Monday, September 22, 2014

Sibling love

(I started this post over a week ago. Better late than never.)

The first thing I heard this morning was the sound of contention. I apologize for the over share, but I was accosted by two upset children while I was using the bathroom.

"Mom!!" Henry whined. "Lottie woke me..." before he can finish his accusation, Lottie pipes up. Loudly.

"No! I didn't!" Turning to face her, Henry angrily says...

"Yes you did!"

"Whoa. Whoa. Whoa!" I interrupt. My chief concern is that their squabbling will wake the baby. I give Henry a look that says: Continue. He softens his voice.

"Mom. Lottie woke me up this morning." He is seriously upset right now. "I was still sleeping and she wouldn't stop talking until I was awake!" He is crying. Lottie adjusts the volume of her voice to "super loud."

"No!" *foot stomp*  "Mom!!!" I shush her once more. My supply of patience is suddenly very low. Not wanting to add to the contention, I try my best to be calm-ish.

"Henry. Guess what? It's time for you to be awake anyway. It's time to get ready for school." Before he feels like I'm simply letting Lottie off the hook, I look at her and add:

"Lottie, we talked about this yesterday. When you wake up, come find Mommy. It's bad manners to wake up Henry if his body still needs to sleep." And with that I kick them out of the bathroom because seriously, no Mother likes to parent while on the potty. 

I share this to illustrate the point that my kids argue. They push each others buttons. Eliza teases Henry constantly about a cute girl he has a crush on. Lottie will hold tight to a toy despite Forrest's massive desire to have said toy. Henry will kick Lottie off her wiggle cart whenever he wants a turn. I play the part of "referee" daily. Sometimes I'm fair and calm in my dealings, but sometimes I lose my cool because I've had enough! I'm seriously trying to be better because kids are kids.

Anyway, rather than extend the focus on the contention, I've caught my kids loving each other in sweet ways lately. It fills my heart with joy and at the end of the blogging day, these memories are the ones that deserve to be remembered.

The Pokemon Business Deal

Apparently, Pokemon cards are all the rage. I am a total novice when it comes to Pokemon cards. All I know is that they are A) expensive and B) kids have Pokemon 'battles' where they each play a card and if you win, I think you acquire the losing card from your friend? Whether or not it's permanent, I'm not sure. A few of Henry's friends "gifted" him a few of their (least desired) cards to be nice. Henry was really proud to have a couple card to his name. Eliza caught wind of his interest and decided, on her own, to help him out. Eliza earns suckers in her class for giving correct answers, etc. On a normal day, she'll earn the max amount of suckers (two). She'll keep one for herself and then trade her second sucker with boys her age in exchange for a Pokemon card. After school, she gives the card to Henry. His humble stack of Pokemon cards has grown quite a bit since Eliza began doing this for him. Very sweet.

Standing in the E line

If I understand the scene correctly, Henry's class was in the hallway of the school learning about graphing. They were asked to stand behind their favorite letter in the alphabet. As a class, they'd graph their results. Eliza walked by as this was happening and noticed that Henry was the only person standing behind the letter "E." I listened in as she questioned him about this after school.

Henry explained, "I chose the letter E as my favorite because it reminds me of you." I about died, right then. "And I was the only one who picked it." This made her feel very special.

The Umbrella Saga

A few years ago, I bought Eliza and Henry darling umbrellas. Eliza's is designed to look like a butterfly and Henry's looks like a frog. I recently learned that Eliza is super embarrassed by her umbrella. It's "baby-ish." This makes me sad. She'd prefer to walk in the rain than have to use it on the playground. Earlier this week, it was raining and I told her that it was important to me that she stay dry on the playground. Lottie could see how this conversation would soon evolve into an argument so she interjected.

"Eliza can take my umbrella." It's pink with flowers and far more acceptable (in Eliza's eyes) than her butterfly umbrella. You could see the instant relief on Eliza's face. She was thrilled and made sure Lottie knew it.
Third grade.
That's the answer to the questions:
"When will my child be "too cool" for their darling umbrella?"and
"When will my child be embarrassed to be Elsa for Halloween
...even though she really, really wants to be Elsa?"

