Monday, March 31, 2008

Cameron the Carnivore

People who know my eating habits frequently ask me if I am raising my kids to be vegetarians. The truth is, I'm not even vegetarian. The latest lingo is that I am flexitarian -- I eat a largely plant-based diet but do occasionally eat meat, primarily fish and seafood. As for the kids, they'll choose for themselves how much meat, if any, they want to eat as they get older. They don't eat much meat now, simply because I don't prepare it, but David does sometimes get a craving for meat and make some for himself.

Last night, David and Cameron feasted on sausages and brats from David's favorite butcher. I enjoyed pasta with marinara sauce and a side of veggies with balsamic vinegar. Cameron delightedly explained to me that sausage is made from pig. "You should eat some sausage, Mommy!" he entreated me.

"No thanks," I replied. "I don't like sausage."

"Why not?"

"Well, I don't really like most food that is made from animals," I said.

"Hmm," Cameron pondered. Then he said with relish, "I LOVE eating animals!"

Friday, March 28, 2008

A malpractice suit waiting to happen

I just came from an appointment with Dr. Cameron. I chose him mainly because of his convenient location -- my living room. I left thinking, "Man, I hope this guy has good malpractice insurance!" Here's how the visit went:

Me: Doctor, my arm hurts! I think I broke it!
Dr. Cameron: Hmmm. I think we need to take your temperature.
Me: Take my temperature? Dr. C. sticks thermometer under broken arm. Owwww!
Dr. C: Well, it's happy and sad.
Me: Is that kind of like the old "I have good news and I have bad news?"
Dr. C: Well, it's over Fahrenheit. But I play soccer. Isn't that cool?
Me: Uhhh, just out of curiosity, Doc, where did you do your residency?
Dr. C: Long, uncomfortable silence Ummm, at the . . . hospital?
Me: Thanks anyways, doctor, but I think I'm going to head to the E.R.

Brothers and buddies

When we were waiting to adopt, I often worried over the age gap between our kids. So many of our friends seem to have children two years apart and with each month that passed without any adoption news I fretted, "Oh, no, they'll be at least three years a part!" "3 1/2 years . . . they'll never be close!" "3 years and 8 months is too big a gap!" Now, having our boys nearly 4 years a part, I wouldn't change it for the world. Matthew could not ask for a more adoring big brother, and Cameron couldn't possibly have more fun than he does with a baby brother. Cameron is Matthew's protector, teacher and entertainer. Matthew is Cameron's admirer, playmate and best secret-keeper! Just look at these best friends!

The Anti-Napper

Here is Cameron at 2 1/2 years old. He fought tooth and nail against nap time that day. Finally, all was quiet in his room. When it seemed safe to peek in, I was horrified to find an empty bed! Then, I spotted him in the corner. It appear that in a final act of resistance, he had emptied several boxes of Kleenex, taken off his pants (an obvious act of defiance when you are 2) and proceeded to fall asleep in the pile of discarded tissues. This was one of those parenting moments where you feel simultaneously angry and amused. At least he's sleeping, I thought. Upon waking, Cameron explained that he had made himself a "nest."

The Cat Napper

Cameron had a make-up soccer class on Wednesday. While his class typically has about 12-15 kids in it, on this day Cameron was one of only three. This meant that it was his turn far more often than usual and he ran himself ragged. It was a beautiful day, so after class I suggested we head to the park. "No," said Cameron. "I think I want to go home and take a nap." This, from a boy who was refusing naps at age 2 1/2 years! He was truly tired, though. After about an hour, I tried to wake him, but he was like a rag doll. He slept another hour or so and then, inevitably, was wide awake at bedtime.

Seeing him sleep really made me think I need to get back to yoga. I mean, is THIS a relaxation pose or WHAT?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Jump for joy!

