Thursday, January 31, 2008

Harriet the Spy, Ramona the Pest, Eleanor the Obedient

I'm currently on a quest to introduce Cameron to some of my childhood heroines -- we've finished "Harriet the Spy" and have moved on to Beverly Cleary's Ramona series. As we listen to the stories on CD, I feel transported back to my childhood. I think the reason I loved these little girls so much was because they are everything I was not. Unlike Harriet and Ramona, I was a shy, quiet rule-follower. I never got in trouble . . . well, there was that one time in second grade when Mrs. Seivert gave the WHOLE class a red dot for talking in line. That was SO unfair. . . but I digress. Harriet and Ramona are clever and adventurous and daring. I think Harriet and Ramona may have been the subconscious inspiration for a heroine of my own creation, Eleanor, but I've been unable to keep Eleanor away from the straight and narrow.

Eleanor arrived on the scene while we were a "waiting family" hoping to adopt. We spent countless hour talking to Cameron about adoption, reading children's books about adoption, imagining with him what it would be like to be a big brother. As Cameron is our biological child, we wanted to make sure he understood adoption and that he viewed it as a wonderful way to become a family. I realized we had been too successful, however, when at age 3 he crawled up into my lap and said, "Tell me about when I was adopted." When I reminded him that he had grown in my belly, he burst into tears and sobbed, "But I wanted to be adopted!" Without much planning, I created the character of Eleanor, who happened to be a little girl the same age as Cameron. As luck would have it, Eleanor was ALSO a biological child whose parents were trying to adopt. Cameron LOVED Eleanor and it became a nightly routine for me to tell an Eleanor story. Even after Matthew's arrival, Eleanor came in handy as she adjusted to having a crying, pooping, parent-hogging little sister.

Listening to "Ramona the Pest" today, though, I realized that times have changed since Cleary was writing. Ramona arrives late for kindergarten. Why? Because her mother had left her home alone with instructions to walk to school (ALONE!) at a quarter past eight. Unable to tell time, Ramona did not leave the house until 8:25 am. There is NO chance I'm leaving Eleanor home alone in kindergarten! Not to mention that the adoptive sibling of course means that Eleanor's family is visited by a social worker, who would probably be less than impressed by Eleanor's parents if they were to leave her unattended. It looks like Cameron will have to get his fill of adventure from Ramona and Harriet. Eleanor will never be given the opportunity to be anything but a goody two-shoes like her creator!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Spelling test

Cameron and I enjoy playing a game in which I write a word on his Magnadoodle and he tries to read it. Examples might be ZOO, BOOK, or CAR. Today, Cameron decided to turn things around. "I'LL write the word, Mommy, and you read it!" he said. He concentrated carefully then turned the board to face me where I saw "GT.A" written clear as day. Hmmm. I considered the possibilities and then hazarded a guess. "Goat?" I said. Cameron looked heartily amused by my ineptitude and replied merrily, "No, Mommy! G-T-point-A. See? It says 'tortellini'!"

Monday, January 28, 2008

My sweet little mischief maker

From the time I woke up, I knew that David was going to be working late and I needed a game plan. If you are going to be on your own with two small boys from dawn until dark, you've got to find a way to make the hours pass with as little drama as possible! Cameron practiced writing him name, signed a few Valentine cards, built with blocks and of course went to school.

After school, I felt like a model parent as we worked on a project. You see, I recently decided that I needed to teach Cameron more about caring for others and I came across the Make a Child Smile website. Together, we chose to make Aidan smile by making him a card. Cameron was so sweet as he colored a picture of a Power Ranger, glued it on construction paper and painstakingly wrote his name and Aidan's. Then, he dictated a note to Aidan, insisting that it was only right that we invite Aidan to our house! Yep, I thought, patting myself on the back. I've got this mama thing TOTALLY under control. I am successfully teaching my child to be a kind, caring individual. Go me!

