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!