Tuesday, March 31, 2015

until we meet again

Day 31of 31 of the Slice of Life Challenge

So we've reached the end of March and of this year's Slice of Life challenge. It doesn't seem quite real yet that this is the end.

I have no real ideas tonight on anything grand or touching to write about.  I think it is the pressure I feel to make the last post of the challenge super special. My brain freezes over and quickly discards all ideas as not good enough. 

With that in mind, I will make this exit as I make so many of my "in real life" exits--quick and easy.
I have loved every minute, y' all.  I look forward to slicing on Tuesdays.  I look forward to reading the posts of other slicers. I'll send good wishes out into the universe for us all. 

Until we meet again-

Monday, March 30, 2015

the tangibles

Day 30 of the Slice of Life Challenge

I've written about how much this challenge has given me, and about some of the lessons learned. What I haven't mentioned are the tangible things I've gained from reading posts from other slicers.

  • I've ordered some Red Rose tea.  The original 100-count box because THOSE are the ones the whimsies come in.  It's a thing.  Ask the Google.  
  • Both Steal Like an Artist and Show Your Work by Austin Kleon are on their way to me and should arrive tomorrow.
  • A  coloring book for grown-ups, Enchanted Forest by Johanna Basford will eventually be on its way to me---as soon as they are back in stock.  Who knew these were so popular?
  • Also, a 48-count box of new gel pens because clearly one needs new pretty pens when one has a gorgeous new coloring book. 
These are VERY exciting developments, friends.  Not only am I feeling like a complete winner for meeting my goal of writing & posting every day in March, as well as commenting on at least 3 other slices per day, but I've come away with some great new play pretties that will add fun & knowledge to my life!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

book club

Day 29 of the Slice of Life Challenge

My book club met today.  Sunday meetings are totally out of the ordinary.  We generally meet one Friday afternoon a month and by we I mean everyone-but-me-because-I-can't-seem-to-make-it.  I was invited to join this book club after getting the high school librarian job as the book club is mostly made up of high school teachers. I've read just about all the books even though I haven't been able to make the meetings, but I really loved this month's selection so I was overjoyed to be able to attend.

This month's book was The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce.  Harold is an ordinary man who has lived an ordinary life.  He is newly retired and lives with his wife in the same house they've lived in for years and years. His wife Maureen is distant and angry.   When Harold receives a letter from an old friend he hasn't seen or heard from in 20 years he embarks on a quest almost without knowing it. 

I enjoyed the book so much I'm now reading the companion novel, The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy and honestly, I'm loving it so much more.  Perhaps because I already know and love these characters.  Perhaps because I love a story about the small moments that make up our lives. 

I feel in some ways it is the bravest way to live your life---as one of the ordinary.  Most of us long to be seen as extraordinary in some way or another as we grow up.  When you ask kids what they would like to do when they grow up you'll get a lot of answers that show that most of us long for fame and fortune. (except my Olivia who answers that question with --I want to be me.  That's all. Just me. And I say good on ya, baby to that answer.  Oh, to have such wisdom.) And yet, that isn't in the cards for the bulk of us.  We have to find the gumption and grit to get up each morning and do our best with no adoring crowds and often no atta-boys.  When we learn that we are enough--just as we are--ordinary humans making ordinary mistakes in our ordinary lives it can actually become transcendent. It is through the mundane tasks of doing the dishes and walking the dogs that we can laugh and love and be.  It is through the ordinary that most of us become extraordinary in our own lives.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

last SOL Saturday

Day 28 of the Slice of Life challenge.

It is hard to believe that we are nearly at the end of our month-long SOL challenge.  I have enjoyed it tremendously and gained much from the experience. 

Writing is absolutely a daily habit now.  I should say, I generally wrote mostly daily before, but was not great about posting it--or sharing my writing in any way.  Actually writing is vital, of course, but the sharing is important, too.  Like my Fitbit actually tracks my steps, sharing my writing keeps me on track & holds me accountable with writing. I've played with form & style in my writing throughout the month. I've taken risks and been honest.

I have found over the years that I need a bit of a challenge to get moving and to stay the course, so I've signed up for the April Camp Nanowrimo as well as the YA Buccaneers' upcoming spring writing boot camp. I plan to slice on Tuesdays throughout the year, too.  I'm also looking forward to Kate Messner's Teachers Write virtual summer camp again.  

I have read so many amazing slices in such a wide variety of styles.  I've found new blogs to follow. There have been moments of tears as well as chuckles reading over the blog posts this month.  So much talent out there! I've learned to post comments much more regularly rather than just lurking. Comments are important!  I have been humbled and overjoyed to receive comments on most of my posts, as well.  Sometimes---if you never get comments---sometimes you think no one is out there reading what you write, or if they are reading it that it doesn't resonate with anyone.  It is a lonely feeling and can make you feel silly for sharing to begin with---and sometimes it makes you quit blogging for long bits because it seems like no one cares anyway.  I'm determined to let folks know I am reading them and their words are meaningful to me from this point on. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

countdown: a week in review

Day 27 of the Slice of Life challenge.

