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.

Where Are They Now?

Haha. Just kidding. But it has been a bit since I’ve had time to post. Demi is communicating really well now and she loves her brother. Cam is getting taller and thinner (so so sad to see the rest of the baby fat melt away) and he is very curious. He asks so many questions I cannot answer without Google.

Here’s a clip of them terrorizing the birds at Lake Murray…. we feed them bird seed and then we frighten the feathers out of them. It’s quite a relationship.

Love hearing these squeals.

Kauai Vacation 2018

It’s been a bit since we got home from vacation, but I am fiiiiinally posting about it. One thing that struck me after vacation was that we rarely vacation without family or friends or someone to visit. While we loved it, it also highlighted the benefits of being with other folks. I think we would have pushed ourselves to do more different things. Nonetheless, it was a vacation to remember.

First the whole mashup of photos, then the lowlights and highlights.

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Lowlights:

  • Demi decided she’d rather drive than sit in a car seat, so each time we got into the car for a 2 minute drive or a 2 hour drive, she’d try to get into the front or lose her mind screaming. This would go on for a couple minutes or up to 30, which was just awful. It reminded us that we’re entering official tantrum zone with her.
  • When Cam had an accident in his pants during dinner in the bathroom of a restaurant and I had to run him out to the car with no pants on to change into his wet board shorts and finish dinner.
  • Cam and Demi tug-o-warring over _____ (fill in the blank with whatever you want–a towel, the door knob, a piece of broccoli). This was also an indicator we’re entering that era where we need 2 of everything and they need to be equal, look equal, sound equal, be shaped equally… or someone is mad.

Highlights:

  • Early morning sunrises on the back patio with coffee!
  • Kiddie pool at the condo was 2 feet deep which means the kids could flounder about happily and mostly safely without active assistance. They looooved it.
  • The kids “jumping waves” in Hanalei. I say “jumping waves” in quotes because Joe and I were breaking our backs lifting them up and over aggressive “pre-winter” waves as they shrieked and laughed and couldn’t get enough.
  • Shave ice every day. Favorite: Wishing Well outside of Hanalei.
  • Evening/night swims.
  • The beach in Poipu was the best suited for small kids and therefore allowed Joe and I to chill a little more while the kids were still thoroughly entertained.
  • All. The. Birds. There were sooooo many native birds. We fed the “nenes” (geese) each morning, watched the red-headed cardinals, tall white birds, and chased chickens and roosters around everywhere. Demi called the chickens “bawk bawks” so we spent a good portion of our vacation talking about bawk bawks.
  • The rain followed by a rainbow! We only caught 1 rainbow, but it was a really good one.
  • Naps after getting sun-kissed.
  • The moments when the kids were cooperatively playing. This happened in short bursts every day.
  • When Cam sounded out and spelled “pool” to earn going to the pool one evening.
  • How Demi now calls all bodies of water “pool” even if it’s the ocean. It makes me giggle.
  • Cam’s drawing of the Hawaiian Islands which included several volcano islands, the one we were visiting and the one that Joe and I got married on.
  • For me: poké every day, no cause to put on makeup, convenient entertainment, discovering organic non-refrigerated milk (what!? It exists.), the scenery, the beer, listening to the waves to put us to sleep.

Camden Cruz is FOUR

This has taken me weeks to get around to because, you know, life. And, because I have about 912 pieces of media related to Cam turning 4. I have his birthday party photos, his actual birthday family-only celebration, his school celebration and all kinds of other stuff! Gosh it’s good to be a 4 year old with a birthday. Also, I’m exhausted.

So, first, we had his Dino Dig, a birthday party that almost didn’t happen. Friday, before his Sunday party, Cam got a fever right around lunchtime. At first it was mild, but then it spiked up to 104. He was a mess (party OFF!). The kid who rarely gets sick, of course, gets a fever 2 days before his party.

We finally got the right meds and he rested well through the night. Saturday morning, he was perky again (party ON!). I went shopping all around town, schlepping bags of rocks to my parents, stockpiling things in their fridge, making lists, etc. I got home around 6pm and he started telling us his throat hurt. And then it hurt a lot. And then he was really upset about it and couldn’t swallow (party OFF!). In the morning, he was still feeling fine physically, but had a slight sore throat. So, I texted every mom with kids on the invite list that he was feverless, perky, but had a sore throat, their choice if they wanted to come or stay away, and they ALL chose to come (party ON!).

