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Alianna at 4 years old

08/18/2015

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Our Alianna is four years old and looking more grown up everyday. (She picked that “Mommy’s ‘lil Girl” shirt to wear on her birthday, as well as the rest of her outfit.) She’s smart, passionate, creative and sassy. She’s brave, athletic and out-going. She’s full of faith and quick to pray for healing for anyone with a hurt. She adores her baby brother and is eager to show him off to new people while we’re out. She has an excellent memory for music, names, places and promises. If she had her way she’s eat ice cream and candy for every meal. She loves her friends, soccer, beading, crafts, books and swimming. Swimming! She’s swimming like a little fish this summer: underwater, retrieving toys off the bottom of the deep end of the pool, floating on her back and diving/flipping in head-first off the side. We’re unofficially doing preschool homeschool this year, which basically just means a little more intentionality with reading, writing/drawing, following instructions, attitude/respect, exploring and learning about the world. Ali is an amazing, thoughtful loving girl. She also keeps us on our toes and continually puts our parenting skills (human skills? grace, patience, wisdom, consistency, etc.) to the test.

Happy birthday, sweet girl! We are so glad you were born and that you’re ours!

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When I asked to take her picture for her birthday she insisted that I take some of her with her baby brother.

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The big gift she really wanted was a rolling suitcase of her own. She can’t wait to go on a trip with Daddy!

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A mermaid-themed pool party for our little fish!

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Related Posts:

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

 

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Alianna at 3.5 years old

01/20/2015

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Our little Alianna is 3.5 years old. She has one foot in the intense and challenging world of 3-year-olds and one foot in the charming and sweet world of 4-year-olds. Some days we get all sweet, some days we get all sour, but most days are a mix of both. She’s really blossoming into a little girl—no longer a toddler. Ali is thoughtful and sensitive. She is very apologetic and clearly remorseful now when she makes mistakes, like breaking something or hurting someone by accident. She has the best helper-heart, and jumps to help whenever she sees a need. She got her first pair of work gloves (it took me 6 months to find her size!) and loves to help Daddy with yard work or Mommy with chicken chores.

Ali is just as social as ever and makes friends easily wherever we go. She is bold and confident, never hesitant to walk up to someone she’s never met and ask a question. She started soccer this month, her first organized sport. She enthusiastically listens to instructions and stays close to the coaches. Playing on a team and eight kids all fighting for one ball (no one is taking turns or sharing!) are new concepts but she’s getting the hang of it.

Alianna loves working on craft projects with Mommy: painting, cutting and gluing, coloring with crayons and markers, tracing letters and numbers. She also loves music and not only has a great memory for lyrics, she always wants to know who is singing and the name of the song. She loves to hear whatever projects Daddy is working on in the studio and always wants us to dance with her. With an artist and a musician as parents—and a home filled with both—I guess she was destined to love creative arts.

She’s super excited about her new role as big sister. She often asks me when I get home from work, “How is the baby today?” She pats, hugs and kisses my belly often. She’s planning on helping with feeding the baby and changing diapers—”But only the pee ones!” I pray that her baby brother has her confidence, easy-going nature and contagious joy. I also pray that they grow up as the best of friends. She’s a blessing and a treasure, my precious Ali-girl. Happy Half-Birthday sweetheart!

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For my own records: 37.5″ tall and 30.5 lbs. at 3.5 years old. Our petite little lady.

Related Posts:

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

 


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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March 11

03/11/2014

One evening Jason and I had a tearful conversation over dinner that ended with him saying, “Make the call. Find out what we need to do to become foster parents.” I had been feeling a strong pull in the direction of foster care and potentially adoption for a while but I was praying that if God wanted us to go down that twisted, scary road that He would bring Jason on board quickly. I wanted to be completely unified in our decision and God answered my prayer—bringing Jason to equal passion to parent kids who are not ours by birth, kids who are living their worst nightmares, kids who have troubling pasts and bad behaviors.

Within hours of making that decision together, I started feeling completely inadequate for the role of foster motherhood. I tossed and turned all night, wrestling with my fears and insecurities. The next morning, on March 11, I read this passage in Jesus Calling and it changed my life forever:

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Walk by faith, not by sight.
As you take steps of faith, depending on Me,
I will show you how much I can do for you.
If you live your life too safely,
you will never know the thrill of seeing Me work through you.
When I gave you My spirit,
I empowered you to live beyond your natural ability and strength.
Thats why it is wrong to measure your energy level
against the challenges ahead of you.
The issue is not your strength but Mine, which is limitless.
By walking close to Me, you can accomplish My purposes in My strength.

