Saturday, November 30, 2013

How We Spent Black Friday

Anna June asked me what Black Friday was. She asked if it was why a lot of people were wearing black. It was too cute to tell her the real reason, so I let it stand.

I hate the term Black Friday. Remember when people called them the "after Thanksgiving sales?" At least then, the holiday was acknowledged.

There are places that are open on Thanksgiving Day, which I do not understand. A grocery store in each town (they can take turns), a few gas stations, hospitals, 24-hour drugstore and Waffle House - that should be it. People, even if they don't like their families, should be allowed to stay home one day a year, even if it just so they can be thankful they do not have to work.

So on Friday, AJ worked puzzles. I went to hang out with my grandfather for a couple of hours. Ben prepared to write a paper. We met for lunch, then Ben went a couple of places to shop while AJ and I went back home. Ben doesn't like crowds, but he does like deals, and he shops enough to know if something is worth it or not. He came home with batteries of all sizes and shapes. We are now set for all 2014 battery needs.

I took a nap, AJ did more puzzles, Ben thought more about his paper. I suddenly decided we needed to go bowling, so we braved the Trussville traffic and went to the Lightning Strikes bowling alley. (Clever name, eh?) 


The place was not at all crowded, and they were running their own Black Friday deal, so we bowled two games and got shoes and sodas for $8/each. That's a deal I can get behind. 

After the first frame, we asked to have bumpers put up for AJ's turns. This improved her performance so much that she came in second place. I took second in the second game, with Ben as the champion both times. 

On the way in, AJ's shoestring unraveled in dramatic fashion. It was decided we'd head to the shoe store after bowling to get new laces. Evidently, Sketchers knows their laces are terrible and provides spare pairs, but I knew that at present, I can only find non-matching replacements. 

We set out on our mission. Ben went to get a haircut. We soon found out what Black Friday shopping is all about. Rack Room Shoes had quite the line! They were running 60% off deals. We only needed some $2.49 shoelaces (in neon pink) but waited in line a long time while others tried to redeem online coupon codes and went back for other sizes. 

After that ordeal, we went to Yogurt Mountain. AJ got cake batter/cookies and cream yogurt and I got candy cane flavor. Here she is with her creation. I had a BOGO coupon, so we did at least get a deal.

She's chewing a gummy bear here. I still do not know why they are ice cream toppings.

We went home and had leftovers for dinner. 

We brushed Radar's teeth with homemade toothpaste. No one liked that.

It was a good day. I was glad to be away from the crowds, mostly, and to spend time with my favorite people.

Friday, November 29, 2013

How We Spent Thanksgiving

Anna June had a good Thanksgiving. We had a big crowd, tons of food, and lots if fun. Here's what we did:

On Thanksgiving morning, we woke up and had a light breakfast. I made one of our family's favorites: corn casserole. I had not made it in a while. I encountered difficulty with the easy dish. 

First of all, there was difficulty shopping. We went to Trussville's Super Target on Tuesday night, even though it was raining and snow was predicted later in the night. We were prepared for a crowd, but everyone seemed to be at home. Other than that and bumping in to my old piano teacher, the shopping experience on the grocery side was less than super. 

The recipe calls for 2 cans of GreenGiant  Mexicorn. I found this, but the company inexplicably labeled it with some kind of new sub-brand: "steam fresh". I have no idea how, if at all, this is different, but it was what they had, so I bought it. Then, the recipe calls for a 5 oz. bag of Mahatma saffron yellow rice. There was none of this at Super Target. Instead, I bought an 8 oz. bag of Vigo saffron yellow rice. I was not going to a different store on the day before Thanksgiving. It would have to do.

I began making the dish early, in case there were issues. Of course there were. The main issue was I panicked.

I called my mom to ask if the corn should be drained, although if the truth is told, there's not a whole lot of liquid in the can. Once, I made a sweet potato casserole and failed to write down the instruction to drain the can of sweet potatoes. It turned out a soupy mess. My cousin and brother Patrick are known for their love of corn casserole and I did not want to fail them. Mom said drain them. I was glad I asked. I noted my copy of the recipe.

Luckily, I paid attention in math class, so I used my food scale to figure out how much 5/8ths of the cooked rice would be, reserving the rest for a later dinner. I had a crazy thought that the dish would be ruined by the switch of brands, because for some reason I thought the rice types were different, but they are not.

I thought AJ wanted to help me, but she ran off. This was good, because she missed my end of the conversation where she'd have heard me tell Mon that no, I had not planned on doubling the recipe. There'd be plenty of food.

I went back to my room, dejected, and told Ben I had officially ruined Thanksgiving.

To rectify my error, Mom instructed Rusty to assemble another one at the restaurant ASAP. He had ingredients on hand, as he'd been making them for his customers. But he didn't have much time to bake his. 

Mine was still slightly warm when I arrived, but it got reheated and lost a little liquid in the process. Maybe I shouldn't have drained the corn after all. Rusty's baked in haste, was a little soupy. Guests were instructed to get a spoonful of each and stir.