... at least that's the way it is for Eliza. 
So sad!

The funny Flegals at Uintah's Family Fun fair...
due to the rain, the fair was held inside which made pictures difficult to take
We look forward to this back to school tradition each year.

Smaller observations

When Forrest wakes up and I'm still in the process of getting myself ready, the older kids will go "entertain him" while he awaits my rescue from the crib. The kids are darling with him and it eases my mom guilt for putting him off for a few minutes.


Earlier in the summer, when three year old Lottie was still required to take a daily nap, she'd "borrow" Henry's Simba lion and sleep with him. At bedtime, Henry fussed that she was taking Simba without permission. I suppose I'm the guiltiest of parties as I never objected when she'd take him from Henry's bed. From my {selfish} viewpoint, Henry was taking "one for the team." Simba made nap time smooth sailing for me. I don't know what changed, or when, but for the past couple of weeks, Lottie has been sleeping with Simba every night. It seems that Henry has given her his full blessing as I've witnessed him find Simba at bedtime and took the two of them in together. Bless that child.


Lottie floats to cloud nine whenever Eliza invites her to play. Sometimes they leave out Henry, which is hard to watch, but it's usually not a problem. The other day, Eliza took Lottie upstairs to her room and made her into a Princess. Lottie was a most willing participant as Eliza braided her hair, found the perfect dress and added various accessories.
Eliza finds great joy in creating and Lottie finds great joy in her attention. They compliment each other in many ways. Sometimes, however, Eliza uses this to her advantage in a mischievous way. In the most friendly of voices, Eliza will call: "Hey Lottie, do you want come help me clean my room?!" Lottie blurts out with excitement: "Sure!!!" And off they go!

And here are a few misc. photos

September has been hot! My kids have all had sunburns thanks to this slip and slide (and my neglect)
The best was watching Forrest slide down the slide nakey. He flew down that slide, laughing! Babies are a lot of work, but man, when they are being cute they totally unify a family. You can't help but bond over that amount of cuteness.

As for crusty, fussy babies... well...even they are cute too!

It's not easy confining Forrest to his stroller when we go to watch Lottie at dance class. Her teacher, I've learned, has no problem asking a Mom to leave if her baby is being a disruption. I understand, really I do, but even it's one tiny little peep, she throws you "the look." I've always tried to be courteous, mindful and responsible when my kids and I are out and about, but this dance situation is a new level.Her dance teacher means business so keeping Forrest happy is a real job if I want to observe Lottie.
But it's worth it. Because even when she has to use "pretend" tap shoes because her Mom was slow to order real ones, she is adorable to watch. Lottie, by the way, is loving so much both preschool and dance!
And Forrest loves this.
They call it the "Don't tell Mom game." 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Lottie starts preschool. Twice.

Labor day weekend had come and gone. A return of that back to school adrenaline rushed through my heart as I shifted my school morning focus to little Lottie Flegal. After years of wishing Eliza and Henry a "happy day at school," it was finally her turn! Knowing she was preparing for an adventure, she politely accommodated each of my requests that morning.

In comparison to her older sister, Lottie has a sensitive head. Sitting still to allow me to style her hair has always been a struggle. If I'm simply looking at her hair, deciding what to do with those curls, Lottie will say, "Ouch, Mom! That hurts!" So when she willingly jumped up onto the stool with a brush in her hand, I knew her excitement level was running high.

"Mom," she began, "You're going to miss me so much today, huh?"

"You bet I am!" I said happily. Not that she's the type to feel bad over that, I still felt the need to add, "But Lottie, I am so happy you get to go to school today. I'm happy you get to go learn new things and make some special friends!"

"But you Mom..." she pauses for dramatic effect, "you are going to be a wreck!"

After checking that her face is clean one last time and tucking in her over-sized preschool shirt, I check the clock to make sure we have enough time for a few "first day of school" photos.
Tuesday's "dress rehearsal"

We've got this! The planner in me calculated that we'd get to school early, find a good parking spot and have some time for a few photos and then Forrest and I would be off to the craft store! We had to have a plan to fill the Lottie void.

