Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Blossoming Bennett

Just like springtime itself, Ben seems to be really blossoming lately. He's full of lots of new words (paragraphs, really), insight, and is gaining smarts to play us against each other. Its actually kind of cute right now, such as:
9am Ben: Mommy, I'd like some candy please.
me: No, Ben. No candy.
Ben: BUT MOMMY! Daddy said I could have some when I woke up!
(quite sure that didn't actually happen!)

I'm not so sure how cute it will be when he's 16 and trying weasel his way into borrowing the car, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it ;-)

And I continue to realize that he soaks up everything around him, when I hear him saying things like:

"COME ON!" When we're stopped in the car waiting for someone to turn etc...(So I have a little verbal road rage, sue me. Hehe.)

"You can't be serious."

"You've got to be kidding me."
(the last 2 are said when things are not going his way...just like I say them.)

And my favorite:
"SERIOUSLY!" (which I say all the time for all sorts of reasons.)

Ben's a fun kid to be around - curious, comical, cute. Here he is having a little too much fun with his milk at dinner. Nick was getting mad at me for letting him do this, but who of us doesn't remember blowing milk bubbles and watching with anticipation at how many more you could blow without the whole thing tumbling over the edge of the glass.

We love our neighborhood, and our neighbor behind us is one of the reasons why. She's a "neighbor grandma" to our boys. AND! she bakes us delicious sourdough bread. I love getting a call from her, saying, "Send Ben to the fence, I've just made bread!" Here they are, making the bread hand-off. She called back to me and said, "Ben said, 'Thank you for the yummy bread!'" Polite manners without being prompted - excellent Ben!

Lego craziness - Ben got in a groove for a couple of days, building these huge Lego towers. This one is taller than he is!

I've been cleaning out closets this spring, and its resulted in some paper shredding. Ben is fascinated with this activity, and will help me with it for about 30 min at a time (a stack of papers takes awhile to shred 1 piece at a time!) Xavier thinks the noise is hilarious and giggles. Yesterday, Ben told me, as we were shredding, "Mommy, I'm such a big kid. I'm helping you shred these papers! I'm a good shredder. I try hard, and do a good job." That last sentence is a good summation of you all the time, my sweet Bennett. :-)

Brown cheese!

A few weekends ago, Nick, Ben and I went down to Millersburg to visit with my sister Kelly and our brother-in-law Brian. We had a really enjoyable day - lunch at an Amish restaurant, a bit of shopping (indulging my sister's and my fondness for Vera Bradley bags), and then drove around in the middle of nowhere. We took in the beauty of early spring in a area without powerlines and were ok with being lost for a little while. Brian grew up there, and insisted that although he had no idea where we were, we were not lost. I believe we all laughed when he said, "Hey, we're still in Holmes County somewhere, so we can't be lost!" HA! (That's humorous, because Holmes County is a rather large rural county in Ohio, where everything looks relatively the same to me. I'd get lost in a hurry.) Its so serene there, even though there were houses, we were in the heart of an Amish community - so it was untouched by lots of the usual neighborhood nuisances. A view into a different life. Ben promptly fell asleep and the 4 of us caught up.

Before our drive, we visited Heini's Cheese Factory. Kelly had asked if we'd be interested in going there, my reply? "YES! How can we pass up eating cheese for about an hour?" Oh the samples! Probably about 60 different kinds of cheese and lots of other local flavor to taste and buy. Ben loves cheese (as do we all), and he was content to sit and scoot along the case of cheese as we made our way through the sampling line. Here he is lifting a giant cheese wheel.

We got through about the first 20 cheeses, and I saw in the middle of the aisle there was another favorite of mine - fudge. So I brought Ben a sample of the peanut butter fudge, which he immediately spit out because I didn't tell him what it was and he must have thought it tasted funny after expecting me to be handing him cheese. After I explained what it was, he wanted to sample the other 5 flavors of fudge they had (alright, I might have wanted to try them too...) Yum. Delicious.

Then we got back in the cheese line. Aunt Kelly said, "Hey Ben, what do you like best? The orange cheese or the white cheese?" He quickly said, "I like the BROWN cheese the best!" Meaning the fudge of course. So now, fudge will forever be known as "brown cheese" in our household. Very cute Ben :-)

When we got back, Xavier got a treat after we picked him up from Grandma and Grandpa's. He got to "drive" the car up the driveway. He belly laughed the whole way.

