Monday, November 24, 2014

July Part 2

After our big trip for the first part of the month, the rest of July just kind of flew by.

When we got back we took Kassidy in for her check-up and at 2.5 months old she was up to 12 lbs 10 oz and 22.75 inches long.  Gotta love her wide eyes as she takes everything in...

We also got right back into potty training Mckayla, which continued to go pretty well and had us hopeful that she would be fully potty trained during the day by the end of summer.  Here she was in "accident underwear" with her baby.  Babies became a big deal for her around now.  I wonder why...

One traumatizing experience which Ellie will still talk about was that we took the girls to a park just down the street from us on the 21st.  They have tennis courts there the girls like to run around, and they were doing just that when Ellie suddenly started screaming.  It turns out that since our last time there a big wasp nest had become active in one of the poles and Ellie was just frozen standing there, getting stung.  I was holding Kassidy, so Steve ran in and grabbed her out.  However, she had already been stung 4 times.  A trip to the drugstore for some benedryl (just in case), some cold washes, a few band-aids, and a viewing of Frozen later, she was just fine.  However, she is now deathly afraid of any type of bee...

She recovered quickly though, and we took the big girls to a local indoor trampoline park on the 26th, which was a ball.  It was the first time Mckayla had been able to jump, and our usually wild child was rather cautious.  The girls had a lot of fun building with the foam pit cubes as well as jumping.

By the end of the month Kassidy was showing us that she was going to be a big 3 month old by starting to look around more on her front, hold her head up, and just start to figure out her hands, accidentally grabbing things now and then.
And Ellie continued to love being big sister to Kassidy.  Seriously, this girl loves her baby sister so much, and Kassidy thinks she's hilarious.  Mckayla loves her baby too.  The big girls have a bit of a love/hate relationship at times, but there is no doubting that they both love their little sister.

And that pretty much wrapped up July.  I know, it doesn't seem like much, but that's because we were recovering - and broke - after so much fun the first half of the month!  I also was subbing some for swim lessons which helped keep us busy.  And to top it all off, we were planning another trip for August.  So stay tuned and hopefully that blog will be up soon!

July Preston Trip and Reunion

All I have to say is be prepared for picture overload.  Because this trip was F.U.N.

Steve's Grandfather Hyrum would have been 100 this past July.  As a result, Steve's Father and Aunt and all of the grandchildren planned to do a big family reunion and camp together over the days surrounding what would have been their Grandfather's 100th birthday.  We knew we were going, we just had to figure out how exactly we would get there, so we planned our annual summer trip to Preston to coincide with the reunion.

My session of swim lessons ended on July 3rd, so we packed up as soon as I got home from morning lessons around 12:30 or 1:00 and hit the road.  We caught a hotel room in Ontario, Oregon, and drove the rest of the way to Preston on the 4th in order to be there for the family festivities on the 4th of July.
The combination of Aunt Lori, glow sticks, and shooting muffs made fireworks tolerable for Ellie.
 Of course Mckayla wanted to dive right in and help choose what would go off next.

We spent the next few days enjoying time with Grandma and Papa while we prepared for our camping trip, gathering supplies, buying food, etc.  We even managed to spend time with our niece Ella and nephew Colton who we rarely see.  We met up with them and Grandma and Papa at Willow Park Zoo on the 7th.  It was fun seeing Ellie and Ella together.  I know, I know, but cousin names weren't on our mind as we were in the hospital with our first baby...  Anyway, Ella was so good with Ellie, and Ellie loved paling around with her the whole time, proven by the fact they are holding hands here.

On the 9th we packed everything up (it felt like we brought about everything with us) in our rigs and drove to Island Park, ID to camp at the Buffalo Campground there on the Buffalo River.  We had the group campsite reserved, which was so fun because with all the family there we could let the kids play together and roam (with supervision) a lot more.  It was also terrifying because with so many hands helping out we occasionally lost track of who was doing what with one of our girls and got worried.  But, all those helping hands were SOOOOO appreciated and made the trip doable for us with a 3.5 year old, 1.5 year old, and 2 month old.

