Thursday, December 31, 2009

1...2...3...

Since we'll all be counting down tonight, I thought I would show a clip Ben filmed of Anna June trying to count. You may have to turn your speakers up to hear her. He was feeding her some toaster waffles on Christmas Eve morning while I was at work. She counts the pieces he had cut up for her.

She has trouble with the number seven. She can go to six, then she'll say seven and then six again. Or she'll go all the way to ten, skipping seven. Or you tell her seven and she'll say eight, nine, ten. She's still learning! But adorable, nonetheless.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

You Better Recognize

On Monday, Anna June is moving up into the new 2-year old (sorta Toddler III) class. Thankfully, she will be staying with many of her good friends rather than waiting until she actually turns 2. We are very proud of her for being considered mature enough to move up.

In the new class, Anna June will be focusing on potty training. She has been doing very well at home but has backslid a little bit - she's only been telling us after the fact in many cases. But the idea is there, and with a little help from her teachers, I think she will get the hang of it.

Also in the new class, they are going to learn to drink from regular cups. This worries me much more than the potty training - I still probably could use a sippy cup myself.

We visited her new classroom (which happens to be her old classroom) yesterday morning to see the progress being made. The teacher showed me the dish tubs that will be the "cubbies" for the children. In the afternoon, the teachers went ahead and added the children's names on pieces of paper to the cubbies so that each child could learn to recognize her own name. After this was done, they showed them to the kids. They asked AJ which one said, "Anna June." She went straight to it. Actually, a bunch of the kids went straight to theirs. My rationale was that Anna June has two words, unlike all the other names, so it is easy to spot. But when I went to pick her up I asked her again - and she found not only hers but also Natalie's and Sipsey's! I asked her which one was Drew's and she pointed to Diamond's - but at least they both start with D. I was amazed. It is not exactly reading, but the fact that she can recognize her own name (one of the main goals of the new class) is pretty impressive. To me, at least.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Naughty and Nice


(Photos courtesy of Amanda L.)

Anna June had a great Christmas. That is absolutely true. But if someone asks her, "Did Santa Claus come see you?" she says no, which is of course, false.

I have deduced that she thinks Santa didn't come because she didn't see him. I keep telling her that Santa can't come unless you're asleep, but she isn't getting it. In fact, even now that he has come and gone, she is asking about him.

If I say, "What did Santa leave you to ride on?" she says "bicycle!" So, she knows Santa brought it. But according to her, Santa didn't come see her. And I guess, technically, he didn't see her. He saw our Christmas tree and Radar.

She pronounces Santa Claus as "Ah Cause". You have to know what she's talking about to catch it. She knows that Santa says "ho ho ho" and has even been known to say "ho ho ho" when she sees his likeness. But I have to say that Ah Cause is better than some kids who just call him Ho Ho. She is at least making an effort.

Speaking of making an effort, we are trying to clean up our office a little bit so we can work on the computers/pictures/printers more. We have about a hundred little projects we're trying to do. This reminds me: over Christmas I was asked about printing pictures from the blog (a.k.a. this website). Don't do it. Most of the time, the blogging software that I use scales pictures down from their original size, making them easier to load when you view the page, but fuzzier when you try to print them. I still do not know much about digital photos, but I do know that you can make a big file smaller, but you can't make a small file bigger. Bigger pictures print better. In most cases, I have (or have access to) the bigger original files. If you intend to print these pictures, let me know and I can email you the file(s). I would offer to print them for you, but I haven't uncovered the printer yet. Another option is for me to send the files to a professional photo site like Walgreens or Snapfish so you can order them yourself. Therefore, if there's a particularly beautiful shot that you have to have for your brag book, let me know and we can work something out.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Hard Times

This is a picture of Anna June and Santa (and Mrs.) Claus from daycare. As you can see, she is not screaming, but she's not very happy. That sort of sums up how our family is right about now.

Anna June, like many of us, seems to be going through a sort of holiday hangover. Despite days that are OK, the nights have become a battleground. She's never been a good sleeper, but she has been refusing to go down for naps or go to bed. We eventually get there (most of the time) but it has been really hard with all the excitement to get her back to the parts of the routine that were actually working before Christmas.

Last night, I decided to let her cry it out. She was really missing her pacifier. I can't say that she's entirely paci-free yet. She still has 2 "teething" pacifiers which you can't really suck on - they are flat and have to be chewed. She didn't like these much before, but now, in the absence of the real thing, they will suffice.

Anna June was crying louder and louder that she had to use the bathroom. I gave in and got her out of the crib, allowing her to use the potty (which she did). I was torn, because I really don't want to mess with the potty training and I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt, but I got her out of the crib, which the sleep people say is a no-no. I was in a lose-lose situation.

The crying lasted about 30 minutes or more, but it seemed like forever. Ben and I both tried to calm her down. Ben recorded some of the angst-ridden crying, if anyone needs audio clips of really, really sad child sounds.

Part of the problem, I am sure, is The Cold that Will Not Go Away. AJ still has a terrible sounding cough, although it is much less frequent. We all seem to be getting weepy eyes again, so at least we haven't tossed our pinkeye medicine yet. AJ has a runny nose, too. She is fighting me when I wipe it, but she won't wipe it herself with anything but her hand. Gross!

I did spend part of her late nap time yesterday cleaning the bathrooms, hopefully eliminating a few of the germs with which we keep re-infecting ourselves.

The worst of all, though, was this morning. Because AJ took so long getting to sleep and because she woke up crying a couple of times, she was too tired to get up and get going. We were late. Her late bedtimes and wake-up times over Christmas did not help anything. I finally got her up and she didn't want to get out of her Elmo nightgown. She didn't want me to fix her hair ("Anna June do it!") She was mad that I put her in her car seat instead of waiting for her to get in by herself. The list goes on.

