Monday, July 21, 2014

On a Roll

Anna June got to go to her friend Maddie's birthday party at Skates 280 on Saturday. She had a great time. We counted 34 laps that she went around the rink. She really was getting the hang of it this time. I am pretty sure it was because a) she had done it before b) I didn't try to help this time. Instead, I just watched quietly from the sidelines. She is really impressive in her determination. One of the party favors was a gift certificate to come back for free admission, and AJ is very excited about using it before it expires next month.

Friday, July 18, 2014

On Impulse

Anna June hasn't seen much of me this week. On Monday night, I had a PTA board meeting. On Tuesday night, we had a reception celebrating the 30th anniversary of UAB's Benevolent Fund. On Wednesday night, I had an Alpha Phi alumnae meeting at our house, and AJ went to Nana and Granddaddy's for a play date with Wesley. I realize I volunteer too much, but it is just my luck that it all happens on the same week.

I saw a card we got in the mail advertising The Music Man, Jr. at the Red Mountain Theater Company. Last year, we got tickets from Ben's work to see a production of Beauty and the Beast, Jr. She had a blast - we took our pal Mallory and it was so much fun. The "Jr." line of musicals is adapted to be family-friendly and the actors are ages 7-14. I thought it may be fun to spend some time with AJ and be entertained by kids (around) her age.

While AJ was still in the tub, I asked her if she'd like to see the play. She asked the name and I told her. She said she'd like to see the movie first.

I don't remember ever telling her that there was a movie called The Music Man. Maybe she's just way more aware of pop culture than I think.

I told her we'd have to watch it some time. She said something along the lines of, "You always say later and that means that we're not going to do it."

I knew she was right. I do tell her "later" a lot. Mostly because we don't get very much time together and the time we do have is already pretty much planned: getting ready in the morning, dropping her off at school or camp, picking her up, eating dinner, taking a bath, going to bed.

I told her to skip washing her chlorine-filled hair and get out of the tub. We were going to watch the movie.

Because we subscribe to both Netflix and Amazon Prime, we searched to see if it was available. It was available only by rental, through Amazon. What the heck? I thought. If I could pay less than $5 to watch it in HD on my TV and not have to go anywhere, spend time with my child watching a movie I really like but haven't seen in years, and also begin to fix a situation where I always say "later" or "tomorrow", I was in.

As soon as I started the film, Ben asked was I sure I wanted to start a 2.5 hour movie well after 7:00? Too bad - we had already started.

So for the next few hours, AJ and I were in River City, Iowa, watching the town transform under the spell of Professor Harold Hill.

Towards the end of the movie, Marian says something will happen tomorrow - I don't even remember what (meeting him at the footbridge, maybe?), and Robert Preston says to Shirley Jones, "My dear little librarian, pile up enough tomorrows and you'll end up with a lot of empty yesterdays. I don't know about you, but I'd like to make today worth remembering."

(Photo source here)
So even though it was just an old movie, I'd like to think that AJ and I did that - we seized the day, because "Tempis fugit!" like the mayor's wife kept saying. We may be sleepy now, but we had fun.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Today's Anxiety

Anna June is desperately worried about who her teacher will be for first grade. Our previous principal allowed us to request specific teachers that would match with our child's style. Last year, we weighed the options and discussed it with her pre-k teacher, but we got who we requested.

This year, there's a new principal and, rather than requesting teachers, she wants to know about the kid. This is probably a more well-rounded approach.

This week, since AJ made The Request and there was a lot of discussion about her and what she's like, it reminded me of this letter. AJ said that I should have put that she is "silly" as to get matched up with the teacher she wants. I didn't. She is stressing about this, especially when we drive close to the school or talk about FIRST GRADE.

This is what I emailed to the principal, a month or so ago (with names shortened to initials):

Dear Mrs. N,

Welcome to Avondale! Thank you for your announcement on the AES website. I would like to give you some input about our child to help you select her teacher for first grade.

