52 Weeks of Sisterhood: Raising Readers

My husband and I have been reading to our girls since they were born. They have their favorites and so do we. We know that the Dr. Seuss books are fun but long. We know the books that rhyme and the ones that don’t. We know which books require special voices or sound effects. And we know which books are sure to get a laugh. 

In that latter category of humorous books, my little one has been favoring “The Pigeon” books lately. Are you familiar with the Pigeon? OMG he’s hilarious. The author is Mo Willems and he used to write and animate for Sesame Street – which totally explains why I love his humor. Among her faves right now:



She laughs at just the right spots. And she can’t wait to turn the pages. She’s even memorized some of the words so far, which makes me beam with pride.

(As a side note, my husband and I have a standard baby gift. We always buy a Pigeon book and the accompanying stuffed animal. We had generous friends and family contribute books to our girls’ library and we want to pay it forward.)

My nine year old is also enamored with books. She most recently finished the memoir, “Behind the Secret Window” by Nelly S. Toll. It’s the story of a young Jewish girl’s experiences during World War II.

My daughter’s always been fascinated by Anne Frank, but I’ve spared her some of the horrid details until she gets older. This book so captivated her that she hasn’t stopped talking about it for weeks. As she was describing the book to me last week, she said how much she’d love the chance to meet this woman (who now probably in her 70s or 80s).

This might sound morbid, but I did some research to see if the woman was still alive. Turns out that until recently she was teaching at a college near where we live. There was no mention of a death date online so – onward! I continued researching and found what appeared to be a viable email address. I sent her a note.

No response yet.

But whoa. My daughter will completely freak if she gets the chance to meet this woman. I’ve met a few authors whose works I’ve loved and for me it was like meeting a rock star. I’m in awe of authors and how they can inform, educate, entertain, persuade, or frustrate me by the words they so carefully string together. I adore the fact that my daughter feels the same way.

I believe reading to kids and in front of kids is something really special. Oh sure there are lots of studies noting how it helps with the developmental and cognitive abilities of children…blah, blah, blah. That’s all true, but I read to my kids for different reasons. I want them to discover how books can transport you to another place and time. I want them to know that books can make you laugh and cry and leave you thinking about characters long after you’ve turned the last page. 

OK fine. It’s really because I can’t resist the extra cuddles I get when it’s storytime. 🙂

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Are You Superstitious?

To this day, if you buy a brand new pair of shoes and put them on a table, my mother will shriek and yell while pointing at said shoes, “Hey! New shoes do not belong on the table. It’s bad luck!”

As ridiculous as I find this superstition, I admit that I’m a little afraid of the consequences should I dare to put a new pair of shoes still in the box on my kitchen table. Of course, when my mother is here I sometimes do it anyway just to see her reaction.

I’m mean like that.

But what about purses? Are brand new purses on the table bad luck too? I hope not. Because after much deliberation in the purse aisle at my local Marshall’s (and after numerous texts and photos back and forth with my sister for her expert opinion), I decided on a lovely white and navy blue number from Ivanka Trump’s purse collection.

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I think it will be great for spring and summer. I’ve never really been much of a purse gal – give me a functional black leather shoulder bag and I’m all set. But now that I’m ready to ditch the “mom-who-keeps-everything-in-her-giant-bag” look, I thought it would be irresponsible of me to not give purse fashion a try.

Although it isn’t a pair of shoes, it’s all new and leather-y just like a pair of shoes. And yet, when I got home I left it on the table for an hour or so before moving it to the chair. Which of course I’m hoping will appease the gods of bad luck.

Are you superstitious? Is this weird?

An “Elbow-Bump” Turned Her Day Around

My girl missed the bus this morning.

But in her defense, it’s unbelievably freezing and I didn’t want her hanging out at the bus stop, which is not far from our front door. So, I told her to get ready and then wait in our front hall until we could actually see the bus arrive.

Little did I realize it would take her a bit to get ready. She had forgotten her retainer, her socks (!) and her viola.

