Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Anna June parrots back to us what we say to her, at varying degrees of appropriateness. Sometimes this is cute, sometimes she is just plain bossy.

After being sick since Wednesday night, I went to the doctor yesterday.  Before diagnosing me with a sinus infection component to whatever probably started as viral, he took a look in my nostrils and uttered some very technical medical terms such as "snot" and "ew." He had me take a steroid shot, which, blessedly, did not keep me awake all night, but did give me the shakes in the short term. He prescribed a once-a-day antibiotic, plus nose spray, plus a sinus rinse, plus the codeine cough syrup (at night) I was already taking. I've been supplementing with tea, honey, cough drops of varying strengths, and Kleenex. Honestly, I still feel terrible. But after I decided I needed to drag myself in to work today anyway - my doctor swore I'd feel like it - AJ told me, "If you're still sick, you should stay at home until you feel better."

Good advice, dear. There are, unfortunately, only so many things I can do as an assistant from the comfort of my own home, so I decided that I would brave it. After all, my doctor said I could.

AJ left me with one piece of advice, gleaned from what she'd heard me say about the situation. "You should tell your friends and your boss not to come into your office so they don't catch your germs."

So, I put a sign up on my door with AJ's quote on it. After all, it hurts to talk. And I couldn't have said it better myself.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Thank you, Television

Last weekend, in order to show her some comments that her Granny had made, I sat Anna June down in front of the computer. I said, "AJ, this is a blog. It is where I keep stories about you to share with..."

"- Mommy?" she interrupted

"Yes?" I was anticipating a lot of questions.

"Can I go play now?" 

Of course I told her yes. She doesn't give a flip that I tell all of her secrets online - yet. 

Today, we watched an episode of Arthur, which had one of its characters, Muffy, writing a blog, called "The Muffington Post." It was my favorite episode so far, I have to say. The other kids kept asking Muffy why she had to be blogging all the time. Indeed, all she did was to stir up trouble. At the end of the story, blogging became uncool when their teacher started doing it, too, and the girls went and played in the park instead.

I explained to her that, like Muffy, I keep a blog, and that Granny and Grandpa read it every day. That's why they know so much about her.

"Do you send them a blog every day?"

"Almost every day. But not today so far."

"Do you do it in the mornings?"

"Ususally, yes, when I get to work. Hey, since I'm not going to work today, do you have any ideas about what I should write my blog post about today?"

"My microwave! Tell them that I got a microwave from Santa Claus for Christmas."

So, there it is folks. The thing that AJ thought it was important to tell you all. Actually, it is a pretty cool toy if I do say so myself. Santa got it from Toys R Us, and their pictures don't really do it justice. It "turns on" and rotates the play food. It counts down, although blessedly faster than real time. It dings. Just like mine, except mine is not pink. Why do I not have a pink microwave? (I guess I do, technically, since hers is in her "kitchen" in the real kitchen.)

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Anna June wanted to wear a fancy dress to school today, so I agreed, although I vetoed her first choice. Anything that must be hand washed cannot go to daycare. She ended up with her Christmas dress, minus tights, plus socks and shorts for bloomers. She wanted donuts for breakfast, and I let her do that, too. Can you tell I'm sick?

Regardless, she had told me earlier that she wanted to start doing ponytails again, so I tried not to act too excited. I love it when she lets me pull her hair back. At the last minute, she changed her mind to pigtails. I told her she'd need two clips or elastics that matched, and she came up with two that were roughly the same size and color. This is the finished product, photos by her daddy.

She claimed this morning that she doesn't like her bangs. That's better than last week, when she said she didn't like her curls. Poor thing! At least our hairdresser can trim the bangs. She's stuck with the curls.

As a follow-up to yesterday's post, we played Alphabet Go Fish last night, and at the end, when she discovered she'd lost, she sort of threw the card holder on the table in disgust. But we emphasized that "the fun part is playing, and it doesn't matter who wins!" and moved on to the next subject. Considering how tired she was, it was a better outcome than I expected.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Family Game Night

Anna June is not a good sport, but we're working on it. We've decided to have a Family Game Night once a week, now that she's old enough to play some board games. We have several, and it's always fun to see how we do.

AJ does great when she's winning. When she's losing, though, she's been known to quit in the middle of the game. We're playing games of chance like Candy Land, so there's really no "letting" her win.

I looked for articles about sportsmanship online, and I came up with this one that seems pretty much on-topic. Like the kid in the article, she hates to lose. She abandoned a game of Chutes and Ladders on Saturday because Ben was winning. Do we make her finish a game? That seems harsh. But on the other hand, she has to learn follow-through and commitment.

Meanwhile, I'm bracing myself for AJ during tonight's installment of Family Game Night. Mandatory fun should be had.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


(Photo by Ruth Kennedy)

Anna June has a lot of things she loves to do: listen to stories, play pretend, color, watch TV, dress up, and more. Her favorite thing to do, though, is to stay home.

