Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Brave Nine

Kiki was born nine years ago today on a cold, January day. She didn't want to come into this world, or at least tried her best to stay in the womb. Which meant seventy-two hours of labor for me. Yeah, you read that right. SEVENTY-TWO. And from the minute she was born, she wanted to be held, and as you would expect, found the most comfort in my arms.

Nine years have passed now, and I find Kiki is very much the same way today. Each year she gets a little more self-sufficient and seems to need me less and less. Yet there are times (mostly at night) she turns back into my baby again, and wants to cling and be held. I can't even count how many times I've heard her say "Mommy, I want you." I go to school to help out and her teacher is amused at how the independent, confident child he sees everyday, suddenly attaches herself to me minutes after I enter the classroom.

That same child didn't blink an eye this past August when she auditioned for a local production of the Nutcracker. Kiki walked right into the audition like it was just another day at school, with only a "Bye, Mommy." Didn't seem bothered at all that I couldn't go back with her, or watch, despite the fact that it was a completely strange, new place around a bunch of people she'd never met before.

That same, (almost) nine year old child, bravely danced on stage five times in a matter of three days. FIVE TIMES. Kiki danced in front of an auditorium full of (mostly) strangers, and enjoyed every single minute of it. During one of those performances, a fellow dancer accidentally stepped on her dress, causing her to trip and fall, just when she was to leap across the stage. Despite the fact that this was her turn in the spotlight, that very brave child did not stop. She did not shed a tear, nor bat an eye. She never once cried, "I want my Mommy!" That soon-to-be nine year old stood right back up, and continued dancing, never missing a beat, with a big smile on her face. My child. *Heart swells*

I have never been more proud of Kiki in all of her nine years. I truly don't think that as a grown adult, I could have handled myself as well as she did. She is so brave but fortunately for me she is still a Mommy's girl. The night she fell on stage, Kiki came home, curled up in my arms, just as she has done so many times before. I heard the all too familiar words, "Mommy, I want you." She may be nine, but she is still my baby.

Happy Birthday, brave girl! I love you and am so proud to be your mom!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A Hair Raising Experience

Kiki has had long hair since I can remember. Last time it was short she looked like this:

Kiki - 18 months old

Her hair made it past the shoulders when she was about two years old and just kept on growing. Sure we would take her for haircuts, but they were mostly just "trims" and the most she'd ever get cut was 2-3 inches. Part of the reason we never cut it any shorter is that I was enjoying all of the things we could do with it; learning to braid it, put it in a bun, etc. The other reason is that her daddy loves the long hair on his girls, and he really wanted her to keep it that way. She looked so darn pretty with it, who could argue with that!?

In Kindergarten, Kiki had a friend with the condition, Alopecia areata, a common autoimmune skin disease resulting in the loss of hair. When I learned of this, I mentioned to Kiki that maybe she could someday get a big haircut and donate her hair for some little girl who couldn't grow her own, or who had lost her hair due to an illness. Of course Kiki was only five at the time and was a bit horrified at the idea of someone else "wearing my hair, " so I let it drop.

Flash forward to second grade, year 2008. That same Kindergarten buddy was in her class again and the whole topic of donating hair came up again, but this time it was Kiki who came up with the idea. She told me how her friend was "better" and now had all of her hair back. But she knew there were other little girls and boys who had lost their hair due to similar circumstances, namely one little boy with cancer. This boy was the son of a childhood friend of mine, and Kiki had seen enough pictures of him to know he had lost his hair during cancer treatments. She also realized there were many other children like him and she wanted to do something to help. "Maybe I can cut my hair short and give it to someone who needs it, since I can always grow mine again and little kids shouldn't have to go without hair." *Mom's heart melts*

However, while Kiki's hair was quite long, it wasn't long enough to meet the requirements of the different hair charities that accept hair for donation. So Bill and I told her to wait. Take some time to really grow it long, and then maybe get it cut before third grade. Finally that time came and it still wasn't quite long enough. There was probably the minimum ten inches to donate, but Kiki wanted a certain style and we knew that she would not be able to if she had her haircut then. So, once again, we talked her into waiting. I told her that she should easily have enough hair by Christmas vacation.

