Thursday, December 31, 2009


As the year comes to an end I am always forced to look back on the ups and downs of the past 12 months and wonder what is to come in the months ahead. I've never made resolutions. I could never see the point in making grand challenges that would never be met only to leave me feeling like I failed.

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

Christmas #3 (Christmas at Home)

Brendan was thrilled to learn that Santa had stopped at our house in Bend even though we hadn't been home. I told him I made a specical call to let Santa know that we would be in California but that our stockings and REAL Christmas tree were at our home in Bend. Brendan replied by asking "whose phone did you use?" :) So his behavior during our 8-hour drive home from Grass Valley was phenomenal as he anticipated yet another Christmas celebration.

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

Christmas #2 (Christmas in California)

We left snowy Bend for a long drive to Grass Valley, California to spend Christmas weekend with my family. Truly the best gift my mom and stepdad could have asked for, having all the kids and grandkids home for the holidays. It was sunny and 60 degrees, no white Christmas for us this year. But such a blessing to spend it surrounded by so much love!

Finally a picture of all six grandkids. Brendan (3) and my sister's son, Josh (6) at the top, my sister's daughter Shawna (12) in the middle and the three one-year-olds in the front, my sister's daughter Molly (21 months), Aubrey (13 months), and my brother's son Sevvy (17 months.)

And truly a blessing to get this priceless picture. These two are so filled with love for their grandkids, it's amazing to witness. Christmas was a blast this year and so much fun to be with my family. But in an effort to start our own family traditions, we made the decision that this will be the last winter holiday season we spend traveling. Next year will be the beginning of a new Bessman family adventure...

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Cutie

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!!
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Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas #1 (Christmas in Portland)

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!
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Monday, November 30, 2009

Sitting With Santa

This was the best we could get, forget the smiles, at least they're both looking at the camera.

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...

Aubrey: One Month at a Time


1 month

2 months

3 months

4 months

5 months

6 months

7 months

8 months

9 months

10 months

11 months

One Year Old

Saturday, November 28, 2009

One Year Old

She woke up this morning with a smile on her face. And as I began reliving the day she came into this world, exactly one year ago, and softly sang Happy Birthday to my beautiful baby, the tears fell as I realized how fast it all flew by. Before I know it she'll be walking, talking, going to school, riding a bike, dating, driving a car, leaving home... I was overwhelmed with sadness.

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

Snow Day

A little late in being posted, we had about 3 inches of snowfall last Saturday night. Our friends from Portland had come to visit for Aubrey's birthday party and their kids were ecstatic to wake up to the fluffy white stuff. A few inches was more than enough to have a little fun, but a little too dry to roll into snowman parts. Give us some time, it's only November. It'll thaw out here sometime around April...

Monday, November 23, 2009

Baby Birthday Bash

Between our two children we have a near Father's Day birthday and a near Thanksgiving birthday. So inevitabley this means, if we want any guests at our parties, we have to plan accordingly. It was for this reason that we chose to have Aubrey's first birthday party a week in advance. Saturday we invited our firends and family to give this sweet girl the best birthday party ever. The tears are being reserved since, to me, it won't feel real until I relive the exact day that she came into this world.

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

Hair Cut

Way overdue, it had been over 6 months since I last had it cut and OH, it feels so good!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Losing My Keys and My Sanity

Question: who in their right mind would take a 3-year-old and an 11-month-old to the grocery store just 45 minutes before naptime? Answer: a crazy woman in desperate need of milk and bread to feed her family.

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

Just like a Girl

Does this mean she's destined to spend her life talking on the phone? I was cleaning the kitchen when I heard the recorded operator saying "if you'd like to make a call, please hang up..." and heard Aubrey replying with "hi... hi... hi" She had found the phone that I had apparently left sitting on one of the dining room chairs and was having the time of her life chatting with the operator. I contemplated letting her keep the phone since it was creating such entertainment. But I quickly remembered the time that Brendan was only a few months older when he dialed various random numbers which resulted in a 9-1-1 operator immediately calling back to verify that everything was all right. Talk about an embarrassing motherhood moment. So, much to her dismay, after I took the photo I had to take the phone away. Poor baby...

My helper

What? You mean, I'm not supposed to be IN the dishwasher?! Just trying to help, mama.

Monday, November 2, 2009


It seems as though every time I find myself with a little extra "time" on my hands (this means I have a long stretch off from work and I spend the evenings indulging in my hobbies...) I find a boundless amount of energy to do some of the things I enjoy. This past week I worked on sewing together the pieces I had cut out for this beautiful sling bag (which is functional as a purse/diaper bag) that I had been putting off for months. I learned some new things and was ultimately proud that I ended up with a finished product that didn't look like a novice had butchered it. But when my sweet husband kindly announced that it was almost as impressive as his cardboard fire truck I had to bite my tongue and tell him "yes dear... almost..." Complete with a gusseted bottom and pockets conveniently sized for bottles, diapers and wipes (oddly enough this pattern wasn't advertised as a diaper bag...) And large enough to hold an array of various other items.

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.


