Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Overheard

Katie: Mama, whass dat book?

Me: That's the Bible.

Katie: Tells me so?


---------

Tommy's standard answer to the question, "What do you want for breakfast?":

"A cinnamon waffle cut up in wittle pieces with syrup on the pwate and syrup on the waffle."

Every time I've asked him for about the last year and a half. He's a very specific child.


----------


Last night at the dinner table:


Grace: Mama, why is there a bear on the Jungle Book movie when bears don't live in the jungle?

Me: I have no answer to that.

---------

Today I'm getting everyone's Halloween costumes ready. I've informed the kids they are shopping in their own closets this year (again) because we have fifty dress-up outfits. I'm thinking of putting together a costume of my own for the first time in years. I'm going as laundry. Feel free to steal it. I'm cutting a hole in a dollar store laundry basket, putting it around my waist, filling it with laundry, and safety pinning socks and a dryer sheet to my shirt. I thought about adding fairy wings and going as the laundry fairy, a mythical creature that I am always alluding to at my house. Example: "Why are these clothes on the floor? Did you think the laundry fairy was going to come by and get them?"

Total cost for the costume: $1.00

Embarrassing myself at Bible Study tomorrow morning when I'm the only one who shows up in costume: priceless.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Public Appearances

In life, I have discovered, unfortunately, that it is often necessary to take my children out in public. We tend to make a regular practice of it, actually. Frequently, our public outings go well, and we get our shopping or errands done without attracting too much attention to ourselves. My children, in my opinion, are generally well behaved out in public.

Now I'm not saying they don't have their moments. I can personally name at least 10 retail establishments in a five mile radius where I have carried one or more of my children screaming out of the store. In fact, I had the pleasure of doing so in Sears just earlier this week, after a mishap concerning a Spiderman coat. (They had all of the sizes except the one that fit, it seemed, and my son could not contain his disappointment.) The scenes my children can and do cause in public are brutal. They are not fun. And they are obvious to all who witness them.

Today, that did not happen. Today, I took my children on the train to go to the zoo, and they sat in their seats and chattered happily for the 40 minute ride. They exclaimed over the sights flying by outside the window: "Oh, a tunnel!" or "Here comes a bridge!" or "Look at the skyscraper!", but I did not really see this as misbehavior. In fact, it was a pretty pleasant, although crowded, ride.

When we boarded the train, it was difficult to find four seats together. A young man dressed as a thug stood up and gave me his seat, which allowed the four of us to sit close together. (On a side note, I have found that young men dressed as thugs on the train are always the nicest people. They always help me lift my stroller on and off the train or give me their seats. Every time. Go figure.) At the same time that we were sitting, an older middle-aged woman was heading toward the same seats. We got there first, and I apologized awkwardly, figuring since we were four people and she was one, and there were other single seats available, it really wasn't that much of a slight. Apparently it was.

We proceeded on our train ride, the children conversing at an excited, but reasonable decibel, and the woman standing near us, scowling and clinging to a pole. At one point, Tommy needed to be corrected, and I did so, and he cried. Loudly. But just for a moment. He caught my eye, which was giving him a mean Mommy look, and he immediately quieted down. (This is huge progress for him, by the way, especially compared to the Sears incident, and I was pleased.) The woman swore loudly, glancing over her shoulder at my son, shaking her head as if she was disgusted.

Tommy and I exchanged glances across the aisle, I smiled at him to let him know that he was fine, reminded him to keep his voice down on the train, and the ride continued as before. Twenty minutes later, the woman disembarked at her stop. Before she exited the train, she turned and said pointedly, "I sure hope those children don't treat your mother the way they have treated me!" and she got off in a huff.

Huh?

Now, I know there are crazy people on the train. Crazy and rude. In fact, another young man dressed as a thug made it a point to remind me of this as I picked my jaw up off the floor. I know that this woman clearly had some issues that didn't have anything to do with us. But it stayed in my mind for the rest of the day, and I found myself questioning my perception of what really happened. Were they really being too loud, and I'm just so used to the noise level that I don't notice it any more? Do my children seem obnoxious to the general public, while I think their behavior is fine?

