This Moment

This first year of motherhood is overwhelming, joyful, and stretches you beyond your limits. Eventually, the children learn to amuse themselves, though they still need you for many, many things. Once Bairn4 turned one, I started writing again. I wrote a book, Mob Rule Learning.

It was an interesting process, writing non-fiction. I found through the process that I preferred writing non-fiction in the length of articles and blog posts, not books. The process did give me the confidence to try something new and different.

Then Bairn1 came along and I was again in the throes of high maintenance motherhood. The youngest Rochesterling has achieved the ability to amuse himself and thus I have again been writing. All the free time I could squeeze out has been spent working on a new project.

I wrote a novel, a fantasy romance, that has been bouncing around in my head for a very long time. Unlike the non-fiction experience, it was exhilarating. I am now polishing up the manuscript for submission. That part of the process makes me freeze with anxiety and fear. I have determined that one step at a time is the best way to tackle the anxiety of the submission process.

I have begun, in the past year, to drop my ALA committments and disengage from libraryland. Oh, I still follow mostly librarians on Twitter, though they are starting to be outnumbered by editors, publishers, and writers. I will still be presenting at Internet Librarian in October. I loved being a librarian and I may be one again, some day, but my heart’s desire is to write more. Now that Bairn4 and Bairn1 are older, I can write more here, there, and everywhere.

Being at home means I can juggle writing in between quiet time, preschool, and PBS Kids. I am going to use this opportunity to see what I can do.

That is where I am at this moment. A once librarian (and maybe again some day) stay at home mom who wants to write stories with kissing in them.

–Jane, happy with her place

Romance Heroes

I am currently reading Everything I Know About Love I Learned From Romance Novels by Sarah Wendell. Actually, I am going to set this to post tomorrow and I might have devoured the book by then. If you love romance, you are a scoffer of the genre, or you just do not get it, you must read this book. Now. Go.

It is both hilarious and touching to read how romance has impacted its readership. I am almost halfway through the book and I just finished the section on the top 9 romance heroes. I was a little meh on the list as I read it as none of my favorites were listed, until I got to the top two: Jamie Fraser from Outlander and Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. *swoon* Both books are my two favorites of all time and by extension the heroes are two of my favorite as well.

Outlander is one of the books that I bang people over the head with until they read it. When I was in grad school, my roommate, the only other person I had met up until that point that read as much as I did, had never read Outlander. It was too much romance for her and I never did succeed in forcing that book upon her.

However, about a year after I graduated, got a job, and moved to a different city, my friend and former roommate called me. Instead of the usual greeting, she said, “I want to marry Jamie Fraser!” I giggled gleefully, knowing full well the rabbit hole she had fallen into. Honorable, but flawed, men in kilts. Be still my heart.

There are two heroes not on Sarah’s list that are on mine:

Fenris from Castle of the Wolf
I can not tell you all the ways I love this book and its characters. I have reread it almost every year since first discovering it, thanks to the Smart Bitches. Why do I love Fenris? On the surface he is a snarling, uncaring, and crippled beast, but underneath he is a man who wants only to protect his family and live a dignified life (and find love, though of course he does not know THAT… yet). There are so many scenes in the book that reveal the true heartache of the hero and his struggle to be a better man for the heroine, Celia. The main characters strive to be better in different ways because they love their partner enough to want to be worthy of them. Isn’t that really what true love is?

Mr. Rochester from my real life
I am not talking about Mr. Broody Pants on the Moors by Bronte. I am talking about my Mr. Rochester who recently performed the very important quest of rescuing a silver earring from the drain of the sink, the man who refills my beer (that we homebrewed together!), who does the dishes, loves my cooking, calls me out when I am being less than I can/should be, rolls his eyes at my bad jokes, is a total nerd (just like me but in different ways), makes me laugh, is a wonderful dad, and can still kiss me senseless. Every girl should be as lucky as me.

Whoever your favorite romance hero is, I hope you visit him soon, in the pages of your favorite book or when you lay your head next to his at night.

