Thursday, July 31, 2008

Beastie Boys meet Veggie Tales

We've always attempted to avoid the Wiggles, instead listening to more progressive kids' music like They Might Be Giants. But after the CD player in my car died, we were forced on beyond even that to grown-up music. As a result, Cameron's favorite songs are a little, well, mature for his years. He has repeatedly told us that his favorite song is "I Want to Make You Move," better known as "Paralyzer" by Finger Eleven. "It's so, so awesome," according to Cam. Today he told me that his second favorite song is "Toe Broccolay."

"Toe broccoli?" I asked.

"NO! Toe Brocco-LAY!" he answered. "It goes like this, 'NO SLEEP TOE BROCCO-LAY!'"

That's his name, don't wear it out (Part Two)

You just can't escape the political ads these days. You turn on the radio, you watch some TV or you answer your phone and, inevitably, you hear about the candidates. Even Cameron has been following the campaign. Actually, he has been for a while. And yesterday, he announced his support for one of the candidates.

Cameron: You know what Mommy? I hope that John McCain isn't our president. 'Cause I kind of don't like the way he looks. But I do like the way Obama looks. I like him. I hope Obama is our president.

Me: Oh really? Is it just because of the way he looks?

Cameron: Well, I like the way he looks and other stuff. And he's a boy. And, well, I just like Ba-lack Obama.

Yep, that's Ba-lack Obama. Pronounced like "black" but drawn out. Seems that the on-air discussions of the candidates and race got a bit jumbled in Cameron's mind!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Plot Spoiler

OK, if you've been dying to see "High School Musical" and you don't want the plot given away ('cause it's a real cliffhanger!), STOP reading here!

Once in a while, after Matthew is asleep, David and I treat Cameron to a "movie night." This usually involves popcorn and a Disney DVD. Last night, we watched "High School Musical," as everyone with a preschooler to junior high kid had raved to me about it. Cameron was enthralled. Dancing basketball players! How cool is that! Today, as Cameron often does, he felt the need to rehash the experience. It went like this:

Cameron: Mommy? Let's talk about that movie last night. Remember how Troy said he'd forget about Gabriella? But he really didn't? But she heard him? And then she was singing? And her heart was empty.

Mommy: Yes, I remember.

Cameron: Yeah. That was bad.


OK, I'll admit it. My children don't eat only organic produce. In fact, I have once in a blue moon microwaved a hotdog for Cameron's lunch. And their toys? Some of them are . . . plastic. Worse than that, today I let Matthew play with a gun.

Friday, July 25, 2008

No Fear

Matthew, it is becoming apparent, is a bit of a daredevil. From the beginning, he has been observant, inquisitive and, above all, anxious to try out every new skill within reach. (He has also been anxious to try out every bit of mulch, lint and dirt within reach. Part of his adventurous nature, I suppose.) Yesterday, Cameron called to me from the play room. "Mommy! Look at what Matthew learned how to do now!" This was not what I was expecting.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

You are dismissed

Yesterday was a beautiful, mild summer day -- just perfect for a visit to the park. While David and Cameron played tag, Matthew and I hung out on the grass. Matthew put this time to good use, practicing his latest feat: walking! He toddled unsteadily and laughed when he fell in the grass. When he tired of walking, he resorted to his patented Knee-free Crawl as the grass felt funny on his knees. He was so adorable that he soon attracted the attention of a family. The mom, dad and two kids came over to admire him. (He really is soooo cute!) Matthew obliged them with his three-tooth grin. After a few minutes, the family said good-bye and attempted to coerce Matthew into waving bye-bye. Finally, Matthew lifted a hand into the air nonchalantly, thrilling his admirers. Casually but with an air of finality he declared "Ahhh daaa." That's "all done" for those who don't speak Matthewese!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Baking bliss

When I was a kid, I remember the sheer joy of licking the bowl when my mom made brownies, the delicious delight of eating frosting right off the beaters. At some point, thanks to the risks of raw egg consumption, this practice became taboo. Poor Cameron had never experienced this childhood pleasure until now. You see, thanks to Matthew's multiple food allergies, I am becoming a whiz at alternate baking strategies. The other day, I made Frosted Maple Drop cookies, using a mix of vegetable oil, baking powder and water to substitute for egg and Earth's Balance spread to substitute for butter. The results, both baked and unbaked, were delectable.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Uh, yeah.

This weekend, I took the boys to a park and later to the pool with a friend and her two boys. After hearing the same question repeatedly throughout the day, the friend said, "I can't believe how many people have asked you if Matthew is adopted!" Yes, it's true -- each and every day someone says one of the following:

"Your baby is beautiful! Is he adopted?"
"Your baby is beautiful! Is she adopted?"
"Did you adopt him?"
"Did you adopt her?"

or, the always classy,

"Is that a little adopted child?"

