Friday, July 30, 2010

Cameron Writes

Cameron has been doing a lot of writing lately.  He asked me to work on writing a juvenille fiction book with him -- I don't want to give anything away, but it involves villains, noodles and a mild-mannered hero.  While that's in progress, Cameron decided on his own to write a book for Matthew.  He hid it and worked on it each night after Matthew went to bed.  When he finished, he couldn't stop smiling and said, "I just can't wait to see Matthew's face when he sees this!"  As soon as Matthew woke up the next morning, Cameron presented him with the book and read it to him.  To my great relief, Matthew was appropriately enthusiastic.  Here are a few pages.

Cameron has also been leaving notes, which are not always as sweet as his book.  He sets an alarm for 7 a.m. each morning, but he didn't wake with his alarm earlier this week.  Thinking I was being nice, I turned it off and let him sleep in until 8 a.m.  When he woke up, he was furious that I had let him oversleep.  Last night, I found this note propped against a sleeping Cameron.  He apparently was pretty tired when he penned it, as it is full of backwards numbers and mispellings.  "WAK Me UP 7:00AM," it reads.  "P.S. NO MAter Wut."  In case I was unconvinced, he added a bribe of 25 cents.  And, in case I was to tired to comprehend a note, he provided an illustration.  I am not certain if the illustration shows how happy he will be or how happy I will be if I comply, and how unhappy he/I will be if I fail, once again, to wake him up!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Riding the Bus with Matthew

Matthew and I have been spending a lot of time at the children's museum lately, as it is near the day camp Cameron is attending this week.  Matthew has found a few favorite areas there, but the bus is near the top of his list.  It's a kid-size replica of a bus, made of wood with open sides.  The other day, Matthew rushed to grab the driver's seat.  "Get in, Mommy," he beckoned.

I sat down in the first row.  "Where is this bus going?" I asked.

"To a baseball game," replied the driver seriously.  He pumped the gas and the brake pedals simultaneously, causing me some apprehension about his driving skills.  And was that a whiff of lemonade I detected on his breath?  He turned the wheel swiftly in one direction, then the other, as I gripped the sides of my seat.

"Ummm, are we almost there?" I ventured tentatively.

"Yep," answered the driver.  Then he turned, still steering but eyes fully on me rather than the road.  "Don't worry, Mommy," he said.  "I've got a GPS." He turned back to the road and crowed, "Here it is!  Da ball game!" 

Apparently off duty, the driver leapt from his seat and out the door.  He flapped his hand in the air as I shakily exited.  He stared at me, waiting.  "Uhhh, mommy? You forgot to shut your door," he reproached, then flapped his hand in the air again to demonstrate.

I walked home after the game.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Family Walk Club

Cameron and I started a Family Walk Club.  For each 10 miles we walk, we get a prize.  Cameron has been incredibly motivated by this idea and prefers to walk just about everywhere now.  Granted, he's always been pretty good about walking or biking instead of driving.  "I should make a sign," he grumbles as we walk, "that says 'People!  More walking!  Less driving!  Good for the planet!'" 
But the club has motivated him to suggest a walk even more.  We've had some adventures already.  Earlier this week, we walked about 2 miles to the pool for Cameron's swim lesson.  When the lesson was over, we hadn't even walked to the sidewalk before thunder started to rumble.  We hurried along and about 1/2 mile later it started raining.  We took shelter in a drugstore, where wasted time and made some random purchases.  "Hmmm.  We are running low on vitamins.  And I guess we could use some envelopes . . . " 

After a while, we ventured out and it was still pouring.  So we went into a costume shop and bought a long white beard and half moon spectacles. 

Cameron started planning the 2010 Halloween Costume around November 1, 2009.  He will be going as Dumbledore.  I am planning to make Matthew a Hedwig the Snowy Owl costume.  If all goes as planned, I will be Tonks and David will be Harry Potter. 

Dumbledore props stowed in the stroller, we walked out and it was STILL pouring.  Finally, we resigned ourselves to getting wet and walked home in a downpour.  Everyone was quite good natured about the whole thing though, and the boys delighted in telling daddy about how wet they got and how brave they were.

We also walked to the park early yesterday morning and stayed until after our picnic lunch.  By then it was sweltering and I really, really didn't know if we were going to make it the last 1/2 mile.  Thank goodness for very large water bottles.

