2018 total: $10011.76


So Much Secreting

It's possible that there is one person who was more excited for Alexis' birthday than Alexis was.


Mila was over-the-moon excited about the prospect of celebrating her sister for a day ... or a week. We're DAYS past the event and Mila still hasn't stopped talking about her sister's big day.

I think it might be because there was cake. Is cake. There still IS cake because of course I made too many cupcakes and now Mila is sustaining life by licking the frosting off every cupcake she can find. It should last about two more days before the well runs dry.

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Mila helped make the cupcakes, which of course should be "helped" because OMG 4-YEAR OLDS. They are so eager to shove a chair across the room so they can stick their fingers in the mixing bowl. No matter that the mixer is running. And can she break the eggs? Can she put the butter in? Never mind, she wants to eat the butter. Yes, the entire stick. Wait, are there chocolate chips? CAN SHE EAT THE CHOCOLATE CHIPS?

Mila is really very excited about everything in life.

Her sheer joy is exactly why I let her go to Target and pick out a gift for her sister. I already had new bedding all planned out, but figured Mila could toss in whatever she wanted, within reason. I didn't care if it was a baby toy or something perfect for Alexis or whatever in between. The point was to let her be in on a surprise.


So, we wandered the aisles of Target looking for JUST the right thing. Mila finally settled on the Harry Potter section hidden at the back of the store. That was most excellent news because Alexis LOVES all things Harry Potter. There were no bad gifts to be found there. After much debate and consideration, Mila settled on a Hermione figurine. I was proud of her most excellent choice, so off we went to finish out our day.

That was the day before Alexis' actual birthday. Alexis was at dance class at the time, so I hid the figurine in the car and told Mila to keep it a secret. She understood, BUT THEN.

The second Alexis got in the car, Mila blurted, "I have a secret present for you!" And then a whole bunch of words fell out of her face and basically she told Alexis that she had bought her a doll for a birthday and it was a girl and she was Harry Potter's friend.

I mean. There's so many possibilities there. No way did Alexis figure it out. o_O

The next day, Alexis opened her gift from Mila and did a rather polite impersonation of a person who was pleasantly surprised. Except, she wasn't surprised. And she's a bad actress. Look, it was really obvious what had happened. Alexis was all, "Oh, is this my Harry Potter girl that is maybe/probably Hermoine?" and Mila was all, "YES!"

There was no surprise.

AND YET. Mila was super proud of herself. She was so proud that she went on and on to me about how she had surprised Alexis and Alexis had no idea and WOW she should be in charge of more surprises.

We're going to have to have a long talk about recognizing our own strengths and weaknesses ... unless we can put Mila in charge of picking winning lottery numbers. In that case, she can keep having a big mouth just as long as it's only me she spills the beans to.


Easiest Party Ever - Mall Scavenger Hunt

We long ago established that I am a nut when it comes to celebrating my kids' birthdays. There are elaborate cupcakes and themes and decorations and ... WTH IS IT WITH TEENAGERS? Why do they hate fun? I think it was a perfectly reasonable request for me to ask Alexis to have an elaborately-themed party for her birthday but noooooooo. She refused.

(It's a good thing Mila is officially entering The Nutty Birthday Zone this May. I will get to pick up right where I left off!).

She wanted a party, just an "age appropriate blah, blah, blah" party.

I turned that into dinner with her friends and then a scavenger hunt at the mall.

Which, I WIN. She has clearly stated that it was her favorite party ever and I have gloated mightily because she tried to stop me. At one point, she was all, "Scavengers hunts are dumb. We're just going to shop."


Just no.

I persisted. AND I WAS RIGHT. (Clearly I'm not done gloating.) There was a point during the scavenger hunt when I had two of her friends on the phone and one standing in front of me because they were eagerly trying to smarty pants their way to solving one of the clues. AND THEY WERE SO EXCITED ABOUT IT.


If you want to see a hoard of 7th grade girls get excited, give them a list of things to find in the mall. They *loved* it. And they're all stupid competitive, so they nearly suffocated me trying to all watch while I scored the whole thing. It was pretty fantastic. And cheap. The entire party - dinner at Buca di Bepo and prizes included - came in at $150 for 10 girls.

I'm totally doing it again. Can 5-year olds wander the mall alone? Maybe Mila would like that ...

(Here's the clue list we used in case you want to do a similar party.)

Scavenger Hunt


Happy Birthday, Burgh Baby

Let's all take a moment to revel in our dismay that THIS kid is now 13 years old.

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I think that's about the age she was when people first started noticing this space, so it's fair to say that there are people reading right now who "internet remember" Alexis at that age. Hope you didn't blink because that baby is gone. And then some.

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Looking back, there is one thing that is profoundly evident - she is exactly who she has always been. That kid was born with a fully developed personality and she has stayed true to that personality. Case in point, she's still a perfectionist. We've worked on being okay with an A- and enjoying something even if she's not good at it, but that "gotta do it perfect every time" thing still rears its ugly head from time-to-time.

Namely last week. HOOBOY did Alexis and I have a fight about it. She's going to stay a perfectionist at heart, apparently.

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Alexis is also still a lover of words. She "read" as soon as she was big enough to hold a book and now she's big enough to hit me with a book if I try to take it away. Which, I won't. It definitely doesn't suck to have a kid who will happily spend her every waking hour lost in the written word. She often has three or four books going at one time and has an endless hunger to read some more.

Another thing that has grown and evolved but yet stayed the same is that thing where Alexis sees the world in black and white only. There's no grey. You're either following the rules or you're not. She has a guilt complex seven miles wide, so it's still very hard for to knowingly break a rule. She ALWAYS tells me. Eventually. Even when she thinks she's keeping something a secret, I tend to know about it and have the joy of watching from afar as she spazzes out from the guilt. If that sounds like a parent's dream come true, that's because it is. Alexis just isn't capable of being sneaky, but we're working on it.

Yes, really.

Her world continues to be TOO black and white. (And HOOBOY did Karma boomerang with Mila ...)

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Alexis has always been just a wee bit too empathetic, and that's still true. Other people's feelings take a front row seat in her life. Like all things, that's both good and bad. She catches herself when she says something mean, but she catches YOU if you say something mean, too. She would do anything for anybody, which basically means she's a screaming liberal at heart. Equality and fairness reign supreme (see also, her world is black and white) and she fights to make sure people are treated as she thinks they should be treated.


But, man, she is KIND. Just plain kind.

And she's an amazing big sister.

And she's hilarious.

And she's smart. I don't check her report card (she would fall apart with guilt if there was a reason I should), but I know she hasn't broken her streak of straight A's yet. I'm not sure that she ever will.

Alexis is exactly who she has always been, which is to say she's an amazing person who is going to do great things. She already has, really.

Happy birthday, kid. Now go clean your bathroom, please. IT IS SO GROSS.