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That’s a lot September 18, 2013

“…we got each other,” she said, “and that’s a lot.” (from Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt)

I’ve been reading Crossing To Safety by Wallace Stegner and it has me thinking about friendship and family and the wealth therein. My family is reasonably comfortable now but we have been through times when we lived on a pittance. I will not romanticize living on little. It was stressful. But I can not tell you that we have ever been poor. We have always had the wealth of one another. It’s not just enough. It’s a lot. An excess of laughter and comfort and presence. I have always said that our one great talent is friendship and we have surrounded ourselves with just the loveliest people. It’s weird because we are introverts by nature yet we have these wide circles of friends and deep pools of them. We are also close to our families. We live where they live and we don’t plan to move away. This is what is most important to us, these people.

And the astonishing grace of the whole thing is that enough would have been enough. Just Jon and I loving each other or just our families or just a couple of close friends–any of these scenarios alone would have made us feel secure in affection and comfort. As Ma Ingalls said in one of the Little House books, “Enough is as good as a feast.” Enough would have been enough. But instead we have more than enough. We have a lot.

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Going to believe September 16, 2013

Filed under: Chapter Books,Classics — Kristi @ 9:25 pm
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I don’t know what lies around the bend, but I’m going to believe the best does. 

(from Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery)

 

 

 

This is now. September 5, 2013

Filed under: Chapter Books,Classics — Kristi @ 2:16 am

She thought to herself, “This is now.”

She was glad that the cozy house, and Pa and Ma and the firelight and the music, were now. They could not be forgotten, she thought, because now is now. It can never be a long time ago. (From Little House In The Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder)

 

When I think about now, I feel as if there could never be a better time or a time more worth remembering. Just now everything is going well and my healthy children are sleeping peacefully and all my needs and a lot of my wants are met. It’s a good place to be. We don’t have the kind of lack that creates fear and stress and we don’t have the kind of wealth that produces the same. My relationships are all fine. We just bought a house we love and we’re leaving a house that we have loved. I feel very cozy.

There have been times when I have lived in fear and worry. I was worried that the rug would be pulled out from under me, that if things were going well it must be just a matter of time before something goes terribly, terribly wrong. I had major anxiety about the safety of my husband when he was away from me or the safety of my children even while they were under my gaze. But what does it serve, this kind of worry?

As certain as I am that things are well right now, I am equally certain that they will not always be this way. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there are hard times to come because it is the way life is. Someday I will surely have to deal again with a crushing loss. It is entirely possible that we could yet face financial upheaval or a devastating injury or illness. Natural disasters will strike. Hardship is a given.

But now, right now, is a gift.

Rather than squander the gift worrying about what shape future hardship may take, I will snuggle down and enjoy it. I choose to enjoy the people around me and the time that we have together, the wonderful place in which we have the privilege of living. And someday when we do have something hard come our way, the memory of this time will be sweet to us. Now. This is now.

This is now.

 

Hello again! Are you still there? September 3, 2013

Filed under: Baby books,Classics,Uncategorized — Kristi @ 9:01 pm

I was overwhelmed and I had to take a few steps back. So I stopped posting. I love writing and I love this blog but for a season, it just didn’t rank high enough in the priority list. For a while, I needed to step back and focus where I was needed most. There are seasons like that and that’s okay. But I missed this. I missed you, reader. I missed the clicking of the keys as I type and the need to grab a sticky note for jotting quotes as I read to the kids.

Now, I’m no less busy than I was a year or six months ago. In fact, I may be busier than ever. But I am healthier and more capable of dealing with the many plates I juggle. So I’m back.

Let’s begin again where we began before, “In the great green room, there was a telephone…”

When I started this little blog, I was reading Goodnight Moon to my son. and he was an infant. Now he is four years old. We read chapter books to him now. But he still loves to hear the books he knew as a baby when we read them to his baby sister. And Goodnight Moon still has the power to calm their mama like nothing else. The cadence of those words slows my heart rate every time and I feel myself letting go.

So good night to-do list and household chores.

Good night to the loud neighbors next door.

Good night dirty socks.

Good night clocks.

Good night to the thing that’s been keeping me awake.

Good night to the calendar and the plans that we make.

Good night stars. Good night air. Good night noises everywhere. 

(from Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown)

And, for those of you who don’t have young children and may not have a copy of Goodnight Moon to calm you: http://youtu.be/9yu_g5x3ZoQ

 

Why do I love the Little House books? January 24, 2012

On the smooth, cream-colored page, in Ma’s fine handwriting, Laura read:

If wisdom’s ways you wisely seek,

Five things observe with care,

To whom you speak,

Of whom you speak,

And how, and when, and where

Your loving mother

C L Ingalls

(from Little Town On The Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder)

I received a comment a week or so ago asking why I love the Laura Ingalls Wilder books so much? I assume this question is mostly in response to the volume of quotes I have used from the Little House series in the last year. Typically, on this blog, you will see groups of quotes from whatever I’m reading at the time. So, in re-reading the series last year, I found many notable quotes and used them during that time. But the question is still an interesting one. Why do any of us love the books we end up loving? I thought about it for a while and I have some answers for this particular series.

