My mother grew up on a ranch in Nebraska. A real ranch, with a cool name, Skull Lake Ranch. The ranch was a cattle ranch. It had horses, dogs, cats, pastures, tractors, hay, airplanes, and of course cattle.

More about my childhood ranch experiences:  Hay… Hey!

I spent many holidays and summers playing, exploring, and working with my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and hired hands at Skull Lake Ranch. And then later helping out as they continued to work the land and raise cattle in other locations.

I have many early memories of Skull Lake Ranch, and one of my favorites is of Spook. A beautiful horse, Spook was gentle and treasured. Her coat was a pale, golden tan and warm to the touch. My fingers slipped along her soft neck as I rubbed her before climbing into her saddle. She was patient. I felt safe.

I remember seeing and being excited by the horses as a young child, then becoming nervous as I got closer. They were big and strong, and had a commanding presence. They were observant and wary. They didn’t stand still, shifting side to side and lifting strong legs and clopping hooves. And they had a smell. Not a bad smell, but a smell that filled your nose with tickles and sneezes.

The horses on the ranch were working animals. I remember asking and begging to ride them and being told I had to wait for a day when they were off and rested. Instead, I would visit them in the barn for a few minutes at the end of the day.

I always thought Spook got her name from the pale color she was. Like a ghost. Though, she didn’t look spooky to me, and I didn’t think Spook was a good name for a girl horse. But in reality it was likely because she was skittish and spooked easily when she first came to the ranch.

I remember her being there through most of my childhood. She was the one I wanted to ride. She was the horse that stuck with me in my mind when I wasn’t at the ranch. Spook was the horse I drew pictures of when I learned to draw horses. I remember trying out different colors on the horses I drew, but they never looked right. Pale, golden tan was the perfect color. It was always Spook.

At some point Spook was gone from the ranch. I don’t remember why, and I probably didn’t ask. ‘Why’ questions weren’t always welcomed, and most of the time answers would be fictitious.

“Grandpa/Aunt/Uncle…why are there so many snakes here?” “Why, we’re collecting them for the next Indiana Jones movie.”

“Grandma, how come the girls have to do the dishes?” “If we let the boys do them, they’ll just have the dogs lick the plates clean, and you don’t want to eat off those.”

“Why do we have to get up before the sun comes up?” “We have to sneak up on the cows.”

“Grandpa, why do you always do tricks in the airplane?” “Well, I like to give the cows a show.”

Ok, that last one is probably true.

So, I don’t know when or why Spook was gone, she just was. But, she wasn’t gone from my mind. When I was younger, each planned trip to see Grandma and Grandpa made me think of Spook. As I got older, each phone call or conversation about Nebraska, the ranch, or the family, made me think of Spook. And each year, since meeting Spook, as Halloween rolls around the word ‘spook’ is displayed in stores and windows, I can’t help but think of my old friend.

Aunt Patrice and me on Spook, 1977.
Me, 1989. Obviously, not Spook. 🙂 



More Connections


I’m feeling called to write more about connection. Is it a calling? I’m not certain, but it’s 4:30am and I’m at my computer after putting it off for an hour. Rolling over several times attempting to go back to sleep I began to realize that maybe I was awake for a purpose, and maybe that purpose is to write another post about connection. Additionally, a new connection and friend in my life, Evelyn, essentially got the ball rolling for me (thank you).

Later this morning I will take our oldest dog in to the vet for what will be maybe his fourth surgery in the ten years he has been a part of this family. He came to us in April 2006 at what was guessed to be a year old at the time. He’s the sweetest and friendliest Min-pin anyone has ever met, as I’m told this every single time we have an appointment, which is a lot.

I’ve struggled a little with how I identify him in our family. He is a pet. He is a member of the family and household. He is a dog. He is expensive. He is trying at times. He is not a child, but he is like a child- a child who doesn’t listen when I want him to. He is a snuggle-bug. He is a scorpion killer. He is stinky- even after a bath. He is a landscaper…well, he is a born digger and has eaten most sections of the irrigation system in our yard while creating massive holes.

His name is Rocky. Rocka pocka. Rockstar. Rocky Two Toes.

Several years ago he developed a tumor on his left hind food. It was cancer and two of his toes had to be removed. That I struggled with. How far do you go when the vet is discussing cancer treatment for a dog? At the time cancer treatment was not very advanced for dogs and a small percentage benefitted from long term treatment. Luckily his cancer was not the movin’ and shakin’ kind and stayed local to his foot.

