Release Day for Puppy Dog Tales (+ Our Quest to Find a Pet)

Okay, so guess what happens when you write a book titled Puppy Dog Tales? You end up being reminded of how sweet and adorable animals are and you talk your family into getting a pet! Well, kind of. As with any major commitment in life, there’s a lot to take into consideration. One, were we ready for a pet, and two, what kind of pet did we want? The first question was easy to answer. We had a dog for ten years who sadly passed away four years ago (here’s my “in memory” post about Sparkle), so we do have experience as pet owners and miss having a furry friend to love. When I say we however, I mean hubby and me because the munchkins sadly don’t remember too much about Sparkle, except for C’s traumatic memory of him snatching a waffle right out of her hand. And because of that memory, we thought we should get a pet for C’s sake, to help her get over her fear that all dogs are waffle snatchers. 😛 But we thought we’d go with an animal that would be less intimidating for her, which answered our second question; we decided to get a cat!

Fast forward to last weekend when we ventured into a cat cafe, a local hangout I found online where you can play with cats for an hour at a time. If you found one you got along with (and vice versa), you could apply to adopt him/her. Sounds great, doesn’t it? And it was … until we got home and E’s eyes were swollen and his nose was itchy and he started sneezing. And I realized how much easier I could breathe in the absence of felines. So, yup, we scratched* that idea. 🙁

The next day we decided to check out a dog adoption event at a local pet store. (You could say we had to settle for Plan B, but in reality, hubby and I were both happy Plan A didn’t work out because we’re both more dog people). 😉 I had looked through the profiles of the dogs that would be at the event and made sure there were some small dogs that C would like because if it were up to her, she’d get one like this:

Image courtesy of flickr.

Yes, it’s cute, but there’s just something not quite right about a dog that can fit inside your teacup. 😉 Anyhow, there were all kinds of dogs there waiting to be adopted. Big, calm German Shepherds, yappy lap dogs, and one tiny, trembling 4 month old puppy. And because there were SO many dogs together in one place, there were a lot of strong odors wafting in the air. I won’t describe them for you, but let’s just say that E and his sensitive nose couldn’t wait to hightail* it out of there! After literally five minutes, we rushed back to the car and drove home. And that, folks, was the end of Plan B. 🙁

I’m sorry to say we haven’t found the right pet for us yet, but I’m hopeful we will in the new year. But for now, I am super excited to announce that it’s release day for the book that started us on this quest: Puppy Dog Tales!

This story was one of the fastest ones I’ve written and it came together so well because it was just plain fun. It is a romantic comedy, by the way, and in case you need some convincing that it’s funny, let me assure you that hubby has said I’m much funnier in print than in person. LOL 😉 If you want a quick pick-me-up story with an opposites attract trope and some furry friends, you’re in for a treat* with Puppy Dog Tales! Get it today (click HERE) for only $1.99 or read it for free with Kindle Unlimited!

An animal hater and an animal lover’s paths collide the week leading up to Valentine’s Day.

Melvin Lai inherited the last thing he ever wanted from his favorite uncle: a cocker spaniel. Now he’s on the verge of losing his home to the unruly puppy and, much to his surprise, his heart when he meets Dr. Chu, Sparkle’s vet.

Vivian Chu loves caring for her furry friends, so she can’t fathom how anyone could think poorly of her new patient, especially his owner. To her, first impressions are everything, and the one Melvin left has her feeling disheartened and bruised–quite literally.

With a pair of matchmaking mothers and unexpected animal escapades, they encounter more trouble than they can handle. He longs to make her his valentine; she can’t wait to escape him. Can Melvin and Vivian pull together to find common ground?

And here’s the playlist I put together for the story! Enjoy! 🙂

*I couldn’t help using some punny, animal-related words in this post. 😉

Why You Need to Treat Your Kids Differently

When munchkin #1 was small, I read a parenting book in which the author (a pediatrician with 8 kids!) said he parents each one of his children differently. As a mom of a high need baby, I was so worn out by carrying and nursing him almost 24/7, my jaw dropped when I read that line. I remember telling hubby about it and declaring that, “This guy is crazy! How can a parent have the mental, emotional or physical capacity to use a different parenting style for each kid?” I was having a hard enough time just keeping mine alive … seriously! 😉

It wasn’t until munchkin #2 showed up that I began to understand why we need to treat our kids differently. Of course I love, appreciate, and value both of my kids as equally as my imperfect self is able to, but I don’t always treat them the same. Why? Because they have completely opposite personalities and temperaments. Yup, you could say hubby and I successfully cloned ourselves, haha.

E was (and still is) the most careful, cautious, and detailed kid I know. Even as a baby, he knew without us ever mentioning it that the top of the stairs was a dangerous place to be. He would always steer clear of it, going so far as to stick to the wall opposite of the staircase as he walked by. What about C? This adventurous, fun-loving kid is the reason they invented baby gates and why we finally had to buy and install one at the top of the stairs. She’s also the one who insisted on trying salsa as a toddler and wouldn’t stop crying about it until hubby gave her a bite … then resumed her crying when she realized it was as spicy as we said it’d be! E, on the other hand, would’ve heeded our warning the first time we gave it (I think he only tried salsa recently!).

