Monday, July 17, 2017

#IMWAYR



Still in my #Tayshaslist reading quest, I've managed to read a couple more this week.


The Dark Days Club, by Alison Goodman, is a fantasy set in the Regency era.  I happen to be a super-fan of this time in history, and love a good paranormal mystery.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and can't wait for the second book in the series to be available.


I'm still reading The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz. Currently, I'm about half-way through it and am enjoying it so far.  The main character is on the young end for a typical YA, but it has been interesting to take a look at the time period (the story is set in 1911) and I'm quite fascinated as this book was inspired by the diary of the author's grandmother.

On Audible, I've got book Hush Now, Don't You Cry by Rhys Bowen, the 11th book in the Molly Murphy mystery series.  Weirdly, I've found I can enjoy cleaning and decluttering to this book better than anything else I've tried.  Whatever works, I guess!


What are YOU reading?

Monday, July 10, 2017

It's Monday! What are YOU reading?


I'm finding that much of my reading is falling into two distinct categories this summer.  Tayshas list books and books on hygge.  There are a few other books I'm reading here and there, but I'll put all of them into miscellaneous--a bit of leadership, a bit of pedagogy, a bit of non-fiction on non-hygge topics and a mystery or two--but for the most part I'm on a Tayshas/hygge roll here.

I took Lara Avery's The Memory Book with me to Austin this past weekend.  I was attending Texas Library Association's Annual Assembly and my meetings were staggered at weird intervals which meant I would have some reading time in-between.


This book.  Oh, my heart.  I loved it, so.  Written as journal entries into a book to help retain her memories, Sammie shows us what it is to be human.  I finished this book right before my last meeting of the day on Saturday and went in weepy.  This book is gorgeous and hard and requires tissues. Loved this #tayshaslist book.

I also took Jeff Zentner's The Serpent King with me.

I've just started reading this one, but am totally intrigued by the characters thus far.  Another #tayshaslist book.  If you didn't get a chance to listen to the #KidsDeserveIt podcast or watch it with Todd Nesloney interviewing Jeff Zentner, it is worth going back to watch. Lawyer by day, writer by night?  Dude, I need some lessons.  I have been working on book ideas for ages and find it exceedingly difficult to wrangle the time between my library work and my mama work.


My newest book purchase.  After my final meeting of the weekend, I just had to swing by Book People.  I should probably mention that it is one of my most favorite places on earth.  I could easily spend hours there.  Anyhow, I went in looking specifically for this book--it was only available through my public library on ebook, and truly I hate reading on my phone.  Also, it just doesn't seem very hygge to read on a phone to me, not to mention that it was checked out already anyway.  I started it last night and am enjoying it.  It is a beautiful little book and I feel more surrounded and filled by hygge just by reading it.

Have I mentioned that my goal is to have the most Book People-ish high school library in the world? #goals #hygge

What are YOU reading?

Monday, July 3, 2017

It's Monday, what are YOU reading?



Summertime, and the livin's easy!  One of the very best things about summer is the free time to read. It is just delicious, isn't it!

One of my main goals is to read all the Tayshas books---yes, there are a ton of them, but yes, I'm going to keep at it 'till I get it done.

Oh, but I enjoyed this one!  What a delightfully snarky main character!  I just felt like I knew him and his friends, you know?  Brilliant.  A delightful coming-of-age story with fun, quirky characters.


This is a lovely book.  Genuinely beautiful.  Lyrical writing that dances with your senses.  The 4 teens each have a story which intertwines beautifully in the end.

And in other reading--


I came across the perfect memoir for someone like me who is fairly obsessed with the idea of hygge. I am so enjoying reading about such a different culture and the author is both humorous and interesting.

And lastly, I'm listening to the Audible version of a wonderful cozy mystery series I enjoy--Bless the Bride by Rhys Bowen, the 1oth book in the Molly Murphy Mystery series. This is a fun series to listen to while I clean and attempt to achieve the homey-hygge I mentioned above.


What are YOU reading?

