Monday, July 22, 2013


Emma is the luckiest girl I have ever met.  She wins drawings, contests, bingo games, pretty much any random thing she writes her name on.  At the Allen Celebration, we all stood in line at the Allen Americans (local hockey team) booth to spin a giant wheel and potentially win a prize.  If you combine Thunells and Rodriguez's, there were about 8 of us who spun.  The first 7 of us won little flags, or 8x10 posters, or those awful snuggy things you put around cups to insulate them.  Do you know how many of those I have in my kitchen??  And then Emma walked up, spun the wheel and won four tickets to the hockey game of her choice this season!  AND she got a bonus spin and won a hockey stick used in a previous winning game and signed by the entire team.  Serious??  She went on to win Chick-filA sandwiches, free drinks, and other little trinkets throughout the day.  We've all gotten used to her unbelievable luck.  (I really should have that girl fill out a few Publisher's Clearing House forms for me...or maybe not, after what I now know.)

So...last Monday, Emma informed us that she had entered a Radio Disney contest to see a One Direction concert and she had received a call that she was a finalist.  One of five contestants chosen from the random text entries they had received over the last three months.  Craig and I weren't totally convinced that it was a legitimate contest, so we looked up the website and read the email that Emma had received from the contest official who had called her.  It looked pretty legitimate.  

Here's what she had potentially won...

Round Trip tickets for three to Los Angeles to see One Direction in concert.   Hotel accommodations, transportation, concert tickets, and the opportunity to see a live sound check the night before the concert.  Oh, and $1800 spending money.  

But...there were catches.  Because aren't there always catches?  As we read further, we realized that this concert trip would occur over the weekend of August 1-4 (right in the middle of our two week vacation to Florida.  We're scheduled to be in the Keys that weekend.)  And then we noticed that there was a 1099 form attached to all the liability and press release forms we needed to sign.  I did some research and found out that contest winnings are taxable at a 30% rate, which for an estimated $8900 prize value, would be $2700, which we would be responsible for next April 15.  Ugh...even if we used the $1800 contest money to offset the taxes, we would still have to come up with $900...for a One Direction concert???  That's $300/ticket...!!  We had already said no to the $80 concert tickets to see them in Dallas.  Why would we pay $300 to see them in LA?  

We received the notification on Monday night and the paperwork needed to be signed, notarized, and faxed back to Disney by Thursday at 12 CST, in order for Emma to qualify as a possible contest winner and be announced on the premiere of Teen Beach Movie on Friday night.   Craig left on a business trip on Tuesday morning, and Megan's friend challenges started Tuesday night.  Oh, and McKay had a small meltdown on Thursday morning when he accidentally deleted the saved Lego Batman Wii game he's been playing for 4 months.  (I have no idea what that means, but he was distraught for the entire day.)

Craig is mostly unavailable when he travels so our conversations about this contest dilemma were brief and mostly via text.  He wasn't much help.  So for 48 hours I stewed.  I Googled.  I calculated.  I polled the audience.  I considered.  I called the Disney contest rep and asked her all my questions.  She said we could not change our concert location to the Dallas concert on July 20.  She said we could definitely fly out of Miami to see the LA concert.  And she assured me that they would be reporting the exact amount of our contest winnings to the IRS.  And as I was about to hang up, she said, "By the way, there really is no difference at this point between a POTENTIAL WINNER and a WINNER.  If you return that paperwork, Emma's name will be announced on the Disney channel and she will be able to go to Los Angeles."  (great...)

Finally, after exhausting all of my other options, I sat down with Emma and laid out the whole thing.  We talked about missing part of the vacation.  We talked about how FREE isn't always FREE.  We talked about how if we did this, we would have to come up with $900 between now and next April.  She offered to give up her allowance for the rest of the year.  (Which was a grand gesture, but $5/week for even a whole year wouldn't quite add up to $900.)  We talked about the dangers of spending money NOW and then hoping to be able to cover it LATER.  It was a good talk.  She was very reasonable and very understanding, but at the end of it, I saw her little eyes fill up with tears, and I almost changed my mind and signed all that dang paperwork.   But, we decided that night...together...that we would not be returning the paperwork, and therefore would forfeit our prize.  She slept in my room that night and the next morning we got up early and re-read all the paperwork again to see if we had missed anything.  We hadn't.  12:00 came and went.  Later that afternoon, the Disney rep called to confirm that we were forfeiting the prize.  

Part of me wanted to give her the opportunity of a lifetime and see the concert of her dreams.  But the practical part of me who knows that there are show choir costumes, private lessons, instrument rentals, sports registrations, and a cruise coming up in the near future, was not willing to take out a $2700 loan for a One Direction concert.  

I wonder if my parents would have let me win that contest if it had been The Osmonds??  I'm sure I would have been more devastated than Emma if they had said no.  

Blah...the things we have to do as parents.  I had more conversations last week and more distraught children than I've ever had at one time all by myself.  I let Craig know that his timing was crappy last week, and that in the future, I would appreciate it if he could schedule trips when everyone is happy and no major decisions need to be made.  He said he would try.  :)

I'm so grateful for a brand new week.  What an amazing blessing it is to be able to have a blank slate every 24 hours.  We are all looking forward to going back to our regularly scheduled summer laziness this week.  

Happy Monday!  


  1. You are the most awesome mom...and I mean that. Hugs, bloggy friend! : )

  2. I think you all made a good choice! Something that creates that much stress is not worth it.