My Story Revisited

It was my turn to tell my story at my small group on Sunday. I didn’t want to tell the same story I told in church last year, mainly focused on my divorce and all I learned from that.

So – I focused more on growing up in a big family and growing up as a rule-follower in a conservative Christian family – basically becoming a Pharisee.

I’d been thinking about what to say for awhile. I didn’t, however, write it out ahead of time, as our small group leader suggested that we do. And when I was done, I was dissatisfied, even a little depressed. Because I talked about some hard things that happened to me, but I didn’t bring out all the good results.

So, now that it’s after the fact – I want to pull some things out of my story. What’s the important part? Not that I got hurt in certain specific ways, but that the person who I am today was shaped by the things that happened to me.

The approach I’m going to take is: Who am I? I’m going to pull out what feels true about me, and talk about how I know that from my story.

The things that follow may be in random order, but they feel true about me:

I’m a person who needs to live near some green. Something wild, or something beautiful in nature, or where you can walk in the woods, or near some rolling hills.

They asked why I was so upset to leave Kent, Washington, when I was a little kid and move to the Los Angeles area. As if it wasn’t obvious. And, apparently, it’s not. Apparently most other people can happily live where the sidewalks are a grid and you’d never ever see a deer run by (or a great blue heron).

Okay, living in a place like that didn’t really happen for me until I was 32 years old and we moved to Germany. And that is the big thing I loved, loved, loved about living in Germany – in the countryside. The view fed my soul. The walks in the woods. The deer running by. But that yearning for beauty in nature had already gotten into my heart in Kent. But I’ve gotten to live places like that for at least 20 years now. And now it’s a need.

Hmmm. I also love castles, too. But I pretty much have to do without that now.

This is also tied with loving to travel. I mostly like to travel to beautiful places – you know, places with castles! Or perhaps with forests or mountains or ocean….

And it’s tied with loving to take photos. A photo of a beautiful place I’ve been can pull me right back.

I need a little snow in my life.

When I was 4 years old and not in school yet, Seattle got a “big snow.” Ricky and Becky got to get out of school early and walk up the hill in the snow. We played in the snow and made snowmen. The next year, when I was in Kindergarten – the *only* time it snowed that year was a tiny bit of snow – while I was supposed to be taking a nap. Gone when I was allowed to go outside. I overheard our bus driver actually say she was glad we hadn’t gotten any snow! I vowed then and there never to be the kind of grown-up who didn’t like snow! I have pretty much kept that vow, though it’s challenged a bit when I have to drive in it. (But when I was an adjunct math instructor, a snow day was the only way I got paid time off – so I liked snow even more.)

This is, actually, closely tied to needing to live where there’s some green. I’m not a fan of heat or deserts or bright headache-inducing sun.

Christian music – and singing along – is important to me.

And, what do you know, it’s been important since I was 4 years old, dancing around the house and singing along to Little Marcy records.

Then singing hymns with my sister Becky with our little faces out the back windows of the van on vacations and all the way to church and back for years. Then A Capella Choir in high school and the Biola Chorale in college. The William Locke singers. Even the German-American choir. And still, music filling my home, and singing a hymn every morning while making breakfast.

I’ve read that affirmations are good for you. Well, I prefer to sing my affirmations. And put them straight into my heart.

I do love babies.

I’ve often said, if you catch a little girl when she’s eight years old and put her around a lot of babies, she’s always going to be confident taking care of them. I love babies.

I did, however, learn from my mother that just because you love babies doesn’t mean you have to give birth to them.

My own babies, though, were the most wonderful of all! And the two people who were once my babies are the two people I love most in all the world.

Loving babies is perfect, though, for being a children’s librarian.

I love reading. And I love reading to kids.

My Mom taught me to read when I was 3 years old. And I’ve always loved it. I remember her reading to me when I was small enough to fit on her lap. And I remember later reading to my younger siblings. And I remember the one-hour naps she made us take every day (when we were home) – and we could spend it reading instead of sleeping if we wanted to. I remember once I stayed in bed after the nap was over and spent 5 hours reading until I’d finished The Black Stallion Revolts. I also remember when my Mom made me go to bed awfully early (when I was still in elementary school but my older brother and sister weren’t), and I went into my walk-in closet and read books instead of going to bed. I remember reading Little Women that way and crying when Beth died.

I’m an introvert who loves attention.

I’m an introvert – so I love time to myself and time to read. Living alone actually feels like a luxurious privilege.

But – I’m from a big family and somewhat starved for attention. When someone actually notices me, listens to me, pays attention to my thoughts and feelings – that feels amazingly good.

I mentioned these things were in random order, right?

I love Jesus.

I remember my Mom being my Sunday School teacher when we lived in Kent and I was 3 or 4 years old. I played with flannel graph Bible story pieces. I believed it – and God has walked with me my whole life.

As early as junior high, I started doing the Bible Fellowship, a devotional system by mail that was fond of check charts. Then our high school youth group put a big emphasis on daily quiet times – and that’s still an important part of my daily routine. I spend some time reading the Bible, memorizing, reading some other books, and especially journaling about it. I think that’s an important part of keeping my eyes on what life is about.

I know an awful lot about the Bible.

My parents paid me to memorize Scripture. I love God’s word. I’ve memorized (a chapter at a time) all of the New Testament, Psalms, Proverbs, Isaiah, Hosea, and more. I also attended Christian schools from 3rd grade through college – Long Beach Brethren Elementary School, Brethren Junior/Senior High School, and Biola University.

Now, my memorizing Scripture meant that I didn’t swallow what people told me the Bible said easily. I can read it for myself. If you think the Bible supports your view, tell me where it says that, and I will consider for myself if I think that’s a valid interpretation. When political groups tried to say the Bible teaches what only one political party believes, I knew full well it was a load of hogwash.

My eyes were opened when I memorized John 9, where the Pharisees proved from Scripture (what they thought their Scriptures said) that Jesus was not from God — “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”

Since Jesus surprised the theologians of his day when he came the first time, who’s to say he’s not going to surprise everyone the second time? As C. S. Lewis says, “He’s not a tame lion.”

I believe that God will eventually save everyone.

I came to this belief as an adult, from reading the writings of George MacDonald. He obviously knew and loved the Bible, so how could he think this was true? Well, I searched the Scriptures (I began by reading the New Testament and looking for the words “all” and “every.”) – and I came to believe that this fits beautifully with the pervasive teaching of the Scriptures.

I still believe in hell – but not that it is unending. I’ve done some reading in many other books and learned that the word translated “eternal” in English is better translated “of the eons” – it means an indefinitely long time, but not necessarily unending. And – that fits with the overwhelmingly consistent message of Scripture that God loves everyone, while they are still sinners, that Jesus died for the whole world – and God’s punishment is to restore us. Nowhere does the Bible say that death is the deadline for coming to Christ. On the contrary, one day “Every knee will bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” And one day Christ will be all in all.

This belief changed my whole outlook. If God is really going to search for every lost sheep until they are found – then it cuts off my pride at the feet. Then my privilege of growing up in a Christian family and hearing of God’s love from an early age – is nothing to be proud of. It’s a responsibility to then grow to be loving like Christ. And that love reaches to everyone.

I believe God is personal, and God speaks, and God leads each person on their own path. I believe that God delights in His children and that He knows and loves us for being the quirky people He created us to be.

I learned more about that as God walked with me through my divorce and as I’ve connected with the people at Gateway Community Church here in Virginia.

I’m politically liberal.

This is not how I grew up. I think it came out of living in downtown Los Angeles as a young adult and then in Germany as an older adult. I saw some common sense things that worked really well there – better health care and much better social safety net (even “Kindergeld” – money for children!) and better gun laws. I felt safe to walk around outside at night. Also no billboards by the Autobahns and hiking trails everywhere.

Besides, Libraries are socialism done right! When communities invest in the good of the community (like libraries) – everyone benefits.

I’ve been tremendously blessed in my jobs.

Okay, the first job – MacDonald’s – was nothing special.

Working as a Student Programmer for Computer Services, programming for the university administration, was an awesome college job.

A teaching assistantship paid for grad school.

Turning around and teaching at Biola was a great way to start my adult life. They were good to me with maternity leave, too. And then I was able to get part-time adjunct math instructor jobs quickly when we moved to New Jersey and then Illinois.

I wasn’t *crazy* about teaching kids who didn’t want to learn math, but I learned to enjoy it – and it enabled me to spend most of my time with my kids and not put them into day care. Their dad took care of them while I was teaching – and that was fantastic for his relationship with them and his confidence as a father. Especially that first year when I was working full-time, so he was full-time with our baby.

I taught college math for ten years. It also enabled my husband to get an Associate’s degree in Computer Science (on top of his Bachelor’s in music) for a deep discount.

And then after we moved to Germany, I got a half-time job at the base library – and found my calling. I worked there for eight years.

When I came to Germany, while I was still taking library science classes, I got a part-time job at almost the closest library to my house.

When I finished my MLIS, I got a full-time job at the very closest library to my house.

The worst part was when I got RIF’d and had to work for the Office for Children for six months. But the good part of that was I still had a job – and it brought me to the regional library where I still work now and eventually got the Youth Services Manager position.

I am doing what I love and what I am called to do. I am blessed that way.

Let’s see. Also true about me:

I love telling people about good books.

I began my website of book reviews, Sonderbooks, in 2001 as an email newsletter. It’s still going strong, and now I’m on the Newbery committee as well.

I almost forgot to mention:

I love math.

I was a math major at Biola, got a Master’s in Math from UCLA, taught college math for ten years – and now make mathematical knitting projects, which delight me.

Tied with this, I love logic puzzles and playing Euro games (which is often like solving a puzzle).

It was a shock when my youngest went to college and I had to find people to play games with outside of my own home. Growing up, of course, that was never ever a problem. And I trained my kids to play games with me. Fortunately, I found some gaming groups and now get to play games most weeks. Intellectual stimulation plus getting to connect with friends – an all-round win.

I love to write.

Blogs and emails and book reviews are the main way this gets out now. I do have two books written – some day I’ll get published, though that’s on the back burner now that I’m on the Newbery committee. And I also write daily in my quiet time journal, writing out prayers to God about what’s going on.

I like to keep my friends.

I’ve been friends with Kathe and Darlene since 3rd grade and with Ruth since 7th grade. I love Facebook – because I get to hear about people who have touched my life, people I care about.

I wanted to keep my best-friend-that-was, my ex-husband, and tried to stand for my marriage for a very long time, but I did learn that you can’t keep a marriage by yourself.

I’ve talked about the divorce process elsewhere, and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever been through. But I’m still glad I married him. He was my best friend, and we became adults together. Being married to him meant I got to live in Europe for ten years and discover how much I loved working in a library – getting a job via Spouse Preference. And we adventured in Europe together for several years before things went sour. I loved his sense of humor, and he was a great dad to our kids – and even recently spent two weeks when our daughter had a crisis and I couldn’t be there.

Now, at this point I’m also thankful we’re divorced. I hope that a new life partner is in my future, because living with your best friend brings joy and challenges you to grow. But I have to admit I’m enjoying this interlude of living alone in a beautiful place with plenty of books to read.