It was a quick drive to the Little Red School House. After parking my car across the street from the school, I felt my tummy drop. Where were all the other cars? I glance at the clock. Well...I was pretty early; but seriously? There wasn't a single car in the driveway. The lights in the house were all turned off. What the... Meanwhile, Lottie is BOUNCING up and down in her car seat.

"Can I get out now, Mom? Please?"

Oh man. I grab my phone, desperate to find an e-mail to confirm the first day of school because it looked like what I'd written on my kitchen calendar at home was a big, fat mistake; courtesy of airhead Ali. Sure enough, I had the day wrong.

Looking back, breaking Lottie's heart with the news that school actually didn't start for another two days would have been easier if she'd thrown an obnoxiously loud fit. However, and this was far worse, she silently buckled herself back into her seat as a batch of giant, quiet tears welled up in her big brown eyes.

"I'm so sorry, Lottie. I'm so sorry about my mistake."

Thankfully, Lottie was easily distracted by a cheap bribe has a forgiving nature. Two days later we replayed her first day of school routine all over again; with the obvious addition that she got to go to school. The lingering guilt helped me be a brave Mama when Forrest and I walked back to our car after hugging her "Goodbye."

Lottie had a great first day! Eliza and Henry were very supportive as they listened to her ramble on about her experience. She shared her favorite details many times. I think she's pretty pleased to be apart of the big kid "school club" now.
For reals this time!

His and Her (labor day) weekends

Labor day weekend our family had plans to make a return trip to Bubba's Cabin. However, I backed out at the last (drama filled) minute for a couple of reasons. The primary reason was because my sweet friend Beverly had passed away and I was helping to coordinate plans for her funeral. I've been serving in my ward's relief society presidency for almost two years. With our RS president in Europe for a few weeks, that responsibility fell to me. More importantly, I love Bev and her family so much that I wanted to be here to make sure things went smoothly.

Looking back, it was the right thing to do. I admit that I had a lot of hesitation at first as it meant that the kids would be split up too. Andrew took Eliza and Henry while I kept Lottie and Forrest home. And while I missed them all, I am confident that they had an amazing time with cousins exploring Bubba's play land together. Andrew, who has been busy as ever, likewise benefited from that one-on-one time with the big kids. There is no cell reception at the cabin (which is one of the things I like most - zero technology related distractions), so I really did appreciate him making the drive down the canyon to update me on how things were going.

I knew all was well when I heard the happy tone in his voice.

"I just got back from a two hour four wheeler ride with Henry! It was just the two of us and it was glorious." No doubt, Henry was in heaven too. The kids played and played with their cousins. Toys are completely unnecessary when they are given the freedom to roam free. Here are a few photos from their trip.

 Singing songs around the campfire
Waiting for dinner. And Eliza pouting in the corner.

Andrew and Henry's view from their four wheeler ride
There's a slow running creek where the kids have built stellar forts.
They love playing here.
On the four wheelers

As for me, I shamefully spoiled Lottie. She didn't act sad about missing out on the cabin trip; even so I felt guilty.
So we went to Chik-Fil-A
We did a little "back to school" shopping with my Children's Place certificates. 
And, Lottie's favorite thing, we went swimming.
Baby Forrest is really cute. 
He loves to swim in the tub the most. 
Sometimes even after Mommy has dried him off and put him in clean jammies...
When it comes to tub time, Forrest believes that clothes truly are optional. 
Allow me to state the obvious: 
My teeth aren't that white. I was having (too much) fun with an app on my phone.

I love these two babies so much;
and was surprised that I felt that my daily load was lighter (I didn't think I'd notice).
I'm not saying that I want this to be a normal, regular occurrence, but
 I really did enjoy our time together without the big kids.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Remembering Beverly Holbrook

My beautiful neighbor and sweet friend Beverly passed away from ALS on Wednesday, August 27. Several weeks ago, Beverly's daughter, Melanie Parker, asked friends of Beverly to write her Mother a letter sharing memories and/or expressing appreciation for their friendship. Melanie then combined these letter into a book for Beverly's upcoming 60th birthday. As Beverly's disease progressed, Melanie decided not to wait until her birthday and began reading her Mom the letters right away. Melanie was tearful as she expressed how tender and meaningful that experience was for them both.

