Cassie has a lot of toys but only a few favorites that she returns to again and again. Mr. Monkey is one. A large stuffed monkey that she picked out when we went to the local pet store after a visit to the vet a few months ago. She carries him around every day and never tears him up. But her absolute favorite toys are the egg babies. In my continuing quest to find a ball like object that she would enjoy I brought home this.

It’s a turtle with a pouch in the bottom and you stuff the little plush egg babies inside. It took Cassie about 30 seconds to figure out that the object was to get the eggs out of the turtle. I can get four of them inside. Once she “guts” it, she chases those little eggs all over the house. She throws them in the air and then pounces on them. She kicks them like soccer balls. She tosses them under chairs and then pushes them out with a leg stretched under the chair. (I’ve seen her do this enough times to know that it’s on purpose.) Once in a while she lets me play with her, dropping an egg baby at my feet. But I usually only get to throw it once and she will amuse herself for half an hour or more. When they roll under a big piece of furniture she lays down in front of it and gives a different kind of bark. Once that must mean, hurry up. I need my egg baby and I need it now. The egg babies have squeakers in them and I always smile as I see her race by me with an egg baby in her mouth going “squeak squeak squeak.”

When she’s had enough, she’ll climb into her bed for a much needed nap. A hour or two later she will ring the bells on the patio door. It’s not to go outside for a potty break. It’s because it’s playtime (again!) and all her egg babies are spread all over the house. We have turtle egg babies and chick egg babies. I stuff as many as I can into the tummy pouches of both, make her go through a bit of her training routine, and then give them back to her to start the whole game all over again. We do this six or seven times a day. She never gets tired of digging out the egg babies. She never gets tired of throwing them and chasing them and carrying them around.

I’m working on a couple of books that deal with topics that I don’t know a lot about. That means research. And I’ve never been very sure if I was any good at researching. I save everything because I take horrible notes and then it takes me forever to find stuff. I have a rotten memory, another reason to save everything or buy so many of the research books. But there’s something about the dig, something about having to find the story within the research that makes me smile every time. When I first start reading about a new topic I’m convinced it was a crummy idea and there is nothing there that will make a story. I’ll read for a while and then walk away and go play with some other kind of writing. But an internal bell rings, drawing me back to the research, and I dig in again. Same topic. Same book. Same page. But I dig deeper and discover something. Maybe a name, maybe an event, but something that makes me happy enough to carry it around with me for a while. To toss it in with my other words and see what happen. And because when I do this something magical usually DOES happen, well it excites me enough to want to go back and dig some more.

I repeat this process over and over again on a book, dig deep, find something new to me, play with it for a while, let it rest, then dig some more. I never get tired of digging, of discovering, of playing with my discoveries.

I think it’s good to remember that there are times we need to dig deep and times we have to let ourselves just play. In the end it all (usually) comes together in a story but it’s hard to remember that when we are fighting the process.

Gotta go. I’m pretty sure I just heard a bell.