Mama Diaries

Friday, February 27, 2015

Guest Author, Deanie Humphrys-Dunne

Today, we have a special guest at my pad, author Deanie Humphrys-Dunne.  She's a super nice person who's also known as the "horse tale lady." Her books feature horses, and always impart valuable life lessons to kids.  Her newest book, Charlene the Star and Bentley Bulldog, was released recently.  She's here to talk about it with us. But before we begin, let me first share my review of the book:

Five out of five stars:  Charlene the Star and Bentley Bulldog is the third book in author, Deanie Humphrys-Dunne's, Charlene the Star series. Like the other books, it is filled with valuable life lessons. Charlene the Star is a champion jumper horse. It is her dream to win the High Score Award. By setting goals and working hard, she accomplishes her dream. The new character in the book is Bentley, an English Bulldog, who in the beginning, is quite a bully. He learns, however, that being a bully isn't the right thing to do. Helping and encouraging others is much better.

Ms. Humphrys-Dunne cleverly puts these life lessons into a story where the animals are the protagonists, sharing their points of view. Children will enjoy this type of story telling, as well as the pencil illustrations which compliment the text nicely. Charlene the Star and Bentley Bulldog is a good book for children ages six to ten, which will teach them about setting goals, teamwork, and good character.

Hi Deanie!  Welcome to my pad!

Thank you so much for inviting me to be a guest on your blog, Sherry. I love reading your stories on ‘Mama Diaries’ because they always make me smile. I hope your readers enjoy finding out more about me and my books.

I'm sure they will!

Your blog, Childrens Books with Life Lessons, features some great kids who show good character. Where do you find these inspiring stories?
I listen to lots of news stories and search the internet to find true stories of kids who have done amazing things. Sometimes I find articles in children’s magazines. Once I discover a good story, I try to write a blog that would relate well to one of my books. I love featuring kids who are wonderful role models for others.

Those kids really are amazing.  I hope our readers will hop over to your blog and read some of their incredible stories. 

Your own books are stories with life lessons. What inspired you to write these?
My first book, Tails of Sweetbrier, is an award-winning autobiography that I was inspired to write after I’d taken a course on medical coding, hoping to start a new career. But once I graduated, I couldn’t find a job. I kept having an intuition that I should write the story of my childhood to help children realize that all things are possible if you persevere. The feeling to write  the story wouldn’t go away, so I decided to write it and see if anyone would publish it. I kept remembering my Dad’s advice that when we’re afraid to try something, we should consider the worst thing that would happen. In this case, it would have been that no company wanted to publish the story so I’d have had to improve it. Once this book was published I had a little more confidence and tried to think of entertaining ways to approach other stories that carried subtle lessons for children to ponder. I love children and it makes me happy to write stories that are fun to read and convey important lessons.

I'm glad you followed your intuition.  You've produced some really nice stories that encourage good character.

Can you share some of the life lessons with us?
Well, as I mentioned, one of the characteristics emphasized in Tails of Sweetbrier is perseverance. I think everyone struggles with various challenges and if you’re not determined you’re not likely to reach your goals. Another good character trait is setting goals. If you don’t do that, you’ll be wandering around with nothing to work toward. Setting goals is introduced in my book, Charlie the Horse, for example. Many of my books stress helping others and developing your natural talents because I think we often don’t realize our abilities until we test them. Teamwork is another important lesson that’s evident in my books because  by working together we can achieve amazing things.

So true!  Teamwork and perseverance are really important!

Tell us about your new book, Charlene the Star and Bentley Bulldog.
There is a series of Charlene the Star books and this is the third of those. In this story, we meet Bentley bulldog. He’s quite an obnoxious fellow at first. He insults Hattie the chicken by telling her that “Chickens don’t know how to do anything. Nobody talks about them unless they’re on the menu.” Poor Hattie was so upset she nearly faints. But she makes a plan to help cheer up her friends after she sees the headline in The Gazette. Bentley has a lot to learn and the other animal characters do their best to educate him on the errors of his ways. In the end, Bentley does some amazing things to show that he’s reformed. The story highlights good manners like apologizing, teamwork, sportsmanship, and building self-esteem. Of course, since Bentley is a bulldog, there’s a little advice on handling bullying as well.

Bentley is your classic bully at the beginning.  I'm glad he shaped up and learned to be a good friend!

