Sunday, December 18, 2011


The other day, Cameron and I were driving to school, just the two of us.  "You know what?"  Cameron said from the backseat.  "When I was in preprimary, everyone knew Matthew was my brother.  But in elementary, some of the kids haven't seen Matthew before.  Lots of times, when they do see him, they say, 'Who's that kid?'"
"What do you say to them?" I asked. 

"I say, 'That's my little brother, Matthew.'  And then they usually say, 'How is he your brother?' I think because Matthew's black and I'm white."

"I think you're right," I said.  "Lots of kids aren't used to seeing brothers that have different skin colors.  What do you say when kids say that?"

"Well," said Cameron, "I just tell them!  He's my brother because I adopted him!"

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Beginning, revisited

Last week, we had an amazing experience.  We took Matthew back to the hospital he was born at, so he could see where he was before he came home with us.  He's seen the photos and he always has questions -- where's that room?  where's that tiny bottle?  who took care of me? 

So I contacted a social worker at the hospital and told her what I wanted to do.  She came through in a BIG way!  Matthew was able to see the very room where we took our first family photo, the very nursery where Cameron first saw him, the very rocking chair that we first held him in.  The nurse who had taken care of him remembered him and wrote him a beautiful letter.  The social worker gave him a tiny baby bottle and a knit hat like the one he came home in.  Matthew was fascinated by it all and it brought back so many happy memories for the rest of our family.  And as soon as we got home, Matthew stretched the little hat over his great big head, filled the tiny bottle with water and requested that I rock and feed him like a tiny baby.  Which I did, but I will resist the urge to post the photo here, lest he be embarassed by it when he's a teenager!

Saturday, November 26, 2011


For a Thanksgiving treat, we took the boys to their first University of Michigan hockey home game.  They were so excited to see the action up close and we enjoyed reliving our college days.  But outings with children are a little different than those in college.

As we walked to the game, I reached in the pocket of my Michigan sweatshirt and found a piece of paper on which Cameron had written "Weapons for sale, 2 for $1000."  "Oh," he said, "that was for Lego weapons."

"Uh oh," I joked, "if they find this on me I'm going to get arrested."

Surreptitiously, Cameron slid his hand towards me and whispered, "Give it to me.  They won't arrest a kid."

Thankfully, neither of us was arrested.

 After the end of the first period, we watched the Zamboni clearing the ice.  Up on the scoreboard, the timer ticked down.  Finally, Cameron turned to me and said, "So, there are three periods in hockey right?" 

"Right," I answered.

He pointed at the time and said, "Sooooo is the second period just with the Zamboni?"


When the real second period started, I was cheering for the Wolverines when Cameron said, "Oh no!  Oh no!  Mom!  My shoe!"  Cameron had slipped off one of his shoes and it was now . . . gone.  It slid down to no man's land.  We waited until the end of the game and David approached an usher who immediately said, "Whaddya drop?"  Turns out Cameron is not the first child to lose a shoe at the ice arena and it was quickly retrieved, saving him  a long hop to the car.


Before the third period, Matthew needed to use the bathroom.  David took him but the line was long and I guess men don't let small children cut to the front.  The line turned out to be too long.


At the end of the game, we had lost.  A man a few rows in front of us was . . . unhappy . . . with the outcome and shared his displeasure vocally.  Cameron leaned over and whispered, "I feel like I should go say, 'Calm down.  It's just a game.'"

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Reach for the stars

Cameron brings his spelling list home on Thursday and we quiz him on the words a few times before his spelling test the following Thurday.  This week he brought home his list and I began.  "Cameron, spell straight." 


"Spell laid." 


"Spell waitress."  At this point, I started to think it was a little funny that these three words were on his list. 

Then, as Cameron said, "W-a-i-t-r-e-s-s," I glanced down the list to see "disease" and "cheater!"

Concerned parent that I am, I e-mailed his teacher immediately.  "I am appalled by the words on this week's spelling list.  Apparently, you don't think Cameron is capable of spelling 'philanderer.'"

