A Day in the Life of an Elementary School Librarian.

I bet you never thought I would get to this second part of my “Day in the Life” series. I shared a morning in the life way back in January and promised I would get a typical day down for you, and it’s taken me…a while. ha! Well it’s here! I get so very many questions about what it’s like to be a school librarian, so I’m going giving you a typical day. To give you a little background though, I work in a large, urban, dual-language, title I elementary school with about 750 students. 99% of our students are on free and reduced lunch and about 98% speak Spanish in the home. Days can feel a little grueling sometimes and there are definitely some tough issues that you have to deal with, but I love it. It’s definitely not for everyone though! As the school librarian, I am on the Fine Arts wheel which means I have classes all day. Many school libraries are just “open” so students are sent down to check books out, or classes can make appointments for classes with the school librarian. That’s not the case in my school. I have all classes K-5 on a six day rotation. Let’s walk through a day, shall we?

7:20am – I arrive to school. Sign in in the office, and get to the library. I put my things down, unlock doors, check the copiers, log on to the desk computer and get it ready for my 5th grade safety patrols to check books in. If I have time, I’ll check my e-mail and start getting things ready for my first class.

7:30 – My 5th graders arrive. I have 8 students who come to the library first thing. They check in books, tidy up the space, deliver books to teachers and they also are my TV Crew. We put on the morning announcements every day.

7:45 – Head back to the TV Studio. Each student has a different job so they go to their places, we run through the script and practice one or two times. It’s such a fun group of kids. I pick them in 4th grade after they’re chosen as safety patrols and I really try to think through how they’re going to work together. So fun. We’re going on a field trip in November to our local news affiliate and they’re so excited about it.

7:55 – The morning announcements go live to classrooms.

8:00 – Round of applause to our Crew. I remind them what their jobs will be the next day and then I send them to class. Now, I get ready in earnest for my day of classes. My first class is at 8:30, so I log into both of my smart boards, make sure my lesson plans are ready, get my class folders out, get any materials we’ll need put out on tables, pull books out for the Kindergarten and First grades to choose from to check out (they won’t start checking books out from the shelves for a few weeks yet. I just have them choose from a table while they’re learning library skills.).

8:30 – My first class! 2nd grade. If I had to teach a grade level, I would choose 2nd. They’re still sweet, but are starting to be so much more with it, and they’ll sit for a longer picture book. They understand school rules, but still want to give you a hug. Love them. I’ll start doing some longer projects/activities at the tables later in the school year, but for now, they’re mostly just on the carpet for story time. I do like to do a lot of crafts, but we’re still easing into the school year with rules and expectations. My classes are for a full half hour, so one class leaves and then the next class comes.

9:00 – 1st grade. I love first grade because I had nearly all of them in Kindergarten. They know what to do when they come in. They are excited and they love it. And I know their names, and who their brothers and sisters are so I can tell them to get it together. haha. K-2 classes sit on the carpet and my formula for K-2 is generally – sing a welcome song, then we have story time (I read a book), we do an interactive activity (last week we sang a welcome song with each student’s name to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, this week we’re playing a little Jumping Jack game), then we do a library lesson, we do book check out and then stickers and then it’s time for them to go.

9:30 – Kinder. Little wiggly worms. They’re still learning how to behave. Most of our students didn’t go to Pre-K so there is a loooooot of learning to go through in Kindergarten. The first week is the hardest, and then most of them get it together. Again, MOST of them.

10:00 – 1st grade again!

10:30 – 1st Grade lunch duty. The bane of my fine arts existence is doing lunch duty. I don’t want to digress, but I could go on at length. Let’s move along. I don’t want to bring this lovely day down.

11:00 – 3rd Grade. I could really use a break at this point, but there isn’t oneeeeee. My 3rd-5th classes sit at tables, and I have another large smart board on that side of the library. The formula for them is generally – sit down, chit chat, library lesson, book check out and then centers. I won’t get into centers, that could probably be a whole post, but I don’t want to bore you with the details.

11:30 – 4th Grade. Same as third, but bigger. The 4th grades are probably our toughest this year.

12:00pm – 3rd Grade again.

12:30 – Lunch finally. This is very late for me to each lunch. I think we ate at 10:30 last year, which was very early haha. They change the schedule every year! I always, always, always take a break for lunch. I have a small couch in my office so I sit there and eat at my lunch while reading my book. It’s time that is sacred to me.

