A version of this piece was published in Brain Child last year. Ten To Twenty Parenting has republished it on their blog. Some things change over time…my feelings towards this summer assignment has not.
Watching Princess Kate on the “telly” with her impeccable manners, fantastic clothes, and her jet setting life style it’s hard for a girl not to think, wouldn’t it be grand to be a princess? Always perfect, always poised and pretty, but… what if you just aren’t that type of girl? What if you prefer messy spaghetti to neat finger sandwiches; and overalls to long gowns? Can you still be a princess?
I have two wonderful daughters. Two daughters, two girls, two VERY different people.
When my oldest daughter was little she was a princess loving freak! She wore dresses and tutus and loved anything that glimmered and shined. She watched Ariel and Jasmine and Belle over and over; beautiful (and overly priced) dolls littered the hallways and stairs of our home and she dreamed of one day actually living in her own giant, pink, plastic, elevator-equipped Barbie Dream house.
My younger girl…not so much. Most days it’s all I can do to get a brush through her hair, and she barely made it through one year of ballet class. This little girl spends much of her time being a Ninja warrior, and for her birthday this year she wants Legos (not the pink ones), an extra large plastic container of orange cheese puffs, and karate lessons (God help us).
It takes all kinds of girls, and thank goodness for that.
So for my two girls, and for the millions of girls in this world, those that are quiet and those that are loud, those that are graceful and those that are not, those that dream of being princesses and those that already are, I wrote this little rhyming picture book.
Some princesses wear high heels, shiny and new.
Some princesses wear flip-flops, or red running shoes.
Some princesses walk slowly, their heads held up high,
Some princesses like to skip, leap and soar to the sky!
Some princesses’ attend grand balls and waltz all about.
Some princesses rock the drums and totally jam out!
Some princesses play croquet, gently tapping the ball.
Some princesses play baseball, hitting one up, Up, UP…
and over the wall!
Some princesses eat sandwiches, with the crusts all cut off.
Some princesses crave tacos, or spaghetti with sauce.
Some princesses watch their manners and try not to slurp,
(but all princesses pass gas and ocasionally burp).
Some princesses’ dress in long gowns covered in jewels.
Some princesses wear overalls, with pockets for tools.
Some princesses have hair that’s always shiny and neat.
Some princesses have hair that just FREAKS out in the heat!
Some princesses make a mess, and have maids put it all away on a shelf.
Some princesses have moms that say, “Princess, go clean that mess up, YOURSELF.”
Some princesses have brown skin, some freckly, some fair.
Some princesses wear eyeglasses, some use a wheel chair.
Some princesses may be quiet, while some are quite bold,
but all girls are princesses, with hearts spun from gold.
No matter who they are or what they like to do;
ALL girls are princesses, especially,
Anne Sawan 2014
So we are all into March madness over here, both the basketball kind and the kind brought on by prolonged winter cabin fever. Lucky for me, Susanna Leonard Hill is sponsoring a March Madness writing contest to help alleviate some of the boredom and restlessness that has settled into my brain. This one requires a 400 word max fractured Fairy Tale. It’s all just for fun (and a few great prizes) so give it a try, you just might get hooked!
Inspired by almost-true events:
Go outside Three Little Pigs!!
Once upon a time there were three little pigs.
Three little, lazy pigs that just sat around all day and did nothing but play video games.
Until, one sunny day when Mama Pig decided she couldn’t take it anymore.
“That’s it!” She said, pointing to the door. “I have had enough! Go. Out. SIDE!”
“What?” said the First Pig.
“You want us to go out… there?” said the Second Pig.
“But, there’s never anything to do outside.” complained the Third Pig.
Mama Pig threw open the door.
“Have an adventure! Use your imagination! Just go outside, NOW!”
So the three miserable, lazy pigs went outside.
“It’s sooo hot out here,” moaned the First Pig.
“I’m sooo bored,” whined the Second
“I miss my video games,” cried the Third.
