Posts Tagged With: children’s books

pinball machine thoughts

I’ve been sick since we got home from NYC. Is it allergies? Is it a virus? I don’t know, but there is enough mucus for several people sloshing around in my head.
The coughing is even worse. Because after two babies my pelvic floor isn’t what it used to be and I’ve had more “accidents” in the last two weeks than when I was a toddler.
TMI?
My apologies.
I’m just keeping it real here in my nest.

I still haven’t gone through the photos I took in New York. I mean I moved them from the camera to the computer, but there they sit. No edits. Nothing in my ‘to be printed’ folder. I’m either really taking my time or I’m just not up to it. Either way, I’m about to have loads of time on my hands. Only eight more days of school (including this day).

We did have a lovely time. We walked everywhere! All the way down to the Brooklyn Bridge, half-way across, and back.
We ate delicious food. Drank good wine and spirits. People watched in Washington Square Park. And even got shouted at by a creepy homeless guy.

Vintage shops were a disappointment.
But the bookshops were not!
At Strand (18 miles of books, don’tcha know) I found some very cool used books, a brand new one I’m pretty excited about, and bought my very first Moleskine notebook à la Dash and Lily. Only mine is navy instead of red.
At Books of Wonder I drooled over the books in the rare collection. (22K for a first ed. of Where the Wild Things Are signed by Maurice Sendak with a Wild Thing doodle.)
I spent a goodly bit of time choosing a couple books I couldn’t leave without. If I still had a preschool classroom I would have bought more. There were (are) so many books to use as the jumping off point for lesson plans!

I’ve been thinking a great deal about the Thing 2 situation. We still haven’t spoken, though we have exchanged texts. I’m not sure how I can help her in her journey. I’m not sure it’s my place to help her at this point. I do know that “getting yourself together” shouldn’t be a reason not to be together.
I wonder if children have any idea how hurtful the things they do really are. I believe they know instinctively that nothing will make a mother stop loving her child…but I wonder if they understand that one can only bend so long before there is irreparable damage. I wonder this because I don’t know the answers. I wonder this because I know I hurt my mother in my growing up.
It’s hard for an adult child to believe her mom is still protective of her “baby”. That makes sense to me. Only, Thing 1 and I have come to a new place in our relationship. One of mutual love and respect as adults, with a bit of “I need my Mommy” and “I want to protect my baby” sprinkled on top.
A mother’s love has many forms. Looks many ways. Is unpredictable yet constant. That will never change. But it doesn’t mean a child’s words and actions aren’t hurtful. I think even adult children don’t understand that their parents are just human and get their feelings hurt. That realization didn’t really resonate in me until I became a mother.
I don’t know. I love that little girl (yeah, she’s my “little girl” even though she’s about to celebrate her twentieth birthday) but I feel like this must be one of those times of ebb in the great ebb and flow of our love in this life. I hope the tide changes. It hurts more than I ever expected it would.

In the category of ‘getting yourself together’ I’m working on that too. Starting back to school after a three month term break.

Nah, it’s cool. Two more terms and I can wash my hands of this foolishness. Not that a degree is foolish…just I’m so over it. It’s taken much longer than I’d expected and I don’t want to be in this degree program anymore. Only it’s too late to switch to anything else without more courses…
I feel a bit like Marlon Brando in Guys and Dolls. “Stick with me baby I’m the fellow you came in with.” Only it’s not luck…it’s a degree plan.
Whatever. At this point it’s fulfilling a commitment to myself and a means to an end to move into a M.Ed or MSW program.

It seems my thoughts are bouncing around in my head like a pinball today.
You know what? That’s OK.
Let ’em bang around bouncing off each other for a little while.
It might be a great way to start the summer.

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mail from Marie

Sometimes very simple things feel the most exciting!


I received this from children’s book author and illustrator, Marie Letourneau. She wrote and illustrated one of my favorite books.

In March, her new book was released.

I’ve placed my precious bookplates firmly in my books.
and

Thanks, Marie, for your kindness!
I will cherish these precious little gifts always.
I will forever love children’s books.
I will forever be excited at the seemingly small things.

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thanks, Roald Dahl

matilda

Like Matilda, I am not alone. For I have books-a-plenty.
Thanks, Roald Dahl for this hopeful and comforting message.

