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Loving: Winter 2021

Happy Winter! Below are a few things I have been loving this winter, thus far!

1. Spirit Junkie Cards — I love these cards, by Gabrielle Bernstein, that I recently got, which features beautiful watercolor illustrations and empowering messages, which provides great inspiration.

2. Honeymoon Glow Serum — I have been using this serum for about a month, now. It is a night serum that hydrates and resurfaces skin. It is wonderful, with a hint of honey smell — I highly recommend this serum.

3. Hatch Baby — We got this Hatch Baby Rest Sound Machine, Night Light and Time-to-Rise for Alex, and she loves it. It contains all different types of sounds, to select from, and different color lights for night lights, which are all controlled by your phone/ipad. Alex loves the Hatch, and we love it, too, as it helps alert us all when it is time for bed/nap, along with a light color change to alert Alex when it is ok to get up! It is great! And, as an added bonus, we are getting a little extra sleep!

4. Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May — I began reading this book recently, after listening to a podcast. May explores how we relate to the painful periods in our lives —and what we can gain from normalizing the need to rest and tend to our wounds. May shares what changed for her when she allowed herself to see sadness as a need and not something to run from. For example, it helped her stop feeling addicted to productivity and busyness and begin to let go of the need to control everything. “We have got to stop feeling responsible for controlling our lives because that attempt is devastating us,” she says. “And it’s a lie—we just cannot do it.” 

5. Boll and Branch Sheets  — I had heard really good reviews of these sheets, for some time, and I decided to get a set for us, recently, and I absolutely love them! They are the best sheets I have ever slept on! I think we are both sleeping better at night, as a result! I highly recommend.

6. Hanna Anderson Unders—  We recently started potty training, and I love these underwear, and so does Alex! They hold up well, just like their clothes line, and they are super soft and comfortable.

You can view other things I love here!

What’s Your Word for 2021?

I hope you had a nice Holiday. We had some down time with our girls, which was nice. I am still catching up on everything from the Holidays and the start of potty training, which is going well. And, I cannot believe our little girl is already two-and-a-half-years-old! She is growing in every way and she loves learning. Since COVID-19 has impacted her birthday last year, and likely again this year, we are celebrating half birthdays with Alex!

It is a new year, which means there has been much talk about fresh beginnings. For me, I keep things simple and I select a word for the year.

I have reflected on my word for this year: grace.  Last year I chose bliss; in 2019 the word embrace; in 2018 the word peace; in 2017 I chose relax; in 2016 I chose present; in 2015 I chose flow; in 2014 I chose trust; and in 2013 I chose the word create.  The idea of picking an intention has worked well over the past few years. 

I have nothing against resolutions (or goals, or plans, or to-do lists), but for me, I have found the most impactful way to embrace a new year is to pick a word — just one word — to keep in mind.

As 2020 came to an end, I kept thinking back to an Aristotle quote, “The ideal man bears the accidents of life with dignity and grace, making the best of circumstances.” I know personally, we are making the best of our circumstances in light of COVID-19 and the current climate in our country. Many people lost a lot in 2020. I love this quote from Rumi, “Don’t grieve. Anything you lose comes round in another form.” I am trusting that what we lost will come back in its own time, in a different form, when we are ready to receive it.

Currently, we are just doing our best to get through this seemingly long winter with a little person. So, I am giving myself more grace, as things have not been and are not typical right now for anyone. I believe grace meets you right where you are on your journey. We are so grateful for our health and that a COVID-19 vaccine is here. And, I have found that having a gratitude practice is invaluable right now — the smallest things bring such joy.

For me, it is an easy reminder to take whatever small steps I can to create clarity and feel better. For anyone similarly overwhelmed by resolutions, I recommend the practice of a New Year’s Word. Plus, since it is so simple, you can change it at any time.

Happy New Year!

Happy Pawlidays!

“I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love. For me, they are the role model for being alive.” — Gilda Radner

Happy Pawlidays! I wanted to thank you so very much for checking in over the past year — I am very grateful. I know it has been a year filled with much uncertainty.