The animals in your stories are cute. They’re the ones teaching the lessons. Why did you choose animals instead of people?
I thought it would be more entertaining and interesting for children to read about adventures with animals. I try to make their antics amusing, too. Also, children generally love animals and it’s another aspect that makes my stories unique. My sister, Holly Humphrys-Bajaj, illustrates all my books and designs the covers. She really is a remarkable talent. She makes the characters come to life.

You're lucky to have such talent in your family!

Are you working on anything new?
Yes, I’m working on another story for the Charlene the Star series that will be partially based on truth. But it’s still in the beginning stages.

I'm sure it'll be another great book in the series.  Good luck with it!

Where can we find your books?
My books are available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
They can also be purchased from my website:
Or you’ll find links to on these sites:

You may also make arrangements to purchase signed copies by emailing me at

Thanks, Deanie! 

Deanie has graciously offered to give away one autographed copy of her book to a lucky commenter.   For your chance to win, just leave a comment below.  I'll announce the winner on Tuesday.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Kid Magnet

A few snow flakes have fallen in Georgia. This has caused a state of emergency in which schools and businesses have closed.  My kids have been out for a few days.  And you know what that means:  Mama gets pestered with the inevitable, "Mom, I'm bored!"

So, yesterday, we came up with the brilliant idea to make brownies. My daughter did most of the baking.  Soon the house smelled like chocolaty brownies.  I went upstairs to fold laundry while the brownies finished baking.  About ten minutes later, I heard a lot of voices. . . and they weren't ones I  recognized.

I went downstairs to see what was going on.  You wouldn't believe what was in my kitchen. Six kids! "Where did you come from?" I asked.

One of them grinned.  "We heard you were making brownies, and wanted wanted to try some!"

Oh.  Apparently word travels fast in my neighborhood!

So, ladies and gentlemen, if you want a house full of kids, just bake brownies.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

How to Find Your Car in a Parking Lot

My son and I went to the grocery store the other day.  We parked in a spot different from the usual one.

"Okay, Bubba," I said.  "Remember we are in the row across from the gas station sign."

He nodded.  "And there's a big tree here, too."

"Right," I said.

Then he stopped.  "Mama, I have a better way to remember where we're parked."

"What's that, Bubba?"

"Just look for the white lines on the ground.  We're parked between the white lines!"

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

An Invention Called an Oven

Before I start my story, I want to give a huge thank you to Peaches Ledwidge  who surprised me last week by featuring and reviewing my books on her blog.  You made my day, Peaches!

(If you want to learn about Peaches and her book, you can visit her blog or her Amazon page.)

Now for the story:

The other day, our microwave bit the dust.  It was a grand event, with lightening sparks inside and lots of smoke. We hauled that thing out to the curb and left it there to be carried away by the garbage collectors.

This event brought great concern to my daughter.  "How are we going to cook without the microwave?" she asked.

I shrugged.  "I'm sure we'll figure something out."

When it was time for dinner, my daughter asked, "Are we going to have to eat cold food?"

"No," I said.  "I know a good trick."  I grabbed a casserole dish and put in the leftover pork chops, asparagus, and potatoes.  Then I popped it into the pre-heated oven. Twenty minutes later, we had a hot dinner.

My daughter was in shock.  "I didn't know you could do that!"

"That's how we did it in the old days, before microwave ovens were invented," I said.  "Pretty amazing, isn't it?"

She nodded.  "Yep.  Pretty amazing!"

Friday, February 20, 2015

A Meal for Davy Jones' Locker

Yesterday, I thought I'd make a nice meal for my family:  Coconut Thai Shrimp.  The recipe called for it to be cooked in a crock pot.  So I assembled the ingredients and threw them in the pot. After four hours, the thing was supposed to be ready.  But it wasn't.  The rice was still uncooked. I shrugged, replaced the lid, and let it continue cooking - for two more hours.

 It wasn't supposed to be in there that long, but I had gotten a little distracted.  I had totally forgotten the crock pot was still on. When I came downstairs, my nose told me something was amiss.  I opened the lid and peeked inside.  Gruel is the only word I can use to describe it. The rice was a sticky mess, the snap peas had lost their form, and the red bell peppers looked like floppy worms.

Mmmm. Delectable! I thought.  I grabbed some plates and scooped the gruel on them.  "Dinner time!" I called.

My family assembled around the table. They took one look at that stuff and decided there was no way they were going to eat it.

