She Started It! The Woman Behind Father’s Day

She Started It! The Woman Behind Father’s Day

A Devotion To Dad

Hi everyone! Do you want to meet the woman who started Father’s Day? Sure you do.

Scoop the Reporter here with news from The Shady Pines Gazette office.Breaking News Father’s Day is coming up this weekend on Sunday, June 21st so my editor, Zulah Talmadge, gave me a fun assignment. She asked me to find out who came up with the idea of giving fathers their own special day.

I did some research and guess what I found out? It was started by an American woman. I’ve added a couple of pictures of her. They’re in black and white ’cause she lived a long time ago. Her name was Sonora Smart Dodd. She was born in Sebastian County in Arkansas in 1892. Her mother, Ellen Victoria Cheek Smart, died when Sonora was only 16 years old. That’s just a little older than me!

Dodd’s father was a Civil War veteran named, William Smart. When Sonora’s mom died giving birth to a sixth child, that left William Smart a widower. From then on he would have to raise six children on his own at their home in Spokane, Washington. Can you imagine this single dad having to raise six children by himself way back then?

When Sonora Dodd married and had kids of her own, she realized what a tremendous job her father had done in raising her and her and her brothers.

Honoring Her Dad

One Sunday in 1909 Sonora was listening to a Mother’s Day sermon with her father at the Central Methodist Church where they lived. Sonora got really upset. The way she saw it, her dad had worked so hard to to raise all his kids, so why wasn’t there a day to honor fathers? She decided to do something about that.

Dodd wanted the celebration to be held on June 5, her father’s birthday. Unfortunately, putting that plan into place ran into some difficulties. So the first Father’s Day celebration was pushed back to Sunday, June 19, 1910.

President Woodrow Wilson got behind the idea of celebrating Father’s Day in 1913 and visited Spokane to join the celebration in 1916. President Calvin Coolidge chimed in with his support in 1924, as well.

In 1957, US Senator Margaret Chase Smith from Maine introduced a bill to create a national day writing:  “Either we honour both our parents, mother and father, or let us stop honouring either one.” You see Senator Smith agreed with Sonora that to celebrate moms on a special day, but not dads, was just not right.

In 1966 President Lyndon Johnson, along with his wife and two daughters, signed a presidential proclamation declaring the third Sunday of June as Father’s Day. President Richard Nixon established a permanent national observance of the day in 1972.

Sonora Dodd died in 1978 at the age of 96. The mother-of-one was remembered as a children’s book author, sculptor, and a business owner. Her gravestone reads, ‘Founder of Father’s Day.’

To this day, you can visit her home in Spokane Washington.

There you have it. A grateful daughter way back in 1909 came up with the idea for Father’s Day. And, we’re still celebrating dads to this day.

What do you think of that?

Please Leave Us A Comment Below 

Survey Says!

Survey Says!


Shady Pines is a wonderful community filled with all sorts of story tellin’ characters. These human and animals of all ages and backgrounds help to inspire us to be our best selves.

They especially like to help kids discover how to make good choices in life.

But we know we need to bring that positive message to you in a way you can really use. As you guide your children through these complicated times, we want to be a trusted resource of love, laughter, and bedrock values.

Your kids deserve nothing but the best!

Will you please take a moment to answer this very simple survey? Just click on the SURVEY image. It’s very important that we deliver content that addresses the charactertraits you value most. It only takes a second.

We really appreciate your input and will let you know the results soon!



A Sherlock Holmes Mystery in Shady Pines

A Sherlock Holmes Mystery in Shady Pines


The calendar reads January 6th. You know what that means? It’s Sherlock Holmes’ birthday! He may be a crime fighting character out of books from a long time ago. But, through movies and television dramas people all over the world still follow this famous detective as he travels around London, England solving mysteries. In fact, Sherlock Holmes has a real fan living in Shady Pines Story Town.

When Edna Sanders looks out her kitchen window, all see sees is thick fog blanketing her home on Dogwood Drive across from Copy Cat Lane. “It’s dense as pea soup outside. Looks like I could be living in England. They have nothing but fog over there,” she thinks to herself.

Edna sips her morning coffee and reads the latest edition of The Shady Pines Gazette newspaper. On the second page near the bottom there’s an image and it says, ‘Happy Birthday Sherlock.’


Edna stares at the page. “Oh, golly. Oh, boy. This is great!” She claps her hands for joy. Edna is really excited. She’d forgotten what day it is. Her favorite detective of all time was born on Januray 6, 1861. Everyone knows how much Edna loves these stories. Why, one of her best friends just sent her a book for Christmas called, The Adventures of Sherlcok Holmes.

I’ve got to tell Boomer and Halley. Just then, an Australian Shepherd dog wanders in followed by a silver streak of a cat. “Good. There you are. I have big news to share,”says Edna.

Boomerang cocks his head to one side and wags his bobbed tail while Halley rubs against Edna’s leg.

“What’s up with mom?” asks Halley’s Comet.

Boomer is trying to figure that out. “I have no idea. Hope we get treats.”

Halley looks up. “Is that a book?”

“I dunno,” says Boomer.

Edna sits at the kitchen table stroking their heads. “Kids, today is Sherlock Holmes’ birthday.” Boomer and Halley just stare at one another. “Huh?”


“Let me get your chew bone Boomer, and Halley I’ll get you some tuna. Then, I’ll tell you all about him and his famous partner, Dr. Watson. He was a retired army officer, don’t you know.”

With both animals happily chewing and snacking, Edna contines. “You see kids, Sherlock Holmes is a character from books written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. His most famous story was The Hound of the Baskervilles.”

Edna pours herself another cup of coffee. Halley now snoozes on her window seat and Boomer and his bone are under the table. Edna is thinking of so many things. “Here’s the deal. Sherlock is a genius. He soves crimes no one else can figure out.  That’s what’s so fun! He’s also known for that tweed hat he wears, the pipe he smokes and the magnifying glass he uses to look for clues.”


Edna continues. “Sherlock lives and works out of his home at 221b Baker Street.” All of a sudden Edna stops talking.

“That’s it! In honor of his birthday I’m going to create a mystery right here in our house. I’ll leave clues all over the place and then when Harold gets home, you guys can help him solve the case.”

Edna is very pleased with herself. “I’d better call Harold and let him know what I have in mind.” The phone rings by the cash register at the check out desk.


“Nuts ‘N Bolts hardware. This is Harold, how may I help you?”

Edna clears her throat. “Hi honey. Are you having a good day?”

Harold know Edna very well. He can tell something’s up. “I everything all right, dear? Are the kids okay?”

“Yes. Everything’s fine. It’s well… you might want to be prepared to solve a mystery when you get home,” says Edna.

“EDNA!” says Harold.

“No, nothing bad,” says Edna quickly. “You’ll just need to use all your skills to figure things out. You know, like a really smart detective. Boomer and Halley will help.”

Harold shakes his head. “What? Oh, that makes it so much better.”

“Bye, honey. See ya later,” says Edna as she ends the call. She looks from Boomer to Halley then back again. “Kids, as first rate detectives, we’ve got a crime to create and solve. We must think like Sherlock Holmes. So, let’s get to it my dear, Watson!”

What’s Up with Advent Calendars?

What’s Up with Advent Calendars?

Time For Advent Calendars!

Oh, boy, the big day will be here soon. The countdown is on for Christmas and advent calendars are popping up everywhere. These are the calendars that kids love because they include a hidden treat or toy behind every day of the week from the first of December right up to Christmas Eve. Hi everyone, Zulah Talmadge with you for The Shady Pines Gazette News. Now that Thanksgiving is in our rear view mirror the holiday season is in full gear.  

What Is The Season of Advent?

Do you know about the Season of Advent and the reason why these calendars are fun for kids and adults alike? Let’s start at the beginning. Traditionally, the Season of Advent begins on the final Sunday in November and lasts into that third week in December.

It has been seen by Christians around the world as a way to get ready for the coming birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas. That’s why each day on an Avent Calendar is its own celebration to reflect the joy and hope of this very special season. You also may even see Avent Wreaths with four or five purple, pink and white candles. Like the calendars, these wreaths are also used to symbolize a scared time of year. Each candle has a separate meaning.

Typically, during the Season of Advent, one candle on the wreath is lit each Sunday as a part of Sunday church services. But you don’t have to be a practicing Christian to honor the spirit of Advent. The Advent Calender started in the mid-19th century when Germans marked the countdown to Christmas with chalk marks on doors or by lighting a candle.

Advent Calendars Are All Different

These days, most Advent Calendars have numbered paper doors or pockets that open to reveal an image, chocolate or other small object. Some of the folks here in Shady Pines Story Town will hide messages of kindness, caring and love behind those colorful doors.

There is no one way to make a calendar. They look as different as the people who create them. For instance, a long time ago you might have seen a really old fashioned calendar that looks like your great, great, grandmother might have made it. 

These days, there all kinds of Advent Calendars you can buy or make for yourself. But one thing remains the same. These holiday calendars are fun. And just like the spiritual theme of the season, they offer anticipation, hope and joy of discovery.

How to Use an Advent Calendar

Best of all, for parents, it’s something  you can use to keep the kids busy and a way to promote conversation around issues you might want to discuss.

We did a story for The Gazette not long ago about parents and grandparents who are concerned that kids are more focused on getting toys, video games and stuff for Christmas, rather than what they can do for others in need.

It’s normal for kids to get so excited while wating for Christmas to arrive. But, in 2020 with many of our neighbors going through hard times, consider using an Advent Calendar to focus those young people in your life on what you and your family values most.

That’s what we try to do each and every day here in the small Southern town of Shady Pines!

Election Stress During Kindness Week

Election Stress During Kindness Week


I want you to know about two events that are happening at the same time. You really should be paying attention to both. Zulah Talmage with you from The Shady Pines Gazette news team. On the one hand, our nation is still waiting to hear the results of the 2020 presidential election. Unlike other elections, this one is taking a long time.

So many people voted by mail, it’s taking a good deal of time to count all those additional votes. Volunteers are working around the clock to make sure they do everything they can to be accurate about the vote totals.

