Alianna at 5 Years Old

08/25/2016

Ali turned 5 on July 20. She’s my buddy, by my side most of the day, but we also butt heads a lot. (Blame the hormones…) She’s passionate and strong, creative, athletic and outgoing. She’s full of life and loves deeply. Ali is an amazing big sister to her little brother Zay and baby sister JoJo. I am so thankful to have her help through this season of two little ones. I’m blessed to be her mom.

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On her actual birthday (one week after Josephine was born) we celebrated with 5 Points Pizza for dinner at home and yogurt parfaits for dessert made by grandma. My parents joined us for dinner and gifts. She was most excited about a new toy violin and I loved seeing her reaction.

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We kept Ali’s birthday party pretty simple this year because of Josephine’s birth. With just a few friends and a lot help, we pulled off a mermaid pool party. She had a great day!

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I think this age is going to be my favorite one yet!

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Related Posts:

Alianna at 4 Years Old

Alianna at 3.5 Years Old

Alianna Mae at Three Years Old

Alianna at 2.5 Years Old

Alianna Mae at Two Years Old

Alianna at 18 Months

Precious: Monthly Portrait 12

Precious: Monthly Portrait 6


Alianna at 4 years old

08/18/2015

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Our Alianna is four years old and looking more grown up everyday. (She picked that “Mommy’s ‘lil Girl” shirt to wear on her birthday, as well as the rest of her outfit.) She’s smart, passionate, creative and sassy. She’s brave, athletic and out-going. She’s full of faith and quick to pray for healing for anyone with a hurt. She adores her baby brother and is eager to show him off to new people while we’re out. She has an excellent memory for music, names, places and promises. If she had her way she’s eat ice cream and candy for every meal. She loves her friends, soccer, beading, crafts, books and swimming. Swimming! She’s swimming like a little fish this summer: underwater, retrieving toys off the bottom of the deep end of the pool, floating on her back and diving/flipping in head-first off the side. We’re unofficially doing preschool homeschool this year, which basically just means a little more intentionality with reading, writing/drawing, following instructions, attitude/respect, exploring and learning about the world. Ali is an amazing, thoughtful loving girl. She also keeps us on our toes and continually puts our parenting skills (human skills? grace, patience, wisdom, consistency, etc.) to the test.

Happy birthday, sweet girl! We are so glad you were born and that you’re ours!

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When I asked to take her picture for her birthday she insisted that I take some of her with her baby brother.

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The big gift she really wanted was a rolling suitcase of her own. She can’t wait to go on a trip with Daddy!

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A mermaid-themed pool party for our little fish!

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Related Posts:

Alianna at 3.5 Years Old

Alianna Mae at Three Years Old

Alianna at 2.5 Years Old

Alianna Mae at Two Years Old

Alianna at 18 Months

Precious: Monthly Portrait 12

Precious: Monthly Portrait 6

 


Miss Independence

04/20/2015

Getting my three-year-old out the door in the mornings can be a slow process. Even when I think we’re on time, those last few steps of using the bathroom, putting on socks, deciding on shoes, getting into the van and carseat can take much longer than I expect. A couple months ago I realized I should start doing some big sister training exercises to help our out-the-door process get a little quicker before little Isaiah is added into the mix. (I’ve had a combined practice of 7 months of having two children to get ready in the mornings from our last four foster children so this is not all new.) With Ali approaching four years old, she’s capable of much more independence than we often expect or require of her. Undressing and dressing herself, including shoes and socks, was the biggest process I wanted to help her master before Zay’s due date. I made a sticker chart with a list of tasks, including some she was already routinely doing (staying in her bed all night, putting her dirty clothes in her laundry basket), and those that I wanted her to work on. It took her two months to fill the chart because we forgot about the stickers most of the time! Especially the ones that happen in the rush as we’re going out the door. But the great news is that she’s capable of doing everything on this list now. (Getting her to do it quickly and without requesting help is still a work in progress…) She earned the prize of her choosing: Candy Land. I’m really proud of her. She’s so excited to be a big sister to Isaiah and to do all of these “big girl” things without help.

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[Disclaimer: I typically do “hair night” every other day…this was after skipping it for two nights…4 days without detangling and moisturizing. Don’t judge me! I’m 9 months pregnant and my husband was out of town for several days! 😉 ]

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Crafting with Ali

02/24/2015

I love art and doing crafts. I always have. It’s such a joy for me to see my daughter loving art, too. She got a big bucket of craft supplies and a booklet of ideas for Christmas. We’ve been having fun working on these together on these cold, dreary winter days. I’m looking forward to the days she can do these projects more independently so she can work along side me while I work on my own craft projects. But in this stage, I’m just delighted that she’s having fun and getting creative with these projects.

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When our buddy Termain was visiting one evening they sat and did art projects together for a while. He’s an art lover too.

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One day I was able to get almost an hour of sewing projects done while Ali played with Play Doh nearby. Glorious!