Below is the front of our Pawliday card (the back of our card containing text is not pictured) along with our matching envelopes using little photo seals of our beautiful girls, Alex and Victory! Unfortunately, custom stamps are no longer permitted by the Post Office; and I know the mail is moving much slower this year. (You can view our previous Pawliday cards hereherehereherehereherehere, and here).  Sending our Pawliday card is one of my favorite parts of the Holiday season!   This is my way of sharing our Pawliday card with you.  Thank you for reading this blog for however long or short you have been reading.  I sincerely enjoy creating content for the blog to share with you.

I will be taking a break from the blog to enjoy some down time with our little family, and I plan to be back to the blog sometime early next year.  Meanwhile, if you are in a blog-reading mood, you are warmly invited to visit the archives — the links are shown below.  Warmest wishes to you for a safe and Happy Holidays!

Dog Related posts

Dog Rescue posts

‘Dog-Centric’ Artists Interviews

For Artists posts

Photography posts

Personal posts

Victory Related posts

Winter Solstice

Today is the shortest (darkest) day of the year in North America. For us, the sun will set at 4:48 p.m.

But, the good news is, the days will now get brighter each day for the rest of the winter. So, if you can make it through today, you will be all set!

Also, we recently came across these wonderful, premium dog treats by Give Pet that supports shelter dogs, and I wanted to share about them, so you can help shelter dogs as well.  We ordered three bags of these treats for Victory, and she loved them, and it helps a cause near and dear to our hearts!  So please support this brand and cause, especially during this pandemic, if you feel so inclined!

Creating a Christmas Memory Tree

While growing up, in my family, we each got an ornament every year through at least college, perhaps through graduate school, I cannot quite remember. I have started the same tradition in our family, creating a family memory tree — a live, living scrapbook. I love documenting our family in photographs, and I love the idea of documenting our life on our tree, creating lasting memories. Long before Alex was born, I have been collecting unique ornaments from the places we have traveled, while also just coming across unique ornaments over the years.

Since Alex was born, I have four types of ornaments I get each year for our Christmas tree: (1) one for Alex, and I try to get one with a date on it, marking each year; (2) one for our family, and I also try to get one with a date located on it; (3) one for Victory; and (4) one photo ornament of the girls together, usually with Santa, but a Santa visit is not happening this year, so I have a photo ornament of the girls together. It is actually a lot of fun, and there are so many places online to get unique ornaments. It does not take too much effort, but it is well worth the effort, for years to come, in my opinion. I usually get our ornaments in the fall each year, commemorating that year.

It is a fun endeavor, and I try to get ornaments that represent a theme for that year, if possible. This year, we got a personalized ornament of Alex swimming, since she really loved swimming this year; a personalized COVID-19 family ornament; a glass sheltie ornament for Victory; and a photo ornament of the girls together, all pictured below.

Alex is beginning to understand the concept of Christmas, and she loves doing the Advent calendar with Victory each evening; she really enjoyed helping us decorate our tree, and we got a larger tree this year, compared to previous Christmas trees; and it will be fun for Alex to pick out her own ornaments, as she grows older, which she will have to share with her kids someday. Most of all, it will be fun, for years to come, to pull out the ornaments, reminisce, and decorate our family tree, containing so many memories!

And, our little loves by our Christmas tree this year.

There has been so much change for Alex in a relatively short period of time — five months; seventeen months; and almost twenty-nine months, pictured below!

How Will You Stay Cheerful this Winter?

The other day, I was talking with Doug, and we noticed that you can really feel it in the air that winter is approaching. It feels like it will be a long and dark winter this year. During COVID-19, we have had the luxury of pretty good weather, for the most part, which has allowed us to be outside for a good bit of time. We have recently ordered new winter coats, gloves, and hats, for everyone, as going outside with Alex (and Victory) will really be our only outlet for activity, outside our home, due to COVID-19.

Since we do not feel comfortable being indoors outside of our home, this winter will test our limits and force us to become really creative. Here are a few ideas to help get through the winter, outlined below.

1. Take a steaming bath.  During the colder months, I take a bath just to warm my body — and then another one before bed. I love this bubble bath.

