Friday, February 26, 2016

Valentine's Day 2016

February 12, 2016
My Love Bugs

In today's edition of, "Look what Forrest did!" we spy a little boy who has been caught finger painting with... wait for it... TOOTHPASTE!
Usually, I am the parent on duty when Forrest finds something fun to play with. However, on this day, I was grocery shopping. While at the store, I received a text from Eliza that read: "Hey Mom. You might want to pick up some extra toothpaste." I thought that was odd because we had just opened a new tube. Less than a minute later, Andrew sent me the photo of Forrest. :) Because I wasn't responsible for cleaning the mess up, I laughed out loud in the middle of the frozen food aisle.

Forrest's objective isn't to make us mad. He is curious. In fact, I remember that when Andrew blessed him as a baby, he said that he would have a "vibrant curiosity." He then blessed him to use his talents to build up and not tare down. What Forrest loves best in a situation like the one you see here, is to drive his toy cars and tractors through the toothpaste (or lip gloss, vaseline, etc). He loves cars so much and finds joy in driving them through new and exciting terrains. That boy needs to be reunited with his sandbox as quickly as possible!

Turning our attention to Valentine's day, in my previous post I wrote about how the kid's class parties crept up on me. By the time I had this huge mess on my table, I was feeling a bit better. We had work to do but the decision making and the gathering of supplies was done.
This mess evolved into these cute valentines.
"I'm so glad we are in the same class" - Lottie
Star Wars Tic Tacs: "Yoda one for me" etc... - Eliza
"Happy Valentines Day Love Bug" XO: Henry
All of these ideas can easily be found on Pinterest.

The kids looked super cute the morning of their class parities. Forrest followed us outside and insisted that he be in each picture. His pajamas coordinated nicely, don't you think?

Observing my level of stress, Andrew offered to help Henry with his Valentine's box. It's a green lego. Henry was so proud; especially of the way his box opened. 
The week of Valentines, Lottie's class was learning about the post office and mailmen. I thought their valentine envelopes were pretty cute. A real mailman came and picked up valentines that the kids mailed from preschool to their loved ones. 
While the kids were busy enjoying their school parties, Forrest and I were invited on a play date! Maren invited some friends over to decorate cupcakes. The kids were so adorable. Forrest felt very special at his "prayed boot" - that's Forrest speak for "play group"

Being involved with school and young women's, I have days where I feel a need to "prove" myself as a Mom so I decide that making Valentine cookies with my kids, as an example, is a good idea.
It was a two day affair. And even though I ate too many cookies myself, I'm glad we did it. Making cookies was fun but that's not what makes me a good mom. Having patience when an argument breaks out, really listening to my children when they are speaking to me and making sure my actions match my words in expressing how much I love them, is what makes me a good mom. I fall short all the time, but I'm trying.

Contradicting everything I just typed, look at the cute Valentine I gave my kids...
I enjoy holidays - mostly - and enjoy buying myself flowers. The kids opened up valentine beanie boos to add to their "meager" (ha ha) collection.
It was adorable watching the four of them play with each other and their beanie boos Sunday morning.
As for my official Valentine, Andrew J. Flegal, he and I have a special (week!) long date next month. We decided to celebrate Valentines day (and our anniversary, birthdays, Christmas, etc) on our trip! I can hardly wait. I sure love him.

Here are a few videos of our Valentine happenings.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Chinese New Year: The Year of the Crazy Mom

I noted on instagram last week that the best part of the super bowl were the snuggles I received from Lottie. As I've observed before, she is the most affectionate of my children. It's not that the others don't like to cuddle, because they do, but she is always looking for ways to initiate cuddle time with Mom. I love that about her.
So we cuddle, and take selfies.

The next day, she came home from preschool not feeling well.
(please note: the 'Beanie Boos' next to Lottie are all Forrest's.
He placed them beside her to offer comfort. So sweet.)

Lottie had a fever for three days straight. At one point, I was convinced she had strep throat. She hadn't developed a cough or other cold-like symptoms. So I took her to the doctor's office. She was our first "sick child" appointment of 2016. So of course, because I took her in, she did not have strep. The next day, she woke up fever free. And thankfully, the other children have stayed well.

