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Marisa Hopkins: Living the Creative Life

Updated: 2018-03-17T05:20:35.373-05:00


Outta the Mouths of Babes: Another Annelie Edition


Hey folks! Remember that one time I blogged for 6+ years, and then just stopped for 1.5 years without saying goodbye?

Me, too!

The potentially bad news - I do believe this blog is ready to retire.

The super great news? I found one last little Outta the Mouths of Babes hidden in my drafts folder and I think it will make the perfect blog parting.

Thank you to all who has followed this blog for the last several years! It's been great getting to know so many of you over the years, and letting you peek into the wacky world of Hopkins.

I'll be sure to keep you updated if/when my blogging days return!


Interviewing Annelie for a 1st grade questionnaire.

ME : What three words would you use to describe yourself?

ANNELIE: Funny, playful, and rock 'n' roll.


Yeah, I will go ahead and say those are perfect words to describe my kiddo -- now a SECOND grader! -- she knows herself well.

My Favorite Kind of Day!


Other than the part where these guys are all like, "Let's clean for Mom!" this is pretty much exactly how my Mother's Day morning went: allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="225" src="" width="400"> It was pretty spectacular.I even got a pocket full of money from Gracie - I had her count it up, because counting money is not quite her strength yet.... when she discovered that she'd given me $3.79, she promptly said, "Oh I didn't meant to give you THAT," and took a dollar back.But that's okay, because she made me a super awesome booklet, full of all sorts of information about me, such as my age (32), my weight (15 lbs lighter than she guessed), my favorite food (she claims it's fish tacos, but she might be projecting, as I know they're HER fave, and seriously, it's homemade Fettuccine Alfredo all the way), and the fact that I hope to publish nine book series very soon (Um?).And then I baked myself a fancy chocolate cake! And promptly covered it in chocolate frosting and chocolate chips because HELLO, CHOCOLATE. (also I need a powdered sugar sifter...)Mmmmmmm.....Also, there is a huge possibility that this cake is all I served for lunch.... Mothers out there - especially mine *waves* Hi, Mom! - HAPPY DAY! Hope it's been as grand for you, as it has been for me!xoxo,[...]

Dollhouse Days, Revisited, and Fancy Rewards!


Six years ago, when Gracie was a diaper-wearing toddler, I blogged about her love for Playmobil and the pop-up dollhouse I saved from my own childhood Playmobil-playing days. {clicky click}Well, naturally my children destroyed the dollhouse (I blame baby Annelie) and lost all the people (I blame Gracie) and now they look at the pictures and regret being the Queens of Destruction very deeply.GRACIE [gazing wistfully at the picture of toddler-self playing with rad dollhouse]: Ugh, that looks awesome.ME [remembering playing with said dollhouse when I was her age]: It was. It really, really was.Gracie, upon discovering that Playmobil has a super fancy royal set of dolls, has rekindled her love for her "people" - what she called her favorite toys when she was two and a half.It's like they were designed just for her. And as a Playmobil-loving parent, I couldn't be more jazzed.But..... I refused to buy them for her. Yep. ME [2 months ago]: Guess what, kids! I've come up with a new Hopkins Family System of Doing Things, and from now on, when you beg and beg and beg for more toys, I'll say, Sure you can have toys! But first you have to earn the tickets to buy them! [waves handful of freshly printed tickets from]GRACIE: No way. I'm just going to use the money in my piggy bank. ME: Nope. After I caught Annelie with TWENTY DOLLARS in her backpack, so she could buy her friend's hand-drawn comics, Daddy and I have decided you girls are going to the bank and starting accounts, and you don't get to spend your money. [shakes handful of tickets] But good news! You get to earn tickets to buy whatever you want!At first my kids were a little shell-shocked, because my new Family System of Doing Things involves hard work and math skills, and a zero-tolerance-for-sibling-rivalry policy. (they get to earn behavior tickets - yay! - but have to give them up to their sister when caught being rotten little meanies - boo!) Fast forward two months, and now they have ticket jars full of awesome behavior tickets, and charts full of neon happy face stickers, for doing daily chores, and momwork (math tutoring w/ me - yay, fun!). And their chart stickers turn into tickets that can't be taken away, or given to their sister, once their chart is full. They're pretty excited about their tickets.And I can never quite believe how much smoother life gets with an in-house reward system. My kids eat it up! They ask for extra chores and beg to study! WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?Anyway, Gracie has been saving and saving, and finally last week, after passing over 75 tickets and a printed voucher for the Playmobil Royal Dressing Room set, she bought herself her first toy - and proceeded to stalk the mail, counting down the 5 shipping days until her new playset was hers, all hers! You guys, it was the cutest thing! I've never seen her so excited for something. And because I had an empty box laying around, and a room full of craft supplies, gold puffy paint, and a glue gun, *kisses glue gun* I said, "Hey, let's build your Playmobil a fancy dressing room."So we did!Her dolls came in the mail a couple days ago, and she hasn't stopped playing with them - and her new dressing room - since. And, because this is Gracie we're talking about, here... yes, I have already taken away behavior tickets for catching her out of bed, playing with them late at night on a school night - the little sneak.She was super excited to comb though my Southern Living magazines for room decorations - especially when she found Monet's Waterlilies (her favorite).Isn't her little dressing room cute? She used the Napoleon Apartments at the Louvre as her inspiration, and made sure it had the chandelier of her dreams.And dogs wearing fancy necklaces. Also, after taking some photos of her playing with her new dollhouse... I realized I never wallpapered the outside of the box....   ME [to Gracie]: Don't worry, I'll paper the outside for you ASAP.WILL: Why would you cover up the best part?GRACIE [r[...]



So remember that April Fool's prank I played on my kids a couple weeks ago? Yeah, turns out that was more of a drill for yesterdays major MomFail.

Poor kids. Wednesday night, I set my alarm clock for 7 AM, the time I get up to get them ready for school on the days when Will is home to take them to school in the morning.

But when he's out of town? Like yesterday? Yeeeeaah, it's the exact time we walk out the door to catch the school bus.


But my KIDS! They're pros. As soon as they heard me running down the hall screaming, "WAKE UP, WAKE UP, THIS IS NOT AN APRIL FOOL'S DAY JOKE. WE ARE SO LAAAAATE." they flew out of bed, grabbed the clothes I threw at them, and started dressing. One minute later they were brushing their teeth (one handed, while I put on their zip sweatshirts and brushed their hair). One minute after that, they were slipping on their shoes. And no joke, four minutes from the time my alarm went off, my girls were grabbing their backpacks (thankfully packed with homework the night before) and running out the door. I followed behind with the breakfast and lunch money.

