Monday, December 30, 2013

The Nice List

Before Christmas, Santa sent Anna June an email indicating she was on the nice list.

As if there was ever any doubt.

Each day, her teacher sends home her folder with a calendar sheet indicating the child's behavior for the day. If they have exhibited good behavior, they get a sticker. If they were less than good, there's a code at the bottom of the page to indicate the main offense (like 13 means talking too much). 

I am here to brag - yes, brag - that Anna June has come home with a good behavior sticker every single day of school from August 19 to December 20. Not one bad day.

The teacher, has, at times seemed a bit on edge about all the other kids...there has evidently been more talking in this year's class than ever before. She has tried everything. But AJ has been the calm in her storm. She's been good, as well as helpful and respectful.

I hope I'm not jinxing it. AJ is certainly no angel. She's been known to terrorize us, especially when fatigued. 

But I was reminded tonight that she is just a really good kid. We went out for fast food (ailing mama didn't want to cook), and there was a family with 3 kids sitting near us. The little one was writhing all over, trying to get the dad's attention, in my opinion. The older two were fighting and crying, and the mom ended up taking one of them outside for saying and repeating a swear word. I just looked over at AJ, kissed her on the top of her head and thanked her for being so good. I meant it. Not that those kids may not have had stickers in their folders every day, too, but you could just tell. She's different. 

She's only five. We had to interrupt her pretend cell phone conversation to eat dinner tonight. But she's so good. No wonder Santa thought to go ahead and let her know ahead of time. 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Catching Up

Anna June has been catching up on sleep - we've stayed in bed until 9 two days in a row, but mostly because she has been up late each night. She's still awake now - I can hear her playing in her room. The light is off, but she has enough light from her night light to talk to her dolls - I'm assuming that's what she's doing. But if she's on the phone with any of you, you're both in trouble.

Our bedtime battles are the least of our worries. Since Sunday 12/22, I have been sick: sore throat, headache, mild fever. I thought I was better, but I've developed a regular old cold - stuffy, runny nose with sneezing and watery eyes. 

Worse, AJ has it. Crusty nose. Whiny. 

Worse, Ben caught it Friday night, and we've all been pretty miserable. Luckily, no one is really coughing, but Ben feels it settling in his chest.

Before you ask, yes, we've all had our flu shots. 

We were not sick enough to stay home. We've taken our time, but we've still done our errands and other things.

This may all change tomorrow. If my throat still hurts tomorrow, I'm going to the doctor. If I have something warranting antibiotics, I will take the others. I'm pretty convinced it's viral, though, because all my family I saw at Christmas is sick now, too.

Anyway, Christmas was great aside from that. Santa was more than generous to AJ. She is making her way to the naughty list for 2014 right now, though, as she is STILL not asleep! Why do her "listening ears" shut off at 7:30 PM? 

I am off work all this week. I sketched out a plan for our days, including a couple of hours each day reserved for "AJ fun time." Yesterday, she didn't press the point, but we watched the Disney movie Robin Hood at her request that evening. Today, we talked about visiting the outdoor ice rink at the outlet mall (they do something to it to make it work in our Alabama climate). But since Ben was so sick, he wouldn't come with us. I explained to AJ that I do not know how to ice skate, so she decided it wouldn't be the best plan. Then she thought about roller skating. I agreed to take her. It was ridiculous. We were there an hour. I am a pitiful skater, and I told AJ that she shouldn't hold my hand while skating. She kept falling - it was sort of like watching a baby giraffe trying to stand up for the first time. Eventually, I made my hand available to her. I fell on top of her, but only once.

She ripped her tights on one of the falls. She lost her hair tie once, and I begged her to let me skate a lap solo to find it, which I did.

She wanted to leave. I convinced her to do another lap. She fell about a hundred times in a lap. Frustrating! 

So, that was today. More later.




Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Reading Together


Anna June reads a book to Wesley. (Photo courtesy Aunt Liz) 

Merry Achoo

Anna June and I both gave some sort of cold. We have sore throats, coughing and sneezing, and headaches. Yesterday, I laid down for a few minutes between church, rehearsal, and baking cookies to rest. AJ came in with her bunny and wanted her picture made. So here it is.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...

Anna June decorated the kid-sized tree at church. And she took this picture.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Just a Second

Here are some pictures of AJ after her Christmas program last week.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Gone!

Anna June lost her first tooth on Thursday, December 5, 2013, at the age of 5.



The new gap on the bottom compliments her natural gap on the top.



She woke up at 5:19 this morning, from a nightmare that she had swallowed her tooth. She was glad to see that, instead, the Tooth Fairy left her $2, and left the tooth for the "baby's first tooth" keepsake box.

It was time. The tooth fairy pillow has not yet arrived, but it will be here for all the others she must lose in due time.

I had to pull it. She was crying (allegedly about something else) and it was so very loose I had only to wiggle it a couple of times and it practically fell out. She didn't want to do it herself.

My dad informs me that I cried until he went ahead and pulled my teeth, too.

She was about 5 months old when she cut her first tooth - I had to check the blog, because I didn't remember. I documented all teeth, I believe, as they almost all came with all the classic symptoms of teething: fever, diarrhea, fussiness from discomfort.

