The princess laughed and clapped her hands in delight. “A story!” she exclaimed. “And an adventure story at that! What a fine gift.” (from Clever Jack Takes The Cake by Candace Fleming)
Made time June 14, 2012
Amos had a lot to do at the zoo, but he always made time to visit his good friends. (from A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead)
First of all, this Caldecott Medal winning book is gorgeous. The illustrations by Erin E. Stead are beautiful and the story is sweet, calming, and fun. It feels like a vintage children’s book in the best way but was published in 2011. Absolutely charming.
My friend, Christy, gave this book to our children last week and Benjamin has wanted to read it at least once a day since then, which is fine with me. I am the coordinator of a local chapter of Mother’s Of Preschoolers (MOPS) and every year we are given a theme book to base our MOPS year on. This year’s theme book is called Mom Connection by Tracey Bianchi and I really enjoyed reading it while I was in the hospital recovering from the birth of my daughter last month. One of the challenges in the book that caught my attention was to be intentional about creating the environment you want for your family. She asks the question, “What do you want your family to be famous for?” I thought about it a lot and Jon and I talked about what we would want to be “our thing,” the thing people would know us for. I have a friend whose family I always think of as creative and crafty because every time I talk to her or look at her facebook profile they are making something fun together. Another friend’s family I think of as athletic and outdoorsy, always getting out into nature together and staying fit.
My friend’s timing in giving A Sick Day for Amos McGee to my children is astonishing to me because I had been thinking so much about what we wanted to be known for and decided that we wanted to be the family that always makes time for our friends. We don’t want to be always waiting for a more convenient season to go away for the weekend with good friends or waiting until we know we can get the house clean before we invite someone new over. We don’t want to ignore a phone call from an out of town friend because we’re in the middle of some mess or another. We want to be the ones that say, “Hey, the house is a wreck, but come on over. If you can step over the toys and make your way to the kitchen I’ll make us some tea.” We were in Ft. Worth in the fall for a friend’s wedding and the temptation was to hurry home afterward, pick up our son, unpack our bags and get ready for the week ahead. Instead, we called other friends that live in Ft. Worth and stayed long enough to enjoy a long lunch with them before we made the drive home. It was so much better that way. I haven’t taken our daughter to church yet (too many germs for a newborn there!) so I put her in the Moby wrap last week and went to a movie while my husband and son were at church. Other than my infant daughter, I was the youngest person in the theater and I enjoyed watching elderly ladies and gentlemen come in with their friends and laugh and comment together at the parts they enjoyed. I want to maintain my friendships in such a way that we can enjoy catching a movie together when we’re in our eighties and talk about the ones we saw together in our twenties and thirties. After church, my husband thought he might go home and work in the yard a bit. Instead, he stayed around my parents’ house to watch Duck Dynasty with my dad. Then our good friend came over and we spent the rest of the afternoon chatting and catching up. Before we knew it, we were late for dinner with some other good friends. We were supposed to bring vegetables and had nothing prepared. Instead of wasting more time away from our friends, we just grabbed some zucchini and squash out of the fridge, our favorite infused olive oil, and some cheese and just showed up at their house with unprepared food. They didn’t mind. They are our friends. My husband didn’t get anything done in the yard that day, but the time invested in all of these relationships was so much more valuable.
Sometimes I fall into the trap of thinking other things are more important. We have a small and crowded house with a kitchen table that only seats four. So sometimes I am reluctant to have more than a few people over at a time because I am self-conscious about asking people to eat in their laps! But the times I have gotten over it and just invited people to crowd on in have been some of my favorite memories in this house. I have to remind myself of that and just open the handprint smudged door wide.
Like Amos McGee, we have a lot to do in this zoo we call our lives, but our family has decided to be intentional about making time for our friends.
Grown-ups never understand January 10, 2012
Grown-ups never understand anything for themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them. (from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
I didn’t understand that being the best mom possible would mean learning the truth that there is no such thing as a perfect mom.
I didn’t understand that it wouldn’t be my job to teach him patience; it would be my job to learn it by being his mom.
I didn’t understand that trains are more important than schedules, that dinosaurs will never be extinct in the minds of little boys, or that bacon is the real magic word.
I didn’t understand that the first tucking-in doesn’t always take. I didn’t know that sometimes you just have to say goodnight five more times with kisses and prayers.
It seems I rarely understand anything for myself and Benjamin is always and forever explaining things to me.
In listening October 14, 2011
And so he listened. And in his listening, his heart opened wide and then wider still. (from The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo)
Free (repost) September 12, 2011
(I did not have a chance to post this yesterday. Sorry.)
“And the turtles, of course…all the turtles are free As turtles and, maybe, all creatures should be.” (from Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss)
In 1776, fifty-six men did a brave thing when they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to say, “Don’t tread on me!” Because of them, generations of their descendents and the descendents of the weary travelers that came after them have known nothing but liberty all their lives. We have sometimes given away rights that they gave everything to secure. May we find the courage, when needed, to resurrect the old banner “Give me liberty or give me death.” And more than anything, may we stand firm and breathe freely in the liberty secured for us more than two thousand years ago by a man who died for us all.
