Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Last night, Anna June's school had open house for the parents of the 3 and 4 year old kids. They talked about the gymnastics and soccer lessons they're offering (through outside vendors) and they also talked about how they want to form a PTA for the daycare. At first I thought this was really ridiculous - all the parents work, and that's why our kids are in child care in the first place. But the more I thought about it, the more I think it is a good idea.
Let me be clear - I am not volunteering to be the president of the PTA or even a room mom. In fact, I think if I volunteer for one more thing Ben is going to volunteer to leave me and not come back. But I think the rest of this post is going to be an email to the school to put on the agenda for the first meeting.
1. Someone should be in charge. This person should be a good organizer, and someone who gets along with the three ladies who work in the office.
2. There should be a room mom (or dad) who is in charge of within-class communications. They should keep a directory of the names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses of all the parents - and who their kids are - in each class. This will not only help us get to know one another but will also greatly assist in birthday party planning, thank you note writing, and play date arranging.
Side note: I realized that I met Maddie L.'s mom at Zumba on Saturday, and I introduced myself as "Anna June's Mom" after asking if she was "Maddie's Mom." We have names. It did not occur to either of us to use them.
3. The room parent should be responsible for helping the teachers send emails to the parents for reminders and news. Things like "Anna June has a new afternoon teacher because Ms. Beverly got promoted" should be announced. We shouldn't have to rely on the small children for information. It would also be good to remind us about days when they have to wear/bring certain things or when money/homework is due. Currently, the teachers don't have access (or time) to do emails during their shifts. If they were to call a room mom and tell them what needs to go in an email to the group, I bet she could do it - from work, even. :)
4. Just like in elementary school, the parents should take turns volunteering for the class parties (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, Easter, End-of-the-Year, etc.). However, we should all be aware of the facts that a) we all work b) all our kids have all the cheap junk they could ever need or want and c) we all spend too much money anyway. So the parties need to be reasonable affairs, not something that could get us on reality TV.
5. On the subject of money, our new PTA should have a treasurer, but let's not give him/her very much to do. I say we do not need dues. We pay tuition to go to the school. If there's a special project, fine, but let's automatically include all the parents in the PTA and not make them pay anything.
6. The idea of a bulletin board for teacher/parent notes is a good one, but the real issue is the AM and PM teachers need to communicate with each other directly. I never want to hear, "I don't know - I wasn't here." That is not helpful.
7. Ben and I are pleased with Anna June's academic progress, not that it couldn't be better. At school - never once at home - she has memorized entire chunks of The Little Mermaid and has made countless pieces of hand print art. Maybe if the parents get together and say something, we can step up the expectations.
Our director said how she wants this to be a preschool and not just a daycare, which is what we want, too. I just hope that whoever takes on this task is ready for me.
Monday, August 29, 2011
We've overcome a difficulty I was having with our USB port at home, because Anna June's brilliant and handy dad found an extension cord to help me out. I have uploaded the pictures from March here.
I have about 80 pictures in this album, many of which have been posted on this blog before. It's a really long process to upload over our (sometimes) slow connection. I hope to get to April, May, June and July sometime soon.
Looking back at these photos, it is amazing to see how many changes have taken place since then. AJ's friends Ms. Susan, Garvey, Drew and Sophie Belle have left her daycare, and Brooke and Lily have moved up to the 4 year old class. AJ has gotten taller and thinner, and has bigger hair now. She is kind of over earrings and in to headbands. She still likes dressing up, wearing dresses, and many of her toys, although some have been reallocated. She still loves sweets of any kind and adores all of her family, including Radar.
The main reason we were forced to take a look at these photos was that AJ had a school assignment to bring in a few of her family. Surprisingly, there aren't too many of all three of us, but there was this one in here we were able to use.
Friday, August 26, 2011
Not knowing how she'd react, I told her, "Grandma Kraker is very sick and she's in the hospital."
"Oh!" AJ exclaimed.
"You know what's nice to do sometimes when someone is sick? We could make her a card to send to her to let her know we want her to get well soon."
"Or, we could just buy one at Publix," she suggested.
One way or another, we will most likely send a card of some sort. But we're thinking about her right now. We love you, Grandma!
