Wednesday, June 24, 2015

It's a Sin...

Anna June loves to read, and there are so very many books in the world I want her to read one day.

Of course, since we live in Alabama, To Kill a Mockingbird is near the top of the list.

Ben pointed out a cat (or other predator) got to a bird in our yard.

Here is the evidence.

Which made me think of this:

                                                                                        (Quote source is here)

But I guess that cats can't read.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day 2015

Anna June sure does love her daddy. She even chose to dress like him on this particular day. They have now watched all 6 Star Wars films together and now hard bread sticks are light saber duels.

Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

One Fun Thing: Roller Skating

Anna June has been roller skating several times now, and each time she gets better.

Here is a terrible picture of her way out in the center of the rink. She is in yellow.

Last time, I did not get out on the rink but on Saturday, June 6, I did.

I fell twice and that was the end of my experiment.

AJ and I were there - just the two of us - and all I could think about was how I was going to be able to drive home if I fell and broke my wrist, so I stopped.
We were going to try to go early enough for the free lessons at 11:00, but we didn't make it. We could both use them. I wish I had gone to lessons when I was AJ's age. 

Instead, AJ offered me some advice, in retrospect. "I just look at what the good skaters are doing and try to do that."

So I hope you learn from the masters at something.

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Rundown - Throwback Edition

Anna June is enjoying her summer, and we are too. I knew I had a bunch of blog posts in draft mode but I had no idea I had more than 20. I may share them and I may not.

Evidently, this is the kind of stuff I was wanting to write about in 2012. That's right - 3 years ago. AJ was 4. I actually do miss those times, just like everyone said I would. She has grown into such a big girl - it's hard to get over what it was like when she was so LITTLE!

Here's my 2012 draft in red, with 2015 comments in black.

Anna June had another fabulous weekend, and, well, we're a little run down. So here's the rundown on what all we did to get so tired:

- AJ and her dad had a breakfast date at Big Blue Bagel on Saturday morning. They've decided it should be called Little Blue Bagel, because their bagels really aren't that big. They had the place to themselves, and AJ had her usual, a blueberry bagel with blueberry cream cheese. That place is closed now. So closed. It has been at least 2 other restaurants since then. We miss it, but not enough to go to a different bagel place.
- They also fit in a trip to Home Depot to get a new dryer vent, because ours did not survive Ben's repairing our dryer. However, the amazing part is that Ben diagnosed the problem (thanks to an internet search), ordered the part, installed it correctly, and it all works fine now. Have you ever seen a whole dryer taken apart? It looks scarily simple. But our dryer is stacked on top of our washer, giving the challenge a whole new level. I'm bursting with pride at my husband's repair skills, but, no, I won't hire him out. We bought our washer and dryer in 2008, right before AJ was born. It's almost time for a new one. Ben took apart the lint area and cleaned it out recently. It was truly disgusting and I am so grateful for his help - now the lint trap will sit correctly in the machine.
- AJ watched Song of the South, which was the first movie I ever saw in the theater. Needless to say, I am not surprised this film is no longer available. There are lots of issues that I won't discuss now, but there are some endearing qualities, such as family transcending race and class, and, most of all, the power of story itself as transformative. I took a break from watching it with her to work on laundry, and I heard the dramatic music coming and I knew the scene I didn't really want to watch was on. I rushed in and asked AJ if she was ok - she's easily scared. I asked her if Johnny got hurt by the bull and she said no. I don't know how she missed that major plot point. But she was pretty excited by the fact that his dad came home. AJ now misses nothing. She likes to dispute the minor details of what happened if she thinks I am exaggerating or off-topic.
- We went to Southside for the St. Patrick's Day Parade. We went early for lunch at Chick-fil-A (a different location than the Gallitz formal dining room) and ended up seeing AJ's Uncle Drew, who hung out with us to eat. Then, we went up the hill to meet AJ's friend Mallory and her 3-month-old baby brother, Silas. We all went to the parade. The girls had a good time, and ended up with a lot of loot. It was unseasonably warm, though. I think the highlight of it was getting some vanilla milk at Starbucks. Incidentally, that was the strongest thing any of us drank that whole day. We totally skipped the parade this year. We had more important things to focus on, like baseball.
- Nap time didn't happen. Can I just say that my life is so much happier now that my kid doesn't take naps? The fighting was worse than the napping vs. not napping. AJ did take a nap when she was coming down with a cold about a week or two ago, but other that that, we nap way more than she does. We like giving her free time and the rest. She's not ready to stay home alone, but she can be unsupervised with us (sleeping) in the house sometimes.
- AJ asked if we could have a picnic in our yard, and, since the weather was so nice, we decided to give it a try. She had a complete meltdown over the placement of the picnic blanket, but she recovered. We ended by playing ball with Radar in the yard. Dear Lord, thank you for the letup of the incessant meltdowns over almost nothing. Even if she lost her curls, this was a good tradeoff to growing up.
- Sunday morning had AJ up before we were out of bed, completely dressed to her shoes. I didn't have the heart to tell her that with temps in the 80s, she was going to fry in that velvet dress. I have made a temperature/appropriate dress chart that has saved us from these conversations, although we are not perfect.
- Church, and ad hoc choir rehearsal. AJ decided to color and play hide-and-seek while we practiced. Thank goodness, she can entertain herself.
- Lunch at Wendy's, where AJ ate every single bite of her cheeseburger and apple slices, and drank all of her milk. She is still not the best eater in the house. At least she can fix her own sandwich if she gets hungry now.
- Nap time, once again, didn't happen. See above on going with the flow.

