Sunday, April 23, 2017

TxLA17 recap


Y'all.  #TxLA17 was amazing!
The Texas Library Association annual conference is always great, but this year was really superb.

Here are some highlights from my week in gorgeous San Antonio:

  • Tech Camp. Amy Mayer of friEDTechnolgy's sessions alone were worth the ticket price.
  • Jennifer Niven & my BFF, Adam Silvera
  • Shrimp Paesano. Never underestimate bonding over good food with your library peeps.
  • Seeing so many of my TALL Texan 2016 family. #clearlysuperior
  • Cory Doctorow. 
  • Talking about my fabulous TALL mentor to a group (thank you for everything, Kate)
  • Mariachi in the morning
  • Dancing to the Spazmatics at the President's All-Conference party.  Walter Betts is the man. 
  • Sam Weller discussing Ray Bradbury
  • Tuan Nguyen & Katie Halata
  • Gene Yang.  Genius.  
  • YA reading lists by the indomitable Teri Lesesne, Donalyn Miller, & Karin Perry
  • Kid Lit vs. YA Lit Lip Sync Battle
  • Talking the new draft-version of our state library standards with Donna Kearley & Liz Phillipi
  • Meeting Nicola Yoon
  • Books! Books! Books!
  • Starting my tenure as YART Councilor
 


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Currently {#sol17}


Currently I'm...

Creating: a poetry-rich library environment with fun interactive displays to celebrate Poetry Month! I have a black-out poetry station, some book spine poetry made by my student assistants, and a "magnet" poetry that isn't actually magnetic.  What can I say?  I don't have much metal.  We used special reusable double-sided sticky tape on laminated cut-out words.  We have windows.  It works.

Reading: The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See on audiobook, Ray Bradbury's essays on writing in The Zen of Writing, and The Reader by Traci Chee.

Planning for: TLA ---the Texas Library Association conference.  It is simply the best conference ever. Over 8000 librarians of all stripes gathered together for learning and fun.  What could be better?  Oh yeah, it is in my favorite TLA city this year (they rotate)---San Antonio.  So, yeah.  The Alamo, great Tex-Mex, books and margaritas?  yes, please!

Pondering: how I can best meet the needs of my students, my teachers, my admin, my district librarians, and others; how I can grow as an encourager.

Wanting: to exercise.  I've managed to strain my calf muscles and it has set me back from moving as much as I like and as I should.  Ready to fully mend.

Celebrating: School Librarians Day (today!) and School Library Month (all of April)

Friday, March 31, 2017

reflection on a writing month {solsc day 31}

Today ends the 2017 Two Writing Teachers Slice of Life daily writing challenge.

Some days have been difficult to carve out time and headspace to write, but I made it through. I am grateful for this because it is far too easy for me to opt out if I have no accountability.
Even though I know the Muse is called by actually writing.
Even though I know writing soothes.
Even though I know writers write.
This lesson was super-solidified for me from this year.

I don't feel especially as though I've found my writing tribe, however.  I guess this lesson was also super-solidified for me this year, too.  As hard as it is for me to own up to, days of no comments, or maybe 1 comment are deflating.  Writers need readers.  We need community.  We need encouragement and atta-boys.  We need to know we aren't screaming into the void.
At least I need that.
I love this community, but I'm a visitor, an outlier, not family.

I'm getting cool with that.  I get so much from being on the welcome wagon (year 2!) and reading the slices of others. No sour grapes, at all.  I just recognize that I need to keep searching for my audience. I can't change my voice and remain authentic.  My writing improves by writing. My habit is created by doing it again and again and again.  Not everything is for everyone.  All of this is okay. It is life.

I'm so grateful for the opportunity to participate, to read so many wonderful writers, and to be a part of something so grand.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

flat wrung out {solsc day 30}

It has been a very long week.
Texas testing makes it so.
A shout-out to
   all the kids,
   all the teachers,
   all the teacher-librarians,
   all the counselors,
   all the admin,
   all the testing coordinators,
   all the support staff,
   all the parents,
who have made it through this week,
despite being utterly wrung out,
and who ALL deserve a beautiful stress-free weekend.





Wednesday, March 29, 2017

On Wednesdays, we read {solsc day 29}



Wednesdays are my favorite.
My friends in the self-contained classroom come down for story time.
No matter how hectic my day has been, no matter how many reports need to be completed--everything else in the world is set aside on Wednesdays at 2:30.
On Wednesdays, we read.
And my joy bucket is always full to overflowing after spending time with these kiddos.


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

DKG {solsc day 28}


Today, with all its testing craziness, was a difficult day. Folks were displaced and schedules were thrown off and bells weren't ringing and stress was high.

And I rushed, rushed, rushed through the day to meet the needs of my people--my students and my teachers and my personal children and their friends.

And then I rushed, rushed, rushed to make it back to school to lead a meeting for my Delta Kappa Gamma Chapter.  We held it in my library this evening.

Meeting with these women is sustaining.  We laugh and we talk shop (it is an organization for women in education) and we eat and we do good work for others.

Tonight our program had a chocolate theme.  What could be better than chocolate & laughter with friends to lift the spirits?

And I am now renewed and calm of spirit (maybe it was the cacao elixir we made?) and ready to rock tomorrow.

Onward!


Monday, March 27, 2017

testing week {solsc day 27}

I sit in the quiet stillness of the morning.
No one else is awake yet.
The hum of the air conditioning is soothing white noise.
And I think about my week ahead.

This is a testing week here in Texas.
This will make my library weird--it sets everyone on edge, and regular classes displaced by testing will be held in there.
This will make my home weird--I have an 8th grader.  She is in Algebra instead of 8th grade math, so she won't have to test today, but Wednesday brings the English-Language Arts test.
My girl is a good tester, but the added stress is still there.

