Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Weekend Review: Party Down

Anna June had a great weekend. We attended Teygan's birthday party on Saturday (with a Brave theme) and then Dorothy's birthday party at iJump Crestwood on Sunday. It was fun. We're still exhausted.

There may be pictures somewhere. I'll have to check.

This morning, AJ asked if we could just stay home all day. I have to admit - I was tempted. The weather is beautiful - not a cloud in the sky, with a high of around 82. I just looked at my calendar and I don't see a day in the near future where we could just stay home all day. I will keep looking. It sounds delightful.

Work is crazy for me right now. Ben is beginning his Master's in Information Security program from Western Governor's University effective tomorrow, so home is going to be a big adjustment, as well. He's been starting with studying, so we've been finding ways to stay out of his hair. It's going to be an interesting couple of years.

AJ's school is really busy, too, getting ready for the end of the year in just a few weeks. May 24 is their last day of Pre-K. Before then, there's a zoo field trip, field day, PTA meeting, teacher's appreciation week, a talent show, an end of the year "awards" (graduation) program, and more.

However, here are some things we're looking forward to - summer!

1. Beach trip to the Gulf coast. Dates and locations haven't been nailed down yet, but it will happen.
2. New floors in our den and hallway.
3. Trip to Milwaukee during the Wisconsin State Fair
4. Visiting a friend at the lake. We've been listening to this song at Zumba, and I keep dreaming about this.
5. Radar's birthday, of course.
6. Eight weeks at day camp at the UAB Rec Center
7. Summer reading at our library. This year, AJ will get to read the books herself!
8. Our 11th anniversary
9.Continuing on our quest to be healthier.
10. Not wearing uniforms!

The honeysuckle bloomed in our yard this morning. I made sure to take a deep breath. It will be gone before we know it, just like each season.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Arts Night

Anna June's school held Arts Night on Thursday, and the theme was "Celebrating America Through the Arts." The kids wore red, white and blue. They sang patriotic songs, recited poems, and performed dances. It was a lovely program.

Afterwards, I tried to get a picture of AJ and her friend Erica, who was also in a sailor dress. AJ didn't cooperate, and we got these faces.

I guess I shouldn't try when she's hot, tired and hungry, but I couldn't resist.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Friday Photos: Easter

Anna June's Uncle Patrick has a good camera and knows how to use it. We prevailed upon him at Easter to take a few shots of our family (well, hundreds) and these are a few of my favorites.

Thank you, Patrick! PS - You have a pretty good looking baby.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Works of Art Wednesday: Valentine

This is the Valentine Anna June gave us this year. I still love it.

Putting it Out There

Note: This post is not about Anna June, so if you're just here for AJ, please skip it. Also, it contains a lot of personal information about myself. I'm putting it out there so the community can know exactly what I am up against. I am inspired by Sherri Walters, who wrote a similar post about herself. I am inspired by Jennifer Dome, who writes regularly and Weighs-In on her blog each Wednesday. I am really, really inspired by Jen West and Stephen Vinson, local folks that have made their weight loss journey online and have gained support from followers all over the world. I've been cheerleaders occasionally in comments to them. Now I need cheerleaders of my own.

When I told Anna June about my new weight loss and exercise goals, she said, "Yeah, right." She even laughed at me, because she knows me so well. But I am determined this time, and here is why:

I am on medicines for a bunch of stuff that would likely go away if I lost weight:
1. Cholesterol
3. Allergies (they may not go away, but it would be great if they'd lessen)

I have these minor problems that overweight people have:
1. Backaches
2. Knee pain
3. Fatigue
4. Hemorrhoids (yeah, I said it)
5. Foot pain
6. Insomnia
7. Night sweats
8. Chafing (not cool to have to wear pantyhose in the South)

And then there's this major problem I have that is ruining my life:

While the doctor concluded I don't have sleep apnea, I snore like a freight train. Between that and the sweating, I am waking myself up. Which makes me tired. Which makes me not want to exercise or eat right. Which makes me tired. (You get the idea - it's a terrible cycle.)

I'm pretty much on the fast track to diabetes. Both of my grandmothers suffered from it. Grandma Annette died from congestive heart failure and Grandma Hazel is currently in the hospital with crazy blood pressure and a probable light stroke. I have a feeling their diabetes played a huge part in these things. I don't want AJ's kids to have to come visit me in the hospital one day. Heck, I want to live to see if AJ even has any kids.