Here are the photos of his Dino Dig!

Friends and family gathered at Poppy and Inny’s to dig around in the sand for dinosaur bones. We also had a “tricera-toss” game, amazing cookies and cakes by Aunt Emily, a gift unwrapping that lasted approx 9 seconds as Cam thrashed through the bags in a frenzy, and just one little meltdown before blowing out the candles (he needed to eat and poop and then he was good to go).

On September 11th, which I’ll admit I was feeling very sentimental about and could have cried if I didn’t have too much to do, we had family and the Stadlers over for pizza, wings, mini-cupcakes, more presents and mid-week shenanigans.

In addition to the presents Cam got to unwrap, he also received several cards in the mail from family with gift cards, college money and more.

At school, each birthday person gets to have their family visit for a special “ceremony”. Last year, I didn’t get to go (and my family made quite the impression), but this year I did! It is so fun to be inside the walls of his classroom.

Cam’s teacher Mrs. Karla gathers the kids in a circle, talks about the birthday person, has them circle the sun once for every year of their life, then talk through photos/memories of each year. Cam was shy to answer her questions, but accurate, smiling and checking in with us the whole time. For example, when Mrs. Karla asked “what is your mom’s name?” he said “Kelsey.” Then looked at me and said “right mom?” I could have just squeezed him every time he looked over at us.

After the ceremony, Cam was asked to choose a friend to show the photos to and he chose Julian, a very outspoken, sweet young gentleman. I later asked Cam if Julian was his friend and he said “sort of”.

When the ceremony was complete, the kids all received our special snack, a butterfly snack bag with goldfish and grapes (that I most certainly did not spend all night putting together). And then they lined up to go to the playground. Cam turned around in line and waved “bye” to us.

SO STINKIN’ SWEET!

Just like last year when I said that if the point of a birthday is to make a kid feel special, I think we crushed it! He is a happy and very lucky kid with so many loving, caring, generous people in his life.

Imagination

I posted a photo of Cam a little over a year ago where he’s running around in jammies, no pants and wielding a broom. It still makes me smile.

Here’s the 4 year old edition of that photo… Cam rigging up a vehicle out of a laundry basket, twine and found objects, and sitting next to his new favorite doll ‘Shine’. And of course (safety first!), he has a good strong helmet on.

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Who knows what this vehicle will do, but it is evidence of his growing imagination and his natural interest in tinkering. He gets an idea and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop him from doing it.

Demi Grey at 1.5

A couple Several days ago (started this a couple weeks ago and didn’t finish… *sigh), Demi Grey hit the year and a half mark! The development that happens between 1 and 2 years is just a joy to witness. She does new things everyday, she mimics her brother and all the adults around her, she makes us laugh with her expressions, she’s just hilarious and sassy and smart and so much fun!

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Here’s a snapshot of this funny monkey at a year and a half:

Communicating:

  • She says “up” when she wants to go up or down, so up means up and up means down
  • When she wants you to open something (anything) she says, “pop?” even if it doesn’t actually pop, like a ziplock bag or a jar of pickles
  • When something is gross or dirty, she scrunches up her face and says “cucky”, but then if you repeat that back to her, she thinks you said cracker or cookie
  • She’s been asking (yelling) for milk for a while, saying “milll” and just a few days ago she tacked on a ‘k’ but it took an effort. It sounded like “milll….K”.
  • Birds are “tweet tweets”
  • Dogs are “woof woofs” or puppies
  • All bugs including flies, lady bugs and ants are “bees”
  • If you say “did you go to Inny’s house today?” she says “Inny!” “Poppy!”
  • She has almost comedic timing on saying “bye!” because she picks up on the cues in a conversation that we’re about to say goodbye and she shouts “BYE!”
  • When she is really excited, she yells, claps and says “yay! yay! yay!” and it is maybe the cutest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. I need to get it on camera.
  • When she wants a dabble of something like ketchup or toothpaste, she asks by saying “boop?”
  • When I was growing up, we called farts “fluffs” (this is making me laugh), but we call them toot toots. When anyone toots including herself, she makes a scrunch face and says ‘toot toot’.
  • She knows everything that is hot including the stove, the coffee maker, steaming food, the toaster, the decking outside my office, etc. and whenever she says “hot”, she whispers it softly, “hot”.
  • For cold things, she says “brrrr…”
  • It took her a bit to figure out the word “ice” but now she very loudly and articulately asks for “IIIISSSSSSSSS”
  • “Brother” and “water” sound a lot alike, so it might be only Joe and I that can hear the subtle differences
  • Other words she’s mastered recently: brush, tissue, yummy, yucky, bike, all done

