My Fun-Sized Entrepreneurs

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Now that we've successfully managed and organized all of our Christmas acquisitions, the girls have started on a new mission.

Their goal?

To purchase a bevy of accessories for their American Girl dolls.

Because girls need accessories, you know.

After carefully perusing the American Girl Doll catalog, making a spreadsheet of everything they need want, and price-checking against Our Generation products at Target, they have devised a plan for getting everything their dolls could have ever hoped to have.

This stuff is not for the faint of heart, y'all. The grand total for everything they wanted on round one was $2116.29 (tax included), and they managed to whittle it down to $1186.42. We are definitely on the "baby steps" track for this endeavor.

My little entrepreneurs, who are truly their father's children when it comes to things like this, decided to have a sale this morning. We started out with hot cocoa and other goodies...

And Texas weather being Texas weather, they were quick to make an adjustment for the afternoon...

Pretty safe to say they made out like bandits. It's also pretty safe to say that now they want to have some sort of a sale every day until they've earned enough to buy all things on their wish lists.

I'm always amazed by the generosity of neighbors, friends, and strangers in their efforts to support kids. There were so many people who stopped by just to give tips (I swear the cookies were good!), and so many people who made multiple visits for more goodies!

Okay - we're settling in for some Harry Potter deliciousness...

Muggles, beware.


Giving Hearts

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Happy Holidays to you and yours!

"Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give." 
~Eleanor Roosevelt

This was the first Christmas where the girls were more into finding and giving the perfect gifts than getting them, and oh my goodness - it made this year a seriously wonderful holiday to experience! 

Don't get me wrong. We've definitely had our moments of  watching too much TV...

But those moments have been leveled off with Jay inventing our favorite playlists...

Mixed in with a few tears of sheer exhaustion...

Counterbalanced by some fabulous sister secrets...

And sprinkled with the news of a new little guy who will soon be a huge part of our lives!

In in the midst of all of the hustle and bustle, I officially received four of my five most favorite gifts ever. In addition to last year's ornament (number 5), this year I received the most perfectly homemade ornament from Jay, a Paul Frank ornament and a coffee mug wearing a green sweater (to stay warm, obviously) from both girls, and a ridiculously soft and cozy Vera Bradley blanket of my very own...from Cee.


Melt. My. Heart.

We have spent as much time as possible outside during the past week. The weather has been perfect December weather (for Texas), and we got a little SoundFreaq friend who has changed our world for the better. No longer do we look like those odd people who walk around with their music blaring out of their front pockets as if they're some sort of walking, self-programmed, mobile juke box robot (no offense if that's you). Nope - now we have good sound where ever we go, and I have to say this innovation is a wonderful thing!

Long breaks with the girls (15 days together!) are just plain good for my soul, and I think they're good for their sweet souls, too.

However, I can't disregard the fact that I have seen tons of negativity and complaining on FaceBook this season, and I'm not even talking about the Duck Dynasty debacle or any of the other "news-y issues" that have happened in the last week. I'm talking about down right complain-y stuff that just makes me want to hide people's posts from my news feed.

And I hate that, because it goes directly against the grain of my personal happiness initiative.

Christmas pictures? Love 'em. Family photos? Warm my heart. Sweet holiday expressions? I'm a sucker for those, too. Desperate, gloomy Gus negativity? During the most wonderful time of the year? Not really my thing at all.

If there is one thing I have learned over the course of the last five years, it's that each of us are in charge of creating our own happiness. Everyone faces their own demons on at least a daily basis, and it is absolutely up to each of us as to how we choose to a) deal with those obstacles and b) react to those obstacles.

For me and my girls, we choose happiness each and every day. Our glass is half full, not half empty. Each day is full of possibilities and great challenges, not full of roadblocks or obstacles. Each of our relationships with others are full of blessings and love, not full of shortcomings or should have/could haves. We are lucky to encounter a community full of a few incredible friends, not a world full of enemies.

I hope that you and your families had a wonderful and blessed Christmas, and I hope that you and your loved ones are planning to ring in the New Year with full hearts, open eyes, and loving minds.

Here's to a fulfilling 2013 and a 2014 that is full of prosperity!

With these two by my side, I can't imagine welcoming the New Year in any other way!

Happy Holidays, and Happy 2014...


