Janet Sumner Johnson
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A Bit of Good: Update on the Library Project

Nov

16, 2015 |

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With all the terrible things that have happened throughout the world over the past few days, it can be easy to forget that there is good in the world, too. While I know it doesn’t change what happened, or fix things for those who are suffering right now, I want to tell you about a little of that goodness.

Last week I reached out to you–to the world of social media. I didn’t know what to expect, but you all blew me away between the sharing of my post, the offers to send books, and the monetary donations. I haven’t received the books yet, so I can’t show you a picture of that, but here’s a peek at the GoFundMe page:

People are good and kind and generous. They reach out to strangers. They offer help in the ways they can. People I didn’t even know donated money. People I’ve never met are shipping off books.

Thank you! Thank you so much for being you. For being generous humans who spread good in the world. Thank you! I can’t express how touched I’ve been at your support.

For any who would still like to participate, we will be collecting books and donations over the next couple of months. For more information, please visit the original post that explains it all.

Now, one more thing. My 11-yo wanted to write in support of the cause, and I promised I would post it for him:

Dear readers,                                                                          
                Hello.
To you readers, I ask you this, how would you feel if you had almost no books to read? I would feel devastated, it would make me less curious, although that
might not sound bad to you, take some time to imagine what that amounts to: . .
. now that you have thought about it, I hope you realize the full gravity of
helping those children on Kiribati.
                Imagine
how thankful they’ll feel to have such a great gift to enjoy and share. I hope
you know to expect nothing but an unseen and unheard thank you along with the
knowledge that you helped someone besides yourself.
                I
sincerely hope now that you will help those children.
                                                            Signed,
                                                            11-yo. J. 

Before I leave you, I want to give a heard and seen THANK YOU for your help.

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
You ARE making a difference in these kids’ lives.

Speak up:

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A Sad Little Library and a Call For Help

Nov

09, 2015 |

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Those of you who know me well know that my parents left on a religious mission just over a year ago about a month after they retired.

Before retirement, my Mom was an elementary school principal and my dad was a high school engineering and science teacher. So it was only fitting that in their service, they went to work in a high school on a tiny island in the Pacific called Kiribati.

While their main purpose is to train the teachers and help them pass the certification testing (Mom and Dad, correct me if I’m wrong!), they also do all kinds of other things such as helping students fill out applications for college, judging school competition events, overseeing the computer lab, and most recently evaluating the school library to determine its needs.

This last duty is what I wanted to talk about to you today.

You see, the state of that school library makes me sad. They sent pictures, and I want to share those with you. This first one is a picture of their fiction book shelves:

Oh my goodness, just so much emptiness.

And not only are the shelves empty, but many of the books they have aren’t age appropriate and are falling apart.

Now, I love the Berenstain Bears, and I love Madeline, but they are not the books I would choose to put in a high school library.

This is not something I could let go. I read their blog post early Sunday morning, and I couldn’t stop thinking about this library.

It didn’t take long to decide that my family and I would work together to collect some books and send a package. But you saw that picture. The package we could send would make nary a dent in the library’s needs.

And then I got to thinking that maybe others would like to help, too. Because you are my people. You understand how important books are. You understand their power and influence. You understand the impact a book can have on a teen. You understand how important it is to offer a wide variety of books to get our youth on that path of reading. You understand the satisfaction that comes from finding that book . . . the one that speaks to you and changes your life.

And that is why I’m asking for your help today. There are several ways you can help:

  1.  If  you have any gently used or new books that would be appropriate for middle or high schoolers and which you would be willing to send to me, please contact me using the Contact Me tab above (or just click on that link).
  2. If you don’t have any books to send, but would be willing to donate money to the cause, I have set up a GoFundMe account. I will use any donated funds to both buy books and help pay for the shipping costs (which are HUGE). Even a dollar donation will make a difference!
  3. If you have no extra money or books to share, I totally get that. I have been there (man, have I been there). What you can do is spread the word! Share this post on twitter or facebook. That would be a huge help!
I plan to send a shipment (or 2 or 3 or however many I’m able) at the beginning of December in hopes that they will arrive before the start of their next school year (Jan/Feb). 
Seriously, if you can’t help, please don’t feel even the teensiest bit of guilt. We can’t all do everything, and there are a lot of great causes out there. I appreciate that you are here reading my blog post, and I appreciate your friendship.
Thank you for listening, now go forth and have a great day!

Speak up:

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Cicada Killer Wasps and a Trip to the Library

Jul

31, 2009 |

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It was just a trip to the library:

30 minutes to get out of the house,
10 minutes there,
Then I was planning a leisurely 30 minutes to an hour choosing some books and movies, maybe reading one of them to the kids,
Then another 10 minute return trip.

Sounds so pleasant, doesn’t it?

Bad sign #1: Rain drops start falling the second we step out the door. I should have taken the hint, but no . . . we’re driving, I have an umbrella in the car . . . why should I let a little rain stop me?

So the kids jump in. Pop the car seat in, London buckles himself, but Brandt is our free spirit.

Me: Brandt, hurry and get in your car seat so we can get to the library.
Brandt: I don’t want to sit in that seat!

It starts to rain harder.

Me: You have to sit in that seat or we can’t go anywhere.
Brandt: I don’t want to sit in that seat!