2. Light candles everywhere. Keep candles flickering in your bedroom, living room, home office, and dinner table, whether they are scented numbers or classic tapers. Since we are home much more, I always have candles burning, and I especially love these.

3. Host a virtual group. My friends and I have been doing Zoom and FaceTime, since we are not able to get together in person due to COVID. It is a nice way to actually see and catch up with friends and family, and it is usually fairly easy to find a time that works for everyone.

4. Walk, walk, walk. It is amazing how moving your body actually makes you feel better, even when you initially don’t feel up for it! I try to walk either outside or on our Peloton tread most days, and it really makes a difference in how I feel.

5. Keep an open mind. During this time, it is amazing how flexible and open you must become. So, staying flexible makes everything easier versus resisting.

Snapshot: Fall 2020

It has been a busy fall here, despite COVID-19. We have been taking advantage of the fall weather to get out and about, in a safe manner, before it gets too cold and winter really sets in! And, I am doing my best to stay on top of editing our photos, which is not so easy, but it will be my gift to Alex someday.

Alex got a new balance bike as a gift, this fall, from her Grandma and Grandpa, which she enjoys! We also got her a big wheel type bike, which she can peddle. Alex is a very active little girl! We are doing yoga with her, which she throughly enjoys, and she does a great downward dog!

We made multiple trips to the Maryland Zoo and the Catoctin Wildlife Preserve, which Alex loves! She greatly enjoys seeing and naming the animals, and she especially loves feeding the animals! Now, when we read her books, she tells us all the animals she has seen at the zoo! We also went to the apple orchard to pick apples, which Alex enjoyed! We took Alex back to the petting farm, and she enjoyed all of the animals and activities, including riding a horse! We, of course, went to the pumpkin patch, and annual tradition, with our fur girl, Victory! We also took the girls, recently, to a contactless dinosaur exhibit, which was a great hit with Alex, and it was so fun to bring Victory with us, too!

Additionally, this fall, Doug designed and built a custom train table to run his Lionel trains! He did a great job! It has been a long-awaited goal, which has, finally, come to fruition! Doug can continue to share his love of trains with Alex!

We also celebrated Victory’s ninth birthday! We celebrated Halloween with the girls, and they were matching Crayola red crayons! Doug carved our annual Halloween pumpkin, and Alex did “contactless trick-or-treating” in our neighborhood! She walked for two hours straight! She was a trooper! Alex had no idea what she was finding, the candy at the houses, which we tossed when we got home! She had fun on her Halloween scavenger hunt, nonetheless!

I cannot believe it is the end of November already! Doug is cooking our Thanksgiving dinner — I am sure Alex will help prepare our dinner, which she affectionately refers to as “cookin!” Over Thanksgiving, we are planning to also put up and decorate our Christmas tree, including putting up other Holiday decorations! Alex is learning about Christmas, so this is our first Christmas together where she is beginning to understand this concept! We got advent calendars for both of our girls: one is filled with little pieces of chocolate; and the other contains little dog treats! So, I know that will be a hit with the girls next month as they count down to Christmas!

Alex is changing all of the time, and it is amazing to witness! She is becoming an independent little girl who is dressing herself and putting on her shoes and coat all by herself! Alex and Victory are each living their best life! We hope that you have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving! We are grateful for our many blessings, even though things look and feel a lot different this year.

A few photos from our fall are shown below!

A Dying Mother’s Letter to Her Daughters

What would you tell your young children if you knew you were dying? What would you want them to know? For Julie Yip-Williams, the answer is funny, tender, and astonishing…it brought tears to my eyes.

Julie was born blind in Vietnam. She narrowly escaped euthanasia at the hands of her grandmother, fled political upheaval with her family to Hong Kong, and then came to America, where a surgeon gave her partial sight. Working to create a happy ending, she became a Harvard-educated lawyer, married a wonderful man and had two little girls. Then, at age 37, she was diagnosed with terminal metastatic colon cancer. In her memoir, The Unwinding of the Miracle, Julie tells the incredible story of her life, and writes this final letter to her two beloved daughters.

