Wednesday, April 30, 2008

When the sun comes out

When the sun comes out, we are tripping over each other to be the first outside! This morning, Cameron climbed a tree. I love this photo because it looks like he could be waaayyy up a tree when, in fact, he is about two feet off the ground. I guess two feet off the ground feels pretty high, though, when you are under four feet tall. "Whoooaaa!" breathed Cameron as he looked down at the ground. "I'm so high up! I'm kind of afraid to come down!" We also enjoyed some time in the backyard. I hung up some cloth diapers to dry on the line, all the while wondering what the neighbors must think of me. "Look, Harry! You won't believe what she's up to this time! Cloth diapers! And she's hanging them on a clothes line! What will she come up with next?" I know . . . I'm so retro.
Matthew was able to try out his brand new baby swing, which was a big hit.
Cameron was proud of Matthew, but did point out to Matthew that he does not know how to pump and Cameron does. Also, Cameron knows how to stand and Matthew does not. Matthew seemed unperturbed by his deficiencies.

And remember Cameron's Superhero shows of 2007? Well, we've moved on to bigger and better things. Namely, Star Wars. Despite never having seen the trilogy, Cameron is enthralled with all things Dark Side. He also doesn't mind mixing it up a little. Today, he donned a red hat and gloves and explained, "I'm Darth Vader. But I'm a robot Darth Vader. And I can shoot blue fireballs from my eyes. And also? I have Spiderman gloves that shoot webs." Oh, it's going to be a fun summer!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Cute is not a big enough word

When I opened the mailbox today, I was filled with delight and anticipation when I spotted the CD mailer. Yes, it is the moment you've been waiting for . . . the latest round of photos by Steph Carson!

Matthew is just full of personality these days, and Steph really captured that. Here he is lookin' good in his diaper. I think this one may be my favorite of Matthew so far. Those big brown eyes just melt my heart!Steph is a big fan of baby toes -- here she gets a shot of Cameron and Matthew's feet together.

And then Matthew showing off his tootsies.

Finally, a few photos with clothes on.
Cameron looks like such a happy big brother in this one (and he is!).
I'm one lucky mama!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Good in theory

When I was pregnant with Cameron, I registered at Babies R Us. I found the cutest little baby socks! On the sole of each was the day of the week and on the ankle of each sock was a little embroidered patch of the item that the Hungry Little Caterpillar ate that day. How darling! I imagined my little baby, wearing his or her Hungry Little Caterpillar Monday socks on Monday . . . now, on a Monday, I dress Matthew and rummage through his dresser drawers in frustration, finally settling on one Wednesday sock and one Saturday. *sigh* This is why Cameron's dresser is now full of identical pairs of white crew socks.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Highly contagious

Cameron's school sends out e-mail alerts when a child in his class is diagnosed with a contagious illness. Recently, pink-eye has swept the classroom. So, I thought I knew what we were talking about at the beginning of this conversation.

Cameron: My friend Evan wasn't at school today.
Me: Oh, that's too bad.
Cameron: He was sick. He had THE SAME THING that Ozzy had!
Me: Is it called pink-eye?
Cameron: No. It's called absence.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Walk Down Memory Lane

Two years ago, David gave me a fantastic Mother's Day/birthday gift. All on his own, he planned a surprise vacation to New York City where we visited my best friend, Debbie. The only downside to this extravagance is that he will have a hard time ever topping it! We had an amazing time visiting the museums, restaurants, coffee shops and many, many parks. And we even fit in some grown-up only time. David and I went to see "The Drowsy Chaperone" on Broadway and then had dinner at a fantastic restaurant where I was treated to a dessert wine on the house for Mother's Day. Another evening, a friend of Debbie's babysat Cameron while the three of us went out for a fantastic dinner (and more wine!).

I've been reminiscing about the trip and pulled up some old photos. I can't believe how little (and how blond!) Cameron looks! Since all this occur ed B.B. (before blog), I thought I'd share a few of my favorite photos.

