Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tantrum City

Anna June threw a very long tantrum this morning because she claimed her socks were crooked. That is all.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Zoom, Zoom

Anna June is too young to have much of a concept of time. This is unfortunate, since she often dawdles, and we have to hurry her along. I try to impress on her what "being late" is and that late is not something that I wish to be. I get her to march around the house, or crawl like a kitty cat, or do any sort of thing that gets her attention and makes her move where I need her to move. If necessary, I'm not above carrying her, but I don't like the accompanying tantrums.

Lately, in order to get her to hurry, I've decided to tell her that we need to "Zoom, zoom!" a la the Mazda commercial. She has sort of latched on to this. Some mornings, I tell her we need to hurry, and she will look at me and pout, "But I don't want to zoom zoom, Mommy!" Usually, I don't, either.

Today, she did pretty well, waking up when I first asked her and complying with aspects of breakfast and grooming for the most part. I didn't even have to ask her to zoom zoom today.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Funniest Moment of the Weekend

On Saturday, shortly after the carpets were cleaned - and they look great, by the way - I was on the phone with my grandfather and bragging on how great AJ was doing at potty training. I said, of course, that I'd probably jinx it.

Shortly thereafter, we went to my parents' house and left AJ while Ben and I went out to eat at Zea Rotisserie. We brought home leftovers - it was so good. We picked up AJ to discover that she has acquired a taste for tonic water. Mom and Dad had been giving her more and more during the night. Mom admitted she forgot to remind AJ about the potty, and there was one pair of wet panties in a plastic bag for us to bring home.

Sunday, I was getting lunch ready and moved my leftovers out of the way to pull out some food. There was a smaller plastic bag in my way. I didn't remember putting it there so I opened it to check...it was the panties!!!

Ben admits he is the culprit. If we're this bad in our thirties, though, God help Anna June when we're old.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

So What Did You Do Today?

Anna June has had a great day so far. We woke up pretty early and she watched The Backyardigans. Then we actually went into our own backyard (with bug spray) to play in the sandbox for a while. Then, we went to the library, where AJ got a "brand new backpack" from the summer reading program. I put that in quotes because she has mentioned it at least twenty times. We'd pick out a book to bring home and she'd ask, "Mommy, can I put this in my BRAND NEW BACKPACK?" We admired our freshly cut grass, and then we went to eat lunch. AJ was tired so she actually went down for her nap without much fuss. I'm hoping she'll stay asleep until the carpet cleaners get here. By the way, in case anyone ever asks you, in my book, cleaning services of any sort are always appropriate, appreciated gifts for any occasion: anniversary, birthday, Mother's Day, Christmas, Flag Day, etc. A big thanks in advance to Granny Annie for sending the carpet cleaners over here. Between Radar and AJ, we're more than two years overdue for good scrubbing. I cannot wait. Off to move more things off the floor!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Mmmm....Donuts!


Anna June is at a disadvantage growing up in our house, because I'm the worst cook in our family. I don't love it, and I have little incentive to improve, seeing as how my mom, dad, brothers and sisters-in-law are all so much better - and some of them are even professionals! There are a few things that I can make that Ben likes better than take-out, and my go-to dish is taco salad. Actually, it's more like nachos: we use tortilla chips, seasoned ground turkey or beef, shredded cheddar, salsa, onions and sour cream. Ben and AJ don't like lettuce or tomatoes on their taco salads, so we just skip it for simplicity's sake.

Unfortunately, when I was grocery shopping quickly during AJ's nap on Sunday, I bought most of the stuff for our tacos, but I forgot some things. So I had to run by the store on my way to pick up AJ from daycare.

When I got her, I told her we were having tacos for supper. "From Taco Bell?" she asked. "No," I said. "I can make tacos." She didn't seem disappointed, which is good. I was horrified that she even knew what Taco Bell was, but we do make the occasional run for the border as a family.

Anyway, while I was at the grocery store, I was hungry. I picked out some donuts for our breakfast, to celebrate being Friday. AJ saw them as soon as I unloaded the groceries at home. The conversation went a little something like:
"What's that, Mommy?"
"Donuts!"
"Yay! Donuts!"
"They're for breakfast."
"Aw, man!"