Thanks for the memorable day, Kelly and Brian!! Can you please bring some more brown cheese up our way when you come next? hehe!

Monster Trucks!

Back on February 15th, Nick and Ben went to a Monster Truck show with friends. I don't know how these pictures got lost in the shuffle, but they're fun to look at - so here they are!

This is Grave Digger, the infamous monster truck that has been around forever, as Nick has informed me. (I was a girly girl growing up and have no prior experience with such vehicles. ;-) Ben has a toy Grave Digger, and was very excited to see the real thing in action..."That's just like my toy, Daddy!!"

Ben and Gabe snacking and intently watching:

And...they're off!

The gang (minus Nick):

Ben still talks about the show. Especially the trucks jumping and crushing cars and (Ben's favorite) a schoolbus.

Recently, after apprehending the little guy after dashing off into the parking lot without me, I was reprimanding him. I explained why it was unsafe to run away without me with all the cars moving around. As many of you know, Ben has trouble with attention, so I was trying to use something interesting to help him understand. I said, "Ben, when you run away from me, its not safe. Because those cars are a lot bigger than you. They could run you over like a monster truck!" He understood exactly what I meant, but unfortunately, failed to see this as a problem. He said (with much enthusiasm), "Ooooo! That car is like Grave Digger! And I gonna be like the school bus!! It gonna crush me like a bug!" Yeah, Ben. Not good. Yikes.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Kalahari Waterpark

OH MY! Kalahari Resort and Waterpark was an absolute blast!! We went for a 3 day weekend April 4-6, partially to celebrate Xavier's 5th birthday, and mostly to have fun! We were excited to be able to go with two other families with children around Xavier and Ben's ages, making things extra interesting, chaotic, and fabulous. :-)

Here are Ben and buddy Clara, anticipating a very fun weekend.

And Gabe and Xavier drying off after a long day of fun.

Xavier had amazing tone while we were there, its as if all the sensory overload - noise, temperature, new things to look at - alerted him to sit up and pay attention!

We weren't sure how Xavier would react to the waterpark, but he surprised us by being completely happy with everything there. This included chilly water, lots of splashing, water falling on him or splashing into him, kids screaming, and the constrant drone of rushing water. It all thrilled him to no end!

Benny scoped out everything, carefully choosing what to do next. I was very proud of him for being so patient when we asked him to wait to move on to the next activity. Here he is looking at some of the "big kid slides" as he called them...he asked me several times to go ride them with him...but in the same breath would say, "I too little. I need to grow bigger to ride the slides." Awww, sorry buddy. Maybe next time.

This is one of the slides he could ride. And he loved it. So did Xavier! Nick rode with them a couple times.

Ben and I rode the "Lazy River" several times. He loved bobbing up and down in the tube, but absolutely hated the waterfalls cascading down at different points in the river. We avoided them, and all was well!

Kalahari is great for families. They have a few play areas geared just for preschool age kids and we spent lots of time in these spots (although they tied with the big wave pool for the boys' favorite places to be!) Here are Nick, Xavier, and Clara mid-slide!

And after...happiness!

Ben and Clara enjoyed all the slides, oh, about a gazillion times.

Ben was obsessed with all the little squirters and fountains everywhere. (As were most 3 year old children there!) They loved plugging them with fingers, feet, hands, or even their little bums, and then watching the burst of water as they removed whatever was blocking the fountain.

Examples of Xavier's delight with Kalahari.

Want a snack Mr. Turtle?

Well, maybe the turtle didn't want a snack, but Xavier and Ben did! Here's Clara helping Xavier at snack time. I told her to be careful, that turtle in the pool might not bite, but Xavier can! We call him "snapping turtle", better get your fingers out of the way fast when you're feeding him, or you might lose one!

Ben enjoyed refreshment throughout the day too!

And Happy Birthday again Xavier! We brought this yummy cake with us to celebrate. And of course, it HAD to have Xavier's favorite character on it - Mickey Mouse. He's obsessed. He MUST watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse every morning. OR ELSE. Don't try skipping it, its ugly. ;-)

The weekend was so much fun...I'll let the next two pictures tell you just how much - they explain it perfectly!

