Saturday, June 29, 2013

When I'm Gone

Anna June's day camp has been following the theme of Music Week this week. AJ, on her own, often makes up songs and dances constantly. She has even been known to sing in nonsense words, much to my chagrin. This unfettered melody making, though, could be the beginnings of a real songwriter (like her Granddaddy and great grandmother), so I try not to quash her creativity.

On Wednesday, she came home to tell me that there would be a talent show on Friday, and that she'd be singing a song with her friend Madeline. I had never heard of the song, and AJ didn't know many of the words, but with some of her input and some lucky internet searches, I found the song she was supposed to sing.

The name of it appears to be "The Cup Song" or "Cups" depending on the source.

Further searching revealed that there's a movie called Pitch Perfect, about a capella groups at a fictional college who compete with one another. The girl group loses their spark and holds auditions, and a young woman played by actress Anna Kendrick (also seen in Up in the Air with George Clooney), wows the group with her audition, singing this particular song and accompanying herself with a plastic cup. The clip is here.

Evidently, though, they've gone and made this into a regular pop single. I heard it on the radio, even. Here, the cup percussion is still in place, but there's certainly extra accompaniment. They made a real music video, with a story and everything. Go here to watch.

Side Note: I want to know how she can get biscuits to cook in such a short time.

After watching clips of the actress/singer performing it on David Letterman and an a capella group performing a cover of it, I thought AJ would be inspired. Instead, she melted down.

She's tired, y'all. Camp keeps her busy and then there's swim lessons afterwards. I talked to other parents I know who have kids in camp, and their kids are also suffering nightly tantrums from exhaustion. I hate it - she has so much fun, but she's so worn out.

We don't know if the prospect of performing itself was the problem, the fact that she didn't know the words yet, or what, but she freaked out multiple times. I seemed to be learning the song pretty fast (there's not much to it) but she didn't. I was worried.

In order to help her, I printed off the song lyrics, in big type at her request. She didn't like it. In the cover version, the girls (who appear to be underage) changed the lyric from "two bottles of whiskey for the way" to "Won't you come with me on the way." I told AJ that I liked the change. She's 5, and doesn't need to be singing about whiskey. AJ retorted that her singing partner would have to learn the change and it would confuse her. Fair enough, but it caused more tears. And AJ claimed she couldn't read my lyrics sheet, mostly because she can't read at top speed yet - my font had nothing to do with it (although this was her claim).

She selected an outfit that would be -in her mind - appropriate for the stage. A long, flowing skirt, outrageous tights and socks, and a polka dot t-shirt.  She stuffed it into her backpack to wear at curtain time. On the morning of the show, I asked if she was sure she wanted to wear her too-short shorts and the swing top that goes with it. Her resounding answer was yes, and she would change later.

They invited the parents to the talent show. I asked if she even wanted me to come, and she did.
So I went, and it was worse than I expected. They started 30 minutes late. There was an emcee, one of the counselors, who was nice and personable. A little boy was up first. He painstakingly went over and retrieved his snare drum, then its stand, from his case. Then, he set it up. Then, he adjusted it. Finally, he gave us a series of impressive drum rolls. Next on the list was AJ's friend from school, to perform a dance (a dance she had learned from her regular dance lessons). The emcee skipped right over her, and announced AJ, sort of. He began the introductions by saying how much fun the whole camp has been having trying to play the cups at lunch. But there was no kid to accompany them with the cups, as AJ had led me to believe. They gave us programs, but the names were broken awkwardly in the columns. Therefore, he announced the little girl singing with AJ by her last name, and she wasn't even there. She was the one who talked AJ into singing with her, and then got stage fright and didn't perform. The third person listed was a little boy (who I swear looked like a little girl), and his name was not announced. You can see how I got confused.

I love my daughter. I am very proud of her for standing up on stage in front of all her camp friends and their parents, to sing a song. Actually, the little girl boy she sang with had a nice voice. But it was a timid voice. Both of the girls kids quietly and shyly began. There was definitely sound system capability, but they assigned no microphone, except to the emcee. There was no accompaniment tape (which, if it's an a capella song in general, why would there be)? These two sweet little girls children (AJ slouching a little), tried to sing the song. But they completely forgot the words. They started over. They got slightly louder. I mouthed the words exaggeratedly from the audience, but they didn't really look too much - AJ did catch sight of me and follow my lead, but it was too little. Just like her outfit - she had not changed into her performing clothes.

