Author Archives: littlelostsunny

Season of Santa

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 IMG_86741502889_10153620302625133_976943717_o  These were taken last December. My niece will be 5 years old on December 23rd. It’s a blessing beyond any words I am capable of pecking out on a social media status update that we are able to have this little moppet with us for another year. Life can be so feeble and so delicate, as we have seen in the media in recent days, weeks, months. You must always be thankful for each second you have with your loved ones. As always, my family’s health and happiness is the most precious of presents that I can ask for each and every year.

However, there is something a touch sad about rushing through the holidays the way we, as a society, have become conditioned to. Perhaps, I was a little too affected by the “never grow up” mindset of the titular Peter Pan and the Lost Boys depicted on-screen in yesterday evening’s live televised event of the J.M. Barrie classic. Or maybe it’s the incantations of the Toys R Us commercials of yesteryear reverberating within the caverns of my cranium–“I don’t want to grow up. I’m a Toys R Us kid.” Or perhaps it’s a slight tinge of Grinch green envy of being too old, too wise and too jaded to indulge in certain aspects of this particular season. Maybe an amalgam of all the aforementioned.

Regardless of the reasons, the fact remains that we are now screaming down the tracks of the Polar Express with a one way ticket to the realization that the North Pole is a destination that will never be reached. In about two years– this concept of a singular entity being responsible for delivering gifts to all of the world’s “good” kids will be shattered by a child’s intuition, logic and reasoning developmental skills sharpening, blabbermouth peers, the Internet or by just wanting to grow up a smidgen faster than we would like.

All of it is just a part of the process of aging. It’s an inevitability. But, I believe that being able to so harmlessly pull the red satin hat over their eyes and deafen and quell their innate suspicions with jingle bells and elves on shelves is one of the greatest joys we are bestowed 1486791_10153620304550133_369294095_nwith during a child’s youth. It’s a little gift that we are given to inject just that much more personal excitement (on both ends) into an already thrilling time of the year.

I understand that not everyone chooses to indulge in this way. I know that not everyone is comfortable with the entire concept of Saint Nicholas. I am equally aware that many do not even celebrate Christmas for a myriad of reasons. And that is OK! This wasn’t composed to incite scrutiny or to stir up latent hostilities or ruffle and rile your inner Scrooge. Yule have to kindly exit stage right and let me revel in the yore and yarns of the season.

However, I write this with a bittersweet mindset of wanting her to continue to develop and grow in such a brilliant fashion, while still yearning for a few more blissfully oblivious years of buying into a truly magical concept rather than buying into, well, the buying and selling capitalistic culture that is so omnipresent. She doesn’t need to know that yet! Thankfully, this year, barring any tragic occurrence, she won’t. But, soon… it will come crashing down as deflation, destruction, devastation and the defeat of innocuous idealistic idolism occurs with one fell swoop. And with that revelation…we, as a family, selfishly lose a bit of the infectious enthusiasm that comes hand in hand with having a kiddo in the family running afoot.–

That ear-muffed, rose colored glasses wearing, wide-eyed tiny human serves as our beacon of hope–a flesh and blood incarnation of innocence, and wielder of endless cheer amidst a backdrop of cynicism, injustice and despair.

When you have a four-almost-five year old whispering her singular want for the year (a Paw Patrol toy that she is getting!) to the 34th street Santa in Manhattan…. in your life… you can’t help but be momentarily engulfed and swept up in the splendor of the holiday.. Even the coldest and darkest of hearts can be thawed by igniting a spark of that inner spirit and sparkle that burned with such passion when you were of a similar age. You smile and you melt into a puddle of peppermint syrup and saccharine sentimentality. You are blinded by the twinkling lights, intoxicated by the cocoa and candy, you hum carols in your head and you remember that despite all of the negatives saturating your daily lives– there is the beauty of an untarnished canvas right there in front of you. They are formulating their memories that they will cherish and hold dear for the rest of their lives and hopefully pass on to their children in the future.

These rosy cheeked cherubs (or imps, depending on the time you ask) are the torch carriers that will determine the course of their generation. What a wonderful thing to be able to aid in such an immeasurably important task! You are shaping and sharing this period of their development with them! You are their role models and the holidays serve as another opportunity to teach them a solid set of morals and other important lessons: the gift of giving, the art of being polite, the act of sharing, the oft overlooked trait of tact and the importance of patience, the notion that all actions have consequences–both positive and negative, and that sometimes realities will fall very short of expectations.

Unless your holiday fare is filled with marathons of “Wall Street” leaving children with visions of Gordon Gekko’s “Greed is Good” dancing in their heads… your little one will be picking up on early cues of what the season is really all about. It’s an incredibly stressful time for everyone. And if you pay attention to the news– it’s a tragic and scary time for all–some more so than others. And I do not want to take away from that. Shielding children from facts, of course, not my intention here. They should be abreast of the happenings in the world and aware that life is not always fair

But, remember that there is always a ticking clock on the magic of this particular holiday that will melt away with the snow one year soon– and will never be able to be recaptured in its entirety. While it is 100 percent true that the lights will never lose their luster, the freshly cut firs will be ever fragrant, and gifts will always be a true menace to wrap in time (no matter how far in advance they are purchased!)– the traditions and enjoyment will be eternal BUT, this one part of just believing in the unbelievable…. will be boxed up as nothing but a memory….stored away in the attic forever Enjoy it. Treasure it.

I realize that every family is different. That’s part of what makes the holiday season SO special: the traditions. We all have them. And perhaps I care so much because they are so intrinsic to our Smith clan’s celebration of Christmas. Maybe it is because my grandpa was THE Santa Claus at the store we visited growing up. Maybe it was because I was up on the roof of my grandparent’s house stapling lights into shingles with my dad and cousin, untangling strings of half burnt out bulbs, and living in what I believed to be a literal winter wonderland since I was very young. Maybe it is that I fell asleep each night of the season dressed snugly in themed flannels, my mind filled to the brim with illustrations and imagery from holiday classics, my window saturated with the soft glow of twinkles from the proud adornments and decor dancing in the yard outside, and my belly always full of goodies, treats and cocoa lovingly presented to me by my parents. Maybe it’s because they encouraged creativity and instilled imagination in my sister and I from day one and went above and beyond to make sure that Christmas was spectacularly special for the two of us. It was not something to shrug off or sneer at, but to relish and to revel in the reveries. We were egged on to drink the proverbial punch (or non-alcoholic eggnog!) and suspend disbelief, if only for a few measly magnificently marvelous and magical weeks. Maybe it is because everyone in our family still harbors an unapologetic and unabashed ardor and zest for that Christmas cheer deep within the confines of their own hearts. Maybe it is because even now when I close my eyes and reminisce of family get-togethers from past Decembers, an overwhelming and undeniable sense of warm contentment blankets and consumes me–acting as both an insulator of happiness and as a shield from the harsh bitterness of the outside world’s realities. I might, in fact, be a direct descendant of the Claus crew. Anything is possible.

For Caitlin Noel…. right now…anything is truly possible.

She will learn, sooner rather than later, that life is full of disappointment, sadness, heartache and betrayal. But, right now… reindeer fly and on Christmas morning…. the tree will be lit, the cookies and milk will be consumed with a handwritten note of appreciation left from the big man himself, glossily wrapped presents will be strewn across the floor and a flurry of Kodak moments will inevitably ensue. Hugs, tears, laughter and smiles will etch themselves into your internal scrapbook. Let them. Live vicariously through that indescribable youthful fervor for fun and festivities. Try to catch their charmingly effervescent contagion. For there is truly nothing purer than the joyful spirit that these youngsters have gleaming organically within them.

Whip out the advent calendar and embrace the sheer enjoyment of every day during this all too short of seasons. Mark down the moments of merriment and try to formulate the most positive memories you possibly can. Yes it’s stressful. Yes, it is draining. Yes, it is exhausting. But, every second of duress and distress will become an afterthought when you witness the whimsical wonderment appear on your loved one’s face. Nothing is better or more worth it than being an active participant in injecting cheer into a child’s soul.