–Jane, everyone needs a little romance

Things I Learned From My High School Band Director

You jocks may seek to argue with me, but the class that taught me the most in high school was not Geometry, Chemistry, or even English (though that was my first love). The thing that taught me the most, the things I remember and use even now, was band and it was mostly due to one person. Mr. Johnson.

First, perhaps I should explain something to those of you who may live outside of Texas. There is one thing that rules high school: football. Football and all things related. High School band, whatever it was where you lived, is serious business in Texas. We practiced as much, and often more, than the football team. We received more standing ovations than our team did and they went to the playoffs almost every year. We gave sweat and tears to our field. You have to love something a heck of a lot to practice it in 100 degree heat on an asphalt lot.

So band was not something we just did. It was something we breathed in High School.

Mr. Johnson shepherded us from a fairly crappy band into something great. A band that won awards nationally. It was amazing to be a part of that transformation. Mr. Johnson taught me some lessons I will never forget.

Mr. J taught me how to win. He taught me that winning was hard work involving hours of toil, sometimes heartache, for one shiny moment. I learned that in order to be good, I also had to be on a good team. To be on a good team, I had to help people around me be better. In band, you are only as good as your worst player, and to be really great, you have to lift up those around you and be willing to learn from others. Teamwork was winning together.

Mr. J also taught me how to lose. One year, we went to a competition and gave it everything. We were, in our minds, far and above, finally good enough to break into the top ten finalists. We knew it. Felt it. But when the results came down and we had failed, according to the judges, I was angry, incensed. Mr. J though, he said he was proud of us. That we had never been better. That we had done our best and THAT was the best part of the day. Then, I only felt bitterness at something denied, but now, with years behind that memory, I know that I learned that day how to accept failure when your best is not good enough. Mr. Johnson taught me to be humble and feel blessed by my opportunities, regardless of the outcomes. I did not appreciate it then, but I surely do now.

Mr. J also taught me that adults in my life truly cared about me. He did, truly, deeply care about his students. I will never forget the day I sorely disappointed him in a way I have never disappointed another adult growing up. I still think about that day and I hope he knows that it was the folly of youth that made me reckless. Later, it was his anger that made me rethink my choices. What a fool is youth!

Lastly, the most important thing I learned: how to fold pants properly. This may seem frivolous, but I assure you, it is not. As a girl, I did not have occasion to fold dress pants as a kid. Why would I when I could so much better show off in a skirt? In band, the seam on your pants is critical. It is a uniform because you are all supposed to be uniform. A wrinkled uniform, an unruly plume, a step out of line, these are all things you strive to banish. For the first few weeks every year, Mr. J would patiently stand up at the front of the group and demonstrate how to fold pants.

Put the seams together at the cuffs. Tuck under your chin. Grab the seams farther down the pants, towards the waist, with your fingers and flip. Place carefully on the hanger and clip them in. All the while making sure the seams are all lined up.

I never fail to remember those demonstrations every time I fold pants. I also remember the “I don’t want to hear that you forgot ‘fill in the blank’ “ discussions we had every Friday before loading the buses. If you left something behind, it was your fault, your responsibility. And for those of you doubting, A missing “fill in the blank” let everyone down. Your failure impacted everyone.

Band made me a better person. The people I am still friends with in high school were all in band. Mr. Johnson taught me a lot about life. Things I never appreciated until I had some years past high school behind me. I am blessed that during that time in my life, I was shepherded by a caring and Christian man.

Mr. J has been directing bands for 27 years. He is retiring this year. I hope he knows that he is well loved and has impacted more lives than most of us could dare to hope for.

–Jane, Thank You Mr. Johnson for everything you do

Friday Bits

I have realized that I put a lot of things on Twitter that I used to post in random posts here. I do not want to make all my tweets come here (how annoying is that all the time?), but I think I should try to put more of the random here for you, the readers I love.

The following link is NSFW because of language. This stand up bit by Louis CK about the differences between girls and women is hilarious. Fabulously, hilarious.