I won't deny that this wasn't my idea... although I wish I could take credit because it was truly one of the best ways to spend Halloween. My friend Tracey contacted a local retirement facility to ask about bringing in the kids in their costumes to visit the residents. So off we went, kids in costumes, to do some good old trick-or-treating. Only, when we got to the facility we realized that the extent of handing out candy consisted of a handful of residents faithfully seated at their respective tables in the dining hall who may or may not have random candy to shell out. My first response was a feeling of awkwardness. All eyes were on us as we paraded our kids around the room, table to table letting the residents shake hands, pinch cheeks and shed a tear or two as they cherished a short moment with the innocence of my sweet children. And it was then that the awkwardness turned into a sense of bittersweet sadness as I realized that we were providing them a cherished opportunity that would not be forgotten.

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...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Almost Perfect

When the idea came to me, I imagined something simple. Brendan could be a fireman, Aubrey a dalmation. How cute would it be to construct a simple fire engine fitted to the stroller? But this is what you get when you ask an engineer to do the job...

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...)

11 months

She's becoming her own little person. Less and less my snuggly little baby. I take joy in every chance I get to hold her, soothe her, rock her. And the chances are coming fewer and farther between. I hold her in my arms as she lays her head on my chest, arms clinging to me tightly, and it pulls at my heart knowing that these moments won't last forever.

And just to show how difficult it is to get her to sit for this picture these days, I decided to post the one that was taken just seconds after the first...
She's pulling herself to standing, feeding herself well, tries to comb her own hair, loves to play the "pickup" game (how many times can I throw this on the floor before mommy will stop picking it up for me?) gives hugs and kisses to her dolls and animals and loves her big brother like he's the best thing in the world. She calls the bottle "boob" but hey, it delivers the same results right? She waves and says bye bye and has taken to telling me "no-no." We're in for some adventurous toddler years...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

one of those days

My good friend Tracey, her son Kian and her newborn baby girl decided to stop by to let the boys have some good old play time. We've known for some time (the poop story will have to be documented at some point) that when these two are alone and quiet, something bad is going on. But this time there was no silence, we just couldn't see them. Brendan came running into the living room stark naked (who knew he could take his own clothes off??!) and upon further investigation I found Kian in the coat closet with nothing on but Brendan's fireman coat and boots. I couldn't stop laughing and grabbed the camera. This was the funny part... the not so funny part was the half gallon (or more) of carpet shampoo that they emptied onto the closet floor (and all over the toy basket.) So while Tracey laid a very hungry crying baby down and Aubrey proceeded to notice that everyone had left the room, I attempted to soak up the mess while she rinsed off the toys. I kept telling her that of all the things to dump on the carpet, (aside from water) carpet shampoo had to be the best.

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.
Another benefit? The bottle allows mommy to do a little multi-tasking. This picture was taken just before I jumped in the shower as she laid on my bathroom floor contentedly giving HERSELF the bottle!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pumpkin Patch

We ventured out yesterday to find the perfect pumpkins. Besides trying to keep Aubrey from climbing out of the wagon, we really had a great time and it was a beautiful day for pumpkin hunting.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Sunshine Smiles

Detroit Lake

Being the crazy people that we are, we decided to ignore the warning of possible mountain snow last weekend and head to Detroit Lake to get in one last camping trip before the season is over. Again, let me remind you that "camping" (especially with near freezing temps at night) means sleeping bags and makeshift beds in the comfort of my parents' fifth-wheel trailer. So we left Bend with sunny clear skies while Detroit Lake welcomed us with clouds and intermittent rain. But it didn't stop us from venturing out. The biggest surprise was coming home to an unexpected (and unforecast) 4 inches of snow!

Bath Buddies

I have to add honestly that Joe and I sat laughing hysterically as we plastered our children with foam numbers and letters. Afterall, children are God's gift as a source of entertainment right?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

10 months

Yesterday marked her 10 month birthday. She's growing so fast.
- she crawls so fast we can barely keep up with her
- she adores her daddy and her face lights up every time he comes near her
- shortly after I posted her 9 month update 4 new top teeth emerged
- she eats anything and everything she finds on the floor
- favorite toys: her baby doll, teddy bear, anything soft and squishy
- she's transitioned to a "big girl" carseat
- she's developed a high pitch scream in a phase that I'm hoping will soon pass
- words in her vocabulary: mama, dada, baby, bye-bye, no-no, and believe it or not..."Aubrey"(we're so proud...)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Portrait of Brilliance

This scanned image barely does justice to the original portrait that was drawn by my brilliant 3-year-old son. The colors are difficult to distinguish but the perceived concept is what truly amazed me. This is a portrait that Brendan drew of his daddy one morning while Joe was at the kitchen table doing work. While he was given a little prompting on colors, the placement and creation were all his own. Daddy... with his blue eyes, blond hair, very large brown eyebrows, well placed nose and mouth, blue shirt, blue sky and sunshine above, and Joe informed me that the larger random yellow scribble is his hands... how could I have missed that? He must have inherited his artistic abilities from his daddy :)

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.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Love at Last

This was the best picture I could find to capture the sweet relationship that has developed between my two beautiful children... I am so blessed...
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