Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Still No.

Matthew:  Can I have some candy?
Me:  No.
Matthew.  But . . . can I have some candy because . . . I'm really hot.
Me:  No.
Cameron:  Well then, can I have some candy because I'm not really hot?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Nuns and Nunchucks

When Cameron opened his Christmas gift from his Grandma and Grandpa (David's parents), he found this book.  Under the book was a game for the Wii.  "What's this?" Cameron asked, showing the stack to David.  David grabbed the book with the game underneath, quickly flipping the book over to look at the back -- which happened to be the back of the Wii game.

"Ohhhh," said David, confused.  "This is a game for the Wii.  About going to church."

Both Cameron and David looked relieved when I separated the two gifts and explained that "The Mass for Children" was actually a book and the Wii game was about the circus.

You gotta wonder why there isn't a "Mass for Children" Wii game though.  It could be a bunch of mini games to teach kids about how to behave at church.  "Press B!  Press B, Cameron!" I'd yell from the couch.  "Sign of Peace!"  Or they could make it compatible with the Wii Fit balance board and have games like, "How Long Can You Kneel?" and "Walk Up for Eucharist Without Stepping on the Heels of the Person in Front of You." 

I can just imagine the shouts of excitement.  "Mommy!  I made it to Expert level on "Opening the Missalette to the Correct Page!" 

You're welcome, Mo Willems.

If my family's Christmas spending is any indication, Mo Willems is a very wealthy man.  Not only did Matthew get his very own Knuffle Bunny, we also pretty much doubled our Mo Willems' book collection.  My new favorite is "Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed," while Matthew is partial to "Leonardo the Terrible Monster."

And I'm pretty sure that LEGO was already doing okay financially, but we paid our dues there as well.

No, not really.

On Christmas Eve, Cameron was reciting the gifts that the Wise Men brought to baby Jesus.  "One was gold.  And myrrh.  And the other was frank . . . frankin . . . frankincense."

On a whim, I joked, "Do you know what Grandpa Frank's full name is?"

"What?" asked Cameron.

"Frankincense," I replied.

Cameron was not fooled but David turned to me, his eyes wide with surprise.  "Really?" he said, "I didn't know that!"

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Santa at Seven

When I put Cameron to bed on Christmas Eve, I told him that our rule is that we don't get up until 7am on Christmas.  This was the rule when I was growing up and at the time I thought it was terribly unfair.  7am!!!  How in the world were we supposed to wait until SEVEN to see if Santa came?!?!  One year, when my sister Stephanie and I shared a room, we woke up well before 7am.  We stood on one side of our bedroom and watched the minutes tick by on the clock.  Each time one minute passed, we took one step towards the door until -- FINALLY! -- the clock read seven and we burst out of the bedroom to wake our lazy parents.

Now that I'm a grown-up, the 7am rule seems quite logical to me. Cameron, it turns out, felt differently about it.  I showed him the clock in his room.  "If you wake up," I told him, "look at this clock before you come wake me up.  You can only wake me up if the first number say 7."

At 2:38am, I woke to see Cameron standing next to me with a huge smile on his face.  "It's seven, Mommy!"

"No, Cameron.  It is 2 in the morning.  Go back to bed."

At 4:30am, he was back and I again sent him back to bed.  At 5:15am, when he insisted that his clock said it was 7am, I told him not to come out of his room until I came and got him.

When, at 7am exactly, I went to get him, he showed me his clock.  "See?" he said.  "I told you!  Every time I woke up, the clock said it was 7!"  It's one of those fancy clocks that also has a thermostat on it and, as it turns out, the temperature was 70 degrees.

Despite my exhaustion, it was a lovely Christmas.  Santa came through for each of the boys, somehow intuiting exactly which Lego set Cameron hoped to receive.  This was his face when he tore of the wrapping paper and saw Lego Space Police Freeze Ray Frenzy.

And Matthew, of course, received his beloved Knuffle Bunny.

I hope that all of you are enjoying your holidays as well!  I'm off to build a Lego set!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

All About Mii

We recently received a very generous and unexpected gift -- a Wii Fit.  The boys especially are thrilled, despite our rule that the Wii is only played (by the boys -- shhh!) on the weekends.  When you start playing the Wii, you create a Mii -- a character that has your name and looks like you.  During a game -- be it biking or hula hooping -- you see the other Mii characters on the sidelines or competing with you.  This has provided endless entertainment for the boys.

- Unbeknownst to me, Cameron created a Mii that looks like his best friend from school -- I'll call him Calvin.  Now, when the boys are playing the Wii, I often hear them shout, "There's Calvin!" or "Whoa, Calvin just passed me.  He's a really fast runner!"

- Bolstered by his success, Cameron went on to create another Mii -- a girl with pigtails.  "Who is that?" I asked.  "Oh," he replied, "that's Grandma Linda.  When she was a girl."

- The other day, the boys asked me to do a biking challenge.  As I was pedaling along, steering with my Wii remote, I passed Matthew's Mii.  The real Matthew turned to me accusingly and said, "Hey!  Why didn't you wave at me, Mama?"

- In games with lots of characters, the Wii provides random Mii's and the cast is pretty diverse.  In games with fewer characters, the Mii roles are filled exclusively by the Mii's your family has created.  One day, Cameron was doing a Kung Fu class.  The extra characters were me, David, Calvin and Grandma Linda girl.  Part way through the class, Cameron stopped and turned to me with a look of disgust on his face.  "Hey!" he shouted.  "Why are all the people in this class WHITE?!?"  As a result, I am working on creating Mii's of our African American friends!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Guys and Dolls

My boys have always had baby dolls.  I never really thought much of it until a couple of weeks ago.  Matthew and I were watching Cameron at TaeKwanDo and Matthew was holding Payo, one of his dolls.  Another mom leaned over and said, "That's so cute.  I was going to get my little boy a doll but my husband was like, 'No way is my son playing with dolls!'"  I thought that that type of sentiment had gone out of style in, oh, say, the 70's, so I was a bit surprised. 

Later, I was telling a friend about this encounter and she said, "You bought dolls for your boys?  Why?"

Why?  Why not?  Kids like to play with baby dolls, right?

Soon I was asking every mom of boys I know and finding out that, unbeknownst to me, I am a bit of a renegade for giving my boys dolls.  The common response seems to be, "Well, if he was interested in dolls maybe I'd get him one, but he's never expressed an interest."

But, see, Matthew hadn't really expressed an interest in dolls or anything else at his first Christmas and he still got this:

And the next Christmas he didn't ask for a doll, either, but it turns out that he loves Payo.

This year is going to be a little different though, as Matthew has clearly expressed his desire for Santa to bring a Knuffle Bunny.  But I think Payo and K.B. are gonna be pretty tight.  Because whether or not he ever expressed an interest, Matthew is a boy who loves his babies.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Who's Dat?

