rockinlibrarian: (christmas)
This format worked really nicely last year, so I'll stick to something of the same:

Top 5 Real Life Happenings In My Life This Year:
1. I started writing for GeekMom, and the widespread positive public response to my articles has, well, totally made me feel better about myself as a writer.
2. Relatedly, I hit ten years writing on this LiveJournal.
3. "Top" is a misnomer, but when I look back at 2015, it's dominated by a lot of parental struggling, mostly involving dealing with Special Needs services and schools and trying to find the right solutions and making them all work together regarding a kid who has Kylo Ren's temperament which is disturbing. And the other kid had poison ivy (twice) and went to the emergency room (twice) and that's not even counting the stitches she got last December because that was 2014. Oh, I went to the emergency room once this year, too, because I was having a panic attack, and the doctors just wanted to make SURE it was JUST a panic attack, which it was and I had said so from the beginning but there went one evening and a good deal of money, but I did get a lot of reading in (see below). So anyway, that's the kind of year it was.
4. On a lighter note, at the library, I've added MORE OUTREACH VISITS, so now approximately half my work hours are spent being CHEERED GLADLY into various classrooms by story-eager kids, so I can dig it. Meanwhile, one of my younger coworkers decided to start a tabletop RPG club, so I called in my resident expert on the topic to talk to him. And somehow before he knew it J found himself RUNNING the library campaigns. Which means he hangs out with a bunch of people half his age every Saturday which for some reason I find endlessly amusing.
5. Oh, and we took another family camping trip this year, to Ohiopyle, and it was awesome. This included getting beat up sliding down waterfalls:
SAM_1042 (2).jpg
Going on a night hike frog (catch and release) hunt:

and nearly literally stumbling upon a pair of mating copperheads:

Also, a very active (every hour or so) railroad runs through the park, and every time he heard a train Sam would yell "BEST! CAMPING TRIP! EVER!" so apparently that's all you need.

Top 5 Library Programs I Ran:
1. Legendary Heroes: The Collaborative Summer Reading Program theme was Heroes, so I tackled a different kind of hero each week of my Family Night evening story time. The awesomest was when I created a "12 Labors of Legend" obstacle course, twelve different challenges relating to a different legendary or mythical story.
(And yeah, they're all pretty Eurocentric, but I had to use what I could find).
For example, beheading Medusa WITHOUT LOOKING:

Taking down Goliath the Cup Tower with foam balls:

And even identifying the True Prince among the changeling copies:


2. Ghostbusting: I'd seen a program suggestion for a ghost hunt but figured it would be more fun (and possibly preemptively less-scary-because-more-empowering?) for Halloween week to go full Paranormal Elimination with these Proton packs I threw together from junk I found in the storage closet:
There were powerful magnets in the ends of the tubes, and paper clips in the heads of the ghosts, which could then be sucked right up from all over the library:
Also this picture cracks me up:

3. Light Painting: Eventually I had to let my Library Explorers (a STEAM program) go because people stopped showing up, but we at least squeezed in this awesome experiment in January:


4. Dance Party: I made the awesomest playlist for this storytime (we'd take breaks in the dancing for dance-related stories). Songs came from every era of pop since the '50s and were nothing short of fun. We free-danced but we also had some fun with scarves and hula hoops and a parachute. A little girl who was barely walking yet showed up, but let me tell you, for someone who was barely walking she sure could dance!

5. Hobbit Day: Hobbit Day fell on the same date as Family Night this year, and it was the 60th anniversary of LotR, and my son is named after a hobbit, so as lack-of-age-appropriate-reading-materials as it was, I was throwing a Long-Expected Party, dangit. I DID plan to read a selection from the first chapter of The Hobbit, which is a really long chapter; I thought I might get some of the beginning of the party in, but we were lucky we made it even to Gandalf, to be honest. BUT, naturally, THERE WAS FOOD, so all is good:
Not nearly enough for a proper Hobbiton get-together, but way more than enough for my typical Family Night turnout.
We played Shoot the Oddly-Beanbag-Shaped-Arrow at Smaug:
And made our own hobbit feet:

Bonus: Summer outreach at the low-income-housing activity center. It was insanely enthusiastic. Which was the best program, though-- Ice Cream In a Bag? Glue Batiking? Sun prints? Don't know, but definitely highlight (and occasionally utter-disaster-light) of the year.

