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

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

 

 

The Dog That Has Everything…but wants only ONE thing!

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This weekend I started a project from my home improvement to do list.  My wrist has hopefully healed well enough from the last go round of wall paper removal.  This would be the one that sent me for several visits to OSS, a cortisone shot and a five-week stint in a wrist brace.  This time I invested in a power steamer.  What an amazing little piece of equipment!  It is so much better than trying to hack off bits of professionally hung wallpaper that was intended to stay put until the end of time.

Knowing that Jellybean can be a bit needy, I prepared ahead of time for my work day.  I pulled a few of Jellybean’s favorite toys from her ridiculously large, overflowing basket so they would be readily available to her.  Then I prepared a bone by coating the inside with peanut butter, a particular favorite of hers, and to top it off even stuffed a few little treats inside.  I made sure her water fountain was running at full speed and placed her favorite blanket as close to my work space as possible.  I made sure that Jellybean and I took a long, rambling walk in the morning – just the way she likes it.  We came back for some extra snuggle time and played with her favorite little hedgehog.  Finally, everything was set and I was ready to begin my project.  But wait!  It takes about 15 minutes for the steam to start pouring out of the plate, so that gave us a few extra minutes to play.  Being the over the top dog momma that I am, I even explained to Jellybean what was going to be happening for the next few hours.

By the time I had positioned myself on the ladder and placed the steamer plate on the wall, Jellybean had finished her peanut butter bone.  Not even ten minutes into the project the whining had begun.   “Jellybean, get your toy!  Get your Hedgehog!  Oh look, there’s Mr. Pizza.  Come on Jellybean, you have so many choices!”  I suddenly feel like I am back in my Kindergarten class asking a student, “Would you like the kangaroo counters or would you like the Digi blocks for your math activity today?” I return to my work only to hear more whining, becoming more intense and more pitiful with each well-timed puppy breath.  Oh, and the eyes, those big, black soulful eyes now genuine puppy dog eyes staring me down.  “Jellybean, really?  I spent the entire morning with you.  Now it’s my turn to get some things done around here.  I can’t be with you every second of the day.”  I continued to steam and scrape.  The whining continued only now it was coming from under my ladder.  “No, Jellybean, you can’t be over here.  All this wallpaper will stick to your feet and fur.  Jellybean, I said no.  Oh, my Jellybean, you’re killing me here.”  And so the afternoon went with Jellybean whining and me pleading with her to make good choices, until finally I turned to her and said, “That’s it, Jellybean, you’re going to Grandma’s.  You want attention?  You’ll get so much attention you won’t know what to do with it.  Now, get your ball cap on and let’s get going.”  Oh my, I think I’ve created a monster, a furry, loveable four-legged little monster!

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Check out my books here! 

 

May I Have An Adjective, Please?

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Someone recently asked me to describe Jellybean in one word.  What? Describe her in one word?  I don’t see how I can do that!  Always up for a challenge, however, I thought about it for a while.  Sassy would be a good word to describe her, but so are playful and silly.  Then there’s lovable, spoiled and stubborn.  Okay, okay.  I can’t do it. There is no one word to describe this precious little puppy.  So, let me flip this game around and ask the question “May I have an adjective please?”  Here’s a few that would describe Jellybean quite well:

Rambunctious, affectionate, happy, precocious, amusing, joyful, assuming, bright-eyed, trusting, feisty, demanding, cuddly, stubborn, shy, eager-to-please, spoiled, rowdy, energetic, pouty, bright, faithful, loving, fun, pretty, exhausting, gentle, timid, goofy, pampered, therapy dog, naughty, frisky, loyal, mischievous, unpredictable, diva-like, friendly, cute, protective, smart, family, entertaining, pouty, loved, furry, snuggly, chubby, joyful, daring, sweet, devoted, wonderful, unassuming,  soft, best friend, well-dressed, accommodating, active, needy, merry, hilarious, well-groomed, gleeful, and lucky.

So there you have it, just a few words to describe my sweet little Jellybean.  Our pups are our family.  They have so much personality and are such a big part of our lives.  Now I’ll pass the challenge on to you.  Can you describe your furry little friend in one word or will you too need a plethora of adjectives to get the job done right?

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Check out my books here! 

A Home Well-Loved

I recently hosted the Winterfest Potluck Dinner in my condo community.  Having just bought the home this past June, I was not only honored to host, but also thrilled to show off my farmhouse/country décor and have an opportunity to share fellowship and a plethora of tasty dishes with my new neighbors.  Jellybean was in heaven!  She received so much attention throughout the evening.  By the time the festivities wound down and the house was still and quiet, Jellybean was ready to snuggle and catch up on her missed naps.