10 books added to the first purchase list of next year! (student & teacher requests)
  9 moments the Xerox machine had me about to throw wall-eyed hissy fits.
  8 coca-colas (I had to caffeinate HARD this week!)
  7 librarians at the meeting Thursday.
  6 awesome new Model United Nations projects to display
  5 days of Telpas testing going on upstairs.
  4 sections of fiction shelves now totally genre-fied.
  3 workshops/committee meetings after school.
  2 teenage boys crying in my office over love gone wrong.
  1 random dirty sock on the returned book cart when I walked in this morning.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

field trip

Day 26 of the Slice of Life challenge.

Daughter-the-eldest had a field trip today. 
Two buses going to the same place.
3 hours one way.
All her friends on the other bus.  
They are all together.
She is alone.

She is 12.  Middle School.  Hard years. 
Figuring out who she is. Trying to find her place, her tribe.

I picked her up just now.  
I saw her birthday twin & best friend since the age of 3 
Walking with someone else. 
They shared a seat today on the other bus
While my kid sat alone in a seat all by herself.

How was the trip? I asked when she got in the car.
Boring. she said.
I sat by myself. 
I tried to text them on the bus
None of them texted back.

She doesn't tear up
But I do.
I try not to let her see.

She tells me that yesterday morning
When she got to school 
She walked to their table 
And said hello
The other girls didn't say hello back.

It has begun, I see.
The inevitable shift that happens in middle school.
I lived it myself
I taught through it for years

But this is my kid
And she is hurting
And I want to fix it
But I can't.

She is not a dainty darling
She is larger-than-life
Brimming with brilliance
And loud-and-proud
And funny as all get-out 
And strong-willed
And courageous
Traits that are not always prized in middle school 
By friends or teachers either, if I am truthful.
I know this from experience
I was that kid, too.

It took me a long time 
to truly appreciate my gifts
instead of letting comparison steal my joy
I had hoped (foolishly, I know) she would not 
Have to live it herself
But we all do
Don't we?

Prepping for the EOY reports

Each year the librarians in my district create our EOY (end of year) reports.
We began creating this district-wide about 6 years ago.
  • we are continually revising what we do to improve
  • currently, each school fills in the document template, turns it in to the school principal and a lead librarian.  that lead librarian compiles info from all campuses into a master document, as well.
  • a one-page document of the "highlights" is also turned into each principal 
Examples of the highlights page front/back (terrible pics, sorry!)

  • a now-retired librarian created the original template and chose the particular strands to document from our state standards and guidelines document. These focus primarily on staffing and funding issues. I'm really not sure why other bits were not originally included.  
  • These are ALSO used  as our 5 year plan per our standards and guidelines in our long document.
  • as none of the programming/events were being highlighted in these documents, we have created a district library showcase each month.  Here is an example:

In an effort to keep moving forward, we looking for new innovative ways to share our EOY reports with our stakeholders.  The Texas standards and guidelines are about to be revised--the appointment of a steering committee is coming up in the next month.  With that said, we are not going to throw out the current document we use locally just yet as we really like that our EOY report is based on these standards.

Here are a few examples of great EOY reports that I'd like to share with my team.

Questions to ponder:

  1. How are we telling our story?
  2. Who is our audience?  Do different audiences need different types of reports? 
  3. Reflection is so important.  Is our current tool the best tool for this?
  4. Admin is busy role. Most want concise, data-driven information
  5. In decided what to include, should we look at the AASL guidelines more? Our district library evaluation tool? Our CIP?
  6. What is the goal for this tool?  Perhaps when the new standards are in place, some of these questions will be easier to answer.
  7. Currently the 5 year plan "required" by our standards actually only refers to "a 5-year strategy for planning, implementing, evaluating, and reporting the budget." Perhaps we should really consider 2 separate reports? Our current report does show growth over time, so that is very helpful. 
  8. Joyce Valenza summed it up so well in her article referring to Jennifer LaGarde's words:I tried  to focus on data they would actually care about. (For example, instead of bemoaning the state of my 400s or shouting about the number of times A Diary of a Wimpy Kid was checked out, I focused on student impact, the relationship between library services and academic success and how our library meets the identified needs of students at our school).

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Day 25 of the Slice of Life Challenge

The weeks after spring break flash by so quickly. Its as though time has actually sped up and we are all barrelling forward ninety-to-nothing. We don't just ease into things after spring break, either...oh no!  We are all-in.  Testing, a million meetings, kids trying like anything to get their projects finished and their prom dresses ordered. Life spins very quickly. This week is spinning like mad.

I'm exhausted tonight.  We had a make a trip to Wal-Mart tonight since daughter-the-eldest has a field trip tomorrow and will need snacks. Our monthly district librarians meeting is tomorrow afternoon and we will discuss our End of Year reports.  Daughter-the-youngest brought home 2 field trip permission slips tonight. I was asked today if  I'm going to be at graduation. 

Yes, the days are spinning, spinning past and the end of the year is fast approaching.  Things won't slow down---we all know this. Hoping more sleep is in the cards for me tonight, and I can promise you awesome coffee will be going down in the library office tomorrow morning--and on a wing and a prayer I'll hold on tight 'til the end. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

I love Tuesdays!

Day 24 of the Slice of Life challenge.

