Saturday, January 14, 2012

Tsunami 2011

     Tsunami! One of the great, fun, youth events that I used to look forward to each year! Great bands, great worship, great speakers, great friends... great fun! What's even better is that this year I lead a group of my own kids to the conference, and share with them one of the fun events from my past that has helped shape me. Last year, Grant and I took two girls with us and joined with our brother Dave's group from Bakersfield. This year, Grant said it would be a bit much for him, so I decided to take the girls on my own. But, I mentioned it to a friend, and she and her daughter were interested in going as well; the other girls started inviting some of their friends; and one of the new girls at church came with her friend as well. End the end we had nine people going... plus Abby!

     I was a little concerned taking Abby with me, but things worked out just fine. Because we ended up taking a few more students at the last minute, it allowed me to take my own car and we were able to fit all of Abby's things in the car; Her stroller takes up so much room. We joined up with Dave's group once we got there once again, and had such a great time throughout the whole conference.
     I was introduced to a new artist, Shonlock, a pop-rap artist. He had a LOT of energy and some great lyrics and beats; he even did a little break dancing on stage for everyone. We also saw Superchick, and they were great. Their lyrics are so honest and beautiful. The vocalist also announced that she was pregnant and expecting a baby girl. The speakers this year were really great. Jeff Wallace and Billy Beacham prepared sermons that were funny, interactive, and very relate-able. I was very impressed; it was like I was 15 again! Both speakers really challenged the students there to really step up and live for God.

     Travis Ryan was the worship leader again, and everyone went pretty crazy over him. His wife and I became friends at the Ministers' Wives Retreat last May and I ran into her while at the conference as dozens of girls were flocking to Travis trying to get his autograph and take pictures with him. I asked her if all this was weird or not, and she said, "Yeah, to me, he's just normal, but here, he's like this celebrity." It's so true, all the little girls were going ga-ga over him. It was pretty cute. Most important, I really enjoyed the songs that he and his band led us in this year. We did the fun songs like Happy Day again, but he introduced us to a couple new songs that were so encouraging like Fearless! My favorite song though, was Most High. Hearing it again this year reminded me of how much I loved that song when he taught it to me last year. The words are so powerful and really speak to me. I'm hoping I can find the song and teach to the congregation at my church.

Most High

With each rising sun
We're reminded of Your love
How You reach Your hands to save
And You pull us from the grave

With each starry night
We're reminded of Your light
How You lead us safely home
Never leave us here alone

You are the Lord Most High
You are the Lord Most High
Strength of our salvation
You will never fail us
You are the Lord Most High

You have set us free
We have found our liberty
There is no life outside of You
There is nothing You can't do

You are the Lord Most High
You are the Lord Most High
Strength of our salvation
You will never fail us
You are the Lord Most High

All our hope is in You
You are worthy of it all
All our lives are for You
You are worthy of it all
With all the breathe in our lungs
We will shout for who You are
Lord Most High

You are the Lord Most High
You are the Lord Most High

You will run to rescue
Nothing here can stop You
You are the Lord Most High

Enjoy the students clapping offbeat at the beginning of the song, it's quite hilarious! The guy on keyboard had to help everyone get back on beat every time we sang the song. I just loved how enthusiastic everyone was.

     Here is a video of our trip! Enjoy!

2012 Bennett Family Reunion/Crazy Family Get-together!

     I'm not like most people.... or maybe I am, but I LOVE my family, not only that, but I LOVE my in-laws! I love spending time with my family! Especially when we all get together as one big group! The fact that you never know what might happen when we're all together is just one of the reasons I love being with my family. This holiday season we got to so many family members, it was so great! Even better, many of them ended up surprising us, which made things even more fun!

Christmas Eve
     My aunt and uncle came up from Riverside and surprised us in Kernville for our Christmas Eve service. My mom and step-dad also came up to join them. I sorta figured this one out a few hours before though, which was okay,  since I was able to prepare by throwing something together in the crock-pot, and clean the house. They had never really heard me sing before, let alone lead the church, nor had they heard Grant preach before, so it was really neat that they were able to come up. After the service we all came back to our house for some beef stew. We talked, laughed, and watched Abby/Nomi open Abby's first presents!

Christmas Day
     The day had finally come for Abby to wear her Christmas dress. I bought this dress before she was even born. I saw it on sale, and I thought, I better get it now while on sale than wait and try to find something later. Grant totally didn't understand, men! But I'm sure he appreciated not having to buy a dress for her at Christmas time though! Abby was not in the best mood when we got home. 

