Monday, February 28, 2011

The "Flats" - An Endangered Species...

Once upon a time the Bear family was looking forward to the wedding of their oldest grandbear Adam, to his beautiful wife Alexis. We had our travel plans. We had hotel reservations. We were meeting up with our Jam-Texan Bears and spending the weekend together.

Momma Bear, however, was having separation anxiety. The summer trip for the family would be without Baby Bear. Baby Bear was spending the summer salmon fishing in Alaska with Cousin Bear (because after all, salmon is a favorite food of the Bear family). The annual family trek to the coast with the Oregon Bears would be without two of our Bears. It seemed all of Momma Bear's hopes for a weekend together were not to be...

Momma Bear and Darling Boo Bear chatted up a plan. We created the "Flat Cousins".

The "Flat Cousins" - Flat TK and Flat Tichard dressed in their bow ties for a Bear family wedding.

Flat Tichard and Flat TK with the bride Alexis and groom Adam

Flat TK with niece Jay, sister Nee and sister-in-law Burt.

The "Flat Cousins" in the Bear family picture.

Lovely Sister Boo Bear kept close tabs on Flat TK throughout the years. Everyone knows how close our family is and how we like to spend time together. Flat TK loves to travel with his big Sister Boo Bear.

Even lil T loves to hang out with Flat TK - one of lil T's favorite uncles!

Flat TK loves to pose with Papa and Momma Bear.

This past summer Flat TK joined once again at the ocean for the Bear family camp out at the beach. The cold weather didn't bother Flat TK. He got cozy every night in his tent.

Kalaloch beach - Papa Bear, Momma Bear, Sister Boo Bear and Flat TK. Everyone loves to hang out on the beach logs.

Flat TK couldn't resist the opportunity to visit Forks. He begged and begged until everyone agreed to go along. Flat TK is such a Twilight-nerd!

Flat TK and Sister Boo Bear beach combing at Kalaloch.

After a long hike to Sol Duc, Flat Krieg, nephew lil' T Bear and Sister Burt Bear stopped for a photo op.

In fact, Flat TK was having sooo much fun he decided to create his own Spacebook account so he could share stories and pictures of all of his adventures.

Flat TK is always such a great help around the house. He jumped right in when Sister Boo Bear wanted to make cookies.

What can I say... Flat TK is one of those guys who just won't let weather keep him down! He's truly "one of a kind" - like an endangered species!

Friday, February 25, 2011

We have a plan...

Our only daughter is getting married Saturday, September 24th, 2011. Wow.

I suppose it's something we've thought about over the years, but honestly I don't think I've really had visions of our daughter walking down the church aisle on her father's arm, in a long white dress, and her beautiful face demurely covered by a white veil, organ music setting the mood- perhaps Pachabel Canon in D - the scent of flowers heavy in the air.

Nope. Realistically I think my thoughts of Erin marrying included bare feet, toes in the sand, laughter, tons of smiles, sunshine, a breeze off the water and did I mention laughter?!

Since Chris and Erin's engagement was announced in December we've been making wonderful progress. Or at least it feels that way. Maybe I don't know any different. I recall early on telling someone about the engagement and I was met with a "shaking head and heavy heart" as they wished me luck to survive such a stressful year. Really? Thanks.

The bride and groom-to-be both had ideas but no opportunities to put things together. When they drove to Boise in January for the Wedding Show, Erin had Chris' undivided attention for the six hour trip and they walked thru everything. When they arrived they knew where, when, who and even discussed reception food. We had a blast at the Wedding Show. Matt and Britnee joined us for moral support. We kept busy signing the couple up for freebies and contests. We got decorating ideas, tasted some yummy samples but nothing too much would help as the wedding venue would not be local.

When we watched the fashion show I wasn't overwhelmed with any of the dresses until one model came out - Matt looked at me and said "that one looks like my sister". It brought tears to my eyes. Maybe it was Matt's noticing too or maybe it was sleep deprivation. Needless to say after the show we went back to the booth for that particular store and made an appointment for Erin to try the dress on Monday.

Being new to this whole scene, we didn't have a clue and after a family lunch our first stop was a bridal store. Ha - us and 90 other brides-to-be, their moms, sisters, bestest friends and second cousin's neighbor's niece. I'm certain we had that 'deer in the headlights' look but were assured we could make an appointment for the next day. We did.

The part we didn't think through was the fact we had an early afternoon appointment on a Sunday - during football season - when the Packers were doing well - AND playing, of all teams, Da Bears!

I have absolutely no remorse. Yes I admit I was watching for updates from family in Wisconsin and at home. I was watching my ESPN Sportscenter for highlights. But so was the bride-to-be, the associate helping her AND three or four other groups in the store. All of us waiting for the next "dinkle dink" on my phone alerting us to a new score change.

Now, back to the dress. We are not shoppers. We don't hang out at the mall. Erin told me she'd picked some dresses in their catalog but only wanted to try on 5-6. She didn't think she'd even get that far. The first couple didn't suit her well. They were beautiful but not Erin. She tried on one with an Empire waist and it was gorgeous. Then she tried on one with an A-line waist. No lie - heads turned. Other groups watched - everyone said they liked that one. Erin told me she felt like a bride in the dress and my eyes filled with tears. I have tons of pictures. You should see... oh never mind. I can't show you.

Our wonderful assistant took down all the info. She talked Erin into trying a veil that looked perfect. We discovered a miniature bride dress that matched for the Flower Girl. We left feeling quite happy with ourselves. Erin was determined to try on the 'show dress' the next morning before leaving town because it just looked so perfect.

