The Library Girl Recommends // Advent-Christmas Reading Part 2

Last week, I made a little list of some of my favorite picture books for the Advent-Christmas season... today I bring you some not picture books that hit the spot for me this time of year. Here we go!

A Child's Christmas in Wales
If all you know of Dylan Thomas is "Do not go gentle into that good night", you're missing out. Originally recorded for radio, Thomas' piece captures a family's Christmas festivities from the perspective of a boy, familial warts and magic and snow fights and all. I have a copy that has a few illustrations by the glorious Trina Schart Hyman, and its wonderful.

Aiunindale - Silmarillion
I know this is not a Christmas story in the slightest, but please let me make an argument for why I love the creation story of Tolkien's great legendarium at this season.
At this season in the church year, we look to the incarnation of Christ. Somehow, we are supposed to try to wrap our puny human brains around the concept of the Creator of Worlds, God Himself, growing as a tiny fetus in a virgin womb, and being flesh-born. Just. Like. Us. Understanding this Mystery is not easily done -- if it is done at all. I find that reading fantasy has a unique power to strengthen my imagination, so that believing such Impossibilities is a little more possible.
It is very hard for me to read the story of how Ilúvatar created Eä, Arda and everything within through the song of the Ainur without weeping, for in its myth, I see reflected the Story we tell as Christians year-in and year-out, the great story of creation-fall-redemption that shapes our lives. And if that's not what Christmas is about... then I don't know what to tell you.

The Irrational Season 

This Advent season especially, this book has been helpful to me. Part of Madeleine L'Engle's Crosswick Journals, The Irrational Season contains her personal reflections on each season of the church year, starting, of course, with Advent. Like with The Aiunindale I discussed above, if you want to approach Christmas from a big picture perspective, L'Engle gets it. She always gets it. I love her.

And there we have it with my little list! I hope you'll go out and give at least one a try this Christmas! Merry Christmas and Happy Reading!


Endings and Beginnings IV // An Advent Perspective

"The night is far spent. The day is at hand." -Madeleine L'Engle, The Irrational Season

I love new beginnings so much that I'm currently aching for a button that will fast forward time to January 1st, that magical day when reading list are reset, goals re-evaluated ( and the resolve to meet them renewed) and the blank, empty calendar stretches in front of me full of possibility and excitement. I'm the same way with any new project or milestone... or even journals. I have a new notebook on standby when I get towards the end of an old one, but by that point I just want to be in  the new journal already, the old having lost its crispness in the long months of use.
As it is, I'm in this weird holding pattern that the last month of the year brings, Where I don't feel like I can start anything new yet -- reading lists, major library projects, big goals -- but I've just about finished everything else.

 And so I wait.

This time of year, it has been my habit to write on the same theme each year, as a sort of blog birthday ritual. When I began this blog, I had been closing down an old blog and starting afresh. It was also the end of a semester, and I was riding the high of post finals freedom. I wrote about endings and beginnings, and for two years after, reprised the theme, as every year I found myself at the end of one thing and the beginning of another. Then came last year - the first year I wouldn't be moving onto something new. I didn't write, because I didn't know how to write on a theme that didn't find myself living. Sometimes that that happens, and words simply fail.

Yet, as I saw December approaching this year, I knew I needed to pick up where I left off. Sometimes a thought grabs you and will not let you go even 5 years down the road. I'm still not going anywhere, and I've been struggling with viewing my daily work with fresh eyes, getting bogged down in discontent weekly as I see a path stretched out in front of me with no visible end in sight.
"No Endings or Beginnings for you!" it taunts.
So I've sought to find them elsewhere, even fabricating them as I set mini goals for myself.

As I was thinking towards how I'd mark the endings and beginnings of this year, Advent presented itself to me quite plainly. So plainly that I wondered how it didn't come to mind before. I've long loved marking time by the liturgical calendar, and the season of Advent in particular holds particular wonder for me.

At Advent, the Church year begins its cycle again, and we prepare to begin living the story of Jesus from the beginning, etching it deeper on our hearts with each passing year. But then, just as soon as its begun, the brakes are put on, and we are told to wait. In four weeks - four short weeks as compared to the hundreds of years Israel waited - we relive the waiting. The waiting of the Patriarchs, the Prophets,  John the Baptist, and sweet Mary are all remembered as we light a candle each week. And as they waited for great lengths in preparation for the coming of God-in-flesh, so we practice our own preparation for his return. We still our hearts in the winter's darkness, when the world is cold and dead around, and we wait.

We await the end of time, the end of the world as we know it, but we do not wait in dread, or fear, as one might think. With our eyes fixed on the manger, being drawn to the cross, we wait in hope and expectation as we sing "Come thou long expected Jesus, born to set thy people free." We await the light that will break through the darkness at last, and by Christmas day our candles and homes and trees will all reflect that, as everything glows with warm, wondrous light.

