Sunday, January 31, 2010

More Sickness

On Saturday, my parents came to visit us.  I had high hopes for the visit -- time for the boys to spend with their grandparents, time for me and David to go out, time to hang out with my parents after the boys were in bed.  Shortly after their arrival, though, Matthew said, "My ear hurts."  He was grumpy and tired all afternoon, and told us several times his ear hurt.  Finally, we scrapped our plans and my mom and I decided to take Matthew to Urgent Care.  We strapped him in his car seat, crying.  About a block down the street, he stopped crying and said, "Hey!  My ear's okay!"  My mom and I exchanged glances.

"Does your ear hurt Matthew?"


The whole way to Urgent Care and during our wait he claimed his ear no longer hurt. He was cheerful and pleasant and I sat there thinking, "It just figures!  All this for nothing."

And then we were called back, the doctor glanced in his ears and . . . double ear infection.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Matthew to English translation

Matthew is still pretty congested and it seems to be making his speech more difficult to understand.  He usually speaks pretty clearly but at lunch today he kneeled on his chair, wiggled back and forth, smiled and said, "Disacawdaiscoantsing."

"What?" I asked.

"Disacawdaiscoantsing."  He wiggled again.

I turned to Cameron.  "Do you know what he's saying?"

"This is called the disco dancing," replied Cameron.

"YESSSS!" agreed Matthew.  "Da isco antsing."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Taste Test

Cameron is a picky eater.  I have NO idea where he got this from.  (Ignore any comments from my mother.)  He doesn't like different foods to touch each other.  He doesn't like anything spicy.  He doesn't like any differences in color or texture.  For example, he carefully examined each tiny piece of chicken on his plate the other night and made a pile of the rejects.  "I can't eat these ones," he explained.  "They have brown on them."  David attempted to reason with him, which doesn't work.

"The brown parts are the best," he said.  "That's just where the chicken was touching the pan," he said.  "You haven't even tried it," he said.

Then, David had an idea.  "Let's do a taste test," he suggested.  "We'll blindfold you and see if you can tell which piece has no brown on it, which has a little and which has a lot."  Cameron promptly agreed and proceeded to misidentify every bite.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Height of Sophistication

Matthew is still very sick and super crabby.  *sigh*

I took Cameron to the pediatrician's today for a vaccination.  Cameron is tough when it comes to shots -- he says "ouch" and then he's fine.  After he was done, the nurse said, "And here's a Scooby Doo band aid for you!"  She stuck it on his arm and, when she wasn't looking, Cameron rolled his eyes at me.

Later, Cameron said, "She was like, 'Oh, here, little boy!  Here's a Scooby Doo band aid!' And I smiled at her but I was thinking, 'Maybe you should give that band aid to Matthew!'  I mean, I'm a big kid!  She should really have given me a Star Wars band aid!"

Monday, January 25, 2010


Matthew is very, very sick (but should be fine).  He got a nebulizer treatment at the pediatrician's office, had a chest x-ray and was prescribed steroids.  "Any side effects I should expect from the steroids?" I asked.

"Weellll, they might make him a little hyper," said the doctor.

Yes.  Yes, they do indeed make him "a little" hyper.  Off to retrieve my 2-year-old from the chandelier.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Easy Listening

I love podcasts.  As soon as I drop Cameron off at school, I plug in my iPod and listen to This American Life, Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me, RadioLab and The Moth.  Typically, Matthew is asleep at this point and I can listen in peace.  I've learned, however, that if he isn't asleep, I should NOT turn on the podcast.

First I found out that when The Moth puts that little "explicit" label next to the pocast, it is NOT appropriate listening for a 2-year-old.  Who knew? So then, I made it my policy to only listen to RadioLab if Matthew was still awake.  Until they were talking about Y-chromosome mutations (which is just the sort of stuff I love to listen to) and they were describing a mutation that they had traced back to Genghis Khan (fascinating!) and then they started describing why this mutation grew to be so common (which was semi-inappropriate for a 2-year-old and involved how Genghis, ummm, passed on his Y-chromosome much more than the average man) and then they described how Genghis Khan died (in the act of passing on his Y-chromosome mutation) and . . . I quickly hit the power button and said "Oooh, Matthew, look at the shiny car!"