Remember to reminisce and recall the most famous reindeer of all. Let loose and let go. Say yes more than no. Replace the iphones and ipads with ice rinks and icicles. Embrace the red and the green– the tinsel and holly. Be happy. Be merry. Be overly jolly. But, let’s make one thing clear, don’t you go and be naughty! This day only comes but once every year, so replace all the chaos with nothing but cheer. Teach that it’s not what comes in the sled, but more the things that you’ve done and you’ve said . Share your traditions with the young and indulge in their fun. The best part of the season is not wrapped up in a bow. It’s not the wanting or getting nor sledding in snow. It is the glint, gleam and glimmer and sparkle in their eyes. The giving, the sharing, those are the highs. So sit back and enjoy. But, don’t blink or you’ll miss it. Savor the beauty and soak up all the Christmas.

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Gifts for Cate

Doc McStuffins Doctor’s Coat

$14.99

Product Description

Doc McStuffins is everyone’s favorite toy doctor, and now, your little one can dress up just like her using the Doc Mcstuffins Doctor’s Dress Up Set! Your set includes Doc’s signature white lab coat with buttons, doctor’s name badge with interchangeable inserts, her super sparkly pink headband and of course, her stethoscope! Fits sizes 4-6X.

Doc Mcstuffins Doctor's Dress Up Set -  Just Play - Toys"R"Us

Dalmatian Vet Kit, 15-Piece

$26.49

Overview

This 15 piece set includes a puppy, 8″ x 8″ x 10.25″ vet cage, bowl, tray, brush, blood pressure meter, mirror, ear examiner, hammer, tongs, scissors, tweezers, 2-piece syringe, stethoscope and thermometer.

Disney® Frozen — Elsa Musical Snow Wand

$9.99

Product Description

Bring the magic of Disney’s Frozen to life with Elsa’s musical snow wand! This beautiful wand features an Elsa figurine inside of a mini snow globe, on top of a beautiful wand! Shake to watch the snow magically swirl around Elsa, then press the button to hear Elsa’s beautiful song from the film!

 

LeapFrog® LeapReader™ Reading and Writing System

  • $45.99

The LeapFrog LeapReader helps your child learn to read and write by guiding letter strokes and sounding out words interactively. This reading and writing system offers imaginative stories with lively character voices to help build your child’s vocabulary and reading comprehension skills.

  • Combines reading, writing and listening exercises to help your child become an independent reader
  • Imaginative stories with lively character voices and fun sound effects sound out words letter by letter
  • Children learn to write stroke by stroke on special LeapFrog Learning Paper with interactive handwriting guidance
  • More than 100 audiobooks, sing-along songs and trivia challenges can be found in the LeapReader library
  • Holds audio for over 40 books
  • Compatible with most Tag books

What’s Included

  • LeapFrog LeapReader
  • Sampler Activity Book and Learning Paper Writing Sheet
  • Download with one audiobook bundle, one music album, one trivia challenge
  • Built-in, rechargeable lithium polymer battery
  • USB cable
  • Quick Start Guide

KidKraft Teepee, Orange

Price: $86.99

 Add a little excitement to your child’s bedroom with this colorful Teepee from KidKraft. This toy, featuring a chevron print and two view windows, stands at over three-and-a-half feet tall and is built to last.

Pacific Play Tents Safari Tent and Tunnel Com.

$47.99

details

Go on an adventure without leaving the living room. This jungle safari tent and tunnel combo features a roomy tent and a colorful crawl tube, which together form a cozy play space for several explorers. Skylight windows provide excellent ventilation, and a waterproof floor cleans up with a damp cloth. The sturdy tent poles are shock corded for easy assembly

Crazy Forts – Princess Playset

$59.95

Overview

Crazy Forts Pink are a unique, award winning, building and creative toy. Crazy Forts come with 69 child-safe toggles and rods that join together to build any play space from your child’s imagination. Create a “Cave” one day, an “Igloo”, “Pirate Ship” or “Castle” the next … put the pieces together in different configurations, cover with bed sheets and “voila!” kids have a unique new play space every time!Crazy Fort is powered by a child’s imagination. Each Crazy Fort Kit contains 25 geometrically precise balls and 44 sticks that connect to create a multitude of possible play structures. This kit comes with pink rods and balls, perfect for your little princess.

 

Paw Patrol Rescue Center

$39.99

details

Your child can plan exciting rescue missions from their own Paw Patrol Rescue Center! They can use the Real Working Periscope to catch any dangers lurking around. In between adventures, your child can play Rescue toss with their friends. Patented Twist N Fold technology allows for instant set-up and easy fold-down storage.

Paw Patrol Rescue Center

 

The Happy’s Pets Plush – Bentley the Golden Retriever

$16.99 Dog

$9.99 ball

$17.99- Agility Set

Your child will love the Happy’s Pet Bentley the Golden Retriever, which does tricks with the included Happy Treat and plays with your little one like a real dog. The durable plush pet will chase the Happy’s Chase N Play Ball (sold separately) for even more fun.

Product Highlights

  • Does special tricks with the included Happy Treat
  • Durable stuffed animal can play with your child
  • Chases the Happy’s Chase N Play Ball (sold separately) for even more doggie fun
  • Requires three AA batteries (not included)
  • Treat requires three button cell batteries (included)

What’s Included

  • Happy’s Pet Bentley the Golden Retriever
  • Happy Treat
  • Three button cell batteries

The Happy’s Agility Course includes 2 tunnels, 3 cones and 1 teeter tooter ramp.Train your Happy’s pets to be their best! Zig Zag through the cones, lead them through the tunnel or run over the teeter tooter. You can set up many combinations for hours of fun!

The Happy's Chase & Play Tennis Ball -  Cepia, LLC - Toys"R"Us
The Happy's Agility Course -  Cepia - Toys"R"Us

Minnie Mouse and Figaro Pet Travel Carrier Play Set

$20.00

Kitty carry all

Fly away to far-off lands (or just around the corner) with Minnie’s rolling play pet carrier, complete with purr-fect plush Figaro pal – plus all the accessories needed for a weekend of fun ”fur” all!

 Minnie Mouse and Figaro Pet Travel Carrier Play Set

Frozen Hide-and-Hug Olaf: A Fun Family Experience!

$17.06

Overview

This deluxe box features a brand-new story about Olaf the snowman. Inside, children will also find a huggable Olaf plush. Following the hide-and-seek theme of the story, parents can hide the plush for children to find and deliver Olaf’s big, warm hug!
 Frozen Hide-and-Hug Olaf: A Fun Family Experience!

Sven Plush – Frozen – Medium – 16”

$19.95

Reindearing

Climb to new heights of high-altitude fun with our super-soft and furry plush reindeer, Sven, direct from Disney’s hilarious new comedy-adventure Frozen

Sven Plush - Frozen - Medium - 16''
Frozen Figure Play Set

Orbeez Luxury Spa: 

$31.99

The fun LED lights of the Orbeez Luxury Spa help set a relaxing tone. Enjoy getting pampered by the thousands of warm, bouncing Orbeez and the massaging vibrations. The built-in strainer helps keep set-up and clean-up simple, and the large foot area makes the spa comfortable for your feet. The activity booklet provides ideas about how to use this luxury spa to its fullest.