Christmas with our Family
     On Monday we were able to go down and spend some time with Grant's family at the big reunion party. We were not expecting any cousins to be able to come at all, but, unexpectedly, they were all able to come at the last minute and we so enjoyed spending time with them all! Abby of course was such a hit, everyone played with her and held her to her hearts content! 
     The party was something that we had been planning for some months. We had a gingerbread house contest which turned out to be such a hit! Everyone had much fun planning their houses out ahead of time, and then finally executing them with each other. The grandma's got together and presented prizes to each house; we had cute little cottage houses, hobbit houses, and so much more. It was definitely a sight to see and watch. 

     Then we had a delicious lunch/dinner of tri-tip that our friends, the Harkleroad's, catered for us. The rest of us were to each bring a side dish, apparently we all got the same memo... potatoes. Everyone brought some type of potato dish. What are the odds? It was pretty hilarious. Potatoes four-ways. They were all delicious, and gave us quite a laugh.
     We also spent some time opening the rest of everyone's Christmas presents, so Abby got another chance to work on her present-opening skills!

    We had such a wonderful time with all of our family, and we are very grateful that we were able to see all the aunts, uncles, and cousins that we were surprised by! Thank you for making our Christmas season so wonderful! We love you all!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A White Wedding

     December 17th, our friends Chris and Carrie were married at a beautiful ceremony in Bakersfield. She looked just stunning, and they both looked so happy to finally be joining their lives together after several years of dating (and part of that time spent apart while Carried was teaching in the Philippines as a missionary).

Best friends for 15 yrs.ish: Chris and Grant at the rehearsal dinner
     Between the rehearsal dinner and the wedding day we were pretty busy and exhausted from driving down to Bako back and forth, back and forth. It was only made more exhausting by the fact that a beloved member of our church past earlier that week, and therefore, we unexpectedly had a viewing one night, and the funeral the next morning before driving down for the rehearsal. Needless to say, Grant was pretty tired that week. Overall, we are so very excited for our friends, and we wish them many more years of happiness to come.

     We were very excited too that some of Grant and Chris' old friends from college were able to come out from Louisiana and southern CA to attend the wedding. After hearing so many crazy stories of their college life, the wives and girlfriends were excited to finally meet everyone and have them all in one spot together. I had a great time meeting Micah and his girlfriend from Louisiana, and spending more time with Jeremy and his wife Tammy.

Micah, Grant, Chris, and Jeremy

Micah and his g/f dancing the night away!
     Abigail did a great job at the wedding. I didn't see her much since both sets of grandparents were there as well. I sat with the other girls at the reception while Abby had fun with her grandparents. Her granddad every tried to sneak her some frosting off his cupcake, and succeeded, but not without a crazed mother look from me (The day before at the funeral feast, one of our church members had done the same with every single sweet he had in front of him. He fed her some of everything. I was slightly outraged, therefore not really helping my calmness with it came to granddad feeding her frosting the next day. Whoops).

Bennett Grandparents

Aunt Beeb trying to mimic your face

     ...and what would a fun event be without Grant making me laugh?

Grant's burp...  shocks me into hysterics

Happy wedding to Mr. and Mrs. Chris and Carrie White!

Month Six

     This month we had a lot of fun. Between learning how to roll over last month, and another wedding this month, and Christmas, and plenty of visits from family, we've had one jam-packed month full of fun. December 17 we celebrated Grant's best friend's wedding to his beautiful bride. It's been fun to see Chris and Carrie's relationship blossom over the last few years, and we are super happy that they are finally able to call each other husband and wife.

Enjoying everyone's attention at the reception
     Christmas Eve we had a lovely surprise visit from my aunt and uncle as well as my mom and new pops. The came to our Christmas Eve service and had plenty of fun playing with Abigail while I ran around setting everything up at church. Afterwords, we all came back to our house and enjoyed some beef stew and home made pumpkin bread while Abby opened her first Christmas presents.

I love this picture b/c everyone was laughing at... something.
     Then, because Christmas landed on a Sunday, and pretty much everyone in our family is in the ministry in one way or another, we met at another time to celebrate together. We had a family party/reunion/Christmas gift exchange. It was all kinds of fun, and I'm sure Abby had a blast because there were SO many more people to entertain her than she's normally used to. She was passed around from aunt, to uncle, to great aunts and uncles, to grandparents, to great grandmothers, to cousins, and pretty much didn't see either Mom nor Dad the whole day unless she needed to eat, in which case I still didn't see her as she was covered up. 

