Monday, December 30, 2013

In our Christmas Jammies

Christmas Eve 2013

The Friday before Christmas, I picked Eliza up from school. As she entered the car, silent satisfaction swelled in my heart knowing I had my children all to myself for Christmas break. In the days that followed, said satisfaction shattered as a result of frustration over the sudden increase in bickering and fighting. Over exposure, a change in routine... whatever the cause, I wasn't sure!

"It's time to go outside and play!" I ordered following one particularly long afternoon.  
Four cute snowmen later, my children were cured of their grumps and happiness was restored.

And so it's been with the holiday season. In between the parties and merry making, colds crop up, arguments break out, shopping lists are forgotten and exhaustion sets in. Acknowledging life's norms, I generally opt to take photos of the scenes of peace, beauty and fun. So please take that all into consideration as I return to the sparkly, happy moments of our holiday recap.

Christmas Sunday, we dressed up our girls kids in their holiday best and headed to Salt Lake so that we could attend Church with my parents. My Dad is currently serving as a Bishop and knowing that he was speaking that day, we surprised him. It was an exciting meeting considering his ward consists of young single adults. And by 'exciting,' I mean the noise my kids typically make during a meeting wasn't masked by other children in the congregation. Despite the added pressure to keep our children reverent, we enjoyed a wonderful service.
As far as a family photo goes, this is the best we could do. Forrest actually had a "Christmas outfit," because apparently stuff like that matters, but obviously it didn't matter enough as I found it in a dirty pile of clothes that morning. :\ Whatever.

Yes, I am aware that it's December. Both girlies had sweaters but ditched them before these photos were taken. The best part of Eliza's dress is that the skirt is alive with glitter. Leaving Church that morning, her previous occupied seat on the bench was covered in merry red sparkles. Literally, she spread a little Christmas cheer wherever she sat that day.
Sunday night, the rest of the crew joined us at my Mom's for dinner. It was delicious. Per tradition, it was time for the Nativity.
Lottie was dressed as an angel for approximately two minutes before she decided she wanted no part in the production. I was just happy that she was willing to be apart of the photo. 

Forrest, on the other hand, masterfully played the part of Baby Jesus.  
"No crying he makes"
It was amazing.

Henry about stole the show (or at least my heart) when I observed him tenderly stroking Forrest's face during the reading. That little boy is loaded up with sensitivity. The night ended with a fun game introduced to us by Matt and Allison. It's simple and easy to follow which allowed small children and sleep deprived Mothers to follow along. It was a great night. 

Last minute errands, the delivery of neighborhood gifts, cleaning (BLEH!) and snuggling in Mom and Dad's bed to watch, The Santa Clause, helped pass the time until we reached Christmas Eve!(!!!!!!!!!!!)

Our cute babysitter agreed to come over that morning so Santa could run a few errands without the children. Andrew worked until about noon. He came home and we were ready to get our holiday on. We met his parents at Texas roadhouse for dinner (3:30 p.m.). Going early was a great decision. By the time we left, it was a MAD HOUSE! It was so crazy that by the time we made it out to the sidewalk we realized that we'd lost a Henry.

With the other three in the care of Nanna and Bubba, Andrew and I braved the crowds once more to rescue him. Henry heeded our previously given advice. 

"If you lose Mom and Dad, stay where you are." Obviously shaken up, Andrew returned him to my arms a few minutes later. He was teary but very brave. Other than that little scare, we had a very nice time. 
This cute boy was so good in the restaurant. 
He sure made a mess of the menus and the toys I brought him, 
but we'll take it!

Nanna and Bubba were so sweet as they followed us up to our house. They were there as we squeezed one last lesson in on the true meaning of Christmas. By the time I said, 'Amen,' Eliza was bouncing up and down; eager to open their Christmas Eve gifts! 

It began with Christmas jammies (cue the song that immediately began to play in my head for the remainder of the night) and then the obligatory photo by the tree.

"If you let us take a family picture by the tree, you can open your last Christmas Eve gift." 

Eliza was so excited when she realized Grace also got a new jammie dress!

Finally, we passed out their ornament. In recent years, I've stuck with the tradition that the holiday ornament has a recent photo of the kids. It's been fun to see the progression.

A few Christmas songs later, it was time for bed! Knowing Santa had some work to do in Eliza's bedroom that night, we were able to convince her to sleep in Henry and Lottie's room. Andrew did have to go 'sit with the kids' at one point when their excitement turned into frustration (due to cute little sister that wouldn't allow big sister to fall asleep).