Top 5 2015 Picture Books I read:
This is actually kind of pathetic. I've been on top of things with ordering: I bought all the most buzz-worthy picture books of the year for the library. But when I looked through the catalog to refresh my memory on favorites, I realized I HAVEN'T ACTUALLY READ most of them yet. So I guess no Caldecott predictions from me this year?
1. Mr. Squirrel and the Moon, by Sebastian Meschenmoser. In fact my favorite isn't even Caldecott-eligible because it's a German import. Which is part of its charm, actually. In American publishing, cartoony animals mean a funny book, photo-realistic animals mean a serious book. European publishing isn't afraid to go against that expectation. So here you get photo-realistic animals in ever more ridiculous situations, and the surrealism makes it even more hilarious than it already was. It's a treat.
2. Fab Four Friends: the Boys Who Became the Beatles, by Susanna Reich, illustrated by Adam Gustavson. And my number 2 is really less my professional opinion as my fangirl opinion, anyway. If there is a picture book about the Beatles, I know about it. There are very few. The best, to date, was The Beatles Were Fab (and They Were Funny), which is probably still the best choice for a storytime, being that it's still a bit shorter than any of the others. But this one, frankly, impressed me. It's well-researched (again, I would know) and well-balanced in how it portrays the four of them, bringing everyone's strengths to the fore (there is nothing I hate more, in the Beatle fandom at least, than John-worshipping or Ringo-belittling). It somehow manages to tell the story of the band's formation and the childhood stories of each member at the same time, starting with John and his Quarrymen, but then when they hit a certain church fair gig, flashing back to Paul's childhood, and so on. It highlights how each of them fit into the group to make the whole. Also, the pictures are gorgeous. Paul at the church fair made my fangirl heart flutter, and George practicing guitar in his room made me melt.
Speaking of fangirling:
3. Star Wars Epic Yarns (3-book set) by Jack and Holman Wang. LOOOOOOK at this insane cuteness! It is the most adorable cuddly space opera you have ever seen! This is your Baby's Very First Star Wars board book, retelling the original trilogy in one-word spreads with these GORGEOUS LITTLE NEEDLE-FELTED ILLUSTRATIONS THAT ARE THE BEST THING EVER. I'm actually going to be working on a GeekMom post on this topic that you can look forward to in the next month or so. Whenever I get to it.
4. Wolfie the Bunny, by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Zachariah OHora. Kind of proud, as both the author and illustrator of this fine book follow me on Twitter. The latter mostly because I worked on the One Book activities for his Stop Snoring, Bernard! but you know, I still feel like I have a CONNECTION to the creators of this genuinely future-classic book. This is a new take on the sibling rivalry theme because seriously WHAT IF YOUR NEW BROTHER COULD TOTALLY EAT YOUR WHOLE FAMILY UP THIS IS SERIOUS. And there's a happy ending without being cloying!
Oh, I can't decide on 5. Either:
5 (tie). Sidewalk Flowers, by JonArno Lawson and Sydney Smith, because it's wordless (see below) and preeeeety; or
5 (tie). The Bear Ate Your Sandwich, by Julia Sarcone-Roach, because it went over REALLY WELL with the group I had for Sandwich Day Family Night. It's a cute one.

Top 5 Other Picture Books I Read For The First Time in 2015:
1. Gaston, by Kelly DiPucchio. The more I share this one with actual kids in storytimes, the more I love it. It draws them in and converses directly with them, and they do start enthusiastically picking out the details in this story of mixed puppy families.

2. Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales. EEEEEEEEE CUTE LITTLE STOP-MOTION-PUPPET PICTURES!!!!!!!!!!! POSSIBLY EVEN CUTER THAN NEEDLE-FELTED DROIDS!!!!!!

3. Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas by Lynne Cox. Because I just can't get over that this elephant seal was REAL. One group I read this to was so impressed that they actively scorned any book that WASN'T a true story for the rest of my visit.

4. Sparky! by Jenny Offill. BECAUSE, SLOTH. I just bought a calendar of sloths today, incidentally.

5. Grandfather Gandhi, Arun Gandhi and Bethany Hegedus. This is a gorgeous picture-book memoir told by the grandson of THE GUY who led a revolution based on peaceful passive resistance, which is a little intimidating for a kid who feels HYPER-AWARE that he gets super angry. But Grandfather teaches him that it's not about not having anger, but learning to channel it: that anger is like electricity-- when it snaps out like lightning, it causes massive damage, but when it's tamed along wires it can turn the lights on. Thought this was a GREAT one to share with my son, but I keep coming back to that same lesson, myself.

Top 5 Longer-Than-Picture Books I Read:
Which I've pretty much all already reviewed on this blog, because it's such an event when I actually finish one.

1. Though, hey, I only told you about the START of the kids' and my Edward Eager binge. Right now we're still just halfway through Seven-Day Magic because the holidays got us off-schedule. Some of the books in the series have aged better than others, and have more cringe-inducing politically-incorrect moments slipped in, but otherwise they are just SO fun, and Eager really has the way kids actually interact down. But I think my favorite, which indeed I've never read before, was Knight's Castle. It has the kids of the kids in the first book getting themselves into a Castle in the Attic scenario, except way sillier. The story draws heavily on Ivanhoe, which I was completely unfamiliar with and had honestly always assumed, for some reason, took place in the Old West-- BUT NO it turns out it's set in the world of Robin Hood, and now I want to read it to see what I was missing.
2. As for what I read for my very self, this post reviews both Frances Hardinge's Cuckoo Song and
3. Elizabeth Wein's Black Dove, White Raven quite thoroughly
4. I'm going to put DWJ-and-her-sister-Ursula's Islands of Chaldea here, and give my last spot to
5. Furiously Happy: a Funny Book About Horrible Things, by Jenny Lawson. Because Jenny is still one of my very favorite people on the Internet. I thought this book was a little more uneven than Let's Pretend This Never Happened, but I still laughed out loud to the point that Jason would say "Oh, you're reading THAT book again" and turn his headphones up or leave the room.

Top 5 Movies I Saw This Year:
1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens: One of the people who saw this before we did said, "It just FEELS like Star Wars," and as I sat in the theater last Sunday I knew exactly what he meant. I bought it. It was immediately accepted in my brain and heart as canon, as if there hadn't been decades in between the other two trilogies and now (also, I'm not a prequel-HATER, but it's better than the prequels, too). I mean I wondered if all these new Star Wars movies coming out now that Disney's got it would, like, DILUTE THE BRAND or something, but if the other movies are like this, then give me more! Yes the plot is pretty familiar, but just BEING THERE is so much fun, I was just grinning with joy even if nothing particularly funny was happening onscreen. And the dialogue is both perfectly in-character but ACTUALLY GOOD!

2. Inside Out: I took the kids to this one day this summer in hopes to spark a conversation about emotions, though it hit maybe TOO closely for Sam, the kid who most needs to TALK about emotions, and he didn't want to talk about it. Maddie gushed about it, but didn't really want to talk about it in terms of emotions, either. That was all ME. I was the one who glommed onto the metaphorical personification of the parts of ones personality and kept trying to describe any possible emotional scenario I could think of as if it was happening at the control center in the movie.

3. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire: So I was sick in bed when I discovered this had been added to Netflix (after AGES of waiting), and opened it right there on my Nook immediately, and because I was sick in bed I allowed myself. This was my favorite of the books and so far my favorite of the movies as well (haven't seen M pt 2 yet, but I haven't exactly heard people raving about it either). There was a lot less shaky cam than the first one, and it being my favorite of the books I loved meeting the new characters and seeing how much of the world was out there beyond Katniss's head. I did see Mockingjay pt 1 this year as well, and enjoyed it, but it hasn't stuck with me as much.

