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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Two and a half year old Photographer

03/03/2014

My iphone requires a passcode or my fingerprint to unlock, however the camera can be accessed in lock mode. Alianna has figured this out and loves to swipe my phone and start snapping pictures. Here are some of her captures in the past few months.

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Alianna at 2.5 Years Old

02/11/2014

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I’ve been trying to write this post for a month now. Alianna turned 2.5 on January 20. I was doing a photo shoot for Jason recently and using her to test my camera settings. I’m thankful for this impromptu session to capture some of her two-and-a-half-year-old wonderfulness. Here are some quick stats.

Growth:
Ali is 34.5″ tall and 27 lbs. at 2.5 years old. (Between 10-25th percentile for height and 25-50th percentile for weight.)

Personality:
She’s more passionate than ever. Everything she feels, she feels intensely—like most two year olds. Ali is sweet and sensitive to other’s feelings. She’s also let you know if she’s not happy. Every night she remembers to pray for Buzz and his mommy, for Great-Grandma (who Ali says is sad and sick and she needs a hug), for Nana and Papa, for Grandma and Grandma, for Mommy and Daddy and Bee and for biological baby sister. She’s got an amazing memory and often surprises us, especially when it comes to music. Ali is a gentle and loving big sister to Bee and considers everyone her friends.

Funny/new sayings:
Mommy…not Mommy…Daddy! (She gets our names mixed up a lot.)
Daddy.…not Daddy…Mommy!
I don’t know.
Esmooz me (excuse me…so cute!)
It’s hard to wait sometimes (said about 10x a day)
It’s hard to be patient.
(Ali, are you finished eating lunch?) No, I’m eating lunch all day.
Hmm, I don’t know what I want to choose.
Look at me.
Talk with me.
I need attention.
I need affection.
You sad? I know, you play puzzles with me. Then you be happy.
I go to bed happy and then I wake up happy!
Mommy! Mommy! My yight came on. And then I stayed in my room until my yight came on! (Every morning)

General Favorites:
Bible Readeez, potato heads, play kitchen/food, being mama to her baby doll (feeding, burping, changing, putting to bed), Justin Time (show), Yo Gabba Gabba soundtrack, playing catch and soccer, dancing to music on her “stage” (footstool) with her frilly skirts, puzzles, learning letters and numbers, the book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See (she has it completely memorized and wants it read every night), FP Little People, playing catch or soccer with a bouncy ball

Favorite Foods:
Mac & cheese, eggs, grapefruit, apple juice, fruit snacks, clementines, blueberries, rotisserie chicken, broccoli, sautéed mushrooms, chips & salsa (especially Chuy’s restaurant), cheese, yogurt, sweets/mints, pistachios

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Alianna at 2 years old. Alianna at 18 months. Alianna at 1 year old. Alianna at 6 months old.


Bee Flew North

12/31/2013

OK, actually she was driven North. I mentioned before Christmas that Bee was given an unexpected family pass to spend the holidays in Wisconsin with her grandparents and extended family. We met her grandma, great-aunt and great-grandma for dinner at Chilis the Friday before Christmas to get to know them a bit more before the send off. They’re very sweet people and I know Bee is in good hands. DCS extended their permission until January 13, her next hearing date because her grandma was planning on coming back down for the hearing anyway. It’s kind of weird…we technically still have a foster placement, Bee is officially still our foster daughter, but she’s not here. Although we do miss her, it’s been a nice break, too. After Buzz left I realized the unnatural circumstances that often come with foster care where the number of children in a household sometimes decreases. An additional child is a big adjustment and then reducing back down to one child from two feels like such an easy break. We’ve been enjoying soaking up lots of time with our amazing 2.5 year old Alianna. She is such a joy and a delight. Also, we got to see Buzz again. He and his mom came to the Christmas service at our church.

Bee all packed and ready to go. Have you ever seen a foster child come with such nice luggage?!

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Two of her three Christmas presents from us. I opened them the night before she left.

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Send-off day.

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We soothed ourselves with ice cream after the send-off dinner.

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Ali showing off a gift from our neighbor, pocket babies.

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Christmas church service:

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Family Fun Weekend

09/23/2013

Friday morning Ali and I celebrated that we only had 1 more day until Jason got home from his recent Canadian tour.

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Then Friday night we had a girls night out, dinner and frozen yogurt. I love hanging out with her. She’s so much fun!

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Saturday morning we had a light breakfast and then went straight to the airport to wait for Jason to arrive. Then we went out for breakfast together.

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Can you tell that Ali was happy to see her daddy? I wish I would have gotten video of her jumping up and down and screaming, “Daddy! Daddy!” when we watched him walking toward our van with all his luggage and guitars. We sure love this guy.