Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Back to Real Life

Well, another summer vacation has come and gone. I'm feeling a little like Charlie Brown at the end of the episode, leaning on the brick wall, head propped up on hand, wondering where time went and how it is that things are over so early.

I always have such high hopes for school breaks. I always go in feeling like I'll have so much time to Actually Get Things Done. All those things on my mental list of things to do, like really clean my room, clean out my closet, read all the books that have been piling up, WRITE MORE...they just end up sitting there on the list, staring at me while I fall into a black hole of re-watching Parks and Rec for the fifth time because it's too hot to go out and do anything, or I'm too tired from working all the time to be bothered to do things when I don't have to. Before I know it, it's August and I haven't really done anything.

Tomorrow, I return to the two-job life. Fortunately the first two weeks will just be me alone in the library, getting it ready for the new school year. I'm looking forward to sharing all the new books I picked out with the students. I'm hopeful about creating an even better library experience for them, now that I have two years behind me. And I'm making a new list, one of all the reasons I can be glad summer is ending soon, to cheer me up when I think about having to wake up early again.

  • My favorite seasons are next, which means
  • The good holidays are coming up
  • Cooler weather=more Pokemon walks
  • Cooler weather=more baking

Here's hoping the new school year is going to be a good one!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Confession of an Inconsistent Blogger

I think it's time I just admit it.

I am a terrible blogger. Sad face.

It's okay though. I may not have blogged every day in January, or posted anything since then, really. But I've started posts that I just never posted (I'm hoping to revisit them), I've been working on my 2016 Reading Challenge over on Goodreads, and I am still (yes, still) living the two-job life. I have a bit of a break coming up, though. School will be out for the summer and I will get to remember what one job is like again.

Even though I am 500% not looking forward to the southern California heat, I am definitely ready for a summer vacation, even if it's only a partial one. We have been dreaming up some adventures we want to have: amusement park visits, the Winchester Mystery House, Hearst Castle, and beach trips. I also have a nice stack of books to read, especially now that the Book Fair has come and gone.

Most of all, I want to get back in the habit of writing. I haven't really written much (blogging aside) since I moved back to California. I got a little sad trying to remember the last time I wrote a poem, and realizing that if I sat down and tried to write one today, I wouldn't even know how anymore. I'm just so far out of practice, out of a poetry frame of mind. I need to stretch my creative writing muscles. Reading so much has helped a lot, but I am dying to sit down and start writing again.

So for my first summer project: setting up my desk for writing success.

Stay tuned.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Day 8: Star Wars, Sickness, and Celebration

I missed a few days because I was busy watching Star Wars with my husband and my bestie. I was also still recovering from the cold I caught during the second half of Christmas break, so I haven't been feeling 100%. But we all enjoyed the movie, and we even got ice cream afterwards, so it was still a good time.

I had double work on Wednesday, and then it was my sister's birthday yesterday, so there went those days of blogging. But I'm not going to worry about it. Sleeping is a better choice than blogging when you work two jobs in one day and have to be up early the next morning. And we had a great time celebrating my sister Emily's birthday. Levi and I got her a couple of books from her wish list, and everyone was stuffed after dinner, cake, and ice cream. We spent hours laughing over some old family photos my uncle brought over earlier this week. 

Birthdays have always been a family thing with us. When I was a kid, birthdays were homemade cake and choosing a special dinner (usually pizza). We celebrated at home (or at Chuck E Cheese), and usually it was just close family. We didn't have big parties where we invited our whole class like kids on TV do. In fact, I don't think I had friends involved in my birthday celebrating until high school. Maybe that's weird. But it makes the elaborate kid birthday parties I see on social media seem unusual to me. 

Even now as adults, our birthdays are still pretty low key. But they are still really special and always a lot of fun. I got to see pictures of my kindergarten graduation, family birthdays over the years, and holidays; some of the pictures I forgot even existed. I didn't want the night to be over.

The week went by so fast. It was a good first week back at school. The weather has been really nice. We've actually gotten some rain. In fact, the sky was looking pretty intense yesterday.

