Monday, January 31, 2011

Dazzling

Anna June has a couple of indulgent parents. On Saturday evening, Ben and AJ had napped late and I was trying to wake them up and get them ready for a fun-filled family trip to the neighborhood grocery store. This, of course, was met with some resistance. Anna June said she was going to come, but she couldn't get her beloved Cinderella earrings to work - she's worn them so much that one of them has gotten to where it won't stay on her ear. She was very upset. I pointed out to her that she got a Toys R Us gift card for Christmas that was just waiting to be used. So we quickly abandoned our grocery plans and went out for a sandwich on the way to they place "where a kid can be a kid".

It was really interesting to see which kinds of things Anna June picked out. She knew she had to make choices, so Ben kept having to run to put things back all over the store when she'd decide that she didn't, after all, need another magic wand.

She came home with some new paint, a really nice kid-sized stainless steel water bottle emblazoned with "Princess" on it, and a cool purse set - a similar set is pictured above. It has a sparkling pink bag, a key on a key fob that has sounds of a real one, a flip phone - complete with a ring tone and noise-making buttons, play money, a play ID card, plastic lipstick and eyeshadow, a comb and mirror, a heart-shaped ring, and, best of all, heart shaped earrings. She was quite a hit at church and at Nana's house for dinner last night. This morning she wore her jewelry to school but she chose (wisely) to keep her lipstick in the car console so it wouldn't get lost.

She has been funniest of all talking on her play phone. She has called Aunt Beth, Aunt Liz, Daddy, Mommy, Grandpa, Grammy, and, for some reason, her friend Drew's mommy. She has complete imaginative conversations, including salutations and sign-offs like "See you 'morrow!" She is having a blast and was kind of mad that she couldn't bring the whole thing to school with her. We let her take it to the playground yesterday and while I was walking Radar around the track, I looked over and saw Ben holding the sparkling pink bag and princess water bottle while AJ was on the see-saw - it was so cute I couldn't stand it.

Best of all, there's still room on the gift card so that if we're in "need" of something else, we can make another trip out there. Thanks again Grandpa and Grammy!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Preference

Anna June has, evidently, had a headache this week. She told us and her teachers that her "forehead hurts". One night this week, after complaining of everything from her head to her teeth to her back, I decided a little pain reliever was in order.

"Come on in the kitchen, AJ, so I can give you some Tylenol" I said.
Without missing a beat, she said, "I want Motrin!"

It is funny enough that she has a preference between the two, and sad that we've had to give her either so often she can probably taste a difference. But it was also funny that she doesn't really pronounce her "R's" very well and, therefore, asked for "Mo-twin".

So I went to give her the dose, as I was reaching for the dosing cup, she told me, "I need one teaspoon."

I looked at the little chart on the bottle, and don't you know she was exactly right? I'm sure she just remembered from the last time I'd given it to her.

Maybe she'll be a doctor yet.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Picnic

Anna June's favorite thing to do these days is to play "picnic". She gets a blanket and spreads it on the floor. At our house, she grabs her play food and tea set and serves dinner. At my parents' house, she just serves imaginary food with no props.

Her favorite things to serve are spaghetti and enchiladas. Why not? There are no refrigeration, heating, or mess issues with pretend food.

On Wednesday night, she was serving me my picnic when she had me stop so she could say grace.

She has the best time just pretending, but soon the weather will be warm again and we can go on an actual picnic. It will be interesting to see what she does when it is for real. It probably won't be as much fun.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lazy

Anna June learns things all the time that we have either taught her inadvertently, or she picked up from somewhere else. Monday morning, I asked her to put her dirty clothes into her hamper.

She said, "No."

I had to ask, "Why?"

She said, "Because I am lazy."

Ben and I both just cracked up and didn't even punish her or make her do it - we were laughing too hard in surprise that she knew the word and embraced the concept so well. It won't fly in the future, but this time, I had to let it go.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Caption Me

Anna June on Saturday night. Photo by Patrick Tucker.

Possible captions for this photo:

Give me a real beer - what is this domestic crap?
Little Ein Stein
Not going to be allowed to spend the night with Nana again.
What do you mean we can't play another game of Cootie?
There's no ice cream?
Can we please watch Dora now?
Blazers, I am disappoint.
Picnic over.