Thanksgiving is not all about the food, but you could have fooled us. We had 3 turkeys and a ham, 4 pans of dressing (also called stuffing if you're not from around here), and it got more ridiculous from there, including 9 desserts.

How many kinfolk were there? Let's count: Connie and Tim (the hosts), Mom and Dad, Granddaddy Jerome, Drew, Patrick, Liz and their son Wesley (who is 10 months old now!), Rusty, Beth, Beth's parents Tom and Cheryl, Grandma Hazel, Heidi and her daughter Morgan (and Morgan's boyfriend Travis, who only stopped by), Scott, Jean, and their kids Collin, Claire, and Ella, and Ben, Anna June, and me. I think that's 25. Believe it or not, that's a smallish crowd.


Anna June had a great time playing tag with my cousins in the front yard. Then, they came inside and played pool. Later, we played Thanksgiving JINGO, a game very similar to Bingo, but the spaces called are pictures associated with educational Thanksiving facts, and they don't have to be in a certain column. AJ's teacher sent it home with her. She didn't win, but had fun playing with all 4 participating generations.

We packed up our leftovers in our own Tupperware, and left to go home. We ended up watching a movie on Netflix: The Land Before Time X: The Great Migration. Stretched out on the couch, I fell asleep and snored loudly almost immediately. I woke up to see the main plot of the movie: youngster Littlefoot has been raised by his grandparents, due to an absent father and a mother who had been killed. In this great migration, he meets and builds a relationship with his biological father, who leads a herd. The herd is (presumably) too big to return to the Great Valley where Littlefoot lives, so he must decide whether to stay with his grandparents or go with his father. He eventually picks his grandparents, but the whole scene, including a musical number with his friends assuring him they'd still be his friends regardless of his choice, was too much for us. We bawled. We were still crying through all the credits and after. Since we had both just spent the day with our parents and grandparents, such a choice was too heartbreaking. 

Overall, it was still a great day. We are thankful.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


Anna June tried to make a Mohawk in the bathtub last night. Her hair's a little too long, so we went with this.

Friday, November 22, 2013

This Guy

Anna June May be fine, but her dad has strep throat. 
AJ made him a get well card. It has a rainbow and is precious. We're going to try to spend the weekend recovering. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Baby's First Crossword

Anna June started working a crossword puzzle with her granddaddy on Saturday night, and got really frustrated when she couldn't complete it. So Ben went online and found a kid crossword, and they worked it together. Ta-da!

Friday, November 15, 2013

No Time

I asked Anna June if she felt like she needed cough medicine last night, and she said no. She had some chamomile tea with honey, and considered that her medicine. So I skipped it, but shouldn't have. She woke up twice, and the second time, instead of going straight to her room, I went to the kitchen in search of purple medicine.

"Mama mama mama mama mama!" She hoarsely called. 

I called back, "I'm in the kitchen getting you some medicine! I'll be right there!"

"Mama ma ma MAMA!" 

It reminded me of when she has night terrors and she can't respond to what I'm saying because she's actually asleep. 

"I said I'm coming. Did you think I left?"

"No," she replied. 

She reluctantly sat up and drank the (probably disgusting) medicine.

We all went back to sleep, but now it is time to get up and that is a scene I dread. TGIF.

I hope to blog this weekend. We have lots of pictures to share from October. But since I've been moving at work, I've had no time to blog like I want.  Here we a couple of pictures I took of AJ this week. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Star Student

Anna June's school held awards assemblies on Friday to honor the children who made the honor roll. Pre-K and Kindergarten don't technically get grades, but they joined the other grades in honoring those kids with perfect attendance. In addition, each class gave a "Good Citizen" award. This month, the theme was "respect." So each teacher honored a student that had been the most respectful in their class.

Anna June was named her class's honoree. Since they sent a note home, we knew about it ahead of time. I asked the teacher for more details, and took off work to attend the assembly.

I am so glad I did. It was precious to see all the little kids (Pre-K through 2 at this program, grades 3-5 at a later one) go up to receive their ribbons and certificates. One teacher even got Chuck E Cheese gift certificates for free tokens to give her honorees, which I saw as a First Grader showed his mom sitting next to me.

No one in AJ's class had perfect attendance - thanks, head lice! So when Mrs. Barrett took the microphone, it was only to announce her good citizen for the month of October. (I guess they didn't do September.)

At home, AJ had been pretty proud of the award. But then, she started to worry about tripping across the stage. As an introvert, it must be hard for her to accept recognition in front of hundreds of people.

She had better get used to it. I imagine this is just the first of many awards to cone in her long academic career. Before now, though, aside from getting to pull from the treasure box at the end of the week like all the kids who've stayed on "green" has been her only recognition. This is her first real award for something she's accomplished on her own and not just participated in.

I am just about as proud as I can be.

