Friday, December 16, 2016

Charley Lately


Current likes:

Monster High
TV (Netflix)
iPad (You Tube)
Stuffed Animals
Scooby Doo


All of our former clothing struggles have left us. Charley wears jeans! Coats! Pajamas with PANTS! Basically whatever Mama chooses for the day. She still loves dresses also, but variety in her wardrobe has served her well.

Her eating habits have taken a slide backwards. Even go to vegetables like broccoli and green beans have been a struggle sometimes lately. She's often "just not hungry" but once we get her eating, she tends to like what we are having. 


Bedtime stall tactics include:

Playing a game
Reading a book. No! TWO books!
Needing water
Silly little things like not letting go of my hand after hugs and kisses and "pulling me over" on top of her. "JUST TWO MORE PULL OVERS MAMA!"
"One more short show??"
But, the good news is most of these are pretty easy to curb and she goes right to sleep and stays asleep.

At her 5 year old well check, she was 43.5" tall, and 44 pounds. She was also TERRIFIED of her shots. It was BAD BAD BAD. Screaming, flailing, all of it.


Charley loves our weekends. Stay-at-home days are her favorite. It does give me a bit of Mama guilt that every day isn't a stay-at-home day, but then I remember that if we were always at home, she likely wouldn't love our time at home quite as much. Definitely a grass is greener situation. So, instead I'm grateful she simply loves to be at home with her family so very much.

Charley and Laney are definitely playing independently together these days. Especially now that the basement is getting a lot of use, those two just go downstairs, Charley turns Netflix or music on for them and they just play down there all by themselves. Charley is great with Laney, MOST of the time. 


Of the two, Charley is our earlier riser. 7:30 or 8:00 is pretty typical on weekends. 

She recognizes and can write all of her letters now. Preschool really helped because she didn't show interest on her own at home. I can see the beginnings of her learning to read though and that's pretty exciting!

She's all about being in the front of the line whether at school or gymnastics or even during swim lessons. I guess that's pretty typical though. 


Charley LOVES matching what Laney wears. And of course, I love it too.

Speaking of gymnastics, unfortunately Charley has inherited my non-athleticism it seems. However, the difference between her and I is that she WANTS to keep trying to get stuff when I was too embarrassed to keep trying. (Heck, sometimes I'm even embarrassed FOR her when I watch. And yet she doesn't seem fazed at all. Love her innocence.) I actually saw her legs go up instead of just around when attempting a cartwheel last week and I was SO proud of her for just getting to that part. 

She prefers fruity/sour candy over chocolate candy which is WRONG WRONG WRONG but so very RIGHT RIGHT RIGHT regarding her leftover Halloween candy.


Charley's got a sensitive heart like me. She watched a cartoon on Netflix that was rated for ages 8+ (with our permission of course) and after it was over I realized why it was rated that way. The cartoon had something to do with a family's home catching on fire and they lost everything. (I know, I know. WHAT kind of cartoon even has that!?) Charley was pretty heartbroken though and cried and cried about how sad it was. And that she was afraid we'd lose our house. So we've had so many conversations about how the material things aren't important, as long as we all have each other still. (I think the show was Peabody and Sherman.)

  Charley was Angel Gabriel in her preschool play this week. She did SO good; I was so proud of her. As most parents are of their children, of course. I often see myself in Charley in the way she can be shy, but then I love being surprised by something like this where she is totally NOT like I was. She said she was nervous when she saw all of the people, but I couldn't tell a bit. 

 She is looking so much older to me these days. I don't know if it is just the jeans, or the new favorite hairstyle the "top knot" (messy bun on top of her head), but man. I can see glimpses of teenage Charley and no! It's going too fast!


 But then other times I look at her, and whew. There's my little girl again.


Monday, December 12, 2016

Santa Max

So last year I gave you way too many words on which local Santa is our favorite. (Santa Max at Carolina Place mall if you are local.) Basically, I don't want to take my own picture - even if I have to pay way too much for it, and I want a Santa that will smile. This year we went back to our favorite Santa and our experience was SO great I have to tell you about it.