I've been around people who let their kids run wild. I see these children misbehaving, and I watch their parents just sit there, oblivious. I get annoyed at these people. Just last week, when I was enjoying a few days without my kids, a woman near me was holding a screaming toddler and it grated my nerves. It wasn't that the baby was misbehaving, he was doing what babies do, and I could not stand it. I found myself muttering that she should just leave. But today, I found myself wondering if I had become that oblivious parent.

Today, my children were just doing what children do. They were talking. They were laughing. They were playing. And it was offensive to this woman.

Obviously, she was way out of line. However, she did strike a nerve in my own heart, revealing to me again my own sense of uncertainty when it comes to the huge responsibility that is Parenting. That nerve is a tender one, and it has been struck before, on playdates with super strict moms or in Sears when my child is having an absolute meltdown. I can't quite get that nerve to heal, it seems.

Thankfully, on the train ride home, there were some truly obnoxious children running up and down the aisle, and I smiled proudly to see my brood sitting obediently in their seats. It restored my faith in my own parenting back its normal level of inadequacy.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

For the Last Time

This really is the last day I post on this trip, I swear. To make up for the creepy spider from yesterday:



We continued our outing on Saturday by going just outside the park to Terlingua, TX for lunch at a Mexican restaurant (what else) and to buy junky souvenirs. There were a lot of weather-worn buildings and people, as well as an old cemetery, and here are some of my favorite photos:





We also did a little prison ministry. Actually, these are my goofy friends, Julie and Laura.

We returned Saturday afternoon for some more good cooking at the campsite, one more beautiful sunset coloring the mountains orange, more laughing and carrying on until the ranger shushed us, some more stargazing before going to bed, and one last visit from the skunk in the middle of the night before it was time to go home. The kids asked me why I never got a picture of the skunk. He came around almost every night, sniffing at our tent, and the ranger told us that if you keep food in your tent, the skunk knows how to unzip it with his nose. Well, thankfully we didn't have an 'encounter', but I wasn't about to chase it with a camera, either.
(the campsite at sunset, with Casa Grande Peak looming over)
My sister and I squeezed in one last hike on Sunday morning, a 5.2 mile round trip to the Window, which ends at the top of a waterfall.
(yes, that's me on another cliff, and Wendy didn't like it one bit)

That last hike was a worshipful one, fitting for a Sunday morning. We were just continually amazed at the beauty of God's creation, and I can't express how moving it was. At one point in particular, we came into a section of the trail that was just filled with orange and black butterflies. They were fluttering all around our heads, landing on plants, sitting on rocks, and it was just amazing.

At the very end of our hike, we were surprised by a doe and her two fawns, and it was just the perfect ending to a perfect vacation.


Well, if you've hung in there until this end of this, you must be either related to me or very resilient. Thanks for reading all of it, and I'll be writing about tantrums again very soon, most likely.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Just like Wordless Wednesday, Only With More Words

I'm going to try to finish blogging about my trip today, and soon I will get sarcastic musings about mommyhood again, but for now...hope you're ready for more pictures!

(more South Rim!)


(this reminds me of Kyla)

Friday: My sister and I hiked 8 miles down Boot Canyon and Pinnacles Trail to get back to where we started on Thursday. It was the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen. It was a much easier hike than the day before, partly because we didn't have as much water, but mostly because we were going downhill. Can you guess why they call it Boot Canyon?



(the Pinnacles Trail)


(Here's a little friend we made at the end of the trail. I want to give credit to my sister who took about five pictures of him while I jumped around and squealed like a little girl)


Saturday: We spent the day with our new friends, driving down the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive, 30 miles west to Santa Elena Canyon, where the Rio Grande River cuts a deep gash through the rock. We stopped for a few short desert hikes along the way, through Tuff Canyon and Homer Wilson Ranch.


(The Rio Grande, with Mexico on the left and Texas on the right)

Well, Blogger is acting funny, and I have a sink full of dishes calling my name, so I guess I will have to stretch this out one more day. I hope you'll indulge me just a little longer and come back tomorrow to see the rest.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Well, here goes...

I'm going to attempt to chronicle this trip as well as I can without publishing a novel. Since this is partly for my own remembrance, I'm going to go into a little more detail than I would normally do, but I'll try to keep it brief enough that people will still be reading it at the end.

Wednesday: Wendy and I drove through the flat West Texas landscape, which changed from cotton fields to oil wells to barren desert as the day wore on. The land became mountainous as we neared the park, and the view was spectacular.

