Sunday, December 27, 2015


Sir WHIP had spent all afternoon and evening polishing up his scales until they shone.  Then he flew into Kid Joey's room and woke him up. 
"It's two in the morning, Sir WHIP!  Are you nuts?!" 
"I have such a surprise for you tonight – for the whole family, actually!  We will be starting the New Year off right!
Kid Joey went into Ro's room first, figuring she would be the least mad if he and Sir WHIP woke her up at this crazy hour.  "Huh?" she mumbled, turning away from her weird little brother, aiming herself toward the wall so he couldn't be in her face anymore. 
But of course that just forced Sir WHIP to hop into the air and fly over her to land on her pillow, his scaly feet right in front of her nose. 
"Up, up, young lady!  We have a surprise to share!"
"What do you mean get dressed warm?  What are you up to, Sir WHIP?" Ro asked as she bundled up, while Kid Joey entered his parents room, careful not to startle Brie, for she was very protective of Mom. 
"Are you sick?" Dad was concerned. 
"No everything's okay.  Sir WHIP has a big surprise for all of us.  We have to get up right now and bundle up." 
By that time Mom was awake, with that Mom radar that senses when kids are up and about in the middle of the night. 
"What about Brie?"
"Brie too."  Brie wagged her tail, thinking the best surprise of all would be for Kid Joey to go back to his room and let her keep snuggling up to Mom and snoozing. 
Outside in the back yard the gleaming dragon stretched himself as large as he could and lowered his head down so that the whole family could climb aboard. 
When they had he took off.  "We have to hurry or we'll be late!" he shouted back over his shoulder where everyone held on tight. 
"Where are we going?" Kid Joey shouted back. 
"You'll see!" 
They flew and flew.  Sir WHIP covered a lot of distance with his giant wingspan, and just a little bit of magic that he'd discussed with Gramps Blaze earlier in the day…well, actually, technically it was the day before by now.  Sometimes the whole middle-of-the-night-turns-into-the-morning-of-the-next-day-thing was pretty confusing.
"Okay!  We made it!  It's just starting!!"  Sir WHIP shouted, and pointed himself at Christmas Island, near Samoa, where there were…
"Fireworks!  Cool!  But why are they celebrating the Fourth of July in January?" Kid Joey cried out in delight. 
"People shoot off fireworks on New Year's Eve too!" Mom said, bursts of flaming colors reflecting in her eyes.  She'd never seen fireworks from the sky before!  None of the family had.  Kato was a little scared at first, but with Kid Joey's arm around his shoulders, he calmed down and enjoyed the show.  Then, when the fireworks started to quiet down in Samoa, Sir WHIP changed direction, heading for New Zealand, where their fireworks were just beginning. 
In Australia, Sir WHIP touched down on the Sydney Opera House roof, and let the whole family off his back for a while to stretch their legs and give him a rest while they watched the amazing fireworks show going on.
They headed for Honolulu, Hawaii next and clapped and cheered for the beautiful fireworks, and loved the hula dancers who were also part of the show, along with a great feast call a luau.  They had a great time there, but Sir WHIP hurried them along for it was almost midnight in Kyoto, Japan, and that display was really cool. 
Kid Joey watched Sir WHIP's wings pumping up and down, the dragon almost effortlessly balancing the family and hauling them through the air at incredible speed.  He watched the fireworks reflecting on Sir WHIP's shiny scales, and smiled, thinking how awesome it was to have a fire-breathing dragon for a friend. 
Kid Joey thought back over the year, and realized how wonderful it had been!  He had met and become pals with his new grandfather, Gramps Blaze, he'd found out his Grandma Crystal could see things in her magical crystal ball, he'd fixed up the Kraken with Gramps Blaze and learned how to fish, and he'd discovered and become really great friends with Sir WHIP.  What a year!  And now he was flying all over the world watching New Year's fireworks displays in all kinds of different cities!  And they were really, really cool! 
