Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Activity Level

Below is a photo of Harper, with the musical theater teacher, at a dance convention she attended a couple of weeks ago. It was the first time she's had much exposure to the musical theater style and she completely fell in love. There is a teacher at Harper's dance studio who has choreographed musical theater solos for other students and Harper's hoping she might get a turn to do one someday. 

Dance is the major activity that Harper is committed to right now. However, she is still interested in trying other things and Matt and I also want her to experience different sports/lessons before she decides to give all her time to one thing. She has enjoyed soccer, tennis, and guitar in the past. Beginning next week she's going to try a tumbling class at the Y. Harper's also gone to a couple of volleyball clinics - she may have the opportunity to play on the 4th grade team at our church this winter. 

But she's not sure she wants to play volleyball. I am fairly certain the reason she doesn't want to play is that she's afraid to make a fool of herself. While it takes a great deal of skill to achieve a certain level of play in a sport like soccer, almost anyone can run around on the field. Michael went weeks at a time without touching the ball when he played! Volleyball is a little different, the mechanics don't come naturally to most children. You have a lot to learn as you begin to play. 

Harper says she doesn't want to play but Matt and I would really like her to try. Since my brother, sister, and I all played in high school we are trying to convince her it is her family legacy. We're leaving it a little to chance - if the practices fall on Mondays and Wednesdays, then playing volleyball won't be an option because those are dance days. If practice is on Tuesday and Thursday I think we're going to go head and sign her up and see how it goes. 

I don't want to drive the children crazy, rushing them from one activity to another. I do want them to have lots of experiences and give them chances to figure out how they want to spend their time. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

This Girl

And today this wonder of a child is ten years old. It happened in a blink.

(Photos by Danielle - Chocolate Pudding Moments)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Cheater Pants

Yup - I'm totally going to back-date entries so that one lands on each day, even though I've now missed several for this year's NaBloPoMo... That seems less awkward than posting many posts on the same day, or over several days, as I work on catching up.

This one is just a place holder, in the interest of full disclosure.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Winner Winner

Our big birthday celebrating will happen next weekend when family will come into town and we'll have a party for Harper.

Today was spent running a few errands and then enjoying Family Dinner Night at Harper and Michael's school. We ate pizza together in the cafeteria and then went to the gym to play board games, participate in raffles, and bid on silent auction items. Games and pizza are two of my favorite things, and several good friends were there, so it wasn't a bad way to spend a birthday.

Michael won the silent auction item that means he gets to eat lunch with the principal, which, in first grade, is considered a real treat. Best of all, I won the raffle for a reserved parking space in front of the school for the rest of the year - THAT was a wonderful birthday present!

Edited to add: I just realized this was my 1000th post. That's a lot of random thoughts!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Middle School

Every morning at the middle school the head principal and a handful of students come to a back room of the library where we do video announcements. We say The Pledge of Allegiance, read what's for lunch, give updates about sports teams and school clubs, and share the staff and student birthdays. So today the principal announced that it was my birthday (it's actually tomorrow).

Many middle school students work hard at NOT being impressed or excited about anything. So I found it very sweet today when several students wished me a happy birthday. A trio of 6th grade boys even sang happy birthday to me. Then they got all red in the face - it was adorable.

Flash forward to tonight. Matt and Harper went to a basketball game so Michael and I were on our own. We went out to dinner and then ran to a store for Michael to pick out a birthday gift for Harper. As Michael and I were heading for the checkout, I suddenly heard, "Hey! Hey! Hi! Happy birthday!" It was one of the middle school girls, not one I had seen during the day today. She went out of her way to talk to her school librarian in public.

I will consider it an early birthday gift.

Thursday, November 13, 2014


This is my favorite time of year, really. It is birthday season for Harper and I, Thanksgiving, then comes Christmas books, CDs, movies, decorations, and Christmas itself. Vacations, good food, fun secret-keeping and gift-giving. There will be time with family and time with friends.


Man, there is a lot to do between now and the end of the holiday season. It was always a lot to keep track of, but it feels nearly impossible when I'm working full time. All the preparations are normally part of the fun. This year, especially, I would really appreciate an extra four or so hours in every day. If anyone can make that happen for me, please let me know!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Passing Judgment

I make a sincere effort not to judge the actions of others. I'm aware, most of the time, that I don't have the information to evaluate a choice that someone else is making for herself or for her family. I don't know the circumstances. I don't know the struggles. I try, but today, I failed.

I was on the way to pick up the children from school. There was a car driving next to me down a fairly busy road. The woman behind the wheel had her phone in plain sight and was just texting away. Texting while driving was dangerous for her, for the rest of us on the road, and for the infant riding in her backseat. When my children were that small I sometimes felt nervous even having them in the car at all - I cannot imagine deciding it would be okay to text while I drove with my baby in the car.

I know people do this sort of thing all the time, and I believe it is a universally bad idea, but something about seeing that infant in the backseat just made me so angry with that woman.