In the beautiful sort of paradox that only God can devise, we are beginning, ending and in the middle all at once in this season.
And so I find comfort for my days.

Come Lord Jesus.
Amen and Amen.

year one
year two
year three

The Library Girl Recommends // Advent-Christmas Reading Pt. 1

Between Christmas Around the World with my library kiddos, and book club Christmas luncheon, my Readers Advisory picker has been centered around Christmas books lately. Thus, I bring you a meager offering of some books that I gravitate towards this time of year. We'll do this in two parts; today: picture books. (Please note that the ratings are merely for fun, and have no consistant scale.)

Emma's Christmas 
(Irene Trivas)
Set aside everything you've learned about the symbolism in the classic Christmas song, The Twelve Days of Christmas, and imagine for a moment a story in which a besotted young lover really is  giving loads of highly unorthodox presents. That's Emma's Christmas. Emma is a farmer's daughter, and her true love is a Prince who just happened to see her on the first day of Christmas, and fell in love at first sight. Madness ensues. Emma plays hard to get and the gifts begin. Oh, and just in case you're wondering, the gifts are cumulative. Lets have a homeschool moment and incorporate some math into our Christmas break, shall we? 
Anyway, the story is cute, the watercolor illustrations are delightful, and Emma has a nice (and slightly subversive) answer to the courting Prince. I give this book 3 out of 5 Candy Canes for good clean fun.

Christmas Tapestry
(Patricia Polacco)
Polacco is a favorite of mine, and if you know anything about her, you'll know she's the queen of heartwarming stories. This one is no exception. Take one unhappy preacher's kid, two holocaust survivors, and a gorgeous quilt, and you've got the recipe for a story in which Everything Happens for A Reason. I give this one 10 out of 5 handstitched handkerchiefs for a good cry.  

Little Drummer Boy
(Ezra Jack Keats)
It's just an illustrated version of the song. The text isn't changed in the slightest, and the pa-rum-pum-pum-pum's are even intact. But oh, are the illustrations beautiful. Keats infuses the eponymous little boy with such warmth of color and emotion that looking at the illustrations is akin to a meditation on the saints icons of old. Visible in the boy's face through out the book are wonder as he follows the wise men to the Baby, sorrow at his empty hands in comparison to the rich gifts, humility as he presents himself to God incarnate, openness as he offers what gifts he has, and joy as he plays his drum to the glory of God. A solid 5 out of 5 drumsticks for a Christmas meditation in the form of a kids book. 

The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree
(Gloria Houston, ill. Barabara Cooney)
This one has had a tender place in my heart ever since I first heard it at a English department Christmas party at Bryan. Though the Adirondacks are mountains of my homestate and childhood, Appalachia became dear to me while I was going to school in East Tennessee. In addition, having spent the season immersed in Appalachian hymns and carols for choir, this book is high up on my list this year. This story's themes of giving and sacrifice and longing and waiting makes it a perfect Christmas book. Like Polacco's Christmas Tapestry this one is tearjerker, as little Ruthie's dad is away at war, and she and her mother prepare for Christmas without him, especially hard as this is they year they are supposed to provide the tree for the church, a tree that Ruthie and her dad picked specially that summer. I'll let you find out what happens, but don't say I didn't warn you! Cooney's illustrations are among some of her best (though, lets be honest here. I've never seen a bad book from her!) and Ruthie's special angel gown is the stuff of little girls' dreams. A fafillion perfect Christmas trees for this classic. 

Stick around this week or next (depending on stuff) for part 2: Not Picture Books.

25 // birthday resolutions // the library girl... and Peggy!

So, you might recall my list of 25 birthday resolutions that I made back in May... 25 things that I wanted to do after my 25th birthday. I've been making progress it, and you can check out the other things I've checked off the list if you click the link to that post above. Today... I'm formally checking off another item on that list! 
Learn to play the ukelele // and use it in Storytime!
Folks, meet And Peggy. Peggy for short.
 She's small. She's yellow. She's named after the youngest of the Schuyler sisters.
 I got her back in August, and was surprised at how quickly I was able to start playing!
The goal was not just to learn the Uke, but to also implement in library programming.
Let me tell you that from the first time I walked into afterschool and heard "She's got a baby guitar!" I knew this was a good idea. I wasn't sure if kids would like singing... but K-1st graders at least love a good oceaned theme take on The Wheels on the Bus. And I have a least one storytime kids who will roar like a VERY scary monster to If You're a Monster and You Know It.
Ukulele Librarians are not in short supply on the interwebs. I just had to google "storytime ukulele" once and found a treasure trove of classic kids songs that have alternate themed verses.
Even the seniors at the nursing homes I read at have loved it so far. Thanks to Twenty One Pilots, ukulele chords to Elvis' classic Can't Help Falling in Love are EVERYWHERE on pinterest... and here in west tennessee, you can't go wrong with Elvis.

