Wednesday, July 30, 2014


I just kept snapping away because I love these interactive moments between them.  As difficult as Aubrey can be sometimes, she has these moments when she shows so much love for her baby sister.  And Violet just seems to adore her (and her brother too) lighting up whenever she's around.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

9 months

Finally sitting up on her own but still not standing or crawling.  And as much as I compare her to babies who are doing so much more at earlier ages, I convince myself that I'm OK with her lack of mobility.  When she's on the move, I will be too.  She now says mama in addition to dada and ba-ba.  And even though none of it really means anything to her yet, we still love to hear it. Still only her bottom 2 teeth but she'll eat anything she can with them.  She loves the food off our plates and has recently started caring less and less about nursing. She'll be the one that ends up weaning herself and it breaks my heart, I'm just not ready. She's started getting stranger anxiety and has taken to screaming whenever mommy walks out of the room regardless of who is still with her.  Though her first dip in the pool was filled with a little anxiety, she warmed up and now loves to go swimming.  Her 9-month well checkup shows her weighing in at 18lbs 1 oz and measuring 26.5 inches long.  This puts her smack dab at average for weight (50th %, though who would have guessed with those chunky rolls?) and a little on the short side (15th %, she'll probably be short like her mama...) And though it also had her scoring low on her developmental screening exam, both her pediatrician and I are not worried in the slightest.  She's obviously got her own pace and I'm OK with that.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Shopping Carts

Now that she can finally sit up on her own, it makes excursions that much easier.  Not having to heft that crazy baby carrier in with me, heavy baby and all, feels glorious.  So of course I had to document her first shopping cart sitting experience.  She may have eaten my shopping list but she made lots of friends, got a million smiles and "oh how cute"s and she kept me company so I'd say it was a success!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Campground Alarm Clock

A morning cup of coffee with the campground alarm clock.  At least she's cute.  Though our neighboring campers might not have been so biased. She woke us up each morning with her insistent cries and whines and only relented once I picked her up and brought her into my own sleeping bag.  Only then did she lay on my chest with a smile on her face and that "see? I knew you'd listen sooner or later" look.

Gull Point Camping

When we got back from Joe's guard duty weekend Joe and I sat chatting that Sunday evening and suddenly realized we had the next two weekends completely free of any obligations or plans.  Such a rare thing during the summer.  When I said "what do you want to do?" I was slightly surprised when Joe said "let's go camping!" So we sat down at the computer and looked up campgrounds relatively close by, preferably by lakes or other bodies of water where kayaking could be involved (*SHOCKING*).  And that's how we ended up spontaneously booking a campsite at one of the only campgrounds available on such short notice (our theory is that we must have gotten someone's cancellation... it was too nice of a site to have been just sitting available up until that point.)  Gull point, located on Wickiup Reservoir and just a few miles from the twin lakes.

We drove out on a Friday afternoon, set up camp, ate dinner, built a fire, put the kids to bed in the tent and sat enjoying each other's company by the light of the campfire, drinking a glass (er... plastic cup) of wine until the fire went out.  After breakfast on Saturday Joe took the kids out on the lake in the tandem kayak while I laid Violet down for a nap in the tent and hung out in the hammock with a book.  We ate lunch and ventured out to South Twin Lake for some ice cream and water adventures (Joe kayaked alone while the kids swam and I lounged in the shade with a sleeping baby and my book.) We rode bikes, went on walks, played and had fun. Then Sunday morning we packed up and headed out.  But not before stopping again at South Twin Lake to do the one-mile perimeter hike and have lunch.

And as we unloaded, unpacked, started laundry, showered and relaxed, our adventure weekend came to an end.  But these spontaneous trips make such amazing memories.

Things I learned on our family adventure weekend:

- My baby's head smells strangely similar to a perfectly toasted marshmallow
- My daughter has a horrible sense of direction and should be implanted with some type of homing device
- I am pretty awesome at building campfires
- My husband's patience when putting up a tent is non-existent so offering to help is a recipe for disaster
- 48 hours without flushing toilets and a shower may be nearing my limit
- Taking a 9-month-old camping can be challenging but fun
- And I have the most amazing husband ever.  I just do.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Killing Time

When you're forced to kill time and it's raining outside and you're not in your hometown, there are few options unless you are supermom and have the foresight, patience and motivation to do some planning.  It should come as no surprise that I am not that mom.

