Thursday, May 31, 2012


As a kid, I loved to play “Office.”  I wanted to have a job where I would use lots of different colored pens, some stamps, and where I would fill in a lot of forms.  Also, I wanted to be a ballerina.  When I started to college, I wanted to be an astronomer.  Turned out I’m not so wild about physics.  Then I was going to be a freelance writer.  Then a freelance web designer.  Turns out, I need a bit more structure in my life.  As I tried all these different Dream Jobs, I always either worked with kids or in a library.  I babysat. I worked in daycare centers.  I had an eight year run in an academic library, and I loved that because of the people I worked with and the beautiful campus I worked on.  The whole time I was there, though, I never LOVED the work I did.  Then Nathan got a GREAT job.  His move inspired me to try something new.  I got a job in a public library, and within the first month, I knew I wanted to go to library school, get my MLIS, and be a youth librarian.  And so I did.

Now, I’m the Teen Librarian at the Los Gatos Library.  I work in a beautiful, brand new building (after six years in an old, basementy building.) I have coworkers who are my friends, and a fantastic boss.   I work a 30 hour work week, giving me two weekdays each week to do all the Mama Work that needs doing in our house.  I have my own little library kingdom to run, without any concerns about managing other staff people.  Every day my job is different, but there are pockets of routine that I find soothing as well.  There is both plenty of flexibility and a fair bit of structure.  As Goldilocks would say, it’s Just Right.

In the course of my Library work week, I will lead at least two storytime programs, select fiction and nonfiction titles for teens, work on the children’s reference desk, plan library programs, and who knows what else.  Since we opened our new building, the presence of teens in our library has exploded.  We’ve implemented Teen Reference Desk hours every school day afternoon.  This is my chance to work with the teens in our town. I find it a little intimidating, a little exciting, and really rewarding.

We’re just about to launch our Summer Reading program.  Our theme is “Own the Night,” which is fantastic for our new building and for the paranormal craze in teen literature.  I’m inspired to hook new teens who may not have participated in Summer Reading before.  Lure them in with pizza and prizes, keep them as life-long readers.  That’s my thinking.

Probably my favorite part of the job is getting to know the families that visit the library regularly.  I love going for lunch downtown and having kids whisper “It’s the library lady!”  I like helping teens find their new favorite book.  Just this week, I got to take a picture of one of our regular storytime moms and her brand new baby, on that baby’s very first visit to the library.I love that I get to be a part of the reading life of so many people in this town.  

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


I rarely have an uninterrupted conversation.  At work, we’re all busy going in different directions, it’s rare to find five minutes to talk about something specific.  We had instituted a “ten minute standing meeting” in the morning for basic, basic checkins, but we’ve even given those up.
Nathan and I chat on Google Talk during the day for logistical issues.  How did drop off go?  Would this time work for a teacher conference?  Did you see the message from your mom?  Our long, winding conversations from our first years have given way to busy work days.

Most of my communication with friends and family comes in the form of Facebook updates or brief emails.  Though these are short, they help me feel connected to a world beyond my work and my boys.  My teos, my oldest friends, I used to spend hours and hours talking about every last little thing.  I’d talk something over with Jean, then Heather, then Sven, and then I write about it, then I might write a letter to Jean about it, highlighting things Heather and Sven had said.  Now I know if Jean’s had coffee, whether her kids are napping.  I know when Heather reads an article she likes, and I know when Sven is going to juggle, several states away.  It’s not the same, but I’m grateful for it.

If I’m home with Nathan and the boys, we’re usually always talking over one another.  It’s difficult to have a cohesive conversation with a three year old under ideal conditions, but with four of us in the same room, it’s a mish mash of words.  Every substantive topic is interspersed with reminders to sit in a chair, to use nice words, to talk without chewie in your mouth, or requests for repeats.  Noah’s just on the verge of conversation.  He’s fluent in finger pointing, gestures, squeals and grunts.  He knows a few signs, “more” and “all done” and the all-important head shake “no.”  I’m trying to teach him the sign for milk.  He can say “mama” but it sounds a lot like what I think his word for “food” is (mum-mum) so it’s hard sometimes to interpret his meaning.  His attempts to articulate himself are another frequent interruption.  If he tries to tell us something, I’ll try to work out what it is, sometimes regardless of what else may be happening.

