On paws for the holidays.
See you in 2021!
Family-Friendly Short Stories, Cartoons, and Illustrations
On paws for the holidays.
See you in 2021!
It’s kind of strange to say this after almost four years of posting regularly no matter what, but I’m taking a vacation.
Life is busy right now. August is like that. I’m also trying to figure out how to juggle things this fall with the kids doing their studies online and my husband working from home.
So, give me a few weeks and I’ll be back to regularly posting. In the meantime, please check out the things I’ve posted over the last few years. I’d love to hear what you think. If you have any ideas or suggestions for future posts, please let me know.
Thank you for your support and encouragement. I really appreciate it!
“But I don’t want to go on vacation.” Charlie slumped in his chair and folded his arms across his chest.
“I thought that you wanted to go see the horses. You’ve been talking about this for weeks.” Marianne set her fork down with a frown.
“Well I don’t. Not anymore. I want to stay home.” Charlie slumped down further in his chair. Just his eyes were visible above the edge of the table.
Marianne sighed. “What brought this on? Is there something in particular that you’re worried about?”
“I just don’t want to go. That’s all. I want to stay here.”
“I like staying home best too,” Isaac said.
Charlie sat up a little straighter. “Then we don’t have to go?”
Marianne turned to Isaac. “That’s not helping.”
“I don’t know.” Isaac looked past both of them to the window. It was evening, but the sky was still light out. Summer hadn’t ended yet, but he knew the end was coming. The seasons seemed to change faster and faster anymore. He missed the never-ending summers of his childhood.
“What do you mean?” Charlie was sitting up straight now. He leaned forward, hands on the table. “Are we going or not?”
“I like staying home best, but I really like having fun memories of fun things we did as a family too. It’s fun to sit and remember those times when we’re here at home. Remember the corn maze and how lost I got?”
Charlie grinned. “I was the one who found the way out. You couldn’t read the map, but I could.”
Isaac nodded. “It wasn’t fun to be lost. My feet hurt by the time we went home. But it was amazing when you just looked at the map and knew which way to go.”
Marianne smiled. “I drank all the pumpkin juice while I waited for you to come out, and I had to go buy more.”
“That was a lot of fun. I hope we go again this year,” Charlie said. “Why can’t we just be gone during the day like that? I wouldn’t mind just being gone during the day.”
“You don’t like sleeping somewhere else?” Isaac asked.
Charlie shrugged. “I guess. It just feels weird. And who’s going to take care of the garden? If something goes wrong, we’ll be so far away.”
Isaac nodded. “I worry about things like that too.”
Marianne smiled. “The new neighbors will take great care of the garden. We can leave them instructions if you’re worried.”
“We’ll all be sleeping in the same hotel room while we’re gone. Hotel rooms aren’t home, but I think it feels a little safer when we’re all together.” Isaac handed Charlie another roll.
Charlie started smashing the roll flat. “Do we have to go?”
“We don’t have to go,” Isaac said. “But I think we should.”
Charlie tore off a piece of flattened bread and rolled it between his fingers. “But why?”
“I told you that I like having fun memories of things we do together, like the pumpkin patch.” Isaac paused and looked at Charlie. Charlie nodded. “Well, I think it’s good to have a variety of memories. Otherwise they kind of blend together, and it’s hard to separate them. It feels like fewer memories. The time goes by so fast. You’ll see. Sooner than you think, it will be the end of the week, and we’ll be home. And then we’ll have the memories to look back on.”
“And we’ll be at home talking about the horses,” Charlie said.
“That’s right. It’s like watching the rain while being inside safe and warm.” Isaac smiled.
“That sounds nice.” Marianne picked up her fork again.
“I guess it’s just a week.” Charlie finished rolling up the last piece of smooshed bread. “I still don’t want to go.”
“Me either. But won’t it be fun to see the horses?”
“I guess so.” Charlie started eating his bits of bread.
Marianne smiled. “Now that’s settled, I have a list of things we need to do before we go…”
Spring is changing to summer here. The school year is ending. I have a few weeks before my children are out of school and my schedule and routine will change.
Life is full of changes, big and small. People move. Their family size changes. They go on trips. They try something new, and stop doing things that aren’t working for them.
From my comic diaries on 8-25-18, as we left for Yellowstone National Park.
Even good changes can be stressful. However, there are ways to cope with change and make the transition easier. This will cut down on the stress and help with recovery time.
First, look ahead. Unexpected change is especially difficult. Like a driver scanning the road ahead for potential problems, look at the future and possible changes that may occur. Using my upcoming change as an example, the school year ending, how will that impact my schedule? What would my daily routine look like after the change? What things will need to be different?
Second, make a plan. This works even for surprise changes. As soon as you know there is going to be a change, you can plan for it. What are my goals? How can I achieve them now? What steps will I need to take? How is it different than before?
Watercolor painting of the Mississippi River as we saw it on a summer-long vacation to Wisconsin.
Third, follow up on your plan. If you know your goals and the steps you need to take to achieve them, then it’s time to follow through. I want to continue to practice art. I know that with the kids home, I will have less time to myself during the day. So, I need to get my practice in earlier before I get caught up in projects and such.
Looking ahead, and knowing this is my plan, I can brainstorm different ways to make sure it happens. I might want to try out different times and see what works best. I might want to set alarms on my phone. I could plan incentives like a walk to the park or a cup of peppermint tea for if I get my work done by a specific time.
