The Children's Book Quote of the Day

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Is this ad relevant to you? December 10, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kristi @ 11:04 pm
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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.

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Broken July 12, 2012

Filed under: Chapter Books — Kristi @ 9:48 am
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All living things have a heart. And the heart of any living thing can be broken. (from The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo)

Two months ago I had a baby girl and on the same day a friend of mine had a baby boy. June and Ezra–we called them birthday buddies. It was so much fun to compare notes on everything, to be next door hospital room neighbors, to see so many similarities between our sweet babies. On Tuesday afternoon, Ezra passed away suddenly. I can’t really write about it but I can’t really think about anything else. It’s like lightening striking the house next door–so close to home I can feel the heat and the shock  and smell the burning wood. Yesterday I went to see my friend, Ezra’s mommy, and I saw a home full of broken hearts. If you pray, reader, will you pray for them?

 

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.

 

Can’t it just be parenting? June 26, 2012

You have brains in you head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. (from Oh! The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss)


You want to know what I’m sick to death of? Parenting debates. Parenting books. Parenting “styles.” Every day there is some article or picture or facebook status or recommended book about “attachment” or some other form of parenting, some new fad or other. And every time I want to say, “Why does it have to be a style? Can’t it just be called parenting?” Before I get very high on my soap box, I should lay down my credentials: I do not have a PhD in neuroscience, have never  written a parenting book, and am not a certified parent educator, pediatrician, or any other kind of expert. My credentials are that I am a parent, I have two parents and two parents-in-law, am married to a parent, and know a lot of parents. Those are my only credentials.

I am the coordinator of a local MOPS (Mothers Of Preschoolers) group and we have a diverse bunch of mamas in our number. They are all wonderful. I mean, wonderful. There is one young woman, pretty new to our group, who has a lot of questions about attachment parenting, baby-led weaning, introducing solids, elimination communication, etc. She must be reading parenting books and websites all the time. She doesn’t have to do that. She’s already a good mom. She was practically born that way. That’s my problem with all of these parenting trends and styles. You don’t need a method to follow. You are already a good mom. If you fail at one system, if you never pick up a parenting book in life, you will still be fine. Your children will be fine. That’s what I honestly believe.

I breastfed my son until he was sixteen months old. It was important to me to get to breastfeed and I had a good support system with my mom and my husband so I was successful at getting through the hard part and getting into the really enjoyable part of it. My sister breastfed her son for two months. When she went back to work at six weeks, it was incredibly hard for her to keep it up. She had to pump in a bathroom stall at lunch, her one break during the work day. It was gross and it was hard. Her husband was a genuine abuser who dragged her postpartum emotional state through the mud. She lost way too much weight from stress. She loved her little boy like crazy, eventually left the abuser and became an incredible single mama. How high on the priority ladder do you think breastfeeding was? I would put my son next to hers and dare you to tell me which one was breastfed and which one was formula fed. There’s no way you could tell. Which of us is the better mom? If you answer that question at all I’ll slap you.

One time I saw someone with her baby strapped to her in a wrap. I thought, “That looks handy!” So when someone was getting rid of a similar wrap, I took the hand-me-down and have used it happily. It’s wonderfully convenient even though it’s sometimes really hot. I didn’t know when I accepted the wrap that what I was doing was called “baby wearing” and that it is part of a method called “attachment parenting.” I just thought it was handy. I have since seen articles and interviews with followers of this method that praise the virtues of baby wearing and look right down their noses at moms who instead of wearing their babies, put them in what they call “containers.” Since I’ve been accused of being a baby wearer, rightfully so, I should probably now tell you that if my baby falls asleep in the car seat and I have stuff to do, I have no problem carrying her inside the house in it and setting it down in a cool place until she wakes up. Today I wore her in the wrap for the entire time that I ran errands. But this afternoon she slept in the car seat carrier for an hour. Gosh, I hope she doesn’t grow up unable to trust me and feel safe. We also have a swing and a bouncy seat and a stroller. I’ve actually heard people criticize strollers as “containers” to hold a baby when the mom should be holding the baby. Give me and my back a break.

