The Children's Book Quote of the Day

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A plan for when you’re losing height September 13, 2013

Filed under: Chapter Books,Young Adult — Kristi @ 10:32 pm
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Most of the quotes I chose for this blog are pretty obvious and make sense without needing context to support them. I’m going to veer away from that today a little bit and I’ll need to set up the context for you in case you haven’t read the book. Last night, my husband was listening to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (read by Jim Dale, the audio book is not to be missed) and I walked into the room in time to hear the quote I am using today:

There was a deafening bang and the sidecar broke away from the bike completely: Harry sped forward, propelled by the impetus of the bike’s flight, then the sidecar began to lose height–

In desperation Harry pointed his wand at the sidecar and shouted,Wingardium Leviosa!”

(from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling)

What struck me when I heard this small portion of the final Harry Potter book, is that in a moment of desperation, when losing height and on the brink of death, Harry doesn’t use one of the more sophisticated or advanced things he learned in six years of wizarding education. Instead, he uses one of the very first (maybe the first?) charm he was ever taught.

I think this is why the early lessons we teach our children are important. This is what sinks in. If they learn this now, it could be the thing that makes them soar when they would otherwise fall to the unforgiving ground. What are the first lessons we learn? Treat other people the way you want to be treated. Listen before you talk. If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. Tell the truth. Be brave. Be kind. Forgive. Love one another. When we start to lose altitude, these are the lessons that can bring us back up. These first lessons are the ones we know so deep that we can call them forth in a moment of desperation without thinking. They can become like instinct, that thing that stops you from saying the horrible thing on the tip of your tongue that can never be taken back. These are the lessons that can save your marriage,  your job, your friendships, your life.

What you learn as a young child you will use until the very end of your story. I hope I can teach these lessons very well.


Just have some pudding September 12, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kristi @ 9:19 pm
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No, I think I’ll just go down and have some pudding and wait for it all to turn up…It always does in the end.”  (from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling)

I’ve been trying the Luna Lovegood approach to life over the harried, frenzied approach lately and it seems to be working out well. Luna’s attitude assumes that peacefully and happily waiting for things to work out, enjoying and relying on friendships, and calmly doing what needs to be done without overly stressing, is preferable to the worried and frantic doing or searching or trying that seems to sap the rest of us of our joy.

Things usually turn out all right. If they don’t, worrying over them wouldn’t have made a difference in the outcome. I love in the most recent film adaptation of Charlotte’s Web when Wilbur says, “Should I be worried?” Charlotte answers, “Of course not. What good would that do?”

Recently a friend and I had plans during lunch. She was supposed to bring some brisket but left it behind in her attempt to remember all of the things and all of the children that women in our stage of life must juggle and shove into the all the right places of our cars every time we go anywhere. We unloaded all of the things and all of the children at my house and then we realized the brisket was not in the car. There was a moment of sagging shoulders and sighing between us. Then we just laughed and I said, “Let’s just see what we have in the fridge!” In a calm 35 minutes we had baked chicken breasts, rice, and broccoli on the table. We slowed down enough to allow our better thoughts to work through the situation and come up with a solution. Another day with the same friend, I was in charge of picking up lunch at a local restaurant but I was having a rough day. I was hot and tired and had too many things on my mind. I received three different phone calls on the way to the restaurant. I turned the wrong way leaving and took several blocks to realize it. I missed my exit going back to my friend’s house. I felt bad for making my friends wait for lunch while I drove all over tarnation, for leaving them with my kids who were probably getting cranky from waiting for lunch and I couldn’t believe how much gas I was wasting. In my sweaty, messy, frantic state of mind I started driving too fast. I got pulled over by a very kind police officer. He reminded me of the speed limit and checked my license before letting me go with a warning. I took a deep breath. I reminded myself that if I could just calm down for a second, I would end up at my friend’s house with the fajitas still plenty  hot and the guacamole still plenty cool and I would be much more pleasant with a smile on my face.

As I reflect on those two lunches, I am resolved to take the calm approach on purpose. It was just so much more pleasant. And, like Luna, I can trust my friends with my weird and wandering mind. They may think I’m loony, but I know they will still love me.


Finally feel it August 13, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kristi @ 10:20 pm
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Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it.  (from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling)

I wanted to apologize for not writing regularly. For writing hardly at all lately. It has been a hard summer and I’ve been dealing with some degree of depression and anxiety which is a fairly new thing for me. I realize, however, that reading children’s literature and writing about it here, actually gives me a creative outlet to feel what I need to feel and process it in a healthy and healing way. So, expect to see more posts.


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.


