Family

Posts filed under Family

For Joshy: Top Ten+ Arithme”tricks”

Filed in PersonalTags: Education, Family, Geekery

For Joshy (and the rest of us, too): I'm sure you're working on your math tables, memorizing addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division of numbers from one through ten.

Do you need a shortcut for multiplying by four, five, nine, or eleven, or squaring two-digit numbers ending in five? How about subtracting a large number from 1,000? Well then, see this list of arithme[em]tricks[/em].

(H/T: Lifehacker)

Long Time, No See

Filed in PersonalTags: Family, Fatherhood, Gatlinburg, Marriage, Photos, Tennessee, Vacation

So, I missed the entire month of August, and the first part of September; but I have a good excuse: sometimes real life just gets in the way. Between, being out of town for a funeral, going on vacation, getting married, etc., I have just not had time to blog.

So what have you missed?

First, Lily just keeps getting bigger and bigger:

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Lily is the cutest Colts fan in the whole world!
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

She has cut her first two teeth, and can now roll over from front to back and from back to front. She scoots around, holds herself up on her arms, and makes an absolutely adorable effort with all her might to be able to sit up - which she's not quite mastered yet. Today she is four months old!

Next, the three of us had our first official family vacation: a Labor Day trip to Gatlinburg, TN, and Asheville, NC. We loved Gatlinburg, and would love to take Lily (and any future children) back to the area. The Biltmore House was gorgeous, but Labor Day weekend proved to be a bit too crowded for our tastes - next time, we'll visit on at a less popular time.

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Along Route 441 through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, from Gatlinburg, TN, to Cherokee, NC
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Stephanie and I were married last weekend at the Gazebo at Williams Park, in Brownsburg, IN.

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Happy Family!
Photo © William Bennett, used with permission.

So, that's my excuse. Much has gone on in the world of politics, sports, and everything else about which I usually write. Hopefully I will be able to resume my normally loquacious ways.

Our Weekend Outing: Grant’s Farm

Filed in PersonalTags: Family, Fatherhood, Marriage, Missouri, Photos, Saint Louis

Grant’s Farm Family Photo

Family picture taken at Grant's Farm
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

Since the weather this past weekend was so absolutely amazing, we decided to get out to enjoy it as much as possible.

Saturday afternoon, we checked out another of Hazelwood's many parks; this one was Howdershell Park, about five minutes away. We then decided to go see Grant's Farm, but by the time we got there, it was just past closing time.

So Sunday afternoon, we decided to try again; this time getting there around 1:30, giving us plenty of time to look around.

The Grant's Farm experience begins with a tram ride through the Deer Park. Of the myriad wildlife living in the Deer Park, we had the unusual pleasure of seeing the critically endangered, Chinese-origin Pere David Deer swimming in the creek over which the covered bridge traverses:

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Pere David Deer swimming in the creek
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

The tram drops off at the new Excursions building, entering into the main park. Since Lily is still too young to appreciate the more kid-friendly things such as feeding the goat kids, we decided just to wander around and see the various animals on display, such as the elephants and bald eagles:

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Bald Eagle at Grant's Farm
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

We made a stop in the Bauernhof to get something to drink, and to heat up Lily's bottle, and decided to see the upcoming Elephant Education Show. Unfortunately, Lily decided that she was getting hot and tired, and that she had just about had enough for the day (and was probably bothered by the more noisy crowds by the Elephant Amphitheater), so we decided to head toward the parking lot and the Label Stable, home of the famous Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales.

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Clydesdales and foals at Grant's Farm Label Stable.
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

By the time we wandered through the stable and corrals and back to the parking lot and the car, Lily had fallen asleep. We carefully put her back into the car and made our way home, having very much enjoyed our first family outing to Grant's Farm!

Pregnant: “She Is” or “We Are”?

Filed in Personal, Religion, Social IssuesTags: Christianity, Family, Fatherhood, Marriage

Steve Carr blogged in agreement with this Christianity Today article denouncing fathers who use the phrase "we are pregnant". His lead-in and closing sentences sum up his agreement:

The author, a man by the way, believes that sentence to be both inaccurate and demeaning. When men drop that phrase, he believes, they are actually belittling all that the woman endures during and after the pregnancy...So no matter how secure I am in my fathering skills far be it from me, or any other of us guys, to declare that “we’re pregnant.”

When I read his post, I had to comment, to convey my opposing opinion:

Steve, I completely disagree with you. When Stephanie was pregnant, I always said we were pregnant - not because I wanted some of the attention due solely to Stephanie, but because I had a rightful place in the experience. And as you well know, we fathers are part of that experience, for better and for worse.

