Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Anna June, as I mentioned yesterday, still likes puzzles.

On Saturday, while I went to get a massage, she and Ben worked a couple of puzzles. Here is one of them.

On Monday night, I let AJ do this one really quickly - all by herself - after her bath:

I don't think we need any new puzzles, as I am not sure we've worked all the ones we have. We're still working on our game closet, trying to review each game and see if it still meets our needs, donating the ones that don't. It's a long process, as family game night has been eclipsed by Brewers games, homework, errands, cooking, and generally anything else that is going on. The game closet needs a total makeover after we purge - maybe we can add another shelf. As it stands now, we nearly have an avalanche each time we reach for a game or puzzle.

I am so glad, though, that AJ has a knack for putting things together!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Second Grade: The Update

Anna June's school year is flying by.

I don't know what I can tell you about school, except that she's doing remarkably well.

She has made all A's so far. Her progress report, 4.5 weeks in (halfway through the 9 week grading period) was not only all A's but almost all 100s. This is possibly because the teacher treats homework as extra credit. I have mixed feelings about that strategy, but needless to say, we insist that she does her homework, if for no other reason than to get in the habit. I suspect that most of the time, she actually likes it.

She usually finishes her work early in class and gets to read. I've talked to her teacher a few times and AJ seems to be very well-behaved - there aren't ever any problems to report. 

She has a lot of friends. She often tells me stories of being an unofficial playground mediator between her friends and other kids. When she's not practicing for her future legal career, she also seems to find a lot of change on the playground. Evidently, children do not understand money or gravity, and when they have change in their pockets and turn upside down on the monkey bars, etc., their money gets ground into the playground pebbles for her to find. We've started a special piggy bank for these coins and will eventually buy something for the school to give back.

A little boy in her class has started calling her names like "slowpoke." Either second graders deal in irony or else he just hasn't seen her run.

Anna June has decided not to take the CityDance program offered in After School Care. She claims she did not like dance class, although she does like to dance. We have agreed, although it seems to be a good (free!) opportunity.

She is playing fall baseball - there's another post on that coming, I promise.

She still likes to sing, play games, work puzzles, build things, make crafts, play with her dolls, and read. Current favorite TV shows seem to be Power Rangers and She-Ra, both available on Amazon Prime. Current favorite books still seem to be anything funny. Current favorite songs may include "Shake it Off" by Taylor Swift and "Roar" by Katy Perry. I say "may" because it changes constantly.

I am posting this right now because I started thinking to myself about what on earth I was like at seven years old. I have no idea what I liked to do back then - maybe read and watch TV. I remember being seven, as in, I remember who my friends were, my teacher's name, and that I had a new baby brother, but I don't remember what TV shows I liked, what music I listened to, or what I thought about.

As to what AJ is thinking about, it is anyone's guess. She can come out of left field remembering something that happened weeks ago, or she can start a brand new topic of inquiry. She's not afraid to ask us questions, which is good, although we do not always have answers - thank goodness we can search the internet.

AJ says she is scared of spiders, but she drew this web:

Here's a picture AJ made in art class recently:

More later.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Fortune Tellers or Cootie Catchers

Somehow, Anna June got introduced to these origami creations. They're called cootie catchers or fortune tellers. They have a color-number system and you open up a certain flap and learn your future.

Not that long ago, AJ got an origami kit from a kid's meal and then another one in an Easter basket or something. She got really frustrated really fast and both ended up in the trash. I thought she would like folding paper, as she likes making paper airplanes and other crafts. They seem very logical and much up her alley.

But she didn't.

This time, though, she wanted to play the game with them, so Ben helped find her a YouTube video and she has been making these things non-stop this week.

There are five on this counter in this picture. I made her collect them from the various rooms of the house. (Photo by Anna June, by the way.) She has given three away so far, so that's at least 8 that she's made.

It's been fun to watch the things she has put under the flaps. "You will have a baby sister." "Your lucky number is 19."

Ben encouraged her to make a Fast Food Fortune Teller. On nights when we just can't make a decision as a family, we can do the spelling out of the color (G-R-E-E-N) and the number (1-2) and choose a flap to pull. I'm pretty sure Ben has already figured out how to get "You will eat at Chick-fil-A" as the answer each time. AJ even got Radar to choose last time - he pointed his nose at the choice. That's pretty impartial - let Radar choose!

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Fruits of Our Labors

Anna June didn't get to go anywhere fancy like the beach, lake or river for Labor Day weekend. Instead, we went to her room.

(Warning - this is a long post. I haven't posted in a while - sorry!)

About three years ago, we repainted her room. I think I've been promising since then to show how it looks with her stuff in there.

I have not done this because I have been very embarrassed at the state of her room. Every now and then, we'd go through some aspect of her stuff (her clothes, her stuffed animals, her desk) and declutter a bit. But we never made it to camera-ready.

Recently, Ben went shopping and asked if I needed anything. I told him to be on the lookout for a shelf for AJ's room. I meant a bookshelf, but he came back with a decorative shelf, which, as it turns out, we also needed. (I should have been more specific.)

On the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, we went to Target to buy a couple of bookshelves so I could get this show on the road. AJ and Ben put them together, and then AJ and I got down to work. I supervised, mostly by holding things up and asking the question she got very sick of, "Keep or toss?" We actually threw away about four grocery bags of trash, and gave away about that many bags of usable items to the local charity thrift store. You don't realize how many kid's meal toys or birthday party favors you end up with until you just accumulate them for seven years.

We started by putting all the boxes on the shelves, as was my vision. She has a separate jewelry box for rings, and one for earrings, and one for ponytail holders, one for other hair items, etc. Before the shelves, they were kind of stacked on the floor. We had made previous attempts at organizing, but we really had to go through each box again to re-do it. I discovered what I had suspected was true - each time I told AJ to "clean" her room, she just threw things into whatever container was handy, resulting in toys in the clothes, clothes in the toys, hair things in the art box, etc.

