Blue Snack

Anyone who has ever parented a child with a gift for getting into messy things understands "the absence of noise". It's the sound that immediately precedes the impending disaster.

This morning, Fernando and I heard "the absence of noise". Sure enough, seconds later, Violet comes toddling around the couch with a big BLUE smile (which perfectly matched her blue face, teeth, tongue, hands and shirt). It took about 2.5 seconds to register what had happened. She had found the box of finger paints and figured out how to unscrew the cap. (Might I add that Daniel has played with these paints for years, stacking the bottles... making lines out of the bottles... sorting the bottles by color... without ever even WANTING to take those little lids off.)

But I digress. Fernando grabbed her and headed for the sink and I tended to our newly blue carpet. Everyone (and everything) previously blue turned back to it's normal shade quickly - thanks to water-dissolvant paint. It's like the paint makers already knew about Violet when they made this paint. They knew.

And may I also point out that I didn't photograph my child while she was blue. I consider this a fairly big step forward in my "learning to balance being a parent and a photographer" process. (I am embarrassed to say that I have a photo of an 11-month old Daniel AS his face crumbles AS his little fingers touch a blazing hot lightbulb.)

There are perks to being child #2.


Leaps and Bounds

Violet is progressing and adjusting better than anyone guessed she would - better than any of the books tell you adopted kids will adjust. It's simply ridiculous how well she is doing.

She is sleeping all night, every night. She naps well, and long. She plays happily alone or with people. She still eats and poops like a champ. She laughs harder every day and cries harder too (which is ok). She responds to discipline and more often than not, corrects her behavior when asked. She is growing like a weed and her hair and skin look incredible (ignore this photo though... she's in a highchair, covered in oreos and boogars).

Her language is still on turbo speed - the most recent new words include Gramma (ga ga), Kitty Cat (kee kah), Again (ghen a), Tickle (tick-uhl) and a whole host of new syllables and clicks (that interestingly enough don't sound like standard "english-speaking-baby" babble).

She walks so steadily that it's nearly a run. She dives face first into any pool without fear and attempts to ride any tricycle or scooter she can get her hands on. She is still aggressive in her play, but seems to be learning to control her hands better - "Nice touches, Violet. Nice touches."

Her nighttime self-soothing rocking has completely stopped and we've even let her cry herself to sleep a time or two. Within a minute or two of crying, she's peacefully asleep. It might sound like a little thing - but this is a big step forward for Violet.

All signs point to one thing: She feels secure with us - and secure in our love for her.


Hello, iPhone

My sweet husband camped out at the mall (seriously) to get us a set of new iPhones on the day they were released. And after years of old school paperweight phones, the new ones are fantastic. Luxurious. Life-altering. And they have a great little built in camera with some fun photography apps designed for that retro look I love. It's just perfect for those occasions when I don't want to bust out the big camera.

Here are a few recent mini masterpieces, compliments of our friend, Steve Jobs.


Jeckyl & Hyde

My two kids. Two totally different temperaments and personalities. Two different ideas on what to do with toys and playtime. Two different styles of wrestling and two (very) different pain tolerances.

But two perfectly matched siblings - they are so good for each other.

And just because it made us laugh, here is a great example of their differences.

When Daniel was a baby, he made long, straight lines out of the alphabet magnets on the refrigerator. Violet found a new way to use them: To pull them all down then stuff them in that questionable space between the fridge and the wall. Eew.

And when we gave them a new pack of markers to color with, Violet threw them all over the floor while Daniel found a different way to play with them: Making a long, straight line.

I absolutely and unequivocally LOVE how different they are.


Taking Charge!

Today had the potential of being a very bad day.

Nothing in particular went wrong... it just felt like it could (quickly) become one for the books. Fernando is still at youth camp, so I'm still in "single parent" mode (translation: very messy house). Violet didn't feel great this morning and consequently had quite the little attitude on her. Daniel seemed bored and stir-crazy (or maybe that was me, projecting...) and I had a bad case of "short fuse syndrome" - I was about two seconds from calling that hotline that talks you out of throwing your kids out the window. (Kidding, kidding... but you get my point.)

