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I can’t remember where I first read about this book, but I do know that I bought it sight unseen based upon an interview with the author (social media works!).  Being a complete sucker for miraculous dog stories with happy endings, I couldn’t resist.  Plus, this is the author’s debut picture book, and I always like to support new authors.

Little Dog Lost: The True Story of a Brave Dog Named Baltic
Written and illustrated by Monica Carnesi
Nancy Paulsen Books, January, 2012
Suitable for:  Ages 3 and up
Themes/Topics:  Animals, Dogs, Survival Stories, Friendship, Helping Others, Rescue, Bravery
Opening and brief synopsis: From the jacket copy: On a cold winter day, a curious dog wanders onto a frozen river.  Suddenly, the ice starts breaking up, and soon the dog is adrift and traveling–the unwilling passenger on a fast-moving sheet of ice.
Activities: This is a brand new book, so there isn’t much out there yet.  The author, however, has an adorable downloadable Baltic paper doll on her website.  I’m sure it would be fun for kids to act out his journey on the ice.
Why I Like This Book: It’s an incredible story of survival, rescue, bravery and friendship.  Oh, and the main character is an adorable dog.  What’s not to love?
For its sheer adorableness, here is a video of the real Baltic, who did end up being adopted by the crew who saved him.

For more books with resources please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog and find the tab for Perfect Picture Books!

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Me (channeling Cruella) and my French Poodle

It was a big week in the Hedlund house.  Em performed in her very first musical – 101 Dalmations.  She was amazing in her role and most importantly, had a blast!  Her enthusiasm was infectious, and we are so proud of her.  Not only that, but after the show I had just enough time to take off her makeup, get her changed and take her to play in her first basketball game of the season.  Even though she must have been tired, she played her little heart out.  Yes, kids can definitely teach us something about joy and commitment.  She loved every minute of both, and to say that I am grateful to have her as my daughter would be an epic understatement.  Without further adieu, here’s the list for the week.

Quotes on Gratitude

“Even after all this time,
The sun never says to the earth,
“You owe me.”
Look what happens with
A love like that.
It lights the whole sky.” — Hafiz of Persia

“The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.” — William James

“The easiest way I have found to humble myself back into a state of peaceful grace is through the act of gratitude.” — Jill Bolte Taylor

Gratitude list for the week ending November 12

  1. Em in her play! Such a treat to see all their hard work come together in an amazing performance.
  2. Jay coming up behind Em after the play, giving her a big hug and saying, “You were so great!”
  3. The Girls Leadership Institute, which is running a month-long program at Em’s school for 2nd and 3rd graders, teaching them how to be strong, stand up and speak up for themselves and others.  It’s a mother-daughter program, and I’m learning as much as she is!
  4. My oldest nephew won first place in the Varsity debate tournament and he’s only a freshman!  He’s a chip off the old block (my brother) and his old block (my father)
  5. Is there anything as precious as a newborn baby's feet?

    There isn’t much good news coming out of Greece these days, but a close friend of mine became an uncle last Sunday when his sister gave birth to a little boy – Kostakis.  There is nothing like a brand new life to remind you of what really matters.

  6. Warm enough weather to take two outdoor runs this week.
  7. Take-out food – it’s what kept us alive during this very busy week!
  8. The Margareaders (my book club). We had a great discussion about Unbroken at our meeting this week. I’ve never failed to have a blast at our meetings.
  9. Watching the gorgeous full moon rising on the horizon.
  10. Rocky made friends with two of the sheep that live behind our yard.  It’s so fun to watch them interact.  Now he is trying to dig a hole underneath the fence to reach his new friends.  The llamas, however, are still the mortal enemy. 🙂

    The presence of a fence and a difference in species poses no barrier to true friendship

What are you grateful for this week?

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Time for this week’s Gratitude Sunday post.

