Sunday, October 17, 2010


The above is Bennett on September 12th showing off his "shirt that makes me super fast." He is completely convinced that if he wears one of 3 particular pairs of socks, this shirt, or his white shin guards (during soccer), he is faster than he normally is.

Actually, he IS getting speedier and more coordinated when running. Someone at his soccer game today commented to me that he is "small, but scrappy!" Scrappy?! I like it! (I'm pretty sure he meant that in a good way.)

He had a GREAT game today, including a fantastic defensive kick that moved the ball 3/4 of the way down the field and led to the set up of a goal. He played goalie for a quarter and made an awesome stop too. Almost made a goal kicking the ball through 2 of the opposing team's players, but it went just on the wrong side of the goal post. UGH, I wish I had pictures of all this action! I had my camera, but my SD card was sitting all by itself on the kitchen counter, leaving my Nikon just an empty shell of an electronic. :-(

This was the last soccer game of the season, but there will definitely be more to come. Recently, Bennett informed me of the following, "My three sports are soccer, basketball, and golf." Nevermind he has never played basketball and has only mini-golfed, but apparently, this is what we're in store for in the next 12+ years. He was so excited to sign up for basketball, and that starts next month. I will be sure to bring my Nikon AND my SD card.


This is Stewart.

He's part Beagle, part Collie and all "barking-hole-digger". I think that should be his breed name, since he's officially a mutt.

I suppose I love him. ;-) He's almost thirteen, and has been with us for 10 years. I got him from the Summit County pound the day he was set to be euthanized. I've never known a more affectionate, appreciative animal. He still acts like he's a puppy, running around the yard like a maniac and jumping over small objects for sport. On the other hand, he also knows how to relax, and can sleep for hours without moving a muscle.

Stew is famous for digging holes underneath our fence and escaping to roam the neighborhood, eventually ending up at Nick's parents' house, getting a biscuit from them, and then carrying that biscuit a quarter mile home to eat it in the comfort of his own living room.

He's the reason that I cannot sit down with a kitchen full of dishes after a meal, even if I wanted to. He barks and barks and barks until the kitchen is clean. (He is under the impression that there's a chance I'll give him some remnant from a plate if I'm not cleaning things up immediately.)

Poor Stewart lost his best friend back in April. Our other dog Ruby's death hit us all a little harder than we thought it would. Stewy wouldn't eat and was very lethargic for weeks. He lost weight. But gradually, he's regained some spring in his step. More on Ruby when I go back and cover what I missed this spring.

The best Stewart story of late is from over this summer when he ran through FRESH TAR on one of his excursions about town. He returned home, with a front paw that looked like he had dunked it into a bucket of tar, and little bits all over his belly/chest (from running with the tar-laden paw) and on his whiskers (from trying to lick the tar away.)

He came into the garage, I opened the door, and was happy I censored expletives as B happened to be standing right behind me. I said, "STEWART!!! Are you kidding me?!" And Ben said - "Yeah, Stewart! Are you kidding me? Are you kidding us? Are you kidding EVERYONE?!"

Isn't that awesome? So, when "are you kidding me?" just doesn't pack enough wallop, "are you kidding everyone?" really fits the bill.

Back to the tar - 2 hours of cutting, using Goo-gone, and Go-Jo hand cleaner, Stewy was set free from his tarry prison. I used the Goo-gone prior to reading the bottle, which said something like, "avoid prolonged contact with skin, contains chemicals that are toxic and flammable, never ingest." I read that, and then glanced over at Stewart who was licking his paw, completely soaked in the Goo-Gone.

But what doesn't kill us, makes us stronger, and Stewy emerged triumphant over solvent toxicity and fresh tar. What a dog!!


Bennett and I can make ourselves sick on berries. We eat strawberries, blackberries, and red raspberries by the pound. No joke. My attempt at growing our own this year was a big fat failure, so we found ourselves at Rittman Orchard about every other week throughout berry season, picking till our berry bucket runneth over. If you have a dedicated "berry bucket" that says something...

