Creative Tinkerer

Cam’s now closer to 5 than 4 (which is CRAZY!) and his natural talents and preferences are starting to shine through.

For one, his creative skills seem to be progressing quickly. He took to coloring and drawing later than I would have expected and later than some of his peers. He would pick up a pen and a coloring book and spend a minute or so on it, then move along.

But of late, he’s been drawing the things in his head, working through the details and sometimes starting over a couple times. He’s also been spending time on coloring projects and it’s been paying off.

Here are a couple samples:

First, his rainbow tree from school today. What I love about it is that he’s filling in the shapes with his own ideas instead of just filling each space with a single color. Plus, it’s so bright and cheery.

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And here are his workout suggestions from this past weekend where he put together an exercise routine for us to try out in the living room. I was impressed by his attention on how to communicate movements.

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We actually did these, by the way, and I was sweating at the end. Side planks, headstands, squats…. and just laying on our backs wiggling our hands and feet in the air.

He is also a tinkerer–for better or worse!

The most time he has ever spent at one activity has been the times when he’s building a structure, or a trap, or a container, or a game board that mimics one of his ipad games. He is laser-focused on finding materials and constructing or recreating the things he’s observed.

How that translates is Cam running through the house with string, boxes, tape, blocks, containers, scissors (yes, running with scissors) in an intense need to do what’s on his mind.

And he’s good at it too.

Examples:

When he wrapped up literally every movable object in his room for Lauren to open for her birthday.

And on Mother’s Day when he abruptly decided he wanted his treasure chest to be suspended above his tree house. He succeeded in executing that idea by running twine around various poles and branches and pulling it tight and tying about 30 knots.

We were all quite impressed by that one.

Even right now, there is a lego cube containing 2 of Demi’s stuffed animals suspended in our orange tree.

When I say “for better or worse” his tinkering and curiosity has gotten him into trouble as well.

Presently, Inny’s candles from her front room are missing. We also narrowly missed an expensive plumbing bill for all the things he stuffed down Brett and Regina’s master bath shower drain. In the past he has also put jewelry and other objects into grandma Monkey’s toilet. Not to mention all the containers of mine he’s repurposed for his projects and the 17 rolls of tape we’ve gone through in the past month.

Ultimately, I’ll take the good with the bad while I marvel at his development and can’t help but think about where his creativity and curiosity will take him.

It’s All in the Numbers

Let’s start off by saying I’m glad Cam can’t tell time yet. He also doesn’t seem to have an opinion on what is “a lot” or “little” so I still for now have the freedom of saying we had a lot of sweets when we had the right amount, or that we only have a little time before bed and I can pick whatever amount of time I want.

But, he is getting better at it. He’s better at counting, can recognize most numbers, write some of them, and has heard certain recurring times enough that he knows 8:00ish is time to get ready for bed and 9:00ish is too late.

One thing I really love is when he tries to say the biggest number he knows. It makes no sense and it’s great.

Here we are discussing how long Bugs Bunny takes to eat a carrot (an astute observation that he never finishes the carrot, if I might add):

If you look close enough you’ll see he’s struggling to focus on me at this close distance–which is what we’re trying to correct with his glasses.

Anyway, the conversation was cute and he cracks me up… and that’s all folks!

Night Terrors

Okay, so Demi actually does get night terrors, maybe once every other week, but what I’m actually referring to with the title of the post is my children. My perfect little angel faces that seem to have a tough time going to bed lately. And staying in bed. Any bed. Pick a bed. If only they would just stay in a bed.

Tonight was a fine example.

Joe went out for a rare meet-up plus drinks with an old friend. He left the house at 7:45 as we were wrapping up bath time. The following 1.75 hours nearly broke my spirit.

First up was Demi. In addition to the usual antics (telling me she wasn’t tired after telling me she was tired and asking for bread which she stuffed into her mouth in one bite), she also went through the following excuses to not go to sleep:

  • “Me want my daddy”
  • “Where is my daddy?”
  • “Why?”
  • “Where Coco?”
    • I then proceeded to turn the house upside down looking for Coco and as I was giving up with Demi whining in the other room, Cam confessed he hid Coco behind Demi’s bed
  • “Where Hattie?”
    • Hattie was quite a bit easier to find thank god
  • “Me blanket”
    • I pulled up the sheet only because it’s a warm night
  • “No, other blanket”
    • I pulled up the second blanket
  • “I have a snaggle”
    • Last time she said that, she actually did have a giant rip in her fingernail that was snagging the sheets, so mom guilt from that caused me to turn on lights and clip her non-existent snaggle
  • “Brother coughing. Too loud.”
    • Seriously!?
  • “Where’s my daddy? Me sad. Me want my daddy.”
  • “Me pinotail in my way” (followed by a fake cry)

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Next up was Cam.

