Cilka’s Journey- A Book Review

By: Heather Morris

Cilka’s Journey is a sequel to the bestseller, The Tattooist of Auschwitz.  I have not read The Tattooist of Auschwitz, and I was a bit concerned that I would be confused reading Cilka’s Journey, but that was not the case at all.  This book stands on its own very well.  Heather Morris includes a bit of information about the characters from The Tattooist of Auschwitz.  These small details made me curious and interested in reading it.

I must admit, though, I won’t be jumping right into The Tattooist of Auschwitz anytime soon.  After reading such an emotional story, like Cilka’s Journey, I need to give myself some time to recoup before I dive into a similar story.  I usually like to follow that genre of book with a fun, light hearted and easy to read book.

What is the book about:

The book follows the life of a young Jewish Czechoslovakian woman named Cilka Klien, who is actually a real person.  Heather Morris, the author, explains that she uses the true story of Cilka Klein to inspire some aspects of the book. Therefore, this a historical fiction novel, not a biography.  However, that should not dismiss the events in the story because what she experienced did happen to many women during this terrible time in history.

We are first introduced to Cilka near the end of World War II when Auschwitz is liberated by the Red Army (the Soviet Union).  The Red Army soldiers liberate this camp on their march to Germany.  During this time, the Soviet Union, now under Joseph Stalin, had created “labour camps” all over Russia, mostly in the northern regions.  These camps were for political prisoners, people Stalin believed were betraying the communist state, and prisoners who had actually committed crimes.  When the Red Army arrived in Auschwitz, they began questioning the prisoners to find out more information about each of them.  The Red Army learn that Cilka had been a prisoner of the camp for many years and that she had sexual relations with some of the Nazi guards.  However, these sexual encounters were not consensual; the camp guards were raping Cilka.  This allowed for Cilka to survive all her years at Auschwitz.  For these reasons, astonishingly, Cilka is considered a Nazi collaborator by the Red Army and, therefore, an enemy to the Soviet Union. The Soviets are suspicious of prisoners who managed to stay alive in the camps, sadly suspecting many of them to be collaborators (to the Red Army, this is the only answer as to why they survived these camps). Therefore, she is sent directly from Auschwitz to the Soviet Union to complete a 15-year sentence of hard labour in the Vorkuta Gulag in Siberia.  She is pushed onto another train for her long journey from Auschwitz to northern Russia.  This train ride reminds her of the train ride she took many years prior to Auschwitz.

Once she arrives at the Gulag, she experiences many of the same events that she endured when she arrived in Auschwitz for the first time.  Cilka has become numb to humankind’s brutality and follows along with what is told and asked of her. Cilka’s only focus is to survive the Gulag camps just as she survived Auschwitz.

Most of the book is focused on Cilka’s time in the Vorkuta Gulag camp, but Morris also includes short memories Cilka has of Auschwitz to paint a picture of Cilka’s past.  These memories also show us how her experiences at Auschwitz influences her life at the Vorkuta Gulag camp.  It brings so much sadness knowing that this poor young woman endured such brutality at Auschwitz, and then to be forced to undergo more brutality at a new camp seems unimaginable.

Cilka’s time at Vorkuta is extremely difficult.  However, she meets many new people that end up playing a significant role in her life.  She learns a lot about herself and the courage and determination she has.  Every day she fights to survive and live, hoping to return to her home in Czechoslovakia one day.  

My thoughts on the book:

Heather Morris creates a captivating story about suffering, loss and love.  She writes with such detail that every scene seems to come to life; I felt that I could picture every part of the camp and how Cilka fits into it.  What is so incredibly moving about this story is how Morris shows you the courage of these characters, and although these are fictional characters, the reader knows that the real prisoners of the camp had to have the same resiliency if they had any hope of surviving.   Although there is so much evil and sadness throughout this story, Morris also includes incredible stories of heroism, compassion and tenderness.  I also like that it is focused on a topic that many people probably don’t know much about; it sheds light on another dark part of history.

Additionally, this book’s main events, the Gulag Camps, are a very familiar topic for me.  As a history major in university, I chose to write my mock thesis on the Soviet Union’s Gulags.  Therefore, I had an added interest in this book.  


Self Love Club Volume 2 – A Book Chat

I decided to write a post about Self Love Club Volume 2 before I actually fully finished it.  I did this for multiple reasons.  One is that this book is a collaboration of stories written by different women, focusing on their journey to self-love. Books like this, in my opinion, do not need to be read in one sitting.  I plan on picking up the book and reading different chapters from time to time.  Secondly, a very good friend of mine wrote one of the chapters of this book. I truly feel her story needs to be heard, especially by other moms who have similar experiences.  She wrote her chapter on the unexpected struggles she faced during her first journey to motherhood.  

Early on in her pregnancy, she learned that her baby was going to have some heart complications and most likely would need a heart surgery once it was born. This was obviously devastating news for her and she describes what she feels when hearing this news, her fear throughout her pregnancy and then her time at the NICU with her new baby girl.  I should also mention, her beautiful daughter goes home eventually but the whole process was not at all what Lisa had always envisioned for her first pregnancy.  It is an incredible story of courage and resilience and I think it is important that women who encounter similar situations have stories like this to bring them comfort.