No filter on this one. Except the crazy cloud filter mother nature used on the sky.
It turned out to be a tad disappointing, though. Not very much rain after that epic cloud show, and I never heard any thunder. I was hoping for some thunder. I hear there was a rainbow, though.

I think it's been a lot colder this year, too. Last fall, I bought a nice coat (silly in California, right?) and I feel like I didn't get to wear it much. I've been wearing it most days here lately, which makes me happy. I miss having real winters (especially snow!) so much it makes me want to cry a little. Sweaters, leggings, leggings made out of sweaters. Winter may be cold, but it's all about getting cozy. I don't get why people are all about summer. Winter is definitely the best.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Day 4: Picture Books I'll Never Get Over

I need to laugh today. And since today was my first day back at school after my winter break, I'll do a post about picture books I've read during story time that never fail to amuse me, no matter how many times I read them. (Again, I have not been asked to review these books, and I am not being compensated for this post.)

1. Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown. This is a fun story about a fancy tiger who decides to let loose and be wild. I read this one at the beginning of the year during our Book Fair. The illustrations are beautiful, too. I love picture books that tell you how the illustrations and typsetting were done. The kids loved when I asked them to give their best ROAR along with Mr. Tiger during his wild phase.

2. The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt. This book is a collection of letters to a boy named Duncan from his box of unhappy crayons. Each color has its own reason for quitting, ranging from not being used to color enough things, being used to color too much, or not getting to color certain types of things. The kids' favorite, of course, is the plight of poor Peach Crayon, *spoiler alert* who is upset because he has no paper wrapper (he's naked).

3. I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen. This book...when I first read it in the book section at Target, I couldn't believe the twist ending. It's about a bear whose hat has gone missing. The bear questions different animals, one of which is acting very suspicious. In the end, the bear gets justice for his stolen hat, in a very subtle yet surprising way.This is the first book I ever read as an elementary librarian, and the kids got a real kick out of the twist ending too. The ones who catch on, any way. The illustrations are simple in style but perfectly adorable and the animals' faces are hilariously expressive.

4. Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett. This book was illustrated by Jon Klassen, in a similar style to I Want My Hat Back. In this one, two kids and their dog set out digging for treasure. The illustrations show them tunneling just past some really great treasures as they twist and turn just before they would have found them. The kids love calling out when they see the just-missed treasures.

I love picture books. One of my favorite things about working in an elementary library is that I get to read picture books and share them with the students. I used to browse the picture books and kids' sections of book stores even before taking this job, but I've read a lot of books over the past year and a half that I probably never would have discovered if I wasn't working in a library. In fact, I've started a shelf on my Goodreads account for books I've read from my school's library, both during story time and on my own.

Do you have a favorite picture book, or a book you like to read when you need a good laugh?

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Day 3: For my Dad on His Birthday

Today is my dad's birthday. He would have been 51 years old. I think today is harder than Christmas or Thanksgiving.

For today's post, I'm sharing some memories of my Dad and the things he taught me.

My dad was always laughing, singing, and cracking jokes. He had funny nicknames for people and things. I could always count on him for a laugh. He taught me strength and perserverance. Before he went on disability, he worked hard to take care of his family. A lot of times, he would be working more than one job at a time. Whenever I feel exhausted and depressed about going from one job to another, I just think of my Dad and I can almost hear him saying, "You can do it, my girl." He was always talking about how much he wanted to be able to go back to work.

Dad, me, Mom, and Levi, taken on the day we arrived in California. Thanks to my sister Sarah for this picture. I didn't know it existed until last September.
He had a lot of health problems, but he never let that stop him. When our California move was getting closer, he'd say, "I need to get over there so I can help you guys move," every time we talked on the phone. I know that if he could have, he would have flown over to West Virginia just to help us move. Christmas before last, he made a ton of tamales despite having a broken arm. He wasn't supposed to be doing too much, but he was always trying to do something whenever he could. He liked cooking, especially barbecuing. He made some fantastic breakfast burritos.