For one hour a day, though, there is time and space and generally, inclination, to talk.  Our walk.   We haven’t missed a day since 2007, except the days I was in the hospital giving birth.  Nathan and I get exercise, and the boys share the Double Bob. The stroller is their cue that the day is winding down, and they are usually calm and happy.  This is when Miles will tell us things about his day.  He will sing us some songs.  This is when I’ll find out what Nathan had for lunch.  I might call my mom or my dad to check in.  Noah will point at things, or mumble happily about whatever he’s found on his snack tray.  We’ll notice new things in the neighborhood.  We’ll even have time to talk to the cats, the birds, or any interesting work trucks parked on the street.

Many nights we don’t sit down to the dinner table at the same time, if we eat at the table at all.  Instead, we have our walks as our family time.  I don’t know yet how we’ll negotiate our walks as the boys outgrow the stroller, but we’ll figure it out.  All too soon, I’m sure, our house will be full of space for conversation again, and I know I’ll miss the interruptions.

Friday, May 25, 2012


There’s no name for my type of faith.  I believe in some sort of all-powerful creator.  I believe there is a Grand Cosmic Plan.  I believe in free will and hard work.  I believe, mostly, in love and kindness, and the power of believing in things that don’t always make logical sense.  I think something wonderful awaits us, beyond this particular life.  And so it makes perfect sense to me that the spirit of our loved ones can travel from the wonderful beyond to visit, from time to time.

I’m almost certain my boys experience these visits in a way that is more “real” than what I experience.  Something about the way both boys will occasionally stop and focus on empty space, or the way Noah waves at “nothing,” makes me think they are saying hello. One day, Miles asked me, “Mommy, who are your friends?”  I asked him which friends, and he said, “Over there, by the couch.”  I saw nothing, but I don’t doubt that he did.

Perhaps as babies and young children, we all can see things that are beyond the range of grownups.   The same open mind that allows Miles to see dinosaurs walking in our front hall may well allow him to interact with spirits I can no longer literally see.  I don’t think much about the word “ghost” and I would expect that these visits are only expressions of love and curiosity, never malevolence.  It seems to me this may be how we grow to feel connected to our families, how we share the spirit of who we are and where we came from.

Most often, I suspect visits from Mil and Bob.  My mom’s parents, they were always ready for a road trip.  They loved their grandchildren so very much, and I know they would have been head over heels for my boys.  Miles has been singing “La Bamba” to the tune of “Goodnight Ladies” lately, and I was telling him how my grandma and grandpa used to sing “We love Jenny, we love Jenny, we love Jenny, for she’s a good little girl.”  And I sang him a few rounds of “I love Miles” and “I love Noah.”  A few days ago, as we went through our morning, he was singing softly to himself, “I love Mommy, I love Mommy, I love Mommy, la bamba bamba bamba.”  I KNOW Mil and Bob were around for that moment, singing along.  

It’s harder for me to pinpoint specific visits from Gammy, but I suspect her spirit is present when the boys do something a bit mischievous and then turn to see who might be laughing at them.  When Noah stops fussing suddenly on the diaper table and focus on the space above my head, I think she might be there, playing peek-a-boo and making funny faces.  I think she would particularly enjoy Noah’s determination and his fearlessness.  I expect she’ll keep an eye on him when he approaches his tree-climbing years.  

So many other family members, too.  Aunt Noreen, Uncle George (would love Miles’ poop jokes!), Uncle Don (would have pointers on how we’ve taught the boys to throw and catch), Noble, Larry, and all of Nathan’s family, as well, I’m sure.  At some point in the not too distant future, I’m sure Miles, and then Noah after him, will start to understand “real” vs. “imaginary.”  At that point, their connection to the family that have gone on will come in the form of stories and old photos and DNA.  Now though, I think the love our family members shared with us when they were alive fills this house with spirits.  

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Five years from now, I hope our Saturdays will be filled with reading.  I imagine a Saturday afternoon where we all spend an hour on the couch, enjoying a treasure from the library.  I’ll have something new from the teen section.  Miles, he’ll be 8, he might be reading Magic Treehouse or Encyclopedia Brown.  Noah, he’ll be six, so possibly Nathan would read him Frog and Toad, or maybe he’d be flipping through a Highlights.  Nathan probably won’t be reading a book, strictly speaking, unless he’s reading to Noah, but he’ll be reading something, most likely an article or a website on his computer.  He’ll probably update us frequently on what he’s discovered...  