Yesterday, Ben had asked me what has happened to AJ where she sleeps so late (for her) and we can get up before she does. I explained she had had a bad night, from over exhaustion, and had woken up several times. But last night, she had a great night - went to bed with few complaints and slept all night. Hooray! I would have bought the donuts just to celebrate that! Today, she woke up at 6:06 - before I could even get out of bed. "Mom. Mommy! MAMA!"
"Yes, Anna June? Good morning!"
"What we doing today."
"You're going to school..."
"I want to eat breakfast."
"Oh, you do? We have donuts."
"DONUTS! I am so excited!!!!"

She really was excited. She did everything I asked, and then sat down to eat her doughnut. She asked for seconds, and I gave it to her but had to run out of the room for a minute. Then, AJ decided she was finished. She got up without being asked and put the rest of her food in the trash, opened the dishwasher herself and put away her plate. Then I came back in the room and she put her cup away all by herself, too.

I guess if we had donuts every day, it wouldn't be so exciting. But if her behavior is this good, I'm tempted.

By the way, since I told you my go-to dish is taco salad (quick, easy and loved by all), what is your go-to dish? I need some new ideas. Leave a comment.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Kinda

Because Anna June loves her umbrella and rain boots so much, she's particularly interested in whether or not it is going to rain. The other day, on the way home from school, she asked if it was going to rain. I told her I didn't know, but the clouds on the left were "kinda gray" so that may mean rain.

"They are kinda gray, Mommy?"
"Yeah."
"Like your hair?"
"Yeah, like my hair."

At least she's observant.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Bless This Mess

Anna June is a sweet and happy little girl. She loves to play, even when she doesn't feel her best. This picture is from the Sunday during her fever virus, when we thought she was better and wasn't really.

I've had to make a list of all the things she's asked me to do but we haven't had time for, saving up for the weekends or evenings. She wants to play with her Play-Dough, in her sandbox, and in her swimming pool. She wants more than anything to paint.

We have such a short amount of time with her each day - and things like eating (which can take an hour with her these days) bathing and getting dressed take up most of that time. She does remind me in her own way that if the bed isn't made or if the laundry isn't done that it is OK - we have to spend time with her letting her play her drum or whatever she needs to do.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Father's Day Feast

Anna June had a good time on Father's Day - she got to see her Daddy, Granddaddy, and Granddaddy Jerome in person and her Grandpa via Skype.

We had a family dinner at my parents' house, where Anna June was, as always, the center of attention.

AJ still loves pretending in her play kitchen, so, just in case she turns out to be a "foodie" like some of the rest of us, I would like to record the menu. I have probably left something out -

Appetizer:
Bruchetta with fresh basil from Granddaddy's herb garden

Entree:
Grilled chicken breast with barbecue sauce

Veggies and Sides:
Silver Queen Corn (on and off the cob)
Skillet Fried Green Tomatoes
Tomato and Cucumber Salad
Squash from Wim's garden with cheese and breadcrumb topping
Aunt Connie's Green Beans cooked with ham
Grandma Hazel's Macaroni and Cheese

Dessert:
Peach cobbler served with Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream

My parents have been known to fix big dinners like this just because Dad went to the farmer's market (which he did), but this time we were celebrating Father's Day and anniversaries. Rusty and Beth have been married for two years as of Saturday. Mom and Dad have been married 36 years today, which is also our friends' Debbie and BJ's anniversary (they came to the party, too!). And tomorrow is our 8th anniversary. Lots to celebrate!

Also, there are no pictures of this day because I left my camera at work, again. But even if I hadn't, I would have been reluctant to post a picture of Anna June. She fell on Friday at daycare and has scraped up the entire side of her face. It is looking better, but I would hate to record that. I told the story about thirty times this weekend, but in case you missed it, here it is:

Anna June loves her blue fake Crocs shoes. She, for some reason, likes to take those shoes on and off. And on and off. She still hasn't mastered her left and right yet, so her teachers kept correcting her and she'd switch feet. But then she'd take them off again and the whole process would begin again.

On the way to the playground, AJ spotted the swing she wanted. She ran to get it before the other kids could. Unfortunately, with her shoes on the wrong feet, running was a little difficult. So she fell, face first into the rubberized surface.