With Aidan's card addressed and stamped, I made some dinner and then Cameron and I whipped up a batch of pudding. I snapped some photos of my boys together, then sat Cameron at the table with his pudding. I explained that I would be putting Matthew to bed and needed him to be a big boy. He was to eat his snack and play quietly until I was done with Matthew. Giving my ego yet another boost, Cameron behaved liked an angel until I was finished with Matthew's bed time routine. Wow, I congratulated myself. Look at that. I can handle two kids at bedtime like a regular pro now! Super Nanny, watch out! Then, I saw this.
How many little boys were eating a bed time snack? One. How many empty bowls of pudding on the table? Two. Hmmm. When confronted with the evidence, Cameron looked sheepish and said, "Wellllll, I really wanted it. AND, I didn't think you'd KNOW!" *sigh* I guess I have to face the awful truth. I'm not a perfect parent . . . but how boring would the blog be if I was?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

You think THAT'S impressive? Watch THIS!

So, your parents are inexplicably thrilled by your baby brother's newfound ability to roll, eat food, sit up and sleep. What gives? You can do ALL of those things, and no one is cooing over you! Think, Cameron, think. What can you do to get some attention? Ah-HA! Scare the pants off your parents by taking flying leaps from chair to couch!

Look Ma! No hands!

With breathtaking speed, Matthew is knocking out milestones left and right! A few days ago I thought to myself, "I wonder when Matthew will be able to sit unassisted?" Just for fun, I sat him up with the Boppy pillow behind him. "Wow," my internal dialogue continued. "He's really sitting nicely!" I gently edged the Boppy away and, to my utter astonishment, Matthew sat there by himself. He had a casual look of confidence, as if he'd been sitting for months and I just hadn't noticed. For those of you who have been sitting upright for a while, you may have forgotten how this skill revolutionized your world. Suddenly, Matthew can play with toys that are too heavy for him to lift and play with laying down. He can watch Cameron put on a Superhero show. He can glance around to identify the source of the sound. He can reach for objects. It's awesome. Here is the newly upright doing his thing.

In other big, BIG news, Matthew is sleeping for several hours at a stretch! In desperation, I found a used Amby Sleep Hammock on Ebay, bid like my life depended on it and then stalked the UPS guy for a week. Gosh, would I feel like a fool if after all that the sleep hammock didn't make a difference! Thankfully, Matthew loves the hammock and has slept longer and longer each night he's been in it! So sleep-deprived have I been that when I got TWO four hour shifts of sleep in a row, I awoke feeling as refreshed and relaxed as if I had just had a day at the spa. I have avoided taking photos of Matthew in the hammock, as I live in constant fear of returning to his tortuous hourly awakenings, but I did snap this one.

We were treated to a visit from Grandpa Frank and Grandma Linda this weekend, so they were able to actually witness all these monumentous accomplishments!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Mmm, mmm mush

While I am generally a proponent of delaying solids until 6 months, Matthew had been making it increasingly clear that he was ready for more than a liquid diet. Grabbing anything headed for my mouth, staring longingly at my morning oatmeal, drooling through our meals . . . finally we got the hint. So, last night, Matthew sampled some mmm mmm good rice cereal. He was enthusiastic, impatiently grasping at the spoon and glaring at me when he gagged himself in his zeal. He gobbled down a tablespoon and then gave an appreciative pfft, spewing mush all over me and his face. It does make for a cute photo, though, so I can't complain! Cameron, who was vehemently anti-cereal as an infant, was no less disgusted by the stuff today. I tormented him by repeatedly suggesting that he might want me to whip up a bowl for him which was met with anxious cries of "Noooo, Mommy! I don't want to eat that!" He was greatly amused though by Matthew's excitement over the soupy stuff. Afterwards, Cameron requested that I take a photo of him with his little brother to commemorate this grand event. Reflecting the solemnity of the occasion, Cameron kept a straight face while giving Matthew rabbit ears.
Tune in next time for more of Matthew's awe-inspiring feats!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

