The Children's Book Quote of the Day

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To decide how December 31, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kristi @ 11:46 pm

There are always scary things happening in the world. There are always wonderful things happening. And it’s up to you to decide how you’re going to approach the world…how you’re going to live in it, and what you’re going to do. (from Countdown by Deborah Wiles)

I lay on the floor of my son’s room, wrapped in a soft alpaca blanket and listening for his breathing to change so I’ll know he’s really asleep. I can hear fireworks exploding, people celebrating the going out of one year and the coming of another. In our little home we have plenty to celebrate, and for that I am glad and grateful.

I’m glad because it really has been a good year–we had a baby (the world’s most beautiful and sweetest baby, I might add), we had the best year yet for our marriage, it’s been a year of reconnecting with friends, we’ve made new friends, we’ve enjoyed good health, we’ve enjoyed the imagination and wonder of our son. It’s just been good. I feel both braver and smarter at the end of this year. My life is full and joyful and sweet. I turned 30 and I feel good about it, like I’m grown up but still plenty young. I’m just glad.

And I’m grateful because I know. I know that every year won’t be like this. And I know that for many, both friends and strangers, this has been the hardest year of their lives. I know three mamas who have buried their sons this year. Their sons. A seven-year-old, a two-month-old, and a ten-year-old. I know two mamas who had their baby girls extremely prematurely this year (twenty-three weeks and twenty-six weeks) and though both babies are well, the struggles are not finished. I have friends who have buried a parent this year and the thought that I will someday have to do this makes my throat hurt so that I can hardly breathe. A young girl who occasionally babysits for us lost her grandmother and I so remember when I lost mine at that same age and how deeply I felt it. Deployments, changed plans, miscarriages, caring for parents and job losses–the weight of what acquaintances of mine have endured is staggering. These are just the things among people I know or have crossed paths with. We have, all of us, seen also horrific things unfold across the world. Terrible things and violent things. I won’t name them.

What will we do with that? What will we do with the knowledge that some years we get to celebrate and enjoy all of the good things in life and maybe the next year we will just try to survive in a fog of grief and fear? How can we face each new day, month, year knowing that it could be wonderful or it could be horrible and neither is very much in our control?

I’ve decided to do it like this. I will celebrate when it’s time to celebrate. I will enjoy my children and my family and friends and try to be flexible. If we get to see friends one last night before they scatter to California and Israel and Chicago and Atlanta, I will keep my kids up way too late and just enjoy the time. It doesn’t matter what time is bed time when it is friend time. I will laugh out loud at the hilarious things my son says and does and I will let him wear a pirate patch everywhere we go. I will take him to see the things he is interested in, to do the things he wants to do–camping, fishing, aquariums, mini-golf, dinosaur prints, whatever. Let’s do it. I will rock my baby to sleep and kiss her fluffy cheeks until they are chapped and put her hair in little pig tails and do whatever makes her giggle and I will enjoy it all. I will kiss my husband until our lips are chapped. I will pay for a sitter and enjoy more dates with my husband. I will invite friends into my home no matter how messy it is because friendship is vital. I will enjoy life while it is great. And I will hold space in my heart and my prayers for the ones who are not celebrating. I will remember their children’s names and talk to them about the ones they’ve lost. Liam. Ezra. Rex. I will remember them. I will honor them in my own small ways–donations, ornaments on my Christmas tree, writing their names in my prayer journal. I will continue to spend tears on behalf of the hurting. I will strive to make sure our family does not contribute to the suffering of others by buying fairly traded goods. I will try to add to the wonderful things happening in the world–acts of kindness, good humor, writing uplifting things, sending letters of encouragement, baking good stuff and sharing it.

There are always scary things happening in the world, but I don’t want to live in fear. There are always wonderful things happening and I want to enjoy the wonder. This is how I’m going to live.

Happy New Year. Thank you for reading.

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Is this ad relevant to you? December 10, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kristi @ 11:04 pm
Tags: , , ,

Maybe that’s why Brother and Sister Bear got the gimmies. Or maybe it was because there were treats, toys, and fun things to do wherever they looked–at the supermarket, at the mall, on TV, and just about every which-where. (from The Berentain Bears Get The Gimmies by Stan Berenstain and Jan Berenstain)

The kids are napping, the dishwasher is whirring, the washing machine is agitating, and I’m taking a break from the sewing machine so I pull up Hulu.com to catch up on my favorite shows. I could be doing other things. The floor needs vacuuming but the kids are sleeping and I don’t have one of those really quiet and awesome robotic vacuum cleaners. I wish.