I hope you take the time to read this book!


The Bad Mothers Book Club- My Book Review

By Keris Stainton

This is another great mom read; I highly recommend it!

What is the story about?

The Bad Mothers’ Book Club is a fictional story about a group of mothers but focuses mostly on following the life of Emma Chance.  Emma and her husband, Paul, have two young children.   They have decided to move their family out of the city and into a smaller town.  Keris Stainton begins the book in Emma’s kitchen the morning before the first day of school.  The first day of drop off does not go well for Emma, but we get a glimpse into Emma’s personality.  As days progress and drop-offs continue, she begins talking and meeting new moms.  She finds out that there is one woman named Jools, who seems to run the town.  Jools also holds an exclusive book club for only some moms from the neighbourhood school.  From the outside, Jools seems like a very mean and egotistical woman, but, as the story continues, you see the struggles Jools is experiencing. 

A few chapters of the book are dedicated to some of the other moms Emma meets.  These women and their stories slowly intertwine with Emma’s.  Jools is one of the moms we learn more about; her story is very moving and emotional.  When Emma uncovers Jools’ secret, things between Jools and Emma completely change.  Maggie is another mom whose story is featured in a few chapters. Maggie’s story adds in another layer focusing on love, new love and the importance of loving yourself. 

One thing I should also note, the book barely includes any book club meetings.  The title is a bit misleading.  The Bad Mothers Book Club doesn’t even come up until the last few chapters.

My thoughts on the book…

This book will make you laugh, it will make you cry, and it will remind you that you are not alone in your motherhood journey. Emmas’ story shows the struggles she is experiencing as a stay at home mom, her absolute love for her children, the highs and lows of her marriage, and so much more. It was interesting reading about her insecurities as a mother, or the insecurities she began to feel as a wife.  I am sure these feelings have been experienced by mothers everywhere. 

As mentioned above, the book also focuses a few of its chapters on the other moms Emma meets.  I think Stainton does this for multiple reasons, one, to show the readers different motherly perspectives and two, to show how much people go through behind closed doors.  One of the most important lessons in this book is to remind ourselves that how someone appears on the outside is often very different from how they feel on the inside. 

I enjoyed this book, and if you are looking for an easy, quick, and fun read, this book is for you!

About the Author:

Keris Stainton is a best selling author who has written over 14 books. The genres she writes in include adult, romcoms and young adult. She is Canadian born but now lives in England with her two boys.

Some other books by Keris Stainton:

The One That Got Away 

The One who’s NOT the One

All I want for Christmas


City of Girls – Book Review

Book by: Elizabeth Gilbert

My Rating: 3/5 Stars — Genre: Romance, Historical Fiction, Adult Fiction — N. of Pages: 496

What was this story about:

City of Girls is written as one long letter.  A woman named Angela asks Vivian Morris, the main character, to explain Vivian’s relationship with Angela’s father. Vivian responds to this letter with the story of her life beginning at age 19.

Vivian Morris is from a wealthy family who lived in the suburbs a couple of hours away from New York City.  Vivian is a lost teenager when we meet her; she specifically calls herself “an idiot” at the beginning of chapter one. She fails out of college and needs to return home to her disappointed parents.  Her parents are at a loss as to what to do with their teenage daughter, who doesn’t seem to fit in in the high society surrounding her and is not academically successful.  They decide to send Vivian to live with her Aunt Peg in New York City. Therefore, in 1940 Vivian Morris gets onto the train and heads to New York City. 

Aunt Peg lives and owns a theatre in a poor neighbourhood in New York City.  The theatre is not in good shape and is not really in the centre of the ritz and glamour of theatre in New York City, but Vivian loves it! Vivian is in amazement of The Lily Playhouse, Aunt Peg’s theatre.  She is impressed and fascinated by the showgirls, the dancers, the actors, the play writers and everyone else involved in this theatre. Aunt Peg discovers Vivian’s sewing skills and asks Vivian to be the seamstress for the theatre.  She then becomes consumed with making, fixing and purchasing fabrics for the costumes in the plays.  This is when she begins to create friendships with the showgirls, specifically Celia.  Celia is a beautiful showgirl who seems to take a liking to Vivian.  Celia teaches Vivian how to showcase her beauty, go out in New York City, and have sex with lots of men.   Vivian adapts this new way of life and thrives in it, until one horrible night where she makes a mistake that will derail the life she built and loved in New York City at the Lily Playhouse. 

After a brief return to her parents’ house and a pivotal interaction with her brother, Walter, who is about to go to war, she eventually returns to New York City with Aunt Peg.   She returns to New York City to help her Aunt Peg with a new theatre job supporting the war effort.  This is where we begin to see Vivian’s character mature a bit and better understand who she is. 

My thoughts on the book

What I liked:

I loved the description of New York City in the 1940s.  The glamour, the parties, the social scene all were described perfectly.  I have only been to New York City once, during Christmas time, and I loved it, but it seemed even more amazing how Gilbert told it.

