Thursday, December 31, 2009
This year has been challenging yet rewarding, sad yet joyful, full of struggles yet so full of accomplishments.
We've grown as a family and learned to adapt to our fourth and much loved member, our baby girl. Her rapid changes kept us constantly amazed as she went from a sleeping 6 week old to a walking, talking 13 month old. Brendan's third birthday brought with it a new personality which has been labeled the "horrible threes." We love him dearly and he's a lover at heart. But he challenges his boundaries and tests his independence every chance he gets. He knows his ABCs, counts to 10, uses his manners, hugs his mommy at least 5 times a day, and loves to help in the kitchen (it's no wonder Santa brought him his very own measuring cups and spoons in his stocking this year!)
Joe has stayed busy with work. Even busier since this fall brought an unexpected round of lay-offs that was hard on the entire firm. His work ethic continues to amaze me. The time and effort he puts into the work he does is extraordinary and I feel truly blessed that he works so hard to support us. His second job, the army national guard, on the other hand, has taken away much more time than I'd ever like to accept. One weekend a month, two weeks a year is a load of crap. He spent 6 weekends in a row early this year doing one army function or another which, combined with his civilian job, resulted in 40+ work days in a row and included missing Valentine's Day and my birthday. His commitment is up in July and I'm pushing for his discharge. A decision to make it a career would mean more birthdays missed, more time away and an almost definite one year deployment in the fall. I pray that God will make his plan known in these next few months and that we will all be filled with peace as the final decision is made.
I continue to work part time at the local hospital in labor and delivery and enjoy the flexibility of keeping up my skills but only working a few shifts per month. I've been staying busy mostly being a mom and wife. It's my favorite job in the world despite it's struggles and emotional upheaval. There's nothing like feeling called to provide for your spouse and children and serving them out of love. But I'd be crazy to say that I feel that way all the time (or even a majority of the time) which is how I've come to my own personal goals for the year to come...
-I want to spend more quality time with my children and less time on the computer (at least while they're awake...)
-I want to keep my patience in check, praying for guidance when I need it, rather than yelling at my children and feeling shameful at the looks of fear staring back at me...
-I want to give more of my time helping those less fortunate than myself and stop dwelling on the material things I want...
-I want to serve my husband and children out of love and respect instead of a feeling of obligation...
-I want to be a good example to my children and for them to have fond memories of the things we do together...
And if making small steps in these few simple goals is all I get out of 2010 then I'll still be satisfied.
Here's to a new and adventurous year ahead!
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
And in the true meaning of Christmas, I have to post that we are teaching our children about the birth of Jesus Christ and the reason we celebrate this beautiful holiday. But in the logic of a 3-year-old (and the humor of my life) I must also admit that my son believed that Jesus would want a train-shaped birthday cake. I responded with a gentle "I'm not sure that's what Jesus would want" to which Joe replied "you never know... he may just be thinking... 'if only I were born 2000 years later... then I could have had a train birthday cake...'"
Monday, December 28, 2009
Friday, December 25, 2009
Such a sweet little girl. My mom made matching Christmas jumpers for Aubrey and my sister's daughter Molly. Bound to be an heirloom... my wonderfully talented mama! But the true amazement this Christmas day was watching this sweet girl take her first good 10 steps! Merry Christmas mommy and daddy!!
Monday, December 21, 2009
In an attempt to archive the busyness that was the month of December, I decided to start with our first family celebration.
On Saturday December 19th, we packed the kids up and drove to Portland to spend some family time with the Bessmans. Joe's brother and sister-in-law had flown in from South Carolina with their 5 kids and it was a perfect opportunity to see them all and catch up with the family. We were also fortunate enough to be in town for the Barsness (Joe's cousin) family Christmas party. And so I took the opportunity to gather the family for a portrait as I sadly believe that someone will have to die or get married for us all to be together again.
This photo includes my mother and father-in-law, their 6 children (one of whom happens to be the best husband in the world), 4 spouses, 2 girlfriends, and 10 grandchildren with two more on the way (an uncle and two cousins thrown into the mix for fun!)
If you could see more closely you'd notice the look of exhaustion (through the smile) on my face. I had worked a 12 hour night shift the night before. Came home at 7:45, jumped in the shower then straight into the truck for the drive to Portland. Slept fitfully for an hour or so on the way and functioned rather well on so little sleep!
