Project 52, Week 51, Part Four – No More School!

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, and my November trip to Oregon. That got me to the middle of November.

It was good to pick up Tim for one last Thanksgiving Break from William and Mary. I say in my five-year journal that we talked all the way home. I think that was the trip when he explained a complicated theorem he had to try to prove in a computer science class – and we talked a long time about it – and I figured out the solution the next morning when I was taking a shower. Yes! I do still have a mathematical brain! (When Tim took it back to class, he did give me credit. I was proud.) I don’t remember the problem except that it was very cool and required a whole lot of thought. My solution did work!

On Thanksgiving Day, we had dinner at Darlene’s house. After eating, we taught Darlene and her kids Michelle and Ryan how to play P.I. (It’s like Clue, but better.)

During Thanksgiving break, the late fall lake was still beautiful.

At that time, I started planning a blanket for the next niece due to be born (though I didn’t know the gender yet). Inspired by my Fibonacci Clock, I thought I’d make a golden rectangle Fibonacci Blanket. I started with a Fibonacci Swatchy. (For a math explanation, follow the link!)

I was so happy to have Tim home!

I wrote in my quiet time journal that weekend:

I realized though? That nice feeling I had this weekend and I also had in Portland staying with Jade?

That’s the feeling of being in a home with someone you love with all your heart. Combined with delight at being reminded they’re just as wonderful as You remember them.

Yeah, okay, the Empty Nest was hard at times. But it was nice to have Tim home for almost a week. Then I took him back to William & Mary for his last few weeks of his last semester of college.

And I still had my great job! I was branching out with some TechShop programs.

On December 3rd, we did another Computer Deconstruction program, run by Tech Shop. This time I took pictures! And my friend Darlene’s son Ryan and my friend Alexis’s son Robert both attended.

Here’s a pretty December sunrise from out my bedroom window.

I was getting lots of picture books sent for Cybils judging. A fun thing was sending a big box of picture books to each of my nieces for Christmas – and also some to my Mom. Her Alzheimer’s continued to progress. At one point, she’d read her books over and over because she couldn’t remember she’d read them before. At this point, all she could handle was picture books.

And on December 16, 2015, Tim had finished college! I picked him up at William and Mary one last time. There was no traffic, and it was so warm, we actually ate outside! One last time with food from the Cheese Shop and a super spicy Blenheim Ginger Ale. We talked all the way home again. I was so happy to have him home.

Though – since Jade currently didn’t have a job, nor did anyone living in his house, I didn’t want Tim to pursue his original plan of moving to Portland and living in Jade’s house and looking for a job. I said that somebody needed to have a job first. Tim could look for a job from Virginia. And if Jade found a job, that would change things, too.

So – my nest didn’t actually empty out until the following August. That was long enough that both Tim and I were ready for him to move out! But even then, it was bittersweet. Because the truth is, it’s nice to have someone you love with all your heart living in your home.

On Christmas Eve, after the Christmas Eve service, we went to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens in IMAX 3D.

Did you know that you can cut Fun Size Nestle Crunch bars so that they say INCH and measure one inch? I’m not sure where I learned about that, but we used stocking candy to do this on Christmas Day.

We also played a game of Castles of Burgundy. (I miss having Tim around to play games with! We played a lot of games together the next 8 months.)

On New Year’s Eve a pair of swans-a-swimmin’ visited my lake! They never came again, but they were beautiful to watch that day.

We finished up the calendar year with another New Year’s Eve party with games at the home of Trisha and Phil Sallee. I have a note that I played Splendor and Apples to Apples – and got beaten by Barsottis all three times! (That’s Kathe’s family – It was her husband and son Tim who beat me.) It was a lot of fun. And I even got to talk with Jade that night.

But now – I’m going to have to stop writing for the night. Can I finish Week 51 before the week is done? It’s looking doubtful… After all this time, will I fail to keep it within a week at the very end? Stay tuned….

Project 52, Week 51, Part Three – Another Oregon Trip

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, and thoughts about my impending REALLY Empty Nest and my firstborn Josh transitioning to be known for who she is – my daughter Jade.

That got me part way through September. On September 13, I took a walk by my lake and got what is probably my very favorite image of the great blue heron – especially when I saw how it mirrored the dancing flamingo in Flora and the Flamingo..

And of course I took more pictures of my late-summer lake.

On September 27, my new little niece, Zoe, was born in Portland, Oregon, to my sister Marcy, her second little girl.

That night, we had a supermoon total lunar eclipse. And just like when I had an opportunity to see a total solar eclipse – clouds covered the moon a few seconds before it went total! We’ll see how I do this coming August….

Also that day, I made a Prime Factorization Hairnet! Here’s the deal: My church was drumming up publicity about a Stop Hunger Now event and was asking us to decorate hairnets and take selfies. I thought of putting color coded prime factorization: I just printed my chart and cut out the individual numbers and arranged it in a spiral.

That was when I was working on my “mathematical knitting gallery” on a new page of my website – Sonderknitting. I’m happy with how it has turned out!

And on October 1st, nominations opened for the Cybils Awards! This year I was a first round panelist again – in the Fiction Picture Books category. This was much, much easier, timewise, than the other panels, because it doesn’t take as long to read lots and lots of picture books (and I do that anyway). But it was lots of fun. One of the picture books we chose ended up winning the Newbery Medal, so that was exciting! (But we didn’t pick the Caldecott winner, which was a nonfiction picture book.)

On October 5th, I got my first purchase from Kickstarter – a Fibonacci Clock! With this color scheme, red represents the number the hour hand points to, green represents the number the minute hand points to, and blue is for both.

So in this picture, the hour hand is at 2, and the minute hand is at 1+3+5 = 9. So it’s 2:45.

In this picture, the hour hand is at 2+3+5 = 10, and the minute hand is at 1+1+3+5 = 10, so it’s 10:50. (They could have done all the colors in blue, but what would be the fun in that?)

In October, Fall Color was starting to show by my lake.

On October 9 and 10, I went to KidLitCon in Baltimore! It was a couple hours away, so I drove in both days. I told about the first day and the evening with the Cybils birthday dinner, and the second day of panels. Kidlit Bloggers are my peeps, and by this time, I have lots of friends among them. It was a great time, as always.

Picture book author Kevin O’Malley drew this picture for me!

That was Columbus Day weekend, so on Tuesday, I did more walking by my lake and took lots of pictures of the beautiful colors.

Of course, there were more walks and more heron stalking.