I always look forward to Tuesdays.  You've made it past the Monday blues, and the alarm doesn't surprise you nearly as much on the second morning of the work week as it does the first. 

Tuesdays are also the day we host the #txlchat, a Twitter chat for Texas librarians (and anyone from anywhere who would like to join us!) I am so proud to be a co-moderator for this weekly chat.  It has been a real highlight of my professional career as it has given me the opportunity to build an incredible PLN filled with others who also view the library as a vital change-agent for this new age of learning.  The days of a completely closed off, always quiet, do-not-touch-my-books version of a library are l-o-n-g gone.  A school library should be the heart & hub of a school, and #txlchat helps me to share ideas and sharpen the saw and keep learning, growing, and moving into the future so that my students have a great place to think and dream, and learn and create and just BE in our library.

Tonight's chat will be especially important. The state library standards have been around for 10 years, and a revision is about to take place. In my district, we use these standards to build our end of year reports, to lobby the powers that be for adequate funding for books & technology, and to share what amazing things we have going on for our students and teachers.  These are incredibly important and I am excited not only to see what changes are in store, but to have a voice in those changes.  Tonight will be an opportunity to do just that!

We'd love to have you join us this week (and every week!).    

Monday, March 23, 2015

Manic Monday

Day 23 of the Slice of Life challenge.

Just another manic Monday...

I had a difficult time settling down to sleep last night. I finally just got up and found my way back into the living room.  I tried reading.  I tried watching a little TV.  Nothing worked very well. Sometime around midnight I ambled back to bed and gave it another try. 

As a result of the No-sleep-for-you fairy's shenanigans, I was exhausted as all get out when the alarm sounded at 5:07.  Everything I touched dropped.  Everything I poured spilled.  My girls decided they must, must, must have a packed lunch this morning--you know, when there was virtually nothing to pack. No one could find matching socks.  It was one of those mornings. I was on the verge of tears and I am not a crier.  Then the you-need-gas light began flashing on my way to work.

I got the text from my lovely assistant.  She was feeling bad and wouldn't be able to make it in today. Once I got in my office I discovered the socks I thought were black were actually navy. The only navy element to my otherwise black outfit.  

At approximately 7:45 all that turned around.  Coffee finally made and in hand, I started on my usual rounds around the library.  One of my senior girls came in and said, "You know, Mrs. Schulz, it is impossible to mourn the end of our spring break when we get to hear your wonderful friendly 'Good Morning!'"  

Day made.  
And no one else even noticed or cared my socks matched nothing but each other.  ;)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

telling the truth

Day 22 of the Slice of Life challenge.

The truth is...
Sometimes I feel like I could take on the world.  I am bursting with ideas and energy and up for any challenge. 
And sometimes I want to crawl back under the covers and hide from the world because I just.can't. today. I get up anyhow, but sometimes I'm just doing the best I can to fake it till I make it.  

The truth is...
In theory, I want to go and see and experience and live out loud.  In reality, I love a cozy existence.  I love sleeping in my own bed at night.  I love having my favorite kind of coffee in my favorite mug every morning. My life may seem small to others, but it is filled with little moments that mean a lot to me.    

The truth is...
No one has a perfect life.  The human condition is not designed that way.  That person whose life you envy?  They carry burdens, too.  I tell myself this when I see Eva Mendes or Kate Middleton or anyone dating Lenny Kravitz in glossy magazines. I know it to be the truth--but I need reminding of this.  a lot. 

The truth is...
I am sometimes difficult.  I can be stubborn.  I can be loud.  I can be bossy.  These traits are double-edged swords, of course.  I can also be seen as persistent, with a great theatre voice, and a go-getter.  ;)

The truth is...
when Khalil Gibran wrote "let there be spaces in your togetherness?" he got it so right.  this applies to what I need with everyone I know.  I love my family--and there must be spaces in our togetherness--or I might just lose my mind.

The truth is...
I love Emily Dickinson, and Jane Austen and Tennessee Williams and Harper Lee.  I also love Real Housewives of New Jersey, My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and singing 80's pop tunes at top volume. The truth does not always make us proud, but it is what it is.

The truth is...
If you asked my 7th-grade language arts teacher, my mom, my college roommate and my students from 1995 each to define me you would get a wide variety of answers.  My ex-husband would probably have an entirely different take, too.  ;)  I try to help kids understand this when I teach history.  We are remembered differently by different people.

The truth is....
If Stevie Ray Vaughn is on the radio I do not get out of the car until the song is over.  Also, if Adele or Sam Smith is on, it is required that I sing along and sing loudly.  Notice I didn't say sing "well".

The truth is....
Sweet tea tastes better from a Mason jar.  It is even better on a front porch.  Coffee is best in a mug that fits my hand. Lemonade is best is a clear glass with loads of crushed ice.

The truth is...
I should probably love kale at least as much as I love Tex-Mex, but I don't and never will.  I will smile and be grateful for it, but will never give up my queso & chips altogether. And if I eat those chips, I'm choosing to--I am enjoying it and I refuse to apologize or act like I need to do penance.

The truth is...
I am far from perfect, but now that I'm in my mid-40's I like myself a whole lot better than I did at 20, despite my no-longer-stellar figure and my crow's feet.  I have lived a joyful life.  I have laughed often and loved much, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

so tired, tired

Day 21 of the Slice of Life challenge.