And wouldn't you know it, we were actually a bit early! Stood there in the cold, totally dazed, for a couple minutes before the bus came chugging up to us.

It took a whole forty-five minutes for my heart to calm, I tell ya. And the minute I walked back through the door, I set my alarm for today--the RIGHT wake up time, this time.

I sincerely hope I do not make that mistake again.  But hey, if I do, maybe we can try to beat our record and get out of the house in only THREE minutes! Sounds like a challenge....

Have a great weekend, folks!


April Foolin'


On Sunday night, I caught Gracie out of bed TWICE, just goofing off in the bathroom. As we've already done the whole toilet-wad-thrown-up-on-the-ceiling thing, and the entire-bottle-of leave-in-conditioner-sprayed-on-the-mirror thing, and the nail-polish-pictures-all-over-the-door thing (as well as dropped in the toilet. REDDISH BROWN NAIL POLISH. It's not a pretty sight) - always after bedtime - I knew not to trust my 7-year-old."GET IN BED RIGHT NOW!" I yelled that second time, since my calm and rational-sounding request for her to get in bed clearly didn't work the first time.Also, she was in her pajamas, standing in the bathtub. ?!?And then she completely burst into tears, and climbed out of the bathtub, and sobbed all the way back to her room. No, not because I yelled at her. She doesn't even hear the yelling, I'm convinced."I was setting up an April Fool trick, and it was a good one, too," she said, through her tears, and then pulled the bed covers over her head."Wait, what was the trick going to be?" I asked."I was tying fake money to strings in the shower, so you'd think it was real and freak out."Well. It didn't actually look like real money - I checked - but not bad, kid, not bad!Last year, this was the April Fool I got:And the two little pranksters, sticking stuffed rabbits in my fridge would be none other than:  They were quite pleased with themselves.  Truthfully, folks, I'm not a prankster. I'm actually the most gullible person on the planet - In fact, if you open the Guinness Book of World's Records 2011, and turn to Most Gullible Person on the Planet, there's my face. (did anyone go check? If so, GOTCHA!) I had absolutely no plans to prank anyone this year, certainly not my children. But knowing that Gracie had this day marked as one to prank ME? OH, HO HO, little child! I shall teach you!The next morning, April 1st, I got up like any other school day, and went off to Gracie's room to wake her for school. Naturally, I did not softly rub her arm, and whisper, "Wake up, Gracie. Time to get ready for school," in my Hey-I-totally-get-that-mornings-suck-so-I'll-be-gentle-in-waking-you-so-your-day-is-not-lousy voice. No. Instead I shook her arm vigorously, saying loudly and frantically, "GET UP, WE'RE LATE, WE'RE LATE, SCHOOL STARTS IN ONE MINUTE!"omg. The look on her face! Is it considered cruelty to children to LAUGH AND LAUGH (inwardly, until alone in the kitchen making breakfast, in which I died of the laughter) at their panic stricken faces as they assume they are supremely late for school?Oh man. This is the moment in which all of their Late-for-school nightmares will begin, isn't it? Well, it was worth it. I did this for both of my darling, sneaky little girls, and they got dressed for school in TWO MINUTES. Annelie was the first to stumble into the kitchen for breakfast, rubbing her eyes. She sat at the table and looked over at me, where I was cracking eggs and mixing them with pancake-making stuff in a bowl. "DID YOU BRUSH YOUR HAIR??!" I shouted. Well, she hadn't, obvious in how she sprang up from the seat and bee-lined for the bathroom to brush her hair. I did the same with Gracie, and then with both girls as they put on their socks and shoes. Will was up at this point, too, and clapped and shouted, "HURRY HURRY!"The girls both sat down for breakfast, still dazed, still only 5 minutes from when they woke up. At this point, pancakes were on the griddle, and I was crushing strawberries into warm maple syrup."Mom?" Gracie said, totally confused. "Are you making pancakes for breakfast?" Will and I both shouted "APRIL FOOL'S" together and the girls - Gracie, especially - could not believe it. They were definitely shell shocked for a nice long beat before they laughed. Then they cheerfully ate strawberry banana pancakes and watched cartoons for a half hour before school (which they never have time for). (also, Annelie was showing the camera her SAD, I-was-fo[...]

Hippity Hoppity Easter's On It's Way


We have officially reached the first holiday in which a child KNOWS THE TRUTH ABOUT YOU KNOW WHO.(no, I'm not talking about Voldemort, you guys. I'm talking about a certain cotton-tailed, gift-giving creature) This discovery happened a couple weeks into the new year, when Gracie, my 7-year-old, upon rifling through a stack of scrapbook paper, came across a familiar patterned paper. VERY FAMILIAR.It was a paper that looked exactly like the papers the Tooth Fairy uses for her hand written in special curly-cue handwriting notes. Also, Santa? Yeah, his handwriting is the same.  She cried out in horror, and I when I turned around and saw her, she was clutching the paper and her chest, her face crumpled and tears dripping from her chin. It was so tragically hilarious I finally understood why Will finds it physically impossible to keep from laughing whenever I cry. Gracie takes after me in many, many ways. And we both apparently take after the Make it Snow Girl, because watching her YouYube vid is like looking at myself in the mirror when I'm feeling particularly emotional.Poor kiddo. Watching her complete and total devastation made me want to cry for her shattered innocence and laugh all at once (I restrained myself). I hugged her and talked to her about it, but nothing I said made it better, and she also cried that mermaids must not be real, or Saint Nick, or anything that she has ever believed in.After a few minutes, she promised to keep the secret from her sister and started to leave for her room so she could sob in private... But just before she left, I turned over the paper she'd found, and unfolded it.And whattadya know....IT WAS THE NOTE THE FLIPPIN' TOOTH FAIRY LEFT FOR ANNELIE THE PREVIOUS WEEK. "Gracie... did you LOOK at the paper you found?""No.""Well..." So I showed her. She couldn't believe it. Also, lately Gracie has decided that jumping to the worst possible conclusion in any situation is the way to experience life, despite the fact that it frequently leaves her emotionally drained. Again, she sort of takes after me a little. The last few months have been a challenge for her. With Easter approaching, she's been emotional all over again. She went crawling into my lap the other day after hearing Annelie gush about how excited she is for a certain carrot-loving visitor. The fattest tears were streaking down her cheeks.Sometimes it's hard for me to watch the kiddos growing up. But sometimes I think it's harder for the kiddos to watch themselves growing up. In any event, she showed how grown up she can be this morning, when I reminded the girls to pull out their baskets so they can leave it for the Easter Bunny. Annelie started crying immediately, because apparently her basket is gone (I'm guessing she took it outside when she wasn't supposed to, and it got rained on and wrecked), and she figured that meant she wouldn't be getting any presents this year."Here, Annelie! You can use my basket!" Gracie jumped in immediately, passing Annelie her basket. With how much sibling rivalry has been going on lately, this kind of sisterly sacrifice made me all sappy.I just love it!And I love even more that when I said, "Hey, Gracie, don't you think you'll need some kind of basket for YOUR presents?" she got super excited and produced this crafty little number:I made sure to let her know that the Easter Bunny might be giving her something a little bigger than a candy bar (the exact size of her paper bunny basket) and she gave me a huge smile back.You know those movie moments where the mother and daughter share a little secret, and smile at each other all knowingly, and the music swells and it's heart-warming?Yeah, it was just like that!I hope all of you who celebrate Easter, have a lovely day tomorrow! And all of you who celebrate the Easter Bunny, have a lovely day, too. And for those of you who simply call tomorrow "Sunday, the day to sleep in," I hope it's amazing.xoxo,[...]