On Monday, Matthew received some hand-me-down toys. He's getting a little too big for the really little baby toys, like his swing and bouncy seat, and is moving on to bigger and better things. When I first put him in his new jumper, he sat looked at me uncertainly. He bent his knees tentatively and gave a little hop. This was quickly followed by squeals of delight, intensifying to excited screams. His little legs kicked and flailed as he propelled himself. I took several videos, which I have tried and failed to post here. Finally, after 24 hours, I have decided instead to admit defeat and post still photos. Not as great as the video, but I think it still captures his enthusiasm for the jumper.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

Last night, Cameron was in a frenzy of excitement, so full of anticipation for the Easter Bunny's visit that he was unable to sleep. He had left a note for the Easter Bunny, including a request that E.B. visit him in his room and "tickle me with your soft ears." I happen to have inside info that E.B. had a difficult time hiding the eggs and basket, as Cameron was up so late that E.B. was getting quite tired.

And, no surprise, at 5 a.m. I heard Cameron padding into my bedroom to whisper, "Mommy? Is it time to find my basket now?" To which I groggily but emphatically responded, "No." At a somewhat more reasonable 7 a.m., I got up with Matthew. Cameron apparently has some kind of GPS tracking device hidden in my pajamas, as he always, always wakes up within about 30 seconds of me. He quickly located me in the kitchen and almost instantaneously spotted an egg hidden in a shoe near the front door. From that point onward, he was on a frantic and highly successful egg-seeking mission. When the last egg had been discovered, he was ready to move on to his basket, but Daddy was STILL sleeping. Cameron quickly solved that problem.
Without too much frustration, the basket was found stashed in the towel cupboard. A note from E.B. explained that he had tickled Cameron with his soft ears as directed, but Cameron had slept through the tickling. The bunny went on to point out that the Easter basket contained a few gifts for Matthew, and that Cameron should share his candy and be good in church. Sadly, Cameron found it very difficult to follow E.B.'s mandate a few hours later, as an hour and a half is a long time to sit still when you are four years old and have eaten more jelly beans than is reasonable before noon.

In addition to some candy, Cameron was excited to find his basket brimming with play silks, a play silk sword and a book of Shrinky Dinks. For Matthew, E.B. had thoughtfully provided a stylish selection of BabyLegs and the book "More, More, More Said the Baby." The play silks, which are large, colorful squares of silk for imaginary play, resulted in many creative costumes including angel wings for Matthew.
Although Matthew makes a cute angel, I thought he looked even cuter all dressed up for church. And here is Cameron, celebrating his first Easter four years ago!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Exhausting emotions

One of the many things I envy preschoolers for is their freedom to express their feelings without censor. (Well, aside from censor by their parents who put them in time out for screaming!) Happy, sad, tired, excited . . . Cameron expresses it all with passion. No holding back, no worrying about what others will think.

At soccer this morning, Cameron ran and ran and ran, pausing only to give me a thumbs up sign with a goofy grin on his face. Finally, a whistle beckoned the enthusiastic but exhausted team to gather mid-field for further instructions. When the coach (who, according to Cameron, is named "Coach Scotch") gave directions for a drill, Cameron dropped his head into his hands, buckled at the knees, rolled his eyes and gave a loud sigh. When Cameron and another boy collided, Cameron fell to the ground, lifted his arms and legs skyward, then let them drop dramatically. When his team scored a goal, he cheered, fists pumping frenetically above his head and gave his bottom a little victory wiggle.

When I was working, I often fantasized about what it would be like to be able to behave like a preschooler. You know, maybe lay my head down on my desk and heave an exhausted sigh when my boss announces a staff meeting. Or ball my hands into fists and growl menacingly when a patient arrives 15 minutes late. Perhaps run in circles, yipping with delight, upon discovering that someone brought in bagels. It would be exhilirating to have that kind of freedom. But, in all honesty, I just don't think I have the energy for it! Waayyy to many muscles involved in those four-year-old displays of emotion! A sardonic eyebrow raise is about all I can muster most days. And with that . . . I'm off to bed.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Ego and aspirations

I've heard that the young adults of today, spoiled and incessantly praised throughout their childhood, display an appalling lack of modesty and a sense of entitlement. Evidently, there are even management training seminars on how to deal with the youngest members of the workforce. Well, not MY kids! I thought. Certainly I can strike a balance, instilling in my children both humility and self-confidence, both an ability to recognize their strengths without arrogance and a knack for identifying and improving areas of weakness. Should be easy enough!