I made this “Visual Mission Statement” a few years back. I think everything I said above is included in it somewhere.

So – it didn’t come out as a coherent “story,” but I hope this gives you an idea of who I am.

I guess I forgot this one:

I believe that God works all things together for good. I believe that Joy is the hallmark of the Christian.

That statement about Joy was something a Biola professor used to say. I think Joy is important. Because I believe it’s part of trusting God.

So that’s why I wanted to post this addendum to the story I told yesterday. That story (which I didn’t write out) focused too much on things that happened to me. I wanted to finish up by thinking about what it meant and who I am.

God is so good, and He has walked with me all my life.

Right now, my life is very happy and full. And I’m excited to find out what comes next!

Project 52 – Reflections

Last night I finished writing Project 52!

On my 52nd birthday, I began Project 52. Since there are 52 weeks in a year, each week I took one year of my life and blogged about it. Yes, at the end I got behind and took a little more than a year to finish, but right up until the end, each week I focused on the corresponding year of my life.

This year, I plan to read what I wrote the year before. That’s going to be a whole lot easier!

Coming to the end of this project, I’m full of thankfulness. And I want to reflect on some things that struck me while writing it.

The Big Lesson:

God has worked so many things out for good in my life.

It’s been lovely that I’m writing this from such a good place. I love my job. I love my home. I love my church. I’m surrounded by friends. And I am on the Newbery committee!!!!

In fact, a fun thing about the Newbery committee: It emphasizes that yes, I’m in a wonderful time in my life – but it’s not like that means I can sit back and relax and be smug about my great life. The Newbery committee is going to be an enormous amount of work! But the wonderful part is that it’s work I love to do and I’m so excited about.

But it makes it harder to get resentful about the hard turns my life took – when all those things brought me to this spacious place.

A smaller lesson:

This project was hugely therapeutic for thinking about my marriage, both good parts and bad parts, and letting it rest.

I had thought that when I told my story in church that it was the essential summary of my life.

But that summary was mostly about my divorce and how God spoke to me through that time.

And yes, Yes, YES, my divorce was a big deal in my life. It showed me, and made me feel on a heart level, that God would walk through life with me and guide me.

It showed me that if I asked God for guidance, He would answer.

Looking at those years helped me stop feeling guilty for all the times in my bewilderment when I didn’t respond well.

Looking at those years – and new ways God spoke to me while I was looking at them – helped me put to rest my doubts that I was inventing God’s guidance all along. Okay, I was wrong at points about what I thought God was going to do (bring my husband back to me), but the essential guidance (what I should do), telling me to wait – that was a good thing. Waiting to file for divorce was what it took for me to finally understand that my beloved husband had truly changed.

But my divorce wasn’t the only thing God worked out for good!

It was rather lovely to look back at the hard year when I got cut from the Herndon Fortnightly Library and how hard that was – knowing that it was what brought me to the City of Fairfax Regional Library and a higher-ranking position, reaching more kids.

The Selector job that I didn’t get, which I’d been hoping for years I would? Well, looking at it now, again, I’m reaching a lot more kids in my current position. I’m getting to keep up with the brand new books, and share them with kids. And I’m on the Newbery committee!!!!

Even not getting on the Newbery committee the first time I tried – This is a much better time to spend every spare minute reading. Being on the Newbery committee makes my Empty Nest an asset!

So it was nice to look back and remember some hard things – but get to see the big picture and that it did, in fact, work out for good.

After a year looking back over my life in great detail, how would I summarize who I am?

This won’t be the final word on it, but here are some random thoughts as they come to me:

I’m someone who loves the Lord. I believe He loves me and will actively give me guidance.

He’s my lifeline when things get hard. I believe in spending time in God’s Word daily. Memorizing Scripture gives me joy. As does listening to Christian music. Did I even mention in Project 52 how much I love to sing? (Living alone is perfect for singing loudly without bothering anyone!)

I’ve got an Empty Nest, but I’m crazy about my kids and super proud of them – my transgender daughter Jade and my adult son Tim.

I believe rather fiercely that being who God made you to be is a good thing and that human rights should include every human.

And talking with my kids brings a smile to my face and a light in my eyes.

My church friends are my local family. They are here for me when I need them, and they keep me smiling in between.

It’s great to have people in your life who you get to check in with every week. My small group does that and meets in my home.

And our church’s new Community Resource Center is almost completed! It’s going to be so exciting to watch our church grow!

I love being a librarian!

There are so many things I love about it! Getting to help people! Getting to help parents help their children learn and grow! Oh, and as a big sister (third of thirteen), I still love babies and young children – and get to enjoy them in my job without having to be responsible for them! (Perfect!) And:

I love spreading the word about good books!

Not only by being a librarian, but also my Sonderbooks website.

I love playing games!

Having a regular gaming group is a good thing for me. These folks keep my mind sharp and also keep me smiling.

I love creating mathematical knitting!

Check out my mathematical knitting gallery at Sonderknitting.

I love taking pictures of beautiful things!

Like flowers and lakes and birds and leaves and castles! There’s something about it that just brings me joy.

I’m a Writer.

Some day, I hope I’ll get published. But in the meantime, I’ll keep writing my website, with book reviews, with reflections on life in Sonderjourneys, quotes I love in Sonderquotes, and things I’m thankful for in Sonderblessings. I plan to be more active in all of those now that Project 52 is done!

I also have some regular and semi-regular email correspondents who I feel extra close to – because I’m a writer, and that’s how I like to talk and to think things through.

Ah! I already made a summary! It’s in this visual mission statement:

Yes, that’s what I’m about, what gives me joy, what makes me excited about what the rest of my life will hold.

My plan is to do a Project 65 and cover one year every four weeks for the years I’m 53 to 65. I’m hoping that one will be a love story! But I’m already excited about how it’s going to start out – with being on the Newbery committee!

And whatever happens, I’m excited to be alive and ever so thankful for the life I’ve been given.

Thank you for sharing in it, my friends!

Project 52, Week 52, Part Six – NEWBERY COMMITTEE!!!

It’s time for Project 52, Week 52!

53 weeks ago, on my 52nd birthday, I began Project 52. Since there are 52 weeks in a year, each week I took one year of my life and blogged about it. This week, I’m covering the year I was 52 — June 14, 2016, to June 14, 2017.

Yes, I said 53 weeks ago. Yes, I’m 53 now – and I’m behind on Project 52. But it dawned on me: I’m finishing later than I meant to – and that’s not actually a problem. So, it’s not exactly “Week” 52, but I’m still telling about the year I was 52.

So far I’ve covered my trip to California in July for my niece Megan’s wedding, my sister Becky’s visit in September, my reading retreat in Chincoteague, my walks around my lake with lovely leaves, and my holiday celebrations.

Now I’ve gotten to the start of 2017. As often happens after a year with a really good blizzard, it was not a snowy winter at all. Though we got some cold. In fact it seemed like last winter was a cycle of my lake freezing and thawing over and over again.

Anyway, on January 7, we got a little bit of snow. And birds were still visiting my under-neighbor’s bird feeder and hanging out in the treetops outside my window.

A little snow, anyway!

There wasn’t a lot of snow, but it did get super cold, so it stuck around. The next morning, there was a flock of geese sleeping on top of the ice.

Not so much snow, but still pretty in the morning light.

Three days later, the lake was still frozen. Something about geese walking on the frozen lake always captivates me (and cracks me up).

On January 11, my Sondy for Newbery! cards arrived! These are little business card-sized cards I ordered to pass out at ALA Midwinter Meeting. They give the link to, where I explain my qualifications. Only ALSC members – the Association for Library Services to Children – are the ones who vote on the members of the Newbery committee. Since they are scattered all over the country, the best way to get the word out is when they come together at ALA Midwinter Meeting. And this year, the day before the conference was going to be an ALSC Mini-institute, so an even better place to campaign.

Based on a discussion I’d had with a friend, I started a tiny habit of peeking through my shades at the sunrise in the morning and using it as a reminder of God’s love for me. (Now that it’s not winter, I peek at the morning sun, rather than the sunrise!) This one on January 15th was especially beautiful – and so was its reflection in the lake!

On January 19, I flew to ALA Midwinter Meeting in Atlanta! Kathe drove me to the airport, and I took the MARTA to my hotel. That first evening, I had dinner with my friend Susan Kusel and we had a good talk – mostly about the year she was on the Caldecott committee, which was the same year I’d been on the ballot for the Newbery committee the first time – but hadn’t gotten elected.

In the morning was the ALSC Mini-Institute, which turned out to be a fabulous day of meetings. (And a great networking/campaigning opportunity!) It started out with a breakfast featuring two husband-wife picture book collaborating teams: Kevin Henkes & Laura Dronzek, and Erin & Philip Stead.

I got a picture with Kevin Henkes while I was wearing a Kevin Henkes t-shirt!

The other institute sessions included talks on Early Literacy programs, a wonderfully entertaining lunch with Carmen Agra Deedy, and a closing session with Jacqueline Woodson. (It was Inauguration Day, so there was much talk about standing for what you believe.) That night, I made it to the opening of the Exhibits and the mad dash for Advance Reader Copies. I scored a copy of Thick as Thieves, by Megan Whalen Turner, the book that would have made the whole conference worth it even if nothing else had gone well.

The next morning, I went to an Author Panel and signing. I got another Advance Reader Copy I was super excited about – Real Friends, by Shannon Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham. And when LeUyen Pham signed it – she also drew a picture of the signee! So I have a picture of myself drawn by LeUyen Pham! That’s one ARC I will never get rid of!

That afternoon I did some thinking about doing art versus doing crafts. Here I am with a craft I made – not actually something I will treasure, though it was rather fun to make it.

On Saturday, I went to some Publisher Previews in the morning (more free books!), shipped some books, and went to a talk by Kwame Alexander in the afternoon.

I got a book signed by Kwame!

And Monday morning was, as always the highlight of ALA Midwinter Meeting, with the announcement of the Youth Media Award winners! There’s always the fun of trying to get up early and get in the line and talk with others about Newbery hopes, then getting into the auditorium and trying to find a good seat! This year the Newbery Medal was won by The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill (a fantasy novel! Yay!), and the Caldecott Medal winner was Radiant Child, by Javaka Steptoe. And John Lewis – in his hometown of Atlanta – set a new record by winning four Youth Media Awards with March, Book Three!

Of course, in the line and while waiting for the awards to begin was a wonderful time to let people know I was standing for the 2019 Newbery committee! I met some nice people and had some great conversations.

After the awards, I shipped some books and came back in time for the YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction and Morris Awards ceremony – where you always come away with some award-winning, signed books. This year, the awards were a John Lewis lovefest!

And after that, I made it to the closing session with Neil Patrick Harris, who is definitely entertaining.

When I got home and my shipped books got home, I’d only gotten 73 books at the conference – so I’d shown a whole lot of restraint!

Back home, the heron was again often eating breakfast the same time as me. I loved the way the rising sun lit him up.

On February 8, I saw a red-tailed hawk in a tree near my building.