Happiness Is...


... having another writer in the house - one who TOTALLY GETS the thrilling possibilities of a blank page in a composition book, the wonderful smell of a new ink pen, my writing inspiration playlists (and has same taste in music, which is the best kind of bonus)....
...too bad it's not exactly convenient when said other writer breaks all concentration with excited sharing of her own brilliant ideas. Hard to focus on my latest shiny idea when thoughts are constantly interrupted with stories of a Princess called Donut...

Such is Friday night. And mine is looking mighty nice so far!

Hope yours is, too. Have a great weekend, folks!


Gracie the Poet (with the Trophy to Show it)


Since she was in kindergarten, my 7-year-old has dreamed of winning her school's Imaginations creativity contest. There's a range of mediums to choose from - art, photography, short stories, etc. In kindergarten, when the theme was announced, she was so excited she planned on entering in every category. It's a project without parent involvement, so I provided whatever materials she would need, then gave her space to do her creative little thing. Gracie had big plans - huge - and knew it would possibly take all the weeks allotted to complete her projects. That only excited her more, and she worked every day after school....And then her friends began handing in their own finished projects, and Gracie seemed to realize there was a chance she might not win.With that, she was done. She set down her art supplies, looked indifferent, and insisted, "I don't have to enter. It's not homework. It's just if people want to. And I don't want to anymore."When Gracie digs in her heels, she goes NOWHERE. Not the tiniest millimeter further, no matter how much encouraging and cheering Will and I are doing on the sidelines. (Sometimes being a parent sucks) I was so mad. I tried not to be. Being mad at her certainly doesn't help at all. Besides, she's exactly like me, EXACTLY. And when I dig in my heels because of self-doubt, that's that. Also, I learn from example, and she does, too. So after the contest passed for the SECOND year, and she still didn't enter because she was still too afraid to lose, and I was once again MAD, I told her that I was going to enter a short story contest - even though short stories aren't really my area of expertise. The winner of a contest I'd been toying with the idea of entering would be published, and that sounded like a mighty nice prize. And I told her that in second grade, no matter what, she had to enter her school's contest.Gracie was intrigued by the idea of me entering a contest, too, and promised she would. I updated her on my short story-writing status for weeks. When my story was done, she watched me chew off my nails as I entered. A couple weeks later, the winners were announced and I wasn't among them. I was disappointed and she was the cutest thing as she hugged me, and let me know it would be okay (Most of the time, being a parent doesn't suck). She watched me get over it, sit at my computer, and get back to work. Weeks ago, the contest at her school was announced, the theme being Elect to be Excellent! She remembered her promise, and took it all very seriously, sketching out pictures of kids being excellent by acing spelling tests, and considering possible short story ideas. Annelie entered in the K-1st grade Art division, but two days before the deadline, Gracie still wasn't sure what to do about her half-finished pieces. She was already talking about the other kids winning, and I worried, once again, that she would lose to self-doubt. So I dug in my heels. "Either finish a project you are working on and possibly win, or turn it in unfinished and definitely lose. It's your choice, but YOU ARE ENTERING," I said. (breathing fire. I can be scary) And it worked! Gracie tossed out every unfinished, hated thing she'd begun and grabbed her notebook - which she is never without. Starting fresh, she wrote the most brilliant poem! The Spelling Testby Gracie HopkinsMy spelling test is on Thursday.I haven't studied yet.I really don't know the words well.I'll study so I won't forget.I studied and studied.My friend asked me to play.I said, "No way! I want to get a good grade!"It was Thursday.We took our spelling test.I got everything right.It felt good because I did my best!(awesome, yeah?)And here is Annelie's entry, TAKING CARE OF FRIENDS (also called, THE SICKNESS, because she loves how morbid that sounds):Friday was the award ceremony, which is a pretty big deal at their school. The judges are all professors [...]

Shredded Teddies


I love getting song recs from my mom, and Radioactive, by Imagine Dragons is the latest.

I like it. My favorite part, however is the video, which reminds me of something straight out of Annelie's wacky, creative little mind.

allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">

Just so you know, my childhood teddy would totally annihilate all those critters.

See how tough he is?

(too bad a 3-year-old Annelie, appropriately nicknamed The Queen Of Destruction - also, The Annihilator, defeated him years ago. Sigh.)

And as for Annelie's latest wacky and creative stuffs, here you go:

Its a picture of a monster being light-zapped by the sun, screaming, "No! you can't do this to me!"

And the duck, a mere onlooker, is saying, "Why not, baby?"


What have you been up to lately, folks?


Oh, the Shame!


Before owning dogs, I didn't realize how disgusting animals could be. Not that I was completely naive when I adopted them. I mean, I once saw a puppy do his little puppy business, eat it, throw it up, and then eat that... 

But that was a one off, right? Just a confused little puppy.