Matthew is still fascinated by his "Family Book."  We stopped by the adoption agency the other day and he had it with him.  I chatted with a social worker briefly, handed off some stuff for J. and started gathering the boys to leave.  "I have dis," announced Matthew, holding his book out to the social worker. 

"Oh," she said kindly, "how nice!"  We flipped through a few pages, and pointed out photos of interest. 

I pointed to a photo of J.  "Who's this?" I said to Matthew.  He peered up at the social worker through his eyelashes, smiling shyly.  We waited a few seconds, then said our goodbyes. 

As we walked out, Matthew turned and shouted, with a big smile on his face, "That's J!"

The only person Matthew appears to have any difficulty in recognizing in the book is . . . me!  As we looked through the book a few days ago, he pointed out the people in this photo:

"Dat's Maffew," he said.  "And dat's Didi kissing Maffew.  And dat's . . . Grandma Linda!"

"No, Matthew," I said, "that's mama!"

He looked at me suspiciously and then replied slowly, "Nooooo.  Dat's Grandma Linda."

A few pages later we reached this photo, from the finalization in court.  "Der's Maffew with Daddy!" he cried, pointing.  "And dat's the judge!  And Didi!  Oh, and Auntie Stephanie is dere, too!"

Oh well, it's close enough.

Dear Santa, Please Bring Me a Dictionary

Me:  Okay boys.  Daddy isn't going to be home before bedtime, so I'm really going to need your cooperation tonight.

Matthew:  What?  What's ka-nop-er-ation?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Enjoying the Weather

Snow.  It's cold.  It's wet.  And when you have two little boys, it's FUN!

Friday, December 18, 2009

We Couldn't Have That

This cold weather is a real drag.  I've been trying to remember how to keep kids busy when it is too cold to play outside and little by little it's coming back to me.  The biggest challenge is finding activities that interest both boys.  To that end, we've been doing LOTS of science experiments and art projects.  And from time to time, I choose an activity that I think will be fun for Cameron and then I spend an hour trying to keep Matthew away from said activity.  Shrinky Dinks, Perler beads and number mazes fall into this category. 

Most recently, I bought Cameron a beginner's needlepoint kit.  He was surprisingly enthusiastic about it and has spent quite a bit of time working on it over the past few days. 

Yesterday, I pulled out the beginner's needlepoint that I made when I was about his age.  "Ooooh!" he admired.  "You did a good job mommy!"  He flipped the frame over, where it is obvious that instead of threading the yarn under the stitches to secure it, I tied big knots.  Hey, it was a BEGINNER kit, okay? 

He didn't say anything but later, when it was time to end the blue yarn and start a new color he said, "Mommy?  Can you make sure that you do it right?  And cut the extra yarn really short so the end isn't sticking out.  Because when I have kids, I don't want them to look at this and think, 'Boy, Daddy didn't do a very good job on his needlepoint!'"

Thursday, December 17, 2009

He did not learn this from me.

This morning, Matthew spilled a bowl of dry cereal on the floor.  "Uh-oh!" he cried.  "I spill da ce-we-al!  Dat's okay, I clean it up!"  And to my amazement, he went and got his broom and dustpan.  (Yes, we have child size cleaning tools, purchased when I optimistically imagined my children cheerily cleaning up their own messes.)

"Thank you, Matthew!" I said.  "I like it when you clean up your mess!"

"You welcome," he replied and he efficiently swept all the spilled cereal under the fridge.  "All done!"

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Matthew's Favorite Book

For two years now, I've been planning to make Matthew a book of his adoption story.  I delayed and delayed, searching for just the right words, just the right pictures.  And then, a couple of weeks ago, I just decided to do it.  And I did.  All of a sudden, I knew what I wanted the book to say and I wrote it and ordered it! 

Yesterday, the finished product arrived in the mail.  Matthew and I sat down together on the couch to read it and he was fascinated.  He pointed to each picture, asking "Who's dat?" and delighting when the answer was "Baby Matthew!" 

When Cameron got home from school, Matthew hurried to get the book and show it to him.  "Family book," he explained.  "It about baby Matthew.  And it about J."  And it is -- it is the story of Matthew's birth, his adoption and his families. 

At bedtime, Matthew asked me to read "the J. book" and, when I finished, asked me to read it again. 

This morning, Matthew got the book down off the shelf, called for Cameron, and then both boys sat on my lap while I read the book.  This time, Matthew imitated himself in each photo.  "I looking at Daddy like this," he said, dropping his mouth open and staring up just like baby Matthew was doing in the photo.  "I sleeping, like this," he said, closing his eyes just like baby Matthew did. 

Cameron was also interested, excitedly saying, "I remember that!" as he looked at the photos of meeting Matthew at the hospital, bringing him home and going to court.  We read the book three times in a row. And I can't wait to read it again tonight!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

And a Pony

Matthew's response to Santa in past years has ranged from complete indifference

 to sheer terror. 

This year, Matthew marched right up to Santa.  "And what do you want for Christmas, little boy?"

"I wanna Knuffle Bunny and a Lego set," Matthew answered with confidence.

"And how about you?" Santa asked Cameron. 

In line, Cameron had been overcome with nervousness.  "Help me remember what to say, Mommy," he had whispered to me, as he rehearsed.  "A Lego set.  The Empire Strikes Back movie.  A robot starter kit.  OK.  A Lego set.  The Empire Strikes Back.  Robot starter kit."  Now, faced with Santa himself, Cameron took a deep breath and went for it.  "I would like TWO Lego sets.  And The Empire Strikes Back.  And a robot kit."

Apparently Cameron is hoping that the big guy decides to break the "three presents from Santa" rule.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Obvious Solution

"Me and Colin are going to make a time machine," Cameron announced.

"Really?"  I replied.  "What time do you want to go to first?"

"2007," he answered promptly.

2007? I thought, mystified.  "Why 2007?"

"Well, remember that old Lego magazine that Grandpa gave me?"


"It was in 2007.  And it said that in 2007 they were putting solid gold C3PO Lego minifigures in Lego boxes!  So we're going to go back to 2007 and try to find one of them.  Oh! And can you come with us?  Because I think it might be a good idea to have a grown-up along."

I suppose I could tell the kid about EBay, but why ruin his fun?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I Love This American Life (or, "Ira Glass, Why Don't You Love Me?")

So, I recently learned that there is a blog called Letters to Ira Glass and This American Life acknowledged it on their Facebook page.  And I was all, "Whhaaaat?" because I sent Ira a short little note about how much I love TAL and what did I get in return?  Nothing.  That's right!  Nothing!  I mean, it makes no sense.  So I'm thinking, is blogging the only way to get TAL's attention?  Fine, Ira.  If you need me to publicly declare my adoration of TAL, I will.

But first, a brief note to my readers.  The following is not a story about Matthew or Cameron, or about my parenting foibles. If that's what you're looking for, check back later.  I've got plenty of foibles to share. 