Meanwhile, people are marching in the streets to demonstrate to officials how importat they feel it is their vote be counted. It’s clear that a lot of voters are really stressed out right now. They desperately want to find out as soon as possible whether their candidate won.


At the same time all that’s happening, we’re heading into International Kindness Week. It wraps up next Friday, November 13th. That day is known as World Kindness Day. This week people all over the world are being asked to pay attention to the way they act and speak to one another. One of the slogans you might hear is this: “If you can’t find a kind person – be one.” Isn’t that great? Here’s another one: “In a world where you can be anything, Be Kind.”

Listen, I get it. Scoop, The Cub Reporter and I have been all over Shady Pines Story Town covering this election. People have very strong ideas about who should be our next president. You’ll meet people who’ll tell you all the reasons why we should re-elect our current president, Donald Trump.

Then just like that, you’ll bump into someone else who thinks the country needs a different direction. They will tell you in no uncertain terms why former Vice President, Joe Biden, is the right man for the job. Because emotions are so high, we sometimes forget to consider that eveyone is concerned about how this election will be decided. We tend to forget that just like everyone’s vote counts, so do their opinions – even if we don’t agree with them.

As this week, or weeks go along, Scoop and I will continue to cover all the twists and turns that this year’s presidential election will throw our way. There will probably be calls for states to hold re-counts of votes and who-knows-what else? 2020 has been an unusual year, and there’s no reason to expect a “normal” election, is there?

But along with all the election madness, we know it will come to an end. It may not be the result you were hoping for when you cast your ballot. 

We need to remember that our co-workers, friends, neighbors and family members feel strongly about the candidate they wanted to win. So, since this is International Kindness Week and all, maybe we can focus on compassion. We don’t want to lose and neither does anyone else.

This week, like every week in Shady Pines, kindness and caring can go a long way!

Let’s Go to the Pumpkin Patch

Let’s Go to the Pumpkin Patch

Get The Scoop from the Pumpkin Patch

Fall is such a wonderful time of year in Shady Pines. Everywhere you look there’s an explosion of color.  And I really like the cooler weather, don’t you? I’m Scoop the Cub Reporter for The Shady Pines Gazette.

With Halloween just around the corner, a lot of folks are off to the local Pumpkin Patch.  I’m headed that way right now. My assignment is to discover why so many folks say this is one of their favorite things to do each year as a family.

One thing I’ve noticed is that from toddlers to teens, like myself, a pumpkin patch is fun for everyone. First of all, you get some exercise and you’re outside.

And, most of these working farms are so big you don’t have to worry about social distancing. You should bring your mask along anyway. At some point you will have to pay for the pumpkins you’re going to take home. That puts you close to the person who checks you out. Okay, I’m here. I’ve gotta interview people.

One mom I met told said, “If your kids don’t explore the outdoors very often, this is a great way for them to discover nature. Seeing how pumpkins grow out of the ground and are attached to vines is very educational. It helps them understand that pumpkins don’t just show up at the grocery store automatically.”

I can already see for myself that this is one place where children can run around and discover things for themselves. That’s really important. I know I like to find those unexpected, special, moments. For instance, take a look at this shot I got. Do you see the colors of that butterfly next to the pumpkin? Being out on the farm you can just be amazed at Mother Nature. I think this kind of stuff is really cool!

I met another mom who told me, “From the second we arrived, my children ran off with smiles, but quickly, they realized how much work it was to be in a field of pumpkins. Even running took work since the vines were everywhere, waiting to trip little, toddler-sized running feet.”

It turns out that not only is this a great way to spend time with the family, there are also some lessons to be learned. There aren’t a whole bunch of people working the farms these days. So a lot of  kids don’t realize it takes hard work to be a farmer. One young girl I met was getting a little taste of that. Just trying to push a wheelbarrow with a big ‘ole pumpkin was something she hadn’t done before. The other thing she said was that she didn’t know pumpkins grew from tiny seeds. She also didn’t realize that they come in so many shapes, sizes and colors. “It’s kinda like people, isn’t it?” she asked.

I have to admit, I’d never thought of that before.  It seems there are a lot of things to find in the pumpkin patch. One couple I met said they love coming out here each October. But this year it was especially important to them. “We know so many farms and other small businesses are struggling right now because of the pandemic. It was important to us to come out and support them.”

That’s reason enought for me to go home with some pumpkins of my own. I don’t know about you, but our family usually has a pumpkin carving contest. Last year my dad won. It’s time for me to take the title back! The other reason I need to pick up some pumpkins is to inspire my mom. Around Halloween she likes to scare up some pumpkin dishes for us. I’m talking about everything from pumpkin pies to pumpkin pancakes. Here are some recipes for you to try: PUMPKIN RECIPES

There’s one more thing I want to mention.

These pumpkin patch visits make for some great family photos. Everywhere I look I’m seeing parents taking all sorts of shots.

Oh, look at the time. I’ve got to get back to the Gazette office. My editor, Zulah Talmadge, is probably wondering why I’ve been gone so long.  But this is just so darn much fun. Hope you’ve enjoyed it!

– Scoop out.


Batten Down the Hatches

Batten Down the Hatches

Batten down the hatches it’s coming! Oh sure, it’s calm in Shady Pines right now. But if the folks who forecast the weather are right, later this evening the small Southern town could be dealing with a hurricane.

‘Ole Tropical Storm Isaias is battering the Florida coast and heading this way. It’s expected to pick up steam and get even stronger by the time it arrives.

Living in the South means you get used to dealing with strong storms. When you live anywhere close to the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico during hurricane season, it’s stomething you learn to expect from June ’til the end of November.

But this year, with a pandemic and all, it’s just the kind of thing no one needs.

Over on Dogwood Drive across from Copy Cat Lane, Edna Sanders is getting ready. She’s already put all the back and front porch furniture into the garage so they won’t blow away.

Next, she makes sure to pick up the planters with thier beautiful flowers and bring them inside, too.

“I sure don’t want to see anything happen to them,” says Edna to herself.” It  seems like this Isaias fellow is something we need to take seriously.”

While she’s doing all this, her Australian Shepherd dog, Boomerang, follows her around.

“Boom, are trying to help?

At the sound of his name, the sweet dog drops he bone he’d been carrying around and looks right at her. He wags his bobbed tail.


Edna laughs. “That’s what I thought. She reaches down and gives him a big hug. “You are the best helper a gal could ever want. What do you say we go into the kitchen? I need to make a list of the food, water, and other supplies we’re going to need.”

As Edna and her faithful companion enter the kitchen, Edna looks around. “Boomer, where’s Halley? I don’t think I’ve seen her in hours.” Just then, a silver and white cat jumps down from her window seat and strolls across the room. Halley’s Comet rubs against Edna’s leg, a sure sign she wants some attention. Edna picks her up and hugs and kisses her.

“There you are,” says Edna. “I knew you had to be around here somewhere.”

Boomer growls gently.

“Oh, keep quiet you overgrown furball,” says Halley.

“Halley, you are such a pain. Mom and I have been working to get ready for the storm. And what have you done to help? Nothing.”

“Boomer, you know darn well that I will pitch in when the time comes.”

“And what time will that be, exactly?” asks Boomer.

“When it’s the right time.” says Halley.

Edna’s husband, Harold, owns the Nuts ‘N Bolts hardware store on Main Street downtown. He left for work early this morning knowing it would be busy with people grabbing last-minute items.

They’ll nee flash lights, batteries, coolers for ice, that sort of thing.

The phone rings at the counter. One of the guys who works there picks it up. “Hey Harold, it’s for you. Edna’s calling.”

Harold is busy stocking shelves. “OK. I’ll be right there, George.”

Harold puts the last extension chord on the shelf and walks over to the phone. “Hi, honey. Everything all right?”

Normally, Edna doesn’t call on days when she knows he’s really busy. So Harold is a little bit worried.

“Everything’s fine, sweetie. I’m just finishing getting dressed and I thought I’d drop by for a minute. I’ve put together a list of things I’d like for you to bring home from the store,” says Edna.

Harold is relieved. “Oh, sure. That’s fine. I’ll see you when I see you.”

“Harold, I was planning to leave Boomer with you while I take Halley grocery shopping with me. Is that all right?” asks Edna.

Harold smiles. “Of course it is. You know how much I love to have my buddy with me at the store. He’ll be a nice distraction for all the customers who are getting a bit anxious about this storm,” says Harold.

“He does have a way of calming people down, doesn’t he?”

“Edna, I have to go. Someone needs me. I’ll see you when you get here.”

“See you in a bit,” says Edna.

And with that, Edna heads out to the garage where her car, Sweet Pea, is waiting for them. She has Halley in her travelling crate. She puts that in the back seat and secures it with a seatbelt. Next, she guides Boomer to sit on the floor in front of the passenger seat. With both animals safe and in their places, they’re ready to go.

“All right kids,” says Edna. “Our first stop is the hardware store, then to Fred’s Corner Grocer.”

For a moment, Edna pauses. Did she bring her list? Edna always has lists of one thing or another. But on a day like this, she wants to be extra sure.

“Oh, good here it is. All the things we’ll need to get before the storm hits. Here we go!”

Want to see what’s on Edna’s list and know what you need to prepare for a large storm? This is even more complete than Edna’s:  Hurricane Guide

***We’ll have more on what happens after the storm next time. Stay Tuned. 

Could Coronavirus Close Ray’s School?

Could Coronavirus Close Ray’s School?

Every day seems to bring new concerns about the Coronavirus. It’s no different in Shady Pines Story Town. Seven-year-old Ray Robinson looks at a flier he found on the school’s bulletin board.chool. It has a bunch of instructions about what to expect if the elementary school has to close down for awhile.

So far there are no known cases of Coronavirus here, but folks in the small Southern town want to be prepared in case that changes. Schools in other states have had to close because someone tested positive.

The The Shady Pines Gazette news team has been reporting all the latest developments. Most recently, editor and reporter, Zulah Talmadge, brought us preventative steps you should be taking like washing your hands thoroughly, not touching your face with your hands and keeping surfaces on devices and around the house super clean. You can read the whole list HERE.