Luckily, the whole thing lasted less than 2 minutes. God is merciful, for it was painful to watch. I say that with all honesty. I know my child can sing, but this came out in some sort of quiet monotone that I had never heard before. I didn't bring my phone. There was no video. This is a blessing, ladies and gentlemen.

The emcee called the next act, who had to assemble his own musical equipment. There were 17 more acts to go. My head started to spin a little. I went to the emcee, and I asked him what the deal was with skipping over AJ's friend. He told me that the little girl wanted to dance instead with a group of girls, going at the end. So at least I knew the score with that one. Her poor dad looked so confused, I had to intervene and determine if there was a problem (No, but he didn't say, "Oh, so-and-so will now dance at the end, and we're going to move on to AJ...") Anyway, since I was up, I took the opportunity to walk over to AJ and ask if it would be ok with her if I didn't stay for her friends. She said yes, so, after making sure she was OK and knew that I was proud of her, I bailed out. I couldn't help it. Because I didn't bring my cell phone, and I didn't exactly explain to anyone that I was leaving, except a post-it note on the door that said, "At the Rec Center." I was having a mild panic attack that while I had been sitting there, chatting with other parents, someone at work might need me. I did get back to some time-sensitive projects and emails, but in all honesty, with a little planning I could have stayed. I felt extremely rude, but I also feel it's rude to be 30 minutes late starting something.

Some interesting things did come out of this. I discussed the meaning of the song, trying to gauge AJ's comprehension. She told me that the lyrics were "like a warning." I agreed with her - it's almost like the singer is threatening her beloved that he'll miss her when she's gone. AJ interrupted me to say that she assumed the song was being sung to the girl's mother.  I told her that very well may be.

"You're gonna miss me by my hair. You're gonna miss me by my walk. What does that even mean?" I asked AJ. "Wouldn't we say that you're going to miss my hair, you're going to miss my walk?" But of course, according to a commenter on YouTube, which is an authoritative source, "Actually the song 'Miss Me When I'm Gone' was written by J.E. Mainer's Mountaineers back in 1937. Movies borrow songs from many artists and songwriters from the past. They just upbeat it or mix it up. No one is stupid here, you just didn't do your research." Maybe it is a 30's colloquialism.

We talked more about how it is both an invitation and a warning, like AJ said. Or a threat that's actually an invitation. Man, pop music is confusing.

I will probably not allow AJ to see the movie until she's older - it's PG-13. She has plenty of time to learn about all that stuff. Right now, I am glad that she thinks that the girl is singing to her mother that she will be missed when she is gone.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Pool Fail

Anna June had been asking to do one of the things on our Summer Bucket List, which was to visit our neighborhood pool.

Ben was incredulous that we rarely, if ever, visited this pool when we were kids. After visiting, though, I think he found out why. It's just kind of crummy.

We were the first people there, although the pool opens at noon, and we arrived at one o'clock. We stayed until after 2, when I started to sunburn again. AJ enjoyed showing off her new "bobbing" skills, and she practiced lots of the things she's been learning in swim lessons. She was eager to tell her teacher that she practiced. One of the main reasons we decided to even go was to help her gain the "confidence" she lacked that was pointed out on the progress report. Ben wasn't impressed with her progress, but I could tell a huge difference from when we were just in the pool on our trip to Florida. He spent more time in the ocean than I did with her, but I was in the pool with her both times, and he wasn't.

Crestwood park recently underwent major renovations. The deck of the pool was enlarged, but there is no furniture. People can "lay out" on their towels beside the pool, inside the fence, but that's it. City of Birmingham, we would have stayed a little longer if there was a place to rest.

Secondly - and this bothered Ben a lot more than it bothered me - the pool looks dirty. The water is clean, but the pool itself sat empty for a year or two, and evidently the scum that grew on the bottom left its mark. It was not repainted or's just kinda gross looking.

