Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Anna June went to visit our friends while we were all at the beach. Unfortunately, the other girls were worn out by the time we got there, and AJ was left to play with the grown ups by herself. She was very brave, and our friend Jeremy took some fabulous pictures of her. These are my favorites.

Beach Baby

Anna June is ready to go down to the beach

Friday, May 24, 2013


Here is Anna June's class at their graduation program singing/chanting one of their favorites. So cute.

Avondale Pre-K Graduation Ceremony Song Clip from SRG on Vimeo.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Thinking Thursday: Penultimate

We woke Anna June up this morning and taught her the word "penultimate" since today was the next-to-last day of school. She left in a good mood and by all accounts had a good day.

Mrs. D. made goodie bags for the kids. She included some classroom supplies - she'll get all new stuff next year. So AJ got some miscellaneous crayons, markers, and pencils. Unfortunately, one pencil was so sharp it stabbed through AJ's book bag and punctured her leg a little. Luckily, I had a band-aid in my car. 

In wrapping up the year, we've gotten to see some collections of AJ's school work. You can really tell as time went on how she improved. She likes to write and read now. 

The PTA is considering having yard signs made as an awareness campaign for our school. I mentioned this to AJ -and she said the signs should say, "Avondale School teaches you to write and read." It was her opinion that every parent in the area would want their kids to come to our neighborhood school then.
We're looking forward to a lot of fun things this summer - at least 2 and maybe three or four trips. Day camp. Vacation Bible School. A whole bucket list of local summer things: splash pads, swimming, movies, play dates. But looking back over the school year, we can see how much fun she's had, and how much physical and emotional growth has gone on. We have formed friendships with the other parents and we will definitely have to see some of these kids over the summer. 

I really enjoyed our first year in public school. I still think we're really living our values - we believe that we can help build our school into a better place, and we believe in the teachers and staff there. We trust our only child and her education there because it is a great place. And we love going to the local park, supermarket,  fair or party and seeing kids we helps so much for AJ to be able to just walk up and play with a friend on the monkey bars instead of random introductions.

AJ is doing well - she's healthy, and reading and writing like a kindergartner (at least). Most of the time (when it's not bedtime), she's happy. We can't wait to see what she'll do next.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Anna June's school had their Pre-K end-of-the-year program today. Just like in a "real" graduation, the children each walked across the stage to get their certificate.
Unfortunately, a memo went home about not blocking the view of the other parents with the pictures and the video, so I didn't.

I did notice that AJ and her friend Madison wore nearly identical dresses. AJ accessorized with a white headband, while Madison's bow was purple. And Madison's dress had a floral accent on the front and was longer, while AJ, wearing last year's model (gasp!) had a higher hemline. Madison also had a beautiful slip underneath, which enhanced the neckline, while AJ went more traditional. Who wore it best? Both!

Happy graduation!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Weekend Review: Resting

Anna June didn't really want it, but we had a pretty low-key weekend for us. Ben and I are trying to rest and get rid of our colds once and for all before our family excursion next weekend to the beach.

Friday night, we did go out and meet up with some friends for dinner. Then we went home and watched Snow White. Actually, AJ watched Snow White and I fell asleep. Luckily, I have seen it before. I woke up in time for AJ to jump up and down when the prince kissed Snow White. We still think it's creepy that some guy would kiss a corpse, but, hey, happy ending.

Saturday, we stayed in and did laundry and cleaned our bathrooms. We went out to lunch and did some shopping, then we went home and I napped. We then went out and did more shopping and came home and went to bed after AJ did her own pedicure (I did her fingernails), and she called her imaginary friends on the phone to invite them to a party on Thursday after school. Evidently, they're all bringing Crunchberry cereal. 

Sunday, AJ and I made an attempt to forge a path through her room. Then we went to church, we all went to eat Chinese food and, you guessed it, more shopping.

These were our fortunes: top to bottom, AJ's, Ben's, mine. Looks like we'd better keep doing what we're doing.

Then we came home and I napped. Ben and AJ took advantage of the beautiful day and played baseball in the backyard. She's getting better and better each time. Our friend came over to do some preventive maintenance on our air conditioner, and then I took AJ to sign up for the summer reading program at the library. (Side note: I signed her up as an "independent reader" this time, so she'll have to read to me!) She then went to visit my parents - she made them peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner - and Ben and I had date night at home watching a movie.

