Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Birthday Party

It was over two weeks ago. The weekend before Thanksgiving. A whole 10 days before her actual birthday. Had we known that only one of the families we invited would come, we wouldn't have made such a big deal about having it so early. We thought we were being considerate of Thanksgiving plans. Such is life...

As it turns out, only having our good friends Scott and Tracey with their kids Kian and Emelyn happened to be a wonderful, more intimate ordeal. I made sure, despite my initial disappointment at the shortened guest list, to still make it feel like a "party." She deserved at least that much for her special day.

Her request was "hearts." How about butterflies? "HEARTS!!" What about lady bugs? "HEARTS!!" Tea party? "HEARTS!!" OK... hearts it is. I cut out several paper hearts to hang from various places along with coordinating balloons and a festive sign (borrowed from last year with a new "color" touch to coordinate this year's theme.) Baked a batch of orange-cream-sicle cupcakes with coordinating heart toppers and the girl was beyond thrilled. And as we sat and chatted with our good friends while the kids all played I realized that the number of guests was irrelevant. What mattered was her perception. She felt like the star of the show and that's what filled my heart with joy.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dryer Disaster


It's one of my favorite chores. Crazy, I know. There's something extremely satisfying about empty hampers, the clean smell, and drawers full of clean clothes. But let me tell you how a satisfying chore can turn disastrous when two little people are involved.

I had worked Monday and Tuesday nights making Wednesday morning (at 7:30 after working 12 hours) the only available time to hit the grocery store. I figured I was better off anyway as Thursday was Thanksgiving and the later it got, the crazier the stores would be. Flew threw the store with my list, drove home to put the groceries away, threw some laundry in the washer and laid down for a quick rest before picking the kids up and finishing the cleaning before my parents arrived. Sitting down to dinner I remembered that I needed to remove the clothes in the dryer for the ones in the washer. I ran upstairs and began pulling clean clothes from the dryer. I pulled out a pair of Joe's work slacks and thought "hmmm... how strange... what did he get all over his pants. Looks like several tiny rust spots. Well, that's what he gets for wearing them in the garage. How sad..."

I put them in a heap on the floor, planning to eventually toss them. It was the second item of clothing that clued me in to a much bigger problem. I pulled out a pair of MY pants. A very beloved, worn, elastic-waist pair of brown cargo pants. Pants I bought on clearance for crazy cheap, wear at least once a week and even begged my mom to sew the drawstring back into when it snapped from not untying it when pulling them up and down. Yup... those had "rust" on them too. How bizarre...

And with the third item of clothing a small, empty, cylindrical piece of paper dropped to the ground. One with the words "Crayola" and "Burnt Orange" typed neatly on it. I dropped the pants and started to cry (remember that I'm on very little sleep at this point and my emotional state is unbalanced... don't judge...) I ran downstairs to deliver the news to Joe. He didn't look nearly as upset as I felt and I needed to feel justified. So I began shouting like a madwoman as he cleared the dinner dishes and escorted me upstairs to assess the damage. His mind was on the dryer... what kind of damage does a crayon do to such a marvelous machine? While mine was on the FULL load of dark clothes that were surely beyond salvaging.

He began a two-pile process. One for undamaged pieces and the other for irreparable pieces. One by one we pulled them out. When he got to my sweater I nearly passed out. MY SWEATER??! A lovely deep v-neck purple and lavender striped favorite purchased over 6 years ago. NOT MY SWEATER!! The tears returned. "Honey, it's just clothes" he said, thinking those words would soothe me.

"But those can't be replaced!! I'll never find a sweater like that again!"

The rest of the clothes were a blur. A favorite workout tank, kids shirts, the culprit pants/pockets, socks, a couple pairs of underwear. I was still mourning the sweater and cargo pants. The task of figuring out just where to go from there was too much on my weary brain. Fortunately for Joe, his task of cleaning out the dryer was made easy by the strong (and noxious) cleaning powers of Goof Off. Not to be confused with Goo Gone (the orange oil based product that removes unwanted stickiness.) This stuff has some powerful chemicals that, when sprayed onto a cloth, wiped the crayon clean. And let me tell you, while my clothes looked horrid, the inside of the dryer obviously got the brunt of the damage.

