Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Family Pictures

I know, we just did family pictures back in September, but we happened to have both sides of the family take pictures in the same year, so here are a few of the pictures we had taken over Christmas break while in Preston. As usual, I'll only post the pictures of our family as I don't know what other people will want posted.

Of course Ellie was the little star of our family ans so the photographer took a number of pictures of her.

And some of our whole family, many of which still star Ellie.
Oh, and one of the whole group for good measure. Enjoy!
PS - I know some of my family will want one or two of these pictures. So just let us know if you want a higher quality picture than you can pull off the blog. And all the black and whites we also have in color. And a couple of colors in the black and white as well. Whatever, just ask!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Diversifying

Over break, we started introducing Ellie to things like applesauce to give her stomach more solid foods to work on in order to help out with her reflux and our having less milk to give her.

As a result Ellie now gets three 7-8 oz milk and oatmeal bottles a day, one 2 oz brown sugar water bottle, one formula bottle, and a little bit of baby food. Her diet is rapidly expanding!

Ellie wasn't really sure when we got home what it meant to be strapped into this seat in much the same way I imagine NASA straps its astronauts into rockets.
But, she was excited nonetheless.
We're still working on using spoons, and liking surprising flavors. So far Ellie has only really had Grandma's applesauce (she loves this) and apples and blueberries. She is only supposed to try one new food a week in case she is allergic to something so we can know right off what it is. The first few bites always throw her off and she makes faces, but usually she comes around, eats a decent amount, and ends up satisfied and looking like this.

We also let Ellie try anything fairly liquid we are eating. Pot pie filling, spaghetti sauce, etc. She'll try anything as she's figuring out that if we're eating something it must be good. She constantly tries to grab my food, and especially drinks where she's used to seeing cylindrical food delivery devices. One day at Dad and Kerry's Ellie reached out and grabbed Steve's Mt. Dew with both hands with her mouth open ready to take a swig. Sorry Ellie girl, Daddy doesn't share well.

Here is a video of her enjoying one of my other snacks in Spokane which she LOVED.
video

Water Baby

As we've said earlier, Ellie loves the water. Once we started putting her in regular baths, that love became obvious. The first few times she was in a regular bath tub she soaked me and splashed so much we had water halfway up the wall around the tub. She kicks and splashes most of the time, and my washing her is simply an inconvenience now as it interrupts play time. She smiles while she plays in the tub and even when she douses her face she is such a stud she doesn't even care except that it surprises her some.

So, with that introduction and without further ado, this is a little video about our water baby. Enjoy!
video

The last part of the video is from Ellie's first experience "swimming". Wednesday the 29th of December we took her to the YMCA in the Spokane Valley. Their pools are fairly warm which is better for babies as they tend to be so temperature sensitive. We drove through crummy snow covered roads to get there, only to find out that because the YMCA's have all been updated now, it was going to cost us $30 to swim with Ellie! Ridiculous! But, we decided we were paying for the memory and the experience, not the 25 minutes she would last in the water. By the way, I think we spent an hour plus getting the three of us ready and showering afterward for 25 minutes of play, but still fun.

Jennifer got Ellie this swim suit before she was born, and I'm glad we didn't wait any longer to go swimming because Ellie has gotten so big she barely fit it!

Here Ellie is with Daddy.


And here I am trying to get her to look at Daddy for pictures.
Eventually we did get a couple where she would look at us. Like here, practicing her back float.
And here, enjoying chlorinated fingers.
It was so much fun to have Ellie in the water and to be able to show Steve the best ways to play with her. (Teaching parent-child swimming classes come in handy after all!)

In the end, the kid was exhausted! Pink chlorine eyes, wet, and grumpy that we woke her up from her nap in the car ride home, I think she really had a good time. The red eyes are deceptive as well as her eyes turn red when she gets tired. Especially since she now rubs her face and eyes with her fists when she is getting sleepy.
I know we loved making that memory with her. I can't wait till the next time we find a pool warm enough to take her to! Besides, we need to use up some of the swim diapers we bought!

Ellie Developments

Ellie continues to grow and develop so rapidly I can hardly keep up with all the new things she does to entertain and amaze me each day. Over break, we watched her gain many new skills and interests and I thought I'd try to document them while I still remember for the most part.

Ellie continues to do better and better at tummy time. She still only rolls over occasionally, but we are trying to show her that tipping her head is what helps her roll and I think eventually she'll get it. The amount of time she spends happy on her tummy continues to lengthen and we actually get smiles during this time now as well.

Her head and neck control also get better all the time. She has started to look up and back behind her more and more and look at what is in a whole room around her as opposed to just what is right in her area of the room.