We shared the difficult physical and emotional stresses of pregnancy, just as we shared the joys of being blessed with the spiritual and physical care of a new life. I proudly embraced my God-given role as Stephanie’s supporter, encourager, and confidant, even as I did not experience the most intimate experiences with which only a woman is blessed (and cursed).

I couldn’t care less that society marginalizes the role of the father - even through the experience of pregnancy, labor, and delivery. God has blessed me with the role of husband and father, and proudly will I thus declare my rightful place in that role.

Besides, if you believe that little phrase, “…a man will leave his father and his mother, and the two shall become one flesh,” then it is only right that every experience, good, bad, and otherwise, is shared equally by husband and wife.

So, I proudly declared that we were pregnant, and when God blesses us with another child, I will do so again. It in no way belittles Stephanie, nor her role in the child-bearing process; to the contrary, it affirms God’s plan and desire that this process be experienced as a man and a woman, united as one, in Him.

I wanted to take some time to address the original article, and also to expound upon my comments above.

Here, the author, Mark Galli, begins his argument:

A male friend, married to a lovely women, comes up to me beaming and says, "We're pregnant!"

"Wow!" I reply, with inappropriate sarcasm. "When I was a young man, only women could get pregnant."

I've heard this phrase—"We're pregnant"—too much recently, but it's time to move beyond sarcasm. The intent is as understandable as the execution is absurd. It arises out of the noble desire of men (and future fathers) to participate fully in the childrearing. And I understand that for many men, it simply means, "My wife and I are expecting a baby."

Here I have my first point of disagreement with the author (a point which will be developed further momentarily, but which I introduce here): my use of the phrase, "we're pregnant," is not "to participate fully in the childbearing" but rather to identify with complete involvement and unity in my relationship with my wife.

He continues:

But the first dictionary meaning of pregnant remains, "Carrying developing offspring within the body." Whenever a word is misused, it means the speaker is unaware of the word's meaning, or that the cultural meaning of a word is shifting, or that some ideology is demanding obeisance. Probably all three are in play, but it's the last reality that we should pay attention to. It is not an accident that this phrase, "We're pregnant," has arisen in a culture that in many quarters is ponderously egalitarian and tries to deny the fundamental differences of men and women.

Introducing the dictionary definition of "pregnant" here is a specious argument. Obviously, the speaker of the phrase "we're pregnant" is not unaware of the word's meaning, as the definition of "pregnant" in no way biologically ambiguous (as demonstrated by the author's sarcastic comment in the article's introductory paragraph). Likewise, "cultural shift" of the connotation of the term is irrelevant. Thus, we are left with the third point of the argument: that some ideology is demanding obeisance.

And what is this ideology that the author argues thus demands deference? Namely, "...a culture that in many quarters is ponderously egalitarian and tries to deny the fundamental differences of men and women."

First, let me clarify: I am speaking as a Christian. I do not inherently ascribe to cultural mores, especially when we live an culture in which those mores increasingly differ from the ethical standards to which I as a Christian ascribe. Thus, my use of the phrase "we're pregnant" may very well have a fundamental difference from any secular uses of the phrase. I do not believe that Christian culture resembles that which the author describes above. With that understanding in mind, let us continue with the author's argument:

This phrase is most unfortunate after conception because it is an inadvertent co-opting of women by men—men using language to suggest that they share equally in the burdens and joys of pregnancy. Instead, pregnancy is one time women should flaunt their womanhood, and one time men should acknowledge the superiority of women. Men may be able to run the mile in less than four minutes and open stuck pickle jars with a twist of the wrist, but for all our physical prowess, we cannot carry new life within us and bring it into the world. To suggest that we do is a slap in the face of women.

It is also a slap in the face of our Creator, who made us male and female. We were not created with interchangable parts or traits, nor is it our purpose to duplicate or replace one another.

That's not a happy thought to many, because egalitarian culture resents differences. We believe (wrongly) that differences by their very nature are unequal. History would seem to support this assumption. The sad history of most cultures has assumed that male traits (authority and leadership) are superior to female traits (meekness and service). But that is more a product of human pride than of the created order. In the end, we have no objective standard by which to judge the intrinsic value of differing gifts and abilities.

Gender egality and gender differences both rightfully belong in Christian philosophy. As Christians we recognize the wisdom and sovereignty with which God made man and woman spiritual beings equally in His image and having equal intrinsic value, just as we recognize and appreciate that God created man and woman different physically, physiologically, and emotionally - and created to hold unique roles in the life for which He created them.

However, God also created man and woman to live in relationship with one another, in a manner symbolic of our relationship with Him. The most fundamental such relationship between man and woman is that of husband and wife in marriage - a relationship directly analogous to and symbolic of Christ's relationship with His bride, the church. Let us take a moment to explore the biblical nature of these relationships.