So we worked from Saturday at lunchtime until supper on her room, making significant progress. On Sunday morning, we tackled her toy organizer, my least favorite part of her room. It is not in a very convenient place, but AJ insists she can still get to the toys she needs where it is. Now that we've made it clear what belongs in what bin (although we stopped short of labeling them), I think it is more reasonable.

The change I have seen is that this weekend, she was able to play with her toys when she was home. I gave her a five minute warning before it was time to leave, so she would have time to put away whatever she was playing with. I think there was a doll school and a picnic that she had to disassemble. But she did it without complaining. All the dolls are in their respective homes (for now) and ready to be played with again. Meanwhile, I have the floor space in the den and will not hurt my foot or break toys by stepping on them in her room. Wins all around.

Obviously, there are many things I'd like to do but haven't. I'd love to see her get rid of many more toys, especially the big ones. But I think that now that some of the junk is out of the way she can really see the toys she likes and actually play with them. 

So here we go with the pictures, before it gets messed up again.

Here is her bed. There's a dust ruffle on it, but as AJ pointed out to me, it has gotten shoved back and you can't see it right now. Instead, you can see the table-top air hockey game stored under her bed. And the knot-a-quilt project we (I) made recently is there for times when she needs an extra blanket.

This is her desk. There are lots of art supplies on or in it. Right now, there's a to-be-read pile of books on her desk. We're trying to get through these before we delve into any of the three or four series of books we have hanging around waiting for us. Some of these we read to her, and some she reads to herself. If we need to use the desk right now, we move the pile.

Here are the new shelves! I am so proud of these and so happy they have joined us! There's finally a place for her stuffed animals (I bought the bins probably years ago now, because they were on sale and matched the color of her room.) You can also see there's a poster for both Frozen (a phase she's getting out of) and Star Wars (a phase she is getting into). The baseball bat and bag are in front of the shelves because I was tired of kicking them around the kitchen. They'll be used again this week. The stuffed doorstop cat, Petra, is still very lifelike and catches people off-guard. You can also see her shelf of Precious Moments figurines. A while back, I asked for a shelf to hold them, and the auction house delivered (thanks, Nana, Granddaddy and Drew)!

Here is the shelf that Ben bought. We actually needed a place for her baseball memorabilia. You can see her baseball picture and trophy, along with a handmade card from Aunt Connie, a baseball made out of a paper plate she made at UAB camp, her game ball (in a case), the ball she got at the Brewers' game and the Bob Uecker bobble-head we got the same day.

We hung the shelf pretty securely to the wall, so when we ended up with a Jonathan Lucroy caricature from the State Fair (thanks Grandpa and Grammy!) we couldn't decide exactly where it should go. So it goes next to the baseball stuff for now.  Again you can see how she's not quite a baby anymore but just starting to be a big kid with her cross-stitch birth announcement from Aunt Connie next to her MLB baseball stuff.  The top of her chest-of-drawers is also a work-in-progress.

We were going pretty good until now. Here are the big toys. A big doll needs big toys, and, well, Lily Anna is a big doll. It is just coincidence that it is a combo of AJ's name and her best friend's name. We found a place to stash her bike, but the tent and the horse are still underfoot. They can't go in the closet - it's packed. Right now, they're movable and in a little cluster near the toy box. We already had the high chair, large cat, etc. so we're used to just kicking things around.

Here's another good part: the bookshelf. We worked on this a different weekend. We read a bunch of the books she didn't remember she had, and decided whether to keep or donate them. Now we have room for the vintage Wizard of Oz series our neighbors gave us (thanks Stella and Jimmy!). And I see I need to add her "six" shirt to a canvas and get it hung.

Over by the bookshelf is the window. My only constant request is that the air vent not be blocked. So far, so good.

Finally, we have the wall containing 3 of AJ's sticker-by-number projects, and the toy organizer, which, for now, is fairly organized.

So that's the grand tour. We're not ready for Better Homes & Gardens yet, but at least I have not felt like screaming every time I walk in there.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Nail Art, Sort Of

On Thursday of last week, Anna June woke up with her eyes matted shut. It wasn't a terrible case, but one of her eyes was red enough for me to declare that it was most likely a (mild) case of pinkeye. Conjunctivitis and the Gallitzes have met before, but it was a few years ago.

We decided to keep AJ at home, as this stuff is contagious, and I didn't want to be the mom that sends the kid to school and gets the whole class sick.

So we stayed home.

Anna June watched a movie while I did some work on my laptop. We ate. Then, we did some other low-key things, like reading a book together and watching TV. Eventually, I called the pediatrician and got some eye drops called in, verifying that she could return to school the next day.

Besides the quick trip to Publix for the Rx, we stayed home all day, mostly in our pajamas. (I had been in a dress, heels and jewelry when I woke her up. Ask me how fast I got back in my nightgown once I decided she wasn't going to school.)

I suggested that we paint our nails, and AJ decided it would be a good time to use the Hot Designs nail kit (As Seen on TV)! We've tried this before, to mixed results.

Unfortunately, each kit does not contain the same colors, and the designs shown in their how-to booklet are impossible without having the correct kits.

We didn't look up this tutorial, but this is a link to how one woman implemented the watermelon design, which AJ really, really wanted to try.

I told her we didn't even have black nail polish for seeds, and offered to get her some when we were next out, but she decided that silver would work.

This was our finished product.

It's a terrible picture of a terrible job, but it wasn't too bad for a sick day.

I've been promising ever since to remove the nail "art" but haven't gotten around to it. I am sure it will flake off eventually. :)