Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Mudheads with Leslie Belloso

Last week, my sister-in-law Leslie Belloso hosted us for a guided art lesson. Leslie is a professional artist and teacher. Leslie's work is pretty spectacular. View her work. 

She taught us the process of creating mud heads. (Learn a little here

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Let's Make Terrariums

For Christmas, the middle gave me tickets for the two of us to make terrariums. We went to Phipps Garden Center and got our hands dirty. We loved it.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020


The youngest played his first season of basketball this winter. We had an incredible time watching him gain skills and bond with his teammates. He hustled all over the court. He made baskets, and he was really good at grabbing rebounds and defending. He learned new drills, plays, and sports phrases (like "box out").

I knew he was having fun because he asked for basketball shoes! They only ask to invest in footwear when they like the sport.

His team was undefeated all season. They even made it to the finals of the tournament!

Then they lost.

It was heartbreaking. They lost by one basket. Their coach reminded them that getting there was an achievement. But they couldn't hide their sadness. I thought it was really special to see them comforting each other.

And later that day, after he had dried his tears, he was out in the driveway shooting hoops.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Try It: Cake Decorating

The oldest and I had some fun trying and learning some frosting techniques. He turns 15 this month, so we're getting ready to decorate his big cake!

We took this class at Joann's. It was a very small group - only 3 students - and our instructor. We did have to buy supplies and the cost of the class was $35. We learned a lot and had fun doing it.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

2020 Goals

Happy New Year! It's time for some 2020 goals. But first, a quick recap on 2019.

2019 Goals:

  1. Run six races this year - Done! Frigid, Cherry Blossom, Yinzer 5K, Bellevue 5K, Passavant 8K, and Run Santan Run 5K. 
  2. Finish my YA manuscript - Didn't do. But that's ok, I wrote LOTS of other things. 
  3. Finish the Rosalie manuscript - Done, AND prepared a nonfiction book proposal for this story. 
  4. Go camping - Didn't do. But did lots of hiking and kayaking outdoors. 
  5. Co-Read a book with each kid - Done, some were audiobooks.
  6. Bake something new Done! I know gnocchi isn't baked but it was a lot of work. 
  7. Go for a group run Done, only once though. Wish I could do more but it's hard. My schedule is already so full.
  8. Attend a new conference Done! SCBWI LA Conference. 
Ongoing things I want to do well:
Writing coach 
Writing club 

Overall I did OK with these activities. I am going to do more with Moms this year (it's an election year). SCBWI was a ton of work but went well for my first year as RA. I am waiting for an update from the student I coached in writing. Writing club was a blast, and we are already taking registrations for this year's club! I helped NHSC become a 501c3 in 2019, so that's a big deal! 

Stuff I will work hard on but can't guarantee: 
Ed pub 
Continue to write for Highlights 

Continue to write for Cricket 

I sold stories to Highlighs and Cricket, but they will be published this year. I still don't have an agent but I am full steam ahead on educational publishing. 

OK, on to 2020!

2020 goals:
  1. Run six races this year - hoping to do some of the same, some different. 
  2. Go camping - planning to do this for the middle's birthday present.
  3. Co-Read a book with each kid - easier with the younger two. Currently reading "Blood on the River" with the youngest. 
  4. Bake something new - Done! On New Year's Day I made marzipan and floating islands. Then for the youngest's birthday I made lava cakes for the first time. 
  5. Go for a group run - I'd like to try this again. 
  6. Attend a new conference - hoping for the one in DC in April, if I can get in. 
  7. Revise DNF - I finished this manuscript two years ago. I think it's time to revise it!

Ongoing things I want to do well:
  • Moms - it's an election year. Let's get to work.
  • SCBWI - it's my second year as RA. I'm excited for our region!
  • Writing club - we've got a lot of registrations already. Should be fun!
  • NHSC - I'm moving into a new role in grant writing and fundraising. 
  • Teaching Online class - I'm teaching a class for McDaniel College on picture book writing!

Stuff I will work hard on but can't guarantee: 
  • I would love to find an agent who likes my work and wants to work together!
  • I'm hoping and planning to do more educational publishing.
  • Continue to write for Highlights - I got my start in magazines. I love this one especially!
  • Continue to write for Cricket - there's nothing like wonderful nonfiction for kids!

Other new things will come my way, I'm sure. I'll try to be ready for them. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

North Park Eagles

I had some free time out of the house this morning, so I decided to go look for the North Park eagles. I've seen them only once before, on my very visit, back in the fall of 2019. I've stopped by several times since then and have yet to spot them.

As drove down the road toward the shelter, I noticed a big red tailed hawk perched in a tree next to the nature trail. As I pulled into the shelter lot, a man in a truck had a huge camera lens sticking out of his window. He was photographing the hawk, so I waited, then chatted with him. He had seen the eagles earlier that morning, but they had flown off north.

I pulled into the lot, planning to walk down the path and see the hawk. Unfortunately it flew away as I parked.

I headed out on the walk anyway. It was around 20 degrees. The wooden slats of the path creaked and groaned loudly with every step, scaring off any wildlife.

The nearby creek wasn't frozen over. I heard it rushing over the rocks and low-hanging grasses.

I thought back to the walk we did with my mom on New Year's Eve. The kids were obsessed with whacking cattails with the hiking pole.

"See! It explodes like popcorn!" the middle kept saying with every whack.

"When I was little, we called those cattails," said my mom.

My oldest paused for a moment then said, "We still call them that."

I couldn't help but start laughing. Then my mom laughed and so did he. It was one of those weird moments that is hard to explain later why it's funny.

Back to today's walk. I walked a little less than a mile, but no eagles. There were tons of songbirds. That's the cool part about bird-watching. You can do it all year. Even in 20 degree weather those birds are flying around, chirping. I love those little songbirds. I love when they visit my bird feeders in the yard. But there is something special about the big raptors.

When I got back to lot, I snapped an overview photo. The eagle's nest is a dark lump in the trees. It's pretty impossible to see in this photo, but easy to find when you're there in person.

I sat in the van a bit, just to wait and see if any birds returned. As I watched, a bird soared into view. I snapped this photo from below. It headed off into the woods behind me. 

Here's a zoom. 

Honestly, it could be a turkey vulture. But I swear I saw a lightness to its tail as it moved away into the trees.

I felt rewarded for my patience, so I sat around a bit more. Then a red-tailed hawk came back to the area and landed in a nearby tree. I hopped out of the van and strolled over to snap a photo. I captured this just as it launched from the tree.

Look at the fanned tail! You can even glimpse the dark spots on the leading edges of the wings, called the patagial marks. Definitely red-tailed.

I waited around awhile longer, but it was lunchtime and I was hungry. Right before I turned the van around to leave, another hawk soared over the trees way in the distance. See that tiny dot?

I drove home feeling very satisfied with my bird watching. But there was more to come.

As I pulled into my neighborhood and passed a small local park, two hawks glided across the road in front of me. What luck! I watched where one landed and pulled into a church parking lot nearby. I was able to snap this photo of the bird perched in a tree. I could not get any closer, but I can see the dark belly band across the light breast feathers that confirms this is a red-tailed.

No eagles today. But lots of other raptors and songbirds. Overall a successful day!