Wednesday, October 19, 2011


So here's the scoop...I have a legitimate reason for not posting. So much has been happening around these parts and I haven't had the time. Honestly.

Why? What's going on? What is keeping you so dang busy that you can't be bothered to pop on here to tell us all about it?

Glad you asked.

I got a job. That's right. A J-O-B. I think y'all know that I graduated library school a couple of years ago and have been (halfheartedly) looking for a job. Well, we figured Chloe was old enough not to spend all of her time with me anymore (and really, she cheered the loudest of any of us when I got the job offer because it means she gets to go to big girl school). And we also want to get our house done at some point before our kids are in high school. And if I didn't start using my library skills, I may as well never mind ever using them.

Plus the right job came along.

I was hired to be the library media specialist (though I prefer the term librarian) for a small private school that services special needs children in grades K-12. I started the end of September and have been B-U-S-Y at work. This school has never had a "real" librarian before. They had a very nice woman who would read books to the kids, diligently kept up a paper card catalog, and kept her circulation records in a spiral bound notebook. She retired last year. Then, over the summer, they decided to move the IT guy into the library, building a cubicle for him in the corner. To make it fit, they took out two walls worth of floor to almost ceiling shelving. Unfortunately, the left all of the books in piles on the floor for me to sort through when I started.

I spent the first week throwing out books. I'm talking English textbooks older than me, math textbooks from the 80s, books that were literally falling apart at the seams. Then I spent the next week or so shelving the nonfiction, then the fiction, weeping and wailing when I ran out of shelf space. (Okay, I didn't actually weep and wail, but I did run out of shelf space. They had to make me six more shelves for my wall unit...hopefully that should take care of most of the ones still in boxes.)

Once all of those books were shelved, I had to do something with the dozen or so boxes of books that were not cataloged or labeled in any way. I spent the last week or so looking up the Dewey Decimal numbers for these books, creating spine labels for them, and then shelving them.

It's a night and day difference in the library. But I'm not done yet. Our school got a grant they didn't expect to receive and are funneling it into the library. What does that mean? It means I was able to submit (and have approved) my wish list - new tables and chairs, a really cool circulation desk, new bookshelves, posters, a rug, and - are you ready for this? - BOOK REPAIR SUPPLIES! The previous librarian left me with three rolls of book tape. That's it. No book jacket covers. No glue. No paper tape. Just three rolls of clear tape. You can do a lot with clear tape, but you can't do everything.

I am particularly excited to start receiving my two favorite publications - School Library Journal and Booklist. Why are they my favorite? They contain reviews of new materials so I can continue to add books to my to-read list. It's just about the next best thing to reading a good book - reading about good books to add to the list.

But don't think I've been just sitting around admiring my beautiful new library. I've also been busy with classes - today I convinced a group of fifth graders to sit and enjoy being read to. We read Hooway for Wodney Wat. Caleb recommended it to me after they read it in his classroom. Several other classes came in to check out books. Once all of the books are in their permanent home, I need to start teaching library orientation courses to the kids so they know where to find the materials they need.

Want to hear a horror story? It's almost Halloween, so you may be in the mood. The other day I overheard a staff member (a man in his mid-20s) explain to a student that all of the books in the library are stored in alphabetical order so to find a book on trains, just head to the T section on the nonfiction shelves. What? No! Only the fiction is shelved alphabetically! Nonfiction is all by Dewey Decimal Number, ordered by subject. Yikes! I have a lot of work to do!

So what does the rest of my family do when I'm working? Good question. Rob was able to rearrange his work schedule so that he works twelve hour shifts three days a week. That means he is home every morning to put our kids on the school bus. Chloe goes to a day care (big girl school) a mile or two up the street. We love her teachers, we love the facility, and we couldn't be happier. Chloe likes everything except nap time, though she actually does sleep about half of the time. The big kids get home from school about an hour before I'm able to be home, so we have a teenage girl we know from church come over after she gets out of school and keep the kids for an hour or so. She's really great. She makes sure they have their homework done and then she gives them a snack and plays games with them.

