This thing my mom discovered long ago: online shopping

This is sponsored content from BlogHer and P&G.

I remember the year my mom did all of her Christmas shopping online.

I was in college, so it was long ago (longer ago than I care to pinpoint here. Ahem). But it must have been so long ago, in fact, that I was surprised by the notion of someone purchasing every single item on her Christmas list that year without leaving her home.

My mom, who isn’t a huge fan of crowds or shopping malls or other places that are busy (really, who can blame her?), got all sorts of free shipping deals that year and was, well, happy.

Of course, I’ve shopped online over the years since then, but I’ve never done the bulk of my shopping online. I’ve never ordered things like diapers, batteries or makeup brands I could buy at the nearest big box store. I order things like personalized Christmas cards or curtains or … buttons (yes, I just ordered about 40 buttons. From Hong Kong. Long story).

BUT now that I live in a small town that doesn’t have a big-box store down any four-lane major street AND I know about P&G’s eStore?

Well, now, I may just start taking advantage of this thing my mom discovered long ago: the beauty of online shopping.

Check out these deals, from the P&G eStore:

– 15 percent off on a first-time order from a new customer, using promo code: A9Z-MN5-KY3-ISA

– Free shipping on orders over $25. ALL THE TIME.

– Free samples with every order. Again, always. (Boo-yah).

And here are some specific products on sale at the eStore now:

– Crest Whitestrips. While I don’t use them often, I have used them for special occasions, and I’m a big fan. Whiter teeth with the ease of a gooey little strip? Yes, please!

– CoverGirl LashBlast 24HR Mascara. Sometimes, I want to use mascara from a makeup counter or from Mary Kay or Avon or, you know, those sorts of things. But I can’t break up with my CoverGirl LashBlast. So it’s in my life to stay. This is a good price.

– Duracell batteries. You know you’re going to need them. I’m OK with checking them off my list by ordering online.

There are more household and beauty products at the eStore, too. Give the site a quick check if you have time!

And happy almost Christmas!


At least that’s how I remember it

I read a book when I was a kid called “Homecoming.” The main character’s name was Dicey and she was just a kid, but a grown-up kid and the book was long and paperback and had reeds and water on the front cover.

Or at least that’s how I remember it.

I’m pretty sure fourth-grade me probably didn’t get the entire message that book’s author intended. Grown-up me can’t even really remember what that book I read so long ago was about. But it was called “Homecoming” for a reason and it was about that character Dicey’s struggle to find that direction, amidst all the other stuff in her little-girl life.

I feel that way, some days. That the stuff I never asked for just swirls around in my head, creating a haze I can’t quite scrape away. That the path is right there, in front of me, but some days, someone forgot to clear the weeds away and the thistle and the thorns and it’s just rained a whole bunch so the ground is soggy and the water seeps in through the holes in the rubber of my canvas K-Mart shoes.

And my toes are cold.

But my hair is getting long, so long, though it doesn’t look particularly good, sort of like that third-grade school picture after I’d grown out my bangs.

These days, today’s sort of day, my feet are still dry but my eyes are, too. My sister just shared a link on Facebook to a blog post about betrayal. The worst kind, the author says, is the one where the person you love decides to stop loving you back. Or doesn’t decide actually but just stops caring enough to invest in the relationship and stops loving you by default. Insightful, I said. And terrifying. Yes, to both, my little sister said.

My family drove home for the holiday last week. It was a beautiful homecoming in so many ways, an easy one, a slip-right-back-into-what-life-was-like-there-without-missing-a-beat sort of one. I reveled in the friendships I’d left behind that still existed in the same, pure way they had back then, back then in March when I left them without knowing who’d tend to them while I was gone. Turns out some friendships, if planted correctly the first time, just grow on their own. I am lucky for that.

So back home, I saw those old friends. I drove those old streets. I even peeked at the yellow house in Dundee. I looked through the front window at night and was comforted that the walls, inside, were still yellow.

We went to the bar I thought I loved. The rock star played and he was brilliantly beautiful as always; the love for him in that room was wide and warm. The people were fun and different and the same, all too the same, and… well, the feelings I have about that place, about that night, are part of the tornadic dust still gunking up whatever part of the mind is in charge of figuring shit like that out.

We stayed for a week. I felt warm and cocooned and loved and even more confident in my own skin, back home. I refused to think about leaving until the day before we couldn’t avoid leaving. We left and I didn’t cry. The rock star who I love so much that when I read novels about husbands dying or cheating or both, I start to (irrationally) worry about losing him, looked at me in the car and said, “No tears?”

