Thursday, December 3, 2009


Yesterday was a big day for us for two reasons. We closed escrow on our new condo and Zahra's glasses were ready to be picked up. Above is her last night, wearing them for the first time. She seemed to be happy wearing them and wore them without much fuss at first. She got through most of the school day today and then after school and this evening it's been a bit of a hassle to keep her from taking them off. Eventually, I'm sure she'll get used to them.
We took Zahra in to the eye doctor last year to have a routine check-up. He noticed that she might have trouble with her vision and asked us to come back in a year to see if there had been any improvement. He could tell that she was still having trouble with her left eye, so he asked if he could do a more comprehensive exam. Since Zahra's still learning her alphabet and might have trouble answering, "Now which looks better: number one or number two? Number one or number two?" (How many times does the doctor ask that when he's trying to figure out a prescription and keeps switching between different lenses?) the doctor asked if he could put drops in her eyes. I consented and we had to wait around for 45 minutes while the drops took effect. Meanwhile, we looked at frames since he was pretty sure she'd need glasses. Unfortunately, they didn't have any plastic frames that came in green so Zahra couldn't pick her favorite color! She also chose a wire framed style that didn't exactly flatter her cute face. So I kind of forced her to get these frames. When she's older, we'll let her have more autonomy when it comes to making a big decision like that. (Kids frames cost almost as much as ones for adults!)

(Zahra's ready for bed so I will continue writing this tomorrow. I have a lot more to say...) Good night for now.

(The picture above is supposed to show how the left eye needs much more correction than the right eye, which I'll explain in further detail when I finish the post "for real". Hard to get a picture, but you can see it when you look through them in person.)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Toddling, Part II

More toddling around in the kitchen...

Toddling, Part I

About two weeks ago, Max started taking his first steps. Of course, at first it was two or three quick steps from one point to another, falling into open arms or getting quickly to something he could hold on to. Now, he's pretty confident at walking around and is happy to explore new surroundings while on two feet. He still falls a lot and crawls around when he wants to get somewhere really quickly. Even when he falls, he seems to take it in stride, like it's just a small obstacle to overcome. I just love the look of satisfaction on his face while he's walking toward me. He really seems to get a kick out of it and it is fun to watch, over and over.

So he was technically 10 months old when he started walking. He recently had his 11 month birthday, so we're counting down the days until he turns 1 (on December 26th). So many things are different with Max. Zahra didn't walk until she was 18 months old, so she began quite a bit later. It's amazing how they are each such individuals. You never can tell what will happen...

(I apologize for the rather poor quality of the videos. I took them by myself, but I should have done it when there was someone around to help be the "post" Max was walking toward and I could do the camera work. But in the end, you can get the idea and see how he's doing.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Literacy Picnic

This morning, at Zahra's school, there was a Literacy Picnic. Every year at Golden View, there's a day when kids get read to by someone special in their lives (parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, neighbor, etc.). People bring blankets and chairs, lots of books, and something for the kids to snack on. I read to Zahra every night before she goes to bed, so this kind of felt like an everyday thing to me, except that we're usually at home, lying around while Max is asleep, and today we were surrounded by hundreds of other kids being read to at the same time.
This is right as the picnic began, before we actually started reading or eating or anything. I had been kind of wondering how Maxwell would fare in the whole deal, since he doesn't really like sitting in one spot much, but overall, he did pretty well. It would have been easier just to be able to fully concentrate on Zahra and reading, since she is ever the receptive audience, but I think she is getting used to having a sibling around and not being able to always have my full attention. She was pretty patient when I had to break from reading a couple times to scoop up Max or otherwise try to reorient him to a task that was compatible with me reading.
Max, eatin' a banana...
(This kid loves eating!)
... Later, you will see where some of the banana ended up
(although most of it made it down to his tummy)
This is how it went most of the time.
Zahra and I concentrating on the book
and Max, well, just being a baby...
I can hear him saying "My turn!"
(except, wait, he can't really talk yet)

We never ended up finishing this book.
One hour was too long for this enviornment. I think Zahra could be read to that long at home, where it is quiet, there are no other kids around, and Max is asleep... but here, it was just too tempting to watch what everyone else was doing.
The Book Mover
(this task was entertaining to him for quite awhile)
Zahra took this picture of Max and I
(pretty good photographer, huh?)
As you can see,
lots of people turned out for the picnic...
Getting tired of sitting around...
it turned into tumble time.
And yes, that's banana on his eyelashes and mouth.
See how he's standing up on his own without holding on to anything.
I took the picture with my hand held out to the side.
Overall, it was pretty fun. A neat way to do things a little differently on a November Wednesday. At the end, Zahra and a little boy from her class decided to walk off in search of their teacher. I kind of kept my eye on them because they seemed to just not even know where they were going, just walking off near the other grades. I couldn't find Mrs. Conton at first either, so I followed Zahra and Brandon and caught up with them. I was afraid they were just going to get totally lost, although I could see they were constantly trying to find Mrs. Conton. So I had them come back with me and I made sure they met up with their other classmates who had begun to line up in front of where Mrs. Conton was standing. It was pretty cute, albeit a little scary, to watch them walk off, confident and unaware, by themselves. Good thing I kept up after them!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dancing Maxwell