This day, September 4th, was particularly Fall-like before it's time. I LOVE Fall. Love it. I love the crisp air, the colors, the smell of the leaves mixed with the last of the season's fresh-cut grass smell. Most of all, I love the sky and it's contradictory moods - bright blue patches with glowing white friendly clouds, mingling with gray rimmed ominous looking clouds. I love the depth of a Fall sky - it always seems so 3-dimensional to me, in a sense that it rolls out in front of you across the horizon and is so fluidly dynamic. Its mesmerizing.

Here's an example that doesn't even go 50% of the way in showing you how pretty the sky was that day:

B, with aforementioned berry bucket:

He's quite the poser now, thanks to my God-Daughter, Clara. I adore her...she is drama personified. Bennett is picking up on her mad posing skills. Only her "crazy poses" though, because, after all, he is 6 and a boy.

Game Plan

Shame on me.

Honestly, Kristy - what have you been doing the last few months? I'm so regretful that I haven't kept this blog up in real time. However, I am going to commit to the following:

1) Update from the day school started to present with pictures and journaling of our highlight happenings.

2) Blog our Disney vacation from back in January. (Stop it. I know that was 10 months ago. Just. Stop.)

3) Blog from January to present all the little posts I've missed along the way. And the big posts - like our vacation to Mexico in July. (I know that was 3 months ago. Stop.)

4) Accomplish all of this by the end of November. (I know this is a lofty goal. Before you scoff at me, stop.)

I will do this!! Just you wait.

(Thank you for your patience. :-)

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Here are me, X, and B on the morning of Xavier's first day of school, August 24th.

I drop B off at 8:25, and then Xavier and I head over to his school. We sing on the way. Can you tell he's singing here?

Showing off his 2 bottom teeth that are growing in. He lost all 4 front ones this summer. :-)

Now it's Xavier's makes sense that he goes second because he actually didn't start until August 24th, one day after Benny. (Even though you are reading this first, as blogger lists things in chronological order of postings, and I typed it second.)

I actually didn't know he started the day after B until the week before. All summer, I was under the assumption August 23rd was the day o' magic, but I was wrong. Ha! Anyway, X and I had great one-on-one time while B was in school that first day...I relish those days, when I have just one of my boys to focus on by themselves. I get to appreciate all the little things that make them who they are, that sometimes slip by unnoticed when I'm multitasking parenting.

This year, Hazel Harvey Elementary has created a Multi-Disabilities (MD) Unit for Xavier and some other children in our district that have developmental disabilities. Currently, there are only three kids in the class, with one teacher and 2 paraprofessionals. Xavier gets to go into typical first grade and Kindergarten classrooms for social and learning activities. He LOVES the Kindergarten curriculum and nurturing environment. The music, dancing, and continuous doting of 5 year old children makes him grin and giggle. Its so awesome to see. He goes back to the MD classroom for therapy (PT/OT/SLP) and for individual activities with his teacher and interventional specialists. He's working on lots of communication activities, doing simple turn-taking games, and thoroughly enjoying himself throughout the day.

Unfortunately, the last eight weeks have not been all sunshine and cotton candy. Prefacing this with the fact that the school and I are working to make things better, and without getting into specifics, there was a huge communication breakdown with regards to Xavier's general safety and addressing of IEP goals in the classroom. It dominated the last several weeks of my life. As outward evidence of the intense level of irritation I had brewing within me, I walked around with a twitchy left eye and developed a monster zit during the last week of this debacle. I had been patient, my polite voicings of concern were being placated with incomplete, PC answers, and I had had enough. Long story short - I started being blunt, and things got fixed. I think we're on the right path now...although from now on, I will no longer assume, my general alertness has been raised, and I am demanding more complete communication (which I had assumed was being done, but unfortunately was not.) I'm still pretty upset and raw over this...I lost trust, and hope the school will work to gain it back. Xavier deserves more...

On a happier note - X has had the introduction of even more awesome people into his life. His first MD teacher was great, but moved onto another position 2 weeks into the school year. (Because of "the problem", I think.) The new MD teacher is also wonderful, and the 2 paraprofessionals are super. He also got to hang out with a great substitute in between teacher #1 and teacher #2.

What a year so far...and we're only 8 weeks in? Lordy - what else is in store? I hope nothing that gives me a twitch. (That was annoying.)


