are you alright?

My friend Kate and I saw Lucinda Williams at the Keswick Theater last night. She was great, and the Keswick is one of the best places to see a concert. It's a small, intimate theater - we were sitting in the 3rd row from the stage.

If you don't know Lucinda, you must listen to some of her songs. She's an incredible song writer. One of her new songs, "Are You Alright", is one of my favorites - it reminds me of a little boy who holds a special place in my heart.

To make a {very, very} long story short, his mother was a childhood friend of mine. She was a drug addict and had three children that she wasn't taking care of. I would take care of her middle child, Artie {starting at 4 months old}, at first to give her a break, but then eventually it turned into her expecting me to watch him every weekend. And I did - she wasn't taking care of him and by that time I felt like I couldn't just walk away. Not only would he stay with me on weekends, but I also volunteered at his schools {he had many - they moved around a lot} and sent him to camp a few summers.

{Artie and Malayna, 2004}

In 2000, his mother fell further into her addiction and Jimmy and I got custody of all three of her children {they were 9, 10 and 12 years old}. Two of them lived with us for 2 1/2 years and Artie stayed for five years, until 2005. Those five years were absolutely chaotic, but we really felt like we were doing the "right thing". There was a lot of rebellion from the kids - some of it normal teenage stuff, but most of it a result of the situation we were all in.

In 2005, our relationship with Artie was suffering. He had been getting into trouble in school and with the police. His family was conveniently absent for much of those five years, except to tell him that Jimmy and I weren't his family and that he should be with them. I still don't understand their reasoning. They didn't step up when the kids needed them, yet they didn't hesitate to put us down and poison our relationship with all three kids.

There were threats from his family about taking us to court for custody of Artie if we didn't let him go live with them. Since Artie wanted to go and we honestly felt like we didn't have a leg to stand on in court against his relatives, he went to live with an aunt. We lost touch for a while, which was sad since I had been in his life since he was a baby. {By the way, he didn't even stay with the aunt for a whole year before she kicked him out.}

I only talk to him once in a while, and I suspect he only calls when things are good for him. He's had a hard life already, including at least one stay in a rehab. He now lives with his grandparents, and when I leave a message for him I wonder if he gets it.

I can only hope that the love we showed him all those years means something.

Are You Alright

Are you alright?
All the sudden you went away.
Are you alright?
I hope you come back around someday.
Are you alright?
I haven't seen you in a real long time.
Are you alright?
Could you give me some kind of sign.
Are you alright?
I looked around me and you were gone.
Are you alright?
I feel like there must be something wrong.
Are you alright?
'Cause it seems like you disappeared.
Are you alright?
'Cause I been feeling a little scared.
Are you alright?

Are you sleeping through the night?
Do you have someone to hold you tight?
Do you have someone to hang out with?
Do you have someone to hug and kiss you,
Hug and kiss you,
Hug and kiss you?
Are you alright?

Are you alright?
Is there something been bothering you?
Are you alright?
I wish you'd give me a little clue.
Are you alright?
Is there something you wanna say?
Are you alright?
Just tell me that you're okay.
Are you alright?
'Cause you took off without a word.
Are you alright?
You flew away like a little bird.
Are you alright?
Is there anything I can do?
Are you alright?
'Cause I need to hear from you.
Are you alright?


Are you alright?
Are you alright?


not much to write about...

I'm having a hard time thinking of something to write about today, so here's a little meme to entertain you. Play along!

