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

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Bowl Bound or Busted

If you thought exercising in front of the kids when they were little was a Stephen King movie waiting to happen, you'll find that working out in front of teenagers is like hanging your handwashables out to dry across the information superhighway. If there’s not a video of your behind crouched in a downward dog position on YouTube before you’re done with the stretches, these kids think they’re not doing their job.

At least when the children were six, they would make entertaining attempts to do the exercises with me. Today they take pictures with their cell phones and compose humorous captions before texting them to distant relatives and global news sites.

And they’re not afraid to broadcast interesting body fat tidbits. When the kids were little they said things like, “Who is that lady on the video?” (That’s Richard Simmons, Sweetie.) Where did your belly button go? (It disappeared about the time I sent out the birth announcements.)

These days they say things like, “Is that a hula hoop or a belt?” Since I’m wedged into the thing like preteens in the front row of a Taylor Swift concert, I don’t have a clever answer ready. I’m more concerned with getting the plastic wedgie out from under my lung so I can breathe. Having a playground toy jammed through my ribcage like a pierced earring is not a good look for me. I know. I saw the "After" shots on the FAIL blog.

The last time I let my band of ruffians, er teenage citizens, in the house while I was doing my bellydance workout, I checked my FaceBook page later only to find out I’d been sponsored by Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig had ignored my friend request, and an anonymous poster left ten tips to a bikini-ready body written in a sarcastic font.

Then one day a host of fleshy cherubs in workout gear appeared before me on my 48 inch plasma screen. I thought it was The Biggest Loser, Angel Edition. “We saw you on You Tube and decided you needed some help. Seek out the promised land!”

That’s the day I packed up my workout gear and headed to my own turf. These days it’s kind of hard to do squats without flushing the toilet, or perform proper lunges without knocking the shower massage into nail-driver position, but I can exercise without the benefit of back seat drivers.

Now if I could just get the Tidy Bowl man to stop heckling me from the cheap seats.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

And The Winner Is... ME!

Hiding My Bread on an
Autumn Morning

Whose loaves these are I think I know

They are not made of bakery dough

I won them on the Internet

A goal was reached; I’m not there yet.

The children think I’m greedy too

I will not share, and so would you

Keep them to yourself to eat

If you had such a yummy treat

I stashed the box with certain care

In the drawer with underwear

Because the boys would never look

To see them snuggled in that nook.

So now I feast on honey bread

Swirled with cinnamon instead

Of sharing it with kids and Cap

Full and happy, off to nap!

Thanks to Lost Girl from whose


Came ideas for this scrumptious bread

She cooks with healthy recipes.

On her blog find more like these!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Easy Bake

This is an oldie, but the frosting is still fresh. Son Two is twenty now, and he still confuses the mixer with the power sander, thinks frozen pizza in the big box is gourmet food, and lives for the day when you can get a mom that doesn't talk back out of a vending machine. For less than a dollar.

The Kid came through the back door like Secretariat out of the chute at Churchill Downs. We call him the agitator. He does to my nervous system what the spin cycle does to my delicates.

“Mom, you have to make a German Chocolate cake for my social studies project.”

“Excuse me little boy, but I’m neutral. I do not sew, neither do I bake.”

I am a firm believer in teaching children to make their own way in the world. Survival skills are necessary for kids who live in a world that evolves so rapidly the prize in the cereal is obsolete by the time they open the box. The day will come when my son will have to frost his own cupcakes. With this concept in mind, I decided it was time to teach him to cook.

Extensive negotiations found me and the Baker’s Apprentice at the kitchen table surrounded by supplies. We have eggs, vegetable oil, box of cake mix, and can of frosting. I do not want an “A” badly enough to make this cake from scratch, but neither do I want to miss out on seeing this kid face the consequences of volunteering. Don’t bang the can on the counter unless you’re willing to bake the biscuits.

The Kid is 12. He is cooler than spearmint gum. At present, he is wearing his cooking clothes, which are pretty much the same clothes he wears for everything else: socks with holes and without shoes, blue jeans with the top button missing, red silky boxer shorts visible above his jeans like a belt of fire ants, and no shirt.

“Why wear a shirt?” he shrugged. “If I get anything on my skin, I can just lick it off.” He runs his tongue around his mouth for practice. This kid will never need a compass to draw circles in math class.

Once things get underway in the kitchen, the kid discovers that he loves to cook. It’s like working in a secret underground laboratory only without the eye of newt. His favorite part is cracking eggs. He’s been practicing his cracking while I don protective gear. Removing a Kevlar glove, I scrape all the spare egg slime into a bowl and plan an omelet for supper.

“Okay,” I call out in my best Martha Stewart voice. “What’s the first thing we do?”

“Eat the icing!” he chimes.

I stop and consider. It’s not too late to solo on this project. Although I might not bake like Betty Crocker, I can mix like a cement truck. But the principle of the thing still dangles like a participle above my head.