I also loved the fun and excitement that was described in theatre life at the Lily Playhouse.  It seemed like such a fun place to work and live.  Most importantly, the characters who lived and worked at the Lily Playhouse were all interesting in their own way.

The relationships that Vivian made with the other characters were the best part of this book.  There was something Vivian learned from every person that came into her life.  Sometimes people came into her life for a brief moment, and sometimes she created lasting friendships with people she grew to love.  However, it was clear that every relationship, whether long or short, played a role in creating who Vivian Morris was.  I have always believed that everyone who comes into your life plays a role.  It could be a brief one, someone you enjoy at that time, or a life long friendship. I feel this was one of the most critical messages from City of Girls.

What I didn’t like:

Unfortunately, there was quite a bit that I didn’t like about this book. Vivian’s character was just not that interesting.  I feel she lacked depth, excitement and maturity.  I was more interested in the characters around her; then I was in her story.  About halfway through the book, I realized I didn’t care what happened to Vivian’s character, and I found her kind of annoying.  Her character growth was so focused on her sex life that it became redundant to keep reading about. Vivian’s central character trait seemed to only be about her love for sex, and it is tough to keep the book interesting when you’re solely focused on that.  At the beginning of the book, I found Vivian to be extraordinarily naive, but that never seemed to go away, even as she grew older.  She got herself into dangerous situations with men but, for some reason, never really learned from these experiences; what’s worse, she never seemed to care.  I knew pretty early on that I wouldn’t love this book, but I was able to keep reading based on the character development of the people around Vivian.  The book is also very long, and it seems it could have been summed up in far fewer pages. It was also challenging to keep reading when the main character seemed to lack depth.   

If you have read this book, what are your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree with my comments?


How to Stay Sane in an Age of Division – Book Review

Author: Elif Shafak — My Rating: 5/5 — Genre: Current Events, Non Fiction — N. of Pages: 90

This is a very short read but an important one.  I find that in today’s world of division it is sometimes hard to see where you fit.  To see where your ideas, values and opinions meet.  Society focuses on the “us vs them” narrative leaving little room for people in the middle. How to Stay Sane in an Age of Division by Elif Shafak encourages people of all different opinions to communicate. 

This book was very recently published, so recent, that it includes commentary on the current protests in the United States and the ongoing global pandemic- COVID.  I recommend everyone read this book, in hopes that it will underline the importance of understanding the views of others.

Since this book is short, I will not detail what it is about (the title gives the plot away anyway!).  Instead, I will list below the quotes that impacted me the most.

Book Quotes:

Part 1: Introduction

“We are made of stories — those that have happened, those that are still happening at this moment in time and those that are shaped purely in our imagination through words, images, dreams and an endless sense of wonder about the world around us and how it works.  Unvarnished truths, innermost reflections, fragments of memory, wounds unhealed.  Not to be able to tell your story, to be silenced and shut out, therefore, is to be dehumanized.  It strikes at your sanity, the validity of your version of events.  It creates a profound, and existential anxiety in us.” (page 9)

“… when you feel alone don’t look within, look out and look beyond for others who feel the same way, for there are always others, and if you connect with them and with their story, you will be able to see everything in a new light.” (page 14)

“The moment we stop listening to diverse opinions is also when we stop learning.  Because the truth is we don’t learn much from the sameness and monotony.  We usually learn from differences.” (page 16)

Part 2: Disillusionment and Bewilderment 

“Whether in public or digital spaced nuanced debates are not welcome anymore. ”  (page 29)

“In the aftermath of the pandemic fewer tourists will be able to take overseas trips, fewer international students will apply, and fewer immigrant workers will be welcomed.  It worries me immensely, seeing the walls rise higher and higher.” (page 45)

Part 5: Apathy

“When we are indifferent, disconnected, atomized.  Too busy with our own lives to care about others.  Uninterested in and unmoved by someone else’s pain.  That is the most dangerous emotion —  the lack of emotion.” (page 77)

“One of the greatest paradoxes of our times is the hardliners are more passionate, engaged and involved than many moderates.  When we do not engage in civil discourse and public space, we become increasingly isolated and disconnected, thereby breeding apathy.” (page 77)

Part 6: Information, Knowledge, Wisdom

“Perhaps in an era when everything is in constant flux, in order to be more sane, we need a blend of conscious optimism and creative pessimism.” (page 87)

“It is natural to seek out a collegial and congenial group who will reinforce our core values and primary goals, and bring us closer to the stories we want to hear and prioritize.  That can be a good starting point but it cannot be the entire destination.” (page 89)

About the Author:

Elif Sharak is a British – Turkish author, that has published 17 books.  She advocates for women’s rights, minority rights and free speech.  Sharak is a founding member of the European Council of Foreign Affairs.  She has also spoken at TED Global.

Other books she has published: 

10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World 

Three Daughters of Eve

The Forty Rules of Love 


Beautiful Bookstores of Switzerland

When I moved to Switzerland, one of the first things I did was visit all the bookstores near me. It was a bit intimidating at first knowing these stores would mostly (or only) sell German books but, I had to take a tour anyway. To my surprise and delight, many of the bookstores in the area sold English books! Most of the shops seem to be small family-run businesses in Switzerland, which added a layer of charm to these bookstores. 