Just for fun, after my walk I looked up the spirit animal “meaning” and got this nice passage:

“An overabundance of red-tailed hawk spirit animals in our lives can mean that our prayers are being answered… the answers are being brought to us on hawk’s wings. What are you wishing for right now? What are your dreams? Are you able to recognize the gifts being brought to you and the doors open before you?”

Hey, if it works!

Some pretty skies also fit with a verse I was reading in my quiet time from Psalm 103: “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him.”

One morning, when I peeked out at the sunrise, I saw the heron right outside my window!

And the heron still often showed up at breakfast.

On February 15, I picked my Dad up from Dulles airport for a NASA workshop in DC the next day. I took him to the metro and picked him up, and we had dinner. It was great to see him! And how much fun to see him excited about how the things he heard fit with his theory – and who at NASA he could give corrections to. He made some good contacts. He’s already highly respected in his field of GPS navigation. In fact, he told me early the next morning that he’d woken up in the night thinking about a calculation. That’s my Dad!

On President’s Day, I took my usual walk around my lake, and saw two herons at the same time! This is unusual.

First, some geese.

This one let me get pretty close.

I loved the way the light shone on him.

There was another heron on the other end of the lake.

This one didn’t tolerate me snapping pictures for long!

Here’s another beautiful sunrise. By this time, I was spending more and more time writing Project 52. I’d gotten into the years we were in Europe and started having lots of pictures to post.

Another day off, another heron at the lake.

And on February 26, I told my story in church. It was framed as how God had used His Word in my life. I mostly talked about my divorce and how God spoke to me through those hard times.

What blew me away was the number of people who said my story made them cry! Even Pastor Ed had a tear in his eye! This really surprised me! I managed to keep it together myself. I lined up my friend Marilynn and John and Lisa Maulella (from my small group a few years ago) to smile at me while I was speaking! People were really supportive afterward.

It was nice to write up a summary of my story before I got to the hard years in Project 52. That way, I was able to keep a focus of looking at what God was doing during those hard years. But I did start talking about the divorce years in March – and was a lot more weepy during church for awhile!

Here’s the heron again, this time from my balcony.

And for variety, on February 28, I saw a deer on my walk!

On March 3rd, I went to a movie by myself for the first time in my life! I went to see Hidden Figures about African-American female mathematicians who were instrumental in getting men to the moon. I loved it and ordered the book when I got home.

The heron continued to eat breakfast the same time as me!

And on March 6, there was a heron out my window when I got up and peeked out at the sunrise.

There’s a fun note that day about Crazy 8s math club. It’s for Kindergarten to 2nd grade, but I’d been letting a couple moms bring younger sisters with their older siblings. On that day, Mickey’s Mom told me that 4-year-old Bailey thinks of herself as “a math girl” and that I changed her life! Wow! That warmed my heart!

And on March 11, I finished Tim’s Coded Blessing Blanket! When he moved to Portland, I’d asked him if I could knit him anything, and he suggested a “stunt double” for Blue Blankie, the blanket I’d knitted him when I was pregnant with him, but in purple. I made one using the same pattern – but this time I coded in some blessings, using a base 5 code. (Explained in the link.) It was soft, and it was a whole lot of fun to knit a blankie for my little boy who’d gone and grown up and moved away! Lots of love in that blanket!

Then, on March 14, we finally got some snow! Okay, they didn’t close the library, but there was so much ice out there, I took unscheduled leave and got myself a snow day.

You can see it was a good bit of snow!

The flakes were big enough, you can see them in this picture.

And I took this one to show how much ice was on the road.

Spring had already started before this cold snap. I liked the juxtaposition of blossoms with snow behind them.

The sun came out in the late afternoon!

It made for a lovely sunset.

And on that snow day, I also voted for myself for the 2019 Newbery Committee!!! Yes, ALA online voting had opened up – continuing until April 5th. I’d find out the results on April 12. I was on edge that month!

The next morning, the sun rising on the snow was beautiful.

On March 17, I had another day off. The snow was melting by then, but still made some pretty patterns.

I was happy I’d gotten one snow day, but it was really time for Spring, so I welcomed these robins.

There was still enough snow in spots for some snow shadows.

And cardinals still hung out awhile longer.

But Springtime did come early this year. On March 29, I had a late day, but got in a walk and pictures of blossoms before work.

And I’d started in on writing about the hard years for Project 52. I talked with a lot of friends while I was in the middle of those weeks. It ended up being hugely helpful to have a fresh perspective. I was able to see God’s hand in my life all the more clearly. And I was able to have compassion on my younger self. She was so bewildered, but trying so very hard! In fact, I wrote a letter to Younger Sondy that expressed some of that.

In fact, on April 1st, our church showed the movie “War Room” to a group of church women. It’s a movie about prayer – but in the context of a failing marriage. Yes, it was hard to watch – because things worked out for the woman in the movie, and how I wished it had happened that way for me.

Here’s what I prayed the next day:

I saw War Room last night.
And I’m sad You didn’t answer my prayers like hers in the movie.
But You did answer my prayers.
And You did walk with me.
And You were faithful.
And You are good.
And I want to proclaim that.
And I do want to mentor other women going through it.

One of the nice parts about writing Project 52 this year – I can see that God has brought me to a spacious place! Literally! On April 5th, I was thinking about Psalm 118:5 – “When I was in distress, I sought the Lord, and he brought me to a spacious place.” Then I got some extra close-up shots of the heron that day.

And the blossoms were still out!

On April 9th, after church I did my annual Bluebell Walk at Bull Run Regional Park.

And a full moon out my window that evening:

And April 12 was the day I would find out the results of the ALA election! They were going to count in Chicago, then notify me by email. So once it got decently late in Chicago, I started checking my email a lot! But I did have another Breakout EDU program that afternoon, which was nicely distracting – and away from my computer!

They broke out!

After the program, I went straight to my computer. My hands were shaking so much, I almost couldn’t log on. I managed to check my email. There was something from ALSC.


Yes, I did some screaming and jumping up and down.

What does this mean? Well, I will be reading every American children’s book published in 2018 that I possibly can. Then I’ll be joining 14 other committee members to choose the most distinguished of these books to award the Newbery Medal.

I am super excited about this! Could you tell?

There was still a bit of Spring left.

Another morning view of the heron.

And another wonderful sunrise, reminding me of God’s love.

On April 21, after Capitol Choices, I went to Meadowlark Gardens with Kathe.

At the start of May, I took a week off work for a “personal spiritual retreat.” I want to make it an annual thing. Some year, I’d like to go somewhere to do it – this year, I admit I included a lot of errands that going away would have prevented. But I did have a nice time.

And this silly goose on the housetop across from me entertained me one morning!

I visited my friend Nancy from my small group on her property out in the country. She gave me a ride on her ATV around her property!

And we put out some corn for deer!

On my retreat, I’d just finished writing about the worst of the years of my marriage falling apart. I felt like God gave me the verses Song of Songs 2:10-12 —

My beloved spoke and said to me,
“Arise, my darling,
my beautiful one, come with me.
See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
Flowers appear on earth;
the season of singing has come.”

So be it, Lord!

Also that day, I finished knitting myself a second normal distribution scarf. This one was the complement of the one I’d posted about.

I take numbers from a bell-shaped curve. More common numbers in the middle of the curve get dark colors of yarn, gradually getting lighter. Numbers that are outliers get white yarn. Here’s how it turned out:

And here it is with the earlier scarf I’d knitted using the same yarns and the same method – only with the first scarf, I used light colors for the middle of the curve and dark yarn for the outliers. I accidentally knitted the second one way too long, but it will be warm and cozy when winter comes around.

And I got another Stitch Fix outfit. I wasn’t sure I didn’t look like a clown in pink pants and polka dots, but people told me it looks good! If a stylist picked it out, it must be stylish, right?

In May, I got to attend my friend Paul’s wedding celebration with Sharyn! It was a very small service, so it was a treat to be included. This was the first time I’ve ever played games at a wedding reception. It was completely appropriate at Paul’s!

We had some families of goslings this Spring. First, I saw them on a walk.

Then at the start of June, I saw the little family of three goslings settling down for the night right outside my window.

But when they seemed settled, another family of goslings came by – this one with a full dozen babies!

This family wasn’t settling down, in fact, I think those goslings were partying!

Funny thing, but the first little family of goslings didn’t seem nearly so sleepy after these ones showed up!

On June 9, a mysterious package showed up on my doorstep, covered with FRAGILE stickers. It was super heavy! What could it be?

The return address was Amazon. I knew it must be a birthday gift, so maybe if I opened it, there’d be a notification of who it was from.

When I opened the outside box, there was another box inside, encased in bubble wrap.

When I opened the second box, I laughed out loud because I knew exactly who it was from! It was a 12-pack of Blenheim super-spicy ginger ale!

How did I know who it was from? Well, my son Tim is the only person on earth who knew that I love Blenheim super-hot ginger ale! I used to get it every single time we had lunch or dinner at the Cheese Shop in Williamsburg when I took him to William & Mary or picked him up.

I called Tim to thank him, and we had a lovely talk. It was such a delightful gift! I love the way he was the only one who could have given it to me.

(The only sad thing is that now as I’m writing about it – there is no more ginger ale left! Alas! Writing about it makes me thirsty.)

And on Sunday, June 11, after we met my small group sang Happy Birthday and had cards for me. Debbie Schmidt got me personalized bookmarks – the perfect gift for the year I’ll be doing Newbery reading!

And then my gaming group surprised me with cake and gifts! This meant a lot. I feel like I got away with something becoming friends with them. I joined them when I was dating John, and they took me in and became my good friends even though I stopped dating John after only two months. Now it’s been three years, and they are among my best friends – just from meeting together and playing games almost every week. (I also love it that I’m still friends with John. I still say that was a big win for OKCupid, even though we’re not destined to be a couple.)

On my birthday, I took the day off. The day before and the day after, I was booktalking in local schools, talking about the summer reading program and good books – so I needed the break.

I spent a lot of the day working on Project 52. I’d hoped to finish on my birthday, but instead finished Week 51. Oh well! At least I’d gotten through the whole year before I got behind!

But I also went with Kathe and Darlene to see the movie Wonder Woman! It seemed like the perfect birthday activity!

We had a whole lot of fun and went out to eat afterward. For anyone who’s read Project 52, you know that Kathe and Darlene have sure been a consistent presence in my life!

And my sister Wendy sent flowers from Maui, where she lives!

So – that pretty much covers my first 52 years of life!

And some of you know – this is actually the second time I wrote this last post. The first time, 90% of the post disappeared after I’d published it, but was trying to make a tiny change in one of the last lines. When I hit Update – it was swallowed into the void. So this time, I have backup!

The first time, I wrote a reflection at the end, but I think this time around, I’ll save that for its own post.

Good night! Thank you for being interested in my life!

Project 52, Week 52, Part Five – A Joyful Life

It’s time for Project 52, Week 52!

53 weeks ago, on my 52nd birthday, I began Project 52. Since there are 52 weeks in a year, each week I took one year of my life and blogged about it. This week, I’m covering the year I was 52 — June 14, 2016, to June 14, 2017.