And I still get to do most of the grocery shopping, the meal making, the housecleaning and laundry so I stay pretty busy. Don't worry...Rob's not totally slack...he's been working like mad on the house. Our master bathroom is almost done - we just need to put in a light switch and hook it up to the circuit box in the basement, our kitchen now has a beautiful new back splash, and the trim is just about all painted. He's making really great progress on the house, especially now that he has two solid days to work on it without anyone else around.

The kids are staying busy too. Chloe loves going to school. She's making friends, doing lots of art, and playing hard. She's definitely ready for bed by the time bedtime rolls around.

Caleb started cub scouts this year, so every week I get to haul all three kids to scouts since Rob works on scout night. This last week they met in the school library, so while they had their meeting I busied myself by straightening books on their shelves. The librarian in me can't stand looking at jumbled bookshelves.

Caleb also started playing an instrument this year. Each week he gets to haul his trombone to music lessons. I'm hoping this next week is the week he really figures out how to play a note or two. In the meantime, I console myself by thinking "at least it's not the oboe!"

Camille remains our little artist. The art teacher at school let me borrow some big art coffee table books for her to look at over the weekend. Before I returned them, I asked Camille if she had a favorite artist. She thought really hard and then replied, "Yes, I do. I'm my favorite artist!" I'm so glad she has such good self-esteem. She's doing well in school and loves to read. She's currently reading Swiss Family Robinson and has read more than 100 pages!

Well, that's about it for now. I actually have some work I took home that I have to finish before I go to bed tonight. Plus, we're having a bake-off at church tomorrow and I need to make sure I tuck away my pumpkin pie cake so that no one gets into it. I do have pictures of Chloe's first day of school that I'll post sometime when I can make time to do it. Maybe this weekend.

Maybe next time I'll tell you about our whirlwind trip to Baltimore. Or about the conference I get to go to next week. Or about the fun Halloween costumes I made my kids if I can just make the time to actually do it!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Report to My Office

Yesterday I set Chloe up at the desk with some paper and markers so she could make some cards for her friends. Before long, though, I heard her calling me:

"Amanda, please report to my office. Amanda, please report to my office."

I don't know where she got that from, but I got a kick out of it.

What a little stinker!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

First Day of School

So the kids went back to school today. Can I just say how much I love the first day of school? Everyone woke up happy this morning, got ready with minimal fighting (though I did have to threaten to take away a Nerf gun when a perpetrator kept aiming it at a sister), and was out the door in plenty of time to take pictures before the school bus arrived. Here are some quick snaps from this morning.

Our Second Grader (minus a couple of teeth)

She picked out her own outfit for today. She's digging her pink fishnets.

The Fourth Grader (and all of his new freckles).

The school kids. I told them to show me how happy they were to go to school. You can see who's trying not to show his excitement.

These smiles are a little better.

The cute little one who can't wait for kindergarten next year.

And again.

All three crazies being crazy!


So after a rather lengthy hiatus (we'll blame it on the house, feeling sick and general craziness around here) we're back! We've nixed the idea of starting the blog all over and transferred those posts here so everything is in one place for your convenience. (We're so nice, aren't we!)

The big kids started school this morning and life is (kind of) back to (almost) normal around here!

Chloe and I are going to play a game of cards (she found Daddy's old baseball cards in the attic and now we need to play some kind of game with them that seems to be similar to Go Fish crossed with "these guys look funny because they have funny looking mustaches."

We'll post pictures later!

Housecleaning - Or What My Children Really Think of Me - 2/4/11

We have had several snow days in the past couple of weeks (Read: at least six, not counting holidays and teacher work days).

We have taken the opportunity to spent a lot of mother-children time. The other day, I helped the children clean their room. And by cleaning, I mean I put everything that was on the floor in a box and carted it out of there while they fussed and hollered. (Don't worry, I did give them plenty of notice that they were to pick up the things they wanted to keep. The things they didn't want to pick up, I would happily take care of for them. Those are on their way to the attic this afternoon.)