Other changes may require dropping art for a time and planning on when you can pick it back up. Or it may mean dropping some things and not others. Or changing what you are doing. Or combining things.
When you don’t think about how to handle the change, it is all to easy to let everything go. Months later, you look around and realize how long it’s been since you last painted or sketched or wrote anything. At that point, momentum is against you, and it becomes increasingly difficult to pick anything up. Your life has filled itself up with other things and you’ve become comfortable with the way things are. To pick things back up would require another change.
Watercolor painting of Mount Rushmore as we saw it on a summer-long vacation to Wisconsin.
As difficult as it is, any planning you can do will help. Remember what is important to you. Remember your goals and dreams. Think about what it will take to achieve them, and then work with the change. Perhaps, once you’re on the other side and the stress is over, you’ll be glad for the chance it gave you to reaffirm your goals and think about how to best reach them.
Watercolor painting of Little Big Horn as we saw it on a summer-long vacation to Wisconsin.
What changes are you coping with? What are your plans to achieve your goals despite the change? How will you follow through with those plans?
Melissa’s family decided to go to the beach over spring break. They had to drive for hours to get there. As they drove further south, they found sunny weather and blue skies. The warm sun felt fabulous. It had been a long, cold winter.
It was evening when they arrived at their hotel. It was large and painted bright green. After they checked in, the desk clerk gave them a map. “A lot of our guests get lost,” she said. “I marked your room right here.”
Melissa peeked at the map. It was quite confusing. It looked like there were a number of separate buildings and sunrooms and courtyards. “That looks like a long walk from here,” she said.
“Oh, you can drive to the closest parking lot,” the desk clerk said. So, they took their suitcases back outside and drove around the back to another building nearby.
“I am so tired,” Melissa’s mom said. “Let’s just find our room and get to bed. We had a late lunch.”
“But I’m hungry,” Michael said.
Melissa’s dad pulled out his wallet. “Here, I’ll give you money for the vending machine. I’m sure there’s one somewhere. Take your sister. Melissa, do you have your phone?”
“Yes,” Melissa said. “Can I take the map?”
“Here you go,” he said. “Take your suitcases in before you go.”
Michael and Melissa cut through the courtyard to get to the vending machine. “Left, left, and then right,” Melissa said. Michael nodded. Soon they’d found the vending machines. While Michael was making his choices, Melissa bought a granola bar and some rice cakes. It was time to go back.
She looked at the map. If she turned it around, it should be easy to figure out, right? Unfortunately, they turned wrong at one of the corners and ended up somewhere else.
“This map doesn’t have room numbers,” she said. “How are you supposed to figure out where you are if you’re lost? I’m going to complain in the morning.” Michael rolled his eyes and leaned against the wall. Melissa pulled out her phone. Should she call? How would their parents find them? She had the map.
Just then, a parrot waddled down the corridor. It looked up at her. “Lost?” it asked.
“Yes,” Melissa said. “All the rooms in our hallway had a picture of the sun by the room number.” She looked around. “These have trees. Do you know the way to the sun hallway?”
“Map,” it said. Melissa held out the map. The parrot tapped on a short corridor and then bobbed its head and waddled away. It held up a little ankle bracelet in front of what Melissa had thought was a doorstop. The door opened up and the parrot slipped inside.
Melissa looked back at the map. She was almost back to the courtyard. She’d just have to go left and then right. She marched off. Michael followed her. “Melissa, did that parrot just talk?” he asked.
“Yes,” she said.
“Oh, okay,” he said. He opened a bag of chips and started eating. When they got back to the room, their parents were watching the weather channel.
“It’s going to be beautiful tomorrow,” Melissa’s mom said.
The beach was crowded the next morning. Melissa’s parents put out beach towels and umbrellas and told Melissa and Michael not to wander too far. Michael left his sandals by the towels and ran towards the water.
Melissa decided to explore. She trudged over to a large sand dune. Her feet slid down the sand as she climbed. It took longer than she thought. From the top she could still see her parents’ umbrellas.
Behind the dune there was a little, hidden bay filled with birds. There were birds of all colors and sizes darting here and there. A parrot was perched on a wooden pole near the edge of the water. Melissa shuffled over, the warm sand dusting her feet with each step and sticking between her toes.
“Hi, were you the parrot that helped me last night when I got lost?” she asked.
“Yes,” the parrot said.
“Well, um, thank you,” she said. “I got back to my family just fine.” The parrot nodded and looked away.
Melissa looked around. When she looked at them, a group of brown birds scuttled away. She looked the other way and a large white bird flew off chattering in a scolding voice. Two blue birds nearby looked away when she looked at them. She felt out of place and awkward.
“I bet my parents are wondering where I am,” she said. “I’d better go.” The parrot didn’t look at her. “Goodbye. Thanks again,” she said. She climbed back up the sand dune. When she got to the top she looked back. She couldn’t see the little bay.
Melissa hurried back to her parents. “Mom, Dad, I know where the birds go for the winter,” she said. “Right here.”
Melissa’s dad nodded. “That makes sense. If I could come stay here for the whole winter, I would too.”
Melissa ran to join Michael by the water. They had a wonderful day. Melissa hoped the birds did too. She looked around for the parrot the next day when they went back to the beach, but she never saw it again.
I had a bad dream. I dreamed that summer vacation was already over.