22. Toddlers

Today I did a small storytime for toddlers.

The world is a better place because toddlers are in it.

Mind you, it’s extra fun to get to interact with toddlers when their own mothers are in the room.  And extra fun to get to read to them.

Sometimes I forget what a blessing my job is.

17. TechShop Programs at the Library

Today was the third of three programs that TechShop DC/Arlington has done for us at the City of Fairfax Regional Library.  There was a vinyl cutting program where the kids learned to create stickers on the vinyl cutter, Sphero Robotic Ball Racing where the kids made an obstacle course from cardboard and then ran the robot spheres through it, and today Computer Deconstruction where the TechShop folks brought in two old computers and lots of tools and showed the kids how to take them apart and how they work inside.

All of the programs were fantastic.  I’m jazzed that we were able to bring them to kids.

Today it delighted me to see the kids start out kind of reserved and holding back…Deconstruction1

But once the drill came out…


They got more and more engaged.


I simply loved seeing them get better and better at figuring out how to take each next layer apart.  They were having a fantastic time; they were feeling empowered; and they were discovering really cool stuff deep inside the computers!

Deconstruction3It was an awesome thing to watch!

15. Living Alone

Heron on the Housetop

Okay, I’ll admit it:  The last few days, maybe even few weeks (since I got back from visiting family on the west coast), I’ve had some bouts of the Empty Nest Blues.

My youngest son is doing a summer internship in Portland, Oregon this year.  He’s working at the same company my oldest works for.  He just turned 21.  He’s graduating after just one more semester; and he’s talking about moving back to Portland after he does.

On top of that, it seems lately I’ve gotten more than my share of bozos and scammers contacting me on the online dating site I’m on — all emphasizing that I’m living alone.

Mind you, my mind is fine with it.  I enjoy living alone!  But my heart is missing my kids, missing having a husband who’s in love with me, and, well, a little extra prone to the blues lately.

However — there are many, many wonderful things about living alone.  And I’m going to continue to go over and over those blessings in my mind — and hope the message will eventually get to my heart.

First, living alone is much, much better than living with a husband who actively dislikes me and is working to tear me down and explain why he can’t possibly live with me.  Enough said.

It’s amazing how much less time I have to spend on chores like cleaning and cooking and shopping.  I don’t have to clean up after anyone except myself!

I can play music I love as loud as I want and as long as I want.  No one is bothered a bit.

I can read as late as I want with the lights on.  No one is bothered a bit.

I can go to my gaming group every Friday night without finding out if anyone else wants to go and without feeling like I’m neglecting anyone.

I can jaunt off to the Smithsonian on a whim if I want to.

I can live in a smallish, cozy condo which I chose based on what I like (the view) and which has no yard work whatsoever.

I can be as active in my church as I wish to be — arrive early and leave late.  I’m not bothering anyone if I linger and talk.

I can spend lots of time working on my website, and again, I’m not bothering anyone by not spending time with them.  (See also less time doing chores and more time reading.)

I’m working on writing a book.  Again, spending time doing this doesn’t bother anyone.

I can do a jigsaw puzzle on the dining room table or coffee table, and it’s not in anyone’s way.

Groceries cost an impressive amount less.

I can have just as long a quiet time every day as I want.  I can memorize verses by reading them out loud — no one notices.

I can sing at the top of my lungs.

I can surround myself with things I love (meaning books, yarn, and games).

And… you know what?  I think it’s time to give my sister a call.  But I can do that, too!

Honestly, I’m telling my heart — there’s an up side….

Am I protesting too much?  No, these are indeed wonderful things.  And I really do believe that God loves me and is with me and looking after me.  I do not want to pray for patience in this season of life — I want to pray to enjoy it fully.

13. Castles of Mad King Ludwig

NeuschwansteinOkay, I told myself when I restarted this blog that I will focus on being grateful for present blessings.  However, this evening I played the game “Castles of Mad King Ludwig” — and that reminded me of several things I love.

First, I love playing games.  And I love that I have people in my life who also love playing games and that we can get together now and then to do it.  (These are different people than the regular Friday Night Gaming Group I was already thankful for.)

And it’s fun to win every now and then.  And that particular game is fun even if you don’t win, because you get to build a “castle.”  Which is a silly thing to be happy about, but it makes me happy.

