2014 Total: $253.00 (Updated once daily)




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This Is The Start Of Something Awful

I have literally spent a lifetime teaching Alexis that the best way to get what you want is to work hard and be nice to the people who can help you. While it has been a short lifetime (her 8 years, to be exact), it's something that comes up over and over again.

She hears me.


It started about a month ago. I don't know what triggered the thought in her mind, but suddenly Alexis decided she wanted an Elf on the Shelf. I personally rank the tattletale elf about as highly as I rank Dora, which is to say NO THANKS. I would rather punch myself in the face than deal with moving an elf all over the house.

It's possible that I get carried away with things like that, in case you hadn't noticed. I know for a fact that if I am put in charge of an elf's well-being, it's going to turn into a competition. I'm going to have to do everything Bigger! Better! More creatively! than is absolutely necessary. It would become a full-time job as I tried to figure out clever ways to maneuver the stupid thing.

So ... no. No elf. Period. There are too many humans depending on me to be a responsible adult right now. I can't take on any new tasks.

Alexis heard my "no" and pondered how to deal with it.

She chose hard work and kindness.

In the past month, the kid has cleaned her room without being asked (although, I did shame her on Instagram for the disaster zone that is her room). She has also done the dishes, cleaned the living room, washed the windows she can reach, put away Mila's laundry, cooked dinner, gotten her sister dressed nearly every day, and generally been the most helpful 8 year-old you've ever seen. She has used nice words, a polite tone, and ... well, she has been an absolute dream come true. If you've ever thought to yourself, "Wow, I wish my kid would act like this all of the time," THAT. THAT IS HOW SHE HAS BEEN ACTING. 24/7. 

She has been absolutely amazing in the most fantastic way possible.

I can't fight against nice. I don't possess the armour necessary to fend off that beast.

There have been times in the past 8 years when I've wondered if I'm doing an Alexis a disservice by stressing that the best way to get what you want is to work hard and be nice. The reality of the matter is that in the business world, nice doesn't always cut it. Should Alexis decide to pursue a career in any number of fields, being nice will actually put her at a disadvantage, unless she learns to use "nice" as a way to advance her agenda.

I'm going to go ahead and bet that she's got that all figured out.


The Elvis Story

There's something magical about Full House. It has broken through Alexis' Disney-encrusted heart and nuzzled itself into a very special place. She has watched every single episode possible, in no small part thanks to reruns constantly playing on cable.

That's why she's obsessed with Elvis.

Uncle Jesse loves Elvis. Therefore, she must love Elvis.

One weekend we were driving to the outlet mall when Alexis asked to listen to some music by Elvis. Thanks to the joy that is Amazon Prime, I was able to stream an album for free. It was during All Shook Up that I turned to Alexis and joked, "You should just be Elvis for Halloween."

"YES, I SHOULD!" she yelled out. "And Mila can be my guitar!"

It was a most excellent idea. It occurred to her early enough for me to be able to hunt down a guitar costume on ebay for Mila, and there was plenty of time to find an Elvis costume.


Nothing that seems easy is every actually easy, though. I ended up buying two guitar costumes because the first one was too big. Then I couldn't find an Elvis costume that Alexis thought was suitable. We searched every store everywhere and she hated ALL OF THEM. None of them fit, they were ugly, and "MOM, THAT'S A BOY COSTUME."


I still don't know where the kid got all of this gender "conforming" nonsense, but the fact that there was a little boy on the costume on the package was enough for Alexis to declare that she hated all things Elvis costume-ish. I tried to convince her that I could make a few alterations to make the costume fit her a little better, but she was having none of my logic.

So I tricked her.

I'm confessing to it in part so that I can make it very clear to a certain 8 year-old who sometimes reads this space that she should listen to her mother because MOM IS ALWAYS RIGHT ABOUT THESE THINGS. AHEM.

Always right. Always.

One day the girls and I did a round at the mall where I had Alexis try on one of the "boy" Elvis costumes. She declared it awful and terrible and not at all OK and started begging to just be Elsa for Halloween "like everyone else."

Seriously. She said that.

I rolled my eyes at her drama and then promptly returned to the mall without her the next day. I marched in and bought the exact same Elvis costume she had tried on the day before. Then I destroyed the evidence by taking it out of the packaging. I placed it on the kitchen table and then declared, "Look! Alexis! I found a girl Elvis costume!"

She was all sorts of excited and immediately ran to try it on. It was a little big in the legs and waist, but I told her that was no big deal. I could throw it on the sewing machine for a few minutes and make it fit perfectly.

She was cool with that answer.

And even cooler with the final result.

It may be wrong to trick your own kid, but I'm feeling exactly zero guilt right about now.


Nutella Caramel Corn

Alexis and I have developed a very serious addiction to caramel corn lately. I blame Pittsburgh Popcorn Company for opening stores all over the place.

The problem with this newfound addiction is that it's not exactly cheap. Alexis and I can't agree on one flavor, so it's $15 by the time we both have a snack.

The "snack" lasts a bit, but still. It doesn't last long enough to justify the price. I was pondering this whole problem last week and then realized that I know how to make really good caramel corn. WHY WASN'T I DOING IT?


Of course, I couldn't make regular old caramel corn, but rather made some with Nutella on top and some with peanut butter on top. Both were excellent ideas. They were made even better with some chocolate chips and M&Ms because everything is better with chocolate chips and M&Ms. Absolutely everything.

I dare you to find out for yourself.

Nutella and M&M Caramel Corn

1 batch Caramel Corn
1/2 cup white Whilton candy melts
1 cup Nutella (or peanut butter -- both work just fine)
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
Handful or two of plain M&Ms

1. Make the caramel corn.

2. Once it has baked for the full hour, leave it in your large pan or spread it in a few cookie sheets.

3. In a small sauce pan, melt the candy melts over medium heat. Add the Nutella (or peanut butter) and stir until everything is well combined.

4. Drizzle the melted Nutella over top of the caramel corn.

5. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over top.

6 Sprinkle the M&Ms over top.

7. Allow everything to cool. You can speed things up by putting it in the fridge.

8. Try not to eat all of it in one day. Good luck with this step!