This weekend she spent a lot of time at the house. Saturday, since Ben had to go on a non-kid-friendly errand, we decided to stay home for lunch. An idea AJ had the night before about "playing restaurant" began to take shape.

First, she covered our square storage cube with a blanket for a tablecloth. She pulled up a kid-sized chair.

Then, she dressed up, as our restaurant would be fancy.

I got busy making the menu. I did very quick Google image searches for dishes similar to the leftovers I had in the fridge.The pictures would help it be "like a kids' menu!" AJ said.

I asked her the name of the restaurant. "Zoo Membership," she said. I changed it to "Zoo Café." Later, we talked about how one must have a membership to dine - it's a fancy club situation. This makes sense, as my kitchen is not open to the general public.

I was to be the waitress as well as the chef and the dishwasher. I grabbed an apron, and once I found a handy-dandy notebook and a pen, we were open for business.

AJ selected the spaghetti, along with an orange and banana. Later, I realized that I (thinking I'd save space) had chosen a picture of both oranges and bananas, so that may have been why she ordered both when she really didn't want the orange! That was the most time consuming part of the whole charade!

Anyway, I ate my lunch in the kitchen while she enjoyed the antics of Curious George in the den while she ate. She mentioned it was unusual for a fancy place to have a TV, but I told her we kept it around for ball games.

She selected a rocky road ice cream cone for dessert.

I went to her room to grab a purse for her with some play money. When I gave her the check, I explained to her about tipping. I thought it was a good opportunity. She paid and left with her baby dolls.

She had such a good time, that she insisted that we do it again for Sunday's lunch, this time sitting at the big table in the kitchen. Ben was not as impressed with my fancy menu, because to him, leftovers are terrible no matter how you present them, so he ordered something I'd have to fix instead.

This time, AJ ordered salad and pizza bites. She ate most of her salad, and then politely requested a to-go box. I put it in a Gladware tub for her, and put it in the fridge, where I was sure it would be forgotten. But right before bedtime, she remembered it, and ate every remaining bite. Leftovers are not a problem for her, evidently.

I have a feeling we'll be playing this game a lot.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Indoor Camping Trip

At about 3:25 this morning, Anna June was awakened by a loud roar of thunder nearly simultaneous with a bright streak of lightning. At the same time, the power went out. It scared all of us awake.

I went to get her (and her blankie) from her room, and the power came right back on. Whew! I still let her get in bed with us, as the storm was getting pretty bad. I reached for my phone, to see what The Weather Channel had to say about it. "Tornado warning until 3:45," it read.

So we all moved to the hallway. After watching it further on our phones, we saw the tornado watch had been extended to 4:30. Let's try to sleep in the hall, we said.  Ben collected pillows and blankets and the flashlight, while I held AJ. Radar was shaking.

There we were: end to end all the way down our narrow hall, the safest place in our one-story home. Radar couldn't find a good way to get comfortable, so he hid in AJ's room behind the rocking chair. It was the safest place he could think of, since we wouldn't let him in our room.

Of course, none of us slept.

We were fairly sure from the nearly street-by-street reports our meteorologist was giving that the worst of the storm wasn't coming our direction, so we didn't break out AJ's bike helmet as recommended. But if they had said it was coming up the mountain, we certainly would have.

Coming less than a year after the devastating tornadoes of April 27, 2011, everyone in the area seemed to take the warnings seriously. UAB has upgraded their warning system for the campus and its personnel, and I got this message on my phone right before we took cover:
Seek shelter immediately; National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning that covers UAB.

Finally, just before 4:30, we were given the all-clear for our side of town. We were glad to get back in our beds, and AJ was glad I let her have the flashlight next to hers, just in case.

Many schools are closed today, but ours is not. UAB is open, and the sun is even trying to come out. The Southside/Crestwood areas, where most of my family are, seem to be unscathed from what I could see on my commute. Mom reports that my grandfather doesn't have power, but everyone else seems OK.

Many families have lost their homes. Pictures like this have made me reassess my morning...there's no complaining when I have everything in tact.  

I did think it was kind of funny, though, that every time the broadcaster referred to the radar, our Radar was nowhere to be seen. He detected a dangerous storm, all right, and then, he took shelter. Smart dog.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Astute Observations by AJ

Anna June has been saying a lot of cool things lately. I wanted to get a few of them down, before I forget.