Thirdly, there were a bunch of strange rules, policies, and quirks.
1. You have to leave your stuff outside the gate. Everything: flip flops, towels, phones, etc. There are no lockers, but they will give you a hanging mesh bag. We declined this service as we had our own bag.
2. Showering before entering the pool - pretty standard, but the showers were in the restrooms. I thought most pools just had outside things that everyone used.
3. In the restrooms, there were no doors on the stalls. I neither want to watch someone or have someone watch me conduct my restroom business, thank you very much.
4. You can't wear t-shirts in the pool. The staff member explained that this is for safety reasons, because if a lifeguard needs to grab you it's easier to do without a shirt on. We spotted a family there, who, I swear, wore street clothes in the pool. I guess it's OK to wear a tank top if that is your swimsuit.
5. Profanity is strictly forbidden, although I distinctly heard a staff member swear. Well, I probably would swear, too, if I worked there.

Of course, it only costs one dollar per person to visit this pool. There were at least 5, possibly 6 staff members on duty when we arrived. Which means that, with all the visitors we saw, maybe there was one half of one of their wages covered by entrance fees.

On the plus side, the staff was friendly. The guy we talked to was grilling out, and he was happy to tell us that Sundays are usually really slow. He told us they have swim lessons at 10 and 11 am on weekdays, and they usually open more like 12:30 instead of 12, giving the staff a chance to rest and clean up before the regular customers come in. He said he has no clue why furniture is not allowed, though he was happy to explain the t-shirt/safety thing.

Ben vows to show me a "real" public pool in Milwaukee when we go. Nonetheless, I am glad that there's a functioning place in our neighborhood, affordable to all, where kids can go to get cooled off in this heat.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Sign of a Good Time

Anna June requested, back when we visited Ruffner Mountain, that I photograph her muddy shoes. They were brand new looking, and she had just gotten them as hand-me-downs from cousins Claire and Ella while we were at the beach. They fit her great, and would be great for hiking the uncertain terrain of the mountain. Of course, we found ourselves in mud. AJ complained, but I am pretty sure she loved it. They're cleaner than this now, but I think she just wanted to show them off as a sign she had a really good time.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Swim Time

Anna June got signed up for swim lessons at the UAB Rec Center on the first day of Adventure Day Camp. We were excited by this new thing happening on campus. The idea that AJ could get swim lessons during the "after camp care" part of her day, where we wouldn't have to transport, pick up, drop off, or take off work any additional time was truly fantastic. I will be forever grateful to UAB for having this fantastic idea- I was beginning to get frustrated looking for local options that would fit into our schedule on the weekends.

UAB uses the Starfish Aquatics Institute, which allows kids to move up within their classes by color group. The first week, AJ was in the "white" group, and, after only one week, moved up to the "red" group. She still has some things to master before moving up, but we're seeing definite progress.

In fact, that first Friday, she could not wait to show me her progress report! 

Week 2's progress report wasn't quite as exciting, but still improvements nonetheless:

Mostly, swim lessons are her favorite part of camp. This was from her first day of lessons (Note: I probably violated all kinds of rules by bringing my camera phone into the gym, but, hey, it was a monumental occasion.)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Just Chillin

I had to turn around and take a picture of Anna June on Friday evening, as she looked so adorable just chilling in her camp t-shirt and sunglasses.
She's growing up so fast. And yes, she does have shorts on under there somewhere. The trouble with being in the littlest group of campers is that the shirts are all too big!

Monday, June 24, 2013


Anna June is progressing at a great pace in her reading, even in the summer. She often complains at night when it's time to read, but she is learning nonetheless.

Saturday morning, Radar was barking, and I was busy. I asked AJ to go to the window to see what intruder was causing him to bark so vociferously. AJ reported back, hollering, "It's just the Terminix man." Folks, we don't have Terminix services, although maybe we should. Unless she has seen it on a commercial, she's never heard the word spoken. It occurred to me that SHE READ IT OFF THE SIDE OF THE TRUCK. This is a huge deal to me.