Our hearts go out to the families whose remembrance today is not national, but personal. And although I did not quote from it today, I recommend The Man Who Walked Between The Towers by Mordicai Gerstein.
Anticipation December 10, 2010
Anticipation means, I’ve been thinking all day about making the cookies. I’m so excited. I can’t wait. (from Christmas Cookies: Bite-Size Holiday Lessons by Amy Krouse Rosenthal)
Anticipaion means, I’ve been thinking all week about giving away a great children’s book. I’m so excited. I can hardly wait. Monday is the big day! (And also, I am anticipating baking at my friend Meg’s new house tomorrow. She has a double convection oven. It’s very exciting for me.)
Moderation means December 2, 2010
Moderation means at the party not having twenty cookies, and not having zero cookies, but having just enough cookies. (from Christmas Cookies: Bite-Size Holiday Lessons by Amy Krouse Rosenthal)
One of the great joys of unpacking my Christmas boxes last week was getting this beautiful book out. I cannot recommend Christmas Cookies enough. Rosenthal’s “bite-size” life lessons combined with Jane Dyer’s gorgeous art make it the perfect Christmas book.
I chose this quote as a reminder to myself as the Christmas party invitations start to pile up. Moderation, Kristi. Moderation. Now I will have this sweet quote in my head to help me. In a way, I could look at it as permission to enjoy a few cookies (or brownies or slices of caramel apple or cups of punch or hot chocolate) because Rosenthal says moderation doesn’t mean you have zero cookies. It means you have just enough. Thanks, Amy Rosenthal.
Thank goodness November 28, 2010
Thank goodness for all of the things you are not!
Thank goodness you’re not something someone forgot,
and left all alone in some punkerish place
like a rusty tin coat hanger hanging in space. (from Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? by Dr. Seuss)
This is my belated Thanksgiving post. I didn’t want you to think I ignored Thanksgiving–I love Thanksgiving and would never ignore it. I was just enjoying the day itself so much that I didn’t turn on the computer to post a quote. This year it seems like I keep hearing about people who are, in the words of Dr. Seuss, “so much-much, so muchly much-much more unlucky” than me. It has come home to me just how many things I have to be thankful for. I am grateful for the reminders.
This morning, I had an incredibly embarrassing moment in church when my child ran from me across the back of the sanctuary, down an aisle, and straight to the front where the preacher was preaching. We don’t have carpet in our church, so the whole time I was chasing him I was painfully aware of the sound of my high-heeled shoes click-click-clicking and echoing around the room. I was also painfully aware of the giggling congregation as my husband intercepted the runaway on the other side of the front row. But, as I was carrying him out the back door and trying to walk on the tip toes of high heels to minimize the sound, I just kept thinking that I’d rather be in this situation than a lot of others. I’d rather be chasing my healthy, rambunctious boy through a church in front of everybody than holding his hand in a hospital room or watching our house burn down, to name just a few I’ve heard this week.
As turtles should be November 1, 2010
And the turtles, of course…all the turtles are free
As turtles and, maybe, all creatures should be. (from Yertle The Turtle and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss)
Exactly ten years ago I boarded a Lufthansa airplane and flew from Dallas, TX to Frankfurt, Germany. Then to Budapest, Hungary, from which I took a double decker bus into Romania. I was seventeen years old on a Shoes For Orphan Souls shoe delivery trip with about forty Americans, only one of whom I personally knew. So many things about that trip have impacted my life–the lonely suffering of the orphans chief among them. I think about some aspect of it at least once a week. You would expect the suffering and poverty and even the romance of an old European city to impact a seventeen-year-old American girl. But there was one aspect of the trip I doubt anyone could have predicted would hit me the way it did.
The American presidential election.
I was only a few weeks shy of my eighteenth birthday, so I wasn’t able to vote that year. I wasn’t an ignorant teenager. I knew how important elections were in my country. But as we drove through the Romanian countryside, I was surprised to see Romanian citizens listening raptly to the radio report of the results of an election so many miles away. They were so invested in it. I didn’t understand why they cheered until they started to translate the report for me, “George Bush is your President!” said a young Romanian man as he pumped my hand in a congratulatory shake. I wondered why they would care. I certainly didn’t care who was the leader of their country. Why did they seem so invested in the outcome of the elections in mine?
It was my first inkling that what happens in countries that have been free so long the citizens start to take it for granted, matters to people in countries where freedom is still a new taste. I don’t know what you believe or how you vote, but I hope you believe something and vote accordingly. I believe that free is how all people should be. I was taught this all my life, but it didn’t sink in until I visited a beautiful country still scarred by communist wounds, where people were wholly invested in the free elections of a country that was almost bored by liberty. I have never been bored by liberty since.