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
On the way out of our mostly successful lunch, AJ was carrying her to-go cup of Sprite. She said, "I have Sprite, but I wanted lemonade."
"Well, they were out of lemonade. The waiter told us that the lemonade was broken."
Then, a complete stranger who had heard this exchange as she was also leaving stopped me and said, "That is so good how you're explaining everything to her!" I said thanks, but I thought, wow, this lady must not have had a three year old recently. If I don't tell her preemptively, there's going to be a "why" question coming!
Also, I thought, are there parents that don't explain everything? I have found that giving an explanation, even if it is one she doesn't like or understand, helps curb meltdowns. On the other hand, maybe it undermines my authority and no longer leaves "because I said so" as a reasonable explanation. But I am glad she is still curious, and as best as I can, I still try to explain things.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
On Sunday, she wanted to bring some books along to look at during church. I told her I wouldn't be able to read to her during the service, but she could bring what she wanted. She packed her own backpack, until it was full!
She brought 10 books, a coloring book, a pen, and a snack of raisins (for children's church time in the other building). At some point during the service, I looked over and she had taken all the books out of the bag and started lining them up like this. She was so proud of her handiwork - I took this picture to show you all.
Even with all of the entertainment, she was sort of paying attention during the service. I looked over and she was coloring a picture of Cookie Monster in her coloring book with her butterfly pen, and singing (very loudly), "GLORY BE TO THE FATHER! AND TO THE SON! AND TO THE HO-LY GHOST!" So, at least everyone knew she was still there.
I was actually a little surprised that she didn't want to go to the library on Sunday afternoon and came up with the zoo instead. That was OK. As you can see, we're not at a loss for stories to read at home.
We bought Hooked on Phonics for AJ, and we've done the first lesson. She did pretty well. She pretty much knows all the uppercase letters, and the lowercase letters are next. Certain fonts still confuse her, but she can do pretty well. We read the story "Roar of a Snore" last night, and she correctly identified all of the letters on the cover. We're getting there!
Monday, August 22, 2011
Anna June has learned the power of a promise. She hasn't yet learned the distinction between "mentioning something as a possibility" and a real "promise".
When she woke up from her nap yesterday afternoon, I had all kinds of ideas about what we should do with the rest of the day. But she asked, "When can we go to the zoo?" So I decided that we could go right then - that's the beauty of having a membership and living 10 minutes away, and the summer hours when they are open until 7 pm.
So we went to the zoo, AJ in her bumblebee bathing suit, prepared for the splash area. She wore her flip flops (against my suggestion) and by the time we had seen the elephant, giraffes, zebras, lion and turtles, AJ was freaking out at the little bit of skin that had ripped between her toes. She did not like the shoes I had packed as an alternative, either. I ended up carrying her most of the way to the splash pad. She had asked to have a "snack and a cool drink" sometime right before the shoe meltdown, but as soon as she saw that water blasting skyward, she forgot all about hurt feet and snacks, and went and got wet. We had a high of 98 degrees, and I kept wondering why there wasn't a similar area for the parents! She played for over 30 minutes, and had an absolute blast.
When it was time for her to move on, I asked if she was ready to go. Then the whining began, but not the same whining as the other kids whose parents told them it was time to leave. Anna June merely whined, "But you promised me I could have a snack and a cool drink!" So, we went to the snack bar with AJ's special zoo money - thank you again, Granny! - and she selected orange juice and chocolate pudding, complete with whipped cream and sprinkles. This was right before dinner time, but, seeing as how she wasn't in tears like the other kids, it was her money, and, in her mind, I promised her, I thought it was worth it.
I ended up letting her eat the rest of the pudding in the car, since we were on our way to eat at Rusty's. She did eat her dinner, but just could not understand why I wouldn't let her have dessert!
Friday, August 19, 2011
"Bagels," she requested.
"Sorry," I replied. "I will add it to the list."
Requests for grapes and pastry were met with the same reply.
This morning, she knew exactly what she wanted, "Pop-Tarts. With Icing. And Sprinkles."
I knew we had them. But when I got to the pantry, they were gone.
"Ask your daddy if he ate them all," I told her.
His answer was that he did not recall.
