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).
First day self-portrait and a silly pose:
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.
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.
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.
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!
I think this age is going to be my favorite one yet!
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
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!
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.
[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! 😉 ]
“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.
Our zinnias should hopefully start blooming this month. Hooray for April! It’s a great month to have a baby.
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.
When our buddy Termain was visiting one evening they sat and did art projects together for a while. He’s an art lover too.
One day I was able to get almost an hour of sewing projects done while Ali played with Play Doh nearby. Glorious!
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.
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!