About that time, I closed my OKCupid profile. I’d done a lot of praying about it, and felt that God was telling me to wait, and that going online was doing all the work myself; God was going to take care of this one for me, but I’d have to do some trusting. I also wrote another post about dealing with loneliness, this time by remembering your own core value.

And this is the view I wake up to out my bedroom window in the Autumn:

More lovely walks:

Friday, October 23, was my day off. When I looked out my window and was stunned by the glowing ridge of trees, I realized that I was almost never home at sunset. During the week, after Daylight Savings Time had ended, I got home after dark. On Sundays, I went to gaming at my friends’ house and got home after dark. The previous Saturday off, I’d driven to my friend Rose’s house in Maryland (and had a great time). So that day when I saw the trees in a bright line lit up by the setting sun, I had to go out among them and take pictures. I remember that evening as my prettiest walk by the lake ever.

On October 31st, I had a late day at work, and on my walk in the morning encountered my friend the great blue heron.

In November 2015, the YALSA Symposium (Young Adult Library Services Association) was happening in Portland – so you can bet I planned to be there! I arrived a few days before and stayed until a few days after and had a wonderful vacation as well as a great conference.

I began at my sister Marcy’s house. I got to hold baby Zoe, and she smiled at me!

And I brought birthday presents for Alyssa! (Books, of course.)

I spent the next day at Marcy’s. Lots of fun was had!

Alyssa started cooking some Pa-sketti!

On Friday November 6th, I went to Jade’s house, and from there took the train to the YALSA Symposium. The first night’s keynote speaker was Aija Mayrock, and a reception afterward.

Some highlights the next day included eating lunch at the table with Jack Gantos, before he got up to speak.

I got some good ideas for teen programs. And I re-met Ann Jacobus, who had a new book out, set in Paris – she had been one of the organizers of the conference I went to in Paris in November 2005, exactly 10 years earlier.

The final day of the YALSA Symposium only took up the morning. In the afternoon, my sister Melanie drove me down to Salem, where we had dinner with our Aunt Donna and Aunt Susan. Lovely!

We came back to Marcy’s house afterward (where Melanie has a room as well). More fun with Alyssa!

On Monday the 9th, I visited Robert and Laura and Arianna. Marcy and Alyssa and Zoe came over for awhile, too.

Arianna really liked my umbrella!

Here are three prime factorization knitted objects together! The Cardigan I was wearing, Arianna’s prime factorization blanket, and the new prime factorization blanket I was madly knitting for Zoe.

Laura got Zoe to smile!

And the next day was a big one. In the morning, I went with Laura and Arianna to Open Play time in a local gymnastics center. Arianna loved it!

Then I headed to Jade’s house. Jade and her partner Sunny and Sunny’s dog, Pippi, and my brother Peter (who lives at the same house) all went with me to Hug Point on the Oregon Coast.

We had a lovely, glorious day, as the pictures show.

So – a lovely day!

I had one more full day in Oregon. I spent it hanging out at Jade’s house, sewing in ends on the Prime Factorization Blanket I’d finished knitting for Zoe. I finally completed it in the evening! Peter went with me to take it to Zoe.

The blanket with Zoe!

Peter looked so sweet holding Zoe!

Alyssa with her Papa, John:

And I wanted a picture with the blanket!

I helped Alyssa do a puzzle.

And finally, it was back to Jade’s house. I said Good-by and left in the morning to the airport.

So – that was my lovely Autumn trip to Oregon. It was good to be with Jade – calling her Jade, seeing her as Jade. Oh, the one big worry? She quit her job the day before I got there. Peter had quit in the summer, so now no one in the household was working full-time.

But – it was great to have the time with her. I was thinking about people’s reactions to Jade’s transition and about my own heart and wrote a post about Pharisaism and transgender issues.

And that’s all I can do tonight! To be continued…

Project 52, Week 51, Part Two – Empty Nesting

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!

Last time, I covered my West Coast vacation, which happened soon after I turned 51. During that trip, my firstborn child Josh, at 27 years old, told me that she is actually my daughter Jade. That was a big surprise, but here’s what I told some friends later:

As for Jade — they’re an adult.  I’m going to do them the honor of trusting that they know what they’re doing.  And they’ve emailed me way more than ever before this past week, and they’re posting much happier things on Facebook than in the past — and I’m actually managing to feel happy for them, with hope that this might even be a good thing in their life.  (While still praying for truth and clarity and for their heart to open to God.)  And my feelings of loss have been calmed.

(Be sure to note that by this time, I thought the truth was probably that Jade is indeed female. Because I do trust that she knows the truth about herself better than anyone. But I’ve consistently been praying that she will know the truth about herself, and so far, she reports that this transition was completely on the side of Truth.)

That summer, I was also coming to grips with the impending REALLY Empty Nest. Tim had moved up his graduation date to December – and I wasn’t prepared for it to happen that much sooner. That summer, Tim was working an internship in Portland, working for the same company Jade was, and he’d decided to move to Portland after graduation.

Now, when I’d originally moved to Virginia, I was thinking it was just for a couple years, “to lick my wounds.” Then Tim got accepted to the best high school in the nation, so I figured I’d stay 4 more years. Then I bought a home and Tim got accepted to the College of William & Mary – a state school. So I figured I’d stay 4 more years. Meanwhile, my four youngest siblings and my oldest child moved to Portland. I’d been wanting to move back to the Pacific Northwest since my family moved away when I was 5 years old.

But – moving when you’re not married is a whole lot more daunting than when you’re bringing your best friend along with you. I was happier and happier with my life in Virginia. I love my job (though it had shaken me when I hadn’t gotten the Youth Materials Selector position – but the truth is that the job I have sure reaches more kids directly).

And then I took that West Coast trip. This is what I wrote to a few friends after the trip:

But in the big picture?  The big thing I got from the trip was deciding not to try to move to Portland any time soon. 

That’s actually a much bigger deal than it sounds.  We moved away from the Seattle area when I was almost six — and all my life, in the back of my mind, I planned to move back to that area when I got the chance.

So to decide, No, I’m happier right here right now is a big thing to realize.

I also did a lot of thinking about the phase of life I’m in.  I visited my siblings in the Portland area who have toddlers.  And I do remember that being part of a young family was a wonderful thing (especially those early years in Germany) — but that is not the phase of life I’m in right now.  My siblings are in a very different place than I am, and I think it will be easier for Jade to make their transition with me not right there.  If I moved to be near them all, I think I’d be out of step.  (Also, what do you know, 2015 Pacific Northwest is not as rural as 1970s Pacific Northwest.  My home right here in Virginia is as beautiful as anything I saw there.)

