Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from the world's most adorable clown, Anna June.

She wore this to school today, but she made sure to bring our cold cream so the teacher could help her wash her face before nap time.

We'll be redoing it and going trick-or-treating this evening. This will be our first "real" trick-or-treat experience. Our neighbor up the street told us that this will be the first kid making the rounds in over 25 years. We may not have much luck, but we will see!

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Anna June speaks remarkably well, but there are some things she hasn't got figured out yet.

Her cousin, Teygan, she calls Tea-Again.
The world champion baseball team is the St. Louis Carnivals.
Her granddaddy plays the pian-toe.
She puts her makeup on her vant-it-tee.

Here are some pictures from July. Yeah, I know it is October. We've made some improvements in our computer situation and I hope to be better. (Like, I don't have to hurt myself anymore to plug in my card reader.) Here's to continuous improvement.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Boo at the Zoo

(Photos courtesy Mandy Bryant)

Anna June enjoyed her first visit to Boo at the Zoo with her friend Maxwell. Maxwell (Optimus Prime) also invited several of his friends from preschool. We enjoyed seeing Bailey (Strawberry Shortcake) and Kail (Spiderman). I think there were other kids he knew there, but those were the ones that stuck by us most of the time.

We'd never been to this annual event before, and AJ loved being at the zoo at night. The whole place was in lights and (mostly) handmade decorations. The magnitude of the thing was impressive.

Anna June played tons of games, and tried out dancing in the Monster Mash area. We rode the "Scareousel" - the carousel, which went backwards. We went through the "Boo-terfly" house to enjoy the decorations. We attended "Ghoul School" where we learned to cackle like a witch, boo like a ghost, and walk like a zombie. She went on the hayride with Maxwell and his parents while we stayed behind. A huge thanks to Ross and Mandy for giving us those minutes of uninterrupted conversation, people-watching, and hot chocolate drinking - a mini date night. There were very few animals out, but we got to see some sleeping monkeys, most of whom were curled up in a heap. We got to see a real screech owl at Ghoul School, and several of the animals in the children's barn area were out, including sheep and geese, and some beautiful chickens.

AJ's favorite part may have been the trick-or-treating. Several local non-profits had set up tables in the Trails of Africa area, and we walked down the row, with AJ saying "trick-or-treat!" at each booth and saying "thank you" when she got candy. And I have to say, most of the volunteers gave the GOOD name brand chocolate candy, not the cheap-o kiddie mix. It has been hard staying out of AJ's stash this week.

Though we had planned to ride the train ("The Eerie Express") we opted to skip it, seeing that the line was well over a hundred people deep, it was AJ's bedtime and we hadn't even eaten dinner. We just couldn't see we'd get through the line before closing time, so we went on and left.

We had a fabulous time and are grateful to Mandy and Max for inviting us along.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Daddy/Daughter Date Night

Anna June and her dad took advantage of a special night at Chick-fil-A (aka The Gallitz Formal Dining Room) recently, and attended Daddy/Daughter Date Night. AJ was so excited for it, and asked about it for days ahead of time.They had to make a reservation, in advance, so it was going to be a real thing. AJ told her friend Drew while we were at the Pumpkin Patch earlier that day that they were going, and Drew wasn't that impressed, because she'd already planned to go with her dad, too! The girls got to see each other twice in one day, and they were thrilled.

They got all dressed up, and the restaurant did, too. There were cloths on the tables, including white butcher paper and crayons for the little ones. The regular order-takers became waitstaff, and came to the tables to get the orders. The place was decorated with flowers and pink balloons, and they had a photographer taking pictures of each of the dad-daughter combos. They also gave out CFA swag, such as a stuffed cow and magnets.

The event was sponsored by the WinShape Foundation (founded by Chick-fil-A's founders), in an effort to create opportunities for bonding and strengthening the relationship between fathers and daughters. After all, a girl's best role model for how a man should behave is her father. It's a lot of pressure for a dad. There were books on the tables with conversation starters, and suggestions like making Daddy/Daughter Date Night a new tradition every month or every week to give them some quality time together.

AJ insisted that Ben wear a tie. She wore a new dress, headband, and knee socks, and broke out some earrings in her dad's favorite color, although they didn't last through dinner.

These pictures were taken in the trunk of Ben's car - it seemed as good of a place as any - the light is much better outside.