Have uke. Will travel. Best life choice ever.

I'll leave you with a storytime classic

Authentically Me?

Most days I want nothing more than to be the cool, single girl they write about on the internet. You probably know the one I'm talking about, don't you? She's the one sitting crosslegged on her kitchen counter at 3 in the morning, cradling a mug of tea between her sweater cuffed hands while having deep conversations with her friends or - if she's alone, (and she's quite happy being alone) - contemplating life in a contented manner.
She's the girl from the pinterest illustrations with her hair in a messy bun and a cat at her feet. She knows who she is, she reads the cool authors and she's just the right degree of feminist. (But lets not get in to "degrees" of feminism... I know that's a loaded issue.)

Most days, I feel that I am almost that girl. In my lest than perfect way, I curate a sort of capsule wardrobe that is equal parts striped-shirt-wearing-cool-girl-chic and children's-librarian-who-plays-the-ukulele. I cup mugs of coffee while curled up in my thrifted chair. I decorate with ikea white, and twinkle lights. I know my mind, my personality, my habits and pitfalls, and I can self regulate my emotions with the best of them. I have my quirks, and am loved (I think?) for many of them.

These lifestyle choices are just that: choices. I suppose I could be a children's librarian that plays the ukulele and not also dress the way I do, and dye my hair blue, but I don't think I know what that would look like. Pardon me for throwing in a half-baked computer-geek metaphor here, but I know that while my life's software is written by the Great Programmer (okay, I told you it was half-baked... I know we're not robots) when it comes to the skin of my life, the graphical user interface, how it looks and feels and acts, I get to set the parameters, and there's nothing wrong with that!

The problem I come to this this: when making those choices to dye my hair blue, and buy flowers every sunday, am I doing so out of complete authenticity, or am I writing myself into a trope - a mere storytelling device that's quite possibly two-dimensional. (not the standard definition of trope, but an accepted understanding.) I realize that with the advent of Peggy,  my trusty uke (oh glob, naming inanimate objects is not helping my case) I may have put some pretty solid nails in the coffin toward becoming the Manic Pixie Dream Girl of cinema and literature. But rather than being the savior of some poor lost white boy's boring existence, (I see you John Green. I see you.) I feel like subconsciously made myself the MPDG over the past few years to save myself  from a possibly horrible demise of boringness. (small town America will do that do a person)

Is that such a bad thing? Honestly, you tell me. If self-awareness is a key towards living authentically, (and I really believe it is...) then I should be okay. If I know why I do what I do, and do it out of the depths of my being, then I am truly myself, not a stereotype or a two-dimensional character on paper. Remembering not to use my quirks as a crutch for my fear of  change and growth will be the challenge.

Living life is hard yo.

yours in authentic striving,


On Being Heard

I had the opportunity today to sit down with my pastor and tell the story that doesn't get told enough. If you were to look at a drawn timeline of my life thus far, you'd see a little blip of ink on the the year 2007. Seeing that blip in comparison to, say, the 4 years of my life in college, or even the past three years of my life in West Tennessee, you'd not think that mark very significant. However, if you were to analyze the richness and concentration of that blip of ink, you understand that much more can happen in a short period of time that you could ever imagine. Having moved (technically college counts, because new community) three times since 2007, and considering that nearly 10 years have passed, there's a reason the story of that blip doesn't get told much anymore. You can't just drag up a 10 year old history of your past at a dinner party or when you meet someone new for the first time... it takes a certain degree of familiarity or need for familiarity for someone to want to hear about that one time for 6 months that your family attended an Anglican church and your life was never the same.

Or does it? Maybe I need to tell that story more often. I don't know. you tell me. 

I was talking to the pastoral staff at my church the other day about membership and that blip came up, because it was relevant. When giving your testimony, you don't leave out the most influential spiritual time of your life. I didn't go into detail however, but just gave an overview of my entire testimony, honestly and completely.

I was called back today to discuss more with our pastor, for reasons I won't go into right now, but essentially, he told me he wanted to hear more about that blip. For the first time in ages I told the full story to ears that not only were willing, but understanding and interested. I might have cried with the catharsis of it. For the story of a major time period in my life that is often not understood (even by family members) to be heard with such compassion and grace is a rarity and a blessing. I might even be inspired to tell it more.