Later, we were at the Crestwood Festival Center and she said, "Wow!" And we asked, "What?" wondering what on earth could be exciting about our local shopping center. There's a gigantic banner that says "22 new shops coming soon!" which she read back to us. We were pretty much beaming.

And of course, with reading comes writing. I was touched and pleased that she came up with this all by herself:

May your day be just as sweet.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

She's Crafty

Anna June loves arts & crafts. She seems to enjoy anything that she can physically make. I know lots of kids are like that, but I was not one. She surprises me every day.

First of all, she is currently obsessed with paper airplanes. She loves making them, flying them, and learning new ways of making them and flying them. During the baseball game yesterday, she and her dad flew airplanes at each other for several innings, and she was just as happy as a pig in mud. It helps that last week, Science Week at camp, had her building and flying airplanes as well. (Flying them from the indoor track, which is on the top floor, down into the baskeball court below was a highlight of the week, which included ice cream making and tie dying t-shirts!) A friend suggested we capitalize on this interest and take her to the Southern Museum of Flight, which I've now added to our bucket list. She has even made an airport from a shoebox, (complete with doors and a hole cut "for the suitcases") although the airport now has too many planes. She may have to retire the old fleet to make room for the new and improved ones.

The other day, she made an emery board out of a craft stick and sandpaper. It was adorable,and, in a pinch, useful.

Yesterday, for our anniversary, she had Ben help her decorate the kitchen for an anniversary party (just the three of us) while I napped. There was even a Welcome sign. It was so sweet! And the snacks weren't bad either.

Later, she went to get a paper bag to put her pipe cleaner butterfly in, when, lo and behold, she asked for the hole punch. A while later, she came up with this, which she photographed herself. I have no idea what it is, but she sure worked hard on it and was proud - she wanted this on Instagram for her fans to see.

Now I need to find a place to put all of these prizes.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Girls' Night Out

I'll have to admit, I was kind of jealous that Ben and Anna June had a daddy-daughter date night. I probably should have gone out with my own dad, but I didn't. I was busy on that particular night.

But soon after that, I called up my mom to tell her I won tickets to a Girls' Night Out event, which served as a book launch party for the debut novel of Liza Elliott, 30-A Supper Club. Because it sounded like a book that we would read, I was very glad Mom was free to come.

I got the tickets from See Jane Write, a local organization for women writers of all types: bloggers, fiction, nonfiction, poetry, journalists, etc. This has been an incredible community, and I am so glad to be a small part of it! My goals for this year include actually attending some events, but for now, I was very, very glad to meet up with the group's leader, Javacia Bowser, to get the tickets! I felt like this came at a good time, because I was at the (hopeful end) of a streak of bad luck. 

We had a nice time meeting all of the female-focused vendors, and learning about Glenwood, the agency that benefited from the event. There was a fashion show, and a fitness hoop demonstration. We both won door prizes! Mom won a cute charm bracelet with baseball bats, gloves and balls, and I won a gorgeous nightgown from White Flowers Gallery in Homewood.

The party was held at the Summit Club, on the top floors of the Regions-Harbert Plaza. I only took one picture that night, and it was of the cool wine-glass chandelier in the lobby of the club. It looked beautiful (but impossible to dust).

Anna June got to stay with her granddaddy while Ben studied that night, and AJ hatched a plan - she decided that if she was in bed when I returned, she would HAVE to be allowed to spend the night. So she bathed and got in bed before 8 pm. She admitted that she started out faking, but ended up falling asleep. She slept over 11 hours - more than I've been able to get her to sleep maybe ever. She is a stinker, but I was glad for it, and glad she has her own "room" at Nana and Granddaddy's house. Of course, she'll have to share it with Wesley when he gets big enough to spend time over there, too.

All in all, it was a good night for everyone.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Glamour Shot

Anna June attended a birthday party at the Gardendale Splash Pad this past weekend. I got one picture of her, and it's a good one.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Evidently, Anna June has a stunt double somewhere in the world. My friend Ruth found this picture online and I have to re-post it here, because this little girl, from this angle, looks exactly like AJ, except with a Doberman instead of Radar. It's also totally something she would do.

