Welcome to my new and definitely improved website. And no, I’m not bragging when I call it “improved” because for the first time, I have hired professionals to create the design and program the site. So I can take no credit whatsoever for any improvements.

This site combines the information from three different websites – the K.D. Hays site, the Toto’s Tale site and the old Kate Dolan site. All three addresses will bring you here.

All of my “Living History” and “Life Beyond the Lunchboxes” columns are still here also, now moved onto the Blog page. My 18th Century Maryland Page information is here, too, on the Resources page.

New posts on the combined website will feature information about history, writing and dogs–all with kids involved. I can’t guarantee how often I will post and that’s due to the “kids involved” part of the equation. It is, after all, more important to find frozen hot wings for my son’s Monday Night Football party than it is to work on the marketing plan for the new book. And it’s more important to attend a coaches meeting for my daughter’s jump rope team than to finish a chapter in a story I’ve been working on for three years.

Really, it is. My son will be off to college in less than four years. But well before that, he will decide that there’s no way he’s inviting friends to his own house where his own embarrassing sorry-excuse-for-parents live. My daughter will eventually trade in a hobby that I can sort-of help with to one which I will be no help at all. (Heaven help us if the high school offers a bungee jumping team) So I need to take advantage of the opportunities, mundane as they are, to be a part of my kids’ lives.

Life with kids is crazy-buzy at times. But it’s rarely dull. Life before kids had more dull moments than I’d care to remember. So I’ll take this chaos any day – as long as I have good friends to share the carpool duties. And I will keep writing in the midst of chaos, because I need that, too.

October 25

Book Launch party announced for Toto’s Tale

Grab your witch hat and put on your ruby slippers! The book release party for Toto’s Tale will feature a Wizard of Oz costume contest, coloring and drawing contests, food, giveaways and more. It all happens on Saturday, November 20 from 2 to 4 p.m. at A Likely Story Bookstore, 7566 Main Street in Sykesville, MD 21784. Everyone is welcome to come celebrate the release of my first joint project with my daughter.

Well, not everyone is invited. Our canine consultants, Alice and Shannon, will be at home chasing squirrels and chewing on Dentastix. Dogs are usually not too welcome at a buffet. Or a bookstore.

But dogs are now welcome at some libraries. The Karma Dogs HEARTS program pairs up young readers with special canine companions who are trained to listen patiently while their humans read to them. If the reader makes a mistake, the dogs don’t point it out. And that encourages kids who might otherwise get discouraged by hearing correction from an adult or another child with better reading skills.

We think Karma Dogs is a great program and we intend to start volunteering with them when they next come to our part of the county. If you’d like to learn more about the program, visit their website at http://karmadogs.org. The reading program is just part of what they do. It all benefits kids and dogs, so how can you go wrong with that?