Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Put Me in the Zoo

Cameron:  Hey, Matthew, guess what?  We're animals.
Matthew:  No, we're not.  I'm a big boy.
Cameron:  No, really, we are!  We're mammals and mammals are animals so we're animals.
Matthew:  NO, I am NOT an animal.  I am a BIG BOY.  I. AM. NOT. AN. ANIMAL!

This nearly came to blows.  It leaves me dreading the day that Cameron tells Matthew about evolution.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Doggie Days of Spring

It's a rainy day and we spent the whole morning playing Doggies.  "Woof, woof," said Cameron, crouching on the floor.  "We are two *woof* little doggies!  When we *woof* say 'woof,' it means 'yes.'"

I've played Doggies many times before, so I was able to pretty much instantaneously get into character.  My character being The Little Girl Who Wants a Doggie and Gets Two of Them.  "Oh!" I said brightly.  "Look at these cute little doggies!"  Then comes the part where I try to decide which doggie I would like to come home with me.  "This doggie is bigger."  Cameron pants excitedly.  "And this doggie is smaller."  Matthew, who has joined Cameron on the floor, gives a high-pitched bark.  "This doggie has beautiful golden fur, and this doggie has such a cute, curly coat!"  Now comes the part where the doggies try to communicate to me, through a series of animated woofs and some pretty impressive canine miming, that they are brothers and they would both like to be my doggies.  The Little Girl is usually a bit slow to catch on.  "Hmmmm.  How will I decide?  This doggie seems very friendly.  And this doggie is full of energy."  The doggies hug each other and begin to howl plaintively.  "What's that?  Oh, are you friends?" 

The doggies nod and the bigger doggie typically barks, "Brothers!  Woof!"

"My goodness!  Brothers!  Would you BOTH like to come home with me?"

"Woof, woof, woof!" yip the doggies.

Today, the Doggies game went on much longer than usual and, for the first time ever, the doggies revealed their true names to me.  The smaller doggie went first, arfing that his name was Beanie.  The larger doggie was at first a bit reticent, leaving The Little Girl in a Rumpelstiltskenesque guessing game until, finally, the doggie ruffed that his name was Ralphie.  Beanie and Ralphie, it turned out, were thirsty and wanted some water.  "Ruff, ruff!  In bowls!"

The Little Girl began to question her parenting skills as she watched her new puppies slurp loudly from their water dishes.  The doggies got in some exercise despite the weather, enthusiastically chasing down balls and Frisbees in a raucous game of hallway fetch.  "Woof, woof!  Hungry!" said the big doggie.

"Arf!  Want something veeeerrrryyy special," enjoined the small doggie, who has recently taken to asking for veeeerrrryyyy special snacks on a regular basis.  "Woof!  Want chocolate chips!"

And here, The Little Girl discovered something very wonderful about Doggies.  "Oooh, doggies can't each chocolate!  It makes them sick.  But I can give you each a bowl of puppy chow!"  And the two little doggies eagerly gobbled up snack of raisins and pretzels.  The Little Girl is considering whether or not the puppies could be convinced that they love brussel sprouts.  Served in a bowl on the floor, of course.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Getting Through the Week

On Tuesday, I sent Cameron to school with a bit of a cough and cold. Nothing alarming -- it had already made it's rounds through the rest of us.  Tuesday night, the cough and cold turned to scary wheezing and by Wednesday morning, Cameron was really, really sick.  A frantic trip to the pediatrician resulted in a diagnosis of walking pneumonia.

So, Wednesday was already a bad day but on top of that I had one of the worst migraines I've ever had.  And Matthew?  Matthew was totally healthy and full of energy.  So Cameron and I lay listless on our respective couches while Matthew jumped and climbed and yelled and whined and I whimpered, "Please.  No talking."  It was baaaaaad, y'all.

A good night's sleep and antibiotics for Cameron made a world of difference and Thursday was a much better day.  Cameron was still tired, but otherwise feeling pretty good and I was in that drained but oh so grateful to be painfree state that I get in after a migraine.  You know, where you find it amazing that you can do things like sit up or enter a room with a light on without wanting to die? 