They flew to Paris and the entire city's New Year crowd roared and cheered when Sir WHIP landed on the top of the Eiffel Tower, continued to flap his massive wings in greeting as they sparkled in the fireworks lights. No one had ever seen such a sight, and likely never would again, thought Kid Joey.  He had the coolest friend ever! 
Dubai's display was pretty awesome, and got a lot of oohs and ahs from the whole family, not to mention a couple of nervous whines from Kato who still wasn't sure he liked the whole flying thing, let alone the whole flying thing in the middle of flashes of fireworks.  But when he saw Ro and Kid Joey laughing and pointing at the various fireworks and light shows, he calmed down and curled himself up under Ro's leg.  She petted him gently, proud of him for being so brave. 
They hit New York City hours after their start in Samoa, and even through they were all starting to feel a little worse for wear having gone so long without sleep, Mom and Dad, Ro and Kid Joey and the pups were nevertheless very excited to see the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, especially with such stunning fireworks lighting up her face. 
All across the United States they pointed out historical landmarks, all lit up with fireworks and amid roars of celebratory crowds.  Ro and Kid Joey clapped in glee as Mom and Dad held onto them with firm grips, making sure they were safe. 
As Sir WHIP sparkled across the sky, and got attention from the crowds, many of whom mistakenly thought him a special fireworks display, he smiled to himself, so happy to have been able to surprise his adopted family with such an exciting trip. 
Soon they flew over Baker Island in the Pacific Ocean, the last to celebrate the New Year. 
As soon as the fireworks display was over, Sir WHIP banged a u-ey and soon he lighted atop the roof of Ro and Kid Joey's house, hopped down into the yard, light as a feather, and flattened out his neck so that everyone could crawl off him and head to their rooms to get some sleep.  He shrunk down and followed them into the house. 
Before they went to bed, though, even though the sun was well up into the sky, for Baker Island was far away and almost fourteen hours behind Eastern Standard Time.  So midnight there meant it was…
"Wow!  It's almost four thirty in the afternoon!" Kid Joey said, astonished, especially since he'd barely slept two hours last night before Sir WHIP had woken him up. 
"Well, I got you back home as quick as I could.  Now shoo!  Bedtime!" the dragon defended his flying time from the far side of the Pacific Ocean. 
"Before you go, I thought a special treat might be in order," Dad said, pulling a bottle of champagne out of the fridge.  He poured a some into a special glass called a flute, for himself and Mom, and some for Sir WHIP, and sips for Kid Joey and Ro, then said, "Happy New Year everyone!  And thank you, Sir WHIP, for the wonderful New Year adventure!"
Ro and Kid Joey squinched up their noses at the champagne's bubbles as they tickled, and grimaced at the taste of the bubbly wine. 
"Ew.  Why do grownups drink this stuff?  It's yucky!" Kid Joey said, holding his glass down for Kato to have a taste.  The bubbles startled Kato whose tongue lapped up over his nose.  He stepped back and barked at the glass which still fizzed.  Everyone laughed.   
"It's a special drink that people use to toast special occasions," Dad explained. 
"Which fireworks did you think were the best?" Mom asked. 
"I loved London with the giant Ferris wheel!" Kid Joey said, his eyes sparkling. 
"I liked Paris – I love the Eiffel Tower," Ro said.  "but Dubai was kind of cool too.  That big tall building with all the lights was really neat!" 
"The Australian one was very pretty with the white finale," Mom said. 
"I liked China's," Sir WHIP said.  "They invented fireworks, and they honor dragons above all other creatures." 
Everyone nodded at that. 
"I liked New York City with all the fireworks going off around the Statue of Liberty, lighting up her face.  It made me happy to live here in our country," said Dad, and everyone liked his choice.    
Kato was just glad to be standing with his feet on solid ground instead of slippery, wiggling dragon scales. 
Within half an hour everyone was asleep, dreaming about all the beautiful things they'd seen on their Happy New Year Adventure with Sir WHIP. 
TD – 12/27/2015

