Click any letter for a look at my prize-winning essay from the 2010 Erma Bombeck Writing Competition. You don't even have to buy a vowel.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Yoga Bare

Join me at the Huffington Post where exercise is always Extreme! When Yoga comes along, we just grin and bare it!

After yoga class, the Captain joined the Witness Protection Program. Here he is trying out his disguise.
 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Add Children. Blend Carefully Into Family.


Talk about blended families. Our family tree has more exes than a Tic Tac Toe tournament. At 2:00 in the afternoon on holiday weekends all the children automatically rotate parents from force of habit. This weekend I found myself seated at dinner next to an entertaining young man who was engaged in a fork joust in an effort to keep his creamed corn from touching his potato salad.

“Well, hello.” I’m nothing if not a sparkling conversationalist.

The fork executed a remarkable thrust and parry to save yet another food item from corn domination. “Yo.”

Limited verbal motivation. Uncombed hair. Aversion to cohabitation of vegetables. I hate that nagging feeling that you’ve seen someone before and can’t remember where.

“And who do you belong to?” I really should write this stuff down.

“You. I’m your first-born male child. I inherit your kingdom, such as it is.”

“What’s your name?”

“You told me not to tell anybody that doesn’t say the code word.”

“What’s the code word?”

“Nice trick. You warned me you might try that.”

I liked him better when he was poking holes in the entrée.

I squinted critically and turned his face side to side with my palm. “You don’t look like me.”

“Yet one more thing to be thankful for.”

I paused to consider. Wit coupled with a side order of sarcasm. A single sterling family trait does not make him an heir to my fortune in frozen Girl Scout cookies and unrecycled grocery bags.

“So what’s your name?”

“Nice try, Mom.”

“If I’m your Mom, tell me something personal that only I would know.”

“You hide leftover Easter candy in your underwear drawer, you can’t reach the Tupperware bowls on the second shelf, and you cry during the end of Secondhand Lions whether you see the first half of the movie or not.”

A few lucky guesses does not equal a DNA match.

“And what happened on Friday,” I queried, conjuring up memories of Family Scrabble Night.

He swallowed the last bite of uncontaminated potato salad and guzzled a half gallon of iced tea without stopping for breath. “Friday was allowance day. You owe me five dollars.”

Anybody with that kind of money memory has my blood in his veins.

Now how can I get him to tell me the family password?


Maybe I can buy a vowel.


Son One? Who Knows?
 



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Laugh Until You Pee!



Middle School would have been so much easier if Son One didn't have to admit he had parents!
 
Check out my essay "Mind Over Middle School" (from Not Your Mother's Book on Being a Mom) today.on Publishing Syndicate's Laugh Until You Pee blog. (Feel free to share!)
 
Then head to Amazon for the new book . . .Not Your Mother's Book On Working for a Living and see Son Two's adventures writing a resume. It shouldn't be this hard to empty the nest!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Watertight

It’s not that I don’t get embarrassed. There’s a name for the special shade of red I turned when my youngest son jumped the communion rail at church. I consider myself fortunate that he stuck the landing instead of vaulting into the baptismal font.

But after years of doling out sermons on the subject, I’ve done the unthinkable, and I have the decency to feel a bit bashful about my lapse.

But since I’m on the highwater side of 50 years old, I feel that I have earned the privilege to balance my walker on the wild side. So when I was wheeling my buggy down the aisle of the local Super Duper Market, I grabbed a bottle of water that was on sale.

That’s right. I paid for water. If Jennifer Aniston can do it, so can I. We have a lot in common, after all. She shaves one leg at a time just like I do. Except that she can afford laser removal and will probably stay silky smooth all her life, and I’m at the age when random hairs shoot out of various body parts with alarming frequency, requiring a doctor wielding lasers like Jesse James with a pair of six shooters to keep up.

Later, as the Captain of My Cart and I unloaded the groceries together, a little bonding exercise I like to call Marital Freezer Burn, hubby dear took the opportunity to lighten the mood with witty commentary. I kept busy trying to hide the bottled water beneath the Brussels sprouts. He’s a good sport, but he’s listened to so many speeches about money wasted on water over the years, the man is afraid to throw a penny in a wishing well.