We declared it a pajama day and spent our time playing, watching a movie and staging Lego races.  Here's an action sequence of Matthew's Lego car blasting through a wall of plastic cups.  Awesome.
Cameron also made me a very sweet Lego creation that said "LOVE."  In his other hand, he is holding what I thought was a Lego space alien but turns out to be a Lego model of . . . me. 
For reasons unbeknownst to me but oddly appropriate, Matthew spent much of the day running around yelling, "Bezerk!  Bezerk!  Bezerk!"  He also repeatedly shouted, "Shani Davis?  WHAT?!?!"  as if we were actively watching the Olympics.

Cameron requested that I renew his Lego Brickmaster membership.  I reminded him that last year he earned his membership by completing numerous household tasks and that I would be happy to make a new list for him to tackle.  "Did you know that my friend has been a Brickmaster since he was four?" asked Cameron.

"Really?" I responded.

"Yes.  And guess what HE has to do to get his Brickmaster membership each year?"


"He has to say, 'Hey mom?  Can I be a Brickmaster again?'"  Cameron raised his eyebrows.

"Wow," I answered, "he's a lucky kid.  I'll get that list ready for you to start on!"  I'm so mean, people.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Thumbs Up

Matthew's verbal abilities are fairly advanced so he's decided to work on his nonverbal communication.  He recently learned the thumbs up sign, which he is quite fond of except at meal time.  Thankfully, he has yet to learn the thumbs down sign. 

He's also learned to shrug instead of say, "I don't know," but this takes quite a bit of effort and concentration.  He squints his eyes and slooowly raises his shoulders up to his ears, then grins in delight at his accomplishment. 

While watching the Olympics, he saw Julia Mancuso do a little kiss/wave combo and he was delighted.  He's decided that it is his signature move and now he'll call, "Mommmmmyyyy!" then kiss his hand and wave at me with a charming smile.

When all else fails, he can always fall back on the high five.  When we were driving in the car recently, I heard him in the backseat saying, "High five!  Down low!  Too slow!  Okay, again.  High five!  Down low!  Oh, I got you!"  I glanced in the rear view mirror to see him high fiving himself.  He also escaped from us at church and attempted to get a high five from the priest, which was a no-go.  Apparently, "Amen" is the accepted response at Communion, not "Down low!"  I suggested to Matthew that next time he try a fist bump and "Blow it up!"

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

O'Foiled Again

Last night, Cameron set up his leprechaun traps and then ran to bed.  "I don't think I'm going to read my book tonight," he explained.  "I need to go to sleep right away so the leprechauns come."

At 4 a.m., I awoke with that odd feeling that someone was watching me.  I opened my eyes and there stood Cameron.  "Mama," he whispered, "I think the leprechauns are here!  I see a green light flashing out in the living room!"

(I am pretty sure the flashing green light was our DVR, notifying us that there are new recordings awaiting us.  Probably PBS specials about string theory or the history of Amish hat making.  Definitely not that special about what happens behind the scenes on The Bachelor. I mean, I don't even watch The Bachelor!  So why would I record the 20/20 special?  I wouldn't!  That is so not why the green light was flashing!)

Cameron crawled into my bed.  "I really want to go out there and just say, 'Hi Leprechauns?  How's it doing?  I'm Cameron.' But I probably shouldn't because I might scare them and then they'd jump on my shirt.  I'm so excited though."  He was literally shaking with excitement.

I sent him back to bed, where he stayed until . . . 4:30am, at which point he returned to again report on the leprechauns.  I sent him back to bed.  In the morning, I woke up to find that Cameron had already been awake for hours.  "We didn't catch them," he reported.

We had decided upon two traps last night, after Cameron explained to me that the third trap he had designed would require the installation of hooks in our ceiling.  The Lego bridge trap had worked exactly as designed.  Floating in the water was a leprechaun hat and the water had turned green!  However, a note explained that Maureen Leprechaun had been rescued from near drowning and dried off using "those nice big white towels."  A crumpled pile of paper towels was near by! 

