Wednesday, October 31, 2007

9-1-1, What's your emergency?

"Our house is filled with smoke!!!" Yes, folks. That was me at about 4:00 today.
The boys and I had just arrived home from our usual afternoon walk. We were gone for about an hour, walked into the back door, and were greeted with thick, white smoke. Looked like a scene out of the movies - couldn't see much of anything.

I quickly ushered the boys and the dogs outside, set Xavier in the grass, told Ben to stay put, and ran back into the house, locking the door behind me so Ben wouldn't follow. Ran from room to room to see if I could find the source. It was hard to see, there was smoke on both levels of our house. I couldn't see anything that was obviously on fire, but knew I needed to get out of there fast. I stood in the kitchen for a couple of seconds and thought, "this is it. what do I save? We're going to lose everything." I grabbed my car keys, my laptop with all our pictures on it, and the phone and dashed outside.

Called 9-1-1. Neighbors ran into the house looking for the fire too, with no luck. God bless our volunteer firefighters, they were here quickly, with an awesome response time of about 5 minutes. I was trying to get Nick on his cell...all sorts of thoughts going through my head - where will we live? what will we do?! we're just finishing up the kitchen, and now this? what special, irreplacable memories are we going to lose? I'll never forget Benny looking at me, saying, "Mommy, what the matter? Why there smoke in the house? Mommy, don't cry!!" (I was...hard not to at that point.)

The fire fighters opened windows and used a giant gas powered fan to ventilate the house. Smoke was billowing out of the windows. Truly scary.

The culprit? A fire on our cooktop. A 3 ring binder had been sitting next to it, got bumped, and somehow turned on the burner (very low) and landed with an edge on the burner. Probably happened when I was cleaning in that area right before we left. Thank God we came back when we did. Or we could have lost everything. No, we were very, very lucky. Now everything just stinks like smoldering plastic. We can deal with that.

To the rescue! Ben was absolutely beside himself with excitement - firemen at his house! He ran over and picked up someone's helmet and respirator mask that had been left unattended and put them on. He followed them around like a little puppy outside (this was after the initial flurry of activity had died down). He gave out lots of hi-5's.

Xavier was relaxing with Nick's mom (she came after I called her, immediately after my 9-1-1 call). You know what I find pretty miraculous? Xavier is terrified of sirens, whether they're loud, or if you can barely hear them, he turns bright red and screams uncontrollably. None of that today, even though they were very close and loud...its as if he knew they were coming to help us this time. And that was ok with him.

So the damage was very minimal, considering the amount of smoke the smoldering/fire caused. The cooktop (which has a life expectancy of approximately 1 week due to the remodel) was the only thing damaged. The blue thing on the burner was a wheel off of Xavier's toy truck that had been sitting on top of the binder.

Hope this wasn't important...unopened mail :)

Trick or Treat!

After the drama of this afternoon, our pleasant evening spent doing the traditional Halloween activities was welcomed!

The boys were pirates, although their costumes were much 'abbreviated' due to the rushed nature of our evening, Benny's insistance that he was done being a pirate (after the party on Friday and today at school I guess he'd had enough)...and, most importantly, their mother's stress level.

Xavier loves trick or treat. He claps his hands and blows raspberries when a group of kids comes up.

Ben ate about 10 lollipops, helped kids pick out which candy or color of playdoh (also gave that out) they wanted. He would say, "Trick or Treat! Have fun!!" Nick tried to get him to go door to door with him, but he was having way too much fun giving out the candy, he did not want to leave!

So all in all the evening was enjoyable, the kids had a blast, and our house is still standing. Not a bad day.

X and B checking out their pirate treasure!

Some excellent standing by Xavier tonight!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Our two pumpkins (and their pumpkins ;)

Tonight we used Mr. Potato Head parts to decorate pumpkins. Both boys' pumpkins have very fitting attire - Benny's is a ninja...and Xavier's is an angel. :)

The concerned look on Nick's face is because the parts were SO hard to push in!

Xavier adjusted his angel wing.

Here they are, proud of the finished product!

Still playing outside!

Even though its chilly outside, the boys and I still try to get out to play every day (unless its pouring down rain...) Here's a few photos from our time outside today:

Ben is always trying to get Ruby to carry a stick. This is something that delights them both.

Catching a bubble - this is probably the best action shot I've ever taken! If you can't see it, the bubble is between Ben's hands!

Ben comes up with new ways to ride his glider every day.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Halloween Party!