1:00 – 5th Grade. Last class of the day. The big kids. I’ve had them all since Kindergarten and I know most of their quirks by this time. We have a really great bunch this year.

1:30 – Now I have a little break where I kind of “reset” the library for the next day. Tidy up my materials, make sure that the last class left everything fairly picked up. I’ll walk through the library and pick up anything out in the stacks, etc. I will also check my e-mail real quick to make sure we don’t have any end of day updates.

1:50 – Dismissal begins. I’m always on bus duty, so I check off all of the students and walk them out to their bus.

2:20 – Dismissal wraps up and I head back to the library to do anything that still needs done. I usually do any shelving at this time, laminating, fulfil teacher requests, place book orders, repair books, work on lesson plans for the next week of classes, etc. Meetings always happen right after school too so we may have a meeting or a training every now and then. Teachers are usually milling about at this point so they come to me if they need any books. I also run the safety patrol club with my friend, so we meet now to talk about anything that needs to be done. Andddd I’m starting my fifth grade book club in a few weeks, so I’ve been working on that too. Just enough time to get it all done! Eek! Ok, now you might be wondering how I get everything done in that time. I usually make a list at either the beginning or end of the day with my *MUST DO’s*. I love my new planner from Golden Coil that I got this year. I chose a weekly layout that has three squares for each day, so I make my list there. I do actually have enough time to do everything, and if one thing doesn’t get done – it’s shelving. I can always put that off until the next day. Teacher needs come first, then my own class/library needs, and then shelving. 🙂

3:00 – Teachers are dismissed for the day. I’ve committed to consistent blogging, so what I’ve decided to do is switch off my school brain (as long as there isn’t anything urgent) at 3pm and stay after school to write. I’ve been finding that it takes me about half an hour to 45 minutes to write, edit and post a full blog post, so I’ve been getting done by 3:45 or so. I go get the boys from their school then! I actually like it better than going right at 3 because I don’t interrupt their recess time. They’re all sweaty, bothered, and miss their snack if I get them right after school. Around 4 works a little better for me and for them!

And that’s it! We usually get home around 4:15 or so, and then it’s playtime, dinner prep, dinner eating, waiting for husband to come home, baths and bed. 🙂

It’s a full, busy day that’s full of life! Any follow up questions? Drop them in the comments if you do!!

Our Family Recipe Book.

A couple of years ago, my mom made everyone in our family beautiful bound books with recipes from the whole family. Grandma’s sugar cookies are in there, a whole bunch of my mom’s recipes (cheesecake, meatballs, crab dip, spice cake, etc etc etc.) my dad’s buckeyes & golden cadillacs (wait until the holidays roll around and I’ll talk more about those), my sister’s shepherd’s pie, my banana bread, my cousin’s mexican layer dip, my aunt’s bourbon slush. You get the idea. If it’s a recipe from the Brown family – it’s in the book. She handwrote all of the recipes, had them copied and gave each one of us kids one. A rather beautiful heirloom sort of gift if you ask me. It’s cherished and I pull it out more than several times a year. Especially on the holidays where we can’t make it home to Indiana – I just need those recipes from home.

Well, having that recipe book (my sister and I refer to it as “The Family Bible”), made me start thinking about my own family and the recipes that I make over and over again. You guys know I love to try new recipes, but there’s nothing like making a food your family knows and loves. Well, I decided to start our own family food bible. Calling it a cookbook just sounds too official, doesn’t it? And it’s not as if I’ve made these recipes up. They’re just ones we love. When I find myself reaching for a recipe more than once, or if my family especially loved it, into the book it goes. My favorite vanilla birthday cake recipe is there, my favorite biscuits, dinner rolls, chocolate chip cookies, and the like. It’s largely full of baked goods. I should probably start jotting down some of our dinners too. I’ll get there eventually!

I’ve mentioned my little recipe book several times on Instagram – usually a comment like “This is so good it’s going in the recipe book!” and I always get questions. “Tell us more!” “Where is your book from?” “What’s the recipe book?” Well, I’m sorry to break the news to you that it’s nothing very pretty or fancy at all, it’s just a blank sketchbook from Michaels. You can probably get them anywhere art supplies are sold, or any type of office supply store, but over the years, I have a feeling it’s going to be one of those precious “grab in a fire” items for our family. There’s something about a handwritten recipe, isn’t there? I use a smaller sketchbook as my gardening book too – I jot down what I’ve planted, dates, outlines, notes on how things are growing.

