The Children's Book Quote of the Day

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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)

 

 

 

Out of a book June 28, 2012

This was something you couldn’t learn by heart out of a book–not that she hadn’t tried. (from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling)

First of all, my goodness, thank you so much for such a wonderful response to Tuesday’s post. I don’t think this blog has ever enjoyed so many facebook shares or so many views in a two-day period. Thank you. I so desperately want moms to know that they are doing motherhood right just by doing it at all, by following their instincts and loving their own children. It can flat out break your heart for the world to first tell you that motherhood is the most important job in the world, then suggest that you are doing it wrong. Most likely, you’re not doing it wrong.

You know, I remember the first time I ever dealt with mother-guilt. I was pregnant with my son and I was criticized for drinking a Dr. Pepper. (For those of you who don’t know, when you are suffering from pregnancy fatigue and your job is to listen to first-graders sound out words and it’s late afternoon, Dr. Pepper is like the nectar of the gods and the only thing that could remotely keep a woman awake.) An older woman scolded me for feeding my unborn baby caffeine and successfully made me feel awful. Even though my doctor had said it was okay to have caffeine in reasonable amounts. I have dealt with the guilt that is just constantly heaped on mothers many times since, but that was the first.

Anyway, I did not anticipate so much response to Tuesday’s post, but since it’s there I feel I should explain just a little bit more and maybe temper it a bit. First off, I am not criticizing any parenting methods. I think you should do whatever works for your own family whether it comes from a book, a friend, or your own intuition. But I have a huge problem with the labeling that goes on. I heard a friend say once, “I could never Ferberize my babies!” What she meant is that she wouldn’t use “the Ferber method” of letting her babies “cry it out” to train them to fall asleep on their own. A commenter here mentioned Dr. Sears and that his book made her realize it was okay to nurse her baby to sleep. Okay, so we have two very different methods out there. Which one is right? The answer is that neither one is universally right! One of them or a combination of both of them or neither of them may be what’s right for your own family. I rock my babies to sleep and nurse them to sleep. I did it with Benjamin and I do it with June Elizabeth. I love rocking and nursing them to sleep. But when Benjamin was between seven and eight months old he started waking up in the night and I would have to nurse him back to sleep. As time went on, he woke more and more frequently every night to the point that at twelve months he was waking about every two to three hours! So, just after his first birthday, we let him cry it out one night. Every twenty minutes I would go in and comfort him, then leave again. It took two and a half hours! It was awful. But it worked. The next night it only took 30 minutes. The following night, only 7. So, yeah, we used both methods. Maybe BabyWise works for your family from the getgo or maybe, like me, you want to rock your babies to sleep and nurse on demand.  It’s your baby. It’s your choice. You are a good mom. You are not a “Babywise” mom or a “Ferber mom” or an “Attachment mom.” You are just a good mom. That’s my point.

The other thing I want to say is that, while books are great, parenting isn’t something you can learn by heart out of a book. Every family is different. Every child in a family is different. No one book could possibly address every nuance of raising every child. You can read a post I wrote about my experience with that here. You can get a lot of good tips, but eventually your own intuition and experiences will define your parenting. And what I want you to know, what I need to know, is that that’s not only okay, it’s exactly right. You are doing it right.

 

Cut our coat October 24, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kristi @ 8:00 pm
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“Don’t worry about it, girls,” said Ma. “We must cut our coat to fit the cloth.” (from Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder)

It seems strange to me that we have so much more now than we’ve ever had before and things come so much easier because of the affordable technology available, yet we are more worried than ever. Everywhere I turn I hear complaints about the economy, the struggle to make ends meet. But if you get down to brass tacks, the people making these complaints are not really starving. We are unbelievably spoiled by our plenty and unaccountably worried about our small degrees of lack.

In this scene from Little Town on the Prairie, the Ingalls family is upset by the sudden demise of their entire corn crop when thousands of black birds swoop in to eat it where it grows. For years they have worked extra hard (as if the hard work of beginning a homestead and farm in a new place weren’t enough), taking on extra jobs to save up for Mary Ingalls to attend a college for the blind. Just when they feel they have enough to send her to college, the cash crop is destroyed completely. Pa shoots as many of the offending birds as possible and Ma industriously bakes them into a pie to make the best of the situation. They salvage what corn they can to dry for the family to eat later in the winter. But their cash crop, the income source with which they planned to buy necessities such as coal, is gone. Laura immediately assumes that this will keep her sister from realizing her dream of an education. She does not realize yet that her parents will sell a cow to buy the coal and meat for the winter, and send Mary to college as promised.