Tonight our friends threw a big Halloween party, complete with fog machine, strobe lights, spooky music, and fun games! Ben had a blast, we lost him several times in the crowd, which was a little unnerving...but overall, the night was a fun one.

Xavier was definitely a bit out of sorts today. Probably because Ben hasn't allowed him to take a nap all week. Ben is done napping, much to my dismay. Anyway, Xavier was so cranky, he spent the evening with Gma and Gpa P. He would not have at all appreciated the noise level, darkness, and flashing we made a good choice on that one.

Ben the pirate (look next week for both boys in their pirate attire):

Me the mummy - the kids divided into teams and wrapped an adult with toilet paper. Here I am, getting all wrapped up:

The rain made for a bit of a mess with the toilet paper, but it was worth it...we won!

Bennett in all his messy t-p glory! Notice 3/4 of his costume is gone. Never expect a three year old to keep anything on for too long, I guess. :)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

School, October 15 - 25

More pumpkin art - tis the season! The top pumpkin was done by Xavier - beautiful mixture of fall colors! And below is Ben's a 'copying' project. His teacher painted the pumpkin on the left and Ben copied it on the right.

The boys each made a fill-in-the-blank book about apples. Xavier's is shown below, saying that applesauce is his favorite yummy apple treat. (very true! although the boy hasn't met an apple pie he didn't like either!) Ben's pumpkin book helps him understand "location" words, like under/above etc. Ben also did his rendition of a rotten apple in the bottom picture.

School is very enjoyable for the boys. For the last two weeks, they have been learning about apples and they grow, what they are used for, etc. Last week the class made applesauce! This week, as their teacher put it, their class pumpkin "got a lot of mileage." Carving, floating experiments, seed cooking and eating, and finally today, putting it to rest by pounding golf tees into it. Ben reportedly was very fond of the last activity. ;)

Gait trainer update

Besides providing Ben with a fun mode of transport about our house, the gait trainer is really getting good use. Xavier loves being in it and does well with 'walking' and standing in it. Here's a couple new shots of him from this afternoon:

Ben's quotes of the week

"Mommy, I look super cool!"

"Look Mommy, I have a mustache and a necklace!" (I didn't even know he knew the word mustache.)

Other quotables I don't have a picture for:
1. "Mommy, Daddy, stop it please! I trying to talk here!" (Nick and I were having a conversation and trying to teach him a lesson by ignoring his repeated attempts to interrupt us.)

2. After learning that Santa will be coming soon, Ben couldn't stop talking about it.
Ben: "Where Santa at, Mommy?"
me: "He's at the North Pole, Ben."
Ben: "Where that be?"
me: "Way far away. Santa only comes close to us at Christmastime."
Ben: (obviously dissatisfied with my answer, cocked his head and said, "well, I want my presents, Mommy. I want 1-2-3-4-5-6...lots of presents!"

3. A similar counting quote: Ben was carrying around a little bowl of about 20 acorns in our backyard when our neighbor asked him, "Ben, can you count the acorns?" He said, "Yes! 1...2...ahhh...A LOT!"

4. "Mommy, go see Xavier." he says as he's motioning for me to walk away from him. This is his clever way (so he thinks) to distract me so that he can get into something b-a-d. Other versions of this tactic exist, such as "Mommy, go talk to Daddy." and "Daddy, go do something else."

5. Tonight during dinner, Ben suddenly climbed off of his chair and ran to the bathroom. Seconds later, he came back into the dining room and said, "Mommy, come with me please!" Of course, I followed him, wondering where this was going...we went into the bathroom, he looked at me with a very concerned expression and said, "take my pants down please, Mommy. My hands all grubby." God love him - he didn't want to get his pants dirty. This is laughable considering the amount of dirt he doesn't seem to mind elsewhere...anywhere but his hands. Another example - after giving him an apple cinnamon rice cake for the first time, he looked at the rice cake, looked at me, looked at his hands and said, "Mommy. I don't want this. It all sticky. Take it away."

Ah, my crafty and smart Bennett. Provides us with so much entertainment daily. :)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The world according to Ben.

