The Easter Egg Hunt in Shady Pines. What Could Go Wrong?

The Easter Egg Hunt in Shady Pines. What Could Go Wrong?

Let The Hunt Begin!

Springtime in Shady Pines Story Town is magical. Rain showers give way to clear blue skies, beautiful flowers. Easter is on the way.

Let’s take you back to a recent Easter weekend and an annual that includes a dash involving children, lots of sugar, and general mayhem. What could go wrong?

The Arrival

A big banner hangs over the entrance to Stonewall Park: Shady Pines Annual Easter Egg Hunt. On this bright Saturday morning, families arrive by the carload. Harold and Edna Sanders find a parking place close to all the action.

Their four-legged kids, Boomerang, an Australian Shepherd dog and Halley’s Comet, a silver streak of a cat, are with them.

“Here we are gang,” says Harold. “Look at all the people!”

Edna pauses for a moment to take in the scene. She sees balloons tied to booths where people are selling all sorts of foods and drinks.

“Harold, how about some hot chocolate?”

Harold snaps the leash onto Boomer’s collar. “That sounds good. Boomer and I will get us some.”

Meanwhile Halley fidgets with her pink walking harness. Edna holds her leash. “C’mon Halley. Let’s mingle.”

Once back together, holding cups of steaming hot chocolate, Harold and Edna search for the sign-in table.

“I can see it, Edna. It’s right over there.”

The Sanders’ family heads in that direction. At the same time, a group of children dressed in colorful clothes and bunny ears races past them, nearly knocking them over.

Boomer barks. “Hey, watch where you’re going!”

“We’d get in trouble if we did that,” says Halley.

Edna regains her balance. “Whoopsie. That was close.”

Harold reaches for her hand. “I think those kids are eating too many chocolate Easter bunnies.”

Edna agrees. “Look around. Hot chocolate, chocolate eggs and bunnies, jelly beans, candy. No wonder the kids are hyper.”

The Assignment

A woman is waving at them. “Yoo-Hoo! Harold, Edna!”

“It’s Maggie,” says Edna.

Harold recognizes the owner of Maggie’s Diner. “Hey, Maggie.”

Maggie reaches down to pat Boomer and pet Halley. “Hi you guys. Let’s get you checked in. I’ve got a list of the children you’ll be helping.”

Boomer barks. “Oh, boy! Halley, we’re going to round up kids.”

Halley rolls her eyes. “Boomer, I know you’re a herding expert. But this is a search thing, not a round-up.”

“You don’t know,” says Boomer.

“Do, too,” says Halley.

“Do not.”

Maggie hands a map to Harold and Edna. It shows where each group will hunt for treats. “You folks will have 4 kids in your group to manage.”

They’re Off!

Before you can say, “hop to it,” the children arrive at the starting point giggling and laughing. They carry baskets and buckets and are ready to go.

“All right everyone,” says Harold. “Remember to look high and low all over this area.”

“We’ll be here to help,” says Edna. “Ready, set, GO!”

With one big burst of energy a whole bunch of little legs start running in all directions.

“Honey, how ’bout Boomer and I go that way and you and Halley go over yonder,” suggests Harold.

Edna looks at Harold. “And we’re actually going to help them find more chocolate?”

“Yep. That’s the plan,” says Harold.

“Halley, I bet I find more stuff than you do,” yells Boomer.

Halley yells back, “Oh, no, you won’t!”

Most of the kids start by collecting the eggs right in front of them on the ground. Others get more adventurous and try to climb trees. A couple of boys dash off through a hedge of bushes and out of bounds.

Go Get ‘Em!

“Uh-oh. Boomer it’s time to do your thing. Let’s go round up those little whipper snappers,” says Harold.

Boomer barks. “I knew it. I told that silly cat this was a job for a herding dog.” With that, Boomer takes off.

“Whoa! Boomer! Not so FAST!” yells Harold.

