Sunday, July 29, 2007

Body Movers

Cameron was a real handful at church this morning, requiring a long visit to the cry room. Afterwards he told us it wasn't HIM, it was his "body movers." He describes the body movers as "little guys" inside him that make him move. He explains that sometimes he is trying to behave and he tells the "body movers" to be good, but they don't listen and "then they go AAAGGGHHH!" Here Cameron wildly kicks and waves his arms. Well, this explains a lot. And it really makes me feel better about my parenting skills. Evidently, my child is an excellent listener -- it is just his "body movers" that are the problem!

This weekend, we drove up to Columbus for Hanni and Aaron's pre-wedding party. It was a lot of fun to see so many of the Wisconsin and Cleveland relatives again! On the way there, we made a stop at Deer Creek State Park and did a little geocaching. We found two, including a travel bug which was pretty exciting.

Cameron also claimed a pink, plastic snake that can be clipped to your clothing. It was good for a lot of laughs.

When we later logged our finds, though, we saw that many people had commented on the rampant poison ivy in the area . . . uh oh. So far, we are all rash-free and holding our breath that it stays that way!

Friday, July 27, 2007

A Great Week

I just picked Cameron up from his last day of cooking camp. Despite the tears on Tuesday morning, the rest of the week was terrific! He baked bread and cookies and made pizza and pudding pops. He loved his teachers, loved his new friends and loved the school. In fact, he is fairly insistent that there is no need for him to go back to daycare, he'll just stay at school, thank you very much! We were very impressed with the camp and can't wait for him to begin attending school there, but unfortunately that won't be until September. So, we'll have to get through one more month of daycare.

Cameron has recently begun paying attention to the radio in the car. I usually listen to NPR and he's started to make frequent comments on the weather. In fact, I just said to Cameron, "Wow, it's really cloudy. I think it is going to rain." He looked at me with pity and said, "Yeah, mommy. Didn't you hear that guy on the radio? He said there would be storms and showers in the afternoon." He'll also respond to the weather predicitions. This morning, the weatherman said, "Currently, it's 76 degrees out." Cameron replied, "Whoa, that's a little bit of hot!"

Cameron also has a budding interest in public health issues. When he first noticed someone smoking he asked me what they were doing. I told him that some people smoke, but it is not healthy. He will now loudly point out smokers and say, "Oh, NO, mommy! Do you see that? Susie's grandma is SMOKING! That's not healthy!" One day he told me, "Some grown-ups smoke. When I'm a grown-up someone might say, 'You can smoke!' but I will say, 'No, I can't. My MOMMY said so.'" As much as I'd like to believe that a teenage Cameron will still value my opinions, I kind of doubt he'll be telling people his mommy said so when he's that age!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Cooking Camp

This week, Cameron is going to Cooking Camp at the school he will be attending in the fall. Cameron has always been slow to warm up to new situations, so I was pretty nervous about his first day. David and I both took the day off and made a big production of what a "special day" it was. We went out for pancakes and Cameron was so excited that he ordered his pancakes and bacon and then told the waitress that he was going to cooking camp to learn to make pizza. (Cameron had also told me that I would no longer need to make dinner, as he would be taking care of it after attending camp!) When we got to the school, Cameron had a huge smile on his face. We introduced him to the teacher and with a smile and a wave he said, "Bye Mommy and Daddy!" We could hardly believe it! David and I spent the next few hours running errands and then returned to pick up Cameron. He proudly presented us with some bread he had baked and spent the rest of the day telling everyone he came across about cooking camp.

This morning, I confidently took Cameron to camp expecting another happy goodbye. After all, if the first drop-off went so well, why in the world wouldn't the second? Fool! When will I learn? I left Cameron sobbing and shouting, "NO, Mommy, don't leave!" It was HORRIBLE! I had a hair appointment for which I arrived ten minutes late with red, puffy eyes and a migraine. Now, of course, when I picked Cameron up he was grinning from ear to ear and couldn't wait to show me the cookie he had baked.

Here's hoping that tomorrow morning goes more smoothly.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Lights, Cameron, Action

Stacy has kindly provided me with the photos he took during the Chicago Independence Eve celebration. Cameron spent much of his time demostrating his spectacular dance skills, to both our amusement and that of many onlookers. Cameron was unphased by the attention, as he has quickly learned that his prowess is widely admired. Here, Cameron shows off the "I have a headache THIS big" move.And here, Cameron performs a freestyle solo that would most certainly wow the judges on "So You Think You Can Dance?"