4. X-Men: Days of Future Past: A totally unfair point against this one is that we'd downloaded what we thought was just the HD version, but it was actually also the high-frame-rate version, which my eyes never adjusted to. "Is this an ad for the video game?" I asked at first, then as it kept going, was like, "No, I guess not... maybe because it's the future?... no, I guess not." Now I can join with the other high-frame-rate haters because it was totally distracting. But this is a movie with James McAvoy, who is ALWAYS pleasant to look at even when in a high-frame-rate and playing a depressed junky, so hey. Also, I just really appreciate X-Men storylines, the ethical questions, the PERSONHOOD questions-- it really grabs me, SO THERE SNOBS WHO THINK SUPERHERO STORIES ARE JUST ABOUT THINGS BLOWING UP AND WISH FULFILLMENT.

5. Avengers: Age of Ultron: As much as I love the MCU I think it needs to take Agents of SHIELD (see below) more seriously. This movie would have benefitted SO MUCH from a Koenig Brother on the helicarrier. Actually EVERY MCU production could benefit from a Koenig Brother cameo. It'd be easier to work into the plot than Stan Lee. Still-- I like these characters quite a lot, too. And one thing this movie DID have that, admittedly, took me totally out of the moment but I loved it, was LINDSAY WEIR! IT'S TOTALLY LINDSAY WEIR EXCEPT ALL AGE-ED AND WITH KIDS AND WITH A SOUTHERN-MIDWEST ACCENT THAT IS SO WEIRD I DON'T KNOW IF I CAN HANDLE LINDSAY WEIR LIKE THIS! Jason didn't even recognize her.


Top 5 TV Shows and I Guess Other Recurring Filmed Stories?:
1. Marvel's Agent Carter: CALLED it last winter after it aired, I KNEW nothing would be able to top it! It's just an utterly gorgeous and clever and awesome treat and I've managed to make my kids excited about Peggy Carter and they haven't even seen her. Yet. I might possibly introduce them at Family New Years Movie Night tonight. JUST A FEW MORE WEEKS UNTIL SEASON 2!

2. Marvel's Agents of SHIELD: Guys it is SO SAD that so many people don't realize how good this show has gotten! It's become officially my favorite regular TV show to the point of fangirling! The characters have each all become so unique and interesting (except maybe Lincoln. Sorry, Lincoln) that one of the things I love most is that you can throw any two or three of them together and they'll have an interesting dynamic (even Lincoln gets better with May glaring at him). And Fitz. FITZ IS BRILLIANT. HE FREAKING DESERVES ALL THE ACTING AWARDS IF AWARDERS WOULD JUST TAKE THIS SHOW SERIOUSLY LONG ENOUGH TO NOTICE. And shout out to my favorite temporary guest stars-- this past spring Cal/Mr.Hyde was simply the most delightful villain ever, he is now my favorite villain in the entire MCU, even though he's not MUCH of a villain threat-wise he's just SO MUCH FUN TO WATCH. And then this fall the show hosted my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE 'SHIP in the entire MCU ever YOU GUYS I WILL STAND BY COULSALIND FOREVER I've seriously never fallen so hard for a fictional couple in a long time, period, let alone in the MCU (I think the last time I fell so hard for a couple was Howl and Sophie, whom I discovered six years ago this month) GUYS LOOK AT THE CUTENESS and try to pretend you don't remember how that scene actually played out! *ahem* anyway people keep talking about the MCU movies and stuff and Martin Freeman's even making his MCU debut in Civil War next year, but it's gotten to the point that I'm now more interested in how the movies tie into the SHOW than the movies in and of themselves.

