Thursday, October 29, 2015

A Day in the Librarian Life, Part 2

It's been about a month since I returned to work from maternity leave, so I thought it was high time for another Day in the Life post with a twist: Working Mom Librarian Life. Ooooooh. Let's get started.


6:30am - Penelope is awake and ready for the day! I nurse her while watching an old episode of The Mindy Project.

6:50am - Matt picked up coffee on his way back from the gym and brought me a salted caramel mocha! I know it's all about pumpkin spice in the fall, but I'm a SCM girl through and through. So already the day is off to a great start.  Can you tell my love language is gifts?

8:30am- I leave for work with my coffee, work tote, and pumping supplies in tow! On the way, I listen to my favorite podcast of the moment, Criminal.

8:52am - I have arrived! The Library opens at 9:30am so we have until then to prepare the department for patrons. I log in to the ref desk computers, turn on the copier, and tidy up in the Teen Area.

9:10am - First pumping session of the day. I use a Spectra S2 hospital-grade pump (which I love and would highly recommend) and pump for about 20 minutes. Then it's off to the ref desk to do some Librarian-ing!

9:30-11:30am - On Desk! I bring some book review journals to study in between helping patrons.

11:45 - Look who came to visit! Matt is on paternity leave right now and most days he'll bring the baby so I can nurse during my lunch break. It's nice to be able to see her in the middle of the day and it's made the transition back to work a little easier.

12pm - Lunchtime for P! Do you like my red-orange top from LOFT? I stole it from my sister. Sorry, sister.

12:30pm - Lunchtime for me! I was so hungry I ate all of my adobo and rice before I could get a picture. And before you ask, yes, I did enjoy that Snickers bar, and yes, I did feel ill 15 minutes after finishing it.

1pm - Looks like everyone else got the memo about wearing red-orange today!

1:40pm - The book situation around here is a little dicey and it's time to do something about it. I have this pile of donations to sort through:

And I have to sort through these damaged books... decide which ones can be mended....

This one isn't actually damaged at all -- there was a glitch in cataloging and the system thinks it's a book about Islam. So yeah. Gonna get that fixed.

 ...and which are damaged beyond repair.

This book is what I internally refer to as a "goner."

Some damaged-beyond-repair books will be replaced; some won't, especially if we have lots of duplicate copies (e.g. summer reading books or once-popular books that aren't as popular anymore).

2:05 - My coworker KR is updating the Library's social story. We've had a few personnel changes since it was first created. Aren't we a friendly looking bunch?

2:24pm - Behold the newest additions to the Library's Teen collection!

2:50pm - Here's a sneak peek at the Hunger Games trivia questions I'm writing/compiling for this year's Mockingjay Part II Release party. This'll be the sixth (!!) Hunger Games themed event I've planned at the Library. Hey, the kids keep coming!

3:10pm - Second pumping session. This time I go for about 25 minutes. If anyone would like to hear more about my experience pumping at work and my preferred pumping gear, let me know in the comments.

3:35- I'm called into a January programming meeting so we can synchronize our calendars. I feel like a good planner is a librarian's holy grail. Everyone's looking for the perfect one. I couldn't find something pre-made that worked for me so I ended up DIY-ing a custom planner using an Avery Discbound binder (mine is no longer available but here's something similar), printable monthly planner sheets (via iheart organizing) and Girl of allWork peel-and-stick monthly tabs.

4:00- Back on the desk! Checking out books and looking up some fresh ideas for my Hunger Games party. Before I know it, the last hour is over.

5:05- Another red-orange garment spotted in the parking lot! You like that jack-o-lantern? I ain't some kind of privacy-violating punk that posts pics of people's faces on the interwebs without permission!

5:13- Finally heading home!


Things haven't changed much since my last Day in the Life post -- still handling books, still planning programs, and still commenting on my department's killer fashion sense. The only thing that's really changed is that now I do it all on less sleep! Thanks for tagging along with me at work today. Hope you enjoyed it!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Baby Favorites: Newborn - 2 months

This is a not-so-short list of some of our most-used and most-loved baby stuff and HOO BOY do I have a lot of thoughts. So let's dive right in, shall we?

Fisher Price Rock 'n Play

The day we brought Penelope home we plopped her in this rocker and she immediately fell asleep while we ate lunch. I remember being irrationally worried that she would start crying inconsolably the moment we crossed the threshold, so seeing her in this thing, happy as a clam, set me at ease. Looking back, it was the first step to Finding My Chill about this whole baby thing.

aden + anais Bamboo Swaddle

I had actually MEANT to register for the original aden + anais cotton muslin blankets, and I'm so glad I got confused and registered for these instead because they are amazing. First of all, they are insanely soft yet lightweight (seriously, I wish they made them in Adult Size). But more importantly they are huge and can be used for anything from a receiving blanket to a car seat cover to a last minute diaper changing pad. I'm assuming they'd be great for swaddling as well, but I wouldn't know because from birth we have swaddled her with the...

