Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Another Short Day

Anna June's school is closing at 12:30 today due to the (very serious) threat of bad weather this afternoon. I assure you that when we were young in Alabama, schools did not close so often. But this one is warranted: power is out all over town, but not here at UAB or our house, as of when we left this morning. Others have not been so fortunate.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Kid of A Different Color


In the bathtub the other night, Anna June told me something that had bothered her at school that day.

"Bryson and my friends said I was not white."

Oh no, I thought. Here it comes. AJ misses nothing, so I assumed that one day she would ask me about why some people are white and some are black. I ran through some quick thoughts in my head that were we are different on the outside but same on the inside, etc.

So I asked cautiously, "What did they say you were?"

"Pink!"

Relieved, I explained that her skin is beautiful and it is just fine to be pink.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter

Traditionally, Easter is a very busy day in our family, and Anna June saw that this year was no exception.

First up - AJ, like her mom and uncles before her, had no trouble getting up early to see what the Easter Bunny had left for her. "Is it morning time yet?" she asked me at 5:28 am. The bunny did not disappoint. Her basket (technically, a bucket) was filled with candy, a Caillou puzzle, and a Hello Kitty with bunny ears small stuffed animal. She was very surprised and delighted. She methodically went through her whole basket with me and she decided it was too early to eat candy. That, she did not get from me.

Next - church. We had picked out a warm sweater and jeans for her to wear to our Sunrise Service at 6:30. But when we took Radar outside, we realized it was already too warm for that. This is the first Sunrise Service in memory when we didn't all freeze. It was truly amazing. AJ talked me into subbing a long-sleeve t-shirt, which was pink with a "pretty poodle" on it. She also brought her binoculars (presumably to do a little birdwatching during the outdoor service) and a snack container of Cheerios. The service was only 30 minutes long, but she evidently could not make it until the breakfast that followed. Rusty and other men from the church make this meal every year - it did not disappoint us!

We didn't stick around long at church since I had to hurry back. I had offered to sing a duet with a visiting friend, Amy Holt Aviles. Her husband Paul accompanied us on clarinet, along with our pianist Jan Humphrey. It went pretty well, but I have to admit that the night before I stayed up too late watching YouTube videos of the song on my smart phone. I also downloaded a piano app so I could peck out the harmony part on my own. It has been a long time since I have sung in church, and an even longer time since I have sung along with anyone else. Harmonizing is no longer a strength of mine...to make up for having a small congregation, in recent years my strategy has been to sing the melody as loud as I possibly can. Luckily, this usually works out for me since our congregation is primarily made up of older folks. But our song yesterday, "Room at the Cross for You," was well-received. It didn't hurt that the others performing with me are all professionals!

Anna June loved her fancy Easter dress, which arrived in the box from Granny Annie last week. I believe it came from Ben's cousin Erika originally. It was absolutely a perfect fit and perfect for the day. AJ loved being dressed up so fancy. We eventually got her to wear her white shoes to match...I had to enlist my mom to help convince AJ the night before that her white church shoes would be absolutely perfect with it.

AJ was more excited, though, that Maddie Brown was visiting from Mobile. She told me later that Maddie gave her an ice cream at church. I was confused: ice cream had not been on the menu. But it turns out the girls were just pretending and playing sweet with each other.

After church, we went back home for us to change. AJ watched Curious George and Barney while I made broccoli salad. For the recipe, you can go here, but I use plain vinegar instead of balsamic.

My parents hosted our family lunch. There were about 20 family members and close friends there - what a blessing to be able to share such an amazing lunch together. We had lamb, ham and turkey - and those were just the entre├ęs. It was a fabulous feast! Unfortunately, AJ didn't eat much of it at all. She had eaten her big chocolate bunny (which wasn't actually that big, by the way) in between church and lunch. I have to say, though, that I don't blame her a bit. Besides the bunny's looking delicious, I knew it was going to be a long time before we ate, so I let her do it. Easter comes but once a year.

Also at Mom and Dad's house - the Easter Monkey came. Evidently, this is the younger relative of the original Easter Monkey, who was unfortunately hit by a Waste Management truck near Avondale School many years ago. But this EM brought painted bananas. AJ ate hers for dinner - it had orange and blue polka dots!