Yes, I said 53 weeks ago. Yes, I’m 53 now – and on the next-to-last week of Project 52, I got behind. But it dawned on me: I’m finishing later than I meant to – and that’s not actually a problem. So, it’s not exactly “Week” 52, but I’m still telling about the year I was 52.

So far I’ve covered my trip to California in July for my niece Megan’s wedding, my sister Becky’s visit in September, my reading retreat in Chincoteague, and my walks around my lake with lovely leaves.

I didn’t mention last time that the day after the presidential election was when ALSC (The Association for Library Service to Children) announced the slate of candidates for the election in March – and I was officially on the ballot for the Newbery committee! So now I could mention it online! I made a page on my website to make my case that people should vote for me.

I did mention that my small group was going through a book about Joy, Champagne for the Soul, by Mike Mason. Going through that book really did help make that a joyful season of my life. In fact, I wrote a Sonderblessings post about a quotation from the book I especially liked: “Waiting, it turns out, is a joyful activity in itself.” Yes!

And I was still especially enjoying my job. In Crazy 8s Math Club, for example, we did some flinging marshmallows and measuring how far they went.

And the year I was 52 – was the year I was writing Project 52! By November, I’d gotten to writing about the time when I was happily married, which had its own hard things. Let’s just say it was good that I was going through a study about Joy. Though I started making a habit of crying in church again! That hadn’t happened in awhile.

About that time, I got a hard note from my transgender daughter Jade. A transgender friend of some of her friends committed suicide – and Trump supporters were rejoicing on Facebook about it. (And declaring themselves as Trump supporters.) Not to make it all about me (except that Project 52 is about me), Jade concluded her email with “There are a lot of things that I wish were different, but I am thankful that you see me, and know me, and believe me. A lot of us don’t have that. It is precious, and vital.” Wow, did that ever comfort me.

Jade did not turn out anything like I expected, but I couldn’t be prouder of her. She is that same amazing, brilliant, beautiful child I’ve known all my life – I always, always knew she wasn’t ordinary, at any rate. She’s bigger than any box I could ever try to put her in. She was a radiant child, and now she shines as an adult.

But I do hope that our culture and our country will learn to accept people like Jade. I’ve had some family and friends say things I won’t even repeat here, who think they know better than Jade does who she is. Anyway, with both my kids now in Portland, Oregon, I’m learning to let them live their lives without me interfering – but every good thing I hear about them gives me great Joy.

For Thanksgiving, I had several people check to make sure I wasn’t spending it alone – and the first one who asked was Kathe, and I spent the day with her family at her Mom’s house. It was truly lovely. I’ve known Kathe’s Mom as long as I’ve known Kathe, and have had some good talks with her over the years. Kathe’s sister Carole and her family were there, too. We went for a walk and played games, and it definitely felt like being with family.

Kathe and I took a Selfie:

The rest of the holiday weekend, I was alone. Unfortunately, I had a headache, but since most of what I planned to do was read, I was still able to do that.

And on Sunday, my gaming group decided to do an Escape Room instead! It was a whole lot of fun, and good preparation for the Breakout EDU programs I was planning to do at the library.

Here’s our motley crew before and after successfully escaping:

Here’s a beautiful sunrise that happened on December 7th. (Pictures taken out my window.) I still love my beautiful home! That’s getting to be a theme.

Oh, I love this quotation from Champagne for the Soul: “Joy, overlooking all the good reasons for pessimism, throws a big party over one lonely flower, one bird call, one child’s smile, one earth-shattering change in a human heart.” I think my neighbor underneath me put up a bird feeder about this time, and I started seeing lots and lots of cardinals and blue jays. This one came right onto my balcony!

On December 17th, I went to the wedding of a friend’s daughter. It was lovely! And I got another selfie with Kathe!

I had a good time with Kathe and Darlene at the wedding, but I did go home and have a good cry – because I remembered saying those vows and meaning them.

But more cardinals came by!

We had some great programs planned for kids during their Christmas break! First was Computer Deconstruction – taking apart computers and other electronics. It’s always fun to see the kids gaining confidence as they go.

The next day, we did our first Breakout EDU program – like an Escape Room, but with a locked box instead of a locked room. The kids try to solve the clues to unlock the box, working as a group.

They did it! They broke out!

And after that program on the 22nd, I had a long weekend off for Christmas.

The 23rd began with a beautiful sunrise:

And a walk by my lake with lots of geese to watch:

That evening, I went to see Star Wars: Rogue One with my friend John. I enjoyed it a lot.

Christmas Eve also had a nice walk and cardinals out my window:

That evening was the Christmas Eve service at church, then out to dinner with the Showers family (my small group leaders) and Amber, another friend from our small group. I’d decided that it would be nice to socialize on Christmas Eve, but I’d like a cozy Christmas at home.

So on Christmas I had a lovely quiet day at home. I walked by my lake, and the great blue heron showed up.

Here’s a t-shirt that my sister Melanie sent me!

And after Christmas, we finished choosing our Finalists for the 2016 Cybils in Young Adult Speculative Fiction. I’d tremendously enjoyed the reading I’d done for it – warm-up for Newbery reading!

I ended up the year with a cold, so I skipped the New Year’s Eve party I planned to go to. But I had more time to read and think and write Project 52 and enjoy my beautiful home.

And once again, it’s getting late, so I’m going to stop there for now.

Project 52, Week 52, Part Four – Lots of Lovely Leaves

It’s time for Project 52, Week 52!

52 weeks ago, on my 52nd birthday, I began Project 52. Since there are 52 weeks in a year, each week I took one year of my life and blogged about it. This week, I’m covering the year I was 52 — June 14, 2016, to June 14, 2017.

So, yes, I am now 53 years old – time to tell about that last year!

So far I’ve covered my trip to California in July for my niece Megan’s wedding, my sister Becky’s visit in September, and my reading retreat in Chincoteague.

That Fall, I was a panelist for the Cybil Awards, in the category of Young Adult Speculative Fiction, so I had lots of reading to do – reading that I was thoroughly enjoying! But I still took time to take pictures of the beautiful leaves by my lake.

I’d bought souvenir t-shirts on Assateague and Chincoteague, so I took selfies the first time I got a chance to wear them.

I had a Truly Empty Nest at that time, with both my daughter Jade and my son Tim now living in Portland, Oregon. But that Fall, my small group was going through the book Champagne for the Soul, by Mike Mason. It’s a book about Joy and looking for Joy. Looking through my quiet time journal, I found this quote from it: “Joy, like love, banishes loneliness.” Yes! I was finding a lot of Joy from the reading I was doing, from getting to take beautiful pictures, and from reliving some joyful years of my life while writing Project 52.

Here’s a Sonderblessings post I wrote at that time about Leaves as Lucky Pennies and finding Joy.

And so, I’m afraid, I have more Leaf Pictures to show. But remember, they brought me Joy!

I was walking among the leaves every day for awhile. Those were from November 2nd. (I took sick leave because of a neurology appointment. My vertebral artery was doing fine.) November 3rd was a late work day, so I went for a walk in the morning.

November 4th was my day off. I took a nice long photo walk. The leaves were starting to come down, but they were still so pretty!

That afternoon, I read on my balcony – and kept pausing to gasp at how beautiful the yellow tree was! I’d stop to take pictures, too. (Surprise! Surprise!) They don’t capture how brightly it was glowing.

Such luxury to lounge on my balcony for my reading!

And one of the most wonderful things about reading on my balcony is listening to the bird song and being among the treetops with the birds.

On November 6th, Daylight Savings Time ended, so I woke up early enough to take a walk before church.

The heron showed up.

On November 7th, the great blue heron decided to eat breakfast the same time as me. When I opened my shades in the morning, there he was!

The leaves were glowing gorgeously in the rising sun, too.

And November 7 was the day that our branch did a kick-off of the 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program – and our local county channel interviewed me! I was happy with the way they edited the segment – taking out all my stumbling. You can view my interview on my Sonderblessings blog.

There were more glowing leaves and a beautiful fog on the lake on the morning of November 8. I got up early to vote before work. Alas! My hopes were high, but got dashed.

And we made a voting booth for kids at the library! (I should say, other staff did.)

On November 10th, the heron again had breakfast the same time as I did.

And I got another morning walk in before working late. Despite the disappointment with the election, it was still fairly easy to find joyful moments now that I was looking.

On Veteran’s Day, the great blue heron showed up out my window at breakfast for the 5th consecutive day.

I was catching a cold, so I spent most of that long weekend indoors reading, but on Veteran’s Day, I went for my last walk with Autumn leaves for 2016.

The end of Autumn seems like a good place to stop for the night. I know I went overboard on pictures, but hey, those Autumn leaves brought me a lot of joy.

Project 52, Week 52, Part Three – Reading, Reading – and Lots of Ponies!

It’s time for Project 52, Week 52!

52 weeks ago, on my 52nd birthday, I began Project 52. Since there are 52 weeks in a year, each week I took one year of my life and blogged about it. This week, I’m covering the year I was 52 — June 14, 2016, to June 14, 2017.

So, yes, I am now 53 years old – and it’s time to finish up Project 52!

So far I’ve covered my trip to California in July for my niece Megan’s wedding, my son Tim moving to Portland, Oregon, in August, and my sister Becky’s visit in September.

That Fall I was a Cybils panelist in the category of Young Adult Speculative Fiction – so I needed to spend LOTS of time reading.

And on October 1st, we learned that Gary Goodson would be our new Assistant Branch Manager – my new supervisor. Gary, like Laura, our branch manager, had worked at our branch before, at a lower level. So it was nice again having someone come in we knew and liked. Something about having worked with them before – both Laura and Gary ask my opinion often, and really want to hear my ideas – and that makes for a great work atmosphere. I’m super happy with my job these days.

And October brought leaves changing color, which this southern California girl always sees as a dazzling miracle.

As usual, on Columbus Day I especially enjoyed the leaves:

And later in October:

These are the trees outside my window.

The heron was a lot more striking when he decided to perch on the top of buildings.

Because I needed to get so much reading done, I decided to take a Reading Retreat. I got a Groupon deal and booked two nights at Waterside Inn on Chincoteague. I took a Monday off, for at least one solid day’s reading. My plan was to read out on the balcony!

I drove to Chincoteague on Saturday, October 22. But I still took my walk by my lake in the morning before I left. It was still beautiful.

It was a glorious day for a drive! I snapped this while waiting at a light in Centreville. (I must have stopped at the post office to send Tim some of his stuff.)

The drive was wonderful. Lots of Fall Color. I sang most of the way there. I arrived at Waterside Inn just in time to go out on my balcony and catch the gorgeous sunset over the water.

The balcony was cozy and perfect for reading. In fact, I was reading in between taking those sunset shots.

But eventually, I had to come in. I was dressed for some cozy reading! You can see some of the nice room behind me.

So I read until bedtime, then in the morning had breakfast and then went out on the balcony and read all morning. It was cold – but I was able to bundle up and still turn pages with gloves on. It was so beautiful, with the wind blowing off the water – it was totally worth it!

I read all morning until I finished the book I had started. It was a good one! (Learning to Swear in America) I needed to have lunch, so I found a place that looked promising in town on Chincoteague and had some crabcakes. And yes, I read while eating!