Dear Mia and Isabelle,

I have solved all the logistical problems resulting from my death that I can think of — I am hiring a very reasonably priced cook for you and Daddy; I have left a list of instructions about who your dentist is and when your school tuition needs to be paid and when to renew the violin rental contract and the identity of the piano tuner. In the coming days, I will make videos about all the ins and outs of the apartment, so that everyone knows where the air filters are and what kind of dog food Chipper eats. But I realized that these things are the low-hanging fruit, the easy-to-solve but relatively unimportant problems of the oh so mundane.

I realized that I would have failed you greatly as your mother if I did not try to ease your pain from my loss, if I didn’t at least attempt to address what will likely be the greatest question of your young lives. You will forever be the kids whose mother died of cancer, have people looking at you with some combination of sympathy and pity (which you will no doubt resent, even if everyone means well). That fact of your mother dying will weave into the fabric of your lives like a glaring stain on an otherwise pristine tableau. You will ask as you look around at all the other people who still have their parents, Why did my mother have to get sick and die? It isn’t fair, you will cry. And you will want so painfully for me to be there to hug you when your friend is mean to you, to look on as your ears are being pierced, to sit in the front row clapping loudly at your music recitals, to be that annoying parent insisting on another photo with the college graduate, to help you get dressed on your wedding day, to take your newborn babe from your arms so you can sleep. And every time you yearn for me, it will hurt all over again and you will wonder why.

I don’t know if my words could ever ease your pain. But I would be remiss if I did not try.

My seventh-grade history teacher, Mrs. Olson, a batty eccentric but a phenomenal teacher, used to rebut our teenage protestations of “That’s not fair!” (for example, when she sprang a pop quiz on us or when we played what was called the “Unfair” trivia game) with “Life is not fair. Get used to it!” Somehow, we grow up thinking that there should be fairness, that people should be treated fairly, that there should be equality of treatment as well as opportunity. That expectation must be derived from growing up in a rich country where the rule of law is so firmly entrenched. Even at the tender age of five, both of you were screaming about fairness as if it were some fundamental right (as in it wasn’t fair that Belle got to go to see a movie when Mia did not). So perhaps those expectations of fairness and equity are also hardwired into the human psyche and our moral compass. I’m not sure.

What I do know for sure is that Mrs. Olson was right. Life is not fair. You would be foolish to expect fairness, at least when it comes to matters of life and death, matters outside the scope of the law, matters that cannot be engineered or manipulated by human effort, matters that are distinctly the domain of God or luck or fate or some other unknowable, incomprehensible force.

Although I did not grow up motherless, I suffered in a different way and understood at an age younger than yours that life is not fair. I looked at all the other kids who could drive and play tennis and who didn’t have to use a magnifying glass to read, and it pained me in a way that maybe you can understand now. People looked at me with pity, too, which I loathed. I was denied opportunities, too; I was always the scorekeeper and never played in the games during PE. My mother didn’t think it worthwhile to have me study Chinese after English school, as my siblings did, because she assumed I wouldn’t be able to see the characters. (Of course, later on, I would study Chinese throughout college and study abroad and my Chinese would surpass my siblings’.) For a child, there is nothing worse than being different, in that negative, pitiful way. I was sad a lot. I cried in my lonely anger. Like you, I had my own loss, the loss of vision, which involved the loss of so much more. I grieved. I asked why. I hated the unfairness of it all.

My sweet babies, I do not have the answer to the question of why, at least not now and not in this life. But I do know that there is incredible value in pain and suffering, if you allow yourself to experience it, to cry, to feel sorrow and grief, to hurt. Walk through the fire and you will emerge on the other end, whole and stronger. I promise. You will ultimately find truth and beauty and wisdom and peace. You will understand that nothing lasts forever, not pain, or joy. You will understand that joy cannot exist without sadness. Relief cannot exist without pain. Compassion cannot exist without cruelty. Courage cannot exist without fear. Hope cannot exist without despair. Wisdom cannot exist without suffering. Gratitude cannot exist without deprivation. Paradoxes abound in this life. Living is an exercise in navigating within them.

