02 July 2018

What I'm Doing These Days

I had a really clear lightbulb moment on November 8, 2016. I know the precise date because it was election day. But this has nothing to do with the election, politics, or the ramifications of that election. Or maybe it does. Let's think this through.

On that fateful day I was talking with Pete Cowdin from the Rabbit Hole KC who'd just given a fascinating talk at Hallmark during Word Week. I was walking him out of the building. We talked about the Rabbit Hole. We talked about my job. Something Pete said caused a lightblub to switch on over my head and I walked away from him saying to myself, "I think I just got an idea for a Barbara Marhsall project."

I'd never before had even an inkling of an idea that was remotely worthy of a BMA proposal. So I wasn't sure if the idea I'd had after talking to Pete was legit. I spent a good 12 months thinking about it, refining it, seeking input from knowledgable folks (past BMA winners like Sergio, my wise and wonderful mother, my cleverest confidantes, Pete himself).

Finally, after much refinement, in January of this year I pitched my idea. And as anyone who knows me knows - I won.

design by John Donne - illustration by Lynn Giunta

I'm now one month into a six month sabbatical and have been blown away ... both by the excitement I feel as I explore the breadth and depth of the children's picture book world ... and by the disorientation I feel because - let's face it - I don't know what in the sam hill I'm doing. It's a huge shift to go from knowing just what to do to being so entirely clueless. I mean, even when, at work, I've had assignments that were nebulous, there is at least always some framework within which to work, some guide posts, some clear end goal in mind, and an amazing art director partner by my side with whom to figure things out. Here I am now - all by myself - making things up as I go along.

Not unlike Harold and the Purple Crayon. Faced with an empty page, I am creating the world in which I'm living for the duration of this sabbatical. And even though it'd be easy (and discouraging!) to say to myself "I don't know anything" - I've challenged myself to say instead, "I'm going to learn so much." And I am loving it.

I'm grateful for that day in November when a happenstance request ("Emily, do you mind escorting Pete around the building before he leaves?") and a quotidian question from Pete ("What is it you do here?") led me down the path I'm on now.

And as for the election and its ramifications? Well, I think we'd be fools not to consider the possibility that an important step towards ameliorating many of the problems that are breaking our hearts today is the foundation of empathy, imagination, and understanding that can be delivered so powerfully and poignantly to our next generation through books. From right here in our own homes and in our own laps.

Join me on the journey - www.TheBeginningOfYourLifeBookClub.com - and send me YOUR stories of the powerful way reading books with your kids has made a difference for you.

11 July 2017

St Louis - The First Ever Just Us Moreno Akins Family Vacation

reflecting on our trip

You know what’s amazing? The Gateway Arch in St. Louis! I know, I know - you’ve probably been there, done that, bought the t-shirt. But don’t let that stop you from maintaining a sense of continued awe or from pondering the immensity of the project. You know what baffles me about it? The fact that the Arch - this immense feat of engineering - this “monument to the dream” - was built little by little. Each panel of stainless steel, each nut and each bolt, each pour of concrete. Every little part was strategically planned and placed and it all came together bit by bit, decade after decade. When you stand back and look at it (or ride to the top and look out of it) you don’t think about these little things. But they’re all there.

You know what else is amazing? Cahokia Mounds! You may not realize it right away when you drive past these giant piles of earth - but these are remarkable. Just think about it! The people who built these had only primitive tools which they painstakingly created themselves. No machines. No backhoes. Just flint hoes and baskets, legs and arms, strong backs and keen minds. And little by little - with each strike of the hammer stone, each shard of flint, each basket of dirt filled one by one - an entire community was built, decades at a time; a network of mounds supporting generations of people. When you stand back and look at it (or climb the 150 steps to the top of the largest one and look out from it) you may not think about these little things. But they’re all there.