What are your suggestions?

Group Shot

Anna June had a lot of fun in Milwaukee. I'm still encountering digital photo issues, so I will just post this picture I got from Ben's cousin Havilah, pictured at left. This is Havilah, Laura, Anna June, Elyse, Lukas, Nonny, and Ben on our first day in Milwaukee, 1/13/11. Ben and I were exhausted from the flight, and AJ was WOUND UP. She is pictured in her new Dora jammies. Once again, who needs Santa when you have Granny.

Speaking of Granny, we got to Skype with her yesterday for a little while, and it was nice to "see" her again after a long Skype hiatus. We missed a little of the nerve-racking Packers game for our conversation. After a great win, we're excited about the upcoming Super Bowl. Although not everyone pictured above lives in Wisconsin, I am sure they'd all say, "GO PACK!"

Friday, January 21, 2011

Weather

Anna June is learning about weather this week in her class. She has experienced all kinds of weather in the past couple of weeks - snow and ice, rain, sun, cold and warmer (upper 50s, where I didn't make her wear her jacket)! Currently, there is a chance of snow flurries today, but the sun is shining on our side of town. In a way, I am sorry that AJ didn't get a chance to make a real snowman this year, but with the weather so crazy, it may be possible to get one in sometime this season yet.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Pretending

Anna June is getting good at pretending. She wants to be Cinderella, and last night she had me play the wicked stepmother. Let me just stop here and say that if I actually were a stepmother, I wouldn't allow my stepchildren to watch that movie...she gives stepmothers a bad name.

She asked me to give her chores to do, so I did. She didn't want to stop playing. She didn't want to come take a bath because she was scrubbing the kitchen floor with a wet rag. Believe me - I didn't stop her!

She asked if her dad could be the "boy stepmother" and I convinced her to allow him to be the handsome prince. They ended up dancing at the ball.

This morning she was looking for some blue beads like Cinderella wears with the outfit the mice make. I think this is OK, but surely we'll be out of this phase soon.

Monday, January 17, 2011

P is for Potty

Anna June is learning her letters. She's getting that certain sounds begin certain words. She's also pretty good at her potty training - in fact, I recently declared her completely potty trained (although she has been for a while). Sometimes, though, I have to convince her to use the potty. To make sure she sits long enough while she tries, I sing the alphabet to her. The other day, when I got to the letter "P" she actually started peeing, and we cracked up because it was so on cue. She thought it was so funny she even told her teacher about it.

The letter P, though, also begins the word pride - as in what goes before a fall. Anna June did great on the trip to Milwaukee and back. In fact, when we were packing, I found her sole remaining pull-up, and I asked if she wanted to wear it on the plane "just in case". She told me in no uncertain terms that she does not wear Pull-ups anymore. She was very attune to herself on the trips, which made both Ben and I venture into the airplane bathroom by our turns - neither of us loved that, but it was better than the alternative.

Returning home, we had to make a couple of stops to drop off my mom who graciously picked us up and to pick up the dog - who, by the way, is currently shunning me for boarding him at the vet all week. Anna June was so excited to finally be home that she started running around and looking for a "princess dress" to dress up in. I was in the middle of cleaning up a different mess in the kitchen that I'd left since Wednesday night only to hear her declare from her bedroom that she needed to go pee pee. I told her to go ahead - she is more than capable of going to the bathroom, turning on the light, and doing all that is necessary for a successful trip to the potty ALL BY HERSELF. Instead, she peed on herself right then and there in the closet.

So, basically, our plane landed at 3:35 on schedule, and before 5:00, Ben already had to put the steam cleaner back together and use it!

Meanwhile, I couldn't find my cell phone and realized it was probably in the bathroom of the B'ham airport - where I'd been talking to my Mom while washing AJ's hands and face after she ate the umpteenth sucker on the trip home. We used a wet wipe on the plane, but as we were going after our luggage she declared she needed to go wash her hands. I asked if she needed to go potty, too, but I foolishly believed her when she said no. We returned to the airport's lost and found...I had called my cell phone and the lady at the information counter answered it! I am very lucky!

