Saturday, January 30, 2010

Winter Wonderland

9 inches of snow in Hampton Roads. Mother Nature dun lost her mind. Nonetheless... let the games begin!

Jazzy Stones X

Jasmine Olivia hit the 9-month mark about a week ago, and had her 9-month check-up just yesterday. On the way home from the doctor's office, I was trying to think about the things I could include in this milestone update... but then last night she did something that pretty much trumped everything I could possibly write about. She took six steps unassisted. I don't think my bottom jaw could have hit the floor any faster. I was on the phone with V when it happened... and all she could hear was a chorus me saying, "Holy cow... holy cow... holy cow... " She's been standing and balancing without help for over a month (and balancing well at that) and will basically run across the room if you give her fingers to hold onto... so we knew that it would only be a matter of time before enough confidence kicked it in for her to take a few steps on her own. But somehow it was still shocking when she actually did it. Incredible. And as I look back at Justin's 9-month blog entry, it's weird to read about him "starting to crawl", and "beginning to balance" at the same age. Funny part is, he took (what seemed like) forever to crawl, but went from there to walking more than crawling in about 6 weeks. So while sistergirl has been crawling for (gosh I don't even remember) almost 3 months now (?) ... I'm anxious to see how long she'll stay at this in-between stage. Once her brother figured out the walking thing, crawling was out the window. So I'm waiting with bated breath to see what she remembers from yesterday's milestone stroll across the living room.

As for other happenings, Jasmine Olivia...

  • is still drooling like a monster, but still hasn't beat her brother in the teeth department. She's got zero... which is the same number he had until just 3 weeks shy of turning one.

  • still cries to be left alone at pretty much any time of day. If she can't see you, she is simply not happy. I guess that means she'll be a social creature like her momma. On the other hand, I'll have to check with V on this one, but I will say that I think this is starting to shift just a little bit. I've been leaving her in a different room a lot more lately; sometimes with Justin and sometimes without. And the panic that usually ensues in her breathing finally seems to be lessening each day.

  • is 28 inches tall and 15.5 pounds. She also took her needle without crying yesterday, which just further cements her reputation as the thug of the house. With respect to measurements, she's in the 60th, 8th, and 75th percentiles with respect to height, weight and head. Yep, we're two-for-two in making lean big headed babies. Any questions?

  • is still exclusive to breast-milk, but will also down 3 to 5 jars of baby food during the course of the day. She has also seen her fair share of table food. Speaking of which, have you ever seen those squirrels that are always within 4 feet of the picnic table... just waiting for you to drop a crumb or two so they can swoop in at the speed of light and catch the falling food before you know what happened? Or those vultures that circle a wounded animal, knowing that a meal will soon be on the way... Well... that's Jasmine when it comes to Justin's dining room table. It didn't take long before she identified him as the weakest link (i.e., the one most likely to leave food unattended). And so, when it's time for him to eat, she just stands there. And watches. And waits. Because it will only be a few minutes before his attention deficit kicks in and his plate is sitting there unattended. Begging her to gooble as much as she can before someone finds her out. Hence her code name... agent crumb snatcher.

    But back to her eating habits... It's funny how quickly we can sometimes forget about particular struggles we have once something shifts in a different direction. Just that quickly my memories are starting to fade with respect to how DIFFICULT it was to get her to eat or drink ANYTHING. We tried feeding in in silence, with a little background noise, with lots of noise, in front of Justin, hidden in the back room, with television, no television, football hold, cross-cradle, warm milk, cold milk... lol.. you name it. It was a fiasco. And just like that, poof, distant memories. Now granted, she'll never match the appetite that Justin had in infancy (after every time we fed him, I vaguely remember having to count my fingers to make sure they were all there)... but I'm excited to say that the food struggles are (mostly) behind us. Granted, she's still nosey as all get out... which is what we've always attributed her poor appetite to; she rather be nosey than eat... but at least now she understands the value of a good meal.