Dear Baptist Friends,
You have an Anglican in your midst, and guess what!? she's normal. Her heart may beat to a liturgical rhythm but she she's a sinner in need of a Savior just the same as you.  She might not understand why you believe some things and you might not understand why she doesn't understand. But she's walking alongside you and trying to grow alongside you. Ask her about her story.  We can meet over coffee and I'll tell you.
-your sprinkled friend

Worth It // Four

Today was my first day of the school year. Kids went back to school in August, but as I'm a librarian and not a teacher (and a northern born and bred one at that) I don't consider my self bound by the school calendar... or not a southern one at any rate. Like the good Yankee my mother raised, I believe in school starting after Labor Day.  So today was my first day of the school year. I spent August getting my calendar in order, rearranging my daycare outreach appointments in order to fit the two extra storytimes I've added to the library roster this year, and after a busy summer, the blank calendar of August -- though I was getting important focused work done on scheduling and planning -- felt too idle. The last few days or so I even felt my old restlessness creeping back, manifesting itself in some anxious overthinking at night. What a boon it was then this morning to come into work knowing that a.) I had everything ready and planned for "school" to start today, and b.) I had goals to accomplish and a finish line to chase. No more idleness!

I had my first dayschool at 9:00 so that afforded me half an hour to buckle down to planning the day, and twenty minutes to look over the book kit for the day. I like to look back at the path I've traveled (look at we are.. look at where we started... the fact that we're alive is a miracle! -gratuitous Hamilton line for you) and see how I'm doing now... and now that I'm two full years into this gig, I can feel the ease with which I go into  the daycares to read (can you believe I used to get tied up in knots of worry ... about preschoolers?). I know the routines of each one; I know where I have to fill out my visitor sheets and where I don't. I know which teachers have specific classroom styles, and which of those I like best. There's comfort in familiarity.

There's a theme I see forming in this, my third year at the library. I've spent the last two years steadily showing up... to daycares, to schools, to storytimes, to the lives of my kiddos... and this year its paying off. I have friends. I have relationships with these kids and families, and I'm seeing them grow. I had a library visit the other day from a kid who used to be in one of my daycares, but is now in Kindergarten. He recognized me at my desk and we shared memories about old times at the Headstart like we were peers and classmates. Then just today, in my first class of the year, I saw one of my storytime babies... all grown up and going to preschool. I wanted to cry seeing him... knowing that I've been reading to him for three years now, and seeing how far he's come. I'll live through the moments of restlessness and anxious thought cycles if it means I get to see my circle of influence grow a little wider every year. It'll be worth it.

*I write these Worth It posts as a gratitude log of sorts, to look back on when I'm feeling frustrated and antsy and want to run away. It is a prompt for mindfulness, a dose against dis-content, and a reminder of purpose.

Autumnal Advent

Fall arrived this past week in Tennessee... at least the spirit of Fall, if not the scientific date. Many people agree on September 1st for being the cultural first day of fall, the day that you're allowed to start putting pumpkin in everything and thinking about flannels again. I knew it was Fall because of the inevitable homesickness I get this time of year... homesickness not for a physical place I can pin on the map, but for the unknowable place I've yet to discover.  (and also by the intense craving for Anne of Green Gables that I got the other day... It comes with the season's change, I swear.)
The leaves haven't started changing yet, (with the exception of some flashes of yellow I saw breaking out in East Tennessee the other week) but they'll come soon enough--as soon as the chilly snaps start coming more frequently.
There are so many things to count down till September 22.  My roommates and I already had our inaugural PSLs at Starbucks, and I found my first autumn palette dress (in which I transition from light blue to dark blue). Soon will come the boots, and cozy socks... no more sandals exposing my poor feet to abuse and bugbites! My best friend -- the queen of fall and halloween -- gets married in a few short weeks, with my bosom buddy expecting to deliver her first child a few days after (if not before!) It'll all be here sooner than we know, with stores even trying to rush on buy to winter. 
But I'm in no hurry... For now, I'm putting a dash of caramel in my coffee (okay, so I always do that...) wrapping up in a quilt and watching Anne of Avonlea. 

Yours in autumnal advent.

August 10th - O Frabjous Day

Let me take you back into the history of Sarah the Library Girl, and tell you a story.  If you click that link, you'll find the origins of my favorite day of the year. August 10th. Its not a special day for any reason other than its absolutely glorious ordinaryness. I have tried in the past three years to pause to observe the day, and without fail there has been an element of the magical mundane to it. 2014 - I started life in my little garrett room (and my neighbor brought me daisies.) 2015 - It rained. <3 Also, this was the year I decided to make my day a personal holiday, and so I named it. Frabjous Day, after the exclamation of joy from Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky poem.
And that brings us to this year, 2016. After about two months of summer programming at the library I knew I would need a recharge day, so I scheduled it for my August 10th.  I had a little bit of a game plan, because there were some things I had been longing to do that my work schedule would not allow. But no good holiday is over planned, so I stuck loosely to my schedule.
The following is my day in pictures. Hover over them with your mouse for the captions.

Twas brillig, and the slithy toves / Did gyre and gimble in the wabe / all mimsy were the borogoves / and the mome raths outgrabe.

Life is only boring if you let it be so.

