Saturday, August 7, 2010

A Sweet Texas Morning

If you've read here for any time, you probably know we're crazy for Dave Ramsey! Six and a half years ago we took an FPU class. At the time, Sister was in my belly. Because of the poor choices we'd made, we were in a financial wreck. We knew we didn't want our children to make the same mistakes we had. We knew we wanted our children to know how to handle money - how to budget - the value of a dollar - the value of hard work - and how to live on less than they earned.

For Sister's fifth birthday, we gave her Financial Peace Jr. Much to our surprise and satisfaction, Little Man was eager to hop on board. We set the children up with a job chart consisting of certain jobs that are to be done in order to earn a commission (and if they don't do their jobs, they pay us...and of course, we still have jobs or chores they're required to do just because we're a family and we work together...).

So...last fall, Sister decided she wanted an American Girl doll. This would be her third. A generous cousin had given Sister Molly, along with her trunk and accessories. (These were from cousin's childhood.) The fam went in on Samantha for Christmas two years ago. So we told Sister that since those dolls are pretty pricey, if she wanted one, she would have to earn the money to buy it herself. Aren't we mean!

And earn the money is exactly what she did. She swept floors, watered plants, scrubbed down patio furniture, cleaned out the car, picked up a lot of pine cones and sticks, dusted, cleaned the toilet, put away other family members' clothes, etc., etc., etc. The girl worked and she worked hard. It took her nearly nine months. During that time, she refused to spend what she'd saved on anything else. Her eye was on the prize.

So when we planned our trip to Texas, since she'd saved enough...

We knew we had to make a stop here!

This was one of the most precious mornings I have ever spent with my little girl. She was radiant and quiet with excitement and anticipation. We entered the store, she spotted Kaya, the doll she'd saved for. She pointed her out and let me know "that's the one." Then she asked to walk around and see everything. And we did. She looked and looked and reached up and touched the dolls' dresses and accessories.

We made our way upstairs and spotted the beauty parlor! The Engineer (I'm calling T The Engineer from now on...bear with me.) suggested we have Molly and Samantha's hair done. Now, Molly's hair was lookin' pretty ragged, but Sam's, well, after watching the ladies working their magic, I figured we could tame her mane. So we signed Molly up for a little hair-fix.

We had some time to kill before Molly would be seen, so we headed back downstairs. The Engineer (who at this point had taken Little Man on their own adventure) had requested that we pick out matching clothes for Sister and one doll. Molly already had striped pajamas, so we picked striped pajamas for Sister.

We got Kaya and hopped in line. As we approached the register, I told the guy that Sister had worked her tail off to save every penny of the cost of Kaya. Sister handed him her envelope and he began counting.

And then posed for a picture and congratulated Sister.

We headed back upstairs to the salon and were just in time...

Molly was up! (And why didn't I get a good before shot of her hair - you would NOT have believed the miracles they worked! She was the object of much laughter - in a kind hearted manner. She'd obviously been well loved.)

We held Kaya close while Molly had her hair done...

And then Sister got to pose with Molly and her stylist! Ooo-la-la!

And Sister signed Molly out...

And we headed to the Bistro, where we'd made reservations for lunch.

She cracked me up. I couldn't stop smiling. I was so proud of her! And she was so excited, but she was so quiet about it. So demure. She just kept smiling and saying, "I love you, Mama!"

(We liked the chandelier above our table.)

The girls (Sam, Molly, and Kaya) sat with us for lunch.

Each one in her own highchair, clipped to the table.

And each one had her own cup and saucer.

Sister had chicken noodle soup with a giant piece of star toast in the middle, followed by garlic shrimp over a bed of pasta, broccoli, and tomatoes. (And she ate every bite of shrimp and all the veggies!) She shared her lunch with the girls. As she piled food on their plates, I cringed, but figured it couldn't be the first time a little girl has shared real lunch with her babies.

We had a great view from our table!

And just as we were eating those last few bites, our guys joined us!

Sister immediately introduced them to Kaya.

