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A power nap is always helpful when you have a lot of important work coming up.




Just For Kids

 Stories, activity and ideas.


Sometimes this blog will have activities. Sometimes stories and poems. Sometimes it will have your ideas.  Today' story starts where the last one ended.

 Hey, my name is Olive and my best friend is Oliver. We are cousins and that’s because our moms are twin sisters. We don’t look anything alike. You might think we would look more like because we're cousins. But our dads are from two different parts of the world. My dad is from Denmark. I have red hair that goes all over the place. I have freckles and kind of green eyes. Oliver’s dad is from Namibia. Oliver has brown eyes and sort of golden skin and his hair stays neatly in one place. He’s kind of short, at least for being 10 years old. I’m tall for my age. I’m nine years old.

Oliver doesn’t let me forget that I’m only nine years old. And I don’t let him forget the short thing. His mom and my mom look a lot alike. But they don’t act alike. My mom’s a neat freak. Oliver’s mom has a lot of cool stuff. She is an anthropologist and goes all over the world collecting things. She has some masks and some pots and some clothing from all over. His house is not as neat and tidy as ours. My mother doesn’t like anything being out of place. Oliver has a big dog named Harry. I mean he’s really big. I think he’s what they call a Saint Bernard. Sometimes when I’m at Oliver’s house and we watch TV, we like to lay in front of the TV and put our heads on Harry.

I want a pet in the worst way. But my mom says they are way too messy. I know she’d never let me have a puppy. It’s not that I haven’t asked. I guess so many times that she is really tired of my asking. Mom works kind of long hours; she’s a pediatrician and she works at Children’s Hospital. So, she has to take the ferry every day. So, Margaret stays with me and takes care of the house. She lives in an apartment in the basement with a grown-up daughter. Oliver’s dad works at the University, he’s a pathologist, which means he studies diseases. So, he’s not always home. Sometimes Oliver comes to our house after school. And he almost always comes here during vacations. My dad works for a newspaper and he travels almost as much as Oliver’s mom.

Anyway, you get the picture.

Last Christmas break, Oliver and I were at my house. Back then I had a platform for a treehouse. That was before I had my really fancy telescope. So, we were up there with my spy’s glass looking around the neighborhood. Then I said, “Oh great!”

“What now?” Asked Oliver.

“They’re giving away kittens at the market” I said.

“Oh no, that’s trouble!” Said Oliver. “You know what your mother’s gonna say.”

“Just one look,” I lied. “So, let’s go down there and take a look”

“Okay, I guess it’s your mother who has rules and you know them.” said Oliver with a smile. We got on our bikes and headed down to the market. By the time we arrived there was only one kitten left. A teenage girl and her little brother were standing by the box looking around. I picked up the kitten. It was kind of scrawny. The little cat was gray and striped. One ear stood up and one ear kind of fell over.

“Is this your last kit?” I asked. “How old is he? Or is it a girl?”

"We’re not taking that kitten!” Said Oliver.

But I hugged the kitten, put it inside my jacket, and zipped it up to the neck. It’s not like I always listen to Oliver. I don’t think he expects me to. However, the closer we got to home, the more I realized I’d made a mistake.

So, I stopped, turned my bike around on the sidewalk and slowly started back toward the market. When we got there the box was gone; the teenage girl was gone and so was her brother. I looked at Oliver. Oliver looked at me.

“Well,” said Oliver, “I think we have a problem.”

“Yes,” I said softly, “I think we have.”

We stood there. The cat started making noises and scratching my blouse underneath my jacket. I had to think of what to do. I looked around. I didn’t see anybody that looked like they wanted a skinny little kitten.

“Well, it was your decision,” said Oliver, looking at me sideways, “you need to think of an answer.”

“Okay, okay.” I said, stalling “Let’s just start walking. Maybe I’ll think of something while we're walking.”

What do you think Olive will do? Stay tuned to this page to find out what happens. next week


January 10, 2022.

It was only three blocks from the store to my house. I tried to walk really slow. When we were almost there, I saw Mrs. Wilson on her porch. She was sitting in a chair just watching things. Mr. Wilson had died in the fall. She’d been a little lost since then. When she saw us coming up the street she called out, “Hey where you been?”

“We went to the market,” I said, "and now we have a problem.”

“Well, come here and tell me all about it,” said Mrs. Wilson from her chair on the porch.

We went up the stairs. We liked visiting with Mrs. Wilson. She was always interested in what we were doing and always had interesting things to tell us.

It was really sad when Mr. Wilson died. He had really been sick. He just had a heart attack and the ambulance came and went to the hospital. And then he died in the hospital. My mom and dad went over and helped Mrs. Wilson. Her son also came up and stayed for a few days. That was back in September. My dad said we should try to visit whenever we could because she needed to keep interested in things.