As she ran upstairs to get all of these things, the bus pulled up. Well, by the time she got everything together and put on her winter accoutrements: coat, hat, scarf, boots and gloves (damn you, winter!) and was ready to walk out the door – you guessed it. The bus pulled away.

She was devastated. She loves hanging out on the bus with her friends. It’s like her version of study hall. But today we would have to drive. And I would have to coax my 3 year old out of her princess dress and into something more suitable for a cold ride in the car. Good times.

As we drove to school (virtually behind the bus, mind you) my girl was sulky. She was mad at the bus driver (who is notoriously late, but of course, not today). She was mad at her socks for not already being on her feet and she was made at her viola because today is her lesson. Logic has no place in a nine year old’s mind.

We talked on the drive. If you can call her one-word responses and/or grunts to my questions ‘talking.’

Soon we were slowly making our way through the drop-off circle at her school. She was still sullen-faced as she gathered her bags and viola case. And as we neared the front door, we saw something that as a “busser” she doesn’t normally get to see. Her principal – who is just about the coolest dude ever – was standing outside to greet the students as they walked in. He’s relatively young, a little taller than me (read: short), and completely bald. So much so that he dressed as Popeye last Halloween. None of the kids knew who he was. Yes, I like him a lot and I love his leadership style. The kids know he’s tough and won’t put up with any crap, but they also know he is by far their biggest cheerleader.

So there he was on this frigid morning with a giant smile fist-bumping each kid as they arrived saying, “Hey, good morning! Glad you’re here, make it a great day!”

My daughter was so loaded down with her viola, backpack, and lunch sack that she couldn’t get a free “fist.”

So he elbow-bumped her. 🙂

And she smiled and giggled.

these are the days

52 Weeks of Sisterhood: Teamwork

My girls don’t always get along.

Their seven year age difference is part of the reason. But when they do get along it makes my heart happy.

We’ve had way too much snow recently and it’s resulted in either school cancellations or two hour delayed openings for big sister. The most recent two-hour delay day happened to fall on the day little sister has her swimming class. So we all piled into the car and headed to the Y with plans to go to swim class and then rush home to get big sister on the school bus by 10am.

She wasn’t happy about having to rush. She wanted to stay home in her jammies for a bit longer and play on the latest tween obsession “Wee World.” Don’t ask.

But off we went. We sat on the bleachers alongside the pool, sweating and breathing in the humidity. We watched my little one practice her kicks and put her face in the water to blow bubbles. The class is only 30 minutes, but my older daughter’s face looked like she’d been there for days.

But then something cool happened. The teacher asked her class of toddlers if they wanted to swim the length of the pool to the deep end using their little floaties. Their eyes widened for a second before they all squealed and shouted, “Yay! Yay!”

The class slowly began kicking, making their way out of the shallow end. They swam in the crookedest line ever, but it was really cute. There are only three of them, but they each had a little cheering section on the bleachers. Kick. Kick. Kick. They were in the middle of the pool – headed straight for the deep end – when big sister got up and ran alongside the pool to the deep end. (Note: the lifeguards yelled at her for running, but she didn’t care.) She crouched down at the edge of the pool and started cheering and cheering and cheering for her little sister. “C’mon you can do it! You’re almost there!”

When the little one finally made it – all red-faced and breathless – it was her big sister who jumped up as if she had just won the kid lottery. And then she told her, “You did it! I’m so proud of you!” And my heart swooned.

Of course, on the way home, they fought about who was allowed to sing the Frozen songs. (For the record, my little one prefers to sing ALL BY HERSELF. Holy high maintenance.)

But I didn’t let it ruin my moment.

p.s. Cell phones aren’t permitted in the pool area so I failed to get a shot of little one kicking her heart out. So I include this one instead.

52 weeks of sisterhood

Holding hands so they don’t slip on the snow…

 

When You Held Your Breath To Find Out If School Was Closed

The view from our home - with a photobomb by the snowplow truck.

The view from our home – with a photobomb by the snowplow truck.