She took it well - she was brave and did not cry. However, she looked up and saw that another child was in the swing she had been rushing for and then had a big meltdown! The teachers, so glad she was OK, made the other child find a different way to occupy his/herself and let AJ have the swing. All was well.

So, the Crocs go on the list of shoes she's not allowed to wear at school. But besides that, she's fine.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Pajama Day!

Anna June's class is having pajama day today. After much debate, Anna June selected her lightweight footed pajamas, given to her by Patrick and Liz for her birthday. A runner up was her Ariel set, but I'm glad she opted for the floral pattern, since Taylor (seated next to AJ in the photo) also wore her Little Mermaid pajamas! In case you can't tell from the photo, Garvey has dinosaurs and Diamond has Dora the Explorer. It was strange to get AJ into clean jammies in the morning, complete with big girl panties, pigtails and shoes. She loves pajamas and she loves school, so she should have a fantastic fun day today.

I've been pretty excited about pajama day. In fact, when we went to the library on Sunday, I happened to find a book called Pajama Day by Lynn Plourde. Anna June loves this book. The main character is named Drew, which of course got her attention, and they're having pajama day in his class - just like in hers. She made me read this book to her about three times on Monday.

And a funny note about the book...the point of the story is that Drew is forgetful, in part, because he is an over-scheduled, frazzled child with a pushy mom. At the end of the story the poor kid is too tired to get his pajamas on. The book uses the phrase "pooped out" to describe the exhaustion. Anna June, of course, is two and was unfamiliar with the idiom. She asked me, "He pooped in his underwear?" I explained to her that it just meant he was really tired. But she insisted that it meant that he had pooped on himself because he was too tired to go to the potty.

I'm looking forward to picking AJ up from school today to see about all the fun they had. She took her giant lady bug from Kym and Ken as her "favorite stuffed animal." If you've given AJ a stuffed animal, don't get your feelings hurt - she's not very particular. Any given night can have her change her mind about which doll/animal/lovey she wants to sleep with. Last night it was Grover, who is about 30 years old and completely loved to pieces.

She took Lullaby Little One as her favorite bedtime story. But I also took the library's copy of Pajama Day, just because.

I was wishing for Pajama Day at work, but as it turns out, I got my very own pajama day on Tuesday, when I worked from home while sick. I have to say that the daycare version looks way more fun.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

All Kinds of Time

Since I'm home today resting with the virus Anna June had, I thought I would post some quick observations I have made.

1. When you hear your preschooler holler "Ta-Da!" from another room, it is usually not good. Yesterday, AJ thought it was really funny to climb up on a box. Repeatedly. Luckily, it was sturdy.

2. Potty training is also about training the parents, not the child. AJ does great if she's reminded. If she gets busy entertaining herself while I'm doing something else, watch out.

3. Anna June loves to perform. Yesterday, she grabbed up her Princess and the Frog ukulele and busted out with the chorus to "You Can't Always Get What You Want." It was almost perfect. Forget American Idol...this girl is going to have a record deal when she's five.

4. AJ is still in love with The Backyardigans. She asked to see an episode that she'd already seen again, "Mission to Mars" which featured Alicia Keys as the mother of a Martian who kept calling Earth on her cell phone. At least it was one of the better ones.

5. She is really, really sweet. If she bumps into you, you say "Ow!" and she says, "I didn't mean to." Then she'll kiss your boo-boo. I told her I was sick this morning and she poked out her lip in sympathy. Then, she asked if it would make me feel better if she rubbed my back. She also offered to go find the grown-up thermometer (as opposed to the baby thermometer, which you would NOT want in your mouth).

6. Anna June loves to paint. I only let her do it occasionally because it is so messy, but it holds her attention much longer than coloring, even with markers. Basically, the messier, the better.

7. Cheese puffs are like crack. She saw a little girl in the library eating some on Sunday. Don't ask me who this kid was, or where her parents were...it is still a mystery. Since we were on our way to the store, I told AJ we could get some, too. We were in the store and AJ reminded me that we needed cheese puffs. She had some when we got home, then she woke up asking for more the next day. I sent the whole huge bag with her to school to share with her friends. It seems the other kids love them, too.