Or . . . not. This morning Cameron said to me, as he drew an impressive square, "I'm going to be an engineer." Before I could respond, he added, "A very talented engineer. I'll be a gooder engineer than daddy." Wow. Perhaps I've been a bit heavy handed with the compliments. I'll have to try to do a gooder job at teaching modesty.

Christmas wishes

Cameron recently began his Christmas list for '08. I mean, no sense leaving it to the last minute! On a green sheet of construction paper, he carefully wrote "DOG" and "PIG." Well, that should be easy, I thought. I'd been thinking we didn't have enough living beings in this house for me to clean up after! But just a moment ago, I saw that Cameron has made an update to his list. In scrawling, painstaking capital letters, the list now includes "LAPRQIN." You know, a laprqin. The green guys with the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? Well, perhaps the laprqin can clean up after the dog and pig.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Hat heads

St. Patrick's Day began with excitement in our house -- we were shocked to find that the leprechauns had played a trick on us and turned our milk green! With some trepidation, we took a taste and were delighted to discover that green milk is DELICIOUS! Cameron independently determined that leprechauns turn milk green "by dipping their socks in it." Mmmm.

After school, Cameron went to a St. Patrick's Day party and David went to an Irish pub with his co-workers. I, apparently, am no social butterfly, as I spent the evening carting kids from school to party to home. I think I am in a social cocoon stage of my life.

The party boy apparently has a really cool mom who somehow managed in 1 hour in 45 minutes to get 6 kids fed, play games, frost cookies and make pretzels and paint a toy train. Even better, each kid got a goody bag which, among other things, contained a very large hat. The hat was endlessly amusing, as you can see!
Cameron, recognizing that Matthew was likely green with jealousy, kindly allowed Matthew to try the hat on, too. You know, really humongous green hats don't work for everybody, but I think my boys really pulled off the look!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

One Man Band

Take one baby, one whisk and one muffin tin and what do you get? Well . . . noise. But Matthew sure enjoyed it! It pretty much went down like this:

Hey, if you were teething you'd be biting, too!

Friday, March 14, 2008

A roaring good time

Cameron has a white tiger named Zeb, an homage to his zebra-style stripes. They are the dearest of pals and Cameron frequently tells me how much he loves Zeb. If only Zeb could speak, I am sure he would say the same of Cameron, who dotes upon him. Cameron has made Zeb a comfy sleeping area with only the finest Kleenex linens. He brushes Zeb's teeth three times a day. And yesterday Cameron informed me very seriously that the next day was Zeb's birthday and he wanted to surprise his friend with a little soiree.
As soon as the sun peeked over the horizon this morning, Cameron appeared beside my bed whispering, "Mommy! Wake up, wake up! It's Zeb's birthday!" So, tonight, we all sang "Happy Birthday" to Zeb. He clearly had had NO idea we were planning this surprise for him. As you can see below, his mouth just dropped open in shock when he saw the cake! Cameron was filled with delight when Zeb succeeded in blowing out the candles. Of course, Zeb wouldn't tell us what he wished for -- then it wouldn't come true! -- but my guess is a plate full of raw meat instead of cinnamon apple bundt cake.

Lizard Watch 2008

48 hours 72 hours -- The Green grew so large, his head is actually poking out of the water!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Art and Astronomy

When I picked Cameron up from school yesterday, I noted that his cheek was festooned with blue ink. "WHAT is on your face?" I asked, expecting him to reply, "A stamp." Instead he said, with the patient tone of someone speaking to someone none to bright, "It's called the Milky Way." And indeed, on closer inspection, I discovered that it was a stamp of a tiny galaxy!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Leapin' lizards!

Once again, Aunt Beth made Cameron's day with a surprise package in the mail! After wildly tearing open the envelope, Cameron was overjoyed to find two little lizards that grow 600% when soaked for 72 hours. After debating whether or not the lizards would grow so enormous that they would need to be contained in the bathtub, we settled on a glass bowl. Cameron named the orange lizard "Pinky" and, cleverly, the green lizard "Green." I like to think of them as Pinky and the Green -- anyone out there remember "Pinky and the Brain?" Zack?

