Wednesday, October 30, 2013

October creeps by

Before the blog is hijacked by jack-o-lanterns, cute kids in store bought costumes and other Halloween happenings, I need to squeeze in a few autumn time treasures from recent weeks.

Taking advantage of the warm weather, we've spent a lot of time outdoors. Painting the chicken coop has been on Andrew's list of to-dos for the last five months. He was more than ready to bust out that paint. Lucky for him he had three eager helpers, draped in bright green smocks, ready to work. 

If our family had our own personalized theme song (think bright and cheery), it would play loudly during activities like this. Seeing the kids work along side their Pa, whilst Ma tends to the baby on a blanket in the warmth of the sun, makes me feel good inside. Unplugged, paint splattered faces and a healthy supply of teamwork makes me feel old fashioned and dorky. And I'm okay with that.
 
 
 Any eggs? 
What a clever design.

Andrew would like me to mention that the coop is still in need of white trimming. Hopefully we have another sunny Saturday on the way. As for Farmer Henry, he'd like you to meet our chickens.

You'll be pleased to know we have a new to us vehicle. While on the hunt for our new car, we landed at a car dealership that gave us four free pumpkins. However, there are six of us now so we stopped by a nearby pumpkin lot to grab a few more.
 Thank you Nanna Teresa for the fun Halloween skirts!

Last Saturday, we left early to pick up Andrew's new car in Herriman. We had a little extra time so we went hunting for witches at Gardner Village. We weren't there very long, but I think it was worth the stop as the kids really enjoyed themselves.


My cute little pumpkins!

That afternoon we attended cousin Brynn's baptism. It was a special day for her and we were so happy that we were able to attend. It's hard to believe that Eliza is next in line!
After the baptism, we went back to Bubba and Nanna's. Andrew's back was giving him a lot of grief so he rested and waited for his medicine to kick in while we visited. The kids had fun helping Bubba on his projects outside and going for a scooter ride.

Sunday was the Primary program. This experience deserves mention. For me, it's an experience that I looked forward to with great anticipation. The kids have been working hard practicing their parts and learning each song. A few Sunday's prior, I caught a sneak peek as I walked into the chapel during a practice. Henry and Eliza both waved at me enthusiastically from the stand. It was a sweet taste of what was to come the day of the program.

However, the over confident Mother of four tasted a sweet slice of humble pie instead. Knowing where my kids were on the stand, I went in ahead of time to secure a row for our Nana's who were driving up to see it. Ten minutes before the  meeting began, cute Forrest who was wearing a darling plaid button up shirt under a pair of denim overalls wee wee'd himself while Andrew was changing his diaper. A few minutes before Sacrament meeting begins, Andrew walks in carrying our redneck baby who is now wearing his overalls minus his shirt. I didn't have a spare outfit in the diaper bag. I am trying to cut back on what we bring to Church because seriously we look like we're headed to the airport each week. Yes. I re-learned my lesson. So as I was trying to soothe my half naked baby, Henry who had been bouncing in his seat (literally), manages to SLAM his head into the pew ahead of us. Instant tears. Instant goose egg.
Andrew only has a few minutes to calm him down before the kids would be invited to take their seats on the stand. I pray for a miracle as Henry and his throbbing injury walk back in to the chapel.

"It's almost time to go take your seat!" I say with a forced smile. His tears return as he melts into the floor.

"I don't want anyone to see my bump." He starts to cry. My heart breaks. BUT GOSH DARN IT! He has worked so hard. I want to see his darling smile on the stand so much. I'm selfish. I admit it.

"How about I give you a mint for courage?" One mint turns into several as I fill his pockets for him to take "on the road" to the stand. His hesitation returns. I see a random five dollar bill in my bag. I never have cash. But I know it's mine.

"How about five dollars?" The people sitting on the row ahead of us bust up laughing at my bribe. Again, I'm a horrible person. A few minutes into the program, he allows me to escort him to his seat. He leaves the money behind. His seat is right next to the Bishop. It was funny to watch the Bishop as he took in the sight of Henry's huge goose egg.

And the rest is history. Half naked redneck baby fell asleep in the arms of my next door, Saint-like, neighbor. She offered to take him so we wouldn't have to miss a second of the program. Henry and Eliza delivered their parts beautifully. The only time I wanted to cry was when I realized that my little Lottie will be up there with them next year.

It goes so fast.

Sunday night, after the kids have been tucked into bed, I hear a creeper. Someone is sneaking down the stairs. My patience starts to falter. And then I see who it is.

