Nikki's Notebook

My journey as a fiction writer and a place for my projects, writing and otherwise.

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A little change…

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Well, since I last posted a bit has changed. I am still moving this blog to a new site. Last time I posted, I had and set up to redirect to the same website. Since then I separated the two, creating a business site and a personal site.

The business site is, which now is focusing just on computer lessons and tutoring. The personal site is, which will encompass my writing, crafting, gardening, pets and such.

Everything changed because I got lucky and got a job! I’m the program coordinator for a new afterschool program at the school I served at for AmeriCorps. So I guess it’s not only luck, but also that the hard work and dedication I showed as an AmeriCorps member paid off and caused the principal to highly recommend me to the person hiring for the job. I’m really excited because I am working with great people in a positive environment, and have a meaningful project to work on.

I’m also working for a children’s book author who lives very close to me.

So that’s the update., the new version of this blog, is still a work in progress (the header doesn’t even say Sticks & Scribbles yet, just has the default theme logo “Notes of Life” on it), but feel free to follow me there! I should start posting more regularly once it’s up and running.


Written by nikkinbird

September 16, 2012 at 6:26 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Getting ready to strike out on my own

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UntitledAs the summer comes to a close, the end of my year of service with AmeriCorps is fast approaching. August 31 is my last paycheck. I started applying for jobs back in April. Some promising leads came and went. There aren’t a lot of jobs in my area that I can apply for. As September approaches, I find myself facing the choice of returning to a job I was miserable in so I can pay the bills, or applying for low wage jobs that won’t pay the bills to tide me over until I can get a “real” job.

Instead, I’m creating my own job. I’m tired of applying for jobs I know I don’t want to have. I’m tired of being rejected for ones I want (and know I could be great at), but don’t have enough experience on paper for. I’m in a small city without a lot of choice or opportunity in this economy, so I’m doing something to take control of my situation. I’m optimistic and scared. I’m excited and uneasy. I’m confident and unsure.

Chris and I are both creating our own jobs, so we’ve been coffee shopping a lot. I’ve been working with yelling, wrestling, arguing, running kids four days per week and somehow coming out with just enough energy to work on my projects in the evening. My blog has been neglected as I work on my new website. I think I will start a new blog on my new site instead of importing this one, but keep this one as a personal blog.

You can check out my new site at Or It’s definitely a work in progress. There you’ll see that I plan to freelance as a copyeditor, and also to tutor and teach computer lessons locally. The tutoring & computer lessons are my income insurance, the copyediting is my risk. I know I can get tutoring gigs because of my relationship with the school and because I will get a good recommendation from the parents of the girl I’ve been tutoring this summer (I’m the first tutor she’s liked in 4 years, I’ve heard). When Chris was fixing computers, he found a demand for computer lessons among older clients.

I also possibly have the opportunity to do some work as an assistant to a local children’s author, and I just heard about an opportunity for 4 hours per week as a “handcraft” instructor at the new Waldorf school that’s opening here. I’d get to teach knitting to first and seventh graders. Score!

I’m hoping that diversifying what I do will help me cobble together enough to live on and not make me crazy. I figure that if I get so busy that I feel TOO busy, it will be a good thing because it will mean I’m earning a living, and it will be insurance against slumps. I can always prune back. I’m actually optimistic that I will make more than my AmeriCorps stipend (900/month isn’t hard to surpass).

So that’s what’s been happening in this neck of the woods.

I wonder if tutoring will ensure me the same immunity to colds that I enjoyed all last year? Seriously, if you don’t want to get colds, work with toddlers for a year. You’ll have nasty colds all that year, but the next one? Golden. If the immunity continues, I’ll say it’s a small price to pay.

Written by nikkinbird

August 9, 2012 at 8:51 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

A tribute to my famous grandpa.

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Chris and I are headed down to Minneapolis (or “the cities”) as we call it here in Duluth. We’re flying out on Sunday for London, but first we’ll be attending my grandpa’s funeral.

When I was growing up, my grandpa was famous. He had been a band teacher, and then the district music coordinator – known as Mr. Music, so all of my orchestra teachers, and many of my other teachers, knew him. I could name-drop “Bob Mendenhall” to musicians in our community and be gratified with an enthusiastic response. One time, when I was in the pit orchestra for Damn Yankees, Grandpa Bob came to the band room to see if I would need a ride home after the show. The band director’s face lit up and he ushered Grandpa into the room.
“Hey everybody, this is Bob Mendenhall!” he said, and rattled off a list of his accomplishments.
Meekly, I raised my hand and said, “He’s my grandpa.”
I loved having a famous grandpa.
And I was lucky to have such a kind, generous, caring grandpa. What I will always remember is how much our grandpa cared about us. He was always interested in what we were doing, and always wrote encouraging words on birthday cards. He told great stories, too, and amazingly corny jokes. Sometimes I break them out with the kids I work with.
“You know, it’s a good thing they named you Sara.”
“Because that’s what everybody calls you!”
I get the same half-smile response that Grandpa Bob probably got from us when we were the same age.
I will miss you, Grandpa Bob.

