Martha’s Story: Miscarriage, Blocked Fallopian Tube and IUI

This story comes from HDYDI reader Martha.

Our fertility story started about four years after we were married.  We tried for months on end with no results. Resorted to peeing on sticks to see just when the right time was. After about a year and a half of that I was finally pregnant.

I remember thinking—I’ve never told anyone else this to this day—I remember thinking, “I wonder how long will this last?” Self fulfilling prophecy? Probably. I miscarried right at  6-8 weeks, the very night we had people over for the Super Bowl and announced my pregnancy.

I remember passing that baby into the toilet. It’s brutal, but it’s the truth.

My doctors told me that since I had gotten pregnant I should keep trying.  Fast forward a year and still no more pregnancies. So we decided to see a fertility specialist. I was “advanced” in age according to fertility docs so it didn’t seem like a crazy idea.

IUII had a procedure to check everything out to make sure everything was working ok. It turns out that I had a blocked fallopian tube. It  was blocked with some body tissue, nothing that was a problem. They blew it out of there with some compressed air.

Did you know that you don’t always ovulate from alternating sides each month? You don’t. I was ovulating most often from the side that was blocked, hence the no pregnancy thing. Well, that made the most sense in the whole world!

Hallelujah!!! Now we can get pregnant!

But there was still nothing after a few months, so we opted for IUI. Our first round of IUI was supposed to be a trial run. I had no idea what we were getting ourselves into and didn’t know what to expect.

I did the injections. My faithful husband did his work with the cup. On the day of the insemination we happened to have tickets to a concert at the Erwin Center [large performance center in Austin). We went to the doctor, I got inseminated (totally not thinking this would work given the odds!), we went to Scholz Garten and drank a few beers and went to the Erwin Center to watch a concert. On the walk there I was visibly uncomfortable: the hormones they had given me to inject to induce ovulation had kicked in and I could feel it in my bones. The beers did nothing to hide the pain!

Flash forward a few days.

After my blood test following insemination, I heard “Congratulations! You are very pregnant!!!” said the nurse. Huh? Just how pregnant? My hormone levels were three times those of normal single pregnancies. I was freaked out!!!! I had done IUI. I knew that at the time of insemination I had ovulated four eggs. WAS I PREGNANT WITH FOUR BABIES???????

I was constantly nervous for the weeks that followed until we found out how many babies we were having. I knew it could have been four. The hormone level was that of three.

As I sat in the waiting room that day I wanted to vomit, I was that nervous. We were led into the exam room and the doctor did the vaginal ultrasound and announced that we were having…twins!!!  Oh thank the good Lord in Heaven! I was worried about three or even four!  At the time I thought, “Twins, I can handle.” And we have.

That was 9 years ago. Our twin boys are happy, healthy, smart, and funny. They make good grades and have friends who complete them. They are each others best friend 98% of the time, then they fight.

I wouldn’t trade the experience for a million dollars. Our twins were meant to be. They are perfect in every way. And our family is completed in every way because of them.

People ask me “How did you do it?” and my answer is always a stupid, “We didn’t know any better.”

Those of you expecting multiples know this: do not worry about the details. You are the parents of multiples. You are blessed beyond belief and God will lead you through this, whatever your situation needs.

Take one day at a time and enjoy your little babies because one day they will grow up and it will all be gone: that sweet baby smell… the naps… the nice kids…. Mine are 9 now and they stink. Boys just stink. They sweat: it happens. But one of my twin boys is as tall as my chin and he’s only 9!

What will the next 9 years hold? I can only hold my breath and wait.  Because it’s gonna be a great ride!!


Infertility TalesThis post is part of Infertility Tales 2014, How Do You Do It?‘s series to raise awareness about infertility and its impact on families. Please take a moment to read through some of the personal stories of loss, pain, fertility treatments, and success.

Bye Bye Blankie

Blankie
My daughter J is the snugglier of my twins. She’s sought tactile comfort more than M starting at a few months old. She’s always had two lovies, a simple flannel blanket with a satiny border named Purple Blankie and a little bear blanket named Green Bee. Never mind that Purple Blankie has no more purple in than green, yellow or blue.