Meanwhile, Edna Sanders brought us 17 tips about the best foods to eat right now to help boost your immune system and keep sickness at bay. You can read all about that in her latest edition of, EDNA’S KITCHEN.

Now as Ray reads through what might happen if his school is forced to close for a couple of weeks or more, he has a lot of questions. If someone at school does get Coronavirus, will he have to be tested? What do they do to test you? He knows that kids aren’t really getting sick from the virus, but they might be spreading it without knowing.

“Oh, my gosh, what else might have to change?” Ray wonders. Will he still be able to go to the Shady Pines Community Center and play with Boomer and Halley? Edna Sanders works at the Center and often brings her “kids” Boomerang, an Australian Shepherd dog, and Halley’s Comet, a silver streak of a cat, with her. Ray loves to go on rounds with them at the Center after school and sometimes they play in nearby Stonewall Park. 

Will the Center stay open? Oh, no! What about his mom? Ray’s mom works two jobs to make ends meet. What will she do if Shady Pines Elementary does close and Ray has to stay home for two weeks? Ray tells people that his mom works a lot to stay busy so she won’t worry about her husband. Ray’s dad is in the military and is deployed again. They aren’t sure where he is except he’s somewhere overseas. He’s been gone a long time already and they don’t know when he’ll be back. “Oh, my gosh,” says Ray, “what happens if he is quarantined overseas?”

Ray used to worry a lot about his dad, too. In fact, it got so bad that the young boy wouldn’t even speak. He just shut down. It was Boomer and Halley who helped him find his voice again. They are really important because he loves them so much.

Ray’s mom says the animals have brought out some wonderful qualities in her son. He’s always been kind, but now he goes out of his way to do nice things for people. He’s also more compassionate and caring of others than he was before meeting those two lively critters.

In fact, Ray’s mom found an article about a kindness campaign that was started to urge people to be kinder to one another during the coronavirus outbreak. She cut out this quote and is posting it everywhere she goes.

      “Kindness, and care and concern for each other should be very much part of our lives. The Covid-19 outbreak is not just a test  of our medical response system but is also a test of the character and values of our people.”

Ray really likes the quote because that’s The Shady Pines Way!

***Please take a moment and leave a comment below. We appreciate it!

Proud To Be a Girl Dad

Proud To Be a Girl Dad

Until this week, I’d never heard the term, “Girl Dad,” but now it’s popping up everywhere on social media and beyond! Hi everyone, I’m Zulah Talmadge with news for you from The Shady Pines Gazette office.

The death this week of basketball superstar Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna (known as Gigi), and seven other wonderful people, has been a big topic of convesation. Bryant was only 41 at the time and his daughter was just 13 years old. The helicopter in which they were flying fell to the ground in the hills of Calabasas, California. 

The shock of this deadly event could be felt all across the country. How did this happen? Was it the dense fog at the time? Was that the reason? It may take investigators a long time to answer that question.

In the meantime, memorials have been springing up in public places, including outside the Staples Center where the Los Angeles Lakers play. Kobe was king of that court for the twenty years he wore the purple and gold Lakers’ uniform. People of all ages and backgrounds have expressed their grief and shared memories of a man who was an icon and sports legend. In a city filled with celebrities, Kobe Bryant managed to stand out.

He was not a perfect man. But he was a Lakers hero and was working on giving back to others in his second act.

Since his retirement from basketball, Kobe has put his family first. He and his wife, Vanessa, have four daughters. His devotion to his wife and to his girls was obvious to everyone who talked to him.

He was a very proud, Girl Dad.

Even when interviewers would ask him if he wished he had a son to carry on his basketball legacy, he would just smile and say, “No. She’s got this.” He was referring to his second daughter who he said was even better than he was at the same age. Gigi wanted to a professional women’s basketball player when she grew up.

That’s why it was even more painful to learn that the daughter who loved playing basketball and being coached by her famous father, died alongside him on their way to a game.

One of the tributes, along with all the others that have poured in since this unfortunate event, has started a viral sensation. The hashtag,#GirlDad, is trending on social media like crazy. Inspired by Kobe’s example, famous and not-so-famous dads are posting pictures and messages in support of their daughters.

It all started when a reporter with ESPN Sports Center, Elle Duncan, posted an emotional video. In it, she shared her encounter with Kobe Bryant when she was eight months pregnant with her daughter. Her video can be seen in this report from Yahoo Entertainment, along with some of the responses she’s been getting. You’ve gotta see this.     GO HERE

If you’re a proud Girl Dad, or if you known one, please leave us a comment to inspire others. This spreading of kindness is The Shady Pines Way!

New Year’s Resolutions for Kids

New Year’s Resolutions for Kids

What are your goals this year? It’s 2020 and the good folks of Shady Pines Story Town are looking ahead. They’re turning their attention to New Year’s Resolutions. These first-of-the-year goals are fun to discuss and write down, but will they be followed all year long?

More importantly, how do the adults in our community guide children to make good resolutions? We turn to some parenting experts for their advice. They say it’s important to be upbeat, make it a fun activity, and try not to force ideas but let kids come up with their own. Here’s a way to start:

Lead by Example

  • If you want your family to make healthy eating a priority this year, explain what that a healthy diet means for you with examples like:

“You know how much your dad and I love pizza. This year we’re going to eat less pizza and have more fruits and vegetables instead.” “We want to have more family dinners. So, we’re going to limit the amount of fast food we eat, and instead make more meals together.”

Be Specific by Setting Goals

  • Start with some broad categories like personal, friendship, helping and school goals.

Asking questions can help you gauge which of these categories are most important to them. Some examples: “Can you think of some things you might do better or differently? Do you remember a time when you might have been nicer to someone at school? Or, treated your brother or sister better? Are there ways to share more with your friends? How about helping out more around the house?”

Attach Action to the Resolutions

Let’s say your child’s resolution is to keep his or her room clean. Have them write down six easy steps they can practice each week, like:

Week #1:  I will put my shoes in the closet at night
Week #2:  I will put my toys away after playing with them

Some other ideas:

  • I will help around the house – by doing the dishes
  • I will improve my reading – by reading 15 minutes before I go to bed
  • I will eat more healthy foods – by eating one fruit at breakfast and one vegetable at dinner

Build Upon Success

Experts agree it takes up to six weeks to create a habit so do this for a month and a half and see how things are going. You and the kids can always start adding things to build upon successes.

If you want to know how Boomer and Halley’s family are setting their goals, READ THE STORY HERE

Let’s Have a Great 2020!!!

***Leave a comment Below and let us know your goals this year.


Shady Pines New Year’s Resolutions with Boomer & Halley

Shady Pines New Year’s Resolutions with Boomer & Halley


Shadows deepen earlier each day in late December. Streetlights around Shady Pines come on just after 5 pm as the night approaches. Why, before you know it, it’ll be New Year’s Day!

Edna Sanders hums a little tune as she prepares dinner in her kitchen. She has the radio on and music fills the home on Dogwood Drive across from Copy Cat Lane.

Halley’s Comet is up on her window seat licking her paws. The silver streak of a cat has just had her dinner of dry and wet cat food mixed together, taken a sip of water, and is settling in for a nap.

Before long, Edna’s husband, Harold, will be home from work. He usually closes up his Nuts ‘N Bolts hardware store on Main Street around 6 pm. Once he switches the front window sign to CLOSED and locks the door, it’s just a short walk to the Sanders’ house. This evening, the family dog, Boomerang, will be at his side.

“It was fun having you at the store today, Boomer,” says Harold as he pats the Australian Shepherd’s head. “You were a lot of help today.” Harold gives him a dog treat from one of the many wooden barrels near the cash register. “Ruff,” says Boomer. Harold laughs. “I didn’t forget. I’ve got the calendar right here to bring home to mom. You ready to go?” Boomer wags his bobbed tail.

Once outside, the night air hits them. “Ooh. It’s a good thing I have my jacket, scarf and gloves. It’s a bit chilly this evening.” Boomer pulls on the leash. “You’re right. Let’s walk a little faster, shall we?”

In just a matter of minutes, Harold is reaching for his key to unlock the back door of the Sander’s house. “Honey, we’re home.”

Edna turns. “Hi sweetie. Come here Boom, let me give you a hug. Did you take care of dad today?”

Halley rolls her eyes. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Boomer gives her a look. “What’s with you?”

Halley sits up and looks right at him. “Boomer, you can’t even take care of yourself.”

Boomer sits quietly as Edna unhooks the leash from his collar and hangs it on the hook next to the door.

“Halley, you’re just jealous ‘cause people make a fuss over me at dad’s store,” says Boomerang.

Halley sighs. “No. Not jealous. Just amazed that humans can’t see you’re such a knucklehead.”

Boomer growls softly under his breath.

Meanwhile Harold puts away his jacket, scarf and gloves and goes over to Edna. He takes her in his arms and gives her a kiss. “I love you.”

Halley puts her paws over her eyes. “Oh, no. Boomer, they’re getting mushy again.”

Boomer looks away. “Is it over?”

Edna sees Harold has something in his hand. “What’s that?” she asks.

“Next year’s calendar. It’s the one you asked me to get for you,” says Harold.

“Oh, thank you dear. After dinner I want us to start thinking about our New Year’s Resolutions.”

Harold nods. “We can try. You know we’re not too good at following through with those.”

As he talks, Edna scoops dog food into Boomer’s bowl. “Here you go, boy.” Boomer chows down. He didn’t realize he was so hungry.

“Harold, our dinner will be ready in just a few minutes,” says Edna. “Halley’s already eaten.”

Harold crosses the room and strokes Halley’s head. She jumps into his arms. “And how’s our princess this evening, huh? Have you had a good day?”

Halley purrs and rubs her head against Harold’s cheek.

Boomer can’t believe what he’s hearing. “Princess? Did he just call you princess?”

Halley grins at Boomer.  “Cool it, will ya? Clearly the man has good taste.”

Boomer groans. “Oh, brother.”

Once dinner is over and the dishes cleared, washed and put away, it’s time for some goal setting. Edna has her notepad and pen ready to go.

“All right. Where shall we begin?”

Harold clears his throat. “Well let’s start with some categories like personal, home, and work.”

