The Joys of Being a Parent AND a Writer


Writing while parenting small children is hard.

Honestly? Simpler tasks that require no creativity, like showering, are hard.

Sometimes I catch myself focusing on the negatives of the journey- the sleepless nights, my disaster area of a living room, another diaper going through the wash, the day’s plans out the window because someone’s sick again.

The joy gets buried in the details.

Not today.

Today, I’d like to share some of the joys I’ve found in the balancing act of being a writing parent.

1. Treasuring Time

“I’m so busy!” I thought, back when I was single and childless.

Oh, if only I’d known the truth….

Granted, during those days when I ran on actual sleep vs. coffee, I bounced endlessly between teaching, music, volunteering and everything else.  My schedule was full to overflowing.

This is the difference between then and now: I had control over my level of busyness.

When I didn’t get something done, (barring emergencies) it was because I chose to make something else a priority.

Once there was a baby on the scene, that semblance of control evaporated.

Oh, she was cute, a joy and a blessing that we treasured.

I just wasn’t mentally prepared for the fact that newborns eat every two hours.


And between feedings are the diapers… and the housework…and maybe we should try to sleep…

I won’t go through the whole ‘learning to parent without going insane’ journey, but a journey it was, and it taught me a valuable lesson.

I learned to use my time.

Time with my baby was precious, and I wouldn’t give up those hours for anything.

However, when a spare minute materialized- she’s asleep! And I’m not holding her!- I learned to seize it and make it count. (Of course, then we went and had two more babies…worth it. 🙂 )

Those spare minutes gave me the title for my blog. I rekindled my passion for the written word during those stolen moments- moments that might have slipped by me if caring for my children hadn’t reminded me just how important and valuable they are.

2. Ideas, Ideas, Ideas!

On dull, gray, uncreative days, all I have to do is listen to my children play.

Elaborate plots and adventures full of twists and turns fill our living room, and I’m reminded of the excitement of story.

I’ve written before about the stories the kids and I create each year for Father’s Day. While I am the one who keeps some semblance of a plot,  they’re the ones that keep the storytelling fun.

They keep me generating ideas and telling stories in another way too. I’ve found that one of the easiest means to stop sibling spats starts with the words, “Once upon a time…”


Scan_20171031 (2)
Part of the story my eldest and I made up to help her learn her Kindergarten sight words.

3. Reduced Risk of Over-Exposure to the Computer

There are all sorts of health risks associated with spending too much time on the computer.

Go ahead and take a moment to look them up on your favorite search engine if you don’t believe me.  I’ll wait.


Ok, now that you’ve done my research FOR me (clever, huh?) I can tell you that being a writer who’s also a mom, my risk of all of those maladies is seriously reduced.

After all, the littles only let me stay online so long, and I’m a firm believer in the need for children to get outside and to make a mess somewhere that’s not in my house.

I’m forced to leave the screen behind, to play or move or find a new park for us to explore and get some exercise.

Parenting ALSO gives me the added bonus that I have a three year old chaperone to ‘force’ me to try out the swings and slides at the playground.

Breaking away from the screen for adventures rests, refreshes, and sometimes provides needed inspiration!

4. The Built-In Fan Club

My kids haven’t read any of the novel I’m querying, or any stories that I’ve written except for the Creative Writing pieces my class ‘published’ in 7th grade. (My grammar, at least, has improved a bit since then.)

Still, my eldest doesn’t miss much, and she was very aware of when I entered my novel in a contest in the fall of 2016. She watched me checking my e-mails, and occasionally, out of the blue, she’d tell me, “I hope you win!”

When I didn’t, and she found out, she was upset, even angry, for my sake.

It was a great teaching moment

We talked about how yes, I lost, but it was ok. I’d gotten feedback, and would make my story better. Someone else had just done a better job and won. (Modelling gracious loosing for my little girl was good for me too- it kept me from the temptation to wallow!)

She’s seen me keep at it, and, unknowingly, gave me some of the best encouragement the other day.

“Mommy, I’ve finally decided what I want to be when I grow up.”

“Really?” I quelled the temptation to tell her that, at 7, she’s not really running behind on this decision. “What are you going to be?”