And of course that also reminded me how much I love castles, and how blessed I am that I got to visit 167 of them while I lived in Germany, including some Castles of Mad King Ludwig.

It all just made me happy.  I have had and continue to have a wonderful life, with plenty of rather silly blessings.  Life is good.


11. Summer Reading

I’ll admit it — Summer isn’t my favorite time to work in the library, when it can be something of a madhouse.

But one thing I do like?  The look on kids’ faces when they bring in their completed list of 15 books they’ve read for the Summer Reading Program.  I like asking them which book was their favorite.  I like talking to them about books before the summer starts.  I like finding books for them they’ve heard about and want to read.

I’m glad I have a part in motivating ordinary kids — kids from every imaginable ethnicity and walk of life — to read during the summer.  And I am happy with them when they meet the goal and receive their prize.

10. Living Near DC

Smithsonian at Sunset

Yesterday, on a whim, I took the metro in to Washington, DC, and browsed the National Gallery of Art for a couple hours.

It was a symbolic thing to do for me.  Partly, it came from having read Madame Martine – a book where a lady lives in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, but never visits it because that’s for tourists.  Then a little dog she adopts runs away onto the elevator of the Eiffel Tower — and she discovers what she’s missing.

I only go into DC when I have visitors from out of town.  But why is that?

Also, when I lived in Germany, I did lots of Castling — visiting castles.  However, I only did it at the times when my husband was home to do it with me.  He traveled often with his job in the Air Force Band, so I figured if he was away, that gave me a break from Castling.  That worked out well — but it got me in the habit of not going to do cool things when I’m by myself.

Now I’m divorced; my kids are adults; I’m on my own and so far unsuccessful at finding a man to share my life with.

However, I got to thinking that I don’t want to wait to do things I think would be fun until I have a man in my life.  And, just maybe, that man wouldn’t think that browsing the National Gallery of Art was a super cool thing to do anyway!  This is my chance!

What’s more, the Smithsonian is free — It’s a national treasure, and it’s not that far away.

I want to be the kind of person who does cool things.

So I am happy with myself that yesterday I went to the National Gallery of Art!

8. My Gaming Group

I’m part of a group of 8 people who play Eurogames every Friday night.

Okay, everybody isn’t there every week, and tonight it was just two of us.  But most of us are there most weeks.  And I love doing it!

I never needed to find a gaming group — until my youngest son headed off to college.  Before that, I could always play at home — first with my brothers and sisters, then with my kids.

While we lived in Germany for ten years, I got super excited about Eurogames.  You can just buy fantastic games in Wal-Mart-type-stores in Germany!  One of my favorite activities before I realized I could find the translations on the Internet was practicing my German by translating game rules.

But first my husband left.  Then one by one, my sons moved out.  I didn’t have anyone to play games with.  Yes, I could have gone online.  But I already have solitaire puzzle games I play online.  The fun of board games and card games is playing with actual people.

So my co-worker invited me to a group that plays on Saturdays, and I finally got around to going.  Eventually an opening came up in the Friday night group.  I love it!  I really enjoy games and really enjoy playing them.  And it’s fun exercising my brain among smart people.  (They are mostly better than me at games, but I win just often enough to feel like I’m not deadweight.)  And, yes, it’s fun to be around men again.  (Only one of the other gamers is a woman.)  It reminds me of playing games with my brothers or my math brothers (fellow math majors in college).  Now that I work as a librarian, a field dominated by women, I don’t get that as much.

But, funny thing.  This summer, I got to play games with some of my brothers — and it reminded me of playing games with my gaming group!  So I feel like it’s an important part of my life now.

Bottom line, I’m so glad I have a regular outlet when I get to go play games with other people who enjoy it as much as I do.

6. My Job

I’m a Librarian, a Youth Services Manager — and I honestly think it’s the best job in the world!  Well, at least for me.

My job is full of meaning, and it’s fun.  What more can you ask for?

I touch lives.  I get to help kids get excited about reading.  I get to tell people about great books.  I get to help parents learn how to build early literacy skills and math skills in their kids.  I get to bring some great programs to our community.  I get to help people learn who *want* to learn.  I even help the homeless and the poor and new immigrants.  And I hear about fantastic books almost as soon as they are published.  And I get to hang out with other people who love books.  And I get to read books to small children.  And even talk about prime factorization now and then.