More time flies

In a previous post, I compared this photo of Matthew, taken in November 2007, with a photo of him in the same swing as a newborn. Now here's the latest of Matthew in the same swing! So, I realize he isn't the first baby to do so but, WOW, he's growing!
I think that at every phase of your child's life it seems unimaginable that they will continue to grow and change and yet . . . they do! I remember looking at newborn Cameron, thinking that it just didn't seem possible that that floppy little head and skinny little body would ever be a boy instead of a baby. But he did! And despite the evidence before me, it is so hard to imagine Matthew, my BABY, growing to be as big as Cameron is. Although from this photo, it appears that Matthew is thinking that while Cameron is bigger, Matthew is far more mature!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Science and religion

It's an age old debate: Science vs. religion. Can you believe in both? Is science inherently anti-religion, or can the two be complementary? Well, Cameron weighs in.

Cameron: Mommy, do you know what's in my heart?
Me: What?
Cameron: Jesus is in my heart. Do you know what's in your heart?
Me: Jesus?
Cameron (looking at me as if I am quite slow): Noooooo. Blood and blue veins and red veins.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Matthew, the early riser

When I was little, I loved a book that was at my grandparents' house called "Milton the Early Riser." It was about a little panda cub who wakes up before everyone else and is searching for something to do. Matthew is my early riser, bright eyed and ready to go at 6am. The advantage is that I have a little time to play with Matthew, get him dressed and get myself a cup of coffee before Cameron is up and also demanding my attention! Here is Matthew this morning showing off his ability to push up onto his chest.
And here he is, feigning shyness, as he peeks out from behind his baby doll.

Power yoga

This morning, I found Cameron's Power Ranger attempting a bridge pose. Unbeknownst to me, Power Ranger and Black Spiderman have apparently been indulging in some early morning yoga. Spiderman appears to be the more flexible of the two, but as my yogi always told me, yoga isn't just about flexibility. Sadly, the pair do not seem to have found a suitable instructor and their poses have clearly suffered for it. I mean, Spiderman's hands are all wrong in downward dog.

His half lotus isn't half bad, though!

They ended their practice with a relaxation pose, but like many beginners had some difficulty really letting go. I mean, check out Spiderman -- he is trying to take a peek at Power Ranger! I think any beginner can relate to the desire to check out your neighbor and make sure you aren't the only one looking silly laying on the floor! So, namaste, Power Ranger and Spiderman.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Calling for backup

Cameron: What language does Matthew's other family speak?
Me: You mean his birth family? They speak English, just like us! They live in the same city as us.
Cameron: Oh good. Because maybe they can get Matthew to sleep.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

No empty nest for us!

This morning I had the following conversation with Cameron:

Cameron: Mommy, you know what? Kennedy said she wants to MARRY me!
Me: Wow! What did you say?
Cameron: I told her I'm not going to marry her. I'm going to stay home with you when I'm growed up!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

In our world

For the past few months, I've noticed Cameron using the phrase "in our world." It is usually used to distinguish between reality and fantasy. "There aren't really vampires in our world!" or "Spiderman isn't in our world." I thought it was just an amusing Cameronism. Then, today, I visited Cameron's Montessori class and heard a little girl say, "There aren't really monkeys in our world." Cameron looked at me with a mixture of disbelief and amusement and giggled, "Did you hear that? Of course there are monkeys in our world! Wait. There ARE monkeys in our world, right Mommy?"

So, here's a peek at Cameron's world. Big news in the classroom: ALL of the colors are now available for easel work! In the early days of the school year, I wondered if Cameron was going through a Picasso-esque Blue Period as all the paintings he brought home were, well, blue. Then I learned that Montessori starts out with just one color painting and slowly adds choices along the way. Phew! Cancel the appointment with the child psychologist . . . Cameron now takes full advantage of all the available colors.