So the Queen of Hearts declared, “Off with his toes!” Oh wait, different story. Though sometimes I feel like we’ve fallen down a rabbit hole with Rocky…or a Rocky hole because he’s the digger in the family. Oh, the never ending holes!!

So, back to the surgery. In about two hours I will drop him off for surgery. This time around he’s got two tumors on two different feet. We’re hoping that he will remain Rocky Two Toes and not become Rocky No Toes. Fingers crossed, prayers sent, hopeful.

And now, back to connection. It would seem that making connections with living, breathing, beings would be easiest, wouldn’t it? You both are actively participating in the connection. Though as I write that last sentence I realize that just because one is actively participating in the connection does not mean they are actively participating in STRENGTHENING that connection.

In the case of Rocky, he is an active participant. He benefits from a strong connection with my husband and me. He actively participates in strengthening the connection. He alerts me when there is someone at the door. He whines when I take too long to feed him, or pet him, or give him treats, or walk him…When I’m excited and dancing around, he’s right there hopping alongside me. He snuggles up next to my husband or me when we are working at the computer or watching TV.

I’m considering now how I strengthen the connections I have with others- people specifically. I can identify those actions and thoughts I engage in. I know that I’ve gotten better at it- the quality of connecting. The quantity, well, that’s another story because at the same time I’m strengthening the connection with myself. You must give to yourself first before you can give to others, or you risk finding yourself empty.

As an adult, quality of connection is more important than quantity. For children, however, both are important. Children need high quality connections on a consistent basis to build a foundation for social and emotional competence. As they get older the foundation built in the early years continues to support them as the quantity of connections lessens and hopefully the quality increases.

Do you have thoughts on this topic? Let’s talk about it. Post your comments below.


Our niece, Meggan, making connections, obviously.

My husband, Kevin, and Rocky snuggling.



dsc02985I see connection in my life, every day. I see it in nature, in relationships, in the items I’ve collected, in new items I acquire, the way I drive, how I organize my closets, and how I respond to myself through thoughts and self-talk.

Sometimes I delight in recognizing those connections and other times I wish to change them. Most of the time I crave the connections. I crave the ability to identify and understand on a deeper level who I am and how I am. I crave opportunities to make more connections both within myself and with the world outside of myself, though I don’t believe these are exclusive of each other.

Recently, I made a visit to Nebraska to visit family. It was a connection down memory lane. As a child and teen I had spent many holidays, and summers on my Grandparents’ ranch and in the surrounding area.

On this recent trip I found myself witnessing the reconnection between two people and was struck with pleasure at seeing this occur. I was with my Uncle Mark, my mother’s youngest brother, as he and my younger brother, Joe, connected through FaceTime. It had been years since they had seen each other face to face, and the joy and energy I witnessed experienced between them made my heart swell. Life had kept them apart. One lives in Nebraska, the other in Arizona. Their work and family obligations had made it difficult to come together.

It was instant, their reconnection. While they caught up and got filled in on the basics of their lives, their interaction returned to as it always had been. They immediately began brainstorming on projects, tossing around ideas, laughing and joking with each other. Then I witnessed the deepening of their connection. They expressed the love they have for each other and Uncle Mark added “I love your girls, Joe. It’s been nice to meet them and have them here.” I watched as the statement touched Joe. It was beautiful (my niece and sister-in-law had made the trip, too).

Two days later I got to witness the beginning of a new connection. My three year old niece was meeting with my grandfather who has been in a care facility for a few years with memory related issues and physical decline. Grandpa enjoys visitors and talks a lot, given the chance, though much of his language isn’t often connected to who he is speaking to. However, on this day he watched as my niece danced, fingered the keys of a piano, and bounced around before coming to greet him. As she came near he leaned forward and asked her directly, “How old are you?” She held up three fingers and said “Three.” He responded with, “Wow!” and a big smile. She smiled back at him and took his outstretched hand. Connection.

Connection is important to us humans. It grounds us, gives us boundaries and guides, pushes us, makes us feel special and sometimes frightened. Allowing children to develop connections to their world, the people in their lives, and to themselves builds the social and emotional structures they need to be successful in life.