Her illness reminded me of a few things. My mom instinct is faulty at times. I am okay with this; especially since I was happy that the strep germ wasn't alive and well at our house. In fact, since Eliza had her tonsils removed in 2013, we have not had strep at our house! The other thing Lottie's illness reminded me is that I still suffer from bouts of crazy.

The second night of her fever, she woke up asking for more Tylenol. It was 3:12 a.m. I remember the exact time because after I tucked her back in bed, I could not fall back asleep. It was terrible. Here's why: I had school obligations weighing on my mind. Valentine's Day was quickly approaching and I had not done a thing to help my children with their school preparations. I was having cell phone drama. I had a young women's activity coming up that day (!!!!!!). I knew that with a sick child, I would not be able to run errands. In fact, I tried going the amazon prime route but because I was so off my game, nothing I needed would have arrived in time for their Valentine class parties.

So instead of going back to sleep, I let my stress stew in my brain. Finally, at 5:00 am, I decided that if I was going to be awake, I was going to start checking things off my list. I took a quick shower and went grocery shopping while Andrew and the kids slept. I was exhausted, my hair was still damp... I'm surprised I didn't end up with pneumonia and it was cold outside. But I got somethings done which helped a lot. Andrew was also working from home so he was able to help out in different ways.

Tuesday morning, February 9, the kids were just about ready for school when Eliza gasped,

"It's the last day of Chinese New Year! And we're supposed to dress up!" Darting upstairs, we started going through their collection of clothes from Nanna Teresa. Nanna has been collecting things for them for awhile now! In fact, she went to China last fall and came home with some very fun treasures. Quickly, the kids changed clothes and kindly allowed their Mom to take a few pictures.

Here's what's funny. After sharing some of these photos on social media, a few friends of mine said they had no idea the kids were supposed to dress up. It turns out that it was just Eliza's teacher who had made this request. We both assumed that it was a school wide thing, so Eliza and I encouraged Henry to dress up too. It turns out, he was the only one in his class that dressed up. He was a pretty good sport about it and I got some darling pictures, so I'm happy!

At parent teacher conference, Eliza's Chinese teacher asked her to recite a Chinese myth. It was so neat watching her tell this story in Chinese. After bribing her to the max, (a five minute back scratch from Mom), she agreed to tell me the story on camera. Here's a link to that video.

Eliza meets Bishnu again

Having opened the garage door, it seemed that an evening storm was imminent. I finish buckling in Forrest and then climb into my own seat. Looking in my rear view mirror, I ask the other children, 

"Is everyone buckled?" 

"Yes!" The reply in unison. Officially on our way, I think through the logistics of our evening. Dropping the children off at my parent's home, I'd take the car seats out of the sequoia and leave them on my parent's porch for Andrew. He would be picking the younger children up an hour or so later. Having come straight from church, I would help change them out of their dress clothes and into their pajamas. Eliza and I would hopefully have time for a quick bite to eat before we returned to the car and headed back the way we came and then on to Morgan county. 

Andrew had a stake meeting which is why he wasn't with us. I felt a mixture of sadness and gratitude over his evening commitment as it made our decision of who would get to take Eliza to see Bishnu an easy one. After receiving an 'out of the blue' invitation to deliver the funds she earned to Bishnu in person, I could tell that he would have liked to have been the one to take her. 

Following my GPS, I am relieved when we pull onto the quiet lane where Bishnu and his wife were having dinner. Because I don't fully trust my GPS, I had given us extra time in case we needed to back track a little. As we get closer to the house, we notice a long line of cars. This surprises me as I had expected this to be a small gathering. After finding a spot to park, Eliza and I link arms as we walk toward the charming front porch. It's quite cold and the ground is slippery in places. She doesn't seem to mind. I can tell she is excited. 

Our dear friend Nancy opens the door to greet us. To the left of the entry way is a formal living room where Bishnu and his wife are standing, waiting to greet us. Bishnu walks straight toward Eliza and gives her a great big hug. He is full of smiles and engages her directly as he begins asking her about how long its been since they first met. Nancy introduces us to Bishnu's wife and then we all sit down to visit. Down the hallway, in the great room of the home, a large gathering of people are having dinner. It was nice to be able to visit privately for a few minutes, away from the crowd. 

