Tuesday, June 30, 2009

And the winner is ...


Congratulations! Kate was chosen in a random drawing to win a free, autographed copy of A New Job for Dilly. Thank you to everyone who took the time to follow the blog tour and leave comments. It was a lot of fun. Thank you to my hosts -- you were awesome! I couldn't get over how creative everyone was, which is what made the tour so much fun. We learned about rats, pickles, jobs and the importance of reading to kids. We also featured interviews with Dilly's illustrator, Lisa Oakman, as well as the big rat himself -- Dilly! I hope you had as much fun as I did. I'm looking forward to more adventures with Dilly.

Also, thanks to everyone who took the time to post my tour schedule on their blog or enter my previous contest to win a framed wildlife picture. The winners were Kim Kasch and Hilary Pinski. That contest was announced here. If Hilary Pinski and Kate can email me their address, I'll get their prizes to them as soon as possible. My email is renamoodyblue@yahoo.com. I still have copies of A New Job for Dilly, so you can order them directly from me through my website. I'd be happy to sign them for you or your child. Thanks again for participating in my first tour -- Dilly & I appreciate your support.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Smooth as glass ...

I don't think the water in Lake McDonald could have been any more smooth if it tried. The above picture was taken just this morning around 10am. We only camped one night and had to check out at noon, so we decided to take the boats out right before we left. This is Neil sitting in front of me on the lake. The water was motionless. Nathan caught another trout, which we think was a Lake Trout, but it managed to get away as Rick was trying to get it off the hook. Darn thing just flipped out of the net. Fun camping trip, even if it was just one night. The Going-To-The-Sun Road just opened up, so yesterday we took a drive to the summit. We saw lots of Columbian Ground Squirrels, like the one pictured below. Also saw a mountain goat as we were driving down, but I couldn't get any pictures of it. Then this morning we had a young buck wander through our campsite, which is pictured below also.

As for the contest for the blog tour for A New Job for Dilly -- I'm going to be gathering up the names today and drawing a winner for the autographed book. I'll post the winner in tomorrow's blog. Thanks again to all of my hosts and to everyone who took the time to stop by to read and comment.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Dilly speaks!

Today is the last day of our book blog tour for A New Job for Dilly. Please check out Vivian Zabel's blog, Brain Cells & Bubble Wrap for our final stop. Today Dilly speaks out for the first time in his very first interview. Vivian Zabel is the president of 4RV Publishing, LLC. She was the one who saw promise in Dilly and was willing to take a chance on him, and for that, I thank her. I'm excited about Dilly's first book, as well as his next two, A New Friend for Dilly and A Dinner Date for Dilly. Both books will be published by 4RV Publishing, LLC and illustrated by Lisa Oakman.

Thank you to all of my hosts who have participated in this tour. Thank you also to everyone who's followed along and taken the time to leave their comments. There's still a chance to win a free, autographed copy of A New Job for Dilly. All you have to do is leave FOUR comments throughout the tour stop to be entered in the drawing. I'll keep it open until midnight tonight before I gather up the names and pick a winner. The schedule is as follows --

Sherrie did an author interview.

Beth discussed Dilly's favorite food, pickles.

Elysabeth talked about finding that perfect job.

Sharon explained the importance of reading to kids.

Adrienne shared fun facts about rats.

Nikki interviewed Lisa Oakman, Dilly's illustrator.

Vivian interviewed the big pickle himself -- Dilly!

Again, thanks to everyone who participated and followed Dilly's first tour. I hope everyone left comments to be entered in the drawing for the free book. For all my hosts, I have a gift for you too, so I'll need a mailing address. Also, don't forget I have copies of A New Job for Dilly, if you'd like to order directly from me. I'll be happy to sign the book for you or your child. I've been involved in a few blog tours in the past and had a lot of fun doing them. I hope you did with mine as well. This was my first one, but hopefully it won't be my last!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Oh, to be an artist ...

Can you draw or paint? I used to love drawing when I was younger. I would sit for hours and draw pictures. It's not something I stuck with though, so my skills never got very far. My girls, on the other hand, are really good at drawing. Nicole does amazing real life sketches as well as the cutest cartoon drawings. The boys are good at drawing too, especially Nathan, who seems to have a knack of creating the most bizarre facial expressions. Basically, everyone in my house loves to draw, except for Rick. It's just not his thing, so we let him do the bills instead.

One thing I wished I could do was paint. I love watching people paint and I love seeing the finished product. But again, it's not something I got into, so I know very little about it. This photograph is one of two paintings I've ever done in my life. Yep, it's a paint-by-number kit. That's about as far as my painting skills ever got. Don't look at it too closely! What I like about it is that my mom painted the very same picture when she was younger. I grew up seeing my mom's painting at my grandparent's house. Many years ago, when I saw the kit in a store, I knew I had to get it. The picture below is also a Jesus painting, and also one of those paint-by-number kits. That's the extent of my painting talent. How I envy people who can do it for real!

Today's stop for A New Job for Dilly is at Nikki Shoemaker's What Comes From Nikki's Pencil blog. She features an interview with Lisa Oakman, the illustrator who brought Dilly to life. I'm always amazed to hear the process involved in illustrating a book. It's more complicated than most people know. Lisa discusses what she goes through to get an idea into an actual picture. It's really fascinating. What is really cool, at least for me anyway, is that both Lisa and Nikki are illustrators who are working on my stories. Lisa illustrated A New Job for Dilly and has already started book two in the series called A New Friend for Dilly. Nikki is working on a book called Lemur Troops & Critter Groups, which is the first of a 3 book set. Both have a unique style and I'm blessed to be working with them.

Don't forget you can still be entered in the drawing to win a free, autographed copy of A New Job for Dilly. All you have to do is leave FOUR comments during the blog tour. There's still time to go back to the ones we've already done this week. For the schedule, scroll down and you'll find all the stops. Don't forget to visit Nikki's blog today. She has just released another picture book called What's Wrong with Mud? and has details how you can get that on her blog. I want to say thank you to Sherrie, Beth, Elysabeth, Sharon, Adrienne, Nikki, and Lisa for their participation helping with this blog tour. In addition, thanks to everyone who's stopped by the tour to read and/or leave comments. It's not over yet -- tomorrow Dilly is featured in his very first celebrity interview -- go, Dilly, go!

Thursday, June 25, 2009


The brown rat, or rattus norvegicus, is a common rodent found all over the world. Rats are probably one of the most misunderstood animals. Some people view them as pests, and yet, others see them as pets. I've never owned a rat, to be honest. As a kid, rats always freaked me out a little. I'm not sure why, but maybe it was their long, hairless tails or the fact that they had been given such a bad rap. I had hamsters when I was a kid, just like Nicole holding Nibbles here. Hamster were kind of like rats, minus the slithery tail. My mom tolerated hamsters, but not rats, so they were out of the question.