I left the clothes for later. I needed time to process the damage and mourn the probable complete loss of two all- time favorite items of clothing. They stayed in a heap until Sunday. I approached the pile with mild hope. "Start small" I thought, and began scrubbing at tiny spots with a toothbrush and cleaner. Seeing as how I wasn't making much progress I decided to also spray the spots with Oxi-Clean stain spray. How much more damage could I do? I would likely be throwing the whole load out. I tossed in the stain-treated sweater and cargo pants and a pair of Joe's jeans for good measure.

Hours later, in what can only be called a laundry miracle, I pulled a magically clean sweater and pants from the washer and almost cried tears of joy. Of course Joe didn't seem nearly as pleased (these were just clothes after all.) And it wasn't until much later that I realized I could have pulled the whole thing off as an excuse for a shopping spree (what husband could say no to a wife who just lost her favorite sweater?)

But for now I will thank God and the makers of Oxi-Clean for diverting a major Crayola/Kenmore crisis.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Three Years Old

Just three short years ago this child entered our lives. We went from a family of three to a family of four never imagining how much our hearts would grow to accommodate the love we would have for her. She tests our limits and our patience on a daily basis. It's who she is... her strong-willed personality. But then she smiles... or hugs me... and tells me she loves me THIS much {insert arms wide open} and I can't help but love her to pieces. Happy third birthday sweet baby girl. I love you from the deepest depths of my heart.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Captain Hook and Tinkerbell

Really just a pirate and a fairy costume from Costco. It was Aubrey's love for the sweet Disney fairy that brought about the idea to elaborate them (who knew that she would still be demanding to be called "Tinkerbell" even weeks after the costume had been put away??) Brendan looked much more fierce with his hook and eye patch (which he donned for our trick-or-treat outing.) Although his "arrr matey" sounded too sweet and friendly to be intimidating. When one man handed him candy and said, looking at the hook "oh, I hope your hand feels better..." Brendan giggled and whispered as we walked away "I wonder if he knows it's fake..." I love the sweet innocence of children. One of the downfalls of Halloween in Central Oregon is that, when the sun goes down, the temperature drops drastically. So we stepped out into the 40 degree chill that night and ushered the kids to about 15 houses in 20 minutes. Though despite the numb fingers and toes, they would have kept going had we let them.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

5 Rolls

Of toilet paper that is.

I tried to stop thinking of it as money down the drain (or literally flushed down the toilet as is the case in this story.) Incredibly difficult to do since that's exactly what it was. FIVE rolls of toilet paper... I'm still slightly seething.

I was indulging in one of those rare mornings as a mother... I got to exercise, I got to take a shower, and I even had time to do my hair and makeup. Yes, I would feel good "pampering" myself and it would be a good day. But my dreams of being that mother faded quickly as I heard a tattling voice yell.

"MOMMY!! Aubrey got the toilet paper wet!!"

I was slightly perplexed. What exactly could this mean? My mind was reeling.

She met me going up, on my way down the stairs. By this time I was concerned. No pants. No underwear. And strands of her hair were dripping.

"Aubrey?... why is your hair wet honey?" I hesitantly asked.

"It got in the toilet," she replied with a smile.

I rounded the corner into the bathroom and fought to keep my composure. How many rolls of toilet paper? FIVE!! I keep a pretty basket in the corner of our downstairs bathroom that holds extra rolls of toilet paper since the pedestal sink doesn't allow for under-sink storage. Just two days ago I refilled it with FIVE extra rolls. All of which now sat in one big soggy wet pile.

"WHAT DID YOU DO?!?!" I cried.

"I know," she replied with a shrug (her version of "I don't know" and her most common answer to everything these days.) But I don't even know why I asked because the situation was becoming apparent by the second. The low water level in the toilet was not due to common "clogging by defecation" (not generally expected of my youngest anyway...) but rather "soaked" up by my FIVE extra rolls of toilet paper! All of which had been placed back into the basket, adhering to one another in an unsalvageable mess.

It took all I had not to unleash the "wrath of the angry mother"...