8. She has gotten really good at expressing gratitude. She says "thank you" most of the time without being prompted. She's sometimes fuzzy on whether or not something is a compliment, but when you do something for her, like read a book, she says thanks. Last night we called my dad to thank him for some food he'd sent, and we had to leave a voice mail, a concept with which she wasn't familiar. I had to coach her at leaving a message. I said, "Say Hey Granddaddy," She said, "Hey Granddaddy." I said, "Say thank you for the chili." She said, "Thank you for the chili. I like it." She came up with that last part all by herself.

9. She is particular about music. Sometimes we'll play a song and she'll ask if we like it. We'll ask her if she likes it, and she'll honestly say yes or no. It is not always yes and not always no. Yesterday after the fifth kids' show, I tried to watch a music show I had recorded. She was not thrilled with the music. She informed me she did want to listen to music, just not that music. I asked what she wanted to listen to and she had an answer: "Time-a" she said. Luckily, I understood that she meant Josh Ritter's "Change of Time." She LOVED it and sang along.

10. If she felt as bad as I feel now, she did incredibly well at not throwing tantrums. She had her moments, especially going to bed last night. She tried every delaying tactic in the book, especially saying that she had to go potty, which I fell for. We let her sleep in this morning and she was more compliant than usual at getting ready, which was definitely appreciated.

Monday, June 14, 2010

MIA


Wow, I've almost been three whole days without a post about Anna June. The issue? She was sick, and we were busy. You don't really appreciate an active child until she's temporarily inactive.

Friday night, AJ spent the night with her grandparents while we went to a concert and enjoyed a rare kid-free night. If it weren't for the dog, we would have slept all night. Anyway, I called to check on her the next morning and was told to bring the Tylenol. She had a fever.

We spent the rest of the day Saturday at home resting up. She did fine. On Sunday morning, her temp was down and we decided to go about our normal planned activities. This was a mistake, as my mom noted during dinner at Rusty's that she was warm again. We got home and checked - 102.

So no daycare today. Which meant I stayed home with her. We painted her toenails, colored, played with blocks and toys, entertained Radar, and read books. We watched an insane amount of television, which resulted in her not getting a lot of her wiggles out. She did NOT want to settle down to go to bed. Which resulted with her in hysterics (and not in a good way).

Please keep your fingers crossed that the fever stays gone and she can return to daycare. This is either teething or a virus. There are no other symptoms, except spotty appetite. And the fact that she keeps wanting to put things in her mouth (when she'd sort of gotten over that). I'm betting on teeth. She won't let me get close enough to check them out, so I think that's a big clue.

This picture is of when she went with us to do our grocery shopping at Aldi on Sunday, during the feeling-good time. We started out great - AJ brought her own shopping cart and was loading it up with cheese puffs and jello. But then, about halfway through the store, she got tired. So we let her ride in the big buggy and shoved hers underneath. Then, she didn't like that and threw a fit so I ended up carrying her. One would think this would have been an indication that she didn't feel well, but the fact is that she throws a tantrum every single time we're in Aldi. I guess she just prefers Publix.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Pretending

Anna June is excited about her chance to spend the night at her Nana's house tonight. We were discussing what she should bring, and she wants to bring her doll, Helen. Later, she told me she was going to take Helen to the zoo to see the gorillas, because, "Helen loves gorillas!"

So, next thing I know, she's dragging Helen through the house while I was getting ready, telling her about all the animals in the zoo. As we were leaving, AJ pointed to our den, which is apparently the home of the rhinoceros. She told me that there are four of them.

It would be nice, though, for her to tell me when she's pretending, so I'm not mentally calculating how to tell her I really don't feel like dragging giant Helen through the zoo with us the next time we go. What a relief!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Actually...




These are some pictures of AJ and Drew in the splash pad part of the zoo. It is a relatively new addition. It was Drew's first time and AJ loved showing her how it worked.

This past weekend when we went back to the zoo with my mom, we were short on time and gave AJ the option: ride the carousel or play in the splash part. This wasn't a fair choice, since the splash part would have taken lots more time. At first, she said, "SPLASH PART!" and was heading to change. Then, she saw the carousel.

"Actually," she said,"I want to ride the carousel."

Yes, friends, she's using the word actually correctly. And this morning she used the word delectable.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Don't Come In Here

Anna June is starting to like some privacy. Sometimes, while going potty, she tells me not to look or not to be in the room. I don't always obey her wishes, but sometimes I do.