In my first published picture book, A New Job for Dilly, the main character is a brown rat. About a year ago I sat down to write a story about a rat on a pirate ship. I'm really into pirate history and rats were a big part of every ship. They chewed through the boats, ate the food, and were even bred to be eaten when times got tough at sea. Basically, that's how Dilly began, except his name was Scabby. The story didn't get too far and eventually Scabby started looking for jobs so he didn't have to steal his favorite food -- pickles. After it was written, I let my family read the manuscript and they all liked it, except for one thing. "Why is he called Scabby?" they all asked. It was a good question, since there was no reference to why he was called that. The name was simply brought over from the pirate ship idea. So, I sat talking to my friend Paula on IM one day and we were discussing names. The conversation turned to pickles and that's how the name Dilly came to be. It fit him perfectly! I still haven't given up my idea of a pirate rat, so maybe that will materialize someday. But for now, Dilly the rat is here to stay.

Today Adrienne is hosting my Dilly tour at her blog, The Story Board. She has posted some fun facts about rats that you might not know. In addition, she's come up with some very clever job opportunities to go with them. I loved how she tied that into my book. Please stop by her blog and check it out. Look for yesterday's entry too because she posted some really cool photographs that feature rats. She has a great blog and always has funny things to say, so you'll definitely want to come back to visit her. Thanks also to Sherrie, Beth, Elysabeth, and Sharon for helping me with this tour to promote A New Job for Dilly. All of my hosts have been awesome and very creative. I couldn't be more blessed to have such great friends. And it's not over yet! We still have 2 more days to go and more Dilly fun planned.

Remember, you can win a free, autographed copy of A New Job for Dilly by simply leaving FOUR comments at the various blog tour stops. It's not too late to go back to any of them to comment, so please do so if you haven't already. A New Job for Dilly is available through 4RV Publishing, LLC. It can also be ordered through any bookseller. The ISBN codes are listed on my website. However, if you'd like an autographed copy of the book, you can order one directly from me and I'd be happy to sign one for you or your child. And finally, I want to thank everyone who has been following my blog tour this week. Dilly & I really appreciate your support!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Reading to kids ...

I've been reading to my kids since they were babies. I think that tradition was passed down pretty early, if you look at this picture. Nichelle is on the left, and she couldn't have been more than 3, if that. Nicole was born in 1991, so that's probably when this was taken. It's hard to believe my girls are adults now -- really hard to believe. But as you see in this picture, reading has always been a huge thing for them. Out of my 4 kids, I taught 3 of them how to read. That's a pretty wild feeling for me. I've always encouraged my kids to read in different ways, whether it be by going to a bookstore, visiting the library, doing Pizza Hut's Book-It program, or keeping reading charts for school. I've even offered books as prizes for the kids when they've kept up with certain chores. I can't stress enough how important reading is for children. That's what I love about picture books so much -- they get kids to pick up a book at an early age. I hope by writing A New Job for Dilly and my other books that I can encourage children to pick up books when they're young and develop good, lifelong reading habits.

Today's tour stop is over at Mama Sharon Says, a blog by my good friend from Southern California. I met Sharon through The Wiggles message board and then we got to meet in person by going to concerts with our children. I was sad to leave such a good friend behind when I moved because I was just starting to get to know her better. Thank goodness for the Internet because we can keep in touch. Please check out Sharon's blog for her stop on the tour for A New Job for Dilly. She's given me a fat head with all her wonderful compliments, but that's one of the reasons I love her so much. Sharon and her husband, Dave also run a home business called Hey, That's Gourmet! You definitely want to check that out because they offer some really yummy stuff. I need to try that dark chocolate espresso bar!

Please visit Sharon's blog today on Day 4 of our tour for A New Job for Dilly. She mentions the Reading Is Fundamental program, which is an awesome way for children to get involved in reading. If you haven't checked out the other stops yet, there's still time for that too. Sherrie featured an interview of me, Beth discussed Dilly's favorite food, and Elysabeth talked about finding a perfect job just like Dilly did. Please stop by them all, if you haven't done so already. If you reply to at least FOUR different stops, I'll put your name into a drawing for a chance to win an autographed copy of A New Job for Dilly. Thank you, Sharon, for hosting me today. Please tell Jonathan I'm so happy he's enjoying the book and I'm honored he took it and read it to his class at school. When I was a kid, my stomach turned just at the thought of having to read aloud, so I'm very impressed Jonathan got up and read it to his classmates. That says a lot about his love of reading!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Get A Job!

Do you remember your first job? I do -- I wasn't in the building 5 minutes before I walked out the door! It sounds horrible, I know, but it turned out to be a telemarketing job. I had no idea when they hired me because they weren't clear on what I'd be doing, other than answering phones. When I showed up on my first day, I was instructed what to do. Someone sat me down at a cubicle and walked away. I think I picked up the receiver, looked at what I was supposed to say, and then walked right out. There was just no way I could do that. Obviously, I've never listed that on a resume.

After high school, my mom didn't have money to send me to college, so I worked a variety of jobs. At the time, I was really into The Who and my main interest was traveling to England with my friends who liked the band. I got various jobs to earn money to do that. I worked as a hospital housekeeper several times, worked in a hospital laundry, did cashier work at a department store, worked in a deli, was a receptionist at a hospital, which later turned into a full-charge bookkeeping job. Believe it or not, but I liked the housekeeping jobs way more than I liked the bookkeeping one. Oh sure, I got to wear nice dresses and high heels as a bookkeeper, but it didn't matter how good I looked if I made a mistake on someone's paycheck and they got all pissed off at me. Working in a hospital in housekeeping was actually fun. It was like being a fly on the wall because I got to see every department at all different times of the day and night. Unlike other hospital jobs, I wasn't confined to a lab or nurses station or kitchen -- I was everywhere. I got to talk to everyone, from the kitchen staff, to the doctors, to the patients.

My favorite job was when I worked as a veterinary assistant for the Pet Emergency Clinic. It was like an ER for pets, and it was only open at night when regular vets were closed. They hired me with no experience and trained me. My first day there was wild. The vet and an assistant were working on a huge dog on the table, while another assistant was struggling with a ferocious cat in one of the kennels. The vet told me to help the lady with the cat and I will never forget what came to mind. I thought to myself, "Oh, my, God! What did I get myself into? I can't do this!" However, I had no choice and had to help the poor lady with the spastic cat. Turned out, I LOVED the job and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

In my picture book, A New Job for Dilly, there is a little rat who loves sour pickles. The problem is that he hates stealing them. He doesn't like being called a thief and doesn't like being chased. Dilly decides to look for a job so he doesn't have to steal pickles. An honest rat -- who would have guessed! Dilly tries jobs from A to Z to find the perfect one for him. I can't say I've tried as many jobs as Dilly, but I see the reasoning behind his search. There was one thing he loved most -- pickles -- and he was willing to do whatever he could to get them. As I got older, my one thing was my kids, which is why I decided to be a stay-at-home mom so I could be with them. It's definitely been my most challenging job to date, as well as most rewarding.

