Saturday, December 27, 2014

Post-Christmas Magic

Oh, the holidays.  Happy, happy!  Joy, joy!  Merry, merry!  It's the most wonderful time of the year!  Children especially just have that special little way of making you believe in the magic all over again.  Because with every cell in their tiny little bodies, they believe...  So much bliss, so many traditions, so many presents.

And then, in the middle of it all at our home, that one little word came------>

hate (hāt) verb:   
feel intense or passionate dislike for (someone)

It threatened to ruin the holidays.  

"I HATE you!" she screamed.

Yep.  It was uttered at the beginning of what I envisioned would be the start of a brilliant holiday break.  My fantasy went something like this:  visions of sugar-plum fairies dancing all around me and my itty-bittys with constant smiles and happy, easy children.  Children dressed in their cute Christmas outfits, in the best of moods every moment.  Because after-all, SANTA is coming!

Life is just messy, though, isn't it?  Fantasyland is no reality when there are two little lives running around trying to learn how to be.  Perfection is a lark when there's a 6-year old girl and 8-year old boy figuring out what it all means.

It had been a lovely night.  Cozied in by the fire.  And then the venom came...

It always happens like that with children.  The highs and lows are so vast, so quick to change.  Happy and carefree one minute, the depths of despair and hatred the next. 

This was NOT supposed to be part of the holiday break.  I'm not supposed to hear words like "hate" this time of year.  Reality was, exhaustion had set in, and there was just nothing more she could take.  (I'd be exhausted, too, if I were a child in this day and age.  Screen time, elves-on-shelves, school parties, and way too much sugar.)

Calm existed for all of two seconds.

Then, his turn.

"I want a new family." 

What?  Words that cut deep.  No excuse for such talk, but if I'm being real and not living in fantasyland, I do recall running away from home myself a few times, annoyed with my family and all their 'stuff'.  That moment hearing it from your own child, though...  you think you've failed as a mother.  

I wanted to lay down and cry.  And I think I did for a few minutes.  But while I was lamenting their meltdowns by having my own, they managed to quickly turn it all around.

They were whispering how excited they were for momma to open the gifts they made, couldn't wait to see my face.

How can it just flip -so quickly-?


accept (something) as true; feel sure of the truth of.

I'm convinced it's because they believe.  They believe in the magic, in the goodness and innocence of life.  They don't get stuck, and they believe at the end of the day that all is well in their little worlds.  They haven't yet seen the horror life can and will bring.  

It's beautiful to watch.  And it's a gift and privilege I'm grateful for each day.  Maybe, just maybe, by watching them, I, too, will believe again.  

Until then, this----->

“I am your mother, the first mile of your road. Me and all my obvious and hidden limitations. That means that in addition to possibly wrecking you, I have the chance to give to you what was given to me: a decent childhood, more good memories than bad, some values, a sense of tribe, a run at happiness. You can't imagine how seriously I take that - even as I fail you. Mothering you is the first thing of consequence that I have ever done.” 

~Kelly Corrigan 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

"..a different kind of happy family"

Oh, life's imperfections can be so messy, can't they?!  And just oh-so-perfect all at the same time.

Stay with me, here...

A friend saw a photograph of me, my ex-husband and our children in Florida this summer and asked,  in a bewildered tone, "do y'all vacation together?"  I mean, as if

I can tell what the next question is going to be, and I stop it at the pass by explaining how, yes, we have separate sleeping quarters.  Yes, it can get tricky.   Yes, I still love him and always will (he's my babies' daddy afterall).  And no, we're not back together.

Is it perfect?  No.

Is it the dream I dreamt up when I was a little girl? Absolutely not.

Life never is.

And yet, it's all so beautiful, this different kind of happy family.  Who knew this is what we would create?  Who knew it would be so perfect-imperfect?

Merriam-Webster defines imperfect as "defective."  I don't think that's the most accurate definition.  Maybe that's our problem.  Maybe when things aren't going our way or how we think they should be going, we quit looking at it like it's "defective."  Maybe, instead, we need to give ourselves -and each other- a little grace.  That definition is much more appropriate and compassionate:  "a way of moving that is smooth and attractive and that is not stiff or awkward."

