Our Family

Our Family

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fall is for Football

In Wisconsin, teachers always look forward to the end of October.  There is always a teacher convention and we get two days off to go to the convention....or if you go to enough other professional development activities throughout the year, you get two days all to yourself.  As I am sure you can guess, Andrew and I always make sure to get the two free days.  

This year, we decided to take a trip.  We first though about heading somewhere down south to get out of the cold or even out west.  We couldn't figure out where to go, so then we thought about finding a sweet football game to go to.  We looked to see if Alabama or LSU or Oregon had any good games, but they didn't so then we thought we would try something closer to home--A Big 10 Game.  We saw that Penn St. had a big game against Michigan and decided to head out to State College, PA, Andrew's birth place, to watch the game and see some great friends.

We flew out to Pittsburgh and spent about a day in Pittsburgh.  The second we got into the car, we headed downtown to go to Primanti Bros., only the most famous sandwiches of Pittsburgh.  Boy, we were not disappointed.  I had the Pitts-burgher cheese steak and Andrew had the corned beef.  If you haven't heard of these sandwiches, they are something to write home about.  It is your choice of meat with cheese, cole slaw, fries and tomatoes--Delicious!  I also had a craving for cheese fries, so I ordered MORE fries.  Andrew was like, seriously, do you not understand the sandwich you just ordered?  Here's a look at our wonderful experience at Primanti Bros., the play-by-play...
Look at that sandwich....
I could barely get my mouth around it.
Andrew, on the other hand, had no problem.  He was in sandwich heaven.
Andrew had no problem finishing his. 
I didn't do so well.  Andrew did end up finishing mine though.

We stayed downtown Pitt and asked the concierge where to spend the evening.  We had heard the Strip was a cool place, but he told us to hold off until the morning.  He then recommended heading to the South Side.  He suggested several bars to check out.  We started at one called Smokin' Joe's.  We enjoyed a nice beer and some delicious wings then our waitress told us a couple other places to hit up.  We thought we would do a mini bar crawl and headed to Fat Heads, the next bar.  We ended up getting seats at the bar and stayed there the rest of the night.  Fat Heads is a brewery and also had about 50 other beers on tap.  We had another snack and enjoyed several beers the rest of the night.  The bartender was awesome...we would ask about a beer and the next second, we would have a sample in front of us.  Between the two of us, we probably had 2 whole beers in samples.  It was great.  We made friends with the guys sitting next to us and had a great evening.  And to end it all, the hotel had a shuttle that picked us up outside the bar.  It was fabulous!  
The beer list.
 Loving Pittsburgh.
Andrew is convinced that Pittsburgh is the greatest city ever, OK, maybe not the greatest, but he LOVED it!  Everyone we met was so helpful and for as much crap as we heard about Pitt sucking, we really, REALLY enjoyed ourselves. 

We ended our trip in Pittsburgh with breakfast in the strip district.  Nothing too special, just more food. 

We then headed out east to State College.  After about a 3 hour drive, we drove into downtown State College and enjoyed a hot beverage and shopping for some PSU gear.  The downtown area is super cute, and kinda reminds us of Iowa City.  

We stayed with very, VERY good family friends Darrin, Linda and Layla. We met Darrin at their house to get Layla off the bus (she's in first grade) and headed to Blue Band practice.  We toured their beautiful facilities and watched them prepare their show for Saturday.  To give you an idea of their band building, they have locker rooms and each person has a locker, just like the football players.  It is pretty unbelievable.  It was rather cold and windy, so we didn't last long.  We headed back for dinner and went to the Rally in the Valley.   

We just HAD to get a picture with the lion.
 In our Rally gear.  Thanks for the Ts D!
 The Great Joe Paterno--two games short of win 400.  His speech was actually legible and quite a hit.  They even talked about it on ESPN.  "I'll bring the meatballs!"  Here's the video, take a look.
On Saturday we got to experience the great tailgating scene that is PSU.  We were all about cheering for the Lions.  We met other wonderful family friends, the Grants, for tailgating.  And as can be expected, Ann and Gary, had a lovely spread for breakfast and lunch.  They really know how to do it.  With Laurie graduating from PSU in 2010 and Mark and Elisa being sophomores, they have had plenty of experience.  They had the whole thing down to a science.  With it being a night game, we tailgated for a good 10 hours.  It was awesome!  

