Monday, August 27, 2012

Birds of a Feather...

So, I couldn't finish my South Carolina posts without the hugest shout out ever to the WHOLE STINKING REASON we took the trip in the 1st place! To Sierra's bestie, Sofia, whose amazingly awesome and incredible mama Valerie happens to be my bestie (I mean, seriously, when ever do you get that lucky?!?) And we were blessed enough to live across the street from each other from the time the girls were babies! And they went to the same daycare and preschool. And, let me tell you, these girls are as different as night and day. Sierra's messy, free spirited crazy-get-in-your-face and scream with joy was met with Sofia's super organized, serious, oh-so-sweet and sensitive heart - and somehow, these girls meshed to form the perfect friendship, that has spanned not just years, but miles as well, as we watched Sofia's family move back to South Carolina this past December. 

These girlies are so precious to me...



2011 yes, when we had the opportunity to fly across this country to spend a few days with Sofia, her mommy and her daddy...yeah, we jumped. And yes, it was 100,000% worth it...these girls took one look at each other and literally did not miss a beat. 
We are so beyond grateful for our friendships with this family. God has truly blessed us. We love you, Val, Rik and Fia!!! We're already counting the days until next summer!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

"Oh noooooo...."

That pretty much sums it up. As we were landing on the ground at LAX yesterday afternoon, Bodie looked forlornly out the window and said, in the saddest tone you can possibly imagine "Oh noooooo....South far away." Yep, I hear ya buddy, I hear ya.

From one coast to the other, we're now back home and catching up on everything. But before I get to that, I have to share some adorable pictures from our last day in Charleston. First up, quite possibly, my most favorite picture to date of Bodie (and yes, one that will definitely be shared with anyone who questions whether HLHSers have a "good" quality of life)...
We went to a local playground near our friends' house, and the kiddos just played their little hearts out. Bodie "discovering"...
Ahhh, how I LOVE this sweet girl...
Sierra goofing off...
Bodie, working on the balance beam (we were trying to get him to put his hands up like a gymnast at the end - he wasn't quite getting the concept haha)...
Me with my loves...
 Sierra, finally figuring out how to hang on the monkey bars (please don't mind her underwear sticking out - that's kinda what happens when you let a 5-year old pick out her entire outfit!)...
And not to be outdone, Bodie HAD to take a try at the monkey bars as well. I seriously cannot get enough of his smile in that first pic. SO stinkin proud of himself...
 We had planned on capping off our trip with a visit to the splashpad Saturday morning and then out to lunch before packing up and heading to the airport for our 6pm flight, only to print our boarding passes Friday night to discover that American had changed us to a 12:20pm flight instead! It turns out American had canceled the later flight, but hadn't bothered to notify me! You can imagine how excited (oh, and not stressed at all) I was to find this out at midnight Friday night! Let me just say thank God my mom suggested we print boarding passes Friday night instead of waiting until Saturday morning!!! Yikes - that could have been bad!

But, hey, at least it gives us a good story, right? So, our Saturday plans changed a little and we spent it flying instead! I wish I could say the flights back went as gloriously as the flights out, but then I'd be lying and pretending that Bodie didn't cry himself to sleep on the first flight, only to have lower sats than I'd like during his nap - and scream for most of the second flight. Oh, and I'd be totally ignoring the fact that he insisted on going for a walk and had an utter throw-myself-on-the-floor screaming tantrum meltdown when I wouldn't let him past the curtain into first class (not that he doesn't have a legitimate argument - heck, even a toddler gets that classism is just fundamentally wrong - but what can I say, I don't make the rules).
(Bodie looking all innocent when I decided to try gate-checking his carseat on the last flight and letting him sit like a big boy...)

BUT, and yes, this is a huge BUT, all was redeemed, when, upon deplaning at LAX, Bodie and I were talking about his "Junior Flight Book" (something they give kids nowadays instead of wings - kind of like a passport, with a log of each flight, signed by the pilot). All of the sudden, the pilot came out and said "did I hear someone say something about wanting to meet the pilot and come sit in the cockpit?"

