Friday, November 21, 2014

Curious Forrest goes to nursery

Forrest Daniel Flegal
18 months old

Sweet baby Forrest,

18 months have come and gone since your arrival. Looking back I feel a myriad of emotions; chief among them is gratitude. Close behind is the feeling of disbelief that your first year and a half cruised by so quickly. I feel like I need to preface this post with the tried and true disclaimer of "I am really tired right now" because I feel a mental block, a fog if you will, settling in as I try to articulate my thoughts on what makes you special and how cherished you truly are.
I owe this fog to sleep deprivation. You, my marvelous child, have slept soundly since you were a wee babe. However, your older siblings recently shared the croup with you which has required that I hold you upright in my arms to allow you to breath easier while you sleep. And while it was disconcerting to see Henry and Lottie suffer with a version of this same illness, it's been a real scare watching it tackle your little body. I feel like a panicked first time Mom as it has been years since I've had a little one with the croup. I don't like it one bit. In Henry and Lottie's defense, they did their best to resist loving on you while they were sick. We tried our best to prevent the spread. Unfortunately, you didn't help us out much as you love to sample toothbrushes, share drinks, kiss well as embracing other germ friendly exchanges.   

With three older siblings, it's part of the deal. Sometimes we luck out, but usually when it's something this ugly, a form of it shows up at some point. Besides illness, with three older siblings there is plenty of distraction to be had. Despite these moments of crazy, I have done my best to cherish your babyhood and be grateful for it. Even so, it is passing too darn quick.

As I acknowledge that we have daily moments of frustration and scenes of embarrassing chaos, I want to highlight the more important opposite. When I see you at play with your older brother and sisters a happiness, that I can't clearly describe, wells up inside of me reassuring me how right things are in our little world. When I rock you at bedtime, the big kids gather around your rocking chair and together they choose a song to sing to you. You are loved! Being a witness to my children loving each other is one of the greatest heavenly paybacks in the world.

My attention and time is divided among four needy, yet totally deserving, spirits of God. The benefit is that these same souls who you share your life with shower you with love and adoration. You know how to pull hair, fight over toys and can throw a mean Forrest size tantrum, but like me, the kids are quick to offer you forgiveness and eager to show you affection.

Reuniting with my pillow at the end of the day, it signals that I have crossed my daily finish line. As I evaluate the day, I often feel a sense of maternal failure. I try to combat this feeling with some mental words of encouragement, pray for help to be better and implement Elsa's advice to simply: let it go. Every once in awhile, I feel the need to fist pump my imaginary friends as I recall an ugly moment from my day when I exercised patience or recognized how good it felt to spend quality time with my babes. Either way, there is a constant thought that accompanies me to bed each night which is this: I am excited to wake up and see my baby Forrest ("But please Heavenly Father, please bless that it's after 7:00 a.m." Ha ha ha).

Its true. I love scooping you up each morning. Silently, you start to rapidly point. It's like you are testing me to see if my explanations can keep up with your finger's enthusiasm. You brace yourself for the moment when you'll find your siblings. After time away, they can't help themselves. They swarm you. Sometimes you love the attention, other days, you still need a few minutes to "wake up."
You aren't particularly chatty. However, when I was at your most recent doctor appointment, I was pleased to see that you are surpassing your milestones. Every once in a while you will blurt out a full (two to three word) sentence. For a child who doesn't speak much English (you are proficient in your own baby babble) this makes us laugh! A few weekends ago, you were climbing the stairs and turned around to say,

"Bye, bye Lottie!" It was as clear as day. And then, on Halloween as your dad passed out candy, you blurted out: "Trick or Treat!" This delights us so much and shocks us each time.

