Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thinking Thursday: Bedtime

Anna June had a complete and total meltdown at bedtime last night. Unfortunately, it was timed with my complete and total sugar crash, needing to lie down and rest a while. I told her she could lie in my bed with me - if she went to the potty first - and if her dad wanted his rightful place in his own bed, he could move her when he got home.

It worked.

Radar, AJ and I were all sound asleep when Ben got home. At about 8 pm.

But I talked to her this morning and I explained that phenomenon would not be happening again. Happy or sad, early or late, she must sleep in her own bed, regardless of her feelings on the matter.

She seems OK with the idea, but we'll see how it is at bedtime.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Works of Art Wednesday: Activities

Anna June has been exposed to a variety of extracurricular activities at her young age, although none for very long. At McElwain, she experienced Soccer Shots, a soccer fundamentals program; Zumba-tomic, a children's Zumba program; and a basketball "camp" with a dinosaur theme from Teams of Tomorrow- or TOT. At some point in the camp, they gave her this picture to color and I stashed it in the unfinished bin, and recently, AJ colored her dinosaur.

Since AJ's been at Avondale, she's had Spanish lessons, although they're not being offered this semester. In after school care, they've offered tennis (which is over), a storyteller with arts and crafts every other week (ongoing), and now dance lessons from the Alabama Ballet are every Thursday.

I asked AJ if she could take any kind of lessons, what would they be. She said "gymnastics" as quick as a wink. It is a good thing, because now we're signing her up for visits on the TumbleBus, starting Monday. She's very excited to go inside, since she saw a YouTube video of the ingenious contraption. It's not Olympic training, but it is a start.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tuesday Things: Couch Day

Anna June ran a fever Monday night to go along with her cold, so I kept her home with me. Except I needed to go in to the office for a couple of things, and I decided to bring her with me, since she felt fine.

I thought she'd enjoy hanging out on my office couch. I was wrong. She was bored, though I packed a fun bag for her. We did stay longer than I wanted. AJ got to see lots of my friends, though, and I got a few key tasks accomplished.

I do still love my sofa. I try to take one lunch hour a week to eat quickly and then stretch out to read for a few minutes. Last year, this seldom happened. This year, I'm making more of an effort, despite my plans being foiled constantly. Photo by Anna June, Tuesday's plan spoiler.

Thing I love: office love seat, originally belonging to Grandma Hazel, delivered to my office by Drew, both of whom I cannot thank enough.
Why I love it: every once in a while, I can lock my door and pretend I'm home. Also more convenient to lie upon than the floor.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Weekend Review: Straightening

This weekend, Anna June was, I think, a little bored. We were hoping for a quiet, boring weekend after the accelerated, stressful week that we all had.

On Friday night we went out for pizza. It was fun - we ran into AJ's friend Guthrie's dad and had a great chat about all things Avondale.

On Saturday, we enjoyed bagels at home and hung out until lunch, picking up and straightening various things around the house. We went to Trussville for lunch at Sneaky Pete's, dessert at the Three-Eared Rabbit, and shopping at JCPenney and Best Buy. Ben the bargain hunter ended up with a new belt and three new shirts.  AJ was getting tired so we came home to rest. She had pulled an activity from her box of fun, which was to make paper dolls. Ben decided he'd help me out and let me finish the book I was reading, (Abundance by Sena Jeter Naslund) while they played paper dolls. They printed, colored, cut, and, then, inexplicably, taped or glued (whichever one AJ wanted to do was not what Ben actually did), and then there was a meltdown. This won't be spoiling the ending of the book because we all know Marie Antoinette's ultimate fate - but there was more than 500 pages I had invested in this character, and as she was being led to the guillotine, I'd read a few words and then "MAMA!!!!!!!!!!! MAMA!!!!!!" Tears. Hugs. Comforting. Calming. Then, something touched the same nerve and "MAMAAAAAA!!!!!" on repeat. You'd have thought I was headed to the guillotine, myself, for all the weeping coming from my child, who had to know all I wanted was just a few more minutes to myself! It must have taken me half an hour to get to the two pages I had left at the end of the book.