"It looks like school cafeteria food," my daughter said.

My husband agreed. "Argh," he said. "It had potential, but now it's only fit for Davy Jones' Locker!"

Ay, Maties.  Another Mama masterpiece!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Snow Walk

It's a balmy 13 degrees Fahrenheit in Georgia, where I live. I don't think temperatures get that low very often, here in the south. Yesterday, we even had some snow flurries.  When my son got off the bus, the flurries were swirling around.   Of course to kids, this is the greatest thing ever.  "Snow!" they shouted.

I just wanted to get home. "Come on, Bubba, let's go.  It's cold out here!"

But Bubba didn't want to rush.  In  fact, he wanted to go as slow as possible.  I had walked ahead, trying to get him to move a little. When I turned around, Bubba was walking as slow as a snail.

"Dude," I said. "Pick it up a little!"

He shook his head. "No, Mama.  You can't rush this. I'm enjoying my beautiful snow walk!"

(But poor Mama was a frozen Momsicle by the time she got home!)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Reading Habits

Last week in my wanderings, I came upon a blog tag over at Lori Maclaughlin's pad.  It was called, Reading Habits.  I found it rather interesting, and decided to participate.  It's a bunch of questions regarding my reading habits.  So, here we go:

1. Do you have a certain place at home for reading?  Uh, no.  In fact, I rarely read at home.  You'll find me reading on airplanes, music studios, dance classes, and anywhere else I happen to be.  (Same goes for writing.)  My free time at home is either spent blogging, doing social media, or practicing one of my instruments.

2.  Book mark or random piece of paper?  I prefer book marks, but it usually ends up being a random piece of paper, or anything else I happen to find nearby that will do the job.  (I've been known to use bread twisty things and paperclips.)

3. Can you stop reading at any time or do you have to stop at a certain page, chapter, part, etc.? If it were a perfect world, I would stop at the end of a chapter, or at least at a logical break.  But I'm often interrupted, so I end up stopping wherever I am at the time of the interruption.

4. Do you eat or drink while reading? No. I'm sure if I did, the results wouldn't be pretty.

5. Can you read while listening to music or watching TV?  I can, but I'd rather have complete silence - something that rarely ever happens for me!  Of the two, I find it easier to read in front of the TV, because I usually just ignore it.  Music is a little harder, because I'm a musician and I tune into that stuff. 

6. One book or several at once? I do several at once.  I think the most I've had going at the same time was five.  A little crazy, I know.  It started when I began reviewing books.  To get through so many requests, I had to do it that way.

7. Reading at home or everywhere?  I answered this one already.  Everywhere.

8. Reading out loud or silently in my head?  Silently.  The only time I'll read out loud, is if I'm reading to one of my kids, or reading one of my own manuscripts, to get a sense of the flow.

9. Do you read ahead or skip pages? Usually not.  I take it as it comes.  I will say, though, that sometimes, in a series, I'll jump from the first book to the last, to see how it ends.  I did that with the Twilight series and Harry Potter.

10. Breaking the spine or keeping it new? Keeping it new.  I don't like to damage books in any way.

11. Do you write in books? Usually not.  The only books I will write in, are cookbooks, where I make comments about what I thought about the recipe, or variations I used.

Those are my reading habits.  Do you have any you'd like to share?  (If you'd like to do this on your blog, consider yourself tagged!)    

Monday, February 16, 2015

Teaching Charlie Brown

I took my son to see Sponge Bob, the movie, today.  (We don't get enough Sponge Bob at my pad, so we had to get more. It was cute for anyone who is interested - typical Sponge Bob stupidity.)

Of course, he had to get popcorn and an over-sized slushy.  We found a seat, and Bubba promptly began munching. If there's one thing you should know about Bubba, it's that he's messy.  I can't take him anywhere without having to clean up after him. Today was no different.

As we watched the pre-movie clips, Bubba flipped his bag of popcorn, spilling it all over himself and the floor.  I just shook my head.  Two seconds later, a preview of the new Charlie Brown movie appeared on the screen.  And guess what Charlie Brown did?  He spilled his popcorn in the movie theater just as Bubba had done.

Bubba grinned.  "See, Mama?  I was just showing Charlie Brown how to act!"

Friday, February 13, 2015

Stretching the Truth

"Mama," my ten year old son said. "Did you know that the human intestine is so long, it can stretch all the way around the world?"

