Mother Daughter Road Trip to Cincinnati

09/09/2013

 

 

 

Over Labor Day weekend, Ali and I took a road trip up to visit our dear friends in Cincinnati. It’s a 4 hour drive so manageable for just the two of us. It was 2 weeks after her potty training day so we stopped more than usual—3x instead of 1. She did great though. Before we left she was feeding her favorite lovie Little Lucy cereal for breakfast. It was so sweet and funny. I could tell it was going to be a good day.

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We stopped for lunch at Skyline Chili, a speciality of Cincinnati. Ali wanted to sit in the booth across from me rather than in a high chair. She’s turning into such a little lady!

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It was her first experience with cincinnati chili over speghetti and I think it was a bit too spicy for her tastes. She said, “I no like that. I just like cheese.” OK, sweetheart. You can eat oyster crackers and shredded cheddar for lunch.

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She had a great time visiting with our friends Jonas (her birthday buddy who just turned 1 in July), Olivia (who is 3 months older than Ali) and Ben (who just turned 4).

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Ben didn’t want me to take his picture but he agreed to make silly faces with me.

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“Night Night” is Ali’s new favorite game.

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We took the kids to a childrens museum on Sunday afternoon. They liked petting Shelly the turtle.

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Ali coloring with Aunt Renata.

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Shopping at the miniature Kroger.

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Celebrating another staying dry and using the potty instance in the restroom. She gets a Skittle when she has stayed dry/clean and successfully uses the bathroom.

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In a miniature house, wearing an apple dress, holding an apple. She’s fun!

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I know this picture is terribly blurry but 90% of my pictures of the kids over the weekend were blurry. (I forgot my good camera.) Ali and Olivia got along so well. Renata is one of my very best friends and it was really sweet for us to see our daughters become fast friends, too.

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On Labor Day we went to a fair and the kids got to ride this little train. What a cute caboose!

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It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since our last visit. Before Ali and I left last summer both girls were wanting me to hold them and Renata took this picture.

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She thought it would be fun to recreate the picture one year later. These two got a lot heavier! I’m wearing the same jeans in both pictures and I actually packed that purple shirt with me. Had I realized, I would have worn it.

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I’m sad that our good friends aren’t in Nashville anymore but glad that we can see them at least once a year. Gosh, that seems like way too long! I’m really thankful that our kids got along so well and we had lots of time to visit as adults over the weekend, too.

 


Alianna at 2 years 1 month old

08/26/2013

Ali Mae, you have grown and changed so much in the past month! You’re back to being an only child again after 3 months as a foster sister to Buzz. Right after that transition happened, I started working my way down my to do list (things to accomplish while we don’t have any foster placements in the home) which included some big changes for you. I turned your crib into a bed. I’m currently second-guessing that decision and we may go back for a while… You became potty trained for the most part, though we still have to remind you. The concepts of wet/dry have been learned pretty well. You started preschool two days a week and you are loving it! Every time we pick you up you’re having a blast dancing with your classmates and you say “I love you!” to your teachers when we leave. You’ve been talking more and more lately, often in sentences and starting to say some really funny things. Sometimes you get the order of the words mixed up, for example “I want cookie too Ali.” You have learned all of your colors (thank you Preschool Prep!) and are currently working on numbers and letters. There is no rush, of course. You have plenty of time before you need to have those things mastered. Because I’m a designer and Daddy’s a musician, we get particularly excited when we see you interested in art and music. We recently walked around the Parthenon replica at Centennial Park and when we walked up the back steps you looked up and said, “Deautiful.” You repeated it several times. That’s the first either of us have ever heard you describe a place or sight as beautiful. A couple days later we went into West Elm and your interior design loving parents were again amazed to hear you say it as you took in the atmosphere of the store. Music is also a big part of your day. Every time we get in the van you say, “music please” … repeatedly until we respond. At night you request “daddy’s music” on your CD player and often turn it on by yourself. Daddy set up a keyboard for you in the playroom which you love to play with and refer to as the “pino,” like pinot. We often catch you singing ABCs, Twinkle Twinkle and other simple songs all on your own, as well as singing along with the radio and CDs in the car. I love that your imagination seems to be growing and getting more creative while you play, too. You’ve always been a content and happy child mixed with a good amount of drama and passion. Lately your emotions have sometimes come bursting out so quickly that I think it’s catching even you off guard. We’re trying hard to be patient with you while encouraging you to develop self-control and regulation.