“This hulu program is brought to you with limited commercial interruptions by ________,” I hear announcer guy’s voice say.” I click the mouse to adjust the volume. The commercial plays and across the top of the screen a question: Is this ad relevant to you? I click No, because it is a commercial for perfume and besides the fact that I don’t wear perfume, I hate fragrance commercials. I just don’t understand why the pretty people are always running through fields and making out with small glass bottles of fragrance or standing mostly nude in the ocean looking fierce. As the commercial plays out, I pour myself a cold glass of water from the office style water cooler in the kitchen and grab myself a snack.

I laugh at the antics of the Dunder Mifflin employees or the parks department staff and when another commercial comes on, I’m curious to see if Hulu has changed gears now that they know I don’t want to see fragrance ads. Make up. Expensive brand. Silly, I think. I wouldn’t pay that much for make up. That’s ridiculous. What is the matter with us here in this country that we think it’s acceptable to pay that much for cosmetics? But, oh, okay, well it’s on sale. Oh, and it comes with a free gift. Ooooh, tempting. Fat lipstick pencils–what a great idea!–and I do like that color…and that one! I can’t even remember the last time I bought any make up and I do make it last for a really long time, so when you divide it out by the number of months I’ll use it, it’s really not that pricey. And I could use that free gift for a Christmas present for someone. Okay, who should I give that to? “Is this ad relevant to you?” Hulu wants to know. And I stop my crazy thoughts. I really don’t need fat lipstick pencils. I have a drawer full of make up options in the bathroom and I usually end up wearing the same stuff every day anyway. My Christmas gift list is made. I don’t need a free gift for anyone else. This ad is NOT working on me, I want to tell Hulu. But the truth is, it almost did. It was relevant for me.

Amazon knows me well. They suggest things I might like and I agree with them. Deal sites. Need I say more? I mean, I’m not looking for new shoes, but if the deal site has Vibram fivefingers on sale half off, I might as well see if they have my size! When I shop at Target and use my debit card, they track my purchases, learn my preferences, and the cash register prints out coupons for things they already know my family uses. It’s almost creepy, the way the “ad experience” as it’s now known, is tailored to each consumer.

I don’t want to be a consumer before I am a citizen. I want the ads to not be so relevant to me. But they are. The problem is this: I have the gimmies.

I want a robot vacuum cleaner. I want a food processor. I want cookie cutters that can spell out any message I want. I want Christopher Radko Christmas ornaments. I want Vibrams in black. I want a pretty cabinet to hide my TV in. I want books.  Want, want, want. Gimmie, gimmie, gimmie.

It’s exactly what I want my children to be free from. But can I be free myself? When there are treats, toys, and fun things to do everywhere I look, can I instead learn to look within, to face up to my discontent once and for all? I believe there are a couple of ways to handle discontent. One is to feed it with one product after another than promises to make my life easier and happier and better, to chase that dangling carrot one step at at time into a place of exhaustion and even deeper discontent. Another way is to starve it with gratitude, with the blazing truth that I already have everything I need, that every problem I have is a first world problem, and that less sometimes really is more. If I feed discontent, it will surely grow until it is bloated. If I starve it with gratitude, my hope is that is will someday disappear.

So I’m grateful for the clothes we have and the machine that washes them with so little effort on my part. I am thankful for the food we easily afford, the dishes we eat it on, and the machine that cleans those as well. I am thankful for the break in my day that is nap time and a television comedy. I really have more than enough. And isn’t that the very definition of abundance? Wouldn’t it be foolish to live in abundance and choose to remain discontent? I choose contentment. I hope I can teach my children to choose it. I hope that one day I can answer no to Hulu every time they ask me, “Is this ad relevant to you?” No, I am content. No, I have enough. No, I know the difference between a want and a need and advertising professionals cannot make me confuse them. No.

 

My plans December 6, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kristi @ 10:01 pm

“I don’t like messes,” I told him. “I like my plans.” (from Each Little Bird That Sings by Deborah Wiles)

 

Kin December 5, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kristi @ 4:55 pm

Uncle Edisto always told me, “Everybody’s kin, Comfort.” (from Each Little Bird That Sings by Deborah Wiles)

 

Stronger

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kristi @ 4:45 pm

“Taking care of someone can teach you a great deal,” he said. “It’s troublesome, and it’s easy to get annoyed, but your heart, well, it gets stronger. You do it for Tommy, of course, but you do it for yourself, too.” (from Wish by Joseph Monninger)