My host for Dilly's blog tour today is Elysabeth Eldering on her JGDS blog. Elysabeth is the author of the Junior Geography Detective Squad book series published by 4RV Publishing. Today she's featuring Dilly and a job related tour stop. I hope you'll hop over there and check it out. Also, remember you can win an autographed copy of A New Job for Dilly by simply leaving FOUR comments throughout our 7-day blog tour. Now I leave you with this classic, which could very well be Dilly's theme song ...

Monday, June 22, 2009


Now this is one froggy friend Dilly probably shouldn't get too close to! The boys & I made this during "Frog Week" at school in 2008. Froggy didn't last too long. As soon as Rick got home from work, one of his legs went missing. It was downhill for him from that moment on -- poor Froggy.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by Sherrie's blog, Write About Now yesterday. Today we're stopping at Beth Bence Reinke's blog for our tour of A New Job for Dilly. Beth has a lot of fun facts about pickles, Dilly's favorite food, that you won't want to miss, so please check it out. If you haven't checked out Sherrie's blog yet, there's still time for that too. Also, don't forget that you can win an autographed copy of A New Job for Dilly by simply leaving FOUR comments throughout the 7 tour stops. Now I leave you with this classic clip from the movie, The Little Rascals ...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

And the winners are ...

Thank you to everyone who took the time to enter my contest, either by posting my book blog tour schedule on their own blog, or by leaving a comment here. I separated the entries into 2 groups -- those who posted the tour, and those who don't have blogs, but left comments. I'm pleased to announce our 2 winners are --

Kim Kasch and Hilary Pinski

Both will receive an 8x10 framed wildlife photograph taken by me. The photographs feature black bears that have been seen in my yard. Both pictures are different bears. I'll take a picture of the prizes and post it later. Congratulations, ladies! I just need addresses now, so I can ship them out.

ALSO -- Today is the first stop in my book blog tour for A New Job for Dilly. Sherrie Petersen will be our host for today over at her blog, Write About Now. Since today is Father's Day, I imagine things will be a little slow, but hopefully they'll pick up as the week and tour progresses. Click here for the complete tour schedule. To be entered in the drawing to win an autographed copy of A New Job for Dilly, please leave at least FOUR comments throughout the 7 tour stops. I hope you will join us for all 7 days of the tour because we have a lot of fun stuff planned. I've got some very creative hosts helping me with this tour, so you won't want to miss it. If you already have the book and/or your kids have read it, they might want to follow the tour as well. Thanks to all of my hosts for helping me spread the word about my first picture book being out -- A New Job for Dilly!

Happy Father's Day!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Father's Day. Above are some of my favorite pictures of Rick with our four children. The first is of Rick & Nichelle, taken at Christmas 1991. The second is of Rick & Nicole, taken in Kings Canyon NP in 1997 or so. The third is Rick & Nathan, taken in Yellowstone around 2005. The last is Rick & Neil, taken at Disney's California Adventure in 2006. Have a great day, everyone!

Happy Father's Day, Rick!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Don't forget ...

Today is the last day to leave a comment on my It's A Contest thread to be entered in a drawing to win a framed wildlife photograph. As I said before, I'm not going to tell you which pictures they are, but you won't be disappointed. There are 2 ways to enter. One, post my book blog schedule for A New Job for Dilly on your blog and then leave a comment that you've done so. Two, if you don't have a blog, simply leave a comment and you'll be entered for the second drawing. It's that simple. You have up until midnight tonight to enter.

The blog tour starts tomorrow and will run for 7 days, through Saturday. From what I've seen of my hosts so far, it's going to be a really fun tour. There will be author interviews, book reviews, fun facts about pickles, jobs, rats -- even prizes. If you follow the tour and leave at least FOUR comments out of the 7 stops, you'll be entered in a drawing to win an autographed copy of A New Job for Dilly. Also, if you're children have already read the book, you might want to have them follow the tour as well because there's a lot of fun stuff involved. Please join us! Our first stop tomorrow will be Sherrie Petersen's blog -- Write About Now. We'll see you there!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Happy Birthday, Garfield!

Today is Garfield's birthday and I admit, I'm a huge fan. I love Garfield. I've read his comic strip since it began June 19, 1978, seen all his movies, watched his cartoons, and have his 45+ comic book collection. Yep, die-hard fan here. In fact, when Rick & I moved into our first apartment, one of our half bathrooms was decorated with Garfield things. Over the years, I got rid of a lot of my Garfield stuff, but I hung onto a few things like Christmas tree ornaments, movies, and the book collection.

Since I don't receive a newspaper, I keep Garfield's comic strip online on my Yahoo page. They're always pretty funny, but every now and then one comes out that's hilarious. Garfield's comic strip is syndicated in over 2,580 newspapers and is currently the Guinness world recorder holder for the most widely syndicated comic strip. Pretty impressive, especially for a fat, orange cat. Garfield's creator, Jim Davis, decided a long time ago that he'd keep Garfield free from politics. In this day and age where people are so easily offended, I think Davis' move was a smart one. My boys like going on the official Garfield website to play the games, so they're turning into as big of a fan as I am. It's not Halloween, Thanksgiving, or Christmas without us watching one of the related holiday cartoons in our house. Check out Garfield's comic today, if you can. After all, it is his birthday!

Don't forget to leave a comment on my It's A Contest post to enter my drawing. There are 2 ways to enter the contest. One, reprint my book blog schedule for A New Job for Dilly on your blog, and leave a comment on the thread to let me know you've done so. Two, if you don't have a blog, simply leave a comment. Both ways will get you entered in the contest to win an 8x10 framed wildlife photograph. Dilly's blog tour starts this Sunday and I hope you'll want to follow it through the week. If you leave at least FOUR comments on 4 of the 7 blog stops, you will be entered in a drawing to win an autographed copy of A New Job for Dilly. It's going to be a great blog tour and we have some really fun stuff planned, so please join us!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sinful Nature

Stacy Nyikos tagged me with this sinful post:

"Sometimes you can learn more about a person by what they don’t tell you. Sometimes you can learn a lot from the things they just make up. If you are tagged with this Meme, lie to me. Then tag 7 other folks (one for each deadly sin) and hope they can lie."

