Thursday, September 27, 2007

We have TWO cowboys now!!

Its official - Benny is riding now too! Wednesday was his first day in hippotherapy. Hippotherapy is physical therapy with the added benefits of sensory input/motion from riding horseback. Xavier has been doing the hippotherapy since July of last year, and now Ben is able to take advantage of it too. The boys will share the same time slot, so I'm really looking forward to watching them ride together (on different horses of course). Xavier will still ride his ol' trusty CJ and Ben will ride his favorite - Pumpkin.

I waited until the morning to tell Ben what he was going to do. He was SO excited and talked about it quite a bit. He kept saying, "I'm going to ride Pumpkin! Like Xavier. Xavier ride CJ. Hooray!" When we went into the barn, he was his usual energetic self and wanted to feed "Cowboy and Angel" hay. One piece at a time. Here's a picture:

Xavier always seems to anticipate the fun of riding when we enter the barn too. He was following Heather (his PT) all over the place with his gaze as she was evaluating Ben before he could begin riding. Ben was so super-charged from all the excitement (and I think the dirt and all the fun stuff to get into in the barn, as usual), poor Heather had to chase him everywhere. You have the patience of a saint Heather!

Then it was time for Ben to don a helmet. He loves to wear anything on his head, so he had a good time with that. I had to laugh because he knew what size he wore before Heather and I did. He picked out a helmet sitting on a desk, "I wear that helmet." Heather thought it might be too big, so she looked for a smaller size...nope, didn't fit...Ben knew all along which helmet was for him, I guess...the one on the desk fit perfectly! Here his is, looking cool in his riding gear :)

I got to "side walk" with Ben because one of the volunteers was absent. That's a first for me and it was very fun to be a part of the action. I will never forget the look on Benny's face as Heather lifted him up over the horse to get into his first position, on his belly sideways over the horse. He was facing me and the look of pure delight he gave me almost brought tears to my eyes.

Just like Xavier, he rode in all the various positions - facing front, on his belly, facing sideways and backwards. We also stopped to play games to challenge his balance and work on fine motor and cognitive skills too. That's why I think hippotherapy is so great - its a fun unconventional way that has no match (in my mind anyway) in strengthening trunk muscles and building balance and coordination.

Here's Ben giving Pumpkin a hug. OK, so its the wrong end of the horse...but what's a boy to do when he's facing backwards and is overwhelmed with excitement and needs to give the horse a hug?!

Ben made me giggle when Heather kept asking him how to make the horse start walking when we were stopped. She had told him in the beginning that the horse will start to go if he says, "walk on". But Ben thought it was much more fun to say, "Go, Pumpkin, Go!"

Here's Ben reaching for the egg and spoon for the race at the end. The boys balance a toy egg that breaks when dropped on a spoon while racing from one end of the arena to the other.

This is the first time I've actually seen Xavier get pretty excited during the race. I think he knew he was racing his brother! He wanted to win! He was giggling and leaning forward when I took this picture.

The boys give the horses treats at the end of the session. Ben usually helps Xavier with this, but they each got to do it on their own this time.

Here's a couple of pictures of Xavier on the way home. He gets so "super-charged" after riding. Notice anything different about him? Glasses off! That's his new thing, loves to take his glasses off and try to put them on again. This time, he just put them beside his leg in the carseat, guess he'd just had enough of them for the moment. :) Look how happy he is - warms my heart! (and yes, I was driving when taking these pictures, but I was just randomly shooting without looking as I heard him laughing and clapping, so safety was not compromised! :)

We are very excited about this opportunity for Xavier and Ben, and thankful that they have such wonderful people helping them develop into strong, self-confident boys!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

A sweet treat!

This afternoon we decided to take a walk to the ice cream stand. Ben said, "I want white ice cream, Mommy!" When I told him white ice cream is called "vanilla", he said, "Vanilla isn't ice cream, Mommy. Its a kitty cat." This is because our good friends' new kitten is named Vanilla. So much for trying to get a concrete 3 year old to think abstractly. :)

Here's the boys on our ice cream journey.

Ben with his "white" ice cream.

Xavier was so happy and excited about his ice cream. Nick said Xavier was kicking so hard he could barely hang onto him!