And you know what else is amazing? Families. Oh sure. We all know what families are and aren’t they great, and we all love our families and blah blah blah. But don’t let your familiarity (pun intended) with the concept stop you from maintaining a sense of continued awe. Nor should you just breeze past them without realizing the immensity or significance. Isn’t it remarkable? The way that families form, little by little, strategically and haphazardly, year over year, decade by decade, bit by bit. Each mile on the minivan, each song on the playlist, each memory made … each milestone, each family member ... each “Mommy, will you help me?” and “Dada!” … each vacation, each stay home day … each giggle, tickle, tear, and hug. When you stand back and look at it (or stand right in the middle of it and look out) you don’t think about those little things. But they’re all there.

They say “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” but I think it’s important to acknowledge the parts, too. Each one is significant. Because where would the whole be without them?

31 December 2016

The Highly Caloric Holiday Baking Post

This is the post where I list all the unhealthy and delicious things I baked (or ate) in the last month. If you want the reflective, emotional holiday post, click here. And listen - if you don't have time to read all this nonsense just promise me you'll jump to the bottom and read about Crumb Pie. Just do it!

For the "cookie crawl" at work I made Buttered Popcorn Cookies from Smitten Kitchen. If you decide to make them, I highly recommend adding the chocolate chips that Joy the Baker adds. It might be fun to make it with M&Ms or something, too. Note that the popcorn will be chewy, not crunchy. But still good. And I like it because it makes for some efficient snacking - saving you from wasting time eating popcorn, cookies, AND chocolate separately. You don't want to waste too much time because you still need to make

This is my grandmother's recipe and one of my All Time Favorite Cookies Ever Ever Ever. It's like a gingersnap but soft instead of hard. And "if you're anything like me, and I know I am," you hate a crunchy gingersnap (or so you thought. See Pfeffernüsse down below.) I have the recipe written out in Jetta's handwriting. It's always a trip down memory lane to make these. Since I know you are going to ask me for the recipe - everyone always does - here it is.
Molasses Crinkles
3/4 cup shortening
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
sift together:
2 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
Mix together. Chill dough. Roll into balls (walnut size) and dip tops in sugar. Place 3 inches apart on greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle a few drops of water over the cookies. Bake @ 325 for 8-10 minutes. 

sea salt caramels
I have no idea what came over me but on a whim one night I decided to make caramels. I thought it'd make a good gift for the staff at the girls' schools. And I thought they looked so cute wrapped in their little parchment papers. Turns out - they're cute and delicious. I made a second batch for family at Christmas. It certainly won't be my last. Here's hoping my beginner's luck holds out! I used this corn syrup free recipe. I would like to try some fancier ones (like this one with pepper!) but would have to succumb to corn syrup.

I made this with my mom (who is called Honey) when she visited before Christmas. It was so delicious. We all devoured it before I could even take a picture. It's heavenly.

The other thing Mom and I made was Pfeffernüsse - using this recipe. I didn't think I'd like such a crunchy cookie. Wrong! It really is like a "pepper nut" - like the name suggests. All the spice of a molasses crinkle or gingersnap - but with the kick of "pepper," the balance of the powdered sugar, and a nice crunch. Also - great for gift giving!

At Christmas, Christy's friend Bruselas transformed my two bottles of Two Buck Chuck into a lovely mulled wine or "Vin Chaud." It's basically orange juice and wine mixed with spices and drunk hot. And even though you wouldn't think of drinking either of those things hot by themselves (and despite the fact that one friend described it as microwave sangria which made me lol my head off), I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed it. The spice, the wine, the citrus. Perfect for winter. (Even if we're having a weird winter.)
Bruselas' Vin Chaud
1 liter of OJ
2 bottles of wine
1 cinnamon stick + some ground cinnamon
11 cloves or more, actually
Simmer the OJ and spices for a while. Add wine. 