Since AJ was exhausted and refused to take a nap, we left in a hurry before she had a meltdown. We went home and she still did not nap (even though Ben did). Ben had mentioned that he wanted Radar to get a walk, so I decided to take AJ and Radar to the park for some exercise. At first I tried to convince AJ to leave her tricycle at home, but then she promised me that she would keep up with it/ride it by herself. So I packed it in the car.

I tried to call for reinforcements from Mom and Dad's house. I can usually handle AJ or Radar alone at the park, but not both of them. But everyone there was embroiled in their second game of Trivial Pursuit, so I took a deep breath and got them out of the car. Anna June was ready for the challenge. We went about 4 laps - almost a mile! (albeit at a slow pace) and she pedaled her tricycle about half of the way. That is the equivalent of biking a half mile. For such a small girl, this is quite a feat! The park was crowded due to a club flag football game. There were lots of kids on bikes whizzing by. I hope that when AJ gets older, she is as considerate of little ones as these children were of her. They were all so sweet - one girl even offered AJ some of her nachos!

The track at Crestwood Park is not as level as we'd like...there's an incline in a couple of places. AJ got frustrated on this part each time, the last time causing the massive meltdown I had been expecting all day. I ended up holding Radar's leash with one hand, picking up the trike in the other, and letting AJ hold on to the tail of my shirt, which has been her favorite thing to do lately (sometimes she tries to hide under it)!

We went back home where we had a light dinner. We cleaned up a little and got AJ ready for bed. She told me that she was disappointed that we never got around to hunting eggs. I had not planned on that since she'd already hunted eggs at church and at school. I told her that we could try again tonight in the house. She was very excited and content with that answer, and we finally got her down at 8:30 - and she was out like a light, until 5:30 this morning where she woke up from a bad dream. Luckily, today, I told her to go back to sleep.

Friday, April 22, 2011

What Are You Doing?

Anna June is eating ice cream at Chick-fil-A with her dad. I am at work. What are you doing on this Good Friday?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Another First!

Last night, Anna June complained that her hair was still wet when it was time to go to bed, so we did something we haven't done before - we used the blow dryer. I used the diffuser so the curls would stay intact. She looked pretty much the same when we were "done"...her hair wasn't completely dry but she had had enough. But she thought she looked fantastic and ran to show it off to her daddy. If this becomes part of our nightly routine, we'll have to start even earlier or she will never get to bed!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Letters


Anna June is working hard on her letters, although she doesn't know all of them yet. They're working their way through the alphabet, and she's almost been exposed at length to every letter. I think she knows more than she lets on.

I'm trying to get her to point out the large letters on covers of books prior to story time each night. I start with the ones she knows and we go on from there. "Which one is the Y," I ask. "Which one is the O?" After a few of the letters are pointed out AJ will look at me, exasperated, and say, "Just come on and read the story, Mom!"

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

So Many Clothes, So Little Time

On Saturday morning, Anna June got the extreme pleasure of being able to open a box from Granny Annie, mostly filled with clothes. She was thrilled!

This is the outfit she picked out to wear to the Earthbound Earthfest, an Earth Day festival. The event was in support of Black Warrior Riverkeeper, a nonprofit founded by some of our fellow Altamont alumni. Anna June got to play in the bounce castle, and it was the highlight of her day, for certain. Ben got some video, and it is forthcoming.

More about the festival: I am not actually what one would call a hippie, but I do love the earth, I love music, I try to be green sometimes, and I picture myself as a pretty free spirit, even though on the outside I may appear more straight-laced. In other words, I love hippies, even though I can only wish I were one. I have to say that things like conducting a raffle among them are futile. The poor guy was calling out the same numbers over and over, with no responses. The children of hippies, though, are much worse. One asked us to buy her a Popsicle from the ice cream truck. When AJ kept popping out of the bouncy house to get a sip from her water bottle, another little girl whom I had never met also asked for a sip. Another girl got out of the castle and put on AJ's brand new silver boots and was stomping around in them, until I asked her to stop. There is such a thing as too much sharing, folks. :)

At the festival, AJ got lots of compliments on her outfit, including her accessories, which she picked out all by herself.