Next, allow me to explain that I have taken what writers refer to as "liberties" in the following piece.  I've used such literary devices as sarcasm and exaggeration.  So, please.  There is no need to leave me a comment saying, "I am appalled that you would compare your love of TAL to being a Creative Memories consultant.  I am a Creative Memories consultant and you clearly have no appreciation of the importance of preserving memories or of color-coordinated sticker and paper packs!"  Unless you happen to be Ira Glass and you are also a Creative Memories consultant.  In which case, Ira, I'd like to host a scrapbooking party. 'Cause I was totally just joking.  I love acid-free stickers.

So, without further ado, my tribute to TAL.


This must be what it is like to be a born-again Christian. Or a Creative Memories consultant. You’ve found something so amazing – you know, eternal salvation, or acid-free stickers – and it’s so life-changing that you want everyone else to know about it. And it’s frustrating. It’s so frustrating when you can’t get people to listen. When you explain and people are still just like, “I don’t believe in organized religion,” or “I keep my photos in a shoe box.”

For me, it’s This American Life. I’m constantly trying to recruit friends and family, even strangers, to listen, largely unsuccessfully. “It’s on Chicago Public Radio,” I say. “Or you can download the podcast on iTunes!” It’s so easy to work it into a conversation. You know, somebody is talking about how crappy the economy is and I casually say, “I know. Speaking of, you should totally listen to TAL Episode 355: ‘The Giant Pool of Money.’” Or I’m at the park, chatting with another mom? And the kids are playing on the swings. And maybe one of them points out a squirrel in a nearby tree? And I say, “Yes sweetie, it’s a squirrel.” And then naturally I ask the other mom if she’s by chance heard TAL Episode 115, Act Two: ‘Squirrel Cop?’ And that, of course, makes me think of TAL Episode 319: ‘The Call Was Coming From the Basement.’ Specifically Act One in which a woman is on a walk near her house and is attacked by a rabid raccoon? “Have you heard that one?” I say. And I just can’t figure out why, why this mom is in such a rush to get her kids to the car before I can even give her the web site so she can listen to “Squirrel Cop” online.

I’ve given a lot of thought to where I’m going wrong. My husband suggests, gently, that I might come on too strong. Which is just so wrong because I am totally right. How can you come on too strong when you are speaking the truth? I mean, maybe he’d have a point if I was trying to convince people to host a Pampered Chef Party or something. But I’m not – this is serious. I am trying to get these people to tune in to the greatest radio show EVER. See the light, people!

OK, I’ll agree that perhaps my approach could use some fine tuning. Some finesse. So, confessing to my mother-in-law that I am maybe a teensy-weensy bit in love with Ira Glass wasn’t the right tactic to endear her to TAL. Lesson learned!

And I suppose it is possible that my friends talk behind my back about my . . . I hesitate to use the word obsession . . . enthusiasm for the Starlee Kine ‘Break-up’ episode and my subsequent fantasy in which Starlee and I become an adorable Laverne and Shirley-esque duo. Which is crazy, I know, because both Starlee and I are more Shirley than Laverne. Can you be an adorable duo if you’re both Shirley? But talk about crazy -- I mean, of course Starlee and I would make a super adorable duo! We don’t need a Laverne! And if my friends don’t get that? Well, their loss. I mean, honestly, I don’t think Starlee would be all that interesting in their endless gabbing about Desperate Housewives either.

And timing . . . I’m starting to appreciate the importance of timing. Because my uncle? He seemed a little irritated when I interrupted his Christmas Eve blessing to mention that when he was all “give us the strength, dear Jesus, to resist Satan’s temptations” that it totally made me think of the TAL classic, ‘SantaLand Diaries,’ where David Sedaris points out that Santa is an anagram of Satan. But, to be truthful, I don’t think my uncle is really sophisticated enough to appreciate David Sedaris. He’s more of a Rush Limbaugh kind of guy and went all “liberal media conspiracy” on me when he realized that I was quoting a gay man from public radio.

That’s okay. I’m not alone, and that gives me comfort. There are other true believers out there. I know this. I mean, Ira Glass himself was the one who said, “By popular demand, This American Life returns to the big screen for an ENCORE presentation on Thursday, May 7th.” That’s right. Popular. And I am part of the popular crowd.

So, when I score a ticket to see This American Life ENCORE I revel in the knowledge that I will be surrounded by people just like me. People who get Ira. Well, not like I do. It’s clear that Ira and I have something special. But people who know that Dan Savage isn’t just that s*x columnist guy. People who wonder, as the end of each episode nears, what Our Boss Mister Torey Malatia is going to say this time. My people.

At the theatre, I hand my ticket to a freckled teenager. “What movie are you seeing?” he asks, despite the fact that it is printed on the ticket that he is fumbling to tear.

“This American Life.”

“Whaattt? I’ve never even heard of that. Who’s in it?” he says.

Since I’m pretty sure Ira, Starlee and Dan’s names aren’t going to ring any bells for this poor kid, I think back to my failed recruitment efforts and decide that education is my best bet. Patiently, I begin. “Well, it’s on public radio and they did a live show. And it’s being shown in movie theatres . . .”

But before I can even begin to evangelize him, he gives a bored, “Yeah, I have noooo idea what you’re talking about,” and hands me my ticket stub. “Theatre 16, all the way at the end on your right.”
What can I do? I walk toward Theatre 16. And I sit down with eleven other TAL fans. And I blush at how cute Ira is in those glasses. And I am filled with anger and anxiety as Mike Birbiglia describes the drunk driver who hit him and the incompetent cop who filed the police report. And Starlee, oh Starlee . . . how I laughed when she described the group therapy where she used a Wiffle bat to beat a pillow representing her mother! And I’m not so alone any more. I’m invigorated, refreshed, renewed. And when I leave the theatre, I stop the bewildered ticket taker because I’m just sure that I’m going to get it right this time. “So, listen, there’s this TAL episode . . .”

Monday, December 7, 2009

"Oh the weather outside is frightful . . .

But the toys are soooo delightful."

After an unseasonably warm November, cold December has hit us hard.  Instead of playing on the swingset or riding bikes, we're suddenly inside and trying to find a way to keep two active little boys busy.  We've read books, cut out paper snowflakes, baked cranberry bread and, of course, watched football.

Luckily, great-grandma and great-grandpa have also delighted the boys with a few packages in the mail.  Remember how thrilling it is when you are a kid and there is something in the mailbox with YOUR name on it?  It's even better when it's got your name on it and it's a set of "hawkie-tawkies" as Matthew calls these.

Cameron received an electric set with ONE HUNDRED projects in it.  After David taught him how to follow the instructions, he went to town and is now saying things like, "Mommy?  Could you hand me that toggle switch?"  I have no doubt that he'll finish the one hundred projects many times over before the end of winter.

