— Dawn Dillard is a proud East Texas gal who loves all things southern especially cooking, music and family. She can be reached via email at

“What are little girls made of? What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice and all things nice. That’s what little girls are made of.”

I remember this nursery rhyme from when I was little, and for the most part, it is quite accurate.

Today, March 18th, is my “little girl’s” 36th birthday. Where has the time gone? I decided that I would write a column about my daughter and I promise you that every word I write is fact and not the braggadocios rambling on of a mother.

Let me start with her name...Fancy! Now, let me answer the questions that have been asked through the years. Yes, that’s her real name; No, she was not named after the Reba McEntire song, although her name did come from a song by the Oak Ridge Boys- “Settin’ Fancy Free.” (You should give it a listen some time.)

Fancy grew up wearing Martha Minature dresses every Sunday and oh, how she loved to look pretty. She would sit on the front row of Mulberry Springs Baptist Church and fluff her dress out and cross her hands in her lap...when she was 2. She loved sleeping in sponge rollers on Saturday night so that her hair would be all curly for church the next morning. Even then, she had her own flair for fashion.

Fancy was never a complainer. She attended more baseball practices/games than any little sister should have to endure (Deke, you should thank your sister some time) and she spent her time at home keeping her little brother, Ryker, out of trouble. (Ryker, you should thank your sister some time). She was always a natural little “mother”, whether it be with her baby dolls or her younger brother. She grew up singing, took piano lessons, showed pigs, rabbits and lambs, was on LDE and CDE judging teams in FFA, was in the State FFA and National FFA Chorus, actively involved in our church youth group, did mission trips...this is starting to sound like an obituary, huh? LOL!

Fancy left home at 18 to go to Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia. One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do is say goodbye to my baby girl and walk out the dorm room door, knowing that we were going to be separated by 17 hours of distance. I held it together until I got in the car and then...cue the “mom” meltdown.

How was she already 18 and ready to face the world on her own? Oh, I know, she wasn’t on her own. We talked almost daily and she threw herself in to the college experience and had the time of her life but still, she was my baby girl!

Let me give you a look in to Fancy’s life today. She and Steven (the love of her life she met while at Liberty) and their two kids, Asher and Teegan, are active in their church. Fancy cooks supper several times a week (yes, she cooks!) She is a full time music teacher; she and Steven lead a small group for young married couples; she is a friend who takes casseroles over when someone is sick or just had a new baby or whatever the case may be. Fancy hosts baby showers in her home, wedding showers, birthday parties. She is wise beyond her years and influences lives every single day.

She has her own unique sense of fashion; is edgy and funky yet grounded and conventional. Fancy is always busy doing something (usually for others) yet always finds time to read a story with her kids, go to basketball games to watch her babies play and always has time to answer the phone when her mom needs to know “does this vest goes with this dress and what jewelry should I wear?”

I never wanted to be Fancy’s “friend” when she was growing up. What? How can you say that, Dawn? She had lots of friends but I was her only mom! What an amazing blessing! Moms, let me preach for a moment: don’t try to be your kids “friend” or “BFF”; be their mom. You may not get in on all the “friend” type activities, but you get the honored privilege of being their mom!

One of my favorite Broadway shows is “Wicked!” One of the iconic songs from that musical kind of puts my feelings about my sweet daughter in to perspective.

“I’ve heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason, bringing something we must learn. And we are led to those who help us most to grow- if we let them, and we help them in return. Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true but I know I’m who I am today because I knew you and...Because I knew (know) you, I have been changed for good.”

Happy Birthday, Doodle! I love you!

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— Dawn Dillard is a proud East Texas gal who loves all things southern especially cooking, music and family. She can be reached via email at