Eliza explains to Bishnu's wife that she sewed 35+ bears and then sold them to raise money for Nepal. She was clearly touched and delighted as Eliza shared her experience. When Eliza told them the final total of $530.00, his wife gasped aloud. Eliza then handed Bishnu the money she earned, along with a handwritten letter she'd written him last December. Again, she had not been expecting the opportunity of meeting him again in person.With a twinkle in his eye, Bishnu then asked,

"So, Eliza. What would you like me to do with this money you gave me?" Without missing a beat, Eliza enthusiastically replied,

"Send girls my age to school in Nepal!" And with that, the grown ups in the room all began to cheer! It was such an exciting moment. He and his wife talked through a few details before they promised that they would select girls her age, who were eligible and waiting for a scholarship, to benefit from her donation.

"Then," he assured her, "I will send you pictures of each of them so you can see who you helped." Wow! We chatted some more about Eliza's own experience in school. He asked her if she was a good student. I can't even begin to tell you how I just much I wanted to boast on her behalf, but I didn't.   

Nancy then took Eliza into the other room, with all of the people, and introduced her to them. She asked Eliza to describe her project to them. They had big smiles on their faces as she spoke. Nancy was emotional and sweet as she then implored them to find ways to help Nepal too. 

We then gathered for a few photos. As Eliza stood by Bishnu, he pulled her in for another hug. 

"I want another daughter, just like you!" He told her. This made her smile. It was his gracious wife who asked me to jump in the picture with them. I thought that was thoughtful of her. After that, we said our "Goodbyes." We had been invited to attend the fireside with them that night where Bishnu would be speaking. Because it was getting late and Eliza had school the next day, we politely declined. 

The snow began to fall as we walked back to our car. I was so uplifted by the exchange and think Eliza was too. What a remarkable payback. It is something I will never forget. I'm proud of my daughter and hope the flame that's been lit to give and help others continues to grow.
"I want another daughter, just like you!"

The following weekend, Andrew took Eliza skiing for her first time. She had an upcoming field trip with her school class and had great anxiety. The two of them spent a wonderful morning together. Her subsequent field trip was a likewise success. 

Someday, when we win the lottery, we will go skiing as a family. ;) Seriously though, it's an expensive endeavor! (and I would rather go to Disneyland!)

Monday, February 8, 2016

A Trip to the Zoo, Bubba's Birthday and Mom's next adventure

Reading blogs are so much fun when they begin with the (mis)adventure of a toddler. 
Forrest and his buddy thought it might be fun to go toilet papering the other day. 
After collecting the pile of toilet paper, I
 placed it in a clean garbage bag and put it next to the toilet. 
When my  kids protested having to pull it from the bag to use, 
I kindly reminded them that it was still unused 
and that each on of them did the same thing when they were little. :)

During the final week in January, we met Lottie's preschool class at the zoo for a field trip.  
We met up with some of her cutie pie friends and toured the zoo. 
I feel lucky because my kids have chosen great friends. 
As I visited with their Moms while cruising around the zoo, 
I couldn't help but hope that these friendships continue to grow! 
Forrest still brings up the fact that the train was closed during our visit.
 Another highlight, for Forrest, was watching the elephant go poop while standing close by. 
For me, I was much more impressed when the elephant painted a picture with his trunk! 
I had never seen anything like that before. It was great. 
Many of the animals were alert and active. 
The sun was out which made the cold morning air easier to handle. 

The merry go round was definitely the highlight of their morning. 
I sure loved spending the morning with them at the zoo.
Here's a cute Octopus Lottie made it school. She brings home very cute  projects regularly. 
I need to be better about taking pictures and sharing them. 

Our sweet Bubba turned 70 years old at the end of January. 
We spent a wonderful evening celebrating him. 
After having dinner and having him open his gifts, the birthday party shifted into a (surprise) retirement party. Past employees that worked with him at his foot and ankle clinic began showing up. 
He was definitely surprised. It was a very fun night. 
Happy birthday Bubba! 
We love you!!
Some of his grandkids... :) 
Because I'm obnoxious, I took a video of some of our family asking them why they love Bubba. 
Andrew, in the video, is clearly annoyed that I am pointing a camera in his face.
I'm sure he wasn't the only one. 
BUT! Future Ali would like me to know how much our future family members appreciate the time I spent recording family events. 
The other morning, I was taking Eliza to school extra early for choir practice. 
The sunrise was so beautiful but what you can't see, it that is was snowing hard too.
The combination of the sunlight with the snowflakes looked so beautiful. 
I wish that I had been able to capture it.