Thanks again to Granny for all the clothes. Even though we picked out a perfectly good dress for today before bedtime, Anna June tried on 4 dresses this morning before getting the "right" one. Maybe it is not such a good thing to have so many beautiful clothes.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Easter Egg Hunt



Anna June had a good weekend, including our church's Easter egg hunt on Saturday morning. We invited her friends Maxwell and Drew, and they both came - it was both of their first times to hunt. Everyone found a ton of eggs...there were probably 300 eggs and 7 kids! Despite school closing early the day before for tornado watches, the weather was cool but perfect for the big day. The big question is: do we continue this next year with so few kids? There are lots and lots of hunts in our area, but I've been told that ours is the best, since we have candy in our eggs and the kids can find so many.

Also, AJ's bunny ears made it an entire year in and out of the dress-up box, until she was playing with them Saturday morning and they don't stand up any more. Even with floppy ears, she looked really cute!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Growing Like a Weed

This is some video from AJ's birthday, after we got home. Ben got out the pump and inflated her little "bouncy house". She has loved playing in it. You can see that she's getting so big she may not fit in it too much longer. You can also see that the tights she was wearing are a little snug. WARNING: Contains brief (but hilarious and adorable) nudity.

Bouncy House from Ben Gallitz on Vimeo.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Birthday

You will recall that for Anna June's birthday, we celebrated three times. Here are two clips of the candle blowing/Happy Birthday singing. They are about a minute each.

The first one was at our house:

Happy Birthday 2011 - 1st version from Ben Gallitz on Vimeo.



The second one was at Rusty's BBQ:

Happy Birthday, Second Version! from Ben Gallitz on Vimeo.



I love how Uncle Rusty peeks out of the kitchen to watch his littlest niece blow out her candles.

On this, our national "Tax Day" I would like to thank Anna June once again for being born. We appreciate the deduction. And we like having you around, too.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

More Video

This clip is from Anna June's Princess Party at our house. I thought that since princesses go to balls and AJ loves to dance, we should all dance together. I had planned a round of "Freeze Dance" which is just like what it sounds: Everyone dances until the music stops and everyone has to freeze until the music starts again. While the other little girls thought this was a great idea (for a while), Anna June gave up immediately and sat in her chair. Because AJ sat down, the other girls kept trying to sit down when it was time to freeze.

The music in the background is the Spin Doctors' "Two Princes" which I thought went with the theme. Oh, well. Maybe 3 is too young for a lot of games, anyway.

Untitled from Ben Gallitz on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Accomplishment

The thing that Anna June is super-proud of right now is her new found ability to buckle herself in her car seat. Completely. She's been doing the top buckle by herself for a while, but now she can buckle herself in the bottom part, too. So now I have to make sure we leave the house about 5 minutes earlier than usual, so she can accomplish this feat. We high-five after every time she does it. So cute!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Kinda Freaky

Last night, Anna June and I were having dinner together. Out of nowhere, she said, "On Valentines Day, in the afternoon, we went to the doctor."

Let me just say this - yesterday was April 11. Valentine's Day was February 14. So almost two months later, she remembered vividly what we did that day. Granted, it was a holiday and marked by a party at her school, but she totally remembered. I remembered, too...we stopped by Ben's office and he handed me my Valentine card and the FSA card to pay at the pediatrician (how romantic).

She is so freakishly smart sometimes, it just hits me funny.

But what was so freaky about this whole thing is that yesterday afternoon, almost 2 months after Valentine's day, I uploaded a video of AJ that I recorded on Valentine's Day...I wanted her to recite her Valentine's poem. This was, of course, take two. We posted the first botched attempt here.

If you have 5 minutes, watch this video

Valentine Poem, Eventually from Ben Gallitz on Vimeo.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Daddy's Little Girl

Anna June loves her Daddy. They were so sweet before her bedtime the other night, I just had to get this picture. Twice.

