Savoring

07/24/2013

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I’m thankful that I get to work at home on Tuesdays and Thursday so I can spend 4/7 days a week with this kid. I love her so much it hurts. (Pics from yesterday.) She is too stinkin cute.

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It was really difficult to leave for work this morning while she was calling out to me, “Mommy! Mommy!” and I had to just ignore her. Breaks. My. Heart. I love my job and somedays I’m thankful to be out of the house but other days I cry on my way to the office… it’s one of those days.

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I might be a little extra emotional due to hormones. Also, we’re savoring our time with this little guy because he might be leaving on Friday. There is a hearing scheduled for 1pm on Friday and as far as we can tell there is a very good chance he will be returning to his mom, which would be a good thing for everyone. But it will also be sad for Jason and I. And especially for him and Ali…they’ve become best friends over the past 12 weeks. Nothing is ever for sure until the judge makes his decision but we’re mentally preparing. We’ll wait until tomorrow evening to try to explain anything to the kids. Last time we thought he was leaving I ended up (surprising myself by) being an emotional wreck the night before. Praying for strength! He was outside with me this morning while Lucy was doing her business and came up to me for a spontaneous hug. He’s grown so much since he arrived at our house on May 3rd… I’ll definitely be writing about all of that soon.


Ali’s 2nd Birthday Party

07/23/2013

Every time we ask Ali what her favorite color is she says, “yeyow.” Since it’s consistently been a favorite, I decided to make her second birthday party yellow themed: yellow balloons, yellow frosting on funfetti cupcakes in yellow wrappers, yellow streamers, yellow cups, yellow napkins, yellow foods (pineapple, chips, bananas, pretzels, lemon cookies, lemonade…another some other colors of food, like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, salsa, veggies and dip.) I dressed her, Buzz and myself in yellow but never mentioned to anyone else to wear yellow. I was pleased to see how many people decided to come dressed in yellow. Her party was very sweet and special. She got pretty overwhelmed by gift opening time. Overwhelmed for Ali means quiet. After the second gift was opened she dropped it on the floor and went over to sit on Grandma’s lap for a minute. When she finished opening the second to last gift (the book Everyone Poops) from Grandma, she wanted to sit on the couch and look at it; disregarding the room full of friends waiting to find out what the last package contained. I ended up opening it and was then swarmed with kids anxious to open it up and play with it—the Little People Happy Sounds house. The night before her birthday, we met Buzz’s mom at Chik-Fil-A for a visit. She brought Ali a very thoughtful gift: a gray and yellow outfit, the yellow headband she wore to her party, a Curious George DVD and a new baby doll which she has insisted on sleeping with every night since then. Her crib is getting quite crowded!

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Just in the past couple of weeks she’s been obsessed with animal crackers. I saw this idea on the side of the box.

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Jason went along with all of my ideas and planning for the party and graciously did whatever I asked him to do…take out the trash, blow up 15 balloons, make spearmint sugar paste for the pineapple, etc.

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He’s also really good at tossing Ali into the air.

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She’s a Daddy’s girl for sure.

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Ali showed Grandma the new baby from Buzz’s mom.

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Aunt Ginger and cousin Eliza.

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Uncle Dan, Nana (Jason and Dan’s mom) and the birthday girl

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I tried to get pictures of everyone there but I missed 4 of the kids. 😦 Sorry Jaron, Eli, Everly and Ezekiel. I’m blaming it mostly on the little boys being too busy. Did you notice all of the little girls sitting calmly at the table?

Ali starting to get tired and overwhelmed:

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Some of her birthday loot. Jason and I got her the owl puppet (IKEA), two dresses from H&M and the baby doll clothes. She got a bunch of bubble toys. After naps, we went swimming at Grandma and Grandpa’s and had pizza. Once we got home we broke out the new bubble wands, bubble mower, bubble gun, and banana scented bubbles. I think Ali and Buzz could have played with the bubbles for hours!

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All of her old favorites plus the newish Ms. Broccoli and new baby doll from Buzz’s mom, Elmo from Grandpa, and yellow bird from Jaron. I think we need to get her a big girl bed just to fit all of her lovies.

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After her nap she had two more gifts to open from my siblings’ families.  A frog bracelet and butterfly shirt from Uncle Jeff, Aunt Jess and Iris’ latest trip to Costa Rica.