I tried very hard not to laugh.  "Bubba, I think you've got your facts a little mixed up."

Bubba shook his head.  "No.  I'm pretty sure I got it right."

"How long is a human intestine?" I asked.

He shrugged.

"I bet it's about twenty feet," I said. "How big is the circumference of the Earth?"

"Twenty feet?"

"Um, no," I said.  "Let's look this up."  I went to the computer and did a little research.  The circumference around the Earth is 24,901.55 miles.  According to my calculations, that is 131,480,184 feet. "Dude," I said.  "Do you really think one intestine is going to cover that distance?"

He shook his head.  "It'll take two.  Yours and dad's."

(For those of you who are interested, it would take 65,740,092 intestines to go around the world.)

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Flying Carpet Ride

Our hundred pound German Shepherd, Schultz, has a new trick.  It's called the Flying Carpet Ride.

I couldn't believe the first time I saw it.  I was sitting at my computer, typing another chapter of my work in progress, when the furry beast ran into the front hall at a breakneck speed.  He jumped, landed on the area rug that's in front of our door, and skidded across the hard wood floor.

"What the heck, Schultz?" I said.

He got off the rug and looked at me with his big pink tongue hanging out and a huge smile plastered on his silly face.

I shook my head and continued typing.

Fifteen minutes later, the nutcase ran into the hall and did it again.

Obviously the beast has had some experience doing this.  I don't know how he discovered that the carpet slides when he runs and jumps on it, but it seems to be his new favorite game.

What will the dog think of next?

(I'm sorry, I don't have a video of this.  If I ever catch him in the act, and am able to film it, I'll post it.  It's hilarious!)

Monday, February 9, 2015

Lost Youth

First of all, thank you to everyone who stopped by and left comments for Virginia Wright in the last post.  You made her feel very welcome.  You guys are awesome!  The winner of the autographed copy of Virginia's book, Wild Animal Sounds, is Loni Townsend. Congratulations, Loni!

Second, I had one more question from the Outstanding Blogger post.  I'll answer it now.  The question was:  What is your favorite piece to play?   Another tough one.  Since we were talking about piano repertoire, I'm going to select a piano piece.  (If I had to choose a violin piece or viola piece, I don't think I'd ever be able to do it!)  I really enjoy playing the Chopin Valse brillant in Ab Major.  It has both virtuoso passages and lyrical passages, which I think is a great combination.

Here's Lang Lang playing it:

And now for the story:

I took my ten-year-old son to the park yesterday.  He had a special request to visit the playground.  He went on the swing set and the spinning thing that makes you want to vomit. He went down the sliding board, and dug up some dirt with the digger toy.  He even made a few friends with some of the kids.

When he was done, he came up to me and said, "Mama, I miss being younger."

"What do you mean, Bubba?  You're still pretty young."

"All these kids are five or six years old.  They don't have a care in the world.  Now I'm old. I have so much to think about."

"Like what, Bubba? Video games?"

He gave me a funny look.  "No, Mama.  Homework and chores."

Right.  All those big kid things.  

I nodded.  "Well, Bubba.  You'd better enjoy being ten, because pretty soon you'll be forty, with a lot more to worry about than homework and chores!"

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Guest Author: Virginia Wright

Today, I have a special guest at my pad, children's author, Virginia Wright.  She has an adorable new book out, called Wild Animal Sounds.

Before I start the interview with her, I'll give you my quick review of the book:

Five stars:  Wild Animal Sounds is a book that phonetically recreates the sounds wild animals make. Animals include the elephant, warthog, bear, lion, and hippopotamus. Some animal sounds readers will be quite familiar with - "Ort-ort-ort-ort-ot-ot" of the sea lion. Others may be new - "Mooo-oooh-moo-ma-nuck" for the moose. Children are invited to repeat each sound after the animal makes it. At the end of the book, is a coloring page and a short quiz to see if the child can match the animal with its sound. The illustrations are cute and colorful, and compliment the text nicely. Wild Animal Sounds is a book children ages 3-7 would enjoy.

