Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Tutu's and Dog Hair: Roo for Team Carlin

It is nearly impossible to get dog hair out of a tutu.

(That will make more sense in a little while)

My love of animals has allowed me to experience so many wonderful things and make incredible new friends.  So when one of those incredible new friends told me about a special young lady she knew of, I knew what I wanted to do.  Kate, a talented artist and creative genius extraordinaire at Farmhouse 38, is someone I met through blogging but has become an amazing friend.  She has been a big supporter of Roo, has helped out with several projects, and always loves to read about and see pictures of the fun Roo has with the children at school.  

Travel = Naps for Roo
It’s no surprise that our conversations often include stories about our animals, but this conversation was much different.  Kate told me about a family that she knows that lives in Kentucky who are also big animal lovers.  Rick, Wendy, Harper and Carlin; four people who are also going through a very difficult journey.  I asked Kate to pass my information on to Wendy in hopes that I could do something for them, and soon arrangements had been made.  We were going on a road trip!

But it wasn't the bluegrass's of Kentucky we were making our destination.  Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and their Family Pet Center would be where we would meet our fellow animal lovers and spend some time with them.  The weather was perfectly sunny and warm.  The visiting area had both an outdoor and indoor area provided; we couldn't pass up this chance to sit outside in the shade and get some fresh air!  We sat and waited patiently while the Child Life Specialists went up to tend to their requirements that would bring the family down to see us.  Roo laid down on his mat, knowing that soon he’d have company,trying to look nonchalant.  This is no easy feat for a 75 lb male collie...wearing a ladybug print.  (Again, I’ll get to that in a bit)

Roo the lovebug

Harper reading as Carlin
provided Roo's refreshments
Soon the door opened and lead out by the hospital representatives were Rick, Wendy, Grandma, and two little girls.  Harper, the oldest daughter, walked closely to her mom and peeked around at us shyly.  Carlin, the youngest daughter, walked boldly out into the visiting area in her purple frilly dress, purple hat and hospital mask.  As soon as they caught sight of Roo in his tutu, smiles lit up everyone’s faces!  Introductions were made and soon we all had settled in for our visit.  Harper sat down next to us and began to read a story about a mama dog and her puppies.  Carlin sat down with me and began to feed Roo his baby carrot treats.  As Harper’s voice carried across the visiting area, sounding out the words to the book she’d told us she’d been practicing just for our visit, Carlin’s tiny voice could be heard in the pauses in between.  “More carrots?  Another carrot?”  My therapy dog had found his nirvana: one child telling him a story while another child fills his belly full of snacks!

Carlin getting ready to feed Roo another carrot.
(photo by Wendy)
Roo had brought goodies for the girls.  Some flower leis and bracelets, shiny spirals to hang from the ceiling, a stamp set and a sticker mosaic kit were some things we had picked out to help brighten their time spent in the hospital room.  A bundle of blank bookmarks to personalize and lots of stickers to decorate with were to help encourage their love of reading.  Roo wanted Carlin to have a special reminder of his visit with her, so she was given a stuffed Roo dog that she could cuddle with any time she wanted.  The stuffed animal couldn't do tricks or eat carrots like Roo but, as Harper so wisely pointed out, it wouldn't get stinky carrot breath either!  Hugs were shared all around as our visit came to a close and we made a promise to come back again when she was ready for another visit.  Roo made the trip home a tired, but very happy dog.

Here is the point in time where I will explain the tutu, but unfortunately it’s also when a very ugly word comes into play: cancer.  Beautiful, sweet, tiny Carlin was diagnosed in the fall of 2013 with ETANTR (embryonal tumor with abundant neuropil and true rosettes).  This type of cancer is very rare, very aggressive, and is mainly seen in children below the age of 4. Carlin has undergone surgery and is currently being treated with rounds of chemo. In the weeks to come she will start radiation therapy.  When we visited with this little sweetheart, she had been at the hospital for two months; away from her home, from her animals, from her family life.  She could only be outside her room for a limited time and under very specific conditions.  To watch her spend time outside, with her loving family, and with a therapy dog was incredible.  I’m so thankful we were given that opportunity.

Carlin is a fighter, though she may love the pretty things in life.  That’s why the motto on her website is so fitting: Tutu Tough!  It’s girly, yet so powerful - just like her spirit!  I encourage you all to visit Carlin’s website to learn more about this amazing family and the journey they are on to help their daughter fight brain cancer.  While you are there, you’ll learn a little more about ETANTR, how you can help support Carlin's treatment, and how to get your own Team Carlin Tutu Tough gear!  Roo even wore a tutu (ladybug print was fitting for Roo the lovebug) on our visit to show his support and be #tututough!  Let’s make a statement and join him! Some of my favorite people did and just look at the fabulous fashion statement it made. Tutu Power Rules!