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Alianna at 3.5 years old

01/20/2015

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Our little Alianna is 3.5 years old. She has one foot in the intense and challenging world of 3-year-olds and one foot in the charming and sweet world of 4-year-olds. Some days we get all sweet, some days we get all sour, but most days are a mix of both. She’s really blossoming into a little girl—no longer a toddler. Ali is thoughtful and sensitive. She is very apologetic and clearly remorseful now when she makes mistakes, like breaking something or hurting someone by accident. She has the best helper-heart, and jumps to help whenever she sees a need. She got her first pair of work gloves (it took me 6 months to find her size!) and loves to help Daddy with yard work or Mommy with chicken chores.

Ali is just as social as ever and makes friends easily wherever we go. She is bold and confident, never hesitant to walk up to someone she’s never met and ask a question. She started soccer this month, her first organized sport. She enthusiastically listens to instructions and stays close to the coaches. Playing on a team and eight kids all fighting for one ball (no one is taking turns or sharing!) are new concepts but she’s getting the hang of it.

Alianna loves working on craft projects with Mommy: painting, cutting and gluing, coloring with crayons and markers, tracing letters and numbers. She also loves music and not only has a great memory for lyrics, she always wants to know who is singing and the name of the song. She loves to hear whatever projects Daddy is working on in the studio and always wants us to dance with her. With an artist and a musician as parents—and a home filled with both—I guess she was destined to love creative arts.

She’s super excited about her new role as big sister. She often asks me when I get home from work, “How is the baby today?” She pats, hugs and kisses my belly often. She’s planning on helping with feeding the baby and changing diapers—”But only the pee ones!” I pray that her baby brother has her confidence, easy-going nature and contagious joy. I also pray that they grow up as the best of friends. She’s a blessing and a treasure, my precious Ali-girl. Happy Half-Birthday sweetheart!

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For my own records: 37.5″ tall and 30.5 lbs. at 3.5 years old. Our petite little lady.

Related Posts:

Alianna Mae at Three Years Old

Alianna at 2.5 Years Old

Alianna Mae at Two Years Old

Alianna at 18 Months

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Alianna Mae at Three Years Old

07/28/2014

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Three years! Oh this age is fun! There is testing and yelling and sassy attitude (see Return of the Threenager. Run for your lives! or 46 Reasons My Three Year Old Might Be Freaking Out). But there is also imaginative play, learning to draw people and spell words, real two-way conversations and ever increasing independence.

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Ali Mae, I am so thankful that you were born and that you were placed in our family. It’s a joy and a privilege to be your mommy. It doesn’t seem possible but you continue to get more beautiful everyday, inside and out. You love people. You always have but it’s been so fun to see you interacting more and more with “friends,” AKA everyone you met. When we go to the playground or the pool or church, you’re always delighted to see other kids—even if they’re older than you—and you quickly go up and ask them “What’s your name?” and “What do you want to play?” I’ve never seen a toddler command an audience and organize activities quite like you. We’re often told by others how polite and considerate you are. You pick up on every nuance of conversation and social interaction. I’ve witnessed you seeking out the loaner and then pulling him into the group of kids with everyone else. You often ask me, “How was your work today?” or “How was your day?” and always listen intently to my response. I love to hear you communicate your thoughts, feelings, questions and discoveries so clearly. You’re always ready to learn and eager to try again when you make a mistake. When I apologize for letting you down or losing my temper, you’re quick to forgive and offer me another chance, too. “That’s OK. Just try again,” you say. You have an incredible memory. I do not so I’m learning to rely on you a lot. You remember names when both Daddy and I forget. You recognize where we are when we’re driving around town. You love trivia and memorizing all kinds of facts. You’re a foster sister and that’s a heavy, important job. This past year you’ve said goodbye to three foster siblings—Buzz, Bee and Firefly. Your heart is big. I know you’ve experience a lot of heartbreak in your three years but yet you’re always quick to love again. I think you’re an amazing person and I learn a lot from you. I’m so thankful that you’re my daughter. I can’t wait to discover what this next year will bring, one day at a time!

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July 4th

07/21/2014

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I love fireworks and all things summer which makes Independence Day one of my favorite holidays. It was a bit bittersweet with Firefly just leaving the day before but we had a fun time nonetheless. Ali said as we were walking away, “I wasn’t scared at all! Just a little bit scared.” For the record, she was pretty scared but she did great and stuck it out with Grandpa, Grandma, Jason and me.

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Ali’s Favorite Toys at 2.75 Years Old

04/15/2014

A friend with a child a bit younger than mine was wondering if I could share about some of her favorite toys, particularly things that will hold her interest for longer than 5 minutes inside when the weather isn’t conducive to shooing the little ones outside for an adventure. (Click any of the blue text for links to purchase if you’re interested.)