Pride -- What is your biggest contribution to the world?
My amazing backrubs and massages. Just ask my husband.

Envy -- What do your coworkers have that you wish was yours?
Bosses. I need to be told what to do, when to do it, and how to do it.

Gluttony -- What did you eat last night?
Black Bear Stew. We have so many bears in our yard that I'm able to make it once a week. It's yummy in the crock-pot, especially with taters and carrots.

Lust -- What really lights your fire?
Those little telephone ear thingies. There's something sexy about a man who talks out loud when he's walking around by himself.

Anger -- What is the last thing that really pissed you off?
When the president swatted that fly on television. So cruel.

Greed -- Name something you hoard and keep from others.
Montana's famous huckleberry taffy. I tell everyone how great it is, but I never share.

Sloth -- What’s the laziest thing you ever did?
Homeschool my kids. It's just too much work to get up in the morning and get them dressed, fed, and out the door.

Okay, so I can't lie to save my life. I tag the following 7 bloggers --
  1. Christy
  2. Elliah
  3. Kim
  4. Nora
  5. Bish
  6. SL Hastings
  7. Adrienne

I had to include Adrienne because she posted that she would have a tough time with this, and I'm sure she was lying. ;)

Thanks to everyone who has left comments on the post below for my contest. Thanks also to everyone who has posted my book tour on their blog. If you haven't left a comment, it's not too late. You have until midnight Saturday, June 20th, to enter the drawing.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

It's A Contest!

My book blog tour begins next Sunday, June 21st, and lasts through Saturday, June 27th. To get ready for this, I've decided to have a contest. There are 2 ways to enter and there will be 2 winners. The first way is for bloggers -- all you have to do is copy & paste my tour schedule on your blog sometime between now and this next Saturday, June 20th. Leave a comment for me here that you've done so. The second way is for those who don't have blogs -- all you have to do is leave a comment on this post.

The prizes will be 2 wildlife photographs taken by me. I'm not going to tell you which pictures they will be, but I will say there are black bears involved. The photos will be framed and no smaller than 8x10 in size. I'll pick 2 winners -- someone who's left my book schedule on their blog, and someone who's left a comment here. I'll post the winners on Sunday. My goal is to get as many people to follow my book blog tour as possible. By doing so, there's an opportunity to win an autographed copy of A New Job for Dilly. Here is Dilly's book blog schedule for June 21st to June 27th ...

June 21st – Sherrie Petersen

June 22nd – Beth Reinke

June 23rd – Elysabeth Eldering

June 24th – Sharon Spray

June 25th – Adrienne Saldivar

June 26th – Nikki Shoemaker

Also, Nikki Shoemaker is having a book blog tour for her new book, What's Wrong With MUD? coming up on July 6th through July 10th. I will be participating in her tour and she's looking for others who would like to do so also. In case you don't know, Nikki is the AMAZING illustrator who's doing my next book, Lemur Groups & Critter Groups. When she's finished with that one, there will be 2 more in the series of picture books about animal congregations. Check out her blog and website and you'll see that her illustrations are cuter than cute. I hope some of you will join us in promoting her new book, What's Wrong With MUD? It's adorable! If you're interested in participating, please contact Nikki and let her know.

And finally, I didn't get my butterfly picture taken on Monday for Nature Photography Day, so that was a little disappointing. It's not that I didn't try, but the butterfly I found must have been eating espresso beans. It was totally fluttery and I couldn't get a shot of it to save my life, short of stomping on it. I did get some other photographs, including this one above. This is a Mariposa Lily, which grows wild here. It's actually an edible plant and was used by Indians and settlers for all sorts of things, from teas to help reduce swelling to treating pimples. I think I'll be happy just taking pictures of it for now. I hope you will all join my contest -- GOOD LUCK!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Got Fudge?

June 16th is National Fudge Day -- yum! One of my favorite things to get at the fair when I was younger was chocolate fudge from the Mackinac Island Fudge stand. Looking back, I think I only went to the fair for food -- salt water taffy, fudge, egg rolls, and whatever else they were selling on-a-stick at the time. I never rode the rides -- probably because my hands were too full of candy. We haven't been to the local fair yet, but hopefully we can visit it this year. I hope they have good fudge!

Mackinac Island makes the best fudge, but the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory is good too. If I were to pick another it would be a local candy shop here in town called the Bigfork Fudge Company. Their chocolate fudge is awesome, but I go there for two others -- cherry and huckleberry. Bigfork is famous for its cherries in the summer, and we're getting really close to that season. The cherry fudge is awesome. Montana is famous for huckleberries, so you can be sure huckleberry fudge is worth trying. It's very rich and sweet, but if you eat a hunk of huckleberry fudge with a glass of white wine, you'll think you died and went to Heaven -- the combo is incredible!

I don't make homemade fudge that often. Every now and then I will at Christmas, or the girls might get a craving and make up a batch. It's a lot of work and hard to justify when we have such a good fudge shop just down the road. When it comes to chocolate fudge, I prefer mine with walnuts. How about you -- what do you like in your fudge and do you have a special recipe, flavor, or favorite place to get fudge from?

One last thing -- CONTEST COMING SOON! Please watch this blog for details. Okay, I'm going back to bed now because it's almost 2:30am. I thought I heard a bear on the deck, so I got up to check it out. No bear. It was probably just Rick's CPAP machine waking me up. Anyway, I hope you have a great day -- now go eat some fudge!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Nature Photo Day!

Today is the 4th annual Nature Photography Day. I love photography, but by no means am I an expert. Most of my good shots are just a matter of luck and being in the right place at the right time. One of these days I'll focus more on learning the ins and outs of photography. Nature photography is my biggest interest -- I love taking pictures of wildlife, landscapes, flowers, trees, water, clouds, etc. Getting good pictures is pretty easy here in Montana because so much of it is still wilderness and untouched. Plus, when I travel, I usually go to national parks and the beauty speaks for itself.

Check out this link of the North American Nature Photography Association on how you can get your photograph published in their bi-monthly magazine, Ripples. It's not a contest and all photographs will be published. The catch is that the photo has to be taken today, June 15th. I know I'm posting this late. Grab your camera, run outside and take a picture -- quick! The link has some fun ideas on taking nature pictures, such as ...

Photograph an object so small that it's often overlooked, like this.
Photograph something that detracts from nature, like this.