Quotes on Gratitude

“The point is not to pay back kindness but to pass it on.” — Julia Alvarez

“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.” — John Milton

“I have had friends who have acted kindly towards me, and it has been my good fortune to have it in my power to give them substantial proofs of my gratitude.” — Giacomo Casanova

Gratitude List for the week ending November 5

  1. Phil helped me create a complex (at least to me) spreadsheet for a business plan.
  2. Watching Rocky romp around in the virgin snow in the field near our house.  I doubt there is a creature on earth who loves the snow as much as he does.
  3. Likewise, watching two dogs at the dog park play tug of war with a rope.  It is hard not to smile while watching dogs play.
  4. A Happy Halloween with perfect weather.  It was the warmest Halloween evening since we moved to Colorado.  No coats and long underwear underneath the costumes this year!
  5. The blogging/writing community – friends from PiBoIdMo, Writer’s Platform-Building Campaign, WANA 1011, Creative Leap Club, my critique group partners, etc.
  6. The kids enjoyed their first week of basketball season.
  7. I was the “Mystery Reader” in Em’s class on Friday. How I love reading to a group of eager kids. Can’t wait to do that with one of my own books one day.  I read, Blackie, The Horse Who Stood Still – one of our favorites.  None of the other kids had ever heard the (true!) story before, so that made it even more fun.
  8. Reading in front of the first fire of the season.
  9. Flannel pajamas
  10. Getting a few more queries sent out.

What are you grateful for this week?

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National Pet Week

I just learned that May 1-7 is National Pet Week.  This year’s theme?  Adopt a Pet.  We did just that a year and a half ago, and got our beloved Rocky.  He’s put is through many a ringer since then, but tonight as he curled up on the loveseat (all 75 lbs of him) between me and my husband, I have to say it has all been more than worth it.  I had the same thought last night as he fell asleep next to my daughter’s bed, curled up with her stuffed pink poodle.  If nothing else, he’s brought an endless stream of funny (in retrospect) stories to our lives.  To wit:

Today I took him for a short run along Boulder Creek.  Rocky is not water dog.  I’ve tried to entice him to swim, but never with success.  At the end of the run, I took him down to the creek and was surprised that he went right in – just up to his doggie “knees.”  Then he slipped on a rock and fell chest-deep.  He came right back to shore.  I walked him a ways further down the creek and found a flat rock where, if he went in, he’d likely be over his head and I could finally see him swim.  I got him on the rock, intending to nudge him in sideways, but he leaned down as if to sniff the water.  He quickly lost purchase on the flat rock and went into the water – nose first with his hind paws flapping briefly in the air before surrendering to full submersion.  He emerged shortly thereafter, climbed out and pulled me for dear life away from the river bank.  Doggie swim = FAIL.

Oh, and last week my mother stopped by for a few minutes, petted Rocky and asked him, “Have you been a good boy today?”  I said, “NO, he has NOT been a good boy today.”  Immediately after I said it, he barfed on the kitchen floor.

If you want more of Rocky’s escapades, check out these posts:

The Easter Hound

Head Injuries and Hand Grenades

Rocky in the Rocky Mountains, by Em

The Day the Dog Came Back

When Life Throws You Hard-Boiled Eyeballs (you have to read halfway down to get to the part about Rocky)

Et tu, Brute?

Dog Daze

Leave a Tender Moment Alone

Baby Dog, My Baby Dog

But then look at this face.  I ask you, could you resist?

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The Easter Hound

Maybe not the Easter Beagle, but adorable nonetheless.  Rocky’s doggie daycare center did an Easter Egg hunt on Thursday.  The dogs “hunted” for plastic eggs filled with dog treats.  Rocky won a ribbon for finding the most eggs.  Happy Easter everyone!

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Another week, another Gratitude Sunday…

Quotes on Gratitude

“Don’t waste yourself in rejection, nor bark against the bad, but chant the beauty of the good.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” — Abraham Lincoln

“I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.” — Laura Ingalls Wilder

Gratitude List for the week ending March 26

  1. Making it to the semi-finals of Brenda Drake’s Show Me the Voice Blogfest.  Here is a picture of my celebratory cork. 
  2. Enjoying Spring Break skiing – last week of the season for us.
  3. Warm, sunny days on the slopes
  4. The time to READ!
  5. Taking the kids to see the movie Rango.
  6. Kids, dog and father reunited after he was gone for a four-day business trip
  7. Family game night
  8. Stella, the Golden Retriever puppy we met at the vet’s office here in Keystone (don’t ask!)
  9. The smell of the earth under melting snow
  10. Homemade Chex Mix 🙂

What are you grateful for this week?

