Sunday, November 29, 2015

Fun at Home

Anna June has spent a lot of time at home in the past few days. She had the whole week off for Thanksgiving and was sick the 2 days before the break. We've had some time to go places and do things, but there's been lots of time around the house.

One source we turned to for things to do was our Box of Fun. Recently, she pulled out "Go on a treasure hunt." I made her wait for several days, and then, last Saturday (11/21), I woke her up and told her that the treasure hunt was ready for her. 

These are the clues I gave her:

1. Go to the place where sweet treats stay. (The next clue was in her candy box.)
2. Washing a load of towels will help you get to the bottom of things. (The next clue was in the laundry sorter under the towels.)
3. If someone asks you a lot of hard questions, it is called getting grilled. (The next clue was in the grill outside.)
4. A map of the world will help you shed light on your next clue. (The next clue was taped inside the lampshade in the den, which looks like world maps.)
5. Doing this will help you make a clean getaway. (The next clue was under the bubble bath.)
6. Helen of Troy was the most beautiful woman in mythology. (The next clue was under her doll, Helen.)
7. Sometimes Mom likes to read in the bathroom. (The next clue was tucked in to one of the many magazines in our bathroom.)
8. I don't gnome what the next clue should be. (The next clue was on the front porch in the gnome home.)
9. Old family pictures don't show anything about treasure hunts. (The next clue was in the photo album that Granny made.)
10. You're my little love muffin. (The treasure was in the muffin tin in the drawer under the stove.)

The treasure was a $5 bill, and this note:

We had just seen the movie National Treasure the night before. I thought it was fitting!

Today, she asked to pull from the box again, and "Let your child give you a makeover using your makeup - this will be hilarious!" So this was our activity this afternoon.

First, I washed off the makeup I had on already. 

Then, she carefully applied my makeup, asking me questions about the order and techniques to use. Eventually, this is how I ended up.

I thought it was not bad! It was fun and funny. Ben's response was, "Kill it!"

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Five Things I've Been Meaning to Post

Well, Anna June is enjoying her week off of school for Thanksgiving break. I'm getting a bit of a break at work, as people are out, so I'm working and catching up on all sorts of things.


Before we get to Thanksgiving, there's one more photo from Halloween I wanted to post:

(Photo courtesy Liz Tucker)

Maybe next year we can coordinate to see ALL my nephews on Halloween, but instead, this picture did just fine. My word, they are adorable.

The Dog Ate My Awards

At the end of first grade, Anna June's school had an awards day assembly for the grade. Each teacher presented students with special awards. AJ got a certificate for having "A Honor Roll" all year. She got a certificate for having won 2nd Place in the Spelling Bee for K-2. The teacher included this sweet poem:

I am glad I was your teacher
I have come to love you so.
I cannot believe the end is here.
I hate to see you go.
You are such a star
And I love you so dearly.
You light up my life
I mean that sincerely.
Remember all the fun we had
In all the things we did.
But, most of all remember...
You are a very special kid
And in my heart you will always be

Most importantly, her teacher created a "M&Ms Award" for being a "MARVELOUS and MAGNIFICENT" student, complete with a fun-size bag of M&Ms.

I am not really sure what we were doing at the end of May and why the plastic pouch containing all of these things ended up in the floor of my bedroom, but there they were for a few days, and Radar noticed it. I caught him under the bed, having eaten the corner of the pouch and all the documents, and of course, the entire fun-size bag of M&Ms.

He was unharmed by both the chocolate and the paper, both non-preferred food items for dogs. AJ received replacement candy -  I am sure of it.

Cow Zones

Another First Grade story:

On one particular day, I decided that I needed to wash a load of white clothes. As I was busy and did not trust my memory, I asked AJ to make me a note saying to remember to wash the whites.

I don't know why she didn't find a post-it as I had envisioned, but instead, returned with a large piece of paper, on it written:

"Was the White's crasily with cow zone's Check out our wedsite at"

What in the heck?

"Wash the White's" I can understand, as that's what I asked her to do. I can live with a mistake in possessive vs. plural for a first grader (but I am not letting any adults off the hook).

"Crasily"  = Crazily. I get it.