Saturday, December 26, 2015


Princess Rosie leapt out of bed, and hurried to the bathroom to use to toilet.  Then she went right back into her room and to her closet.  She wanted to look pretty because school would be starting in a few minutes.  She whooshed the dress down over head, and smoothed it out, then picked pretty pink socks to match it. 

Just as she was ready to leave her room and go see what Queen Mommy was putting in her lunch box, Joey Owl landed on her windowsill. 

"My, Princess Rosie, you look lovely today, is that a new dress?" Joey Owl said. 

Princess Rosie smiled and spun around making the skirt of the dress poof out.  "No, but I haven't worn it in a pretty long time." 

"Are you going someplace special?" Joey Owl asked.

"School, silly!"  Princess Rosie said, and started for her door so she wouldn't be late. 

"There isn't any school today, Princess Rosie, it's Saturday!"  Joey Owl said. 

"Saturday?" Princess Rosie said.

"Yes, it's the week-end.  Haven't you learned about the days of the week yet?" Joey Owl asked.

"A little bit.  Monday, Tuesday…Friday…" she got a little confused about them, still.  "My Nana is helping me learn them, but it's hard to remember them." Princess Rosie said, a little frustrated.

"It takes time to memorize things.  There are seven days in a week," Joey Owl said, and recited: "Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday."  He flew into the room and landed on the footboard of Princess Rosie's bed as she sat down on its edge and listened to what he had to tell her. 

For most people, Saturday and Sunday are week-end days, when they are off of work and school.  Those days are so that families and friends can spend time and have fun together.  Like King Daddy is usually off of work on the week-ends."

"Sometimes he works, though." Princess Rosie said. 

"True, sometimes there is extra work or special work to be done on week-ends and daddies or mommies need to go to work.  And some jobs, like stores and restaurants, are worked on the week-ends and the people who do those jobs have days off during the week."

"My Nana used to work in a store and worked every week-end."  Princess Rosie said.

"Yes.  And she had off on Mondays and Fridays," Joey Owl said, and Princess Rosie nodded. 

"But boys and girls go to school on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.  Schools are closed on the week-ends," Joey Owl explained. 

"And I don't have school on Wednesday, because my mommy works.  I have special school with Nana on Skype.  I have regular school on days when Queen Mommy is home," Princess Rosie explained. 

"That's right," Joey Owl said.  You go to school on Monday and Tuesday, have off on Wednesday when Grandma and Poppy are here, then go to school on Thursday and Friday, then have off on the week-end."

"Can you tell me the week-days, Princess Rosie?" Joey Owl said.

"Monday, Tuesday…" she looked over at Joey Owl, "Is Wednesday a week-day, even though I don't have school?"

"Yes.  The week-days are all the days except Saturday and Sunday."  Joey Owl answered. 

Princess Rosie began again, "Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday."

"Right!  Very, very good, Princess Rosie!"  he clapped his wings…well, they didn't actually make a clapping sound, more like little whooshes when his feathers fluffed together, but Princess Rosie got the idea.  "And the week-end days?" he asked.

"Saturday and Sunday," Princess Rosie said, thinking that was an easy one. 

"And so what are the days of the whole week?" Joey Owl said. 

"Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday." Princess Rosie responded. 

"Very good!  And what days do you have school, Princess Rosie?" Joey Owl said.

"Monday, Tuesday, off on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday," Princess Rosie answered. 

"Very good!" Joey Owl said, and leapt into the air, flapped his wings once and landed on Princess Rosie's shoulder.  "And what is today?" he asked.

"Saturday!" Princess Rosie said, spinning around her room, her dress puffing out, and Joey Owl holding on tight so as not to fall off her shoulder. 

"And can we play tomorrow too?" Joey Owl asked. 

Princess Rosie thought for a moment, then her smile beamed, "Yes!  Tomorrow is Sunday!"

"And Sunday is…" Joey Owl started the sentence.

"A week-end day!" Princess Rosie finished the sentence in delight, still spinning and dancing around her room.

"And the day after tomorrow?" Joey Owl asked.

Princess Rosie stopped spinning to think, then looked sideways at Joey Owl.  "I'm not sure."

"Well, after the week-end, the week days start all over again.  So what day starts the weekdays?" Joey Owl said.

Princess Rosie thought some more, then smiled.  "Monday!" she said.

"That's right.  Monday and Tuesday you go to school.  Then, because you go to Nana School, which is special, you are off on Wednesday.  What are the last two days of your school week, Princess Rosie?"

"Ummmm…" Princess Rosie thought hard.  "I think it might be Thursday, after Wednesday."

"Yes, that's right.  And what's the last day before the week-end?"

"That's easy!  Nana told me that the other day, the last day of the week before the week-end is Friday!  That's when I start getting excited because I know that Daddy and Mommy will be home and together for the week-end." Princess Rosie answered. 