Stop me if you've heard this one - it happened in December. One night when I was fixing dinner, AJ got all dressed up in her plastic high heels and jewelry. There may or may not have been a tiara involved. She had Baby Leigh, her doll, and was prancing all around the house. When it was time to eat, I found her and asked her what she'd been doing. "I'm taking my baby to a meeting." She said. When I told her to come to the table, she said, "It's Family Night Supper*, so we're eating dinner there. We won't be joining you and Daddy for dinner." After I straightened her out that she would in fact be joining us for dinner and that she could pretend later, her comment really kicked me in the gut. I am forever going to meetings. With that, I canceled my participation in my December weight loss maintenance meeting, saying someone else could schedule it and I may be able to attend (which, by the way, no one did), but it pretty much had been thrown in my face that I need to be spending more time with my kid, not arranging non-mandatory meetings. So I plan to spend more time with AJ this weekend, as the next two weekends I have meetings. (Not to mention a couple of weeknight ones. And the ones at work.)

Last night, at Zumba, I used a set of my awesome new hand weights for a couple of routines. Evidently, I was holding onto them for dear life, because immediately after class, I noticed my palms were bruised. In the car, I told AJ that I had hurt my hands with my weights. She asked what could be done for the injury, and I told her we'd have to wait and let it heal. Then she pointed out, "Hey, weight and wait rhyme!"

On Wednesday night, on their way home from school, Ben asked AJ how soccer had gone, and she said, "I want to talk to you about something else. I want to have two friends over this weekend." I guess from attending all of those meetings, she's learned how to push through an agenda.

During bedtime prayers, I often ask that AJ will be able to feel God's presence and protection, as she's constantly scared in the dark. Last night, she prayed, "Please hug me!" Isn't that what we all want?
I hope you feel God hug you today.
*Our church has once-a-month potluck dinners on Wednesday night, Family Night Supper. To minimize weeknight outings, our ladies auxiliary, the CPW, meets 30 minutes prior to the dinners. AJ has been dragged to these all her life, poor thing.

Photo credit: Ruth Kennedy

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ray of Sunshine

Anna June has been doing OK at picking out her own clothes the night before wearing them. Yesterday, though, at the last minute she freaked out about her pants and ended up wearing capris when it was 40 degrees outside. So last night, I was absolutely thrilled when she asked, "Mom, where are my blue jeans?"

I've been trying to get her to wear jeans for months, possibly longer than a year, but she claimed they were uncomfortable and I didn't want to push it. I just kept the ones that were still in her size shoved to the back of the closet. She had to try on a pair or two, but she found these and, to my utter amazement, she actually wore them today.

I asked if I could get a picture, and she asked if she could take it in the pantry closet. I said no, because I couldn't see her jeans. So I snapped this right after she walked out, just in time for her to catch a ray of sunshine on her chest.

I hope your day is filled with similar rays of sunshine.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

We Interrupt this Blog

Anna June, her dad, and I did not see this bird yesterday. But AJ's Nana saw it on top of her neighbor's house, after Patrick pointed it out. Luckily, his camera was handy. 

After researching, Patrick has declared it is a Great Blue Heron. According to him, "They are apparently pretty common around the south, but I would still say not too common for Crestwood."
It is not a secret that after dogs, birds are my favorite animals. 
Although I'll never be a real birdwatcher, I enjoy spotting different ones. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Picture Mommy Wanted

More photos from our session with Ruth Kennedy.

This dress was mine when I was little, although I am sure I was older than AJ is here when I wore it. I've never been tall.

Note the polka dots, even back in the 80s. I have no idea whether I picked this out or not. I suspect Grandma Annette. The dress was preserved at her house, probably in anticipation of a moment like this.

AJ is holding the stocking I came home from the hospital in when I was born, crafted by the Pink Ladies of St. Vincent's Hospital Auxiliary.

AJ hates the dress, although I may have it mended and further preserved.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Top 10 for a 3 day weekend

Anna June's school and our work was closed today in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. day. (In Alabama, it is also still celebrated as Robert E. Lee day in addition to MLK. What a strange juxtaposition - and how important both men were to the history of the South.)

We had a pretty good weekend, so I think I'll pare back my usual ramblings to focusing on the 10 most important things that happened in 3 (or 4) days since my last post. Not in order of importance.

1. Friday night, we went to Five Guys for dinner, and ran into the fabulous Rachel and her family. We instantly recognized each other (and each other's kids) - I knew I'd run into her some day, but I didn't know that it would be on the same day that my MIL would have just de-lurked herself on her blog. So, it was pretty neat when I got to say, "This is my husband," and she could say, "I just heard from your mother." Weird. And, Rachel, your hair is so pretty - I'm going to have to start buying the same shampoos you do. :)

2. Saturday, I went to Zumba alone. AJ decided to spend time with her dad, and she watched movies. I was able to exercise without looking behind me every 20 seconds for a short dancer.

