Monday, August 30, 2010

Family vacation in Sunriver

Our Family Vacation - East and West Coast Herman's
the recap - it's a long one

I always get hung up blogging after a trip because it feels a little overwhelming to write a post that does the trip justice. But if there is one thing I have learned as a not professional blogger, it is that it is better to post a post not doing an event justice than to wait, or not post at all (ahem, Lily's 5th birthday party!).

Lawrence's parents and his brother arrived with the twins in tow on Friday afternoon, my sister-in-law and oldest neice arrived on Friday night and we picked up 2 rental cars for our caravan to Sunriver. Saturday morning (Day 1) after loading a trailer (and I do mean TRAILER)
full of stuff, a quick trip to VooDoo Donuts, and packing up coolers of food, we were off. When we were pulling out of our driveway, Addie said, "Okay, evwebody, weddy to wok and wool". Very funny, little girl, who desperately needed a nap yet only slept for 30 minutes of the 4 hour drive.

We all arrived at the house a little before check in, about 3:30pm.
The kids got on the bikes straight away, and we all unloaded and claimed bedrooms. The house had 5 master bedrooms and we figured out sleeping arrangements that worked for everyone. Bryson was happy in the closet of our master, and the girls were thrilled to sleep in the kids bunk room with their cousins.
Tyler was thrilled to finally have a boy to hang out with. Though I think a year from now he will love it even more. He was hoping to teach Bryson how to pee standing up. We got half way there, Bryson DID learn to pull himself up fully to a standing position this trip! We couldn't resist getting cute boy cousin pictures in matching clothing. Bryson was even happy about it!
Day 2, since the temperature was forecast to be a high of 69, included a trip to the High Desert Museum. It wasn't exactly what I was expecting, but it was cool. Lily really enjoyed the presentation about the Birds of Prey and was taking a million pictures with her camera. There were a bunch of neat interactive type exhibits and I was impressed with the types of questions she was asking. We ran into some friends from Portland, which was funny and unexpected. The kids ran and played and got dirty. They also enjoyed an exhibit where they got to scrub the wood floor of an old farm house. Go Figure.We tried to push Addie through her nap without luck, she fell asleep in the stroller for a few minutes only to wake up a screaming monster version of her self. Good thing we were on our way out of the museum as it was. She screamed the rest of the way back to the house, (about 20 minutes) and when we got there, I took advantage of her overtiredness to give us both a much needed nap, cuddling together. I guess Lawrence, Julia, and the in-laws had the rest of the kids, but I was so busy snoring and drooling in Addie's hair that I couldn't say for sure. At around 5:30 pm I knew I needed to wake her or she'd never go to bed that night. So I took the opportunity to take some sleeping photos of her. Lawrence came in to wake us both and found me awake, standing on the bed snapping photos. :)

That night before bed, Lawrence, Lily, Julia, Addie, and I took a long bike ride. It was nice. I hadn't ridden a bike for a while. Fun. Addie rode in the trailer, Lily rode on her own (still with training wheels) and Bryson stayed with Grandma while we relived bike riding childhood memories with our girls.
Lawrence and I managed to have a lot of fun together on this trip. We got along awesome and were both in a very good frame of mind with a relaxed attitude. See what taking away work does for the soul?!

Day 3 started like most others, Uncle Mark making yummy breakfast sausage for everyone while I fumbled with my coffee, and dripped vanilla creamer all over the floor due to a mutilated lid. :) Then we bathed the children, who managed to get dirtier and dirtier earlier and earlier as the week went on. A surefire sign that fun is being had. It was COLD in the mornings, as low as 29 degrees one night, so the coffee and fireplace in the morning was great. Lawrence even went for a run and then jumped in the hot tub after that day. Something I planning to do each night but was collapsing with exhaustion after kids were in bed, so didn't. Exhaustion and dry skin! I was, we all were, very under packed in the lotion requirement department. High dessert. Cold and dry. A few times I spilled water on the kitchen floor and Lawrence was able to just mop it up with his dry feet. His joke, not mine. Anyway, that day, we also went to the park, sans our two little napping guys who stayed with Julia, and had sports fun with Lily.Jayme and I beat Lawrence and his dad in a soccer scrimmage (and that is REALLY sad considering I was wearing flip flops)! We played track ball, did the parachute, and once the little guys were awake, Julia call and we all packed up and went to the North Pool in the afternoon, Came home, had dinner and then did S'Mores that night.Bryson reading books with Grandpa before bed