And, finally, as mentioned in my vacation posts, many people mistook Stacy for a professional photographer and asked him to take their photo. They had high hopes of appearing in a magazine or newspaper. I figure the least I can do is put them on my blog, right?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Back when he couldn't talk . . .

As mentioned in my last post, Cameron is very expressive these days. He "uses his words" and this is sometimes a mixed blessing! But, we've been "talking" with Cameron since he was just a year old! Some of you have asked about the photos I posted of Cameron in Chicago signing "wet," both at 18 months and 3 1/2 years. We started using American Sign Language with Cameron from the time he was able to focus his eyes! By the time he was a year old, he was signing such classics as "milk" and "more." Around 15 months, he had what I refer to as a "signing explosion" where he was picking up new signs each day. This was in large part due to an amazing DVD series called Signing Time -- check it out at! By age 2 years, Cameron used about 300 signs. This allowed us not only to know his needs ("more," "all done," "hurt") but also to get to know our little guy really well at a really early age! Here are a few of my favorite signing memories:

- When Cameron was about 20 months old, we went to an outdoor concert. Sitting near us what a girl with lots of tatoos and piercings, including a lip and nose ring. Wide-eyed, Cameron turned to me and signed, "Scary! Hurt!"

- At 18 months, Cameron spotted a VERY large dog at the park. "Scary horse!" he signed! (Of note, Cameron went through a signing phase in which he got a LOT of use out of the sign "scared!")

- I had a chance to use "scared" myself when sitting on the floor playing with Cameron one day. He seemed very excited by something he saw near me. A toy or favorite blanket, perhaps? No. Cameron thought and thought, then signed, "Butterfly." Butterfly? I thought? Then, with a look of triumph, he corrected himself. "Spider!" he signed, and pointed next to my leg. And right he was!

And here are some signing photos. First, Cameron tells us he is all done.

In this photo, Cameron very helpfully points out that he is dirty.

Cameron asks for milk. Note that even at this early age, Cameron had a remarkable ability to pair a traditional piece such as a ringer-tee onesie with a suprising fashion choice like Mommy's shoes.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Weekend fun

Grandma Linda and Grandpa Frank came to visit us this weekend. We went to Touch-a-Truck at the zoo where Cameron was able to sit in a helicopter, a firetruck, a big rig and even peek his head out of a SWAT team vehicle.

In the evening, Grandma Linda and Grandpa Frank had offered to entertain Cameron while David and I went out. Although excited at the idea of a night out, I, as usual, dreaded the drama of leaving a clingy Cameron. I had underestimated the appeal of watching "Higgleytown Heroes" with Grandpa, though, as Cameron blithely waved goodbye. David and I enjoyed a delicious dinner complete with Kahlua cheesecake for dessert. But that wasn't the perfect ending to our night -- coming home to find Cameron already asleep was! Grandma Linda told us that Cameron had been a little angel, although he had attempted to convince her that Mommy always gives him a popsicle after dinner!

Today, after spending the morning with Grandma Linda and Grandpa Frank, we had Jess and Pat over for lunch. As usual, our time together was filled with witty banter and intellectual discourse, as evidenced below.Well, actually, the witty banter was a Superhero show starring Batman (Cameron) and Robin (Pat) with David as the "talker" and Jess and I as the audience. While Cameron was an impressive Batman, Pat stole the show, demonstrating a refreshing, youthful exuberance and an uncanny resemblance to the Boy Wonder.

Cameron, no doubt spoiled by the constant attention of his doting grandparents and indulgent friends, had quite a tantrum after Jess and Pat left. He has recently begun to "use his words" as I have encouraged. It's a bit disconcerting when you hear your three-year-old using YOUR words. Some of Cameron's recent expressions when unhappy have included:

"Well, I don't like YOUR behavior!"

"That's not acceptable."

"I'm dealing with a situation here."

"There's going to be a consequence for YOU!"

and one he most certainly did NOT get from me, "Well, then, you're not my favorite anymore."

