We just got back from our family trip to see family in Phoenix, AZ.  Our annual Thanksgiving trip west includes us three plus my in-laws, Rebecca’s sister, her husband and their 3 kids heading out to visit family in Arizona.  We had a great time, it is too bad we only see Rebecca’s Grandmom, Aunt, Uncle and Cousin once in a while.  Ben loved the trip…he got a lot of attention which always makes him happy.  I wouldn’t exactly say he loved the plane ride but he behaved pretty well, all things considered. 

Thank you TSA: OK, I can’t believe I am going to do this, but I feel the need to compliment the TSA (Transportation Safety Administration) for a job well done over the holiday weekend.  What?  Yes, it is true.  When we departed from Philly, we were shocked to find out that they had implemented a family line!  The regular line wasn’t too bad but probably a 10-15 minute wait. But much to our surprise, we got to use the family line (thanks Ben!) and we moved right to the front.  Once into the screening area we found the staff to be friendly, courteous and very helpful.  Some of the TSA employees even helped us with all of our stuff!  I don’t recall it being like that last time, or ever.  Was it always staffed by TSA, or was it a private company before?  I don’t know what has changed but I say “Keep up the good work”.  Us bloggers are quick to complain on the web about things we don’t like, so we should also point out when things work well!  We found a similar situation in Phoenix on the return trip.

BOOOO US Air:  Speaking of complaining, it is time to do so.  US Air (and Airlines in general) have really gotten ridiculous.  OK, I get charging me for my luggage and even for a drink.  I don’t like it, but I get it.  But where is my movie?  We went on a five hour cross country flight and they couldn’t show a movie?  How about a few TV re-runs?  What about some kind of travel programming?  Even an infomercial would have entertained me!  How much does it cost to run that in flight entertainment?  There are commercials on it, so it can’t cost too much.  Don’t they know that if I had a movie it would have taken my mind off the fact that the flight stinks – the seats are too close together, the temperature is either too hot or too cold, they charge me for my meal, they charge me for a drink, they charge me for my luggage.  What’s next, a charge to use the bathroom?  OK, moving on…

Travel Tips:  Ben is 9.5 months old and isn’t the kind of kid who can sleep on someone’s lap.  So we got him a seat on the plane.  It is expensive but worth it.  So we brought his car seat on with us for him to sleep in.  It worked out pretty well.  The doctors say Benadryl is a no-no for kids his age.  Too bad, because it would have helped him relax.  Instead they recommend a dose of infant Tylenol prior to boarding the plane.  Ben is teething too, so that seemed like a good idea.  Remember that baby’s can’t clear the pressure from their ears like we do when the pressure of taking off or landing builds.  They recommend a bottle or nursing to help.  Timing is the key though.  It isn’t the actual landing or take off, it is the time when the planes altitude changes the most that counts.  That’s a big deal for a kid like Ben, who nurses pretty quickly.  If we time it wrong, he’ll finish and won’t be too happy with the pressure change.  Luckily that went ok.  During the flight he mostly slept.  We put the “hood” up on the car seat and covered more of the opening with a shirt, so it would be nice and dark for him.  By the way, the evening flight was much easier than the day time flight because the little ones expect to sleep more.  By the way, the last time we flew Ben was only about 3.5 months old.  That time, he slept great because we used the Baby Bjorn to keep him snuggled up with us for the whole flight.  We didn’t bother to get him his own seat because he was really little.  He was so happy on that flight lying on us!

Oh yeah, Arizona:  As I said, Ben loved the trip.  He got to sleep in a hotel, eat in a lot of restaurants, see Great Grandma, play in her house, sit by the pool, stay up late, and play with the whole family.  One night he got to go play with his Bubbie and Zeyda (Grandma and Grandpa) while we went out to dinner.  That was great!  The weather in AZ was not too great (cool and rainy) and over a few days there, we spent about 2 hours total at the pool.

I know, you just want to see Pictures of Ben.  Here you go: (Don’t forget, you can click the photos to see a bigger version)

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Looking at my blog I see that I haven’t posted any pictures of Ben since the end of August!  Wow, time flies.  A lot has changed since then with Benny.  When we last left our hero he was learning to sit up.  Well these days he’s all about being mobile.  He’s  crawling all over and loves to follow us around.  The changes have been so exciting to watch.  When he first sat up on his own he was so happy because he could play by himself with toys.  Now, he can crawl around, find something to play with, move on to the next toy, crawl over here and crawl over there.  He has become quite independent and he is very proud of himself.  He has times when he really wants to be held but on the other hand he has times when he can play all by himself for a pretty long time.

