media literacy, Parenting, Sweet girls

PDP and Trolls

“I got this feeling…inside my bones…”

Dreamworks-Trolls-Poppy-official-cardboard-cutout-buy-now-at-starstills__15333.1473262262For a year now, The Artist has been in love with “Trolls.” She and my mom went and watched it in theaters, and since then, The Artist has no doubt seen herself as a red-headed Princess Poppy. She asked Santa for a Poppy doll and a Troll tree for Christmas (which she did get), and she loves having daily – yes, daily – dance parties to the “Trolls” soundtrack.

Back around Thanksgiving, we noticed that one particular song, “Can’t Stop The Feeling,” by Justin Timberlake, had The Artist’s touch all over it. She created her own dance to that song.

Now, let me first stop here and say that my FIVE-YEAR-OLD choreographed a song BY HERSELF. Because she certainly didn’t get her dance moves from me. We have been so proud of her creativity and memory, because every time she hears that song, she dances those particular moves that she made up on her own.

“I got that sunshine in my pocket…

A few months ago, our fabulous library planned an end-of-the-summer reading celebration with a talent show. One of the librarians, who knows The Artist’s antics well, asked if she would be interested in performing. I mean…is the sky blue???

When I mentioned it to The Artist, she asked what she should sing. She had sang “Let It Go” to audition for a part in a community theatre play, and while she did good, Kyle and I both said we thought she should do her “Trolls” dance – especially since she choreographed it. She agreed, though she did tell me she would do better singing “This is Me.”

A new outfit was purchased, Poppy pink hair was ordered, and she was ready to go.

“I can’t take my eyes up off it, movin’ so phenomenally…”

My mom and grandmother drove more than an hour away for the performance. I was so excited. She looked adorable, she knew her moves, and it was going to be fabulous. I just knew it.

I asked her to practice for me that morning, and she did – very half-heartedly. She asked, “What if they laugh at me?”

“What are you talking about?” I asked. “No one’s going to laugh at you. You’re adorable.” I was confused. This was The Artist. She doesn’t get stage fright. Where was this coming from?

She didn’t want to perform when Mom and Granny arrived, and my nerves started to become uneasy. Why wasn’t she excited? Why didn’t she smile? Why didn’t she want to practice?

She didn’t really say much on the drive, but once we arrived at the library, The Artist tearfully announced that she didn’t want to dance. I was pretty disappointed and upset, but Kyle and I both knew it would be worse if we insisted she perform. So we told her once her decision was made, it was final, and we watched the rest of the talent show.

The Artist did not perform.

“Nothin’ I can see but you when you dance, dance, dance…”

We couldn’t figure out what scared her. She kept telling us, “I was afraid everyone was going to laugh because I was dancing. I’ve never danced that dance in front of people.” WHICH MADE NO SENSE BECAUSE THE CHILD HAS SOLO PERFORMED SINGING AND DANCED IN RECITALS. She was fearless. She loved the stage. Was this something new?

Yes. Yes, it was. In a way.

MV5BZTE0N2JiNmEtYTdhYS00ZDQ3LTlkNzEtYWUxZGY0YTFkZjlmXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTgxMjYxOQ@@._V1_.jpgJust a couple of days later, both kids were watching “Puppy Dog Pals,” a staple in our home. I was getting ready in our bathroom, and the kids were watching TV in our bedroom. The episode was “Electric Pugaloo,” in case I have other “PDP” peeps out there. And I heard:

“He’s not dancing. He’s just shaking his quills….He looks pretty silly to me.”

“I’ve never danced in front of this many people before…I thought it was dancing.”

“Well, like I said. I know dancing. And that’s not dancing.”

“What if they laugh at us?”


I ran out of the bathroom and realized the episode was about a hedgehog who made up his own dances…and who got made fun of it (obviously, he is beloved at the end, but you get the point).

“So just dance, dance, dance, come on…”

Obviously, we had a long conversation with The Artist about how it was okay that she didn’t perform – but that no one would have laughed. Her dance is amazing. She is amazing. But, performing or not performing, we love her.

Our kids are definitely influenced by what they watch, and while this was a small example, it reminded me how important it is to be on guard. The Artist is a fabulous performer, no mama-bias necessary. And I don’t want her to lose it. So next time there’s something for her to perform and show out, I hope she remembers the end of that episode more than the beginning:

“Hedgie can dance if he wants to.”

“The most important thing is to have fun.”

“Hey, I can do that.”

Yep. So can we.