Anna June is an extremely bright child. I am sure you will hear that from every parent, but based on feedback from her teachers in Pre-K (Mrs. D) and Kindergarten (Mrs. B), she is at the head of the class. While they don't have achievement tests for such young children, her STRIDE scores were at the top of her group. She is a very fluent reader, and enjoys being asked to read to the class. She was the winner of Avondale's Kindergarten Math Derby. Because she is so advanced, I would like to pair her with a teacher who will provide a lot of academic stimulation, possibly over and above the regular class work. I realize the GATE program does not begin until later grades, but I expect she will be there when the time comes.

AJ is very mature for her age. It was not uncommon for Mrs. B to leave her in charge of "taking names" when she had to step out of the room or to have her assist with various errands. She got a sticker on her daily report indicating excellent behavior every single day of this school year.

We are aware that our child is not perfect. She does not handle changes very well. While her behavior may have been technically good, her emotional responses were not necessarily the best. She had a couple of "meltdowns" that were so bad I had to come pick her up from school. One was because she had a terrible case of stage fright when rehearsing for the talent show, causing her to drop out, and the other was that there was a substitute teacher. Although we never figured out exactly why, AJ developed a kind of phobia of subs. I even spoke to the counselor about it. It got better as time went on, but for a while, every time Mrs. B had to be out (even for the monthly WIN meeting), AJ was in tears. I think AJ has a tender heart, and I would like to see her with a teacher who will be understanding of that - not to baby her, but to keep things upbeat and consistent when possible.

Anna June is an only child. At school, she seems to get along very well with other kids and has many friends. At home, she is mostly happy. She loves to work independently on art projects, and enjoys reading and playing games. My husband and I like Avondale's motto "Expect the best!" and try to parent that way.

In case it figures in to the equation at all, AJ attends Avondale's After School Care program, and Mrs. M worked with that group last year. AJ adores Mrs. M! However, a full day of the same teacher may be too much. I just wanted to mention that in case it influences your decision either way.

Thank you so much for your consideration! We are looking forward to working with you for a great year at Avondale in First Grade!
Laura Gallitz

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


Anna June had a great time while Granny was in town. Because we had access to her creativity, and because AJ was not stuck in camp all week, we encouraged AJ to participate in Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-fil-A. Those who came dressed as cows got free food. We had never dressed up before, but this year, it seemed like a good idea.

AJ thought so, too.

Granny worked hard on AJ's costume. AJ already had the cow ears/horns headband from a random trip to Bargain Hunt. Maybe we were thinking ahead - this does come around every year.

AJ was by far the best dressed cow at the Eastwood location. More people came dressed up than you would think. Folks love free. I even have a friend who took her kids there for lunch AND dinner.

Granny made sure of every detail: a swishy tail from pipe cleaners, a nose from a cup, hooves from long black socks, and even pink felt udders. I guess asking a Wisconsin native to create a cow costume was a good idea.

As soon as AJ got out of the car, she was starting to get freaked out by all the attention. She was in tears before we ordered our food. She claimed to be hot, even though her costume was a T-shirt and shorts. I was at work and met them there, so I give Ben all the credit for bringing along a change of clothes for her, in case our shy girl imploded with all the attention. I think she was tired from spending the week playing with Granny, and she may have had a smidge of an elevated temperature. I blame the six-year-molar that is trying to finally erupt.

At least she waited to change until after we got credit for the free food. It was all I could ask.

Sounds kind of smart to me!

CFA cow photo courtesy Chick-fil-A at Eastwood Village's Facebook page.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Request

In the car this morning, Anna June and I were having an interesting conversation.

It started with her asking, "How will I know when my teacher's birthday is?"

I told her that was a good question. Perhaps I could ask that all the teachers' birthdays be added to the school calendar. Or maybe I could ask the room parent (if I am not that person) to get that info to the parents of our class. Or maybe, if her teacher is on Facebook, I could just look it up, as many people share their birthdays. I may be able to see it, because I am friends with AJ's two former teachers (and teacher's assistant) that may be mutual friends.