Unable to squash the magic September 20, 2011

Filed under: Chapter Books — Kristi @ 8:58 pm

For years, Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon had hoped that if they kept Harry as downtrodden as possible, they would be able to squash the magic out of him. To their fury, they had been unsuccessful. (from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling)


A remarkable resemblance August 30, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kristi @ 9:59 pm
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Mrs. Weasley was marching across the yard, scattering chickens, and for a short, plump, kind-faced woman, it was remarkable how much she looked like a saber-toothed tiger. (from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling)

 There must be some recessive gene that is somehow triggered by the behavior of your children that makes you uncannily like your parents. Because today, and I don’t know how it happened, I counted to three to make my child obey. I doubt this counting tactic needs explaining–I think we all remember our parents employing the method. But I thought they had something in mind, some consequence if you got to three. When I did it, I had nothing in mind. It just flew out of my mouth in the same tone and with the same seriousness behind the eyes in which both of my parents were experts. I said, “One….” and thought, Oh my gosh, he has no idea that something is supposed to happen when I get to three! What do I do?”

Then, for some unknown reason, I said, “Two….”

And. It. Worked.

No one could be more astonished than I was when he hastily obeyed. I still don’t really know what I would have done after “three,” other than physically remove him from under the computer. (That was the problem, by the way. He was trying to play with the power strip under the computer desk.) But I’m not totally convinced it was the counting that did it. I think it was the look.

Like a saber-toothed tiger.


Do I look stupid?

Filed under: Chapter Books — Kristi @ 1:40 pm
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“Do I look stupid?” snarled Uncle Vernon, a bit of fried egg dangling from his bushy mustache. (from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling)

“Mommy, I want some milk.”

“Okay, just a minute.”

No, Mommy, I want some miiiilk!”

“I’ll get it for you in just a minute.”

“Mommy, Pweeease! I want MIIIIILK.”

“Benjamin, I said just. a. minute.”


BE PATIENT!!!!!! I’m getting it!”

Hmmmm. Did I just yell, “Be patient!” at my two-year-old? Sometimes it’s the things you see plain as day in someone else that are huge hidden problems for yourself. Or, as my dad used to say, “The smeller’s the feller.” Uncle Vernon is, of course, stupid. But he doesn’t ever see the egg on his own face. I am impatient. But here I’m trying to pound the virtue into my son by yelling? Oh, my. How can I teach him patience when I am so impatient?

Ah, I must learn it myself.

It is a great gift of motherhood that it gives you a reason to finally fix your faults before you pass them on. I have never been more motivated to improve myself, to be worth imitating, to teach well. I want my son to grow in strength of compassion, empathy for others, kindness, forgiveness, resilience, and patience. So I have to stop being judgmental, start putting myself in others’ shoes, showing uncommon kindness. I have to be so quick to forgive and so slow to anger. I have to try again when I fail and do it with a smile. I have to slow down and have patience.


Superlatives August 3, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kristi @ 10:12 pm

Piers, Dennis, Malcom, and Gordon were all big and stupid, but as Dudley was the biggest and stupidest of the lot, he was the leader. (from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling)


Remember that November 16, 2010

Filed under: Chapter Books — Kristi @ 10:25 pm

It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that. (from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling)

 I am happy to report that the critique of our children’s books went very well yesterday. Most of the comments we received were constructive and encouraging and it actually spurred me on to write more. I feel one huge step closer to my dream. But I post today’s quote as a reminder to myself, to really live everyday in the day that I’m in. Sometimes I feel frustrated by the limited time I have to devote to writing while raising my toddler. But I would rather write very little now and spend all of this wonderful time with Benjamin while I can than to be consumed with my goal and miss out on all the sweet, hilarious, cute, messy, cuddly things he does and says. I want Benjamin to be proud of me for working hard to achieve my dreams, sure. But I want him to remember me spending time with him, looking him in the eye, interpreting his toddler-speak, applauding his small and large achievements, singing his favorite songs, playing with his hair, rocking him when he’s tired.

I began reading A River Runs Through It and Other Stories by Norman Maclean the other night because I needed something to read before I go back to library to restock and it was the only thing I could find on the shelf that appealed to me at the moment. I was touched by something in the author’s acknowledgments that really spoke to me this week in particular. I hope you don’t mind if I share it here. It is not exactly a children’s book, although Maclean wrote it because his children wanted him to write down the stories he told them when they were young. He says the following:

“For one thing, writing makes everything bigger and longer; all these stories are much longer than is needed to achieve one of the primary ends of telling children stories–namely, that of putting children to sleep. However, the stories do give evidence of retaining another of those purposes–that of letting children know what kind of people their parents are or think they are or hope they are.”


I’ll have mine whole, thanks. August 6, 2010

Filed under: Chapter Books,Young Adult — Kristi @ 9:01 pm

I do not think he understands why, Harry, but then, he was in such a hurry to mutilate his own soul, he never paused to understand the incomparable power of a soul that is untarnished and whole.  (from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling)

I’m not going to comment on this quote because I don’t want my true nerd to show. But I do love this quote. And this book. That’s all I’ll say.