I am currently reading two books:
At Grave’s End by Jeaniene Frost (fluff with the undead)
Tribes by Seth Godin (be a leader already)

The new podcast that I am listening to and love is Slice of SciFi. Why have I not listened to this before? I do not always agree with them (they are not big fans of District 9 for instance), but the banter is superb and the geekery… it’s awesome.

Mr. Rochester and I are popping open the Trappist Ale we have had aging in the fridge. I think it is the perfect way to end the week. Next on the brew list is malted apple cider and some pumpkin ale.

–Jane, happy, content, may you be also

Restless Whining

I have felt a general restlessness of late, the origin of which I think stems form many things.

Many of my librarian friends have been in Denver at Midwinter. Not only are they in one of my favorite locales, the mountains, they are there, having fun, without me. I suddenly feel like the lonely kid on the playground, sitting on the seesaw all by myself. I received some good news from one of my friends, but it was older news (though new to me) and made me feel even more out of the loop. Like the loop has passed me by.

Thinking about this and walking to our car on Friday, I told Mr. Rochester that I missed my friends and that I missed traveling. I made sure to clarify that I did not miss my job! I only missed the fun traveling and cavorting in different cities with people that I respect and love. It is the truth. I miss my profession. I certainly do not miss my job.

The second reason for my malaise is that the Rochester family has been busy this past week planning a series of trips for the upcoming months. I love nothing as much as I love to travel. Well, I do love coffee and the mountains… can I have a vacation involving both?

Viola. Maybe not mountains, but the Rochester clan, along with all of the in-laws, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. of Mr. Rochester, are going to Costa Rica in June. I am very excited about going back to the place with the most beautiful, wild beaches I have ever seen. Any family outing this long and lasting a week should be hilarious and crazy enough to make a sane person loony. I think plenty of pina coladas will take the edge off enough.

We are also going to Boston for a long weekend in April, to Florida in June, and to Chicago for Annual in July. All this planning, while great, only makes me want to go right this moment. Like now.

And that is enough whining for today, tomorrow, and the rest of the week!

–Jane, will have to be patient

With a Thankful Heart

It has been a banner year for thankfulness at the Rochester household. Some things I am thankful for are simple and some are more dear, more complex. Here is a list of things this year has brought me.

Good coffee with real cream – My mother-in-law always drinks real cream in her coffee, and after a recent vacation with her, I have realized that nothing quite beats the creamy goodness of cream in coffee. Foolishly, I have tried substitutions, but nothing beats the original. I recently discovered Peet’s coffee and I think this duo has made mornings a beautiful thing. Something has to make getting up around 5:30 a pleasure, besides the little smile and big blue eyes that greet me. The Wee Bairn wakes my heart and the coffee wakes my mind.

Good books and movies – While nursing the Wee Bairn, I have spent many hours reading and watching movies (Thank you for movies that come in the mail!). In the past few months, I have escaped as everything from a Spook to a dragon rider.

Family – The Rochester clan is large, noisy, opinionated, stubborn, and has a propensity to imbibe a bit too much at times, but I can not imagine going through the past year without them.

Mr. Rochester –With the crazy first wife in the attic business behind us, he is the most amazing man and the very best Dad.

The Wee Bairn – He had a rough start, my wee man, but he brings joy to my life everyday. I never knew that you could love in quite this way. I have come to realize that God must love us for the beauty that we hold in infancy and that is the image He keeps of us as we grow into headstrong adults.

Provisions for each day and the breath to enjoy it – I have all that I need and I am alive to see the sun each day. What a blessing!

–Jane, is thankful and wishes blessings upon her readers

Priorities

Life amuses me.

For about the past 4 months I have agonized over my lack of time to do a few things:

    Clean the entire house at once. It is now done in batches.
    Read my RSS feeds on library news or any news for that matter.
    Check my email everyday.
    Write in this space or any space.
    Take naps.