Do you have something like this? My sister has a binder where she prints off recipes and puts them in, and I know lots of people have little recipe boxes with cards inside. I do love this book though. Over time, I’ll tweak recipes and include notes or maybe put in some little memories. I can imagine jotting down what Charlie first bakes on his own, or Ben’s favorite pizza toppings, or that Luke would only eat yeast rolls when he was two. The cover will get worn over time and years of being pulled out for the Birthday Cake recipe and the Christmas Cinnamon Rolls, and the First Day of School Blueberry Muffins, and I think that will make it even more precious to me. Watch my boys not care at all about it when they get older. HA! Maybe their wives will. Or maybe we need to go for just ONE MORE baby, perhaps a girl?? (insert a heart attack from my husband.)

Recipes inside the Metroka Family Cookbook (so far)

  • Mascarpone Icing
  • Yeast Rolls
  • Lemon Poppyseed Bread
  • Christmas Cinnamon Rolls
  • Banana Bread
  • Favorite Granola
  • Homemade Ice Cream
  • Friday Pizza Dough
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Pie Dough
  • Cut Out Sugar Cookies
  • Shortbread
  • Sourdough
  • Biscuits
  • Sandwich Bread
  • Mrs. Whitney’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Candy
  • No Bake Cookies
  • Peanut Butter Cookies
  • First Day of School Blueberry Muffins
  • Grandmama’s Blueberry Buckle

An August To Do List.

You guys, I was looking through my blog this morning as my first *School Year Is Starting, But I’m Not Working Yet* order of business, and I really thought I had more on here than I do. Ha! It’s a bit bare bones isn’t it? I have pages and pages full of post ideas. One of my goals for the school year is to get this little spot up and running with regular posts each week. I do still love Instagram, but I know there are mixed feelings on it. This could be a really cool spot with a little more time dedicated to it, couldn’t it? On to this August to do list though!

If you’ve been following me for a while, then you know that every month, I make a list of things to do in certain (favorite! fun! exciting! whimsical!) categories (Bake, Treats, Cocktails, Meals, and Home). Typically, I do four things under each category and then I pick one from each category every week. So every week I’m crossing something off from each little list. I find that if I list everything out like this at the beginning of the month, I automatically eliminate the need to make any crippling decisions during the month. I do it all at once, and then I’m just left with time to actually do those things on my list! It works, trust me. I’m much more productive since I’ve starting planning my months out like this. You could obviously make the categories anything you’re into. And maybe you could just do a couple under each category if you think it’s unlikely that you’ll do something every single week. This is just what works for me. Make it your own!

So (drumroll please) the August LIST! Just click on the text for a link to the recipes!


  1. Tomato Tart
  2. Blackberry Thyme Cake (with a frosting of my own making)
  3. Peach Pound Cake
  4. Blackberry Mascarpone Hand Pies

Treats (We usually make these on Thursdays after school)

  1. First Day of School Blueberry Muffins
  2. Ice Cream Sandwiches
  3. Peanut Butter Marshmallow Cookies
  4. Mini Dutch Babies

Meals (I typically add more than four in here because well…I have to make dinner every night)

  1. Hamburger Pie – I shared this recipe in stories the other day and it’s saved under my “dinner” highlight!
  2. Street Corn Chowder
  3. Chicken Parm Sandwiches
  4. Churrasco Steak with Chimichurri
  5. Charcuterie Board Dinner
  6. Crock Pot Chicken Gyros
  7. Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches


  1. Coffee Old Fashioned
  2. Bourbon Peach Lemonade
  3. Rosé Punch
  4. Peach Basil Shrub

Home – No links for these! Just things I’m planning to do that will maybe inspire you too!

  1. Back Hallway Beadboard and Peg Rack
  2. Apple Garland Craft
  3. Fall Vegetable Garden
  4. Start Knitting Cardigan

A February To Do List.

Feels a little late to be sharing this, February being a short month and it already being the 9th, but better late than never! But I can imagine this coming in handy next year when I’m looking for monthly to dos. I think I’ll share every month (but hopefully a little earlier next time!).