Below are some of the small bookstores that I have explored around my home in Switzerland:

The Travel Book Shop

This is one of the most unique bookstores in Switzerland because it features one primary genre: Travel. From fiction to non-fiction, all the books in this store have to relate to travel. This shop also sells old and new maps of places all over the world. They have some antique maps on display that were quite beautiful.

Buchhandlung Beer & Co.

This bookstore is laid out more recognizably. Most of the aisles are coordinated between fiction and non-fiction. A small section near the back features English books. Once I began scanning the titles, I noticed pretty quickly that they were a bit different. I barely recognized any of them. It seems this shop focuses on books centred around Anthroposophy, a philosophy which was created in the 20th century by Rudolf Steiner. This would explain why the authors were not familiar to me. Beer & Co. is a fascinating shop to visit and explore.

Peter Bichsel Antiquariat/Peter Bichsel Fine Books

Visiting this bookstore is like stepping back into history. Peter Bichsel Fine Books sells fine/antique books. Some of them date back to the 15th century! As a history buff, this fascinates me. They look so delicate, fragile and exceptional. The old fashion step ladder in the center of the store added more charm to this little space. Although I do not dare touch any of the books, I explore each aisle and love viewing all the featured titles. This is a beautiful bookstore.

Pile of Books

Pile of Books is the only all English bookstore in Zurich (maybe all of Switzerland?). This shop features all the recognizable authors and bestsellers. For English speakers like myself, Pile of Books suits my needs the most, while also keeping the appeal of a small European bookstore.

Hirschmatt Buchhandlung

This bookstore has a fabulous selection of German books from all different genres. Their English section is pretty small, but they have an online store you can order from. Although this is a pretty small shop, they have managed to squeeze in many aisles. Hirschmatt offers the coziness of a small shop but with an extensive book catalogue.

What are some of your favourite bookstores?

Download an eBook today AbeBooks.co.uk - Used, rare and out-of-print books


Beach Read – Book Review

My Review: 5/5 — Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Adult Fiction — N. of Pages: 361

“…when the world felt dark and scary, love could whisk you off to go dancing; laughter could take some of the pain away; beauty could punch holes in your fear.  I decided then that my life would be full of all three.” (Henry, 3)

I want to start by saying I do not like the title of this book; it does not do this book justice AT ALL. I’m not sure why the author chose this title because it also doesn’t seem to connect to either character.  That being said, the title is literally the only negative thing I can say about this book.  Beach Read by Emily Henry was simply amazing. 

I came across this book at a local bookstore in Switzerland.  They had a small English section near the back.  I saw Beach Read perked up on display broadcasted as a new read.  I almost ignored it because of the title.  However, once I looked into the reviews, they were all fantastic! I was on a hunt for a funny, easy read, and this seemed to match perfectly.  I am so glad I picked up this book, it was exhilarating from beginning to end.

What is the book about?

This book centers around two characters, Augustus Everett (nicknamed Gus) and January Andrews. The book is narrated by January. It is set in the summertime in a small lake town called North Bear Shores.  Gus and January are both staying in cabins next door to one another.  January is visiting this cabin for the first time and stumbles upon her neighbour, Gus Everett.  January realizes that she recognizes her neighbour Gus from her college years, she remembers that he often was rude to her, but she always had a small crush on him.  She always felt like they competed with each other, even after college, when they became published authors.  When Gus and January first stumble upon each other outside of their cabins, their interaction does not go well.  Gus is visibly angry about something, and January is mad with the way he is speaking to her.

As time progresses, Gus and January find themselves continually running into each other; they realize later on that the town people may have had something to do with that.   They eventually form a friendship with one another, becoming more and more fond of each other.  Their relationship challenges both of them to come outside of themselves in different ways. This book is a story of grief, love, laughter and acceptance.  It is so much more than just a ‘rom-com’.

My review…

I think you can already tell how much I love this book.  The book made me cry, made me laugh and made me yearn for the characters to fall in love.  Henry’s writing is so detailed that although I knew these characters were not real, I found myself genuinely caring about them.  She shows how different these two characters are, but she also makes you feel like they belong together. The smart, sarcastic way the characters communicate is so entertaining.  The heartwarming story she forms around January and Gus is tantalizing.  As well, the father-daughter relationship that January is trying to figure out is heartbreaking. Simultaneously, the reader is trying to understand Gus’s tortured past with his father. I did not want this book to end; I was incredibly sad when it was over.  Emily Henry knows precisely how to captivate her audience. I had never read anything by Emily Henry before but, I have already ordered another one of her books!

More books by Emily Henry:

The Love that Split the World 
When the Sky Fell on Splendor 
A Million Junes
People we Meet on Vacation (will be released May 2021)


The Dutch House- Book Review

My Review: 3.5/5 Stars – Genre: Historical Fiction, Family, Contemporary – N. of Pages: 337

Why I chose to read this book…

I had seen The Dutch House by Ann Patchett on display at many of the bookstores I was visiting. It is also considered a historical fiction novel, which always entices me. The book is very positively reviewed. For all these reasons, I decided to read The Dutch House.