1. your rock star name: (first pet & current car)
Mischief Mercury

2. your gangsta name: (fave ice cream flavor, favorite cookie)
Vanilla Chocolate Chip

3. your "fly guy/girl name: (first initial of first name, first three letters of your last name)

4. your detective name: (favorite color, favorite animal)
Purple Dog

5. your soap opera name: (middle name, city where you were born)
Ann Philadelphia

6. your star wars name: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first)

7. superhero name: (”The” + 2nd favorite color, favorite drink)
The Red Screwdriver

8. nascar name: (the first names of your grandfathers)
Mike John

9. stripper name: ( the name of your favorite perfume/cologne/scent, favorite candy)
Almond Snicker

10. witness protection name: (mother’s & father’s middle names )
Rose Joseph

11. tv weather anchor name: (Your 5th grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter)
Cells Chicago {read my notes on this below!}**

12. spy name: (your favorite season/holiday, flower)
Summer Tulip

13. cartoon name: (favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now + “ie” or “y”)
Pineapple Shorty

14. hippy name: (What you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree)
Cheerio Dogwood

15. your rockstar tour name: (”The” + Your fave hobby/craft, fave weather element + “Tour”)
The Paper Sun Tour

Okay, I had to call my mom for that one. I could not remember who my fifth-grade teacher was and now I know why. Her name was Ms. Cells and she was nasty. I remember sitting in art class one day and being really proud of what I had drawn. She was walking around and looking at each child's creation. When she came to John she went on and on about how great his drawing was. {He was a really good artist - I remember thinking that he and I were two of the best in the class.} She came to me, looked at my drawing and told me what was wrong with it. And she didn't say it in a nice way. I hated her after that and it's the only thing I remember about her.

That was about 17 years ago and I still remember it. Isn't it funny how those things stick with you? How I wish I could see her today and tell her how much of an impact her nastiness had on me. And, of course, how wrong she was about my artwork!


one is plenty

Last night I was flipping through channels and stopped at TLC. Whoa. Have you heard of The Dugger Family? They have 17 children. And all their names start with the letter J. Did you know there were so many J names?! They {with the help of the kids} are building their own house - which is something like 7000 square feet on 20 acres. They have an industrial dishwasher. And they're excited about that. From what I can tell, the mom stays home. What in the world does the dad do for a living?

{trying the digger at the park}

Having one child is plenty for me, so I don't even come close to understanding how someone can make the decision to have 17! Malayna is very busy these days - running all over the place, talking so much that I think my ears will fall off, and continuously asking what her next snack will be. And believe it or not, she's trying new things - like going on the slides at the playground {even the tunnel slide} and actually wanting a new pair of shoes instead of holding on for dear life to her old favorites. She's also been drawing a LOT. Most of her drawings are of happy faces or sunshine.

{bathtub drawing of a very happy tiger shark - see the water?}

Tonight she sat on the couch at 6:30 and said "I'm ready to read books" {her signal that she's ready for bed}. She's taken naps the past few days, but then she doesn't fall asleep until after 10pm! Lately she's been waking up around 4 or 5am and then of course I wake up because I hear her playing. This transition to no naps is taking a really long time. She's so tired by 6pm that she's tripping over her own feet.

Lots of people ask me when I'm having another child. My answer - never! I know that I'm a good mom to one - any more than that is pushing it for me. Why is there such pressure to have more? I'm perfectly happy with the one I have and cherish the time I spend with her. But I also look forward to the time I get to spend all alone - which wouldn't be as easy to do if we had more.

Do you remember how I mentioned a while back that Malayna loves to pretend she's someone else? Sometimes she's baby Leo or Ethan, or 4-year-old Michael, or nasty Barbara. I've got lots of kids wrapped into one. And more to come, I'm sure.


shop update!

{new 10" clock in the shop}

Whew! I just spent the past day {and a half} updating the shop. There's a new front page {what do you think?}, 10" wall clocks , and brand-spankin' new 4" desk clocks. Now I know why I don't update more often. I have to edit each photo, write the descriptions, upload the information plus make a new front page. Not to mention the fact that my computer is so full that sometimes it refuses to save anything - then I have to stop, clean up the hard drive and hope I have room to save my documents.

Tomorrow I'm meeting with my art group. On the third Sunday of each month for about the past 5 years we get together to have brunch and make art. {Okay, maybe we do a little more trash-talking and eating than actual making.} There are nine of us, ranging in age from mid-30s to 60s. We meet at a different members' home every month and we each bring an item for brunch.