Then we adopted Willie, our old, blind German shepherd, and... well, let me just say I thought our kittens needed a trip to the vet because the litter box was empty the first entire week we had them. But then Willie came up to me for a rump scratching and wouldn't you know it, there were flecks of kitty litter stuck to the wet of his nose. 


It's true, folks. They really eat poo. 

Along with EVERYTHING else -- everything dead and smelly and disgusting, like telephone line-fried squirrels, and entire bags of potting soil that have been enriched with chicken manure. And when it makes them sick... well, they eat that, too.

Honestly, after five years with this dog, I didn't think there was anything left for him to eat that would gross me out.

Ha! Naive, I certainly am! Because today, folks, Willie reached a new low:


Half a bathroom-sized trash can full of 'em.


Though, I suppose to be fair I should shame the cats, too. And I would, if they'd hold still for two seconds.

Their sign would say something like, I feed the German shepherd by barfing up hairballs under the kitchen table.

Shame on you, cats.

(Hannah, the resident chihuahua, doesn't get a sign because it would probably scare her, and then she'd pee on the floor. Again)

Have you guys discovered Yeah, it's kind of hilarious, and quite possibly my new favorite site. I'll spare Willie the world-wide humiliation by not submitting his photo.

Also, I'm a little glad I have my 4 dysfunctional pets, because man, some of THOSE pets are just too naughty.

Have a great Wednesday, folks!

Unless you are in Australia. In that case, enjoy your Thursday! 


A Freebie for Friday


Remember the mermaid illustration from yesterday's blog post? Well, I said I painted her for a purpose, and that purpose happens to be the birthday invitations of a certain soon-to-be-6-year-old in our household.


Man, I am never going to get used to my kids getting older each year.

Anyway, last week Annelie decided she wanted a mermaid-themed birthday party... then she told me who she was inviting from her class, and her list was mostly boys.

"Why don't you have your party be a mermaid AND pirate party?" I suggested. She was all for it, and instantly crossed another girl off her invite list in favor of a boy who "just loves pirates so much." 

Well, I just love pirates so much, too, and mermaids. And since I couldn't find any pirate/mermaid invitations I liked, I whipped out the watercolors and made one that I thought would be especially fun with singed edges (I love singeing edges).

So, since it's Friday, and Fridays are some of the best days of the year, here is a little freebie for the pirate and mermaid lovers out there who might want invitations to print from home. Or for the journalers out there, or the peeps who might want some print-it-yerself stationary.
And if you'd rather print yourself a finished invitation and fill the blanks in by hand, here you go:
And I'm sure you already know this, but for those who don't: These images belong to me, and are for personal use only! You are welcome to print, use, and share with friends, however, please DO NOT print with the intent to sell, or alter and claim as your own. Thank you!

Have a great weekend, folks!


Illustration Friday: MYTH


Hmmm.... I suppose my illo for this week's Illustration Friday prompt is more MYTHICAL than MYTH, but whatevs. At least I got my paints out, which I haven't done in a few years!

I must admit that secretly, I hoped I'd pick up the paintbrush and adore watercolors the way I did in high school. But alas. I'm not really a fan of these things. I refuse to give up, though.Watercolors are just too pretty!

Oh, by the way, there is more to this picture than I'm showing you, because it's not just a purposeless 'I feel like painting' kind of painting. A certain kindergartner is turning SIX next week, and this illustration is really a...


See what I did there? Cliffhanger blog post. 

Happy Thursday, to you!

The Top Reasons I Have Ignored My Blog for Nearly Two Months


 the Fork - by Kathy Jeffordswww.thedreamygiraffe.etsy.comFirstly, HAPPY NEW YEAR, FOLKS!Also, I've had a few Marisa, Are You Okay? messages lately, and I'm starting to feel a wee bit guilty because it's been nearly TWO MONTHS since I blogged last. After 5 years of barely missing a week of blogging, me going quiet like this is fairly extreme.I'm fine! Thanks for asking! I've just been busier than I've ever been in my life, it seems, and letting my blog sit on the back burner was surprisingly easy. But here is a list of my goings on, to fill in that two month gap:1. The holidays happened! Mine were splendid - how were yours? We spent the last couple months with oodles of friends and family. I actually decorated, and made holiday-themed crafts with the girls, and sewed them Christmas outfits, all of which I have zero pictures of, because I couldn't find my camera's battery charger (maybe next year will be the year I approach the holidays fully prepared).Oh! but I do have a photo of the poodle skirts, because lately2. I have been a poodle skirt-sewing maniac.  (if sewing two in two months counts as being a poodle skirt-sewing maniac, which I think it does) Gracie's (and yes, it's back to Gracie, folks. Her name change to Donna lasted only until everyone was calling her Donna. She's Gracie again, this time for keeps, she insists. *sigh*) holiday performance was set in a 50's diner, so she needed a skirt. I adore circle skirts, but I've never trusted myself to figure out the circumference of the dang things before. Dana, over at MADE, makes it so unbelievably easy and I already had 1 inch white elastic on hand for the waistband.Look how cute!I made a matching flower pin for her sweater, which was a gift from her London-dwelling uncle, and she felt quite fashionable. And here is Annelie's, which she wore on Friday for 50's Day. I had to make her poodle myself, because I'm the kind of mom who leaves poodle applique-buying until the night before the entire town of elementary schoolers all celebrate 50's Day. Yes, the craft stores were sold out.Also, I was sure Annelie would be the only kindergartener sporting a polka dot mini skirt on 50's day, but I was WRONG (though she was the only girl in hot pink glitter tights). I forgot that I'd given the skirt-making instructions to one of the other bus stop moms when she saw Gracie's poodle skirt last month, and sure enough, her kindergartner - a friend of Annelie's - had one the same length. And they were both in hot pink. They looked like little rock stars together. It was ridiculous in it's cuteness.Speaking of rock stars...3.  Will put on a little Elvis tribute for the King at a favorite local coffee shop, on Elvis's birthday the other day. It would have been nice if the local news didn't stand directly in front of the stage the whole time so I could grab a decent photo... but besides that, it was a very fun show!Everyone who came out to watch had a great time, including Gracie...Though you'd never guess she had fun considering she sat in the middle of the floor, back to the stage, arms over her chest, hood over her face, party hat over that.... for half the show. Yep.4. I have been working, working, working.And by working, I mean playing with toddlers and preschoolers, again. And re-learning how to see the world from a totally awesome viewpoint.For instance: (this is, apparently, what the finished result of "Clean up your markers" looks like to a 3-year-old)Brilliant, no? Preschoolers are so much fun. I'm between jobs at the moment, but look forward to having more little tykes to play with soon! 5. I'm feelin' old and creaky.The biggest reason I've been away is that I've had minor health lameness. Nothing interesting, though I'm s[...]

