Sunday, February 24, 2008

Playtime with Abby!

Last Saturday, our family spent time with Abby, a three year old little girl we are very fond of. :-) She stayed with us for the day and we all had a very nice time playing!

Xavier loves when Abby is around. He adores little girls, because they tend to smother him with attention, and who wouldn't want that?! Abby found where Xavier is he is with the giggles:

Ben and Abby enjoying a book. (I think this picture is priceless, by the way.)

As the mother of two young boys, I never get to indulge in girly activities. So when I suggested we paint our nails, and Abby excitedly agreed, I was very happy to have her try her hand at painting my nails.

And of course hers required painting too! I was very impressed at Abby's steady hand, she did quite a nice job staying on the nail!

Ben watched this nail painting bonanza and was intrigued. "Mommy I want my nails pink too!" The results:

Upon further inspection, he seemed a little perplexed. ;-)

Abby and Ben had a good a time chasing the dogs around. Here's Abby having a cuddly moment with Stew.

Smiley face craziness! Between Ben and Abby, I think about 50 were drawn :-)

And finally - all five of us, enjoying a quiet moment together (snack time)!


Another bath, another hooded towel! Xavier modeling his favorite - a dog with big floppy ears :-)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Presidents' Day

The boys didn't have school on Monday because of Presidents Day, and I was bored, so that amounts to ridiculous amounts of silly pictures!

Allow me, if you will, to set the stage for the first photo...within the last 2 months, Bennett has become completely obsessed with Thomas the Train. He has books, loves the tv show (he can sing the entire theme song, which is impressive considering how lengthy and complicated it is), and has a backpack, splippers, and various items of it would just make sense that he would like an actual train too, right? But he has his Geotrax train set from Christmas (pre-Thomas obsession)...and Nick and I really don't believe in buying everything under the sun just because he wants it. But everytime we go to Target, Ben asks quite nicely to go to the toys and look at "Thomas and his friends." (Yes, that's actually what he says, just like the show, for all you 'in-the-know" about that. hehe.)

Some more background here - Ben very, very rarely asks us to buy him things while at the store. He's not the kid you see at the checkout bawling because Mommy won't give in and buy a toy. I've just always taken the "magical" approach of: "Benny you need to put ______ back where you found it. That's where it lives. That's it's home." This reasoning seems to make perfect sense to him, and he rarely challenges it.

So last Sunday, in "The Thomas Aisle" of Target (as it's referred to in the Pandrea family), Ben's desire for taking a train home with him apparently was overwhelming. Nick told me (I was with Xavier elsewhere in the store at the time) that Ben looked at him with serious, pleading eyes, and said, "Daddy, I want you to take back my silver train. (that's the geotrax one) And get me Thomas. Please." Ugh. Rip our hearts out! That was the first time he asked, but it wasn't one of those whiny, spur of the moment desires that comes out of flashy toys, this came out of Ben's heart, because he just thinks Thomas is the greatest thing in th world. So - home we came, with a new train and some wooden tracks to go with it.

Monday, he literally did not play with anything else, all day. And there was so much creative talk about what Thomas was doing, going, etc. The funniest thing was twice I found Ben in the garage (how does he get away so fast without me knowing?), with my van door open (its one of those automatic ones that you just have to pull the handle) saying, "Mommy! We have to go to the store. To get friends for Thomas! Him need Percy, and Gordon, and Henry, and Emily..." (and so on and so forth...)Ben and I made a "station" out of a card board box with doors for the train to pull into, and a tunnel.

(I was quite pleased with the photo above - Ben : looking at the camera and smiling! Xavier: watching and playing with Ben, sitting well, arms up (you can only see one, but wow!)

Xavier and I worked a lot on sitting and standing that day. I took the following photo as Xavier was sitting on my belly while I was laying on my back on the floor. He's getting so strong!

A couple of months ago, I noticed when Xavier was sitting, his feet didn't line up. The right extended further in front of him than the left. Of course, I started obsessing over this, checking over and over again, putting him in different positions to see if that made a difference. It didn't. So my mind was filled with horrible things - scoliosis, hip dislocation, maligned pelvis, potential surgery, horrific casts, UGH! After spending a couple of hours at the orthopedic doctors and having several x-rays, we learned that -- Xavier just has 2 different length legs! WHAT?! But, HOORAY! at the same time! I almost laughed at how ridiculous that is, and because of the overwhelming relief I felt (after envisioning surgery and months of agony with casting, etc.) A fun fact - the orthopedist told us that 70% of people have different length legs, by a few millimeters. Only very rarely does the difference in length become noticeable. So leave it up to Mr. Xavier to be that rare exception! (why does he have to be so good at being a rare gem?...he really is, so many respects!) His right leg is longer by about 1.5 inches, something we would definitely notice if he was walking. It is unrelated to his MEB, just something else rare about him...And as of right now, there is no correction needed. Again - hooray!!

Further illustration, with a piece of Thomas' track, of course!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Winter swimming

We recently joined our town's new community center which has a gym and a pool...and we've been taking advantage of both! The boys really love the pool. Its a stiffling 92* in the pool area and the water is about 90* give or take. I, for one, need this little respite from the chill of February. This has to be my least favorite time of year...the warm fuzzies of the winter holidays are over, and yet its still bitterly cold and snowy with no signs of glorious spring. I hate winter. Have I said that before? hehehe!

Anyway - back to the pool! Ben is always hesitant to get into the water at first. Who knew our little dare devil would be a little freaked out by the water? The first time we walked into the pool area, he said, "OH Mommy! That's big water! Wow. Big water. I don't know, Mommy. I don't want to go in the big water. I want the little water. Like the bath tub." He likes to sit in a chair, take it all in for about 10 minutes and then he adjusts and climbs in with us. Here's Nick, trying to coax him in.