When I got home, Ben had given AJ her bath and had her almost ready for bed. It was an excellent night!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Benefit of the Doubt

Anna June still hates her tennis shoes, and at dinner last night, I started talking to her again about how I don't want any more fussing, fits, or whining about them. She started in with how uncomfortable they were, and, since Ben was asleep anyway, I decided to try one more time to find some athletic-type shoes (at least shoes with a flexible rubber sole and closed toes) that she would wear.

We exhausted the salesman at Shoe Carnival, found nothing at Ross, and, finally, at Wal-Mart, we found these. I was hunting for some Mary Jane style shoes, something similar in cut to what her beloved flower shoes are, but with a more tennis shoe style bottom. These fit the bill, and the price was good. If she's going to flip out about her shoes, they may as well be $10 ones instead of $50 ones.

She PROMISED me in the store that she would wear them, and that she liked them. She promised me at the breakfast table that she would not pitch a fit. She went to try them on and it looked good that she was going to wear them. I almost waited until she had them on before cutting the tags off, but she was having trouble fastening them while they were still tied with elastic. Side note: I have got to quit shopping at stores where kids shoes are tied together. Honestly. This is not good for the parents. How in the Sam Hill are you supposed to try on shoes and walk around in them in if they are tethered to one another?

Ben had to get to work for an appointment and AJ was still slowly trying to buckle them to her liking. As soon as he was out the door, the tears started. I asked if she'd rather have her princess shoes. She said no. I managed to distract her until we got to school, when the agony of having to walk in what she deemed to be uncomfortable shoes hit her and she freaked out again. She wouldn't even speak when the teacher greeted her.

She did get me to cut the tags off her top before I left her at school, because I PROMISED her I would.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Farm Day

Anna June's school is having farm day today. The kids were asked to wear jeans and bandanas. AJ refused, and this was as close as we could get.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Worn Out

Anna June had a great weekend, and she did not want to get up to go to school this morning. She dressed up in her clown makeup and wig to go to Boo at the Zoo on Saturday night, which was the highlight of the weekend. She also went to the park to help me walk/run Radar, and she helped me return three pairs of shoes she picked out and I bought her but she refuses to wear. She got some purple loose glitter for eyeshadow for her big "got all her stickers" treat, and she was still wearing traces of it to school this morning. That is hard to get off! She got to eat pizza, donuts, Arby's, Chick-fil-A and Rusty's, plus candy she acquired from the zoo. She painted, read, dressed up, colored, and watched TV. No wonder she's worn out.

Friday, October 21, 2011

A New Era

Anna June has entered a new phase of childhood. She has been very articulate for a while, exhibiting her extraordinary intelligence and astute observational skills. But this week, she used her creativity to lie to me, and needless to say, we were not pleased.

On Wednesday, we had part 4 of our weekly battle: AJ vs. Parents in the struggle for sneakers. As I have reported ad nauseum, AJ is very particular about her shoes and at this point in time, only likes her flower shoes, the beat up, formerly adorable Gymboree gems. They have no tongue, they are hard (she doesn't have to work to get her feet in them) and she likes them. But they're a size 10 and they will soon have to go.

Back in September when she began playing soccer, we took her to buy tennis shoes, and she agreed to wear them on soccer days.

This Wednesday, as predicted, she resisted, loudly and violently, again. Ben responded by saying she'd have to quit soccer if she can't listen to us and wear shoes suitable for the occasion, especially since they clearly fit her.

I told her I wasn't pleased with that arrangement, because I don't think it is OK to just quit when things are difficult. We talked about the shoes and what we're going to do. She told me, again, that she doesn't like soccer because of her shoes.

She went to school, and I went to work. I was still upset, and talked to a ton of moms and did a lot of internet research on kids that won't wear shoes. Anna June does not have this, but there's actually a real condition sometimes associated with the autism spectrum called sensory processing (or integration) disorder, and those kids have REAL issues with wearing clothes, including underwear, socks and shoes. AJ may be on the borderline of this (asking me to cut tags out of clothes, not wanting to wear a jacket), but I don't think she has anything of the sort. I think she's just three, and stubborn. Although I do take comfort in the last line of the Wikipedia article linked above that, "Alternatively, there is evidence to suggest that some gifted children also have an increased tendency toward hypersensitivity (e.g., finding all shirt tags unbearable), which may be correlated with their greater intellectual proclivity toward perceiving the world in unconventional ways."

After school, I went to pick her up and the kids all had their shoes off - I was not pleased. AJ told me she didn't like her shoes and she wasn't going to put them on. I told her that I had plenty of time, and I sat down to wait on her to put them on. Not wanting to be embarrassed in front of her teacher, she put them on, but said, casually, "I didn't go to soccer today."