Edna is thrilled. “That’s a great idea. We’ll list maybe two or three resolutions per category. Let’s keep it simple.”

With that, Edna rips off a couple of pages of paper and gives Harold a pen.

“This just might work. We’ve had too many New Year’s resolutions in the past and we don’t keep up.”

Edna is already writing. “Exactly. And, I think we should have some for Boomer and Halley, too.”

Both pets look up at the same time.

“Did she just say we’re going to be part of this?” asks Boomer.

Halley is worried. “What do they have in mind?”

Harold has a question. “What are you thinking for the kids?”

“Well,” says Edna, “I’m thinking agility classes for Boomer and walking on a leash classes for Halley. She still doesn’t have the hang of it yet.”

Harold likes these ideas. “By golly, woman. That could be fun!”

“Fun?” says Halley. “I know how to walk on a leash. But no self-respecting cat should be asked to do it!”

Boomer is confused. “Isn’t agility the same thing as my herding skills?”

Halley shakes her head. “Apparently not. You’re going to have to jump over things and crawl through stuff while running full out!”

“Why?” asks Boomer.

“Don’t ask me,” says Halley. “I don’t know why I have to wear a harness and be pulled down a sidewalk.”

Edna is happy that Harold likes her ideas. “This way we can build on what the kids already do well. We know Boomer runs fast, and he uses all his athletic skills to round up humans like nobody else.”

Boomer cocks his head. “Well, that’s true.”

Harold agrees with his wife. “Yes, and Halley likes to show she can do things other cats can’t do. It gets people to notice her and she adores being the center of attention.”

Halley sighs. “He knows me so well.”

The thought of Halley strutting down Main Street makes Edna smile. “So, now that we’ve figured out what the kids will do, what about us?”

Harold thinks for a moment. “Well, under the personal column, I want to get in better shape, spend more time with you and the kids, and take my Cub Scout troop on a special outing.”

Edna has some thoughts for that column, too. “I want to lose about 10 pounds, come up with new recipes for the Edna’s Kitchen cookbook I’m writing, and find ways to better show how much I appreciate my family, friends, and this wonderful community.”

Edna looks at Harold. “What’s wrong?”

“Absolutely nothing. Have I told you lately that you are a wonderful person?”

Edna responds. “I feel the same way about you. You know, we’re really lucky.”

Harold nods.

And that’s where we leave the Sanders’ family on this evening in late December. Harold and Edna continue to write down the rest of their resolutions.

Halley snoozes soundly on her window seat. Boomer curls up on his dog bed right below her and yawns. A new year is right around the corner. There will be celebrations and many more opportunities for expressing kindness and caring from the good folks in the small Southern town of Shady Pines.

That’s The Shady Pines Way!



Heisman Trophy Winner Inspires Generosity

Heisman Trophy Winner Inspires Generosity

Hi everyone, I’m Zulah Talmadge with The Shady Pines Gazette and I have a news flash. This story will touch your heart. Did you hear about the college football player who won the 2019 Heisman Trophy? Well, he not only won the biggest award, but it’s what he said during his acceptance speech that will really get to you. He took his moment in the spotlight to lift up others less fortunate and it nearly brought me to tears. Not only that, but because of his speech, he’s inspired a movement highlighting the generosity of others.


Here’s the story as reported by, Allison Slater Tate for TODAY

It was hard not to be moved watching 23-year-old Louisiana State University quarterback Joe Burrow accept the 2019 Heisman trophy. The record-breaking player from Athens, Ohio, who began his college football career at Ohio State and then transferred to Louisiana State University, gave much of his speech through tears.

What he managed to say in just a few sentences, though, would make a “huge impact” on his hometown, Athens County Food Pantry board president Karin Bright told TODAY Parents.

“Coming from Southeast Ohio — it’s a very, very impoverished area, and the poverty rate is almost two times the national average, and there’s so many people there that don’t have a lot,” Burrow said, apparently without planning to, according to interviews with his father afterward.

“I’m up here for all those kids in Athens and Athens County that go home to not a lot of food on the table, hungry after school. You guys can be up here too.”

The donations starting pouring in and five days later, the Athens County Food Pantry has accepted over $450,000 in donations, Bright said.

“You don’t usually associate hunger and food insecurity with football,” Bright acknowledged. Like many in Burrow’s hometown, Bright was watching when he won the Heisman, but she said no one expected what happened next.

“After I came home from church the next morning, I had a message that someone had started a fundraiser,” she said. “It started to take off in such a huge way throughout the day, and then all these generous people from all over the country and then the world started calling and making donations.”

Well represented among the donors were residents of Burrow’s new home state, whom Burrows thanked in his speech. “All these LSU fans believe the sun rises and sets with Joe now,” said Bright. “They were all talking about what he said at the ceremony. ‘Thank you for loaning him to us,’ they told me. ‘He’s a good one.’

The poverty rates in Athens County are even higher than Burrow cited, Bright said. Over 30% of the county’s residents live in poverty, and 20% are food insecure — the highest rate in the state of Ohio. The problem, Bright said, is the lack of industry and jobs in Athens, where the biggest employer is Ohio University.

“This is a big problem here,” Bright said. “This is not just a few people. And it’s not that they aren’t working. They might have jobs, but they cannot get ahead. They are the definition of the ‘working poor.'” The Athens County Food Pantry serves residents in four locations and includes a focus on groups like veterans and those affected by mental illness. 

Next up: The food pantry’s board is working out how best to use the donations. Bright said they have sought counsel from other organizations on how they can make a long-term impact on their area.

“We want to honor the generosity of all these people and help in as big a way we can,” she said. “We are going to take the time to gather solid advice and make wise decisions.

“I know I speak for all of us at the food pantry when I say we would be thrilled to be out of a job because hunger is no longer an issue,” she said. “We need to do better.”

Click here for more information on how to donate to the Athens County Food Pantry. 

The Shady Pines Gratitude Tree

The Shady Pines Gratitude Tree

The holidays jump up on our calendars come at us with increasing speed, and turn up the volume on stress –– so much to do, and so little time. We’re barely beyond Thanksgiving gatherings, and now we’re in the middle of brightly wrapped presents, and holiday travel. Amidst the hubbub, folks in Shady Pines take time to focus on something really important: Gratitude. This is the story of our gratitude tree.

Giant candy canes stand at attention along Main Street, and a big, red bow hangs on the front door of Cup ‘O Joe’s coffee shop. On a quiet Tuesday afternoon, Pete, owner of Pets Galore, drops in for a mocha-flavored cappuccino. One of his favorite clients, Joan MacGilicutty, has a dollop of whipped cream added to her frozen frappé drink.

‘Hi ya, Pete.”

“Well, hi yourself, Joan. How’s that pretty little poodle of yours?”

“Oh, Precious is fine. Thank you. Are you still planning the pet adoption this season?”

The annual Pet Adoption at Pets Galore is always popular. A lot of children ask Santa to bring them puppies for Christmas. And while a pet can be a wonderful addition to a family, an animal companion is also a big responsibility. Pete likes to educate kids early about being kind and caring to their critters.

“Hey, Pete. We’re grateful for our pets, right?”


“And the kids from the grade school are working on a gratitude tree.”

“Over at the Community Center. Joan, are you thinking about combining the two events?”

“C’mon, Pete. Let’s go!”

The arts and crafts room at the Shady Pines Community Center is a cluttered mess. Volunteers try their best to create order, but holiday decorations litter the big open room, and construction noise fills the air.

Harold Sanders and a couple of his employees at the Nuts ‘N’ Bolts hardware store come clanging and banging through the double doors. They carry a man-made tree that must be at least six feet tall. The triangular-shaped tree of sturdy oak has branches from real, longleaf pine trees nailed on tight. The men haul the tree on its side and try to wedge it through the opening.

“I think it’s going to fit, Harold, branches and all,” says Mack.

“That’s great, Mack. Hey, Hank, do you have the stand?”

“Right here.”

“Good,” Mack says. “Let’s put the tree over there where it’s out of the way.” As he swings the tree around to place it in the stand, one of the branches hits Harold in the head.

“Hey, watch out!” says Harold.

“Whoops! Sorry, Harold!”

“I’ll be okay, Hank. May have knocked a little sense into me.”

All three men chuckle and hoist the tree up onto its stand.

“Does it look straight, Harold?”

“Hank, you’d better ask Mack. I’m still seeing stars.”

“A little more to the left, Hank,” says Mack. “There. That’s good.”

They take a few steps back to admire their creation. Soon the children will arrive to cut out paper pinecones. After writing on them what they’re thankful for in their lives, they will tie them to the tree branches with red ribbons.

Harold and the guys didn’t notice that Joan and Pete are right behind them. Pete clears his throat to get their attention.

“Not bad for amateurs.”

“You know what, Pete? Joan says. “I think it’s even better than last year.”

The three men turn around at the same time.

“Hey, look who’s here,” says Harold.

“It’s Joan and Pete,” Hank says.

“Are you going to help out?” asks Mack.

“We sure are!” Joan and Pete say together.

They all fall toward one another hugging and shaking hands. These friends are bonded by a common goal –– to help kids have the best holiday ever. Many of the children who enjoy the annual event at the Community Center have absent parents, for one reason or another. The circle of love and support that this project represents lifts their spirits during the holiday season.

“Hey, where do you want me to put these?” One of the volunteers helping to decorate carries an armload of ornament boxes. The fragile, colorful balls will decorate the Center’s Christmas tree later on. The trouble is, right now, he can barely see above the top box and shuffles right towards the tree. Before anyone can yell, “Look out,” the man bumps right into the tree. Swaying uncontrollably on its stand, rocking from one side to the other, the tree lurches to the right before toppling to the floor. The boxes fly across the room, crashing to the earth in an almost musical tinkling of breaking ornaments.

Harold and the guys are stunned. Pieces of branches are strewn everywhere and the trunk lands with a crashing thud.

“Wow,” Harold says.

Mack gently whistles through his teeth.

“Sorry, sorry, sorry!” says the volunteer. “I didn’t see –– all the boxes –– I’ll help clean up,” he says, kneeling to the floor.