Time has flown. She's not a baby with bottles and diapers. She's a big girl now, with homework to do, and parties and performances to attend. I have to admit that I like the pulling teeth age better than the growing teeth age, although we watched some adorable videos we've posted through the years last night. It was fun to watch kid-sized AJ watch (and be embarrassed by) toddler AJ. She thought it was funny she couldn't pronounce "Radar" (Dar-dar) or "Chick-fil-A" (chi-chay).

I feel like this is a big milestone. We're trying not to think of the ones that come next, and just kind of enjoy this magical age.


Monday, December 2, 2013

News Flash

Anna June has a loose tooth. She keeps trying to wiggle it when she's eating, which is when it hurts. We ordered a Tooth Fairy pillow to hang on her door so that the Tooth Fairy doesn't a) hurt herself trying to enter AJ's room and b) wake her up. We'll see if it gets here before she needs it.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Puzzle Mania







Anna June loves to do puzzles. On Wednesday, she took a 100 piece puzzle to Camp Nana and worked it with Uncle Drew, who is probably our family's best puzzle worker.

On Thursday, we didn't have much time at home, but I pulled out the 24-piece puzzle that AJ got from trick-or-treating at Aunt Connie's house. She had that done before I could clear the rest of the table.

She was acting bored on Friday morning, so she did that one again. I opened up her box of puzzles, and she worked 4 more: a SpongeBob floor puzzle (46 pieces) a Hello Kitty lenticular puzzle (100 pieces - I helped only minimally), and a couple of Melissa and Doug puzzles. She's worked all these before, but now, she doesn't need our help.   

Then, she worked all the other puzzles in the house, from 5-100 pieces. I decided to give them away and took to Facebook. I now have takers for several, especially the babyish ones. I may have to let her keep the rest - she's kind of obsessed.

In these pictures, she's holding up her Etch-a-Sketch. She drew some very tiny thing on it. I have no clue why she wanted to be photographed with it, except that it was stored with the puzzles and now she associates it with them.

I hope Santa brings more puzzles! 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

How We Spent Black Friday

Anna June asked me what Black Friday was. She asked if it was why a lot of people were wearing black. It was too cute to tell her the real reason, so I let it stand.

I hate the term Black Friday. Remember when people called them the "after Thanksgiving sales?" At least then, the holiday was acknowledged.

There are places that are open on Thanksgiving Day, which I do not understand. A grocery store in each town (they can take turns), a few gas stations, hospitals, 24-hour drugstore and Waffle House - that should be it. People, even if they don't like their families, should be allowed to stay home one day a year, even if it just so they can be thankful they do not have to work.

So on Friday, AJ worked puzzles. I went to hang out with my grandfather for a couple of hours. Ben prepared to write a paper. We met for lunch, then Ben went a couple of places to shop while AJ and I went back home. Ben doesn't like crowds, but he does like deals, and he shops enough to know if something is worth it or not. He came home with batteries of all sizes and shapes. We are now set for all 2014 battery needs.

I took a nap, AJ did more puzzles, Ben thought more about his paper. I suddenly decided we needed to go bowling, so we braved the Trussville traffic and went to the Lightning Strikes bowling alley. (Clever name, eh?) 



 

The place was not at all crowded, and they were running their own Black Friday deal, so we bowled two games and got shoes and sodas for $8/each. That's a deal I can get behind. 

After the first frame, we asked to have bumpers put up for AJ's turns. This improved her performance so much that she came in second place. I took second in the second game, with Ben as the champion both times. 

On the way in, AJ's shoestring unraveled in dramatic fashion. It was decided we'd head to the shoe store after bowling to get new laces. Evidently, Sketchers knows their laces are terrible and provides spare pairs, but I knew that at present, I can only find non-matching replacements. 

We set out on our mission. Ben went to get a haircut. We soon found out what Black Friday shopping is all about. Rack Room Shoes had quite the line! They were running 60% off deals. We only needed some $2.49 shoelaces (in neon pink) but waited in line a long time while others tried to redeem online coupon codes and went back for other sizes. 

After that ordeal, we went to Yogurt Mountain. AJ got cake batter/cookies and cream yogurt and I got candy cane flavor. Here she is with her creation. I had a BOGO coupon, so we did at least get a deal.


She's chewing a gummy bear here. I still do not know why they are ice cream toppings.

We went home and had leftovers for dinner. 

We brushed Radar's teeth with homemade toothpaste. No one liked that.

It was a good day. I was glad to be away from the crowds, mostly, and to spend time with my favorite people.

Friday, November 29, 2013

How We Spent Thanksgiving









Anna June had a good Thanksgiving. We had a big crowd, tons of food, and lots if fun. Here's what we did:

On Thanksgiving morning, we woke up and had a light breakfast. I made one of our family's favorites: corn casserole. I had not made it in a while. I encountered difficulty with the easy dish. 

First of all, there was difficulty shopping. We went to Trussville's Super Target on Tuesday night, even though it was raining and snow was predicted later in the night. We were prepared for a crowd, but everyone seemed to be at home. Other than that and bumping in to my old piano teacher, the shopping experience on the grocery side was less than super. 