I wanted to go to Assateague Island, though, so that’s where I went after lunch, and I spent the afternoon.

Driving onto the island, I saw several cars stopped by the side of the road, and when I saw all these egrets, I joined them.

I made it out to the beach on the other side of Assateague Island.

There were even more egrets flocked by the roadside as I left the beach.

So many egrets! It blew my little mind.

This next picture always makes me think of the caption, “Can I play?”

Then I drove on a loop trail around a marsh in the middle of the island.

That’s a heron or egret flying:

I wrapped up my time on Assateague that day with a short hike to the lighthouse.

And I got back to Waterside Inn in time for sunset, which wasn’t as spectacular that night, but was still beautiful.

And I was reading in between taking pictures!

Lots and lots of birds flying around, too.

I began another book that night. In the morning, I read on the balcony until check-out time at 11:00.

It was so lovely to look up and see birds soaring on the wind over the water.

After I checked out, I decided to go spend a few hours on Assateague Island before I headed home.

I saw people stopped by the road and saw these egrets.

And then I saw my first wild ponies!

I caught a heron fishing!

And I love the way this egret glows!

I got back in the car, and went to the Woodland Trail, where I hiked to a place with a “Pony Overlook” where ponies sometimes come. As I was walking this boardwalk to the Pony Overlook, an older couple passed me, going back, and told me there were some ponies in the pasture.

Yes! There were some ponies!

Here’s the Pony Overlook:

I stayed there for more than an hour (my phone wasn’t charged, so I don’t know how long) – just me and the ponies. No human joined me. The ponies slowly made their way closer to me. And I took a million pictures. Here are a small fraction.

You have to imagine a cool, breezy, sunny day – I’m out watching a dozen wild ponies. It was amazing.

And then a foal came out and ran after its mother!

The baby hid behind its mother.

They started slowly moving away on the other side of the field.

I tore myself away and continued my hike, taking a trail that split off the main loop and went to the coast of the island.

When I got back to my car, there were egrets perched in the field in front of my car.

How many egrets can you spot?

I took a look at the beach again before I left.

On the way off Assateague, I saw cars stopped the same place I’d stopped in the morning. Again, I could see ponies and egrets from that spot, but this time the ponies were a little closer to the road.

By this time it was Monday afternoon, so I did hit rush hour traffic coming home.

So, that was my Reading Retreat. As reading time went? Well, I would have gotten more done if I had stayed home, but I did finish three books and read 2000 pages. It might have been smart to stay at least one more night so that driving wouldn’t have been a large proportion of my time.

If I want to do a Reading Retreat, it might be a good idea to go to a less interesting place.

But reading out on that balcony with the breezes blowing and waves lapping was incredibly wonderful.

And as a Retreat? It was one of the most soul-feeding vacations I’ve ever experienced. That hour (or more) out in the field, just me and a dozen wild ponies, was amazing and awe-inspiring.

And now I’ve been to Chincoteague Island and Assateague Island and I’ve seen the Chincoteague ponies!

I’m going to have to think of some variation of this retreat when I’m reading for the Newbery Medal.

And, once again, it’s so late, I need to stop there. I’m almost to the end of Project 52… but not yet.

Project 52, Week 52, Part Two – Truly Empty Nest

It’s time for Project 52, Week 52!

52 weeks ago, on my 52nd birthday, I began Project 52. Since there are 52 weeks in a year, each week I took one year of my life and blogged about it. This week, I’m covering the year I was 52 — June 14, 2016, to June 14, 2017.

So, yes, I am now 53 years old – and it’s time to finish up Project 52!

Last time, I got through the one big trip of the year I was 52 – a trip to California in July for my niece Megan’s wedding.

I got back to Virginia on August 2nd, and was back to work (at least working the late shift) on August 3rd.

Working the late shift, I always tried to get in a morning walk around my lake.

Friday August 5th was 10 years from the day we moved to Virginia. Tim and I played a game of Dominion after work, and he went to see a movie with a friend. On Saturday, I made vegetarian lasagna for my last meal with Tim, and butterscotch brownies for him to take on the plane. We played a last game of Dominion. I didn’t even write down who won! (So it was probably Tim!) I did write down, “My heart is very full.”

I took Tim to the airport to fly to Portland early on August 7, 2016. I went to church later and asked for a hug from everyone I saw. I did have the Dominion gaming group later that day, which was nicely distracting.

I finished knitting my own Normal Distribution Scarf on August 12.

Now, before Tim left, I told him that I didn’t have any more new nieces to knit for – could he think of something I could knit for him?

He answered that Blue Blankie could use a stunt double.

This warmed my heart completely – Blue Blankie is the blanket I knitted for him when I was pregnant with him and gave to him every time I fed him so that he’d love it! It worked! He brought Blue Blankie to the dorm – but Blue Blankie was falling apart, and was faded and worn and scruffy.

So – I made a plan to knit a Blessing Blanket as I had done for my niece Alyssa. The pattern I’d used for Alyssa’s blanket was the exact same one I’d used to knit Blue Blankie. But there are some small panels throughout the blanket – and that was where I placed the coded message, using a base 5 code and 5 different stitches.

Tim said that this time, he’d like a blanket in shades of purple. I also knew he liked fuzzy yarn. Well, I found the perfect yarn – fuzzy, soft cotton in shades of purple. I made a swatch right away!

And that August, based on a book I was reading, Champagne for the Soul, recommended by my sister Becky, I decided to try a 90-day experiment in Joy – looking for things to be joyful about for 90 days. However, my experiment ended up lasting longer than 90 days, because I recommended the book to my small group, and we all ended up going through the book together – ending at the end of the year.

The result is that thinking about the last part of 2016 feels extra joyful to me – even though I was feeling a lot of sadness because of Tim moving to Portland.

Remember, though, that it was only a few months earlier that I’d applied for a job in Eugene, Oregon – and I really felt that not getting the job was a sign from God that this is where he has me for awhile. That August, I decided I had a theme going of Quiet Beautiful Things – a whole lot of small things in my life to be joyful about.

In fact, I made a list in an email to a friend when I was talking myself out of the Empty Nest Blues:

Anyway, I’m excited about a bunch of Quiet, Beautiful Things.

I’m excited about teaching kids Scratch programming at Maker Camp tomorrow — by helping them mess around and *play* with it.

I’m excited about the Deconstruction program TechShop is doing on Wednesday — more learning through *play* and curiosity.  (It was from going to previous TechShop Deconstruction programs that I became brave enough to take apart my film scanner — and fix it!  And I *love* seeing the kids gain confidence and curiosity as they take things apart at this program.)

I’m excited about finishing my Normal Distribution Scarf and eventually making another opposite one.  🙂

I’m excited about knitting a Coded Blessing Blankie for Tim.  🙂

I’m excited about having more time to post reviews and catch up my site, sharing great books with people.

I’m excited about starting up Storytimes in the park in September.

I’m excited about working with my new hire and encouraging her to grow in her work and promote.

I’m excited about the possibility of getting on the Newbery ballot again.  Or maybe being a Cybils judge again.  Or at the very least participating in Capitol Choices.

I’m excited that my sister’s coming to visit next month.

I’m excited that I get to play games with friends today.

I’m excited that I get to play games this week with my friend Paul who doesn’t work with me any more and our other former coworker James.

And there’s lots more.  And they’re little, quiet things.  Quiet Beautiful Things that make me happy.

And here are a couple more pictures from lake walks in August.

Here’s an osprey that perched on the building across from mine:

But that TechShop Computer Deconstruction program I was excited about? TechShop didn’t show! So – Amanda and I ran it ourselves. I’d seen them do it twice before, and we’d gathered the materials – so we did it anyway, and it was awesome! I was very proud of us for rolling with it with fifteen minutes’ notice!

Toward the end of August, I was again thinking about online dating. This time, I was thinking about paying to go on eHarmony for six months. But it was expensive. Should I do it? Well, I decided not yet, anyway.

On August 31st, my staff and I did a Back to School Fair at Lanier Middle School. What was funny about it was that in Project 52, I had just written about being in 7th grade. Watching the kids, I realized that ALL middle school kids are awkward in some way or other – but from this side of 50, it’s really sweet!

Here’s Amanda at our table. We gave out duckies, which they weren’t too cool to enjoy.

And on September 1st, I got my first Stitch Fix! It’s a clothes-shopping service. I thought that I’m kind of in a rut, and I don’t have a clue what’s fashionable – so I thought I’d see what they’d send. The first “Fix” worked out pretty nice!

(The scarf was already mine – I wore it because the top was too low-cut for stooping at work. Later I got a camisole that did the trick.)

While I was taking selfies, I also took one in my Driven to Read pigeon shirt!

And modeling my Pascal’s Triangle Shawl:

Now it was getting into September. Some other nice pictures from walks by my lake:

Then on September 4th, something significant happened when one of our lay preachers was preaching a sermon on David and Saul (part of a summer series on David that was finishing up). I’ll attempt to explain it using an email I sent to Bill, the man who preached the sermon (slightly edited):

I thought it would be cool for you to hear how God used your words. 

The long part of the story is all the background.  I don’t know how much you know, Bill, but when I came to Gateway 10 years ago, I was still “standing for my marriage” and trying to pray my husband back.

I was convinced that God was telling me my husband Steve would have a change of heart and come back.  (He totally turned away from God and the church the same time he left me and had an affair.)

The main verse I thought God gave me for Steve was, yes, one you used in the sermon yesterday.

Isaiah 55:4 —
“See, I have made him a witness to the peoples,
a leader and commander of the peoples.”

(Yes, early on, I sank so low I asked God for a verse for Steve – and then opened my Bible and pointed.  But God confirmed it. That verse – and other verses on that same page – kept popping up again and again.)

Well, the divorce process was AWFUL.  And, long story short, I finally realized that it was more an act of trust to file for divorce than to keep praying and insist that God make things turn out the way I wanted them to.  So we finally got divorced in 2010.

And a couple years ago, I decided I was finally ready to try dating.  I tried online dating and found one guy I really liked.  We dated for two months, but then I broke up with him.  We are still good friends.  But I have had NO other responses to my online profile, using a free site.

Okay, now in the present, my nest is now empty and I am lonely!  I decided I should get more serious about looking for someone, so I was thinking about signing up for eHarmony or another paid site.  (I did pay for eHarmony a couple years ago and got no responses, but hope springs eternal.)

When I saw how much it costs — I did a lot of praying!  Should I “do my part” and sign up for eHarmony?

And the answer I got was No — God has this.  I can give it a rest.  (Ahh!)  A big part of the answer that I *don’t* like as well was also “Wait on the Lord.”

I also think God is saying that I will get married again… some day.  That makes it a lot easier to wait.  Because singleness is rather lovely — if it’s not going to be forever!

BUT — then I started thinking about how convinced I had been that Steve was going to have a change of heart and come back.

What if I’m making all of this up?

Well, I do and did comfort myself all along that I may be wrong about the big picture and what God is doing, but what He wants me to do right *now* is good.  Waiting, and using this time to focus on my relationship with God is a great thing.

Then I thought, even if it didn’t turn out that Steve came back, waiting for him was good, wasn’t it? 