Product Highlights

  • Massaging vibrations and bouncing Orbeez soothe tired feet
  • LED lights help set the mood
  • Built-in strainer for simple set-up and clean-up
  • With the large foot area and 2,220 Orbeez, your feet will love this luxurious spa
  • Activity booklet provides fun ideas

PLAYMOBIL PONY PASTURE COMPACT SET & PONY WAGON

$18.62

  • Celebrate 40 years of PLAYMOBIL!
  • Compact set is jam-packed with imaginative fun and includes a special bonus set
  • Look after the ponies as they graze in the pasture
  • Take an afternoon ride through the country in the bonus Pony Wagon with functioning wheels
  • Includes 3 figures, 3 ponies, grooming tool, harness, wagon, birds, butterfly and other accessories

PLAYMOBIL TAKE ALONG HORSE FARM

 $37.32
  • Gallop into action at the Take Along Horse Farm
  • After a day full of riding, the horses can rest in the two stalls with nameplates
  • Figures can bend, sit, stand and turn their heads
  • Encourages children to explore and learn while having fun
  • Set includes 3 figures, 2 horses with saddles, 2 horse stalls, grooming tools, riding crops and other accessories

PLAYMOBIL PADDOCK WITH HORSES AND FOAL

 $19.99

Product Description

Give your horses a chance to enjoy the outdoors with the Paddock with Horses and Foal. Set includes one figure, two horses, foal, food, fencing, hay, tree, and other accessories. Recommended for ages five to ten

PLAYMOBIL GOLDEN RETRIEVER WITH PUPPIES

$7.19

  • Enjoy some canine fun with the Golden Retriever with Puppies
  • The first of six collectible sets Playmobil Dog Breed sets
  • Encourages children to explore and learn while having fun
  • Figures can bend, sit, stand and turn their heads
  • Includes one figure, two adult dogs, two puppies, leash and other accessories

PLAYMOBIL DOG HOUSE PLAY

$8.99

  • Give your dog a comfortable sleeping place with the Dog House
  • Removable roof offers both an enclosed and open structure
  • Figures can bend, sit, stand and turn their heads
  • Encourages children to explore and learn while having fun
  • Includes one figure, dog house, dog, puppies, leash and other accessories

PLAYMOBIL HORSE SHOW PLAYSET

$40.49

  • Show off your riding skills and take first prize at the Horse Show
  • Playmobil is the largest toy manufacturer in Germany
  • Encourages children to explore and learn while having fun
  • Figures can bend, sit, stand and turn their heads
  • Includes 2 figures, 2 show horses, obstacle course, winners’ podium, prize ribbons, trophy, fencing, and additional accessories

PLAYMOBIL SHERIFF WITH HORSE

$11.79

  • Patrol the western countryside for outlaws with the Sheriff with Horse
  • Playmobil is the largest toy manufacturer in Germany
  • Encourages children to explore and learn while having fun
  • Figures can bend, sit, stand and turn their heads
  • Includes one figure, horse, wolf, snake, cacti, handcuffs, and other accessories

PLAYMOBIL CARRYING CASE VET CLINIC

$13.79

  • Have fun on the go with the Carrying Case Vet Clinic
  • Playmobil is the largest toy manufacturer in Germany
  • Figures can bend, sit, stand and turn their heads
  • Encourages children to explore and learn while having fun
  • Includes figure, kitten, puppy, guinea pigs, accessories and convenient carrying case

PLAYMOBIL CHILDREN’S ZOO

$44.29

  • Children will love roleplaying petting and feeding animals at the zoo
  • Playmobil is the largest toy manufacturer in Germany
  • Figures can bend, sit, stand and turn their heads
  • This set includes four figures, piglets, goats, sheep and lamb
  • Also comes with fences for the animal enclosure, rock formation with water fall, birdfeeder and many other accessories

PLAYMOBIL HOLIDAY CARRYING CASE PLAYSET

$13.79

  • Take the fun wherever you may go with the Holiday Carrying Case Playset
  • Playmobil is the largest toy manufacturer in Germany
  • Figures can bend, sit, stand and turn their heads
  • Encourages children to explore and learn while having fun
  • Includes 2 figures, snowman, reindeer and sleigh, Christmas tree and other accessories

PLAYMOBIL SANTA’S WORKSHOP CARRYING CASE PLAYSET

$13.79

  • Take the fun wherever you may go with Santa’s Workshop Carrying Case Playset
  • Playmobil is the largest toy manufacturer in Germany
  • Figures can bend, sit, stand and turn their heads
  • Encourages children to explore and learn while having fun
  • Includes Santa, elf, gifts, toys, wheelbarrow, table, chair and other accessories

PLAYMOBIL SANTA’S HOME

$36.79

  • Kids will love visiting Santa at his home in the North Pole
  • Santa keeps his home nice and cozy with a wood stove and has a Christmas tree for holiday cheer
  • The loft is a great place to store toys or ride the rocking horse
  • On the front patio, a snowman is on the lookout for visitors
  • Includes Santa and an elf figure, soccer ball, guitar and other assorted toys, tree stump with ax, table and bench, mailbox and other accessories

 

 

PLAYMOBIL SLED CAROUSEL

$14.99

 

  • Seat the figures on the sleds and spin them around the carousel
  • Playmobil is the largest toy manufacturer in Germany
  • Encourages children to explore and learn while having fun
  • Figures can bend, sit, stand and turn their heads
  • Set includes four figures, functioning carousel, and other accessories

PLAYMOBIL SANTA’S SLEIGH

$15.79

  • Help deliver Christmas presents with Santa’s Sleigh
  • Playmobil is the largest toy manufacturer in Germany
  • Figures can bend, sit, stand and turn their heads
  • Encourages children to explore and learn while having fun
  • Includes Santa figure, angel figure with wand, sleigh, two reindeer, presents, toys, trumpet and other accessories

Schleich Horse Stable Christmas Advent Calendar Set

$38.38

These unique Advent calendars from Schleich are hard to find in stores, but make a unique gift for kids! Each set includes high quality, hand-painted pieces to be opened each day leading up to Christmas. Schleich earns high ratings for quality and detail, making them collectible!

These calendars make a great addition to the existing barn & the new horse stable! (Both are on the Holiday Toy List for 2014!)

Schleich Christmas on The Farm Advent Calendar Set

$38.38

 

Schleich World of Nature Dogs Series 1

$25.49

Whether it’s a Boxer or an Australian Shepherd – you can’t do without man’s best friend.

Set Includes

  • Two Boxers and puppy
  • Australian Shepherd and puppy
  • Two Pugs
  • Labrador and puppy

 

Melissa & Doug Fold & Go Barn

$44.19
  • Young MacDonald’s will enjoy “down on the farm” fun with this fully assembled, wooden barn
  • Two-story barn is stocked with seven realistic plastic farm animals, a wooden ladder and a folding corral
  • Chunky handles let you take this little bit of “country” wherever you go
  • Exceptional quality and value

Safari Ltd Dogs TOOB

$10.29

  • Each figure is professionally sculpted and finely hand painted
  • Excellent “carry-along” for any excursion since the figures are neatly packed in a reusable acetate tube
  • All our products are phthalate-free and thoroughly safety tested to safeguard your child’s health
  • Featured is our dogs toob. Replica size: 1.5″ to 3″ h (4 to 7.5 cm)
  • Toob includes: beagle, bulldog, dalmation, boxer, sheep dog, saint bernard, great dane
  • Also includes collie, golden retriever, dachshund hound, german shepherd and doberman pincher

Fisher-Price Imaginext DC Super Friends Superman and Wonder Woman

$9.00

  • Team up with Superman and Wonder Woman to take down the world’s biggest villains!
  • Let your imagination soar with this super duo!
  • Includes Imaginext Superman & Wonder Woman figures, and Lasso of Truth
  • Add to the fun with more Imaginext DC Super Friends! (Each sold separately and subject to availability)
  • Create non-stop adventures by expanding your Imaginext world!
 

Fisher-Price Imaginext DC Super Friends Batcave

Price: $25.00
  • Turn figures on activation disks throughout the Batcave to open the Batcomputer & extend walkways, flip up the Batwing, and open & close the front door
  • Press button on launcher to fire projectiles
  • Clip a figure into elevator to access all of the Batcave level
  • Batcave includes Batman figure, Robin figure, flight suit, Batcycle & 3 projectiles for launcher
  • Download the free Imaginext Batcave app on your iPhone & bring it to this Batcave for interactive fun on your iPhone screen and is compatible with iPhone 3G/3GS, iPhone 4/4S, iPhone 5 and iPod touch 2nd, 3rd, 4th & 5th generation (device not included.)