The recipe calls for 2 cans of GreenGiant  Mexicorn. I found this, but the company inexplicably labeled it with some kind of new sub-brand: "steam fresh". I have no idea how, if at all, this is different, but it was what they had, so I bought it. Then, the recipe calls for a 5 oz. bag of Mahatma saffron yellow rice. There was none of this at Super Target. Instead, I bought an 8 oz. bag of Vigo saffron yellow rice. I was not going to a different store on the day before Thanksgiving. It would have to do.

I began making the dish early, in case there were issues. Of course there were. The main issue was I panicked.

I called my mom to ask if the corn should be drained, although if the truth is told, there's not a whole lot of liquid in the can. Once, I made a sweet potato casserole and failed to write down the instruction to drain the can of sweet potatoes. It turned out a soupy mess. My cousin and brother Patrick are known for their love of corn casserole and I did not want to fail them. Mom said drain them. I was glad I asked. I noted my copy of the recipe.

Luckily, I paid attention in math class, so I used my food scale to figure out how much 5/8ths of the cooked rice would be, reserving the rest for a later dinner. I had a crazy thought that the dish would be ruined by the switch of brands, because for some reason I thought the rice types were different, but they are not.

I thought AJ wanted to help me, but she ran off. This was good, because she missed my end of the conversation where she'd have heard me tell Mon that no, I had not planned on doubling the recipe. There'd be plenty of food.

I went back to my room, dejected, and told Ben I had officially ruined Thanksgiving.

To rectify my error, Mom instructed Rusty to assemble another one at the restaurant ASAP. He had ingredients on hand, as he'd been making them for his customers. But he didn't have much time to bake his. 

Mine was still slightly warm when I arrived, but it got reheated and lost a little liquid in the process. Maybe I shouldn't have drained the corn after all. Rusty's baked in haste, was a little soupy. Guests were instructed to get a spoonful of each and stir.

Thanksgiving is not all about the food, but you could have fooled us. We had 3 turkeys and a ham, 4 pans of dressing (also called stuffing if you're not from around here), and it got more ridiculous from there, including 9 desserts.

How many kinfolk were there? Let's count: Connie and Tim (the hosts), Mom and Dad, Granddaddy Jerome, Drew, Patrick, Liz and their son Wesley (who is 10 months old now!), Rusty, Beth, Beth's parents Tom and Cheryl, Grandma Hazel, Heidi and her daughter Morgan (and Morgan's boyfriend Travis, who only stopped by), Scott, Jean, and their kids Collin, Claire, and Ella, and Ben, Anna June, and me. I think that's 25. Believe it or not, that's a smallish crowd.

 

Anna June had a great time playing tag with my cousins in the front yard. Then, they came inside and played pool. Later, we played Thanksgiving JINGO, a game very similar to Bingo, but the spaces called are pictures associated with educational Thanksiving facts, and they don't have to be in a certain column. AJ's teacher sent it home with her. She didn't win, but had fun playing with all 4 participating generations.

We packed up our leftovers in our own Tupperware, and left to go home. We ended up watching a movie on Netflix: The Land Before Time X: The Great Migration. Stretched out on the couch, I fell asleep and snored loudly almost immediately. I woke up to see the main plot of the movie: youngster Littlefoot has been raised by his grandparents, due to an absent father and a mother who had been killed. In this great migration, he meets and builds a relationship with his biological father, who leads a herd. The herd is (presumably) too big to return to the Great Valley where Littlefoot lives, so he must decide whether to stay with his grandparents or go with his father. He eventually picks his grandparents, but the whole scene, including a musical number with his friends assuring him they'd still be his friends regardless of his choice, was too much for us. We bawled. We were still crying through all the credits and after. Since we had both just spent the day with our parents and grandparents, such a choice was too heartbreaking. 

Overall, it was still a great day. We are thankful.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Faux-hawk

Anna June tried to make a Mohawk in the bathtub last night. Her hair's a little too long, so we went with this.

Friday, November 22, 2013

This Guy

Anna June May be fine, but her dad has strep throat. 
AJ made him a get well card. It has a rainbow and is precious. We're going to try to spend the weekend recovering. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Baby's First Crossword

Anna June started working a crossword puzzle with her granddaddy on Saturday night, and got really frustrated when she couldn't complete it. So Ben went online and found a kid crossword, and they worked it together. Ta-da!

Friday, November 15, 2013

No Time


I asked Anna June if she felt like she needed cough medicine last night, and she said no. She had some chamomile tea with honey, and considered that her medicine. So I skipped it, but shouldn't have. She woke up twice, and the second time, instead of going straight to her room, I went to the kitchen in search of purple medicine.

"Mama mama mama mama mama!" She hoarsely called. 

I called back, "I'm in the kitchen getting you some medicine! I'll be right there!"

"Mama ma ma MAMA!" 

It reminded me of when she has night terrors and she can't respond to what I'm saying because she's actually asleep. 

"I said I'm coming. Did you think I left?"

"No," she replied. 

She reluctantly sat up and drank the (probably disgusting) medicine.

We all went back to sleep, but now it is time to get up and that is a scene I dread. TGIF.