3. Saturday - we went to Grandma Hazel's house, because Ben can, as far as she is concerned, solve any problem involving a wire or a battery. She'd been having harassing phone calls from a telemarketer, despite telling them not to call, putting herself on the do not call list, and more. She needed calls blocked and an ID display big enough for her to read. Ben got her set up with a cool new phone set and a display unit. She is thrilled. In fact, I'm pretty sure she likes him better than all her other grandchildren, at least for the moment.

4. Bonus - while at Grandma's, we got to visit with Uncle Chip and Aunt Kristy, down from Decatur, AL. And, double bonus - we got to get some of the previous generations' Little Golden Books housed in Grandma's basement. We left a lot of the other kid books, so AJ can have something to look forward to when we go back, but these were really cool.

5. Sunday - AJ got to spend the night with her Nana and Granddaddy. We went to dinner, then to see Gordon Lightfoot in concert. Mom didn't get to sleep too much, because AJ claimed she was too scared to be alone, so she got to take up room in their bed. AJ told my dad that he looked like a cow when he snored, so he mooed for her. I'm sorry I missed that.

6. Slice. I loved the location, atmosphere, and food. We were able to watch the Packers' game, which, unfortunately, was the last of the year.

7. Avondale Brewing Company's Saison. I loved this beer so much, it merits its very own spot in the list. I had heard a lot about it, with Ben having tasted it at ABC over Christmas. It is my new favorite beer, hands down.

8. Lightfoot. Bless his heart. We saw him four years ago, but those years have not been kind. It is not just that he's getting older. He survived a serious ordeal in 2006, and we really didn't expect him to tour after that, but this is the second time we've seen him since then. He just "loves the work," as he says. The fans were very encouraging, but, honestly, we'd be surprised if he tours again. Even if he does, I don't think we could take it again. His new guitarist, though, is very talented.

9. Volunteering, sort of. The other day, when I raised the subject of AJ donating a few of her toys to M-Power Ministries for their waiting area, she agreed. Then, on Thursday night when I had planned to do help her decide what to give, she backed out, saying that she still liked and played with all of her toys. Then, on Saturday, suddenly, she told me, "I want to give my toys to the sick kids!" and got a bag and started packing. I had to reign in her choices, and let her finish on Sunday morning, because it was getting so late. She agreed, and, this morning, we went by and dropped them off at our service project, where my colleages were busily hanging curtains, planting flowers, and trying to put together a steam cleaner for a test run. AJ acted shy when my friends greeted her and thanked her for her contribution. I think they'll be appreciated. It goes with our church's theme of Paying it Forward in 2012, at least. By the way, according to their site, 70,000 people in Jefferson County are without health insurance.

10. Bass Pro Shops. It lived up to the hype. We had never been to one before, so we decided to take a chance, since we were in no hurry and heading to Rusty's for lunch, anyway. It was everything I heard it was, and more. It has something for everyone, although no baseball caps without a BPS logo on them. I did not expect AJ to be so frightened of the taxidermy, though! There were deer, bears, an eagle, wolves, and more. I kept telling her they were not alive, but she was not so certain. The giant fish were cool. Our favorite part was Uncle Buck's, the part where they sell candy, ice cream, fudge and popcorn. They also sell salads and sandwiches, but who would want to eat there when Rusty's is right down the street?

There was more, but I will limit this post to these 10. Tomorrow is another day.

Friday, January 13, 2012

School Bus!

Photos by Ruth Kennedy

Anna June startled us, as she often does, when we were on the way to the Gallitz Formal Dining Room the other evening.

She interrupted our conversation to say, "Look! A school bus! I've always wanted to see one!"

We stopped a minute to think whether it was actually likely that the poor child had never seen a school bus. It is almost always before 8 am before we take AJ to daycare, and after 5 when we pick her up - not exactly peak times for kiddie transportation. There are no schools with buses (now that McElwain Elementary has closed) on our route to and from her school. We do a lot of driving around town, but mostly in the evenings or on the weekends. Many times, AJ has seen a city bus and said "school bus" but we corrected her, telling her that real school buses were usually yellow.

So there it was. A real, live school bus. I didn't see whether it was full of kids on the way to a game or just a hungry driver, but I'm glad that we happened by at the right time to fulfill her dream. It's the little things...

Speaking of which, according to Grasping for Objectivity, today is National Delurking Day! I don't truly have lurkers, because mine is an invitation only blog. However, I know there are those of you who read and do not comment. Take this opportunity today to leave me a note and let me know you're still reading. Currently, we have about 50 users registered to read. I get comments from about 5 or 6. Identify yourselves in the spirit of the holiday.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Santa and Rudolph

Photos by Ruth Kennedy

Anna June didn't make it into Christmas pajamas this year. Sorry - we had a lot going on, and she had just gotten this adorable nightgown. With teddy bears!

