Our nightly ritual…

Every night before heading off to bed, we barricade the couch to keep the dog off it. It’s not just the hair but he licks himself and it and leaves huge wet spots. We used to put a couple of chairs up on it every night but over the holidays we needed said chairs in the kitchen. And the two chairs played host to two of my stuffed animals. That meant we needed a new way to keep the dog off the couch and this is our solution!

The couch is bear-icaded

And yes, he in the middle is one of the Kodak Colorkins. He’s been around since my son was small (he’s now in his 30s.) He won him when he was a young lad. I still remember driving home from the Camera Centre with Klakki riding shotgun, belted into the seatbelt, naturally.

The dog doesn’t bother with them (yet) so they’re a good way to keep him off the couch and except for Klakki are lightweight making them easy to put up and take down.

And this really isn’t just a nightly ritual, it’s anytime we’re away and the dog is alone. Currently, during those times he ends up wearing his cone, too, so that he doesn’t scratch his ear that was recently operated on.



If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor – a YA novel by Barbara Ehrentreu

From MuseItUp Publishing – a YA novel by Barbara Ehrentreu

Carolyn Samuels is obsessed with the idea of being popular. She is convinced that the only thing keeping her from happiness is her too heavy for fashion body and not being a cheerleader. Hyperventilating when she gets nervous doesn’t help. When she is paired for a math project with the girl who tormented her in middle school, Jennifer Taylor, she is sure it is going to be another year of pain. With Carolyn’s crush on Jennifer’s hunky junior quarterback, Brad, her freshman year in high school looks like a rerun of middle school. When Jennifer is the only student who knows why she fell in gym class, Carolyn is blackmailed into doing her math homework in return for Jennifer’s silence. Jennifer takes on Carolyn as a pity project since she can’t be seen with someone who dresses in jeans and sweatshirts. When Jennifer invites Carolyn to spend the night to make her over and teach her to tumble, Carolyn learns Jennifer’s secret and lies to her own friends to cover it up. Will Carolyn become a cheerleader and popular? Does she continue to keep Jennifer’s secret? Or will she be a target of this mean girl again?


I spot him walking toward my locker with a small box in one hand and a plastic fork in the other. My Crush! He hands me the box, and I open it. Inside is a piece of luscious chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. I look up into his blue eyes and give him the box so I can touch his cheek as I smooth his dark hair. “You always know just what I like.” He smiles and feeds me a forkful of cake. I don’t have to worry about eating it because I can eat anything I want and not gain weight. He places the cake box in my locker so he can put his arms around me. The first bell rings in my ears. I ignore it because I’m thin and blonde and floating in the arms of my dark- haired crush. The other cheerleaders run up to us laughing and kidding around, and I’m about to speak. The ringing gets louder.

The dream evaporates, and I realize it’s the darn alarm piercing my sleep. Slamming my fist onto the snooze button, I get this nagging feeling. Then I remember. I have something to do. Worse luck, I have to do it, not as the slender blonde beauty in my dream, but as the real Carolyn Samuels with my brown curly hair hanging like shriveled spaghetti, mud brown eyes, and a body too large for fashion.

I see my new book bag is packed and ready by the door with the initials C. S. in blue, my favorite color. Suddenly it hits me, and I get this dizzy let-me-plop-on-the-pillow feeling. Freshman year of high school—first day. My brain is ready, but my body isn’t. Jennifer will be there. Math class and Jennifer; gym class with Jennifer. My body curls into a fetal position, and I throw the covers over my head. Don’t faint Carolyn, I tell myself, panting.

Dangling over the chair are those size twelve jeans, clown pants—hardly a fashion statement. I groan. Paired with the red long-sleeved T-shirt, they looked so good on the mannequin; I’ll look like a stoplight. What was I thinking? How could I possibly go to school looking like such a freak?

Actually, the real reason I can’t go is Jennifer, with her long straight blonde hair, perfect body, and clothes from magazines like Teen and Seventeen. Yuck. I feel sick, sick with Jenniferitis. I hear Mom’s footsteps on the stairs. “Why are you still in bed?” She comes upstairs and peeks into my room with a puzzled look on her face.

