Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Inside the Lines

Anna June has been working hard on her coloring skills. As you can see, she has very expressive use of color and is getting better at coloring objects. On Monday, though, she and her friend Garvey were coloring wildly, and, since there were only a few kids there that day, Ms. Susan thought she'd help them with their technique. She showed them how to hold the crayons more like a pencil, to give them more control, and perhaps try to stay in the lines a little better. They tried really hard for a few minutes to do like she showed them.

Then, Anna June told Susan very seriously, "I have a hard job."

Susan, of course, thought that was the funniest thing she's heard in a while. She laughed about it all day.

When I went to pick AJ up from school, she told me that she doesn't like staying in the lines. I told her that was perfectly alright - she doesn't have to. That's the good thing about art, I told her, you get to do it how you'd like to do it. She seemed a little relieved.

After her bath last night, she asked me, "Do we have time to color before bed?" I told her I'd let her color for five minutes. She said, "I want to color for three hours!" So I guess the hard job didn't bother her too much.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

White Christmas




Photos courtesy Liz Tucker

Anna June got to experience something we haven't seen in Birmingham in over a century - a white Christmas. These pictures were snapped when the snow was beginning to fall. My dad first gave Anna June a bowl and told her to go out and catch snowflakes. As you can see, she caught more in her hair than in the bowl. Later, when she wanted to go back out, we at least made her put her coat back on.

The beautiful dress is a gift from our cousin, Judy, who couldn't make it to our Christmas celebration because of the weather. The tights and shoes are from Granny Annie. The coat is also from Granny Annie - take a good look at it, because AJ has requested that we get rid of it because it is itchy. "It tickles me," she said. Luckily, she has several more. The Cinderella earrings, necklace and bracelet are from Beth and Rusty - they sure knew what AJ wanted! She's been wearing her jewelry non-stop. It was a full-on crisis when we misplaced an earring Christmas night. Luckily- it was located and we could get back to being, as AJ calls it, "more fancier."

The snow came down almost all day on Saturday and again on Sunday, canceling church services through the metro area. Roads were fairly clear, but the risk of some melted snow/ice made everyone want to stay home. Some places got about an inch, in my estimation. It wasn't enough to make a snowman, but some of our neighbors did anyway.

On Sunday, AJ wanted to go back out and play in it some more, but not until about noon, when lots had melted. We made some snowballs and, of her own volition, she laid down in the grass to make a snow angel. She wasn't particularly successful and she basically just got wet. She had fun, though.

Surprisingly, there are still patches of snow here and there around town and in our yard. There are icicles hanging from our house and cars. Although it is nothing compared to Milwaukee (which we'll see in a few weeks), it was a big deal to us.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Morning

Anna June didn't really "get" the Santa thing. Quite frankly, even though I'm a lifelong fan of Santa, I don't get it either - the logistics and execution were poor this year, I am afraid. Either way, though, here is the video of AJ seeing what Santa brought her.

Christmas Morning 2010 from Ben Gallitz on Vimeo.



She's not really a morning person, so it was hard to get her excited. Plus, there was so much stuff, she was sort of like, "next!" but she really does like all of her gifts, including things not shown. More on those later.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Underwear!

Anna June survived the 22nd annual Christmas Eve Eve party at my parents' house last night. There were lots of other kids there, and she was very happy that she still got so much attention out of all of them. Jackson and Isabel were there - she loves them. But our time before her daily 8:00 breakdown was drawing nigh, and she asked to leave. We went to tell folks goodbye before we were leaving. I told Anna June to tell her friends Merry Christmas.

"Merry Christmas!" Anna June said.
"Merry Underwear!" Jackson said.

The kids cracked up - it was priceless.

Upon reflection this morning, though, it really made me miss my Granddaddy Elwyn. He would do things to crack us up all the time. Famously, and at least once, there was a gift under his Christmas tree marked "To: Elwyn From: Elwyn". It was underwear, and us children thought it was awfully funny.

The party was hard to get through - besides Granddaddy Elwyn, we also lost Grandma Annette this year. And our friend Margaret lost both her parents. And many of our friends lost many of their friends. But we all had each other, and somehow managed to have a good time.

There were two Grandma Annette-related hits of the party, though. One was the ornament hanging from the tree that had a picture of me when I was just about AJ's age with my grandmother sitting at the piano - and on the reverse was the lyrics to her Christmas song, "Green Christmas Tree." My grandfather sent these to us along with the article in The Birmingham News from December of 1980 where Grandma's friend Elma Bell wrote a story about her and the song in the paper...I'm pretty sure Aunt Connie had a hand in making the ornaments. They are beautiful and fabulous reminders of her. And Beth made a cake decorated with "Green Christmas Tree". It was so pretty we didn't want to cut it. Both made the evening more special.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Anna June has been dragged to a bunch of Christmas celebrations this year. We did the St. Nicholas festival at church, the Shorts' party, the Gentles' party, the school Christmas program, the church Christmas program, and we skipped out on about 3 events while we were sick. On Wednesday morning, I tried to get AJ up for school, thinking that the excitement of her class Christmas party would be enough to get her out of bed. They were having a breakfast celebration, and the idea of French toast sticks and warm syrup sounded pretty good to me.

"Wake up, AJ! Today is your Christmas party at school!"
"No. Mama, if I have to go to one more Christmas party, I might throw up."

I hated to tell her that we still had my parents' big party left, plus Christmas Eve and Christmas day to get through.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Home Made

Anna June was a little cranky last night, so I didn't get to bake Christmas cookies with her like I'd planned. In fact, I didn't bake them at all. I'd intended to make lovely Christmas cookies with sprinkles...I even bought a Christmas tree cookie cutter. But AJ took one look at the cookie cutter last night and decided it didn't look like a Christmas tree to her, so she burst into tears! I ended up rushing her through her bath and bedtime, only for her to stall greatly. I was so exhausted by the end that I wound up just washing the dishes and going to bed. This morning, we stopped by Walgreens to buy Christmas presents for her teachers instead of the beautiful, thoughtful cookies I'd imagined. What did AJ pick out for them? Cookies!

So, much like Snow White in the picture AJ colored above, my baking was mere fairy tale. As I predicted in an earlier post, the homemade route is really not for me - I shouldn't even have attempted it. But I didn't mean to imply that I don't like to receive home made gifts. Au contraire! We've been getting Christmas presents early, and the most favorite things we've received have been hand made. My friend Kate made AJ a place mat that has chalkboard material on one side - I am in awe of her talent and creativity.

Even without baking, though, I think we'll have plenty of cookies and goodies to leave for Santa.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Super Star

Anna June had her Christmas program last night. As a repeat of the night before, it took a lot of convincing to get her in a Christmas dress and to the performance. Then, when I tried to drop her off in her classroom to get ready, she had a meltdown. In fact, almost all the kids were crying for their parents not to leave. It was hard, but eventually, I left her crying so she could settle down. Here is the video:

This is the McElwain Child Development Center's Christmas Program from 12/20/2010. It features Anna June and her Pre-3 Class, along with the 3 and 4 year old classes. As you can tell, I zoomed in to get the shots, so they're not very clear. But it is cute, nonetheless. The kids sing with a track so the fact that none of them are singing much is obscured. You can see them dance, though! Features Rocking Around the Christmas Tree, Jingle Bells, Feliz Navidad, and Deck the Halls. If you've got 7 minutes and can stand the lady's head in front of me, you should watch it. Anna June's dancing is priceless.

