26 February 2007

What a Tangled Mess We Weave

Ever since I gave birth to Charis, I had been anxious about this time. I knew her hair would keep growing and growing, and I knew that eventually, I'd have to graduate from doing her hair in pig tails (easy peasie) to a pony tail (lemon squeezie) to....

a french braid. I have dreaded this because, while my mother did fantastic french braids on my hair in my youth and my mother-in-law did all manner of braids on her two girls, I am fairly inept in the french braid department.

I started practicing my french braid technique when I was in my teens. When we'd visit with our family friends, Lucky and Dennis, I'd play with their young daughter's hair--thick, full, espresso brown hair that begged to be styled over and over. As I reflect on this, it is remarkable to me that she willingly sat still for this--now, trying to do even a simple pony tail on Charis involves bribery. I was successful in every sort of -tail imaginable, but the braid taunted me. I would try and try to weave her hair with my fumbling fingers, only to produce a tangled mess of many braids that I called a "Scotch Braid," which I pretended was an actual thing that someone would want to have done to their hair instead of what it was in reality--a gnarly, confused, elaborate knot on the back of her head that would require additional hours to comb out.

So, the other day, I thought it was high time, what with Charis' bangs being at prime eyeball-poking length, to not only try the french braid, but to try the double french braid--one braid down each side of the head. I was afraid it would be my Waterloo. I armed Charis with snacks and her Diego video (she calls him "'Eggo") and set to work, and I am proud to say that 15 years of practice have paid off! Here are some photos of the final product.

Little Man Walking

How quickly time passes. Just a few short posts ago, I was pontificating about the virtues of crawling on hands and knees, as my brilliant little guy had just learned to do, and now this. This past Saturday, Judah officially switched from being a crawler who occasionally walked a few paces to a walker who occasionally feels he must crawl. By and large, Judah is toddling everywhere; today, he walked from our downstairs bathroom all the way to the living room coffee table, an as-the-crow-flies (though, enclosed in a house, a crow flying would leave quite a mess, so I say this for illustrative purposes only) distance of about 20-25 feet. He is becoming so bold!

He's also wiping out a lot. Poor kid--when he goes down, he goes down hard, but that doesn't keep him from trying. I love that. He's got permanent-looking bruises on his knees from his rescue falls (when he catches himself mid-fall before he kisses the floor) and has had quite a few head bumps (when he doesn't). It's really amazing to see him stumble from room to room! And also a bit stupefying when I consider the mess that two walking children can make--as if the mess wasn't already big enough!

I will post some pictures of him walking when I have some good ones to share.

13 February 2007

One Giant Leap For Judahkind

The other night I was on the phone with my mom. She asked if Judah was now crawling with his belly off of the floor consistently. "100% of the time," I replied.

That is now a lie.

Judah is quickly on his way to being a walker! That's right! He's not quite 11 months old, but over the past week, he has been taking steps! It started with his pulling himself up on furniture and then letting go--he'd stand there for a few seconds, then topple over. Most of the time he did this on the couch, so it was a soft landing that brought him great joy.

Next, knowing his legs were strong enough to hold him up, I began initiating "come to Mama" walking sessions where, at any one time, he'd take 4-15 unassisted steps before diving into my arms. [A cute side note: Charis, not wanting to be left out of the action, declared, "I walk, too!" and proceeded to toddle 4 or 5 steps before falling into my arms laughing.] I've showed Abe, so he can confirm. The most effective method I've found for encouraging his steps is walking behind him, but holding my hands out in front of him--it's the carrot-on-a-stick method. Using this procedure, he has taken as many as 20 unassisted steps.

But then, this morning, he was holding on to the coffee table, he let go, and he actually walked 5 steps to the nearest footstool--unassisted and, most phenomenally, self-initiated! Pretty cool!

Another cute Charis story, just so this post isn't Judah-heavy: This morning, Charis was eating her breakfast in the booster seat. I had just gotten Judah up (who has been sick), and he was cuddling with me on the couch. Charis was ready to get out, so she requested that I set brother down and help her. "Well, let's give him just a minute. He just woke up and he's getting his mommy fix."
"Oh, no!" Charis said. "Mommy's broken?"

07 February 2007

Antiques Roadshow Update

I think I mentioned this past summer that we traveled to Milwaukee, WI for a visit with Bank Girl Noelle and her husband Mike (great hosts and great friends--what fun!) and to experience the PBS phenomenon Antiques Roadshow for ourselves. Abe and I are fans (Abe especially), so for his birthday, I applied for tickets to attend and have items appraised. We got tickets and scrambled for some antiques (we don't really have many antiques of note), finally settling on some family silver. It turned out that the value of our silver was negligible--a child's flatware set was valued at $40, and a tea and creamer set was valued at about $150--but that totally wasn't the point. We went for the experience, and it was so much fun! We didn't make it on camera with our items, but we were standing in the background when a woman was having her item appraised, so there's a good chance that we'll show up in the background on the show.

