Friday, July 30, 2010

Happy birthday, Andi!

Today is my cousin Andi's birthday. Ben happened to pick her family picture as his fridge photo obsession of the day and we started working on the names of the people in the picture. "Phoebe" came out as something vaguely ending in "bee" and "Chris" is still a little too tough. But he got Andi's name pretty well (and kept repeating it over and over!), so I grabbed the video camera. Happy birthday, Andi! We hope you have a great day!

Here is a photo from our trip to visit Andi, Chris & Phoebe last fall.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Family photos

To finish off our photos from our trip, here are a few family photos. As expected, it was difficult to get a "perfect" picture with everyone looking at the camera (I screwed up a great one by blinking!) and with a squirmy 18-month-old, but we'll share them and enjoy them anyway.

Ben was more interested in looking at Uncle Tony than the camera.

Ben had just about had it with sitting still at this point.

Dave got Ben to smile for this one by tickling his feet!

 Jen and Tony - they're getting married in less than 3 months and we are so excited for them! 

Ben is wearing his "Team Grandpa" shirt.

Ben decided we didn't really mean it when we said, "Don't touch Grandpa's glasses." Dad dodged the glasses grab, but got fish-hooked instead!

Today is also my parents' anniversary. They are spending a few days in Chicago to celebrate. Dad said they didn't make it as extras into "Transformers 3" which is shooting a few blocks from their hotel, but they did see some of the vehicles and hear some explosions.

Happy anniversary, Mom & Dad!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Fun Saturday

Although Ben declined to sleep in, or subsequently let us sleep in, we ended up having a fun Saturday. Dave and I have been craving barbecue for a while, so we drove down to Arthur Bryant's for lunch. Ben has been to Jack Stack a few times, but this was his first time at Bryant's. We arrived about 1:45 and there was still a line out the door! It seemed like there were quite a few out-of-towners (good for business, bad for speed!) so the line moved a little more slowly than usual as a couple of big groups ahead of us were confused about the way to order and move through the line.  Ben was amazingly patient and bided his time looking at all the photos on the wall and flirting with the lady in line behind us. But we were all glad when we had our food and were sitting down - he is getting so heavy to hold and it gets a little toasty holding him for so long inside a packed building!

He enjoyed trying my ham sandwich and Dave's burnt ends. One of the employees was busing a nearby table while we were finishing our meal and commented that Ben must've enjoyed it since he had a ring of sauce around his mouth! Ben just smiled a big barbecue saucy smile at him.

Ben also stole one of my fries while I was taking pictures. Later, he still reached over to my plate several times to steal more ham if he didn't think I was giving him enough!

I have been wanting to make some homemade play dough for Ben but hadn't gotten around to it yet. I made some tonight while he ate dinner (Dave and I are still stuffed from Bryant's. I don't know how Ben was hungry.) and he played with it for nearly an hour! I gave him a choice of colors and he picked blue. I used this recipe but added just a little more oil and some vanilla extract since it smells kind of funky on its own. I was a little worried because it was still sticky after several minutes of stirring, but I kept cooking it on low and it came together nicely. Kneading it after it's off the heat also gets out the lumps. It was too hot for a kid to knead it for several minutes, though.

I got out several cookie cutters and my Pampered Chef rolling pin. The play dough instructions from a toddler art project book we read recommended cookie cutters with handles. I only have one with a handle, but Ben actually did fine with regular cutters.


Ben liked rolling out the dough with the rolling pin. He needed some help to get enough pressure, but it worked better than I anticipated.

Gradually, he got more used to actually manipulating the play dough with his hands and was having a blast squishing the dough balls I made. He also tried to see if they would bounce and felt the need to say hello to them. (Earlier in the day, he said hi to the rain, thunder, Arthur Bryant's portrait, the composer's photo on one of my piano books, and photos of our friends' dogs.)

Here's a video of Ben chattering and enjoying the play dough.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sleeping through the storm

We are lucky in that Ben doesn't seem to be bothered by storms. The sky started getting very dark around the time I pick Ben up from daycare, so I hustled there and got him in the car before the rain started. His teacher said he'd been hearing the thunder and saying, "raining, raining." It's one of his favorite words and he was excited to watch the rain through the windows. The wind was really strong too.

The rain tapered off around dinner time and we put Ben to bed, and maybe around 8:30 the thunder & lightning started again. Somehow the glass table top of our patio set shattered; we're not quite sure what happened, if lightning struck or what. We were sitting downstairs watching TV and just heard a funny thump. It wasn't raining yet and it didn't look like anything else was on the deck that could've hit it. We'll take a better look tomorrow.

When I came upstairs, I checked on Ben, who was sleeping through the loud thunder. He looked so cute, all snuggled up with his stuffed animals, that Dave grabbed the camera. He's got Teddy, Duck and Peter Rabbit up by his head, and the light blue bump under his bottom in the second picture is Puppy which was probably underneath him in the first picture. Half the time we find him sleeping on top of his animals or in strange bunched-up positions; we're not sure how he doesn't wake up aching every morning!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Pictures from the weekend

Our goofy little guy has had a pretty happy and chatty weekend. Here he is modeling his Tony Packo's gear from Uncle Tony. I can't imagine how excited Ben will be when he actually gets to go to Packo's, considering how much he loves hot dogs! He got a much needed haircut on Friday afternoon; these pictures are pre-haircut.

I made hummus Thursday night; Ben has had it before and loves it. I gave him a few samples as I was perfecting the flavors, and when I walked into the other room for something, the little sneak grabbed the spatula off of the counter and started licking the hummus off!

Here are his post-haircut pictures:

We all had a lot of reading time this weekend, including a trip to the library where Ben enjoyed running up and down the rows of shelves and giggling. At home, I read one of my new detective books while Ben found the University of Dayton alumni magazine.