"Can we say the weekdays?" Joey Owl said, and together he and Princess Rosie recited: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.

"And the week-end days?" Joey Owl said.  And together he and Princess Rosie recited: Saturday, Sunday.

"And the whole week now…all seven days?" Joey Owl said, and he and Princess Rosie recited together:

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. 

"Nana will be proud that I learned something on the week-end," Princess Rosie said as she skipped out of her room, Joey Owl flying just over her shoulder. 

They entered the palace kitchen where King Daddy was making breakfast.  "I was just about to come and get you!  I made eggs and toast and bacon, for our special week-end breakfast feast," he said as Princess Rosie sat down at the table and he put a plate in front of her. 

"Don't you think eggs are a pretty shade of yellow?" she said to Joey Owl.

"Yes! I do!" Joey Owl said.  "And bacon is a pretty reddish brown that is just perfect in one's tummy," he said, and leaned forward to smell the wonderful breakfast King Daddy had made for his friend. 

"Don't worry, Joey Owl, I made you some breakfast too."  King Daddy said, putting a smaller plate in front of Joey Owl. 

"It's fun to eat the color yellow!" Princess Rosie said, "It's like eating sunshine!" She popped a spoonful of eggs in her mouth. 

Just then Queen Mommy came into the kitchen with Prince Joseph and put him in his high chair.  Everyone enjoyed a happy and giggly week-end morning breakfast together and then went outside to play in the palace yard, for that's what the week-end is for! 

The End.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015


Kid Joey dove onto the school bus and sat with Ro, eager to see where Elfie would be hanging out today.  For an "Elf on the Shelf," she sure never spent much time on any shelf!  Except of course the kitchen cabinet where Mom kept her little bucket of soft mints.  Elfie was hooked on 'em!  One of the first clues that Elfie was real, was when Kid Joey and his sister Ro came into the kitchen to grab some breakfast before Ro went to the bus stop and there Elfie was, hung over the little mint bucket, frozen in place – mint wrappers all over the counter!  She was so totally busted!  They'd laughed all through breakfast and their friends had even laughed on the school bus that morning. 

But this afternoon Elfie was nowhere to be found. 

Until Ro got to her room.  "Hey Joey!  C'mere!" she called out. 

Kid Joey hurried to Ro's room to see what was up. 

There on Ro's pillow sat Elfie – and she was moving!  She blinked, pulled her legs up to pretzel them, and patted Ro's bed, inviting Ro and Kid Joey to join her.  And she was petting Kato's snoozing head, since he'd already been there and napping when Elfie had shown up. 

After exchanging startled glances, Ro and Kid Joey crawled onto the bed, their eyes never leaving Elfie, and waited politely to see what she had on her mind. 

"Hi, Ro and Kid Joey.  I know you guys had fun at your Christmas parties today at school.  I know you've been helping Mom and Dad get ready, too.  You both have been very, very good this year, and that's why, when Santa was looking for a friend to help him out with a favor, I mentioned you." 

Ro and Kid Joey gasped.  "You mentioned us to Santa?!" Ro said, astonished.

"Of course!  Not the first time, either!  Kid Joey, you and your sister and your friends Sir WHIP and Kato go out of your way to be kind and helpful.  We noticed you helping that little kitten, Smudge, and your friend Cindy.  And giving Sir WHIP a nice house to live in and helping him control his fire – very kind and helpful! So when Santa mentioned a glitch to me during rollcall…"

"Elves have rollcall?" Kid Joey asked, amused.

"Well of course, silly!  How do you think Santa knows if one of us is sick?"

"Elves get sick?" Ro asked, eyes wide. 

"Not often, but there's the occasional tummy ache…"

"Like when you eat half a bucket of soft mints?" Kid Joey teased. 

"Be sure to thank your mom for me.  The Tums she left on the kitchen table helped a lot.  See what I mean? Your whole family is kind and helpful."

"So how can Ro and I help Santa?"

"Well, his sleigh is way heavy this year.  He and all the elves have all pitched in every glittery speck of our magic dust, and still the reindeer can't get that sucker up into the air."

"We don't have any fairy dust, Elfie.  We aren't magic," Ro said softly. 