On Sundays We Buy Flowers

At the beginning of the summer, I decided that I would keep my new room in fresh flowers every week.

I want to live in a lovely place; to have some small luxury that I can come home to and say "ah. this is my home. I am glad I live here."

So on Sundays I buy flowers.

I go to the Kroger by church on my way home, and select a bouquet.

Its usually something with daisies. (because of you've got mail, obviously)

I have two saved iced coffee bottles from everyone's favorite commercial coffee shop.
I've been meaning to paint them with milk paint, to cover up offending labels. I'll get there eventually.

Some how I missed the classes on The Airs and Graces of Fine Ladies: Flower Arrangeing
so I just stick them in a bottle till they look good.

One goes on my dresser.

The other next to my bed.

When trying to make my house home-y or trying to create the life I long to have, I find myself falling back to the simple wisdom of a old book-friend.
“People always think that happiness is a faraway thing," thought Francie, "something complicated and hard to get. Yet, what little things can make it up; a place of shelter when it rains - a cup of strong hot coffee when you're blue; for a man, a cigarette for contentment; a book to read when you're alone - just to be with someone you love. Those things make happiness.”
 ― Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
My flowers are the littlest thing, but their influence goes a long, long way.

25 // Birthday Resolutions // Guns and Ships

You may remember this list from May.

I checked off number 5 today. I'm no Daveed Diggs... but I'm satisfied! (Laurens voice ;))

My speak-singing is a little tone-flat. My apologies. Its hard.

Be ● Do ● Have ● Help

Way back in January, I went to my church's women's conference along with 60 other ladies of various generations -- and guess what! I'm finally getting around to processing out the wealth of notes I took away. 'bout time, Right?

The theme of the conference was Enough -- which, now that I actually get to it, is kind of hard to condense into one concise little sentence because the word "enough" itself was used broadly and in a couple of different contexts. But, essentially, it boiled down to "God-honoring decision making for busy women" -- or so I thought... even just now, reviewing my notes again, I had a lightbulb moment that illuminated something for me... but I'll get to that in a bit.

Worth it // Three

 I don't normally hold much stock in dream interpretation, but you know that, when one of your living heroes (Lin-Manuel Miranda) appears to you in a dream and hands you a library card to the greatest library system on earth (the New York Public Libraries), great things are in store for you that day.

On Being a Reader, and the Responsibilities Therein

I've laughed out loud over my fair share of click baited listicles titled "101 Things Bookworms find Annoying" -- all of them filled with memes and steeped in popular YA with references to fictional boyfriends and having read the book before the movie. I'm one of the inner circle, the ideal target audience. I'm a doggone librarian, hammit! I am the OG bookworm. I get that these posts stem from a pushback against the long standing popular disdain for the four-eyed, uncool, dork who abstains from the world with her nose in a book. But we're long past those days. Hipsters are in. Nerds are cool. Reading is the new TV. Well, maybe not really, but the point is--readers have a special status now. However, as we know, with great power comes great responsibility and I see this power being abused at the detriment of non-readers more and more.

 Let me elaborate and get back to the listcle issue.

While most of these popular posts take on a "don't judge me for reading YA as an adult" or "its okay to grieve over fictional characters" type of vibe, I scrolled across one recently that was obnoxiously elitist  and at times just down right rude.

The particular meme that caught my eye was a chat-post form meme that ran something like this:

non-bookworm person: It only took me a month this book! it's so big, it has 150 pages! I couldn't put it down!
*image of Hades from Disney Hercules overlayed with text that reads: "how dumb are you, really?"
Notes below the picture read something like: "I can read 600 pages in a weekend/day/hour/minute"

This particular post went so far as to call non-readers Muggles, and that's what made me start thinking here. A fan of Harry Potter will surely know the social class divide depicted between the Pureblood families and the students of Muggle family origin. Families like the Malfoys disparage and look down upon those that they see as lesser, for no other reason that they didn't have magic flowing through their veins for centuries. In her books, Jo Rowling teaches us to accept and love and be kind to those different than us. How is one person's judgement of someone's reading capacity and ability any different from Draco Malfoy snearing at Hermione?

As a children's librarian, I often witness kids being discouraged from reading what they want to read because of their reading level doesn't match their interest level, or vise-versa. I can only imagine that the less self assured and determined of these students would only become burnt out over time and just give up on being a Reader. They would probably say that they don't like reading, or just stop moving forward with reading altogether. These are the people that I picture being the first reader in the above disparaging meme. At some point in their life, the non-reading kid may become a reading adult. That reading adult may discover that they actually do enjoy reading, and maybe they aren't the strongest reader, but by gosh, they are READING. 