So no more podcasts for me until the little guy is asleep.  But that doesn't mean no more podcasts for them!

Cameron recently asked me if he could get "a radio with headphones" so he could listen to "rock music" when he's going to sleep.  Instead, I filled an iPod shuffle with bedtime story podcasts.  I also found that Cameron's favorite TV show, Fetch with Ruff Ruffman, has a podcast.  I put those on there as well and sent Cameron off to his room.  A short while later I heard a giggle.  Then laughter.  Then hysteria.  I went in to find that Matthew had joined Cameron who, amazingly, had shared the headphones with him.  Cameron was laughing uproariously.  Matthew said, "I talking on this!"  He pointed to the earbud and said, "I talking and dis Ruff Ruffman talking to ME!" 

So, I've done it.  I've hooked my boys on podcasts!  Ira Glass, just you wait a few years . . .

Friday, January 22, 2010

It's All in the Helmet

Recently, I blogged about Cameron's love of Legos, his hopes of winning a Lego building contest and how he reconsidered his "need" for Legos once he learned about the devastation in Haiti.  Although Cameron hasn't won that dreamed of Lego gift card to give to Haiti, he has stepped up.  He donated a small fortune (to him) to relief efforts and has shown continuing concern for what's happening in Haiti.  We're proud of him.  My aunt was proud of him, too, and sent Lego a link to my blog post.  And today, Lego made Cameron's day.  (Even more than Lego usually makes Cameron's day!)

Today, Cameron got a package in the mail from Lego.  Inside was a note thanking him for being a kind person who cares about others, a Lego poster and a Lego set.  Cameron nearly collapsed with excitement.  "It's a set with CLONE TROOPERS!!!" he shrieked. 

I was confused.  It was a set that Cameron doesn't have -- I knew that much -- but I couldn't figure out why he was excited about the clone troopers.  "Cameron, you have TONS of clone troopers!" I said.

Cameron looked at me with pity.  "Mommy.  I have tons of STORM troopers.  These are CLONE troopers, not STORM troopers.  See?  They have this ridge on their helmet.  The storm troopers don't."

I stand corrected.

Thanks to Lego and thanks to Aunt Beth.  Cameron certainly didn't NEED any reward but it meant the world to him to be acknowledged by his favorite company.

Which is Totally Different

Matthew's very, very, very most favoritest activity is throwing the football back and forth in the hallway.  This morning, he proposed that we do just that.  "I be Pittsburgher," he said.

"Okay, I'll be Penicillin," I agreed.

We tossed the football to each other for a while and then he said, "Let's do somefing else."

I was shocked.  Matthew almost never volunteers to quit playing football.  That's my job.  "Okay, what do you want to do?" I asked.

"I be Oregon, you be Penn State," he said and threw me the football.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

When They Aren't Fighting (Much)

Cameron is a really great big brother.  As Matthew tells him often, "You da best."  Now, don't get me wrong, Cameron and Matthew spend the majority of their time together fighting.  Matthew touched Cameron's Legos, or Cameron wants to watch Fetch with Ruff Ruffman while Matthew would strongly prefer Super Why, or Cameron thinks Matthew should play the role of Anakin Skywalker but Matthew doesn't get it and keeps trying to be Darth Vader even though Cameron has clearly established that the role playing is set in the Clone War years, before Anakin even became Darth Vader and if Matthew wants to be Darth Vader he should be perfectly happy to be Anakin since Anakin really is Darth Vader just not yet.  You know.

But when these two get along, it's magic.

Cameron recently realized that he is now big enough to give Matthew piggy back rides, which both boys find endlessly entertaining.  (Endlessly meaning "for about two minutes until someone scratches someone else.")  Matthew was anxious to return the favor and told Cameron he would give him a piggy back ride.  Cameron gamely climbed up on the couch, put his arms around Matthew's shoulders and then walked behind Matthew, praising him for giving such good piggy back rides.

