“Eat and Grow” – Chick Watching

 By Guest Blogger Chicken Wrangler Sara

The chicks have gotten too big for the long cage. This is good. It means they are growing.

This is bad. It means we have to move them.

Rachel and I decided to move the larger ones first. I chose 14 hens and gave them to Rachel who clipped their wings. Then we put them in the bantam coop. There was lots of noise initially but eventually they calmed down.

The chicks remaining in the long cage on saw horses still seemed to be picking on each other. This was not good.

We decided to move the long cage to the ground in the bantam yard. Then we open it during the day and let the chicks run around. At night, we put them back in the long cage and close the doors so they are safe.

Watching 32 chicks run around on the ground for the first time in their short lives is hysterical. They tend to stay in groups. One will run across the yard and others will follow.

bella watchingBella finds their activity particularly entertaining.

She spends long periods of time just watching them. Fortunately, none have come over the fence to “play.” The bantam yard keeps them entertained for now.


The next step will be moving them over with the large hens. They need to be a little bit bigger. I tell them every day “Eat and grow, eat and grow.” big hens


From contest entry to book series

AMAZ cover for WLRI’m skipping my regular Make Me Think Monday blog for some important book release news. The second book in the Fitzpatrick Family Series is now available.

The Fitzpatrick family came to life from an entry in a contest sponsored by The White Rose Press back in 2009. I didn’t win that contest. However, in the process of revising my entry, now titled When Love Blooms, for publication last year, the hero’s seven brothers and sisters kept chattering in my head wanting their stories told. Eight preacher kids, each with a sweet romance story of his or her own to share and more story ideas were born.

Read the full account of how my contest entry became a book series here.

When Love Returns tells of Becca Fitzpatrick’s journey to happily ever after. Here’s the back cover copy:

Becca Fitzpatrick fell in love with Ethan Wells at age five. At eight, he proposed. At seventeen, he disappeared and broke her heart. Twelve years later, he returns with a new name – Ethan LaMotte – and a new life in Paris. He claims he’s never stopped loving her.

Once upon a time, Becca believed him. Not anymore. Now family, friends, and adoring students fill her life. Plus, she has an opportunity for the job of her dreams in her small Texas hometown.

Although their lives and work are an ocean apart, Ethan won’t lose Becca another time. But, will she risk her heart again and accept this new Ethan’s proposal?

Get your copy of When Love Returns from any of these bookstores:






I hope you have as much fun reading Becca and Ethan’s story as I did creating it.

Facing Morning

 By Guest Blogger Chicken Wrangler Sara

Three of our four dachshunds sleep in kennels every night. Tucker is not one of them.

He has had “kennel phobia” since he was a puppy so he sleeps in our room. Every morning he waits patiently for someone to let his girls out of their kennels.

Bella and Sadie are quick to oblige just as soon as their door is open. Coco, on the other hand, is not a morning dog. Usually she comes running out barking at anything in her way. Sometimes, though, she doesn’t move.Coco

I’ve learned not to force the issue. She eventually comes out. I figure she’s just not ready to face the day yet. I can relate.

Last week I was going through my morning routine, which includes several cups of coffee, when I discovered this:


– a fly in my coffee cup. I was not happy.

Move over Coco, I’m coming to join you. I don’t want to face today either.

Five Back-to-School Tips for a Good School Year

School bells will soon be ringing. In some places, the bells already signal the beginning of the new school year.

Everywhere parents and kids are hoping for a really good year. I’m offering some tips today from fictional teachers that will make that happen.

In my latest sweet romance series, The Fitzpatrick Family where each of eight preacher kids has his or her own romance story, books one and two are about school teachers.

WLB_cover_2015_100x150Andy Fitzpatrick of When Love Blooms is a special education teacher working with at-risk high school students.

WLR_cover_100x150Becca Fitzpatrick of When Love Returns is a middle school teacher with aspirations to be the school principal. No spoilers here. You’ll have to read the book.

Brother and sister put their heads together and came up with these five tips to help make this school year an all-round success.

• Before that first day, take a virtual tour of the school with your child and/or visit the school’s website. You’ll find a wealth of information to speed the process and avoid awkward first-day moments.

• Plan a “bus stop breakfast” for your elementary age child on the first day of school. Nothing fancy, simple is best. Becca thinks it’s a great way to start any school day.

• Take your pre-teen or teen to the local mall and splurge on a new outfit. Andy reminds us that wearing what’s trendy is especially important at this age.

• No matter what their age, encourage your child to reach out and introduce themselves. They’ll make new friends so much faster. On the flip side, remind your child to reach out to any new kids.

• At the end of the first day, be sure to ask how the day went or meet the bus then share an after-school snack.