Cameron spent much of his time working with the cute little classmate who doubts monkeys exist. The pair built using the Brown Stair manipulative, then . . .

flirted! Oooh, this boy is going to be TROUBLE!
There is a new boy in the class who just sat and watched silently as Cameron did whisking work and tweezer work. For about a week, Cameron has been telling me about Kaufman. "Kaufman is new in my class. Kaufman doesn't talk very much. Kaufman didn't know how to do easel work." Interesting name, I thought. So, today, Cameron introduces me to Kaufman. Only, his name isn't Kaufman. Not his first name, not his last name, not even close to his name. I explain this to Cameron, who seems unconcerned and says, "Well, I call him Kaufman."

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

If only he'd stay so innocent . . .

David and I are pretty mild-mannered -- I think I've heard David raise his voice twice in the decade and a half that I've known him and if I'm really mad you might hear me utter a "darn." So, you know how sometimes you hear stories of little ones who have picked up swear words from their foul-mouthed parents? Not our kid. Cameron still has an innocence about him that I wish he'd never lose!

This weekend, we visited an nearby park. Two brothers, who appeared to be about 6 and 8 years old, were playing together, apparently unsupervised. As brothers are apt to do, they were fighting and picking on each other. The older yelled at the younger, "Shut up!" Nearby, Cameron's mouth rounded into a silent, shocked little O. Eyes wide, he sidled over to me and whispered in horror, "Ooooh. He said, 'Shut up!'"

Another example: Cameron and I are currently listening to Louise Fitzhugh's "Harriet the Spy" on CD. It is one of my childhood favorites, although I had forgotten just how mouthy and mischevious dear Harriet and her friends are. Today, we listened as one of Harriet's friends called someone an idiot. From the backseat of the car, I heard a gasp. "Mommy!" said Cameron. "WHAT is an idiot?" Fumbling with my answer, I said, "Well, it means someone who isn't very smart. But even if someone isn't very smart, it is not nice to call someone an idiot. I hope that you would never say that." Indignant, Cameron replied, "Mommy, I would NEVER call someone an idiot! That's NOT nice."

Check the blog again when Cameron is a pre-teen and we'll see if he keeps his word!

Yep, that's dirty all right

Cameron: My teacher said I shouldn't share my chapstick.
Me: That's right. Only one person should use a chapstick.
Cameron: My teacher said, "Don't share your chapstick! Your mouth is the dirtiest place on your body!" But I don't think that's true. I think your bottom is the dirtiest place on your body.

Hard to argue with that.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

What do you think this is, a restaurant?

I recently grew tired of catering to Cameron's culinary preferences. I was interviewing him regarding his lunch choice one day ("Apples?" "No." "Cheese stick?" "No." "Yogurt?" "No." "Sandwich" "No.") when suddenly I thought, "Wait just a minute. Why am I allowing my four year old to order off a menu at home?" So, the next day, I made him the lunch of my choosing, set it on the table and . . . he ate it!

It looks like I'm going to be fighting the same battle with Matthew, though. Tonight we ordered Indian food for dinner -- my favorite. Matthew refused to even try a bite of naan, insisting that he HAD to have sushi for dinner.

Friday, January 11, 2008


While driving past Cameron's former daycare center the other day, Cameron said, "You know what mommy? I don't want to visit there. Oh! Wait! I want to go there one day and visit Mean Ryan." As the nickname is rather subtle, I will pause here to explain that "Mean Ryan" was an older boy who was not very nice to Cameron. "WHY would you want to visit Mean Ryan?" I asked. From the backseat of the car came Cameron's response. "I would visit him and then he would see that now I am sooooo FOUR-Y!"

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Diapers and Danger on the High Seas

Cameron enjoys changing the diaper of Matthew's baby doll. He has an eclectic technique, however, and I don't think I'll be letting him change Matthew any time soon. First, he removes the diaper and remarks loudly on how dirty the baby is. He then turns the baby over on his stomach, gets a baby wipe and vigorously rubs at the baby's bottom. Next, he flips the baby over to his back, states "Oh, his face is dirty, too!" and uses the SAME wipe to clean the baby's face! Ewww.