We make our schedule at the end of the year at our holiday party where we exchange gifts we've made for each other. That's when we decide who will host and what craft we'll do each month. We've done all sorts of things - paper crafts, floorcloths, beading, fabric dyeing. We've even made lampshades - a few of us took a workshop and then taught the group what we'd learned. Some other workshops we've taken have been mosaics {with Jessica of Tesserae} and papermaking {at RittenhouseTown}.

The host for the month is in charge of organizing the details - finding out who is coming and what food she'll bring {I always bring a Box O'Joe from Dunkin Donuts}, what craft we'll work on and what supplies are needed. Tomorrow we're doing paper crafts. I think I'll try and make this bowl that Patricia {of A Little Hut} posted about. It's a good way to recycle all the magazines I accumulate!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!


the sculpture park

{little dwelling in the Sculpture Park}

Sometimes, if I'm lucky, I can convince Malayna to walk through Abington Art Center's Sculpture Park with me. It's on the same grounds as our favorite park and is connected by a little pathway through the woods. None of the sculptures are permanent; each season they change as new artists are "invited to respond to the landscape". While we were walking through, a family of deer ran right in front of us. I could see them watching us as we walked along the path.

{Malayna and puppy enjoyed the little house}

One of the sculptures was a little house based on Van Gogh's painting Bedroom in Arles. There was a little bed, a few chairs and a desk. The back of the house opens up to the woods and from the front you can see the Abington Art Center.

{Abington Art Center - view from the little house}

After the Sculpture Park we followed the path around to the playground. Can we please do this every time we go to the park? A little inspiration for me and a little swinging for Malayna.

{I'm flying!}


late sleeper

{and she actually sleeps here}

It's 10:09 am and Malayna is still sleeping. What?! Okay, this is probably more like a nap since I heard her {loudly} playing at 5 am. There was no way I was getting up, showering and getting dressed at that hour, so I turned the monitor down and tried to go back to sleep. I think she fell back to sleep around 7 - which is when I got up.

She can play by herself in her room for a really long time. Well, it's not like she's truly by herself - she has Leo, Barbara, Ella, Michael and the new imaginary friend Ethan {inspired by this} to keep her company. Not to mention the 50+ dolls and toys she keeps in close proximity to her little Dr. Seuss-like bed. When I'm downstairs and she's up there for a rest {ha!} I can hear the boom, boom, boom of her little feet running back and forth across the room.

A few weeks ago she figured out that she can lift her shade and see the backyard. {Don't worry - her window is locked!} Jimmy was out there one afternoon reading when she spotted him and wouldn't leave him alone.

"Daddy! I see you, daddy!"

"Daddy, can you get me a flashlight?"

"Hi, daddy."

"Dad-day! I need a flashlight!"

"Daddy? Where are you, daddy?"

He only stayed out there for a little while after he realized she wasn't going to leave him alone. He couldn't hear her, but every once in a while he'd look up at her window and see her waving and her little face smiling down at him. I was inside and could hear her - she didn't get that daddy didn't hear what she was saying.

{this is what I had this morning}

I sat around this morning for a while twiddling my thumbs waiting for her to wake up. After about a half-hour I realized I'd better get something done while I'm ALL ALONE IN THE MORNING. I said out loud to myself, "I can go up to my studio!". Yahoo! I don't think I've ever worked up there that early in the morning. It's really nice!

{new 4" desk clock}

I didn't do any actual work, though. I don't like to be interrupted when I work, so I didn't want to start something and then have to stop when she wakes up. So I finally took photos of some new clocks I had made. I made a bunch of little desk clocks before the Glenside Street Fair - they measure 4" and are a smaller version of the 10" clocks. I'll probably be adding them to the site on Friday.