Flash forward once more to December 2009, just before Christmas. I measured Kiki's hair and, lo and behold, it was finally long enough. So I scheduled an appointment and just a few days shy of 2010, she finally got her big haircut. Let me just tell you, I've never seen a child so excited about a haircut. Kiki was so excited she practically skipped into the beauty salon. This was the same child who I used to have to hold on my lap while someone trimmed her hair. The same child that loved braids, buns, curls, bows, and ponytails. I kept asking her if she was nervous about cutting so much off (I know I would have been) but she insisted she was not. After the haircut was finished, she kept admiring herself in the mirror and swinging her head around, enjoying the way it felt to have her hair bounce around at her shoulders. I can't imagine how much lighter her head felt. I've had long hair before, but nothing close to as long as hers was.

I think what I loved most about this whole experience for Kiki, was how excited she was to do something for someone else. She wanted to do this all on her own. Every time we talked about getting her haircut, she'd mention how she couldn't wait donate her hair. She said she didn't have money to donate, but she had a lot of hair, and she knew that would make some other little girl happy. Kiki asked if she would get to see who got her hair, and was disappointed when I told her "no", but she understood.

We mailed her hair off to Locks of Love on New Year's Eve. Kiki chose that one because she knew the charity specifically helped children, and while she understood adults sometimes lose their hair too, she wanted to help someone closer to her age.

I am so incredibly proud of my daughter. Kiki already has said she is going to grow her hair out again, and donate more when she has enough. She's inspired her little sister, Boo, to want to do the same. Who knows, maybe I will follow suit. . .

Kiki before the big cut

Anticipation. . .

Here we go. . .

Boo can't watch!

Halfway there

Long gone. . .

Kiki checks it out. . .

View from the back

Kiki's new "do"

All ready for the mail

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Caption Me

I've never done a "Caption Me" post, but I really didn't know how to describe this picture. So please help me by leaving a comment below with your caption.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Seven Things I Love About You

Sweet, smart, silly

A year ago I wrote a post saying, "I can't believe my baby is six years old." I feel like a broken record because I can't believe Boo turned seven today. I might as well get used to it, because I know I will be repeating myself annually on both of my girls' birthdays.

Because of Boo's difficult start to her life, I really treasure each year we have with her. There are too many days I know I take her for granted. She has gone through some tough phases recently which have really tested my patience. She is strong-willed and there are days I am just emotionally spent by the time she goes to bed. I sometimes lie awake at night wondering what the next day will hold for us, and just praying it will be a better day, that I will be more patient and hoping for a better day. Sure enough, nine times out of ten, she wakes up bubbly, full of energy, all ready for the day, and I quickly forget whatever trouble we had the day before.

Boo is unbelievably smart and she doesn't let anyone forget that. She rarely lets anyone make a mistake and will be the first one to tell you when you are wrong. Boo is full of attitude and spunk, yet one of the most sweet natured, happy children you will ever meet. Most of the time, she just goes with the flow and does what she can to make others happy. She can be so stubborn, yet will be the first one to meet you halfway. She will gladly compromise just because she knows when she does, she's made someone else happy. Boo has the best laugh which is so unbelievably infectious and can really light up a room. She loves art and is crafting or drawing whenever she can, even when it isn't the most convenient time. The walls and tabletops in my house are proof of her constant creations.

I know I may sound like a broken record by repeating some of these words I've said about her in the past. However, I feel it is important to write about these things every year, if not every week or every day. I know someday Boo will read the posts I've written, good ones and bad. I'm hopeful though that no matter how she feels about herself at that moment, she will know how much she is loved. And I also know that writing them down just makes me appreciate her even more than I already do, so that I never, ever, take her for granted. Happy Birthday, Boo! I love you more every day!