I've been on a real mint chocolate kick for the last - I don't know 37 years or so. But recently I've really been parsing out what it is I do and don't love about all mint/choc combos. In the process I decided I should make these Peppermint Brownies. I'm so glad I did.

crumb pie dry
Last but not least, I enjoyed (but did not make) a magnificent thing called Crumb Pie. It came to me in a little plastic baggie in a gift box from some dear old friends who visited between Christmas and New Years. It's an old family recipe. It is dry and a bit funny looking. It's basically flour, sugar, and spices and salt "pressed" into lard. Which I don't quite understand. So instead of trying to describe how it's made, let me attempt to describe how it tastes by simply saying that when you pour a little bit of hot coffee - or a little bit of milk - on top of it and let the Crumb Pie and the beverage merge  into a sort of puddling you will find that it tastes like no other heaven you have ever tasted before. Sweet and creamy, spicy and salty. Unless you're one of those weird-os that doesn't like nutmeg/clove/allspice kind of stuff, you will love it and the magic it creates in your mouth.
Green Family Crumb Pie
3 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup lard
2 cups sugar
4 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. salt
Mix the flour, sugar, salt and spices in a large bowl. Cut in lard with a pastry cutter and mix well. Press into an 11 by 16 pan or two smaller ones. For a crunchier crumb pie, press down harder. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Cut while warm.
Serving suggestions:
It may be called crumb pie, but you eat it dry like a cookie or mix with milk or coffee and stir into a spice pudding. This was a long time Green family recipe, usually eaten for Christmas morning breakfast. A strange, but yummy concoction. Nothing smells better than this when it's baking!

with coffee
with milk

2016: Year in Review

This is the reflective, emotional holiday post. To read the highly caloric baking-only holiday post - click here.

I was looking at this thing on my door frame - a blessing I wrote on Epiphany, January of 2016. It means Christus mansionem benedicat or "May Christ bless this house."  Since everyone universally agrees - at least in meme-land - that 2016 was an epic fail, I looked at it and thought, "Well, I guess that didn't work."

But then I remembered that I had no deeply held personal associations with any of the big names who passed away so tragically this year. And while I recognize their loss as significant and unfortunate, none of it made me that ... sad. (And even though I DO feel a tragic sense of loss regarding the election, that's less of a 2016 thing and more of a 2015-2020 and beyond thing.)

And - I remembered where WE were - the four of us in this little house - on Epiphany, January of 2016. How quickly I have deposited into my memory banks the fragility of our lives last Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year. How poignant it all seems to me now as we move through a much more solid holiday season this year. How profound the simple things are in this context.

There is a lot to worry about in the world today. And worry about it I will. (I'm good at that.) But for now, the wise thing to do seems to be to take stock.

I didn't know a year ago that we'd lose Daisy. That was the straw that broke this camel's back. I'd endured a lot already as I watched my most beloved family members endure diagnoses and enter recovery. I thought I was in the clear. I lost it when she died. I found it eventually. Whatever "it" is ... homeostasis I guess? But not without help.

I also didn't know, a year ago, that I would find Schultz and Schatzi and that they would be utterly delightful.

Sergio is on a completely different path in life and while his diagnosis last fall and his departure from Hallmark early this year brought major shifts in our world, it also catapulted him into a wonderfully fulfilling career track. It is lovely to stand aside and watch.

And here's something I don't say too often because it is cliche and it is trite and it feels like I'm gloating but ... I really love my job. Hallmark, like all of us, is flawed. But, like all of us - er, most of us, anyway, it means well. And every day I go to work I look forward to how I'm going to spend the day. This - as I have witnessed in Sergio's case - is nothing to sneeze at. And the last 12 months of work have been especially good for me, full of opportunities to better understand myself and my world. And, if we've played our "cards" right, so to speak, opportunities to a make the world a better place.

Compassion makes the world a better place, don't you think? That's the other thing hanging with the 20 + C + M + B + 16 above our back door - a Buddhist mantra of compassion. We're going to need even more of that in 2017 and beyond. It will be my hope, my prayer, and my work to make a compassionate dent wherever I can.

18 November 2016

Dear Everybody Who is Obsessed With Blue Apron, Green Chef, Hello Fresh, and The Like

I get it, okay. I know we need convenience in our lives. I know we're all busy - I'm right there with you. I work full time, I volunteer, I have kids, a spouse, dogs - plenty of demands. You and me both, okay? We like getting everything delivered to our doors. Amazon Prime, Bark Box, Honest Company - it all just shows up on our door step and we never even have to leave the house or shop in public or anything! Amazing. But let's step back a minute and talk about what we're getting when we make our food decisions and what our community is getting as a result. 