McElwain Christmas Program from Ben Gallitz on Vimeo.



While she didn't sing for the most part, you can tell she does some singing after she gets a little warmed up. At the beginning of "Deck the Halls" you can see that AJ knows it is time to go off stage, but she catches herself as she doesn't think it's time yet. After we left this part, the older children went on to perform more. I wish we'd seen that part, but the little ones were all crying for their parents so we went on to the reception a little early.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Owl Jammies







Anna June asked for owl jammies for Christmas. Before Santa could even begin searching, Auntie Nonny delivered! Here are a few (blurry) pictures of Anna June from Saturday morning. We got the pajamas on Friday night and we couldn't wait to wear them. Hooray!

Unfortunately, AJ decided she doesn't like having her picture made. So here are the results.

Shoes and Cookies

Anna June wasn't having a good day yesterday. This was unfortunate in general, but it was worse because our church was having its Christmas program that night, and the kids were supposed to sing.

AJ fought hard against even attending morning worship service, which I did not appreciate. I found myself pleading with her, and even yelling a little. We were supposed to rehearse immediately after worship, and I was in the role of (sort of) directing the kids choir. "Do you know what commitment means?" I asked AJ. Eventually, we got to church, but she was tired, and everyone kept asking me what was wrong with her. I had to explain that no, she was not sick, she was just tired.

The other kids slated to perform with us were all sick. They skipped morning worship, too, but their mom ran home and got a couple of them to rehearse with us. Rehearsal was terrible. We ran through the three songs with the Boyd children croaking through their sore throats and Anna June standing there with her thumb in her mouth. She never sucks her thumb. Eventually, we made it home and quickly ate lunch so we could have nap time. Did AJ nap? NO!!!!! For the second day in a row. Of course, I knew this meant disaster for the program. Ben told me it was too much pressure to put on a two-year-old, so I gave up.

At AJ's request, I had signed up to bring a cake to the reception following the performance, so I spent the afternoon baking it. AJ helped me decorate it with sprinkles. The results were good.

Afterward, it was time to get dressed for the service. Anna June, who has at least 4 dresses I deemed "Christmas-y" enough for the event, wanted only to wear a leopard-print jumper. I relented, only to stipulate that she wear a corresponding bodysuit-turtleneck. She couldn't stand that, so we changed. She picked out one of my approved outfits, but balked at the turtleneck that went with that, too. So we ended up in her fancy Christmas dress like I had hoped, but it took both of us basically holding her down to get her tights, shoes, and sweater on. Like I said, she was having a bad day.

The service was to begin at 6, so at 5, we left the house in order to run by the drugstore and drive through Taco Bell for a hungry daddy - the unknown goodies of "reception to follow" were going to be too long in coming for him, and possibly not substantial enough for dinner (which they actually were, but that's another issue). We got about 4 blocks away from the house when AJ fell completely asleep.

We arrived at church and stayed in the parking lot while I was putting last minute touches on some gifts and AJ was sleeping. Eerily, my brother Rusty appeared at my driver's side window. He helped me get the cake to the fellowship hall, and Ben kept AJ company while she slept. I told Rusty that I didn't know what I was going to do about AJ. I was certain she wouldn't sing, but I didn't know how I could keep an absolute meltdown at bay.

"Give her a cookie," he said.

So I wrapped a chocolate chip cookie in a napkin and went down to the sanctuary. I told everyone that AJ was sleeping, and I went through my own preparations. Eventually, I took a deep breath and went to get her from the car.

AJ held tight to my old giant Raggedy Ann doll, and I carried her into the church. AJ was out-of-it, to say the least. Rusty and I presented her with the cookie, which she turned down. I left it on the front right pew, where I was at the time.

The service began. It was beautifully scripted, complete with 9 scripture lessons and tons of Christmas carols. There were elaborate stage directions for when to dim the lights and when to shine them. There were soloists (adult and children) and instrumental pieces. There were lots of congregational hymns, with almost all the verses of each one. It was a very lovely idea.

The kids did well for their part, but they had to go up to the front to perform twice. The first time, AJ reluctantly came up, with Raggedy Ann in tow, but stood and scowled through the whole "Sussex Carol". She went back to sit with her grandparents. The second time, they were to sing "Away in a Manger" and "Bring a Torch". AJ didn't even come forward that time. However, Ida, AJ's buddy, who had not practiced at all, came on down, and she sang every word of "Away in a Manger". I was proud of her lack of inhibition, and wished AJ could have been awake enough to come down, too, knowing how many times we've sung it over the past few weeks.

There was a sweet candlelight portion of the service where we all sang "Silent Night." I looked back and saw AJ's face aglow with candlelight. I knew she was inches away from my mom and dad, wedged safely in between them, but when I saw how her face was shining, I knew that my two-year-old daughter was holding a lit candle in her hands. My anxiety went into overdrive and as I sang about the tranquil nativity, I was secretly having visions of my kid and my church bursting into flames. She was fine, as my parents knew she would be. Later, Ben shared with me that he was having similar thoughts - Dad is a lot bigger of a risk taker than we are!

Sometime during the rest of the (kinda long) service, AJ remembered about the cookie. I saw her running down the aisle towards me on the front left pew, where I'd been directing the kids. I thought, "Ah, she finally wants her mama." But she just asked, "Where's my cookie?" I told her it was by Ms. Anne. So she went over to Anne's pew, which was filled with Anne and three of her kids. Anne, seeing that AJ was wearing only one shoe, thought AJ was looking for her shoe. I looked over and the entire Boyd family had their heads ducked under the pew, looking for the shoe. That was the first time I noticed it, but AJ really was missing her white shoe. It was hard to see under that floor-length dress! But I quickly walked over and told them she wasn't looking for the shoe, she was looking for that cookie! I spotted it and gave it to her.

She ate only one small piece, and then determined that her hands were dirty. Why, in the middle of a religious service, Anna June would decide that she needed to be clean is beyond me. That girl can be sticky for days in a row and not want to wash her hands. But she wanted to. Right then. I had nothing with which to wipe her hands - the cookie was in a paper towel, but it was full of crumbs. There was a box of tissue on the pew I had vacated, but we'd have to walk in front of the performers again. AJ was insisting that we wash her hands. Finally, I just told AJ to go see if her Nana would take her to the bathroom to wash her hands.

Others in the church thought AJ just had a potty emergency when they saw my mom get up and take her to the restrooms in the back. But no, she just had a chocolate chip crisis. After that, AJ was content. She spent at least the last song of the service running up and down the aisle. I was too blocked in by the Boyds to run and catch her, but there were 5 other adults from my family there who were able to help out.