This morning, I weighed 177.8 pounds on our digital scale. I am 5'2" tall, which means I should weigh between 104 and 130. A couple of years ago I lost 14 pounds. The fact that I've gained back double that amount is scary and sad. My doctor once offered to attend Weight Watchers with me - I told her that I needed to spend the hour working out instead of sitting in a meeting. I already know what I should do. I've been on an antidepressant that has worked, but worked too well - I am not really depressed, but I've gained weight, which makes me depressed. I could not make myself care about diet and exercise. In that respect, it's not working. We've gotta work on that.

My clothes don't fit. I'm exhausted. Ben can't sleep - he wants to defenestrate me. I'm not "there" for AJ always...last night I fell asleep on the sofa before 8 PM. Not cool.

A lady in my Zumba class lost 62 pounds in the span of 1 year. She did it with the goal of being healthier. She exercised a lot (Zumba, boot camp, treadmill) and ate healthier. She involved her family. She prayed. She got encouragement from her workout instructors and friends.She looks fabulous and feels great.

If she can do it, I can, too.

I want to lose one pound a week for a year. That would be 52 pounds, which would bring me to an ideal weight of 125 pounds. This is an attainable goal, which will require a lot of willpower, dedication, time, and money.

My plan includes:
1. Eating more meals at home, where I can plan, measure, and reduce temptation.
2. Eating fewer sweets. My Oreo addiction has got to go.
3. Recording everything I eat on My Fitness Pal.
4. Working out most days. One day a week is not going to cut it.
5. Rewards! For every 10 pounds lost, I will get myself a massage.
6. Encouragement from my family, friends, readers, bloggers, Zumba friends, work colleagues and more

I want to report back to you all on next April 24 that I am svelte and healthy. I have money in a savings account that I can spend on a new wardrobe when I reach my goal...that should be encouragement to maintain the goal weight! My heart wasn't meant to carry around a size 14 body. I need to be about an 8.

I see my doctor in about a month. I want to lose a little weight so I'm at least back to what I was the last time I saw her. Her encouragement is key for me, and I don't want to disappoint her. I will be checking with her about adjusting my medicine.

I thank you in advance for your encouragement, prayers, and checking in with me. I had a bowl of fruit for breakfast - it was delicious. I need to make this happen for myself. I hope you understand.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tuesday Things: Crestwood Park

I know I have mentioned this before, but Anna June loves Crestwood Park. It was closed several months for renovation and we have been huge fans since the reopening.

On Monday, when school let out early for a half day "spring holiday" we visited the park. AJ played and climbed while I ate lunch and chatted with other Avondale parents who all had the same idea. It was a fun little Earth Day celebration. AJ climbed all the way across the rings (all 7 of them!) and enjoyed twirling and running. The weather was perfect.

Monday, April 22, 2013


Anna June is obsessed with monkey bars. On Saturday, we visited Maddie's house and discovered that AJ was brave enough and strong enough to cross the play structure on her own power. She played for about an hour. She didn't even want to come inside when it was time to play dress-up. She wanted to keep climbing.

Sunday plans included another play date, this time at Triangle Park. She went to bed and woke up talking about whether or not that particular park had adequate climbing equipment - she could not wait to be back on the monkey bars!

It turns out the park does have bars, but they are not stationary. One can swing more like an actual monkey. AJ and another kid her size at the park agreed that they much preferred rife bars at a respective schools that stay still. These were a bit too scary.

I'm thrilled she's developing her upper body strength, enjoying the outdoors during this stretch of nice weather, and building confidence from her physical achievements.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


Anna June is fine. This week has been insane. I was so stressed yesterday that I developed a twitch: not a good look.

Anyway, here are some things:

AJ has learned to operate ponytail holders. This resulted in her leaving for school with about five in her hair at once. Later in the week, I tried to help her with her hair, which resulted in tears. Therefore, she can look like a clown if she wants.

The weather here went from a high of 85 to a high of 58. Wearing long sleeves/jackets again resulted in much whining, and not just from AJ.

I dumped all 700 plus pictures from my iPhone onto my computer, with Ben's help. I'll be working on sorting them into folders and posting them into our web albums soon. Sorry for the delay.