I agreed it was odd.

But I was trying, see, really trying to convince myself to not feel so much, to not feel everything so passionately, so intensely. Not everything matters, I tell myself, not everything you attach emotion to even exists, I say. In my head.

So leaving home to head home wasn’t hard, at least not right then. Not even now, that we’re home, in our new home, in our home that’s just ours, this little house that if I let my mind run wild needs so much work but if I let content seep in is just fine already, it’s not hard.


Something, I don’t know what yet, in my mind, inside somewhere, is still simmering. Things are shifting down through tiny holes like the sand in the metal sifter I used in the sandbox long ago as a kid in Oklahoma, those June bugs banging against the back patio light as I played past bedtime.

I’m thinking and reading and trying to be the girl I want to be, all the time. I’m trying to remember every single second how beautiful life is, even when it’s not.

Even when it is. Which it is, for us, just about all the time. We are lucky. In love. In life. In blessings and otherwise. Lucky.

Ballots that will count for nothing

Today is a presidential election, a day so ingrained as important in my mind that I get excited just thinking about it.

You’d think a girl who gets so into a presidential race – any presidential race – would have gotten her act together sooner and made sure she was registered to vote.

But she didn’t.

She tried. She tried to register to vote in Colorado online weeks ago, but because she didn’t have a Colorado ID she couldn’t. She and the rock star figured they might have to vote by absentee ballot this year, since they are both registered in Nebraska.

So last week, she requested an absentee ballot from the Douglas County Election Commission. She e-mailed. She was told she had to fill out the official request form. She did. She e-mailed it back. She was told they need an actual signature, not an electronic one. So the rock star went to a copy place and got the forms printed. He brought them home for her to sign. She did and he did and the next day, she took them back to the copy place to have them faxed to Omaha.

That was Tuesday.

Yesterday, the absentee ballots arrived.

They were late, but the girl who gets so excited about the right to vote and presidential elections, the girl who proudly took her 3-year-old son and her in-her-belly daughter with her four years ago to the polls — like her own mother did way back then — because she wanted him (them) to feel this excitement, too, figured she’d go back to the copy place today and fax in the ballots. Election Day. No problem.

Turns out you can’t fax them. The absentee ballots that just arrived yesterday afternoon have to be back to the Douglas County Election Commission by 8 p.m. Today. Tonight. Election Day. In Omaha. Today.

Not postmarked today. Not faxed today. The actual ballots have to be there today.


The girl and the rock star considered driving to Nebraska. Pulling the kids out of school and jumping in the car and putting pedal to metal to make it home in time to vote.

But whether they’d actually make it was iffy. Whether it was a responsible choice was iffy-er.

So here they are. In Western Colorado with absentee ballots that will count for nothing, with votes granted to every U.S. citizen that they can’t cast.

The girl called the Obama campaign. She told them she wanted to vote for the president. Every vote counts after all, right? Isn’t that the message people on both sides of the aisle ingrain into our psyches? Isn’t that the lesson we all learned in fourth grade when Michael Dukakis ran against George Bush? Vote. Don’t throw it away. Make your voice count. Make your opinion be heard. It’s a privilege, use it. All that stuff.

The Obama campaign told her there’s nothing she can do. Nothing. Register to vote tomorrow, they said. (She actually did register to vote last Tuesday when she spent four hours at the DMV getting a Colorado driver’s license. But it was too late. Colorado’s deadline to register to vote is 29 days before election day, Oct. 9. That is the day she and the rock star closed on their house. They could not have gotten Colorado IDs before then, you see, because living with friends is technically “being homeless.” No utility bills or lease agreements to prove a permanent address means no ID.)

I understand there are rules to follow. In just about every aspect of life, every part of society, there are rules and regulations and ways to go about doing things. We all learn this as kids, right? Don’t follow the rules? Go to time out. Get suspended from school. Have privileges revoked.

I guess those childhood lessons all hold true in the real, grown-up world, too.

Don’t have a real home? Don’t register to vote in time because you can’t until you have a real home? Well, you, tax-paying, rule-abiding U.S. citizen, don’t get to vote this year.

Sorry! Better luck next time! Thanks for playing!

Yes, I’m bitter about this. I’m sick to my stomach about this. I realize we should have requested the absentee ballots sooner. I wish we had.