Imperfection is so much easier anyway.  So much less pressure.  Plus, children like it.  In fact, we were at the circus a few weeks ago.  When the ringmaster brought the camels out, one of them stopped entirely inside the ring.  It took a moment for the crowd to notice that, well,  the camel had to go!  As in #2.  Dropped it all right there in front of everyone.  My kids couldn't stop laughing.  Later, when they told their grandmother what their favorite part of the circus was - you guessed it.  Camel + #2.

Slowly, I'm learning to love the imperfect parts of life, those spaces and occurrences I used to see as flawed or incomplete.  They are, instead, just as they should be.  My sweet and different little family.  We are happy.  Imperfect.  Growing.  And I am grateful.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Splendid Dance

"Momma, how much do you love me?" she asked in her sweetest, most precious little-girl voice.

It's the dance we play, round and round, over and again.  Same question, same answer... 

...and it never gets old.

"To the moon and back," I say. "And then, when I get back from the moon, I love you to infinity and beyond times a hundred-fifty thousand."

After my reply, we always laugh and give kisses.  But really?  What words could possibly explain this bottomless pit of love and devotion these beautiful creatures have carved out in me?

My best boy asks the same question, but lately his questions are a little more pointed.  Like, "momma, why are you never here in the afternoons and never home for dinner?"

Sigh. (*knife in heart*)

"Well, sweetie, where do I go each afternoon?" I ask him.

"To the TV station," his response, automatic.  "So you can buy us toys and things."

Something like that, I think to myself.  There's no easy response.

As he gets older, I recognize he just wants time.  One of the greatest gifts you can give children.  Presence and time with his momma.

The needles start hitting the backs of my eyeballs at the thought of this.  I've worked from the time he was born up until now, and I have no plans of quitting.  But for as much fulfillment comes from my work and as much good I'm given the sweet opportunity to do, there's a price.  Time away from my babies.  Time I'll never get back.

Life is not perfect.  It's a splendid dance, twirling around from one responsibility to the next, all the while hoping to keep the balance, keep the peace.

I'm dancing it this week.  They're on a 7-day trip with their father, and the house is so quiet.

My mom-friends keep telling me to enjoy the break.  Truth be told, I need and want it.  But now that I have the down time, what's so great about it?   My son and daughter are my two favorite people on this earth.  Their company is the best company.   Yet I will admit, to finally let-down alone is lovely.

And therein lies the gentle push and pull of being a parent.  The heart-wrenching holding on and letting go that we must allow.  Gently guiding our children and then backing off to let them find their own way.   It's not for the faint of heart, and it's serious business. 

So serious that when they called the other night from their vacation, I scrambled for the phone and answered in desperation, knowing they must just miss me terribly and need their momma so.

"Hi momma," I heard, in the most monotone, obligatory, forced-to-call-their-mom voice. 

"Are you ready to come home?" I ask....

"No! Never.  We wanna stay here forever!"

(BOOM goes mom's ego!)

So today, love to the moon and back, and this:

Monday, May 12, 2014

Post-Mom's Day Hangover

No, I was not drunk on Mother's Day.  (jeesh... I'm not that bad). 

But Lord, am I hangin.... The quiet, yet oh-so-heavy push and pull of motherhood leaves me completely worn.

It was a perfect Mother's Day morning.  The children woke me with all kinds of preciousness.  Lovely homemade cards and notes.  My 7-year old son painted a wooden square so beautifully, my eyes welled with tears.  5-year old baby girl personalized a flower pot for me to keep "forever and all the days." 

Then, it was brunch at my favorite spot.   And reality slapped me in the face.

The only table left was outside.  Girl-child started bawling because it was too cold to sit outside (*think wails and alligator tears*).  Boy child put his arms inside the sleeves of his t-shirt and fake-shivers throughout the first half of our meal. 

Then there was the incident on the restaurant's outdoor gate upon which they were hanging... 


No rest for a weary mom.  Discipline-central while the entire mom-brunch-crowd watched. 

Once home, petty property disputes ensued, with baby girl ultimately getting whacked in the lip with a Frisbee and bleeding. 

Oh, the joy!

Let me say this:  my children are not bad kids.  They are well-behaved, polite, thoughtful and wonderful children.  But they are just that:  children.  Kids with minds of their own.  Not to be controlled, but directed and disciplined with love.

