The Children's Book Quote of the Day

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That dress February 28, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kristi @ 4:16 pm

Some losses leave great big holes, Ruby. It’s hard to lose someone you love so deeply, especially when you’ve known them as long as Miss Eula knew your grandpa. (from Love, Ruby Lavender by Deborah Wiles)

Yesterday I flipped through a small stack of black and white pictures, poorly copied, of my grandparents and some of their friends in 1953. The print quality was terrible–simply photocopied on regular printer paper, full of shadow and lacking sharpness. The power of the photos to evoke emotion was undiminished. There was one…

The caption simply said 1953. They would have been married about a year, maybe a little more. My grandmother, young and stunningly beautiful stood clasped to my grandfather’s side gazing up with cheerful adoration into his face. He wore a military uniform, a proud and content smile, and an obvious strength. She wore a polka dotted dress.

“I love this dress!” I said. “I love this picture.” And then my aunt told me what my grandfather said when he showed her the pictures.

He said, “Have you ever had something where you saw a picture and you could immediately remember what it felt like, what it sounded like and smelled like and felt like to be there?”

She said, “Yes, daddy. I know exactly what you mean.”

“That’s how it was for me when I saw that dress,” he said. “It took my breath away.”

My aunt told us that story and we all cried quietly for a minute. My grandmother has been gone for eleven years. Some losses leave great big holes.

But after a minute, we all started smiling. “I wonder,” said Aunt Connie, “if I’ve ever worn anything that would make Tom think that?”

“I was just thinking the same thing!” Mom and I exclaimed almost simultaneously. Would there ever be a picture, a dress, that would take my husband’s breath away even sixty years later? I don’t know. I hope so.


An ordinary person January 31, 2012

Filed under: Chapter Books — Kristi @ 12:40 am
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Annemarie admitted to herself, snuggling there in the dark, that she was glad to be an ordinary person who would never be called upon for courage. (from Number The Stars by Lois Lowry)

 I want to say something about this quote but the words won’t come. I want to say something about how it came to mind when I watched a mama walk into her son’s memorial service, how all I could think was, “How can they bear it?” Sometimes I think about how people look in their wedding pictures–so happy and hopeful and full of love–and how when they promise their lives for better or worse, they do it at a time when they can’t even conceive of the worst. No one thinks on that day that someday they might be the ones who have to face cancer or betrayal or loss. Or death. But I also think that on that blissful day, it’s impossible to predict the best of the times you will have. How can you know beforehand the joy beyond words of a child that is part of yourself? How can you understand that your love for each other can grow and grow as you earn the type of love together that you never dreamed existed? You can’t know ahead of time what joy and love the picture slide-show of your life will show. And you can’t know ahead of time if that slide-show of the best of times will play to give you comfort at the epoch of your worst of times. I know this is a babbling post. I hope you will forgive me. It is even more jumbled in my mind. The truth is we are all ordinary people. And the truth is we will all be called upon for courage. It is when someone answers the call for courage that she becomes remarkable. It takes courage just to live and to love and to risk loss. In Each Little Bird That Sings, we are told that “It takes courage to look life in the eye and say yes to the messy glory.”


The Most Beautiful Place December 15, 2011

Filed under: Chapter Books — Kristi @ 10:31 am
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Where you love somebody a whole lot, and you know that person loves you, that’s the most beautiful place in the world. (from The Most Beautiful Place in the World by Ann Cameron)

 My husband went out of town for three days, which nearly did me in (I really don’t know how military spouses handle the separation). He returned yesterday afternoon to a messy house but a happy family. I wish I could have had the house clean and glowing and smelling of freshly baked cookies when he walked in. I wish I had been dressed up and with nothing more on my schedule for the day. But we were in survival mode, so his homecoming just was what it was. Our house in its normal state of disarray and love.

This morning, our son woke up at five o’clock and wanted to come to our bed. And as I lay there, listening to both my husband and my son breathing deeply in their sleep and feeling the baby kick and roll, I couldn’t help but think this is the most beautiful place in the world.


One little seam after another November 30, 2011

Filed under: Chapter Books,Classics — Kristi @ 11:26 am
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It’s just one little seam after another and you never seem to be getting anywhere. But of course I’d rather be Anne of Green Gables sewing patchwork than Anne of any other place with nothing to do but play. (from Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery)

I am, once again, infected by dangerously high piles of laundry. It’s gotten so bad that I can no longer ignore it. We went camping a week and a half ago and I just put the laundry from that trip in the washing machine. That’s how behind I am. We went to Ft. Worth for a wedding three weeks ago and the dresses I took and didn’t wear are still hanging in the garment bag I packed them in. I really don’t know how I let it get this bad except that I honestly never knew a person could feel this tired. The next person who asks me to do anything, be they child or adult, can expect to see some tears. I am completely overwhelmed. And while I am working my way through the laundry piles, I can hear the children making toy piles elsewhere in the house. So piles are everywhere and it seems I never get anywhere.

But, Anne of Green Gables is a good reminder for me today. I would still rather be Kristi of this home and this family with piles of work and a baby in my womb sapping my energy than Kristi of any other place with nothing to do and no one to need me.

Plus my husband just brought me a Dr. Pepper (God bless that man) and I just successfully bribed my two-year-old with a caramel apple sucker so he is picking up the toy pile.