She's awake now, so I'd better go get her. Sounds like Michael is causing some kind of trouble up there.


the park

{Aidan and Malayna running to the "little park"}

We met Aidan and Wendy at the park today. Malayna and Aidan collected some acorns {with and without hats}, played hopscotch {the three-and-a-half-year-old version}, did some swinging and lots of running around. {Hmmm. Wonder if that'll bring on a nap today? I have my fingers crossed.}

{Malayna with a "cheesy" smile and Aidan with
a bruised forehead from a spill in the park}

When I was getting her ready for her rest, she asked me if she could have a pretty ring like mine when she grows up. I told her that it's a wedding ring and she can have one if she gets married. She said, "I'll marry Aidan when he gets as big as a daddy."

Speaking of daddies, Aidan's dad Daniel is 40 today. Wendy wanted to give him a special gift and asked me if I would make something. Last week while Malayna and Aidan were playing we brainstormed and came up with the idea for this book. A little background: Daniel and Aidan like to listen to music together. Not just any music, though - Aidan's latest favorite singer is David Bowie. {It's pretty funny to hear him singing "Rebel, Rebel" while he's playing.}

{Daniel's birthday gift}

We chose five songs {four Bowie and one Lyle Lovett} that have funny or sweet lyrics. Wendy gave me some photos and some color ideas. It's an accordion book - so it can also be displayed open like it is in the photo.

Daniel is the editor of Parents Express * and has a monthly column called "Dadography", where he writes about parenting Aidan. If you're in the Philadelphia area, the magazine is a great resource for activities, playgroups, events, etc. It also has articles each month about new books, cooking with kids, traveling with kids and an "ask the doctor" column.

*I'm having trouble getting this link to go directly to the magazine, so click on it, then go to the sidebar and select Parents Express.

Malayna was inspecting her acorn collection when we got home and noticed a big one with a tiny one attached to its stem. {When she found she found it I said it looked like a mommy with a baby acorn.} She said that maybe we could take them apart, and I asked her if they would be sad if they were separated. She said, "Noooooo. They're acorns. They don't have faces!"

{a very serious acorn collector}


recap of Saturday

{a glimpse of my booth}

Whew! What a day. The weather was okay when I arrived at the Glenside Street Fair at 7:30 am to set up. Not for long, though. It started to rain soon after my dad and I got the tent up {some people didn't even have a tent - they had to quickly cover their stuff!}.

The rain didn't last for very long, but then came the wind. Yikes! The tent next to me broke and a glass jeweler across the way lost some jewelry after it crashed to the ground. The pegboard walls I have to hold my clocks and wall squares almost toppled a few times and I had to hold on to my tent throughout the day {even though I had weights on all four corners}. Luckily, a fellow crafter and friend came over and helped me tie the pegboards to the tent so they wouldn't fall into my table. {Thanks, Rob!} Rob and his wife Nikki {Nik's Knacks Designs} make "whimsical handcrafted home accents… colorful mirrors, clocks, furniture, plaques, frames, and Judaica". Rob makes the pieces from wood and Nikki does the painting. We've been in a few shows together and it's always nice to see their new creations and catch up with each other.

I was able to chat with Linda from Little Flower Designs while my parents watched my booth. Her work is amazing - so much detail goes into each piece. I love her cookie pots. Jimmy and Malayna make cookies just about every weekend, so a cookie pot would be used daily around here! Linda lives close by and hopefully we can get together for coffee sometime soon.

I saw a few friends that I hadn't talked to in a while. Malayna's music teacher, Miss Kristen, stopped by with her family and bought a blue clock for her office. {Kristen is the director of Forever Making Music and More - her classes are a lot of fun!}

Wendy and Aidan stopped by in the morning - though he was more excited to see the live band than the crafts.

I was really glad to come home last night and could've gone to bed at 7 when Malayna did. Yup - I was up until 2am the night before {again!}. My next show is the Yardley Harvest Fest on September 29th. I am determined to go to bed by 10pm the night before.