On Marriage:

4 "Haven't you read," [Jesus] replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,'[Gen. 1:27] 5 and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'[Gen. 2:24 ]? 6 So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."

Matthew 19:4-6 (NIV)

On Christ and the Church:

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Ephesians 5:21-33 (NIV)

On Unity in Christ:

26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Galatians 3:26-29 (NIV)

12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many...

I Corinthians 12:12-14 (NIV)

If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

I Corinthians 12:26 (NIV)

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

I Corinthians 12:27 (NIV)

In my opinion, the analogy between the relationship between husband and wife and the relationship between Christ and His church is perfectly clear. Now, I don't want to take the analogy farther than Scripture implies, but I don't think it is going too far to say that the intimacy and unity between a husband and wife is analogous to the intimacy and unity between Christ and His church. In fact, I believe God intended this symmetry between these relationships, so that through marriage men and women would develop a greater understanding of the intended nature of their relationship with God.

So when we are told that in the body of Christ, when one suffers all suffers and when one is honored all rejoice, I believe the symmetry applies also to the marriage relationship. It is God's divine intent that the two united as one suffer together just as they rejoice together.

Do these shared experiences demean or belittle the unique role husband and wife each play in the marriage? Not at all. Consider again the words of Paul:

28 And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?

I Corinthians 12:28-30 (NIV)

God clearly intends for the different parts of the body of Christ to play unique, individual roles according to the direction and gifting of the Holy Spirit; likewise, God clearly intends for husband and wife to play unique roles in the marriage. Even so, the many parts share equally in the experiences in which each one suffers or rejoices. Therefore, God ordained a marriage relationship that is both egalitarian in intrinsic value and shared experiences, and discriminatory in role and gifting - just as God ordained the same characteristics for the body of Christ.

Therefore, it is only natural that a husband would identify with his wife's experience of pregnancy. That he cannot empathize with the physical, hormonal, and emotional changes and stresses of pregnancy is completely irrelevant; he still experiences all of those stresses and changes both directly in his relationship with his wife and vicariously through his wife. And just has he cannot experience the full measure of his wife's suffering through pregnancy, neither can he experience the full measure of her joy.

Thus, far from being a "co-opting of women by men", much less a "slap in the face of women" or - heaven forbid - "a slap in the face of our Creator", a husband's proclamation that "we're pregnant" is an affirmation of both his God-ordained relational unity with his wife and his God-given role of supporting his wife through the suffering and joys of pregnancy.

Back to the article; after the author spends several paragraphs defending the undisputed argument that men and women are created with differences, he begins his conclusion:

My point is simply this. I continue to look for ways to encourage us all to relax a little about gender. I'm hoping that after the tumult of the last 30 years—during which time women have rightly learned a great deal about things like leadership and men have rightly learned a great deal about things like nurturing—we can once again affirm what culture after culture in human history seems to confirm: We are created male and female, both fully loved in God's eyes, but created with unbridgeable differences.

I think perhaps the author needs himself to relax a little bit about gender. It seems counter-productive, if one's objective is to "relax a little bit about gender," to denounce the use of a phrase that is intended solely to emphasize the relational unity between husband and wife in marriage during pregnancy.

Also, I disagree that male and female were "created with unbridgeable differences." As individuals, yes: men and women cannot hope to bridge their created differences; however, men and women were never intended to live as individuals. Our Creator endowed us men and women with differences that are intended to be complimented and completed in the marriage relationship. God did not create gender differences to be unbridgeable; rather, God Himself bridges those differences through the bond and covenant of marriage

(Again, I note the symmetry between the marriage relationship and the body of Christ, since God also intended that the differences with which He endowed each unique part of the body all compliment and complete one another, and all such differences are bridged through His Holy Spirit.)

Finally, the author concludes:

Better than the language of equality, I believe, is the language of fulfillment. "God created man in his image, male and female he created them." That is, we do not reflect the divine image when we try to duplicate or co-opt or replace each other. It's only when we participate with each other, with all our differences as male and female—as married couples, as friends, as co-workers—that we begin to fill out the image of the Triune God who created us.

Whenever that happens, I believe God once again says, "It is very good."

How truly ironic! A husband who uses the phrase "we're pregnant" epitomizes the principle of participation with his wife; indeed, the phrase is the epitome of "language of fulfillment."

Therefore, I stand by my original conclusion:

So, I proudly declared that we were pregnant, and when God blesses us with another child, I will do so again. It in no way belittles Stephanie, nor her role in the child-bearing process; to the contrary, it affirms God’s plan and desire that this process be experienced as a man and a woman, united as one, in Him.

Lillian: Two Months Old

Filed in PersonalTags: Family, Fatherhood, Photos

Hard as it is to believe, Lily is already two months old!