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Speaking of beautiful, happy and dramatic… we recently had dinner with two of your biological siblings and their mom. You three have a lot in common! You had fun dancing to music together and dressing up with accessories and generally just having a silly, wild time together after dinner. It had been around a year since we’ve seen them last (a crazy busy year for our family) but we plan to get together much more frequently in the future, now that all three of you are finally old enough to really play together.

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The other day while you were picking out your shoes, you said, “awesome.” I told you that I think you’re awesome. You responded, “Daddy’s awesome too, Mama.” I agreed and asked if you thought I was too. “Mommy’s awesome, too. Ali’s awesome, too.” I love you so much, Aligator. I think know being a mom would be so much fun. You make it way better than I ever imagined. You really are awesome, kid. I’m blessed to get to be your mom.

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HFM and Thank God for Good Men

08/22/2013

I’ll spare you all of the details and any photos, but last weekend I had hand, foot and mouth disease. I survived! It started out last Wednesday as a low fever (99.4-100.0) and a sore throat for two days and then developed into excruciating burning and itching hands and feet. The peak of pain was 24-36 hours. It’s been 8 days  since the initial fever started and my hands and feet are still irritated a little bit. Absolutely tolerable. Saturday thru Sunday afternoon was HELL … I’m pretty sure it’s the worst thing I’ve ever experienced. Walking through the house felt like walking over smoldering coals. Touching things, putting pressure on my hands, felt like touching flaming hot fiberglass. At the better times it felt like the pin-pricks of when your hand or foot falls asleep. I alternated ibuprofen and acetaminophen every few hours for days. Aloe vera gel would give me a couple minutes of relief. I thought I was going to lose my mind. Ali was not sleeping well at night or nap times (though she never got sick, thank God!). Jason was out of town…out of the country actually. My usual back-up is my mom and she was also out of town. My dad came to my rescue multiple times. This happened at 3:00 Sunday morning when Ali would not go to sleep and I had no fight left in me…all I could do was cry.

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My dad had been awoken by a nightmare and had been praying for about 10 minutes before I texted. After a very long night for all of us, my dad took Ali with him all day on Sunday so I could rest. I sent out a desperate plea for prayer on Instagram and Facebook and was thankful for the response from friends everywhere. I slept for a couple hours and watched movies most of the day to stay off my feet and try not to use my hands.

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My dad made us dinner Sunday evening and then I took Ali to the airport to pick Jason up. It was so good, SO GOOD, to have him home. He took over at bedtime and got Ali back into her proper sleep habits again. She was stuck in a rut for a couple days, fighting bedtime and waking in the middle of the night, maybe somehow related to me being sick and/or potty training. On Monday I started improving rapidly. I was able to tolerate water warm enough for a shower and I started getting the house back in order. Tuesday I was well enough to take Ali to her check up and to work at home the rest of the day. I still have faint red spots on my hands and feet and some itching and burning but it’s totally tolerable. I am so glad that’s over. That was an experience I would never wish on anyone! I am extremely grateful for the good men in my life: For my Dad who came over to help and encourage and give hugs (even in the middle of the night!), and to take care of his granddaughter all day on Sunday. And for my husband who didn’t get to come home to a clean house and a happy, energetic wife after being on tour in Europe for 3 weeks but who jumped right into Daddy mode taking care of Ali. He encouraged me out of my wallowing and motivated me to start moving wellness. The atmosphere in our home was restored as soon as he got back.