Imaginext® DC Super Friends™Superman™ Playset

$28.00

  • Push button on projectile launcher to fire
  • Clip in 2 figures and slide the lever to make them battle
  • Turn figure on disk to open armory and reveal cape
  • Includes Superman figure, General Zod figure, Superman cape, projectile launcher & projectile, 2 swords, secret key, and handcuffs
  • Superman Playset is modeled after the new fortress of solitude

Justice League Boxed Set w/free storage bag

$18.99 + $9.99 shipping

  • Justice League Box Set
  • Includes four bendable super heroes (Batman, Wonder Woman, Super Man and Green Lantern)
  • Great collectible item for any comic book or super hero enthusiast
  • Each figure measures 5 inches tall
  • Recommended for ages 3 and up

Basic Fun Lite Brite Magic Screen

$24.89

  • Magic Screen that blocks the light when pegs are removed- now kids can make endless free-style designs
  • Reusable Templates – no more throwing away the paper templates
  • New peg shapes makes more detailed pictures
  • Brighter images and more blinking effects
  • Designed with modern inspiration from trends in the marketplace

Basic Fun Lite Brite Magic Screen

Color A Dog House

$25.95 $19.46

Product Description

New for 2014! This large preprinted corrugated dog house will provide endless hours of coloring, drawing and doodling fun for children. Easy to assemble, strong walls provide a safe and fun playhouse for kids (and a dog is included!). Color it, paint it and decorate it – let your child’s imagination be the guide. Ages 4+

Includes:
1 Corrugated dog house (when assembled 17.75″ L x 23″ W x 21″ H)
1 cardboard doggie
6 Giant, washable twin tip markers for broad and fine tip coloring
Easy assembly instructions

PlasmaCar Blue

$44.99

Product Description

The streamlined and colorful PlasmaCar requires no batteries, gears, or pedals–simply hop on and go. Turning the steering wheel propels the vehicle forward and steers it as well. The easy operation will have your child driving, turning, and cruising all over the house in no time. Recommended for kids aged three to eight years, the car holds up to 220 pounds so older children and parents might be tempted to take it for a spin when no one is looking.

Simple, Fun Operation

The PlasmaCar is a well-designed toy that provides a thrill that belies its simple, colorful look. Driving around the house, maneuvering nooks and crannies, and going in reverse never lost its appeal for our testers. They were surprised by just how much speed the car was able to pick up considering its manual operation.

Our testers found the PlasmaCar rides best on hard flat surfaces. Carpet, grass, gravel, and other “rough” surfaces diminished the toy’s ability to propel forward.

Develop Motor Skills While Having Fun

The PlasmaCar rewards good hand-eye coordination and fluid movements and provides a fun way for kids to get exercise while keeping occupied. As kids learn to drive faster and more precisely, they will be developing motor skills. Young children who have trouble propelling the car forward by steering can still have fun on the PlasmaCar by pushing off with their feet.

Because it has no electronics or motor, this toy is pleasantly quiet making it appropriate for indoor and outdoor use.

Durable Design Holds Children up to 220 Pounds

The PlasmaCar is the winner of multiple awards, and our testers had to agree with the consensus: it is a truly superior toy. The PlasmaCar has a durable design that can accommodate children up to 220 pounds. Our testers suggest that adults meeting this threshold hop on and go for a ride themselves. The car is deceptively simple but a lot of fun.

Quick, Easy Assembly

Putting the PlasmaCar together took our testers only a few minutes and required a rubber mallet and a screwdriver. In just a few simple steps, parents should be able to have the car ready for play.

 

Learning Resources Pretend & Play Doctor Set

$22.77

 

  • Standard Packaging: this version comes in the traditional retail box. The perfect gift!
  • Includes stethoscope and pager with realistic sounds
  • Also comes with battery operated cell phone, forceps, bandages, thermometer and more
  • Everything fits into a handy 12″ x 14″ x 3 ½ ” plastic clamp-tight case
  • Your little doctors will have fun with this award winning toy!
  • Prolongs battery life with automatic shut-off feature

Zoobooks DVDS

$30.00

We went in search of the best footage we could find to complement Zoobooks magazine and we hit the jackpot!

Wait until you and the young ones set eyes on these amazing creatures–in habitat footage like you’ve never seen before! What a wonderful way to watch the animals in Zoobooks come to life!

Titles include:
The Kitty Kats,
Beetlemania,
Totally Reptile,
Baby Talk,
Crazy Creepy Crawlers

and
Zoo of the Wild.

You’ll be glad you added these amazing DVDS to your family collection!

 

Run time: 70 minutes per DVD, a total of 3 1/2 hours of wildlife viewing!

Way Cool Wildlife DVD Set

Casio SA-76 44 Key Mini Keyboard, Orange

$49.99

This SA-76 Casio Mini-Size keyboard is great for children to explore the world of music. The SA-76 is an economical way to introduce a child to keyboard playing. The small size is fun to use and will surprise you with great sound.

The Casio Mini Keyboard features:

  • 44 Mini-Keys, perfect for small hands
  • 100 Tones, 50 Rhythms, and 10 Songs
  • One Touch Switch for Piano/Organ
  • LCD Display and Headphone Jack
  • Auto Shut Off after 6 minutes to conserve batteries

Features

  • 44 Mini-Keys, perfect for small hands.
  • 100 Tones, 50 Rhythms, and 10 Songs.
  • One Touch Switch for Piano / Organ.
  • LCD Display and Headphone Jack.
  • Auto Shut Off after 6 minutes to conserve batteries.

Safari: A Photicular Book

Ocean: A Photicular Book

41 Used from $4.6085 New from $10.99

14 Used from $15.6663 New from $9.68

In its extraordinary debut, Safari, introduced the world to Photicular technology. The cheetah bounded, the African elephant flapped its ears—and readers could not believe their eyes. Now the creators of Safari take their work a step further.Ocean offers not only a refinement of inventor Dan Kainen’s Photicular technology, but a subject—undulating creatures of the deep—perfectly suited to the immersive visual pleasure of the process.

The Book with No Pictures

18 Used from $8.0563 New from $6.74

A #1 New York Times bestseller, this innovative and wildly funny read-aloud by award-winning humorist/actor B.J. Novak will turn any reader into a comedian.

You might think a book with no pictures seems boring and serious. Except . . . here’s how books work. Everything written on the page has to be said by the person reading it aloud. Even if the words say . . .

BLORK. Or BLUURF.

Even if the words are a preposterous song about eating ants for breakfast, or just a list of astonishingly goofy sounds like BLAGGITY BLAGGITY and GLIBBITY GLOBBITY.

Cleverly irreverent and irresistibly silly, The Book with No Pictures is one that kids will beg to hear again and again. (And parents will be happy to oblige.)

 

Press Here

$12.56

The New York Times bestseller
“Irresistible.” –The Wall Street Journal

Press the yellow dot on the cover of this book, follow the instructions within, and embark upon a magical journey! Each page of this surprising book instructs the reader to press the dots, shake the pages, tilt the book, and who knows what will happen next! Children and adults alike will giggle with delight as the dots multiply, change direction, and grow in size! Especially remarkable because the adventure occurs on the flat surface of the simple, printed page, this unique picture book about the power of imagination and interactivity will provide read-aloud fun for all ages!

 Press Here

Mix It Up!

The New York Times bestseller!

Accept Hervé Tullet’s irresistible invitation to mix it up in a dazzling adventure of whimsy and wonder. Follow the artist’s simple instructions, and suddenly colors appear, mix, splatter, and vanish in a world powered only by the reader’s imagination. Tullet—who joins such greats as Eric Carle and Leo Lionni as a master of his craft—sets readers on an extraordinary interactive journey all within the printed page. Tullet prompts plenty of giggles in addition to a profound understanding of colors, and once again displays his unique genius and vision in a work that is a glorious and richly satisfying companion to Press Here.

 

The Secret Life of Squirrels

$11.90

Overview

Adorable squirrels as you’ve never seen them!

You may think you know what squirrels do all day…but Mr. Peanuts is no ordinary squirrel. Instead of climbing tress, he plays the piano. (“Moonlight Sonutta” is his favorite.) Instead of scurrying through the woods, he reads books (such as A Tail of Two Cities). But everything is more fun with company, so Mr. Peanuts writes a letter to Cousin Squirrel and invites him for a visit!

Featuring candid photographs of wild squirrels in handcrafted, homemade miniature settings, this irresistible book is sure to surprise and delight readers and animal lovers of every age!

The Secret Life of Squirrels

How to Train a Train

$12.99

Overview

Everything you need to know about finding, keeping, and training your very own pet train.

