Wednesday, January 22, 2014

In Loving Memory

Fueled by emotion, the words just came. I love you, Grandma.

In Grandma’s Garden,
                                                          breathtaking and beautiful
roses, bloom and grow.

The vivid colors
are bright, alive, majestic…
Pleasing to behold.

Their lovely scent adds
to the beauty of the scene.
It’s a work of art.

“A labor of love”
She would say. For she tended
and nurtured each one.

Her capable hands
fought back weeds, clipped and cared for
each and every rose.

Showered in her love
the opportunity to
thrive, was theirs to take.

As time passed along,
her lovely garden flourished,
multiplied through love.

Bouquets were gathered
Eager to share their beauty
Love freely given.

Just like her roses
Grandma nurtured and cared for
Another garden

Precious to Grandma;
her beloved family.
We are her garden.

Unique and different
She cherished each one of us
Her love, tailor made.

Aware of life’s thorns
She asks us to carry on;
Remember patience.

Please love each other
Laugh, have fun and please: Do not
forget the popcorn!

Be grateful each day,
For God and for family
“Life goes by so fast.”

The garden is ours
to now tend, weed and nurture.
We learned from the best!


Favorite photos:

 Photos with my babies:
 Do not be fooled. That is Eliza, not Forrest, with Grandma on her first Christmas.
 Celebrating Grandma, Eliza "wrote" a song that all the grand kids sang to her

Grandma and Henry:
 Lois Charlotte Flegal and Charlotte "Lottie" Marie Flegal:

 Meeting Forrest:
And to our Bubba: you carry her light and goodness. We love you so.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

A Visit to Grandma Popcorn

Eliza, Grandma Flegal, Andrew and Henry
August 2009

Today has been a day of tears and tender mercies. I have to say first how grateful I am for the the plan of salvation. Central to our Father in Heaven's plan of happiness is our Savior Jesus Christ. Because of Him, families can be together forever. I know this!

Moments ago, I overheard my sweet seven year old crying in her bedroom. I know immediately the cause of her tears.Our beloved Grandma, Lois Flegal (a.k.a. Grandma Popcorn), is preparing to return back to her heavenly home. Today we had the opportunity to drive to Salt Lake and visit with her for what could very well have been the last time.

"Mom?" Eliza has left her room in search of comfort. Finding me on the couch, she nestles under my arm and informs me:

"I'm going to go without food tomorrow, but not water... because I have a cough." Her resolve is firm as she continues, "I'm going to fast because I want Grandma to get better." The sight of her tear stained cheeks combined with her seemingly perfect faith touches my heart. I hold her without saying anything for a minute or two. Finally I ask,

"Do you want to know what all these tears mean?" 


"They show how much you love her." We talk of how blessed we are to belong to Grandma's family. I tell Eliza how special she is to Grandma. When Eliza was seven weeks old, we moved in with Grandma. She watched her grow and achieve many of those special milestones. The three of us spent many hours together as Andrew was busy with school and work. I tell Eliza about how she'd roll all over her kitchen floor and play with Grandma's metal measuring spoons. I'd give Eliza baths in Grandma's pink tub as we only had a shower in our basement apartment. These shared memories make Eliza smile. In the summer of 2007, when Eliza was one, we left her home for a few months to spend our summer in Germany. When the time came to come back home, we were so excited to see Grandma again and move back in with her. It was a happy reunion! When Henry was born in March of 2008, it was Grandma's house that he came home too.

Andrew enters the room and escorts Eliza back to bed. I hear him tell Eliza how he wishes he never had to say, "Goodbye" to her too. But then he reminds her that her body is 96 years old! She's tired and in pain. He tells her about her husband and son (and so many others!) who are waiting for her on the other side. After praying with Eliza and sharing some scriptures with her, Eliza has decided to fast tomorrow that Grandma will be comfortable and have peace. Andrew comes back downstairs and simply says,

"That girl is an angel."  

This week we've been receiving reports on the sudden decline in her health. It's thought that she suffered a stroke followed by a day of pernicious vomiting. Having settled into a wonderful care center, we received word yesterday that she had been unresponsive most of the day. After some debate, we decided that we'd head down Saturday to see her. We were encouraged when we received word this morning that she was talking a little bit. 

The kids made her cards and Eliza made her a pink, purple and red bracelet on her rainbow loom this morning. She chose those colors as they remind her of Grandma's beautiful roses. Shortly after Forrest woke up from his morning nap, we loaded up the kids and went to Salt Lake.

We did our best to prepare the kids for seeing Grandma. Even so, it was a shock to see her in this feeble state. I don't know how to explain it other than she just seemed so different. Timing was on our side, enter the tender mercy, as Aunt Becky helps sit her up when we walk in. Grandma is presented with the bracelet and cards. It doesn't take long to receive assurance from her that she is aware of who we are. 