Food, Parenting, Uncategorized

Eat your veggies

At the beginning of the summer, we had a brief concern that The Engineer wasn’t getting enough iron in her diet. She doesn’t eat a lot of red meat in general – in fact, she prefers that her diet consist of dairy, bread, and fruit. Her pediatrician asked me what kind of veggies she ate…and I hated to say it, but the truth was:


None. Zero. While I serve veggies with most of her meals, she regularly does not touch them. This doesn’t really bother me. I know it takes a billion times for a kid to be introduced to a new food before she likes it and it takes a billion times of trying that food before a kid actually likes it. So I never worried too much about what she left on her plate until we thought that she might have an iron deficiency.

Her wise pediatrician suggested sneaking spinach into her popsicles. That, my friends, is how we discovered how to get The Engineer – and The Artist – to eat their veggies on a daily basis.

Every other day – but seriously – I spend about ten minutes at the blender making 10 green popsicles. I don’t have “add one cup of spinach” or “add two cups of yogurt” or anything like that. It’s not a real recipe in the sense of adding specific measurements. It’s a “mama-needs-her-kids-to-eat-their-veggies-throw-it-together” recipe. It’s literally spinach and yogurt. Maybe a banana if we have one available and I’m feeling froggy. And that. Is. It.

Spinach and yogurt. Yep. Freeze into molds and serve on demand. During the summer, The Engineer could down three of these during one episode of “Puppy Dog Pals.” And because her sister was eating it, The Artist wanted one, too.

I varied it up a little one time by putting a bag (no, seriously, a full bag) of chopped spinach in a thing of boxed brownies because I’m assuming these kids aren’t going to eat popsicles daily throughout the winter (though I could be wrong…). They LOVED them. And they couldn’t believe that they could have TWO at a time. It was basically the best week ever.

And, yes, because they eat them every day – and often more than one at a time – I do have to make these almost on a daily basis, but that’s okay! And, what’s even better is that if they want to eat three of these for a snack and then don’t eat a lot at dinner – that’s okay too! Because they’re healthy.

Even better – I learned that there is dairy free yogurt (I’m sure I’m the only one on the planet who didn’t know this, but maybe there’s one more person out there who didn’t know), so if you’re pregnant or nursing or someone in your family has a dairy allergy, they can easily be modified! And still be healthy for kids – and adults!

So eat your veggies, sweet blogger friends. And get your kids to eat them, too. Even if you have to sneak them into your brownies.

Jesus, marriage


I used to think that I always wanted to be a newlywed – but I was young and dumb, too. I didn’t realize how much joy comes from being married to your best friend for almost half of your life.

With experience comes wisdom, though, and over the past 13 years, both of us have grown wiser. We’ve bought three houses, acquired three graduate degrees, loved on two baby girls, and worked at so many full- and half-time jobs that it’s hard to keep straight. We both have our day jobs, but together we’ve dabbled in radio, blogging (the paying kind), freelancing, and even a brief stint in retail.

We’ve traveled together to Boston, to New York, to Florida, to Tennessee. We’ve taken our girls all over the south, showing them the beach, museums, and zoos. When we’re without them, we talk about them. Talk about taking them to MOMA. About taking them to the Grand Canyon. To Paris. To London. And then we daydream about going by ourselves, too.

We took a staycation the first week the girls returned to school and Mother’s Day Out. For a beautiful week, we had time to ourselves from 8 to 3. We went on random excursions. Played tennis. Ran. Went out to eat and didn’t worry about the wait. We took afternoon naps. It was glorious.

Our marriage doesn’t always reflect God’s love the way it should, but more times than not, I believe it does. He loves me, and I love him. We have created a family together that includes prayer, Bible study, church activities, and lots of love. There are days when nothing goes right, days when I tell him, “This whole family needs some Jesus – RIGHT NOW,” days when we all hop in our bed and binge watch “Puppy Dog Pals” and “Fancy Nancy.” But, through blood, sweat, and tears, we still love each other.

I see it in how our children unabashedly ask for hugs and kisses and tickles all day, every day. I see it in how Kyle and I serve each other and thank each other for various chores and how we work so hard to have night time to spend with each other after the girls go to bed. I see it in how our kids love each other and us.

We got married in a little church in my hometown 13 years ago today. We grew more in his hometown, where we found a community of believers at our new home church. Our baby girls have been raised in this church. Our spirits have grown under the leadership of this church. Our marriage has thrived because of the Lord.

We are so thankful for the guidance and wisdom we’ve received from others over the past 13 years. Marriage is hard. It’s daily work. It’s beautiful, it’s passionate, and it’s joyful, but it is work. And work is always better when you have friends beside you lifting you up and praying for you and your best friend.

So today, happy anniversary to my love, the father of my children, my very bestest friend, my puzzle piece, my soulmate. He has captivated me, and I am enchanted by him.