Friday, September 30, 2011

Hoarse

Anna June has a cold. She is experimenting with her hoarse voice. She fell in a parking lot last night, scraping her knee and elbow and cried/screamed all the way home. As she heard her voice change, she screamed more, as it was interesting and new. Unfortunately, this experimentation went on later in the evening, and resumed this morning. All the way into school she found reasons to scream: she thought I was going to forget her Show & Tell item (Ernie begins with E), she didn't like that I was brushing her hair, she didn't like the shoes she picked out, she hated her socks, etc.

The teacher has been put on alert to call if she gets worse. With her many years of tantrum-wrangling behind her, I am sure Ms. Kaye knows what to do. But I have to say that I was glad to get to work, where I have only adults to contend with. Even the constant hammering and drilling in my building will not deter me from this version of peace and quiet today.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Educmacation

Anna June has very, very sweet teachers. They work very hard with our children and, from what I understand, earn very little pay and no benefits. They all love our daughter, and, according to them, AJ is very bright, and is a natural leader. She excels at everything and loves school.

But her teachers can't spell. This has been true in every class since the Creepers days, and possibly Infants, but I was too tired to read her daily reports back then. I've been working on trying to overlook it and not to rock the boat, but now that AJ is learning how to read, and soon will write and spell words, I am slightly concerned that the people in charge of teaching her have problems with basic words. In her daily sheet yesterday, instead of "contact" the office, it said "contrat" And really, I've been very, very good about not criticizing them - my inner perfectionist has really cooled off. But a while back when we got this artwork with ice cream, my favorite food in the whole wide world, misspelled, I had a problem. Would you? If you're going to spell it "creme," at least use the correct accent mark to make it crème! But we don't eat ice crème at the Gallitz house - we eat ice cream. And AJ usually likes vanilla, although we've recently ventured out into mint chocolate chip, butter pecan, and rocky road.

I've been thinking about AJ's future education, possibly beginning as soon as next year with 4K. With private schools around here, you can basically either go religious, hippie, or yuppie. I'm a bit of all three, and I'm really hoping for an education that can help AJ develop into an independent young lady who has well-rounded interests and experiences, is polite and helpful, and has outstanding academic achievements. And can spell. Is that too much to ask?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Accidents Happen

(The picture has nothing to do with this post. Just look how great AJ's coloring skills have gotten!)

"Shoo!" Anna June said to the mosquito in the backseat, on Monday morning.

I rolled the windows down in hopes the bug would fly out.

When we got to school, Anna June asked me the same question she always asks when in her new booster seat. "Can I unbuckle myself?" I answered the same way I always answer, "Yes, you may."

I rolled up the windows and turned off the car, turning my head to see why AJ had suddenly begun screaming. I had rolled the windows up right onto her two smallest fingers on her left hand.

I quickly turned the car back on and rolled the windows down to free her. The whole ordeal took less than ten seconds, but it was enough to have me shaken for quite some time afterwards.

Ben was with us, and had already gotten out of the car when the screaming began, so he was in a good position to get her out of the car and comfort her first.

At first, when I told her to bend her fingers, she didn't bend those crucial two. My insides turned to jelly. She finally understood what I wanted her to do, and her fingers bent just fine. I turned the conversation to asking her if she knew a good place in the school building to get ice. "The cafeteria," she said, wiping her tears away.

We quickly went inside and the teachers were super fast with an ice pack. AJ had already ditched it by the time we were leaving. Two days later, there's not even a bruise.

It did not get our week off to a good start. I've talked to lots of moms since then, and it seems that every one of us has unintentionally injured our children. This is probably the worst I've done so far, and I hope it is the worst I'll ever do. The feeling of hurting a person that you are supposed to be protecting is something I would not wish on my worst enemy. It is devastating.

So, Moms, how have you injured your children? How long did it take you to recover?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

System

Anna June has been making a lot of art lately. Her teacher started a new system yesterday of sending it home in a folder. On the front of the folder, it said "Bring Back Folder." After only one day, I failed - the folder is still on the kitchen table. I also need to unpack and make AJ finish her homework that she was supposed to bring back yesterday. Good thing she doesn't actually get grades yet.