But the bad part was that, for the first time, before we even got to daycare, she started complaining about being dropped off. She didn't want me to leave her, which I gathered when she started crying as the daycare came into view. "I want my mommy back," she said. I promise. She said it over and over. The whole sentence. On the one hand, I am proud that she can communicate her feelings so well. On the other hand, the guilt is killing me. I would have loved to have stayed home with her today but it wasn't in the cards. She cried all the way inside and clung to me until I finally peeled her off and handed her to her teacher.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Cleaning

AJ's Grandpa gave her a Minnie Mouse vacuum cleaner. Here are some video clips of AJ showing it off at her Granddaddy's house.

AJ Vacuum Video (1) from Ben Gallitz on Vimeo.



While Anna June is scared of our vacuum cleaner, she loves hers!

AJ Vacuum Video (2) from Ben Gallitz on Vimeo.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas, On Video

Since Anna June's daddy got a phone that can record video, we've been able to capture more little moments of our lives, although we haven't necessarily been great at sharing them. Here are three short video clips of our Christmas celebrations.

The first one is from Christmas Eve Eve. Anna June and Isabel were making funny faces. It features Anna June in one iteration of her panda bear ensemble that Granny Annie sent.


AJ and her friend Isabelle making funny faces from Ben Gallitz on Vimeo.



The next one is from Christmas Eve, after our family had finished opening gifts. My dad was like a kid and wanted to listen to his new CDs RIGHT AWAY. Of course, dancing and singing was involved. AJ is wearing a different combination of the panda bear outfits.

AJ Dancing with Aunt Liz from Ben Gallitz on href="http://vimeo.com">Vimeo.



This is the second part of the same dancing episode. I have to admit, seeing yourself on video always makes you self-conscious. New Year's diet, here I come!

AJ Dancing with Aunt Liz 2 from Ben Gallitz on Vimeo.



So as you can see, AJ still won't wear hair bows, her cough is still lingering, and even the smaller size panda bear pants had to be rolled up because she's just not as heavy as most kids her height - though she's heavy enough to hurt my back. Aleve is my new best friend. But despite all of our flaws, we had a great time as a family this Christmas. We hope you did, too.

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Night Before Christmas

Anna June spent Christmas Eve day with her daddy, as poor old mommy had to work. They had a great time. They ate waffles for breakfast, watched Barney, colored in her new Snoopy coloring book, and went out to (you guessed it) Chick-fil-A for lunch. Actually, AJ didn't want to go inside when they got there for fear of the cow, but eventually she came around, eating her lunch and having fun on the playground.

AJ took a great nap and was having fun eating her candy necklace and playing when I got home. We rushed to get ready and get back to my parents' house for our little family celebration. AJ's Uncle Patrick and Uncle Rusty were headed to their respective in-laws' houses in neighboring states (in the pouring rain), but we wanted to exchange gifts with them and eat before they left.

Anna June got quite the haul from her uncles and grandparents. She got an Elmo play set, several books, a doll, some chalk, and Elmo himself. She liked helping deliver gifts to everyone around the living room. She also loved opening her gifts! After that, she ate and played "Super Baby" with Aunt Beth, who flew her around the room. AJ even learned how to make dramatic "whooshing" sounds while "flying".

On our way home, we stopped by the house in the neighborhood that has the most outrageous decorations - we had heard Santa would be there on his way to deliver toys. Sure enough, he was out on the porch. He wished us a Merry Christmas, and I assured him we were on our way home to get to bed so he could come visit Anna June.

After reading all her new books and one Nana had given her, The Night Before Christmas, we settled down for our own long winter's nap. In fact, Anna June is still asleep at almost 7 am. She did get to bed a little late in all the excitement. She's either feeling a lot better, was really worn out, or we've finally reached a plateau in her sleeping habits. I have read that she would sleep better once she got rid of her pacifier and learned to soothe herself in the night. I believe I could become a whole different person if I didn't have to keep getting up to replace it in the night. So, I choose to see it as a good thing that Radar ate it and we've been going without it since Monday night. I am also slightly terrified, although experts and veteran parents all say that she will cry a lot for a couple of days and then get over it. Last night she went to bed without a tear. Maybe she's taking the "you better not cry" part of her new favorite Christmas song to heart.

One more observation about Christmas music: I've been singing her "Silent Night" and "Away in a Manger" as lullabies during the Advent season sometimes. Last night I started in on "Silent Night," thinking it appropriate to sing all 3 verses of the carol. On the third verse, Anna June picked up her head and was singing along. She really knew "Silent night, holy night." She also happened to be playing with her toy flashlight at the time. It was a perfect moment - she shone the light around her own face and she was glowing and happy, and sweetly singing a beautiful song. It was so lovely, I was about to cry, knowing my baby was too big for me to be rocking now - she could even sing grown up songs. Then, when the song was over, she looked up at me and my nose and said, "Mommy, booger!" So I laughed and we blew our noses and I put her to bed.

Merry Christmas! God bless us, every one.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

...To Town!

Even though yesterday was Christmas Eve Eve, Anna June went to daycare and we went to work. At daycare, they watched the movie Santa Claus is Coming to Town, which apparently featured the song of the same name. When I picked her up and her teacher was telling me about it, Anna June interrupted me (she does that a lot) and sang out "To Town!" So on the way out the door I sang, "Santa Claus is Coming To Town" and she joined in on the "To Town!" part. It was adorable.

So, at our family's Christmas Eve Eve party, we broke that out as Anna June's new party trick. It was so cute we must have done it ten times.
Mommy: Santa Claus is coming...
AJ: TO TOWN!!!