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Gratitude Sunday has been on hiatus for a while, thanks to a deadly January.  I knew I was missing it, but I didn’t realize how much until I sat down to write it this morning.  So I’m grateful to have Gratitude Sunday back!  Our past few weekends have been defined by skiing and frolicking up at Keystone.  Talk about lucky!  In my youth, growing up in Michigan, I skied every weekend.  After living in the D.C. area for so long and then having babies and toddlers in tow, I wondered if that lifestyle would ever be a reality again.  With the kids 8 and 5 and loving skiing, it now seems like it might finally work as a regular weekend family activity.  Yay!

Quotes on Gratitude

“A person however learned and qualified in his life’s work in whom gratitude is absent, is devoid of that beauty of character which makes personality fragrant.” — Hazrat Inayat Khan

“Learn everything you can, anytime you can, from anyone you can – there will always come a time when you will be grateful you did.” — Sarah Caldwell

“Gratitude… goes beyond the “mine” and “thine” and claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift.  In the past I always thought of gratitude as a spontaneous response to the awareness of gifts received, but now I realize that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline.  The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.” — Henri J. M. Nouwen

Gratitude list for the week ending February 5

  1. Another fabulous weekend at Keystone, complete with 2 feet of fresh powder for skiing!
  2. The friends who are sharing their Keystone condo with us for the season.  It has been such a blessing to share skiing and winter adventures with the kids.
  3. Riding a real chairlift and skiing down actual mountain slopes as a whole family (5 year-old finally off the bunny hill).
  4. Watching Rocky run in the snowy field outside the condo.  Such unadulterated joy you have never seen in a dog!
  5. My SCBWI mentor, Linda Arms White, who in offering some final feedback on one of my WIPs, has enabled me to declare it FINISHED.  I begin the query/submission process this week.
  6. A full day of uninterrupted writing at Keystone, which led to the finishing of said WIP.
  7. Frito Pie for dinner after a long, cold day of skiing.
  8. My Padraig Cottage slippers. How cold my feet would be without them
  9. My kids playing endless Kung Fu pretend games after watching Kung Fu Panda
  10. Fresh oranges and grapefruit, sent directly to us from Florida. Nothing like grapefruit juice dripping down your chin in the morning.

Me at the Terrain Park - Just kidding!

What are you grateful for this week?

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Okay so there are no hand grenades in this story, but it makes a good title, no?

First of all, Happy New Year!  I hope you have all had a wonderful holiday season so far.  Although I’d said I would be a bit absentee from the blog over the holidays, I didn’t mean to disappear altogether.  But fate decided to make an appearance.

On the night of the solstice, December 21st, I had a friend and her young son over to celebrate with dinner, a fire, lots of candles, a few glasses of wine (for the grownups) and general merriment.  She stayed with the kids while I took Rocky for a walk in an open field near our house.  I took a flashlight.  Flashlights make Rocky manic, so I try not to use it too often, but I did that night.  I must have been looking for him in the dark, and I assume he ran into me head-on.

I remember almost nothing of the following six hours, including the walk home, a trip to the ER, a CT scan and the fact that my husband, after talking to me, flew home from a business trip in Phoenix a day early.  Even when I did, “come to,” I asked many of the same questions over and over again, not remembering either the answer or the fact that I’d just asked the same question.  At about 3:00 in the morning, I asked my husband, “If I can’t remember anything, why did the hospital send me home?”  My husband responded, “Because you were asking too many questions.”  At last, a laugh!

I spent the entire next day in bed, confused, disoriented and scared.  Luckily, also mostly asleep.  I ached everywhere and found I had sprained my knee and twisted my shoulder somehow.  My chest and ribs hurt.  My brain felt too big for my skull.  Basically, it felt like the aftermath of a high-intensity workout and a terrible hangover combined.

