Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sappy and Happy! (but mostly sappy)

Two weeks ago, Andrew and I attended the, "It's Great to be Eight!" fireside with Henry. You'll be shocked to know that I was all kinds of teary throughout the presentation. Having watched two children prepare for baptism, I have to say that eight really is the proper age for this big milestone. My experience is limited to my own children, but I do observe their friends and church peers. I find that these sweet seven year old children are full of faith and excitement. They are old enough to understand the message of baptism and what it means to enter into a covenant with Heavenly Father. Each child is different, and I fully support the need for a child to come to this decision on their own; but I wanted to throw it out there that I have a testimony that the Lord, in all His wisdom, designated this special window of time to welcome these children into His true church.

Henry is my light! He is such a joy to me. His laughter fills our home. If there is an outburst of giggles in the car, at the dinner table or during an evening prayer (gasp!), Henry is one of the two children involved. He has a sensitive heart. He feels things deeply. One of my favorite things about him is he hardly complains. When I tell him it's time to do homework, I hear a cheery, "Okay, Mom!" It's such a gift. This is just how he is. Sometimes he grows distracted or forgetful (space cadet). But his heart is usually in the right place.I love him. And as we sat with him and watched the presentation, the Holy Ghost let that love encompass me fully. I so am grateful for this child and love that I get to be his Mom.
Henry, being Henry, at the dinner table.
Forrest wasn't super interested in eating his dinner, 
but he sure loved driving his trucks through it!

Cutie pie Lottie got to be the shepherd of her class lamb for a few days.
I was worried that I might have spoiled that special experience as
I gave into her birthday wish and bought her the exact same lamb.
Thankfully, it did not. 
She still thought it was fantastic to have 
her preschool's little lamb. 
Lottie definitely spoiled her while she was in her care.
My snow bunnies.
Aren't they cute?

We had a five day weekend recently.
And I felt bad, at first, that we didn't go on an adventure anywhere. 
But then I realized that all they need is their own backyard and each other.

Tonight I said to Andrew,
"These kids are crazy! ... but I'm so glad they are friends!"

I take that back actually.
The girls and I did go on an adventure last weekend.
We enjoyed a "girls day out" with my Mom, sister, and nieces. 

Celebrating my Mom's birthday, 
we went to the California Pizza Kitchen for lunch
and then the American Girl doll store!!
And surprise!
I made a video of our day out!
Click Here to see it.
You guys. 
I seriously love my Mom so much. 
I hated living far away from her and the rest of our family.
It was the pits.

It's strange to think about that now because I really loved being in South Carolina; 
and I still miss being there sometimes. 
Does that make sense? 

Anyway, I love my Mom and I love spending time with her.
This particular outing was very fun. 
Lottie was thrilled to be included.
Although she was good to remind me that she is still only five. 
The shopping mall proved to be a little overwhelming 
as she saw so many treasures!! 
Me and my dolly. 
I love her so.

Following those discoveries, was disappointment... 
as her Mom would not buy her all the wonderful things she saw! 

Eliza's doll Grace, however, received the full treatment! 
We took her to the American Girl doll store to have her hair fixed up.  
The process was darling. 
Here is Grace's before picture. 
And here she is "after" :) 
As for those boys back home,
They did a little four wheeling in the neighbor's field and ended up stuck.
Andrew would be embarrassed if he knew I shared that
but again, acting on my suspicion that he has quit this blog,
I thought I'd throw that tidbit in. 

Forrest thought it was awesome because it required 
the use of our neighbor's tractor to get them out!
When we got home, Andrew was making homemade cookies as a "thank you" 
to give to those who rescued him!

The boys also had a day out of their own. 
But that happened yesterday. 
It's a post that will be shared, sooner than later... I hope!

And finally, here are my youngest babies. 
We were invited on a special lunch date last week.
Forrest did a good job cleaning up his spaghetti!
(To be fair, a lot of it ended up on the floor.)

I like this picture of Forrest by this tractor because I had a realization that same day that I took it. 
He won't be my sidekick forever. 
Pretty soon, he'll betray me like the others all did and grow up! 
(SOB!)
So rather than driving by the tractor in the parking lot, 
I got him out of the car to have a proper look.
I am making more of an effort to make these memories with him right now. 
We even went to our neighborhood playgroup last week. 
It was so interesting to watch him in that setting.
He's so much more reserved then when he is the "boss man" at home.

He may not remember these days the same way that I will,
so I will claim these memories for myself.
I have memories of my other two year olds tucked safely away.
And I cherish them. 
Motherhood is so wonderful. 
(I won't even add in the part where I say that it's challenging too...
because right now I just feel thankful. 
Which is code for: they are all asleep!)