The obituary:
Mendenhall, Robert H., 88, “Mr. Music of Robbinsdale”
passed away February 14, 2012. He was preceded in death
by his parents Lilly and George, wife Patricia of 56 years and siblings, Donald, Dorothy, Eugene, Eleanor and Allen. He graduated from North High School and during WWII he served in the Navy as a musician in the Navy Band. He was a high school band director and music coordinator for Robbinsdale Schools from1950-1984. In addition, he directed the Robbinsdale City Band that won top honors for 17 consecutive years in the Aquatennial Torchlight Parade. Bob loved teaching and could recall the names and instruments played by all his students. As a gifted clarinetist and saxophonist he played with many local bands including the Jerry Mayeron Big Band and the ‘Skeets’ Langley trio. He was named the WCCO Good Neighbor in 1968 and 1984 and was awarded the Key to the City after being named ‘Man of the Year’ by the city of Robbinsdale. Bob was devoted to his wife, 4 children, their spouses and 5 grandchildren. He was an inspirational, kind-hearted teacher, husband and father who lifted spirits by his willingness to help others and his readiness with a good joke. He will be forever treasured, loved and missed.

Written by nikkinbird

February 17, 2012 at 11:12 am

Posted in Uncategorized

I’m an introvert and I’m proud of it

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There are two books I’m dying to read, once I’ve finished my library books and can reserve them, or once I can purchase them.

One is The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World

The other is Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

At UMD, I took a tutor training course as part of a requirement for volunteering as a writing tutor in the Tutoring Center. As part of the class, we took the Myers-Briggs personality test. I scored as an INTP. A couple years earlier, I’d taken it in Freshman Comp, and I’d been an INFP. That’s because the opposing items (Thinking & Feeling) in this case, are scored on a scale, and I’m pretty much in the middle on that one. For the Introvert vs. Extrovert one, though, I’m aaaallll the way over on the scale for introvertedness. There’s barely a scrap of my personality that leans to the extroverted side. One of the discussions we had in class was about one of the big differences between Introverts and Extroverts: to “recharge”, or relax, Introverts need to spend time alone, while Extroverts like to socialize to recharge. That doesn’t mean we don’t like socializing, it’s just that for us, socializing drains our energy, and we need a break sometimes.

I’ve been thinking a lot about being introverted lately and how much energy I’m drained of by working in a school setting. Not only am I with kids all day, having to be “on”, I’m also coordinating and supervising volunteers, training them, communicating with parents and teachers, and more. Luckily, for my introverted self, email has become the way of the future and I can do most of my communicating in that introvert-friendly way. However, I am so tired after pretending to be an extrovert all day every day! I firmly believe I can learn any skill I need to learn to be good at a job (it’s how I roll), but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t tire me out to learn the social things that don’t come naturally to me. But then, I happen to be at that point in my year of service with AmeriCorps where many people experience a “mid-year slump,” and have been fretting over whether I should continue on for another year of being paid next to nothing in exchange for being able to make a difference and awesome job experience.

So, I’m excited to read these books to reaffirm my personality type in this world that values so many extroverted traits. I’ve also enjoyed this article, 10 Myths About Introverts for telling me how awesome I am for being an introvert.

Here is a picture, because I like how cool my blog looks on iPads when there is a picture that goes with every post. Tashi decided to lay where the sun was shining. That spot just also happened to be on my notebook.


Written by nikkinbird

January 31, 2012 at 7:27 pm

Sleep on the couch day

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This is pretty much what I look like right now:


Written by nikkinbird

January 30, 2012 at 7:23 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Another ice photo

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I forgot one! There were a few photos still hanging out on my phone that I hadn’t uploaded to flickr yet when I posted. The flickr iPhone app has two steps that require me to click before they upload, and I forgot to tap the button the second time. This photo is a closer version of the waterfall in the first picture in my previous post.


Written by nikkinbird

January 26, 2012 at 9:47 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Cool ice on Tischer Creek

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I haven’t walked on the trail near our house for awhile because of how icy it’s been. The weather keeps alternating between warm and cold, causing lots of thick, smooth ice everywhere. Today, I walked down the hill on the roads, and came back up on the trail. It’s harder to slip when you’re walking up a hill than down, so I wasn’t as afraid to bring the dog that way!

I took some iPhone pictures of the cool ice over the creek. You can hear the water running under it. This is the section of trail alongside Tischer creek between 4th street going up to St. Marie St/Vermilion Rd.

Written by nikkinbird

January 26, 2012 at 8:32 pm

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