Ballerina Ponytail

This style had more to do with me proving something to myself than anything else.  The last time we did this style, it kind of bombed.  Immediately fuzzy... and out within five days.  I have been thinking about it since then, wondering if my suspicions were right - last time, the twists were too wide, allowing too much of her new growth/baby hair to slip out quickly.

I also have unresolved issues with failure, it seems.

This time, we did nearly double the number of twists, ending up at 15.  Instead of a puff or bun, we left individual twists in with beads/hearts at the ends for total protection.

This time, I'm happy to report, the style lasted 9 full days and looked great all the way to the end, albeit a little fuzzy.  In fact, we could have gotten a few more days out of it.

It was playful, fun, age-appropriate, and the best part:  I could hear her EVERYWHERE she went.  This is helpful because she just moved to a big girl bed and at night I could hear her every move.

Now that we figured out our issue, this is a style we'll definitely be repeating in the future.  Plus, my upside down twists need more practice!

A photo of us "in process":


Just a Swingin'

Since we met her, Violet has loved to swing.  In the infant seats... the baby bucket seats... and now on a "big girl" seat.  I don't know if it's the freedom, the sensation of flying, the adrenaline, or what... but it's officially her favorite thing to do.

While taking photos of a recent style, I also snapped a few of her in her element - on her swing.  Just watching her makes me remember what it was like to be a kid on a swing.  Inevitably I hop on the swing next to her to try to recreate the moment, but it's just not the same.  I suppose it could be our kid-sized swings or the very short rope.

Speaking of rope, yes that is tape on the ropes because tiny pieces of rubber kept getting lodged in my kiddos' hands as splinters.  Lovely, right?

Sometimes she shuts her eyes and pretends to be a bird, narrating what she sees around her.  "Mommy, I'm a birdie!  I'm flying!  I see clouds... more birdies... the sun... and tiny little houses on the ground."

Enjoy a few photos of my beautiful girl in her happiest place.

Twist Out Happiness

We are big fans of twist outs.  But I never guessed that it would work after the yarn twists, with the yarn still in place!  It lasted a day or two, but it was gorgeous while it lasted.  The yarn stayed anchored at her scalp, but began unraveling from the bottom of the twist on the second day.

And a few days later, when the yarn came out, the REAL twist out was left.  We loved the yarn twists and will definitely do them again.  I'm not gonna lie though... I was happy to get back to just Violet's hair.  I missed the feel of those beautiful curls.


Christmas Highlights

Today, December 26th, has been perfectly lazy.  Lots of sleeping.  Lots of napping.  Lots of lounging.  Lots of movie watching.

And lots of Violet laying on me while we sleep/nap/lounge/watch movies.  I think she's still catching up from the sleep she didn't get on Christmas Eve.  I am relishing the cuddle time.

We haven't had a day like this in a while, and after Daniel's Vomitfest 2011, it was a blissfully uneventful day.

Here are a few photos to recap Violet's 2nd Christmas in our family.  Now excuse me... my spot on the couch is getting cold, and Violet is hollaring for me because we're about to start "The Incredible".  Again.  Peace out.

Lots of fun presents, but the only thing Violet actually requested this year was "a sucker".  So here's her face as she sees what's inside the tiny package with her name on it:


The telltale sign that we did Christmas RIGHT: 

Playing by the fire (and new lit-up reindeer) late on Christmas Night:



Christmas, With Attitude

I may have set her up.  I know how sassy she gets when she's tired.  I know how the attitude increases exponentially in direct proportion to the number of minutes of sleep she does NOT get.

And yet I allowed a 20 minute nap on Christmas Eve.

Hold that thought while I write this down in my "do not repeat" book of parenting tricks.

Part of it wasn't my fault entirely.  We had just taken her crib door/gate off in transition to a big girl bed and Violet hasn't quite figured out how to negotiate that newfound freedom.  (Read: I found her in bed with a puzzle.)  But let's not kid ourselves... it's always the parents' fault.

And I reaped what I sowed:  She was borderline non-functional as I woke her up on Christmas Eve.  Sadly, I had no choice - we had to work all three services at church.  Violet was inconsolable all evening, and at our family dinner was kind of zombie-esque.  She opened her Christmas Eve present (always new pajamas) and while Daniel ran around the room whooping and hollering in excitement over his new pjs, she raised one eyebrow slowly and said under her breath, "This is NOT a sucker".

She slept hard that night, but never really shook the sass on Christmas Day.  We had a great day resplendent with food, family and lots of gifts, but little lady would have had a much better day with more sleep the day before.  Duly noted.

And just in case this photo looks like a joyful, sweet moment, it wasn't.  She refused to look at the camera or give me any kind of smile, and instead (with loads of sass), smiled only for the ceiling.  


The Missing S

There are so many things about Violet that make me smile.  So many.  Her voice is one of them.  It's impossibly high and sweet.  Combined with her (crazy advanced and sassy) vocabulary, well, it's just a recipe for constant smiles.