But thankfully we turned that bad day right around on it's tail. For my own benefit, so that I can look back on this the next time a bad day rears it's head, here is what worked for us:

Good move #1: Loading up and heading out to get some fresh air.

Good move #2: Not sticking too closely to our "running errands" plans. It was cool, crisp and stormy outside so we detoured by an empty parking lot, ditched the van and just played in a dirt lot, watching the storm come.

Good move #3: Letting the kids play in dirt. Daniel ran his little legs off, and Violet polished her newfound walking skills. When some bicyclists headed our way, Daniel raced them down the sidewalk... I have never seen him run like that before. We sat on the sidewalk, waiting to see the lightening that never came... the raindrops came first. And together, we ran for it.

Good move #4: Screaming contests. I changed Violet's (very) dirty diaper in the backseat... she grabbed it and started waving it around... my temper rose. So instead of trying to suppress it, I just let it out: A crazy yell. Violet blinked... then she let one out too. Daniel, never one to miss out on the fun, joined in. Soon we were all yelling and laughing and having more fun than I thought could come from loud noises.

Good move #5: No TV. No music, either. We all sat in the kitchen for lunch and sang silly songs to make each other laugh. (Which we did, in giant quantities).

Good move #6: Making silly videos. When the laughter was at it's height, I carted Daniel over to the computer and documented a few minutes of the silliness. He wanted to watch it over and over. We also took some pretty fun little pictures on the computer... even Violet got into it.

It's only mid-afternoon, but I have a pretty good feeling about the rest of the day.

We eat bad days for breakfast.


Violet is a champion eater. Not just in quantity... but quality. We come very close to having the same taste in food: Mainly, she loves vegetables! And as we haven't introduced any meat products yet, she and I eat pretty much the same meals.

For example, here was today's lunch.

A slice of bread (roasted garlic with thyme) broiled with "quatro formaggio" cheese, served with sauteed red peppers and a chopped bunch of baby bok choy. She devoured it.

How many 12-month-olds do YOU know that like this stuff?

My creativity in the kitchen is returning! It's so satisfying to have a little eater appreciate whatever I concoct... even if leafy greens are involved.


Discovering Mud Puddles

Walking Machine

The six steps of two weeks ago turned into seven... then thirteen... then nothing.

Violet decided she was "over" walking and would permanently stick to monkey crawling. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't frustrated, but there is NOTHING you can do to make a baby walk if she doesn't want to. Jell-O legs are the ultimate trump card - they always win.

And then yesterday... suddenly... magically... she changed her mind. Violet is a legitimate walking machine. Not every minute of the day, but it's definitely a drastic improvement. She stands on her own, balances for a minute, and then takes off. I love that she's not frustrated or deterred by falling - even if it's every 5 or 6 steps. She loves the praise afterwards and will even walk on command if you say, "Violet - stand UP! And step - step - step!"

Here we go!


Gramma's First Visit

Last week, my mom met my daughter for the first time. It's a special place to be - in the middle of three generations. I knew it would be amazing, but it exceeded my expectations: They absolutely fell in love.

My fears of "attachment confusion" were eased instantly. Violet took right to my mom - she let her hold her, play with her and was perfectly content to spend time with just her. But there was no question as to who her mom was - she preferred me in any circumstance and easily recognized me as her "mama".

Mom couldn't stop staring at Violet - I think she complimented her approximately every thirty seconds. I loved to watch how easy their relationship was - as if Violet had always been in our home. And I especially love that Mom was able to be a part of this stage of her development - starting to walk, splashing in the pool, learning words (even "Ga Ga" for Gramma!).

We went all over town during her week here. We hit two different malls, a new aquarium, a couple of restaurants, a big splash pad at a local park, and even a church event. We sewed headbands for Violet and introduced her to my childhood staple: An Orange Julius. We had friends over and spent time with our Arizona family. It was a full, busy, productive, relaxing, wonderful week.

Saying "goodbye" is never easy - but it helps to know we'll be seeing Gramma (and the rest of the Texas gang!) in less than two months. At which time the REST of my family can fall in love with Violet. I cannot wait!