“A teacher, AND an author.”

“Wow. Those sound like great choices.”


Yes, writing while parenting small children is hard some days, but then, most good things are.

There are many other joys, but I’ve rambled enough! Do you have any to add? 

Many thanks for visiting!





Cary Grant and WW2 on the Silver Screen

Going to the movie theater is a rare event in my household.

My husband and I have to get awfully excited about a film to go to the trouble of finding babysitting and paying for an evening out.  Most of the time we decide it’s not worth it. Consequently, the last ‘recent’ movie I saw was My Little Pony: The Movie. (Rented for the kids. Really.)

While I may be slow to give new films a try, when I get a chance to view a classic film it’s a different story.

There’s just something about movies that employ stunt people instead of CGI, and that have to rely on their actors’ abilities rather than prettily digitized backdrops. I’m amazed at how a silent film like The Big Parade can portray the raw fear and anger and unbearable tensions of war without the luxury of dialog.

Of course, not all old all war films are serious.

Take, for instance, the World War 2 stories portrayed by Cary Grant.

Cary Grant was born in 1904 as Archie Leach of Bristol. He came to the U.S. at sixteen as part of a travelling comedy troupe. He remained in the States, broke into Hollywood with the help of contemporaries like Mae West, and eventually became a citizen.

Grant did not serve as a soldier in World War 2,*  but he did act the part in several films. In fact, his Operation Petticoat made the highest box-office earnings in his career.

In Operation Petticoat, Grant plays Lt. Cmdr. Matt T Sherman. His brand new submarine, the USS Sea Tiger is, unfortunately, docked in the Philippines on Dec 10, 1941. She is sunk before she can ever sail.

Unwilling to allow his boat to be scrapped, Sherman and his ingeniously corrupt supply officer (Curtis) make enough repairs to get the Sea Tiger underway. They hope to make it to a safe shipyard in Australia to complete repairs.

Enroute they are forced to take a group of five stranded U.S. Army nurses on board. With the women crammed into the close quarters of the sub things go…about how you’d expect. However, the film is from 1959, and in spite of some romantic entanglements and awkward situations, things stay fairly tame. 🙂

If you’re looking for strict historical accuracy Operation Petticoat isn’t your best bet, but if you are willing to overlook a few small anachronisms, you may find that a bad paint job, an embarrassing tattoo, a torpedoed truck and creative uses for feminine garments all come together to make an entertaining, if very silly, film.

While Operation Petticoat was Cary Grant’s most monetarily successful film, I personally prefer one of his other visits to the Pacific Theater.


World-weary alcoholic Walter Eckland (Grant) wants nothing more than to sail away alone on his private boat. However, when he runs into a British officer of his acquaintance, he is ‘persuaded’ (as in, ‘forced by the deliberate sinking of his ship’) to stay on a small island, radioing reports on Japanese planes .

In an attempt to get someone to take his place and regain his freedom, Eckland inadvertently ends up rescuing a teacher (Leslie Caron) and the seven little girls in her charge.

While the romance that develops between Grant and Caron is a little odd, they work well together and the interactions with the child actors and the humor in this movie make it another silly, but enjoyable, piece of almost-sort-of-kinda-historical entertainment.

As an interesting side note, both films share more than a leading man. According to they also share the same stock footage of a submarine. Ah well, waste not…

So, readers, do you have any favorites that could fall into the ‘classic film’ category? Whether they involve Cary Grant, World War 2, or neither, I’m always interested in recommendations 🙂

Thanks for visiting!


*While Cary Grant did not serve in the military, according to he gave all of his fee from his 1940 film The Philadelphia Story to the British War effort, and his salary from 1944’s Arsenic and Old Lace to the U.S. War Relief Fund.


December 1941: The United States Enters the Second World War

Welcome to another installment of World War 2 history!

Last time I wrote about Hitler’s surprise attack on the USSR, and how it drew Stalin into the war on the Allied side.

The United States was still technically neutral as 1941 drew to a close. After all, they had their President’s promise.

“I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.”

Franklin Delono Roosevelt’s Campaign address in Boston, Mass, October 30, 1940

See the source image
C’mon folks, is this a face that would lie?