So I let her have a Fit & Active meal replacement protein bars. They are chocolate, and they're not bad.
Ben loves them because they're cheap and convenient. I love them because AJ will eat them and not mind that they're not what she originally had in mind.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Here, AJ's posing beside Miss Bunny, one of the two school pets. She loves to let them lick her fingers.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
We asked why she had been the lucky recipient of three stickers. "Well," she said, "I got these for being still and quiet, and this one for just being AJ."
That certainly does deserve a sticker.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Yes, this dress is too short. But she rescued it from the give-away pile to use it once more. I figured since she has to wear shorts/bloomers underneath it anyway, it is OK. After all, today is not the day for first impressions - that was yesterday. She can go back to being her unique self.
Her class has a total of 10 children: 5 girls and 5 boys. Five of the children (counting AJ) are McElwain veterans. Three of them are transfers from First Baptist of Irondale, which has just closed its school program, leaving teachers and parents scrambling. There is a set of twins, who, I'm told, can be told apart by their shoes (one wears Velcro and one wears laces.) Two of the kids have never been in formal child care before. There are two girls named Maddie. AJ is especially glad to have her friends Amber and Maddie H. with her.
There was a parent Meet & Greet session last night, so we learned all about what the kids will be learning. Basically, there will be themes each week/month. This week is all about the rules of the classroom. Next is "All About Me" - where I have to scrounge up some photos of the family. Ms. Kaye loves animals, and is responsible for keeping the school pet bunnies, Lovey and Miss Bunny. She's planning a class field trip to the zoo!
AJ's comment on what was different between Pre-3 and 3? "We don't have to sit in booster seats in the cafeteria!" We asked Ms. Kaye about this...AJ is tall enough although some still have to sit in them. I guess that's one of the many benefits of being tall!
Monday, August 15, 2011
On Thursday, I visited my doctor to see about this persistent headache I have had for over a month. She thinks it could have been caused by eye strain, and begun a cycle. She wanted to break the cycle with medicine, so she gave me a steroid injection and a prescription for Reglan. This combo made me dizzy, drowsy, and hungry. In fact, it was so bad that I discontinued it after I spent most of Saturday flat on my back, resting my eyes or sleeping.
Anna June was very, very sweet to me. I made it through making breakfast, but that was about all I could handle. After I retired to my bed, Anna June made me a get well card. She watched a movie with Ben. She played all over the house, making creative messes as she went. I stepped out of my room to find a "hat snake," a snake made of all the hats and some accessories in her drawer. She put up her tent and used it for a tree house, putting a pillow, blanket, and other things inside for her comfort. When she added a little broom and dustpan, I commented that it was like a preview of an NYC apartment for her. (Maybe I should have said dorm room - this upset Ben a little.) She colored a bit. She dressed up a little. She read stories and generally entertained herself.
Ben took her on an errand and out to lunch, but I think it's my fault for letting them get such a late start - AJ would not nap upon their return. I did, though. I napped and napped. And once she was in bed, I went to bed, too. I did so little it was like a lost day. I really have very little idea what happened.
Sunday morning found us watching just about all 52 of AJ's videos that we have stored on Vimeo. It is really incredible to see how much she has grown. It was a calm, fun activity that had us entertained from breakfast to church time. But AJ started whining about 9 am and did not stop. Her dress was evidently uncomfortable, as were her shoes and socks. She whined during church, sat in the aisle, refused to put the offering in the plate, turned her back to our friends who stopped by our pew, and generally was being so bad that I contemplated just taking her home. We toughed it out, though. When we did go home, she whined about the quality of the leftovers I served. She also whined about having to take a nap, but luckily, she finally crashed.
We stayed home from the store, the library, and other places we usually run in the course of a weekend, although we did go to Rusty's for dinner. She ate well, and I was relieved. She must have been starving since everything at lunch had been "yucky" to her! I think this version of calm was what we needed. AJ selected her entire outfit during the afternoon yesterday while Ben was watching the Brewers' game, and we painted her nails red to coordinate. I am happy to report that this morning, on her first day of the Three Year Old class, she did not argue about one single thing: not a sock, shoe, skirt, or headband, although she did briefly complain about her shorts/bloomers situation. It was not the full-on whining we've gotten used to. She ate breakfast, and even had time to put on some red lip balm before school.
