Thursday, January 12, 2012

Learning the Game


Joe has offered, more times than I can count, to give me lessons... teach me the game. But at some point I reached the decision that the part of me that wanted to learn for him was overruled by the part of me that really had no desire at all. Although I enjoy watching him play, I would never enjoy actually playing myself.

I didn't learn at a young age like he did. If I had, maybe things would be different. But the fact that he did makes his desire to teach our son all that more meaningful. And our assessment that Brendan would be the perfect child to learn this thought-provoking, problem solving game was affirmed during our trip to California.

Joe got out the Chess board to play with my stepdad, Paul, who was (and still is) recovering from spinal surgery related to the cancer he has been fighting for nearly a decade. Paul welcomed the chance to be out of bed with something to do and Brendan was thrilled with the chance to be with Daddy and Papa.

So, as Joe began the game, he also calmly explained every move to Brendan along the way. Five minutes in was where he would've completely lost me, but Brendan hung on every word. And just when I thought he was only halfway listening he would ask an appropriate question that would put me in my place.

Paul got tired quickly and had to put the game on pause for later. And Brendan was nearing the end of his 5-year-old focus limit. I watched him sweetly tell Joe "Daddy, I think I'm going to go play with cars now..." But as I turned away I heard Joe say "OK Buddy, just let me show you one more thing..." And 15 minutes later I realized he had gotten sucked back in. But the smile on his face let me know it was by choice. By the end he was naming each piece with confidence. I'm not sure whether that final smile was for a new love of the game or for his special time with Daddy. Either way... that boy is amazing :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


The coffee was brewing, breakfast was baking, cameras were set and I tiptoed upstairs to get Joe and the kids out of bed. I had heard them stirring and knew that the anticipation was likely too much to bear. They rushed downstairs with pure excitement and began their fury of unwrapping. My sweet little Kindergartner read each tag and made sure each gift made it into the right hands. He even paused his unwrapping efforts to give his sister the special gift he picked out for her... all by himself. They were both overjoyed and ultimately pleased. We ate our special breakfast and opened the new toys. Hours of entertainment made for such an amazing day. The lack of crying, whining and tantrums... and their cooperation in sitting for the "Christmas Morning Jammies" picture was better than any gift I could have asked for.

But it wouldn't have been Christmas without reminding our sweet offspring of the reason for the celebration. And so it was with great praise that we shouted a joyous "happy birthday Jesus!!" and thanked God for this special day. "For a child is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Year

Now I'm blogging out of order. I know. I haven't even posted Christmas. But if I don't post my "year in review" now then I just might never get around to it. Or it will get so late that it will seem irrelevant. Whatever... here's 2011 in the life of the Bessmans.

The beginning of the year brought nothing much extraordinary. In February I got the chance to leave Joe and the kids for a long girls weekend in Hawaii. It was a difficult task convincing Joe to actually let me go but I truly believe we all benefited in the end. I got some much needed rest and relaxation and spent some good quality time getting to know some really great girls.

My uncle passed away on New Year's Eve 2010 and I travelled with the kids to California in early February for his memorial service. The meeting hall at the local fairgrounds was filled to standing room only as people came from all over to pay their respects. It was incredibly touching and eye-opening to realize just how many lives he had touched. We then travelled back to California (with Joe this time) in April for the family's first Easter without him. Beyond the rain and clouds and somber disposition we were still able to find joy and happiness in just being together.

Preschool graduation kicked off the start of our summer which involved travelling to California (while Joe did is annual army training), our big family camping trip at Harris Beach, soccer camp, swimming lessons and lots of friends and family time. Then Brendan started Kindergarten in the fall and life for this mommy changed drastically. Our every day lives now revolve around school... getting him there, picking him up and everything before, after and in between. I joined the PTA but have yet to make it to a single meeting.

We spent one of our best Thanksgivings here in Bend with my parents. My dad and stepmom made the journey through the mountains with turkey and fixings in hand. The food was delicious, the company outstanding and our stress-free holiday left us feeling joyful and blessed. Christmas was wonderful, just our family of four. Then we travelled (yet again) to California in an attempt at more family togetherness.