Believe it or not, my kids were not very thrilled about this and took the opportunity to tell me just what they thought.

Child 1: You're so mean! You're the meanest mom ever!

Child 2: I know why you wanted to have children. You wanted to have children so you could torture us!

Child 3: I know you're not even our real mother. I remember being two years old in the orphanage before we came here. I wish we were still there.

Maybe we should screen Annie one more time if one of mine truly thinks it's better to live in an orphanage than to pick up a few things off their floor.

Kitchen Photos - 1/27/11

I'm putting up some recent pictures of our kitchen on our house blog.


Who's Confused? 1/27/11

The other day I walked into the kitchen to find this:

While they scrubbed, I could hear them sing:

It's a hard-knock life for us.
It's a hard-knock life for us.
Instead of treating we get tricked
Instead of kisses we get kicked
It's a hard-knock life.

So I foolishly said, "I know what you're playing. Which one of you is Annie?"

Chloe looks at me like that was the stupidest thing she's ever heard and said (and picture her saying this as if she's a teenager)

"No, we're playing Harry Potter."

"You're playing Harry Potter cleaning?"

"No, we're playing Harry Potter workshop."

Of course. There are tons of scenes in Harry Potter where Hermione and Ginny are scrubbing floors. I should have noticed the tie Chloe was wearing. It'd have clued me in since everyone at Hogwarts wears ties. Especially when they clean or act out Annie.


Know how some days don't seem to turn out the way you plan? Today was one of those days for us. It seemed like it'd be straightforward: take Caleb to a play date, come home in time for the insulation folks to finish insulating our house, do some housework, maybe bake a treat or two in my new kitchen.

Unfortunately, that's not how things worked for us.

On the way out the door to take Caleb to his friends' house, I realized I didn't have my keys. It would have been great if I had realized it before the door latched behind me. It's such a tease to look through the window and see my keys but have no way to get them. Of course I'm extra careful about keeping doors and windows locked so there was no way to even pry open a window. Luckily I had a spare car key in my purse so I was able to get Caleb to his play date. Then I was able to find Rob's new work phone number from our GPS (he can't use his cell phone in the OR and I didn't have the new number in my phone yet) and was able to let him know I'd be over to grab his house key. Things were pretty uneventful on the drive over, except for Chloe's begging to eat lunch with her dad. Never mind that it wasn't lunchtime or that we had people waiting for us at our house because by this time the insulation guys were waiting for us. We drive straight home and that ride was pretty uneventful too, except for a bout of motion sickness. Fortunately Chloe has gotten pretty good at throwing up into a cup. Unfortunately we didn't have a cup, only a small baby bottle Chloe had brought with her for who knows what reason. Anyway, I got home with a load of laundry to wash. Lucky me.

We got the insulation folks all set (they had come out last week to insulate and got almost half of the house done before realizing they didn't have the right amount of insulation listed in their paperwork, so they had to come out and finish today) and then I got to clean up the mess from yesterday's daddy-kid cookie baking adventure. I busied myself making a big batch of marinara sauce (too bad I didn't have any mozzarella cheese in the fridge) and thought about baking a treat. I did some shoveling (I figured I'd better shovel a path to the side door and one from the front door to the street so the kids don't have to tromp through the snow to get to the bus before it ices over tomorrow).

(Did I mention that I certainly hope there's school tomorrow? They had a snow day on Wednesday, another one on Thursday, a teacher work day on Friday, the weekend and then today's holiday. That was a surprise six day vacation. Wish I had known in advance - I'd have taken the kids out of town or at least planned something fun to do. There are rumors spreading that we'll have another snow day tomorrow...sure hope not!)

Anyway, the girls kept themselves busy today.

They turned a half a loaf of bread into PB&J sandwiches, cut into star shapes with a cookie cutter they found.

Camille "organized" our pantry. I did explain to her that we are going to put up shelves before we really put food in there, but she wanted to do this anyway.

Chloe took a well-deserved nap.