And it never, ever stops.  Not even on Mother's Day.  ESPECIALLY not on Mother's Day!

I had a thought the other day that there was no way I was going to be able to do this until they are age eighteen.  Then I realized, it's not going to stop when they're eighteen.  It's never going to stop as long as I'm alive! 

And I'm glad.  And I'm grateful.  It's what brings me the most joy.  What makes me feel alive and spirited, with a purpose greater than what I can understand. 

But man, it's hard, isn't it?  I will confess that it's easier for me to be on-air than it is to be a really good mother sometimes. 

During my morning mediation on Mother's Day, I took a moment for all the women who've never been able to have children, all the moms who've lost children, and all those mothers who struggle day-in and day-out like I do with the mundane toy-fights, hair-pulling, and tantrum-throwing, whether our kids are age two or twenty two.  I closed my eyes and realized I am part of a giant circle of women sharing the highs and lows of this selfless journey called motherhood.  We are never alone.  And that is an exquisite gift.

All of us are sharing these days of meltdowns, tough lessons, cranky moods.  Shaping the behavior of little beings who will hopefully grow up to one day be happy, healthy adults.  Delightful days which also contain laughter and so much love it almost hurts. 

And despite this day-after-mother's day hangin', despite being completely exhausted, there's truly nothing better.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


It's been a week since I first covered the aftermath left in the wake of an EF4 tornado, and my mind won't stop re-playing the images and the stories.

We arrived in the middle of the night.  It was chaos.  The storm hit at dusk, and by sun-up, it was evident that I was standing dead-center in the middle of a disaster zone.  Where we had set up, where our TV trucks and crews would eventually create our 48-hour makeshift base... was in the heart of devastation.  The place where the majority of people died, where the tornado was at it's most powerful when it was on the ground.

I was shaken when I first went on-air at 4:30 a.m. I knew it was horrific, and I knew I wouldn't be off-air for quite awhile, but that's not what I want to write about.  

I want to write about the people.  Our precious neighbors in western Pulaski county, Mayflower, Saltillo, Vilonia, El Paso, Center Hill - whose lives were ripped to shreds.

Colten was the first I met.  Don't even remember what I asked during my interview with him.  But he told me he lost everything and fought back tears when he said that a woman died on his land.  She had been in a truck that was blown off the Vilonia Bypass.  

Colten's friend Gray was an angel.  He lost everything in the 2011 tornado, so he never once left Colten's side.  Offered Colten and his family a place to stay, and when Colten was afraid looters may come, Gray stayed with Colten in a truck on property that night.

Then there was a pastor named Wade, who came to clean up and figure out how and where to rebuild the day after he lost it all.  He lost everything in 2011 and thought surely it wouldn't hit him again.  But it did.  He still shared that he was grateful to be alive, and grateful that he and his family were okay.

Then there were the dozens of volunteers who showed up to help.  Just because as they told me "they can."  Generous hearts and helping hands.  

There were dead animals.  Hundreds of people physically hurt.  Medical care given by anyone who could help.  There were toys and teddy bears strewn about.  Toiletries and personal items and photographs found miles away.  There was a rescued dog that had been blown into a tree. 

These are images I won't soon forget.   

It'll also be tough to forget hearing the Faulkner county sheriff break down when he told me that children were among the 16 dead.  Tough to forget seeing a mother fall to the ground mourning the deaths of those children.  Tough reading the words of a blogger who wrote about the tragedy.  

But what I don't ever want to forget is this:  the spirit of the people affected by this tragedy.  A spirit, which,  in the face of death, out of the rubble and with devastation all around is still shining brightly, with indelible grace and humility.  A people, accepting what has happened with enduring faith and hope.  These people are among the most loyal, solid, salt-of-the-earth human beings I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. 

I returned home after two days of television coverage to my own children.  I drove up to my modest home, staring at the white petals from my dogwood tree that had fallen and lined a path up to my front door.  It felt like heaven. And then I felt so guilty. That I had a home to go to, children to hug.  A feeling of sadness came and really hasn't disappeared just yet.  Why those 16 people?  Why the thousands who took a hit and not us?  My life suddenly seemed so ordered and idyllic, with drawers and bins for all our stuff.  Others' things had just been blown to bits.