Thursday, June 22, 2017

looking ahead


I'm thinking about my goals for the coming school year.  What do I want to accomplish this year? What are my top priorities for moving the library forward? I'm really still in the brainstorming process here, and will continue to take a look at the space itself, at the new state standards (currently still in draft version, but available as we continue to work on them), the Future-Ready Library information, and the TEKS for my grade levels as I make a list of To-Do's and work to prioritize them.

Future-Ready is divided into 8 sections that center around personalized student learning.
So, here, in no particular order, is my current list of things I would like to accomplish this year.  As the summer moves forward, I'll look at prioritizing and plotting & planning. 
  • Thorough weeding of the Reference  and non-fiction sections.  I need the space to be put to better use.  I've farmed out a ton of books already to the art department.  I've put some up for adoption.  I've moved the green books into a storage location for future book-tree building opportunities. I bought a cat-shaped book to show my fabulous shop teachers what I want to have done to some of them.  I've saved some to rip pages out of for blackout poems and other artsy stuff, but there is only so much storage space I'm willing to give up.  I really, really hate to dumpster them, but yeah, I'll probably have to with some of them as there are JUST.SO.MANY.  ugh. 
  • Building some community partnerships.  I've been working with our local public librarians (who are seriously amazing, by the way), and now I'm looking to branch out to create some new partnerships, as well.  
  • Create a stunning new website.  Mine is seriously lacking. 
  • I need to up my social media game.  Why?  Because I need to reach my stakeholders with the great news of our library, and I need to do this more than every-once-in-a-while.  Consistency creates a presence. 
  • Create new signage.  Mine is no longer correct since I've genrefied. 
  • Collaborate with more teachers, building on what we've already done.  I'll have many new teachers at my campus next year and want to start them off knowing we can partner up and that it isn't an "extra" thing for them---that it will be curricularly based and not a waste of precious class time. 
  • I want to increase my Maker area, which is currently all low-tech, and add the tech portion to it. 
  • I want the library to be utilized in better ways---honed in to student's needs better.  Not just open and available as a place, but really more of a concierge atmosphere in a way. 
  • Teach my teachers and students how to use our digital resources effectively--particularly our TexQuest resources.
  • Teach my teachers and students how to use our newly updated Destiny resources.
  • increase our digital holdings and market them better.
What are YOUR goals for the coming school year? 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Bittersweet


My friend is moving.
She's funny and kind and smart and we have the best time working together.
Yeah, she's my friend and she is also my lovely library assistant.
Which doesn't make the situation easier.

I'm really so happy for her and her husband to have the opportunity to live closer to their kids and grandbabies.  Truly.

I'm happy we'll stay in touch through the magic of social media--and because she is moving close to my old stompin' grounds so we visit on a semi-regular basis.

I'm so grateful that Paula has been with me all 3 years I've been at the high school.  She has rolled with the punches and handled all my crazy wild schemes with ease.  She has been up for dressing like pirates and superheroes. She has relived the 70's with me and celebrated Tiara Tuesday like a boss.  I came in and shifted just about everything at that library and never once was she not along for the ride. She made me feel welcomed and wanted in my new days and some of my best working memories are with her.

She is moving on to new adventures and I hope she has a ball attending grandbabies t-ball games and dance recitals.  She will sure be missed in my neck of the woods.

So now comes the part where I will be setting up interviews for a new assistant.  I'm grateful the powers that be are giving me the opportunity to have a say in it, but I'm nervous.  I need someone flippin' amazing, filled with a passion for working with high school kids, and having fun doing it. I'm starting the process today.  I can train someone to do the work, but I'm looking for someone with that certain je nais se quoi.  I need someone that just *clicks*, you know?

I'm wishing Paula luck in her new adventures.
I'm wishing myself luck in mine, as well.

Onward.

Monday, June 19, 2017

It's Monday...what are YOU reading?

This summer I hope to read many of the new 2017 Tayshas list books.  I can always count on the list being full of amazing reads, and I love to be able to do reader's advisory with the newest and greatest out there.

First, I added a shelf to my Goodreads account that lists all the books in a want-to-read status.  Now I get the pleasure of reading all those that I haven't already read!


Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum was a fun romance.  I enjoyed the cast of characters very much and the storyline has a nice meet-cute element.  This was a perfect choice for the first weekend of summer break---an easy, fun read that held my interest.