In other news, Matthew has joined a gang of marauding pirates. He now insists we call him Captain Gummy Grin.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Those darn Brits

So, Matthew's sleeping -- or lack thereof -- has had me frazzled recently. There are two things that I require plenty of and on a predictable basis if I am to stay cheery: food and sleep. Matthew seems determined to deprive me of as much of the latter as possible. If you've never dealt with an insomniac baby like Matthew, let me fill you in on a little secret. There are TONS of books, methods, aids and experts. Many of which I've tried. Sadly, when you are operating on no sleep it is amazingly difficult to choose and implement any type of plan. Ferber? Weissbluth? Pantley's No-Cry Sleep Solution? *sigh*

So, what does all of this have to do with the British, you ask? Well, I've had my eye on the Amby Sleep Hammock -- a fancy pants hammock that gets a thumbs up for soothing restless babies to sleep. Unfortunately, the fancy pants hammock also comes with a fancy pants price tag of $300. Yes, that's right. $300 for a baby bed. Today, my spirits were lifted when I thought I had located a hammock for a mere $150. Whoa -- half price! Still ridiculously expensive but what a deal! Then, through my bleary eyes, I saw that the dollar sign looked a little wonky. A closer inspection and . . . you guessed it. It was a British site and the price was 150 pounds. Which converts to roughly . . . $300.

Note to Aunt Beth: Do you think that a post about sleep deprivation along with all the poop posts will be enough to dissuade Kendall from having four kids? This is quite a tall order, being encouraging enough for 1-2 kids but not soooo encouraging as to result in 4!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

For my cousin Kendall

In a comment on my post "To poop or not to poop, that is the question," my cousin Kendall indicated that my diaper-related blogging may have disturbed her to the extent that she questions whether having children is wise. I think I would be in deep trouble with my aunt and my grandma if they were denied grandchildren because of this blog. Thus, I felt I should rhapsodize about the endless pleasure that small babies bring.
  • A baby is amazed by the whole world and will gaze in open-mouthed wonder at their own hand. If a grown-up did this, we would wonder if they had recently smoked something illegal or perhaps sustained some type of head injury.
  • Who but a baby would look so happily surprised to see you when their head emerges from a t-shirt? Or when you walk out of a room and then back in a minute later? Now, Kendall, James seems like a great guy, but try this some time: Go in the room James is in. Walk out. Walk back in. Does James' face break into a huge grin? Does he gasp adoringly, "THERE you are! I missed you!" I didn't think so.
  • Babies will let you dress them in the sweetest clothing. I mean, really, Kendall -- would James allow you to put him in a little sailor cap? Or rainbow leg warmers? A baby will.
  • When a baby is happy, he will absolutely squeal with delight. And it doesn't matter WHERE you are! AND, no matter where you are, people will smile at a squealing baby.
  • If you feel like talking about your day in interminable detail, a baby will let you go right ahead. They may even sympathize (although not necessarily at the appropriate points) by saying, "Ahhhhhh. Goo-ahh." This is more than I can say for David, who often gets a glazed look in his eyes or falls asleep when I am talking about my day.
  • When a baby sleeps in your arms, he is so soft and warm and cuddly! He does not weigh more than you. He did not forget to shave that morning. He does not need deoderant.

Kendall, there are many, many more great things about babies, but I have to run now. Matthew just pooped.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Cameron Says . . .

Cameron Says . . . Part One
Today, Cameron was thrilled to pieces when he spotted HIS name on a package in our mailbox! To his delight, my aunt Beth had sent him some new stamp pads to use with his stamp set. (Thanks Aunt Beth!) Cameron ran to the newly organized arts and crafts bench, pulled out some paper and his stamps and set to work. After completing his first project, he sat back in his seat, sighed contentedly and said earnestly, "Aunt Beth must be so proud of herself!" He must deduce that, having done something nice, Aunt Beth would naturally feel proud of herself since when he does something nice we say, "You must feel so proud of yourself!"