It doesn't make any sense.   But it doesn't have to make sense.  I only know this after covering devastation of such magnitude.  The resilience of the human spirit is alive and well in my home state.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014


Last week it was me.  This week it's Craig.   And it's all about the eyes.  Literally. 

I was driving to the TV station last week, when I started seeing the "floaters."  You know, like when someone takes your picture with the flash on, and it leaves a spot in your vision?   I knew what was coming...

An ocular migraine headache.  It starts with those little flashes, and then turns into a giant backwards C-shaped lightning bolt that steals vision in one of my eyes for about thirty minutes.  After that, the headache comes.  It always passes, and I'm fine.  I was fine that day.  Appeared on-air at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., and no one would've suspected a thing.  But it bothered me that it happened in the first place.....

Then yesterday, the text came from Craig around noon that said "I'm out at 5 and 6 today.  They've dilated my eyes.  I'll keep you posted."

(*thinking to myself* 'is something in the water down here that's messing with our eyesight or what?')

But as it turns out, he had a detached retina, which is, in fact, a medical emergency, and they operated immediately.  He says he's fine and his vision is okay.  However, he does have to lay on his side for the next five days with his head tilted down, all while wearing a patch!  Needless to say, you won't see him on the show with me. 

Weird that we're both having issues with our eyes.  I typically don't have ocular migraines unless under intense stress.  I don't feel like I'm under stress, at least not the kind of stress I experienced a few years ago. 

I don't think Craig is under intense stress either.  He's getting older, though, and life changes constantly.  He told me he's already going nuts having to lay there and do nothing - anyone who knows him knows it's just not Craig to sit there and do nothing.

It's not really me either, and during my migraine, I was forced in a dark room for about 45 minutes with my eyes closed.  It took a lot for me to stop.  Just stop. 

Maybe that's the lesson for both of us... for all of us. 

To pause...
To take a moment...
To breathe deeply and often...
Slow down and notice the life and the beauty all around. 

Afterall, it's often it is the simplest of things that make life worth living. Yes?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The greatest of these is love

To celebrate Valentine's Day at the TV station, my colleague and dear friend Craig O'Neill is researching a story called, "How to Choose a Mate."  It airs February 14.  So far, he's interviewed four couples who have each been married 40+ years. 

I'm such a cynic.  And Craig is sick of me.  We sit next to each other each day, and I just know he's tired of my eye rolls each time he talks about the couples, recounting their beautiful love stories.  When I snicker and pretend to gag when he tells me of the sixty-some years one of the couples has been together, he laughs.  But I think he's the one who's disgusted with me. 

He desperately wants me to believe in love.  And I do believe in love.  Really, I do.  Seriously.  I know love is out there.  I know it is.  But for me?

Craig has an intimate, unique little spot in my life.  Sure, we work together.  He's been a great friend.  He's a little like a dad, my TV dad.  But he's also watched my life implode, explode, and slowly be re-built over the past four or five years.  He's been by my side every night on air and every step of the way personally.  He knows when I'm a wreck, he knows when I'm happy.  And he knows I believe.  Deep down, I do.  Yet I doubt every single day.

I guess it's because of history.  My history and that of my closest girlfriends.  I can count on one hand the soul sisters I'd trust with my life.  We all have children.  Each of them is beautiful, smart, deep and soulful.  But only one of the five of us is still married.  It's hard to believe in love again when we've lived the heartache, the mistakes, the grief, the sheer madness that the break-up of a family brings. 

Those couples Craig interviewed say that what kept them together - in no particular order - include God, a sense of humor, unusual fights, daily -sometimes hourly- ups and downs.  No one had the sense they'd been married that long, and most say they had a 'feeling' about one another the day they met.

I had a 'feeling' about my future husband the moment we met.  I believed God was guiding us at times.  Our fights were weird, and we had a lot of ups and downs.  Lord knows, it never, ever seemed like we were married as long as we were, which was 11 years.  So why didn't we make it?  This is what makes it tough for me to walk on, to carry on, to still believe.  But what's the other choice, really?