Other ideas include photographing the same thing every June 15th. I'm looking through my photo files right now and saw that I took this butterfly picture last year. So, my goal for June 15th is going to try to photograph a butterfly every year on this day. You can also give your children or grandchild a disposable camera and take them on a nature walk. Later, get their pictures developed and put them in a frame or some sort of scrapbook. You could also make a placemat with this pictures and laminate it. Lots of fun ideas, so get outside and look for them. What interesting things can you find around home? Okay, I have to go now -- I'm off to find a butterfly!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Dilly is here!

Yesterday was very exciting because my book order finally arrived. All this week I've heard people talk about A New Job for Dilly and how much their kids enjoy it. Yesterday I got to see it and hold it in my hands for the very first time -- talk about a surreal feeling!

I have orders to send out, which also means I have autographs to do. It's funny because you don't think about autographs much until it's time to do one. My husband was making fun of me for practicing mine yesterday. Then when I asked him what I should write, he made fun of me even more. It does seem silly, and I'm sure it seems even more so to a non-writer. However, the last thing I want to do is mess one of the books up, so it's kind of a big deal. Anyway, there I was, practicing my autograph, when Rick goes, "Are you going to use that pen? You can't use that pen!" For someone who thought this wasn't a big deal, now he's starting to see it differently. Rick signs his name all day long at work, so it's natural to him. His signature is like a doctor -- you see an R, but that's about all you can make of it. The only time I ever write my name is when I go to the doctor and write a check for a co-pay. With everything being electronic these days, I hardly write checks anymore. So yeah, I feel like an idiot practicing my autograph, but that's okay because everyone has to start somewhere.

So, now I have this big stack of Dilly books sitting on the table next to me. I can almost hearing them chanting, "Sell us! Sell us!" Now the pressure is on. Some of these books are going to my family, but the rest are to sell. The book is available through my publisher and it's also up on bookseller sites online. However, if it's ordered through my website, I'll be able to autograph it for people personally. That is, as soon as I'm actually brave enough to write in one! I'm just kidding, of course. I plan to get those orders out first thing tomorrow morning!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Great Falls

Here is a little Montana history -- on this day in 1805, during the Lewis & Clark Expedition, Meriwether Lewis and four of his companions discovered the Great Falls of the Missouri River. I was there 2 years ago for a homeschool convention. We only had time to see the falls from a distance because I had my conference to go to, but what we saw was really pretty. The waterfalls aren't incredibly high, but they were important because they marked the limit of where boats could be navigated through the river.

This is Black Eagle Falls in the picture above. It's right in downtown Great Falls, Montana. You can see the dam, the powerlines, and the bridges. Can you imagine what it looked like when Lewis came across it? Man, it must have been a spectacular sight in its pure, untouched form. Just down the road from Black Eagle Falls is Giant Springs State Park. We stopped to visit here for awhile and it was absolutely beautiful. There were 2 baby owl chicks in one of the trees and we got some wonderful pictures. This park is also home to the Roe River -- the shortest river in the world at only 201 feet. Giant Spring flows 156 million gallons of water each day and the water temperature stays at 54 degrees. There's also a fish hatchery nearby, which my boys enjoyed. While I was at my conference, Rick and the boys did some fishing in the river and had a great time. Giant Springs is pictured below.

Great Falls is one of the few big cities in Montana. It's fun for me because I'm used to huge cities like Los Angeles or San Diego. Obviously, the city got its name from the waterfalls. If you click on the link, you'll see that quite a few famous people live and lived in this area. Several movies have been film there as well. It's interesting how these waterfalls right in the middle of the city. They just built the city around them. I can only imagine how beautiful the area was when Lewis and his companions first saw it. It must have been absolutely breathtaking 204 years ago.

On another note -- Nicole left early this morning for a missions trip with our church. The youth group is heading up to Vancouver, Canada, where they will participate in a week-long outreach program. If you could please keep her in your thoughts & prayers, I would appreciate it. It's a strange feeling having both of the girls gone. Poor Kitty is going to be beside herself for awhile. She usually hangs out with Nichelle, but with her in Maui, she's been hanging out in Nicole's room. Now Nicole is gone, so I'm not sure what Kitty will do. Regardless, I know Nicole will have a great experience. Nichelle took this same trip a year ago and loved it.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Raggedy Ann & Andy

Today is Raggedy Ann & Andy Day! Did you ever have these little rag dolls? When I was little, I was really into dolls. I loved Barbies, Mrs. Beasley, Chrissy, and others. I have an old black & white picture of me on my 2nd birthday with a doll that came with rollerskates. Dolls were a big part of my life as a child. I remember going through a phase where I played with Raggedy Ann & Andy also. They were simple -- didn't have rollerskates, little eyeglasses, didn't talk, and their hair didn't get longer -- but they were fun. And now, of course, they're classics.

Johnny Gruelle came up with Raggedy Ann in 1915 when his daughter, Marcella, brought him an old rag doll. He drew a face on her and came up with the name Raggedy Ann. The book was introduced in 1918 and the doll was marketed successfully with it. Marcella died when she was only 13 years old, after being vaccinated for smallpox. The doctors believed her death was caused from a heart defect, but her parents blamed the vaccine. Johnny Gruelle became an advocate against vaccinations and used the Raggedy Ann doll to promote the movement.

Raggedy Ann & Andy were not only featured in a series of books, but they also starred in comics and television shows. They were featured in South Park, though probably not in a light Mr. Gruelle would have been too pleased about. In the Who Framed Roger Rabbit short film, Tummy Trouble, Raggedy Ann is one of the dolls in Baby Herman's room. Simon & Schuster and Hasbro claim to own the rights to the Raggedy Ann & Andy name. However, the original 1915 doll and the 1918 and 1920 books are in the public domain because of expired contracts. In 2002, Raggedy Ann was introduced into the National Toy Hall of Fame -- Andy joined her in 2007. The Raggedy Ann & Andy Museum is in Illinois and is the only official licensed museum for the dolls in the world.

My Raggedy Ann & Andy dolls are long gone, but they looked exactly like the ones in this picture. I don't know what happened to them. But over the years, and thanks to places like ebay, I have been able to get ahold of some of my old childhood toys again, like Mrs. Beasley and Chrissy. Raggedy Ann & Andy are still around and after reading about their history, I'm itching to buy a set again. I don't know why -- nostalgia, I guess.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Where's my cup?

Today's going to be a long day. At 4am, I was wide awake. I got up for a cup of milk and then tried to go back to sleep. I don't know why I even bothered because I tossed and turned until after 6am. I figured I'd get up when Rick did and work on the computer for a bit. But of course, as soon as Rick got up, I fell into my deepest REM sleep, had a zillion dreams, and am now feeling like a zombie. Would you be surprised to know I took the bird feeder outside before my eyes could even focus, so the squirrel didn't get mad at me? Yep -- it's gonna be a long day, but at least Nips is happy!

