Wendy Knuth Author of Moore Zombies, blogging about the human experience.

Tag Archives: #animals

One Of The Most Perfect Gifts For A Toddler!

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Everyone has heard the adage of buying presents for children only to find out they prefer the box.  Well, from experience, it is true.  So today, my good friends, I am here to tell you about one of the most cherished gifts your child will get from you:  An item to bond with, to sleep with, a source of comfort, homemade with love.  Yes, you will beam with pride when other parents ask you, “Where did you buy that?”

From me to you:  Make a pillowcase!

Back in the day, I made a Teletubbies pillowcase for my son.  He loved it – he treasured it for a couple of years.  My other son was meanwhile enjoying the store bought 101 Dalmations bed set, just so you know he wasn’t neglected.

Go to your local store where materials are sold such as WalMart or JoAnns, and you will find a whole new world of options:  Animals of all types (real and cartoony), holiday themed prints, fairies, princesses, flowers, specific sports teams, and copyrighted Disney characters.  What did I find for my boys?  Dinosaurs and construction equipment galore.  Jackpot!

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Worried about your sewing skills?  Don’t be.  I’m not an expert seamstress.  Out of all the things one can sew, a pillowcase is probably one of the easiest, even if you don’t have a sewing machine.  If your work is not up to par, your child probably won’t notice.  But just in case, here is a handy tip from me to you:  Don’t sew ALL the edges together or you will be left with a pillowcase malfunction.  Handy tip #2 – buy a “travel pillow” – it is the perfect size for a toddler, and you’ll need even less material.

A yard of material is dirt cheap compared to your limited selection of pricey bed sets, and you can almost bank on the idea that toddlers don’t know that bedding should match, and really, why should it?  Where is the fun in that?  Live a little!

Alternatively, if you are “one of those people” and just can’t function without the matching set, you can take it a step further.  I actually made (er, um, yeah) dinosaur blankets.  Okay – I didn’t MAKE the blankets.  I bought really cheap blankets and then covered one side with dinosaur material and used a plain blue cheapo material on the other side.  In retrospect the plain blue material was more difficult to deal with since it was very stretchable.  Tip #3:  If sewing is not your thing – don’t buy anything too stretchy.

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My dinosaur blankets each have a large seam running down the middle because often material is sold in smaller widths than can cover an adult sized blanket – did my kids notice?  Nope!  However, after a couple of weeks, one son complained of something pointy in the blanket.  Oops – it turned out I had sewn in one of the pins I had used to keep the edges together.  Tip # 4:  (I think you get the point, yuk, yuk.)

That same young man is now an older teenager.  Out of the numerous pillowcases I made for him, he still has (in his closet) what is now an old, raggedy pillow with the construction print pillowcase.  He is not willing to part with it.  It is a keepsake of his.  Oh my gosh, how worth it is that?

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So pick a print, apply your skills and give the gift of a pillowcase!  Tip #5: Don’t forget to include a pillow.

Since you may not always be able to find what you are looking for at your local store, I am including some affiliate links for themed materials that are always available online:

Outer Space Fabric

Unicorns and Such

 
Tell me how it goes. . .

 

Wendy Knuth

Author of Moore Zombies picture books and chapter books

 

Adventures of Agnes – A Back Story Of Moore Zombies: Big, Bad Wolfbag

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The old bad guy and I had this dog named Agnes.  She was a short haired, brown something or other that we got from the local humane society.  When she was really worked up, her hairline that ran down the middle of her back would raise up, but backwards.  She was the friendliest dog ever, but she was also very intimidating if you were on the other side of the fence.  We got a lot of great comments on her – personality, personality, personality, Type A.

Agnes was quite often, a pain in the rear.  She was definitely an alpha female.  So much so, that she would raise her leg to go the bathroom, she wasn’t letting the males have anything on her.  I have blogged about her issues with skunks.  I almost put something into Big, Bad Wolfbag about skunks but I felt I already had enough material.  So then there was the toad thing.

One day, I heard Agnes barking her brains out in the backyard.  Yes, she was drooling and foaming at the mouth, just like in the book.  I saw this toad on the ground.  She was barking at it and almost trying to bite it but you could tell whatever slime substance was on its back was deterring her.  We put the poor toad outside of the fence and worried some about Agnes.  We have her plenty of water to drink and she turned out just fine.

There was the time when the old, bald guy and I were camping near a lake.  We saw this young boy come up over the hill.  Agnes’ ears perked up and she looked very alert.  The boy saw her and stopped in his tracks.  The old bald guy spoke out loud to himself, “Please don’t run”.  Of course, the kid turned and ran, and Agnes chased after him.  He must have been terrified.  Agnes was the kind of dog that would chase after anything that ran away from her, but luckily for humans, she wouldn’t do anything but be playful once she caught up to you.  Anyhow, we feared repercussions from angry parents so we packed up, called Agnes who dutifully came back, and we left.  A version of this is in the opening chapter of my Wolfbag book, except I changed the boy to a girl.

Another time, we were camping at Lake Pleasant, which is why I decided to include the name of this lake in the book.  Agnes loved swimming and we saw her swimming after a bird that looked like it had a broken wing.  The closer she got to the bird, the bigger her eyes became.  When she got really close, the bird flew away and Agnes turned around and swam back to shore.  Before she got out of the water the bird flew back and plopped down near Agnes and swam away again with the appearance of the broken wing.  Of course, Agnes turned back around and swam after the bird.  We were sure Agnes kept getting too close to this bird’s nest on shore.  This literally went on for at least an hour.  Yes, this is also in the book.  When I did internet searches to find birds that played the broken wing trick, I could only find a certain bird that to my recollection did not look anything like the bird that played this trick on our dog, and that is why the type of bird remains unnamed in the book.