I freaked out, just a little bit, but I tried to keep my cool. I kept asking questions as to why the three-year-old gets to decide whether or not she attends the lessons that I paid for. She told me that she stayed with Ms. Kaye all day, and even insisted, "I'm tellin the twuth."

After more questioning, it was revealed that, no, she was not at all telling the truth. Not even close. I got to this point quickly because her story was a little off, and I had a hard time believing that she just sat in class instead of playing with her friends, and, if she had, I had a hard time believing that I wouldn't have received a phone call. So I said, "I'm going to call Ms. Kaye and sort this out as soon as we get home."

She said, "No! Don't call Ms. Kaye!" Uh, red flag.

It is sad that I had to use my limited lawyering skills to trap my child into admitting that she went to soccer class, of all things, but I broke them out. "So, AJ, when you went to the gym, did you just sit on the floor, or did you play with your friends?"

"I sat on the floor."

"So you admit you went to the gym," I said, as we pulled in the driveway. The look on her face was absolute terror.

She was about to cry, but didn't yet. "Why did you lie to me, Anna June?"

I got her out of the car seat, as she was despondently sitting there, mad that she had been caught.

"I didn't want to get out of the car," she said.

"I bet you didn't!" I told her.

We went inside and told Ben all about what happened, and we decided that she could watch no TV for the night (a huge punishment for her) and that she needed to go to her room.

She did, and reported back to us that she made her bed and cleaned her room. She was doing everything she could to make up for it, including apologizing without being asked. We told her that we always have to tell the truth, even if it is bad news.

I think she started to learn a lesson about creative storytelling.

Incidentally, the next day I asked Ms. Kaye to call me when she got a break. She said that AJ didn't mention her shoes or act like they were bothering her. She said that when Miss Emma, the soccer teacher, came to get the kids, AJ jumped out of her chair and raced to the door. As far as she knows, AJ played and was fine. She didn't act unhappy or otherwise act out that day. Which is more what I thought really happened.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Pumpkin Patch

Anna June has done lots of things at her age that I never did, either because they didn't exist or were not feasible to do. One of these, we did on Saturday: we went to the Pumpkin Patch.

First of all, a big thanks to all of the folks who encouraged me to go. I did not see the need, personally, to drive out to the country to select a pumpkin from its natural habitat when Publix sells them right down the street. But on Saturday morning, we got in the car and drove to Hayden, Alabama to the Great Pumpkin Patch. It was more than vegetable selection: it was an event.

Secondly, I'd like to thank Grandpa Gary and Grammy Pam for sponsoring the trip. A gift from them made all of this possible.

Next, I'd like to thank my good friends the Hardmans for taking us up on the invitation to go way out of town to meet up for this mega play date. Anna June enjoyed it so much more since her best buddy Drew could be there. We haven't actually seen Drew since she started at her new school, and we were really, really excited to go.

I'd also like to thank Ben for staying home. I know that sounds weird, but a) he didn't want to go and b) he stayed home and not only cut the grass but repaired the lower bar in AJ's closet, which came apart, probably from excessive use. I really, really needed this done to accommodate the new wardrobe that Granny sent. I was very grateful that he was able to get to it on Saturday.

Finally, I'd like to thank AJ's Uncle Patrick and Aunt Liz for coming while we were there. They brought their out-of-town relatives, Leslie and Grace, along with them, and a good time was had by all. Liz held AJ's shoes while she was in the bouncy house, and Patrick not only helped watch AJ but he also photographed the whole experience. His camera and photography skills are much better than mine, so here is a link to his Picasa album. There are over 100 pictures!

It was a beautiful day, and much warmer than we had anticipated. In fact, the pictures don't convey how sweaty AJ got in her black, long-sleeved shirt. I wasn't the only mom walking around with a hot kid in photo-op-ready clothing, but I did feel guilty! Because it was so beautiful out, it was very crowded. First, we people-watched and got the lay of the land. We walked around, ran into my friend Shelley and her crew, saw one of Drew's teachers.

Then, it was off to the attractions. We tried for the Inflatables Park, but the wait was too long, so we hit up the petting farm. We got to pet goats, donkeys, and pigs, although the ponies, llama and chickens were not as accessible.

We ate lunch next: chicken fingers and fries, of course. That poor child is like 25% fried chicken.

Then, we did the pony ride. AJ liked riding on her own pony. I walked beside the ponies as they walked in their ring, but I didn't need to - she was fine. AJ and Drew asked if they could go on the bungee jump, and we said no. The ponies were a good substitute.

