Saturday, December 20, 2014

New Goals for a New Year

This morning I asked Anna June what I should post about. She wasn't interested. She didn't want me to write about Pajama Day at school, or that her teacher sent a sub yesterday. She didn't want me to write about anything about her.

She told me to blog about myself. So I will.


I made myself 37 goals for while I'm 37. They are tall, personal orders.
1. Lose enough weight to fit into regular clothes.
2. Finish watching the series Parenthood.
3. Go to the gym at least once per week.
4. Stop dwelling on the loss of UAB football – it is not my personal fault.
5. Keep Family Game Night and Family Movie Night as regularly as church and weekly trips to Rusty’s.
6. Find replacements for my leadership positions with the Benevolent Fund, & Alpha Phi Alumnae
7. Develop a family budget, having a set amount to give to charity.
8. Get new passports so we can travel out of the country if we get around to it.
9. Purchase and learn to ride a bicycle – will need to get a bike rack, too.
10. Read at least one book per month.
11. Make plans and follow through with date night, even if we have to *gasp* hire a babysitter.
12. Give up soda for good.
13. Give meditation and prayer more of a chance.
14. Get allergies under control, with shots or drops, even if it means finding a new ENT.
15. Get a raise or a promotion.
16. Remember that the sooner it gets done, the sooner you can have fun.
17. Be diligent about weekly grocery shopping and daily dishes/laundry.
18. Blog more than last year – but blog less while physically at work.
19. Go to bed on time and get up on time.
20. Do not wait until the last minute to plan activities for AJ’s spring and summer breaks.
21. Less Facebook and more actual face time with real live people.
22. Get to 50 wins on Words with Friends.
23. Attend my 20th high school reunion.
24. Be the best PTA treasurer-elect/treasurer I can be, but identify a replacement.
25. Bring my lunch to work at least once per week. Make Meatless Mondays a reality.
26. Run a 5K in May – the Color Run – with AJ.
27. Keep my lunch breaks to an hour and be on time for work more often.
28. Visit both of my grandparents at least once per month.
29. Stop piling junk on the kitchen table and island. If it is not food, it doesn’t belong there.
30. Use the fitness watch I have and track steps/calories.
31. Use the Xbox or fitness videos we have more often.
32. Write and mail thank you notes promptly.
33. Stop leaving the house with wet hair. "Better to arrive late than to arrive ugly."
34. Take better care of my car.
35. Take better care of our house.
36. Take better care of our family.
37. Take better care of myself.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Candyland!

Last year, Anna June went to her friend Lily's house for a Candyland-themed Christmas party. Looking back, it appears that we were so miserably sick I never blogged about it.

Never fear - the same family threw a similar party this year and we were lucky enough to be invited back.


This Candy Land party maintained all the sweet, amazing candy-themed decorations from last year, but went a step further towards the true meaning of Christmas by having a birthday party for Jesus.


Kids were asked to embrace the elf theme - E.L.F. can also stand for Every Little Follower! Anna June selected a costume from Party City at THE LAST MINUTE. She picked this bodysuit, paired with her white tights and red cowboy boots. After copious discussion, we decided she would not wear anything on her head. Mind you, we went weeks before, and she didn't like anything, but when there was an hour or so until the party, we were in the dressing room trying this on. Fortunately, it fit.

The invitation set the mood by inviting us to C.A.N.D.Y.L.A.N.D. - "Come Along Never Doubt You're Loved And Needed Down Here!"

We were asked to bring an appetizer. AJ and I selected this project from Pinterest. I bought the groceries and did the prep work, while AJ handled the presentation.


Do not ask what possessed me to buy "mini" club crackers. Also, I didn't think I had a tray big enough so we used a disposable drip pan that I had from another project. This was a mistake, as it was flimsy and when AJ tried to get it out of the fridge, it buckled and ruined her hard work. We reassembled it at the party, only to leave the bag of extras at the house, sitting unrefrigerated too long to be useable. The Christmas rush gets me every time. Let's take another look at it before it was ruined:



The food was all great. How can you go wrong with spinach dip and hot apple cider? There were also stations for crafts. AJ had fun making a heart-shaped ornament, a circle from modeling clay, a Christmas card for Lily and a thank-you note to Jesus.



We were also asked for the kids to bring a $1 gift to exchange with a child of the same gender. This was much easier than the costume or the food. AJ picked out a gift she would like to receive - a ring embedded in slime.