"You guys are more magical thank you think, and you are forgetting about your very magical friend, Sir WHIP." 

Kid Joey's eyes lit up, getting Elfie's drift.  "He can fly." 

"And he's bigger than all the reindeer, Santa and his sleigh put together," Elfie added. 

"Santa wants Sir WHIP to pull his sleigh instead of the reindeer?" Ro asked, appalled by the very thought. 

"Of course not!  The reindeer can never, ever be replaced! They are part of Santa's family.  Christmas simply would not be Christmas without them.

"But they could use a little help.  Like that foggy Christmas when Santa tapped Rudolph to join the team and lead the way with his shiny, glowy nose.  So do you think Sir WHIP will help?"

"Well duh! Of course I will!" Sir WHIP called from his house under Ro's window, coming out onto the little patio Ro and Kid Joey had made for him out of a kitchen floor tile they'd found in the garage.  "On one condition." 

Elfie was aghast.  "You're daring to quote a condition to Santa Claus? Seriously?"

"I'll have you know my magic goes back just as far as Saint Nicholas' does, young lady! As a matter of fact, my ancestors were there when he was born, and sent him his first iron bed frame that they forged with their fire!  So don't presume to…"

"Okay, okay!  Don't get all bent out of shape, you just surprised me is all.  What's your condition?" 

"This might be easier if I spoke to the round guy myself," Sir WHIP said, and took flight from his patio to Ro's bed. 

"Ro, would you be so kind as to open your window, please?" 

Ro did so, and Sir WHIP flew out it, calling back to her, "Thank you! You can close it!  Give me four hours and then open it back up.  That should give me plenty of time to get to the workshop, talk to Santa and get back," Sir WHIP said, hovering. 

"You're going to the North Pole and back in four hours?" Kid Joey asked, surprised and highly impressed. 

"Yeppers!  See ya!" and Sir WHIP was off.  Within seconds he was long gone, out of sight, and Ro closed the window and checked the clock.  Four thirty.  She set her alarm for eight thirty.  She would make sure to be at her window a little early to let Sir WHIP back in. 

"I wonder what in the world Sir WHIP's condition is?" Elfie said to her charges, looking a little worried, but knowing Sir WHIP was a very good, very special dragon. 

"Was Sir WHIP's family friends with Santa's family?"

"Oh yes!  And they really did make his first bed!  It was solid silver.  Beautiful thing!  He still has it, as a matter of fact.  Mrs. Claus keeps it all polished up.  It's too little for Santa now, of course, but he lets the elves take turns napping in it.  It's a magical bed, you see, that brings amazing Christmas dreams to whomever sleeps in it.  We elves love to nap in it because we dream up awesome new toys whenever we do." 

"That's so cool!" Kid Joey said, his eyes sparkling. 

"You know you can't talk about any of this with anyone, right?" Elfie said to both children, and Kato though he was asleep with all four paws up in the air and his tongue hanging out the left side of his mouth, dreaming of peanut butter cookies that Dad and Ro had made last night. 

"Right. We get it," Ro said, zipping her lips and turning the key in the lock of the invisible zipper. 

At eight thirty on the dot Ro opened her window and in flew Sir WHIP with several snowflakes and the scent of cinnamon and cocoa.  He landed on Ro's bed, where Kid Joey and Elfie and Ro waited, excited to hear about what Sir WHIP and Santa discussed way up at the North Pole. 

"Santa said to wear the heaviest coat you've got, your snow boots with two pair of socks, two hats, two sets of mittens, and two pair of pants.  He also said you'll only need all that at the North and South Poles.  By the time you get to Florida and then the equator, you'll be in tee shirts and shorts – which you will wear under everything else." 

Ro and Kid Joey's eyes were wide.  "We're going?" they both said at the same time. 

"Well of course!  And Kato too! Did you think I would go on such a grand adventure and leave my best friends behind?  Sheesh!  Can your Mom get Kato a doggie coat and boots?  Rooftops are slippery." 

Kid Joey and Ro stared at Sir WHIP in awe for several moments.  

"Well?" Sir WHIP brought them out of their daze. 

"Sure!" Ro said. 

"You can't tell her why." 

"Mom and Dad will never let us go out all night," Kid Joey said, his eyes clouding. 

