Archive for the ‘Letters’ Category

Christmas Letter 2010

Friday, December 24th, 2010

‘Tis the night before Christmas… and I’m writing my Christmas letter.

The beautiful part is that if I do an electronic-only Christmas letter, then this is right on time!

It’s been a crazy year.  Definitely not one I’d want to live over again.  The big question of the year was:  Can God really work EVERYTHING out for the good of those who love him?  Really?  Even divorce and losing the job I love?

The answer of the year was a resounding: YES!

First, I’ll report that, as of today, my divorce from Steve is final.  Both condolences and congratulations are in order.  He was a very good husband for a very long time, and I’m very sad it came to this.

But I am seeing this was a good thing in my life right now.  It was time to let him go.  Clinging wasn’t going to bring about a change of heart, and it was time to settle legal and financial matters between us.  I’d better not say any more than that.

So I’ll only say that it feels incredibly freeing to be a single adult, responsible only for myself and my son.  There are some wonderful things about it.  Life is good!

The job situation didn’t work out at all like I hoped — at first.  At the start of the year, I was Youth Services Manager at Herndon Fortnightly Library, and loving it.  But library budget cuts were looming, and I knew I was likely to lose my job.  What I hoped God would do was give me a better, higher-paying job.  I put out about 30 applications, but only got two interviews, and didn’t win  those.

I also hoped the Board of Supervisors might realize how awful it is for the poor and the kids and the immigrants in the county to lose hours of library service.  And they might have a change of heart about budget cuts.  That didn’t happen either.

So, yes, in May I got a Reduction-in-Force notice.  But a couple weeks later they offered me a job in another county agency at the same pay grade.  So for half of this year, I was a Management Analyst in Childcare Provider Services.  Basically, I was a cog in the bureaucracy of adminstering the USDA Food Program.  (And it is mountainous bureaucracy!)  I did enjoy the job.  I loved not having to serve the public, and I loved getting to listen to music all day long.  And the people I worked with were fantastic.  I also learned that I am not only detail-oriented, I am freakishly detail-oriented.

But it did bother me that the job was much, much less responsibility and much, much less difficult than being a librarian — and didn’t require a Master’s degree like a Librarian job does — yet it was the same pay grade.  Something’s wrong with this picture.  (But working in a library is so great, they can get us to do it for lower pay than we deserve.)

So, the good that came to me through that job was a continued paycheck — and evenings and weekends off.  I used the time to go to several book-related conferences, which were the highlight of my year.  It confirmed that I am a Children’s Librarian by calling, and I had a wonderful time, learning librarian tips and making connections in the kidlit and book world.

The biggest highlight was the Newbery/Caldecott Banquet as part of the American Library Association Annual Conference.  A friend bought several tables, so I got to sit with friends, too.  And of course the highlight of ALA is meeting lots of incredible authors and hearing them speak.

Below, I’m meeting  Grace Lin, a Newbery Honoree:

Then here I am with Jessica Day George, whose books I love:

And I simply have to include John Green and David Levithan, joint authors of Will Grayson, Will Grayson, which I actually had on my bedside table with my bookmark a couple chapters in when I met them.

And of course the picture book genius, Mo Willems:

And the teen books genius, M. T. Anderson, who had nice things to say about how bad it is to cut library funding (in response to my shirt).

Okay, I’d better stop!  Other book events of the year were the National Book Festival, Author Talks by Garth Stein, Ann Patchett, and Jacqueline Woodson, the MAYALIG (Metro Area Young Adult Librarians’ Interest Group) conference with Catherine Gilbert Murdock, and finally the Horn Book Colloquium at Simmons in Boston.  I had a lovely October weekend in Boston for that trip, but the huge highlight was when, at the end of it, I ran into one of my absolute favorite authors, Megan Whalen Turner, in the airport.

We’d already talked a little bit — She knew I was a huge fan from some things I’d said online.  We both had some time before our flights left, and while we were waiting, she sat with me and we ate and talked for an hour.  It was just lovely, and I felt like I made a friend — with one of the most brilliant authors writing for children today!