We sang and ate and were warming up until Jackson and Isabel arrived. Anna June loves these kids, and she was so happy to see someone (more or less) her own size that she didn't know what to do. The Moore children had been prepped - they remembered Anna June from their birthday party and playing on the Chick-fil-A playground a while back. Jackson showed AJ his trains, and Isabel showed off her boots. The next thing we knew, they were running through the house together, playing little games they made up and being generally adorable. Between the three kids, they had 3 parents, 4 grandparents and 4 great-grandparents there, not to mention all the aunts and uncles. But Ben and I still took turns staying with AJ and eating, to keep our promise to her - when we walked up to the house, seeing all the cars and hearing there would be lots of people, Anna June asked me, "Mommy, stay here?" I said, "You need Mommy to stay with you?" "Uh-huh. Daddy, stay here, too?"

There was no need for such assurances when the other children arrived. All was well. They had a great time! In this picture, Anna June and Isabel (and Jackson in the background) were having a funny face contest.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

No Nap!

Anna June, because of her cold, stayed home all day with me yesterday. This was not a good idea. In retrospect, I should have kept her home on Monday and sent her to daycare on Tuesday.

It could have been that she was jacked up on sugar. It could have been because the head of her bed is raised and not quite right. It could have been that Radar ATE THE LAST PACIFIER on Monday night and she couldn't soothe herself well enough. But after fussing a little, she went in her crib. She was happy, for the most part, playing alone with her stuffed animals and taking her clothes off and trying to put them back on. I passed by her room to see if she was asleep yet and she was singing to herself. She stayed in there over an hour, but did not fall asleep. I changed her dirty diaper and rocked her and put her back. She screamed quite a bit, for milk, which I gave her. Still no sleep.

I then called the vet and told them to send her the message that I was not going to bring Radar to his appointment, since I'd have to bring AJ, too, and at this point, she would have been a walking time bomb.

Then, I had the bright idea to put her in the car to drive her around until she fell asleep. I called to figure out which credit union branches in the area had a drive through window. I chose the Southside one, which, in this case, is unfortunately close to our house. Anna June was not asleep. So we went down to my office for a second - I had to do something that took 2 minutes. We ended up visiting with my friends. Well, not exactly visiting. AJ clung to me and acted shy the whole time, except when my friend gave us cookies which we did not need. She did flash a quick smile but that was about it.

We got in the car and I planned to go back the "long" way home, hoping she'd sleep. I was even considering hopping on the interstate and driving until she slept. But then she told me she wanted to go "home" and that it was "night-night time". We got home and started going through the before bed/nap routine: stories, singing, etc. But she was wide awake. And it was getting late. We went to watch TV, which worked when she was sick last time. It did not work this time. After one movie was over, she wanted to watch another one!

However, I could tell she was getting tired. Every injustice caused a meltdown. I called out to her when I saw she was reaching for a wine bottle on the table, and she cried and cried. So I called for reinforcements. I asked Ben to bring home a pizza so I could skip cooking dinner - there was no way I'd actually be able to heat things up on the stove without having to pick her up, too, and soothe overtired nerves at the same time. He also gave her a fun bubble bath while I did other things. I was so relieved!

She went to bed about 7:30, which was later than I had hoped. She woke up several times during the night, but only once did we have to go calm her back down. At 7:00 this morning, it broke my heart to wake her up. I just hope this nap-skipping thing doesn't become a regular occurrence any time soon.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Princess and the Cough





Anna June has (I think) a cold. It sadly has followed directly on the heels of her recovery from walking pneumonia. Yesterday, her teachers reported that not only was her nose running and her cough persistent, but she was just sort of lying around. So, I am (mostly) staying home with her today for her to rest and try to get well for our family Christmas celebrations, which begin tomorrow and last until Friday. We had to skip another event last night, but I didn't want her around other babies.

Last night, in between being extremely tired and fussy, Anna June found her new plastic tiara and rings. This was a gift from someone at daycare - it was made for older kids but if they thought she could handle it, then I guess I do, too. The crown lights up, but I don't know if it was turned on at the time. AJ now loves this crown. She wore it to Chick-fil-A on Saturday. She put it on last night and I asked if I could take her picture. She agreed. After this she started spinning in circles (video to come eventually).

After her bath, relieved I would let her wear it again, AJ ran through the house with the tiara on...and nothing else! It would have been funny if it hadn't been so far past her bedtime.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Ring Them Bells

Anna June, Will, Francie and Wim rang bells in church on Sunday. They played "Silent Night" (again). There are lots of surprise twists to this story.

When it was time to play, the pastor invited the kids to come down, where the bells were all set up for them. She said, "Anna June, do you want to come down and play with us?" Anna June said, "No!" Somehow, someone volunteered Mommy to go with her - it may have been Uncle Tim, but it all happened so fast I don't know who did it. She agreed to go if Mommy went with her. So, I kneeled beside AJ as she rang the bells. If I had known I would be doing this, I would have worn a different outfit!

This time AJ had the green bell instead of the yellow one.

In the instant I had to stand up and drag AJ to the front of the church, I tossed my camera to Uncle Tim, but I had no time to explain that there was a camera in that bag and I expected him to take video or at least a picture. So he didn't.

AJ actually rang the bell. I whispered instructions to her based on the color cards Pastor Jan was holding up. AJ looked at me when I was crazy when I was telling her when to ring and when to stop. I think she was trying to tell me to get my own bell.

Francie, who is 4 (I think), was the one who we redid this whole thing for to avoid disappointing. Unfortunately, she got her own case of stage fright. She didn't run off the "stage" but she did cry and refuse to ring her bell. Her sweet big brother gave her a "that's OK" kiss when the song was over. That was the best part of the whole day.

Will and Wim, who are much older, did great!