Will, Olivia, Meredith, Evie & Roo...come on guys!
Let's not be so formal.  Loosen up!  Get Silly!

Alright guys!  That's great!  Definitely #tututough!

Ok, maybe a little TOO SILLY!  Let's bring it back down a notch!

Perfect!  Thank you my tutu cuties!

Roo rocking his tutu

If you would like to send a card or letter in support and well wishes to Carlin and her family, please send mail to:
Carlin Beasley
3333 Burnet Ave
Cincinnati, OH 45229-3026

I’m proud to be on Team Carlin and honored to have met her family.  Spending time with them has shown me how someone can be facing immense challenges, but still be a positive and loving person.  I urge you to open your eyes to that in your own life.  The next time you open your mouth to gripe about your child’s behavior, or whine about their sports schedule, or any of the trivial parenting matters we see complaints about so much across social media, just stop and think.  Your child is with you, healthy and active.  Your child isn't facing odds grievous enough to make the strongest of grownups break down.  Your child is acting like a child, frustrating as it may be from time to time.  Take a deep breath and deal with things accordingly instead of shaming them on Facebook or blowing the situation out of proportion.  Then, take a quiet moment to appreciate the time you have been given with your child.  Our time with them is so precious and ever changing in this life.  And as they say, nothing is ever guaranteed to us.  Make your time with them count.  I know the amazing people on Team Carlin are doing what they can to make the best of every moment.

Rick, Wendy, Harper, Carlin and Roo;
so much love in such a small space!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Wonderful Wednesday: Double Blogger Book Suggestions

It's Wonderful Wednesday, which means we are going to share with you some more of our favorite reads.  But this Wednesday is especially wonderful for me.  Why?  I get to let two of my favorite folks be our guest bloggers today and share three books/series you shouldn't miss!

Here is the mother/son blogger team (my amazing aunt/nephew by the way) of Angie and Will!  I'm going to let Will share first, because I sure do love that boy!  He ALWAYS stops to pet me at school...that's true love right there.  Take it away Will and Angie!


Hi, my name is Will and I am one of the Read to Roo Team members.  I have read to Roo before.  Here are some of my favorite books.


Captain Underpants

Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Hard Luck

I am one of the newest Read to Roo blog team members.  Roo is one of my favorite animals.  This is my first blog.  I hope you liked it.

By: Will


Hi!  My name is Angie and I am a member of the New Read To Roo Blog Team!  I am very excited to help Roo reach lots of people and share his love of reading.  I am Mom to two other members of our team, Olivia & Will.  They will writing to introduce themselves very soon!  As a family we enjoy sports, raising animals for 4-H including swine and cattle and camping.  As for myself I love to scrapbook and capture all of our adventures in pictures.   

I thought it would be fun to share my top 3 books of all time.  I have really enjoyed reading these books and maybe you have too!   

1)  "The Secret Garden" by Frances Hodgson Burnett.   This story is about a little girl who finds an unlikely friend deep within the garden walls.  She finds that as much as she helps him heal his wounds, he also helps her. 
2)  "The Boxcar Children" by Gertrude Chandler Warner.  Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny are orphans and live in a boxcar that they made into a perfect little home.  They take great care of each other through struggles and hard times because they all want to stay together.   

3)  "Little House on the Prairie" by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I enjoyed all of the books in this series, especially the first installment.  Laura Ingalls is a young girl growing up, working hard and having fun with her family and friends.  She learns great lessons that everyone can relate to.   

Thank you for reading my first blog for Read To Roo!  I look forward to sharing again and reading the other blogs too!  Thank you to Roo and Tina for this opportunity!  Happy reading everyone! 

By: Angie

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Short Story from Arnold Haber: Guest Blogger Featured for Wonderful Wednesday

Hello friends!  As part of our "Wonderful Wednesday's" feature on our Facebook page, we are highlighting wonderful books that we love.  Our first book featured is "Fast Dog, Cool Cat, Hot Dog and a Time for Action" by author Arnold Haber.  One of our dear friends, Arnold has agreed to be a guest blogger here with us.  He has allowed us to share with you one of his first short stories published, entitled "Hello Gorgeous".  We hope you love it and check out his other works!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Moving Forward with Friends: A Read to Roo Reboot!