By then, of course, I wanted my mama.

AJ went to Nana's for the evening. We had a great date night at Newk's and then watching a movie at home.

On Sunday, we straightened up some more, focusing on the tons of laundry still left to do, went to church, made lunch (note: we do not recommend the bacon and provolone flavor of Ragu pasta sauce. AJ picked it out and it was worse than it sounded.), and we watched a few episodes of Shaun the Sheep. We tried to convince AJ to take a nap. I went to the bed to rest, and found Ben already snoring. Then Radar started snoring near my feet. Then I started snoring, naturally. AJ came in and thought it was too funny.

 AJ's activity she pulled from the box was "Play school - let the kid be the teacher." She really enjoyed that. She had me, the student, write the sentence "I like jam." Then we went to the writing center and the doll center.

We did a few more things around the house, went to the library, and then our Sunday night trip to Rusty's. Not very exciting to AJ, but we did get a few things straightened out, a few bills paid, a few things cleaned. Hopefully it was restful enough to tackle our upcoming crazy week.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Happy Sunday!

Here's Anna June with a caramel kid's sundae from the Three-Eared Rabbit in Trussville. Have a delicious day!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Big Girl Bed Preview

Anna June is getting a big girl twin bed from her Granddaddy. We'll have to repair it, since its former owner was evidently named Isabel, but AJ is very excited!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Thinking Thursday: Perfection

Anna June is not perfect. This is not news to anyone, except her.

Today, she celebrated her 100th Day of School. (When we were kids, this milestone was not acknowledged. Now, it's a big deal.) she had to color 100 tiny pictures, based on a coloring key. She was to leave the moon-shaped pictures white, but she colored them yellow. Once the mistake was discovered, she had a full-on come-apart. Bless her little heart.

She is so used to doing everything great, and when she doesn't, she can't stand it.

I hope she doesn't stay in that phase long.

Here's a puzzle we put together, perfectly.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Works of Art Wednesday: Big Fish

Anna June's fish with holiday stamps is too big to scan. It's currently on my office door.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tuesday Things: iPhone

Anna June, like many children of her generation, will have her childhood captured in slightly blurry pixels. That's right - I have an iPhone with a camera, and I'm not afraid to use it.

Of course, lately, AJ isn't afraid to use it, either. She has learned how to take photos, send and receive text messages, and, of course, make phone calls. She loves Instagram, for its endless supply of images, and she especially loves that Liz and Patrick have a photo stream of Wesley. She loves to look over my shoulder at Pinterest, and last week she suggested search terms for me which were actually pretty good. She has kid-appropriate apps on all our phones and tablets, so she can listen to stories, play games, or even play the piano.

Since technology is part of our world - and definitely part of AJ's - we've decided to embrace it. But sometimes, I do have to tell her to put down or give back the phone. I need it, too, you know.

Here's a picture AJ took of her room, including her alphabet clothesline, a work in progress.



Thing I love: iPhone 4
Why I love it: It allows me to capture moments as they happen, and blog in bed.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Weekend Review: MLK Holiday

Anna June had another great weekend. It's still going, as we have today off for MLK Day. We asked AJ if she knew what Dr. King did that we celebrate. She said, "He died so we could all go to school together. And he had a dream." See, she learns good stuff at school.

We've eaten, shopped, colored, watched tv, talked on the phone, cleaned and studied. AJ has been off-the-wall silly, inventing new songs and playing crazy games with us we don't understand. She has been hyper with us, but totally reticent with others. It is so frustrating to have her stare blankly at an adult who loves her - it's like she completely loses her communication skills until the opportunity is over. She's the kid version of Michigan J. Frog.

Ben put together her doll accessory set she got for Christmas. Her dolls now have a playpen, high chair, and new stroller. We waited to assemble until we agreed to get rid of several other big toys, including the giant teddy bear. We still need to purge more, but AJ is delighted with her new floor space. She played with her baby doll, now named Flower, for quite a while, strolling her up and down the hall. We, of course, were Flower's grandparents. Flower Gallitz was evidently born three days ago and sleeps through the night, and can already walk. What a good girl! We are proud. We're not so disturbed AJ's seemingly a single mom living with us. In real life, her ersatz boyfriend Trey declared he wants to marry her - and all the other girls in the class. No word on whether Trey is Flower's father, but I'd rather her not marry him if he's clearly not ready to commit to one girl,

Here's hoping the weekday off goes as well as the weekend has.