I did recall that when my kids were little — before we moved to Germany — the person I envied most was Darlene.  Darlene was single a lot longer than I was.  She was traveling around, free of responsibility, while I had these young kids.

Well, now Darlene has kids in middle school, and my kids are grown and setting off into adulthood.  I’m the one free of responsibility.

All that is to say that my reflections convinced me to embrace the life I have right now and not waste it wishing to set back the clock.  That life I had was very good.  But the life I have now is very good, too.  My younger self would have envied me!  So enjoy it!

(I also realized that the one thing I want to add into my life is regular writing again.  Have done 30 minutes of writing per day for a solid week now.)

Also at about that time, I asked Jade what she would say to a pastor who was thinking about transgender issues. And Jade answered with a letter that was powerful and amazing, and I was so proud to be her mother. It was hard to read about the pain she’d gone through, feeling alienated but not knowing why. But she helped me get an inkling of what it was like – and her voice was still the voice of my amazing and articulate and unconventional kid who I love so much.

Back home, I was happily walking around my beautiful lake again.

And out my window one day:

On Saturday, August 8, 2015, I went to the Smithsonian – the National Gallery of Art! Simply because I’m the kind of person who does cool things! Much of the motivation was from having read the picture book Madame Martine, where she lives near the Eiffel Tower but never visits it until her little dog runs up it. Here I am living near DC….

Afterward, Darlene had me over for dinner, and we talked and played games.

I was still getting the Empty Nest Blues. And thinking through feelings of loss. I wrote about it on Sonderjourneys. I also had lunch with my pastor and his wife. They reassured me that I had a lot of losses going on, and it was okay to get the blues now and then.

That August was our first Computer Deconstruction program at the library. This one was run by TechShop – later we decided we could run them ourselves. (This was after TechShop didn’t show up for one we had booked! And it turns out, according to my five-year journal, that happened exactly one year after the first one they did!) But it was so much fun to watch the kids’ faces as they got more and more engaged and empowered!

And friends and God’s Word did cheer me up – and picking up Tim after his internship! Though a few days later, I took him back to William & Mary, for his very last semester.

But I did get to have more wonderful walks by my lake.

In September, we began a collaboration with the City of Fairfax Parks, and began going across the street every Tuesday to do a storytime in Old Town Square, the new park they’d created out of an old parking lot. We continue this tradition in September, October, April and May, every year since, with Karen and me alternating doing the stories. (We did it together the first time.)

September 5th was the National Book Festival! They’d moved it to the Convention Center, though, which made it feel really claustrophobic for me. Worst of all, they didn’t let you choose a room and stay in it, as I’d learned was the best strategy when it was held on the National Mall.

But I heard Rachel Swaby, author of Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed the World

And Marilynne Robinson, author of Gilead.

The day after the National Book Festival, I wrote a post about strategies for dealing with loneliness that I still find helpful today. It includes the idea that I got from a friend of making a visual mission statement. The mission statement I made is still the desktop background on my home computer.

A couple weeks later, I wrote a post, “Let Nostalgia Work for You,” also about dealing with loneliness.

The next week, I went with Kathe to Shenandoah National Park, and we went hiking at Lands Run Falls – and just had a lovely, lovely day together!

And I’m going to have to stop there for tonight.

Project 52, Week 51, Part One – West Coast Trip

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!

Last week I covered the year I was 50, finishing up with plenty of springtime festivities. My 51st birthday was extra special, with church, small group, gaming group, and a Steven Curtis Chapman concert at the Kennedy Center.

The first big event of the year, as with so many other years, was a trip to ALA Annual Conference. But this time, ALA was in San Francisco. So as long as I was on the west coast, I planned trips to Portland and to Los Angeles after the conference.

But before I left, the library began the Summer Reading Program. I finished booktalking, and one of our first programs was a program with TechShop that I had set up. My cousin Mark was the CEO of TechShop. I’d worked out for them to come to the library. It went great!

Josh announced on Facebook that their correct name was now Jade. I asked in email what that meant, and Jade told me we’d talk about it when I was out there. Tim was also in Portland, doing a summer internship at the company Jade worked for.

ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco began on June 26. This year, my co-worker Karen Jakl came and roomed with me. It was nice to have a friend along!

The Printz Award reception had been moved to Friday night instead of Monday night. So that was my first event. After, of course, the mad dash for ARCs in the Exhibit Hall! I did post notes about all the events I went to. Saturday was Leadership and ALSC, since I was now Chair of the Grants Administration Committee for ALSC. Then came a powerful film called The Raising of America. Next came an interesting panel about the importance of libraries and books. The panelists were all authors of books about books – and we were given copies of the books. In the evening, Karen and I went to a party sponsored by Ingram, and ended up chatting with the Loudoun County and Prince William County Public Library directors. (These are neighboring counties to Fairfax County, where we work.)

On Sunday, I began the day with a “Literary Tastes” meeting and more free books. Of course, more Exhibit time!

Here I am with Nathan Hale of Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales!

And Author Erin Bow:

I went to an interesting session called “All Hands on Tech” about modeling responsible technology usage with parents.

But the highlight, of course, was the Newbery/Caldecott/Wilder Awards Banquet!

They always have really wonderful programs.

I got to sit with my friend April.

Monday was the day to wrap-up. I still got to some interesting sessions. There was a YALSA “Shark Tank” session that had some good ideas for teen programs. And a really interesting one called “Reading the Art in Caldecott Books.” I also shipped my loot that morning, and went to the Odyssey Awards program (for distinguished audiobooks).

Now that the Printz program had been moved from Monday night, I had the evening free – and met up with my Uncle Allen and his wife Jeanne and his kids Andy and April. Andy’s wife Marcy and kids Molly and Trevor were there – I hadn’t seen them in years. And April had just gotten married on my birthday! She and her husband Jared were in the Bay Area for a reception. I had a really wonderful time getting to know these wonderful relatives better.

Tuesday, July 1st, it was off to Portland! My sister Marcy picked me up at the airport, and I got to play with Alyssa, who was shy for a little while, but not too long.

On Wednesday, I got to see my kids! Marcy and Alyssa and I drove Marcy’s husband John in to work – and we had lunch with Jade, Tim, Peter, and Melanie, who all worked at the same place. While we were in Portland, of course we stopped at Powell’s books. And more playing with Alyssa that afternoon.

Then I went to Robert and Laura’s house, to spend the next couple nights with them and my niece Arianna.

The next night, they took me to English Country Dancing. My sister Melanie was there, too.

