Two high-fives to report.
Us women (me and the three small daughters) had a busy day! First stop was the park - something we try to do every non-rainy summer day if we are not sick. Next stop was JoAnn - yes, again - and the girls were given special permission to sit on the cutting counter to watch the staff at work. They carried out a pleasant and intelligent conversation with the nice lady cutting my trims and when we left, she said something to the effect of: "your children were so well-behaved that you can come back here anytime!"
The more honest side of me almost said, "Ma'am, you might think twice about your invitation if you'd seen them in action last time we were here." But this is the upper midwest - everyone is nice here (including her, probably). It's the rule. So I thanked her, praised the kids profusely (they were quite proud of themselves) and patted myself on the back for having remembered to bring copious amounts of The Secret Weapon. See, people - it works.
But wait, it gets better.
We then made a quick stop at the party supply store to check out their Hello Kitty section - a reconnaissance trip, if you will. Emily picked up one of those overpriced plastic-but-made-to-look-bejeweled crowns and said, "Mom, we need one of these birthday crowns. Hm.. or should we make one ourselves?"
Yeeeesssssssssss! The experiment is a success! Stimulus: licensed merchandise; stimulus enters eyes, image forms on retinas, optic nerves send message to brain, synapses crackle, brain generates DIY thought, DIY thought sent to vocal cords, mouth speaks.
Find: "buy". Replace "buy" with "make". Brain successfully rewired.
All those hours of watching mom working with cardboard boxes and masking tape and sewing dirt and making Maisy underwear have paid off. Of course we still buy lots of stuff - licensed merchandise and house brands and wooden and plastic toys and everything. There must be balance after all. But to know that somewhere in their little minds, they entertain the possibility that anything can also be made - oh, I am a proud mom today.
P.S. I am also a frazzled mom today because the smallest is sick, spewing lava from her little nose, and skipped her nap in favor of screaming all through the afternoon while refusing to be held. Just so you all know we still have an astoundingly high chaos level here.