Sunday, March 30, 2014

March {weather} Madness

Twas the eve of Spring Break and the Flegal's yard was completely covered in snow...


I had the thought earlier today to take a photo of the wintry scene but felt more depressed than inspired by the idea so I decided against it. Instead, let's reminiscence of warm March weekends past and dream of those to come in April; fingers crossed.

Earlier this month we took the kids fishing...
... and we loved it. Eliza caught four fish. Henry caught three and Miss Lottie "caught" two. Forrest proved to be the wiggliest of worms as I did my best to keep him happy while hopping from spot to spot around the pond.

 Last weekend we gathered around the campfire where we dined on gourmet franks, classic Lay chips and gooey toasted marshmallows.
Please note, in the bottom right photo, Eliza sporting a pair of goggles. She does this to protect her eyes from the smoke. She looks like a cute little minion.
Spring and Fall are ideal for campfire cookouts, according to Andrew. As enjoyable as it is to be stoking the fire in 90+ degree weather during the summer... just kidding. Maybe next time we'll move past hotdogs and try something a little more upscale. Perhaps we should bust out the dutch oven?! That could be fun. And tasty.

 Other highlights from March include a date night out for Andrew and me. Nanna Teresa offered to spend the night so he and I could enjoy a night void of babysitter fees. It was truly a great gift. Ami and Adam joined us for dinner, which was great, but following dinner we opted to go back home (and to bed) instead of doing something else. Coming down with a cold, it was the choice that appealed to me most. I know. We're lame!

Other Fleglet tidbits include:
Henry's love and ability to tackle a lego project has grown leaps and bounds. He silently disappears into his room to construct and build or will bring them down to the kitchen where he'll have an audience. I enjoy watching him work but when he's downstairs there is the added stress of finding rogue lego pieces on the floor; all of which are in reach of this cute little baby.
He makes my heart sing. In a week, he'll be eleven months old. Are we even kidding?!? His latest tricks include cruising around the furniture on his feet and using a kitchen chair as his walker.

Eliza and I enjoyed an impromptu girls night out.
Here's a miscellaneous photo of Lottie for good measure.
The happiest sight of the month might have been watching the reunion between the children and the sandbox, playhouse and giant rocks that dot our yard.

The good weather seemed to call to the chickens too, or so my kids said when I found them playing with them in the playhouse. Don't worry, I put an end to their shenanigans when I found them sending the chickens down the slide. I promise, they weren't harmed physically; probably emotionally though.
On the days when the weather wasn't as warm as we liked, we bundled up and went to the park anyway because being outside feels so good.
Last but not least,
Andrew started a new job! That's right! My thirtieth birthday proved to be a real milestone in more ways than one as his career shifted course once more. The decision to change companies was his. And while he prefers that I keep job specifics off the blog, I will say that we're pretty excited about this new opportunity. Even with the increased commute time, we don't plan to relocate as we're very happy with our current situation (home, school and neighborhood).

Monday, March 24, 2014

Tidings of Birthday Joy continued: Ali turns 30!

Ten years ago, I was living in Nauvoo, Illinois. As I waited out the final months until my missionary's return, I soaked up church history in a most special and unique way while studying at the Joseph Smith Academy. The week of my 20th birthday, my parents came out for a visit. It was memorable, to say the least.

March 17, 2004
My last birthday as Alison Mays
My Dad sent me this photo, taken on my 20th birthday, last week. Seeing this photo, the day after I turned 30, sent me into full on reflection mode. That's right, blog. You're in trouble. Here comes another poem a.k.a the reason why I'm still tripping over ignored mounds of laundry in my living room. 

An Ode to Turning Thirty

They say, “Turning thirty is hard!
 You should feel sad, horrified, upset!
Instead, can we please adopt the notion
that this next chapter’s the best yet?

When looking back, I will confess,
life granted us great blessings.
A marriage, four babies, adventures abroad…
these memories belong to my twenties.