The next day, Robert took me to Jade and Peter’s house, where Tim was also staying for the summer. My brother Ron was visiting at the same time, so he also came along and Robert, Ron, Peter, Jade, Tim, and I all played games. That night we went to see the movie Inside Out.

The next day was Independence Day, and I had the conversation with Jade. Yes, her name was now Jade. Yes, she now considers herself female. (She was using the pronoun “they” at the time, but I’m going to skip to “she” in writing about her, which is what she uses now.) She had started taking hormones and was very happy about the transition.

I was glad we had the conversation in person. Because then I could see for myself this was still my kid, whom I will always love with all my heart. I didn’t lose my child. She’s still the same person.

I’ll say here that I later had some conversations with relatives and friends who weren’t terribly understanding. No, I never had any clue – but the fact is, I believe that my child is the only one who knows what is going on inside her own body.

When I was going through my divorce, I was helped tremendously by Patricia Evans’ books on verbal abuse. She says that verbal abuse happens when someone defines you differently than you see yourself, when someone claims to know you better than you know yourself. Isn’t gender a fundamental definition of a person? Shouldn’t we allow people to define themselves?

No, I’ve never experienced gender dysphoria. That doesn’t mean no one else has! I believe that no one knows better than the person themselves what is true about themselves. And I am happy to report that two years later, Jade has no desire to go back.

I stayed at my kids’ place three nights. It was the holiday weekend, so they were off work. We played lots of games, and it was simply good to be with them!

On Sunday night, Melanie drove Ron and me down to Salem, where we had dinner with Aunt Susan and Aunt Donna, which was very nice!

On Monday the 6th, my writer friend Kristin (from our retreat in Paris!) picked me up. She now lived in Portland. Another writer friend from my writer’s group at Sembach, Laurie, now lived in Vancouver, Washington, and she met us for coffee. We went for a walk in the rose garden by Kristin’s house and had lunch.

Later, Kristin and I did some writing together, and I spent the night in her lovely home.

On July 7th, it was time for the next leg of my trip. Kristin took me to the airport in Portland, and my Dad picked me up in Long Beach. I had a quiet evening with Mom and Dad. I walked in the morning with Kristin – quickly, and in the evening with Mom and Dad – slowly.

My Dad is so sweet to my Mom!

On the 8th, I spent the day with Ruth! She took me to the Los Angeles Science Center and the Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibit.

We also saw the Space Shuttle Endeavor.

We finished up with some lovely wandering in the rose garden.

On the 9th, Becky picked me up at Mom and Dad’s – and we toured a Civil War Museum that’s a block from their house! It’s been there for ages – but we’d never been! It was a barracks during the Civil War, and they actually kept camels there! The tour was fascinating.

I love the jacaranda trees every time of year!

There is now a park across the street from the Drum Barracks (so a block from my parents’ house) with Camels!

Then Becky took me down to Encinitas, where they were now living again. Kristen was the only one of her kids who was home. That night, we watched an old movie, “How to Steal a Million.”

On July 10th, Becky and I had a lovely long hike in Torrey Pines State Reserve.

That night, we went out to California Pizza Kitchen with Kristen, and then we watched Beastly and another classic, How to Marry a Millionaire.

On my last day in Encinitas, we spent the day at the Encinitas Beach. On the way there, I checked out the lovely Encinitas Library.

At the beach, they were having a concert with the Christian group “Need to Breathe,” and a surf competition. We stood up on a place overlooking the beach where we could watch and hear them both.

I was fascinated by the drones that were filming the surfers.

That evening, Becky drove me to meet Abby for dinner in Laguna Beach.

Abby took me back to Mom and Dad’s. That night we still had time for some games of Red Seven and Linko with Abby and Rick and Jeff. And Dad took me to the airport the next day. Kathe welcomed me home!

Of course, it wasn’t long before my loot from ALA arrived!

And that’s all I have time for tonight! That covers the first of three trips to Oregon that year.

Project 52, Week 50, Part Six – Blooming!

It’s time for Project 52, Week 50!

50 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 50 — June 14, 2014, to June 14, 2015.

This week, I’ve already covered the 75th Annual Bates Family Reunion, Fabulous Friends at Fifty, Herons and Egrets Around My Beautiful Lake, Christmas fun, and the Wonderful Winter. Now it’s time to talk about Spring!

I was still happy at work. Early in Spring, I started a new season of Crazy 8s Math Club, and I have a note that a little girl told me, “I had a fabulous time!” It melted my heart.

First, signs by my lake.

Oo! There’s an insightful statement in my journal from April. I realized that if somehow a miracle happened and Steve were to come back and we went back into the marriage we had – I’d have to squelch the person I’d become. I’d have to dampen my enthusiasms: for my career, for fellowship with God’s people, for enjoying and taking pictures of nature.

Looking back, that seems like a good criteria. If I’m with this man, do I have to squelch any part of myself?

Oh, but that was also when I got contacted by a scammer on OKCupid who claimed to be an American general but who was from Paris. He was widowed and had a grandson in Paris – even though if the times he told me at various times were correct, his own son had a child at 12 years old! And when he had time to walk around Paris holding hands with his wife while he was pursuing that military career in the U.S., I have no idea! Funny how he was too busy to actually meet up – he was in important meetings with the Joint Chiefs about a secret mission to Damascus. I’m embarrassed how long I corresponded with him, but eventually a google search on some of the phrases he’d told me about his life revealed which military bios he’d stolen the lines from. Oh well. That was when I started thinking I needed a break from looking online.

Okay, more enthusiastic pictures!

On April 18, I went to the National Math Festival in Washington, DC.

I brought my prime factorization cardigan and showed it off. First, to the curator of the math art exhibit.

Then at the Mathical Awards, I showed it to the author of Really Big Numbers, who also wrote You Can Count on Monsters about prime numbers, and was very appreciative. The funny thing, though. After I talked with him, it nagged at me that he seemed really familiar. I looked up his bio after I read Really Big Numbers, and then I emailed him and confirmed. He was my classmate at UCLA! We only had one class together, Number Theory seminar, when I was a graduate math student and he was a Senior undergrad. I remembered him as rather cocky – I was insecure because I didn’t know the other people in that class. (He said he didn’t feel cocky at that time.) It made it seem a very small world!

Then I went to hear a stand-up mathematician. When he showed off the mathematical scarf his mother knit for him, I knew I had to show him my prime factorization cardigan!

While I was in DC, I had to catch some of the beautiful flowers.

That week in Crazy 8s Math Club, we did Venn diagrams.