Saturday, January 19, 2013

Reward

We took Anna June to Chuck E. Cheese to celebrate yet another great report card. Sometimes, though a girl can get tired of celebrating.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Photo Friday: Snow

Obligatory snow pictures of Anna June. She didn't want her picture taken. She wanted to build a snowman. Until I started several and she destroyed them. She wanted to have a snowball fight, until I hit her in the eye. We came in and had hot chocolate instead. I was exhausted from sitting in traffic and taking flatter detours, making our ten minute drive last over an hour. It's a good thing it doesn't snow here often! It was pretty, though! School let out early yesterday and starts late today. Happy Snow Day!



Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thinking Thursday: Phases

Anna June is always in the midst of a bunch of phases that are, well, challenging. But last night she went back for a while to being the sweet, sweet girl that she is.

Monday night there was whining. Tuesday night there was acting out and meltdowns when punished, followed by my less-than-brilliant idea of letting her (possibly temporarily) sleep in my bed - sleep seemed the only option. She slept so hard, and after so much Sprite, she peed in our bed. The steam-cleaner cleanup, of course, was left to her dad, and he did a good job.

So Wednesday, she was back to her sweetest self. She is getting excited about the possibility of a big-girl bed. The valentine cards we ordered came, along with the color-your-own mailboxes I ordered (with her teacher's permission) for her class. We stopped by to pick up aluminum cans from Connie and Tim for the Can Jam promotion going on at school. We went home and made dinner, baked (pre-measured cookie dough) cookies, and washed dishes. We finished her homework and got her stuff set for school.

Through all of this, she was an angel. I really hope this phase lasts!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Works of Art Wednesday: Bulletin Board

Anna June's class read The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. The weather report predicts snow tomorrow, but it won't stick like in the story.

This is AJ's piece, part of a bulletin board display.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tuesday Things: Bracelet

Anna June is a diligent little worker, when she wants to be. Sometimes, I sweeten the deal by resorting to cash rewards. She's awfully young, but it seems to work.

She'd been helping me a lot last week. She cheered me on and helped clean the den - as a surprise for her dad, who was out shopping. She helped me pick up when I asked her. She assisted in cooking. In other words, she was extremely good.

One night, there were a couple of items that I could NOT find in our junk-filled house. One of them was her dad's weekly pill box, which I had so carefully filled with his vitamins and prescriptions. I knew it was somewhere, but I could not figure it out. I had dinner to cook, so I offered AJ a reward for the pill box of $1. I also offered a $1 bounty on our giant screwdriver, which also was in the house somewhere - I just knew.

Wouldn't you know it - she found both items. She was quite proud of herself.

The problem is that we're a very cashless household, and I didn't actually have $2 in cash to give her, and neither did Ben, who, incidentally, had made no such promises. I had a $10, but I'd have to break it.

Four-year-olds do not like to wait.

I told her that after dinner I would go somewhere and get change. Perhaps I could interest her in a dessert? Actually, yes, I could - she remembered being told no to Blue Bell ice cream bars because we already had mini ice cream sandwiches, but when I said "dessert", she knew EXACTLY what she wanted. She was pretty mad I left her at home to be bathed because she wanted to see to it that I knew exactly which ice cream bars she meant, but I assured her I did.

I was in line at Publix to get the bars, and my friend Sara from work was right in front of me. I love Sara. We had lunch last month. We're on a committee together. We have the exact same car, except mine has a Packers sticker on the back. So while I was chatting with my car twin, the cashier handed me the change. I wasn't paying any attention - she gave me a $5 and a $1.

I got home and I told Anna June that she had been so helpful the past week that in addition to giving her the $2 I had promised her, I'd give her a bonus of $3, and I handed her the $5 bill. I didn't tell her that I literally was blabbing on and on about the new baby and Christmas and school and such that I completely forgot the point of my errand, to get 2 one dollar bills.