{new 20" clock with wall squares}


getting ready

{clocks in progress}

I have a show tomorrow in Glenside, PA - the Glenside Street Fair from 10-5. {The rain date is Sunday - I'll post by tomorrow morning if the show is postponed.} I haven't done this show before, but it's practically in my backyard and I won't have far to travel. It's my first show of the season, so I've been busy making lots of clocks - 10" wall clocks, 4" desk clocks and huge 20" wall clocks. The 4" and 20" clocks are brand new and I'm really excited to show them.

I'm hoping to get everything finished today while Malayna is with mom-mom. In the past, I've stayed up really late the night before to finish lots of little last-minute things - like putting labels on bags, taking photos of finished work, printing price signs, etc. I was in my studio one morning trying to get everything together and noticed that it was 2am. I distinctly remember thinking, "Oh! It's ONLY 2:00. I have plenty of time!" {I know. That's not normal.}

I've always worked this way. There were many late nights in college getting my projects ready for class the next day. Something about having a deadline looming really gets me motivated. I do wish I could have that same motivation a few weeks in advance instead of just hours. However, being prepared that far in advance makes me feel like I'm forgetting something.

I hope to see some of you tomorrow {or Sunday}! My booth is number 6 - near the food court and the information booth.


no more vacations for mom-mom

{I realllly love my mom-mom}

My parents were in Cape May for a few days, so Malayna didn't get to play with mom-mom on Monday as she usually does. She really missed her and talked about her often. She's been a little more clingy than usual and every day she asked if that was the day mom-mom was coming over. {It doesn't help much that Jimmy is also on a business trip. He's in Atlantic City golfing and having meetings at restaurants with grown-ups! I'm just a little envious. Can you tell?}

While we were having dinner the other night, Jimmy and I were talking about how delicious the meal was and how good the feta cheese in it tasted. {I cooked again!} Malayna asked what the cheese was called so I told her and then asked if she'd like to taste it. When she said no {no surprise there}, I said, "You don't know what you're missing." Apparently she did, because she replied "mom-mom."

Here's the recipe for the veggie dinner:

1 lb. asparagus spears, trimmed and cut into 4-inch lengths
12 oz. small new red potatoes, cut into 1/4"-thick slices
2 medium-size zucchini, cut into 1/2"-thick rounds
8 oz. baby carrots
1 1/4 cups grape tomatoes
1 small onion, thinly sliced
5 tbs. plus 1 tsp. prepared pesto
1 tbs. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. hot pepper sauce, such as Tabasco
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1. Place large baking sheet in oven, and preheat to 450F. Cut 4 20-inch sheets of heavy-duty foil. Combine all ingredients except cheese in large bowl. Toss to coat, and season with salt and pepper.

2. Divide vegetable mixture among foil sheets. Sprinkle cheese over top. Fold foil over, and crimp edges to seal.

3. Arrange packets in single layer on heated baking sheet. Reduce oven to 400F. Bake 20 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. (Pierce packet with knife to test veggies.) Let stand 5 minutes.

4. To serve: Place packets on plate, slit tops, and fold back foil.

{Some notes: I've used regular foil (doubled) when I didn't have the heavy-duty stuff, but it tastes better with the heavy-duty. Not sure why! I cook it for 30 minutes instead of 20. I don't like onion, so I didn't use it. And while I was typing this, I noticed that it calls for zucchini, which I didn't use either.}


ideas, ideas, ideas

{mom-mom's birthday gift}

It happens every time. The week before I have a show I come up with tons of ideas for new products. Why is that? Is it because I'm procrastinating and don't want to look at the pile of semi-finished work in my studio? Or is it that shows get my creativity flowing?

This idea has been in my head for a while. When I first started milkshake crafts, one of the products I sold was frames. But the frames were already made - I just embellished them. It never felt right to me because I wanted something that was totally mine (like the clocks, which are made from a square of wood that my dad cuts for me, then collaged with paper and finished off with hand-painted numbers). I don't want to make ordinary frames like the kind you can buy at Target. But is that what people want to buy? Which is something I struggle with often - do I make things because I like them or do I tweak them so that they're appealing to more people?