Meanwhile, Edna notices one little girl sitting by herself under a tree. “Halley, let’s go over and talk to her.” Halley meows.

“Hi sweetie, says Edna. “This is Halley’s Comet, or Halley, for short. What’s your name?”

The youngster with the big brown eyes and pigtails pets Halley. “Susan.”

Halley purrs.

“Don’t you want to hunt for Easter eggs, Susan?” asks Edna.

“I never find as many as the other kids. Plus, my mom doesn’t like me to eat sugar.”

Edna thinks for a moment. “How would like it if Halley helps you find some of the real eggs that are hidden? They’re good for you.”

Susan lights up. “OK.”

It’s not long before the children’s baskets and buckets fill up with colorful real and plastic eggs, clusters of jelly beans, chocolate bunnies and more. Some of the plastic eggs include notes.

Susan finds one of those.

“What does it say?” asks Edna.

Susan unfolds the piece of paper. “It says ‘do 5  jumping jacks.'”

“Well, isn’t that clever,” says Edna.

What Did You Find?

While enthusiasm for the hunt is still strong, some of the children start to peter out. They’ve been searching for a long time and are getting tired. A few of them line up and compare what they’ve hauled in.

“How many chocolate eggs did you get?” asks Betty.

“Um. A bunch. But I got a lot of plastic eggs with candy inside,” answers Ellen.

“I got some of those. But these have carrot sticks in them,” says Tim.

“Hey, does anyone want my jelly beans?” asks Simon.

“I’ll trade you some jelly beans for some of my chocolate eggs,” says Betty.

Harold and Boomer catch up with Edna and Halley. “Hi, honey. How did things go?” asks Harold.

“It went well,” says Edna. “Some of the kids got really competitive. I had to remind them there was plenty for everyone and they should be nice to one another. What about you?”

Harold strokes Boomer’s head. “Well, there was nearly a fight over a big chocolate bunny. Oh, and our favorite cattle herding dog had no trouble rounding up some wayward boys.”

“I told you Halley. I told you I’d have to round up somebody,” says Boomer.

Halley shakes her head. “Oh Pah-Leeze. You’re such a hero.”

“I know,” says Boomer.

“I was kidding,” says Halley.

Harold hugs his wife. “That was fun. But what do you say we head home?”

Edna smiles. “Good idea. We need to figure out what we’re going to have for Easter dinner.”

“Let me guess. We’re not going to have chocolate cake?” asks Harold.

Edna winks at him. “Not Eggs-actly!”

And that’s where we leave the Sanders family as they make their way home to Dogwood Drive across from Copycat Lane in the small Southern town of Shady Pines.

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Top 5 Facts to Know about Spring in Shady Pines

Top 5 Facts to Know about Spring in Shady Pines

It’s Spring Y’all!

Extra! Extra! Read all about it. Our top story in The Shady Pines Gazette is that as of Tuesday March 19th Spring has Sprung! That’s right.

The good people of Shady Pines Story Town are brimming with excitement and energy. I’m Zulah Talmadge, Editor of The Gazette, and together with Scoop The Cub Reporter, we are on the story.

The truth is, Scoop and I love this time of year here in our small Southern town. There’s just a wonderful feel to the air.

We put our heads together and came up with the Top 5 Things we think about most this time of year. See if you agree with us.

Reasons We Love Spring

1. Warmer Temperatures

As winter fades from the calendar, the temperature slowly starts to rise.

We go from building creations in the snow while wearing heavy coats, scarves  and boots to something else entirely.

In the blink of an eye, we bring out light jackets, then sweaters and finally short sleeves.

Soon you hear children laughing and see them chasing one another while playing all sorts of games outside.

2. Longer Days

The reason all of us are staying outside more is becuase the days are getting longer.With the arrival of spring, daylight hours extend as the sun rises earlier and sets later.