I was deprived of sight. And yet, that single unfortunate physical condition changed me for the better. Instead of leaving me wallowing in self-pity, it made me more ambitious. It made me more resourceful. It made me smarter. It taught me to ask for help, to not be ashamed of my physical shortcoming. It forced me to be honest with myself and my limitations, and eventually to be honest with others. It taught me strength and resilience.

You will be deprived of a mother. As your mother, I wish I could protect you from the pain. But also as your mother, I want you to feel the pain, to live it, embrace it, and then learn from it. Be stronger people because of it, for you will know that you carry my strength within you. Be more compassionate people because of it; empathize with those who suffer in their own ways. Rejoice in life and all its beauty because of it; live with special zest and zeal for me. Be grateful in a way that only someone who lost her mother so early can, in your understanding of the precariousness and preciousness of life. This is my challenge to you, my sweet girls, to take an ugly tragedy and transform it into a source of beauty, love, strength, courage, and wisdom.

Many may disagree, but I have always believed, always, even when I was a precocious little girl crying alone in my bed, that our purpose in this life is to experience everything we possibly can, to understand as much of the human condition as we can squeeze into one lifetime, however long or short that may be. We are here to feel the complex range of emotions that come with being human. And from those experiences, our souls expand and grow and learn and change, and we understand a little more about what it really means to be human. I call it the evolution of the soul. Know that your mother lived an incredible life that was filled with more than her “fair” share of pain and suffering, first with her blindness and then with cancer. And I allowed that pain and suffering to define me, to change me, but for the better.

In the years since my diagnosis, I have known love and compassion that I never knew possible; I have witnessed and experienced for myself the deepest levels of human caring, which humbled me to my core and compelled me to be a better person. I have known a mortal fear that was crushing, and yet I overcame that fear and found courage. The lessons that blindness and then cancer have taught me are too many for me to recount here, but I hope, when you read what follows, you will understand how it is possible to be changed in a positive way by tragedy and you will learn the true value of suffering. The worth of a person’s life lies not in the number of years lived; rather it rests on how well that person has absorbed the lessons of that life, how well that person has come to understand and distill the multiple, messy aspects of the human experience. While I would have chosen to stay with you for much longer had the choice been mine, if you can learn from my death, if you accepted my challenge to be better people because of my death, then that would bring my spirit inordinate joy and peace.

You will feel alone and lonely, and yet, understand that you are not alone. It is true that we walk this life alone, because we feel what we feel singularly and each of us makes our own choices. But it is possible to reach out and find those like you, and in so doing you will feel not so lonely. This is another one of life’s paradoxes that you will learn to navigate. First and foremost, you have each other to lean on. You are sisters, and that gives you a bond of blood and common experiences that is like no other. Find solace in one another. Always forgive and love one another. Then there’s Daddy. Then there are Titi and Uncle Mau and Aunt Nancy and Aunt Caroline and Aunt Sue and so many dear friends, all of whom knew and loved me so well — who think of you and pray for you and worry about you. All of these people’s loving energy surrounds you so that you will not feel so alone.

And last, wherever I may go, a part of me will always be with you. My blood flows within you. You have inherited the best parts of me. Even though I won’t physically be here, I will be watching over you.

Sometimes, when you practice your instruments, I close my eyes so I can hear better. And when I do, I am often overcome with this absolute knowing that whenever you play the violin or the piano, when you play it with passion and commitment, the music with its special power will beckon me and I will be there. I will be sitting right there, pushing you to do it again and again and again, to count, to adjust your elbow, to sit properly. And then I will hug you and tell you how you did a great job and how very proud I am of you. I promise. Even long after you have chosen to stop playing, I will still come to you in those extraordinary and ordinary moments in life when you live with a complete passion and commitment. It might be while you’re standing atop a mountain, marveling at exceptional beauty and filled with pride in your ability to reach the summit, or when you hold your baby in your arms for the first time or when you are crying because someone or something has broken your tender heart or maybe when you’re miserably pulling an all-nighter for school or work. Know that your mother once felt as you feel and that I am there hugging you and urging you on. I promise.