Will and Francie's grandmother, Birki, took pictures, so I should get copies of those eventually.

AJ was rewarded with M&Ms in the nursery, even though she cried a little when it was time to go. After the church service, she received a Christmas present of an apple cinnamon-scented plush dog (which at first we thought was a teddy bear).

Then, we went to Granddaddy and Nana's house for lunch, where she was too wound up and full of candy to eat much. She played her "night night" game with Granddaddy for way too long, and then we went home to go about the rest of the day.

Even after her nap, she was pretty fussy, but we managed to go to the grocery store and on a quick Christmas shopping trip before dinner. She watched the disappointing end of the Packers-Steelers game, where she screamed "Go Pack" at appropriate times. We managed not to swear at the heartbreaking ending, but instead said, "too bad," which AJ repeated.

It took her forever to get to sleep after all that excitement. I was exhausted, too. She only woke up a million times last night coughing. I hope this is a new cold and not a relapse.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Fun So Far...




Anna June has been having a great weekend. After 2 successful parties at school, she entertained all the guests at my birthday party at Rusty's BBQ. She had a wonderful time. The food was excellent as usual and the company was outstanding.

On Saturday, we hung out at the house for a while. Then, we had lunch at Chick-fil-A. We went just before it got crowded. AJ ate almost every bite and then had fun on the playground. It turned out to be a good time, but at first, it didn't look so good. Before we entered, I could see through the window that their cow mascot - this time dressed as Santa - was there. People were taking pictures. I said to Ben as he got her out of the car, "The Cow is here." He said, "Oh, cud!"

AJ did notice him, and she did scream, but Ben has gotten really good at calming her down. He started singing "Did you feed my cow?" one of AJ's new favorite children's songs. The actual lyrics are "What did you feed her? Corn and hay," but of course I changed it to "What did you feed her? Chick-fil-A!" Later, when we left, she was talking about the cow. I said, "Did you like the cow?" She said, "Uh-huh!" Crazy kid.

Then, after nap time, we went to the library. Anna June played and picked out some new books. We stopped by the antique shop to drop off some things. We stayed for a while playing with my college classmate's little girl who happened to be in the store. AJ has entered a new phase where she is shy and clingy each time she meets someone, but then warms up and either doesn't want to leave or doesn't want them to leave. I hope she gets over this soon - she's getting heavy and "pick up" is getting old.

We grabbed some dinner and, afterward, we enjoyed some of the cupcakes my friend Kate gave me for my birthday. AJ made quite the mess. Then we got all bundled up to go to the zoo for its annual "Zoolight Safari".

You can tell I'm not from up North, because as soon as I got AJ all bundled up, I realized I hadn't checked her diaper in hours. Unfortunately, I ended up having to change her whole outfit. Off went the turtleneck, the sweater, the coat, the hat, the scarf, the gloves, the pants, the socks, and the shoes, only to put dry versions of the same back on her. So, that delayed us a bit.

AJ's Granny and Aunt Nonny recently gave us 2 gifts that will keep on giving: Memberships to the Zoo and the McWane Center. This was our first trip back to the zoo since this summer. We warned AJ ahead of time that the animals would be asleep.

She didn't say much. She just sat all bundled up in her stroller. We looked at thousands of lights - it really was spectacular. We can see why this event is so popular, which we were asking ourselves as we stood in line to get in. We got passes to ride the train, and that was also worth standing in line for. After we got off, Anna June finally smiled and agreed it was fun. She didn't want to get back in the stroller, so it was a short rest of the trip. She waited until we were almost to the car to have a meltdown.

A highlight of the trip was seeing Santa off to the side of the train. A lowlight was that AJ was terrified of the few animals we did get to see in the children's petting zoo area: sheep, goats and a llama. She screamed as we got closer. I guess lambs are fine in a book or a song, but scary in person. We also attributed the fear to the following extenuating circumstances: it was cold, very crowded, dark, lots of things going on, noisy, and close to bedtime. But still, we didn't expect that.

Another thing we didn't expect was that another surprise visitor was at the zoo - the Chick-fil-A Santa cow! We kept seeing him all around the zoo grounds - I felt like he was following us specifically to torture my child. It was just an unfortunate coincidence that CFA sponsors the event.

We may try this again next year when she's older.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Birthday, Mommy!


We've had a lot of birthdays in our world lately. Today it is my turn. And AJ's friend Sipsey. AJ was sleeping soundly when I tried to wake her up this morning. One of the first things that she said was "Sipsey party". Today is actually a big day at school today: they're having their Christmas party as I post this (their lunch time) and, in the afternoon, they will celebrate Natalie's and Sipsey's birthdays with cupcakes. And then, tonight, we'll have my small party, too. I expect Anna June to be high on sugar and her same adorable self, but in fast forward.

So, after a minute of preparation with her daddy, Anna June walked into my bedroom this morning carrying a present and a card (signed by both of them). She said, "Birthday Mommy!" Birthday is a difficult word to say, but she is doing her best with it. She was so sweet!

In fact, Anna June knows that her birthday is not until March. She's told me before, recently, but she said, "Anna June birthday March!" about ten times this morning. She doesn't want to be left out!

I am really anxious to hear how the Christmas party is going. They were all asked to wear red for photographic purposes. They have reindeer antlers to wear (although AJ refused to try them on when I dropped her off this morning).

I can't wait to see my little reindeer this afternoon. Fantastic picture by Ruth Kennedy.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Visit to Liz and Patick's

Although we live in the same city, we rarely visit Patrick and Liz. We see them pretty often at family functions, but they don't get nearly their share of Anna June time - we all stay so busy it is hard to squeeze it in. That's why, when Liz volunteered to babysit while Ben and I did some Christmas shopping for AJ, I jumped at the chance. Unfortunately, it was a weeknight, but with so much going on, we had to seize the opportunity when we could. So, last night, we went over and at first, AJ was sad to know we were going, but by the time we left the apartment, she had already stopped crying. She was in capable and fun hands.