I know it sounds boring, since we're used to going to fun events, festivals and parties all weekend, but it was truly delightful to not have a deadline and to be able to run errands without rushing, knowing we could leave as soon as our runny noses dictated. We'll catch Do Dah Day next year - AJ wants to dress Radar up as Batman.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Best Day

Anna June painted her own toenails tonight. She declared this to be, "The best day of my life." She was eager to prove that she could do it. "Pretty good for a five-year-old, huh?" She asked her dad. Barbie blue nail polish was a gift from Aunt Beth. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Where I've Been

I don't know if you can tell, but this is AJ's rendering of a building at UAB. Besides dealing with a cold, this is pretty much where I've been (mentally, if not physically) all week.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Weekend Review: Mother's Day

Anna June worked hard to give me a good Mother's Day weekend. Here's the rundown:

Friday - I got off early to take AJ to her friend Ava's birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese after a quick errand to our local neighborhood store, Freshfully. AJ had a blast at the party playing with her friends, and got lucky on one of the games and won 75 tickets at once! She ended up with a ring, a fake bug, some Twizzlers, and a rocket before we left.

Ben stayed home and rested - he took a sick day with his terrible cold. I was supposed to go out to another party after putting AJ to bed, but her exhausted crying didn't make me feel good about leaving her with my sick husband, so I skipped it.

Saturday - We met our friend Meg at Crestwood Park for a walk. AJ decided that she'd rather jog than walk. If she counted her laps correctly, she ran 8 laps, which is two miles! She took appropriate breaks, but still, we were impressed. We started discussions about her running in the Mercedes Kids Marathon next year. (Don't worry, it's not all 26.1 miles at once.) She says she wants to do it, but we'll see later on.

Then we went to Trussville to get AJ's hair cut. I told Cindy it just couldn't be too short. I think it looks adorable - almost a curly pageboy. AJ doesn't like it, but, well, I just couldn't take the sheep dog look one more day. I enjoy seeing my child's eyes again.

We went out for lunch with Ben, and then returned him home to rest. In fact, I took a nap while AJ watched TV. Then we went to the carnival. Instead of our limited time there last year, we took advantage of the all-you-can-ride wristbands and rode every single ride we were allowed to - there were 3 that AJ wasn't big enough to ride, even with an adult. We had a great time, and stayed over 2.5 hours!

We were hot and tired, so we picked Ben up and went to Sonic for slushes. It was a good decision!

Later, we went to my friend Tammy's house to welcome our friend Shelley's new husband to North America. Born in Costa Rica, Jorge Gonzalez is now living in Huntsville with his new bride. We were excited to meet him. We were asked to bring him a welcome gift that was "made in the USA" so we got him some Grapico, peanuts and strawberries. Ben and I also made him a CD of songs by Americans or at least about Americans, including an obnoxiously long live version of Alabama's "My Home's in Alabama." He's gotta get to know our culture some way, right? The CD cover had pictures of Shelley and me from high school - my dearest friends were all together in one place again, and we took some pictures, including ones where we were standing in the same order as our Roundtable Feast picture. Someone pointed out that we were 18 in that picture, and it had been 18 years since then. Double our age! Whoa! AJ enjoyed playing with the other kids there and I enjoyed visiting and eating a bunch of things that were not on my diet.

Sunday - Mother's Day! Anna June and Ben had already given me a preview of the way I'd be spoiled. AJ gave me a flower pen in its own pot, decorated with her thumb prints, and a handmade card. Ben had given me a dozen pink roses (he had to go 5 places to find decent ones). On Sunday morning, AJ woke me with a beautiful sterling silver "Mom" charm bracelet. Ben gave me the Zumba Rush for XBox Kinect. I can't wait to do these workouts! Then they let me stay in bed while they made cinnamon rolls, bacon and fruit salad for breakfast. After church, we went to Rusty's for lunch, where I enjoyed a special Mother's Day lunch from Rusty and Beth. Then we went home for a nap - so nice (even though AJ didn't nap). AJ and I took Radar to Vulcan Trail for a walk, even though AJ wanted to go somewhere else. We walked a little while, ran an errand, and came home to a resting (still recovering) Ben. We Skyped with Grandpa and Grammy, and then went to my parents house where I got to see my mom, grandmother, and Liz, the other mamas in my family, as well as Aunt Vicki, visiting from Florida. We had fun playing with the baby and looking at old pictures. We also left with an assignment to come to Florida to give some technical support on Uncle Dennis' computer and Aunt Vicki's Kindle. Ben can't even get a break on vacation!

We're exhausted but we had a good weekend.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Thinking Thursday: Following Your Passion

Anna June is interested in many things. She's good at climbing and athletics, she loves to do worksheets and practice her skills, she likes to cook and eat new things, she likes to make up stories and songs. She's inquisitive, and asks me the tough questions like, "Why don't we have a bigger house?"

This morning she made up a joke.

Knock knock.
Who's there?
Banana who?
Banana let us in it's cold outside.