And we are glad to be home!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Trip So Far

We have had a wonderful trip to Wisconsin with Anna June. With all the relatives spread out, it has been impossible to get enough time with everyone, but here's a rundown of what we did.

Thursday - we arrived after relatively smooth plane rides. There are still no direct flights from Birmingham to Milwaukee, but each year I still hold out hope. We flew through Baltimore and during our layover, AJ played with a little girl named Lily who was also going to Milwaukee to visit her grandparents.

Thursday evening, Annie made us a fantastic chicken dinner and Ben's cousins Lukas, his wife Elyse, their friend Rose, and Lukas' sister, Havilah (who happened to be in town from Arizona) all came by to visit. Anna June napped on the second plane, but was very wound up and I have to say I'm glad our visit was short - it took AJ forever to settle down. She has her very own toddler bed in her Granny's room and she was very excited to see it and all the fun toys and presents Granny had for her.

Friday morning we visited the Milwaukee Public Museum. We saw an exhibit on mummies, while Annie and AJ saw an exhibit on frogs. We had lunch in the cafeteria there, and then we went back home for nap time. The flaw in the plan was that AJ fell asleep in the car on the way back, and in taking her out of the car in super cold temperatures, she woke up, and a nap couldn't be regained.

Friday afternoon, we went sledding. We went to McCarty Park, where there's not really much of a hill, but there was a small one just right for our first sledding outing. We had 2 plastic sleds and one "saucer". It was fun, I have to admit. Annie asked me if I was cold. I said, "Yes, I am cold. It is 24 degrees outside!" It was getting dark, and AJ was tired, so we didn't stay out long.

Friday night, Ben and I went on our first official date of 2011. We went to a little malt shop in Greendale. It was very good. We both had our must-have items when we come to Wisconsin - Ben had a fish fry and I had custard: Irish creme with chocolate chips! Worth every penny and calorie.

Saturday morning we made a donut run. Ben has decided that Krispy Kreme donuts are fine, but they're not the same as smaller places they have around Milwaukee like Honeydip Donuts. We went over to Gary and Pam's house for a while. Anna June brought along a tea set and within minutes, Gary was on the floor having a tea party with her. It was hilarious. From there, we went to visit Grandma Gallitz in her nursing home. We hadn't seen her since she fell ill almost a year ago, and I have to say that we were a little shocked...the last time we saw her she was driving herself around town and this time she couldn't walk. We were, of course, aware of her condition, but it is always hard when you haven't seen someone who is sick. She is much improved and seeing Anna June sing and dance did her a lot of good.

From there, we went to Chuck E. Cheese for lunch. The food was, of course, nothing to write home about, but the company was fun. We had a great time visiting while Anna June played on various games. Her favorite seemed to be a game where she got to talk on the phone to Chuck E. and various characters. It was a lot of fun - and AJ has tokens to spare, so she's ready to go back. The highlights from the trip were that Grandpa bought her some pink cotton candy and her tickets were enough for some purple sparkly lip gloss. It has been all over her face ever since.

We went home to nap, and again, she fell asleep in the car, but this time, we were able to get her in bed before she woke up. Of course, she fell out of her bed and woke herself up later, but I got a decent nap in, myself. Saturday night, Annie made a delicious dinner of porkchops and potatoes. Nonny and I stayed up watching a chick flick (The Family Stone) and I was still in bed by my bedtime. Whoo hoo!

On Sunday, we went out to breakfast with Grandpa and Grammy, and then we packed up and went out to the tip of Lake Winnebago to visit Grandma Kraker. She and her daughter Susie recently moved out of Milwaukee to be with her daughter Amy out in the country, about 2 hours away. AJ napped on the way there. When we got there, we ate a fantastic lunch and Anna June and others went out for a little hike. They walked a little on the frozen lake - don't worry - it was REALLY frozen! Anna June got pulled around in a laundry basket tied with a rope, which she enjoyed. Then she got to sled by herself on the green saucer on a very tiny hill. I skipped this outing to stay warm - it was my fault, but it seemed like my feet have been cold this whole time and I couldn't stomach going out when it was 11 degrees, even bundled up. The cold air did AJ good, and she fell asleep on the way back, too.