(Photo source:

PS - I wrote an awesome post on my phone around 4 am this morning, and it is totally gone. I hate the Blogger app, I hate my phone, and I hate insomnia. That is all.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Curse

Anna June didn't know what a curse was, so when I mentioned that I thought I might be cursed, she let me know she was confused. I explained it was like a witch putting a spell on someone, and she reminded me that there is no such thing as witches, which I tell her all the time.

So maybe there's not a curse. But here are some unfortunate events that have happened to us in the past little bit.

Our trip to the beach was grand, but I got sunburned. Badly. So badly that when I went to the dermatologist and told her how bad it hurt she gave me some kind of numbing cream they give cancer patients. I'm still peeling. When I saw my doctor today, she gave me another "tsk, tsk" look and a blessedly short lecture.

A couple of days after our trip, I met with a contractor about our floors. He came and took measurements, but Radar got really hyped up at his visit. When I was leaving the house, he bolted. So I called Radar to come and run a couple of errands in the car with me. He liked that idea and came along. The first one was putting gas in the car. He whined while the car was stopped - that dog loves to go! When we made it out onto Crestwood Blvd into traffic, the car stopped. Luckily, it started right back up, because I didn't fancy being stranded with my dog in a hot car on a busy highway with not even a leash for him!

My car was stalling often when we put gas in the car. We'd taken it in to the dealership for this problem a few times, including complaining that it smelled of gas sometimes. They told us to bring it back when it was happening all the time. Eventually, through good internet research Ben found where other cars were experiencing the same difficulties, and I arrived at the dealership, printout in hand, to show them the name of the certain valve that was malfunctioning. That was great, but, a) they'd have to order the parts and b) my car is out of warranty. What? It only has 44,000 miles on it! I was a little frustrated when they told me it had expired (by date) in October. It was truly unfortunate that the dealership couldn't determine the nature of the problem while it was still covered.

Then, we took Ben's car into the shop because it was making a terrible noise, and I concluded that the brakes were not doing well, either. So, the belt got tightened and the brakes got fixed. Our safety and well-being is worth the money, but, ouch.

While my car was in the shop for a few days, we had to carpool, which was OK, except it was VBS week, and we had various things to do. We got the hang of it, though, but on the last day, I got sick at work. Like, I need to go home right now sick. So Ben had to leave his work and come pick me up, since he had the car. That was inconvenient. He was fielding calls as he drove, only to have me say, "Oh, by the way, you need to go pick up AJ. In Leeds." Let's just say he wasn't thrilled. When they called and said it was ready - earlier than they had said on the phone -  we were more than happy to trek to Gardendale, even when I wasn't feeling well, so I could have my freedom back!

Sometime during the week after the beach (pre-curse bliss, as I like to think of it), I finally figured out via an email that the person who had been calling me was my friend Chris, our air conditioner guy. He said the check I had written him didn't go through. Upon further investigation, it was determined that I had been writing checks on my closed account - we closed our checking account as soon as my purse was stolen last year, and we opened another one at the same institution. The new checks are only one digit off (we were out of those) and the old checks had not been shredded. Oops. Times eleven checks. So then I had to go on what Ben calls my "Tour of Apology." We had to visit the a/c guy, the yard man, the dog sitter, the seamstress, the church treasurer, and everyone else who got "bad"  checks from me. Each got charged an additional $10-15 per check, so, it was a pretty expensive mistake, even though our credit union didn't charge us anything because the account was closed.

