Our Dog Chance

Chance.

Our hearts are full. Broken bodies; broken souls. The dog block is in the dog door because there is no dog to go in and out. All day long...

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Being Brave(r)

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I’m a worrier, someone who tends to overanalyze things, weighing the risks versus the benefits. This is not a trait that makes me happy. (I don’t always think things through, though. I did jump on Andrew’s skateboard a few months ago, meeting the sidewalk, face first. That was unfortunate). But mostly I’m a thinker. I don’t like this because it limits me, and I have to psyche myself up to do/try new things. After my first bout with cancer, I’d tell myself: If you can get through that, you can do anything. But then I’d forget what I’d been through and have to give myself another pep talk...

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Grappling with Life, and Sadness

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The high school is small, the student body in shock, trying to grasp the death of a friend, their contemporary. I tried to grasp the cruel hand his parents have been dealt. But some things just are not possible to grasp. I looked into the eyes of the teachers and principal and saw the grief. We shared the understanding; no words needed to be spoken...

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I’m Worrying about Worry

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When does a mother (or father) stop worrying about their children? It’s a trick question. The answer is never. We never stop. It’s written in the job description (in invisible ink), and something a parent doesn’t get the full effect of until holding the newborn in their arms for the first time, looking into their eyes and thinking: I am going to love you for the rest of my life. And I will worry about you. My grandmother in her nineties worried about my mother. My mother worries about me. My mother-in-law worries about Steve (and me because that’s how she is)...

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The Magic of Gratitude

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The past few years have been tough because of, well, reasons. We all have our rough patches, trials, terrible things that happen in our lives. Some of us deal with chronic pain. Some of us have children with physical or psychological difficulties. Some of us, while healthy, have lost jobs and are engaged in a constant struggle, figuring our bills on the back of the envelope, lining through necessary expenses that can’t be managed. Not now. Where can we cut? What do we do when there’s nothing left to cut? Some of us struggle with depression. We may have everything—money, a beautiful home, nice car— yet we struggle to fight through the blackness that descends. Those looking in from the outside don’t always get it...

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Removing the Bandages

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I stand in front of the bathroom mirror—a pail of warm water, a wash cloth, pair of scissors, and a bottle of vitamin E oil. Slowly, I peel back a corner of foam tape. It doesn't hurt, not the first few millimeters. Then it does. It pulls at my skin, revealing red pain underneath. I grit my teeth and pull a little more, then cut the tape away, dab the skin with the wet cloth, then smooth a little oil over the area. And repeat…

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Two Things I’m Getting For Christmas

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This was a surprise since at my last appointment we discussed surgery in the new year, somewhere in January or February. Anxious to get these uncomfortable tissue expanders out, though, I found myself committing to a surgery date before I’d really had the time to process everything. My mouth said yes; my brain was all fuzzy…

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There’s This eBook I Want to Read. Now What..?

or… StoryRhyme’s Relatively Painless and Slightly Boring Guide to Ebooks so You Can Finally Download Fifty Shades of Grey...

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With my debut novel’s recent publication as an ebook , I’ve received thousands (umm, a few) of questions from folks. For many, ebooks are newfangled, slightly scary, and a little mysterious. There are many misconceptions, and many of us are learning—especially those of us who aren’t, erm, techies.

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Random Guest Blog Posts I’ve Written Lately

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I’ve been writing guest posts for my publisher’s blogs and reviewers’ blogs while leaving the StoryRhyme blog fairly unattended, which is bad because a blog left to its own devices will have the tendency to get into trouble...

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Cancer Diary: Some Random Thoughts on Life, People, and Everything

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I laughed a few times and chatted with the cute nurse who rolled my bed down the hallway to my room. Until she told me about “the transfer” -- me moving from one bed to the other. Picture, if you will, one of those cartoon moments when the character’s eyes pop out of their heads. I was that cartoon character…

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Who am I..? 51 Things about Me (Updated!)


13. I still haven't mastered our universal remote control.
20. Have never had a manicure.
45. Have learned to love ABBA.
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Cancer 102 - Second Semester:
Some Breast Cancer Etiquette

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1. When someone tells you they’re going to have a mastectomy/reconstruction, don’t tell them, “At least you’ll get a brand new pair of boobies!” or anything closely resembling this statement in a well-meaning attempt to cheer them up about a sucky situation. I’ve only told a handful of people so far, and I’ve already heard this nearly every time...