First let's talk about freshness - I'm guessing you are really keen on fresh ingredients because that is something that these companies tout. Fresh and organic ingredients. I also love fresh and organic ingredients. But let me suggest to you that the freshest ingredients you can get are the ones that are grown very close by and aren't packaged and well travelled. Try shopping the farmers market or the many grocery stores that sell local produce and get something fresh and organic there. It will be fresher than something that's been shipped to you and it won't come with food miles or extra packaging. It will not have travelled a long journey from the farm to the distribution center to the packaging facility to the next distribution center, etc. etc. etc. There is a lot of energy input for a journey like that so your delivery comes with kind of an outsized carbon footprint. Not unlike when I was a teenager and my feet grew faster than the rest of me: normal sized kid - GIANT feet! Meal delivery services mean a normal sized stash of ingredients - HUGE carbon footprint! 

Each time we buy food - and we buy food pretty often, don't we? Three meals a day, snacks, you, me, our families - lots of mouths to feed and lots of meals to make. Each time we buy food we are supporting someone. Think about who you support. A local, sustainable farmer? Or a large corporation? Or a company that supports organic farmers? There are a lot of decisions to make and we make them everyday. Sometimes we need to make decisions based on convenience. But whenever we can, let's make decisions that support our community.

Please join me in looking for ways to support local, organic, hard working, small farmers in our region when you make at least some of your food decisions. Your food will be fresher and your money will stay in Kansas City. By the way - you know about the local multiplier effect, right? For every $1 you spend at a national chain, only 15 cents is invested locally; but for every $1 you spend locally, 45 cents gets reinvested locally! Think about how much better our home town would be if each of us chose to spend just a few more of our dollars supporting local farmers. 

Thanks for your time!

PS: IF you want to join a Community Supported Agriculture program, call me - helping people find the right CSA is one of my favorite past times!

10 November 2016

Archer City, TX

Archer City, TX, located in the northern part of Texas, just below the Oklahoma border, has a population of 1,834 people, according to the 2010 census. It’s the county seat, has approximately 1 stop light, a total area of 2.2 square miles, and, as best as we could tell, 3 places to eat.

And it has 1 very important bookstore called Booked Up, which is owned by Larry McMurtry, author of Lonesome Dove and The Last Picture Show. Booked Up has about 200,000 books. That's far more books than people in Archer City and that’s after Booked Up sold off one half of their inventory 4 years ago going down from 4 storefronts to 2.

And if this were a piece about numbers perhaps we'd discuss the book-to-person ratio, or the books per capita average, or maybe even books per square mile (roughly 100,000, by my count) or the number of Booked Up storefronts per square mile (roughly 1).

But this is not a piece about numbers it's a piece about words and about how absolutely dumbstruck I was when I walked in and saw shelf after shelf after shelf after shelf of floor to ceiling books. There I was surrounded by all those words and I was completely speechless.

Like a kid in a candy store I went up and down every aisle and eventually found a few words to utter - like “oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh.” Eventually I slowed down and the four of us - my parents, Sergio, and me - started browsing.

One of the first books I found was The Lively Anatomy of God published by EAKINS press or, as I read it, E Akins press. I just knew it was a sign. The first story inside it was about a woman who believes in signs. Well, clearly that was a sign! Having once read a book called The Shadow of the Wind wherein a boy chooses a book - or maybe the book chooses him - from the “Cemetery of Forgotten Books,” I found it quite possible to believe in just this sort of enchanted nature of bookstores. It was easy to think that at Booked up in Archer City, TX, something magical like that is possible. Because clearly this place is magic.

