First Chores

08/19/2013

Ali is at the age where she loves to do whatever I’m doing and she loves to help. “Ali help Mama!” I’m taking full advantage by encouraging her to do more jobs around the house. After her bath I have her take her clothes to her hamper and put her shoes away in her closet. If the playroom or her bedroom need cleaned up we usually do it together before nap or before bath time.  When I’m doing laundry she still sets me back more than helps BUT I’m finally finding ways she can help, handing me clothes out of the dryer to fold and sort, or pushing the wet clothes into the dryer for me. Other than that, she likes to unfold everything I fold and mix it all up.

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Lately she’s learning to do a job that Buzz had mastered right before he left – feeding Lucy in the morning. (Side note: Our dog has a crazy complicated feeder with five compartments that rotate on a timer. The spaced out meal times through out the day help her blood sugar stay up and she has less seizures and vomit — actually she rarely ever has either anymore.) Ali still needs help lifting the bag and scooping the food but she’s getting the hang of it. Here’s a recent picture of Lucy, the poor old cocker spaniel who doesn’t get photographed much anymore.

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What are some of the first chores you gave your kids? Any other suggestions for appropriate jobs for a 2 year old?


Alianna and her “Big Girl Bed”

08/15/2013

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My last two posts on boundaries and solutions for bedtime wanderers were the groundwork for transitioning Ali to her “big girl bed.” With my hindsight glasses on from my experience with Buzz and with him back at home with his mom, I was ready to make the leap with my two-year-old daughter. She wasn’t climbing out of her crib, which is when most people make the change, but I was ready. I wanted to transition her before potty training and I wanted to make both transitions during a down-time as far as foster care goes (AKA no other kids in the house). I opted to do this even though Jason has been touring in Europe and I was on my own to deal with wandering, boundary breeching and whatever tantrums might ensue. It’s been 12 days so I feel confident calling it a great success and sharing what I did.

The morning after Buzz left, on Saturday August 3rd, Ali and I had breakfast and then I got out the tools and instructions for her crib. I showed her the illustration in the manual of the crib with sides and the crib with the side off like a day bed, ever after referred to as a big girl bed. She was game. It took me 15 minutes max. to take the crib side off and replace it with the side rail. Mostly she watched a show in the other room and came back just in time to “help” me tighten the last bolts. I moved it into place, made her bed and arranged her stuffed animals. She loved being able to climb right onto it all by herself. She immediately pretended to go to sleep. She posed for pictures. She was thrilled. Yay!

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We had some errands to run and on the way home Ali fell asleep in the van just a few minutes before we got home. I told my mom it was a gift from God! I plopped her right into the big girl bed and she stayed sleeping. I grabbed some pillows and blankets from another room to make a cushy landing on the floor in case she rolled out. I kept waiting and listening for a thud and crying but it never happened. I even snuck in to take some pictures. Two hours later I heard her calling me, “Mommy?” She was standing in the hallway looking confused.

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I was bracing for bedtime the first night so we started a little early. I explained how the OK to Wake clock works. She seemed interested but I knew without seeing it in action it would be hard for her to understand. For the first time, I was able to sit in her bed with her to read books and say prayers before bedtime. When I kissed her goodnight and left the room she immediately started crying and jumped up. (Side note: she had been loudly protesting bedtime for several weeks so this wasn’t a surprise.) She opened the door and came out into the hallway. I took her straight back to her bed and gave her simple, stern instructions. “It’s time for sleeping now. Lie down and go to sleep.”

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Three minutes later she came out into the hallway saying, “Mommy?” I took her back to her bed again. More sternly this time: “Stay in your bedroom. It’s time for sleeping. No crying. I’ll see you in the morning.” When I left this time I put the bells on her door handle so I’d hear if she opened the door again. She cried for less than a minute and then fell asleep.

One hour later I heard her crying and rushed in concerned that she had rolled out of bed. Nope, she was just sitting up. I said, “It’s time for sleeping.” She laid down and I covered her with a blanket and turned her music on. She started to cry again as I was heading for the door. “No crying,” I said. “It’s time for sleeping. I’ll see you in the morning.” She quickly fell asleep and didn’t make another peep until morning. She got up and came looking for me about 10 minutes before the Ok to Wake light was set to come on. She had never seen it work so I waited in her room with her until it changed so she could see the difference. She’s been very excited about “light! change!” ever since.