"Grandma," I ask. I'm looking directly in her eyes, "Do you have a favorite song?" 

"I do." She replies.

"What is it?" 

"I Am a Child of God." And so we sing her that song. 

"Grandma, guess what?" I ask. Knowing she hears me, I proceed:

"Andrew's wearing one of Grandpa's shirts. He wears it all the time. In fact, he wore it when he asked me to marry him." That was something that always made her smile when we lived with her. 

She likes seeing Forrest. We talk about how she championed the name, "Forrest" as it is the name of her Father in law. I tell her how her opinion of the name softened my own feelings toward it. She mentions while we're there how beautiful our Forrest is. More than once she seems concerned about whether or not we have his blanket. 

At first I thought she was asking about the one we'd brought with us. She keeps bringing up his blanket. Finally, it dawns on me that she must have made him one herself. She wants to make sure he gets it. Telling a lie, I reassure her:

"Yes, he has it. Thank you so much." And she smiles; the issue finally settled.

I point out the bracelet on her wrist once more. She seems more alert than when we first arrived,

"Grandma, Eliza made that for you." Looking at Eliza, Grandma asks in a tone so familiar,

"Did you make that for Grandma, honey?" Smiling, Eliza nods her head. Once more we explain the colors and how they remind us of the roses that she loves. 

"Thank you." She says. 

We bring up some funny memories. 

"Do you remember when I went to the store for you and brought you back cabbage when you'd ask for lettuce? I didn't know the difference and you didn't want to hurt my feelings so you didn't say anything. You just laughed behind my back!" Andrew dutifully reports that I'm a much more competent cook these days.  :) 

"Do you remember when Andrew was giving himself a haircut and the attachment on the clippers fell off and he gave himself a huge racing stripe up the back of his head?" 

She didn't seem to remember these experiences, but it gave everyone else in the room a good laugh. 

Grandma, I remember how comforting it felt to live with you. As a new Mom, it was a great blessing to have the sweetest, most thoughtful friend living upstairs. I always had someone to talk to. Thank you for all the times you brought me down my mail and a dish of your potato salad. I remember laying in bed at night with Andrew and suddenly we'd smell something wonderful, like homemade bread or even lasagna. We laughed knowing you were busy in your kitchen and it was well past ten o'clock. You were a night owl! There was also the time when we woke up startled as we heard this great pounding coming from your bedroom; which was directly above our own. Alarmed, Andrew went up to check on you. Giggling you thanked him for his thoughtfulness but told him that your leg had fallen asleep and you were just trying to wake it up! 

Returning to today, I go and give her my final hug and kiss. Looking in her eyes, I tell her how she is (one of the) best thing I gained by marrying Andrew. The eyes are truly the window to the soul. 

"I love you so much. You are the best." I tell her. I'm so grateful she can hear me say this. 

Eliza holds her for a long time. Lottie pops up next to her and without hesitation gives her a kiss. Henry's much more timid with his "Goodbye." Andrew is so brave. It's so hard for him but he keeps it together and tells her how happy he was to be able to see her today.

We are told how amazing it was that she was so aware and alert for our visit. Our hearts swell with gratitude and sadness as we make our way back to the car. In thinking of the time she has left, we know what we should be hoping for even though it's not what we selfishly want.  
Oh we love you our dear Grandma. 

One final thought. When I think of her great posterity, I personally know and have felt of the incredible love she has for each one of her family members. As a parent, I also understand, to an extent, how a heart has room to grow and love all those who come to you. It is through that experience and her example that allows my simple brain to understand and trust that God certainly does have the capacity to know and love each one of us. That brings me comfort and peace. 

Comfort and peace, those are the blessings I pray that are hers in these coming days. We love you Grandma!

Photos from today:
Grandma's wearing the bracelet Eliza made her. 
She hugged her for a long time.

My favorite from today. 
You can see she knows him.

Making Grandma's cards and bracelet:

Lottie's very own 'desk'

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Fleeting Forrest Thoughts

Forrest at eight months
After a particularly chaotic morning, I open the door to Forrest's bedroom. I am eager to see his,
"You're finally here!" smile. His tiny hand pats my shoulder with enthusiasm to emphasize his pleasure at my arrival. I return the sentiment in a series of slobbery smooches. Knowing that I'm short on time, I hurry and swipe his crib bedding in an attempt to find his pacifier. Three swipes later, it's still missing. The search and rescue mission will have to commence after I take Eliza and Henry to school.

Forrest is a fairly chill dude. Yes, there are times when he is full of smiles. And yes, he can giggle uncontrollably - especially when Lottie's in the mix of things - but overall, he's a mellow camper. So here I am, with my quietly content baby on my hip, trotting downstairs back to a scene of morning craziness. Half way down the stairs, I hear a tiny smack. I look down and Forrest, who had been holding his pacifier the entire time, has just popped it back into his mouth.