Hello friends!  Roo here, writing again after what has been an extended hiatus.  Many things have changed in our lives, forcing us to step back and get some perspective.  While we still continued to do our Read to Roo visits at school, Tina and I took a break from writing in this blog.  Tina has had a difficult time coping with the things going on, and struggled at times to keep thinking positively.  It wasn't her intention, but that began to reflect on our ambition for this blog.  Silent weeks lapsed into months.  Fortunately through reflection and the encouragement of some important people, we are stepping back up to the computer.

Read to Roo is getting a reboot!  We will be featuring new things on our Facebook page, but what we are most excited about is the introduction of our guest bloggers!  Tina aspired to make the blog a place where people could learn about many things associated with what we do...but she knew it would be hard to do alone.  That's where we were able to call upon our dream team of friends and ask for their insight.  We are pleased to say that we have a great group of people who have agreed to be on Team Roo and guest blog with us.  We have a few people who are still considering the request to write with us, but here is a little more about some friends who have already agreed to join up!

"A friend is one with whom you are comfortable, to whom you are loyal, through whom you are blessed, and for whom you are grateful."  -William Arthur Ward

We have been so fortunate in our lives to have made the friends we have these years past.  Countless happy faces greet us as we walk the hallways at school each Read to Roo day and many who have moved on to the upper grades still greet us with fond memories and warm hugs.  School staff and parents are especially kind and always make sure they tell us how much they enjoy us being there for everyone.

But even outside our school community, we have had such love and support shown to us that it is humbling.  Through our training and certification we met Tonya Wilhelm of Toledo Dog Training, who along with our little buddy Dexter made our classroom manners as polished as can be.  Tonya and Dexter became fast friends who we still love to this day!  In the R.E.A.D. community we got to know to other therapy dog teams and learn about their adventures.  Arnold Haber, children's author and longtime animal lover, became a pal of ours through R.E.A.D. connections and we are honored to know him.  His work shows just how deeply animals are rooted in his life and to us, that's tops!

Tina loves writing and was asked to be part of a (different) blogging adventure many months ago, to which she now considers very much meant to be.  Through that gathering of bloggers she was introduced to several strong, funny, talented women who she now considers to be close friends.  Lisa of Fresh Eggs Daily is a poultry pro and adores the canines in her life so dearly that they are featured in many of the photos she shares.  Tina and I love our chicken buddies, so we feel a real connection to Lisa's way of life.  Mindie from The (Mis)Adventures of a Born Again Farm Girl is a sassy, no nonsense kind of girl who is devoted fiercely to her family and her animal crew.  A conversation with Mindie is always sure to leave you laughing!  Mindie's son David may also be joining us as a young blogger.  Jennifer from 1840 Farm has been an admirer and wonderful supporter of us since we first met.  Jennifer is a mother, a book lover, an advocate for literacy and education, a collie fan (bonus points!) and a true compassionate soul.  We love her to bits and pieces and could not be more proud to call her a friend.  Jennifer's children may also be joining on our young blogger team!

Through our daily lives we have also been handed the opportunity to meet some incredible people.  Renee is a wonderful person who has a heart that beats strong for family and animals.  She is raising two amazing little girls with whom she shares her love for learning and is an active part of the humane society, organizing fundraisers, working special events or giving the animals some one-on-one attention.  Renee is such a fun, passionate person and we are thrilled to know her!  Renee's oldest daughter Rylie is also joining our young blogger team!  Lori is a book lover and parent of three children who just so happens to make animals her career!  Through her work at the veterinarian's office, Lori is able to help care for and show support for the creatures she cares so deeply about - myself included!  Our friend Belenda is a self proclaimed book-a-holic and we adore that about her!  An avid reader of all kinds of literature, she is someone Tina could talk all day with about how important reading is and the impact a wonderful story can have on your life.

When it comes to family, we have the best in the land!  From all sides we have always been given the love and support we need to keep going on.  Tina's mother-in-law Sally is a retired educator who has always loved learning and sharing that love with others.  Whether it was her students, her sons or now her grandchildren, Sally teaches those around her with an excitement and enthusiasm that is contagious!  Amanda is a cousin to Tina and someone that is just plain pawesome.  Yep!  I said it!  You name it and she does it: homeschooling, gardening, organic/natural living, big love for her animal friends.  Now you can see why she's the coolest!  Her mini-me Alyssa is also going to add her own sprinkle of cool to our young bloggers group!

