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

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

 

 

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! 

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! 

 

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!