She Wants To Be Like Me

08/05/2014

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It’s simultaneously flattering and terrifying that I have a daughter who wants to be just like me. She sees the worst of me, along with the best. My biggest failures are most often toward those who I love the most: my husband and my daughter. I’ve had to ask her forgiveness so many times. She’s always gracious to forgive. She teaches me. When she offends me, I want to be mad; I want her to know that I’m mad. On the contrary, when I’ve lost my temper with her, she responds to my apologies with so much grace. “It’s OK, Mommy. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes. You just try again.”

The other day I was heading out to take care of the chickens. She asked, “Mommy, can I follow you?” She hurried to put her shoes on so she could shadow me on my chores. If I’m working, she wants to work. If I’m vacuuming, she wants to vacuum. If I’m cooking, she wants to cook. If I throw a fit when I’m mad, she throws a fit when she’s mad. If I bark commands at her, she barks commands at me (or others). If I sing and dance in worship, she sings and dances in worship. If I feel sick, she feels sick. When I see how much she wants to be like me, I’m humbled. I’m desperate to be more like Jesus so when she emulates me, she’s emulating Him.

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Jesus, help me to be like You. Help me to love my daughter well. Help me to be on her side and to model love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.

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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.


Introducing… Bee!

11/25/2013

On Thursday afternoon we got a call—only our third call in 3.5 weeks of being open to new placements—and it was a “yes” call. A 6-month old girl? A baby? Yes! God has been preparing my heart since August for our next placement to be a baby girl…ever since I found out Alianna’s biological mom was pregnant with a girl. Bee is not Ali’s biological sister, however, I know that God was preparing me for Bee as well as putting that baby sister on my heart so I’d pray for her a lot. In fact, when I found out baby sister was coming into state custody, I bought some formula, diapers and a newborn onesie from the clearance rack at Target just in case. They put baby sister with another family member so we never got that call. However, funny how God works isn’t it? That onesie I bought just in case…I found an exact duplicate in the tub of clothing that came with Bee!

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I love when God gives me these little signs to show that He knows me and He cares what matters to my heart.

So, back to baby Bee. That’s not her real name, of course. It’s my online nickname for her. We don’t really know how long she’ll be with us at this point. There is a family member out-of-state that they’re hoping will work for her placement but state-to-state transfers and documentation can be slow. Initially we were told it might take 6 months. By the next day, we heard they’re going to try to expedite it, but they still couldn’t give me a time frame. Just “faster.” One day at a time. It would be nice to know if she’ll be with us for Christmas so I can prepare but such is the way of foster care.

Bee is a big baby! That’s part of the reason for the nickname…she’s round and bumbly. I though Ali was a big baby but Bee is already too big for all the 6 month clothes she came with. I have some 9 and 12 month hand-me-downs from Ali that suit her much better. We’ve been blessed with another very easy-going, happy, good-sleeping baby. Praise the Lord! She is really delightful and we’re all so happy to have her join our household for however long we get to kiss her big, soft cheeks and inhale her delicious baby smell. I’ll write more about how we’re all transitioning when I have more time.

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Guess Who Got Potty Trained Last Weekend?

08/21/2013

I had taken a vacation day on Friday planning to go visit friends in Ohio with Ali but a sore throat and mild fever made me change my plans. Since we’d be stuck at home all weekend, I decided to tackle potty training Ali using the Toilet Training in Less Than Day method. The night before training we practiced by teaching all of her baby dolls how to use the potty (even Little Lucy dog and Ms. Broccoli!)

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She did awesome the first day! Two accidents and FOURTEEN successes! We spent the whole day in the kitchen, dining room, and bathroom with the exception of her nap time and a little time outside. Lots of drinking liquids and eating salty snacks and sweet reward treats for keeping dry pants.

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She was so proud of herself! The next day was a little sloppy because I wasn’t feeling well…more about that later. But she did pretty good. Something like 8 successes and 4 accidents. We took one outing. I was planning originally just to go to the pharmacy and back but decided to stop at H&M so Ali could pick out some fun new undies. She rocked her first public restroom experience.

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By Saturday evening, my weekend started to crumble apart as I got sicker and sicker with hand, foot and mouth disease. WHAT?! Yeah, I’ll tell you about that sometime. Potty training essentially went on hold then but I’d say she’s 75% trained. Optimistically… We’re using pull-ups as back up this week. Darn you, HFM.


Ali Mae at 22 Months

05/21/2013

 

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Oh, Ali Mae! You are now 22 months old. This past couple of weeks since Buzz arrived have come at you like a knuckleball. I’m sorry for how difficult and unpredictable it has been for you but I also believe that you are learning and growing so much. You are a sweet little girl but you are not afraid to assert yourself. You are easy going but you have a strong voice. You are a lover but also a fighter. God knew exactly what He was doing when He created You. He knew you would eventually end up in our family and that one day you would become “a foster sister” to other kids in our home.