And then I started having doubts about that.

Okay, so that’s the context.

Then in your sermon, you had Isaiah 55:4 on the screen!  That is the first time I have heard that verse used in a sermon!

And it was part of the section, “God’s Apparent Delay.”

That verse instantly caught my attention. On the screen? There had to be a message there for me. My first thought was, Wait, should I still be waiting for Steve?  But no, that can’t be right….

And then you said, “God’s delay revealed the character of both Saul and David.”  !!!  And it all snapped into place.

Yes, the delay, like nothing else — gave Steve chances to turn back and showed me what choices he would make.

I’d already noticed during this series that Steve had a lot of similarities to Saul — including that he started out right with the Lord, but made some bad choices.  And ended up very troubled.

Yes, the delay showed Steve’s character.

And his character changed. I didn’t believe that Steve would really turn against me, that it wasn’t all some big huge mistake – until I saw for myself that it was happening again and again. He had truly changed. But it took me lots of time to see that.

But the verse *also* reminded me of what I want now.  I want someone who’s a Leader and a Witness — and it might take time to find that out.  And that’s worth waiting for. 

So that verse — and your use of it (“God’s delay revealed the character of both Saul and David.”)

— Gave me an interpretation regarding Steve that I hadn’t thought of before.  (Showing the character of Saul)
— Gave me an interpretation regarding my present reminding me that what I want is worth waiting for.  (Showing the character of David)


— Convinced me that God is really speaking to me!

And to that, I can only say WOW!

And Lord, if I’m sure You’re the one saying to wait, then I can do it gladly….

And Thank You for showing me Steve’s character.  I wouldn’t have believed someone could change so much if I hadn’t seen it for myself.

But thank You even more for a big picture view that you have someone for me like David, who You have made a leader and a witness.


So yeah, Bill, your message was kind of a big deal for me.

And I sure don’t think you could have planned that kind of impact.  So thank you for letting God use you!

Well, there you have it, dear Reader – I believe that God speaks – and that He spoke to me throughout my struggles since my husband left. I believe that when James 1 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” – It is talking about asking for guidance, what to DO.

And I find that when I really want to know – God answers.

And maybe I’m deluded? But the waiting the first time was hugely helpful. I honestly think that waiting a second time will be helpful, too.

And on September 15, 2016 – I learned that I was again on the ballot for the Newbery committee – to choose the 2019 Newbery winners!!! I’d been on the ballot four years earlier and missed getting elected by 15 out of about 800 votes. They tell you not to tell anyone – but that time, I never learned when I was allowed to tell. So this time, I asked, when can I tell people? – It’s when it’s officially announced. The person from the nominating committee told me, “I think they announce the ballot in November.” So you can bet, I haunted the ALSC website until they did officially announce who was on the ballot. It was the day after the national election – so people weren’t exactly thinking about the Newbery ballot! But anyway, I was very excited.

The same day I was told I was on the Newbery ballot, I registered for ALA Midwinter Meeting and the ALSC Mini-Institute happening the day before, and got a flight and hotel. I was already planning to campaign! Only ALSC members vote – and they are scattered all across the country. Midwinter meeting is a good time to meet as many as possible and ask for their vote.

On September 17th, I went to a Christian concert all by myself – and had a fantastic time. It was a Newsboys concert, but my favorites were the ones who sang before them, Hawk Nelson (singing “Diamonds”) and Ryan Stevenson (singing “In the Eye of the Storm”). Hawk Nelson has a song “Live Like You’re Loved” that I decided would be my new theme song!

Then on September 18th, I was asked to be a Cybils judge in the area of Young Adult Speculative Fiction. I had put Fiction Picture Books as my first choice – which is a whole lot less work. But I felt like since I wanted to be on the Newbery committee, I couldn’t exactly say that three months of reading as much as I possibly could was too much – I wanted to have to read as much as I possibly could for a whole year! – so I said yes, and I got excited.

And to help me with the reading, I scheduled a day off in October and booked a hotel for a Personal Reading Retreat.

On September 19th, I had an MRA done of my neck – I’d been having lots of neck pain lately. But it still just showed the old right vertebral artery dissection and that narrow artery, but no further problems. Personally, I still think that there are times when that injury hurts me. But it was good that there was no sign of any imminent danger of another stroke. And I’m almost having these done annually – which was what a neurologist had recommended, anyway.

And then my sister Becky came for a short visit! Hooray! She had a conference in DC. I picked her up after work on Saturday September 24th. We had dinner and then came home and watched Mama Mia. And talked and talked.

On Sunday, I got to bring Becky to church with me! And then we went into DC. We were disappointed that both the Capitol and the Library of Congress were closed on Sunday, but we still had fun walking around them.

Now we were outside the Library of Congress.

We finally found a place that was open – the US Botanical Garden.

We also visited the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and the Art Gallery – but we couldn’t take pictures there, except in the sculpture garden.

On Monday, Becky had an afternoon flight. So as I’d done when Ruth visited, we spent the morning hiking at Manassas Battlefield Park. (Though Becky and I got somewhat lost. But we had a lovely time.)

So that brings me to the end of September 2016, with lots of joyful things happening.

Project 52, Week 52, Part One – Megan’s Wedding!

It’s time for Project 52, Week 52!

52 weeks ago, on my 52nd birthday, I began Project 52. Since there are 52 weeks in a year, each week I’m taking one year of my life and blogging about it. This week, I’m covering the year I was 52 — June 14, 2016, to June 14, 2017.

So, yes, I am now 53 years old – and it’s time to finish up Project 52!

After all this time, the year I was 51 was the first year I couldn’t cover in a week, but on my birthday I did finish talking about my interview in Eugene, Oregon.

And my 52nd birthday was when I conceived of Project 52. When I hear the number 52, all my classes in Probability (taking them or teaching them) make me think of the number of cards in a deck, so I also played some games of Solitaire to celebrate!

But I also went for a hike at Great Falls, and I was happy that this time, Tim joined me.

I learned that herons flock to Great Falls on my birthday every year (Or at least both times I’ve gone to Great Falls on my birthday).

A heron’s behind me.

And this one highlights the new opal earrings my friend Lauri Ann gave me for my birthday:

We light our candles in binary.

It was nice to have Tim home to sing to me.

Interesting – today in 2017, I decided to skip this month’s Capitol Choices meeting, because I desperately needed to sleep late, since I’m in the middle of booktalking. What’s interesting is that I did the same thing for the June meeting in 2016. I love booktalking – going to the local elementary schools and talking about the Summer Reading Program and about books they’ll enjoy reading – but it’s exhausting. In 2016, Karen and I were the only children’s staff, since Mary had recently retired, and we hadn’t yet hired Amanda. So the two of us did all the booktalks that year.

Here are some pictures of my balcony flowers and my lake from that weekend. I was still loving my beautiful home.

And apparently I still hadn’t closed down my online dating profile. I was thinking I’d been off it longer – but on June 18, 2016, I tried my first Reverse Image Search – and learned that the attractive guy who sent me a rather incoherent message was definitely a scammer. His picture was taken from one of a male model. No wonder he looked good but didn’t sound good!

I was still torn, though, because the same day was a day I played games of Dominion at my friends Alexis and Chris’s house, with Laura and Charles and John – whom I’d met on OKCupid. That still seemed like a win for online dating – having gained such good friends.

But on June 22, I disabled my OKCupid profile “for awhile.” I don’t think I’ve enabled it since. I was getting tired of the scammers. And I decided it was time to take seriously what I thought God had answered me: to “wait on the Lord.”

Also on June 22, I had my last hour working on the Information desk with my good friend Paul – He’d gotten transferred to a different library branch, closer to his home. But at the same time, we’d gotten a wonderful new branch manager, Laura (See, I’m mentioning you, Laura! But you really are wonderful!), and I was hiring a new staff member, Amanda – who also turned out to be fantastic.

I caught my car’s odometer on a palindrome! I hope my car keeps running until I pay off my library school student loans!

I love the late June flowers by my lake!

On Independence Day that year, I made a cake for Tim, because I was going to be in California on his birthday, at my niece Megan’s wedding. We hadn’t gotten a flight for Tim, because we hadn’t known if he’d be in Oregon yet or not. He was talking about going to Oregon anyway – but I told him my heart would break if he left while I was in California. So he promised to wait until after I got back.

But we had a nice birthday celebration. We played a silly game of Dominion, using all Village and Pillage card sets.

That summer I’d signed our library up to do “Maker Camp” – expecting to get instructions. Well, we didn’t – so we had to make something up! And we managed it, using the system 3D printer for three of the six programs. But it was an added challenge that summer!

In July, alas! We learned that the Friday night gaming would be coming to an end. Mike, who hosted half the time, was moving to Washington state. Paul didn’t want to host every week – so the group petered out. So now not only did I not see Paul at work, I didn’t see him weekly at gaming. (We still email, though. He’s one of my most faithful friends about answering emails.) I see that my last night I won both games I played decisively – Dominion Adventures and Concordia. I get a little smile out of the fact I recorded that.

And on July 9, 2016, I bought Tim a ticket to Portland. Sigh. He’d decided it would be easier to find a job if he was out there, and I had to admit, he had a point. He’d found a housemate – a friend of my sister Melanie. So he wouldn’t be putting financial pressure on Jade and Peter by staying with them – they still were unemployed. But I did make sure the ticket was for after I got back from California to go to Megan’s wedding.

I had started Project 52, and it meant a lot that in July, my Dad posted several baby pictures of me so I could use them! Never mind that a few were of my sister Wendy, and he hadn’t realized it! In my big family, it felt super nice to get that much attention.

I was thinking a lot about my coming Truly Empty Nest – but church friends and a timely sermon helped remind me that I am Not Alone.

On July 11th, Amanda began working at City of Fairfax Regional Library. I’d forgotten that on her very first day, I had her help at my Colors and Codes program – teaching kids to make coded messages using prime factorization. I did lose some of the kids – it would be better with an older audience. But Amanda was a good sport about finding out her boss was a math nut right on the first day!

On the 17th, I caught pictures of a hummingbird enjoying my balcony flowers!

On July 22nd, I drove out to Maryland to hear my Dad give the keynote speech at the Chappell Natural Philosophy Society conference! (Basically, it’s a group of people who don’t agree with Einstein’s theories.) He received a Lifetime Achievement Award! I almost felt like I understood his talk! (And people there seemed to follow it much better than I did.)

I brought Dad home with me and took him to the airport the next morning. It was great to see him! And of course, I’m so proud of him! I hope some day his theory gets wider recognition. (And just today he gave me the latest version of a paper to proofread. My Mom used to do that – now it’s a privilege to me to get to.)

And on July 27, I flew to California! It was nice to have Tim there to drive me to the airport. My Dad picked me up and drove me to Rick and Pam’s house, just a mile from my parents’ house, which was full of young families.

The next day, I hung out at my parents’ house.

I was shocked that they’d cut back “my” jacaranda tree – the one whose blossoms I used to enjoy out my window. It used to be the biggest jacaranda tree I’d ever seen. They said it was rotten in its core. I hope it survives such a drastic cut back!