In case you have forgotten, I'll just remind you of what we all look like:

Typically, I smile and say, "Yes, he's ours through adoption!" Depending on the tone of the question and my mood, however, I do sometimes fantasize about other retorts including a puzzled, "Why?" or a glance to each child followed by, "Which one?" Can you imagine their faces? (No, I've never done it. I'm far too polite.)

In general, I don't mind the question too much, unless it is followed with prying ("Did his mom have other kids?"), platitudes ("Isn't he lucky!") or stereotypes ("Was his mom really young?") I'm still on the search for a nice way to say, "None of your business."

Sometimes, the question is asked by someone who, it turns out, is in the midst of the adoption process. I love these questions because it is always nice to talk about adoption with someone who is actually looking for answers, not just satisfying their curiosity. At the pool, I was approached by a potential adopter. She swam up, a little sunburned face and wet red hair, and gave the customary introduction, "Did you adopt him?"

"Yes," I replied. (Yep, went for the simplest answer.)

"I'm going to adopt someday," she said. But then, this, "Maybe even a black kid. I like black kids."

I couldn't get too bent out of shape -- she was about eight years old. It actually reminded me of my sister, Stephanie, throwing a tantrum when we went to visit my mom and new baby brother in the hospital. This was back in the day of shared rooms and my mom's roommate happened to be African American. "I want the black baby, I want the black baby!" Stephanie screamed. And, no, we didn't get to take the black baby home. We got stuck with Zack.

Oh, well. He's not too bad.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Kids Weigh In on the Clash

Matthew recently learned to say "Go!" It's a useful word, right up there with "Bah!"

Today, the radio was on and I heard Cameron shouting "Stay! Stay!" As we do not own a dog, I was mystified and went to investigate. I found the boys listening to the Clash's "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" Each time Matthew heard the word "go," his face would light up with a wide grin and he'd repeat "Go! Go!" To which Cameron would reply, "Stay!"

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Cutie curls

LOOK how cute Matthew's hair is! So, here's something you may not have thought about: When you adopt transracially, you don't know how to take care of your own child's hair. We have experimented for 11 months with different hair products. Today, a friend who has also adopted an African American child let us try out her hair products on Matthew. And they worked! Look at those gorgeous little corkscrew curls! So, do you want to know how many products it takes to maintain this look? FIVE. That's right, five hair products for one little boy! I don't think I've EVER owned five hair products at the same time for my hair!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Take that!

Matthew is a real brute. Poor little Cameron doesn't stand a chance when Matthew decides it is time to wrestle.

Fortunately, Cameron is a fairly patient and tolerant big brother!

The one, the only, the BAHHH!

Matthew has suddenly grasped that sounds can be used for communication and he is doing his darnedest to communicate. All done (AHHH DA!), Ready, set, go! (SSSSSEH GA!) and old standbys like hi and Daddy are a part of his repetoire now. But yesterday he learned a word that has him fascinated.

We were at Cameron's soccer practice and Matthew couldn't take his eyes off the round black and white sphere that everyone was so intent upon kicking. "Matthew, that's a ball. Can you say ball?" I said in that rhetorical way we parents do. To my surprise he replied, "BAHHH! BAH!" I showed him the sign for ball and he spent the rest of soccer practice signing ball and repeating over and over "BAHH!" When we got home, he crawled straight to his basket of toys and triumphantly held up a ball. "BAHHH! BAH! BAH!" he shouted. And he kept at it. All. Day. Long.

He seems convinced that he needs to enlighten us all on his new discovery. Can't we see the perfect symmetry of this object? Do we not grasp the multiplicity of uses for this BAH? Licking, gumming, rolling, throwing? We clearly do not have a proper understanding of the BAH or we would never put it down. Here, he tries again, patiently repeating "BAH," holding the fantastical find in one hand and gesturing encouragingly with the other. "Come! See it! It's a BAH!"

What's in the fish bowl?

Everybody wonders, "What is in this fish bowl?" You see the fish, swimming so merrily about the bowl, but then you look in and . . . nothing! It's a mystery! A mystery that we've been trying to solve for four years.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Warning: Moping and Self Pity Follow

I am recovering from a Really Bad Day. It started off well enough and even seemed to be looking up when we received an invitation to a new friend's house. The rapid decline began on the drive to the new friend's house. You see, I am seriously directionally impaired.

After arriving embarassingly late at the friend's house due to my creative "detour," Cameron had a lovely time playing with his friend. They spent a couple of hours splashing in the inflatable pool, complete with waterslide and water cannon. Cameron was so filled with excitement that he was having a bit of difficulty with listening and I reprimanded him for this. Feeling powerless, he vented his frustration with me particularly demonstratively. More specifically, he soaked me with the water cannon. Much wailing and screaming ensued, as I hauled him to the car while apologizing, yet again, to the new (and hopefully not former) friend.