"Wow.  You guys have no idea who you're dealing with!" said Elfie, and Sir WHIP smiled.  He knew, for sure and watched the cute little elf go into action. 

She hopped onto Ro's shoulder as the children, accompanied by Sir WHIP on Kid Joey's shoulder, wanting to watch the fun, and by Kato, all finished with his nap by then, but still wanting Ro to go to sleep so he could snuggle up for the night.  Boy was there ever a big surprise in store for him!

Mom and Dad were watching a movie, and thought Ro and Kid Joey were coming to say goodnight. 

That was when Elfie flung Elf Dust over them.  When Ro told Mom all about Kato needing a coat for an adventure to the North Pole, Mom went over to the gifts already beneath the beautifully decorated and light-sparkling Christmas tree and pulled out a gift from the pile.  She held it down to Kato, who tore the paper off it. 

Nana Terri had crocheted a gift for Kato. 

"It's a thick coat with booties to match!" Kid Joey said, a big smile on his face, and Kato yipped, excited. 

"It's red and white like Santa's suit!" Elfie said, laughing. "It even has a hat like Santa's!" 

The kids decked Kato out in his new snuggly clothes after following Sir WHIP back to Ro's bedroom. 

"How long will the Elf Dust last?" Kid Joey said. 

"Until Christmas morning Then you can wake your Mom and Dad up like usual to go open gifts – whatever they remember will seem like a dream." 

"Cool!" Ro said. 

They all went into the back yard after bundling all their winter clothes over shorts and tee shirts as Santa had told them.  Ro suggested packing snacks, but Elfie said, "Oh, you won't be needing snacks.  Mrs. Claus packs 'em for Santa and the reindeer and she knows all about what little boys and girls and doggies and even magical dragons love to eat. Trust me; she's a great cook!  When she met Santa he was a skinny little dude! Plus, don't forget that children all over the world leave snacks out for Santa and the reindeer, and they always share. 

Everybody laughed at the skinny dude comment as they climbed aboard Sir WHIP's ample back. 

Then off he took carrying his friends into Adventureland!

Now here is where my story must have gaps, because Santa's flight is top secret.  Every now and then a weatherman catches sight of his sleigh in flight, but only for a second or two, and then poof!  It disappears. 

How he gets down chimneys, and even more puzzling, how he gets into houses with no chimneys that are all locked up tight is, always has been, and always will be, a huge mystery. 

But I can tell you that Santa hung medals of honor around the necks of Kid Joey, Ro, Kato, and Sir WHIP early on Christmas morning, before the sun even peeked up over the horizon in Pennsylvania.  That happened just before he dropped everyone off at Kid Joey's house from the empty sleigh, except, of course, for Kid Joey and Ro's family's presents, the last to be delivered. 

Now what I can tell you, is that Kid Joey and Ro hurried into bed for about an hour's sleep before they woke up Mom and Dad and Brie for Christmas. 

They went to sleep fast, as their travels on Sir WHIP's back as he helped the reindeer pull the sleigh (and it really was very, very heavy!) all over the world. 

As the sun turned the early morning sky all purple and pink, Ro got up, Kato following closely and went into Kid Joey's room. 

"I had the weirdest dream," she said to Kid Joey.  "It started with Elfie talking to us in my room." 

"And asking Sir WHIP to help the reindeer pull Santa's sleigh!" Kid Joey picked up the story. 

"Did it really happen?" Ro said.  Kid Joey pointed at Kato, who still had on his Santa hat.  And they looked around the house.  Elfie was gone, as usual, for when Santa delivered presents, he collected up all the elves who stayed in little kids' houses in December and took them back to the North Pole with him. 

But the weird thing was, when everyone opened presents, Kato's sweater and booties were all wrapped up, under the tree, all except for – you guessed it! – his Santa hat! 