“You got liver.” He made accompanying facial gestures that either indicated disapproval or suggested he had his boxers on backwards.

“It’s good for you.”

“I don’t eat internal organs.”

“Oh, it’s not to eat. It’s for a possible donor situation.”

“Very funny. What’re you hiding under the vegetables?”

“I’m not hiding anything. There are no secrets in our marriage.”

“What about the Johnny Depp poster you’ve got stashed in your women’s magazine?”

Drat. I planned an undercover Depp relocation for later that evening. “That doesn’t count. Besides, you’ve got Penelope Cruz stuck in that National Geographic in the bathroom.” I started edging down the hall with the grocery bag.

“What’s in the bag? Did you get saturated fat?”

“Yes. I’ll show it to you later.” I gave him what I hoped was a come hither look. “After the kids are in bed.”

“Did you drop your contact in the cat food again? You’re making that scrunchy face.”

I sighed. The hall was inches away. Trying not to draw attention to the grocery bag, I turned to saunter nonchalantly away.

“So. Is it a member of the crunchy fried family?”

“Ummm, I’d say it’s more smooth.”

“So it’s not pork rinds? You never get me anything I like.”

“Last week I let you have turkey bacon.”

“I’ll alert the media.”

“I’m looking out for your health.”

Sensing junk food on the horizon, the kids appeared from their room, the land where video games go to die. Hearing the rattle of bags in the kitchen, the dogs rushed past the boys to get their shopping day surprise, knocking the bag holding my clandestine purchase out of my hand and sending the bottle of storebought water rolling across the floor.

“What’s this?” (Why is it that gleefulness can sometimes be more irritating than being served Scampi with shells still on the shrimp?) “You’re cheating on the grocery budget with. . .SmartWater?” He was happier than a Collie in a cow pasture with all day free to roll.

I had the decency to harbor a bit of embarrassment. “Okay, I’ve been drinking SmartWater."


We gazed at each other over a gap that spanned a multitude of years and missed punchlines.

"Honey, you know I love you," he deadpanned. "But so far, it hasn’t helped.”

 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Defcon Halloween: Zombies, Scarecrows, and Attack Kittens

It’s not that Son One is a perfectionist, but he spent an entire afternoon Googling the proper way to tie a noose for our front porch Halloween skeleton.  Anything less than a gallows-approved knot was unacceptable.  You’d think a big guy with an axe was scoring the pop quiz.

“Mom, we don’t want to be a bad example. We have to show little kids that we do things right.” 

I’m sure the skeleton appreciated his attention to detail.

On the other hand, this is the same guy that will collect pet hair tumbleweeds in his room until he has enough fur to reconstruct the Chewbacca, the Wookie from Star Wars.  He’s probably planning a full-out attack on his brother’s room, The Death Star.  I’ve seen pizza boxes pulled in that place liked they were caught in a stuffed crust tractor beam.  I’ve never seen one leave.

But now I’m beginning to rethink letting the guys decorate the house for Halloween.  I imagined a few fake spider webs, a smiling Jack-O-Lantern, and a stuffed scarecrow on the front porch bench would do the trick.  Right now the front yard is strung with police tape and they’re discussing where to hide the body.

There’s something about hearing a voice from the bushes yell, “Mom, where do we keep the spare propane tanks?” that makes you appreciate tissue paper ghosts.

It took me a while to realize: these kids learned about life from video games.  Call of Duty was their instruction manual for life.  They’re not decorating the yard; they’re fortifying it against marauding invaders disguised as gypsies, thieves, and Miley Cyrus.

I called a meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and scaled back the Home Security alert.

“You mean you’re going to let the tiny humans walk right in and confiscate our candy?” Son one brandished a Nerf Gatling gun that would shoot more rounds than Shirley Temple has ringlets.

“We’re going to give it to them.”

A cheer went up.  “Now you’re talking!”

“I mean we’re going to give them the candy.”

“Without a major skirmish?”

“And without a police report.”

“What if the Zombies invade?”

 “We’ll give them extra Snickers bars.”

They locked eyes. “Better put away our secret weapon.”

Son Two unleashed Danger Cat, the attack kitten from his backpack.