Halo SleepSack Swaddle

Velcro swaddlers are The Way Forward. There are a lot of different kinds out there (Summer Infant Swaddle, Miracle Blanket, Woombie, etc.) but this is the one that works best for us. P is starting to outgrow it and I would be panicking if I didn't think she was almost ready to sleep unswaddled. <sniff> She's growing up too fast!

WubbaNub Pacifier

Ok so, we HAD one of these (a lamb! it was so cute) but then Franklin CHEWED OFF ITS FACE in the middle of the night. So we are going to get a new one. I mainly like it because it's cute. It also helps with Lost Pacifier Phenomenon since it's too big to slip into a couch cushion or under her leg.

Boppy Newborn Lounger

It's like a LA-Z-Boy for babies! She really likes hanging out on this. And like that it's so portable. It's a lot easier to bring this to the grandparents' house than the Rock 'n Play.

HoMedics mybaby SoundSpa On-the-Go

My coworker gave this to me and it's ACTUALLY essential.  Like, I never leave home without it. We usually have it on the ocean setting but there are other sounds like heartbeat and music that your little one might prefer.

aden + anais Burpy Bibs

Love these. They get softer the more you wash them and they become a bib when baby gets older!

Boon Grass Drying Rack

I stayed at my mom's house this past week and have been LOST without this drying rack made especially for baby bottles. I would highly recommend getting the flower and butterfly attachments as pictured!


P had diaper rash for a while and we made a bunch of changes to try to figure out what was causing it. Nothing really seemed to help until we switched to these super mild wipes. (They are a bit pricey but you can get a pretty good deal on Amazon.)

Skip Hop Treetop Friends Activity Gym

Around 5 weeks we noticed that Penelope was tracking objects with her eyes and seemed really interested in anything hanging overhead. I laid her on this activity mat and she went bananas. Each little hanging ornament has its own sensory purpose -- the squirrel squeaks, the owl has chimes inside, the apple is a mirror, one of the birds chirps, and the other bird (her favorite) is a rattle.

Dinosaur vs. Bedtime by Bob Shea

Reading to newborn sometimes feels like you're just reading to yourself, but I swear P actually PAYS ATTENTION to this book -- maybe because of the bright colors, or maybe because reading the book requires you to act like a dinosaur and make loud roaring noises. As a librarian and picture book enthusiast, I already thought this book was awesome, but now that I've read it aloud many (many many) times, I especially like that it's surprisingly free-form and allows for different "performances" -- you can really make it your own!

Best of the Laurie Berkner Band

I won't get into all the dorky, childhood development-y reasons that I love this band's music (maybe another post). I'll just say: their songs are insanely catchy -- and not in a bad, "It's a Small World" way (in a good, Taylor Swift-y way!). The best part is seeing Penelope kick her legs and get excited when the music starts. Favorites include "I'm Gonna Catch You" and "We are the Dinosaurs."


So that's, like, hundreds of words on some of our favorite baby stuff. If any other moms are reading: what are/were your must-have items for your little ones? Let's talk about it in the comments!

Monday, August 17, 2015


1 week, 1 day old

Penelope Margot Brinn was born on June 28th, 2015 after 2 days of labor, 3 hours of pushing, and an emergency C-section. I spent 5 days in the hospital due to complications that arose after my delivery, but it was all worth it! I swear I'm not being sarcastic! Just look at this little peanut:

3 weeks old

1 month old 

Most people want to know how we came up with the name. Here's the short story: Penelope was Matt's pick. He was inspired by Odysseus' feisty and loyal wife Penelope in The Odyssey. Truth be told, it was at the very bottom of my list until we met her -- it just felt right. Margot was my pick. It's a French variant of Margaret, which has some sentimental significance because that's the name of Matt's late grandmother (his mom's mom). 

QT with Daddy

Another thing most people want to know: Is she a good baby? Well, I don't have any other children as a point of reference, but from what I can tell, she's pretty great. She's average to above-average in the sleep department  -- she likes to nap and gives us and a 4-to-6 hour stretch at night. Her temperament, like any baby, I guess, ranges from angelic to hangry to JIMMY CRANK CORN depending on factors that I don't always understand. But she is pretty dang adorable in any state, if you ask me. 