Book boys

There was recently a book fair at the boys' school and each had a chance to visit it and make a "wish list."

I love books. Good books.  And I want my boys to love good books, too.  Cameron is an avid reader and Matthew loves to be read to, so I am hopeful.  But when you are four years old, sometimes there are things you care about more than good literature.

Cameron's list included a book about algebra and geometry, Shel Silverstein's Everything on It, and reference book about rocks and minerals and National Geographic's Treasury of Greek Mythology.  Matthew's list?  Star Wars Villains, Star Wars Darth Maul's Mission, Star Wars The Hunt for Grievous and Star Wars 3D

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wish list

Matthew wants a baby sister.  He tells me nearly every day now and is unswayed by all obstacles.  HE would change the baby's diapers.  HE would hold the baby when she cries.  HE would put the baby to bed and THEN he'd put himself to bed.

This morning, Matthew told me he also wants a computer.  "Really?" I said  "What would you do with the computer?"

"Play games," he answered.

"Hmmm," I said, "a computer and a baby sister, huh?"


"If you only got to choose one," I asked out of sheer curiosity, "which would you choose?"

"A baby sister," he answered immediately.  "No, wait.  I changed my mind.  A football game for the Wii."

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Brothers. Super Mario Brothers.

One of my favorite parts of the year is choosing and making the boys' Halloween costumes.  But this year, they decided that they wanted to go as Mario and Luigi.  I spent hours thinking about how I'd make their costumes -- how much do a pair of overalls cost?  felt for the hats?  accessories?  And it was adding up to a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money.  And I knew I could get these costumes (not as cute, not as detailed, not as "I'm a good mom"-y) for about $20 a pop.  And I decided to give myself permission to let this go this year.  I ordered the costumes and they arrived one evening while I was off at my writing circle.  When I came home, the boys were asleep and David told me that they loved their store bought costumes.  And then, he showed me this series of photos that they staged. 

1.  Hello sir!  We are Mario and Luigi!

 2.  We hear you have a plumbing problem.  Not to worry!
 3.  Here it is.  Here is the problem.  My sink does not work!
 4.  Aha!  It's this pipe!  I'll use a screwdriver to repair it!  (Alternatively, Look at this mess!  Doesn't your wife ever clean the counters?)
 5.  We'll just tighten this . . . and replace that  . . . and . . .
 6.  Ta-da!  Good as new!  That'll be $794.
 7.  See you later, paesano!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Call me King

It's been a rough, rough week.  Matthew has been sick all week long, and I am exhausted.  There's been a lot of laying on the cough and watching TV this week and, since it's Matthew, that has meant watching the same football games over and over.  We also broke out More than a Game, the documentary about LeBron James, just to mix it up a little.
One afternoon, Matthew said to me, "Mommy, you're just like LeBron James except you're a girl." 

It's true.  I get stopped on the streets all. the. time. with people asking for my autograph or complaining about how I betrayed Cleveland. 

Friday, September 30, 2011

Or twelve

As we drove to school the other day, Matthew asked, "How old will I be when I drive a car?"

"Sixteen," I said.

"Oh my GOSH," he bellowed, "that's in like FIVE HUNDRED YEARS!"

Monday, September 26, 2011


Yeesh, has it really been TEN days since I posted?  Sorry, Mom.

So, the other day Matthew and I stopped at Panera.  As I balanced my tray and carried Matthew's lunch box and held our two cups -- what, do I have four hands? -- Matthew dashed ahead of me, darting through the crowd at knee-height and below tray level.  "Matthew!" I called as he cut in front of a woman, "Matthew!  Stop!  People can't see you!"  Then I glanced at the woman, ready to apologize.  "Linda!"  It was my friend Linda, from writing circle!  "Matthew!  Come here, I want you to meet my friend!  This is Linda!" 

Linda and I chatted briefly and then Matthew and I found a table outside.  As we were finishing our lunches, Matthew said, "Where's grandma?"