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

New Year, Big Changes

Happy New Year friends!

I have to scrap the part where I reflect on the highlights from 2015 and wax poetic over my hopes and dreams for the upcoming year because I am in survival mode, friends! And here's why: 

I went back to school to finish my bachelor's degree! Tis true, I have not graduated. And I made peace with that fact years ago. We joke that Eliza showed up "four years early" which changed our plan entirely as I quit my ultra cool job and dropped out of school to become a stay at home Mom. We trusted in Heavenly Father's plan for our family as we continued to welcome more Fleglets to our nest even though we were poor, Andrew was still in school, etc. Looking back, I feel certain that Andrew and I have been on the correct path all these years as I take note of the many ways our family has been blessed. Please know that I recognize that every family's path is unique. I respect that 100% and just hope that people offer me that same respect in return.  

This past fall I felt an inkling that it might be time that I check out my schooling options. I did my"homework" (HA!) as I checked out various opportunities before praying about it. I talked with Andrew and my Bishop and then prayed some more. Finally, I decided to return to BYU-Idaho to finish up. It's the place where my college career started (I've also attended BYU and the University of Utah) and it makes me happy to imagine that it will be the place where its completed. All of my schooling will be done online. I attend class in my family room. I study on my living room couch or in my bed (or sometimes in my car while I am on carpool duty). 

When I found out that BYU-Idaho would honor ALL of my previous college credit, even though it's been ten years, I knew I needed to proceed! I cried tears of joy when I learned that all of those hours I spent in school wouldn't be wasted. Even sweeter, all of my ugly classes are completed: math, science, history, english (I actually like history and english...) are done. I get to focus on parenting, theater arts and marriage and family courses. 

I've been in school for less than a week and I feel all the sensations of being a student again. My biggest fear is that I will miss an obvious piece of instruction or that I will experience technical difficulty with the online learning system. It wasn't as smooth of a transition as I hoped (read: one of my professors missed the first day of class thinking school started the following week) and there have been some some learning curves, but I think I am now on my way. I am absolutely loving the reading material I've been assigned. Interacting with my classmates online has also been a thrill for me. I feel like I am reconnecting with apart of my personality that I haven't seen in years. Being a student, working hard and earning an A is a fantastic feeling; but with that comes a heavy reading load and the need to be very wise in how I organize and spend my time.  

I don't think it's interfered with my life as a Mom because I've been pretty careful not to let it. Ask me again how that's going next month. I have had to sacrifice some of my time surfing the internet and engaging in social media... and that's clearly a good thing. I hope my enthusiasm continues... please wish me luck. My biggest fear is that I will neglect the blog. So many good Mom things are still happening and I don't want to neglect writing them down. This blog is a huge treasure in my life. So if there are posts without pictures, that's okay. At least that's what I will tell myself because I want the memories recorded with or without the pictures. 

That sums up things for now... and to wrap things up, here are a few pictures from Christmas break for your viewing pleasure.  

Ice Skating with Cousins:
Sled rides in the neighbor's field:


 Ringing in the new year with a Netflix inspired countdown and the minion movie. At 9:00 pm. we banged our pots and pans and shouted "Happy New Year!" outside. Andrew and I stayed up with a determined Eliza. It was a good thing because our neighborhood faithfully lights fireworks. The show is always excellent. Andrew had to attend a stake dance up at Weber University for his new church calling. He was home by ten. :)
 
 My crazy weirdos. 
 Lottie and Forrest before a dance lesson.
 Lottie was kind enough to give Forrest a makeover when her friend was playing at our house. Silly, silly!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Christmas Day 2015, Let Us Reminisce

Christmas morning Eliza, Henry and Lottie danced into our bedroom at 7:45. Checking my phone, I thought,