I hope to blog this weekend. We have lots of pictures to share from October. But since I've been moving at work, I've had no time to blog like I want.  Here we a couple of pictures I took of AJ this week. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Star Student

Anna June's school held awards assemblies on Friday to honor the children who made the honor roll. Pre-K and Kindergarten don't technically get grades, but they joined the other grades in honoring those kids with perfect attendance. In addition, each class gave a "Good Citizen" award. This month, the theme was "respect." So each teacher honored a student that had been the most respectful in their class.

Anna June was named her class's honoree. Since they sent a note home, we knew about it ahead of time. I asked the teacher for more details, and took off work to attend the assembly.

I am so glad I did. It was precious to see all the little kids (Pre-K through 2 at this program, grades 3-5 at a later one) go up to receive their ribbons and certificates. One teacher even got Chuck E Cheese gift certificates for free tokens to give her honorees, which I saw as a First Grader showed his mom sitting next to me.

No one in AJ's class had perfect attendance - thanks, head lice! So when Mrs. Barrett took the microphone, it was only to announce her good citizen for the month of October. (I guess they didn't do September.)

At home, AJ had been pretty proud of the award. But then, she started to worry about tripping across the stage. As an introvert, it must be hard for her to accept recognition in front of hundreds of people.

She had better get used to it. I imagine this is just the first of many awards to cone in her long academic career. Before now, though, aside from getting to pull from the treasure box at the end of the week like all the kids who've stayed on "green" has been her only recognition. This is her first real award for something she's accomplished on her own and not just participated in.

I am just about as proud as I can be.

She was pretty embarrassed when she got her certificate. But let's just call it humble. After all, you'd expect that from the most respectful kid in the class.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Kind of Sick


Anna June is kind of sick. She hasn't run a fever but has complained of a sore throat for days. Actually, she has complained of everything for days. It's her head, her nose, sneezing, coughing, her eyes, her legs, her stomach. She is tired, cranky, and doesn't feel well. I have been giving her medicine at night to help her sleep.

Before you ask, yes, we've all had our flu shots.

Monday night, I gave her Tylenol rather than Triaminic because she seemed to ache more than cough. That was a mistake. She fought us for an hour and a half at bedtime. She was too scared to sleep, and then, after I caved and laid down with her for a few minutes, there was much screaming and crying when I got up. 

So I drugged her again last night, after a warm bath with Epsom salts to help her poor, tired, growing muscles and bones. (Side note: with her new sneakers on, we measured her at 4 feet tall! No wonder she hurts - that's about 2 inches in 2 months.)

I hate giving her medicine when she's not really, really sick, but if she doesn't rest, she'll end up really, really sick anyway.

We keep checking her temperature, which is normal. I am not planning to take her to the doctor unless symptoms markedly worsen or a fever develops. Then, we will go and they will say there is nothing they can do: it is viral and she just needs rest.

I am glad we stayed home more than usual this weekend. I'm glad we avoided contact with little Wesley, although we'd all love to see him. I'm also glad that so far we haven't missed school or work with this. She even laid down at nap time at school yesterday - evidently only the kids who are not feeling well do this. 

Maybe the illness will be gone in a few days, and the extreme whiny-ness will subside.

If not, we'll re-evaluate. 

To mitigate the impact of such bad news, here is a series of self-portraits AJ made on our recent vacation.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Memories

"Memories" is the name of the puzzle Anna June was so excited to work this weekend. It was 500 pieces, and in the Encore! Series by Rose Art. Why am I mentioning this? The puzzle veterans did not love this puzzle. We don't want to see this brand again if we can help it.

First of all, we have no idea where this came from. Box lot? Yard sale? It had been opened and we had no memory of doing it, so it probably wasn't a gift.

All the pieces were the same basic H shape. There were no oddballs to pick out. This made it harder, but it also led to a lot of false fits, especially for AJ. As you can see from the picture, there was a lot of brown. Brown's not our favorite, but we could have gotten past it. We kept trying the same pieces over and over!

AJ realizes she's a puzzle rookie, but she really likes them. She's ready to do another one! Ben and I may prefer the 12-piece barnyard animal puzzles. At least they don't take up the kitchen table for days on end!



Saturday, November 9, 2013

Down Time

Anna June seemed overwhelmed by school, Halloween, and vacation all at once, so I made her an offer I knew she wouldn't refuse: let's stay home this weekend.

By stay home, I mean fewer errands to run, fewer meals out, and no extraneous commitments.We are skipping date night to stay home with AJ - we may watch a movie.

AJ has been excited for this all week.

We've started a 500 piece puzzle, and she's currently playing with her dolls. She has read them books and taken them places.

We still had to go to swim lessons, but came back after lunch.

She loves pretending. She invented something called "rose garden time" when she could do whatever she wanted.

That reminded me of something I've had on the fridge, saving for a post. She invites her imaginary friends over for parties. The guest list for one was recently saved:
Kimberly
Jennifer
Jonathan
Smith
Elizabeth
Caleb
Laura
Ava

I hope they all had a good time.