And we've started a new tradition.  Each night we set up a course in our hallway and play a few rounds of Fun Golf.  Cameron and I are on the "Circus Seals" team and Daddy and Matthew have chosen the moniker "Da Magnificents."  Cameron keeps score and it sounds something like this.  "OK, that took me five strokes.  So that means we get . . . six thousand points.  And Matthew took fifteen strokes, so he gets zero."  We've also scored "infinity" several times and, in case you didn't know, you win Fun Golf by getting the most points.

Once in a while, if we're feeling really crazy, we bundle up and actually go outside.  But only if we are feeling really stir crazy and we make a nice big batch of Matthew-safe hot cocoa first!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Chaos wins again

Matthew is a football fanatic.  This morning, he was watching the last few minutes of the Texas-Nebraska game which we had recorded for him.  "With one minute and forty-four seconds left," said the commentator, "chaos reigns!"
"Mama!" Matthew shouted, "Chaos just got four!"

Truth in Advertising

Cameron spends hour upon hour reviewing the Lego catalog.  He can easily tell you the names of the different models, which mini-figures they come with and which new models are coming in 2010.  He does, however, seem oblivious to price.  Frequently I have had to tell him, "No, Cameron, I don't think you'll be getting the Power Miners Rock Crushing Battle Droid Driller of Death.  Why?  Because it cost $199.99."

The other day a new Lego catalog arrived in the mail.  On the cover it said, "Purchases over $100 SHIP FREE!"  "Look at this!!!" Cameron gasped.

"Oh, right.  Free shipping," I answered.

Cameron began frantically flipping through the catalog.  "Okay.  I'm going to get this.  And this.  And this.  Can we order it now?"


"It says 'Offer ends December 14,' so we better order it all now!" said Cameron.  "Oooh, and I'm going to get this . . . "

"Um, Cameron?  We're not getting any of those."

"WHAATTT?  Why not?  They're FREE!" he responded.  "And they even ship them to you!"

He was deeply disappointed when I explained that "ships free" meant that ONLY the shipping was free.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The First Question

I don't write directly about adoption here very frequently.  Although it is a constant in our lives, much of our daily life has nothing to do with adoption.  Drinking aftershave, shoving raisins up your nose, getting cr8ive with the markers. . . that's kid stuff, not adoption stuff!  Plus, we consider alot of our "adoption stuff" private stuff, so we don't share it here. 

But, it also occurs to me that many of my readers (Three regulars -- hi mom! -- and at least two Google searches gone wrong a day! Go me!) don't know much about adoption.  Like this:  I am Matthew's mom.  Matthew also has another mom.  I am totally okay with this.  I want Matthew to know and love his other mom, too.  So we try, reaaaallllyyyy hard, to show that to Matthew.  We talk openly about his adoption and about his first family, we answer questions from Cameron and other inquisitive preschoolers, we wait for the questions from Matthew. We have lots of role models and co-conspirators, from our real-life friends in our transracial adoption group to open adoption bloggers like Dawn.

For quite a while now, Matthew has been able to tell you whose belly he grew in -- J's.  And he's been able to say that J. is his birth mama.  But that's about it.  No questions.  After all, he's two!
Then, a few weeks ago, I was rushing around the house.  "Matthew," I said, "we need to hurry!  Let's get your shoes on!  If we leave right now, we can drop off a letter for J. before we pick Cameron up from school!"  We hurried into the car and drove to the adoption agency.  Our adoption is currently semi-open, and we send letters and photos to Matthew's birth mom, J., through the adoption agency.  We pulled into the parking lot and I unbuckled Matthew.  "Look Matthew!  Here's the letter for J.!  Let's go drop it off!" I said.

We went inside, chatted briefly with the staff and then hustled back to the car to go get Cameron.  As we drove off, Matthew's voice came from the backseat.  "Where's the other mama?" he said.


"Where's the OTHER mama?" he repeated.

"Ohhh!  You mean your other mama, J.?" I asked.  Slowly, I realized that when I was saying we were going to drop off a letter for J., Matthew must have been imagining that we'd be handing the letter directly to J.  It was the first time that I actually thought that Matthew understood that J. is a real person, not just a story we tell.

"Yeah, the other mama.  I want the other mama."

"I know, Matthew.  I know you want the other mama.  I'm sorry that you didn't get to see J.  She doesn't live here.  But J. is going to get our letter. She likes to hear about you, Matthew.  And she likes to see pictures of you.  Because she loves you so much."

"Yeah.  I want the other mama.  Oh!  And I want the Didi.  Go get Didi?"

"Yep.  Let's go get Didi."

So, Matthew's first question about adoption ends as quickly as it begins.  And we keep on talking.  And we keep on answering the questions as they come.  And, in the midst of it, we keep on being a family.  And blogging about raisins and aftershave.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Thankful for Legos

Last week, Cameron brought home a book he had made at school.  On each page was a sentence that began "I am thankful for," and space to fill in your answer as well as to draw a picture.  Cameron's answer was "Legos," unless the sentence absolutely prohibited the use of the word.  For example, the sentence "I am thankful for the ____ I eat," was begrudgingly completed with the word "food."  However, "I am thankful for the ____ I wear," was joyfully completed with the word "Lego" and a self-portrait of Cameron wearing his Halloween costume.

So, when we learned that the Henry Ford Museum in Detroit was hosting a Lego Castle Exhibit, it was quickly put on our schedule. 

Grandma Linda accompanied us and snapped photos as the boys launched a Lego catapault at a Lego wall, jousted, admired Lego creations and pretended to be a stern Lego dungeon guard. 

By far Cameron's favorite activity, however, was . . . building with Legos.  Sort of like he does at home all the time.

The exhibit also had a building area for toddlers which Matthew appreciated until the fun was too much for him and he opted to nap on David's shoulder.

This was fortuitous because it was more difficult for David to hit on the Lego ladies with a sleeping toddler in tow.  David just can't seem to resist those big, dark eyes, the strong, sqaure jaw and the skin like a ripe banana.  Oh baby!

After we had thoroughly and completely explored the Lego display, we decided to check out the rest of the museum.  The place is huge and we couldn't even come close to looking at everything, but there were a few must see exhibits. The exhibit about the civil rights movement was fascinating and even included the actual bus in which Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat. 

Matthew could not be roused for a family photo, but did wake up while we sat in the bus and listened as Rosa Parks' voice told her story.  We even snapped a photo in the historic seat, although Matthew did not seem to grasp the significance.  Two year olds, what are you gonna do?

Lastly, I'm including this photo of me as a housewife thrilled by the possibility of a stylish and affordable Dymaxion home.  Cameron thought this was hilarious and is quite insistent that all of you would want to see it, too!

At the end of the day, I am pretty sure that Cameron would agree we are thankful for Grandma Linda.  And Legos.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Meeting Ella

We spent our Thanksgiving in Michigan, visiting with our families.  The highlight, for me, was meeting my beautiful niece, Ella.  The boys were quite enthralled with her as well.  "Ohhhhh, she's so pretty!" said Cameron.