However, I should give myself some credit: I got AJ's tuition paid and I remembered to bring some coupons we got in the mail for the "Extreme Couponing" basket in the lobby. Most importantly, I remembered to bring something for the Smell Test. This week, the kids are learning about the Five Senses. Yesterday was Johnny Appleseed's birthday, and they had a taste test of different kinds of apples. According to AJ's class, they voted that red apples taste the best. (The sheet showed AJ voted for red.) I sent my small container of Japanese Cherry Blossom hand sanitizer, but AJ insisted that she didn't want me to bring THAT for everyone to smell. She wanted to bring a red apple. So, they can cut that up and smell that, too.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Back to Reality

If you're a loyal reader of Anna June's blog, you may have been wondering why I haven't been posting for nearly a week. However, if you're actually a loyal reader, you're probably related to me and you probably know why: we've been on vacation! I've been trying not to post ahead of time anywhere on the internet that we're leaving town for security reasons, and for me, the mom who shares everything, this has been pretty difficult, since we were so excited about the trip!

We had a simple plan: we'd meet Ben's mom and sister in Panama City Beach, Florida, for vacation on Wednesday, and we'd leave Sunday. Then the plan got more complicated.

About a month ago, my grandmother Hazel had eye surgery. Her sister, Helen, who lives in Panama City, drove up to Birmingham to help take care of her and drive her around while she was unable to see. After Grandma was cleared by the doctor to drive, Aunt Helen stayed on, because my Uncle Chip (Grandma's son) was going to be having major heart surgery in mid-September. Helen didn't want Hazel to go through that worrying thing (that we mothers do) by herself, so she generously stayed. The day after Chip's epic surgery, Helen woke up very sick. Grandma, after visiting Chip during the brief visiting hours allowed with ICU patients, took her to the doctor. Then, my Uncle Scott, who is a surgeon, called. Once he heard about Aunt Helen, he insisted that she be taken to the ER immediately - he thought she'd had a stroke. It turns out that all that medical training came in handy...she had had a small stroke in the back of her cerebellum! She was in the hospital for a couple of days, but was remarkably able to have nearly full range of movement, her mind intact, and basically, was completely fine.

One of Aunt Helen's kids will drive her back to Florida when she's ready to go, but one thing is certain: she won't be making that long of a drive solo again. Which left the problem of what to do with her car.

It was a no-brainer for me...we'd already planned to go down there, so we decided I'd take her car and Ben would drive the new car. It worked out great - there was even a car seat already installed. Coincidences, I believe, are when God chooses to remain anonymous.

Annie and Nonny's flight, with one stop planned in Atlanta, turned into a delayed flight, with an additional stop in Memphis. Luckily, they knew about this early enough to call us so we weren't breaking our necks to get to the airport only to discover they weren't going to be there!

We had time to get to town, drop off the car, get the air conditioning turned on in the cottage, go grocery shopping and eat dinner before we had to pick them up.

But their luggage didn't make it to town at the same time. Since we were staying at my cousin's beach house (technically, my first cousin once removed, if anyone is keeping score) - it is not the same as staying at a hotel. I had to call Mom to get Ginger's number to call her to ask her for the exact street address of the house...we'd been there before and we just drove until we came to it! Imagine someone actually needing more direction than "right next to the donut shop!"

The luggage showed up, the weather was gorgeous, and Anna June had an absolute blast. Once I get pictures back from the others who weren't too lazy to take them (hey - I was on vacation!) I will post them and tell more details of our adventures.

I didn't take but one picture on this whole trip - I really did leave that to Ben and Nonny. But if I had to take one picture only, I'm glad I got this one. Basically, from Wednesday night until Sunday morning, AJ was tickled to be with her Granny. It happens too seldom and AJ enjoyed having someone to play with. Granny is probably exhausted, but she claims she had a good time, too.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Pictures from Nashville

I posted these other pictures from our trip on Snapfish, although none of them are very good. I usually post on Picasa, but Snapfish may be easier to get prints from.

Vacay

On Labor Day weekend, we visited with my best friends from Emory, my Alpha Phi sisters, Amy, Jessica, Kristina, and Sarah. In the fifteen years that we've known each other, three of us have gotten married and had kids. So when we got together in rural Tennessee, we brought the kids and husbands along.

Unfortunately, I didn't get many photos, but from this picture, you can get a sense of how great the mountain home was:


It had 5 bedrooms, which worked out perfectly.

AJ slept on a pallet on our floor, which, at first I was wary of, but she got the hang of it. It also helped that she wore herself out each and every day, and even napped on our trip.

With five children along, and with the oldest being only four years old, there weren't a lot of coordinated group activities for the weekend. We enjoyed visiting, though. AJ had a lot of fun with her new friends - they played her game Elefun, played ball, and colored together.