The prizes for our Family Walk Club make it worth the heat stroke, though -- all stuff we can do as a family.  We just hit 20 miles and our reward was a gross science kit.  The boys enthusiastically chose the experiment which teaches about passing gas.  We carefully measured yeast and water and sugar and bits of bread into a plastic bag, sealed it and place it in a bowl of water.  "Over the next 1-2 hours, you will see small bubbles of gas escape the bag," I read. 

Cameron promptly pulled up a chair and said, "Set the timer for 2 hours!"

Upcoming prizes will be somewhat less disgusting, focusing mainly on trips to museums and such.  But we do still have quite a few disgusting experiments to complete -- we're talking snot and scabs and foot germs! 

Monday, July 19, 2010

Tough call

I just broke up a fight between the boys over whether or not Matthew had hit a home run.  "HOME RUN!" shouted Matthew.

"THAT wasn't a home run!" contested Cameron, the pitcher.

"It WAS a home run!" replied Matthew.

"Was NOT!"

Here I jumped in.  "Boys, stop arguing.  If Matthew wants it to be a home run, just let it be a home run.  Cameron, when you are the batter you can decide if you get a home run."

This may seem an odd solution but, you see, there was no bat or ball involved here.  Matthew loves baseball (and all sports) so much that he plays imaginary baseball in the house.  "Pitch it, pitch it!" he'll implore as he stands in the kitchen, imaginary bat on his shoulder. 

The pitcher must then wind up and pitch the imaginary ball.  Matthew swings his imaginary bat and then the players watch the imaginary ball sail out off the imaginary ball park. 

It's very exciting.  But I gotta tell you, it is really tough to call a ball or a strike in an imaginary ball game.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Not Normal

To break up a long day of driving on our trip, we stopped at a children's museum in Normal, Illinois.  We didn't have a chance to check out the town, although I'm certain if we did there would be a t-shirt shop with lots of funny plays on Normal's good name. Which is so lame, going for the easy laugh.

Instead, we hung out for a few hours and built with water pipes and painted on windows.  You know, normal museum stuff.  (Ha!)
On our way out of Normal, passing through the suburbs (Subnormal), we stopped to grab a coffee.  David noticed some Rice Krispie treats which were served in sugar cones and we mutually mourned the food allergies that prevent us from getting such treats.  So today, I took the boys to the store and we bought ingredients to make our own food allergy safe version.  Everyone was very excited and when the treats were prepared, Matthew quickly took a bite of his cone.
I snapped this photo and then Matthew announced, "Ewww.  I don't like Rice Krispie treats."  Which is abnormal if I've ever seen it. I guess it is back to making the apple cucumber popsicles that recently repulsed our playdate guests!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Chicago by foot

Going out of order here . . . oh well.  Our first stop on our road trip was in Chicago.  We've taken the boys to Chicago quite a few times, in large part because we have luxurious and affordable lodging thanks to my super generous sister-in-law and brother-in-law (thanks Ellen and Stacy!)  Matthew doesn't remember our previous visits, however, so he was suitably impressed with Navy Pier while Cameron is, for the most part, over it.  Cameron declined a carousel ride while Matthew wave enthusiastically each time he passed by.
Even Cameron got a kick out of the bendy mirrors, though.  They never fail to delight, no matter how many times you've seen yourself stretched out or squashed short and fat.
I think this is my favorite photo from the whole vacation -- Matthew and his Daddy.
The next morning, anticipating our long car ride, we walked around the city.  Cameron was keen to see where Obama gave his victory speech, so we headed for Grant Park.  It was a long walk, which began with an enthusiastic Cameron who became a "I can't make it any further" Cameron about halfway who morphed into a rallying Cameron when we finally reached our destination.
But then we had to walk back.  Aaaand, we had forgotten to bring a stroller so we were lugging Matthew most of the way.  In good news, I had reached my 10,000 steps on my pedometer before 9am.  And, we all made it back, despite some claims that we surely would not because we couldn't go on one. more. step.  And no one complained about sitting in the car for hours later that day!

New Glarus revisited

Ah, New Glarus, Wisconsin.  We salute you!
Perhaps you haven't heard of New Glarus, but we couldn't wait to go back after visiting there three summers ago.  The boys great-great-great-grandfather was one of the original settlers, so there's the historical interest, of course.

And then there's the brewery.