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Since Demi took so long to fall asleep, he got more than just his “20 minutes of cartoons” which always makes him extra greedy for more. I warned him before putting Demi to bed that we’d have to turn the TV off immediately after I came out and he agreed that was okay (“unless it’s really close to the end,right mom?”). So, of course, I turn off the TV and tears.

My next move was to tell Cam all about crazy Demi so he would potentially act more mature about bedtime and cut mom a break. It seemed as though it was going to go that way because he calmed down and then:

  • “I must not have had enough dinner”
    • Gave him a cheese stick
  • “I’m still hungry”
    • I explain it takes time for cheese sticks to travel to the stomach
  • He pours his blue cup of water from dinner into Demi’s pink cup from dinner so he could reclaim the pink cup he wanted so bad. Then he drinks the contents. Lo and behold the pink cup had a sprinkling of mom and dad’s salad topping (which included chili flakes) and he proceeds to lose his mind over the burning. Tears, running around, gargling water, crying, asking how long it’s going to burn. After 4 cups of water and 1 cup of milk, he says it’s a little better.
  • “I have to go to the bathroom”
  • “I don’t think I got it all out”
  • “Where’s Bun-Bun? I can’t sleep without Bun-Bun.”
    • I systematically tear apart his room, then check the living room, then check the back patio and begin to lose my mind. I tell Cam I can’t find Bun-Bun but Elephantie would love a snuggle and he starts wailing. A few minutes later I tell him I can’t do anything about it, start arranging his sheets and find the coveted Bun-Bun.
  • Cam asks if we can snuggle, of course we can, and he nuzzles his head into my chin and continues burrowing until I’m hanging off the bed.

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Between my mental notes that “change gon’ come” and “how much longer do I have to balance my body on the edge of the bed?” I attempted to summon some gratitude. It was a good day, my crazy kids are healthy, there is a bottle of wine on the counter and I will too soon be handing my keys to my teenager, so I’d better suck it up and enjoy it for what it is.

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Popalops and Pinotails

I’m already rolling into Demi Says, Part 2! Why? Because Daddy-O and I each independently observed her language explosion over the last couple weeks and were discussing how surprised we were that she was communicating so well, and with improving sentence structure and vocabulary in general.

Now I know I already noted that she calls lollipops “popalops” but I hadn’t already noted that she calls ponytails “pinotails” (pronounced pee-no-tails). I decided if she ever has her own blog it should be called Popalops and Pinotails and she’d at least have one devoted reader. I wish she would call them popalops and pinotails forever.

Here’s a photo of Daddy-O’s best pinotails to date:

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Some others:

Yesterday, Demi had a fever the whole day. It rose and then we gave her medicine (“meh-sin”) and it came down again, all day and all night long. This morning as I was tip-toeing around the house getting ready for work and trying not to wake the recovering patient, she quietly walked into the kitchen and startled me with “Hi Mama!” to which I accidentally slipped out, “Sh*t!”

After I gained my composure and gave her a hug. I asked her how she was doing. She said “me all betta, no more feeber.” She definitely wasn’t 100%, but she was right that the fever broke and she must have felt better.

It made my mommy heart happy that she at least sort of understood the situation and her condition. I think it bodes well for minimizing the tantrum phase if she can process these kinds of concepts and give feedback that we understand and can respond to.

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Tonight, when I got on the road after work, I called the fam to check in. I can surprisingly have a back and forth with Demi which goes something like this:

D: Mama almost home?
Me: Almost, I’ll be home soon.
D: Where are you?
Me: On the freeway, I’ll be home in just a little bit.
D: All done working?
Me: Yes, all done working.
D: I love you.
Me: melty and swooning as much over her conversation as over her itty bitty little phone voice.

At that point, it was a little after 6 and Demi told Joe she was tired. I was bummed to hear this because that meant if she actually fell asleep that early, I wouldn’t get to see her.

When I got home at about 7, I tried to make a quiet entrance and she came running around the corner. I greeted her and said, “I thought you were going to bed, what happened?” She responded with, “I climb out of bed mama.”

Oh how I love how simple and matter of fact kids can be.

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Other words/phrases/sentences/commands she has tackled pretty successfully:

  • Garage door open mama
  • Me hungry now mama, breakfast
  • Like it! or Mila like it! or Me like it! or Mama like it!?
  • Careful mama
  • Demi self, Demi do it, Demi turn
  • Great Grandma Bernice gave her a Goldilocks and the 3 Bears book that had a little stuffed Goldilocks with it. The other day she pulled the book out and asked “Me Goldilocks?” to ask where her doll was. Seriously she said Goldilocks.
  • Daddy do brother laundry. All dirty. Jacket dirty.
  • Monkey gave it to me
  • Santa gave it to me
  • Raaaaaaining! Poooooouring!