It starts to pour.

Me: Please sit in that seat! Mama’s getting soaked!
Brandt: I don’t want to sit in that seat!
Me: AAAAAH! GET IN THAT SEAT NOW BEFORE ALL YOUR TRAINS GO TO TIME-OUT!

I’m soaked, Brandt’s crying, but the car is moving.

At the library, it’s raining pretty hard, so I pull out the umbrella, make London pinkie promise to share the umbrella with his brother and to wait right there while I get the stroller out.

Seriously, I looked the other way two seconds.

A quick search and I see them: the boys are having a total blast strolling through the parking lot, heads buried in the umbrella. After all, there are puddles to look down at. My heart stops, and I thank the heavens there are no cars or Child Services workers around.

Me: LONDON JOHNSON, GET BACK HERE THIS INSTANT OR YOU WILL NOT GET TO CHOOSE A MOVIE!

sigh
The stroller’s out, I’m putting Khyah in. My two-year old tackles me.

Brandt: An ant! An ant! Mommy, save me!
Me: Silly boy, an ant can’t hurt . . .

Then I saw it. Not an ant. This was a Cicada Killer Wasp. Ever seen one? As long as my pointer finger. Striped like a bee. And they can apparently sting like one too. Eew!

London: [whimpering and holding the umbrella in front of him for protection] There’s two!

I noticed one crawl into a golf-ball-sized hole in the ground. Then I noticed all the other holes. There’s more than two! I wisely chose not to mention this to the kids.

Me: [struggling to keep my voice calm] Let’s hurry, boys!

I get Khyah in the stroller (sleeping sound as a rock), and usher the kids towards the entrance.

Brandt stops dead in his tracks behind the van.

Brandt: I need MY stroller.
Me: You’ll have to walk this time.
Brandt: I need my stroller!
Me: I’m sorry. I can only push one at a time.
Brandt: [at the top of his lungs] I NEED MY STROLLER!
Me: Let’s hurry before the bugs get us!

I know, low blow. I don’t usually like scare tactics, but eew! You’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that it didn’t work anyway.

I start to walk and Brandt grabs onto the stroller, pulling back with all his might, screaming at the top of his lungs. Fortunately I am still stronger than my 2-year old, so I kept moving, dragging him along, and pointedly ignoring all the stares of the other patrons. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of entering before he had stopped screaming. Tile entry. No second door. Very loud.

Brandt throws himself on the ground in a temper tantrum.

sigh
I’m starting to have second thoughts about this trip.

Me: Brandt! [in the most furious whisper I could muster] If you don’t stop screaming this instant we won’t choose any movies!

Amazingly, he stood up and stopped crying, but Murphy was not done yet: Khyah started crying. I still wonder how babies can cry so loudly.

Me: Let’s just return the books and go!

We rush to the book return, dump them in, and before I can make it out, London heads to the movies with Brandt in tow

I really should have insisted. But with the stroller moving, Khyah had stopped crying, and I thought, “Surely the worst is behind us. And we’re here . . .”

The library has a plethora of Thomas movies, and London is glibly looking at every one. Knowing Khyah won’t last long, I suggested one, which Brandt gladly took.

London: I wanted that one!
Brandt: [pulling the DVD in tight] Me have that one!
Me: Brandt already has it, so choose a different one.
London: But I want that one!
Me: If Brandt chooses it, you’ll get to see it too.
London: But I want to carry that one!

His voice is getting dangerously loud.

Me: Oh! Look at that! “The Best of Gordon”!
Brandt: Okay, London can have this.

He tosses the movie at London and snatches up Gordon.

Grab a few books on the way to the check-out, and we’re almost home free. London goes running toward the door . . . right through the unchecked-out-books alarm.

I held my breath, waiting for the alarm. . . . It didn’t go off. Finally! Something goes my way.

Just as the books are all checked out, Khyah starts to cry. I turn the stroller around, and Brandt pushed me out of the way.

Brandt: I want to push the stroller!

Khyah is quite loud by now, so I scootched Brandt to the side and hurried to leave.

Brandt: [throwing himself on the ground. Again.] I WANT TO PUSH THE STROLLER!
Me: Brandt, hurry! Let’s go home and watch the movie!

I push the stroller through the exit

Brandt: I WANT TO PUSH THE STROLLER!
Me: Hurry kiddo! Let’s go.
Khyah: Waaaaah!
Alarm: WEEOH! WEEOH! WEEHO!
Librarian: Excuse me ma’am, could you back away from the exit?
Me: sigh
Librarian: [slightly annoyed] Did you check out your books?
Other librarian (who checked me out): [also slightly annoyed] Yes!

After a quick check of my bag, the librarian sighs.

Librarian: I guess it’s not you [sounding disappointed]. The alarm must be broken. It will go off, just keep going.

Believe me I did.

Ten minutes later, we arrive home. I struggle up the stairs with the car seat, diaper bag, purse, and bag of books (all while London complains about how heavy the movie he checked out is). Stumble inside, set everything down, and notice there’s a message.

We never get messages. No one calls us since we’re so new here. Yay!

Message: This is the Library calling. Do your children own a copy of Polar Express? We believe you returned it to us with your library books. Would you like to come and get it?

Speak up:

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