At twenty years old, we were reunited
after two long years apart.
Married two months later, we wasted no time;
We were ready for our life to start!

Crazy in love newlyweds,
our days were full and busy.
From work to school and back again,
it was enough to make me dizzy.

Somewhere in between we managed to find
the money to visit Hawaii.
But first there was Mexico and when we returned
I was expecting someone tiny!

And then, at the age of twenty two,
Our world was forever changed
As I held my first born child ~ instant love ~
A bond so beautiful, never again to be the same!

My sweet Eliza captured my heart.
I feel eternally blessed to be her Mother.
And what do you know? What happened next?
13 months later I was expecting her brother!

It was at that time that we landed in Germany.
 We felt guided by the Lord’s hand.
As we immersed ourselves in something new,
forever to celebrate our Adventures in Deutchland!

Returning to Utah it was time to prepare
For a new baby and his final year of school
We were poor and went without many “things”
But staying at home with my kids, was (for us) the right thing to do.

March of 2008, Henry would come two (+) weeks early
My plan to turn twenty four was foiled!
Even so, we were thrilled that our family had grown.
Enamored by him, this Mother of two, felt spoiled.

 A few months passed, graduation finally arrived!
And with it came dreams of a house.
A place to grow our family...but wait a minute!        
You’re accepting a job in the South?!

We said Hello to South Carolina
and tearfully bid farewell to Salt Lake.
It was a time of great excitement, shock and at times,
overwhelming heart ache.

It proved to be a wise choice
as I’ve watched him progress in his career.
Once more his work ethic blew me away,
while Motherhood seemed to be kicking me in the rear!

My cooking abilities grew inside my kitchen, (thank you, Mels Kitchen Cafe!)
I socially crawled out of my shell.
My confidence as a Mother grew so much
And I owe that surge to my friend, Michelle.

In 2010 our own Southern Belle
would make a grand entrance into our lives.
Our darling Charlotte Marie was born;
Three kids, away from family, how would we survive?

And just like that, it happened in a blink,
He aced another job interview.
March of 2011, I was boarding a plane,
with our precious little crew.

For the past three years,
We’ve made South Ogden our home;
where roots have been planted, 
and our small children have grown.

Feeling more settled than in times past,
we asked God to {please} send us one more.
Another child of God to love and raise;
we expanded from three to four.

Forrest Daniel Flegal
Is our beloved little baby
“Is he your last?” Dad always says ‘Yes!’
While Mom says, “Erm… maybe?!”

I’m not going to lie. Motherhood is hard.
Still, life is bright, full and busy.
And just like our days as newlyweds,
this Mama, at times, feels dizzy.

I wouldn’t trade a second.
Not even those that feel frustrating, hard or scary
The world may negate my choice to have four children,
stay home and at a young age marry.

But let it be known, this will be my life’s work;
though it may seem a menial and simple venture.
I understand its importance and love my family fiercely
They are my greatest adventure.

Here's to thirty.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Tidings of Birthday Joy: Henry turns six!

 "It looks like someone ordered snow for his birthday." I mused aloud. I'd caught sight of a familiar scene of white out our back windows. The sun, being slow to rise, was quietly highlighting the new snow. Considering how much we've enjoyed the recent surge of warm weather, it was hard to admit the snow was beautiful.

My thoughts were quickly interrupted by a series of excited foot steps rushing down the stairs. There he was; my six year old birthday boy! Right on schedule my brain went through the standard, seemingly cliche, realizations:

"I can't believe my baby boy is six!" 
"That went fast!"
"Is he really six? I believe that Eliza was six, but Henry? Really?"
"In another six years, he will be a deacon! He'll be old enough to go inside of the temple and will pass the sacrament and will be...oh my gosh... he'll be TWELVE?!" 

Slow down, self. Take a deep breath!

I confess that it seemed that Eliza may have been the most appreciative of the clean and tidy living area, the bright balloons and birthday banner. Either that or she was excelling in her friend post of garnering birthday excitement on behalf of her brother. He was happy to be six! And the Dunkin Donuts waiting for him in the fridge was also a fun little (unhealthy) surprise.