In December of 1941, the United States still clung to FDR’s promise, to the hope that somehow they could stay out of the ’emergency’ over in Europe.

The people of the US were still recovering from the Great Depression. Memories of the horrors of the First World War lingered. Buffered by distance and the sheltering arms of two oceans, it seemed only sensible to let the rest of the world sort out its own problems.

Of course, there were those who disagreed.

Individuals, such as Bill Ash joined the conflict on their own. Various groups sent supplies to aid Great Britain and the USSR. The U.S. government wasn’t exactly neutral either.

The Lend-Lease Act, passed in March of 1941, allowed supplies and military aid such as weapons and vehicles to be sent overseas (without compensation) to nations deemed “vital to the defense of the United States.” Beneficiaries included Great Britain, the USSR, China and Turkey.

Side note: FDR justified the plan by comparing it to lending a neighbor a ladder if his house was on fire- after all, you wouldn’t charge him! Senator Robert Taft noted that the act would also “give the President power to carry on a kind of undeclared war all over the world, in which America would do everything except actually put soldiers in the front-line trenches where the fighting is.”

Still, the American people, by and large, felt that their homeland was safe. Their news sources boasted that their Navy was the strongest in the world, and didn’t shy away from printing lists of all of the transfers of military personnel, and glowing, detailed descriptions of new military advancements.

See the source image
Read all about it! The handy guide to the new US dive-bombers and where you can find them!

Most of the news reports of the day focused on the Atlantic and the struggles in Europe. Japan seemed far distant- certainly not a dire threat to US security!

However, on December 5, 1941 the US and Japan were embroiled in neverending negotioations. Both sides said that they wished to stay at peace, though The US had been at odds with Japan since their invasion of China, had put embargoes in place, and was deeply concerned over troops massing in the area of Indochina.  The Japanese spokesmen insisted that they “desired no precipitate action”  and one, Nomura, insisted, “(A)s far as we are concerned, we are always willing to talk- after all, we are a friendly nation.” (Shirley 96)

In spite of these reassuring words, Japanese nationals were rapidly leaving the US and surrounding countries, and sailing back home.

FDR attempted to contact Emperor Hirohito directly on Saturday December 6th.

“I address myself to Your Majesty at this moment in the fervent hope that Your Majesty may, as I am doing, give thought in this definite emergency to ways of dispelling the dark clouds. I am confident that both of us, for the sake of the peoples not only of our own great countries but for the sake of humanity in neighboring territories, have a sacred duty to restore traditional amity and prevent further death and destruction in the world.” (Shirley 132)

It is uncertain whether the Emperor ever saw the telegram. In any case, it was too late.

[Pearl Harbor naval base and U.S.S. Shaw ablaze after the Japanese attack]
Image courtesy of the US Library of Congress
Sunday, December 7th, at 7:55 am, the Japanese launched their surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, without a declaration of war.

More than 2300 Americans were killed.

12 ships were sunk or beached, including the U.S.S. Arizona (destroyed) and the U.S.S. Oklahoma (capsized.) Nine other ships were damaged.

160 aircraft were destroyed, 150 damaged.

The damage wasn’t limited to the States. Japanese forces also attacked Guam, the Phillipines, Wake Island and Midway Island.

The citizens of the United States were shocked. Outraged. Unified. Galvanized.

On that morning, everything changed.

If you have eight minutes, President Roosevelt’s request for a declaration of war- the famous ‘day that will live in infamy’ speech- is worth a listen.


Thank you for visiting!



There are many, MANY excellent sources on this topic, which include more detail than I’ve provided in my little article.

My primary reading was from Craig Shirley’s December 1941: 31 Days that Changed America and Saved the World. Mr. Shirley goes through the month of December day by day, giving information as compiled from magazines and newspapers of the day. While it made slightly repetitive reading, it would be an invaluable resource for anyone writing fiction in this era. Mr. Shirley covers everything from the war to Hollywood to fashions and politics.