On Saturday, we had a thin slice of time between errands, so I decided I would take my car through the car wash all by myself, since Anna June wanted to sit and watch a video. Life for a 3-year-old is exhausting without a nap! So I left her with her dad. When I came home, I was greeted by this two-headed-creature:

Actually, Anna June had been running around with that hat earlier in the morning. She also pulled out her mittens and scarf to accessorize. It was 89 degrees outside. When she had on the hat and sunglasses, I told her she looked like a rapper! Ben had her playing Rapunzel with the scarf, and somehow, he decided they should hook together, and Anna June thought it was just HILARIOUS.

Also hilarious: Ben had been with AJ almost all day - and had her all to himself for about half an hour. It wasn't until dinner that he noticed the "sample" stamp across the bottom back corner of her shirt. I had let her wear it because a) it wasn't that noticeable, b) we were trying to get a very tired AJ on Friday night to make the selection for a warm Saturday, and c) I figured she'd destroy that outfit when we were outside, but she didn't. In other words, I knew about it ahead of time and ignored it, thinking it was funny. He saw it hours after the fact and was embarrassed! If it doesn't come out in the wash, I will toss it. I promise. I would hate for AJ to think that her dad is the only one who cares to save her from potential ridicule.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Elefun!



(Photos courtesy Dawn Hardman)

Anna June had another bad night last night after not napping at school, including the bad dreams/night terrors where she screams and we can't console her. So instead of dwelling on that, I decided to return to her birthday party and think about a happier time!

These are pictures of the girls playing the one truly successful game at the party: Elefun. We had played this with Anna June a couple of times, but it's not really fun when the parents are taller and just not that excited about catching "butterflies" from an elephant's trunk. The little girls, though, once they figured it out, were psyched! Anna June won both rounds at the party, if I recall correctly, and the others enjoyed it as well. I will definitely break that out at our next play date, whenever that is. We've got a busy weekend of yard work, visiting family, and errands planned.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Napless in Birmingham

With all the changes taking place at our daycare, Anna June and her friends have had a hard time napping. In fact, AJ didn't nap at all yesterday. I was dreading our trip to church for Family Night Supper, but she did fine while we were there. It took a little longer to get her to go to bed, but she was so tired she couldn't resist for too long. She still woke up 3-4 times because of blanket issues, but it wasn't so bad.

When we got to school this morning, though, AJ's new teacher said, "I hope she can nap today!" You and me both, sister! I guess it was as much of a problem for her as it was for me.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Magically Delicious

Anna June is getting old enough to where there are not many "firsts" left, but today, she had Lucky Charms for the first time.

I'm not a huge fan of the colorful cereal, but here's how it came to be at our house.

I am constantly seeking input from Ben and Anna June as to what they would like to eat. I keep a running grocery list on my smart phone. Pretty much every time we eat, I'm asking for their likes and dislikes, which are always evolving. Also, it doesn't help that I am both chronically indecisive and trying to watch what I eat. My solo grocery trips, while relaxing, often end up with a car full of ingredients for meals and snacks that no one really wants to eat.

Recently, Anna June declared that she would like marshmallows for breakfast. I told her she couldn't have straight marshmallows, but there was a cereal that had marshmallows in it. She loved the idea! So on our epic family grocery trip on Sunday, I got her very first box of Lucky Charms.

This morning, I came back from taking the dog outside and AJ ran up to me and declared that she would like to try the cereal with the marshmallows.

She ate two bowls. They were small. Then she had a small powdered-sugar doughnut.

I'd like to say a few words about my seeming lack of attention to nutrition.

First of all, I am glad that Anna June eats. She may look skinny, but she eats 3 meals and several snacks a day. Mostly, she eats well, especially at school. She eats vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, and starches of all kinds. The doctor, at each of her checkups, has said that she is normal, healthy and doesn't even need vitamins.