Almost any time Max hears music, he begins to dance. Well, what our family calls dancing, anyway. Usually, if he's seated, he'll move his body like you can see in the video. Yesterday, when Zahra came home from school, she was playing with this mascot toy from Ohio State. (We have absolutely no idea how it ended up in our house.) It alternates between the music you hear in the video and a cheer that spells out "O! H! I! O!" with a crowd cheering in the background. Anyway, as you can see, Max really enjoyed it.

So today, I turn on the car and music from the radio comes on pretty loud. I'm in the front seat and Max is buckled up in his car seat, directly behind me. Some random hip-hop song that had a pretty decent beat is playing through the speakers. Then I'm backing out of the garage, and I turn and look over my shoulder to make sure my path is clear. What I immediately notice is that Max's car seat is bouncing with the beat. And although I could not see what he was doing (his toddler seat is still rear-facing), I knew he was dancing and that's what was causing the seat to move. It was hilarious. You probably had to be there to fully appreciate how funny this was, but I felt it was worth sharing the story anyhow. So now I wonder how many times has he been dancing in the back seat, as I'm driving along, totally unaware up in the front seat.

Asleep, with Kids

On Sunday afternoon, Willie took this video of us all sleeping on the couch. (He didn't know the camera was set to "video." He had meant to just take a picture and then the camera battery died, so he couldn't just change the setting.)

I'm just now getting over a pretty bad cold, so I was very tired on Sunday. Willie and I had watched a movie while Zahra was at church with Grandma. Max had fallen asleep in my lap and after the movie was over, I moved from the chair where I was sitting, and laid down on the couch, taking the sleeping little Max with me. I watched TV for awhile, until Zahra came home. Zahra climbed up on top of me and I thought she was only going to stay for a second or two, as she sometimes does. Instead, she promptly fell asleep. Right there, on the not-so-flat curves of my side. Not the most comfortable place to go to sleep, I would imagine, but then I'm not a 5-year-old kid who wants to sleep on top of her mom. Then, with Zahra sleeping on top of me and Max sleeping in front of me, I fell asleep, too. (I was not worried about Max rolling off because, since becoming a mother, I am a very light sleeper, especially if my children are around. Any little motion of his would have woke me up.)

About an hour later, that exact thing happened. Max and I woke up, around the same time. Who knows which of us woke up first. Max sat up and then slid off the couch with a little of my assistance. I got out from under Zahra and let her continue sleeping. Boy, was she tired! She slept for 4 more hours. Quite the long Sunday nap. I was sick and not feeling well at all, so I didn't even bother trying to wake her up. I was a little worried she'd be too awake to go to sleep a few hours later, but she must have really needed that sleep because around 10 o'clock, after Willie told her a bedtime story, she fell asleep without any fuss (which is impossible if she's really not tired).

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Parents & Kids Day at Jiu Jitsu

On Saturday, November 7, we went to the Parents & Kids class at Willie's jiu jitsu school, Gracie Barra. At first, Zahra was really apprehensive about participating. She wanted to sit in Auntie Sis' lap and just watch. Willie was positive and encouraged her to join in. He got her the smallest gi that was available and helped her put it on. Once Zahra saw other kids joining in, she seemed a little more curious about getting on the mat.
During warm-ups, Zahra jumped right in and started following along with her dad. Here they're doing push-ups.
Zahra's version of jumping jacks are sooooo cute. She kind of jumps up and down in one place (not moving the legs in and out as you're supposed to) and waves her hands up and down. It's really a kick to watch her do them.

listening to the professor's instructions
listening to Dad's instructions about a move

after being pushed gently down,
the move was to teach one how to brace during a fall

practicing the same move again
This was Zahra's turn to push Dad down...
Dad fixing Zahra's gi
At one point, Zahra was getting a little preoccupied and wanted to run over to the snack table for some treats intended for after the class. She was quickly returned to the mat by Dad.

more practicing...

Not the best picture (sorry!),
but this was Zahra and Willie playing a game
with the rest of the class.
I forgot what it was called...
listening to more instructions
Giving the professor a high-five at the end of class.
Zahra had such a great time at jiu jitsu, she kept asking when she could go again. Once a month, the school has a parent and kids day on the first Saturday. We were thinking we'd bring her back every month for a few more months and if she's still interested, we'd enroll her in one of the kids classes.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Baby Babbles

(This video is more about sound than action, so make sure your speakers are on.)