I worry that you are all wasting away for lack of posts here, in this space, though I know the world goes on without me and that is hard as well. (Ironically, as I type this, the reason for my compressed schedule has awoken with an expressed need for me and so I will continue this later.)

(days later, it turns out) When I used to talk about technology in libraries, people would often ask where they were supposed to find the time for these new things. Time for the learning curve. Time in the daily routine. Simple Time. My reply was always the same. If it is important, you make time. You trim the things that have become less important. It was true then and it will always be true.

You spend time on the things you value. Where you spend your time, there your heart is also. (paraphrased Luke 12:34)

I have decided to stop beating myself up about my lack of posts here. I will post when I can and feel good about it when I do. I will stop being sad about not writing more and simply be happy when I do find time and have something to say. Rest assured this space will not go away, I just will not be as prolific as I have been in the past. I hope you will keep this in your feed readers so that every other week or so you can still get a dose of Jane.

I think as the Wee Bairn gets a little older my time will free up in different ways.

In this season of my life, my family is more important than anything else. The Wee Bairn only gets one Mom and I only get one shot at this Mom thing for him. I want to enjoy it and be free in that choice.

I will still be around in other ways. I am mentoring an Emerging Leaders group and I am working on a sweet unconference shindig with Meredith Farkas as part of Jim Rettig’s Presidential Initiatives. ALA Annual 2009 will be my first conference after a long hiatus.

–Jane, happy to have this written, finally

Oh, Internets, I Never Knew How Much I Loved You

Dear, lovely, readers, it has been a sad, sad past few weeks for Jane. I have been without the Internet and Cable since the hurricane. This would normally be a trial, but since I also stay home full time, I feel like I have been stranded on some hellish island in which I only have access to local news and NPR in the morning. For the record, I love NPR and hate local news.

I never realized how much I love my DVR and hate commercials. I do not even know when shows come on anymore because my DVR has made me so incredibly lazy.

Last night, Mr. Rochester worked a miracle of Moses proportions and we are now connected to the rest of the world. Thank God for smart husbands who refuse to stop looking at every possible avenue when I have long since given up in despair.

I know, as librarians, many of you are thinking that I should have just gone to the library or a friend’s house to pilfer their tubes. Yes, excellent idea, but it is hard to slog through 3 weeks of email with a squirmy 5 month old on your lap. The few times I was able to get online it was for emergency and triage purposes only.

If you have been waiting for an email from me, please give me a couple days to catch my breath. I feel like an addict who has been denied their drug of choice too long and I can scarcely decide what to do first. Vacation photos? A post here? A family update? Shopping? Research? Reading? Porn? (because you know the Internet is only for porn)

I think I need lunch before diving completely in.

–Jane, so happy to be back to normal

Jane’s Ike Adventure

All is well in the Rochester household, though we are still without cable and internet. A small loss, comparatively, but largely felt by all concerned. I have appropriated the Grandparents Eyre’s computer for a couple hours to go through my obese email inbox and type this missive.

When it became apparent two weeks ago that Hurricane Ike was indeed bearing down upon Houston, we started making plans about what we would do. We live in Evacuation Zone A, 3 miles from the Kemah boardwalk which I have been told was all over the national news. (Sadly, that gaudy strip is still there while the houses around it are in shambles.) Had the storm surge been the 18+ feet that was predicted, we likely would have had water in our house. As it was, God was watching over us, and our house, at least, was safe from the water.

We boarded up the front windows, the ones which were the most vulnerable and which were closest to the TV and stereo system. Priorities, you see. I put four bags of ice in our deep freezer and crossed my fingers that it would be enough. We packed our car with a few days clothes, our important documents, the Wee Bairn Rochester, the dog, and the sugar glider and headed north.

We landed on the north side of Houston proper, in an area called The Heights, where Mr. Rochester’s sister, brother-in-law, and parents live. Thursday night was uneventful. Friday dawned and we watched the sky and the trees as they started their windy dance.

We stayed up playing games and checking the news as the weather deteriorated. The lights flickered on and off all evening and they finally went out for good around 9:30. I always find it strange how quiet things are when we are not surrounded by the hum of our electronic lives. We continued playing cards by candlelight and went to bed after midnight.

