Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas #2!

Our Christmas was nothing short of fabulous. We had Nick's family over to our house this year, which was fun and relaxing for us...dragging two squirmy, over-excited, over-tired munchkins about from house to house as we have in years past is exhausting. All in all, we had a great day spent with family - what more could you ask for?!

Ben couldn't wait to get downstairs. We were extremely surprised (yet grateful) that the boys slept in until a little after 8:00. Here's Mr. Bennett, rounding the corner with Daddy - "Wow, there's a lot of presents!"

Such concentration!

Ben loves hooded towels. Problem is- he had grown out of all the small size ones we have (he looks pretty ridiculous trying to squeeze into our duck or frog baby towels). Now he has this properly kid sized elephant towel. You should hear the sound effects he has for it!

Xavier, in his ever-present love of routines, was a little confused and disturbed by the absence of his normal morning relaxation period. He warmed up quickly after a little milk and some snuggles.

Ben had a tie for favorite gift this year...this is the first to share that title. A Geotrax train set. Ben is enamoured with all things trains. Since he's opened the set, he wants to do next to nothing else. Father and son working on the railroad.

On to favorite gift #2 - It took some coaxing to get Ben away from his Geotrax, but, Nick and I were so anxious to see his reaction to his new Diego bike. He had talked of it endlessly and this is the only thing he asked Santa for. After a couple minutes, Ben finally found his target, which we had hidden in the dining room (still under construction, ugh). He walked right past it several times, if you can believe it. But here he is, upon first noticing it, in all its garbage bag and ribbon wrapped glory :)

After Christmas dinner, we all posed for a photo, something that takes a little effort, but is so well worth it!
The Pandrea family:

And then more gift exchange madness! Here's Xavier opening his favorite gift this year...a little barnyard with animals, blinking lights and more cheesy preschool songs than anyone should ever have to stomach...BUT, it makes my little boy scream with delight and laugh his little head I don't mind one bit!

More deep concentration for the serious business of ripping open presents!

Xavier with Grandma, Grandpa, and Aunt Michelle. Oh, and Ben dashing about (checking out everyone's gifts!)

At some point, Ben went to the bathroom by himself - the result:

Xavier had such a good time. He loved the commotion of the unwrapping and surrounding laughter.

You wouldn't know it - but this is Ben enjoying his first sleeping bag and flashlight.

Bennett, Kathryn (cousin), and Xavier gathered around Xavier's new favorite toy - a real crowd pleaser it was!

Our latest family photo...can you tell the boys were worn out? (happy, but worn out!)

Heeeeere, Reindeer!

Ben sprinkled magic reindeer food all around our patio (which obviously makes an excellent landing pad for Santa's sleigh), so that they would know our house had the good cookies and carrots waiting for them inside.

Our neighbors got and earfull (if they were listening) - "Heeeeeeeeere, Reindeer! Come to our house! Bring lot of presents, please!"

Christmas excitement in picture form:

Christmas Eve Movie time

Benny and I snuggled up on the couch Christmas Eve afternoon to watch a Sesame Street special we had recorded earlier. He was so happy the dogs joined us - a rare treat for all 3 of them (the dogs usually aren't allowed up on the couch, but hey, its Christmas Eve, right?)

Who's this?

One guess.

Thanks Fluhrer Family! Awesome gift - the boys get endless giggles out of this!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas #1

Sunday, (Dec 23rd), we spent time at my Dad's house, and exchanged gifts with him and my sister Kelly and her husband Brian.

This was the boys' first taste of Christmas gift giving frenzy this year, and both responded in the exact manner we suspected.

Ben was (in this order): surprised --> captivated --> crazy --> bored --> crazy.

Xavier was (in this order): unsure --> unhappy --> screaming --> laughing (after musical intervention).

Here's Xavier in his 'happy mode' of the morning, modeling my new scarf from Kelly.

Brian, Kelly, Bennett, me, Nick and Xavier.
Bennett = captivated mode
Xavier = entrenched in unhappy mode - rapidly approaching screaming mode.

Standy Man.

Xavier has been really thrilling us with how well he is standing lately. However, as with all things Xavier - he has to be in the right mood, at the right time, and in the right place. He likes to stand in front of something - a window, our french door, or a small table with toys on it. He can hold nearly 100% of his weight, but needs a lot of help to balance. Its amazing how tall he is! Its hard to appreciate his height when he's laying or sitting, he's at least 3 inches taller than Bennett.

This end up!

This lasted about 10 minutes. Apparently, to a 3 year old boy, tearing around on your tricycle with your undergarments on your, well, amusing.

"My underwear on my head, Mommy! That's so goopy!" (Benny's version of "goofy". I was hoping he wasn't actually meaning "goopy" in this instance. And relieved to find he wasn't.)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Ahhh, wintertime in Ohio! *sigh*

Yesterday, we took a little road trip to my sister Kelly's house who lives in rural Ohio (Amish Country) about 1 hour from us. We had a very nice visit, but it was unfortunately cut short by lovely winter weather. A big snow/ice storm was predicted and when it started snowing, we decided to make a break for it, before it was too dangerous to navigate all the winding, hilly country roads.

Lucky we left when we did, because the roads got slippery quite quickly. Xavier screamed for at least the first 30 minutes of the trip home, because it was very slow going and he hates when the car stops.