The "frame" above was my mom's birthday gift. I asked Malayna what her favorite thing about mom-mom was, and she said "I like to play with mom-mom when she's Ella and I'm Barbara". Do you remember Barbara? She's not very nice. She bosses Ella around and then Ella does whatever she wants. Malayna usually only plays this game with mom-mom {everyone else rolls their eyes and tries to convince her to play something else}. But isn't that what grandparents are for - to play those games no one else wants to play?

Would you purchase the frame above? It would be customized with your own words, of course. {Each square measures about 4.5" and has a paper collage on a wood base. The photo is 3" and is held with photo corners. The squares are joined with a gold hinge.}



{the extent of my gardening these days}

I used to have a pretty garden. That is, before I had Malayna and then decided to start a business. These days if I have free time I'd rather go to my studio and work than go out in the garden. Well, maybe that's not entirely true. I would LOVE to go out and garden, but I wouldn't enjoy it as much if I knew there was work to be done.

When we first moved to our house in 1999, I was excited to have so much space to start a garden {or two}. There was hardly anything growing here - just a few trees and a bush or two. Jimmy and I created a few beds and I planted lots of perennials in the beds in the front of the house, since we spent a lot of time sitting on the porch. Since then, the dogwood tree we planted has grown a lot, so those sun-loving plants under it are suffering. I'll have to dig them out and find a sunny spot, though there aren't many sunny spots left {which is a good thing in the hot summer}.

{cousin Sean and Malayna}

Since Malayna has come along, we spend much of our time in the yard. We have a pool, swingset and sandbox out there for her. I also have an outdoor sink, the top of which we rescued from a remodeling project around the corner, and the bottom built by Jimmy. Next to that is my potting bench and a giant piece of slate for Malayna to use as a chalkboard. Jimmy also built a patio under the maple tree in the yard about a year after we moved in - it's perfect for cooking on the grill and eating outside. Our dream is to have a screenroom off the kitchen, so we can use it during the cooler months and also eat without worrying about bugs. {Then, of course, I would want to have my studio there to enjoy the fresh air and the garden.}

{the patio - off the mudroom}

See that blank wall to the left of the door? Wouldn't that look great with a mural or mosaic? Philadelphia has so many great murals, and after seeing a few Malayna asked if we could have one on our house. Why not? It's just paint, right? If we hated it we could always paint over it.

Every spring I wish I would've spent time in the fall planting bulbs. But fall is one of my busiest times with milkshake crafts - I'm getting ready for shows and building up my inventory. I'm much better off this year then I was last year - I already have piles of work in various stages of completion in the studio. Maybe this will be the year that I'll have time to plant those spring bulbs!

I need some help choosing plants for shade gardens. What are some of your favorite plants? Do you order them online or at your local nursery?

Have a great weekend!


spirited child

{if looks could kill...}

Do you have one? A spirited child, I mean. I do - almost nothing about Malayna is easy. You might have one and not even know it! The back of the book I'm currently reading says this about spirited children:

"The spirited child - often called "difficult" or "strong willed" - possesses traits we value in adults yet find challenging in children. Research shows that spirited kids are wired to be "more" - by temperament, they are more intense, sensitive, perceptive, persistent, and uncomfortable with change than the average child."

See that last line? Malayna. Don't get me wrong - she can be sweet, engaging and outgoing at times. But that happens mostly with the people she's most familiar with, like me, Jimmy, mom-mom and Uncle David. I can usually tell why she doesn't seem to like someone - loud, boisterous people turn her off {unless it's her daddy}. And if you seem very interested in her - forget it. She probably won't like you.

While we were at the park yesterday, Malayna sat down to have a snack. There were two moms standing nearby, and I knew one was going to be a problem. I walked away for a minute to get her drink and the loud mom said hello to her. Malayna gave her a nasty look and covered her face. The woman said "Oh, no. Did you swallow something you didn't like? Did you hurt yourself?" Of course Malayna wouldn't answer her - she just kept looking at her like she was from another planet. Did she never see a child act like that before? Was she serious? Or was she being sarcastic? I couldn't tell. She kept trying to talk to Malayna {why would you keep talking to someone who was giving you nasty looks and not answering you?}, so I finally said "she doesn't usually like to talk to people she doesn't know. It takes her a little time while to warm up." The other woman said "oh! I have one of those, too. I understand." I'm glad someone does!