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Looking Backward, Looking Forward

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It is customary to do a year in review. First off, I will not enumerate the reasons why 2011 sucked. There's no need. And I really don't find it necessary to access the painful emotions brought about by the sorrows of the year. Not going to go there. This is my reflection, though, on some of the good things that happened in 2011 and my very recent -- as of December 29th, so it got in just under the wire -- good news...

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Transition's Eve, or, Sappy Me...

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Today, on the eve of what is another transition for our boy -- who now stands taller than I and whose feet are two and a half sizes larger than Husband's..? ..! -- I wax philosophical once more.

Here are some random thoughts from a mother whose son is about to be promoted from the eighth grade. I will try not to be too sappy, but no guarantees there...

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NaNoWriMo - It's On, Baby!


There are no winners or losers.  It's the international community of writers--hundreds of thousands have signed up this year--cheering each other on.  The first couple of days were tough.  I already had my beginning, had introduced the main characters and the plot, but I had no idea where the story was going...

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@ChanceIsTheDog


Follow Chance the Dog's insightful yet slightly stupid StoryRhyme Twitter Tweets...

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The First Day of Summer?


Pitch black outside, I braved my way up onto Charlie's fort carrying a tiny pin light, clutching a pillow... Read More...

Some People Love Their Jobs


Once in a while, I have an encounter that makes me feel so sour and angry and wretched inside. I really hope I don't have that effect on other people, I really don't, and can't imagine my life's work being to have that effect on others... Read More...

Summer's Resolutions


7. Have drinks with umbrellas...

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My Work In Progress


I have to admit, my blog has been gathering a bit of dust lately. I haven't been as diligent as I should be -- my writing energies have been focused elsewhere...

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Positively Springlike


I love spring and its perfect weather, not too hot but not cold either. Just right for kicking back and finishing that book you've been reading. I have just a few more pages of Catcher in the Rye that I decided to re-read after J.D. Salinger's passing...

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The Lightbulb Myth (and the lightbulb joke)


She would be one of the two that complained about how the previous lightbulb was so much better. She wouldn't have mixed the martinis, she wouldn't have called the electrician, she would have called Husband... Read More...

New Year and New Books


It took me back to my young self when it made such an impression on me. It's also a favorite of Husband's. Teen angst, class distinctions, unaware parents, rebellion, depression, sadness -- it's got everything a young person could ask for...

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An Open Letter to _______ Concerning Fruitcakes


When I was a young girl, far-off relatives would send the family a fruitcake every year before Christmas, and every year it would sit in the middle of the dining room table untouched. In moments of desparation, I'd try to carefully extract the tiny bits of cake from the surrounding fruit and nuts only to end up frustrated, cursing it. But maybe a fruitcake is more than just a fruitcake...

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I'm Thankful for Green Day


These three go without saying, but can't be understated: I'm thankful that Husband, Charlie and I are all in good health. The people in our lives are what make life worth living. Besides those three, what else am I thankful for..? Read More...

We Love "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" (and why you should too)



Charlie, our middle schooler, brought home "Diary of a Wimpy Kid, a novel in cartoons" by Jeff Kinney the other day. I don't think I've ever seen him laugh so much at one book. Silly, gleeful laughter. But, many parents don't like this series. Why..?

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Picture of the Week & Baseball


Some of you sharp people out there have figured out that for the past few weeks, StoryRhyme.com has been putting up a picture of the week on the front page of our site. Husband scrolls through his collection and picks one that strikes his fancy. We'll see what the coming weeks will bring...

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Lung Cancer, Robots, and Devil Dog


Yesterday, my mother-in-law was put under anesthesia and this robot removed the upper lobe of her left lung....

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Fall Forward (and the Dog's Birthday)


Fall feels like the possibility that something new and exciting is about to happen. There's something in the air. Even the color of the light is a little different. To make sense of this...

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Lancelot! (the Lovebird)


I've been chained to my computer for the past week, working on three very long days of deposition testimony. Charlie's been in school for a month now and is taking Spanish. "Hola, Paco. Que tal?" Husband has a new project that occupies his every waking moment (don't ask), and Chance the Dog leads a mysterious double life... Read More...