I have often dreamed that when I die, I will finally know what it would be like to see the world without visual impairment, to see far into the distance, to see the minute details of a bird, to drive a car. Oh, how I long to have perfect vision, even after all these years without. I long for death to make me whole, to give me what was denied me in this life. I believe this dream will come true. Similarly, when your time comes, I will be there waiting for you, so that you, too, will be given what was lost to you. I promise. But in the meantime, live, my darling babies. Live a life worth living. Live thoroughly and completely, thoughtfully, gratefully, courageously, and wisely. Live!

I love you both forever and ever, to infinity, through space and time. Never ever forget that.


Interview, A. Kidd, Writer

Interview with A. Kidd, Writer

Recently, I had the opportunity and pleasure of interviewing A. Kidd, a writer who lives in Michigan with her husband and daughter. She recently wrote and published a book entitled, The Healing Star.  You can learn more about A. Kidd here.

KATHEIRNE CARVER: You recently wrote The Healing Star, a novel, for young readers.  Can you provide a glimpse of what your novel is about, which includes a dog?

A. KIDD: Stars with healing powers are falling from the sky. Feisty 4th grader Julia is trying to catch one to save her grandmother’s life. Grammu, who Julia calls her cosmic twin, has the invisibly illness and will eventually completely disappear. The town itself is feeling hopeless because of this mysterious disease. A great read during the pandemic about how to find hope during difficult times. Julia’s faithful sidekick is a farting beagle with extra-long ears named Petie who accompanies her on her journey to find the mysterious ladder to the stars. 

KATHERINE CARVER: How did your journey lead you to becoming a writer?

A. KIDD: I actually started telling stories around age four, before I could even write. My mom wrote them down for me while I drew the pictures. In high school I actually wrote my first picture book in Spanish class. Imagine trying to write in a language you aren’t actually fluent in! In college, I participated in performance poetry, which really helped me learn how to tell a story. I enjoyed the immediate feedback as well. I studied journalism, which taught me research skills. I also liked interviewing people and getting to know their stories. But one day I covered a poetry open mic and realized I wanted to be part of it, not writing about the event. I went to graduate school to be a children’s librarian.  It was inspiring being around all those books! Then one day I took a leap of faith and wrote my own book!

KATHERINE CARVER: What artists/writers inspire you?

I’m inspired by authors Sharon Creech, Francesca Lia Block, and Jandy Nelson for their use of lyrical and poetic language. They each have a unique writing style. I’m impressed by their ability to create relatable characters and intriguing stories while also captivating readers with their words.

KATHERINE CARVER: Do you have any rituals and/or practice that you implement while writing?

A. KIDD: I start with research first, because it’s less intimidating and can help spark ideas. I also reread the previous chapter before moving to the next chapter, to reorient myself to the story. Sometimes I actually stop in the middle of a sentence so that it will be easier to begin again the next day. I also believe in working in time blocks where you reward yourself at the end of a session with a short break or treat.

KATHERINE CARVER: Do you have any favorite, go-to books for inspiration?

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield helps remind me that I’m a professional writer, no matter what stage I’m at. Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg is comforting to read, because it shares writing tips in the form of poems. It’s essentially sharing craft while teaching it. Wired for Story by Lisa Cron shows you how to write in a way that will connect with readers down to their very core. 

KATHERINE CARVER: How do you not let fear hinder you from beginning a new endeavor?

A. KIDD: Fear is always with me, like a little bird on my shoulder. I let it talk, but I don’t let it stop me from pursuing my dreams. I use the same tactics I mentioned above to trick myself into starting something new or continuing the work. Since I now have a three-year-old daughter, I don’t have the luxury of giving fear my time.  If I give into fear, I’ve lost not only a day’s work, but also money spent on a babysitter, and time I could have spent with my daughter. Also, I get a little braver with each task I accomplish. Deciding for myself that my book was finished and sending it out into the world has given me more confidence than ever. There is power in making your own choices and not asking for permission.

KATHERINE CARVER: What inspires you to keep going and what keeps you motivated daily?  