What connections are you noticing in your life?

dsc02986 dsc02988


This Is My Job


I’ve already been hired.

I was recently speaking on the phone with my dear friend, Amanda, and as we talked about the progress of the two books I’ve written and the work that is still yet to be done I blurt out in a moment of clarity, “I’ve already interviewed for this job, and I’ve been hired. The choice I have now is to do my job or don’t do my job.” Amanda was confused, “Wait, what? Job?” Her confusion was totally understandable as I was coming into a realization while in the midst of our conversation. This often happens with us as we stimulate deeper understanding and creativity within each other during our chats.

My job is my life and vice versa. I have written two books since November and have not finished the first rounds of editing and development needed for me to submit the manuscripts to a professional that knows what they are doing. Do I know what I need to do to get this done? Yes. I need to get into a routine, a routine that involves writing every day. It also has to incorporate health, nutrition, play, and relationships. This is true for all of us, whether you work outside the home or not.

The fun and simultaneously frustrating part of this routine is that there is no one right way to do it. Of course, I will realize that there are elements in my routine that work better than others, and will implement those until I get to a place where I feel the flow is most effortless. And, this will be the work I must do in order to do the work.

See what I did there? Work, makes work work so it’s not work.

And now Rhianna’s song is playing in my head, sorry guys.

We’ve all applied, interviewed, and been hired for the job of life. In my mind, this happened before and during conception. Some are better at their jobs than others. Some receive multiple promotions and added responsibilities (think parenthood), while others don’t. Some do just enough to get by (survive), while others do more than their fair share and try to do the jobs of many people (you know who you are).

Our jobs will change as we change. The best part about my job is that I have complete control of it, but I don’t over-control it. Are you still with me?

Let’s apply this to children and the job of childhood- play. While children play they learn social and emotional skills (if they are interacting with other people), fine and gross motor skills, cognitive skills, and language skills. This is their job. These skills are needed in order to keep their job. Not all kids will develop skills at the same level as other kids, and that is ok. All jobs are different, right?

The more children play, the more they learn. Basically, children are going through on-the-job training. The more you get, the better you perform. The more you get, the more you learn about yourself, your interests, your dislikes, and your abilities. And, the best part about play in childhood is that, aside from safety, kids don’t really need much guidance. They will make up their own rules, use toys and other objects in new ways, and build confidence strong enough to carry them to their next promotion. As adults, we need to do two things: Play with them and give them the permission and space to play and explore.

A couple of months ago my six year old niece was making a book. A book of fairies. She worked on it like it was her job. It WAS her job. She was determined, serious, and confident. When she was done, she turned the pages reading the words she’d written, and admiring the illustrations. She sat up tall, full of pride in her work, pride in herself.

That’s what I’m striving for in my job. Work like a child.




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milfay and grandson jason 12 1984

Can an adult and child be friends?

I think so. One of my first adult friends was Milfay. I’m not sure how Mildred Poole came to be called Milfay, but it’s the name I know her by. It’s a name of affection, of endearment, for a dear human who embodies kindness and love.

Milfay, her husband Olan, and their adult children were friends with my parents when we lived in Louisiana. I remember spending quite a bit of time at their home and loving it. I specifically remember sitting in the back seat of our station wagon driving up a dusty road, passing a water hole as the road curved to the left and then right before we arrived at Millay’s house. The driveway was very large and provided ample space for play. My brothers and I often played with her grandchildren, exploring the woods, and property around the home.

When inside the home I remember feeling valued and important as Milfay asked about how I was and listened to me as I spoke. She made me feel important. Her voice had the quality of song and her eyes twinkled. She never scolded me, and instead would gently explain what was expected.

Milfay’s kitchen was warm and smelled like sugar and freshly chopped onions. She had sweet tea on the stove and a bowl of tuna fish ready to be spread on bread for sandwiches. Her tuna fish sandwiches were my favorite. She always added finely chopped apples. The sweet crunch paired with the savory mix was a delicious balance. To this day when I want  a tuna fish sandwich, this is the one I want.

I think back to Milfay’s kitchen often. The walls were papered with a lattice pattern intertwined with flowers. I still have a vivid picture in my mind of the wall paper. Recently, I realized that sometimes when I’m feeling stressed I picture that wall paper and it makes me feel calm and happy. It was a very cheerful kitchen, and she was the reason. Charm and sweetness seeped out of her pores. I loved visiting her.

