writing this year

So, last school year my focus was writing to secure grant funding for scholarship spots. I was able to secure 5 scholarships at Glenwood and 1 at Willow Oak. I have a plan in place and potential donors for the 2016-2017 school year, so I wanted to shift my focus for this year.

I joked to my husband that I had a meeting with myself (this working at home alone can be a bit tricky) and decided to focus my efforts on writing a picture book this year. I am still on the fence about publishing the Girls TALK curriculum, but that does not mean the message about TALK and solving problems cannot be spread to more children.

The first step was to join the Writer’s Market. They have a  huge database of publishing companies, literary agents, forums for writers, etc. Next up, I downloaded a “how to” guide for putting together a query letter and manuscript.

With this done, I devoted Friday to thinking and coming up with a concept.


I sent a very rough draft to the Writer’s Market 2nd draft critique service and should get some feedback in a few days. So for now, I am compiling a list of agencies to submit to. Children’s Literature has 557 listings for me to sort through to see if they would be a good match for my content. Whew.

Feeling determined. Putting on my tough skin and ready to hear lots of no’s. But all I need is ONE yes 😉


the rest of the week

The week started off with volunteering at TABLE. I loved the healthy candy corn activity so much that I decided to make it a part of the Wed and Thurs programs. Think pineapple, mandarins, topped with vanilla yogurt.


To work on the K in TALK (Keep a friend solution), the book reading was The Sandwich Swap.

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The girls identified the problem, did the friends Think it through? Ask about the problem? Listen to what their friend was saying?  And Keep a friend solution?

What a great book to highlight the steps of TALK!

Volunteering at TABLE

The Briar Chapel program was able to secure a volunteer spot at TABLE today. The girls had so much FUN!

The program director did a lesson on how to read food labels, the girls made healthy candy corn for a snack (I had no idea it went from bottom to top yellow/orange/white) and then they started the volunteer shift. They must have sorted over 500 bags for food distribution this week. At the end of our shift, I asked girls how it felt to volunteer….”it was fun to help out, did not feel like work, and we accomplished a lot when we worked together.”

My heart is happy! That was what I wanted them to get out of this week’s “lesson.”

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learning to be flexible and laundry basketball

The Briar Chapel girls were supposed to learn what the L in TALK stands for today, but as we started playing the ball toss review game for letters TAL, they BEGGED me to tell them the final letter. Although my plan for this to be at another lesson, I explained that this was a good time for me to practice being flexible and deviate from my plan.

L – listen to what your friend is thinking…which was actually made into listen to what your friend is saying with feedback from the ever so bright Mallory who noted that you cannot really listen to what someone is thinking…geez, might to put this one on the payroll!

K – keep a friend solution. The goal whenever you solve a problem is to keep your friend. This might mean you need to compromise, think differently, make another choice.

The book reading was one of my FAVORITES…. The Dot by, Peter Reynolds. Vashti does not think she is good at drawing but when her teacher frames her picture of a dot, she listens to her teacher and believes that she can be creative and starts to make all kinds of dots. The message that the girls heard was that it is important to listen to friends (which can include teachers and parents) to help them believe in themselves.

We then headed outside to play laundry basketball. This was a new game for me, but it was a hit with the girls. Good old fashioned fun, teamwork and smiles 🙂

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What does the A stand for?

This week at Willow Oak the girls learned what the A in TALK stands for with the book reading of Knuffle Bunny. So many faces lit up with smiles when they saw this book. I admit, it is one of my favorites as well. In the book, Trixie has a problem (she loses Knuffle Bunny at the laundromat with her dad). He does NOT Ask about the problem, which makes her problem MUCH bigger.

Because it was super nice out, we then headed outside for some relay racing games.

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what to do about worries

One of the girls who has been in my Girls TALK program since its inception is a worrier. Over the years we have brainstormed ways to manage your worries, but as she has gotten older he worries have gotten bigger, which has led to some self-doubting. Adolescence is just not a fun time.

We talked a few weeks ago about my worries when I was her age, and I shared that when my worries got big, I would recite lines from a Winnie the Pooh book to calm me down (no laughing please). I have no idea why that book was soothing for me, but the act of repeating the lines could calm me down and get my mind off of what I was worried about. We also talked about drawing in her doodle book. We both agreed that sometimes talking about the worries made the worries even bigger. I see this A LOT with my own daughter and think it applies best when the worries are about irrational fears.

I also made her promise me that each and every day she would say to herself something she was totally awesome at doing. She is an amazing young lady, but she has to see it too.

I did explain that her lines from a book did not have to be Winnie the Pooh… still trying to figure out that connection, but to find something that can get her mind on something other that the worry itself.



giving back

Most folks familiar with Girls TALK know that there is a community service component to the program. The goal for this part of the program is for girls to learn the importance of helping others in their community. What this looked like last year was girls setting a goal to bring in one (or more) canned food item to our lessons each week. The food was donated to TABLE, an organization that provides food to needy children in the Chapel Hill / Carrboro area, and at Glenwood Elementary the school’s food pantry.

Now that we are settling into our programs this year, I started to brainstorm how to expand this part of the program so that girls are doing more than just bringing in canned food items. This was harder than I thought it would be at TABLE. They have volunteer opportunities, but lots of rules and age requirements. Oh and the volunteer slots fill up super fast. Rahul has tried several times to sign up, but all the slots fill up in less than a day of being posted. The director there is setting up a volunteer opportunity just for us, which I thought was super nice. So, on Oct 27th the Briar Chapel Girls TALK group will be taking a field trip to TABLE to actually see where those canned goods go each week, sort food for kids, and learn more about nutrition.

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Glenwood’s school food drive started last week, and we are going to keep a tally of how many items our group brings in from now until December. We are also going to make a poster for the school to use to promote future food drives.

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So we were set everywhere except Willow Oak…how could those girls give back more? Then I remembered a great conversation I had with the Pastor of the Evergreen Methodist Church last year regarding their Take And Eat Pantry. The pantry provides food for needy families in the North Chatham community, and they have LOTS of opportunities for us! Our first assignment is to make distribution posters highlighting times families can come for food. I have some very good artists at Willow Oak, so I know they are going to love this activity.

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I will be sure to take tons of pictures of our volunteering and creative works!


The Great Egg Drop – Round 2

Round 2 of the Great Egg Drop happened at 2 sites this week. The challenge was to work together to create a structure that would support an egg from a 10ft drop filled with either beans or rice. Egg cartons, twine, and pieces of plastic were also provided. I heard lots of “how do we do this?” To which I responded, work with your team members and talk it out. To my surprise, team beans won the challenge at Willow Oak, and team rice won at Glenwood. The award for most creative designs went to Glenwood. Those Gators had some very unique ideas. As with all of our games, the goal is to have fun (oh and work together to complete a goal) and not focus on winning. Here are some pics of the fun.

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