On our move to El Paso 3 years ago, Green Bee got lost. I waited it out for a while, hoping that J would realize she didn’t need her lovey any more, but she begged for a replacement every day. After several months, when Daddy announced our divorce, I decided that this was not the time to break my child of her comfort objects. Enter Fuzzy.

The green one is Fuzzy.

The green one is Fuzzy.

About a month ago, I noticed that Purple Blankie and Fuzzy haven’t been appearing in bed. In fact, I’m not quite sure where Fuzzy is, and Purple Blankie is hanging out in J’s stuffed toy box.

It may have taken nearly 8 years, but J seems to be growing out of the need for comfort objects. Maybe this explains her anger of late. She may be working on new ways to channel her stress.

Do your little ones have comfort objects or loveys?

4 Questions to Connect with My Children

My daughters and I are very close. They’re talkers. I’m a talker. That makes it pretty easy for us to stay connected. We do a lot together, but talking is the big point of connection we share.

At 7 years old, M and J are starting to realize that I’m not quite as omniscient and all-powerful as they once thought, but I’m not yet uncool enough in their eyes for them to reject me. For the most part, they volunteer news from the day and keep me informed of the things that are important to them. They tell me about their schoolwork, their friends, and particularly delicious or gross food.

Why It Gets Harder to Connect with My Children

I haven’t spent the whole day with my kids for more than a long weekend and rare vacation since I returned to work when they were 11 weeks old. When they were in daycare, I got a note from school each day telling me about their feeding, diaper changes, and daily activities. I had a decent idea of what they’d been up to from those notes and conversations with the teacher. Once they entered kindergarten, though, I was reliant on my kids for news about their day.

I know that over time my children will naturally put more of a distance between us. While that is a normal part of growth, I always want them to know that I’m here for them, and I want to keep tabs on what they’re up to. I recognize that adolescence will be a time when my girls are moving towards adulthood and wanting adult-like privacy and say over the details of their own lives. I hope to be able to respect their desires for more adult-like treatment while providing them with the structure and support these teen children still need.

One Easy Way to Connect with My Children

Elementary school is a perfect time to establish habits to stay connected that will work for us when the children are older and venturing farther afield.

Every day, at some point, I ask each of my children the following questions:

  • What was the best thing that happened today?
  • What was the worst thing that happened?
  • What have you read today?
  • What was one thing you learned?

In addition to helping me know what’s been going on, these questions also encourage J and M to evaluate their experiences critically. Depending on how much else is we have to get done, any one of these questions can prompt a discussion lasting an hour or more.

One simple idea for keeping in touch with your kids. Just ask these 4 questions.

Examples of Connecting with My Children

The worst thing in J’s day yesterday was my need to work from home in the evening. I had some last minute responsibilities that had to be taken care of then and there. Over 10 of us were pulling overtime to make it work.

I only ended up having 15 minutes available to spend with the children apart from the few minutes we spent together in the car. We talked about prioritization and how sometimes being the person one group of people can rely on means letting down another group. I explained to J that she and her sister were the most important part of my life, but that there were times when I had to trust them to tend to themselves while I took care of other business. She wasn’t any happier with me after we’d talked, but she felt heard and knew that I understood how disappointed she was in me.

On days when M can’t come up with a “best thing” that happened, I know it’s been a rough day and that she needs extra attention from me while her sister is occupied with something else. On days when she comes up with a list of “best things” and no “worst thing”, I know that any arguing I hear between my daughters will easily resolve itself and I leave them be to work things out. J usually sees both aspects of her day, but M sees the world in black and white.

When my children are away, usually staying with grandparents thousands of miles from here, I use these questions during our daily phone call if the conversations starts to stall. I don’t usually need them any more, since my 7-year-olds are usually bursting with news to tell me. When they were younger, age 4 or so, having specific questions to answer was helpful to them, since they kept wanting to show me things over the phone, which didn’t work particularly well.

How do you stay connected to your kids when you’re not together all day?

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun. She also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

When to Keep the News from Kids

The first time their father saw my daughters in the real world, in life-after-NICU, it was just off Old Ironsides Ave. on Fort Hood. I drove the 40 miles from our house to welcome Daddy home from NTC, the generically named National Training Center in California, where he’d been in desert training with his Army unit in preparation for another Iraq deployment. It was June 2006 and the babies had been home from the hospital for a few weeks.