It Worked (Sort Of)...

Sunday, December 15, 2013

George's arrival was a tremendous success!

They instantly loved him.

So much so that they made a quilt for him.

And one for Jerry, too, because, "When Jerry gets back, he is going to be worn smooth out...and cold, too."

When I say they made quilts, I mean we made quilts. They cut out the squares, I did the sewing. And the cooking. And the cleaning. And the laundry. And checked over the homework. And created the requisite Action Planning/Professional Developing for my Certification Program.

I already love being a two-Elf household. I think the girls will, too.

Uncanny resemblance, no??

No more Elf posts. I promise.


Twice the Fun

Saturday, December 14, 2013

I feel like I've done a fair job of taming my Elf posts in the last couple of years - for awhile there, I was a little out of control, and I was secretly hoping for an Elf interventionist somewhere around the 8th day of Christmas. I know there are lots of anti-Elf people out there, but I'm definitely not wired to be one of them (and I'm definitely not wired to not be one of them).

When Jerry the Tiny Elf finally made his way back to our house this year (on Nov. 28), the girls immediately had a whole slew of questions for him.

What do you do in the off-season, Jerry? 

What's your side job? Do you moonlight?


What sports do you like? 

Jerry, how exactly do you make it to and from the North Pole every single night?


Where's your coat, young man?

Is there a Mrs. Jerry? 


Have you ever considered capitalizing on your fame and marketing yourself for some of the other well-recognized holidays, Jerry? 

So, tell me, Jerry, how exactly does this whole Elf thing work, and what do you do to give back to charitable causes each year?


You know, casual, non-heavy, light-hearted questions like those.

Jerry the Tiny Elf did a decent job of fielding those questions, but he also accidentally left a heart on one of his letters that Jay deemed to be very similar to the hearts I draw.

JFTB, I need you (and your left handed chicken squabble and cute candy cane ginger bread architect-esque sketches).

Every since then, Jerry the Tiny Elf has been trying to lay a little lower than usual, has refrained from leaving any more notes, and has been hanging onto his receipts strictly for the purposes of charitable tax write-offs.

These are tough times, people.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

And because I'm the anxious worrier analytic type, I started to realize that the reason they were asking about an extra Elf is because they are ridiculously competitive with one another, and I deduced that a second Elf just might be the key to allowing them to each have "ownership" of a visitor (and for the record, I absolutely and completely realize that this is the Elf equivalent of "a trophy for every kid, winners and losers alike." Judge me if you want - I'm at the point of "It's just whatever...").

And perhaps, if we are hypothetically talking about the future, an Elf for each of them would allow each child to have (in 24 and 27 years in the future when they're allowed to get married and start families of their own (35 is the magical number you're looking for...)) an Elf of their own.

Hypothetically speaking, of course.

My biggest struggle with this whole "two-Elf household" concept has been figuring out how a second Elf would magically appear without blatantly obliging the Target retail gods. Oh, and also I needed a really good back story in order for this gig to properly play itself out.

Last night while the girls were at a sleepover, I had a decent idea.

Those don't happen too often.

I thought, What if Jerry the Tiny Elf faced a weather diversion on his way from Texas back to the North Pole? And he stopped for the night in Kansas City (okay, fine, my first choice for a layover stop was Carey, Indiana), because he's a safe and responsible Elf and he isn't crazy about taking unnecessary risks? And while he's temporarily diverted, the lovely people at the North Pole rerouted another wayward Elf to our home? 

And furthermore, what if said Elf's origin was via B+N instead of TGT?

Two birds. One stone.

Score, y'all.

After my mad (and I do mean mad) dash to my 2nd favorite bookseller (RIP Borders), a second Elf was successfully ascertained and smuggled back home.

My next hurdle was to determine a name for said substitute Elf.

Jerry the Tiny Elf...

Jerry and Tom?  Too obvious.

Jerry and Jeff? Too goofy, even for Texans.

Jerry and Elaine Benes? Not very Christmas-y.

Elaine Jingle Benes? Too many obvious references to strippers and North poles.

Jerry and George...Hmmmm...

George Costanza...this could work.

I am pretty sure I am much too excited about this, but I cannot wait for the girls to meet George Cocoa Stanza when they wake up tomorrow morning!!

