Social Distancing Jellybean Style

The world has been turned upside down by the Corona Virus.  Life as we know it may be forever changed.  As Jellybean and I try to navigate the new normal, our lives look so different; gatherings with family and friends on hold with communication now being through a variety of technology, casual neighborhood gatherings now very rare and always at the appropriate social distance, afternoons frolicking with four-legged friends at doggy daycare when I was scheduled to sub at a local daycare simply not needed, trips out for necessities now come armed with hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes and the oh so essential mask.  These are crazy and frightening times for sure, but we have to keep our chin up and stay positive.  We have to look for the little things around us that bring smiles to our faces and that familiar warmth to our hearts.  For me, that is my precious little, albeit extra fluffy, Jellybean.

That being said, Jellybean and I now have a new game we play called Are You Social Distancing? She has always been one to hide her treats and then lurk in the vicinity watching to make sure it is safe.  You may remember that my second picture book, The Perfect Hiding Place, covers Jellybean’s quirky behavior on this topic.  But lately she has begun hiding herself, well at least partially hiding herself, for no apparent reason.  That is, unless, the reason is because we are quarantined here together, and she is tired of playing twenty questions throughout the day.  “Hi there Jellybean!”  “What are you up to Jellybean?”  “What are you doing Pumpkin?”  “Would you like me to brush you… again?”  “What’s up, JB?”  “Hey Beaner, want to go for another walk?”  “Jellybean, where are you?”  “JB, are you social distancing again?  Why am I here and you are there?”  Hmmmm.  I may be driving my puppy to social distance with my constant attention and chatter.  What’s that you say, time to back off a little bit?  I think not.  You can find me on the floor, directly across from Jellybean peering under the bed, chair, sofa, etc. to catch those big, black, expressive eyes and have a face-to-face conversation on her level. Hey, wait a minute, did she just roll her eyes at me?

 

Jellybean’s Closet

Naughty Little Puppy

The Perfect Hiding Place

Sloppy Kisses

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

The Shaggy Dog versus A Chia Pet

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For those of you who regularly read my blog, you know I am pretty particular when it comes to taking care of my sweet little Jellybean.  As a Shichon, her coat is rather complicated.  She has a very thick undercoat and a silky top coat.  It makes for some great petting.  When we are out on our therapy visits or promoting our children’s books, Jellybean is quite often complimented on her soft, thick coat.  It has been said she “feels like a cotton ball”, “is like a pillow”, “is squishy” and one of my favorites, “she feels like a marshmallow.”

Well, let me tell you, that cotton bally, squishy, marshmallowy coat doesn’t get that way by itself.  I am very deliberate in her daily grooming, which includes coat, teeth, eyes and feet.  I brush her AT LEAST once a day, making sure there are no tangles in that dense coat of hers.  I also pay attention to eyes, ears, teeth and feet daily, but today’s blog is about her coat so we will stay focused there.  Jellybean sees her groomer, Miss Angie, once a month.  Every four weeks Jellybean is treated to the spa package; a trim, bath, extra conditioning, nail trim, ear exam/trim and tooth brushing.  Well, that is until the Corona Virus hit and everything was shut down.  She is now four weeks overdue for her grooming appointment.  Oh my goodness.  Talk about a bad hair day.  She surely does look like the infamous shaggy dog.  I am now brushing her three times a day just to keep the tangles at bay.  Let’s not even talk about the nails. That is surely a story for another day.