After the service ended, Ben located her missing shoe in the car. That stupid white dress shoe...I meant all fall to go back and get the same pair in black, since when we bought them AJ would have only white. They looked ridiculous next to her black tights, but, well, she's two. Maybe they went with her white sweater. Too late now.

This service of lessons and carols was dedicated this year to the memory of my grandmother, Annette Tucker. There were moments throughout the service where I felt like she was there - from the Raggedy Ann that she gave me so many years ago to when I was waving my arms to get the kids' attention and signaling to the pianist. After my solo, our friend Glenn reached over to me and told me that he felt that she was "alive and well," too. When I saw how happy AJ was, running up and down the aisle during the last song (even though she was misbehaving), I thought that my grandma would have been smiling if she'd been there - so I let it go. Joy to the World!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Surprise!

Anna June had a surprise meet-up with her friend Sipsey last night. We knew the Becks were heading in to town on their way south, but we didn't officially know for sure they'd be at Chick-fil-A at the same time we were. The girls were so excited to see each other! They hugged each other so sweetly and AJ declared, "We missed you!" to Sipsey. They had a great time playing on the indoor playground there - they barely touched their dinners...they couldn't wait to play! It was so much fun to visit with Lauren while the kids played. They've only been gone a little over a month and I already miss them so much. Sipsey turns 3 years old tomorrow! Happy Birthday, Sipsey!!!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Literally

Anna June is super sharp for a kid her age, but sometimes I forget she could take things literally. We were in the midst of a very cold snap on Sunday night, and driving back home, I was complaining. "I'm freezing my tail off!" (I almost said something else, but tried to hold back.)

Anna June started laughing, "Mommy, you don't got a tail!"

That began several minutes of coming up with synonyms for the word "bottom". It was hilarious.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Just a Few More Days Until Christmas

Anna June never ceases to amaze me. Just when I think I have her figured out, she goes and changes on me. Last night on the way home from school, we were talking about Christmas. She told me she didn't want Santa to come to our house, because she didn't like him. I asked why, and she said that she was scared of him. So I told her not to worry - Santa would bring her toys while she was asleep and she wouldn't see him. Then, she said she wanted to see him! Good grief! I hope to keep her occupied, because I don't think she actually wants to go the mall, stand in a line, and then freak out. I asked what she'd ask Santa for if we went to see him. This time, she said, "Candy canes." We can add this to the earlier responses of a lollipop and gum. And a Barbie. And a Mickey Mouse doll.

Who can take her word for anything, though? She told me that she "smelled blue jeans made out of popcorn." What does that even mean? Crazy kid.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Long, Long Time Ago

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Anna June is scared of Santa Claus, and will not be making a special trip to see him. Last week, we went through some of my grandmother's Christmas ornaments, and at the gathering, my grandfather pulled out some old pictures for us to label for him. Here was one that was already labeled: Christmas 1982. That means that Drew was age 3, and I was turning 5. Patrick was about 19 months old then, but probably too little/scared/unpredictable to see Santa.

Since this picture was made 28 years ago, I have no other information about it. I don't know where it was made? Church? Eastwood Mall? Therefore, we have no idea why Santa looks so grumpy, when clearly, I look so happy.

As Anna June gets older, I am starting to think that she looks more like I did when I was a child. But often, when I am asked who she looks most like, I say, "her uncle Drew." Though this expression is not really one that AJ uses very much - she does use it - her suspicious look! And you can tell that her coloring - blond with dark eyes - is much more like Drew's than mine.

I also appreciate that we are not dressed in particularly "Christmas-y" outfits, indicating that a) this visit probably wasn't planned b) the picture wasn't going to be used on a Christmas card c) my grandmother/mother knew that children are cute enough, no matter what they wear and d) we looked comfortable. There's nothing worse than an outfit that looks cute but isn't comfy. I also love my Liberty brand overalls. This brand of overalls was made right here in Birmingham, Alabama, and were used on the television program Hee Haw. I don't think I asked for them specifically at that age, but I was a fan, so I am proud that there's evidence of my support of a local business.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ah, Ah, Choo!

For our Christmas program at church, Anna June is performing three songs with the older children, who happen to all be related. They're singing "Sussex Carol" (a song I had to learn along with them), "Away in a Manger", which AJ knows, and "Bring a Torch".

"Bring a Torch" is a beautiful song, but the title is a little ambiguous - it almost sounds like the children are being asked to bring torches to burn someone/something instead of using the light to come and see the Christ child.

Regardless, the song, whose lyrics can be found here, has a part where we sing, "Ah, Ah, beautiful is the mother, Ah, Ah, beautiful is her Son." Anna June, not being able to read, was listening as I led the Boyd children in singing. She caught on to the "Ah, Ah" part. She said, "Ah, Ah, Choo!" Then I was laughing. I told the Boyds what AJ had said, and then, they were all laughing so much that the pianist had to stop playing and ask why she heard only giggling and no singing. Eventually, we made it through the rehearsal.

In retrospect, it is appropriate that AJ was saying "Ah-Choo" because I've been saying that a lot myself - I've caught her cold. Maybe it will pass quickly.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Back in the Swing of Things

Anna June returned to school yesterday, and in spite of coughing a lot at nap time, she had a good day. Well, except for that when I picked her up, she was in "time out". The teacher had told AJ and the other girl to pick up their toys, but AJ said, "No." She was talked to several times about this by her dad and me, so maybe today is going better.

But I can tell she's back in the swing of things because she was randomly bursting into songs from her Christmas program. "Feliz Navidad!" she sang while brushing her teeth. "Rocking around the Christmas Tree," she hollered in the bathtub. I can't wait until their program. I am sure I'm more excited than the kids.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Grinch

Anna June is well enough to return to daycare today. When I brought her in, I saw they'd be reading the Dr. Seuss classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas today. This could not be more perfect, as I was already contemplating my very own "Bah, Humbug!" post this morning. So here goes. Warning: this is not really about AJ, so if you want to skip it, go ahead.

My friend at work has 2 kids, ages almost 6 and 11. She has little family in the area and is constantly searching for "fun" things to do with her kids. For her, Christmas time is pure madness. She's always coming up to me and telling me that I "gotta" try this or that because the kids loved it. I may take some of her advice when Anna June is older, but right now, just about every suggestion she comes up with seems absolutely ridiculous. I had just seen a "Keep Christ in Christmas" sticker on a car, and she came in asking me the best place to see Santa in Birmingham - the Galleria is too crowded, etc. I did a Google search for her, but that's basically what I came up with. Meanwhile, I told her that AJ is scared of Santa Claus and we won't be joining the crowds this year. She told me I should start an anti-Christmas blog, since I seem to be such a kill-joy. I told her, of course, that I already have a blog, and that was an excellent idea. Sort of.

Here are some things that I will not do to celebrate the season.

1. Visit Santa in person. If he shows up at a Christmas party at AJ's school or something like that, we'll see, but we're not making a special trip. She was terrified last year, and I'm not putting her through that for a picture. There's a whole website devoted to terrible Santa pictures here.