Bennett's first day at Sts. Peter and Paul was August 23rd. He is so proud and excited to be a "Grader". That's what he and the other Kindergarteners last year called the kids in the grades above them - "Graders", as in "Oh, Mom. That kid is a Grader." "What's that mean, Ben?" "He's in second GRADE, Mom. DUH. That makes him a "Grader." You know, if you're in a "grade" and not in Kindergarten." Outstanding logic. Got it. So now B's a GRADER!!

Here is B, making a half-hearted effort at breakfast before school. Notice - he is painfully skinny. Notice - his choice of food. Notice - the Pediasure box woefully neglected and looking lonely over in the corner of the chair. This is why he barely tips the scales at a whopping 40#. For awhile there (it seemed like months, and I think it actually was...) every single time he'd get on the scale (which is very often, and this is by his choosing) he weighed in at 39.6#. When he broke the 40# mark, we all did a little happy dance. It was a big moment. How about a donut instead of that kiwi buddy? No such luck.
First year of uniforms! He must wear navy or black pants/shorts and white or hunter green shirts. He can wear navy sweaters, etc too. He actually really likes the uniform (as do I.)

Requisite "silly pictures" ---

(He is a mama's boy. :-)

Bennett with some of his ladies, Mia, B, Clara, and Monica.
Bennett and best buddy, Linus.

Bennett has really grown leaps and bounds in school activities. He's reading like a champ and getting better at it each day. All spelling tests (every Friday since the start of school) have come home with 100%'s. I say, "Write you name on the top of that math homework, and I'll be over to help you in just a minute"...literally one minute goes by, and I hear him shouting, "DONE!" And he is, and they're all correct. M-A-G-I-C. Watching learning and mastery happen is amazing me every single day.

He's growing socially too, and is making such good choices in friends, and with behavior. I'm so proud of him with his tremendous growth in this arena - B really has to reign in his impulses at times, and make a conscious effort to make the right choice --- he's doing this consistently now, and I'm getting great feedback from his teacher. The reward system she has in place for behavior at school is working like a charm for him.

Bennett continues to blow me away with his depth of curiosity and questions, his perceptiveness and cleverness, and his sensitivity. Here's a quote from his teacher on his progress note: "Ben is truly a remarkable person, and I feel it is a privilege to have him in my classroom."

Mrs. Gaudio is right - he is remarkable. I know I say this all the time, but I just am completely wow'ed by the fact that this child was born 4 months early, weighed 1#3oz at birth, and has had developmental challenges all along the way...yet he his success is HUGE in every way possible - he's smart, sweet, loving, and most importantly, has so much fun. How lucky we all are. :-)

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


I'm sure no one has really noticed, but its been over TWO MONTHS since I posted last. That's a record as far as lapse in posting goes for me, I'm sure.

So, you may be wondering - what has she been DOING?!

Well, lots. She's been doing lots. And nothing all at the same time. You see, my friends, it is summer. As with every family - the children are out of school, which gives life at home a different dynamic. Its slower...its faster. There's boredom one day...too much to do the next. We're out of our routine, sometimes that's alright, and sometimes it just plain sucks.

I guess what I'm trying to say is ----> Summer and I have a love-hate relationship. But I'm doing my darndest to make this summer a good one for us. The boys are involved in the community summer recreation program. We've gone on a couple mini-road trips (one to IKEA...for projects are in the works. Again. Always, really.)
Over the next few days I'll try hard to update the blog, as its still very important to me to keep these memories in written and photo form going. Its so fun to look back on, and I know I'll appreciate it when my boys are grown, and I can remember what daily life was like back when they were six and seven. When I look back at old pictures, I think, "Man, I'd like to go back to that for one day, just to live it again...I miss X and B being 1 and 3..." So I'm realizing that someday, I will look back on these days I'm living in right now, and want to experience them again. Its helping me appreciate the quiet beauty that monotonous, normal days can hold.

So, stay tuned for more, but be patient as well. Lots has happened, and you all know I take pictures almost daily. And I have lots to say. (I'm a bit of a talker...;-)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bennett is SIX!