The other day, I looked at Jellybean romping across the floor with her favorite hedgehog toy, and I thought to myself, “She kind of reminds me of a Chia Pet.”  Just how do you care for a Chia Pet, a real live, four-legged Chia Pet?  Let me break it down for you.  FIRST, everything comes to a grinding halt due to COVID-19.  NEXT, you go along as though nothing happened, grooming as usual.  AFTER THAT, you realize this pandemic is not going to end anytime soon, so you add some water in the form of a bath, trying to keep the coat clean, silky, and tangle free.  OF COURSE, you will need to up the daily brushing to two or three sessions.  CONTINUE brushing, watering and be sure to add in some time to run and play out in the sunshine.  Wait a minute, I think all this brushing, watering, and sunning is making her hair grow faster.  FINALLY, as I hold her on my lap, I determine all that junk in her trunk is not from snacking, she is carrying a least an extra pound or two of hair.  According to the directions, once a Chia Pet gets a little “leggy” as they say, you are supposed to remove the old growth.  Oh Miss Angie how we miss you!  It is my hope that as we move through these unchartered waters of this pandemic, those in charge will realize that our pets have grooming needs that are essential to their health and well-being and we can once again be reunited with our dear Miss Angie.  Until then, I can be found standing with a doggy brush in my pocket ready to take down any tangle that dare try to make a home in Jellybean’s over-abundant fur coat.

 

Jellybean’s Closet

Naughty Little Puppy

The Perfect Hiding Place

Sloppy Kisses

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

 

Paw Patrol

As I continue with renovations around the condo, I have to be mindful of the work that is being done and how it affects my rambunctious little puppy.  This last round of work involved installing new wallboard and painting – lots of painting.  Not the best situation for a nosy little puppy that likes to be where the action is.  Thank goodness Aunt Mary came to the rescue by suggesting a sleepover at her house.  It seemed like the perfect solution.  My contractor could work without interruption downstairs and I could get some much needed computer work done upstairs.  Always one to send Jellybean off on an adventure with a fully loaded backpack, I made sure she had food, treats, toys, potty bags, brush, two choices of collars (Martingale and harness), sweater, thunder shirt and her love bug pajamas.  I gave her a pass on the toothbrush, as she prefers her Mama to be the one scrubbing those pearly whites.  Her Aunt Mary has a set of bowls, several puppy blankets and her Mickey Mouse bed on hand so we didn’t have to worry about those things.

Off we went to Aunt Mary’s house.  On the way I made sure to reinforce that she was having a sleepover with Aunt Mary as I had to go to “work.”  That has always been a key word that she seems to connect to me leaving her behind and she is okay with that.  She was happy to see everyone when we arrived and spent lots of time sharing her most wonderful sloppy kisses.  She was not overly anxious when it was time for me to leave, so at least I wasn’t feeling too guilty.  Of course I suffered from the usual Jellybean withdrawal throughout the day.  It is just plain weird when she is not in the house.  However, it sure was a productive day for me on the computer.  My sister kept me updated throughout the day, sending me random pictures.  As the evening progressed, the realization came to Jellybean that perhaps her Mama was working some overtime.  And so the “paw patrol” ritual began.  She insisted on sitting at a chair by the window so she could be on watch.  She sat there throughout the evening, then, returned to her post in the morning.  My sister sent me picture after picture of Jellybean poised on the edge of a dining room chair, stoically watching for a white car to pull in the driveway.  Around dinner time, her Uncle Dave packed her up and brought her home to me.  What a happy reunion that was!  I have heard it said that a home without a dog is just a house.  The truth be told, just a day and a half without my sweet little Jellybean was unbearable.  She brings so much energy and joy to our home! If you haven’t figured it out already, I just adore my wiggly, little ball of fur!  Here’s to our four-legged friends!  Thank you for your unconditional love!

Jellybean’s Closet

Naughty Little Puppy

The Perfect Hiding Place

Sloppy Kisses

 

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

 

 

Jellybean’s Closet Is Live!

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Attention all dog lovers!

Attention all dog lovers who dress their fur babies in the latest four-legged fashions.

Jellybean’s Closet, my fourth picture book about my precocious little pup is now live on Amazon!

Jellybean is a little dog…with a BIG closet.

She has outfits for all kinds of weather.

One snowy Friday morning, Jellybean looked in her closet.

“Hmm, what to wear, what to wear?”

“I see a snowsuit that’s perfect for me!”