Wednesday night, after setting up, we spent the day in small family groups for dinner and explored the campground.  It was beautiful up there, and Mckayla even found the river - going backwards, feet over head, right into the shallow sandy bottom, head first.
 Luckily she was simply picking grass with Daddy when she fell in, so she got plucked right back out, but she didn't appreciate getting the gravel scrubbed out of her hair...

On Thursday the 10th more people arrived and most of us floated the Buffalo River.  Lori brought up these perfect little boat-like rafts and the girls each rode in one while Steve and I held onto their rafts from our tubes.  The water was brisk still, and so shallow you had to watch and laugh when you hit your bottom on rocks, but we still had a blast floating several times that day.  In between trips the girls enjoyed lots of otter pops on such a hot day.  Such awesome grandparents to think of such things us silly parents forget.  It was warm out, and the girls loved all the propel, otter pops, milk, and juice they got as a result.
 The girls' favorite part of the trip was without a doubt this sand volleyball court and digging in the sand, pouring it in their hair, etc.  They spent A LOT of time here.  I even played a little with a big group one night till it got too dark to see.  And the group eating was set up right here next to the court so the girls could play while each family took turns cooking for the group breakfasts and dinners.  Steve and I felt bad we were so preoccupied with kids we weren't much help, but we tried to pitch in a little and be very grateful others were so on top of things, and just enjoy it all.
 We weren't the only ones who loved this spot.  Not only was it food central, and ground zero for tubing, but it also became Kassidy's favorite spot to sleep while different people held her and snuggled her in the shade from the tents.
The group area was also the big spot for doing hair, but only Steve got in on that action from our little family.
After all that floating, the girls were exhausted, and needed a nap.  Napping together in a tent though, is much easier said than done.  We had adventures getting the girls to nap and go to sleep each night.  It's nice that they love each other so much, even if it often comes out at the most inconvenient times...
 This picture cracks me up.  Ellie was in trouble I believe and had to stay in her chair till Mckayla fell asleep.  Uncle Curtis was helping watch her for me...

 I believe it was this night that we ended with a big group of cousins talking around a propane fire down by the group spot.  It was so fun and such a wonderful day.

Friday the 11th we had planned to go as the Bennett group and visit part of Yellowstone National Park, which is not far from Island Park.  We knew we would be limited in what we could see with tired kids on a hot day with only one day to see things, but Lori, Curtis, and Bridget are expert Yellowstone guides and took us to a few awesome spots in West Yellowstone.  Seriously, Yellowstone National Park needs weeks to be seen and appreciated properly, and I can't wait to go back when the girls are older, but even just hitting a few shorter boardwalks reminded me how breathtaking and diverse this park truly is.

 See, I did take pictures of people too.  And don't think I was being mean posting this face of Bridgets, because she purposely made that face in all the pictures I took in this spot.

 After visiting a few shorter boardwalks, we had to head to Old Faithful.  It's a tradition for Lori and Curtis's family to watch the geyser and get ice cream at the lodge.  We headed out on the path that took us to the backside of Old Faithful where it wouldn't be so chaotic and busy while Grandma and Papa stayed back at the lodge.
We also had to see this, Bridget's favorite geyser which sounds like a toilet flushing as the pool empties after an eruption.  Ellie still talks about these and wants me to remind her of the word geyser so she can reminisce.  "Mommy what was the thing that shot water into the air that Bridget likes and sounds like a toilet that isn't a whale?"  (We saw whales spouting later in the summer which caused confusion the first few times she asked...)
 Here we were waiting for the geyser to go off.
 And there she is.  I also learned that if you don't have a spare SD card for your camera, and your SD card is suddenly full during the eruption of Old Faithful, and you don't get to take pictures of all the beautiful hot pools and geysers on the way back to the lodge, you will remain bitter about it for months to come.
Oh, and if you go to Yellowstone, don't wear flip flops because you'll end up walking way more than you initially planned and get blisters.  But do go get ice cream at the lodge because you get HUGE portions super cheap, and it is delicious!  That is probably one tradition we will have to adopt if and when we get back to Yellowstone some day.