A bit further down the road I ended up behind the same car. I was consciously leaving extra space between us, worried that she would cause an accident by not seeing someone stopped in front of her. Just before pulling up to school I wound up close enough behind her, at a stoplight, to see the little sign she had hanging in her back window. It was the shape of those "Baby on Board" signs, but it was black and it said, "If you don't like my driving, *%&$@ off." Lovely.

I'll admit it - I completely judged this woman. I judged her driving habits and I judged the fact that she chose to publicly display those words. And I made assumptions about what kind of mother she might be.

I know we need to be kind to each other, I KNOW. I know most of us are just doing the best we can.

Still, I can't get that baby out of my head.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


As so many have already expressed, today I am grateful for all the brave men and women who have served to protect our rights. There are many people in our family who've served our country, but today I am especially grateful for my brother-in-law, Jason, who is currently stationed overseas. And I'm praying for his safe return.

Monday, November 10, 2014


We were fortunate to be able to have Danielle from Chocolate Pudding Moments take family pictures for us again this year. I plan to share some of my favorites over the next couple of weeks. 

If you happen to be in our area and you're looking for a good photographer, I cannot recommend Danielle enough. The children wouldn't leave without giving her hugs after our photo session. 

When Harper was first born I was adamant about having her picture taken, professionally, and having the whole family photographed as well. We've done it every year, usually around this time. It's an investment of time and money but I never regret it.

Sunday, November 09, 2014


His bare feet hardly make a sound as he shuffles down the hallway, blanket clutched, thumb in mouth. It's over an hour past bedtime but Michael is standing next to me as I sit on the couch.

"What if the pizza party's not tomorrow?" he whispers.

Oh sweet boy.

The first graders at Michael's school all applied for a "right start" library card from our local public library system. Since every last first grader got a library card, the library is providing pizza lunch for them, as a reward, and the first grade teachers are contributing sides so that they'll have a complete meal. None of the first graders need to pack or buy a lunch tomorrow. Michael has packed his lunch every single day of school the last three years. Apparently he's been laying in his bed, worried about what will happen if he doesn't take a lunch and it turns out that tomorrow isn't the pizza party day.

I assured him that, as we've gotten a physical letter, an email, AND a phone reminder about the pizza party, it will be tomorrow.

Our boy is a big time worrier. There's definitely some genetics at work there, but something else that is uniquely Michael. I wonder how much of the last hour and a half he's been worrying about the pizza party, or if it just now occurred to him that there could be a problem. And I wonder about all the worries that he doesn't share.

If only it would always be so easy to reassure him.

Saturday, November 08, 2014

Day 8

The problem with NaBloPoMo is that you have to write every day, even when you are too tired to put together anything coherent to say.

The good thing about NaBloPoMo is that you have to write every day and sometimes, even when you feel like you have nothing to say, you get started and realize you may have one or two valuable thoughts to string together.

Today is the first kind of day - good night!

Friday, November 07, 2014


We are really fortunate to have access to some wonderful shows/concerts/plays not too far from where we live. Tonight we got to take Harper to see Straight No Chaser. Matt and I have seen them perform twice before. When we saw they were coming again we purchased front row seats to take Harper to the show. 

While Michael spent the evening going out to dinner and hanging with Matt's dad, we took Harper to eat and went to the concert. Maybe by the next time around Michael will be old enough to enjoy it as well. Just like the previous two shows, my cheeks were hurting from smiling by the end of the night. 

I'm truly grateful that we were able to share this experience with our daughter - I hope she appreciates it, or will someday.

Two of my favorite people.

This was the view looking directly up from our seats.
What a cool venue, I never get tired of seeing that ceiling.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Where's My Cape?

First things first... the answer to yesterday's guessing game is:

Michael's laundry.

Shoes and Lego pieces were excellent guesses and are, in fact, items I also find haphazardly strewn about the house.

Moving on -

Have I mentioned that the library I'm working at is going to be renovated this year? Thanks to an incredible grant all of the libraries in our district are being renovated/updated in order to better support our district's one-to-one initiative - which means each student is going to have his or her own device. A library with 25 big desktop computers won't be necessary. A library that can take advantage of a group of sixth graders coming with Chromebooks, that's what we need. There's more to it than that, but you get the gist.

Other than the computers, the library, as I came into it this year, looked a LOT like it did sixty or so years ago when the school was built. Here are some photos:

In order to prepare for the pending renovation, EVERYTHING had to be moved out of this space. The custodial and maintenance staff will handle things like moving the furniture, but guess who got to pack up all the books? This week the library was closed to students and, in four days, I moved a selection of books into a temporary space and packed the rest. So now it looks like this:

There are eight shelves with a few books still on them - I ran out of boxes! They WILL be packed tomorrow.

