The Picnic Crasher

After a seemingly long stretch of hot, humid weather, we were finally blessed with a beautiful day filled with sunshine, blue skies and low humidity.  What a wonderful day to enjoy the outdoors.  After a morning filled with water play out on the deck, the two-year-old little boy I babysit “helped” me set up a tent on the dry side of the deck.  We then proceeded to pack our lunch and head back out on the deck to our colorful tent and enjoy our summer picnic.

As you know, picnics and ants just naturally go together. But did you know there are several things you can do so that these pesky little creatures don’t invade your space?  Ants do not like vinegar.  They also do not like lemon, mint,  or rosemary.  Simply lightly rub the item of choice quickly over your tablecloth to create an instant and effective ant repellant.  Ants are also not a fan of water.  Consider placing the feet of your picnic table in large containers of water.  Trust me the ants are not going to cross the moat.  Now they do love watermelon and sweet treats.  Another effective tactic to keep ants away from your picnic is to place your leftover watermelon rind or several small bowls of sugar water a short distance from where you have staked your claim for your picnic. They will march right on over to partake of the sweet treats not even giving you and your picnic deliciousness a second thought.

Here is the conundrum.  It’s not ants that have invaded this particular picnic, but rather a cute, fluffy, somewhat precocious little puppy named Jellybean. She simply invited herself to the festivities.   First of all, she heard there was going to be cheese.  She loves cheese.  Then she heard there was going to be some chicken stix for the two-year-old, and finally she heard the rumor that there was also going to be some peanut butter.  Oh boy, she is a big fan of peanut butter!  There were no scents, moats or sweet distracters that were going to keep her away.  As my little buddy and I sat inside the tent, Jellybean peeked in the door.  Then she walked around the other side of the tent and peeked in the window, only to be overcome by the smell of chicken stix and a cheese stick.  Let the crying, pouting and begging begin!  Oh my goodness, Jellybean, there is no need to put on such a show.  Of course you are welcome to our picnic.  What a happy little puppy she was as I reached into the picnic bag and came out with her “licky mat” which had been lightly spread with peanut butter.  What a wonderful little device that is.  She happily lapped up her peanut butter as Jay and I finished our picnic lunch.  After everyone’s belly was full, Jellybean and Jay both had the same idea for cleaning either the peanut butter or ketchup off their respective faces.  Jellybean went first as Jay curiously watched to see what she was doing.  She trotted over to the small pool on the other side of the deck and quickly stuck her face in the water.  After a few shakes, Jellybean lifted her head out of the water.  It was wet but peanut butter free.  You could almost see the wheels turning as Jay quickly ran across the deck, bent down and he too put his face in the water Jellybean style.  What a pair!  Love these two to pieces!

Jellybean’s Closet

Naughty Little Puppy

The Perfect Hiding Place

Sloppy Kisses

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Best Buds

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Isn’t it an amazing thing to watch a friendship grow?  I’ve had the distinct pleasure of watching just that between my puppy, Jellybean, and Jay, the little boy I am blessed to care for three days a week.  From an eight month old, just beginning to explore the world around him in August, to an energetic toddler now one and a half, Jellybean and my little “Jaybird”, as I like to call him, have become inseparable.  If you see one, you will most certainly see the other not far behind.

It began with some curious sniffing on the part of Jellybean and some reciprocal giggling from Jay.  Playtime on the quilt became part of our morning routine, with Jay precariously balancing himself on the colorful quilt or putting in some tummy time, as he explored the toys around him.  Jellybean positioned herself just out of reach from the kicking feet and occasional flying block or noise-making toy.

As the months passed, and Jay started to become more mobile, he was able to explore not only his basket of toys, but Jellybean’s magnificent collection of dog toys as well.  It literally looked like a toddler tornado went through the room when Jay was finished emptying every basket in that part of the living room.  This activity was to Jellybean’s utter delight!  Admittedly, Jellybean does have a plethora of balls, stuffed animals, squeaky toys, bones, etc.  In his excitement to empty the baskets and experiment with the different sounds of squeakiness, Jay apparently uncovered toys that had been long lost to Jellybean.  Suddenly from her comfy spot along the perimeter of the basket purging area, Jellybean would jump up, tail wagging and run to pick up a toy.  Chaos ensued as she excitedly got reacquainted with her newly found prize, only to be distracted by another toy that had been uncovered from the depths of her toy basket.  I thoroughly enjoyed watching the excitement of toddler and puppy as they played off of each other’s discoveries.

Something Jellybean has always done when preparing for a walk, is to run for a toy.  She generally chooses her favorite, Hedgehog, or sometimes “Mr. Pizza”, the stuffed slice of pepperoni pizza with arms, legs and a great big pizza smile given to her as a thank you from a local retirement home.  In most instances, her toy is abandoned at the end of the driveway, only to be reclaimed when the walk has concluded.  My little Jaybird is quite the observant one.  He has noticed that when I say it is time for a walk, Jellybean makes a run for her toy.  He has now joined in the fun.  The other day, I announced it was time to take Jellybean on her potty walk.  As I went for her leash and to grab a potty bag, Jellybean sprinted into the living room to grab a toy and Jay turned around and ran into the living room as well.  Jellybean returned with her hedgehog.  Jay, on the other hand, returned with an Easter rabbit that had been situated on a small chair by the fireplace.  I must admit, it made for a good chuckle and a great photo op, as he insisted the rabbit ride beside him in the stroller.  I mentioned that Jay is quite the observant one.  He knows that I always grab a bag before we leave for our walk, so naturally, being the helpful little guy he is, he likes to grab the bag for me.  This generally results in the whole roll of bags being stretched down the hall.  Although this past week he hit the jackpot with a new roll of bags, which he managed to pull through the hallway, into the kitchen, through the living room and back into hallway.  Jellybean wasn’t quite sure what to do with this one.  She sat and watched as he pulled and shook the collection of bags.  Oh my, have I mentioned how much I enjoy this little guy?

Then there are the hugs!  Jellybean has become quite accustomed to receiving hugs from Jay at various times throughout the morning and afternoon.  Generally they come at quieter times in the day; after story time, preparation for nap, after a diaper change.  How cute it is to see them snuggled up together, Jay being the recipient of Jellybean’s sloppy kisses.  Not everyone is privy to the same bond that Jay and Jellybean have developed.  My grandchildren try and try to get some love from Jellybean, but it takes a lot of work and quite a bit of noisy barking when they first arrive.  I think there are two reasons for this.  Jellybean has never forgotten the first time they came to meet her and sat on the loveseat she had claimed as her own, hence there has always been a bit of a territorial issue, as well as the fact that Jay and Jellybean spend three days a week side by side.  There is simply a different kind of connection between them, but I do know she loves my grandchildren as well.  They just have to work harder for it.

How endearing it has been watching Jay and Jellybean become best buds.  Although we will have a bit of a summer break, Jellybean and I will still spend time with Jay so that our bond is not broken.  Come August, what fun we will have as we begin another school year together and Jay’s motor and verbal skills continue to advance.  I am so excited to see what shenanigans these best buds will get into!

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

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