A little bit about the book…

The book centers around a large estate in Philadelphia nicknamed The Dutch House. The interior of the home is decorated with large painted portraits of past residents and covered with embellishments compared to the Palace of Versailles. The inhabitants of The Dutch House are the Conroys. The book follows a brother and sister, Danny and Meave Conroy; Danny narrates their story. Patchett divides her book into three parts.

Part one focuses on the Conroy siblings’ childhood and their introduction to their soon to be stepmother, Andrea. Readers get a glimpse into what it would have been like growing up in the Dutch House through the perspectives of Danny and Meave. The house is especially important to their father, Cyril, who looses his first wife due to his blind love for the home. Eventually, Andrea and her two daughters move into The Dutch House, and it becomes increasingly obvious things will be changing. Some catastrophic events follow for the Conroy family, and by the end of part one, the siblings have lost The Dutch House and need to rebuild their lives elsewhere.

Part two begins with Danny returning home from college for Thanksgiving. Home is now a small apartment that Maeve lives in. Patchett paints a clear picture of how the siblings, especially Maeve, live without The Dutch House. Maeve has a steady job she likes, and Danny is studying in Medical School even though he doesn’t want to be a doctor. The siblings always feel this urge to go back and visit The Dutch House. They look from a distance and talk about what life in the house would be like now. Danny’s life seems to move on from the house; he goes to school meets a woman, gets married and has children. In contrast, Meave’s life does not seem to change as the years pass. After a close encounter with Andrea, part two ends with the siblings vowing never to revisit the house.

Part three began with some trouble for Meave, which sent Danny into a whirlwind of emotions. This event also brings back an old family member that Danny isn’t ready to accept back into his life. Part three follows how the siblings deal with the return of this family member. It also focuses on Danny’s experience as a father and husband. The ending is quite moving and has a couple surprises.

The central theme of the book…

One of the most dominant messages of the book was the power of love. You see this in the relationships that are formed, kept and treasured among family and friends. The love that Maeve and Danny have for one another is a perfect example. We also see this with their love for their childhood nannies, for their father, and all the new characters throughout the book. The power of love is shown from the beginning of the book through to the end. The different relationships that are formed in the book are what interested me the most.

My thoughts on the book…

My overall thoughts are that it is a good story about the lives of two siblings and their broken family. Ann Patchett is a skilled writer and makes the characters of her book come to life. However, I did find the book a bit predictable, which didn’t allow for much excitement or intrigue. It also seemed that Patchett added a bit too many unnecessary details that made the book a bit too long.

Other books by the Author:
The Patron Saint of Liars
The Magician’s Assistant
Bel Canto
Run
State of Wonder
Commonwealth


My First Week Potty Training my 2-Year-Old

*The picture above is what my bathroom looked like after Day 1*

If you haven’t read any of my previous posts, I want to mention that I read Jamie Glowacki’s book, Oh Crap! Potty Training and followed that method to potty train my daughter.

Day 1

I went into day one very anxious and nervous about how the day would go. I knew I had to be watching her every move, all day, and I had to keep her entertained inside. My daughter loves to be outside, so I knew trapping her in the apartment would be challenging. I can also admit I find it very demanding hanging out with a toddler ALL DAY. What was of greater importance, though, was how she would handle this change. Would she resist it? Would it take her a while to register the need for the toilet, or would she do well? I really had no idea. I did know that I had to be prepared for the worst, just in case.

I am happy to report my daughter did very well today! I followed the direction Glowacki laid out for Block One of her method. My daughter didn’t mind being naked all day; I think she kind of loved it. She, of course, had a couple of accidents, but for the most part, she would give a signal that she had to go pee and would hold it until she got to the bathroom! I really thought it would take her a couple of days before she would get poop in the toilet, but she even surprised me here. She said poo poo ran to the bathroom and tried to push it out, but nothing came out, this happened 3 times. By the 4th time, she had pooped successfully in the toilet! I did a happy dance.

She far exceeded my expectations of the day. Although this excites me, I am making sure not to get too ahead of myself because, as Glowacki points out, many children do well in the first block, but it’s the second block that seems to cause the most difficulty.

There are some things that I did a bit differently then Glowacki laid out. For the first pee of the day, I did sit her on the potty for a while, hoping she would pee. This was a bit of a challenge, and my daughter did not like sitting there. She did pee eventually. For the rest of the day, I followed Glowacki’s plan to allow my daughter to either begin to pee herself or make a signal to pee before I brought her to the toilet. Admittedly this did seem to work out better. As well, I did not use a potty. I used the toddler toilet insert with steps, that you see in the image above (I will include a link below). My daughter did well with this; she climbed up to the toilet herself and sat well on the insert. 

I had many reasons for choosing this toddler toilet, one being that I didn’t want her to get used to the potty and then go through another teaching process to get her on the toilet and two if we are out in public or at someones home the big toilet is the only thing she will have.