And so it goes.  Jellybean romps through the days of the week and seasons of the year making sure to choose just the right outfit.  This was a story that just had to be written.  Those who have been following me for a while know that Jellybean…errr…her Mama, is obsessed with doggie apparel.  Our hall closet is a doggie’s fashion dream come true…errr…once again; it may be her Mama’s dream come true.  Fortunately Jellybean is very accommodating and proudly struts around the neighborhood wearing the latest sweater, hoodie, jacket, pajamas, t-shirt, snowsuit…well, I think you get the idea.

This is the perfect book for the young crowd, as it reinforces the days of the week, seasons of the year, and weather-related clothing choices.  My very talented illustrator, Shana Morrow, has outdone herself this time.  The detailed and brightly colored illustrations have brought my simple little story to life.  I can’t thank her enough! Demi Stevens, my publisher extraordinaire, oh how blessed I am to be able to work with you.  Can you believe it?  Book number four!!  It could never happened happened without your support and belief in me.  Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my book order from Amazon.  Jellybean will certainly have lots of pawtographing to do for friends and family who have already requested copies of the book.  Then of course there are the school visits. We promised our local elementary schools we would return to share Jellybean’s Closet, when it became available.  Oh dear, just what will Jellybean wear for all those school visits? I guess it’s time for me to go.  I’ve got shopping to do.  Spring is just around the corner!

Please click on the links below to check out Jellybean’s Closet, as well as our other stories.

Jellybean’s Closet

Naughty Little Puppy

The Perfect Hiding Place

Sloppy Kisses

 

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

 

There’s A New Kid On the Block

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My neighbors just brought home the cutest puppy!  She is a Bernese mix; roly-poly, soft, fluffy, and oh so playful.  Watching her romp around with Jellybean and her best bud Josie has me reminiscing Jellybean’s puppyhood.  Can it really be five years since I brought Jellybean to her fur-ever home?  Oh my, what a rambunctious little puppy she was, rightfully earning the moniker “The Wild Child.”  This was bestowed upon her by our neighbor a few doors away.  He would watch us “walk” by his house; Jellybean pulling on the leash, chewing on the leash, spinning in circles trying to catch her fluffy tail, stopping to nap in the middle of the road, standing on her hind legs while pawing at the air with her front legs in pursuit of a squirrel or rabbit, pouncing on a pinecone as it rolled down the street, wildly jumping up without abandon on anyone who dared to stop and pet her, and just being a goofball in general. Jellybean is still quite playful and quite a character, but has definitely lost the wild abandon she had as a young puppy.

Getting back to watching her romp and play with her new little friend Candy, I can’t help but think I have done her an injustice by making her an only pup.  Although I must say she is one happy, spoiled little pup, whose mama dotes on her and ensures she has all the necessities in life, and then some.  I am in awe of people who have more than one dog.  How do they do it?  The expenses are doubled, tripled, quadrupled for things such as pet insurance, vet visits, annual medications, apparel, toys, food, treats, etc.  Maybe when my picture books about Jellybean become Caldecott and Mom’s Choice Award winners, and they are flying off the shelves and Amazon can barely keep up with the print orders, I will be able to afford two or three little sisters for Jellybean.  Well, a girl can dream, can’t she?  For now though, I will continue to be the best two-legged mama I can for my four-legged little girl.  I will continue to shower her with love and all the toys, treats, latest doggy apparel, and whatever else her little doggy heart desires.

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Check out my books here! 

Oh, Those Eyes!

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Oh those big, black, soulful eyes!  They get me every time.

It is 5:3o in the AM and I open my refrigerator to get my day started with a tall, cold glass of unsweetened iced tea, my beverage of choice.  I close the door only to find Jellybean sitting there, appearing out of thin air, not unlike the Chucky doll in those old movies.  She, too, is staring at me, the difference being her eyes are beautiful and filled with longing; longing for cheese that is.  If you’re wondering, yes, I indulge her in a little piece of cheese.  It’s just a speck, I tell myself, trying to stay true to our New Year’s resolutions.

