Tuesday, August 30, 2011

writer's block/photographer's lament

So, it's been a while since I posted. While I fancy myself a writer, it's clear that without my camera, I'm lacking material for my posts. Photos have a way of bringing to life mere words on a page.

I've been grieving the loss of my camera and waiting for the one I want to become available.

And today, I finally ordered a new camera with my birthday money and I'm sooooooo excited! I can hardly wait for it to come. Yay for free two-day shipping! Canon Loyalty Program rocks the house!

So the grieving will give way to new, better photos (upgraded camera), new content, and cuteness beyond compare.

Stay tuned...

Monday, August 15, 2011

Maddie: 55 Months

My Dearest Punky Pies,

Another month gone, another month older. You are funny and dramatic, witty and opinionated. You love to lead, delegate, organize and head things up. Did I mention you like to be in charge? You are creative and artistic. You are kind and gentle and incredibly patient with your brother. Yet one of my favorite things about this month is the neverending stream of things that come out of your mouth.

Just last week you said to your brother, "Sam, do you think I'm cute?" He replied, "No." (I'm thinking, great, now we have to talk our way out of this one.) Yet you smiled and returned with, "You're right, I'm PRETTY!" We are so relieved that you have a strong sense of self, rooted in the fact that you are a beloved daughter of God himself! Because you bear his image, you are indeed beautiful.

The week before that the two of you were engaged in an intense back-and-forth discussion about ninjas versus robots. Sam, obviously, was rooting for robots, but you decided ninjas were mightier. The two of you bickered and grew louder and louder before I intervened. "Maddie," I said, "sometimes it's helpful to compromise with your brother. Could you nicely tell him that you'd rather be a ninja than a robot, please?" "Ok. Mama. Sam, I'd rather be a ninja than a robot, okay buddy?" Sam: "Ok, Maa Maa." Maddie: "I know, bud, I'll be a robot ninja. They are the super most powerful!"

I wish I could make this stuff up. I'd be a really good writer. But you two just say the funniest things and interact in the craziest ways. I hardly imagined I'd be settling robot vs. ninja disputes between my two and four year-olds.

You seem to be going through a crazy growth spurt. Just today I was uploading and editing pictures from our hike with the family and there is one picture where your head is blocked by the entrance to a rock cave. Your legs dangle down and your arms are crossed across your lap, very adult-like. For just a minute, I didn't recognize the body. You are SO big.

As a matter of fact, one afternoon last week you fell asleep in the car and so I carried you up to your room. As I ascended the stairs, I felt so incredibly small. Usually you just feel big to me, but on this particular day it was the other way around. I was acutely aware of how much of me you took up, arms and legs wrapped around my torso, the weight of your body laboring my breathing. I felt like a little Mary Lou Retton. Crazy.

When we drove up for your last day of Summer day camp last week, we talked about the week and how fun it had been. You remembered all the cool things you had done and the projects that you finished. We discussed how it was your last day and you said you wanted to go at least forty-three more days. By the time we got to the door, your demeanor completely changed. You clung to my leg, buried your face against me, and said you were scared and your tummy felt funny. "I just want to be with you, Mama," you said. I hardly knew what to say or how to respond. Never, ever have you refused to go somewhere. I stayed for a while, hoping you'd warm up to your peers and grow excited when your best buddy arrived. But you never did. We left, hand in hand, as you described what you were experiencing. Eventually it came out you were a little nervous, a little unsure because you were sad camp was over. In your own little way, you wanted to be in control of the last day. And so we hustled off to the zoo, on an unexpected, fun little trip, and it was fabulous. How grateful I am that you can communicate your feelings so effectively, and also, that you still kind of like to be with me.

In all the ways you are growing and maturing and becoming more independent, you still slow down from time to time, needing to sit on my lap or snuggle extra long at the end of the day. You are so big that I have to remind myself to still baby you at times, to hold you close and carry you up the stairs and cover you in nighttime kisses. You are so capable yet also my little girl.

It has become increasingly clear throughout this year that your love language is special time. The very thought of a date with Daddy or special alone time with Mama is enough to perk you up, fill you with giddy joy, and inspire all kinds of adventures. You glow when allowed to carry on in conversation, to have undivided attention and special privileges. All of the troublesome, attention-getting behaviors just disappear and you flourish. We have been prioritizing these times so as to allow you that unique time to shine. (And sometimes we argue over who gets to take you out. It's that much fun.)

I can't believe that in a few short weeks you'll be starting Pre-K, going five days a week! In some ways, I can hardly wait. You are SO ready for the stimulating and fun educational environment. You've grown tired of our local trips and my attempts at keeping your brain active (enough with the letters, mom!) But I also know that this is the end of an era. You will be attending school every day of the week, like a real live person. I'll have so much time to myself, and with Sam, and you'll have so much time with your peers and amazing teachers.

And I'll send you off, pigtails bouncing, pumas pounding the pavement, with hardly a look back in my direction. I know you'll do great. You are so capable, so smart, so fun and so curious. But when the day comes that you need an extra hug, a kiss for reassurance, or some special Mama time, I'll be right here, waiting.



Sunday, August 07, 2011

Samuel: 29 Months

Hey Little Buddy,

So here we find ourselves in the midst of another monthly update. You are a little older, a little wiser, a little sneakier, and a whole lot cuter.

One afternoon we went crawdad hunting and you were perfectly content to sit on a log and look at the lego catalog. If the seven year-old you are to be is anything like the seven year-olds I already know, this obsession with all things lego is not ending anytime soon. Add to that obsession: blocks, sticks, robots, trucks, tractors, motorcycles and sound effects.