She learned the word bonus. It's a good word to know.

AJ was very excited. When we went shopping on Saturday, she carried around her money in her wallet, in her purse. She didn't spend it, opting to spend her gift card money instead.

On Sunday, when I was out of town, Ben and AJ shopped at Big Lots, and AJ insisted that she buy this bracelet for me.



It cost almost her entire bonus (less about 64 cents). AJ called me when I was on the way home to tell me that she had a present for me. When I got home, it was wrapped, with a bow.

What a wonderful, jingly, heartfelt gift! I joked that maybe I should go out of town more often. It's varying shades of purple, my favorite color.

Thing I love: silver bracelet
Why I love it: AJ bought it with her very own money

Monday, January 14, 2013

Weekend Review: Time Off

Anna June enjoyed her time off this weekend - time off from school, and actually, time off from her parents, especially me.

On Friday night we went as a family to visit the baby.

On Saturday, we did some things around the house. Anna June has a field trip to the circus coming up, and she's earning her money to go. There's a large list on the white board right now. She's doing great at crossing things off. We walked the dog, we got rid of some things, we shopped. We were getting ready to watch the Packers' game and my dad volunteered to have AJ come and spend the night with them. It turned out to be a good thing - Ben and I may have said some non-kid-appropriate words while watching the team fall apart in their loss to San Francisco. Also, I had a massive headache and didn't make it much past halftime.

On Sunday, we slept in. It was marvelous on a rainy, yucky weekend day. Then we went to pick AJ up, but I only said hi and then made my way to my Alpha Phi meeting in Tuscaloosa. We had a wonderful time - I enjoy all of these ladies so much. We ate at the University Club, and it was delicious. Eventually, I got home. We watched some television and then trekked to Rusty's for our Sunday night dinner.

AJ's highlights: Shopping on Sunday and buying a bracelet for me with her very own money. Making kool-aid. Spending more of her Target gift card on craft supplies. Working on writing letters and numbers. Coming with me to collect aluminum cans from friends and relatives for the can drive at school. Staying up late. Skipping baths. Spending time with her grandparents. Daddy-daughter lunch date at Taco Bell.

My highlights: Seeing my friends - I hope some young whippersnapper picks me up when I'm in my 80s and using a walker! Ben cleaning out my car, steam cleaning the den, sweeping, and watching AJ for me.

Ben's highlights: Watching football on our new tv, and sleeping late.

Radar wonders how many blog readers we really have.



It's once again National De-lurking Day! Please leave a comment to let me know you still read, or if it's your first time, then leave a comment letting me know you're out there somewhere.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Baby Love

Anna June visited Wesley last night. This is a sweet picture Patrick took. That is all.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Photo: Sign-in Please

In Anna June's classroom, the parents have to sign their children in, per the regulations. But AJ's teacher has a sign-in sheet for the children as well, so they have to practice writing their name, taking turns, and following rules.

Here is AJ signing in, with her friend Armani waiting his turn. She chose to wear her warm coat, even though the high today is 70 degrees and it's already 63. Don't be shocked by her bare legs.

I snapped this picture this morning on my phone to show off AJ's new sparkly shoelaces. Actually, she got them as a gift a while back, but didn't have a need for them until today, when I notice she'd broken the ends of the laces on her sneakers.

"When I was three," she explained, "I thought tennis shoes were uncomfortable." But now she knows better, and wears her Nikes almost everywhere.



Thursday, January 10, 2013

Thinking Thursday: Exhaustion

Anna June runs on empty a lot. (Hey, just like my car!)

She fights bedtime with every fiber of her being. Yet, she loves getting up by her alarm clock to get ready for school all by herself. She is exhausted.

We have known this for a long time. This is why we agonize over how long and how well she slept. For a while, I decided that I have no power in this situation, and I stopped worrying.

Then, it got worse.