Kalahari petting zoo

Kalahari resort has a giant convention center connected to it, and lucky for us, there was a small petting zoo included in the outdoors convention going on. Here's Ben trying out a motor scooter being displayed. Enjoy it now, Ben. This is the only time you'll ever be sitting on one with my permission! (Sorry buddy, but that's when you get when Mom used to work with patients that have brain injuries...)

On to the petting zoo!
I regret that we do not have a picture of the snakes Ben and I got to pet. They were HUGE! Giant boa constrictors! Ben was fascinated by them. They were in a small pen on the floor, slithering around. Ben told me, "Mommy, I want to get in there with them!" Um, no, Ben. Instead, the "snake-man" brought one of them over to us and we were able to see it up close and touch it. So why no picture? Nick HATES snakes, and I had the camera...he wouldn't even get close enough to grab it from me to take a picture. Bless his heart. :-)

The rest of the animals were much more contained, fuzzy, and harmless. ;-) Ben and Xavier got to feed the pygmy goats and kangaroos crackers.

Ben liked trying to get them to eat one piece of straw at a time, just like the horses he rides in the summer...

The kangaroos were so cute and hoppy! And soft! I had no idea how fluffy their fur is. Xavier was quite taken with the kangaroos and antelope. He looked at them intently and reached for them. They were very interested in him too. I'm always amazed at how much animals seem to be drawn to Xavier. They like to look at him just as much as he likes to look at them. He and the kangaroos and antelope shared a few meaningful looks and nuzzles :-)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Kalahari arcade

To get to the waterpark, we had to make our way through an arcade/miniature golf area. As soon as we approached the first time, I knew that Xavier would either love it or hate it. And thankfully, it was the former. He clapped his hands, giggled and kicked each time we walked through and when we stopped to play some games. Apparently, the dim overhead lighting coupled with flashing colored lights, kids laughing/screaming, loud voices, beeping, and many different types of music from the games all bombarding his little brain at once was a good thing! Who knew!?

Ben and Nick had loads of fun here...

Ben's favorite by far was "Whack a Mole" - he acceled! ha! Here, Nick is helping him, but he quickly caught on and played a few times by himself. "I gonna whack them down, Mommy!"

Hey Ben, can you help out with the real ones in our yard now? ;-)

Happy 5th Birthday, Xavier!

Its official, our little boy is FIVE! I can hardly believe its been that long since he entered our lives at 5:59am April 2, 2003. By the way, personally, I think its hilarious that more often than not, the first time I hear Xavier awake every morning is almost exactly 5:59, give or take a minute or two. That just must be his pre-programmed 'start time'. :-)

Xavier had a delightful day filled with the simple things in life he loves: school, friends, family, balloons, and cake. Who could ask for more?!

Xavier and Ben loved playing with the birthday balloons. Xavier giggled about this activity for about 40 minutes.

Xavier LOVES cake. I was surprised when his teachers told me that he was angry about the cupcakes he brought to share with his friends at school that day (Ben and I had made them the day before). He apparently yelled at the cupcake when they showed it to him, and refused to eat it. Strange. BUT, at home, it was a different story. He reached for the plate of cupcakes as soon as we brought it near him.

Ben helped blow out the candles.

Xavier anhilated his cupcake, smashed it all over the place while eating it. :-)

Opening presents! Xavier got a special swing from us that allows you to lay down while swinging, and lots of other toys and clothes.

We also celebrated Xavier's birthday by going to Kalahari Resort/Waterpark for a long weekend - be on the look out for a post soon!

Happy Birthday, Xavier! We love you more than words could ever express! xoxo!

50*?! WHAT?!

Can it be?! Has springtime finally arrived in Ohio?! YES!
Its been 50* or thereabouts for the last week, which has made our family oh-so-very happy!

Ben pushing Xavier, and both of them are thrilled with the results:

Xavier and I. I think Xavier's saying, "Seriously, Mom. You take way too many pictures."

Let the yard cleanup commence!

Monday, April 7, 2008

The train obsession continues...

On our latest trip to the mall, Ben was so excited to ride the "Easter train", which was still up and running even after Easter had come and gone. I rode with him, he didn't really want me to (Mr. Independent, he is) but I thought it would lead to some nice photo ops. It did ;-)

Pure happiness:

Looking at Nick as we went round and round, making me a little queasy! hehe