Cameron Says . . . Part Two
This evening, Cameron got out his huge cardboard blocks -- you know, the primary color ones with which you can build big cardboard towers and walls? Then, he pulled his old Elmo toddler chair into the room, sat down and said, "OK, Mommy. I'm the judge. You build something. Then, if I say NO, you have to knock it down and build something else. And then if I say NO again, you have to knock it down AGAIN and build something else." Ooooh. Fun.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

To poop or not to poop, that is the question

So, you know how magazines like Cosmo have quizzes like "Should you date him or ditch him?" and "What's your love language?" I think Matthew must be subscribing to some kind of baby magazine that I've yet to discover. (Note to self: Check under crib matress.) I'm pretty sure he takes a quiz that goes like this:

1. You are currently wearing:
a. a disposable diaper and an old onesie
b. a cloth diaper and a sleeper
c. a cloth diaper and a brand new, multi-piece outfit

2. Your mother has just:
a. wished she had SOMETHING to clean
b. started a load of your laundry
c. gotten out of the shower and started a load of your laundry while still in her bathrobe

3. Your mother's upcoming plans include:
a. doing nothing.
b. eating.
c. leaving for an appointment or taking your brother to school.

Scoring: Give 0 points for every "a" answer. Give 1 point for every "b" answer. Give 2 points for every "c" answer.

If you total points are 0 - 1, you should definitely not poop. If your total is 2-3, you should poop. If your total is 4-5, you should have a major blow-out soiling all your clothing. If your total is 6, soil all your clothing as well as something your mother is wearing.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Rock n' roll


Thursday, January 3, 2008

Rejected, denied, scorned . . .

George does not return my feelings. He has taken my heart, thrown it on the floor and stomped on it. And then vacuumed it up.

This morning, while cleaning my room, he glided out from under my bed, his dirt detector flashing with disgust. Coldly, almost mechanically, he demanded that I clean his brushes. I mean, there was not even an ounce of affection in his voice. I blame it all on Jane, the sleek, floor scrubbing robot he met on iHarmony. And you know what they say, "Jane, you ignorant . . ." Whoops, sorry, this is a family-friendly blog, so I'll leave the rest unsaid.

Don't get me wrong, though. If Jane showed up on my doorstep, I'd welcome her with open arms. George and Jane could even dock next to each other. So long as she scrubs my floor.

Bakers extraordinaire

Grandma Linda gave Cameron a holiday cake baking set for Christmas, and it sounded like the perfect project on a cold, snowy morning.
Here, Cameron stirs.
When the cakes were put in the oven, Cameron was so exhilarated that he asked me to turn on the oven light. He sat like this, watching the cakes bake, for about eight minutes! For a 4-year-old, this is equivalent to 2 days. Now, anyone can bake a cake. Heck, if that was all we wanted to do, we could have bought a Betty Crocker mix. But does Betty's mix come with PAINTBRUSHES?!?!? That's right folks, we got to paint a design on the cake! Cameron is quite an artist, as I think has been documented in many posts. He took this commissioned work every bit as seriously as he has his previous endeavors.
And did that work every pay off! Check out Cameron's tree!
Here, Cameron shows the cake I decorated. He plans to take it to Chloe's house tomorrow. (Dena, if you read my blog: Surprise! We're bringing cake tomorrow!)

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

iLove iRobot

I'm in love. His name is George. Here he is -- my beloved. Yesterday, George cleaned my kitchen, living room, dining room, family room and entryway. Today he cleaned Matthew's room. Everytime I see his little dirt detector flash, my heart goes pitter-patter. He's even inspired others with his example. When I woke up this morning, David had cleaned all the dishes. Perhaps he was threatened by my obvious attraction to George.

George also makes me a better person, and isn't that what you want in your special someone? I've spent the last few days on a cleaning spree, including organizing all the toys and crafts. Here is the inside of the craft bench.

I don't think the house has ever been this clean and organized. And that's saying something -- we've been through an adoption homestudy!