She was pretty embarrassed when she got her certificate. But let's just call it humble. After all, you'd expect that from the most respectful kid in the class.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Kind of Sick

Anna June is kind of sick. She hasn't run a fever but has complained of a sore throat for days. Actually, she has complained of everything for days. It's her head, her nose, sneezing, coughing, her eyes, her legs, her stomach. She is tired, cranky, and doesn't feel well. I have been giving her medicine at night to help her sleep.

Before you ask, yes, we've all had our flu shots.

Monday night, I gave her Tylenol rather than Triaminic because she seemed to ache more than cough. That was a mistake. She fought us for an hour and a half at bedtime. She was too scared to sleep, and then, after I caved and laid down with her for a few minutes, there was much screaming and crying when I got up. 

So I drugged her again last night, after a warm bath with Epsom salts to help her poor, tired, growing muscles and bones. (Side note: with her new sneakers on, we measured her at 4 feet tall! No wonder she hurts - that's about 2 inches in 2 months.)

I hate giving her medicine when she's not really, really sick, but if she doesn't rest, she'll end up really, really sick anyway.

We keep checking her temperature, which is normal. I am not planning to take her to the doctor unless symptoms markedly worsen or a fever develops. Then, we will go and they will say there is nothing they can do: it is viral and she just needs rest.

I am glad we stayed home more than usual this weekend. I'm glad we avoided contact with little Wesley, although we'd all love to see him. I'm also glad that so far we haven't missed school or work with this. She even laid down at nap time at school yesterday - evidently only the kids who are not feeling well do this. 

Maybe the illness will be gone in a few days, and the extreme whiny-ness will subside.

If not, we'll re-evaluate. 

To mitigate the impact of such bad news, here is a series of self-portraits AJ made on our recent vacation.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


"Memories" is the name of the puzzle Anna June was so excited to work this weekend. It was 500 pieces, and in the Encore! Series by Rose Art. Why am I mentioning this? The puzzle veterans did not love this puzzle. We don't want to see this brand again if we can help it.

First of all, we have no idea where this came from. Box lot? Yard sale? It had been opened and we had no memory of doing it, so it probably wasn't a gift.

All the pieces were the same basic H shape. There were no oddballs to pick out. This made it harder, but it also led to a lot of false fits, especially for AJ. As you can see from the picture, there was a lot of brown. Brown's not our favorite, but we could have gotten past it. We kept trying the same pieces over and over!

AJ realizes she's a puzzle rookie, but she really likes them. She's ready to do another one! Ben and I may prefer the 12-piece barnyard animal puzzles. At least they don't take up the kitchen table for days on end!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Down Time

Anna June seemed overwhelmed by school, Halloween, and vacation all at once, so I made her an offer I knew she wouldn't refuse: let's stay home this weekend.

By stay home, I mean fewer errands to run, fewer meals out, and no extraneous commitments.We are skipping date night to stay home with AJ - we may watch a movie.

AJ has been excited for this all week.

We've started a 500 piece puzzle, and she's currently playing with her dolls. She has read them books and taken them places.

We still had to go to swim lessons, but came back after lunch.

She loves pretending. She invented something called "rose garden time" when she could do whatever she wanted.

That reminded me of something I've had on the fridge, saving for a post. She invites her imaginary friends over for parties. The guest list for one was recently saved:

I hope they all had a good time.

My rose garden time is over and I have to get back to laundry.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Tech Support

Some nights, Anna June goes to bed and I think, "I want to blog, but I have a computer question." Those are usually the same nights as when the help desk looks like this by 9 PM.
Forget it. I will ask later.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Just the Right One

Anna June and I went to the Pumpkin Patch on Sunday, October 27. We took our time riding all the rides and seeing the sights, until it started to get late and I encouraged the all-important hayride to the field. We had saved it for last, because it was a long way to lug a heavy gourd.

Each year, we've gone late in October, so I have never seen these pumpkins still on the vine. We were able to see some trampled yellow flowers, which makes me think that the pumpkins really did grow there instead of somewhere else.

AJ wanted a big one, so she picked it out. It ended up being a beautiful jack-o-lantern.

In this photo, AJ is sporting:
Her new haircut from the day before (news alert - she is growing her bangs out. But if she complains, they will be cut again immediately.)
Hair clips to contain said growing bangs
Orange shirt that was actually very appropriate but she thought was kind of red
Gingham skirt with rick rack - long enough for church, but fun enough for the farm
Striped socks
Brand new size 13 white Sketchers sneakers. Yes, she has her sneakers from August but she wanted an additional pair. I could not say no, since I bought some very comfortable shoes for myself at the same time, and so did Ben. Actually, he bought the same exact make and model he had before.

It ended up being great weather, and, although it was crowded, it was not unbearable. Last year, we went with AJ's whole class and this year it was just the two of us. I almost didn't offer to take her, but she asked and, well, there's only going to be so many more years that she wants to go. So we had a good time in the sun that day.