David and Cameron roaring with the dinosaurs. Enjoying a coffee while Cameron naps on the go! He's holding his newly acquired "scooper."
Cameron and Debbie at the Central Park Zoo.
Me and Cameron at the zoo.
Daddy and Cameron at the zoo.
Goofing around at the park.
And goofing around some more at another park!
Ahhh, memories!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Everything Seuss

When I picked Cameron up from school yesterday he said, "Mommy! We're doing a new unit -- bugs! And today is Earth Day! And we talked about the Lorax!"

"Wow!" I said. "Did they read 'The Lorax' for Earth Day?"

"No," he replied. "You don't read it!"

"Oh. Did you just talk about 'The Lorax' because it is about taking care of the Earth?"

"Noooo. It wasn't for Earth Day! It was for the unit work!"

Hmmm. That's weird. What does the Dr. Seuss classic, "The Lorax," have to do with a unit about bugs?

From the back seat, Cameron continued. "Bugs have three parts to their body. The head, the Lorax and the abdomen!"

Monday, April 21, 2008


Cameron has developed a sudden and intense interest in playing catch. This is a mystery to me, as I am only familiar with my own childhood experience of developing a sudden and intense fear of the ball. One humiliating season of t-ball was enough for me.
Cameron and David have spent many an evening as of late in our yard, tossing the ball back and forth. Cameron has also begged me to play catch with him during the day, but holding a baby while a 4-year-old pitches to you is a good way to end up at Urgent Care, so I have demurred.
Cameron is actually doing quite well at catching, especially considering he is wearing a mitt that is too big and for the wrong hand as he is a leftie. Here he is poised to make a catch.

And . . . SUCCESS! Just look at that grin!

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Big(gish) One

So, around 5:45 this morning, we were hit by an earthquake. I, in the perpetual state of exhaustion we call "motherhood," slept through it. Hey, if it's not crying, it doesn't wake me people!

A short time later, David came and roused me. "I was holding Matthew," he said, "and I felt an earthquake!" Since the Midwest is not particularly known for earthquakes, I took this to be a euphimism and said, a bit testily I will admit, "So you're waking me up because you can't change a poopy diaper?" Wow, did I have egg on my face when I realized he meant an honest to goodness earthquake! (Although I was a bit relieved that I didn't have to start my morning out with a dirty diaper!)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Why We Pay Cameron's Teachers

This morning, Cameron and I decided to try out a Montessori work in our very own home! Cameron had been raving about penny polishing and it sounded like an easy undertaking. We gathered some tarnished pennies, rustled up a few Q-tips and filled a ramekin with lemon juice and salt. Cameron lamented the lack of a tray, but we made do. With pride, he showed me how to dip the Q-tip in the lemon juice mixture and rub the penny with a circular motion until it looked shiny and new. I gave it a try, but in all honesty it was . . . boring. I need more immediate gratification. "Hey!" I said to Cameron. "What if we dumped all the pennies right in the bowl of lemon juice!" He looked dubious, but I was enthusiastic. "Here!" I said, depositing the pennies in the juice and handing it to him. "Swirl it around!" And in no time, we had a bowl full of bright shiny pennies! Success!