We didn't stay too long because there were so many bees! Unfortunately I got stung between my fingers as I was trying to swat a bee away from Ben...but least it didn't sting him! On the way back home, Ben wanted to pull Xavier in the wagon. He always amazes us with his feats of strength. He managed to pull Xavier about 1/8th of a mile.

He couldn't resist going "off-road" one time - the small ditch was just beckoning him! Xavier thought it was funny; he loves a bumpy ride. Ben also took Xavier over the storm grates on our street, which are very bumpy. He said, "Here we go over the bumpies, Xavier! Weeee! Did you like that, Xavier!" Its really cute how he ends almost every sentence with the person's name he's talking to. Here's Ben taking Xavier off the beaten path, and a couple more showing off how strong he is ;).

A visit to the orchard

This weekend's weather was incredible - low to mid 80's and a beautiful blue sky. We love fall! Saturday we took a drive out to a local orchard to buy some apples and other goodies. Xavier and Ben liked all the neat things to see and touch - indian corn, gourds, pumpkins. I think Ben enjoyed the cheese samples most of all. He ate so many, I felt obligated to buy a block of cheese :)

Ben rocked in this rocking chair with this giant stuffed bear for a long time. After he was done, he brought it to Xavier for him to see too. Then he put it on the floor and got on its back saying, "I'm gonna ride the big bear, Mommy!" I told him the bear was tired and just wanted to sit in the rocking chair again. This obviously made sense to Ben :) who got right up and ran over to put the "tired" bear back in the chair. He said, "Have a good nap, Bear!"

Xavier liked the feel of the bumpy indian corn.

As we were leaving a train was going by in the valley in the distance. Ben was so excited! "Daddy, lift me up to see the choochoo train!"

Ben is an apple fanatic. When he saw the huge bins of apples at the orchard, he said, "whoa Mommy, that's a lot of apples. I'm gonna eat them all!" Here he is sitting on a hay bale eating just one apple :) Hey, you've gotta start somewhere, right?

The apple eating continued in the car.

Xavier blowing raspberries at Ben as he eats his apple. I think he was jealous.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Humor me, please :)

I'm very interested to see how many people are actually viewing our blog. We've given the website to tons of people, but not many people leave comments - which I find very fun to I'm wondering who is actually out there lurking on our blog! I've "turned off" the membership requirement for posting so it will be easier to leave comments, but now I have to screen, in order to prevent "comment spam". So don't be alarmed if your comment doesn't show up right away. I would love to see how many people are checking in on us and who you are; so please leave a comment on this post! Thanks!

These are pictures from almost a year ago, but just wanted to include some pictures in this post. I really love the second picture - its one of my all time favorites!

"Brrr! It's cold, Mommy!"

Benny enjoyed a popsicle this afternoon while watching Nick and our neighbor put the vent in for our new oven/cooktop. This involved cutting a hole in the brick outside and tearing down part of our porch ceiling. Needless to say, he could barely take his eyes off the action long enough to look at the camera for a picture. Ben is very interested in tools and fixing things. He wants to do everything just like daddy. He'll say, "Daddy's building us a new kitchen. Daddy's doing a good job." I'm so proud of Benny - he's very polite. In the store today, I had to return something and when the cashier handed me the receipt he said, "Thank you, thank you for our paper!" (its always 2 thank you's!). Then when we made our purchase of the day (a truck that was on clearance for $1.24!), he said to the cashier as she handed him the truck after scanning it, "Thank you, thank you for my truck!" I'm a lucky mommy.

In this picture, he had just taken a big bite off the popsicle. It was the one moment he was able to rip his eyes away from the excitment to say, "Brrr! It's cold, Mommy!"

My sleeping princes

Xavier and Bennett looked so peaceful last night - I just had to take pictures. I thought it was very cute that they were sleeping in almost the exact same position.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Back in the saddle again!

Xavier started back up with his weekly hippotherapy adventures last week! He loves it, and it really does make such a difference in the tone in his trunk. Its almost as if he gets an energy boost afterwards too. Just talking about riding CJ brings a big grin to Xavier's face. I'm so proud of him - he's so determined to get stronger!

Today was pretty warm for mid-September - mid 80's. Beautiful day! So I loaded the boys up with bug spray (the mosquitos are still bad here!) and off for a trail ride they went.