Let me just stop and say right now that there are no words to describe the beauty that I saw there, and the pictures only capture a fraction of it. It is just breathtakingly, indescribably gorgeous.

We met my friend Julie, who brought four of her friends, and even though I hadn't met them before, they turned out to be an absolutely fun bunch of ladies. We had a great time, good food, and lots of laughter with them throughout the week.

Thursday: Wendy and I hiked the South Rim. I am so proud of this accomplishment I could bust. I have never done anything like this before. We loaded up our packs with two gallons of water, sleeping bag, tent, food for two days, and a map, and headed uphill. We asked some tourists in the parking lot to take our "Before" picture:

Please believe me when I say that those backpacks were HEA-VY and that by the time we got halfway up that hike we thought we were GOING. TO. DIE. We didn't, though, but by the time we got to our campsite, 6 miles up the trail, this is more what we looked like:


I call this picture "Siesta" or "My Feet Hurt", take your pick. We had an awesome campsite complete with its own overlook of the Southwest Rim, from which we could see the Rio Grande river, and the mountains of Mexico behind it. After our nap, we feasted on Summer Sausage, cheddar cheese, wheat thins, and PowerAde, and settled in to watch the sun set over the mountains.


One of the most striking things about sitting out there on the edge of the world was the silence. The only thing we could hear was the trees rustling in the wind and an occasional bird singing or insect whirring. We saw three people on the trail the entire day, who were headed back down the mountain, and when we got to the top we were in absolute solitude.

And the stars! I have never seen such a clear, star-filled sky. Each morning we woke up before the sun, and we just sat and watched the meteorites streak across the sky.

So that's the first two days. I'll try to condense the rest into one post for tomorrow.

Monday, October 22, 2007

A Goal Accomplished

Well, I returned safely from my Big Bend trip last night, and I've been mulling over how exactly I should post about it. I'm having trouble forming words that are adequate to describe the experience. I have about 500 photographs, and while I promise not to post all of them, there will be quite a few forthcoming, once I get them sorted out.

About a year ago, I wrote down in my journal a list of goals that I would like accomplish. One of them was to run a 5K, which I checked off this summer. Another was to hike to the South Rim at Big Bend National Park. Well, here I am:
My sister and I made it to the top. It was grueling, but worth it. Next on the list of goals: learn Spanish. Yikes.

I'll post some more pictures tomorrow. I'm off to the laundry room for now.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Care and Feeding of my Children

Instructions to my 3 friends, 1 babysitter, and busy husband who will be taking turns caring for the kids while I am out of town:

Grace: Offer her food at traditional mealtimes. Don't be surprised if she ingests about 10 calories' worth at each sitting. Try not to worry about it. If you look closely at her, you will see that she is visibly getting taller by the second even though she eats nothing. It's a mystery. She can keep herself busy for hours at a time with paper, scissors, Scotch tape, and crayons. Leave her alone in her room with these items and she is likely to come out with a paper sculpture of a Christmas village, complete with snow falling on the trees and a moving paper choo-choo train.


Tommy: Seems to thrive on a diet made up mostly of things dipped in ketchup. Also, he will say that he loves green beans, but what he means is he loves to take them apart and eat the tiny little seeds in the middle. Do not fall for this scam. This does not count as actually eating a whole vegetable. His favorite source of entertainment is the CD of 70's and 80's Party Music in the player in the dining room (a.k.a. 'dance floor'). His daddy is concerned with the amount of times he replays the Billy Idol songs on this CD, but I jammed to Billy Idol at many a high school dance and I seem to have turned out okay. So just let him shake his booty for a while shouting, "Well I feel all right, yeah" and he will be fine. If you get sick of Billy Idol (and you will), just switch the CD over to "Feelin' Hot Hot Hot" or "Twist" by the Fat Boys. Then at least you can jam along with him.

Katie: She will actually eat vegetables without making a scene. She is the only one. She likes to mix ranch and ketchup to make a nice pink sauce to dip them in. She will adamantly insist on wearing mismatched clothing. Try not to waste your time stressing over it, because she won't keep it on for long anyway. Soon she will be wearing mismatched princess dress-up clothing, and will run around saying, "I a princess dancer!" while she boogies on the dance floor to Billy Idol. Katie has a certain amount of time each day that she needs to be cuddled. If her quota is not met, her mood will reflect it. Try to enjoy this as much as you can, even though it is usually at the least convenient time of day, because it won't be long before she is as independent as the other two and won't want to sit in your lap at all.