My rose garden time is over and I have to get back to laundry.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Tech Support

Some nights, Anna June goes to bed and I think, "I want to blog, but I have a computer question." Those are usually the same nights as when the help desk looks like this by 9 PM.
Forget it. I will ask later.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Just the Right One


Anna June and I went to the Pumpkin Patch on Sunday, October 27. We took our time riding all the rides and seeing the sights, until it started to get late and I encouraged the all-important hayride to the field. We had saved it for last, because it was a long way to lug a heavy gourd.

Each year, we've gone late in October, so I have never seen these pumpkins still on the vine. We were able to see some trampled yellow flowers, which makes me think that the pumpkins really did grow there instead of somewhere else.

AJ wanted a big one, so she picked it out. It ended up being a beautiful jack-o-lantern.

In this photo, AJ is sporting:
Her new haircut from the day before (news alert - she is growing her bangs out. But if she complains, they will be cut again immediately.)
Hair clips to contain said growing bangs
Orange shirt that was actually very appropriate but she thought was kind of red
Gingham skirt with rick rack - long enough for church, but fun enough for the farm
Striped socks
Brand new size 13 white Sketchers sneakers. Yes, she has her sneakers from August but she wanted an additional pair. I could not say no, since I bought some very comfortable shoes for myself at the same time, and so did Ben. Actually, he bought the same exact make and model he had before.

It ended up being great weather, and, although it was crowded, it was not unbearable. Last year, we went with AJ's whole class and this year it was just the two of us. I almost didn't offer to take her, but she asked and, well, there's only going to be so many more years that she wants to go. So we had a good time in the sun that day.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Before Picture: Teacher Work Day

Anna June is predictable in her unpredictability.

If I tell her that I really need her help getting ready, she'll either be the most cooperative kid on earth, demonstrating how grown up she is, or she'll suddenly lose the capability of independent movement.

I know I've written about this before. Forgive the broken record.

I read an article about how to keep your kids from becoming brats. One rule was don't call your kids more than once to wake up - let the alarm clock do it, and let her be responsible. That is a lovely theory. I hope it works for the author and all of her followers. But for me, it is not working whatsoever.

We all know that AJ doesn't get enough sleep. We all know that she's terrible at sleeping even when she does go to bed without a fight.

Maybe Daylight Savings Time this weekend will help.

Today was a Teacher Work Day. I don't like this title, as teachers work every day. But the kids were out of school, and UAB was open, so they took the opportunity to do a service and make some money, so AJ was off to Adventure Camp.

She wanted to wear one of her favorite summer outfits, but I explained to her the high was only in the 50s today. She decided to wear it anyway, adding leggings and a sweater. She had to wear the same sneakers she wore this summer, too, but actually, they're getting too small (the shoes she wears to school are fine, though). The fight over clothes made me thankful for uniforms once again.

I'm getting a new set of responsibilities at work, and things like being on time and keeping the personal stuff at home will be even more important. Right now I enjoy a certain degree of freedom, but I have to move offices, and I will have to make adjustments.

I tried to explain this to AJ. She just kept lying there. Eventually, she got up, but wandered into my bedroom, and I had to call her several times to come to the bathroom and to get ready. I essentially had to dress her. She's more than capable, but, well, today's excuse was, "My legs are too tired."

Side note: she does flail about in her sleep quite a bit. I am not doubting the veracity of her statement.

Yes, I know preparing the night before is key. And preparing on the weekends. And getting up earlier. And going to bed earlier. And. And.

But this morning, AJ got ready for day camp (eventually) and we got out the door.

However, her hair was not brushed. I had packed a brush and ponytail holders in her backpack, at her request, in case some of her counselors who liked to do her hair this summer ended up there for one-day camp. She decided she would do it herself.

We are headed to the beauty parlor tomorrow, so don't worry too much about those bangs in her face. Just consider this the "before" picture.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: After School Care

(This photo is not my own - taken from the post in the Avondale PTA facebook group. It was too good not to share.)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Friday, October 11, 2013

Brat in the Hat

Anna June's school goes by Birmingham City's strict dress code, and the children wear uniforms. While the policy specifies the color and style of the shirts and pants/skirts/jumpers/shorts the children wear, it doesn't say much about socks, except you have to wear them, or hats, except you're not supposed to wear them.

However, today has been deemed Crazy Socks and Crazy Hat Day at Avondale.

Because the socks are sort of left up to the kids, we let AJ wear socks with outrageous patterns and colors all the time - thanks to a huge supply sent by Granny. I have only bought her a couple of pairs of socks ever in her life. She must have 50 pairs right now. For the socks, she decided she'd go mismatched, to be "crazy". She chose a black sock with yellow trim and polka dots, and then a somewhat plain gray sock, noticeably taller, with purple trim. Not TOO crazy, in my opinion.

But Anna June had a vision about what she wanted to wear on her head.

She has over 25 different hats and more than 50 headbands, but she wanted to be creative.

She wanted to wear striped tights on her head.

Ben and I spent some time trying to engineer the legs to stand up like she wanted. I unfurled a coat hanger, only to discover that the legs extended to full height would be a little TOO crazy. Ben suggested folding them in about halfway. We stuffed them with newspaper and reinforced with drinking straws.

While we were making this, AJ was trying to do her homework. But we started a bit late, and she was exhausted. Multiple meltdowns ensued. I calmed her down by reading her a long book. She had her traditional struggle going to bed. It was awful.