Anna June's classroom uses the stoplight system. Everyone starts the day on "green" and if they misbehave, they get a warning and are moved to "yellow". If they misbehave again, they get put on "red" and don't receive a sticker for that day. If they get all 5 stickers for the week, they can get something from the treasure box on Friday.

Last week, she got on red, and this week, she's already been on yellow once. Yellow still gets a sticker, but all the kids on yellow had to sit out for 5 minutes at recess. When you're 4, five minutes is an eternity.

Last semester, she got on red only twice. We've not even had 2 full weeks yet and we've already had a red and a yellow. 2013 isn't looking good so far.

I am hoping it's just exhaustion that's keeping her in the bad kid column. Maybe we can catch up on some sleep this weekend and she'll go back to being an angel, at least at school.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Works of Art Wednesday: Plato

Anna June has tons of coloring books. And when she came home from school with yet another one - this one courtesy of Publix, I was not excited. But one day when I was doing something else, AJ colored the opening page to this book, which featured Publix's main kid mascot, Plato the Publixaurus.

I just got his name - "Plate-o," like a plate of food. Clever, right?

Anyway, AJ colored the page pretty well, cut it out, decorated it with stamps and glued googly eyes on it. All by herself. All the ideas were her own and she was so proud to give it to me.

So I'll overlook that Publix is trying to inundate my child with ploys for customer loyalty. As if the free cookies weren't enough.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tuesday Things: The Ugliest Birthday Cake Ever

Anna June is learning to help in the kitchen. And because I like to bake and she likes sweets, many of our joint projects revolve around baking cakes, cookies, brownies, and the like.

Since Monday was AJ's Granddaddy's birthday, she wanted to bake a cake for him.

I just got mini muffin tins for Christmas, and I was hoping for those. But AJ wouldn't have it - it was a birthday, and he needed a proper cake, with ice cream, of course.

She selected a Pillsbury Traditional Yellow Cake mix while we were at the store. She also selected some black Betty Crocker cupcake decorating icing (I couldn't not talk her out of the color). Of course, after we got home, I realized that I couldn't just spray a can of black icing onto the cake - it would require real icing. Sigh. Icing is my nemesis. I don't really like it, and I don't have the artistic knack. But practice makes perfect, so I keep trying.

Despite my past baking failures, some of which you can read about here, here and here, I keep trying. Even AJ has learned that looks can be deceiving when it comes to how something actually tastes.

Sunday night, after our customary trip to Rusty's, it was late. AJ was tired. I was determined to get her in bed as soon as possible. I had a game plan - send Ben to shop for the birthday gift while we were to get the cake in the oven, run AJ's bath while putting a load of her laundry (i.e., uniforms) in the wash, and then bathe her and be done in time to get the cake out of the oven. Foolproof.

While I prepped the cake pans, AJ cracked the eggs, having me check after each one for shell - she only got the tiniest bit in there, which I got out with a spoon. I opened the cake mix, got the oil out of the pantry, and measured the water carefully. AJ dumped everything in the bowl and began to stir, and then I continued with the hand mixer. The cake went into the oven, and we were pleased that both layers looked "even" in their pans.

As soon as I closed the oven door, I turned and saw the vegetable oil still sitting on the counter. This was just going to have to be a dry cake. I was not going to get the pans out of the oven, dump the batter back in the bowl, add the oil, put the batter back in the pans and the pans back in the oven. It would interfere with my clockwork-precision plan.

We executed the plan, and I was already mad at myself for forgetting one of the three ingredients. I mean, I learned to read a long time ago! There are even pictures on the box! Anna June did her best to console me. She said, "Granddaddy is actually a bigger fan of the ice cream." I knew that was true, so I calmed down a little. After all, how bad could a cake with 3 eggs in it be? At least this omission would lower the fat content!

Eventually, it was time for AJ to go to bed. She was VERY UPSET that she would not be awake to frost the still-cooling cake layers. I still had to make the vanilla frosting, after all. My compromise was that I would make the icing and put the cake together, but she could decorate it however she wanted in the morning.