2. Get a live Christmas tree. We tried that before AJ was born. The scent was nice. The needles that dropped on our floor were not nice (and that was when we had hardwoods at our rental house - getting needles out of carpet is not fun). It falling off the top of the car was not nice. Trying to find a good way to dispose of it afterward was not nice. So we have an artificial tree. And forget permanently the idea of going out to the country to cut down our own. We live in the city and there are nice big trucks that bring in perfectly fine trees, so if AJ ever talks us into getting a live tree, we'll borrow a pick up truck and go to the lot down the street, not a Christmas tree farm.

3. Outdoor decorations. Those are usually tacky, involve lots of work and electricity, cause safety hazards, and must be taken down in a timely fashion or the neighbors complain. We will not be calling attention to our yard in this way. Also, it is cold outside. Who wants to string up lights or an inflatable snowman when it is cold. We will drive around to look at other people's displays, but I will not be doing that.

4. Hosting a gathering. We've done this before, too. With working full-time, and now having a child, it will be too difficult to find time to prepare the house to my satisfaction in order to have a handful of people come over for a brief period of time. There are too many other parties going on. I can think of 3 I've been invited to - all hosted by stay-at-home-moms. We will be terrific guests, but we don't need to be hosts right now.

5. Crafts. Any paper bag Santa puppets, candy cane reindeer, or cotton ball snowmen will have to be constructed at school or church. I have no aptitude for crafts or creativity of any sort in that area. My expertise lies right here on this page, folks. Words. Usually about me. That's about all I do. Well, I bake a little.

6. Listen to Christmas music before Thanksgiving. That's just wrong. Unless you're in rehearsal, then it is necessary.

7. Elf on the Shelf. If you're not aware of this phenomenon, it's OK. I wasn't, either, until all my friends magically knew about it and it happened in their homes. If understand correctly, basically, it is a book that tells that Santa sends an Elf (disguised as a toy) to help Santa figure out who has been naughty and who has been nice. The elf often causes mischief in the home, and often leaves presents for the kids. I think this is overboard. A "Christmas Tradition" that has only been around since 2005 is just marketing.

8. Matching Christmas sweaters. Forget about it. We may all end up wearing red or something but we're not doing that! I also will not be buying AJ special Christmas pajamas again (I don't want her to end up wearing them in February) or Santa outfits. She has so many beautiful, seasonally appropriate clothes, there is no need to go out and buy a candy cane dress or a Santa ruffle pant set.

As you can see, I am taking a page from my own extremely wise and practical mother and trying to make things a little simpler. After all, if I'm not having fun, chances are that no one else will, either, so in order for my family to enjoy the holidays, I don't think the above objections are out of line. You can keep your hand-made cards with personalized notes in each one and your homemade gifts. I'm shopping online, and keeping sane.

Here are some things that we WILL be doing.

1. Putting up our fake tree with special ornaments.

2. Listening to Christmas music, but not non-stop.

3. Preparing for a visit from Santa. (I have never and will never call Santa Claus "Ho Ho" for my child's sake.) Santa, of course, cannot bring everything that AJ will ask for. That's why she has so many grandparents.

4. Attending Christmas parties and programs, including singing in church.

5. Baking and cooking special treats - I can't pass up an opportunity for that.

6. Sending photo Christmas cards. I used to think this was obnoxious until I had my own beautiful kid. I love seeing pictures of my friends' kids - from Pennsylvania to Alaska - even if it is just once a year. Plus, we have a good photographer and everyone seems to love the pictures we send, too.

7. Reading special Christmas stories, including the real Christmas story from the Bible, preferably Luke 2:1-14 from the King James Version, as I memorized when I was a child. And In the Desert One Christmas Eve, of course. I tried reading AJ The Night Before Christmas the other day and she wasn't really interested.

8. Spending lots of time with our family and friends - something even the Grinch couldn't take away.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

Anna June is celebrating her Daddy's birthday today. Ben's not very big on birthdays. He is pretty big on being a dad, though. He stayed home (unpaid) yesterday to take care of Anna June, which included everything from getting her up in the morning, feeding her, dressing her, and taking her to the doctor. She had yet another bad night last night, complete with a half-hour screaming fit that ended with her sleeping on the floor beside our bed, and then, a few hours later, with her in our bed. We're both just as bleary eyed as when AJ was first born.

But AJ made Ben a birthday card, and helped me bake brownies from a mix last night for the occasion. Hopefully, this evening, we'll all feel well enough to celebrate a little.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Not All Better

Anna June is still sick. Yesterday, she registered her fourth day with fever. Her daddy is staying home with her today. But to cheer everyone up, here's another picture of AJ from our fantastic photo shoot.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Negotiations and Cold Medicine

Anna June is sick. Yesterday, her daycare called to tell me she had a temp of 101.4. Because it was so close to the weekend, and since she hadn't been acting like her normal self, they suggested I call the pediatrician. They were able to work me in right before they took their lunch, so that meant calling from the car, picking AJ up, and whisking her to the doc. Although lab work was done, they were unable to find strep, flu, or even a real elevated white count. In other words, the cold she's had for a while probably ran down her immune system enough to catch a little fever virus on top of it. Treat the symptoms with alternating Tylenol and Motrin, and give lots of fluids. This, of course, is what I would have done any way, but I guess it was worth the co-pay to know that she doesn't need antibiotics just yet - her lungs, ears, and throat appeared to be infection-free for now. The doctor did tell us, though, that it was OK to use the "cold medicine" prescription for NutraHist we had called in for her last time along with the pain relievers.

To be honest, AJ looked pitiful yesterday. Her teachers were worried. We had to see another doctor in the practice because Dr. Walley was booked, but he and Dr. Blair came walking through the waiting room on their way to lunch, and they saw how terrible she looked and stopped to check on her.

We did our usual post-doctor's visit trip to McDonald's drive-through (neither of us had eaten lunch) but by the time we got home, AJ didn't even want to eat. Basically, I got some meds down her and then she napped for 2.5 hours. This, of course, is unusual for her.

Knowing she napped so long and so late, we knew bedtime would be a struggle, but it actually wasn't that bad. When we were potty training AJ, we developed a "2+1" system. She gets two stories, but if she'll go to the potty, she can get another one. Last night, she asked to skip the third story and go right to bed. I thought, "This will not end well," as I had been taking the fluids part of the prescription pretty seriously. Surprisingly, though, she didn't wet her bed. Instead, she woke up around 3 am, and made it to the potty just in time. She remembered the cause and effect. While seated on the throne, she said, "I didn't go tee-tee before bed last night. That was just a mistake!"

Hopefully, we'll both learn from the mistake. By my estimates, it took nearly 2 hours for her to get back to sleep. I read her the third story, after all, (which may have woken her up more), and ended up giving her the cold medicine again and playing her lullaby CD. Eventually, she slept, although I know she was frustrated.

We have a day of watching movies ahead of us. If you want to get in touch with us, please call our cell phones - our home phone is on hiatus.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Double Bubble

So, I asked Anna June what she would like for Christmas.