"Mama, two stories every night.  Remember? I get one more story."

"Yes, baby girl.  I remember.
 Once upon a time there was a tired, tired mama."

"Mama.  NOT a 'tired, tired' story.  Those are too short. "

"Okay...how about this one...
 Once upon a time there was a beautiful princess who lived in a castle at the very tip-top of a tall, tall  mountain."

"What was her name?"

"Her name was Olivia."

"That's my name!" she says, her voice filled with sleepy giggles. 

"Yes, baby.  That IS your name.
 Olivia wore a beautiful sparkly dress."

"What color was her dress?"

"It was pink.  A lovely shade of sparkly pink."

"Mama!  Pink is my favorite color, too!"

"You're right, sweet girl. It sure is," I say.
 Princess Olivia decided to have a big party and invite all her friends to come to the castle to  play.  She planned and planned and finally the big day arrived.  All her friends came to the party and  everyone sang songs and danced around, and built forts, and ate pizza and cake, and played ball and  blew up  balloons and had a great time together.

"Did Diego go to the party?"

"Yes, baby.  Diego was there."

"How about Jiya?"

"She sure was, baby."

"And Autumn? Was she there, too?"

"Absolutely, Autumn was there."

"And Leo?"

"Yes. All of Olivia's friends were at the party. They had a great time together.  They played so hard and had so much fun that at the end of the day they were all so tired, tired. "

"Umhum," she yawns.

"Yes, they were so tired, tired that they all went home and put on their PJs.  They climbed into bed and got all snugged up with their blankies and their loveys."

"I'm all snugged up with Blankie!" she mumbles.

"Yes, little one, you sure are.
 And then each and every one of Olivia's friends got all cozy, cozy in their nice warm beds and fell  fast asleep." I whisper.

And this tired, tired mama kisses your forehead and breathes in the sweet smell of childhood and knows how very blessed she is to have you.

The days are long, but the years are oh so short.

Friday, March 20, 2015

where did it go?

Day 20 of the Slice of Life challenge.

Spring officially begins the day my spring break officially ends.  Poetic?  Maybe. I still have the weekend, of course--and I'm hanging on to that with both hands.  

I'm not gonna lie---I feel discombobulated. I mean, SERIOUSLY, where DID this week go???

I have cleaned.  Not that you can tell it now with both kids and the hubby also home all week.
I have read.  But not enough.  Not nearly enough. (it is never enough)
I have hosted a Flat Stanley from Omaha.  Well, Flat Ricky.  We had fun with this!
I have cooked.  And had take-out. And gone out to eat.
I have napped. Ah, glorious naps!
I have walked. You know, in the 5 minutes it hasn't been raining this week.
I have watched movies.  Cinderella.  Harry Potter. Get On Up.
I have traveled. Glad Mom lives right outside Austin and not deep in it.  SXSW makes traffic crazy.
I have spent time with family. Fun times. Then arguing. Repeat.This is why we can't have nice things.
I have written. I have not missed a day of SOL.  (pats self on shoulder)
I have taken care of myself.  Hot baths. New Clarisonic. Favorite coffee. Dark chocolate. Red wine.
I have watched some basketball.  Axe'Em Jacks.

Oh.  Huh.  Guess that's where my week went.  

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Righteous Anger

Day 19 of the Slice of Life challenge.

A friend of mine posted this article on The Righteous Anger of Girls on FB this morning.  I haven't been able to get it out of my mind since reading it.  I don't have anything very eloquent to say about it yet--but I'm working on it. ;)

I'm fairly convinced this gives clues to at least one of the reasons for the popularity of Frozen---at least I can vouch that my 5-year-old daughter sings, "Don't let them in, don't let them see/ Be the good girl you always have to be/ Conceal, don't feel, don't let them know/ Well now they know!" with extra gusto.

In other news, I went to see Cinderella this afternoon.  She is taught to have courage and be kind, which is excellent advice. The world can certainly use more kind. I loved the movie, and so did my daughters and the friend who joined us.


I have a lot on my mind today.
Maybe because I am the mother of two girls.
Maybe because I remember being filled with righteous anger myself.
Maybe because I still am.

One of the sayings I live by has always been, "Do not mistake my kindness for weakness." I said it for years before I realized it is part of a quote attributed to notorious gangster Al Capone.
I still mean it.

Thoughts swirl in my mind like ice crystals; like twinkling evidence of magic. Not sure how to reconcile all this in my head---working on that.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

filling my bucket

Day 18 of the Slice of Life challenge.

I love, love, LOVE my job, it is true.  There is, however, one little issue I noticed right away.  My office is open.  OPEN.  O.P.E.N.  It is very much like a drive-through window with no actual window--just a large gaping hole.  I mean, it is a pretty office---and very large--and I am a HUGE believer in being out and about with the students for the bulk of the day rather than being tucked away and unreachable. 

With all that said, the issue is that I am never really able to have a break.  It is far more healthy to pack a lunch, but often I find that leaving campus for my allotted 30 minutes is the only opportunity I have for a quick respite from the day. I don't know about you, but I need this time to recharge in order to be there for the afternoon as fully as I am in the mornings.  If I'm in my office you can pretty much guarantee I have a few students in there, and probably a few at my "drive-through window", as well. 

