Friday, October 25, 2013

The Before Picture: Teacher Work Day

Anna June is predictable in her unpredictability.

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

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

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

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

Maybe Daylight Savings Time this weekend will help.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: After School Care

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

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Friday, October 11, 2013

Brat in the Hat

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

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

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

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

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

She wanted to wear striped tights on her head.

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

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

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

She looked like this:

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

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

Monday, October 7, 2013

Monday Morning Check-in

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

We followed the directions as exactly as we could.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


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

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

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

No, but that's a good guess!

Have a great Wednesday.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Real Head-Scratcher

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It didn't work.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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