This morning, though, the first words out of her mouth, while she was in her room and I was in mine, were "Don't come in here, Mommy!"

But I did go in there, and I started picking up her toys. Well, I had to start picking up her toys if I ever wanted to make it back to her bed. I had to clear a path.

She asked to read books in her bed while I cleaned up, so I let her. I finally decided to move towards getting her up, so I tried to select an outfit for her. I said, "Anna June, do you want to wear your polka dot outfit or your alligator outfit."

She replied just like a teenager, "It doesn't matter!" and threw her head back on her pillow.

I think that hit me more than when she declared, "I don't care!" the other day.

But shortly, she was back to her old self. "Mommy," she said, "I want some okra!"

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Giraffe du Jour




Anna June isn't completely obsessed with giraffes, but when I looked at Dawn and Darren's pictures from our zoo trip a couple of weeks ago, I detected a distinct giraffe theme. Why the interest in giraffes?

I blame her new shoes. They're in a giraffe pattern!

When we went back to the zoo with my mom this past Saturday, AJ wanted to ride the giraffe on the carousel again, but I reminded her that it does not go up and down, so she settled for a zebra instead.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Reruns

I don't know if you can call it a milestone or not, but Anna June asked to watch a specific episode of The Backyardigans yesterday. She was thinking about the one called "The Yeti" and she wanted to see Pablo again saying "Yeti Yeti Yeti" over and over again. I obliged so I could get dinner started, but she was really, really excited.

That reminds me, though, that I haven't posted the pictures from Maxwell's Backyardigans birthday party that Drew's mom, Dawn, sent. So, here are a few.

AJ and Drew loved the goody buckets!

AJ loved the cupcake cake!

AJ went straight for the hose. More water is better!

Sitting with Maxwell eating some cheese puffs. They know what kids like!

PS - My tie-dyed muumuu is now history, and after seeing these pictures, I am now on a diet, so no comments on that, please, ahem, Dad.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Blackberry Vine

Because much of our backyard is left in its natural state, we've grown some blackberry vines. We've picked some, and Anna June says they're yummy.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Feeling the Love

Anna June was greeted by probably a hundred people today between the graveside service and memorial celebration. She looked like an angel. She cheered everyone up by playing with her hair bow during the service, and then falling asleep in Aunt Heidi's arms. Unfortunately, that was all the nap she took. She did great most of the day, but the last hour or so she's been, predictably, a little devil.

I keep thinking of things that I should have told Pastor Jan about my grandmother to include in the service - she was preceded in death by her two sisters, Helen and Jewel. She is survived by many nieces and nephews, many of whom we were able to see today. She had an interesting education in the western section of Birmingham. She worked at the Alabama Theater. She danced when she was younger. She loved Christmas so much she wrote her own Christmas song. She was an amateur artist and painted works that are in her home and my parent's home to this day. Her favorite thing to say about God was "God is Love" and she often quoted the title of a famous book, Your God is Too Small. She wanted to hand out copies of The Power of Positive Thinking and How to Win Friends and Influence People. Another important book for her was Robert's Rules of Order - she was an expert in parliamentary procedure. She never graduated from high school - which was something she never talked about. She was EMPHATIC about education - to this day I think I failed her because I have merely a bachelor's degree...she always wanted me to go to law school or at the very least get my PhD in something. She lied about her age on her driver's license when she was a married teen so she could get into gambling establishments with her friends who were of age. I went with her to correct this problem because it was effecting her status with something - they thought she was 65 when she was really 62. She always gave everyone the benefit of the doubt, even when they didn't deserve it. She was not a morning person, and when the pastor read from Proverbs 31 about the woman who rises early to toil for her family, I almost laughed out loud. She would get up early, but not without a cup of coffee or two. She loved to shop, and was pretty disappointed that Anna June already had an extremely generous grandmother, so I wouldn't let her buy any baby clothes. You know she did anyway, though.

Overall, the service was short and sweet - a nice celebration of her life. I am glad so many of her friends were able to travel to attend. She served as a mentor to many people and a friend to many more.