The coal is an absolute necessity. Supplies for the winter are a must. The cow provides cream and butter–luxuries that they have looked forward to, but not something they need to survive. College for Mary is also a luxury, and between the two, they decide to give her the gift of education and wait a year for their cream.

This is where I think we have strayed in our modern sensibilities: we no longer understand the difference between luxuries and necessities. If my husband and I have two cars and one breaks down, do we have to panic and pay to have it fixed or could we share the one working car until we can comfortably pay for repairs? How often have we said there is nothing to eat in the house, meaning really that there is nothing we currently crave to eat in the house? And should I stare despairingly at the electric bill after an insanely hot Texas summer even while I continue to pay for little luxuries like paper towels, fountain drinks, and movie rentals?

No, there is no real need to worry for most of us. We just need to learn to cut our coat to fit the cloth. Simplify. Check out the Laura Ingalls Wilder collection at your public library and be inspired by a harsher time but a simpler (and seemingly happier) way.

 

A habit October 19, 2011

Filed under: Chapter Books,Classics — Kristi @ 9:08 pm
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“You’ve tackled every job that ever came your way,” Pa said. “You never shirked, and you always stuck to it till you did what you set out to do. Success gets to be a habit, like anything else a fellow keeps on doing.” (from These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder)

 

Might as well deal September 22, 2011

Filed under: Chapter Books,Classics — Kristi @ 10:37 pm
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Well, it would do me no good to run away. There were other bears in the woods. I might meet one any time. I mights well deal with this one as with another. (from Little House In The Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder)

*****Perhaps I should rename this blog to The Children’s Book Quote of Some Days or of The Days I am Not Sick and Exhausted from Pregnancy. I truly thank you for not giving up. Please keep reading and I will really try to post more regularly. For tonight, this is all I’ve got. ***** –Kristi

 

By any rule August 22, 2011

Anybody knew that no two men were alike. You could measure cloth with a yardstick, or distance by miles, but you could not lump men together and measure them by any rule. Brains and character did not depend on anything but the man himself. (from The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder)

 

A little girl August 2, 2011

Laura knew then that she was not a little girl any more. Now she was alone; she must take care of herself. When you must do that, then you do it and you are grown up. (from By The Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder)

I just had one of those pretty humbling moments where I am forced to question my own grown-up status. Both my two-year-old son and my one-year-old nephew are snoozing gently when the smoke detector in the hall directly between their rooms starts angrily beeping every ten minutes to warn me that the batteries are dying. That’s when I realize I have never, in seven years that I’ve lived here, touched that smoke detector. I realize I have no idea how the thing works or how to shut it off if it really gets going. The beeping speeds to every five minutes, then even less frequently than that. I am terrified this will wake the children on a day when I desperately need them to finish their naps. The door to my room, where my nephew sleeps, is wide open and feet from the offending contraption (the air conditioner does not work in that room and it is roughly 105 degrees today in West Texas–the door must stay open!). As I look at this device from the kitchen chair I am standing on, I can hardly believe I am 28 years old, married, with a toddler, the coordinator of a Mothers of Preschoolers group and I have never touched a smoke detector in life. My parents changed it at their house. Then I got married and my husband tests and changes it. I figured out how to remove the battery because, after all, it isn’t complicated and I’m a reasonably intelligent woman. But I am afraid to put the new battery in because I don’t know if there is some sort of resetting I’m supposed to do and if it might result in more beeping. Truly the beeping is very loud. So if the hallway spontaneously combusts into flames, I’ll just have to rely on my own nose to detect the danger until the children wake up and have their diapers changed and their snacks.

This reminds me, painfully, of the time in high school when I told my dad my car was out of gas and he simply handed me a twenty. “Um, dad, I don’t even know how to pump gas,” I said. I was secretly hoping he would continue to do this for me until I got married and then I would have a husband to do it, the way my grandmother lived her entire life without every pumping a tank of gas. She had a master’s degree and worked as a school principal, but never once pumped a tank of gas. Incredible. Enviable. But even she changed out the batteries of her smoke detectors regularly! My dad did, by the way, take me to the gas station that day and force me to fill my own tank. Then he showed me how to check the oil in my car and informed me that I was to do this at least once a month. How did such an obviously conscientious father fail to make me take care of the hallway smoke detector?