The group stares at him, the boxes, the tree and shattered glass.

“Guess there’s only one thing to do,” says Harold. “Guys, get your tools. There’s a lot of work to be done, and the kids are due anytime.”

“Hey, Pete,” Joan says. “Why don’t we get the kids to work on their pine cone messages in the other room?”

“That’s a great idea. What are we waiting for?”

As Pete and Joan dash to the next room to set up, Harold, Hank, and Mack get to work. They have to reassemble branches and part of the tree trunk as fast as they can. Soon they hear laughter and giggling coming from the other side of the wall. Joan claps her hands to get the kids’ attention.

“All right, everyone. Listen up. Shhhh. Pete is going to explain what to do.”

“Kids, we all have something that we are grateful for in our lives, right?”


“Good. Now Joan and I will help you if you need it. We want you to write down one thing that you are thankful for this year.”

Serious young faces turn their attention to the paper pine cones they’ve just cut out of colorful paper. Joan and Pete circle the room and see that the children have written a variety of answers: friends, family, my dog, my cat, school, my mom, my dad, my bed, my baby sister, macaroni and cheese, church, my house, peanut butter, and grandma and grandpa.

Everyone was quiet and working, until they weren’t. The mood in the room changed the moment a little girl turned to the little boy next to her. He’d written down “my pet snake.”

“That answer is stupid.”

“No, it’s not.”

“Is, too.”

“Is not!”

Joan and Pete jump up and try to separate the two, but not before both children wad up some unused paper and start throwing it.

“Hey, pine cone fight!” someone says, and soon balls of orange and blue and red and yellow fly everywhere. Youngsters duck out of the way, laughing and screeching at the same time.

Anticipating that something like this might happen, Joan wears a whistle tied around her neck by a piece of red ribbon. In one swift, motion, she brings it to her mouth and BLOWS! She picks it up and blows. Everyone stops and covers their ears. Pete’s mouth drops open, shocked at the shrill noise.

“All right. That’s enough,” Joan says. “Listen up. I want each of you to return to your seat. The kids shuffle over to their tables, and the sound of chair legs dragging across the floor fill the awkward silence.

“Pick up your pine cone messages and follow Pete and me into the next room. And, most of all, do it quietly.”

The sound of little, shuffling feet alert Harold and the guys that the kids are heading their way. They hammer the last branch back into place. When the children look up at the tall tree they are amazed. It’s bigger than the one last year.

“That’s ginormous,” one little girl says.

“Huge,” says another.

One of the smaller boys, clutching his pine cone, tugs on Harold’s tool belt. “I want to put mine up high,” he says, and soon the adults are lifting the smallest children up on their shoulders so they can tie their pine cones to the tallest branches. Old and young alike smile and help one another.

The gratitude project is the brainchild of the Community Center Director, Rita Mallena. It was her hope that during the rushing around and the hoopla of the holiday season, people would stop for a moment to appreciate the true gifts of the season. In this moment, with messages of thanks swaying from the branches of the gratitude tree, it seems, once again: Mission Accomplished! 

Please leave a comment and let us know what you’re grateful for this season.

Cheaters Never Prosper

Cheaters Never Prosper

Here’s the latest: Devin Sloane, a Los Angles business executive, was sentenced this week to four months in prison for paying $250,000 to get his son accepted into the University of Southern California as a fake water polo recruit.

He is the second parent to be sentenced in Boston federal court in the nation’s college admissions scandal after actress Felicity Huffman received 14 days in prison this month.

U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani also sentenced Sloane to 500 hours of community service over two years and a $95,000 fine.

Remember, the kids didn’t have to have good grades or take tests to get into college the right way. The parents just went around the system by writing a big ‘ole check. They didn’t play by the rules. That’s cheating. It’s illegal.


Our neighbors here in Shady Pines Story Town have been talking about this situation for months. I decided to check in with our mail carrier, Kimberly Dunworthy, to find out what she’s hearing. After all, she talks to a lot of people every day. I’ll call her cell phone and see where she is on her mail route.

Oh, there she is now. “Hey Kim!”

Scoop watches as Kim measures the distance of a mail box to the street. “Hi ya Scoop. Will you hold that end of the tape measure for me?”

The lanky teenager with the red hair jumps in to help. “Sure. What are we doing?”

Kim writes something in the notebook she carries. “Well, mail boxes are supposed to be a specific distance from the road. You can’t believe how many people don’t follow the rules.”

Scoop shakes his head. “I had no idea. But, playing by the rules is why I wanted to talk to you.”

Kim closes her notebook and looks straight at him. ” Oh, yea? What’s the topic?’

“Those parents getting their kids into colleges by paying big bucks and going around the system. What are you hearing around town?” asks Scoop.

Kim checks her watch. “It’s a big story. I’ve still got more mail to deliver. Why don’t you ride with me and we can talk?”

“Sounds good to me,” says Scoop. They hop into the mail truck and off they go.

“Just about everyone I talk to was first surprised, and then angry, to hear about the scandal,” says Kim. “You know the folks here in Shady Pines. They try to do what’s right. And what those parents did was wrong.”

Scoop is busy taking notes as Kim talks. “Why were our neighbors surprised?”

Stopping at a mailbox on a tree-lined street, Kim reaches into the box at Scoop’s feet. She grabs some mail and places the envelopes into the mailbox. “Well, take the Mulberry’s who live at this house. They have two kids. They don’t have a lot of money, so they’ve been saving up for years so they can send their kids to college. They were shocked to hear that these people with a lot of money could just write a check and BOOM! Their children get into a top school even if they didn’t have good grades.”

Scoop hands Kim another batch of mail for their next stop. “Isn’t this where the Gutierrez family lives?” he asks.

Before she can answer, a woman walks out the front door and waves at them. “Hi Mrs. Gutierrez,” Kim and Scoop say at the same time.  Nellie Gutierrez approaches the truck. “Kimberly, I see you have a passenger today. How are you, Scoop?”

Scoop reaches to shake her hand. “Just fine ma’am. Would you mind if I asked you what you think about the college cheating scandal? I’m working on a story.”

Nellie shakes her head. “Just awful what those parents did. You know the worst thing? They showed their kids that it’s OK to lie to get what you want. What message does that send? I don’t care if you’re an actress like that Felicity Huffman or some business big shot, it’s wrong.”

What Felicity Huffman’s prison sentence means for other parents in college admissions scandal

Scoop and Kim look at one another.

“That may be the best question of all. Thank you so much,” says Scoop.

By the time Kim drops Scoop off back at his car, the teenage reporter knows a lot more about what people feel about this topic.

“Wow. I had a feeling this scandal had people talking and boy was I right. Now my question for you is, what do you think?”

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

-Scoop out!

Cheaters Never Prosper

Kindness Has a Canine Connection!

 Hi. Scoop, the cub reporter from the Shady Pines Gazette. Have I got news for you!

I just found out that there is an art project you have to see to believe. I’ll give you a hint. This is one doggone good assignment for me.  I’m heading over to our local author, Mary Jane McKittrick’s, house right now. Seems Mary Jane has a friend with some  artwork that might just unleash a whole new trend. Have you guessed what it is yet?

Here’s Mary Jane’s friend, Jan Maresh Saunders, with the artist herself – Polly the dog! 

Well, to be clear, Polly didn’t actually do the drawings herself. She had a little help from a friend of Jan’s who clearly has some real talent. Still, it turns out that Polly’s paws are the inspiration for the designs. Folks here in Shady Pines Story Town are buzzing about these creations. It seems when you combine beautiful art, with an owner’s loving connection to their dog, you have a winning combination.

These are original works of art. Do you see how the paw prints make up the flowers?

I’m told that over at the Shady Pines Elementary School the kids are being encouraged to use Polly’s Art as an idea for a project. The art teacher is showing the students how to make something like this by using their own pets as inspiration.

And, you know, the beauty of this is that you can use your cat’s paws if you don’t have a dog. Isn’t that cool?

Wait a minute. I wonder if Harold and Edna Sanders have seen these drawings. After all, there is no more famous cat and dog in Shady Pines than Boomer and Halley. Boomerang, the Australian Shepherd dog and Halley’s Comet, a silver streak of a cat, have their own book series for cryin’ out loud.

Hey, I’ve got to talk with the critters’ parents. If Harold and Edna haven’t seen Polly’s art, they’re missing out. Oh, wow. I just thought of something. Now that Mary Jane has met Polly the dog, maybe the artistic canine will wind up in one of her stories. Wouldn’t that be something? Stranger things have happened in our small Southern town that’s for sure.

You can’t buy Polly’s art. At least not yet. But you can check out the wacky adventures of the Sanders family.  Harold and Edna had no idea how challenging parenting could be ’til they adopted those two rascals. You can find out more about the Mom’s Choice Gold Award-winning Boomer and Halley books HERE

Loving connections is the Shady Pines Way.

-Scoop out.

Making Thanksgiving Fun For Kids!

Making Thanksgiving Fun For Kids!

Keep The Kids Busy

Thanksgiving is just days away! I’m Edna Sanders here in Shady Pines Story Town. Harold and I are excitedA happy family hugging their pets that members of our family we didn’t see last year will be visiting this week  While we’re excited about that, it’s always a challenge to keep our kids 4-legged Boomerang and Halley’s Comet, busy during these holiday get togethers. I bet you face the same challenge with your two-legged children.

To help all of us I found some creative Thanksgiving ideas that will help all of us. These are for kids of all ages—from meal planning to table setting and more.

1. Plan the Meal

Here are some fun ideas to consider:

  • Start off by giving your kids fall-themed colors and having them list all of the fruits or veggies that fit. Then use these lists to help inspire your Thanksgiving menu and to look for recipes as a family. 
  • Have each of your children choose one dish to be “theirs.” When Thanksgiving Day comes, give them more responsibility for this dish, whether it’s preparing the ingredients, mixing it all together or dishing it out. You could even ask your kids to show off their special dish by presenting it to the family and explaining how it was made.
  • Instead of grocery shopping alone, why not take a little road trip to pick out the ingredients as a family? You can talk about all the traditional Thanksgiving foods on the way and let your kids pick out their own sweet potatoes, squash, pumpkin or other produce.