December 1941: The Month That Changed America And Saved The World

If you are looking for information online, here are a couple of resources:

General info:

USS Arizona memorial:

History blogs:


Also, if you are interested in my previous articles on World War 2, here are links to:

The Fall of France, The Battle of Britain, The Blitz,  North Africa and the Balkans, and North Africa Part 2






When World War 2 and Legos Meet

Greetings writers, readers, and history fans!

As I’m keeping occupied this week chasing after…ahem, I mean substitute teaching for…Kindergarteners, this entry will be brief.

I couldn’t resist sharing a little picture I call “Gifts You Receive When People Realize That You’re Interested in World War 2 History.”

WW2 legos

The Axis forces have the high ground, but never fear, Captain America and the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl are on the way!*

*This MAY not be entirely historically accurate.

Many thanks for visiting and I’ll see you next time for a bit of non-Lego history 🙂

Writing Microfiction: The Sometimes Stellar Storyteller Six Word Story Challenge

I won a writing contest today!Six word story, 6 word story, writing challenge, writing promptI had never attempted writing microfiction before this year, but when I started looking around for other writing blogs on WordPress, I found Nicola Auckland’s “Sometimes Stellar Storyteller Six Word Story Challenge.”

A one-word prompt is uploaded to the site every Saturday. The challenge is self-explanatory. Write a story, based on the prompt, using only six words.

Yep. Six words.

The challenge page includes a link on ‘How to write the best Six Word Stories,’ which gives the author’s rationale for the six word story, as well as some helpful tips.

Anyone can enter, and the contest is ‘just for fun,’ but the winner DOES get to post the fabulous picture above on their blog!

While I don’t imagine microfiction will ever be my go-to writing style, I’ve found the contest to be a fun exercise which forces me to be concise.

As to my award-winning story 😉 , this week’s prompt was COMPLICATED.


My story entry was : No! Cut yellow wire, THEN red!


Just think, you can now say you read an entire story today, in about two seconds!

For more information, visit About the Six Word Story Challenge.

Writers- do you have other contests or sites that provide writing ideas that you’d recommend?

Many thanks for visiting!


Exploring the Naval Undersea Museum

A trip into Washington State’s Olympic peninsula offers opportunities for adventure. From temperate rainforests to snowy mountain peaks to ocean beaches, and from herds of elk to the occasional trespassing mountain goat, the nature-lover doesn’t lack for options.

Of course, most of these options aren’t particularly accessible to those who visit during Washington’s long, gray, chilly, rainy season. (The natives call the rain ‘liquid sunshine.’ I don’t buy it.)

It’s especially tricky for those of us with small children, SO, the Clare brood went looking for somewhere indoors to explore.

The kids kept looking for the rest of the sub over to the left. It took some repeating to convince them that we weren’t actually GOING underwater.

The Naval Undersea Museum is located just past the signs for Keyport, Washington.

It met our criteria for an adventure: indoors, kid-friendly, and free. (The last is essential. Nothing’s worse than an outing that has to last long enough to be ‘worth it.’ Inevitably, someone will melt down, vomit, and/or soak their clothes with something.)

On top of these basic requirements, the exhibits were fascinating.

The museum begins in the parking lot.


The Trieste II

The Trieste II may look good-sized, but do you see the bit of the sphere showing between the two ‘legs’ to the left? That sphere housed the entire crew of two.

Talk about close quarters- I hope they got along well!

Trieste II was the U.S. Navy’s first deep-submergence vehicle. Its deepest dive was 20,236 feet in 1977 in the Cayman Trough south of Cuba.

The deep submergence rescue vehicle (DSRV) Mystic was our next stop.

After all hands were lost in the 1963 sinking of the USS Thresher, the Navy took a long, hard look at their underwater rescue operations, and found them wanting.

Thresher and its counterpart Avalon were built to take on this complicated task. While they ran many successful test trials, mercifully, they never had to be used.

Naturally, once we made our way inside I had to check out the World War 2 exhibit.


The display memorialized all of the U.S. submarines that contributed to Allied victory, highlighting in red the 52 that didn’t make it home.

It also included a display of some of the sub-tech of the 40’s…


…and “battle flags” from the era.


Sorry that it’s a bit blurred. The kids didn’t find this section quite as interesting as I did. Moving on…

Wasn’t he in ‘Forbidden Planet’ ?

