The Magic of the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards

Art, Illustration, KidLit

This past weekend, I had a dream come true!

I got to fly to Traverse City, Michigan, to accept a beautiful bronze medal for The Spill with its incredible author, Author Jacqueline Leigh! The book won the medal in the Picture Book – Preschool category of the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards.

What made this trip even more special was getting to take my biggest supporter–my amazing mom Cathy–on this adventure with me! We had so much fun exploring the beautiful town of Traverse City and celebrating one of our favorite shared passions–books!

My other favorite part of this amazing trip was getting to finally MEET Jackie! She and I had so much fun working together over the last year and a half to bring Faye to life, and we never imagined we would be meeting for the first time at an AWARD CEREMONY! (We went through the entire illustration process for The Spill living on opposite ends of the country in two different time zones! Thanks to technology like texts, emails, Skype, and Dropbox, we never missed a beat!)

Meeting Jackie was like meeting up with an old dear friend!

At the Moonbeam Awards ceremony, each medalist got the change to speak about their book for a minute or so, and I cannot put into words how inspiring that part of the evening was! (Maybe that’s why I’m an illustrator, and not an author?) 😉

The award-winning books covered a wide range of meaningful topics, across all age levels and genres. Tears were flowing at tables across the room after many acceptance speeches, and the feelings of solidarity and camaraderie among the authors, illustrators, publishers, and their special guests was contagious!

Here are some more fun pictures from the ceremony and our day exploring Traverse City!


Here’s Why Women Love Windmills

Art, Illustration, Motherhood, We Are In This Together

I’m a farmgirl. And just like any other farmgirl, I love everything that goes along with that title.

I love chickens, tractors, horses, springtime babies, fresh-cut hayfields, big red barns–the list goes on and on.

But there’s one farm icon–hands down–that has always been my very favorite.

Windmills.

I am drawn to those towering, rusty structures like moths to a flame.

I adore those sentinels that keep watch over their farms and keep the all-important waters flowing. I always have, and I always will.

I can tell you where darn near every windmill is in my whole county–after all, aren’t huge windmills perfect landmarks?

And lately, I have loved seeing more and more windmills popping up everywhere I look. On pinterest. At the craft store. At the antique store, at the hardware store, pretty much everywhere . . . which makes me realize that I’m clearly not the only woman in the world with an affinity for Aermotors!

I have given it a lot of thought, often during the countless hours I’ve spent seeking out my own perfect antique windmill, scanning newspaper classifieds and craigslist columns to no avail. I may not have found my own perfect (attainable) antique windmill yet, but I think I have figured out why we females all like them so darn much! (And no–it’s not because Joanna Gaines sneaks them into her farmhouse decor collections now and again. But hey, can you blame her?)

Nope. Women love windmills because we are just like them.

Windmills represent us. Beautifully.

We are sentinels, too; standing silent watch at our nursery doors while our little ones struggle for precious sleep, or at the front door while our not-so-little ones race to make it home before curfew. We stand strong, around the clock, just like they do. Because our workday doesn’t end when the sun goes down, either.

We stand by our husbands, our partners, through the strongest storms of our marriages, and keep our own wells from going dry.

We stand tall and strong, no matter how fiercely the winds are blowing our way. We absorb those winds, the forces of nature we can’t control, and we turn them into goodness.

We turn adversity into growth, and struggles into successes. We turn hard work into reward. We turn and we turn and we turn, so our families can thrive.

We pump (and sometimes literally pump) ourselves into keeping our children, our families, and our relationships healthy. We may slow down at times, but we never quit.

Women are just like windmills. Beautiful and sturdy, steadfast and striking–just what every landscape needs.

I hope that the next time you see a windmill, mama, you will take the chance to tell yourself what a good job you are doing.

And I know exactly what you’ll do next.

You’ll keep right on turning.

This post originally appeared on Her View From Home .