Friendship is something children learn through experiences. Adults model healthy relationships, friendships, and expectations for children. A child who experiences respect, trust, and mutual understanding with an adult begins to form an idea of what friendship means to them. Adults can then support children building relationships with other children through modeling and narration.

I am proud to call Milfay my friend, and though our contact is limited these days she will continue to hold a special place in my heart.

mildred and sylvia poole 12 1984

Milfay and one of her children, Sylvia. Notice the kitchen wallpaper. 🙂

Best Christmas Ever

granddaddys tree 12 1984Christmas. Many celebrate the holiday by giving gifts, spending time with loved ones, participating in religious and cultural traditions, and supporting charities. No matter how a person celebrates this winter holiday almost everyone has a favorite memory or two.

My favorite Christmas was the year we moved from Louisiana to Kansas. I was eight years old and we traveled back down to Louisiana for the holiday. It was the last one we spent with Granddaddy. No matter the time of year, I loved visiting him at his home in Bastrop.  The huge tree in the front yard that we would climb on every day, trying to get higher each climb became a central focus that Christmas. After a very long car ride we arrived at Granddaddy’s to find a tall and somewhat misshapen evergreen in the corner of the living room beside the piano. Ornaments and garland decorated every branch and wrapped gifts occupied the space below. Mom and dad commented on the tree and Granddaddy casually said, “Oh I cut the top off that tree in front.” Someone asked how he did it, and he   said he’d climbed it, how else? One month before turning 72 my Grandaddy climbed a tree that was no less than two stories tall to cut off the top so that we could have a tree for Christmas.

The visit was like any other. We played in and out of the house, pulling out the toys our father and aunts had played with as children. We ate whatever Granddaddy made because it was always delicious. And when it came time for Christmas morning we shuffled into the living room sleepy and excited to see what Santa had brought. And you know what? I don’t even remember what Santa brought that year, because the two best presents I’ve ever received came from Granddaddy and his friend, Miss Annie, who lived down the street.

I remember sitting down on the dark olive green sofa and waiting, impatiently, for my turn to open a gift. When I opened the gift that Grandaddy gave me I sucked in a breath and my eyes widened in excitement. There in my lap sat a pair of AM/FM cordless, battery operated, black and white, headphones. I had never seen anything quite like them. Someone helped me put the batteries in and from that moment on the headphones were glued to my head, only coming off with threat of punishment. I had never felt so cool. I remember giving Granddaddy a big excited hug, and him gently patting me on the back. He wasn’t a very affectionate man and I think my reaction took him a little by surprise.

I didn’t think the day could get any better until Miss Annie arrived bearing more gifts. My brothers and I each received an identical wrapped gift. As I watched one of my brothers open his gift my body began to tremble with excitement and I could barely contain myself. He had just unwrapped a whole bag of miniature chocolate bars (Mr. Goodbar, Krackle, Hershey’s, etc…). Was this what awaited me? When it was my turn I ripped into the paper revealing the same bag of treats. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! The air seemed to sing around me. I started to open the bag, my mouth watering uncontrollably, when mom stopped me and said something about breakfast first. Oh the world felt as if it had crashed around me. Then, the  heavens opened again when I heard Miss Annie and Granddaddy suggest that just one candy would be ok before breakfast. My parents relenting, I opened the bag and chose a Mr. Goodbar. The milk chocolatey, peanut-y goodness filled my senses and I was floating on a sugar high.

The long drive home was made more pleasant with my super cool headphones on. I still remember the disappointment on that ride when moments of static filled the air waves as we passed through areas between towns. I would diligently turn the tuning dial bit by bit searching for a clear station, and feel like I had struck gold each time one would be found.

I think back to what it was that made that Christmas with Granddaddy so special. Was it the gifts? Well, yes, in some ways. As an eight year old, that’s what I knew, what I understood. But, since then, every time I remember that visit it’s not just the gifts that stand out. It was the whole experience that seemed magical. The tree and Granddaddy’s story about cutting it down for us. The smell of his house and his hand patting me on the back. Eating at the table together and listening to the grown ups talk and trying to join in. The sound of Miss Annie’s sing song voice when she spoke to us kids. And, I suppose, that it was the last holiday I spent there with him, because two and a half years later he would leave this earth. All of these things and more make this my best Christmas ever memory.