Long story short, after a trip to a neurologist and a craniosacral therapist, I was on the road to recovery.  I am feeling much better now, if not 100 percent.  What took the longest to come back was the ability to read and write, which I’m sure you can imagine, was terrifying for me.  My life’s bread, butter and chocolate – not only gone but also not even appealing.  (If I normally comment on your blog and you haven’t heard from me in a while, now you know why.) Writing these words today feels like the best possible way to celebrate the new year.

I have missed a couple of Gratitude Sundays, so let me just say I’m grateful that my injuries were not worse and that I can expect to fully recover. I am grateful for my friend who took care of me, called my mother, wrote up a timeline of events (which turned out to be immensely helpful) and spent the night at my house so my mom could take me to the hospital.  I am beyond grateful for my incredible family and their support, not just during this time but at all times.  I am grateful for the peaceful and joyous Christmas we celebrated, and that my stepmother was able to join us for the first time.  I am grateful for the fabulous food we’ve eaten over the holidays and that we finally, FINALLY got some snow.  I am grateful for all of my friends, both real-life and virtual.  I am grateful that I get to look forward to another year of doing what I love.

Happiest and healthiest of New Years’ to you and yours!

What of the dog, you ask?  Well, I’m pretty sure he was trying to protect me from the evil “flashlight-from-the-devil.”  He would never, ever hurt anyone by choice.  Besides, how could you stay mad at a face like this?

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You may recall that our dog Rocky recently ruined a weekend away in the mountains by running away and not coming back for 16 hours.  Given the happy ending, Em and I decided it would make a good story to write about the day from Rocky’s perspective.  What did he do?  What was he thinking?  Did he encounter any animals?  What made him (eventually) come back?

Unfortunately, I’ve been too busy with other projects to get down to it, so Em took matters into her own hands and started writing it herself.  I’m sharing the first installment here with her permission.  I’ve kept the spelling exactly as she wrote it, but I did add a little punctuation here and there where it was critical.  Overall though, I wanted to keep it true to her and as pure as possible, so here goes – from my own budding writer:

Rocky in the Rocky Mountains (True Story)

book by “Em” Hedlund, dedacated to my sweet dog Rocky

Chapter One

Once upon a time a family calld the Hedlunds had the most magnifasent dog and let me tell you the mystery and miracle of this dog.  One day the Hedlunds were on a birthday trip for ther Grandma but what the Hedlunds diden’t know was somthing was abot to happen.  Well, the Hedlunds were waiting for ther dear mom to come back with the dog.  When she did come back the dog was gone!

Well, let’s go for the dog’s perspective.

Rocky: “OK, I say I diden’t run away.  I walked away.”

How’s that for a cliffhanger chapter ending?

The author and her real-life dog Rocky

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Yes, I do realize it is Wednesday.  I have never been this late posting Gratitude Sunday before, but I have a good reason.  Here’s what happened:

We decided to spend the weekend at a lovely cabin in the Pikes Peak wilderness area to celebrate my mom’s birthday.  Originally, we had planned to go to a hotel in Glenwood Springs, but our dog Rocky’s leg wound hadn’t completely healed, so I didn’t want to board him.  At the last minute, I found a cabin that allowed dogs and off we went.

Friday, 8:00 p.m.

The cabin boasted a magnificent view over the Continental Divide and we had a spectacular sunset.  After a jovial dinner of homemade lasagna and red wine (for the adults), we trundled off to bed.

Saturday, 2:00 a.m.

Jay wakes up suddenly with the barking seal cough indicative of croup with severe stridor.  Phil searches for the closest hospital while I put Jay in a steamy shower, wrap him up in blankets and sit with him outside.  Phil then drives one hour to the hospital.  Jay spends one hour in the emergency room being treated.  They drive one hour back.  I do not sleep a wink the whole time.  The sun is coming up by the time everyone is back in bed.

Saturday, 8:38 a.m.

I finally drag myself out of bed because Rocky is going ape in the cabin – barking, running around, whining.  He needs exercise.  I put on my running clothes and begrudgingly take him out in a, “Time to Make the Donuts” kind of way.  I have his e-collar on, which has a half-mile radius, so I decide to let him loose when we get to the trail.

