The Anti-Romantic Child, by Priscilla Gilman

As parents, we can probably all admit that we had expectations for our children, at least to some degree.  Intentionally or unintentionally, we imagine our children fitting into the mold we create for them:

I bet she will be good at sports, like her daddy.

Maybe she will love to read as much as I do.

As soon as she is old enough, I can teach her to play an instrument.

For Priscilla Gilman and her husband, both literature scholars, that mold looked something like the romantic child from Wordsworth's poetry.  Considering the parents' background and temperaments, it seemed quite likely they would produce the next in a line of scholars, a child who would embody all the best qualities of the romantic idealization of childhood.

Just as nearly every expectant mother has had some glamorous notion of all the things our children will be, we have very likely all been struck with the realization that our dreams do not determine who our children will be.  It doesn't take long before our children defy our expectations, in one way or another. 

For Gilman, the realization that her first son, Benjamin, may not be the embodiment of the romantic child she imagined was only the beginning of the journey.  In candid and genuine prose interwoven with verses from her favorite poet, Gilman describes the difficult first years of Benj's life--the eccentricities he displayed from an early age, motor delays, unemotional temperament, etc.--and the growing awareness that her son was fundamentally different from other children his age.

This poignant memoir of a mother's journey through grief, acceptance, and celebration of her son's differences is truly "a story of unexpected joy" that will strike a chord with any parent.  I love that Gilman describes how she learned to lean on family and friends for support.  With a determined spirit, Gilman (and Benj's father, who remains very involved in his day-to-day life despite a divorce from Gilman) doggedly advocates for Benjamin's needs and does everything in her power to help him succeed.  What mother can't relate to that kind of love?

My favorite passage in the book comes not from Wordsworth, but from Gilman herself, in summing up her experiences with Benjamin:

...I have had to come to terms with the loss of my romantic vision, my idea of how my child, and my life, were going to be.  But out of the death of that dream has come a flourishing of amazing life.  Being Benj's mother has changed me profoundly, has made me more, rather than less, idealistic; more, rather than less, passionate; more, rather than less, creative...

In parenting Benj, I have gotten more in touch with a profound kind of romanticism; I have been given access to a transcendent sense of mystery and awe and wonder.

Isn't that what parenting is all about?


I received a copy of this book from the publisher and TLC Book Tours.  All opinions expressed are my own.


The concept of being a twin

Question:  How do you teach twins about the concept of being a twin?

What I mean is, how do twins learn they are different from other siblings?  Not in a super-special-twin-relationship kind of way.  I mean literally, how do you teach them what it means to be a twin?

I never thought much at all about this topic until well after the girls were born.  I think we hear so much about the "twin bond" that it's easy to forget they won't just know they are twins, together from the very beginning.  I know with my girls I very rarely use the word "twin", so I don't believe it even entered their vocabulary until the last several months.  Jeremy and I, along with most of our family and friends, refer to Addison and Mackenzie as "the girls" most often.

I know I have told them they grew in my tummy at the same time.  I have even pointed out which of them was positioned on each side of my tummy--which they think is hilarious.  I have told them they are twins and tried to explain it a little, but I really don't know if they get it yet.  I wonder now if they noticed that the kids in their MDO class don't have a sibling to hang out with at school?  (I watched the DVD of pictures from the school year, and I was a little surprised to see A & M together, or at least very near one another, in most of the playtime pictures.  It makes me happy, in a way, to see that they choose to play together.)

I know they realize that all babies don't come in a set of two.  Addison & Mackenzie have grown up with their buddy Wyatt from the very beginning.  He now has a little sister and I know they realize she is a baby and Wyatt is not.  But I don't know that they see any difference in their own situation.

Not that I mind any of this...really, I don't!  I never want to over-emphasize their twinship, or make my girls feel like they are just one of a "set".  I myself don't forget about the "twin" aspect at times, especially as they grow into their own little personalities and I try to figure out what each of them needs from me the most.  It's just interesting to think about them trying to learn the concept of being a multiple. 

It was only recently that I heard the girls use the term "twin" for the first time.  We were at a local airshow, checking out the rows of airplanes.  One of the girls pointed to a pair of planes (I can't even particularly remember if they looked alike or not) and said, "Hey, they're twins... Twin planes!" 

A few weeks ago, the girls were having trouble falling asleep at bedtime and each wanted me to rock them--separately.  They were crying brokenheartedly, one in my lap and one at my feet.  I pointed out that there was only one of me for the two of them, but they weren't really in the mood for rationality at the time.  Finally, I just scooped them both up and said "It's hard being a twin sometimes, isn't it?"  Poor little Mackenzie quickly agreed--yes, it's hard.