This increase in daylight very clearly shows us the changing season.A happy family hugging their pets

And as an added benefit, all those rays of sunshine help lift our moods and increase our energy. Don’t just take our word for it. Watch the pets in your life and see how they’re reacting.

If they’re anything like the Sanders’ favorite critters, Boomer and Halley, you’ll have your hands and arms full keeping up with them!

The Azaela Festival

4. Blooming Flowers

One of the most visually striking signs of spring is the arrival of those springtime flowers.

Acoss the southern region where we live all kinds of flowers bloom during this time. Parks, gardens, and neighborhoods burst with vibrant colors.

Why you can see tulips, daffodils, cherry blossoms, and magnolias popping up.

But around here we are partial to azaleas.

In fact, azaleas are such a big deal, we created a whole festival devoted to them. Yep.

We call it – what else? The Azalea Festival. People get all dressed up to attend a whole weekend filled with events and live entertainment.

There’s even a full scale parade with an Azalea Queen and her Court.

It’s a bloomin’ good time for one and all!

What We Don’t Like

5. Allergy Season

Not to be a downer but we do have to mention a not-so-peasant part of all those flowering plants and trees.

One of the Signs of Spring is the increase in pollen levels which triggers seasonal allergies for a lot of us.

Those springtime trees, grasses, and flowers release pollen into the air.

If you’re sensitive to pollen you’ll probably find yourself with symptom like sneezing, congestion, and itchy eyes.

Fortunately the pollen usually only lasts a few weeks.

Then you can put away the allergy meds, tissues and eye drops and enjoy spring to the fullest.

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They’re Seeing Red In Shady Pines for Good Reason!

They’re Seeing Red In Shady Pines for Good Reason!

Red Alert

There are three good reasons to wear red this month. Do you know what they are?

I’m Zulah Talmadge, editor of The Shady Pines Gazette and we’re working on a story about that very thing.

You see first of all it’s Heart Month. This is the time each year to really focus on your heart health. More on that in a minute.

And of course, Februray 14th is Valentine’s Day. That’s the day we set aside each year to express our deepest affections for our loved ones. Bring on the flowers and chocolate!

Dragons Rule

Finally, this month marks the begining of the Chinese New Year of the Dragon. And the color associated with that is – you guessed it. Red!

What do you really know about this Year of the Wood Dragon? It runs from Feb. 10, 2024 – Jan. 28, 2025.

Someone very well known here in Shady Pines was born under this sign. And he’s our very own mayor, Beauregard P. Fibbs.

A zodiac sign in the Chinese calendar is an animal that represents each year in a 12-year cycle.

A person’s Chinese zodiac sign is determined by his or her date of birth. Which one is yours?  GO HERE

You might be interested to know that people born in the year of the Dragon are: charismatic, intelligent, confident, powerful, naturally gifted, and lucky.

Sounds a lot like Mayor Fibbs to me! 

Heart Health

Heart Health Month is a good time to protect yourself against heart disease. It’s never too young to start.

Rita Malena can tell you all about this topic. She’s the Director of The Shady Pines Community Center. A couple of  years ago Rita discovered heart disease runs in her family.

Rita says even youngsters like Ray Robinson can help themselves by doing small heart-healthy actions like running around more with Boomer and Halley.

Besides exercise, choosing to eat healthy foods also helps. Just doing those two things can have a big impact on protecting our hearts.

Because she’s an adult, Rita says her doctor also suggests that she have some basic screenings.

She should be checked for blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and body mass index. 

The Heart Of The Matter

Now we come to the red day in mid February devoted to love. Valentine’s Day means different things to different people.

But at the heart of it, February 14th is the day set aside to remind that special someone in your life how much they mean to you.

In the Sanders household there’s a twist. The love between Harold and Edna Sanders is widely known. 

But ever since that Australian Shepherd dog, Boomerang and the silver streak of a cat, Halley’s Comet came to live with them, well the love has expanded four-paws fold.