When we got back to camp it was the hair day.  Kassidy ended up with a bow in her hair, and doesn't she look thrilled?    Poor Kassidy.  You can see her redhead complexion here, and she is going to have it rough.  She spent most of the time in the shade and still got a little red...
This is also when Steve, Curtis, and Ben ended up with their hair in all the tiny ponytails.
 Group tent time later that day.  I love Ellie in Curtis' hat.

The last day for us was Saturday the 12th.  We had decided to pack up and get back to Preston for church on Sunday and to get ready to head back home in the following days.  However, we left Island Park earlier in the day so that we could take the scenic route back to Preston.  On the way back we stopped at Upper and Lower Mesa Falls on the Henrys Fork of the Snake River.  So beautiful and so easily accessed even with little ones.
 We had a picnic lunch together before Kathy, Ryan, Max, and Amanda headed back to their house and we split off to go back to Preston.  Here was Uncle Ryan helping Mckayla enjoy her lunch.
 We tried to grab a family picture, with limited success as usual.  Kassidy was tired and was not a fan of the bright light.

 And the girls melted down soon after, sleeping for much of the car ride back to Grandma and Papa's house.

After that, we monopolized the wash machine at Grandma and Papa's (Two adults, one who holds a baby all the time, and 3 kids make A LOT of laundry while camping!), and enjoyed the last few days before we had to head home.

On the 13th the girls had quality girl time with Grandma painting nails.
 And loved riding horses with a friend of Steve's folks, Lena.  She is always so kind to go out of her way to help the girls get a ride in while we are down.
 Our last day, the 14th, we even snuck down to this little reservoir to let the girls throw rocks - what else.  It was a great way to end our time with Grandma and Papa.

Yeah, it was an amazing trip.  We rode four wheelers, floated rivers, watched geysers, rode horses, painted nails, played lots with Grandma with play dough and markers, and just loved being around family.  Each time Steve and I visit it gets harder and harder to drive the 10 hours back to our desert island here when the girls are so surrounded by beauty, outdoors fun, and family down south...  But, on the 15th we made the trek home so we could go to Kassidy's two month check up and Steve could attend a meeting he needed to be at.  It was such a wonderful trip, it was sad to see it end, but seriously, one of the highlights of our summer, if not our year.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Kassidy's Baby Blessing Weekend

The weekend of June 20th through the 22nd was jam packed and SO MUCH FUN!  Maybe in large part because we filled it with family and didn't even have to drive 20 hours round trip to do it.  I love when we don't drive home...

Anyway, it was so wonderful of family to travel all that way to be here for Kassidy's baby blessing.  For those who don't know, this is when a worthy Priesthood holder (Steve in our family) officially gives the baby a name for the church records and also gives the child a blessing - often of health, faith, a path for the future, and anything that child may stand in need of at that time.  It's a special time in our family to be there as Steve uses the Priesthood to bless our child and to have a sort of welcoming to the family party with all those who can be in attendance with us.

The weekend started with family arriving on the 20th.  Grandma and Papa Bennett and Aunt Kathy and Cousin Amanda all drove up together and we were thrilled to have them!  Aunt Kathy automatically makes things more fun, including MG's obsession at the time - The Little Blue Truck.
Getting some baby snuggles in since Amanda is obviously no longer baby snuggling size.

That night we mostly just enjoyed time with family until Amanda and Kathy had to head to the hotel and the rest of us all headed to bed to get ready for a very eventful Saturday.

Saturday morning we headed out right away to enjoy the beautiful weather and feed birds at one of our local parks.  The girls love doing this, despite the sometimes eventful and injury prone trips we have had here.
We still had time to fill though, and Steve is not one for sitting still when there is family to be shown around, not to mention our house isn't huge, so we headed to another fun park, Howard Amon.