I was once such a hopeless, ridiculous, dreamy romantic!  I do believe that romantic soul is still deep down there, somewhere inside me.  Maybe a bit more chiseled, a little more polished, a little wiser, a little less willing to give up so much for so little.  I don't know what any of that means, but I do know that real, abiding love is all around me.  It's the love I have for my children, my mother, my friends, even for my ex.  It's a little gentler, a little kinder, a little less 'fantasy' than maybe it once was.  A little more compassionate, a little more understanding, a lot more honest and genuine than even I thought and believed could ever exist. 

Will it come in the form of another one day?  I cannot ever know this.  I don't really concern myself with it, and I won't even dare to dream.  But I will believe that the kind of love I've always wanted is, indeed, right in front of my face, all around me, and for this, I am grateful.  For this reason, I do believe, and I will follow my heart every single day.

No matter your circumstance, it's true that faith, hope, and love abide and also true that the greatest of these is love. That's the love I celebrate this Valentine's Day. 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Go ahead... ask.

Albert Einstein once said, "it's a miracle that curiosity survives formal education." 

It's true, and in our home, the apples haven't fallen far from the tree.  I am an unusually curious, bold person to begin with, and, of course, I make a living out of asking questions.  My children are already quick to follow. 

The problem is, I don't have all the answers. Why did I ever think I would?

Last night, I was putting my 7-year old smart-boy to bed, and he wanted to know about --of all things-- the Revolutionary War. WTH?  He's seven.  He simply wanted to know if it came before or after the Civil War because if it came before, it meant there was a drummer boy, but if it came after, it meant there was no drummer boy.  How does he know these things?

"Before." I answered. "I'm almost certain," I qualified (embarrassed that I didn't have the exact dates and information; embarrassed that I wasn't even 100% certain of my response).  "Well, mom," (I know when he calls me just "mom," as opposed to "momma" or "mommy," it means it's real), he suggested, "surely you can get on your computer right now to find out and come tell me before I fall asleep."


I told him I would look it up and tell him more in the morning.  But as soon as he fell asleep, and I rushed to look it up just to make sure I gave the right answer (ego)....  Indeed, the Revolutionary War lasted from 1775-1783, and the Civil War began in 1861. 

Mostly though, their questions are mundane.  I hesitate to call them mundane, because aren't those beautiful, ridiculous, insane 'mundane' moments the ones that make up the precious fabric of our lives?  Two days ago, 5-year old princess asked, "Mommy, why is big brother older than me?  My birthday is in October and his is in December, so I'm really older than him, right momma?"

"No sweet girl. You were born two years later than him," I answered, my heart smiling inside my chest.

It continued on... "but what does born mean, mommy?"

(LORD, I'm thinking....) "Sweetie, it means the time you came into the world."

"From your tummy?" she asked, her voice sounding just angelic.

"Yes, darling."

She paused, her eyes drifting onto one spot, looking as though she were in deep, deep thought.  And then it went on..."Momma, how do you spell born?"

(RIPPING MY HAIR OUT AT THIS POINT, but loving every second of it......)

"B - O - R - N."

Later, we were driving to our mommy-daughter dinner and passed a police car, and it started again. 

"Momma, why do 'polices' have guns?"

I gave some non-descript answer about how they have to protect us, and then once we got to the restaurant, one after another.

The lights dimmed, and Curious Girl was all over it. 

"Mommy.  It just got dark in here.  WHY did they turn the lights down?"  The waiter, as if on-cue, showed up, and I made him answer!

Then, it got a little more complex.  "Where is God, momma?"

I told her He was in every living being, in our hearts, and all around us every day.   It seemed to suffice..... for now anyway.  I'm sure I'll be asked more on that very soon....

But the question that really got me came the other day.  I was on the phone with the vet, setting up an appointment to get the dog neutered.  The second I hung up, baby girl started in.  "Why does the dog have to be 'noodled' mommy?"

Big brother smiled at me and helped answer.  "It's 'neuter' not noodle."

"But what does that mean?"  she was relentless.

He had quite the answer.  "It means they're cutting his balls off."

Her face dropped, and she looked at me all sad and confused and freaked. 

I said, "sweetie, it just means Scout won't be able to have babies." 

"But momma, I want him to have babies.  PLEEEEEASE don't get him noodled!"

I tried explaining the whole pet population thing and how we'd have to find the puppies' homes, but her eyes still welled with tears.  "But he will hurt, momma."  She was so worried about the surgery and if the pup would be in pain, it nearly crushed even me.