 I am not complaining--just stating facts.  The greater good that has come from this is I have been forced to finally consider how to get better at filling my bucket.  I read this post  from More Books Than Time and thought about how so many of us struggle with filling our buckets in the busyness of our lives spent caretaking for others. 

I've made some life changes that seem to be helping.  

1. Okay, so I don't often fangirl, but I am a huge Outlander fan (longtime fan of the book series by Diana Gabaldon), so when an opportunity came to join an Outlander facebook fan group page getting on board the Bear Sports My Peak Challenge, I jumped.  My Peak Challenge was really working on learning not to eat my emotions and to get moving. It helps being part of a community with similar goals, with all of us cheering one another on. 

2. I bought a Fitbit.  I am super conscious of getting in my steps now. I knew I wasn't moving enough, but now I KNOW know. 

3. I am a HUGE believer in Epsom Salt baths.  When I'm stressed after a long day,  nothing seems to relax me as much as putting on a lovely candle or incense stick and soaking in a hot bath filled with Dr. Teal's Eucalyptus Spearmint Epsom Salts. I just feel amazingly relaxed when I get out.

4. Water.  Water. I drink lots of water in addition to my morning coffee (which, by the way, is not going away!)

5.  I'm making a concerted effort in taking care of my skin for the first time ever.  I'll be 45 next month--I think it's time! My mom even surprised me with an early birthday present--a gift of a Clarisonic Mia---it is charging now (24 hours before the first use---ack!  I should have taken it out of the box sooner!) but I can't wait to use it.  

6.  I'm spring cleaning some over this spring break.  Let's be clear... despite being a librarian, home organization does not come easy for me.  Book organization, yes; home organization, no.  I just have too much stuff (another thing I'm working on)compared to the space available.  I am sentimental and I like my things.  I KNOW from experience I feel better when I have less chaos around me, so it is worth it to me to spend some time on this project. It will not happen overnight, but it WILL happen one bite at a time.

7.  I am making time for daily habits that I enjoy like writing, too.  Journaling, reflection time, quiet morning moments with my coffee. All of these have their place.

8.  Mostly I am trying to remember that perfection isn't possible and to cut myself a break. 

Remember to fill YOUR bucket, too.  Life has plenty of hard, folks. Fill your bucket so you can fill the bucket of those you love.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

On Comments

Day 17 of the Slice of Life challenge

I continue to learn new things through this Slice of Life challenge.  One of the lessons I'll carry with me is to comment on all the blogs I read.  Perhaps not each and every post, but far more often than I have been.  

I didn't comment much before for a list of reasons--too busy, reading on the go, my opinion wasn't quite formed yet, and sometimes even that my opinion or comments didn't really matter in the long run. 

Here's what I've learned: comments matter.  Writing is, at heart, a conversation between the writer and the reader.  No reader, no conversation---just a monologue.  It helps me as a writer to feel that I'm not always just a lone voice singing in the wind.  When you comment, I know I've reached you, even if we disagree.  If you comment, neither of us feel alone in our thoughts and sometimes we can even learn from one another.  If I comment, I do the same for you. 

I read many blogs consistently. Up to this point, I can count only a handful of times I've commented--which is silly given how giddy I get when I get comments on my posts.  "But mine is just a little blog," I think, "and theirs has thousands of followers.  My comment would be redundant. That first commenter said it better than I could."  

I'm so thankful that this challenge has truly challenged me in many ways---the hosts were brilliant for requiring everyone to comment on three other posts per day.  This is another good habit I'll be happy to keep after March is long over. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Home Again

Day 16 of the Slice of Life challenge by Two Writing Teachers.

We had a wonderful whirlwind weekend with family.  My brothers and their families left yesterday, so this morning, our last morning at my mom's house, was far more quiet than normal.  Only my sleepy children and hubby to stumble down to breakfast, still wearing their pj's.  

My mom and I got our quiet morning coffee time together.  It is always nice to have her all to myself for a bit each trip.  She is a whirling dervish, so time sitting together is precious.  She brought out a plastic box she picked up the last time she visited her brother.  In it were treasures more valuable than gold.  Well, to me, at least.  Photos of my grandparents when they were young, and of their many siblings, and two little books I had never seen before.  The journal of my grandfather from 1946, and a ledger of his father, my great-grandfather.  As the family historian, these treasures are now mine, although I left them with her along with instructions to write names on the backs of the photos using photo-safe ink.  I'll return in a month's time on my way to the Texas Library Association's annual conference and pick them up.  

We went for a long walk this morning on the trail behind her house.  The countryside is so different in the Hill Country than in East Texas.  It has its own beauty, filled with various cactus and mesquite trees.  It is a harsher beauty than the lush foliage and tall pines where I live, but one I also appreciate. It was nice to have a brisk walk, hearing the cooing of doves as we stretched our legs a bit, especially considering the 4-hour drive home we made this afternoon!

And so, we have arrived home.Tired, but happy, with the rest of our spring break week ahead of us.  

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Sunday Day 15

Day 15 of the Slice of Life challenge by Two Writing Teachers.