"They are right on time." :) I wasn't surprised to see them when we did as they have a history of respecting our decision on when they can make their Christmas morning appearance. I was out of bed quicker than Andrew as I had a casserole to put in the oven and other mom related preparations that need to be completed before we could proceed with our Christmas morning fun! While brushing my teeth, for example, I reminded myself to soak in the moment. Weeks of excitement and anticipation had led up to this moment. Stare at their faces, amp up their excitement and relish their joy. It's okay if I sound over dramatic because I'm talking about Christmas morning with four little Fleglets, right?
From the stairs they were able to sneak a peek at their gifts and stockings. While doing just that, Lottie spotted a new beanie boo that was next to her stocking. Rather than squeals of delights, she found me in the bathroom and began to cry about how it wasn't the exact one she had hoped for. In Santa's defense...it was the exact one she had hoped for in October. She happened to change her mind in the days leading up to Christmas. Oh well! Rather than losing patience and offering a sermon on how she should be expressing gratitude rather than dismay, I told her to be patient. Maybe she could find space in her heart to love that particular beanie boo. I am pleased to report that they did bond instantly. Her tears were for naught and I am so thankful that I didn't let my feelings of frustration spoil our beautiful morning. #momwin
After taking several pictures, the children were allowed to look through their stockings. I sat back and watched as they enjoyed this moment together. Forrest was too distracted by a giant new tractor!
Oh, the fun that child is going to have with that tractor in our sandbox. Andrew pointed out that it can also be enjoyed in the snow. It hasn't left our family room yet, but I imagine that will happen sooner than later.
My children did not disappoint as they reacted in the best way possible to their gifts. It filled my heart with joy to watch. Santa was generous as he gifted them new Lego sets, American Girl type clothes and furniture, Bath and Body work goodies, Snap Circus sets, Nerf Guns, Magic Clip Princess dolls, a Star Lily Pony, magnatiles and more trains! Nearly two hours went by before they were through. The experience was drawn out a little due to a technical issue with the video camera. So there was a half time break in the middle of the excitement while we sorted out the issue. The children didn't mind. The grand finale came when the kids opened up their Lagoon Season passes. It was a gift from Andrew, me and Bubba and Nanna. So, if anyone wants to meet us at Lagoon this summer, please give me a shout!
"Lagoon!"

Christmas morning highlight video:
Breakfast was delicious. That was followed by a visit from my parents. They stopped by to see what the children received from Santa. I loved seeing them. The kids did too. After a well deserved nap, if I may be so bold, we made our way to Salt Lake to spend time with the Flegals.
(Driving to Nanna Teresa's...
You can tell which Fleglet had napped before we drove down to her house!)
Nanna was busy in the kitchen when we arrived. She prepared a glorious salmon and ham feast. Uncle Mike was in town from Georgia. The Jensens and Taylors were also there. We enjoyed our meal and then turned our attention to the nativity. The children dressed up and Aunt Sara read the narrative. My favorite moment, possibly of the entire day, was when Forrest agreed to dress up as a lamb for the play. He was so adorable. I could barely stand it. To my great happiness and delight, he continued to wear it after the play was over.

A video of the nativities can be seen here:
That night the kids had a sleepover with their cousins. Breakfast the next day was delicious. The whole stay at Nanna's was dreamy. We left feeling both spoiled and incredibly thankful to enjoy our family as much as we do.
Re-reading these passages, its clear that we are blessed beyond what we deserve. Even so, we often hit bumps on life's daily path. I assure you that is true. We succumb to illness and injury. At times we struggle with contention and find ourselves in need of making things right as we forgive one another and repent. Parenting regularly brings stressful concerns into the forefront of lives and fear as we question whether or not we are making correct choices. Life isn't always rosy and pretty. And I would be naive to believe that our family is exempt from bigger challenges in the future. The point I would like to make is that when I take time write and record our family memories, I intentionally choose to focus on blessings, moments of joy and the triumph that comes after overcoming something hard. When I practice optimism in my blog posts, I tend to be more of an optimist in my day to day life.
The same is true regarding my testimony. When I share it in this space, it grows. So forgive me as I shift directions. Our life has challenges, but the blessings feel bigger. These blessings are generous gifts bestowed by a loving Heavenly Father. I testify that His greatest gift is our Savior, Jesus Christ. He was born in Bethlehem, in the most humble of circumstance to a courageous and virtuous mother. I admire Mary and marvel and wonder at how it must have been to raise and nurture the Savior of mankind. Likewise, I admire Joseph as he made the choice to stand by, support and protect her and God's holy Son. I am grateful for the accounts in the scriptures that offer insight into Jesus Christ's developing years. I am thankful for His life and ministry. As I have begun to teach my children about the blessing of the atonement and how we can utilize it in our lives, I feel truth. I may not understand the dynamics perfectly, but the pieces of truth I can share are a blessing. Parenting is hard. Have I mentioned that recently? The world is a wicked place and our children have fears and difficult questions. It would both surprise and break your heart to know some of the things my kid's have asked. I'm grateful for my testimony, as imperfect as it is, because I can provide them answers in these moments. I'm also thankful for the reassurance I feel from the Holy Ghost when I'm saying something right.

Christmas really can be the best time of the year when our attention is centered on the Christ child. That love that binds Him to us is that same feeling that we ought to cultivate within our families and other relationships. I'm thankful for Him, for the plan of salvation that provides a way for this family of ours to be together eternally. Our journey isn't one of perfection. In fact, I've yelled at my kids a few times while typing these paragraphs of testimony... so there's that. As I was saying, our journey isn't one of perfection but I'm thankful every day that I get to travel it with my beloved family.