I assured her we would all take very good care of him.  She paused and her eyes drifted off again like the last time, deep in thought.  She looked at me with wet eyes, and she climbed into my lap for a long, sweet hug. 

I realized then that my children humble me.  Every single day, I yield to their presence, their questions.  Instead of greeting them with my own bold curiousness, I defer.  Instead of thinking what to ask next, I wait excitedly for their next questions.  I know they'll be good.

Sunday, January 5, 2014


I didn't eat black-eyed peas on New Year's Day.   I think they're gross.   I didn't eat 'em last year either, and that was a mistake because last year sucked.  

Not trying to sound negative.  And actually, when I think about it, 2013 gifted me with much love, friendship, and beauty, for which I am ever-grateful.  But it also punched me in the face with an equal amount of misery.  No need to go into the gory details (you could just read previous blog posts re:  divorce, concussion, semi crash, etc.).   Just sayin -- if it's true that black-eyed peas bring good luck, I should've eaten bowls full.

I didn't.  I survived.  Life is still good.  People are still crazy.  

And here it is,  2014, with all it's new-ness and hope.  All it's optimism and wishfulness.   All the anticipation that this will be THE year. 

I don't know about all that.  I hope it's a good year.  But that word "hope" always gets me in trouble.  Because with hope comes expectation, and then the bar is set. And if expectation isn't met... well, that's when I get myself into trouble. 

In those moments I always hear my late grandfather's wise words in my head.  He used to always tell me, "a day at a time, sweet one. A moment at a time, if that's what it takes.  Remember, hardships are the pathway to peace.  Accept it all."  

Speaking of my grandfather, what we discovered inside his old house on our land in western Arkansas last week is pretty much all the luck I'll need in 2014 anyway.   

We arrived at night.  It was dark, and the stars were so very bright.  You could see Orion's belt in perfect view, as though you could almost reach up and tug on it.  My boy was the first to walk  inside, and his reaction was so faint, yet so grave-sounding, we knew it could not be good.  

"Oh. My. Gosh.  Momma, you have to come see this."

Then baby girl chimed in.  "Groooooooooooooooooooooss! WHAT are those??"

At which point I went to investigate and -- like the klutz that I am -- slipped on a pile of what I thought were dead bugs.  

They were EVERYWHERE.  All over the floor, on the windows, covering the windowsills, and even in the sinks.

But then brave girl child figured it all out.  They weren't creepy or slimy.  They were ladybugs!
One of the ladybug piles we found

Good luck, right?  

As it turns out, this little beetle is quite full of symbolic meaning.  It's an emblem of luck, and if one lands on you, it is believed your wishes will come true.  Some cultures believe the ladybug is a symbol of protection.  Others think the number of spots on a ladybug you touch equals the number of months you'll wait until your true love arrives.
I think I might believe in the luck part.  If it's true, I'll take it.   But I've never really been too sure about luck to be honest.   Like when someone considers themselves "lucky," I sometimes cringe.   Lucky because they escaped death, or a tornado, or a car wreck, or some horrible fate.   Seems easier for me to believe it just wasn't their time, or they'll get another tough lesson some other day.  I've heard people who believe their lives are good say it's all just because of luck.  But I tend to think maybe it was their attitude or perseverance or willingness to take what life gives instead of what they want.  Some say babies born to rich people are luckier than those born into poverty.  Yet I've watched as wealthy friends who've wanted for nothing in their lives screw it all up and seen the poorest of individuals rise up and enact change 

I'm also not so sure of this whole idea that the next year will be any better or worse than the last one.  Or that my luck will turn - because of black-eyed peas eaten or ladybugs landing, no less.  

And as much as my soul is starved at times for a new beginning, I question and wonder if new beginnings really exist at all.    I read this the other night, and it seems to make the most sense of all to me right now.

“We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don't really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It's just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.” 
 Pema Chödrön

Makes sense to me to create space for all of it and see life as good no matter what, rather than label it as good luck or bad luck, right?

But then a funny thing happened.  We were out to eat with our cousins at a pizza place tonight.  In the game room, my daughter won only one toy.  Would you believe, it was a stuffed ladybug?!

Sweet girl immediately started calling her our "Good Luck Ladybug Flower"