And yesterday, in a display of cooperation the likes of which I have never seen, Matthew played trains while Cameron used Legos to build a train tunnel.  (Which Matthew subsequently destroyed, prompting Cameron to momentarily lose his mind, but that's besides the point.)

The train/Lego play continued this morning, with a new agreement that the story line would be that a train tunnel is built but is structurally unsound, leading to collapse and subsequent rebuilding efforts.  Midway through the scene, Matthew began to shriek with laughter.  "Look!  Look Mama!  I made dis so funny!"

When I came, he showed me two of his Lego people perched on top of the helicopter.  He gave the propellor a spin, the Lego people rotating with the blade.  This, apparently, was hysterically funny.  (I had mistakenly thought it was just slightly amusing.) "It SO funny!" he reiterated.  He pointed to the people with a huge smile, "It Matthew and mama!"  This is NOT good news, because I am extremely prone to motion sickness.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Artistic License

We spent not just today but the weekend celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. and all he represented.  So, here's a picture Cameron colored of MLK Jr.  Bet you didn't know he was such a snappy dresser, huh?  It's 'cause all of those photos of him are in black in white.  If you saw the color photos, you'd see that his favorite suit was aqua and his favorite tie was orange.  Little known fact. 

The purple ear, however, had me befuddled.  Cameron explained, "All the other kids were using the brown crayons, so what choice did I have?"

Also, a book recommendation from me.  I recently read Claudette Colvin, Twice Towards Justice, by Phillip Hoose and it was fascinating.  Claudette Colvin was a teenage girl in Montgomery, AL, who refused to give up her seat on a bus almost a year before Rosa Parks did the same thing.  I wish I could convince everyone, middle school on up, to read this book!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

He's Taken

Driving in the car today (which, of course, is where all significant conversations take place), Cameron said to me, "When I grow up and I'm a daddy, who do you think will stay home with my kids?  Will I stay home or will the mommy stay home?"

"Well, that just depends, Cameron," I answered.  "Remember when you were little, Mommy and Daddy both worked.  But now I stay home and only Daddy works.  And in some families, only the mommy works and the daddy stays home."

"I think I would like to be a daddy who takes care of the kids," answered Cameron.  "But I guess that Maddie* and I will just have to decide that together.  Ooops.  I don't mean 'Maddie,' I mean, I guess that me and whoever I marry will have to decide.  Because, haha!  I mean, I don't mean that I'm going to marry Maddie."

* Name changed to protect Maddie, my future daughter-in-law.  And to protect Cameron from teasing!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

An Easy Way to Help Haiti

One of the reasons that the news of the earthquake in Haiti has impacted me so much is that, through some amazing bloggers, I have gotten to know families who have adopted children from Haiti.  Hearing about their fears for their children's birth families, for the friends they have made in Haiti, and for the children that are still in Haiti with adoptions in progress breaks my heart.  But now you can help Haiti just buy reading and commenting on some of the blogs listed in the following link!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Less Expensive than Disney

Finally, finally -- now that it's practically February -- I feel like I'm getting back into the swing of parenting in the winter.  We go Wii-free during the week, but if the boys are left to their own devices, they will play Star Wars until I break them up for clobbering each other with light sabers.  At which point Luke will retire to his bedroom to sulk and play Legos and Darth Vader will ask me over and over and over again to throw him the football.  It's taken me months to figure out what to do instead, and during those months I've confiscated the light sabers more than I care to recall.

Matthew Works

In Montessori, all of the activities are called "work," and I think there is something magical about this.  Sure, we grown ups have plenty of work to do and we'd often rather play, but kids?  For some reason, kids love work (except cleaning -- I have yet to figure out how to make that appealing to them).  Ask Matthew if he wants to do a puzzle and he is completely uninterested.  But make it work?  Make it important?  Put those puzzles on a plastic tray, let him carry the tray to the table to do "his work?" He'll proudly select the correct shapes to complete his puzzles and crow "Ta-da!" each time he finishes a  "work."  