Because we had to leave early - we had another party to attend - AJ just exchanged gifts with the other girl who was there, Lily.


More children were arriving right as we had to leave. But AJ had a great time with her best friend and celebrating Christmas.

Party photos credit goes to Sylvia Newell. I took the other 2 at our house, but then my phone battery died. Some kid who shall remain nameless played too many games on it that day.






Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Spelling Bee

On Friday, Anna June competed in the 1st and 2nd Grade School Spelling Bee. Two students from each class were chosen to compete. As with the Math Derby, it was broadcast inside the school on closed circuit TV.

At first, AJ did not want to compete. Among her excuses (besides being too tired) were that math was more her thing than spelling and that she was too shy to perform in front of others. We told her it wasn't optional, so, reluctantly, she practiced her words. The teacher had provided her two lists - one for first grade, and one for second grade, as the kids would be competing together. With everything else going on around here, it was honestly hard to find time to drill with her.

So we practiced. We practiced at the dinner table. We practiced in the bathtub. We practiced at Granddaddy's house. We practiced in the car. I worried we weren't practicing enough - I made her go through every word one more time the night before, even though it was late.

Then, the big day came. Ben and I took off work to be there for the main event. We were rewarded with this glare.



The room was set up exactly like it had been for Math Derby - with the kids in a line and the parents sitting behind them. This kept the kids from seeing parents' nervous faces and kept parents from cheating by mouthing the answers.

There was no practice round - the teacher got right down to business.

Although the kids had trouble remembering to say the word, spell it, and then say it again, they all did pretty well at spelling.

It was heart-wrenching to watch some kids get eliminated. One, for example, was asked to spell "stump" and spelled "stomp." Sometimes words like that are confused, and he took it hard.

In fact, one of the third place kids, after he got eliminated, went over to his mom and all was fine for a second, but then, the child SCREAMED a huge scream. "AAAAAAAAAAH!" It rattled all of us - we were not expecting such an outburst in the quiet library with everyone focused on the outcome of the bee.

Just then, we were down to two finalists - AJ and another little boy, Christian (also a 1st grader). Again, it was like the Math Derby where the winner had to get 2 answers correct in a row. Christian missed a word, and AJ got it right. Then, AJ was asked to spell "judge."

"J-U-D-E" she said.

Christian got it right and was then asked to spell "power," which he did, correctly.

Too bad. We congratulated him and took pictures.


"My legs were shaking so bad I couldn't say the G," AJ told us.

We understood - we were a little shaky ourselves. I realize parents shouldn't get so worked up. But it was a big deal! She was one letter away from victory! And she never missed that word in practice - I checked the ones I had circled. It was on the 2nd grade list!

Therefore, I have decided to note that she is the best FEMALE speller in all of first and second grade.





Monday, December 15, 2014

School Christmas Program

Anna June performed in her school Christmas music program on Thursday night.

The 1st grade performed with the Pre-K and Kindergarten Students. They sang, "Must Be Santa" "Jingle Bells" and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."

Ben and I met up at home to carpool, trying to get there by 5:30 but making it there at more like 5:40. By the time we collected AJ from After School Care and got her changed, the kids were already warming up in the music room. This threw AJ off just a little. She was overwhelmed by her excited classmates standing in neat rows, dressed in Christmas colors instead of their customary uniforms. It was dinner time and show time, so there was no chance to hand her the granola bar we'd brought along.

Because of our tardiness (although we were there in plenty of time to see the program), we had to sit in the back. There was no way I was going to get a decent picture.

Here are a couple that Ben snapped:








AJ is on the back row, as usual. It's one of the bad things about being so tall. Also, it's a good thing if you are shy, like AJ.

Also, the 2nd and 3rd grades are standing on the floor to one side, and the 4th and 5th grades are on the other side of the floor. The Pre-K, K and 1st are on the stage. Obviously, not everyone was there, but I thought it was a fairly good turnout.


I tried to take a picture afterwards with her Nana, but this is what I got:


After that, we let AJ pick where we'd eat dinner. To our chagrin, she picked IHOP. Her mood temporarily improved due to having pancakes for dinner. Ho ho ho.
 If you'd like a flashback to her previous school programs, here are links to:

where I mentioned her Pre-K program and the one from Kindergarten

And just for good measure, here's where we mentioned her Pre-3 and 3 year old daycare programs.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

After a long day, Anna June got some downtime on Saturday night. She chose to make a craft. She did not ask for help or for input, other than assistance in locating a glue stick.