But we didn’t, and now it’s now and it is what it is and … all those things. But the fact I just turned 33 years old and will not be voting in a close race for the president of the United States for the first time in my life makes me feel all sorts of things I don’t want to feel: angry, depressed, apathetic, frustrated, hopeless, helpless.

This morning, after learning the election commission back home wouldn’t accept our absentee ballots via fax, I threw my ballot away.

I took the kids to school. Then I came home and called the Mesa County Democratic Party. I left a message: Please help me vote today. The rock star stopped in at an Obama campaign office on our little main street. He asked them: Please help us vote today.

No luck.

I posted on Facebook. I considered suggestions (head to the airport, see if anyone’s going to Omaha; head to a truck stop, see if anyone’s headed east; pay the price and FedEx the ballots). I gave up. I started writing. I tried to accomplish other tasks.

No luck.

A little bit ago, I got my ballot out of the trash.

I can’t throw hope away.

It may be fruitless. It may be silly. But I’m filling out the ballot. I’m voting for president of the United States.

It may not count, but my ballot’s getting to Omaha. On time or not.

I can’t not try.

Sort of a big deal

His teacher handed me the note at our conference last week, saying it was a surprise for Rye.

Well, 7-year-old, nothing-gets-past-him Rye was with me, with us, and when our little family got to the car, he wanted to open the envelope.

He did, and I read.

“Dear parents, your child will be honored at a special assembly next Thursday, Nov. 1. Please join us to celebrate your child’s accomplishment. Please do NOT tell your child …”


Well, having that at the top of the note might have been helpful.

At any rate, we were excited our son was receiving an award, no matter what it was for, which still remained a mystery. I marked our calendar.

Today was Thursday.

Today I was crunched for time, overwhelmed with getting both kids fed, dressed, groomed and to school on time, as well as my morning full-time (paying) job work done before being back at Rye’s school by 9:45 a.m. for the awards assembly. I managed to semi-groom myself, too (I spent 12 minutes – that included a shower. Not even kidding).

The rock star was waiting on the street outside his art gallery and I slowed the car to pick him up.

We walked into the elementary school gym late by five minutes. Kids’ names were being called off and they stood from their position on the floor to be honored. I had no idea what they were being recognized for.

Rye turned around to wave at us. We smiled and waved back, bemused at the goings-on more than anything else.

His name was called. He stood up. He sat back down.

A few minutes later, the principal, who was doing the name calling, said something about having another shot next quarter at perfect attendance if your name hadn’t been called this time.

Oh, perfect attendance, I thought. Well, at least he was recognized for something! Anne Lamott says 80 percent of life is just showing up…

I thought the assembly might be over, but the school principal switched to a different award.

Excellence in P.E.

After a few other students were honored, Rye’s name was called! This time, he got to walk to the front of the gym and be honored with the 10 or so other students who received the Excellence in P.E. award.

Wow, I thought. Cool. I was proud. There’s something about seeing your baby up on stage with an award in his hand.

Rye sat down and the principal moved on to awards in other categories: Music, Computers, Library.

I glanced at the clock, figuring the assembly had to be over then, happy our son had been honored twice(!).

But it wasn’t over.

They saved the best for last.

Every quarter, each teacher gets to pick ONE student from her classroom to receive the Super Citizen Award. This is the student who embodies the ideals of the school; they try hard, they work hard, they listen, they show respect, they’re a good friend, a model student.

The principal talked about the attributes of each student using pronouns before announcing the winner by name.

I watched one mom and her two younger children clap and wave and react how any mom would when her child wins this sort of award. And I smiled. I was happy for that family.

A small handful of other students were honored.

The principal announced the winner in Rye’s class last. This student “is a wonderful example of positive thinking and actions,” the principal said. “He is kind, helpful and always has a nice word for a friend. He has quickly become a positive member of our classroom and school.”

That sounds like my kid, I thought. I kept listening.

This student’s “commitment to follow Shelledy expectations shows he is an honest person,” the principal said. “He is a model for other students to follow. He always completes his work. He listens during directions so he knows what to do, and then gets right to work on a task. He always tries his hardest and his work reflects his dedication to learning.”

Is Rye dedicated to learning? I thought. I hope so.

And then.

“This student is new to our school but has quickly become a bobcat. He is proud when he gets a PAWS and enjoys our school. Congratulations, Rye Stickney.”

