Mini Braids & Dress Up

This week, Violet decided she wanted to play dress up for our "new style" photos.  (And may I just say that I love how she has become part of the decision-making process surrounding styles and post-style photos.  It's so fun to collaborate.)

She picked out some of "her favorite" jewelry of mine, along with the infamous red slip, and we got to photographing her new do.

Somehow, I have managed to NEVER do basic braids on her.  After taking out her corn rows (and falling in love with the braid out look) we tested the waters this week and both love the outcome.  Not gonna lie... I did it mostly for the braid out I know is coming... but the style itself won me over in the end.

There are around 60 braids (not sure if that qualifies as "mini braids" or not!) but they are just precious on her.  Each braid twists and curls on it's own, so it gives her a full head of curly strands.

We parted her hair diagonally, too, that was a first - easier in some ways than boxes, and harder too.

One of my favorite things about this was the way each braid required no banding at the bottom.  Twists don't require it either on Violet's hair, but have a tendency to unravel a bit after a day or two.  These braids are in for the long haul.  And at the bottom, with very little coaching from me, each tip formed a ringlet or curly q shape.  

I'm writing this going on day 6 of the style, and it's still looking great.  I'm wondering if we found our "keeper style" for our week in California next month.  It took five hours total, and I'm guessing will take less next time.

It's sweet and sassy too, both necessary elements for a very sweet and sassy little lady.



More Than Follicles

Sometimes I worry that Violet will read this blog later and wonder why so many of my posts were about her hair, and the styles we create together.  But then I realize it's a ridiculous question - she will know why.   

It is more than hair.  

It is teamwork.  It is bonding.  It is collaboration.  It is our celebration of the feminine.  It is nurturing.  It is a dance.  It is a beautiful rhythm.  

It is love.

The care of Violet's hair is the care of all of her.  It is a unique outlet into which I can pour my love and devotion - the research, the education, the preparation, the creativity - all things I can lavish on my lady love.  And she soaks it up, relishing each "hair day" for more than her snacks and televisions.  

There develops a unique give and take between us as we fall into our silent (and sometimes not so silent) styling rhythm.  Her head, and my hands, swaying together, moving in unison.  

How often do parents get to spend that many hours in constant physical contact with their kids?  

Doing Violet's hair is a privilege that I don't take lightly.  I delight in finding new styles to showcase her beautiful little self, and my insides do cartwheels as she basks in the compliments of people of all races and ages.  We were warned from the start of our adoption process that we'd "have" to learn to do her hair... but I never expected to find so much connection and satisfaction in it.  

Not to overstate things, but in a lot of ways, her identity is tied up in those beautiful curls.  Her pride in her race, her ethnicity, her gender, and her adoptive history.  Our conversations about her hair are laying a foundation for deeper conversations that may not be as easy.  And if I can raise a daughter who is confident in what God gave her on TOP of her head, odds are, I will have raised a daughter who is confident in what God gave her INSIDE her head, too. 

I don't know another way to say it:  It's just so, so much more than hair.    


Facebook Funnies

Just a few of our recent "facebook funnies".  I adore her sense of humor.  (She does too.  Which is half the fun.)

Recently on facebook:

Violet, from the other room:  "I LOVE YOU!!"
Me: "I Love You, Too!!"
Violet:  "No, I was talking to the mirror!"

You know it's been a bit of a "sassy" day when, during her pre-dinner prayer, Violet apologizes to two members of the Holy Trinity.  Individually.

Little Miss Sass.  She is so full of life.  And Sass.

This I just learned:  It is virtually impossible to scold a child while you have hiccups.

True Story:  While walking the kids into preschool today, someone asked me if I was babysitting.

You know you have a girlie girl when ... she sleeps like THIS!

At Beauty and the Beast, with my beauty.  Didn't expect to cry, but my tears started rolling with the first "Bonjour" with my baby girl snuggled in my lap.  Love turning old memories into new ones.

We've been working on shape recognition with Violet.  Fernando told me he has been trying some silly incentive strategies with her.  Today, I asked Violet to point to the circle.  Without pausing she asked me, "If I get it right, do I get to lick your nose?"

Daniel:  "Can we put Violet's hair back the other way?  You know, the way God made it?  With rainbow beads?"

