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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

 


Alianna Mae at Three Years Old

07/28/2014

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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.

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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!

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A Blessing From Above

06/18/2014

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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.

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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.”

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Capture Hope

04/11/2014

The story of Alianna joining our family, A Home for Ali. is featured on Capture Hope, along with some beautiful photos from 535 Photo. I love Capture Hope and it’s mission “From Darkness into Light” … sharing stories of hope and testimonies of God’s goodness. We were honored to be interviewed and photographed by Rebekah several weeks ago. She took hours of Jason and me rambling on and on about foster care, adoption and the amazing kids we’ve had the privilege of parenting; and she turned it into a creative journal format. I love Ali’s testimony and I’m delighted to share it any time I have a chance.

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Where is her Real Mommy?

03/06/2014

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Where is her real mommy?

I knew questions like this would come but it still caught me off guard. The three year old girl didn’t ask me directly; it was a question for her mom who was telling me later—and perhaps also asking. We’re loose acquaintances so she doesn’t know our story. That mom had suggested to her daughter that she ask Alianna. I told her Ali wouldn’t know how to answer that question. I left it at that. I could have said so much more and I’ve been mulling over what I should have or could have said for hours now.

The question bothers me partly because of the word real. Anyone who knows about adoption etiquette knows that’s a buzz word. I’m her real mom. Her biological mom is her real mom. Neither of us is fake or pretend. We’ve both very real and we’ve both very mom. Alianna is my real daughter and we’re a real family. It also bothers me a bit that this mother and daughter discussed the possible reasons for Ali’s adoption… “Maybe her real mom was sick.” The answer to this question is too complicated for a three year old and too personal for a loose acquaintance.

I’m pretty gracious with adoption questions and I don’t expect everyone to have the right words to use. However, the reason this poorly-worded, intrusive question made me sick to my stomach was the thought of a three year old peer asking it to my two year old daughter. Ali is confident and out-going but she would have no idea how to answer this question in 2.5 year old terms. I hate to think that it would give her a moment of panic… Is my mom not real? Is she not my real mom? Is she lost?

The three year old girl must be observing that often families match skin and hair colors. (Or has someone pointed it out to her?) We were in a fairly diverse setting but apparently transracial families and adoptive families are not common in her circles. I asked Ali later if she’s noticed that we don’t look alike—that she has brown skin and black curly hair and mommy has lighter skin—I stopped myself there because the look she was giving me said, No kidding. Why would or should we look alike?  I might as well have been asking if she’s noticed the sky is blue and the grass is green. Then I realized that adoptive and transracial families are very common in our lives. It’s probably never crossed her might that we “should” look alike. There is nothing unusual about her family from her perspective at this point in her life.

Since I’ve been over-analyzing this conversation, I’ve come up with a response for this three year old girl in preschool terms. Here it goes:

I am Ali’s real mommy. She had a different mommy before me. She grew in her first mommy’s tummy. Her birth mommy loved Ali very much but she wasn’t able to take care of her so some helpers found Ali new parents—us. We adopted Ali into our family and we’ve been her parents ever since.

If she wants to know why her birth mom couldn’t take care of her: She was dealing with some really big grown-up problems and she needed to learn how to take better care of herself.

If she wants to know who the helpers were: They’re social workers who work for agencies—Child Protective Services and the Department of Childrens Services—that watch out for kids to make sure that they’re safe and their needs are met.

If she wants to know what adoption is: It’s when a judge decrees that we’re a real, official family—real parents and a real child—forever and ever.

If she wants to know where her birth mom is now: I don’t know for sure. She still lives in Nashville but we don’t see her very often.

(Picture at the top is Alianna with her birth mommy—her other real mommy. Blurred for her privacy.)