“Read the directions.” The doctor says the kid gets his ADD from me, so we both have a little trouble staying focused. Sometimes it takes the two of us, a psychologist with an advanced degree, and an egg-timer on a fast-track just to read to the end of an instruction sheet. For us, it takes a village just to boil water. We know from experience that water doesn’t get any more done when you boil it an hour that when you boil it five minutes. We’ve got so many electronic timers in our house to remind us of things, it sounds like mission control at launch time when they start going off.

“Preheat the oven,” he says slowly, underlining the words with egg yolk.

“Wrong. Wash your hands.” I cringe as he wipes egg yolk stripes down the legs of his jeans. Soap is on his list of personally banned substances.

Eventually a cake rises haltingly from the crumbs of dry ingredients.

“No, No, No! You do not beat the cake batter like it’s the last horse around the bend at Churchill Downs.”

He gazes up at me with puppy dog eyes. His face and chest is dotted with chocolate splashes. He looks like a Dalmatian. “It said to mix well.”

“Mix. Not flog. We want to blend the ingredients, not torture them.”

After taking out our inner hostilities on the mixture, we pour the batter into the pan.

“Do we have to put it all in?” The kid’s cake mix targeting computer has been activated as I can see by the tongue that is already swimming in circles around his mouth.

“We have to put enough in to make a cake. You barely covered the bottom of the pan.”

He licked the spoon. “You said it was a sheet cake.”

“Well you short-sheeted it. Pour the rest in.” He poured in another teaspoon of batter.


“We want a layer cake, not a pancake.” He eyed the batter, judging just how much would be left at bowl-licking time. I sensed mutiny hovering on the horizon.

“I have an idea. Why don’t you make cupcakes and eat one early?”

Later, I watched The Kid lounging in front of the television, licking the icing off of a tattered cupcake liner. He grinned, wiped chocolate off his chin with a grimy forearm, and gave me an enthusiastic thumbs up.

Sometimes the most important lesson is establishing priorities. I’m a slow learner, but this kid is a great teacher. Especially when the lesson involves chocolate cake.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

This Old House

Come join me at Stage of Life where I'm one of the new Editors. Now that Halloween is just around the candy corn, it's time to gather about the crinkley candy wrappers and peer into the haunted house where I grew up, long before I met the Captain and sailed away on the good ship Scuttlebutt. But watch your step.
There be cats about.
And witches in long black robes.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Fire Ant

Returning from the Store on a Summer Evening

Got some canned goods for the shelf
And some cookies for myself
Kosher dills stuffed in a jar
Packed the goodies in the car

Drove back home to roof and gable
Placed the groceries on the table.
Felt a bite where none should be
In self defense I turned to flee.

Suddenly I did a dance,
Screamed for help and dropped my pants.
Children paled and ran for cover.
I am NOT a fire ant lover.

Little ant, while climbing higher
Seeking targets for your fire
Found tender flesh left unattended
Took a bite; your life’s suspended.

Little ant, what made you think
A good idea would be to slink
Up past my knees and onward soar
Will you bite me? Nevermore.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tidbits for Tuesday - Potty-litical Correctness

On a good day, potty training is a little bit like defusing a bomb. Things must progress in exactly the proper order or specialists have to be called in to clean up the situation.

When I was potty training the kids, back in the days when bribery was an acceptable childcare tool, I kept a bag of peanut butter cups in my purse to diffuse the situation. Usually it only took one or two handfuls before I felt better about explaining to the store manager why his toilet display was full of. . .display. The kids caught on right away—but I gained twenty three pounds. And I was always thirsty,

During these days of political correctness, I listen to mothers crouched in the women’s room at the mall, explaining the pros and cons of remaining neat and tidy to tiny little legs swinging just below the door.

This was funny until I got to the stage of my life when one hearty sneeze could necessitate a wardrobe change, and the onset of hay fever might not only require new slipcovers for the sofa, but call for the purchase of a new car. There are some places even Stanley Steemer fears to tread.

I’m looking forward to the days when the parent becomes the child again and the kids are responsible for my publicly accepted hygiene. Hopefully when they escort me out in public they’ll remember to bring along a change of clothes.

And some peanut butter cups.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Extreme Halloween

Join me and the other Halloweeners over at An Army of Ermas. I have a new post up. It involves ferrets. And underwear.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Trick. . .or Else

The tough thing about Halloween when the kids get bigger is finding things for them to do. Once they get past the age when you can pop a set of fuzzy ears on their heads, draw on some whiskers, and attach a duster to their behind for a tail, things get tricky.

Like I told my oldest, “If you’re old enough to sue someone in small claims court for not giving you enough candy, you're too old to trick or treat.”

“But Mom, fun size isn’t fun for everybody.”

“Once you have to shave, people don’t want you coming up on their porch at night with a bag. They won’t give you candy. They’ll give you the business end of a scarecrow.”

“Okay, we’ll find something else to do. Say, do we have any toilet paper?”

