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.

Parenting, Sweet girls


The Artist started kindergarten this week.

I cannot believe it. I cannot believe this baby, this little darling who cooed in my arms just hours after she was born, this dress-up loving child, this girl who I still rock every night – how is she old enough for kindergarten?

But she is. Every day she gets a little bit older, a little bit wiser, and a little bit more independent.

It happened quicker than we could have imagined. One day I was stroking her baby fuzz, feeding her a bottle. I blinked, and she was dancing to “Frozen” songs and wearing costumes in public. I turned my back and she was wearing a school uniform for the first time in her life.

It happened – my baby became a big girl. And even though I can remember endless nights of feeding her and comforting her and days that seemed to last forever because, really, how many times could we watch “Hercules” – but before my two eyes, she grew and thrived.

For her part, she LOVED her first day. LOVED it. It was actually better than Christmas. We picked her up, and she wanted to know how quickly she could go back. And after we put her to bed that first night, she came back in our room and wanted to know exactly how long she would be in kindergarten – she wanted to make sure it was long enough.

She made new friends, explored the computer lab, played on the monkey bars, and enjoyed lunch. She met the “real” Pete the Cat (she says) and colored and told me, “My teacher is impressed with my art.” (There’s a reason we call her The Artist, ha!) She told me names of kids she played with and how much she liked her teacher.

We started this school blind. I didn’t think I knew anyone, but, over time, and closer to the first day, we learned more and more of her classmates and the school. A former coworker is head of the PTC. Two of our neighbors’ children are in her class. And when we were walking her in yesterday, we spotted two college friends who just moved back and whose little girl was also in The Artist’s class.

In other words – this new home feels like an old home.

I am so excited to dive into her school, to learn about her classmates and her beautiful teacher and what she learns. I’m so excited to hear about her day, about eating in a cafeteria for the first time, about having recess, and about learning math and social studies (!!!). I am so thankful for our community with its awesome public schools and teachers and staff who care so much about our kids.

It’s so much fun. It’s so exciting and new, but it’s a bit unnerving, too – we haven’t EVER had to take her to school at a certain time (especially before 8 a.m.), and we haven’t ever attended such a big school, but she’s a big girl now. And big girls go to big schools.




#isms, Sweet girls

#isms, Volume 1

I love conversations with my kids. Every day is a new adventure. The Artist is 5, and The Engineer is 2, and they make me laugh all the time. Not only are they genuinely funny, but for little kids, they have quite a sassy streak, too.

Therefore, welcome to my first #isms post. I call it #isms because I refer to their quotes as #artistisms or #engineerisms. Enjoy!

Me, referring to a stupid driver in front of me: “What is that dinglehopper doing?”
The Artist: “Where’s a dinglehopper?”
Me: “In front of us.”
The Artist: “That’s not a dinglehopper. A dinglehopper is a fork.”
Me: “My mistake.”

The Artist, “reading” “Green Eggs and Ham” to The Engineer: “Did you hear her? She said ‘Bravo’ because I read to her.”
She did not.

Five minutes after The Engineer pooped and peed on the floor (joys of potty training)
The Artist: “How’s it going, Mama?”

The Engineer frequently tries to escape her car seat…pretty much every day…
The Engineer: “Mama, help.”
Me: “I’m not helping you escape your car seat.”
The Engineer: “Mama, I need help. Call Kyle.”

While playing in the pool…
The Artist: “Don’t fake cry, Mommy. I won’t be gone forever. I have my puddle jumper.”

The Artist: “MAMA! There’s a bug in the car, and it just went under your seat.”
Me (driving): “Are you serious? Are you telling me the truth?”
The Artist: “Yes. It’s a bug. A big bug.”
Me (looking for a place to pull over): “Is it the size of an ant?”
The Artist: “No, it’s a lot bigger.”
Me (basically speeding up and swerving and checking under my feet): “What did it look like?”
The Artist: “It was black and red striped.”
Me (full blown panic): “Are you sure?”
The Artist: “Well, no. I didn’t see its colors. But it’s a bug. A big bug.”
It was a fly.

(after checking the mail and finding an empty mailbox)
The Artist: “When are they going to put something in our mailbox? Like a hippopotamus?”

Me (after reading a book to The Artist about traits): “So where do you get your blue eyes from? Mommy or Daddy?”
The Artist: “Jesus.”



Food, Sweet girls

Favorite summer lunches

Last summer, I nearly lost my mind.

I loved being home with my girls. I did. But I HATED cooking meals three dadgum times a day. WHY ARE YOU SO HUNGRY? Can’t you just eat another banana??? Plus, at the time, The Engineer was a new 1 year old, and she couldn’t eat so well on her own anyway. But I didn’t know what to make those kids for lunch. We basically survived on sandwiches and chicken nuggets.

This summer, I swore to get my act together and only eat sandwiches and chicken nuggets once a month. Because, as they are not Chick-fil-A nuggets, I can only eat dino-shaped chicken nuggets so many times (Chick-fil-A nuggets, however, I could live on).

First, I got paper plates. LIFESAVER. Yeah, it’s not so good for the environment, but it’s good FOR MY MENTAL HEALTH. I love being able to basically scoop everything up with one hand and toss it all in the trash.

Secondly, I made a deal with myself that we would go out to eat for lunch once a week, at least by Wednesday. I wanted to say Friday, because what better way to celebrate making it to the end of the week than a greasy hamburger and fries (or Chick-fil-A??)? But that’s the thing – if it’s Friday, hooray!! I’ve made it! But Wednesday – that’s not a great day anyway. Why not make it a little better by going out to eat fast food?