"He wants me to hold him," announced Matthew, trying to dislodge Ella from my arms.  "He loves me tons and tons."

The boys had been looking forward to meeting Ella since she was born, and Ella proved to be as charming and delightful as anticipated.  She seemed quite comfortable with her cousins, which I credit to the letters of introduction that we had mailed to her. 

The letter briefly explained that the boys are Ella's cousins and requested that she not poop on them, as they had heard that she had done this to her poor mama and daddy.  Each boy drew a picture for Ella.  Matthew's expressed his interest in scribbling while Cameron's illustrated his interest in human anatomy.
Apparently, these drawings were a big hit with Ella and have even made their way into her baby book.


"Look, Cameron!  Do you know when this picture was taken?"  I say, pointing to a photo of David in a suit with ridiculous sideburns and me with shorter hair and a ring on my finger.  "That's the night that Daddy asked me to marry him!"

"Oh. My. Gosh!" replies Cameron.  "What did you say?  No way?"

Monday, November 23, 2009

Could be worse

"Bad news," announced Cameron.  "I lost my bladder today."

More frequently than I ever imagined, my children manage to say things that leave me speechless.

"You . . . lost your bladder?"

"Yeah.  At Spanish, a girl held up this bladder and asked if it belonged to anybody.  And it was mine.  But I didn't get it."

"So . . . wait.  What?"
"I didn't KNOW it was my bladder!  I thought my bladder was taped on my human body drawing!  But then, when we got home and hung it up on my wall, I saw that my bladder wasn't there.  So, it must have fallen off in Spanish.  And now?  My human body drawing has two kidneys but NO bladder.  And that?  That's a problem."

Yes.  Yes it is.  But not nearly as bad as the problem I thought we were talking about.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Why? Who Nose.

We were just eating lunch when Matthew began to cry in pain. "My nose, my nose!" he shrieked.

"What happened?" I asked. "What hurt your nose?"

"THE RAAAIISSSINNN!" he shrieked, pointing to the raisins on his plate.

"WHAT? How did the raisin hurt your nose?" I asked, afraid that I knew the answer.

"Put it IN THERE!" he confirmed, pointing at his right nostril. He huffed, "Can't get it OOOUUTTT!"

I quickly unstrapped him and lay him on the couch. Cameron hurried over and bent down, "I see it! I see it Mommy!"

I grabbed a flashlight and confirmed that a large raisin was lodged about halfway up. "Okay, Matthew," I said, holding his left nostril closed. "BLOW!"

Matthew huffed again, and the raisin inched forward. "Again!" The raisin moved a fraction more. "Again!" And with a huge puff of air, out flew the raisin.  "EWWWW!" we all chorused. 

But what a relief.  When Cameron was 3 years old, he stuck a googly eye up his nose.  This, of course, happened at about 9:30pm.  When we rushed into Urgent Care, our plight elicited laughter from the staff.  "An eye?  In his nose?  Haaaa!"  The mood turned more somber when the physician was unable to locate the eye, and the next day I drove over an hour for an ENT to scope Cameron in search of the eye.  It was never located, and the theory is that it made its way to his stomach.  "An eye?  In his stomach?  HAAA!"

At least Matthew had the sense to choose something digestible.

Easy to Please

I'm a halfway decent cook, and Matthew's multiple food allergies have prompted me to become even more proficient in the kitchen.  Most nights, I make a dinner that is safe for everyone to eat -- no dairy, no egg, no nuts and no mustard.  I bake fresh bread, I roast vegetables, I prepare a variety of entrees -- jambalaya, sauteed scallops, pasta with homemade sauce.

But yesterday, David was working late and I was tired.  On a whim, I stopped at Panera and picked up a sandwich for myself and the kid's grilled cheese for Cameron.  Matthew can't eat anything from a restaurant, so I make his meal no matter what.  As we sat around the dinner table, Cameron held up his grilled cheese.  "Man, this is SO good!" he commented.  "I really wish that you knew how to make these, mama."

"I know how to make grilled cheese," I responded.

Cameron's mouth fell open dramatically.  "YOU know how to make THIS!?!?"

Cameron can hardly believe that I am capable of such culinary excellence.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

NPR meets Spaceballs

Each day, as we drive Cameron to school, we listen to a book on CD.  After dropping Cameron off, I switch over to a podcast.  I love podcasts -- they make driving bearable.  I started out with just This American Life (I love you, Ira Glass.) and Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me, but that only got me through half of the week.  The Moth, The Story and Vinyl Cafe were soon added to my repetoire.  And finally, I discovered RadioLab -- geeky science meets great writing.  If you have a yen to learn more about parasites or stochasticity, RadioLab is your podcast.

If Matthew is still awake, he listens along with me.  Recently, the intro was playing for a RadioLab short.  "This is RadioLab . . . RadioLab . . . RadioLab . . ." echoed the voice.  And then, just as the child's voice shouts "Shorts!" I heard Matthew join in.  "SCHWARTZ!"   

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

You like dis mama?

Matthew has recently developed an interest in art, which is to say an interest in scribbling madly on a sheet of paper with a crayon.  Today, he experimented with a new medium -- markers.  He'd make a scrawl on the paper and say, "You see dat mama?"

To which I'd reply, "Oh yes!  I see that Matthew!  I like the color orange, do you?"

"Yeah," he'd answer.  He'd make another orange scribble and say, "Look mama! You like dat?"

After a while, I got engrossed in Cooking Light and began to answer, "Oh yes!  You're working so hard Matthew!"  Without really looking.  (Note:  This is an advanced writing technique called foreshadowing.  The fact that I mention that I wasn't really looking is mentioned specifically because it is significant.  It causes the reader to stop and think "Hmmm, I wonder what Matthew is doing while she's not looking?"  Read on, dear friends, read on.)

Until he said, "You like dis mama?" and I glanced up to see him standing a few feet away from the table. 

Coloring on the wall. 

I jumped up to discover that, at some point, Matthew had decided to scrap the paper and work on coloring his hands, the table, the chairs and the wall.  And the whole time I was saying, "Oh, very nice Matthew!  You sure enjoy coloring, don't you?  Coloring is fun!"

Thank goodness for washable markers -- I set Matthew up with some wet paper towels while I tackled the walls with a Magic Eraser and we were as good as new. 

And I have learned a valuable lesson:  Don't take your eyes off the two-year-old.  The sad part is, I'm pretty sure I've learned that lesson before.  But I am confident that Matthew will keep on teaching me that lesson over and over and over again until I remember.  Or until he turns three.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Already Used to Being the Big Boy

My dad's birthday was earlier this month, and Cameron was struck by inspiration.  "Hey!  I know what we should get your dad for his birthday!" he shouted.  This is a funny Cameronism -- he calls my parents "Grandma Linda" and "Grandpa Frank," but if he is talking to me he refers to them as "your mom" and "your dad!"  Anyhoo, back to the story.