As I predicted last year, I knew this would be Laney's crying year. It's just that stranger-danger part of her development so I was prepared for her to be afraid. What I WASN'T prepared for, was for Charley to put on the brakes about 20 feet away from the jolly ol' fellow. She STOPPED in her tracks and was not moving at all. Of course, this surprised us because besides her stranger-danger year, we've had nothing but smiles and happy Santa visits otherwise and she hadn't mentioned being nervous at all up until that point.

So, we tried to talk her into it, but she really wasn't having it. I definitely wasn't going to force her to visit him. I figured that I would look back at each year's Santa picture and I would say "awww 2016 was the year Charley was afraid!" so I told John just to let it be. I was prepared to just get our crying Laney picture and go home. John at least got Charley to walk into the queue line by telling her she could just watch Laney but that's as far as she would go.

At the same time, I'm holding Laney at the front of the queue line because we were the only guests there. It was around 7:00 on Thursday, December 1st, so early enough that there were no crowds whatsoever. One of the helper elves came over to me to get my girls' names discreetly while John was still trying to convince Charley. I told him I was holding Laney, and that was Charley over there but it didn't look like she was going to visit Santa this year. He nodded and walked on over to Santa.

A minute later, here came Santa out into the queue line! With a jolly ho, ho, ho, he walked over to Charley. "Well hello Charley!" and she loosened her grip on John just a bit. She was still hiding a little bit behind him, so he continued on. "You know Charley, somebody told me you wanted a garbage truck for Christmas. Is that right?" She shook her head no. "I didn't think that was right! I know Charley and I knew that wasn't something she'd like!" She starts to giggle. And it went on and on for a few more minutes. He was so wonderful! But, despite his best efforts, she said she still didn't want to visit with Santa. Again, I'm fine with that so I'm thinking ok - let's just get Laney's over with.

Then Santa said "Well Charley, I'm going to go out and feed the reindeer real quick so I'm going to step out. Feel free to take a seat in my chair if you'd like!" and he walks off. I'm BEYOND confused. I'm like really, Santa? You are taking a break right now!? So I just stood there holding Laney with a look of total confusion on my face as he left.

Mr. Elf comes back over and ushers us to Santa's chair, where we all sit. Ohhhhhh ok, they are just going to let us have a family picture, I think. So they take a TON. Adjusting Laney's legs, having me shift this way, trying to get Ms. Serious to smile (it wasn't successful).

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 And I'm happy with that because family pictures are hard to come by, but, I still wanted Laney to visit with Santa. And then. THEN! I feel a warm hand on my shoulder and realize Santa had been in our family pictures after all!

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I mean, at that point even I didn't know he was back there so I know my kids didn't know!

Maybe I'm a bit slow, but it took me all the way until then to realize what they were doing. These guys were pros at this! They knew just what they were doing! On top of making sure they got a sale either way, they were getting Charley comfortable. 

After our shoot was presumably "over" as far as the kids knew, Santa walked around to the front of us and pretended he had just missed our whole shoot. Charley giggled, but was still apprehensive. Then he asked Charley if she'd like him to read her a book. Sure, she says! So I get up, Santa sits down and he begins reading her a book.

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And before you know it, we have this.

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So, he read to her for another minute, and then came the real test. Laney. I was right in my prediction with that one. 

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She cried, we got a few shots, and I took her right back.

From there, we paid for the whole shoot because it was either $20 for prints of one shot, or $35 for everything they took and some prints. (Turns out if I had made my reservation online I could have saved 20% and I would have gotten another $5 off if I'd printed a coupon for coming so early in the month. Argh! I'll know for next year!) I needed a picture for our Christmas card and I was sure at least one of those family ones would work because they took so many. I of course chose the crying one as my print because I had to.

Aren't great customer service experiences so satisfying?! I think I'm so used to having bad ones or ones that are neither good nor bad that a really great one shocks me. Terrible, right? I came home and found Santa Max on Facebook and will keep up with him all year long. I'm a believer!