We did face painting next. The girls got witches painted on their little cheeks. Luckily, these were friendly witches.

After meeting up with Patrick and his bunch, we went to the Inflatables Park. This was the highlight of the trip. The girls played on the inflatable slides for a long time, and then they bounced in the two bounce houses available to them: one was shaped like a pumpkin, and one was just a square. They loved every minute of it, but they were getting tired, so we pulled them along and went to the main event.

We went on the hayride out to the actual pumpkin patch. At this point, all the available pumpkins were all over the ground...there was no picking to be done - just selecting. And, of course, we weren't the first to visit, so there wasn't the best selection. However, there were still plenty of pumpkins in all shapes and sizes available for the myriad visitors, so we were in good shape. Again, the girls were getting tired, so it is hard to explain our pumpkin search. The parents had one goal in mind: to get acceptable pumpkins quickly, so we could get home and nap. It was almost 2:00 in the afternoon and we had arrived at 11, playing through their usual nap times. Poor AJ wanted a pumpkin that was a perfect sphere, which, I tried to explain, was really a difficult find. We finally settled on something, and Drew did too, so we could get back on the hayride and to our steamy cars.

Later, AJ declared the hayride her favorite part, because seat belts were not required.

We were still in Hayden when AJ fell asleep in the backseat. The 45-minute nap was better than none at all!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Minorly Ashamed

Anna June did not get a bath last night. Usually, you see, we can manage to have dinner out and still make our scheduled bath/bedtime routine. But when you throw in an errand like running to the library to return something so overdue they CALLED on the phone to ask for it back, it just throws us off.

Actually, AJ was really, really tired last night, and we had planned to try to clean her room, so I tried to skip her bath and make a pathway before she melted down in tears. For the record, it didn't really go that well, and I wish that I had just given her the bath instead.

However, I know that there are other kids out there that don't get a bath every night. As I was feeling kind of guilty, wondering if her teachers would be able to tell, I read a post this morning that sums up bathing kids. I fall into what the blogger, Rachel, calls "Minorly Ashamed." I get AJ bathed, one way or the other, at least every other night.

I don't know Rachel personally, but she lives in town and as soon as I meet her, I will let her know she is my hero. AJ is in between the ages of her kids, and, sometimes she makes me laugh so hard I snort. Mostly, I'm just jealous of her because she's a much better blogger than I am.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Anna June is learning a lot of Bible stories at school, church, and sometimes home. This week, it just so happened, we were talking again about Noah's ark.

Ben found this gem of a comedy routine by Bill Cosby. It's a classic, but if you haven't heard it in a while, take less than 8 minutes and listen. It is very funny.

Regarding Anna June's artwork: I have a system, it just so happens. When AJ brings home artwork, we put it in our "gallery" in the kitchen - on the pantry door, back door, or refrigerator. When the gallery is full, we figure out where the artwork should go: save it, recycle it, or give it away. If we're giving it away, we have to decide to whom. It's quite the process. Yesterday, I had to make some shipments of artwork out to the relatives and friends AJ chose - my living room was running over with coloring pages and manila envelopes. When the mail clerk asks if there's anything liquid, fragile, or perishable, I always say no. Precious is not the same as fragile.

Anyway, Noah's ark fell off the door this morning, so I thought there was no better time to show it off to our blog readers.

Also, not too long ago, we asked her if she still liked frogs. No, she replied, she doesn't like frogs. Evidently, on the day Ms. Donna asked her, she liked them enough to want to be one. But I guess that phase passed us by. (Although she was pretty excited about the frog bubble bath that Granny sent.)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sale Ends Soon

Anna June's daycare is raising money again this year. This time, it is for new playground equipment in the toddler area (much needed), and, if they raise enough money, video cameras in the classrooms.

Here is the link to the wares they are selling. Choices include cookie dough, wrapping paper, candy, and assorted trinkets. Wednesday (10/19) is the day we have to have all the orders in. According to my calculations, the stuff should arrive by Thanksgiving, but of course, now that our daycare is currently functioning without a director and the company is far, far away, I'd say I don't have a lot of control over the situation.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Cookie Puzzle

Anna June was having her bedtime stories read to her on Wednesday night when Radar started barking so fiercely, I was sure it wasn't just a kitty. It was the FedEx delivery man, leaving a gigantic box on our porch. AJ asked, "Is it for me?" I told her it was addressed to "Missy Doodles Gallitz" and she said, "It's from Granny!"