"What do you think we should get Grandpa Frank?" I asked.

Cameron's face lit up.  "The Lego Star Wars game for his Wii!" 

This seemed to me a rather self-serving gift.  My parents do enjoy playing their Wii, and have even hosted Wii bowling parties for their group of friends.  However, when Cameron visits them, the Wii usage definitely goes waaayyyy up.  "Grandpa Frank would have so much fun practicing and then playing Lego Star Wars with me," Cameron said sincerely.  And so, we bought the game for Grandpa Frank.  I soon realized it was a good purchase when Cameron said wistfully, "I can't wait to see the look on your dad's face when he opens up his present!"

And then, this weekend, I got a chance to see how excited Cameron is about his new baby cousin.  "When we visit our family," he said, "I can't wait to play the Wii with your dad.  But first, I want to spend some time with baby Ella.  So she can start getting to know me."

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Down Side of Being a Big Boy

Soooo, I'm pretty excited about my beautiful new niece, Ella.  On Saturday, I went shopping for her Christmas gift.  (I don't want to give anything away here, in case Ella is among my readers.  I mean, I do test pretty well with the 0-6 month set.  Although my target audience is really more the 18 month - 36 monthers.)  I came home with a large toy.  Immediately, Matthew ran over and asked, "What's dat?"
"That's a present for baby Ella," I answered.

"Noooo," said Matthew.  "Dat's for ME."

"No, that's for baby Ella."

"Okay, fine.  Dat's for baby Ella AND for me."

Hmmmm.  Somebody is going to have a bit of an adjustment to not being the baby in the family anymore! 

Friday, November 13, 2009

Candy Man

This morning, Cameron and I left to go on a field trip before Matthew was awake.  I wondered what he would think when he woke up and realized he was spending the day with Daddy instead of with me as usual.  So when I got home in the afternoon, I gave Matthew a big hug.  "What did you say when you woke up and saw Daddy was home?" I asked.

Matthew thought for a moment and then answered.  "I said, 'Can I have some Smarties?' and he said, 'Yeah.'"

When you are a mommy, your kids are the whole world.  And when you are a kid . . . you love candy.  A big, big, BIG congratulations to my little sister who became a mommy today!!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Teaching Empathy

I think it is so important to teach kids empathy.  You know, to really try to look at a situation from someone else's perspective.  To realize that it isn't all about YOU, that other people have feelings, too.  To consider, "How might my friend feel when I grab away their toy?"  Or maybe, "How would I feel if I was a black widow spider about to be crushed beneath the feet of a jogger?"  It's so nice to see my parenting efforts pay off.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Smells Like Tot Spirit

As I was brushing my teeth this morning, Matthew was standing next to me.  "Eew," I heard him say.  "Need my juice, mama."

I looked down to see him holding an open bottle of aftershave, his lips puckered.  "Matthew!" I cried, "Did you DRINK that?!?!"

"I just drink it one, mama.  Just one.  Just taste it.  Ewww."

A few minutes later, I was on the phone with poison control.  "My two-year-old just drank aftershave," I said.

"Yuck!" replied the operator.   Which seemed to me sort of an obvious and unreassuring thing to say.  I mean, does Poison Control get many calls about kids ingesting things that would make you say, "Yum?"  Aren't they supposed to say something like, "Okay, ma'am, not to worry.  We'll get this sorted out right away?"

Quickly, however, the operator began gathering the relevant information.  Weight of child, age of child, amount consumed, time of consumption.  "Is he behaving normally?"

Matthew squealed in the background.  "I have caaandy?  A lollipop, mama?" 

"Yes, he's acting totally normal," I told the operator.  I mean, that's normal, right? If I'd taken a swig of something described as "a strong, aromatic citrus-scent for daytime wear," I imagine that I might be looking for a lollipop, too.  I rifled through the pantry while I waited for the verdict from the operator. What flavor Dum-Dum goes with Adidas Dynamic Pulse?  Mango?  Root beer?  Ahhh, mystery flavor.  For those times when you just can't decide.

After a few calculations involving body weight and percent alcohol, and my assurances that Matthew was not lethargic or "acting like he'd had a few drinks," it was concluded that Matthew would be fine.   

So, the aftershave has been relocated to a higher drawer, "Install safety latches in bathroom" has been added to the to-do list, and, thanks to my maternal shortcomings and a curious toddler, I've got me a blog post for the day.   

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Go Antibiotics!

Matthew is a huge football fan.  Every day he wakes up and asks me, "Watch some football, mama?"  When I explain to him that football is not generally on TV at 7am on a Wednesday he cries, "Whhhyyyy???"  Once in a while, I will save a football game on our DVR for the times when Matthew really, really wants to watch some football. 

He gives a pretty accurate running commentary as well, if you are okay not knowing what team he's talking about.  "Whoa!  He kick da ball!  He kick dat ball sooooo high.  Whoa!  Dat guy is running.  He got dat guy!  TOUCHDOWN!"  Sadly, higher mathematics still elude Matthew and, thus, he struggles with keeping score.  That's where Cameron comes in.  Today, the boys were watching the Ohio State vs. Penn State game.  "Mommy!" Cameron yelled.  "It's 10-7!  Ohio State is beating Penicillin!"

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Judge not, lest ye be judged

Part I.

Yesterday, I was at the park with the boys when a very rude little girl of about nine years came near us.  As she complained and talked back to her mother, the mother turned to me and said, "It's her birthday, so she knows I can't do anything to her.  You know how that is!"

I had lost my voice -- literally, not in a symbolic sense.  I have laryngitis.  So, when the mother said this, I simply raised my eyebrows quizzically while thinking, Uh, no.  Actually, I don't know what that's like.  My kids aren't allowed to be brats, even on their birthdays. 

"Come on," said the mother to her daughter, "we've got to get going to Biff's house."

"Nooooo," whined the girl, "I don't want to go yet."

"If we don't go now," said the mother, "you won't have time to touch the snake."

Honest to goodness, this is what she said.

"Well," countered the girl, "I'm going to play here and then I'm going to go to Biff's and I'm going to play the Wii and I"m going to touch the snake."

"You're not playing the Wii," said the mom.  "You'll barely have enough time to eat the pizza and touch the snake before your daddy comes to pick you up.  So we got to go now."

At this, the girl rolled her eyes and ran off to play some more.

The mother turned to me.  "If it wasn't her birthday," she said, "I'd be screaming like you wouldn't believe!  A little while ago, she came up to me, you know, like kids always do, saying, 'I'm gonna smack you!  I'm gonna smack your face, mama! And you can't do nothin' about it 'cause it's my birthday!'  And I said to her, 'If it wasn't your birthday, I'd go throw you in that pond and then I'd call your daddy because it's his week to have you anyways and I'd tell him to go fish you out!' Except she knows I can't throw her in the pond because it's her birthday!"  She laughed uproariously at this.