Now before I dive in, I should explain that I have a little monthly planning hack to help myself get more crossed off of my dreams list. Every month, I go through my calendar, and count how many weeks I have in which to fit a reasonable number of fun things. It’s generally four. So then, I have categories for things that matter to me. Baking, Treats, New Meals, Cocktails, and Home. Sometimes I change the categories, like if I want to focus on organization, for example, or marriage, mental health, physical health, the boys, outings, etc. What I’m saying is that you can choose any category you like. Then, for each of those categories I pick four things (or however many weeks we have) to do. So at the beginning of every new week during that month, I pick one thing from each of my categories and cross them off of my list. Doing my months this way makes me feel like I’m still getting to do what I love and I don’t get overwhelmed with the number of choices out there. Decision fatigue is real! Phew. Maybe I’ll have to post this little monthly planning hack again as a stand-alone post, but (drumroll please), here’s my February to do list – complete with links!


  1. Sugar Cookies with buttercream
  2. Lemon Meringue Pie Bars (I already made this and wowzas. They were so. dang. good.)
  3. Strawberry Pie
  4. Cinnamon Rolls

Treats (We usually make these on Thursdays after school)

  1. Brown Butter Rice Crispie Treats
  2. Heart Inside Cupcakes
  3. Name Cookies

New Meals

  1. Chicken and Bacon Pasta
  2. Sweet Potato Salad with Grilled Chicken
  3. Chicken Sausage Skillet
  4. Lemon Pepper Meatloaf (recipe coming soon!)


  1. Strawberry Mint Splash
  2. Blueberry Gin Sour
  3. Coconut Blood Orange Margaritas
  4. Blackberry Sage Bourbon Smash


  1. Valentines!
  2. Finish bathrooms
  3. Go strawberry picking with the boys
  4. Work on front yard landscaping

A Morning in the Life (of an elementary school librarian with three boys aged 4, 2, and 1).

I was going to do one Day in the Life post, but after starting to write, I have found that I need to break it up. I’m so chatty and explain-y! There is after all somewhat of a science to getting out the door in a orderly and not-pulling-your-hair-out fashion with three small children before 6:45am. I’ll do three posts over the next few weeks. This one is a typical morning for us, next week I’ll do a School Day in the Life if you’re curious about my school librarian gig, and then I’ll finish it up with An Evening in the Life. Maybe I’ll even do A Weekend in the Life? But you might be so bored to tears by then that I may have to skip it.

5am – My alarm begins to bong. I recently switched the setting to Timba and I find it a little less jarring than what I used to use. Sencha I believe? Feels more like I’m an extra in Tarzan and I don’t hate it. The first thing I do is make my way to the kitchen to put the water on to boil for coffee (we make ours in a french press and if you haven’t tried french press…well you’re missing out), then comes emptying the dishwasher, packing lunchboxes, getting breakfast ready, switching the laundry if I forgot to the night before, and getting my own stuff ready for school if I didn’t the night before. Typical breakfasts are cereal, frozen pancakes, french toast sticks, oatmeal, a baked good if we have it, (all of the above with sprinkles added if they need urging to eat), or, of course, the occasional refusal of all of the above in favor of…not eating breakfast at all. 

Things can easily devolve here during this critical morning prep time if everyone wakes up really early, but on an ideal day, after everything in the kitchen is ready to go and I have a mug of hot coffee in my hand, I get myself ready before the boys get up. But in the spirit of full disclosure, I would say that on 3 to 4 days a week (aka…most days), one or another wakes before I’m ready. On those days, I wake my husband up and I hand that one off to him. Ben (2) is typically the first one up and he requests warm milk and a show so they’ll snuggle on the couch until another kid wakes up too. Favorites morning shows are: searching the term “construction trucks” on youtube and watching trucks move dirt, searching “recycling trucks” – there’s some great compilations of trucks picking up trash, sometimes Blippi, sometimes Pokoyo, and sometimes just yelling that he doesn’t want “that one”. lol…gotta love the whims of two year olds. Luke (15 months) is next up, and I take care of him if Ben is already up snugging with the best husband on earth. Luke gets a bottle, a new diaper, dressed in his school clothes right away, then a snuggle and sent to destroy things in the playroom.

6am – Now it’s time to wake anyone who isn’t already up – namely, Charlie (4). I usually start the wake up process at about 5:55. This includes, turning on the light in the family room, opening the door (Ben and Charlie share a room, and we’re toying with the idea of tossing Luke in there too soon – but we may have lost our marbles), and then turning off their sound machine. I give them about five minutes and this generally does the trick. If they’re still slumbering like angels, then I go in for phase two of wake up and rub their little backs, sing a wake up song, and give them another few minutes to roll around. The last step, or code red you really must get up as I like to think of it, is to turn on the light on their room. I try to avoid this as it can really be not a very nice mama move to those sensitive morning eyes. But! We’re not here to be nice, are we? And then, of course, first stop is to the potty when they wake up.