Day 4. Tuesday. Overtired Addie asked to take a nap at 10:30am.
Since we didn't want to see the screaming monster inside our 25 pound blondie, we let her and I stayed home with her (can you say quiet house!) then she and I met the rest of the fam at the pool (we discovered the much better and WARMER South pool this time) after a solid two hours of sleep. Bryson again LOVED the pool, when I arrived he was just falling asleep and took a nap, wet, in his bathing suit, wrapped in towels in the stroller. Man, he was cute. When we got back to the house, we all got showered and ready for family pictures. Devin Miller arrived a few minutes early and we had 2 hours of photos taken. They were good, especially considering we had 6 kids and 7 adults, and it was hot and kids were tired and hungry. She had her work cut out for her, and everyone was rewarded for sort of smiling pretty with more S'Mores that night back home. Uncle Mark also found an old style popcorn popper with a big pot/crank and made some home made popcorn. It was yummy and we all agreed popcorn just tastes better when it's made that way!
Day 5 - Bikes, Pool, Picnics, Bikes, Pool, and not much else. We had a very good day. And that night, Mark, Laureen, Lawrence, and I had a night out. THANKS JULIA! It was fun to have some kidless time with them, and to be able to sit and talk uninterrupted. It's been 2 years since we had that with Lawrence's brother and his wife. Way too long. I think Day 5, Wednesday was my favorite day of the whole vacation. No plans, beautiful weather, good family, I thoroughly enjoyed it. We aren't at a stage of life where vacation is relaxing.
It's fun, but it is not restful. This would be the day that was the most restful day if there was one.

Day 6 - Played in PJs all morning with cousins. Addie and Tyler still have a really cute special bond and they can't get enough of each other. I found them playing school and reading books together in the loft, just the two of them. After naps, McMenimans's Francis School for happy hour in Bend. I might have given Bryson his first tater tot, and he might have really liked it. Before bed Addie asked me how many more nights left, I said, 2 counting tonight. She said, "But I tot we have a whole week". The boys smoked cigars after bed time and tried to soak it off in the hot tub.

Day 7 - Celebrated our niece's 10th birthday a day early.
Happy 10th Birthday Jayme!! In the morning, she went with her dad on a horse back ride, and our nephew gave everyone a scare with what ended in an urgent care trip for what turned out to be an asthma attack caused by partially by altitude sickness. Otherwise, the day was awesome. We played games, rode bikes, pulled the wagon, played ping pong (Lawrence REALLY enjoyed playing with his mom), foosball, and finally ate birthday cake and MORE S'MORES!! Before bed, I told Addie it was the last night, and she said, "But I still have one more pull up left". Ha! That was her Advent Calendar of the 7 nights of vacation. But she didn't bargain for us bringing an extra.
On the last day, we packed up - headed to Sunriver Lodge to take some pictures and then hit the road for the 4 hr drive home. We had one more dinner with Lawrence's family before they got on the red eye back to NJ.

At around 9pm that night I was beat, and I certainly was not jealous of the rest of the family who was just boarding, 4 tired adults with 3 tired kids. We were glad to have Sunday to clean up, do laundry, and regroup for the week ahead.

Thank you so much to Lawrence's parents. As the family grows and life gets busier and more expensive, time passes and it is difficult to see each other. We truly appreciate what they do to put a trip like this together for us all to see each other. Lily and Addie were broken hearted on Saturday night. Goodbyes have been plentiful as of late, and this one wasn't easy for them. They've looked forward to it all year and they loved the time with their cousins so much.

Friday, August 20, 2010

I mean, what would you do?

A few months ago Lily got a letter from The Cheetah Conservation Fund. She thought it was so she could sign up to do the half mile fun run again, but instead it was asking for donations. I explained that to her, and she wanted to give some out of her "giving" bank.

Aside: Lily earns a dime each for various chores that she does through the week as a "commission" and she has 3 banks; saving, spending, and giving, we don't stipulate a percentage of what she has to put in each, at this point we just are trying to get her to understand the principle that the money she earns should be allocated between those three. She freely choses to put it where she wants as long as she puts something in each one.

I told her she could and forgot about it.

She kept bringing it up at the worst times. I'd have hands loaded on my way out the door for the day, or I'd be nursing Bryson, on my way out of her room after the 40 minute night time rituals and book reading, or on the pot...she'd be saying the same thing. "Mama...remember we have to give money to help the Cheetahs".

My response always the same, "Oh, uh, yes, honey we will do that, just not right this minute".

Aside: I still say, "In a minute, honey" about 50x a day...

So here's the dilemma.