A really, really close 3. Fargo: I mean REALLY close. SHIELD finally won out on the strength of quantity and The Feelz, but THIS SHOW. IS SOMETHING ELSE. ENTIRELY. Remember how I watched Season One because my favorite actor was in it only to discover it was just freaking brilliant across the board, speaking of Martin Freeman being tangently related to things? So I said, okay, I'm just too curious, I'm going to have to watch Season 2. To be honest, I didn't get into Season Two as hard at first, but as it went on-- sometime around episode 4 or 5-- it had LATCHED ON TO ME and I spent the rest of the season just yelling THIS SHOW! THIS! SHOW! after every episode.* It is INSANE in the very best ways. This season follows Molly's dad Lou back in the '70s when he dealt with the Infamous Sioux Falls Massacre he kept talking about in Season 1, and no wonder. MOB WARS! UFOS! DODGY SELF-HELP SEMINARS! And in the middle of it, Peggy Blumquist, an "ordinary" hairdresser who just keeps getting MORE SUBLIMELY OFF-HER-ROCKER over time. Guys, I admit I never thought Kirsten Dunst was more than the cute-perky-cheerleader-girlfriend type of actress before this, but Peggy sure proved me wrong. A couple of slightly spoilerly (but I like to think of them as TEMPTING) gifsets of my favorite Peggy scene here and then here, and then of course a later scene's frontrunner for the best TV line of the year. ANYWAY. THAT'S THE SECOND AWESOME PEGGY IN MY FAVORITE SHOWS THIS YEAR! HOORAY FOR PEGGIES! And that's not even counting the awesomeness that is Betsy Solverson (turns out Molly got her smarts from her mom), or the fabulously-incorporated soundtrack, or the surprise cameo voice-over in episode 9 from the guy who got me watching this show last season in the first place!

TOTALLY EXTRA EXCITING FUTURE THING! Speaking of both Marvel characters and Fargo, Fargo showrunner Noah Hawley is now in the planning stages of an X-Men related show!!!!! LET'S JUST SHOVE ALL MY CURRENT FAVORITE TV IN ONE PACKAGE HERE OR SOMETHING!

4. Community: After my top 3 I had to stop and say, "wait, is that all I HAVE this year?" But then I remembered, once again, that Community DID have a (short) season in the first part of the year, though not on TV-- on Yahoo! instead. Which I barely noticed because I'd always watched it after the fact on the computer when it WAS on TV. I really was not sure how the long-foretold 6th season would hold up with half the original cast gone, but it did, remarkably well. (Uneven, but the show's always been uneven. You can't have something so unpredictable be also consistently perfect!) Most importantly, as this WAS the long-foretold 6th season (no word yet on a movie), the finale was an ABSOLUTELY PERFECT bit of closure. Well, maybe it would have been more perfect with a small Troy cameo.

5. Okay, now I really am out of stuff, unless you count YouTube, which in this day and age you really SHOULD count. I haven't watched all that many kids' shows this year because my kids in fact like YouTube too much now. But I would never put any of their Minecraft or toy vids on this list! The best YouTube series I've seen this year is probably Misselthwaite Archives, a modern-and-Americanized-and-slightly-aged retelling of The Secret Garden that pretty well nails it, though I think it was trying to play around with the format too hard at first instead of just telling the story. Also, one of my fellow Muppet-fanatic friends on Twitter is one of the writer-producers, so yay, Julia!

One show I curiously HAVEN'T been watching: The Muppets. It's not ON at a good time, and I just never got into the habit of tracking it down the next day, so... does this make me a horrible fan? It nags at me occasionally, but I just can't make the time for it. I'm so sorry, Jim.

*Although, having just rewatched the first two eps of Season One, I realize that season was pretty much the same way, and I was mostly riding on Martin-fumes for the first bit. YOU NEED A LITTLE PATIENCE. WHICH JASON DOES NOT HAVE (see below).