And this is what we (er, I) chose for our Christmas card this year. Last year I tried taking my own family picture for the card and there were tears involved on my part, so I wasn't looking forward to trying that again. I shared all of the pictures already from our last session with a photographer (I like to have a new picture to share on a Christmas card) so I knew I wasn't booking another photographer so soon after the last one. So this chance experience really worked out perfectly. Thanks Santa Max!


Ho! Ho! Ho! Merrrrrrrry Christmas!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Real Life

Let me take a break from real life to show you some snippets of "Real Life" in our house today.


Real Life: I've been working on this laundry all day, but keep finding myself sitting in that pretty green chair playing around on my phone.


Real Life: John and I both do NOT want to go grocery shopping today. But we've got to - the fridge is pretty bare. So, we do as we normally do to settle any disagreement - Paper, Rock, Scissors. Best 2 out of 3 wins. I won, so I was pretty happy about avoiding that chore. But then, I traded him an offer to do the grocery store trip if he would put the lights on our house today. It is currently 41 degrees outside and raining. He REALLY didn't want to go to the grocery store today.


Real life: This is what my children are doing as I type this. Playing Wii, eating goldfish, and Charley has DESTROYED her room today. We've got a looming "If your room isn't clean by tonight we are taking everything away that remains in your floor" threat hanging over her. I'll keep you posted.


Real Life: There is a snowman shaped pancake grease spot on my kitchen table. I can't really remember why the pancake was laid directly on the table but for whatever reason it was and it permanently altered the finish of the table. WHY couldn't that have happened with a regular round pancake instead of the rare time I make snowman shaped pancakes??


Real Life: I LOVE coming home to all the packages this time of year!


Real Life: There is a cleaning brush on my patio table that the girls used on a warmer day a few months ago where they played car wash with the Cozy Coupe. I see it daily, and yet there it remains.


Real Life: I packed away all of my fall stuff Friday and realized my fall stuff has an abundance of artificial fall flowers.


Real Life: This tub of salsa leftover from lunch is sitting on my counter right now without a lid. John cleaned up before I was finished eating and recycled the salsa lid, and went ahead and took out the recycling for good measure.

Real Life: This is my latest photo booth picture on my fridge. It's from last weekend at Stone Mountain, Georgia. Turns out six people cannot fit into a photo booth.


Real Life: We are really starting to get good use out of the basement. Have a few things left to do still, but having a separate TV downstairs so I don't have to get the songs from their current Netflix favorite "Hi-5" stuck in my head has proved invaluable.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016


4 years, 6 months, 15 days. 1,659 days. That's how long Charley used her lovey blanket, we dubbed Owlie, as her comfort item.


The good ol' Easter Bunny delivered one Owlie blanket to Charley on April 8, 2012. Charley was 6 months old and immediately fell in love. I'm thankful she declared her love for Owlie so soon because we were able to buy two backups immediately from Target. I guess that's where the Easter Bunny shopped too.

This was the day she received Owlie. It was so clean!
Owlie has gone everywhere with us. 

On hikes,


to 3-D shows,


camping with Grandaddy,


in Grandaddy's chair,


of course to every nap,


lots of time on the couch,


to family birthday parties,


to the beach, 


to Christmas celebrations, 


on road trips, 


to the zoo, 


and a million other places. It took me about 10 minutes to collect all of these pictures. There were TONS of them. Owlie is probably photographed more often than our cat. Sorry, Reese!

Charley essentially used Owlie as a pacifier. She did the same sucking motion as you would on a pacifier, but on the corners of Owlie. Every single corner became discolored and they STANK real bad real fast. They got regular washes on the weekends but Charley rarely minded their smell and love love loved them so.

I wasn't that worried about them either since the dentist had mentioned that they didn't pose the same problem as a pacifier since they were flat. So, I tried some gentle approaches to get her to break the habit. Essentially I didn't want to just take them from her, I just did not want her to put them in her mouth any longer. 

For a while, we talked up her 5th birthday like she was OFFICIALLY going to be a big girl. And you know what big girls didn't do? They didn't chew on owlies. We told her on her 5th birthday she would give them over to us, and then she'd get her birthday presents and she was pretty agreeable about it. So, that morning, in our camper, she begrudgingly handed them over.