Annie made an Italian sausage and rice dish for supper. In the midst of dinner, AJ got up and ran over to Granny's chair and said, "Granny, you make the goodest food!" It was the best accolade she could have received, I think.

We're going to be sad to have to leave, but we'll be glad to get back to normal. Between the holidays and the snow, it has been a long time since we've had to work a 5 day week. This week will be hard, but next week will be harder. There are 3 grant applications I need to be working on at my paying job, so if I neglect to blog in the near future, please note that it is in the name of medical research.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Busted

If you follow this blog at all, you know that Anna June has extremely helpful grandparents - all of them are so generous and eager to help. I must have been talking about how much I was looking forward to visiting Milwaukee, in part because I want to see everyone and show how much AJ has grown, but also because I'm extremely lazy and my mother-in-law is an excellent hostess and never lets me lift a finger. She cooks, cleans, and babysits. When folks questioned our judgment for visiting Wisconsin in January, I commented that I could deal with the temperatures being in the single digits - I just wanted a break.

As soon as we settled in to watch a movie, Anna June looked over and asked, "Mama, do you need a break?" I said, "No, I'm fine." She insisted, "But you said that when we got to Milwaukee you wanted a break!"

So, I was busted. I did want a break - and I'm getting one. We're having fun so far and we have lots more fun planned!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Free Long Weekend

Anna June and I had a long weekend due to the horrible, icy weather. I can't find my camera's card reader, so descriptions will have to do.

On Saturday, we went to Columbiana to visit Kym, Ken, and Teygan. AJ had a great time as we celebrated our delayed Christmas, and she especially enjoyed the fresh fruit and yogurt dip they had prepared for us. She napped in the car and actually took a decent nap at home, too, while I went grocery shopping along with everyone else in the entire state of Alabama. We did some things at home, and then went to my parents' house to celebrate my dad's birthday with spaghetti, homemade bread from Patrick, and brownie sundaes. I asked AJ to tell my parents where we had gone that day, and she said, "Chick-fil-A!" This was true, as I had registered for a free spicy chicken biscuit, which I claimed that morning for breakfast, even though AJ was very tired and had such a meltdown that Ben had to take her outside. It has been a long time since that happened.

On Sunday, we went to church, and that was the last time Anna June set foot outside our house until this morning. The snow, we told her, was not good for making snowballs, since it was mostly ice. It rained pellets of ice for hours, then it snowed as an afterthought. It was just yucky. Ben donned his snow boots to take Radar out. Radar cannot stand to be either cold or wet, so he hated this weather event as much as any humans did.

Luckily, we never lost power, and I am grateful to God and the Alabama Power Company for that. The roads were so bad on Sunday and Monday that we couldn't have left if we tried. Our next door neighbor called from her daughter's house on Monday, asking if the roads were OK for her to come home. I looked out the window and saw sheets of ice on the road, barely disturbed, and I told her that if I was her, I would stay an extra day. I'm sure she was ready to come home, but I bet her grandchildren were glad to have her longer!

On Monday, we were all home, as UAB and daycare were both closed. Like I mentioned, we couldn't have gone anywhere if we tried - our hill is very steep and it was covered in ice! Ben was bored, but Anna June stayed surprisingly entertained. On Saturday, we had checked out about 10 books and one movie, The Aristocats, from the library. We watched it Monday. And Tuesday. It was worth it! AJ also watched Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and episodes of Arthur and Caillou this weekend. Did I mention I'm grateful the power stayed on?

Because we were forced to stay home, we were able to tackle some projects like putting away the Christmas decorations, mountains of laundry, and various culinary exploits including building a gingerbread house from a kit, cupcakes, tuna salad, and quesadillas. Sometimes, I wish I had time to stay home to do all these things on a regular basis, but I also realize my true talents lie elsewhere.