  • loves to smack her lips and mimic the kissing sound of "muah". And she is infatuated with waving goodbye. She does it so much, it's a wonder that her hand doesn't fall off. She also does it on cue. And what's cool is she'll do it whether you say "bye bye" or "adios". Speaking of "adios"... I know we're miles away from it, I'm but already excited for Justin that he'll eventually have a bilingual buddy to talk to. The only down side to raising him bilingual (with a slight tilt to the spanish side) is watching the "what are you talking about" look other people give him when to talks to them in spanish. Or the look that he gives them when they say basic things in english that he doesn't get. Although, I will say that he seems to be speaking more and more english lately. I wonder if that's a product of frustration he might feel when people (including us at times) don't get what he's saying. Or is it just an attempt to better assimilate since just about everyone else he knows speaks english. But I digress... after all, this is Jasmine's entry!

  • still has much attitude. As laid back as Justin could be at times, Jasmine is adamant about what she does and doesn't want. I remember at 3 months thinking, there's no way she threw that toy at me on purpose. Well... fast forward 6 months and let's just say that we've learned to ignore the crashing sounds when things go flying from her high chair to the floor. And don't let it be nap time. Attitude. Just close the door and turn the monitors off. She's gotta fall asleep eventually, right? Anyway, I can go on and on and on... but the bottom line is, we've got one child who is certainly not happy when she doesn't get her way. I have NO CLUE where she could get such stubbornness from (no grandparent comments allowed, thank you). And for some reason, as she gets older, I have a feeling that this is going to equate to more problems for daddy than for mommy. Call it a hunch.

    Yet, with that said, the positive side is that she is superb at listening when you tell her "no". She stops what she's doing immediately and comes crawling with her lip poked out... Unlike another child I know who hears the word no and somehow translates to "do it one more time and then stop." (why are my parents laughing as they read this? I wonder).

    Last but not least, don't tell anybody I said this but, I swear the girl can talk sometimes. Granted, she's been doing the da-da-da-da thing for a while, and she is a parrot with most other sounds... but every now and then... she'll say something that, if I was more than 1/2 crazy, I'd swear was a sentence. And it's not just me. V and I will be standing in the kitchen and as Jasmine yells something from the other room, we both whiplash towards each other with that look like, "did you hear that?".... It's crazy. Now I know that the speech thing is a definite part of girls learning faster than boys (which I believe to be absolute fact)... but if it starts this early, then I'll simply be beside myself. For now though, I'm content to just think that I'm hearing things. I'll let you know if that changes.

    So that's the haps on our little step-taking momma. Consider yourself updated.

  • American Idol

    We went to see Bill Cosby last weekend at Chrysler Hall. Hilarious as expected. If only some things could last forever. Legendary.

    Item number#14 is officially off the bucket list.

    Saturday, January 23, 2010

    Building Community

    Do you want to really get to know someone? Then watch them interact with their children. A few weekends ago, I had the pleasure of doing exactly that with one of my colleagues at work. I have always felt a certain connection with Ming since we were part of the same recruiting class by the University back in summer of '03. And so it was doubly special to spend time with him, his wife Le, and daughter Alice. I'm hoping this will be the first of an ongoing "get to know your colleague" project, as a look to highlight the other side of some of my co-workers and share the photos with the department. Colleagues, check your email for a link to the full gallery. It's funny how we can work side by side with someone for years (or decades) and know so little about what they do once they leave the office. Here are just a handful of photos from the shoot. Ming, you have a beautiful family and I appreciate the opportunity to photograph the three of you. Thanks again.

    Pure Energy

    Friday, January 15, 2010

    The Joneses

    Keeping up with The Joneses
    Getting a dog has a been a point of discussion in our house since Justin Alexander was born. But when the neighbors bought their son a dog last week, I refused to be outdone. So we went and bought Justin a lion. Top that, buddy!

    Hold on a minute... where's Jasmine Olivia? And how come the lion doesn't look hungry anymore? Honey... maybe we should rethink the lion thing.

