Thursday, January 31, 2013

Maybe a Flower Will Grow....

When Alaina and I were walking out of the library this morning, a light, misty rain was falling. I asked my little three-year-old if she would like to put her hood up. Alaina said, "No ... I love to have the rain on my head. It is the best feeling in the world!"  She paused and then added, "Maybe a flower will grow!!"

And one just might :)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Go Ahead, Judge a Book By Its Cover!

“Never judge a book by its cover”—it was pretty standard advice when I was growing up (although interestingly enough when I asked my two oldest children if they’d ever heard the phrase they hadn’t!).

I have a clear memory of a school librarian presenting this adage and explaining its significance as I sat on the carpet of the children’s section of the library one day when I was in kindergarten.

These words have also—of course—been repeated many times as a metaphor for getting to know people before you decide what they will be like.

While I whole-heartedly accept the metaphorical application of this phrase, I have finally decided that the literal meaning is hardly ever true.

For example, I just finished reading two amazingly good books (The Secret Keeper and The Light Between Oceans) and one pretty good one (The Life of Pi). Both of the five-star books had very appealing covers, and the fairly good one had a somewhat interesting cover. I also noticed that the book I thought was only pretty good got a lot more interesting when the story started tying in with the picture of a tiger on the front.

I realized last night as I closed The Light Between Oceans (a book that I read in only five days because I could hardly put it down) that the cover was partly what had led me to read the story. 

Then I started thinking about how I discovered another author I really like, Kate Morton, by looking at book covers: one day I was quickly trying to decide on a book from the “recommended” shelf at the library, and one of them stood out because of the picture on its front. This was The Distant Hours. After that I read Morton’s two other books, and finally, a few weeks ago, her latest addition, The Secret Keeper--all with similar covers, incidentally.

And then there was that awful book I pre-ordered a few months ago—as it turns out, I didn’t care for the book or the cover, really.

I started to think that maybe one really can judge a book by its cover, at least these days.

Maybe book-makers are getting better at choosing cover art—or maybe illustrators are getting better at reflecting the content of books. Maybe publishers are realizing the importance of picking a cover that attracts the book's intended audience, or maybe over the years I’ve just developed a better feel for what I’ll enjoy reading.

Whatever it is, I think a cover can actually tell us a lot about a book (although I'm pretty sure I would never REFUSE to read a book just because I didn't like the cover!).

Anyway, I just thought I’d put it out there—maybe it’s a good idea to judge a book by its cover once in a while . . . as long as it really is just a book :)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

So Much Cinderella

Have you ever been looking at something at a store, a shirt or sweater for example, and then realized that you already had an almost identical item at home?


This actually happens to me from time to time.  I remember once I was shopping with one of my sisters, and I was looking at an off-white V-neck T-shirt--then my sister pointed out that I already had pretty much that exact shirt on.

Looking in my closet, a person might notice more than a few chocolate brown tops, or--in my drawer--more pairs of denim capris than may be technically necessary for an individual.  I tend to like my "timeless classics," and even though I sometimes make half-hearted attempts at including some variety, I never veer too far away from the comfortably familiar.

Alaina seems to have inherited this trait.  She loves her leggings (she won't wear pants at all!) and her cranberry juice, and her activity of choice is always the zoo. 

Alaina has also established a clear trend when it comes to toys. While our little three-year-old will play with almost anything, she really loves her Cinderellas.

Alaina got her first Cinderella doll for Christmas last year, when she was two.

Remember that lovely hair cut?  She still talks about the time when Janae cut her hair. . . .

This soon became her favorite baby, and little Cinderella has accompanied Alaina many places--including Disneyland, where they got to meet the real Cinderella :)

When Alaina's third birthday came along, the thing she wanted most (besides a Dorothy-themed party) was another Cinderella doll that talked and moved her arms and legs.  You might remember that I finally broke down and bought it--a little twin for the original doll.

And remember that goose-egg on her head?  Poor little birthday girl!

For Christmas I was thinking Alaina might like something "Cinderella" as well, so we got her a nightie and some "glass slippers."  Alaina was very happy with these gifts. 

But a few days after Christmas, when we were at a store that sold toys, Alaina spotted ANOTHER Cinderella baby that was slightly different from the other two she already had (a tiny bit smaller).  Of course she wanted to get it, but having just given lots and lots of toys to my children as gifts, I wasn't planning to buy another doll that Alaina ALREADY HAD TWO OF at home.

Alaina, however, did have some money from grandma that she could spend as she pleased.

And it was with this money that she acquired Cinderella #3.

A couple of days later, Alaina asked me, "Do you know what I want for next Christmas?"  I hesitantly asked, "What?" only to hear my daughter say, "Another Cinderella!!"

A little worried that Alaina might turn out too much like me, I have been trying to help her become more comfortable with variety and change. 

And with a little help from Janae, I think we have been successful.  For example, Alaina has finally accepted her new bed  on the bottom bunk--after lots of tears at giving up her toddler bed,

and sometimes--when Janae is at school and the coast is really clear--she even dresses up as Merida :)

 Maybe this will be Alaina's year for trying new things!

Or maybe she will end up with a shelf full of Cinderellas to go along with her drawer full of leggings.

Like mother like daughter?