“Well,” she said, “sit down and explain to me just what the problem is.”

I unzipped my jacket and out popped a little head. “Mu,” said the head.

“I see.” Said Mrs. Wilson, “but how is that kitten a problem?”

“Her mother doesn’t want her to have a kitten or any pet,” replied Oliver.

“My mother,” I said, “is a neat freak!”

“Well dear,” asked Mrs. Wilson, “why do you have a kitten then?”

“Why indeed?” Said Oliver.

“Well,” I explained, “At first I thought it was a really good idea and then as I started home, I thought it was not such a good idea. So, went back to the market. When I got there, the people were gone. I couldn’t give the kitten back and now I’m in trouble. Big trouble.”

“I can see you have a problem,” said Mrs. Wilson, “and the kitten has a problem too.”

"I guess he does,” I said, scratching my head.

She was right of course someone had to take care of the kitten. I looked at Oliver, then I looked at Oliver again.

“No,” said Oliver, “this is your problem and you have to solve it. Besides we don’t have room for another pet.”

“Well maybe if you could keep him for just a few days until I work on my mom,” I said begging.

“I said no,” said Oliver, “I know you, and I can’t rescue you this time.”

“I’ll take care of the kitten,” said Mrs. Wilson, “on the condition that you tell your mother what happened, and you figure out with her what you are going to do.”

What Mrs. Wilson said was almost the worst thing that could happen. The only one it was good for was the kitten. I had to talk to my mother about making a mistake and about trying to get away with something. And I knew that when she got home, she was always tired. Then Mrs. Wilson said one more thing.

“Well, and there’s another thing,” she said, “I don’t have any cat food or any cat litter.”

“Oh,” I said, looking at Oliver.

“So,” said Oliver in that grownup way he has, “do you have any money?”

“Well,” I said, “I have about ten dollars.”

“Good,” said Oliver, “that should do it.”

Mrs. Wilson took the kitten into the house. Oliver and I went to the store and he showed me where to get cat litter, kitten food, and a box for the cat litter. Of course, it was way more than ten dollars. Oliver loaned me the money until allowance day. Oliver always has leftover allowance.

When we got back, Mrs. Wilson had a nice basket with some soft blankets in it for the cat. She put the basket on the couch and was sitting next to the cat, petting and talking to him or her in a soft voice.

“Oh. What are you going to call him?” she asked me.

“I don’t know,” I said, “I haven’t thought about a name. I was too worried about being in trouble.”

“Well,” said Mrs. Wilson, “It will be Sammy! Don’t you think he looks like a Sammy?”

“Oh yes!” I exclaimed, relieved.

“What if he’s a girl?” Oliver inquired.

“He’s a boy!” declared Mrs. Wilson.

Our driveway was right along the side of the Wilson’s house. We saw Mom’s car pull in.

Well Mom was home and I had to face her. I thought of all the ways I could avoid that, but Oliver grabbed my hand and started out the door. “Thank you for your help, Mrs. Wilson.” He called out as he dragged me down the stairs.

Mom was getting out of the car and opened the back to get two bags of groceries

“Let me get those for you Mom,” I pleaded, “maybe I can make dinner tonight. I know you must be tired.”

“Are you feeling ill, Olive?” Mom inquired. This was not the way I normally acted.

“I have to get home,” Oliver declared, “My uncle is making groundnut stew, and no, you are not invited.”

“What is groundnut stew?” I asked, stalling.

“Come on, Olive! You already know that groundnuts are peanuts!” Oliver said, as he turned and ran home.

“How was your day at work, Mom?” I asked as we walked into the kitchen.

There was a large Pizza box on the table with a note on top. The note was from Margaret saying that they had been asked to dinner at the last minute, so the pizza was for us.

“Well,” said mom with a sigh, “It looks like you don’t have to cook, so I guess you should tell me what’s going on!”

“What do you mean?” I asked, pretending that I was clueless.

“Olive,” she said, in a way that said, ’don’t lie to me, I know something is going on’.

“Mrs. Wilson said I had to talk to you. Because she agreed to help us,” I said, cautiously.

“I would like to hear the facts before I hear all the arguments for the defense” My mother said firmly.

“Oliver and I were looking through my spy’s glass and we saw that someone was giving away kittens at the Market. Oliver said it wasn’t a good idea to go and look. I talked him into it.” I started

“So how much of this is Oliver’s doing?” Mom was looking straight at me. (that makes it even harder to lie)

“Not much,” I admitted. “We went down there and there was just one kitten left, so I took it. We got part way home and I changed my mind. But when we went back no one was there.”

I knew what my mother would say. And she did. Then she asked: “Where is the kitten?”