Today, I will try to work in as many books for the boys as I can.  I frequently think of that saying, “Doctors children get sick and shoemaker’s children go barefoot.”  As a librarian, a youth librarian, I always worry that my own boys don’t get enough time with books.  They both love books, and we have small book-related routines, but I so want them to be life-long story lovers, like their mama and like their Grandpa Kirk.  It’s hard to walk the line between fostering a love of reading and obsessing over it.

This morning, we read “How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon” over breakfast.  Before nap, Noah and I read “Freight Train” and “Go, Dogs, Go.”  If Nathan helps Miles to his nap, they’ll probably read “The Going to Bed Book” or “Hippos Go Berserk.”  At bedtime tonight, if I read to Miles, we’ll probably enjoy “Goodnight Gorilla.”  Miles is getting to the point where he’s noticing more and more details in the pictures in his storybooks.  He asked me recently about who would close the door in the zookeeper’s house in Goodnight Gorilla, because the armadillo was last in line, and he was too small to shut the door.  Noah has started pointing at pictures in his books, and making his inquiring grunt, as if to say “What’s that? What’s that? What’s that?”  He loves the page in “Go Dogs Go” that have the on the first page, and green on the next.  

For the past several months, I’ve been supplying the teachers in Miles’ daycare classroom with pictures books with CDs.  The kids love to hear music and sounds that go along with their stories, and the teachers, I think, appreciate the break from reading...they can keep a close eye on the children and answer their questions more easily if the CD is doing the reading.  I should offer to take some into Noah’s classroom as well.

Usually, I do all my reading on my lunch hour at work.  I also get an hour of “reading” in each work day on my commute when I listen to audiobooks in the car.   I will probably not read my own book today.  I have four checked out at the moment, for myself.  I keep them handy for those surprise moments of reading time.  If the boys decide to play in the hall closet with the door closed, for instance, I might have ten minutes with my book sitting right outside the door.  The age-old parenting I encourage my children to play in a closet, so that I can have ten minutes with Bitterblue?

Sunday, May 20, 2012


I’m never really sure what the mornings will bring.  Getting out the door involves a lot of change in a short amount of time, and that can spell disaster for any one of the four of us.  On the flip side, we’re all more rested than we will be the rest of the day, so it can be one of the friendliest, warmest times of day, too.  Last Friday, we had one of the sweetest mornings I can remember.

I’m usually up first, though occasionally Nathan makes it into the shower while I’m still sleeping.  On this day, Nathan was off to work very early, so it was just me and the boys.  My first instinct when I wake is to check the boys on the iPad, to see who’s awake and who is asleep.  Two sleeping boys means I should dash through my shower quickly.  If Miles is awake, he’ll usually sing or talk to himself for a good long time.  He loves his bed.  Noah has about a ten minute window between wakefulness and wailing.  This Friday, I managed to get my shower and get dressed before getting Noah up and ready.

When Noah and I went to wake Miles up, Noah climbed into his big brother’s bed.  Miles was in the middle of telling me a story about Tracy’s new friend “Razzy,” and I was trying to make sense of the details (Miles’ daycare teacher has a friend with two horns?  Must be a pretend sort of friend...) I was also marveling that Miles was not frustrated by Noah in his bed, in fact, without really seeming to think about it, Miles reached out and rubbed Noah’s back, and then gave him a kiss.  Very nonchalantly.  Noah snuggled up and put his head on Miles’ pillow.  This melted my heart.

As I dressed Miles, I had to check his stomach for paint.  He’d scared me out of my wits the night before, with a big red splotch of paint on his tummy.  Seen in the half light of a sleeping jammie change, I thought he’d broken out in some kind of horrible rash.  I asked him if he remembered having paint on his tummy, and he said, “That’s the point, Mommy.”

I always strive to minimize the amount of time between when the boys wake and when they get breakfast.  The longer the delay, the greater the chance of grumpiness.  On this day, we made it downstairs quickly, and we had time to enjoy a rare sit-down breakfast at the table.  There was no drama about who would drink from which cup.  There was no meltdown over what food we did or did not have available in the kitchen.  Bananas, milk and dry cereal for Noah, and cereal with milk for me and Miles.  All prepared and served to a rousing serenade of “La Bamba,” courtesy of Mr. Miles.  Bliss.

