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!"