Party Games and Why They Rule


Somewhere along the line, a paradigm shift occurred in party giving from the old model of games, party hats, cake, and presents to throwing up a bouncer in the backyard (or the front -- ugh) and leaving the kids to fend for themselves while the adults sit around talking...

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Wisdom Teeth and Why We Have Them (Pulled Out)


I woke up, looked in the mirror and was startled to see the bullfrog with a hangover staring back at me. An up side is my clothes are starting to feel looser as a result of nothing solid entering my mouth since the night before the surgery... Read More...

"The Most Awesome Fort Ever": Updated



Update: The roof was raised (while I bit my nails nervously) and the rest project proceeded without incident until Husband injured himself (twice) on the final day of the build...

Monday, August 10, 2009 • This morning, I sat on the newly-installed floor and read the morning paper while Charlie counted the bumblebees making their way to the Angel Trumpets. The breeze was cool and lovely.  Charlie told me about the falcon he'd spotted a few minutes before...

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The Drive-In


Husband pulled the car in and parked on one of the asphalt berms, jockeying the car a bit to get just the right angle for viewing, and I was flooded with memories of my childhood, of the playground underneath the massive screen, the snack bars that smelled like grease, and the endless rows of cars with lawn chairs lined up alongside them... Read More...

Girl of Summer


As a girl, I looked forward to being an adult when I'd have the means to drive to the beach (or maybe even live there) whenever I wanted. Then, the long summers at the bikini girl/surfer beach where we went to see and be seen: smuggling in wine coolers which we'd sneak drink when the beach patrol wasn't looking. It would have been inconceivable to me to find that the adult me might only make it to the beach once a summer... Read More...

Boys: Seriously Seeking Bigfoot


Charlie was the first new male addition to the family in 45 years and I find myself delighting in his boyish peculiarities. The world is a mysterious place and Charlie is determined to look for the answer to as many of those mysteries as he can...
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Of Bridal Showers, School-Year's End & Job Preservation


I sat in the old friend section and cringed as our group spilled drinks and got a little too loud...

June has proven to be a busy month.  In Charlie’s head, summer vacation started about two weeks ago...

Such a bad idea, one wonders who's gotten ahold of him to put these ideas in his head or if he's come up with this all by himself... Read More...

Bragging: Updated


It's so obnoxious when parents go on and on about their child's latest accomplishments.  No one wants to hear it, with the exception of close friends and relatives (well, really not even they, Husband reminds me).

You may know that this has been Charlie's first year at the impossible-to-get-into charter "academy" and we were crossing our fingers that the year would go well for him; the anxiety we went through at the beginning of the year and just before, the uncertainty about pulling him away from his old friends and his comfort zone... Read More...

Looking “Up”



We see the couple starting off as newlyweds and watched them age before our eyes. I thought of my own marriage and growing old with Husband...

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Summer Poetry Kicks


The first time I heard it, I scoffed at the idea of it actually being considered a poem. (I admit, I am a scoffer sometimes.) Something about it, though, has gotten to me. Every time I read it, I like it a bit more. Maybe it's its economical use of words... Read More...

No Reading Aloud, Mr. Troublemaker


Husband visited with Mr. Troublemaker and asked him how things were going this year. What he found was a teacher on the verge of losing his spark; the thing that keeps teaching exciting for him. Earlier in the school year he was caught reading "The Phantom Tollbooth" out loud to his classroom and received a written reprimand and the threat of a suspension without pay if he ever does it again... Read More...

"The Year of Magical Thinking"


I remember after my dad died thinking back to the days before when he'd complained of pain in his left arm.  We later knew that this was a sign.  If only we'd done something.  The kind of thinking seemed to perpetuate this feeling of re-emergence, as if we could turn back time if only we had done the right thing.  If only.

Flash forward: With spring break drawing to a close, the boys and I went out after dinner to Barnes & Noble to look around and give Charlie a chance to use up his remaining gift card from Christmas.  Husband was looking for a last-minute gift (the next day being my birthday)...
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Raising Cane


Ash has fond memories of growing up with sugar cane everywhere. Sugar, theirs for the taking, all they had to do was cut it open (carefully avoiding the outer stalks with their razor-sharp edges)...