A dark shadow crept slowly along the fence.
“Little pig, little pigs, let me in,” whispered a deep, gravely voice.
“The wolf! Mom! Mom!” The three pigs banged on the door.
“Go away,” said Mama Pig from inside the house.
The three pigs stared at one another.
“Quick!” said Pig Number One. “To the straw pile!”
The three pigs ran across the lawn and burrowed their way into the middle of the straw.
“Ha!” laughed the Wolf. “Do you really think that measly house made of hay is going to keep me away? I am going to huff and puff…”
The three pigs dug as fast as they could through the back of the straw pile.
“To the tree house!” yelled the Second Pig.
The three pigs clambered up the ladder to the tree house and slammed the door shut.
A branch snapped, and then another, and another.
Suddenly through the wall came the wolf’s furry head, his red, beady eyes and his pointed teeth.
“Really, a house made of sticks?” He snarled.
The three pigs quickly threw themselves out of the treehouse, landing one by one with a thud on the dirt below.
“Over there! Behind that brick wall!” yelled Pig Number Three.
The three pigs scampered behind the wall but they knew it was no use;
sharp claws soon crept over the rocks…
“Help! We’re doomed!” They cried.
“Pigs! Oh, Pigs, time for din-ner!” Yelled Mama Pig.
“Awww, already?” said Pig Number One.
“That was way more fun that video games!” Said Pig Number Two
“Sure was.” Said Pig Number Three. “See you tomorrow Wolf?
“See you tomorrow Pigs.”
I am in a really bad mood today. Don’t know why, maybe its the never-ending pile of snow outside my front door. Maybe it’s because the door on my car was frozen shut when I went to drive the kids to school. Maybe it’s because I had zero gas in my car once I finally opened the car door and then had to stand out in the snow and wind and freezing rain to fill my tank. Whatever the reason, I am not in a good mood. So on the advice of my sister I am headed to HomeGoods to buy something with a starfish on it and then I am going to bake a cake. A chocolate cake. In the meantime here is a little story I wrote about a girl who woke up in a bad mood, and the help she gets from her brother to turn it around, because sometimes all it takes is a little, fun, child-like magic…(and sometimes it takes HomeGoods and chocolate cake)
Eliza woke up on the wrong side of the bed,
her hair all askew, her eyes seeing red.
She didn’t know why but she felt angry and mad;
her insides felt twisted, and crinkly and bad!
Her head was all groggy, her lungs full of steam;
she wanted to shout, she wanted to scream!
She put on her shoes and downstairs she clomped,
Each step getting louder: stomp,
“Hello!” Called her brother,“ What’s that? Whose out there?
Is a there a dinosaur in the house? A monster? A bear?”
“No, Harry, it’s me,” Eliza said with a growl.
“I woke up feeling grumpy, my mood is just foul.
I don’t want to laugh or smile or play.
I just feel like yelling, so stay out of my way!
I am furious, irate, annoyed and quite fuming.
I feel like a beast, like something not human!”
“A beast!” Harry said. “Well, I can fix that!
Quick, bring me my wand, my cape and my hat!
I will drive out that fiend! I will shatter that curse!
I will make you a potion before it gets worse.”
“Now, let’s see…
First, I will need the dog’s chew bone, then some old bubble gum,
three hairs from a hairbrush and an earring from Mum.
A sock that is smelly, a Band-Aid that’s new,
a crayon that’s green and dad’s left running shoe.
Some Halloween treats, an old boiled egg,
a button from your sweater, a scab from your leg,
some bologna that’s slimy, an elephant with wings,
three rotten apples and a dolly that sings.”
Eliza reached under sofas and reached under chairs,
she peered into closets, and ran up and down stairs.
She pulled back the curtains and opened the drawers,
she climbed into the bathtub and searched behind doors.
She gathered it all, the old and the new,
the smelly, the gross, the slimy, the chewed.
“Let’s go!” Harry said, throwing open the door.