The humor didn't escape me as I replayed, in my mind, the scene of trying to find it.  The silly thing had been, secure apparently, in his little hand. I'm sure had he known what I was looking for, he would have filled me in because the delusion that my young sons will grow to be perfect gentlemen burns bright.
 Chewing with my mouth full, WhAt?!?

Those tiny, simple moments add up to a whole lot of love and affection for my baby boy. Today he is eight months old. For now, his life primarily consists of being buckled in and out his car seat, taking in the bright lights of a super market as he sits 'car seat style' in a grocery cart, sweeping our vast hardwood floors with his body as he army crawls/rolls all over the place,and cuddling up in his Mom's lap to nurse. One minute he's the 'forgotten fourth 'that I'm keeping an eye on as I finish up something "important" at the kitchen counter and then the next minute, he's the center of everyone's universe. He has found "his voice" and we instantly have fallen in love with the sound of his baby blabber.
"I didn't say anything. Did you say something?"

With four little ones, it's easy to feel overwhelmed by someone's negative attitude, a sassy little mouth or children who won't stop fighting. You leave for Church, as an example, expecting that the child who had the least amount of sleep the night before will have the toughest time only to be proven wrong as someone else has the unexpected meltdown. These hard moments pass and I find that I'm able to garner comfort from the children who are, at that moment, being the better listeners; or in Forrest's case, just being their sweet and steady self. It goes both ways. When Forrest is cranky and I am in the process of finishing up dinner, Eliza steps in says the magic words,

"Here, Mom. I will feed him his baby food!" Amazing.
 Big Sisters Rule

With each child, my love for spoon feeding has declined. It's tedious. Shame on me for not cherishing that aspect of Motherhood. Happily I confess that I am more than happy to let Eliza help! Four kids is a lot, but I sometimes have a crew of happy (or at least willing) helpers at my disposal. I'm grateful for my team and my super cute, albeit hairy, co-captain.  
Other Forrest-isms of note:
He's just an itty bitty. He remains toothless. He goes to bed at seven p.m. and is up once (sometimes twice) to nurse. And while he can army crawl and roll with the best of them, he is not 'crawling' up on his knees. He CAN, however, clap his hands; the sight of which is nothing short of adorable. Tonight when Andrew came home, he waved at him. That's big people stuff!
Mama loves you, Forrest! I feel super grateful to be your Mom. You've brought such light into our family.

Speaking of light, guess who joined the big kids in Primary last Sunday?
Here's our new little sunbeam! Even though she is the youngest Fleglet to join Primary, she was easily the most 'ready.' And while she did inquire about where the marshmallows and goldfish crackers were, she never looked back!

Fun flashback, here's Eliza and Henry as new sunbeams too. In another five minutes, I'll be posting Forrest's sunbeam picture.
 January 2010
January 2012

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Typing my way into the New Year!

Christmas Eve 2013
Asleep on the neighbor's couch
11:00 p.m. 
She almost made it!

2014 is fast approaching; in fact, it may arrive well before I publish this post. While my younger two children sleep peacefully in their beds, Eliza and Henry managed to appeal to a somewhat reckless and irresponsible side of their parents as they are still at a neighbor's house for their annual New Year's Eve party. Having attended these past three years, Andrew and I have our own routine down. With treats in hand, our entire family arrives at 7:00 p.m. We snack and visit as best we can as we juggle a tired, yet super cute, baby. Finally Andrew offers to take him home for bed.

"How about you take Lottie as well?" I suggest. Being the super hero Dad that he is, he agrees. Meanwhile, Mom and Eliza settle in for games with the neighbors. Two more hours pass and I return home to switch Andrew places so he can return and socialize. Again, as I take in the late hour, I am having a hard time understanding how Eliza and Henry weaseled their way out of a decent bedtime! I am going to be kicking myself tomorrow for my lack of resolve.

Andrew and I will reunite close to midnight outside for what will be a stellar firework show. The best part is it happens right outside my front door. Andrew will forget to kiss me at midnight as he'll be caught up in the hustle and bustle of lighting fireworks (I used to TRUMP that level of excitement, what the heck?!) as I huddle with my friends underneath our stellar gas lamp patio heater to stay warm. On average, we use our patio heater once a year on New Years Eve.

(*Editor's note: The kiss happened! He totally remembered!)

And 2014 will begin.

Health, Love and Safety... these three wishes, these continued blessings, are the things I hope surrounds my family in the New Year. Well, a little prosperity sprinkled in wouldn't hurt either. ;) Seriously though, life has its ups and downs but when it all comes down to it I hope for more of the same.