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for that is the only place to truly live

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I long to remember how live fully in both fantasy and reality. To know my imagination is free to create absolutely anything. To know that I’m as grounded as humanly possible.
You need both roots and wings. I know that’s rather a mixed metaphor, but I honestly believe it’s the truth. If I am safely rooted in reality, I have the ability to spread my wings and soar into fantasy.
I can remain grounded in the real world at the same moment I am King of all the Wild Things.

Most grown ups do forget the delicate balance. Most grown ups don’t believe in fairies. Most grown ups are far too busy to play. Most grown ups don’t embrace the child within.
I am not that kind of grown up. I will never lose my sense of whimsy. I will always remember how to play. I will always always believe in fairies. I’m a grown up and oftentimes I want to actually be a fairy.

Peter Pan told Wendy, “You know that place between sleep and awake, that place where you still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you. That’s where I’ll be waiting.”
The place between sleep and awake is where grown ups can remember how to live fully in both fantasy and reality. The trick is being able to do it when you’re awake.
Peter Pan also said, “The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.” So many grown ups doubt they can fly. I believe I can fly because I work every single day to remember how to move freely between the fantasy and reality. For that is the only place to truly live.

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feather your nest

You know when an idea takes hold of you and you can’t see anything else? I’m experiencing that right now.
My sister in law suggested I somehow parlay my mad organizational skills into a business. She called it “feather your nest” as a play on The Robynbird’s Nest.
She suggested that I provide organizational services for people’s closets, pantries, etc., as well as packing for trips.
I should have taken photos of my bag packed coming home from Charleston as an example…but I unpacked it too quickly this morning to remember.

I haven’t the marketing skills to help it go from idea to income. But I have the organizational skills to make it work…
You know, the more this idea sits with me, the more I fall in love with it.

It reminds me of this children’s book by Kobi Yamata, beautifully illustrated by Mae Besom.
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Pretty much the gist is the child has an idea but doesn’t know what to do with it at first, but it continues to follow him around.
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But sometimes asking what other’s think about an idea isn’t the simplest thing.
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The last page of the book says,
“And then, I realized what you do with an idea…
You change the world.”

Now, I don’t expect to change the world with this “feather your nest” idea. But I will say this. I changed my friend and mentor’s home. I changed my own home…several of my own homes. My sister in law is adamant I come change her home.
So maybe, just maybe, this idea has room to grow.

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goodbye, Why Not?

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Sundance texted me Tuesday evening: I’m going into mourning. Why Not? is closing.
My response: Oh NO! Saddest face.
Sundance: I just saw it on the news! We need to go check it out.
Me: I’m wide open Friday. Can you go then?
Sundance: I believe so.
Me: Sold!
Sundance: Boo yah!

So I picked her up this morning and we headed into Old Town Alexandria.
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Why Not? Is a toy store on the corner of King and Lee Streets that we have been shopping at for more than twenty years.
I can’t tell you how many times we’ve taken any number of our four kids into the store to climb the steep and narrow stairs to the all important Groovy Girls/Playmobil/book section.
Thing 2 and Girlie Thing had so many pairs of adorably patterned tights from Why Not?
We’ve bought more books from Why Not? than from Amazon in the last twenty years.

Why Not? has been there on the corner for more than 50 years!
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It is heart breaking to know that an independent toy shop just can’t keep up in the day and age of Amazon and Target, etc. Not to mention, it’s probably time for the owner to retire.

I am filled with sadness this afternoon. But I am also flooded with the happiest memories of being in that shop with my girls. Of sneaking down to Old Town when the girls were at school to do a little Christmas or Birthday shopping. Of piling into the car to see the windows decorated for the holidays.

Sundance has been coveting this little dolly for almost two years. It’s made in France and she saw it for over $100.00 at another toy shop. It was $74.00 at Why Not? and everything in the store was 30% off.
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That little brown haired dolly had a red haired sister!
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We decided we needed them desperately…but not enough to actually buy them. Our grown-up brains overrode our dolly needing little girl brains.
‘It was just Christmas. I don’t have a job. Blah blah blah.’
We discussed how my Mommie would have convinced us there is always money for a new dolly. Made us miss her. Sundance talked to her mom after I dropped her off at home, she told her we should have bought the dollies. So much for us being grown-ups.

I did purchase a children’s book.
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It’s about girl power, I absolutely couldn’t pass it up!

Sundance bought two little teeny angel dollies. One for me and one for her.
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I LOOOOOOOVE her!