Incidents like that most certainly happen often even between siblings who are not twins, but sometimes I do feel bad that Addison & Mackenzie don't know what it's like to not share everything.  Being a twin is a concept that they probably will not fully understand for quite awhile.  And I'm sure there will be plenty of times when they feel like being a twin is unfair in some ways.  Regardless, I hope the benefits of their unique bond far outweigh any negatives, and I will do everything in my power to make sure that happens.

I mean, it takes a special bond to sleep like this, right?

Do your twins know they are twins?  How do you explain it to them?


Bye Bye Cribs!

Last week was not the best week for sleep in our house.  Addison & Mackenzie have been struggling with stuffy noses from allergies or a spring cold and were very whiny at bedtime.  Our bedtime routine has reached epic proportions lately, with tears and pleas for "one more story", "one more song", "rub my back", and "rock me!!!".

After one particularly stressful night this week, Jeremy and I began to tentatively discuss taking the front rail off the girls' cribs and turning them into toddler beds.  Our theory was along the lines of--hey, if we're going to try to change up the routine, let's just go all-out and REALLY change it.  I began to throw out the idea of "big girl beds" to the girls, emphasizing that they would have to be good at bedtime and show me they were ready before they could make the switch.

They responded well to the idea and quickly cleaned up their behavior when I reminded them they had to act like big girls to get to change their beds.  I also talked up the idea that once they were "big girls", we would sit together on one bed to read their stories, then I would rub each of their backs and put them to bed.  No more endless rocking and no more whining.  (Ha!  Okay, maybe a little LESS of those??)

On the spur of the moment Saturday morning, Jeremy got to work in A & M's room, removing the front rails of the cribs.  The girls were so excited and would hardly leave him alone to finish the job.  They immediately hopped up to try out their "big girl beds" and told us over and over how much they loved them.

After a busy Saturday with no naps, I knew bedtime could go one of two ways--easily, because they would be exhausted, or very badly because they were overtired.  Thankfully, it was a relatively easy night.  To my slight surprise, both girls stayed in their beds just fine and went right to sleep.

I couldn't resist sneaking in to take a blurry, middle-of-the-night picture:

First night in big girl bed

First night in big girl bed (May 19)


While we were out shopping on Saturday, I let the girls choose from a (presorted by me) selection of toddler bedding at Target.  They discarded my favorite choice and picked coordinating sets in two different colors.



I don't want to jinx anything, but so far, so good with the new arrangement.  The routine has gotten back on track and no one has fallen out of bed (yet?).  Though Addison in all her three-year-old spunkiness (more on that later...) has told me, "When you turn out the light, I am getting out of bed!", they have both stayed put so far.  It's a little funny that they still call for me in the morning, just like always, even though they are now perfectly capable of rolling out of bed on their own.  (NOT complaining!!!)

So, there we go...an unexpected weekend milestone.  Who decided these babies could grow up so quickly??? 


Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Quite often, I find myself liking a sequel more than the original book it succeeds.  Maybe I am more invested in the story or feel a deeper connection to the characters because I already know something about them?  For whatever reason, that is the case with Gayle Forman's Where She Went, which I related to a little better than its predecessor, If I Stay.

While I liked If I Stay, it was almost too emotional for me.  I had to keep backing away from the story because it was just so incredibly sad.  Where She Went, on the other hand, is the story of a much more manageable sadness.  There is tragedy in this book as well--the lingering tragedy of the accident that claimed Mia's family members three years prior and tragedy in the fact that Adam and Mia lost any semblance of the beautiful relationship they once had.  I can deal with the young-adult-heartbreak type of tragedy, which claimed more of the focus here.

I enjoyed seeing the older versions of Mia and Adam, although his "rock star" persona drove me crazy at times.  (I don't care much for any kind of rock star storyline, whether in fiction or in reality.)  I can't say I particularly liked Adam much at all through most of this book, but I did get caught up in the emotion of his narrative.  I enjoyed seeing things from his point of view, and I ended the book with hope that Adam would pull himself together and be awesome again.

This is a paid review for the BlogHer Book Club, but any and all opinions expressed are my own.  Find additional discussions and reviews related to Where She Went here.


A Day Out with Thomas

For Addison & Mackenzie's birthday, my mom bought tickets for A Day Out with Thomas at a nearby railroad depot.  This past weekend was the date we picked, and Jeremy and I had a great day hanging out with our girlies.

There was a life-sized working replica of Thomas the Train, which I totally neglected to get a picture of.  To be honest, though, A & M were just as enthralled with the posters, activities, and plain old passenger trains as with the actual Thomas.




There was a petting zoo with lots of goats, a rooster (??  never seen one of those in a petting zoo, and he really didn't look in the mood to be touched), a sheep, and a llama.  Addison loved the goats and probably would have stayed in there watching the animals for an hour or more if we didn't have to leave for our turn to ride the train.  Mackenzie liked the baby goats at first, but a big one pushed his head between us when she wasn't expecting it, which pretty much did her in on the petting experience.


