Thursday, July 21, 2016

Laina Turns Six!

It seems that most of my posts these days are birthday posts--I guess when you have five a year to document, and you don't post very often, that's what you get. Ha.


Our Laina-Bug turned six last week! Six! Six is a fun age, and a good one. She had such a fun birthday because her friend Avivah (who was adopted from Rwanda at the same time as Laina) was here with her family, spending the week with us. So much fun.

(Laina's last day as a Five)

Laina and Aviva were inseparable the whole week (and the fun continues: they're face-timing right now as I type). I am so very thankful for their friendship. What a gift to grow up with someone whose story is so similar to yours. Laina actually spent Avivah's second birthday with her, in Ethiopia, which is pretty amazing.

Birthday Banner Time! A Brannon Family Tradition:

We had Laina's birthday party on Wednesday (the day before her birthday) with the McLennans and the Whatleys. She requested sugar cookie bars with purple frosting and sprinkles.

(Lania got Bumblebee, the DC Superhero Girl from Nona and loved it. Also, a dress from Nona and a skirt and headband from the Whatleys, and a baby ergo and hair beads from the McLennans. And I have no idea why she and Avivah attended the party as Snow White and Tinkerbell. :) )

The other big news of Birthday the Sixth is that Laina got an American Girl doll. I had bought it for her on sale a year ago (a year! I've been waiting and waiting to give it to her!) but we decided she wasn't quite ready for it yet. For Christmas, she got a My Generation doll from Target and we told her it was a test to see how well she could care for it. She did very well, and that, along with the fact that she's taking an American Girl class at Timothy this year, meant that it was time!

She was just a little excited.

(yes, she is kissing her doll through the box!)

And so was I. :)

On Thursday (her actual birthday), we loaded up all the kids and drove to the American Girl Doll store where Laina very dreamily and happily spent her birthday money from Grammy and Papa. She named her doll Amanda and got its ears pierced. The boys spent the morning at the Lego store, so they were very happy too.

(I had been waiting for years to take her to this store! I loved my American Girl Doll--Kirsten, if you're wondering, and yes, I still have her--and couldn't wait to share this fun with my girl! Also, note Laina's party hat. The girl has style.)

We love you, Laina Kate. You are growing up to be such a lovely girl, inside and out. You have a quick and beautiful smile, you love to help people, and you are a joy to be around. We are so thankful for you! Happy birthday!

(first day as a Six!)

First birthday (cupcakes and pink lemonade at the park):

Second birthday (and one of my favorite pictures of her of all time! M&M party at home):

Third Birthday (Butterfly party at home):

Fourth Birthday (Mermaid party at Grammy and Papa's beach):

Fifth Birthday (Craft party at our house):

 Sixth Birthday (party at home and at the American Girl Doll store):

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Ivy Grows: 15 months

Two days ago, Ivy Hope turned fifteen months old. She's in that delightful phase of babyhood where she's growing and learning and changing so much every day, and I want to remember what she's like right now. So, since we write to taste life twice (Anais Nin), I'm writing now in order to taste these days again later. 

Ivy's three biggest siblings are school-age, so she spends some of her time waiting for them. Tuesdays they go to classes and Ivy, Mason and I wait and eat snacks. And play peek-a-boo.


She has so many words and is learning more every day. Her latest two are kite and chair. She also says the names of her family (Dada, Mama, Eeen, Kiki, Naina, May-may--and can point us all out in pictures), book, pa-pa (pacifier), cup, peas (always said PEAS!! with delight), baby, go, doggy (and the corresponding woof), book, pretty (said mostly about her shoes, her own painted toenails, and jewelry), uh-oh (first word), cracker, cookie, no, stinky (always when she needs a diaper change), clean, okay, hot, warm, thank you (which is purely tonal and sounds nothing like the words), and my personal favorite, yes. Which she says as HEY!

She signs all done, I don't know, more, hot, and cold. More is the only one not made up. She also accurately nods and shakes her head.

She has four teeth solidly in, and is working on a few more. She still doesn't walk more than a step now and then, making her my latest to walk. Which is perfectly fine by me. She crawls in a silly way sometimes, high-steppin' with her hands. Mason used to to that, too. It's hilarious. 

She likes hanging out with her mama. She wants to be held probably 80% of the time, and the rest of the time, she plays with her toys. She cries heartbreakingly if I put her in the church nursery, so I don't. She'll have her whole life to spend going places without me. This time is so short.

She generally wakes up once or twice a night, but lately it's been a lot more often as she works those teeth in. She nurses several times a day and at night when she wakes up. She loves it, and so do I.

(showing off her green shoes)

Ivy seems to be very mechanically-minded, which is pretty cool. She thinks several steps ahead to reach her goal. She knows how to open doors, even round-handled ones. She pulls down on the doorknob with one hand while pushing on the door with the other hand. She scoots chairs out of the way when they are blocking the cabinets she wants to get into (those darn chairs!). She can open the screen door and crawl out onto the deck. She knows what to do with everything: washcloths, toothbrushes, pencils, books, etc. 

(Ivy loves ceiling fans!)

(she's very proud of herself for standing, especially because her four biggest fans--her siblings--cheer enthusiastically every time she does.)

(sometimes she gets around by walking on her knees. It's so cute and unique.)

Ivy loves this perch (below). She kneels on the trampoline and watches the neighbors' dogs on their back deck. She points and yells "Goggy! Woof!"

Her other favorite place is the big trampoline outside. Her delight is boundless when she's crawling and bouncing on it.

(And swings. Always the swings.)

Ivy is the most affectionate baby we have ever had. She gives hugs, kisses, and snuggles freely. She loves holding my hands (she cries in the car unless I've got my hand back there for her to hold). She gives out huge smiles and grins, and her face lights up when she sees someone she loves. Ivy has a sweet, loving, happy personality--a little shy and very silly. She melts our hearts a thousand times a day.

(Ivy's first Easter Egg hunt. She was not too sure about it until her siblings showed her what to do and then crouched down beside her, cheering her on.)

(Baby at the beach. When she saw this picture just now, she said "kite!" which is what she was looking at when I took the picture. She's a genius, I tell you.)

(signing "I don't know.")


She's funny, delightful, smart, and adorable. She's happy and loving and always up for reading a book. She likes playing with her babies and her toy kitchen. And her monster truck. She loves that too. She likes to snack on pretzels and cheddar bunnies. She loves drinking out of her cup. She hates the carseat. One of her happiest places is in the bathtub, and she still fits in her bunny towel when it's time to get out. Sometimes she will "make mama's hair" like her big sister does, and she is always very serious about it. Her voice is high and sweet. She looks like Cory. Her belly laugh is wonderful. She's our sweet baby girl.