Cameron was particularly excited, as he had promised to bring in money and give it to a kindergartener today. The kindergartener -- lets call him Ozzy -- is a very big boy whom Cameron seems to alternately admire and mildly fear. Apparently, Cameron decided to buy Ozzy's friendship with a few quarters earlier this week. On our drive home, Cameron had told me with pride, "I gave Ozzy some quarters today. And I told him how the money comes from my brain and out my ear."
"Really," I say. "And what did Ozzy think of that?"
"He told me to try and get more money from my brain to give to him."
Hmm. Should I be concerned? Is my four-year-old paying off a kindergarten bully before he's old enough to have lunch money?
So these freshly polished pennies were perfect. Cameron quickly stashed them in his backpack, excited to show (read: give) them to Ozzy.
This evening, I asked Cameron if he gave the pennies to Ozzy. "Yep!" he proclaimed with satisfaction. "And he said to try to get more for him. But I told him he had enough!"
That's my boy! You tell 'em!
So, with thoughts of pennies in my mind I logged on the computer for a little blog time. Out of curiosity, I googled "Montessori penny polishing" and found an 18-step penny polishing procedure that I had glibly thrown out the window. Evidently, the tedious, circular-motion polishing teaches all sorts of skills, including care of environment, motor planning, self-confidence and preparation for writing. Whoops. I guess swishing the pennies about in lemon juice kind of misses the point . . .
I'm just glad his teachers know what they're doing, 'cause Mommy doesn't!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Everything but the kitchen sink

We recently purchased a white noise machine for Matthew's room, after discovering randomly that the sound of the water running in the kitchen sink calms him down. Actually, it's not just a white noise machine, it is an Infant Sound Therapy machine. Doesn't that sound impressive? It is advertised as playing "10 soothing sounds designed especially for infants to lull your little one to sleep." However, in reviewing these specifically designed sounds, I am left wondering if Matthew is abnormally sheltered. I mean, he's never even been to a tropical rainforest! I think a more appropriate, "therapeutic" choice given his life experience might be "expressway traffic." And forget the sound of ocean waves and waterfalls -- hello, we're landbound here in the midwest! How about "squeaky shopping cart wheel" or "distant drone of theme from Word World." So, for now, we are forced to "lull our little one to sleep" with the "rainfall" setting -- oddly enough, there was no "kitchen sink" option.

A deep sleep

This morning, Cameron apparently woke up while David was getting ready for work. Matthew and I were, blessedly, still asleep. So, here's one of the nice things about having a four-year-old. Instead of waking me up, David parked Cameron in front of an episode of WordGirl, provided him with a bowl of cereal and instructed to wake me up if there was a problem. This bought me an extra half hour of sleep.

Around 7:30am, when WordGirl had outsmarted Chuck the Evil Sandwich-Making Guy yet again, Cameron came into my room. I awoke to a little voice, very, very close to my face, saying loudly, "Mommy, you are sleeping really deep!" Uh, yeah . . . more like, I was sleeping really deep! I can't complain, though -- sleeping in to 7:30am is positively indulgent these days!

Monday, April 14, 2008


Although not consciously aware of it, my dreams would indicate that I experienced some pre-baptism anxiety. In one dream, David dressed Cameron in pants that he had outgrown and a dirty shirt. "Oh no!" I exclaimed when I saw him. "He's supposed to be wearing the outfit that matches Matthew's!" Dream David said with disgust, "My family doesn't wear matching outfits."
In another dream, we arrived at the church only to learn that we were supposed to provide a meal for all the parishoners. Hurriedly, we retrieved the leftover pasta salad from our earlier party. But, to our distress, it was announced that we were serving a Polish feast of kielbasa and sauerkraut!

And, dream #3, my father was put in charge of watching all the children of the parish during the baptism. He was in the church basement, which looked exactly like the basement of my childhood home. When I went to see how he was doing, he had his eyes closed in resignation and he was surrounded by dozens of kids who were all seated in giant, 6-seater exersaucers!

To my great relief, none of these dreams came to pass. Even David thought Cameron and Matthew looked adorable in their matching outfits. We did a full immersion baptism -- for the first dunk, Matthew didn't make a peep. The second dunk, a look of consternation passed over his face. Third dunk and he had had it! He wailed until he was handed off to me, at which point he turned to give the priest a reproachful glare. We were also proud of Cameron, who was astoundingly well-behaved throughout the mass and baptism.