A Girl by Any Other Name...


I don't have a daughter named Gracie anymore. Now, don't be alarmed. The daughter formerly known as Gracie is alive and well, and still has shiny hair.But she's decided she is done with being called Gracie. She doesn't even want to be called Grace, which is sort of what I thought she'd go by when she grew up. Nope, Grace is too common, she says. Too boring -- there are at least 2 other girls in her grade called Grace. Besides, Gracie isn't even her name, my 7-year-old is quick to remind me. "It's Donna, which is much, much prettier than Grace." Actually, that's true. But I'm going to be honest when I say I'm a bit conflicted. Ever since the moment I had my first crazy pregnancy dream, and decided it was surely a name-choice premonition, I had myself a little baby Gracie.You see, I'd wanted for years to name my first daughter Donna Grace, after my grandmother, who is one of my most favorite people in the whole wide world. But, also, I really loved the name Isabella - and as I did not know Isabella would be one of the top baby names of that year, if not THE TOP, I was torn.And THEN I had my aforementioned crazy pregnancy dream in which I was picking up my two-year-old daughter from daycare. She was this impish little blonde thing, with big blue eyes and short curly hair, and a little pony tail sticking out the top of her head."Isabella! Get your stuff!" I called to her.And what did darling little Isabella do?She put her hands on her hips and stomped her foot and said, "I NOT Isabella, I GRACIE.""Come on, Isabella! Get your stuff!" I continued. But nope, this little urchin was too much like myself, and she wasn't having any of this wrong-name business.  By the way, did you know my name is pronounced MER-EEE-SA? Yep, it rhymes with Lisa, and yes, I will correct anyone who repeatedly mispronounces it. I might even put my hands on my hips and stomp my foot about it, as I HATE when people call me the wrong name. So. I can understand why little "Isabella" was voicing her objections.Naturally, when I woke up, I figured my dream was really my baby telling me to stop messing around with the wrong name, and go with the name I wanted to call her the most. I have never had second thoughts about it.(Although, I learned soon after not to trust my dreams as prophetic. But only after I FREAKED for many pregnant months over the fact that we might have to deal with the life challenge of our baby being both a hermaphrodite AND Siamese twins. Stupid crazy pregnancy dreams...)Well, my blue-eyed blondie is digging in her heels again. Not like when she was in kindergarten, and said she was changing her name to Melissa. This time, she told all her classmates and teacher to call her Donna.When did we find this out? Weeks after the fact, when Will and I were helping chaperone one of Gracie's classmate's b-day parties, and one of the boys corrected Will."Um, actually, her name isn't Gracie, it's Donna," the boy told him.Um, okaaaay then.So, for the first time since the No-we-will-not-call-you-Melissa days, my kiddo absolutely loves her name. And the best part for her is that it IS her name.But my favorite part of the name story is about how my Grammy - the original Donna Grace of the family - got her name. You see, my grandma wasn't originally called Donna. Nope, when she was born, she was given the name Dawn. It was her older sister Nina (who pronounced her own name Nigh-Na until she moved to Pasadena, and changed it to the long E pronunciation so she could be 'Nina from Pasadena') who was entrusted with the job of going to the bank to fill out the birth certificate.The name Dawn was BORING, in Nina's opinion. She secretly decided Dawna would be much more fun. When my grandma turned 16 and went [...]

Outta the Mouths of Babes.10


Mid-November already?How 'bout a little round up of the things my kids say that crack me up?----------------------------------------------WILL: Mommy made you a sandwich and she made it with extra sprinkles of loveANNELIE: No, actually, that's just lettuce.----------------------------------------------Gracie, on handling bullies. If someone called me stupid, I'd say, "Come over to my house." But before they came, I'd glue their picture in my dictionary next to the word stupid, and then when they came over, I'd say, "Come look at my dictionary." And when they looked, I'd say, "TA-DA!"---------------------------------------------- At dinnerME: Let's talk about what we're thankful for, and pick something that can't be bought at a store.ANNELIE: I'm thankful for the people who work at the stores and make sure that the stuff I want is at the stores. ----------------------------------------------ANNELIE: I'm going to invite Jason, a boy in my class, to my birthday party. Wanna know why? Because he always smiles at me when I walk past him. And when  he comes, I'm going to explain all the rules to him.ME: Rules like No dating until you're sixteen?ANNELIE: Yeah, that one. And also no snatching things away from people, and always share. ----------------------------------------------ME [unscrews Gracie's light switch plate, removes, puts on new light switch plate]: ...GRACIE: Oh WOW, Mom! You should be a builder or something!ME: ... are you kidding?GRACIE: No, I'm not. I think you're AMAZING!(Yes, it is THAT easy to be amazing, folks.) ----------------------------------------------GRACIE: Mom, my school picture turned out GREAT!ME: Did you get to see it?GRACIE: No.ME: Then how do you know?GRACIE [looks at me like I'm crazy]: Because I smiled my biggest smile and I looked adorable.  ----------------------------------------------ANNELIE [sniffs surrounding air, delighted]: Oooooh, I made it smell like sausages in here!! ME [breathes surrounding air]: *dies*----------------------------------------------Earlier -Will put on a interview with Christopher Hitchens, in which CH argues that women aren't funny. Later -at dinnerGRACIE [puts tiny dab of hot sauce in the center of her taco]: There.WILL: That's really all you want?GRACIE [shoots him a serious look]: That's all I can handle in this situation.WILL laughs.GRACIE [arches brow and smiles]: There. You laughed. Proof that women can be funny.THAT'S MY GIRL.    ----------------------------------------------That's all I've got for today!Possibly even for the week.Maybe even for the month - I've been taking a bit of an unplanned blog hiatus. Lately, I've been up to my ears with my NaNoWriMo project (which is already a good dozen or so thousand words behind my goal), my new job (which involves playing trucks and cars with a 3-year-old, and spoon-feeding fruit smoothies to his baby sister - and I'm so happy to be playing with the littlest-aged kiddos, again), and rearranging all the rooms and/or furniture in my house.CHANGE IS GOOD. Exhausting, but good.Hope you're all having a great November so far, folks!    xoxo, [...]