This morning wasn't better. She fought with me over every detail, including breakfast. I was glad to send her to school.

She looked like this:


Because of her Seuss-like look and her awful behavior, we dubbed her "The Brat in the Hat"

Interestingly, the occasion for dressing up today is that they're having a program called "PBS: Positive Behavior Support" where they talk about rewarding children for good behavior.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Monday Morning Check-in

On Friday, we spotted another louse in Anna June's hair, giving her an unintentional long weekend. Ben stayed home with her in the morning, and I stayed home with her in the afternoon. We called the pediatrician and, after determining that our pharmacy did not carry the exact prescription they wanted to use, they found a sample and I picked it up.

We followed the directions as exactly as we could.

We have not seen a live bug since then, but they take a week to hatch. So we're not out of the woods yet.

According to our PTA facebook group, there have been about 4 other cases reported in kindergarten.

But AJ is back at school today, in hopes that she can avoid further outbreaks. We blow-dried her hair, and braided it in several braids. She looks ridiculous but we hear lice don't like plaits.

Besides being preoccupied with microscopic insects, here are some other things we managed to do/accomplish this weekend:

A trip to the mall to get more of the soap that we all three like. It was out of season, but they had some in the back. It was on sale. I bought five.

Swim lessons. Since there were no live bugs, and she has no contact with other kids, I sent her anyway. She's about to move up to the next level really soon - she has only a couple of skills to master in the freestyle and backstroke. This may be her niche sport. I'm happy with it. Of course, I got to work out while she swam.

Lunch at American Deli, using one of the coupons from our Enjoy the City book we bought from AJ's school.

Ben studied and napped. I did laundry, bill paying, and other low-impact things around the house. AJ enjoyed watching a lot of TV on her Kindle.

Date night, which may have included a sandwich I wouldn't eat again and some serious discussions about schoolwork. AJ stayed with her grandparents, and Uncle Drew took her to the park. They played tic-tac-toe and ran a race, which AJ won. I told her - honestly - I have never beaten Drew at a footrace. He was a fast kid. An 8-year-old me probably still couldn't beat a 30+ year old him, either. All went well until she fell off the swing, which hit her in the head at least once. She was ok, just full of mulch.

On Sunday, AJ wanted to "coach" me at running (read: jogging) so we took Radar to the P-A-R-K (he can spell it, too). We walked a lap to let him mark trees and conduct his dog business, and then, I let AJ have the leash and she jogged him around the quarter-mile track. I jogged the whole lap, myself. Then we walked another lap, and went home.

Grabbed breakfast to-go at the coffee shop, which is just about the only place I'd let Radar sit in the car for a second while we ran in. We came home and ate while we decided what our menu and plans will be for the rest of the week.

Went to church, and then went to the grocery store. We saw at least 4 people we know, including a couple of moms who had kids in preschool with AJ. One has moved, and the other stayed and went the private school route. We were proud to say that AJ is doing well at Avondale - it's hard to believe our kids are 5 now.

We rushed home to eat lunch - I had this soup in the crockpot. It probably smelled better than it tasted. Ben described it as, "like chili, but not as good." Poor guy - he had to sit at home trying to study while it smelled so good and he got so hungry. I asked him to text me his grocery store requests and I kept getting things like "coq au vin." Yeah, right.

AJ and I spent part of the rainy day reading books from the library. A call came in that one I had requested was available, so we ventured out in the rain to make returns and check out new ones. AJ is so proud of her library card!

On our journey, we stopped to buy Aunt Beth a birthday present. It's kind of random, but it's what AJ wanted to give her. She prepared her card and we wrapped it, and even remembered to deliver it when we went to Rusty's, where we ate dinner with one of my friends from high school. He recently moved back to Birmingham, and works at an antique store downtown.

At various points, we touched base with most of the grandparents, and everyone seems to be doing fine.

We finally got AJ to go to sleep, and we crashed, too. Busy, busy weekend, leading into a busy week!




Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Funny

Anna June wanted to snuggle in bed with us for a few minutes this morning. So as I was getting ready to get up and about, I grabbed my phone to see what gems I had missed on Facebook while I was sleeping.

"Hey, AJ, do you want to see a cute picture?" I asked
"Sure," she replied. She grinned widely when she saw an adorable 10-month old, smiling.
"Who is that?"
"That's Rebekah, Laura Beth and Holt's little girl."
"I'm not sure who that is," which made me sad. We haven't seen our friends in a while.
"You know Frances and Bill at church, right?" I was referring to the Church Treasurer and his wife.
"Oh, yeah." She thought for a second.

"Hey, is he called Bill because he gets all the checks and money?"

No, but that's a good guess!

Have a great Wednesday.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Real Head-Scratcher

If you keep up with me on Facebook, you know that this weekend, Anna June had a case of head lice. If you are related to me, you are mortified that I would blab such information to the whole world.

In my defense, I got GREAT advice from several moms who have been there, as well as a real live pharmacist with her very own informative handout on the subject.