Monday, November 30, 2009
Brendan's history with Santa is tearful to say the least. His first, he was 6 months old and looked rather suspicious as I left him in the strange man's arms. His second, he was 18 months old and screamed bloody murder (made for a memorable picture!) until his cousins agreed to join him on the jolly man's lap and bribed him with a candy cane (second picture resulted in a half smile with obviously evident tear tracks lining his face.) Needless to say, we chose not to humiliate him with such torture last year and skipped the Santa picture altogether. So when he expressed excitement this year we held our breath with skepticism. "I want to see Santa so I can tell him I want cars!" he told us. "I'll tell him I've been a good boy too!" When I asked if he could tell Santa what Aubrey wanted he explained "yup... I'll tell Santa that I've been a big boy and Aubrey's been a big baby..." I know it sounded like a good thing in his mind :)
We entered Santa's Village and he clutched my hand. I could tell that Santa seemed much more intimidating in person to my brave little man. I promised him that Aubrey would join him and that mommy and daddy would be just a few short feet away. The tears welled up... I feared a major meltdown then spied the basket of candy canes. "You can have one of these, buddy, if you climb up there with Aubrey and tell Santa what you want!" (I am NOT above bribery... who's to say we can't reward our children for doing what we want them to do?!) And so he slowly warmed up. And while Santa didn't reach his friendly "let me tell you about all my cars and trucks and everything I did last week and my friends and my sister..." status, he got a shy, whispered wish for a few simple gifts. And that was enough for me.
Aubrey, on the other hand, would have gladly taken up permanent residence on sweet Santa's lap. She couldn't stop staring and smiled with excitement. It was out of annoyance in a "hey... I'm checking this man out" sort of way that we finally got her to look at the camera.
But despite the near anxiety attack, Brendan can't stop talking about Santa and wondering if he'll be bringing the gifts on his list... oh how I love the sweet innocence of childhood...
Saturday, November 28, 2009
She's so close to walking, tests her bravery by letting go and standing all by herself. Gave up baby food for real food and has gotten pickier in her choices. Gave up nursing (I cried then too) and is transitioning from a bottle to a sippy cup. Loves her daddy, her dollies, her teddy and her lovey and terrorizes her brother whenever she gets the chance. Taught herself how to climb the stairs and moves even faster when she hears me coming to get her. Her vocabulary includes "mama, daddy, baby, no no, bye bye, whoa, uh oh, go, hi, and Aubrey." Her seventh tooth has made its appearance and we're anticipating the 8th anyday. She's fiesty but sweet, stubborn but loving.
I love you sweet girl, you're everything I ever wanted in a daughter and you capture my heart every chance you get. You are my sunshine, the light of my life and you'll always be my baby...
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
The girl was a party animal. While the older kids played, the adults socialized and mommy proceeded to fill the house with smoke (who knew that a Costco take-n-bake pizza would cause so much frustration?!?) she managed to find the stack of presents and took it upon herself to begin the opening process. And so the real party began. Of course she had "helpers" (her brother and her boyfriend :) who not only "helped" open the presents, but "helped" show her how to play with her new toys. Then while mommy salvaged the edible parts of two badly burned pizzas (and Daddy quickly ran to Costco for an emergency pre-baked version) she found the most joy in all the wrapping paper and ribbon.
She donned the princess birthday hat and beads for a quick rendition of "Happy Birthday" and ceremoniously stuck her tiny fingers into the frosting. Screamed when Mommy took the entire cake away to cut her a piece and devoured her own serving in 60 seconds flat. The double coconut cake with creamy coconut frosting seemed to be a hit.
After all was said and done, she was out like a light, and her brother(s) had a tea party in her honor with her very own new tea set... This family knows how to party...
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
It only takes seconds for chaos to surround me when I'm with my children, especially when it involves the grocery store. Ten steps in the door and Aubrey is screaming out of frustration as she realizes I've strapped her tightly into the cart (picture if you will a sweet baby girl standing backwards in the cart seat as if she's contemplating diving into the back and you have a mommy who will let her child ride strapless no more!) I detour to the book aisle hoping to find something to distract her and succeed with a small children's book. To which Brendan softly whines "what about me?!" which results in a U-turn BACK to the book aisle for yet another book. But the entertainment is short lived as Aubrey decides the book is better suited for the pickup game and proceeds to throw it on the floor. After several attempts to keep it in the cart, I give up and shove the book onto a shelf of ketchup pickles and olives (no chance I'm traveling all the way back to the book aisle at this point!) I navigate the aisles quickly with several angry glances from the occasional senior citizen whose hearing aids, no doubt, are chirping to the sound of my daughter's shrill screeching. I hand her my car keys, desperate for a reprieve. One swift toss to the ground and my mind is set on finishing quickly and getting out of the store. I pick up the keys and set them next to her in the cart. Quick trip through the produce aisles and on to the self checkout. "Mommy, this isn't closed all the way..." I look down to find Brendan covered in curry powder as he squeezes the small plastic bag I had collected it in. It's the least of my worries that my son now smells like Indian cuisine. I'm focused on getting us out the door. Bags packed, kids intact, grab the receipt and we're on our way. The convenience of the Starbucks strategically placed outside the exit decreases my anxiety level as I treat myself to a coffee and a scone. And here's where the real fun begins. I place the coffee on the rear bumper of the van as I search frantically for those entertaining car keys. Pockets? Nope... Shopping cart? Nada... Purse? oh dear... I double check them all to no avail.