Today has been lovely. A bit of shopping, some great food and time with family.  All in all we've had a great weekend.

I am also exhausted.  Worn to a nub.

This will be a short post--just enough to say I wrote tonight.

Good night,all--

Saturday, March 14, 2015

things to write about

Day 14 of the Slice of Life challenge by Two Writing Teachers.

Woo-HOOOO!  Look what I bought today!  So excited!
Daughter-the-eldest and middle niece and I went to a lovely indie bookstore today.  We picked up these two gems and my daughter is JUST as excited about her "young writer's edition" as I am about mine.  I foresee some fun this week in writing over the same prompt and then comparing our choices.  I'm also looking forward to sharing with my Teen Writers Alliance group when school starts up again after the break.
New books, cupcakes, coffee & family; a great way to spend a Saturday.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Thoughts on a Friday morning

Day 13 of the Slice of Life challenge by Two Writing Teachers.

It is early morning here in Deep East Texas.  I normally don't take the time to write in these quiet hours on weekdays but since this is looking like the best bet to get any writing done at all today, I thought I'd better take the opportunity! 

Today is the last day of school before our Spring Break. Tonight my girls and I will head down the road  to my mother's house, where we will meet up with my brothers and their families.  It will be late when we arrive--and I will have just spent 4 hours in the car with my kiddos after working all day, and I'm just not sure I'll have the brain power left to write anything vaguely coherent at that point!

In trying to give myself the best possible no-excuses writing experience while out of town for a few days, I've set up the bones of the posts already this morning.  I've created them and added the cute "Slice of Life" logo and the line that marks the day of the challenge.  I'm hoping that with these already made, they will stay on my mind despite all the noise the wild ones will be making. 

I love these memory-making weekends.  I love that my kids and my nieces and nephews love each other so much.  I love that the youngest of my nieces is a darling squishy baby still and I'll get some squishy baby holding time.  I love that my brothers and I will laugh and tell old stories and share things that even after all this time still make us howl with laughter while our spouses just look at one another and scratch their heads with wonder. We've tried to explain, to help them see the hilarity, but some things are only funny when you've lived them. I love that I'll have some early morning coffee time with just my mom and me. These moments are treasures. 

And I'll write.  I will take some time each day and I'll close myself up in a semi-quiet room and I'll keep this promise I made to myself.     

Thursday, March 12, 2015

One More Day

Day 12 of the Slice of Life Challenge from Two Writing Teachers

Rambling thoughts on a rainy night.

One more day closer to spring break. 
It has been an incredibly hectic week and I am flat worn out. 
Murphy's Law over and over and over again.
Still raining.  Wondering if I should start collecting wood and gathering animals two by two.
Lovely assistant is VERY much missed when she is sick at home with a nasty bug. 
Did I mention hubby is out of town, too?
and baby girl had a school performance I didn't know about until two hours before it began? 
(where, oh where is the plain white shirt? no--you cannot wear high heels with your jeans. you are 5.)
and daughter-the-eldest had to be picked up at a special time from school along with her bestie so this mama had to leave work.as.quickly.as.possible?
and the Navy presentation was today?
The coke machine ran out of cokes.  RAN OUT OF COKES.

(yes, I know water is better.  yes, I did drink coffee all morning. sometimes a gal needs a coke.)

But...I made it through.
One more day.  
I can do this. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

As seen in the library

Day 11 of the Slice of Life writing challenge from Two Writing Teachers.

In all seriousness, there is never a dull moment in the library +  Not sure you could call anything "typical" either = this is why I love my job.

My library is filled to the brim with kids every morning.  Filled.To.The.Brim. Some of them are readers, and some of them are gamers, and some of them are both, and some of them are neither. 

Some of them are guys and some of them are girls and some of them are the very best of friends. 

Some of them are serious & scholarly and some of them are silly as can be. 

Some of them are graphic-novel crazy and some of them read only fantasy. 

Some of them come for the comfy chairs and some of them come for a safe place to hang out with their friends and some of them just want a place to belong.

They all belong. They all matter.  My library = Their library = OUR LIBRARY.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


Day 10 of the Slice of Life Challenge from Two Writing Teachers

The genrefication is moving along swimmingly.  By the time I left work today I had completed two sections of the first bookshelf--which I realize doesn't sound like much but is right on target for the goal I've set for completing an entire side of each Fiction bookshelf per week. 

After much deliberation, I've settled on the following genres to label:

Realistic Fiction 
Historical Fiction
Story Collection

These labels will be placed at the top of the book spine, and I have some secondary labels available for the bottom of the spine (these won't change the location of the book, but will just aid students in finding what they want within a genre section) of Sports, Romance, and Suspense. 

So, all the books will be labeled, have their spine labels changed to reflect the genre, and be changed in the catalog.  I'm also making sure to denote the series in the cataloging (ex. Need Chronicles, bk. 2) as I go along.  

My plan is to label all the books first, and then do the big switcharoo once I have a better idea the size area I will need for each section.  

