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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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

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.