October 1, 2015

It’s October. Liam’s first month at his new school has come and gone. I barely got through it without turning into one of those mothers.  The one’s who start emailing the teacher the first week about how the dog really did eat his homework or waltzing into the principle’s office first thing 8am to share a concern about a teacher’s classroom protocol. Adjusting to change is never easy.  We’re trying to find our rhythm but every where we turn there seems to be something else new and different disrupting the cadence. While at the eye doctor this morning, we bumped into the school librarian from Liam’s last school.  I felt a pang of nostalgia when I saw her as she filled us both in on all the activity going on there.  I’ve been worried about Liam missing his old friends and familiar environment, but I’ve been surprised to discover that I actually miss it just as much as he does. That was not expected.

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I think I’m probably experiencing the worst burn out at work that I’ve ever had yet in my entire career as a librarian. I think the move over the summer took a lot out of me.  I’m tired and could use a full week off just hanging out at my house, taking walks with my dog, reorganizing closets and bookshelves, and unpacking boxes that have been sitting there since July.  Just as we’re trying to find rhythm at home, I’m trying to find a way to sync that with work. Nothing feels like it aligns correctly. I find myself staring at my fingers or just generally drifting off into distraction.  I write lists and goals for everything, trying to get myself motivated but it only helps sporadically.  There is so much I’d like to do. Projects I’d like to try.  Thoughts I’d like to express. But I’ve just hit a weird wall of indifference.

October is always the month when I start to get that itch. The one where I feel like retreating from the world a little.  I think it’s become a kind of therapy for me, a way to cope or prepare for the coming winter. It’s as if my body and brain are telling me that I need to move with the seasons.  I’ve spoke to others up here who experience the same feeling, I guess it’s common when you live in climates like the North Country.

Healthiness

I have spent a large part of the late spring/early summer stressing over this move.  Although we’re not entirely settled in our new house, I can say that it’s starting to feel a lot more like our home.  We still have a second floor to finish. We’re adding a family/playroom upstairs, a small storage room, half bath and a guest room. Best of all, I’m getting some “reading nooks” built into the four dormer windows.  I’ve always wanted a reading nook.

But body and brain have been trying to recover from the past weeks’ last minute closing, packing and unpacking, painting and unpacking some more. It’s strange how during times like these, when our body needs the most sleep and the best nourishment, we seem to get less of both.  My strict 10pm bedtime has been more like 1am, my cheat days have turned into cheat weeks and as a result, I’m all in a funk. I figured now that things are settling a bit and we’re getting back into a routine, I can finally pay a little more attention to the whole work/life balance thing.  So, for right now I’m on a mission to eat healthy and do yoga.  I did have plans to do an outdoor yoga class tonight, but because of an oncoming thunderstorm, it has been canceled. As for food, I really don’t buy into a lot of the current crazyness with specialized diets.  I’m Scandinavian by birth so we really like our diary and our bread and I’m not planning to eliminate any of that from my diet anytime soon.  I’m more interested in adding more variety, trying new foods, including healthier stuff and avoiding the junk.  Today I did manage to eat three healthy meals and didn’t give in to any junk food cravings. Not even when the skittles from the basement floor vending machine was clearly calling my name from below my office.

Behold. The healthy food. The burrito is actually from Chipotle. Dang those suckers are big. So I ate half for dinner last night, then split the other half in two for today.

Breakfast

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(Which is kind of like second breakfast, like the hobbits, only it’s after lunch. Not breakfast.)

School year highlights

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It’s hard to believe Liam has finished third grade.  When we hug I no longer have to bend down to kiss his little forehead anymore.  He’s growing tall and angular.  He asks questions about the world that I can’t answer and makes me realize that we’re moving into a phase where I will learn just as much from him as he does from me. It’s an amazing feeling to watch your little one grow into himself.  But sometimes I wish I could just press the pause button. For just a moment.

So I thought I’d take a moment to post some of the highlights of the year. It really was a great school year for Liam, thanks to an amazing teacher and lots of hard work from Liam himself. I don’t think he’s enjoyed school so much since kindergarten.

August 2014:

Liam’s birthday. Lord of the Rings theme.  It was actually a lot of fun to put together.  I got a jumpy house this year. I’ve since decided that a jumpy house is really all you need for a birthday party.  I couldn’t even get them to stop long enough to come in and have cake.

August
September 2014:

Apple picking.  It was pouring with rain but we were determined to get our apples.

September

October 2014:

Liam continued with his LOTR obsession by dressing up as Frodo for Halloween.  We went trick-o-treating with our lovely neighbors again, creating more cherished autumn memories.

October

November 2014:

Major snow storm. Resulting in quite a few snow days. This picture says it all.