6:10 – Get the heathens, I mean boys, dressed, if they aren’t already. I try to have clothes laid out the night before and set it in the playroom so it’s easy to find everything. There is nothing I loathe more than searching through laundry for socks first thing in the morning. It is enough to put me in a foul mood for the rest of the day. Now…getting them dressed can be a touchy thing. Sometimes they don’t want to get dressed. Sometimes they don’t want it to be a school day. Me either, dudes. So to soothe their big emotions stuck inside their tiny frames, I try to be flexible. This looks different for each kid. For Luke, as mentioned above, he is happiest if he drinks his bottle while getting a new diaper and getting dressed. He doesn’t really get a choice. For Ben, the most difficult morning child, he is easiest if we get him dressed while he’s slightly distracted and still watching his little morning show. For Charlie, it depends. He often likes to get dress while in our room on our bed, sometimes he likes to do it himself, sometimes he likes help. In most cases, it’s all about the time. It could take fifteen minutes to get them dressed, or it could take two. If they’re having a hard time, and don’t want to get dressed yet, I leave them and I move on to something different (making their beds, making our beds, finishing my hair or makeup if it needs it), and then come back after a few minutes. Sometimes they just need to feel like they’re in control for a few minutes. Sometimes they just want dada to do it instead! Sometimes they want to listen to a Laurie Berkner or Caspar Babypants song on my phone. I try to be flexible. And I have definitely learned this the hard way. I remember feeling so very frustrated with Charlie because he would often refuse to get dressed in the morning and then we would both wind up upset, and late. Now, I give him a few minutes, then come back to him, and try to give him choices if he needs them.

6:20 – Now it’s time for breakfast which is already sitting out on the table, so they just go to eat whenever they’re ready or around 6:20 when we say it’s time to stop doing whatever they’re doing because we have to eat and get out the door soon. Breakfast is smooth if not a little silly. My husband always sits with them while they eat breakfast and at this point I go finish getting myself ready if I haven’t already. Hair, makeup, etc. If I’m ready, then I sit and eat breakfast with them.

6:35 – Brush teeth and vitamins. Easy – they love their vitamins and they know they only get their vitamin if they brush their teeth. Pairing works really well for us. Feels a little like bribery sometimes, but they need to take a vitamin, and they need to brush their teeth, so it’s really just a win-win here.

6:40 – We declare “ok! time for school! Lunchboxes and to the car!” Luke looooooves his lunchbox, so he trots out the door right away (and his little legs pumping out the door dragging his lunchbox next to him might be my favorite part of the morning), Ben often stalls if he’s playing with something, in which case – he gets to take that toy to the car with him. Again, feels like bribery, but it really works for him and we both get what we want. Compromise here. Charlie is pretty easy to get out the door, but can often play around when we get to the car. He puts himself in his own carseat in the back and loves to do it, so we do a lot of counting to three with him. “I’m going to count to three, and if you’re not in your seat by the time I get to three, then I’m going to put you in your seat for you.” I use this a lot in the afternoons too if he’s being squirrely. Counting to three does absolutely nothing for Ben, so to each his own. Ben gets to eat a squeezy yogurt when he gets into his carseat, and that does it for him.

Another thing that really works for us at any point in the morning are “Special Mama Hugs”. I use these more in the afternoon, but in the morning if anyone is losing it, I will say, “do you need a special mama hug?” And this generally stops them in their tracks and they nod yes. This means dropping everything we’re doing, me being wholly focused on the child who is struggling and I pick them up for an extra long, tight hug. Works wonders during times of overwhelm. It’s just a little moment of connection to reset. Like – ok, let’s take a minute, forget what we’re struggling with, and just hug. it. out. Charlie now will even ask for one if he knows he’s getting too upset or emotional.

6:50 – We must be on the road. It takes about fifteen minutes to get to the boys school, and I cannot stand for lateness so to get me to school on time (by 7:30), this is what it takes. For whatever reason, I didn’t care a bit about being late when I was pregnant with each of the boys (I think pregnancy can make us a little selfish, as it should. We’re one with the baby, and our bodies need all of our attention.), so I had several phases of being late to school every day, but I’m past that. We listen to Caspar Babypants radio on Pandora in the car, a story podcast (favorites are Circle Round and Little Stories for Tiny People), or sometimes if moods are sour, I will put PJ Mask on my phone on the Netflix app and prop it up in the middle of the seats so they can watch.