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It’s Neighbor Day: Some Random Thoughts on Coffee, Yardwork, and Mr. Rogers?

My happiness level is a little on the low side since I've given up coffee and chocolate. Cognitively I don't feel as sharp as I should be and have to admit to being a little depressed. (Coffee is a mood elevator?) So I've been cheating a little and allowing myself a tiny cup (I mean tiny, like a demitasse cup) of coffee once a day as desperation sets in... Read More...

Behind The Story: Two Many Dogs!


I was going to title this story "Big Dog and Little Dog" until Charlie, resident Captain Underpants scholar and expert, informed me that that was the title of a line of Dav Pilkey books. Well, live and learn...

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My Ode to Thrift Stores


Patience is a virtue when it comes to thrift store shopping, and as the Stones say, "You can't always get what you want." I have to say, though, we've been pretty lucky. We have great memories of great finds at the now-defunct BargainTown, including a two-foot tall authentic (made in Japan) Godzilla action figure...

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Just Can't Help Myself

I was going to write about Charlie's quarterly parent-teacher conference but decided not to go there. Suffice it to say (just can't help myself), Charlie's home room teacher wasn't happy... Read More...

What We're Reading Now, Charlie and I

Chance the dog has been reading with us since he was half his size.  When it's time (and he always seems to know when it's story time), he runs down the hall and jumps onto Charlie's bed, trying to take up every inch of the beach towel I have spread out for him.  He seems to enjoy the calm of the spoken word; I'm not sure if he really "gets" the stories though... Read More...

Behind the Story: Hiccup the Burping Dog Also Looks Up


A few days ago, Chance was doing some serious barking in the backyard. I thought maybe there were men working in the trees (the phone company), so I went out, only to find him, full of righteous indignation, barking at a jet that was leaving behind a very long contrail...

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Living in my Head; The last Week of Vacation

The last few days, I've been living in my head entirely too much, worrying about my ill brother a thousand miles away; also thinking about my mom and sister Mary caring for him. Mom says I worry too much, which is true. Worry is such an unproductive use of energy, but there's an element of guilt there too. How can one blissfully go about their lives when they have loved ones suffering? The great thing about kids (and pets maybe to a lesser degree) is they force us to move forward, propelling us out of bed, out into the world... Read More...

Inching Into The New Year

The cold makes me tired. Yesterday, Chance the Dog was more than happy to take a winter's nap with me. Sleeping is one of his favorites and he's more than happy to have a nap buddy... Read More...

The Recycled Tacky Gift Exchange




Once again we celebrated with family and friends at our annual Christmas party. Children and adults decorated ornaments, cookies, and a gingerbead house (which Husband had assembled the night before using brute determination)...

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StoryRhyme.com's December Poll


Growing up, part of our family tradition was going out every year to pick out a tree with Dad. I've kept up the tradition of fresh-cut trees until just two years ago. Lazy? Maybe a little. Now we have a beautiful (okay, well, it’s fine) artificial tree. All we need is a little pine air freshener and we're set.

Go on, vote. The poll’s right over there in the right sidebar...

Oh and if you have the time, share a Christmas Tree story..!

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Everything You Wanted to Know About Leif Ericcson Day But Were Afraid to Ask

StoryRhyme.com, your source for all sorts of interesting facts and tidbits. Tune in next week as we celebrate the accomplishments of Millard Fillmore...
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That Thanksgiving Cat: Updated!

Suddenly I hear shooting and two dogs run off. My neighbor Raul has come out with BB gun blazing... Read More...

Some Helpful Thanksgiving Tips


This holiday, take a deep breath and relax with some of our very own StoryRhyme.com helpful hints. Here's number 9: Don't serve that greenbean casserole with the canned mushrooms and shoestring onions because it's just gross...

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Thoughts on Wildfires

Southern California has been burning the last two days. There are fires all around us, the air is thick and as I look outside, the sky has cast an ominous orange glow over the backyard... Read More...

The Allure of Cheap Hair Products: Hair Diary Part 3. Hens Are Not the Same as Roosters

I think I'm getting to be an old hand at this dyeing stuff. Well, I have done it twice now. Go to the drugstore with the top of the old box (very clever). Husband suggests I go lighter this time (to replicate Michael's results). Sound advice; right (from a guy who goes to SuperCuts)..? Read More...