We all remember events in our lives differently. Talking with children about how they remember events is a great way to gain insight into what they focus on and how they feel in certain situations. It is important to know that how a child (or adult) feels about events or situations is not wrong, it’s just how they feel and feelings can change. Having conversations with your child helps build skills in relating to others and continues to strengthen the foundation of trust in your parent-child relationship.

Merry Christmas!

Jess christmas tree 12 1984 Jess headphones 12 1984 granddaddy jess 12 1984

Children Need Dirt



A child’s job is to play. Through play children learn, and through learning achieve understanding.

My first childhood career was getting dirty, sticky and making a mess. I was good at it and often received positive reinforcement and subsequent promotions for my hard work. I was self motivated and could be a team player. Did you start out with the same first job as me? Or, does this sound like your own children?

Luckily, I had a great on the job trainer, my older brother. But kids don’t necessarily need a trainer, and they certainly don’t need to have any prior experience to excel at this career. The beauty of this path is that there is no path. The directions a child could take are endless- as long as someone else doesn’t get in the way of their creative process. Parents, caregivers and other children sometimes can stifle a child’s learning by “helping” them too much. We don’t need to help children play. My advice to adults is to enjoy yourself, play, get dirty, relax. Sometimes you teach children more by not teaching and by just being.

Getting dirty, feeling the earth, being outside- humans were made for this. Children instinctively reach for the ground. Just watch them. Let them be. Follow their lead. Breathe. Take a photo if you must, then put the phone down and become present. If you can’t help yourself and feel that you must be doing something, then talk to the child. Describe what they are doing. Ask open ended questions. This benefits infants through adolescents.

The picture above shows me a few weeks before my third birthday. If you look closely you will see mud dried on my face and body. I have several pictures similar to this one, different ages, different levels of mud, showing the progression of my work. It’s no longer my career, but I do freelance in dirt from time to time. How about you?

Happy Birthday, Joe Jackson!


It was April 1985 and we were in the car driving through our tiny town. As we passed the bank, the light-up sign in front of it flashed “Happy Birthday”. “Joe!” we exclaimed, “Look at the sign.” He looked and saw the words “Happy Birthday” lit up. He gasped with a disbelieving smile beginning to spread over his face. His eyes were wide, then suddenly filled with tears. The sign’s next flash of wording, “Joe Jackson”. “It’s wrong” he wailed, “I’m not Joe Jackson! Why does it say Joe Jackson?”

Understandably a five year old turning six, excited about their own birthday, might not fully grasp coincidence. On top of that, once my older brother and I saw our younger brother’s reaction, we burst into laughter. Our parents did try to explain to Joe that someone else named Joe was also celebrating their birthday, but the damage had been done.

What an emotional roller coaster he must have been on. First, being excited about his birthday and all that comes with it, cake, presents, balloons. Second, on top of the excitement his mind was blown at trying to comprehend a message just for him on a light-up sign (electric signs were not common where we lived), and just as it was sinking in and his euphoria blooming…Third, the crush of confusion at his name being wrong on the sign. How could a five year old turning six even be expected to understand on top of all the intense feelings? Fourth, the teasing laughter he received from his siblings at a time he needed comfort.

Certainly no harm was intended, it rarely is. Children don’t get sarcasm and much of teasing is that. Children need their parents and caregivers to teach them about the emotions they feel and express. When someone teases or uses sarcasm to communicate it confuses a child’s understanding of how the world works. Additionally, when a child falls or runs into something and another person laughs (think funny home videos) signals are mixed- ‘I’m in pain and they are smiling and laughing’. Does this mean we need to or should shelter children from all of these experiences? No, because it is a part of how the world works. What we can do for children during situations that might be confusing for them is recognize their confusion. We can empathize with a child by expressing to them the feelings they may be having and then explain what is happening in their surroundings. Be careful not to invalidate a child’s feelings by telling them not to feel a certain way, to stop crying, or “It’s ok”.

Not all children express, react, or understand the same way so they should not all be treated the same way.