My sadness runs deeper than I expected. It feels like a part of all the Things childhood has died. Luckily, they’re big kids now. They have happy memories, and hopefully no sadness.
How lucky are we that Why Not? was in our lives for so long!?!

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food for the soul

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis once said: There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.

I believe this with an unparalleled fierceness.
I tell all parents of young children this is my philosophy of child rearing: First you feed a child with food, then with books, then you worry about whether or not their shoes fit.
If you could see the looks on their faces. They have that initial moment of WTF? but then I see their eyes widen as they begin to understand how this makes some kind of sense.

I believe this principle applies to grownups too.
You ever been to someone’s home and find no books and feel like there is something so completely wrong with that? I don’t trust a person who doesn’t read.
I love to explore what other people have on their shelves.
We all know that someone who has books on the shelf for show, you know damn well that person doesn’t read them, they’re there lined up like little soldiers just to impress.
If you looked at my bookshelves, the majority of the books are either children’s books or biographies. Of course there are other things mixed in, adult fiction and textbooks, even some pretty amazing nonfiction too.

We must eat food to sustain our physical lives.
But books are food too. Soul food.
They feed our imagination. They feed us inspiration. They feed us information. They feed us laughter and love and tears. They feed us fear and loathing. They feed us when food isn’t what we need to ingest.

When Thing 2 was a small girl, we were waiting at the doctors office. I was reading and she was reading. She had just begun to read “proper” books, and was reading her first chapter book. It was the first time I didn’t read to her as we waited somewhere. It was the first time I read my book and she read hers. When the realization washed over me I began to cry.
After a big breath, I said to her: You’ve given yourself the best gift you’ll ever receive.
She looked at me from behind her coke-bottle glasses with confusion. I indicated the book.
She said: You gave me this book.
I said: Yes I did, but you learned to read it. And from now on you’ll be able to read anything you want. What a wonderful gift you gave to yourself!
She thought about this for a moment and then gave that jack-o-lantern smile (She was missing three teeth at the time.) and said: You’re right!

Both Thing 1 and Thing 2 love books. And shoes. They’ve been influenced by my parenting philosophy quite literally. (There’s a trees and two apples and never are they terribly far apart.)
I know that they will pass on their love of books to their children, and their nieces and nephews, and one day, their children’s children.

This quote has been attributed to Stephen King: Books are uniquely portable magic.
And they feed the soul.

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meet Dot

My co-teacher is an artist. I am a writer. We’ve decided to combine our talents and create a children’s book. The idea came to us rather suddenly one morning and surprised us because we couldn’t believe it took us so long to get there.
We’ve worked out the general story line…where and why it begins and where it will go. It is a story about a little girl who learns a great deal about herself in a very peculiar way. It is a story of the power of love. It is a story of hope.
We were sending snapchats back and forth today with ideas while I was out shopping for YBW with Thing C and Thing G and she was at the dealership trading in her car.

Her quick sketch of our titular character, Dot.
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I’m delighted to experience this process with my darling co-teacher. I’ve been out of high school longer than she’s been alive, but the stars aligned when we came to this classroom together. We make each other better teachers. And now we’re beginning this project so close to our hearts with all the excitement of the three year olds we spend our days with!
I wish us bon courage, but mostly I wish us much fun with great love.

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pajama day of deliciousness

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My little friends celebrated a month of hard work studying families and food with “pajama day of deliciousness”.
We all came to school in our jammies, even the two teachers.
We read Cupcake before we iced and decorated (then ate) cupcakes. We read The Mice of Bistrot des Sept Freres before we made soupe au fromage. (That we will eat when it’s time for our snack this afternoon.) We popped corn and watched Ratatouille (a movie about both food and families) while lying around on the floor on pillows from our Tree House Library.

I’m sick…a cold that has taken up residence in my chest…and left the movie at home this morning when I came to school. (Many thanks to YBW who brought it to school on his way to work!)
Even though I’m feeling puny I’ve had such a wonderfully fun day and couldn’t wait to share!

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a bibliophile’s bookgasm

The bibliophile in me is having a total bookgasm!
I discovered the coolest website called litographs.com.
This site has over 100 books printed on tees, posters, and tote bags. The actual text!
And for each tee, poster, or tote you buy, they donate a book through the International Book Bank!
I’m DYING to have this one.
Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden.
secret garden tee

“Promoting literacy never looked so good.”

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