So sweet.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Why I've been so groggy

So, since we got back from vacation, David and I have been feeling unusually tired and sluggish. "Takes a while to recover from all that fun!" I thought. Then, yesterday, I made a terrible discovery. I was making a grocery list and checked to see if I needed to buy more coffee. When I found our bag of Organic Peru Chamchamaya, it was completely full. "Huh," I thought. "THAT'S weird." Then, with a sinking feeling, I remembered that I had bought a bag of decaf to serve after dinner when we had a guest over a few weeks ago. Sure enough, when I pulled out the decaf it was nearly gone. For the past week, David and I have been starting our day with a nice strong cup of . . . decaffeinated coffee. (Yes, coffee lovers, gasp with me at the horror!) We both felt much better today!
Fully caffeinated, I took Cameron to the library to see a magician perform. Cameron actually screamed, "How'd he DO that?" after the first trick. If he thought the disappearing ball was something, just wait until he saw the bird changed into a rabbit! It was really a phenomenal show and all for free, thanks to our public library. I LOVE that place! Afterwards, we met up with Lindsey and Alyssa for hours of fun at the park.

And here is a photo my grandma just sent me. I'm 3 1/2 years old - the same age as Cameron - in this photo. Once again, I am reminded that Cameron's superhero obsession is apparently a family trait! Cameron loved this photo.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Our last day of vacation

Day 8 : Chicago
Our plan was to spend the morning in Chicago and then drive back home. As we sat in Fox and Obel, enjoying a sumptuous breakfast, David said, "You know, it seems kind of crazy to drive back today when we could stay another day in Chicago, see the Independence Eve fireworks, and drive home tomorrow." Hmmmm. It didn't take us too long to decide to extend our vacation another day!

We walked over to Navy Pier where we hoped to recreate some photos of Cameron playing in the fountain. First, here are a few photos of Cameron at the fountain at age 18 months.
In the first, he is signing "wet."
And here is Cameron at 3 1/2 years - again signing "wet"!

We walked down Navy Pier and Cameron was absolutely astounded by the funny mirrors. He spent about 20 minutes jumping up in down in front of them and laughing hysterically.

Cameron was actually the one to suggest that we visit the Children's Museum and kudos to him for a great idea! We spent the whole afternoon there. Cameron's favorite activity by far was the water area, where he managed to get completely drenched despite his raincoat.

In the evening, we walked around Chicago with our fantastic tour guide, Stacy, and watched the throngs of Indepedence Eve revelers. Stacy took some incredible photos of Cameron (which I will post when I get them from him!) and was also approached by tons of people who asked him to take their photo. Sounds weird, right? I mean, no one has ever asked me to take a photo of them with MY camera! I think the large camera bag, the impressive camera and the ID badge Stacy was wearing had more than one person thinking he was part of the press! I even heard one of his subjects say to a friend, "We're probably going to be in a magazine!" No, but maybe on my blog . . .

Before the fireworks started, we walked back to Stacy's where we could actually see the display from his 51st floor window. Now THAT, my friends, is the way to celebrate 4th of July. It was an awesome way to end our vacation!

Day 9: Chicago to Cinci

We woke up super early, but our plans to get on the road were foiled by technology. At 5:45am, David went down to get the car from the garage. When he hadn't returned by 6:15am, I was fairly certain that he had been accosted by parking lot bandits. A few minutes later, to my immense relief, he appeared in the doorway unharmed. Turns out the automated machine that you pay had eaten his credit card! After much effort, he had retrieved it. I won't bore you with the details of our long car ride. Suffice it to say that there was plenty of coffee and an ever-exciting viewing of "Rescue Heroes -- The Movie" as well as other assorted DVDs. Can't complain about technology too much, I guess, even if it does occasionally try to take your MasterCard . . .

Saturday, July 7, 2007

More of Vacation 2007

Day 7: New Glarus to Chicago

Our first stop of the morning was the New Glarus bakery, where we each selected a decadent and decidely unhealthy pastry for breakfast!
Next, another visit to the playground and the statue. Here, Cameron demonstrates one of his always impressive Superhero moves.

Cameron was having fun putting on more Superhero shows and didn't really want to consider any other activities. Here, he protests leaving.