15 Strange Things I Saw in the Harriet Carter Catalog


First of all, we're way too cool for this catalog (or so I thought), yet it comes anyway...

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The Harry Potter Party



Charlie made decorations and signs for everything including a "Chamber of Secrets" sign that he put on the toilet tank; a "Leaky Cauldron" sign for the kitchen; and a "Platform 9 3/4" sign that we hung at the front door to welcome guests. Our Chamber of Secrets and Leaky Cauldron signs remain to this day...

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Of Halloween Costumes

Autumn's here, which means it was time to get the Halloween box down from the garage shelves. Charlie's now tall enough to do this himself (growing like a weed), and immediately started pulling out old costumes. Before I knew it, we had a space alien visiting. Charlie takes Halloween very seriously and has been known to wear his costume around the house for a week...

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Behind the Story: "Hiccup The Burping Dog's Birthday Party"

I made a dogfood cake and gave the dogs individual treats. We attempted to put party hats on them (except for K.C. who was a nasty little thing), and took pictures. What good are dogs if you can't put hats on them once in a while for your own enjoyment..?

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New Tricks for a Somewhat Older Dog

Intuitively I know that change can be a good thing, but for me, change often falls into the category of it's good for you, like eating your vegetables or cutting donuts out of your diet. Not always the most fun; sometimes a challenge. Fifteen years of doing one thing one way are now at an end... Read More...

The Groovy Birthday Party



We tie-dyed about 30 shirts throughout the evening; and, of course, all the adults were the first in line. A couple of Charlie's friends came over in their new far-out tie-dyed shirts today and they looked, well, groovy... Read More...

Ch-Ch-Changes (updated)

I feel like such a heel. His friends will all be starting school (right at the end of our street) next week, without him. Today he's blazing a new trail on his own... Read More...

My Worst Songs of the '70s List

Shag carpets, swag lamps, fake wood paneling, macrame belts, and leisure suits with white shoes. Billy Beer. This unique time seemed to spawn some really bad music... Read More...

Fossil Hunters



In upper 90s weather, with full sun, no shade in sight, we grab pieces of rock and break them open with our little hammers looking for anything interesting. I sat there and hummed "Breaking rocks in the hot sun, I fought the law and the law won..." Read More...

How "Elf" Saved Me From Despair

First Husband, then Charlie, then me. And I've had it the worst... Read More...

My '80s Mix Tape Revisited & I'm So Easily Entertained

Last night, my '80s mix tape as wished for on this very blog was placed into my hands. What should I wish for next? A winning lottery ticket? World peace..?

The other day, an interesting person out there found StoryRhyme.com using this search query: "How to Make an Elephant Trunk for a Dog." Well, as you all can imagine, this sent me over the moon. I am very easily amused and entertained... Read More...

Getting Happy

The little tyke sitting in front of us performed gravity-defying mid-air somersaults. He did not have a trampoline, but was propelled by sheer youthful exuberance. It was, um, "fun" to see how close he could get without actually crashing into us... Read More...

A Tribute to Our Coffee Maker

When I woke up this morning and staggered out to the kitchen to make the day's first pot of coffee, I noticed that Husband had, the night before, lovingly cleaned and polished our little coffee maker. This is an elaborate process... Read More...

Embracing My Dork Side

It's been so many years since I've read it, I'd forgotten so much. I've seen the movies (which were amazing), and didn't remember how different they were from the books. For instance, Tom Bombadil. I'd forgotten completely about him. Just what is he, we wondered? A quick Internet search of "Tom Bombadil" gave me over half a million entries...
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Play With Dog; Do Homework

A while back, my mother-in-law gave Charlie a dry erase board (complete with AARP logo) -- magnetic -- so, of course, it ended up on the fridge, which is almost covered, but there are still a few inches of white space left. Very few. My favorite piece of fridge art right now is Charlie's picture of a monster Hello Kitty drawn in the style of King Kong or Godzilla, towering over destroyed skyscrapers and swatting at airplanes, using his (her?) heat ray eyes to destroy a passing helicopter. The tanks have no effect on him...

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Clean My House. Please.