Perfectly Pippi


You better believe I had heart palpitations of joy when Annelie informed me that she wanted to be Pippi Longstocking for Halloween.We made a Mr. Nilsson monkey pal together (blogged here) and got crafty with her dress. I decided, out of sheer laziness, that this year I would not touch my sewing machine once. Oiling my machine and winding bobbins of matching thread is not high on my list of Favorite Things To Do, so I wimped out and grabbed my most favorite crafting tool ever.Yep, that's right, this year's costume is compliments of my glue gun. Add in my fabric scrap stash, a bottle of Neon Red hair spray, and approximately 1 hour (including dress-gluing), and I managed to transform Annelie from a girl who acts just like Pippi, to a girl who looks just like Pippi.Then off to the school Fall carnival we went. Pippi pet the chickens.Pippi fed the cows. But the highlight, for me, was when Pippi and Mr. Nilsson found their buddy Little Old Man, and galloped off into the sunset.(or, you know, walked around the school sports field)And the wacky bookish trio was complete!Annelie was a hit, but mostly by the parents, who remembered Pippi's adventures from their youth but had yet to share her with their kids. "How does she even know who Pippi Longstocking is?" I was asked by multiple people.After chatting with them about reading Pippi to the girls before our trip to Sweden this past summer, I do believe there will be a few fellow school chums welcoming the wacky redhead into their lives. (hurrah!)Gracie had an awesome time at the carnival, too, decked out as Captain Happypants, my favorite super hero.  I can't wait to see what costumes these kids come up with next year! Hope you have a happy and safe Halloween this year, folks!xoxo, [...]

Captain Happypants


When it came to this year's Halloween costume idea, I expected the usual from my fairly predictable mermaid princess fairy fashion designer seven-year-old. Multiple shades of pink - check!Glitterized accessories - check!Hearts, hearts, and more hearts - check!Superhero mask and cape - .... wait, what?  "I'm going to be a super hero for Halloween!" Gracie announced last week, and I'm not gonna lie - I was a bit on the stunned side. She's never been much of a super hero fan before (except Spiderman, when she was 4). "And I'm going to wear my polka dot underwear on the outside of my pants," she went on to say. Ah, now that makes sense. Gracie is all about the hilarious. She's a bit of a class clown, and her new favorite thing just happens to be graphic novels - graphic novels such as Babymouse, Queen of the World, and THE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS. But Gracie didn't want to be any old has-been-done-before super hero. Nope, this girl wanted her own identity.She's filled her notebook up with all sorts of girly superheros, like Super Ballerina and Lady Captain Stretch.And for herself? She's none other than... CAPTAIN HAPPYPANTS!We found the mask template at, and cut it out of glittery pink felt. The cape she made out of a minky dot baby blanket. The rest is a combo of pajamas, her favorite pants, and her polka dot undies.I'm not sure what Captain Happypants' super power is, other than the ability to crack me UP. But whatever it is, it's working for her. Also, I think I need to have a little The Dreamy Giraffe art print shopping spree. Gracie is a big fan of Kathy Jefford's big eyed girls... and hasn't even seen this girly superhero yet!  I think we need a new addition to her already pink bedroom. Girly Girls Superheroby Kathy Jeffordswww.thedreamygiraffe.etsy.comHope you're having a great week so far, folks!xoxo, [...]

Making Mr. Nilsson


Annelie acts a lot like the hilarious and rebellious red-pigtailed Swede, Miss Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Ephraim's Daughter Longstocking.She loved when we read the book together last spring, so it's no surprise that she wanted to make herself a shoulder-sitting Mr. Nilsson to go with the Pippi costume she can't wait to wear for Halloween this year. Also, I introduced her to my little friend.... Giving my kids glue gun privileges just might be the biggest mistake I've ever made - potentially worse than scissor privileges, which led to years of crazy-cut hair. I've already peeled quite a bit of melted glue off my floors. But I'm a glutton for punishment, raising two craft junkies. Some things can't be helped. Annelie raided my felt and fleece stash, and I helped her cut out a monkey shape to glue and stuff. I cut out the nose and eyes to her specifications, and helped a bit with the face-gluing... but she did the rest! I think they make the perfect duo. They even look alike. Happy Friday, folks! Hope you have a great weekend!xoxo, [...]

Annelie the All Star


I'm not gonna lie - I was VERY nervous about Annelie starting kindergarten. When it comes to temperament, she's an extreme version of myself, and by the time I was her age, I'd been in the principal's office more times than I could count - AND one of those times was to inform me that my 5-year-old bestie wasn't allowed to play with me anymore, because her mother thought I was too horrible and therefore a terrible influence on her daughter. Yep, I was very, very nervous about Annelie starting kindergarten. I expected to hear the phone ringing non-stop, with frantic calls from her teacher begging me to homeschool.When the first day of school came around and Annelie's (totally adorable and super sweet) teacher sent home a 3-page packet filled with All About Your Kid questions - words to describe kiddo, favorite things, as well as my favorite question: What would you like me to know about your child? - I was THRILLED.A chance to explain Annelie, before the teacher even got to know her?!!! It was a mother-of-a-very-smart-but-VERY-moody-and-often-problematic-child's dream. But... when it came to filling out the form, I decided to skip the disclaimer and let Annelie explain herself. Sure, I put in the words to describe her, as asked (vivacious, friendly, giving - because it's true - she is definitely all of these things). But when it came to Things To Know About Annelie, I left it at, "Avoid giving her red dye 40 as it can bring on potentially vicious mood swings."I bit my nails as I put the 3-page paper in Annelie's folder to take to school, wondering if I should have written more. I bit my nails worse when Annelie came home boasting about the red and orange M&Ms she ate at school.But 6 weeks of school passed and the only notes sent home were these:(the Get Well Soon note was delivered by Gracie, who had been called to Annelie's classroom to pick it up)And wouldn't you know it, my kiddo was one of the fifteen students (out of 600!!!) picked as an All Star - an example to the rest of the students at her school for having exemplary behavior, making good choices, and being a great friend to everyone. The reward - a lunchtime bus ride over to the pizza place and arcade, to celebrate with the other All Stars, and their parents.We had a great lunch. I'm so proud of my kiddo!Proud of BOTH my kiddos - as Gracie won this same award in her first six weeks of kindergarten, too - and has kept up her All Star awesome behavior ever since. I guess sometimes it takes letting them out of our eyesight in order to watch them bloom. xoxo, [...]