She's doesn't quite get it. But that's OK. She's five.

I forget she's five. Sometimes I'm even annoyed that she's five. She hits some of the marks I think she should hit and misses some, too. Being able to get dressed in the morning is one of my big things with her right now - I know she's capable, but she's not motivated. At all. Today her class was heading to the zoo. She did decide she had to be there on time (the threat of the bus leaving without her and my not taking her kind of scared her). But she wanted me to help speed her along by telling her each step to do. We do the same seven things every morning. But she just needed me. Today, for the first time all week, I made it to do my hair and makeup before leaving the house. Pitiful, I know, but I spent 3 whole mornings threatening timeouts and picking her up to put her on the potty or putting her shirt on her while she whined and resisted.

All this being said, I know she is growing up too fast. These days will be gone in the blink of an eye, they say. I mean she'll be in kindergarten in a few months and then, before we know it, in middle school. She'll be studying Shakespeare and the quadratic equation. She'll be doing things I never would have dreamed of because they didn't exist when I was a kid.

I saw some students moving out of their dorms on UAB's campus today. I thought,  "That will be AJ very soon." The kid who got on "yellow" this week because she suddenly hated the song her class will sing in the end of the year program. My future self drove past me in a minivan with an Emory tag on the front stuffed with pillows, lamps, clothes and memories of an academic year.

This morning on NPR, I heard this story about a young man who wanted to follow his passion, but he had none in particular, so he asked some economists what he should pursue as his profession. He tried to give them data, but they still didn't have a good answer for him. The positive spin on it was that he could be anything he wanted. My take on it of course, was that, in the negative, if he didn't have a goal, how would he know when he reached it?

The questions posed by the economists to the young man were boiled down to "what is important to you?"

I have no idea what will be important to Anna June. Right now, she's interested in science and engineering, crafts, art, music, dance, and animals. I think she has the makings of a well-rounded individual.

At 35, I'm only starting to know what is important to me. The story made me start to wonder what I would do if I could do anything. Assuming I retire at age 49 from this current job and let someone else take over, what passion will I pursue? Will it be lucrative?

Of course, I will write. That is probably the only thing I have been consistently "passionate" about in my life. I can't stop. The more I write, the more I want to write. I am constantly drafting in my head, even, like now, when I am supposed to be doing other things. I want to write poetry, novels, memoir, stories. All of it. Every day. Nonstop.

But I want to have an office. I like it when people call and ask me things or stop by to check in. I like going out to lunch with people. I like leaving feeling like I did something today, even if it was just show someone where the pencil sharpener was or give directions to a certain building. Maybe I don't like working when there's a deadline. Maybe I just like doing people favors. Can one start a business service called "Favors" and not be mocked? I mean, I could refer people to other people I know. I could give them things they need. I could listen to their problems, which, mostly, is all people want. I could find things or come up with ideas for them to execute if they're stuck on something. I guess I wouldn't even charge for it if they are "favors."

So here's my plan: Retire. Rent office. Go there for a few hours every day to write and read. Then go out to lunch. Experience stuff. Volunteer. Think. Exercise. Focus. Take care of my family. Write some more. Go to bed.

What is your passion? Are you following it? 

I hope AJ grows up to know what hers is, and follows it. And I hope it makes money, too. Our house is too small for her to move back in after college.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Works of Art Wednesday: Give Me a Hand

When Anna June first got her desk, she couldn't be stopped making artwork. She came to me one mornining with this lovely piece.
 The hand print is nice, but the inscription on the back is better.

At the time, she told me she didn't know how to spell "love" so she drew two hands over each other, like the sign for love in sign language.

That girl.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Tuesday Things: Dollar Tree

I took Anna June with me on Sunday to pick up a few things at our local dollar store. Yes, it's a chain, and yes, everything they have is junky, but some of the junk happens to be useful. This time, I bought garlic salt and measuring spoons (after 10 years, the printed measurements had washed off!). I picked up some candy for Ben to enjoy while studying, and AJ got a new chalk holder for her sidewalk art escapades.

We also purchased a box of tissue, as we'd gotten word from her teacher that their room was running out of their supply.

On Monday morning, AJ got the Kleenex out of her backpack and ran around the corner to give it to her teacher. "Thank you! Thank you!" Mrs. D said. She was glad someone remembered her plea. Then, AJ leaned in to her and said, like it was a big secret, "Hey. Dollar Tree."

At five years old, she's already picked up the cultural quirk of sharing where we get our bargains. It's the same reason that I say, "Thanks! It's a hand-me-down." Or, "I think my sister-in-law got this for me at Goodwill!"

At any rate, I'm glad they have more tissues, as AJ's nose has been running and she's probably the reason they ran out in the first place. 