Picky eater tip: As you’re planning the meal, take this opportunity to talk about the vegetables you’ll be eating on Thanksgiving, including the ones that your kids don’t like. Setting expectations early, without making a big deal out of it, can prevent mealtime surprises and help your kids build a healthier Thanksgiving plate.

2. Make the Decorations

No need to buy expensive decorations to get those warm Thanksgiving vibes! Homemade crafts are a fun way to teach your kids how to recycle and fill your home with adorable fall-themed decor. 

Spice up your Thanksgiving kids table with these cute yet simple holiday crafts:

  • Leaf centerpieces: Send your kids outside to gather sticks and branches and then have them color large leaf shapes out of paper. Paint the branches, glue the leaves on and then arrange your little trees in vases.
  • Table runners: Buy a roll of craft paper, spread it down the center of your table and set out crayons or pencils. When your kids start getting antsy in the middle of the meal, they’ll have a ready-made activity to keep them busy.
  • Toilet paper roll turkeys: With some paint, googly eyes and construction paper feathers, you can turn everyday recyclables into cute turkeys to set up around the house. You could even hide them around the yard and have a post-meal game to find all the turkeys!
  • Thankful placemats: On a piece of construction paper, write, “I am thankful for _________.” Let your little one jazz it up with crayons, ribbons or glitter and then use it as their Thanksgiving placemat. Isn’t that a good idea?
  • Before you start eating, work on filling in the blank together. You may learn something about your child you didn’t know before!

3. Prepare the Meal

You’ve already worked together to plan the meal, so keep your kids involved by giving them age-appropriate tasks in the kitchen! Younger kids can fetch ingredients or wash them, and older kids can help with cutting, mixing and cooking. The more involved your kids are, the more excited they’ll be about contributing to the Thanksgiving feast.

To make your Thanksgiving kids table even more fun, take all those traditional foods and incorporate an extra touch of holiday creativity:

If you don’t have any meal prep tasks to share, your kids can work on last-minute decorations or go ahead and set the table.

4. Set the Table

Once the food’s cooking, it’s time to get the table ready:

  • Gather up the decorations your kids made and spread them across your tables, snack stations and self-serve areas.
  • Put some extra fun on the table with Thanksgiving-themed silverware, table cloths or these precious folded napkin turkeys.
  • For the finishing touch, have your kids cut out turkey feathers and feet from construction paper. Then arrange them at each place setting so that the plate will create an adorable turkey shape.

These are just some of the ideas I found. I’m sure you can think of a whole lot more for your family.

Whatever you do, I just hope that you spend some time giving thanks for the blessings we all enjoy. Thanksgiving is a great time to do that. Even if it’s been a hard year, gratitude is an importnat lesson for children – of all ages!

Now, what are we waiting for? Let’s go ahead and dig in! 


Shady Pines Salutes Veterans on Veterans Day

Shady Pines Salutes Veterans on Veterans Day

Giving Appreciation To Those Who Serve

Hey everyone. We’re about to celebrate a very important day for our nation, and for the folks here in Shady Pines. I’m Scoop the Cub Reporter for The Shady Pines Gazette. Veterans Day is this Thursday, November 11th. My editor, Zulah Talmadge, says this important holiday is one of the best opportunities to teach kids about the concepts of hope, sacrifice and courage. So I’m working on this story.

We have to go way back tothe year 1919 to find out how all this got started. It used to be called Armistice Day — a day to celebrate the end of World War I. The name was later changed to Veterans Day in 1954 to honor veterans of all wars.

It’s kinda sad to realize just how many wars the United States has been involved in, isn’t it? So many men and women have made a lot of sacrifices for the freedom we enjoy today. Any chance we get, we should recognize them for their service. This Thursday is one of those times.

Who Is A Veteran?

It’s important to know who we’re celebrating. So explaining who qulifies as a veteran helps kids understand the honorees behind the holiday. A veteran is a former member of the armed services or military. Branches of the military include the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, and veterans may have served during times of war or peace.

Do you have a member of your family is currently serving in the military? Or maybe a grandfather, aunt or distant cousin is retired from the armed forces? To get the conversation started, try to find a picture of them in uniform and explain the importance of their job to your child.

If you know anyone who’s a veteran, consider asking them to set up a time to chat with your child. They might be willing to show them their service memorabilia, photos or stories or even wear their uniform to help your child better understand the concept of what it means to serve.

Remember, veterans aren’t just friends and family; they’re everywhere

They don’t always wear uniforms or talk about their service, but that makes it all the more important to acknowledge them and the sacrifices they made, whether on Veterans Day or any other day.

What’s the difference between Veterans Day and Memorial Day?

I don’t know about you, but most people I know confuse Veterans Day and Memorial Day. But they’re really different. I did some digging and discovered there’s an important distinction to keep in mind.

I found some information from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.   Here’s what it said: “Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle.

“While those who died are also remembered, Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor all those who served honorably in the military — in wartime or peacetime.”

So, here’s the deal. I know we’re all busy doing other things. We sometimes forget to stop and appreciate all that we have and the thousands of Americans who have done so much to make our lives a little better.

This Thursday why don’t we all take a moment to remember that someone’s family member may be a long way from home right now serving our country. And their kids are waiting for them.

See ya next time!

Scoop, out

In Shady Pines It’s Time to Fall Back

In Shady Pines It’s Time to Fall Back

Change Those Clocks

And now a message from our mayor, Beauregard P. Fibbs.

Hello good people of Shady Pines. I just want to remind everyone that a seasonal change is upon us. That’s right. This Sunday November 7th at 2am, Daylight Savings Time ends and the clocks turn back one hour.  This used to be a bonus when you could take advantage of that extra hour. But some parents in town have made me understand that when you have young children, it’s just one more thing you have to navigate.

When the clock turns back one hour, what used to be 7:00am is now 6:00am.  It’s lighter earlier in the morning and darker sooner in the evening.  The bad news is early risers will probably rise even earlier. The good news is you can probably get them into bed sooner too.  If you would like to get ahead of “Fall Back”, follow these 4 tips to help your child adjust to the end of Daylight Saving Time.

#1 Plan a Few Days Ahead

You can prepare a few days ahead of time by moving your child’s entire daytime schedule later in 15-minute increments.  On Thursday morning, start by offering breakfast 15 minutes later than normal, then naptime 15 minutes later and so on until the entire daytime schedule has been shifted.  If your child normally goes to bed at 7pm, they should be going to bed at 7:15pm.  Do the same thing the next day but move their schedule later another 15 minutes.  The gradual shift should help their internal clocks adjust, making it less likely that they will wake an hour early on Sunday morning!

#2 Block The Morning Light

Make sure your child’s bedroom is really dark and consider using some blackout curtains sothat the new early morning light doesn’t wake your child.  Keeping the room dark encourages the production of melatonin, which helps them stay sleeping.

#3 Avoid Rushing In

If your child does wake earlier than you would like, try to leave them to amuse themselves until the normal wake up time to give their internal clocks a chance to reset.  By leaving them a little longer than normal, you also give them the opportunity to go back to sleep.

#4 Expose Them to Plenty of Daylight

Try to expose your child to plenty of bright light, especially in the early evening.  This helps reset their internal clock making it easier to adjust to the new time. If you expose them to light in the evening, it will shift their clock later, making it easier to fall asleep later and wake up later.

Try not to worry if your children aren’t adjusting as well.  Children, who are easy going when it comes to schedules and have good sleep hygiene, may adjust fairly easily in just a day or two.  Children who are more sleep sensitive to change in schedules may have more trouble adjusting. Just try to be patient and consistent and before you know it your children will be back on track.

And, by the way, this advice applies to your four-legged children, too. Boomer and Halley wanted me to remember to tell you that! Those two critters are always having adventures. Lately, they’ve been working to help get out the vote for our local election. It has something to do with me. READ ABOUT IT HERE

There’s lots going on in our small Southern town this month and we’ll make sure you’re up to date on all of it.

But for now, let’s all FALL BACK!


Let’s Go to the Pumpkin Patch

Shady Pines Pumpkin Patch Adventure for Halloween Week

Get The Scoop from the Pumpkin Patch

Halloween week is a special time in Shady Pines. All around town people are picking out costumes and pickng up pumpkins to decorate.  Along with the explosion of fall colors and cooler weather, it’s a good idea to head to the local Pumpkin Patch.

I’m Scoop, the Cub Reporter with The Shady Pines Gazette and I’m headed that way right now. My assignment is to discover why so many folks say this is one of their favorite things to do each year as a family.

One thing I’ve noticed is that from toddlers to teens like myself, a pumpkin patch is fun for everyone. First of all, you get some exercise and you’re outside.

Good To Be Outside

And, most of these working farms are so big you don’t have to worry about social distancing. At some point you will have to pay for the pumpkins you’re going to take home. That puts you close to the person who checks you out. You might want to bring a mask if you’re not vaccinated. Okay, I’m here. I’ve gotta interview people.

One mom I met told said, “If your kids don’t explore the outdoors very often, this is a great way for them to discover nature. Seeing how pumpkins grow out of the ground and are attached to vines is very educational. It helps them understand that pumpkins don’t just show up at the grocery store automatically.”

I can already see for myself that this is one place where children can run around and discover things for themselves. That’s really important. I know I like to find those unexpected, special, moments. For instance, take a look at this shot I got. Do you see the colors of that butterfly next to the pumpkin? Being out on the farm you can just be amazed at Mother Nature. I think this kind of stuff is really cool!

I met another mom who told me, “From the second we arrived, my children ran off with smiles, but quickly, they realized how much work it was to be in a field of pumpkins. Even running took work since the vines were everywhere, waiting to trip little, toddler-sized running feet.”

It turns out that not only is this a great way to spend time with the family, there are also some lessons to be learned. There aren’t a whole bunch of people working the farms these days. So a lot of  kids don’t realize it takes hard work to be a farmer. One young girl I met was getting a little taste of that. Just trying to push a wheelbarrow with a big ‘ole pumpkin was something she hadn’t done before. The other thing she said was that she didn’t know pumpkins grew from tiny seeds. She also didn’t realize that they come in so many shapes, sizes and colors. “It’s kinda like people, isn’t it?” she asked.