Here we are on March 11, 2014. In the past three years since I read that passage I’ve been mama to four kids, each with a painful past and a broken heart. Three of those babies have gone on to live with their biological families. We had the great privilege of adopting one of them, our precious Alianna Mae. Today we’re going to court, pursuing a temporary custody placement of her biological baby sister who is six and a half months old. I’ve nicknamed her Trust here to maintain her confidentiality and to remind myself that I need only trust God with this situation. He is worthy of my trust. He moved a mountain for Alianna to be put into our custody 2.5 years ago and if He wants to put Trust into our custody today, He can do it. These last 6 months have been emotionally taxing as we moved from concern about her safety to concern about her long-term placement and connections with her biological family. She’s been in a safe and loving place (as far as we know) since she was two weeks old but we feel strongly that if there is any way to preserve her connection to her biological siblings—especially since she’s already separated from her biological parents—it should be pursued. And that is why we’ve been fighting for her since before she was born. Not because we deserve her or because she deserves us—we have no right to her. We love her because she is our daughter’s sister. We care deeply about her biological mother because she’s our daughter’s biological mother. If she’s lost, someday we’re going to have to answer our daughter when she asks, “Where is my little sister? Why didn’t you fight for her the way you fought for me?”

So we fight. We fight for what we believe is best for her. This afternoon we anticipate the magistrate will make the decision: will she stay where she is now or move into our home with her sister Alianna.


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.


Christmas Cookie Helper

12/23/2013

For the past several Christmases, from when we were anticipating becoming parents through when Alianna was too young to help, I’ve been dreaming of the day I would have a little helper to make Christmas cookies with me. This year was my dream come true. Ali and I had a great time and she really was a good helper. She rolled peanut butter dough balls in sugar, helped me unwrap Hershey kisses and stuck the kisses into the hot cookies for peanut butter blossoms. She was also the thumbprinter for our raspberry thumbprint cookies.

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Second Familiversary – Two Years Together

09/24/2013

It feels almost like Ali has three birthdays and they’re all within two months of each other. In July she turned two, in August we celebrated one year since her adoption finalization and on Saturday we celebrated our “familiversary” or family day – the second anniversary of the day she joined our family. At that time it was through foster care and we had no idea that she would eventually be part of our family forever. She has been an amazing blessing and has brought me so much joy as a mother. God’s plans are so much better than anything I could have come up with on my own. She stuck her tongue out a lot as a baby (and consequently drooled a lot). She was dealt a pretty bad hand as a newborn but I guess she was showing what she thought about that…

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Thankfully, Jason got home on Saturday so we could celebrate our family day all together. We asked Ali what she wanted to do to and she gave us the same answer she almost always gives: Chuy’s! I’m not sure why she loves Chuy’s so much. She pretty much just eats the chips and beans. Maybe it the rainbow sherbet push up the server always gives her for dessert.

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On the way home from dinner our picture perfect family day celebration started to crumble. We’ve been trying to teach Ali to stop taking her shoes off every time we get in the car (a habit learned after our two recent road trips.) She wasn’t listening so I climbed into the backseat so I could address her correctly and attempt to reverse the behavior. She wasn’t having it. In fact, the more anger and frustrated I got, the more she just laughed and laughed. I was losing my temper and the only consequence I could come up with for her defiance was to not allow her to have pie for dessert when we got home but to go straight to bath and bed. I had made the peanut butter pie  especially to celebrate our familiversary and Jason’s birthday, and I had specifically planned to have her blow out candles on it since she’s been recently obsessed with the birthday song and blowing out “crandows.” I gave up on the shoe battle and got back in my seat. When we got home, I stuck to my guns and took her straight to her bath. She was still as happy as could be. It was me who was having a problem. I looked at my beautiful, joyful daughter and released that I was allowing our family’s enemy to steal the finalé away from our family day. I quickly changed my mind about my consequence and asked her to forgive me for losing my temper. She’s always quick to forgive.

I dressed her in her “daddy’s little girl” pjs—my favorite. Ali almost didn’t grow up with a daddy, twice. But now she has a great daddy, a daddy who fought for her and continues to fight for her everyday. Her birth mom told us she hoped that Ali would be a daddy’s girl and she is—they have a very special bond. When Jason’s not on the road his schedule is very flexible. From the time Ali came home she was his sidekick, hanging out with him in his studio during recording and practice sessions, going with him to the bank, lunch, coffee shop. Despite him being a touring musician, he gets to spend a lot more time with her than most parents who work away from home M-F/9-5. It’s truly a blessing! I love seeing their father-daughter relationship growing and changing as she gets older.

Clean from her bath and cozy in her pjs, we celebrated our familiversary, singing, “Happy family to me!” and Ali blew out 2 candles for our 2 years together. Then we sang “Happy birthday to Daddy” and he blew out candles for his 31st birthday which was last Monday while he was away. I’m so thankful for my little family and excited to discover what lies ahead for us in the next year.

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