I'll have more on her first day of school soon. I don't know what happened to my post late last week about eating ravioli - I tried to post from my phone and it seems to have disappeared. I'll just add it to the list of things I don't know what happened to.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
When the director and her teacher complimented her skirt, she swiveled her hips like a pro!
She will begin 3K on Monday. She will also be taking an extracurricular class, but she is having trouble deciding between gymnastics and soccer. She was leaning toward gymnastics, but after I read her a book we'd checked out on the subject, she said she'd rather play soccer! We'll see. Once the check is in the mail, though, she won't be allowed to change her mind.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
"Well, I punched Shaela and I hit Maddie."
"What? Why did you hit your friends?"
"I didn't hit Shaela. I punched her."
I think I'm going to have to sell her to the gypsies.
Monday, August 8, 2011
That pretty much went away when she went to spend the afternoon with my dad. They watched cartoons and hung out, and generally had a good time. He made her a fantastic cheese quesadilla for dinner. My grandfather was also over for dinner. Afterwards, we gave him a ride home, which turned out to be a blessing for us. No matter how tired AJ is, she will not fall asleep in the car between my parents' house and our house, because it is only 1.5 miles - not enough to get a snooze going. But the additional mile or so from Granddad's house had her asleep...at first I thought she was faking it so as not to have to take a bath. But she was honestly asleep and in her bed (albeit with her shoes on) by 7 pm. This gave me time to go to the grocery store and watch TV with Ben afterwards. I was thrilled.
But it was too good to be true. She woke up at 3 am, crying because she wasn't in her pajamas and I hadn't read her any bedtime stories. I made her use the potty, I got her in her nightgown, and I read her just one story. I think it took both of us a while to get back to sleep after that, but I think she slept OK after that.
This picture is not from this morning, as Ben took her to school. She did have the same breakfast, though: a cereal bar. Some days we are so rushed, this is how we end up. On this particular day, she wasn't able to finish her bar before we got to school, so I snapped a picture while I waited for her to finish.
This is going to be a crazy week for all three of us - I hope everyone else's is calmer!
Sunday, August 7, 2011
Anna June really enjoyed her trip to Alabama Adventure.
We had a good time as well, although the soaring temperatures and long lines at some things made us wonder what we'd gotten ourselves into.
My strategy was to get to the park early so we could beat the heat and the skipping-naptime-itis that plagues us nearly every weekend. This went OK.
We got our season passes, even after the ticket taker took our pass that we needed for guest relations and the lady had to retrieve it.
We had to eat lunch, which we will not be doing in the park again, as it was expensive and not good.
After lunch, we explored the theme park side. We rode the "Giant Wheel", which was an awesome Ferris Wheel. AJ loved it.
We then rode on Woodchuck Run, which was great but somehow we didn't get very wet. Wild River Gorge wasn't open yet, so we went on to the water park, Splash Beach.
We enjoyed the Warrior River, Kahuna Waves, Salamander Bay (the kid's area), and Castaway Island. We left to dry off as soon as it was past nap time and AJ was getting fussy. Coincidentally, storm clouds were rolling in so that was our excuse to get dry and ride the carousel. We also wandered back into the theme park area to see where the kiddie rides were - there are more than I expected!
We have a whole list of things we'll do differently next time. For example, after reading the ride descriptions since we have been back, I noticed that both for the lazy river and the wave pool that AJ was supposed to be wearing a life jacket (provided). Well, nobody told us that! I guess she either looks taller than she is or we looked like we had it under control.
The main thing we'll do differently is to bring another kid along that AJ can ride the kid rides with. For some things, parents are off-limits!
We were smart enough to leave our phones and cameras at home, so as not to get them wet or lose them. So you'll have to make do with the stock photography.
Saturday, August 6, 2011
Anna June's behavior comes in phases. Recently, she's been very fussy about her clothes.
This is a picture of the last outfit I ever plan to buy her. I bought it at the Carter's outlet in the Spring, when I realized that the only dresses AJ liked were sleeveless and twirled. And for school purposes, they had to have matching bloomers or leggings. So I took AJ to the store, tried this on. We tried on other things. This was the one she liked. I bought it.