Midway through the meal, Miles announced that he had to poop.  Inwardly, I groaned, as a trip to the bathroom is always a potential minefield.  I was debating whether to leave Noah in his highchair, or to get him out and bring him along, when Miles declared he was going to use the big potty, by himself.  Moreover, he said, “If YOU need help, Mommy, just call!”  Noah and I gave each other high fives.  Miles’ three year old delight spilled over and included even the placement of his step stools.  I had lined two up side by side, so he could get from the potty to the sink easily, and he exclaimed, “Mommy, that’s just perfect!”

Getting into the car was equally dreamy.  Miles did not request any television--no Bob the Builder, no Dinosaur Train, so I didn’t have to remind him that TV is only for after school.  He got his shoes on by himself, and was focused on going to the car “quickly, quickly Mommy.”  I carried a gurgly, happy Noah, and Miles held the door for us.  

We got to school early, in plenty of time to avoid the parking rush.  We stopped first at the infant room, to drop Noah off.  The other one-year-olds waved happily at us, and we were all excited to see our beloved Miss Nicole.  Miles, who was in Nicole’s class last year, is always happy to tell her what’s on his mind.  This particular morning, he treated us to a concert.  Using one of the glycerin filled tubes as his microphone, he danced and sang, while the babies gathered around to watch.  Noah climbed on top of a drum to dance along.  When it was time for Miles and I to go, Nicole offered Noah another banana (the boy loves his bananas!) so he didn’t get too sad about the goodbye.

Miles and I headed to his preschool room, and Miss Tracy, his bestest-favoritest teacher was there.  Miles ran over and gave her a big hug.  She started to tell me about the puppet they were using with the children to help them express their emotions...they were pretending that he was a student in their classroom, and using him to demonstrate particular behaviors to the children.  A goat named Randy!  A-ha!  So that’s what Miles meant earlier, Razzy, two horns.  I put Miles’ sunscreen on, give him several kisses and hugs, and one high five through the window, and I was officially on my way to work.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

31 Things

Sooo, I kinda signed up for a class.  A little one.  One of the blogs I follow, the author was teaching an online class, called 31 Things.  (Maybe the Baskin Robbins parallels drew me in?)  The general idea is to write one personal story a day, inspired by a particular word or theme that gets sent in a daily email, for 31 days.  Pair that with a photo, and you've got yourself a scrapbook.

My journalling lately has turned into a litany of how tired I am, how much there is I want to be doing, how sweet and clever the boys are, and how blessed my life is.  And how tired I am.  I still value it, the daily practice, but I've been sort of looking for a way to push myself a little bit, in the writing arena.  I have no time to speak of, to do this.  But I decided to do it anyway.

AND, if I post it here, I'll be doing double duty.  Pushing myself to write more AND filling out the content on the blog here.

Without further ado, I give you Day One: Jewelry.

(In real life, we're on Day Three...but I'll probably space them out a little bit, and reserve the right to skip a few days if I end up writing something unbloggable.  Huh, spell check doesn't seem to think unbloggable is a word.  Weird.)

I can’t remember when I decided that jewelry wearing had become a statement of self.  In junior high, I can remember planning out accessories with every different outfit, bracelets and earrings and coordinated socks.  Maybe when I started wearing my class ring every day, sometime in high school, I decided jewelry was something of a relationship, and that you should stick by your closest friends, regardless of whether they matched your socks.  

Now I wear two rings regularly.  My engagement ring and wedding band, of course.  I’ve worn those every day for six years, and my finger now has an indentation where they live.  The fact that I chose this simple, lovely ring and pointed Nathan to it says a lot to me about how we arrange our lives and our marriage.  Simply, not too worried about convention, and going with what makes us happy.  Putting them on in the morning after the shower is a daily celebration of married life, and a reminder of our amazing wedding day.

On the other hand, the ring finger, I wear my Celtic knot ring, the third or fourth iteration of this ring.  This time around, it’s solid, and worn nearly smooth.  I wear it to remind myself who I am, when I’m not wife and mama.  I’m the twenty-something single girl living in the woods writing stories in the middle of the night.  I lost one version of this ring the day I got my first “real job,” an obvious sign from the universe that I was selling out.  One night in the last year or two this new version cracked, leaving me to wonder what the universe wanted me to know this time.  I still wear it, crack and all, because that’s just life.  

From time to time I’ll wear a necklace.  One for my boys, with a mama bunny and two baby bunnies--I’m sure they’ll love that as they get to be grown up bunnies.  And my old friend, nearly as old as my knot rings, the ogham script necklace, which reads “kenavo.”  My reminder to myself, “Things will be as they should be.”