We also got in the "Feedback Booth" before we left, and this is where we might really shine. We had Judah with us, and he was sort of the focus of our Feedback Booth spiel, so we figure we have a GOOD chance of getting on with that. PBS would be silly not to put our cutie on TV!

At the time of our visit, the most detailed information they supplied regarding Air Date was "beginning in January," so I was hoping we'd be on soon. Turns out that the Milwaukee episodes won't air until this coming fall, so if you've been checking out Antiques Roadshow hoping to see us, you've got quite a wait! I will update with specific dates when I know them for those of you interested in seeing our TV debut (Mom)!

06 February 2007

The Blizzard of 2007

Our meteorologists tell us that we haven't seen temperatures like this since 1995. Temperatures like what? Well, check out this photo Abe snapped of our outdoor thermometer yesterday before he left for work:

As if it weren't cold enough, it has also been snowy. Snowy, snowy, snowy. On Saturday, Abe decided to go out and snowblow the driveway.

This is what it looked like from the house:

Granted, this photo was taken through a window that is less than sparkling clean, but most of the interference you see is blowing snow.

And no, Abe isn't flipping me the bird--snow-lover that he is, he was holding up one of those hand signals that, in sign language, means "I love you," but which has been adopted by surfers, snowboarders, and the terminally cool everywhere to mean, loosely, "This is awesome, dude."

Here's another one taken from our front porch, looking up the street. See if you can identify exactly where the street is:

If you guessed that it is past the telephone pole, you're right! I believe, though I may be incorrect, that if you look very very closely, you may even be able to see a car passing in the background. Or not. Either way, you'll note that few birds have frequented the birdfeeder.

I know that some people hate the snow and cold. Let's be honest: I am no fan of cold...unless it is accompanied by snow. There's just something about being inside a cozy warm house, bundled up in fleece and slippers, sipping a hot chocolate (if you're into that sort of thing), and watching the snow whirl and rage outside. It makes you want to curl up in a blanket on the couch and watch a really good old movie and revel in the fact that not only are you hibernating at home, most everyone else is, and things are peaceful and quiet.

I imagine you'll be reading a very different post when it starts to warm and all of this snow turns to slush and mud...

In other news, I want to report that, effective immediately, Charis has changed her brother's name from Judah to Bubby. Just thought you should know!

02 February 2007

Snow Babies

We were completely afraid that this entire winter was going to be a big fat dud. Many of its early days saw temperatures of 40-45 degrees, so on the rare occasion the temperature dipped low enough to allow snowfall, it was quickly melted away. In fact, it has been quite some time sice we've had any snow of note; we purchased a sled for Charis last winter which she was completely unable to use in the year 2006.

Now, though, we are enjoying--and I really mean that--a bonafide winter. It is a sign of a true northerner that when told by the weatherman they can expect temeratures well below freezing and a snowfall of several inches, they smile contentedly and say something like, "It's about time!" My personal feeling on winter is that I don't mind it as long as everything is frosted in white. When it's just cold and dead and grey, well, that I can do without, thank you very much.

So last Sunday, we went to Abe's parents' house to belatedly celebrate his mom's birthday. We had a great winter meal (chicken broccoli alfredo and garlic bread, angel food cake and chocolate angel food cake with three different ice cream varieties to choose from and a homemade raspberry sauce to top it all off, and homemade sparkling grape juice to drink), and then we bundled the kids (and grownups!) and turned to the outdoors. Abe's parents have a decent-sized hill for sledding--perfect for younger kids, but still fun for the bigger ones, so Charis finally got her first sled ride.

She was not thrilled.

Here she is with Auntie after going down the hill and being pelted in the face with snow. We realized that she vastly preferred going down backwards--no snow or freezing wind in the face, no feeling of impending doom when racing towards the trees at the bottom... Still, she was honest:

"Charis, do you want to go down the hill with mommy?"



"No. Inside, please."

Oddly enough, after introducing her to the wonderful world of snow angels and freeing her from any sledding obligations, she was all too happy to remain outdoors even after all of the kids and ladies had gone inside.

Here is our little snow angel.

Judah's role in the day was a bit smaller. He did go down the hill a couple times with various parents and aunts and uncles, and seemed neither to enjoy it nor dislike it.

His nose did run like a faucet. And he did have an unmistakable "I'm freezing out here, guys" look about him, even though he was bundled to the hilt with a snowsuit, hat, cozy pjs, extra socks, and warm boots. His greatest show of pleasure that day came when he was finally freed from his fleecy confines and allowed to be nekked.

Here's our cold little fella with his Uncle and Auntie who, by the way, lovelovelove him. They have assured us that if he ever turns up missing, chances are they have borrowed him from us.
That's okay by us! Uncle Jed runs dogs--and is really good at it--and wants to take Judah someday when he's older. Won't that be fun, especially for Judah?

This last picture was taken towards the end of our time outdoors, when the sun was going down and it was really starting to get nippy. I offer it as proof that big kids can have fun, too! (Though I was a bit afraid we were going to pop this snow tube) All in all, a really really good day! And the weatherman has lined up single-digit temperaures for us in the next week, so it seems we will continue to have opportunities for outdoor winter fun!