Helpful Parenting Tip:  Don't tell your 2 year old daughter the story of "Daniel in the Lion's Den" if her older brother whom she adores is named Daniel.  She will burst into tears halfway through.  


Braid Out

Violet's first corn rows held up pretty well, but were past my fuzz tolerance level by day six.  So.  Out they came.  And to my surprise, the braid out that happened was SO FUN.  Her hair held the zig zag pattern for most of the day, and it gave her hair and entirely different shape (kind of a mid-80s perm?) that made her look so much older.

We took out the rows over breakfast - they were easier to take out than I had expected, thanks to my pin tail comb.  And a bowl full of oatmeal.

Here is a shot of us, almost done:

And here's Ms. V with finished hair, and a dirty face.  (Somehow I never think to clean my child before taking photos of her.  What is up with THAT?)

Next up:  A style that will deliver a killer braid out.  Because I could get used to this.  


Woody is the Lamp

Violet loves music.  Always has, (hopefully) always will.  It's a constant presence in our home, through background music, frequent family dance parties, nighttime songs, and musical instruments.

So when Fernando ended up playing in our church's worship band for the weekend, I seized the opportunity and snuck Violet in for a few songs.  It's a huge room, with a loud band - too overwhelming for Daniel ("I would like to LEAVE, Mommy!") but when I took Violet in, she was immediately entranced.

Seeing Daddy on the big screens and on stage was a thrill for her, but so was the intensity of the music surrounding her.  During the slowest song ("Your Great Name"), I held her close, and worshipped with my hand raised.  I explained that sometimes I like to lift my hand up to say "I love you!" to Jesus, and she immediately squealed with joy and stuck her hand up high for the rest of the song.  In and of itself, it was a beautiful moment.  And maybe the reason she fell in love with the song.

Because for the days that followed, it was her only request.  "Can we sing the worthy song?"  Over and over.  She sang along, always with her hand up, eyes squeezed tightly shut.

Jesus, worthy is the Lamb
Who was slain for us
Son of God and man
You are high and lifted up 
And all the world will know
Your great name

After one particularly sweet bedtime rendition, I wondered if it was rote repetition or if she actually knew what she was saying.

So I said, "Honey, do you know who 'the lamb' is?"  She said, "Woody".

Confused, I said, "No honey, the lamb is Jesus."

Suddenly concerned, she sat up straight in my lap and said, "But what happened to Woody?  Woody the lamp?"

And then I realized.  "Woody is the lamp who was slain for us."

Fernando thought it was so entertaining, he illustrated it.  

Needless to say, we are STILL laughing about this.


Take That, Corn Row Fear

That's right:  Those are corn rows.  As in, corn rows I did myself.  Today I am one. proud. mama.

I adore Violet's hair, and learning all kinds of new styles.  But corn rows have been an enormous obstacle in my mind, lurking there for years now, honestly, waiting for me to fail.  They are basically upside-down and backwards braids, forcing me to unlearn/relearn something I have done instinctually since childhood.  They are awkward and clunky, and every week I KNOW I need to bite the bullet and just do it, but I inevitably end up doing a technique I am more familiar with to save face.

Not this week.  At Violet's first hair cut, her fabulous stylist demonstrated how to corn row.  And watching her, I saw EVERYTHING I had been doing wrong.  My hands were in the wrong positions, my fingers were moving the wrong directions, pretty much everything had been wrong.  She made me take the reigns for a bit, cornrowing a few stitches of our practice row.  When I got home, we continued and (finally!) it clicked.

Are they pretty?  Not really.  Do I care?  Not a bit.

I'm sure I'll look back on these photos and laugh at how terrible my first corn rows are.  I'm cool with that.  Because today, I am on cloud nine, people.


First Hair Cut!

Who is THAT kid?  Amazing, right??

No, it's not Diana Ross in my backyard.  It's Violet after her first haircut.

I have been really nervous for a while about this (confession time) mostly because I was afraid a stylist would tell me that I wasn't properly caring for her hair.  Silly, right?  But real.  Also because I was afraid of losing significant length that (at least in my mind) we had worked so hard for.

The way I finally found the stylist, Tai, we selected was pretty funny:  I admired her daughter's hair from afar, mentally promising to someday be "that good" with Violet's hair.  Through a few connections, we swapped numbers, set a date and made it official.  (Sounds like we got married, huh?  That was a pretty awkward sentence.)

