Sweet girls

The Engineer turns 2

Happy Birthday, Little Engineer!

We call her The Engineer because she is constantly trying to figure out how things work. She’s 2 years old and looks at her toys to see where the batteries go, where is the on/off switch, and what happens when she presses, pulls, touches, or even licks things.

She is all about using all five of her senses. How does that flower smell? How does it feel? How does it taste? How many of them are there? Why doesn’t it talk?

She’s amazing. When I was pregnant, Kyle and I couldn’t imagine how we could love another human being as much as we loved The Artist. Our 3-year- old had stolen our hearts from Day One. We worried that a second child would be…well, second best.

But, oh, she wasn’t. That’s the miracle of childbirth. You don’t feel like your love is halved or that you love one child more than another. No, instead your heart expands to include this new little human. You never realized your heart could grow – but when you see that baby’s eyes, you realize – it just did.

I’ll never forget the moment when The Artist met her baby sister. She was overjoyed. Here was the baby sister she had waited and waited and waited for, and here she was. She took everyone who entered our hospital room by hand to go see her baby sister. She was as proud as any new papa. She held her new baby, sang to her, fed her bottles.

And this new person, this new individual – she was so much like my firstborn, but so different. We had health complications with The Engineer – health concerns that sent us to the hospital when she was five weeks and then at five months – on Christmas Eve, no less.

But, despite that, we have watched her grow and flourish. She shuffles her feet on the floor when she’s about to get into something she knows she shouldn’t. She loves dogs with a ferocity I’ve rarely seen. She has to have her lovie (we have at least five currently) when she sleeps, or all Hades will open up. She loves bananas and apples and Gogurts (loves them SO MUCH). She asks for hugs from her family every day. She asks “Why?” all day.

She is my firecracker for sure, my big-girl-in-training, my second baby star. And I am so happy to celebrate two years with this girl.

I started the Birthday Interviews with The Artist, and while it is more fun to hear the kids respond, I like to record it anyway just to remember likes and dislikes.

  1. Who is your favorite person in the world?
    Probably me and Kyle and The Artist, who would take first place
  1. What’s your favorite color?
    I think Red and Blue
  1. What’s your favorite show to watch on TV?
    “Super Why” and “Puppy Dog Pals,” followed closely by “The Lion Guard”
  1. What’s your favorite outfit?
    Birthday suit (no, but for real….)
  1. What sport do you like best?
    Well, she does love throwing balls…
  1. What’s your favorite song?
    Currently “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.” It’s seriously her nighttime lullaby. She loves this VBS CD we got earlier this summer and will sing all the songs to it, which is pretty funny. She also sings all the “Frozen” and “The Greatest Showman” songs.
  2. Who is your best friend?
    The Artist. Hands down.
  3. What do you want to be when you grow up?
    Most likely a dog
  4. What is your favorite book?
    “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”
    “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom”
    “Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What do you hear?”
  5. What color is your hair?
  6. What color are your eyes?
  7. What’s your favorite food?
  1. What’s your favorite treat?
  2. What animals do you like?
    You know. Dogs.
  3. What do you like to do with Daddy?
    Making sure he is wrapped around her finger
  4. What do you like to do with Mommy?
    Help her get her steps in by running around
  5. What’s your favorite movie?
    “The Greatest Showman” and “Frozen”
  6. What’s your favorite store?
    Walmart – so she can see the “fishies”

Happy birthday, sweet girl!

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Parenting, Sweet girls

You are the expert

“What do you suggest?”

When it comes to parenting, I want advice on everything. From friends who are parents to medical professionals to books to blogs, I want to hear what other people have to say. I wholly believe in the adage that it takes a village to raise a child. As much as I’ve had to rely on friends, family, and childcare workers to care for my girls, I have to believe in it. Being half of a household of two parents who work, I have to trust certain individuals with two of the most beautiful blessings God has given to me. They are all the clichés – my heart walking outside my body, pieces of me. And I have to trust others with them.