Remembering the letter that I sent Melanie, I think it probably expresses best my love and admiration for Beverly. I'm going to share it in this post today. At the end of that letter will be my ALS ice bucket video and Eliza's! Here's a link to Beverly's obituary (click here).

To clarify: Melanie Parker is Beverly's daughter. The Parker family was living with Beverly and Richard when we moved here in the summer of 2011. Melanie and I soon became good friends. Our children played regularly as we all lived on the same street. Soon after Beverly's was diagnosed with ALS, Melanie's family moved to Pleasant View (not because of her diagnosis, it's just how it happened). Around that same time (fall of 2012), I was assigned to be Beverly's visiting teacher. And while I wasn't probably deserving of that assignment, it has been a great blessing to get to know Beverly and Richard. I love the entire family.

Dear Beverly,

My connection with your family began with your daughter Melanie. Not only is she beautiful on the outside, but as you know, her heart is made of gold.

Having moved to Ryan Circle in the summer of 2011, I was happy to meet her and her darling girls as I hoped they’d be future playmates of my children. Little did I know that it was actually my friendship with Melanie (and her Mother) that I’d come to cherish the very most.

Melanie went ahead and assigned herself to be my visiting teacher (as it was her Church calling at the time). I’m so glad she did! I was lucky to see her regularly. My admiration for her faith, strength and perseverance through life’s challenges was instant. I’d never met someone as positive and selfless as Melanie. As she shared with me the daily challenges and worry associated with caring for her precious Emylie, I tried to tell my chatty self to hush up, let her speak and listen. As I did this, I would quietly marvel at her grace and wisdom. Did Melanie just come like this? Did the Lord send her fully equipped to handle her trials in such a way? Was her goodness learned? I don’t know the full source, or extant, of Melanie’s awesomeness but I’ll tell you what... when I began to really know you, Bev, things began to add up!

I don’t remember the reason why I first came to your house. It may have been to pick up Eliza from a play date with Elizabeth. Or perhaps I was picking up Melanie so we could go on our evening walk. What I do remember is seeing Emylie’s crib, toys and medical equipment center stage in your family room. An emotional lump swelled in my throat as I took in the sight of all the hand santizer bottles and the written warnings to “Please Wash Your Hands” as it helped pull into perspective Melanie’s reality. She was much more of a caregiver than I’ve ever been. I also thought of you and Richard and of your deep generosity in opening up your home in such a way. A lot of children claim to have the “best Grandparents” but I’m pretty sure your Grandkids can rightfully make this claim.

In the fall of 2012, I watched a miracle unfold as Melanie shared with me the details of her sudden and upcoming move to Pleasant View! My heart broke and rejoiced at the same time as I realized that my favorite friend would be moving away. I tried to stay positive, citing her as an example, and upbeat. Even so, the Parker family would (and have) been missed! Before leaving, she assigned me to be your visiting teacher which I’m super grateful for.

One of those first visiting teaching visits involved me intruding upon the Holbrook family’s Sunday dinner. Your beautiful home is a “gathering place” for those who love you most. It’s been neat to observe the closeness your family shares. During our chat, I asked you and Richard how you met. The two of you delved into your story, finishing each other’s sentences and indulging all of my questions. I’m truly a nosey neighbor. You even showed me photos from your early days together. I loved it.

Another highlight of our visits has always been Richard. I’d pretend to care about sports so that he’d remember to give me a huge candy bar on Halloween night (it worked!). His humor and easy going nature makes him a great person to be around. I have also seen a more serious side of him as he’s expressed how he worries over you. It’s a tender and humbling sight. More than anything, it’s evident that he loves you very much!

I’ve always been so impressed by your beautiful garden, yard and flowers. I remember well when you and Melanie shared with me your potting secrets (crushed cans underneath the soil? Brilliant!). It was during these times when I’d watch you and Melanie together that I could clearly see why Melanie is the way she is. She may have been born innately good, but it’s because of her Mother’s generous and kind example that she learned how to exercise those qualities.