First of all, they cooked a special dinner of Anna June's favorites: Salmon, peas, rice, and of course bread and cheese, with raspberries for dessert. She loved it and ate it all. Then, they played and colored until it was time to go home. We also discovered that AJ knows how to do "jumping jacks". She also used the potty! She was well-behaved and everyone had fun, even Mommy and Daddy on what passed for a date night. It was so much better than arguing over Barney at home.

The rest of the night didn't go as well. We were certain AJ would fall asleep in the car, but she did not. We got her in bed as fast as we could, but that wasn't fast at all. It was WAY past her bedtime before she got in bed. And then, because she was overtired, she ended up waking up after 4 am, wide awake. Ben ended up sleeping on her floor so she would calm down and go back to sleep. Poor Daddy was freezing and uncomfortable, but he did it just so she'd stop crying and I could sleep (I had been up several times with both AJ and Radar). We can at least appreciate that Anna June is going to get some spectacular gifts from Santa this year.

This picture is from Thanksgiving - you can see AJ loves her Aunt Liz!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Let's Try That Again


As I've posted before about our church, there are not that many kids. On occasion, a couple of kids (Will and Francie) who are the grandchildren of a church member will come visit. They visited once or twice during the season of hand bell practice, and were, of course, invited to come participate in the Christmas program we had earlier this month. Unfortunately, there was a scheduling conflict and they weren't able to participate. However, Francie, who is 4, was talking to her grandmother and listing off all the things she still had to do before Christmas. There was the program at school, and, of course, the program at our church. The grandma didn't have the heart to tell her the program had already passed.

So, what they decided to do was to have the kids play the bells again in the morning worship service this Sunday. So there should be 6 kids instead of 4 this time. I hope they pick a different song. Anyway, you're all invited. Hopefully, Anna June will actually ring her bell and not freak out this time.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Obligatory Santa Visit






Last year, when Anna June was still an "infant," I decided I would not subject her to actually meeting Santa Claus. Nearly every picture I see of an adorably dressed baby in Santa's lap also has said baby screaming and crying. AJ screamed and cried enough for me to willingly subject her to the torture.

So, this year, when we heard that Santa was coming to Moe's for dinner, we decided we would try it out. After all, there would be no line - Santa was just going to be walking around talking to the children - and it was free (bring your own camera). So I said, "Why not?" I got AJ from daycare and we went out to Vestavia to meet Ben.

Anna June knew Santa would be there. She saw him through the window and her eyes got big. We got in the door, and after "Welcome to Moe's," Santa came over to greet us. Anna June SCREAMED. Pure terror. She calmed down some. We ordered, sat down, and started to eat. Ben and I talked to Santa again, but Anna June sort of screamed again. "Anna June scared," she said.

Santa came back by another time and Anna June actually talked to him, after she saw it was ok. She said, "Elmo jammies" and "glasses" (by which she means sunglasses). I interpreted for Santa. He agreed that Elmo jammies would be cute and it is nice to have sunglasses - he has some himself.

Santa came back by and gave us some peppermints. He hesitated to give one to AJ after giving one to Ben and me, but she was reaching for it, so he did. I told AJ to eat her dinner, and after feeding her a few bites, she was fixated on the candy. After more fussing, I finally allowed her, seated in my lap, to very carefully eat the peppermint. I was mentally rehearsing my recent infant CPR training the whole time. I was far more scared of Anna June eating that peppermint than she was of Santa. After she had successfully eaten it, she opened her mouth wide to show me it was all gone. I exhaled.

Now that we were finished eating, I told Anna June that I was going to go tell Santa Claus what I wanted for Christmas. If you know me well, you know I have a long list I keep year-round, but for simplicity's sake, I told AJ that I was going to ask Santa for books and new CDs.

"Anna June books"
"Oh, you want Santa to bring you books, too?"
"Uh-huh!"
"Mommy also wants new CDs"
"Anna June new CDs"
"You want new CDs, too?"
"Uh-huh"
"Ok. Let's go tell him!"

So before we were even close to Santa, Anna June started talking excitedly "New CDs! New CDs!" So I told Santa we wanted new CDs. "And what else, Anna June?" "Books!" Then she told him she was drinking lemonade. I definitely had to interpret this one ("emade"). Santa agreed that he liked lemonade and lots of lemon flavored things, like lemon pie and iced lemon cookies. Perhaps we will leave some for him on Christmas Eve.

My plan, then, was to get a picture of myself with Santa, then take one with Ben and Santa, and then, maybe, just maybe, AJ would sit in a picture with him.

No way. I took my picture, and then, Ben wouldn't do it. He didn't want to sit on a grown man's lap - I have no idea why not. Anna June, of course, was not thrilled about it at that point. In fact, "No" was heard several times.

So, these are the pictures we got. Santa and AJ are at least in the same shot. Photography by Ben.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Pump It Up




AJ has made a full recovery, and, after spending all day in the house on Saturday, we ventured out to church and a birthday party on Sunday. There's lots to tell about the weekend, but I will focus on the birthday.

Natalie, AJ's classmate and good buddy, turns 2 this week and they celebrated with a party at Pump It Up in Trussville. This place is an inflatable indoor playground, with lots of room to scream and run. It was fun - I am sure we'll go back. Anna June liked jumping after a while, especially after she figured out her friend Drew could do it. The main attractions, though, were huge slides. Unfortunately, for kids as small as Anna June, they can't climb up to go down the slides by themselves. Mommy had to go with her. I was not thrilled. I am so out of shape and those things were big! Taking a cue from Drew's daddy, I let AJ climb up in front of me and we went down the slide together. The first slide (the shorter one) was much more difficult to get up. In fact, after I found out the tall one was easier I discouraged AJ from going up the short one again.