I'm not much of a beer drinker, but three years ago we toured the New Glarus Brewery and not only was it fascinating, but it was delicious.  I am still mourning that the Bourbon Barrel Bock was a special "Unplugged" beer that I will never get to drink again.  So we headed back, this time to the new Hilltop location, and took another tour.  And a taste or three.  Matthew actually snapped the photo above -- he's pretty good with a camera, huh?

Until he's had a few rootbeers, that is.
Then he gets sloppy.
Either that or artistic.  There was a series of about a dozen "rootbeer bottle and lunchbox" shots that Matthew took, at varying angles and focuses.  Then we cut him off from both the camera and the rootbeer.

We should have cut Cameron off as well, it turns out.
Wowzers!  That rootbeer has some kick!

After a stop in the gift shop, we headed to a putt putt course.
Yes.  That is a goat on the putt putt course.  We were in Wisconsin.
We finished off the evening at the Glarner Stube, our only meal out of the trip.  The boys got crazy with some more rootbeer and David and I shared an indulgent cheese fondue.  Cameron tried it, but declared it unpalatable.  Which was totally okay -- more for me.

So next time you're in Wisconsin, take my advice.  Make a visit to New Glarus.  And bring something back from the gift shop for me.

Lego maniacs

If our trip was about basketball for Matthew, it was about Legos for Cameron.  Before we left, Cameron found a Legoland Chicago coupon in a magazine.  He came running to me.  "Mommy!  A coupon for a free child's admission to Legoland!  Can we go?"

"Oh, Cameron, I'm sorry!" I said, "We're not going . . . " And then I had a moment of clarity.  Why couldn't we?  So, like the awesome mom that I am, I said, "You know what?  Let's do it!  We're going to Legoland!"

So we did.  And, as expected, it was Legotastic.

Matthew, as kindly as possible, spurned the advances of a Legoland jungle guide.
We encountered some fierce creatures but always managed to get away unscathed.
(Notice that Legoland jungle guide.  After Matthew's rejection, she started after my husband!)
Except for Matthew, who was permanently traumatized and brought to tears by this lion, who roars when you put your head in his mouth.  Not cool, Lego Lion.
I missed a great photo op, when Matthew waved his hand high in the air and was selected to push the button during the Lego factory tour.  I was oblivious, deleting bad photos from the camera, until after the button was pushed and the woman next to me said, "Did you get it?"  And I was like, "Uh, get what?"
Oh well. You win some, you lose some.  As the boys discovered on the Lego race track.
We finished up the adventure posing with some of our favorite characters while Cameron said, "Aren't you glad I thought of this?"
And I am.  It was a scream!

Slam dunkeroo

We went on a road trip this past weekend, hitting four states in as many days.  We were headed to Wisconsin to celebrate a family wedding and a family anniversary.  If we were going to drive all that way, we decided, we'd plan some fun side trips along the way.  Matthew brought along his basketball, which proved to be the highlight of the trip for him.  He dribbled his basketball everywhere we went, drawing constant commentary from amazed onlookers.  I can't count how many times someone said, "How old is he?" or "Wow!  He is GOOD at that!" or "He's got talent!"  And he does.

When Matthew spotted this basketball court in New Glarus, Wisconsin, he headed straight to it.  We played for a while, with Matthew constantly imploring David to "do a slam dunk." 

"I can't, Matthew!" said David.

Matthew looked at him with pity and said, "When I get bigger, I'll teach you how to slam dunk, Daddy!"

Friday, July 9, 2010


It has been really hot.  The more time spent at the pool, the better!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Boys are Back

It's sort of rough to adjust back to everyday life after a no-kid vacation, even if it was only a few days.  All week I felt slightly put out when I woke up and realized that no one was going to serve me quiche on the porch.  Pour my own cereal?  And cereal for the boys??? And instead of lounging by the pool, I was shouting "No running on deck!" to a cackling, unrepentant Matthew during Cameron's swim lessons.

But it was also good to be back with my boys, back in our routine of bike rides and books and bathing suits.

Of course, interspersed with all my actual parenting was a ridiculous amount of Montessori-related reading.  My mind, it turns out, is not effortlessly absorbent.  No, my mind tires of talk of spiritual embryos and refinement of the senses after a few pages.  Nonetheless, it's sinking in.  This I know because at our rockin' transracial adoption playgroup I watched the kids play hide and seek and refrained from lecturing the other parents on how the children are so obviously in the sensitive period for order.  I have got to find some time for some non-Montessori reading or I am going to be no fun to hang out with at all.