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Family gets up to speed on girl things

What are little boys made of?

What are little boys made of?

Slugs and snails

And puppy dogs' tails,

That's what little boys are made of.

What are little girls made of?

What are little girls made of?

Sugar and spice

And everything nice,

That's what little girls are made of.

- Early 18th century nursery rhyme

Over the past 14 years, I've learned a thing or two about slugs and snails and puppy dog tails, the things little boys are made of.

Having raised two of them, I've mended my share of scrapes, dug rocks out of pants pockets before laundry, refereed my share of tussles, and, on numerous occasions, stopped my oldest son from feeding his younger brother an appetizer that would have involved bugs or an amphibious animal of some kind.

What I haven't learned so much about is the sugar and spice and everything nice referred to in the famous nursery rhyme, "What are little boys made of?"

Actually, more accurately, if the nursery rhyme were written today, the things I haven't learned about were Barbie dolls, Polly Pockets, Strawberry Shortcake or Disney princesses.

Nor did I know a heck of a lot about dresses, purses, high heels, lip gloss, toenail polish and glitter.

Never previously did the Bug bat his baby blues at me and beg "pretty please" to paint my toenails.

Nor did Garrett beg me to sit down with him and listen to Justin Bieber's latest hit.

And pink! Don't even get me started about the color pink, which has infused itself into my life in ways I could never have imagined.

Until now.

For some months, the boys and I have been taking a crash in all things little girl.

And, yes, for the record, I did spend a week this summer with painted toe-nails, which drew a number of surprised expressions considering it was sandal season.

And the Bug has watched his share of Strawberry Shortcake videos.

And Garrett has gotten to know more about the Bieber than he'd probably care to admit.

And all of this is thanks to Shelley and her two daughters, Ava and Siri - three of the sweetest, cutest and most adorable girls you'll ever meet - entering our lives and forever altering our bachelorhood.

Friends have been unable to stop themselves from the unavoidable comparisons to The Brady Bunch. And who could blame them: After all, it's a good TV script: Dad with two scrappy boys falls in love with Shelley, the intelligent, elegant and pretty single mom with two daisies for daughters. And, voila, you've got a '70s TV sitcom ready to roll.

But despite that I've tasted more lip gloss in the past several months than nearly all men will in their lifetime, and Garrett now knows words to Taylor Swift songs he didn't previously know existed and the Bug just can't figure out why 4- and 7-year-old girls wouldn't like movies about superheroes or fighting robots, I know I still have plenty to learn about sugar, and spice and everything nice.

However, what I do know is this: The Brooks boys' lives have been unalterably sweetened by one storybook queen and her two little princesses, and that Shelley and I are more fortunate than ever to say that we now have four children in our lives that make being a parent more rewarding than one can humanly describe.

Devlyn Brooks works for Forum Communications Co. He and his two boys, Garrett and Bug, live in Moorhead. And now, so do Shelley and her two girls, Ava and Siri.