I spent some delightful time playing outside with my sister Abby and niece Arianna.

Arianna was playing with the seed pods of the eucalyptus tree, calling them “Pum-pums.” It was adorable.

And this was when I met baby Meredith! She was only 7 weeks old.

Laura and Meredith:

I enjoyed that my Dad had plaques from when he was on the cover of GPS World.

That afternoon, I went through my parents’ old photo albums and scanned lots of pictures for Project 52. It was actually a lot of fun – and I was doing it in my childhood home. People who later commented that I have a good memory – I also have a Mom who was very very good about dating her photographs. That told me a lot!

And that night, I finished sewing in the yarn ends for the Fibonacci blanket I’d knitted for Meredith!

And July 29th was the day of Megan’s wedding! We assembled at my parents’ house, and I ended up riding with Rick and Pam to the wedding. Ron joined us on the way back. Marcy had arrived, bringing only Zoe – so we were overflowing with adorable Babyness.

Seeing my Mom was hard for me. Since I hadn’t seen her in a year, it was really obvious to me how much worse she was – so much less talking. The only time I heard her talk was at the wedding when she was watching sweet, happy Zoe and Mom started saying, “Look at her! Look at her!”

Mom with Abby:

Rick and Pam:

Zoe was sitting in her car seat, playing with a water bottle and with her feet! And making happy noises. She was being utterly adorable. (This is why I had complete sympathy for my Mom telling us to look at Zoe.)

While we were waiting for the wedding to start, Arianna wanted a little attention.

Meredith was being calm and quiet.

And Zoe was entertaining herself, adorably happy, singing a baby song.

Arianna with her Daddy (Robert) and her Uncle Nathan looking on:

Zoe was getting happier and happier as the wedding was about to begin!

Here’s Kristen, watching for her sister Megan to come down the aisle.

And here comes Megan!

Dave got to have a part in the ceremony.

I’d learned when I was in Oregon in May that Zoe likes to hold onto her ears when she’s tired! So adorable!

Kristen was such a beautiful maid of honor!

Such a beautiful ceremony!

One baby slept through the wedding!

Time for pictures!

Here’s the couple with Dave’s side of the family:

And here are Becky and Dave with all their children – and the new son-in-law. First, a silly picture:

Now being nice:

Laura and Meredith:

Moms and Babies:

Dave’s parents joined the family picture:

(I was in some family pictures, but didn’t get any of those taken with my camera.)

Happy parents with the happy couple:

And then Meredith was sitting there being so cute, making the blanket I’d knitted look so beautiful:

She started smiling!

And making happy noises!

Here’s my nephew Jason and his girlfriend Laura:

Becky, the Mother of the Bride!

Arianna had a Bouncy Castle to play in!

Megan and Zak at the reception:

And back at the tables, little Zoe was playing with her feet again:

Laura and Meredith:

Jeff, Rick, and Pam:

My Dad was adorable, playing with Zoe!

And Meredith was still beautifully modeling the Fibonacci Blanket.

Robert’s family took to the dance floor a little early:

Arianna got several people to dance with her. First was Abby!

Arianna dancing with Grandpa was especially sweet!

Later she enjoyed Daddy’s shoulders:

Michael and Megan, Brother and Bride:

On Saturday, Ruth picked me up and took me to her house. We watched the movie “Miracles from Heaven” and went out to eat, then stayed up doing a puzzle of Jerusalem. We had a great time just talking with each other.

On Sunday, Ruth took me back to my parents’ house. Aunt Abby was the one playing with Arianna again:

Though I helped Arianna do a puzzle.

Then Becky and Dave drove me down to their home in Encinitas. We listened to the Hamilton cast album during the drive. (I had to buy it for myself later!)

I spent most of Monday in Encinitas. Becky and I played some Splendor, then went out to eat and to the Botanical Garden there in Encinitas.

That night, Becky drove me back to Wilmington and we listened to the rest of Hamilton. The next morning, Dad drove me to LAX, and I flew back home.

So that was my 2016 trip to California – short, but packed full of time with family.

Project 52, Week 51, Part Six – Interviewing with Eugene Public Library

It’s time for Project 52, Week 51!

52 weeks ago, on my 52nd birthday, I began Project 52. Since there are 52 weeks in a year, each week I’m taking one year of my life and blogging about it. This week, I’m covering the year I was 51 — June 14, 2015, to June 14, 2016.

Yes, you heard that right. Today is 52 weeks after my 52nd birthday – but I’m still writing about Week 51! All this time, I managed to cover a year in the space of a week – until now!

But to be fair, it was a busy year! So far I’ve covered my West Coast vacation, summer at home, my November trip to Oregon, my last times taking Tim to William & Mary, and 2016 ALA Midwinter Meeting in Boston and a historic blizzard. And I still have the biggest trip of the year to cover.

Last time, I finished talking about January 2016. In February, the first big event was that Tim got his diploma from William & Mary! The super cool thing about it? It was in Latin!

William & Mary included a translation. My favorite part was the bit about him being “upright and well-born.”

And the next day, February 4th, I finished a Normal Distribution Scarf for Jade! And I wrote up a blog post about the math behind it. I also made and posted a Normal Distribution Coloring Sheet on my Sonderknitting page.

Have I mentioned lately? I was still going to a Friday night gaming group that would happen at Paul’s house or Mike’s house. It was a group of 8 serious gamers (me, a married couple, and the rest guys), and was a whole lot of fun to play Euro games that really make you think. I always felt like I was back with my math brothers. Anyway, in February we started up again after some time off for holidays and blizzards. That first week in February, I played Valley of the Kings and Puerto Rico.

I still also had the Sunday afternoon gaming group who mostly play Dominion (my favorite) – and for awhile I had Tim back in my home, so I could play games at home again! (What luxury!)

Valentine’s Day was on Sunday that year, and Darlene gave me this beautiful bookmark! I wrote a blog post about Love.

And Valentine’s Day was the day before President’s Day – and it snowed! With ice on top of that – so I took unscheduled leave on Tuesday to avoid driving in ice – and got to take more pictures of lovely snow.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Also in February, something significant happened. In one of my library news emails (I’m on a lot of lists from going to ALA conferences), there was a list of some current open librarian jobs – and there was a Youth Services Manager opening at Eugene Public Library in Eugene, Oregon.

Now, I’d been thinking a long time, wondering if I should try to move to Oregon. Jade moved there in 2011, and my four youngest siblings were now living in the Portland area. And now Tim was planning to find a job and move there. On top of that, if all these siblings and kids had lived in Portland in 2006, when I was coming back to America from Germany, I would have moved there in a heartbeat. After all, I’d been wanting to move back to the Pacific Northwest since I was 5 years old!

Now, after my visit that summer and again after my visit in November, I had come to terms with giving my kids space. The fact was, my siblings who lived in Portland are much younger than me, and in a different stage of life. And my kids don’t necessarily need Mom in their faces.

But another factor was that I didn’t mind moving when my Best Friend moved with me – my husband. But moving alone to a place where I didn’t have a local friend my age? That’s a bit more challenging.

And on top of that, I’ve ended up very happy with the life I’ve built in Virginia. Though not getting the Selector job was a blow. But I love my church, and I’ve made good friends both via church and at work and even via OKCupid! (I’m still friends with the one guy I dated whom I met on OKCupid – and I’m friends with his friends.) Oh, and I own a beautiful home overlooking a lake.

Okay, so that’s the context of this advertisement for a Youth Services Manager position in Eugene, Oregon. I’d been thinking about moving to Oregon, and I love Oregon – and this was 100 miles away from Portland – which seems like the perfect distance to get to see my kids in Portland often – but not be in their faces, always there, always hanging around, being an annoying Mom when my kids are trying to be adults.

On top of that, I found out that my Mom’s aunt Sharon and Uncle Phil and cousin Sonja live in Eugene. And I didn’t even realize it, but Sonja is the exact same age as me! Okay, really she’s eight months younger – but she’s a whole lot closer to my age than my siblings in Portland. And like me, she’s single. So – a possible *friend* if I moved there. It was looking better and better.

I decided to do two things: Apply for the job and pray hard. I honestly didn’t know what would be best. I didn’t actually want to move – but it seemed like way too excellent an opportunity to just let it go. When it turned out that the low end of the pay scale was more than I was currently making, and I would supervise many more staff – showing a higher priority on youth services, and when I learned that the cost of living is lower in Eugene than in northern Virginia – Yes, it seemed like I should at least apply. So that was the first step in February – deciding to apply.

Also in February, I met with a group of retired teachers to talk about “What’s New in Children’s Books.” I focused on books that had won awards at the Youth Media Awards I’d attended in January. It was lovely to share my area of expertise with a super appreciative audience.

Here’s a nice note. Tim had a visit to Steve’s at the end of February, and I was feeling a little blue about that – and my ex-boyfriend John called and invited me to dinner with him and his daughter. It wasn’t romantic – just a nice friendly meal – and it really hit the spot. I still felt like a winner ending up with a friendship with him, even though I still didn’t think we made a good match as a couple.

On March 1st, I voted in the Virginia primary – for Bernie Sanders. I probably shouldn’t say any more about that election! Bernie got me excited about things that could happen. But there were some setbacks….

Oh, and on March 6th, my church had a groundbreaking ceremony for our new Community Resource Center building. We were really building!

Then on March 12, I submitted my application for the Youth Services Manager position at Eugene public library! They said they’d be interviewing in April, so now to try to forget about it for a month. In the meantime, I prayed about it – honestly ambivalent, honestly not knowing which outcome would be best – which made me feel free to ask God for direction.

And it was another Super Pi Day! Since the value of pi rounds to 3.1416 – we called it Super Pi Day (Rounded Version) – 03.14.16 ! The previous year’s Super Pi Day was the truncated version. Of course I made a Pi pie again. (Chocolate Angel Pie – my favorite pie to make.) Crazy 8s Math Club had started up for the Spring, too.

And Spring was beginning! Now instead of snow pictures, let’s post some blossoms! These are from March 17th, when I worked late and got to take a walk before work.

A week later, on the 25th, more picture-taking!

And more blossoms on March 30th.

Oh! I didn’t even mention it in my journal, but some time in March, I nominated myself to be put on the ballot for the 2019 Newbery committee.

And on April 2nd, I found out I got a phone interview for the Eugene job!

And I took some more beautiful pictures:

Interesting. Already by April 4th I said that I was freaking out about the idea of moving. Because I didn’t want to move – but it still seemed like a fantastic opportunity that might turn out to be something awesome God had for me.

I like this from my quiet time journal on April 7th. I’d been talking with my friend Kevin who gives good coaching advice about the job. Here’s what I wrote:

Lord, I want to do as Kevin suggested and feel in my bones that this opportunity in Eugene – whether I’m offered it or not and whether I accept it or not – reflects the depth and breadth of your love for me.

Spoiler alert: I did not end up getting the job. But looking back – Wow! That’s exactly how I feel about it! That opportunity feels like it was a beautiful expression of God’s love to me.

On April 8th, they sent me the questions they would ask in the phone interview. Wow! Since it would be a phone interview, that meant I could write out my answers and read them on the phone. I could do this! Though I’d have to do the work to write out the best possible answers.

