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  • #SOL22 Day 31: Movin’ On Up

    Somehow we made it to the end of March! That means today is already the last day of the Slice of Life Writing Challenge. I was telling my principal recently that I didn’t think I’d like it and that I thought I’d drop out after a week, but I made it! Yay, me! This was more fun and interesting than I thought it’d be, and it really didn’t feel like a chore. (Sometimes I struggled and stole formats from other Slicers, but that’s neither here nor there…) I looked forward to sitting down with my laptop and just writing each night…and now I really need to make sure I keep a notebook close by for when an idea strikes me.

    Today wasn’t just a big day for me, though. My older son, Josh, took a fifth-grade class trip to their middle school for orientation this morning. The thought of it brings tears to my eyes. Ten years ago, my husband and I were told that biological children might not be part of our future, and now we have one rising to sixth grade in the fall. It’s crazy to me to think that he’ll be taking a bus to a new school in September, where he and his classmates will basically be starting over as the little kids, the newbies, the fresh blood. I hated middle school. I hope it treats him better than it did me.

    So this is it for the year! I may post once in a while, but I’m actually looking forward to posting again for #SOL23! See you all then, and have a great rest of your school year!

  • #SOL22 Day 30: An Environment of Divisiveness

    This morning, I deleted an email I received without reading it; the subject line invited recipients to “Join Our Live Webchat,” and I just don’t have time for that right now.

    Tonight, I went into my trash folder and read that email after getting a heads-up from one of my closest colleagues about an uproar on Twitter over the email. I opened the message and read it in full, and….

    HOLY CRAP.

    The email came from the content CEO of a library content and software company that many school librarians are at least familiar with, if not users of. In it, the CEO wrote about a proposed optional add-on for their library OPAC (in other words, their management program – the software they use to check books in and out and catalog their materials) in which parents would be able to see what their kids are checking out and block them from borrowing materials about topics or by authors that the parents disagree with. The CEO said that the proposal was in response to legislation being created around the country about libraries and the books housed within them, and whether children should have access to those materials.

    HOLY CRAP!!

    This goes against the ALA (American Library Association)’s Bill of Rights. Students have the right to check out and read whatever they want to, without restrictions being placed on them by the adults in their lives. I did an audit of my library’s collection with my assistant principal yesterday, and we were talking about the increasingly toxic political climate we’re living and working in and about how the rights of students as readers should remain untouched. Looking back, I wish I’d read the email this morning before the audit – I’d have used it as an artifact for what we’re dealing with.

    And hooooooly crap — the CEO closed her message with this:

    So, we would ask that instead of creating an environment of divisiveness, that we come together and be a positive voice for this very important topic, whether we agree with those laws, disagree with those laws, or otherwise – they are the law and require compliance.

    So not only does she want to use her company’s library software to cater to the activists who want to control what every child reads, but she’s blaming librarians for fighting back against it. I’m sorry, but I fail to see how caving to these crazy demands set us up as a “positive force for this very important topic.” What would that actually look like? That would be us fighting even harder to protect the rights and privacy of the students who put their trust in us every single day.

    Holy. Crap.

  • #SOL22 Day 29: Through the Roof

    I’m taking a breath tonight, and I’m headed to bed shortly. Tomorrow promises to be a very stressful day on multiple levels.

    I’m scheduled to host an audit of my library collection with the assistant principal, which I’m honestly not worried about at all. She and I have spoken on the subject already and I feel comfortable talking about it in greater depth; it’s something I care deeply about and want to work on improving.

    What’s really stressing me out is that my husband is leaving in less than 12 hours for a work retreat in Kansas City. We’re from New Jersey, so where he’s going isn’t exactly close to home. I’m a natural worrier, so I’m concerned about an emergency occurring while he’s gone, but I’m also in a bit of a panic because I’ll be home alone with two kids, one of whom isn’t sleeping well right now. He’ll be home on Friday night, and I’m seriously thinking about passing him the baby monitor and sleeping elsewhere in the house that night so I have a real shot at getting some rest.

    I’m really going to need spring break after this week. It’s too bad that we still have another full week of school before the break!

    Anyone have any chocolate I can steal?

  • #SOL22 Day 28: 5-4-3-2-1

    I find myself stealing from my lovely friend Carol once again, this time not because I didn’t have anything to write about but because I just really liked the format. She borrowed the format from another Slicer, and I wanted to give it a try!