It occurred to me today that I need to be recording more of the little things that Ben says. The acquisition of language is an impressive thing to observe. Here's some conversations that Ben and I have had over the last couple of days:

At dinner last night:
me: Eat your beans please, Ben.
B: Mommy, where Nicky at? Where him be?(he's taken to calling Nick, "Nicky". don't laugh!)
me: "Where do you think he might be, Ben?" (having been reminded several times Nick is in Boston on business)
B: "ummm, Daddy go on airplane far, far away. He in Boston. He working. I go in helicopter, chase after daddy. Bring him home."
me: "Wish you could, Ben" :)

Today on our walk:
me: "Ben, PLEASE, come back and follow Mommy and Xavier." (it takes us 35 minutes to walk only 1/2 mile...Ben finds treasures everywhere he looks - reflectors on sticks and loose gravel is apparently very interesting to a preschooler.)
Ben: "Mommy, I be right back!"
and he is...bringing me two dandelions.
Ben: "Here you go, Mommy. Two flowers for you! Put them in your hair please, Mommy."
me: "Thank you, Ben. What a lovely gift!"
Ben: "I make Mommy SO happy!"

And lastly, today while washing hands after lunch:
Ben: "Mommy, where baby Kathryn and baby Olivia at?" (he had just seen their pictures on our bulletin board on the way into the bathroom).
me: "They're with their mommies and daddies, at their homes."
Ben: "They with their mommies and daddies. And their Xaviers."
me: "and their Xaviers? Not everyone has an Xavier in their family Ben. Not everyone can be so lucky."
Ben: "yeah, Mommy. We lucky." I'm not sure he knew what that meant, but it made me smile all the same.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Barn

Last Sunday, after church, we went out to lunch at The Barn...a fitting name for a restaurant nearby that actually looks like a large barn. Our friends and their family were with us, and it made for a very enjoyable afternoon! There is also a pond on the property - perfect for duck watching on a beautiful fall day. As you can see, Ben's photo strike is still in full swing - I've taken to snapping shots from behind him - candids can be cute too :)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Walsh Farm

Saturday, we went to Walsh Farm, which is a family owned and run farm filled with fall fun. (boy, that was a lot of "f's" :) Our intent was to get our pumpkins, but we came away with a really memorable experience too!

When we got there, Ben was immediately taken with all the hay bales which formed a maze and a tunnel. He ran straight into the maze and was so pleased to find his way to the end all by himself.

Then he thought the tunnel looked interesting, and investigated that too.

Xavier enjoyed sitting on the hay bales and watching all the kids run through the maze. Check out the "no hands" sitting!

A bunch of kids started playing "follow the leader" walking on top of the hay bales, and Ben got into the fun. Here he is about to jump from one bale to another. Does he have a future as a stunt man leaping across the tops of tall buildings?? Maybe...but I sure hope not!

After that we were off to the petting zoo, with baby cows, lambs, goats and donkeys. Practically all the animals came to investigate Xavier's wagon, which was apparently very interesting to them. Especially the goats and donkeys. Ben zoomed back and forth between all the animals, but had a particular liking for the goats. Mainly because they were too lazy to move away from him. :) Xavier loved all the animals and giggled continuously at them.

Farmer Ben:

Farmer Xavier:

Next, we ventured over to a big play area filled with about 6" of dried corn kernels. It was a dusty mess...but so worth it. The boys were both thrilled with this novelty! Ben enjoyed sliding down a slide that ended in the corn and filling up buckets then dumping them onto toys (thankfully NOT other kids, like some kids were doing...I was proud of Ben for not taking part in that activity). Xavier had the time of his life sitting in the corn, listening to and watching all the kids, and sifting through the corn with his hands.

Xavier was mad when I picked him up out of the corn (he whacked me on the head a few times and yelled at me :) but that was short lived, because our next stop was the hay ride. The ride included lots of bumps, which Xavier is always very fond of. He screamed and laughed with delight practically the entire time. Ben had a great time throwing off little handfuls of hay and looking at all the birds flying overhead.

Here's Xavier on the hayride, laughing at a bump:

And Benny looking inquisitive:

Me and the boys on the hayride:

After the hayride, we picked out pumpkins. Ben thought they made great chairs. He picked out 2 small pumpkins, one for him, and one for Xavier, and then Xavier got to "carry" them in his wagon.

On our way out, we were treated to a great surprise! A med-flight helicopter landed in a field by the parking lot to pick up a rescue crew for training purposes. The area was roped off, but we were fairly close to the landing site. I wasn't sure how Xavier would do with that, but we thought we'd give it a shot...and he LOVED it. I'll never forget the look on his face as the helicopter took off - complete joy. His hair was plastered down (as was all of ours) and he had this big open mouth smile on his face. He clapped all the way back to our car. And of course Ben was completely overwhelmed with happiness too. He said, "Daddy, I got to see a helicopter. It was SO cool!" That last statement pretty much sums up the whole outing! :)