Top 5 Christmas Presents I Got:
1. For the sheer useless fun of it, even though it wasn't properly a Christmas present: my cousin was like, "I've had these Yellow Submarine figures in their boxes collecting dust for ages, would you want them?" and I was like "Sure, why not," so he brought them Christmas Eve and so they WERE a present basically, and they were the most useless fun. I mean, there's something to be said for not-useful presents, which aren't quite the same as useless presents. Useless presents are things you would just as well not have in your house because you never intend to do anything with. For me, jewelry is a useless present, a waste of money, because I DON'T WEAR jewelry no matter how lovely or special it is. But to get some dumb little toys as a grownup, at least when they're related to one of your biggest fandoms, it's just oddly satisfying. I just felt, "Ooo, I have TOYS!" for awhile there.
2. Some DVDs: There was AGENT CARTER! (see above) and FARGO SEASON ONE (FINALLY) (also see above), which I made J watch "AT LEAST" the first two episodes of, but the strange thing is, it's just too slow-moving for him. He can't APPRECIATE it. SIGH. Anyway, and Battle of Five Armies Extended Edition, the only actual movie instead of miniseries. Although that was really more of a miniseries on the whole, too. It might have been better paced as a TV miniseries, come to think of it.
3. Some books: Most notably the illustrated Harry Potter, which is gorgeous if you haven't seen it and is totally the edition I'm going to read to my kids; relatedly, a Harry Potter cookbook which has some QUITE interesting recipes in it to try; and YAY FINALLY Shaun Tan's Lost and Found; and a really old edition of the Complete Sherlock Holmes which my inlaws found in my late grandfather-in-law's collection while cleaning it out.
4. A lovely woven scarf my sister-in-law picked up in Florence
5. A new casserole dish
BONUS: a half-pound Reeses cup. Because. HALF-POUND REESES CUP.
MORE SERIOUS BONUS: quite a lot of gift cards for a certain high-traffic area in central Florida, slipped to us discretely in anticipation of what the kids don't know they're getting for their April birthdays. It's quite an important and useful gift, but it's COMPLETELY HUSH-HUSH. If all goes according to plan, I'm sure it will be up there in the first Top 5 of the 2016 review next year.

Top 5 Christmas Presents I Gave:
1. I sewed a lot of stuff this year, most notably an Elsa costume for the girl. She also wanted (and got) Thor's hammer, which made such a great combination of Nordic Awesomeness that this picture went a little viral:

2. While her brother's wishlist stuck to Lego and Minecraft and Lego Minecraft, that girl had, as you can see, much broader interests. Her wishes (and gifts) also included items from My Little Pony, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Star Wars, Shopkins, Wonder Woman and Black Widow. But most importantly, she also asked for (and got) a rubber chicken. It's a small stretchy one that I hung on the tree. It is way more hilarious than it has any right to be.
3. Call me crazy, but when she also asked for a (kids') ukulele, I totally went with it. Even further, when I saw a "desktop drum set" for five bucks at Five Below, I knew I had to get that one for her brother. So now they have a little band. A lesser parent would cower.
4. As I said, most of the presents I gave this year were sewn by me. I made a housecoat for my 97yo grandmother-in-law out of material found at her house, and another one out of purple velor for my mother, matching floaty tops for my sister and Maddie, another skirt for Maddie and a shirt and pants for Sam, and cuddly fleece-swathed pillows for both of them, because they've been fighting over one such pillow for ages. SO NOW THEY HAVE THEIR OWN.
5. J keeps putting beer on the grocery list, so I made sure to put a couple variety packs of seasonal microbrews under the tree. Better still, I also found at Five Below a can of beer-flavored Jelly Bellies. He luckily also found this hilarious and plans to take it to work.

One Present For Someone Else That Was Sort Of From Me and Sort Of From My Parents But Is Awesome:
About 29 Christmases ago my grandparents gave me a homemade (by them) dollhouse that probably was the greatest toy of my childhood. It transcended "toy" actually and grew into "hobby," as I continued to collect and make more and more intricate (and not toy-like at all!) pieces for it long into my teens. I pretty much only stopped when I had a real house I can barely maintain, let alone a miniature one.
Anyway, my parents got it out, dusted it off, and gave it and a selection of the most kid-friendly furniture (the rest is just saved for later!) to Maddie, and I just SQUEAL from the awesomeness and details I forgot about!