Speaking of cool, how amazing are the kids in our family who support us?  Meredith (aka: my girl) has always been by my side since day one and she is the reason I do what I do.  Watching her learn to read made me want to be by the side of children who were learning, and sometimes struggling, to do the same thing.  She's still my #1 reading buddy and my very best friend forever.  Olivia, Will and Evie (aka: my kids) are Tina's niece's and nephew who give me big hugs, lots of kisses and tell me all about how nice they think I am.  Of course, I give all these things right back to them because they are just the best little friends this dog could have!  They've helped us as a therapy team through the years and I hope that they have learned a little from us too.  I cannot wait to see what "my girl and my kids" will come up with to share!

Last, but certainly not least, we have two extremely special friends we have to mention.  I am glad I am the one writing this because Tina would get all emotional and it would be very mushy around here.  These two ladies are those who Tina counts among her very best of best friends.  Lending support, sharing ideas, laughing and sometimes crying right along with her, they have shown they are deeply caring and so very selfless.  Without them, Read to Roo would be far less than it is and I know Tina's life would be as well.  The biggest collie kisses to Tonya, Tina's twin sister, and to Kate of Farmhouse 38 for your friendship and devotion.  Our lives are so much better because of you.

"Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light."  -Albert Schweitzer

We owe all these people great thanks.  In a time of need they have stepped up and not only helped support us, but boosted us forward.  Our light was in danger of going out but has been blown back into a bright, burning flame by them all.  We are honored to call them friends and we can't wait for you to get to know them as our guest bloggers.  Big things are in store, my friends.  Big, wonderful things.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Hand Wrapped Pencils from 1840 Farm: A Giveaway and Donations for Roo

I just love how wonderful books are.  Magical words woven into a story that can take you to places you've never even imagined!  Tina and I get to listen as our young friends explore these stories and share in their excitement as they discover new favorites.

Tina has quite a few friends who love reading just as much as she does.  One of these friends who is a fellow book lover is also a writer herself, a blogger and a very crafty woman!  Jennifer from 1840 Farm has been supportive of Tina and I from the day she met us, sending encouraging messages, sharing our posts and liking my fun photos.  Now she's gone and done something that makes me just so doggone grateful!

You see, Jennifer makes these really special pencils that are hand wrapped in pages from some amazing books!  They are as unique as they sound and something any book lover of any age would surely treasure!

1840 Farm is hosting a hand wrapped pencil set giveaway in which you can select your choice from the 1840 Farm Etsy shop and enter to win.  Their giveaway ends March 21st, so go enter today!

Big Heart Alert:  Jennifer from 1840 has graciously come up with a generous fundraiser idea to help our Read to Roo program!  From now until the end of 2013, 1840 Farm will make a charitable donation for every set of pencils sold.  She's even willing to let you help decide how much she donates!

She is starting at 25¢ per set, but you can help to double that amount.  If we receive over 500 entries for her giveaway, then the amount she donates over the course of the year will be doubled to 50¢ per set.  So, encourage your friends and family to join in the fun.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

GIVEAWAY & Roo's Interview with Rick Rieser: author of Percy the Perfectly Imperfect Chicken

Wow!  My first interview with an author.  I'm so excited!  Ok, I've got this under control.  I can do this.  *ahem*  Here we go...

Roo:  First of all, we'd like to tell you how glad we are to have you here with us.  My mom, Tina, met you back at the Ohio National in November of 2012 and spoke with you then about your wonderful book.  She said she knew right away that the kids here would just love Percy and love to hear from you.  So tell me a little about Percy.  Where did your great idea for this book hatch from?  (I couldn't resist!)

Rick: Well, that is a good question Roo. I have always liked chickens and have raised them since I was a small child. One characteristic is that they are not as “laid back” as other animals such as dogs. They can be perfectionist and “peck” at differences in other chickens. Sometimes I see this in people too. We all need to be more understanding about ourselves and celebrate our differences and the differences of others. Basically, we should be smarter than chickens!

Roo:  I guess there are those who "peck" in every species,aren't there?  In the book Percy struggles with being bullied and feeling like there is something wrong with him.  That he isn't "perfect".  Can you tell us what made you want to take on this difficult subject?

Rick:  Children today are being raised in a very complicated world. There is a lot of uncertainty in this world and children are under pressure. It seems like we are putting a lot of expectations on our children without giving them the help they need to grow up with a confident spirit. Bullying, like Percy experienced, robs children of hope. The understanding that shines through the Percy book is meant to provide hope and understanding for children today. We should begin with ourselves and learn that it is okay not to be perfect. Then we can be more accepting of others imperfections and not have a need to pick on them.

