Dress Me Up Barbie

I spend about a month planning my kids’ birthday parties. It’s always quite an event at our house! I love having the parties but I get stressed out working out all the details between the cake, food, games and loot bags. I feel like we’ve played every game ever known in childhood history so coming up with something new is always a brainstorm marathon. This year when I was planning my daughter, Iris’s, 7th birthday party she requested, “Pin the Tiara on Barbie.” Her party theme was Barbie but the previous year was a Princess and Pirate theme and we had, “Pin the Crown on the Princess and Eye Patch on the Pirate.” I think every birthday we have had, we have pinned “something on to something” so I felt her suggestion was a bit redundant but it gave me an idea…I made “Dress-Up Barbie.”

For this, I simply bought a piece of poster board and drew a Barbie on it. I painted a Barbie with a swimsuit on and then drew some clothes and accessories for her. My daughter cut out and colored all the clothes for me. Each child at the party was blindfolded and assigned a different article of clothing or accessory to attach to Barbie. It was a fun game and the biggest bonus of all…Iris has been able to continue playing with it and making new clothes for her as well!

I can’t wait to find out what we’re going to be pinning to next year!


Dress Me Up Barbie


After the girls put the clothes on!


Princess and Pirate game from last year


Monster Pooping Jelly Beans

When I was a little girl, my grandma Freda would write me letters stating that, “she needed more artwork for her cupboards.” In my mind, I imagined Grandma in a frantic desperation wondering what she could put on the bare spot. Apparently, my other cousins had been slacking on their artwork as well, and it was all up to me to put Grandma at ease. I would set to work, drawing and coloring. When I would get my picture done, my Mom would put it in the mail for me.

At our next visit to Grandma Freda and Grandpa Dale’s house, there it would be…my picture hanging on the kitchen cupboards along with about a dozen others and my cousin’s artwork as well! My grandparents lived in a 100 year old farmhouse that was filled with interesting artifacts and knickknacks. I felt proud that my artwork was featured among it all.


Bency’s framed “Cat” painting



Iris’s painting she did when she was 2 years old

As an adult, I absolutely love children’s artwork and I have not forgotten how Grandma Freda’s “gallery” made me feel about my own creations. I have instituted my own “gallery” in my own house and framed several pieces to display around the house as well.

I wasn’t sure if the gallery had an impact on my own kids until a day of rearranging and putting up new. My son asked why I took his “Monster Pooping Jelly Beans” picture down. I explained I’m always changing it to make room for all the new pictures and that I have all his artwork scanned into the computer and I proudly display it on the digital photo frame in our living room. He still looked like I had stabbed him in the heart until he noticed I had replaced it with “Baby With Chicken Pox in a Cage.” He also felt better when he saw I had taken down Iris’s magazine collage of “Bras” that she did when she was 4 and updated it with her recent picture of a unicorn.



Our “Art Gallery”



I won a few art contests in elementary school but nothing compared to being featured on Grandma’s farmhouse cupboards. Thanks to her “frantic desperation” for my art she always kept me drawing. I will continue to portray to my children that I am “frantically desperate” for their artwork as well!



Bency painting




The Teacher Who Did a Cartwheel

This past year our oldest child, Iris, attended 1st grade. Kindergarten had been amazing for her. She had dreams of staying in Kindergarten and having her same teacher forever! Part of me (mostly all) wanted her to stay too. It was a great class filled with the most adorable children, the cutest activities and a terrific teacher!

When she started 1st grade, she was nervous and scared. She thought nothing could “top” Kindergarten and she had heard rumors 1st grade was tough! The first week, she talked incessantly about her previous teacher. She was excited when she caught glimpses of her in the hallway or if she waved at her from across the cafeteria. She wrote notes to her and had her 1st grade teacher pass them on.

After one week, this all changed. She became enamored with her new teacher and 1st grade in general! As the year went on, her teacher became very special to her… almost like a second mother.  Before Kindergarten, I had spent nearly every minute with Iris, experienced all her experiences right along with her and almost everything she knew, I had taught her. Having her away from me was hard but knowing she was in such good hands was a comfort.

Iris learned so much in school this year and most importantly she gained confidence. I credit this to her teacher. Her teacher went above and beyond any teacher I ever had. She was sweet, kind, funny and still maintained respect from her students. She did cartwheels. She had “lunch with the teacher” days, where she would pick a child and they could pick a friend and the three of them would have lunch together in the classroom (these were Iris’s favorite days!). She gave hugs. She stopped to watch Iris learning to ride her bike one day after school. She was driving past when she noticed us at a parking lot practicing (this meant the world to Iris). She wrote back to all the notes Iris wrote her.  And I mentioned, SHE DID CARTWHEELS, right? She promised she would do a cartwheel if her whole class got their spelling test correct and they did! I can honestly say, I don’t think I had a teacher who could have done a cartwheel if she wanted to!

Teachers are amazing creatures and we were lucky to have one of the best!


A painting I did for Iris’s teacher. It was from a photo I took when I was there helping out.


Good Children Wear Hats

I have an uncanny love for hats! However, I can not “pull” off a hat. I do have a large collection of women’s vintage hats from the 40’s and 50’s that makes me dream about the stories of the women who wore them.

Iris, our 7 year old used to wear hats all of the time. Nana made her gorgeous hats. In the past year, Iris’s love of hats has waned and now you can only see her wearing a tiara during dress-up or to the grocery store last week.


A painting I did of Iris when she was 4 years old in 2009

Cesar, our almost 2 year old hates hats. Even during the winter months with my threat of, “You better wear this hat or your ears will freeze and fall off,” did nothing to motivate him to keep them on.


A painting of Cesar I did of the last time he wore a hat in 2011

Now Bency, the 5 year old LOVES hats! He does not wear them for a purpose or because I make him; he just genuinely loves them. He wears them 24 hours a day…even when he sleeps.

His collection of hats include a captain’s hat, a Daniel Boone raccoon tail, a derby hat (man size), a Pittsburgh Steelers winter hat and many more.

This spring I picked up an equestrian riding hat at a garage sale for 25 cents. I thought it would make a cool decoration. Bency immediately claimed it as his and began wearing it all the time…even when he slept. Now, if you’ve never seen an equestrian riding hat, these things are HEAVY! They are lined on the inside and velvet on the outside. Bency wore this hat everywhere…the park, grocery store, library and restaurants. As the spring weather got warmer you could see Bency wearing this hat with beads of sweat dripping down his face and his hair was completely wet. I told him it was time to put the “horse hat” away and get something more appropriate for summer.


A painting I did last night of Bency wearing his equestrian riding helmet

Bency began wearing the 1980’s bike racing hat the elderly neighbor lady gave him for Christmas. It is made of light material, has a brim to keep the sun out and according to Bency very comfortable to sleep in.

There’s something about a child wearing a hat that makes it hard to scold them. It evokes innocence, magic and a reminder that they have not hit the age where they think “they can’t pull off a hat.”

Cesar is about to enter that age where kids get sassy, selfish and think they rule the world. I wish I could convince him that if he just wore a hat it would save him a lot of “corner time” and “time outs.”