We arrived late on Friday - we were the last ones there. Sarah and Jeremiah live in the area, and they also worked on Friday, but Jess, Amy, Kristina and their crew all flew in on Friday morning. They had time to visit the children's museum in Nashville - they had a great time. After a lunch outing, they were able to check into the house and go grocery shopping, make dinner and get kids ready for bed before we arrived. They were all still awake waiting for us, but we didn't stay up long - we were pooped.

On Saturday, we took advantage of the hot weather and dragged out a baby pool we'd spotted under the house. After AJ and Savannah (Sarah's 2 year old) helped me clean it out, the oldest girls Jada, AJ, and Savannah went swimming.

On Saturday night, Sarah's fantastic nanny and a babysitting friend came out to the house to watch the children while the adults visited the Bluebird Cafe. Sarah has been several times and was in the know on how to get tickets for us. It was fantastic, and just like on TV.

On Sunday, it rained, so our outdoor activities like bubble blowing were curtailed. Eventually, in the afternoon, the kids settled in to watch Hoodwinked, a movie we'd brought along but hadn't seen. The adults didn't care much for it, but the kids thought it was OK, although AJ was a little scared by the wolf.

The kids ate dinner first and were bathed and put to bed, with the intention that the adults would eat next and stay up to play Humm...ble, which is the best board game ever that we discovered back in our college days - we still try to play it at least every time we get together.

Let me backtrack. I had a vision, before we left home, of the three older girls getting a bath together. Anna June, being an only child, has never had a bath with another kid. I do think that is one of the experiences I've been robbing her of - it was pretty much a daily activity for us when we were little...who has time to give kids 4 separate baths? So I had mentioned it to her. I did not know, however, about the giant whirlpool tub available at this posh getaway. In the master bathroom, there was a rain shower, and this incredible tub, which handily fit the 4, 3, and 2 year olds. When asked about our vacation, Anna June quickly told everyone, "I took a bath with my friends!" It was very cute and very exciting. Others got pictures, and I hope they'll send them when they can, although I don't know if I should post them or not. I do want to have them...they were all having such fun.

Of course, after that excitement, AJ did not want to go to sleep, and kept creeping up the stairs to give us one reason or another why she did not want to go to bed. Jada joined her in our room for a slumber party, and Jada, though she took a late nap, actually wanted to go to sleep after a while, and AJ did not. It eventually made Ben decide to skip playing the game to go sit outside the room to referee, and made me skip a second round to go to bed myself.

We tried to get a couple of group photos as we were leaving, but it was probably worse than herding cats. With so many children, there were lots of things to pack, plus showers and potty breaks to take before everyone ran off to catch planes and get on the road ahead of Tropical Storm Lee. The storm made it difficult to drive and knocked out our power at home for 16 hours!

But I will leave you with a couple of the shots I did get of the kids. Even though they're not cooperating, you can see how adorable they are.

AJ, Jada holding her sister Nora, Savannah holding her brother Gabriel





Our little legacies: Labor Day 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011

What's in Your Purse?

Before Anna June came along, I would like to think that I was somewhat organized, punctual, and level-headed. Now, I'm hopelessly tardy and forget words for common household objects, like a hairbrush or a step stool. I believe just this morning I was heard to have said, "Get up on the thing so I can do the thing with the thing."

But now, I have completed the full transition into crazy lady. If I were ever to appear suddenly on that old game show, "Let's Make a Deal!" I would be sure to win a prize when it came time for the host to ask for a random thing in the ladies' purses. For example, until just now, I've had this picture in my purse all week.



I don't know which adult helped her color this at church, but I can tell they were more into it than she was - I am assuming she was still too mad at me about her shoes.

And while I don't agree with the illustrator's lack of capitalization, I think this picture, which I am assuming is of Moses parting the Red Sea, has a good message for us today.

Now, if anyone drops by my office and is having a bubble emergency, I have two bottles of Super Miracle Bubbles on my desk. I gotta get this place cleaned up.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Soccer

Well, Anna June's school didn't let me know ahead of time, but soccer lessons were moved to Wednesdays due to a scheduling conflict. So, yesterday was actually AJ's first day of soccer. Also, I figured in on not losing a week because of our upcoming vacation since it was supposed to be on Tuesday! I know it is not a big deal. But still.

She attended in her tightrope walker costume. Because that's what you do when you're three.

She couldn't tell me the teacher's name, but she did tell me that she played on the green team. I asked how it went and she said, "Great!"

I'll have to take her word for it! Maybe one day on a Wednesday, I can swing a morning off, but it doesn't look like it will happen anytime soon.