I live with cavemen, I really do. Now, they're charming cavemen. The ladies love them, and they're very polite, but around the house, they really regress back to the ol' cave. My dog is a cave dog. His shedding has been in overdrive lately and I could fill at least one pillow each day with his cast-off cave dog hair...
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If I Knew Then What I Know Now; My Sister-in-Law

When Husband and I were prepping for Charlie to start school, we didn't think the school itself mattered as much as the parent-child involvement. While the aforementioned is certainly key, the other night, I felt a twinge of regret as I watched my sister-in-law doing some last-minute sewing. She was making a tiger for her classroom production... Read More...

Adult No Talk Good

At this point she raises her eyebrows, not expecting to hear this coming from the mouth of a 10-year-old. She then asks, "Do you have your pee-pee cup..?" Read More...

Behind the Story: "Charlie and Ruby (the brave)"

By comparison to Eli, Chance is a complete slacker. While Eli would patrol the yard constantly, Chance merely pokes his head out the dog door to see if it's worth his trouble to go out (and for Chance, it's usually not). We discovered that dogs, like children, are their own unique individuals. Eli lived to please us and couldn't bear to be scolded. Reprimands roll off Chance's back like water... Read More...

So Long, Swingset: An Earth Day Update



When the moment came to release Swingset (who, coincidentally, was ready to be released on Earth Day; who knew?). I have to admit to feeling a little twinge. Oh, wait. I'm anthropomorphizing... Read More...

Spread the Joy, Spread the Compost!

Happy Earth Day, everyone. Last year, Charlie and Husband made their own "hot" composter. Husband recently went into farmer mode and potted some heirloom tomato plants that our friend Bruce gave us, raised from his own seed stock. He's using our compost to feed the plants and they're very happy... Read More...

Behind the Story: "Camping with Charlie"

I know, we're wimps. Husband insists he's had enough from his scouting days to last him a lifetime... Read More...

Behind the Story: "Hiccup, the Burping Dog"

He walks up to us as if he's about to deliver some important pronouncement and -- burps... Read More...

No Reading Aloud (Allowed) in the Classroom? Fido Update.

Just how are we serving our children by turning them into unimaginative automatons? Who will be our future artists, musicians and inventors, not to mention the great scientific minds..? Read More...

Fido, the Butterfly



Yesterday, Charlie came home from school in a whirl of excitement, clutching a cardboard box. No one knew what happened to the poor thing, but Charlie, who has a reputation for being an animal saver, was sought out for his expertise...

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Behind the Story: "Emily's Very Own Bedtime Story"

He was a little nervous about going to school the next day and wondered about the reaction he'd get from his schoolmates... Read More...

Behind the Story: "Charlie's Hats"

There he was inside his homemade cardboard spaceship with his astronaut helmet on. In another picture he wore his pith helmet with vest full of tools -- insect net, magnifying glass, and compass... Read More...

The Dog Who Looks Up

As much as I implore him to come in, he refuses, holding his ground. The object of his ire..? Read More...

StoryRhyme After Dark: Sister Kathy's "Empty Nest"



We have children. We love them; we teach them; we enjoy them. But only for a few years... Read More...

Happy Birthday, Mary..!

Happy Birthday, Mary! My super sister. A humble country veterinarian who runs her practice with her husband veterinarian... Read More...

Charlie's Ants

At last, Charlie received his ants in the mail today for his Uncle Milton's Ant Farm... Read More...

Ratty



Last night in bed, I heard the familiar gnawing of a rat in the attic. Here we go again. Read More...

Bad Haircut, Part 2

Okay, I'm really questioning my hair judgment at this point. Refer back to first post (mousy hair). Read More...

Subscription Unfulfillment

One day, about five years ago, Husband filled out a form online to receive a free one-year subscription to "Time Magazine." No strings attached (yeah, right). Sounds great; right? Read More...

Painting. The bad haircut.

Have just finished painting our master bedroom and am happy at last. Major undertaking (for me at least)...

Got a bad haircut today. I miss Michael. He cut my hair for years. He moved to the desert a few months ago. Against my better judgement, out of desperation, I went to one of those chain salons... Read More...

The Lake

The other day we went to the lake, my son (Charlie) wanted to look for new pets to bring home. To backtrack, when he was just a little guy, about four years old, we went to the same lake and he found a freshwater clam... Read More...