Later in the morning, as I am folding the laundry, Jellybean enters the room and jumps onto the bed.  She playfully rolls around on the warm sheets and towels that are fresh out of the dryer.  Suddenly she jumps up and pounces on the dryer sheet, then rolls back and forth over it.  She finishes “freshening up,”  as my sister calls it, then looks at me with those bright eyes just begging me to stop what I am doing and give her my full attention.  It is as if she is saying, “Come on Mama, the laundry can wait.”  And it does.

It is late afternoon and I am now at my laptop working on my blog.  I feel something rub against my leg.  I look down and there is Jellybean showing me her puppy dog eyes, pleading with me to play fetch with her favorite stuffed pizza toy.  She has placed it within easy reach so that all I have to do is bend down and give it a toss, which I do.  I find myself getting up from my chair and joining Jellybean on the floor for a game of fetch the pizza.  The excitement in her eyes is worth every minute away from my typing.

Suddenly it is evening and time to sit and relax on the sofa and watch a little TV.  Plop, up she jumps, right in my lap.  She stares into my eyes, her big, round eyes all but watering with anticipation.  Jellybean knows the formula; evening + television + sofa = snack.  And so it goes; one goldfish cracker for Jellybean and two for me.

Finally the day is coming to an end.  The house is quiet and dark.  We snuggle for a bit as I stroke the tuft of hair on top of her head.  There is just enough light to be able to see her eyes, the window to her beautiful puppy soul.  They are beginning to flutter as sleep begins to overtake this tired little fur baby.  Soon her eyes are closed and she enters doggy dreamland.  I watch her for a while and think oh, what a lucky lady I am!

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

 

Check out my books here! 

Yappy New Year Everyone!

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Hi friends, Jellybean here. It is already the second week of 2020 and on this snowy day I had some time to paws and reflect on my resolutions for this year.  You’re probably wondering what kind of resolutions a cute little pup like myself would make.  First and foremost I need to stop rooting in the bathroom trash and shredding the tissues all over the floor.  Next, I need to take at least three less naps a day and also make sure I get my furry little butt moving more.  I also planned on convincing my Mama to stop buying me all that cute doggy apparel.  My goodness, my closet is overflowing!  Something else I planned to do was stop begging for an after dinner treat before I have eaten my kibble.  There they are, five New Year’s resolutions.  I think I’ll just curl up in my little pink bed and ponder how I am progressing so far.

Whoops!  I didn’t mean to fall asleep.  I was just planning on pondering.  Here is what I have concluded; nine days into a new year and no bones about it, I am failing miserably.  About the rooting and shredding, I’ve done it at least three times in those nine days.  I just can’t help myself.  Those tissues are so soft and easy to shred.  They look so pretty, like little snowflakes scattered all over the floor.  Maybe my Mama should just get a trash basket that has a lid.  There you go!  Out of sight, out of mind!

About those naps!  Well, uh, guilty.  I can’t help myself.  I find a sunny, comfortable spot and the next thing you know I am puffing away.  Although I must admit, I have been moving more….when I’m not napping that is.  My Mama and I have been going outside to play fetch with my hedgehog.  I love it when it bounces up high and I have to jump up to catch it.  That really gets me energized, until we come back inside and I realize I need another nap.

I haven’t been very successful in convincing my Mama that I really don’t need any more outfits.  As a matter of fact, she spent an afternoon trying sweaters and jackets on me and purging those that are a bit snug or are no longer fashionable.  She did mention they would be donated to a local shelter so that other pups can be fashionable as they prepare for their forever homes.  Did I really see her add to the closet two red hoodies, a gray sweater, and a yellow fleece K-Pets jacket that is just for our therapy outings?  Let’s not even mention the skeins of yarn she bought for her friend to crochet several sweaters for me.  Oh my, I sure am a pampered pooch.

Then there’s that begging thing.  I really do try to eat my kibble at meal time.  I always start chowing down with gusto, but then I get a vision of the treats in the jar on the counter.  Just like that, the kibble just loses its appeal.  Wouldn’t you know it, I find myself sitting on my haunches doing that “sit pretty” thing and whining and crying like a baby.  In reality though, my Mama is the one that gives in.  I could sit and whine all day if I need to, but she looks at me and her heart just melts.

