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/


Visiting Book Locations

I have read so many different books that are set in many different spots all over the world. When I am reading these books, I always try to picture what that place looks like today and how it would differ from the descriptions in the book. When I read historical fiction books, I think about how interesting it would be to go to these places and see firsthand where the book is referring to and what events happened there. Below I describe what my top three book locations I want to visit are…

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
Location- Kefalonia, Greece
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is set on the island of Kefalonia, Greece. It follows the villagers from World War II through to modern-day Greece. It gives vivid details to the island’s hilly mountains, the small towns within the island, and the beautiful views of the ocean. Each time the author described the island, I had the urge to visit it.

CAPTAIN CORELLI’S MANDOLIN

A Long Petal of the Sea
Location- Catalonia, Spain
A Long Petal of the Sea is set in multiple locations, but the primary home of the books’ characters were in Catalonia, Spain. Although the book doesn’t spend too much time talking about the beautiful landscape, it does offer enough to entice someone to visit this Spanish province. For me, what attracts me, even more, is the history of this spot. Between the authors’ description of Catalonia’s beauty and the historical events that take place there, I realize I would love to one day visit Catalonia, Spain.

A Long Petal of the Sea: A Novel

My Life in France and The Nightingale
Location- French countryside
Both of these books feature more than one setting, but the French countryside stands out the most. The way Julia Child discusses her home in the French countryside would make anyone dream of visiting. In The Nightingale, you see the experiences of a small French town outside of Paris. In both cases, I find myself hoping to one day be able to visit these places and think of these two books while I am there.

My Life in France The Nightingale: A Novel

What are some places you would like to visit from the books you have read?


Oh Crap! Potty Training- Book Review

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars – Genre: Parenting, Potty Training, – N. of Pages: 294

Why I decided to read this book:

My daughter is turning 2 in 6 days, and I feel its time we take on this next step. However, I know absolutely nothing about potty training, so I decided to research different methods, and this book continuously came up. It is definitely a book that is more suited to my personality, rather than a formal potty training book.

My review of the book:

‘Oh Crap! Potty Training’ is a very, very easy read, which is perfect for this topic. No mom wants to sit for weeks reading an overly detailed and complex book about potty training. Glowacki breaks down each stage of the potty training process and provides helpful tips if things go wrong. Many of the advice and steps she describes make a lot of sense, and I will absolutely follow her method when beginning this next stage of my daughter’s life (hopefully before the end of August). Also, although there are 20 chapters in this book, Glowacki advises all her readers not to read past Chapter 5 until potty training has begun. After Chapter 5, she helps parents overcome any challenges they are having with the potty training method. These chapters are based on common questions she gets from her clients.

My daughter has had issues with constipation and holding in her poop, so I knew that I needed to skip to chapter 10 and read the section on poop. As well, my daughter is in daycare part-time, so I wanted to read the chapter on how to approach daycare during potty training, which is Chapter 12. Lastly, my daughter can be well… spirited… to put it lightly. She can be stubborn and has recently begun to have crying fits over the smallest thing. I know that it will become a more significant issue during potty training, so I also read Chapter 13 Behiavour vs Potty Training that speaks precisely to this. Everything she wrote was constructive and made me feel much more prepared for potty training.

There are also a few things I didn’t like about this book. First off, Glowacki repeats herself A LOT, and I mean A LOT. Sometimes I would be reading a paragraph, and it felt like I had already read that same paragraph in every other chapter (like the exact same paragraph). This happened numerous times, and I got a bit annoyed by it. I am sure there is a reason for it, but, personally, it bothered me. I also do feel this book could have been summed up in far fewer pages. It seemed to become a bit redundant after a while. However, this does not take away from her method to potty training because I am convinced she knows what she is talking about, and I will surely use this method.