As your condition has progressed, I have strongly felt of that same light and positive spirit that Melanie carries. It goes without saying that you’ve had devastating moments and sorrow. I can’t imagine or comprehend what that is like or you. But, what I can attest too is that I’ve seen you smile through it. I’ve seen you remember and offer strength to others despite your own personal heartache.

This final story (yikes! I am so long winded! I apologize!) is one I want your children to know. In October of 2013, a young Mother in our ward lost her 13 month old son. He died in his sleep without a medical explanation. Krystle, the mother, was understandably devastated. Months passed before Krystle found the courage to return to Relief Society because the last time that she had sat in the Relief Society room, she had been with her son Corbyn. I remember that Sunday well because Corbyn peacefully curled up in her lap for a 40 minute nap. It astonished me that he’d so sweetly and calmly decide to nap in his Mother’s arm during Church! I’d never seen it done without an ounce of drama!

 The Sunday she returned, I stared at the chair that the two of them had previously occupied. My heart was breaking for her all over again. Each of us was keenly aware of her return. In a room full of women who didn’t know what to say or how to react, sat you.

You made your way to her as soon as the lesson was over. I watched as you took her in your arms and offered your condolences. Overcome with emotion, you decided to take out a pen and paper to more easily communicate your thoughts. You told her about your son, Michael. She cried as she understood the painful connection you two share. She asked how long it had been since he’d passed away and you responded with the exact year/month/week count. You cried and hugged and I just sat and observed like that annoying fly on the wall you just can’t get rid of!

Before you parted, your voice found strength as you clearly and humbly said to Krystle: “I pray for you every day.” I was blown away. You have every reason in the world to be concerned about the challenges on your plate. But your prayers are with her. Your thoughts are with her. Your heart aches for her. She represents how your brain operates. She represents each of your grandchildren, children, family and friends that you still pray for. Thank you for being at Church that Sunday to offer her comfort and teach me that the Lord doesn’t need fancy gift baskets or articulate, polished people to do his work. Don’t get me wrong, Bev, you are most definitely lovely and beautiful and polished... but you are also meek and humble. That day you were the best person to offer her solace. 

I’m sure your life is dotted with quiet moments of service. Your family and their goodness is evidence of the wonderful way in which they were raised. Your Grandchildren are in the best of hands because you prepared those hands. I love and admire you to pieces, Beverly. Happy Birthday!

Ali Flegal

Beverly's birthday is August 22nd. That night, around 8:00 pm, friends, co-workers of her husband, neighbors and her family gathered on her front lawn with our ice buckets. We were all so happy to see that Beverly was awake, alert and watching from her front room window. I'm horribly embarrassed by my eccentric, overly enthusiastic behavior but that's just the way I am. When I shout to Bev that I love her, I was really talking to her. I sign to her "I love you" because she had just signed that to us from the window. It made me so happy. Her birthday was on a Friday. The following Wednesday, August 27, Beverly passed away. I'm so thankful that she was here to see the sudden and vibrant ALS ice bucket social media campaign that's been all over the place, before she passed. I wish with my whole heart that a cure will be found right away. Like SMA and other muscular dystrophy type diseases, this is a cruel, horrible disease.

Lottie Preps for Preschool

With her birthday being in the fall, I feel like I had an "extra" year with Lottie. This little girl is the sunshine in our home! And as much as I'm going to miss her when she makes the leap from Mom's full-time sidekick to preschool student, I'm very excited for her.

When I reflect on all of the errands and car trips benefiting her older siblings that she's been apart of, I'm thrilled that she gets to have something that is just for her. As it turns out, being my sidekick and full-time tag along isn't as glamorous as it sounds (I know, you're shocked).