On the second (or maybe third) trip up the tall slide, AJ decided that she wanted to be carried up the ladder. I did it - only because we were almost to the top. After that I told her she had to climb up on her own power. Mommy has no upper body strength, but I would be there to help her climb. She refused, so we didn't go down any more slides. She still had a great time. In fact, when it was time to go in the party room and everyone settled down for cake and ice cream, she kept asking to go back to the "playground," which, thankfully, was not allowed! We never would have been able to leave.

The upside is that she has slept great! She's still down and I'm going to have to get her to get a move on so we can get to work and school.

These pictures were taken by Drew's mom, Dawn.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Rockin Pneumonia and The Boogie-Woogie Flu

The pediatrician visit was not wasted - we found out that Anna June has mycoplasma, otherwise known as "walking pneumonia". The good news is that a day after beginning the antibiotics, she will no longer be contagious. The bad news is, that, being contagious, she wasn't able to attend the Christmas parade and party we had planned to attend tonight. I'm posting now because tomorrow, Ben has to work and I will be here all alone with Anna June.

AJ is usually a joy to be around, but when she is sick, she is fussy and needy. She wants to be held like a baby. Two days in a row she has fallen asleep in my arms while watching television.

Tonight, she didn't want to get up from that comfy position to eat supper, but when she did, she perked right up. She was bouncing around in no time. She got a conciliatory bubble bath, but then she decided, for a change, to actually play with her toys in the bathtub. She took her biggest toy, the boat they all "ride" in, and started banging it from side to side in the tub. It made so much noise Ben had to come check on us. I said that AJ was just guiding her ship through a rough storm. It was unusually violent for her. Then, she was kicking and hitting me while I was trying to dress her. I don't know if the medicine got to her or if she was just tired, but I can tell you I sure was glad that she was going to bed!

While I was at work today, my mom kept her and Anna June was reportedly an angel. I guess she was just saving it up for me.

Sick Again

Anna June was sent home from daycare yesterday with a slight temperature and a persistent cough that was keeping her (and everyone else) from napping. She knows that when she is sick she has to go to the doctor. When I called yesterday, they said to give her medicine that I already had, so that was good. But she was up a lot last night coughing. And I know that her throat hurts. The first word she said to me this morning was "Doctor!" She settled for going to Nana's house for now, but we'll probably be stopping by the pediatrician this afternoon to see if he thinks it is more serious than I do.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

In Other News...

Anna June turned 21 months old this week. I promise when she turns 2 I will just say she is 2, and not the number of months. You have to admit, though, that there's a lot of difference in a 12-month old and a 21 month old!

As it is now, Anna June never stops talking (I wonder where she gets that from?). She loves to read books, but she wants to interject her own observations about what is going on in the story. It is a sweet change, but one that is getting to be a little daunting each night as I'm trying to settle her down for bed. The good news is that she's more engaged. The bad news is that it is harder to disengage! I have just cut back on the number of stories we're reading, because if she had her way, she would stay up all night!

The other problem is that with Anna June's exploding vocabulary, we're not always able to determine what she's saying. Whole sentences come out as long, mushed words. "Idontlikethat" is a common one. We need an interpreter sometimes. Well, a lot of the time. I have to keep guessing, which is exhausting. I do better than some at trying to figure out what she wants.

Also, I have found myself asking Anna June to "use her words" to express herself instead of crying. Before I became a parent, I thought that was the dumbest phrase I had ever heard. But now, when I catch AJ crying and pointing, I try to get her to tell me, in English words, what she perceives as the problem. Of course, while crying, it is more difficult to understand her, so I really need the interpreter then, and she gets more frustrated because she IS saying the words but I can't understand her.

An upside, as many of you may have experienced, is that Anna June is learning to have conversations with people on the telephone. If I tell her to "say hey to Nana" for example, she will get the phone and say "hey Nana!" If prodded, she will also say "I love you" which is "iuvoo" and "bye-bye" at the end of the call. She almost always wants to talk now. She even spoke to our veterinarian on the phone when she called to check on Radar last week. A friend's husband has their 2-year-old talk on the phone to telemarketers: a win-win situation that I may try soon.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Happy Birthday Daddy!

Although he's not much for celebrating his birthday, yesterday Anna June's daddy turned a year older. He doesn't get excited the way I do about marking another year. But here is my point: this picture is from about a year ago. How much can change in a year!

On Monday night, Ben's co-workers had sent him home with a birthday balloon and a nice card. Anna June had so much fun playing with the "boon". She was upset when she had to put it away to go to bed.

Yesterday morning, though, she saw the balloon first thing. I told her that it was finally Daddy's birthday. She was so excited! She would not wait to change out of her jammies - she wanted to go see him the very first thing.

We woke him up, brought him the balloon, and then sang "Happy Birthday" to him and gave him his presents. AJ was literally jumping up and down on our bed - she was so happy. Earlier in the week I had asked her what we should give Daddy for his birthday. "Candy," she told me. So one of his gifts was candy. It was sitting in a gift bag for her to deliver. She took it out of the gift bag for him and told him what it was, "CANDY!" So sweet.

We then took her to daycare, where she promptly had a meltdown. She is not used to us both going together, and she was upset that one of us was going upstairs to the office for a minute, and then she was upset that we were leaving. But she ended up having a good day. In fact, when I went to pick her up, she didn't want to leave.