She picked this vintage Rudolph to be her prop in part of the Christmas card shoot. I had her add the Santa hat at the last minute. I only wish his nose still glowed!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Not Ready to Make Nice

This post is not really about Anna June, so you don't have to read it if you don't want. For those of you leaving now, please see the adorable photo above (courtesy Ruth Kennedy), of my daughter dressed Christmas-card appropriately, and my dog behaving. He doesn't look happy, but there has never been a picture when everyone looks happy. At least the humans understand the photo session concept. Except Ben, who didn't want to participate.

On Thursday, we were a little late for work. Ben took me to drop off my car to get new rear brake pads. We had been told at the dealership that we needed them (while we were in for another reason) and since the dealership is so far away, we decided to see if we could get that done closer. Of course we could, and it turns out, we got them cheaper - thanks for the coupons, Firestone! After zipping through for a fast food breakfast, he dropped me off at work.

The day proceeded normally. Everyone was still kind of recovering from the holidays - I'm not sure everyone had come back to work yet. There were lots of emails and calls to return. Meetings to schedule. Copies to make. My 4 faculty members (technically not my supervisors, but they assign me work), were sending me tasks constantly. I had just moved back into my regular office after being in a temporary space for over a month while my windows were being replaced.

Ben came and took me to lunch at Roly Poly - it is close, not too unhealthy, and I have a punch card. When we left there, only a few blocks away, I remember thinking I was being such an old lady for stopping to put on my prescription sunglasses, which involved digging in my purse for them and changing my glasses out. It was sunny, though. I like my sunglasses. I hope that they will help reduce wrinkles, and, when I wear them, I don't have to squint, which automatically looks cooler. For those times when I'm wearing them, I feel like a person with good vision, instead of a person who has to wear glasses but is terrified of and grossed out by contacts.

In the car, as I got out my keys, I made a comment that my supervisor had recently held a safety meeting with her staff, mentioning that we should all be locking our doors when we're away from our desks. I said I hadn't been doing a good job, but I did remember to lock when I went to lunch. I was kind of proud of myself, but Ben said, "I hope your purse never does get stolen, because it would take us a year to replace everything."

A little while later, I made some copies and tried to take them to one of my faculty guys. He was at lunch, so I sent him an email, saying I'd bring them back when he returned. He emailed me a few minutes later, saying he was there. Eager to get just one task finally accomplished, I hopped up and walked to his office, copies in hand.

On the way there, I saw a person who didn't look like he belonged. Later, my friend Nicole, who saw him, too, said he looked "like a bum." We have all kinds of people here at UAB, and in our division, where we do community-based research, we have all kinds of participants in our studies. He looked like he was coming from our director's office area, and, since he seemed to be walking away, I didn't stop and talk to him. I was trying to get my one thing done.

I talked for a few minutes on my task-checking-off mission, when, of course, I was given another mission. On the way back to my office, with an upcoming phone call on my mind, I saw the suspicious guy again. His back was to me and he was waiting for the elevators. "Can I help you?" would have sounded stupid at this point, because he was obviously leaving.

I returned to my desk, did some work, checked Facebook, went to the kitchen and got a piece of pecan pie some office angel/devil brought in. I saw the spare key for a temporary office and remembered I was supposed to turn the keys back in to the facilities coordinator. I went in my desk drawer where I always keep my purse, and, the purse was not there.

My first thought was that maybe I left it somewhere...I've been known to do that a few too many times. I called Ben, and he walked all the way down to his car to check and it was not there. I called Roly Poly - not there, either. I went down to our security guard's desk and asked if, by chance, someone had turned it in. When she said no, I said, "Then I have a bad feeling about this."  Honestly, she looked rather unconcerned. She said if anything had happened, it would be on tape. I went to her supervisor's office to see if she could check for me, but she was still at lunch. I left a message to call me when she got back.

Then I called UAB police. And then the credit union to stop my debit cards and checks. Somewhere in there I talked to Ben again. The policeman came to take the report. He was very nice, but I was sure to him it was just another "unsecured item" on the tally board. Ben came to take me to the credit union to get a new account, per their suggestion - unfortunately, they've seen this before.

After the policeman left, the building manager called and said, yes, she saw the suspect on the tape with a bulge under his coat. He had been in the building for about 10 minutes, and came only to our floor, the only one that is not key coded. He walked around, looking for an opportunity. A friend of mine pointed out that I may have left it in plain view on my desk, but I really think I put it in my drawer. There are only two drawers, both file-deep. It wouldn't have taken a genius to guess that's where I kept it. The building manager was able to get in touch with UABPD, and they have a DVD with images of the suspect.

There was no cash in my purse. If there was, it was a $5 bill, but the more I think about it, the more I think I put that in the CPW dues envelope at church the night before. My phone would have been the only thing of value to anyone else. We canceled that, too, right away, and we were able to keep my same number and even my prepaid minutes. Of course, we had to buy a new phone.