Here is Cameron hugging his lizard bowl at 0 hours.
A close-up of the pair.24 hours later.
And, since I reviewed my photos and noted that they are all of Cameron, Matthew and David, here's a rare shot of me and Matthew!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Blizzard boredom

Well, this weekend brought 48 hours of uninterrupted family togetherness, thanks to the "blizzard" as they are calling it in these parts! As the hours stretched on, it became increasingly challenging to keep ourselves occupied. It seemed obvious was that what we all needed was cookies -- as everyone knows, excessive cookie consumption is an age-old remedy for boredom. I scavenged through the fridge, only to find that the eggs were expired and we had no chocolate chips. We did, however, have a can of pumpkin, some raisins and walnuts. Beggars can't be choosers, as the old saying goes. A quick google later, and we were hard at work making no-egg pumpkin cookies. They were delicious, although more muffinesque than your average cookie.

When, finally, the roads were reopened late Saturday afternoon, we bundled up the kids and headed out for pizza. When we first arrived at the pizzeria, it was almost empty. But as we ate the place quickly filled up, almost exclusively with giddy looking parents and their small children. Every grown up seemed beside themselve with glee to be out of the house.

Sunday was hectic, as we attempted to catch up on all the things we were supposed to get done of Friday and Saturday -- hair cuts, oil changes, grocery shopping. While I unpacked groceries, I was amused to see David multitasking by giving Cameron a piggyback ride and simultaneously entertaining Matthew.

Seems that the hours spent housebound gave him an opportunity to flex his "daddy of two" muscles! As for his short sleeve shirt paired with a winter hat, I have no explanation. Although it may lend some insight into Cameron's infamous fashion picks!

Friday, March 7, 2008

The price of knowledge

Ever on a quest to develop Cameron's interest in science, I chose a book of experiments for him during my latest trip to the library. This afternoon was the perfect opportunity to crack it open. For our first grand scientific undertaking, we explored the density of liquids by layering corn syrup, colored water and vegetable oil in a glass. Then, we dropped objects into the glass to see how far they descended. We began with the book-suggested paper clip, but quickly moved on to more pressing questions. For instance, which is denser, a ball of play dough or a marshmallow? In his enthusiasm, Cameron grabbed a penny and dime from his piggy bank and dropped them in. He watched in fascination as they sunk to the bottom, then turned to me and solemnly intoned, "This experiment has been very expensive for me."

Snow day means snow play!

This morning it began snowing heavily right around the time that the working world makes its morning commute. This is nothing unusual these days -- it seems to constantly be snowing at rush hour this winter. Fortunately, David didn't have to brave the roads as he had the day off. Unfortunately, our many plans for his day off (oil changes, quotes for a new furnace, you know, fun stuff!) were canceled due to the inclement weather. We made ourselves a big pot of oatmeal, played some board games and took the opportunity to enjoy some rare family time. Around 11am, we received a recorded phone call from Cameron's school alerting us that afternoon preschool was canceled. The call gave me a good laugh as the principal's recorded voice stated, "At this time, the bus riders are expected to leave the school at 2pm. If conditions continue to worsen, this time may change. If you are a parent of a bus rider, please be aware that we will board your child on the bus regardless of what time the buses arrive. Hopefully, you will be home when they get there." Is it just me or does it seem a bit inadequate to "hope" that someone will be home when a 5-year-old gets off the bus in a snow storm?
In the afternoon, Cameron and David braved the cold to build a snow fort. Since I am no fool, I stayed in the warm house. Cameron and David appeared to be having a grand time, filling their containers with snow and depositing the packed snow in neat rows.

Having been warned by me several times not to pick up snow and eat it, Cameron cleverly found a way to get his fill of the cold stuff without breaking any rules. Yep, here he is, licking the snow. Technically, he is not picking up any snow!The boys came in frozen and noisily demanding hot cocoa with marshmallows. Ahhh, the small pleasures of winter! I've had enough with winter pleasures, though -- bring on the spring!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Sometimes and always