Sweet Little Man is going to make one fine daddy! He kindly toted Sam, to give Sister a hand.

As we left, my heart sighed with contentment and love.

Our children are not perfect. All of us are rotten to our core. We have all had some pretty nasty, depraved temper tantrums. But that Saturday, I was so blessed by our experience! Sister did not - one. single. time. - ask for A.N.Y.T.H.I.N.G. We hadn't planned to do the salon. That was The Engineer's last minute idea. We didn't tell her ahead of time about the matching pajamas. All she knew was that she had earned and saved enough money to buy Kaya and we were there to do exactly that, and then to eat lunch together in celebration of her hard work. She was precious. An absolute delight. Her kindness and lack of the "gimmies" amazed me. She said please and thank you. She looked people in the eye. I tell you what - she took pride in her hard work and it was an incredible privilege to see her set a goal and sacrifice to get there. I was and am still very proud of her. It was a sweet day.

*Edited to add: Sister would like it mentioned that I bought Molly a new pair of glasses, since I'd broken her old pair.


  1. So, I'm not sure why..but I will admit that I teared up reading this. What a precious child. Pretty sure doll-shopping is not in my near future..but it looks like a wonderful day!

  2. awesome and what a great experience! you all look great in these photos!

  3. How WONDERFUL Sister did that!! Such VALUABLE lessons she is learning at such a young age!! How PRECIOUS that you had that time together! SO special!! :)

    I think you are wise...not mean in making her earn and save! We do the same thing with our children and they really do "get it"! AND...they seem to have more available cash than their Mum...funny how that works! ;-)

    What a lovely trip you were able to fun that you could join in with your Engineer. Such a blessing.

    Have a wonderful LORD's Day!
    With Love,

  4. YAY SISTER! What a wonderful and valuable lesson you have learned already. You are so wise in your young 6 years!! I love you and am SO SO SO PROUD of YOU!
    Love, Aunt K

  5. Jen, how precious! I still have my childhood Samantha to give to Emma one day. And, I hope she can work as hard and be as kind as sister was/is!! That is so sweet and she will know the value of hard work and determination for sure!

  6. What a neat post. We'd really love to visit there sometime too! I love how you were so taken with your daughter's grown-up attitude. What a blessing.

  7. Thank you for sharing this! What a special, precious day. You captured it beautifully with your tender words and your photos.

    When we were in NYC back in December I dragged the professor into the American Girl store while dreaming about a day just like yours when we'll take baby sister there.

  8. Great post. :) Inspiring for when our little guy gets bigger and gets the gimmes. I had to earn many much-desired things as a kid, but I didn't have nearly the dedication and patience as your little girl. :)

  9. What a sweet, sweet time! I'm in all-boy mode right now, but maybe one day I'll be blessed enough to have those wonderful mother-daughter moments, too. And how sweet of T to insist on the salon and matching clothes!

  10. Come on up and visit the Atlanta store with us anytime. (or on your own, we are content as a hotel, really) LA and I haven't made the trek yet. She unlike MW has not saved money for a doll yet nor have I :). Lovely post and I am so happy for MW and love how she warms your heart, especially on that day.
    Love Ya'll!

  11. Good for her! I remember drooling over American Doll catalogues when I was a know...back in the dark ages when there were only three characters! I am also willing to admit online that when I went to Chicago at the tender age of - 21! - my girlfriends and I felt the need to pop into the American Girl store there and peruse, even though we were "all grown up". I don't think you ever grow too old for some of those things!

  12. What a precious morning and a great life experience for Sister! Thanks for sharing such a sweet story.

    It makes me look forward to doing financial peace jr. when my little ones are old enough to understand.

  13. WOW!! Congratulations Sister!! What proud parents you should be :) Our little Davis is already asking about money and wanting to buy things. If brother is already interested, maybe we'll be getting financial peace jr. soon. :) Love reading your blog and I loved seeing your mom the other day. :) Oh! and I was teary too reading your story. What precious moments we are blessed with by these kiddos!