Enter the Little Red School House:
I couldn't have dreamed up a better preschool situation. Henry attended here and loved his experience. Beginning next week, Lottie will begin this exciting new chapter (twice a week). A few nights ago, Lottie was invited to an open house where she met her teachers, a few of her soon-to-be friends and explored the school. Miss Mary's passion is evident in all of her creative detail. From her freshly painted red house, to her amazing flowers that tower over her students... to this darling little lamb (*sing with me now: Mary had a little lamb*) 
Henry jumped at the opportunity to return to his "old stomping grounds"... Her veteran sibling enjoyed introducing her to the playground and classrooms. It was a sweet little outing. I enjoyed being with them both.
Henry's first day of preschool year one (click here)
Henry's first day of preschool year two (click here)
Henry graduates preschool (click here)

Settling in

During the first week of school, we were blessed by a welcome dip in temperature. That cool morning air offered us a sweet, albeit early, taste of Autumn. Since then, the force of summer has returned; reminding us that she's not ready to disappear entirely.

Each morning as I escort my children through the school yard and over to their respective doors, I take in the happy, busy sight. Having been constructed at the end of last year, the playground is still a prized novelty. It is grand! I notice that additional features, namely monkey bars, have been added over the summer. The playground is covered in children who seem eager to bask in the freedom of playtime before being summoned by the school bell. My children prefer to skip over the mass of kids and wait with their friends by their doors.With Forrest in his stroller, Lottie and I take a step back and observe.

Usually, by now, Eliza has hugged me goodbye and walked over to wait with the third grade students. I pine for her as I vividly remember standing diligently at her side as she waited for school to begin. Time has passed and my place is now with Henry. I look at my sweet Lottie and silently beg her to take her time growing up!

Their school is nestled in the shadows of a majestic mountain. Having been built years ago, the trees that line the paths are mature and beautiful. The massive green field is where my children attend soccer practice in the Fall and Spring. Beginning my fourth school year here, I welcome the familiarity of my surroundings. I once felt like a total, overly emotional newbie. Supposing that the passage of time isn't entirely rotten, I'm glad that experience has promoted me to an overly emotional school yard regular. I recognize many faces of the school children and enjoy interacting with them. Likewise, I enjoy visiting with the other parents. We pat each other on the back and offer empathy when we notice each others teary expressions when it's time to watch our precious little ones march into the school.

The bell rings. Children rush into their lines. You hear a collective sigh as a nearly tardy parent and child make it just in time. The teachers, whom you have grown to love in what feels like an instant, open the door and brightly greet the children. Even on the craziest, most rushed of days, this whole morning ritual lifts my spirit.

I'm searching my brain for a smooth segue to the batch of miscellaneous photos I have on hand for today's post....


 ....... I've got nothing. Forgive me. Here we go anyway.

In the few days that he's been in first grade, Henry has matured immensely.
What a sophisticated little devil!
Last week, he came home from school with a goatee and mustache! Puberty came early for this boy! His reading ability continues to grow and thankfully (knock on wood), he's a willing participant when it comes time to do homework. He adores his two teachers! His Chinese teacher, Ms. Chen, updates her class blog frequently with videos and photos of what they're doing. I can't fully express my great delight that she diligently does this! Visit her blog here:

If I could describe Eliza's personality in two words it would be:
Hermione Granger. However, if Eliza was to sort herself into a Hogwarts house, it would be Ravenclaw. She remains terribly afraid of trying new food, so she doesn't identify with the brave and fearless components of the Griffindor house (although, as her mother, I would argue she has proven to be brave on many occasions). The child loves to learn. She is a sponge. She is thriving in the Chinese language. In fact, she informed me recently, that because her new teacher Mr. Ma refuses to speak a word of English to his class, he has designated Eliza as his mouth piece when necessary. If he needs to get a message to the class and isn't reaching them in Chinese, he will pull Eliza into the hall (so he doesn't break his no English in the classroom policy) and whisper the message to her. Eliza then returns to the classroom to relay his message in English for him. As for her English teacher, Eliza worships her. Evident by the amount of dum dum suckers she has already earned this year, it is fair to say that Eliza is doing well in there too.

In the car the other day, Eliza shares with me her school related success. Praising her, I say:

"Eliza, I don't know what is going on but it sounds to me like you are a super star in class!" Henry, cute as can be, chimes in.