Cousin Cayley playing with Abby
     Abigail, you are growing and growing. You is as beautiful as ever. Grant and I are just in shock and awe that the Lord has given us such a beautiful blessing. We consistently ask each other how we got so lucky.
     One thing that is very noticeable is that your hair is getting thicker. You still has a pretty large bald spot on the back of your head, but the top of your head is filling in with beautiful dirty blond hair; matched with those bright blue eyes, you're just too cute!
     You can keep her head level when I pull you up to a sitting position. And you love when I pull you up to a standing position as well. We've been working on that one for some time, so you're getting pretty good and standing still, a little wobbly still, but you're getting better and better. I even stood you up in your crib and let you hold onto the side once and you held on real good all by yourself! Big girl!
     You are definitely making more and more sounds. This month you are focusing on the raspberry sound, you are getting slobber everywhere as you exercise those little lips. Mommy tries to mimic you, but I don't get very far because that raspberry tickles my lips too much, how you do it so often is beyond me. You also like to make sounds with all the saliva in your throat. You make lots of gurgling sounds. It's pretty cute. Mommy isn't very good at mimicking you on that one though.
     You reach for toys that are out of your reach. Not only do you reach for them, but you somehow scoot yourself over to the toys. Sometimes you roll over to the toy, but other times you just scoot around on your belly until you get closer. You turn around in circles while on your belly to look in every direction and see what is most entertaining. You look for toys that you drop, and can pass toys between your hands.
     Towards the very end of the month you began getting up on your toes; I call it a tent, since that's what it looks like. There's probably some technical term for it, but I like tent. You basically are doing a push up, except you stick your little booty in the air, it's super cute of course. You began doing this all the time.

  • More Doctor Visits: You were still sick after your round of antibiotics last month, but things improved slightly, so I just hoped that they would continue to get better. However, one night things just got really bad again, and you could barely sleep at night. You were up every hour, and you would wake up crying because you couldn't breath. Mommy used the little pillow from your activity gym in your bassinet to help elevate your head, but it only helped a little. You were one unhappy baby. I called the advice nurse and she suggested we come down for an appointment. Since we had an X-ray at your last visit concerning your health, this time she did a different test for RSV and we did a breathing treatment. The test for RSV came back negative thankfully. And the doctor had us take home the breathing machine and use it every day as needed. We also took home some more antibiotics just in case the breathing machine wasn't working, that way we wouldn't have to go back down to get the antibiotics. You looked so sad while getting the breathing treatments that week, but they paid off because after a few days, you definitely started improving. You still had a little bit of a cough, but the nasty congestion that I could feel/hear in your little chest before was gone. Because you still had a little lingering sickness I went ahead and gave you the antibiotics and after a few more days of that, you were practically brand new! I don't think you've been that healthy and not congested in several months. 

     Whenever I would sub, I would come back and you would have eaten WAY more than you normally would had I been there to breastfeed you. I kept getting frustrated because I was trying to stock up on milk for you, and yet you were drinking it all. Daddy suggested that maybe you needed more... I mean, you are growing and all. So, I decided to try giving you a little more cereal at night. I decided to try out some baby oatmeal instead of the rice, and you seem to really love it, so I've decided to stick with the oatmeal from now on. I started doubling the amount I give you at night to about 1/3 cup. You still breastfeed every 3-4 hours during the day. 

     With that small increase in the amount of oatmeal you have at night before bed, that helps you sleep through the night a little more. Almost instantly I saw a difference. You began sleeping for a little longer at night before waking up to feed. You are consistently waking up about 6 hours after eating at night to feed, usually around 2 a.m. And then you sleep another 5-6 hours. It's been wonderful! Now, if I could just get to bed at a decent time, I would benefit from this long stretch of sleep, however, I take advantage of this time to stay up and hang out with your Daddy watching our ridiculous shows that we can now watch because we have DVR again. 
     Another change has been that I have you sleeping in your crib all night now. Last month I was having you sleep in your crib until you woke up to feed, and then you would finish the night in your bassinet in our room. But I figured that I should just try putting you back in your room after feeding you, and along with you only getting up once, it's been great. You really haven't had any issues transitioning into your own room or your crib (I think Daddy is the only one who didn't like this change very much). I think you like it more because you can move around a lot more than in that little bassinet. Although, that means that it's much harder for you to fall asleep when you can move around and play. I think you wake up many times simply from turning over and hitting your head on the crib. 
     What's also great is that if you do wake up in the middle of the night before the 6 hours, I can give you your pacifier and you will nod right back off to sleep. You never used to be able to do that, you would just continue to cry until I picked you up and fed you. This alone has been wonderful. You don't do it that often, but its' so much better than getting up to feed you three times a night when I can just pop your pacifier back in. 
     If I time it right, I can also get you to take one to two naps close to 2 hours each during the day. This takes a lot of work though as I have to try and keep you up a little longer when you clearly want to sleep so that you'll be tired enough to sleep for a longer period of time. But those few hours of Mommy time is great while you sleep. I have dreams of being very productive during that time, but usually it consists of me retiring to the couch to relax for a moment, reading a few pages of my book before passing out. 

Playing with the piano after waking up from a nap

Month Five

     So many things happened this month. (Obviously I'm talking about November, not this last month, because I can't get things together enough to post about one month of Abby's life once a month... cause I'm crazy, and lazy, and busy, and exhausted, you name it, I feel it). Anywhos, this month was kinda crazy.