I started taking note of the particular words that I just adored and noticed a pattern:  She is missing an S.  Not in all words, but in some.  School, for example, becomes "cool".  Snack becomes "nack".  Slippery becomes "lippery".  Snake becomes "nake".  Snow is "no".  Sneaky is "neaky".  And my personal favorite: spilled is "pilled".  But silly, sassy and santa are all pronounced perfectly.  Which gave me the idea that maybe it's only when "s" is the first of two consonant sounds that it's dropped.  After an hour of making her repeat "s" words back to me, I confirmed my theory.

I love the little ideosyncracies that make her who she is.  And for now, I'm not even sad that we're missing an S.  As an added plus, it's hilarious to have her repeat:  "Sneaky snakes slip in the snow."  And "I like to nap in the snood!"  That one was Fernando's idea.  Just sayin'.  

She is also substituting a "w" for a lot of her "r" sounds... but I don't have a theory on that yet.  Give me time, give me time.  


Protective Yarn Extensions

This is a style I have been excited about for months, after first reading about them on Chocolate Hair Vanilla Care.  Here's the gist:  The addition of acrylic yarn to each twist adds thickness and protection, allowing for the ends to be totally protected and the style to stay in place for (potentially) weeks.

Violet was a champ, as usual.  This style took us two days:  5 hours on Friday and 3 on Saturday morning.  Violet was so excited for rainbow beads that she climbed into her high chair herself (I still don't know how) and lined up her movie selections on the tray in front of her, announcing that she was ready for hair day.  She sat stock still for the full five hours, and I ended up calling it a day to give my arms/back/feet/fingers a rest.  

The second day shouldn't have taken 3 hours, but I underestimated the time beading would take - the yarn made the strands extra thick, and my little plastic beader just about couldn't take it.  It's ok though... I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of those 8 hours with Violet.  We watched just about every Christmas movie in the house.  

Believe it or not, the twists are only a little bit longer than Violet's hair.  I just wanted her hair totally protected for a few weeks (and in a style I wouldn't have to mess with over Christmas weekend).  It was great parting practice, too.  

My favorite part about this style:  The versatility.  I LOVE that now I can do a pony tail, two pig tails, half up/half down, etc etc etc.  The options are endless.  My least favorite part:  How much older she looks.  Just an inch or two more of length adds YEARS in my opinion.  I initially did the twists much longer and it was crazy how much older she looked.  I beaded and shortened a bunch, tying knots in each twist just past her natural length.  (The pig tails help her look her age, I think.  Love this look on her.)  


Violet's favorite part:  The beads.  She loves the sound, and loves turning her head back and forth.  She loves the colors, and showing everyone we meet her "rainbow beads".  

We'll see how long they last.  On older girls, they can last up to a month.  Violet is still two, and pretty rough on her hair.  It's also my first time, so I'm anticipating yarn slipping out or any number of issues related to my "still learning" status.  I'll be impressed if we get a solid two weeks out of them!


The Red Dress

At the top of my list of "most precious things in the world" is seeing my daughter in the clothes that my sister and I wore as kids.  Call it magical... call it timeless... call it what you want.  It is meaningful in a way that I could never have expected.

For Violet's Christmas play this year (her first!) we decided to go all out and have her wear a fancy red dress from "the archives".  I'm honestly not sure if this one was mine or my sister's, but since she only has boys, I get the run of the treasure chest.  (And while we're on the topic, I couldn't care less whose dress it was... it represents a really special era in my life that Violet gets to share now, in a way).

Instead of fixing worn out elastic we just rolled the sleeves, and instead of buying tights (we still don't own any) a good friend let us borrow some in a pinch.  We took out her star hair style that morning and did a quick bath and detangle so she could wear her hair free for the show.

She stole the show, partly because she sang every word and danced every move, and partly because she just looked so darn cute.  The best part was right in the middle of a song when she saw one of her favorite teachers watching from the sidelines.  She hopped off the stage, ran over for a quick hug, and rejoined the group without missing a beat.

Violet seemed to thoroughly enjoy the stage, just like I did at her age.  She beamed with pride and relished each compliment.  Another thing she relished:  The blue sucker that Daddy may or may not have promised her before the show.  Somehow (thank you, Jesus) that blue sucker stayed in her mouth and off that beautiful white collar.


After the show, we headed home and to the park across the street for a few "red dress" photos.  And after photos, we had lunch and got started on our next hair adventure: yarn twists!  Stay tuned for results.  But for now, enjoy a few of my favorite red dress photos!


Star Braids

This week's style is a big first for us:  Big chunky braids with a star center.

The dilemma of the week:  Violet's Christmas production at preschool happens NEXT Friday.  So whatever style we do today will be on day #7 for the show.  Traditionally, her style is on it's last leg by day #7.  So it was either a two-style week (which neither of us have time for - it's the Christmas rush!) or a style that's simple enough to upkeep that I can retouch on Wednesday/Thursday without a lot of hassle, or in this case, section by section as needed.

During bath time, while I was detangling Violet's hair, I was playing around with part options for big chunky sections (something we have never done before) and Daniel began an impromptu discussion about how stars are now his favorite shape.  Bingo.