(birthday flowers for a new beehive)

In other news, a little over a week ago, I was called to serve 
in the young women's program as the second councilor.
I am thrilled. 
I am excited.
I am intimidated. 
I have never served in young women's before. 

I'm super comfortable in primary 
and love the sisters in relief society so much. 
I can't wait to get to know the young women better
but hope the bonding process goes smooth. 
Sometimes, I try to hard when I want someone to like me.
I end up talking too much in an attempt to be funny.
So, as I've thought it about,
I think it's best if I talk less and listen more.    

Combining my new calling with school is a little overwhelming. 
We'll see how it goes. I'm committed to this semester so it should be interesting
(or scary) to see how well I manage everything. 

Speaking of school, I recently participated in a group project. 
And for the record, "group projects" with online classmates 
is as inconvenient and frustrating as can be expected.
The high point of the project was involving my kids. 
I'm in a theatre arts class and we were encouraged to make our presentations
"theatrical" ... so my first thought was to use them!
This video that I shared with my class was only one part of my contribution, 
but the feedback from it was awesome; especially from my teacher. 
It was quite rewarding.
So if anyone is interested in learning about the four configurations of theatre, 
take a look! 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Boys Club

I concluded my previous post by declaring that all was well and lovely in the land of Motherhood. I spoke of parental bliss and of the need to cherish memories. Feeling uplifted, I made a point to skip past my usual disclaimer of saying "motherhood is great...but it's such a challenge." 

And it came to pass... that the morning after I published that post, Forrest quietly crept into Lottie's bedroom, found her makeup kit and gave himself a stunning makeover.  
That my friends, is nail polish.
Not only was it all over his fingers and face,
it also was all over Lottie's carpet. 
Thanks to youtube, I was able to pull it out of the carpet myself. 
I'm pretty sure Moms deserve merit badges when they accomplish things like that. 
Oh my gosh, I am laughing just thinking about how cool that would be. 
I can see it now:

"Why yes, Virginia. I earned this badge the day that Henry shoved a popcorn kernel up his nose.
And this badge is from the time he swallowed a coin and I took him to Primary Children's for an xray."

(both true stories)

Moving on. January has come and gone. I was anticipating a monster storm of sickness to hit because that's what usually happens in January. Eliza had a small cold, but other than that we made it through unscathed. We have had some beautiful snow storms. In fact, right now as I type, it is snowing outside. Because my day to day routine does not require that I travel on snowy roads, I will tell you that I have welcomed each of these storms with enthusiasm. If it is going to be cold outside, it might as well look beautiful. And snow is beautiful.
January did have its emotional ups and downs. The highlights include a visit from Michael Auras, our beloved brother from Germany. He has made several appearance on this blog so his name should be familiar. In fact, we were living next door to him in Germany when I first started blogging. He came to Utah and invited us to the Provo City Center temple open house. We were happy that Bubba and Nanna Teresa came too. It was a special morning. This is the third temple open house that I have been able to attend with our children. The other two were the Brigham City temple open house (I found out I was pregnant with Forrest that morning) and the Ogden temple open house.

It was beautiful. I loved watching my children's faces as they took in its majesty.

Eliza's not looking at the camera,
Henry is yawning
and Forrest is about to blink. 
Even so, I LOVE this picture.
My favorite moment was when the tour completed and we were led to a room with a statue of Jesus Christ.
Forrest stared up at Him and said, "Jesus!" over and over. 
It really touched me. 

After our visit to the temple, we stopped by Krispy Kreme donuts and then went to Costco for lunch. Clearly, we were trying to "Wow!"our foreign guest. I think he was impressed with the low price of the hot dog and drink and likewise amazed by the warehouse. They don't have Costco in Germany. I'm super glad we could provide him with that experience. ;) 

That afternoon, the boys, Michael included, went to Monster Jam downtown. This was another big first for Michael. Bubba, Uncle Brent and cousin James also came. They had a great time.  
The video I'm about to plug sincerely is entertaining. Forrest asks to watch it all the time.