Miles the Adventurous Cat- Guest Post by Valerie Woebkenberg

January 8, 2019

Miles, the Adventurous Cat – Guest Post by Valerie Woebkenberg

fluffy tuxedo cat, pixabay

Miles, a fluffy tuxedo cat, joined our family one November, around the same time as the Pilgrims arrived in Plymouth almost 400 years earlier. We named him Miles in honor of Myles Standish who traveled with the Pilgrims on the Mayflower in 1620. Miles likes to explore our backyard and engages in what we call a friendly game of tag with the visiting chipmunks and squirrels. My family and I imagined Miles thinking of himself on a grand adventure, so we took him on one!

I think it is so important for children to learn about important events in American history and what better place for a cat named Myles Standish to begin than with the Pilgrims. Miles first hiked to Plymouth, Massachusetts, in Miles on the Mayflower to find his family and ended up learning about the faith and courage of the men, women, and children who sailed across the ocean in 1620. It seemed natural for him to travel down the road to Boston. Miles hiked the Freedom Trail and met actors who speak of life in the colonies. I thought readers might enjoy learning about the tea party, which wasn’t a party at all!

I am currently researching three historical events, which might be great adventures for Miles. The Battle of Ft. McHenry, which inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star Spangled Banner” is reenacted each year and I think Miles might just be able to play a part. Miles is ready to fly along with Orville and Wilbur Wright on an adventure that will include bicycles, gliders, and maybe a trip to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. The third event I am planning to include in the Miles Across America series is the story of the Apollo astronauts, especially those who flew the later missions. Miles won’t be blasting off to the moon, but he might be exploring the Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., or heading to space camp in Huntsville, Alabama.

Watching Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the moon is my favorite event in American history. Every July 29, I look up at the moon and wonder at the courage of those men.  I would like to encourage young readers to learn more about all of the brave Americans who traveled to the moon as well as the scientific work they did when there.

I enjoyed a full-time career as an elementary teacher helping young students to love reading and learning. My expertise is in early literacy, so it seemed natural to write for young readers. One of the best perks of being a writer of children’s books is sharing them with students at schools.  They are interested in the historical events as well as the process of writing, research, illustrating, and publishing. And, of course, they always want to know what Miles is doing and where he will be heading next. Miles will be logging lots of miles if he heads to all of the places they have suggested!

Valerie Woebkenberg

Christmas in July

July 13, 2014

The 4th of July has passed-what a celebration of the birth of our wonderful nation filled with traditions, parades, cookouts, and lots of beautiful fireworks!

Christmas in July, although certainly not an official holiday, is celebrated with its own traditions around the world.  The phrase “Christmas in July” seems to have its origin in 1933 at Camp Keystone, a girl’s summer camp in North Carolina.  The campers had a mid-summer celebration with a Christmas tree, gifts, and a surprise visit from Santa Claus.  Soon after that, in 1940, Hollywood released the movie Christmas in July.  In this comedy, an office clerk (Dick Powell) dreams of better things as he enters a coffee company slogan contest.  In 1979, two holiday favorites made an appearance together in the animated Rudolph and Frosty’s Christmas in July.  

With families spread across the country, getting together in December is often impossible so Christmas in July vacations are planned to take advantage of more favorable weather.  I know of a couple that may not have the opportunity to be together in December so they are planning to spend Christmas in July in Frankenmuth, Michigan.  There they will experience the sights and sounds of Christmas, reflect on the spiritual gifts of the season, and experience the love that is Christ.

With Christmas being a summer holiday in the southern hemisphere, Yulefest or Half-Christmas celebrations are popular in Australia with many who enjoy a winter holiday feel and taking advantage of the peek season of the snowfields.  Also from the southern hemisphere is the most interesting story I came across.  At the McMurdo Station in Antarctica, during a July of extreme weather conditions, supplies were parachuted in to the station.  The sight of the supplies, gifts, and letters falling from the sky reminded the personnel at the station of Santa Claus, and the celebration of Christmas in both July and December began.

American retailers began the practice of advertising Christmas in July sales in the 1950’s.  To a Christmas lover like me, it’s never too early to think of Christmas.  I begin my Christmas shopping when I come across something special for someone on my gift list.  If you like to get an early shopping start, please contact us to purchase a book.  We’ll add a personalized message and include a copy of “Between the Covers,” a Christmas Seek and Find, with a sweet holiday frame.