Oh, well. I guess I’ll confess this remaining vestige of helpless child mentality to my husband tonight (you know, after I speak to a group of peers on the subject of couponing and budgeting as if I am a competent and reliable source) and ask him to show me exactly how the device works and how to reset it. Like a grown-up.

 

Getting published is like chasing goats… November 9, 2010

Filed under: Chapter Books,Classics — Kristi @ 11:11 pm
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She would not even face the thought that presently she would have to go out in front of everybody and dance; even thinking of it made her inside feel as though she had swallowed an ice too quickly. (from Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield)

I have avoided “going out in front of everybody and dancing” pretty much all my life. And I don’t just mean actual dancing, although I have been known to excuse myself from that plenty of times as well. I mean just performing in general, putting myself out there for any and all to see, drawing attention to myself in any way. The feeling of swallowing ice too quickly captures the cold fear in a way that makes me feel it just to read it. What a great phrase!

I am learning, through writers’ conferences, books, blogs, etc. that becoming a published author requires a good deal of putting oneself out there. Oh, my. A few years ago, an elementary school I worked for put on a stunt to encourage reading among the children. The children read books and then take short tests over the content (to prove they’ve read them) and get points awarded per book read. At the end of the school year there is some type of award for the child with the most points, the top reader. This particular year, the faculty calculated the points and narrowed the results down to the top ten readers in the school. The top ten were then brought out in front of the whole school and released into a pen full of baby goats. The children chased down the goats as the crowd cheered and when they caught one, took a ribbon off of its neck with an envelope revealing their prize amount. I have never been more baffled.

I just kept thinking, as a person who surely would have been in the top ten readers of my own elementary school as a child, I would have rather died than chase down a goat in front of the whole school! But it seems that getting published is a lot like that: an introverted reader type is required to chase down a goat and wrestle a ribbon off of its neck. The envelope she wrestles off the goat may contain a rejection letter. Then she must chase down the next goat in the pen and so on until finally her hard work is rewarded. There is a certain degree of self-promotion involved in the process that is extremely unsettling to me.

All of this to say, next Monday I will put myself out there in a big way by inviting about fifty teachers to read three of my picture book manuscripts and critique them. Even thinking of it makes my inside feel as though I have swallowed ice too quickly. It is almost as horrifying as dancing in public, or chasing a goat in front of five hundred peers. Almost. Think of me, and maybe offer me a hot chocolate if you see me that day.

 

Yellow-bellied sapsucker October 27, 2010

Filed under: Chapter Books — Kristi @ 10:14 pm
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What was he scared of anyhow?…Sometimes he acted like the original yellow-bellied sapsucker. (from Bridge To Terabithia by Katherine Paterson)

I have a dream. It is to write children’s books. I have prepared a couple of manuscripts for picture books and I think they’re good. I have not gotten up the gumption to submit them to any publishers yet. I just feel like I need more feedback, more assurance, more confidence before I take that leap. Next Tuesday I am inviting a whole faculty of elementary school teachers to review a couple of my manuscripts. Aunt Connie is doing this with me, bringing a couple of her children’s book manuscripts. Connie is confident. I am a nervous wreck. I have not even looked at these manuscripts in about two months. I printed them out a couple of days ago, but have yet to work up the courage to do a final edit before I make copies for the critique.

Why am I so worked up over this? They are doing me a huge favor. I want good feedback, feedback I can use. Even if it’s negative. I need this feedback. The responses will be anonymous, so if someone says something really negative, I can’t possibly take it personally. Why am I so worried? What if they hate the stories? What if they give me pitiful looks and shake their heads and say, “Bless her heart?” What if they don’t get my sense of humor? What if the stories don’t work without illustrations? Seriously, why do I do this? Why can’t I be the person who says–What if they love the stories? What if they can’t get enough? What if they demand another story about that character? What if they not only “get” my sense of humor, but laugh out loud?

Sometimes I act like the original yellow-bellied sapsucker. What am I scared of anyhow? Even if they hate them, it will be a chance for growth and improvement.

 

If I ran July 8, 2010

Filed under: Chapter Books,Classics — Kristi @ 12:17 pm
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I would never get here, if I ran away from everything in the woods that scared me. (from Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder)

Oops. I am posting out of order. This is the quote that was meant to be posted for yesterday. I forgot to click “publish.”