That said, E and C are very people. And different people have different strengths and weaknesses. They also have different needs.

E needs lots of downtime and touch, so after school I’ll sit with him on the couch as I work and he reads or plays on the iPad. I’ve gotten used to him resting his foot on my leg or sitting close enough so our knees touch. He does his thing and I do mine and he’ll occasionally pause to show me a cool app he downloaded or ask me to choose a robot for him to use in a game.

C needs attention, but action, too. For her we’ll snuggle together for a bit, then play a board game or cards. She’ll draw pictures and have me color them. When we sit together on the couch, it’s more face-to-face so she can tell me—in great detail—about her day. I know all about who likes who in her 2nd grade class (man, are kids maturing faster these days or what?!) and what they ate for so-and-so’s birthday celebration (the last one was Oreo cookies in 2 flavors).

And because our munchkins are so different, we encourage and discipline them in different ways, too. We are a little more lax with E since he’s so rule-based already, but are a bit more strict with C because (as hubby understands all too well), she tends to push the limits. We push E more to try new things because he likes to play it safe (hm, I wonder where he got that from?), and we support C whenever she has a new interest (her latest thing? spy gadgets!).

So I totally understand now what the good doctor was saying about treating each one of his kids differently. It’s not because we love one more or less or want to show grace more to one than the other. It’s because we’re trying to love and nurture them in the specific ways they need to be loved and nurtured so they have the best chances of becoming the man and woman God intended them to be.

I like how this parenting article I read recently put it (it’s one of the best I’ve read, seriously!): “If we are in tune with the characteristics that make our child unique, we will have a better understanding of when they may need additional support, and when and where they will thrive.”

I love how the writer used the word thrive. Sure, the first step we parents need to do is to keep our tiny humans alive. But hopefully, with God’s grace, we can move beyond that to help them do more than survive: To thrive.

Take a listen to Shawn Hook & Kurt Hugo Schneider’s cover of Hercules’ “Go the Distance”. May we help our kids to go the distance in life.

What kind of parenting style did you receive and how did it help or hinder your growth?

When You Can’t Take Things Too Personally as a Parent

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. We artistic types can be a little sensitive. Here’s a visual of what that looks like (and a throwback to one of my favorite shows from my twenties, haha). 😉

Meme courtesy of https://memegenerator.net/Dawson-Crying

This is the first meme I ever made! (Meme courtesy of https://memegenerator.net/Dawson-Crying)

I think there’s a logical explanation for this. Creative people—whether they be artists, writers, actors, singers or dancers—feel a lot and what they feel comes out in their various forms of art. That’s why when we hear a catchy song, watch a moving performance, or read a beautiful piece of writing, it touches something within us and makes us feel, too. And to make someone feel something you feel takes a bit of talent and hard work, of course, but most of all it requires a sensitive soul.

That’s why artists can be a little too sensitive sometimes for their own good. Take for example the author who got hung up over the fact that during her last free book promotion, she discovered not one, but TWO people had returned her book, even though it had been free. FREE, I tell you! Who returns something they got for free?! Either someone who accidentally downloaded it twice (totally wishful thinking here) or someone who disliked the story THAT much. (Insert Dawson’s crying face here! :P)

Well, I’ve had a few days to have my #authorpityparty and commiserate with other authors who had the same thing happen to them. (I’m sooo glad it’s not just me!) And the one thing I’ve learned? You just can’t take things too personally sometimes, even if you’re an artist.

But this applies even more when you’re a parent.

Have you heard of the saying, “Your child is not giving you a hard time, he’s having a hard time“? Take a minute and let that soak in because they’re some wise words every parent needs to remember all the time. If I could rewind back to when my first munchkin was born, I’d print that statement out in big, bold letters and post it in every room of the house. And the car. And maybe even on my kids’ shirts, so that every time they did something that made me want to pull my hair out and cry, I would’ve remembered to not take it so personally. Because honestly, so much about parenting has to do with them and not us.

When they have a meltdown in the middle of the store, it’s not because they want to make you look and feel like a bad parent, it’s more likely because they’re tired or hungry or bored. When they huff and puff and storm off to their room and slam the door, it’s not because they want to undermine your authority (okay, maybe a little?), it’s because they’re frustrated and angry and overwhelmed by their emotions. In short, they’re having a hard time, not trying to give you a hard time.

During my kids’ hard times, I often have to remind myself to step outside of the situation and see things from their perspective. I find that I parent better when I don’t take their behavior personally. When I try to figure out what they’re having a hard time with, I respond with less anger and yelling and more patience and understanding. It’s no longer a case of me versus them, it’s me with them. And when you’re on the same side as your child, it’s easier to listen and love them.

Of course this doesn’t mean you can’t have your #parentpityparty afterwards. Parents have feelings, too, and we need to take care of ourselves, especially when we’ve been investing our energy into little people. So what can you do with all the emotions you have? Hmm. Maybe try something artsy? Just be forewarned … us artistic types can be a little sensitive. 😉

I’m loving this group I discovered on YouTube recently, the Gardiner Sisters. Take a listen to their lovely cover of Dan + Shay’s song, “Lately”.

How do you not take things too personally in your personal or professional lives?