We had a nice night staying in from the terrible rain. Ben was nice enough to allow AJ to watch Barney while I fixed supper, and then she was nice enough to let him watch The Simpsons while I cleaned up. Thanks to all the family members who called to wish him a happy birthday. I think it was one.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Snow



Very late on Friday night/early on Saturday morning, it snowed at our house. Radar took me out at 1 am and I was very excited to see how pretty it was, but I kept myself from waking the other humans to share in the fun. When Anna June got up some time after 7, it was already starting to melt quickly. But we rushed to play in it before breakfast, so we could get a couple of pictures. AJ even got to help make snowballs - maybe next time there will be enough to make an actual snow man.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Silent Morning

Until recently, Anna June has been the only child at our church. My dear friend Michelle has moved back to the area and has been bringing her three kids, two of whom are twins, age 3, and her older son is 7. Now that we find ourselves with kids and a children's minister, it was decided that the kids would practice ringing bells to accompany a recorded Christmas carol. There is a color-coded system in place so that even children too young to read can be involved in the fun.

The trouble is, of course, that as brilliant as Anna June is, she is still only 1. That is too young for a Christmas program. But she was in "children's church" with the other kids - and there was no way she was not going to get to ring her jingle bell. I talked to her about it before we went to church yesterday. The plan was to perform one song during the morning worship service, and then play the same song plus two more at the evening Christmas program. She agreed. She loves the other children and wanted to get to play with them.

The other problem is that Anna June still does not know her colors. Here she is with her yellow bell, not ringing it at all. As for her part, "Silent Night" was "Silent Morning".

I also have brief video from the evening Christmas program, but it may be a while before I get around to editing it together and uploading. You see, Anna June did even worse at the evening Christmas program when the sanctuary was filled with people she did not know, mostly parents from Spring Valley School, which meets at our church. We've been combining their kids' Christmas performances with our church's annual celebration. I had no idea that as soon as my non-shy kid got in front of all those people, she would have a considerable meltdown.

Anyway, this is the footage of the "good" performance, when she actually stood up with her friends.

Silent Night - AM Service from Ben Gallitz on Vimeo.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Can I Get A "Roll Tide?"

AJ may not be very excited about football in general, but Bama Fever has caught on around here. In case you don't live here and don't track these things, Alabama beat Florida for the SEC Championship last night.

Anna June figured out that when we are cheering, she is to say "Roll Tide!" When we watched the Iron Bowl last week, she was a little confused and said "Go Pack!" like we've been trying to get her to say all season with our beloved Green Bay Packers. But she has practiced "Roll Tide" a lot and maybe we'll be able to capture it on video sometime before the bowl game.

We really don't watch football all that much these days, but Ben enjoyed watching the second half of the game, and especially that Alabama beat their hated rivals.

Other things I found out this weekend so far:
  • Anna June likes raw broccoli, but not my broccoli salad.
  • She played with a snowman-shaped cookie like it was a baby doll. She tickled it and sang it a lullaby.
  • She liked getting in to an old tube of my lipstick. It failed to show up on camera. I hope it doesn't fail to come out in the wash.
  • AJ, like her dad, will select the cashews out of a bowl of mixed nuts.
  • She is obsessed with bubble baths. We all gave Radar a bath first, and then, she literally ran to her bathroom saying, "My turn. Bubble bath! Bubble bath!"
  • It snowed a little, and AJ LOVED playing in it. She thought making a snowball was the most fun ever. She was very upset that we had to come inside but we kept a snowball in the freezer for later.
  • AJ has become more indecisive. If you give her a choice between two things of which she's not really fond, she'll just say, "um," as if that is an answer. I have to ask her "Um yes?" or "Um no?"
  • She got panda bear shoes sent from her Granny and WOULD NOT take them off, even for a nap.
  • She likes "helping" wrap Christmas gifts. So if you see a gift wrapped more creatively than usual, attribute it to her. That reminds me, for some reason I need more tape.
  • Out of nowhere, AJ will holler out song requests, especially at bedtime. I was leaving her room and she said "E-I-O!" So I sang 3 verses of Old McDonald very quietly to her from her doorway. She asked for more, so I said, "Anna June, you can sing it yourself." She sang herself to sleep "McDonald E-I-O. McDonald E-I-O!"

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Tribute


As I mentioned over on Facebook, my friend Kirsty died at the too-young age of 33 on Saturday. After too many years of both of us doing our own things, I was recently back in touch with her via emails and our blogs. While my blog is devoted to our daily adventures with Anna June, Kirsty's was about experiencing breast cancer from the unique perspective of someone who was both very young and also a Muslim. In the Muslim community, women are very private about their private parts, and not much is said, even from woman to woman, about certain health matters. She wanted to spread awareness among her friends and their friends, so that together, women might find the strength to talk about knowing their bodies, especially about what is normal, and what is not.

In Kirsty's case, she had inflammatory breast cancer. The thing about IBC is that it is every bit as serious as a lump-type tumor, but it is more rare and more difficult to detect. She was diagnosed on her 32nd birthday.

Kirsty's cancer metastasized to her brain. She was the first one to know this, and it took her a while to get the doctors on board to find out that the symptoms she was experiencing were not just side effects from her treatment. The treatments for the brain tumors, she wrote me, were, a "blow to the ego. Being the go-to-girl for anything intellectual is pretty much out the window. But, you know, I guess being humbled is a gift."

That was typical Kirsty, even circa 1991. She was a smart girl, and she knew it. But she was never afraid to laugh at herself. In fact, I credit her with helping me try so many new things in my young life, as well as with helping a very serious little girl not take herself so seriously. I got to tease her about liking New Kids on the Block, and she got to tease me about liking nearly every boy that walked down the hallway of Putnam Middle, at some point. As an adult, of course, she had matured and was so strong in her faith. She was a brilliant mathematician and could have gone on to a career in higher math. She used to always outshine me on the Algebra Team and often on the Academic Bowl team back when we were young. And I was always jealous of her beautiful soprano singing voice. She learned Arabic to fluency and taught it, as well as many other things. She always wanted to teach, even when we were young. She got to travel the world. She got to be mother to a little boy and a little girl. In our last email exchange, just a few weeks ago, we were trying to set up a play date with them and Anna June. It is my fault we never got around to it, because I was trying to be so cautious with AJ having a cough and being around someone with a compromised immune system.