That brought AJ's mind to Facebook, the main waster of time in my life, but also the source of much joy, entertainment, and enlightenment. There, I learn about and participate in my community, as well as get to see adorable baby and pet photos.

AJ asked that I stop posting about her on Facebook.


Granted, she doesn't hear about the job opportunities I repost, the interesting articles I find, or the hilarious stuff I tell 400 of my closest friends regularly. But she does hear, "I saw your cow costume on Facebook!" or "I heard about your medal on Facebook."

So I can see why she gets embarrassed.

Even though nine times out of ten (or even more than that) I am only posting because she is an awesome kid. Smart, funny, beautiful, mature, interesting, inquisitive, etc.

I mean, I didn't even post the best thing she's said recently, which is, "I hope the Brewers go to the Super Bowl."

Because that would have been embarrassing.

In fact, someone posted a picture of a kid holding up a sign over his face, that said, "Don't post my messes - only successes." I have been trying to take this to heart - I even showed it to Ben, who rightly avoids Facebook like the plague that it is.

But sometimes some of the things Anna June does or says are just so darn cute! She's only six - she's not a "little" girl any longer. She can give directions, take lessons, read stories, make sandwiches, and clean a toilet. I am not going to get very many more adorable moments. She will be a tween before I know it. I feel like I have to take all the adorable moments and announce them to the world because soon enough there will be boys and serious causes and eye rolling at my old-fogey ways.

The eye-rolling may or may not have already begun.

I have failed majorly at keeping AJ on the blog and myself on Facebook. I am more than just AJ's press agent, and more than just her mother. I was around for 30 years before she got here, and many of my FB friends knew me then. It's time I go back to posting stuff about me that's worth sharing, and not just her stuff.

I will try to rectify this, and to honor her wishes.

I've asked everyone to hold me to it. If they are actually my friends, they will.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

It's Nice to Have You

Anna June is waiting for Granny to arrive today! We can't wait to have her here.

I took this picture of AJ eating an Italian Ice at the Woodlawn street fair on June 21. It was a quick treat on the way (a long way) to the library. She got "rainbow" flavor. It was so good on a very hot day.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Bike Debacle

Anna June was making progress learning how to ride her bike. We liked the Balance Buddy for a little bit. But we still had problems. The main problem - Ben can't run behind her to hold her up as she learns to ride faster, but she can't balance on her own.

So we decided to go back to training wheels.

There's evidently a bias in the children's bike world. Kids on 20" bikes are supposed to be able to ride already. When we bought the bike, we didn't think it would be so hard.

So when I was at Target, I found these, allegedly for 16"-20" bikes.

The trouble is that the axle on AJ's bike was not long enough to support this particular type of training wheel. Ben tried and tried, but just could not make them go on.

Installing them was quite another issue. When he was attaching them, a washer flew off into the grass. We searched and searched and searched but could not find it. Later, when we had given up and AJ was not even home, we found it. We tried again to attach the stupid things, but they wouldn't work.

I had heard of a bike co-op nearby that may be able to help. They fix bikes of all types, and keep parts around, so we went over one night after dinner to see if they would happen to have some 20" training wheels that would work. They did not. In appreciation for their work and in the spirit of community that a co-op brings, and knowing that we would have no further use for them, I just donated the training wheels.

We went home and Ben was searching on Amazon, only to find that they actually sell axle extenders that would have made the dang wheels work. But it was too late.

So, now, I have called three places. The bike shop close to us does not have any in stock (just sold the last ones)!  The bike shop not too far has them. But then there's this other non-profit that gives bikes to kids. They have some on an old bike out back that they can transfer to AJ's bike. Here's keeping our fingers crossed that they can do some magic and the kid can learn how to ride!

Then we'll have to work on getting a bike rack to put it on. Transporting it inside the Scion is difficult at best. We've already managed to lose the tassels off one handlebar doing this. Also, there are spiders in our shed, despite our best efforts to keep them at bay. The last time we took the bike anywhere, AJ started screaming like she was on fire. We discovered that she saw a spider on her bike. Luckily, Ben had been through this before and did not have a wreck.

One crisis at a time, please.