"I'm taking the entire day off from work." Andrew casually informed me the day prior. Bells of joy sounded within my heart!

"Really?" I was thrilled. Not just for Henry, but man do I like having an extra pair of hands on the day of a big family event! Not to mention, that man is my eye candy! I like looking at him too. Woo, woo!

With Dad there, we were able to eat our donuts breakfast as a family. Because he's a better person than me, Andrew scrambled up some eggs as well. Have I mentioned that we have eggs coming out of our ears?! It's true.
We reached the eight o'clock hour. Because she has a stellar memory, Eliza notes that the time of his actual birth is approaching. I realize she's right as another wave of maternal sentiment washes through me. I comb his hair, straighten his glasses and wash the sticky doughnut residue from his handsome face (he is capable of this, but I welcome the opportunity to spit clean his face while he'll still let me!). Finally, I kiss his cheek and ask him to go brush his teeth.

Returning downstairs after scrubbing his teeth, we secure his new "I am six" birthday pin on his shirt. He beams with pride.

"Can Mom take a few pictures of you outside?" Taking photos is my feeble attempt to freeze time.

Andrew then offers to drive Eliza and Henry to school. And with that, I begin finalizing a few last minute birthday details.
A birthday detail: "Shark you for coming"
Eat your heart out Pinterest. 
This is the extent of my creative abilities. 

It turns out, Andrew had a little business to take care of in Salt lake which was fine by me as it made me the only option of picking Henry up from school. Once his teacher spots me coming up the sidewalk, she gives Henry the green light to leave. Running as fast as he can, he tries his best to plow me over. Instead, I'm able to catch my six year old and scoop him up for a big birthday kiss. Reunions are the best and thankfully he isn't embarrassed (yet) by his affectionate Mother.

I offer to take him someplace "special" for his birthday lunch. He chooses a homemade turkey sandwich (a whole, not a half) with chips at our kitchen counter. Eating alongside his Dad made is what I think made it special.
We enjoyed a little down time in the afternoon as we waited out the hours until his birthday party. 3:30 finally arrived. As I stood on our porch to welcome his friends, I had to laugh at the weather. The back yard snow from that morning had long since melted. The sun burned bright, the wind softly blew and a flurry of unexplained snow flakes fell. It made no sense to see snow falling in the streaming sunlight.

I couldn't help but tie that scene to my son's personality. No matter the angst or upset he may feel in a particular frustrating moment, it is (usually) possible to be able to find a sudden smile or hear a burst of laughter in the middle of it.

We loaded up this cute crew and headed to Kangaroo Zoo where Henry and his friends enjoyed an afternoon of bouncing, sliding and running around like super happy, crazy people! 

"Did we rent out the entire facility?" Andrew asked. 

"No." I replied. But you would have thought we had considering how empty the place was. Tuesday afternoons are a great time to go to Kangaroo Zoo, for your information. It was nearly deserted until our lot took over. 
Other party highlights:
The Jungle party room! And that one time that Eliza pulled the blinds, and its accompanying hardware, entirely off the wall/ceiling. Oops! We're sure glad she wasn't hurt.

Watching his expression when he saw his shark cake for the first time was another highlight!

My talented friend Krystle offered to make Henry's birthday cake. He and his friends loved it and it tasted delicious. I can't thank her enough for the time and energy spent creating it. I have a lot to say about my friendship with Krystle and how grateful I am for her in my life, but I think that needs to be a separate post.
Henry was eager to open his presents. Considering that our gift to him was a trip with friends to Kangaroo Zoo, he was happy to have something in his hands to actually open.
Pulling up to the facility, I chose a parking spot next to my Mom's car. Not expecting to see her, Lottie looked over. Her big eyes grew bigger as she shouted,

"Mom! It's YOUR Nana!" Having two Grandma's with the nickname of "Nana," Lottie often asks if it's Daddy's Nanna or Mama's Nana. Having my Mom there to share in the merriment was great!
Big baby Forrest is ten months old!
Oh my goodness!!

