Monday, September 30, 2013

Like Looking in a (Super Clean) Mirror

People tell me all the time that looking at Emily is like looking at me.

There's the hair and the pigtails, of course.

There's the way she scrunches her nose and cuts her eyes.

There's the little twist in her walk and the slight pigeon- toe.

Then there are the less physical resemblances...

Her love of words, whether its "reading" back a favorite story or using words well beyond her three years...

Her single-mindedness, which sometimes is mistaken for stubbornness...

Her need to snuggle up close when she sleeps.

This weekend, it became clear she also shares not only my love of cleaning but my preferred cleaning method as well.

Good thing the bottle of cleaner is non- toxic because by the time I knew she had it, she was well on her way to spraying half the kitchen.


"I just got to clean this window. See that spot. It's dirty."

Well, you do have a point...

She even likes to clean in her underwear like me.

"Mommy, this table is a mess."

Should I bother to tell her that those spots are bite marks from their teething days? Nah, she's having too much fun...

Surely dancing while cleaning is not related to genetics, but she even dances while she cleans-- just like me.

Not sure you'll ever catch me cleaning the car's headlights, but otherwise,

it's like looking in a (super clean) mirror.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

We Knew We'd Made It When...

Sometimes success just sneaks up on you, especially when the journey's long and victory seemingly impossible.

Potty training has been that way for us.

With Emily, one day we just realized she hadn't pooped in her pants in over a week.


That was some time in March or April.

I'll admit, we didn't celebrate too much because we still had Drew who was nowhere close to being potty trained.

Even with one down, until we could ditch diapers for good, our journey wasn't over.

But, as we ended vacation last week, it hit us that we could finally raise the victory flag and plant it firmly on the pile of ten thousand + diapers we used in our three years and three months.

How did we know we had made it? That we were officially potty trained? Here are the top ten ways we knew it was official:

10. We are able to go to Chick Fil A and play without someone pooping in his/her pants.

9. They ask us to pause Bubble Guppies so they can go to the bathroom. Not too long ago, they would have peed right on through instead of missing 30 seconds of singing along with the show.

8. We got rid of the potty chairs, and they adjusted without so much as a mention of where the Elmo chair went. If you're big enough to use the potty, you're big enough to flush it.

7. After cleaning out the car and digging the diaper bag out from a pile of rubble, we realized we hadn't missed it. If you can go weeks without using it, obviously you don't need it.

6. We disposed of the upstairs and downstairs diaper pails. The downstairs closet smells better than it has in three years and three months. We've also rounded up left- over diapers, pull-ups, swimmies, scented trashbags, and changing pads and finally emptied baskets that were first filled before they even came home from the hospital.

5. Both of them sleep through the night without accidents. In fact, once we went cold turkey on the pull-ups, we didn't even use them at night. As long as we cut off the fluid an hour or so before bed and make sure they go before turning in, we don't have any problems.

4. In addition to fighting over songs on the radio, sides of the car, and who can run faster, they now fight over the bathroom. Something tells me we've only heard the beginning of, "Hurry up! You're taking too long!"

3. The same kiddos who once would do their business anywhere and let me change them anywhere now both proclaim, "I need my privacy" when it's potty time. I have no idea where they would have heard someone begging for privacy.

2. Going anywhere means feeling like we are on the World Potty Tour. A quick trip out turns into a three hour tour because they are drawn to a public restroom like a moth to a flame. Each trip tests my patience and fear of germs. At least I don't have to fight with them about washing their hands-- both love to play with soap dispenser, the faucet, the motion- activated paper towel dispenser, the swinging lid on the trash can...

I've even seen a couple of men's restrooms (and their patrons) since Drew has run alone into the male restroom a couple of times. Sorry, fellows.

And, how we really knew we'd made it...

1. Both of them ask to get out the swimming pool when it's time to pee. Shoot, I know grown folks who aren't potty trained that well.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

It's a Wonderful...Book

About ten years ago, as part of my graduate program, I took a course in teaching young adult literature. For months after that class, friends lovingly wondered when I would begin reading adult books again. Seriously, how could books written for 12-18 years hold that much wonderment for a twenty- something married woman who was well past first periods, first boyfriends, and first days of high school?

Remember, folks. These were the days before the mass consumption of YA books like Harry Potter and Twilight. You know, before it was cool to date vampires...

I wasn't just an avid YA reader; I became a pusher of YA books. As a young teacher, I couldn't wait to introduce my students to the wonderland of books that awaited them in the world of YA.

Unfortunately, it seemed we never had enough money to buy anything outside of the classics, and we had to shuffle around the few copies I could buy on my own or borrow from like- minded friends. While it was discouraging to not have books to keep up with the interest, it was exciting to see kids want to read. I knew I was on to something. Something wonderful.

Ten years later, I still think young adult literature is wonderful, but until last week, I couldn't tell you the last YA book I had read. Nothing against YA literature, mind you. I haven't read much of anything lately-- unless you want to count books written specifically for the under 4 crowd.

It's awful, I know. Reading is a part of my profession. It's what I do. It's what I preach. Why can't I stay awake to finish a book?

Okay, that last question is completely rhetorical. I think we all know why I can't stay awake.

So, you can imagine how it wondrous it felt last week while I was on vacation to read a entire book. And, guess what I picked to read?

A young adult novel recommended by a group of teachers with whom I work.

Wonder is a book about a fifth grader named Auggie who was born with craniofacial anomalies. Homeschooled all his life due to his medical issues, Auggie is now starting public school for the first time. As if starting middle school isn't hard enough, imagine life from Auggie's perspective.

Because I also love a good book trailer, why don't I give you sneak peek?

Wow. Before you run out and buy the book, hang with me until the end.

Can you see why I love young adult literature?

Aren't we all just kids stuck in bigger bodies? Aren't we all on some level still trying to figure out how to fit in, how to navigate bad hair days, relationships, and the fear of the unknown?

Books like Wonder speak to the part of us that never ages, the part that doesn't feel any older than we did the awkward day of our first middle school dance. The part that still hopes we aren't picked last for the team...

Books like Wonder remind us of how hard it is be a kid, no matter how often we tell our kids they don't know how good they have it. They remind us how the experience of being a kid is at once eternally the same and increasingly more difficult.

Books like Wonder remind me of the wonder of reading, of how a book can force me to put on new eyes.

I read this book through the eyes of a parent to preschoolers, and I cringed to think of sending my babies to school, to what Auggie's dad compares to "sending lambs to slaughter."

I read this book through the eyes of a parent, like Auggie's friend, Jack Will's mom, who tells Jack that sometimes we forget just how good we have it.

I read this book through the eyes of Auggie's mom, and I wondered how I would react to my son's tears and heartfelt desire just to be ordinary.

I read this book as a human, and I found myself wondering how often I live the precept Auggie's teacher shares with his students: If you have a choice between being right or being kind-- choose kindness.

Is it any wonder why I think Wonder is so wonderful?

Is it any wonder why I want to share this wonder with the world?


I am paying this blessing forward. I want to share a copy of Wonder with a MaMe Musings' reader, and all I ask in return is that once you are finished with the book, you give it to someone else.


Leave a comment here or on Facebook. Tell me your favorite book. Tell me a joke. Tell me hi. Just tell me you saw this post and are interested in reading one of the best books ever.

In a couple of days, I will randomly pick someone who has commented and will send that person a copy of Wonder.

Because a book is always better when shared with friends...

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