A year ago, my 4-year-old daughter, Allie, was obsessed with trains.
Now, she clomps around the house in plastic high heels every day, usually wearing a satiny pink skirt and matching top, white gloves and a tiny pink hair clip stuck arbitrarily on top of her head.
Sometimes, she also has wings, a tiara or any number of other accessories, including a purple feather boa, a sparkly handbag and a silver wand.
She calls her father Prince Charming, likes to pretend I'm her servant and is perpetually en route to The Ball.
Fortunately for my sister Katie, Allie entered The Princess Phase just in time to be a flower girl. Last weekend, at a snowy wedding in Cleveland, Allie realized her princess dreams "" and carried on a family tradition that's a bit magical itself.
With nobody planning it, life has worked out so that each of my two sisters got married at the time when one of my two daughters was the perfect age to be a flower girl.
Before the wedding, I asked Allie if she knew what getting married meant. Without hesitation, she said: "You kiss the prince, and then you dance."
Sometimes I don't quite see how princesses fit into Allie's worldview.
We were watching "Frosty the Snowman" the other night. Right from the start, Allie was skeptical about a talking snowman. "It's supposed to have three, not two," she said, referring to the balls of snow making up the head and body. "And he doesn't have a carrot nose or a scarf, so he isn't a real snowman."
Later, we got to the scene that still makes my eyes a little misty: Desperate to get his magic top hat back, the evil magician has just trapped Frosty in a greenhouse. Santa arrives on the scene, only to find Frosty's friend Karen sobbing next to a black hat lying in a puddle on the greenhouse floor.