Things I was grateful for:
- she didn't UN-roll the toilet paper, possibly rendering the toilet semi-permanently clogged
- she managed to do this all miraculously without making a huge wet mess of the entire bathroom
- it didn't involve soap
- there was surprisingly no feces involved
- nothing was broken
- my sweet daughter told me she was "sorry" and I truly believed her

After all... when all was said and done I suppose it's a fortunate thing I was only out FIVE... ROLLS... of TOILET PAPER!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Kindergarten Soccer

It's really a very hilarious concept. Teaching a bunch of 5-year-olds to play soccer. I mean, I suppose they have to learn sometime, but this was more entertaining (and a little frustrating) than anything. When we asked Brendan (#7 up there) if he wanted to play he was thrilled and he always had fun. I think that's really what's important. We were lucky to have 6 Saturdays with no rain (wait... luck? this is central Oregon!) Although I admit there were one or two that I wished I could be watching from the comfort of my heated van. But we ended the season with a beautiful 70-degree sunny fall Saturday and for me, that was perfect.

What I learned from Kindergarten Soccer:
- our son is by far the least competitive kid out there
- 5-year-olds have very short attention spans
- I could never coach Kindergarten soccer
- yelling "watch the ball BRENDAN!" and "KICK IT!!" really doesn't help at all
- you resign yourself to cheering no matter WHO kicked the ball because, really, that's an accomplishment in itself
- my kid is the shortest kindergartner in the record of kindergarten soccer
- he's also the cutest
- I don't think my son ever made a goal and yet he still seemed to have a blast

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


I thought I could handle it. I mean, seriously? I heard moms talking about getting hysterical as their babies went off to school and thought "not me... I can handle this!" Why shed a tear? This is a glorious time right??

The night before, as we picked out his clothes and prepared him for the big day ahead, he whispered to me, "mommy, you don't need to be sad that I'm going to school... it's going to be OK." And I thought "oh no... you too?" What's wrong with these people? Now I felt like I'd be letting people down if I didn't cry!

But my emotions were the least of his worries. His excitement was nearly palpable. He could barely stand the fact that he wouldn't be going to school first thing in the morning and would have to wait till after lunch to begin his adventure. Being in afternoon Kindergarten has it's pros and cons... the waiting being the biggest con. His daddy came home to accompany us for this momentous occasion and he was thrilled for us both to share this experience with him. We walked him to his classroom, helped him put his things away and he chose a seat and sat down. As all the other parents were hovering and milling about I thought "is it really this easy?" I knelt down to give him a hug and eyed another mom looking at me nostalgically. "What's her problem?" I thought, "I'm FINE!" His smile never faltered. His daddy knelt down to hug him and I felt a small twinge in my chest. We turned to leave and he was ready to let go, excited for his new adventure.

"I did it," I thought, "no tears!"

And then it hit me. We turned around and peered through the hall window to see him sitting quietly, smiling eagerly. We waved good-bye and he waved with sheer enthusiasm. He didn't need me... and it broke my heart. I turned back around and broke into tears. And as Joe put his arm around me I thought to myself "So this is what they they were talking about... the bittersweet joy and pain of letting go..."

Good luck my big Kindergartner. You've entered the big wide world of academics and I'm going to be here for you every step of the way :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Your Present

So I have to break stride and come back to the present with this post. Because some things are just too sweet not to remember and I haven't told stories about my kids in awhile.

I sat here this morning trying desperately to figure some crazy computer stuff out, working away at the blog. My frustrations kept me glued to the computer while the kids were off playing.

"Just one wipe, mommy... just one?" Aubrey asked, holding a package of wipes up for my observation and approval.

"Yes honey, you can have ONE wipe then put them away" I replied, eyes still glued to the screen. I'm not proud of these moments. The ones when I know that my focus should be completely on my children and yet I'm letting something else consume it completely. It happens more often than I'd like to admit and typing this nearly brings tears to my eyes. I am only human I suppose.

But of course, even at the age of 5, Brendan believes there must be some magical reason that Aubrey would want to play with a wipe and insists that he have one too. So I cave, let them have their wipes and immediately confiscate the rest of the package. But as I turn my back, typing away, I see out of the corner of my eye my son on his hands and knees. He is using his wipe to clean my hardwood floor and is moving with slow precision and thoroughness. I see him pause to scrub at a spot and continue on.

He moves on to the living room and sometime later comes to me in the den with a sweet smile.

"I have a present for you mommy" he says softly, "I cleaned for you... I picked up the toys and I cleaned the floor with my wipe."

Chills ran up my spine and I fought back tears. I hugged him.... TIGHTLY. And basked in the warmth of his smile. At 5 years old he can read me like a book. He aims to please and he knows how to do it. I told him how much I appreciated his hard work and I knew it came from his heart.