One thing Pastor Jan mentioned, though, was how much she loved Anna June. She really did bring light to her life. She loved seeing her whenever she could, even if it was just in the church pew next to her. She got so tickled when AJ would stick her hand out for her check for the offering plate and then deposit it there.

Speaking of getting tickled, my grandmother loved to laugh, especially at herself. She was her own best material. I will close with one more story tonight:

This winter, we had some extremely cold days. One Sunday morning, Grandma got herself up and going to get ready for church. She put on a snazzy blouse, her jewelry, her makeup, her shoes, and left. When she got to church, our friend Wim helped her out of her car. She made an alarming discovery, but since Wim was already there to open her door for her, she felt like she couldn't turn around and go home then. She got in the church, and she tried to tell me something, but she cracked up with laughter. She laughed and laughed. I was laughing at her laughing. We laughed and laughed until finally, she got her breath and told me her shocking secret - the pants she was wearing were to her pajamas! She had just forgotten to take them off. Luckily, they were black velour and they matched her blouse perfectly. No wonder she forgot. But she laughed. And laughed. And then, she told on herself. I told her to hush, please don't tell anyone else. But she did. So, if you've heard this one before, I smile, because I know you had the opportunity to hear it straight from her.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

500th Post!

If you're new to reading this blog, and you don't want to go back and read all 499 other posts, here's a recap:

Anna June is beautiful, smart, healthy and wonderful. She likes candy and she doesn't like lettuce. She usually is sweet and funny. Sometimes, like with everyone, she gets whiny, especially when she is tired or hungry. She has trouble sleeping, still, especially when she gets over-tired, which is often, because she does not like to nap. She is very tall and is often mistaken for an older child. She turned two on March 7. She loves to sing, dance, watch television, pretend, and read. She has always been the star of the show, and probably will continue to be in our house. Her hair brings her much attention from strangers, and people can't help but touch it. She now knows the first and last names of her parents, the name of her school, and the city she lives in. She loves our dog, Radar, and bosses him around along with her mom and dad.

Here's a picture from her bath on Tuesday night. She has a bubble beard by her request, to be like the main character in one of her favorite books, Lullaby, Little One. Bath and photo by Daddy.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Goodbye, Grandma

Yesterday afternoon, Anna June lost her great grandmother Annette Tucker. She had been ill since February, when she was hospitalized for tests after becoming very sick with complications relating to congestive heart failure. She suffered a heart attack while in the hospital, and underwent surgery. After a long stay at St. Vincent's, she returned home under hospice care. She died peacefully in her own bedroom.

Sunday was the last time Anna June, Ben and I saw Grandma Annette alive. We stopped by for a brief visit after a trip to the library. She was sleeping, and Anna June was more interested in looking for her dog, Abby. But she woke up a little, we went in, and visited a little while. Anna June gave Grandma lots of kisses, and showed her a picture she made at daycare. We told her of our plans to go to the zoo the next day and sang "Jesus Loves the Little Children."

If you met my grandmother, you remembered her. She was always young and vibrant. She married and had children extremely young, and was often mistaken for my mother. Her generosity knew no bounds. Her love was endless.

Career-wise, she was in the antique business, a tradition she picked up from her father-in-law and is carried on through her son and grandson to this day. She was a decorator, appraiser, buyer, seller, and even for a time proprietress of her very own antique shop. This was how she earned a living, but it was not what she did with her life.

For one thing, she was very dedicated to our church. She became the first woman ordained as an elder in our congregation in 1979 or so. She was serving another term as elder when she died. She directed the choir at our church for about thirty years. She led our church's music from the children on up. This was not a paid position, but the church paid for her to have professional voice lessons for a time. It is because of her that we had a Christmas musical program, usually a cantata, each year. She often recruited people from the congregation who didn't usually sing in the choir to help at Christmas, and, when there still weren't enough from our small church, she recruited from the community, often calling on friends who attended other churches. The late Harry Wallis used to remind me often that Grandma was scheduled to direct the church cantata the day I was born - I had enough consideration to be born between the morning worship service and the big show in the evening. Our friend Gail Bush claims her feet never touched the ground that night.