Play-Doh
It’s amazing how long the squishy, colorful dough can keep Ali’s attention. She sometimes mixes stickers and toothpicks into the dough, and definitely jumbles the colors. It’s cheap and she’s having fun so I try not to look. Our biggest challenge with play-doh is reminding her to put it back into the containers so it doesn’t dry up.

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Glow-in-the-Dark Bracelets
At a playgroup one time I overheard the other moms talking about doing glow-in-the-dark baths for their toddlers. What?! I had to find out. It’s simple: give your kids a couple of glow bracelets and dim the lights. Suddenly, bath time is fascinating. This is often the reward at the end of a good day… sometimes it’s just to give mommy a break. I’ve never tested it but I think she would play in the bath with glow sticks until the water got cold. Sometimes I can find 15-packs in the dollar spot at Target. Amazon sells 100 for $9.

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Watercolors
Ali got some paint-with-water books for Christmas, but honestly her favorite thing is to just make abstract paintings on plain white paper. I’ve always been a lover of abstract art so I find each of her creations to be masterpieces worth hanging on my office walls. This pack of Crayola Washable Watercolors is my favorite. Last summer (when she was turning 2) we only painted outside. Now that she’s approaching 3, she paints at the kitchen table strapped into her buckle booster. I have the paper on a placemat and I use a heavy mug for the water. Clean up is pretty easy with a damp cloth. She uses some of my old higher quality paintbrushes.

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Potato Heads
I’m sure you are all familiar with this classic toy. I don’t have much to say except that it gets a lot of play.

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Play Kitchen / Tea Set
Jason and I both drink coffee and tea (respectively) several times throughout the day so Ali is used to seeing us with a mug of hot liquid. I think it’s for that reason that her tea set gets so much play time. Sometimes I let her have real tea in her cup, which she loves. Usually it’s imaginary tea: sparkle tea for me and chocolate tea for her. This was my first Green Toys purchase. They’re all made from recycled food-grade plastics and have a nice tactile texture. I found a play kitchen for Ali off of craigslist.

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Play Food
We have crocheted food handmade by Ali’s Nana, cloth breakfast food and vegetable sets from IKEA, and some second-hand Melissa & Doug wooden play food. Ali loves to practice her chef skills slicing apart the M&D Cutting Food set. I’d definitely recommend this to a friend.

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Ball
I think this is a given at any age but it’s always good to have a good bouncy ball around. While it’s not usually an independent activity, Ali and I have spent many rainy or cold days playing soccer or catch. On her first intensive day of potty training when we spent hours in the kitchen, soccer was a life-saver.

Slide
Again, this doesn’t need much explanation. It got a ton of play time from age 18 months-present 2.75 years. We just moved it outside a few months ago. It used to be in our den/playroom. I stalked craigslist until I found a good deal on one that hadn’t been sun-bleached outside.

Play Tent/Fort
There are lots of options for this one. Drape a blanket between two pieces of furniture. Turn a big cardboard box on it’s side. (Pictured below: Ali and her BFF Jaron in the box fort in his bedroom.) Buy a play tent. Or do like I did and make a playhouse out of a sheet that fits snuggly over a card table. I only get this out when I’m desperate and it always works to keep Ali busy for a while.

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OUTSIDE TOYS

Diving Toys
This is also not an independent activity because it requires supervision but this is an addition to my list from Buzz last summer. We spent many, many hours at my parents’ swimming pool and these Cars diving toys were a big hit with both kids. Buzz’s mom bought him a set last summer and I plan to get Ali some for this summer. I’m praying she’s tall enough to stand on her toes in the shallow end like Buzz was last summer…

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Water
A wading pool. Water guns. A watering can. A bucket and a hose. Whatever you’ve got – toddlers love experimenting with it. Dumping, splashing, drinking, blowing bubbles, etc.

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Bubbles
I make my own bubble solution. Ali is starting to get the hang of blowing bubbles with a bubble wand at this age. (And Buzz was doing it last summer at this age.) Last year, she relied a lot on the battery operated bubble gun. She also has a bubble mower that gets a lot of playtime.

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Capture Hope

04/11/2014

The story of Alianna joining our family, A Home for Ali. is featured on Capture Hope, along with some beautiful photos from 535 Photo. I love Capture Hope and it’s mission “From Darkness into Light” … sharing stories of hope and testimonies of God’s goodness. We were honored to be interviewed and photographed by Rebekah several weeks ago. She took hours of Jason and me rambling on and on about foster care, adoption and the amazing kids we’ve had the privilege of parenting; and she turned it into a creative journal format. I love Ali’s testimony and I’m delighted to share it any time I have a chance.

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Ali’s First (Professional) Haircut

04/09/2014

At 2.75 years old, Ali had her first professional haircut. I’ve snipped at tangled and frayed ends a few times but this was the first real haircut at a salon. Our friend Sierra at Troubadour Salon cuts both Jason’s and my hair and she was glad to give our little girl her first trim. (Sierra is 7 months pregnant with her first little baby boy, by the way.) Ali did great!

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