First Day of Kindergarten

09/06/2016

Alianna’s first day of kindergarten was August 8. At 5 years old her career goals are to be a mommy, wife and teacher (like mommy).

IMG_4837

First day self-portrait and a silly pose:

IMG_4846

We’re homeschooling. I’ve been able to do most of the teaching myself the past 3 weeks but as I start back to work at my graphic design job, Jason and I will be doing some tag-teaming with her schooling. We’re working on a curriculum for reading sight words, writing letters and basic math. We also do lots of reading: Bible, poetry, picture books and I also read her novels aloud while she does art projects. She does chores to learn home economics. She gets social interaction with other kids at weekly dance lessons, church Sunday school, as well as at regular field trips and play dates with other homeschool friends. And of course she gets lots of time playing and interacting with her siblings. We’re also starting to add in piano and soon Spanish. So far we are really enjoying this new experience. Ali and I agree that our favorite part is the reading aloud of novels. We’ve finished Charlotte’s Web (which made me cry!), a Junie B Jones book, and now we’re reading the first book of The Bobbsey Twins series. Here are a few highlights from our first few weeks.

IMG_5125

IMG_5123

signature


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.

IMG_4541

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.

IMG_4357 IMG_4362 IMG_4367 IMG_4373 IMG_4432

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!

IMG_4502 IMG_4508 IMG_4511 IMG_4516

IMG_4499IMG_4523

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

signature

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


#aliandzay

06/15/2015

IMG_0673

I was sitting in the hospital bed holding Isaiah as Alianna and Nana (Jason’s mom) came into my room, with Aunt Ginger and cousin Eliza right behind them. Ali was quietly grinning as she came right up to say hi to her new brother and get a hug from me. “Do you want to hold him?” She nodded. She climbed up onto the bed and nestled in next to me so I could help her. “Look, Mommy, his bones aren’t too soft!” she said has she touched his forehead. I had explained before about being very careful holding little babies, especially being gentle with and supporting their heads and necks. The first picture of them together captured that moment.

I grew up with an older sister and brother. I can’t imagine growing up without siblings. While Ali has five biological half-siblings, we don’t see them often. I really wanted her to have a sibling to grow up with, under the same roof, with the same parents. Zay was the answer to that prayer. Since getting pregnant, I’ve prayed many times for their relationship and I continue to do so. I hope they grow up to be the best of friends. I pray for a strong, loving bond between them. Seeing it come to life fills my heart with so much joy. She adores him. He adores her. She reads books to him. She rushes to comfort him when he’s upset. She sings him songs and gives him his pacifier. She helps with baths and diaper changes. She hugs and kisses him and rubs her soft cheeks against his face. He turns his face toward her and smiles. He watches her. He reaches out toward her. She’s quick to tell anyone we meet, “I’m a big sister. He’s my little brother. His name is Isaiah.” She’s so proud of him and her role. Jason and I are so proud of her!

 

IMG_0667 IMG_0774 IMG_0779 IMG_0793 IMG_0932IMG_5302 IMG_1414 IMG_1438 IMG_1473 IMG_1549 IMG_1567 IMG_1587 IMG_1627 IMG_1693 IMG_1803 IMG_1979 IMG_2151

signature


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.

IMG_0483 IMG_0484

[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! 😉 ]

signature


Forzinnia

04/01/2015

“Forzinnia” … that’s a combination of forsythia and zinnia. A couple weeks ago Ali helped pick out and then plant some zinnia. Last week our forsythia started blooming and she helped me clip some to put in vases. It’s no wonder she was getting the names mixed up! I love, love, love Spring in Nashville. Achoo! The allergies are a small price to pay for the beautify of this time of year.

IMG_0239 IMG_0243 IMG_0244

Our zinnias should hopefully start blooming this month. Hooray for April! It’s a great month to have a baby.

signature


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.

IMG_8359

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

IMG_8388 IMG_8698

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

IMG_9140 IMG_9414 IMG_9431

signature


Alianna Mae at Three Years Old

07/28/2014

IMG_4082_blog

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.

IMG_6118 IMG_6114 IMG_6113

IMG_6119

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!

IMG_4078_blog

signature


A Blessing From Above

06/18/2014

ablessingfromabove

This book (A Blessing from Above) really hit home when I was reading it to Alianna just a few hours after we talked to her biological mom on the phone. I’m so thankful I was positioned to catch my Little One when she fell out of her Mama’s nest and I’m grateful I have her blessing.

signature


Easter

04/22/2014

Easter was beautiful this year. The weather. The church service. My people. A quiet afternoon. Dinner with family. My two-year-old daughter’s simple understanding of the meaning of Easter.

I wasn’t necessarily planning on explaining death to her at this age but between one of our chickens dying around the same time as her great-grandmother (and namesake) died, we’ve had some conversations about it already. She understands that dead means gone, we won’t see that person or animal anymore, and their bodies are buried in the ground. Her understand of Easter (thanks very much to the Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones) is this:

Jesus died on the cross. The whole earth was sad and the rocks cracked. They put him in a tomb with a big stone. The stone was rolled away. He’s not there! He came back and He’s alive!

On Saturday as we were driving to the pharmacy I heard her singing in the backseat, “Thank you for the cross. Thank you for the cross.”

IMG_4349 IMG_4352


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.

playdoh

 

 

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.

IMG_9610

 

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.

watercolors

 

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.

potatohead

 

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.

teaset

 

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.

cuttingfood

 

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.

IMG_2405

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…

divingtoys

 

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.

IMG_8720

 

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.

IMG_9653