Speaking of that cute baby, all the kids had fun watching him crawl and roll around a few of the bounce houses. Considering the small group of kids that were there, I felt it was safe to let him have his fill.
And here's a miscellaneous shot of Lottie that I love so much.
Those curls kill me.

And finally, here's one last 'highlight' courtesy of Andrew:

The girls plus Forrest drove in the van with me while Andrew was responsible for playing chauffeur to six hyper little boys. That being the case, Andrew was privy to an array of six year old insight. As for me, one little friend and I sang along to frozen, while Eliza and her friend took turns reading passages from the always delightful: Captain Underpants.

Returning to Andrew's car full of young yahoo's, one little boy, let's call him "John" speaks up above everyone.

"Hey. You guys! Shhhhhhhhhhhh!" He's kind of a natural leader, this boy, and so it didn't take long for him to have their full attention.

"I bet I'm the only one here who knows what twerking is!" He pauses a moment. "Well, do you know?" Had Andrew been drinking a cup of water, he probably would have spit it right out. He couldn't believe his ears! As for the boys, they don't respond to the question. Thankfully, it seems, the rest of the occupants are clueless. Full of pride, John rubs it in further, "I knew it! I'm the only one who knows how to twerk!" Neener, neener, nee!! Don't worry, he never enlightened anyone further.

This boy comes from a a great family, by the way. I'm being serious. It just goes to show how on guard we have to be as parents about what our kids are being exposed to well before they hit the locker room in junior high!

On that note! Let's return to being sentimental. 

 Here's a look back at a few of Henry's big milestones (a.k.a. why I won't give up blogging).

Made in Bavaria (Surprise! We're expecting baby #2)
Hospital Highlights (a summary of Henry's birth)
For my personal history (a little baby blues after his arrival)

A Year ago today (more details from Henry's birth)
Here he is (Henry's first birthday, eating cake)
Would you like some cake with that spit? (Henry turns two)
Going green (Henry turns three)
Legos and Leprechauns (Henry turns four, the birthday party)
Henry's Monster Bash (Henry turns five)

Floating around those posts are the birthday love letters I've written to him as well. They don't call me Ali McCheesy for nothing. Actually, no one calls me that. But y'all should. Because it's true.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Eliza's Dr. Seuss Poem

Here's a video of Eliza reading her Dr. Seuss inspired poem.

Question: Would you like the Cat in the Hat to come
over to your house to play on a rainy day? 

Eliza's Answer:

A snowy, snowy, snowy day. 
8 feet tall no way I could play, 
no, no way. 

Then all the sudden
bump thump thump! 
The cat and the hat it came to appear.
 I could not believe my eyes or ears.

Then he said, "Why do you sit there so bored so lazy?
Ooh look, we could juggle that glass daisy. 

No No I said, 
if my Mom found out, she would send me to bed!

 He ran to the glass and threw it on the floor,
then my brother opened the door!

The cat and the hat to go get dad's gun
and shot brothers arm, then he was done!

I went to the phone to call the police, 
instead I called my niece!

The cat went out to my Mom's perfume
and he sprayed it all over my room!

My Dad came in and got a cleaner upper
he cleaned the whole house
and made supper!

Then he looks at the cat
with anger in his eye and said
bye bye bye.

- Eliza G. Flegal
Feb 4. 2014 
age seven

Chicken Scrap Buffet

Please note the Flegal's definition of chicken scraps:

Food items undesirable or unfit for human consumption.

Chicken scraps may include (but aren't limited to):  leftovers we aren't brave enough to finish, neglected and/or rotten produce, stale bread born of a child's inability to properly seal the bread bag, etc. Having drawn a line on behalf of our chickens, be at peace knowing they are not allowed to eat chicken leftovers. 