There are some things that didn’t go exactly as planned. For one, my daughter thought it was fun to say uh oh and run to the bathroom, so by the end of the day, this was happening every 3-5 min, and obviously, she didn’t have to go each time. I wasn’t sure how to handle this, so I decided it was best to go with her each time and if she did nothing, just walk away from the bathroom. I tried to make it an uneventful experience so she wouldn’t keep wanting to go back. For some reason, she loves washing her hands, so I wouldn’t let her wash her hands unless she actually peed or pooped. I am interested to see if this continues tomorrow.

Lastly, I found it difficult to entertain my daughter in our apartment, ALL DAY, so I often turned to Netflix… don’t be ashamed if you have to too. My daughter learned something new today, regardless of how much TV she watched!

Day 2

Before I get started detailing my 2nd day of potty training, I wanted to mention that after yesterday I was a bit concerned about my daughter always wanting to go to the bathroom.  I decided to email Jamie Glowacki about it and see if she had any helpful tips.  I wasn’t expecting a prompt response as I am sure she is a very busy person.  I also thought she might not be keen to assist me without signing up for one of her programs (which I would understand; we all have to make money somehow).  However she really surprised me, she responded to me immediately and she never mentioned any of her paid courses! She showed me she really cares and this made me more confident about choosing her method to potty train my daughter.  

Day 2- Beginning Block Two

Glowacki reminds her readers that moving from one block to another is not counted by days.  You can spend many days on each block; it is all about the signs you are getting from your child as they learn to use the potty.  My husband and I felt that our daughter was ready for Block Two on day 2 (we checked the checklist in the book, and our daughter checked all the boxes).  

Block Two introduced clothing to our potty training toddler.  They go from being naked all day (block one) to now wearing clothing.  As Glowacki recommends, we did not put underwear on our daughter during this stage.  When my daughter woke up, we took off her nighttime diaper and took her to the potty for the morning pee, which she did! Then afterwards we told her it was time to put clothes on and we dressed her for the day.  

The clothes did not seem to bother my daughter; she pretty much followed the same pattern as yesterday.  She would mostly give the signal to go potty or pee herself a bit then hold it until I got her to the toilet. It didn’t seem like the clothing changed anything at all! When she woke up from her nap, and I took off her diaper.  Her diaper was pretty dry, which hopefully means she’s also learning to try and hold her pee during sleep (we won’t be night training her anytime soon).  We continued to stay home for the rest of the day, and she continued to go to the bathroom.  She only had one small accident today!

I have to mention that my husband and I got a bit too confident in our daughter and watched her less carefully today.  When I was cleaning up later on in the day, I found a puddle in her playroom.  This could have easily been water from her cup, or it could have been pee.  We tried to smell it or figure out if it was pee but, we couldn’t tell.  Therefore, she may have had an accident.  We were disappointed in ourselves because if we just watched her a bit more, we would know if it was an accident or not.   If it was an accident, it was our fault, not hers.  Regardless of this, we took today as a massive success for her.  Tomorrow we will continue Block Two with short outings. We all can’t wait to get out of the house! 

Day 3

Today was a big day; not only were we going to get out of the house, but we also decided to introduce underwear to our daughter.  I know Glowacki emphasizes not to do this for at least a couple weeks, but we decided we had to. Firstly, it is summer right now, and my daughter loves playing in the sand, and her shorts do not fully cover her.  I was worried she would get upset with all the sand in her shorts.  Secondly, we have her 2-year-old check-up tomorrow, and I don’t think the doctor’s office would appreciate her coming in without underwear.  Lastly, her daycare did not seem very happy with her not wearing underwear or a diaper.  For all these reasons, I thought it only made sense to introduce underwear to her now.

When we showed her the underwear, we called them “big girl undies.”  We gave them to her right when we threw out her diaper.  Right after putting them on, we also reinforced the idea of the toilet. I am happy to say she followed the same routine as yesterday and continued to pee in the bathroom.  

Today we finally went outside!  In the morning we went to the park, and in the afternoon we went to the beach.  I am trying to get her into the rhythm of going to the bathroom before leaving the house but, she is reluctant to go unless she has to.  Very grudgingly, she went to the toilet before our first outing but refused before leaving for the beach in the afternoon.  I may try to just wait for a pee before going out if this continues.  

When we got to the park, we followed Glowacki’s suggestion to show her where the public washrooms were.  We also brought a potty in case the public bathroom freaked her out but, we didn’t show it to her.  She had no accidents in the park, and she didn’t need to go to the bathroom at all.

After her nap, we got ready to go to the beach.  We brought the potty with us (I pictured us having to take her swimsuit off to let her pee just like Glowacki mentioned but, I was also okay with her just peeing in the water).   On our walk over, she looked up at us and said, “uh oh poo-poo,” so we stopped in the middle of the street, took out her potty, and she went pee.  We both laughed at the sight of it but, it worked! Once we got to the beach, she played in the water, no mention of the potty, and after about an hour, we left to go home.  No potty stop on our way home, my guess is she peed in the water.

Once she got home, she got back into her routine of going to the bathroom when she needed to pee. She had no accidents today!! However, this is the second day in a row she has not gone poop in the toilet.  Yesterday she didn’t poop at all, and today she went poop during her nap.  Glowacki says this is normal, and she will go poo in the toilet again when she’s comfortable. 

Day 3 was a success! 