Molly the Dog: She is used to being ignored, but you must remember to let her outside from time to time or she will become spiteful and poop in Katie's room. I have learned this the hard way. Also, if you pet her too much, she will become needy and follow you around all day trying to stare you down. It's best to just let her sleep behind the couch all day.

I have already accepted that the house will be in complete disarray when I get home. Any effort you can put forth to prevent this will be fruitless, but appreciated. Just shoot for keeping them dressed in clothing that doesn't smell too badly and eating off of moderately clean dishes, because that is the standard to which they are accustomed.

And make them brush their teeth. And their hair, for that matter. They will do neither voluntarily.


Thank you, thank you, thank you for taking care of my kids so I can escape for a few days. Give them lots of hugs and kisses for me while I am gone.

I'll be back next week!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The War at Home

The kids and I have been battling for some time now on the issue of cleaning up after themselves. It has escalated into a daily struggle. It usually goes like this: they make a mess, and then they look at me in shock when they are asked to clean it up. They sit there motionless for as long as possible, until I notice that they have not cleaned up, then I ask them to clean it up again, with a louder and firmer tone. They cry that they need help. If I help them, they sit there motionless waiting for me to clean up their mess. If I do not help, they continue to whine. Eventually, they do clean the toys up, but it is too often after a series of increasingly unpleasant consequences, ahem. This cycle has repeated itself too many times for my liking.

I'm taking a parenting class at church called Love and Logic for Early Childhood, and it has actually been really helpful in a lot of areas. The theory from the book on this particular issue is that I should ask the child, one time, "Do you want to clean up your toys or shall I?" and if they don't clean it up, I should say, "No problem," and proceed to take away the toys. No yelling. No nagging. No lecturing. No warnings. No repeating myself. This is the theory. Easier said than done.

Then, according to the book, my child will learn from these consequences that one should take care of one's things and listen to one's mother the first time, and we will all live happily together in our Loving and Logical home. Mmmmkay.

So that's this week's Experiment in Parenting. Remember this post about Tommy, and how he learns things the hard way? It applies here, too. So far I have collected four garbage bags of toys and put them up in the closet. To be fair, some of the confiscated toys are Katie's, who seems to be following in her brother's footsteps on this issue.

Twice this week, Tommy decided he wanted to play with a certain toy that he just couldn't seem to find, so he completely ransacked his room looking for it. Twice. And both times, I informed him that the toy he was searching for had already been taken away, and that by the way, now you need to clean up all those toys you just threw everywhere. And twice, he refused to clean up the toys, so twice I have gathered up his increasingly meager belongings and put them up in the closet. (Incidentally, when he tearfully asked me when he could get his toys back, I snapped, "NEVER", which is not a response endorsed by the authors of Love and Logic for Early Childhood. Just so you know.)

Then today when I asked him to clean up his room, he responded, "Well, I don't feel like it, Mom, so go ahead and take all those toys away." The authors of Love and Logic for Early Childhood did not provide a suggested response to this scenario. I checked.

So now I'm thinking about just having a garage sale. A bonfire crossed my mind, too, I'll admit, but the City would probably get involved, so that's no good. Another option would be to wrap the toys up and give them out as Christmas presents.

What I'll probably do, though, is just keep taking them away and hope that he learns his lesson before he gets down to zero toys and is forced to entertain himself with rocks and sticks in the back yard. The main drawback of that plan is that I think he would enjoy the rocks and sticks quite a lot. As long as I don't ask him to clean them up.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

We're Pretending its Autumn

Even though it was ninety-ish degrees yesterday, we went to the Arboretum and pretended it was Autumn. I woke up this morning to a promising cool breeze, however, so maybe we won't have to pretend much longer.

Prepare yourself for loads of pictures, I'm posting them all in lieu of e-mailing them to the grandparents.














Okay, this last one is not from yesterday. It's from this weekend, but I'm throwing it in there anyway.

Monday, October 8, 2007

My Very First Meme

(Umm, how do you pronounce the word meme?)

Apparently memes are something like chain letters for bloggers. One person writes about a given assignment, then challenges a few others to complete the assignment and pass it on. I don't know if it carries the same curse as a chain letter if one breaks it, like thirteen years' bad luck, but since I've never passed on an actual chain letter, or proudly, a chain e-mail, I'm not too worried about it.