Sunday, we decided to gear up for AJ's day camp. I had an optimistic, back-to-school vibe, hot off the heels of my girl's night out with my friend. (We ate sushi and went to a rock concert. We're too old to stand up that long anymore, but it was a good show!) We headed to the Outlet Shops of Grand River to see about buying some new shorts outfits for AJ to play in. She still has a lot of clothes (LOTS AND LOTS AND LOTS) but I wanted her to have some new things she picked out that would be appropriate for long days in the gym. We hit up Osh Kosh, and she hated everything there. We went over to Carter's, and she got more in the groove. She picked out a few outfits, a nightgown, and a bathing suit. It was going well. It was raining, which is inconvenient for an outdoor shopping center, but we headed to Children's Place. She picked out a long skirt (mourning that she outgrew her favorite long skirt), a fancy scarf (also sad that I ruined her only summer scarf in the wash), and another shorts outfit. It was pouring, and we weren't going anywhere, so I had her try on the outfits from Carter's while we were in the dressing room. (Neither Carter's nor Gymboree has a dressing room!) As it turns out, she hated the feel of the one pair of shorts (like khaki pants, she said) and the romper she had picked out was all wrong for her. She's long and thin, and this shape does much better with two-piece outfits rather than one. So we went back to Carter's to return it. I swiped my card to add the credit onto it. We went on to Gymboree in the rain, only to have AJ freak out and declare that she absolutely would not wear any of this stuff. So we left the outlet mall. I was still sporting my Indian cross-body purse I had taken to the concert, which had lost its button closure. Somehow, the debit card must have slipped out of my unsecured bag - the last place I saw it was Carter's, and, I checked and they don't have it.

So I called the credit union to cancel my "lost or stolen" debit card. It's an easy and straightforward process, which you complete by keying numbers into the telephone. This was quick and easy, and I let Ben know that it was canceled, lest he have visions of Leeds hoodlums cleaning out our account at Toys R Us outlet. Then, I get a text from Ben - "Call me. Important." It turns out, when I canceled my debit card over the phone, it canceled his, too, as I'm the primary account holder and both cards are linked to my SSN. I called and they reactivated it, but it still made for an embarrassing scene when Ben was just trying to get a sandwich for lunch that day.

Is this not enough to prove our streak of rotten luck? I could go on. In fact, I'll tell you one more and then I'll stop.

On Saturday, we had enjoyed a great day, celebrating Radar's 7th birthday. We had done the car maintenance thing for Ben, gone out to lunch, gone grocery shopping, straightened up a (very) little for the party, and even had a nice little setup for our guests. After they left, I went to lie down for a few minutes. AJ came in my room and asked if we could go to walk Radar at the park (actually, she asked if we could W-A-L-K R-A-D-A-R at the P-A-R-K because he gets way hyper when he hears those key words). I told her that, yes, it was fine. When we got there, a church was having a community fish fry, and there were hundreds of people there. There was a bouncy house, and face painting, all for free. We walked Radar a lap (AJ ran 2 laps) and then we went up to the bounce house to play with some friends we saw. AJ was lured into the "little kid" bounce house by her friend Madison. Of course, then, AJ bounced right into another friend and the little one had a small meltdown. AJ went back over and apologized, but their dad had had enough, so they were ready to leave. We went and got AJ a spider painted on her face (her choice) only to have Ben ask to immediately remove it as soon as we got home - I didn't even get a picture, but it was actually one of the best simple face painting jobs she's had done. We saw one of the teachers from AJ's school, so we went over and spoke. We finally got through the crowd and back up the hill to our car. We made it home, and I walked straight to the sofa to sit down. I unceremoniously crossed my legs. "Is that POOP?" Ben asked. Sure enough, I had stepped in it. So I had to spend the rest of the afternoon de-pooping: I had to wash my shoes, then the kitchen floor, then the den carpet, then the driveway and the car, then take out the garbage with the smelly paper towels and wash the smelly rags. I have no idea if it came from the park or if it came from one of our "friends" in our yard. What a great dog birthday, right?

It does seem like I've had a bad streak of luck. Everything from the Rec Center mishandling AJ's swim lessons on the first day to missing a deadline at work to going in to a Monday meeting where I was told, "My grant is due Friday," and having to weigh at the doctor's office seems to have brought on a woe-is-me color to my days. But our pastor has been preaching on gratitude recently, and I have so many blessings that I cannot count them. My darkest, most annoying, most brought-it-on-myself-miserable days have their silver linings. AJ is adorable, sweet, and very smart. My husband is a great guy, making time for us even when we don't make time for him. My family is very encouraging, loving, and helpful. My friends are hilarious and loyal. My bosses and co-workers are always ready to lend a helping hand or at least an ear when I need to vent. They seem genuinely concerned when I say things like, "My life is falling apart!" even though they know it is not. I was reminded that it's what you choose to see that's reality for you. If you think life sucks, then it does. If you think it's great, it is great.

