In Which Phyllis Bestows Prizes For Her Birthday Bonanza Winners!

Although it is neither George Washington’s nor Abraham Lincoln’s birthday today, we are nonetheless celebrating President’s Day.

I’m sure this makes sense to someone.

Possibly the person who thought up the plan to celebrate the birthdays of two presidents on a day that was no one’s birthday.

We don’t care though, because around here we’re just always glad of an excuse for a day off from school and/or work, and also of an excuse for cake!

Because I think George and Abe would like us to have some cake in their honor, don’t you?  Phyllis picked this one, very Abe and George!

[okay, so my internet is being very persnickety and won’t upload a photo tonight, so imagine, if you will, a luscious lemon layer cake with blueberry lavender buttercream icing in a vivid shade of purple that would definitely be right up George and Abe’s alley – and if you follow the link below you can see it!  Phyllis and I are thinking Spring!]

Lemon Layer Cake with Blueberry Lavender Buttercream

Go ahead!  Dig in!

It is not Phyllis’s birthday either, although she is hoping that when she becomes President her birthday, which is also not on this day, will be included with George’s and Abe’s.  Phyllis feels that a little marmot in the White House would be a good thing, and I can’t disagree 🙂

So even though it is no one’s birthday today, we are having cake and celebrating the selection of the prize winners from Phyllis’s Birthday Bonanza!

Are you ready?

Let me start by saying that it was not easy to choose winners.

For starters, all the entries were amazing and marvelous and enrapturing.  In addition, Phyllis felt strongly that all 19 should receive 1st Prize.

“You can’t give 19 people first prize,” I said.

“Maybe YOU can’t,” said Phyllis, “but I can!”

“No, what I mean is that if you make a 19-way tie for first place then it’s like no one won!”

“No, it’s like 19 people won.”

“19 people can’t win!”

“Yes they CAN!”

“No they CAN’T!”

“I say they can and I’m giving them all the Punxsutawney Phyllis Pancake of Awesomeness!”

“Oh, well who wouldn’t want to win a Pancake of Awesomeness?!”

“No one,” said Phyllis smugly.  “That’s why it’s the perfect prize.”

Therefore let it be known on this 16th Day of February 2015 (which is not anyone’s birthday) that Julie A, Karen, Sarah C, Jilanne, Kathy, Stacy, Catherine, Julie R-Z, Wendy, Michelle, Heather, Erik & Josie, Donna, the Hoeft Family, Linda, Vivian, Suzy, Robyn, Sarah M, and Christie all get a pancake from Phyllis.

I’m not really sure what to say about that.

I hope you like it?!

“Now that we’ve got that pancake business out of the way,” I said to Phyllis, “who were really your favorites?  There must have been some among that talented pack that really stood out to you.”

“Well, now that you mention it,” said Phyllis, “there were a few!”

So, without further ado, here are Phyllis’s selections for top placement in her Birthday Bonanza!  She is uncomfortable labeling them 1st, 2nd, etc. because she loved them all so much!

The Hoeft Family – for their beautifully written, illustrated, performed, and videoed Happy Birthday Wish.

Stacy – for her amazing quilling which Phyllis had never heard of before but thinks made her look beautiful and also was fabulously videoed.

Robyn – because Mr. Ed said, “you mean the world to me Phyll” in such an endearing way and had a whole Phyllis wall of wonder in his stall – what’s not to love about a video with a horse in it?!

Julie A – for her amazing poem that included not only Phyllis but all her literary brothers and sisters… and trains and airplanes.

Erik & Josie – for their awesome video which included singing AND costumes and was just an all-out funkadellic performance – and Phyllis wants it to be known that she is Super Funky!

So Bekah, Stacy, Robyn, Julie A, and Erik & Josie, please Email Me to sort out your prizes.

Up for grabs are:

 – a generously donated signed copy of SUBSTITUTE GROUNDHOG by Pat Miller along with an audio recording!

 – a signed copy of PUNXSUTAWNEY PHYLLIS (should there happen to be anyone among you who wants one and doesn’t already have one)

 – any picture book of your choice (recent titles I have enjoyed and would recommend include Blue On Blue, The Most Magnificent Thing, and Gaston.)

 – any MG or YA book of your choice should you happen to be a winner who would find something more at your reading and interest level more to your liking 🙂

Congratulations to all our entrants!  You all did such a wonderful job, and Phyllis and I enjoyed your efforts SO MUCH!!!  Thank you ALL for making Phyllis’s birthday and 10th Anniversary SO MUCH FUN!!!