"With Cow Zones" made me shake my head. I had no idea what a cow zone was. A farm? I had to ask. She told me it was food.

Evidently, she thought we'd been saying "cow zones" this whole time instead of "calzones." My word.

Incidentally, I think that Cow Zones is a great name for a fast food Italian place, emphasizing fresh cheese made with real milk. It would be a great business opportunity for someone! Think of it - you could even franchise!

Also incidentally, AJ knows how to make her lower-case "b" not be a "d" consistently now.

Further, I think that a wedding website called The Wed Site would be genius - someone should get on that, too, if the Italian place doesn't work out.

I loved this note and left it on the laundry closet door for months.


On a recent trip to the library, our librarian gave AJ her picture from the end-of-summer-reading carnival. Evidently, we did not stick around for it to be printed. What a nice surprise!

PS - That's not a scratch on AJ's arm. It is a dog hair that clung to the photo while scanning.


Finally, I want to say thank you. Pretend that the lovely stationery above is my thoughtful handwritten note to you, even though it was a heartfelt note from Annie several months ago, enclosed with a gift for which I have probably not thanked her. Which brings me to my point: I forget to say thank you. I am so incredibly blessed by a wonderful family and exceptional group of friends. I'm blessed with a fantastic work group and hardworking volunteer colleagues. I could not ask for more. I hope that you enjoy your Thanksgiving and that you feel thankful for all that you have, tangible and intangible.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Works of Art Wednesday: Turkey 2015

Anna June is thankful, and like most Americans, she has been asked at school to write about what she is thankful for. I realize this scan isn't the clearest, so I will tell you what she chose to write on these feathers:

My pets
My family
My parents

That kid loves asparagus. I'm not even sure I knew what asparagus was when I was a kid.

A big hats off to Rusty for this. Before he started cooking it regularly for our extended family, I didn't really have a lot of experience with the vegetable at all. It maybe showed up in can form (yuck!) in some kind of potluck salads, but it is safe to say that it wasn't served routinely in our childhood home. Mostly, that's because back then, our grocery stores didn't carry fresh produce when it was not in season. We get it from Mexico and Peru now, evidently. I learned from reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle that asparagus is available for a brief period in the early spring in the Southeast. That's it.  We recently looked it up and found that it is acceptable to eat as a finger food, so AJ and Ben are quite pleased with themselves that they've been doing it right all along, even though I still use knife and fork.

Anyway, Rusty taught me how to make it, so it makes an appearance almost weekly, especially when I ask AJ for input on Meatless Mondays.

Here's how I make it:
Step 1: Wash it.
Step 2: Snap it. (Take the flat end, bend it until it snaps off)
Step 3: Drizzle it with olive oil,
Step 4: Sprinkle it with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.
Step 5: Bake it. I usually do it at about 400 degrees for about 8-10 minutes, but if I'm making something else (like frozen rolls) I just cook it along with whatever else I am making, watching it to make sure it gets tender but doesn't burn.

Easy, mostly healthy, and a green veggie my kid will eat? No wonder we make it all the time! I'm thankful for apsaragus, too.

Even if it makes our pee smell funny.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Weekend Review: No-Vember, Week 2

Anna June got her school picture proofs in. This year, they're going to publish a yearbook for her school, which is something they haven't done in many years. I flipped all the way out when I found out we'd miss school picture day, but the principal and AJ's teacher quickly assured me there would be a make-up day. Even though AJ almost missed the make-up session, too, the principal made sure that AJ got her picture made - she knew how much I did NOT want it to say "no photo available" in AJ's first yearbook!

Anna June had a pretty good weekend, all things considered. Here's the rundown.

On Friday, AJ's teacher got in touch with us to let us know AJ had a tummy ache. There were some emails back and forth, but eventually, AJ wanted us to come get her from school. This was harder than it sounds, because it just so happens that Ben's car was at the dealership (stuck charging door) and I had dropped it off. In other words, I had taken a cab from the dealership downtown to my office, and at the moment, had no car. Fortunately, I was having lunch downtown with friends and they were nice enough to pick me up at work and take me to the dealership afterwards. (Thanks Chris and Peggy!) Also fortunately, they had replaced the part and the car was ready.