By Monday evening I was ready to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather. We took a family walk around Centennial Park.

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And I’m finally well enough to sample all the treats that Jason brought home from Sweden, Norway, Iceland and the Netherlands. The puffin is for Ali. The rest is for ME…OK, I guess I’ll share with Jason.

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Ali’s 2nd Birthday Party

07/23/2013

Every time we ask Ali what her favorite color is she says, “yeyow.” Since it’s consistently been a favorite, I decided to make her second birthday party yellow themed: yellow balloons, yellow frosting on funfetti cupcakes in yellow wrappers, yellow streamers, yellow cups, yellow napkins, yellow foods (pineapple, chips, bananas, pretzels, lemon cookies, lemonade…another some other colors of food, like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, salsa, veggies and dip.) I dressed her, Buzz and myself in yellow but never mentioned to anyone else to wear yellow. I was pleased to see how many people decided to come dressed in yellow. Her party was very sweet and special. She got pretty overwhelmed by gift opening time. Overwhelmed for Ali means quiet. After the second gift was opened she dropped it on the floor and went over to sit on Grandma’s lap for a minute. When she finished opening the second to last gift (the book Everyone Poops) from Grandma, she wanted to sit on the couch and look at it; disregarding the room full of friends waiting to find out what the last package contained. I ended up opening it and was then swarmed with kids anxious to open it up and play with it—the Little People Happy Sounds house. The night before her birthday, we met Buzz’s mom at Chik-Fil-A for a visit. She brought Ali a very thoughtful gift: a gray and yellow outfit, the yellow headband she wore to her party, a Curious George DVD and a new baby doll which she has insisted on sleeping with every night since then. Her crib is getting quite crowded!

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Just in the past couple of weeks she’s been obsessed with animal crackers. I saw this idea on the side of the box.

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Jason went along with all of my ideas and planning for the party and graciously did whatever I asked him to do…take out the trash, blow up 15 balloons, make spearmint sugar paste for the pineapple, etc.

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He’s also really good at tossing Ali into the air.

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She’s a Daddy’s girl for sure.

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Ali showed Grandma the new baby from Buzz’s mom.

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Aunt Ginger and cousin Eliza.

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Uncle Dan, Nana (Jason and Dan’s mom) and the birthday girl

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I tried to get pictures of everyone there but I missed 4 of the kids. 😦 Sorry Jaron, Eli, Everly and Ezekiel. I’m blaming it mostly on the little boys being too busy. Did you notice all of the little girls sitting calmly at the table?

Ali starting to get tired and overwhelmed:

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Some of her birthday loot. Jason and I got her the owl puppet (IKEA), two dresses from H&M and the baby doll clothes. She got a bunch of bubble toys. After naps, we went swimming at Grandma and Grandpa’s and had pizza. Once we got home we broke out the new bubble wands, bubble mower, bubble gun, and banana scented bubbles. I think Ali and Buzz could have played with the bubbles for hours!

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All of her old favorites plus the newish Ms. Broccoli and new baby doll from Buzz’s mom, Elmo from Grandpa, and yellow bird from Jaron. I think we need to get her a big girl bed just to fit all of her lovies.

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After her nap she had two more gifts to open from my siblings’ families.  A frog bracelet and butterfly shirt from Uncle Jeff, Aunt Jess and Iris’ latest trip to Costa Rica.

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And a new Jellycat cordy roy Alligator for our Ali-gator from Uncle Aaron, Aunt Laura and Eli.

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It was really a perfectly wonderful second birthday for our perfectly wonderful little girl. We love you so much, Ali, and were thrilled to celebrate you!


Weekend Update

06/25/2013

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Friday night after the kids were asleep Jason and I started preparing our house for our first party—a house warming party! We’ve been in our new home for 6 months but it took us this long to find a weekend that worked for both of us and to feel like we were settled enough.