Finding advice on caring for a dog, a cat, a fish, even a dinosaur is easy. But what if somebody’s taste in pets runs to the more mechanical kind? What about those who like cogs and gears more than feathers and fur? People who prefer the call of a train whistle to the squeal of a guinea pig? Or maybe dream of a smudge of soot on their cheek, not slobber? In this spectacularly illustrated picture book, kids who love locomotives (and what kid doesn’t?) will discover where trains live, what they like to eat, and the best train tricks around—everything it takes to lay the tracks for a long and happy friendship. All aboard!

How to Train a Train

How to Babysit a Grandma

$13.66

How to Babysit a Grandma

Overview

New York Times bestseller

When you babysit a grandma, if you’re lucky . . . it’s a sleepover at her house! And with the useful tips found in this book, you’re guaranteed to become an expert grandma-sitter in no time. (Be sure to check out the sections on: How to keep a grandma busy; Things to do at the park; Possible places to sleep, and what to do once you’re both snugly tucked in for the night.) From the author-illustrator team behind the bestselling How to Babysit a Grandpa comes a funny and heartwarming celebration of grandmas and grandchildren.

 

Snowmen at Night

$10.04

Overview

Have you ever built a snowman and discovered the next day that his grin has gotten a little crooked, or his tree-branch arms have moved? And you’ve wondered . . . what do snowmen do at night? This delightful wintertime tale reveals all! Caralyn Buehner’s witty, imaginative verse offers many amusing details about the secret life of snowmen and where they go at night, while Mark Buehner’s roly-poly snowmen are bursting with personality and charm. From the highly successful team that created such winning titles as Fanny’s Dream, Snowmen at Night is fabulous, frosty, and fun!

Snowmen play games at night when no one is watching.

Snowmen at Night Snowmen at Night

 

The Numberlys

$12.59

Overview

From the team who brought you The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore comes an alphabet tale extraordinaire!

Once upon a time there was no alphabet, only numbers…

Life was…fine. Orderly. Dull as gray paint. Very…numberly. But our five jaunty heroes weren’t willing to accept that this was all there could be. They knew there had to be more.

So they broke out hard hats and welders, hammers and glue guns, and they started knocking some numbers together. Removing a piece here. Adding a piece there. At first, it was awful. But the five kept at it, and soon it was…artful! One letter after another emerged, until there were twenty-six. Twenty-six letters—and they were beautiful. All colorful, shiny, and new. Exactly what our heroes didn’t even know they were missing.

And when the letters entered the world, something truly wondrous began to happen…Pizza! Jelly beans! Color! Books!

Based on the award-winning app, this is William Joyce and Moonbot’s Metropolis-inspired homage to everyone who knows there is more to life than shades of black and gray.

The Numberlys

 

The Day the Crayons Quit

$10.96

Overview

Crayons have feelings, too, in this funny back-to-school story illustrated by the creator of Stuck and This Moose Belongs to Me—now a #1 New York Times bestseller!

Poor Duncan just wants to color. But when he opens his box of crayons, he finds only letters, all saying the same thing: His crayons have had enough! They quit! Beige Crayon is tired of playing second fiddle to Brown Crayon. Black wants to be used for more than just outlining. Blue needs a break from coloring all those bodies of water. And Orange and Yellow are no longer speaking—each believes he is the true color of the sun.

What can Duncan possibly do to appease all of the crayons and get them back to doing what they do best?

The Day the Crayons Quit

 

Kinetic Sand Box Set

$19.99

Overview

Your child can have fun shaping this fun sand into just about anything with the Spin Master Kinetic Sand Box and Molds Set in the Purple style, which features four plastic molds and a sandbox tray for tons of creative fun. This wacky sand sticks together but doesn’t get stuck on your child’s hands and doesn’t leave behind any residues. Your little one can feel the sand ooze and flow like a liquid through his or her fingers without drying out and create sandcastles without having to make a trip to the beach! Your child will let his or her imagination run wild with the fun molds and endless possibilities of kinetic sand.

Product Highlights

  • The sand oozes through fingers like a liquid without getting your child’s hands wet for a fun, tactile experience
  • Stimulate your little one’s imagination as he or she creates fun shapes with the four plastic molds
  • The sand won’t dry out or get stuck on little hands
  • Leaves no residue behind on surfaces
  • Sand is made from 98% sand and 2% polymers for a long-lasting design that is also gluten-free

Melissa & Doug Cowboy Role Play Set

$24.99

Product Description

Little cowpokes can slip on these pleather chaps and denim-and-pleather vest to dress up like a real cowboy and rustle up adventures in the wild west! The costume set includes a hat, red bandanna and removable badge, so your youngun’ can be a make-believe villain, sheriff or both! This role-play set, sized for children ages 3-5, will inspire limitless imagination and pretend-play fun.

 

Melissa & Doug Role-Play Costume Set – Knight

$29.99

A fabric tunic, a “chain mail” hood, and durable foam sword and shield will transform your young adventurer into a valiant knight! With authentic medieval details, these role-play accessories encourage lots of exciting pretend play.

Richard Scarry Airport Game

$15.97

Get Ready for Take Off

It’s a busy, busy day at the airport, and you’re the pilot. Set up “destination” game boards around the room. Load your plane with your favorite busytown characters and wait for the “all clear” for take-off. Then fly to faraway places–the beach, mountains, city, and more. Collect souvenirs wherever you go. The player with the most souvenirs wins. It’s out-of-your-seat role play fun.

Richard Scarry’s Busy World Comes to Life

Watch the classic stories come to life as the game box transforms into the busy airport where players use the 3-D control tower and dice to load passengers discover destinations. Sturdy game pieces will stand the test of travel and hours of active play.

Quick Set Up, Easy-to-Learn Gameplay

Place the destinations around the room. Drop the dice down the control tower and load the passengers or get the call for take-off. Then fly your passengers to place they need to go.

 

Baby Dinosaur 36 Piece Shaped Box Floor Puzzle

Overview

Great, new learning puzzle for young children. Each puzzle is packed in a delightful, heavy-duty contoured storage box with 36 rugged, oversized pieces.

 

Baby Dinosaur 36 Piece Shaped Box Floor Puzzle

 

 

 

 

retail rantings and rumblings

This is the time of year that I start to get an itch for my old life as a retail drone at Best Buy and Hastings Entertainment. It’s the busiest period, the most bustling and chaotic, the most dreaded by everyone but the higher-ups in this consumer based field. The ringing of the Salvation Army’s charitable bells are the shrieking of banshees to the employee and the mythological Sirens to the shoppers.  Ting-a-ling. Ting-a-ling. Cha-cha-cha-ching. The repetition of carols and holiday classics quickly morph into this maddeningly melodious nightmare–losing their chipper quality and instead taking on an eerie, slow motion horror film quality….crackling and echoing inside your mind and ping-ponging against the cavernous four walls around you.  They haunt and fa-la-la-la- follow you everywhere.  Sweaty, stressed and surly shoppers come and roam the aisles in droves with lists, demands and desires aplenty. These zombie-like hoards are relentless…. blinded by the baubles and twinkling lights and lulled into submission by the subliminal advertising, they grunt and groan their way through the aisles with no regard for anything or anyone but themselves.  Physical decay is replaced by moral and social.  Filthy beasts!  Lines are long, tempers are short, products sell out, ads are misprinted, feet are aching, babies are crying, etc. This is most employee’s idea of what Hell might look like. To me, however… this was my happy place. I loved it. And I miss it.  I miss being a part of the process of making people’s lives a little brighter. I flourished amidst the freakshow.  Schmaltzy and scarily honest.

I worked retail for about 6 years. I never felt ashamed of my job title. I never thought that I was lesser of an individual because I was not making much money. Sure, I was surpassed by my peers and not even coming close to fulfilling my potential. It’s painfully evident that I never truly even physically attempted to stretch my wings wide enough to accomplish any real goals that should and could be attainable by me…. Mentally is another story entirely… But, I was  paralyzed by fear of being mediocre and thus I searched out something easy and low on the stress totem pole.  Interestingly enough, I soon learned that this undesirable little shift job was one that I was enjoying and surprisingly adept at.  It bolstered my confidence, provided a service to the general population, and it suited my debilitating social anxieties and phobias. It was a good fit. It still would be.