When the kids make their daily run to refill their water supply and collect the eggs, they often bring an extra treat, via the chicken scraps bucket, prepared with love from me. At the sight of their approaching friends, the chickens huddle with excitement at the base of the coop's door! The kids seem to enjoy the warm welcome. A few moments later, the kid's are having their own Cinderella type moment as they sprinkle (read: DUMP) the chicken scraps onto the dirt floor of the coop. 

The chickens are a huge fan of their afternoon treat. It turns out, I sadly learned today, that Forrest is too!

As I explained on a recent Instagram post, he enjoyed a sampling of stale rolls, celery stalks and onion peel. Yum!  What caused a little confusion was the wording on the bucket. I ought to clarify that our 'chicken scrap' bucket has never contained gizzards, beaks and/or other chicken-like innards. 

I was only five steps away from him when he was delving into his treat. That full and stinky bucket had been left by the back door waiting for his two older siblings to complete their afternoon chores when he made the discovery.

This horrible, yet humorous, tale is a fair representation of what a day in the life at our house looks like. Those tasks that feel menial are often interrupted by a colorful, sometimes beautiful or panic ridden, type moment that adds interest to a Mother's day. It's the story you hold tight in your arsenal until that next phone call with your spouse. Whether you need sympathy, concern or a deep belly laugh... you eagerly look forward to sharing that moment and scoring the hoped for response.

Every once in awhile, there are days that prove to be far from ordinary.  As a Mom, you receive a 'bonus' but it's entirely different than the type you hope your working counterpart would receive from his boss. Randomly you receive a call from the school informing you that your daughter's Dr. Seuss poem was deemed the winner of the second grade Dr. Seuss writing contest. She didn't compete on a volunteer basis, it was required of each student. You're informed she is to be awarded a special surprise at the Dr. Seuss birthday breakfast.

Less than a minute after receiving that call, you're e-mailing her Grandparents and Dad (who has been gone on a six day business trip) to share the happy news. Arrangements are made with Nana Marie who has agreed to come share in the experience and help you juggle your small children at said event.
Dr. Seuss breakfast day was also Pajama Day!
And it was Eliza's second read-a-thon.
Oh yes, did I mention that it was the same morning that Henry, 
the star student of the week, 
would present his power point on taking care of chickens?

Even on a Mom's bonus day, life is busy! 
 Her surprised reaction was everything I hoped it would be.
She went on stage, collected her prize and shook her Principal's hand. 
The highlight, for me, was when they read her poem aloud. 
As the first bell approached, we joined Henry outside as his presentation was scheduled first thing!
For his "share and teach" he explained the process involved in caring for our chickens via a power point he and I created (he posed for the photos, I did the rest!). He was articulate and calm and so freaking adorable as he took questions from his peers. And please note the darling camo-clad assistant near his feet.
He's such a special boy!
I am so glad he's in our family.

The day was made even more sweet when Andrew arrived home from his business trip! The kid's did well while he was away and the boogie man in my basement didn't get me while he was gone, which is all good news; but MAN he was missed.
...especially by Lottie.
So while Forrest napped, 
we piled in Mom and Dad's bed and took unattractive selfies.

Here are a few other Lottie gems:
Lottie with her bestie

The weekend also included a pedicure-related birthday outing to celebrate my friend Krystle (who had a birthday) and a date night to Roosters. Roosters is a great restaurant on historic 25th street in Ogden. I didn't know that Ogden had a 'historic 25th street.' It was a pleasant and fun discovery. On our date, we were kind enough to include our husband's. The four of us laughed and laughed. It felt so good to socialize with my spouse and our friends. It was Forrest's first time being put to bed by a babysitter and from what I hear, he went to bed without a single fuss. It was Lottie who was the trial!

On Sunday we were lucky enough to head to my Mom's for dinner. The weekend with Andrew, friends and family rejuvenated me after Andrew's time away.

Speaking of rejuvenation, we have enjoyed a mix of seriously beautiful Spring-like weather
and rain...
We need the rain. And it makes my heart happy seeing them march off to school with those umbrellas; so we'll take it!!