Well, I've been tagged for my very first one, which makes me feel both proud to be accepted into this online circle of cyberfriends, as well as hesitant because of the personal nature of the subject, which I will get to shortly.

You see, Veronica Mitchell, who writes one of my favorite blogs by the way, wrote a post the other day about all of the posts she has refrained from publishing. I opened my big mouth and egged her on to complete one of them, and not only did she write it and do a fabulous job, she "tagged" me to write it as well. So the chain letter aspect begins. Oh, the subject:

Ten Literary Characters I Would Totally Make Out With If I Were Single and They Were Real But I’m Not, Single I Mean, I Am Real, But I’m Also Happily Married and Want to Stay That Way So Maybe We Should Forget This

As you can probably guess, my dilemma is that I am actually happily married and I actually do want to stay that way, and especially since my mother-in-law reads this blog from time to time, I really did consider forgetting it. Also, I am not even close to being well-read enough to come up with ten. However, the urge to fit in with my new friends has led me to adopt a compromise. So now I give you the amended title:

A Few Literary Characters That I Had a Crush On When I Was Young and Before I Was Married But That I Certainly Do Not Think About Any More Now Because I Love My Husband So Very Very Much

1. Ned Nickerson from Nancy Drew- my first love, circa 3rd grade. Always waiting in the wings for Nancy.

2. Gilbert Blythe from Anne of Green Gables. I noticed him long before Anne did. Remember when she wasn't speaking to him, but he gave her his teaching job so she could stay close to Marilla? Awwww. I think he was my sixth grade crush. Probably seventh grade, too.

3. Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. No explanation necessary.

4. Marius Pontmercy from Les Miserables. Okay, I didn't read the book until I was an adult, but my french class went to see the musical in 10th grade, and I was smitten. I think it was Eponine's unrequieted love for him that convinced me.

5. Charles Darnay from A Tale of Two Cities. I can't recall why, I guess I need to read it again, but I remember him being the highlight of 12th Grade English Lit. Of course, I always got that story mixed up with the plot of Les Mis, so he could just be Marius all over again.

So there you have it, folks, my pitiful attempt to fit in. Check out the other tags on Veronica's blog, and you'll see some really good ones. Frankly, I don't know a lot of the characters mentioned, so I'll be heading to the library this week to investigate.

And the person I tag: Painted Maypole. I'm curious to see what her list looks like.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

God Bless Texas

Before I lived in Texas, I used to marvel at the people that I met that were from here. Without exception, every Texan that I met would repeatedly refer to what a marvelous place it was. How Everything is Bigger in Texas. That all their Ex's live in Texas. And that you don't ever, ever Mess with Texas. It always intrigued me that they held so much loyalty to their state, even years after they had moved away.

Then I moved here. And I now I totally understand.

Don't get me wrong, I don't own any sequined Texas flag vests, or even any sparkly rhinestone jewelry shaped like the state. I don't wear a cowboy hat or big teased-up hair. Yes, there are plenty of people here who do, but thankfully I am not one of them. (When we moved here, my brother-in-law's parting words to me were, "Good luck in Texas...Don't let your hair get too big.")

But there is something contagious about the pride of Texans. And it has started rubbing off on me. I started listening to country music. I don't like all of it, but I like some of it. And the funny thing is, I've hated it all of my life until recently. I own some cowboy boots. They are very uncomfortable, but I have been known to break them out for a night on the town. Well, once anyway. I don't get out on the town that much.

About a year ago, Greg and I took the kids to the rodeo, thinking it would be something we might enjoy making fun of. I'm not exaggerating when I say it was the MOST fun thing EVER, and that we try to drag every one of our out of town guests there to prove it to them.

I'm starting to wonder if there is some brainwashing involved. Like maybe down in Austin there is a secret government headquarters producing propaganda to convince us that Texas is great. Otherwise, everyone might move away in July and August when it feels like we live two doors down from hell.

I know the kids here are brainwashed; public schoolchildren pledge allegiance to the Texas flag, for instance. I'm not making this up. They really do.