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Since court was pretty uneventful on Friday, we had a visit with Buzz’s mom Saturday morning at a newer city park a few miles from us. This is the first time we had had a chance to check out the splash pad. It’s pretty great and it’s totally free. Thank you, Nashville! This is the only picture I took because it was hard to stay dry. Buzz is in the background by Ali’s forehead. He LOVED it! Ali wasn’t so sure.

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I gave the kids early baths on Saturday since I knew they’d be up late at the party. When Buzz saw that I was putting a dress on Ali, he ran to his closet to pick out a nice shirt. I helped find matching shorts and then he picked out the flip flops for both of them. I had my new Pandora station running and they decided to dance together. I took a video to send to Buzz’s mom. I wish you could see the huge grin on his face. It’s very similar to Buzz Lightyear’s grin here:

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This was at the end of the party when just our BFFs were still there. We attempted to get a typical smooch shot of Ali and her buddy Jaron but they were too quick (although there was kissing a-plenty!) It was way past their bedtime and these two were getting so silly, especially Buzz. Again, I wish you could see his huge grin.

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Buzz got into a rare kissing mood…he kissed me, our friend, Jason…and then I suggested he give Ali a kiss. 99% of the time he refuses affection from her. She’ll sneak up behind him to give him a hug and he squeals and tries to get away. This time he gave her a big, long kiss! They really do love each other even though they drive each other (and us) nuts most of the time. Like brother and sister, I guess.

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When I finally crashed into bed, I had to stop to take a photo. This room has been the most neglected design-wise. We finally got new curtains and hung them the day before the house warming party. We had tubs of out-of-season clothes and piles of extra blankets that I finally packed into our closet. (Why didn’t I do that months ago?!) It looks so much more clean and relaxing now. I’ll be posting some more about this room as it progresses. We picked out new bedding but haven’t purchased it yet. After that, we’ll be working on night stands, lamps, an accent wall, and artwork.

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Weekend Part 2

06/18/2013

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The second half of the weekend started when Jason got home Saturday night. I knew he was on the way so I let the kids have a dance party after their bath to prolong bedtime just a bit. Jason was greeted in the hallway by two kids running at him, screaming “Daddy!” and tackling him with hugs. I waited patiently for my hug and kiss. He is such a good dad and husband and we’re all so happy when he gets home. That greeting was his Father’s Day gift from Ali and Buzz. They love him. (Buzz started calling Jason “Daddy” a few days ago. He still calls me A Ma.)

Sunday we spent the morning at church. Jason played guitar in the worship band. I photographed the baby dedication portion of the service. The kids had a good time in the nursery. They wore the new matching clothes from Buzz’s mom and I was really hoping we could get a nice photo of the four of us. Did not happen. One of the four was not cooperative…

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I have to admit, I love this one, though. I told Jason it was a very accurate portrayal of his fatherhood at this place in time: trying to corral these two whirlwinds into place with his strong, loving arms.

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I guess it doesn’t have quite the same affect with the Buzz head on there. In the one below he’s looking straight at me with a sweet smile and I love the way Ali and Jason are looking at each other.

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After lunch and naps we went to my parents’ house for a cookout and swimming. Both kids love to swim so I’m always in the water with them and not taking pictures. I did beg Jason to get a video of Buzz jumping in off the side, swim/walking underwater and holding his breath to send to his parents. They were thrilled! Sadly, I can’t share it here because you can see his face in the video. Buzz and Ali are both doing really, really well with learning to swim and I’m so excited to see them getting better every time. I believe Ali will be swimming on her own by the end of the summer and if Buzz stays with us, he definitely will be too.

I attempted a few more times to get a good picture of the two of them in their matching yellows to send to Buzz’s mom. Ali will pose if I ask her; Buzz not so much.

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It turned out to be a pretty good weekend. I’m so thankful for all of the friends and family in our lives.