Grandma was, in my opinion, a born leader. If she ever actually wrote a resume, it would be long, especially under the leadership and community activities section. To say she was active in the Alabama Federation of Women's Clubs would be an understatement. She was the Junior Director, and, before she knew it, President of the entire AFWC from 1980-1982. She had many appointments and positions at the local, state and national level in the General Federation of Women's Clubs. Her project as president was to purchase a state headquarters for the federation. She chose a historic home in Birmingham on Niazuma Avenue. The house had to be completely restored. Through her work and dedication, the house was acquired, renovated, and furnished through the generous donations and labor of the state's club women. The house, called the Foster House after its original owners, not only serves as an office for the AFWC staff and meeting space for its clubs, but is a beautiful venue for weddings, receptions, and other parties. She served as the Headquarters Chairwoman for the AFWC for many years. She was the one person in the world who knew most about the house and, fortunately, also lived close by.

She and her sister, Eunice wrote a children's book, In the Desert One Christmas Eve. They went everywhere promoting and selling the book, the proceeds going to the AFWC Headquarters.

As much as she loved the federation and all the wonderful and dear friends she made in it, she loved her family a thousand times more. She would do anything for us. She taught us to listen by being a good listener; taught us to be patient by being patient; taught us to be generous by being generous; encouraged creativity by being creative; and taught us to express our own opinions by expressing hers. I directly attribute any leadership skills I have to things she taught our father first and then me. She made sure that my brothers and I had more than plenty of everything. She let me run errands and work with her when I was young, and I learned so many things from her daily interactions with people out in the world. She wanted me to have everything - including dance and piano lessons which she not only paid for but delivered me to each week, even though it was evident that both were hopeless. She always had a candy bar and coke for me ready to go.

She and my grandfather never let us even know what daycare was - she picked us up from school and kept us every summer. Now that I am a parent, I am beginning to understand the sacrifices she made for us. She took us to Vacation Bible School and made sure we went to church camp. She took the boys to their baseball practices and games. She let us have a swing set in her yard and let us watch cable television. Hers was the first telephone number I memorized, probably before my own.

Her optimism and enthusiasm, even for the smallest thing, defined her. No act of kindness went unnoticed. She talked about her grandchildren, and when Anna June came along, her great grandchild, at every opportunity. To her, everything we did was the most outstanding, and she wasn't afraid to tell us.

With her AFWC career, she traveled all over the country and racked up some great stories, especially about her multiple trips to the White House. One thing she taught me was always to respect the President of the United States. Although she had her own private party allegiance, she understood that the office itself commands respect. She met Presidents of both parties, while a representative of club women, who represent the families in our country.

She played piano by ear, and wrote music. In fact, her 1976 Piece, "Make a Whole New Sound" was accepted by President Ford to be one of the 200 official pieces of music to celebrate the nation's bicentennial. In this endeavor she combined two of her favorite things: music and patriotism. My grandmother loved being an American. She never failed to remind me that it was only in 1920 that women got the vote - an effort that club women who came before her helped enact.

So after we left her house yesterday afternoon, Ben and I went to do one thing that she would have wanted - we went to go vote.

I know that heaven's choir is much improved now that she's joined. In fact, I would be willing to bet that she's recruited more members and is organizing a big worship service right now.


With Hazel and Laura At Liz's bridal shower, held at the AFWC State Headquarters.

With Anna June at her first Easter Egg Hunt at Crestline Cumberland Presbyterian Church


With Anna June on Father's Day 2009, at her house

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Best Friends

I'm finally getting around to posting all three pictures I managed to take of Anna June at Maxwell's party. I've been slacking on the picture taking, so if anyone has pictures of AJ, you can send them to me to post. I'm having enough trouble keeping up with the other stuff. This weekend, my camera spent time in my office instead of following us through our various adventures.

Anna June doesn't have a concept of "best friends" yet. But we read her a library book called Best Friends, and I asked her who her best friend was. "Maxwell," she said. The next day, we read it again and I asked her again. "Sipsey," she said. We went to the zoo with Drew and her parents yesterday, and it was clear that those two girls LOVE each other. They were so excited to see each other...they screamed and hugged. It was adorable. And I know Anna June loves her other friends, too.

Maxwell, the birthday boy. He was running around a lot, so I only got the back of his head. But you can see he has curly blond hair just like AJ.

AJ and Drew, "sharing".

Drew "sharing" with AJ in the Backyardigans pool