Except it didn’t seem all that magical to the two people who work there. The woman who welcomed us when we first came in didn’t seem to register my enthusiasm when I had to come back to the front and ask again “where do I find the bathroom?” because I asked her once already and tried to follow her directions but let’s be honest I didn’t hear a word she said because BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS. She and her cohort - the only two employees of Booked Up seem to have more of a cataloging, functional role, perfunctory even … and while they may be interested enough to ask “where ‘yall from?” they certainly aren’t interested in the fact that it took us 15 years to get to Archer City, to actually make good on the original idea that my dad had. They were only politely interested but by then it was 5:00 and magical or not, Booked Up closes at 5:00.

In the hours that transpired between our excited arrival and our prompt departure (with books in tow), we found The Light Side of Egypt, Aboriginal Indian Basketry, The Southern Expansion of the Chinese People, The Meaning of Meaning, Imperial Dictionary of Universal Biography, Ghost Towns of New Mexico, The Butter Industry, an ad for The Times Literary Supplement that asks “Do you get the most out of the books you read? Some books will stand the test of many readings and many are never fully appreciated the first time they are read.”

Oh, and a framed, pillowcase embroidered with this: “In my dream, I was in an underground parking garage. Fred Astaire danced out from between two cars. A sedan almost hit him but he leapt away.”

And I found a set of Harper’s Magazines from 1926. I dusted off their plastic jackets and pried one open to read “The Cheer-Leader in Literature” in which William McFee laments the practice of teaching writing at universities and schools stating that “the ultimate achievement of schools for fiction is the establishment of mediocrity as the controlling influence of American literature.” Oh, Mr McFee - you can sign me up as one of the “cheer-leaders of mediocrity,” Buddy, because that. Is. Nonsense. I decided I was going to have to take home one of these Harper's. Maybe this one or or maybe the one with the article called “Seven Deadly Sins of Women In Business.” I went up to the front of the store to ask how much these would cost.

When I got to the front I discovered that only one employee was there and that the woman who prices things had gone to pick up her daughter from school. I took a moment while I waited to read the back flap of Larry McMurtry’s book called Books: A Memoir, in which he shares that for much of his childhood he didn’t have any books in his house. Instead, he and his family and their neighbors would all sit on their front porches and tell stories and so, while he may not have grown up around books, he learned the art of story from the get go.
Eventually the woman who prices things comes back with her daughter who, would you believe, is some sort of cheerleader at the local elementary school and is dressed up in her garb. (Did I mention we were there on a Friday during football season? Go Wildcats!)

What must it be like to grow up in this magic store surrounded by all these books? Maybe she is Booked Up’s cheerleader of literature. But with her fingers smudged from Doritos or Cheetos or whatever it is she’s eating, I don’t imagine her reading very many of these pricey rare texts and probably she, like her mom, doesn’t register the excitement. She is a kid in a bookstore, not a kid in a candy store.

I bought one issue of Harper’s. It was $10. That’s roughly $1 per article inside the publication but really it’s kind of priceless when you get to page 312 of the magazine and read Albert Jay Nock saying “I wish they would sometimes get restless under their own excellences. It seems only human that they should do so… Their temperament makes no room for the great and saving grace of cussedness, whereby one gets tired of a smooth monotonous best and skirmishes around for a look at something that probably is not so good but is restfully different.”

Priceless. This is not a piece about numbers - it’s a piece about words. And about how each person who writes in the English language has the exact same 26 letters available to them - 26 letters on each person’s little Scrabble rack in their brain - which collectively have been parlayed into about a quarter of a million words and from there, an innumerable number of ideas and concepts, and from there an inordinate number of books. Books. Books.

Promise me you won’t ask yourself - which book would I be if I lived in the dystopian world of Farhenheit 451 and had to choose a book to embody. Because nobody wants to think about burning books.

And let’s not think about whether we love paper books over e-readers or about how many books fit on a kindle. Because this isn’t about reading on a Kindle. It’s about picking a book up off the shelf and discovering that Dorys Grover of 522 Lyon St in Ames, Iowa was sent a postcard on January 17, 1972 from Iowa State University library asking her to return the copy of Atlas Shrugged that she had borrowed.

Instead let’s use other “incendiary” words in order to think about how for each person who miraculously parlays their 26 letters into a book, there are how many more readers of that book? And whether you are the writer or the reader, you know full well how a book kindles the fires deep within each of us. An idea that takes hold, that catches on, and grows like wild fire. The words that light a flame under you. The words that you light on fire.