My little one will have a weird schedule.  While she is too little yet to test (her last year before the crazy hits) it will cause weirdness in her day and no recess.  We must stay as quiet as possible for all the testers.

I'm no fan of high-stakes testing.
Accountability?  Of course.
It if is real and authentic and not biased.
It saddens me that high-stakes testing has become our normal.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

'Tis a gift to be simple? {solsc day 26}

I constantly find myself being of two minds.  There's the ever-striving, seek to do more, be more portion; my fully Orange, fully extrovert, fully YES side. And then there's my hobbitish, breathe-in/breathe-out, simply being is enough portion; my fully Blue, mostly introvert, Perhaps & Maybe, but Probably Not side.

Both of these describe me. I need both to be healthy and whole.  The older I get the more I fall into the hobbitish side. This is probably true for many folks.

A friend of mine posted an essay on Facebook recently.  It is called "What if All I Want is a Mediocre Life." It speaks to me.

While I don't love the word mediocre --who wants to be mediocre?--I do get the title and this particular word choice, but I would substitute the word simple or maybe quiet.

Is it harder to be okay with simple as an American?  Are we, the descendants of those who trekked across the globe in search of a new life, "The American Dream,"even allowed to now just want simple? I don't know. Having never lived anywhere else, I can't fully answer the questions I pose.

I know in many circles it is seen as a waste for a smart person who is capable of so much to end up doing so little.  Go Big or Go Home.  Be a WINNER!  Most Successful of her graduating class probably isn't talking about inner peace & feeling satisfied at the end of your day.

Even among educators the ones who stay at school until all hours are the ones who are seen as most dedicated.  Everyone should go to college.  Don't encourage your kids to become teachers---they'll never make a living. My kid is going to a top-tier school. Top of his class! National Honor Society! Honk if you love your Honor Student! I was there until 10 last night! #lifeofateacher

And there is part of me that totally gets it.

I'm a Slytherin, an Aries, a first-born child. I enjoy the spotlight.  I love it when people think I'm smart/talented/whatever. It makes me feel good to win awards or have a great reputation in town that I'm awesome at what I do. I love the stage.  I love applause.  I love the rush of making the deal/fixing the problem/being the hero.

But the other part is yearning for simple.

I love a rainy Sunday spent making soup and reading books.  A beautiful morning drinking coffee and writing.  A quiet evening at home grilling on the patio and taking in the stars.

I haven't written the bestseller, my name is not up in lights.  I wear no crown and have no illustrious title.  I don't have a six-figure income and my blog posts don't go viral.  I don't encourage folks to cash me outside how 'bout dat, so no TV appearances or viral music videos. Like the woman in the essay, my house isn't always tidy and I'm not a competitive mommy.

Most of the time I am okay with all the above.
I'm not even saying it is better to live a simple life, a quiet life.
I take no moral high ground on this.

I just think we (I?) need to wrap my head around the idea that one's life isn't better, isn't more important, isn't what one should or must aspire to by being famous or busy or high-profile---because while I believe this, I still carry with me the strive, strive, strive to do more/be more.

William Shakespeare and Jane Austen both lived amazing lives.  My neighbor across the street whose name none of you will ever read in a history book has, as well. He matters to those in his circle.  And who knows the positive ripple effects that one living a simple life can make?

I have a former student who is now a grown woman.  She is a total genius--so, so smart and an amazing artist, to boot.  She has a college degree.  She wants to be a wife and a mom.  She wants to be a homemaker.  To cook, to make art around the house, to read stories to her babies and take them to the park.  THIS is her dream.  Sometimes her friends, extended family and well-meaning former teachers make her feel that this dream is not okay.  That wanting to raise a family is not enough.  I mean, it would be fine if she wasn't so smart and so talented.  But she should want more for herself and she should give more to the world.  So, we don't want smart, talented moms?  Only smart, talented CEOs.

THIS is where I find the striving particularly problematic---because while I never said anything aloud, in the past I have been just as guilty of this thinking.

I have no answers to finding balance within myself.
I'm a work in progress, and actually really okay with that.

Here's to simple, quiet lives and here's to those more complicated.
May we all do the best we can do to be the change we wish to see in the world.
And may we all seek to work on ourselves rather than judging the choices of others.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Saturday morning farmers market {solsc day 25}


Kombucha
Collard greens
Baby goats for petting
Handmade birdhouses
Blueberry bushes
Essential oil blends
Fresh-brewed coffee
Breakfast burritos
Artisan cheeses
Focaccia bread
Acoustic guitar
Strawberry plants
Local honey
Independent winery
Friendly faces





Friday, March 24, 2017

Tyrus, Tallulah, & Tom {solsc day 24}

I've had a lot of pets in my life, but I've had three that were head & tails above the rest. These sweet beings added comfort, joy, and much laughter and I'll always be grateful.

Tyrus was my beloved pug.   I was in my early 20's and going through a very rough time as a young woman getting a divorce from my starter husband.  I was the girl who "did everything right" and couldn't believe my life had taken me on this path.  I was sad and angry and mortified.  One night I got a call from my brothers. They told me a friend of theirs had pug puppies and all had been sold but the last.  No one wanted him because he was not fawn with the black mask, but rather all black.  I took this baby in a heartbeat.

My Ty arrived as such a tiny little bundle.  He was the most loving hilarious little rascal! His gentle snoring was reassuring.  He was content to just snuggle up in my lap and be with me whether I was reading or watching late-night TV or crying.  He was loyal and precious.  He never met a stranger and I had to watch him on our walks as this guy couldn't resist any chewing gum or cigarette butts he found.  We did have that disastrous Nacho Cheese Doritos incident (who knew he could jump so high while I was at work?) and those pearl earrings were never the same once he swallowed them (um, yeah...they eventually...showed up) but those were small in comparison to the amount of love this little guy gave me. I miss him.