I have been so thankful to have a village I do trust and do love. The Artist’s preschool teachers have doted on her and spoiled her so much over the past two years. She has flourished under their watch, and I am forever grateful. The Engineer goes to a church’s Mother’s Day Out program, and I have been so happy there the past two years. In fact, even though we’ve been out of school for almost two months now, The Engineer asked specifically for her MDO teacher. I showed her the class picture they took this past spring, and she was so excited. She giggled and chatted about each person and knew all of her classmates still.

I trust our medical professionals without reserve. I follow the AAP’s vaccination schedule to a T. When our pediatrician suggests that our kids try to fight off an illness without prescription meds, I give two thumbs up. I have doubted some doctors before, but I have never doubted our peds or how much they love our kids.

Big changes are happening this year, though. The Artist is starting kindergarten. She has attended a preschool for the last two years that had fewer than 35 kids in the entire school. The Engineer is still attending MDO, but she (hopefully – more on that in another post) will be potty trained. And for some reason, driving home one day, I just started questioning every parenting choice that day. “Are we sending The Artist to the right school? Should I have given The Engineer that cough syrup last night? Should I have taken her out of the pull-up before we ran errands? Should I have let the pediatrician check her for anemia? Should The Artist be in so many summer camps? Is that right?”

And then – I stopped myself.

For the first time in the five and a half years since I have been a parent, wise words that our pediatrician has said to me over and over finally, finally sunk in: “You are the expert on your children.

YOU. You right there reading this. You may need to hear this, too: YOU are the expert on your children.

You know whether or not they can handle staying up late to watch Fourth of July fireworks. You know whether or not they like apples or oranges (Engineer likes apples; Artist likes oranges). You know how they like to be put to sleep at night. You know immediately when they wake up if something is off.

You are the expert.

We have so many options for our children and our families now. I have always taken the baby options in consideration as to what is best for our family. Nursing or formula fed (I had one of each, by the way)? In-home daycare or MDO or babysitter or stay home? Sleep train or not?

But the older my kids have gotten, the more I have forgotten that I know them. I don’t feel like an expert on much, but I am the expert on them.

I don’t know if The Artist will thrive in her new school or not, but I know she has a great chance for success there. That’s the best I can hope for with any school.

I still don’t know if The Engineer has anemia. We’ll get that checked later this month. But I do know that our doctor said to fill her up with lots of green veggies and see if that helps.

I don’t know about your kids – but you do. YOU are the expert on your own children. Whatever choice you make for your family, it will be one that you make because you know your children better than anyone else.

I don’t have to empower you because you have the power for these decisions already. And maybe you know that. But maybe you didn’t, and maybe you’re making big decisions for your family for this upcoming year. And maybe you’re worried.

And that’s okay. We’re all uncertain in this parenting world. But we’re all doing the best we can.


We are Eve

She had her husband and the Lord.

She walked in beauty and grace before she knew anything such as shame or guilt. She was barefoot, naked, and beautiful. We can’t compare anything in this world to what she experienced because this world wasn’t her home. She lived in perfection.

She lived in Eden.

When the snake came to her and asked her to disobey God, we aren’t told whether this was his first attempt to deceive her or his hundredth. Did he come and tempt her every day?

“Eve…don’t you want to be smarter?”
“Eve…surely you’re not dumb enough to think that you’ll really die?”
“Eve…it’s going to be better than your wildest fantasies.”
“Eve…don’t you deserve it?”
“Eve…don’t worry, God will forgive you.”

The Bible is a long book, filled with stories about real people. We see a glimpse of their lives, but we don’t see their daily, hourly struggles. We see a brief picture, not the entirety.

The same goes with our lives.

We have our community, and, if we are followers of Christ, we have the Lord.

We walk in beauty and grace because God has given us those for ashes; he has turned our mourning into dancing. He has given us hope, a promise, and a future. We can’t compare anything in this world to the beauty of heaven, because this world is not our home. One day, we will live in perfection.