One of the highlights of the weekend for Cameron was learning that he has magic ears, from which Chase, Grandpa Frank and Uncle Zack were able to pull many quarters. Cameron looked genuinely astonished each time and repeatedly said, "Money comes from my BRAIN!" Following mass, Uncle Zack apparently took it to a whole new level and procured a tube of Chapstick from Cameron's ear. Our family stood at the exit of the church, where many parishoners stopped to congratulate us and admire Matthew. One kind woman said to Cameron, "Did you enjoy your brother's baptism?" I'm sure she was surprised when, with wide eyes, Cameron replied enthusiastically, "I have CHAPSTICK in my EAR!"

And now for some photos:

Grandpa and Grandma, me, David, Cameron, Stephanie, Matthew and Bryan.
Grandpa Frank, Grandma Linda and Matthew in his baptismal garment.
A very tall Father Len, a very short me, Cameron, Matthew and David.

Just your typical Pirate & Cow themed party

On Saturday, we held a Post-Finalization and Pre-Baptism Bash for Matthew. Despite my conviction that I could not possibly get the house cleaned in time, I think we managed to pull it off fairly successfully!

It was so much fun to have our friends and families over. Living away from our families, we are usually visiting them -- it was a nice change of pace to have everyone at our place and to have a chance to repay the favor of the many meals they have made for us! Even Jan and Phil came from Cleveland, which was such a lovely surprise! Here is Jan meeting Matthew, who was quite taken with her (or her glasses).Everything started out calmly enough. You know, typical party -- quiet conversation, reading books . . . then the cake is served . . .
and next thing you know, David's dressed like a pirate . . .
Grandpa Frank and Uncle Zack are forced to take cover as a cow and a pirate duel . . .
and Matthew accelerates his jumping until he is just a blur of motion! No more frosting for you, little man!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Build a word

Cameron loves the show Word World in which animal characters, whose bodies are made of letters, solve problems by "building a word." When they build a word, they simply pick up some letters, spell out the word they need and -- ta-da! -- the word transforms into the object. Some recent episodes have included a gripping drama in which sheep is stuck on the roof and Duck builds a S-L-I-D-E to get her down or the nailbiter in which the animals can't get onto the stage until they build S-T-A-I-R-S. I've also seen them build a N-E-S-T, a C-A-K-E, a B-E-D, and a P-O-T. (Although I must point out that I was relieved when the P-O-T transformed into a container for cooking on the stove. I was fearful that the P-O-T would become an illegal substance and Police Sheep would have to put Duck in H-A-N-D-C-U-F-F-S.)

Wouldn't it be handy to be able to create anything you wanted just by spelling it? I don't want to brag or anything, but I was the spelling bee champion in Mrs. Kowalis' third grade class. I think I could do some serious damage with an alphabet like they've got in Word World. I would build WAY better stuff than a slide or stairs, though. Given the price of gasoline these days, I might create a H-Y-B-R-I-D for myself and fill up the tank with G-A-S for free. After a long day with the kids, I'd sit down on the couch and build myself a M-A-R-G-A-R-I-T-A. And no more mac and cheese for lunch, I'd be feasting on a three course meal with C-R-E-M-E B-R-U-L-E-E for dessert. Oooh, I wouldn't want to end up on a D-I-E-T though.

The only object they've built on Word World that was really ingenious was a R-O-B-O-T. Given how fond I've grown of George, our very own vacuuming robot, I would have to spell myself a few more R-O-B-O-T-S to keep the house sparkling clean.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Playing house, dramatically

When I was little, I remember spending hours playing house with my sister and brother. This typically consisted of choosing roles as mommy, daddy and baby and then acting out fascinating events such as cooking dinner, driving a car or holding the baby.

While Cameron is a huge fan of imaginary play, he has never played house until today. His version of house was a little different than mine, though. Most significantly, he felt the pressing need to actually construct a house. He had assigned Matthew the role of the baby and began assembling a couch cushion home for him. This was fine until he came to the roof, at which point he began to stack cushions on top of Matthew. "STOP! No cushions on the baby!" I yelled. When you are a parent, you often find yourself yelling things you never imagined. But, back to the cushions.