And on April 24th, I made my annual pilgrimage to the Bluebell Trail at Bull Run Regional Park – but first I went to Burnside Farms, where they grow tulips!

My journal says:

Wow! Today I went to Burnside Farms’ tulip fields for a couple hours, then the Bluebell Walk at Bull Run for a couple hours. Then I fell fast asleep! It was so beautiful. My cup overflows.

Yes, I went nuts taking pictures. What follows is a tiny percentage of those I took!

Then the Bluebell Trail!

I did bring home some of the tulips.

And bought some balcony flowers.

Ah! I remember why I was getting so frustrated thinking about dating. First, I figured out the Frenchman was a scammer. A few days later, I went to my ex-boyfriend’s PhD party and met his current girlfriend (who seemed a much better match with him than I was), then not long after I went to a Book Dating event at another library branch, and someone did express interest – but after exchanging a couple emails, just dropped me.

At least it drove me to prayer! (And going off online dating for awhile was a good choice.)

Oh, and the other thing – I was looking at old emails from that time. With the scammer, I talked about him (before realizing he was a scammer) with my friend Paul, my friend Kevin (who’d been in the military and recognized this guy’s story didn’t ring true), my pastor, and the men in my small group. Between the lot of them, they cautioned me, and I did some more digging and figured it out. I came away realizing that my friends have my back! I really felt like I have some extra brothers watching out for me. (As if 7 actual brothers weren’t enough!)

But my lake had new beauties in May.

Our small group met at Erik and Renee’s house and met their giant dog.

My balcony is extra cozy in the Springtime.

On May 13th, I got Tim from William & Mary. I happily report in my journal that he talked to me all the way home. We started reading The Jedi Doth Return aloud to each other that summer.

But I’m afraid I had another 3-week vestibular migraine in May. I finally went to the ER to get rid of it. Though I can happily report, knocking on wood as I do so, that that was the last time I went to the ER for a headache. A doctor told me that it often takes a year after menopause for headaches to settle down, and it seemed to do that for me.

I got some Golden Rectangle earrings!

And on May 19, I finished my second Pascal’s Triangle Shawl, this time done with shades of purple. I think it turned out even prettier than the first one, though it doesn’t go with as many different things. I blogged about the math.

And then I tried to get a Selfie wearing it.

I finally gave in and asked Tim to take some.

In late May, my lake was now blooming with irises.

And I watched a red-winged blackbird dive bomb the great blue heron!

More irises:

And on Memorial Day, Tim and I went to Shenandoah National Park and hiked the Traces Trail.

But a couple days later, I had to take Tim to the airport. He had gotten a summer internship in Portland, with the same company Jade (then called Josh) worked for, as did my brother Peter, my sister Melanie, and my brother-in-law John. So both of my kids would be in Portland for the summer!

However, the first time I took Tim to the airport, there was a storm, and the flight was delayed too much for Tim to get his connecting flight. So I picked him back up, and that night we played a game of Castles of Mad King Ludwig. The next day, though, he really did leave for the summer.

But I settled back into the swing of things, keeping busy. I was still gaming every Friday night and most Sunday afternoons. We started booktalking in the local elementary schools. My Dad had a trip to Annapolis, so I met him there for dinner. Church had a Family Challenge in June – silly games to play as families. I helped with one of the tables. I had dinner in Reston with Darlene the night before my birthday. I’d also started writing again, aiming for 30 minutes a day, working on a book about my prime factorization charts.

And I had a simply splendid 51st birthday. It was a Sunday, so it began with lots of birthday wishes at church. (Facebook is great for giving away things like that!) My Small Group met at my house as usual – but this time they brought lunch, and we had cake and strawberries and blueberries, and I got sung to. Then came the Dominion gaming group. I brought cupcakes, so they sang to me, too. And I finished the day off with a Steven Curtis Chapman concert at the Kennedy Center with Mabel, which was amazing. (When I heard he was playing at the Kennedy Center on my birthday, I immediately ordered tickets!)

So it was a year filled with many beautiful things.

Project 52, Week 50, Part Five – A Wonderful Winter

It’s time for Project 52, Week 50!

50 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 50 — June 14, 2014, to June 14, 2015.

This week, I’ve already covered the 75th Annual Bates Family Reunion, Fabulous Friends at Fifty, Herons and Egrets Around My Beautiful Lake, and Christmas fun. I’m ready to start talking about 2015.

The year began, of course, with more walks by my lake.

And we got some snow!

I got some new earrings I really liked from my sister Wendy for Christmas. I was still super happy about getting to wear earrings, since I’d only had pierced ears for a year. So I got a little obsessed, trying to take selfies that show off the earrings.

And a walk by the lake when it was frozen:

I did have a lot on my mind that January. I was still gaming with my Friday night group at Paul’s house or Mike’s house and with the Sunday afternoon group at Alexis and Chris’s house. My small group from church was still meeting at my house after church on Sundays.

That January was when I began reading the book Deeper Dating, whose philosophy I really agree with. Basically, you work on being your authentic self and expressing that and hanging around people who inspire you. I was starting to think about ditching online dating. Not that I’ve found anyone with the Deeper Dating methods, but I do have a clear idea of what I’m looking for. And – I reread the book recently – it encourages me because I feel like I do know how to make friends, and I have made friends using these principles of being who you are. Some day, I’ll make a friend who’s a single man my age! But meanwhile, my life is all the richer for the friendships I do have.

But the biggest thing on my mind was cancer. I’d had a CT scan and MRI done in the fall – and my right vertebral artery was showing a little bit of improvement – but they found a “mass” in the left pyriform sinus in my throat.

Well, long story short, I had a biopsy done on January 28 – and they found that it was overgrown lymphatic tissue. It was perhaps extra large when the MRI was done because I had a bad cold at the time. The official diagnosis was “reactive lymphoid hyperplasia,” but the word I heard was BENIGN.

I took a day of sick leave after the procedure, and the next day went to ALA Midwinter Meeting in Chicago.

I didn’t take pictures on my own camera, but I did blog about the trip. On Friday, I went to a Graphic Novel Author Forum and a USBBY meeting. Saturday began with Abrams Book Buzz, then a Women in Geekdom panel, then a talk by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. That night I stayed in my room and posted pictures of my loot. On Sunday, I got to meet LeVar Burton! A historic blizzard was starting to hit Chicago, but I soldiered on to a Boyds Mills Press Luncheon, a talk on Young Children, New Media, and Libraries, and a program by Mick Ebeling on changing lives with technology. Monday morning, I got front row seats for the 2015 Youth Media Awards! And then later in the day was the presentation of the YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction and Morris Awards.