As the kid who got interested in Anastasia after the cartoon movie came out, and library requested a biography about her that ended up being almost as big as my head, and was not discouraged from attempting to read it, I consider myself one of the lucky ones. I never really struggled with reading. I was allowed (within the bounds of appropriate maturity level) to read what ever I wanted and I did. Sometimes I attempted books and found them too much for me to handle, so I'd set them aside. Even now, I'm still "currently reading" Anna Karenina, but in slow bits and pieces, because I can't do so much Tolstoy at once. Sometimes I can read eight books in a month because it's January and nothing is going on and we get snowed in at least once. Other times I'm so swamped with work and life because (oh irony of ironies) its Summer Reading season, and I'm working so hard to make sure other people are reading that I can barely read one YA book. Either way, I try not to compare myself to the other readers on my Goodreads feed. If Amy read 130 books last year I'm thinking: WAY TO GO; YOU'RE READING! and if Erin sets a goal to read 25 books this year, guess what!? I'm thinking: WAY TO GO; YOU'RE READING!
The point is, different people have different situations, different stories, and abilities that make their reading experience their own. As bookworms, those that have ability to read more per day/week/month/year/LIFE than others, we are the lucky ones. We get to experience that many more stories in our lifetimes, and we will be (I hope) all the better for it. But as the lucky ones, I believe we have a responsibility to not discourage any other person from experiencing the stories that just might change their lives, even if the stories they come to are only 150 pages long. Reading is reading. Plain and simple.
Go forth and be a reader, and make readers of your friends.
and as always, Don't Forget To Be Awesome.

-Sarah the Library Girl

Worth It // two

Sending out a calendar email is no big deal for me at this point in the month. I've got my programs planned, (albeit a lot more this time of year because Summer Reading) and all I need to do is copy and paste the program items from my master calendar, add a happy little note to my "lovely library families" and hit send to broadcast it to my Storytime mailing list. Those emails go unresponded to usually, because there's nothing really to respond about! Occasionally there'll be a request for clarification or more information on one program or another, but generally its an expected radio silence.

I sent my calendar email this morning, right after lunch, while I was figuring out what else to do with my afternoon. Once I clicked the send button, the email was out of sight, out of mind. I went about with logging data in my summer reading tracker, pulling books for a daycare and general library business until I returned to my desk and email after a book-drop trip to find one unexpected response to my little calendar email.

One sweet library mama, who is literal joy in my life, wrote to tell me that she had received the email from China where she was with her husband getting their newly adopted little boy. And she send a link to her blog. I spent a little bit of time scanning the posts about their Gotcha Day with their little boy, not with out a couple of tears being shed. This family came to my library about a year ago, on recommendation from one of my storytime moms that they used to homeschool co-op with. I loved them instantly, because of the cheerful spirit that radiated from mom and kids alike. We became friends, and they have been blessing my life since. The mama always has an encouraging word for me, whether she knows it or not, and the kids are always sweet and polite, and occasionally come to my desk with a present of an apple or some little homemade treat. (how can you not feel fondly toward people who  bring you food?)

Over the course of the year I've known them, I've had many doubts about my season in life--about whether I'm in the right place or in the right job--but in God's perfect timing, just when I start feeling the doubts come creeping in again, I see this family walking into my library, and the mama is telling me how thankful she is for me and my personal insight on homeschool reading lists or whatever, and I remember why I do what I do.  And in that moment, its all worth it.

*I write these Worth It posts as a gratitude log of sorts, to look back on when I'm feeling frustrated and antsy and want to run away. It is a prompt for mindfulness, a dose against dis-content, and a reminder of purpose.

25 // Birthday Resolutions

I like making lists on my birthday. Its like a personal new year celebration. So, in that light, here are my birthday resolutions.

  1. Learn to play the ukelele // and use it in Storytime! done
  2. Decorate my living space with cohesive, grown-up style // #ladiesofmeriwether done done done & done
  3. Be more intentional about creating // #thelibrarygirlmakes 
  4. Plan my first literary pilgrimage // to happen Fall 2017 (DONE! coming soon! :)
  5. Successfully rap Guns and Ships // #thankslin done
  6. Spend more time in the Word // learn to study (I'll never be done here... but I've made great strides thanks to the encouragement of my fellow life group girls.)
  7. Reach out to the girls in prayer group to build relationships // do fun things. (slowly, slowly said the sloth...)
  8. Catch up on my TBR / Unreads booklist // #morebooksthantime (what a joke... I'm still reading furiously and still not caught up)
  9. Read more Non-fic // especially biographies (actually... this did happen!)
  10. Send more snail mail // neglect not thy penpals (whoops... I tried.)
  11. Try non-natural hair color // #blue2016 done 
  12. Find a fitness routine that I actually enjoy // yoga? dance? who knows? (still don't like exercising) 
  13. Establish a "tidy" system // #doesitsparkjoy? (done...ish?)
  14. Play piano more // but first, buy a keyboard stand (scrapped... playing the uke was enough)
  15. Cut out soda entirely // #lacroix4life (so, its not entirely out, but I don't drink nearly as much any more!)
  16. Do a 30-day challenge to completion (whoops! forgot about until only 21 days were left)
  17. Host an actual party // tea, dinner, whatever. dressing up required (Done. I'm gonna count Jor's bridal shower!)
  18. See a show in Memphis or Nashville // Ballet, Opera, Musical (didn't actually go see anything, but I made plans to see lots next year by getting season tickets to the Orpheum's 2017-18 Broadway season!)
  19. Celebrate Frabjous Day // #callohCallay done
  20. Make 1 adventurous meal a month  // stop being boring with food (so.. kinda slacked off at the beginning, but I started a Blue Apron subscription and its been amazing!)
  21. Sew the Sunshine Quilt // finally! (well.... I started it... is that good enough?)
  22. Reclaim my blogging habit // starting RIGHT NOW (Im satisfied!)
  23. Stop falling asleep to screens // #netflixandZzzz (HA! that was ambitious!)
  24. Learn how to make good typography prints // goes along with #3 (hey, I can work with brush pens now, and I'm happy)
  25. Write a ten-year letter to self // Dear Self at 35