Joe continues to enjoy the work he does for Kittelson & Associates and I'm continually grateful for his ever-growing career and the opportunity it gives me to be at home with the kids. His army career brought changes this year as he retired his position as Company Commander of the 224 Engineers and moved on to be with the Battalion. A huge role change for him, as his new position involves none of the "fun" and camaraderie of his role as commander. A lot more sitting and "planning" and not a whole lot of doing. He enjoyed being in the more "active" role but has made the decision to just stick it out for now.

I still work an average of one 12-hour night shift per week at the hospital. I enjoy the people I work with and feel like I've become part of a "family." But my main focus is still on being a wife and mother and those are the things I plan on strengthening this year.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Christmas Card Sentiment

Before Joe and I got married 9 years ago I had never understood the magnitude of a Christmas card list. You know... those lucky (or unlucky) people in your address book who are fortunate enough to receive that yearly mailing you put so much effort into. There are the ones you send them to because you always have and you enjoy it... whether they send one to you or not. The family... the ones who probably enjoy them the most. And then the ones you bought the extras for... the ones you send them to simply because they sent one to you. Whether you want to admit it or not, you know this is true.

Regardless, once I started receiving "photo" cards I realized how much more sentimental they were and made it a tradition of my own. The first "photo" year we posed with a 6-month-old Brendan in front of the fireplace in our Vancouver home, photography courtesy of my father-in-law. Second year we had professional photos taken with an 18-month-old Brendan between our two smiling faces. Third year we had just had Aubrey and opted to send out birth announcements instead of Christmas cards. Fourth year we went back to the same professional photographer and ended up with a beautiful family photo and repeated the scenario with a new photographer for the fifth year (last year.) But as the time crept by this year and we made the decision not to spend the money on photos, I realized we would either have to forgo the family photo and try for one of just the kids, or... do it ourselves. How hard can a tripod and remote really be? (and now you're laughing because you know this wasn't my thought at all...) Fortunately for us, rather than pressing the timer button and waiting, I just had to keep pressing the remote... hoping for the best.

Take One: Seriously children? Aubrey, for the love of Peet, sit STILL... and who am I? The Nanny? Why doesn't anyone want to sit with ME??? Let's try this again...

Take Two: OK, getting closer... if I sit close enough to Joe she doesn't realize she's sitting on my lap instead of his... but seriously kids... FACES?! We are a HAPPY FAMILY!

Brendan, I said "happy" not forced enthusiasm... Aubrey please leave your sock on and wipe the goofy look off your face...Forget it... this one will have to do. Here's hoping for better in 2012...

Kindergarten Christmas

There is nothing at all like watching 20-some Kindergartners trying to sing and dance along to beloved traditional holiday music. They'd been practicing for weeks. Brendan would come home singing Rudolph and Jingle Bells, telling me all about how excited he was for his coming debut. A tiny classroom filled with tiny chairs for... well... large parents. I opted for a spot by the wall with a clear filming view while Joe and Aubrey sat stiffly in the audience. And as the crowd applauded and the kids took their bows, my sweet son's beaming smile was all it took to melt my heart.

Visiting Santa

It took three tries. Santa was busy this year. Who knew it would be an hour long wait just to see the jolly guy? But the Christmas season couldn't go by without letting the kids delight in this all time tradition. Of course, as parents, we'd been asking for weeks... "what do you want to ask Santa for?" but the question yielded various, ever-changing results. A slight difficulty when trying to finish gift shopping... So we knew our lists would have to wait until they could tell the big guy himself. For Brendan? Legos and cars and trucks!! For Aubrey? A princess Barbie and a baby doll! Though we had no idea that her three-year-old perception of "asking Santa" for something involved him handing it to her on the spot. Explaining that he would bring it to her on Christmas was lost on her three-year-old sense of time. Fortunately the tears were soothed and by the time she sat on his lap, she was thrilled to just be in his presence.