There you have it.  The good news is that I still have 357 days left to get myself on track.  Like they say, “Snoot to the grindstone, and paws to the fire.”  But in reality, I think my Mama might be the enabler.

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Check out my books here! 

What’s In Your Closet?

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Jellybean is a little dog with a BIG closet.  She has outfits for all kinds of weather.  One warm sunny morning, Jellybean looked in her closet.  “Hmm, what to wear, what to wear?” 

And so it goes as I work to prepare the digital file for my latest children’s picture book,   Jellybean’s Closet.  I continue to be blown away by my talented illustrator, Shana Morrow.  This is her fourth venture into storybook land with Jellybean. Her ability to bring my simple little stories to life using watercolor pencils as her chosen medium is beyond amazing!  With an ISBN number set for 2020, Jellybean’s Closet will be available early in the New Year.  There are still files for me to finesse and front and back covers to be created by my wonderful design team, but we are getting close to being ready for publishing.

My last picture book, Sloppy Kisses was released in 2017 and I must admit I am a bit rusty as I work at putting the illustrations in place.  Although each time I sit down at my laptop, it feels a little more familiar as I tweak the placement of the pages, adjust the contrast and brightness and add the text to each page.  I thank the stars above for Demi Stevens at Year of the Book, my publisher and inspiration, who has also become a dear friend.  When I have questions or struggle with confidence issues she responds with “Hello, my amazing one.”  Somehow, that little phrase, or “warm fuzzy” causes me to sit up a little straighter, become a bit more focused, and yes – even believe in myself a little more.

In the meantime, Jellybean’s Closet, is turning out to be a wonderful little story that is just perfect for the young crowd.  The premise of the story is that each day Jellybean goes to her closet so she can decide what to wear  – and yes, she really does have her own closet.  Just like any fashion conscious little pup, she knows to check the weather before she chooses her outfit.  This little story takes Jellybean’s readers through the days of the week, different types of weather, as well as choosing appropriate seasonal apparel.

As we continue to move toward a January release, Jellybean just has to ask, “What’s in your closet?”

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Check out my books here! 

A Day Without Jellybean

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I am having some remodeling done at my house and have discovered that the Thundershirt and Pheromone spray are no match for the piercing sound of a power drill for Jellybean’s delicate ears.  A morning of hiding out downstairs in the family room did not work for us, as the drill penetrated and seemingly shook the ceiling above us with its high-pitched whirl and sudden grinding as the screws began to find their way home.  Let me tell you, I had one big-eyed, unhappy puppy on my hands.  As we were only thirty minutes into the day’s project, I called my mother to see if Jellybean could come over for the day.

After reassuring Jellybean that she was going to go visit Grandma and all would be okay, I headed upstairs to pack her lunch and grab a toy and her harness.  She cautiously peered out from the top of the stairway when she realized it had suddenly gone quiet and I was having a conversation with my carpenter.  After getting some love from him, out the door we went.  Jellybean walked out through the garage and driveway proudly carrying her Minnie Mouse lunch box, a sight I just never get tired of seeing.

With Jellybean content at my Mother’s house for a day of being loved on by her Grandma, I returned home to knock a few items off my to-do list. My, oh my, how different it is when Jellybean is not in the house.  Rarely does she go to my mother’s or doggy daycare on a day when I am going to be at the house.  I generally plan those outings for when I am subbing at a local preschool.  I cannot tell you how many times I reached down to pet her or turned to see why she wasn’t following in my footsteps.  It is actually quite unsettling how quiet the house became that day even in the midst of one wall coming down and another going up.  It makes me appreciate her even more.  She is such a precious gift and a huge part of my life.  When she returns home trust me, there will be some snuggling and sloppy kisses to be had!  A friend once told me “A day without cheese is like a hug without a squeeze!”  Well, let me tell you, a day without Jellybean is like a kiss that’s missing the sloppy.  In other words, it just doesn’t feel right.

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Check out my books here!