What book were you reading when you first realized - this is it. This is what I want. This is me.

Or how about this - what was your first book? Can you even answer that question? My dad can. It was Pinocchio. And it was given to him by his much older sister Ruth when he was about 7. Do you remember your first book? I don’t. And my children won’t. My children each have more books haphazardly wedged between the pillows on their beds than the whole of my father’s library when he was their age.

And Larry McMurtry, the man who keeps 28,000 books at his home as well as owning 2 storefronts full of roughly 200,000 books probably remembers his first book. And in fact he remembers that one of the two books his family owned when he was a teen was a book he gave to his father.

My father gave me my first Larry McMurtry book.

Who gave you your first book?

My daughter gave me a book shortly after we got back from Archer City. It was a book I already owned and had already read and in fact, it’s a book my dad had read as well. It’s Papa Hemingway. She pulled it off the shelf, wrapped it, gave it to me for my pretend birthday. I flopped it open and found something I’d underlined 15 years ago that had inspired me and spurred me on - something about the challenge that writers overcome to achieve the same pure emotion as artists: “Artists” Hemingway says “have all those great colors, while I have to do it on a typerwriter or with my pencil in black and white.”

The same 26 letters per person. Magically transformed. Cheering us on.

09 November 2016


I don't know the last time I cried myself to sleep like I did last night. I am drained after the exhausting cycle of emotions packed into the last 48 hours - hope, anxiety, despair, and more. Today is a new day, though it doesn’t feel new as in like “full-of-possibility” new. Just new as in, “is-this-real-life” new. Now I am rummaging around for Hope. Where did it go? I just had it the other day. Maybe St Francis has it?
...where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness joy...
*rummaging* Let’s see what else I can find...
A Grug & A Tantrum - Today started with a nice, long “grug” (that's a "group hug") with my little family, each saying “I love you” a thousand times. This quickly morphed into a deluxe, red-faced and screaming 30-minute tantrum on the part of Clara. Here I was, trying to hold it together while my blue feminist heart was breaking - meanwhile Clara just lets it rip because she doesn’t like her underwear or can’t find her favorite shoes or who even knows what led her to upturn her sister’s cereal all over the kitchen floor. Stress was everywhere. BUT we are lucky. We are all 4 of us healthy and happy, have a warm home with a roof and walls, cute dogs for schnuggles, and so much food in our cupboards that it falls out when we open the door to the pantry.
"Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console..."
Poetry & Islam - Today proceeded with a presentation at work where I was reminded from Kwame Alexander that words matter ... that poetry matters ... indeed that it is what makes us human. And suddenly Word Week is a perfect salve during this contentious moment in history and/or in my life. Kwame says that "the NOs are a part of life but we that have to learn to say YES to ourselves." And there was jazz and we clapped and we laughed. What a relief. I left there and went to a panel discussion where Muslim Hallmarkers spoke to a room of non-Muslim Hallmarkers all of whom had gathered simply to learn more about Islam. If, as David Isay says, “listening is an act of love,” then my participation in this and other such sessions is a profoundly powerful act.
“...to be understood as to understand...”
Love & Love - Today rounded out with messages of love, which are all over the place when you make Valentine’s Day cards for a living (literally everywhere; you should see my messy desk). And also messages of love in my phone - an emjoi, a text, a heartbeat. I wonder - who else can I reach out to today? Lots of people to choose from. People that I need. People that need me. What do they need to hear?
“...to be loved as to love.”
Still rummaging for Hope. Maybe Longfellow has it. He always has some. Just one stanza - that’s usually enough. Let’s see if it works this time...
Let us, then, be up and doing, With a heart for any fate; Still achieving, still pursuing, Learn to labor and to wait.

28 June 2016

Schultz and Schatzi

Just over a week ago these two were off to a rocky start; so much doggie discord in those initial encounters. I was a little bit nervous. Now I'm pleased to report that they seem to be fast friends. As for us, we love them even more now than we did when we first saw them on the schnauzer rescue sites where we found them. Which is saying a lot because it was mostly love at first sight. 