“Outside! We aren’t done, there is still a lot more!
We must search all around and find all that we need,
like that slippery worm! Quick! Over there, by that weed!
Next a butterfly, then some flowers: both yellow and red,
a grasshopper and a rock from under the shed.
Wild goose feathers, and a jumping bull frog,
a nut and a twig and some moss from that log.”
So, Eliza ran and jumped and climbed into the trees,
she crept through the bushes on her hands and her knees.
She gathered it all up and put it into a pail.
“And lastly,“ said Harry, “one teeny-weeny snail.”
Eliza searched and searched until at last she found one.
“There!” She said, “Is that it? At last, are we done?”
“Almost,” said her brother, slowly stirring his brew.
“But there is just one more small thing I still need you to do.
You must jump! Dance! Leap! And sing out a song!
And when you are done, that beast will be gone.”
Eliza growled and groused, but did as he said,
singing sort-of-a song and barely nodding her head.
She gave one leg a slow shake and the other a jiggle,
she wiggled her backside and then… she started to giggle.
Eliza’s eyes grew round, her mouth opened wide.
“Harry,” she whispered. “I feel different inside.
I am no longer crabby, or mean, or a beast!
I feel silly, elated and not mad in the least!
All gone are my monsters, my meanies, my pout,
I just feel like singing and dancing about!
I feel crazy and happy! I’m Eliza! I’m me!
Oh, thank you! You did it! You set my fun free!”
“You’re welcome,” said Harry, with a wink and a bow.
“My magic always works and I’ll tell you how.
First you conjure up some sillies, then stir in some fun,
give a hip and a hop and… ABRACADABRA! It’s done!
Because no beast can survive, no grumpies will stay,
if you just let a little Harry-magic into your day.”
2012! Wow! How did that happen? Weren’t we all supposed to die about a million times already from some sort of apocalyptic disaster? I think there is one happening this year as well. So this might just be it, the real end. Better go live your dreams, make your wishes come true; eat that chocolate cake before we all explode into a million microbes.
I had a great 2011. I felt like I made some strides in my writing, and want to thank you all very every much for your votes in the various contests I entered. I truly appreciated all the support and encouragement.
These writing contests remind me of the races I subject myself to every few months. I run and run and run, maybe limping a bit a long the way, then come home proudly clutching the medal that shows I did in fact pay the entry fee for the race and my kids jump around, asking, “So, did you win?” To which I inevitably reply something like, “No, but I was the 200th runner over the line!” They stare at me, sadly shaking their heads and place a sympathetic hand on my shoulder saying, “That’s okay Mom.” Or, more likely, “Wow, you stink.”
Look, I know going into these races I am not going to win but I love them. I am hooked. They challenge me, give me something to put my energy into and inspire me. I see the true athletes out there and I am in awe. These people are good! They train year round, living and breathing this stuff. Me…not so much. In many ways these races are a lot like the writing contests. They provide me with a goal, urging me on, daring me to learn from my mistakes and to strive to become perhaps a just a little bit better. Afterwards when I read over my material, see my glaring errors and then read other peoples entries and see their genius I think: That’s it! I am done, no more writing for me… then I get just a sliver of good news. Just enough to keep me going…like two great things that happened this past week.
One, I received news from Adoptive Families Magazine that my book, The Very Best Day, was the most read printable article of 2011. That felt great! (Not exactly sure what it means. Aren’t they all printable? But hey, take what you can!) Now I just need a publisher…
And, two, my book A is for Adoption was published last week in the January 2012 issue of Adoption Today. So all and all, a good end to 2011 and off to a running start in 2012.
I am placing a link to Adoption Today below, but I know some people have had trouble accessing it, so I will include a copy of A is for Adoption as well.
Now here is a quick disclaimer about the book. The book is narrated by a girl named Anna, which some people, including my own children, found a bit confusing given the makeup of my family (my oldest is named Anna).
Teddy: “Wait! Anna is adopted too?”