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And a new Jellycat cordy roy Alligator for our Ali-gator from Uncle Aaron, Aunt Laura and Eli.

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It was really a perfectly wonderful second birthday for our perfectly wonderful little girl. We love you so much, Ali, and were thrilled to celebrate you!


Alianna Mae at Two Years Old

07/22/2013

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Ali, I have been looking forward to this birthday for a long time because I am tired of answering how old you are in months. We can now officially count in years! Your current foster brother, nicknamed Buzz here on my blog, is going to be three in two months. That means I can say we have two two year olds for now and it gets a lot of sympathetic responses like, “bless your heart!” and “you have your hands full!” We sure do. We didn’t really know what we were getting ourselves into when we accepted a placement for a little boy so close to your age. But God knew. As hard as it’s been, you guys have been so good for each other and have become best friends.

You are growing into beautiful, funny, loving, smart and outgoing little girl. You are friendly, polite and affectionate. You love music, dancing, jumping (high!), swimming, riding Dizzy, bubbles, wagon rides, slides, coloring, playing with friends and with your baby dolls and stuffed toys.  You always remind us to pray before meals, holding out your hands toward us and saying “pway.” Sometimes you pray: “Jesus. Thank you. Food. Amen.” Your current favorite book is Everyone Poops, which makes you giggle a lot. You also request Choco often, as in A Mother for Choco, which is  one of my favorites, too. You like to announce to everybody when “I toot!” You say dubbles instead of bubbles, meno instead of nemo, Nina instead of Nana, boop instead of book… I’ll miss those things when you finally get them all right. You’ve been really into counting and saying your ABCs lately, as well as Old McDonald Had a Farm and some other simple songs. We play our friend Phil King‘s album in the van a lot and you always sing along with “Fight On” and “Real Thing.”

This month Daddy and I took a 9 day vacation and left you with Grandma and Grandpa. I had never been away from you for more than one night at a time since you came to our home at 2 months old. I missed you a lot but we were able to FaceTime and send videos and photos back and forth which helped a lot. When we got back, I just wanted to soak you in. I delight in you, Little Girl! You are so fun and precious and sweet. I love to spend time with you. We brought you back a big stuffed broccoli toy (from IKEA) from our trip—your favorite vegetable ever since you were little—and you love it as much as I was hoping. I love that I know you well enough to know how to make you happy, although you’re such a joyful girl, you make it easy. You always answer that your favorite color is yellow so I planned your second birthday party around all things yellow. I’ll share about the party tomorrow.

You have a unique and powerful blessing on your life and Daddy and I love to see how the Lord unfolds your path. You are a very special little girl and for reasons beyond what we understand, God saw it fit to put you in our family. It was not random; it was not a mistake. Mountains were moved on your behalf and here you are with us now. We are so thankful and blessed to have you as a daughter. You bring so much joy and love to our home and our family. I love you, Alianna Mae!

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Your vocabulary is huge now and you’ll repeat just about anything so I’m not even going to try to mak a comprehensive list. Here are some common phrases and things you say:

I want to eat it.

Ali. Cookie. Just one. Just one.

Animal crackers. (100x a day)

Apple juice please. (100x a day)

I did it!/I want to did it.

I want to pee.

I peed! (in the toilet)

I love you Daddy/Mommy/Grandma/Grandpa/etc

Music please. (every time we get in the car)

I love music.

God bless you Lucy/Daddy/Mommy/etc.

Pray. Pray. Pray. Jesus. Amen.

Ali’s popsicle/shoes/flip flops/broccoli/hat/diaper/sunglasses/etc.

Awesome. (Always matter-of-fact; usually after a stunt on Dizzy)

JeeJee’s house! (when we drive past your buddy Jaron’s house)

Swimming/swim/Ali’s swimsuit (you LOVE to swim so you say it a lot)

Sorry Ali. (When someone else hurts you.)

Sorry/Thank you/Please (you are very polite)

Have more ______ please.

Only one/Just one. (how many cookies you’re requesting/how many bites of your cookie Daddy can have)

For my own records: At 2 years old, Ali is 33″ tall and 25 lbs. which puts her in the 25% percentile for both height and weight.


