She can read!

Literacy is a BIG DEAL in this house.

Hmmm, can't imagine why.

We've been in the emergent literacy phase with Sassafras for quite some time. What happens in this phase is complex but can be boiled down to this: learning letters and their sounds, understanding the way English reads (left-right, top-bottom, external parts of a book, turning pages, etc.). You don't have to have a degree in education to help your child with this...and it also doesn't have to be a total bore for either of you.

Want proof?

See? Easy. Have I done all of those with Sassafras? No, but we have done some. Montessori apps on the iPod Touch are my current favorites for encouraging her current stage of language acquisition.

Okay, so my "some" coupled with her ohsoprecious teacher's "a lot" has resulted in a wondrous thing.

My Sassafras can read. Mostly by herself, she can actually start and read a simple storybook from start to finish. Amazing.

We have reading homework pretty much every night, and no we don't get it done every night like we should. What can I say-we're still in that do what you can do and that has to be good enough adjustment stage. Actually, that adjustment stage is quickly becoming our way of life. The jury's still out on whether that is a good or a bad thing. I digress...

Some nights we actually get her book read three times so she can take a quiz on it the next day. I had been reading it to her, then reading it again with her repeating after me, then reading it a third time changing out some of the words in a silly way and letting her correct me, giggling all the while. One night I got a wild hair and said, You read it to me by yourself.

Me? All by myself? 

All by yourself. 

And she did. She tripped over a few words here and there, but she honest-to-goodness read the whole stinkin book all by her lonesome. I nearly wept, and fully realized that this was way bigger than just a proud mom moment. This was a defining moment in her life. Laugh all you want at the silly liberry lady but that quote from Frederick Douglass about how "Once you learn to read, you will be forever free," yeah, I live and breathe that.

Douglass meant it in the literal sense, that once a slave learned to read, he or she could then be free from being told what to think. Rather, they would have the ability to think, form opinions, analyze, and make decisions independently.

The Captain and I have some lofty aspirations for our girls, and their ability to think in this world is in the top tier. Literacy is a key to that.

Pardon me if I reach for the tissues when she reads a Biscuit book, for I know it's just a short step away from the day she is consuming and analyzing Scripture and literary classics.

The eldest


After dating for several years and another of being engaged, the Captain and I loved being married. We had a lot to figure out in terms of learning how the whole cohabitation thing worked, and still do. Those first few years were exciting as we not only learned how to be married but also explored our "new" city together. We had been married for about four years when we began to feel as though someone was missing.

Five years in before parenthood was always our goal, so we figured we had the timing worked out well. I had it all sorted out down to the month of conception. Our plan was perfect and infallible. <sarcastises>

Ten months later I was all but stomping my foot and shaking a fist at the sky. I left the hospital not with a bundle of joy, but rather a series of incisions and serious case of the sickies.

Five months later, we were in the midst of major home renovations (I guarantee you a story on that, and a good one.) and completing our application for adoption. Adoption was always something we wanted to pursue but honestly thought it would be long after biological children had come and grown older. We'd been presented our options by a specialist, and we didn't like any of them. One last test was taken to investigate possible causes for our infertility. (*Side note: don't you wish there was a Because God said so button in life that would flash up when something wasn't going your way?)

The application was prepared and was going in the mail the next day.

And then I was late.

Could it be? Nah. As if. That last test pretty much told us chances of this are very slim to absolutely none.

A few more days.

Maybe it could be?! No, don't get your hopes up. Don't do this to yourself again.

A week. Every day, hoping and wondering and praying for nausea.

Well, I guess it's worth $8 more for a preg test, just to put our minds and hearts at ease.

And there it was. After easily 50 tests, finally, there was another blue line. I literally fell on my face in thanks to God for His goodness and grace in entrusting us with a child. My tears and sobs made The Captain think it was a one-liner as usual, and he was waiting at the bathroom door to comfort me.

That moment, telling him he was a daddy, remains among my all-time favorites. 

The Captain didn't trust the one test, so as soon as the sun came up he flew to the nearest store for backups.

They had two blue lines, too.

It was one of the sweetest, most significant days of our life.

And just like that, there were three.

Way Back Wednesday

*Mommy Diaries, star date November 2010

What's Way Back Wednesday?

She saw me fall

 It took my body so long to hit the floor that I actually had time to consider a series of attempts to brace for impact. The living room area was kind of a wreck, and there were items scattered all over the floor. To my slick-bottomed Converse sneakers, it was a terrain of slippery land mines.

I was crossing the room, in a hurry to move something or pick something up or turn something on or turn something off (I don't even remember what I was doing), when my foot hit the bag of cherry pit warmers I had been using earlier for my aching back (one of the girls pulled them off the couch and had been playing with them).

Up in the air I went, feet, arms, legs, everything. Time literally stood still for a moment, and then my body slammed into the concrete floor with its paper thin layer of wood strips. My wrists and hip caught the brunt of the impact as I tried to catch myself from falling. As I caught my breath, and tried to gather my bearings, I looked over and saw that Sassafras had been watching the whole thing. Her tiny little jaw had dropped, and she stood there wide-eyed and stunned, just waiting to see if I was okay and what I would do next.