Oh sure, there are times when Harold and Edna freely admit those two rascals get on their last nerve! 

On the other hand, this once childless couple now has two spunky kids that they wouldn’t trade for anything.

So you tell me. That’s love isn’t it?

Happy Valentines Day from all of us at Shady Pines Story Town to you!

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How We Experience Martin Luther King Day in Shady Pines

How We Experience Martin Luther King Day in Shady Pines

An Important Message

A new year is just beginning. What a wonderful opportunity for all of us set a respectful and kind tone in the year ahead. Remembering the life of a true leader is a good way to start.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is Monday, January 16. Many of our businesses in Shady Pines will be closed on this national holiday.

Rita Marena is the Director of the Community Center. Since the elementary school next door will also be closed, Rita is putting together a program Monday to help children know more about this important civil rights hero.

Who Is Martin Luther King, Jr?

He was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on January 15, 1929.  Martin Luther King Jr. made it his life’s mission to bring compassion, fairness and equality to all Americans.

Not everyone believed the way he did back in the 1950’s and ’60’s. To bring about change in America, Dr. King became a social activist and civil rights leader.

He lived in the South and fought against the longstanding practice he experienced that not all people were treated the same. He saw that Black people did not have the same rights as White people so he led peaceful marches and nonviolent protests.

Guided By Family, Faith and The Constitution

Martin became a Baptist minister. His faith guided him to believe in justice and the United States Constitution which says that all people in this country have the same rights no matter the color of their hair, skin, religion, age, disability or nationality.

He was married to Coretta Scott King, who helped lead the way during the civil rights movement. They were married nearly 15 years.

Dr. King gave his life for his Dream of Equality for All. Thousands of people were there for his famous speech on the mall in Washington DC where he declared that dream.

Shortly after that, Dr. King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.

The Dream Lives On

Monday at the Shady Pines Community Center Rita will lead the celebration of Martin Luther King Day. Children will be asked to think about their dreams. What inspires them?

Ray Robinson will be there. He’s been learning about Dr. King in school and he will talk about ways kids and their families can make the world a kinder place through peaceful change, just like Dr. King did. 

The children will write down their dreams and ideas or draw pictures. Then they’ll have something on paper to hang on the fridge or elsewhere at home. It will be a source of inspiration throughout the year.

Martin Luther King’s legacy continues to lift up people who learn about his determination to make us better people and a better nation. You can visit the monument created in his honor in Washington, DC.

Written on the side of the monument are theses words: “Out Of The Mountain Of Despair A Stone Of  Hope.”

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Making New Year’s Resolutions in Shady Pines with Boomer and Halley

Making New Year’s Resolutions in Shady Pines with Boomer and Halley

A New Year Is Near

Shadows deepen early each day in late December. Streetlights around Shady Pines flicker on just after 5 pm. Why, before you know it, it’ll be New Year’s Day 2024!

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

Heading Home

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.” Harold gives the multi colored dog a 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.”

The 4-Legged Kids

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 in the closet by the back door and walks 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?”

Mapping Out 2024

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

“Next year’s calendar. Is this one okay?” asks Harold.

“Absolutley. Thank you dear. 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.”

Now that dinner is over, the dishes 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 last year.”

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

Both pets look up at the same time.

New Challenges

“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. I hear Australian Shepherds are very good at it.”

“Well he really likes to run fast that’s for sure,” says Harold. “What about Halley?”

Edna thinks for a moment. “I think we should try another ‘walking on a leash’ class for my girl. She still doesn’t have the hang of it yet.”

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

“Fun?” asks 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 and around 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 is quick and uses all his athletic skills to round up humans.”

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

Play To Your Strength

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, and spend more time with you and the kids.”

Edna has some thoughts for that column, too. “I want to lose about 10 pounds, come up with new recipes for the cookbook I’m writing. Oh, and I want to 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 lovely person?”

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

Harold nods.

