Wednesday, April 10, 2019

2019 Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run - DONE!

Another Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run is done! This was my ninth year and it was amazing in so many ways.

My training was on track all winter and I was injury free. I only had one bad cold that kept me down for a few days.

Race day was incredible. The trees were in bloom. The weather was 50 degrees at the start, no wind. This is me at the start waving at my friend. I'm still amazed she found me in the crowd!

I had a fantastic road trip friend. She got more great photos! (And she found a delicious way to celebrate post-race...)

I exceeded my fundraising goal!

I ran a pretty fast first six miles. I definitely struggled the last four and didn't go under 90 minutes like I hoped. That is such a frustrating mark for me. But I did crush the 95 minutes that I thought was going to be a tough goal. I finished in 91:08 and I'm telling myself to be proud.

We were able to celebrate with a delicious Mexican meal after the race. This strawberry margarita had a spicy sweet rim! Yowza!

So, I had a really wonderful weekend and I'm so grateful for everyone who helped make it possible. I'm taking a few rest days and then I'll be back running and working hard. Next year will be my 10th Cherry Blossom! I can't wait....

Monday, March 25, 2019


A few years back, my middle son was watching the Olympics on television.

"What event is this?" I asked when I came into the room.

"I don't know what it's called, but they are hitting each other with electric sticks," he said. "And I like it."

You've probably already guessed he was watching fencing. I admit I don't know much about the sport, but I do love pretending I do by shouting "EN GARDE!" and whipping my imaginary foil at my opponent.

He wasn't begging us to try the sport, but he was interested. And he has a strong martial arts background which translates well to sports like this. But there wasn't a place close to us that taught fencing and our schedules are pretty busy.

We wanted to give him the chance to at least learn about the sport. My husband signed up for an alert from a local fencing club and we got lucky. Really lucky. They had an intro to fencing course only a five minute drive from our house!

It's really nice to only drive five minutes for a kid's activity. Soccer parents, I know you hear me.

So for the past 6 weeks he's been learning a huge list of parry positions, new phrases, trying out pistol grip and comparing it to French grip, putting on equipment, and learning how to win bouts.

That's right. He won his first bout. OH YEAH. EN GARDE!

Monday, March 11, 2019

2019 Goals March Update

I'm checking in on my goals for 2019. My writing goals are chugging along, but I need to push myself in some other areas. For instance, baking. What new thing should I attempt to bake?

2019 Goals

Things I can complete
  • Run six races this year (As of Mar 10, I've done 1!)
  • Finish my YA manuscript
  • Finish the Rosalie manuscript - Revision completed, in process of sending this out
  • Go camping 
  • Co-Read a book with each kid 
  • Bake something new
  • Go for a group run
  • Attend a new conference 

Ongoing things I want to do well:
  • Moms volunteering - doing a state level project
  • SCBWI volunteering (Now I'm the RA!)
  • Writing coach 
  • Writing club - almost done our first ever session
  • NHSC - my last season as Commissioner is underway

Stuff I will work hard on but can't guarantee: 
  • Find the right agent
  • Write more for the educational publishing market - Signed a contract March 1, 2019!
  • Continue to write for Highlights - Achieved in Feb 2019!
  • Continue to write for Cricket magazine 
  • Sold a story to a new magazine, Smartypants Magazine for Kids

Monday, February 25, 2019

Lucky Penny

Lucky Penny

a poem for superstitious runners

Halfway through a longish run, 
A copper flash in the sun.
Scoop it up, good luck is mine.
I'll make it to the finish line!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Word of the Year 2019

Do you have a word for the year?

My oldest son picked "bravery" as his word for the year and I love it. It's kind of a family theme this year, I think.

Bravery encompasses all kinds of behaviors that I respect and admire and appreciate.

Bravery can be pushing yourself to work hard at a physical activity.
It can be submitting to a new publication.
It can be trying new foods.

It can mean forgiving someone - like yourself.
It can mean trusting someone - like yourself.

My middle son exhibited some bravery over the holidays. He received a jigsaw puzzle as a gift and was uncertain about tackling it. He's struggled with puzzles before. They can be frustrating and difficult.

I offered to trade him for it, but he decided to do it. I was so proud of his bravery.

He also didn't want help. I was nervous about that, because sometimes he sets really lofty goals for himself, and doing a 500 piece puzzle all on your own is daunting. He eventually allowed us to sort pieces for him but not place any.