TD – 12/19/2015

Saturday, December 12, 2015


Kid Joey snuck around the house into everyone's room, just as the sun was coming up, way early on Saturday morning. The only one who was already awake was Ro, because he'd told her and she wanted to watch.
But of course, with Sir WHIP's help, Kid Joey was better at the actual chore. In and out of rooms Kid Joey went, quiet as a mouse, Ro's last, until they had every waste basket in the house gathered up outside the back door.
Okay, we gotta get Mom and Dad's can back into their bedroom quick before one of them throws away a tissue or something," Ro said, and Kid Joey nodded, dumping that waste basket on the lawn out in the middle of the yard first.
Ro stood, shaking her head, her hands on her hips. "This better work, little brother, or you're gonna be grounded until you're older than Gramps Blaze."
"I did it last week. See any stuff in the yard?" 
Ro had to admit that the yard was cleaner than she'd ever seen it - even the leaves were raked up and gone. She took Mom and Dad's waste basket from Kid Joey and ran it back into the house and crept into their room to replace it. Then she rushed back into the yard because she didn't want to miss anything.
When she arrived there, Mrs. Levy stood talking to Kid Joey, her trash can a few feet behind her. "I would have never thought of this in a million years, Joseph! You are brilliant!" she said, and handed Kid Joey five dollars!
"What are you doing?!" Ro said, joining them in the middle of the yard. "Why is she giving you money?"
Kid Joey beamed, pocketing the fiver. "Cool, huh? Mrs. Levy said that people who come up with unique ideas for how to do things in new and special ways can patent their ideas - the government makes it official, that you own that idea, and people have to pay you to use it."
Ro's eyebrows were raised in surprise. "Seriously? You can get paid to do this?"
"Yep!" Kid Joey said. "But only if I keep Sir WHIP's name out of it, and nobody sees how I do it. I can't really get a patent because Sir WHIP's a big secret." 
"Well then, why is Mrs. Levy paying you?"
"Because she said she pays a lot of money to have her trash taken away by the garbage men, and she would rather pay me because we're friends. And because it's fun to watch." 
"And I bring the popcorn," Mrs. Levy said, chuckling, holding out a pot with a lid. "Watch this."
She sat the pot on Dad's grill and backed away. Sir WHIP flew in from high in the sky where he'd been circling, stoking his fire. He swooped down, inches above the grill and puffed - just once, he didn't want to melt Mrs. Levy's pot - and there was a great noise inside the pot and suddenly popcorn overflowed a bit and pushed the lid crooked from inside.
Everyone clapped and Ro giggled, taking a piece of popcorn as Sir WHIP soared upward to circling height.
Mrs. Levy laughed. "Okay, Kid Joey! Now we're ready for the real show!" 
Ro and Kid Joey put on rubber gloves that Mom had given them for trash day (when someone in your house is sick, rubber gloves, and then washing hands is very important). Mrs. Levy sat down in a lawn chair, over by the fence, with a bowl of popcorn sitting in her lap, a great smile on her face awaiting the children's entertainment.
Kid Joey was first. He tossed two milk jugs into the air just as Sir WHIP swooped over his head and puffed fire out his nose and POOF! Gone! Not even any ashes left over. Then it was Ro's turn with a grocery store bag full of tissues and stuff from a waste basket. Sir WHIP dove toward it and puffed fire. POOF! Gone! Mrs. Levy clapped. "Brilliant! Better than fireworks on the Fourth of July!!"
Just then Gramps Blaze and Nana Terri came into the yard through the gate, carrying a big trash can between them. "We smelled popcorn," Gramps Blaze said, smiling, and dumped their can in the middle of the yard, set it over by the back gate, and then took a seat with the ladies. "Let's see what you've got, kid!"
Mrs. Levy passed her bowl around as everyone watched the pyrotechnic trash show early on Saturday morning before anyone else was even out of bed.
"Stroke of genius!" Gramps Blaze said to Kid Joey, who took a little bow.
"Thank you! But I have a lot of help from my friends."  With that he and Ro tossed four bags high up into the air, one from each hand, and POOF! POOF! POOF! POOF! - Gone!
Meanwhile, Mom and Dad woke up and happened to look out the kitchen window while they were making breakfast. Dad called Mom over to join him and watched Mrs. Levy, Nana Terri, and Gramps Blaze all clapping and cheering while Ro and Kid Joey tossed little bags of trash high into the air and Sir WHIP snorted fire at them, poofing them out of existence. Dad shook his head and laughed. "What is that kid and that dragon gonna come up with next?!" he said. "Come on, let's go get us some popcorn and watch!"