I finally told her to put the amount out of her giving bank into the envelope that she wanted to give to the cheetahs. "Well, how will they know it's from me?". "Um, oh, see right here, it says your name, just write the amount you are giving right on the letter next to your name, and we'll mail it in, all together".

I figured I'd write a check and mail it off for her.

She worked so hard on that three.

She forgot about it for a few days, then asked, "Hey mom, we forgot to send that Cheetah money". "Oh, I already did it, honey" I lied. Meanwhile I stashed the whole packet of too much change in an envelope and the donation solicitation letter in my room and forgot about it.

But in my attempt to declutter, heh, my room the other day. I found it. As I put it off to the side and in one pile, I got annoyed. THIS IS WHY THERE IS CLUTTER EVERYWHERE.

So I took a picture of it like this.
And I did this.
Yes, I tore it up and put the change in the master change baggie.

Don't worry, I'll give her that change back for her giving bank. Those three dollars took 30 chores to earn.

Yeah, the cheetah people might have been able to put that three bucks to good use, buy part of an antelope calf or whatnot, but I work at home and am happy to have those small inches of desk space back in my bedroom that has become the dumping grounds of our home!

I put my foot down, no more, envelope of spilling out change, no more. One small step for the disaster on my desk, one giant step for, oh forget it, who am I kidding. I'm just trying to get some validation that i am not a terrible mother.

I mean, what would you do? Send it? Actually take the time to write out a check and find a stamp and get to a mail box and deposit the $3 in change into your checking account? Puh-lease! You guys, I am not super mom. Besides, I can teach her how to give charitably while keeping the money to regive in commissions, can't I? I said CAN'T I???!!!!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

I'm a soccer mom?

Lily starts soccer practice today, so I guess that officially makes me a soccer mom. She was pretty darn proud of her new shoes/ball/shin guards.

Not nearly as proud as her dad was when she asked him to "show me some soccer moves, daddy!"

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

In Eight Years

Today is our 8 year wedding anniversary. August 17th, 2002 is another day that changed my life. With the bizarrity of time, I'm not even sure if that sounds too long or too short.
  • 8 years
  • 96 months
  • 3 moves
  • 2 houses
  • 3 children in 5.2 years
  • 2 lawn mowers
  • 1 CPA license
  • 6 cars
  • 32 months of nursing and counting
  • 5,000,000 diapers (I guess I could add and counting to most of these!)
  • 5 hours of sleep a night, on average
  • 600 arguments about whose turn it is to wake up early tomorrow
  • 180 pounds gained and lost (some of that is pregnancy!)
  • 3 wedding rings (Lawrence wore a one size too small Titanium ring for 2 year before we got a bigger size!)
  • 5 vacations counting our honeymoon
  • 2 day care centers
  • 1 preschool
  • 3 nannies
  • 2 Au Pairs
  • 27 Ear Infections
  • 9 Bouts of Croup
  • 56 Pediatrician visits
  • 40,000 to do lists
  • 4 digital cameras
  • 2 computers
  • 200,000 pictures taken
  • 1 revisit to our wedding spot (on a foggy day, so you couldn't see the mountains!)
  • 1 broken foot
  • 1 lost job
  • Visited 13 states (Lawr is disappointed that we don't get to count the states before we were married!)
  • 3 Buckeye national championships (we were in AZ for the time they WON it!)
  • 2 Hood to Coast runs (Lawrence as the runner, me as the child care + loving wife!)
  • 13 - 5Ks - both of us
  • 3 Romp to Stomps (Snoeshowing for Breast Cancer)
  • 14 weddings
  • lots of wonderful friends made over the years
  • countless blessings
  • and 2 people still in love!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

8 months old

Dear Bryson,
Today you are 8 months old. I looked at your toes today while you fell asleep in the car next to me on the way home from your friend, Sullivan's first birthday party. We swam, we ate, we played, we laughed. Those toes were so fat and big with a chubby foot attached, I honestly would have bit down on them if I knew it wouldn't hurt you. Yummy. I carried your sleeping sweaty 20+ pound body up to your bed where you transferred like a dream. I stopped back and looked at you lying there on your side, and my breath caught as I soaked in the thought of how much I love you.

Today was a really good day. I NEEDED a really good day, and was so thankful for this day. You were so chill in the pool. In your little baby boat, it was your second time in it, and you just lay back, kick and chew on a toy. You make it look so relaxing and easy to be a baby in the pool.