"Gum," she said.

Yesterday, we had to run by the store, because we were out of whole milk. In our town, whole milk comes with a red top. AJ had a fit yesterday morning because we didn't have any "red milk". I agreed we needed some and gave her the choice as to whether we should stop by Winn-Dixie or Publix. (Ridiculously, we pass by both grocery stores on the way home from school, in addition to Rite-Aid and CVS.) Sorry, Aunt Beth, she picked Winn-Dixie!

I asked AJ what else she thought we needed besides milk.

"Gum," she said.

On Halloween, AJ experienced chewing gum for the first time, and she is now hooked. I, arbitrarily, told her she needed to wait until she was 3, but a piece slipped by me out of her loot bucket and that was the end of that rule. She did great with the first two pieces, and swallowed the third one. She was MAJORLY upset by the swallowing - she knew she wasn't supposed to and had been informed that it stays in one's stomach for seven years. Serious crying ensued. But now she's back on the horse, so to speak. We got milk and gum, and were out of the store pretty quickly, AJ stopping to tell the cashier, "I got gum!"

I made her wait until after dinner to chew a piece, and then, I had to wrestle it away from her at bath time. I know it is a matter of time before it ends up in her hair, but I'll try to keep an eye on it.

So now we have some, but Santa better be bringing some more gum!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Can't Help Myself

I did have a really hard time deciding which of Anna June's great Christmas photos to put on our card this year. Now that they've been printed, I feel safer putting another one up for you to see.

I think she gets prettier every day.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Like an Elephant

Anna June, I am starting to think, never forgets anything.

Months ago, she had a stomach virus. While Ben was cleaning, I sat down in a chair with AJ in my lap to console her. The chair, it just so happens, is a rocking chair and I involuntarily started to rock. At that moment, AJ realized the motion would not be friendly to her upset tummy and asked not to be rocked.

Last night, she was very distressed at bedtime and stalled by asking to be held. I put her up on my lap in the rocking chair. She was fine for a few minutes, but then declared, "Don't rock me. I might throw up."

Sure thing, butter bean.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Tis the Season

Anna June is learning about Christmas, and both the secular and religious traditions associated with it. At church on Sunday, we were chosen to light the Advent wreath together. She wanted to be the one to light it. Visions of my beloved church going up in flames kept me with my hand on the "lighter" candle as she tried to help me. She wasn't quite tall enough, and eventually, I had to take over. I let her blow out the white candle we used to light the purple candle with, and I asked her to lay it down on the altar rail at the front of the church. She refused. I asked again. She refused again. Instead of having a fight, I picked her up and carried her, candle and all back to our pew. It's a good thing everyone thinks she's adorable.

One trick that many parents have used as a great stalling tactic is the hope of a visit from Santa. Whenever we're out and about, and AJ sees a toy or something she wants, I tell her that no, I can't buy that, but maybe she could ask Santa for it. Her list keeps growing, and changing every day. I started too early. Santa is going to need an extra sleigh. Last night, she asked for owl pajamas. Seriously? Owl pajamas? Dora and Spongebob jammies have been mentioned before, as well as apple jammies (she has some, but is sort of outgrowing them). Dora and Spongebob may be do-able. Owls? "Maybe I can ask Santa," she said.

On the other hand, in the car on Saturday, we were talking about baseball, and how AJ does not yet have a bat and ball set. Ben was angling for her to want a wiffle ball set from Santa. When she said she didn't have one, she said, "Maybe Granny Annie can send me one." Who needs Santa when you have a grandmother? Or six!

Personally, I am thinking a lot about Christmas, but I am not ready to do anything about it like bake, decorate, or shop. Just thinking about it and talking about it is about all I can do. We drove past a Christmas tree lot and Anna June declared, "I love Christmas trees!" But when I dropped her off at school, she asked her teacher, "Why do we have a Christmas tree?" The teacher replied, "Because it is Christmas time!" Well, it's not even December yet. Please give me a break. I'll get around to it.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

No Pictures, Please


Anna June and her daddy recently built a "tent" with the use of our ironing board. She also recently decided that she does not like having her picture made. Sorry, paparazzi. But I have been uploading some more of her pictures from this fall into our Picasa web album. You can access it here. Many of these you've seen here on the blog, but I am sure there are some you haven't. I'm not done, either. Technical difficulties (i.e., AJ refusing to nap) have prevented me from getting them all up. I will eventually. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sleepyhead

Yesterday, Anna June didn't want to get up. I wasn't surprised, but I tried to be sympathetic.

"Anna June, you have to get up now."
"I don't want to get up."
"I know. I didn't want to get up either. But you have to go to school, and I have to go to work. At least you get nap time at your school."
"At least you have a bed at your work," Anna June offered.
"Actually, I don't have a bed. I have a couch. I guess I could take a nap on the couch, but I'd probably get in trouble if I took a nap when I was supposed to be working."
"Yeah. Your boss would put you in time out!"

If I was lucky!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Today

This is a picture of Anna June and my Grandma Annette. Grandma loved her in this little hat!

Today is our late grandmother's birthday. I have been struggling. I even struggled to write that sentence. How does one mark the birthday of one no longer with us? It "would have been" her birthday? It "is" her birthday? I went to bed last night and woke up this morning with tears in my eyes.

I have written much about the loss of my grandmother. If you missed those posts, they are here, here, and most recently, here. But words still cannot describe, so many months later, the deep and intense loss my family and I feel.

Grandma's birthday was always tricky. Because she was born on Thanksgiving, we usually celebrated it with the holiday, throwing in a cake and a card amongst the myriad of desserts available anyway. We never knew what to get Grandma for her birthday. She loved to shop and always had what she wanted/needed. One year, I talked the boys into "going in with me" to get her tickets to see the Alabama Symphony Orchestra perform Handel's Messiah. I got to go with her, of course, so it was in the end, a present for me, too. I remember asking the lady on the phone if we could have an aisle seat, as Grandma wasn't great at walking at that point. I was so sad to ask that question, but it worked out. We had fabulous seats and had a wonderful time. She talked all the way home about the solo trumpet. He was marvelous. I thought about this last night, as someone from the symphony called to try to sell me some tickets. It was that performance that put me on their mailing list. For all their shiny marketing materials, I haven't been back yet.

Sometimes, I want so much to tell her things, to show her things, to get her to listen to things, and remember suddenly, sadly, that I can't. I know she would be delighted by Anna June's Christmas dress - it is beautiful, feminine, and extravagant on top of being a generous and fantastic gift from Annie. She would definitely approve, except she'd be upset she didn't get it herself. I know she'd like the new children's minister at our church, Anne, who is sweet and from a high-church background. She would be so excited Anne decided to join the church this week. Grandma would be very happy to see that Liz and Ben are in graduate school, and that Rusty and Beth are having so much success with their restaurant. She would be a little worried at Patrick traveling so much, but excited about his opportunities. She would be very, very proud of Drew and his vast antiques knowledge, even though she may disagree on the finer points, such as dollar values of specific items.