November

December 2014:

Christmas morning.  I think one of his favorite gifts this year was his dragon blanket given to him by my parents.  It went along nicely with the How to Train a Dragon book series I bought him.  We just finished the first in the series and wouldn’t you know, it’s absolutely nothing like the book.

December

January 201:

Uncle Mitchy visited again this year for the winter holiday, which means lots of adventures, as usual.

January

February:

This was a difficult month. After a sudden illness our dog, Chani, passed away.  Her loss is felt in our household. I miss that girl.

February

Thankfully, the month ended on an up with another Disney Cruise trip.

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March 2015:

Upon returning from the Disney Cruise trip, we hit the ground running and completed our Odyssey of the Mind project/skit.  Coaching Odyssey of the Mind can be a lot of hard work but it is so worth it and so much fun. You’d be amazed at some of the ideas kids can come up with when presented with a problem. We got 3rd place in our division this year! So proud of our group!

March

April:

The snow finally melted, it was time to get outside and pretend to be…..well, it’s hard to keep track with Liam. 😉

April

May 2015:

Liam reached another milestone this year. Thanks to his neighborhood friend, Meghan, he learned how to ride a bike.  I simply came home one day and saw him riding around our driveway. Now, he’s on his bike all the time.

May

June 2015:

Another school year finished, it was time to got hiking.

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July 2015:

We’re moving to Sackets Harbor.  I could say so much about this moving process. Some days it was hard, others it was downright a fiasco, then other days we felt so much excitement we would squeal! We finally closed on our house this passed Tuesday.  The movers are coming today (literally like in 28 minutes).  There is a bitter sweet feeling to leaving this house.  We have a lot of memories here. But I also feel ready to start a new chapter.

Behold. The new house.

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1.18.15

One of the snow days. Battling some cabin fever, watching Smurfs 2.

One of the snow days. Battling some cabin fever, watching Smurfs 2.

So, I thought my dog was dying last week. Turns out she’s not, everything is fine. What’s annoying is how often I think this, that something really major is wrong, take her to the vet, spend hundreds of dollars on blood tests and x-rays only to find out that her problem is something simple, like bad arthritis in her back.

It’s not really the money. It’s all worth it to know she’s ok and not dying. What I’m really annoyed with is how I tend to freak out whenever she starts acting differently and insist that there’s something seriously wrong. I just wish I could speak dog, so I could ask her questions, like I do when Liam is sick. There’s a huge difference between “Yes, my liver is enlarged because there’s a tumor” to “Nah, it’s just my arthritis kicking in, pop me a Novox and I’ll be fine in the morning.”

This whole week has kind of been off. I’m blaming all the snow days we had the week before, it just threw everything off kilter. I think it bothered Liam too. He had barely returned from Christmas vacation, spending just a day and a half in school before the snow storm hit and he scored another three days off. He had an especially hard time getting back into the routine of doing homework. What made it even harder was that the homework he brought home was especially challenging. On Wednesday night, I had to help him with four questions that looked something like this:

The test that Keyshawn’s class took finished at 10:30a.m. The first part of the test took 30 minutes. There was a 15-minute break. The second part of the test also took 30 minutes. At what time did the test start?

Actually, I like this question. It’s a multiple step problem, it encourages critically thinking. These are all good things. But trying to explain it to an eight year old in a way that doesn’t confuse him anymore than he already is? That’s the challenge. He got through it, but if he’s ever faced with any of those questions on a test, I’m not sure he’d get them right.

On Friday, I went to see The Imitation Game. It was really good. Although it’s gotten quite a bit of criticism for taking liberties and not being historically accurate. But what else is new, it is Hollywood. I’ve always been fascinated with cryptography and I love WWII history so it was a win-win for me. Or even a win-win-win, because Benedict Cumberbatch.

The rest of my weekend has been spent mostly on my couch, reading, napping or watching old episodes of Criminal Minds. Sometimes, we just need days like that.

The problem with blogging

Another Christmas and New Years has come and gone. Once again I find myself contemplating whether or not this little blog with no real purpose should really be taking up space on the interwebs. The original purpose was to use it as a way to share my little life adventures with the rest of my family and friends far and wide. But we all use Facebook for that now. Yet, maybe that’s the problem. Sometimes I feel like Facebook and all its social media siblings are melting my brain. I have fallen into a funk where my world and everything I contemplate seems to have turned into a series of poppy comments, meant to generate “likes” and “shares” as opposed to real thoughts and serious discussion. Not that everything has to be a discussion. I enjoy mindless banter. I need mindless banter. So, I really don’t know why I keep feeling guilty about not maintaining a blog.