We have a bassinet in our bedroom for the baby and a crib in the kids’ room down the hall. She’s almost eight weeks old so she’s still sleeping in the bassinet at this stage. I’m not ready to tackle the concept of my three-year-old and my infant sleeping in the same room yet. I know there are a whole slew of sleep methods out there–how you schedule your kids’ sleep, recommended bedtimes, where is ideal for kids to sleep, co-sleeping, etc, etc, etc. Here’s what flies in our house. Our son’s bed time is technically 8:00pm. If he’s in bed by 8:10 we call it a win. If he’s asleep by 8:30 we call it a miracle. He’s almost always asleep by 9:00. I know you’re all shocked and horrified. He goes to bed in his toddler bed, with a lamp on, and after we read stories and pray, my husband has to sweep all the monsters out of the room (my son has a great imagination). The baby usually is asleep enough that I put her in the bassinet around 10:00. Last night she would fall asleep and I would put her down and then ten minutes later she would be awake again over and over and over again. So I finally put her down on her tummy (I know, I know! But we have a movement sensor monitor on the bassinet so get over it) at 11:45pm. She slept until 7:00 this morning. I call that a win. I rolled out of my deep sleep around 6:00am and discovered that my son was sleeping between me and my husband. I don’t know when he came to our bed. I didn’t care. I just rolled over and kept sleeping, too tired to carry him back to his own bed. Sometimes when the baby gets up to eat at 5:00am, I nurse her lying next to me in my bed so I don’t have to wake up too much. Then she stays there until after I get up in the morning because I’m too tired to stand up and take her back to the bassinet. So, it’s kind of like what some people call “co-sleeping.” But I wouldn’t say that we intentionally co-sleep. I would just say that we sleep. Any way we can. Which ever way makes everyone sleep the longest time at a stretch is the way I prefer.

I read an article the other day in which a woman said she would consider putting your kids in front of a television to be child abuse. That kind of made me mad because when I worked in a public school I saw kids who had actually been subjected to child abuse. Television is not child abuse. Call it lazy parenting if you want to, but it’s not abuse. My son is watching Kipper The Dog right now because the baby is asleep and I want him to be quiet. It’s literally 109 degrees in my town today so we’re not going outside to play.We’re staying in and watching a show until she wakes up. He also watches gentle cartoons like that pretty much every morning because I am not a morning person. I throw a bunch of grapes or strawberries on a plate with a slice of bread, shake up a sippy cup of chocolate milk, turn on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and go back to bed for another half hour at least. Then, if he’s still watching, I take a shower and am ready to be a pretty good mom. If you call that child abuse, we can’t be friends.

We used disposable diapers on my son until he was potty trained earlier this year. For my daughter, we are using cloth diapers. We really like the cloth diapers and we feel like we’re saving money by using them. But we still use disposables at night. I don’t feel like a better mom for using cloth diapers. I just feel like I’m saving some money. I couldn’t care less what anyone else puts on their babies’ butts. That’s a really crappy debate.

I pray for my kids. Not because someone gave me the book The Power Of A Praying Mom but because sometimes parenting is terrifying. I pray for them because I want so much more for them than I could ever, ever give them. I pray for them because I’m exhausted and scared sometimes and I just want to hand it all over to a higher power.

I read to my kids because I like books and I want them to like them too. I don’t have a set number of words I read to them in a day. I just read to them.

I take my son outside to play but not when it’s 109 degrees outside. When it’s 109 degrees outside we don’t even go out for snow cones because we would melt in the line. I’m a weeny about the hot days.

My three-year-old is a picky eater so I kind of rely on Flintstone vitamins to supplement his nutrients. I know the experts say that if you only offer them what you’re eating, they will eventually eat it. But the experts are dead wrong. He will flat out starve himself. Thankfully, he likes fruit and vegetables but he eats a lot of chicken nuggets for protein. At least, I hope there’s some protein in there. And he won’t drink milk without Nesquick powder in it. When I worked in an elementary school there was this one mom who always made these beautiful bento lunches for her kid. I kind of wanted to be like her but really I just get the food on the plate and try to get him to eat it. No fancy preparations.