 I'm now reading The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry. You can see my makeshift bookmark there in the pic.  I'm about halfway done and would love to just sit down and ignore all my other responsibilities to get this one finished.  The kids & the hubs think they need to eat and have clean laundry, however, so I'm reading it a bit at a time.  This is a long one--and a deep subject matter--women Christian mystics during the time of the Inquisition.  I long for a day filled with thunderstorms and soup on the stove so I can delve into this world more fully.  I find that I am intrigued by all the voices in the novel, but especially those of the three sisters.  No spoilers, but this one is really good!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

#ta7tc

video

Yesterday was my last official work day of the school year and I spent it in the most awesome way possible. I traveled up the road to White Oak Middle School and spent the day learning from the best at the TCEA Area 7 Conference, put on by my good friend and librarian extraordinaire, the ever-fabulous Michelle Cooper.

Our keynote speaker was Shannon Miller.  Um, yeah.  SHANNON MILLER!  Y'all.  May I just say that I left the keynote so inspired, so determined, and so ready to really champion for my kids to use their voice and left the first session more excited than ever to be a Future-Ready Librarian. While I've followed her on Twitter, read her blog, and have been involved in the Future-Ready Libraries Facebook group, I had never had the opportunity to meet Shannon until yesterday.  What a delightful person!  I feel like I gained a friend. She is so sincere and knowledgeable and real.

The breakout sessions were great, too.  I went to one that was a Future-Ready conversation, led by Shannon Miller, Mary Kay Wisener, and my friend & mentor Sharon Gullett. One of the things I really loved about this session was the feeling of camaraderie in the room and the support given to folks who are brand-new incoming librarians.

My second breakout session was also led by Shannon Miller and was a celebration of some her favorite innovative things going on in libraries. I left with a list of apps to try and was texting library friends with lists of things they need to try!

I went to a breakout session led by Marsha Edney (also a good friend and such a hoot!) about using green screens.  So, I've always thought green screens are cool and all, but I got ideas yesterday on how to use them with classes that could be game-changers for our students.  Inspiring! I think I have a place in mind that would be perfect for this in the library.  Now to convince the powers that be.

Even my lunch break was enjoyable.  I was the lone librarian from my district to attend, so I didn't go with ready-made lunch partners.  However, I made a new librarian friend (she is both a new librarian and new friend) and we enjoyed getting to know one another during this time.  We've connected on Twitter and I can't wait to see how her year goes.

My last breakout session was led by Andy Adams from Region 7, who was an engaging speaker and again, I left with lists of apps to play with both for creating my own videos and for having students create videos to use in innovative ways.

Our closing speaker was Jamie Donnally who began #globalmakerday  which I will totally be participating in from now on.  SO COOL.  Seriously, anytime a learning day ends with play-do and Bloxels, and 3-D pens you know you've had a good day.  This is something to remember in our own days-of-learning with students. Did I mention I came home with the cutest, coolest sphero ever? YAY! for door prizes!

What a day, y'all.  What a fabulous, learning-filled, FUN-filled, glorious day to end my school year on just the perfect note.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The week with no kids


Okay, so maybe not no kids.
I've had a few drop by just because, a couple kids making up hours by working in the library, and a former student who wasn't sure school was actually out swing by, but you know, no kids.

It is always a bit weird when the kids are gone to still be working.
The kids are my WHY.
However, I am really getting a ton done this week, which is great because I'll feel much more settled about leaving for summer vacation with more items checked off my to-do list.


  • I've managed to nearly complete getting the last straggler books re-labeled and fixed in the system by genre (and I would have to, if it weren't for those pesky kids folks updating my system, thereby shutting it down for today--but it will be totally cool once it is done.) Let's hope I get to complete this task or I will be up there on my own with no air conditioning to finish it.  I refuse to carry this particular task into the new school year. 
  • With the help of my making-up-hours kids, all the new Chromebooks are in their charging station home.
  • I'm sorting and cleaning out my messy office. Y'all I can stand it for so long, but this cleanup was WAY overdue.  Getting so many carts of books and all those boxes of computers OUT OF MY OFFICE was super helpful in this endeavor. 
  • The Google Form for collecting the thoughts of my district librarians was sent out so I can get our PD settled for the upcoming year.
  • Our MAGIC calendar of events for next year is progressing nicely.  I've even enlisted the help of a kick-butt local public librarian to collaborate for a particular event.
  • I've just about finished double-checking all my last purchases--still awaiting the arrival of one, so will check on that.
  • I will meet with one of our new elementary librarians tomorrow. :)
  • I need to complete my EOY reports. 
So, pretty good progress, all things considered.  Onward!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Reflections on the finished year