As I was screaming "YES! YES! YES! How cool would that be?" and Bodie was eyeing him suspiciously, we got to go into the cockpit! (as an aside, thank goodness the pilot was in front of Bodie, so couldn't hear Bodie saying "Mommy! He took my book! GIVE MY BOOK BACK" followed by mutterings of "Naughty, naughty pilot!" when the pilot took his book to sign). 

I may or may not have had to bribe Bodie with a promise of candy to get him to cooperate for these pics, but hey it worked - check it out! 

 This pilot was SO unbelievably nice! He totally teared up when we mentioned Bodie's history and how we never even knew if we'd be able to fly, let alone take a trip like the one we just took. And after we left the cockpit, he asked if he could give Bodie "one last airplane ride" and pushed his stroller up the ramp into the airport! What a super nice guy to give us such an awesome memory!
 It was an AWESOME way to end a stellar vacation! (Oh, and the first thing the kids said when they saw daddy? "Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! We got to ride in a MINIVAN!" Guess I wasn't the only one who was impressed!)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Southern Hospitality We are LOVING Charleston! (So much so in fact that I gave Dusk a prepared speech about all the reasons we need to move here when I spoke with him last night! Our Socal friends need not worry - my sales pitch was sales pitch, however, may have been successful for getting a minivan when we buy our next car! Ha!) We have been having so much fun! The South is really awesome...

Yesterday we went to the Aquarium...
My proud little guy, checking out an iguana (I don't know what it is about this picture, but I LOVE it - I think it's his proud stance)...

And a historical carriage ride! My mom, my best friend Val and I LOVED this - it was such a great history lesson on beautiful Charleston. And the kids enjoyed it...for the first 10 minutes, where Sierra was SUPER excited to see the horse poop - and Bodie was SUPER excited to see...a trash can. (Yep, that's our kid!) And then...they knocked out (yes, both of them, completely and totally sound asleep)...
After the carriage ride, Val took Sierra (who was still asleep) and I took Bodie (who was just starting to wake up)...
I swear, there is nothing I love more than a sweaty, disoriented baby right after a nap. LOVE him...
Like I said, we LOVE Charleston!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Go Big or Go Home

You all know how the Bennetts roll by  sense in doing anything the easy way when we can do it the MUCH MUCH harder way! So, for Bodie's very first plane ride, why would we mess around with a short little flight to see how he handles it...when we can fly ALL THE WAY ACROSS THE FLIPPIN' COUNTRY?!?!? Yup, that's what we did on Tuesday - we got up bright and early to be at the airport at 6am for an 8am flight. I thought it was a little bit overkill to be there so early...until I realized that we were traveling with a toddler with a pacemaker. I knew it might be a little tricky, but I truly had no idea. I felt SO BAD for the poor people in line behind us.

First of all, we had 7 bins of stuff. Yes, 7. And a carseat. And a booster. And a stroller I had to fold up. And I had a computer that had to be separate. And we had to put Bodie's meds and Pediasure in its own bin. Then I told them Bodie had a pacemaker. The thing is, people with pacemakers and ICD's can't go through anything with a magnetic field as it screws with the pacemaker settings and/or does extreme damage to both the pacemaker and the individual - I won't horrify you with the details). 

Anyway, that's all fine and dandy because they have a different type of non-magnetic screening you can do with people who have pacemakers. GREAT! Except that you have to go by yourself into a box and stand still with your hands up over your head. Yeah.Right. Not happening. So the TSA screener had to call in her boss's boss to come and look at Bodie and talk to us, and approve an alternate method of screening him. He ultimately approved some sort of scan where they ran a fiber of some sort over Bodie's hands and then run it through a machine to pick up traces of residue. Thankfully (and obviously), his came back clear and they let us go. The upside is, after all that, they didn't even bother looking at his meds or the Pediasure we brought! Yay! All in all, security could have gone much much worse (thank God we had a very nice screener!), but it was fairly eye opening for me! 

The flights itself went great! They weren't perfect (I imagine flying is always stressful with kiddos, particularly medically fragile ones), but much better than I had imagined! Sierra did great. She got to sit with my mom in the row ahead of Bodie and I. Did I mention my mom, my amazing (possibly a glutton for punishment) mom came along with us, since I didn't even want to attempt this flight by myself? 