Things I learned from this book:

I found the first six chapters really helped me understand how to prepare for potty training and how to make it a success for my daughter. She was very explicit about what needs to happen in the house and how parents are to act throughout the first couple of days. I knew I would need to be home initially, but I didn’t realize how important it was until she laid out all the reasons why. I also know it is important to begin talking about this upcoming change to my daughter before potty training begins. For example, saying things like, “We’re almost done your diapers, you will be using the potty soon.” This allows your toddler to begin to register what is going on in a couple of days. I found her first six chapters to be very informative.

As I mentioned, pooping has been a bit of an issue for my daughter. This has been an issue since she was four months old. She has frequent constipation episodes, and sometimes we have had to use kid suppository’s to help her, which is so hard! So naturally, I am a bit concerned about how the poop in potty training will go. After reading Chapter 10, I do feel more prepared for what could go wrong and less anxious about how she will overcome this.

Chapter 12 was also beneficial because sometimes daycares are not interested in helping with the potty training process, and sometimes the daycare is entirely on board. She goes over what to do in almost any daycare situation and how to handle this obstacle. Glowacki explains how to deal with daycares who are not willing to follow the potty training plan. Luckily, after speaking with my daughter’s daycare, it sounds like they are completely on board!

Chapter 13 went into some behavioural obstacles you may encounter, depending on your toddler’s attitude. I found this helpful because I am finding as my daughter gets older, she is becoming more stubborn, and despite my efforts, this doesn’t seem to be going away. This chapter helped ease my anxiety on the behaviour topic and helped me understand how to try and overcome her reluctancy.

Final thoughts:

Overall I think this book is a great read for moms who are getting ready to potty train their toddlers. It is a quick and easy read that will help ease potty training anxiety. Her method is proven to be effective and successful. She has been doing this type of work for many many years, and I would definitely consider her an expert.

Shop now:
This is a list of things I have purchased for Potty Training or have been recommended:


Birds Without Wings – Book Review

By: Louis de Bernieres

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars — Genre: Historical Fiction — N. of Pages: 554

This is the second time I have read this book. I chose to reread it because I had such fond memories of the book, and I wanted to include it on my blog. I thought it would be best to reread it in order to give it a proper review.

Why I initially read this book:

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I love historical fiction novels, and my background is Greek, and this book is about Greeks living in the Ottoman Empire during the early 1900s. Therefore, it suited my interests very well. My sister had also read it and loved it. I had known of Louis de Bernieres because of his famous novel, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, that was eventually turned into a Hollywood movie. That novel was also a great read; however, the film did not do the book justice. Therefore, since I liked the author, it had great reviews, and it fit into my interests, I thought I had to read it.

The theme of this novel:

I believe the overall theme of this book was innocence. The innocence of a small village town in eastern Anatolia (modern-day Turkey), the innocence of regular people disconnected from the world’s politics, and the innocence of children. The book is mostly set in a small village that, for hundreds of years, Christians and Muslims lived in harmony with Greeks, Armenians and Turks until the world’s leaders arbitrarily told them that they were now enemies. Muslims would pray to the Virgin Mary; Christians would go into Mosque’s to pray. Christain’s allowing their daughters to marry Muslim men, Muslim women being best friends with Christians. This is what this little town was like, and it represents what so many towns in Greece and Turkey were like until the war tore them apart.

A brief overview of this book:

As mentioned above, this novel was mostly set in a small town in Western Anatolia called Eskibahce, at the end of the Ottoman Empire. It follows the lives of the Eskibahce villagers from the beginning of the 1900’s through small wars, the Great War, then the War of Independence and the Great Population Exchange. The story begins showing how harmoniously everyone in the village lived with each other regardless of religion and cultural background. You are introduced to many different characters at the beginning, and you follow each of these characters as they weave through major historical events. Louis de Bernieres creates incredibly interesting characters that are intriguing from the moment they are introduced. Each character tells their story in their own chapters, including the real historical figure Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. You see how the changes made by leading men in the world affect this little towns’ inhabitants. You gain an understanding of how the repercussions of people’s actions seem to affect the most vulnerable in society.