Hi, Virginia!  Welcome!  I love your new book, Wild Animal Sounds. It's so perfect for introducing animal sounds to kids.  The sounds in your book are unique. They are spelled the way they sound in real life. Where did you get the idea to do that? Sherry, I didn’t get the idea to spell the words the way they sound in real life from anyone or anything. I just knew that I wanted Wild Animal Sounds to be unique. When writing Wild Animal Sounds, I listened to hours of wild animal sound clips. I wanted to give my readers what I felt was a human interpretation of an animal sound. I would listen to animal sounds and then write down what I felt I was hearing.

You did a great job recreating the sounds! Would you give our readers some examples of the sounds in your book? Yes, I’d love to, Sherry.  I didn't want to simply say that an elephant trumpeted, so after listening to several animal clips of an elephant, I decided that the elephant sounds like “E-reow.” Another human interpretation of one of my animals in the story is the coyote that sounds like “Rup-rup-rup-aroo.” 

I didn't know a coyote could sound so cute!  Do you have a favorite animal sound?  My favorite animal sound, Sherry, is the sound a moose makes—“Mooo-oooh-moo-ma-nuck.  In Maine, we have moose in the wild. I live fairly close (a couple of hours) from the Canadian border. I felt that if a moose could talk it would have a little bit of a Maine accent and Canadian accent mixed.  ;-)

Haha!  Before reading your book, I really had no idea what a moose sounded like.  What other kind of animal sounds do you hear where you live? I hear many animal sounds where I live Sherry, I will name a few: Coyote, Osprey, Loons, Raccoons,  Deer, Seals, Grey Squirrels, and Chipmunks.

I noticed one of your sounds is a cockatiel.  Do you have any pets, or did you have any when you were a kid?  No, Sherry I do not have any pets.  I have owned dogs in the past though and loved every one of them!

Dogs make a lot of noise!  So do frogs.  My African clawed frog croaks all night, and makes it sound like I'm living in a jungle!  How did you decide which animals to use?  Sherry, I based which animals to use in Wild Animal Sounds partly on a few of the animals we have in Maine, but also based on animals I wanted to illustrate. The cockatiel was added to Wild Animal Sounds because of my granddaughter, Julie.  My son’s family has a cockatiel and my granddaughter asked me if I would put hers in my book.

I'm sure your granddaughter is thrilled about seeing her pet in your book!  Are you working on any other projects? Yes, Sherry. My latest WIP is titled: Timothy the Christmas Mouse. I am hoping (**fingers crossed**) for a 2015 release. I am also stepping away from the children’s genre at some point to finish a cookbook.

I can't wait to read the new Christmas book.  And a cookbook sounds good, too.  You've shared some excellent recipes on your blog and Facebook, so I'm sure you'll have some awesome recipes in the cookbook!  Where can we find Wild Animal Sounds:  My First Book? Thank you for asking, Sherry. Wild Animal Sounds can be found at many online book stores, I will list a few: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Books-A-Million .

Thanks for telling us about your new book!  I'm sure kids will love it!  Thank you, Sherry.

Follow, Tweet, Friend, Comment and Like Virginia here: 

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Virginia will give an autographed copy of the book to one lucky person.  Just leave a comment for your chance to win!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Answers to Your Questions and the Impossible Breakfast Challenge

Thanks for your comments on the last post.  As promised, I will answer the questions you asked.

1.  What is my favorite Star Wars film?  That's a tough one, because there are so many good ones.  I'll have to go with Star Wars Episode V.  Harrison Ford is Han Solo, and Carrie Fisher is Princess Leia.  This is probably the darkest of the series, but I like it because it introduces Yoda.  And Yoda is cool.

2.  What Debussy piece did I play for the pageant?  Deux Arabesque No. 1

3.  How do you pronounce, "Debussy"?  duh-byoo-SEE

4.  Is there anything I'm scared to do?  Well, let's see.  I hadn't really thought about it, but now that I have, here's what I've come up with:

. Swimming with piranhas, crocodiles, or great white sharks

. High diving off a cliff into water

. Skiing on dangerous terrain

. Drag racing (going super fast in a car makes me nervous)

. Walking over hot coals with bare feet

. Tightrope walking across the Grand Canyon

. Cave Diving in unexplored places.  Actually, I really don't like cave diving.  I did a little of it when I was a SCUBA diving instructor, and I hated the closed spaces and not being able to see well.  Getting stuck was a huge worry.

If any of you missed the opportunity to ask me questions, and want to do so, leave them in the comment section, and I'll answer them one more time.

Now for the story:

My son and I were sitting at the table having breakfast when he posed this question:  "Mama,  have you ever taken the impossible breakfast challenge?"