April 8th was also the day of my annual Bluebell Walk at Bull Run Regional Park.

April 14 was a big day. I was in charge of throwing a retirement party for my staff member, Mary (I got other people to do the actual party planning, thank goodness!), and I had my phone interview with Eugene Public Library.

I thought the phone interview went well. I read my prepared answers, which I’d practiced many times. But it was still stressful! And I was still all torn up inside figuring out if I wanted to move or not. I really do love my home here in Virginia. But I didn’t want to stand in the way of the Lord blessing me – and my kids would both be in Oregon, once Tim found a job.

April 16th was a luxurious day off – and I saw both a great blue heron and a white egret at the lake at the same time.

On April 18, my 5-year-journal says:

Ack! Tonight I found out that I got the in-person interview!!! It will happen on May 16! This was just after I’d gotten to a peaceful, happy place! The thought of a big move is scary. . . but I am sure that God will go with me.

On April 22nd, Tim went with me to the tulip fields at Burnside Farms. Yes, I went nuts taking photos again.

We bought some tulips to take home, too.

I did lots of praying over the next couple of weeks. And lots of friends prayed for and with and over me, including my small group and the Prayer Team. I still was honestly ambivalent. I honestly didn’t know which would be best – staying in Virginia or moving to Eugene – so I honestly wanted God’s direction.

And on May 11, 2016, I flew to Portland! Yes, as long as I was going to Oregon, I was going to take vacation! (And it did turn out that Eugene Library didn’t reimburse me for the trip. I wasn’t surprised – they’re a library, after all.)

I spent the first few days at Marcy and John’s house. When I arrived, little Zoe STARED at me! But Alyssa warmed up quickly. I brought her a gift – the book Madame Martine. Listening to her “read” the book after we’d read it a couple of times was amazing! If I hadn’t known the story, I might have thought that was it. I liked the way the dog in her version was named “Washington.” (Their family had recently driven to Washington state.)

Alyssa has a calendar to help her deal with transitions. Alyssa made the whole trip worth it when she saw my name on it and said, “You’ll be with us three more days! And I’m SO GLAD!!!!”

Oh, Alyssa, I was so glad, too! My heart melted and was entirely hers at that point.

My second day, Zoe was getting more comfortable with me, too.

Zoe got to try a new food!

Arianna came over in the evening!

Zoe’s in the toe-eating stage!

And on May 13, I drove in to Portland and picked up my daughter Jade and my brother Peter and went hiking with them at Multnomah Falls. It was so good to be with Jade!

We had dinner at Multnomah Lodge.

On the way back, we stopped at a castle-like structure overlooking the Columbia River gorge.

And I was back at Marcy’s house with Alyssa and Zoe that night.

May 14 was Arianna’s 3rd birthday, so I went to her birthday party before I drove down to Eugene.

Zoe was modeling the prime factorization blanket I knitted for her.

Arianna’s cousin was the same age as Zoe.

One of the party guests was good at French braiding.

Arianna got a wagon for her birthday.

And of course the wagon needed to be tried out!

After the party, I had to say good-by to my little nieces and head to Eugene. I’d realized the night before that I had somehow left behind the purple sweater I’d planned to wear in the interview, so I stopped at Sears to find a jacket to replace it – and found a navy blazer that looked even more professional. Whew!

I stopped in Salem and had dinner with Aunt Susan. Then on to Eugene! I first visited Aunt Sharon and Uncle Phil, then spent the night with Sonja in her house. Her roommate – a librarian – was out of town.

I had the best time with Sonja! It was delightful getting to know her!

On Sunday the 15th, I went to church with Sonja – it was so close, we walked. Then Aunt Sharon took us to lunch at a lovely restaurant overlooking the Willamette River. Then they gave me a tour of Eugene. In the evening, I had an appointment at a coffee place to chat with the library director. Then that night, I talked and talked with Sharon and Sonja.

May 16th was my big day! The interview process was long, but I really got a good feel for the library. I was impressed! A whole floor for Children’s Services. A wing for staff. More than one break room! I saw lots of great ideas to steal! The process included a Library Tour, a written exercise (writing a grant proposal), the interview, and a role-playing exercise about dealing with a problem patron – and staff members who didn’t like the way each other dealt with it.

That night, I had dinner with Sharon and Sonja at Laughing Planet (yum!) and then dessert at Sweet Life (yum! yum!)

I enjoyed my time with them so much!

But then I drove back to Portland. I got to Kristin’s house fairly late, but she had dessert all ready for me!

In the morning, Kristin took me to breakfast at Sweedeedee (yummy!) and then we walked quickly around her neighborhood rose garden a few times. She took me to the airport to go back home.

It was a wonderful day for views of Mt. Hood and mountains in Washington!

I got home at midnight – and the next day, I drove with Tim to National Harbor, where we met my Dad for lunch. He was in town for his Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing National Advisory Board meeting.

I went back to work on May 19 and was shocked to learn that Liz Rhodes, the 42-year-old director of Technical Operations, had died. I was also sad that Kathy, our former branch manager was really gone from the library (She retired just before my trip.), and so was Mary, my former staff member. And I started feeling worse about my interview answers… so it was a rough day.

But I got back into the swing of things. The next day was already my day off. I did go to gaming in the evening, playing Evolution, Parade, Red Seven, and Ticchu.

Here’s a selfie I took around that time.

And more walks around my lake! Now the irises were blooming!

Tim even walked with me!

I have a note that Family Math Games went especially well that Saturday – Parents completely focused on playing with their kids and helping them learn. After work, the Dominion gaming group met (instead of Sunday, for a change), and John told me he hoped I stunk at the interview. As supportive as everyone had been, it was nice to have someone express that they hoped I stayed in Virginia!

On Sunday, my small group leader told me that I was being illogical to pray that God would open or shut the door and then assume that if the door closes that I was inadequate! He had a good point.

On May 26, I learned that I had not gotten the Eugene job. As I told people, my favorite local reaction was my friend Debbie Schmidt, who said, “Welcome home!”

And looking back from the vantage point of a year later, I do see that whole experience as an expression of God’s love to me.

I had a soul-feeding trip to Oregon. The time with people – my family, my little nieces, my daughter, my aunt, my cousin, and also my friend Kristin – was all rich and wonderful. I even really enjoyed seeing the beautiful Eugene Public Library.

But another wonderful thing about the job application – somehow, it put to rest the idea that I should think about moving to Oregon. God had a chance to move me. I felt it was an indication that here is where God has me for awhile. And I am very happy to embrace that.

And I still had my beautiful lake!

On June 1st and 2nd, I interviewed candidates for the open staff position – my first hire! (Though I’d sat on an interview panel before.) [And with a year’s perspective – I can’t imagine that turning out better than it did!]

I learned how to use html include files and started using them in my Sonderbooks web pages. Some day, when I have them in all the pages, they’re going to be much, much easier to update. The ones that are already using them are already much easier to update.

On June 5th, my new little niece Meredith was born to Laura, my brother Robert’s wife! (Arianna’s new sister.)

And on June 11th, Darlene took me to eat at Big Bowl in Reston. We’d been there before for Darlene’s birthday, so we had a little tradition going.

And on Sunday, Debbie brought me cake and flowers to small group.

My 52nd birthday itself I’ll talk about with the next post.

My plan was to finish Project 52 today, on my 53rd Birthday. As it is, I guess it’s okay that I didn’t get behind until the next-to-last week! So I’m happy enough to finish Week 51. (It was a big year, with three trips to Oregon!)

Maybe at least I can talk about Year 52 before this next week is done.

Until next time!

Project 52, Week 51, Part Five – Blizzard!

It’s time for Project 52, Week 51!

51 weeks ago, on my 52nd birthday, I began Project 52. Since there are 52 weeks in a year, each week I’m taking one year of my life and blogging about it. This week, I’m covering the year I was 51 — June 14, 2015, to June 14, 2016. I’m almost done!

This week, so far I covered my West Coast vacation, summer at home, my November trip to Oregon, and the end of 2015. Tim was done with college!

But the first big event of 2016 was ALA Midwinter Meeting in Boston! It happened early that year. I flew up on August 8. I sat next to a nice cataloger from the Library of Congress on the plane and we went to our hotel together. I walked to the convention center, went to a Booklist Author Forum, and picked up 33 books at the exhibits opening! One was Pax, by Sara Pennypacker, which I read at the conference.

The second day was full of informative and inspiring sessions. And I got more books and met Laurie Halse Anderson!

The third day of ALA Midwinter Meeting was excellent. I began the day by meeting Mac Barnett. Later highlights included meeting Sarah Brannen and getting signed copies of Madame Martine to give to my nieces.

And I met Stephon Alexander, the author of The Jazz of Physics, and showed him my Prime Factorization Scarf. He liked it so much, he called up his girlfriend, an artist, to come to that part of the exhibit hall and see it! (And he wanted a picture with me!)

The highlight of Midwinter Meeting is always the Youth Media Awards! This year was no exception. One of our Cybils Picture Book finalists, The Last Stop on Market Street, by Matt de la Pena, won the Newbery Medal.

I finished up my time in Boston at the YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction and Morris Awards ceremony, and then did some exploring of the city before my flight left that night. Another excellent conference!

And as always, I shipped some great books home!

See how my lake is pretty in every season of the year? Here are some winter lake pictures taken out my window.

And January 22-23, 2016 was the time of the historic blizzard! And I got to be snowed in with Tim – for the first time in four years! The Blizzard was amazing! I got off work at noon on the 22nd and got home just as it was beginning. Then the whole weekend off, plus two more snow days.

We ended up getting 28 inches of snow! And it was wind driven – on our balcony, it was falling up! Amazing to watch!

Now, I live in a condo, so I didn’t actually have to shovel snow, though I did end up helping a few people with their cars. But mostly, I’d go out and walk in it! I’ve never walked in such deep snow! It was an adventure!

And yes, I took a million pictures. Here are some highlights:

First, we had a wonderful “red sky at morning,” which reflected on the frozen lake.

Tim went out in it to measure it!

When the blizzard finally finished, the next morning was glorious.

Here’s the road. No thank you, I won’t be driving on it!

I made a snow angel!

Each day, I walked a little farther, breaking trail through the deep, deep snow. It was exhausting, but exhilarating.

The wind had blown the snow into amazing shapes.

On the 26th, I made it all the way to the bench!

I made a snowman!

Back to work on the 27th! Traffic was terrible both ways. But I had two families ask for suggestions for voracious reader kids, so it was a good day at work. The 28th was Thursday, a late day, and I got in a walk in the morning. There was a thick ice crust on top of the snow now, so I was able to walk on top of the snow for much of it – and that was much easier, and quite fun, too!

Friday the 29th was my day off, so of course I took another snowy walk, this time coming back along the ridge.

Saturday was a work day, but the view out my window was splendid!

And the last day of January was a Sunday and church was able to meet. Most of my small group live further out and couldn’t make it, though, so I just had lunch with Debbie and Ray Schmidt. After that, there was still time for one more walk in the snow. It was now very melty, but still deep and beautiful.

I finished the month with a blog post about Contentment and Trust. It was a lovely month!