Lastly, before summer started, I made a list of non-sandwich and non-chicken nugget lunch ideas. Now, let me remind you – I have a 5 year old and 2 year old, and if The Engineer even thinks we’re making food, she is underfoot, trying to climb on the stove, and crying for food. I promise, we do feed the kids. She just has zero patience. Z.E.R.O.

So my list – don’t judge it based on health. Judge it based on cheap, easy, and fast. I can whip any of these together quickly (and I mean in 5 min or less prep work – 20 minutes ain’t cutting it in our household), and the kids and I will all be satisfied with what’s on our plates – ahem, our paper plates.

Lunch ideas (main course)
* Quesadillas and salsa (customizable and easily cooked!)
* Mac and cheese and deli meat
* Frozen pizza
* Turkey and cheese crescent rolls (could also transform into tortilla roll ups)
* Taco salad (basic: meat, cheese, tomatoes, tortilla chips)
* Pigs in a blanket
* Hummus and pita bread (I LOVE hummus, because most MDO’s/daycares don’t allow peanut butter due to allergies, and this offers a lot of protein. Plus, The Engineer LOVES to dip things, so this gives her a healthy dip.)
* Rotisserie chicken and rice
* Frito pie (can of chili and fritos – what’s easier?)
* Ramen noodles (old college fav introduced early)
* Spaghetti-os
* Lunchables (What is it about lunchables that kids love?? The Artist always thinks she’s being spoiled when I pick one up for her)
* Hot pockets

I also have a list of sides that aren’t chips or French fries (we’re SO healthy over here…) because my kids want a solid three-course meal at nearly every sitting. Because, you know, spoiled.

* Fruit salad
* Salad with ranch (the only thing that makes my kids eat salads)
* Jell-O cups
* Box pasta salad
* Broccoli with cheese
* Avocado
* Pretzel sticks with peanut butter
* Corn on the cob
* Nuts (not that my kids eat nuts, but make yours do)
* Hash browns
* Canned veggies
* Apples with PB

I know summer is basically half over now, but maybe this will help you survive the rest of summer, too!

Parenting, Sweet girls

It gets better

I remember the nights when I would pace our bedroom, back and forth, back and forth, bouncing The Engineer in my arms. For hours. HOURS. I did it throughout the day, too, but it was hardest between that 8-10 p.m. hours. Kyle and I would take 10-minute rotations.

I remember thinking how much I needed her to be on a solid sleep schedule but letting her sleep on in the mornings because I just needed a little extra time to myself. To pray. To read. To drink coffee. To just hear silence and not have to be in charge for a moment.

I remember clinging to The Artist, bawling my eyes out before she was even a month old, because now I was always, always responsible for this human being. There would never come a time when I didn’t worry about this person. And I couldn’t protect her from the world, and I cried, because I knew that the world is not always a great place.

I remember when The Artist was placed in NICU and I wondered what I did wrong. Did I run too much? Did I eat raw sushi? What had I done that caused her to go in NICU? When The Engineer was born, I was terrified she would be placed in NICU, too. But we had other issues with her, later on. I remember taking my five-week-old baby to the ER in the middle of a night storm, because she was running more than 100.4-degree fever. It was the first time I had ever been in our ER because of my immediate family. I looked down at my daughter, sleeping in her car seat, and I wondered, “How did we get here?”

As a parent, we have terrifying, fearful moments. And we have hard moments, when we are tired, cranky, hungry. No one is at her best then.

I saw a new mom at our city’s summer festival last month, and I could tell she was a new mom. I’m not sure how we, as moms, recognize when one of our kind has just one newborn, but we know. This girl was young, probably 18-22, and the baby was so small, probably not even two months old. And she had that anxious, pained look on her face of a mom who is worried about too much at once.

“Is this your first?” I asked, my two own kids sitting politely (for once) in the stroller eating ice cream.

She nodded.

I smiled. “Are you getting any sleep?”

“A little,” she said. “It’s hard because my husband works off.”

God bless her. Parenting is hard enough with two parents who work normal hours. Those of you who are single parents or whose spouse works odd hours or away from home – that can make it harder.

“It gets better,” I said, nodding to The Engineer and The Artist. Again, they were being quite well behaved, and I wanted her to know – it does get better.

Because even in trials, there is beauty.

I remember when The Engineer busted her head open at the library (only my daughter could do that), and we scrambled to the doctor’s office, because the injury was not swelling out. I was – again – crying, The Engineer was screaming, and The Artist was leaning over, holding her sister’s hand, and singing, “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and “Jesus Loves You” to her.

I remember when my dad passed away, and I was distraught. The Artist came up to me, patted my shoulder, and said, “It’s okay, Mama. I’m happy.” I laughed because I couldn’t help myself. She was 4 at the time.

I remember those long, oh, so long, nights feeding The Engineer in her room. I remember being so tired, but looking at her – and even looking at The Artist when I fed her during the 1 a.m. feedings – that made it all worthwhile. Holding those sweet baby hands. Cuddling the baby close. Kissing the baby hairs on top of their heads.

I remember drinking my coffee – after my children awoke. They are still so curious about my coffee because I won’t let them drink it. The Engineer pretends to lap it like a dog. The Artist, for the longest time, didn’t know what a coffee cup was. When someone showed her a picture of one, she said, “Coffee.” Because coffee went in there, and she just assumed the entire thing was coffee.

They are funny, vivacious, exhausting, sassy, and mine. They belong to me and Kyle, and every day is a new adventure.

It may be hard now, Mama. Or you may be in a stage where things are settling down for a spell. Either way, as my kids have just gotten older, I have discovered something oh so wonderful: it just keeps getting better.