Thursday, September 30, 2010

Why Ask Why?

(Photo courtesy of Nonny)

Anna June is the quintessential two year old. She is very inquisitive, and, as I've mentioned before, asks "why" relentlessly.

Yesterday, on an episode of Clifford, a character asked, "Why?"
Anna June recognized her favorite question immediately. "He said 'Why'!" she told me.
"Yes," I said, "He did ask 'Why?'."
"I ask 'Why' ALL THE TIME!" she said!

At least she knows it.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bedtime for Butterflies

Anna June has lots of grandparents, and, if you ask me, they keep pretty strange (but mostly regular hours). Last night, Ben had the laptop on the kitchen table while was fixing dinner. AJ was eating a snack. She saw the computer, and she asked if we were going to call Grandpa on the computer, probably because we usually go to the kitchen to use Skype. It has good lighting and a flat surface.

We told her, no, we weren't planning to call Grandpa, because he was probably eating dinner - he usually goes to sleep around the time we're eating dinner. Ben must have mentioned something about 6:30.

Later, I was outside with AJ while she ate her Popsicle (topless, by the way - I'm tired of trying to get green Popsicle drippings out of her clothes)! She told me that she saw the sun setting, but she would try not to look directly at the sun, which is something her Granny taught her. She told me she heard birds, but she didn't see them. I told her maybe they flew to another tree in someone else's yard. Then, she said she didn't see any butterflies. I said, "Maybe they've gone to sleep by now. It's getting late."
"Yeah. They go to bed at 6:30," Anna June informed me.
"Really?" I checked my watch. "Well, it is 6:45 now, which is after 6:30."
"Yeah. But they have to eat dinner first."
"So the butterflies are eating dinner right now?"
"Yeah."

I'm glad the butterflies were eating dinner. Anna June hasn't been very into eating dinner lately. Maybe it's because she's tired or has too many snacks, but she just hasn't been excited about eating, except what's on my plate. On Monday night, on the way home from daycare, we had a conversation that mostly went like this:

"Daddy isn't coming home until after school today, AJ. Would you like to eat a turkey sandwich or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?"
"I don't want dinner. I just want a sucker."
"But you have to eat some dinner before you can have a sucker. Would you like to try a peanut butter and banana sandwich?"
"I don't like dinner. I just like snacks!"

Before you judge, I will say that for the simplification of my life, I don't cook on nights when Ben has class - AJ and I usually eat leftovers, but sometimes, if we don't have leftovers, we make sandwiches or a frozen dinner in the microwave. I know it's not the best option, but it is the easiest. We did have other food in the house that AJ likes (peas, corn, cheese, raisins, yogurt) but as far as an entree goes, we were a little lacking. And AJ usually does eat whatever I cook. But of course, she was showing off her ability to declare what she does and does not like!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bonus Post: Sketches



Well, since I skipped posting a lot this weekend and last week, I thought I'd treat you to a few more pictures I didn't take, but had on hand. Again, at our two visits to Chuck E. Cheese, AJ, blessed by a ton of tokens, didn't have to make a lot of hard choices about which games and attractions to spend them on. There's a sketching machine, that takes your picture and "sketches" it. It took us a while to figure it out. There was a great shot of Grandpa's pants leg from the first try on the first visit, and then another dud on the second one. But once we (more or less) got the hang of it on the second visit, Anna June had her picture sketched with Mommy, Daddy, Granny and Aunt Nonny. These are the ones we still have.

Changing My Name

Anna June is tired. This is not news. The child does not like to sleep, and never has. Yesterday, she and her classmates staged a mini-revolt, and napped only for half an hour, when the allotted time is two hours. At 2:00 pm, the teachers wake them up, telling them nap time is over, even though they may have only slept a few minutes. The rest of the day in class wasn't so bad, I hear, but at night, the parents have to deal with it. I'm sad they had to wake her up, but I also understand they can't just have kids sleeping until pickup time.

Anyway, that being said, Anna June, tired, and recovering from a cough/cold, is having a hard time straddling the line between baby and big girl. She whines. She pouts. She cries. She screams. And most of the time, when she screams, she screams "MAMA! MAMA! MAMA!" I have thought about changing my name.