7:05ish – Arrive at daycare. We always call it “school” just to get them ready for school and the idea that school is fun, etc. And of course, we also call their minders teachers too! I think it’s good to get that mentality that you must listen to your teachers instilled really early. Charlie and Luke have always been happy to go to school and they love walking from the car to the door. Ben can sometimes take some urging. If he needs extra hugs or attention, I will sometimes take Charlie and Luke in and come back for Ben. Lately, hasn’t been much pushback on getting from the car to the door though. They don’t even look back at me when they’re going through the door. lol. I generally call my goodbye’s and “I love you’s and ok I’ll miss you’s to their backs. At one point, this would have made me sad. But now, I’m just glad that they love their school.

7:15 – I arrive at school and the second leg of my day begins. My School Day. Eeeeeee. Come back to see “A School Day in the Life” next week!

A Tip for Productivity.

I heard this tip several years ago on the Happier podcast with Gretchen Rubin and it’s one that has stuck with me over the years. It’s the five minute rule. You ready for this? Ok. So: If something is going to take less than five minutes, do it now. Don’t put it off until later. When you think of it, just do it. Emptying the dishwasher this morning took me 3 minutes and 42 seconds. I timed myself going at a leisurely pace so I could tell you. Starting a load of laundry, switching the laundry, tidying a room, making the bed, prepping vegetables for dinner, putting those shoes away that you thought to yourself “those really need put away”, reading a book to your kids? All less than five minutes. Well…depending on the book they choose. I think we often put things off because we think that we’ll just do it later, but what if you did it now instead and then you don’t even have to think about it later. Or have it hanging over your head all day? Anyway, try it. It might help you get more things done in a day!

Other things I do to get things done:

Set a timer and race against it to get something done quickly.

Give yourself a treat. I only get X if I do Y first. (Examples of treats are: reading a chapter of my book, chocolate, a baked good. If it’s something big maybe you get to buy something for yourself, etc)

Make a list. There are few things I love more than crossing things off of a list.

Do you have any tips for productivity?? I’d love to hear!

On (Working) Mom Guilt.

Luke is sick. Has been all week. We had Monday off for Martin Luther Jr. Day, and he woke with a cough that got steadily worse through the day. Tuesday morning, I woke up at 5am for my school day as normal, got myself ready, the big boys, and then went to wake Luke up and get him ready too (he’s generally my “late” sleeper). He seemed a little tired and weepy, but I was ready to push through and was honestly in a bit of a rush to get us to school on time (I abhor being late). I was totally tunnel vision. ***MUST GET OUT DOOR*** My husband leaves later than we do, so he was holding a very limp-looking Lukey against him as I buzzed around the house barking orders at everyone then trying to morph those orders into a fun game like the toddler drill sergeant I can lean toward in the mornings. The need to run a tight toddler ship and all. Mike asked me a couple times if I wanted to stay home with Luke because he didn’t seem like he was feeling all that well. Nope! I answered. He doesn’t seem like he has a fever. He’s good. It’s just a cough. We’re going to school. My husband defers to me on these things (as he should. lol).

I was finally finished corraling everyone and everything, so I leaned in to grab Luke and I finally stopped to take a look at him. He had his eyes closed and was leaning on my husband’s chest with his arms slack at his sides. His cheeks were flushed and an audible wheeze was rattling in his chest. I felt his forehead and, of course, fever. Enter Mom Guilt. Hit me like a ton of bricks, as it tends to. He was so very clearly not ok. I was so ready to just push through and get us to where we “needed” to be at any cost, when clearly home is where he needed to be. 

I know, I know. You’re thinking – “It’s ok mama! You realized! You did the right thing in the end.” because you are my sweet, kind, supportive readers. But if you’re a parent – you know what I mean. The guilt that you’re not doing the right thing. That you didn’t immediately realize what was best for your child because you were thinking about what you “needed” to do for work. Anyway – I’ve been home all week because that cough has since turned into pneumonia. Breathing treatments, steroids, doctors visits every day and the threat of the Emergency Room if he didn’t get his oxygen levels up. Still can’t believe I almost sent him in to school like that. 💔 mom guilt of the most extreme case and gosh does it burn.

