Do You Like Snow?

I love September. It’s the return of order, of predictability, of schedules. Bells ring and alarm clocks are set again. The schoolyard behind our house is filled with the noise of kids at play. The air is cool enough for them to want to run and swing and slide. Autumn is pretty great.

Spring is colorful, warm. Spring showers are not usually the flood-inducing boomers of July and August. But, spring is still mud season. Which, of course, brings us to summer.

I’m not too fond of summer. It’s hot. It’s humid. There are activities that come up all of a sudden and disrupt my carefully constructed calendar. I used to love summer camp – but I don’t get to go to camp any more.

However, I do like winter. I’ve always lived “up north” so, to me, snow is beautiful. I even enjoy shoveling it – again, imposing order on nature’s chaos (as much as is possible).

The little girl in our newest book at Slow Tag Press, Do You Like Snow?, is definitely not a fan of winter. She’s also not a fan of being lonely inside while her friends are bundled up and playing outdoors. What will she do? What should she do? Share Do You Like Snow? with your little readers and figure out what seasons you like best.


Do You Like Snow? and Herbert Loves Sherbet are available by contacting us at or on Amazon.


When I was a little kid, I had two imaginary friends, Gitz and Haddie. They played with me in our third floor walk-up. They lived in a “haunted mansion” a few blocks away. We sang songs and ate at my small, Formica table together. They never got me into trouble. They never scared me or comforted me. They were just companions for a young girl living with three adults. And, then, they were gone…though, obviously, not forgotten.

My younger sister had her own imaginary friend, Jeannie. Jeannie, however, was a scamp and was very often blamed for things going badly. I wasn’t a fan of Jeannie. I didn’t understand wanting to pal around with a trouble-maker.

Our son didn’t have any imaginary friends (that we know of). Our daughter didn’t either. Instead, she became either Miss Chris or Susan, both of whom seemed to be very sophisticated, interior designers. Try to picture the rearranging of our rooms based on the whimsy and taste of a four-year-old!

Now, our oldest grandchildren have adopted the names and dress of various crime fighting, cartoon figures. They wear capes and home-made costumes and insist on being called by their super-hero names. We’ve all been given our own names from these cartoons. Most everyone is a super-hero. But, I’m a villain. I’m banking on the fact that my three-year-old granddaughter hasn’t deliberately made her younger brother and me the bad guys. Even if she has, I go with it.

Imagination is the playmate of childhood. Most of us cast it aside as our world expands with all its responsibilities and distractions. My grandchildren have given me a gift by bringing me back to that world of make-believe. I won’t lose it (and Gitz and Haddie) again.


Wave That Flag

The world makes me ache and worry for my grandchildren. It was probably just as dangerous when I was a child (nuclear bomb drills under desks!), but – I was a child. I didn’t care about anything much beyond the three blocks between my home and the schoolyard. Now, the news is in my pocket all day long and I can’t escape it as easily.

 The United States is not without blame now and in the past. However, as the July 4th festivities begin, I am enormously grateful to be an American. But, being grateful doesn’t mean that I don’t want our country and our leaders and us as voters to do better. This month you’ll probably be wearing your red-white-and-blue shirts and waving your flag at the passing bands playing stirring, patriotic music. Remember that your duty as an American doesn’t stop when the fireworks are over.

 Take the time to learn about the candidates representing you locally and nationally. And, vote at every opportunity. Yes, vote! Saluting the flag as it’s marched down your town boulevard is great. I have a flag waving year round from my front stoop. But, voting can really make a difference – for us and for our grandchildren. They may be the future, but, we all have an important voice in shaping that future. Enjoy your Independence Day celebrations and vote to make that sense of pride mean something all year long.

We All Need Attention

When I was a new mother, friends who hadn’t had any children yet kept asking me, “Well, what do you do all day?” They couldn’t understand that there was just no down time. Babies require constant attention, sometimes even when they’re asleep. My husband traveled for work. I was still in graduate school. My days were clogged with an endless agenda of cleaning, caring and hoping to take a nap.

 Now, I’m watching my children live that child-centric life. They all have careers. They all have work-out schedules. They are all fabulously attentive and entertaining parents. As a senior citizen, I’m exhausted just imagining their days.

 I have decided that parents need attention, too. Sometimes, I should call just to ask about them and not about the kids tossing toys (or food) in the background. I should listen to them. Having an adult conversation after a day of toddlers and infants can help rebalance your sanity. When buying the grandchildren gifts (always), I should occasionally include something little for their parents. If my out-of-town kids are visiting or if we’re visiting them, we should offer to babysit for an evening. Yes, my husband gets drafted for childcare, too. I try to never forget a birthday, an anniversary, an accomplishment.

 Remember when you didn’t have a minute to yourself – “What do you do all day?” As grandparents, we now have that time to lavish care on our children as well as our grands. Little gestures can make a huge difference. We all need attention. And, we can all give that attention, too.

Hurray for Outdoor Play!

At the beginning of May each year, a dear, sweet friend, the kind who would sacrifice anything for her family and comrades, calls me with an off-color poem about May and warm weather. It’s the perfect reminder that winter really is behind us and just another reason that I look forward to May.

This past winter has been particularly harsh in the Midwest. Almost daily snow flurries (and often more than flurries) and wind chills in the 30 below range have kept me inside with the grandkids on babysitting days. Now, it’s May!

Now, we can go to the playground. We can run around in our backyards. I can teach them how to plant their own little flower pots. It doesn’t take ten minutes to dress up before we can step outside. I’m not rubbing chilled hands and wiping dripping noses as soon as we step back into the house. We can walk to the library, to lunch, to classes and enjoy the sounds and scenery along the way. The world opens up again in May.