I got the "Quick Vanilla Frosting" recipe from Dad's Own Cookbook, one of my top kitchen resources.  It is just butter, powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla. I actually dreamed last night that my grandma and great grandma (my Nana) were telling me that was how they always made icing. I know that's not true, but it's nice to know I can actually make icing all by myself. Ben once told me that he had no idea one could make icing - he thought it came from a can.

In the morning, it was pretty easy to wake her up. As predicted, though, she couldn't exactly use the decorative icing as she wanted, and she was pretty mad at me that I couldn't make the cake look like the curlicues on the can. I tried. I attempted to make a "J" for Jerry but it ended up looking way more curly than I had anticipated. I then went and found the other decorative icing I had so she could liven it up with a little color. Green, blue, and red squiggles were added to the mess.



My parents picked AJ up after school, and AJ and her Granddaddy spent the afternoon curled up in the recliner watching TV. (AJ got on the phone to let me know that I should make him a birthday card - which I did, using this free printable and some of AJ's artwork - and wrap his presents, and remember to bring the cake!) My mom made delicious spaghetti with homemade meat sauce, and garlic bread. We brought salad to go with it. It was so good it was hard to stop eating it to be ready for cake and ice cream. While we were eating, the BCS National Championship was starting, so we watched the beginning of Alabama beating Notre Dame to win their 15th title (2nd in a row). Folks here are ecstatic. Even though Dad, Ben, and I are definitely UAB fans, I wore my Bama sweatshirt and Dad was dressed in red, with Mom in black and white and AJ's houndstooth dress we intended for her to wear still in her bag. We had fun talking about "our" quarterback, whose name is AJ. We passed around photos of baby Wesley dressed in his Alabama gear, one of which I had to steal from converted AL fan Liz for this post:



We are very pleased that our team won our state some bragging rights for the next year, even if it is a bit ridiculous to put so much emphasis on football programs. Roll Tide, anyway.

In the end, we decorated the cake with 4 candles and sang "Happy Birthday".


It may have been the ugliest birthday cake ever, but it was certainly made with love. (Cake photos courtesy of the birthday Granddaddy.) Happy birthday, Dad!

Thing I love: My cake taker
Why I love it: My grandparents gave it to me, and I like being able to bring cake, however ugly, to family events

Monday, January 7, 2013

Weekend Review: Shop 'Til You Drop

Anna June went a lot of places this weekend, and most of them were retail establishments. I know - a 4-year-old doesn't really love to shop for recreation. But we found ourselves in a variety of suburbs for a variety of reasons.

Friday night - we went to Fultondale. After dinner, we went to Target and Best Buy. AJ spent some of her gift card from her grandparents at Target. She bought herself quite a few things from the Dollar Spot: a flashlight, some baker's twine (similar to this, but with a metallic thread in it), a sponge paint roller, an ink pad. We looked through the toys, and we were in disbelief that toys exist that she does not already own. AJ made an important discovery: the really cool toys were really expensive. She asked me how much a doll was. "Twenty-one dollars," I said. "Oh," she said, putting it back on the shelf, "I'm not getting anything with a 20 in it." She had the room on the gift card, but she has inherited her father's thriftiness.

She picked out a Play-Doh Sweet Shoppe Perfect Pop Maker which was on clearance. Until she figured out how to use it, it was pretty disappointing, but I think she has the hang of it now, making play-doh lollipops and popsicles.

The major purchase was a Hello Kitty sleeping bag. This inspired AJ to have a sleepover Friday night with Radar, with AJ putting her sleeping bag on the sofa. They watched Cinderella and stayed up way too late.



Saturday - We slept in, dealing with the aftermath of the "slumber party". After breakfast, we headed to Trussville, where we all had our hair cut.

Here's AJ's before shot:
The picture does not do justice to how long her bangs were. They were in her eyes to the point where she was injuring herself running into things and begging to get them cut.

Here's the after shot:
It was much shorter, but again - the photo doesn't do it justice. Her hair had several days of being pulled straight by ponytails and such, and we didn't wash it for a while, so it wasn't showing off the curls. It really looks better than this, I promise.