We looked it up on the internet, and, of course, a company had put together a pretty useful list of what all to do in this instance.  Uncle Tim came and changed the deadbolts to our house, which we were able to buy with the Home Depot gift card Drew gave us for Christmas. I still have to get a new license, but pretty much everything else is done.

Things I lost that I'm pretty sad about, in no particular order:
1. My driver's license. I had a really good picture. No, really, I did.
2. My prescription sunglasses (see ode to them above).
3. My keys. In addition to having to re-key my locks at home, we've had to re-key the locks at work, too. It is a pain and expensive. I'm upset that I have to drag my faculty into this with me, since I had a key that unlocked their offices, too. Luckily, my car was at the shop, so my key and clicker were safe at the time.
4. My mirror. Grandma Hazel gave me the silver mirror she used to carry in her purse when she was still working. It had a felt dust cover, even though I've scratched it up pretty badly - it is the only thing I have ever owned from Tiffany & Co. I really don't want anything else...obviously, I can't have nice things.
5. The pictures and video on my phone. Most of them had been uploaded, but I will always feel that something vital from AJ's childhood went undocumented because of this person.
6. My checkbook cover. It was adorable.
7. My brand new wallet from my mom.
8. My brand new ID badge holder from my MIL.

All of this being said - I am actually not as upset as I could be. I'm a pretty big crier, and I haven't shed one tear over this. Probably because I was warned by my friends prior to it happening, and then again by my supervisor, and then, in my opinion, probably by God himself. (Or, if you prefer, the cosmos, or psychic energy.) I cannot find another way to explain our conversation not an hour and a half before, and the strange feeling I got when I saw the suspect. I was warned, but I WASN'T LISTENING. May this serve as a reminder to listen to the voices in my heart and head, even for small things.

I also think I am less upset because it was not our house, which has been burglarized twice. I mean, I spend more time here at the office than I do at home, but it is not my home. The first time our house was broken into, AJ was this little, and I lost pictures of her first time on the beach and other precious moments. This time, AJ had a couple of days worth of nightmares, but we talked about how this person did not get anything important to us...Mommy, Daddy, Radar, and all the rest of the family are absolutely fine - it is just stuff.

I've been hoping for a spirit of forgiveness about the whole thing. Whatever is going on in this person's life - addiction, mental illness - that he would be so bold as to enter a public place in broad daylight and steal a woman's purse (which, by the way, was not valuable) must be so much bigger than what I am going through. I am trying to be understanding and not angry about it, because even with all of those things gone, I still feel safe, and loved, and supported. Even others in my own family are fighting much tougher battles, with illness, loss, and more. Comparatively, this is nothing.

Many friends from my office have stopped by, called, and emailed at various times since Thursday, so I've had to recount the tale a bunch of times. I have been surprised by how many women this has happened to over the years. Everyone from my mother to AJ's teacher to my co-workers seems to have had a wallet, a purse, or something taken from them at work, on a bus, at school. Theft has been around since the beginning of time - just someone looking for an opportunity. It was so sweet for everyone to ask, "Is there anything I can do?" but really, there isn't.

On Friday, UAB sent out another detective to my office to follow-up. She was very sweet, and even promised to dumpster-dive in the area (although my friend and I already peeked in one behind our building). When I told her I'd have to adjust to a new style of wearing pants and skirts with pockets, she took off her lanyard and gave it to me. I am wearing it now with my office keys. I have charged AJ with helping me make sure I'm wearing them when I'm going to work. It is my new fashion accessory. Don't make fun of my pink monkey key chain.

Monday, the sweet detective called me back, saying she had forgotten to ask me something. "When I find this person," she said, "are you willing to press charges?"

Without hesitation, I said yes. Though I want to be forgiving, I also don't want someone to get away with a crime, even, to some, small. Maybe it's because we've never heard of arrests being made in our two home burglaries, or the five we fell victim to when we owned the computer store. Maybe it is because I saw this guy's face and knew he needed help, and he's more likely to get it in jail than on the street. I am not holding out much hope that they'll find this person, or my stuff. But if they do, I'll be ready to identify him and stand up in court. Because maybe I'm still a little angry. And I want my sunglasses back.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Athletic Supporter?

Anna June was at school all day yesterday, but she couldn't help but be gripped by the excitement surrounding the college football National Championship taking place in New Orleans. The first thing she said when she got in the car was, "I want to watch the ball game tonight."

Based on yesterday's post, you would think I'd bend over backwards to make whatever AJ wants happen. Usually, I do. I told her she could watch the first part of the game, but not even her father and I were willing to stay up until the end - it would be way past all of our bedtimes.

I asked if she was practicing her Roll Tide cheers. She said, no, she wanted to watch Auburn. I had to explain that Auburn's season was over and we had only Alabama to watch. "I forgot we were watching Alabama," she said.