(Side note: I know I’m a mean mama for telling her to stop crying. But you know what? It works.)

The next day God blessed me with another easy transition from car seat to big girl bed for nap time. Bedtime went even smoother the next night. As the days have gone on we’ve had much less crying and fussing at bedtime. I love being able to sit in her bed and snuggle with her while I read books and say goodnight. The mornings have still been a little sketchy. Some days she’s been waking up pretty early and not able to wait until the light changes. She’s so sweet and cute when she cracks her door open and sticks her face out, saying “Mommy…how are you?” Nap times have been going very well, too. The light does not change when it’s OK to get up from nap time so I’ve explained that she needs to stay in her room until I come get her. She can call me or she can look at books quietly. I’m kind of amazed that it’s working, honestly! One day I went in and she had turned her Acoustic Lullabies CD on and she was looking at books. Just. Like. I. Suggested.

We’ve only had one little problem. Last Saturday morning shortly after I woke up I could hear her up shuffling around in her room. It was 7-something so I was just happy she was keeping herself busy while I scanned my Instagram feed. A few minutes later I heard paper ripping followed by “oh no!” and then more paper ripping. When I got to her room she was holding part of a page of a library book in her hand. Oops!

But overall, I think the transition has been going awesome! I’m sure there are a million variables with everyone as each family, kid, parenting strategy, bedtime routine, etc. is different. This is what we did and I’m thrilled. It was easy peasy. I took a few pictures of her room yesterday since I’ve moved things around a little bit. Now I’m pondering when to transition her to a twin bed. There is no rush unless we get placed with a baby and need the crib.

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Ali’s First Day of School

08/08/2013

It’s not technically “school” I guess, but she has to carry a backpack and I have to pack her lunch so that qualifies it as school in my book. Ali started attending a preschool program two days a week. Monday was her first day. She was pretty excited about the new lunchbox and all the yummy treats I packed inside for her lunch and snack time.

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My mom met us at the preschool to walk in with us because she’ll be picking her up a lot of the time. Ali was walking toward the door carrying her lunchbox. As I stopped to get out my camera, she turned around, waved and said, “Bye Mama.” Then she kept walking toward the door. What a little stinker! I was so nervous about leaving her all day with someone besides family for the first time, but she’s social and confident and I knew she would love it. And she did!


90-Day To Do List

08/06/2013

Buzz returned home to his mom on a 90-day trial basis. I really believe that he’ll be able to stay with her and everything will work out but just in case (and because it’s good excuse for a break), we’re not planning on taking any new placements for 3 months. That means lots of time to get stuff done: rest, regroup, reorganize, rearrange, restock, etc.

Here are my goals for the next 3 months:

• Take Ali to visit our friends in Cincinnati

• Visit our previous hometown Erie, PA and introduce Ali to her only great grandparent – Jason’s grandma who she was named after (and other friends and family, too!)

• Clean out and organize the garage. More. Again.

• Clean, rearrange the kids room

• Organize and store extra kids clothing in the closet for easier access

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• Reorganize the playroom (pack up or give away toys that Ali has outgrown)

• Stock the freezer with meals again

• Celebrate the 1 year anniversary of Ali’s adoption day

• Transition Ali into a big girl bed (AKA take the side off of her crib)

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Note: On both Saturday and Sunday I was blessed by a little girl falling asleep in her car seat and transferring easily into her bed. Night time has had a few bumps but overall she’s doing really, really well. I’ll write more about the transition from crib to bed if anyone wants to hear about it.

• Potty train Ali

• Clean out the van

• Clean and store spare car seats

• Sell the Mercedes and get another van (we love our van so much that we want a second one!)

• Take Ali to Dollywood while Jason’s playing there

• provide respite for another foster family

• decide what I want to do with the rest of my life

 

3 trips, lots of cleaning and organizing, lots of time spent with our little girl


At the Nashville Zoo

08/05/2013

One morning last month had the chance to take my little punkin to the Nashville Zoo (my first time, her third time) and it was so fun! She loves animals and has a general zest for life so it was exciting for me to see her reactions to everything. In general I just love hanging out with her; she’s so cool! My sister-in-law got us in as guests with my niece Eliza and a friend. We also met up with Ali’s friend JeeJee (Jaron) for a little bit.

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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.