The next dress experience wasn't quite so positive. The dress prices started almost double the first store. The 'show dress' wasn't available in a size that fit well on Erin so she was told to 'imagine' how it would hang. They were helpful enough to give her a website and phone number she could use to call around and see if another store in the state had the same dress in a slightly larger size for the "image". Erin was frustrated. I felt her disappointment. I talked her into returning to the first store and trying on the other dress - just one more time - before heading north.

Upon our return the store attendants graciously set her up in a changing room, located the dress, and when she came out she had tears in her eyes she said "Mom I'm done looking. This is the dress I want." So... we had a dress.

Naturally our tree hugging, barefoot, recycling, outdoorsy girl wants to get married on the beach. There was some deliberation about which beach but the answer became obvious when they looked into their hearts. Erin loves Kalaloch and Chris loves Erin. Ok so he also loves Kalaloch too. Kalaloch holds such a special spot in our family's hearts. Mike's parents and brother's cremains were scattered there. Family has been staying there for over 60 years. We had a 'where'.

Erin knew she wanted to use blue hydrangeas and white lilys for arrangements, corsages and boutonnieres. The hydrangeas are lovely and grow all around the Lodge at Kalaloch. Britnee, Erin and I went out to buy a handful of silk flowers to play. We have simple ideas for decorations and have already started making a few flower arrangements.

'Save the date' cards went into the mail this week. Chris and Erin picked a couple of pictures from Kalaloch and did a little photo-shop to create their message. My first order for postcards from Snapfish wasn't sized right and the messages were cut off. My second attempt went better. Our creative daughter came up with the idea of using some of the postcards to make refrigerator magnets. I took it a step further and made some bookmarks out of the other scene. They turned out so cute and we didn't waste them entirely.

Reservations for lodging are done. Wedding attendants are on board. Girls have plans to come to the big city over Spring Break for dress shopping. Our wonderful daughter-in-law Debbie shared wedding "been there done that" tips with us and she's dialed in to cater a simple reception in one of the rented cabins AND help us get the cake. Our 'couple' has asked Dad to make some of his wine. He has started the bride's favorites - a Riesling, a white Zinfandel and a Merlot. We even found the perfect shade of blue bottles.

Erin and Chris have a friend, a former Vandal from U of I, who is a photographer in Seattle. He's been contacted and signed on for our wedding pictures because, apparently, the Mother of the Bride can't be the photographer!

I remember in January, as we walked through their plans, thinking September was so far down the road. I thought it's good to pace ourselves but we don't want to get too far ahead. Suddenly it's the end of February. Where did the time go already? Spring break is just 3 weeks away. Erin, Chris and Krieg will be walking mid-May for graduation. Krieg will head off to Alaska for a summer of fishing and we will be working on some smaller things, as well as getting invites in the mail. Our talented daughter-in-law Britnee is going to paint the cover for the wedding program and help with flower arrangements. I keep thinking this should feel more stressful. Don't worry. I'm not kidding myself into a dream-like state. I know we have a full plate ahead of us but I also know our daughter - she's a lot like her mom. And I know there is a list somewhere that has it all covered too!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Happy Birthday Papi!

Twenty five years ago today our oldest son was born. We had only recently moved to Springfield, Virginia, unpacked into a rental house, found new OB doctor and was settling into the required classes we were to take in preparation for our tour in Venezuela.

Mike fretted over the traffic in Washington DC, fearful we'd be trying to get around the Beltway with me in heavy labor. Matthew chose his arrival carefully. He waited for Grandma Denie to arrive from Wisconsin. He allowed us a shopping day at the Mall. Then in the middle of the night my water broke. Knowing this was going to be awhile I folded some laundry, emptied the dishwasher and left a note for my mom and Erin who were going to end up entertaining our cousins driving down from Maryland for a visit that day.

Matthew was a big boy. He gave us a scare when his shoulders wouldn't pass. After sufficient attention to problems, we delivered a 10lb. 6-1/2 oz 22" baby boy. He was taken to the NICU because he was at risk. In comparison to the preemies and much smaller newborns, he looked nearly full grown. He also had the appearance of a prized boxer. His face was black and blue. His little ears were folded down and scrunched against the side of his head where his shoulders pushed. He ended up staying a couple of extra days in the hospital because he was so jaundice. Poor Denie. Matt was released the day she was scheduled to fly home and back to work. She spent an entire afternoon sitting and holding her first grandson before she had to leave.

Matthew has always been our creative child. The artist. The builder. The helper. Legos. Yard work. Building projects. When little he was my cuddler. Mornings spent with him tucked in against my side while we woke up.

It seemed if something would go wrong, it involved Matthew too. He went over the front of his bicycle handlebars when we lived in Puerto Rico, chipped his front teeth and shredded his mouth. He wore road rash later in Wisconsin from a wipeout in the driveway. He fell from a second story roof working just a couple years ago.

Matthew has made some wonderful drawings. We framed many and kept them for years before "allowing" him his art back. I envy his talent.

Matthew is sensitive to other people. He is caring and loving. I'm so proud when I see him with his son Taten. It constantly makes me smile. He has always been so gentle and patient with him. I see how he takes such good care of his wife Britnee and Taten. I'm so certain it isn't from the example I led as I know I'm not that good of a person.

I love you Matthew. You are a wonderful man. I'm very proud of the person you have become. You are truly a blessing to our family!

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Next Generation...

Soon-to-be parents Alexis and Adam
Proud new Grandma Debbie and her son Adam with Ava
She looks like her daddy!

Our beautiful first GREAT grandchild.

Introducing Ava Grace. Our extra-special Valentine.