The Children's Book Quote of the Day

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What’s the point? November 9, 2012

Filed under: Chapter Books — Kristi @ 1:05 am
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I don’t think she has very much fun, and what’s the point in being that clean if it means you never get to have any fun? (from Ellray Jakes is NOT a chicken! by Sally Warner)

I have always said the best way to get my house clean is to invite people over. If I know someone is coming, historically, I clean in a frenzy and make it perfect because I want people to believe I am some sort of superior housekeeper and that it always looks like this. And, for a long time, I went around feeling somewhat inadequate in the housekeeping department because every house I went to was spotless and I believed these houses remained in a permanent state of cleanliness that I had been woefully unable to achieve in my own. Not so, reader. Not so.

About a year ago, a friend invited my son and me to her house for a play date and when we got there I was struck by how messy her house was. I don’t mean that to sound rude. When I say it was messy, I mean that there were scattered toys, junk mail was on the table in a careless heap, dishes were in and around the sink, and I could tell the counter top had not been freshly wiped. When I say it was messy, I mean that it was exactly like my  house most of the time. It was normal. It was just their home the way they actually live in it. I couldn’t fathom the kind of confidence she must have had, to be able to invite people over in such a relaxed way, with no fresh smell of Lemon Clorox greeting friends at the door. When I got home I just felt so blessedly normal.

So I don’t clean my house for play dates anymore either. And, as a result, I have people over a lot more. Which means I have more fun. I no longer see the state of my home as a barrier to hospitality. You know what? We have a messy desk. There is pureed pumpkin stuck to the kitchen floor. There are whisker hairs on the bathroom sink and I can see a sock peeking out from under a toy peeking out from under the couch. It is what it is and what it is, is normal. I bet you have a junk mail pile too. So why stuff it in a drawer or cabinet before I come over? So I will think you are the type of magical person who has no paper pile? I am not relaxed around those magical people. I am relaxed around people who make me feel normal.

I worked a charity tour of homes once when I was in high school and the house I was helping give tours in was one of those that you can very briefly describe and everyone in town knows which house it is. (Oh, the big stone house on Bennett that always has a limo out front? I know that house!) It literally had an elevator in it. And one of the bedrooms had leopard print carpet. One of the bathrooms had a mural of the home owner painted on the tile. One of the bedrooms had a ceiling raised several feet to accommodate a piece of furniture. Anyway. It was that kind of house. Just before the tour, the home owner (as gorgeous and strange as her house) showed me around and gave me the spiel. When we entered one of the bathrooms, she said, “Ooops! I forgot to move these!” and hid the toothbrushes in a cabinet. I thought that was so funny–to hide your toothbrushes–to make it look like a house in a magazine spread that no one really lives in. And the truth is, I have tried and tried to imagine someone relaxing there and I can’t. It’s just too perfect.

Do I want to create an environment that people want to tour and photograph or one where people want to live and breathe and have a good time? Well, I might put the gnarly, twisted toothpaste tube in the bathroom cabinet, but our toothbrushes are out for the world to see.



Important November 7, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kristi @ 10:00 am

It’s important to have already used the bathroom before climbing trees. (from Alvin-Ho: Allergic To Camping, Hiking, And Other Natural Disasters by Lenore Look)


If you wish November 5, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kristi @ 4:48 pm

If you wish for something, it stands a chance of happening.

(from Wish by Joseph Monninger)

The other day, while the baby napped, my son and I spent some time gathering pecans in our front yard. This is one of the things I love about autumn–Texas may not have the gorgeous, fiery foliage the Northeast brags, but we have delicious pie ingredients filling our yards from September to December. Benjamin was full of energy and excitement.

Mom! Some of the pecans are hiding in these little pecan boats!

This is a little, tiny, baby pecan, Mom!

Wow! Mom! They have FOOD in them?!

The realization that the trees literally rain food down on our heads filled my sweet boy with wonder and pure enjoyment.

Then he found a dandelion–a final dandelion, like the yard was holding on to that last piece of summer–one that had gone to seed. He held it up to me and I thought he would burst with the joy of it. I FOUND one, Mom!!!

“Did you make a wish?” I asked him as he blew the dandelion seeds and we watched them scatter into the sky like snowflakes going the wrong way.

A wish?

“You’re supposed to make a wish when you blow on a dandelion. What do you wish for?”

I just wish for more of these dandy flowers.

I laughed because, of all the things he could wish, that is the most likely to come true, much to my husband’s chagrin. (He is a fan of landscaping, and not a fan of dandelions.) And I thought, how wonderful that the one thing he wishes for will happen because he blew the seeds himself. They will spread and germinate and become new dandelions next summer.

I look at my children and you know, I wish it was a better world. I wish the evening news didn’t fill me with sorrow. I wish that every little boy and girl could be well fed and clothed, could have clean drinking water, medicine when they need it, and protection. We try to provide these things for our children. I wish my fed, clothed, healthy, safe and loved children will have compassion and empathy. I hope they can avoid the entitlement and narcissism our culture will certainly try to push on them. These are my wishes.

I hold them like a dandelion between my fingers, in front of my lips. How can I spread the seeds of these wishes in a way that they take root and grow?

I explain, gently and firmly, every time we are in the grocery store and my son asks for certain candies, why we don’t buy that kind of chocolate. I show him again the way to tell if chocolate is slave free. Then I spend a just a little bit extra to buy the right kind of chocolate. So that a child slave doesn’t have to work with a machete in the blistering sun to indulge my first world craving.

I lead my son in giving, in buying from good organizations, in supporting good causes. I explain it to him simply. As he grows, we will explain it more fully. I pray that he will understand. I pray that he will have empathy and compassion.

But I struggle, because I love Christmas. I love wrapping gifts and hanging beautiful ornaments and giving good gifts that I know loved ones will like. I love the extra baking and the extra eating of the holiday season. I struggle because I know that Americans, myself among them, spend more money on the Christmas season than it would take to deliver clean water to the world. I don’t want my children to be narcissists, but I also don’t want them to resent all the things we try to teach them because they are the only ones left out. That’s why we didn’t give up chocolate altogether, but we indulge in fairly traded and responsibly sourced chocolate. With Christmas looming, it’s tricky.

So imagine my delight at finding something today that allows you to spend money AND give to worthy causes at the same time. I could explain it to you myself, but I don’t think I could do it any better than Jen Hatmaker has already done. So I will simply refer you to her very excellent blog post Before You Spend Another Penny. It explains how you can get connected to Pure Charity and make the most of money you are spending anyway.

Even if you don’t read Jen’s post, please bookmark Pure Charity and check it out when you have time. Together, we can make a little bit go a really long way. We can spread the seeds of so many dandelions and give our own best wishes a chance.