Leave the coffee on the bumper, toss Brendan back in the cart and push the full cart (as fast as possible while loaded with groceries and two children) back into the store to retrace our steps. One trip in reverse and a stop by customer service and still no keys ("can you describe them for me?" the lady asks... "seriously?!! they're car keys!! what do you THINK they look like?!") Aubrey has found a stray banana from a shopping bag and is proceeding to eat it from the inside out. As my frustration turns into panic I reach into my pocket for my cell phone, planning to call my husband hysterically. As if things could get any worse, I realize my cell phone is sitting conveniently next to the telephone at home! Two more trips to retrace our steps with a few strange looks (after all, my son is singing to himself, my daughter is chewing on a banana peel and I just look lost!) I gather my wits and realize that Aubrey would be better off if I OPENED the banana so she could eat the fruit instead of the peel. She takes a large bite, chews, and spits the mushy pulp out into my hand. When I refuse to let her RE-eat the regurgitated fruit, she lets out a scream that flies through the store taking my sanity with it. Fifteen minutes later I resign myself and return to the customer service desk to ask for a phone to call for help. The lady smiles as I ask for a phone. "I have your keys" she says "didn't you hear me page you?" ("yes, I heard you page me but decided instead to search frantically through the store losing my sanity in the process... and I thought I'd call my husband just to let him know that you FOUND MY KEYS!") No, I smiled politely and thanked her profusely. FINALLY, out the door and back to the van. Two cranky kids in their seats, warm coffee in hand, naptime quickly approaching.
Moral of the story? Absolutely, under NO circumstances is it EVER necessary to go grocery shopping immediately before naptime! (oh yeah, and car keys are NOT to be used as a baby toy!)
Monday, November 9, 2009
Monday, November 2, 2009
But as if the bag wasn't enough of a challenge, I also decided to finish a blanket that I had been wanting to make for Aubrey and finally found the perfect combination of fabrics. Pink and brown flannels mixed with a heart-embroidered ultra soft pink "minkie" fabric (which also lines the back.) Cut out the fabric on Monday and put in the finishing stitches Friday night. The finished product is actually about 40x48 inches but I folded it up for picture taking purposes.
But true to my antics of motherhood, this trip was not without slight misadventure. It was understandable that Brendan would believe that the sole purpose of everyone seated in this large open room was to smile, coddle and adore him and then gladly hand him candy. However, in a room of 50 residents or more, there were only a select few who actually had anything to give. It took a few tries to remind Brendan that instead of greeting with "trick-or-treat" it would be better to just say "Happy Halloween" so as not to make them feel as if they were required to hand over whatever they could find. But as Joe praised him for his renewed sense of extroversion, he slipped and tossed out a "trick-or-treat" to a kindly woman who had nothing but the dinner on her plate. In a matter of seconds she reached out her grilled cheese sandwich and Brendan gladly took a big bite. My 3-year-old food critic who denies almost everything his MOTHER puts on his plate, gladly took a mystery bite from a lady he's never met. It was when we got home and Joe stated "all I could think was 'I hope her medication wasn't in that sandwich'" that I was glad the debacle hadn't unfolded in front of me. Motherhood at it's best...
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Needless to say, this does NOT fit on the stroller and has been retro-fitted to be "worn" by an unnamed parent (my vote is for the one who ignored the suggestions to make it smaller and more easily manageable...)
(I'm going to have to lock it up or the man will keep "adding on" and we'll never get it out of the house... my husband the perfectionist...)
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
I contemplated posting the hilarious picture that I took but decided against it after remembering the recent media events that landed an Arizona couple in the middle of a lawsuit for bathtub pictures that were taken of their children. But picture it if you will, our two toddler boys naked as a jaybird, not thinking twice about it... hilarious!
The process has started. This sweet baby girl will soon no longer need her mommy as a source of nutrition. It's been a mutual decision. She doesn't like to sit still to nurse and I'd gladly like my body back. But it's a bittersweet moment as I realize that a part of me will be longing for the time we got to share together.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Needless to say, his very proud daddy has framed this work of art to hang in his office where he can see it every day.