Sunday, March 30, 2014


I don’t remember exactly when we taught the girl to toast with her sippy cup. In fact, I don’t even remember how it came to be a thing, but this morning at breakfast there we were, all three of us, toasting with our mugs of coffee and her sippy cup. To the untrained eye and ear, her holding her sippy cup out and saying ‘Cheers!’ might not be an invitation to clink glasses, but in our household, it’s a toast, a celebration, an opportunity to pause for just a moment. It’s such a small celebration, but it somehow makes the meal much more special. There were so many celebrations already this morning, before we decided to dedicate a toast to our oatmeal and fruit. So many times that I clapped and smiled and told her that she did a good job (while clearly articulating what it was that she did a good job doing).
She managed to put all her books away this morning after reading them. She loves to take them off the shelf and bring them to me. However, the putting away of the books is a task that I usually have to take care of myself. Today was  celebration as she actually stood them back up on the shelf. She was so proud of herself.
We had another small celebration when, for once, she didn’t fight/cry while having her diaper changed. This is by far her least favorite activity and every morning is such a struggle to get the girl ready for the day. Today was almost calm and pleasant - a true celebration.
Of course, in life, there will be the big celebrations - birthdays, holidays, doing well in a competition, but I think it is important to remind the girl to look for smaller things to celebrate. If we are only looking for the big moments, we miss the happiness and joy of simpler things.

I'm in Charge of Celebrations by Byrd Baylor

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

I Feel Pretty

Cute. Pretty. Beautiful. I must have heard these words at least ten times on Sunday.
The girl and I were visiting my parents in Indiana. My niece and the girl were running around playing with grandma’s toys. They had a great time when grandpa would throw a bunch of balls in the air and they would run around and try to gather them up and put them back in the basket.
My niece is almost a year older than the girl, so it is interesting to watch her do things that the girl is not yet able to do. This was also the first time that the girl had an opportunity to play with an older child and she was fascinated with her.
But, during the ball-gathering game, I was struck with how kind my niece was being to the girl. My niece was able to gather at least 3 of the balls in her hands and carry them around. However, the girl was only able to hold one at a time. On two different occassions, my niece handed one of the balls to the girl for her to put in the basket. No one prompted her to do this. No one asked her to share. She simply noticed that the girl didn’t have a ball and she handed one over.
This day stuck with me because of the lack of impact it seemed to have on the other adults in the room. Not long after this interaction, my mother asked my niece, “Don’t you think that the girl is pretty? Are you pretty?”
I wanted to get on my self-righteous soapbox and point out that these girls are so much more than pretty. They are so much more than cute. They are so much more than what they look like. They are kind. They are compassionate. They are caring. When we see them share with one another or do something kind for one another (or even themselves) we have to point it out and emphasize the good they are doing for one another and humankind. I let it go, though. If grandma wants to tell her she’s cute, that’s one of the few places she’s going to hear it on a consistent basis.
Right now, of course the girl is cute. She’s 16-months-old. When she grows up, I want her to measure her beauty within herself, not compared with what society has deemed ‘pretty’. Because, poor girl, the genetic odds are stacked against her. But, more importantly I want her to to be kind, compassionate, caring, passionate, and think about others. Physical attractiveness means nothing if your inside is ugly.

Books to help remind the girl to be strong on the inside:

Rose's Garden by Peter Reynolds

I'm Gonna Like Me by Jamie Lee Curtis & Laura Cornell

Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride by Pam Munoz Ryan

Eleanor, Quiet No More by Doreen Rappaport

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Olivia and the Fairy Princesses

As I write this, the movie 300 is on in the background. I generally don’t have time to watch movies, but lately, the girl has been sick and taking extra naps. This week, I’ve managed to have background viewing of both the movies 300 and Brave. Interestingly, I managed to find a common theme in both of these movies.
Both of these movies have strong, female characters. In Brave, Merida was one of the first non-traditional princesses. She was not waiting for her prince to rescue her and in fact, she was ready to rescue herself. Everywhere you turn, there is such an abundance of pink and princess, it is hard to escape.
So, when I saw Olivia and the Fairy Princesses by Ian Falconer at the book fair, I was immediately turned off. First, I have not been impressed with the Olivia books lately. While I loved the first Olivia book (Olivia embodied everything I hoped a spunky, young pig would) I felt like the last ones were rather tiresome. Second, it had Olivia on the cover in a pink tutu/skirt. Really?
I couldn’t have been more wrong. I ran around the book fair reading this book to everyone who would listen. I bought it for the girl, her cousin, and it’s my new top gift for girls.
I love the message that Olivia once again shows about being yourself. She clearly explains that there is no need to follow along with what everyone else is doing, that everyone should be themselves. Falconer has a sense of humor in the illustrations that made me laugh aloud several times.