"Michigan," I answered.

"Noooooo, where's GRANDMA?" he persisted.

Both of Matthew's grandmas, Grandma Linda and Grandma T, live in Michigan.  But there is also great-grandma, who lives in Florida.  "Great-grandma?" I said, "She is in Florida."

Matthew was now visibly agitated.  He pointed to the door and said, "NO.  WHERE . . . IS . . . GRANDMA?"

And suddenly, I understood.  Grandma Linda.  My friend Linda.  "Do you mean LINDA?" I asked.

"Yes," he sighed with relief.  "Linda.  That's right.  Linda.  Not Grandma."

Friday, September 16, 2011


Today, Matthew's teacher told me in private that he was not particularly focused this morning and that she had asked him multiple times to choose a work.  After about the fourth time, he responded with a gruff, "I KNOW, that's WHAT I'm DOING!"  This is okay -- he is in a Montessori classroom, it's his first year, it's understood.

I didn't discuss it with him. 

Later in the day, I heard this conversation between David and Matthew:

David: What work did you do at school today, Matthew?
Matthew: Eh, I mostly just wandered around and didn't do any work.
David: You . . . wandered around?
Matthew: Yeah. Well, most of the time. Most of the time I just wandered around and stuff. But I did do one work!
David: What work did you do?
Matthew: It is something called "challenging work."

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Thespian vs. Athlete

Cameron has joined a drama club and one of his first tasks is to create a character for the play they will put on.  This morning he was mulling over the possibilities.

Cameron:  Maybe I could be a talking plant!  And we could make leaves from felt and I could wear a green shirt . . .

Matthew:  Oh!  Oh!  Cameron!  You could be the Michigan Wolverines!  No!  The New England Patriots!

Cameron:  Uh, Matthew, the Wolverines are college football and the Patriots are NFL.  Hey!  I could be a teacher and I could wear glasses and a button shirt.

Matthew:  Oh!  Pittsburgh Steelers!  Be the Pittsburgh Steelers!

Cameron:  And I could have a pencil behind my ear and I could be a teacher who doesn't know anything like "1 plus 1 is 18!"


It's a tough choice.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Cameron and I are reading Philip Hoose's excellent book, We Were There, Too!  The book explores American history from 1492 to recent times, all from the stories of real children who lived through the events.  Tonight, we read one of the first stories, about Columbus' voyage on the Santa Maria and the Tanios people who lived on the islands he "discovered."  The text describes how the Tanios had small yellow dogs that did not bark, called alcos.  "They are now extinct," I read to Cameron.

"Really?"  he said.  "Did they have those when you were little?"

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Big boy goodbyes

Matthew started going to his new preschool about a week ago.  He's loving it and has happily said goodbye to me every morning.  This morning, as usual, I bent down to give him a hug before I left.  He glanced around uncomfortably and, from a few feet away, gave me a little wave.  "Bye Mom."
"Can I have my hug?" I said.

"Moooommmm," he muttered as I knelt with my arms spread foolishly.

"So . . . can I have a high five?"  He reluctantly high fived me and hurried off to join his friends.

Tonight, he told me that I can hug him anytime.  At home.  Not at school.  But, if I would like to give him a fist bump and say, "Blow it up!" when I drop him off at school, that would be acceptable.

Friday, August 26, 2011


Today, I was driving along, listening to NPR while Matthew sat in the backseat playing with an Etch-a-Sketch.  I didn't realize Matthew was also listening to the radio until the interviewee said of his teenage years, "Oh, I was completely inept.  I didn't know anything about women."

From the back I heard Matthew's gravelly little voice, "He didn't know ANYTHING about women?  I know about women.  I KNOW about women."  And then he began to sing a little tune, "I know women, I know women, I know women."

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Questions and Answers

The start of the school year is approaching and that means that Matthew and I are doing a lot of rehearsing.  There are lots of questions that Matthew needs to be ready to answer that most kids don't, and we want him to be prepared.  Here's how this morning went:

Me:  Matthew, what would you say if your friend said, 'Do you want to try my cookies?'"
Matthew:  No. 