So, how do you wake up? For me, it's a hot cup of coffee. I've been drinking coffee since I was nine. I know that sounds pathetic, but my mom was a nurse and worked all hours of the day and night, so coffee was a big deal in our house. My sister used to take me to school and sometimes her friends would ask her to go to Carrows or the bowling alley for coffee before school. Most of the time they ended up staying too long and ditching class. I just went along and got on the coffee bandwagon pretty early.

Since Rick leaves at 6am and I might as well be dead at that hour, we make our coffee the night before and set the timer. We used to buy Starbucks, but it's gotten so darn expensive at $7 for one of those little bags, so now we buy Colombian beans from Costco. They sell big 3-pound bags for about $11 and it's just as good. Coffee and camping have always been one of my favorite combos. Back when we tent camped, we had the little percolator type pot that we put over the fire. Hearing it gurgle always reminded me of my grandparents, who used to perc their coffee. Now that we camp in an RV, we have a mini coffee maker, so it's not a fun, but at least the smell is there. I LOVE the smell of coffee brewing first thing in the morning. When we dry camp (with no power hook-ups), we use a French press. I love that, but I'm worried it's going to break in the trailer with all the bumping around it does.

I've never been fond of instant coffee, but after awhile, my grandparents starting drinking it. I remember seeing jars of Taster's Choice on their counter. The only instant coffee I've really liked were the General Foods International Coffees. I love the Cafe Francais one. The other day I bought a jar of instant espresso by the Medaglia D'oro brand. I bought it to use in shakes, but we took it on one of our camping trips and Rick and I were both surprised how good it was. We just made it as coffee, not espresso, but it's decent as far as instant goes. Regardless, nothing is better than grinding your own beans. Huckleberry flavored coffee is awesome and so is cherry. Bigfork is just about to launch into cherry season, so I'm sure I'll be scouting around for a bag of cherry coffee. It's wonderful! Now that I've had my first cup, I can actually see a little better. You wouldn't believe how many typos I made above. I must be more tired than I thought.

In other news -- I'm organizing a book blog tour for A New Job for Dilly during the week of June 21st to June 27th. I've participated in a couple of blog tours and have had a lot of fun, so I hope mine is fun for everyone. I will be offering some sort of prize for people who take the time to follow the tour and leave comments. I'll post details as soon as I hear back from everyone that I asked to participate. I hope all of you will join us and check out the other blogs while Dilly travels around the country via the Internet. Thanks so much to all of you who have bought the book from 4RV Publishing, me, and Amazon. And thanks to everyone for their comments. Sharon posted last night that her son took the book to school and read it to his class. That just made my night! Also, in case you don't know, there is a PDF of fun activities for kids to do after reading the book. It's on the "Links" page on my website. Feel free to print those up for your kids!

Also -- Christina Farley is having a contest on her blog, Chocolate for Inspiration, that goes with an interview she did with Korean illustrator Min jae Shin. All you have to do is leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Sty For Sale and a rice paper fan from Korea. Check it out! And finally, (I'm full of news today!) we heard from Nichelle last night. It was via IM and only for a few minutes because other kids needed to get on the computer. She's having a great time in Maui, but said she misses home. She's been gone a week today, but it feels like a lifetime. At least we know she's well and enjoying her discipleship training, so that's a big relief. Well, I think that's it for today. Off for that second cup ...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Judy Garland

Today is Judy Garland's birthday. If she were alive today, she would be 87 years old. Sadly, she died in 1969 from an accidental drug overdose. She was only 47. I'm not a huge fan, but I did grow up watching some of her films, including the infamous Wizard of Oz. Despite her success with fame, Judy had a difficult life. Here are some interesting facts about her ...

  • Judy's real name was Frances Ethel Gumm
  • She worked 45 of her 47 years
  • Her first performance was singing Jingle Bells when she was 2
  • Judy was 16 when she filmed the Wizard of Oz
  • She was only 4 feet, 11.5 inches tall
  • In films, Judy was forced to wear rubber disks to reshape her nose
  • She was insecure about her appearance and weight
  • Judy suffered nervous breakdowns and migraine headaches
  • She attempted suicide several times
  • Judy was married 5 times, 4 ending in divorce
  • She died in London in 1969
  • 20,000 people lined up to view her body at the funeral home
  • Judy left behind 3 children -- Liza Minnelli, Joey and Lorna Luft
In addition, Judy Garland is listed #8 of the greatest female stars of all time by the American Film Institute. She left behind an amazing legacy with her films, television performances, stage shows, music, and awards. When I think of Judy Garland, my first thought goes to the Wizard of Oz. Her song, Over The Rainbow is ranked as the #1 movie song of all time. That's impressive! Another one of my favorite songs by Judy is The Trolley Song. It was ranked #26 and it's from the film, Meet Me In St. Louis ...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Dilly is here!

I had quite a surprise yesterday when I visited my Facebook page. Several people had written on my profile wall saying things like, "Guess what came in the mail today?" and "I got your book today!" and "I got my Dilly book!" My friend Nancy even called me to let me know her copy had just come in the mail. She was skimming through it while still on the phone when her husband grabbed it to look at it. Talk about a thrill! Then later in the evening, several people left comments that they had read the book to their kids and how much they liked it. The funny thing is, I still haven't seen the actual book, only the PDFs. I ordered some books for myself and they were mailed yesterday. My wonderful publisher, Vivian Zabel was able to get the pre-orders out last Friday. I'm thrilled people are enjoying it already.

A New Job for Dilly can be ordered from me. If you click on the link or the cover on the right, it takes you directly to my website. If you use PayPal, there's a box for special instructions. If you'd like the book autographed, please let me know who to make it out to. I will mail out any orders I get as soon as my books come in, which should be in a few days. I'm so excited to see them and so are my kids. When I told the boys, they both said, "Dilly's really published, for real?" They're just as excited as I am. I can't wait to autograph a book for each of my children -- the ultimate thrill. The book is also available through 4RV Publishing, LLC and on Amazon. And as always, you can get the ISBN numbers and order it through any bookseller. But in the meantime, I will have extra copies to sell, so if you get them from me I can sign them for you. Also, if you visit the links page on my website, there's a PDF of fun activities you can download for your kids to do after they've read the book. Lisa Oakman did a beautiful job bringing Dilly to life.