On the drive home, we discussed the fiasco. I attempted to impress upon Cameron that when he is well-behaved, Mommy is nice and he is happy. When he doesn't behave, Mommy gives him a consequence and he is unhappy. Thus, good behavior is in his own best interest. I thought I was really making my point until this conversation took place.

Mommy: How did you feel when you behaved in the car?
Cameron: Good!
Mommy: I was so proud of your good behavior when we were lost, right?
Cameron: Right! I was SO good!
Mommy: You got it! You behaved, and I was proud of you, and you felt happy! How did you feel when you didn't listen?
Cameron: Bad, because you were mean to me and made me get off the slide.
Mommy: Right. So, you didn't behave and you got a consequence, and you felt bad. How did you feel when you squirted me with the water cannon?
Cameron: I felt good!

Shopping List:

Map for car
Parenting for Dummies

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Definition of a Man

This weekend, Grandpa Frank and Grandma Linda paid us a visit. It was fantastic to see them and to have four extra hands for holding babies, playing Connect Four and picking up Cheerios from the floor. Cameron, as always, wanted to spend ALL of his time with Grandpa Frank. We also attempted to run several errands and complete various projects around the house. Each time Grandpa and Daddy were planning a project or heading for the car, Cameron wanted to tag along. "MEN ONLY!" he bellowed. "This is a MEN ONLY trip." When Grandma asked if Matthew was invited, Cameron haughtily pronounced, "Matthew is a BABY. Men can TALK."

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Preparation cHoo-choo

Cameron and I used to spend hours playing with his train set. From age 2 years on, he was obsessed with trains and especially Thomas and Friends. My usual job was to "talk a good story" as he acted it out with his trains. Then, suddenly, at age four, Cameron decided that trains were for babies and banished his set to the basement.

Today, for reasons beyond my grasp, he decided that trains are NOT for babies and he wanted to play with his old set. We dragged them up from the basement and constructed an amazing track. But whatever story I told was not up to par. Finally I said, "Cameron, I don't understand why none of my stories are good enough."

"Well," he replied, "there are just some things that I know more about than you, Mommy."

So, I left him to his own devices. I was playing with Matthew when I overheard this story.
James: How are you Duncan?
Duncan: I'm okay. I had surgery.
James: Oh. Why did you have surgery?
Duncan: I just needed some surgery on my bottom.
James: Oh, that's too bad.
Let me make clear that no one in our family has had or has been discussing "bottom surgery." I have no idea where this story line came from. And how old are James and Duncan anyways? I mean, seems like they must be getting up there in train years if they require such intervention. And, wow, I didn't realize that they were such good friends that Duncan would just nonchalantly mention his bottom surgery! Maybe Duncan is just one of those trains who doesn't have appropriate personal boundaries.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The artist at work

Today, I filled the bathtub preemptively, stripped Matthew down to his diaper and set him loose with some fingerpaints. He was hesitant at first. What's this? Feels squishy. Do I eat it?He began with some traditional fingerpainting. But soon, feeling liberated, he decided to experiment with some new techniques.

He was quite pleased with his work. Less pleased with his bath.

Perfectly good

David and I believe in thrift. Why buy a new couch when we have the perfectly good one we got from my mom, who got it from my grandma, who bought it brand new when I was five years old?!?! And why should Cameron have an Xbox when we have David's perfectly good Atari from 1982? I mean, if playing Berzerk with a joystick was good enough for David, it's good enough for our kids!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Matthew on the move

Matthew loves to go to the swim club, but he is usually snug in a sling so I can keep a hold of him while also supervising Cameron. This evening, the whole family headed to the pool to watch Cameron's swim lessons. For the first time, we let Matthew roam free on deck. After a few experimental scoots, he decided that the concrete was too rough for his delicate knees. Yet, the pool was so alluring . . . finally, he elected to crawl with his knees off the ground!

Boo boos and bacon

As usual, Aunt Beth knows exactly what a four-year-old (excuse me, four and a half year old) boy is thrilled by. When Cameron saw the envelope with his name on it, he could hardly contain his exuberance. When he opened it to find a bunch of fun surprises including bacon and egg Band-aids? Well, that kid found himself a boo boo that needed a Band-aid pronto! We recently learned that Matthew has multiple food allergies, including to egg, so Cameron made sure that the egg Band-aids were out of Matthew's reach. "We don't want him to have an allergic reaction, right Mommy?"

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Don't jump to conclusions

Cameron: Okay, I'm a superhero and you and Matthew are bad guys. What are your names?
Me: My name is Richter.
Cameron: Oooh, that's a good one. Richter. And what's Matthew's name?
Me: Seismic. Yeah, he's my bad guy sidekick Seismic.
Cameron: Okay, good, good. And what's your superpower.
Me: Earthquake power.
Cameron: Nah, that's no good. Oooh, I've got it! You can shoot lasers!