Top 5 Posts on GeekMom:
Or, currently that's ALL my posts on GeekMom, but in order of don't-miss-it-ness:

1. Help Me, Obi-Wan Kenobi: Death, Survivor's Guilt, and the Power of a Well-Timed Story: You know how everyone is supposed to have that ONE personal story that only they can tell because it's so unique to them? Their origin story, the one everything else stems from? I've told bits and pieces of this story before, here in the early days of this blog for example, but never has it been so public and never have I delved so deeply into that Lesser Child issue that's pretty much my Enneatype 9iness spelled out-- so basically, this is it. MY FRIGGIN' STORY. As I was writing it I was like, "Okay, I put My Story out there, I guess I'm done now and can go die." But it's been a few weeks and I'm still alive, so it might be that, you know, I actually might have other stories than just an Origin Story? Or, you go and destroy one Death Star and another one gets built?

2. Why You and Your Children Should Read a Book With No Words: This is my most "popular" story on GeekMom-- meaning it got the most traffic, maybe all those people hated it, who knows-- in fact, it's the 12th-highest post on GeekMom this year! It was also the moment I realized I AM an expert: even if I tend to follow people with a bit MORE expertise on the subject of children's literature than me, that doesn't mean I have nothing to add. And this one is my kidlit geekery at its peak. I kind of wish it had seeped its way into the library blogs I follow. Imagine getting linked to on Fuse#8 or somewhere!

3. In Defense of Santa Claus: I honestly wasn't expecting this one to take off as well as it did. Or at least, I was expecting more dissent and far less "THIS! You have put it into WORDS!" So, cool.

4. Appreciating How to Fail: A Library Storytime: It shows how awesome my library programs were this year that this one didn't even make my Top 5 above, but still made a really swell article.

5. ‘A Christmas Together’ With The Muppets and John Denver: My Annual GeekOut: This is a somewhat more public-ready rehash of last year's Christmas post here, so chances are you've seen it. If not, click on through to the more fleshed-out edited version!

Top 5 Posts Here:
1. Rant about Closed Communities and Religious Intolerance: With all the uproar about refugees and terrorists and such, this "unstructured" rant I wrote in February has only gotten more important as the year has gone on.

2. Faith Without Works: I have been really beating the drum for Liberal Christianity this year-- I mean I've always been a liberal Christian, but lately the hypocrisy of the "Christian Right" has gone beyond insulting and into UTTERLY MUST BE CALLED OUT. This post also goes into the Only Real Link between Christianity and Conservatism which is an insight I actually find very interesting and am impressed with myself for making.

3. On Shame and Being a Crybaby In which I realize I MAY have been going about trying to fix myself ALL WRONG.

4. Side Arms This is an interesting one because it seems like a lot of people reading it STILL completely missed my point, which IS, in fact, my point. Gun control is an EXTREMELY POLARIZING topic, and me being a liberal married to a gun nut, I find myself in the middle and utterly frustrated at the two sides' complete inability to communicate and compromise. So here I stated MY middle ground opinion on the matter, and of course the two polarized sides still think I'm totally wrong, because yeah.

5. The Dos and Don'ts of Non-Food Treat Giving Speaking of being misunderstood, my rants about junky toy "treats" are partially sincere-- because I DO hate them-- and partially tongue-in-cheek-- because I DO understand that there are many other important factors involved here. Louise and I had a really interesting discussion about the damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't side of ethics in the comments.

Bonus: An Ode to Clam Chowder because it got next to no response from anyone and IT'S ABOUT MY DAD'S CLAM CHOWDER so I figure it deserves another shout-out here.


When I was talking about the GeekMom thing with some relatives on Christmas Eve, I said kind of bashfully that I shouldn't let my writing confidence be affected so much by how many people read and respond, because writers write even if only for themselves, but a couple of them said, No, it makes sense, because while that might be so, a written work technically isn't complete until it has an audience, because it TAKES A READER. So please, indulge me, and chime in in the comments with your opinions on any or all of the things discussed here, because I like being heard!
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