At home, recently, I started crying. Apparently, I do this a lot. Anna June looked at me and asked, "Why are you crying? Are you sad about your Granny?" Yes. Yes, I am.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sneak Peek

While I am still working on selecting which of the awesome photos of Anna June to use for our Christmas card, I will give you this one a sneak peek of our session. I cannot thank Ruth Kennedy enough for coming to the house and capturing AJ's personality at this interesting and sometimes trying age. We decided to go outside for a bit to get some natural light, and Anna June enjoyed blowing bubbles to pass the time.

This weekend was busy, as usual. On Saturday, AJ and I went to the McWane Center and then tried to come home to nap, but failed. Then I did our Thanksgiving grocery shopping while Ben and AJ watched a video. Later, we took AJ to my parents' house while we went out. She didn't get to bed until 10:00! On Sunday, AJ helped me make sweet potato casserole for our church's Thanksgiving dinner. We again tried napping and failed. We called Grandpa on the computer, and then steeled ourselves for a few errands we had to run. We were in the car for less than ten minutes before AJ fell asleep. It took some creative problem solving ("You stay in the car while I run in,") but we let her sleep until we got home about an hour later. A nap was, in the long run, what she needed.

She had a great time playing with her toys. Her imagination is growing every day. She pretended her pelican toy (which has a string like a leash) was a dog. She pretended to take her baby doll Heather to school "to the baby class." I helped her clean her room and clean out some of her toys, dolls, and books. Sadly, she's outgrowing a few things, and we're gathering them up to pass along. Anna June helped in this process, because she was informed that if Santa saw how many toys she had, he wouldn't come this year.

Because of the late nap (and perhaps the strangeness of a straightened-up room), Anna June took a while to go to bed. "Mommy, I can't sleep!" was heard more than a few times last night. But we had a good weekend.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Wait for Ben!

Anna June is experiencing a new type of separation anxiety - she's worried that others will be left behind. I started the car the other day before Ben was in it, and she was very concerned that I would leave without him.

This morning, we carpooled. Ben was still strapping AJ in her car seat when I started the car. Technically, he was in the car, but not all the way. Anna June, panicked, hollered, "Don't leave!" I assured her that I would not move the car until Ben was all the way in.

A few minutes later, when we arrived at daycare, Ben was chosen as the parent to accompany AJ inside (it's quite an honor, you know). So I opened my car door and she came around to kiss me goodbye. I closed my door, watching as she was about to walk away. She seemed very anxious, so I rolled down my window to ask what was wrong. She told me, with a very serious look, "Wait for Ben!" I told her I was not going to leave without him, and she relaxed a little, walking off into the building with her dad, who was not going to be forgotten.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Comparison - How Time Flies

Anna June at 7 months: 2008 school photo


Anna June at 19 months: 2009 school photo


Anna June at 2 1/2 (or, 31 months, if you prefer): 2010 school photo

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Class Photo

Anna June, on picture day, got to experience one of the wonderful and terrifying traditions of schools everywhere: the class photo. Of course, at age 2, it is not terrifying, but as kids get older there's the anxiety of having to be perfectly still and to not be the one kid who messes up the picture.

Unfortunately, Anna June hasn't learned to "sit like a lady" yet, so I guess she's the kid messing up the picture. Thank goodness for skorts. I'm not buying this (now that I've scanned it in!). Also, next year I will remember in advance that not all the school pictures are from the waist up, and pay more attention to things like her shoes and tights. I may have made different selections if I had the presence of mind to recall the group shot!

I will tell you the order of those pictured, though, since I am apt to forget years down the road:
(left to right, back to front)
Miss Susan, Miss Jalissa, and Miss Ashton
Garvey, Lily, Sophie Belle, Brooke
Anna June, Amber, Drew

They are all so sweet! Garvey, Amber and Drew always come over and hug me or talk to me when I come to school. Brooke has an older sister and knows how to defend herself. Drew, of course, is one of AJ's sweetest and best friends and loves to play. Lily is AJ's new good buddy - they get in trouble for talking at nap time all the time. Sophie Belle is a new addition to AJ's class - she is very sweet as well. Anna June talks about all of her friends constantly. So now you can put faces with names.

Illegal Smile



Although I'm not setting the best example for Anna June, I am in the habit of stealing pictures, especially when they have my child in them. The owner of these photographs at this time is currently LifeTouch Pictures. They came and took AJ's school pictures, and they have a very sneaky marketing model: They send you sheets of pictures, and you pay by the sheet. There are some sheets with smaller pictures and some, like these, of 8x10. You pay for what you want and then bring the rest back (where, of course, they're destroyed). You can also order additional prints.

So, grandparents and great-grandparents, please let me know if there's one of these poses that you especially do/do not like, because we're saving them for you, but I don't want to save one you don't want. In other words, please place your "order" now. We're buying them, alright, but probably not all of them. Also, keep in mind that the winter/holiday pictures and cards will be on the way next month: we had our photo session with my dear friend and fantastic photographer Ruth Kennedy on Sunday. I'm way more excited about those than I am about these, although I think these came out well.

I also wanted to acknowledge the wisdom of Miss Ashton, Anna June's teacher. She quickly pulled back AJ's hair (just twisting it, not putting it in a rubber band), so that her mullet would not show. This gives you an idea of how Anna June would look with her hair pulled back or, dare I say it? - cut shorter.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Happy Birthday, Lizzie

(Photo by Allison Mee, via Facebook, used without permission)

On Saturday, Anna June attended a birthday party for our friend Lizzie. Lizzie's mom, pictured above, happens to be named June. When we arrived at the party, Lizzie's family members were delighted by Anna June's name. They thought it was the best name ever in the history of the world, and I didn't disagree.

Lizzie and AJ have a lot in common besides their curly hair. They like riding toys and dressing up. They also like cupcakes and craft time. Hopefully, we can get these two princesses together to play again soon.

You can see Anna June and Olivia in the background. These girls are growing up!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Seeing Through the Marketing

Sunday found us up pretty early. After breakfast, we found ourselves with a Dr. Pepper emergency on our hands. AJ wanted to help me go to the grocery store, so we went before church. At a Coca-Cola display, Anna June found Santa Claus. "Santa Claus is drinking a soda, Mama." At first, I was sad, because she didn't call it a coke. We call all soda "coke" here. It is just a local thing. Then, we walked a little further, and, as if she had thought about it, she said, "Mama, Santa Claus doesn't drink soda. He drinks milk!"

Friday, November 12, 2010

Progress

This week, Anna June's class has been studying farm animals. I often wonder why preschool curriculum focuses so much on the farm, seeing as how we're in the city, but I guess that cars and buildings don't have the same appeal. They also don't "Moo."

As you can see, AJ is really making progress with her coloring skills. She's developing her coordination with every piece of artwork. As you can also probably tell, she's finding it as an outlet of expression. In other words, she colored the heck out of this picture. It looks like she had some big-time aggression to release in this piece. I have no idea what made her so intense in coloring this barn, but she meant it!