Yeah, so, that didn't work. Her and Laney share a room in the camper and I wasn't trying to have two non-sleeping babies that night, so she convinced me to let her just have them at night but that she wouldn't touch them at all during the day. That continued on for another couple days where she even brought them to me and handed them over first thing every morning, but before we knew it she just kept them and then "used" them whenever she pleased. She didn't take them to school or anything, but if she was resting on the couch and watching a cartoon, she liked to have them. I gave up the fight for a while.

We randomly tried to let her test out her own willpower for the promise of a coveted toy. (Monster High girl dolls...thanks a lot Charley's older cousins! haha) We told her she could continue to hold them, but as soon as she put them back in her mouth she had to start all over. I think we put a 3 day limit on it or something like that. But, this was HABIT, and even though she tried to lay there so sweetly only holding them and not chewing them, habit took over and they were back in her mouth before we knew it.


We gave up for a while. She truly didn't use them as often as she used to, and we just hadn't come up with a nice way of taking them away.

A couple weekends ago John went out of town. While Charley misses her daddy when he leaves of course, she also gets really excited because I will let her have ONE sleepover in Mama's bed whenever he isn't home. She chose Saturday night over the long weekend he was gone to sleep in the bed with me. That night I didn't sleep very well and one of the reasons why was because I could hear her sucking on those blankies ALL NIGHT LONG. I sort of thought she used them to go to sleep and that was really it, but that night I realized that she would grab them in her sleep and suck on them periodically throughout the night. I decided I needed to help her break the habit soon. In the middle of the night sometime, I finally came up with an idea that I thought may work.

Safety pins.


I think most people questioned my sanity when I said I was going to put small metal POINTY objects on something that my daughter regularly put IN HER MOUTH and kept IN HER BED. Relaxxxxx, everything's going to be justtttt fine.

I did use larger, sturdier safety pins and put them on every single corner at some point that next afternoon. I decided I should tackle this that very next night because John was still out of town and I could let her sleep in my bed again so I could comfort her and also so her crying wouldn't wake up Laney on their side of the house. Charley was less than thrilled with me when she saw what I had done that afternoon. :(


And that night wasn't very fun at all. Charley cried pretty hard for a good 30-45 minutes. It was tough and I felt really bad for her. She had used that thing to put herself to sleep for YEARS and I felt bad that I hadn't helped her to break the habit sooner. But, before too long, she was asleep and there wasn't a blankie in her mouth at all. My big girl. <3 p="">


But was over. She may have asked for them that next morning and got a little teary eyed a couple times talking about what Mama had done, but that was IT. A few days later I ordered the dreaded Monster High Girl dolls and she was SO PROUD OF HERSELF. Which now, makes me a little teary eyed thinking about.

She still takes them to bed with her (and they are still safety pinned JUST IN CASE) but there weren't any other tears shed and haven't been any pokey accidents, either. She was just ready, I guess. 

It's such an accomplishment to get through parenting feats like this, right? It makes you feel encouraged and strong and ready to tackle the next feat!


Meet Bunny, Laney's blankie that she does the EXACT SAME THING with. I have a feeling - knowing Laney's spunky personality - things won't go as swimmingly with her. I'm gonna........wait a couple more years on that. So much for feeling encouraged.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Kidpik: Box One

Facebook ads, man. Sometimes they get ya. This was the latest one to suck me in.

One random Sunday morning while laying in bed because my angellic children were both still sleeping at 8:18 a.m., I saw an ad for Kidpik in my Facebook feed. It intrigued me for some reason and I clicked on it to see what it was all about. Found out that it was essentially a Stitch Fix subscription box, but for children. I have broken up with Stitch Fix as of April or May I think, but sometimes dressing my children is just as exciting or even more exciting as dressing myself, so without having a second thought about it I just signed right up. 


That is not like me to sign up for something so willy nilly like that, especially when I did the entire sign up process on my phone which I normally loathe, so I must have been high on getting to sleep in or something. Anyway, our first box showed up today. I was so darn excited to see what we got, I opened it up in the bathroom while Charley and Laney played in the bathtub.


Now, if I were a good blogger, I would have taken a picture of this next part, but you'll just have to take my word for it.