The Beauty of Fall

October 10, 2013


Fall is officially here with the cooler weather and beautiful leaves we expect in the Midwest.  Halloween candy is in the stores; decorations and costumes are appearing everywhere.  Craft stores feature fall decorations near the entrance, but Christmas is just an aisle or two away.

I enjoy the cool mornings, sunny afternoons, and the beautiful trees, but I see fall as a sign of what’s to come, preparing us for winter.  As an author of a children’s Christmas book it’s a time of busyness that means being prepared when the Christmas season really begins.  I look forward to Advent and all of the traditions that lead us to the celebration of the greatest gift of love.

The Story the Little Christmas Tree Told  is a story of waiting and getting ready, being prepared for when the time was right.  The little tree stood waiting, growing slowly, and longing to be part of something greater.  It has all of the elements of Advent, waiting, hope, anticipation of someone special, a loving family, and the celebration that comes only when the time is right-an old story, new every year.

I’m scheduling events to share The Story the Little Christmas Tree Told with schools, libraries, and scout troops.  Book signings at bookstores and craft shows are filling up the calendar.  Please consider making this heartwarming story a part of your Christmas collection or start a tradition for someone special.

Summer Memories

September 11, 2013


Does this look familiar?



When our kids were little, playing with the neighborhood kids always ended with freeze pops.  It was an unspoken signal that the evening was over.

Our kids are grown now, but I asked them about their favorite summer memories.  Here are a few of their favorites:  Baseball in the backyard, Reds games, playing in the sprinkler, catching lightning bugs, back flips out of the swings (I don’t recommend this one), trips to Lake Erie, Sea World, and the Cleveland Zoo.  Bike riding led to racing down the hill, then building ramps, listening for the ice cream truck, 4th of July fireworks.  The list could go on and on.

Now our neighbors have young children and the swings are getting lots of use again.  Lightning bugs and fireworks are still a marvel.  Our freezer is filled with freeze pops, ready to keep the tradition going.  It’s not too late to make a summer memory.

Save the Date!

August 18, 2013

The Grey’s and Gifts craft show will be held on September 7 from 10am-3pm at Elevation Sports, 5280 S. State Route 741, in Mason, OH.  I’ll be in space A (Afghan Hound) 3.

When I first received the invitation to be a part of this first annual craft show, I was curious about the name.    Queen City Greyhounds places retired racing greyhounds in loving “forever” homes in the tri-state area.  They are sponsoring this event to raise funds to contribute to their mission.    Check out the Facebook page for the event at .  Stop by to check out some unique gift items and help make this a “GREYT” event!

A Gift for Jamaica

May 4, 2013

A friend of mine, Lisa Lockwood, is a missionary in Jamaica with CSI Ministries.  Among other things, she picks up visiting teams from the airport (a 3 1/2 hour drive each way on rough winding roads driving on the left side of the road), plans and coordinates projects for the visiting teams, and meets with them for spiritual growth.

I asked Lisa about the celebration of Christmas in Jamaica and the traditions are surprisingly similar.  On Christmas Eve there is a traditional “grand market” day when all of the shops are open very late and many people go into town to shop.  It is quite crowded and festive throughout the night with music and food such as jerk chicken, pork, and soups being cooked on the street.  On Christmas Day, people will cook a big meal of roast beef, pork, pudding, and sorrel juice and spend time with their families, visit the elderly, and take food to those in need.  Christmas presents are usually opened in the morning.

On New Year’s Eve, there is a traditional Watch Night service at most churches.  Many people walk into town to hear Christian bands playing and buy food cooked on the street.  At midnight, people hug, dance, and wish each other New Year’s blessings as they celebrate the incoming year.

The Story the Little Christmas Tree Told is a story of gifts of love, a little pine tree and the birth of Jesus.  Through the sales of this book I can give a gift of love to Lisa.  Following the sales of the first printing, a portion of the proceeds was donated to Lisa’s ministry.  Lisa wrote me from Jamaica.  “I just love that the donation was from the sale of your children’s book.  That makes it even more special to me because of my work with children and because of all of the basic needs of the kids around here.  The money will be used to meet some of those basic needs.  Every day there are opportunities and this will enable us to assist families who truly live day to day.”

Gifts of love know no season.