Past Years :  23 // 24

My Anne of Green Gables Reading Plan for Life

This weekend I've been catching up my current favorite webseries, Green Gables Fables. In the innovative, transmedia storytelling style of the Emmy award winning Lizzie Bennet Diaries, this YouTube adaptation of the beloved Canadian children's classic Anne of Green Gables did what I did not think was even possible. It made me love the story even more than I have before. While gushing about this to other fans of the series online, I mentioned that I have an Anne of Green Gables Reading Plan for Life, and I was asked to elaborate upon that thought. So, friends, Anne-Fans, fellow netizens, I give you just that.
I’ve been an avid Anne of Green Gables fan since I was small, and my parents gave me the whole 8 book boxed set for my birthday. –the classic jewel toned Bantam paperback set- which is the best edition out there in my opinion.

I read them all over and over as a child, then as a teen, I branched out into everything else LM Montgomery ever wrote.. the Emily Trilogy. The Story Girl books…sweet sweet Magic for Marigold. <3  I even named my favorite arm chair Lucy Maud (because naming inanimate objects is completely normal behaviour for someone who loves LM Montgomery’s stories.)
I read all of those books as a child and loved them. I giggled, I swooned -they were perfect. Then I went away to college. Anne went with me of course, as did all of my favorite books… my friends… I would never run the risk of being lonely if I had them near. I picked up Anne of the Island (the one where she goes to Redmond) one day, just for kicks and giggles (I was probably avoiding some important reading like Beowulf) and as I blazed through it that month, it affected me in a way it hadn’t affected me when I’d read it the hundreds of times before. I found that the difference was that I was coming to the story from a different place in my life; not just any old place, but a place the paralleled the life circumstances of the heroine. We were walking the same paths of uncertainty into the hallowed halls of learning. She was coming from backwater Avonlea - I was coming from being homeschooled. We were both navigating the waters of making friends away from home, of being terribly homesick. I had never experienced that before, so in all of my other readings up until that point I was only an outsider looking in to a foreign situation that I could only imagine my self in.
That was when I decided upon the great Plan. 
I decided that I would read the books when ever I wanted still, of course, but that I would make a special emphasis on a certain book (or books) whenever I felt I would be walking closely along the same path as the Anne-girl, in order to more fully grasp the true wonderfulness of the stories, but also, so I would never be walking alone. The internet tells me that it was C.S. Lewis who said “We read to know we are not alone.” This is sometimes true of some authors more than others. For me its L.M. Montgomery and Madeleine L’Engle. For you it may be someone else. 
Now, as to what book I’m currently living alongside, its kind of a blend of Island and Windy Poplars. Obviously I don’t have the whole Gilbert storyline going on right now, (but when I do, you can bet your boots that I will be starting from square one to live love with Anne) but I currently find myself 
  • living in my own little Patty’s Place of a house (our own dear Meriwether House) with  a gaggle of girls (who might also be adopting a cat) 
  • thinking way too much about growing up and what that means (while having way too many friends getting married “Oh", she thought, “how horrible it is that people have to grow up-and marry-and change!” 
while also
  • working in a city far away from my home town and
  • dealing with a town full of people who have lived there their whole lives as did their parents and grandparents and great grandparents while
  • I the plucky, quirky outsider turn everything on its head and hope that they can still like me in spite of it (Seriously, Anne at Summerside gives me hope that I can make it.)
Someday maybe, I’ll live in my House o’Dreams with my Gilbert (though I pray-dear-God that I never have to come to the books to walk alongside Anne through her loss of child) and maybe this whole Reading Plan for Life thing will spin itself out as I’ve so gloriously imagined it will. We’ll see. 
Taking it one page at time,

P.S. I was home and found this gem. The very birthday I got my Anne books. 