Also, they get an entire day off of school in order to attend the Texas State Fair. Every school district in our metro area has a certain day that they are out of school to go to a fair. And each student gets a free ticket. Now the Fair is a big deal, in case you didn't know. People around here don't ask if you are going to the fair, they ask what day. The first year that I lived here, I didn't go to the fair. It didn't seem like that big of a deal to me. When I said that to people, they looked at me as if I was insane.

But this year? We wouldn't miss the Fair. And the kids keep asking me when they can go back to the rodeo. Oh, and when we do, I'll probably wear my boots. Yee-ha.

But if at any time you see me flying the Texas state flag off the back of my minivan, or if I one day announce that I have purchased a large Lone Star State belt buckle, or even if you feel that my hair has gotten taller than the nationally accepted level, please, please stage an intervention. At the Rodeo, hair still normal size. Notice all the cowboy hats in the background.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Plans for the Weekend

I am ready to start this weekend a day early. Who is with me? It should be loads and loads of fun. I can't wait for it. Want to know what I have planned?

ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

Lovely, delicious, wide open nothing. It's wonderful. We have had five straight weeks of busy, working, birthday partying, running errands all over town Satudays, and this one, this one is just a blissfully empty space on the calendar. I'm so thrilled about that.

Incidentally, we won't have another empty Saturday space on that calendar for at least 3 or 4 more weeks, so this really is special. The pressure not to waste it is mounting.

Here are my ideas for what might transpire: (these are not plans; there are no plans allowed)
1) sleeping late
2) pancakes*
3) much wearing of pajamas
4) playing in the yard, perhaps still in pajamas (don't worry, we have a privacy fence)
5) reading a book while lying in the back yard swing, most likely still wearing pajamas

*The pancakes are iffy, I might go with homemade waffles. Like I said, I have no plans.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Monday, October 1, 2007

The Intruder

She came uninvited into my home. She hid stealthily in the Happy Meal picked up at the drive thru, then concealed herself from the distracted Daddy as he passed out the food. She then endeared herself to my little girl before she could be spirited away unseen.

"Look, Mommy, she has roller skates!" Clever, clever doll. She also has a bare midriff, a mini-skirt, and a low-cut blouse. Not to mention ruby red lips and heavily lined doe eyes, her features arranged in an arrogant smirk.

She is not welcome around here. She put me in a difficult position. I had to explain (again) that in this house we don't play with toys like that. That even though some of her friends' parents allow them to have these types of dolls, we don't feel that it is the right thing for our family.

"Look at her clothes, Grace. What's wrong with the way she is dressed?"

"Well, her shirt is supposed to cover her belly button. And that skirt would be too short for her to wear to school...but can I keep her anyway?"

Oh, that wicked, wicked doll. She put me on the spot again. This spot that I thought could be avoided for a few more years. The same spot I stood on this summer in Target, trying to explain to a six year old why she can't wear the two piece child's bikini that she wanted. The one like her friend had at the pool.

It happened again later that month when we went school shopping, and I just couldn't find any clothes that I liked. What happened to those cute little sundresses with watermelon collars? What happened to those little jumpers with flowers or butterflies on them that look so sweet with tights and Mary Janes? Just because she is shopping in the girls' department now doesn't mean that she is old enough to dress like a pop star.

Those thoughts were swirling around in my head as I looked into the suggestive eyes of that doll. I just didn't understand why. Why would anyone market this trash to young girls? What toy executive is standing in a meeting saying, "No, Jim, make that skirt even shorter! And make that doll's breasts bulge right out of the top of that shirt!" What is the purpose of this marketing trend? Why are they trying to send this message to my daughter?

I'd love to say I marched right into McDonald's and caused a scene, returned the doll, and taught my girls a moral lesson worth remembering. I kind of wish I had. Instead, Grace showed up a little while later, having covered the doll's exposed skin with paper clothing she had colored to match her existing outfit, with Scotch tape covering every inch. Her creativity and ingenuity made me smile.

"I guess that's all right, as long as she keeps those clothes on."

"Yeah, she needed some more clothes. It's too bad I can't wash off all her makeup, Mommy. She really has too much on, doesn't she?" And with that she ran off to play.

No, I'm not totally at peace with my decision to let the doll stay. I will probably sneak the little brat into the trash in a few days after she has been forgotten, like I do with most happy meal toys.

But I can't help feeling like she is going to try to intrude again. I'm afraid the battle has barely begun.

The kiddos

The kiddos

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