I looked at him.  "Dude.  I have no idea what the impossible breakfast challenge is."

"It's when you try to play Flappy Bird and eat your food at the same time."

"No," I replied.  "I don't play video games while I eat."

"That's good, " he said.  "Because I saw a video of someone who did, and he threw all his food on the floor because he got really mad at the Flappy Birds."

Oh. So I guess the moral of this story is, don't eat and do video games at the same time.  It's hazardous to one's floor.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Outstanding Blogger Award

I'd like to thank Norbu Wangdi for giving me the Outstanding Blogger Award.

The rules on this one are:

1.  Thank the person who nominated you.

2. Say seven things about yourself.

3. Choose 15 bloggers to give the award to.

Since I've had quite a few of these things arrive at my pad, I'm just going to follow the first part and thank Norbu.  If you don't know him, be sure to pay him a visit.  I find the posts he shares to be quite fascinating, as they reveal a lot about his country and culture.

As far as the things about myself go, I don't know if I have any new material that you don't already know.  So I'll give you a couple of things, but then I'll let you ask me questions.  Is there anything you really want to know about me?  If so, leave your questions in the comment section, and I'll answer them. (Maybe.)

Here are a few things:

1.  I am good at playing basketball and throwing a football (which I do regularly with my son).  I was a complete tomboy when I was a kid.  I used to play football and basketball with all the neighborhood boys.  (I was the quarterback.)  In fact, I had way more fun playing with them, then hanging out with girls.  (Dirt biking was another fun activity I did with them.) I'd still rather be hiking in the woods than blabbing on a telephone.

2.  On my girly side, I've done several beauty pageants.  This may be shocking.  Why would a tomboy be interested in pretty dresses and makeup?  But I was.  I did very well in the Miss Ohio US Teen pageant.  I won the scholastic achievement award, and was second in talent (which to this day, I'm very upset about, because the only reason I didn't get first, was because the Debussy piano piece I played exceeded the time limit.  Grrr.!)

3.  I've always enjoyed writing, but I never ever thought I'd be an author.  It was my daughter who convinced me to do it when she was three years old!  The first "chapter book" I'd ever written was, The Kingdom in the Clouds.  I was eight years old.  I even illustrated it.  I still have that thing somewhere in my pile of stuff.

I'm going to skip naming 15 bloggers, because I just nominated a bunch recently for another award.  But if you'd like to take this and share things about yourself on your blog, feel free to do so!

Again, if you have anything you'd like to ask me, go ahead and ask.  I'll post answers in my next blog post.  

Monday, February 2, 2015

Huffing Helium

Do you remember the invitation to a party that got me in trouble about a week ago?  The one where the RSVP number went to the kid's cell phone?  Well, the party happened over the weekend.   And from what I can tell, it was a wild one.

After turning around a bazillion times, trying to find the party venue (there was no address on the invitation.  Just the name of the neighborhood club house.) , I finally pulled into a parking lot. It was night time, and I couldn't see a darn thing.  I sat there for two seconds, trying to figure out where the party was.

"Any idea, girls?" I said to the teens in the back seat.

"No.  Maybe there isn't a party."

I got out of my car, and the motion sensors activated some lights on the premise. I saw some stairs going up to what I figured was a clubhouse. And it sounded like head-banging music was playing. "This must be the place," I said.

I escorted the girls to the party, where lots of crazy teenagers were dancing and screaming.  I didn't see any adults, but I figured someone was in charge.  So, I got out of that crazy place and went home.

Three hours later, it was time to pick them up.  Our hundred pound German Shepherd, Schultz, decided he wanted to come, too.

We went back to the club house, and found a bunch of super-hyper teenagers, giggling in high-pitched squeaky voices.  "What the heck?" I said.

My daughter and her friends came out with a few balloons in their hands.  The helium kind. They inhaled some of the air that was inside. "Hi!" they squeaked, and promptly burst out laughing.

I shook my head and took them back to the car, where Schultz was waiting.

"Hi, Schultzy!" they squeaked.

Schultz cocked his head and looked at them funny.

"Yeah," I said.  "I don't know who these helium huffers are, either."

We drove home, looking like something out of a sitcom -  three crazy teenagers huffing helium in the back seat , a giant  German Shepherd,  looking very confused, and a tired Mama just wanting the chaos to end!