Cameron's Words

As for Cameron, we've been doing lots of word activities lately, talking about homophones, anagrams, palindromes and rebuses.  Cameron has recently been bemoaning his lack of exciting news to share on the line at school -- "Everybody always has exciting news, like 'I went to Disney Land,' and then it's my turn and everybody is like, 'Oh, he's a kindergartener! He MUST have exciting news,' and OF COURSE, I don't!"  So rather than take him to Disney Land, I pointed out that 'sea' and 'see' are pronounced the same but mean different things.

Unbelievably, Cameron was so excited about homophones that he shared it for his news the other day and, as he tells it, it was a big hit.  (I am hoping that this is true.  I secretly fear that I am nerdifying my kid to the point that he doesn't even realize that nobody else is excited about homophones.  But then I look at my old classmates on Facebook and all the old nerds are super cool people now and all the old popular crowd don't seem quite as shiny and special as they used to.  Although some of the popular girls still appear to have really great hair - why, oh why, could I never get my bangs to stand three inches high in 8th grade?  But a lot of the popular guys are bald now!  But I digress.  My point is, so what if I'm making Cameron into a nerd?  He's gonna be an awesome grown-up.  And hopefully we're sending him to a school where maybe the other kids really do think homophones are cool!) 

Today, Cameron plans to share news about the rebus I made to tell him lunch was ready.  We'll see if his luck holds or if he's asking for a trip to Disney on the ride home.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What's Really Important

Cameron will spend hours looking at Lego catalogs, the Lego Club magazine and the Lego Brickmaster magazine.  He will look at them until he has memorized the name and price of each Lego set.  He will look at them until he can recite the text of the Lego comic strip.  He will look at those catalogs and magazines until the pages are falling out.

Last night, he was again perusing a Lego Club magazine when he noticed that there was a contest to build something that the Lego firefighters could use to fight fires.  Doubtless, he had read of this contest before, but this time he noticed that 5 lucky winners would receive a $100 Lego gift card.  AND the deadline had not yet passed!

Feverishly, he began to plan and build, all the while chattering excitedly over what he would do with his prize winnings.  "Cameron," I pointed out, "I think a lot of kids enter the contest.  So, even if you build a reeeaaallllyyyy great Anti-Arson Water Cannon 204.0, you might not win."

He paused.  "You're right.  Probably like eighteen kids enter!  And only five win!  But, think about it!  What's really important?"  And here he raised an eyebrow, preparing to impress me.  "Winning the contest?  Or having a really great time building an awesome Lego model?  Having a really great time, OF COURSE!"  He smiled charmingly.

Despite this assertion, he spent the evening brushing up on his math skills by calculating which Lego sets he could buy with $100.  "Or what if mine is SO good, that they give me ALL FIVE of the prizes.  And THEN I'd have $500!  And I could buy the Death Star for $399.99!  And I'd STILL have money left to buy MORE Legos with!"

After bedtime, he came out of his room, his eyes bright with excitement, to point out that $100 could buy him all of the new Lego Bionicles with the gold pieces that you can use to build one big gold Lego Bionicle.

Then, this morning, I heard about the earthquake in Haiti.  As I sat down to eat breakfast with the kids, Cameron said, "What's wrong, Mommy?"

"Well," I told him, "I just heard some really sad news.  In a county called Haiti, there was a big earthquake.  And Haiti is a country where a lot of people are very poor, and they don't have strong houses like we do and they don't have good hospitals and they don't have enough food or water.  And now, because of the earthquake, a lot of people got hurt, and a lot of people died, and a lot of people don't have any where to live."

Cameron looked very serious for a moment.  "That's really sad," he said.  He took a few spoonfuls of his cereal and then looked up.  "Hey Mommy?  Maybe if I do win that Lego contest, maybe instead of buying something for myself, maybe I could give the gift card to Haiti instead."