We all enjoyed learning about the Navy’s training of marine mammals. I found it particularly fascinating to see how dolphins have been trained to find and mark old, unexploded mines so that they can be disposed of safely. (I was also pleased to see how carefully the handlers provided for the safety of the animals.)

Of course, the kids love exhibits that they are allowed to touch. The museum’s rebuilt control room of the USS Greenling was their favorite part. (And yes, of course, I checked out the periscopes and all of the knobs and buttons too!)

Again, I was really the only one interested in the American Civil War era ‘frame torpedo’…

“C’mon guys…hold on so I can get the shot…ack!”


…but they could have spent all day with the interactive displays on water pressure and buoyancy.

There were other exhibits, but the littles were about done.

Our last stop was a sobering one.



They were quiet for a moment, looking at the artifacts from the sunken sub. Enough of their little friends have dads serving under the waves that the Thresher display, simple as it was, made an impression.


The little ones have found me, so in closing I’ll ask then what they liked best about our museum visit.

Child 1: “I liked the periscopes, and the little screens and the things where you can push buttons and the spinny things, and the periscoes.”

Child 2: “They’re called periscopes.”

Child 1: “No, periscoes…”

Child 2: “PeriSCOPES!”

The conversation is still going on, so I’ll sign off for today.

For those of you still in the inhospitable grip of winter cold or rain, I hope you find your own interesting indoor adventures!

Thanks, as always, for visiting.

For more information:



Gimme Some Agape, Baby!

candy hearts

Why yes, my Valentine’s Day post is about love!

After all, ’tis the season for love- at least according to all of the florists and chocolatiers.

‘Love’ seems to become very tangible on February 14th. It comes cloaked in gifts and meals, in little cards or wide-eyed stuffed animals.

During the rest of the year ‘love’ becomes more vague- harder to pin down. The word is amorphous enough to apply to the man I’m spending my life with, and also to my favorite purple sneakers.

I do love my native tongue, but I find it interesting how much more clearly ‘love’ is described in other languages.

No, I can’t claim to be multi-lingual. I wish I could. I made it through my two years of Latin and Spanish, but unfortunately I’ve lost so much that I might be able to carry on a conversation with a very quiet three-year-old, provided she wanted to talk about ‘queso’ and practice counting. However, I’m a pastor’s kid, and a smattering of Biblical Greek stuck, in particular some of the various words detailing (you guessed it!) types of love.

Ancient Greek had numerous specific words that all translate to ‘love’ in English. A couple of them are easy to recognize.

For instance, “eros” is the root for ‘erotic.’ Need I say more?

Philadelphia gets its name from the Greek word “philos”, and its nickname is based on the meaning: the City of Brotherly Love. (Just don’t look up the crime rates…or so I’ve heard.)

The third is trickier: “agape.” (Ah-gah-pay, rather than the ‘opened mouth’ pronunciation. I once saw a dentist office called “Agape Dental.” I wonder which pronunciation they were going for?)

Agape love is the love of self-sacrifice. It is love that gives, regardless of whether the object of the love is deserving. It’s love in action. (Going back to my first encounter with the word, it’s used consistently in the New Testament to describe the relationship between God and humankind.)

While the other types of love can be invaluable in stories, including some ‘agape’ can deepen and strengthen the relationships between characters. When they show unselfish love- love that gives rather than takes- it’s so outside the realm of the typical that, when written well, it’s unforgettable.

After all, to take a few examples from varied genres, Sam didn’t have to accompany Frodo into Mordor. Mr. Darcy didn’t stand to gain by secretly aiding the family of a girl who’d as good as spit in his face. Atticus Finch wasn’t forced to risk his reputation and family’s safety to defend an innocent man.

They chose to do it anyway, and those stories hold a place of honor as some of my favorites.

In real life, I think of the nights when my husband, weary from another overtime shift, rejoins the family to be pulled in three different directions by our children. I can tell that he’s longing for quiet, but he puts it aside. He talks to them, plays with them, listens to their exploits. I think of the nights when he sees the crazy in my eyes, and he sends me away for alone time in his place.

That’s love that doesn’t fit into a chocolate box.