This boy... he lights up my life.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Deschutes County Fair

OK, so it was over 2 months ago. First weekend in August to be precise. But I'm trying to make up for lost blogging time in correct chronological order and so here it is... our trip to the Deschutes County Fair.

Joe's not much of a fair person himself but I went every year as a child and it was sometimes the highlight of my summer (living in small town Grass Valley...) I went this year with the full intention of having a "fair food" experience as you only get them once or twice a year. So I was defeated and disappointed when we left without my corn dog. We just didn't have it in us to stay any longer. Kids loved seeing the animals and the free pony rides. We let them each pick one carnival ride which resulted in me riding the swings with Aubrey, pulling her crying from them when we had to get off and Brendan in tears when he realized he could not choose both the motorcycles AND the airplanes. It was at that point that we realized they were hot and exhausted and our fair experience needed to come to an end. They were asleep before we hit the highway.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Friends Forever

I considered it a blessing when we had the opportunity to move to Bend three years ago (yup, it's been THREE years!) Joe's career was flourishing, mine was flexible, we regarded Central Oregon as a terrific place to raise a family. All of the benefits lined up and landed us where we are today. But the one thing I hated was all the people I would be leaving behind. One in particular... my very good friend Sarah. Not that Bend is incredibly far (although a 3 1/2 hour drive warrants at least one night's stay...) But life gets busy and travelling becomes inconvenient and we're left with a friendship that exists mostly over the phone. And for this reason alone, I truly cherish the times when we do get to see each other in person. We saw each other through the births of our children. We envisioned Matthew, Ethan and Brendan being the best of friends for life. So it's extremely touching and sweet to see that when they visited in July, even with several months' span between their last visit, they remember their friendship as much as we remember ours and our dreams of "friends forever" can still live on...

Monday, October 3, 2011

Grassick Family Camping 2011

Every summer Joe and I have tried to take the kids on an annual camping trip with my parents. An attempt to give them the fun camping experiences I had as a child. But this last summer we changed it up a bit and invited my sister, her 3 kids, my brother and sister-in-law and their little guy. A real down and dirty "family" camping trip. And since half of us were coming from Oregon and half from California my dad settled on Harris Beach State Park as our final destination. Just a few miles north of the California border on the Oregon coast. In fact, the drive from Central Oregon required us to drive down into California before heading back up into Oregon along the coast. But once we all got there and got settled in, the kids had a great time and it ended up being a trip to remember.

The beach was a tad on the cold side, even for the first weekend in July. Of course the kids didn't mind (nor did my sister) and jumped right in despite the numbness and tingling that ensued. We bonded, we laughed, we told stories, roasted marshmallows. And when we all parted ways it was a bittersweet goodbye. And so the plans begin for Grassick Family Camping 2012...

Top Row: Shawna (age 13... days from 14), Lindsay (my S-I-L), Jill (my sister), ME Middle Row: Dad, Nadine (my stepmom), Joey (my brother), Joe (my husband), Aubrey (age 2) Front Row: Sevvy (my brother's boy age 2), Molly (my sister's girl age 3), Brendan (age 5) and Josh (my sister's middle child age 7)

Another Year Went By

Since it's been a coincidental tradition that the kids and I take a trip back to Grass Valley every summer, we decided it should also be a tradition to get an annual photo of my sister and me and our 5 kids. It's amazing to see how fast they all grow. The ties that bind us together...

Summer 2011

Summer 2010

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Party (Birthday Cake Part 3)

And finally, the day he had been waiting for. He picked the cake out almost a year in advance, finding it in one of my magazines and asking if I could make it for his "5 birthday." The boy thinks his mama can do anything. And while I stressed about the imperfections, it melted away as he exclaimed "oh mama!! it looks just like the picture... you did a really good job!" He's good for my ego, I think I'll keep him around.

The party was a hit. A kids' favorites menu including mini pigs in blankets, goldfish crackers, star-shaped mini sandwiches and more. The kids were in heaven. They ate outside and played to their hearts' content and Brendan loved every minute of it. Surrounded by his favorite friends (most of them girls) he opened his gifts and thanked his guests politely. My sweet little 5-year-old boy :)

Belated Birthday Boy (Birthday Cake Part 2)

June 18th. The Saturday before Father's Day, the only day off his daddy gets from his two week training for the army. So we headed to Albany for a joint celebration... Brendan's birthday and Father's Day... and some much needed time with daddy. The added bonus was yet another birthday celebration complete with cake from his Grandpa and Bubbe. The cake was gourmet and absolutely delicious and he was delighted to find out that it read "Buckaroo Bunny" instead of Brendan. A special cake with the two nicknames his grandparents gave him from birth. He's his grandpa's buckaroo and his Bubbe's bunny. He found it amusingly fitting... as if he expected nothing less. So here's another cake to you and your first 5 years big guy.