Twins home from the hospital

I breastfed my babies in the car, less nervous that usual as a brand new breast-feeder. I knew that the federal laws that held sway on base were clear about my right to breastfeed. Furthermore, any potentially objecting soldiers would back of the moment I waved the printout of the law I kept in my diaper bag at them. I’m delighted to report that I never had need to pull out that printout.

I have a love/hate relationship with Fort Hood. It is so very, well, military. It’s all squares and tan and straight lines. Vehicles with a primary purpose of combat are on display everywhere. Everyone obeys the speed limit. Everyone manages to be extraordinarily polite while swearing every third word. People called me Mrs. SGT Rod. I’ve always gone by Ms in the rest of the world and really prefer Sadia, but try telling soldiers that.

I haven’t been to Fort Hood since I got divorced. We still have a couple of friends who live in neighbouring towns, but plans to meet up have fallen through. Still, when I heard today’s news about the shooting on base, I felt that sick feeling I used to have when my now ex-husband was deployed and yet another casualty was reported on the radio. I’ve checked in with friends who work there, and everyone is accounted for.

Feeling close to workplace shootings isn’t new to me. For years, I worked on the 25th floor of the building in and from which Charles Whitman killed 14 people in 1966. A neighbor of mine was on base during the last Fort Hood shooting, although my husband at the time was nowhere near there, instead at a relatively cushy assignment in South Korea. Most recently, I was under lockdown myself during a student’s tragic breakdown. It never gets normal, though. It’s disturbing and surreal every single time.

I wonder, though, if we’re suffering from mass shooting saturation. My Facebook feed, usually on fire with thoughts, updates and prayers for whatever’s been in the news lately, was nearly silent about today’s shooting. The only people who even mentioned it were friends from the Army and friends otherwise associated with the military. When I asked on Facebook why everyone was silent on today’s tragedy, the response was that no one even knew it had happened.

I usually talk to my daughters about the news of the day. Their father has served in two wars. They’re not ignorant of the ugliness present in the world. They know in vague terms about what’s going on in Syria and Ukraine. J followed the search for Libya’s Gaddafi closely.

I think I’m going to keep the radio off or tuned to music for the next few days, at least when the children are in the car. Maybe, completely selfishly speaking, it’s a good thing that no one seems to want to talk about what happened today. I don’t know how to tell my girls about this crazed killing without frightening them. I have no answers, explanations, or comfort. I have no way to convince my daughters that Daddy is safe on his base or that I’ll be safe at work. I don’t know why or when to keep the news from kids, but I will this time.

But for a moment, let’s speak more generally, human to human. Four people died today, not far from my home, at a place that once was, for better or worse, a big part of my life. Many many more are dying much uglier deaths in Syria. You can spare a thought for them. It costs you nothing.

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun. She also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

Big Kid Steps: Self-Care Milestones

My daughters turn 8 next month. There is no question that they are big kids.

When they were infants and toddlers, I looked out for the milestones that would indicate their growing: rolling over, sitting, pulling up, walking, talking. I knew that they would do these things on their own schedule. I rejoiced for each one, even as it brought me closer to the day that my girls would leave to me embark on their own independent lives.

Now they are schoolchildren, it feels like the milestones M and J are reaching are externally scheduled. Sure, they’ve lost teeth at their bodies’ whim, but progressing from one grade to another, their increasingly complex dance recital performances, academic accomplishments… all these markers are scheduled on the calendar.

Now, when I discover something that shows me that one child or another is growing up, it’s unexpected and still as bittersweet as those early milestones.

Take bath time, for example. My daughters have been washing their own hair and bodies for a while now. They still need me to squeeze out the shampoo and bath soap, but they can take it from there. They like me out of the bathroom while they’re bathing so they can play a game titled Ocean Water Girls with their Barbies.

Earlier this week, I went into the bathroom to get my daughters out of the bath and discovered that M had gotten out by herself, dried herself off and put on her bathrobe. I didn’t make a big deal of it, just saying, “Nice job drying your [waist-length] hair.” She responded with, “I think I prefer this. Sometimes you dry me too rough and sometimes you dry me too gentle and leave me soggy.” There’s something about the idea of a soggy M, that most precise and perfectionist of children, that warms my soul.