Do you have any stories of love in action, in self-sacrifice, that you’d like to recommend? I always love new books to read!

Thanks for visiting!

BONUS: Fellas, if you’re celebrating today but can’t figure out what she really wants, Tim Hawkins has the answer. 🙂








The Perks of Rejection Letters


I have twenty more days.

Twenty days until the month ends. Twenty days until I send out my next round of queries in an attempt to induce an agent to represent my novel.

Twenty more days with no rejection letters in my in-box.

So far, I’ve amassed 13 rejections. Some agents simply didn’t respond to my queries. Others sent out polite form letters, or more personalized notes.

My favorite started out with, “Your writing has merit, but…” It felt like receiving that yellow ‘Participation’ ribbon at track-and-field day – nice of them to offer it, but not something that you’re going to hang on your bulletin board. 

In the grand scheme of querying, 13 isn’t a huge number of rejections. Stories abound of famous authors who had to struggle to get their work on shelves- authors like Dr. Seuss, Stephen King, Kate DiCamillo, and J.K. Rowling.

It’s easy to tell myself that this is all a normal part of the process, but diving back in still leaves me with a queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. 

Rather than wallow in nerves, today I’m focusing on the positives! The following are five unexpected benefits I’ve gained from the process of querying and rejection. 

1. No more hiding!

Am I the only one who feels a little goofy admitting that I’m writing- seriously writing? (From the comments of other writers online, I’m guessing the answer is no.)

It took me months to admit to anyone that I was attempting to write a novel. It took even longer for me to allow anyone else to see it.

Creativity is personal. Sharing it leaves you vulnerable. I don’t like vulnerable.

It’s hard to admit that I’m going through this process, that I have the gall to call myself a writer. It’s even harder to admit that I might completely fall on my proverbial backside.

I might fail to sell my novel to an agent. And, as I’ve decided to record this online, I can’t even keep it a secret if I do!


However, now that I’ve been querying, now that I’ve had to refine and define my ideas for strangers to judge, I’ve found that I’m much more comfortable sharing with the people who actually care about me.

I suppose it’s better to break through that barrier now, rather than just showing up one day with my finished product.

2. Skin-Thickening

I’ve failed at many, many things. Most of my failures had to do with ‘character building’ through school sports. I’m about as coordinated as an inebriated gerbil. And the gerbil would still probably have a better throwing arm…

As an adult, I have the power to choose to play to my strengths. I can stay in my comfort zone. I can do things where I’m almost guaranteed sucess.

It’s been a little hard to throw my heart-felt words out to someone I don’t know. (Ha! ‘A little hard’- that’s my Minnesota background talking. Like, when it gets down to 0 degrees, it’s ‘a little chilly.’)

If I wanted to give professional publishing a go, I had to get over it. Deal with rejection. Prepare myself for bring raked over the coals of critique.

It’s time to toughen up- better now than at the first bad review.

3. Confidence in my work

Here’s my process.

-I send out a query.

-I check e-mail compulsively.

-When the rejection comes, either in written form or in echoing silence, I attack my manuscript.

I’ve gone over and over the thing until my eyes blur, and I’ve come to one conclusion.

I like my book.

In spite of rejections, I still want this book to become. Reviewing and editing it so many times has made my confidence grow.

Growing confidence pushes me to put in the time and effort to make it happen.

4. Professionalism

I haven’t had to go to a job interview since…college? I had my degree to prove that I was a professional teacher, and I knew the rules of that profession.

The rules of the publishing world- not so much.

The querying proecess forced me to read up on publishing, on agents, on writing, oh, on so many things. Many of the agents I’ve approached include tips on their sites, cluing in prospective clients on common writing and querying mistakes.

I’ve had to learn what it takes to be a professional in this industry, in hopes of convincing professionals that they want to work with me.

Whether traditional publishing works out for me or not, I’ve got a better grasp of what I’m in for when I finally get that novel in a (fabulous looking!) cover.

5. This blog happened.

“What’s your platform?” “Who will read your book?” “What’s your sphere of influence?” (Does that last one make anyone else think Cold War? No?)

I probably wouldn’t have started consitently blogging without having to answer questions like these on query forms.