A Missing Tooth and a Fairy Fail


Annelie loves coming up with creative, if not torturous, methods of pulling out her teeth. Her first wiggly top tooth was no exception. It hung halfway out for a day before she decided enough was enough - she wanted it out, and she wanted it out by way of string-tied-to-tooth-and-door.Horrible, I know. Although, my grandma did this to me, once, when I was about Annelie's age (5), and though I can still remember the shock I felt as the tooth was pulled, it's overshadowed by my childish glee. I captured Annelie's tooth removal on film and am just as gleeful now as I was twenty-odd years ago. allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" frameborder="0" height="197" src="" width="350"> She couldn't wait to put her tooth under her pillow, and go to sleep, waking up to a pile of money. I was excited for her, too.Except... I went to bed and forgot one little thing. And when I woke her up yesterday morning and saw her stick her hand under her pillow to see how much the tooth fairy left her, my stomach fell as fast as her face.Oh man, she cried and cried and it was terrible. Will insisted that this happened to him once, too, but the tooth fairy doubled his money the next night and that was the best.  She sniffled and wiped her eyes and I stuck a sticker on each of her hands to help her feel better (stickers are amazing like that). But I felt awful. Boooooooo.Luckily I have some awesomely creative friends, such as Anne, from Luvaloo, and Craft Gossip, who said "I think there might have been a little girl who didn't believe in the tooth fairy, so she set a trap to catch her. The poor thing spent the whole night under an upturned glass jar."Oh, Anne, you are brilliant. However, last night, I was all set to sleep when Will said, "The Tooth Fairy gave Annelie some money, right?" WHOOPS.   My mom used to threaten to staple reminders to my forehead when I was a kid (jokingly), and I can understand why. Yay for Daddy, who saved the day!When I went to wake up my hard-to-wake child for school this morning, she was already up, coins in hand, squealing over her loot (which included the tooth, because the Tooth Fairy couldn't find it under her pillow)."YAY, and she even let me keep my tooth!" Annelie exclaimed, proudly displaying it on her shelf (ew).  Our tooth fairies always leave notes, and come with an assortment of names. It was Lola (one of Gracie's fairy visitors) who wrote last night's note, visiting all the way from England, where she was trapped by a horrid little girl, and saved by the playful cat, who broke the trap - such a hero. Lola apologized to Annelie, and gave her extra coins - including the pound coin she did NOT give to the horrid fairy-trapping girl, much to Annelie's delight.My secret drawer of random things contained a fairy-sized dollhouse craft, and Lola added it to the package, which Annelie loved even more than her handful of coins.Poor Gracie. She was so jealous - and now wishes Lola will pull a no-show on her some day. With me as a mom, it is very likely this will happen.xoxo, [...]

Chore O'Clock


I've been meaning to do this post for about 6 months, when I was asked to share how I do chore time in our family. So... a little belated, but here we go.I hate cleaning. Hate it. I didn't really do a lot of cleaning in my youth. No, seriously, this is what happened when little Marisa was told to go clean her room:(There are other photos in this collection.My 'cleaning' began on my bed, and thenI fell to the floor and the 'cleaning' continued)Well, I wasn't about to let my kids live their life without a heavy duty list of chores. Not so much because I want to instill a belief that this house is mine AND theirs to take care of, but because if I delegate all my least favorite chores, then my life is happier. The instilling a belief that this house is mine AND theirs to take care of is just a bonus.So, about a year ago, I gave each of my girls a job. Annelie's job was feeding the dogs, and Gracie's job was giving all the pets water. This job was done every single day. No exceptions. It went very well! (they also got to help me around the house when I told them to - with MUCH complaining on their part - but as for jobs, they just had one)A handful of months later, I called the kids for a family meeting, and congratulated and thanked them for their jobs well done. Then I gave them their very first Helping Hands charts, which were decorated with a pretty flower border and featured many shades of pink.(I chose to call it Helping Hands instead of CHORES, because my kids refused to cooperate when it was called chores. As soon as I called it Helping Hands, they were all for it. Why? Because they're strange)(also, decorating their chore charts and making it all pink and flowery totally made the difference in how they viewed their chores. And the free spaces are their most FAVORITE PART.)THE RULE: do the chores at 4 o'clock (which I call '4 o'clock, chore o'clock'). If the week's chores are done without complaining, the kids get $2. If they complain, they don't get anything and still have to do the chores. They love options and I thought these options were pretty fair.Well, these chore charts have lasted a whole 6 months and let me tell ya, my kids are SO GREAT at doing each one of these chores because they've had so much practice. They've also learned that if they do the chores fast, they get more playtime. If they do them fast but are too sloppy, they have to do them again.And I have gotten really good at making sure they do their jobs - even if it means writing 'kids do chores' on my daily to-do list so we don't all forget (this seems to be a necessary part of chore time)Today I made up new and improved lists, and added an extra free space because I gave them a heck of a lot more work than they had before (of course I didn't point this out to them, other than saying LOOK! I gave you an extra free space! to which they replied with enthusiastic YAY!!!s)Gracie flipped out over the fun text and Eiffel Towers. Honestly, it is THAT easy to get her excited about a Helping Hands chart.And that's that. My kids do their chores at chore o'clock, every day.And my life is much happier. UPDATE - I saw this post on Money Saving Mom: 20 Chore Ideas for 7-year-olds (and there is one for 4-year-olds, too) and it sounds a lot like how it's done at my house - much praise, assistance on certain chores (laundry, etc), and patience when it comes to kids meeting expectations. My kids have been folding laundry since they were four, and at first were so sloppy, but I repressed the compulsion to do it myself, and n[...]