For reasons unbeknownst to me, Cameron was in a foul mood yesterday. He is usually a very agreeable kid but when he's not, well, look out! "Get me juice, Mommy," he commanded in a petulant tone as I changed Matthew's diaper. "Juice, juice, I want juice, Mommy!" he huffed. Reminders about patience, "please" and "thank you" were met with an icy stare. By dinner time, I had had about enough of his behavior. He whined and wheedled throughout dinner and told David and I to "stop talking because you're confusing my brain." Shortly after dinner, I put Matthew to bed but just a few minutes later Cameron began to scream, enraged over . . . well, we had no idea what! If there is one thing that will push my buttons, it is waking up Matthew. Cameron had picked the wrong battle. I carried him, kicking and screaming, to the dreaded Supernanny-inspired time-out chair where for four minutes he sobbed, spit (yes, spit) and gagged while I determinedly ignored him. (This, I will have you know, takes an extreme about of willpower!)

When the four minutes were up, I sat down to have a chat with him. Sensing that a new tactic was needed here, I began, "Wow! You must be feeling really angry about something! I know it doesn't feel good to be so angry. I wish I could help you feel better, but I don't know what is making you so angry!" Then, in a flash of inspiration, I engaged David in a little drama in which I tried to tell him what was making me angry. First, I "used my words." Second, I acted like a woman possessed, shrieking and stomping.

Giggling through his tears, Cameron said, "Well, I'm not angry, Mommy. I'm frustrated. And my brain is so mixed up!" Discussion of consequences, apologies and a few hugs later, he went to bed calmly.

When Cameron woke up this morning, the first thing he said was, "I still don't get to watch TV today, right?" He had lost his TV privileges thanks to the spitting incident.

"Nope, no TV," I replied. "Do you remember why?"

Glumly, he recited, "No TV because of my behavior last night. Wow, I had really bad behavior didn't I? Do you love me even when I have bad behavior?"

"Yes, I always love you," I said. "No matter how bad your behavior is, I still love you."

"Well," he replied, "I love you, too, Mommy. Sometimes. Sometimes and always."

And, as illogical as it sounds, I think that that is exactly right!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Women -- We're SO complex!

Before Matthew joined our family, Cameron desperately wished for a baby. He talked about babies all the time, but rarely expressed a preference for a brother versus a sister. Which was great, since we didn't know which he would end up having! Now that Matthew is here, Cameron is an adoring big brother. It melts my heart to see him hug Matthew, comfort him or tell him that he loves him. He recently said to me, "Remember how I wanted a baby? Wasn't that a great idea?' as if he had thought of the whole thing himself. Today I asked him if he is glad he has a brother instead of a sister. "Yes," he responded. "Sisters are way more complicated."

Monday, March 3, 2008

Spring is in the air

Well, spring is in the air for a day or two -- then it's right back to winter. So we are taking advantage of the weather while we can. This morning we played in the yard while Matthew looked around in dazed confusion. This is probably the first time in his memory that he has been outside! Well, aside from rushing to and from the car while bundled in his car seat. I'd imagine that when that is your life experience, a day like today is even more beautiful! In any case, he has been in a good mood all day. And as if the chance to be outside wasn't enough to make a mama happy, when Matthew went down for his nap Cameron asked if we could cuddle on the couch and take a nap. Are you kidding me? I would love nothing more! Sunshine and snuggles . . . what a day!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Sweet baby babble

Matthew loves to "talk" these days, his favorite word being "dada." Now, the kid is 6 months old, so this is clearly said without any attached meaning. I mean, OBVIOUSLY, if he understood meaning he'd be saying "mama," right? Cameron never ceases to be amused by Matthew's babbling, though. "Dadadadada!" screeches Matthew. Cameron laughes, "Maaatthew! Daddy's at work right now!" But Matthew persists. "DADA dadada DA!" And Cameron comforts him, "Don't worry, Matthew. Daddy will be home soon."

Earlier this week, I was driving home with Matthew after dropping Cameron off at school. I thought Matthew had fallen asleep, and I turned on the radio. Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" was playing so, naturally, I turned up the volume and began to sing along.

Once I ran to you (I ran)
Now I'll run from you
This tainted love you've given
I give you all a boy could give you
Take my tears and that's not nearly ALL
Oh...tainted love
And from the back seat, in perfect rhythm with the song, Matthew crooned "Ya ya ya." Tainted love. "Ya ya ya ya." Unfortunately, I think he's a one-hit wonder.