In pajamas that he outgrew months ago and a super sad goose egg on his forehead, my sweet boy smiles at me and says,

"Hey Mom. About that five dollars..." Oh how I love him.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Happy Birthday Lottie-Licious!!

Dear Lottie,

You are three!!!
"Today is my birthday!" 

In the days leading up to your big day, you'd regularly announce, "It's my birthday!" Finally, after waking up to balloons, a cheap-o (yet hung with love) birthday banner and the well loved, 'You Are Special Today' birthday plate, it was confirmed that it was indeed your birthday! Hooray!

We've been lucky that the last two years, your birthday has landed on 'fall break.' Remembering the fun we had last year, we decided to take a repeat birthday trip to the zoo with our other favorite birthday girl, Nanna Teresa, Katie, the twin-kies, Aunt Sara and her Taylor-tots (I inherited Papa's knack of nicknaming those we love. I can't help myself.)

But before making the drive to the zoo, we rushed through your birthday breakfast and allowed you to open one gift to stir the butterflies of happy anticipation!
 
You were so happy to meet Ariel. The good news is she is a bath toy and, wait for it, bilingual. I love that you've embraced Disney princess shows. Eliza was (and probably still is) scared of many of them. You love them all and when those scary moments do arrive, you nestle into my side and tell me that you "don't like this part."

We made it to the zoo where you were greeted to a round of warm birthday hugs. After that, the fun began. 
 





It should be noted, that it was Forrests first trip to the zoo. :)
Hey look! It's a Fleglet nest.
"Say Popcorn"

After our trip to the zoo, we went to Nana Marie's for lunch and nap time. Nana made you a special princess bed in her guest bedroom. You took a big birthday nap and so did Forrest.
Pretty much everyone's wild about Lottie.

After a nice visit, we made our way to a birthday party that honored you, Nanna and cousin Syrelle who recently turned seven. The theme was Pinkalicious! Your favorite.


Your cousin Cecelia did a great job coloring Nanna's house pink! Her creativity really shined as she found different ways to pink-a-fy the place.
After the guests arrived, the party started. Cousins played, we ate Aunt Katie's homemade pizza, presents were opened and we sang Happy Birthday to our three birthday girls.
Oh Miss Lottie,

We love you so much. I mention a lot how close you are with your Daddy; and it's true. He adores you.
"Daddy is there a space for me?"
 
However, since I'm at the helm of this post, I want to also say how much I treasure the time we have while the big kids are at school. That's when we do our best cuddling. :) You keep me company as I work on my jobs which I really appreciate. I get to spend time with your smile all day long which is why I think I have one of the best jobs in the world.

You play your role as sister perfectly. Right on schedule, you've arrived at an age where you want your hands all over Eliza's room. The idea of you touching her things makes her skin crawl. Considering how you broke the arm off her only boy barbie doll last week, I have to say that she has a point. I think you miss Henry most when the kids are away which is why I'm glad he's home in time to have lunch with you. The pair of you are best friends and are also the two that argue the most. Even so, I love that you two share a room together. In the morning I sometimes find Henry in your bed giving you a 'snuggle cuddle.' As for Forrest, whenever the family begins to hand out, "I loves you" to one another; your immediate response is,

"I love Forrest." You are attentive to his cries and want me to believe that you are fully capable of being in charge of him. I'm not just saying this because you're the birthday girl but you seriously make him laugh the most of anyone in the family. It doesn't matter the circumstance, if that baby catches sight of you, he just laughs.
 
You are bubbly, well spoken, potty trained (that was hard, but we did it), bright and clever as heck. Your big brown eyes sparkle and your curly hair seems indicative of your wild, bouncy personality. Even though you produce tantrums that try my patience like nothing else, we feel so lucky that you are ours.                                            
Happy birthday darling girl. Mommy loves you.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Two Angels

Regarding Andrew's car accident, thank you for your kindness and well wishes on his behalf. We've appreciated the support and concern. After meeting with his physician, Andrew began physical therapy. He's encouraged by the improvement in his neck but is still experiencing consistent pain in his back. We feel that he's receiving quality care and expect that injuries like his take time and patience to recover from.

Things are progressing well on the insurance/business side of things. We're most definitely in the market for a new car. However, we've kind of hit a standstill reminiscent of when expectant parents hit a roadblock as they discuss possible names for a new baby. The time to make a decision is fast approaching and we haven't been giving the subject adequate attention. :)

This past week was one of contrasting emotions. As Eliza recovered from a five day fever, my focus on her well-being shifted back to the accident. Revisiting my most recent post left me unsettled. I was more upset than I was the night I wrote it. And while I wasn't in the car at the time of his accident, it has affected how I feel when I am out and about in the car with the children.