    5 things that made me smile this past week:

    • Elijah discovered toy cars
    • Joshua couldn’t tell the difference between the Soarin’ and Test Track music at Disney and I thought it was hilarious (we’re HUGE Disney fans and he should know this!)
    • Hubs told me that something I made for dinner needs to be added to our regular rotation because it was so good
    • A group of fifth grade girls told me I was the coolest librarian and they’re going to miss me next year
    • I was able to start breaking the news to students that an in-person book fair is coming before the end of the year!

    4 words to describe my upcoming week:

    • Exhausting
    • Exciting (the non-tenured teachers will finally be done with their portfolios)
    • Nerve-racking (and then I have to think about my doc log…first time ever OMG…PLUS my husband is going away on business so I’m going to be home alone with the kids for two nights OMG OMG)
    • Productive (….I hope)

    3 plans for this weekend (I can’t use “remaining weekend” since that’s sadly over)

    • Food shopping (yay!)
    • Lesson planning (yay?)
    • Vacation and first birthday party planning (YAY!!)

    2 things I learned this past week:

    • I weigh even more than I thought I did
    • My students deserve a ton of credit for how hard they’re working, especially given pandemic learning loss

    1 goal for next weekend:

    • To sleep past 6am LOLOLOLOLOL
  • #SOL22 Day 27: #BoyMom

    I always wanted two kids. When I was younger, I hoped for a boy and girl – one of each! In 2011, I got my miracle boy: Josh was born about a year after an OBGYN told me that because of my uterus, I’d probably never be able to carry a pregnancy to term.

    One of each….one boy, one girl. Boy, check.

    Now for the girl.

    After countless failed attempts to conceive a second child on our own, I sought help from a reproductive endocrinologist (RE). We tried an IUI, and a few days after the procedure I got a call saying that my bloodwork indicated that I was pregnant. (Yay!) The day after that, I was at a meeting with my librarian colleagues and got another call, this one saying that my new bloodwork indicated that the pregnancy wouldn’t stick. (Boo!) That was the beginning of a very long and painful string of pregnancy losses, culminating in the stillbirth of who should have been my daughter Caila (girl, check!) in March 2020.

    After that loss, I assumed the game was over; I wanted to be sterilized and be done with that chapter of my life. Thanks to the pandemic, though, I wasn’t able to schedule that elective procedure…and in October 2021, I discovered that I’d once again fallen pregnant. This was going to be the last one, no matter what.

    Congratulations, it’s a boy! (Boy, double check!)

    Now, my house is overrun with boys. Two male children, a male spouse, and two male dogs. I’m completely outnumbered, and I kind of love it. (But I did tell my husband that I’d like our next dog to be female, just to balance things out a bit.) My children’s clothing is covered in dirt and rips, there are cars everywhere, and I can’t keep my house stocked with food. (Elijah has proven to be a total foodie – he’s only about 10 months old but is clearly of the mindset that purees are for babies and he’s a big kid now!)

    I got to check both boxes, but that girl box is filled in spirit only. I miss her every single day, but I truly love being a #BoyMom!

  • #SOL22 Day 26: Burning at Both Ends

    Today is Saturday, which is generally a calm and uneventful day in my household. We ran errands in the morning; sent our oldest to a sleepover at his cousin’s house; and played with the baby all afternoon. I’m sitting here thinking about how, even though I didn’t have to go to school today, I’m still totally drained. My battery isn’t recharging the way it normally would. I don’t feel sick or anything, but I do feel that this speaks to what it’s like to be a teacher this year.

    We’re still in the middle of a pandemic. There’s a new COVID variant making its way around the globe and infecting loads of people. There are lots of people who want masks to stay on and everyone to be vaccinated, and then there’s a whole other group of people who think masks and vaccines are dangerous and/or a waste of time. I won’t speak to my position on that, but that argument has contributed in a very real, very serious way to the teacher burnout that seems to be happening everywhere this year.

    I love the teachers at my school. I also worry about every single one of them, and how they’re handling the stress of being a teacher in this particular school year. I’ve been stress eating, and the struggle to get my weight back under 150 has been real. Add to all of that the stress of being a mom to two boys ten years apart, and it’s sort of a recipe for disaster. I’m coping as best I can, but I’d be lying if I told you that I wasn’t counting down the minutes to the last day of school on June 24.

    I know I’m not alone, and that gives me comfort. We’re all in this together, and summer vacation simply can’t get here soon enough…

  • #SOL22 Day 25: It’s Nice to Be Needed

    I don’t understand

    how it can be possible

    to work on no sleep.

    I do understand

    how to do two jobs at once:

    teacher and mother.

    I’ve been doing one

    job for ten years already,

    but just with one kid.

    Now I must manage

    two boys, one a tweenager

    and one a baby.

    Their needs are just so

    completely different, and

    I’m here to meet them.