"Goodnight!" I sang, "We'll see you at 7:30!" Threats over what the consequences would be if they came out sooner had already been made. :)

Sure enough, 7:31 a.m. those cute kids bounced into our room the following morning!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Laughing all the way

Mother Nature played her part well last weekend. With Christmas only days away, she generously distributed a fresh layer of snow for our visual pleasure and enjoyment. Her timing was perfect.
I acknowledge that for many commuters, storms of this magnitude can be a serious nightmare. As for me, my current obligations don't require that I travel further than the elementary school where roads are usually well cared for; so please forgive me for being a cheerleader of winter.
There are negatives of course. Bundling little ones in and out of snow gear, drying said clothes and keeping track of gloves and other accessories can be frustrating; especially when our little brown-eyed beauty stays outside for a grand total of four minutes...

I just checked and... YUP! It's still worth it.
 Two doors down live the Waterfalls. Catching wind of the day's activity, they offered the use of their field for our four wheeling/sledding enjoyment.
Can you spot Andrew at the base of that tree? With Forrest napping soundly in his crib, we left Eliza with a cell phone so I could have a quick turn with Andrew and Lottie. As proficient as I am at providing the hot chocolate, it was nice to be on the 'fun side' of things.


I should mention that it wasn't all fun and games. At the end of our ride, with Lottie situated between Andrew's body and mine, Andrew started in on a figure eight while in our driveway. Lottie and I nearly flew off the four wheeler! It was terrifying and made me extra mad. In a physically aggressive manner, I demanded that he let us off and offer a sincere, heartfelt apology for endangering our daughter. Neither happened right away. This dramatic scene unfolded in front of our next door neighbors. I climbed off the four wheeler steamed beyond belief that Lottie almost fell onto concrete while Andrew dealt with the embarrassment of having his wife kick the tar out of him in front of the neighbor kids. We have since made amends, but I am suffering post traumatic stress as I play out the scenario of what would have happened had I not caught Lottie and myself from falling. Andrew's still in the process of searching his soul for a piece of remorse! I hope this massive guilt trip via the family blog helps him find it! :)

*P.S. Andrew approved the paragraph.

 How about we conclude on a positive cute baby note. You got it!

Monday, December 23, 2013

gather near to us once more

Eliza, Henry and Lottie attended a birthday party Friday afternoon. Shortly after dropping them off, Forrest went down for a nap. It was 4:30 p.m. and my house was abnormally quiet. It was a bizarre, yet entirely welcome, feeling. Knowing that my parents were coming up for a visit that night, I was thankful for the rare opportunity to clean and cook uninterrupted. Merry Christmas to me!
Princess Charlotte, already for the birthday party 
A costume party in December
Eliza insisted she was going to "be protective and help" with Lottie

Our first year of marriage, Andrew and I lived in an apartment complex in Holladay, Utah. I was working full time at a graphic design studio as a personal assistant to the company's creative director. I likewise served as the receptionist. It was an exciting atmosphere/place to work. Early in the morning and late at night, I attended school at the University of Utah. Andrew was in school full time and working at the LDS distribution center. Disciplined young newlyweds, each of Andrew's pay checks went straight into a savings account where it remained untouched. He also worked as a handyman for our landlord to help reduce our rent each month. All of this helped pave the way so that I could stay at home with Eliza when she surprised us (four years early, according to our 'timeline') a year and a half later. I don't know why I mention this now. Maybe it's because the holidays make us feel nostalgic and because I've never blogged about our earlier years. Anyway, our first Christmas as a married couple was special.
December 2004

Anyway... back in December of 2004, funds were limited as we decorated our apartment for Christmas. Most of the decorations we had were acquired came from our Mothers. As for our tree, I remember buying bell shaped chocolate kisses and attaching ornament hooks onto them. The tree itself came from Grandma Popcorn's basement. Someone had discarded it because the three prong stand was missing a leg. Because of this, we propped it up in the corner of our apartment. Even so, I was so proud of that 'candy coated' Christmas tree. As a gift to each other, we "splurged" on a new office chair so that Andrew would have something decent to sit on while he studied. That same office chair would later become a make shift "rocking chair" when Eliza was born. (*Upon further review, the office chair actually happened in 2005, but it's still a cute story and the circumstances were similar)
 Christmas 2004

Our home has evolved over the years as I've added to our Christmas collection and added precious little members to our family. The pride over my humble efforts I felt that first Christmas has continued. I say all this because my parents take the time each season (with the exception of our South Carolina years, for obvious reasons) to travel to all of their kids homes to see our Christmas trees. Last Friday they arrived and just like I hoped, they 'oohed and awed' over the new stockings hanging above our fireplace. They listened with great interest as the kids explained the latest antics of our elf. Eliza read my Mom a Christmas story. The kids showed off their holiday artwork and danced around the house because they couldn't contain their excitement that we had special visitors. After a little dinner, we gathered around the tree and sang Christmas songs together. My Mom handed out a new ornament for each grandchild as well as some holiday M&M's. It was a happy night.