The kids and I joined Joe in Salem for his Army Guard duty weekend.  The girls and I drove to Newport on Saturday to pick Brendan up from being with his grandparents for a week.  By the time we got back to Salem Joe was done with work and we hung out with him for the evening.  But Sunday brought a summer rain storm and a hotel checkout time of 11:00 am.  So while we hung out at the indoor hotel pool until the last possible minute, it meant packing up the kids and gear by myself and scrambling for something to keep us busy until Joe would be done.  I wanted to make a stop at Great Harvest Bakery in hopes that they would have some good scones for me to take home (oh how I miss Great Harvest scones.) But after driving all over Salem to find the one single GH that was open on Sunday my search turned up only a loaf of apple crunch bread. Not entirely a failed hunt, just not exactly what I had hoped for.  And then I wondered what on earth we would do with the rest of our time as the Great Harvest adventure only killed about 30 minutes.  So, while driving through town en route to the bakery, I spotted the Salem mall sky bridges and tried to sell them to my kids.

"I know you don't want to keep looking for the bakery... but if you just be patient and behave then maybe we can go walk along those bridges!!" I said to them with (feigned) excitement.  They both looked up as we drove beneath one and exclaimed with awe "REALLY?!"


Only a mom can make a sky bridge in the mall seem like an amusement park ride.  So we strolled, we got a pretzel, we stayed out of the stores (because one step into one reminded me why I don't take my children to the mall), and we watched the rain fall from the awesome view of the sky bridge.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Gentle Giant

Though he's strong in so many ways, when it comes to being a father he can be so gentle.  It fills a special place in my heart to see him so sweet and loving to his kids.  His girls in particular have him wrapped around their fingers.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

A Mother's Nightmare

There is nothing in the world like the fear that comes over you when you think your child is missing.  It can last only minutes but feel like hours.  And then there's the overwhelming joy of finding them mixed with the anger that they would stray from you...

On day 3 of our camping trip we ventured out as a group to the beach to kill time.  It was late afternoon and we had 6 adults, 7 walking children and 2 babies between us.  The kids were jumping in the waves and building sandcastles with grandpa and Aubrey had already been knocked over by a couple of small incoming waves.  So my fear had already been set in place as I watched (carrying Violet in the front pack) my 5-year-old struggle to get up as the ocean pulled her back down.

I am not a paranoid person in general but when that mothering instinct kicks in, my panic level can rise in mere seconds.  I stood talking to my sister-in-law watching Joe stand ankle deep in the waves by himself, the kids playing in the sand making castles.  Then something made me scan our little crowd more intensely and my heart started racing as I tried to calmly ask "Um... Joe? Where is Aubrey?"

Looking back all I can think is "how did he stay so calm?!"

He did a quick scan as he said "she's..." and then paused at a loss for an answer.

The racing continued in my chest as all of the adults began glancing around yet coming up short.  And then the panic set in.  I lost my breath and felt pain in my chest.

"Maybe she went to the bathroom?" my dad asked.  But the bathroom was a far walk over the hill and through the parking lot and she never would have attempted that trek herself.

The panic worsened as the only thing I could see in my mind was my precious 5-year-old daughter being tossed around in the ocean, having been pulled out by a wave when no one was watching.  And I fell to my knees.  I looked to the sky and prayed to God that I was overreacting.  I screamed.  A guttural sound I had never made before (that my brother would later note he could hear from the bathroom a good 1/4 mile away.)

My sister-in-law asked what she was wearing.  And after a string of "I don't know, I don't remember, oh my god I'm a horrible mother, um, shorts and a pink shirt?" I dug deep to remember... "ORANGE AND BLACK! She's wearing her Beavers sweatshirt!"