The girls got to play their first-ever round of mini golf (or, okay, a hole and a half of mini golf!).


We boarded Thomas for our train ride and the girls were having a blast taking everything in.  Jeremy and I were excited to sit still for about 25 minutes!  A & M liked the train ride, but again, I think they enjoyed everything else there was to do even more.  We are thinking about taking a train in the fall to visit Auntie LJ in Louisiana, and from our experience Saturday, I think it would work out well.




After the train ride, we went back to the activities area to the music tent, which was by far the highlight of the girls' day.  The guy singing asked the kids to come up and grab an instrument to "help" him with his songs, and much to my surprise, Addison was all for it.  Mackenzie took a little nudging from me, but she followed her sister and really enjoyed it too.  They strummed little plastic guitars, banged a tambourine, and discovered the joys of playing the bongos.  I was SO proud of my sometimes-shy girls for jumping up there and joining the fun!




It was a great day for our little family, topped off with a spur-of-the-moment decision to eat at a good restaurant on the way home, instead of the fast food we initially intended.  Jeremy commented on the way home that he is thankful we are in a position to be able (financially and physically) to take the girls to do things like this.  I wholeheartedly agree...while I love lazy days at home, I also love taking the girls to make priceless family memories like these.


One last highlight of the weekend for me:  Both girls successfully used public restrooms several times this weekend!  While they have been potty trained for quite some time, the girls' modus operandi when we are out and about is just to hold it until they absolutely can't hold it anymore (which is a LONG time), then demand to go home immediately.  Which doesn't work so well when you're an hour and a half from home.  So hooray for public restroom progress!


I know this...why can't I do it?

First of all, I hope all my mama friends had a Happy Mother's Day!  I certainly did--Jeremy and the girls were super nice and gave me a pretty low-key, relaxing day.  We went to church, had lunch with our usual Sunday crowd (including my mom, of course!), then took relatively good naps.  Last night we went to Olive Garden with Jeremy's family.  After that, I got a trip to Target with NO complaining or rushing from anyone.  Score!  : )


So there has been an article going around this week, "Why the Campaign to Stop America's Obesity Crisis Keeps Failing".  The article is largely a rebuttal of sorts to some of the information presented in the upcoming HBO documentary The Weight of the Nation.  The author of the article, Gary Taubes, points out that the anti-obesity establishment largely touts the principle of energy imbalance as the reason we get fat.  At heart, the problem being that "we consume too many calories and expend too few".

Taubes's argument is that the establishment's theory "ignores" the implication of specific foods--namely refined sugars and grains--which have negative effects on the insulin hormone that regulates fat accumulation.  Simply put, not all calories are created equal, and those that come from refined sugars and grains are the most harmful.

And you know?  I KNOW THIS.  I've seen it in practice, when I was following the glycemic index meal plan while I was pregnant.  I started out with a few pounds to lose and only ended up gaining 26 pounds, most of which was comprised of babies and fluid.  I fully believe that it was because of the way I was eating that kept my weight in check, and the babies were able to use a lot of what I already had for their nutrition.

Now, I could be wrong on that whole theory about the babies using my "extra" weight, but I am certain I am not wrong about my diet keeping my weight under control.  After I had the girls, I continued to follow the glycemic index for the first several weeks.  Even when I slacked off a bit, I kept a lot of what I'd learned in mind and was able to keep my weight well below my pre-pregnancy number for quite some time.  

I can't pinpoint exactly when that all went out the window, but the scales and my body clearly reflect that it did.  Experience tells me that instead of drastically reducing my daily calorie intake and struggling to exercise more and more (which I could stand more of, sure, but that's not really the point here), the single best thing I could do for myself is to return to eating by the plan that I know works.  WHY AM I NOT DOING THIS?

I really have no answer to this question, except that it's hard sometimes.  Which kind of sums the whole thing up in one statement, because again, I know from experience that after awhile it's not nearly as hard to turn down those tempting desserts, the potatoes, or that basket of bread.  Well, okay, the bread is always a hard one for me, but it's a lot easier to do when I am seeing the results of those sacrifices.  But I have to start--really and truly start, not half-assing it the way I have been--to see a difference and therefore, keep my motivation going. 

So I guess this is my commitment anew to getting myself in gear and doing what I know needs to be done for myself and my health and my body.   I really am at pretty much an all-time low regarding my satisfaction with my body right now...no better time to start again, right?  

Here we go....


A few things making me happy right now...