"Daddy, I'm trying to read! Stop bothering me with that camera!"

It has been miserably hot and humid the last few weeks, but this morning we snuck outside while it was still relatively comfortable for about 15 minutes of playtime. Ben tromped around and repeatedly asked for "more bubbles." We also played with one of his bouncy balls.

Ben also liked walking under the steps and peeking through.

He thought he should get a turn blowing the bubbles and reached for them. This attempt was followed shortly with a bubble spill of 1/4 of the bottle. This is why his job is to chase and pop the bubbles, not blow them!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Great Lakes Trip 2010 - Part 3

On our first night in Detroit, we had to go to Buddy's Pizza. Ben came along last year, but wasn't eating solid foods other than rice cereal (yum!). So this was his first time eating their pizza, and he thought it was delicious, as he should!

After Buddy's, we headed back to visit Tony's dogs. Ben had a great time with them. He also had fun running around the living room, bouncing from Jen to Tony to Mom and giving lots of hugs.


The next day, Jen & Tony came over and spent the day with us. Mom & Dad had gotten Ben an inflatable pool and we thought he might like to splash in it since it was a warm day. I need to mention that they have "Splash Days" every week during the summer at Ben's daycare, and he has to wear his bathing suit, swim diaper, and swim shoes. The teachers always report that he loves it, and gets soaked. Dave and I always assumed that "Splash Day" meant they got to splash in a little kiddy pool along with the other kids in his class. 

We were wrong.

Ben got into his bathing suit and let me put on his sunscreen with a minimum of fuss. He walked over to the pool, leaned over, and started splashing his hands in the water. He was having such a fun time that I figured I'd help him into the water. That was when the screaming started.

Now this is a child who LOVES bathtime and hates to stop splashing and actually get bathed. Dad and Dave had filled up the pool a few hours before, so it had plenty of time to get warm in the sun. But somehow this was different from the bathtub for Ben and caused weeping & gnashing of teeth. He eventually calmed down a little when Grammie got into the pool with him and Uncle Tony got him playing with his buckets & squirt toys. But he still wasn't entirely happy, and seemed glad to sign "all done" about 10 minutes later and get out of the pool.

When we got back to KC, I asked his teachers exactly what "Splash Days" entailed. Apparently regulations don't allow the kids to actually go in pools, so they have splash tables that they play with.

On Friday, Dave, Tony, Jen and I drove up to Frankenmuth for my free birthday chicken dinner at Zehnder's. We didn't think Ben would have the attention span to sit for a 2-hour all-you-can-eat meal plus the drive, so he stayed home with Grammie & Grandpa. We did bring him back some of their wonderful fried chicken and he approved.

We also got the chance to spend a few hours with Niru ("Mom #2" since high school) and sample some delicious Indian snacks! Ben loved that her windows were low enough so he could look out.

Ben getting his hands washed by "The Moms" after snacks, which he devoured!

Great Lakes Trip 2010 - Part 2

After a few days with the girls, we headed up to Toledo to visit my grandma. She found a bear for Ben that sings "I've Been Working on the Railroad" and he loved it! In his explorations of the house, he also found a wind-up flashlight, which kept him asking, "more peesh" when the light ran out, and one of the rosaries Grandma had made. He spent several happy minutes putting those things and his books in the box that the bear came in, then taking them out & repeating the process. Packing & unpacking is definitely one of his favorite games right now.


Great Lakes Trip 2010 - Part 1

We headed out on our trip to Michigan & Ohio right after I got done with bereavement camp at the end of June. We drove to Effingham, IL, which is about the halfway mark, and stayed there overnight. Our room was on the 4th floor and looked out onto the parking lots for the hotel and the Wal-Mart right across the road. Little did we know how fascinating this would be for Ben! He stayed at the window pointing and saying, "car!" over and over again.

The next day we got back on the road to spend a few days with my college roommates and their families. Ben had a blast seeing the other kids and playing with the cool trucks that Gideon & Evelyn had gotten out for him. The weather was pretty toasty so Monday night they got out the Slip & Slide and the older kids played with squirt guns and sprinklers. Ben wasn't quite sure about the whole thing...

but loved going down the slide and tromping around in the grass.

We also finally got to meet beautiful baby Petra! She is such a cheerful and content little girl.

 Special kudos go to Sarah's dog Soren, who is so sweet and tolerant with the kiddos. He patiently sat as Ben enthusiastically petted him and tried to point to Soren's teeth and point at (aka poke) his nose. We quickly redirected him to petting Soren's ears and back instead and tried to work on what it meant to be gentle.

 The next day the other Sarah & I took the kids to walk around Dayton's campus for a little while. We stopped at the beautiful new bookstore and got new t-shirts for Ben & me and a new window sticker for Henry the Honda. Ben enjoyed watching the waterfall in the prayer garden while the bigger kids walked back and forth across the rocks.

And despite all the renovations and new building that's going on on campus, some things never change:

M&T - still just an ugly square brick building!  It also looked like the band building, Reichard, had not changed either. We took a snack break in the echo point in front of the chapel before heading back to Sarah's. Ben didn't really seem to notice the cool echo when you yell at that specific point, but Dave and I think it's pretty neat.

Of course, while we were in the area, we also had to stop at Dorothy Lane Market. Not only do they have their Killer Brownies, they now also carry select varieties of Jeni's Ice Creams from Columbus. Expensive, but worth it! We chose one old favorite, the dark chocolate (my favorite ice cream!), and tried the Buttermint, which was also delicious.

On our last morning, we had breakfast with Heather, Jeremy & my goddaughter Elli, who had just returned from their vacation the night before. We were glad that we were able to squeeze in a visit with them before we left.