Here I am with Megan Whalen Turner at the Horn Book Colloquium:

You get the idea!  Lots and lots of inspiring talks about books and meeting lots and lots of authors and feeling very much a part of the kidlit book community, even if I wasn’t currently working as a Librarian.

I also actually kept my New Year’s Resolution for 2010 — I worked on writing books for at least 30 minutes every single day (so far)!  And I’m happy to report that I finished a book, a middle grade novel, and I plan to start submitting it to agents right away in the new year.  I’m hoping that at last my time has come, and I will find a publisher!  So maybe next time I meet all those authors, I will be one of them.  We shall see….

But in November, everything seemed to turn around at once.

First, the afternoon before our scheduled court dates, Steve signed the agreement my lawyer had written — so we did not have to have a court battle, and I did not even have to face him in court.

Then two days later, Tim and I flew to California for Thanksgiving Break, where I got to spend time with my family and friends, and had a beautiful, restoring five days.  I was totally rested and rejuvenated.

Here I am with four of my wonderful sisters:

And I got to see my son Josh, who lives in North Hollywood and recently moved into an apartment with my brother Peter.  They both work for IQ Joe, making Zoom Math, software that makes graphing calculators much easier to use.

Here are my two sons together:

Tim, by the way, is doing great.  He got straight A’s first semester!  He’s a junior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, so that’s a noteworthy accomplishment.  I made a deal with him back in 9th grade that I wouldn’t hassle him about doing his homework if he would DO it — never dreaming that he would actually take me up on that offer!  He’s an easy-going person to live with, except when I try to wake him up in the morning.  He and I went to the Rally for Sanity in Washington, DC, on October 30, and both thoroughly enjoyed it.  (And he will be old enough to vote in the next presidential election!  Look out!)

When I got back from California, they told me I could step into the job of a librarian who had retired.

So for three weeks now, I have been a Librarian again!  And I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that Librarian is the right job for me.  I’m currently not in the Youth Services department, but I still get to help kids who come to the Information Desk with questions.  I’m working at the City of Fairfax Regional Library, and I’m enjoying learning to use the Virginia Room, where we have a treasure trove of local history and genealogical materials.  I’m also processing reference books, which is quite different from what I did before, so I’m enjoying learning some new things.  And just reveling in being in the right place for me.

So — the year didn’t turn out at all like it would have if I were in charge of the world.  But I definitely like the way it turned out!

This Christmas, I even got to sing with a caroling group.  Thanks to all my years of being in choirs, singing at Christmas time is one of the most important parts of the holiday for me.  Tonight we sang in the Christmas Eve service.  It was a lovely service, with lots and lots of joyous music.  The theme was that Jesus was Emmanuel — God with us.  It reminded me, in a glorious way, that God has been with me this difficult year, and He has been wonderfully faithful.

Wishing you a Joyous Christmas!

Sondy Eklund

Christmas Letter

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

Life is FULL of reasons for Joy!

That’s the motto I’ve adopted for my life as a single Mom and a career woman.  Indeed, 2009 was full of lots of joyful moments:

 ManassasWe moved last Spring!  (Be sure to note our new address.)  Our new place is a rental townhome, and it’s much cozier and more homelike than our old apartment, but much less expensive, so a winner all around.  I have a longer commute to work, but I’m discovering the joy of audiobooks, so I don’t mind.

 TimOnIceRiver

We’ve discovered Virginia is beautiful.  Tim and I had some good times hiking this year at places like Shenandoah National Park, Manassas Battlefield Park, the creek right by our home, and even on a frozen solid creek at the start of the year.

Shenandoah

I’m still thoroughly enjoying my job as Youth Services Manager at Herndon Fortnightly Library.  There’s lots of variety, and I particularly enjoy connecting kids with great books.  With budget cuts, I may be forced to look for a new job next year, but I have thoroughly enjoyed the time I’ve had at this job.