The wind woke me up around 3:30. I remember Hurricane Alicia as a child, but I had forgotten that particular noise 110 mph wind makes as it whips everything in its path. A wind that fast can not even be called a howling wind; it is altogether something else. Every now and then a gust would come that would suck the air before it, as if it had to breathe in to achieve a Big Bad Wolf moment, and then it would roar past, rattling the windows and the walls ferociously.

We were in what I figured was a pretty strong house, having been newly built, so I was not worried about the roof caving in and I listened to the storm with awe instead of fear. Pullo, the Rochester dog, became restless sometime after 4, and would not quiet down. It occurred to me that I heard dripping coming from the floor above. I went to check it out and the ceiling was leaking in a couple places on that level. The whole house was roused and we quickly placed various containers for catching the water under the drips.

Minus the influx of water, which was minor, comparatively, we weathered the storm well. We sweltered away in the heat and humidity for a couple days. Without electricity, we were at the mercy of the slightest breeze and clouds for comfort. We had two crank radios with which we listened to for a few minutes every hour or so to try to hear what was going on in the world around us. We drank water from our water container we had filled before the storm and forwent showers.

The nights were hot. Unlike other places, Houston does not enjoy a cooling period at night in the summer. It remains hot and humid 24 hours a day. We drank warm beer and wine and played cards. One night, over poker and the last of the beer, I told Mr. Rochester that it felt like were in extras in the movie A Time to Kill, where they were always sweaty and drinking beer. Of course, the actors looked much better than we did. At least they had had showers before sweating profusely.

Monday, we decided to brave the roads and see what had become of our neighborhood. Everywhere along our route home there were buildings, awnings, and various things that had lost the battle between wind and rain. Most of the traffic lights were either out or completely gone. It is hard traveling home, not knowing what you will find.

We live in a newer neighborhood, so there are only small trees. As a result, there was very little damage in our area. Even roofs appeared intact. Amazingly, our house was exactly as we had left it. We even had electricity and all the meat in the freezer was still frozen. Even the sour cream in the fridgerator was good enough to eat. We had not been without power long. It was quite wonderful and I again felt blessed for the things I have been given.

Other neighborhoods did not fare so well. Areas with a lot of tree coverage had a lot more damage to power lines and structures. Driving to my grandparent’s and uncle’s houses was interesting. Piles of tree limbs and debris, larger than my car (I drive a large SUV), sat at the end of every driveway and yard. We went by Kemah on Sunday as we went to church and the piles of limbs were joined by the entire contents of houses and businesses as people tossed away lives that had been flooded in the surge.

Life is slowly getting back to normal. Many of our favorite places were flooded and will be closed for weeks or months. Activities that filled my week, like things at church, are still suspended as our efforts are given to others instead of ourselves. My in-laws still do not have power, almost two sweltering weeks later. The mosquitos, suddenly larger than normal (they could carry off small children in a pinch), are everywhere. We are without cable or the internet. I have been at the mercy of the local news (Lord, help me) and if it were not for NPR, I would have no idea what was transpiring outside of my region.

I will try to post intermittently when I can get online access, but we have no promise about when the cable issue will be fixed. It is a small one, but one that once fixed, will greatly help me feel like life is back to normal. I never realized how very much I am in love with my DVR.

In sum, the Rochesters are doing well. Thankful to have survived another storm in our lives with relatively little bruising and each other intact.

–Jane, feels blessed

Ike, Take a Hike

We at the Rochester household weathered Ike fine, bunkered down in North Houston. We were without power and water for a few days, but we survived and that is all that matters.

With much trepidation, we journeyed back home on Tuesday. Happily, we found our home intact and water free. Even more exciting was the fact that we had power. Sadly, we have no Internet or cable, so I am typing this at the good ol’ public library. Thanks HCPL!

I will post more soon, when we are back up and running like normal.

–Jane, happy to be here