He turned 5!

I realize how late I am in posting this. His birthday was over 2 months ago. I've fallen behind and I'm trying to catch up.

June 18th, 2011 marked a very special birthday for this sweet boy. Five years old, preparing for the big world of kindergarten, pulling his mama's heart with him as he goes. Whenever we ask him to stop growing up he states so simply "I'm sorry mama, but you don't get to choose... only God can choose and he chooses for me to grow up..." You're right sweet boy and I love to watch you grow but there are so many things I miss as they disappear along the way.

It's hard to pass up that irresistible smile, those dark eyes and blonde hair... the same cowlick as his daddy, the cleft in his chin. He's sensitive and sweet, playful and smart. I'm forever and always amazed at his charm and intelligence. And while I can only hold onto his youth for so long, it sure doesn't stop me from trying.


The kind that only Nonna can do.

I grew up with a mom who knew how to do hair. French braids, twists, up-dos, you name it. Who needed to go to a salon for dances when Mom knew how to do it all? One time in particular that I remember well was lying with my head in her lap, slowly turning as she french braided from one side to the other. I wore it to school that way and was complimented at every turn.

But for this reason in particular, I had a slight moment of panic when I realized that I wouldn't be able to be a hair dresser for my daughter. A simple braid I can do, pony tails... yes. But french braids scare the heck out of me. So when we were visiting my mom in June and she offered to braid Aubrey's hair I jumped at what might be a once every year opportunity. I'm not even sure how she got her to sit still so long. Cartoons never keep her attention like that for me. But I cherished the moment and almost cried when I had to take them out, knowing all too well that these were braids that only Nonna could do.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Birthday Cake Part One

It has become a tradition that when Joe heads off for his army annual training the kids and I head to California for a week and, while there, take the opportunity to begin celebrating Brendan's birthday. I'm a firm believer in having a Birthday Week (or two), especially for the kid whose daddy misses the real day every year. So we gathered for dinner, a round of "Happy Birthday" and a bite of caterpillar cake (Brendan's birthday cake choice #1.) Don't look too close, you will surely see all the imperfections as I got extremely frustrated while decorating this bad boy. But the frustrations melted away when Brendan took one look and said "it looks juts like the picture mommy!" and flashed his sweet smile.

8th Grade Graduate

A few weeks ago the kids and I headed to California to visit my mom and attend my niece's 8th grade graduation ceremony. I was 17 years old when she was born, she was only 20 months old when Joe first met her, she was 5 years old as the flower girl in our wedding, 9 years old with her hands on my belly, feeling baby Brendan kick. This can't seriously be happening. Look at her... she's a beautiful young woman now, time has flown by way too fast. But it was important to be able to be there for her, showing her how much love and support surrounds her as she enters the (sometimes ugly) world of high school. We'll always be here for you sweet girl. Stay strong and you'll survive these next 4 years.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

First Hair Cut

OK, so we've trimmed her bangs before. But never that sweet soft fine baby hair that had been growing since birth. I put it off for as long as I could. Once you cut it, you can't go back. But it was finally time. All those uneven layers were starting to drive me nuts. And since I was having anxiety at the thought of her first haircut anyway... it was only appropriate to go to the local kids salon here in Bend that offers a "First Cut Certificate" complete with a smiling picture and a lock of that baby fine hair. She looks like such a big girl now. My sweet baby.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Preschool Graduate

As silly as preschool graduation sounds, it truly brought to light how far this boy has come in the last 9 months. His social and academic skills have flourished and it's hard for this mama to believe her baby boy will be starting kindergarten in the fall. The ceremony was short and sweet and involved the kids singing a few songs that they had learned, standing up to receive their "plomas" (Brendan's interpretation) and hearing what it was that their teachers would remember most about them ("we will remember Brendan for his kindness to others... and we KNOW he prefers blondes...") He spent most of his time swooning over his friend Brooke (the cute curly blonde) and telling us all about how much he would miss going to school. Little does he know that it's only the beginning of the next 13 years of his life.