Then I called my supervisor from the car, asking her to change my electronic time sheet (already entered and approved) and postpone my long-planned office kitchen cleanup party. We'll reschedule another day. AJ needed me.

We eventually got home and, relaxed and relieved, AJ started feeling better almost immediately. She did not have a fever or vomit. I still don't know the exact cause of the stomach ache, why she didn't want to go to the nurse's office, why a stomach ache warrants being sent home from school, or if she was trying to get out of something, but one way or the other, she was fine once she changed clothes, rested, hydrated, and watched a lot of TV. By dinner she felt, "great" and "normal" so we carried on with our regularly scheduled life.We watched The Master of Disguise, which was probably the worst movie we've ever seen, although AJ enjoyed it as a fan of Dana Carvey, and also because she is seven.

With that behind us, on Saturday we did some things around the house. For some reason, earning "points" makes AJ more likely to help, so I gave her tons of points (keeping a tally on her chalkboard) for helping me with laundry, dishes, straightening up, pet care duties, trash removal, and leaf raking. The middle of the day was more restful, throwing in some laundry, lunch and a Target run. After that, we went to Bargain Hunt to get AJ a more appropriate bike helmet and then to Crestwood Park to ride her bike. Riding fast enough to get up the hill all at once stresses AJ out. But as she gets more practice, hopefully she'll be conquering the hill better and become more confident. Ideally, one would learn to ride a bike on a long straight stretch of pavement, but there are none of those here, and AJ has had to learn not only riding but also steering into curves, which is proving difficult.

After a bath, AJ was very ready for the next part of her day: Nana's house! She was very excited to go over and spend the night because Wesley was also going to be there! She was evidently a huge help and had a lot of fun. In the meantime, we went out to an early dinner, went shopping for towels but came home and ordered them online for cheaper, watched coverage of the Paris attacks, Parenthood, and more TV with lots of swear words, knowing that Radar will not likely repeat them.

Sunday brought some more rest, as well as grocery shopping, more laundry including ironing school uniforms, a Skype session, and buying some new dress shoes for AJ. She has lots of pairs she hasn't quite grown into yet, but could not keep her main pair of black flats on her feet no matter what I did. So now she has new shoes. We had dinner at Rusty's and AJ got to bed almost exactly on time, after "Scrub Down Sunday," which is where I actually bathe her. She's perfectly capable of bathing herself, but doesn't always do a thorough job - she's the queen of the 60 second shower. Once per week, I take the time to bathe her myself, including washing and conditioning her hair, and I usually clean out her ears, trim her nails if necessary, and even help her floss and sometimes brush her teeth. So for an hour or so a week, I feel like she's really clean.

So far, the idea of NO-vember has been going well. We haven't been doing too many unnecessary things. We've been saying "No" a lot. In fact, at Ross, when she asked to buy a toy after buying shoes, I said "no," asking her to instead choose what she thinks she'd like to play with, as Christmas is coming soon and everyone will be asking me what she wants as a gift! It was the same "no" I gave her at Target when she wanted to buy books (although, PS, I didn't want to discourage her from buying a book)! Although there are still a lot of things I end up having to do (PTA, work, etc.) there are other things I am bowing out of, with the principle that we need this month to recharge after a crazy October and an upcoming madhouse December.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Taking Off

Anna June was out of school for Veterans Day yesterday, and, since the banks were closed, Ben had the day off, too.

They did a lot of things: took Radar to the vet for a checkup, took the car to the dealership because the charging door didn't work, went out to lunch, played board games, and AJ built with Legos and worked in a workbook - she didn't want to go a day without doing math problems, evidently. She woke up at 5:45 AM and wanted to get right to work, to do something "productive."

Of course, on school days, we cannot get her out of bed.

But the main, big, amazing thing that happened yesterday is that Ben took AJ to ride her bike at the park, and after moving her training wheels up a slot only to discover they were kind of slowing her down, he took them off.

Look at her go!
Look Ma, No Training Wheels! from SRG on Vimeo.

This is the link for the video:

When we met up for dinner afterwards, I was very surprised and happy to know that such an accomplishment had been made. Of course, she still has a long way to go before she's proficient, but she's already doing great. She has a good attitude about it and hopefully, now that the weather is not stifling, we may be able to get more time with the bike in - we can transport it in Ben's car right now, but we'll likely have to get a rack when she's ready to move up a size.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Anna June brings home gems every single day, and I feel like I should just post all of her school work and all of her artwork all the time, because if you stop and think about it, it is all so precious.