Recently, Kirsty's uncle also died of cancer that had metastasized to his brain. Although his case had nothing to do with hers, she wrote:
I guess in all actuality it should be a reminder for me to take each day, minute, prayer as if it may be my last. We have to take the most out of our time, Allah has already written how much time we have left, and there is nothing we can do to change that. I am at complete peace with that.....

I have lots of memories of Kirsty that keep coming up ever since I heard the news. We had lots of slumber parties and spend-the-night sessions with just the two of us. She had a sleep shirt she wore often with a tired cartoon character that said "Exhaustapated" which always cracked me up. It is nice to know that, now, she can get some rest.

In a few weeks, I will probably take down Kirsty's blog from my blog roll, as there won't be any future posts. But in the meantime, I encourage you to read it. Among so many other things, Kirsty was a great writer and a great mom. Her children are ages 5 and 3. I am sure that she wouldn't mind you praying for them and her husband (as well as her parents and siblings) as they go through this difficult time, together.

Probably Shouldn't...





...but while it is still fall I thought I would post Anna June's school pictures. All photos copyright LifeTouch.

In other daycare news, Anna June meets Santa Claus for the first time today. I hope it is OK. She told me she was going to tell him she wants new sunglasses and Elmo jammies. She also told me she has been a good girl.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

I don't know how she does it.

This picture, is, obviously, from around this time last year. We've been sort of going through our pictures and doing different things with them - maybe soon we'll actually print some out and put them in albums and scrapbooks!

Anyway, the reason we're featuring Grandpa on the blog today is something that happened yesterday.

Last night, Ben went out of the room for a few short minutes. Anna June and I had been talking about silly hats again, and we went into the coat closet where we keep a laundry basket on the floor of all our hats, scarves and gloves. AJ didn't want to wear the "silly" hat with the dreadlocks attached, she wanted to wear Ben's Brewers hat. She wanted me to wear my pink Packers hat. So I did.

There were two problems with this. The first is that I like to wear my pink hat when I take Radar for walks. He got really excited when I put it on. His ears perked up and he started jumping all over me! If it hadn't been dark, cold, and rainy and I hadn't been sick, I would have walked the poor guy around the block, at least!

Then, amidst all that commotion, Anna June took a step back and saw the Christmas presents from Grandpa and Grammy in the top of the coat closet. They brought the gifts when they visited us in September with strict instructions of "do not open until Christmas". Shortly after they left, I made room for them in the top of that closet and haven't mentioned them again.

AJ saw those presents and said, "Grandpa!!!"

I was floored. I asked Ben if he had said anything to AJ recently about the gifts. "No. Have you?" "No!!!"

She's watching and remembering everything we do. I know this, and I've mentioned it several times. Which makes it all that much harder to admit that I am the person that AJ copied to say her first swear word last night.

I am ashamed.

We've discovered, after all these years, that the main reason Radar destroys things belonging to us is that he is jealous of our attention. I spent all day yesterday at home with him, curled up, napping and watching TV (and blowing my nose, etc.). But when AJ and Ben came home, I roused myself to eat dinner and help do some things while AJ was in the bath. Ben and I were both in the bathroom with AJ when Radar got lonely. I went to fold some laundry and heard some chewing coming from Radar's clubhouse (a.k.a. under my bed). I forced him out to discover he had chewed one of my pencils to shreds. Not only is this annoying - that was one of my good pencils! - but it is also not on his special diet! I was mad. "Dammit, Radar," I screamed.

Anna June, being dried off by her daddy, said, "Dammit" in the sweetest, most terrible voice I'd ever heard.

Ben, whom I have asked REPEATEDLY not to cuss in front of AJ, asked me who was self-righteous now? I could have fallen through the floor. I was so upset and so busy chasing Radar that I forgot to tell AJ that we don't say that - it's a bad word and Mommy made a mistake. But suddenly, I was chasing a naked toddler around the house who was chasing the bad doggy! She made me forget all about what I was supposed to be doing.

I don't know how she does it.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Date with Daddy

While I went to my book club meeting last night, Anna June got to go on a date with her daddy. He picked her up from daycare and took her to Taco Bell. Things went fine, until he decided to throw away her fruit punch. Apparently, she wasn't finished (even though she said she was) and started screaming. She continued until they got home, at some points screaming for "Mommy!"

So, Ben called me to see if I could talk to her for a minute. This really didn't help too much. But once they got home, she was fine.

They watched Barney, flew around like airplanes and wore silly hats. AJ got a bubble bath (although she tried to eat the bubbles again). She was in her jammies and ready for me to brush her teeth and hair to get her ready for bed when I got home.

They got some bonding time, and I got to hear adults use phrases like "juxtaposition of plot and subplot" - a wonderful night for all of us.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Silly Mommy!

One of Anna June's favorite things to say is "Silly Mommy" or "Silly Daddy" or "Silly Anna June". This is fine with us, as we do lots of silly things around our house.

Yesterday, I sat Anna June down to have a talk with her about her pacifier. At the suggestion of a friend I told her, "AJ, if you leave your pacifier for Santa Claus, he can give it to a baby who needs it. And he will leave an extra present for you in your stocking. Does that sound like a good idea?"

"Nope!" she said, and shook her head emphatically.

Silly mommy!