Violet's beauty takes my breath away. Sometimes it actually makes me cry.
Fact: She is a deeply, devastatingly beautiful child.

Everything about her is perfection. Her round, liquid eyes. Her petite button nose. Her exquisitely defined lips. Her impossibly long lashes. Every detail about her is intentional - God delighted in crafting her, down to every last immaculately shaped ringlet.

I love the way her neck arches up into her head. She looks like royalty and often, I feel silly and plain in the presence of such dramatic beauty. And it's more than her physical features... it's the expressions she wears on them. Such grace and poise. Such depth and knowing. She is 14 months... going on 30 years.

Daniel is a beautiful child - we are constantly told how incredibly handsome he is. Fernando and I have spent countless hours admiring the unlikely genetic truth: Something THAT beautiful came out of US. But still, he came from us. He is beautiful in a familiar way.

Violet is a kind of beauty my genes wouldn't know what to do with. She is the definition of femininity. Every pore oozes sophistication and (strange as this may sound) sensuality. She is still so petite even after gaining weight, and the absence of baby fat has left her body delicate and shapely for a toddler. Her legs and arms are long, lean and muscular. Her waist is narrow - my two hands easily wrap around it.

Tonight, as I rocked her, I got lost in her sleeping face. My brain just couldn't process the amount of beauty I was beholding.

I love that baby more than I ever dreamed I could. I already treasure the little girl she's becoming. And I cannot wait to get to know the sophisticated, smart woman I can already see in her eyes.

She has brought a whole new level of beauty into my life.


Preschool Panic

And I only use the word "panic" because it applies to me, not Violet.

Against all odds, Violet is rocking the world of preschool. She simply loves it - the other kids, the new toys, the activities, the food, and more than anything else, the little wooden chair she gets to sit in for snack time. She is obsessed with that thing. Obsessed.

Her mother, on the other hand, has cried more tears this week than in the past few months. She is a basket case and cannot get it together. She even has to write about it in the third person to avoid another meltdown.

She probably should stop writing about it now before she short circuits the computer electronics with her tears.

(Enjoy the photo of "helicopter mom"... we phased Violet in slowly, and I didn't leave my post outside the one-way mirror. I watched her every move. I'm sure the teachers LOVED me.)


Same Sex Parenting

No, this post isn't about parents of the same gender.

It's about the way parents parent different genders differently. (Say that ten times fast.) And honestly, before now, it's something I hadn't really given any serious thought towards.

Before having kids, you consistently hear general statements like "Oh, there's nothing more tender than the bond between a mother and her son" or "Fathers just can't say no to their sweet little daughters". At the time, I just dismissed them as stereotypes to be ignored.

But lately I have started noticing some patterns in our home. And as much as I loathe fitting stereotypes, the patterns align as follows: Fernando and I both are stricter with the kid of the same gender. The old sayings appear to be at least partially true.

Try this on for size: My theory is that it's easier to afford grace to someone you don't entirely understand - it's easier to overlook manipulation and testing when you aren't 100% sure if that's what it really is.

We both love both kids beyond comprehension - with our entire hearts - past what we thought possible. But the fact remains: Men understand how boys think and women understand how girls think. With the kids of the same gender, we have higher expectations based on what we understand.

For example. I'm more likely to give Daniel that 20th hug goodnight when he comes out of his room (again) saying that he's scared (again) - and Fernando is more likely to be tough with him, knowing that he's playing me like a shiny new fiddle. But Daddy's more likely to pick Violet up and comfort her when she's throwing a tantrum while I'm more likely to make her tough it out and use her manners no matter how much she's crying.

Yes, I realize that particular example just highlights my inability to choose my battles (I'm working on this). But I hold to my theory: Dads hold their sons to a higher standard than their daughters and vice versa.

I have heard these words come out of my mouth numerous times towards Violet: "That is not how we act, Violet. We are nice ladies." We. Ladies. Likewise, Fernando often explains to Daniel what it means to be a "big boy" and what kind of behavior is required. When Daniel suddenly excelled in swim classes, Fernando felt a stronger and deeper pride than I did. Why? Because dads know that their sons need to acquire a type of learned courage and adventure to become the kind of men God designed them to be. And right or wrong, moms would be fine with their sons clinging to them in the pool for just one more summer.

Now I know this theory has all kind of exceptions and caveats (like genetics, how much time is spent with the kids and how much coffee each parent has consumed that day) but for the most part, it's true. And aside from simply being interesting food for thought, it's actually been helpful to consider as we continually "fine tune" our parenting styles.

Now, if you'll excuse me - my kids need me. Violet is crying and Daniel is standing by her holding a big stick. But I know my sweet little man would never hurt his sister, so she must have grabbed it and hit herself in the head. And ladies do NOT hit themselves in the head with sticks.

The Knot in my Stomach

I think I have been avoiding blogging because I'm trying to evade the inevitable: Tuesday is coming.

Tuesday is Violet's first day at preschool. I will be with her, and it will only last an hour. But Wednesday will be longer, and then Thursday, Friday, the weekend, and then POOF... the following week she'll be full time.

The time has gone faster than I imagined it would, and I feel less "ready" than I hoped. Frankly, I'm terrified. And heartbroken.

This is just different this time... Daniel was in preschool from 7 weeks old. Before a personality had emerged, really. (No offense, little guy.) I didn't know any other option existed. This time, it's a walking, talking (kind of) little lady with personality and attachment needs. A little lady I have gotten to know (and adore) at home for months. This is a hundred times harder.

I'm sure she'll do fine. Daniel thrives in preschool. The structure... the social aspect... he loves it. Violet will too, right?

Secretly, though, I'm hoping that she DOESN'T do well so I have to pull her out and figure out some way to stay home.

That doesn't make me a bad mom, does it?


Flower Power

Maternity leave has resurrected the crafty side of my personality. Crafty as in "arts and crafts", not crafty as in sneaky.

The glue gun and sewing kits have gotten more use in the past eight weeks than in the previous eight years. Violet's collection of flower hair clips and lace headbands is growing daily. But a problem has arisen: Where does one keep dozens of flower hair clips? The shoe box was busting at the seams (and was damaging the flower petals by having so many crammed into there.)

Another equally daunting problem was bugging me: The giant blank purple wall in Violet's room.

Problem #1 + Problem #2 = LIGHTBULB moment.

I went to Michaels and found some chocolate cork board on sale, along with some chocolate ribbon. A few minor hot-glue-related-burns later, all four boards were wrapped in ribbon and ready for use. Thanks to a hammer... some nails... a laser level... and two kids banging toys on the wall to "help" me hammer... we were set. They look great and actually add the splash of bright color I was looking for in that room.

Check it out:


Because. I'm. Addicted.

Just two more fun iPhone shots. Because I'm addicted. And because at some point, Violet will want to think she was raised in the 70's, right?