Here’s my summary of the great time I had at Midwinter, as well as some blizzard shots.

That was the first year I held a contest among my friends on Facebook as to who could guess how many books I’d bring home. The total ended up being 101 books, and the prize – a book! – went to my cousin’s wife, Marcy Bates.

Still most of my pictures are out my windows or by my lake. Here’s a sunrise I woke up to in February, from my bedroom window.

Here’s a “great day” from my Five-Year Journal on February 8:

A great day! A powerful sermon on Phil. 4:4-9, good talks with people, Home Fellowship at my house, digging deep, Dominion with the Longs & John, and then The Imitation Game with John. Finally, an 8th grade teacher told me about the prime factorization project his students made.

That prime factorization project took my post about my prime factorization sweater and had the kids figure out the pattern – and then create their own prime factorization chart. I was totally jazzed to learn about this!

And we got an extra long weekend with a Snow Day on the 17th, the day after President’s Day.

More snow the next weekend, so even church was snowed out.

I made a snow angel!

And don’t tell – but I walked out onto the frozen lake! (Only to where I’d seen the heron wade. I’m not stupid.)

Yet more snow! (In case you haven’t figured it out, I love snow!)

And I bought myself a new cozy red bathrobe!

On the last day of February, I held my first Family Math Games at the Library! I began the collection with board games and card games my own kids had outgrown, but purchased some more with money from the Friends of the Library. The idea is to have parents play with their kids – I firmly believe that’s the very best way to learn math skills. And it worked! Parents were happily playing with their kids! I’ve continued to run this program once a month since then – and it continues to be a huge success.

And March brought Dr. Seuss’s birthday, and our library’s first annual Seussathon – getting customers to volunteer to read Dr. Seuss books all day long in the children’s area. Schools were closed for snow, so we were extra crowded.

We got yet more snow days in early March.

We also got some robins, though!

Yes, it was a wonderful winter for snow!

I wrote a post about where I was in my spiritual journey. God was still working in my heart. And another post about not being alone. And another post about gratitude and contentment. And a Psalm-Lament about looking for love. And a Psalm of Thanksgiving.

And that year, instead of plain ordinary Pi Day, we had Super Pi Day! It was 03.14.15! Yay! So of course we did a library program. (And that year a friend emailed me at 9:26. Yes, that’s the spirit!)

I made a Pi Pie:

And wore all my mathematical regalia:

These were my favorite customers of the day, the whole family wearing Pi t-shirts:

And – It’s getting late! I’m going to have to do yet another part to cover Springtime.

Project 52, Week 50, Part Four – Photos and Friends

It’s time for Project 52, Week 50!

50 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 50 — June 14, 2014, to June 14, 2015.

This week, I’ve already covered the 75th Annual Bates Family Reunion, Fabulous Friends at Fifty, and Herons and Egrets Around My Beautiful Lake, and I’ve only covered through the beginning of November.

At this time, I was enjoying my work at the library, but still hoping for the Youth Material Selector position. I found out on November 18 – more than six weeks after my second interview, and almost a year after the position had come open – that I had not gotten the job. Fortunately, I was enjoying my current job. It’s probably better for me in the long run – a whole lot more variety and more work directly with the public. But I can still follow the new children’s books. All the same, at the time this news was a blow.

Meanwhile, we did some marshmallow flinging (and measuring the distances they traveled) in Crazy 8s Math Club – just to remind me I do have an awesome job.

I got contacted by my first scammer via OKCupid. No, he never asked me for money. But we were emailing, and he didn’t want to meet, and I realized I didn’t want to exchange endearments with someone I didn’t even know. He didn’t speak good English, and said some amusing things like, “If you were here, I would kiss you in the head.” But when I wasn’t buying it, he stopped emailing. Annoying and discouraging. Months later, another scammer started emailing me. I’m embarrassed that it wasn’t until a friend expressed skepticism about the guy’s claimed military background that I thought to google his description of himself – and found the military bio that he’d copied from!

Google is your friend in finding scammers, by the way! You can also do a reverse image search with the picture. In this way, I discovered that the picture of that good-looking man was actually the picture of a male model whose name was not the same as the one on the profile.

Of course, if they fail at basic math in the tragic story of their wife’s death and the grandson in Paris who would have to have been born when the son they told you about was 12 years old – well, they shouldn’t be trying to scam a math major!

It was all very discouraging. Eventually, I decided that I lucked out with meeting my ex-boyfriend John and making four additional friends because of meeting him.

I’m a hard one to match by online dating. My Christian faith is very important to me – but I have some nontraditional views, that God will eventually save everyone. And I’m politically liberal, but I prefer evangelical worship services and believe that God will give you guidance about your everyday life – and want to find a man who’s seeking to please God in his everyday life. I have two Master’s degrees, which could be intimidating, and I have a weakness for men who can write an articulate sentence.

I think I did stay online for most of the rest of the year I was 50. But eventually, when the scammers started getting me angry (One said he loved my enthusiasm. Well, I am enthusiastic. How dare he pretend to genuinely appreciate me when he was only planning to use me?) – I decided to take a break. Now it doesn’t seem fair to start dating someone right before I start reading for the Newbery committee – so I will rethink things after that finishes. But for now, I still have prayer!

At the time, I was again reading for the Cybils Awards. It’s always fun to get boxes of books in the mail!

Our system hosted author Jennifer Holm at an event at the government center, and I got to usher.

And I simply didn’t get tired of my lake and all the life it sustained.

On December 4th, I went to another Christian concert with Mabel, featuring Casting Crowns, Mandisa, and Sidewalk Prophets. It was inspiring! I especially love Casting Crowns’ song “Thrive.” I was thriving!

Here are some fun pictures from our staff Christmas party. The game we played each year was that if you got someone to say the word “Yes,” you could take their beads. I was into it that year!

Here I am with my friends Paul, James, and Lynne. (Alas! None of them still work at Fairfax!)

And the whole group!

Then came our Small Group Christmas party:

George and Nancy:

Evie and Rob:

Debbie and Ray:

Renee and Erik:

On Christmas Day itself, I had a lovely cozy morning with Tim:

The sky was extra beautiful on Christmas Day that year.

We finished up Christmas Day with dinner at Darlene’s house and taught them how to play Splendor!

I enjoyed stalking the heron lots more that weekend!

By the end of the year, we’d made our Cybils short list. That year our Finalists were: Greenglass House, The Castle Behind Thorns, The Jupiter Pirates, The Boys of Blur, Nuts to You, The Swallow, and The Luck Uglies.