Day 4

I wanted to try and have a typical day today to see how my daughter would do.  

In the morning, she went to the bathroom before leaving the house for her doctor’s appointment.  I brought the potty to the car but did not bring it into the doctor’s office.  

When we got to the office, I took my daughter straight to the bathroom, and she had no problem using the toilet. The doctor was also a bit backed up, so I knew we would be spending more time in the office then I had planned.  We were there for about 2 hours.  She used the bathroom a couple more times while we were there, and she had no accidents! 

When we got back home, she continued her pattern as before.  However, right before her nap, she went to the bathroom, peed a bit, but then got up as though she was finished.  She wasn’t and continued to pee on the floor.  She said uh oh and sat back down, but she had nothing left at that point.  This was a bit worrying because I feel like she tries to rush herself when she is peeing.  I try to get her to wait and sit on the toilet until she is entirely done but, she doesn’t like to sit there.  

The rest of the day went pretty well until about an hour before bedtime.  She wasn’t in the best mood and seemed a bit bored.  She then began to pee herself while saying, uh oh.  She stopped, and I rushed her to the bathroom, and she peed a bit more in the toilet.  This was a bit of an odd accident; I was cooking while it happened, and I worry she was trying to get my attention by peeing.  I hope this isn’t the case, and we will see how she does tomorrow at daycare.

Day 5

Today I brought my daughter to her first day of daycare since beginning potty training.  Luckily, my daycare was very supportive of this transition and assured me they would make sure she often gets to the bathroom and is only wearing underwear throughout the day (except nap time).  I was a bit worried about how the day would go.  My daughter loves daycare; she loves playing with the other kids, eating with her friends, and so much more.  I was worried she would forget about the potty or she just wouldn’t want to go due to all the fun she is having.

Unfortunately, my daughter did not do well at daycare.  She had three accidents, two times peed her pants and once pooped in her pants.  I was a bit disappointed by this.   My daycare was very supportive.  They felt that she did very well regardless of the accidents.   Each time the accident happened, she brought it to the teacher’s attention and was taken to the toilet to continue peeing.  When she began to poop herself, she also told the teachers, but by the time they got her to the bathroom, she had already pooped in her underwear.  Hopefully, tomorrow will be better.

Luckily once she got home, she got back into her routine and used the toilet to go pee.  However, we are noticing that she doesn’t really want to go to the bathroom anymore.  In the beginning, it was a fun new game that excited her, but now it’s not as fun anymore, and I’m beginning to see some resistance.  Hopefully, this doesn’t last!

Day 5 was not a great day, but I am staying optimistic that tomorrow will be better!

Day 6

My daughter woke up a bit early today, which was a bit difficult to manage with her potty time. She went pee right when she woke up, but then when we were leaving for daycare, about 45 min later, she refused to go again.  Luckily, she made it to daycare with no accidents.  The moment we got to daycare, I took her to the bathroom, and she peed.

My daughter did very well for most of the day at daycare.  She peed and even pooped in the toilet.  However, after she woke up from her nap, they went outside and then she seemed reluctant to use the bathroom again.  Her daycare teachers took her, but she didn’t do anything, only to have her pee herself 10min later.  They told me she peed herself three times within 30min.  I am worried that she will now think it is okay to pee outside.  I hope this was just a little bump in the road, and this doesn’t continue every time she’s playing outside.

On our way home from daycare, she peed in the car seat, which she has never done.  It was all bizarre, and it made me feel a bit discouraged about her progress.

Luckily, when she got home, she continued in her routine.

Day six did not go as well as I hoped but, tomorrow is day 3 of daycare and day 7 of potty training, so crossing my fingers tomorrow is a good day!

Day 7

Today was my daughter’s last day of daycare for the week.  I am excited to report that she only had one accident at daycare! She went to the bathroom almost every time she had to pee.  This is so much better than her first couple days at daycare, and I think this will continue to improve the more accustomed to toilets she becomes.  

She also did pretty well when she was home; she only had one accident close to bedtime. As she began to pee herself, she stopped to continue peeing in the toilet. This shows me my daughter at least knows she shouldn’t be peeing outside of the bathroom. 

She only had two accidents today, and I am very happy about that.

My Final Thoughts…

I loved using Glowacki’s method for potty training.  I think it has worked very well for our toddler. I recommend her book, Oh Crap! Potty Training to all parents about to take on this new learning experience.

I must admit, this has been a very challenging week.  I felt mentally drained at the end of each day.  Additionally, there was added tension between my husband and me as we both try to maneuver this new challenge.   Luckily, my husband read Glowacki’s book, so we agreed on most aspects of how to support our daughter.   It was exhausting for us both, and it was especially exhausting for our daughter. However, we are thrilled that we started this journey, and we know now that the hardest part (we hope at least) is behind us.  

Whenever you decide to take on this new task with your toddler, it will bring challenges, but it also brings out a whole new side to your child.  Observing this new toddler emerge is pretty amazing.  Sadly seeing her in underwear does signify the ending of her baby stage but, we’re so excited to see what’s in store for us in this next chapter of our daughters growth.