I turned to the rock star, mumbled something unintelligible and then quickly looked back toward the front of the gym, where my first baby was walking to the front of the room, where he was getting an award called “Super Citizen.”

For a few minutes, I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to turn the water works off.

A dad I’d met at the class Halloween party the day before came up to congratulate us. He said, “Wow, this is a big deal. Some kids go their whole time at Shelledy without ever getting this award. You should be really proud.”

I was. I am. So proud.

So can’t-stop-smiling proud.

The truest of brave girls

I have a friend back home who just might be the strongest person I know.

Today, she is at Target, getting pictures printed, of the baby boy she’ll never know.

The hospital sent them over, though, and well, I guess you get the prints made.

I cannot imagine what that feels like, how you put your keys in the ignition and make the 10-minute drive to the Target at the nearly defunct mall on the busiest street in Omaha, how you put your blinker on and wait to turn into the parking lot at that awful intersection. How you go inside and wait for the pictures to be ready. How you open that envelope.

My friend said it was awkward. I imagine it deserves a whole lot of other adjectives, too.

Heartbreaking. Sad. Unfair.

I don’t know. Others.

My friend and her husband visited us out here about three weeks ago. We talked about the baby, what names they liked, whether she thought it’d be another boy (they have three beautiful sons). She looked great. They seemed happy. It was like we hadn’t missed a beat. And it’d been so good to see her.

Late last week, she went in for her 18-week appointment. There was no heartbeat.

Every pregnant woman’s fear was realized. And her life changed, forever.

My dear friend went to the hospital to have a baby that wasn’t alive, an act no one – ever - deserves.

He was born early Sunday morning. My friend and her husband gave their baby a name. They recorded his birth date and time.

Then they set about their mourning.

I can’t stop thinking about her, about them, about their sons. I can’t shake the goosebumps I feel. The knot in my stomach. The complete admiration I have for her. For him. For them. For the strength I hope I never have to see if I have.

She told me she knew they’d get through this. That this had been her worst fear. That she’s still alive.

Where does strength like that come from?

Do we all have it within ourselves, dormant until we need it? Or do we fight to find it?

Could we all face such a heartbreaking tragedy with as much grace, with as much bravery as my friend?

To all of you women who have lost a child, you are in my thoughts – and in my complete esteem – more than ever.

Perhaps the truest of brave girls.

Volunteering at my kid’s school: Why?

I’ve started volunteering at my son’s school.

He’s in the second grade at his third new school in a little more than a year and, well, maybe I feel guilty about that or maybe I genuinely want to know his teacher and student teacher and every single classmate he has or maybe I just want another way to be involved in my not-so-little-anymore boy’s life.

Maybe I want to be the cool mom who other kids say, “There’s Rye’s mom!” with a smile on their face. Maybe I want my own kid to think that.

Whatever the reason, I started volunteering at my son’s school and, so far, I don’t love it.

Every Monday, I show up at 3 p.m. to help with whatever task the teacher assigns.

The first week, I finagled a paper cutter in the teacher’s workroom to help make various stacks of oddly-shaped flashcards, which I then wrote “2+3=5″ and similar facts on.

Last week, I helped students learn subtraction facts by flipping flashcards. I got through about five or six students (not my own) before my time was up.

Yesterday, I cut out more math facts from over-sized sheets of laminated construction paper.

As I sat at the small desk at the back of the room, maneuvering the scissors over the slippery laminate, I wondered: Why am I here?

My son’s teacher greeted me, handed me my assignment and then ignored me. My son seemed both happy to see me and horrified that I was in his classroom and might oh-my-God speak to one of his friends, at the same time. My son’s classmates glanced at me awkwardly, unsure who I was, what I was doing there or if I’d be calling them over to practice their math.

My brain ticked off a list of other ways I could be spending that hour: work, laundry, going for a run, unpacking, reading, painting the bedroom, planting flowers, ETC.

I kept cutting. The classroom carried on around me.

I tried to remember the times my own parents visited my elementary-school classroom. There was a year both my mom and my dad led my Girl Scout troop. That was fun. And there was a time or two my dad brought his college actors in to perform a skit from a children’s show he was directing. I also remember, as a really young kid, bringing Halloween sugar cookies to school for my birthday. My mom had made those.

But aside from school programs and other functions, those are the only times I can remember my parents being at school. Certainly, neither volunteered to help the teacher on a weekly basis.

And as a kid? This was fine with me.

