Of Mice and Children

When I was six I lived a couple of blocks from St. Mary’s church. Both grand and inviting this beautiful circular structure was created by aboriginal architect Douglas Cardinal. My sister, friends and I loved to play hide and seek among the confessionals and pews. But we especially liked the mice that lived in the fields around the church.

One crisp October evening we got it into our heads that it was too cold for the mice to sleep safely outside. So we gathered up a dozen of them with the idea of providing warmer beds within the church.

I don’t know where we got the idea that mice couldn’t survive outside, but I have a feeling it had a lot to do with the stories we read as kids. From “The Night Before Christmas” to “The Country Mouse and the City Mouse” these critters seemed to be a lot like us humans. Thankfully, the kind priest helped us understand why mice must live outside.

Even though I no longer view mice through the humanizing eyes of a child I still love the children’s stories that do. I guess that’s why –even though Miss Emily Goes to Bat is the story about a cat –you’ll find mice on every page.

You can have a look at this amazing church at http://stmarysparish.shawwebspace.ca/photos/view/our_church/. The field is gone and the rose garden is new, but the building remains a work of art.

~Trina

Our Crazy Animals!

We very happily live on a farm in Creston, BC. The other day the sun was shining and  so Micheline’s daughter, Hannah, decided to head outside for some relaxing quiet time. The following is what she wrote about her little adventure outside and it also includes some pics of our crazy farm animals – it was so cute we had to share! 🙂

It was such a nice day out! And since I had planned on writing out the lyrics of one of my favourite songs I thought, ‘Might as well go outside and hang out in the sun and relax.’   

I got out there with my pen, paper and iPod, I sat down in the grass not too far from my ponies. The kittens were playing underneath one of the blue pine trees and Nala – our dog – was hanging out as well.

I began to write the lyrics of the song and my pony, Bandit, decided to come and say hi. He was nibbling grass, creeping slowly closer and closer, (He thinks he’s pretty sneaky. 😀 ) I thought nothing of if until he shoved my shoe out of the way to get the grass underneath! He kept shoving either my shoe or my knee or my hand. Eventually I pushed his nose away and kept writing.

Then the kittens decided to join, they came up and rubbed all over me and one jumped onto my lap and was purring in my ear and rubbing on my arms as I tried to write!

And of course who should show up next but Nala!!! She sat down beside me and was licking my hand. So I stopped writing and sat there for a minute petting the dog, petting the kittens. And occasionally shoving Bandit out of the way, thinking, ‘Yeah. This is real relaxing.’

After a bit I began to write again. This time I tried to ignore the animals. One of the kittens was attacking my headphones, one was sitting on my lap and Bandit…well he stole my pen. I wasn’t too happy with him for that.

Sigh…but those are our crazy animals! They just love you to death!!
– Hannah 😉

This picture below is Hannah with her other pony – Babe.  Thanks for your cute story Hannah!

Is April Fools Really Just for Fools?

My kids love April Fools –possibly because it’s a way to get back at Dad for his years of tomfoolery. You see it’s been their dad’s practice to make outrageous claims to our kids for as long as any of us can remember. In fact it’s standard family practice for the kids to look to me for confirmation (or not) whenever Dad tells them anything.

Since toddlerhood my kids have been told that fried chicken is actually “gicken”, a genetically modified chicken that has six legs and runs as fast as a gopher. They’ve been told that that we used to have to cut holes in their diapers when the boys were babies because they were born with tails –which subsequently “dried up and fell off”; when Will or Thom ask where mom is the standard answer is that I’ve “run away with the ice-cream man.”

Our children’s true parentage has ranged from aliens to monkeys and Charley Cat is actually a superior being sent to study humans. Apparently we’ve agreed to allow him to board with us free of charge in exchange for immunity when the cat aliens take over the planet.

Thankfully my children have learned from a very young age that you can’t believe everything you hear. And they’ve gotten really good at questioning what they’re told –even the believable stuff.

According to Wikipedia April Fools has been around for a very long time with possible origins going as far back as 536 BC, Persia (now Iran). It makes me wonder whether these ancients recognized a benefit to foolery on the development of critical thinking skills.  Has April Fools actually helped us to become smarter, more discerning human beings? Or is it just one more way to produce what many refer to as “the best medicine”; laughter.

~ Trina

You can download a free larger printable PDF version of this April Fool’s colouring page by clicking here >>> Colouring Pages

Singing a Different Tune

Last week I got to read Miss Emily Goes to Bat to three different classrooms (photos an updates on these coming soon!). I hadn’t read to a group for over a month and was surprised by just how much I’d missed it.

The thing is, I can’t sing. I love music – blues, big band, do-wop, country, reggae, classic rock, 80’s hair bands, 90’s grunge and yes, even the new bands whose lead singers are young enough to be my own kids.

I watch American Idol, The Voice and even that cheesy game show, Don’t forget the Lyrics. But I can’t sing. In fact I’m such a bad singer that when my boys Will and Thom were babies and nursing,  anytime I began to sing to them they’d respond with a tiny little hand to my mouth. “Please don’t sing mom, you’re ruining a perfectly good meal here.”

So you see, I’ll never make it as a rock star. Naturally I thought that the acclaim of the crowd (or even my babies) was forever out of my grasp. And then Miss Emily happened and the crowd went wild…

Yes, I know it’s not really me; it’s Miss Emily and Will and Thom that the kids love. Yes, I realize that their laughter is really reserved for the three mice riding on the top of the bus, that their attention is on Rover the Dog as he steps in a pail and they lean forward in their seats –breaths held in anticipation– over Coach Burt’s reaction to the “mess that’s been made”.

But when the story is over and I see the small hands lift up from within the crowd of listeners, not to ask for silence but to ask questions, I realize I might be wrong. I think about the melody in narrative, the tempo in the telling, the chorus of action in all the characters. Maybe I’m just singing a different kind of song after all.

Taking the Cat for a Walk?

The forest on the back of our property has a trail that loops around and follows the fence line. This morning Shane, myself, Hannah and Hunter went for a walk in the forest. Obviously, our dogs LOVE to go for a walk but the funny thing is that one of our cats does as well… actually Ogden (that’s his name) is still a growing kitten but he goes with us for the entire walk!!! We are wondering if he is really a puppy at heart! 😀

He’s just about as cute as Miss Emily! 😉

~Micheline

Inspiration

Inspiration can come from anywhere but sometimes it comes directly from things closest to us – like our pets or our children! Our first book, Miss Emily Goes to Bat, has two young characters named, William and Thomas, who actually happen to be inspired by Trina Ayling’s  own boys.  I, Micheline, thought it would be fun to show some recent pics I took of the real William and Thomas and put those alongside the illustrated characters. It is great deriving these characters from life and I am excited about the secound Miss Emily book because in addition to William and Thomas, it will feature my two kidlets, Hannah and Hunter. 🙂