Like Family

Bend KAI Family

(left to right: Scott and Tracey Beaird with kids Kian and Emelyn, Casey and Kristin Bergh, Matt and Lauren Kittelson, Joe and Annie Bessman with kids Brendan and Aubrey)

It's amazing to me how close-knit a working community can be. It was one of the benefits we saw when we made the decision to move to Bend. We've all become so close that it's hard to imagine 2 years ago when this group was only two thirds what it is now (lacking the Kittelsons, the youngest Beaird and half of the Bergh couple :) Four working men with four intelligent (and beautiful) wives, it's no wonder it's always a party when we all get together. We seriously couldn't imagine better people to be sharing this journey with. We consider them family, because in so many ways they are.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Finally Some Sunshine

May 10, 2011. The first day in probably nine months that felt nice enough to venture out to the park. As evidence of our long lack of nice weather Aubrey asked when I put her shirt on... "I wear my swimsuit?" to which I confusingly replied "um.. no, honey, this is your shirt..."

She looked at me and asked "why you see my skin then?" and I had to smile. "These are called short sleeves sweetheart." And THAT is how long it's been since we've seen warm weather. So long that Aubrey forgot what short sleeves were. Of course she's also only 2 1/2 but still...

Needless to say, the kids were ecstatic and played hard enough to take 3 hour naps that day. How I long for the weather when every day can be park day.


I know. Here it is, early June and I'm finally posting about Easter which was over a month ago. This blogging thing has been slipping lately.

We decided this year to take the trip down to California to spend Easter with some of my family. Thinking we would be escaping the cold and rainy weather that had been plaguing most of Oregon, we were sadly surprised that the effort was useless. It rained there too...

There was a big family picnic planned for Easter day. Grandma, Grandpa, aunts, uncles, cousins and family I've never even met. But the backup plan was put into action and the picnic was taken inside. And what does the Easter bunny do when it's too wet to hide eggs outside? Well he hides them inside of course. Not the best photo options but we made do with what we had.

Had it not been for Aubrey feeling under the weather we may have gotten a few better pics of her with her brother. She spent most of the day sleeping feverishly in her daddy's arms. At least she was a good sport and put on the dress...


My friend Tracey came over early last month to visit and let the kids play. The weather was sunny but chilly... perfect for sending the kids out back to play while we chatted. It didn't take long before I heard my dear daughter wailing and delayed inquiring about the reason as she tends to be overly dramatic. So Tracey walked to the sliding door, looked out and stifled a laugh as she sighed "oh Aubrey..." and by the time I reached the door I had to turn my back so my baby girl wouldn't see the giggles. Had it not been for Tracey I wouldn't have captured the photo. But in between giggles I managed to whisper "is it bad that I kind of want to get the camera right now?" to which she replied (as only friends can) "do it... you only get one chance!"

And I only felt a slight pang of guilt as I snapped the picture while my sweet girl cried "I stuuuuck Mommy!! I put my chair on...!!!" I them promptly removed the chair which she dragged back into the yard and we all survived. Nothing but a little memory making.

Friday, April 15, 2011

My Loves

I seriously love these two. She with her baby, he with his teddy. It's the life I live... a blessed life of motherhood.

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I'm a Big Girl Now

The crib came down, the bed went up. But it wasn't without tears that this huge milestone was reached. She's growing way too fast. "My big girl bed!" she says. The crib made her look huge, the bed makes her look tiny. I suppose she'll always be my baby girl.

Birthday Cake Tradition

I'm not even sure how many years this has been going on but I know it's a tradition we're not about to break. Each year on (or around) my birthday I allow Joe to step into my kitchen and use my beloved tools to create for me a birthday masterpiece. He's an engineer, an artist, a perfectionist, but most of all an incredible husband. Every cake he's ever made has been filled with more love than I could imagine and for that I love him more each time.

My birthday... March 15th... was complicated this year. The kids came down (one subsequently after the other) with a quick stomach virus the weekend preceding which left Joe and me inflicted with the same bug on my lovely birthday Eve. We believed it was possible that we would recover as quickly as the kids and make it on our dinner date the next night (it was my special day after all...) But misery struck and we were left taking shifts with the kids while the other slept it off. Joe was back to work on the 16th but I was still recovering. It wasn't until Friday that we were able to resume our date (a birthday "mulligan" if you will...) And so Saturday was baking day.