But that’s not all – on the other side…you have working guilt. I’m a teacher – an elementary school librarian – and did you know there’s a teacher shortage? There’s a substitute teacher shortage too. So while I’m out – no one is covering my classes. Teachers just don’t get their planning when they have media for fine arts. A whole week of letting down 40 teachers. No one covering my morning or afternoon duties, my lunch duty, my various extra classes that I cover. I can only imagine what they’re saying. “I wish I could take a whole week off too, but I’m here doing my job like I’m supposed to.” No, maybe they don’t all know that my son has pneumonia and he needs me, but it doesn’t stop the guilt. And it won’t be the last time I’m out this year. I’m sure of it. Just as it’s not the first time I’ve been out (we had a nasty run of RSV earlier this year, croup cough another time, and several weeks of quarantines for contact tracing at the beginning of the year).

I was chatting with Mike’s sisters and mom the other day, and his sister who has four kids and is also a teacher told me something I just really needed to hear. “You will never look back and wish that you had been working during this time. Luke needs you. I used to feel so guilty about missing school for sick kids, but not anymore. I remember missing a lot of school when ours were young. It’s just a phase.” And she’s so right! But it’s sometimes hard to tell your mind something that your heart knows. Anyway – I’m sure that Luke will be better next week, and I’ll be back at school, and in a few weeks I’ll go through this spiral all over again when he or one of the other boys picks up something else. For now, I’m going to try my best to enjoy the baby snuggles, being home, and hot coffee on tap.

Making Every Day Special.

If you follow me on instagram, I’ve talked many times about a document I made several years ago after having my first son, Charlie. To give you a little background – I was just going back to work after maternity leave and felt so sad about it all. I wanted to stay home longer with him, quit my school librarian job, throw caution, our family insurance, and my pension to the wind, but I just couldn’t. But after I had a second son, and then a third, I’ve since come around to being a working mom and I’ve actually found that I am a much more balanced and happier person this way. Now…of course, I am on a teacher schedule which I highly recommend if you have kids and are looking at work options. I have summers off, long holiday breaks, I get off at 3pm every day, and I don’t take any work home (Let it be know that I often did have to bring work home my first few years of teaching and of course I have no homework, papers or tests to grade).

Ok but that’s right now – when I started back at work after that very first maternity leave, I was struggling emotionally and just with figuring out routines and how to make days meaningful when I was so tired all the time from working all day and then caring for a child all night. I would sit in my office while pumping and watch the online video feed of my son crying at daycare and I would cry too. I would get so upset about how unnatural it is to separate a mother from her child at 12 weeks when he was just so tiny and helpless and needed his mama. Phew! I’m getting emotional just thinking back on it.

Well…I soon got pregnant with a second son and decided that something had to change. I had to figure out a way to manage it all – to make childhood magical and special for my kids even if I was so freaking tired I couldn’t even think about how to get to bedtime every night. I wasn’t depressed. I was just struggling with how to do it “all”. And no one was going to figure it out for me. If I didn’t make the memories happen – they just weren’t going to happen. My husband is wonderful, caring and everything one could want in a partner for life but he doesn’t really care about having green milk on St. Patrick’s Day, God love him. I found that things were passing by without me noticing. I forgot St. Nicholas Day, I forgot to send a homemade card from the boys to my mom for her birthday, I realized my husband’s half birthday had been the week before. These things matter to me. All these special, (seemingly) silly little moments passed me by without me doing anything about it. My life was being lived. Not celebrated. And not to mention that we didn’t have clean laundry because I kept forgetting that I had to do a load of laundry every day, and I had to make dinner every night and also somehow keep the house clean and get the boys to daycare and myself to work on time?? After many weeks (or was it months?) of floundering – enter, The Document.

As a librarian, I have a mind that likes to put things into categories. (I live by the Dewey Decimal System after all). So I started to think through what things are important to me. Tradition. Family. Celebrating major and minor holidays. Baking. Acts of Kindness. Food. Having a clean house. Predictability. I am a huge believer in rhythms. If you know nothing about rhythms or the importance of routine for small children, try reading Simplicity Parenting. It’s one of my favorite parenting books and gave me so much inspiration for what I wanted my own parenting to look like. Anyway. I could go on at length about all of these ideas, but I wanted this post to serve as a little introduction to these ideas, and where Making Every Day Special came from. I especially wanted to have a place on here for this spreadsheet that I made to manage our life. It may seem a little structured and boring to you at first, but I feel like it has helped me so much in just wrapping my brain around doing “it all”. I’ll probably use this space to talk through some ideas for celebrating life every day, but now this document has a place to live!