Last night, I found her trying to cut her own fingernails. She hadn’t quite mastered it, so I took over with her blessing, but I thanked her for trying. “It feels more private,” she told me, “to do this stuff.” I told her I completely understood and that she should feel free to whatever self-care tasks she felt like handling.

J still wants me to dry her off after bath and cut her nails. She’s my physical touch love language speaker, after all. However, she does little things to show me that she’s growing up too. For example, she mentioned in passing that two friends had their birthday parties at the same time last weekend. She and M decided which one they wanted to go to and didn’t even bother me telling me about the one they’d miss. I let J know that she still needed to give me such invitations, since a “No” RSVP was at least as important as a “Yes.” She understood, but it struck me that not long ago, my daughters would have come to me for help in deciding between the parties or just handed the invitations over without recognizing the conflict.

J is no terrible hurry to grow up and is farther behind on her self-care milestones. As she told me last night before nodding off, “I’m glad I have a lot of years until I’m 17. I don’t know where I want to go to college yet.”

You have plenty of time, little one.

Big kids increasingly take care of their own needs and need mommy less.

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun. She also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

My Kids’ Peers

My kids have some really great friends. I get to hang out with a bunch of insightful, kind, thoughtful, civic-minded 7- and 8-year-olds every week. There’s the little girl who approached the “bad” kid in her class to tell him that she thought that he was lonely, not bad, and that she was going to be his friend. There’s another girl who spent her entire day between early school release and our Girl Scout meeting raising over $300 for cancer research by selling baked goods and T-shirts. And my own daughters asked friends, when they were turning 5, to bring canned goods for the food pantry to their birthday party instead of gifts.

I encourage these friendships. These girls’ parents and I have made an effort to get to know each other, and were lucky to find great compatibility. We’ve all become good friends. We arrange play dates. We let each other know when there’s a fun kid-friendly activity available in town. We watch each others’ kids and encourage them to develop relationships with the adults as well as the kids. We ask after how these friends, in particular, are doing on a nearly daily basis, since they see each other at school.

Here’s why I think having deep friendships with exemplary children is important for my kids. Ultimately, it’s their peers who will shape how my children turn out. I can do my best to drill my values into my kids, but if these values are completely foreign to the social interactions they have out of my view, out of my control, they won’t stick.

For parents, the idea that peers have a greater influence on how kids turn out is an uncomfortable one. I’ve certainly met people who flat out refuse to entertain the thought. We put so much into our children that we need to believe that what comes out will be proportional to our effort.

I believe, very deeply, that my job as a mother is to give my children the tools they need to not need me any more. I hope that J and M will choose to spend time with me, to confide in me, when they’re adults, but I hope that they don’t need me. I know that adolescence is, by definition, a tearing away of the individual from the parent. This separation has to happen for child to become adult. I want my daughters to have the right peers and mentors around them to turn to when it is developmentally appropriate for them to turn away from me.

I think of the immigrant experience and how seamlessly first generation children blend into their peer groups. Children don’t adopt their parents’ accents if there’s a peer accent to be emulated instead. I’ve rarely seen adults keep their parents’ religion unless there’s some interaction with other children with similar beliefs in childhood. Both my children and I are examples. My parents grew up in Bangladesh, I in the UK and Bangladesh and my children in the US. People who don’t know our biographies just assume we’re American through and through. We learned these things from our peers.

In some ways, I feel that my greatest responsibility to my children, beyond meeting their physical needs, is providing them with the right peer group. I didn’t handpick M and J’s best friends. I did, however, make an effort to get to know their parents, as their parents did with me. I did handpick their school, a public school that would allow my kids to meet a cross-section of our community, an academically strong one that would have high expectations for children’s self-discipline. I advocated for my children to be in the selective dual language program, putting them side-by-side with other children whose parents advocated for Spanish immersion as well as children who speak Spanish at home and require English immersion. I chose the neighbourhood to be a culturally and politically diverse one that has, by necessity, a great tolerance for diversity. I’ve chosen a church where my kids’ peers and mentors will provide for them what I cannot.