"I know what's going on, Mom."

"You do?" I say.

"Uh-huh." He replies. "Mrs. Longfellow says that the key to being super smart is reading a lot. And Eliza reads ALL.THE.TIME!" This is true. Henry nailed it. Eliza loves to read. And she is setting a great example for her younger siblings.

We are happy to be back in the swing of things... even when that includes one of the children bringing home the first, "caught at school" head cold. Eliza, sadly, was the first one to come down with it only to pass it on to me! And on that note, we can officially welcome in the new school year!

trying to balance, falling on your face

I've determined, once again, that Motherhood is difficult. I'm not going to sugar coat it, friends. Life right now is challenging. And sometimes, because of how challenging it is, I cry.

Having small babies at home, you learn right away, is exhausting. However, in that phase... time is still your own. Well, kind of. It's a shock to the system when you go from being the one to call the shots  in your adult centered life to suddenly be the one to take orders from a newborn baby. Aside from the visits to the doctor, you don't have many "have-to-do's." It took time, but I adjusted to that phase and found joy there. Love sees you through. Is that right, Hallmark? Well, something like that happens. 

And although I currently have a baby and a toddler, I also have "big kids" which has me placed in a new, tricky, phase. At least that's how it feels. One day, I will no longer be required to buckle my kids in car seats, haul strollers or wipe stinky baby bottoms. A short while later, all of my children will be in school and I am told that I will have hours to myself each day! When I get to that point, will I absolutely love it? Will it break my heart? Don't get me wrong, dear reader, I am in no hurry, dear reader, to reach that place because I hear that when you do, your kids are grown and moved out five minutes later. Is it all a moot point because life will replace the obligations associated with small children with something that's equally demanding? Will I freaking exercise?! Please tell me, future Ali, that you do this.

As I glance at my calendar and take in my children's extracurricular activities I feel overwhelmed. I do not feel they are personally over scheduled, but when you add up FOUR children (Forrest's extracurricular is story time each Monday with Lottie and me, cute right?)... it's overwhelming.

Schedules conflict frequently at times. You juggle the best you can and cry when you feel you've fallen short. Sometimes you cry because it seems that you constantly fail your lady friends because you chose your kids over them. Deep down, you know that missing your beautiful friend's bachelorette party so you could be with your children the night before they started school was the right thing to do. Only then, you skip out on them days later to attend the temple open house with your family. Your instagram feed, the next day, makes you feel plain awful because you clearly missed out. Even so, I hope they'll keep forgiving me. In the meantime, I'm going to try harder to be more organized and not linger in feelings of failure when I can't be two places at once. 

As for the Ogden Temple... wow, wow, wow!! We are so excited that this is "our temple." It is extraordinary!
Clearly, it was raining the night we went.
Darling cousins: Lottie and Sara
My photos don't do it's majesty justice

My sister was kind enough to organize the experience for my side of the family. Forrest did... okay. It was past his bedtime by the time we made it inside the temple. The brilliant light fixtures proved to be a good distraction from his exhaustion. Forrest is not even close to minding me. The key to this phase in his development, as I previously mentioned, is distracting him with something new when he doesn't get his way. The idea of putting him down to let him try and "walk" beside us is laughable! I don't know why I was feeling so optimistic, maybe my arms were really tired, but I decided to let him down for a minute as we made our way through the hall. That little firecracker was off in an instant! I scooped him back up and continued to point out each and every light fixture. He was cute to wave to the temple volunteers as we walked pass them. 

Lottie held her cousin Callie's hand almost the entire time. I didn't want to interrupt that. Henry stayed close to me which allowed me quick little teaching moments, which I loved. Andrew and I both agree that we felt rushed. There's so much to take in, but we take comfort in knowing we'll be back soon enough. Eliza was with her cousins but kindly obliged when I'd call her back so I could point something out to her. It was a neat experience to share with our family.

Flashback to September 2012 (click here): We tour the Brigham City Temple. Andrew was away on business so it was just me, the kids and my friend Melanie's family. Fun fact: that very morning I found out I was expecting Forrest.