcakes... definitely a winning combination


 It's not just our story anymore.
 And while I clearly remember when it was my turn to dig in the sand and aimlessly zoom about,
I have to say that this lot of ours has made growing up entirely worth it.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Deflating Spirit Week

From crazy socks to crazy hair....there is an unmistakable feel of crazy in the air.

With a to-do list sufficient with items to keep me occupied, I couldn't help but feel a sense of relief knowing that it was completely void of doctor/dentist/ob appointments. As awesome as it feels to bust out a co-pay every other day, I welcomed the reprieve.

Eliza's week involved a book fair, a fundraiser, a really cold soccer practice and SpIRiT WeEK!!!

Go School GO!!
The night before Hat Day (Monday) our area was pummeled by another wind storm. Andrew rescued me from the hardship of trying to sleep that night with ear plugs. The kids, thankfully, slept through all the hustle and bustle. With the cold of that storm lingering, Eliza met up with her soccer team for practice on Tuesday night. It was freezing, but she was encased in a solid mass of layered clothing; complete with gloves. She had a great night at soccer despite the chill in the air.
 Wednesday morning, pajama day for those who care, she began to complain of feeling sick. Knowing she'd been playing out in the cold the night before, I can't say I was completely surprised... but then when she began to identify symptoms familiar of strep throat, I had to fight the urge to go run my head through a wall.

Up until February of this year, Eliza has never had strep throat. February was her first spell with strep. Parents everywhere, I've learned, abdominal pain and aching legs are two symptoms that may arise first. That threw me off when she first came down with the illness. The sore throat and fever, in her case, showed up later. For Eliza, the major 'tell' is the thick, mucus filled, sound of her voice.  

Three weeks ago, she was hit with strep again. I was proud that I didn't waste anytime taking her into be tested, but totally discouraged when my instinct was proven correct. Once more, I threw away toothbrushes, washed her bedding, coats/jackets, stuffed animals... etc. She showers regularly, I sanitize surfaces, etc. The remaining four family members have remained well each time. What is the deal?

So you can imagine my shame, frustration and concern when I called Wednesday to take her in to be tested again. You know, at the rate we're going, a week without a visit to the doctor would simply be incomplete. :)

After her exam, the doctor said that we'd have to wait a day for the results. The rapid test, he explained, could give a false positive since she had it recently. Go ahead and send her to school, he told me.

"Her throat is pink, not red. I think she's okay."

Knowing that her doctor's son is IN HER SAME CLASS at school, I began to breathe easy. Eliza fought me on going to school but I trusted in her physician's advice... off to school she went.

Without asking for Tylenol or any other pain relief, I watched her play Wednesday afternoon per usual. I still noticed her symptoms but deemed them as being 'cold-like' ... not to mention, she hasn't fevered. Long story short, this morning the nurse called to report that.... YOU GUESSED IT! She has strep! Again! Awesome!

"Hi. Remember me school secretary lady?"

"Oh great. You do. I'm that Mom who checked her child in late yesterday. I actually am here to collect her. She has strep throat. And yes, I'm sorry I allowed her to come to school knowing it was a possibility."

"Have a nice weekend." 

Before Eliza finishes this round of medication, we will all be tested to see if any of us are 'strep carriers.' Her classmates, her teachers told me, have not had strep. It's a mystery and because I hate feeling like a continued failure, I am going to try and solve it. She is back on her 'pink medicine.' I just wish he'd prescribed something for me as well. Chocolate just isn't cutting it.

I'm really feeling the effects of the third trimester. I find myself inventing new bad words in my head each time life requires me to pick something up or I have to get my huge self off of the floor. Sleeping is hard which makes productivity (and clear mindedness) harder to come by the following day. And while I'm grateful for my pregnancy, I sometimes wish I could take a ten minute vacation and zip out of my 'fat suit' - except it isn't a suit at all... it's all me, sadly... for a quick little break!

Feeling like a downer, I will end with the positive news that Lottie went # 2 on the potty this week. Huzzah!
And in honor of my dear daughter, who is citizen of the month by the way (so so proud), here's another fun(ny) dancing video I'd like to share. This is how we settle down the children at bedtime. ;)

P.S. I love Henry's laugh.