Happy 14th Birthday, Ella

Dear Ella,

Happy 14th birthday to you, my sweet flower child. Last year your birthday was pretty dang awful. I'm so glad that we were able to make it up to you this year and that everything went great! You decided (pretty last minute) that you were going to have a birthday party at our clubhouse pool, and we made it happen. But more on that later. 

On a related side-note, next year you'll be able to have your 15th birthday party at our house in our new pool! :)

This year really was a whirlwind and full of personal tests; mental, physical, emotional, academic. An opportunity came up where you (and Ronin) could attend Learning Gate Community School, an environmental magnet school in Lutz. This came together very quickly. Only one day before school was to begin at Learning Gate. LGCS is in a different county, so their start date was earlier than had you stayed at PVMS. We went and toured LGCS and you loved it and we thought it would be a good fit. You seemed excited to be in a new place and make new friends. You started off the school year wanting to be a botanist. You ended the school year wanting to be an FBI Agent or CIA Operative. You started the school year around 5'4. You ended the school year at nearly 5'9, and wearing a size 10 shoe. WHAT??


These pants fit you in December. In 5 months you grew like 5 inches! 


This year was not without its challenges. You did great with making friends at your new school, and you even had your first real boyfriend. 

We did some of our normal traditions this year. We continued our annual trek to Busch Gardens for Howl-O-Scream, and this year Ronin went with us (thank goodness) and you and him were able to explore some of the scare zones.


And for the first time in a few years we went back down to Venice for Christmas. After we celebrated with family, I took the three of you to Siesta Key. I have taken you here before, but none of you remembered it. It just so happened that the night we went (Sunday, December 23) was "drum circle" night so we had that experience that evening, too.

And then in rolled 2019. Things sort of fell apart for a little while, but we got it all back together, and in May you graduated from 8th grade! I'm so proud of you. You really worked hard.

During this period of self-discovery, you found skateboarding! You really are a natural and work so hard at getting better. Not a day goes by when you aren't out on your board. 

And then summer vacation was upon us before we knew it! After our mishap on your birthday last year, Daddy and I decided to forego a family vacation and instead flew you and Haley up to visit with your Nanny for nearly 3 weeks, and you went on so many fun adventures: Dollywood, zip lining, cave exploring, and so much more!

I wish I knew what you and Haley were laughing about in this photo. You were at Bush's Baked Beans with your Nanny. I'm sure that it's probably fart related. 

You and Haley flew up to North Carolina all by yourselves! You navigated through the airports, and baggage claim with ease and confidence. 



You even packed your skateboard and went skating on vacation!

You flew home and 4 days later it was your birthday! You wanted a pool party and we managed to pull it off! You had a great time and so did your friends! We had pizza and cake and other snacks. There was a lot of laughing, lots of swimming, and you all even went out to the playground and played on the swings. 

And now the next chapter in your life is about to start; 9th grade and the start of high school. You decided that you were going to join the band as a member of the Color Guard, and I'm excited for your new band adventures. 

Ella, you are such a good girl. Kind and sweet. Full of empathy and goodness. I'm proud to be your mama. Now let's make this year the best one EVER!





Dear Annie Spence

Dear Annie,

You are my spirit animal. I will be recommending your book to everyone I know that loves reading. And even those that don't love reading will probably get the recommendation because as you said "somewhere in the past (and more in the future, if you have anything to do with it) a book has changed your life." Well Annie, your book has changed my life. Why have I never thought about writing love letters and breakup notes to the books in my life? I loved your book so much that I'm not even angry at you for writing the book before I could think of doing it. 

How do you just "get it" Annie? How do you know that The Goldfinch is also a book that I recommend to everyone, also breaking the Librarian's Reader's Advisory Code? Side note...another book I recommend is A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. This book wrecked me and I think about it (as well as Finchy) every damn day. I went as far as choosing The Goldfinch for my monthly book club. Did you do that?? My fellow librarians thought I was crazy. But guess what? ALL 30 COPIES WERE CHECKED OUT!! True, only 5 people came to book club, but if that means 5 more Tampa people read The Goldfinch than I succeeded in my mission to bring Finchy to the masses. 

I could go on and on. Grey. No Thanks. Not ever happening. I will admit to reading the first 3 (oh please inner goddess, just go away) but only because my sister (who NEVER reads. Like NEVER EVER) read them. Any anything that gets my sister to read I just had to see what all the fuss was. Thankfully I'm a fast reader so those 5 hours (that I'll never get back) at least gave me an inner view of my sister's psyche. 

Your chapter about The Fancy Bookshelf had me screaming "oh my god, someone else tells public library stories when they get drunk." And while you shout "I disseminate information to the masses" my phrase tends to be "I am an information wizard" and when someone replies "how do you know that?" My standard reply comes from Tyrion Lannister "that's what I do. I drink and I know things."

You book list Readin' Nerdy: Books About Librarians is about the best thing I have ever seen. So refreshing to see books about librarians where we are not, as you state [being rescued from spinsterhood and turned naughty or bludgeoned to death. Or both!]

I would add one more book to your list and that would be The Invisible Library series by Genevieve Cogman. And while it may be true that Librarian Irene may need to be rescued by Librarian-in-Training Dragon Kai, I'm okay with that. He's a librarian, too. And he can rescue me anytime! 

But I must know. The film Beauty and the Beast. Are you refering to the cartoon version or the live action version? Because I was honestly let down by the library in the live action film. Would I love to have it? WITHOUT A DOUBT. But I was expecting so much MORE!