After enjoying the Belgian Red so much the previous evening, we were excited to read that the New Glarus Brewing Co. offered tours. We thought that Cameron wouldn't have the patience for the audio tour and tasting option, so we decided to opt for the free walk-through. As it turned out, Cameron was FASCINATED. This may well have been his favorite part of our whole vacation . . . well, maybe second to the Tommy Bartlett show. He was glued to the windows watching the kegs move down a conveyer belt and the bottles being filled. It was very reminiscent of Laverne and Shirley. After about 45 minutes of marvelling at the inner workings of the brewery, Cameron still wasn't ready to go. David headed to the gift shop while Cameron and I stayed in the observation area. We bought more Belgian Red (it's THAT good, and I'm not a beer drinker!), a limited edition Bourbon Barrel Bock and a baseball cap for me. We reluctantly bid farewell to the brewery to hit the road to Chicago.

I can't imagine more disparate locales than New Glarus and Chicago. It was a bit of a culture shock! We decided to frequent the most kid-friendly restaurant we could find and ended up at Rainforest Cafe. It was a superb choice -- Cameron's mouth actually dropped open in astonishment when he saw the waterfall and aquarium. We were seated by the elephants and enjoyed a thunderstorm. The food was also pretty good!

Shortly after we got back to Ellen and Stacy's condo, where they kindly allowed us to stay, they arrived with Chase, Alex and Kevin. We all were amused watching Cameron and the boys. Cameron held an X-box controller and apparently believed that just by holding it he controlled the game. Chase was actually playing, but everyone would cheer for Cameron when "he" made a good move. He was very excited to find that he was such a naturally talented player despite his lack of experience!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Vacation 2007 -- Moving on to Madison

Day 5: Baraboo to Madison

Before Cameron woke up, we had the cabin cleaned and the minivan packed. We ate oatmeal with fresh berries, then started on the road to Madison, WI. What ensued was a back roads adventure involving a lot of corn, a few wrong turns and, eventually, arrival at the hotel. Cameron was excited to see his Grandma and Grandpa T, as well as his cousins and Aunt Sarah. But once he saw the hotel arcade, he had only one thing on his mind -- games. Fortunately, he is pretty much just as happy "playing" the demo as paying for a real game.

At noon, we went to Great Grandma and Grandpa T's apartment building for the surprise party. Great Grandpa T was genuinely surprised to see so many friends and family gathered for his 90th birthday, and said it explained why Great Grandma T had been driving him crazy! The tables were decorated with toy John Deere tractors, which kept Cameron occupied, as did the fish tank. He ate a huge lunch, finished off with the frosting from a large piece of cake. We visited with family, took many photos (which I will post when I get them from Stacy!) and watched a funny performance called "Alfred, the Opera-Loving Farmer" by Karen, Cheryl and Jan.

In the evening, Cheryl and Pete hosted an amazing dinner and bonfire at their hom -- a gorgeous log cabin with a huge garden, a pond, a deck, a sunroom and a backyard with a playset. Cameron became fast friends with his second cousins, Jakob and Ben. They played in the sandbox, played with a ball, rode on the glider, rolled down the hill, fought over a toy mower and ate popsicles. When it got dark, Jakob and him mom showed Cameron how to catch fireflies, which actually caused him to shriek with excitement. We sat around a bonfire roasting marshmallows and listening to Tim recite Robert Service. It was a wonderful night with family!

Day 6: Madison to New Glarus

Karen and Tim had a brunch at their home in the morning. (Cheryl lives in a log cabin at the edge of a state park while Karen lives in an old schoolhouse -- this family knows a house with character!) We ate delicious scrambled eggs with fresh herbs, coffee cake and amazing cheese -- maple cheddar and fenugreek gouda. (We were in Wisconsin, after all!) To Cameron's delight, Tim and Karen have plenty of toys.

Later, Tim and Karen led us on a great hike through forest and meadow. Cameron devoured wild raspberries (shown below with Cheryl and Alleah) and posed with me in front of a hay "snail." Once again, he was a trooper, only requiring a few piggy back rides towards the end.

After the hike, we moved on to our next destination -- New Glarus, WI. It is known as "America's Little Switzerland" and one of David's ancestors was an original settler. Karen had made reservations for us at the Glarner Stube where Cameron cried, kicked, laid on the booth, spilled his apple juice and loudly proclaimed his hot dog dinner smelled "stinky." Finally, some bread with lots of butter and the distraction of waiter breaking a glass improved his mood. The food was incredible, especially the roesti (kind of like hashbrowns with Swiss cheese) and the Belgian Red -- a cherry beer brewed at the local New Glarus Brewing Co. Thanks so much, Karen and Tim, for a fantastic dinner and for putting up with a cranky preschooler!!! We couldn't have asked for better tour guides!

