Saturday, September 20, 2008

Hey, you! YES, YOU!

Please refer to the right hand column, waaaay at the top. See the little "Followers" section? I'd really love to know who reads my blog, so, if you'd oblige me in clicking on "follow" and add yourself to my list, I'd be a very happy person!

Its easy. You simply create a no-strings attached account with google and you're off and running. Or - better yet, for those of you who use gmail - you've already got an account, and you might not even know it!

So please, help me out here! hehe...I have so much fun creating this blog, and I'd love to know who might be out there enjoying it. I thank you in advance for all your participation! :-)

Camera tricks

Okay, all of you know by now I take way too many photos. I can admit to that. ;-)

Recently, I've realized that I'm way past due as far as figuring out how to use my camera to its potential. So, yesterday, I sat down with the manual, I'm ashamed to say, for the very first time since we got this camera a year and a half ago.

Among other things I learned (which all still need much practice and tweaking), I figured out how to use this really cool "color affect" option. It allows you to select one color to shoot, and the rest of the photo appears in black and white.

Here's some shots from the zoo today, using this effect. I love it. I need more practice, but I like these as first tries. Please click on the photo to see the true affect - the contrast in the sized down version is way less obvious.:

The Cleveland Zoo 2008

Today we spent our time enjoying 80 degrees and sunshine at the Cleveland Zoo. It was memorable for lots of reasons, including a fabulously fun train ride through the "Wallaby Walkabout", petting stingrays, and losing Bennett in the dark aquarium for a terrifying 2 minutes. (Don't worry, we found him. ;-)

A funny story:
Yesterday, I told Ben we were going to the zoo today. About 10 minutes later, we were watching tv, and he abruptly walked over the tv, turned the volume way down, and looked at me seriously.
This is how the conversation went:
Ben: "We've got to have a talk."
me: "Oh? About what?" (I was cracking up inside! Seriously? A four year old saying "We've got to have a talk." ?!)
Ben: "About going to the zoo, and all the animals we're going to see." After mentioning about 10 different animals, he said, "Alright. That's enough. We're all done, here." and turned the volume back up.
me: "We're all done? With what?"
Ben: "With all the talking. I'm going to watch tv now."

We met our friends Will, Courtney, Gabe, and Clara there. When we arrived, Will and Gabe had just finished a 5k run to benefit the Cheetahs at the zoo. Here's Clara and Xavier waiting patiently during the awards ceremony:

After the small ceremony (Gabe, age 8, came in first in the boys 14 and under division! Yay Gabe!), we were on to take in the sights.

Its humorous to me how young kids really don't discriminate their excitement for "normal" animals compared to "exotic" animals...
Example #1 -
me to Clara and Ben: "Look at the rhinos! They're so big! Listen to the sound that one's making!"
Ben: (excitedly pointing to the small pond in the middle of the rhino exhibit with 2 ducks swimming in it) "I see 2 ducks!!"
Clara: "There's ducks?! Where?!"

And here's Example #2:

Ben and Clara: "A chipmunk!!! He's under here!" (this was on our way to see the zebras and giraffes)

I took a similar photo as below about a year ago...I'll have to compare!

Here's Xavier watching Gabe, Clara, and Bennett climbing on a giant rope structure:

The zoo still has the same stingray exhibit from last year that allows you to pet these creepy looking animals as they swim past you in a giant, shallow tank. Xavier thought the rope netting of the enclosure was much more interesting though. He played with it for nearly 5 minutes.

It was hard to get Ben to move on. He'd say, "Look! That one's waving at me!" as they'd flap their bodies under his hand. He left shouting "Bye Stingrays! See you later!"

Will and Courtney left after lunch to go to a wedding, but Gabe and Clara stayed and came home with us. This wasn't really planned ahead of time, but it worked out to be a lot of fun. The boys love having their friends around.

The hands-down hit of the day was the train ride through the Australian animals exhibit. The small little steam engine and open cars bumped and squeaked along at just the right speed, so as to delight Xavier. He alternated between smiles and giggles to flat out screaming in delight.

There was a big finish to the ride too! As we neared the end, the train sped up quite a bit. We were all surprised how fast we went, and the kids were all laughing and smiling like crazy!

Xavier and I waited while Nick, Ben, Gabe, and Clara went down the "Snake slide".

We rode a tram up to the primates and aquarium, which Xavier thoroughly enjoyed.

There were a few play areas that were "must-stops". The kids wouldn't have it any other way. Gorillas? no. Playground? YES!

On the tram, back down the hill to the main part of the zoo.

Friday, September 5, 2008

First Day of School 2008

The boys were wildly excited when they woke up Thursday. It was their first day of school! Hooray!

They're headed back for another year at the same preschool as last year, with the same teachers, and some of the same kids! They'll go every Monday through Thursday from 8:30 to 11:15am.

Xavier was literally screaming with happiness when I told him that he was going to school.

Xavier always leans into Ben when he sits beside him, how cute is that?!