Of course, we had to baby-proof the house now.  Ben loves to get into trouble too.  It seems that this kid has an instinct for grabbing anything he isn’t supposed to!  In general, Ben is a fun kid but he’s pretty independent and stubborn too.  I’m really surprised at how much of a personality a little 8 month old kid can have.  I wonder how much he’ll change that as he gets older.  Anyway, here are some pictures of our Benny. 


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It’s hard to believe that summer is almost over but Benny has really enjoyed it.  He’s had some great accomplishments recently.  A few weeks ago Ben started to gain his balance and was sitting up quite well, as long as someone was on hand to spot him.  But now he’s pretty good at it.  And this week he figured out how to go from laying down into a sitting position all by himself.  He also really likes to be up on his hands and knees.  He rocks back and forth and looks like he is trying to figure out how to crawl!  I think he’ll be doing it in no time at all.  Ben got his first tooth last week too.  It’s not fully here, but you can see it so that counts, right?  Also, Ben started at Daycare last week since it is time for his mommy to go back to work.  He seems to like it but he’s also decided to show his stubborn side (where do you think he gets that????).  So he’s gone a little “Hunger Strike” as I like to call it.  All of a sudden he decided he wouldn’t take a bottle from anyone at all!  I think it is his way of saying he loves his mommy!  He only wants the “real thing”.  Luckily, while he’s at daycare during the day he is happy to eat baby food.  So I guess it isn’t a true hunger strike, really it is a bottle strike.  But he surprised us again by taking a few ounces from the bottle today at daycare so maybe he is getting more comfortable.  We’ll see.  OK, here are some pictures from the past few weeks:

I’ll start with the one that may be our favorite picture of Ben ever!  The look on his face is too funny. I guess he doesn’t like tomatoes!  I hope he forgives me for putting the second one up on the Internet. 

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These days Ben is just a ton of fun.  Ben loves to visit with family because there is always someone who is happy to hold him and give him attention.  And he can really turn on the charm for them too.  Here’s Ben with Cousins Kaycie, Allie and Samantha, his Uncle Dennis, and his Grandma, and his GG (Great Grandma) and Nat.  Oh, I guess I am in that last one too, but who cares about me these days?

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Ben has already been to the beach a few times to visit Zayda and Bubbie (Grandpa and Grandma).  Here’s Ben hanging with Zayda, relaxing on the beach, and taking a nap with Mommy after a hard day of having fun.

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Ben also got to see his cousin Allie in a dance competition.  We were surprised at how much he seemed to enjoy it.  He watched the dancers on stage the whole time and love the music too!  Here is is with Aunt Jane, me and Allie.At Allies Dance cropped

Ok, these next few are just too cute to leave out…

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DSC03379 Ben is very excited that summer is here!  In fact, summer hasn’t officially started but no one told that to Ben.  Like all cool kids, Ben needed a wardrobe upgrade to get ready for the season.  Now he’s got a few bathing suits, shirts and hats so he can enjoy the weather.  Plus, if you hadn’t noticed, Benny is pretty fair skinned so we need to be extra careful in the sun.

Ben’s friend Lauren and her family invited us to swim at their club.  Ben had a really good time in the kiddie DSC03382 pool.  Most importantly, he didn’t embarrass us with any “accidents” in the pool! 

The following weekend was a big one.  Not only was it Ben’s first trip to the Beach but it was my first Father’s Day.  Lucky for Ben (and us), his Zaida and Bubbie have a beach house. FYI, that is Yiddish for Grandpa and Grandma, although I am not positive on the spelling.  Ben hopes to spend a lot of time with them at the beach this summer.  We spent Father’s day with Rebecca’s dad and his wife, as well as her brother and sister their families.  It was a really nice day and Ben got to hang out with cousins Billy, Dylan and Fiona.  We missed Bret who had a sleep over that night with a friend.

That Saturday we took Ben for his first walk on the Boardwalk.  I think it was pretty special for Rebecca since she spent all of her summers there since she was little.  Sunday’s weather was pretty bad.  In the afternoon it seemed to be clearing out so we decided to take Ben to put his feet in the ocean for the first time.  Our friends Dean and Alexis joined us. After some preparation we were finally making our way to the beach.  As we were about to step off the board walk the neighbors  told us that the beach was CLOSED!  What?  Yes, the lifeguards told everyone to leave because of a lightning storm that was approaching. Sure enough, looking in the other direction we saw some nasty clouds.  I guess Ben will have to wait until next weekend to hit the beach.  Incidentally, within a few minutes the sky opened up and it poured for quite some time!

Here’s some shots from the weekend:  Don’t forget you can click on the to see a larger version

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