The coffee canister design, it turned out, was flawed.  The toothpick ladder remained intact and a note explained that Patrick Leprechaun, only three years old, had climbed the ladder and fell into the trap.  The older leprechauns realized that the ladder would not hold their weight, so they formed a leprechaun pyramid to reach the top.  They then instructed wee Patrick to pile up all his gold and stand on top of it, at which point the big leprechauns reached down and pulled him out.  So, the good news is we scored some leprechaun gold.  Bad news is, it turned out to be FAKE! Plastic gold! 
Cameron also left the leprechauns a challenge.  He hid some Lego minifigures around the house and told the leprechauns that if they found them all and identified them correctly, they would received "25 cents and a Lego minifigure!"  We left an example for them -- Indiana Jones.  This time WE bested the leprechauns.  They failed to find one minifigure and misidentified the others as "Patty O'Skywalker," "Sean McMinifigure," and "Seamus Fitztrooper!"

So, even though we failed (again) to catch the leprechauns, we are gathering more data.  Watch out next year!!!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Matthew has an amazing ability to locate my cell phone no matter where I put it.  He recently came to me, phone to ear, and said, "I talking to Daddy, Mama!"  When I grabbed the phone from him, the history showed that he had called the main phone line at David's work -- I have no idea who he spoke to.

A few days later, I found him with my phone, hiding under the table, Googling "nakdlzuiehn;a."  Which is sort of a problem since I am not supposed to have internet access on my phone.  I await my next bill to find out if I do now.

Yesterday, Matthew disappeared.  I was pretty sure he was hiding in a rocket I made for him from a cardboard box.  So, I played it up, roaming the house and saying, "I wonder where Matthew could be?  Is he in here?  Nope!   Hmmmm.  Maybe he's in here.  Nooooo. Maaattthhheewww!  Where aaaaarrreee you?"  As I approached the rocket, Matthew burst out of the door, laughing and holding my phone.  "Oh no!" I gasped.  "Matthew!  How did you get my phone?  Did you call someone?"

Just then, my phone rang. It was my mom.  She says that Matthew called her at work.  He said "Hello" and in the background she could hear me calling for Matthew. 

"Is your mommy there?" she asked.

"Yes," he replied.

"Can I talk to her?"

At which point Matthew hung up.  He's no fool. 

So, now I'm figuring out how to password protect my phone.  In the mean time, if you know me and you get a call from my cell phone and I'm acting sort of weird -- say, talking about how much I love Tofutti cheese, or calling you 'Daddy,' or just breathing heavily into the receiver -- you'll know what's up.

We're coming to getcha . . .

Last year, we built some leprechaun traps using designs we found in Family Fun magazine.  Now, I don't want to knock the Family Fun people but . . . well . . . they didn't work.  In retrospect, it was clear that there were some serious design flaws.  I mean, using a cardboard box?  Not even close to strong enough to contain a leprechaun!!!  So this year, Cameron designed the traps himself.  There are several Lego traps which I don't entirely understand, except for a long Lego bridge designed to lure the leprechauns with some cleverly placed coins.  The bridge is too weak to support the weight of your average leprechaun, so when they greedily run out onto the bridge it will collapse, dropping them into a pool of water.  Gotcha!

There is one non-Lego trap -- an improvement upon last year's cardboard box fiasco.  "It's made from coffee canisters," explains Cameron, "which are metal inside so the leprechauns can't blast through it."  The leprechauns will climb a toothpick ladder to reach the coins placed tantalizingly on the top of the trap.  The toothpick ladder, like the Lego bridge, will be weak and will break as they climb it.  It will be just strong enough for them to reach the top, but will not survive a climb back down.  Take that, leprechauns!

Last year, the leprechauns also used their socks to make a rope ladder, thus escaping the oatmeal canister trap.  To foil them, Cameron used TWO coffee canisters.  But here's the really tricky part.  The coffee canisters are intact, merely taped together.  Thus, when the leprechaun falls into the trap, he will find himself stranded several inches above the floor!  So, even if he manages to blast a hole in the canister, how will he get down?!?!   

Cameron is feeling pretty confident that this will be our year.  I am racking my brain, wondering how the leprechauns are going to outwit these traps . . .