Long story short, let's allow us to go back to the beginning of this post. If you know of any good Elf interventionists, we still might be in need of one around here in the very near future.

Thank you CNN, Chicago, Mother Nature, and Barnes and Noble for providing the perfect storm for welcoming a new Elf into our home!!

I think Jerry the Tiny Elf and George Cocoa Stanza are going to get in lots of trouble together...that's how it should be, right?

I figured there was no better place for George to make his grand appearance...than napping under the girls' desk.

Hopefully someday they'll get my sense of humor?



Monday, December 9, 2013

It's no secret - I love Andy Borowitz. This video revelation of his (His, or him? I debated.) from 92Y last week is no exception...enjoy.

Click here for guaranteed chuckles...


Waning Innocence

Saturday, December 7, 2013

One thing I have tried incredibly hard to do as a mother is maintain a sense of innocence in Cee and Jay. Just about a year ago, we lost a little bit of innocence with Cee with the holiday season, and I think that has made it much more difficult for me to get into the spirit this year. She is working so hard to play along for Jay, and that means the world to me.

There is still a strong sense of innocence in each of them, but recently I've realized that little pieces are being chipped away, one piece at a time, and there is nothing at all that I can do about it. When I have the chance to catch true moments of "new," I want to capture them, wrap them up, and hold onto them forever.

A few weeks ago, someone in Cee's class said something to the effect of, "Well, her mom never should have had her." 5th grade, y'all. Cee came home with a bevy of questions because until that moment, it had never occurred to her that there was such a thing as choice, or that someone's parents may not want them, or that anyone shouldn't actually be here.

In all fairness, the little girl who said it is the daughter of an Ob-Gyn, so her knowledge of physiology is probably on a substantially different level than Cee's. But still, that kind of content isn't something I was ready to deal with for at least a few more years.

Last week, Jay was introduced to her first racial slur. I don't get to walk my girls in to school very often, so I don't know all of their friends. That's one of the downsides of being a teacher who has to be at school 10 minutes (and several miles) after she can actually drop off her own children. Jay has told me about her good friend R at least a hundred times this year. Until Wednesday, I didn't know much about R other than what a sweet friend she is and how much fun she and Jay have when the play together.

When I picked Jay up on Wednesday, she told me that two kids called her friend R a mean name during lunch, that it really upset R, and it made her cry. I asked her what mean name they called R, and Jay said, "They called her a tigger because she has darkish skin. Momma, what does that mean?"

Ugghh. That moment absolutely broke my heart.

On one hand, I didn't want to tell her the real word, but on the other hand, I didn't want her to hear it from other kids and presume it was even an option, ever. So I told her, and I watched closely as her little wheels processed this revelation.

With both girls, in the different, but similar at the same time, situations, I felt really overwhelmed. There isn't anything that prepares you for these types of conversations, and I feel like I kind of just wing them and hope that I say the right things that address the issue without giving too much extra information. Just like in the classroom, I've learned that they need time to process what I tell them, and then they need to ask questions. Lots and lots of questions.

I'm the type of person who likes to find a silver lining in every less-than-ideal situation. It just helps me deal with it better in my own Pollyanna sort of way. I'm still waiting for the silver lining with these two instances, and I know eventually I will "get it" because that's just how things usually work for me. It takes me awhile to percolate, analyze, and reflect.

Over the last couple of weeks, the girls and I have realized that Browning is completely deaf, which is sort of a bummer. We'll catch each other calling him (with no response), and then someone yells, "He's deaf now!! Remember?"

We're all adapting and we're trying to teach him new signs for the things we like to tell him on a regular basis. He already knows the signs for sit, stay, lay down, speak, shake, high five, treat, and drop. It's the positive things we still want to make sure he knows...things like good boy, and we love you, and I'm not sure our feeble attempts at two-thumbs-up are translating adequately for him.

Like I said, I am always in search of a silver lining to any situation that isn't already great, and today I found Browning's silver lining. He is the sweet giant puppy who has been afraid of the vacuum since he was 8 weeks old.

Vacuum + Browning = Bad Combination.

As it turns out, he just wasn't a fan of the noise. Silver lining: the vacuum doesn't bother him any more.

Here's to hoping for a few more silver linings headed my way. I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and I hope you stay warm!! These two sweeties wouldn't want it any other way.


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