2017 total: $3532.73


Oh, Mila

Mila makes bad choices. It's just a fact. While some people lack a filter on their words, she lacks a filter on her actions. If she thinks it, she does it.

It's not necessarily a negative. While it certainly lands her in hot water from time-to-time, it means that she won't be afraid to take risks. If that girl makes up her mind that she wants to do something, she's quite simply going to do it. Glass ceilings will shatter the second she walks through a door, y'know? If you contrast that to the big sister in this house, there's even more good to be found. Together the two of them are going to challenge one another in ways that are going to be amazing.

One is the cautious rule follower. The other is the free-spirited unicorn.

That free-spirited unicorn has had quite the week. From painting her own nails to dumping an entire box of cereal all over the floor, she's been BUSY.

But today's "adventure" wins.

The kid loves lip balm. A lot. If she gets her sticky little hands on lip balm, she puts enough on to last the Olympic ski team a month. It's beyond painting her face to resemble a clown. Which, whatever. It's not really hurting anything, especially since I've started giving the kid her very own tubes of lip balm. As long as she stays out of mine, we're good.

So she was slathering her face with lip balm. I let it be while I ran upstairs to change clothes. When I returned a couple of minutes later, SHE WAS STILL SLATHERING. I mean, c'mon. If you spend several minutes slathering, it's too much.

I told Mila to put the lip balm away.

She didn't.

So I started to walk towards her. My goal was to take it away from her.

She knew that was what I was going to do.

Mila panicked. She didn't want to give up her lip balm, so she did the first thing that came to mind. Of course. Always. She always does the first thing that comes to mind.

She bit off the end of the lip balm tube and handed me the plastic. As in, she ate the waxy part.

Harvard is going to come knocking on our door any second now. I just know it.


This Is Why I'm Always So Confused

It wasn't all that long ago that Mila loved everything about gymnastics class. Taking her was like taking me to a chocolate factory on "Free Sample Day." She had all of the joy. In fact, I had to bribe her to leave most weeks.

And then it all came crashing down.

I don't know for sure what changed, but I'd guess it was the trifecta. Mila skipped her usual 2-hour nap, didn't eat very well, and then discovered that she had a new coach all in one day. It was a rough day that turned ugly very quickly. Suddenly, she who had to be drug away from gymnastics couldn't be convinced to stay in class. She kept running out to the lobby where I was, telling me lengthy stories, and then crying when I told her to go back. One day of train wreck set the tone for a streak. Week-after-week, I kept fighting with Mila to stay in her class.

It was so bad that I was ready to cancel her enrollment. The only thing that slowed me down is that Alexis has a class at the same time, so it would be harder than it would seem on the surface for me to drop Mila's class. I decided I would give it to the holiday break and then I'd be in a better place. I was maaaaaybe going to cancel everybody's classes.

I started working on Alexis. Slowly but steadily, I laid the groundwork to convince her to take a break from her tumbling class. Each week, I warned Mila that the end was near. I meant it; I was going to cancel.

In my quest to make sure I was being fair, I decided to give Mila one last warning and throw in a little incentive. I told her that if she used her listening ears and stayed in class, she could pick a snack from the little cafe at the gymnastics place. That would seem to be the most useless of bribes, but I'LL BE DAMNED IF IT DIDN'T WORK.

The kid stayed in class. And more or less listened. Sort of. (Look. Mila is always a flight risk. If she stays in the same general vicinity as class, it's a win.)

And then she proceeded to pick her snack from the cafe. She picked ... goldfish crackers. As if there isn't already about 17 pounds of them in the back seat of my car. She knows they're there because she's the one who keeps putting them there. In fact, she left a bag in her car seat right before going into gymnastics. A full bag.

Preschoolers make no sense at all.


Ready to Rumble

It's about to go down, y'all. I have been fighting with a Christmas tree for weeks already and things are about to get REAL ugly.

I will prevail.

The first challenge involved the awful, terrible, no-good invention that is pre-lit trees. I'm sure there are people that love them, but pre-lit trees were a gift sent from the devil. They rank right up there with thong underwear, people who whistle, and mornings. That is the very long way of saying that a portion of the lights were dead. I spent hours fighting with them - looking for a loose bulb, using this guy to give them a jolt (it seriously works more often than not), replacing fuses, and all sorts of tricks. Alas, a section of the tree was not as merry and bright as I demand.

So I had to pull off the 15 or so strings of lights I had added to the pre-lit tree. What? You don't add lights to your pre-lit tree? That right there is what separates the rookies from the pros. Go pro, y'all. There is no such thing as too many lights.

So I stripped off all of the lights, but then the pre-lit lights had to be ripped off. I couldn't handle looking at so many dark bulbs. They had to go. There was two hours of cutting and ripping involved, but then the tree was finally naked.

So I put lights back on it. I had to compensate for the ones that had been lost in the battle, so that took way longer than I would have liked. Ugh.

Fast forward a day or two, and it was time for ornaments. Except not because SQUIRREL! Do you know how many times I can start decorating a tree without actually decorating a tree? The answer is A LOT. I started every day for two weeks but kept getting distracted and nothing much happened.

But! Finally! Finally I created a plan that might get the job done. I decided that I would do one storage container of ornaments per day. It was an achievable goal that would have had the tree finished before Christmas. Barely, but that's not the point. IT WAS A GOOD PLAN.

I put four freakin' ornaments on the thing before it started. FOUR. On ornament number five (of probably 1000, if we're being honest), I reached out to put it on the tree and the branch ... moved. Just a little. So I reached a little further and it moved again.


I dropped to the ground to see what was going on and realized that the metal leg that was keeping the tree from jumping out the window was starting to bend in a way that it isn't meant to bend. It was sloooooooooooooooowly bending and I lunged with all my might to grab hold of the tree before it crashed to the ground. If you'd like to imagine the funniest image ever, that was probably it. I had both hands firmly on the center pole of the tree even as it kept leaning. I was contorted under the tree in a position that has never before been seen outside of the game Twister. There was a dog licking my face because it was near the floor, a cat running laps under the tree, and a preschooler sleeping a few feet away. In other words, I couldn't scream all of the words I wanted to scream.

And the tree kept leaning. Slowly. Further and further.

The good news is that it stopped before it crashed through the window. I believe that would have been the worst that could have happened because it's a long way down and there is a car right under that window. The even better news is that apparently you can buy new tree stands. WHO KNEW? Even with my ::mumble::mumble::twenty-something::mumble::mumble:: trees I never knew that you can replace the stands. I might even get a spinny stand out of the deal. How cool would a spinning Christmas tree be? EXACTLY.

The bad news, though. The bad news is that there was a point when I was just going to go buy a new tree. It was hours and hours of effort ago, before theis whole mess started. I didn't do it because it's not as much fun to replace a tree as it is to add a new one, so I wanted to save my "Oh, hey. Did I buy another Christmas tree? That's a great question!" deflection game for when I really needed it. I'd rather dance away from that argument with a new tree to decorate, you know? BUT I COULD HAVE SAVED SO MUCH TIME.

So much time.

Now that a Disaster Recovery Plan is in the works, I can acknowledge the other bad news. The other bad news is that I know EXACTLY what went wrong. As the tree started to run away, I saw it. The tell-tale signs of exactly who has been sabotaging my tree.


The long-haired cat who used to adore me has seemingly figured out how to finally get even for that thing called Mila. She's been mad that my lap was stolen from her for YEARS, so she climbed her little butt up that tree and started napping. Bent branches and tufts of fur tell the story.

Kiara and I are about to go to war.