Mischievous Forrest 

Sick baby Forrest on his way to the doctor's office

Forrest, letting me know that he wanted a scrambled egg
proceeds to crack the egg himself. 
Not pictured: the huge mess this left on my kitchen floor 

You are by far my gutsy, most reckless, dangerous baby to date! You love to push the kitchen chairs so you can climb onto our stools, counters and tables. You also enjoy using these chairs to aid you onto the couch where you throw yourself onto the cushions. You repeat this over and over. I will be sitting near you and look over and notice that you are standing, so still, on the very mobile kitchen stool. At moments like that, I lose my breath entirely. You can safely slide down stairs and open all of our latch doors. Eliza has created a fantastic little barricade to prevent you from entering her bedroom. You enjoy letting yourself into a closet, or the garage, even if it's totally dark to do some exploring. You are curious; to put it simply.
You wave to strangers always. Last week we were at the store when you eagerly began to wave to a big and burly man who was wearing a tank top. His arms were covered in tattoos and his face had many piercings. His hair was a bright, bleached blond. His appearance didn't phase you in the least. This man was teary when he confided, "That's never happened to me before" in reference to your friendly wave. 

 When you want my attention, you knock, with a closed fist, on my lap, leg or arm. It just depends. It's really adorable. Other times you'll scream for me.

You love trucks and trains. You make the noise of a truck as you play which is pretty darn cute. We recently watched the garbage truck a few weeks ago. You were in complete awe.

 You are wild about Daddy. It's fun to see how this relationship has blossomed. Last weekend, you were big enough to follow him around the yard as he did his outside chores. I love when my little boys start to shadow their Dad on a Saturday afternoon. It makes my heart sing.

First week of nursery
Your mouth is dark blue from eating a dum dum sucker. 
I was struggling to get us out the door
 and the sucker was a tempting idea to keep you occupied while I finished up.

As for nursery, you started going two weeks ago. I got a text from the nursery leader saying that Daddy had a harder time than you did that first week! To be honest, it's made my heart sad too as I like having my Sunday school pal. Your nursery leaders are both devoted and darling with you which makes me feel fortunate. I still will miss you. If you want to know what makes this the most hard is that as I go through these milestones, I have the mentality that you are our last baby. I don't know if that's true, but Dad sure seems to think so. That's how I've approached everything and instead of getting me excited for a diaper free existence and other freeing things to come, I feel real sad. I'm not saying I want to be pregnant, calm down Andrew. I have four kids who need a Mother who is mentally sound. I just enjoy my babies a lot.
Your second week of nursery, you made these darling turkeys.

Forrest, I love you so much. I'm so glad you are here. You continue to bring so much joy into our home. Please stay little an extra long time.


Other recent happenings:

Andrew and I completed financial peace university. I highly recommend people do this. Forgive me for being persistent and annoying, but it was life changing in a major way. Go here to learn more.

And, for the duration of their brother's illness, the big kids have been great to keep each other occupied.

I hope they remain close friends. For-ev-er.(said in Squints voice from the Sandlot)

Friday, November 7, 2014

Two Princesses, A Knight in Shinning Armor and The Royal Naughty Chicken

Like the sneaky black cat who roams our neighborhood, Halloween quietly crept up on me this year. When I finally realized it was here, everything - the pumpkins, parties, costuming - seemed to happen all at once.

In no particular order, here are the highlights. 

For the fourth year in a row, we attended the Eastwood ward's trunk or treat. I was asked to make two big pots of soup. The recipe I chose proved to be a hit; the surprise being I can successfully follow a recipe. {I appreciate each detail, Mel! If you told me to do a summer salt in between stirs, I probably would.} It made the crazy afternoon of getting the kids ready, keeping them clean (mission impossible), squeezing in a few minutes of photo taking with a most uncooperative chicken while putting the finishing touches on the soup worth it. Phew! I feel tired all over again.   

 One of the highlights of the party were the brilliantly wacky, mad scientists who created the spooky, yet tasty, Italian sodas! One of these years, I will join in the Halloween fun and dress up too. Andrew and I are still suffering from post traumatic Halloween costume regret; (see here) which is one of the reasons for our hesitation (laziness being the other).