We went to Moe's for dinner to celebrate.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Circus Day


AJ's school is having Circus Day today. When I dropped her off, I saw lots of clowns, tigers, lions, and elephants, but I didn't see one other tightrope walker.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

New Backpack




Since Anna June didn't need anything, I declined to go back-to-school shopping amidst all the crowds this year. She's in school year round and had everything she could possibly use.

Except I did not take into account how ridiculously hard we are on things. Evidently, zippers in particular. Since our seamstress has been ill, I have accumulated at least five things I can think of that need new zippers. One of them is AJ's pretty new panda bear backpack, something my friend brought her back from China. Her turtle backpack with her name on it, which can be seen here, is also experiencing zipper issues.

Since we ended up at Target on Sunday night, we searched for a reasonable sized backpack for AJ that wasn't over-the-top or too expensive. They still had all the backpacks displayed. Ben and I were hoping for something that wasn't branded, but we got outvoted when AJ saw this one with the Disney Princesses on it. The flap with the design on it folds down to reveal yet another design. It's like 2 backpacks in 1. She is so excited about it that she has shown it to everyone. She told me that Brooke has a backpack just like it, but I saw Brooke with a completely different one yesterday - maybe she upgraded, too.

Today is also the first day of soccer lessons. I hope they go well - I am pretty excited about it. Of course, if we had only waited a little longer, now they're offering basketball lessons, too!

And she asked to "read" this book in the car this morning. I thought the story would be too advanced for her, but for some reason she's enthralled. She was complaining she couldn't read it by herself and I told her to look for "A-b-e" and "H-a-t". I could almost see the wheels turning in her head in the rear view mirror.

I'm not thrilled that AJ chose her casual shoes over the sneakers she has, but our compromise was that we'd go shoe shopping this weekend. At least she's in shorts instead of a dress and closed toe shoes instead of sandals. That is progress.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Not Again!

Anna June's school called me the other day to let me know she'd have yet another different afternoon teacher. Miss Margot had a scheduling conflict, and now AJ has Miss Wimberly. On her second day of her time at McElwain, the kids weren't where they were supposed to be, and Ben spent quite a while walking all over their campus until he finally found them.

It turns out - although we were never told - that the Three Year Olds (unlike any other class in the whole center) have a separate afternoon classroom, around the corner from their morning classroom. Ben and I did miss a few minutes of the parents' night on her first day of school, and evidently, if this was covered, we were just late enough to miss that critical information. On the schedule, they are to be in the indoor playground from 5:15-6:00, which is when we always pick her up, unless something happens. It seems the afternoon classroom is more for crafts whereas the morning classroom is more for academics.

Both teachers and at least one administrator heard about our frustrations and all apologized.

I spent some time on Friday talking with the new teacher, about a separate incident which involved AJ, for a scary moment, being left in the restroom alone. AJ was upset, but found her friends immediately, and the teacher, it turns out, was just around the corner retrieving the kids who had run off. After a "Pow-Wow," they all seemed to understand the rules and the offenders apologized.

I'm glad I got to talk to the new teacher for a bit. She was glad to know that AJ is now three and a half, because she said she's miles ahead of some of the other kids, at least one of whom just turned three. AJ is good at being a teacher's helper and following instructions. She has a good understanding of what is expected of her and is sweet to the other children. According to this teacher, who's only been there 3 days, AJ is one of the best behaved kids and is very mature for her age. I told her teacher that I'm glad AJ can hold it together at school, but at home, she often falls apart! She had her share of meltdowns this weekend, but I blame that on our crazy schedule instead of the new teacher.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Catching Up


Here are some pictures of Anna June from the month of April. I figured I'd better post the Easter pictures since AJ's already being asked what she wants to be for Halloween.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Booster Seat


Anna June was having difficulties with her car seat in Ben's car. Ben recently adjusted it to make it bigger, but by Tuesday night, one of the straps had come loose. Seeing as how she's less than 5 pounds away from the weight limit, Ben took her to Target to find a new, more-grown up, backless booster seat. This seat uses the car's seat belt. If necessary, it will be easier to move from one car to another.

AJ was mid-meltdown about her outfit choice for wear Red Day. They're learning about red, and, sadly, she has only red fall/winter clothes - there's nothing really appropriate in her end-of-summer stash. I tried to get her to wear her Alabama shirt, but every single time I try to put it on her, she screams. We tried on and looked through multiple options, but she really wanted to wear her snowman jumper. This morning, though, she really didn't. She was sad that the jumper has a zipper and the shirt I made her wear underneath has a button. I literally forced her to wear it, anyway - declaring that decisions (even ones made the night before) have consequences, and that we did not have time to change.