So I’ve been struggling lately with how I spend my time, what commitments I’ve made, whether the things I do reflect the priorities I have. If I want more time with my family, why would I take on any community obligations? If I want to be a five-day-a-week runner at this point in my life, why wouldn’t I forgo another commitment to make that happen? If I want to learn to play the guitar, why would I pursue any other extracurricular activities?

It’s a tough line to find, to cross, to sidestep, to hover over. And I’m still working on all the answers.

But for now (for always), I know one thing for sure: Being involved in my kids’ lives is important.

And if being present in my son’s classroom on a regular basis helps communicate that to him, if Anne Lamott is right that 80 percent of life is just showing up, if my son looks back one day and says, “Wow, Mom was at my school a lot, she must have really wanted to be an active participant in my life,” if my son feels he can pursue any interest and his mom will support it …


Then all the mindless, thankless cutting of flashcards, was worth every second.

Apple trees, an old barn and a home of our own

Outside the office window, I can see our entire backyard.

The old ambulance barn stands tall and strong, on guard, ready to house chickens in the small space on the south side and an art space/recording studio/guesthouse/whatever else we dream up in the main area whose white-washed doors make me feel hope.

The antlers near the barn’s top will stay because apparently if you’re a man, they make you feel like a man.

I’ve stopped looking at pictures of barns on because all the ones I love involve painting the barn red and hanging twinkly lights and having patio furniture and oak dining tables and dinner parties and fancy things that I’ve been told don’t belong in this sort of rustic structure, this barn that literally used to house our town’s ambulance back when the hospital was across the street (the old hospital was long ago turned into an apartment building that right now has Halloween decorations – and an American flag – flanking its entrance), this barn that high school kids each year visit for a backdrop to their senior pictures.

So OK, the barn is the rock star’s. And I’m OK with that.

Across from the barn a ways are the apple trees. I can see these from my office window, too, and they fill me with such a strong spirit of fall, of home, of everything good that I love them already. On our first visit to the house, to see if we might like it enough to make it our home, the kids – as if drawn like magic – found the apple trees on their own. They picked the yellow-green fruit and they came in to show us their find, sweet nectar dripping down the little girl’s chin, her pockets full of more juicy orbs.

I’ve already promised the kids baked apples. The only thing better would be if Grandma were here to make them, like she did for me as a little girl. Eating that sweet dessert in our Wisconsin living room is one of my favorite memories.

Outside my window, I can see the spot where my husband will build a fire pit and a pathway leading up to it. I can see where he wants to build us a garden, where he wants to grow food for our sustenance, where we might add on to the house in the next year or two, where we plan to put a swing set, maybe even a trampoline (shh…). I can see kids walk past the alley behind our house in the center of this small town. I can see the someday fence the rock star wants to build for privacy. I can see our kids playing. I can see a someday dog (well, maybe).

I see my family, in a home of our own.

Inside, we have lots of plans. Ripping up carpet and refinishing hardwood floors. Laying slate in the kitchen. New countertops, a new sink, more functional cabinets, new hardware in the bathroom. Paint. Lots of paint.

But we are here. We are happy.

Is this a forever home? the kids have asked. Maybe, my husband and I say. We hope so, we answer. We’ll at least be here a long time, we figure.

And that’s something, isn’t it? To find a home – a house and a community – where you can really, truly envision living for a long time.

I’m thankful.

BlogHer fame and why I’m still not cool enough to write “booyah”

A post I wrote several weeks ago about my son paying my daughter a dollar to go away and leave him alone is on the homepage of today.

Whoop, whoop! (I always feel ridiculous writing those sorts of phrases. Same goes for “booyah.” Is it because those were never on a spelling test as a kid? Or because white men (girls) really can’t jump?)

Either way, I’m syndicated today on one of the most powerful women’s blogging networks in the world!

I’ll take it. And I’m grateful.

Thank you, BlogHer!


These questions so … grown up

The sky was blue this morning, early, when I woke and opened one eye to gaze out over the quilt at the haze of the early-morning light.

My husband lay still beside me, his face turned away, peaceful in the way only early-morning sleep seems to let him be. I turned over, curling my legs into his, closing my eyes, snuggling down.

Yet sleep eluded me.

The rain started sometime after midnight. The rock star got up to close the window. I lay awake picturing the thrift-store desk I’d painted white the evening before getting pelted by raindrops, the water seeping into the drawers, warping the wood. I lay awake wondering just how bad it would be.