For months, she has refused to wear it.
On a recent school day, I went, in order, down the dresses section of her closet. Some things I deemed too fancy to wear to school. The rest were fair game. There were some she rightly pointed out were too small, but mostly, she just didn't like them. I am pretty sure this was just for the attention. But the day she wore this outfit, as it was the last one in the closet, I wrestled her into it. She cried. She screamed. She pouted.
Once she calmed down a bit, she told me it was the leggings that were uncomfortable. "Too bad," I told her. I do not care whether or not she feels or looks like a princess, at some point.
We're trying to all lay out our clothes the night before, with the understanding that no one is allowed to change his/her mind in the morning. This seems to be going well, knock on wood.
Friday, August 5, 2011
As you all know, on April 27, 2011, our state was hit by several very dangerous tornadoes. These storms had been predicted, and I grumbled because school was let out early. Now, I should go back and personally thank each school administrator who let the children go home. Many were saved because the school closings made our general population sit up and take notice of the weather sirens going off, the constant coverage on television and radio, and the thunder and lightning starting to come in.
Now every time someone mentions Tuscaloosa, Anna June remembers that day or the day after. She tells me that they were watching TV downstairs at school and someone said, "5 tornadoes! That's a lot!" I'm planning to go to Tuscaloosa this weekend, but it's for a sorority meeting that didn't happen back in May, since the University was deeply impacted by the storms. I have a feeling that, even months later, I will be shocked.
Now seems as good a time as any to mention two blogs that I've started reading faithfully - I should add them to my blog roll. The first one is Laura Kate Whitney's Magic City Manifesto. Patrick and Liz are good friends with LK, and even though I've only met her once, she and I have a lot in common. Well, she's a better writer, a better cook, and has more kids, but we share a lot of enthusiasm for Birmingham. Recently, in this post, she mentioned the Southern Living article about the storms.
Which brings me to the other blog I read, Gold Shoe Blog, by Erin Shaw Street. Erin used to work in the Cancer Center (down the hall from me) before moving on to Southern Living, and she wrote so many of these pieces. I have so much respect for her as a writer, blogger, and mom.
Here, through my volunteer work with the UAB Benevolent Fund, I have been doing my own little part. The day after the storms, a separate fund was set up under the BF for tornado relief for UAB staff, faculty, and students. We raised over $125,000 to give to these families. These families will have ongoing needs, and the fund has worked with other university entities to create a forgivable loan program to help deal with these. There is also our regular employee emergency assistance program, where our employees may receive a gift from the fund to help with these unexpected and dire needs. During the 2 months that followed the storm, the EEAP committee met daily to help distribute these funds. It was an amazing effort that directly helped give hope to those in our community who have lost so much. Although I was limited in what I could do, I am proud to be part of this group of volunteers. This month, I begin serving on the fund's executive council as recording secretary. It is truly an honor to have this university-wide post.
On a lighter note, I think that moms in our area now think twice when we have the urge to ask our kids to clean up their rooms because it looks like a tornado went through.
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Anna June asked for ravioli for breakfast this morning, but we convinced her to have a cereal bar instead. Since we did have a can of it in the pantry, I told her we could have it for dinner. Last week at school they had it for lunch, and she got so messy she had to change clothes. She remembered that, so she picked out a bib to wear. In the time it took to heat, she tried on at least 3 of them. I haven't been able to get her to wear a bib in ages!
She took one bite and decided it was "yuck!" I guess if I had only ever had canned ravioli, I would hate it, too! Luckily, we had leftover spaghetti as Plan B.
Good thing she was wearing that bib!
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Based on the educated guess that the slime would be green, AJ and I selected her outfit the night before.
We did experience three of the highlights of the day, as mentioned in the brochure.
The first was the Oobleck Pool. While we were waiting in line, Ben used his smart phone to figure out that oobleck is a Non-Newtonian fluid named after the Dr. Seuss book, Bartholomew and the Oobleck. Oobleck is made of cornstarch and water, although I was certain that there had to be more to it than that. As you can see from the video, you could run across the pool of it without breaking the surface tension. Or, you could step in it and get stuck.