 


No Limit

06/06/2013

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Jason and I took the kids to a craft fair at an out-of-use airport in our neighborhood on Saturday. It was cloudy and breezy which made it perfectly tolerable to hang outside in June. Ali’s best buddy Jaron was there with his parents. (He’s the little guy in the blue shirt…remember I’m not showing any pictures of Buzz’s face or sharing his real name online.) Ali and Jaron have the sweetest friendship. They get along really well and seriously, all it takes is a mention of a kiss and they’re smooching. They love each other.

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I had to share the adorableness. But this post is not about that. Jaron’s daddy brought a new kite to try out. Saturday was the perfect kite flying day and an old runway was the perfect location. As the kite bit into the wind and launched up higher and higher toward the clouds, a curious thing happened. Buzz started running after it and jumping up to try to reach it. That kite had to have been at least 30 feet above him but he just kept running and jumping. Soon Ali was doing the same. She can’t jump but she stood on one foot and stretched her arms up.

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What in the world?! Do you kids really think you can reach that kite?

I had an epiphany on that beautiful afternoon. They have no concept of their limitations.

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Another example came a few days later. I was playing with the kids in the driveway when a jet flew over lower than usual. Buzz eagerly jumped and reached for it, flapping both arms. “Up!” he begged. I picked him up. “Jump!’ he cried as I held him up as high as I could and jumped toward the airplane while he swung his arms.

Darn. Maybe we’ll catch it next time, Buzz.


Double Blessing

05/16/2013

I was generously blessed with this amazing double stroller by a woman I had never met. She follows my Instagram feed (Hi @curlybirds!) and apparently reads here too. I am incredibly grateful that someone would take the time out of her day to drive across town to deliver a beautiful and certainly valuable double stroller to my house. Ali and I got to meet her and her six year old twin daughters, too. What lovely, lovely people!

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Thank you, again, so very much!


“Did you have a baby?”

04/02/2013

Kids are honest. I love how they just ask whatever they’re thinking about without any hang-ups. This conversation happened with my friends’ 3 year old son last year while we were visiting them. I wrote it down at the time but haven’t shared it until now.

Ben: Did you have a baby?

Me: Alianna is our baby. We have her.

Ben: Was Alianna in your belly?

Me, thinking: How the heck am I going to explain this to a three-year-old?

Me: No, she was in a different woman’s belly. She had a different mommy before she came to live with us.

That was the end of the conversation but I brought it up again later when his parents were present so they could help explain it to him. Ben has two younger siblings, the youngest was just a month old at the time so he understands that babies are in mommies’ bellies before they’re born.

A while back I also had a conversation with friends’ daughter who I think was about 7 at the time.

Ruby, admiring baby Alianna: Maybe one day you’ll have a baby of your own, too!

Me: Well, you know what? If we get to adopt Alianna, then she’ll be our own. She’ll stay with us and be part of our family forever.

Ruby: Big, delighted smile. Yeah!

It’s kind of amazing how a simple, honest answer satisfies a simple, honest question, isn’t it?

Have any of you other foster or adoptive parents had interesting conversations with kids about the process? Foster care seems particularly difficult to explain sometimes (without getting in too deep about abuse or kids getting taken away from their parents) but I haven’t had any negative experiences trying to explain the basics. What about you?

Related post:

Foster Care Terminology


Easter Sunday 2013

03/31/2013

 

 

We started off our Easter Sunday early since Jason was playing in the band at church.

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We enjoyed hearing the choir warm up.

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Ali got the whole nursery to herself for a while. She loves the slide, of course.

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Mmm…

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Later, my parents and in-laws came over for Easter dinner. Grandpa let Ali decorate his face with stickers. What a good sport!

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Oh, these two melt me!

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Hey look, a good family photo! Thanks for taking this Mom! And thanks for putting shoes on, Jason!

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And one outtake: Uh oh…someone has learned how to cheese for the camera.

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