We were going through the whole new wardrobe in the box when Radar started sniffing the special, homemade, fragile part of the special delivery.

Granny had made a cookie puzzle. I had never heard of a cookie puzzle, but evidently, they are are the rage - see here, here, and here.

As soon as we saw this beautiful creation, meant to remind us of the fantastic Florida vacation we took together last month, I went to get the camera to snap a picture:

AJ could not wait, and got one of the fish before I could get the perfect shot.

This is how it looked with a piece gone. We could not wait - the cookies tasted just as good as the ones from our favorite bakery! Thank you Granny! We look forward to enjoying some more of it this weekend, while we completely re-do AJ's closet.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

This Just In

Anna June's quote of the day:

"Mom, today I passed a lot of gas and I was blowin' in the wind!"

I suspect her dad had something to do with this, but he is currently unavailable for comment.

Power Struggle

Anna June hates her sneakers. We insist that she wear them to soccer, on Wednesdays. Her foot was measured, when we bought these a few weeks ago at Payless, and these appear to fit her. I have tried distracting her. I have tried bargaining with her. I have tried threatening her. I tried telling her that Granny asked me to shoot a video of her special fancy shoes.

This morning, there was a wrestling match, a spanking, tears, and screaming that lasted all the way to school.

Her teacher asked what was wrong with her, and I said that AJ didn't like her shoes. Ms. Kaye, of course, could not understand why AJ wouldn't love these shoes: they're pink, they have princesses, they have glitter, and they LIGHT UP!

We're sick of the weekly battle. I have gotten her to concede on the pants/shorts rule...we were able to find pull-on pants for today (the high is only personal rule is that it has to be above 80 for shorts). We did have some discussion over her shirt, but she was right - the one we picked out last night WAS too small.

One thing I know for sure: if this does not get better, I am not signing her up for soccer again for the winter term. She's done as soon as this session is over. I will forfeit her future athletic success in exchange for tantrum-free mornings. She can take computer lessons instead- she can wear rain boots or bedroom slippers to those and it won't change her performance.

As far as the shoes go, we have a few options.

1. Continue the status quo. I'm the mommy, and I say she has to wear the [expletive deleted] shoes.

2. Get new shoes. I don't like this option, because she has disliked every single pair of shoes I have ever bought for her to some extent. I will be the first to admit that her feet are shaped funny. One foot needs a 10.5, one needs an 11. (Actually, it's probably closer to one needs a 10.25 and one needs a 10.5, but the saleslady said to go with an 11.) Because every shoe is different, the 11s were too big and slipped all around, so we bought the 10.5s. Her feet are long and skinny, but with a high arch. Sometimes, she'll take a wide width because of her high arch. Her big toes are growing a little crooked, too, almost as if she's curling them on purpose constantly - maybe she's always been wearing shoes that are too small. I don't think so, though. I think her crooked toes predate her even wearing shoes. I could take her to an expensive shoe store again, but she hates the shoes I buy from there, too.

3. Take away her casual shoes and make her wear sneakers to school every day, so she gets used to it. In other words, have this fight 5 days out of 7, and maybe her resistance will wear down. Her favorite shoes, bright pink with orange, green, and pink flowers on them, are scuffed up. We discovered they are scuffed up because of how she stops herself on the swings. There are bare patches and strings coming out of them. We let her get away with them, even though they're embarrassing, because she will wear them without a fight.

4. Take her to daycare with no shoes on, and sit in the parking lot until she puts them on. I don't like this option because I'm already late for work every single day and I have told her that the shoes are not worth being late for.

5. Take her to school with her regular shoes on and tell her teacher she has to change into sneakers or she can't go to soccer. This option won't work, because AJ will happily skip it.

6. See a doctor about her feet. Maybe the pediatrician will refer us to a podiatrist. Maybe something is really wrong with her. Or perhaps the pediatrician will refer us to a child psychologist - or a grown-up one for me. Because I need professional help here.

AJ's sleep has also been poor lately. For the past two nights, we've put her to bed but she claims to be scared, and needs us to sit outside her room. This is not workable in the long-term, obviously. We worked so hard to get her trained to sleep well - this is counterproductive. I know for a fact that her lack of sleep is contributing to her tantrums. But even a tired kid should be able to put on shoes for school.

Clearly, our child is spoiled. But she cannot continue to scream at the top of her lungs and literally kick me in the face all morning. Please give me another plan of action.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Halloween Preview

On Saturday, we went to Party Time, where Anna June tried on a costume but freaked out because it fastened in some way. We decided that, if she were to be a clown, we could use some of her own pullover clothing that would make her more comfortable.