Cameron tried valiantly to convince me that Matthew really needed a roof on his house. "You'll just have to pretend there is a roof. You can't put cushions on top of Matthew, he won't be able to breathe!" I countered.

Cameron heaved a sigh. Now here I will pause to note that Cameron has a fairly extensive vocabularly for his age. He is also quite fond of adverbs and adjectives but doesn't always get their usage quite right. So, it was with great fervor that he responded, "Mommy. He will SERIOUSLY be able to breathe. DRAMATICALLY, I am leaving air holes!"

As you see in the following photos, even the dramatic air holes were not enough to convince me to allow for a roof.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Spring at last!

Today we enthusiastically welcomed spring weather which has finally, finally arrived! (Now if it will just STAY!) After school, we headed to a park where Cameron whirled and twirled in circles until he nearly fell over, laughing and dizzy.After regaining his equilibrium, Cameron headed for the playground to climb, run, slide and get muddy. He also posed for this picture. You see, Matthew recently learned to stick out his lower lip, which we all think is just darling. This is because Matthew currently breaks out the pout when he is happy, not when he is sad. Cameron had noted that Matthew's protruding lower lip elicits oohs and ahhs from the grown-ups and apparently decided that he'll give the move a try. Somehow, it isn't quite as cute on a four-year-old!

And a short story about preschoolers and their refreshing, if sometimes embarassing candor. When we first arrived at the park, we were the only ones there. Shortly thereafter, a mother came pushing a boy about Matthew's age in a stroller and holding the hand of a little girl who looked to be around Cameron's age. As it so happened, they were African American. Cameron was excited to see a potential playmate headed our way, but even more excited when he saw the baby. "Ohhh, Mommy!" he cooed. "They have a baby! And it's a brown one just like ours!"

Help with the laundry

Cameron has been resisting bedtime this evening. First he tried bargaining, followed by whining and general misbehaving, followed by attempts to entice me with his good behavior. When all failed, he came out of his room, saw me folding laundry and said, "I'm your helper, Mommy! I want to help you fold the laundry. I know how!" Now this I had to see.

"Sure thing," I replied, handing him one of David's t-shirts.

Cameron looked befuddled and said, "Uhhh, well, I don't know how to fold shirts. But I can help you fold pants!"

"Great!" I enthused, handing him a pair of David's pants.

"Ummm, well, actually, I only know how to fold the rugs we use for our works at school. Or maybe some of my pants," he confessed.

But, wow, can that kid ever fold a rug!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Cameron the Carnivore, Part 2

Cameron is fond of the Trader Joe's meatless corn dogs, so I was surprised to find it untouched on his lunch plate. The following conversation ensued.

Me: Why aren't you eating your corn dog?
Cameron: I don't want it.
Me: Why not? I thought you loved those corn dogs?
Cameron: Corn . . . Dog . . . Corn . . . Dog. Corn 'cause the outside is corn. And dog because . . .
Me: No, no, no! A corn dog isn't made out of dog! It's just a name. We don't really eat dogs.
Cameron (laughing): Oh, right. I knew that. We don't eat dogs. Thoughtful pause. Unless they're really mean dogs.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

News from the Highchair

Matthew is a grand champion when it comes to eating. Having mastered the purees, we recently introduced him to that age-old baby snack, Cheerios. After a bit of experimentation, I am pleased to announce that Matthew has discovered the pincer grip! What a breakthrough!

He picks up the Cheerio.
He adroitly transfers said Cheerio to mouth.