Ben likes to sit on the steps and splash, or lay on his belly and kick his legs to splash.

Getting warmed up to go into the 'big water'!

The entire pool is no deeper than about 4.5 feet at any one place, so its perfect for swishing Xavier around, stretching him out, and getting him to kick and splash to build strength. He loves the water, smiles a lot, and yells at me when I get him out. Loudly. And it echoes in there. I feel sorry for the other swimmers!

We were chatting with the owner of the center last weekend and she offered to snap some shots of us...

Relaxation at its finest...

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Snow days!

This past week, we finally got a snowfall sufficient for outside play. Ben was thrilled when Nick suggested they go have fun in the snow.

First - an attempt at a giant snowball (which did not keep Ben's interest).

Then snowangels:

and sliding down the snowfilled slide (he did this for at least 10 minutes)!

His favorite activity was being pushed in a make-shift sled.

and then he wanted to push Nick...

Here he is distressed and consumed with sadness when his play in the snow had come to an end. He was clinging to Nick's coat, saying, "No, Daddy! I not done! I wanna go out and plllaaaaaaay!! ahhhhhhhhhh!!!" However, this was quickly diffused with a favorite, a mug of hot cocoa and a snack of pretzels.

Xavier and I chose to stay inside during Ben and Nick's outdoor adventure. We watched (warm and cozy) from the window. He was in a good mood, and had a case of the giggles, which delights me to no end...

The artiste strikes again!

"Mommy, I made a dinosaur!"

Monday, February 11, 2008

Hey, Smiley :-)

This morning, school was cancelled due to arctic temperatures. Thankfully, there was no snow accompanying. Have I mentioned I hate winter and am wishing for summertime? I think I might have. :-)

So this morning, I've been trying to keep the boys busy with school type activities so as not to wreak havoc on their routine. Mr. Bennett plunked himself down at the table with orange crayon in hand to "make a smiley face". Which he indeed did (quite beautifully, I might add!) and then promptly rushed it over to the dishwasher for display.

The proud, and decidedly accomplished, artiste and his work:

Saturday, February 9, 2008

More bedtime fun!

One of the boys' favorites for a bedtime story is a 'pop-up' book of farm animals.
Both of them smile the whole way through.

But what really brings out some giggles...
attack of the swan! With 'nose kisses' of course! Nick starts the book up high when they're on the page with the popup swan, zooms in on the boys, and the swan's beak kisses the boys' noses. Ahhhh, to be a preschooler and delight in such cute silliness :-)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Spaceship to Dreamland

Nick is in charge of bedtime in our household. This has always been the case, as I work afternoons (3pm to 11pm) three nights a when I'm home, I'm only an addition to the well-oiled bedtime machine.

A couple of months ago, Nick came up with this genius way to get the boys excited to head upstairs to their rooms. He becomes a 'spaceship', sound effects and all, and tells the 'astronauts' ("Commander Xavier and Commander Ben") to get to their "stations" (separate couches) and prepare for blastoff.

Xavier, who claps when he hears Nick doing his spaceship sound, gets picked up first. He is then "locked in" (arms wrapped around Nick's neck),

and then Ben hops on.

Let the countdown begin! Ben shouts numbers backwards from 10 as the spaceship makes its way across our living room to the doorway to the kitchen and then b-l-a-s-t-o-f-f! The spaceship whooshes through the kitchen, then through the dining room, and into the foyer to make the journey up the stairs. At this point, Ben holds out Xavier's arm, for proper flight form as they zoom up into 'outerspace' - the landing at the top of the stairs, of course.

First stop: Mars (Xavier's room). Ben and Nick always say the same thing, at the same time, "Here we are on Mars, where it is cold and dark." Then astronaut Xavier disembarks from the spaceship and is lowered into his cozy bed.

Second stop: The moon. (Ben's room.) After much discussion of how dark it is outside, where the moon is in the sky, and if he can see the stars...finally Commander Ben is lowered down onto his floor (he prefers to fall asleep there).

And then peace settles over Planet Pandrea. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh....

Monster trucks

Ben is fascinated with these vehicles of destruction (does he have a kinship with them, not sure? ha! just kidding.) Anyway, he's been playing with toy monster trucks for awhile now, but when Nick mentioned to him that there might be a show on tv about them, Bennett talked of watching it all the time. So we tivo'd one for him: he was glued to the set for the half hour it was on.

Commentary by Ben:
"Whoa, that's a big truck! It gonna get that bus! Watch out bus! Whoa! Mommy the bus is crushed!"

and when noticing that his toy monster truck had a real-life duplicate (what are the chances that the one he has was actually on the show we recorded?), he was awe-struck. He looked back and forth from the screen to his toy and said:

"Mommy! That my truck! That my truck! LOOK! My truck is on tv! Go truck! Oh man, that truck is dirty. The wheels are all yucky. It gonna jump and land on the cars, just like me!" which led him to promptly arrange his hot wheel cars in a line so that he could have his monster truck make a crash landing right on top.

Xavier also likes monster trucks, but his favorite part is the geared wheels on Ben's toy -- he loves it when we rev it up and then run it over his body. He laughs his head off at this...its become a tactic to get him out of a bad mood. Works every time without fail.

On this particular day however, Xavier had no interest in watching the video. Too much cheering and loudness he didn't appreciate. So he decided to listen to a favorite cd instead. Here he is enjoying a lazy moment (yes, that's a big yawn :-)