This was Violet's first year to celebrate Halloween. And since she missed last year, we figured she needed to make up the lost opportunity. So, rocked TWO Halloween costumes.

Her real costume was fitting for her personality: a tigress. I figure - I have plenty of years of her wanting to be princesses, fairies, dancers and jazz cats (ok, maybe that one was just ME as a kid) and in these young years, I want her to be some cute and cuddly animal. She loved the paws and the tail, but wasn't so crazy about the headpiece.

For church that morning though (this year Halloween fell on a Sunday) there was no way she was gonna put up with that tiger outfit for hours on end. Plus, it was a furry furnace.

So we threw together a last minute fiasco with the theme of PINK. I like to think of it as a "Tom Boy Ballerina" with the little chucks she was sporting. She did seem to enjoy the tutu. (Daniel wore a dinosaur shirt and his giant dinosaur slippers all day... he definitely enjoyed that.)

At our church event that night, I drove a golf cart to give people rides from their cars to the event, and my kiddos joined me in the golf cart for the last half of my shift. They loved the free rides and I loved having them with me. We headed home for the annual Amaro shin-dig at our house, and enjoyed a few hours with the family.

Daniel completed his mission in life and embodied his alter-ego: Astroboy. Check out his blog for more details on that little era of our life!

(Violet's grandparents stole the show: Papa and Mema showed up as Mario and Luigi and I don't think I have stopped laughing still... it was AMAZING).

Happy 1st Halloween, little lady!


Legal in Arizona

What an amazing day.

Here's the legal rundown: Violet is now a US Citizen, and has been re-adopted according to the state of Arizona.

Here's the real rundown: We have a new bond with our daughter, and have never been so aware of the incredibly support network surrounding her and our family.

We arrived at the courthouse on time, passed through security, and met up with our friends, family and social worker outside the courtroom door. We weren't allowed to take cameras inside, but were allowed to snap a few photos of us with the judge afterwards.

During the actual hearing, we sat in front of the bench at a rectangular table (Me, Fernando, Daniel, Violet and Terri, our social worker). Everyone else sat behind us in pew type seats. It actually felt a little like some kind of business interrogation - a little scary at first.

They asked us basic information for the record, then the judge went over it again. The highlight of the hearing was when he asked Daniel (in a loud booming voice from his elevated seat) to state his name. Daniel looked up with big eyes and whispered into the microphone: "Astroboy." The judge said, "Excuse me?" And Daniel said a little louder: "Astroboy."

Our friends died laughing and thankfully the judge did too. The rest was easy.

Except at the part near the end when the judge looked at me and said, very meaningfully, "Carrie... you are now her mother. Your relationship with Violet is that of mother and child." And right in that beautiful moment, Violet whacked herself in the head with a plastic water bottle and started to cry. Perfect.

On the way out, we were such a big group that some of my friends carrying their baby got congratulated on their adoption! (Their baby is not adopted).

We took some photos, then headed to The Good Egg for a big group breakfast. Celebration time!

There are a series of paperwork items we'll need to take care of given Violet's new legal name (she is finally, officially Violet Mariam) but for now we'll just take a deep breath and enjoy the "end of the legal journey" feeling!



Well, the biting issue hasn't gone away. In fact, it's been escalating at home with me and with Daniel. Violet only bites the two of us, and it's always out of jealousy ("I want your attention") or anger from discipline ("I'm mad I just got in trouble").

But today things took a turn for the worse.

She bit another kid in school - a first for her. We were greeted with an incident report when we went to pick her up, and an explanation: She was angry at a kid for stealing a toy so she bit his arm as he pulled the toy away. This was a new motive for biting.

I headed straight to the director's office to talk things through, sure that this was the start of a biting spree for her. We formulated a temporary plan that involved them calling my cell immediately after a bite and me running over to pull her out of the room and discipline her with our standard method: A flick on the lip (which obviously, the teachers aren't allowed to do).

Thankfully, we never had to use this method.

That night, Violet bit me again. With the same motive as earlier in the day: She wanted a fork I had in my hand, and bit me out of anger as I took it away. Something snapped in me (granted, I was still extremely upset about the school incident) and I bit her back.

I feel the need to qualify the statement - I did bite her, but it was lightly. No marks were left.

Still, she cried a new cry. A cry of "how could you do that to me, Mommy"... and it lasted for a good five minutes.

No incidents for the next two days and then a brilliant moment of breakthrough. We were tickling/wrestling and her teeth accidently hit my arm. Not a big deal at all, but she sat straight up with huge eyes. She pointed at my arm, then her mouth and said, "No bite! No bite!"

It worked! Turns out my mom was right all along... apparently this method was used on my little sister as well.

Update: Violet has bitten only a handful of times since then, but very spread out and only at home. She responds beautifully to correction!


Holy Vocabulary

Violet is on some kind of crazy turbo-language-acquisition jag. That little lady repeats EVERYTHING and retains most of it.

She knows nearly 10 animal noises (the tiger and monkey are her best, in my opinion)... Knows the names of the whole family... can ask for food/toys/etc by name... knows most of the basic body parts, has learned a bunch of new verbs... it just doesn't end. I'm newly amazed each minute I spend with her.

My favorite part of her recent new skills is this: She could not say "Daniel" until tonight. For the past week, she's been calling him "Ah-to-boy". Daniel is going on his fourth week of pretending to be Astroboy and apparently it's worn off on Violet. I don't know which is funnier - that she thinks that's his name or that my 17 month old can say "Astroboy".

I haven't yet tried to create a list of the words she now knows, so here we go:

Outside, Violet (ya-ya), Dada, Mama, Up, Down, Hair, Teeth, Mouth, Ears, Eyes, Nose, Bootie (Boobie :), Tummy, Milk, Agua, Amen, Baby, Teddy, Pee-Pee, Thank You, More, Again, Please, Walk, Bounce, Dance, Pound (for "Give Me Pound!"), Shoes, Feet, Kitty-Cat, Clean, Eat, Emma, Happy, Hi, Bye-Bye, Banana (Nana), Apple, Cheese, Duck, Night-Night (Ni-Ni), High-Five (Hi-Fi), Bubble, Book, Astroboy... and I know there are more. But for now, that's 45 words for a girl that said only 1 just six months ago (exactly six months ago today, actually).

She also still responds to her three names... Violet, Mari and Maramawit. She tries to say all of them, and seems to know they all belong to her.

In one of the most beautiful moments she and I have shared yet, I called her "beautiful baby" in her native language while rocking her to sleep. With great interest and concentration, she imitated the words as I kept repeating the phrase. The irony and beauty of ME teaching HER her native language was not lost on me.

Violet is blossoming before our eyes - hearing the voice that goes with the spark and life is beyond gratifying. And the more we hear that sweet little voice, the more we want to hear it.