No, I didn’t start this blog thinking, “I need to find people who will read my book!” It did seem like agents expected me to be doing something on social media, though, and of the options, blogging seemed the most interesting.

I didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I have! Connecting with other writers and learning from them, reading about other people’s insights on history, enjoying stories and poems and fantastic cat pictures- all of these things have changed blogging from something “I guess I should do,” to a pleasure. (Thanks to all of you fellow bloggers and kind commenters!)

As I edit my query letter for the hundreth time (I’m not even sure that’s hyperbole anymore!) and recheck my lists of agents, I’ll try to keep it positive. If you’re in the same boat, I hope you can too!

Maybe this round will include an e-mail that isn’t a rejection. 

Whew, that would be a whole NEW level of scary…



What benefits have you recieved from rejections and delays?

Thanks for visiting!







War and Pieces…of Chocolate

D ration chocolate bar.jpg
Credit: US Army Historical Society

When my sweet tooth kicks in, there’s nothing quite like a piece of good, creamy chocolate. I try to convince myself that it’s not that unhealthy. After all, it has antioxidants! And it’s made from beans- it’s basically a salad!

If I’m honest, though, it’s all about the taste. Who would want a bad-tasting chocolate bar?

With war looming on the horizon in 1937, that’s exactly what Captain Paul Logan wanted the Hershey company to create.

Although the US wouldn’t officially enter the Second World War until 1941, the unrest in the world spurred the office of the US Army Quartermaster General into preparation. They wanted a small, light, high-energy, emergency ration.

What could be better than a chocolate bar?

A traditional Hershey bar wouldn’t do. Standard chocolate’s low melting point wouldn’t withstand a soldier’s pocket, and its taste might tempt him to eat the treat before it was strictly necessary.

Logan asked the chemists at Hershey to come up with a bar that weighted 4 oz, was rich in nutrients and energy, and tasted about as good as a boiled potato.

Chemist Sam Hinkle rose to the task. The D Ration bar included oat flour and vitamins, reduced sugar and increased cocoa. It weighed in at 600 calories and had a consistency that could shatter teeth.


Traditional chocolate processing wouldn’t work for this thick, viscous product. The original batches had to be pressed into molds by hand. As war became more imminent, the Hershey company had to come up with specialized automation processes.

Troop reviews on the chocolate bars were mixed. Some sources record troops calling the bars “Hitler’s Secret Weapon.” Others say it wasn’t too bad (if they were hungry enough.) Apart from the taste, it was best not to eat the bars too quickly- your digestive system would regret overindulgence.

In 1943, the army’s Procurement Division asked Hershey to produce a new bar, heat resistant but with a better flavor.

ww2 hershey's

The Hershey’s Tropical Chocolate Bar was born. It must have had some success- it survived to go to the moon with the crew of Apollo 15 in 1971.

Loved or hated, the special ration-grade Hershey’s bar served its purpose. An estimated 3 billion units were produced and distributed to troops around the world from 1940 to 1945.

Now, if I could get my hands on some of those I could make a better claim for healthy chocolate, and the taste (and after-effects) might quell my cravings! Unfortunately, (or maybe fortunately,) Hershey’s no longer produces them.

Guess I’ll have to stick with the tasty stuff. 🙂

Hershey's kisses
image courtesy of :

Many thanks for visiting!


If you would like more information:

About the Hershey’s Ration D bar:

About the ‘Tropical Bar

General info on both:


Hitler vs. Stalin, 1941

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Adolf Hitler’s prospects looked rosy in the springtime of 1941 . The armies of Nazi Germany had swept across continental Europe. The island home of his surviving foe, Great Britain, was battered by bombs.  He had crushed resistance in the Balkans, and German tanks dominated North Africa.

What to do next?

Hitler had long looked eastward for Germany’s lebensraum (or ‘living space.’) He had even described his plans for the future in his 1925 book, Mein Kamf, in which he blamed the Jews and Bolsheveks for Germany’s loss of the last war and plotted their downfall.

One would think that Stalin would have been at least a bit suspicious when German troops started massing at his borders.