My only problem with retail, besides the negative stigma attached to it, is that no one else ever seemed to care about being the best they could be at the position that they held as much as I did.  It was exasperating, confusing and perplexing on many levels. I prefer to surround myself with others who mirror my enthusiasm and desire for excelling at any given task…no matter how trivial it seemed or probably was. To me,each time I was challenged to solve a customer’s dilemma, locate a product, utilize my encyclopedic knowledge of film trivia, recommend or suggest their entertainment selection for the evening, answer any questions, or just offer up light conversation with a smile– I would take those seemingly mundane assignments as seriously as I would anything else in my life and any misstep would linger and haunt me for days (and sometimes even years!). As they say at NASA, “Failure is not an option.” No problem could be too big or too small and nor should it be.

I’ve always believed that I would thrive at a local independent establishment– one where you are rewarded with incentives, hours and raises rather than threatened with cuts, department switches or even termination.  The idea of forming relationships and true bonds with returning regular customers and almost familial ties with coworkers appeals to me…to be a part of something that lived and thrived because of your individual contributions and determination fills me with intrigue and want.  I crave that community.I love the thrill of a good add-on or upsell… but only without my being forced at hypothetical gunpoint into doing so by corporate bigwigs and their impossibly out of touch policies and numerical goals.  One of the worst aspects of being an underling at a big-box store was essentially working as though you were receiving commission, when really you were just fighting for job security.  I always felt that I caved to their mandate of pressuring customers into buying product and pushing promotions that lacked sincerity or customization because…well… I was.  But, on a personal level I gained nothing. I did not enjoy being a corporate puppet or talking mouthpiece for faceless boardroom suits and ties.

I understand how capitalism works.  I understand why rules, regulations, guidelines, etc are in place and play at these establishments.  I don’t have a problem with any of it in theory.  And truly all of this could of been rectified by the occasional pat on the back.  There is nothing that makes me work harder than affirmation that my attention to detail and devotion to my craft is noticed and appreciated by others…and nothing that cripples and demoralizes me more than harsh words,unnecessary discipline or worse…. a complete and utter lack of any acknowledgment whatsoever!  The degree to which other people’s opinions and words matter to me is incredibly unhealthy, but a fantastic motivator!

I also enjoyed taking pride in the physical area of my department and fastidiously maintained it to meet my most stringent of standards.  Everything had its place, everything was alphabetized and orderly as to make it easy for the customer or employee  to find the appropriate product and to promote an air and aesthetic of professionalism.   This was not as important to a big corporation than the bottom line was, which made for many days that I would come in off-the-clock as a “customer” and furtively arrange and tidy things to my liking.  I could spot a misplaced item a mile away and it would send me into fits of panic and unease upon its detection.  I inherited this from my mother.  She who would sweep the pine needles from the dirt floor at a campsite in the woods.  The appearance of the environment around us is representative of ourselves.  I also firmly believe that if your surroundings are clean, streamlined and efficient then you will feel better and perform at a higher level as a result. I keep my little hovel of an apartment orderly for the same reason–despite us never having any visitors!

But, I digress… the fact of the matter is that I am a little bummed that I don’t possess the keen vision that I did four years ago.  Reading signs is near impossible, staring at a computer screen is a challenge, flying through tasks at record time is no longer a practical possibility…. I’d be a great asset and addition to anyone’s team, but not an all-around MVP anymore.  I find that unacceptable.  Without the leniency and forgiveness that I could find in an independent setting– I am out of luck finding a suitable business to share my wealth of retail awesomeness with.  I was beyond thrilled and even more envious of the Northeast on my most recent trip to Massachusetts.  There were a myriad of reasons for this, but one was the abundance of locally owned and operated stores and shops–streets of them!  It gave me hope for my future.  But, in the meantime I save my smile, small talk,  and never ending endurance and willingness to go above and beyond for my friends and family…and mainly my dog.  I still get my kicks by picking up fallen items in the grocery store, folding clothes that are crumpled and tossed aside at the mall and laser lining the hell out of stocked shelves.  I might even awkwardly continue utilizing my ingrained mantra of helping anyone within ten feet of me. Sigh. Perhaps in time my confidence will catch up with my mental drive… or I’ll wake up in Beantown with an accent and new life. Until then, I will be the lunatic who yearns to be the communal whipping boy in a sea of real cynicism and mock enthusiasm during this crazy shopping season.. I’ll continue being jealous of my girlfriend who wears a vest and name-tag, wants to strangle Charlie Brown, Snoopy and The Vince Guaraldi Trio and comes home doused in glitter, tinsel and disdain for humanity.  Ah, what a wonderful world!

I will still enjoy this holiday season.  I will enjoy it more than years past.  I will not be participating on the commercial side, but I will throw myself into the mix of that of the consumer.  Perhaps monies won’t be exchanged for goods because of the whole lack of funds thing.  However, the material will be replaced with the consumption of ambiance, energy and second-hand frenzied hysteria.  The jubilance and cheer will enchant and mystify me enough to detract from my deepest insecurities and personal failings. My visual acuity may be dismal in regards to details and minutiae, but it excels at absorbing the warm embrace of color and light.  I do not have to strain my sight to become instantly engulfed in a kaleidoscope of candy-coated razzle dazzle, sparkles and shimmers, twinkles and glimmers, an explosion of pure wonderment.  It truly is a feast for the eyes and a dizzying array of decor and delight await me in the coming months. This year I’m truly happy to be a part of the festivities that come hand in hand with autumn and winter.  Unlike the past six years, I won’t be singing the blues but rather rockin’ around the Christmas tree.   I won’t be in a holidaze for the holidays and will instead be soberly (but not somberly) soaking up every precious moment of the season.  I am prime for people watching.  So, bring it, Santa!  Let’s do this!

tis the season

Hindsight is 20/20…. Foresight is….Questionable at best.

  So, it’s been about a year exactly since I woke up behind a veil of haze and fog–to what I thought was nothing more than a temporary side effect of a night of fitful sleep. I cracked open my crusty lids to a blurriness that I believed would dissipate shortly after getting up and at ‘em. However, minutes turned into hours, then days, then weeks then months…. and after many ophthalmologists and specialists poked, prodded and peered into the frightened distressed blue marbles resting upon my broken visage…. it was deduced that this was my “new normal.” I had already accepted the inevitable by this point and instead of being visibly crushed I was silently and graciously accepting that I could now close this taxing chapter of uncertainty and focus on that which now laid ahead (I have to choose my paths, directions and such more carefully and with more trepidation these days! :P).

I am still not comfortable with this new ocular outlook.. I’ve adapted and adjusted to this astronomical shift in my life in the best way I know how….not well. But, I manage. To go from 20/20 with glasses to being incapable of driving a car or reading a book after twenty-something years is…. not something you can segue into easily. I am the partner of an artist of whose work I cannot fully appreciate. The daughter of a photographer of whose pictures can no longer be seen in the detail they deserve. The daughter of an avid and voracious reader whose enjoyment and appreciation of books can no longer be shared with. The sister of someone who writes a blog for a living that can now only be skimmed because of how frustrated I get with being unable to focus on the screen. I worry about what will happen when my parents are no longer able to drive me to and fro. I have to strain my eyes at all times just to make sure I don’t trip, misstep, or fall. I have to rely on others to tell me what items are on menus or ask them what signs say or what they are talking/laughing about. I have to memorize what people are wearing when I am in a crowded area so that I have at least a slim chance of finding them again when separated. I have mistaken others for my parents, sister and Meg on more than one occasion. I have to watch foreign films while sitting on my computer an inch from the screen to read the subtitles and I still don’t always catch the entirety of the written dialogue. If I see a gnat or a spot on my glasses– I panic thinking that maybe the impairment is growing more severe or morphing in some way. And I go to bed each night worrying that in the morning there will be no sunshine–and all that will envelop me is total darkness. It’s a fear that I am not quite sure is completely unsubstantiated.

Yes, it’s scary and more than a little deflating to have each minimal task multiplied by a million in terms of complexity, but you know what? It could always be so much worse. I can still see. I can see colors, shapes, the freckles on Meg’s face when I’m up close, the flowers peppering the ground, the blooms on the trees, the major details on buildings and landmarks, the sun in the sky, the smiles on faces and virtually everything wonderful about this world. I just don’t see it the same way I did… or that you do.