Tallulah was my darling tortoiseshell calico. I was teaching elementary school in McKinney, Texas.  A teacher friend was begged into taking in a pregnant mama cat by her little boy.  "What if you were expecting a baby and were homeless, Mama?" The kittens were born and she found homes for all of them.  All but one.  I will admit that Tallulah had to grow into her true beauty.  She was a little homely looking to tell you the truth.  In a litter of coal black and solid white kitties, she was the ugly duckling of the group.  She was lively and playful and smart as a whip.  She could sense when I had a headache or tummy ache and she would lay on that part of my body to comfort me.  As she grew up she became the most gorgeous cat you've ever seen.  She never once threatened to climb my Christmas tree, she just lay there with her peridot green eyes taking in all the sparkles. My husband bonded with Talu, too.  When our first daughter came along, they bonded, as well. She was a much-loved family member. I miss her.

Tom was my big lover-boy.  He was, clearly. a big Tom. He found us and decided he'd keep us. He wasn't an inside cat, and I knew of his straying ways when I fell for him.  He was the most spectacularly handsome fella.  A lover and a fighter.  If he wasn't done with me petting him, he ran to the back door, covered it with both enormous front paws and used one to bat my hand away from the handle. He was kind and gentle with both my girls---even allowing the little one to pick him up and carry him in a most uncomfortable position. He was nearly as big as she was. We were all captivated by his charm and heartbroken when he left us. My husband is an early-morning runner. He spotted the bobcat in the neighborhood. And then our Tom was gone. I like to think he lived so fully in his time on this earth that it makes up a little for the fact that it was cut short.  I miss him.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

wrong book before bed {solsc day 23}


Even when I'm just flat exhausted it is my habit to read at least 10-15 minutes right before bed.  It is comforting and settling and better for me than more screen time flipping mindlessly through Facebook.  I have to be careful about what I choose, though, or I'll be up far too late living life deep within another world.  I can't listen to music to put me to sleep, either---I find my mind creating entire movies since I'm supplying the background tunes. 

I usually figure that a writing craft book will be awesome in terms of its sheer ability to put you to sleep.  Boy, was I wrong last night!  I ordered Ray Bradbury's Zen and the Art of Writing a month or so ago, but hadn't had a chance to start it yet.  So, off the TBR (to be read) pile and into my hands it went. 

Two chapters in and I'm completely hooked.  The Muse has arrived and she's flitting around throwing ideas willy-nilly in my brain. It took me almost as long to settle down into sleep as the night before the first day of school. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

book club day {solsc day 22}


Each Wednesday my teen book club--named Unbroken Spine by the kids after reading Mr. Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore--meets during the first half of MegaLunch. It is always a highlight of my week, and I hope of theirs.

Today we met for our final discussion of Heartless by Marissa Meyer. We have so loved this book.  It was fantastical and gorgeous. Kind of like this cake that magically appeared in time for our group today.  One of my boys mentioned he wanted to make a topsy-turvy cake for the occasion, but I never dreamed it would be such a masterpiece.  For the record, his mama ended up making it and she is a friend and known for baking.  But still.  

One of my girls was so inspired by the book that she made art with her nails, each a miniature canvas. She texted a pic to me via our group Remind over spring break and it just made my day. They were perfection. 

We had a bit of a rough go in the beginning of the year with the book club. It can be hard to find your rhythm with a new group, and the bulk of my club last year were seniors. Each group has its own quirky personality and ways of being.  The group dynamics shift with each additional person added, and with each who leaves.  We've finally begun to really meld as a group now that the year is winding down, but this year I have only one senior, and so I'm hopeful that we can transition into next year with more ease. 

I love all that Future-Ready libraries are and do, but hold dear the power of the written word and the magic of talking about the book with others after you read it.  I want them to experience books without having to annotate, or write an essay, or take a test.  I want them to read for pleasure.  That is a gift that lasts a lifetime.  I want my kids ready for that future, too. 
 . 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Day 21 {solsc day 21}


Sometimes the most heroic thing we can do is to show up day after day.  In trying to create a solid daily writing habit I committed to this challenge. Write daily through all of March.

I believe in grace & mercy & life sometimes happens in such a way that makes this incredibly difficult--and I won't beat myself or anyone else up for having a different goal.

My goal, however, is to write daily through all of March.  I need this.  It is far too easy to slip into--I'll write tomorrow for me, and we all know how that ends.

So, on this busy day, with so many things I want to say but time pressing in, I'll leave it at this...
Day 21 may not be a beautiful, lyrical, perfectly word-smithed post.
But... Day 21 is done.
Completed.
I'm still moving forward.

Onward.

Monday, March 20, 2017

my life by the numbers {solsc day 20}

Inspired by this post over the weekend, I decided to make my own life by the numbers post.  Like my inspiration, this will be a rebel version in which I'll use any numbers I darn well please.  It's been that kind of day, folks.  ;)

2- the number of siblings that share my birthday.  Yes, I'm serious.  My mother is a SUPER Type-A.  (well, she is, but in truth, I was 2 weeks late and they were about 6 weeks early.) My fifth birthday party will always be my most memorable.  I mean, it is really difficult to top twin brothers crashing your party with their birth.

3- my favorite number.  It's the magic number. 3 just feels right for just about everything. I mean, 5, 7, and 11 are also good---but 3?  Three is fabulous.

17 -the number of homes I've lived in over the years.

18- the number of years I've been married to my husband.  Like most couples we have lived through some serious stuff together and have have made it through.  He still makes me laugh each and every day.  Sometimes it is at him and sometimes it is with him, but he does keep me laughing.  That is a quality that is hard to find and one I treasure.