Moving the blanket up to my nose, I say, “Mom, I can’t stop shivering, and my stomach and head hurt.” She feels my head and looks at me with mother vision. “Carolyn, did you think I’d fall for your tricks?”

I cringe. Now my stomach and head ache for real. Defeated, I climb out of bed and get washed. I slip the hated outfit onto my body and glance at my bloated reflection in the mirror. It’s too late to change. I’m stuck with this. If only I could be like Jennifer Taylor. After picking up my book bag, I race down the stairs, take a couple of bites of a chocolate-chocolate chip muffin and a few sips of non-fat milk. I almost trip over a lump blocking the door. Max, our five-year old Newfoundland raises his massive bear-like head, sniffing like he’s never eaten a thing in his life when he sees my muffin. I glance at his empty bowl and throw the rest of the muffin into it. He sees it and licks my face; now I’m going to smell like dog food all day. Grabbing a paper towel, I wipe my face and lean to ruffle his soft fur. At least Max doesn’t care what I wear. Feed him and rub him under his chin, and he’ll cover you with slurpy kisses. Mom is already in our three-year-old silver Malibu that, like my jeans, doesn’t quite make a fashion statement. On the drive to school, I’m looking forward to seeing Becky and Janie my two best friends from forever. Don’t want to see Jennifer’s face on the first day of high school.

If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor has been nominated for Best Young Adult Book of 2011 in the Preditors and Editors Poll. You can vote for it at:


You can buy If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor for $5.95 US in PDF, Prc (Kindle), E-pub (Sony and Nook), or HTML from the MuseItUp Publishing site  here.

You can also purchase If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor from amazon.com in Paperback format for $9.95 or for the Kindle for $5.95.

About the Author:

Barbara, a retired teacher with a Masters degree in Reading and Writing K-12 and seventeen years of teaching experience lives with her family in Stamford, Connecticut. When she received her Masters degree she began writing seriously. If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, Barbara’s first YA novel, was published by MuseItUp Publishing, September 16th and was inspired by Paula Danziger. In addition, Barbara has a story in the anthology, Lavender Dreams, also published by MuseItUp Publishing. All proceeds from this anthology go to cancer research. Barbara also writes poetry and three of her poems are included in the soon to be published anthology, Prompted, a collaboration of members of The Anthologists.  Her blog, Barbara’s Meanderings, http://barbaraehrentreu.blogspot.com/, is networked on both Facebook and Blog Catalog. She hosts RRWL Tales from the Pages (Red River Writers Live Tales from the Pages) on Blog Talk Radio every 4th Thursday. In addition, her children’s story, “The Trouble with Follow the Leader” and an adult story, “Out on a Ledge” are published online She has written book reviews for Authorlink.com. and several of her reviews have been on Acewriters and Celebrity Café. She is a member of SCBWI. Writing is her life!

The ear saga continues…

Not only was Saturday New Years Eve but it was also the day that Jake had to go back to the vet to have his ear looked at and if it was deemed time, have his stitches removed.

Waiting at the vet's to get his stitches out

He’s looking pretty happy and content here. Actually, when the stitches did come out, the worst part for him was being held still. He wasn’t best pleased. Then the vet showed us how to clean his ear and massage it so that the skin and cartilage would re-adhere to each other. So armed with more ear drops for his chronic deep down inside the ear canal infection, more antibiotics, and the non-alcoholic antibacterial cleanser we brought him back home.

Back home and comfy on his bed

Today was the first time I cleaned and massaged his ear. When he saw me coming with a couple of gauze pads and the bottle of cleanser, he took off like a shot. Once I started, he didn’t find it too bad. Not that he found it all that good either but you get my meaning.

Inside his ear - drain holes and stitch holes after washing and massaging this morning

Now that the indignities are over and done with, he’s a-snooze on his bed. I don’t think he’s even moved all that much since I did it.