My Grandma Hazel was hospitalized due to what appears to be a light stroke. She is doing well and is home now - she'll have some folks coming to the house to help her.

I went to a PTA meeting that featured Stephen Cockrell from The Woodlawn Foundation. The foundation seeks to improve our area by developing mixed income housing, attracting business, improving access to services, and (most importantly) education. They are planning an early child care center for low-income families, and are now working with the Birmingham City Schools to implement a pipeline of students ready for college through innovative learning techniques at Avondale, Oliver, Hayes, Putnam and Woodlawn schools. They will focus on science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM). If this comes to be, AJ will be very excited, I can just bet.

For example, on the way to school this week she asked a dozen questions about ants: what colors do they come in? What do they eat? How do they bite you? Which ones are fire ants? Etc. I had no answers, but told her teacher she was interested and then they discussed bugs in class. Cool, right?

Another exciting school thing is that Pre-K got to check out books from the school library this week. After signing permission forms months ago, I had almost given up on this happening. AJ picked "Just Me And My Dad" by Mercer Mayer. She sat right down at the kitchen table and read it to her dad. He kept stopping to comment on how she's "really reading!" It was an exciting moment.

And speaking of the library, my mom took AJ to the public library on Monday afternoon at my request. (Tumblebus is over, but library time may be equally fun... at least for Nana) They loaded up on science books, as I want to give her knowledge when she asks me all these great questions, like "What is steam?" So we've been reading about water, measuring, plants and more, stopping frequently for more questions.

I am hoping getting back to the library more will encourage AJ to read more and better, although she's doing fine in that area. I even had AJ read me bedtime stories. She chose her sight word readers because she knows all the words. She still prefers easy to hard. Don't we all?

Last night instead of pizza and a movie, we did Mexican and a movie. At El Cazador, AJ burned herself on the "HOT Plate!" the waiter warned us about. I had to take her outside to calm her down. That hasn't happened in maybe years. We watched The Borrowers, which AJ liked. I fell asleep in her bed while reading to her, which happens frequently. Sometimes I am reading words but drift off while talking. I sleep read the same book twice recently...I never did find out what became of Ned the Donkey!

Last weekend, we attended the Tempo festival, which benefited Childcare Resources and was focused on healthy family fun, including bike riding. There was a real bike race, and the streets were closed off when we arrived. We parked near a construction zone, which AJ crossed carefully on the way in, but on the way out (down a ramp) she had her first official bike wreck into the large gravel. She was very brave and the leg is healing nicely.

Now that it is the weekend again, it is time to continue decompressing, and run off to play dates and laundry, date night and errands. Catch you later, readers!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Works of Art Wednesday: Note

Anna June spent some time with her letter stickers (thanks Granny!) and came up with this fancy little note for me:

The gold letters won't scan gold, but you get the idea. She's really getting good at her independent projects.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


We're not discussing the horrors in Boston with Anna June. We're not watching tv coverage of the bombing while she's awake. When AJ visited my parents after school yesterday, they didn't, either.

For a few hours, we did not know if our sweet high school History teacher, Mrs. Franklin, was ok. We knew from social media she was running the Boston marathon. Someone mentioned they had info that she'd been on pace to finish around 3pm, about 10 minutes after the bomb went off. That was too close for me, and my stomach was in knots until finally, al.com reported her as safe.

We can't shield AJ from everything. She is so inquisitive right now - we're asked what things mean and how things work dozens of times a day. What she learns about the world is, in part, shaped by us, and we take that responsibility seriously.

At home, I fixed some quesadillas (thanks for the salsa, Mom!) AJ ran in to give me a picture she drew with the caption "I love you Mom." I lit a candle as I set the table. I poured a glass of wine, using the "good" crystal. AJ asked if there was a special occasion. I told her that every day we can come home and eat dinner together is a special occasion.

At work, someone asked rhetorically, "What kind of world are we leaving to our kids?" My answer is, "The one we make."

Monday, April 15, 2013


Anna June is learning to read.

This morning, I walked her into her classroom, where her assignment was to copy three sentences onto a blank piece of paper.

She read them aloud:

1. The sun is hot.
2. Frogs love to jump.
3. Did you see the big spider?

I am here to tell you, as a proud mama, that she read them all quite well. Mrs. D. did not act surprised.

I gave her a high-five and went on to work with a big smile on my face.

