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.
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.
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.)
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.
Mommy…not Mommy…Daddy! (She gets our names mixed up a lot.)
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)
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
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
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?!
Two of her three Christmas presents from us. I opened them the night before she left.
We soothed ourselves with ice cream after the send-off dinner.
Ali showing off a gift from our neighbor, pocket babies.
Christmas church service:
Friday morning Ali and I celebrated that we only had 1 more day until Jason got home from his recent Canadian tour.
Then Friday night we had a girls night out, dinner and frozen yogurt. I love hanging out with her. She’s so much fun!
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.
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.
When we finalized Ali’s adoption we changed her name. It was a slight change to her first name because we really liked her name. Well before we had even considered foster care we planned on naming our first daughter Anna Mae. Jason and I both have/had grandmothers named Anna. Mine was Anna Maria. His is Anna Mae. We realized while debating about what/if to change her name that we could modify it just a tad and incorporate our planned name into her existing name. Alianna Mae Ahlbrandt.
Jason’s grandmother Anna Mae Ahlbrandt lives in Erie, Pennsylvania, where we’re from. We don’t get back up there often and it occurred to us that our opportunities to introduce Alianna to her great-grandma could be running out. Last Friday these two finally had a chance to meet. They probably won’t remember this meeting but it was important to me that we captured it in photographs so we can show Ali in the future. Great-Grandma has dementia and her short term memory lasts only about 5 minutes. She asked us over and over again who we were. She really seemed to enjoy Ali and Ali did very well braving this unfamiliar and awkward situation. When we talked about it afterward, Ali’s impression was that great-grandma was sick and she was crying. She was not crying—in fact, we was smiling, joking and singing most of the time we were there—but perhaps Ali was picking up on a deeper emotion. I’m thankful we could do this and capture the moment forever.
I’ll share about the rest of our trip—Ali’s first time to the place we grew up—in my next post.
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.
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!
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.
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).
Ben didn’t want me to take his picture but he agreed to make silly faces with me.
“Night Night” is Ali’s new favorite game.
We took the kids to a childrens museum on Sunday afternoon. They liked petting Shelly the turtle.
Ali coloring with Aunt Renata.
Shopping at the miniature Kroger.
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.
In a miniature house, wearing an apple dress, holding an apple. She’s fun!
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.
On Labor Day we went to a fair and the kids got to ride this little train. What a cute caboose!
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.
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.
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.
I took this little lady grocery shopping with me the other day. We weren’t in a rush and the store wasn’t busy so when she didn’t want to ride in the shopping cart I decided to let her walk for the first time. She got so much attention with her stylish boots, little purse, (Dora sticker on her face…) and her out-going personality. I think she said hi to every person in the store and had at least 5 conversations about how old she is and what her name. She was thrilled to look at the live lobsters and knew what they were (maybe from shopping with her daddy, I’ve never talked to her about them before). I would hand her a item, like an orange or a box of rice, and she would drop it into the cart for me. I even let her choose a couple things for me… red grapes or green grapes? (She chose red.) Mac and cheese in a fun shape. Fruit snacks (her new obsession), even though we had a box at home. She carried the fruit snacks under her arm for the duration of our shopping. She told me she was carrying them in her armpit. She was usually trailing 5-10 feet behind me as I walked up and down the aisles pushing our cart. At one point I looked back and noticed she would take a few steps, turn around in a circle, take a few more steps, turn in a circle. She has such a passion for life and an incredible joy even at the small things. I decided to follow her lead…take a few steps, turn in a circle, take a few steps, turn in a circle. Her vitality is contagious. And she thought it was pretty great, too.
I must note: Publix employees are amazing! They all stopped to talk to her and offer her samples. While we were checking out she told one of the ladies that she had to go potty. She offered to take her for me (I declined that…that would have been weird) but then they offered to finish bagging my groceries and I could pay when we were done in the restroom so my little 2 year old wouldn’t have to hold it too long. After we finished up and paid, the older woman who bagged our groceries pushed our cart out to our van and insisted on loading it all herself so I could buckle Ali in. It was such a wonderful grocery shopping experience!
Have you ever had moments in real life where you had the immediate reaction of wanting to hit command+shift+z (or ctrl+alt+delete for you PC users). It’s a smack in the face when you remember that in real life you can’t just hit undo. Remember how I wrote a post about Ali transition to her big girl bed? And I even said “I feel confident calling it a great success.” I am now eating those words. I must tell the whole story: I was wrong. She was not ready. UNDO! She did wonderfully for 2 weeks. The night after her first day of potty training is when it all started falling apart. That’s also the night my hands and feet caught on fire with HFM. And Jason was in the Netherlands.
My main motivation for transitioning her to a bed was so that when she became potty trained she could get out of bed to use the bathroom as needed. I think it was a mistake for me to explain to her how to do that…even encouraging her to practice going from her bed to the bathroom. It was like a flip switched… You mean I can get out of my bed? Whenever I want?! I’ll spare you the details but from the next week after that, every night but one and ever nap time involved screaming, crying, tantrums and fits related to not wanting to go to bed, stay in bed or get back in bed. Last Friday night I joyfully put her crib side back on. Enough of that $%&@! I need to sleep! Also, she’s been doing fine staying dry during nap time and she’s not staying dry through the night anyway. So, in retrospect, I think it was worth a try but I have very few reservations about putting her back in a crib for a few weeks, months or even another year as long as she’s staying safe in there. I think she’s feeling much more secure about it too. Bed times and nap times have been peaceful the past several days. I’m planning to continue some of the language we’d been using, calling it a bed instead of a crib and reminding her at night to stay in her bed and wait in bed until one of us comes to get her in the morning (even though she doesn’t have a choice.)
Yes, I think I bit off more than I could chew and pushed her into too many new things all at once. I’m thankful that the potty training is going quite well.
For the first time in the past seven years, we sold a vintage furniture item and replaced it with an IKEA item. Maybe it’s the modern house we live in now rather than a 1955 ranch. Or maybe it’s the practicality of IKEA with families and small children. It’s probably both… The other part of our couch decision was based on the layout of our living room. This long Karlstad couch with chaise utilizes the space in our living room better. After Ali went to bed on Friday night, Jason and I started to assemble it. He had to leave in less than 2 hours for bus call. We scrambled and got the room put back together just in time! We haven’t had a couch in our living room for two weeks so it was so nice to sit here and relax a few times over the weekend. When Ali got up on Saturday morning I told her we got a new couch. When she saw it she said, “New couch! I want to sit here,” as she climbed up onto the chaise. “I want to watch shows.” I put a show on for her—a DVD that is—I didn’t perform.
I think she’s a fan!
The gray pillows aren’t a good fit for the beige couch but they’re functional for now. I think only one end table is going to work with this set up so we have to find another home for the other table and switch some lamps around. We’re also working on some art ideas for the big blank white wall.
Since Lucy keeps photobombing all my pictures, I figured I better just give her a proper portrait. Lucy the chocolate cocker spaniel at 8 years old:
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.
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.
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.