After hair cuts, we went home to take a nap because of the major meltdown AJ had when we were headed to get sandwiches. She napped in her sleeping bag after some leftover pizza at home. Later, we shopped some more, and ended up at Wal-Mart for our groceries. I made "easy chili" which was expedient, but not as good as my regular chili. We watched the Packers' playoff game - it was very hard to get AJ to go to sleep in the middle of our excitement.



Sunday - We did something unusual - we skipped church. We weren't sick. We weren't out of town. We didn't have company. We just didn't go. My to-do list had been lengthened due to all that time spent shopping and instead of freaking out completely, I made a list on AJ's whiteboard easel and, through teamwork, we all accomplished a lot and managed to have a little fun.

First, we dropped off our old tv with my brother and then we went out to lunch. After lunch, we headed to Hoover to visit the Galleria. Ben alerted me to the fact that the Galleria's carousel would be taken down for a few months, and we still had a couple of carousel tokens sitting around, so we should take the opportunity to use them up. And do more shopping, of course.

The carousel:



AJ rode the carousel, then wanted to ride the train, a little car thing that goes around the mall. Here she is on the train.





You can see her hair much better here. And yes, that is baker's twine around her neck. She thought it was pretty and would make a good necklace. 


After that, she rode the carousel again. And we bought a balloon animal.

She was very excited. We almost lost her coat, but a kind soul hung it up at the "train station" and we found it again.

We returned home and AJ helped Ben walk Radar while I went with my Aunt Connie to the final day of the Norman Rockwell exhibit. It was very crowded, but we enjoyed it - for free, since I had won tickets from their facebook page. It was a great exhibit, including all of Rockwell's Saturday Evening Post covers. His paintings were extraordinarily detailed. His America may never have truly existed for most of us, but the decades he spent chronicling it were some of the most interesting in human history.

We Skyped, we went to the library, we ate at Rusty's, we baked a cake for my dad's birthday. We had a busy little weekend! Now we're all set to have a great week.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Introducing...

Anna June was delighted to welcome her baby cousin, Wesley Patrick Tucker, to the world yesterday.





The gorgeous newborn made his debut at 4:26 PM, and weighed 8 pounds, 10 ounces, and was 20.5 inches long.

He is perfect in every way, from his dark hair to his long toes. We are in love.

We were so excited to hear the news, as soon as we got home. We took Radar out, let AJ change clothes and re-do her hair, and then we hopped in the car, headed to grab dinner and then stop by the hospital. But as we passed Nana and Granddaddy's street, we saw Granddaddy's truck pull right behind us.

We called Granddaddy to confirm that he, too, was on the way to the hospital and since he said yes, AJ asked if we could change our plans and go to the hospital first, too. So we did. 

When we got there, Wesley's Granny and Nana were still waiting to see him. We heard he had been assessed and nursed, but they were still waiting to bathe him, so it would be a few minutes. We decided to go ahead and eat and then bring back food for anyone else there who was hungry and didn't want hospital food.

We had a quick dinner at Jimmy John's and then called to check. The new mom and dad wanted Chick-fil-A, so we ran over to 5 Points to get some dinner for them. When we got back, Rusty and Beth, Jack and Jill, and my dad had already come and gone. Wesley was being bathed. AJ, Ben and I felt so lucky to be there for his very first bath! He was so good! He didn't like being cold too much, so he spent the rest of our visit under a heat lamp to get his temp up a little.

Mama, daddy, and especially baby are all doing great.


On the way home, AJ kept talking about how exciting it was to see him. She loves him already.

The funniest moment was at home, when AJ asked me what "nursing" meant. I reminded her that we had talked about breastfeeding before. She said, "Oh, I thought it was called bra-feeding."

We all can't wait to hold him!

Photo by proud Uncle Ben. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Thinking Thursday

Anna June's brain is on fire. Sometimes I wonder if I am ever going to be able to keep up with her. She's always thinking, thinking, thinking. She's learning everything, good, bad, and otherwise.