Good thing. The Zombies wouldn’t stand a chance.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Craftless

I make up for my lack of gardening skills with an amazing ability to annihilate craft projects.  You would think the Author of the Universe in his unbounded wisdom would have given me the glue gun talents of a sharpshooter.  This is not the case.

One sister tried to teach me to crochet. She said she never saw anybody crochet backwards.

My other sister tried to help me make a banner for Son One’s soccer team.  I sewed the thing to the leg of my pants.  Gold craft felt stitched into the inseam of extra-large stretchy pants in a series of festive darts and puckers is not a desirable fashion statement.

When I was in high school, my mother took pity on me (GOOD LORD, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!) and finished my home economics project.  Who would have thought zippers would be so hard to install?  I had more trouble than a presidential candidate trying to get the thing to stay closed.

My niece has a business creating hand-painted jewelry that people pay actual money for.  I painted the South Carolina crescent and palmetto tree on a pendant. It looked like a banana bush.



My relatives began to meet secretly to have crafting parties.  I happened to visit one Friday evening, and at my knock heard muffled voices and the sound of heavy furniture being shoved in front of the door.

“Hello?!”

The blinds shifted slightly. Whispering followed.

“I know you’re in there!”

The door opened a crack.  “We can’t come out.  We’re quarantined.”

“I’m so sorry. Can I get you anything?”

“Could you leave a pizza by the door?”

“What sort of disease do you have that you’re quarantined but want pizza?”

Silence.  Then, “Acrophobia?”

“You’re in quarantine because you’re afraid of heights?”

“Leave the pizza down low.”

“You people are making crafts in there, aren’t you? Let me in or I’m coming back armed with tacky glue and pinking shears!”

Furtive dialing.

“And no calling 9-1-1!”

I went around to the back door, entered through the kitchen and came up behind a group of my closest friends and relatives wielding cotton balls and tiny paintbrushes like they were heavy artillery.

“Can I at least water your plants?”

A mad scramble ensued, leading to a tangle of arms, legs, and cotton balls.  It looked like an Easter Bunny gangland rumble.  A glitter haze filled the air.  A paintbrush stuck through my sister's pony tail like a hairpin.

The good news is that the plants are going to be fine.  But the crafting group cemented themselves into a freeform sculpture.  They’ll be okay once we find an antidote for Gorilla Glue.

Meanwhile I’ve taken up scrapbooking.  Has anybody got a nail gun I can borrow? 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Super Sister

I held up a patriotic picture across the clearance racks. "You could be Wonder Woman."

"Have you seen that outfit? The Lasso of Truth couldn’t hold up that top. I’d have to wear the strapless part around my butt."

My sister and I are Halloween shopping. She’s just before retirement age and I’m right behind her, pushing her over the hump.  Dolled up in superhero costumes, we’re like a cross between the Golden Girls and the Justice League. It’s enough to curl Captain America’s shield.

"Why don’t you be The Flash?"

"That’s a good idea.  Every time I bend over, the elastic in my pants stretches out. Good thing I’m wearing clean underwear."

"No, it’s THE Flash. It’s a title, not a description."

"Oh. What does the Flash do?"

"He runs real fast."

"I would too if everybody saw my altogether every time I bent over. But I can move pretty quick after one of those fiber drinks. Who are you going to be?"

"How about Grammar Girl?"

"Okay, but watch out for your run-ons. And that colon can be tricky."

"Tell me about it. I’ve had one of those fiber drinks, too." 

"Grammar Girl isn’t very exciting, is she?"

"Well, she’s no Aqua Man, but she can fix up a comma splice like nobody’s business."

"What does she wear?"

"A pencil skirt and a ponytail."

"That leaves me out. The last time I wore a pencil skirt, the Fashion Police presented me with an honorary eraser."

"What about the Green Lantern?"

"He’s a wimp.  I remember him when he was just a candlestick and a box of matches."
 
I pause and consider. We could go as ourselves.  Between us we’ve raised six children, seen three girls go through the pouty stage, and had a hand in a murder of boys learning to drive.  We’ve baked cupcakes, chased homework, and collapsed in relief at six high school graduations. Sounds like superhero stuff to me.

I’m swept up in emotion when suddenly Sis pounces on the perfect outfit.

"Wolverine! It’s just the thing!"
 
"Why is that?"

"You don’t have to shave your legs, and the nails are to die for!"