When I pulled this out of her cubbyhole yesterday, (before I saw the tiny yellow "AJ" in the corner), I asked her, "Did you color this?"

She said, "I took my time!"

So yes, she colored it, and yes, she spent more time on it. I'm proud of her for developing her attention span, as well.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Wisdom of AJ??

This is a picture Anna June colored at church of Solomon, who, as you may be able to see at the top, wrote 3,000 proverbs. AJ isn't usually very profound, but lately, she's been coming up with some gems.

On Monday, I was helping with the UAB Research Core Day. I got up on time and put on my new suit and did my hair. At breakfast, I asked Anna June how I looked, honestly not knowing what would come out of her mouth. She said, "You look glowing." No, I'm not pregnant, but I definitely took it as a compliment!

AJ and naps are still enemies. I promise that when it is clear she has dropped her nap I will no longer go on and on about it, but Ben can attest that a nap is absolutely critical to the success of our day, and our night, as she doesn't sleep well when she's overtired. She needs to try to nap, at least, every day, because without that rest period (and even sometimes with it) she can be a holy terror. On Saturday, she was so wound up from our Fall Festival that she did not nap. At one point she asked, "Mommy, why are you crying?" And the first thing out of my mouth was, "Because you didn't take a nap!" Later I asked Ben if that was too harsh - would I burden my child with undue guilt forever over a simple comment? She takes things to heart and memory, you know. But his response was that she simply ignored it, like all the other things I told her.

Yesterday, when I saw on her daily report that she again did not nap, I asked her about it. "NO NAP, Anna June?" She looked at me and reported, "I twied!" Pretty soon she'll learn how to pronounce all her letters, and protesting will no longer be as cute.

Last night, AJ wanted to re-institute our indoor picnics, so we did. While we were eating, she held up two fingers (a recently acquired skill) and said that we were going to see Granny Annie in 2 months. I started talking to her about her other grandparents she would see up there as well. She said, "I have lots of grandmas." I said, "Yes, you do." She said, "I have your grandma and my grandmas." I said, "Yes, you do." I started thinking once again about how much I miss my Grandma Annette, and before I could complete my thought, Anna June said, "Your grandma is in your heart!" I don't know where she got that from, but it was the sweetest thing she could have possibly said.

Who knows what insights she will have for me today?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

What Time Is It?

Anna June is learning about the concept of time. She knows things should happen at certain times, although sometimes she gets those wildly wrong. She's also learning that sometimes, like today, we run late.

Since I took off my watch this morning to wash some dishes and never put it back on, I just caught myself looking at my bare arm like an idiot. That reminded me of the story Ms. Susan told me this morning:

Yesterday, the class was coloring pictures of cows. Some kids aren't interested in coloring so Ms. Susan has to remind them to "take their time" when working on their pictures. One little girl, Amber, was coloring carefully. She is one of the older girls in her class, and has developed great coloring skills - often staying inside the lines. She recently celebrated her 3rd birthday, and got a fabulous Hannah Montana watch that she always wears. Ms. Susan was praising Amber for "taking her time" coloring such a nice picture. Anna June then walked over to Amber, looked at her watch, and asked her, "What time is it?"

Amber checked her watch and then looked up at Anna June and said, sincerely, "I don't know!"

AJ's teachers have laughed about this all night and had to tell me this morning. I'm sure part of it was how they said it. I hope in print it is funny, too.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

O-R-A-N-G-E

Anna June is learning lots of things at school. Besides a weekly theme, each week they also focus on a new letter of the alphabet, and each month, they learn about a new color. Now that it is November, we've moved onto brown, but in October, the color was orange.

Nothing in the English language rhymes with the word orange, but someone cleverly set a song about the color orange to the tune of "Ten Little Indians". Anna June has been singing it constantly. In fact, if our beach trip had a soundtrack this would probably be it:

O-R-A-N-G-E,
O-R-A-N-G-E,
O-R-A-N-G-E,
Orange is what that spells.
Jack-o-lanterns are always orange,
Carrots are always orange,
Oranges are always orange
O-R-A-N-G-E!

Although the song got a little tiresome, especially when AJ was bored and made up other words and iterations, it is pretty cool to have a two year old who can spell orange!

Monday, November 8, 2010

It Made My Day


Anna June has had her ups and downs lately, but occasionally she'll come up with something that absolutely makes my day.

On Thursday night, Anna June and I were eating dinner while Ben was in class. We had talked about a lot of details of her day. Then, at a break in the conversation, she asked, "What did you do at work today?"

I was taken aback at this concern outside of herself. This is not something that preschoolers do too often, and certainly, it was one of the most "grown-up" conversational questions she had ever asked. I ended up stammering that I worked on the computer, checked my e-mail and had a sandwich for lunch. She was OK with that. But the asking of the question made my day. Or, in internet speak IMMD (It Made My Day). There's a whole website dedicated to people posting their little moments of "win", found here.

The pictures above are courtesy of Anne Boyd, our church's children's minister. She snapped the pictures on Saturday during our Fall Festival. We had the event to raise money for The Turner Syndrome Society. A little girl whose family attends our church has been diagnosed with the disorder and her mom is working hard to raise awareness and money for research. With the whole event, we raised over $1200, which was also due in large part to help from Rusty's BBQ, who sold food - a big moneymaker. Since Krista, the mom who is raising the funds, is a yoga instructor, she had a friend conduct a couple of yoga classes. Anna June participated in the kids' yoga demonstration. She's in the purple jogging suit, sort of on the left. She had fun pretending to be various animals - especially becoming a butterfly from a cocoon. Fittingly, the butterfly is the symbol for the Turner Syndrome Society.

Coincidentally, AJ was very tired the next day and did not want to go to church. She said, "Is the bouncy thing still there?" I told her no, that was only there for a special event. She stuck to her decision not to want to go. She even said, "I'm not giving up." But we went anyway - and were there early to boot.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Homework


At the beginning of the school year, Anna June's teachers gave her some "homework" which consisted of take-home worksheets. We haven't been given any in a while - I'm not sure if other parents complained or if they just gave up. AJ did well on her worksheets, but I had to make her do them - she wasn't really excited about homework. Until one day, I decided to show her that her daddy has to do homework, too! So we all sat down together, Ben to read (bless his heart - he didn't get much done with us there), and AJ on my lap to do her worksheet.

A couple of weeks ago, though, Ben sat down at the kitchen table to study and Anna June decided she wanted to do some homework, too. Coloring in her coloring books was insufficient. So I grabbed the first thing handy - this Walgreen's ad - and told her to circle all the numbers she saw. Unfortunately, she did it in colored pencil instead of marker, so it is sort of hard to see, but she made an attempt and it kept her occupied for a few minutes.

Speaking of homework, it is possible that Ben will have a lot more of it in the next few years. He's been officially admitted to The Graduate School at UAB and in January can switch from being a "non-degree seeking graduate student" to a real, official student after his master's in History. Congratulations!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Like Oil and Water


Since Anna June's Granny Annie asked about the oil on the beach in an earlier post, I thought I should address what we saw.