As I’m writing, snowpocalypse is raging outside my window. Another 10 inches or so is expected in our neighborhood. All this on top of the foot or more already covering the sides of the roads and everyone’s front lawns. I don’t mind the snow so much, especially now since I work from home and a daily commute is not something I have to deal with. It really is pretty to look at. But it’s getting old as we reach mid-February.

We found out last night that school would be closed today for my nine-year old. The list of school names – neatly arranged by county – scrolled along the bottom of the local New Jersey news station a good five hours before a single flake fell. We also received text messages and phone calls last night from an automated notification system – about the “impending weather.”

Now what fun is that?

I remember as a kid waking up early, raising the window shades and seeing the most glorious sight – SNOW! We’d run to the dining room, turn on our big stereo and tune it to the local station that was listing off all the school closings. The sound was all static and grainy – a sign of the times before satellite and digital radio. The announcers would list the names alphabetically. Our town began with “M” and we usually tuned in when they were somewhere at “S.” So we’d have to wait for them to loop around and begin again. Without fail, our town was one of the last to decide to close. I grew up in Melrose. And this is what we would hear:

Malden, Medfield, Medway, Middleton, Milton….

Melrose should fit neatly between Medway and Middleton, right? But it never did. At least not on the first read-through.

No, it wasn’t until after I had taken a shower, gotten dressed, had breakfast and was ready to go.

We’d listen one more time…Malden, Medfield, Medway, MELROSE, Middleton, Milton…

SNOW DAY!

Back in our jammies for a day full of cartoons and sitcoms 🙂

52 Weeks of Sisterhood: My munchkins like munchkins

sisters

Chillin outside the local Dunkin Donuts

No doubt you’ve heard about (or experienced!) the snow-pocalypse or snowmaggeddon or whatever you want to call the huge amounts of snowfall we’ve had in the Northeast recently. It’s beautiful and pretty but for goodness sakes it’s February and my older daughter has missed too much school.

We had a reprieve a couple of weeks ago in between storms when it wasn’t completely freezing (around 39 or 40 degrees or so), and much of the snow had melted. So we bundled up and loaded the car with their scooters and headed to the local park. It was muddy in places and still snowy in places, but they got to run and climb and scoot so they were happy.

My little one has had her scooter since last Christmas. It’s pink and has three wheels and she drives it like a pro. We’re thinking about getting her a “big girl” scooter for her birthday which makes me both happy and sad. Happy that she’s mastered this first little vehicle. And sad because, well, she’s growing up.

My older daughter on the other hand has had a scooter for years. She loves riding it and her confidence has developed over the years. She’s not as in love with it as she was just last year, but that’s OK. She still loves riding her bike.

After we played at the park and went for a walk / scoot around the neighborhood, we headed toward Dunkin Donuts for a well-earned treat.

Munchkins for my munchkins.

52 Weeks of Sisterhood – Week One

With all due credit to a favorite blogger of mine – Jenna at Stop, Drop and Blog – I’ve decided to follow in her footsteps and attempt to document the year through the eyes of my girls. She calls her project “52 Weeks of Brotherhood.” I’ve decided to call mine

” 52 Weeks of Sisterhood”

No points for originality.

But know this. I don’t want to just regurgitate what our week was like in a sort of diarist fashion. Rather, I’d like to capture just what milestones they’ve reached in their relationship with each other and also as independent people. My scrapbooking efforts have waned over the years and been replaced by a fondness for blogging and amateur photography. And when I say ‘amateur photography’ I mean the finesse with which I wield my trusty smart phone.

At the very least, I hope to have a good record of the important and mundane things that occurred in the lives of my two girls when the year ends. It’s hard for me to let go sometimes and let them grow up. Maybe this will help me freeze-frame these moments in my mind just a bit. I’m a little behind (already!) Here’s week 1 – I’ll post weeks 2 – 4 shortly 🙂

WEEK ONE

week 1

Self-portraits

 

These two.

Honestly.

They play well and they fight well. They build forts together and watch Disney shows. And then doors slam, feet stomp, something is thrown across the room and someone ends up crying.

But at the end of the day my little one reminds her big sister, “You’re my best friend.”