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Lily is two months old today! (Look how big I'm getting!)
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

Lily is definitely getting more and more curious about her surroundings:

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Lily is two months old today! (Princess is still very curious, but also very cautious.)
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

She got all dressed up for her big day, but by the time we were able to take pictures, our poor baby wasn't in a very good mood. She had to visit the doctor for her checkup, and got four immunization shots in her legs.

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Lily is two months old today! (And not happy that Daddy is trying to get her to sit up in the glider.)
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

And, just to see how much she has changed in the past month:

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Free At Last!

Filed in PersonalTags: Family, Marriage

For those of you who know what it means, today is a day to celebrate, because as of this morning, Stephanie is finally free!

In related news, we are planning a private wedding ceremony, Saturday, September 8th, at my parents' house in Indianapolis. More information on that, later.

Thank you, Lord, for answered prayer!

Anniversary Flower Photography

Filed in PersonalTags: Family, Marriage, Photos

The rose bouquet I got Steph for our anniversary has really started to open up over the past couple days. When I woke up today, I noticed the morning sun illuminating the blossoms magnificently so I attempted to capture digitally the beauty of the flowers:

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Anniversary flower bouquet.
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

One Year Anniversary!

Filed in PersonalTags: Family, Marriage

Today is a very important day for our little family: July 3, 2007 is the one year anniversary of my first date with Stephanie.

What an amazing year it has been! I never imagined that in a year's time I would have the family I have always wanted, that in becoming a husband and father I would finally fulfill some of my deepest desires.

In the time we have had together, Stephanie has shown herself to be the one person with whom I was destined to be, forever - and she has become my best friend, my confidant, my motivation, my heart, and my life. With her, we have the greatest blessing in the world, in our Lily.

I couldn't imagine life without either of them, and I am so happy and privileged and blessed that God has directed our steps to reach this point in our lives. I know this has been but one year in a lifetime of years, but it is still significant to me (not to mention, it is by far my longest relationship - sad as that may sound).

Tonight, especially, I am the happiest man alive. Stephanie, baby, I love you!

Lily is One Month Old!

Filed in PersonalTags: Family, Fatherhood, Photos

Yesterday, Lily turned one month old! Where has the time gone already? To mark the event, Lily has a new, One-Month Old photo album.

It is amazing to see how much she has changed and developed, in just one month. Here she is, a few hours after birth:

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Lillian swaddled, a few hours after birth.
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

And here she is, at one month old:

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Lillian, one month old.
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

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Here's adorable, little Lily in all her cuteness.
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

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Lily is getting more and more expressive. She is also getting more and more red hair!
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

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Lily is still slowly learning about her arms and legs and hands and feet. She is getting really good at sucking on her fist, and occasionally, she will figure out how to suck on her thumb.
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

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Mommy caught this picture, after both Lily and Daddy had a very long day.
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

Finally, this last photo was taken a few days ago, but it (finally) shows just how well our cute, adorable, sweet, little Lily can demonstrate the Bennett Lip:

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The Bennett Lip, in full effect
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

Catching Up On Lily Pics

Filed in PersonalTags: Family, Fatherhood, Photos

I apologize for being remiss in keeping everyone updated on Lily's pictures. I have been taking them, just haven't uploaded recently. As of this morning, I should be all caught up. Below are some highlights from the most recent pictures added to her Newborn Set (Tuesday brings the beginning of her One-Month Old set!).

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Daddy's chest remains Lily's favorite place to sleep. Lily is always so kissable, but especially so when she snuggles her head right up underneath Daddy's chin.
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

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On this day, Lily had another new experience: her first bath at home. Here, she is cozy, comfy, and clean after her bath.
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

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Lily continues to sleep in the most adorable poses!
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

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At only three weeks old here, she is already getting so big!
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

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Certain Bennett genes are incredibly prominent with Lily; for instance, she definitely inherited the Bennett Lip. This picture is the closest I've come to documenting her ability to demonstrate it.
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

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It is a bit blurry, but here is Lily demonstrating her adorable "just woke up, disoriented, and hungry" look. This is the look that I see everytime I wake her up to change her diaper before her feeding.
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

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Usually, Lily remains a very peaceful sleeper.
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

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But this look is usually accompanied by various forms of grunting - and it usually indicates either that she is taking after her Daddy, passing gas, or that she is leaving her Daddy another diaper gift.
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

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Often, Lily likes to lay awake, chomping away on her binky. Though, as she learns that her hands are attached and that she can control them, she alternates between trying to hold her binky in her mouth, and pushing it out - the latter resulting in a very ticked-off baby!
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.

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But how can you not fall absolutely in love with a baby girl as cute as Lily?
Photo © Chip Bennett, all rights reserved.