My dad reported that if we built a sandcastle, we should only dig up to 6 inches down, because the way they "cleaned up" was basically to throw more sand over the oil. I didn't see signs to that effect, though, so I'm not sure where he got his information. Dad spotted some blobs in the water but Mom and I maintain that they were all driftwood (based on one that we saw up close on the shore). Dad also stated that the residue on the water line was oil-related, but I think it was just bits of dirt, wood, seaweed, etc. - normal detritus.

However, we went down earlier on Sunday morning than we did on Saturday, and it seemed like the sand was dirtier and harder to wash off our feet, so there was probably some oil in there. In fact, you can sort of see a line of blacker sand in one of the pictures above. We're guessing it is oil-related. But there wasn't any visible sheen or anything like that on the water.

The ocean is vast and resilient. But some terrible things have happened, and are still happening. In fact, my neighbor posted a link to this article talking about animal deaths directly and indirectly related to the spill. The numbers are devastating, but I don't know what they were on a regular, pre-Deepwater Horizon day.

Not to downplay the magnitude of the accident, but really, compared to how many billions of gallons of water are in the Gulf, the oil spill will, overall, not be that damaging in the long run. It will take some time to clean up, but in a few years it will be completely back to a new normal.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Power


When it was time to leave daycare yesterday, Anna June noticed that the light in the stairwell was turned off. She begged me to turn it back on. I told her, "It's not super dark in here. You can still see." But her response was, "It IS super, super dark in here." So I turned on the light for her.

On the way down the stairs, I explained about the power company sending us bills based on how much electricity we used. She appeared to be listening, but since that's a concept even over my head (according to Ben, who questions why I have every light in the house on) she didn't really get it.

As soon as we arrived home, I noticed our kitchen was darker than usual. Our power was out. AJ heard me say this and I thought she understood, but when she flipped on a light switch and nothing happened, she started crying. Poor thing - I wasn't in the best mood, either.

Of course, I have no idea how long it had been out, nor did I know when it would be back on. So my dreams of washing clothes and fixing dinner were crushed. Instead, they turned into the much better scenario of going to my parents' house, eating dinner, and then coming home to a well-lit house.

This is the second time in less than 2 weeks our plans have been totally changed for the better by a power outage. Last Monday, on my mom's actual birthday, Rusty had planned to visit her because he wasn't able to come to her party, but since her power was out for about 26 hours, that plan was shot. Mom brought the food in her fridge to my house so it wouldn't spoil, and then Rusty came and we all went out for Thai food. Actually, since they were still without power, Mom stayed afterward to help me fix a casserole (which was ultimately heading to a homeless shelter). That's my mom for you - even on her special day, and even when she was the one who was having the bad luck, she was helping others. Thanks again, Mom!

So when our power was out, Anna June immediately said what I was thinking: "We should go to Nana's house!" You know, to return the favor. Except I did nothing altruistic - I drank wine, watched TV, ate a dinner I didn't cook or clean up from, and even had Dad give AJ her bath. Of course, when we came home I was exhausted from all that relaxation!

Anna June was exhausted, too. I gave her the choice of (going to the bathroom and then) having one more story vs. going straight to bed, and she chose to go straight to bed. What a great, unplanned night!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Beach




Anna June went to the beach in October 2008, when she was only 7 months old. We had a fantastic trip, but shortly afterward, our home was burglarized and our digital camera was stolen. Of course, it had the only pictures taken of AJ on the beach in her bathing suit! To this day, that is what upsets me the most about all of the things we lost, even though we've got thousands of pictures of Anna June that are just fine.

This trip, I wanted to be more proactive in getting the pictures uploaded. You know, just in case.

So here they are: the first pictures of AJ on the beach in existence. These are with Granddaddy and Nana, of course. When I showed these to her on the computer last night, I asked AJ who those people were. She said, "Renee and Jerry." I am sure it is from being around adults all weekend who referred to them as such, but I hope she goes back to calling them Nana and Granddaddy. Soon.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween Recap




I will say more about Anna June's second trip to Florida later in the week, but for now, I will just say that she had a fun time dressing up as Dora the Explorer for two days of Halloween celebration.

Ben and I decided this year to assist AJ with her Halloween costume decision, and we went for a very cute Dora outfit, bought before Ben left Party Time. At the moment, AJ was very in to Dora and even wore the costume to Chick-fil-A on the night we brought it home. Closer to the big day, though, she changed her mind. She said she wanted to dress up as a princess. I was fine with that, due to the proliferation of princess paraphernalia around our house. Then, she changed to a ballerina. Well, we had things that could pass for a ballerina costume as well, so I was OK with that. Then, at dinner on Thursday night, she announced she wanted to be a kitty cat. I had just read an article about last-minute costumes and I thought, well, I can do that. She can be a cat. I'm flexible like that. It was better than the other two ideas she'd had during the week: a bear and a "fire chicken". I have no idea what a fire chicken is, but I knew that wasn't an option.

So, after asking AJ about fifty times if she was sure she wanted to be a cat, we trekked to Dollar Tree to get some black eyeliner and a couple of other things to make a costume. I rushed home and added some black "ears" to a headband - this involved cutting and coloring things: things I do not do well - and was about to attach a black fabric belt to a black t-shirt but decided to go ahead and show AJ how she'd look with whiskers and a black-colored nose. She loved the look - she was so excited. But she tried to wash off the face paint herself, and she got soap up her nose. The poor exhausted child couldn't take it any more and started screaming! We had a full-out meltdown. Later, when I talked to her about being a cat, she declared that she would not be cat! So after some negotiating that lasted until she went to bed and resumed when she woke up, we were back to our original plan: Dora.

On Friday, AJ had a "Fall Party" at school, and the kids paraded around the daycare in their Halloween costumes. They had a blast. Since she was already in costume, this allowed me to forget to pack the backup ballerina costume, and that was all we had - so she had no chance to change her mind. Also, her costume was very well-received at the party. All the kids in her class love Dora, and they couldn't get over the attached Backpack with Map - it's one thing to see it on TV but to be able to touch it in person was quite another. The costume also came with a Dora wig and shoe covers, but AJ didn't want to wear those parts. We went with it, as I didn't want to tote them around if we convinced her to wear them and then she changed her mind later.

On Saturday night, in Florida, there was a big trick-or-treating event at Baytowne Warf. I had no idea what this place was like. In a word: crowded. There must have been 10,000 people there, mostly in costume, walking around getting candy from all the vendors in the cute shops there. Anna June got candy a-plenty. This was really the first time she's done serious trick-or-treating, as the other two years have been basically confined to trips to relatives houses. Most of all, AJ enjoyed spending time with my youngest cousins, Claire and Ella, who thought having AJ around was like having a live baby doll. They were both so sweet to her!

If we're in town next year, there will be more stuff to do, as AJ will "get it" a little better: Trunk-or-treats, pumpkin patches (which are apparently mandatory) and Boo at the Zoo. I'm already scouting out costumes for things that she likes now, but I know better than to buy ahead of time! Maybe we'll be out shopping on October 30th next year!