26- the number of years as an educator.  I started off as a kinder teacher--and through life's twists and turns I've now taught every elementary level, plus been an elementary, middle school, and now high school librarian. I loved my time in the regular classroom, but y'all I am living my dream job. Had you told me this even 10 years ago I would have laughed in your face and called you a liar, but here we are.  I fully intend to do this until retirement, good Lord willing and the creek don't rise.

47 -the number of years spent on this earth come April 10th. I'm cool with 47.  It doesn't bother me one bit for people to know my age--I've earned every crow's foot and every laugh line, baby.  This is one year closer to me being on the Today show telling folks my secrets to long life, which is a quirky future goal of mine.  Bet you know how old my brothers are now, too, don'tcha?

180 -the number of degrees between my political views and those of the majority of my friends and family.  It has made for an interesting year. I strive to remain salt & light.  I'm not always successful in this endeavor, but I will say that I seek to understand those with views different from my own rather than to write them off.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

things that make me happy {solsc day 19}


Inspired by this awesome post yesterday I thought I'd make my own list of things that make me happy on this last day of spring break.  Clearly, these will be just a few of my favorite things.

Without listing family members or time with them (because A. we've had a LOT of togetherness this week and we need some spaces in our togetherness right now, and B. because of course, FAMILY, right? ) here they are, in no particular order:

  1. Pugs
  2. Drinking my morning coffee in peaceful solitude
  3. Reading a good book in my cozy chair on a rainy day
  4. Blue Hydrangea
  5. Chips & salsa
  6. Guacamole
  7. Queso (see a pattern here?)
  8. I especially enjoy those last 3 while out with girlfriends catching up every blue moon 
  9. Twinkle lights
  10. Fairy gardens
  11. small town festivals (my town's Blueberry Festival is a fave)
  12. fat kitties that have a muscle-car engine purr
  13. Hot tea with honey 
  14. iced sweet tea with lime (best if it's the good ice)
  15. Irish butter (it is just better)
  16. air conditioning (it gets over 100 here just about every day in the summer & it's sticky humid)
  17. bacon
  18. Cottages with arched doors
  19. porches with haint blue ceilings
  20. fresh strawberries
  21. Napping on freshly washed sheets
  22. Orange chocolates
  23. porch swings
  24. fireflies
  25. getting snail mail
Wow!  I feel better already just thinking about all these lovely things.  How about you?  What are some of your favorites? 


Saturday, March 18, 2017

Checking in on my OLW {solsc day 18}


I chose cultivate for my word this year, or maybe it chose me.  This word is my guide and my compass for the year.  There is much I long to cultivate--calm morning practices, intentional time with friends, writing time each and every day, and even actual plants.

Does this cultivate what I need and desire in my life?
If the answer is yes, then whatever it is has a chance of going on my YES list.  Not all things make the YES list---one of the biggest and most important life lessons that I still am trying to fully implement is that there will be awesome worthy things that you still need to say NO to doing.

So, for the check-in.  I am doing a better job on my reflective practices and in my daily writing (thanks, Two Writing Teachers!).  I've spent some time over spring break making time to come out of my hobbit hole and have lunch with friends--and am trying to schedule a get-together at least every other week with one friend or another.  I've got some ideas to put into play that I haven't moved on yet.  And then there's the garden situation.

Y'all I really long for a garden.  Growing up, we always shared a big garden space on our property with my grandparents.  About an acre was planted with tomatoes and beans and corn and squash and watermelons and okra and onions.  Just about every delicious veggie you can think of, we planted and harvested every year.  I love freshness on the dinner table.  Despite that, I'm dragging my feet and not getting this done.  I have a lack of tools, which makes for an easy excuse, because clearly, I could rent a tiller, etc.  I'm not sure why I'm meeting with so much resistance in myself with this, but it deserves some exploration. I know that starting is the hardest part.

Friday, March 17, 2017

adding calm to my day {solsc day 17}

It is the last workday of my spring break. It has been a good one--a much-needed respite from the hurry-scurry of the school year. I look forward to seeing all my kids again next week and I look forward to finishing up my genrefying process that has taken 2 million years to complete.

I have a list of things I need to do/complete before we go back--tasks I don't want to carry into next week when my free time becomes fairly non-existent. They won't be too painful and then that weight of tasks not-yet-done will be lifted before my final weekend of break begins.

I've had lunch with friends and time with both daughters and last night a date night with the hubs. I've had loads of thinking time, of decluttering time, of writing and reading and pondering time.  It has been lovely.

One of the main things I've been pondering is how to add more calm & joy to my mornings--and really, I guess, to my days in general.  A good hot soak is my go-to in the evenings, but those mornings have remained a mystery.  My day already begins very early--and I'm a night owl by nature. It is already everything I've got in my to be up, have both girls ready, drop the oldest off at her school and be to mine by 7:15.  I know myself.  I'm not waking up at 4.  I'm a night owl who needs plenty of sleep!

I've decided to try a few of things this week to see if they make a difference. First, we've all slacked around here in having our clothes picked out/ironed, etc. the night before.  I've slacked in making menus for the week that include easy yet healthy breakfast choices.  Back to those good habits this week.  I've also decided to add "elevenses" to my day.

I think adding in this intentional quiet 10 minutes for a cup of hot tea and a healthy snack (oh, for scones and pretty little sandwiches--but my waistline can't handle that every day, so more likely to be a Kind bar or some yogurt most days).  Every day we host over 100 kids in the library for our hour-long Mega-Lunch.  That begins at 11:20.  Taking this 10 minutes before that every day to breathe before the crowds come in might be helpful.  I'm hoping it will give me a boost of energy that makes this time better for everyone.  At the very least I won't be starving as I work the crowds, right?  I normally don't get to go to lunch until 12:45 or so----and hangry isn't ever nice, is it?