I have my Dad to thank for my love of Nintendo. Growing up, we had an old NES console; I think my mom had given it to my dad as a birthday gift. I have happy memories of my parents playing Nintendo together, and teaching us how to play. When we thought the console had stopped working, Dad went to a Funcoland store and got new cords for it. They sold old games for super cheap, so he got us bunch of new-to-us games and we all would have fun playing for hours.

Preserving memories was so important to my Dad. Every holiday, he was all about taking pictures. I'm glad, too. We're such a big family; it's hard to get us all in pictures together. But we have a lot of nice pictures from the past few years. When we were kids, he would record us opening presents on Christmas morning. I wish we still had those old videotapes.

My dad and me, the day it snowed (excuse the grainy/dark quality, this photo was taken at 4 am with one of those disposable cameras). Also, LOL at my funky colorblock sweater.
One of my most favorite memories I shared with my Dad (and favorite childhood memories) was the day it snowed in Bakersfield. It's actually the subject of my very first post on this blog. My dad woke me up for a 4 a.m. snowball fight. That day was such a dream come true for us southern California kids who had never seen their world frosted over with magic. I think that day is the reason I love the snow so much. Now I'll always think of him when I'm in the snow.

Dad with the cookie cake my sister Sarah made him when she worked at Mrs. Fields. Photo credit: my sister Marisa (I think?).
Happy birthday, Dad. I'm glad we got to have a whole year together again, but I still wish we could have more. The world will never be the same without you.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Day 2: Five Books I Want to Read This Year

Lately I've been in a weird reading mood, where I just want to reread the favorites I call my comfort books. I really just want to be in a constant state of reading Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl. But since I've read it three times already, I should probably read a few new books first. And now, a short list of books I want to read this year. (Disclaimer: this list is based on my Goodreads shelf, recommendations from friends and family, and my experience as a school librarian/book fair chairperson. I am not being compensated in any way for this post.)

1. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater. This is the last book in The Raven Cycle series, and Maggie is one of my favorite authors. It was originally planned for 2015, but the publication date got delayed so it could be made even more awesome. I will be sad to see the series end, but at the same time, I can't wait to read it.

2. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (and the 2 others in the trilogy if I like the first one). My sister, Emily, a fellow blogger and BookTuber, read this series recently. I actually got her the last book two Christmases ago. I've been meaning to read the trilogy myself for a while now, and I'll probably borrow them from her. :P

3. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. My husband, Levi, has read it and recommended it to me. He wants me to read it so we can talk about it together. He has been reading a lot more since we rediscovered audio books. I like being able to share books with him, since books are a great love of mine.

4. I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest. I discovered this book during the last Scholastic Book Fair I ran for my school. It's a book about besties, and it has graphic novel type parts in it, so obviously I have to read it.

5. Roomies by Sara Zarr. I added this to my Goodreads shelf after reading Fangirl and looking for more YA type books about college-age characters. I read a lot of YA, and I don't mind reading about teenagers, but it would be nice to read about characters who, like me, are learning how to adult.

This is definitely not an all-inclusive 2016 reading list. I hope to discover many more books to read as the year goes on. Please feel free to leave any suggestions you may have in the comments below. And if you are interested in what I've read and what I plan to read, check out my Goodreads shelf here.

Friday, January 1, 2016

31 Days of Blogging

Another new year. Another fresh start.

I hope all your holidays were happy. Mine were much easier than I expected. My family really banded together to surround each other with love. I know we were all feeling Dad's absence, but we did our best make each other's spirits as bright as possible. I was really anxious about how Christmas would feel, but now that it's over, I feel a little sad.

And now we face a new year, having made it through a very trying, difficult one. I don't know what this year will bring us. I don't know when all the troubles of 2015 will be completely behind us. Last year, I hoped for more adventures. This year, I just hope I'll be able to quit my second job.

In an effort to revive this poor, neglected blog (and motivate myself to write more this year), I have decided to try 31 days of blogging. Every day this month, I will make one post. I can't promise they will all be fantastic. The point is not to write 31 mind-blowing works of genius; the point is just to write 31 things. One of my biggest blogging roadblocks is feeling like I don't have anything worthwhile to write about, let alone publish. This month, I am going to bust down those blocks and WRITE.

It's going to be tough, but I'm willing to try.