    Now I must juggle

    one extra plate, one more child

    who simply needs me.

    Add to that the stress

    of running a library,

    thousands of books that need me.

    Add to that the work

    of teaching four hundred kids

    who simply need me.

    They need their librarian

    and so too do all the books

    and the teachers, too.

    Everyone needs me –

    so many unique reasons

    why – and so I’m here.

    I’m here and there and

    everywhere I’m needed; it’s

    nice to be needed.

  • #SOL22 Day 24: Bad Mom

    I don’t want to go into detail, but I feel like a terrible mother tonight. My 9-month-old got hurt in a way that was stupid and dangerous and completely avoidable, had I been paying better attention. I think he’s okay. He cried for a little while afterward, and once he was done crying he whined until I gave him a bath and put him to bed. I gave him Tylenol to alleviate any pain he might have been feeling.

    He drank his whole 9-ounce bottle and didn’t throw up, which I took as a good sign.

    There were no tangible bumps anywhere, which I took as a good sign.

    His pupils weren’t dilated, and he clapped along with a bit of Encanto as he normally does, which I took as good signs.

    But I feel like a bad mom. I’m punishing myself for my mistake by waking up every hour, on the hour, to go in his room and check on him. To put my hand on his back and make sure he’s still breathing. To be the good mom I’m supposed to be and do everything I can to protect my kids and keep them safe.

    I’m going to be a hot mess at work tomorrow, but I earned it.

    To make matters worse, my husband isn’t home; he’s at a meeting for work and doesn’t expect to be home for several hours. Even worse than that, he’s traveling for work next week, which means I’ll be on my own with both of my boys for three nights.

    I’m just praying I can keep all three of us alive.

    Tonight, I’m such a bad mom.

  • #SOL22 Day 23: I-I-I’m in the Stars Tonight…

    Something really funny happened today, but first a bit of backstory…

    Sometime last year, while I was still pregnant with Elijah, I discovered the Korean pop group BTS. I’d heard their song “Dynamite” on TV and thought it was cool, so I looked them up on YouTube and became a fan (or “ARMY,” as their fanbase calls itself). If you haven’t already heard it, though I’m sure you have:

    I went through much of my pregnancy with the speaker from my cell phone pressed against my belly, playing “Dynamite” and some of the group’s other music for Elijah to make him dance. (And dance, he did!) Now, “Dynamite” and another song of theirs called “Butter” are my go-tos to chill him out when he turns miserable, and somehow they always work. “Dynamite” even helps him to go to sleep.

    Which leads me to today. I heard a small group of girls talking about BTS in the hallway, and I mentioned to them that I liked the band’s music. They looked at me like I’d sprouted a second head before their eyes – there was simply no way that a teacher, an uncool grownup like myself, could possibly like the music of a current worldwide supergroup. So I showed them my YouTube account on my phone, and the BTS playlist I keep for when I need it for Elijah or for listening to on the car rides to and from work when I’m not working on an audiobook. It blew their minds.

    I think I became just a little bit cooler today?

  • #SOL22 Day 22: Tired

    Tuesday is my tough day. My stressful day. The day I worry about most from week to week. It’s the day I see my youngest learners and the day that’s busiest for me – I see seven classes in a span of six hours (the first class comes in at 9:15 and the last leaves at 3:10), and that six hours includes my break, prep, and lunch. It’s always a crazy day, and by the time the dismissal bell rings I’m tired.

    Today, I came home from work and got busy making dinner for my family. On Tuesdays, my brother-in-law and nephew come over; my sister is already here, as she watches baby Elijah for me while I’m at work every day. So I’m cooking for seven people, because Elijah thinks purees are worthless now that he’s got teeth. Most weeks I enjoy it. Today I just wanted to be done with it. Cooking for seven people makes you tired.

    I cooked the meal and everyone said it was good, but looking back I feel like I didn’t get to really enjoy it. Sitting down to eat dinner is the start of our nighttime routine. I never mind getting to spend cuddle time with my baby boy…but I think we tried to put him to bed too early tonight, and his room wasn’t dark enough, and he wouldn’t go to sleep. What’s usually a 15-minute process took 45 minutes tonight. He was fighting the tired, but I sure wasn’t.

    (And it looks like I need to add a blackout curtain to my shopping list. Yay, Daylight Savings?)

    Now I’m here, rubbing my eyes and yawning, wondering if 8pm is too early for bed. I don’t think so. I go through this every Tuesday. As my good friend Carol likes to describe my Tuesdays, “there’s no tired like Tuesday tired!”

    Yep. Tuesdays make me tired.