Last night she astounded us by her (almost) correct use of the word "territorial," which she learned from the PBS Kids Go! show Wild Kratts. I have to say that I'm not a huge fan of the show - it's about two brothers who are the heirs apparent to the Crocodile Hunter - they are animal experts. Then, the show morphs from live action into cartoons, where the cartoon brothers Kratt have wild adventures under the sea, in the jungle, or where ever. Their ridiculous adventures come to a close, and then we're back to a live-action educational sequence. I don't know if it's the subject matter (animals) or the animation style or what, but I am turned off of this show. AJ loves it, though. I guess if she's learning, I should let her indulge a little, right?

Besides her burgeoning vocabulary, AJ has really been taking off in the artwork department. She got a calendar of activities to do at home during Christmas break from Mrs. Smith, her after-school care teacher. We didn't really look at it, until I needed some space on the fridge this weekend. I showed it to her, and she wanted to do almost all of the activities in order to cross them off the calendar. It featured seasonally-appropriate tasks such as "draw a picture of an evergreen tree," and "draw a picture of a burning candle." She made about 10 large-format drawings according to these directions. You could really tell that her snowman was a snowman, and her bare winter tree was a tree. Unfortunately, I didn't keep any of these big drawings, because I had an idea: since we were headed to church on Sunday morning, why not use this work to spread some holiday-time joy amongst our congregation. So AJ passed out all her drawings to our (mostly elderly) congregation, giving basically one to each family present. It was so sweet. Now many homes have refrigerator-worthy art from our little one.

Speaking of little ones, as we await the arrival of our nephew and AJ's cousin, AJ even made some artwork for the baby! She's as thoughtful as she is smart.

She's also extremely silly! She has been pretending to be a dog, Marigol (Marigold without the "d"). She begs to go outside, eats snacks from the floor and barks. Good grief.

Per the suggestion at The Writeous Babe Project, I'm considering a blogging calendar. My sketch is:
Monday - Weekend Review
Tuesday - Things Tuesday: reviews and descriptions of all our fabulous stuff that we use and love
Wednesday - Works of Art Wednesday: Featuring the latest and greatest from our artist
Thursday - Thinking Thursday: discussion of AJ's development, with some analysis of hopes and dreams
Friday - Photo Friday: perhaps if I have a designated day of the week, I will get around to uploading and sharing more photos.

I don't know if I can stick to this, so it's subject to change - especially for breaking news - but I think it may be good to have a goal.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Mamacita's Little Project


Anna June has been taking Spanish lessons this past semester, and sometimes, I think they've paid off. Other times, not so much. Just this morning, AJ was telling me about one of the Spanish-speaking kids in her class whose only friend is another Spanish-speaking kid. I told her that she should at least tell him, "Hola" this morning and see if that helps. "You know, since you've learned to say 'hola' in Spanish class," I prodded. She said that, no, she knew hola from Dora. Good grief.

Anyway, over the break AJ and I did a project together that I think turned out pretty well. We archived some greeting cards from her birthday, my birthday, and Christmas. Actually, we did Christmas 2010, 2011, and 2012. Each of these occasions had tons of cards that were sitting around the house in little piles. I wanted to keep them because they were so sweet but I had no clue what I wanted to do with them. A few months ago via Pinterest, I saw this project, and I decided that's what I wanted to do. So now, we have 5 books, which aren't as perfect as the ones I saw online, but they'll do and they can now stand up on my bookshelf for our perusal any time we need a pick-me-up. We actually had so many Christmas cards that they wouldn't fit comfortably in the 1" binder rings I bought, so I also made 3 other Christmas rings from each of the years from the flat photo cards like the one featured towards the bottom of this exuberant post. Doing that part made me sad that we didn't do a photo card this year, but not THAT sad. We had no time, and the school did such great holiday photos.

When I made my birthday card book, I included AJ's card to me, but I didn't include the envelope it came in, pictured above.

As you can see, her handwriting is becoming more legible. I have no idea why she wrote "Mamacita" at the top, unless she actually learned something in Spanish Club!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Ask the Expert

Anna June is having fun this New Year's Day. She stopped in the office while I was at the computer, and I asked her what I should blog about today.

She responded by acting like a dog.

She jumped up in my lap and I petted her.

I hope your 2013 is full of fun moments.