But she would be embarrassed and I would not have any time to do anything else, so instead, I have piles of things all over the house (and sometimes, car, office, etc.) that I want to write about and/or show off.

I am dealing with my issues a little at a time, I promise.

I borrowed the office scanner for a minute and got a few things to post.

The first thing did not turn out, so I'm not even showing it. It was a snowflake, which AJ cut out of plain white paper. I didn't attach it to a darker background, so it blended in to the copier background. Like, you know, actual snow. But I'm telling you about it because AJ, given some paper and scissors, will make a snowflake in the middle of the summer. She loves them. I love her creations, because, like real snowflakes, they are all unique.

While it's too late for last year and too early for next year, I found this holiday greeting:

In this interesting drawing, "Tornado vs. Peanut," um, a tornado goes against a peanut. There's "Team Slow A Little Faster" and "Team Fast Much Faster." I honestly have no idea what to make of it. But you can tell the peanut is a peanut and the tornado is a tornado. Obviously.

Finally, there is the book that she made in After School Care, "Six Steps to Smarter Studying."

As she was allegedly copying down these tips, it looks like we have a lot of work to do before the spelling bee.

Oh, and speaking of spelling bees, AJ won her classroom spelling bee last Thursday. They used their weekly spelling words, and, when those ran out, went back several weeks to use older ones. AJ prevailed and she got two prizes. The first one was that she did not have to take the spelling test, as she had demonstrated knowledge of those 15 words already. The second one she was really excited about: she got to call out the words for the spelling test the other kids were taking. She even got to make up the example sentences on the spot, like when the word was "feel" and she said, "I do not feel well." Although I believe she did feel well. It was literally the thought of calling the test that got her out of bed on Friday morning. Maybe she will become a teacher one day like her Aunt Kym or Aunt Liz!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Watch Me

Anna June and her friends at school have been immersed in the latest dance craze - the "Whip/Nae Nae." Evidently, this young man with only one name, Silento, has become this generation's pop star that has an entire song of calling out different dance moves that you're supposed to do. Unfortunately, in my opinion, the song just isn't very good. Give me "Land of 1,000 Dances" any day.

Here is Silento and his song "Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)"

Seriously, watch the video. You'll get it. And then you'll go back and listen to Wilson Pickett again, because good music doesn't usually begin with the singer repeating his own name many times at the beginning of the song.

This school year, the school district at their summer "Institute" for teachers right before school started had everyone dancing along as sort of a bonding ritual. Then, on the first day of school, AJ's principal did it at an assembly. She told the parents they could stay as long as they danced. At the time, I had not heard of this at all, and I tried to capture it on video. It didn't work - I was too far back and the sound quality was poor.
Here's 45 seconds of it anyway - hint: AJ is not in this video.

20150805_081930.mp4 from SRG on Vimeo.

AJ was embarrassed and glad I finally went back to work, as I tried to follow along and dance a little after I turned the camera off.

At AJ's "Lights On After School" program, the younger kids performed the dance. AJ isn't one of the younger kids anymore, so I didn't feel obligated to videotape it. (Aren't you glad?)

It has been a legitimate craze. A teacher in North Alabama had so many kids asking to do the dance in PE that he crafted an aerobics routine to go with the dance. You can find it here.  There was talk of getting AJ's PE teacher to try it out, too. And some moms in Trussville incorporated it into a dance routine for a pep rally, making me really glad we're not involved in football anywhere. 

Soon, Ben decided that AJ would probably like the Macarena better, so they watched a tutorial on YouTube and now she can do it like a pro. Believe it or not, I find the 90's hit song less annoying.

In the long run, whatever gets you up and moving is worthy, and the lyrics and moves seem age-appropriate, which is helpful, although I don't truly give my blessing to something that asks me to "do the stanky leg."

We've had a LOT of rain here recently, and one of the moms in PTA just posted this to our facebook page:


The dance is growing on me, but honestly, this is more my speed.

(T-shirt pic source)