Trips to the zoo are just that much more fun with a bucket of "cheese" and your endless supply of joy. You especially loved the petting zoo, though your gregarious approach to life *may* have slightly frightened a few pygmy goats. It was with great pride and happiness that you stood against the ruler by the rides, well past the 36 required inches. The little cars with their bells brought nothing but great delight and the cacophony of siren sounds made possible by ten two to five year-olds.

You are passionate and intense at times, prone to throwing epic fits when it's time to get off the amusement rides, head up for naptime, or abandon the stack of blocks. But you are just as quickly calmed and distracted, snuggling in soft places on your Mama's body, giving up the struggle, and finding your joy once again.

You test the limits more and more each day, seeing just how far you can go before being disciplined. This might look like a rock to the head, throwing things down the stairs, touching all things verboten, all while smiling that knowing, wry smile. One day as we headed upstairs for naptime (cue tantrum) I calmly stated that you had a choice: to listen and obey, and receive naptime privileges, or to continue fighting and go straight to bed. To this clever parenting tactic you cried "NOBEY!," a thoughtful mix of no and obey, sure to enter the common toddler vernacular from this point on.

You love all things art and throw your entire body into each project. Even with many, many reminders that chalk is for the pavement, markers are for paper, crayons are not for eating, yada yada yada, you end up wearing and/or eating many of the art supplies. You absolutely love painting and will spend many minutes engrossed in a singular stroke on the page. It is so fun to watch.

You also love to make people laugh (wonder where you got that from?) Just the other day we were at a coffee shop when another mom asked you, "How old are you?" You replied, matter of factly, "Eight." I took a turn, looking you in the eyes and asking another question, "Sam, are you two?" Your response: "No. Eight!" followed by maniacal laughter, complete with the throwing back of your head. Then you proceeded to sit next to Ty Ty and copy his every move. It kept us all in stitches.

Your brain loves to take things apart and put them back together. You are a natural with puzzles and make all sorts of fun and complicated things with blocks and legos. You are trying out more and more words but seem pretty content to make do with the few you use with regularity. Just in the past month have you grown increasingly impatient with me when I cannot understand, so we're hoping this will spur some new language developments. But we'll see. :)

You are such a lovey, snuggly (and sometimes) Mama's boy. Whenever I go to leave, it's sort of a guessing game as to whether you see me off with little more than a nod of acknowledgement or run screaming to my side, clinging to my leg, shouting "No go! No go Mama!" Last night we headed off on a date, leaving you with some beloved friends, and when I came to give you loves you barely leaned your head a few inches in my direction, so subtle a movement I knew you'd be just fine. Then you proceeded to go pee in the potty not once, but TWO times, for our babysitting guests. What the what?! Since when do you have any interest in that?

You are always keeping us on our toes, warming our hearts to the core, and making us laugh until our bellies hurt. You are such a sweet, sweet gift from God and the loviest of boys.

Hugs, Kisses, and Luh (loves, in Sam-speak),


Thursday, August 04, 2011

a short life, but well-lived

It's been a month, but I'm still grieving. My beloved camera, which went practically everywhere with me, just up and died. We were in the middle of a shoot, snapping away while Sam and Maddie played on the tractors at Papa's work. So, so sad.

She was a good camera: solid, dependable, versatile. She came into our lives shortly after the arrival of our sweet little guy and has captured many, many of life's moments since then. There were first days of school and family vacations, Sam's first taste of solid food and first ice cream cone. She survived many bumps and bruises and kept right on snapping.

The first picture she ever took:

And one of the last:

Rest in peace, Canon Rebel XS.

Because you're irreplaceable, we've decided to go with another model altogether. Here's hoping she's as dependable and sturdy (and lasts a bit longer).

Monday, August 01, 2011

after my last deep post, something rather shallow

It's the internet hair rage, sweeping the blogosphere: no-heat curls.

Of course, I had to try it out, because I'm all about spending as little time as possible getting ready. :)

Exhibit A: my hair in its natural state (sort of wavy)

I followed the you tube technique exactly, wrapping medium-sized sections of hair (maybe 5 each side, 10 total wraps). I had washed my hair in the afternoon, let it dry naturally, and wrapped it (almost dry, just barely damp in a few places) that night, around 10. I didn't add any product before wrapping. This part took about 10-15 minutes. Easy.

I slept all night with the hair wrapped, as I normally do, switching between sides and back. In the morning, I applied hairspray about 15 minutes before removing the band (it was around 9 am, so the hair was wrapped for 11 hours or so).

When I removed the band, my hair was REALLY curly in front, a little bit frizzy/curly in the back where I wasn't as careful or methodical with the wrapping. I brushed through each section with a paddle brush, curling the ends around the side of my palm (as detailed in the video tutorial). I did a lot of twisting just with my hands, too. I spent more time than I wanted to, probably 20 minutes with the styling of the curls. I would liken the finished product to a modernized Nellie Olsen; it was actually a bit too much curl for me. But I knew they would relax throughout the day, so I went with it. By later that afternoon, I had voluminous, large waves.

Exhibit B: various stages of the no-heat (vintage) curl technique

Top row, left to right:
hair wrapped around band, night before
hair immediately after removing band, morning of
hair after combing and taming curls
Bottom row, left to right:
back view of hair after combing and taming
hair in natural light, later that morning
curls more relaxed, in the afternoon, headed to pool

I tried again a few days later, but wrapped larger sections, and much looser. The next morning it was sort of a mess (sections falling out, unwrapping from the band) but it got a mildly wavy, beachy sort of vibe. I spent virtually no time styling the waves, just combed them out a little with my fingers. Ideally, I'd probably like something right in between my two attempts.

Verdict: I will definitely do this again, maybe even once a week. I'll wrap larger sections, but pay closer attention so they are tight and methodical I'll also try it on Maddie's hair.