I understand that she wants to be held. I understand that she wants attention. But I also understand that I can't go to work in my bathrobe and she can't go to school in her pajamas. All morning we fought the cuddle wars. She was in my lap eating my cheerios. When I put on my makeup, she put on her "makeup" (clear vanilla-scented Chap stick). She threw absolute running away fits when it was time to get dressed, and don't get me started on her socks. Oh, she wanted to wear her new dressy dress shoes with her blue jeans, but her "SOCKS WERE TOO CROOKED!" I wrestled with her to get her teeth brushed, and ended up with toothpaste all over my good blazer.

It's a good thing my co-workers have kids, too. They can recognize the scent and color of Kid's Crest, so they know that my new approach is just thinking of it as an accessory.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Out for a Spin

In these pictures, unfortunately scanned to actual size, Anna June had her photo taken with Chuck E. Cheese in her two separate visits to his pizza establishment. Even though the pictures didn't turn out the best, I am glad that she went. She's already asking to go back. All weekend, she's been covered with the stickers and temporary tattoos from her last trip's goody bag.

Anyway, this weekend was another busy one, if not as eventful as the action-packed grandparent visits. On Saturday, we baked a cake, and took it to our friends' Oktoberfest party. They were encouraging guests to dress as if they were attending a real Oktoberfest, but alas, most of us do not own real leiderhosen or trachten. However, Ben did (until Saturday) work at a party store that sells costumes, so he was able to show up with an appropriate hat and suspenders instead. We had found a European-inspired jumper for Anna June, but she WOULD NOT wear it. For anything. So we ended up letting her wear her sundress instead. As it turns out, the closest most folks got to dressing up were t-shirts that said "Germany" on them, which worked as well.

At the party, it was mostly couples around our age with kids around AJ's age. All of us were so busy having a good time (and chasing said children around) that we didn't get any pictures. I don't think anyone did! So, you'll just have to take our word for it - we looked fantastic.

We got home, I asked Anna June what her favorite part of the party was. She said, "Dancing. And running with the children," (as if she were not one of the children).

On Sunday, after church, lunch, and nap, we headed out to Trussville for some shoe shopping. Anna June tried on some really cute pairs of shoes, but when I asked her if she liked them, she said, "No!" So each time, it was back to the drawing board. I know her tastes change from day to day, but if she didn't like them from the outset, I certainly wasn't going to buy them! I am not interested in fighting losing battles.

So we ended up with a pair of white patent leather shoes, appropriate for church, although she's wearing them to school today. (Hey, they're new!) They have a little bit of a heel, and she wore them out of the store proclaiming that she loved her new "high heels"! They are a bit big, but I'd rather have them too big than too small. The way her feet have been growing, though, they'll fit perfectly by Wednesday.

I sent her sneakers with her to daycare, just in case.

We ended the weekend with a family dinner at Nana and Granddaddy's. Anna June was disappointed that we didn't drop her off. Apparently, she has much more fun over there when I'm gone!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Some News


Anna June has kept us very busy lately. She's coming down with a cough and hasn't been her usual cheery self. In fact, somehow last night Ben ended up on the sofa and AJ ended up sleeping in our bed. It kept everyone from crying and seemed like a good idea at the time. Truthfully, I sort of wanted her beside me due to the extra dose of cough medicine I had to give her. She still coughed and wrestled around much of the rest of the night, so I was glad to know at least that she was still breathing.

This morning, I thought, we had a plan. AJ would wear her brand new Alabama shirt (courtesy of our cousin, Judy) and her denim shorts with a red flower belt. This morning, while she was still a little zonked from the medicine and still in my bed, I slipped the shorts on her without incident. Then, it came time for the shirt. I explained to her it was for Roll Tide, and I named several of our relatives and friends who like Alabama.

Anna June absolutely refused to wear the shirt (which is really cute! It has the Alabama A on it and says "start 'em young, raise 'em right"). She said she wanted to wear her UAB shirt. I did not coach her for this. It was completely her decision. In the interest of time, I left the other shorts on, and with her purple-trimmed socks, she was quite a sight to behold this morning!

Anyway, speaking of UAB, we have some news: Ben is going to be joining the UAB Division of Gerontology as an employee on Monday. He's going to be a research specialist, which means he'll help recruit participants into a study, for now. I think the world of medical research will suit him. Or, at least, misery loves company. We'll most likely carpool many days, which we hope will be fun as well as convenient.