My Bennett Paul turned six on June 15th. Benny looked forward to the day since June 16th, 2009. Every once in awhile throughout the year, he scrolls through the list of family birthdays to figure out how many he must make it through until it's finally his turn again. This year brought some confusion, because his birthday was on the 15th, but his party wasn't until the 26th. So, the date of his actual birthday came into question. (In his mind at at least. Ha!)

To celebrate, Bennett, Xavier, and I were had planned on taking a couple of friends to place with Mini-golf, Go-Karts, etc, etc. But the weather was HOT and had the potential for strong storms...therefore, we decided doing something in a nice air-conditioned space would be much better. So, Ben, Xavier, Gabe, Clara, and I loaded into the van and away we went. BOWLING!!! I suggested it (I stinking love bowling) and Ben jumped on it. I got a kick out of the fact that Gabe and Clara wanted to pretend I was their Mom for the afternoon, and went totally overboard with shouting "MOM! Look at me!" "MOM! Can I push my brother Xavier down the ramp?!" "MOM! These bowling shoes don't fit me!"

Very excited and happy -

For only his second time bowling, I was really impressed with how well he did with it. Not bad form!

The nice people at the alley set up a ramp for Xavier to get down to the lane, and then had another ramp for him to push the ball down. He LOVED it. We had to hold his hands back while we were setting the ramp/ball up for him. As soon as I pushed his chair up to the ramp, he brought his arms up and was looking for the ball to push. He had so much fun.
Looking and listening for the balls to come back from the lane.
He rolled a STRIKE on this one! (I think he knew it was a good one when he pushed it off - look at his face. ;-)
Gabe, getting ready to hold X's hands up so I could put the ball on the ramp.
Alternative method of rolling the ball...
He shouted "Wow! I threw the ball so high and far!" and then I heard him say under his breath, "I'm not sure if that's good or not." (HA!)

Four of my favorite people, EVER!!! :-)
Back home that night, Ben requested "breadsticks with dippy sauce" for dinner. Wish granted! (He thought it was so cool I stuck candles in the breadsticks. ;-)

And...the moment he 'd been waiting for. For MONTHS. The unveiling of the birthday present. A Nintendo DSi. I couldn't help but tease him a little though. I emptied the box and put in 2 pairs of socks (old ones - HA!) instead of the DSi. He was confused for a second, but then laughed sort of nervously and said, "Ummm, really. Is there a DSi in the house somewhere?"

And of course, there was. With a green cover. He LOVES green. His Kindergarten teacher said he's the only student in her history of teaching that needed multiple green crayons throughout the year. Not because he broke them or lost them, but because he used them all up. HA!

Happy Birthday, Bennett :-) Watching you grow up is probably the most magical thing I've ever witnessed. You make me laugh with your cleverness and funny, witty remarks. I admire your creativity and sensitivity. You ooze charm, silliness, and cuteness. Your strength and persistence to succeed in what you do continue to amaze me. I'm so proud of you and count myself super lucky to be your mom. I'm endlessly happy because you are in my life. XOXO with boundless love, Mom.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Xavier loves beans.

Whether they be green, baked, or in a bag - he's all about them.

Here he is in his new bean bag chair. Its super comfy, and he loves laying in it. Look, he's so relaxed, he's yawning. :-)

His favorite bit is rolling off on purpose. He curls up into a ball and rolls right off, lands with a giant thud, and laughs. He does the same thing off the couch these days...can't leave him alone on any piece of furniture, really. He works hard to get himself to the edge of whatever it is and rolls to the floor. THUD! "What's that?! ooooh, that's just Xavier, falling off of ________." He's quite the rascal about it. :-)
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Friday, April 2, 2010

SEVEN years of Xavier :-)

Today is/was Xavier's birthday (I say 'was' because he is in bed sleeping as I write this. ;-)

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Straight out the gate - it had the potential for being a great day for Xavier. The weather was PERFECT (i.e. 80 and sunny, his kind of weather!) and...I couldn't believe The Disney Channel actually participated in celebrating Xavier's birthday, too... Xavier woke up late today, because its the first day of Spring Break. This meant that he missed his obligatory morning dose of The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (by now everyone on Earth knows Xavier LOVES Mickey). Or I thought he missed it...Disney KNEW Xavier would sleep in, made the show come on 1/2 hour after it usually does, AND, made it an hour long special!! Score.