Monday, March 15, 2010

My Crying Joy

Me:  Oh, Matthew, you're my pride and joy!
Matthew:  What?  What does that MEAN?  What does that mean, I'm your crying joy?
Me (laughing):  No, you're my PRIDE and joy.  It means you make me proud and you make me happy.
Matthew:  Aaand I make you laugh 'cause I'm soooo funny.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I'm so over that sensitive period.

As I've mentioned before, Cameron goes to a Montessori school.  I've never sat down and talked to him about the theories behind Montessori.  I've never said, "Cameron, you are in a 'sensitive period' for language."  I've never pointed out that his classroom provides structure as well as freedom to choose the work that interests him.  But yesterday, without knowing it, Cameron himself told me about how Montessori works.

We were working on some craft projects at home and Cameron painted a little picture on the cardboard that was protecting the floor from our craftiness.  "Look!" he said.  "It's a painting of me watering the grass."  Then he reflected, "You know, when I was in the youngest and the middle groups, I was really into painting on the easel.  But I'm kind of over painting now.  I'm just really into language and math at the moment."

Monday, March 8, 2010

Update: What's Really Important

A while back, I posted about Cameron's desire to help Haiti.  I'm so proud to report that now he really has!

Cameron's great-grandma and great-grandpa sent him some money, and Cameron decided to make a donation with it.  This past Saturday, he handed over a fifty dollar bill and then spent two hours packaging meals to be sent to Haiti.  He reports that it was "great!" 

He did have some initial hesitation, though. As he got ready to go volunteer, he said to me, "Wait.  What's 60 plus 60?  It's 120, right?"

"Right," I answered.

"I'm going to be packing food for ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY MINUTES?!?!?" he said in disbelief.  Then he pointed to his bracelet and said, "Well, I guess that okay.  You know, 'pa bliye Ayiti.'"

We're hoping to make this a regular event, although right now the organization has no openings for volunteers until the end of June!  We'll have to find some other volunteer opportunities in the mean time, since it appears that Cameron is fully capable of working for one hundred and twenty minutes!

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Geriatric Soccer League

The boys and I have been playing soccer in our hallway for literally hours each day.  The scores are routinely in the 70's -- alas, the temperature is not.  Yesterday, Matthew had just scored for our team, tying things up.  "High five," he crowed, running back to me. 

And as I high-fived him, Cameron kicked the ball past me, into the goal, and shouted, "Don't celebrate yet, old lady!"

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

This is how long winter has been.

As we were driving Cameron to school today, Matthew called out, "Mama, it's hurting my eyes!"

"What is?"

"Dat . . . thing."  I glanced back to see him pointing up out the window.  "Dat stuff is coming and hurting my eyes."

"The sunshine?" I asked.

"Oh yeah, da sunshine.  I forget da name of dat."

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Thinking Outside the Tub

"Hey, Cameron, it's Picture Day at school today," I said.  "You need to take a shower this morning."

"Whaaattt???  But I just took a shower," Cameron protested.

"You still need to take a shower.  Your hair is sticking up.  After your shower, I'll blow dry it so it looks nice."

Cameron flattened his hair with his hand, but it sprang right back up.  "Does it look good now?"

"Nope, still sticking up."


"Nope, still sticking up.  You need to take a shower."

Then, I was distracted by Matthew for a few moments.  "Hey!" called Cameron triumphantly.  "Is it sticking up NOW?"  I turned to see him holding a pair of scissors.  Holding. A. Pair. Of. Scissors.

My mouth dropped open.  "Cameron.  Please tell me you didn't cut your hair.  Oh my gosh.  Cameron.  Did you CUT your HAIR?!?!"

Cameron quickly sensed that this plan was not going the way he had envisioned.  (Cameron's vision:  "Oh, Cameron!  How clever!  You just cut off the hair that was sticking up!  No need for a shower now!  How about we eat candy and play video games instead?") 

He immediately burst into tears, sobbing for about 15 minutes, filled with regret.  "I thought it was a good plan," he cried.  "But I made a mistake!"

Thankfully, the trim is not noticeable and he should look just fine for photos.  After a shower.