I absolutely love listening to her talk, free-form, after we read books and turn off the lights. She often rambles about her day and says really cute sweet things that I just respond with “oh yeah?” and “very good” and “thank you for telling me” because they really are stream-of-consciousness with a bunch of nouns in a row like “Inny, Poppy, Larson, Baby Steely, brother funny,” and then she usually caps it off with a “me happy” or “I love you mama.”

Mommy Happy?

This morning, as with most Tuesdays and Wednesdays, I got up a little after 6 and got ready for work on tiptoes so as not to wake anyone. I was out the door by 7:20, commuted in the rain, pushed through 9 hours of work, commuted home, and then when I pulled into the driveway, the kids were in my car before I could even get out of it. At which point we were off to the races…

Some evenings are hectic. Even when we follow a nice predictable routine, and even on the days when I work in Carlsbad and don’t get home in time for the whole thing.

Tonight though, I was present for most of it and Joe and I stuffed several things into a couple short hours including dinner, showers, dishes, lunch prep, coloring, a little whining and fighting, a dog walk, multiple water spills, toothbrushing, reading and finally lights out.

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I laid with Demi and Joe laid with Cam.

I was relieved to be taking a pause.

As Demi started to settle, she laid her head on my chest and said “Mommy happy”… it was halfway between a question and a statement.

I answered her, “Yes baby, you know why? Because I love you and we had a good night and now I get to cuddle with you.”

She then said, this time distinctly as a statement, “me happy too.”

And added, “brother happy too.”

What a way to end the day, with a little perspective from my almost two year old. She melted me and helped me forget the hustle and nonsense of the day while I happily, contentedly listened to her drift off to sleep.

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Being Brave

CamO is a bit of a worrier. He also doesn’t like change. This combination makes for tough days when we have to conquer something different or new.

To set the stage, there were a couple things going on.

First, for the last 3-4 months, Cam has been squinting one eye to be able to see better, especially at night and especially at things that are close up–when we’re reading books before bed, when he’s coloring, when you hold something up to show him. Here’s a photo of him just trying to focus on the camera (I only noticed this later):

Cam SquintingAt our 4-year checkup at his regular doctor’s office they tested his eyes for distance (which he did fine) and said they weren’t able to assess his close-up vision. So, we made an appointment at a pediatric eye doctor nearby.

Meanwhile, at his pre-school, his teachers were ready to move him up a level. He would be going from “red line” to “blue line” which is basically moving from the second oldest group of kids to the oldest at that preschool. The blue-liners are the ones getting ready for kindergarten. The idea of this had Camden in tears, both at school and at home whenever we talked about it. As a red-liner, he had the company of his friend Benson and he also had recently become close with a girl named Kaya (a different Kaya, not neighbor Kaya) and he really didn’t want to leave them or his known routine.

Here’s a photo from his birthday celebration at school, surrounded by his red-liners:

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As fate would have it, D-day for both of these activities fell on the same day. The night before I told him stories of times I had to be brave as a kid hoping that would help him. I reminded him that at the eye doctor it would be mostly games–no shots, nothing that would hurt, and that daddy wouldn’t leave his side. He still cried.

So, at work last Tuesday I was having a hard time focusing thinking about my little guy.

As reported by Daddy-O, Cam did great. He became a blue-liner with ease. There was really nothing to report on the school front because he simply did as he was told. Neighbor Kaya was already a blue-liner so he had a built-in friend.

The eye appointment took a whopping two hours and required a ton of patience. They also had to put eyedrops in his eyes at some point and surprisingly that wasn’t a big deal. Cam forged through and at the end of it picked out some new glasses. He is farsighted right now, meaning he can see far things clearly, but he can’t see close-up. The glasses should help him in the short-term, but they’re hoping that since his eyes are still developing that if he strengthens his eye muscles (by not squinting and actually using the “bad eye”) his vision will improve.

I hope that as Cam gets over these speed bumps he will recognize his own bravery and that he will be less worried and fearful of other challenges.

Of course Joe and I were very proud of him and very relieved. And, Cam is going to be the cutest glasses-wearing blue-liner in all of La Mesa!

Trying on Glasses

Demi Says

A while back I started the series “Cam Says” because so many things out of his mouth inspired laughter or surprise or even amazement.

Demi is now a hilarious little chatterbox herself with her own clever ways of communicating. I feel like she’s picked up language and communication so quickly that I’ve already missed recapping stages of her language development including the cute way words come out before they start sounding like the real word.

So, to pause time right now at 22 months, these are some of her words, phrases, sounds, etc.