I'm still in the process of cleaning out my closet and dresser drawers of all the clothes I don't need. The ones that make me feel awkward or ugly or icky in some way. I'm looking at new ways to combine the items I am keeping.  I will never be a fashion maven--that's not my thing anyway, but my goal is to feel so good and comfortable that I'm not sidetracked all day by gaping, pinching, looks-like-my-mom-but-not-me, was-on-sale-so-I-bought-it, paid-too-much-for-it-so-I-must-keep-it clothing. I just want to feel like me--not me in a costume (unless I'm purposefully wearing a costume, which I occasionally do!)

May your St. Patrick's Day be a great one!






Thursday, March 16, 2017

love bombs via snail mail {solsc day 16}


Y'all.
I received a second envelope in the mail today with a beautiful and mysterious photo inside.  I got the other one around Valentine's.  What fun! I kept meaning to figure out where the first one came from right after I got it, but you know--life.

However, getting the second one while one spring break has its bonuses.  Chiefly, I had time right then and there to stop what I was doing and figure out this little mystery.

Turns out I got the best secret Santa sister in the whole wide world.  I mean, I knew that when we did our actual secret sister gift exchange, but it was really a one-time thing we were signing up to do.  I never even thought about carrying it on longer, but WOW!

She definitely has a gift for knowing how to make people feel special.  This totally speaks to my love language, and my love for snail mail. I had a pen pal back in my elementary school days (well, we kept writing for years and still send the occasional card, but do most of our communicating via Facebook these days).  I can remember well the rush of excitement when I saw the British stamps on an airmail envelope with my name on it  I feel the same when I get an Uppercase box--loads of giddy anticipation.

I've been collecting pins on Pinterest for a bit about snail mail, but hadn't really done anything with it yet.  The universe has just whispered about one way I can begin.  It doesn't' have to be something huge to add gorgeousness to the world and be meaningful.  It just needs to whisper--hey you there---you matter.  I thought of you today.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

the halfway mark {solsc day 15}


We're halfway through the month,
Which means we are halfway through this challenge.
Today also marks the halfway point of my week,
Which means we are halfway through spring break.
I'm halfway through my day,
Although I have much left to accomplish.

I'm feeling a mix of emotions about this, folks.
Probably about 50/50 happy versus sad.
;)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

hometown adventure {solsc day 14}


I'm hosting a Flat Stanley right now.  I'm lucky enough to get to host one just about every year. When I was a classroom teacher this was a favorite reading/writing connection activity of mine and the last year I did it--teaching 5th grade U.S. history---the kids each chose a state to send their Flat Stanleys adventuring. One had to be the governor's office and the other some business that was special to that state (ex. Cafe du Monde in New Orleans for our Louisiana Flat fella) so we could learn more about each state.  It wasn't just a favorite lesson of mine, it was something all the kids loved.  We read the book, they wrote letters and created their Flat selves, and then we eagerly awaited getting mail.  What is not to love about that, right?

Flat Jameir is hanging out with us right now.  We have been having loads of mini adventures.  Of course when a Flat from out of state visits we must take them to enjoy Tex-Mex and BBQ, and What-a-Burger, quintessential Texas foods.  He'll see our brick streets of downtown and experience some of our 300-year-old history here.  We'll visit the statue of the father of Texas on the campus of SFA State University (Axe 'Em!) and the azalea gardens and of course, we'll see the state flower, bluebonnets. The best part about hosting Flats is rediscovering how awesome your hometown is every time.  You see your town through fresh eyes, really thinking about its unique aspects and its history.  Hosting Flats never fails to make me appreciate my little town anew.

  
                        

Monday, March 13, 2017

NYC, what is it about you? {solsc day 13}

Daughter the eldest is on her first trip to New York.  She is an 8th grader and the trip is with her Model United Nations group.  The teacher is retiring after many, many years and wanted to go out with a bang.

Most of the time my girl was growing up I was a middle school librarian, and I was a chaperone for our school's theater class trip to New York for several years.  I loved those trips, and I adore the city. Memories were made for us as chaperones, and for our kiddos, many of whom had never left our little corner of the world to venture as far as Dallas or Houston before this trip.

The final trip I made as chaperone a freak snowstorm hit on our last day in the city.  We were as stuck there as the planes were to the tarmac. We had worn short sleeves during our first couple of days, but switched to coats and gloves that morning as we explored.  I remember being on the wooden elevator in Macy's as the snowflakes began to come down in earnest.

The extra four days (FOUR DAYS, PEOPLE--WITH MIDDLE SCHOOL CHILDREN) were interesting. We were stuck in a La Quinta in Secaucus, New Jersey.  Knowing we were leaving that afternoon, all the kids had blown the last of their money.  Truth be told, most of the adults had, too. We couldn't go back into the city because our tour was officially over and they had other fish to fry. Thank goodness for washers and dryers in the hotel, and for the hotel van that took us to Walmart to load up on bread and peanut butter with our pooled resources.

The first day the snow was awesome.  Most of us had never seen any real accumulation--we just don't get that in Deep East Texas.  By the third day even the most die-hard snow lovers was over it.  It was gray from the traffic, and the novelty was gone.  We caught a dollar movie (Bridge to Terabithia) at a strip mall we could walk to, and we had one splurge lunch at an Olive Garden because they had all-you-can-eat soup, salad and bread sticks.  We had to hold "school" at night so that we didn't incur absences.

Memories were made, y'all.  Bonds were forever made, too. That is a trip I'll never forget. I still have a Cheez-It box in my office signed by every kid on that trip. Ah, the stories I have--but most are of the you had to be there variety.