The one difference this year (and likely every year from now on) was the two little helpers who were eager to get their hands in on the project. So I sat back and watched as three of the most beloved people in my life put all of their efforts into creating my special day cake. And the end result was fantastic as always. Banana Cake with fresh raspberry filling and lemon cream cheese frosting. Now step away from the kitchen dear husband for I am still the cook of the house and I can't be outdone...

Back it Up: Hawaii for Girls

Or I suppose I should say Hawaii for nurses as this trip was disguised as a "business" endeavor. It took some convincing but Joe finally agreed to let me take off on a girls only vacation to sunny Hawaii. Oh yeah, and of course it was for work... a 5 day trip for a 1 day conference. Absolutely necessary. I felt myself coming close to an anxiety attack as I packed and prepared to leave Joe and the kids for 5 days indulging in what I was trying to consider a much-deserved break. I planned it all out down to the meals in the freezer and who would take care of the kids. I was determined not to let Joe have any regrets.

So, early on the 24th of February I left the 20 degree temps of Central Oregon and boarded a plane for sunny Honolulu. Met up with six other girls from work and packed a ton of adventure into a seemingly short trip. Getting the conference out of the way on Friday, we experienced an afternoon on the beach and a night on the town. Spent Saturday hiking Diamond Head crater, snorkeling in Hanauma Bay and enjoying a fun and relaxing dinner at Duke's Canoe Club. Took the city bus on Sunday to the beautiful Kailua beach where we swam in the calm waters and basked in the warm sun. Rented a minivan and drove to the North Shore on Monday for a change of scenery watching whales and surfers and stopping for a coconut water experience (coconuts sold on the side of the road, chopped open and complete with a straw for drinking your "water.") And then headed home on Tuesday. Back to the real world (and the snow...)

It was the perfect get away trip. Just long enough that I missed my husband and kids, but not too much. I felt slightly guilty getting away but was still able to relax and have fun. The girls I was with made the trip fun and worthwhile... an adventurous beach trip to remember...


So first, I want to apologize (as if I really have a following of readers who are saddened and dismayed by the fact that I have fallen behind on blogging...) But hey, to anyone who may be interested, I'm going to try to get back into it. So many updates! Read on to be enlightened by the latest non-adventures of the Bessman family :)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Troubled Waters

I know how often I comment on how incredibly different my two children are. But one of their greatest differences has always been their love (or lack thereof) of the water. From the day we brought Brendan home from the hospital when he was born, he was terrified of bathtime and has never had the desire to learn to swim. I struggled through two rounds of "mommy and me" toddler lessons, hoping his fear would resolve (the dangers of having children afraid of the water are too horrible to fathom) but I sadly had no luck. In fact, I was the only mother whose child screamed in fear through each class. I had almost given up hope (and stopped trying for the last 2 years) until my good friend was referred to a local woman who teaches lessons out of her home.

She is the water wonder woman (at least to me...) With the patience of a saint and years of teaching skills, this lady is my saving grace. And who better to take the plunge with (pun totally intended...) than his very best buddy, Kian. (that's Brendan on the right, my Shorty McShortster alongside Kian and Miss Mary)

Lesson #1: Brendan cried each time Miss Mary "made him" put his face in the water and I almost cried along with him. Her insistence and reassurance that he was not, in fact, getting hurt by the water paid off and he left with a smile.

Lesson #2: Less crying but a lot of repetitive "why do I have to do it AGAIN?!" when the practicing continued. I saw the lightbulb go on as he realized that holding his breath wasn't all that difficult and floating could be effortless...

Lesson #3: Back floating is EASY (this woman is a saint!) And he's learning to do an actual swim stroke!

Lesson #4: Brendan is back-floating on his own. I watch in amazement as she lifts her hands from the water and my baby boy floats by smiling. She begins to teach him the back stroke. Have I mentioned this woman is amazing??

Yes, we will continue our lessons with her, maybe for the rest of his life... Aubrey on the other hand gets to take a soak with me in the deep end, jumps happily from the edge, dunks playfully below the surface and begs to "weeee" on the rope swing... TOTAL... OPPOSITES...