Me:  Why not?
Matthew:  Because I have food allergies.

Me:  What if you accidentally ate something you shouldn't and you were getting bumps?
Matthew:  Tell the teacher!  Tell the teacher I need my Benadryl!

Me:  What if someone says, "That can't be your mommy, she doesn't look like you!"
Matthew:  Don't have to look alike to be a family.  Love makes a family.

At this point, I'm feeling pretty good.

Me:  What if they say, "But WHY don't you look like your mommy?"
Matthew:  Well . . . because some people are from Chicago!  And some people grow in another mommy that makes them different!

Note that Matthew is not from Chicago.  We'll be working on this answer!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Stage 4, Trip 2

To break up the endlessly long drive home, we spent some time in South Bend, Indiana, at the College Football Hall of Fame.  There was a lot to see there . . .

And even more to do there.

The boys loved it.  A lot.  Matthew lost it both in the gift shop when we cruelly declined to purchase him his own helmet and out on the practice field when we cruelly insisted that we get back in the car as we still had approximately eleventy nine hours of driving left. 

As always, a long car ride with kids becomes an even longer car ride, so about twelvty nine hours later we finally arrived at our home.  Trip 2 complete.

Stage 3, Trip 2

Same lake, different beach.  Next stop was Ludington, Michigan.  We spent our first evening enjoying the beach and watching the sunset.

Again, David's willingness to take a goofy photo is one of the things I find most endearing about him.
 The next day, we went to the sand dunes.  The hike to the lake was awesome and exciting!  The hike back . . . sorta long.

That's Cameron up there.  He was the only family member willing to go to the top of this mammoth dune!

The next day was the big day -- the day one of my best friends in the world would get married!  After spending hours washing sand off of two boys, we were ready.  The setting, on Lake Michigan, was gorgeous.  The weather was gorgeous.  The boys looked gorgeous.  Then Cameron looked at the wedding program.  Readings, vows, rings . . . wait.  The Kiss?!?!
"Matthew, there's kissing!"
It was these two.  They kissed.  For real.  I won't make you look at that photo . . . ewww!

Think about something else, think about something else . . . the reception!
Matthew slept.
Cameron danced.
Then, the bride and groom arrived and the party really got started!

Stage 2, Trip 2

The next stage of our trip was Chicago, where the fun began at the Adler Planetarium.
 This was awesome, as there were loads of opportunities to take funny photos.  And isn't that what vacation is all about?

 Matthew had little interest in the activities actually designed to teach you about space, aside from pumping this rocket launcher.
 This display was awesome.  Paper and pencils were provided so that you could post your own response to "I want to be the first ____ on the moon." 
 I swear, I did not write this response.
 But Maxine totally stole my answer.  I  have always hoped to be the first author to write a memoir about my experience as a fashion-designing dolphin trainer on the moon.
And who could resist an opportunity to write 'fart' and stick it up on the wall of a planetarium?  I mean, the Adler was practically begging for that answer when they created this display.
Cameron got to experience what it would be like to walk on the moon while Matthew stood nearby and bemoaned the fact that he was not tall enough.  "But I AM!  I AM big enough!"
 It was fun.
 The next day, we went to the Field Museum.  We walked in and Matthew said, "I want to go home."  Cameron enjoyed it, though.

 We took the water taxi that day, ferry about from museums to Navy Pier to Michigan Ave to the Willis Tower.  It was a super fun way to travel!

 That night, we stayed up late so we could go on the Navy Pier ferris wheel at night.  You can't tell, but we are on the ferris wheel.  Really.
 For our last day in Chicago, we went to the beach.  The boys loved jumping in the waves, insisting on swimming even when they were chattering with cold.
 Finally, they took a break from the water to build a few sand castles.
The next day, we would leave the shores of Lake Michigan to . . . drive along the shore of Lake Michigan and . . . spend some time on the beach and in the sand.