The Fitzpatrick teachers wish all the students, teachers, and staffs a safe and productive new school year. And, so do I.

Five Little Ducks

By Guest Blogger Chicken Wrangler Sara

sceneryOne morning while in Colorado, I went fishing with Brian and my father. Actually I didn’t fish. I took a book and soaked in the scenery.

I was joined at one point by a chipmunk- not something we have a lot of in Texas.chipmunk

Then I spotted a momma duck and her babies. I watched as they walked into the water and swam among the plants. I even saw the momma duck put her head in the water and tail in the air.

There is a children’s chant about that:

“See the little ducklings swimming here and there; Heads down in the water tails up in the air.”

Soon they headed out across the lake – momma and the four little ducklings close by.ducks(I couldn’t get all four ducks in the picture. Just like family photos when the kids were young – someone didn’t cooperate.)

That too reminded me of a song. I sent the picture to Catherine, our daughter, who is in music school. She also thought of the song. I’ve trained her well  She has heard the song and seen the book from the time she was born.bkIt is one of my favorites and in fact my copy is falling apart. Perhaps I need to invest in a library edition.

In all it was a pleasant morning. I could think about my job without having to do it and smile.

(Almost) End-of-Summer Safety Tips for Dogs

A Guest Blog by Vee Cecil

dog-Vee Cecil

SOURCE: Via Flickr – by Luke Ma

If you’re a dog owner, you know that they enjoy the summer almost as much as people do. They get to spend more time outdoors, take advantage of human eats at their owner’s summer parties, and if they’re lucky, take a dip or two, in the pool or lake.

But pet owners should keep in mind that there are a few summer-specific dangers that come with all that fun. Here are a few things to watch out for so that you can ensure you and your dog fully enjoy the rest of the summer.

Do a thorough clean up after summer get-togethers.

Many dogs enjoy being around visitors. So, they find summer, with its outdoor barbecues and parties, especially great. But as the MSPCA explains in its tips for having a pet-friendly summer, these get-togethers are often rife with possible dangers for your dog. For example, if you aren’t careful, your dog might chomp down a barbecue skewer, which could be very dangerous for them. These parties also tend to produce a lot of trash. Make sure you’ve secured it properly so that your dog can’t fish out “dangerous items like corncobs and bones.”

Keep ‘em hydrated.

Just like humans, dogs need to stay hydrated. Whether they’re at the pool, at the park, on a hike, or just going for a walk around the neighborhood, be sure they’re drinking enough water. As these end-of-summer safety tips recommend, it’s best to bring water along with you when you have your dog in tow. That way your dog can have a drink whenever he or she needs one.

Lock up the chemicals.

All you have to do is take one look at this list of common pool chemicals and their uses to know that you don’t want your pet getting anywhere near them. In fact, when not properly handled, these chemicals are toxic for humans and animals. So, if you have a pool, be sure your chemicals stay locked up and out of reach of children and pets. And if you’ll be visiting a friend or neighbor’s pool, ask them where they keep their chemicals so that you can be sure to keep your dog away.

Know the signs of heatstroke.

Yes, pets can suffer heatstroke, too! The Humane Society explains that signs of heatstroke in your dog might include, heavy panting, glazed eyes, lethargy, and more. And it explains that some animals may be at higher risk than others. For example, if your pet is “very old, very young, overweight, not conditioned to prolonged exercise, or [has] heart or respiratory disease,” then you should keep a close eye out for signs of the above symptoms and try to keep your dog as cool and comfortable as possible in the summer heat at all times.

There’s no reason your pet can’t enjoy these last weeks of summer just as much as you do. Keep these tips in mind so that you can keep your four-legged friend healthy and happy.


VeeCecil.pngVee Cecil has a passion for wellness. She loves studying the topic and sharing her findings on her recently-launched blog. She is also a wellness coach, personal trainer, and bootcamp instructor.

Fall’s Lure for Writers

It is the summer’s great last heat,
It is the fall’s first chill: They meet.

Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt

Labor Day is two weeks away. This year’s Fall Equinox will arrive on September 23, 4:21 A.M. EDT

Here in my part of the woods, the days are growing shorter and the mornings turning chilly.

I’m a former teacher so fall brings nostalgia   But not because I’m longing to be back in a classroom again. To be a teacher again, I’d have to give up too much time and energy I prefer to devote to my writing.

Still, fall will always be one of my favorite times of year because it means

  • less summertime activity to distract me from writing projects
  • school supply sales

WalmartNothing jumpstarts my creativity like a fresh notebook and a sharp new pencil or a bright colored pen.

Never mind, I have plenty of pencils, pens, and notebooks. There’s something compelling about the blank page and a sparkly new pencil.

Plus, who can resist a sale!

Writers, does fall charge you or challenge you?