I have to admit, I’d never thought of that before.  It seems there are a lot of things to find in the pumpkin patch. One couple I met said they love coming out here each October. But this year it was especially important to them. “We know so many farms and other small businesses are struggling right now because of the pandemic. It was important to us to come out and support them.”

Pumpkin Carving and Fun Recipes

That’s reason enought for me to go home with some pumpkins of my own. I don’t know about you, but our family usually has a pumpkin carving contest. Last year my dad won. It’s time for me to take the title back! The other reason I need to pick up some pumpkins is to inspire my mom. Around Halloween she likes to scare up some pumpkin dishes for us. I’m talking about everything from pumpkin pies to pumpkin pancakes. Here are some recipes for you to try: PUMPKIN RECIPES

There’s one more thing I want to mention.

These pumpkin patch visits make for some great family photos. Everywhere I look I’m seeing parents taking all sorts of shots.

Oh, look at the time. I’ve got to get back to the Gazette office. My editor, Zulah Talmadge, is probably wondering why I’ve been gone so long.  But this is just so darn much fun. Hope you’ve enjoyed it!

– Scoop out.


How ‘Bout Some Apple Picking?

How ‘Bout Some Apple Picking?


By golly, fall is burstin’ out all over Shady Pines. You can feel it in the the cooler, crisper air. Not only that, bute the leaves on the trees are turning all sorts of red, orange and yellow.

This is a magical season for our small Southern town. I’m Zulah Talmage, editor of The Shady Pines Gazette newspaper.

‘Bout this time each year you hear folks start talking about goin’ apple picking. The first time I heard this, I thought is seemed like a silly idea.

Why not just go over to Fred’s Corner Grocer and buy some apples if that’s what you want?

Well, more than a few of my neighbors set me straight. They told me they look forward to this activity. It’s a chance to get outside with the family and just have some good ‘ole fashion fun. Besides, while we’re still dealing with this Covid 19 virus, spending time outdoors in a wide open space is a pretty good idea.

So, I asked some folks what they do to get ready for this delicious activity. Here’s what I found out:


 It’s a good idea to do some reserch. Around here there are several pick your own (“PYO”) apple picking orchards. You probably have some near you, too.

Most people say you should plan to go early in the day. That way you avoid the crowds. Check the weather forecast, too. This time of year it might be tee shirt or sweater weather. If you plan on bringing a pet, be sure to check the orchards policy, some allow them in the orchard on a leash.

Look for what other interesting attractions various orchards have to offer. I’m told many of these locations also have PYO  berries and other fruits, hay rides, a gift shop and animals to pet. Oh, and don’t forget to pack a lunch. Some orchards have picnic tables. You can enjoy your food sitting in the cool fall air and maybe sip a glass of hot cider.


Okay. This is where I had to really hunt for advice since I’ve never picked an apple in my life. You’ll know that an apple is ripe when the stem of the apple is easily removed from the spur of the branch. You do this with a gentle twist-and-pull motion.

It’s best to contact a pick your own orchard before you visit. That way they can give you information on which of their trees are ripe for picking. If a tree has a bunch of  apples on the ground beneath it, you might want to find another one. Those grounded apples are called, “drops.” It means the apples on that tree are a little past ripe for picking. It’s better when you pick the apples slightly on the tart side because it allows them to stay fresh longer.

I found this video on apple picking that shows you how to do it.  APPLE PICKING VIDEO 


I guess the old saying of “one rotten apple wrecks the bunch” is true. Everyone tells me you’re not supposed to put any bruised apples in the bag. They rot the fastest and take the others down with them. So when you pick the apples, it’s  important to place them in the bag gently. That way they don’t bruise to begin with.

You want to store the fruit in a cool, dry spot. If it was raining when you picked them, dry the apples off. Otherwise don’t wash off the white ‘blush’ on the apple surface until you’re ready to eat them.

If you come home with two bushels of apples, you might be thinking, “now what?” I know I would be clueless. Here’s what I found out while talking to Maggie, owner of Maggie’s Diner. There are a surprising amount of things that can be done with apples, other than just eating and baking them. The wood of an apple tree can be used as a great wood smoking chip for grilling poultry or fish.

Apple essential oil is a fragrant addition to candles, soaps, lotions and more. Apples can be made into apple butter, jam, vinegar and many more foods other than pie. They can be dried out for a Halloween decoration, or dipped in caramel and put on a stick for a classic fall treat. You know, candied apples.


Now, here’s the kicker. Everyone I spoke to told me the beauty of apple picking really lies in tradition. The apple picking tradition is important because these are memories you share together. It inclues everything we’ve discussed. It’s about deciding where to go and whether you go to the same spot each year.

And also, things like what you will do while you’re there. 

One guy told me his father used to bring an outdoor stove, and cook dessert with the apples right off the tree. Some families choose to take the same photo of themselves walking in the orchard each year. It’s your tradition so make it your own.

One thing I’ve learned is that apple picking is much more than the search for fruit. And once you get this down pat, it’ll be time to explore another type of orchard – The pumpkin patch!

Happy Apple Picking Y’all.

-Zulah out.

A Day For Cookies and Coffee in Shady Pines!

A Day For Cookies and Coffee in Shady Pines!

 A Winning Combo

In the Sanders kitchen this morning, things are a bit hectic as usual. Harold and Edna are trying to have a conversation, while their Australian Shepherd dog, Boomerang, and their silver streak of a cat, Halley’s Comet race through the house.

As the chaotic days of September come to a close, there’s something to look forward to next month. Edna Sanders has just read something she needs to report.

“Harold, it says here in The Shady Pines Gazette, that October first is International Coffee Day. Oh, oh. And, it’s National Cookie Day, too! It says here, National Homemade Cookies Day is observed every year on October 1. If you are looking for an excuse to bake some homemade cookies, look no further.

Harold puts down his cup of coffee, looks at his wife, and smiles.

“My goodness, dear. Those are two of your favorite things,” he says. “What are you going to do to mark this double fun day?”

Edna thinks for a moment.

“Well, this gives me a wonderful excuse to whip up a batch of my favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies. We can invite some of our friends over to help celebrate!”

Harold is starting to like this National Cookie Day. “You did win a blue ribbon for that recipe at the State Fair.”

Edna rummages in her box of recipes that she keeps in a special place in the pantry.

“Oh, Harold this is going to be fun. Besides baking my favorite cookies, I’ll go downtown to Cup ‘O Joes.”

A Visit To Cup ‘O Joes

Harold looks confused. “Why are you going to the local coffee shop when you can brew up a pot here?

Edna puts on her apron. Next, she lines up the ingredients on the counter that she needs to make her cookies come to life. “I want to talk to Joe becasue last week he said he’s coming up with a special pumpkin spice coffee blend for the fall.”

Harold looks around the kitchen. “Edna, have you seen Boomer and Halley? It’s been a bit too quiet around here.”

Edna stops stirring the batter to listen. “Hmm. I don’t hear anything either. They’re  probably off playing with their toys.”

“Halley, I told you not to jump up there. Now look what you’ve done.”

“Oh, pipe down you overgrown fur ball.”

“We’re gonna be in trouble,” says Boomer. “And, it’s your fault!”

“Uh-Oh,” says Halley. “I think I hear dad coming. Gotta GO!”

“Not without me!”

Cookie Delight

Before anything else can go wrong, we’ll leave the Sanders family here. Wait! Don’t go yet. You’ll really miss out if you don’t get the recipe for Edna’s award-winning chocolate chip cookie recipe for yourself.  Just click the link to download it.


A Delicious Cup

We think the choice of coffee is best left up to you!

Enjoy the first day of October.



Shady Pines Celebrates ‘Cause It’s Fall Y’all!

Shady Pines Celebrates ‘Cause It’s Fall Y’all!

How Do You Explain This New Season?

Hey, kids, do you want to learn some cool facts about Fall?   

I’m Zulah Talmadge. Here in The Shady Pines Gazette news headquarters we’ve been getting all sorts of questions from parents and teachers. They want to know how to explain this new season to children. So we did some research. Here are some fun facts:

Did you know that Fall and Autumn are the same seasons? Autumn is considered the formal word for Fall. Fall is when the weather starts getting cooler, leaves change color and some animals start searching for food to store for the winter.  

What Exactly is Fall?

Fall or Autumn is one of the four seasons.  The four seasons are Winter, SpringSummer, and Fall.  Fall is the season between Summer and Winter.  The first day of Autumn this year is Wednesday, September 22nd. 

The unofficial end of the summer season and the beginning of the Fall season is when the children go back to school. 

Colors associated with the season are red, yellow, orange, brown, and black.

When is Fall?

Fall begins on the Autumnal Equinox.  On the Equinox the sun spends almost the same amount of time above and below the horizon.  The sunrise and sunset are about 12 hours apart everywhere on Earth.  The daylight hours are a little longer.

In the Northern Hemisphere (where the United States is located) October is the first full month of Fall.

Fall ends on the Winter Solstice. Believe me, it can get cold here in Shady Pines!

The Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year.  The day has the least amount of sunlight.

The Winter Solstice usually occurs on December 21st or 22nd.

That’s right before Christmas. But let’s get back to the season at hand.

What Happens in Fall/Autumn?

In Fall you will notice that the leaves on the trees start to change color. Before you can say, “Quick Change Artist” they’re now red, yellow, orange, and brown. 

There are two types of trees – Deciduous and Evergreens.  Deciduous tree leaves change color but Evergreens do not. Christmas trees are evergreens.

So why do the leaves change color and drop from the trees?  Lack of food and water is the answer. Look around downtown Shady Pines and you’ll see the change of color in the plants and flowers.

During the Fall the days get shorter and the stuff in the leaves called, chlorophyl cannot get enough light from the sun needed to make food.  The leaf lives off the stored food and starts to lose chlorophyll and its green color.

As the chlorophyll leaves the leaf the yellow and orange colors start to show.  When all the stored food is used up the leaf dies, turns brown, and falls from the tree.