Favorites:

  • Brother! My goodness she loves brother. She says “brother” about 217 times a day. She points to brother’s belongings and says “brother”, she hears him in the other room and says “brother”, he does something funny and she laughs and says “brother”.
  • Walking Mila. She calls her Mimi and she pulls out the leash and makes the kiss sound to make Mila come to her.
  • She loves her babies. We have almost no baby accessories, so I feel inclined to give her a few. For now, she likes holding them, kissing them and making a funny lovey face when she holds them.

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  • Shoes. She puts on ev-er-y-ones shoes, no matter the size and tries clomping around in them. Her favorite shoes to put on are Cam’s gray natives. She’s often walking around the house in just one of them. Some days she insists on wearing particular shoes even if I want her to wear different ones.
  • Being chased.
  • Brushing her teeth (with other peoples’ toothbrushes). She points to the medicine cabinet and yells “teeth!”
  • The happy birthday song, but she only knows, “happy, happy, happppppyyyy…”

  • Water! Includes the beach, pools, the hose, the bath, a cup she can make a mess with, all of it.

Dislikes:

  • Mushrooms. This is the only thing I’ve seen her pull out of her mouth because she didn’t like it.
  • When we stop her from doing something dangerous (climbing ladders, etc.), she gets angry, “no! no! no!”
  • Being inside when anyone is outside.

Comparing her to Cam:

  • She is strong willed, for certain, but she cooperates more than Cam. Example: half the time we change her diaper, we ask her if she wants a new diaper and she lays down on her back and waits. Cam didn’t do this, not even once, in his entire diaper-wearing days.
  • She is just a verbal as Cam was at this age so far as I can remember. I’ve been told that when you have a talker as a first child, the second child talks less, but I don’t think that’s the case with Cam and Demi.
  • Size-wise, they’re both on the same track… high percentiles all-around. Big heads,tallish and meaty, just like I like them!

  • Both kids are shy in new situations with new people, but Demi warms up quickly and then acts like herself. Cam would always take longer to warm up and sometimes wouldn’t at all depending on his mood.
  • They both love all food for the most part. Thank goodness they’re good eaters.
  • Their favorite number at this age is 9. I remember that was Cam’s first number and it’s Demi’s too. If she hears you counting, she’ll always say ‘nine’.

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Worst moments:

  • She has streaks of several nights in a row where she wakes up angry and doesn’t want anyone to touch her and we can’t figure out if it’s a night terror or growing pains or what, but this goes on for a while, sometimes a few minutes and on the worst nights a couple hours.
  • We’re battling an epic rash around her mouth, which we believe started with teething. She had 6 total teeth, 4 on top and 2 on bottom, then plateaued for over 4 months. All of a sudden, she busted 4 sets of teeth, so 8 total teeth and a bunch of molars. This caused drooling and falling asleep on the bottle for comfort and now we just can’t get rid of it.
  • Croup! Just last night, she went to bed happy and woke up a half hour later barking like a seal. It was significantly less scary than when Cam got croup the first time. We thought he was going to die because he couldn’t even get a solid breath, whereas her breathing was just labored. After a couple hours, her breathing evened out and we all sort of slept.

Best moments:

  • Her brother’s birthday. She snagged a cookie and ran like a bandit before I could take a group photo and generally just acted like she owned the place.
  • Summer beach and pool days.

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  • Boating on San Diego Bay

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Demi Grey is picking up new skills and words daily. She is just like the Sour Patch commercials… first they’re sour and then they’re sweet. And her sweetness overpowers her sassy/sour side by a landslide. She is beautiful, hilarious, and full of personality. We love this munchkin so dearly, there aren’t enough moments in the day to smooch her squishy cheeks.