     First things first, Abby was super sick again. So, I ended up calling the advice line and taking her down to the doctor to check it out. She said she had some congestion and gave me some antibiotics for Abby to take. She called a few days later to check in on Abby, and things were fine. But the next morning... Abby decided to explode everywhere, her diaper that is. She had so much diarrhea, which wouldn't normally have been a problem for me, except that it was getting EVERYWHERE! I couldn't control it. No matter what I did, it would get all over Abby and anything she was near to. So it meant not only cleaning her little body, but everything else around her as well. We had many trips straight to the bathtub for a cleaning rather than trying to use the little wipeys. Oi! 

     Then, my mom got married.... while Abby was still having a serious case of diarrhea, and she was to wear a super cute little dress.... in cream. Great! The whole entire wedding, my worst fear was that she would explode, even worse, that it would happen while I was carrying her down the aisle while 150 people stared at me. Thankfully those fears were not realized. Abby was a little trooper the few days leading up to the wedding as weather conditions forced the wedding inside and we all had to scramble to re-plan/design everything in a few hours. Everything turned out beautifully and we are all very glad that mom is now married to a super great guy. When we got home from the wedding Grant suggested maybe using bigger diapers for Abby..... duh! Why hadn't I thought of that! It did help with the diarrhea, to a point. She went up to a size 1-2. 

       Oh, how you've grown little girl. You are laughing and smiling so much. It is so much fun to watch you. When we had lunch with Aunt Beeb, she was pretty impressed at your skills of putting your pacifier back in your mouth by yourself. I have to say, that's been pretty awesome for me. Now, when we're driving and you start crying, usually you just grab your pacifier on your own. I don't have to pull the car over anymore to give it to you. 
     The most impressive thing this month that you have learned to do is turn over! That's right! I will never forget Halloween day because you turned your little body over all by yourself! It just happened so quickly. I was so excited and I told your daddy as soon as I saw him that morning and he said, "oh, yeah, she did that this morning." Mommy was less that thrilled that you finally turned over and 1. Mommy missed it, and 2. Daddy witnessed it and didn't tell Mommy. I explained that if anything like that every happened again that Daddy must call Mommy right away to let her know so I can come running to your side and cheer you on! 
     It only took a few days before you were turning back over onto your back as well. I was pretty much in shock at how quickly you were learning the whole rolling over thing! The hilarious thing my dear, is that you still weren't super thrilled with being on your belly, so every time you would roll onto your belly, you would begin to whine. The length began to widen each time you turned over as you began to realize that it wasn't so awful to be on your belly, especially when you learned how to roll back over onto your back. 

     I pretty much revolted against your habit of waking up several times a night to feed. I had had enough. So I asked any Mommy-Friend I could for advice about what to do. One great friend, M, suggested that I get you out of Mommy and Daddy's room and into your own room asap. I decided I would go ahead with this because I wanted to get your room cleaned out anyway, and this would give me a great reason to get my butt into gear to do it. Also, I was willing to do anything to try to get you to sleep a little longer between each feeding, and maybe we were waking you up whenever we turned over. I decided to wait until after mom's wedding to start. To begin this transition, I would put you in your own room when you went to bed, then when you woke up to eat, I would put you in the bassinet in our room for the rest of the night. At first, there wasn't really any change, but slowly it began to pay off. You were still getting up two times at night, but I think it was good to begin to transition you into your own room.

You were sleeping with your feet in the air, super cute!
     Good news! At our four month check up with the doctor, she gave the go-ahead to begin baby cereal. Because I didn't have any on hand, and forgot to get some while down in Bako for the appointment, I didn't start you on it right away. Thankfully, Mommy's friend had a bunch and gave me some to get you started. Towards the end of the month we started you on rice cereal, and you loved it! You were pretty much upset with me because I couldn't shovel the stuff into your mouth fast enough. You were leaning into it to try and help me. Needless to say it was pretty much a disaster the first time you ate. 
     You made such a mess (you insisted on holding the spoon yourself and would then proceed to put your hand in the cereal and then everywhere else); I was starting to get frustrated at first because the only place to feed you where you would be upright was your car seat and I didn't want you to get it dirty. But then, I gave myself a reality check and remembered that this would be the only first meal you'd ever have, and messy or not, I should just enjoy this time. We could always take a bath, which we promptly did right after you were finished eating. I ended up taking all your clothes off so that you wouldn't get you clothes all messy too, and I moved you to your bouncer. In most of the pictures you look a little crazy because of the flash on the camera. (I always have a hard time capturing pictures of you for that reason). 
     You ate every 3-4 hours during the day and eat several tablespoons of rice cereal at night before bed. It didn't really make much of a difference on sleep either. You still got up every few hours to feed. 

The main picture shows Abby with her new aunties at Mom & Willie's wedding

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