“No, Anna is not adopted. Eliza is adopted.”
Harry: “You never told us Anna is adopted!”
“Because she’s not.”
Teddy: “Am I adopted too?”
Eliza (crying) “Wahh! I want to be adopted like Anna.
“You ARE adopted. Anna is NOT Adopted.”
Teddy: “Are you sure I’m not adopted?”
I hope you all have a good, healthy, and happy New Year.
A Is For Adoption
A is for Anna, that’s me! What’s you name? When you see the first letter of your name in this book shout it out! A is also for adoption. I’m adopted, are you? Adopted means your birth parents couldn’t care for you and your parents really, really wanted you so they made you a part of their family, forever. Some people are adopted when they are babies and some when they are older. Some kids are in foster care first, and some aren’t. How were you adopted? What’s your story?
B is for birthday. I have a birthday party every year to celebrate the day I was born. This year I want a chocolate cake with rainbow sprinkles and a HUGE piñata. B is also for birth parents, the man and woman that made you but couldn’t raise you. B is also for brother. I have three. They like to wrestle, look for worms and play baseball. Sometimes they let me play with them, sometimes they don’t. Do you have any brothers? Do they live with you? Do they look for worms?
C is for cookie. Everyone knows that! C is also for caseworker, some people call them adoption workers or social workers. A caseworker is the person who watches over kids before they are adopted and makes sure they get to the right family.
D is for Daddy. I love my dad. He takes me on bike rides, and buys me ice cream. I also have a birth dad. I never met mine. Do you have a dad? What do you guys like to do together? Do you know your birth dad?
E is for eternity. Eternity means forever and ever, which is how long I am going to be a part of my family.
F is for Family. My family has a mom and a dad and three brothers and a sister and two dogs and a turtle and some fish. My friend Lizzy has two dads, one brother and a cat and Jay has a grandma and that’s it. All families are different. What is your family like?
G is for Gecko, which are the only lizards that make noise. They live where is it warm. They have nothing to do with adoption, unless… are you from a warm place? Did they have geckos there? I hope I get one for my birthday. That would be cool!
H is for Happiness. Happiness is love, fun, friends and families…. oh, and Disney World, of course!
I is for I love you. That’s it.
J is for jumping, juggling and jogging. J is a fun letter! J is also for Judge. A judge needs to say it is okay for your parents to adopt you. I had to go with my family to a judge when I was a baby. I saw a picture of us all in our dress up clothes. The judge wore a black robe and was holding this hammer thing called a gavel. Everyone was smiling. Some kids go to the court when they are older. Do you remember going to see the judge?
K is for knowledge. That’s a big word that means to know or learn stuff, like who you are, where you are from, what your adoption story is.
L is for life and learning and love. My birth mom and birth dad gave me life, so I could breathe and eat and swim and run, so they are really special. Learning is important because you need to learn about who you are, where you came from, and then there is learning in school like how to read and do math. Love is the best. I love my mom and my dad and my brothers and sisters and friends and pets and teachers and cousins and grandparents and…whew! That’s a lot of love!
M is for Mom. I love my mom; she plays with me and likes to read to me. What do you like to do with your mom? I know there is another person out there who is my birth mom, but I didn’t know her. I am glad she had me though, or I wouldn’t be here! Do you know your birth mom?
N is for Naked mole rats. They are small rodents who live in underground colonies in Africa. They have large teeth that stick out that they use to dig. They have very little hair and have wrinkled pink or yellowish skin. They are really funny looking and have absolutely nothing to do with adoption, unless…are you from Africa? Maybe you have seen one?
O is for open. Open means you can talk about anything and not be scared or embarrassed to ask questions about adoption. Your parents might not always know the answer, but they will try to figure it out for you. Open also means something you forgot to shut, like the refrigerator door and then your mom will yell, “Who left the door open!”
P is for parents. I have two, a mom and a dad. How about you? Parents get to make the rules like say what you can eat and where you can go, and tell you to do your homework, and stuff like that.