You are all smiles all the time. Except when you're not, which is mostly only when you get strapped in your high chair and the food shoveling in hasn't began fast enough. Or when the music was too loud the other night at music in the park. Or when I come home from work and walk past you to wash my hands, and you start to cry like your feelings are hurt. I look back and say, "Just a second buddy, I have to wash my hands, I'll be right back." and you smile at me with teary eyes, like, okay mama but hurry. You are fine if I keep eye contact with you, but when I look away you get upset.

Your sisters were playing Peek-a-Boo with you tonight and had you laughing really hard. You also sat up on your own today from a tummy position. I think you've done it half way before, but this was really it. Lily babysat you today in quiet time for about 15 minutes, she took it very seriously. It was a big treat for her, one that she has been waiting and waiting for. Then Addie woke up from her nap, I told her to go downstairs but she heard you in the play room and joined you and Lily. When she opened the door, Lily said, "Me and Bryson are having QUIET time together" with such excitement.

You've been saying "Da da da da da da" a lot, sometimes "A da A da". Your sisters think you are saying Daddy and Addie. Lily wants to know when you will say Lily and Mama. Lily asked you a while ago who your best friend was and you said, "Dada" and she was so excited to tell Daddy that you think he is your best friend.

This week you said goodbye to Bean-Bean, the person who, other than mommy has spent the most time with you. You just smiled. You were happy that the whole family woke up extra early with you to take Bean-Bean to the airport. She was super sad to say good bye to you. She calls you her "buddy" or "Brysee".

We all call you Brysee.

Speaking of getting up early, you have been creeping your wake up time earlier and earlier. Usually around 5am. Then you've been waking up at night sometimes. WHAT IS THAT, DUDE? You've been sleeping through for the past 5 months, and NOW you are starting to wake up? This is stressing mommy out. We haven't really got into it yet, but let's just say your oldest sister didn't sleep, and mommy is somewhat TOTALLY obsessed with sleeping, or lack thereof. Anyway, last night was the first night in 2 weeks that I've gotten more than 5 hrs of sleep in a night (of course because Daddy decided he would get up with you, so you slept until 6:40, stinker).

I hope you are just excited about your new ability to army crawl super fast, or you have a tooth coming in, and this is just a phase. After I nurse you at 5am, you do NOT go back to sleep, you look up and start smiling your cute, one sided dimple smile at me, and then you pull my hair. Man, you have an ability to find the tiniest little pieces of hair to pull and it hurts. Everyone knows to keep hair away from your grubby little paws.

You really have taken to our new Au Pair, Julia. She LOVES you, it is obvious and you are doing very well for her. She's not quite sure what you are doing with your inconsistent naps, but who knows what you are doing with that? I couldn't be more pleased with how the two of you are doing. Especially with your new separation anxiety, I just wasn't sure if you'd be scared of her for a bit. You AREN'T. And it doesn't hurt that she is just great with you and you are happy all the time. On Thursday morning the girls were at playdates and VBS and I came down stairs to you and Julia climbing through a tunnel both laughing. It was really sweet.

Tomorrow we will try Yogurt. I'm nervous because when we tried Yogurt with Addie, that's when we found out about her milk allergy. You've been eating cheerios and bananas and watermelon for finger foods. You really like finger foods. You aren't that good at getting much into your mouth. With your sisters we had a Cheerio party on their 9 mth bday. Daddy, he LOVES Cheerios, eats them every single day, so the party is a rite of passage for him. I just gave you them one morning when you were yelling at me to hurry up with your oatmeal. I felt bad because he was really disappointed about that! :) You eat oatmeal with every meal.

Bryson, mommy wishes she had the brain power and time to write a more organized letter to you. I wish I would remember every month to take the pink doggy picture. I wish I bathed you more often. I wish I could capture more of the day to day wonderfulness you bring to my life. To all of the lives you are in. Did having you send me in to a tailspin of craziness for which I can't find my balance to save my life after 5 months of being back to work? YES! Is it so so so worth the overwhelmed out of controlness? Absolutely. You are amazing and wonderful. I'm so lucky to be your mommy. You happy little amazing man.

Thank you for everything,

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - My men

I can't be completely wordless here. We went camping at the beach a few weeks ago with MSCC and had a blast. Endless playing in the sand, riding bikes, eating dirt, and no schedules. Endless for about 29 hours! :) Enough to exhaust me and Lawr to the core, but the kids had so much fun that we couldn't have been happier to do it. Here are a few of my favorite guys.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Julia has arrived

Julia, our new German AuPair, arrived last night around midnight. Right now, she and Sabine are downstairs and the girls are laughing and having fun with her. I can hear giggling and laughing, and the occasional shriek of Addie or Lily saying, "JULIA!!!" Bryson is napping and they are waiting for him to wake up to go to the zoo.