I tell you -- this is a surreal feeling for me. It's a day I've been waiting for. Seeing people's comments made my night last night. My friend Joy said she read it 3 times and that her daughter was asking to read it in her preschool class. Sybil's son said he'd love a stuffed Dilly holding a pickle and thought it would be fun if Dilly did a number book. Sharon's son said it was clever how it was an alphabet book. And of course, when my boys dream, they dream big and are hoping for it to be made into animated movie, complete with soundtrack -- gotta love them! It's just an incredible feeling for me. Now that I have my website updated, I'm going to set up a book blog tour. I'll be contacting some of my blogging friends to see if they'd like to participate in that soon. It's funny to think that a camping trip to a national park could inspire me to write a children's story, which lead to where I am today. I'm so excited I could scream. I feel like Steve Martin in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels when he runs around banging on pots yelling, "Oklahoma! Oklahoma! Oklahoma!" Do you know what's really funny about that? My publisher is from Oklahoma! Pinch me ...

Monday, June 8, 2009

We're back!

Hi -- we're back from our camping trip. It was a quick one, only 2 nights, but that's long enough when we're dry camping. Our trailer's battery lasts only so long, so 2-3 nights is about all we'll do without hook-ups. We stayed in Fish Creek Campground inside Glacier National Park. We had a nice spot, but it was really wooded, so the campsite was pretty chilly most of the time. As we left today we found a perfect spot to go to next time. At least we were able to pull our kayaks from the site to the lake, so that worked out.

We thought the weather would be cold and rainy, but we lucked out. Saturday night was pretty chilly, but the sky was clear on Sunday. I went out in the kayak early Sunday morning and Lake McDonald was smooth as glass. There wasn't a speck of wind either. We decided to take the boys out for a kayak ride while the weather was still nice. We found the coolest little beach area. We played there for awhile and then went back to the campsite for lunch. By then the weather was still really nice, so we changed into swimsuits and headed back, hoping the beach would still be empty. It was and we spent a few more hours there. The water is still really cold, but that didn't stop the boys from wading around in it and having fun.

Poor Rick -- yesterday morning he was going nuts because he couldn't find his iPod. We were heading back out to the little beach area and he wanted to take it with him. I had already gotten in my boat with Neil, so we were floating around waiting for him. He was taking a long time, and it turns out he was going crazy trying to find it. He looked everywhere in the trailer, in the van, even in the campsite. He never did find it and got in his boat all ticked off. Hours later, he was picking up stuff from the kayak trip when he found his iPod. Guess where it was -- in MY life jacket! I had it the entire time. The thing is, Sunday morning Rick took one of the boats out to go fishing. He had his iPod in his vest. I met him down at the water later and I got in the the kayak and put on his life jacket. So when we all went out later on, that was the vest I still had. Funny how you can't feel what's in your pockets of a PFD. He had been flipping out, thinking he'd lost it or someone stole it, when I had it the entire time. I, of course, thought it was hilarious, but he wasn't too thrilled. At least he found it -- eventually!

Anyway, it was a fun trip, especially since it's so close to home. Our site was nice, but now that we found a better one, I'm sure we'll go back. This campground would be ideal if they had at least electric & water hook-ups, but they don't. At least Rick has a battery-operated CPAP machine now, so being able to dry camp is an option for us. With Rick off Saturday-Monday, I'm hoping we can make another trip up there in the near future. I've made a slide show of some of the pictures I took. As you can see, GI Joe and Tony Hawk (sans hands) had a good time too! Ironically, the osprey taking off in the last one was taken right on our road as we were leaving to go on the trip. I hope you like seeing the pictures.

ALSO -- My publisher has received the final copies of A New Job for Dilly and was going to be mailing my order to me today. So technically, Dilly is OUT NOW and available through 4RV Publishing, LLC and me. I can't wait to see the book in its final stage! If you've pre-ordered it, expect your copy soon. If you'd like to order it from me, email me and I'll get the details out to you ASAP. DILLY is finally here -- I need to grab a pickle to celebrate!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Roughing it?

Camping -- do you love it or hate it? It seems for most people, there's no in between when it comes to how they feel about camping. I love it. I've camped since I was a baby. My first trip away from home was to Sequoia NP when I was 2 months old. Of course, I don't remember it, but maybe it's the reason I love national parks so much. My parents loved to camp. After my dad died, my mom continued to take us on camping trips. They were usually local places, but I remember having a lot of fun.

When Rick & I first started dating, we went camping a lot. It was one way to get out of the house. I remember going to Kmart with Rick one time and between the two of us, we split the cost of all our camping gear. We were really into it for a long time. Then we stopped going so much when we had the girls. I'll never forget our first camping trip with them. They were tiny. We only spent one night, but it renewed our interest in camping. We soon bought a pop-up tent trailer and that was like a luxury after tent camping all our lives. Then we moved to a 24' travel trailer. We now have a 28' trailer, which is the one pictured here. On the left you can see the queen bed slide-out. On the right you see 2 small windows (the storage flap is up here, so that looks a little funky). Those are bunk beds. There's 4 bunks all together, so the kids have their own little room. It also has a full bath, slide-out couch, and dining area. It's hardly roughing it when you have a bathtub, TV, VCR, microwave, and everything else. Maybe that's why I like it so much.

I have to admit, I miss tent camping. There's just something fun about that for me. Up here, it's a different story with bears though, so I don't know if I'm ready to do the tent thing again. I really miss the pop-up tent trailer too. We could fit that thing into any spot and even move it around by hand if we had to. We can't do that with the one we have now and we're limited to places that accommodate larger units. Camping on the beach was a blast in the pop-up, so I really miss being able to do that. But having a larger unit is fun too, especially when the weather gets bad. It's so cool to lie in bed and listen to rain hit the metal roof. I'm not sure if we'll ever go the full motorhome route. For now, the trailer is more practical with the kids. And it's nice to be able to unhook the van and leave the trailer in the site while we run around. I used to love taking the trailer to Las Vegas. The RV parks are really nice. Most people at RV parks are really nice, for that matter. It's definitely a different scene than a traditional tent campground.

We're going camping this weekend and will be leaving in a little while. We're going to Glacier NP again. We went to the east side of the park last weekend, which is 2.5 hours away, but today we're going to the west side. It's only an hour away. It's the area that we go up on weekends to kayak. The news said to expect rain, but with the trailer, that's no big deal. We'll take the kayaks anyway and just play it by ear. We've never camped in this particular area of the park, but we've visited the picnic site many times. The boys are really excited. I won't have Internet access, so I won't be back on my blog until Monday. Maybe I'll find something cool to photograph.

So, how do you feel about camping -- love it or hate it?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Mmmm ... donuts!

Donut Day is the first Friday in June. This holiday was established in 1938 by the Salvation Army. During WWI in 1917, Salvation Army workers went to France and set up a tent to make donuts for the soldiers. You can read all about it here, as well as get the original recipe they used. Though the Salvation Army doesn't take credit for inventing the donut, they're the ones that made it a popular item. Donuts are enjoyed all over the world!