We saw numerous accidents and at least 20 cars off the road. But, thanks to Nick's admirable winter driving skills, we arrived home safely in 2 hours (double the usual time). Here's a glimpse of what we encountered on our way home:

"Why we stopping all the time, Mommy!?" Ben was a little exasperated by the slowness of our travel...can you tell?

One thing that usually helps Xavier 'center' himself when he's melting down on car rides is music. We exhausted all the cd's we had in the car. After listening to a Playhouse Disney cd about three times, we were all (especially Nick and I) getting bored with it, so we moved on to more 'mature' fare. :-) Here he is, enjoying 'XTC'. I don't believe he's ever listened to it before, but in this photo, he's actually laughing, so we'll definitely keep that cd on hand for later usage.

Towards the end of our journey, when we knew that we were close to home and actually going to make it (there were some points were we questioned that!) we started getting a little goofy as relief set in (although, I think Xavier was praying in this photo :-).

Well, here's an idea!

Unruly dog? Unruly Ben? Stick them in a cage together - problem solved!

No, really. We visited my sister Kelly's house yesterday and Ben was completely smitten with their dogs. He followed them everywhere and eventually managed to lock both himself and Maggie in her crate. Maggie was very patient with him as he moved around, covered and uncovered her, and gave her lots of affection.

Friends forever ;-)

3 Engineers

Here are my boys, conducting our Christmas train.

Ben has become a master at the helm of this little locomotive. He is obsessed with it. Using the controls, he can vary it's speed and make it go in reverse. He is especially interested in adding sound effects.

Xavier loves the sound aspect of the train (it says, "HoHoHo, Merry Christmas!", blows a whistle, rings a bell, etc.) Another bonus for him is the fact that it has blinking colorful lights on it. Tonight Xavier was sitting so well watching the train go around and around, laughing and clapping. Almost made me cry :-)

Friday, December 14, 2007


Ben has a sense of anticipation and wonder about Christmas this year. To add to the excitement, he and I made an advent chain. Its become a special part of the day for him - here he is, cutting off today's link.

Daddy's helper

As work nears an end on our kitchen, Ben continues to be fascinated with the entire process. On Wednesday, Nick built temporary walls in order to take out a section of a load bearing wall - here's Ben helping with that, drill in hand (a real one, without the bit. :)

A humorous sidenote - The other night, Nick was putting Ben to bed and here's how the conversation went:
B: Daddy, come lay down with me for a little bit.
N: Ok, Ben just for a minute. And then I have to go get ready for bed, too. (A white lie - he had a lot to planned to do for the kitchen that night and was anxious to get to work.)
B: No, Daddy. You not gonna go to bed! You gonna go out in the garage and built new cabinets. You gonna go work on the kitchen!

There's no foolin' that kid! ;-)

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Bedtime cuddles

Santa, a train, and jumping - oh my!

Christmas is approaching rapidly! Today, we made our yearly outing to see Santa and ride the Christmas train at our local mall. Ben proudly told Santa that he would like a "Diego bike" (his favorite tv character).

As an unexpected bonus, there was a large inflatable jumping tent at the mall today. It goes without saying that Ben had an absolute blast. I even joined in the fun...the worker there took pity on poor Ben because he was in there jumping alone. He said, 'That's no fun! Climb on in, Mom, and jump with him!" So, in I went. If any of you were at Summit Mall today, thinking, 'who is that 30 year old woman in there looking quite ridiculous???' Uh-huh. That was me.

Imagine: This picture was taken a split second before Ben almost broke my nose. You see, neither one of us thought about the fact that the net would allow him to keep going beyond it when he ran into it full speed. Soooo, I hope you all appreciate this picture - ha!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

"I made a Happy Birthday cake!"

Tonight we had my dad over for dinner - celebrating his birthday one day early. Ben and I made a cake for the occasion this afternoon. I was very impressed with his interest and helping skills. A fun learning experience for him, and a nice memory for me :)

Greasing the cake pans:

I can't tell you how much self-restraint he showed with this portion of the activity. Ben loves butter. (Reminds me of my sister when we were growing up. Did he get that from you, Aunt Kelly?!) He kept saying, "Mommy, I gonna eat the butter!" Of course I advised him not to, explaining the pans needed the butter so the cake wouldn't stick to it when it was done baking. I could tell he was taking that comment in, that he understood, and decided the butter was better off in the pans than in his mouth. Good boy!

Here he is, glowing with pride, after dumping all the ingredients in the bowl. He even helped with breaking the eggs (hand-over-hand).

Fascinated with the mixer.

Stirring the was a marble cake.

Glued to the oven while it was baking.

Well maybe he wasn't completely glued. He broke away to watch "Polar Express" for the fourth time this week. He and Xavier can't get enough of that movie!

Xavier + chocolate icing = one happy mess.

Happy Birthday Dad (aka Papa Paul)! We love you!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Deck the Halls!

This weekend we put up our Christmas tree. Xavier and Ben had a good time watching the process and listening to the obligatory Dean Martin Christmas music playing in the background (I grew up with this tradition, and it just wouldn't seem right to decorate the tree without it!)

Ben was amazed that a tree can come out of a box. :) He watched intently as Nick adorned the tree with lights:

Xavier loves the little twinkly white lights. He would lay under or sit beside a Christmas tree for hours if we let him. He helped Daddy hold a string of lights (and played with them at the same time):

Xavier checking out the 'touchability' of the tree:

I tried my best to get Ben to take a picture - but he was on the photo strike picket line again. "No picture, Mommy!" Xavier is always game for a photo, so here are a few pictures of us(the last 2 taken through the tree :)