Nick was at work the first 3/4 of the day, so Xavier, Bennett and I just hung out here at home. Xavier listened to some music, played with some of his favorite toys, and was having a grand old time.

Right before lunch, a delivery man showed up with a bouquet of balloons that could nearly make our house float away like in the movie "UP". Our friends, (Aunt Court, Uncle Will, Gabe, Clara, and Mallory) had sent it for him. What a hit it was! He played with the balloons for hours (no joke) and had the best time. Mickey is bigger than him -heck, he's almost as big as me! LOL. Thanks a million times over, Dannemillers!

Look at X's arm - 'come here, Mickey. I want to whack on you.'

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After lunch was more 'hang out/relaxation time', which Xavier is fond of. Clara came over and played. We enjoyed the terrific sunshine and warm breezes. What an amazing thing to have it be 'summer in April' for Xavier. He loves warm weather, and more than once (okay, a ton) I've wished that we live in a more temperate climate. Ohio weather is the pits. The PITS!

We had dinner out at The Olive Garden with The Dannemillers. Xavier's hands down favorite food is Italian, so it worked out perfectly that we had to find someplace with many non-meat choices (today is also Good Friday). Xavier had cheese ravioli and scarfed every last morsel down. And a breadstick too. The best part of dinner was watching him hold Gabe's hand 1/2 the time we were there. Gabe was sitting to his left, and Xavier kept reaching for him, patting his arm, holding his was very touching. He routinely grabs the person to his right (me) but he didn't want me, he was obviously choosing his friend Gabe, and I thought that was pretty sweet and special. :-)

X 'happy screamed' and belly laughed the ENTIRE 20 minute ride home.

There will be more 'celebration of Xavier turning 7!!' on Easter Sunday, when our friends and family are here. Stay tuned for more pictures, there are sure to be many.

What a super day, for an child who really deserves it. I'm endlessly proud of his ability to make real differences in the way others see their own lives and the world around them. He's got an incredibly infectious spirit of love and happiness about him. I will never stop being in awe of him and who he becomes to every one he touches. I cherish you, Xavier, and feel unbelievably lucky to be your Mom. <3 xo <3

Saturday, March 13, 2010

X lost his first tooth!

Xavier's front right tooth came out (with a bit of help from Nick) on Tuesday, March 9th, right before bed. I was unfortunately at work and missed the big event. But reports from both Nick and Bennett were that Xavier was cranky before it came out. It had started bleeding a little because X was moving around so much with his finger out of annoyance of its hyper-loose state. But after Nick twisted it just a little, it came out, and Xavier was really happy.

I took these the next morning before school. I woke him up, and asked, "Xavier! Where's your tooth?!" He put his finger in his mouth right away, pushed his tongue against where the tooth should have been and got this huge grin on his face. It was re-played just like that at school when he was showing off his MIA tooth-status to his entourage.
Look how pleased he is! Also, take note of the cool shirt Xavier is wearing, made by him by our friend, Andy. ( Its very appropriate, as we call Xavier "Ralphie" occasionally. He shares, we think, a striking resemblance to Peter Billingsly's character on "A Christmas Story".
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We waited until Friday night, March 12th to put the tooth under his pillow. I wanted Nick and I both to be home to discover in the morning what the Tooth Fairy had brought Xavier. Here's the little case that Grandma P bought Xavier when he was born. After I put the tooth in there, I thought...this looks like a little tooth casket, with the blue velvet lining.

(My apologies to the sissies who are grossed out by the 'tooth funeral' picture below. )
Bennett's note to the Tooth Fairy (his idea and words):
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The prize this morning?! A MICKEY MOUSE CUP WITH A STRAW!!! The Tooth Fairy is a complete genius. This is a perfect present! Its a well known fact that Xavier LOVES Mickey Mouse, but a little known fact that he has recently learned how to drink from a straw (after 5+ years of trying).

He loves it!

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(The "Tooth Fairy" wants to say an extra special thank you to her assistant present-shopper Melisa M. You're such a caring, thoughtful friend! Xavier LOVES it!!)