All tuckered out from a fun night,
thanks again for coming Mom and Dad 

The family time continued on Saturday as we trekked to Salt Lake to attend the Flegal Christmas party. The roads glistening from a fresh storm, I felt secure in our new car; grateful to have a four wheel drive vehicle that fits the whole family.
Charlotte Marie Flegal and Lois Charlotte Flegal

For me, one of the highlights came early when our sweet Grandma Popcorn arrived. Lottie rushed to greet her and jumped into her lap. The two of them were wheeled in her chair to her seat at the table. Lottie sure thought that little princess ride with her great Grandma was pretty neat.

Another bonus was when Karina strolled in!
High school friend turned college roommate turned BFF turned COUSIN!
Andrew and Karina are first cousins.
Our kids are second cousins and share in all that Grandma Flegal love and heritage. :) 
Pretty great deal if you ask me.

Dinner was delicious and the conversation was enjoyed. Forrest was tired and fussy but it all started right when he is usually going to bed for the night. That's life, though. After dinner, the kids gathered around Bubba and Nanna for stories. Grandma Flegal then took the stage and shared Christmas memories from her life. From nuts still in their shells, to oranges and hard tac candy, those were the things children pined for most at Christmas time. However, when she was near Eliza's age she received her first real gift. With love, she tenderly described her first doll, its beauty and pink nightgown. When she was finished, Aunt Jean surprised her with that exact doll. It's pieces had been in disrepair until Jean lovingly sewed her back together. It was an emotional moment. Those cute great granddaughters then took turns holding her dolly.
It was pretty special, if you ask me. The children also went home with oranges and candy canes to help them remember the significance of the stories that were read to them that night.
And then we were back to loading those Fleglets back into the car. Back up to home we went, to rest and recover, and then gear up to do the same thing all over again on Sunday.

Holiday Memory Making 2013

Riding the sugar rush wave, my three older children were chasing one another around our home Friday night. It took me a minute until I realized their crazy behavior was driven with purpose. I overhear clever Eliza repeat to her brother,

"They keep telling us that Christmas is right around the corner, but which corner is it?" Aware of the joke, and fully on board to continue running around like mad, Henry suggests,

"I'm not sure, but how about we go check all the corners upstairs?" And just like that, those three hyper bodies bound up the stairs to continue their search for Christmas.

She's right, you know. Christmas is right around the corner. Feeling a little bit of rush myself, I want to update the good old blog here with some of the activities we've enjoyed this season.

About a week ago, we went with our friend Peggy and the Cordingley family to Willard Bay to see the Christmas lights. Of all that we've done, this probably stirred up that Christmas spirit inside of Mom the most. Cuddling up with the kids on a freezing cold night, in a horse pulled wagon, to look at a spectacular display of lights really brought back that Christmas magic.
Unlike last year, the line to see Santa was crazy long and our kids had school the next morning so we didn't stay. It's true. We bailed on Santa. It's okay though, because the kids already had two nice visits with him this season.
 The holiday baking continued with neighborhood gifts and teacher gifts. I like the way the kids swarm the counter when the bowls of melted chocolate appear or how they ask me to turn the Christmas music back on when it's been paused. These are the memories I hope they carry with them, rather than the ones where a frantic Mom asks them to help her find that extra glove or is yelling that everyone needs to try to go potty before we get in the car... (among a myriad of other less pleasant examples).
(two days, three batches and 18 bags later...)

Holiday crafting is a new tradition that Eliza and I have been dabbling in. When the other kids were in bed, she and I busted out my new friend, the hot glue gun, and got to work on a few 'homemade' gifts. We spent two nights together doing this and as cute as our projects turned out, it was an even better reminder that the best one on one time I have with her is when the other Fleglets are asleep.
The kids participated in a holiday sing a long at their elementary, a service project providing pajamas for children in need, a Polar Express day (which Eliza forgot to mention - it involved wearing pajamas - oops) and last but certainly not least, her first ever read-a-thon.
Eliza, the bookworm, was so excited to pack up her pillow, a blanket, a healthy supply of snacks and a new to her book, Black Beauty. Henry proved that the entire family was aware of her exciting activity as he prayed that morning,

"And please bless Eliza to do a really good job reading at school today. And please bless all her snacks when she eats them." It really does make my heart happy when my kids remember one another in their prayers.

And finally, a few 'randoms' to add because these photos make me happy; except for the fact that I'm short on Henry pictures. We'll have to remedy this!
Coming home the other day, the neighbor's cat was sunning on our porch. It was a lovely little welcome home.
"Welcome home" says that cat that isn't ours.
Two handsome boys. 
Two sweet sisters 
that don't look much alike;
both beautiful.