I lay awake remembering those yoga breaths the Grand Junction teacher taught me long ago, the three-step inhalations, the three-phase exhalations.

I tried it again, filling my lungs with the sweet night air, a somehow hopeful mix of hay, of cat, of outside, of the incense that marks bedtime for the grown-ups in the trailer.

I tried to turn the other thoughts off.

I looked at the clock, wondering how much longer I had before the little girl cried through the monitor, “Mom! I have to go to the bathroom!” or “Mom! I’m scared!”

I tried to sleep.

I drifted, after awhile, into one of those almost-asleep-but-not-quite restful places.

I dreamed about my family, in a house I don’t know but did in the dream. The place was bright. The kids moved about doing their own thing. The grown-ups worked in the kitchen, baking or writing or music making. I wore an apron and our stove was a shade of brilliant vintage green.

The happiness flowed like a river.

The house that didn’t appraise is now on the market for its appraisal price. The rock star and I have (had) moved on to another, smaller home, on the other side of Aspen Street. It didn’t appraise either, but we were able to make up the difference.

Because of a costly repair uncovered in the home inspection, though, we’re now really thinking hard about what to do.

What do we do?

Do we pay for the costly repair, plus the other work the house needs to make it what we want? Do we go back to the original house that didn’t appraise and hope we get it in the short sale?

Are we meant to find a home somewhere else altogether?

These answers are hard. These questions so … grown-up.

I work at the coffee shop most days until we get that home of our own. The sky has opened up now and raindrops are hitting my jeans, my toes. I am cold.

But my family is waiting for me. My husband is making dinner.

Time to go home, hopeful, peaceful, thankful all the same.

Where she got that dollar

My son once paid my daughter a dollar to go away and leave him alone.

I found the little girl in the workshop (sewing machines, not wood and tools, remember?) turned temporary kids’ room by herself on her bed, clutching her dollar.

The boy and his friends were outside, carefree and clearly up to something. They eyed me as I walked past, looked down and picked at their fingernails when I said, “Where’s your sister?”

I’d been in the house, see, the grown-up house, doing some grown-up chore like making dinner or washing dishes or starting the dryer a second time so those towels might actually dry.

I asked the little girl: “What are you doing in here all by yourself?”

She looked up at me with those eyes big as moons and smiled. “I don’t know, Mom!”

She is 3. Going on 9.

I scooped her up. I stroked her hair. I asked her where she got that dollar.

She told me.

And I freaked.

And the thing is maybe I shouldn’t have been so upset at the older brother. Because the little girl? She didn’t really seem sad. No. She simply seemed like a little kid in a room filled with toys, television and food, unsupervised. I wonder if the possibilities felt endless.

To me, however, this wasn’t cool. This brother’s bribe was blatant snobbery, selfishness. It was mean.

I don’t like mean.

So. We went outside. The older kids were still gathered by the tree house. Their voices hushed. Their gazes shifty.

Calmly, I asked my son, who is 7, where his sister got that dollar.

He pretended to be confused. (And I thought the mantra I’d been repeating since he learned to talk – “Never lie to your mother. She will always find out” – had gotten through. Silly me). He squinted his eyes, he furrowed his brow, he shrugged his shoulders.

“What dollar?”

And that was when my eyes flew out of my head, bouncing over the lawn to the street.

The boy old enough to know better went to timeout. He said he and his friends had just wanted time alone.

I reminded him what to do when he would prefer his sister not tag along. (It’s simple: Tell your mother or stepfather you’d like time alone AND THEY’LL HELP YOU! We’re awesome like that). Then I did one of these: “You will stay in time out. Until I figure out what your consequence should be!”

That’s the worst, right? Mom or Dad thinking about a punishment. Oh, man.

I ultimately decided to take the piggy bank away from Mr. Money Bags (he has a wealthy, generous great-grandmother) and keep it in my possession.

How long?! the boy wanted to know.

For as long as I feel I need to, I said. (Yes, I did that, too! Pulling out all the stops.)

The boy wasn’t happy but knew he hadn’t made a good choice. He is amazingly wise and clever and intuitive and has always been great at understanding faults, mistakes, what’s gone wrong.

He accepted his consequence and I gave him a hug and told him I loved him and all that business parents do because we mean it (and because no matter what our babies think, punishing them is no fun for us either!).

And we all quietly got up to return to our lives.

That’s when my daughter spoke.

“Mom?” she said. “Can I keep the dollar?”