When we got inside, Ben asked AJ if she was ready to watch the Crimson Tide. "What's the Crimson Tide?" she asked.

With a lot of little projects going on around the house, we got absorbed in the day and stopped briefly for dinner. Afterwards, there was more playing, including a round of skiing on XBox for AJ. I think they also played golf while I tended to some things on the computer.

Luckily, AJ forgot all about the game. We do not have cable or satellite. We're either really retro or really cutting edge - we can't decide which. I had no idea it would not be on national television. So, while I watched facebook explode with comments from my friends all around the state, and all throughout the world, including everywhere from California to Belgium, I put AJ to bed, and we watched some reruns on Netflix before turning in early.

To be honest, Ben and I spent one of our date nights this fall catching the first Bama-LSU game at our neighborhood tavern. It was a good game, and I'm sort of glad we got to see it, so we could understand a little of what the fuss was all about. After all, we are UAB alums - we don't get this kind of excitement in football - yet.

Congratulations to our National Champions. Maybe we'll get to watch a game next year. We also really love the fact that one of the most famous people in these parts today is named AJ.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Lucky Girl

Anna June is one lucky little girl. She's lucky for lots of reasons, but one of them is that she's totally surrounded by multiple generations of my family. Christmas sort of gets extended around here, and there are family get togethers that stretch into January, including today, for my dad's birthday. We miss Ben's side of the family, and I'm sure we'd have similar stories if we lived there, but since we don't here's a quick rundown of all the Tucker togetherness in the past 48 hours.

Saturday: Dad's birthday. We decided not to call early when we got up, as they'd just had an auction the night before. Sometimes those suckers go until midnight. So we went on about our business: dropping off the car at the shop, breakfast, Zumba. After we got back from our workout, I was telling AJ about what all we were going to do that day. I mentioned going out to lunch amidst our errands.

AJ: I don't want to go out to lunch with you.
Me: What do you want to do then?
AJ: I want to have lunch with Nana.

OK. After a quick phone call, it was arranged. I dropped off AJ, and Ben and I had the world's quickest lunch date that included grabbing a sandwich, going to the grocery store, picking up the car and my dashing back to pick up AJ before Mom, Dad and I had to go to a funeral in nearby Homewood. AJ had grilled cheese and watched Underdog. She opened gifts from Aunt Beth's family (thanks Abby and Cheryl!) - a My Little Pony set, a tutu, and a magna doodle.

Mom, at some point, mentioned her sister Heidi was in town and would be bringing my grandmother to the restaurant for dinner. So long about dinner time we all descended on Rusty's: AJ, Ben, me, Aunt Heidi, Grandma Hazel, Patrick, Liz, Mom (who was working), Rusty and Beth (who were not). A good dinner and a good time were had by all.

Earlier in the week, AJ and I had a different conversation.
Me: Do you like my new necklace? Aunt Connie made it.
AJ: How does she make necklaces?
Me: I'm sure she'd love to show you sometime.

At this point, AJ was pretty excited. When I actually talked to Connie about it later and she mentioned that she had blue beads for AJ's project, she was all hand-waving excited. I arranged it for post-nap, this afternoon. When Connie got here, AJ acted like she wasn't really that interested. Until she was. She loved laying out the beads and planning the necklace. She had amazing dexterity at stringing the beads. Then, halfway done, she let the beads spill on the floor. She didn't really recover from that, attention span-wise. I went to walk the dog, and when we returned, AJ had moved on to making her Granddaddy's birthday card. Connie finished up, and the final products, a bracelet and necklace, are shown above.

Tonight, the three of us went over to celebrate Dad's birthday with Granddaddy Jerome, Tim, Connie, Drew, Patrick, Liz, and, of course, Mom and Dad. They had homemade pizza (Granddaddy Jerome made the crust) and brownies that Anna June, Pillsbury, and I made. Actually, AJ did the most work, cracking the eggs, dumping and stirring everything together. I poured it and put it in the oven. AJ was rewarded for her help by access to bowl and spoon licking. She was covered in chocolate when Aunt Connie arrived, and she had to change before beading.

In a couple of weeks, we plan to return to Patrick and Liz's house, as Anna June has already asked to spend more time in the "earth room" (the former tenants' son's room, painted to look like parts of the solar system, complete with a mobile) and on the trampoline in the backyard.

I say all this to let you know that AJ actually ASKS us to go to see her relatives. She doesn't beg to go to the zoo or Chuck E. Cheese's (although she likes those places). She just wants to hang with her aunts, uncles, and grandparents. And why wouldn't she? They treat her like a princess and she eats it up.