Unfortunately, AJ also eats a lot of sweets. We have a box full of candy from maybe as far back as last Easter...we only let her have one piece at a time and while she may have a max of 2 a day, we still have plenty left. Some days she doesn't get any at all. Her dental appointment, postponed by one of her illnesses, looms on the horizon for next month, and I am terrified that she will have cavities from all our treats that involve gummy sugar. At the very least, I know we are due for a lecture on the evils of undiluted juice, which I have been giving her for years. I will admit it - I am lazy. Also, busy. But mostly lazy. That is why I almost never give AJ chocolate milk. It would involve either a) overpaying for pre-mixed chocolate milk or b) mixing chocolate milk. With AJ, there are not a lot of seldom occurrences. When she likes something, she will ask for it ALL the time. We're basically not buying orange juice anymore because she likes apple juice better, for example. I can just picture her screaming for chocolate milk, with spoons full of sticky Hershey's syrup or messy Nesquick powder all over my kitchen. No, thanks. Chocolate milk has a lot of benefits, the main one being getting kids the vitamins they need from milk. But AJ likes plain milk just fine. So I hope to keep her on that kick, without the chocolate flavoring (or worse, strawberry flavoring) that so many kids get on a daily basis.

Although I will say that today, after her first bowl of Lucky Charms, she had green milk in the bowl!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

If You Can't Say Something Nice


Sometime last night after Anna June went to bed I had a thought: I would strive - just for today - not to say anything negative on our blog. I am having a harder time than I thought, so I will say just a few things today.

1. I love the way that AJ talks. She pronounces little like "lid-dul," for example. Almost everyone can understand her now.

2. I am happy she seems to be learning her letters. Ben has been working with her and I feel she really "gets" a new one every day.

3. It is cold, so I am happy that she wore a sweater to school today. In fact, she brought an extra one, because yesterday she shared her spare jacket with her friend Drew. I really think sharing was the highlight of both of their days.

Basically, that's all I have for now. Maybe we'll try again tomorrow.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Nothing Stays the Same but Change

Although every day can sometimes seem like we're stuck on "repeat," every day with Anna June is a reminder that, no, every day is not the same, but a changing, unpredictable adventure.

In the good news column, Anna June slept all night after having considerable bedtime tantrums from her exhausted self. We were so relieved when she fell asleep - the screaming ratcheted up our stress index several points. She did not have a nap, and it showed.

Because of the exhaustion, we did not plan our outfits last night, and this was going to be a problem. But I went into this with the attitude that today HAD to be better. I said, "AJ, it is going to be warm enough today for summer clothes!" Recently, we had divided her closet into "summer" and "winter". This is helpful when it is 40 degrees and I can say, no, it will be too cold for that sundress, we need winter clothes today! So I picked out a cute top and skirt (and ruffled "playground shorts") and declared that is what she was going to wear - I sort of got her approval first but not too much. I laid out the clothes and Ben got to be the enforcer while I took Radar outside. It seemed to work fine.

Until we got to the shoes. In addition to the 2 pairs we got on Thursday night, we made it back to Stride Right and got a pair of white Mary Janes for dressy outfits and a pair of light-up sneakers for everyday wear. AJ has been throwing full-on hissy fits when it comes to shoes, so I was expecting resistance. Basically, if you ask Anna June something, she will answer right away, but she will immediately change her mind. Sometimes she changes her mind right back. Conversations go like this, "Anna June, would you like a Pop-Tart for breakfast?"
"Yeah! I want a Pop-Tart!"
(she thinks for a second)
"But I don't want a Pop-Tart!"
"OK. Do you want a cereal bar instead?"
"No. I want a Pop-Tart."

At first, she wanted to wear her (slightly snug) white dressy shoes from Granny. I don't know where she got this from, but she said that they were "embarrassing!" (Sorry, Granny! I think she actually does like them! Maybe she decided they weren't really the best idea to wear to school since they're so fancy.) So we put on the Little Miss Naughty tennis shoes. But then she decided to wear her new light-up shoes, which are JUST LIKE her friend Brooke's. She found that idea fascinating and was excited about it - I was excited to end the yes-but no-but yes routine early with minimal whining. As soon as she got to school, she told her teacher all about these flashy new shoes.

Speaking of teachers, Ms. Susan has left McElwain, so we're very sad, but are hoping that a new teacher who is just as wonderful will apply. Please let me know if you know of any wonderful preschool teachers in Birmingham who need jobs!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Gallitz, Party of Three


Anna June usually gets to spend one part of the weekend with her grandparents while her parents have "date night". Although it sounds romantic, often date night consists of gulping down a quick bite to eat and fitting in an errand better done kid-free, like grocery shopping. I will say that I'm working on that, but that is another story.