Sierra was such an angel. She watched movies, colored, and slept against Gigi...
And, ok, I'm not gonna lie. She was a little bit of a pack mule for us. Not sure if you can tell, but in this pic, she's wearing her backpack (with kids' toys and blankets for the flights), pulling her suitcase and pushing the stroller, with Bodie in front and the carseat and booster in back. (No, we didn't make her do this the whole time, but it was so cute when she tried that we had to snap a pic!)
Bodie pretty much thought it was the greatest thing ever. Let's just say that I have NEVER, and I mean NEVER seen a kid get so excited about something. He was chanting "go, go, go! Mama, I'm ready!" while we were taxi-ing, and then squealing at the top of his lungs during take-off. Everyone kept commenting on how cute he was...and that cuteness lasted approximately 30 minutes...until he realized he had to stay in his seat. We spent the rest of the time walking the aisles, getting to know everyone on the plane, hugging a baby and pointing out some guy who had the "same shoes as Dada!!!" We also took many trips to the lavatory (during our first trip, I heard a dinging noise a few times and thought "huh, the captain must be turning on the fasten seatbelt sign. We should hurry up"...and then I realized that Bodie had pressed the Attendant Call button - that was fun, explaining that one). We also watched lots of movies...
And LOVED getting to ride the skylink tram at DFW. 
Cardiac wise, Bodie did great. I hauled our big, huge hospital grade pulse-ox on board with us...and never even turned it on! I spot-checked him with our little handheld fingertip pulse ox twice on each flight and both times he was high 70's to mid 80's in flight and high 80's on descent. For my non-heart mamas, just know that is GREAT for Bodie man!

After a VERY long day of flying, we got to Charleston - and picked up our rental car (which was upgraded to a Minivan - Oh my word, I am LOVING it - you Minivan moms are right - these things are amazing!!!) and beat feet to town. We checked into our hotel and were ready to go! Well, everyone except Bodie... 
But he rallied when we told him we were going out for dinner!
And our big excitement - riding the TROLLEY!!!!
As an aside, this pic was taken approximately 10 minutes before we realized we had gotten on the wrong trolley, and ended up having to be dropped off in the middle of nowhere and walk blocks (in deep South heat and humidity, which, let me tell you, is some serious stuff!) until, no joke, like a mirage in the desert, we saw the glowing red heart and realized we had happened upon the MUSC Ronald McDonald House!!! Having spent some time in the LA Ronald McDonald House after Bodie's Norwood, I knew someone there could help us! We wandered around until we found someone still working there who was able to call us a cab and we were finally on our way to dinner!
The kiddos expressing their gratitude to Ronald McDonald (and any of my heart families who happen upon the Charleston Ronald McDonald House, please say hi to Rachel for us (the House Manager) - she was an absolute Godsend to us!!!)

So far, this trip is amazing. So much more to do! Today, we spent time swimming and meeting another heart family (more about that tomorrow, but have to post one preview pic from our get together - Sierra and Derrick, 3, with complex CHD's like Bodie - ever since I first started following Derrick's blog, I have said we needed to do an arranged marriage with him and Sierra - clearly, they're in agreement! SO SO cute!!!)
And still to come? Our whole reason for coming to Charleston?!? Vacation with Sierra's BFF (and her mom, who also happens to be my BFF)! Sierra and Sofia, here we come! :-)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Healing a Hurting Marriage: Part 5. Getting Away from it all

(This is the last post in a series entitled Healing a Hurting Marriage. You can find the previous posts in this series at Part 1.The BackstoryPart 2. Her StoryPart 3. His Story and Part 4. Playing by the Rules.)

Dusk and I try to go on date nights. We really do. But we're not very good at it. I think we went on one date night the year after Sierra was born, and we came home after dinner (never even made it to the movie). I can't remember why we didn't make it to the movie, but I DO remember scaring the crap out of our babysitter, who came walking down the hallway after giving Sierra a bath to find us at the other end of the hallway (apparently, she hadn't heard us come in). We got a little better after that, but once Bodie was born, everything went out the window. I know we didn't go on any dates the first year of his life, and maybe did 2 or 3 the next year. The upside is, when you don't go on dates very often, it's easy to justify doing something expensive, like getting massages. :-) The downside is, it's hard to maintain the romance when you're getting away together so infrequently. We've really made an effort in the past 6 months or so to go on more date nights. 