Here, she tries on her wig, glasses, and squeaky nose. We also bought face paint, but the jury is still out as to whether or not she'll let us use it when it is time to dress up.

This is, after all, just a preview.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Another Kind of Bug

"A-N-N-A-J-U-N-E-B-U-G," Anna June reads the letters on her wall to me.
"What does that spell?" I ask her.
"Anna June Bug," she says.

That's pretty much the only type of bug we like to see at our house.

But we saw this one the other day, and it was kind of neat. I hope that the praying mantis decided to stay outdoors, though. Bugs drive Radar crazy (Anna June bugs and other kinds).

Friday, October 7, 2011

Picture Day

They're having picture day at Anna June's school today, which reminds me that I haven't completed sending out the pictures from her last photo session. I will get around to it, I promise.

Here is a link to the album created by the fine folks at JCPenney Portraits in Trussville. If you want to order them for yourself, you can do it directly from them. The link and album will expire in 14 days.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


It was worth noting that Anna June cooperated quite well this morning and I got to work on time. Thanks to Ben for taking her to school. We should be this organized every day!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Soccer Day

Anna June is very opinionated about her clothes, to say the least. On Monday night, when I was doing laundry, she spotted her brand new, bright orange Soccer Shots t-shirt. It is a size Youth 6-8, so I knew it would be big. But she asked if she could put it on her vanity (where we put clothes for the next day) a day ahead so it would be ready for Wednesday, soccer day.

Last night, after we checked to make sure that the weather would be warm, she picked out a pair of shorts to go with the shirt. Pink camouflage. Whatever, I thought. I don't mind, as long as she's comfortable. She told me I could pick out the socks, and since I couldn't find any socks with both pink and orange, I picked out white. She was not happy with my choice and picked out her blue Hello Kitty socks instead.

And then I laid out her new Princess sneakers. We've had this discussion so many times now, we don't even go through the whole thing. I tell her that to be a good soccer player, you need the right shoes (her lessons are in the gym, so no cleats). I tell her that these DO fit her, and since one of her feet is slightly bigger than the other, she may have to always deal with at least one shoe being a little too big.

This morning, she tried on the shirt, and immediately took it off. I told her she had 5 seconds to get on a different shirt - and she produced this tank top. Then she donned the camo shorts and blue socks, and then we were back to the shoe crisis.

"Mom," she said, "I don't like soccer."

I told her that one day, she'd be at her high school soccer game, watching all her friends play, and she will ask me why I never let her play soccer. Then I will tell her that she had soccer lessons when she was three, but she quit because she didn't like her shoes. Only then will she realize how ridiculous she's being right now. But until the end of the term, she has to stick with it.

And, more than that, she does like it. She tells me about different things they're doing, and was excited to hear that Ben wants a kicking demonstration when she gets home.

As for the shoes, I tried to wrestle her into them, but her will to get out of them was stronger than my will to get kicked in the face. She ended up wearing her "old" tennis shoes. She left complaining that they were too little, but I told her she had her opportunity for larger ones.

And we had to look through all of her dozen or so jackets and sweaters before we hit upon this one that she felt like wearing today.

I had to get a photo of the finished product. I suppose, since all of her clothing has pink, that it all matches, or at least coordinates. But this is how Anna June dresses herself for soccer day.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


I don't know when she learned the term, but Anna June professes to be "bored," a lot. On Sunday, when I woke up with a sore throat and AJ was on day four of her runny nose, I decided we'd keep our germs to ourselves and stay home from church. It was a hard decision, since we didn't go last week, but I think it was the right one. It is hard to say.

We had stayed home a lot on Saturday, too. Well, a lot for us. We went to the post office, the library, the shoe repair shop, out to pick up some lunch, and then, after nap time and the Brewers' game, out to pick up dinner for some friends who just had a baby. AJ had lots of time for playing at home this weekend, which she will tell you instantly, is her favorite thing to do.

But when I announced Sunday morning that we'd stay home, she said, "It will be boring."

I tried for a while not to make it that way.

After breakfast, we found a movie on Netflix streaming we could watch together, Babe: Pig in the City. AJ hasn't seen the original, which was way better.