Benny was looking longingly into the field. There is an exciting possibility that Ben may also be able to get in on the action! We are checking into it, and maybe we'll soon have some pictures of Ben riding too!

Here's a favorite activity of Ben's. Any time there is a paper towel roll to be found, he pretends he's a pirate ("arrr! I'm a pirate!" he says)looking through a telescope. This "telescope" he found on the therapy office's bathroom floor. OK, I know that's gross, but I figured, it can't be any worse that anything else he'd touched in the barn minutes earlier. When looking through the telescope, he always says, "I see something!" and then proceeds to tell you what he has scoped out. Today he was following Xavier on his horse (of course) and a tiny white butterfly that was about 30 feet away - good tracking skills Ben!

Ben has 2 horses that he really likes at the barn. This one is Pumpkin, the other one is Ziggy. I'm hoping that he'll get to ride one of them. He remembers their names and always says, "Mommy - Xavier is going to ride CJ. I'm gonna go see Pumpkin and Ziggy."

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

After-school fun

Today Xavier and Ben had their friends Gabe and Clara over after school. Ben always gets really wound up when they're around because he loves them so much. And Xavier loves the attention from mother hen Clara :)

Ben and Gabe on the glider.

Clara was providing tremendous entertainment to Xavier - with silly faces and "feet puppets" and "hand puppets", as she called them, over the top of his highchair.

Xavier was laughing hysterically at Clara's wiggly feet when I took this picture!

A group shot -

Playing in one of the new cabinets - notice all the kitchen construction in the other pictures?

Whoa Gabe - look at you! This kick has a name, but I can't remember what he called it :) Ben was simply in awe of Gabe after this.

The big hit of the afternoon was everyone taking turns giving Xavier high chair rides. Xavier was loving this new game. He thought the bumps they hit when moving between rooms were hilarious. (sorry its blurry - they were going FAST!)

Apparently all that fun was exhausting, here is Xavier after Gabe and Clara went home :)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Just when you think its safe to leave the house...

this happens:

Yep folks, that's a mosquito bite right after it happened. Poor Xavier is so sensitive to mosquitos. And unfortunately, after the massive amount of rain and standing water we had a couple of weeks ago, it was mosquito breeding heaven. We literally could not go outside to play for over a week; just opening the back door was cause for alarm! I've never seen so many mosquitos in my life. The last couple of days have been better, but one still managed to find him this morning, on his back (through his shirt!) of all places. This is only his 2nd bite of the summer.The first one, about a week ago, was on his foot and caused it to swell up twice its normal size! So far, the one on his back has grown to a solid lump over a half-dollar size, with a large red ring around it. Bring on the Benadryl and hydrocortizone cream! Yikes!

Benny had withdrawl after not being able to play outside for that long, so he's really enjoying being out again. Here's our little man - "I'm hanging upside down, Mommy!" he shouts.

Ben has become fascinated with acorns. We have several mature oak trees in our yard, so this time of year, there are thousands of acorns tumbling from the sky. Ben likes to compare how big they are, "here's a tiny one, Mommy!" "Whoa, this one's giant, Mommy" (remember he ends almost every sentence with "mommy"? :) He's particularly interested in the ones that fall in a cluster, so he can count them. As he was seaching the ground and collecting them yesterday, I said, "Ben, show the camera your acorns so I can take a picture." He had just found a cluster of them and shouted, "hey camera, look at my acorns!!" (he was on the word "acorns" when I snapped the photo).

Xavier - so happy to be swinging once again!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Slowly but surely...

Our kitchen is slowly but surely coming together! Nick is almost done making the cabinets. They still need to be painted and installed of course, but we're getting there. Last week, we finally got all the masonry work outside completed, its nice to have our house without a chunk out of it (see previous backyard pictures). We still have a lot of work to do, but we're heading in the right direction. Hopefully I'll have a lot more pictures to post in the near future as things really start moving towards the finished product :)

Here's our new brickwork - the mason said that it could take about 2 weeks for the true color of the brick and mortar to be apparent (its still wet from installation), so hopefully the match to the old brick will be seamless.

Here are a few pictures of the boys playing by (or in) one of the new cabinets.