It is a big undertaking, but I love being able to see the progress as I move along and the students have been so excited to know this is where we are headed.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Things I wish you could hear

Day 9 of the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge

Life is hard and wonderful and filled with uncertainty.  Every day I watch the students in my library as they find their way through it, and often think to myself, --I wish I could tell you this in a way that you would really hear it--- but more often than not I know that these are lessons we all must learn on our own and in our own time.  When the student is ready, the teacher will come kind of thing. Even with that knowledge, these have been on my mind to share so here are a few tidbits I wish they could hear. 
  1. Don't ever make yourself "smaller" to fit into someone else's vision of who you should be.
  2. Guys feel feelings just as deeply, they've just been taught by our world to suck it up in order to be a man.
  3. Khalil Gibran wrote, "Let there be spaces in our togetherness."  These are wise, wise words for every relationship be it friendship or love.
  4. At the heart of most anger is fear.
  5. Be you.  
  6. Everyone is carrying a burden.  Everyone. 
  7. When in doubt, choose kindness.
  8. Love isn't about control.  Love isn't about shutting you off from friends and family. Love doesn't call you names or hurt you.
  9. Being "cool" isn't all it's cracked up to be.
  10. Trust your gut.  
  11. Loving someone doesn't necessarily mean you are meant to be together forever. That doesn't make what you have less real.  Summer doesn't mean the winter wasn't important & necessary & real.
  12. Celebrate the success of your friends.  Their success doesn't take away from you--there isn't a scarcity of success; there is plenty for all of us to enjoy.
  13. Apologize and mean it. We all screw up at one point or another.  Learn to own your mistakes and make amends.
  14. Guys who only want you if you act ditzy don't want the real you.  This is exhausting and ridiculous.  Please don't fall into this trap.  
  15. If you try to control your loved ones you will end up being resentful and angry.
  16. You can't make someone love you and you can't change anyone but yourself.  
  17. You were put on this earth to shine.  Don't hide your light under a bushel. Don't let anyone dull your sparkle.
  18. When people hurt you, forgive them.  This doesn't mean you don't move forward, this means you feel your feelings and then you release them so you CAN move forward.
  19. Do what makes your heart sing.  
  20. You are important.  You matter.  YOU have gifts no one else can offer this world.  
Come to think of it, these are words I wish I could share with many adults, too.  Did I mention I need to remind myself of them often, as well?

Sunday, March 8, 2015


Day 8 of the Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life Challenge

Another damp and gray Sunday. Pleasant enough on occasion, but a bit depressing when found in a long string of damp and gray days. Lovely with a fire in the fireplace, a hearty stew simmering on the stovetop and the smell of freshly baked bread in the air.  Even more wonderful if you add cozy favorite chair, a great book, and some hot tea. 

None of the cozy elements were to be found today. Instead, my home was filled with the entire family still feeling a bit questionable with tremulous stomachs from our encounter with rich fried foods Friday night for a birthday celebration and all of us rather cranky due to this and the springing forward of time.  I'm always thrown off with time changes, but the springing forward is the worst. Add to that a meeting which required me to shower and leave the house. In the rain.
And two fussy daughters. 
The husband?  Only semi-cranky.  ;)

Days like this I just want to hibernate.  I want to sleep my cranky away.  

I won't make my Fitbit quota for the first time since I began wearing it--
My stomach is still quite questionable--
Even watching Harry Potter didn't fix it--
Nor did a hot bath--

I'm thinking it is time to go to bed and hope for a sunny disposition tomorrow despite the weather forecast. 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

My real job

Day 7 of the #SOL15 Challenge

If you've read my blog at all you know I absolutely love my job. From the smell of the place (coffee & books) to the excitement of receiving new boxes of books (Squeee!) to helping students with their research & other scholarly needs, I love it all.  One aspect of my job that I didn't really fully understand before my time with secondary students is making the library a safe haven.  I mean, I knew I wanted it to be a cozy welcoming place, but I didn't really get how necessary this aspect of the librarian gig actually is.  

Every day--EVERY.SINGLE.DAY--the library is filled with kids who need a place; kids who are hurting as they try to figure out this thing called life.  I am honored to be able to provide a place for them. I really believe that as much, as I love bringing books & people together, that is my true calling--to help provide that space for those who need it. Sometimes these kids find their way into my office, or behind the circ desk at the front with my lovely assistant.  Sometimes they find their way through high school by finding "their people" who are also in the library.  Life is less difficult with friends to help you navigate the sometimes rough seas.  

Truthfully, there are days when it is hard for me to smile one more time at one more person; days when my to-do list is left half-done because those things I needed to do cannot be a higher priority than the students I am there to serve.  People are important, and they need to know they matter to someone. 

Friday, March 6, 2015

Day 6: It's Friday!

It is Day 6 of the Slice of Life Challenge!

Time to do the Friday afternoon happy dance!  whoop! whoop! After a L-O-N-G day filled with strange tech issues and a million interruptions of my genrefication plans, I still managed to log in over 7000 steps on my fitbit at work, drink water rather than the coke I was craving (man, I was tired today---didn't sleep well last night), get the aforementioned tech issues fixed, talk books & writing to some awesome kiddos and walk out the door this afternoon with the sounds of our Anime Club having a fun-filled meeting in the library.  

Hoping everyone has a wonderful restful weekend!


Thursday, March 5, 2015

As seen this morning in the library...

My goal is to write a post each & every day this month for the Slice of Life challenge from the always fabulous Two Writing Teachers blog.