My dad ran back to the house, my brother stood outside the women's bathroom yelling her name, my sister began asking the small groups near us if they had seen her.  It wasn't that crowded and we were in a spot where the beach stretched about a mile in each direction (having gotten up early for a morning run, I could make this accurate analysis.) We all yelled her name.  Then I spotted a small person near another group of people down the beach (by my earlier analysis they must have been at least a half a mile away) and I asked Joe "is that her?!" And he ran.  I've never seen him run so fast.  But at the same time that I watched the small child walk back towards the small crowd and assumed she had to be with them, I watched his pace slow as he assumed the same thing.  And I cried.

Then he picked up his pace and started running once more and the pain and panic I felt were replaced by relief.  It was her and he was bringing her back. The tears never stopped as Lindsay (also carrying her baby in a front pack) and my sister wrapped their arms around me in support.  I hugged her tightly and knew that her tears were more from our reactions than from her own fear.  She had wandered, distracted by the sand and seashells.  To her it was simple and she would never understand the gravity.  I asked "were you scared?" she said "no." I asked "did you know where we were?" she said "yes... I just hadn't found you yet..." And when my brother returned from his search to see that she had been found, I couldn't help bursting into hysterical tears. Someone called my dad to let him know to stop searching.  I shook with emotion as my little brother wrapped his arms around me, his own tears falling slowly, whispering gently "she's ok... she's ok... she's ok."

The beach fun was pretty much over for that day and the mood was somber for the rest of the evening.

And I will forever remember that moment as the day my life was turned upside down and back again in the matter of just a few minutes.    

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Grassick Family Camping 2014

So last year's camping trip (that went unblogged due to my lack of motivation for the year of 2013!) held the discussion of trying out a new adventure for 2014.  There would be 2 new additions (baby Violet and baby Hawthorne) that would make the prospect of tent camping a challenge.  So we discussed the option of renting a house instead, giving us the comforts of bedrooms, bathrooms and a kitchen but still enjoying our family camping comforts (campfire, camp food, and adventures.)  And after much deliberation, Dad settled on a house on the Northern California coast between Crescent City and Brookings.  July 2-6 filled with adventure, fun, laughs, love and memories. (And while my brother may veto the posting of the above photo for the look on his face, I have to make note that, out of 12 attempted shots I chose this one for the following reasons: besides Joey, everyone else is at least looking at the camera and the majority are smiling... It was one of the only photos where his son *bottom left* was not fidgeting... Nadine had her eyes closed in almost every other shot... and while he looks like he's just caught a whiff of a fart, I believe it also captures his true personality, I love you Joey and this shot reminds me why ;)

After arriving on Wednesday, texting each other along the way, racing to be the first, choosing room assignments, unpacking, hugs, and smiles, we took the kids on a quick walk to the beach, ate dinner in exhaustion and rested up for the next day's adventure of Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.  It was an amazing day spent in awe of the beauty of such magnificence.  Hiking, picnicking, bridge crossing, rock skipping. The weather was perfect and the day ended with "redneck night" whose all-too-real costumes brought a whole new level to the newly added "theme nights."

The following 2 days involved a trip to Battery Point Lighthouse (which was closed for the 4th of July), an in depth hunt through the tide pools, fireworks seen from the front yard, Crissey Field State Park, sand castle building and several rounds of Deer in the Headlights.  And when we said our goodbyes on Sunday we were already looking forward to next year.

Things I learned on this year's "camping" trip:
-you can still make staying in a house feel like camping
-it's called a "sea star" not a "starfish" :)
-the ice cream ball is real... it's not something Joey made up just to mess with us
-ants like Triple Sec and they will get all up in that business and stagger around drunk or drink themselves to death
-getting up to go for a run on the beach in the morning is both delightful and awful at the same time
-there is something touching and awe-inspiring about standing hand-in-hand with family around a giant redwood
-my baby's cuteness can make people forgive the fact that she was also the resident alarm clock
-Shawna is a baby whisperer and her heart is filled with love for her little cousins
-the reason Shawna can accurately remember the rules to Deer in the Headlights is because she's the only one not drinking (how did this not occur to me before?!)
-putting on fake mustaches will make you laugh. Every. Time.
-there is nothing like losing your daughter on the beach to show you how much your family loves you and would do anything for you
-there is an un-measurable value in making lifelong memories with family