Video is located here.
The second thing was the Slip n Slime.
As you can see, she slid down the giant slide into a pool of slime. The slide was kind of tough to go down, as it wasn't very wet, but I guess that was so as not to dilute the slime.
There were also big bubble blowing stations, which AJ enjoyed. It was hot and crowded, and there was a lot of time spent standing in line, which none of us enjoyed. AJ, though, is learning to deal with these things.
The third official item was the "Decontamination Station" which was a lady with a hose to spray down the kids before going back in the museum. For some reason, when I read the directions, I was thinking that slime was sticky, and not about getting wet. I brought AJ a change of clothes, including socks and shoes, but I did not remember the underwear. Once AJ realized that her panties were going to have to stay wet, she decided that she absolutely could not deal with it, and we were going to have to go home. I did stop by the gift shop just to make sure we didn't miss some souvenir panties of some sort - we didn't. We stopped to have lunch in the food court, which is actually pretty good there (Subway, Pizza Hut, Red Mango and more) and members get a discount. AJ was on the verge of wanting to go play some more, but felt her wet underthings and freaked out all over again. I felt like a terrible mom for a minute, then, I remembered how cool I was for just bringing her in the first place. It was nap time anyway, and, even though she didn't go down right away, she still wouldn't have been fit to be in public at that point.
And we found recipes for making oobleck and slime online. AJ is looking forward to those projects soon.
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Then, of course, Sunday afternoon and evening were nothing but total meltdowns, as she was too keyed up after Alabama Adventure to take a nap. I conveniently forgot to run back by for cake - it was in the best interest of all parties involved.
But Monday morning on the way to daycare, AJ announced that I had "PROMISED" her that we could eat some cake. I told her I would see what I could do.
Of course, there was not only leftover cake but also leftover barbecue, so we invited ourselves over for dinner. After all, AJ's favorite food is leftovers!
AJ loved the food, and playing with the cats, and of course, the cake. She also liked helping Connie water her flowers, until she got mud in her sandals. Then, suddenly, it was past time to go home.
The photo above is courtesy Mandy Bryant. It is from Maxwell's birthday party a couple of months ago. You can see how AJ loves her cake!
Monday, August 1, 2011
AJ enjoyed the weekend because we were able to squeeze in some activities she wanted to do among our already packed schedule. Saturday, we baked mini chocolate chip cookies, then we went to the McWane Center for Slippery, Slimy Saturday! There was an oobleck pool to walk across and a Slip N Slime (a giant inflatable slide that landed the kids in a pool of slime). After quiet time, AJ got to watch TV and play. Blessedly, she took a nap on the couch, and she was well-rested before it was time to go to Aunt Connie's 50th birthday party. She was able to enjoy the great food that Rusty and his staff brought, play with the other children who came, and enjoy our buddy Josh playing the guitar.
Sunday came and we skipped church to visit Alabama Adventure. The park doesn't open until 10:30, but we wanted to be there right when it did, because around here, the longer you wait, the hotter it gets. Before we left, AJ had the opportunity to paint with her watercolors and Skype with her grandpa. We had been iffy on the weather forecast, so we decided to wait until Sunday morning to explain to her what Alabama Adventure was all about. She was so excited! She helped me pack up the sunscreen and towels and was generally in a helpful and good mood that morning.
Our trip was fun, and worthy of its own post later. We'll surely be going back to the amusement park...AJ loved it. I will say thanks again to my Mom for our McWane membership and to Ben's mom for the Alabama Adventure pass. We are so, so blessed - I am sure many kids in our area have never been to either place. I maintain that, as as big of a hassle as I make it out to be, I would still rather give AJ experiences than toys. So, thank you both again so very, very much.
This morning, though, when we got to school, I told AJ to tell her teacher where we had gone this weekend. "Aunt Connie's birthday party!" she exclaimed. Now, as exciting as her first Ferris Wheel ride was, and as cool as the special slime day was, the first thing out of her mouth was about the fun time she had with all our family just sitting around and eating. Which is what we do all the time. So maybe we should forget about the toys, memberships, fancy outfits, and gimmicks - bring some aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, and friends (and some cake) and Anna June will be happy.