The only thing that got her out of the house was the promise that if she calmed down a bit and hurried to get ready, her dad would take her to school and she'd get to ride in her new booster seat.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Jamie the Class Bear

In Anna June's class, Ms. Kaye has a teddy bear that each of the children get to take turns caring for over the weekends. Jamie, the class bear, got to come home with AJ first, since her first name is first alphabetically. Only we weren't going home for Labor Day weekend - Ms. Kaye made it a point to ask us if it would be OK if Jamie went on our trip with us, and I didn't hesitate to say yes!

Jamie has her own tote bag, complete with a change of clothes, nightgown, blanket, stuffed animal, bedtime story, and toothbrush. Anna June was very excited about the toothbrush. We hadn't even made it from Birmingham to Leeds before she was unpacking Jamie's bag and looking for the toothbrush. We looked high and low at Rusty's before we left with the food we were taking on our trip, and couldn't find it. I tried again when we stopped for dinner, and I still couldn't find it. Anna June was very upset - I told her I would completely empty the car in the daylight on Saturday until I found Jamie's special toothbrush, and if I couldn't find it, I would just have to get another one.

As we unpacked for the night, we found the toothbrush in the pocket of the bag. AJ and Jamie were relieved. AJ "brushed" her teeth without water and without incident.

While Anna June made friends and played on our trip, Jamie mostly stayed in our room. There were, after all, 5 kids in the house, and Jamie needed some safety and security. She's a white bear, and I didn't want her to come back smeared with jelly or something else similar.

I had envisioned taking pictures of AJ and the kids with Jamie, or at all the places we stopped, but that didn't happen.

We did, however, remember to write in her journal on Monday night when we returned, but we had to do it by candlelight. Tropical Storm Lee knocked out our electricity.

Jamie got to spend an extra day with us, since school was closed due to the storm. AJ found she didn't have the patience to change her clothes, but wanted me to do it on her behalf. This morning, when we were rushing to get the humans in our house ready, I had to put Jamie back in her school clothes, too.

Maybe in 9 or 10 weeks when it is our turn again, we can do a better job of entertaining Jamie.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A-N-N-A J-U-N-E

On Friday, Anna June told me how to spell her name for the first time. We were riding in the car from Leeds to downtown Birmingham, about to take off on vacation, and out of the blue, she said, "A-N-N-A J-U-N-E!" I was so proud. I may have swerved a little driving down I-20 reaching into the backseat to give her a high-five. She was a little disappointed, though, because she knows she still doesn't know how to "draw" it.

I really am excited about this, as each time we've worked on her name, it has ended with her saying N too many times.

I knew it was coming, though, because a week or so ago, she came home and said, "Amber is A-M-B-E-R." We were a little amazed, and asked her how to spell her name. "AJ," she replied, like we were stupid. (Side note: When she started the 3 year old class, her teacher asked if she preferred AJ or Anna June. She told her "AJ." It was news to us that she had a preference - we'd never asked.)

Her last name will be next. If she can spell it, she will be ahead of some of my relatives.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Regression

Anna June, as I sort of expected, regressed a little bit with the change to her new class. Luckily, her behavior has been basically fine, but unfortunately, her potty training has suffered. She is really fine, but perceives that a tiny dot of wetness warrants a complete wardrobe change. Her new teacher that started Monday has already changed her two or three times. It resulted in her running around with no undies at my parents' house last night for an hour or so while her panties "dried out" even though they were not actually wet. This is getting ridiculous, especially since we're about to ride in a car with her for over three hours. I am hoping that our vacation will shake this out of her system and reboot her.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Similarity

Anna June does not like it when I fix her hair. Usually, the compromise is that I will try to detangle it and she'll brush it afterwards, proclaiming that I "did her hair crazy". The other night, she did this, and brushed her hair straight up in the front. She looked directly at the mirror and exclaimed, "I look like Gordon Lightfoot!"

In case you don't know what he used to look like, here's a picture.


Here's how AJ looked when she said it:


Not an exact resemblance, but I thought it was pretty astute for a three-year-old. Also, please don't give me any flak for her too-short pajamas. She refuses to give them up, and a recent shopping trip to get a new nightgown yielded only the exclamation that it was "too silky!" I absolutely give up. She is so frustrating - I asked Ben if I could sell her on eBay, but he said I'd have better luck with Craigslist.