Don’t lose your joy, precious little girl. Your place in our family, in our home, in our hearts is established forever. You will never be replaced. You will never be removed from us. I pray that God fills us all with so much love for each other that we have more than enough to give out to others. Thank you for sharing with Buzz… Sharing your home, your toys, your parents. It’s a lot of ask of an almost two year old and I know you’re doing the best you can. We’ve all had to make a lot of sacrifices but I want you to know that the job you have in all of this is so vital. You are an amazing sister to Buzz. You lead the way and show him the ropes around our home and our family. Your confidence, contentedness and joy are helpful for him to witness.

Your Daddy and I have noticed that your words have been exploding lately and we suspect it comes from an increased need and desire to have your voice heard. We hear you, sweetheart. We hear you say “Ali’s drink, ” “Cereal please,” “Can I have more?” “Mommy’s Day” “Ali’s Day” “Ali’s Daddy” “Apple juice” “Bubbles?” “Show? George?” (Curious George is your new favorite show.) And when we do miss your words, Honey, thank you for being patient with us. We’re all tired and little on edge lately. You are still an encouraging, radiant ball of sunshine in our home. Everyday I can’t help but marvel at your ever increasing beauty!

You are doing great with your swimming lessons. I’m so proud of your attitude and your bravery. This last Saturday, you hopped in off the side and I let you go under for a few second before lifting you up. You’ve been practicing blowing bubbles and not sucking in water. When I pulled you out of the water you wiped your eyes and said “Good job, Ali!” I’m glad you’re feeling proud of yourself. We’re going to have so much fun in Grandma and Grandpa’s pool this summer. Thank you for being you, Ali. I love you so much!

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Bubbles

04/22/2013

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Have you ever made your own bubble solution? It’s cheap, very easy and makes awesome bubbles! I’ve seen a lot of pins on Pinterest with homemade bubble recipes but this is the one I tried. I cut the recipe in half and used Dawn dish soap and light corn syrup. I found it to be too thick so I added more water.

With one breath and a simple little 1″ bubble wand, I can make 20-40 bubbles! Ali is thrilled. We’ll never be wasting our money on the “miracle” watery bubble solution at the store again. I’m hoping to try this out with a bigger bubble wand soon. Even with my little wand, I can get a bubble about 4″ in diameter.

Usually we do bubbles outside but sometimes if Ali is well behaved in the tub (in other words, not soaking me with splashing…) I’ll reward her with bubbles in the tub.

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Dog photo bomb! (By the way, Ali is not crying in the background, she’s gasping/laughing because of the bubbles popping around her face. No children were harmed in the making of these photos. 😉 However… Warning: it’s soapy and it will sting the eyes. She tends to get it on her hands from exuberant bubble decimation and then sometimes rubs her eyes.)

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Junior Landscaping Apprentice

04/09/2013

When Jason and I are doing yard work, Ali is either sleeping or helping. And by helping, I mean “helping.” Bless her heart, she wants so badly to be useful.

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I was planning on getting Ali a sandbox this summer and then I realized, hello! We have a whole courtyard full of crushed rocks. Welcome to the giant sandbox, darling.

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Look how she follows Jason around with her tiny shovel, trying to do exactly what he’s doing.

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Such a beautiful picture of parenting and discipline, isn’t it? She learns how to act by watching and imitating us. We lead by example and it’s her instinct to follow.

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It’s not forced. She could have been just playing in the rocks and that would have been fine. But she wanted to help Daddy. She wanted to do what Daddy was doing. She wants to be like Daddy.

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Good Reads

02/11/2013

These three blog posts rocked my world last week and I wanted to pass them on to you.

Look at Me When You’re Talking to Me!

You want me to look at you, even when you are very angry and I don’t want to look at you.  And you want me to wait my turn for talking, even when I have something very important to say.  So why don’t you look at me when I’m doing my very important things before you tell me to stop?  And why do you get to interrupt what I am doing without waiting until I’m done?

Written from the perspective to the child, this totally humbled me as a mama. It brought tears to my eyes as I realized how often I fail Ali by not giving her the attention and respect she deserves. The day before I read this, I had scolded Ali for demanding “Cacka! Cacka! Cacka!” from the other room. I told her she needed to say “Cracker please” in a nice tone. Then a few minutes later, I caught myself toning out her voice as I was preparing dinner. “Pease. Pease. Pease.” she was saying in the sweetest little voice as she pointed to the package of crackers. She wasn’t rude, loud or demanding…and she totally did not get my attention. Sigh.