“…but in my opinion, as I have also said, everything that happened was made to do so by the great world.” (p 537)

About halfway through the book, de Bernieres focuses a lot of time discussing many of the Great War details, and I would say this is the only part in the book that I felt needed to be shortened. There were too many back-to-back chapters from Mustafa Kemal and one of the book’s main characters, Karatavuk explaining the details of the war from their perspectives. I think this part of the book may be difficult for some readers, who may not be as interested in history, to get through.

The end of the book focuses on the deportation of Greek Christians to Greece. The perspective is shown through the villagers of Eskibahce. The utter shock the Christian villagers face when they are told they are going to their country, Greece, which they have never lived in. The sadness that is bestowed on the Muslim villagers who tearfully say goodbye to their friends. You see the love these villagers had for one another when the Muslim men decide to follow their Greek friends to their destination to guarantee their safe passage. This is the love that is so rarely seen today between Christian and Muslims in most of the world. This chapter really brings the message of this book to light.

What I learned from this book:

I learned so much from this book that I don’t even know where to begin. The book’s overall message that few men make the decisions that affect millions is what impacted me the most. How simple words and decisions could change the course of history. These same men turn best friends into enemies just by using simple words. Many times in the book, we see a Greek Christian and an Ottoman Muslim love one another (friendly or romantic) despite being told by world leaders that they are now enemies.

“How strange that the world should change because of words, and words change because of the world” (p 287)

Another thing I learned is how quickly good human beings can turn evil. The atrocities that Greeks and Turks committed to one another after living among each other harmoniously for so many years is truly baffling. How does one hate another so much to commit such horrible crimes to innocent people? I will never understand that, but it is clear the humans are capable of awful things.

“Much of what was done was simply in revenge for identical atrocities…” (p 6)

Final thoughts on this book:

Overall this is a great book; I loved it the first time I read it, and I loved it the second time I read it. Louis de Bernieres writes so eloquently, including many important hidden messages. There were some messages I didn’t even catch the first time I read this book. I truly recommend that everyone reads this book, even if you aren’t into historical fiction because so many things that you learn from this book can be connected to today’s world. The only reason I did not give it a 5/5 is because the middle section was a bit hard to get through because of the vivid details of the war.

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The Nightingale- Book Review

By: Kristin Hannah

My Rating- 5/5 Stars — Genre: Historical Fiction — N. of Pages: 440

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah is one of my most favourite books. It is centered around two sisters living in France during World War II. The Nightingale included romance, love, agony, sadness and much more. From the very first page of this book, you are hooked!

I first came across The Nightingale after I joined a book club and was asked to select a book for the group to read. I knew I wanted to choose a historical fiction book because my group was not familiar with that genre, and I was convinced I could convert them with the right book! I began looking into popular historical fiction novels, and The Nightingale kept appearing on all my searches. I wanted a book that didn’t include too many historical ramblings and had an excellent story, and The Nightingale seemed to be just that. Therefore, I selected it for my book club and luckily, it was a big success! Everyone loved it, and it sparked so many great conversations. In fact, many of the people in my book club continued to ask for other recommendations on historical fiction novels for future reading.

As I have mentioned, The Nightingale is now placed at the top of the list of my favourite books. I know this will be a book I read many more times in my life. The Nightingale was incredible from the very first page. The characters, the events, the story were engaging and exciting. I honestly struggled to put this book down each night; if there was no need for sleep, I could have finished it in 24 hours.

The Theme of this book…

The Nightingale is about two sisters and the very different paths their lives take during World War II in France. These sisters appear very different, but as the book continues, you begin to see the fight both of these women have. Hannah brings the characters’ thoughts and emotions to life; the reader truly begins to feel those same emotions felt by the characters. This book is about family love, the struggle for survival and the need to fight for your values.