Despite my nerves, I wanted to make fall break memorable. Thanks to my Aunts Dawnie and Marilyn, my kids were treated to a morning of horseback riding last Thursday. Since our outing to "the barn," Henry's been pleading for a return trip. The girls and I had a great time too! It was fun to watch Eliza and Henry's confidence evolve from wanting constant assistance to insisting that they could trot on their own. As Henry's horse broke into a trot for the first time, the smile on Henry's face lit up the whole place. Excuse the motherly exaggeration, but I loved it. Speaking of trotting, I was hesitant but after seeing my Mom do it beautifully, I found the courage (and was motivated by the fear of being labeled a giant wimp) and went for it. My horse, whose name was also Henry, was awesome. The only thing missing was Andrew who would have been in heaven. If Henry has anything to say about it, we'll be back to see Dakota and Henry again soon.


Friday, October 18th was a day of celebration as we partied the day away with a very animated, joyful, oh how we adore her...THREE year old named Lottie. Unbeknown to her, it was also a day filled with heartache as I learned that day that two different families that we know lost a child.

Having long admired the Coleman family, we've followed their family's journey with SMA closely. In their most challenging moments, we've offered our prayers and tried to find words of support. From a distance, we've celebrated Maggie's milestones and marveled at her parents devotion and strength. It was devastating to learn that she was called back to her Heavenly home last week. Driving home from Lottie's birthday party on Friday night, Andrew and I both cried as we talked of Maggie, Jonas and their amazing parents.

At 2:00 a.m, the following morning, I received a heart wrenching phone call from a friend in my ward. Her baby boy had passed away and she was in need of help. The details aren't mine to share, but I will say that the passing of her beloved son was completely unexpected. Having spoken to her at such a tender time has forever changed my heart. Once again, we were left reeling by an unimaginable tragedy. After securing her the help she needed, we were left to cry, pray and wonder why. Sleep was next to impossible as the shock and distress of these situations consumed me.

I wish I had an uplifting, inspirational type thought to share to help explain why bad things happen to the best of people, but I don't. It's just heart wrenching to me. For now, my greatest hope is that while they wait for that promised day of reunion and resurrection, these angel Mothers and their families will receive heavenly comfort and peace. We're called by the Savior to 'mourn with those that mourn' and while I wish I knew the most perfect way to do that, I don't. I'm trying though. Admiring these Mothers as I do, it's also left me with a stronger resolve to be better to my children. Make each day count. That's what Lindsey did so well. You never know.

Maggie's touching obituary can be found here.

As for baby Corbyn, his obituary won't be available until this weekend. However, a charitable fund to help the Cordingley's has been set up. It's under his name, "Corbyn Cordingley" at America First Credit Union. I will return to this post with a link to his obituary as it becomes available. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Fare Thee Well, 4Runner

Thursday, October 10
He's going to be okay.
Andrew was involved in a serious car accident on Thursday night. And while I'm sure it would be best hearing the story from Andrew's perspective, he nominated me for the job. Happily, my ready-to-type fingers accepted the assignment. As imperfect as my writing is, it's my therapy.

............................................

A half hour has passed since I've put my four children to bed. Looking at the clock, I silently congratulate myself. It is 8:00 p.m. Not only is my home in total disarray but I have three baskets of clean laundry taunting me. I've neglected that job long enough. Despite my list of to-dos, my spirits are high. I will be able to work on putting my house to bed without interruption. What a gift! On top of that, I am looking forward to watching the tribute episode of Glee memorializing the late Cory Montieth.

"I need to run to the auto-parts store." Andrew's words interrupt my train of thought. His focus has returned to his 4-runner. I mentioned a few posts back that we've grown frustrated with his vehicle as it continues to fail its emission's tests; despite his best efforts.

"What about the garage door?" The inconvenience of a defective garage door is higher on my list of life's inconveniences. "When's that getting fixed?" I should be batting my eyelashes to maximize my attempt to get him to alter Mr. Fix-it's evening plans.

"I'm going to take it in tomorrow to have it inspected again. I need to work on it tonight." I don't remember if we said a proper "goodbye" when he left. I've already zoned out into my world of 'let's make believe that housework is fun'  in an attempt to decompress from my day. Eliza was on 'day two' of having a fever. Even though her tonsils have been removed, her symptoms remind me of strep. The thought of that plague returning frightens me.

It doesn't take long before I am fully invested in Glee. However, instead of reaching for the box of Kleenex, I am grabbing my ringing cell phone. Seeing his name, I am tempted to give him a feigned dose of grief for interrupting my show. Thankfully, I decide not to.

"Hello?"