(I have lots more to blog from this past week when I've been missing in action, but I have a lot happening today, so bear with me, please.)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Weekend Review: Rockin

Anna June had a mostly rocking weekend.

On Friday night, she made up songs while Ben and I tackled a pile of dishes. If I am not mistaken, one of her lyrics was "We don't wanna go/to Taziki's/because they don't have frozen toes!" We went to Pizza Hut to spend her Book It! coupon. When she asked if she could get a final refill of Sierra Mist, she said, "Can I have one for the road?" So cute. We came home and watched Enchanted, finally, since she asked for a "good and scary" film. Afterwards, she decided it wasn't scary at all. We both loved it. Thanks again, Michele! The gift that keeps on giving! 

Saturday was beautiful weather and we headed to eat breakfast on a patio, but as our local fave Big Blue Bagel is temporarily closed (the sign says it will open under new management), we ended up at McDonald's. We then went home to tackle our office, our home's catch-all room, and also a dungeon of sorts. I tried calling it an "office party" to make it more fun. AJ saw through my ruse, stating that if we weren't having guests it wasn't really a party. I told her there would be music and food, so after a while, she started asking me where the food was. I delegated that responsibility to her, as she had bailed on her shredding responsibilities - I designated her chief shredder but she quickly got bored. 

She took her party hostess duties seriously. She got out plates and bowls, and filled the bowls with snack food. We had fruit salad, raisins, peanuts, cashews, and oyster crackers. It was a nice break, and it was so sweet knowing she did it all herself and from the heart.

On Sunday, AJ and I went to Junior Achievement's Hot Biz in the City Pop-Up Bazaar at Railroad Park. I went a little nuts, buying a ton of stuff (for myself), but it was retail therapy, time with AJ, time in the sunshine, and supporting local micro and small businesses in the area. One artist even told me my purchase put her from "breaking even" into "officially profitable" for the day. She gave me a discount. It warmed my heart. And I've gotten at least 3 compliments on my top I bought from some stylish ladies. Win, win, win! 

Other highlights included watching the Brewers' game and shopping at the Outlet Shops of Grand River, but those are the highlights. 

I hope you have a great week.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Friday Photo: Cookie People

Anna June was lucky enough to get one of these gingerbread people.

Can you guess how many there are? 230.

230 is the number of people helped by the UAB Benevolent Fund's Employee Emergency Assistance Program last year. It was a dramatic increase over previous years, so we decided to celebrate with some cookies from Mix bakery downtown at our kickoff event, featuring 15 local agencies that benefit directly from our donations.

It was definitely worth celebrating.

We're in the midst of our annual Benevolent Fund campaign, so my brain may be clouded and my posts may not be regular. I'm charged with convincing all 200+ employees in our division to donate to the cause this year.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Thinking Thursday: Best Report Card Yet

On Monday, Anna June got her third report card. It seems that she's made a lot of progress, and achieved nearly every goal. All but one, in fact. She hasn't mastered cause and effect, according to this report, but aside from that, she's achieved all the benchmarks Birmingham thinks she needs to know in PreK.

I am sure there will be some kind of end-of-the-year report, and probably one more mid-term progress report, but aside from that, this is the last one. Strange to think - it feels like we just started on this adventure.

I am so proud of my girl!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Works of Art Wednesday: Giant Doodle

Anna June gave me this giant doodle of hers. It looks like she started writing something at the top "i see a b" but then stopped and decided to just doodle.

She also sent me a gift in an envelope.
and decorated the back with a sticker

Inside was a heart she cut free handed.
I don't know when she'll grow out of making me pictures and gifts, but I hope it is not soon.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tuesday Things: April Fool's!

Anna June loves jokes and tricks, so April Fool's Day is a great day for her. She loves laughing. I'm counting it as my Tuesday review.

I tried to fool her with a trick Uncle Tim played on us when we were kids. "Get up," I told her. "It snowed last night!"

She didn't believe me for a second. "It hasn't been cold enough to snow!"

She looked anyway, and I hollered "April Fool's!" She insisted that she never believed me, and, well, I believe her. She's too smart for her own good.

We did think up a plan to trick her teacher. AJ had a homework assignment of a Spring Break journal (6 days where the kids would write and illustrate a sentence or two about what they'd been doing), and, because she had been out sick, there were some worksheets she needed to complete. So there was, actually, a lot of homework she had to do.