Joe’s sixth birthday ended up fine. He had chocolate cake, presents and balloons, and was smiling and laughing in the end. We still call him Joe Jackson from time to time and he chuckles.image


imageA few months ago my husband and I were visiting Sedona, a couple of hours North of Phoenix, and having breakfast at a local restaurant. I was feeling pretty full from the veggie omelet I’d ordered, but the buttered toast was calling for a bite. I picked up a slice and took a bite. As I chewed I could hear the echoing sounds from the cafeteria. My mind’s eye looked up to see the dusty green painted metal support beams of the roof. Light filtered through the windows on one side of the building. I was a first grader. The cafeteria was big and echoed the sounds of children’s voices and sneakers squeaking against the wood floors. It was warm and the air felt heavy with the smell of sausage. I distinctly remember sitting on the bench of a long table and looking at the tan-colored tray in front of me. Scrambled eggs, grits, sausage, milk, apple and buttered toast. I always saved the toast for last. I can’t describe the taste. It was like heaven in my mouth, rich, slightly sweet and salty. My whole body enjoyed that toast. Every breakfast we were served toast. It didn’t matter whether breakfast was cereal, or cream of wheat, or eggs and sausage, we were always served buttered toast. The toast was always perfection. The butter had soaked through and sat in the middle of the slice leaving both sides still crispy.

There have been a few times in my life when a memory of that taste has returned to me, never as perfect, but I relish those few bites.

As I think about the tastes of childhood I am reminded of so many times as an adult that I have re-tried food items I enjoyed as a child only to be disappointed at the change in taste. Whatchamacallit was probably my ‘go to’ treat for the majority of the 80’s, but it just doesn’t taste the same anymore. I wonder if it is because the recipe has changed, my taste buds have changed and matured, or just a combination of both. The times I am least disappointed are those when the food I’m tasting is homemade…hopefully by the person whose always made it. When I find something that tastes the same as it did when I was a kid- instant heaven. Is it the same for you?

Back in September 2013, I published a post Gardens and Girlfriends. In the post I provide a link to taste bud development in infants and young children. Check it out. Here, I’d like to explore that a little more. First, our tastebuds have a predisposition to sweeter foods (big surprise, I know!). Take a look at baby food. Carrots, sweet potatoes, peas, green beans, peaches, bananas…all relatively sweet. Don’t believe me? Do your own taste test using baby food or even the raw versions of each food. Close your eyes and identify the dominant tastes (salty, sweet, sour, bitter, savory). Sweet is the common denominator. In fact, most foods have a sweet component to the flavor, even if it isn’t dominant. Because we humans, when starting out in life, tend to prefer sweeter foods parents and caregivers tend to keep providing the sweeter foods (“He will only eat carrots and bananas…I can’t get anything green in him.”).

There are a few points or suggestions I’d like to make with these types of statements. First, introduce new food in small portions, don’t expect it to be a success right off the bat. Second, recognize that your own food issues or insecurities will come into play. For example, you may not like green vegetables, but is that any reason not to introduce and feed them to your children? Third,  and maybe most important- it takes up to 17 tries of a new flavor to determine if it will be acceptable. This means that your child may spit out green beans 16 times, then magically like them. Well, maybe not, but it could happen. As children age their taste buds will age as well. This means that a food they may have always preferred is now unappealing, or vice versa. Finally, try not to pair too many tastes together when introducing a newer food. For example, imagine a plate with grilled chicken, steamed cauliflower and grapes. The grapes are the food with the dominant flavor – sweet. If your child is still new to cauliflower, the vast difference in taste of the grapes may likely turn their tastebuds off to the vegetable. Instead, try serving the grapes at the end of the meal, and not as a reward.

Feel free to share your experiences with food and children!




My Favorite Costume Ever

strawberry shortcakeThe year after I was subjected to a plastic Strawberry Shortcake costume for Halloween my mother made me one. I was over the moon. For a few years Strawberry Shortcake was my favorite character and having my very own costume made me feel special. Not only did I wear it for Halloween, but also for ‘Favorite Book Character’ day at school, and around the house.

Some children stick with favorite things for long periods of time while other children seem to have a new favorite every week. Parents and caregivers can encourage children’s interests by talking with them, playing make-believe games, and by using recycled materials to make items related to whatever the child is loving at the moment.

I once worked with a child who loved trains- couldn’t get enough of them. The child’s parents had purchased several train sets and wanted to do more but also wanted to be engaged with their child so they made something like this and this as a family. An internet search will yield many ideas how to create items, but if you’re having trouble coming up with ideas feel free to leave a comment and we can brainstorm together!