Q is questions. I have a lot! Like who were my birth parents? Why couldn’t they keep me? What did they look like? Where are they now? Why did the dinosaurs become extinct? How do fireflies light up like that? Do you have questions?
R is for rainbow. Rainbows are cool and have so many different colors, just like people. Some families look like rainbows because there can be all kinds of colors in one family: brown hair, red hair, blue eyes, green eyes, brown skin, tan skin, light skin with freckles. If you line up your family maybe you can make your own people rainbow.
S is for super, stupendous and special! I am all those things, super, stupendous and special, oh and my mom says I am silly. S is also for sister. I have one older sister. She likes to play softball, swim and shop for clothes. Do you have any sisters? Mine is awesome, even though she doesn’t like me touching her stuff.
T is for together. Adoption is about being together as a family.
U is for Ultrasaurus which was a huge, long-necked dinosaur. Their bones have been discovered in both South Korea and the United States. They don’t really have anything to do with adoption either, well unless you are maybe from South Korea or the United States. Are you? Wouldn’t you love to ride on an Ultrasaurus!
V is for valuable. Valuable means something that is desired or wished for or important. My parents say all kids are valuable.
W is for wish. My parents had a wish and it was me! I have a wish, to go to Africa and see a naked mole rat in action.
X is for Xenops, which are birds that live in South America and again have nothing to do with adoption, unless you are from South America, then, I suppose it could have to do with your adoption story. Are you from South America?
Y is for yes! Yes I am adopted! Yes I love my family! Yes I am valuable! Yes I was wished for! Yes I have questions! Yes I want to see a naked mole rat!
Z is for zillion. I have a zillion more places to go, things to do and questions to ask. Oh, yes, and I love my family a zillion times through.
Anne Cavanaugh-Sawan, 2012
How many times have you said to your kids, “Five more minutes, then we are going!” We all give our kids these inane warnings, all the time. Listen next time you are at the park,or a store, or a party and you can hear parents all around you warning their offspring, “Five more minutes!” Really, I think we are probably warning ourselves, and the other adults around us, with a polite “I am outta here.” But then we run into an old friend, or start a conversation with new friends, settle down with just one more glass of wine and soon five minutes turns into 6, and then into 60. How are our kids ever going to learn the concept of time ? Here is a short story I wrote about this after I caught myself giving my kids their 100th warning that it was time to leave. Enjoy!
Five More Minutes!
“Kids! Five more minutes! We have to go!” Mom called downstairs.
Five minutes! Awww, what can we do in five minutes?
So… we had a fast, funky dance party,
and a lovely, little tea party ,
and a cool costume party with sparkly hats,
colorful feather boas,
and scary face masks.
“Children, five more minutes!” Hollered Dad
So… we had silly potato sack races,
and tricky wheelbarrow races,
and a championship three-legged race.
“Hey Cuties, five more minutes!” Yelled Aunt Sue.
So… we watched a whole scary movie with the lights off,
and played crazy charades,
and finished an entire game of Monopoly.
“Yo, guys and gals! FIVE-MORE –MINUTES!” Bellowed Uncle Dave.
So… we played nine innings of baseball,
and nine innings of kickball and…
nine rounds of dodge ball…
“Oh, Sweeties, just five more minutes!” Sang out Grandma.
So… we made delicious cupcakes with pink and chocolate frosting,
and ice cream sundaes with whipped cream and rainbow sprinkles,
and had a very successful, neighborhood lemonade stand.
“Calling all you mad monkeys! Five more minutes!” Said Granddad.
So… we made a time machine from some nails, and sheets and
old wood we found in the back yard,
painted it all red and black,
and went back in time to slay a fierce, fire-breathing dragon.
“Come on! Five minutes are up! Time to go!” said Mom.
“But we aren’t done yet!”
“Okay, okay, five more minutes!”
“Awww, but what can we do in just five minutes?”
Anne Cavanaugh-Sawan, 2011.