Tai used a blow dryer on a very low setting to gently extend Violet's hair to it's full length (which was AMAZING to see, in and of itself) and cut her hair by feel, and through simple two strand twists.  To my delight, she told me her hair was in great shape, and very little needed to come off.

The best part:  A corn row demonstration that helped me achieve a breakthrough on my biggest hair obstacle yet.  But you'll have to read that post to get the full scoop.

It was a fun afternoon, and we're already looking forward to her next trim in two months.  I can't wait to see how much new growth we'll see in the blow out.  Because I'm extremely impressed with what we have seen in less than two years:


It's Gramma Time

Among the kid's favorite times of the year is "GRAMMA TIME!" which is preceded by weeks of "Is it Gramma Day yet?" and followed by weeks of "Can Gramma come back?"

My mom came to grace us with her presence for nine fabulous days full of museums, hikes, visits to the candy shop, swinging, playing at the park, and early morning play sessions in her room.  The kids would wake up earlier JUST to sneak in and have some Gramma time before Mommy and Daddy woke up.

They simply couldn't love her more, and they crave any and all attention from her.  It's such a blessing to have a Mom who loves my kids this much - it makes me proud of them, and of her.  (Especially watching her injure herself repeatedly in crazy games of "chase" with them in the backyard!  She is a tough cookie!)

Watching them together, she reminds me of my own Gramma and thousands (millions) of indescribably good memories from my childhood.  It's a beautiful legacy that she is continuing.  


Mommy's Theology

Violet has officially hit the "More Stories Please!" phase.  I remember Daniel entered it just about this age, too.  And just like with Daniel, when the craving for stories hits, we decided to fill it with the best stories a kid could ask for:  Bible stories.

Violet was already constantly asking for stories at nap and bed times, but now has begun asking for stories randomly; in a quiet moment in the car, or in the middle of a grocery store.  I began with Jonah and was met with great success.  She loved every twist and turn.  Next up:  David and Goliath.  After some initial fear of Goliath, she wound up loving the adventure, and even telling me how much she loves Goliath.  Little rebel.  Daddy introduced the Good Shepherd and the Little Sheep (whom he named Abraham), also to great success.

So one night when I was trying to stay awake, I decided to pick a story I knew reeeaaalllllyyyy well so I wouldn't mess up any details.  Hm... "Daniel and the Lion's Den".  That's a classic.  I named my other kid after the protagonist.  How could I mess THAT one up?

Here's a brief list of exactly how I messed that one up:

1)  It wasn't King Nebuchadnezzar who threw him in.  It was two kings later... King Darius the Mede.  I realized this only AFTER my two-year-old could articulate that "King Ne-bud-cah-nezzer was selfish and wanted people to pray to him."  Nice, Mommy.

2)  Once I switched to King Darius the Mede, I told it wrong for another few weeks, painting him as evil as King N was.  Turns out, he wasn't evil, he actually cared for Daniel, and tried to find a way around tossing him in the den.  Mommy should read the classics more often, turns out.

3)  Not even thinking that just MAYBE Violet might associate Daniel with her brother, I launched into that story full force and had a BAWLING Violet to calm down.  She just couldn't hang with her brother being fed to lions.  Go figure.

So, now Mommy is brushing up on her basic theology before starting a new story.

Violet is doing the same.  She likes to "read" her Bible "by herself".  Naturally, she has attached herself to the only book in Portuguese we own, and often reads it upside down, adding all kinds of interesting elements to the stories.  You can imagine.

Whether or not the details are 100% correct, I couldn't care less.  (No, there were no angels in the whale's tummy, the movie isn't ALL real.  Some is pretend.  And while we're at it, it may not have been a whale.)  Maybe I should care more about the details.  But at this stage of her life, just thinking of the Bible as exciting is good enough for me.  We have plenty of time to iron out the details.  For now, here's all she needs to know:

1)  God is our shepherd and he loves us.
2)  The Bible is a present from God.
3)  The Bible is FULL of amazing, exciting stories.

Next up:  Noah and the Ark!  

Don't worry, I'll read it first.  


Her World Right Now

While taking a few photos of her latest hair style, I accidentally captured this little magical moment in Violet's world:

This will be one of those photos I'll look at fondly many years from now.  However, in my never-ceasing-attempt-to-preserve-every-meaningful-detail-of-every-beautiful-moment, here are the frozen in time pieces of Violet's world... from left to right... in a list.  Because nothing makes a memory more beautiful than a list, right?  No?  Guess it's just me.