Life has it’s way of throwing curve-balls at you and keeping you on your toes. I’m pretty good at baseball, but I would be most appreciative if the powers that be could lob the pitches from now on– a little harder to catch and prepare these days! And looking on the bright side (which is always a good idea now) is intrinsic to my plowing through each day with vigor and fervor. I’ve become more social and mirthful since I started having to stare through the equivalent of a waterfall or frosted glass all day. My dependence on others has forced me into this position and I have had to learn to accept that my independence in this particular area is no longer an option. I find humor in the mundane and joke to make it seem or feel less awkward and frustrating. And as mawkish and ridiculous as it may seem… I appreciate everyone and everything just a little bit more. The sight that I have, the cacophony of sound around me, the breeze on my cheek, the pounding of each step, the touch of a hand, and the kindness of others. There are worse things. However, I am still waiting on my new super power that takes the place of sight.

So, yes, I may now read like a four year old stumbling and stopping over each individual letter. I might appear as though I am using a foreign language dictionary in a strange land to translate words into sentences that make some semblance of sense. I might quadruple check both ways before I cross the street as though I am playing the classic “Frogger” arcade game. And I might have premature wrinkles from squinting with such prolonged intensity. But, that’s all ok. I’m somehow happier. From this myopia and dystopia came a cornucopia of happiness, empathy and unbridled enthusiasm that had been held captive and laid dormant for so long. Stranger than fiction.

I went into a period of cessation from documenting my life for multiple reasons. One main purpose was to stop feeling as though I was complaining too much. I never sought out that type of confessional . I always wanted this to be a diary of thoughts and realizations that I encountered each day. The reason it became so intense was because I entered a realm of disorder that needed to be attended to in a professional manner.

I have no shame in that. Yes, I have sliced my skin to shreds, I have wounds that will never heal, I have hurt everyone around me, I wanted to die, I went to a psychiatric ward, and I am still a pawn in the ultimate chess game of life and loss.

There is a silver lining here. I am twenty-eight and am now finding happiness in my day to day existence. It took about as long as I would of anticipated. I did not start my period until sixteen and did not lose my virginity until twenty-two. I’m just always going to be late to the party. I’m ok with that. I’m very logical, level-headed, and literal. I will never alter the way I view the outside world. I have no inkling nor any innate desire to do so. Practicality courses through my veins.

All I concentrate on at this juncture in my life is making everyone around me’s life easier. This is what I know I can do without any extra effort. I am a generally nice person. I will always be as kind as I can when granted the opportunity.

Each day is another chance to prove that there are great people in this world. And I hope to make someone smile and feel a little happier every morning! I may not be religious, but I am always hoping to be a saving grace.

PostScript.

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Reflections are an interesting fear to tackle. There are two main fears that are associated with what a mirror will provide you with instantly: a look at yourself in the present and/or send you spiraling to a  situation that you may have experienced in the past. I somehow managed to gaze both directly into these perpetually confounding eyes, always aglow with the prospect of gaining knowledge and understanding…. (but, still not sure if they are blue, green, or a new crayon color) on a daily basis without even coming into contact with reflective glass.

I’ve avoided mirrors for years and years. Much the same way that I have also evaded the dictatorship that a traditional scale will provide me with. I don’t need to know how much I weigh and I am perpetually aghast by the pallor, the pimples, and petrified wood effect that my skin has been forced to endure over the years. Government, fix that! I don’t need to be reminded of the ghastly visage and general mien that I possess.

There have been zero days where I found myself attractive, but I have sort of learned a valuable lesson during the epoch of anorexia that provided an unwelcome shady umbrella that literally fell upon my life– and that was to never look at myself in the mirror or to calculate my pounds on a scale. Ever.

I’ve held true to those sentiments as outlandish as they are. I’m happier that way. (Yes, I have to inform nurses at the doctor’s offices.  However, if you must know… I am 5’5″ and weigh 120)  Thanks useless people at doctors’ offices.

Eating disorders are not things you just wake up and cure yourself of. They stick with you forever. They can and often times do consume you- literally. At this point…. I have given up on the idea that I will ever be “pretty.” I am not going to be THAT person. And this is a big step for me in the sense that I can let go a little on the attempts to achieve perfectionism. It would of been a goal that left me reaching and reaching and reaching further for a finish line that never truly existed. It became time to accept the wonderful blessings that I was bestowed in lieu of a waist-size that is unachievable Make the best of what you were granted, because honestly you are beautiful, gorgeous and special no matter what you believe yourself to be :)

I’m going to also add this little tiny bit of knowledge and realization that has provided me with confidence that I never knew that I had. I have learned to stand up straight and hold the door open for others– while asking them how their day was or stating that I hope they have a wonderful evening. I am so shy that none of this comes naturally. However, I have determined, just utilizing a simple five day venture into the Nation’s Capital, that a simple phrase or praise can turn someone’s life around. It can change a Monday into a Funday. Why not try to help someone…. if you are granted the opportunity? A smile and a familial exchange can go a long way!
No one wants or deserves to live inside of a calorie calculator.

https://twitter.com/sunbearsmith

I may be the opposite of what my parents wished for their second child, but when you combine the powers of my amazing sister and myself– we are unstoppable!  Caitlin can be added into this triforce.   And yes… that is a Zelda reference.

Longer than expected (that’s what she said)

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What an unusual life that I lead and live. When I was in the midst of my adolescence… not once did I foresee my future playing out the way it has. In most people’s eyes– I am the text book definition of a failed prospect. I had the pedigree worthy of an epic success story in the making. However, my life took a severe 180 degree turn while in my early and mid-twenties. Decisions and repercussions that I am facing head-on now at twenty-eight.

I’ve noticed that the way I view the world and other people in general, has instigated a significant shift in the past year. I have always been a late bloomer in every avenue imaginable. And my appreciation and acknowledgment of the weight of responsibility placed upon mature adults is no different. I’m just now learning to figure out aspects of survival in a democratic, corporate, financially based world. I’ve had the amazing benefit of having both of my parents live near me, help me, aid me, and treat me the way a daughter (or son, if that is the case) should be treated. I am blessed. And I’m non-religious–so, I use that term quite infrequently.

However, at this ripe old-age…. my cavernous (often times carnivorous) brain has become the dictator in the otherwise symbiotic relationship between sense of self/emotion and logic and reasoning. The Civil War ended 149 years ago, but it still runs rampant in another form or facet within the confines of my head.

And this is not an expression of admittance to suffering from multiple personality disorders. Quite the contrary, in fact. I am actually in the process of finally getting a grasp of who I am and what I have to offer to the world. As is the case with many people– I hit rock bottom before I regained the drive and energy to climb to the top. The enigmatic quality of my persona is part of the charm, yeah?

I will not deny that the past ten years of my life have been a free-fall into the lowest depths a singular human being can endure without lasting repercussions. I’ve scraped the bottom of the barrel figuratively and literally. I have, at points during the height (and yet, literal lows) of depression pondered if I were even worth the air space it took to fill my lungs with oxygen and subsequent life. Of course I have been able to accomplish that. But, my reflection in the mirror breeds insecurity and self-loathing. I am learning to curb that innate hatred. I have adapted and adopted a new way of viewing myself. Gone are the days of focusing on failure–whether it be a pimple or anxiety or the ultimate soul-crusher of not graduating from college…. and in comes the faux positive. It’s become clear me grasping desperately onto the elements of life that prove to be somewhat optimistic are key to eliciting a smile from my dimpled face…. and inevitably lead to the stimulation of euphoria in my little head and heart. I can convince myself that everything is great. As Tegan and Sara say in “The Lego Movie” EVERYTHING IS AWESOME. Even when it is not to the outsider looking in.

I’ve been with Meg for four years and five months. She is the centrifugal force in my seemingly useless world. I love her more than I am capable of expressing in words, because as of now– there are no words to describe her or our weird connection to one another. It works. Even when it doesn’t…. we have never slept apart from one another. We are otters…. we hold hands when we fall asleep to prevent drifting apart. Cheesy? Yes. But, does it work for us? Also yes.