I don't know what it is about this video that cracks me up. For some reason, seeing Max's little baby hand bang on the window is funny. And I love how he's yelling at the cars driving by on the street down below, like they can hear him, and understand his nonsense.

Enjoy watching a little person who is still fairly new to this world, fascinated with small things the rest of us find mundane...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Kids in Costumes

These first two pictures were cute but I couldn't get them to rotate! Dumb computer. (Maybe I will try to re-post them another time, but right now I'm just going to leave them oriented wrong. Sorry. I'm tired.) We took these two pictures when we bought the costumes in early October and they came out better than some of the ones actually taken on Halloween, so I thought I'd include them.
Every year at Golden View, the kids get to wear their Halloween costumes for a parade at school. So on Friday (October 30), we walked Zahra to school in her costume. The kids walk around and everyone gets to see what they are dressed up as... after this, the kids went inside and took a picture and then had to change out of their stuff so they could do schoolwork without the distractions.

Annabelle, one of Zahra's classmates, had the same costume!
A picture with the Good Witch (a.k.a. Mrs. Conton)
Waiting in line while the costume parade went by
... not sure why SuperGirl is scowling at Raggedy Ann
A class picture in Room 4

A shot so you could see the cape,
taken around 6 o'clock on Halloween,
right before we left to go trick-or-treating...
My SuperKids!

Even little SuperMan gets tired sometimes...
Max fell asleep while we were out trick-or-treating.
Overall, I'd have to report that Zahra had a fabulous time this year. She seemed SO excited to go out and she bounced along as we walked from house to house. It didn't take long for her little pumpkin bucket to get filled up with candy since so many of the houses were really generous. We went out at 6, just as it was getting dark and came back home around 7:30. We were definitely the first trick-or-treaters to show up to some of the houses we went to... We also had the little girl from next door, who is 7 and one of Zahra's friends, go with us. I think having a companion to go up to each door was an added bonus for Zahra. We took Max up a couple times but mostly he watched from the stroller.
All right. Well, I could probably add a little more, but like I said, I'm tired now.... I'm adding this commentary at 9 PM on Monday night, so now I've got to get Zahra upstairs in to the bathtub and storytime. Good night.

Jack's Demise

Southern California weather is too warm to carve pumpkins a week before Halloween. Bummer.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Carving Pumpkins

After Zahra's soccer game on Saturday, it was time to carve pumpkins! It's been rather warm here lately, even though the nights and early mornings are pretty cool, so I'd been trying to postpone carving pumpkins as long as possible. Knowing we'd be busy all day Sunday (JJ's 2nd birthday party in Riverside) and wouldn't want to do it on a weeknight, I thought Saturday afternoon would be the best time. Dad and Carol had already bought Zahra a pumpkin from Ralph's. (Above, in the "before" picture, third pumpkin from the left.)

We went to Stater Bros. on the way home and picked up 3 more pumpkins. They were way cheaper than buying them from a pumpkin patch or even other grocery stores. (19 cents a pound! What a deal!) We also bought some pumpkin-carving kits and this was a great idea. In years past, I've used kitchen knives and just kind of free-handed the designs. These kits had perfect little saw-tools, lots of stencils to choose from, and an oil-based crayon to help transfer the designs on to the pumpkins.

Here's Zahra, using the special crayon to transfer the design she picked on to the pumpkin. She wanted to help cut the pumpkins but since this wasn't safe, this was about the only other thing she could really help with. (She was not at all interested in helping to scoop all the goop and seeds out.) Her attention span didn't really last all that long since she wasn't really allowed to help with the process very much, so after helping put the design on the pumpkin, she retreated indoors to play.
This is what Maxwell did while we were working on the pumpkins. Zahra actually took this picture by herself. Max didn't last very long in the activity center though. He watched us for a little while, ate a few Ritz crackers, then got very impatient. Turns out he was hungry and tired, so after he was fed, he took a nap inside. While he was sleeping, I finished up on 3 of the pumpkins.
This is me working on Zahra's pumpkin.

Willie picked a stencil from the internet. Jack Skellington from the Nightmare Before Christmas movie. Here you can see him using a little tool, kind of like a tiny plastic spur, to transfer the design on to the pumpkin. After rubbing the spur over the paper, little indented dots get left on the skin of the pumpkin, indicating where you should be cutting. (Zahra and I had stencils that had little holes in them so you could rub the crayon over it and leave colored dots on the face of the pumpkin.)

Close-up of Zahra's ghost pumpkin.
The stencil was titled "Boo!"

"My" pumkin with the scary skull design

The free-hand design I did on the little pumpkin

A close-up of Willie's work
Jack, the Pumpkin King
Zahra outside on the front porch with the pumpkins all lined up...