Picking Peers for My Kids

Thus far, I haven’t contended with my children picking friends who consistently make choices with which I disagree. I have helped them navigate conflict within their friendships, but I have yet to deal with “bad influences.” I may very well discover that I have a lot less to do with who my children’s elementary school friends are than I think. I know that come middle and high school, I will have completely lost any such control.

I just hope that while I still have a say in the matter, I’ve shown my kids how to choose great friends to spend time with and to emulate. That may be the greatest gift this mother can give her daughters.

What relationship do you have with your children’s friends?

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun. She also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

Stuck to Mommy

My daughters returned home to me in Texas on Friday after a glorious 3 weeks enjoying the holidays with extended family in Washington and Oregon. Poor M caught the virus her father and grandmother suffered before her and came home with a fever. Things were looking a little worrying for twin sister J, but she’s managed to avoid the coughing, runny nose, fever and exhaustion.

Both girls insisted that they absolutely had to have Mommy snuggles all night Friday. Mommy could not sleep in her own bed. With M still feverish, I didn’t protest and took advantage of the opportunity to monitor her throughout the night. I just need to give up on keeping the girls in their room. If I’m giving in on their request that I sleep with them, I might as well do it a non-lofted bigger-than-twin bed. We are getting seriously squished as these girls of mine grow!

Saturday came and went, all the while M refusing to leave my side. If I sat, she sat next to me, thigh to thigh, arm to ribs, head to breast. If I stood, she hooked her hand in my pants waist and came with me. J wanted to be in the same room as me but she, usually the snugglier of my pair, wanted a typical amount of physical contact: the occasional hug, the odd moment tracing the lines on my palms, asking me to brush her hair a couple of times.

I thought that M might be needy because she didn’t feel well, or just because she’d missed me. After she let me release her for the period of her bath time, it occurred to me that at 7, she might know why she was so acting so needy.

“What’s up, M? Why such a snuggle bug?”
“I didn’t get enough snuggles while I was gone.”
“Oh? You know, you can always ask for snuggles. Grammy and Grampy and Daddy and Auntie love you as much as I do.”
“I know. I had four grownups for snuggles, but I snuggle you every day and them, it was more like every other day. And then I got sick and didn’t want to share my germs.”

I imagined my 7-year-old trying to emulate her grandmother and father in self-imposed isolation, protecting those around her from her germs, sacrificing the comfort of hugs to behave like a grownup. I was proud of her and yet it made it that much harder to know that my little girl had been sick without me there to care for her. A sick little girl needs her Mommy or at the very least her custodial parent. However you categorize it, M needed me.

As she fell asleep that Saturday night, one arm under me and one arm over me, breathing in my face and occasionally coughing, I was glad to know that my mature little girl thought me immune to her germs, able to give her all those missing snuggles while she still felt poorly. Usually, she gives a sleepytime squeeze before seeking personal space.

Sunday, and Monday too, she remained glued to me. By Monday, she allowed her sister in my lap, but only as long as I kept a hand on her head and a leg where she could rest hers. I had made a halfhearted effort to find childcare for the day, since school wouldn’t open until Tuesday, but the YMCA has been inconsistent in their full day care, M begged to stay home, and I wasn’t convinced J wasn’t still incubating the virus. I elected to work from home. Thank goodness that I have that option!
Snuggle bunnies from hdydi.com

This photo was taken with my iPad resting on my stomach. M is the farther child, but her legs are hooked over mine. She insisted that I type one-handed, allowing her sister next to me only as long as I kept a hand on her head.

How do your children seek comfort when they don’t feel well? Do they seek out one parent over the other?
Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school and also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

Her Very Own Look

My identical daughters have really begun to relish having different styles. Although they technically still share all their clothes (except underwear and socks), they’re beginning to show preferences for different items. They also express their individuality through their hairstyle choices. Until about age 3, my identical twin daughters sported identical haircuts.

Identical twins with identical cuts. from Her Own Look hdydi.com

What can I say? Bowl cuts are adorable on toddlers.

I know that the American tradition is to wait until the first birthday to cut a baby’s hair, but they needed their first trim well before that. They were born with a lot of hair, and apart from the lanugo, it’s stuck around.

Fully haired twin babies from Her Very Own Look at hdydi.com

These babies have always had full heads of hair. This was well after their second haircuts.

Soon after they turned 3, it was time for a change. As I wrote at the time:

J and M have been due for haircuts for a while. They’ve always had the same haircut, simply because I’m not creative enough to come up with two ideas. This time, though, I decided that they needed different cuts, purely for practical reasons.

J has been going through phase where she wants minimal fuss for her hair. She’d rather wear it loose or with a headband. She’ll wear a ponytail in a pinch, but barrettes and bows are out. Given her impatience with her hair, I elected to chop off much of the length and return to shoulder-length hair.

M loves to show off different styles. Depending on the day, she’ll tell me she wants two pigtails, a ponytail, a little ponytail on the side and another on the back to keep her side-parted hair out of her eyes, barrettes, a bow, a headband, a braid, or some combination of the above. I elected to keep her length and just take an inch off her hair. After her haircut, she couldn’t stop talking about the braid (plait for my British readership) the stylist had done on her right side.

Identical twins look quite different with different hair lengths and styles. from Her Own Look hdydi.com

Thus begins the journey to the girls’ own looks.

J let her hair grow out for a while and both girls, again, had long hair.

Identical twins with identical hair. from Her Own Look hdydi.comHer Very Own Style from hdydi.com

J and M both have their backs to the camera. J is wearing blue and M black and white.

When she was 5, J began to chew her hair. Warnings and punishments, rational explanation and frustration, reasoning and emotional pleas, all of it failed. It was time for serious action, in the form of another drastic haircut.

Identical twins look quite different with different hair lengths and styles. from Her Own Look hdydi.com

J went super-short this time around.

J kept the short hair for a few more cuts, but then decided that she wanted to match Sissy in length. She had successfully broken her chewing habit. I noticed J developing a distinct taste for massive bows and flowers in her hair. M decided that she wanted bangs. I wasn’t convinced that it would work, but she stuck to her guns for over a month. I gave in this summer and had to admit that she was right. Bangs look fabulous on her.

MSJ

J’s hair wasn’t quite as long as M’s, but it got to a good length. She also took to wearing headbands with big bows or flowers almost all the time. Her signature look was in development.

When we got ready to head to our favourite kid hair salon, Pigtails and Crewcuts, last weekend, J pulled a photo off the wall. She told me she wanted short hair again, and illustrated with her own short short hair from a couple of years ago. She seemed sure. The stylist took 6 inches off before even starting to shape the cut.

Jshort

mlong

My daughters love being identical twins, but know that they don’t have to present themselves identically to the world. They can be identical twins with different hair.

Do your kids have matching hair?

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school and also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

Favourite Chapter Book Series: Horrible Harry and Song Lee

A review of Suzy Kline's Horrible Harry and Song Lee books from hdydi.com

In the second of our chapter book series reviews, J, M and I would like to introduce you to Horrible Harry/Song Lee by Suzy Kline. You may want to read one before you share them with your kids. Not all the characters are the most wholesome of role models. For the teachers out there, the author even provides classroom activity ideas that tie into the books.

M J Sadia
What are these books about? They are about Horrible Harry liking Song Lee. They're about how Horrible Harry loves Song Lee and how they react to it. It's also about how Harry and Sidney become friends and how Mary is really bossy. It's about Class 2B and 3B. They're all in the same grade, but half of the series is about them in 2B and half is about them in 3B. Horrible Harry and Song Lee are classmates. These stories are about their everyday adventures as elementary school students.
Who are the main characters? Doug, Sidney, Song Lee, Mary, Harry. Mary and Harry rhyme. And Ida and usually a class pet. Song Lee, Horrible Harry, Doug, Mary, Miss Mackle and Ida Doug, the narrator, is an elementary school student. Horrible Harry (goodhearted but mischievous) and Song Lee (sweet but a goody two-shoes) are the protagonists and Doug's close friends. Miss Mackle is their teacher.
Do you have a favourite book? Which one? Horrible Harry's Secret Horrible Harry in Room 2B Horrible Harry Cracks the Code
What do you like about these books? They're funny. It's just the most hilarious and it's most interesting. Each book explores realistic conflict between kids and shows how they overcome it. I really like that the majority of each story occurs at school and that the books make school look fun. Each book also sneaks in some academic lesson from class. M's favourite so far has been the Fibonacci sequence. After reading Horrible Harry Cracks the code, M calculated it out to 2584. For fun.
Is there anything you don't like about these books? Well yes. They use inappropriate language in the books, like they have the characters say things like "stupid" and "dumb" and there's things like that. Nope. The kids are really quite mean to each other, but sadly, I think that's probably a realistic depiction of 2nd and 3rd grade.
How hard are these books to read? Not very, but I have been struggling with some words. Just as easy as the Rainbow Fairies These are genuine chapter books with non-trivial vocabulary. I'd say kids confident with short chapter books would find these manageable.
Do you think boys and girls would like them? Yes. Yeah. No question.