Start The Year Off Right

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 lots of opportunities to express kindness and caring in the new year. After all, that’s what folks do in the small Southern town of Shady Pines.

Happy New Year!

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Tracking Christmas Hope, Peace, Joy and Love with our Shady Pines Advent Calendar

Tracking Christmas Hope, Peace, Joy and Love with our Shady Pines Advent Calendar

Countdown To Christmas

December is right around the corner. You know what that means. The tempo of everyday life is about to go into overdrive.

Christmas decorations show up all over Shady Pines from stores to neighborhoods. Radio stations play Christmas carols non stop. And that’s not all.

There are invitations to parties, Christmas cards and greetings to send, school plays to attend. The annual To-Do list keeps getting longer.

Not to mention the ads for toys are everywhere.

It can get overwhelming.

So during this hectic season how can we slow down and consider what’s really important?

One Day At a Time

It seems Edna Sanders has an idea. She’s in the family’s kitchen opening a package. “Look, Harold.  This just arrived.”

Harold pours another cup of coffee and looks over at his wife. “What do you have there ‘hon?”

“Why it’s the Advent Calendar I ordered.”

Harold moves closer. “I didn’t know you’d done that.”

Edna shows the seasonal calendar to him. “Starting the first of December this one highlights important messages each day.”

“Like what?” asks Harold.

Edna shows Harold the back of the calendar. “Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. It says here that that’s what each of the Sundays during Advent represent.”

She keeps reading. “The season of Advent 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 special celebration.”

“You also may also see Avent Wreaths. Each candle has a separate meaning.”

“Huh,” says Harold. “Look. The first candle is Hope to symbolize the Prophesy. It’s purple. Peace is second to represent Bethlehem. The third candle, Joy, is pink for the Shepherds and then, Love. That’s for the angels. This is so interesting.”

Edna claps her hands together. “You know what we should do?”

Harold is afraid to ask. “No. What?”

“We should make our own Advent Wreath.”

Boomer and Halley are Confused

Just then, the couple’s two four legged children wander in. Boomerang, the Australian Shepherd dog, laps water from his bowl.

Halley’s Comet, a silever streak of a cat, jumps up on the kitchen table and rubs against Edna’s shoulder.

“Hi girl,” says Edna. Look at my calendar. We’re going to open one little door each day until Christmas.”

Halley glances at Boomer. “Hey, Boom. Isn’t Christmas the day we get presents and I get to play with all that ribbon?”

Boomer plops down on Harold’s feet. “Yeah. I think so. I like to rip up the paper.”

Halley stares at Edna’s face. “I wonder why mom is so happy about this cardboard thing?”

“I dunno,” says Boomer. “It’s not even wrapped.”

Halley drops to the floor and makes a beeline to her comfy window seat. “I sure hope the folks still plan to get me a new squeaky toy.”

Boomer cocks his head. “And I could really use a new bone.”

 Memories and Lessons

Edna gazes out the kitchen’s large double pane window. “You know Harold when I was a little girl my grandmother used to get me an Advent Calendar every year.”

Harold smiles. “I didn’t know that.”

“Grandma Josie wasn’t especially religious. But she wanted me to focus on something or someone other than myself.  She made me calendars with notes to inspire me to give back to others.”

“What a lovely idea,” says Harold

Edna tilts her head. “Each day there was a message like. How can you help someone today? or What does your best friend want for Christmas?”

Harold strokes Boomer’s head. “When I was a kid, I thought Advent Calendars were just something to keep the kids busy. I never thought of them as a way to promote conversation around important issues.”

Edna looks from Halley to Boomer. “I wonder what these two would say if they knew we were going to focus more on Hope, Peace, Joy and Love this Christmas rather than toys?”

Harold chuckles. “Let’s don’t tell them just yet.”

And that’s where we leave the Sanders family on the eve of an ever-so-special season in the small Southern town of Shady Pines.

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