And we finished out the year with a party with church folks at the Sallees’

And that brings me to the end of 2014! I’m making slow progress with Year 50, but it was a big year!

Project 52, Week 50, Part Three – I Love My Lake!

It’s time for Project 52, Week 50!

50 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 50 — June 14, 2014, to June 14, 2015.

This week I’ve already covered the 75th Annual Bates Family Reunion and a Being 50 Celebration with my childhood friends.

Ruth flew back home on October 4th. I’d purchased a 5-year Journal on September 30th at the Library of Congress, so now I have a paragraph on each day to refer to. The night before Ruth went back to California, I wrote that the time with Darlene and Ruth had been soul-feeding.

I got back into my routine. I was playing games with the group of hard-core gamers including my friend Paul on Friday nights and playing mostly Dominion with a more social group, including my ex-boyfriend John, on Sunday afternoons.

And a small group from church began meeting at my house! This made me happy. When I moved close to the church, I was hoping that I could host a small group. But I don’t have enough room for kids. And I’d tried doing a women’s group on Tuesday nights, but that’s not really a great time for a lot of women.

Anyway, I found a group that was meeting at the church office after church on Sunday. I attended there one time, and then said, Why don’t you come to my house? They’re doing the same thing they did when meeting at the church office – getting some fast food before they come over. It’s mostly people who live a little further from the church and don’t want to make a second trip during the week. I still host this group, and they’ve come to mean a lot to me.

I was still walking by my lake, especially on weekends and the days I worked the late shift. Still delighting in the great blue heron and the great white egret.

On October 11th, I went to a Michael W. Smith concert and took my friend Mabel. As soon as I heard the song “Sovereign Over Us,” I ordered the CD, and I’ve still got that CD on shuffle in my CD player. I believe that God orders our steps, and He is good. So when I heard Michael W. Smith was coming to town, I got tickets. Okay, I was hoping to find a man to go with me. (I had tried subscribing to Christianmingle for awhile, as well as OKCupid – but no luck.) So I asked my single friend from my previous small group, Mabel.

That was Columbus Day weekend, which meant more walks around my lake. The fall color was starting, too.

These next pictures are notable. I was sitting eating breakfast and looking out my window on October 15, as I do. And the great blue heron flew onto the pinnacle of the building across from me – and the very next moment a storm started, suddenly pouring rain.

It was pouring! Even the heron started looking wet!

Autumn continued, and I continued taking walks and pictures.

On October 20, I found out I was a Cybils Panelist! This was a late start. They had originally chosen someone else, but asked me to step in when one person dropped out. So I was judging first round Middle Grade Fantasy and Science Fiction again.

I also had started doing Crazy 8s Math Club on Monday afternoons. It’s sponsored by Bedtime Math. They send all the supplies and instructions for an after-school math club – doing silly activities that loosely relate to math! In 2017, I just finished my fifth season, and I love doing it. A way to show kids how much fun math is! I love doing it at the library, where I don’t have to test anyone.

And I kept going for walks and loving it.

And on November 1st, I finished knitting my Prime Factorization Cardigan! I explained the math on my blog, with a link later on Sonderknitting.

But it got cooler! On November 6, Bedtime Math featured my prime factorization cardigan! And the next day, my website got 1768 hits!

And that’s all I have time for tonight. I think you can tell that even though I enjoyed my travels, I was still thrilled with my home by the lake.

Project 52, Week 50, Part Two – Friends in our Fabulous Fifties!

It’s time for Project 52, Week 50!

50 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 50 — June 14, 2014, to June 14, 2015.

I was still enjoying amazing views out my window as I ate breakfast each morning.

Last time, I covered turning 50 and the big 75th Annual Bates Family Reunion in the summer. But I still had some celebrating to do!

I was a year ahead in school, but so was Darlene – one of my best friends since 3rd grade – and she was even younger than me. Our friend Ruth – one of my best friends since 7th grade – was also young for the grade. There are two weeks each year – from Darlene’s birthday on September 22 to Ruth’s birthday on October 11 – when we are all three the same age. So Ruth came out from California to visit Darlene and me in Virginia during the time we all three were 50 years old, and we celebrated!

On the morning of September 26, I had an in-person interview for Youth Materials Selector – and then we drove off to Shenandoah National Park. We were going to spend a night in a cabin in the Shenandoah Valley.

We found a hike to a waterfall.

Back on Skyline Drive, we saw some deer!

The next morning, we had a lovely view of colored hills.

We went back into Shenandoah National Park.

The colors were even more vibrant that second day.

We next took a hike to Dark Hollow Falls

Back out onto Skyline Drive. We saw a bear, but I didn’t get its picture.

We began playing with sunset pictures.

We spent another night in Shenandoah. On the way home the next day, we visited Shenandoah Caverns.

After we got back, we did day trips. First up was Mount Vernon, and we brought along Darlene’s adorable children, Ryan and Michelle.

Michelle’s a gymnast.

The next day, September 30, we went into DC. We visited the Capitol first.

And then the Library of Congress.

We wound up at the Botanical Gardens.

Ruth does love orchids!

The next day, October 1st, we went to Great Falls and hiked along the top of the gorge. Ruth likes climbing on rocks, so she especially enjoyed it!

Finally, on Ruth’s last day in town, I took her hiking at Manassas Battlefield Park before her afternoon flight back to California.

And – that was our lovely and wonderful celebration of turning fifty together! It really was a fabulous way to start a new decade – with friends who have been there for me for the majority of my life!

Project 52, Week 50, Part One – New Things!

It’s time for Project 52, Week 50!

Okay, really, it’s one day early – but that’s something a day off is good for!

One day less than 50 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 50 — June 14, 2014, to June 14, 2015.

Last time, I talked about how I signed up for online dating and dated someone for two months. It was nice to have romance in my life again!

But it also felt good to break up with someone, in a strange sort of way. It affirmed that I don’t want to get into a relationship that doesn’t enhance my life and my walk with God. I’d love to have romance in my life – but there are other things that are more important. And I’m glad to know that. What’s more, it affirmed that I’m happy with my life! I don’t need a relationship to be happy, even though I’d love to find someone to share the joys of life with.

The verse I felt like God was giving me at that time was Isaiah 43:18-19 —

Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up,
do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland.

And it was great to enter my 50s! You might have noticed in reading Project 52, but my marital troubles began when I turned 40. Now I was done! What’s more, as it happened, I had my last three menstrual cycles in the two months before I turned 50 – and no more ever again. And, as I’d hoped for years – having read that 80% of women with common migraines lose them at menopause – my migraines got dramatically better. I stayed on Zoloft (the only preventative that ever worked well for me) for several more months, but when I stopped – my migraines didn’t come back! It is glorious!