Just click on this link to make a copy of the Making Every Day Special that will go directly to your Google Docs. If you don’t have Google Docs – Here is the Word Document.

I left my text in there to give you ideas for things we do and celebrate, but make it your own! I usually go through throughout the year and add and delete things for the new year. Delete everything that doesn’t speak to you, and add new columns for things that are important to you.

Parenting Tip #1: Check and Double Check the Crib Sheets.

I wanted to start things off right here with letting you in on the most embarrassing parenting story that’s happened to me lately… I’m not sure why this is jumping out to me as what should begin my writing career with, but here we are. My heart is set and it won’t be changed.

Let me set the scene for you. It was a Monday night (much like tonight) in the not too distant past. We had just gotten the boys down to bed, and were beginning the arduous task of cleaning the house from top to bottom. My husband is always on kitchen duty, and I am on laundry and general tidying duty. So I was sitting on the couch surrounded by my boys’ tiny folded things, listening to my audiobook when my husband called to me laughing from the other room. “Uh, honey.” “Mmhmm?” I replied, not knowing that soon my life would be irrevocably changed.

But when he came in he was holding something very small, very lacy and very…leopard print. A thong. It was my thong. Now…I am known to wear the occasional thong every now and then if my chosen outfit requires it. I am a strong proponent of the anti-VPL community. But I’m not normally a lacy leopard thong kind of gal. More sensible comfort thong with a little lace because I like pretty things. But I won’t deny it. This leopard print thong was mine. Well, I thought, nay! I hoped! to myself that maybe I dropped it from the laundry when I was carrying the basket to the couch. But those hopes were dashed when he said these next awful words, “Look what I found in Lukey’s lunchbox.” And that’s when it all became clear, friends… On Mondays I send in freshly washed crib sheets and blankets for each of the boys. My thong was found inside one of the pesky corners of Luke (our youngest)’s crib sheet and one of his kind teachers then returned it to us in Luke’s lunchbox.

It’s been a few weeks, so the memory burns a little less, but I also wonder if I am now known at the boys’ daycare as The Thong Mom. Maybe it would have been kinder for the teacher to just throw it away and I would be none the wiser? What do you think? In the end – let my mistake be a lesson to you – always check and double check the crib sheets before sending them in to daycare. Hope you guys had a great Monday! No thongs found in any lunchboxes tonight, so I’m doing just fine.

(The boys’ matching monogrammed school bags are from LL Bean. They’re the medium boat and tote and they work wonderfully for daycare trips, and when the boys turn into school age boys, they’re perfect for library book bags.)

Hello There!

Welcome to a tiny corner of the internet! Things are just getting up and running around here, but you can expect to see posts on food, books, motherhood, marriage, home, librarian-life and the like. Most of you have probably found yourselves here from my Instagram account (which if not, here’s the link!) and if you’re familiar with what I post there – you know what to expect here. And if not – go see! But the problem I’ve been finding is that it can be really hard to sum up an idea in a single instagram post or story.

I’ve also been pondering the idea of routine lately, especially as it’s the beginning of a new year. What do I choose to include in my everyday routine? And what is just purposeless filler for the empty spaces that pop up? I want this spot to become an intentional part of my routine. This check in to share how we’ve been seeking joy lately, if we’ve been slowing down, or if we need to. To share what we’ve been cooking, making, baking, celebrating, doing, and perhaps most importantly, a bit of memory-keeping for years down the line when I know I’ll be happy to have everything here in a neat little package. And just maybe a few of those things might inspire you too. Let’s sift through all the noise of the world, and keep the good stuff we’ve found.

All those things currently live in a vault in my mind, and a little (seriously, such a tiny) glimpse into our days can be seen on Instagram, but with a website, everything can all be laid out here in a scroll-able, readable, categorized date-stamped format which is such a joy to a librarian such as myself. To sum it up: expect to see this space as a reference, an idea space, a daydream, a mindful reflection, a supportive community, and a guide for each season of life. I think it could become so good, you guys. And I’m so dang glad you’re here to see it. I hope you stay a while to see what it becomes.