I love, once again, the difference between our two big girls.  Mckayla spent the whole time at the playground swinging, first with me and then with Papa.
Ellie, who hates swings, spent the whole time VERY focused on making a "sandcastle" with Grandma.
After some time where our girls dug and swung and Amanda enjoyed running all over the steamboat themed playground too fast for me to get pictures, we all enjoyed watching Steve push Amanda on a zip-line swing so hard he fell down, and then headed down to the river to let the girls throw rocks - a favorite past time of theirs.
There is just something so absolutely right about this picture - Steve and Ray talking about water flow or something together.

Ellie even found this heart-shaped rock that she loved.
 And it was fitting for all the love she was getting from family.  She especially enjoyed her time with Amanda, who she would probably follow right off the end of the Earth if Amanda asked her to.

After so much time in the sun having fun at the park, it was lunch and nap time, so we headed home to get the girls some rest so they could welcome our other visitors when they woke up.  That afternoon Aunt Lori and Uncle Curtis arrived, and as we had planned earlier, we all went to a Dust Devils game to watch our local minor league baseball team.  We love going to sporting events, and it was so fun to listen to Curtis heckle and to be able to talk baseball with him.  Uncle Curtis also brought many baseball game traditions with him which the girls thoroughly enjoyed, namely eating peanuts and caramel popcorn.
 Steve even convinced Ellie to go do "Dusty's Dash" with him at the 7th inning stretch (after carrying her crying across the first half of the field).
 We all had a blast!  Oh, and if you love their matching tie-dye shirts as much as I do, you can thank Aunt Lori, Uncle Curtis, and cousin Bridget.  They love getting our girls big sister gifts as well as tie-dye, and they looked sooo cute we just had to have them wear them to the ballgame!
 We got home late after the game ended with fireworks and got everyone to bed so we could enjoy our Sabbath and the real reason for our ultra fun visit.

 The morning started with some quality family time, such as snuggles with Papa during cartoons.
 And coloring with Kathy and Amanda after breakfast and baths.

Then Papa Rose, Grandma Sun, Grandma Moon, Aunt Julie, Aunt Jennifer, and cousins Wyatt, Aubrey, and Enzo arrived as well.  We all drove to the church and enjoyed a special blessing as Steve, Ray, Curtis, and our Bishop blessed Kassidy.

After Sacrament meeting was over we all headed home and tried to get a few pictures of the whole family.  We were moderately successful given how stinking bright it was outside.
Love, love, love him.  And he love, love, loves his girls.

Steve and I both got to enjoy watching our parents enjoy Miss Kassidy.
 Or "Sassy" as Mckayla would say.
 We also continued our tradition of welcoming our girls with family and prime rib, which is a wonderful and delicious tradition.  Steve always does a fabulous job making us all a tasty dinner.

Poor Kassidy got mauled by the paparazzi while Daddy made dinner, but we got a few cute pictures of her in her special blessing dress.  We don't actually have to bless babies in all white, but it's a tradition Steve and I both really like and plan to continue as it reminds us how special Priesthood blessings are and how pure these little babies are as their spirits were so recently with our Father in Heaven.

After that we just got to sit back with very full stomachs and enjoy family.  These two were especially entertaining at times.
 This was literally seconds later when Ellie was cracking herself up calling Wyatt a "stinkerton" and he didn't think it was very funny.
 We loved having such a crazy, full, chaotic house.
 And Ellie enjoyed being her wacky, hilarious ham of a self.  Here she was trying on her new princess skirt which Grandma Bennett made.  At some point she decided with pants on her head too she could Hula?  That girl cracks me up.

As you can tell, we had a fabulous, full weekend.  Once again we can't express enough how grateful we are for people to take time away from work, families, etc to come be with us where we're a bit of an island away from both families.  It was such a memorable and love-filled weekend for our growing Bennett Zoo!