Along with spending some quality time with some very old friends, we're talking, over 20 years, we enjoyed the local beer, Yuengling, looking at old pictures and some fun tailgating games--we taught them our new favorite game BOOM!.  PSU really knows how to do it...almost as good as IC...almost.  
Our wonderful hosts-Linda and Darrin
 My girl Layla.  She looks WAY cuter in the lion hat.

 Look!  I met Joe Pa!
 Enjoying the scene.

Laurie showed us around, took us to some other crazy tailgates and then we went to the TailGREAT!  It's like the Rec show that the HMB does, but they call it the Tail Great.  It's where the band plays some songs and does a little show before the game.  It got us inside after being outside in the cold all day.
Laurie showing us how it's done....1-2-3 Chug!  I'm sure our parents would be proud.
All the kids at the Tail Great---Laurie, Mark, Elisa, Me and Layla.
 Me with Ann and Layla.

At the game, Darrin scored us some awesome, I mean AWESOME, seats.  We were on the 45 yard line about 20 rows up.  We have never, ever had seats this good to anything.  They were incredible.  It was great to see a game at Beaver Stadium.  The whole student white out thing was pretty cool, the atmosphere was intense and the Lions beat Michigan.  It was an great game.  

In our seats staying warm.  I was ready for the white out.
 Couldn't this be a postcard picture. 

Overall, it was a phenomenal trip.  We had such a great time in Pittsburgh and State College and seeing our friends.  We have already talked about heading out east again for the Penn St.-Iowa game.  It's on October 8th, 2011, so I think we will keep our calendars clear--State College better watch out...it's gonna be a Hawkeye invasion! 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Fall Preview

Wow, a lot has happened in the 3 months since our kitchen remodel.  It's been super crazy and I haven't had a chance to update the blog.  I was working on our We Have a Dream post and really didn't get a chance to update you on anything else we have done.  

It has actually been a very busy fall.  Since Labor Day, we have had something out of town every weekend except 2.  I will just do a quick preview of what our fall has included as to catch up to present time. 

My 27th Birthday Dinner at Fresco.  Me and my beautiful mom.
We went to the Grubby Lake House in Green Lake, WI.  I got to spend quality time with my favorite 1-year old, Hayden.
We took a trip to Iowa City for Homecoming-Iowa vs. Penn State. 
Lots of our friends were there!
We LOVE the Hawks--especially when they win!
Look at that awesome black-gold striping!  We didn't think they could pull it off, but it was awesome!
Evan and Chelsea got married in Dubuque, IA.  If you remember right, they met at our wedding.  Such a beautiful day.
We Surprised James for his 30th birthday with a night in Chicago.

Phew, I think that's it for now.  I will have a post on our trip to Penn State soon.  Hope you enjoyed a quick preview of our fall.  It was super fun and super busy.  We are looking forward to winter where we can settle down and enjoy some time at home.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

We Have a Dream...

As you may or may not know, Andrew and I have a dream.  We created this dream in 2005 when we first started dating.  Andrew and I met while working as camp counselors for Banner Day Camp, or as we like to say driving school buses.  Enough reminiscing about our earlier days.

Anyway, when Andrew and I first started to get to know each other, we realized we have a lot of the same values and morals and hopes for the futures.  One of those hopes has turned into our dream which we are starting to think can actually come true.  You're probably like, just tell us what it is already. 

Our Dream: To start a camp for students with special needs.

The REAL reason we moved to Madison was to hopefully get this dream up and running.  We thought Madison, while being more liberal, would also be more accepting and cheaper for us to get our foot in the door, or camp tent for that matter. While we LOVE Madison and still feel this is a place where we could open up camp, this past year, the whole camp idea has gotten even that much closer to reality.  

We have recently come across some land in the finger lakes region of New York.  Kelly, my dad's wife, and her family have acreage in Clifton Springs, NY.  This summer, we got a chance to see that land with my dad and Kelly.  We got to stay with Grammy, Kelly's 95 year old grandma.  She lives in an old 100-year old farm house just on the edge of this land.  We also met Jack and Trudy, Kelly's parents.  Jack was the one who designed our beautiful kitchen.  It was great being able to thank him for the phenomenal plans.

The Group--Ange, Dad, Me, Kelly, Grammy, Jack and Trudy.

On a side note, I made him a scrapbook of our renovation.  They do not have Internet and were unable to follow the progress online, so I printed the posts and put them into a book.  He loved it and felt like he was actually there.