I smiled wanly, and tried to nudge the children towards the swings on the other side of the park.

I kept looking around to see if I was on Jamie Kennedy Experiment or Candid Camera or something. Crazy!  I'll tell you one thing, I am not raising my children to tell me they're going to smack my face!

Part II.

Today, Matthew earned himself quite a few time outs, primarily for not listening and secondarily for hitting when given a time out for not listening.  And he's catching on. 

As we drove to pick Cameron up from school, Matthew said, "Mama, we go to park?"

"Yes, Matthew," I rasped hoarsely.  "We'll go to the park after we pick Cameron up."

"OK, good, mama.  We go to the park.  I be a goooood listener.  And I will not hit you. . . too hard."

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Hip to be square

When I was a kid, my mom always made my Halloween costumes.  The traditional newspaper-stuffed pumpkin, the more eclectic Minnie Pearl, the regionally-inspired Zilwaukee bridge builder.  I think most kids wore homemade costumes in those days.  These days, every other kid is wearing the same store-bought costume and it just doesn't feel the same to me.  So from Cameron's first Halloween on, I've been making the kids' costumes.

Last year, under intense pressure from Cameron, I let him wear a store bought costume for the first time.  This year, I was pleased when he decided that he'd go back to a homemade one.    It was pretty easy to choose what he wanted to be.  What does Cameron love more than almost anything?  Legos.  And who does Matthew want to be like more than anyone?  Cameron.  And thus, I ended up making two Lego costumes.

To be honest, I was pretty disappointed in how they came out.  The spray paint didn't really cover up the "Whole Soy Yogurt" and "Zappos" labels.  But that's the beauty of trick or treating at twilight -- as soon as the sun began to set, you couldn't see those labels at all!

Matthew stayed home with David, as he's still fighting a fever that won't quit.  Cameron and I hit the streets with friends.  Before he even got to the first house, though, Cameron tripped.  Turns out it is difficult to see obstacles in your path when you have a box velcroed to you.  He fell forward, landing on his Lego and displacing several yogurt containers.  The good news was that the Lego cushioned his fall and he was uninjured.  "My Lego!" he cried.  "What are we going to do?"

Who does this kid think he's trick or treating with?  An amateur? I opened my bag, pulled out a roll of packing tape and had him patched up in no time!

Cameron got quite a bit of attention for his unique costume and on the way home he gave a satisfied sigh.  "Well," he said, "I think my costume was a big success!"

Saturday, October 31, 2009

If at first you don't succeed . . .

Recently, I opened Cameron's school bag and found this drawing.  "Cameron, what's this?" I asked.  I was pretty sure it was either the Death Star or some kind of Jedi fight scene or maybe a Lego Power Miners.

"Oh, that's my plan for the sand box," Cameron answered.

For weeks, Cameron has been reporting on the progress of The Great Sand Box Dig.  He and his friends have been foiled by rain, by girls stepping on their tunnels, by youngest groupers dumping sand in precisely constructed ditches.  But they don't let it get them down.  They keep digging.  Because as you can plainly see in the below diagram, it's gonna be really cool.  I'm talking tunnels and trenches and holes that reach the center of the earth kind of cool.

Cameron carefully explained the plan to me and then pointed to the red squiggles at the top of the page.  "See these?  These are two of the classrooms.  Not MY classroom, the other classrooms.  And they're red because they're on fire."

He said this very casually, which I found that much more disturbing.  After some discussion, this element of the plan seems to merely be a flair for the dramatic rather than a cry for help or a need to contact the school psychologist.  I mean, when you spend most of your time drawing Star Wars scenes, you need something to spice up a boring-looking plan.  Additionally, fire gives the tunnel system purpose.  I mean, let's say the classrooms are on fire and you flee to the playground?  Wouldn't you be glad that someone had planned ahead and dug escape tunnels to the center of the earth for you?

A few days later, I opened Cameron's school bag again and found this drawing.  "Cameron, what's this?"

Cameron gave a heavy sigh.  "Well, the sand box plan hasn't been going too good," he said.  "I had to come up with a Plan B."

This time, he's keeping it simple.  Cut-and-dry.  No fire, no drama, just a few simple tunnels and your run of the mill hole to the center of the earth.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Aced that one!

Yesterday, Cameron was telling me about a reading test he took on the computer.  At first, I thought he was talking about a reading comprehension test.  "Which book was it, Cameron?" I asked. 

"No," replied Cameron.  "It wasn't one of those kinds of tests!  It wasn't about a book!  It was like a fill-in-the-blank kind of test.  There would be a sentence, like maybe, 'My mom took me on a ---- ride.'  And then there would be choices and you had to pick the right word.  Like, let's say choice A was 'bicycle.' Then you have to think, does that make sense?  'My mom took my on a bicycle ride?'  No!  That's not the right answer because, of course, it is daddy who takes me on bicycle rides!"

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Open Adoption Roundtable #8

So, there are a lot of people who blog about adoption.  And in particular, there are a bunch of open adoption bloggers who participate in a roundtable -- each blogging in response to a specific question.  I've wanted to participate for a long time, but each time the question is sent out it seems that I don't find the time or I don't really know how to answer the question.  You see, our adoption is not as open as many of the other bloggers, and not as open as I would like it to be.  So, sometimes, I don't feel like our semi-open adoption has given me the experience or insight needed to respond to the roundtable questions. But this time, when I read the question, I knew my answer immediately. "Write about a blogger (or bloggers) who influenced your real-life open adoption, and how."

When we first adopted Matthew, I think I had this idea in my head that other families who had chosen to adopt transracially would automatically have a lot in common with us.  I couldn't wait to meet other families like ours, and I assumed that those families would be like ours in more ways than just being a transracial adoptive family.  It was a bit of a surprise, then, to start to realize that there are lots and lots and lots of different kinds of people who adopt transracially and that some of them feel very differently than I do about issues involving race and adoption. 

Slowly, over time, I've built up a wonderful group of friends who have also adopted transracially.  I love to talk with these women, to listen to their stories, to learn from their experience and I love to see our kids playing together!  But before I found them, I found Dawn.  What first attracted me to Dawn's blog was that, like me, she has an older, biological child and a younger child who joined their family through transracial domestic adoption.  But the more I read of Dawn's blog, the more reassured I was that there were other families out there that were really like ours -- families who want their child's first family to be a part of their life, parents who think it is important to talk about race and fight against racism, parents who acknowledge that adoption involves grief and loss, parents who think critically about the ethics of adoption.  And Dawn made me think even more deeply about these things.  You see, Dawn's youngest daughter is several years older than Matthew.  When I read about her questions, when I see Dawn's responses to her, it helps me think not just about what we're doing now for Matthew, but what's coming.  Through Dawn, I've come to realize that I've made mistakes and I'll probably keep making them -- every parent does.  But by being open and honest and by acknowledging when I don't handle things the right way, I hope that Matthew and I can have the kind of relationship that I see between Dawn and her daughter. 