Using a rat tail comb, I just drew a star on her head.  It wasn't easy (at one point I asked my husband to draw me one for reference! Ha!) but it didn't take long all in all.  Each section is heavily treated with Blended Beauty's Butter Me Up and banded at the base and the tip.  It's cute with bobbles or without.  It's even cute with each braid curled in a bun - the star is more obvious.

So we'll see what happens between now and Friday!  The big sections lead me to believe it will not stay well, but over the past 24 hours barely a hair has moved (aside from the tiny curls at her hairline that I intentionally left out of the style).  Maybe I'll find some red and/or green bobbles to be a little more festive this week.

Thank You God

I often tell Violet the story of her adoption.  It's simple, and suited for her two year old ears.  It will become more comprehensive as she grows up.  For now, it goes like this.

"Violet, I love you so much.  I'm so HAPPY that we adopted you and that now, you are my baby girl.  Did you know that God made you JUST for me?  He said, 'I know, I'll make Mommy the best present ever.  I'll make her a VIOLET to make her heart happy.'  And he made her with beautiful eyes... and a perfect nose... and a gorgeous smile... and fabulous hair... and silly belly button..." (because, really, what good is a story without a little tickling?!) "And then Violet needed a family who could take care of her, and Mommy saw a picture of baby Violet.  And then Mommy said, 'Oh can I have her PLEEEEASE!!???  She is perfect!!!' and God said, 'Will you promise to take care of her and come all the way to Africa to get her?' And Mommy said, 'Yes! Yes! Yes!' and she also said, 'Oh THANK YOU Jesus for such a perfect little girl.'"

Then I squeeze her (probably too tightly) and say that I won't share her with anyone.  And after she makes me promise to share her with Daddy and Daniel, she smile and snuggles in a little closer, thinking about her story.

Last night I told her the story again.  She relished each word and lay in silence for a few minutes after I was done.  Then she threw her arms open and yelled towards the ceiling, "THANK YOU GOD!" I asked what she was thanking God for.  Very matter of factly she replied, "For giving me such a good mommy and daddy."  

And just like that, she snuggled in, popped her thumb back in her mouth and fell asleep while mumbling something sweet about loving us and her heart being happy.

I know the tough questions are coming, and we are ready for them.  But for tonight, just the fact that God made us for each other is enough for her.  I know it is for me.     


On My Team

In a family with two boys and two girls (and a healthy competitive spirit), it's inevitable that teams will emerge.  And emerge they have:  The Girls and The Boys are now official teams, only lacking jerseys and secret handshakes.

Teams are useful when 1) racing to get car seat straps secured if we're running late, 2) finishing green smoothies before the main course, 3) cleaning up toys, and a lot of other things.

Teams are also great for making Mommy's heart melt.  Nothing like having her sweet little hands on my face, those big eyes peering into my eyes and a little voice that says, "Mommy, you can be on MY team.  We're The Girls."  Be still my heart.

In fact, "We're The Girls" is a common phrase for us now.  Whether we're talking about the behavior a little girl should (or should not) display, a color of nail polish for our toes, or even the nice way to treat our babydoll toys, the spirit of camaraderie among our home's female residents has been a sweet and surprising way to have those conversations.

Also fun:  Because our cat is female, the boys are always outnumbered.   

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

December officially begins today, but the holiday spirit has been going strong in the Amaro house for a few weeks.  Our tree has been up since Veteran's Day,  we have burned through more than one of those glass-jar-holiday-scented candles, and the (extensive) Christmas movie library has been moved from it's dormant place on the bedroom bookshelf to a messy pile next to the TV.

Violet took no time at all developing a favorite movie:  White Christmas.  This makes me a very proud mama, too.  It's my #2 favorite of all time (right behind Hello Dolly!).  We have watched it at least a dozen times this season already, mostly at the request of Violet.  She finds the case and brings it over to us, bats those big brown eyes and says, "May we watch White Christmas AGAIN?!!"

The rest of us can play/work/cook/clean while the movie is on (we do know it by heart, after all) but Violet still sits stock still in front of the couch and just watches in awe.  The dancing scenes are her favorite (specifically "The Best Things Happen While You're Dancing", and she often wants to dance with one of us after the movie is over (ballroom/broadway style).

I just know it's gonna be a great Christmas when December starts out this amazingly.  Great minds think alike, my girl!  


Burst & Box Twists

This week's style developed out of a desire to find a 100% protective style, and keep the hair out of Ms. V's face!  While it's simple in theory (flat rope twists in a "burst" pattern on top of her head, box twists in the back) it took longer than I had anticipated.  Those twists came out smaller than I meant for them to, and it took us nearly 3 movies to complete this one.  We kept on twisting right through naptime.

What I'll do differently next time: The ear-to-ear part will need to be moved back another inch - those flat twists "tails" keep flipping forward.

Anyway.  It's a sweet style, and it's fun to change up her look from week to week.  My husband remarked this week that her face seems to change with each new look - this week included.  It's true.  Half the fun of styling is seeing the personality it evokes!

These "style" photos were taken while V was still in the styling chair (read: high chair), with her styling clothes on (read: pajamas), with her styling diversions still in place (read: yogurt still all over her face!).