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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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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Random Ali-ness

04/03/2013

At 20.5 months, Ali is making us laugh with her silly antics everyday. She knows what she wants and how to express it. One morning while I was on a long and important phone call, I managed to get her diaper changed, get her dressed and prepare her a breakfast of toast, fruit and yogurt. When I put her in the high chair and offered her each of those 3 things, she said no to each. When I finally got off the call I said, “You don’t want any of these things? What do you want?” And she answered very clearly, “Eggs.” Duh, Mama. She loves eggs. She also loves to try on Jason’s and my glasses. She called them “See!” because I always tell her I need them to see.

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Everyday Ali asks to go “outside!” She loves playing outdoors, regardless of the weather. When it’s nice I try to get her out to the playground so she can burn off some energy. I’m really looking forward to warmer weather so we can spend more time outside everyday. Spring has been noncommittal this year; we’ve had gorgeous days and then chilly, dreary days.

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We were scheduled to start swimming lessons last month but because of some issues with the pool at the community center, they had to cancel our class. I’m bummed. I plan to spend a lot of time with Ali at my parents’ pool this summer working on the basics. She’s fearless and adventurous so we are taking water safety and survival skills very seriously.

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Ali has always been very social but lately phrases have been coming out more clearly. The other morning she enthusiastically said “Hi, Daddy!” to Jason, followed by “You’re cute!” Some other phrases she’s said: I’m ready, I want Daddy/Mama, Where’s Ali/Daddy/Mama/Lucy/Gramma?, There she is, Where are you?, I love you, Let’s see… (when we open the fridge).

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Ali still says “boops” instead of books, even though she can say “duck.” She also has been informing us when she needs a tissue but saying she has “boobers” which is super cute. She said “uh ho” instead of uh oh and “no no!” instead of “oh no!” I know I’ll miss those words when they’re gone. She still can’t really say Grandma and Grandpa; they sound like “Ma’ama” and “Mampa” but it works and I know they love to hear it. Some other random words she says: hi, yes, yeah, hello, no, bye-bye, goodnight, amen, ball, up, help, see, elbow, knee, eye, hair, owl, Ali, baby, tea, toffee (coffee), picko (pickle), cheese, toast, yogurt, saysu (raisin), Sucy/Ucy (Lucy), sauce, shoes, shocks (socks), stinky, poopoo, potty, bass/baff (bath), aldi (all done), tan to (thank you), peesh (please), dis (this), dintz/ditz (drink… took us a while to recognize this one!), taco, owives (olives), cookie, cacka (cracker), cheese, milk, baba (bottle), cup, diapu (diaper), outside, side (slide), swing, chalk, dubbus (bubbles), duck, doddy (doggy…it sounds a lot like “daddy” which has led to a few embarrassing situations for whatever man is standing near a dog), mama/mommy, daddy, I-is (Iris), Eyza (Eliza), Jeejee (Jaron), Nana (banana), Ninny (Nana), Papa, E-ey (Eli), Awi/Ali, Jesus, Doda (Dora), Gabba (Yo Gabba Gabba), Elmo, fowwa (flower), stickoos (stickers), cuwu (color), nap, musis/deedeedeebababa (music/turn on the music please)… and I’m sure there are more I’m not remembering.  Ali will repeat the whole alphabet letter by letter but hasn’t mastered g, r, n, l yet. She’s very good at communicating in general

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Ali tries to imitate everything we do which is awesome for teaching her things like putting away toys, wiping up spills, putting on pants/socks/shoes and trying new foods. It’s also super cute when she tries to help us with yard work, walking Lucy and in this case playing the guitar like Daddy.

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Along with all of the fun and cuteness, the challenges also increase, but I think that’s just the way it goes with the toddler years. She keeps us on our toes and constantly learning and trying new parenting techniques. Jason and I often comment to each other that she gets more beautiful everyday. We are blessed and thankful to get to be her parents. I’m savoring this time when she has us all to herself as an only child.


This Age: 17 Months

01/09/2013

The other day I was thinking about some things that are challenging about Ali’s age (17 months) and I was grateful that she will eventually mature and grow out of these.

Things I Will NOT Miss About this Age:

meal time messes and food throwing on the floor 

changing nasty, stinky diapers

testing every boundary we set

tangled car seat/crib hair

But it didn’t take long for me to start thinking about all of the sweet and fun things about this age, too. Starting with when I was folding laundry the other day.