When I got the call last night that my daughter's trip back home would be delayed I probably wasn't as surprised as some other parents.  I knew the blizzard was blowing in, and I've experienced what that means for flights in and out of there.  I'm not worried.  I'm not upset.  I find it fairly amusing, actually, and I'm excited she is having even more of an adventure than we first bargained on. I hope she makes some awesome memories with her friends and chaperones, and maybe even comes home with a signed Cheez-It box.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

hobbitish {solsc day 12}


It is spring break, and I'm feeling rather hobbitish.
I'm not rushing off to parts unknown for adventure.  I'm staying at home, and I couldn't be more thrilled.

I'm tired.  This year has been exhausting, to tell you the truth.  Wonderful in many ways, but exhausting. I have become intentional in creating white space in my day, but it isn't always super successful.

This break I just want to sleep, and take walks, and read, and write, and watch movies, and think and be.  Basically, I want to do whatever I want to do whenever I want to do it.  This is a rare treat and it is utter bliss!

This weekend has been delicious.  I've slept with no alarm clocks set.  I've meandered around with my little one in our beautiful sleepy downtown (we live in a college town, and it is their spring break, too, so we are extra quiet this week).  We ate cupcakes at the new bakery and took our Flat Stanley visitor around to some local landmarks.

I've been reading The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas and The Innovator's Mindset by George Couros. I've had dinner on a back patio with a dear friend and I've watched Moana.  I've napped and taken hot baths and contemplated life.  And I've taken the time to work on making daily writing a habit.

Here's to spring breaks that come exactly when you need them! And here's to being happy to be hobbitish!



Saturday, March 11, 2017

on adornment {solsc day 11}


I read a really thought-provoking blog post this week.  I was alerted to it by a friend who belongs to a particular Facebook group I'm in and knew immediately this was something I wanted to read--and then found that it included a video I needed to watch.

It is all about expressing your authentic self through adornment---clothes, jewelry, makeup, body art, whatever.  It is NOT about fitting in with society's standards of such things, but rather about listening to what makes your heart sing and going for it.  Living out loud and expressing outwardly who you are authentically.  It isn't about vanity or what is "in".

It is also about creating rituals around beauty and letting that feed your soul rather than drain it.  I pretty much have this down as an evening routine (a hot bath with Dr. Teal's Eucalyptus Spearmint, candle going, space heater if necessary, with my Posh charcoal face soap, a yummy green tea soap for the bod, and something wonderful to listen to while I soak) but my weekday mornings are more chaos than calming.

This is one of my life's roller coaster topics, so I'm always drawn to it. Despite my dalliances with adornment throughout my life, I have found myself captivated by what I heard today and so my thoughts keep circling back.

My goal for this weekend is to make a new list of what I like, what I'm drawn to, what calls to me in terms of really feeling good in my own skin and then to translate that into developing a morning routine that is both calming and energizing for my day instead of my current banshee-making system.

I'll also be cleaning out my closet, drawers, and bathroom vanity area of anything that no longer serves to put a positive vibe in my day, a swagger in my step, and a song in my heart.

Here's to authentic adornment.  Let's see where this takes us.


Friday, March 10, 2017

a sliver of a slice {solsc day 10}

It is Friday.
It is payday.
It was a half-day.
It marks the beginning of spring break.
I got my hair done.

Life is good.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

training day {solsc day 9}

Today, five of the librarians in my district drove a bit over an hour to our regional service center to attend a training on some databases available to us.  We took two vehicles because some of us had to leave a bit early--I had to be back in time to get my kiddos after school, and another one of us had a meeting after school.  My ride took lead in our short little wagon train and off we went.

We have all been to our service center multiple times.  MULTIPLE TIMES.  This is important information to have and explains why we didn't have a GPS thing going from moment one.

Things were going swimmingly for the first hour.  We were talking and catching up with one another. I guess we got a bit carried away because she flat missed our turn.  We both knew it immediately, and this set us to laughing. I quickly pulled out my phone and started to take my job as navigator somewhat seriously.  Still, despite my Waze app lady doing her level best to guide us, we were still jawing more than we were paying attention to her words. We missed another turn.  The car behind us, holding the other three librarians is still trying to believe in us. They are following us despite our ridiculousness. And then we missed another turn.

By this point, we are howling in the car. Tears were welling up and I was pretty sure I might wet my britches from laughing so dang hard.

After about the fifth squirrely move we made the other ladies finally decided to forget following our crazy selves. This set us to near hysteria, y'all.  We quickly turned a corner and we still beat them into the parking lot. Winning!

The training was excellent, but the drive there was just what the doctor ordered.  My sides still ache from the laughing workout I got.  So thankful for friends, fun, and for hysterical laughter.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

is this thing on? {solsc day 8}


Most of the time I don't even have an expectation that anyone out there in the world is reading my posts.  I get it.  I'm not a rock star name, I'm not super great at posting really often so I haven't built a following of readers. My blog is mostly library related, but I do post all my slice of life writing here, too, so I don't have a well-defined or specific genre that this blog covers.  I'm not writing about Paleo recipes or stay-at-home-mommy stuff or how to create circus animals out of straws.

Normally, it doesn't bother me when I see zero comments. I mean I LOVE it when I get comments, but on a daily basis I have no expectation that I'll get them.  I write for myself--to help sort out my thoughts and feelings for the most part.  I hope it resonates with others and that they are helped or inspired in some small way, but basically it is a more of a reflective practice for myself.

As much as it bothers me to admit it, though, seeing zero comments during a writing challenge---where folks are commenting on at least 3 blogs per day--- is hard.  I have a pretty strong self-esteem, but it carries the same sting as being chosen last for the dodgeball team, or not having a place to sit at the lunch table. Suddenly I'm 12 years old again and they purposefully "forgot" to tell me to wear pink.