Then, we finally unpacked my suitcase from our trip last week, and in doing so, we decided to rearrange the hall closet where we keep the board games as well as the coat closet where we keep the outside toys. Mid-arranging, AJ spotted her two sets of giant bubble wands, and wanted to go outside immediately. After at least getting some things shoved back into the closets, and getting us dressed and ready for the day, we went outside. We played with the bubbles for a long time. It amazes me that she can get "bored" when her attention span is now infinitely longer than it was. Then, she spotted her lawnmower and wanted to play with that for a bit. Then it was the sandbox. Since I had just been getting rid of a few things and was thinking about managing our stuff a little better, I asked her to wait in the sand box while I ran in to put away the bubbles. Being outside alone for less than 60 seconds freaked her out (although she's done it before), so she came running back in the house. She decided, in light of her minute of alone time, that she'd rather watch an episode of Caillou with me. So we snuggled up and watched those crazy Canadian four-year-old adventures.

Then, it was time for lunch. AJ wanted spaghetti. Lately, when asked what she wants to eat, she will only say spaghetti and grilled cheese. Luckily, I know how to make both, although she will say to anyone that Rusty's BBQ makes a much better grilled cheese than I do.

When Ben came home, he looked around and said things like, "What a mess! Where did all this sand come from? Why aren't you napping?" And all I could think of was that, well, we'd been busy trying not to get bored!

AJ did not nap on Sunday, so when her quiet time was over, we played a game where we cleaned up the den for the length of a song. You wouldn't think it would have helped, but it did. Afterwards, we played a card game of Wheel of Fortune that she got in a kid's meal from Wendy's. (They're doing some tie-in with the game show, too.) The card game can be played multiple ways, but we chose the one closest to the game Uno or Old Maid - you had to match the color or the number. AJ did well and won both games.

Then it was time for the Packers to play. AJ opted to watch Barney on our laptop while we muted the sound on the big TV during the beating of the Broncos.

We do like sports, although we're not the biggest fans you'll ever meet. Anna June is learning, though. Ben inflated her cheese head hat, and she wore it and walked around hollering "Go Packers! Go Packers!" We explained to her that the football game was over and we'd moved on to baseball. She returned with a small cloth baseball and a small plastic football and asked, "Which one do the Packers play and which one do the Brewers play?" A very insightful question!

Soon enough, it was dinner time, but we had a hard time sitting still, since the Brewers were in such an important game. Afterwards, I managed to clean up AJ's room so she could get into it. Her room never gets completely trashed until she misses a nap and has some quiet time to herself. Then every toy, hair bow, doll, stuffed animal, and household object ends up in her floor. I believe she tried on half a dozen pairs of pajamas when she was supposed to be napping!

Later, we got AJ a bath and read her some stories from the library. She was exhausted, and so was I. If she was bored, it was her own fault.

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Study

When Anna June's daddy was at UAB, he enrolled in a research coordinator training class and met a few people who, like he used to, enroll people on research studies. Not every study at UAB is for people who are sick - there are lots of scientific things to be learned about with healthy controls. One of these people introduced him to a lady who was enrolling for a nutrition study on phosphorous. We decided, since the money was good and we were both on campus, that we'd give it a shot. And I just re-read the consent form...since it is not a blinded study, and there's nothing that says I can't blab about it while I'm in it, here goes.

Basically, there were several baseline visits, then, they give you one week of a low phosphorous diet, and one week of a high phosphorous diet. You have to eat everything they give you, and nothing else.

Ben dropped out after one day of the food, but I am still going. Here are some things I have learned about myself.

1. While I pride myself on having seriously expanded my palate, I really dislike grapefruit. No, really. I thought that was something I'd be able to get past, but it is so bitter and pulpy - I can't stand it. Even with sugar. Yuck.

2. I talk about food, think about food, and even dream about food. I read about it and fantasize about cooking things and how awesome they'll taste, and the accolades it will afford me. My mom is a dietitian and my brother is a chef. My dad, grandfather, uncle, and brother cook for sport. My grandmother is a world-class baker, and my sister-in-law is an officially trained (and also outstanding) one. Food is how we relate to each other. But when I was asked to eat certain food - every single bite - it was difficult. It was a job, and it lost its magic. Although I often clean my plate, being forced to is kind of harsh. No wonder the experts advise against it.

3. I have a serious gum-chewing addiction. I have started chewing gum at work when I am stressed, which is nearly constantly. Not being able to do it while on the study has been stressful in and of itself.

4. I miss my hot tea. Even though I switched to decaf years ago, I basically have a cup of hot tea every morning at work. It perks me up, even if it is Sleepytime Chamomile.