Please join me in congratulating Ben on his entry into the crazy world of UAB employment, as well as his pending exit from retail.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Visit Wrap-Up

This morning, when she was complaining about going to school, Anna June looked at me and asked, "Is Granny going to come back?" I told her yes, but not today. She was a little disappointed. She had a fantastic time over the past few days. Here are some highlights:

On Friday, AJ, Granny Annie and Aunt Nonny got to stay home all day. They made us "breakfast for dinner" featuring grits casserole, bacon and biscuits. It was delicious!

On Saturday, we headed out for the zoo. Aunt Nonny had been to the Birmingham Zoo before, but not with Anna June. She was delighted to show her the kangaroos and especially the gorillas. (We looked it up and found that gorillas are primarily vegetarians, but often eat bugs as well.) During nap time, Nonny and I hit the thrift stores and found a couple of bargains. Saturday night, Ben and I went on a date and the girls all had a ballerina party! (Pictures and more details to come soon.)

On Sunday morning we baked cookies with some dough I bought that looks like play-doh. Then, we visited the McDonald's playground for lunch. We went to the Leeds Folk Festival in the late afternoon, and we returned to Rusty's BBQ for a big family dinner.

On Monday, we were very sad because Annie and Nonny had to leave. Ben had to work, so we met him at Chuck E. Cheese for lunch. After a shortened nap, we took them to the airport. I asked AJ if she'd like to go anywhere else, but she was so tired, she said, "No, let's just go home!"

So we did.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Granny Time!

We've been enjoying our visit with Anna June's Granny Annie and Auntie Nonny since Wednesday night. Their plane was grounded temporarily due to a flat tire, so they missed their connecting flight and were a couple hours later getting in than we had anticipated. AJ was so disappointed that they'd be coming in so late that she wouldn't be able to go to the airport, but then, she was too excited to go to sleep!

Yesterday was a great, long day, with Ben bringing the three ladies up to my office to eat lunch nearby. We had a nice visit and found out that AJ does like black bean chili but does not like cucumbers. We also visited Rusty's BBQ for dinner and the auction for a little while before turning in for another late night.

Today promises to be fun as well. I hope to take some pictures during the visit.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Learning Letters

Anna June's class is, in the time honored tradition, studying one letter and number at a time. We've made it through A, B, 1 and 2. AJ has a set of foam letters and numbers to play with in the bathtub and last night I was quizzing her. She remembered 1 and 2, but was fuzzy on A and B. She does know the letter O and the letter Y.

I think it is appropriate that she knows "Y" because that is the most frequently heard thing in our house: "Why?" She's got the two-year-old thing down. For a while she was asking, "because why?" but now it's just the more typical, "Why?" Her persistent questions can be funny to listen to, because at some point, I give up trying to explain. My knowledge of processes of the universe only runs so deep. Some non-answers I've given lately include
- that's just the way it is.
- God made it that way.
- I don't know.
- I'm not sure.
- Because I said so.
- Why do you think that is?
and, my all time favorite response is just bursting into laughter, which usually distracts her long enough to make her laugh.

Back to the letters, though...in the tub last night, I was asking her which letter each one was, and she would say she didn't know, and I'd tell her the letter, what sound it makes, and give an example of a word that begins with that letter. AJ was tired, and she said she didn't know any of the letters. I started giving up and putting the toys, including the letters, away. But then she grabbed a handful of letters from the bathwater (which looked like alphabet soup). She held them up to me and said, "Tell me what these letters are, Mommy!"

I'm glad that she's eager to learn. I hope this continues.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Three Amigos



Anna June, Drew, and Sipsey all enjoyed swinging on the tire swing together. These pictures were borrowed from Sipsey's mom's blog. As you can see, she has a better camera than I do and she actually knows how to use it! What sweet girls!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Park!



On Saturday, four of AJ's classmates, their parents, and her former teacher got together to play at a park for the morning. These photos are courtesy of Maxwell's mom, Mandy. There will be more during the week, as I see what is on my camera and probably steal some from some of the other moms, too. The pictures simply cannot do it justice - the children were adorable, it wasn't too hot (but it wasn't cool, either), and the grownups all had fun, too.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Holiday Education

Anna June is already starting to be threatened with what Santa must be thinking of bringing her this year (as in, lumps of coal) but we've had some other holidays this month that are worth talking about. Not surprisingly, I decided to talk to AJ about them through books.