“Mrs. Wilson is keeping him for me until I talk to you and decide what to do. I think she really likes him. Only we had to buy kitty litter and food. And it was more than my allowance.” I said, wondering what my consequences would be.

“Well, Olive. This cat is your responsibility,” Mom declared. “If Mrs. Wilson doesn’t keep him, you will have to take him to the shelter. If she does keep him it sounds like you will need to get a job.”

I thought ‘Oh my gosh, how am I going to get a job? I’m nine years old!’ I was sure Mrs. Wilson would want to keep Sammy. I knew she couldn’t afford the food and cat litter. Maybe Oliver would think of something.

Oliver was at my house, pretty early the next morning. I was tired because I wasn’t able to sleep much the night before. Mom had gone to work early and Margaret wasn’t upstairs when he came rushing in the side door


I stumbled down the stairs in my sweats and stared at him. “I have to get a job,” I stammered.

“Forget that!!” Oliver interrupted. “My dad needs to talk to your dad right away, It’s urgent.”

Oliver’s dad was a nice man, but he was a scientist and I couldn’t understand why he wanted to talk to my dad. My dad wrote articles about world affairs for the New York Times. He wrote interesting things about ordinary people in different places around the world. Sometimes about people who were having difficulties like war or disasters.

“He’s in Australia. He is talking with people there about a huge fire. I heard your mom is down there too.”

“My mom is in New Caledonia,” Oliver said in an annoyed voice, “when’s he coming home?”

“He gets to the airport tonight, but after the last ferry has sailed” I said anxiously," so he will have to stay in Seattle until morning.

“What is his flight number?” Oliver was asking questions rapidly.

“Oliver! Chill! What’s going on?” He didn’t act like this usually.

“I can’t tell you.” He growled, “My dad doesn’t want people to panic.”

It was really hard not to laugh, because panicking was exactly what Oliver was doing. I thought maybe Oliver should have some breakfast. So, I lead him to the table and gave him a bowl of yogurt and granola.

“The only way to find out his flight number is to ask my mother,” I said trying to calm him down, “and she doesn’t like to be interrupted at work.”

“Why don’t you call him?” Oliver was drilling me.

“Do you know what time it is in Australia?” I asked.

'No. Do you?” asked Oliver.

Oliver pushed the button on my iPad and said, “Siri. What time is it in Australia?”

“It’s 2 AM in Canberra, Australia 17 hours ahead” Siri announced.

“You can’t call him.” I declared,” Its tomorrow there and the middle of the night.”

Oliver picked up the phone and dialed my Dads number. He put it on speaker phone. “the caller you have reached is using airplane mode. You may leave a message and it will be available later.”

Oliver got Yogurt granola on my phone. He put it down. “Call your mother and tell her to call my Dad right away.”

I just stared at Oliver.

I think Oliver said a swear word. I don’t know for sure.

I said, “Look Oliver, why don’t you just find out what planes are arriving from Australia tonight.”

Oliver slumped down in the chair by the window. He didn’t look like himself. I felt worried. What was wrong with Oliver? Just then Margaret came upstairs. And Mom’s car pulled into the driveway.

“Oliver! Is Oliver sick? Margaret asked alarmed.

“No!” Oliver exclaimed standing up, shouting. “My father is having a cow about China or something!”

That’s when I discovered my mother was a genius. Although I had never seen her do it before, she shouted at Oliver, “Oliver. Stop!”

Oliver sat down on the stool looking up at her. He looked surprised.

“You need to calm down.” My mother said. “I can help your father with China. After you are really calm. Then you need to help Olive with her problem.”

“But... my dad... said Olive’s dad needs to… I don’t know.” Oliver was shaking his head and looked confused.

Mom looked at Oliver, put her hand on his shoulder, and said, “I’ll call your dad and find out what is happening.”

Oliver sighed. And then he jumped up and gave my mom a big hug. “Thank You, Aunt Janet!”

Mom went out into the kitchen and put down her briefcase and other things and asked Margaret for some coffee.

She was explaining to Margaret about the ferry being out of service, when I came in.

“What’s wrong with Oliver?” I asked Mom. “I’ve never seen him like that.”

“I think he had an anxiety attack,” my mother replied, “If I know Oliver, he probably took something his father said more seriously than it was intended.”

“Is he going to be okay?” I asked, concerned

“Oh yes!” He will be fine. Once he calms down, but don’t tease him about it.” My mother said firmly.

“So next time, should I yell at him?” I asked.

“No that is not always a good idea. And only a trusted adult, should ever do something like that. It was all I could think of.” My mother said.

“It might have been a good plan for him to call his father and let him know if he was having frustration before he got worked up. Oh, and I should call him.” She said, “why don’t you check on Oliver.”