This week, we couldn't manage a date due to a variety of factors, including that we're trying to catch up from being sick the past two weekends. Also, Rusty is out of town so AJ's Nana is working double shifts. So after an afternoon of shopping, we all three went out to eat.

Most places we take Anna June have a drive-through window. But today, after hitting 6 stores at the Summit and the Galleria, I was in the mood to sit down somewhere special. Ben had asked for sushi and since we were in Hoover, I came up with the idea of taking them to Sumo Japanese Steakhouse.

I had been a few times before for a holiday party at work, and I had been meaning to take Ben there. But like I said, our date nights are usually short and sweet, and anywhere that not only includes an hour-long dining experience but also includes twenty-minute drives each way is usually off the table. So we went as a family. I was eager to show both Ben and AJ the fun showmanship of the Japanese chefs who cook right at the table.

Incidentally, we had just read a children's book called How My Parents Learned to Eat. This story is about an American GI who falls in love with a young Japanese woman, and each is eager to impress the other by learning how to eat in a manner consistent with the other's culture. So she learns how to eat with a knife and fork, and he learns to eat with chopsticks. At Sumo, the server brought out AJ's chopsticks cleverly held together with a rubber band and some paper. She had an easier time than Ben and I did.

We also confirmed our suspicions that AJ likes sushi. A lot. She had a bunch of Ben's. We brought home at least another dinner of her leftovers, since she was too busy eating his food. So much for my guessing what she would like!

Ahead of the big cooking show, I warned AJ that there would be some fire for special effects. She said later that the heat from it "hurt" her for a minute but she thought it was neat.

A highlight for us was near the end of the cooking session when the chef tossed 3 pieces of shrimp straight from the grill for Ben to catch right in his mouth - he caught 2 out of 3! We also enjoyed tricks with eggs and utensils. It was a really fun unplanned night, even though our extended shopping trip had been planned almost to the minute. Because our dinner lasted longer, we didn't make it every place on our list - believe it or not - but it was worth it. Wal-Mart, God knows, can wait.

AJ fell asleep in the car and we were able to finish watching the movie we started watching a few weeks ago during date night - so I guess we had it after all!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Little Miss Naughty

Anna June gets her way all the time, which has to stop. The current battleground for this is shoes. AJ is very particular about her shoes, as I have mentioned before. Currently, there was only one pair of "everyday" shoes she would wear, and they were fleece-lined boots. These silver boots used to be covered in glitter, but now they are brown as all of that has worn off. They are no longer seasonally-appropriate, and we have had her feet measured and know that even these don't really fit. So last night, during an errand-running session in Trussville, we went to Wal-Mart with the understanding that AJ should help us pick out some shoes for her. (I still plan to return to Stride Rite this weekend, but we wanted to try this out.)

AJ was very well behaved. As a team, we selected a pair of pink ballet flats (like these, but pink) and a pair of velcro tennis shoes. The shoes she picked out had "Little Miss Naughty" (pictured above) on them. Ben does not remember this series of books, but I remember them quite clearly. They were cute enough, and on sale, and they fit, so AJ agreed that we could get them for her, even though we have not yet read her any of the books.

By the time we were ready for bed (after I confidently tossed the tags and packaging), she decided she did NOT like either new pair of shoes and would NOT wear them.

This morning, the tirade continued. After I finally got her dressed in a (somewhat) AJ-approved outfit, we tried 4 pairs of shoes on her, only for me to decide that she had to wear tennis shoes to school today - period. Athletic shoes are the preferred footwear at her school, anyway...kids can run and play better when they're not slipping and sliding around in dress shoes or stomping around in boots, but I am willing to let her wear whatever is reasonable, as long as they fit. These new shoes seem to fit.

She got a spanking, a stern talking-to and was manhandled into those shoes this morning. She screamed and cried the whole time, stopping long enough in the car to eat a cereal bar for breakfast. Then she started the whole tantrum up again as soon as we got to school. I explained the issue to the teacher, and then left her crying.

So I guess it was appropriate, after all, that we got the Little Miss Naughty shoes. I hope she doesn't continue to aspire to that.