ah, what a year.
We FINALLY got our genrefication project done.  Whew!
This marks the end of my 3rd year as a high school librarian.
I had the opportunity to work more with some teachers this year---but I'm not done with this just yet.
We have only just begun, in fact.
Still, our beginning was super fun.
3 of my teachers were truly willing to do at least one collaborative project with me.
3 more were sort-of willing.  Still working to win them over.  This girl is not a quitter!

The library is used all the time. ALL.THE.TIME. I have AMAZING supportive co-workers.
(we're losing over 40 teachers this year, so I'll be really starting over come fall)
My kids love to be in the library.
A typical morning has over 150 kids and so does a typical MegaLunch.
(next year our schedule completely changes so we'll shift from morning times to afternoon times, which will, unfortunately leave out bus-riders.)
Our teen book club "Unbroken Spine" got a name and actual readers that wanted to come to meetings. Woo-HOO!  We ended up with about 15 kids who were devoted to attending and discussing.  It was awesome.

MAGIC was fabulous---building it year by year with grand plans to expand for next year.
(we'll have two new Heads-of-House and I'll sorely miss the former ones, but truly love the newbies)

and I have some things to work on for sure---
I want the librarian to be utilized as much as the space itself (yeah, that's me).
I want to up my game on offerings during "extra time" such as MegaLunch.  Yes, it is great to be a place to hang out--I mean that, and many kids need that.  BUT....I would also love to offer some actual mini-classes, professional development for teachers, and silent reading parties.
I will need to finish shifting and rearranging the library and then teach everyone how to use it.  I'm planning some back-to-school events for teachers in the fall to really showcase what we can do for them.
I want my kids to be able to utilize Destiny more--and all of its cool features.
I want my digital resources to be better understood and utilized.
I want to be on-point with my social media game.

My kids know I love them.
We have awesome books and digital resources.
We have great tech support in the district now.
It's just time to move it up a notch or two.



Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Big Book Switch


Notice anything about these shelves?
Yep, that's right.  All these books are FINALLY fully genrefied.

Oh, my goodness, what a ride it has been.  It has taken MUCH longer than my first library to genrefy. Much longer---next week marks the end of my 3rd year, so really about 2.5 of those were tied up with this project.

But there was a method to my madness (and more than a few setbacks which were totally out of my control, but I digress.)

I started my genrefying process as a brand-new-to-high-school librarian.  This gave me the opportunity to lay hands on each and every book in my fiction section.  I was able to get to know my collection in a very real, tangible way.  I weeded as I went.  I noticed what circulates and what doesn't.  I can finally answer the questions that begin, "Hey, do we have ..." with some modicum of clarity.
Everything:

  • is labeled
  • has a new spine label reflecting genre (ex. Fic Mys Obr)
  • has been changed in the computer
  • has had series order numbered if it is in a series
  • has been moved to its genre location

Thank goodness for my senior student aides without whom moving roughly 13,000 books in a work week would have been impossible.

I settled on these main Genres: Realistic Fiction, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Adventure, and Classic. I didn't break them up further into sub-genre such as paranormal, etc. because I'm all about keeping it simple.  If you've further separated your collection and it works for you, that is GREAT. I know myself, though, and I do better with simple.

Already my kids have been able to shelve the returning books at a much faster pace and with more accuracy-- plus, if they aren't in the right place they stick out like a sore thumb and don't sit hidden for months or years with us unable to find it for a patron unless we just stumble across it with pure dumb luck.

I cannot tell you how pleased I am with the results and how very glad I am to finally have this massive task crossed off my to-do list.  Once I get the new signage up, I will really feel "done" with this task and can move on to my other priorities for my library.

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.