I love donuts, but I don't eat them very often. My favorite as a child were the chocolate cake donuts, frosted with sprinkles. I also liked raspberry-filled jelly donuts. Nowadays, if I am to get a donut, it's usually a plain, glazed Krispy Kreme or some sort of maple bar. My absolute favorite is the KK creme-filled ones. Everyone in my family likes donuts except for Nicole -- she's never liked them. We have a standing joke in our family when we go on vacation in our travel trailer. We usually leave early in the morning, when suddenly Rick says, "Doooooonuts!" in the voice of Homer Simpson. Everyone is usually pretty quiet that early in the morning, so this always makes us laugh. And it's tradition to stop for donuts somewhere soon after.

Donuts have an interesting history. I know Wiki isn't always accurate, but there's a lot of information on donuts if you click here. There's a ton of information about donuts in other countries, which is kind of fun to read about. The bad news for me is that I don't have any donuts in the house and I'm not planning on going anywhere today. The good news is that we're camping this weekend up in Glacier and we'll be stopping at the store on our way out of town. Technically, Donut Day lasts 2 days, so tomorrow's still good! If you like donuts -- what is your favorite kind of donut?

On another note -- Rick & I want to thank each of you who responded to my posts about Nichelle leaving, both here and on my Facebook page. Your replies brought tears to our eyes many times. Nichelle got to read most of them before leaving. She finally touched down in Maui at 5:30pm last night. She's on HST (Hawaii-Aleutian Standard Time), which is 4 hours before us on MST (Mountain Standard Time), so it was 9:30pm for us when she landed. She got there safe & sound and was waiting to pick up her luggage. Thank you so much for your comments, thoughts and prayers. I will keep you updated on her adventures as I hear more. So anyway, what are you waiting for? Go get yourself a donut -- mmm!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

She's on her way ...

We had to get up around 3am this morning in order to leave the house by 4am. Nichelle's flight wasn't until 6am, but the airport is about an hour away and we had to be there an hour early. Needless to say, it's been a long day and it's not even noon yet. I barely got 3 hours of sleep, but I still think I got more than Nichelle and Rick did combined. They both tossed & turned all night. We waited for her plane to take off before we left the airport. She flew into Salt Lake City, UT and then changed planes for Seattle, WA. She should just about now be boarding her plane in Seattle that will take her to Maui. She's going to be exhausted when she gets there. It's hard to believe my baby is now 19 years old and on her way to Hawaii all by herself. She's gone from a sweet, curly headed little girl like this ...

To a beautiful, young woman like this ...

I did okay at the airport when we hugged and said goodbye. I got a little choked up afterwards when we stopped for gas and I looked through my pictures on my camera. Then after we got home, I told Neil we could send letters and stuff to Nichelle while she was gone. He ran downstairs and was back up again moments later with this ...

Yep, that did it for me -- I miss her already -- SNIFF!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Nichelle's Journey ...

Tomorrow is a big day for us -- our oldest daughter, Nichelle, leaves for her discipleship training in Youth With A Mission. She'll be training in Maui for the first 3 months, followed by another 3 months of service in SE Asia. We still don't know exactly where in Asia she will be going. She'll fly directly from Hawaii to Asia, so she won't be home until November.

This is a bittersweet thing for me as a mom. I think about the things she's going to miss like Father's Day, the 4th of July, her dad's and brother's birthday, her sister leaving for college, even sharing her own birthday with us. Then I think about all the experiences she's going to have on this adventure. She will definitely grow as a person. Her life will be changed and I'm sure she'll have an impact on other people's lives as well.

Most of us have heard those voices telling us to do something -- something that could change our life and the lives of others -- but few actually follow through with them. I am so proud of Nichelle for taking this path. It takes a special person to do something like this, especially in the world today. This is a huge deal for Nichelle and there's no way she won't come home a changed person -- and for the better, I'm sure.

Being a parent is weird. I still see Nichelle as this little curly headed girl, bouncing happily around the house, without a care in the world. Then I see this lovely, young woman, driving off in my car to go see a movie with friends. It's hard not to say, "Who are you and what have you done with my little girl?" No parenting book or magazine prepares you for that -- none.

We're going to miss Nichelle. We're going to worry about her. We're going to pray for her training, her experiences, and for her safe journey back home. She leaves tomorrow at 6am and probably won't have access to the Internet for awhile. If you have any comments for Nichelle, please leave them here and I'll make sure she sees them before she leaves. Also, if you could keep her in your thoughts and/or prayers as she embarks on this journey, I would appreciate it more than anything. Thank you.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Fish Tales!

Hi everyone -- I've missed blogging for the past 2 days, so it's good to be back. Saturday we went kayaking in Glacier for the day. Then, just out of the blue after church on Sunday I said, "Let's go camping!" So, we took a total spur of the moment trip back up to the park for the night. We drove a little farther to the other side of the park to Two Medicine campground. It's about 2-1/2 hours away, unlike the usual hour to the other place we usually go. Rick has 3-day weekends off, so it worked out well.

We got settled in our campsite and then put the kayaks in right away to take advantage of the calm waters while it was still light. One thing I'll never get used to is how light it is in Montana in the spring and summer months. It doesn't get dark here until 10pm and it gets light again around 5am. In July it's even stranger when it stays light until 11pm. Anyway, as soon as Nathan threw out his first cast, he got a nibble. Pretty soon he was pulling up his very first rainbow trout! He's caught fish before, but never a trout, and never one this big. He was so excited! It gave him quite a fight and jumped out of the water 3 times. He decided to release it, but not before getting a few pictures. He's still talking about it! We had a good night doing all the usual camping things -- BBQing dinner, cooking S'mores, and sitting by the campfire. After we finally went to bed, the wind really picked up. It was so bad that our trailer was shaking. The next morning we noticed all the tent campers had packed up and left because it was so bad. We have a 26' travel trailer though, so we were fine.

It was just a one night thing, and very spur of the moment, but it was fun. It was a good trip to see how everything was working in the trailer after being in storage for the winter. I'm hoping we can go back again either next weekend or the one after that, and maybe for a couple of nights this time. Two Medicine campground just opened up about a week ago. Up until then, they still had a lot of snow on the ground. It's on the east side of Glacier National Park. Usually when we go up for the day, we go to the west side. The Continental Divide separates the two sides, so the weather differences can be like night and day. Two Medicine has special meaning to me because this is the campground that inspired me to write my very first children's story, Manny the Mountain Goat. If it weren't for this campground, I might never have gotten interested in writing stories for kids, so it's probably my favorite campground in the entire park. I hope we can go back next weekend!