Back to our trip....we got to explore the farm and land.  Clifton Springs is a small town, of about 2,300 people.  About halfway between Rochester and Syracuse, it would be a central location for campers and it has a top-notch Hospital right in town.

Along with the several week camp, our dream has sky rocketed and we hope to have wine tours, ski weekends, music camps (my dad's dream), executive retreats, weddings, etc.  You name it, we'd love to use this land for all of that and more.  Just to keep us busy the whole year.

Here are some pictures from our trip.  We really got to visualize what the camp could look like.  It was great to see the land.
The 100-year old Farm House
 Looking out on the land from the house.  The white fence is the pool.
 The biggest of the 3 ponds.  Such a beautiful view.
 The Apple and Pear Orchard.
 Walking through the paths.  Grammy made Andrew and Dad carry clubs, just in case we came across a crazy, dangerous animal.
 Just imagine a cabin here.
 A Mennonite-made cabin.  Can't you just picture this in the woods with banners reading, Brown's Cabin, or The Hawkeye Cabin, or "Your Name Here" Cabin.
  One of the many things in Clifton Springs dedicated to Kelly's Grandpa, Johnny Brown.  This was a beautiful park with brand new baseball fields (Johnny was a big ball player and coach), playground equipment, bathrooms and a pavilion.
Along with touring the farm, we also got a chance to tour the Finger Lakes Area.  We got a chance to see several of the local wineries.  
Jack and Trudy, Kelly's parents, live right on Seneca Lake and we were lucky enough to see their adorable lake cottage with beautiful views.  It was a bit rainy, but very cozy.  

It was a great trip and we can't wait to go back.  We got to see it in August, we can only imagine what it would look like in the middle of the Fall.  We are extremely lucky to have this opportunity.  Please check back and see what progress we have made with our dream.  

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Reveal!!

The moment, you've all been waiting for....dun, dun, dun....

Sorry it has taken so long, it has been quite the whirlwind the past month.  I got the new first grade job and spent about 24/7 in my classroom, we took a trip to New York (post to come) and we are going into our third week of school. 

We will start with the lovely work of Patti Sutton (Andrew's mom) who made all of our window treatments.  Andrew helped pick out the fabrics, and I LOVE them all. 

Here's the cover for the side door.

Here is the roman shade for the new back door.

And the valance for the window above the sink and the new light fixture.

And now, the Bessick 2010 Kitchen Reveal...drum roll please....

View 1

View 2

We absolutely LOVE our new kitchen.  We got the counter tops and immediately left for New York, so we did not get to use the new kitchen until we returned.  Now, we have broken it in and cluttered it.  But every time we walk in, we admire our hard work.  

We still have some things to do including the new light fixture and installing the pot rack, but it is completely livable.  We are waiting to complete these tasks until my dad can help us so we can get them just right.  So there may be a couple more posts with updates, but I know you were all waiting for this one.  We hope you enjoy it and have enjoyed watching our process.  I love all the comments and have enjoyed blogging about the process too.  Just a side note: the pictures do not give it justice--so you will just have to come and see if for yourself. 

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Got Squash?


Almost There

As summer school came to a close, I made a HUGE change in my career.  I will now be a first grade teacher.  So with all that excitement, it has taken us several weeks to finish the small projects  that we still had.  

Needless to say, we still have some things to do, but we are getting closer.  Here's a look at the couple of things we have taken on, by ourselves I might add-Dad wasn't here to fix our mistakes.  

We got a brad/staple nailer to do all the trim.  We had a hard time with just the nail and brad and do save ourselves some aggravation, we decided to get a nailer.  Boy, did that make it a lot easier.
Andrew felt very manly!

Did I say it made things easy?!?!

I got to use the jig saw to cut some more molding.  I felt very womanly!
We put all of our appliances in.  It made it feel more like a kitchen!
We love the fridge placement!
We also started to load our cabinets.  We finally got to unpack all of our wedding glasses.
We have a lot of dishes.

We painted the hallway.  We were a little nervous though.  You know us, we ALWAYS test paint samples before painting (remember our 6 kitchen options?!?)  Anyway, we got a couple samples and didn't like either of them, we knew we wanted something darker, so we just went with a shade darker, no test.  
The results: we love it!

So that's it for now.  This weekend we plan on installing the threshold between the wood floors of the living room and the tiles of the kitchen.  Put up our new, beautiful curtains, made by Patti, Andrew's mother.  And just give the house an overall good clean. 

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