Ben said, "I want to stand by a tree like last year and take my picture!" What a memory that kid has! He got to pick the tree. This was his second pick. The first one was in our neighbor's yard. I told him to pick again. hehe

The morning went well. Surprisingly easy to get back into the swing of things. Mainly because we've still been going here and there to summer activities all along. Plus, school starts and ends 30 minute than last year, so that's a bonus!

And here they are, at their "table activity" upon first arrival. I was sooo happy to see that they both made the transition to starting the school day without any protest. It was like the summer had never occurred, and they just had come back from over the weekend. Fantastic way to start off the year!

Cute, lovey moments

Since school started Thursday, our mornings are now officially hectic again. Wednesday, it occurred to me that I ought to capture some summer laziness while I still could.

Here's how the boys and I started off each morning this summer (well, except, picture me in the bed, dozing in and out ;-):

They'd lay like that, just talking to each other and watching tv for about an hour while I dozed! What excellent little boys! Hehe. They're early risers, and I work late (I usually get home at midnight), so this plan seemed to work out quite well for us.

The boys enjoy each other so much. Its super cute and warms my heart like I can't even explain. Ben asks questions about why Xavier doesn't walk or talk, and I want him to feel like he can talk about this with us...

Recently, there was this conversation:
me: Ben, is Xavier different than you?
Ben: yes. I love him. He's my brother.
me: That is so nice, Ben, I love hearing that. I love you both. But how is Xavier different than you?
Ben: He has different eyes.
me: (thinking he was referring to, as I've told him before, that Xavier can't see like us, even with his glasses, he can't see very well.) Yes, he wears glasses.
Ben: Yeah. He does. But the color! I mean the color is different! Xavier has brown eyes like Daddy. And I have blue eyes like you, Mommy!

Good observation, Bennett :-)

I found the boys like this in the playroom, Xavier's giggles alerting me that Ben was up to something...

I said, "What are you boys doing in here?" and Ben said, "I'm tickling Xavier, right under his chin. He likes it! I like to lay with him. I think he likes it too."

Yes, Ben, he does. Very much. :-)

ps - Notice, this was a truly lazy day! Ben has no shorts, his underwear are on backwards, and Xavier is shirtless. To top that all off, that's what they slept in the night before, and this photo was taken after lunch! HA! I was living it up on the last day before school started! lol!)

Happy Labor Day 2008

Despite the fact that I had to work Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, we had a good holiday weekend, topped off with a cookout at our house on Monday afternoon. Just a couple highlights:

And a little fun:

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Parish Picnic

Last Sunday, we attended a picnic after church. Lots of good food, Bennett got to play in an inflatable obstacle course, and Xavier loved watching all the festivities. He had such a good time, "talking" and giggling almost the entire time. Such a change from the recent past...

X is quickly outgrowing his stroller - look how tall he's getting!

Ben and Clara patiently waiting their turn-

Ben LOVES Clara (and her big brother Gabe).

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Our little Mudgey.

As found from the resourceful people at


–noun. a bad-tempered, difficult, cantankerous person.

[Origin: 1570–80; unexplained]

—Related forms
cur·mudg·eon·ly, adjective

—Synonyms grouch, crank, bear, sourpuss, crosspatch

This, my friends is the perfect descriptor for Mr. Xavier at times, and has thus become his nickname. Curmudgeon has been shortened to "the mudge", or, my favorite, "mudgey."

Anyway, this seems as good a time as any to update everyone on Xavier's video EEG and visits to the neurologist for his "irritability issues". The EEG revealed that he is having several seizures an hour. Some are called tonic seizures, where he throws his arms out to the size, and then relaxes quickly back into a normal state. They last 1-10 seconds, and he remains conscious during them. Others are manifested in hand movements and slight facial grimaces, or don't show up anywhere but the EEG. This definitely warrants treatment, and he started taking Depakote about a month ago.

We (the doctor and Nick and I) chose this particular medication because it also doubles as a "mood stabilizer." The neurologist told us that some kids with neurologic syndromes are just wired differently, and that we can't attribute his moodiness to the seizures. Xavier just happens to be wired to be irritatable. As I've mentioned in previous posts, it was getting pretty bad. From the time Xavier was born, anyone could recognize him as a very tempermental, fussy baby. He cried a lot, was hard to soothe. It got better for awhile, when we did some listening therapy at about age 3 to help even out his reaction to transitions, moving in and out of different places, changing activities, etc. But the last year has gotten so much the point that our days were filled with more periods of screaming than not. I have a Pavlov dog response to certain noises and events (sirens, walking out of a store, loud laughter/voices, backing down the driveway)...even if Xavier is not with me, I cringe, waiting for the fallout of screams that inevitably ensues.

BUT! I'm overjoyed to report - the Depakote seems to be helping! There's still screaming, but way less of it. It doesn't "blunt" him, he's still sweet, social Xavier. However, I'm not so sure its helping with his seizures. They certainly haven't stopped. But maybe less. We go back to the neurologist later this month. We're on the quest to find the right drug(s) to help him and our whole family live a more pleasurable existance ;-) Its hard to see him be so moody...I want desparately to help my little love...