Stalin, though, had written proof that Hitler would not attack.  Germany and the USSR had signed a mutual non-aggression pact in 1939. Of course, Hitler had also proposed a 25 year pact of peace to the British, French, Belgians and Italians just before invading the Rhineland, (in breach of said pact,) and proclaimed in 1936, “Germany neither intends nor wishes to interfere in the internal affairs of Austria, annex Austria, or to conclude an Anschluss.” * He invaded Austria in 1938.

If Hitler’s writings and tendency to break faith weren’t enough cause for caution, one of Stalin’s own spies, Richard Sorge, gained intelligence that an attack was coming, and when.  A German deserter crossed the borders and confirmed his report. Winston Churchill even wrote Stalin personally to warn him that it looked as if an invasion was imminent.

In spite of all of the signs, when Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa on June 22, 1941 at 4:15 am, he achieved complete surprise.

See the source image

1,200 Soviet aircraft were destroyed before noon, many still on the ground. The German army, divided into North, Centre and South groups, drove deep and fast into the USSR.

In the words of Molotov, Stalin’s Foreign Minister, “This incredible attack on our country is an act of treachery unequalled in the history of civilized nations.” **

Treacherous, yes, but it was effective.

In spite of fierce resistance, in spite of Stalin’s ‘scorched earth’ policy, in spite of counter attacks and brief rebuffs, by mid-July the German army had advanced 400 miles.

However, mid July also marked the signing of a pact between Great Britain and the USSR.

Winston Churchill had no love for Communism or Stalin, but he saw an Allied opportunity and seized it. On the evening of Hitler’s first assault on the USSR, he had broadcast, “Any man or state who fights on against Nazidom will have our aid.”***   He did not relinquish his political views, but urged his people to focus instead on the common Russian families and how they suffered under Hitler’s betrayal. The Allies were duty-bound to aid them. (And, in doing so, they stood to gain another, very large, Ally.)

Still, it would be some time before the Alliance could do either side much good. Britain’s resources were strained, and while the United States (still officially neutral) had agreed to divert British aid to the Soviets, the goods would still need to be transported through the U-boat riddled Atlantic.

The fighting ground on through the summer. Hitler’s armies advanced.

By September 4th, Leningrad was under siege. Thousands of people, trapped in the city, felt the bite of hunger. By the 11th, bread rations had to be reduced. Citizens began to conceal the dead in order to use their ration coupons. Leaving was not an option- the Germans were ordered to shoot anyone fleeing toward their lines. (Hitler did not want to have to tend to refugees.) Tens of thousands starved before the end of the year.

On September 19th, the Germans occupied Kiev, the USSR’s third largest city, taking hundreds of thousands of prisoners.

On October 6th Hitler launched a two-pronged attack on Moscow. Some women and children were evacuated, but thousands of the people were mobilized and put to work building fortifications – Stalin intended to hold Moscow at all costs.

In all of this, it’s easy to see Stalin’s lack of foresight. However, let’s pause for just a moment to look at Hitler’s choices.

He expected the eastern campaign to be finished quickly. He did not equip his troops for winter fighting. And, perhaps most importantly, when his generals urged him to strike for Moscow at once, he overruled them.

As a result, when the German army finally advanced towards Moscow, the first snows of the Russian winter had already fallen.

Perhaps Winston Churchill sums up this period the best.

“The wicked are not always clever, nor are dictators always right.” ***

Advancing on Moscow, Nov 1941


Thanks for joining me for another little trip into WW2 history! Next time I dive into research, I intend to pick up with the story of Pearl Harbor, and the United States’ (official) entrance into the war.

Pearl Harbor naval base and U.S.S. Shaw ablaze after the Japanese attack

[Pearl Harbor naval base and U.S.S. Shaw ablaze after the Japanese attack]
Image courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress


* Quote from Winston Churchill’s The Gathering Storm, pg 206.

** Quote from Hal Buell’s World War II Album: The Complete Chronicle, pg 111

***Quotes from Churchill’s The Grand Alliance, pg 372 and pg 368, respectively

In addition to these books, I found this site helpful in reminding me of Hitler’s policies:

This site has a number of striking photos from Operation Barbarossa and the following months: