The Children's Book Quote of the Day

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The dandelion in the spring March 31, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Shanna @ 5:15 pm

What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again. (from Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins)

Winter in the northeast was mild this year—considerably milder than last year when this Texas transplant felt like she was frozen over heart and soul. I remember that when the first flowers began to bloom last year I was overwhelmed by a sense of relief. Life washed over me in waves of cheerful color, mild fragrance, the sound of birds singing. The heaviness and dirtiness and emptiness of winter peeled back to reveal renewal and hope and promise. This year, I feel it less acutely, but not less significantly. There’s no other way to say it—I love spring. And I need it. I need the hope it brings and the freshness. I need clusters of dandelions that make me believe in possibilities. I want bright tulips and daffodils to remind me that warmth follows austerity. That all of life flows through seasons and changes. I think we all need that.

 

Already there March 30, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kristi @ 3:46 pm

Do you know what it feels like when you think you know just where you want to go and maybe you’re already there?

It feels like you’re on Apollo 11, and the moon is in your sights.

That’s what it feels like.

(from Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt)

Okay, it’s time to be transparent. I’ve been a bit quiet on the subject because I’ve felt ashamed and embarrassed, but here it is. For months now I’ve been struggling with a heaviness, a depression that has clouded my days. It’s such a strange feeling to just drag through the days and fight for happiness in things that normally delight effortlessly. This feeling is in no way circumstantial. That’s one reason why it’s been so embarrassing. I feel like I don’t have the right to feel sad, to be so completely overwhelmed by normal household tasks. I’m told this is a not uncommon symptom of pregnancy, that actually one in five pregnant women struggle throughout pregnancy with depression of some kind. But I didn’t think it could happen to me. And I have fought it hard, exhausting myself further, but not giving myself over to the sadness and the shame. I have forced myself to go outside when I wanted to stay holed in. I have said yes to invitations for spending time with friends when I really longed for seclusion. I have prayed for my eyes to be open to things I can be thankful for. I have watched stupid comedy shows with my husband. It has helped. It has kept me from descending into the pit. But I have not felt totally free from the pressing burden of it yet.

Yesterday I saw the first light at the end of this tunnel. For the first time in a while, I felt joy without effort and the feeling that I might just make it through with my true self in tact. What brought it on?

The smell of sunscreen.

The warm sun on my bare arm as I drove.

The sight of bluebonnets on the roadside.

Instinctively, my fingers sought out just the right spot on the radio dial and in seconds I relaxed under Alan Jackson’s voice.

I glanced in the rear view mirror and saw my own eyes, a part of me that hasn’t expanded with the years or aged or faded and I could have been nineteen years old still driving my first car, in love with Jon, and driving nowhere specific in a time when, at $0.99/gallon, driving was cheap therapy.

A flood of memories like so many waves of Texas bluebonnets and I remembered everything I wanted so much when I was young and cute and tan. I wanted Jon. Because he was gentle and cute and strong with rough hands and eyes that looked even more blue when he was dirty. Because he loved Jesus and was a good friend and a good football player and smart too. I wanted to kiss him until my lips were too chapped and I wanted to hold his hand and be seen holding it and I wanted to marry him and have babies that would look just like him. I wanted to write. I would drive under the spectacular Texas sky, which was sometimes blue like Jon’s eyes and sometimes on fire with sunset oranges and pinks and sometimes lit shockingly with lightening that could kill you or make you alive. I would drive under that sky and have to pull over to write furiously on scraps of paper that littered the red seats of my little car. I wanted to write about things that I loved and things that inspired me and I wanted to do it for myself and maybe share some of it with other people, in hopes that they would love those things too and be inspired with me. I wanted to help. I wanted to encourage people and give them what they needed to press on, to show them grace, to pluck them up like sunflowers in the late morning. I wanted to keep my friends forever. I wanted to see them go out and get their dreams but to still stay connected. I wanted to grow up and be in charge of a house and a few cute kids and meet mommies just like me who were grown up and in charge of houses and kids. These are things I wanted at nineteen.

And as these memories of wishes were swimming around in the cool water of Alan Jackson’s voice, I looked in the rear view again and this time saw another pair of eyes–that blue, like the sky, bluebonnets, the ocean–eyes that look like Jon’s and belong to our son. On the steering wheel, the faded tan lines around the finger that is too swollen for the wedding band he gave me when I was twenty. In my womb, the kicks of our daughter, who I’m just certain will have the eyes. I got Jon and his gorgeous babies too. I can kiss him anytime I want.

“I’m going to write about this feeling on the blog,” I thought. I get to write. As much as I want to, I can write about the things that inspire me, the things I love, the lessons I learn on the drive. It’s mostly just for myself, but a few hundred other people stop by here every day and read it too. Sometimes one or two of you say that it reminds you of things you love, that it inspires, or that it helps. Thanks for saying that.

I get to help. I get to work with a local chapter of Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS), and encourage new moms when it’s hard to adjust from the life of a busy, social, working woman to an exhausted, solitary, rocking mama. When it’s hard to watch your body go from cute and tight to squishy and comfortable. I get to help and encourage and remind them that it’s wonderful and worth it, and they do the same for me.

I still have my friends. I have watched them go out and get their dreams. I have hugged them in their graduation robes, stood with them at their weddings, read their blogs from far away places, rocked their babies, and known that all over the country and all over the world, we are still friends. People who know the stupidest things I’ve said and done, but don’t ever remind me.

I grew up. I’m in charge of a house (although I haven’t kept it up well lately) that has been our home since we married. The house Jon’s mama rocked him in as a baby is where I have the privilege of rocking my babies. It’s a house that, after almost eight years, is still mostly furnished with hand-me-downs but I double dare you to find a more comfortable couch for a pregnant lady to rest when her feet are enormous at the end of the long day or a kitchen table with more charm than the one my grandparents once bought from a fifties era ice cream shop that closed. I won’t defend the carpet. That can go anytime.

I found some mommy friends, a lot like me, to sit with at the park or the pool while our sweet things play together. They don’t know every stupid thing I ever said or did as a teenager. They don’t know how cute my figure used to be. But I can wear shorts in front of them even if my legs are white and fleshy without embarrassment. They don’t hold against me the things that come out of my mouth when pregnancy has eaten all of my brain cells up. Because they’ve been there too. I didn’t know them back when my boobs first came in, but I can breastfeed right in front of them with no cover on a hot day and they won’t bat an eyelash. They don’t laugh at me overmuch if I cry at a commercial. They know about the hormones. They are so different from my childhood friends, these mommy friends. What would I do without them?

I got everything I wanted. I didn’t deserve it all, but I got it. Every part of my life is pure grace. How could I not be grateful? How could I not smile in the face of it all? I don’t know how long it’ll all last. Our lives can change in the blink of an eye, I know. But right this minute, there’s nothing I want for. It’s enough to lift a girl out of the depression cloud, way out into the sunshine again.

 

Whole March 21, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kristi @ 9:43 am

There aren’t too many things around that are whole, you know. You look hard at most anything, and it’s probably beat up somewhere or other. Beat up, or dinged up, or missing a piece, or tattooed…

When you find something that’s whole, you do what you can to keep it that way.

And when you find something that isn’t, then maybe it’s not a bad idea to try to make it whole again. Maybe.

(from Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt)

 

Confidence is ignorance March 18, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Shanna @ 4:15 pm

Confidence is ignorance. If you’re feeling cocky, it’s because there’s something you don’t know. (from Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer)

When I’m writing papers, this is usually how I feel. I’m a raving perfectionist, and I’m always convinced that I’ve missed something I should have read or researched or included. It’s something that has made my academic life much harder, because I inevitably do way more than is ultimately necessary, and also better, because I also inevitably do pretty good work. Now, here’s the problem. This paper I’m working on right now? I feel pretty confident. Which has me wondering what I’m missing . . .

 

Leprechauns March 17, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Shanna @ 5:34 pm

Well, leprechauns. You know they’re not real, don’t you? (from Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer)

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh! That’s happy St. Patrick’s Day to you non-Irish speakers. Which I know is probably all of you, and that is exactly why I’m foisting that lovely language upon you. I love St Patrick’s Day mostly because it’s a day when everyone thinks about how awesome Ireland is. Since I study Irish literature, I spend a fair bit of time thinking about how awesome Ireland is (and especially how awesome Irish writers are). And Ireland is one of my favorite places in the world, second only to Texas. Normally, I celebrate this day by cooking and eating delicious Irishy things, but I don’t have time to do that today because I’m working on a paper that’s due tomorrow. Well, at least it’s about James Joyce’s novel Ulysses; if I’m going to spend the holiday writing, it may as well be focused on Ireland’s most important writer.

And the quote today comes from my favorite Irish children’s novel series, Artemis Fowl. Enjoy! Oh, and in case you’re still trying to sound out the author’s first name, it’s pronounced “Owen.” Betcha didn’t know Owen was an Irish name, did you?

 

Balance March 15, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kristi @ 11:43 am

“Balance can be achieved in two different kinds of conditions,” said Mr. Powell. “Stable and unstable.” (from Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt)

 

A deep, wide abyss March 12, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kristi @ 2:24 pm

Unfortunately there’s often a deep, wide abyss between good intentions and concrete action. (from The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen)

I wonder about the deep, wide abyss between good intentions and concrete action, and how many of them leapt across it. (from The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen)

You see families on the news devastated by tornadoes, and maybe you jot down the address for where to send collections to help. But do you send anything? You read an article about children living in garbage heaps in Central America and you cry for them, your heart breaks. But do you decide to take the leap and sponsor one of them? You know a friend is going through a tough time and you plan to give her a call when you have a minute. Does that minute ever come?

It’s hard. You have great intentions, but leaping that abyss is so hard. To sponsor a child or send aid to disaster victims costs money that may not be in your family’s budget. To call a friend or send a card or email takes time out of a busy life. Everything costs you something. Nothing that helps just happens.

I am the world’s worst. My biggest abyss is the post office. I am so lazy when it comes to the post office. I don’t want to go there. I’ve never yet found the magical time when the lines aren’t outrageously long. I don’t want to drag my son in. I don’t have quarters for the parking meter. I am uncomfortable with the whole process–are you supposed to have everything packaged and ready at home or do you use the boxes they have there? If I send a favorite cereal box to a friend living in a country that doesn’t have that kind, will there be some sort of restriction I’m not aware of? My excuses about going to the post office could go on and on. This is why family members get Christmas gifts late even though I am typically finished buying/making stuff at least a month before Christmas. This is why I eventually used a baby gift I had intended to send to a cousin for my own child after two years. Two years! I mean, after a while, it just seemed silly to send it so it went in the closet until I had a baby of my own. I don’t attempt to send baby gifts anymore unless they ship directly from Amazon.com or are gift cards.

But today I am going to attempt to leap the abyss and send a card. I saw a request on facebook via Traffick911, a Texas based group devoted to rescuing women and children from sex trafficking. They have a young girl they have been helping after her rescue from domestic minor sex trafficking. This was their facebook post today:

Our girl who was admitted to the psych hospital called over the weekend. She is doing better and has little memory of what happened leading up to the hospital. She said she is being tortured by the flashbacks. She also said she can’t believe we all still love her and want to help. Let’s show her how much we believe in her. Send your note of encouragement or small gift to:

M
c/o Traffick911
P.O. Box 11821
Fort Worth, TX 76110

Please share this post, so others will know to encourage her. A gift might include a small stuffed animal, an inspirational book or CD, a plaque with an encouraging saying, or something along those lines. 

I love the work of groups like Traffick911. I still can hardly believe that modern day slavery exists and is tolerated on the scale that it is. Do you know that there are more slaves in the world now than at any other time in history? Isn’t that disgusting? I try to buy products that are slave-free, but sometimes you don’t know. I try to get the word out, to spread awareness of the problem of the sex trade in the United States, but sometimes people don’t listen. I try to buy Christmas gifts from organizations that sell items handmade by rescued girls in India and Nepal, but I can’t afford to buy all of them. But this is something I can do. I can write a card to a girl who is tortured by flashbacks. I can say, “I believe in you. You will get through this. It wasn’t your fault. I don’t know you but I know there is hope for you.” I can do that. I just have to go to the post office. And if she can take the long journey from the enslaved life to the life set free, if she can start from scratch and find a way to live and try to forget, surely I can put a couple of quarters in the parking meter, take my toddler by the hand, and walk my privileged pregnant self into the post office to deliver a few lines of hope and love.

If you feel for girls like this, could you do the same? Maybe, if you’re an actual adult (unlike me) who has stamps in the house already, you could send a note without even leaving your house.