I'm not good enough.
What made me thing I had anything worth saying anyhow?
I must be a terrible writer.
I've been totally fooling myself thinking anyone would want to spend their time reading my words. 
What an idiot. 
Everyone else has like 10 comments.  

Every year during this writing challenge it gets to me.  Every year I am reminded by these feelings to go out and comment on even more participants blogs because I don't want anyone else feeling like this.  Every year I make a blog post about it as a reminder to myself and to others.

I'm posting this in part because I'm working on being okay with being vulnerable.  I'm generally in warrior mode all the time, to be honest. I'll get it all done, with a smile on my face, and you'll never know I'm struggling. I don't love sympathy, I hate to be seen as any sort of "victim" or pitiful sad-sack.  Yet, here we are.

So, here is my real for the night, y'all--and now I'm off to read and comment on several more slicers tonight.  I hope you'll consider doing the same.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

grandma's birthday {solsc day 7}


My great grandmother was the world's most kind and joyful soul.  Despite the difficulties she encountered throughout her life she always kept her quiet strength and her positive outlook. This precious woman, born poor in a small Alabama town on March 7, 1898, lived through care-taking for her siblings for all the years her mama was sick--all while she was a mere slip of a thing herself, two world wars, the Great Depression, marrying young to a man who was by no means easy on a good day, and having 9 children.  She seemed ancient by the time I came into this world and I always loved being around her.  This woman made the best sweet tea!  And her fried bologna sandwiches were just the thing to cure your hunger. She could out-garden any master gardener. She baked delicious cakes and had a smile for everyone around her. She was adored by all her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She passed away in 1989, but I carry her with me.  On days I'm feeling especially weary I remind myself that I descend from hard-working wise women like Nettie Ethel Mae McCrary Watwood and I stand a bit taller.


Today also marks the birth of Nettie's daughter-in-law, my grandmother Neva Almeda Shaw Watwood.  We called her Mamaw.  This is a photo of Neva with her siblings (yes, I come from large families) She is the one in the center of the photo.  Of course she is!  My grandmother was a strong woman, full of sass.  Born in rural Oklahoma in 1919, she also lived through the Great Depression and World War II.  She married my grandfather at 19 and theirs was a true love match that survived losing both their sons before losing each other.  She was a tiny thing---stood just about 5 feet tall, but she was a little stick of dynamite.  One did not argue with Neva Watwood.  I remember her telling me often to "remember that the man is the head of the house, but the woman is the neck.---and the neck moves the head, honey.  The neck moves the head." We spent a lot of time together, she and I. Looking back, I miss those days of shelling peas on the back porch and going out to pick peaches at the nearby orchard. She taught me how to crochet and she taught me how to take no crap using only the stink-eye and Sunday-appropriate words. She could make the best Sunday dinner you ever ate in your life, and oh my word, her chocolate pies were a slice of heaven on earth. On days I'm feeling overwhelmed I remind myself I come from strong and sassy women like my Mamaw and that nothing & no one can get me down for long.

So Happy Birthday, grandmothers.  You are loved and missed, and your memories are treasured.


Monday, March 6, 2017

rainy days & mondays {solsc day 6}


I can hear Karen Carpenter's lush soothing voice singing the lyrics.  I woke up with them in my head this morning. Rainy Mondays always do that to me.

But they don't get me down.  I really, really love them.

A rainy Monday just seems like the perfect way to enter the work week. It seems gentler, somehow; I guess.  I get the coffee going--the smell wafts delightfully through the library. I turn on the twinkle lights on the St. Paddy's day tree.  Kids are curled up on couches, chairs, and bean bags.

Books and rainy days just seem to go together. There's a coziness in the library on a day like today that is special. A certain rare hush that falls; a protective magical spell that the rain weaves over all of us.

Ah, rainy Mondays are simply lovely.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

me: some ugly stuff {solsc day 5}


{part 3 in my 3-part the good, the bad, the ugly series}

I am not a neat freak.
I do not suffer from nor enjoy OCD in any way that makes my spaces particularly tidy.
I like vintage salt-n-pepper shakers and other whimsical tchotchkes.
I love to unwind by watching bad TV.

I drink coffee with creamer, Coca-Cola, and can absolutely enjoy wine from a box should the occasion call for such as that. 

My school kids often say---
oh, you love every book and everybody,
        name someone you actually don't like---
IF I were to go through my entire list from childhood on,
Brother, you'd be graduated and gone before I could list 'em all. 

I'm pushing 50 and I still don't always take all my makeup off before bed, 
or have an actual skincare regimen.
I don't spend enough time working out or working on my novel. 
I love to spend my first waking hour on the weekends silently drinking my coffee and catching up on my social media.

I am judgy of folks who attach metal cow testicles to the back up their pickup trucks
Or spend money to have something like "Vanilla Puddin" written on their back window.
Bless their hearts.
Unless I taught them. 
Then I love them anyway. 
I judge them extra if they're my cousins. 

I'm not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm solidly and unabashedly me. 

Saturday, March 4, 2017

me---some bad stuff {solsc day 4}


{part 2 in a 3 part the good, the bad, the ugly series}

Inside me, there is a volcano.
From the outside, you can't tell.
But that little girl they called Mt. St. Sonja because she would erupt?  
Yeah, she's still in there. 
    Not gone.
    Not forgotten.
    Just dormant. 
Thank you meditation, prayer, creeping-of-the-crone, for this gift you have given those around me.
   
My work day is filled with bursting energy.
I am THERE, baby.  I am PRESENT.  I am INTENTIONAL.
Sometimes so much that at night I find myself needing to be in a bubble of solitude,
Even from those whom I love best of all.