On Tuesday, daycare was closed, but UAB was opening at 11. Ben had to go to work, and I stayed home with Anna June, reporting to my faculty members and supervisor via email. There were, unfortunately, several issues I needed to deal with, so I did spend some time on Monday night and Tuesday throughout the day online. AJ spent some time online, too, as we played a game with Elmo on the Sesame Street website, where the kids click to "color" pictures that form a book with Elmo narrating a story. AJ liked this, although she couldn't quite figure out the trackball mouse herself. We will work on it again at another time - for now, she just told me what colors she wanted things. It was very cute.

AJ used her imagination a lot, and also played with her many toys, several of which were Christmas gifts. She pretty much stayed in pajamas the whole weekend, except when she wanted to dress up like a princess. Last night, she rejected almost every dress in her closet because they were "not fancy enough." I wonder if my friend Michele has taken over AJ's brain! All she likes is pajamas and fancy dresses! And high heels!

Anyway, while one of my faculty members called to check on some thing, we were chatting away and AJ interrupted me to tell me that "Radar didn't want to go to her princess lessons." After I hung up, I told her that maybe a boy dog wasn't interested in princess lessons, whatever those are, but she said that hers were for boys, too. Later she had "dancing lessons" in her tent and other funny things.

This morning, AJ had to be dropped of at my mom's house, because daycare isn't open until 10, but UAB is in full swing. She was very excited, particularly because we were sending the "cabin fever" cupcakes we made yesterday to her class. We were going to make the cupcakes from the mix that Patrick and Liz gave us as part of our Christmas present, but we were short one egg. I quickly went to the internet and found a recipe that called for only 2 eggs, and the project was saved. AJ and I each had one, and the rest are headed for school.

Even though I probably displayed poor parenting by not taking AJ out in the snow and ice (I almost fell several times taking Radar out on Tuesday - there was no way I was letting anyone less sure-footed than I out of the house!), all in all it was a pretty good break. Anna June spent lots of time with her dad coloring and making things like paper snowflakes while I cleaned up. Ben cleaned the carpet in the den with our (relatively) new steam cleaner, and I got a LOT of things done, although not nearly as much as I should have. Anna June had fun, made messes, and, to my utter delight, took naps each and every day.

I hope that everyone's experience with Snowpalooza 2011 was just as good. We are headed to Milwaukee tomorrow in hopes that we'll see real snow, and can get folks who are equipped and used to building snowmen and going sledding to help AJ do these things.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Snow Problem

Anna June has been very funny this weekend, with lots of imagination and wordplay. But the best thing she came up with is something she told me this morning.

"Daddy doesn't make mistakes."
"He doesn't?"
"He just makes jokes."

It has been icing and snowing here for hours, and school and work have been canceled for tomorrow. As long as we have power, I have a million things to do here at the house, and this is truly a blessing to have to stay home. Please pray that we do not lose power, as we chose to stay here and try to be comfortable/productive rather than travel to a place with an alternate source of heat.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Lollipop

Ever want to see how AJ eats a lollipop and watches the Packers game at the same time?

Lollipop from Ben Gallitz on Vimeo.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Do You Know the Muffin Man?

Anna June got tons of fabulous presents for Christmas this year. Aunt Liz and Uncle Patrick gave her a set of kid-size cooking utensils (spoon, spatula, etc.) and an adorable cupcake apron. They also gave us mix and frosting and a cupcake carrier, which is what I specifically asked for. When we went to the beach for Halloween, I had some cupcakes leftover from AJ's class, and without the proper carrier, they were disastrously messy.

While we haven't baked the cupcakes just yet, we did make some muffins this past weekend. Granny Annie and Auntie Nonny sent down a winter box of fabulous things, one of which was a snowman canister of lemon muffin mix. Anna June really enjoyed using her very own spoon to stir up the batter. It fit her hand so much better and she had a lot more control in her movements, which resulted in less spilling and more actual stirring. I am always impressed at how the right tool for the job can make the job so much easier!

This morning, of course, she asked to make muffins again, but I told her we were out. This is true. It is also true that I know how to make muffins without a mix, but it was more true that we were running late, and frozen waffles were just going to have to do.