First, I love them because my Mumsie gave me the boxed set for my eighth birthday. That was my favorite-ever birthday party: my mom and aunts set up little stations all through our house for my friends and me. We had a make-up station, hair station, and dress up station. She had my great-grandmothers beautiful old dresses (from the days when ladies had many occasions to dress to the nines) shortened for us to play in. We had the dresses, the gloves, the hair-spray smell, the ridiculousness of make-up on eight-year-old faces. Then we had petite fores and punch and other fancy things on my mother’s good china. There was a lace table-cloth on the table. I remember I had asked for a basketball for that birthday because my PE Teacher scolded that I needed lots of practice at home (I couldn’t dare tell her that in our two-sister home there were no basketballs to practice with and DON’T get me started on the PE methods in public education). I did get a basketball–just what I asked for and didn’t want. But I also got the boxed set of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books. I didn’t ask for them. I didn’t even know they existed. I had never heard of the television show based on them, we had not yet read one of them in school, but Mumsie told me she loved them when she was growing up. “Growing up.” That’s how she said it. Not, “I loved them when I was a little girl,” but “I loved them when I was growing up.” It made me feel like she thought I was growing up.

I read them straight through. In class later that year we read The Long Winter and I felt great that I had my own copy at home, so much better than the textbook version. By The Shores of Silver Lake was the first book that ever made me cry, when Laura became Mary’s eyes in a world that had gone dark, when she learned to sacrifice her own selfish desires to work toward sending Mary to college. For years after that, if I needed a good cry and couldn’t get the tears to come, I would pull Silver Lake down from the shelf and read a few chapters about Mary’s blindness. Silly, I know, but true. So I love the books for the memories first. Like my grandmother, I loved them when I was growing up.

And, I love them as a grown-up for a new set of reasons. I love them because they offer a gentle wisdom and a simple lifestyle in a crazy, commercial, speedy world. They take me back to the basics. They chastise me for always taking the easy way or the convenient way. They remind me to live well within my means, to not chase after everything my friends and neighbors have but to live with contentment. The Ingalls and Wilder families show beautiful examples of courage under pressure, grace in the face of tragedy, acceptance of hardships, determination, pluck, relationships, and humor. Sometimes I can hardly believe what they went through. I love the history of this country told through the eyes of a girl growing up in it. I love the romance between Charles and Caroline Ingalls and the romance between Laura and Almonzo Wilder.

In re-reading the series as an adult, I have been challenged to do things for myself that I might not have a few years ago. I am sewing my baby girl’s bedding and some other things for her nursery. I am venturing in to the world of cloth diapers (something I seriously thought was insane a couple of years ago when I had my son). I am making my own household products if I can’t find them at the rock bottom price I want to pay: laundry detergent, all-purpose cleaner, glass cleaner, etc. I make gifts for people I love instead of shopping around to buy them something. I feel like I’m living more abundantly and counting my blessings more readily. When something is hard for me, I think how easy my modern life is compared to the pioneer life and I am grateful.

I’m grateful that I don’t have to depend on the weather for the very food to feed my family. I’m grateful to be having babies in the twenty-first century when my 8lb 4oz breech baby could be delivered by c-section safely, when I can get a glimpse of my daughter in an ultrasound video to know she’s growing well. I’m grateful for electricity and technology, for community and all the books I want.

I love the Little House books because they remind me of growing up, because they challenge me as a grown-up to live more simply, to do without what I don’t need and to appreciate the luxuries of living when i do, and because they’re just flat good books that have stood the test of time.

 

 

An awfully big adventure January 18, 2012

Filed under: Chapter Books,Classics — Kristi @ 9:33 am
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Next moment he was standing erect on the rock again, with that smile on his face and a drum beating within him. It was saying, “To die will be an awfully big adventure.” (from Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie)

 

What your figure will be January 12, 2012

Filed under: Chapter Books,Classics — Kristi @ 3:04 pm
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“What your figure will be, goodness knows,” Ma warned her. “When I was married, your Pa could span my waist with his two hands.”

“He can’t now,” Laura answered, a little saucily. “And he seems to like you.” (from Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder)

This one made me smile. I’m glad my husband still seems to like me despite my greatly increased waistline. The bigger challenge for me is to still like myself (I mean, my physical self). It’s hard at times to accept a body that changes, even harder at a time when the public ideal is either skeletal thinness or body builder type muscle. It leaves the rest of us working incredibly hard to maintain something that at least looks okay when fully clothed.

I remember going to a museum a few years ago and seeing plaster castes of Renaissance era Greek statues–beautiful nudes of full-figured women lounging or standing. I couldn’t see any of their ribs, nor did a single one have defined abdominal muscles, but they were beautiful. At the time they were sculpted, they were the ideal of womanly beauty. In fact, many of them were the artists’ depictions of goddesses. It occurred to me then that the modern ideal of womanly beauty would look almost grotesque on a sculpture of that style. But that doesn’t keep me from yearning for a thinner, leaner figure.

I struggle to see the beauty in what my body has become–a heck of a lot closer to a Greek statue woman than a modern swimsuit model. I read a question the other day that made me laugh and sigh: If you could go back to your childhood or teenage years what is one thing you would do? My answer: I would wear shorts every warm day and appreciate my darling, thin, gorgeous legs. But I actually can’t go back to the summers when I had darling legs and wasted them, so what do I do with where I am now?

I take an honest look and force myself to be appreciative. My body has been good to me. It has done some incredible work. It grew up. It carried a baby (quite a good-sized one) and endured surgery to give him a safe entrance into the world. It provided his nourishment for the better part of his first two years. Now it is carrying another baby. It will endure another surgery in a few months. It is nurturing and growing an entire human who is growing at a remarkable rate. Once again it will produce milk to sustain the life of my child. My body is tired, but it keeps on giving to the baby. It is preparing for the next phase even as it does the good work of the phase we are in. It has a scar. It has more padding than it used to. But it’s a good body. It’s the body of a woman, not the body of a child. I’m actually pretty proud of it…even if I can’t wear shorts with much confidence anymore.

(Seriously, if you are sixteen years old, WEAR SHORTS every day that is warm enough!!!)