First was Labor Day. Quite by accident, I saw the book My Apron by Eric Carle. Anna June loved this book, about a young boy who goes to visit his plasterer uncle and just HAS to have an apron just like his. His aunt obliges, and he goes to work along with his uncle. According to the review on Amazon, "The line/tissue paper illustrations are colorful and somewhat geometric, reminiscent of French Cubist Leger's work featuring laborers." I initially picked it up because Anna June likes to wear aprons and I thought that it was appropriate we were reading it near the holiday celebrating workers such as he.

One of our rituals at the library is that I let Anna June pick at least one book. On this particular visit, she was more interested in playing than browsing, but she came up with an interesting pick: Si, Se Puede! ("Yes, We Can: Janitor Strike in L.A." ) by Diana Cohn. When it came time to read the book, AJ wasn't actually all that interested. I glanced at it and it appeared to have a lot of words, which meant it would take too long and I wasn't that interested in reading it to AJ. But as I was about to return it, I sat in the library parking lot and read it for myself. It turns out that half the book is in Spanish, so it is half as long as it appears. Back in 2000, I was preoccupied with my job in Atlanta and this guy from Wisconsin I had just met, but I thought I sort of kept up with the news back then. I have little to no memory of the strike itself. Basically, all I know about it is found in this fictional account for children, and the essay that followed, but I did feel like I was in the true spirit of the holiday as I sat in my car with tears in my eyes about Carlitos' mom fighting for fair wages.

Another book that I stumbled upon at the library this past weekend was The World's Birthday: A Rosh Hashanah Story. Usually, our library is great at having seasonal displays of appropriate books, but just a few days before the holiday, it was shelved with the regular books. I grabbed it up, though, eager to teach Anna June about something that we share with our Jewish friends - an appreciation of God's creation of the world. It is a sweet book - I recommend it if you can find it. Also, it is pretty hilarious to hear Anna June say "Rosh Hashanah"- she says it exactly as I do, which is undoubtedly incorrect.

But as for what is now called Patriot's Day, I am truly at a loss. I am sure there are children's books, but I am not yet ready to really address the unthinkable evil of which mankind is capable with my sweet little girl. Ben started a conversation this afternoon about how, on this day, before she was born, some really bad people did a really bad thing - and she interrupted us, intrigued again by how life was possible before she was born.

"You used to not have me?"
"Yes. Before you were even in mommy's tummy."
"You ate me, Mommy?"
"No, sweetheart. Babies grow in mommies' tummies."

So, a conversation that began about destruction ended up being about creation, and we left it at that.

God bless America.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Team Color Fridays

Anna June's school instituted "team color Fridays" during football season. In many places, the NFL is what people think of when they think of football, but here, it's all about collegiate affiliations.

Basically, if you live in the state of Alabama, tradition dictates you must declare your allegiance to either Alabama or Auburn. It was an easy choice for me as a kid, because my mom graduated from Alabama, and my Granddaddy taught me to say "Roll Tide" when I was very small. But with AJ, we'd like to encourage the third and more logical option: UAB.

Ben and I both received our undergraduate degrees from UAB, as did my dad. It is where I work and where Ben is attending classes once again. It's our home town team. So I took the plunge yesterday and bought AJ her first UAB shirt. They had other T-shirts, but they weren't as cute. There were lots of very cute UAB shirts and sundresses in pink, but I thought that would defeat the point of team color Fridays, as the Blazers will not be wearing pink on the field. I did encourage more feminine socks, and the sunglasses were her idea.

Sometimes in sports, UAB gets the shaft - it is hard to recruit when the bigger, more established schools in (more or less) the same area are competing for players. The way I see it, we have to start with AJ's generation, building momentum and excitement for our school and team. And, incidentally, if I stay a UAB employee for just 20 more years, Anna June can have reduced tuition should she choose to attend. Wouldn't this photo be great on a volleyball program when AJ is the star of the team in 2027? Go Blazers!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dessert

At school, Anna June is working hard at learning to use utensils when she eats. Apparently, it is just too much work to do this at home.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Time Out

Anna June, in the throes of the terrible twos, has really spent some time in the time out chair lately. In fact, we've used it morning and night for the past several days. (Ever since Grandpa left. I wonder if he'd come back...) My new favorite saying brought up by a friend (who got it from someone else) is that parenting is all joy and no fun!