    But jokes aside, it was a pretty (cold but) amazing day at the zoo. I was in total disbelief to see the lion cub so close to the glass, and doubly awestruck to watch Justin's interaction with her. The kid is just fearless. There was no hesitation and evidently no thought of, "hmm... that lion could eat me, couldn't she?" I don't know if this is a product of being two, or a product of being Justin; but he climbed up to the glass and started interacting with the lion like they were old friends. While I was standing there snapping away with the camera, thinking "Holy Cow!", on Justin's face there was no smile, no sense of "wow", and no perception of this being out of the ordinary. You would've thought he did this everyday. I think I'm going to start calling him the lion whisperer. Meanwhile, I put Jasmine (aka frazzle) up to the glass and she pretty much freaked out. In hindsight that was my fault, as she obviously doesn't even know what a lion (or any other animal) is. All she saw was something large, furry, foreign, and with lots of teeth. If I was 8 months old, I guess I would've freaked out, too.

    Wednesday, January 13, 2010

    Back on the Job

    A 12 day gap between entries could only mean one thing around here: It's time to go back to work! And so goes the holiday season. It was most definitely a nice break, and for a change it didn't seem too short, nor too long. But instead, it was just enough time to enjoy the family, get some things done around the house, and to regroup and recharge before tackling another semester. I only have 2 classes this semester; which is by far my lightest load in my six years at the University. So this semester should be a great one. I may finally have time to implement all of these great ideas I have but never get to when it comes to improving student achievement. It also may mean a little more time for research, family activities, and (whoo hoo) photography.

    I should also mention that mommy is officially back to work, too. No, she hasn't relinquished her position as super mom and wife extraordinaire on the home front. But she has decided to teach a class (one night a week) at a local community college. Her first foray into the realm of higher education; and if day one was any indication, I have a hunch that this won't be her last. In preparing for the class, it didn't take long for her to be reminded of how much she simply loves the math; and the bottom line is that she is just really good at what she does. Anyway, congrats on the milestone, Love. It looks like this will be a fun semester for both of us.

    And as the most recent additions to the Black and Decker team, Justin and Jasmine are apparently back at work, too. We just haven't figured out what they're building. But then, I don't think they know either.

    Friday, January 1, 2010

    Holiday Bloopers

    Most of the time, I'll only post the finished product: a cute photo of Justin or Jasmine, smiling and in the perfect position, lighting and setting (okay, so maybe not perfect... but halfway decent at least). Well... for every decent photo that you see, there are probably 10 or 20 that didn't make the cut. And sometimes there are no keepers at all. Long story short, I won't even tell you how many times we tried to get that "perfect" holiday shot of the two of them in front of the Christmas tree. We had grand plans of holiday cards, framed photos, etc. But the joke was on us... because if Justin was ready, Jasmine was cranky. And if Jasmine was ready, Justin didn't want to be bothered. And when they both were ready, they were simply too silly to handle as a duo. And so despite the valiant efforts of their parents, it turned out that there would simply be no "formal portrait" of the two little crumb snatchers in 2009.

    But as I was going through the pictures that didn't make the cut, I thought to myself: you know what... this is simply who they are right now: the most non-cooperative children on the planet... and missing an opportunity to savor these photos along with the usual keepers would probably mean missing an opportunity to relish the moment and simply enjoy how much fun they are right now. Unequivocally crazy... but fun, nonetheless. So without further ado, here they are: The holiday photos that weren't.

    Dude... brush your sideburns down next time! You're
    lucky I've got enough drool to paste them down for you.

    Distractions... Distractions... Sesame
    Street trumps daddy once again.

    "Pay attention!"

    And all of a sudden, she's camera shy.

    "I've got an idea... let's blink everytime daddy takes a
    picture. It'll drive him nuts, I promise!"

    Okay... now they're just being plain ol' silly. Forget it... we'll try again next Christmas. Oh, and by the way, Happy New Year!