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school and also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

Favourite Chapter Book Series: Rainbow Magic

A review of Daisy Meadows' Rainbow Magic books from hdydi.com

Halloween DIY Costumes - HDYDI.com

M as Amber the Orange Fairy and J as Heather the Violet Fairy.

In the first of our chapter book series reviews, J, M and I would like to introduce you to Rainbow Magic by Daisy Meadows. M and J love these books so much that they even dressed up as characters from them for Halloween a few years ago. It was when I realized that my daughters were actually reading these books, not just looking at line drawings, that I figured out that they could read.

Rainbow Magic trivia: Daisy Meadows is actually the pseudonym for a group of four women who write these books together. They’ve done some really great marketing. There are sticker books and paper dolls and all sorts of Rainbow Magic craziness out there.

M J Sadia
What are these books about? The Rainbow Fairies are one series. The Petal Fairies are another. At the end of the series at the 7th book, Jack Frost's heart softens but then at each series he starts having another kind of the fairies. First is Rainbow, then Weather, then Jewel, then Petal They are about Kirsty and Rachel helping out the Rainbow Fairies and Kirsty and Rachel are trying to get rid of the goblins and Jack Frost. Eventually, Jack Frost has a change of heart but only for a while. This series of books is divided into 7-book series, in each of which best friends Rachel and Kirsty must work together to find 7 magical objects (one per book) to save a group of fairies from the evil Jack Frost and his minions. The books can be read alone, but make the most sense read in order.
Who are the main characters? Kirsty, Rachel and the fairies and Jack Frost and his goblins. Jack Frost and his goblins are the bad guys who are trying to harm the fairies and the fairies and Kirsty and Rachel are trying to stop him. Rachel and Kirsty are elementary aged girls who meet on vacation in the first book, Ruby the Red Fairy, and become fast friends. Their adventures all occur while they're visiting each other.
Do you have a favourite book? Which one? That's hard, 'cause in each series I have a favourite! Well, Scarlett the Garnet Fairy in the Jewel Fairy series. And Amber in the Rainbow Fairy and then we have Goldie in the Weather Fairies and in the Animal Fairy Series, we have Ashley the Dragon Fairy. The Princess series, well there's Elisa the Royal Adventures Fairy. Anya the Cuddly Creatures from the Princess Fairies collection. Not really. They're really quite formulaic.
What do you like about these books? I love adventures. In most books, there are these cool boys who are the superheroes, but actually in this series there are fairies and two regular girls who are against goblins and their really mean master. They're really adventurous and you're inspired to fun things and play instead of things that require asking. You just know that you can do it. I have a soft spot for these books because they're the first one my girls read independently. I highly recommend them to get young girly girls engaged in reading and excited about books.
Is there anything you don't like about these books? No actually. They're my favourite series. No. They're great. Even though I'm a higher level than them, they're so nice. Once you've read one series, it's not hard to see where each of the others is going. I'm honestly surprised that my kids aren't bored with them yet.
How hard are these books to read? Only takes about 20 minutes, so not hard at all. Even though they're easy, they're nice. Beginning chapter books.
Do you think boys and girls would like them? Yes, actually, 'cause boys would like the superhero part and it would get girls to like goblins better and boys to like fairies better. Yeah! It has some pretty hilarious things boys and girls would like. They're really for everyone. I don't think so. They're very much targeted at little girls. The only recurring male characters are the bad guys and the girls' fathers.

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school and also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.