Here are some facts about lice.
1. They do not discriminate based on income, race, gender, or age. But they do tend to transfer kid-to-kid.
2. Really, although I keep a pretty "dirty" house, it has nothing to do with cleanliness.
3. In fact, they seem to like clean hair better, as dirty hair has more oil and makes it more slippery for them to catch onto the hair strand.
4. They show up in private daycares and schools as well as expensive camps and yes, public kindergartens.
5. They're fast.

Here's how we treated it, in case anyone needs to know.

First, when I spotted what I suspected was a louse, we were about to eat lunch. We ate, and, since we were near Walgreens, I hopped out and got us some tea tree oil shampoo - I remembered from a scare before (when a classmate had it) that we needed to be vigilant, regardless of whether I thought I saw anything or not.

When we returned home, I sat AJ down in the brightest light in the house, and got our finest-toothed comb. It didn't take me long - I had seen them before, having experienced these myself as a youngster. My hair was much longer, but less curly than AJ's, at that point.

I immediately sent Ben back to a drugstore. Meanwhile, AJ was terrified. She was also pretty tired from swimming (side note: it really stinks that the lice can live through UAB's way over-chlorinated pool for 45 minutes, then a shower. Those guys know how to hold their breath!) She cried and cried. "I can't miss school! I'm the best kid in the class!" she cried. I tried to take her mind off it. I called my parents to let them know the news, and Dad, who had been painting, texted us pictures of his hair with blue paint in it to take AJ's mind off it.



It didn't work.

During one of her crying jags, I may have mentioned that it might be too cold for lice to live in Wisconsin. She wants to move immediately.

Ben came back with Rite-Aid's version of Rid, a recommended brand. It had a three-part kit: shampoo, comb, and spray. We tried following the directions to the letter. AJ sat for 10 minutes while the solution soaked in to her head. I am sure there are parents who aren't excited about putting insecticide on their child, but I was much less excited about trying natural remedies that may or may not work. We washed it out accordingly, and then, with AJ in her fuzzy pink robe, we sat back down in the kitchen to do the comb out.

An hour and a half later, AJ had watched three TV episodes of kid shows on her Kindle, and I had removed more nits and eggs than I care to remember. I sectioned off her hair in bobby pins as I went. She looked pretty cute afterwards.

Later that night, after the itching was gone and there were no little scary things in sight, we ventured over to Mom and Dad's to watch the UAB game on TV. We warned them we were coming, and they still wanted us to come. They're not scared of lice - they were scared they'd be eating leftovers all week. They had cooked a ton of food, which was all delicious, by the way.

As a fun activity, and because we'd read that the heat may kill the eggs, we excused ourselves and went to use my flat iron, which I'd brought along for the occasion.

If you're ever wondering how AJ would look with straighter hair, wonder no longer.


Also, wonder no longer if you've always wanted to see Grandpa Gary as a little girl. I don't think she could look more like him (and Ben, of course) in these pictures if she tried.

She thought the hair straightening was fun, but, naturally, it didn't last.

On Sunday, I tried to look through her hair and found (what I thought was) just fuzz, so we were ok, but stayed home for good measure. All Saturday and Sunday I was experiencing shooting pains in my abdomen, so I wanted to stay home anyway. I forgot moms don't get days off. I washed more bedding and towels, and Ben vacuumed the new rugs and the upholstered furniture. I put stuffed animals in the dryer in case they were infested, too. I didn't see any other bugs except that first one or two initially, but we carried on with the cleaning.

On Monday morning, we got ready to leave, and I went through AJ's hair once more for good measure. I was HORRIFIED to see that there were still some eggs and a nit or two. I was on the verge of a breakdown. I still didn't feel well (but I was much better), Ben had to go to work, I had meetings and deadlines, and then, there were the dang bugs. It is possible that no one would have gotten close enough to AJ to detect them, but I could not send her to school with them in her hair. I just couldn't, even if it meant ruining her perfect attendance.

I was concerned that the bugs were back, but Ben researched and suggested that they were just dead hulls that still clung on to the hair that I had missed in the epic combing. I was worried I had missed laundering her pillow, so I started a whole new round of bedding washing. Our pillows have never been so clean.

I called the pediatrician's office, in case AJ needed a prescription. As it turns out, they thought the same thing, and recommended that if we weren't seeing live bugs, to wait to treat her again until Saturday, as recommended on the box. Stick to the plan, they said, unless things get worse. Also, they said, if she was free of nits then she could return to school the next day. There wasn't a standard waiting period or anything.

My mom graciously agreed to come by the house (again, not scared she'd catch it) to watch AJ while I went to the store. In the middle of the grocery store, I got a phone call about a problem at work. It was hard to explain to someone in California that when I went to the back of the store by the shampoo, she couldn't hear me, but if I moved up to the toothpaste area, it was fine. I went back to the house and got back on the computer. AJ was having fun playing, making crafts, working in her workbook, and watching TV.

We've been asked where she got the lice. Honestly, we don't know, but we expect that they came from school, since that's the only time she's really been around other children. The kindergarteners play, and give each other hugs, and probably have more contact than you'd think at that age. We're not going to peg it on one person, but we did alert the school so they could tell the teacher that a) AJ would be absent and b) AJ had lice, so be on the lookout. Rarely are cases isolated. Even if we could find one kid who gave it to her, that child of course is not to blame. It's just one of those things that happens to kids. It can, of course, be an opportunity to remind kids we don't share hats and hair brushes, but on the whole, all you can do is treat it and move on.