The fishing incident in the book is completely made up and had nothing to do with Agnes.  However, there was a time when our other dog, Ed, got tangled in someone’s fishing line as he swam by.  That silly angler saw him coming and should have reeled his line in, but instead he watched the whole thing happen and then blamed us for letting our dog tangle his fishing line.  Luckily, as Ed kept swimming the line untangled on its own and we didn’t have to unhook him or anything.  We were glad because we didn’t want to deal with that dummy anymore anyhow.

I could go on and on about Agnes, and I’m sure in the future I will.  Now you know a lot of the events which inspired me came from real life and you can read all about them in my third chapter book called Moore Zombies: Big, Bad Wolfbag.

Wendy Knuth, Author of Moore Zombies picture books and chapter books

MooreZombies.com

I Despise the Smell of Skunk or What To Try If Your Dog Gets Skunked

So you got skunked.  Seriously what does it mean?  That means you were badly beaten in a game, right?  Well, I wish.  Say it over and over and over again and it starts to sound weird.  Anything to do with “unk” is just not good.  That is why similar words sound just as funky, pun intended, eg funk and gunk.  But, don’t forget bunk, dunk, hunk, junk, punk, and sunk.

But in reality, your dog got skunked.  Why, oh why does this keep happening?  As a dog owner, I have issues.  Ongoing and longstanding issues.  Oh, let me tell you the horrors.  My dogs get skunked.  Luckily it seems to be a seasonal problem of late summer and early fall.  As a youngster growing up in a rural area, our dogs got skunked.  I remember how my mother would bathe the stinky dogs with either lemon juice or tomato juice or tomato sauce.  From my recollection, it worked great.  However, it seems that over time I swear the skunk smell has become much more potent.

There was a time my husband and I were camping, on a merry stroll we were, and my dog went crazy.  She starting barking at a tree.  At the base of the tree.  There was nothing there.  She started to attack a pile of leaves and sure enough, there was a skunk happily hibernating.  He let her know he was not appreciative of her and we dragged her off with the wet odor of skunk in our mouths.  Yuck!!

Another time, our dog ran into our house, so excited, with soaking wet skunk-sprayed fur and proceeded to rub herself all over the carpet in the middle of the night.  Didn’t she know we had to work the next day?   The thick odor makes sleeping very difficult, as well as the increasing anger that goes with this situation.

I would never admit to it, but at some point in time, there may have been a dead skunk in my living room, with entrails all about, and a proud dog to boot.  How fun!  A new job for the husband!

I wanted to put said dog in time out or at least on skunk restriction.  I wanted to have a sit down.  Look dog, you’re not doing us any favors here.  You are not protecting the fort, in fact you are allowing chemical warfare into the fort of which you should be protecting.   If only that would work.

So I tried the lemonade, and I tried the tomato juice and even tomato sauce.  It seemed to have lost its efficiency.  Perhaps my memories were bad as to how well those old tricks worked.  Online I go and find a new recipe.  Hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dish soap.  So instead of hitting the odor with acids, now we are hitting it with bases.  Doesn’t anyone know the chemical composition of skunk spray by now?  The new formula seemed to work pretty well, except I lost my fingerprints during the treatment and I’m not so sure how that affects the dog’s skin, but with my increasing anger over the dog’s defunct learning curve, I hoped that the burn and the bath would deter the dang dog.  Um, nope.

As for the carpet, I can’t spread tomato juice all over and I’m sure hydrogen peroxide will make for bleach spots, so I tried a solution of vinegar and water ala the internet.  I sprayed it all over the carpet – works great for a day or two, if you don’t mind the smell of vinegar.  I repeated this treatment every couple of days.  It turns out, from my now all knowing experience that the skunk smell naturally dissipates after approximately one month.  Or it could be that one becomes so used to the foul stench in your own home that you don’t notice it after a month.

Why do I write this angry blog?  Last week, my dog got skunked.  Yet, that sounds wrong, as if he was a victim when I’m sure he was the instigator.  Can you believe I was fresh out of hydrogen peroxide?  I hauled Mr. Dog into tub and went after him with a mixture of vinegar and dish wash soap.  I have to say it worked great for several days.  And again, if you don’t mind the smell of vinegar.  But that nasty skunk smell seems to have a way of working itself back up into the fur and up into your nose.

I now have lots of ideas.  Has anyone started selling this skunk juice?  Perhaps someone, somewhere has or could start a big skunk farm.  You could sell the juice to the police to use as riot dispersing bombs.  You could sell it to the general public as an alternative to mace.  People could use it on their natural born enemies so that they would have to call off from work.  It makes me wonder, how many people have actually called into work to say “I can’t come in today, I’ve been skunked.”

I am always amazed when driving down the road with the air on in my vehicle and I catch a whiff of that foul odor.  I roll down the windows to rid the car of that vile smell and it always takes a couple of miles before I stop smelling it.

The smell used to seem unusual or even interesting.  Nowadays, it just makes me mad.  I am dubious of trying a commercial product as most of the internet gives it a small remark and then moves on to home remedies.  But I’m willing to try.  I also just recently read something about minty mouthwash.  Oh, how I look forward to trying that as if I have nothing better to do.  Thanks dog!

Wendy Knuth

Author of Moore Zombies

MooreZombies.com