Forrest was our great big BRIGHT blessing this year. He arrived safe and in good health to a family who LOVES him very much. We are so thankful to be Eliza's, Henry's, Lottie's and Forrest's parents. This year I want to savor our little ones and make the most of the teaching moments while they still listen to us! And, I suppose I should add, listen more to what they are saying and doing. Truth be told, they are better (little) people than I am. Andrew's car accident was a low point. His back pain continues to plague him despite rounds of therapy and two painful steroid shots. However, it's been an experience that has brought us closer to each other and to our Father in Heaven; but man I sure hope we steer clear (ha, get it?) of more accidents like that one.

Also, I resolve to build a huge stock pile of toilet paper as it seems we are always on the verge of running out. Before I get lost in additional resolutions, I need to catch up on our Christmas post. Better late than never...

Christmas morning finally arrived. And there it is.
As they take in the happy scene that awaits them, a magical suspense builds. It's weird when plans involving children actually work out. Forrest cried out at 7:20 that morning. Retrieving him from his room, he and I returned to my bed to nurse. Ten minutes later, Eliza, Henry and Lottie appeared... right on schedule.

Except, do you know what? There shouldn't be a schedule on Christmas morning. Time should stand still as you watch your little ones bounce down the stairs. As feelings of impatience reaches each of their expressive faces, it's okay to sit back and see if they will explode with anticipation. It's kind of awesome. I took my time as I put the casserole in the oven to bake.

"Extend this moment" I told myself as I slowed my pace a little. When I returned to my bedroom to join my family, I realized I had waited a few minutes too long.

Andrew had turned on a clip from the movie, A Christmas Story; which showed a fussy Randy crying over the fact that he was so thoroughly bundled in snow clothing. Something about this scene upset Eliza as she herself was in tears.

"Dad's making me watch a horrible show!" she reported.

"Turn that off babe! It's Christmas!" Cuddle with those kids and enjoy the wait!
 A few obligatory Christmas stairs pictures later, they were finally allowed into the Christmas room. Stockings, new underwear, presents and walnuts (just for you, Lottie) awaited them.

These photos were taken Christmas Eve, after Santa came.
 Eliza's note to Santa:
Dear Santa,
The carrots are for your reindeer. 
I wish you a merry xmas. 
Best wishes, 
Eliza Grace Flegal
p.s. I've been good :) 
p.s. the other stockings are in the living room

And what do you know...
He left her a note in return.

Dear Eliza,
Thank you for the treats and the Christmas wishes.
I agree, you have been a very good girl this year. 
I hope that you enjoy your gifts. 
Please remember Jesus today. 
Merry Christmas, 
p.s. I also left a gift in  your room.
 (here she is reading it)

Here are a few action shots:

Forrest received a grand total of ONE Christmas present. That's all you "need" especially when it provides so much joy DAILY. It occupied him the entire time the kids unwrapped their gifts. It was awesome and he is so darn cute when he bounces.
 And then there was Eliza,
 Oh my gosh! She got her own alarm clock! Can you believe it?!? She was thrilled.
Ninjago books are great, but he's had more fun with his new rc truck, legos and razor scooter.

Lottie didn't quite know what to think about all her presents. She would be excited after opening one toy but  suddenly she'd be forced to open something else?! Can we say sensory overload? However, to this day, she keeps asking if Santa is coming back again tomorrow. She is a huge fan of opening presents. Her klip klop stable and tea party set are among her favorites.
Thinking she was done opening gifts, Eliza returned to her bedroom to find a new zebra print bean bag chair and new bedding. She was pretty excited about that.
As for Andrew, Santa brought him lift kit for the Sequoia (here we go) and delivered Mom her first ever smart phone a few weeks before Christmas.

The final preparations on breakfast were being made as our first friend, and special guest, Peggy came over. We shared a delicious breakfast and the kids gave her a sweet little gift. It wasn't long after that our other friend Patti arrived. We had a nice visit as she too had breakfast. After having our fill, she showered our kids in gifts that were truly so thoughtful.
 Having them over added extra happiness into our home that morning.

Our afternoon began in Salt Lake where we met with my family to open gifts and enjoy a delicious lunch. I failed on the photo front but did find this cute photo of Forrest and my Mom.
My amazing Mom sifted through hours of home videos and had them organized and converted into DVDs for our families. The afternoon was spent watching hours of this footage; laughing, marveling and in some cases cringing as we watched our former selves in action. Hearing and seeing my Grandparents, for example, was an emotional experience. Needless to say, it was the surge I needed to recommit to my blogging effort. I hope, hope, hope these lines and photos bring a slice of that feeling to my kids down the road.

Christmas night was with the Flegals... where more amazing food happened. Nanna and Bubba gifted us with a super awesome blender. I'm pretty excited to explore all of its cool features. It was a Merry Christmas indeed. Here's to a bright new year to you and yours.