This morning I was literally holding my breath as I combed through AJ's hair. I found nothing. I combed it again, and again found nothing. Here, I was grateful that her hair has gotten less curly, and less blond, as both of those things make it more difficult to find the little guys. I am also glad we keep her hair short, even if occasionally someone mistakes her for a boy. I contemplated just shaving her head, but decided against it. It wasn't a terrible infestation, just terribly annoying.

What we learned: many of our friends have gone through the same thing, and offered their wisdom, tips, and support. I will also not use the term "nit-picking" lightly anymore - it really is more tedious than most things I've ever done.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Leadership

Anna June is exhibiting extraordinary leadership skills.

At school, she sits at a table with her friends from last year, C and J, and a new girl, N. They all play together. AJ brags about how her table behaves the best and does the best work.

I wouldn't expect any less.

AJ has taught them a cheer. They all put their hands in and say, "Go, Team Table!" I asked if the other tables had a cheer. Evidently, they do not.

But the other day, J got in trouble for, if I remember correctly, swinging on the swings on her stomach. The teacher repeatedly told her to stop and she didn't. Soon, she was in time out.

Anna June reported that she then, "called an emergency meeting."

She got C and N together, and let them know that J was in time out. They discussed the severity of the situation and how it affected Team Table.

I tried to listen to this with a straight face. I pictured a pint sized damage control meeting on the pebbled playground. How could Team Table protect their status as the best when one of their members was in time out?

This kid is going to be President of something.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The F Word

"S- is fat," Anna June told me on Wednesday morning.

It rang in my ears. There was a matter-of-fact statement. I didn't know the girl, but I knew she was in AJ's class. I have no idea if it is true or not, but AJ doesn't usually lie.

"Well, does SHE say she is fat, or do YOU say she is fat? " I asked.

"I guess I say she's fat. But I wouldn't tell her that."

Whew. At least there is that.

I told AJ that some children gain weight first and then grow taller, and then they're not fat anymore. I reached deep into all of my magazine-reading wisdom and said, "It doesn't matter if she's fat. It matters if she is healthy. Do you think she is healthy?"

"Yeah," AJ said.

I asked if she plays with the other kids at recess. AJ said yeah.

"But she doesn't eat healthy food," AJ said. "She eats chips, not applesauce."

Side note: I know applesauce isn't the most healthy thing ever, especially the kind with the added sugar and preservatives, but at least it originated as fruit, partially, right? And we like it.

Yikes. Childhood obesity is on the rise. You know it, I know it, the scientists know it, and the public health messengers like First Lady Obama know it as well.

I was mentally filing for an intervention grant to fight childhood obesity in school, but AJ changed the subject slightly. AJ pointed out that when S hugs, she hugs so tight that the recipient of the hug is squished. I am assuming it's from her girth, but it could also be just from her personality. AJ told me she asked her not to hug her anymore, which I think is sad.

We quickly realized it was late, and got moving.

I packed AJ some applesauce. I should have packed an extra one for her friend.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

What a Doll

If you think this coloring is not up to Anna June's normal standard, you are correct. Her doll, Heather, "colored" this (with a little help from AJ's hands).

AJ has been loving playing with her dolls and toys lately. Maybe it's because we've removed some to make room and she can actually see what she has now. Maybe it's because we just don't want her parked in front of a TV or Kindle all the time. Maybe it's because her imagination is blossoming. Either way, it's adorable.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Where You At?

Anna June has some great stories, and I love to tell them. Here's where I'm at right now:

My blogging has become less frequent for many reasons, most of which involve work. I got an upgrade to my computer, which means my very own scanner had to go away because there were no drivers to make it compatible with my PC. Also, my image editing program went away - because it's for personal use, I couldn't have them load it and I don't have administrative rights to load it myself. So, if I scan something on the office's scanner, well, it looks how it looks, until I learn how to use some other program I may have. I'd really like to figure out how to blog at home, but here's my schedule.

Get up
Get ready
Get everyone else ready
Get AJ to school
Get to work
Get AJ home from school
Get home
Get dinner (make or buy)
Get AJ ready for bed
Get ready for bed
Get to sleep

On weekends, substitute work and school for menu planning, grocery shopping, and laundry, not to mention church, visiting people and doing things we'd like to do like swim lessons, trips to the library and date night. So my breaks at work were when I was blogging. I'll work on squeezing more in at home, but right now, it is what it is. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Today's Tidbit

Anna June loves to create art, and she loves to do it any time and any where. I believe this one was from this summer, and she drew it in church.



Afterwards, she told me this story to go with it.

Once upon a time, there was a dinosaur. He lived with his daughter. he got the chicken pox. His sister sent a dress to the daughter, her niece. But the daddy dinosaur thought the dress was for him, so he put it on. It had flowers on it. He looked really funny, even though the dress fit!

The end.

(I think she started making up a story at Liz's house at some point, and got obsessed with drawing dinosaurs for a while. I think she's over it now. I just wanted to share the story before the paper got tossed.)