DEFCON level: 3, approaching 4

Also a popular question: How are YOU doing, mama? It's been a roller coaster. Physically, I'm almost fully recovered. Emotionally, I'm a work in progress. For her first few weeks home I think I cried more than she did. I had breastfeeding issues (that have since improved, but that's a post for another day). I'd had a traumatic birth experience that still I haven't fully processed. I also think I was just in shock that my life had changed so drastically in one day. 

But I started attending a lactation support group, which actually served double duty as a postpartum adjustment support group since it was the first time I'd been able to connect with other moms of very young babies. And I've had a lot of long vent sessions with my sister and Matt and my unsuspecting OB-GYN and uh, anyone nearby who would listen. Having support has gotten me this far without losing my mind, and I'm glad I have those resources and people to lean on in the future. I feel like I can truthfully say that though I have some down days, things are on the upswing. 

One of her first social (read: not related to diaper activities) smiles!

Despite my wildly shifting states of emotional distress, my love for for this little one has only grown, like, it's bordering on obsession at this point. I think about her all day, every day. My primary goal in life is making her comfortable and happy, even though she never says thank you and sometimes screams at me. If this were an adult relationship, my friends would be shouting DEALBREAKER at me from the rooftops (cut to a gif of Liz Lemon). 

If you have any more questions about how things are going with our little family, feel free to leave them in the comments or on Facebook and I'll do my best to answer them in a future blog post. 

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Down by the Bay: A Very Chesapeake Anniversary

We just got back from our super relaxing and food-filled mini-vacation to Oxford and St. Michael's Maryland! We were celebrating our second wedding anniversary.

Wanna see what we did? Ok, sure!

We found a Groupon for a 2-night stay at the Robert Morris Inn in Oxford, which is the oldest inn on the Eastern Seaboard or maybe in the entire United States? We were super pleased with its location -- as you can see, it's literally steps from the Cheasapeake Bay -- and its heaps of colonial-era charm. 

The Inn is also a restaurant. I could write a whole post reviewing the amazing food we ate there, but I'll just let this photo of their Eggs Benedict (with lump crab meat and spinach) speak for itself. 


We mostly ate, walked around the bay, and lounged around the Inn reading books, but we did drive out to St. Michael's for a day trip. 

We spent the whole morning exploring the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. To my surprise, it was an outdoor museum, which gave me pause considering it was 97 degrees that day, but most of the exhibits were in the shade (and some were inside of actual structures or air-conditioned buildings) and the breeze off the water helped a lot. 

My favorite exhibit was a recreation of the living and working quarters inside of the Hooper Strait Lighthouse. I love seeing what day-to-day life was like for people in the past, and life for a lighthouse operator was even more unique back then. 

A couple other places we checked out included a brewery (we drank beer), a winery (we drank wine), a Christmas-all-year shop (we bought a souvenir ornament for our tree), a novelty shop called The Preppy Redneck (we obviously had to go in with a name like that), a coffee shop (Matt had some coffee), and an ice cream parlor (we shared an excellent chocolate malt milkshake). 

(Not pictured: sharing.)

Thumbs up to Oxford and St. Michael's for hosting the most serene and easygoing vacation ever! Does anyone else frequent this area? What do you like to do when you're there?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A new perspective

I've been working on my photography skillz.

Obligatory rearview-mirror selfie, am I right? Am I right?

My first foray into photography started with a Canon EOS Rebel T2i, which, short story short, was stolen from a parking lot eight months after Matt and I bought it. Here's my favorite picture that I took with that camera. 

I loved that it photographed people so beautifully. It just lent this warmth and life to skin tones, eyes, and even hair. 

This past spring, my dad decided to hand me down his awesome Nikon D90, on one condition. He made me promise that I would really throw myself into learning about the camera and photography in general.  

So that's what I've been doing. For a while, I watched a lot of YouTube tutorials. And pestered my photography nut friends. And subscribed to a whole mess of photography blogs.

But I think the thing that has taught me that most is just breaking my camera out as much as possible.

After a few half-price Bay Breezes, this photo seemed like a really great idea.

Confession time: using my camera doesn't come naturally to me. It's a science as well as an art, and the technical side of things has been really hard to grasp. Most of the time I have no idea what I'm doing, especially in difficult (read: anything but ideal) light conditions. 

Flowers are an easy subject.

But when it all comes together, it's so worth it. I'm really proud of this photo I took of my family at my sister's graduation from the University of Delaware. It might look fairly standard, but it represents weeks of practice and learning. 

Plus it's just cute!

So yeah, enough about me! Is anyone else pursuing a skill or hobby that doesn't come naturally? Let's keep each other updated on our progress!