The next day I sent a text to a very dear friend, noting that the Winterfest gathering was a huge success.  Just so you know, her mother is the former owner of the condo and also served as host for this particular celebration many times throughout her twenty some years in this condo.  My friend was amazed at the timing of my message.  She had just returned her mother to her new home, a local assisted living residence.  It seems that on the ride home, her mother asked, “Does Bev still like living in my house?  Does her little puppy like it too?”  My friend was amazed at the clarity at which her mother spoke of both Jellybean and me, especially with the severity of her memory loss.  She assured her mother that indeed we do love it here.

I was really touched by this.  I have known Del and her family for years.  When I was a classroom teacher, I babysat her grandchildren every summer and also many a Saturday night.  Now that I am retired I babysit her great-grandson three days a week.  Del’s daughter was also my hair stylist for over thirty years.  Fast forward to this summer and I became the owner of the home that Del lived in and loved for over twenty years.  As you can see, the connections to this family run very deep.

As the week went by, I kept thinking that I should do something for Del so that she can see how much Jellybean and I enjoy living in her home.  I decided to create a photo book for her.  I spent an afternoon looking through pictures on my laptop and gathered the ones I thought represented how comfortable we are here.  I began with how infatuated Jellybean is with the cows that appear at the fence outside our sunroom window.  Jellybean spends hours on the sofa looking out the window.  It is one of her favorite spots.  I am so lucky to have a sunroom that is a total wall of windows.  It faces the field on a neighboring farm.  The cows come down and hang out by the fence.  Several ground hogs play in the brush.  Birds in a variety of colors frolic in the thick bushes, squirrels perform high wire acts in the tree right outside the windows.  We’ve even had a stray cat reach its little paws up and peer in the window.  Needless to say, Jellybean did not tolerate that very well and looked at it more as of an invasion than nature at play.  I have many pictures of Jellybean lounging here or sitting at attention, depending on the activity outside our windows.

I also included pictures of my big farm table, where my entire family can be seated together for meal time, my late husband’s barber chair – a cherished piece of furniture – which found its’ home in a corner spot of the sunroom, and pictures of baby Jay and Jellybean as they went from getting to know each other to becoming best buds.  I often refer to them as Peanut Butter and Jelly, as you don’t see one without the other.  I also included a picture of the infamous Jellybean’s closet, which now houses Jellybean’s ridiculous collection of coats, sweaters, jackets, hoodies, snowsuits, pajamas, etc.  I’ll bet Del could not have imagined that the closet system she had installed for organizational purposes would be so perfect for my spoiled little puppy.  I’m sure Del will get a chuckle out of the pictures of Jellybean frolicking in the yard as the snow gently falls.  The pictures of her snow-covered face are absolutely adorable and speak to the high level of comfort and complete abandon she feels when playing here.

So, when Del inquires if Jellybean and I still like living in her house, I respond with a profound YES!!  YES!!  YES!!  We love everything about it.  Most of all we love that the house came already filled with love.  Del left some of that behind for us.  I am forever grateful for the opportunity to make a home for Jellybean and me in a home that permeates the love bestowed upon it by its’ former owner.

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Check out my books here! 

 

A Time To Be Thankful

Jellybean - thanksgiving

Reflecting on this year’s Thanksgiving, I appreciate just how blessed I am.  I was so excited to have my family join Jellybean and me for Thanksgiving Day in my new house.  It was the first time I have hosted that everyone has been able to sit at the same table, thanks to a condo with an open concept design and my new honkin’ big farm house table.  It was awesome to see phones put away for a little while and everyone truly enjoying each other’s company.  It was made even more special by my brother’s recent return to the family fold and my mother’s amazing recovery from a heart attack.  Throughout the meal and football games, there was easy conversation among family, catching up with the grandchildren, the annual sharing of Christmas lists over cups of steaming hot tea after the table was cleared and dishes safely in the dishwasher, the naps – oh, was I the only one who took a nap?  No, if I recall, Jellybean was right there beside me.  As a matter of fact, I found her curled up on the guest room bed and I actually joined her.   My Granddaughter wowed us with her new reading skills, as only a first grader can.  Jellybean, always one to accommodate, allowed my Granddaughter to pull her around in her little pink wagon.  As they went round and round the living room, Jellybean made eye contact with everyone, as if to say “Look at me!  Look at me!”  My Grandson shared his interest in all things engineering and technology related.  How can he know so much at only eleven years?  My puppy, of course begged her way through the Thanksgiving meal, the afternoon snacking, and then the “second round” when the sandwiches, munchies, and desserts came out.  More family stopped in at that point. Too soon, evening arrived and everyone stuffed to the gills and filled with appreciation for family and fellowship gave out hugs and made their way home.  Except for my sister and brother-in-law, that is, who had promised they would stay the night so we could recreate our evenings together when Jellybean and I were guests in their home for a bit.  What a nice way to wind down after a week of preparation for this special day; cups of hot tea, a few more little snacks, belly rubs for Jellybean and quiet conversation of how truly blessed we are.

 

Beverly Stiffler Smith

Children’s Author

Check out my books here!