He tackled the puzzle his own way, too, much differently than I usually do puzzles. I stepped back and let him try it.

I didn't need to worry. He did it.

And his feeling of accomplishment was as big as the solar system.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Trying New Things - 2019 Edition

It's always a good time to try new things. But what about trying things that you haven't done in maybe 30 years? Do they count as new?

Let's take ice skating.

During the holiday break, I spontaneously decided to ice skating. I hadn't ice skated in about 30 years. I was never any good at it before and I was nervous about doing it, but thanks to help from two friends, I completed one loop around the ice.

I felt proud and energized.

I do make new year's resolutions but I also like to review my goals for the year. It's taken me about a month to refine my goals.

At first I made a big list of everything I wanted to have happen this year. Then I realized there were some things on my list that I might not reach no matter how hard and how smart I worked. After a second look, I realized there were some things on there that couldn't really be measured as "done" or "good." They were just too subjective or ongoing.

So I divided my goals into different kinds of lists. Here they are:

2019 Goals

Things I can complete
  • Run six races this year (As of today, I've done 1!)
  • Finish my YA manuscript
  • Finish the Rosalie manuscript
  • Go camping 
  • Co-Read a book with each kid 
  • Bake something new
  • Go for a group run
  • Attend a new conference

Ongoing things I want to do well:
  • Moms volunteering
  • SCBWI volunteering (Now I'm the RA!)
  • Writing coach 
  • Writing club 
  • NHSC (Just the spring season)

Stuff I will work hard on but can't guarantee: 
  • Find the right agent
  • Write more for the educational publishing market 
  • Continue to write for Highlights - Achieved in Feb 2019!
  • Continue to write for Cricket magazine 

Monday, January 21, 2019

The 2018 Carnegie International at Carnegie Museum of Art

In January, a friend and I decided to visit the Carnegie International at the Carnegie Museum of Art. This special exhibit has been running for 57 years - yes, just like the number of spices in Heinz Ketchup and the exit for Pittsburgh on the PA Turnpike.

I love doodling and creating art projects here and there, but I'm not an artist. And sometimes I struggle to understand modern art. I think, because I'm not really familiar with current trends in art, it's hard for me to place modern art in context and therefore understand how the artist is engaging in conversations or trying to change conversations. I could be over-thinking this! But I try, nevertheless, to appreciate skill, creativity, and beauty. I'm also very honest about what I like and what speaks to me, regardless of if I understand the context.

So here are some the pieces I loved at the Carnegie.

This video by Rachel Rose featured collage art, something I love. In the guide it's called "cozy carpet, giant speakers, and a lonely creature." I'm not sure what the message was, but I loved watching the collages being built in the video.

Dayanita Singh created "pillars of pictures of archives" and I enjoyed the storage devices depicting archives and storage. I used to work at the National Archives and I loved knowing our knowledge was being saved. This photo is of a book wrapped in fabric, I think. The design of the knot reminded me of running legs. 

While looking at another piece that I didn't love, I thought I smelled coffee. I was right. In the next room, "Art Labor with Joan Jonas" featured Vietnamese coffee, kites, and hammocks. The French brought coffee to Vietnam. Now the Vietnamese drink strong espresso coffee with a lot of sweetened condensed milk. These sculptures are coated in coffee beans and are meant to bring awareness to the negative impact of coffee plantations on ethnic minorities in Vietnam. 

Next to the coffee room was a giant glass house surrounded by neon designs. I loved this neon flower box. The devil faced dude doing erotic dances with a giant floppy pencil on the video playing inside the house made me laugh. 

This giant piece of art is not in the Carnegie International, but it's a lovely piece and I loved the Art Deco style and the representation of mythological figures. 

I love this painting of Cape Cod, by Edward Hopper. I'm totally fine with my love of realism! 

The exhibit that really touched me emotionally was "Fruit and Other Things" by Lenka Clayton and Jon Rubin. (I learned from WESA that Jon Rubin has done a lot of very cool art in Pittsburgh.) This piece employs artists from Pittsburgh to paint the titles of the over 10,000 pieces rejected from all the previous Carnegie International exhibitions. Watching artists paint these titles, seeing the titles displayed on the wall, and knowing that visitors can take a painted title home, moved me to tears. As a writer, I get a lot of rejections. A rejection isn't the end of the world, but it's tough. It was so powerful to see these titles resurrected and have a little breath of life given back to their dream if only for a moment.