Saturday, 9:00 a.m.

I see Rocky go off the trail to sniff something.  I pass by, go around a bend and call him.  Nothing.  I zap him on level 2.  Nothing.  I zap him on level 3.  Nothing.  I call and call.  Still nothing.  I repeat this process slowly back up the trail, even zapping on a full five.  Nothing.  Not even a single sound.  No barking, yelping, sound of an animal running.  It’s as if the earth has swallowed him whole.

Saturday, 9:30 a.m.

Luckily, the trail is also a two-track road, so I take Phil’s trusty truck and drive the length of it, certain that once Rocky hears the truck he’ll come running.  He does not.  Now I am very, very frightened.

Saturday, 10:30 a.m.

Repeat the process, this time dropping Phil off to walk the trail with binoculars.  I come back to the cabin and cry so hard I lose my breath.  We repeat the drive 2 more times.  No Rocky.

Saturday, 12:30 p.m.

Phil and Mom take the kids into town to have lunch and go to a museum so that we don’t all sit and stare at each other in misery.  I call every animal shelter and every animal control officer in three counties to report a lost dog.  I continue driving and walking the trail.  I cry.  A lot.  I feel immeasurable guilt that I have failed this sweet boy who has become a member of our family.  I imagine each and every horrible thing that could have happened or will happen to him.  I pray.  I even invoke my father for help, which I have only ever done twice before.  I guess it was one of those moments when you need your parents – both of them…

Saturday, 6:00 p.m.

The Cripple Creek Sheriff’s Department calls to say someone dropped off a dog at the town shelter that might match Rocky’s description.  Phil drives in with Em to find out.  We try very hard not to get our hopes up, but it’s impossible.  It’s the first shred of hope we’ve had all day.  My heart races; my hands shake.  I cannot sit still.

Saturday, 7:18 p.m.

Phil calls.  The dog at the shelter is not Rocky.  My mom and I completely break down.  I feel hopeless.  The same sunset that we cherished the night before now seems like a final, fatal blow.  We grill steaks (it is my mom’s birthday after all) and force them down, but nobody feels like eating, much less celebrating.

Saturday, 10:00 p.m.

We all go to bed, worn out from crying and ready for a few hours of respite, even though we know it will be worse tomorrow when we have to think about leaving without Rocky.

Sunday, 2:00 a.m.

I wake with a start, instantly remember what happened and plunge into misery.  I need to pee.  I walk down the stairs and notice the outdoor motion-sensor light is on.  I see an animal pacing back and forth.  I assume it is one of the two huskies from next door who have been hanging around, but when I get closer, I see the curlicue tail.  I fly to the door, open it, Rocky jumps into my arms.  I am not sure I have ever felt so much relief and gratitude as I did at that moment.  He then jumps on my mom’s bed and gives her the best awakening she’s ever gotten.  The whole family wakes up to celebrate while he drinks two bowls of water and eats a whole bowl of food.

Sunday, all day

We head home and make a few stops to try to salvage some of the weekend, but really all we can think about all day is how fortunate we are and how miraculous it was that Rocky found his way back, and with barely a scratch on his body.  Truly miraculous.

 

Em loves Rocky up after he comes back

 

 

Happier than ever to cuddle my dog!

 

 

So Happy Together... @Helen Hunt falls on the way home

 

Yeah, so the weekend pretty much sucked.  In fact, it was the worst weekend getaway EVER.  BUT — it had a very happy ending and left me with something very monumental to write about for this week’s Gratitude Sunday.

So obviously, I’m grateful that Rocky came back.  I’m grateful to Phil, who even though he was just as sad and torn up as the rest of us, managed to stay rock solid and keep us all together and sane.  Finally, I’m grateful for my mom, who kept telling me it wasn’t my fault even though it absolutely was.

I think that’s more than enough for one week, don’t you?

P.S. Rocky was nothing more than tired with sore paws and a few cuts on his pads.  He has been happily convalescing the past few days, as you can see below.  If you want to read more about Rocky’s escapades, click here or here.

 

It's hard work recovering from an 18-hour romp in the wilderness!

 

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