When we were in Palm Springs with Dusk's brother and sister-in-law and their kids this past May, my sister-in-law Missy asked me if we had ever gotten away for the weekend. I think I just stared at her like a deer in the headlights. I honestly don't think the idea had ever occurred to us, particularly with a kid like Bodie. But she got me thinking - and really got our wheels turning. This was around the same time we had started counseling and talking about taking more time for ourselves and communicating more anyway. Missy offered to fly out and watch the kids for us, bless her heart. Ultimately, we ended up using one of our regular sitters, but we were SO grateful for her offer - and that she pushed us to do something we wouldn't have otherwise thought to do!

So, we did a little trial run in July - we left the kids alone with the grandparents and Dusk took me to the spa for my birthday. It was heavenly, to put it mildly. And the kids did great. So, a few days later, Grandma Jan came and picked up the kids in Tahoe and took them back to Reno with her - we got a whole date evening and night away from the kids, and met them the next morning. Again, they did great. So, we knew it was time!

Last weekend, we took our first official vacation alone together in over 5 years - to Solvang wine country. It was amazing. We did a wine tasting tour...where we did wine tasting...
and more wine tasting...
and I think some more, but to be honest, I can't recall much at that point! Haha!

We strolled the tiny streets of Solvang, ate traditional Danish pancakes and pastries, took naps, and relaxed in the pool at our hotel...
Then, we did more wine tasting. :-)
And we saw a super fun play in the outdoor amphitheatre under the stars (oh so amazing - anyone near Solvang, if you can catch a showing of Legally Blonde before it ends its run, DO SO! So awesome!). 

And then we ended our trip with a lunch stop at Cold Springs Tavern in the Cachuma Lake Canyon...
 (local Central Coast peeps, if you haven't made your way there yet, GO - think cold beer, awesome tri-tip sandwiches and onion rings, a beautiful rustic canyon, live music, dining on picnic tables and benches outside...and motorcycles as far as the eye can see! Super quirky, SUPER fun! A perfect end to an awesome vacation)

We were gone from the kiddos less than 60 hours. And of course we missed them (and the homecoming was pretty stellar, I have to say - I couldn't even get both feet over the threshold of our front door before Bodie had tackled me to the floor with hugs and kisses, followed closely behind by Sierra bear hugging me). But it was amazing to just be us. To be able to complete a conversation, heck, a sentence, without being interrupted. To have the time to have leisurely discussions about things, to not have anything to do but be with each other, to go into stores with nothing but breakable get the picture. 

Marriage is hard work. Adding kids into the mix makes it even harder. But, the benefits are so worth it. So, to couples who find themselves in similar shoes to where Dusk and I found ourselves several months ago, I strongly encourage you to do what you need to to restore order to your marriage, to your family, to your lives. Seek counseling. Listen to one another. Understand how your love languages differ. Remind yourselves of that every day. 

If you are believers, seek counseling from a trusted Pastor - make sure the counseling is coming from a Biblical perspective. Put in the time to spend on your marriage. Pray over your marriage. Pray with your partner. 

I know that taking time away sounds impossible. But do it - I promise you, it is SO worth it, to reconnect with the one you married, who you promised to love in good times AND bad, in sickness AND in health. With a medically fragile child, you just hit the IN SICKNESS part a little sooner than you anticipated when you said those vows. I know it's not possible for all parents to get away, particularly if you still have a child in the hospital. Believe me, I get it. Bodie was in the hospital for almost 5 months straight (I realize that's less than a lot of kids, but it felt like an eternity); we never would have attempted to get away at that point in time. But hang in there. Things will settle down. And when they do, and you have time to reassess, think back to this post, and let me be a little nudge to go, to try and get away, just for a bit, and focus back on one another. It'll be worth it, I promise. :-)