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Things I Will Miss About this Age:

tiny socks

neon, sparkly, colorful clothes

kisses with a “mwaw”

hugs with an “awe”

kisses without puckered lips

wonder and excitement about the simplest things

chubby little hands and feet

celebration when she says a word for the first time 

how she tries to imitate everything we do

pointing to what she wants and saying “yes” 

calling her sippy cup “this” 

the way she say “cacka” for cracker, “mo” for more, and “bow” for ball

how thrilled she is with her reflection (see below)

These were taken sequentially on self-portrait mode on my phone…

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The second list could easily go on and on. It’s nice to have a little perspective shift sometimes. 🙂 Even with the challenges, each age is more fun than the last.


A Year Ago

01/03/2013

At the end of December 2011, just a few days before Christmas, Jason, Ali and I celebrated the new property we had just purchased.

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Earlier that day, we were at the juvenile courthouse accepting Ali’s birth mom’s surrender of her parental rights to us. We took the photo below afterward while we waited for some paperwork. It’s a dark and crappy picture and it’s a bittersweet reality, too. We were thankful she was willing to do it because it made our process to adopt Ali smoother, but it was also very painful for her. She’s a tough woman but she couldn’t hide her tears as the judge asked her if she was absolutely sure this is what she wanted to do. She was positive it was the best thing for Ali. But it was like watching a chunk of her heart get torn out before our eyes. I wanted to give her a big hug afterward, to thank her again, but she ran out quickly when her part was over and I haven’t seen her since then.

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She had my phone number and sent a text a few days after Christmas last year but that was the last I’ve heard from her. Apparently she lost her phone at some point. I’m thankful that we’ve been able to maintain some communication with some of Ali’s other biological family members but it pains me that we’ve lost contact with her first mom. I’m thankful for the time we did get to spend with her and for the pictures we have.

It’s hard to believe it’s been a whole year since all of that happened. Perhaps because we were living in transition for 10 months between homes, it feels like it was just a short time ago. When I look back at that chubby little baby with slick, straight hair and barely able to sit up on her own, it feels like it was so long ago! She’s changed tremendously since then. I wish I could let her first mom see how much she’s grown and how she’s running all around and talking up a storm. I wish she could see her outgoing personality and her toughness (which I’m sure Ali inherited from her). I wish I could hug her and thank her again for giving us her blessing to raise this beautiful little girl that she birthed.


Alianna at 16 Months

12/10/2012

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“What’s your name?”

“Awbi!” you answer with a giggle.

This age is so much fun. You’re walking with confidence now, sometimes even running. The sound of your feet pattering around is beautiful music. Your personality is continuing to blossom and every day we’re more amazed at your radiance. You are so friendly and now not only smiling, waving and saying hi, but also blowing kisses to kind old ladies at Target and patting your head and saying “hat” to the subcontractor at our house whose hat you’d like to compliment. Walking means independence and exploration. You love to run all around our new house, checking out each room, slipping and sliding along the sawdusty hardwoods, rolling around in the dirt when you fall down. You have a wild and adventurous spirit. You are passionate and easy-going at the same time. You are an adrenaline junky – you love to be tossed up in the air, to belly flop off the step between the kitchen and den at Grandma and Grandpa’s house, or to roll off of the sofa into anyone’s arms. I think you’re going to be my roller coaster buddy, if I can keep up with you, that is. You’re also super tough, much more than your mama. Your play stove has tipped over on you two times and neither time evoked any tears from you. The other day you were climbing the front steps as Daddy was doing some landscaping and you slipped and busted your lip. He said it bled quite a bit but you didn’t cry very long then either.

One funny thing you do: You’ve said “Mama” before. Enough times that I know you’re capable but you refuse to call me that. Daddy is “Daddy” and everyone else is “Dada” (except your favorite girl cousins “Ice” and “Eyza”). I can get you to say “Mmmmmmaaaaaa” (since it’s a bit like “Mooo” which you say) but if I try to get your to say “Maa – Maa” you pause and then say, “Daddy!” It’s adorable and also annoying. My name is Mama, girl. Mama. And speaking of sounds, you’re totally into animal sounds lately. Some of these you’ve mastered and some you’ll only do occasionally:

Dog: woof woof
Cat: eow
Turkey: gobba gobba
Rooster: doo
Lamb/Sheep: ba
Cow: Mmmmm (sometimes Moo)
Lion: rrrr
Monkey/Gorilla: ooh ooh
Chick: beep beep
Horse: nay

At your recent doctor’s appointment you weighed 23 lbs and were 30″ tall. Aunt Jessica looked it up online and says you’re in the 42% for weight and 20% for height. You were a big, deliciously chunky baby but you’re turning out to be a pretty petite little girl. It’s too soon to say what size of an adult you’ll be. You’re healthy and happy and that’s all that really matters. You continue to bring so much joy to us and everyone else around you. I’m looking forward to all the adventures we’ll have in our new home. 2013 is sure to be a banner year. I love you, Ali!