Patience is not my virtue.
Not with myself,
Not with other adults.
With kids?  Yeah, okay.
Grown folks? Not so much.
I'm not {often}snappish on the outside,
But on the inside, I feel the old rumbles of the earth as the lava begins to shift.

I often love the idea of doing things.
Until it is time to do them.
Life going to a social gathering on a Friday evening after work.
Or driving out of town to attend a party---especially if it is raining.
Dude, I'm tired.
Weary beyond belief.

Perfection hasn't been part of my journey on this earth, but my growth continues. 

Friday, March 3, 2017

me --some good stuff {solsc day 3}


I'm a Slytherin--Head of House in my high school's Harry Potter club, as a matter of fact.
I am hard-working, full-of-energy (at least while at work!) and always ready to lend a helping hand.

Despite all the obstacles life has thrown my way, I
-get things done.
-make life work.
- take pride in a job well done and always seek to do more, learn more, grow myself

I'm a giver and a doer.
I am a reader and a thinker.
I'm a talker and a listener.
I am a leader with a servant's heart.
I love the spotlight, and I love helping others achieve their moment in the sun.

I work at being salt & light even on those days when I'm feeling throat-punchy.
I love the lines that show I've spent my years laughing often.
I believe in win-win.
I am loyal and steadfast and true.
I am an extrovert with hobbit-ish tendencies at night and in the winter months.

I am a warrior, but I'm not made of stone.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Mornings in the library {solsc day 2}

I belong to several librarian list-serves.  These are great for staying in the loop, getting quick answers to posed questions, and learning new and different ways of accomplishing work-related tasks.  Once a year one of them even has a Thanksgiving recipe exchange, which is fun and a great way to build community.

Yesterday someone posted a question about whether or not it is a good idea to open your library before school.  I was surprised at the back-and-forth on this question to tell you the truth.  For me, this answer is an absolute YES, and it was interesting to see different perspectives.

Mornings in the library have actually been on my mind quite a lot lately.  We've recently learned that our start time will change next school year---we are flipping with the middle school start time so that my high school kids will have their first period begin at 7:30 am.

I don't mind the early mornings, and despite the brain research on teenagers (which is why the high school flipped times with the middle schools about 10 years ago), we haven't seen a surge in learning based upon school starting an hour later.  I know many of our kids need to work and an earlier start time means an earlier end time which helps them out.  I get all of these things, I really do.  But...

Mornings in my library are special and I'm going to miss them. We've built a little (well, big, actually) morning library family.  So many kids want in the library each morning that I have a literal bouncer (he's a senior now, so I guess he'll go down in history as our only bouncer) and once we have a pretty full house you must have a special morning pass to enter.  I'm talking about 200 kids each morning, y'all.

I arrive about 7:15 every morning.  I'm met by a group of between 10-15 students every morning.

We have two groups of intense chess players.  Sometimes one hides the others favorite pieces and the search is on to find them.  Sometimes I hear a loudish anguished cry from the back of the room--and when I hustle back to investigate I learn a queen has been taken in the heat of the game and "Miss, this game is intense---I couldn't help letting out that scream." We had a kid donate a beautiful glass chess set to the library this week so more kids can play.  This makes our third set and we could probably use more.

We have two guys who often bring their acoustic guitars.  They sit in the back playing beautiful music. Sometimes classical, sometimes classic rock.  They draw a crowd that ebbs and flows around them.  It is magical.

We have some gamers, some card players, some calculus student groups, a large group of band kids, some swimmers, some quiet readers, some not-so-quiet checkers players.  We have a few trying to get the last few winks in before 1st period on our bean bag chairs or couches, some doing each other's makeup, and some kids finishing up projects using our printer & student supplies.  We have some who color their stress away each morning, and some who just hang out.

I wander this library landscape, but I'm not lost.  I say Good Morning and How's your mama doing?and I'm so proud of you and Will you cut that out? They say Hey, Mrs. Schulz, how's it going? and Anything I can help you with? and AH! He stole my queen! and Thanks for making this our place.

What we have friends, is a morning library family

This is what I'll miss with our new start time.
And yes, we'll be open after school---but band and sports and club activities will likely fill in those after-school hours as they do right now.

And we'll grow into the change-- as we must.
I'll remember these lovely mornings and that which once was.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Spring has Sprung (SOLSC Day 1)


Spring is here.

Maybe not calendar-official, but nature tells the true tale. The azaleas are in bloom and they are glorious.  Because I live in the go-from-heat-to-air-conditioner-in-the-same-day south, my curls are also in bloom.  Sometimes they too, are glorious, and sometimes, like yesterday, I had to quick call the school secretary.  "Help! I need some A/C before my hair keeps growing and I can no longer fit through doorways." That air was on PDQ---they've seen my hair.

Yesterday was also the first day my car was covered with the yellow-green dusting of pollen.  Ah, the annual attack-of-the-pollen is here!  I don't try to fight it, y'all.  It is a no-win battle.  I just pop the Zyrtec, run the windshield wipers and go on my merry way.

And of course, the local drunk is up singing all.night.long. to usher in his favorite season. Okay, so he's a mockingbird that nests in the holly bush (well, it's more like a tree at present) right outside my bedroom window, because of course, right?  I've named him The Local Drunk. When I tell you The Local Drunk is singing all night, I mean this literally.  The bird has skills.  He can imitate everything. This gives him a ton of material to keep him going, loud and proud, all dang night.  These are skills which go largely unappreciated due to his terrible timing.  All I can say is he is a lucky nugget to be protected by law.  I try to send mind waves to the cats, but clearly, they are receiving them and yet ignoring me.  No surprise there, I suppose.

Yes, spring has sprung in East Texas.  Now it's time for me to go pomade my hair while being serenaded by the hum of my A/C and the songs of The Local Drunk since it is still dark outside while I get ready for my day.