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For the Foster/Adoptive Dad

My friend and mentor says there are only 2 emotions; fear and love.  They are intricately and inversely related.  Foster or adoptive children live out of fear, they are afraid that at the drop of a dime they will be picked up and put out of the home they are currently in.  It does not matter how old they are or how long they have been there, fear is often the primary emotion that is shaping everything and anything about these children.  … God says He is love, and thus far I believe Him.  No matter how many moments we want to respond in fear, fathers must ferociously pursue the presence of God…the presence of love.

I don’t come across a lot blogs written by foster/adoptive dads so I thought this one was pretty cool. This father discusses 3 things that he feels very foster/adoptive dad must force himself to lean into daily.

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3 Things We Forget

In most cases lying, stealing, selfishness, and the inability to empathize will surface again and again. Get ready, because they all come with the territory. All of these are symptoms of a human being who has been forced into survival mode early on in their little lives.

From the same father as the previous post, here he addresses 3 things to keep in mind when parenting “hurt” kids—behaviors that result from fighting to survive, not to expect gratitude from a child who didn’t choose this life and the long term investment beyond a kid’s 18th birthday.


Alianna at 15 Months

10/24/2012

On October 20th, Ali turned 15 months old…1 year and 3 months! It didn’t go unnoticed and I wanted to write a record of what she’s doing these days.

Ali-gator, you are now walking more than crawling, and even walking with your hands down! (No more Frankenstein.) You still trip a lot. I guess it takes a while to get a sense of where your feet are and what’s coming up. You’re really into climbing lately. You love to climb from your little rocking chair on to Grandma and Grandpa’s big recliner and then back down. I got you a toddler slide from craigslist to help satisfy your climbing desires but you haven’t figured out the ladder yet. You love the slide though!

You’ve started becoming a little more picky and opinionated in your eating lately. The result is just that you’ve been eating a little less because you don’t always care for what’s offered to you. I figure if you’re really hungry you’ll eat it anyway. We sometimes hand you a plastic toddler fork or spoon with food on it and you’re happy to eat whatever is on it. You haven’t yet tried to get the food on to the utensil yourself but that will come eventually.

We’re working hard on stay positive and redirecting you rather than saying “No” too much. You respond so much better to a gentle redirect than to an angry, “No! Ali! That’s Lucy’s food!” That only makes you want to do it more. I felt convicted recently that I was getting too harsh with you, after reading “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” So true that is with you. Thank you for being patient with me and giving me lots of chances to practice.

Just lately you’ve started putting 2 word phrases together. We were Skyping with Jason while he was out of town one day and right after I ended the call you said, “Bye Dada.” (You also gave him lots of kisses on the phone that day – so cute!) You also sometimes say, “Oh Yeah!” and it cracks me up. You’ve also said “more pwease” and “read it.” You babble all the time and I love getting little glimpses of what’s going through your head. I showed you some pictures I was working on of paint mock ups of the new house and you indulged me with, “Ooooh!” You never hide your excitement when you see something you love or think is pretty. You’re a jewelry fanatic so it’s no surprise that you’re saying “Jewry” even before you’re saying “Grandma” or “Grandpa.” You’ve been trying, though, and I can tell the subtle difference between “Dada” and “Dinda”… Dinda is your word for both Grandma and Grandpa at this point.

You’re growing slowly and steadily. We weighed and measured you at home the other day. You were 21.5 lbs and 29″ tall. (Sidenote: you’re exactly the same height and weight as your cousin Iris right now, who is 3 months younger than you.) You’re still wearing size 3 shoes though 2/3 of them are too small. Your size 4s, however, are mostly all too long. So we’re back to having just a few pairs of shoes that fit, but that’s fine. Your hair is getting longer and longer but still sitting up on top of your head. Is it going to start falling downward eventually? You have 8 teeth now and you are great about letting us brush them before bed every night. Daddy taught you to hold hands recently and you love to hold his hand while I push you in your stroller back and forth from Grandma and Grandpa’s house to our new house.

You’re great at making choices between two items and I love to give you that power. (More than 2 options is a little overwhelming.) Banana yogurt or peach yogurt? Do you want to wear this shirt or this shirt? Should Mommy buy these striped sheets or the gray sheets? Do you like this soap dispenser or this one? Obviously, I think you’re an excellent shopping buddy. I see many, many mother/daughter Friday night shopping excursions in our future. You are super fun to spend time with, excited about life, easy-going, loving and curious. Thanks for being my daughter.

All pictures in this post are from Ali’s buddy Jaron’s adoption day October 2, 2012; taken by Beth Rose Goin.