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Alianna at 14 Months

09/20/2012

I’m not specifically doing monthly updates anymore (or maybe I just skipped 13 months…I haven’t decided for sure) but I do want to continue documenting her growth and progress, for my own records if nothing else. So here we go…

Ali-girl, you are 14 months old today! I don’t think you know that tomorrow is a very special day – it’s the 1 year anniversary of when you joined our family! But I’ll talk more about that next week. I remember reading somewhere that 14 months old is the average age that kids learn to walk. You, my dear, are right on time. You started taking steps for the first time on September 4th. I was so proud! You are very brave and a little bit reckless. You take a few steps and then dive into one of us with your eyes closed and your arms out. Except, you don’t always check to make sure I’m paying attention first and sometimes the diving ends poorly for both of us, especially if you have a book in your hand that you want me to read to you. The good news is, you’re gaining confidence and taking more and more steps at a time. Very soon you’ll be walking and running all over the place.

To satisfy your adventurous toddler spirit, I took you to the park the other day. It’s was our first time at this particular playground that’s designed for 2-5 year olds so the slides and steps and everything are shorter. You’re still a long ways away from 2, of course, but you seemed to really enjoy this slide. I’d set you at the top and say, “Ready, 1-2-3!” and you’d launch on 3, just like we’ve been being doing on the side of the pool over the summer.

Speaking of following direction, yeah…we’re working on that. You understand everything we say and you often listen. I have to keep reminding myself that you’re just 14 months old and not always mature enough to obey. When you do, we celebrate! Honestly, you’ve been surprising me with how much you do listen and obey like when I ask you to hand me your sippy cup (instead of dropping it off the high chair tray) or take the chewed up paper out of your mouth and you actually do it! It’s really a test of patience and parenting skills for the adults and you’re giving us all plenty to chances to do re-dos when we mess up.

You’re still eating well and sleeping well. I feel like a broken record saying that every time. You’ll eat just about anything. Your favorites are still peaches and blueberries but we recently rediscovered kiwis. You’ll still eat green beans and broccoli. You prefer beef to chicken because it’s easier to chew (I suspect). Scrambled eggs, grilled cheese sandwiches and PB&Js have been working into the lunch time options lately. Oh, and you still LOVE cheese sticks and yogurt. You had fun making a big mess out of this bowl of speghetti at dinner the other day. I think more ended up in your bib and on your lap than in your mouth. Soon enough you’ll be using utensils!

You’ve had a ton of new words lately. My favorite is that you’ve been saying Mama much more consistently now. Finally! We’re still working on “more please” instead of pointing and whining but sometimes you’ll point at what you want and say “Mama?” Sweetest thing ever. You’ve also started saying baby and you love to point out babies everywhere you see them. You love to look at pictures of your baby cousins and friends and most often say “Ice!” for your cousin Iris. You called your cousin Eliza Ice the other day but when I corrected you, you said Eye-za. You say/whisper stars when we’re putting you to bed at night (we have a turtle night light that projects stars) and you’ve said shoe a few times. I’m very impressed with the s’s! The other day you crawled over to your high chair, pulled up to a stand, looked at Jason and said, “Hungee.” I love that! Makes me glad we were too busy to bother with baby sign language. You’ve always been good at communicating your needs. You say baba for bottle when you want a drink. You have 3 6-oz bottles of milk a day before naps and bedtime, and are doing pretty well with a sippy cup for water at meal times. You say woowoo for “woof woof” when you see a dog or any animal resembling a dog. “Meow” comes out as ee or ow, and sometimes you also say moomoo for a cow. I’m sure I’m forgetting some words and of course there are instances where you repeat words once or twice and then ever again.

Clearly, we think you are the most talented, intelligent, precious girl ever to exist on the planet. You make life so much more fun and interesting. I’m thankful that God brought you to us one year ago. You are a beautiful girl, inside and out, Alianna.