 Tim is a Sophomore at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, ranked the number one high school in the nation for the third year in a row by US News and World Report.  He’s not terribly talkative (He’s a teenager!), but I’m pretty sure he likes going there!  He admitted to particularly liking his Computer Science class last year, so this year he’s taking AP Computer Science.  We’ll see if that ends up being the area he specializes in.  (Seniors have to do a research project.)

 Josh is living at my parents’ house in Los Angeles, working for my brothers’ company, writing software that makes graphing calculators easier to use.  He’s proud of his work on Zoom Algebra 300 and Zoom Chemistry.  Now the calculators can do Algebra 2 problems, and show the steps, as well as balance chemical equations.  Check it out at www.zoommath.com.  On the side, he’s still writing screenplays.

 I’m still writing my website of book reviews, www.sonderbooks.com, and still enjoying blogging and connecting with old friends on Facebook.  This Fall, I had several book-related joyful moments: I got to meet my favorite author at the National Book Festival, got to attend a Kidlit Bloggers’ Conference, and got to take an online class on the Newbery Medal.

nbf1 

2010 has lots of uncertainty, but I am certain that God will still be looking after us and continuing to provide an abundance of joyful moments.

 Wishing you much Joy this Christmas,

 Sondy Eklund

Christmas Letter 2008

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

Merry Christmas!  I don’t have the physical addresses of all my online friends, so I’ll post a blog version of my Christmas letter.  First, my two fine sons smiling down on us:

MyBoys.jpg

2008 has been an eventful year for our family.  Last December, I finished my Master’s in Library and Information Science.  I got to march in graduation on my birthday in June, exactly 21 years from the day I marched for my Master’s in Math.

Closeup.jpg

By February, I was a full-time Children’s Librarian (okay, “Youth Services Manager”) at Herndon Fortnightly Library — the very closest public library to my home.

TimUniversal.jpg

Timothy is 14, and a Freshman in high school.  His big event of the year was being accepted to the local magnet high school, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology.  TJ was rated the Number One high school in the nation by US News & World Report.  It’s an amazing school, and we are so blessed that Tim gets to go there.  It’s a public school, so it’s free, and they even provide bus transportation.  His favorite class for first semester is Film Study, perhaps influenced by his brother.

JoshGraduating.jpg

Josh, at 20 years old, finished his Bachelor’s degree in Film from Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida.  We got to go see him graduate and visited some amusement parks while we were at it.  Now Josh is out in Los Angeles, staying with my parents, and looking for jobs in the film industry.  So far, he loves LA, particularly all the independent theaters.  Kind of funny — he’s near his birthplace (Anaheim), and I’m near mine (Washington, DC).  The circle of life?

SondyMD.jpg

I spent the year facing the “reality” that, like it or not, I’d be divorced this year.  About a week before our first court date in November, our lawyers finally reached an agreement.  A few days later, I learned that Steve had a dispute with his lawyer, would not sign the agreement, and was dropping the case!  (For now, anyway.)

So, we are still married.  And I have no idea what God is up to in our lives.  This is what I do know:

— God is good, and God is faithful.  He is filling my life with things to be joyful about.

— Being a “career woman” is fun!  I really do love being a children’s librarian.

— I love connecting people and books.  My website of book reviews, http://www.sonderbooks.com/, is going strong.

— I’m writing again!  And that also feels wonderful.  I have a book out there being considered by a publisher.

— I am part of a loving, caring community at Gateway Community Church.  New and old friends there have been my lifeline.

— Northern Virginia is beautiful!  I’m enjoying walking in the woods.  I still love taking pictures.

I’m afraid I spend a lot of time online!  I’ve gotten a real kick out of connecting with friends from all the different phases of my life via Facebook.

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=753450664&ref=profile

I’m enjoying posting on three blogs:

This one:  www.sonderbooks.com/sonderjourneys  A standard blog, musing about life.

www.sonderbooks.com/sonderquotes Quotes from all the great books I’m reading and things I’m learning.

www.sonderbooks.com/sonderblessings A little way to count my blessings and to remember to be joyful.

May you all have a blessed Christmas!

Wishing you much joy,

Sondy Eklund