She made a snowman for her teacher.



Materials: Coffee filters, construction paper, glue stick, and markers. One of the markers was permanent.



We've got to work on preparing the work surface before these projects!

Still, I think it turned out very well. A quick search for "coffee filter snowman" turned up several projects, none of which were as cute as this one. I'm proud of my big girl!

Monday, December 8, 2014

#FreeUAB

Anna June is confused at my disappointment that UAB has canceled its football program. Being that I JUST SAID that I don't love football anymore, what difference does it make?

Here are my thoughts:

When my dad was an undergraduate at UAB, a football team was only a dream. By the time I was an undergraduate there, it was a reality. It seems that by the time AJ is in college, it will be only a memory.

Our university was founded as an extension of the University of Alabama. Much ink has been spilled in the past week about the history, the rivalry, the complications, and the politics surrounding the two schools and their shared Board of Trustees.

I won't rehash these stories. I will tell you how it makes me feel.

First, it makes me feel sad. It is very disheartening to know that an institution can make drastic changes without the input of those it affects. Of course, I know this all too well. I have seen folks coming to escort employees from the building when there are layoffs. It's not you - it's the budget.

Second, it makes me feel regret that I did not do more personally. Could I have scheduled my life around football?  I thought the last home game was just going to be for the season, but it was forever.

I feel disappointment that UAB did not get a sympathetic invitation to a bowl game, despite eligibility. Six wins and six losses may not be good enough for a bowl game, though.

The situation also makes me feel angry. Like the students who have been protesting in the streets, I feel anger that the decision was not transparent. But, then again, how could it be?

In some ways, though, it makes me feel proud. I am proud of the students for protesting and speaking out.

I also feel old. I feel like the students need to focus on their finals. There is life after football, especially if you're not one of the players. Get ready for it by graduating.

I feel horror at some of the outcry. Some of the students have reacted with harsh words to our President. A guard has been posted at the Administration Building, causing me to avoid going there. I am scared about emotions getting out of control at graduation. Students' families deserve to see them walk across the stage with no protests or shouts.

I do feel some hope. I feel that this energy and passion for UAB Athletics needs to be channeled. I'd love to see the outpouring of support for our other sports.

I hope that the same fervent feelings are stirred up in the hearts of these students when they see other injustices. I hope that they keep up with the news. I hope that they attend other faculty senate and city council meetings beyond this controversy. I hope that they continue to think about the impact that they have on the community.

I do still feel that the time is right for UAB to get its own Board, whether or not the time has passed for us to have our own football team.

Finally, I feel selfish. When Dad, a former season ticket holder, told me that he only stayed for half a game because the bleachers were hard on his back, I thought a new stadium seat would be a great Christmas present. When I looked at my Christmas shopping list, I cried for the loss of my really great idea. And for what could have been a really great football team.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

'Tis the Season!

Anna June and Ben had some bonding time yesterday while I went to two different ladies-only events in Birmingham.

First of all was the biennial AFWC State Headquarters Open House. Jackie Clark is the President of AFWC this 2-year term. Her President's Project is supporting the Ronald McDonald House. We had a representative from the house come to sell cookbooks as a fundraiser. We were very blessed to have women from all over the state come to Birmingham for this fun event. In addition, the tree was decorated in the Ronald McDonald theme. It's not a great photo, but if you look closely you can see Ronald's trademark striped socks and big shoes at the foot of the tree.

I also finally got to meet my online friend Mandy in real life. She's a fantastic young book blogger and is in library school. 

Then, I drove up the mountain to The Club. It occurred to me that when Aunt Connie and Uncle Tim got married, we also went straight from the AFWC Headquarters where the ceremony was held to The Club, where the reception was held.

This time, though, I wasn't heading to a wedding reception - just a holiday luncheon for the Birmingham-Tuscaloosa Chapter of Alpha Phi Alumnae. I was glad to see all my friends, young and old. It was a great turnout!

Here's a picture I snapped towards the end of a few of my friends. I wanted to get this gorgeous tree in the Vulcan Room. It was worth it for the view and the tree, that's for sure! (And the orange rolls, of course.)

These ladies all do so much for their communities. Merry Christmas to all my sorority and club woman friends!