I examined my wrists, made sure everything moved alright, and slowly but surely regained my footing. Since I happen to bruise like a peach, all I could think was... THAT'S gonna leave a mark. And then I realized the significance of the moment.

Because my Sassafras was watching.

My Sass saw her mommy fall as hard as a mommy can fall. She saw me make a mistake, and she saw me get hurt because of that mistake. BUT, she also saw me get back up. I showed her my hands and explained to her that I was okay, but that Mommy should have been more careful. More importantly, that Mommy should have picked up the bag of cherry pits earlier and I wouldn't have slipped on them in the first place. Then we had a good laugh together, and she assured me that she would be informing The Captain about how Mommy fell down as soon as he got home from work.

I think one of the most powerful lessons our children can learn from us is how to recover from the big falls in life. From mistakes, from hurts, from disappointments. Forget putting our kids in a bubble or protecting them from everything that could ever go wrong, or even from cleaning up their messes and hiding their mistakes...they won't ever be able to function like a normal human being if they don't figure out how to handle failure. And most importantly, how to recover from it. My Sassafras saw me humiliate myself today when I hit that ground, but more importantly she saw me learning from my mistakes. I hope that we both remember this moment in our days to come when we both have blunders to learn and grow from...together!

What goes down...

As of late, Sassafras and Pearl have had some, er, issues on which we've been working. As part of the plan, Sassafras earned a reward of rather median magnitude. Her request entailed some special time with Mommy (yesplease) and a trip to Build-a-Bear (blurg).

One dreary Thursday afternoon, with the weight of a week awash with heres and theres and everywheres heavy on my shoulders, she came to me with proof she had held up her end of the bargain.

And because Mama means what she says and says what she means, I held up mine. Even though I would much rather have climbed in the warm bed with some mint tea and the heat pad set to scorching.

Thus, off we went to the land of the building of stuffed things, with our minds on a bunny and a bunny on our minds.

As we made our way into the mall and toward our desired destination, I stepped on the escalator and turned around to see Sass perched at the top, tepidly reaching her foot out and then withdrawing. She's wholly against hand-holding, but always compensates by sticking close. She wasn't close enough this time. Stair after metal stair spat out of the floor and I was carried away without her.

Come on, I told her, as my own feet descended on the moving staircase.

I can't, she replied. My shoes are too slippy.

You can do it, baby, come on, I repeated.

She froze.

So I did what any mama would do in that situation. I turned and started huffing it back up the stairs.

And yes, exactly what you think would happen, happened. I was climbing and climbing and climbing as quickly as I could, and of course not moving any closer to her whatsoever. A mama can't win against a moving staircase, especially not a big mama with a heavy bag, umbrella, and superlong dress tangling around my toes. To be true, I was fully aware that I wasn't going to make it back to her; I just wanted her to see me try. Surprisingly, I kept at it so long I'm certain there must be a YouTube video out there. It had to have been highly entertaining for other mall-goers as I made a blasted fool of myself trying to run up the escalator.

I knew I had been beaten, and gave in to the force of the people-mover. I held Sass's eyes as I sank toward the first floor.

Don't leave me, Mommy. 

Stay right there. I'm coming back up. 

Her nervousness turned to hysteria and then back to relief as I reached the very bottom and boarded the neighboring escalator going up. Despite our gathering audience (YouTube, I'm telling you), we had a quick hug and chat, and together we climbed on the down side again.

Her adventure must have had quite an effect, because the brown bunny on which she had so most assuredly set her heart actually became Jewel the Psychedelic Ballerina Teddy Bear. Before we left, we'd ridden those escalators four more times...but that's a story for another day.

She still wouldn't hold my hand, the stinker.

If You Send a Kid to Kindergarten...

If you send a kid to kindergarten,

she will need a new backpack, full of supplies.

When you pack her backpack, she will need a lunchbox full of healthy (in August) or maybe just edible (by February) fare.

When you go to the store to buy lunches, you will remember you need yet another box of plastic baggies for snacks.

As you pick up the plastic baggies, she will tell you that she needs to cut out pictures of orange things because tomorrow is another color day in her class.

When you get home and dig out some old magazines to cut out orange pictures, you will remember that she needs something orange to wear tomorrow, since it is going to be Orange Day.

When you go to wash something orange so that she'll have the right outfit to wear, you will see that her nap mat needs to be washed as well.

While you are taking her nap mat out to be washed, you will see her daily folder and find inside a flyer for a school fundraiser.

As you are writing a check for the school fundraiser, you will remember that she needs money in her lunch account.

When you go online to add lunch money to her account, you will remember that tomorrow is library day and she needs to return her book.

When you go to find her library book, you will find her list of sight words to practice.

As you are practicing her sight words for the weekly test, she will tell you this week they are doing DIBELS testing at school.

When you prod her over and over to tell you more about DIBELS testing, or really anything about her day or her friends, she will realize that her backpack is stuck outside the van door.

And if you drag her backpack along the highway outside the van door, chances are, you'll need to buy her a new backpack, full of supplies.

When you buy her the second backpack, full of supplies, that's when you'll know,

her kindergarten year is one you shall never forget. 

Little Old Sassafras on the 100th day of school. 

* was my original URL. Yes, it was sweet but rated horridly on the pronunciation scale.