AJ came into the classroom and gave Mrs. D a hug, but said, "I didn't do my homework."

Mrs. D. didn't believe her for a second. "Yes you did," she said. For better or worse, my kid has already gotten a reputation as a good student!

"April Fool's!" AJ said. They both got a big laugh.

I guess I'll have to work on my game plan better for age 6...my plans for age 5 fell through because she's too advanced!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Weekend Review: Easter

Anna June had a great weekend. Here are some highlights:

Friday night, we watched Shrek. AJ has seen another of the Shrek films, but not the original. It was great, and she really loved it. I had forgotten how funny it actually is, all while teaching the lesson that you should be yourself.

One of my favorite scenes from the movie is when Donkey is talking to Shrek, trying to find common ground between the two of them. Donkey says, "You know what ELSE everybody likes? Parfaits! Have you ever met a person, you say, 'Let's get some parfait,' they say, 'Hell no, I don't like no parfait' Parfaits are delicious"

(Yeah, I let AJ watch a movie that has mild swearing. I stand by my decision - the movie is too funny to skip.)

Needless to say, Saturday saw us in Dairy Queen, getting parfaits. 
I told AJ that "parfait" means "perfect" in French. Ben asked her how her parfait was, and she said, "Parfait!"

After that, we went home and got ready for the Birmingham Dance Walk at Avondale Park. I had fun dance walking, and I can't wait for the next one. I got to meet Virginia Jones in person, and saw some of my other blogging pals. This walk was cut a little short by the drops of rain and the eager kids with baskets. This time, the dance walk was followed by an Easter Egg Hunt. The trouble was, though, that there were only 144 eggs hidden and about a zillion kids (seriously, there were at least 50). AJ and I found one egg, and then afterwards, an older kid gave her one. She was very appreciative.

We were joined at the walk and hunt by some friends, and we went over to the playground for a play date until it started raining in earnest. AJ was lucky enough to play with 2 other almost five-year-olds, and she ran into a couple of her friends from school. This is why I love sending her to our neighborhood school...she ends up knowing more people in the neighborhood!

I spent the afternoon resting, while AJ continued to do random chores around the house. She cleaned the windows and my bathroom sink, but I stopped her before she mopped the kitchen. She laid down with me to watch the second half of the Marquette-Syracuse game, which Marquette unfortunately lost. I explained a few things about basketball to her, like points and free throws, but then I went to the more tangible territory - uniforms. I explained to her that each player had a number and his name on the back of the jersey. She said, "It looks like that one says 'Fair'" And you know what? It did. That girl is learning to read, y'all!

Saturday night, AJ visited her grandparents while we went on a date to Sushi Village and did a little bit of shopping. Ben had a couple of home projects he needed to complete: blinds repair, patching, sanding and painting some holes in the bathroom and AJ's room, and hanging AJ's new curtains. I have to say that I enjoyed our trip to Dollar Tree and Home Depot considerably more after a White Thai beer. I have no idea what that says about me, but it is true.

Sunday morning, AJ's alarm went off early, so she could be sure to check out the basket from the Easter Bunny and be on time for Sunrise Service, which, as she pointed out, is the best part of Easter. She was delighted by the contents of her basket, which included a ridiculous amount of candy, new dry erase markers, a Princess nightgown (featuring a sleep mask) and a couple of Cabbage Patch Kids mini dolls. Church went well, with the weather cooperating and the delicious breakfast afterward.

We had some time, so I rested, then got AJ ready in her gold and ivory outfit. She was truly sparkling, down to her coordinating ivory tights and gold shoes, gold hair bow, and gold glitter nail polish. She had fun showing off to everyone at church.

We came home after the service so I could make broccoli salad in time for lunch at my family's Easter get-together. Fortunately, we made it in plenty of time. All the food was delicious: we had ham, turkey, and brisket, and that was just the meats! I also made "Mom's Any-Time Snack Mix", which everyone enjoyed. (How can one not enjoy something that calls for 2 sticks of butter?)

AJ had fun visiting with everyone, especially her baby cousin Wesley. I insisted that we get pictures of the two of them. I got some grumbles, but I am glad we made them do it. One day, we will be glad we have them.

Here's hoping we recover from all the fun and get back in the swing of things this week.