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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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Ali’s Favorite Toys at 2.75 Years Old

04/15/2014

A friend with a child a bit younger than mine was wondering if I could share about some of her favorite toys, particularly things that will hold her interest for longer than 5 minutes inside when the weather isn’t conducive to shooing the little ones outside for an adventure. (Click any of the blue text for links to purchase if you’re interested.)

Play-Doh
It’s amazing how long the squishy, colorful dough can keep Ali’s attention. She sometimes mixes stickers and toothpicks into the dough, and definitely jumbles the colors. It’s cheap and she’s having fun so I try not to look. Our biggest challenge with play-doh is reminding her to put it back into the containers so it doesn’t dry up.

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Glow-in-the-Dark Bracelets
At a playgroup one time I overheard the other moms talking about doing glow-in-the-dark baths for their toddlers. What?! I had to find out. It’s simple: give your kids a couple of glow bracelets and dim the lights. Suddenly, bath time is fascinating. This is often the reward at the end of a good day… sometimes it’s just to give mommy a break. I’ve never tested it but I think she would play in the bath with glow sticks until the water got cold. Sometimes I can find 15-packs in the dollar spot at Target. Amazon sells 100 for $9.

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Watercolors
Ali got some paint-with-water books for Christmas, but honestly her favorite thing is to just make abstract paintings on plain white paper. I’ve always been a lover of abstract art so I find each of her creations to be masterpieces worth hanging on my office walls. This pack of Crayola Washable Watercolors is my favorite. Last summer (when she was turning 2) we only painted outside. Now that she’s approaching 3, she paints at the kitchen table strapped into her buckle booster. I have the paper on a placemat and I use a heavy mug for the water. Clean up is pretty easy with a damp cloth. She uses some of my old higher quality paintbrushes.

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Potato Heads
I’m sure you are all familiar with this classic toy. I don’t have much to say except that it gets a lot of play.

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Play Kitchen / Tea Set
Jason and I both drink coffee and tea (respectively) several times throughout the day so Ali is used to seeing us with a mug of hot liquid. I think it’s for that reason that her tea set gets so much play time. Sometimes I let her have real tea in her cup, which she loves. Usually it’s imaginary tea: sparkle tea for me and chocolate tea for her. This was my first Green Toys purchase. They’re all made from recycled food-grade plastics and have a nice tactile texture. I found a play kitchen for Ali off of craigslist.

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Play Food
We have crocheted food handmade by Ali’s Nana, cloth breakfast food and vegetable sets from IKEA, and some second-hand Melissa & Doug wooden play food. Ali loves to practice her chef skills slicing apart the M&D Cutting Food set. I’d definitely recommend this to a friend.

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Ball
I think this is a given at any age but it’s always good to have a good bouncy ball around. While it’s not usually an independent activity, Ali and I have spent many rainy or cold days playing soccer or catch. On her first intensive day of potty training when we spent hours in the kitchen, soccer was a life-saver.

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Again, this doesn’t need much explanation. It got a ton of play time from age 18 months-present 2.75 years. We just moved it outside a few months ago. It used to be in our den/playroom. I stalked craigslist until I found a good deal on one that hadn’t been sun-bleached outside.

Play Tent/Fort
There are lots of options for this one. Drape a blanket between two pieces of furniture. Turn a big cardboard box on it’s side. (Pictured below: Ali and her BFF Jaron in the box fort in his bedroom.) Buy a play tent. Or do like I did and make a playhouse out of a sheet that fits snuggly over a card table. I only get this out when I’m desperate and it always works to keep Ali busy for a while.

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OUTSIDE TOYS

Diving Toys
This is also not an independent activity because it requires supervision but this is an addition to my list from Buzz last summer. We spent many, many hours at my parents’ swimming pool and these Cars diving toys were a big hit with both kids. Buzz’s mom bought him a set last summer and I plan to get Ali some for this summer. I’m praying she’s tall enough to stand on her toes in the shallow end like Buzz was last summer…

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Water
A wading pool. Water guns. A watering can. A bucket and a hose. Whatever you’ve got – toddlers love experimenting with it. Dumping, splashing, drinking, blowing bubbles, etc.

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Bubbles
I make my own bubble solution. Ali is starting to get the hang of blowing bubbles with a bubble wand at this age. (And Buzz was doing it last summer at this age.) Last year, she relied a lot on the battery operated bubble gun. She also has a bubble mower that gets a lot of playtime.

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Two and a half year old Photographer

03/03/2014

My iphone requires a passcode or my fingerprint to unlock, however the camera can be accessed in lock mode. Alianna has figured this out and loves to swipe my phone and start snapping pictures. Here are some of her captures in the past few months.

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My 3-year-old Niece’s Dress Up Party

02/27/2014

We celebrated my niece Eliza’s third birthday with dress up clothes. What a perfect set up for fun photos!

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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.


Undo

08/28/2013

Have you ever had moments in real life where you had the immediate reaction of wanting to hit command+shift+z (or ctrl+alt+delete for you PC users). It’s a smack in the face when you remember that in real life you can’t just hit undo. Remember how I wrote a post about Ali transition to her big girl bed? And I even said “I feel confident calling it a great success.” I am now eating those words. I must tell the whole story: I was wrong. She was not ready. UNDO! She did wonderfully for 2 weeks. The night after her first day of potty training is when it all started falling apart. That’s also the night my hands and feet caught on fire with HFM. And Jason was in the Netherlands.

My main motivation for transitioning her to a bed was so that when she became potty trained she could get out of bed to use the bathroom as needed. I think it was a mistake for me to explain to her how to do that…even encouraging her to practice going from her bed to the bathroom. It was like a flip switched… You mean I can get out of my bed? Whenever I want?! I’ll spare you the details but from the next week after that, every night but one and ever nap time involved screaming, crying, tantrums and fits related to not wanting to go to bed, stay in bed or get back in bed. Last Friday night I joyfully put her crib side back on. Enough of that $%&@! I need to sleep! Also, she’s been doing fine staying dry during nap time and she’s not staying dry through the night anyway. So, in retrospect, I think it was worth a try but I have very few reservations about putting her back in a crib for a few weeks, months or even another year as long as she’s staying safe in there. I think she’s feeling much more secure about it too. Bed times and nap times have been peaceful the past several days. I’m planning to continue some of the language we’d been using, calling it a bed instead of a crib and reminding her at night to stay in her bed and wait in bed until one of us comes to get her in the morning (even though she doesn’t have a choice.)

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Yes, I think I bit off more than I could chew and pushed her into too many new things all at once. I’m thankful that the potty training is going quite well.


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.