Thing we love: Dollar Tree
Why we love it: For last minute school requests, and various other junk we need.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Weekend Review: Aaargh

Anna June's weekend went by too quickly.
FRIDAY : Pizza and Brave. AJ did get scared during the intense parts. She slept on a pallet on our floor that night.
SATURDAY: Avondale's Pop-up project, sponsored by Rev Birmingham. I dropped AJ off at my parents house when she decided she didn't want to come after all. She enjoyed a home cooked breakfast and watching TV while I enjoyed 30 minutes of Zumba and 30 minutes of yoga. I visited with friends, shopped, and then ate a quick breakfast and ran an errand before getting AJ. It was fantastic. Then we went home and did a bunch of laundry while AJ made a mess ( she discovered the hole puncher). I napped - it was fantastic. We got up and went to the park - I walked Radar while AJ demonstrated her prowess on the rings to Ben and some of our friends we ran into. Our girl is strong! Saturday night we went to Rusty's and visited with my grandma and Aunt Heidi, in town for my cousin Morgan's graduation from U of A.
SUNDAY: We skipped church to honor AJ's wish of staying home, and so I could attend the free yoga class at Freshfully. It was great fun and an awesome workout, but because of the time slot, I probably won't be back soon. Before I left, we made frozen berry snacks, and then ate yogurt parfaits with the leftovers. AJ and Ben played card and board games, bathed the dog, swept the kitchen and upgraded the laptop. We then went to Moe's to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Then, after a (very) short rest, AJ and I headed to William's Peter Pan themed birthday party. Guests were encouraged to come in costume : the birthday boy was Peter Pan, his mom was Wendy, his dad was Captain Hook, his nanny was a mermaid, his sister was Tinkerbell, and his grandmother was Nana the dog. Nana was the most comfortable of all, as her full-length faux fur coat kept her warm on a freakishly cold day. Despite the cold and rain, there was an inflatable pirate ship, and AJ had a grand time bouncing.
AJ intended to be Hook, so I bought a red t-shirt and planned to make it into her costume. She freaked out and did not want it. I looked up how to make a Peter Pan costume, but she didn't want that, either. Finally, I convinced her that she could be a girl version of Mr. Smee, with his striped shirt, based in her already existing dress. She went for it. She said that Smee was, "really sort of a good guy." She was OK with it.
She got an eye patch and earring set from the treasure chest pinata, and she got the book Peter Pan as well as a plastic hook as party favors. Between all of those things, the pirate cake from Edgar's and the Cinco de Mayo-themed food and drinks (taquitos! Margaritas!) and seeing our fun friends, it was truly a party we did not want to leave.

We did a little dollar store run before returning hone, Skyping with Grandpa and Grammy, and then rushing off again to take AJ to visit my dad while we had a quick date at Chen Express. It was nice to be out together: our weekly lunch date didn't pan out this week.
I will say this weekend was not all fun and games. AJ has not been listening to us very well, so getting her to do any thing is dreadful. And don't get me started on bedtime. Whew!
Here's to an upcoming week full of highlights.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A True Haiku (Excuse the language)

Wednesday Night
By Laura Gallitz

Kid pooped pants at church.
Husband's reaction to it:
"Holy shit." Good pun.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Banana Bread

Anna June asked me the other day if we could bring a snack for her whole class. Touched by her spirit of generosity, I agreed.

She came home last night and told me that she checked with her teacher and it would be OK for us to bring a snack today.

As in, the next day. Short notice isn't really my thing.

I started rattling off things I could bake with what I had on hand: cookies, cupcakes, banana nut bread.

AJ picked the banana bread. Not muffins, but bread.

In a way, I was relieved. I hate wasting food, and I had just bought a bunch of bananas at Aldi that were proving too mushy too eat on their own.

AJ promised to help, after she watched Bob the Builder. I haven't managed to sit through an episode, but I like Bob. His motto is "Yes we can!" (Side note: pretty sure President Obama ripped this slogan off Bob. Still like it, though.) With Bob's cheery optimism coming from the next room, I could hardly give up and skip the task. I gathered the ingredients.

True to her word, AJ donned an apron and started stirring. Then, she got distracted and disappeared, leaving my ideal scene of Mom and daughter baking together in the kitchen and sharing quality time in the dust of flour surrounding me. I don't know what was so important, but I got the loaf in the oven all by myself.

I kind of wished I were the little red hen and could eat it all by myself, too.

AJ insists this 8" loaf will be enough for her 19 kid class. God has certainly worked bigger miracles. Actually, by the time you weed out all the kids who can't have nuts or sugar, and take out the kids who don't like bananas or bread, there may even be more than enough.

I can't wait for the reviews.