See my Lucky Foot?
Roo:  I don't know if you noticed, but I'm perfectly imperfect too.  I have what my mom calls a lucky foot.  I was born with a foot and leg deformity.  Some people think something is wrong with me and feel sorry for me.  Really, I'm just fine the way I am and love my life.  I hope I inspire people to love what makes them different, just like Percy.

Rick:  Well Roo, after meeting you, I am very inspired by your life. You have a very gentle spirit and I saw how you helped the many children who were in your assembly the other day. I also admire your dedication by spending time with the students as you do each week.  Both your lucky foot and your gentle message to the children are admirable. I could see the confidence the children have in you, in their smile.

Roo:  Thank you Mr. Rieser!  I sure love my friends and I know how much they love me.  What advice do you have for our young readers who might be bullied or who might feel different compared to their friends or brothers or sisters?

Rick:  Any student who is being bullied needs to tell their teacher and their parents. Being picked on persistently is not normal and no one should have to accept it. And also, realize that being different is okay, in fact it makes you and everyone else special. If you feel bad about being different that is also something that you should share with an adult that you trust.

Here I am trying to talk chicken with my buddy Kevin.
Roo:  I have 11 chicken friends at home and they are so much fun!  Chickens are a fun and silly way to help get across your important message.  Do your chickens do anything silly to make you laugh?

Rick:  My chickens are always doing something funny. From hiding the eggs they are hatching to chasing each other if one of them has found a worm. I especially like the young chickens as they are growing up and begin “strutting their feathers!”

Roo:  I know that you are many things, including a parent, a children's advocate, an author and a chicken keeper.  What do you think about the idea of reading to animals to promote relaxation and provide encouragement to children?

Rick:  There is a ton of research that proves that animal assisted education is highly effective. Roo, as you know when you are around your students, they are more calm and attentive than in a typical classroom. That means they are learning more with you than perhaps in a standard classroom. Also, some students who have a difficult time keeping focus in class are more likely to learn from you than in a typical classroom. Keep up the good work Roo!

Roo:  We'll sure try!  Say, what kinds of animals do you have at home?

Sprinkles the Silkie rooster poses by the Percy book at the event.
Rick:  My daughter and I have 35 chickens, three rabbits, two kitties, one dog, one dove and 5 fish!

Roo:  That's quite a crew!  I'm sure you and your daughter love them all.  What is your favorite thing about your own animals?

Rick:  Animals have their own intelligence that is different than ours. We can learn from that. My dog learns more about our world from what he sniffs that we could by reading 100 books.

Roo:  Speaking of books...what was your favorite book as a child?

Rick:  The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Roo:  Grrreat books!  I love writing and I know my little buds do too.  Any tips for our young aspiring authors?

Rick:  The biggest advice I can give is to start writing. Even sentences, poems or simple paragraphs are a wonderful way to start. If you want to be a writer then start writing and you will be. Don’t worry about being a “perfect writer” just have fun doing it.

Roo:  I love those tips!  I'd love to ask you this one last silly question.  If you were a dog, what kind of dog would you be?

Rick: A Golden Retriever

Roo:  Thank you so much Mr. Rieser for coming to our school, sharing your book and letting us meet your feathered friends.  I know we all had a great day and I really appreciate you sitting down to answer a few questions for me!

Speaking of Rick Rieser's wonderful book and the event we hosted, check out Tina's post about the event here.  Ready for something fun?  Me too!

Our FABULOUS Prizes!

We are doing a very special giveaway to help share the confidence building message that Percy the Perfectly Imperfect Chicken can inspire! Two Grand Prize Winners will receive an autographed softcover copy of Percy the Perfectly Imperfect Chicken and a Percy Learning Farms T-Shirt.  Three additional winners will receive a Percy Learning Farms T-Shirt.  (only sizes XS and XL are available) 

Follow the link below to enter for your chance to win!  The contest ends March 20th and the winners will be announced on March 21st.  Good Luck!

What are you waiting for my friends?


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Tina's Story Behind Read to Roo

Roo's Disclaimer:  

I'm letting mom write this blog entry.  She said that she wanted to explain how Read to Roo came to be.  Apparently she didn't like my idea of telling everyone that I just really love books and kids, plain and simple!  Here's Tina...take it away!