The Nightingale shows you the difficulties the French people faced, mostly women, who are at home under German occupation. It shows French women’s perseverance to do whatever they could to help in the war effort from their homes. This book was not about war battles and soldiers; it was about the struggle of occupation, the push to survive, and the fight to gain freedom. Truly a remarkable story about a challenging time in France’s history.

What I learned from this book…

The Nightingale is an inspirational story about women’s fight for survival and their constant determination to protect their family and those around them. The ordeal that these two sisters experience is beyond my imagination; it seems impossible to overcome such horrible obstacles in your life. It shows the human will and strength and how strong it is. It made me feel that no obstacle is too hard to overcome and how important it is to fight for what you believe. I learned so much more about the difficulties faced by the women living under occupation during World War II, something I think the history books do not focus enough time on. It opened a new door to the perspectives of World War II.

Other books written by this author… 

Kristin Hannah has written many books, so I have listed some of her better-known books below:

*The Four Winds (newest book)
*The Great Alone
*Home Front
*Night Road
*Winter Garden

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Potty Training… Ugh!

Now that my daughter is 2-years-old (well in 3 weeks), we are beginning to discuss potty training her, and well, I am not super excited about it. I am really excited about not wiping her poop bum for much longer but, I am not excited for the daunting task of getting her to use the toilet. I feel like we have just gotten into a good rhythm, and now we’re changing things up again! At each milestone you get to a point where you feel like you have a handle on motherhood for a bit and just as you begin to feel that way, another task approaches.

One of the aspects I am the most concerned about is every time we leave the house her saying, “I have to pee” and I am sure it will happen at the most inopportune moments. It takes us about 1 hour to prepare to go to the beach (packing everything we need, getting her changed, putting sunscreen on, etc.). In the winter the process is even longer with jackets, gloves, snow suits and so much more. Now I am picturing adding in pee breaks whenever she says she has to pee (and who knows if she actually has to go!). Needless to say, I am not excited about it.

I decided I may be more inclined to begin this process if a know a bit more about it so I decided to research books to read on the topic to help me feel better about this process. Luckily, there seem to be many popular potty training methods to choose from. One method I see often is the “3 Day Potty Training” technique. This sounds interesting because it claims only to take 3 days to have them fully potty trained (not including night time), which sounds fantastic! Another technique I have heard about is based on the book, “Oh Crap! Potty Training”, by Jamie Glowacki. This method sounds very interesting, and the title is excellent. The book excerpt discusses the author’s use of sass while writing about her experiences with potty training, and from that description, I was sold! Therefore, I have decided to begin reading this book to prepare for the next step in my daughter’s life. Stay tuned for my review!

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A Long Petal of the Sea- Book Review

By: Isabel Allende

My Ratings: 4/5 Stars — Genre: Historical Fiction — N. of Pages: 336

“Venezuela received Victor with the same easygoing generosity with which it took in thousands of immigrants from many parts of the world… [Venezuela] was one of the wealthiest countries in the world… nobody killed themsleves working… life was a long party, with a great sense of freedom and a profound sense of equality.” (p253-254)

This quote profoundly impacted me from the book, ‘A Long Petal of the Sea’ by Isabel Allende. Comparing the sentiment that Victor and his family felt towards Venezuela and knowing what Venezuela has now become makes this statement unbelievable. This quote also highlights the central theme of this book, the ever-changing political landscape of once-stable countries. It shows how quickly security and freedom can slip from your grasp. Victor and his family begin as refugees fleeing a political coup in their home country, and this theme follows them everywhere they go.

Why I chose this book…

I decided to read this book because I kept seeing it pop up on many book blogs and reading lists. I was interested in reading a historical fiction novel but in a new and unknown historical period. This book begins with the Spanish Civil War, something I know very little about but have always been interested in learning more. Therefore I decided it would be an interesting read on a new topic.