Speaking of looking behind her. One of my favorite developments just in the last day or two is that Ellie likes my singing. I know, I'm terrible, and it worries me that we may find out there is something wrong with her ears one day, but although I can't explain it, she likes it. When we sing her a primary song each night before bed she just stares at me the whole time now. Today, when I was putting her down for a nap, I sang her a song with her in my lap and she arched her back and looked up to see me immediately after I began. Then, I got a big cheesy grin and she wriggled until I put her in a position where she could watch me sing. I got smiles for the first verse of the song and stares for the rest of it. Totally made my morning after a really rough night with her. And no, this is not one of those things we'll eventually get a video of for the blog. I get embarrassed enough on here, thank you very much.

With looking behind her has come this new position:
This is how Ellie spent most of Relief Society on the 26th in Preston in order to watch the teacher and music conductor throughout the hour. This position has also recently led to her getting up on her side occasionally. Hopefully that means she'll be rolling over on her stomach soon!

Ok, not a development really, but isn't she cute! We LOVE Aunt Julie dresses in our home... And Ellie just got big enough to wear this one for the 1st time right after Christmas.
Ok, now on to Spokane developments.

Ellie's hand control gets better all the time. She reaches for more toys and almost always grabs them on the first try, even if she hasn't gotten a ton better at getting them in her mouth instead of just against her face yet.

With hand control comes bottle holding! This is still very rare, but occasionally she'll hold her bottle with her apple juice or brown sugar water bottles! (given once daily to try and counteract all the oatmeal she gets for her reflux)

Speaking of reaching out with her hands, another made our day story from yesterday: Last night we went to the Mabton basketball games. Steve was helping the senior class out with their taco feed as he is one of their class advisers this year. Ellie hadn't been to Mabton in a while, so of course a few of the teachers we're friends with just had to hold her. Ellie does great with strangers, but twice, once with Steve and once with me, after she'd been with someone for a while, she spotted us and reached out. Like, leaned towards us with arms outstretched to go to Daddy or Mommy. No fuss, just a simple motion that melted our hearts. It's so great that she is beginning to be able to express her affection. We love that little girl an awful lot.

Ok, enough sap, back to hands. They are TASTY! This is Ellie's favorite new pose. Usually it's with the right hand, but she's willing to give the left a go too. Index and middle finger together - insert in mouth. Pretty stinkin cute. Don't worry, she gives all the other fingers and both fists some quality time and slobber as well. Just, these are her fall back sucking fingers.
However cute that may be, we don't want her to be a hand or finger sucker down the road as that can be really difficult to break. So if Ellie isn't just playing with her hands, she's just wanting to suck, we have started trying to give her a passifier now and then. I know, this habit can also be hard to break, but at least we can take away a passifier without the use of amputation. Once again, I know some parents may disagree with that statement as many kids seem to basically fuse the passifier to their bodies, but hey, we'll give it a go.

She's still kind of hit and miss on it, but when she's into it, she really likes her binky. On a random note, pretty sure she's throwing gang signs here in this picture. Yup, raising our daughter in Yakima Valley all right...

And then back to the tummy time. Ellie has started getting her legs under her more and more. She can push off of a solid object like my arm with her legs to scoot some. This started in Preston, but the only picture we got of her sort of doing it was in Spokane. Now if only she had any upper body strength to support her giant noggin we may be looking at a crawler soon. I think we've got a while yet.
Last few happy thoughts: Ellie loves her baths! She is so big now that she's graduated from her baby bath to just lying in a few inches of water in the tub, which she likes so much better. (later blog on this as well.) We have also begun giving her more foods. (again, another blog) Our girl is a great sleeper and napper most of the time and still wakes up smiling at whoever comes to get her. She also cracks us up now by stretching after she sleeps and by often sleeping with both hands behind her head like she's using them for a pillow. She is starting to discover the toys on her jumperoo and grab them, as well as the toys she carries everywhere with her. Ellie grabs clothes, bibs, and her knees and calves quite frequently, but has not started grabbing feet yet. We are starting to introduce her to a few very basic signs for diaper and food to try and teach her to communicate down the road. We recently had to break her of a screaming habit she had developed to get attention when she felt ignored. That thankfully only lasted a few days right when we got home. She has started to laugh more and more, is becoming ticklish on her neck and sides, and is such a pleasure to be around. Since we've gotten home she's gone back to constantly making noises and babbling throughout the day. She's such a happy baby and we are so blessed to have her in our family.

Christmas: Take 3

After spending Christmas in Preston, we made the drive to Spokane on the 27th. Instead of a 9 hour drive turning into 15 hours on our way to Preston, this 10 hour drive only took around 9! So much happier than our first drive of the break...

So, we left a mostly dry and foggy Preston for this:
Yeah, we may have seen a little bit of cold weather and snow while we were in Spokane. Just maybe... This is my parents' weather vane in their backyard. By the way, all these pictures are ones Kerry took since I've learned it's hard to both enjoy time with family and get lots of pictures at the same time. Thanks for letting us steal your pictures, Kerry!