"Ali." The tone in his voice is full of distress. "I think you should know I've been in an accident." My stomach falls to the floor. A flood of emotion erupts inside me; concern, disbelief and gratitude. I am thankful to be hearing his voice. He's okay enough for that. What if this call is coming from inside of an ambulance? It's depressing how quickly your mind jumps to the worst case scenario. I find my first question.

"Are you okay?" His voice cracks as he replies,

"Yes." And then I hear my rock of a husband emotionally collapse. He is crying. I don't have the courage to ask if the accident was his fault. But I have to know,

"Is everyone else okay?" Please God, please.

"Yes." Relief swells inside of me. Next he tells me where he is. Without much warning, he tells me he has to hang up. Immediately, I call our neighbor. Someone needs to be with him. In a matter of minutes, our hero neighbor arrives and I'm running out the door. I have the wherewithal to grab an umbrella as the rain is falling at a steady pace.

I arrive at the gas station parking lot. With the umbrella in hand, I make my way to the sidewalk. Standing next to the busy intersection, one that I frequent on a regular basis, I take in the frightening scene. Opposite of where I am now, is my husband. Standing in the rain, I see him pacing between two smashed up vehicles. His 4-runner, it appears, has been demolished. Debris litters the pavement. The lights of the emergency vehicles emphasizes the strength of the rain that will not relent. Not knowing I am there, I call him. It is clear that I am on the wrong side of the interstate. 

Moments later I am offering him my arms. I hope he can feel my attempt at bravery. If there's an ounce of strength I can give him, I want him to take it. He is shaking but I don't think it's from the rain. I'm no expert, but the man is in shock. Gathering himself in a blanket, we retreat to my car where we start the heater. He begins to explain what happens. But first, there's a knock at the window. It's the paramedic.

"I've checked your husband. His vitals are okay. I will save him a trip in the ambulance if you promise to take him to the e.r." I promise him. Finally, the story.

Having approached the intersection, Andrew comes to a complete stop. His light is red. In a moment, he will be crossing highway 89. It's a busy road, for lack of a better description. Drivers average 50 to 60 mph on it. The light turns green and Andrew begins to make his way through the light. The auto-part store is straight ahead. He's a little more than half-way across the intersection when a woman driving a jeep wrangler pummels into the passenger side of his car, near the backseat where one of our children could have, but thankfully weren't, been sitting.


"I never saw her coming." He says quietly. The force of impact sends his car spinning. The rear of his car then collides with the front of a massive Chevy Silverado (a.k.a a huge truck). The Silverado had been opposite of where Andrew was before he crossed the street. They were waiting for him to pass through so they could turn left.
The second point of impact:
Andrew's car spins and its rear collides with the front of the Silverado 

The woman in the jeep admits to running the red light. Honestly we have no idea, but we can't help but wonder if she'd been texting. Who blatantly runs a red light at 60 mph?

Andrew doesn't remember it happening. What he does remember is feeling confused, overwhelmed and frustrated.

"I couldn't find my glasses!"

They'd been knocked off his face. Finding them, he exits his car only to discover that he's uncomfortable standing. He sits back in his car in an attempt to collect himself. The drivers establish that everyone is 'alright' as the police officer begins sorting out the mess.

As we talk through these events and return to his car to observe the damage, I am overwhelmed with gratitude that it wasn't worse. He is walking, talking and thinking clearly. Finding an empty car seat in the back of his smashed vehicle, we both fight back tears as we imagine what would have happened had  one of our kids been with him. Andrew frequents the auto-part store often and usually has a side-kick or two with him. I am heart sick.

As we wait for the paper work to be processed by the police officer, Andrew begins to decline physically. After talking to the officer we bid farewell to his car and for the hospital. Doug and Teresa are on their way to help. I thank Heavenly Father again for kind neighbor's, caring parents and for the fact that our kids are each sleeping soundly in their beds, blissfully unaware.

What I'll remember most from the e.r. was another person's nightmare. As a nurse evaluated Andrew in triage, I watched through an open window as a woman, probably close to my own age, ran into the arms of a loved one in the waiting room.

The girl sobbed, "He's dead!" I couldn't believe what she was saying. It was like I was watching a scene out of a horror film. I wanted to intrude upon them all and hug her myself, but thankfully remembered my place. As they wheel Andrew into his 'room' we pass the grieving girl and her group of supporters. A few feet away, a paramedic stands alone in the corner crying. He had been involved in her experience in some capacity. I tip my hat to him and everyone else who experience and help people through moments like hers on a regular basis. What a hard, horrible thing.

As for Andrew, I think that he'll remember how painfully awkward the neck brace was the most. He was not a fan.
 