Morning Pages

This weekend was amazing. There was no stress because the housing decision had been made; (#ladiesofmeriwether #together4ever) we had fun as a group celebrating Hannah's birthday with dressing up for pizza and brownies and ice cream; and I felt creatively satisfied because I had made the brilliant decision to spend a little money on myself and sign-up for a writing intensive with one of my all time favorite bloggers (Hannah Brencher is the girl you wish you could be IRL-friends with) The shortest three hours of my life were the ones I spent plugged into my laptop with a Taylor Swift note book in hand and LaCroix and Sour Patch Kids as fortification. I learned so much, and came away encouraged and on fire to return to this little thing I used to do called blogging. But I knew coming away from that experience that I had to find something to do that would seal the deal, locking in that precious knowledge for long term. Otherwise, those three hours on that particular Saturday would just turn into your average mountain-top, student life camp high followed by the crash of falling back into your old ways.

Enter the morning pages.

Staying at Meriwether

Sometimes the life you dream of is not the life you actually need. The key is figuring that out before it's too late.

For months now I've been making plans and doing research and getting my stuff in order -- all towards the goal of moving out on my own. I've never lived alone in my life, and I was longing for the order and the control I could have in going solo. Cohesive decorations, matching dishes, no one to blame but myself for clutter - just me. I've loved the Meriwether house - our neighborhood, the proximity to all things awesome, my little garret room (though I wish I had a closet) I just have been craving a little bit of something new, and a lot of stability. I'm trying to put roots down in order to cultivate contentedness in my career, but its kind of hard to do that when your house still feels like a dorm.

So, a month ago, I started apartment hunting, house hunting, anyplace that would give me shelter hunting. With in the first two weeks, I found a little duplex that I liked, not far away from my peoples. I applied, and was approved. I was able to relax for a week, leading up to the date that I could sign the lease, but then the morning of that day, I got a call from the realtor who had been the go-between for the owners and myself. She very apologetically told me that they had decided to give the house to someone else, right out from under me. I hadn't signed anything, and no money had changed hands, so I wasn't too mad... just a little sad. I understood that business was business, though their business was a little inconsiderate.  A little discouraged, I set to work again, but not with out a little seed of doubt. was this the right decision?  

The World Will Never Be the Same: or You All Should Just Go Listen to Hamilton

Even if you're not a huge Broadway fan, you've probably heard about the musical based on the life of Alexander Hamilton, called simply - Hamilton.  Without giving a complete history lesson, I'll just say that it debuted off-Broadway a year ago, and in that short period of time, has moved on to Broadway, produced a cast recording, won a Grammy for that recording, and has basically overtaken the entire internet (or at least the fandom continent, where I tend to reside).

I first heard of Hamilton a couple of months ago, when a video from the show appeared on my tumblr dash one Saturday afternoon. It was a clip from "Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)" a song that encompasses the Siege of Yorktown, which ended up being the final defeat of the British armies in the American Revolution. I surprised at first when I listened to the clip, because the musical style was not anything I was expecting from a Broadway show. I was raised on Rodgers and Hammerstein, Andrew Lloyd Webber and the likes... and this was not the sweet, tender Do-Re-Mi of the Sound of Music. It was hip-hip, raw, and there was a swear word*. (GASP) But some how it worked. It made me really excited, and I ran down stairs to show my sister, babbling something about the next generation of Broadway, and accessibility to youth and some other nonsense.  yeah.

Worth It

We were reading Frederick (Leo Lionni) in afterschool on Monday. My first group was comprised of twenty kindergarteners who all sat fidgety on their cafeteria benches. I have great compassion for this group of babies who have been at school all day, and are tired - and their supervising teachers as well, whose frustration sometimes becomes evident at then end of the day when I join them. Compassion fatigue is a real thing, folks.
Keeping in mind the tiredness of the students, and the overly structured day they've probably had, I've struggled in the past with bringing a program that is not only age appropriate, but restful to their little minds and inspiring to their imaginations. I've had a couple of cringing moments, when an activity I brought became a homework problem for them to work through, rather than the fun non-obligatory exploration I meant it to be. Those ones I've chalked up to overthinking and overestimating their need to be doing something productive at all times. Not all things need to be productive and constructive.  Open ended learning and play is equally important, if not more so for little ones.

Welcome, 2016.

So 2015 was a major low point year for this blog. I neglected it severely, even to the point of forgetting to write my blogging birthday post. (and that's usually my favorite one to write all year long.)
However, the rest of the year as a whole was not a bust. I just wasn't recording my thoughts as much is all!
Last New Years Day, I wrote this post here with some of my goals... not resolutions really, just goals.  Things I wanted to do/kind of hope to accomplish. And what do you know? I feel really good about how things turned out.