It used to be worse. When a stranger {or even someone she knew that she didn't like} would say hello to her, she would yell. Yikes! She was really loud, too. I didn't know what to do about it and tried just about everything. I would warn her ahead of time that people were going to talk to her, and tell her that she could not yell. I would ignore her. Eventually I found something that worked for a while - I told her that if she felt uncomfortable she could say "I need my space." It worked like magic. I think it worked because people were surprised to hear such a little person say something like that. They would look amused and walk away.

The older she gets, the harder it is to explain. And I'm not sure I even need to. But I guess I'm worried that she'll be perceived as a brat - and then that's a reflection on me. Should I worry about what other people think? Of course not. But I do.

Do you have a spirited child? Any advice?

*photo by Kristen Kalp



{You callin' me a princess?}

I have a confession to make: I don't like pink. Or princesses. Gasp! And Malayna doesn't really know who Cinderella or Snow White are. Double gasp! In fact, I've been consciously limiting her exposure to princesses {do you know how hard that is?}. If she asks about them, I'll answer her questions. I just don't want to introduce them - it's bound to happen once she's in school.

Maybe I wouldn't mind them so much if they weren't so prevalent. Try going into a store without seeing some kind of princess reference. It seems like the choices for little girls are narrowing instead of expanding. I dread going to big name toy stores - the aisles {that they've assigned as "girl" aisles} are dripping in pink. I don't want to go near the stores with clothing covered in flowers, hearts and butterflies. How about bedding? When Malayna needed new pillowcases last year, we had to cross over into the "boys" section just to get one with the alphabet on it.

I don't mind her pretending to be a princess - she's being creative! But I don't want that to be the only thing she pretends to be. She loves to play dress up with lots of different "costumes" - cowboy, firefighter, doctor, baby, mommy, dog. Even princess. {Except her princess doesn't wear pink - she wears blue.}

Princesses don't really do anything. They're basically here to look pretty and be nice. Both of which are perfectly fine - just not all the time. Princesses are perfect. Real girls are not.

There's so much pressure on girls today to be perfect, pretty and thin. Ever seen a princess who wasn't all of the above?

PS: Apparently Malayna has ESP. As I was writing this, she was looking at a baby doll magazine. She brought it over to me, opened to a Disney ad with Cinderella, and said "mommy, look at this beautiful princess."

*The photo above is by Kristen Kalp.


end of summer

{Begging for food all day wears a dog out.}

Every year we have an end-of-summer barbeque. We've been having them ever since we got married - this was our 12th! {And boy, does that make me feel old.} A few of our friends have been coming since the beginning, and we were talking about how different the parties have become. When we had those first few barbeques, they would last until the next day - with several people sleeping over. It didn't even matter where they slept - floor, couch, lounge chair outside... Now our barbeque lasts until 8 at the latest. Most of our friends have to get their children home and in bed at a decent hour.

On Sunday, we had so much food left over that we could've had another party. Since our friends Wendy, Daniel and Aidan couldn't make it on Saturday, they came over on Sunday. Aidan is Malayna's favorite friend. They've known each other since they were about 18 months old and have always gotten along really well. At this point they're like an old married couple.

They were playing in the kiddie pool when Malayna started whining. And wouldn't stop. At first Aidan seemed to be ignoring her, but then he said, "If you don't stop acting like that, we'll have to leave. If you stop acting like that, we'll stay." What?! It was so hard not to laugh!

Since teaching Malayna to have manners is very important to us, we always have her thank our guests for coming and walk them to the door. She was really tired and cranky, but humored us, walked them to the door and said, "Thanks for not sharing."