Dawn was like a support group for me before I built up my own real-life support group -- although I don't think she's aware that she is or ever was my support group!  I so appreciate that there are bloggers like Dawn, who are willing to share their experiences and to challenge me to be an even better parent.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


The other evening, the kids were sitting at the table eating a snack that David had made for them.  From another room, I suddenly heard Matthew screech, "HELP!  HELP!  I'm stuck!"

"Mommy, come help!  Quick!" shouted Cameron.  "Matthew really needs your help!  He's stuck!"

As I raced to the kids, I yelled, "Stuck?  Where's he stuck?"

"In a huge cobweb!" answered Cameron.  Being a wee-bit arachnophobic, this was about the last thing I wanted to hear Matthew was stuck in.  Although, in fairness, there are few answers to the question "Where's he stuck?" that would be good answers.

As I rushed in to the kitchen, there sat Matthew, hands covered in a web of sticky marshmallow from the S'more David had made him!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Guess I Can Cancel the Megaphone Order

Cameron attends a Montessori school and I'm a big fan of their teaching methods.  I love that Cameron is learning independence, I love that he is able to both follow his own interests and be challenged, I love that he is in an environment that values respect, creativity and responsibility.  I have observed Cameron's class many time and have tried to apply many of the techniques at home.  And at Cameron's recent birthday party, I resorted to a technique his teachers use without even thinking about it.

Cameron, four of his Montessori classmates and two neighborhood friends gathered to celebrate Cameron's birthday and to have a LOT of fun with Legos.  At one point, the party was getting a little rowdy and I was trying unsuccessfully to get the boys' attention.  On a whim, I clapped my hands *clap clap clapclapclap*  Immediately, instantaneously, the five Montessori kids stopped what they were doing, turned to me and clapped back *clap clap clapclapclap*  And the other two kids stopped what they were doing to stare and wonder, " What was THAT about?"


A few nights ago, during dinner, Matthew held up his arm and observed it.  "Brown," he announced. "My skin is brown."  He looked over to me and asked, "Your skin is brown?"

And so it begins.  We read Matthew lots of books about adoption, about family and about skin color.  We tell him his adoption story and talk about his first family and how much they love him. But I'm pretty sure this is the first time that he's broached the topic himself. 

"Yes, Matthew, your skin is brown.  My skin is not brown, my skin is peachy.  Do you know who else has beautiful brown skin like yours?"


"J.  Do you know who J. is?"  (Note:  Matthew's story is his own, so I'm not going to be sharing his first family's names or details of his story here.)

Matthew thought for a moment, studying his arm, then smiled.  "J. is birf mama!"

"That's right!" I reply.  "J. is your birth mama!  And her skin is a beautiful chocolate brown color, just like yours is!" 

It's a pretty easy conversation to have right now -- pretty simple question, pretty simple answer.  But each time I tell Matthew his story or each time Cameron asks a question about adoption (typically a more challenging question!) or each time a curious preschooler wonders why Matthew doesn't look like me is training for the more in-depth questions and conversations to come.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Not a Fan of Fringe

When Cameron was about 2 1/2 years old, he took a pair of kiddie scissors to his PJs.  Apparently, they needed to be livened up with some fringe on the sleeves.

This morning, Matthew came to me with a look of bewilderment on his face.  He held up his arms, then pointed to one sleeve.  (Yes, he's wearing the cut up PJs.  They are still plenty warm!)  "Look, Mama," said Matthew.  "Somebody cut my PJs!"

"Yes," I agreed.  "Someone did cut your PJs.  Those were Cameron's PJs when he was a little boy.  Do you know who cut them?"

Suddenly, comprehension dawned on Matthew's face.  "Mr. Charlie cut my PJs," he answered.  No matter how much I insisted that Cameron, not Mr. Charlie the barber, was at fault, Matthew was convinced.  "Yes, mama," he said.  "Mr. Charlie cut my hair.  Mr. Charlie cut my PJs."

I have a feeling Mr. Charlie is going to get an earful at Matthew's next haircut.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I Couldn't Believe My Third Eye

This morning, the boys were running wild as I was trying to make lunch.  "Please," I begged, "settle down!"

To my astonishment, Cameron stopped running and said to Matthew, "Try this Matthew.  Sit on the floor criss-cross-applesauce.  Then put the backs on your hands on your knees."  Matthew attempted to imitate Cameron.  "Now close your eyes and breathe iiinnnn through your nose and oouuuttt through your mouth.  Now isn't that relaxing?  We do this at Tae Kwan Do.  It's called meditation."

One Foot in the Grave

This morning, Cameron walked in as I was putting on some makeup.  "Oooh," he noted.  "That makes your cheeks look nice and red.  That makes you look younger."

I don't know what possessed me, but I asked, "Do you think I'm a young mom or an old mom?"

"Oh, you're a VERY old mom!" answered Cameron earnestly.  "You're even older than Daddy!"

"Do you think I'm older or younger than your friends' moms?" I asked.

"Well, I think some of their moms are even OLDER than you!" he said, his voice filled with disbelief that there could be mothers older than I.

"How can you tell how old someone is?" I persisted.

"Well," he explained.  "If a mom isn't wearing makeup and she's old, her face is kind of smooshy and crackly.  Good thing you wear makeup, huh?"

He's Got the Look

Cameron has never cared much about what he wears.  Oh, sure, occasionally he would spot some particularly appealing item of clothing -- a Stars Wars Lego t-shirt, for instance -- and beg that it be purchased.  But for the most part, he's as happy wearing plaid shorts and a Hawaiian shirt as he is wearing a nice pair of khakis and a polo shirt.

Matthew, on the other hand, seems to have an opinion on his wardrobe.  It started a few months ago, when he snatched a pair of Crocs off the shelf as we passed by.  "These MATTHEW'S shoes," he declared.  "I want dese.  Dese my shoes."  He clutched them protectively all the way to the checkout, where the cashier has to assist me in prying them from his grip long enough to scan them.

Then, yesterday, we went to buy Matthew some new pants, of which he is in dire need since I apparently gave away or donated the 2T winter wear prematurely.  As I picked up some cheap jeans and clearance rack t-shirts, Matthew pointed to a pair of gray pants on a nearby rack.  "Those ones," he said.  "Those my pants, Mama.  I want those pants." 

I picked up the pair of pants and held them up.  "These ones, Matthew?"

"Yes, those ones."  Then he pointed to a shirt.  "Wit dat shirt.  Dat's da shirt I want.  Those Matthew's pants, Matthew's shirt."  He was absolutely beside himself with excitement when I handed him his selections.

When we picked Cameron up from school a little later, Matthew breathlessly told him of his new clothes.  "Did you get me anything?" Cameron asked.

"Yes," I said.  "I got you these two shirts."

"Oh," said Cameron with disappointment.  "Just clothes?"

Just clothes.