  • Santa Claus gave her a new baby doll for Christmas. We asked her what her baby’s name was and without hesitation she said, “Coco.” And since Christmas, most days she recaps to us: “Baby Coco, Santa Claus, sweet boy.” If it isn’t obvious, that means she got her baby Coco from Santa and he is a sweet boy for giving it to her.
  • Also during the holidays, we had a blowup helicopter on the roof with Santa waving out the front window, frosty waving out the back and a spinning propeller. Every day at least twice she asked to go outside and see the “calculare”. That was helicopter. Sounded more like calculator. But we knew what she meant.
  • Other holiday related conversations: “Elfie gone,” “Santa, roof,” “Dee-ah (deer), Bumble?” “Broken, batteries.” “Mickey Mouse!” (neighbors had a 8′ tall blow-up Mickey), “tree sad” (ours got extra crispy).
  • Lollipops = Popalops … OMG this is a cute one to hear.
  • She has many different books featuring animals, one of which has a donkey that says “Hee-haw” and she “hee-haws” with the best of ’em.
  • It is no secret our children like milk. A lot. And because they ask for it so much, sometimes we water it down. Demi now thinks milk always gets water. So as you’re prepping her milk, she coaches you through the process: “Bottle. Milk. Water in it.”
  • A month or two ago, she said I love you for the first time. It sounded like, “Allo you” and now, after a little practice, she says it clearly and frequently, “I love you.” It is often proceeded by “Hi mama.” And she’ll repeat the two phrases a few times just melting me right into a puddle.
  • Typical phone conversation when I’m leaving work to drive for an hour and want to check in on the family: Demi: “Hi mama! I love you!” Me: “Hi baby, how are you?” Demi: “Almost home?”
  • When Joe had a pretty bad cold a couple weeks ago, Demi asked if she could check on him. She’d say “check daddy” and then she’d go to the doorway and holler for him, “daddy okay!?” quite loudly. She now does that regularly, checking in on brother or daddy and yelling into a room “brother okay?” or “daddy okay?”
  • When you tell her something is broken or sick or not feeling well, she’ll give a sad face and say “huggie?” How can you resist a huggie request? You can’t.
  • On work days when I come into the house from my office she asks “work done?”
  • She knows when I want “more coffee”.
  • She sits on the counter in the morning while I make breakfast and reaches over and opens the blinds and asks, “betta’ mommy?” Yes Demi, betta. For Joe, she likes retrieving hats for him and demanding he put them on and then she asks in a sugary sweet voice, “betta daddy? Cozy?”
  • Same for when she’s seated next to our water dispenser. She first asks “water, mommy?” And I’ll say “okay”. And then she prompts me to say please by saying “please?” So I say please. Then she fills up a cup and hands it over. When I finish she asks, “more water?” And repeat until I’m overly hydrated.
  • She says “bless you” when people sneeze.
  • She says “thank you” when you do her a favor.
  • She says “excuse me” when she needs you to move.
  • She says “sorry” even when it’s Cam’s turn to say sorry. “Sawee brudder.”
  • If anyone is climbing on anything, most particularly an adult on a ladder she demands they be careful, “careful daddy!”
  • When we play our kid-friendly regular music, she requests the “meow meow” song and then shortly after she requests Cam’s favorite song, which he’s always referred to as the “Beat Boys” so she asks for “Bee Boys mommy?” It’s actually Drift Away by Uncle Cracker and I’ve heard it no fewer than 200 times in the last 5 months.
  • As of the last several days she has gone into “myself” and “own” mode much more aggressively than Cam ever did, so far as I can remember. She wants to get her “own diapa” and do things “Demi self” and if you get too close to what she’s doing she gets mad quickly.
  • Most frequent phrases include:
    • “See mommy?” or “see daddy?” or “see brudder?”
    • “Brudder funny”
    • “Brudder anything”
    • “Hungy” which already is turning into “Hungry”
  • She talks about going to “Monkey house” and “Gina house” frequently.
  • When I ask what she did today, she says “Inny house. Poppy. Lawson.”
  • When she talks on her phone she says “Hi Poppy!” then pauses and says “no” and then says “bye Poppy.”
  • During Halloween, most everything was “‘pooky!” said in a low voice with a serious face.
  • All food is described as “picy” (spicy) or “hot”. Oddly enough she likes spicy and can tolerate hot pretty well too. Cam can’t handle either.
  • She started sort of counting, “two! three! two! three!” for a few weeks and just the other day she said “one! two! three!” as well as “three! two! one!” Every time she asks for something and you say “just one, okay?” she negotiates with “two?” again in a sugary sweet voice and both hands in front of her face indicating two, followed by a “please?” More often than not, she gets two.