As a new-to-the-high-school librarian, I have been pleasantly surprised over and over again with my students.  Teens are just FUN to work with, man.  Yesterday afternoon we did a bit of spring decorating including a book display with books in a giant Easter basket along with some giant plastic Easter eggs.  Before we even had the table finished I had kids coming up to tell me how pretty it looked and how cool the giant eggs & basket were.  We even had a few ask if they could take selfies with the eggs!  This morning, two football players (and all-around nice guys) decided the two sides of the large blue egg would make eggcellent hats.  They cracked me up & were totally onboard with me posting the pics on our library Instagram page.  Who knew these would be such a hit?

Yes, there are occasions when I see students making  poor choices, but, for the most part, my day consists of seeing:

  • friends supporting one another through hard times
  • kids offering comfort when a friend is stressed
  • students working hard to complete assignments 
  • students chilling out with one another & being silly
  • kids recommending books they love to one another
  •  rousing games of chess & checkers
I've said it before, and I'll say it again:  I LOVE my job.  I'm so glad I made the move out of my middle school comfort zone and into this new world that is the high school.  I have found my place to make a difference. 


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

what a day

Every day this month I'll be posting as part of the Slice of Life challenge.

My assistant called me from the circ desk.  "Have you read your email?"
I hadn't.  I was smack in the middle of processing the first two rows of shelves in my genrefying project.*  I clicked over to my open-but-minimized email window and read the news. Late start tomorrow due to expected bad winter weather conditions.  The district admin called it fairly early today. 

Now, I love a good snow day as much as anyone else because here in East Texas they are rare gifts indeed, but I have to admit I'm just not as thrilled about tomorrow as most of my friends. I knew immediately I would have two upset girls.  My oldest, since she has been looking forward to tomorrow's field trip to a couple of museums in Houston (now postponed) and my youngest because the program she was scheduled to perform in had been rescheduled for tomorrow night from the last week of icy weather conditions (now cancelled).  

Now here we are at almost 9:30.  I'm exhausted having dealt with daily life at school, then daily life at home, with the additional drama of the afore-mentioned two girls.  My fitbit battery is almost dead (did I mention I misplaced the charger within minutes of opening the box?) and a toilet overflowed (such an understatement---picture the Mighty Mississippi flowing) while daughter-the-eldest and dear husband were at Lowe's buying something archery related.  We've fixed the issue, but am still working on washing and drying every towel in the house used to sop up the mess.  Daughter-the-youngest is crying because  she "doesn't want the cat to die" (the cat is fine.  daughter is tired and gets melancholy at this level of exhaustion. she is five. we had a neighbor pass away a few months ago and now we are very aware and concerned about death of loved ones.  tears over the possibility of death at least a weekly occurrence at this juncture.)

Maybe that extra two hours will do us all some good!

*genrefying going well for the first day.  got 2 rows of books labeled and new spine labels typed into the computer.  moving right along!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Box Arrived

The box arrived today.
A student office aide delivered it right to me.
I've been waiting and waiting for it to arrive.
Now it is HERE.
I'm excited, anxious, giddy, and a bit overwhelmed if you want to know the truth.

My box of new genre labels finally made it to the library, so it is time to embark on my BIG springtime switcharoo.

I may have learned just enough from the first time I did this to make me KNOW what a GIANT undertaking this is---but hopefully I have a more solid plan this time around.

I began slowly this afternoon with my small box of beautiful new books from Junior Library Guild. Questions I've asked and answered and asked again a million times in my head and with co-workers.

Should I just sticker them and leave them?
How on earth am I going to re-shelve all these books?
Reshelve?  What about making new SPINE labels and changing them all in the computer?
Will my space allow for this to be done easily?
Sticker first, right? Sticker them all first?
What about THAT book?  What the heck kind of genre do I put THAT one in?

Despite my questions, I'm jumping in.  I figure it is a bit like childbirth or adulthood in general--you really never CAN know what you are truly getting into until you are there and there is no one right way to do it despite what some folks may tell you.

So here goes!  Let the adventure begin!

Monday, March 2, 2015

A little slice of life

I'm starting the 2015 Slice of Life challenge today---a day later than I intended, but here I am.  If you'd like more information on this fun challenge, please check out the Two Writing Teachers blog post & join in!

My posts this month will have to do with this challenge---although most of them will probably still have to do with the library---that seems to be what is on my mind and filling my days the majority of the time.  ;)

It is still early morning--so early that I have not yet peeked into my oldest daughter's room to make sure she is awake and getting ready for school.  Still so early that the gentle hum of the laptop is the only noise I hear.  I have a sliver of time to think and ponder and just BE before my world wakes up around me.  It is delicious, this quiet time, and always leaves me wanting a bit more.

I'm wearing my new fitbit for the first time today to work.  I was so excited to get it late Friday night---so I've had my first weekend wearing it and I am hooked!  Seeing it all lit up after I've hit my 10,000 steps goal is thrilling.  It should be interesting to see what my work days look like as far as how many steps I take.

And now the troops awaken....my oldest, and my husband....so time to get moving and wake the little one.  Time to move forward into the day.  At least I have my fitbit to count the steps!