He's a pretty great kid.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Scene of the Crime

Yesterday, the boys and I baked cookies.  And then we ate cookies.  And then the boys badgered me for more cookies.

Matthew woke up this morning and promptly requested "cookies in my hand" for breakfast.  When the answer was (shockingly) "no," he protested briefly and then began to plot.  His grand theft bakery skills are, however, in need of some fine tuning.

Notice that rather than stealing entire cookies (which is sooooo 18 months!), he went for the more subtle approach of taking bites out of several cookies.

He's still trying to figure out how I caught him.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Throwing a Yellow Card on the Wii

So, the Wii is super fun, but there is so much else to do on the weekend!  Not to mention that it sometimes wears on me, the constant whining and complaining and Wii arguments.  "Mooommm, it's not fair!  Miyori parried and I was about to retaliate with a riposte when Matthew grabbed my Wiimote!" 

And I'm all, "Boys!  If you can not fence nicely, we won't even play the Wii on weekends!"

Oh, the wailing and gnashing of teeth.

So, sometimes, I make them do other things which, they often discover, are actually super fun, too.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Open Adoption Roundtable #12

Call them resolutions, commitments, changes, or choices--how will you be proactive in the area of open adoption in 2010?

Our adoption didn't start off open.  In fact, it started off completely, totally, solidly closed.  This had not been our plan.  Through my graduate thesis on adoption and genetics, through tons of reading and tons of talking, David and I had concluded that open adoption would be in the best interest of our child.  We never really considered that we'd end up in anything other than an open adoption -- after all, in our profile we had made clear that we wanted an open adoption and we were told that most expectant mothers who were considering adoption wanted openness. 
When we adopted Matthew and were told that his first mom did not want any openness, we were surprised and saddened.  We struggled to adjust our imagined adoption to our real-life adoption.  And we decided that while we couldn't, by ourselves, create an open adoption, we could create an attitude of openness.  So, from the start, we talked openly with Cameron and with Matthew (even when he was too little to be aware), about adoption.  We talked about J. and the little we knew of her from the adoption agency.  We spoke of her with respect and love.  And we decided that we would always reach out to J. in any way that we could;  if there was any chance that J. wanted more openness, she would know that we wanted that, too. 
We began by writing letters to J and sending photos.  We didn't know if J. would ever choose to receive the letters and photos.  At least, I thought to myself, we can tell Matthew that we wanted J. to know about him.   Then, we learned that J. had decided to accept our updates.  At least, I thought, we can show him these updates and tell him that J. has read these stories, seen these pictures. We began to send monthly letters, stuffed with photos and funny stories.  In every single letter, I told J. how important she was to us and how much we wanted to hear from her.  "Matthew has such beautiful eyes," I'd write.  "I would love to be able to tell him who he looks like, who he got these big dark eyes from . . . " And after many letters to J., we received a letter back.  At least, I thought, Matthew will have this.  I wrote to J., telling her how much we cherished that letter, and how much we felt it would mean to Matthew in the future.  And I kept writing, and I kept sending photos.  And I told J. how much we would love to get more letters from her, or a photo, or an e-mail.  And sometimes I felt like I was asking for too much -- I mean, we weren't get any response and what did that mean? -- and then we received photos from her.  At least, I thought, Matthew will be able to see these, to know what she looks like. 
So now, after 2 years, we have moved from a closed to a semi-open adoption.  We're in contact with J. and we are encouraged that her biggest concern is the same as ours -- doing the right thing for Matthew.
So, for this year, my goals for our moving-towards-open adoption:
-- No matter what, I will maintain an attitude of openness.  I will welcome Matthew's questions, I will accept his feelings, and I will continue to tell him not just his adoption story but what I know of his birth story.
-- I will continue to try to grow our relationship with J.  I will continue to tell her how important she is to us and to Matthew.  I will keep on telling her why we want her to be a part of Matthew's life.  I will thank her for the openness she has offered, I will ask and hope for more openness but I will respect her timetable in getting there.
And I will hope that someday there are no At leasts left.  That someday, when Matthew has a question about J., he can ask her.  That someday, instead of showing him photos of J., he will know her.  And when people ask me why I would want her to be a part of our lives, I tell them:  Because Matthew is a part of our family.  And so is she.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Passive-Aggressive with the Pins