The Greatest Girls' Night


Last night, Will went to a friend's house to watch golf, leaving the girls, me, a box of pepperoni pizza, and Hulu Plus, behind."Girls' Movie Night! Woo! Go pick a movie," I told Gracie as I dished up the pizza. She grabbed the Wii Sport disc and stuck it in the player. "That's a game. I said pick a movie," I had to remind her.Annelie stuck on the Wii people-making game after that, so I had to say, again, that they were supposed to be picking a MOVIE."Let's watch Eerie Indiana!" Gracie exclaimed. Best 90's show ever, but... "I said MOVIE." "America's Funniest Home Videos!" Annelie exclaimed.This was getting ridiculous. I was three seconds away from giving up on movie night, and wondered if the kids even knew what a movie was...."Pass me the remote - I'll pick," I said. So I did. I picked only the BEST MOVIE EVER CREATED.Yup, that's right. The 1968 Heidi. My most favorite movie when I was the girls' age. I can remember making paper dolls of the entire cast, which I played with non-stop - including a 3-D wheelchair for little Klara.This movie contains all the classic elements of the perfect, perfect story: orphaned little girl with braids who doesn't even know how to read, mean, reclusive Grandfather who doesn't even want her (but does know how to read!), baby goat on the verge of starvation, in need of a mother (Heidi!), a basket of orphaned kittens in need of a mother (Heidi!), going from poor to wearing fancy dresses with LACE, a sad crippled same-aged cousin in need of tough love and a best friend, and a forbidden romance between the beautiful governess and Uncle Richard.  Oh, and Maximilian Schell, ie, Uncle Richard?TOTAL HOTTIE (although back in 1986, child Marisa thought Heidi's friend Peter was way cuter).Let's just say I laughed and I cried, and the girls laughed, and then wondered why I was crying."It's just... it's just... the best movie EVER."I mean, how could I not get misty-eyed from all the dramatic character and plot changes?Especially not when there were misty eyes everywhere I looked.And the nostalgia, oh, the nostalgia! Listening to the girls whisper, "You be Klara and I'll be Heidi when we play, okay?" was just too great.I got especially teary when Gracie busted out the paper and crayons and asked me to make her a wheelchair for her little paper Klara, who, along with her best friend Heidi, is now on Gracie's bookshelf, proudly displayed  beside my childhood Victorian dolls and teddy bears (which Gracie dug out of a long forgotten moving box a few months ago, and claimed for herself)When it was done, Gracie said, "Wow, that was a really great movie. You know what I also want to see? Anne of Green Gables."!!!I'm not sure I can go there just yet. I'll need to thoroughly hydrate myself, because those eye-mists of nostalgia, and seeing my girls discover Miss Anne with an E, will drain me completely.Hope you're all having a fantastic weekend, folks! It's raining non-stop here, which means a movie marathon weekend is on the agenda. Can't complain about that!xoxo, [...]

Rotten Moods and Wicked Poetry


The other afternoon, Gracie was in a funky mood. Very restless, and she didn't want to do anything except roam around, picking on her sister because Annelie was having fun playing with who-knows-what and Gracie wasn't. Everything was boring. Everything.When she turned her funky mood on me, and found that annoying me was exactly the hilarious fun she was looking for, I was ready to scream.So I woo'd her with poetry.At first she didn't want to be woo'd. Gracie is a stubborn thing most days, always resistant to whatever cool thing her totally uncool mom and dad suggest. She said poems were boring."Then please stop annoying me," I said. "I'm going to read this book of poems I got from the library." I pulled the book Wicked Poems off the shelf beside me and opened it up. "I'm going to read 'Matilda Who told Lies, and was Burned to Death,' by Hilaire Belloc." Gracie tried to feign boredom, but wasn't even close to successful, so I busted out my dramatic reading voice and went to town on the clever and amusing poem."I'm going outside, so you can stop reading to me," Gracie informed me when I was a handful of lines in. "Poetry is meant to be read aloud. I'm not reading for you, I'm reading for me," I said, and continued on.She stayed for the whole thing, and then another, which happened to be:I'm in a rotten mood today,a really rotten mood today,I'm feeling cross,I'm feeling mean,I'm jumpy as a jumping bean,I have an awful attitude-I'M IN A ROTTEN MOOD!I'm in a rotten mood today,a really rotten mood today,I'm in a snit,I'm in a stew,there's nothing that I care to dobut sit all by myself and brood-I'M IN A ROTTEN MOOD!I'm in a rotten mood today,a really rotten mood today,you' better stay away from me,I'm just a lump of misery,I'm feeling absolutely rude-I'M IN A ROTTEN MOOD!~ Jack Prelutsky, "I'm in a Rotten Mood"Of course I shouted the all-caps parts at her, because shouting poetry is undeniably awesome. Gracie's funky mood was fixed, and we've since read a whole bunch of this fun collection of poems. My personal favorite is "Macavity: the Mystery Cat," and Gracie's fave appears to be Macbeth 's "Witch's Chant" so far. But our book is not done yet, which she's excited about. She's found her new favorite book to be read at bedtime. How about you, folks? Read any good books lately?xoxo, [...]

Illustration Friday - Imagination


Annelie and I worked on this week's Illustration Friday art prompt together. We decided on mixed media collages, and as we were coloring and gluing and listening to Two Door Cinema Club's new album she grinned at me and said, "I'm going to make art with you EVERYDAY."Well, how can I argue with that?My collage is of my imaginative five-year-old, who decided she wanted a Parisian circus theme to her bedroom. I figured a circus of the imagination is way more fun than elephants, tigers, and bears, oh my... and an imaginary juggling squirrel on a unicycle is exactly the sort of circus act I'd like to see (since the animal rights lover in me can't handle the idea of glorifying the real circus - unless it's the Cirque Du Soleil animal-free kind).More pieces to come! A Parisian hedgie, just like our little French buddy, will definitely make an appearance. Annelie was thrilled when I promised her I'd post her collage on the Illustration Friday website for everyone to admire. It's a princess imagining she's a mermaid. by Annelie age 5I just love the random Victorian girl floating in the wall. And the mermaid swimming through her thought bubble sea. And the multicolored princess. And Annelie's artist signature! Yes, there will be much more art in our future. Hope you're all having a fabulous week, folks! xoxo, [...]

Illustration Friday - Identical


Oh no she di'int show up at the Wharton's ball wearing the exact same live French Toulouse fascinator!

(oh yes she did!)

Yeah, I had fun with this sketch. I don't really get the whole fascinator thing. I mean, I liked them at first, but they seemed to get SILLIER AND SILLIER. Millions upon millions of feathers sticking out every which way, until it really did look like girls everywhere (and by everywhere I mostly mean the UK) were wearing entire geese/pheasants/colorful chickens on their heads.

I've been wanting to get back into Illustration Friday for ages - I miss drawing so much! This was a fun break into art again.

Happy it's almost the weekend, folks!