Anyway, my 50th birthday fell on a Saturday, so I just had to throw myself a party. I invited all my friends, though not a lot could come, but that was because on the second Saturday in June, a whole lot of people had other plans. But some friends did come and we had pizza and cake and played games and I had just a lovely day.

Oh, and Tim wasn’t at my birthday party because he was in Prague! He’d gotten into a summer Study Abroad program with William & Mary, and had just left a few days before my birthday. Jade (then called Josh) was in Portland, Oregon, and was working as a programmer. So I was happy for my kids, too.

And looking at old emails – it looks like this was when I started exchanging daily emails with my cousin (actually my mother’s cousin, but much closer to my age) Sheryl. She sent me a Happy Half a Century email, and I answered, and she answered – and almost three years later, we’re still emailing almost every day.

But it’s clear from my journal that the new thing I was *most* hoping for at that time was a new job. The December before, the Youth Material Selector position for Fairfax County Public Library had come open – and I wanted that position. When I was at Sembach Base Library, my favorite thing to do was order books. But I was disappointed when I came to Fairfax that only one person ordered the books for the whole system. Then I learned she was due to retire. When she did, I waited eagerly for the job announcement, which took months to happen. I see from my journals that I got my application in that July.

I’ll summarize now what ended up happening, sloooooowly. I had a phone interview and did well. Then I got an in-person interview in late September – and didn’t find out until a month later that I had not gotten the job.

That was a blow, because I’d been wanting the job for months. I’ve come to peace about it. One path to peace is that I got to help out at TechOps for a few hours a week a few months after that. And – I get so absorbed in the work, I forget to take breaks and get headaches.

In my current job, I can still keep up with what’s new in children’s books – and I have an opportunity to pass that on to library patrons. I get to use the books in storytimes, in programs and in booktalks. And now, I’m on the Newbery committee. I’ve got a whole lot more variety in my job, and I do like it that way. On top of that, Fairfax County Public Library buys so many of the newly published books – it’s not like there are ones I want to read that she leaves out.

So anyway, that was very much on my mind the entire year I was 50 – first hoping for the job, then coming to terms with the fact I hadn’t gotten my “dream job” – but what do you know, I do love the job I have.

But the big event of the summer was going to Oregon in honor of the 75th Annual Bates Family Reunion.

My great-grandmother Bates started the reunions the year my grandpa, her oldest son of ten kids, got married and moved out. My Mom was his oldest child, and I’m the third oldest – so most of my Mom’s cousins are closer to my age than hers. Anyway, 2014 was the 75th Reunion, and with Josh living in Portland, I was extra motivated to go! Besides, in the previous three years, the youngest third of my siblings – Peter, Robert, Marcy, and Melanie – had all moved to Portland! And Robert and Marcy had both had little daughters, so I’d get to see my nieces, too.

Tim and I stayed at Marcy and John’s house, so we got to enjoy getting to know Alyssa.

I especially loved watching Tim fall for Alyssa.

And we went to see Robert and Laura and little Arianna as well.

My little brother makes a great Dad!

And back at Alyssa’s house – and a playground – to finish the day.

I wanted to go to the Oregon coast while I was there, and I brought Tim with me. We had a wonderful day hiking.

We got back in time for Alyssa’s bedtime.

And the next day, Arianna came over to visit Alyssa.

We went to Robert and Laura’s house, and my parents had arrived – and we all went to the pool. My Mom was still capable of enjoying the little girls.

Marcy was awfully cute, too!

That night was the pre-Reunion at a pizza place.

And the next day – the 75th annual Bates Family Reunion!

The squares in this picture represent descendants of my great-grandparents. My grandpa’s descendants are the first TWO pages of the chart. And remember – this is only one-fourth of the people I’m related to. My grandfather was the oldest of ten siblings, eight of whom grew to adulthood.

With my kids!

My Uncle Allen and his new wife Jeanne. They were on their honeymoon!

Robert and Arianna:

A bunch of people related to me eating:

Arianna’s hair was so adorable!

Playing ball with toddlers:

My Grandpa’s siblings are people who like to laugh!

Toddler Ball was getting more laid back.

Here are all the descendants of my Grandpa who were there, plus spouses.

Mom always did enjoy Reunion! I think it was hard for her aunts and uncles to see her like this (with Alzheimer’s), but I think she did have a good time. I’m afraid it was comforting for me to see them still sharp as tacks. It doesn’t seem to be hereditary. I hope.

Aunt Donna!

Robert and Laura and Arianna:

And we sisters started getting silly.

Here’s a Second Generation picture – my Mom and her siblings and cousins who were there, with their spouses:

The Third Generation. I’m by far the oldest of those who were there, my siblings and second cousins:

And the Fourth Generation isn’t nearly so large. Those who were there were Josh, Tim, Alyssa, Arianna, and one baby third cousin of theirs. Anyway, when we attended Reunion in 1989, Josh was the only member of the Fourth Generation there, and Josh was actually the second member of the Fourth Generation to be born. (My sister Becky’s son Jason is the oldest member of the Fourth Generation, and Josh the second.)

I had a whole bunch of fun looking through the Reunion albums. It turns out, I attended Reunion most of the first ten years or so of my life.

This picture of my Mom and her brother Allen was especially sweet.

And it was fun finding my family! I hadn’t even realized how many Reunions I’d been to. Here we are when I was 5. (I can tell how old I was by how many kids there are.)

I think Josh and Tim got bored while I was looking through the albums. But it still made my heart happy to see them walking and talking together.

And after Reunion, we drove back to Portland, and I took Josh and their partner Sunny and my brother Peter (who rooms with Josh) out to eat at their favorite vegan restaurant. There was really wonderful food there, but a fairly long wait. They would call us on a phone when a table was ready – and we went walking among the rose gardens of Portland! It was simply lovely.

I love being with my kids!

There was a little time left for more fun with my sweet little nieces and my siblings.

So it was such a lovely trip!

During that summer, after his Prague trip, Tim had done some intern work in the Virginia Room, but not long after we got back from Oregon, it was time to take him back to school.

In September, I had my phone interview for Youth Materials Selector.

And at home, a great white egret started joining the great blue heron on the lake. (You can probably tell I love my lake! I still get a thrill every time I see these beautiful birds.)

And that’s enough for tonight! (So much for finishing on my day off!) Next time, I’ll talk about celebrating being 50 with my best friends Ruth and Darlene!