I think one of the reasons I don’t really blog much anymore is because blogging has become so serious. Blogs have design now. Posts have a format. There are even special methods for coming up with blog post titles (in fact, I used it for this blog post!). I know this, because I teach classes on using social media tools and I tell students all the time your blog post should follow this format or it will not be awesome, and I walk away feeling a little like a hypocrite because I follow none of this myself. It just takes too much time. Which is why I tried the blog challenge thing because it gave me simple prompts to start with and just made it easier to come up with content. But that too died after about three posts.

But it is a new year, so I think I might try again. I don’t really do new years resolutions, because I’m pretty much doing resolutions all year round. In fact, I pretty much resolve to stop eating junk food every Sunday night. I succeed with some, fail with others. This year does feel a little different, though. I keep finding myself in situations where I want to creep out of my comfort zone. It’s a little scary.

I thought maybe if I just take a blase approach to blogging. The minute I start taking it seriously, I tend to freeze up. One day, I do want to be able to publish something in the library field. I have ideas all the time for articles. But I have yet to develop the discipline or the writing skill to really make that happen. It’s probably because that’s “serious writing” and I’m just completely intimidated by that. So, I need something resembling a sandbox, where I can just play pretend and not have to take anything seriously, yet still be doing it on the web because it at least gives the illusion of a potential audience and makes me feel accountable.

What to do on a snow day

Liam and I both have a snow day. He’s been sick for the past four days which means he’s already gotten more time on Minecraft than typically allowed, so I’m attempting to hunt down some appropriate crafts that we can do to spend the time. One thing I’ve never done with Liam yet is salt dough crafts, and I’m seeing a lot of great ideas for making Christmas ornaments out of salt dough around the internet these days.

To make salt dough all you need is water, flour and salt. Then maybe, since we are doing the Christmas thing, add some spices like cinnamon or cloves for a seasonal aroma.

1 cup salt
2 cups plain flour
1 cup water
1 tbsp cinnamon or cloves (optional)

Once you’ve made your ornaments you have to bake them in the oven on low heat for a few hours (200 degrees, two to three hours). Don’t forget to poke a hole at the top of the ornament before your bake it. Otherwise you’ll have no way to hang it from your Christmas tree. 🙂

Here’s a tutorial with some step by step images to follow, in addition to some creative ways to decorate your ornament.

 

Or you could also try some of these:

 

Getting creative with handprints

Salt dough santa

 

 

Using stamps to make an imprint

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Or just use cookie cutters

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Various things I wanted to be when I grew up

My brother and I dressed up as Roman soldiers.

My brother and I dressed up as Roman soldiers.

Like most kids, my career goals changed often as I grew-up.  The following is a list of professions that I can remember aspiring to or at least imagining myself as.  I tried to list them in order from my youngest years to my older years:

1) Nurse (pre-school)

2) A dancer for Michael Jackson (pre-school to elementary)

3) Wonder Woman/Super Hero that could set things on fire with her mind (elementary school to middle school.  If I were being totally honest, I think I probably still have aspirations for this.  Minus the setting things on fire with my mind part.  It just seems a little unnecessary and a bit sociopathic.)

4) Belinda Carlisle. Literally.

5) Psychologist (I can remember doing a 5th grade career poster where I listed psychologist as my career choice.  I can remember it vividly because I spelled psychologist wrong.  I think that’s when I started to loose faith in the English language).

6) Teacher (middle school)

7) Historian  (high school)

8) War correspondent/journalist (community college)

9) Architectural Historian (college)

10) Librarian (post-college)

Being a Librarian sort of came along as a happy accident.  I worked in a public library while attending community college in Oklahoma.  At that point, it was just a job.  I worked in the children’s section which meant I got to do story time and sing nursery songs with adorable little kids.  I left after two years to pursue a four year degree and started working at the college library there.  Except this time it was a slide library, so it was a whole different experience. By the time I graduated, I knew I liked working in libraries but I didn’t have any real intention to pursue it as a career.  Instead, I wanted to work in a museum, specifically a historic building of some sort.  My true dream was to work in a medieval castle somewhere, but they tend to be few and far between in Oklahoma.  Shortly after getting married, I landed a position as a docent coordinator at the Price Tower, a Frank Lloyd Wright building in Bartlesville.  I really really disliked that job.  So I quit and literally walked across the street to the public library I had worked at before to see if they had any positions open.  Providence was on my side.  The youth services position had just been vacated.  My first day back on the job, I felt like I had come home.  I kind of decided then, that this was it, this is what I want to do.  The city was kind enough to help pay part of my tuition to go back to graduate school to get my MLIS.  So far, being a librarian is working out pretty well. 🙂