What is this book about…

This book goes through the entire life of its main character, Victor. It begins at the time of the Spanish Civil War, focusing on Victor and his family’s experiences. It continues by following Victor and his family as they flee from Spain and end up living in multiple countries. The main characters bounce around as refugees from one country to another throughout their lives. Through Victor’s experiences, we get a glimpse into the Spanish Civil War and then eventually into the Chilean Civil War. We also get to see what Venezuela was like during the early 1980s, a very different picture then what Venezuela has become today. This book covers many topics and historical events. You learn about the struggles of a refugee and what it’s like starting over again in a foreign country. The book ends with Victor in his 80s.

Also, the chapters were laid out by years rather than events, and the reader learns about what happens to Victor (and the supporting characters) during the specific years laid out at the beginning of the chapter.

My thoughts after reading the book… 

I’m happy I chose to read this book. It was eventful, had proper character development, and had some unexpected twists along the way. However, I was surprised to see that the Spanish Civil War was just one event and not the main event in this book. I didn’t get to learn as much about the Spanish Civil War as I would have liked. The layout of this book was a bit different then I was used to, and I felt like some events were rushed. There were also very few times where I felt like I could not put the book down. I was intrigued to keep reading, but not in a thrilling, suspenseful manner. Each chapter ended with the ending of a time frame, not with an intriguing angle that made you want to keep reading. I also found that the ending was a bit abrupt, and I was hoping to hear more about that final major event in Victor’s life. That being said, I still really enjoyed reading this book.

The Author…

Isabel Allende is more well known for her novel, ‘The House of the Spirits,’ but she has written over 20 books that have all won critical acclaim. ‘A Long Petal of the Sea’ is her most recent book, and it is a book that includes stories that were told to her as a child. Her cultural background is South American (raised in Chile), and many of the people and events she writes about are from stories she hears from older relatives. None of the characters are real, but they are all shaped by people she knew.

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American Dirt- Book Review

By: Jeanine Cummins

My Rating- 5/5 Stars — Genre: Fiction, Contemporary — N. of Pages: 400

I bought this book entirely on a whim. I don’t usually read books about South America or the USA; however, every time I saw this book on the shelf, I found myself wanting to read it. I finally bought it, and I am so glad I did. It was a fantastic book detailing the story of Lydia and her son Luca, both fictional characters. Everything that Lydia experiences with the Mexican cartels, the migration routes, the migrants she meets and the final crossing into the USA are real experiences that many migrants face when deciding to leave their homes in Mexico.

The central theme of the book…

Survival is the most dominant theme of this book. First, Lydia focuses on surviving daily life in Mexico with drug cartels running the city she lives in. She then needs to focus on keeping her son alive when the central drug cartel is after them. The whole book is how Lydia and her son survive many days of running from one cartel run town to another. In the end, her new life also focuses on her daily struggle to survive. The struggles that Mexican and South American migrants face as they head to the American border are unimaginable, and this novel brings to light these real hardships.

What I learned from this book…

The author paints a real and vivid picture of what many migrants experience in the dangerous countries they live in that force them to decide to head north. Cummins paints a clear picture of what being a migrant means and the unbearable obstacles that they encounter. I found myself thinking about the current political climate in the US and the horrible conditions migrants face along the US border. As a Canadian, you don’t hear about the ongoing struggles migrants face in their home country, the reason people leave their homes for the dangerous route to America. I felt like I learned a lot about the challenges that many migrants face at home and their desperation for a new life. Lydia and Luca’s journey is extraordinary and unimaginable. Knowing that thousands of migrants take this route every day is incredibly shocking, and Cummins details this sad story perfectly.

Further thoughts…

This book also makes you think of the people and families who don’t make it through to freedom, who are turned back or are killed along the way. I also found myself thinking about the people who make it across to safer countries and how they live their new lives. There are many dimensions to Cummins’s book, and I highly recommend it!

Other books written by Jeanine Cummins:

*A Rip in Heaven
*The Outside Boy
*The Crooked Branch

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