If I were ever to write a parenting book (which I never ever would), I would call my style “winging it.” Because that’s what I think most everybody is doing anyway. And most of us are doing fine. I honestly think that if you are not an abuser, you are a good parent and the best parent for your own kids. So just relax. You don’t have to follow a method or a trend. You can do whatever you want, whatever makes things go smoothly in your house. It doesn’t have to be this kind of parenting or that. It can just be parenting. And, at least you’re doing it.

Wingin’ it

 

Mother’s Day Quotes May 11, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kristi @ 11:38 pm
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Here are several quotes for Mother’s Day in one big dose. 🙂

For those of you who need a reminder that, bottle or breast, working or at home, cloth diapering or disposables, scheduling or not, mamas are all the same when you get right down to it: Mothers were the same all through the centuries…a great sisterhood of love and service…the remembered and the unremembered alike. (from Anne of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery)

For those mothers who chose to love children that didn’t come from their own wombs, who do all the things a mommy does by choice and not by obligation: “Oh, dear. If you had a mommy, what would she do?”

“Oh, I’m sure she would hold me,” sobbed Choco.

“Like this?” asked Mrs. Bear. And she held Choco very tight. (from A Mother For Choco by Keiko Kasza)

Because our mamas have stood by us through all kinds of danger with no thought of desertion: “See,” said Hook in answer to Smee’s question, “that is a mother. What a lesson! The nest must have fallen into the water, but would the mother desert her eggs? No.” (from Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie)

 For the mothers of teenagers:
All three of Mrs. Weasley’s sons were taller than she was, but they cowered as her rage broke over them. (from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling)
For those who can’t remember who they were before they were mothers: My mom is da mom. She never had another life, like my dad, who was probably secretly a gung fu action hero spymaster assassin before he was a dad. She was always a mom—she was practically born that way—but that’s okay. She is really super-duper. She is not afraid of heights. She can climb a tree in two seconds flat and tear me—poor thing—from the grasp of the evil tree, just like that. (From Alvin Ho: Allergic To Girls, School, And Other Scary Things by Lenore Look)
 

You do or you don’t April 6, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kristi @ 8:59 am
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“You either get hit by lightning, or you don’t,” whispered Hobson.

“If you can’t start a fire, you could freeze to death,” added Scooter. “If you do start a fire, you could burn to death.”

(from Alvin Ho: Allergic To Camping, Hiking, And Other Natural Disasters by Lenore Look)

I am exactly the kind of person to worry about every possibility. If my husband stays up too late working, I worry that he’ll be an unsafe driver the next morning on the way to work and I’ll be left alone to raise our babies. If he doesn’t stay up late to finish a proposal in time for a deadline, I worry that he’ll somehow lose his job and we’ll end up penniless on welfare. If my left foot swells more than my right, I worry that I could have some sort of life-threatening blood clot in my leg. But if I go to the hospital in the evening to check on this, I worry that I will pay an extreme amount of money just to find out that it’s nothing. I have always been this way. I’ve actually gotten so much better.

But it’s helpful at times to laugh out loud at someone like Alvin Ho, someone like me. Because, really, there isn’t any sense in worrying everything to death. I can’t believe how much research went into our selection of car seat when I was pregnant with Benjamin. It seemed like the world’s most important dilemma–to make sure he had the seat that would keep him safe. But what keeps him safe from a tornado, a fire, a freak fall, an illness? At some point you have to let go. I can’t protect myself, my husband, and my children from every scenario. Why waste the days we have on worry? You either get struck by lightning or you don’t.

 

The next spectacular thing March 8, 2012

Filed under: Chapter Books — Kristi @ 7:30 pm
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“Some family,” I said. “No one’s paying attention to the mother. Who could blame her if she took off? Look at them.”

A minute or so went by, and then Mrs. Windermere said, in a voice as soft as summer blue air, “Skinny Delivery Boy, you have it all wrong. Look how she’s standing close to her little one. She’s looking around to watch for the next spectacular thing that’s going to come into his life.”

And I’m not lying, she was right.


(from Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt)

I’m loving this book from the 2012 Lone Star list so expect several quotes and passages from its pages to appear here in the next few days. It’s all about art’s power to bring light in darkness, empathy and understanding, crossing cultures, looking at people as individuals rather than assuming that their families can define them. Just lovely. It boldly shows the truth that even among teachers there are real bullies and among children there are true heroes. Read it. I know you’ll love it.