  • The fact that I posted final grades for spring semester today.  I taught a new course this semester, so it was a busy one for me.  The next few should be much better, but I am most certainly looking forward to the break in the next couple of weeks.
  • A big stack of new books to read.  Since I've been reviewing for TLC Book Tours, I receive a book every week or so.  I love opening the mailbox to find a package waiting for me.
  • Spring clothes:  dresses, skirts, sandals...bring it on!
  • Veronica Mars on SoapNet.  I watched the first few episodes on Netflix several months ago, right up until they took it off the instant list.  I was HOOKED, and to say I was excited to see it again is an understatement.  Even Jeremy is hooked on it, and we are having a blast catching up on all the week's episodes every weekend.
  • My hilarious, goofy, noisy, and energetic girls.  They are SO funny lately; I feel like I should carry a notebook around 24/7 to record all the things they say.  Hanging out with them is the absolute highlight of my day.
And yes, today, this makes me very happy:

I know there are many who disagree, and I do understand some reservations, but at heart, this quote from President Obama sums up a lot of my feelings on the issue:

“The thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the golden rule — you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated,” he said. “And I think that’s what we try to impart to our kids, and that’s what motivates me as president.”  (Source)

For me, that's what it's all about.

What is making you happy this week?


New 'Dos

A couple of months ago, I took the girls to my hair stylist for their first "real" hair cut.  I had trimmed it at home a time or two, but they were excited about their first big-girl salon experience.  Despite being a little nervous, they loved it.  We only trimmed it a bit last time, barely even noticeable, but this time they were ready for something a little different.

We went for it and got the full, adorable, little-girl bob:

Mackenzie's haircut

Addison's haircut!

They are loving the new 'dos, and so am I!  I was afraid they would cry for a ponytail as soon as we cut it off, but so far, so good.

Their hair looks so much thicker since it was cut, and it seems it will keep a good bit of curl--probably like mine, just enough curl to make it difficult!  : )

Silly girls at lunch


State of Affairs, April Edition

Trips taken:  2
We went to the Nashville Zoo on Addison & Mackenzie's birthday, and had a great trip.  We look forward to a few more trips this summer, to make the most of our family pass!

In mid-April, Jeremy, my sister, and I went to Atlanta for the first of (hopefully) a couple of Braves games this year.  It was the home-opener weekend, so there was lots of excitement in the air and the place was packed.  We had some pretty great seats and best of all, the Braves won!


It wasn't a trip, but Jeremy and I dashed out for an impromptu matinee movie and dinner last weekend.  One of the many upsides of living near family is that someone is almost always willing/able to watch the girls on an hour's notice.  I am so glad our little town has a nice movie theater now, so there is actually something to DO on afternoons like that.

Books read2.5 (-ish)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets--LOVE.  What else can I say about Harry Potter?  (This one was finished from March.)

Survival Mom--Eh, not my cup of tea.  Reviewed here.

The Shoemaker's Wife--In case you missed my review earlier this week, I pretty much loved this book.  I will be reading more by Adriana Trigiani.

I started a couple of others this month, but I'm not sure I will stick with either of them.  Maybe May will be the month I stop reading anything I don't really enjoy. For reference, the books I started were The Gilly Salt Sisters (the one I'm most likely to finish), The Summer My Life Began (terrible, flat writing), and Fifty Shades of Gray (I am embarrassed to even admit that...I bought it on my Kindle to see what all the hype was about, and returned it for a refund a couple of hours later).

I just bought The Hunger Games soundtrack, which kind of makes me want to jump up and pretend I'm Katniss running through the forest.  The girls are still into the Fresh Beat Band, and I now know all of their songs by heart.  Sadly, I wake up with one of their songs stuck in my head at least a few times a week.

I have a slight obsession with this cover of Gotye's "Somebody I Used to Know".  I don't even know how many times I have watched it this month.

Not too much happening on this front this month, but Laura and I did make fabric headbands while she was home.  They turned out really cute, and I can imagine lots of possibilities for these.

 We are still talking/dreaming about house projects, but no finalized plans yet.  The goals for this month are to meet with a contractor to find out if what we want to do is feasible with our budget and get to the bank about financing options.

April was a busy month, with the girls' birthday, Easter celebrations, and taking every opportunity to enjoy the fantastic spring weather we've had.  We marked the one-year anniversary of the April 27 tornadoes (more on that soon), but the weather has been blessedly calmer so far this year.

Addison & Mackenzie got their first major haircuts this month.  They had a trim at the salon several weeks ago, but this time, we decided on a real cut.  The girls are both loving their new 'dos!

A & M gave up their pacifiers at the beginning of April.  It was a big deal and brought a few days of whining and crying, but I'm happy to report we are all back on track.  I'm so glad that milestone is behind us and we don't have to fight that fight again!

We were thankful to get to spend some time with Laura Jo this month.  She came up from Baton Rouge for the week following Easter.  We all miss her SO much, and can't wait to visit her soon...and hopefully to spend a week together at the beach in September.

The sister and me, from a couple of weeks ago
See any family resemblance??

How was your month?