Schatzi - miniature schnauzer mix, 7 months old, 12 pounds - feisty and sweet - from SRT
Schultz - miniature schnauzer, 2 years old, 18 pounds - a big old lump of sugar - from MSRH
We found Schatzi through Schnauzer Rescue of Texas. We had already put in an application there as we had found several promising candidates but who already had adoptions pending. Why Texas? Because apparently Texas has a lot of schnauzers. At least more than KS, MO, and OK combined. Not to mention, the Texas organizations we'd reached out to we're all comfortable adopting to us in Missouri and to a household with small children. PS: if you want to adopt a schnauzer anywhere in the contiguous 48, let me know; I've done all the research. 
many hours in the mini van - almost home
Anyhow, through the SRT listing on the All Pets website we found Schatzi who was being fostered in Texas while she recovered from two broken legs. Her previous owners couldn't or wouldn't pay for the surgery to repair her broken legs. So a kind vet tech (to whom we are eternally grateful) intervened, arranged for her surgery, and monitored her care for about 6 weeks. We found out that Schatzi would be ready to adopt out about June 20 and - knowing that we were already planning to travel to Texas June 17-19 - realized it would work out perfectly. 

meeting the neighbor dog
We began to choose a name. Julia wanted to name her "Sweetie Bell" - we nixed that. Clara wanted to name her "Knife" or "Tablecloth" or "Chair" or whatever she happened to be looking at at that precise moment. Sergio and I wanted something German (because schnauzer) and when we found the name Schatzi, we liked that it sounded like Schatten, which was the name of my aunt Jetta's dog before Daisy. We were going the schnauzer route any way, in part because there were so many things we loved about Daisy but also because we felt it was a sort of homage to Jetta who had had two schnauzers in a row. We also learned that "Schatzi" was German for "sweetie," which Julia liked. 

on guard at the back
on guard at the front
So where did Schultz come from? Good question. By the time we found Schatzi I had signed up to get notifications about adoptable dogs and was following every schnauzer rescue organization on social media. So of course I kept finding dogs. Sergio told me to stop looking. I said "I'm not looking!" But when on the Miniature Schnauzer Rescue of Houston site I found a handsome salt and pepper fellow with the cinnamon ears, I realized I was totally still looking. 

I asked Sergio one night if he'd ever consider having two dogs at once. I fully expected a no. But instead he said "maybe." I was ecstatic. I reached out to lots of folks for advice on two dogs at once - folks I did know who have experience with multiple dogs, schnauzer rescue folks that I didn't know but who were so helpful. We decided we'd try to get Schultz (whose name was Todd at the time). If we don't get Todd, we decided, we won't get two dogs right now. (I was really hoping we'd get him.)

Todd was pretty popular so I tried (and failed) to not get my hopes up. There was one family interested in him but who chose another dog. Then there was an adoption event where I was sure someone else would snag him - but that event got cancelled. At last his foster mom (to whom we are also so grateful) chose us as his "furever" home. The next thing I know - he's ours and we're trying to figure out how to get to Texas, see all our family, and arrange to acquire two new dogs. 

they love tug of war with Daisy's favorite toy
Schultz and Schatzi had never met until last Sunday morning. Despite being perfectly precious on their own, they weren't too keen on each other right away. We accidentally introduced them to each other as we were waiting to get on the hotel elevator with Schultz and Schatzi and my niece were coming off the elevator. So much growling and barking. 

Those were the moments where I thought "oh no oh no oh no - what have we done?!" 

We got them to OKC in separate vehicles, Schultz melting into Tyler's lap in the passenger seat of our minivan and Schatzi climbing and snoozing on top of Sergio in my parents' car. 

At my parents house they did their growling dance and little by little shifted slowly from aggression to playfulness. By the time we left OKC we were okay putting them in the same vehicle. By the time we got home I thought - wow - this might just work after all. 

And so far? It's working perfectly. 
matching names - matching tags - matching collars