So, I open up the box and all of the clothing is wrapped in a piece of tissue paper a la Stitch Fix style. I break open the tissue paper and the very first thing right there on top was.....

...a tshirt with a WORD on it. BLEH. I contemplated shutting the box right then and there and giving it the ol' "it's not you it's me" speech. But, I decided to power through. I DID answer some survey questions about what style I liked/Charley liked, but I don't recall ever seeing a space for me to have written to them that I don't like wordy clothing. You better believe I'll be adding that to my checkout notes, however.

Charley (while in the bath) and I looked through it all right then, and we were very pleasantly surprised! Several things that I never would have picked up, but Charley was loving it all. She has very particular taste so that was a good sign at least. I promised her that after her bath and after I got Laney in bed we'd do a mini fashion show so she could try it all on.

At the bottom of the box was the receipt. You don't pay a styling fee or shipping fee, but just pay for whatever you keep. If you keep it all you get 30% off of everything. I braced myself before I opened the receipt because I assumed that it would be way more than I'd normally pay for 7 items for a child. But, again, I was pleasantly surprised! If I decided to keep it all I'd only be out $80! I think I was expecting more than that so I was happy with that total.

Finally my children were clean, one was asleep and the other was DYING to try some things on. We went into my bedroom/bathroom so we had a full  length mirror to play fashion show in front of.

First we try on a skirt, dolman tee and pleather moto jacket.


The skirt is cute and fits well, but I'm not loving it with the dolman. The dolman is actually really big and wide, so I don't even know if it is worth saving for next year. The jacket though is adorable and is truly something I wouldn't even pick up in a store. Of course it IS the most expensive thing in the box. Naturally.

We tried to also put these shoes on with that outfit because these shoes are 100% Charley, but they were sized small. Womp womp. It looks like you can exchange for another size though, so these are still a possibility.


Besides making my 5 year old look way too old, we were off to a decent start for our very first box. We moved on to the next outfit...a cute A-Line black and white dress.


ADORABLE. This was Charley's favorite thing in the box by far. Like, she wanted to wear it to bed tonight. It was extra extra cute with the moto jacket, too.



Next we had to try on the dreaded WORD tee. It also had a cat on it, and Charley can't read (nor does she share my hatred for word tees) so she liked it! Also, have I mentioned that Charley's aversion to jeans has ended? This fall she's asked for a couple pairs of jeans to wear, so tonight we went to Target and got her a pair to try from the Cat and Jack line. So, these jeans aren't from the box, but we needed to try them on too so it made sense to try them with the cat tee.


The jeans are very cute, but again, make her look too old (!!) and the tee thankfully is just too tight so I convinced her it was a no. Whew. Dodged that wordy bullet.

The last thing in the box was some sort of strappy wrap bracelet, but it didn't fit well when wrapped two times around her little wrist and I just am not a fan of that style on my 5 year old. So I'm definitely using veto power on it if she asks to keep it.

So, what  do you think? Here's where the math gets me:

If I keep the following:

A Line Dress..............$24.50
Moto Jacket................$29.50
                      I'm at...  $69.50


If I keep it ALL and take advantage of the 30% discount, the total is $81.55. So, I'd save $12 to only keep what we like, but Laney would eventually wear the shoes if we didn't exchange them so they wouldn't be a total loss, and the dolman tee could be a maybe next fall, so, possibly not a total loss either. What do you think? Do you disagree with what we are considering, and think it all is too mature for a 5 year old? I definitely can see that side of it too so that wouldn't be offensive to me at all if you think that. I mean really, the moto jacket while cute, is not very practical at all. And the skirt I could take it or leave it,..although I can really see it with some black and white converse, so, I'm leaning towards keeping it. See?! I change my mind halfway through a sentence, so I'm in no shape to be making these (first world) decisions tonight.

Help me out. What do we think, bloggy friends? I DO think we will continue the subscription box no matter what we decide to keep with this one.

(Also, if you are thinking of trying it for your own daughter (so far they only have clothing for girls sized 4-14), awesome! I wish there was a referral program, but there is not. So, here is a link, but it is not a referral link: Kidpik.)