A. KIDD: I’m motivated by my life’s dream to be a children’s author. I feel like we all have a purpose in life, and I feel most fulfilled when I’m on my path, even on the hard days. I’m even more motivated by my young daughter. I want to create stories for her that will help her find her way in this complex world. With everything going on these days, I feel it is my responsibility to share my gifts and talents and try to make the world a little brighter. 

KATHERINE CARVER: How has becoming a mom impacted your creativity and writing?

A. KIDD: Being a mom creates both challenges and opportunities. Finding time to write and not feeling guilty about it is difficult. However, I want to show my daughter that mothers have their own aspirations too, and that it is important for everyone to contribute to society and do what they’re good at and what makes them happy. And honestly, I’ve never felt more creative. My daughter inspires me every day as she grows and learns about the world. I’m grateful to be there to witness it. It’s easier to get into the mindset of a child when you’re raising one. And I feel like sometimes she’s teaching me about life more than I’m teaching her. The story ideas just naturally flow from our day-to-day interactions.

KATHERINE CARVER: What is your favorite quote and why is this your favorite quote?

A. KIDD: I once heard children’s author Rachel Vail speak at a conference. She wrote a wonderful middle grade book called Justin Case about a boy who worries a lot. I can totally relate! She said, “Being brave is not the opposite of worry.” I never used to think of myself as brave since I didn’t like to do risky activities like skydiving or bungee jumping. But when I wanted to become a better writer, I got on a plane and went to a big national conference in Los Angeles all by myself without knowing anyone. I was scared, but I didn’t let it stop me from going. You don’t have to take every risk to be brave. You don’t have to be worry-free to be brave. I think true bravery is doing something you want to do even though it scares you. I always ask myself if something I’m afraid of is something I actually want to do. If the answer is no, then I don’t do it. But if the answer is yes, then I push myself to try.

KATHERINE CARVER: What are you currently working on now?

A. KIDD: I have a few projects in the works. One is a young adult dystopian science-fiction book about the fate of the environment told in dual perspectives. Another is a picture book that retells a Japanese myth but with a twist at the end.

KATHERINE CARVER: What advice do you have for living a creative life?

A. KIDD: Society will make you think that what you’re doing isn’t useful and that you should get a “real” job. But there is nothing more real or useful or needed in the world than art. Take small steps if you must, but attempt to incorporate some form of creativity into your daily life. A quote I love is by renowned poet Mary Oliver. She says, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” I try to ask myself that question every day and so should you.

KATHERINE CARVER: Where can people find your book? 

 To purchase:;; and

For signed copies, email:

Author page:

Loving: Fall 2020

Happy Autumn!  You can really feel that fall is here, despite the ongoing pandemic.  Below are a few things I have been recently loving this fall!

1. Caprina Body Wash — I love this body wash!  I discovered this brand while visiting Quebec a few years ago. Alex loves the bubble bath and the lotion is great, too. I really love the orchid scent, it smells really nice.

2. Ebeerjay Pjs — I do not recall exactly how I heard about this brand, but their pjs are fantastic. They are super soft and comfortable!

3. Hanna Anderson Shir— I get most of Alex’s clothes from Hanna Anderson, and we love this company. I love that they have solid, non-text, non-busy clothes, that are super soft and comfortable. I also get the girls matching Happy Hanna PJs for Christmas!

4. Filson Leash — For Victory’s birthday, we got her a new leash, and we love it! And, it compliments her fur coat nicely!

5. Dirt by Mary Marantz  — I love memoirs, and I really enjoyed reading this memoir by Mary Marantz. It was eye-opening and transformative to read her story.

6. The Osterholm Update: COVID 19 Podcast —  Doug got me started listening to this podcast. He has been an avid listener since the pandemic started. As a result, I started listening to this weekly podcast, and I am hooked. Dr. Michael Osterholm, the Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota, provides very informative and honest insights about the current COVID-19 pandemic. The topics are timely, insightful, informative, and interesting each week. I highly recommend this podcast.

You can view other things I love here!

Also, by the way, our Halloween post is updated with new photographs!