This is how she looks in 2015 - like she actually needs a nap.

Thursday, June 18, 2015


While the other girls at Anna June's art camp were painting self-portraits, AJ decided to go a different direction.

I just had to get a picture before it meets the recycling bin, at the artist's request.

She has enjoyed watching the Brewers with her dad this year. He is enjoying spending time with her and teaching her more about baseball. Last night, he tried to teach her the names of all 30 MLB teams.

I won't say he's enjoying the Brewers themselves, who are a bunch of bums this year.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Welcome, Thomas!

Anna June is very pleased to announce the arrival of her baby cousin, Thomas Blake Tucker. He was born on April 2. He was born weighing 7 pounds and 60 oz., standing 20" tall.

PS - Yes, I'm just now blogging now that he's 2 months old.

AJ and I visited him at the hospital the day he was born.

Then, we went back on Easter while they were still in the hospital. We brought his banana from the Easter Monkey and some food for the exhausted but happy parents. Uncle Ben came along this time to meet the little guy.

We're very proud and happy to have Thomas among us. He is busy growing - eating, sleeping and taking in the world around him.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

One Fun Thing: Play Date at the Beach

Before we left for the beach, I asked Anna June what she was most looking forward to on our trip. "Playing with Lindsay!" she said, without hesitation.

In case there was any chance I would conveniently forget to call Aunt Helen's house to set things up once I arrived in Florida, the look on her face made it disappear.

Although we had talked about going to the water park, we decided to do the simpler thing and just have Lindsay hang out with us on the beach for a while on Saturday morning, before it got too unbearably hot. As it turns out, Lindsay's mother wasn't feeling well and doesn't like the beach anyway, so Aunt Helen dropped her off with us. When she got there, she told us that Lindsay had been up for hours, completely dressed and ready to go before anyone else was up.

So it wasn't just AJ who was ridiculously excited about the play date.

The girls got in their swimsuits and we headed down to the beach. They played and played and played. They dug in the sand and chased the waves. Ben and I took turns keeping an eye on them, sometimes in the water, sometimes from the shore.

They wore us out.

Eventually, we got hungry and hot so we headed back, changed and rinsed off, and went to eat at Thomas Donuts. Lindsay is notoriously picky, so she basically ate French fries for lunch. The rest of us had slightly more reasonable fare, although AJ's hot dog eating habits are bizarre: she will eat the meat, and then the bun with ketchup. The whole point of the bun is lost on her.

Anyway, we then took Lindsay back home, and the girls were super sad to be ending their time together.

I snapped one last picture before we left:

Sunday, June 14, 2015

No One Wants to Vacation with Me

Anna June, Ben and I got back from a short beach vacation on Sunday, May 31. I love the beach. But I also have some strong opinions about what I want and don't want to do on vacation that makes it hard for others to love me when I am on vacation. Here are some examples.

1. I do not like to clean on vacation. This includes washing dishes and clothes. But the DIY vacation rentals on the Gulf Coast pretty much have you doing both. We stayed in my cousin Ginger's studio apartment behind her beach cottage. It was wonderful, and just the right size for us. But I didn't plan ahead to buy paper dishes and we ended up using some cups and plates. It didn't take long at all to wash the dishes, and if I had really wanted, I could have gone back out to Target or a different store to get some. Which brings me to my next problem...

2. I do not like to go shopping on vacation, unless it is for souvenirs. I tried instituting a NO TARGET rule while we were out of town. When we spent our "babymoon" at the cottage, we found ourselves in the Target maternity section so I could buy a swimsuit - I had no idea I was "showing" at the time and that my old suit wouldn't stretch that far. It was a necessity, but an annoying one.

3. I want to see and do everything. Of course, this conflicts with the point of vacation - to rest. We did not experience anything new on this trip.

4. Ancillary to #3 - I like eating at new places. But Ginger's cottage, which actually has a name - Paz Del Mar - is two doors down from Thomas Donuts. When we pulled up, we saw a banner saying they were now open for dinner instead of just breakfast and lunch. So we ate there five times in four days. I am not too sad about this, as it kept us out of traffic and other terrible establishments. We went to eat at a pizza place that Ben remembered as being good but I remembered as taking way too long. It took way too long and we had leftovers to deal with.