He consumes the Cheerio ALL BY HIMSELF!Just look at him beaming with pride at this feat of fine motor control! And note the adorable misplaced Cheerio on his cheek!You'll also note the ultra-cool bib Matthew is sporting. My mom recently sent me a link to DaBib and I promptly ordered a few of the Hugs style. Matthew can be a tad messy with those purees and he nearly always needed a change of clothes after mealtime. Additionally, Matthew's chubby cheeks were the perfect path for dribble to collect under his chin, where it would irritate his sensitive skin. DaBib solved those problems with its scrunchy neckline -- one of those "Why didn't I think of that?" innovations.

I was impressed with the design alone, but my recent experience with DaBib's customer service has me even more impressed. You see, after washing the bibs for the first time, I saw that the seam of one of the necklines had unravelled. It was still perfectly usable, but it was disappointing that it didn't seem to be holding up so well and I sent a brief e-mail to DaBib. It wasn't a whiny, "you better fix this or else" e-mail. In fact it was a "love the design, disappointed with the quality" e-mail. I didn't really expect anything to come of it, but I always feel better if I DO something when I am frustrated. To my complete surprise, my phone rang about 30 minutes later and it was the owner of the company! She apologized, told me that she'd never had any quality complaints before and I must have received a bum bib and offered to send me a new bib! Wow! And then today, I opened my mailbox to find not one, but TWO new DaBibs! It put such a smile on my face that I had to share with my loyal readers. (Sorry to those of you who do not have small, messy humans living with you -- you are probably bored to tears reading about scrunchy necklines!)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Chapter One: Fun with Toys

Having finished listening to Roald Dahl's "Matilda" on CD, Cameron and I have moved on to "Little House on the Prairie" as I attempt to expose Cameron to all my childhood favorites. Cameron is fascinated, frequently asking me to pause the CD so he can ask questions such as "Why does Pa have a gun?" and "Why does Laura's dress have buttons on the back instead of the front?" I often find myself struggling with the answers! Something I've noticed in listening to the books is that the chapters have rather obvious titles such as "Indians in the House," in which (you guessed it!) Indians come to the house. Today, I realized that Cameron has also recognized that the name of the chapter foreshadows the events to come.

This brings me to one of Cameron's favorite activities right now -- imaginary play using the play silks he received from the Easter Bunny. Today, we tied a red play silk into "wings" on his back and pretended we were cardinals. "Tweet, tweet!" chirped Cameron. "Chapter One: Building a Nest." After flitting around the living room to build his nest, he paused and intoned, "Chapter Two: A Birdhouse." Both the imaginary play and the naming of chapters continued for quite some time!

When the cardinal game was on its last feather, the red wings were transformed into a finish line for Cameron's OTHER favorite toys -- Automoblox! Cameron received an Automoblox minivan and a Mini-Automoblox sedan from Great G&G for Easter. He is entranced with them and spent several days carrying the Automoblox brochure with him everywhere, perusing at his leisure and pointing out to me which Automoblox he has his eye on! We had a rousing Automoblox race in the hallway, which was won by the minivan. If only my minivan could move like that!
And, in more play silk fun, here are Cameron and a buddy in a nail-biting superhero drama!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April Fool's Day!

Cameron and I, we are TRICKY! Tonight, we TOTALLY fooled Daddy with a carefully prepared meal of grilled cheese, peas and carrots. So, here is the funny part: the grilled cheese was really grilled pound cake with orange frosting and the peas and carrots were made from Starburst candies! Oh, man, we laughed and laughed as we arranged his plate!When Daddy sat down to eat, Cameron slyly gave me a big wink. We could hardly contain our giggles as Daddy took a bite and . . . "WHOA! That's not grilled cheese!"
Cameron also came up with a prank all on his own. He took a small cardboard box, put it inside a big cardboard box and sealed it up with packing tape. We casually left it on the table and mentioned that a package had arrived that afternoon. Naturally, Daddy was excited and wondered what was in the package. When he opened the box and found nothing but another empty box, Cameron gave me a big thumbs up, shown below, and shouted "April Fool's!"
Wow. Sometimes we are so clever, we scare ourselves.