That gave her enough energy to do some art on the wall. This is after I told her she couldn't write her name on the wall again.

The Sun Came Out Today -1/15/11

Today we had a ladies' day out. My little ladies and I got dressed up and went to see a performance of Annie. We had such a great time. My sister and brother-in-law gave us the Annie Broadway soundtrack a couple of months ago, so we spent the drive up and back singing our favorite songs from the musical. I especially enjoyed listening to the girls sing along to the music.

After the performance we went to our favorite diner for lunch. It was so fun to spend a day doing girl things with my girls.

Here's a few pictures of the girls after we got home (I didn't want to bring my big camera with us to the show and I couldn't find the charger cord for the small camera).

Where Has Our Little Cat Gone - 1/10/11

After years of swearing we'd never be pet owners (dogs need too much attention and Rob's allergic to cats) we broke down. Maybe it was the day I stepped on the mouse outside on the front porch. Or maybe it was the day we discovered a mouse chewed its way into our van. Or maybe it was the first day we heard critters inside our walls (they turned out to be chipmunks, not mice). At some point Rob decided we needed a pet. Something low maintenance. Something that could earn its keep.

So we start looking around for a cat. I had lots of cats growing up and come from the school of thought that cats shouldn't really cost anything. Sure you have to feed them and get them their shots, but they're pretty inexpensive as far as pets go. We looked at the humane society, but thought maybe the perfect situation would be to find someone with a young cat (not kitten) that they just needed to find a new home for. We got so lucky.

We found a guy on craigslist who fosters cats. He had a couple of them, but the one who seemed best for us was a two year old black and white cat he called Oreo. He was all up to date on his shots and had a sweet temperament. We were sold.

When we went to pick him up, this cat ran right over to me to say hello. I'm not a cat person, but he showed his sweet personality from the beginning. The kids were so excited that not only were we finally getting a pet, but we were getting one that was named after junk food! At home the kids were so excited to show Oreo his new home: one of the kids shared Oreo's bowl of cat food. Another followed the cat around with his scratching post, calling "Here's your scratching post Oreo. Don't you want your scratching post?"

Oreo seemed happy to be with us, though he showed an obvious preference for Rob. He would jump onto our bed at night, crawl onto Rob's chest and stick his little kitty nose right into Rob's face in an Eskimo kiss. We loved that cat more than we thought.

About a month after we got him, the cat (who insisted he be an outdoor/indoor cat) got hit by a car. He then took off, hiding in the woods nearby. We figured he had gone off to die, but he came limping home around dinner time, obviously very hurt. We took him to the vet the next morning, anticipating that Oreo had a broken hip or internal bleeding or something. Nope. That lucky cat was just banged up and the vet sent us home with a bottle of kitty Advil. Less than a week later, you'd never know that anything had happened to him.

Typically Rob lets Oreo outside when he leaves for work in the morning. Today I was up earlier and let him out, so he came back inside when Rob left for the day. The big kids went to school a couple of hours later and I assumed Oreo had sneaked out the door. There was no sign of him around lunchtime or even when the kids came home from school. When he didn't come home at dinner, I started to worry. We kept whistling out the door for him throughout the evening, but he didn't come. Finally I went upstairs to put on my pajamas and looked for a fresh pair in the dryer.

And guess who popped out?

Our cat spent the day in the dryer. Caleb had opened the dryer to get a pair of jeans and the cat must have gone in there while the door was open.

It must have been cozy and snug in there, but I certainly am glad no one turned the dryer on today!

Soldiers - 1/5/11

This afternoon Rob was home with our big one and little one while I had the one in the middle. They kept themselves busy playing war.

They built a fort out of paint a friend had given us (he's a painter and had tons of leftover paint - much of it not even opened - in his basement that his wife wanted him to get rid of so she could have the basement back!) and the cans that I haven't gotten to putting in the basement yet. They took turns guarding the fort.

Caleb either took a break or is using the clementine in his hand as a grenade.

Chloe had much success guarding the fort with her caulk gun. No one dared mess with her.