5. More powerful than my need to rest is my need to not feel guilty. If my relatives are in the area, well, I feel guilty if we don't go see them. We are blessed with family all up and down the Gulf Coast. In Panama City, for example, is my great aunt Helen and her daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter, Lindsay, who is about a year older than AJ. When they were all in Birmingham for Grandma Hazel's funeral, the two girls played together like best friends. So when I said we'd come visit them when we went to the beach, I meant it. We ended up going to Aunt Helen's for dinner and then having Lindsay come play at the beach on Saturday morning for a few hours. My guilt was absolved, and AJ had a lot of fun playing with another kid.

6. I burn. My skin is almost transparent, it is so pale. People refer to it as "porcelain." When I buy makeup, I just go for the lightest shade - the one at the Clinique counter used to be called "01- Pale." So it is inevitable that every year, despite my best sunscreen choices, I will burn. This year, Ben was napping and AJ was playing, so I didn't get either of them to put sunscreen on my back. After we had been in Florida less than 24 hours, my entire back became as red as a lobster, including fingerprint marks showing just where I could reach. It would be funny if it hadn't been so painful.

7. Going back to #4, I don't like to eat at chain restaurants, especially fast food ones. I really can't stand it when we visit places that we have in Birmingham. We eat fast food all the time - I want vacation to be different. I could see eating at a chain that's not in our neighborhood. But we ate at McDonald's TWICE on this trip for the sake of convenience. So very sad.

8. I can't sleep, and I can't sleep in, either. Ever. Anywhere. In a space with all three of us, I am bound to keep someone up or wake someone up with my bathroom-going, snoring, tossing or iPad use when all other lights are out. It's out of kindness, really, that at home we can spread out.

9. I'm blogging all of this. OK, Maybe not all of it, but I may just put that photo online so don't do anything stupid or look bad.

10. I will probably cry. I cry easily, but one look at my too-big-too-fast daughter playing in the water all by herself and I burst into tears. Where does the time go? Why does vacation have to be so short? My life isn't that bad, so why do I need to escape it so thoroughly? Can we retire soon so we can move to the lake or, even better, the beach? Or maybe retire to a lake and still vacation at the beach?

The weather was perfect most of the time we were there. The waves were huge the first two days but calmer the last two. The water was crystal clear - we saw the fish nibbling our toes.

Now that the sunburn has peeled, I am ready to go back. But of course, no one will want to come with me.

One Fun Thing: McWane Science Center

Anna June has been going to the McWane Science Center since she was a wee lass. Before we went on Saturday, I had to tell her that she's actually too old for the new exhibit that everyone is raving about, "Itty Bitty Magic City."

That was OK. There were plenty of things to do there.

It was time to renew our membership, so we had to take care of that business first. Ben's employer has a discount program, and he won an even bigger discount in a drawing. Thanks, Protective!

Then, we went through all our favorite exhibits. A thing we had never done before was a kiosk of dinosaur trivia. In the category we chose, paleontology, we got 100% of the questions correct (8 out of 8). I didn't take Earth Science in college for nothing!

A big hit was the current exhibit, Toytopia. It was a history of toys (which made me feel as old as the dinosaurs on the second floor). There were plenty of toys to play with, including bins of Lego and Duplo blocks, toy trains, and vintage video game machines. If you have some quarters and some spare time, you can actually play games like Space Invaders and Ms. Pac Man. It was fun for me, even though AJ did not try them. Instead, she played with life-sized Tinker Toys, building a house.

Here she is in a Life-Sized Monopoly Car.

But the main new thing AJ tried on Saturday was the High Cycle. This thing is on the second floor, looking down on the first. There are lots of nets, but basically, you ride a bicycle backwards and then forwards. It's a short distance but you're 3 floors up! You have to be 48" tall to ride. AJ passed that a long time ago.

Here's how high up it was for some perspective:

I don't think she was nervous waiting in line, but she was perhaps exasperated with all the picture taking.

Here's a quick video that demonstrates AJ's time on the ride.

20150613 150923 from SRG on Vimeo.

She was not scared a bit.

Overall, not a long trip, but a good one.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Summer Fresh

Anna June was very patient on Thursday night when we dragged her to Best Buy with us after dinner.

Our mission was clear: I wanted a new laptop. Ours is on the older side, and even Ben was experiencing problems so serious that he pulled out a different device to simply compose an email the other night.

With all the meetings I have been going to, and will be going to this year as PTA treasurer, I thought now would be a good time to get a new laptop. I can have important data with me at all times. I can generate reports on the fly. I can attend group video chats.

I can also blog.

It's sad that I have plenty of other devices around with which to write, but the idea of blogging from anywhere with an actual full size keyboard appealed to me. Let's not talk about how many other things I have.

So if you see me around town, I may have my new pal with me.

I'm writing this on the new Gallitz family Lappy 486, in homage to our favorite internet cartoon character, Strong Bad. His laptop had a battery charge that could last for five minutes, or as he put it, half of ten minutes.

Welcome, Lappy. I hope you increase my posting record, which has been abysmal in 2015 - worse even than the Brewers' record.