Oliver was asleep on the couch. I found a blanket and covered him. When I got back to the kitchen Mom was still on the phone. She was laughing. “So, you said, ‘as soon as possible’. Well, I guess to Oliver that sounded like an emergency. Peter will be into Seattle around two in the morning and I don’t know how long the flight is but you can probably reach him once he has landed.”

She turned to me. “How is he?’

“He’s asleep,” I said.

“I think he can stay here and have dinner you come over too. We will see you about four then,” Mom said into the phone.

“I have figured out what to do for now about a job” I said. I remembered that there was a push lawn mower in the shed in back. That’s a mower that doesn’t use gas. You have to push it while it cuts the grass. I would mow lawns.

I thought this was a perfect solution to the problem of how to pay for food and litter for Sammy. I pulled the mower out of the shed. It needed a little oil. I knew how to do that. I was feeling pretty good about this. As I pulled the mower down the street trying to think of who might be home that I could ask to mow their lawn, I even remembered to keep the blades up. I noticed the Blake Family had lights on and remembered that the ferry was broken down. Perfect!”

I knocked on the front door. I tried to make it a cheerful sounding knock. It worked because Mr. Blake opened the door and said, smiling “Good morning Olive. Did you have a nice Christmas?”

‘Why yes, Thank You” I replied, “I was wondering, if you could use your lawn mowed.”

“Olive that’s an interesting idea. It’s just that the lawn doesn’t grow in the winter” he said kindly. ‘Are you saving money for something special.”

I told him all about Mrs. Wilson and the kitten and how she couldn’t afford cat food and litter. He listened carefully and thought for a few minutes.

“I think there must be other widows on the island with problems like that. A pet can help people feel less lonely. What you need is a fund raiser. Maybe my wife and I would help. I will see what she says. Come back tonight.

I took the lawn mower home. I didn’t know what a fund raiser was. We had something like that at school maybe. We wanted a trip to the space center so we had a bake sale and raised enough for the tickets.

I told Mom about this. She didn’t know the Blakes very well. She decided to go with me and Oliver. Oliver seemed a little more like himself again. I told Oliver about the lawn mowing idea and what Mr. Blake said.

Everyone liked the fund raising idea. My dad even helped us . We printed stickers to wrap around soup cans. Word got around the Island about our idea and a big box store donated a lot of kitty litter. It was way more than Mrs. Wilson needed. Oliver thought we needed to find those other lonely seniors who needed help with their cats and dogs.

"Well, I guess we could just knock on doors and ask if they are old and lonely and need help with cat litter and food" I said, but by the time all the words got out, I realized that it was a dumb idea.

"Really? Olive, Really? " Oliver said. The way he said it let me know he thought it was dumb, too.

I shrugged, "I don't know." I tried to think of something. " Where do they hang out ?"

Oliver sighed. "If they hung out they wouldn't be lonely"

" There's this place on the way to school called' Coupeville Senior Center'. Maybe someone there will know something" I said, hoping that made sense.

"Okay." Oliver responded getting on his bike.

We rode down there and had to wheel our bikes into the building because we didn't think about locks.

There was a man sitting behind a desk, so I spoke up and said, "Is this where the seniors hang out?" For some reason Oliver poked me with his elbow.

"That's one way to say it, I guess," the man replied with a smile.

Oliver spoke before I had a chance, "We have been raising money to help low income seniors get supplies for their pets. Now we don't know how to find the the people who need them."

"Well you came to the right place. We can put a notice in our weekly bulletin and in the local paper. I'll need to get information and a parents name, can you come back tomorrow afternoon with a parent or adult relative." He seemed eager to help us and the seniors.

Pretty soon we had many requests and many donations. We needed help delivering. Fortunately Oliver's uncle was able to borrow the bus from the senior center and help us deliver on Saturdays. His name was Paul. Before long we had to find another volunteer to help deliver, we had so many donations and so many needy people.

The newspaper wrote an article about Oliver and me and took a picture of Paul and the truck and us and somehow Harry(the big dog) managed to get in the picture

“I could have told you that!” said Oliver. That’s how I knew he was feeling better.

The Blakes were willing and eager to help us with our project, but soon something happened. Something that had to do with Oliver’s dad and what my dad wrote about. You might be able to guess what it was.

Keep watching this post for about the fund raising and mystery about what Oliver's dad had learned.

That all started in January after Oliver's dad heard about this sickness in China. My dad wrote an article about it for the Times. He couldn't get very good information from the government in China, and neither could Oliver's dad. Mom start insisting that we wash our hands a lot however.

We are going to break form this story for a few weeks. I think most of us have an idea about what happens. How they cope with the deliveries and fund raising (and many other things) will be interesting. Next time we are going to meet some ducks. 

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