A couple more things, quickly, before I forget:

We had communion at church today. In the car on the way home, AJ asked, "Did y'all really drink blood?" At least she was listening! I tried to explain some things at her level. Basically, since we are Protestant, I told her that, no, it was juice, and actual blood would be gross. We're working on her biblical studies. She sat down with her new Family Bible and "read" it to Ben tonight, starting with, "Well, the Wise Men were going to kill baby Jesus."  We had to correct her "reading" a few times, needless to say.

Also, on the way home from Mom's, she was talking about how she could "read" a story I read to her. I asked which one. "The Doe," she said. "It's illustrated by Margaret Chihuahua Mix." We couldn't stop laughing long enough to ask her what the story was about.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Pretty Special

Anna June is obsessed with make up. Her teacher encourages this, and when I went to pick her up from school, she was wearing glittered eye shadow and glitter on both cheeks.

We went to Zumba together, and she decided she wanted to wear overalls. Because she's flatly rejected them in the past, we're down to only one pair of short-alls*, and she wore them proudly over her green camo top. She also wanted her hair in a ponytail, in a purple scrunchie. She even put on her light-up princess tennis shoes with no input from me, which was pretty much a breakthrough. It was cold, so I got her to wear her new brightly-colored fleece jacket. She looked, in short, like a redneck clown.

When we got there, we were excited to see Lily, AJ's good friend from school and her mom. The girls played with AJ's tea set she brought along. We've been doing a lot of new routines in our class, but when we got to a song that was familiar to Lily, she came over and started dancing, so AJ did, too. In fact, when Lily got bored and stopped, AJ kept going right to the end of class. It was truly adorable to watch those two in the back of the class. It was only a little disturbing to see my redneck clown singing along to Luke Bryan's "Country Girl (Shake it for Me)." All she needed was a saloon outfit from Zulily! (I kid, I kid!)

I didn't get a picture...I was in a hurry and my purse was stolen, along with my phone (that's another post for later).

When we returned, I was busy getting dinner ready and AJ claimed her clothes were wet, so she went ahead and got in her jammies. I came to find her like this, all dolled up in her lipstick. Luckily, it was her own - thanks again Aunt Beth!

Watching AJ and her friend play and dance last night was exactly what I needed after a day that can only be called craptacular. As I told AJ, the things in my purse may have made life a little easier in some ways, but nothing of value to me was taken away...I still have her, and her dad, and Radar, and everyone else who is important to me. That includes you, if you are reading this.

*Please do not buy overalls for AJ. I am not sure her being ok with them will stick, and I am almost certain she won't be able to put them on solo, which means that she'll hate them. Also, I counted, and she has 36 pairs of pants in her closet, and that's not including what was in the wash from the week.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What's a Resolution?

Actually, Anna June hasn't asked that yet, but it is probably coming. She's not shy about asking what something means. In fact, she often interjects herself into our conversations just to ask. It's a good thing that we didn't make any resolutions, because they would, in fact, all be broken by now. But if we were to make some parenting resolutions, here are a few candidates.

1. No more princess stuff. AJ needs to de-princess herself, pronto. I am all for her expressing her individuality through clothes and dress-up, and playing with dolls, but I worry about her developing an attitude of entitlement and the idea that everything should be pretty, all the time. So far she seems normal, but how can you tell? Her favorite Christmas gift, aside from Baby on the Go, was a case of makeup! I also plan to read Cinderella Ate My Daughter and justify this princess moratorium.

2. Figure out the education situation. As I have mentioned, there are many things we love about McElwain, but we hope that it will not be AJ's pre-K home. We want her to be more academically challenged, and we're looking at our options.

3. Watch what we watch, say, and play in front of AJ. When looking for her lost purse this morning, I heard her say, "I swear!" I know she got it from me, but I told her that was not nice to say. She has also professed love for a song where everyone dies ("Folk Bloodbath") and when she saw a screenshot of 20th Century Fox's logo, she cried "Homer!" This morning she told me that there weren't enough songs in my car, so I turned on the radio to hear some awful pop songs with lyrics about girls taking it all off and words bleeped out. I know I cannot shelter her from everything. For example, it is going to be hard trying again to lose weight without letting her know that I'm on a diet - I don't want her to learn about calories and fat grams, or even the scale from me.

4. Be more present. Ben commented that between Facebook and Words With Friends, AJ will just have to raise herself. He was kidding, but the comment stayed with me...maybe we can have a gadget-free dinner policy or something.

5. Remember that AJ is only three years old. See above resolution suggestions. I want to try not to be so hard on her and myself.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

We stayed home New Year's Eve, letting Anna June celebrate by having some sparkling apple cider in a real champagne glass! We'd just gotten back from a day full of errands and fun, including visiting Uncle Patrick and Aunt Liz's new house, and dinner with Grandma Hazel.

Today, when we asked AJ to tell Uncle Rusty what she had last night, she said, "Shining Apple Juice!"

We hope your new year is shining, or sparkling.