I recently had the opportunity to visit Washington DC with my parents, sister and 4.5 year old niece. My sister is a travel blogger. She has proven to be quite successful in that field (mommypoints.com). I adore my sister and she is the epitome of a woman that anyone should look up to. She has drive, she has ambition, she has charm, she has humor, she has knowledge and she is….on top of all of that…. a fantastic mother to my niece and a wife to my brother-in-law. She, on the surface, is always calm and collected– a true testament to the American Dream. She had a vision, she worked hard, and eventually conquered.

I admit that I am sometimes envious of her success. I grew up fearing her. I was a pawn to the Queen and ended up enduring what any sibling five years younger would be faced or forced with. She was the center of attention until I was born– and she did not like the spotlight being shared. She ingeniously concocted many ways to eliminate the sunshine from my innate persona. However, years later she has become a more intrinsic part of my life. She is an inspiration. She is who I wish that I could become. And though I know that that is not only improbable, but borderline IMPOSSIBLE– I do hope that some of her ability to succeed and excel rubs off on me. Yes, she makes a lot of money, but she uses it to help and benefit others. She’s a hero in my book. And will forever be the best sister in the world–even when I ask too many questions :)

I have faced a lot of obstacles this year–last July (a little later in the month) I was officially informed of the irreversible eye condition that has stripped away over 50 percent of my vision in both ojos azules. Yes, I’ve had an entire 365 days to become accustomed to it, but it never felt so real and devastating as it did on this recent Washington DC trip. Fighting back tears is something that I am more than accustomed to…. I am a sensitive person. But, being unable to read all of the information presented on the tags and labels in front of the memorabilia and historical artifacts on display in the Smithsonian Museums’ that we visited (most of them) was a hard pill to swallow (apologize in advance for colloquiums.} It became even more evident while sitting on the Nation’s Capital staircase and not being able to differentiate between red and white fireworks or being able to understand why the crowd was cheering (it was because of a showcase of white stars inside the fireworks). It wasn’t until then that I realized that I will not be able to drive a vehicle again. I won’t be able to live a normal life as most would define it. I actually need bifocals at the ripe old age of twenty-eight. And even with that– I will never have perfect vision again. However, when and if I get those bifocals… I will spare my poor current glasses the terrible life of being ripped from my face when I look at a book compared to a billboard. Despite all of the physical ailments– including a left arm that has so much nerve damage that I can barely type with it and the lack of clear eyesight (but with bookoos of foresight and/or clairvoyance — she claims to love me. And as of right now, I am inclined to believe her. I truly hope.  Meg is a terrible liar.  And I like to believe I have thrown a lasso on any indiscretion.  I’m also so cute. :P

However, these impediments are not just genetically predisposed to me. I exacerbated the situation by imbibing alcohol to the extreme. I did so to alleviate the symptoms of severe social anxiety, major depressive disorder, borderline personality disorder, etc. I have been diagnosed with every ailment imaginable. Who knows anymore? Unfortunately for me…. compulsive behavior runs in my family. Many times this is an attribute that can aid and boost you into a VIP status (my sister), but it can also smother you and confine you to an endless darkness that will never relent. I fell into the latter trap.

My idiosyncrasies morphed into compulsions that led to my former eating disorder and suicidal thoughts. Remember– I never actively tried to kill myself. I thought about it, but never once attempted it. Be careful what you type in blogs or you could end up in a psych ward like I did.

The bright side of all of the aforementioned sentiments is that at this point in my life I am learning to be happy. I’m learning to find happiness in each day. I wake up early. I take the dog on a walk– 4:30am or 6:00am and I smile. I am happy to be alive. I am happy that I still have a family. I am happy that I can afford food. I am happy that I outgrew my past. I knew I would, but impetuous behavior was a major obstacle. Now, I want and seek to be the conduit for others to find some semblance of normalcy in their life (Note to Meg: “I’ma Warrio! I’ma gonna win!)

As an extremely belated afterthought– I would like to express that on a personal level…. I have nothing against any of my conservative friends. I hope that you all understand the fact that I am, and always will be, leaning towards the liberal side of the spectrum. But, if logic and reasoning is utilized in an argument for your beliefs– I take that in…jest (I kid, I mean ingest) and dissect all of it. I pull apart fact and fiction *and oftimes friction) and will probably comment on it. Politics are important to me. I’m not a liberal, conservative or moderate. I am nothing until I read about ten pieces of confirmed fact before I lean towards an affiliation. Regardless of your personal belief or hatred of your Chief, I always hope that your moral compass directs you in the right way. Spend a weekend with Meg and I and you will see that even us deplorable gays are sometimes a natural coupling and worthy of a marriage license. Even in Tejas.

Her family may not understand or attempt to grasp the constraints that these disabilities impose upon me and my plight for living a quasi-normal life. That’s fine. I know I can’t win their affection. I have tried. Looking up bead/jewelry stores in the area, hiring my mom (no pay, but lots of love granted her way) to help deep clean the apartment before her Mom comes to town and prior to my vacation. I do everything I can to make the transition from a haute coutre boutique to a Hampton Inn (enjoy those clean down comforters).

They will never ever ever accept me as a suitable suitor for their red-haired goddess of a daughter. Understandable. I wouldn’t accept me either. But, it is what it is. I love her. Unconditionally. I have for over four years. I never want to walk away. I just want to step closer. I’m not going to be rich. I am going blind. But, even with those inconvenient issues…. I am certain on my belonging with her. Never even been up for consideration or termination.

As every fairy tale must accept and applause its’ conclusion:  “The End”  And I hope the addendum of
Happily Ever After” prevails!

Life is hard. I have not hid from personal issues. These will be the least forgiving. Perhaps because they have never been overlapping. Anorexia, Myopia, Depression, Anxiety, etc. I say et cetera because I have no clue who I am or what my problems are. If I have one more person tell me I am pretty or I am using my appearance the wrong way then I am pretty much done. I can’t handle social media bullshit. If I have not been able to look into a mirror for 10 years– and have Meg do things like plucking eyebrows…. I certainly don’t want people rating a facebook picture of me. I am so shy. I ran into legit friends in the store and hid the other day. Life is a game of duck and cover for me. I will never feel comfortable. Unfortunately, I am a pale, blue eyed, light brown haired gal…..I get noticed everywhere. Please know….. I am just not cool. You are better avoiding me then engaging a conversation with me. I can’t delve into details, but, don’t try to be involved in my life. I wake up every morning wondering why I survived. I have a fiance I cannot marry. 4.5 years means nothing to the Government. I cannot drive because of my vision. Meg works at a minimum wage job. This is our love. This is our life. It is everything. I have to fight my brain to use my left hand. Worth it. All I wanted to say was that who gives a fuck waht I used to look like? I have never changed sizes– still the same size. But, my girlfriend has changed sizes and hates herself because of it. So, let’s stop applauding us for not gaining weight.

I know my relationship is on the line and I have little time to let her know how much she means to me.  I am here, I can steer, I will be the one in fear– I protect you from all that dare to persevere.  I am all you need, I am your shield when you heed defense, I am yours when you need a strong fence.Life is tough, and ofttimes I am too rough.  But, I am never giving up.  You are going to be mine throughout the course of time.

I’m sorry, but you are stuck with me.  :D

mom

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There is no other way to say,  To close my lips and walk away. I work so hard and leave the scene.  The  drivel can be so mean.  I only want to say words that can just wash and wipe away.  The life I have lived cannot be changed.  The patterns can just be rearranged.  I lied, I stole, I opposed and suppressed  the truths I told,  The stagnation in this situation was you…. my mother.  You remain a formidable suppressor in this screwed up realm.  You are my beacon, my object to cling on. .. every time I’m scratching or crashing  you are who I’m going to latch on to . I fail to show it,  I neglect to prove it.  But, there is no one who can be more important than what you became to me.  I’m hardheaded, I’m hardened, I’m ofttimes downtrodden.  Despite all my failures, you peek through the fissures.  You love even when I never reciprocate.  You’re always there to anticipate all of my stumbles and tumbles– All my ups and downs.  Every step of the way you can upright a frown.  Without you I would have only blank verses, but because you exist my life still traverses…. A simple laugh or a smile, makes each day worth while.  Yet, this one is for you and thanks for all that you do.

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