Have a marvelous Monday, everyone!  And those of you who have the day off – celebrate like no one’s watching! 🙂

Punxsutawney Phyllis’s 10th Anniversary Birthday Bonanza!!!


It’s Groundhog Day!

And you know what that means, right?

First of all, it means we have an announcement to make!

And that is that Punxsutawney Phyllis, Sage of Sages, Seer of Seers, Prognosticator of Prognosticators, and Weather Prophet Extraordinaire did set forth from her burrow on Blueberry Hill this Monday February 2, 2015 at 7:25 AM and declare, “Six more weeks of winter!”

Obviously with the howling winds and heavy, blowing snow there was no possibility of seeing her shadow, but Phyllis’s weather sense (possibly motivated by her desire to get right back in the burrow!) saw no signs of an early spring.  We are disappointed because we are tired of winter, but we are eating strawberries to make us think of warm summer days 🙂

Second, that means it’s my little Phyllis’s 10th Anniversary Birthday Bonanza!!!

illustration copyright Jeff Ebbeler 2005

“We’re having a party!  We’re having a party!” [That’s Phyllis.  She’s a little excited.]  “We need CAKE!!!” [She’s a girl after my own heart :)]

I said, “How about cupcakes?”

Phyllis said, “Something BIGGER!”

So I said, “How about this?”

Phyllis said, “But there’s no ICING!”

So we settled on this:

and in case you are wondering, those little brown things are
groundhog graham crackers… which makes this a Groundhog Day Cake 🙂

“Now we need festive balloons!” said Phyllis.

“Here!” said I.

 “You’re kidding, of course,” said Phyllis.

“What?  It’s blue!  It’s pretty!”

“It’s only ONE!” said Phyllis.  “ONE is not festive!”

“Fine,” I said, ever accommodating.

“I’m going to pretend I didn’t see that,” said Phyllis.  “Otherwise I might regurgitate my recently ingested natal day pancakes.  What do the words GROUNDHOG and BIRTHDAY mean to you?”

“You’re being just a tad demanding, Phyllis,” I said patiently.  “But I’ll humor you.  Will these do?”

“At last!” said Phyllis.  “And now, for the most important part…  my POEM!”

“Uh, yeah, about that… I’m not quite done yet.”


“I want it to be perfect,” I explained.  “After all, it’s for you.  It can’t be just any old thrown together thing!”

“That’s true,” agreed Phyllis.

“But I’ve got to finish it quick.  Everyone’s going to be here soon.”

“Also true,” said Phyllis.

“So it would be helpful,” I said pointedly, “if you would be quiet and let me concentrate.”

“Okay,” whispered Phyllis.

I tapped my pen against the table top.


I wrote across the top of the paper.

“Good start!” said Phyllis.

“Thank you.”

I tapped some more.

There once was a groundhog named Phyllis

“Stop,” said Phyllis.

“What do you mean, stop?”

“Nothing rhymes with Phyllis.  Believe me.  I know.  That’s a nonstarter.”

“How about There once was a groundhog named Phyllis/Who made so much noise that her poem will never get written?

“That doesn’t rhyme,” sniffed Phyllis.  But she stopped talking.

tap tap tap tap tap

In the hollow of old Punxsutawney
Lived Phyllis, whose fur was so . . .

“STOP!” said Phyllis.

“What now?”

“What is it with you and these impossible words?  NOTHING rhymes with Punxsutawney!  You’re supposed to be writing me a poem!  Poems are supposed to RHYME!”

“For your information, Miss Smarty Pants, I was going to say ‘whose fur was so tawny‘, but forget it.”

“Yeah, well, that’s pretty much cheating.  Punxsutawney and tawny – it’s practically rhyming the same word with itself.”

“Aren’t you supposed to be outside looking for your shadow or something?”

“It’s too early,” said Phyllis comfortably, helping herself to a strawberry.

I sighed.

tap tap tap tap tap tap tap

Oh, Phyllis, you forecasting marmot

“Er.  Ahem.  I don’t mean to interrupt, but seriously, marmot?  Where can you possibly go with that?”

“Harm it?!” I suggested.

“No…” said Phyllis, oblivious.  “I don’t think so.  And I don’t think you’re quite getting the sense of an ode.  You’re supposed to be praising me.  You have to set the mood.”

“I’ll set a mood all right.”