Anyway, I will give her a few chances to be cooperative, and I will declare, "Anna June, you're not listening to me. I think you need to sit in time out." And for the past few days she has simply said, "OK!" Apparently, she needs a break from our disagreements as well.

So I sit her in her chair in the kitchen, set the timer for two minutes, and at the beginning of the time, I remind her why she's in the chair, and what needs to happen when she gets out. Then, I go about my business, in the same room, trying to avoid eye contact and talking to her.

I have heard so many people say, "back in my day, we didn't have time out. We had spankings!" Don't think I don't give AJ spankings. I know that opinions about discipline can be very controversial, but I have to do what I have to do with my kid.

In fact, this morning she got a spanking while she was in time out - she decided to scoot her chair around the room while the timer was still going. I was trying hard not to laugh, though, because she looked so funny, trying to keep her face in a nonchalant expression while she scooted her little blue-jean-clad bottom around the kitchen.

We hear she's a perfect angel at school. I've also been told that if she is sweet at school and collapses into fits at home that is perfectly normal. I guess I will just keep the chair handy.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Where a Kid Can Be a Kid





Anna June's Grandpa and Grammy came to visit this weekend, and we were kept very busy! On Saturday, Grandpa suggested that we go to Chuck E. Cheese. Anna June didn't want to go at first, but we found a clip of Sheldon jumping in a ball pit on The Big Bang Theory to demonstrate the fun that would be had at the venerable pizza establishment. She was sold. But then, to our dismay, we arrived only to learn that the ball pits had been phased out - they're too hard to keep clean. I was sad to learn that AJ would miss out on something Ben and I had both enjoyed during our childhood. But never fear - we hear our local Carmax has one, so in a few years when we're car shopping again, we'll bring AJ along - but we'll call to check first if it is still there. We've learned our lesson about promising things to Anna June without the power to deliver them.

At any rate, the pizza was better than we remembered and Anna June had a good time checking out the rides and getting the hang of some of the games. And she cashed in her tickets for candy - one of her favorite parts! We will definitely be going back!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Turtle!





Before this morning took a nosedive with Radar's escape (and subsequent valiant capture by Ben), Anna June and I spotted a turtle in our yard. Here are the photos I managed to get.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

No Cavities!

Anna June had her first visit to the dentist today. She was a model patient, although on the way there she cried and held my hand tightly until she got the feel of the place. We saw Dr. Johnson at Pediatric and Adolescent Dentistry. He and his assistant, Melissa, were fantastic!

Melissa showed AJ all of her tools before she got started. She let AJ pick out a flavor of toothpaste - she picked watermelon! Then Dr. J "painted" a fluoride treatment on her teeth. They said her two year molars are ALMOST in - thank goodness, too, because the teething pains are a real pain! These are her last teeth to cut for another 4 years or so. Hooray!

Health wise, her teeth are good. She's got good spacing in her teeth, which they said is good because permanent teeth are bigger and they'll need the room. Also, her front tooth appears to have been chipped - I told him it had been like that from the beginning but he thinks she must have chipped it when she first got it. It isn't bad, though. And he wanted me to limit her juice intake (and dilute it!), and keep her away from sodas and flavored milks. We'll see what we can do.

AJ got to put her hand print on a tile that will go into the ceiling - so she can look at it when she comes back. She chose green, she said, "because my daddy likes green!" They also took her picture for their board. She smiled! She got to pick out a prize, and she chose a ring, naturally. She also got a Dora the Explorer sticker. She was so excited!

But that didn't beat the excitement of her very own new toothbrush (and big-girl toothpaste). Guess who was on the toothbrush. DORA THE EXPLORER! You should have seen the big smile that AJ got! She was so happy.

Anna June didn't even cry once. I was so, so proud!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

My Family


This is a picture of Anna June, Mommy, Daddy, and Ray-Ray. Can't you tell?