Thanks for all the kind words yesterday. Sometimes I just stress out, feel overwhelmed to a point of being incapable of accomplishing much.

I felt very at ease as soon as I met Julia, she is kind and sweet and very enjoyable to be around. The kids were drawn to her immediately, though they are still doing that weird, roll around on the ground/act kind of crazy to show off thing in front of her.

Sabine moved all her stuff to the play room and we marvel at the HUGE mountain of stuff that a girl can aquire in just one year, as she wonders how in the world she will fit it in to her two suitcases. And the rules have changed. Julia was only allowed to bring one suitcase! Julia loved her new room and the girls made her a welcome sign plus Lily made some cool little butterflies to hang around. I ordered prints of a bunch of pictures of her friends and family that she had sent and hung them on her bulletin board.

Anyway, after a nice drive home from the airport and chat, and a glass of water, we both collapsed into bed after 1am. Bryson woke at 5, I fed him and Lawrence got up with him. THANKFULLY. So I got to sleep in until 7:30 after that.


2 parties and 2 goodbyes ahead. I can do this! But first, some coffee...

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Winds of change

Things will be changing again today.

I'm tired, and overwhelmed, and excited, and scared, and nervous, and sad, and happy.

I'm even a little superstitious I think. On the day Sabine arrived, Lawrence lost his job. On the day Tamara started as our nanny before that, I broke my foot. Both knocked us off our feet for 3 months. Pun intended. Heh. I'm downright scared of getting a new person to care for our children! :)

Julia comes today, I pick her up tonight at midnight. Sabine will still be here until Tuesday. Five more days. It's bizarre that this year went so fast. And what a year it was.

We lost a job, and got a job, and had a baby, and made it through a pretty life changing year. Nothing earth-shattering, but hard and different and great for us, nonetheless. It's nothing that hundreds or thousands of people aren't going through right now. And we had this girl, this young woman, who arrived, and lived with us, and experienced it all with us. Typical American life? The ups and the downs. She knows us. She KNOWS our kids. She was an extension of us and our love, discipline, and even frustrations with them. And at times, with each other. She was easy and kind and respectful. And she loved us. And we loved her. Love. Past and Present.
And future.

And now things will change.

A new girl, a young woman, is coming today. And she is going to experience the ups and downs of this year with us. We don't even know what they are yet. And I'm sure we will love her and she will love us. She will come to know us and vice versa. And it will be totally different, and totally great, and another chapter in our life.

With this change comes uneasiness for me. I'm happy about it, I'm sad about it. The beginning of one thing stems from the end of another thing.

And on top of it all I've got a lot on my plate. So I'm a little overwhelmed. To give you an idea. As I said before, Julia arrives tonight, tomorrow I have financial statements due to Mr. Gates, who, you know, just invested a lot of money into my little company, then I will food shop for the parties I am throwing this weekend. Yes, plural. On Saturday, my brother, Matt will arrive, we will prepare for Sabine's going away party and Julia's goodbye party. There are 29 people expected. At my house. Which is, by the way, messy and covered with smokey and sandy laundry from camping last weekend and swimming this week. And toys and towels and WEEDS in the backyard. On Sunday, I will say goodbye to Matt and then host a baby shower for my friend Shawna, together with her mom and another friend. On Monday, it's back to work for me, where the hardest worker in my staff is on vacation for 2 days. Tuesday I take Sabine to the airport at the crack of dawn. And somewhere in there I will get to know Julia and teach all the ways of the Herman house and family. And I haven't added Bryson to the handbook, yet, but I should since he requires the most time and effort. Other than Addie who has been nearly impossible as of late.

So my blog is run-on. And my heart is excited and sad. And my party might not be in an immaculate house. Or in a weedless yard. And the food might just be the basics. And the baby shower games might be played on regular paper rather than fancy paper. And the brownies made from a box. And the gift bought on the way. And I will meet my work deadline somehow, I always do. And Julia will be great, the kids will love her, they will give her a hard time at first, but they will love her. And Sabine's family can't wait to see her again. And Matt will be okay. And he WILL come home. And I have some of the best friends and women in my life, family too, some who live far away and support me no matter what. Who let me have that big long cry I needed to have on the phone rather than in their arms. And isn't it fun to be at the other end of THAT call. And, oh yeah, there is a vacation planned this month.

So if I can just make it one week. Things will settle and I can "relax".

And at the heart of it all, I have my Lawrence, my Lily, my Addie, & my Bryson. They are the faces that make the winds of change more carefree and full of hope of happy days to come.