We had a great, restful break spending time with family. Wednesday morning Jennifer came over and we had our 3rd Christmas with Ellie. Here is the outfit we bought her for her 1st Christmas. We put her in it on Christmas day, but she threw up all over it before we could get a single picture, hence the Cougars gear in pictures from that day. (Santa brought the WSU shirt to her knowing Daddy would love it, so of course he had to put her in it when she needed a new outfit that day.) We figured it was still Christmas for us, so she wore it again for this Christmas with more lasting results.

Ellie got some great touch and feel board books from a series we love, some other great books like Goodnight Moon, and some really fun toys. Here she is opening a snail that sings and lights up that she can push and chase after down the road.
Steve and I enjoyed our peaceful week in Spokane, and with the bad roads and weather didn't venture out a whole lot. Instead, Steve found new ways to entertain us all.Well, some of us were entertained....

He didn't appreciate my lack of enthusiasm for his new headgear.But don't worry, we're still friends.

Other highlights from break: lots of Uno, some Farkle, swimming with Ellie for the 1st time (later blog on this), a very uneventful New Years, and Ellie visiting Grandma and Great Grandpa.

Saturday we also THOROUGHLY enjoyed an amazing prime rib dinner that has become the tradition in my family for Christmas. Afterward, we all about peed ourselves during a rousing game of Apples to Apples which involved learning from Dad that New York is the capital of the world if you're looking for a certain type of person and what Dolly Parton is known for, as well as what adjective Kerry thinks best describes Helen Keller. Basically, Apples to Apples is amazing, and gets more so the later at night you play. LOVE it!

Oh, and once again, the BEST part of the trip: watching family with Ellie. Only makes us wish we lived nearer to both of our amazing families!

Just for good measure, a picture from Preston on that same topic.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Christmas Eve and Christmas in Preston

For the last two years we have spent Christmas in Spokane, so this year we headed south to Preston, Idaho to spend the holiday with Steve's family who all live in Idaho and Northern Utah. Steve's family has a number of Christmas traditions which I loved being a part of with Ellie this year.

We spent Christmas Eve together with most of the family at Grandma and Grandpa's eating a great dinner of pulled pork sandwiches and then began the fun. The first tradition on the Bennett side is that on Christmas Eve all of the kids break a pinata. There are a few little toys or presents for each grandchild in the pinata. This year Ellie got some cute holiday socks and linking ring toys. (thanks to a thoughtful aunt and grandmother who knew we would forget on Ellie's 1st Christmas)

This year the pinata was a snowman. Tradition also dictates that Uncle Steve runs the pinata and tries to hit the older kids more than they hit the pinata. Here's Steve at the ropes.

Here is Ellie's 1st turn at the pinata. She seemed to think that little taps were ok but harder hits were not. Those harder hits brought about flinches and some crying. But all in all, she did well.
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Ellie may not have loved hitting the pinata, but she did enjoy watching others hit it. She was completely focused. Aunt Lori was holding her so that I could take pictures.
What was Ellie interested in even more than watching? EATING of course!

Christmas Eve night after the pinata brought some of my favorite memories of Ellie's first Christmas. The family gathered together in the family room and then told Christmas stories. First we sang Christmas hymns and Amanda and Kathy read many of the scriptures telling the Christmas story. Then Bridget read us a Christmas story. Lastly, we read Ellie's little Christmas story board book. It was such a great feeling to be sharing stories and songs of Christ's birth with family. I love feeling the Spirit with loved ones around. There is little better in this world.

Christmas Day started with opening Santa's presents. We may look like crap, but it was important to document Ellie's 1st stocking and presents from Santa.

After breakfast we all got dressed and opened presents from Grandma and Grandpa as well as a few of the family presents.Here is a video of Steve helping Ellie open her present from Grandma that her and I found right before Christmas and just couldn't pass up! As you'll see, it's obviously just as much for Daddy as for Ellie.
video

After presents we headed to Lori & Curtis' house for Christmas dinner and more presents. Ellie loved her presents, but she played longest with this.
After presents we had a lot of great play time. Amanda got this gun from Steve and I for Christmas and it made for a lot of entertainment for the rest of us. Here she is at the top of the stairs waiting to ambush people sniper style.
While most of us played, a select few were hard at work preparing our Christmas feast! Here's Steve in his new Broncos cookwear his sisters got him. Steve is always in charge of the meat. I know, who would've guessed.
One of the most entertaining pictures we took that day. Here are the men not long after supper. Tyler is the only one awake, in the background on the computer. What were all the women doing? Staying upstairs, awake. Well, Ellie doesn't count. She was napping too.As you can see, we had a great Christmas Eve and Christmas. Ellie hardly napped with all the excitement but was a great girl for everyone. She showered family with lots of smiles and little giggles. We loved being with the Bennett, Mason, and Roberts clans.