So this is AJ, in the first photo I took of 2011, in her pajamas and apron, making breakfast. It is shaping up to be a good year.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

More Prettier




Anna June loves dressing up. Yesterday, after dinner, she asked if we could help her take off her daytime clothes. We asked her why, and she told us, like it was obvious, that she wanted to "dress up!" So we found a princess dress and she picked out jewelry. She's fond of telling me now that a piece of jewelry or ribbon gives something "just the right touch" (which is a line from her beloved Cinderella).

These pictures are from Liz's camera from Christmas morning, when she first received her Cinderella jewelry. The first thing she asked her daddy when he got home last night was if he could fix her earring. It was a serious tragedy, but she didn't even bother asking me.

When she put on her jewelry, she asked if she looked "more prettier". She did, of course.

Finally, it was time to take a bath, and she told me that she was "Anna June PRINCESS". I helped her take off her dress and she said, "Thank you, Mommy QUEEN!" I like the new title. I wonder if I should start signing my emails with that.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Dentist's Nightmare


Anna June got a giant lollipop in her stocking. She took about 3 or 4 licks, and then decided she didn't want anymore right then. We put the giant sticky thing into a baggie to be continued later, but it may not ever be rediscovered. It did make for a cute picture, though.

Some of my other blogging friends are sharing some of their New Year's Resolutions on their pages, so I thought I'd join in.

1. Work on overall health of myself and my family. As you can see by the photos, I'm not doing too well on that one! But sweets in moderation are OK. 3 or 4 licks counts as moderation, right? And it is fat free, to boot! Unfortunately, I was probably in the kitchen eating Belgian chocolate at the time Ben took these.

2. Work on organizing our house. This will involve getting rid of some things. If you're one of the people we send hand-me-downs to, watch out! You're about to need more room at your house! (Or just take it to Goodwill and I will never know the difference!)

3. Save money. We may have to cut back on things we love, like dining in the fine fast-food establishments of the Birmingham metro area, but if I could pay off my car early, it would be worth it.

4. Take and share more pictures. Anna June is growing up really fast. We did great when she was a baby but have slacked off on our picture taking, even though she can do more and more interesting things. Plus, blog posts without photos are pretty boring. I apologize.

5. Get Anna June to sleep, consistently, through the night. At nearly 3 years old, AJ still wakes up often. Saturday night she was up so many times she ended up sleeping on the floor beside our bed. While we can't eliminate nightmares, we can work on a consistent bedtime routine, decent early dinners and fewer late nights. So far this year we're not doing so great, but I did have a talk with AJ about how she's going to have to figure out how to replace her own blanket and reposition her own body on the bed when she's uncomfortable at night. It was a "good" night last night when I only intervened once, and Ben checked on her once. That has to stop. It is our fault she doesn't have good sleep habits, but this is the year to work on it.

6. Be happier. We are so blessed. We have a wonderful family, fantastic friends, a nice house in a nice neighborhood, cars that run, an adorable dog, jobs, and unlimited entertainment options. While I certainly need to focus on solving problems, I also have to stop and show gratitude each day for the wonderful life that we have rather than whining about what isn't perfect. As The Beatles put it, "All you need is love," and we have that.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Off to Church


Anna June is big into copying everything we do these days. She wants to be a part of the grown-up world. On Sunday morning, after watching Cinderella and eating cinnamon rolls, we got ready to go to church. I showed her that I was wearing tights, and she wore tights, too (although not the first pair I picked out). And I put my hair in a ponytail, hoping she'd follow suit. She did, despite the fact that she yanked it out not five minutes after we got there. I put on a necklace, rings, and lipstick, and so did she. She wanted to wear her purple jacket, so I wore mine, too. I told her she looked pretty and asked if I could take her picture. She wanted to take my picture first. As you can see, her shot of me turned out better than mine of her. We had to pause for a moment while I inserted the memory card back into the camera. She said, "You didn't remember!" I told her that was ironic, but she didn't get it. Anyway, we looked pretty - which was good since I ended up serving communion due to the lack of others present. She wasn't tickled that I had to leave her to go up front. But she eventually decided that she was OK when it was time to go to Children's Church - I told her they were having apple juice, and she was all in.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Tent

Anna June enjoying her Dora the Explorer tent on Christmas day.

Untitled from Ben Gallitz on Vimeo.