Cameron is amazing at Wii Bowling.  I mean A.MAZ.ING.  He recently bowled FOUR strikes in a row.  Tonight, I actually got my hands on a remote and bowled one frame.  I didn't get a strike, or even a spare, but it wasn't a gutter ball either.  Cameron patted me on the back and said, "Good job, Mommy!  I don't care HOW bad you do!"

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Do I Say That A Lot?

Me (home with two crazy kids on a long and snowy day):  Dear God . . .


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Not Earthshattering

A few minutes ago, Matthew asked me if we could go in my bedroom and hide under the covers together.  I agreed and, when we were in the murky darkness under the blankets he whispered, "Mama!  I wanna tell you a secret!"

"OK," I whispered back.

Then, in a low, dramatic whisper, Matthew intoned, "I.  Like.  The Caaandies."

See Jane, see? A Lego Agent 2.0!

Cameron didn't start reading at a particularly early age, but once he had it figured out, he REALLY had it figured out.  He basically went from sounding out "cat" to reading chapter books in one night.  There are a lot of really fantastic things about having a reader.  But one of the best parts is watching Cameron read to Matthew.

Today, as I was gathering up scarves and mittens and snowpants and hats and boots to go outside, Cameron and Matthew sat together.  Cameron was teaching Matthew to "read" the Lego magazine.  "Okay, Matthew," he instructed.  "Say 'Lego Agents 2.0."

"Wego Agents Two Poinoh!" repeated Matthew.

"Okay, now say, 'Agent Chase.'"

"Age in chase."

"Doctor Disaster."

"Awk awk dis AAAASTER!"

"No, that's not it Matthew.  It's DOCTOR Disaster.  Now try it again."

"Doc-toe Disaster."

"Good job!  Now, let's try the Lego Power Miners Page."

With Cameron's help, I wouldn't be surprised if Matthew is an early reader.  His choice of reading materials, however, may be a bit eclectic.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Walk Down Memory Lane

Cameron still remembers how much he longed to be a big brother, and sometimes he is overcome with sentimentality.  Yesterday, we went to the museum.  As we walked in, Cameron said, "Matthew, let's hold hands."  Then, hand in hand, Cameron turned to Matthew and confided, "I wanted to be a big brother for so long.  And then my dream came true!  Matthew, if you weren't my brother, well . . . well, if you weren't my brother, I wouldn't have such a great brother."

Matthew, not one for sentiment or theoretical discussions, looked at Cameron and replied, "Uh, I AM your brother."

Get that Mii some makeup

David, upon seeing my Mii on my parents' Wii:  "Whoa!  Your Mii here is WAY hotter than your Mii at home!"

Friday, January 1, 2010

Grateful for My Ruby Slippers

What a wonderful holiday season we had!  We just returned from a week with family in Michigan, packed with non-stop fun.  We visited with family -- mine, and David's, and more of mine, and more of David's -- we caught up with old friends, we spent time with the kids, we spent time without the kids.  And it was so great. 

When we began the drive home, Cameron said, "I tried to act happy when we left, but really I feel super sad.  Because I had tons of fun."  And that, my friends, is the way to end a visit -- while you are still having fun. 

It was one of our best Christmases yet but, as always, it is so good to be home.  We've settled in for a cozy evening -- I've got bread baking in the oven, David and Matthew are watching the Rose Bowl pre-game coverage and Cameron is setting up an acids and bases experiment.  So, it's back to the grind but to be honest, our daily grind is pretty awesome.

Hope all of you had a lovely holiday season as well and are starting off 2010 with much joy and gratitude.