The blessings on his behalf continued as his x-rays showed no signs of injury as well as the positive results from an ultrasound. Still, he suffers from whiplash and other injuries as he took quite the beating. It was a late night and we were all exhausted, Andrew's kind parents as well, when it was all said and done.

This morning Henry discovered Andrew's neck brace on the kitchen counter.

"What's this?" His curiousity had him smiling. With my three Fleglets seated around the counter, I told them what had happened to their Dad and his *beloved (*I use that term loosely) 4-runner. I was truthful, yet calm, as I explained in terms they'd understand.

"I want you to know that Heavenly Father watched out for your Dad." My sudden tears must be contagious as I can see that Eliza's eyes have suddenly filled with them as well. "Even though his car was hit, he was protected from serious injury." As I'm speaking, Eliza races to her box of crayons and grabs a piece of paper. She is in automatic, "Make my Dad a get well card" mode. It was touching.

Henry, bless his heart, wanted to know everything. He wanted to see photos, talk about air bags and know right away what his Dad's replacement car will be. Henry thought Andrew's 4-runner was the coolest thing ever. Unaffected by the stress we once had to get it to pass safety and emissions, he is the most sad about the total loss of that vehicle.
And as for Miss Lottie, she was just happy to have an extra day with Daddy at home.
Andrew's emotions have steadied; allowing mine to fluctuate. One minute I'll be looking at Andrew and suddenly be overcome. Seeing him standing in our kitchen washing vegetables from our garden and laying on a blanket in the sunshine about did me in today.
  
In another instance, I'm laying down, desperate for a nap, but sleep is out of reach. I'm heart sick once more as the "what-if" scenarios creep back in.

As I've said already, we have a lot to be thankful for as we take in the solemn reminder of how fragile life is. God could call any of us home, at anytime. For the blessing of sparing Andrew further injury and death, I am deeply thankful. With the help of medicine, he is managing his pain alright. Hopefully he won't have any long term damage.
 Andrew's super awesome manager from work
 stopped by tonight with these get-well cookies.
The kids were thrilled! 

Goal!

Forrest, that little party animal, hopped on the 'let's be nocturnal' train last Friday (oct .4) night. Two words, baby boy:

"Not cool!" I'm past wanting to speculate the reasons why but will say that it was a painful way to begin the weekend. Miraculously, Andrew and I responded to our alarm Saturday morning. Rally the troops, it's soccer time! Even with the blurred vision, born of my lingering exhaustion, I could see that the grass outside had been glossed by a healthy layer of frost. A few minutes later, we were playing paper, rock, scissors to see whose good fortune it would be to wake the now slumbering babe and place him in his car seat.
 
With his fans situated under a mountain of blankets, Henry took the field. A few minutes later, Bubba arrived.
 When Fall and Winter meet

Henry had a great time at his game. The cold weather didn't seem to phase him. Thankfully, the sun was shinning by the time we left for Eliza's game. Knowing that Bubba wouldn't be able to stay for her entire game, her awesome coach made sure she played the first two quarters. She would prove, however, that she'd only need the first to make her first goal of the season! 

Ladies and Gentlemen, I played the fool as I watched that ball connect with net. I was up on my feet, spinning like a drunken crazy person as I cheered wildly for my girl. A fellow soccer Mom could be heard explaining to her husband,

"It's her daughter's first goal." A teammate of Eliza's later said to her Mom, 

"Eliza's Mom almost fell over when she was cheering for Eliza!"
It was a sweet moment. We were glad Bubba was there to see it.
The lingering chill in the morning air did not dissuade Eliza from cashing in on the season's promise of a 'big' slurpee for scoring a goal. Wrapping up her game, we made our way to seven eleven. Slurpees for all! 

Rewinding to Friday afternoon, we were pleasantly surprised (thrilled, really) to hear that our cousins from Alaska were in town!! On the flip side, we were sad to learn that the reason for their unexpected visit was because Jen's Grandfather passed away. Having surprised my Mom in a big way that morning, we met up with the Mays crew at my sister's house that afternoon. It felt so normal to see the kids back together again, but you feel the blessing of family so much more after a giant move like theirs. 
 How's that for an awkward reunion? 
I think they're standing in a box.
And now they are hugging in a box.

Scott wanted no part of it. 
So he hid behind the couch. :) 
A few more of the crew.
Say, "cheese" Eliza.
Forrest had a lot of catching up to do.

The rest of the weekend was listening to general conference, introducing the kids to this song while enjoying a delicious conference morning breakfast and then spending the rest of Sunday with the Flegals in Salt Lake. It was a great weekend.