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.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Remembering. . .

A Little Boy Gone on 9/11

by Carole Conner Oldroyd on Saturday, September 11, 2010 at 3:05pm

I post this every 9/11.  I made a promise to myself and to this little boy's memory that I would never forget him.

This is Rodney Dickens. He was only 11 years old when he lost his life on September 11, 2001. He will forever be the face I see when I think of that terrible day.

When photos started streaming in on TV after the terrorist attack, his little face struck me. I began to wonder about him. As a mother whose kids were close to Rodney's age at that time, so many things ran through my mind.

My first thought was, "Who was with this little boy? Was he traveling alone?" My boys had flown alone several times.

My heart broke when I wondered if he knew what was about to happen; that his life was about to come to an end. Did anyone put their arms around him, or did he face the those final moments as alone as any human being could ever be? Did he cry? Was he afraid? Did anyone hold his hand? Did he pray for God to rescue him? Did he have dreams, goals, plans for his future? Was he even old enough to begin dreaming of what he would do when he was all grown up?

When I began researching to find out who little Rodney was, I learned that he was, indeed, without his parents. He was traveling with classmates. Again, parental instincts crept in and I sobbed thinking about his mother and his father. Were they watching as this all happened? How devastatingly helpless must have been the feeling, knowing that they were powerless to protect their child from the wickedness of these terrorists. I have had nightmares about Rodney crying for his parents in the seconds before his life was brutally stolen away on what should have been a day filled with joy.

And then my emotions turned to rage. Correlations between this innocent child and my own children filled me with so much anger, knowing that the terrorists would not have cared if my children were on that plane. Regard for precious human life was tossed aside like an unwanted object by those . . . I'm sorry, I cannot use the word "people". In fact, I don't have any other word for them besides terrorists. I feel that nothing appropriate even exists in the English language.

As I write this, my arms are covered in goose bumps. My eyes are filled with tears. This child. This sweet-faced little boy lost his life before he even had a chance to begin living.

Rodney, I never knew you. But I love you. With all of my heart, I love you.

As long as I live, you will never be forgotten.



Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Legacy

Turns out Mom was right. Again. Even from the corner of heaven where children don't talk back. C'mon over to Huffington Post and help me figure out what to do about this legacy. (I'm not going to attempt the Atkins diet, but a gold bar wouldn't hurt.)

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


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.