The trunk or treat introduced bags of candy into our home. Being the irresponsible parent that I am, I let my children have full access to their stash of candy. For the most part, I do not interfere with their haul; aside from the occasional, "can I have that?" question. None of them have a tendency to eat it all at once, so I leave it up to them to barter, save and eat a piece here and there. Eliza has her candy rationed so it will last as long as possible. She is very disciplined in when she allows herself a piece. And, it has been known to happen, that she'll convince a younger sibling to share some of theirs with her in an effort to preserve her own supply. Henry kind of forgets he has candy until he spies Forrest bolting out of his room with a recently acquired sucker in hand and Lottie is very diligent (or so I think) to ask me before she eats something. 
Lottie was invited to dress up in her costume for a preschool party. She was thrilled! Her party concluded with another trunk or treat. Side note: Halloween candy is expensive. I feel like I re-learn this every year. Andrew was working from home that day, so he took his lunch break and came to watch with me. I love when he can taste the joy of parenting in this way. As the Mom, I am spoiled that I get to see the children in their school environment as often as I do. It is such a, wait for it, treat.
The night before Halloween we squeezed in pumpkin carving. The weather was super cooperative, as it has been most of the season, allowing us to carve outside. As I watched Andrew wheel the pumpkins from the front porch to our back patio where our eager children waited, I was filled with deep satisfaction. Life is good. This season is special. It isn't perfect, but in that moment, I felt true contentment. And then it was time for me to go inside and clean for the babysitter.
 Eliza really didn't want to touch the pumpkin guts, 
so she outfitted herself with a painting smock 
and gloves for washing dishes.
 Dinner on the patio; in October.
Halloween arrived. Eliza was up early to begin her transformation into the "Princess in the Blue Dress" who coincidentally resembles Elsa but is most definitely not Elsa. She was bouncing up and down with anticipation. Eliza has a major sweet tooth (with several fillings to prove it) and was debating out loud whether or not she liked Halloween or Christmas best. Two days after Halloween, she informed me that she loves Christmas most. 

I managed to safely place the bobby pins in her hair; which I count as a major win because in general I am not very artsy or steady with my hands. The make up was fun for us both. She feels like her glasses really change her appearance and was super excited that she didn't have to wear them all day.
 I think she is very beautiful.
Her Nanna Teresa put together this beautiful costume for her. 

Henry looked dashing as a knight! He was okay with not being able to bring the pretend sword to school, even though that sword had been the very reason he chose that costume. 
 As for the chicken, he sure looked adorable despite the trial that was trying to capture a smile.
I arrived early to the school and was pleased to see that the parade what take place outside. Henry was already outside finishing up a recess. Knowing we had time to spare, I set our chicken free from the stroller. He darted to the play ground, not caring at all that it was filled with big kids. His little chicken body created a lot of buzz among the children. I found it all amusing. 
The parade began. Having already had a fun time chatting with Henry during his recess, the highlight of the parade was when Eliza stepped out of line to come and hug me. It was a welcome reminder that she isn't quite so big or too cool for Mom yet. She had me worried for a minute as she was clearly to mature (or something) to not be Elsa.

Andrew was home from work early. With that extra piece of time, we went to our friend Patti's house for a visit. Seeing her always lifts our spirits. And then, finally, we returned home to eat dinner. Eliza inhaled her dinner and was about to explode through the rough with impatience as she saw are street begin to fill with trick or treaters. Hearing her pleas, a few minutes later, we started our trick or treating adventure.
 When Lottie and Henry decided to call it a night, Andrew took Eliza out for a while longer. The younger children and I popped popcorn and snuggled up on the couch to watch, Beauty and the Beast because nothing says creepy better than those scary wolves that chase Maurice in to the castle. :) That's about as scary as things got at our house! We had a happy Halloween. Until next year!