Friday, January 7, 2011

This is what you get

When you have high hopes of getting that perfect picture of your kids on Christmas morning in their Christmas jammies in front of the tree. Like the one I got last year... only last year she was only 13 months old and hadn't yet hit the flaring attitude of the terrible twos. So this is what I got... a true testament to the life I live with these two...

Christmas Morning

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Santa 2010

Brendan, our shy little guy, was able to get out a softly whispered "I'd like a red truck and some tools from Home Depot." His discomfort is obvious but he's still cute as ever.

We had high hopes for Aubrey, our ever social sweetheart. But she flirted with the idea of a meltdown when she peered up at Santa's intimidating face. Fortunately (and all too randomly) for us, Benny the Beaver (the infamous OSU mascot) was roaming the grounds and caught the eye of one sweet little girl. He kindly obliged to do a little dance beside the camera man which resulted in the silly grin. The tight grip on her candy cane is evidence of her implied incentive but she would have much rather sat on Benny's lap any day.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

White Fluffies

Just days before Aubrey's second birthday we were hit with our first big storm of the season (one of many that would follow and keep a permanent visible layer of white on the ground.) Despite the pains it took to get these two geared up, the smiles and fun were priceless.

New Year

I sort of lost my momentum there at the end of the year. Falling behind on keeping up to date. And as a result, some of January's posts may seem a bit out of order. So much to catch up on. I apologize and vow to try harder...

The last year was seemingly uneventful but filled with changes nonetheless.

I turned 30 in March and celebrated by inviting my close friends to a grownup sleepover. Sent my kids to the grandparents and had a much needed girls weekend. I then celebrated again in April by taking a week long trip with Joe to Mexico. A trip we only slightly regretted, wishing we had gone somewhere else and missing the kids like crazy. I struggled with the notion of 30 for only a moment as I realized in many ways my life just keeps getting better. March also welcomed the arrival of our newest niece, Madeline Rose Bessman, born to Alex and Katie (and the 5 of their children) on the 17th in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

June took Joe off on his annual training and me and the kids to California for a family visit. We ended the month with our group camping trip and had a blast.

July signified the annual Sisters Quilt Show (or really just an excuse for my mom to come and visit) which we dragged the kids to and still managed to enjoy every moment.

In August our very good friends Molly and Ryan and their three kids moved from Portland to Bend in an opportunistic career move for Ryan who now works for the city of Bend. I prayed day and night that this was where they were meant to be and I feel extremely blessed and grateful for the doors it has opened in our friendships with them. Feeling secluded by the daunting snowy passes that keep visitors at bay is much more bearable with close friends.

August also brought us the newest member of the Bend Kittelson team, Matt Kittelson. He and his wife, Lauren made the life changing decision to settle their roots here in Bend and it has been nothing short of fantastic. This left the fellow wives with a strong desire to bond by forming a group (OK, an excuse to meet once a month without our husbands...) We call ourselves the Kitty Kats and meet on the first Monday of the month. It doesn't matter that we may do nothing more than watch the Bachelor and chat about nothing... it's friendly bonding and I'm blessed to be a part of it. Who understands what it's like to be married to a Kittelson engineer better than fellow wives???

Our good friends James and Sarah came to visit with their boys in September but they could have stayed a week and not stayed long enough. I always feel a piece of myself being torn away when they leave and I realize just how much I miss them. Brendan started preschool after Labor Day and took his independence to a whole new level. Kindergarten will be a heartbreaker for me.

Joe and I saw Carrie Underwood in concert at the Rose Garden at the end of the month (a sort of celebration for Joe's 30th birthday.) We had a fantastic time and the show was amazing.

Joe celebrated his much dreaded 30th birthday (he only got to be "younger" than me for 7 months) on October 1st and was completely surprised by his surprise party. Two weeks later we flew to North Carolina for our fun filled (previously documented) family visit.

November and December enveloped us in the holiday season. After announcing last year that we would no longer be traveling for the holidays we had no idea what that looked like for us. I cooked a Thanksgiving meal for the 4 of us and sat in bewilderment at the "un"Thanksgiving feeling of it all. It was slightly depressing to think that Christmas would be more of the same. But alas, our friends came to the rescue and invited us into their home for Christmas dinner. We consider them as close as family and really wouldn't have wanted it any other way. So it wasn't at all unexpected that we then spent New Year's Eve with them also. There's nothing depressing about being in good company.

And so here we are, the start of a new year with many promises and adventures ahead. Here's hoping for good health and prosperity...