After dinner, we went to see the statue that lists one of David's ancestors as one of the original settlers. Also on the list -- Hilarius Wild. Now THERE is a baby name I had not yet considered!!! We also found a playground where we ALL had a great time. Karen loved the roller slide!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Vacation 2007 continued

Day 3: Baraboo

We woke well-rested and before Cameron! We lingered over a breakfast of oatmeal while Cameron played with his new friends, then drove to the Country Bumpkin U-Pick Farm. We picked strawberries and raspberries, which we enjoyed for lunch that day.

After berry picking, we decided to go on a train ride. There were two options but I was sure the Riverside and Great Northern Railway was the way to go. When we arrived, Cameron gasped appreciatively at the miniature train. "Mommy, are we going to ride THAT?" "No," I chuckled. "That's just a model. We're riding on a real train." But as we looked around the station, it slowly dawned on me that there WAS no "real" train. We rode the mini-train, which actually turned out to be kind of neat. After the Moosejaw Pizza disaster of Day 2, we wisely decided to allow Cameron a nap on this day. We went back to the cabin, grilled a delicious dinner of salmon and made a peach and raspberry cobbler with our fresh berries.
After dinner, we bribed Cameron into going fishing on Devil's Lake by offering the best fisherman a prize -- a cookie. At the lake, David fished, Cameron threw rocks in the lake and I held his pole. Cameron did occasionally take over his pole when my arms got "too tired" and I needed his "big muscles." The prize was eventually changed to a "best listener prize" which was awarded to Cameron.

Back at camp, we made a fire. Our neighbors had left but Cameron quickly made friends with a little Polish girl who spoke no English. She was fascinated by Cameron's light-up tennis shoes and Cameron loved that she allowed him to talk non-stop. When we explained to Cameron that she spoke another language, he quickly developed three signals to communicate with her -- a wave for "Hi" or "Bye," a shrug for "What? Where? When? Why?" and taking her hand gently for "Please, join me at our campfire."

Day 4: Baraboo

Another day of sleeping in! We enjoyed yogurt with fresh berries for breakfast, then headed to Devil's Lake State Park to geocache. The first cache, Devil's Curse, was a short hike followed by an exciting climb up quartzite boulders. The cache was well-hidden among the rocks and Cameron was thrilled when he, through some parental staging, found it. He mulled over his choice for ages before decided on the plastic pirate coins.

The next cache was on the West Bluff Trail, on the opposite side of the lake. We trotted optimistically across the parking lot to the trailhead. Cameron spotted the aptly named "Tumbled Rocks" trail shown in the photo below and instead wanted to check it out. We walked down Tumbled Rocks away and then David said, "Maybe Tumbled Rocks meets up with the West Bluff and we could just do a loop." I consulted the map and said, "Yeah! This trail is 1 mile and then it meets up with West Bluff, which is 1.5 miles." No problem! Cameron walks that far at home all the time, we thought. We neglected, however, to note the descriptions of trail difficulty at the bottom of the map . . . (Note ominous foreshadowing.)
I was already tired when we reached the end of the "easy" Tumbled Rocks trail. There, we found that West Bluff Trail headed up, up, up. Stairs, steep trail, stairs, steep trail . . . it seemed to go on for forever! Cameron was amazingly, impressively resilient, even running parts of the incline. Everyone we passed looked simultaneously impressed to see a 3-year-old on a tough trail and amazed that any parents would be stupid enough to try the trail with a 3-year-old. The view at the top of the trail (seen in below photo) was fabulous, but depressing as we now had to go down, down, down a very steep path. David retrieved the cache and brought back a magnifying glass for Cameron. Finally, we made it back to the parking lot. I was so exhausted, I could barely talk as we at our picnic lunch. David and Cameron built sandcastles on the beach while I sat on a towel in stupor.

In the evening, we went to the free and very small Oschner Zoo where we saw goats, a bear, prairie dogs, and monkeys. As we left, we saw a buck and doe that had four fawns. In this photo, Cameron and a fawn check each other out!

We ended the evening with a well-deserved ice cream.

Tune in later to hear about Days 5 and beyond!