I still like winter. But, by March, I’m pretty tired of snow and ice. That’s why I’m holding on to my newest book, Do You Like Snow?, until we’re in the throes of heat and humidity and are looking forward to snowmen again. So, until you have a new read from Slow Tag Press, get outside and revel in spring. It’s May!

Kids' Birthday Parties Are...For the Kids?

I have three grandchildren born in April. That’s three opportunities this month to celebrate. The question remains, how much do kids appreciate the parties we adults throw for them? For them or for us?

I’ve been invited to first birthdays in backyards with inflatable, wading pools and rocks to hold down the skittering napkins and plates. The kids had a ball and the cake was great. I’ve attended toddler parties in restaurants where adults far out-numbered the kids. What kids were there were hard to contain…and the cake was great. I’ve been to commercial birthday venues with endless places for kids to run and not enough places for adults to sit. The kids wore themselves out and never got to the cake. Too bad for them...the cake was great. Each party was a success.

It’s not a new phenomenon that kids’ parties have become showcases for their parents’ inventiveness. It’s not new that parties are held outside the home. I threw our daughter costume themed parties, always at home. Our son preferred playgrounds or museums or any place different than his everyday digs. But, when they’re little, do they really care?

Hats off to my children. They haven’t overwhelmed their infants and toddlers with too many gifts, too many people, too many lights, too much music. The babies have been perfectly content to lick frosting and play with wrapping paper (usually a much bigger hit than whatever was inside). But, now some of my grandkids aren’t babies any more. Do they want something more elaborate – or do we?

When I was young, the centerpiece of my birthday party was always my Aunt Ida’s buttermilk chocolate cake with mint icing and shaved chocolate on top. I really didn’t care where the party was as long as the cake was great. I suspect my grandchildren feel the same way.

Grandmothers Used to Be Old

Both of my grandmothers always had white hair. They both always wore sensible shoes. They both always smelled like soft, spring flowers and sat quietly in straight backed chairs. A generation later, when my mother (who had bleached hair and wore high heels and lots of make-up) came to visit, the neighborhood kids didn’t believe my children when they said that, yes, she was their grandmother. Now, I am a raucous, adventurous granny. I think, as a subset of parents, we grandmothers just keep getting younger.

I work out five days a week. Got to keep in shape to chase, hoist and cuddle those giggling, squirmy babies. I try (usually) to eat a moderate, healthy diet. Can’t have sugar swings and fall asleep on the couch when it’s time to go to the park. My grandchildren hardly ever see me in dressy clothes. What fun would it be if I couldn’t color and build and roll around on the floor with them?

This month I turn 65. In anticipation of that momentous occasion, I attended a Medicare seminar. The room was filled with “old people.” I felt out-of-place (though I suspect that I actually fit right in). Sixty-five used to be so old. I’m not old! I’m a grandmother and that requires energy galore.

Thank you, James and Dellie and Leo and Kate for the 65th birthday present of youth and delight!

What's Your Kind of Valentine?

I wrote myself a reminder for the February blog post. It says only “treacly Valentine.” What did I mean? Are sweet cards too warm and fuzzy? Should Valentines be tart and sarcastic? Exactly what was this cryptic message supposed to prompt me to write?

I know for sure that I do not like over sentimentality. That may come as a surprise to my family as they’ve watched me tear up at sappy commercials for years. Yup, thirty seconds of schmaltz can have me lunging for the tissues. But, too much sugar and spice often hide the real feelings behind relationships.

I like my romance sprinkled with a healthy dose of teasing – not quite cynicism but certainly good natured banter. I like my books and characters that way, too. But, tongue-in-cheek is not for everyone. Some people can dish it out but not take it. Others would prefer no mocking at all.

This February, I wish you romance in whatever form you find it. Share your particular brand of love with your family, with your friends, with all those grand babies. There can never be too much tenderness and true affection in the world. Happy Valentine’s Day from Slow Tag Press to all of you!

A New Year with No Mistakes in It

Books provide infinite delights – adventure, romance, distraction from the mundane or the upsetting. They expand our cultural, geographical, emotional horizons. They offer hope and, sometimes, despair. Books are central to discussions with your grandchildren as well as with your book group. They let you see what you can be and what you already are.

I write and publish children’s books. Just because this is a genre focused on young readers doesn’t make it any less valuable for all the reasons listed above. Every dedicated reader has at least one childhood or young adult title in her list of favorites. And, most of us go back to those old friends again and again over the years. Sometimes we revisit them for comfort, sometimes for inspiration.

In this new year, I am reminded of L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables. My mantra for 2019 will be “Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet.” Every morning is a fresh chance to meet challenges and forgive errors (yours and others’). I will wake up each day knowing that I have another opportunity to be my best self.

And, my best self will keep reading. Your best self should, too.

Dear Amazon

Dear Santa,

This year I have been really, really good. I have done my chores, studied for most of my spelling tests and even been nice to my little brother. I hope that means you have a bunch of toys for me.

My dad helped me go online to choose exactly what I want. You can go to to see my wish list. I picked colors and stock code numbers to help you out. Don’t worry if the elves are running late. My parents have a Prime membership so you can log on at the last minute and still get these to me by Christmas morning. I see Amazon vans on our street all the time, But, I’ve never seen an Amazon sled pulled by reindeer (or by dogs). Even Amazon might have a hard time delivering to the North Pole. So, maybe you’d better just send the toys to me directly. I know you have a lot to do this time of year, so I hope this helps you out. 

Please wish Mrs. Claus a happy holiday from me.

Love, your friend and Amazon member Herbert

P.S. My mom and I ordered these cookies from Amazon, too.