Fake Pout

I found these photos from a "hair style shoot" a month or so ago and I had to share.  They just make me laugh.  

Violet's pout is in full force these days, and she wields that thing like a weapon.  Half the time, the actual pout makes her laugh and she loses the battle on her own.  For example... this happened when I told her that she could not have a sucker:  

So I laughed (like every good mom would, right??!) and it made her laugh, too:  

One of these days I hope to document the "full body pout" she has perfected.  It's impressive, pathetic and adorable all at the same time.  


Blue Dress a la 1981

I love that my parents saved a lot of my old dresses, and my (homemade!) hair accessories as well.  There are few things as sweet as watching Violet rock one of my old frocks - and that's just what she did today for church.  She obliged me a few photos in exchange for a sucker... one that matched her dress, of course.  

My parents made each of these clips for my sister and I when we were kids.  Now Violet is their proud owner, and we keep them on the bar and velvet strips my Dad crafted when I was young.  It's fun just to go through them, enjoying specific memories or just the warm feelings of childhood in general.


My Sweet Valentine

For Valentine's Day this year, we pulled out an "archive" outfit - one of my childhood frocks.  The sweet little pink and white polka dot number was intended to be a baby dress.  As in, 6-9 months, I'm pretty sure.  But one of the perks of having au uber-petite little lady is that she can wear baby dresses like shirts.

We snuck outside for a few photos before heading to school, and the Valentine's Day party that was waiting for her.  Violet helped me craft little heart valentines for her friends the day before and was looking forward to handing them out.  They featured her favorite sweet treat, Dum-Dum suckers.  (Which also helped her survive yet another holiday centered around junk food.  Praise the Lord for Dum-Dums.)

And on that note... my sweet little Violet valentine...

Ah yes, and Mittens snuck out for a quick Valentine's day jaunt.  It's a little more thrilling on holidays, apparently.  


Essentials of Life: Stiletto Boots

From time to time (read: almost daily) Violet will mosey into my closet (read: sneak in) and try on some shoes (read: anything with heels).  

I came around the corner this morning and found THIS leaning up against the couch:  

Lord help us.  I should start a savings account now JUST for her shoe-fund.  And while we're starting savings accounts, perhaps one should be dedicated to the copious amounts of hair dye it will take to cover the grey hair I know is coming soon... cute shoes seem only to increase her sass level.  


Halfrows with Beads

Valentine's Day is next week and while I'm drooling over the elaborate heart-themed-styles some of the (very accomplished) hair gurus are taking on, I'm just not there yet.  So we decided that pink and red beads would be festive enough and created a mock headband of beads from ear to ear.

I ALMOST did flat twists (again) but made myself take another stab at cornrows... but this time only "halfrows".  This turned out to be fabulous for practice purposes, and we ended up with a pretty, creative, feminine style perfect for Valentine's Day.

Clearly, Violet has problems loving herself... :)  It is hilarious how much confidence is NOT an issue with her.  I'm hoping it stays this way for a long... long... long... time.

Here's an up close shot of the latest cornrow skills.  Not fabulous, but definitely getting better each time.  The beads were easy to anchor, I just banded the cornrow with a bit of the "free hair" behind it, and the rubber band kept the bead in place.  After a week, only two beads worked their way over the bands.  

Once again, she helped me pick out the outfit for these "style photos" and she was VERY excited about the shoes.  They were the shoes she wore at Halloween with her ice-cream cone outfit.

It obviously isn't a totally protective style (the whole back of her head is unprotected) BUT it is one we'll do again for things like holidays, plays/productions, photos, etc as the headband is extremely striking and the rows make the detail work look more impressive than it actually is!

Every style is fun, but the ones I adapt and get creative with are the most rewarding.  As I'm getting more comfortable in this role of "stylist", my nerves are calming and my imagination is starting to take off... I sense a bunch of new styles in our future!   


Bantu Knots

I have literally been looking forward to this style since months (years) before I met Violet.  It's one of those traditional African fascinations for me - spunky, beautiful, proud, playful and sophisticated.  I believe the country of origin is West Africa, but the style can be seen all over the continent.

I took Violet's braids out after a week and was surprised at the not-so-hot braid out... instead of leaving the braid out as I had originally planned, I just kept the part lines and re-moisturized each section, banding it into a bantu knot.  It was quick work and really (really) fun.  

I love her long graceful neck, and this perpetual "up do" only emphasizes her beautiful lines.  It just suits her somehow... the fiesty, playful, fierce little girl I get to call daughter.  

The knots themselves are very simple to make.  I twisted the section of hair over and over until it started "twisting over itself" at the base.  Then each coil I added went UNDERNEATH the rest of the stack, forcing the existing coils upwards.  The ends are tucked in and many knots stayed in place without bands.  To make sure we lasted the week though, I added loose rubber bands at the base of each knot.  

She slept easily in them (they move easily, laying on their side with the slightest pressure).  In fact, my biggest irritation with this style was that each morning the knots were pointing in every possible direction.  At first I attempted to fix this, then realized that it looked just as cute that way.  As usual, me "chilling out" is the key to us enjoying a style.  I'm learning, I'm learning.

She loves her knots.  This is absolutely a style we'll be doing again in the future!  And next time, I'm thinking triangle parts.  


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.