                         Fun Fall Things To Do

Do you want to know something else?

A lot of fun activities happen during Fall. For many Shady Pines families, it’s become a tradition to take the children out to pick pumpkins and apples during this time of year. Besides carving pumpkins, (sometimes for prizes) there are also good tasting recipes for pumpkin bread and apple cider.

We’ll have more on that later.

In the meantime, you might want to go shopping. The temperatures are getting cooler and it’s time to get ready for sweater weather. 

You might want to stock up on warm socks, hats, mittens, boots and galoshes. Yes, even those rubbery boots will come in handy. Kids can find so much to do even on those rainy, puddle-filled days.

With each new season there’s another chance to think about ways to be kind to our family members, neighbors, and friends.

And that’s not just a Fall thing. It’s and everyday thing in the small Southern town of Shady Pines.  Happy Fall to one and all!!!  – Zulah Talmadge

Shady Pines Remembers 9-11 Twenty Years Later

Shady Pines Remembers 9-11 Twenty Years Later

Where Were You on 9-11?

If you lived through the events of September 11, 2001, you still remember that awful and emotional day.Hi, everyone. Zula Talmadge here from The Shady Pines Gazette news. Twenty years later, it ocurs to me there are kids today who may not know much about this historic event.

We need to explain the horror of seeing the twin towersof the World Trade Center in downtown New York City reduced to ash. We must remind them about the other places that were attakced, too.

Kids need to know on this date every year we all say, “Never Forget.” We do this to honor the thousands of lives lost that day and in the days that followed. So many innocent people going about their daily lives never made it home. Planes were hijacked by bad men and flown into their targets.

I know I’d never experienced an act of terrorism like that before. I was stunned as I watched with disbelief as news of the tragedy flickered on our TV screens. It seemed like a bad movie. It couldn’t be real.

First, there was shock. No one could believe that our country was being attacked in this way. And then we saw so many brave policemen, firemen, and other first responders race in to help others. Many didn’t come back alive. It was all too much to bear.

I’m sure it’s hard for anyone who did not live through that day to understand the full scope of the emotions we felt. None of us at the time could know the impact it had not only on our country, but on our individual lives. We would never feel as safe again.

September 11th is now known as Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance.  To the children in Shady Pines Story Town today, this date may only be a chapter in a history book. Our challenge as reportrs, parents or educators is to explain the true significance of this day in our nation’s history.

As you try to explain 9/11 to your child, here are two truths to be learned from that day. These are lessons that go beyond the news reports, textbooks, or facts associated with this tragedy.

America Is Strong

A remarkable reaction on 9-11 was the unity, compassion, and strength that flowed through our country. Strangers cried together, held hands, ran to help each other, stood in lines to donate blood, and rallied together. It was an inspiring bond we shared through our tears.

As deep and painful as our wounds were, a sense of brotherhood swept over our nation in a way many of us may have never before seen in our lifetime. Above the black smoke and rubble, America still stood as a country ready for the long fight ahead. We could really feel hope and determination because of the spirit of our people.

Heroism lives within us

In the days and weeks following September 11th, stories we heard countless stories of the heroes who  went above and beyond. Emergency personnel and first responders ran into buildings when everyone else was running out. Some must have known they could be running to their deaths. Co-workers turned around back into the smoke to save someone they heard calling for help.

The heroism demonstrated that day by so many is overwhelming. The thing is, these people woke up that morning just like the rest of us. They did not know what was to be asked of them in the next couple of hours. But, when it came time, they got up the courage needed and answered the call.

It is important while discussing the events of September 11th that you listen to any questions a child might ask. I know when I talk to kids about 9-11, I do my best to ease any fears or worries they have. One of our teachers has them draw a picture or write a letter. By doing that, kids express their thoughts and emotions after learning about this tragic yet courageous day.

To the innocent mind of  a child, it may be difficult for them to really understand the importance of Patriot Day. That’s OK. What they can learn, is that we live in a country that turned fear into bravery, and vulnerability into strength. They should realize that, just like the heroes of 9/11, being a citizen

and a friend means helping those around you. Here in Shady Pines we always encourage volunteering in the community, being a kind neighbor and classmate, and being aware and concerned when they see a friend in need.

If you live near any of the September 11th memorials like the one in New York City, Patriot Day is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of hands-on learning. Children will be able to witness firsthand or on the internet, the tributes to the victims and heroes. The legacy of these brave men and women live on in these memorials and museums. The lessons of their heroism lives on in each and every one of us.

May we indeed truly never forget the lives lost that tragic September day, and may this Patriot Day 2021 be spent soaking in the beauty all around us, while celebrating the bravery of Americans then and now. Let us celebrate the strength of their efforts, our country, and cherish every moment with our loved ones.

What Do You Really Know About Labor Day?

What Do You Really Know About Labor Day?

Why is Labor Day a Big Deal?

It’s almost time to trade in your summer flip flops for your fall hiking shoes. Why do I say that? Because Labor Day weekend in Shady Pines is nearly here. Do you know why we celebrate the first Monday in September as Labor Day? Or, why most people view Labor Day as the unofficial end of summer? I’m Zulah Talmadge in The Shady Pines Gazette news office and I’ve been looking into the answers to those questions.

You probably know that Labor Day is the holiday when we celebrate the hard work and accomplishments of workers in America. On this day each year, we honor how they help make our country strong and successful.

How Labor Day Started

I’ve got a little history to share with you about how this holiday began. Way back in the 1800s, many people worked very long hours in unsafe factories or mines. Not only was it scary to work in those places, the workers didn’t make much money. Even young children woul work all day in these places and made even less money than the adults. Their job was much harder and more dangerous than the chores kids do today, like cleaning their room and taking out the trash.

These workers decided they had to do something to improve their situation. So they joined unions, which were organized groups of workers created to look out for their members.

Sometimes the union workers would hold marches and protests to complain about the bad conditions in which they worked and the low pay they received.

In September 5, 1882, union workers from many different trades, or kinds of jobsgot together to hold a big event. The workers took a day off and lost a day’s pay to march in New York City. They demanded better pay, fewer hours, and safer working conditions.

After the march was over a whole bunch of those people stayed around to have a picnic and enjoy their day off with other families in New York’s Central Park.  This became the first unofficial Labor Day parade and may be the beginning of the Labor Day picnic tradition!

Labor Day Becomes an Official Holiday

That first march sparked a movement. From then on the celebration of workers became more popular in other parts of the United States every year. In 1887, Oregon was the first state to pass a law making Labor Day a holiday.

Just like playing ‘follow the leader’, other states like Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York also began passing laws in 1887 recognizing Thousands of union workers participated in the 2018 Labor Day Parade. New York City’s biggest labor unions came flooded the Midtown Manhattan street as a reminder of the hard-fought rights won by the nation’s labor unions and, according to the prevalent chant of the day, that “New York City is a Union Town.”

Normally, colorful parades are held in cities all over the nation, including St. Louis, Missouri. This year just like 2020, there may not be as many parades as we’ve seen in years past. With the number of Covid cases on the rise again, a lot of cities may not think large gatherings are a good idea right now. Guess we’ll have to wait and see about that.

In the meantime, back to the story. In 1894, Congress passed an act to celebrate American workers. That’s how Labor Day became a national holiday that would be held on the first Monday . Some people say the September date was chosen because it falls between the 4th of July and Thanksgiving.

But to tell you the truth, no one knows for sure if that’s the reason. One thing we do know. You can still celebrate the day with a picnic or a Bar-B-Q. Being outside, even with social distancing, you can have plenty of good, old fashion, fun!

Thank goodness working conditions have greatly improved in the United States since the 19th century. Even so, we still have a long way to go before all workers are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. You should ask your parents about the jobs they’ve had in the past and how they were treated. That could get really interesting.

Not every worker gets time off for Labor Day. Take me and Scoop the Cub Reporter for example. We’ll be all over the place this weekend. And do you know why?
Because we have a lot of ground to cover. We’ll be checking in with folks in and around Shady Pines reporting on what y’all are doing to celebrate this special holiday.
Why don’t you let us know in the comments below what you and your family are planning for this last unofficial weekend of summer!
See ya later. – Zulah
Summer Heat – Southern Style

Summer Heat – Southern Style

If You Can’t Take the Heat…

I think we can all agree the South is a land of epic weather.  I’m Zulah Talmadge with The Shady Pines Gazette news and I’m going to be talking about how we cope with the extremes of summer.

Now we know that in a single year, we can experience hurricanes, tornados, floods, droughts, a blizzard’s worth of snow, and a heast index in the triple digits. That’s already happened in Shady Pines.

What is it about the Southern heat that speaks to us like nothing else? It’s kinda like our sweat badge of courage—proof, in our minds, that we can stand mercury levels which would surely undo any of those folks up north. And we do it gracefully.

Southern women don’t sweat—we “glisten.”

It’s not enough, of course, for Southerners to bravely endure the heat. No, we need to talk about it! We are always searching for ever more colorful ways of describing the heat’s intensity.

Here at The Gazette, we took a poll and asked our neighbors for things they say when it’s hot. Let us know if we missed any.

The Heat’s On:

It’s not the heat—it’s the humidity.

It’s hotter’n blue blazes.

Is it hot enough for ya?

Man, it’s hot as all get-out!

It must be 90 in the shade.

This one’s gonna be a scorcher.

You could fry an egg on the sidewalk.

You could fry an egg on the hood of that car.

How Hot Is It Really?

It’s so hot the swimming pool is boiling.

It’s so hot the ice cream truck melted.

It’s like a steam bath out here.

It’s like walking through soup out here.

If it gets any hotter, I’ll have to take off stuff I really ought to keep on.

You could have a stroke out here.

I’m wilting.

I’m burning slap up.

I’m sweatin’ like a hog.

Could I stick my face in your deep-freeze for just a second?

Final Thoughts

Well, there you have it.

Some great expression to haul out this summer when you’re trying to explain just how dang uncomfortable it really is in you neck of the woods. Any other favorite expression you’d like to share? Please leave ’em in the comments below.

Stay cool y’all!

– Zulah Talmadge, Editor of The Shady Pines Gazette