5. I also miss alcohol. I am not a drunk, by any stretch of the imagination. But I have a couple of open bottles of wine at home, and several beers, in addition to a few closed up new wine bottles I have been waiting for. Even the hard liquor that I barely look at seems to be taunting me from its dusty shelf. Drink me! I must continue to resist, especially during baseball and football games.

6. I do not miss going out to eat. I have actually had my fill lately, and to just be home (or at my desk) and slow down is kind of nice. It is also nice not having to make a decision. I-don't-know-what-do-you-want-to-eat is a very, very tired pattern in our house. I like not having the responsibility right now.

7. I do miss the time with AJ and Ben that going out to eat affords us. Believe it or not, we spend less time together when I cook at home. Often, AJ is in front of the TV and Ben is on the computer when I prep, cook and serve dinner. Those minutes are instantly transformed into togetherness time when we're in the car or at the table at our local dining establishment. So, there's that.

8. I feel guilty when I do something for myself. It takes a long time, it seems, to unwrap and cook all the things in my bag from UAB to eat. I would rather be on to the next thing, but this is just a chore, joyless because it is for me and me alone.

9. I don't like eating alone. Ben and AJ have been good about trying to stay near me while I eat, but it just takes so long - all or part of my meals are by myself.

10. I am terrified of messing someone's study up. I've worked on study data for nearly 9 years now, and I am so scared of being the patient who has missing values next to her name. Of course, there are statistical methods to deal with these problems, but I don't want it to be my fault. I even sent a text to the study coordinator when I came down with a cold to see if it was OK to take OTC cold medicine - I didn't want to mess it up!

11. My idea of portions is out of line with what a healthy balance is. For breakfast one day on the study, there was a bagel with cream cheese, a piece of bread to toast with butter and jelly, orange juice, and a banana. I would have usually picked one of those things and the juice and called it breakfast. On the other hand, they did not pack snacks, so eating a big meal can prevent that. My usual problem - I eat a big meal (or a meal high in carbs, sugar, fat or something else that should be in moderation) and then I eat snacks, too. You can keep some items for a snack later, but you may as well do it while you're doing it. Also worth mentioning: their portions of meat seem tiny. They're probably in line with what I'm supposed to be eating!

12. I brag too much. I've been telling everyone that I'm doing this thing - I must be admired for being a participant, even though I'm being paid. I've offered that info up way too readily, too. I'm so gauche for crying out loud! But it is not classified info and it will help me pay for Christmas. Or, retroactively, to cover our vacations.

13. I am invited to social functions - constantly - related and unrelated to work, that center around food. So far, I have attended one birthday party, am going to another one, and am also planning to attend a farewell party at work, and a potluck dinner at church. It will be hard to "just say no" even though everyone knows what I am doing and why. (See #12 above.)

14. I want to be the boss of everything. I keep thinking of telling the study coordinator and PI all these things I'd have done differently. Like put each meal in its own bag so the frozen stuff can be defrosting, which I understand why they didn't do. And giving us more precise cooking instructions. And that they should tell us things like whether or not to keep the urine "hat" collector between collections.

15. I am so susceptible to advertising, especially when I'm hungry. A friend posted on facebook about a new drink and I wanted one right then! As if under normal circumstances it wouldn't take me more than 14 days to be in the store, remember I'd heard about it, look for it, and buy it all at the same time. And soda is totally bad for my GERD. But I would so go down to the vending machine right now and get a drink if I could.

16. Bad habits are hard to break. In my diabetes prevention/weight loss program I've been in this year, we've talked about the fact that, as a mom, I eat a LOT of extra calories off AJ's plate. I realize that I wouldn't eat off my boss's plate if we were out to lunch - why do I feel compelled to eat off AJ's when she leaves food behind. I am not a garbage disposal. But it is absolute habit to pick up a fry off her plate when she's dawdling or a piece of bread when I'm carrying her plate to scrape into the garbage. It is ridiculous. An article I read said that moms and dads ingest over 300 calories a day more than adults without kids. Also, we're around things like cupcakes more. And candy. It is hard to ride around with suckers in my purse, peppermint in my desk drawer, and raisins in my cabinet if I can't eat them! Despite my best weight-loss efforts, I'm still pretty much on a "see-food" diet.

17. Anna June is fascinated with my "special foods." She keeps asking why Daddy "quitted". She even tried some of the food he didn't eat. She's also quite interested in the urine collection process - basically, I've decided, if something is unusual, she's interested. Perhaps she'll be in some sort of medical specialty.