What's My Name? - 1/5/11

Since I changed my name when I got married, I have adopted the habit of spelling my last name to ensure it's spelled correctly. My brother-in-law usually says, "Rollins. It's like Collins, but with an R." Maybe I should try that more often because I get our name spelled incorrectly all the time.

Usually I get Rawlins, Rawlings, Rollings. Today when our new sink came, my name was written on the packing slip in a manner I've not seen before.

Yes. You are reading that correctly. Roloins.

As you can probably well imagine, I've been snickering at this all day. If you're going to misspell someone's name, you may as well make it entertaining!

House Blog - 1/4/11

New photos are up on our house blog: a couple of the outside and a few snaps of our kitchen-in-progress.


Kitchen - 1/4/11

When people find out that we're doing this major home renovation project, one of the first things they usually ask is what I am doing for a kitchen. For those of you who have wondered, here's your answer:

We have a refrigerator, a microwave, a toaster oven, several crockpots, and more small appliances than necessary. In the fall, we had all of this stationed downstairs in the room that is now almost a kitchen. However, when we began hanging drywall, we moved all of this kitchen paraphernalia to our upstairs hallway. (To recap: We are currently living in half of the upstairs. We have two bedrooms, a bathroom,a laundry closet, and a large hallway.)

It's not ideal, but for now it works - as long as I don't want to make anything in a 9x13 pan. (Our toaster oven isn't that big.)

So without further ado, here are a couple of snaps of our "kitchen" this evening.

So spacious, I know!

What's for dinner?

We had salad, pork loin and sweet potatoes. With Easy Bake Oven brownies for dessert, courtesy of Camille's culinary skills.

If I could make lemon meringue pie in my dorm microwave freshman year, this is cake!

Back to the Old Grind - 1/3/11

Vacation is (finally) over and things are starting to get back to normal. I love Christmas, but this year I am especially glad that all of the festivities are over. Now we can get back to school schedules, regular sleep schedules, and the like.

The kids went back to school this morning. Rob started his new job this morning. He's been working in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for the past two years and is moving to a different hospital in the Operating Room. I'm hopeful that he'll enjoy this position more since he liked working in the OR as a surgical tech before he got his nursing degree. I'm especially excited that he will be working eight hour days, from 7-3, so he'll be home every night for dinner. And he'll be home to help put the kids to bed every night. And he'll be around so if I want to sneak off somewhere in the evening, I can do so without dragging the kids with me or arranging for a babysitter. I know Rob will really miss his whole days off so he can work on the house, but we'll have to just chip away at it a little at a time.

Speaking of the house, now that our walls are up, finished and primed, we can start working on cosmetic things - work that other people can identify as progress. Chloe and I are heading to the granite place in a little while to put in our order for counter tops. Our stove is supposed to be in this week, so in theory we may actually have a functional kitchen within the next couple of weeks. Hooray!

Too Strong - 1/3/11

This morning Chloe asked for a banana with peanut butter. I was in the middle of something, so I told her she could pick out her own banana. A minute later, she comes in the room, frustrated.

"I'm trying to get my banana off, but it's just too strong!"

At the Beach - 1/1/11

We were out and about this week and found ourselves at the beach, of all places! I love the beach more in the non-summer seasons, I think. It was cold and very windy and we only stayed a few minutes, but the kids had a great time.

See, look! They're all smiling!

That's better!

The girls really liked watching these ducks.

Caleb was more interested in climbing these slippery rocks.

Everyone had fun hunting for shells. I tried to convince them to skip the ones that were all sandy and to really look for just one or two special shells. The kids had a different theory: the more shells you have, the more special they are. Now ask me what my poor car thinks. On the agenda this week: clean out the sand and shells!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Blog

So I figure that since it's a new year, maybe everyone can forget what lame bloggers we've been if we start over with a clean slate and a new blog.

From now on, check us out here:

Over the next while, we'll also be updating our house blog. When we do, we'll link it again from the new blog.

See you over there!