Phyllis ignored me and gazed out the window.  “Maybe something like:

Phyllis, your fur is so fine
Your eyes sparkle like finest wine…”

Hacksputtercough! I’m sorry.  I just had to gag a little there.”

“It’s better than yours!”

“How do you know?  You won’t let me get past the first line!”

“Here’s what we’ll do,” said Phyllis.  “I’LL write a poem and YOU write a poem and then we’ll see whose is better.”

“You’re going to write an ode to yourself?”

“Who better?  I know me and love me well!”



tap tap tap tap tap tap tap

“Stop tapping your pen!”

“Stop talking!”


*     *     *     *     *     denotes passage of time     *     *     *     *     *

“I’ve got one,” said Phyllis.  She cleared her throat and read,

Roses are red
Violets are blue
I can write poems
Way better than you!

“Well in that case,” I shot back,

Two poems diverged in a snowy wood
And I,
I chose the better one…
Which was not yours!

“Hmm…” Phyllis said primly.  “I don’t think we’re there yet.  Ready, set, write another one!”

*     *     *     *     *     denotes passage of time     *     *     *     *     *

“How about this?” said Phyllis.
so much depends
a brown groundhog
seeking shadows
beside a green
pine tree
“Hey, that’s not bad!” I said.
“Let’s hear yours,” said Phyllis.
Phyllis is the thing without feathers (I began)
“What kind of thing is that to say?” demanded Phyllis.  “I’m a groundhog!  Of COURSE I don’t have FEATHERS!”
“You’re interrupting!” I grumped.  “Are you going to let me read it or not?”
“Fine.  Read. But I don’t think there’s much hope for this one.”  She snickered.
I glared, and started again:
Phyllis is the thing without feathers
That perches in the burrow
And searches the air with her nose
for signs of spring.
Phyllis patted my hand.  “It’s okay that you’re not very good at this.  You’re trying.  That’s what’s important.”  She stuffed a strawberry in my mouth.  “Let’s keep practicing.  Maybe you’ll get better.”
*     *     *     *     *     denotes passage of time     *     *     *     *     *

“Done!” I said.

“I was done first three times in a row,” said Phyllis.  “That means you have to read first.”

Really, it is hard to follow groundhog logic.  Actually, groundhog logic is probably an oxymoron.

I sighed.  “Okay.  But let me read the whole thing.  Don’t interrupt.”

“I would never do that,” said Phyllis sweetly.  She sat up on her haunches and prepared to listen attentively.

by Susanna

Beauty, wit, charm, grace
Fuzzy little marmot face
Unsurpassed intelligence
Never-equaled weather sense
Even though you’re not a boy
You’re Punxsutawney’s pride and joy
My furry friend, you know it’s true
There’s no one else on earth like you!

Phyllis jumped in my lap and gave me a hug.  “See?  I KNEW you could do it!  Now I’ll read mine.”

by Phyllis

Lavender’s blue dilly dilly lavender’s green
It’s really true dilly dilly I should be queen
Lavender’s green dilly dilly lavender’s blue
I’m a Punxsutawney dream-come-true.

“Ye-ah…,” I said.  “You should have quit while you were ahead.”

“Yeah, probably,” said Phyllis.  “But never mind.  Happy birthday to me!”

Happy Birthday, dear Phyllis,
Happy Birthday to you!!!

And now, Phyllis and I are looking forward with GREAT anticipation to reading YOUR poems for Phyllis, and hopefully seeing some videos too (no pressure, Erik) since we totally failed on that score!

If you wrote a poem for Phyllis, and/or have photographs, drawings, videos, or other fun feature accompaniments, please add your post-specific blog link to the list below, or post your poem etc in the comments, or Email it to me and I’ll post it for you so that we can all enjoy everyone’s creativity!

Maybe Phyllis and I will pick some top finishers, or maybe we’ll have a vote later in the week, but either way, some people will win a signed copy of PUNXSUTAWNEY PHYLLIS (if there’s anyone left on earth who doesn’t already have one or who wants another for someone), a signed copy of Pat Miller’s wonderful SUBSTITUTE GROUNDHOG along with audio CD!, and there will be some other non-groundhog-day-related picture books up for grabs too.

Happy Groundhog Day to everyone!  May spring come early in your hearts, even if the weather outside fails to comply! 🙂

Have a marvelous Monday! 🙂

And please don’t miss Julie’s amazing and clever poem in the comments! HERE
And Karen’s delightful poem HERE
And Sarah’s wonderful ode HERE
And Jilanne’s terrific limerick HERE