I hope my journey potty training my daughter will help you when you decided to embark on this new adventure.  If you have any questions or comments, please write them below. 


Educated- Book Review

My Rating: 5/5 – Genre: Memoir, Nonfiction — N. of Pages: 334

How I came across this book:

I had seen this book on many bookshelves for a while. Every time I read the summary, truthfully, I just wasn’t that interested. I thought I’d heard this story before, a brainwashing family keeping their children trapped by not educating them, ; been there, heard that. Despite my disinterest, something kept drawing me back to the to its cover! I don’t know what it was, but I finally caved. After digging into the first few pages, I started kicking myself. This book is awesome. What was I waiting for?

My Review and what I learned from the book:

Educated by Tara Westover is a remarkable memoir about a Morman family living in Idaho. Each chapter entangles you deeper into her story. It follows Westover’s family life living in their farm house by the mountains.  You see the complexity of the life they lived following their father’s strict interpretation of Mormonism.  She details the physical and psychological abuse she endures from her brother, during her teenage years.  Then we read about the beginning of her exodus from her family as she chooses to go to college and leave home.  Her seclusion from the world is then magnified in college when she learns about world events that she had never heard of, like the Holocaust. In the end you follow her through the final stages of her excommunication from her family.   I kept reading, hoping that things would get better for Tara and her family; I was hoping that something would be done about her brother. Westover keeps you holding on to hope, the same way she holds hope today that she will one day be reunited with her family (under her terms).

Westover wrote about her feelings and thoughts in great detail and clarity. It was easy to read through this book and get a glimpse into her life.  

I especially liked that she emphasized, from the very beginning, that this book was not about Mormonism or any other type of religious belief. She wanted to make sure it was clear that she was not putting faith or religion down because, in many situations, other Mormons or people of faith had tried to help her. To me, the real problems were the mental health issues her father and brother faced. Westover shows how bad things could get if people don’t get the treatment they need.  

This book taught me more about mental health and how it impacts not only the people who have these health issues but also how it can affect the people around them. I think this lesson is so important for our world right now as we try to gain a clearer understanding of what mental health is and how we can support people who suffer from it. 

The themes of this book:

There are many different themes in this book. Some of the themes that stood out to me were: male patriarchy, mental health, physical abuse, psychological abuse, the power of manipulation and the impact of family love. I know that seems like a lot, but, honestly, I don’t think that even covers half of the themes of this book.

Patriarchy:

In her household, Mormonism was the practiced faith, but as she makes very clear, her family’s version of Mormonism was not standard and far more strict than most other Mormon families. Her father was the clear head of the household, and the wife and children had to listen attentively to the father at all times. She was raised with the idea that the man would be the head, and the women would raise children and tend to household duties. A woman’s role would only be in the kitchen. Throughout the book, her father and brother make many comments to her reminding her that she should be focusing on redirecting her life to be a proper woman and become a housewife. 

Mental Health

It is clear from the very beginning that her father has severe mental health problems. His version of Mormonism teeters between faith and insanity. The way he treats his wife and children seems to change daily, rotating between kind and fatherly to authoritarian and angry. I noticed his mental health problems the most during his spats of paranoia. He spent so much of his time and money preparing for the end of time. The whole family spent many days preparing for the end of time, canning fruits and vegetables and storing gasoline. He also forced his children to stay home from school, which is another way he tried to control his family. Many Mormons attend school, and many go on to continue their studies in college and university. In my opinion, her father is a perfect example of what happens when people who suffer from mental health don’t get the help they need.

As well, her brother Shawn clearly suffers from mental health. The way he manipulates and abuses women and finds joy out of their embarrassment are all signs of severe psychological problems. The fact that her brother is still living in Idaho with his family is terrifying.

Physical and mental abuse 

This theme was probably the most obvious. The violence that Shawn showed towards multiple members of his family was genuinely frightening. After each physical altercation took place, he would manipulate his victims into thinking they were at fault or that he was just playing with them. This was indeed the most frightening part of her brother. Through her portrayal of these incidents, how she felt and how quickly she forgot what he had done, the reader sees why so many abused women go back to their abuser. For this reason alone, I think it is a book that many people should read to gain a clearer understanding of the mind of those that get abused by someone they love.  

Power of manipulation

In the final part of the book, Tara and her sister confront their parents about the abuse they have experienced from their brother. This is the most shocking moment in the book. The way their mother cowers to their father, the way their parents refuse to believe what they are saying, really upset me. Later on, Tara’s sister is manipulated into thinking she was wrong about what she said about Shawn abusing her. Tara’s sister blocks out all of the abuse because of the parents’ manipulation. It is scary to see what the human brain can convince itself with just a bit of encouragement.

Family love

Tara struggles so much near the end to figure out how her new educated life can fit into her life with her family. She doesn’t want to lose her family because, ultimately, she does love them. This love keeps her tied to her family; this love keeps her returning to her home town. In the end, she realizes that despite the love she has for them, she cannot go back to that life. 

I believe the book’s overall message is by becoming educated; you free yourself to feel and understand the way you want to. Only through this freedom can you live your own life and make your own decisions.

Author Info:

Here is a link to her website: https://tarawestover.com/