In listening October 14, 2011

Filed under: Chapter Books,Picture Books — Kristi @ 11:15 am
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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)


A real heart October 8, 2011

Filed under: Chapter Books — Kristi @ 6:15 pm
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the sound of a real heart

 a baby heart

beating beating beating

…and I feel as if

this is my team

my mother and father and me

and the baby


(from Heartbeat by Sharon Creech)

Four years ago, on October 7, I sat in my doctor’s office with eyes puffy from a tearful night, listening to him explain with great compassion the procedure I was about to have to remove from my body the baby who had already passed away in the womb. It was devastating in every way. A few minutes later, we drove across the street to the hospital and I was put under general anesthesia. When I woke up the baby was gone. It was a heartwrenching time.

Yesterday, on October 7, I laid back in my doctor’s office while he joyfully pointed out the waving hands, individual fingers, and kicking feet of our new little baby! Then we heard the whoosh-a-whoosh-a-whoose of a real little heartbeat. The best sound in the whole world. It was amazing. The baby is the size of a peanut shell, but we could see individual fingers (although they were waving around too fast to be counted!) waving and reaching and grasping. Our doctor told us that the baby now has all of its toes as well, but we couldn’t really see those.

When I first called for an appointment and the receptionist scheduled me for October 7th, I considered asking for a different date. It has been a hard day for me for the past couple of years. But I swallowed my fears and accepted the appointment and I’m so glad I did. Now we will forever have something to celebrate on October 7th–our little one’s “heartbeat day.” On Benjamin’s heartbeat day, July 7th, we always make heart-shaped pancakes for breakfast and heart-shaped pizza for dinner. We will do the same kind of thing for this little sweetling.


A real heart July 7, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kristi @ 11:26 am
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 the sound of a real heart

 a baby heart

 beating beating beating

…and I feel as if

this is my team

 my mother and father and me

and the baby


(from Heartbeat by Sharon Creech)

Three years ago today I heard my son’s heartbeat for the first time. He was just a blurry little bean on the ultrasound screen but that little heart was beating so fast and strong. It was amazing.

We celebrate it every year, his heartbeat day. This morning we had heart shaped pancakes and for lunch we will enjoy a heart shaped pizza. I want him to know how much we loved him, how much we wanted him from the very start. He doesn’t understand it this year. He just thinks it’s fun to eat food in the shape of a heart! But someday, I want him to understand how amazing life is, how miraculous it is that a person who is only two centimeters long and shaped like a bean could have an actual beating heart. That this walking, talking, singing, dancing, drumming, running, eating blue-eyed boy grew from that tiny beginning.

The greatest gift pregnancy gave me was, of course, my son. The second greatest gift of pregnancy was the sense of wonder. I want to pass that on to my son, for him to understand how amazing life is. That’s another reason we will continue to celebrate his Heartbeat Day every year. Saint Augustine said, “Men go abroad to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars; and they pass by themselves without wondering.”

Do not pass by yourself today without stopping to wonder at the life you have. The dexterity of your fingers, the delicacy and strength of your eyelids, the crinkling of your eyes when you smile, the senses of smell and sight and touch. The beating of your heart.


A sign November 24, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kristi @ 2:57 pm
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“What I know is that it’s an act of courage to stay with someone who needs you. It’s a sign of character.” His voice cracks as he says, “A hero can be afraid, but a hero never runs away.” (from Countdown by Deborah Wiles)

I so want to instill this in my son, this heroic character, this courage to go the distance. In Countdown, the protagonist is faced with a situation in which a friend she used to love but has lately been treating her with contempt needs her. Should she stay or run from a friend who has been downright mean? I want Benjamin to be the kind of person who stays, even if it’s uncomfortable, and works things out with character and courage. Jon and I will try to teach this at home. He’ll probably learn it on the playground. He’ll use it in family life, friendship, and definitely in marriage.

You know, one of the things I look for in a good children’s book is a child working things out for himself with little or no adult intervention. I think it empowers children when they read these characters–they don’t need an adult to fix things for them. They know what they know and they have their own characters–big character in a little person sometimes–and they can do it by themselves. I kind of cringe when I hear a lot of tattling to adults when children are playing together. I kind of want to be the parent that stands back and says, “Hey, you work it out amongst yourselves.” I definitely cringe when I hear an adult woman who has nothing kind or respectful to say about her own husband. You know the type–it’s like she’s always tattling on her spouse. My guess is, this is the woman who never learned to work things out on the playground or in the school cafeteria when she was eleven. She probably tattled a lot and changed friends like she changed shoes.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and I’m thinking right now that I’m thankful for my husband’s parents and siblings. They let him learn how to work things out. (When you have five kids you just have to let them work things out for themselves.) Sometimes I’m so rude to Jon I can’t even believe myself. Sometimes I’m so whiney and clingy I think I’d want to drop me off on the side of the highway if I were him. But he stays with me and we fight it out if we have to. And it’s a sign of character, an act of courage.


A Patient, Waiting Love June 27, 2010

Filed under: Chapter Books,Young Adult — Shanna @ 7:01 pm
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The song of the wind softened, gentled.  Behind the violence of the birthing of the galaxies and stars and planets came a quiet and tender melody, a gentle love song.  All the raging of creation, the continuing hydrogen explosions one the countless suns, the heaving of planetary bodies, was enfolded in a patient, waiting love. (from Many Waters by Madeleine L’Engle)