One day, we will live in heaven.

But until then, when the snake comes and asks us to disobey God, he won’t just come once. He will come every day with something new.

“Judith…don’t you want to be smarter?”
“Judith…don’t be stupid. How bad is it, really?”
“Judith…it’ll be so great if you just give in.”
“Judith…don’t you deserve it?”
“Judith…don’t worry. God will forgive you.”

Put your own name in. Haven’t you heard those reasons before? Haven’t you heard those excuses?

God is in the midst of us, dear one. He will not be moved. He will help us when morning dawns with new troubles and new temptations. We can conqueror temptation through Christ.

In God, we have strength. In God, we have courage. The joy of the Lord is our strength. We may live in a fallen world, one full of sin, corruption, and hatred. We may not see God’s glory the way that Eve did in the beginning. But we still see God’s glory in His creation. We see Him reflected in us when we mirror Christ. We see Him in the beauty of laughter, of kindness, of a tender heart. We see how things were — and our spirits long for home.

C.S. Lewis said, “If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” Even though we are faced with temptation, it is never as satisfying as we hope. And that’s because we were made for greater things.

Don’t lose heart.




Introvert — all the way

I wanted to title this blog post “Extroverted Introvert,” because I believed that while my Myers-Briggs Test would no doubt show me as an introvert, it would be close to being an extrovert. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

When I first took this personality test probably a decade ago, Kyle was so surprised to find out I was introverted. I generally am pretty good with social situations, so he assumed I was an extrovert. Not so much. When I retook the Myers-Briggs test last month, though, I was quite surprised to see how far on the introverted track I was. Do y’all see that? That’s an 81% introverted rate! No wonder I’m happiest cuddled in PJs watching Netflix.

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According to 16Personalities, INFJ is rare, making up one percent of the population. Add to the fact that I’m a natural redhead, and I’m a dadgum wizard and unicorn and mermaid all wrapped up in one. I knew I was amazing.

Honestly, I’m not sure how accurate the former is (but I do know I am amazing), but I am a proponent of personality tests – not the Cosmo-type ones (but those are helpful to waste time in a doctor’s office waiting room), but ones that actually give you more insight on yourself. The Myers-Briggs is well known, but there is also the Four Tendencies Quiz, which shows how individuals respond to inner and outer expectations, and the Enneagram Test, which is Kyle’s current favorite and shows your basic personality type.

I joke that I was born to a shy extrovert and a talkative introvert (those of you who know my parents should guess which parent is which!). What is crazy to me is how much I actually do that I consider an extroverted activity. I teach college students for a living! I teach Sunday school to my peers!

So…what’s a girl who-thought-she-was-an-extroverted-introvert-but-is-really-a-super-introvert supposed to do?

Do it.

There are days when I don’t feel like teaching anything. There are days when I walk into work or walk into church and, to be honest, I don’t want to talk to anyone. I don’t know if that’s necessarily an introverted personality trait or just a flaw on my own part, but I cannot be social every day. I just can’t. I can do through the motions and be nice and polite, but I am not going to make good small talk or be overly bubbly that day. Maybe the next day. I am actually a very hyper person. I have a Chihuahua, and when people say dogs match their owners’ personality, they’re talking about me and Vicki. But some days, me and Vicki just really want just to cuddle on the couch and read and sleep. She can. I can’t.

And I know there are other people like me. We live in a world that tells us to type, tweet, and live stream our lives, and sometimes all we want to do is be alone. And that’s okay. But, unfortunately, most of the time we can’t pick and choose when we want to be alone.

So, for me, I listen to some Alabama Shakes, Black Keys, Dr. Dog, or Lecrae, and I just do it. I smile and am kind (or I try to be), because I do want to be kind. I want to show kindness to those around me, because kindness is so underrated.

It is definitely an extrovert’s world. Heck, even this blog is sometimes hard for me. But I do it because I write. This is just what I do.