From left to right, I present to the fabulous details in the fabulous world of Miss V.

1)  The cubed bookshelves that house her toys/books/etc.  As always, the basket that is open is her "dress up" basket.  The plastic microphone is within reach for (very) frequent use, as is the little magnetic drawing toy that helped her learn her first letter:  V.

2)  Her pink princess tent that she got from Christmas.  It's a fun temporary addition to the room, also a great place for hiding in our fairly frequent games of hide-n-seek.  But the household member who loves it more than anyone is our cat Mittens.  So much so, in fact, that her toys now belong in the tent at night when we clean up.  Not sure if she thinks she is royalty or she just likes the fact that she can hide from the chaos.  I suspect it's both.

3)  Behind Daniel's head, you'll see a taped "V" to the wall.  Well, you can't exactly see it, but trust me, that's what it is.  After discovering tape and scrapbook scissors, Daniel has been a madman about making little creations and taping them in random spots.  Violet has received at least three of these random gifts.

4)  Her beloved brother.  He is adored, followed and revered... also pushed, yelled at and tattled on.  This is the way of siblings, and there's nothing more fun than watching their relationship develop.

5)  The little pink pram behind Daniel has become far more than a stroller to Violet.  It occasionally houses sleeping baby dolls, but more often serves as a make shift grocery cart or tea party mobile that conveniently moves the tea party outdoors when necessary.  

6)  That little recliner has been around since this was Daniel's room.  But never has it gotten so much use.  Every nap, every bedtime:  "Rock me, please!"  We cuddle up and rock away.  We tell stories, sing songs, and sometimes both of us say that we're too tired to do anything but just rock.  I have already informed her that I'll be rocking her even when she's in high school.

7)  The biggest change in Violet's world right now is her sleeping contraption:  A brand new toddler bed.  We skipped this stage completely with Daniel, but Violet is so petite, it is actually practical.  That, and her room is tiny, so it saves space.  She LOVES it.  The downside:  Those satin sheets that are so good for her hair are now also good and letting her slide right off the bed.  It took a few nights for her to get the hang of staying in bed.

8)  The Cute White Dress that has been Violet's permanent accessory these past few months.  My childhood slip has become her royal attire.  If we'd let her, she'd sleep in it.

9)  The fuzzy yellow duck "skin" (from my childhood) is part of our post-bath routine, and both Daniel and Violet like to curl up on it to get warm and dry.  We had just done bath time that morning, so Mr. Duck was still out to play.

There you go.  A left-to-right tour of my beauty's little world.  She brings such magic to every room she enters... it's no wonder that her room is our home's hub of wonder and playfulness.  


Two Puffs with a Twist

Our latest style isn't a crazy new invention.  In fact, it's a combination of some "fail proof" elements for us:  Two Puffs + Bangs + Flat Rope Twists (and lots of them).

Gramma is coming this week for a visit, and we need something sturdy that will hold up to lots and lots of tickling/chasing/snuggling/hugging/kissing/swinging/wrestling/playing and the other fun stuff that happens when Gramma comes to visit.  

I made up the part lines as I went, and just copied them on the flip side.  I would have done them differently with more forethought, but they ended up looking geometrically creative and pretty darn symmetrical.  It wasn't the fastest style in the world, there were a lot of twists (and upside down ones still take me longer than they should), but we finished in about two and a half movies.

Violet had just graduated to a "big girl bed" when we did this style, and wanted to do her hair photos in her room, on her bed.  She loves to lay on her stomach, reading a book with her little feet up in the air.  It's priceless.  So very Bye Bye Birdie of her.

Update after two weeks:  This style lasted us close to two full weeks! This was the longest any style has gone, aside from yarn twists.  We did the last few days as a twist-out with two puffs, and then a twist out into a single pony tail.  I can't believe it reaches into one puff!  Her first hair cut is coming up, which is why I wanted this style to hold us over so we wouldn't have to do a new style for just a few days.


Footie PJs

An entire post dedicated to a pair of pajamas.  I have no idea who gave these to us (handmedowns from somewhere!)  but I love them on Violet.  And I love her in them.  

And really, is there anything cuter than a tiny little girl in a pair of footie pajamas?  
Nope.  There's not.