I just won tickets to a cool event, so maybe my luck is starting to change. If not, I'm just going to start writing blues songs instead of blogging.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


Anna June loved VBS, but the main drawback was that after noon, we needed child care. On Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, my parents took care of her. On Tuesday, Liz watched her. But on Friday, Liz was on a plane and my parents were getting ready for the auction, so AJ ended up at my office. (By the way, we know there are other options, including paid babysitters. I didn't plan ahead enough, and it was just for a little while.)

I packed AJ's bag with her Kindle, some books, snacks, a blanket and a stuffed animal. She ended up being the most excited about my office supplies, and make many drawings and other pieces of art, including a paper boat. Give the kid a hole puncher and some scrap paper and she's entertained for a while.

Being that she can read now, she spotted a drawer I had marked "Laura's files." She told me this was boring. So I changed it.

She tried telling me that I wasn't really Wonder Woman but she had no defense when I told her that we'd never been seen in the same place at the same time.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Happy Birthday, Radar!

On Saturday, Anna June and I celebrated Radar's seventh birthday. After our disaster at the dog park last year, we decided to have a low-key celebration at home with the neighbor dogs he loves the best: Chip and Gutz. They are both owned by ladies named Sandy, incidentally.

Sandy's son Erik came, too. Technically, Erik is Gutz's owner, but Sandy spends a lot of time with him.

We had a dog food cake for the pups, and snacks for the humans, including carrots and hummus, chips and dip, cookies, and pasta salad that was pretty good, if I do say so myself.

The dogs had such a fun time running around and sniffing each other - we all decided we should do it again soon. (Top photo courtesy of Sandy W.)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Sunday Adventure: Ruffner Mountain Park

Last Sunday (as in a week ago, I'm behind), we surprised Anna June with a trip to Ruffner Mountain Nature Center. The park is so close to our house, we shouldn't even qualify it as a trip.

There are miles of trails through beautifully preserved woods. Because of the area's industrial past, some of the trails lead to old mine entrances, and we even saw an enormous iron ore crusher, which was the highlight of our walk.

The crusher was made by Allis-Chalmers, where Grandma Gallitz used to work, although this machinery certainly predates her tenure there.

The site actually provides an interesting look into the iron ore mining industry, a key part of what made our city grow like magic. Unfortunately, it was mostly on the backs of underpaid workers doing heavy and dangerous work. You can read more about this particular mine here.

Our pictures from the trip are located here

We saw unusual bugs, flowers, trees, and even a (small and harmless) snake.

We went through the nature center and saw owls, turtles, and other wildlife from the area.

AJ complained that we got lost and had to use our compass. Side Note: Is there anything an iPhone can't do? AJ complained that we walked through mud and got her new-to-her shoes all dirty. She was hot.

But when we asked her how she liked the hike, she claims, "It was so much fun."


Thursday, June 6, 2013

All Smiles

For behaving well and having no cavities, Anna June got to pick a prize at the dentist's office. She selected a fake mustache. She wore it from Crestline to Avondale, where she took it off and it frustratingly stuck to itself. Luckily, she didn't wear it in to Vacation Bible School - they were having picture day today!

As I said over on Facebook, I realize that AJ's having no cavities isn't exactly the pinnacle of parental achievement...there are lots of factors, including the child's own discipline, genes, and diet. But I am grateful nonetheless, because having to schedule cavity fillings would not be fun.

We did get lectured to brush better (i.e., Mom and Dad have to come behind AJ and hit up the teeth a little better) and floss more, but for now, her baby teeth are looking pretty.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


Anna June has been having a great summer so far. I have a ton of posts swirling in my head right now, but I haven't had a chance to write them yet. Work is crazy - grant deadline this week - and on top of that we have car repairs, Vacation Bible School, various relatives handling child care (thanks especially to Mom and Liz!) and all the usual stuff. Our colds are coming back a little, so we're all a little run down and tired. AJ had a particularly bad morning. Lots of exciting things to share about our adventures...but you'll just have to wait a few more days before I can get them on the screen. Sorry.