I'm not going to lie, I feel like some kind of library super hero for accomplishing this task. I'm working very hard NOT to think about how long it will take to put everything back in the correct order again!

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Guessing Game

Tonight I collected _________'s _________ from the bathtub, the bathroom counter, the floor of a closet, the floor of a bedroom, the living room, the gate blocking the stairway to the basement, and a couch.

Whose what was I gathering?

For what purpose?

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Spread Thin

I have learned, over the last two years, to set slightly better boundaries for myself when it comes to volunteering my time. I hate to say no, but I also really feel attached to at least six or seven hours of sleep a night. This is the third year that I have been co-president of our elementary school PTO - which has been quite fulfilling, but has also, at times, put a strain on our family life and relationships.

I am so grateful to have a partner in my presidency, because there is no possible way I could do this job by myself, especially when I'm working. This year both my co-president and I are working either part or full time which means we can't do everything. Fortunately our skill sets balance fairly well and we've managed to remain good friends, despite the occasional stresses of sharing this position. We have been able to stay on top of most tasks, but others have fallen by the wayside.

Schools, especially one the size of ours, need lots of volunteers. The PTO alone needs volunteers to run fundraisers, coordinate events, bring food for teachers on conference nights, etc. The teachers have volunteer needs as well - people to help check sight words or read with small groups, library helpers, brave souls to be responsible for other people's children on field trips, party planners, etc.

It's wearying, right? And we can't say yes to everything. I've been parts of several different organizations where it starts to feel like only a handful of the people show up to fill these needs. I find it difficult, sometimes, not to judge the folks who don't seem to help at all. I have to constantly remind myself that I don't have the whole story.

Last year was sort of a sweet spot for volunteering for me. Both of my children were in school all day. I was not (mostly) working. It was not such a stretch for me to show up for two library days a month, to read with kindergartners once a week, to help organize the guided reading rooms, to be on the PTO officer board AND to serve on event committees. This year, that has drastically changed. I'm not available during the day and my children have more demanding after-school schedules. I cannot do any of those during-the-school-day activities.

Today I left home early to go vote, then I worked in my school library (my job) moving and packing books all day to get ready for the renovation, then I rushed back to the my children's school to go to the PTO officer meeting, then hurried home to help with homework and make dinner, then ran out to pick up some supplies for PTO, then worked on the monthly PTO newsletter, now I'm blogging and in a few minutes I'll make the lunches for tomorrow before falling into bed. Today has been exhausting. (Thank goodness not every day is quite that busy.)

I don't deserve any kind of recognition or award for any of this - it's what parents do. But I also know that I'm hoping to stick with my current job and it means sustaining this level of volunteerism isn't going to be possible forever. There's nothing particularly special that I, personally, bring to this PTO position other than a willingness to do it. The PTO will go on just fine with out me. But I hope, when it is time to step down, that there is someone else finding herself in her own sweet spot for volunteering. And I hope that person will enjoy being a part of this sliver of community as much as I have.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Our Own HGTV Experience

Back in April we embarked on a remodel of our master bathroom. (Photographic evidence at the end of this post.) Let me refresh your memory, when I say we "embarked on a remodel" I mean we got estimates, made minor design choices, and signed bills. We are not handy people so this was a 100% outsourced job.

Hmm... I can't find any pictures of the final product, so here are some just before finishing touches.

Still to come at this point when these picture were taken: trim around the doorway, the mirror, toilet, the shower-head and light fixture in the shower,hardware on the cabinets/drawers, and the shower door. 

That was an anti-climactic reveal. I'll get some real after pictures before the end of NaBloPoMo.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Working Girl

Back in August I posted something about a job interview. You've probably gathered by now (if you don't know me in person) that I did end up getting the job. I am working as the librarian at one of the middle schools in our district. Hooray!

We are now over a quarter of the way through our school year and I have two main thoughts:

1) This is a job that could actually work for my family in the long-term.

2) I am afraid I oversold myself in my interview and I'm not doing the job the way I hoped to be able to.

So, on one hand, I hope to be doing this job for a very long time. On the other hand, there is a corner of my brain that is afraid they won't have me back next year!

Starting tomorrow the library will be closed for a week so I can pack up all the books and other items to get ready for a renovation. I'll be moving, temporarily, into a classroom space while the library gets a 21st century update. Before and after pictures may be forth-coming.

There is much to say about all of this, but mostly I thought I'd share what I've been busy with lately.

I am going to make an attempt at NaBloPoMo. Two down, twenty-eight to go.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Welcome, November

In Ohio, in November, there are still deciduous trees clinging to green leaves. Not all of them, but some. On this day, November first, there is also a dusting of snow. The way it sits on our fence reminds me of coloring in coloring books as a young girl, the way I made a darker line of crayon along each black contour before coloring it in completely. This snow is just setting the stage for what will follow in the coming months.

Welcome to the Midwest, where seasons are just suggestions and the weather's going to do whatever the heck it pleases.