It was either find them something to do or watch my grocery budget hanging from the Wilson’s tulip poplar.

The first year we went on a ghost walk. For a fee, you can wander around downtown with an extraearthly escort who points out all the places the “in” ghost crowd hangs out. We all had a great time, especially the kids who made bets among themselves as to who could scare me enough to make me wet my underpants in public. They considered the evening a success. I considered the evening on par with receiving an atomic wedgie and running a soaker hose up my pants leg.

The next year we took them to a nearby touristy spot for a downtown block party. The highlight was a trip to the General Store where they each got to fill a bucket with candy which we paid for by the pound. You can’t go by price, but I think Son One filled his bucket with diamonds and Son Two scooped up a bargain on petroleum futures. We lived on Vienna sausages and Ramen noodles for the next six weeks.

This year I have a great idea. I’m going to suggest a Halloween house party and show the kids my costume in advance. As a 50 year old woman raised on biscuits and gravy, the scariest outfit I could wear is a halter top and hip huggers.

The hardest part is coming up with a plan for next year that will top this one.

I’m thinking bicycle pants.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hippy is Not a Guy with Long Hair

I’m like Shakira--my hips don’t lie; even when threatened. Don't ask me how I know.

However, without much coaxing they’re willing to reveal every bite of doughnut I’ve had in the past ten years. Try to stuff them into a pair of pantyhose and they’ll also let on what happened to the last box of Thin Mints, the banana bread the neighbor brought when the Captain was flu-bound, and the six dozen zombie cupcakes intended for the third grade Halloween party.

My hips and I have never had a very good relationship. All I long for is to see daylight between my thighs one time before I die. On the other hand my hips fantasize of a day when we can coexist on the buffet deck of the Love Boat without me snarling every time a skinny chick sucks down a piece of cheesecake.

These days they’re spreading the dream to my chins, who have rebelled and resorted to disguising cupcake crumbs in their folds for a late night snack. I’m so nearsighted, I thought it was just stray whiskers. If I ever locate my bifocals, I intend to act sternly in regards to my personal appearance even if I have to read up on excavation techniques to dislodge a certain Hostess Twinkie that's been missing in action for several days.

When I was fifteen, I was all shin bones and shoulder blades. Now I’m fifty and I’ve discovered that love handles are the new hipbones. I used to sing “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes,” but now I have to admit that my head and toes lost touch long before I discovered the beauty of a long distance relationship. My knees are still active, though. They take every possible opportunity to go out. So these days, I’m more likely to sing “Shake, Rattle, and Roll” and hope I don’t lose anything important when I stand up.

Last week I wanted to buy a pair of hip hugger jeans, but I had to get three estimates on the location of my navel to determine the right size. I was going to wear them with a halter top just like the old days, but my kids hit me with a restraining order, the comic strip character Cathy came out of retirement to stage an intervention, and the government declared the entire Head to Toe area unsafe. I’m expecting FEMA to approve my application for natural disaster assistance any day now and Naval engineers to construct an overflow device to be worn around my waist.

In the meantime, I’m investing heavily in Krispy Kreme; specifically Cruellers, Raspberry Filled and Chocolate Glazed. Because even though hips don’t lie, maybe they can be bribed to keep the sugar coated truth to themselves.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

What Child Is This?

Welcome to the Absolute Write October Blog Chain. This month's theme is Masquerade. And I can't help wondering. . .Who is this kid?

Talk about blended families. Our family tree has more ex’s 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 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.

Follow the blog chain. There is no weakest link!

Auburn Assassin and direct link to her post

Hillary Jacques and direct link to her post

Aimee Laine and direct link to her post

Ralph Pines and direct link to his post

Veinglory and direct link to her post

Laffarsmith and direct link to her post

PASeaholtz and direct link to his post

Madelein Eirwen and direct link to her post

Amy Doodle <== YOU ARE HERE



Dolores Haze







Monday, October 4, 2010

My Evil Twin is Mother Earth

As a woman who can no longer figure her age without the aid of a scientific calculator, a sheaf of graph paper, and a Number Two pencil, I completely understand the concept of global warming. I've barely hurdled the half century mark and I don’t break out the sweaters and scarves unless ice is actually forming under my fingernails. Mother Earth has got me beat by a few decades, give or take a period of conquering hordes, a roving band of dinosaurs, and a Crusade or two. I figure tornado-force winds come from fanning herself to keep cool.

In my younger years I was the first in the neighborhood to break out the faux fur and firewood, but these days my polar cap is melting at a rapid rate, which is the only explanation I can find for my humid hairstyle and damp T-Shirt. If I had to hold the heat of all the people on Earth, there would be a spike in the number of new oceans, not to mention some even greater lakes, and not a small increase in tributaries. All of these new bodies of water would spring to life in the wee hours of the morning accompanied by a good bit of tossing and turning and 37 trips to the little room down the hall where I'll trip over the cat and flush my library book.

I don’t mind the aging process. The popping of my joints lends a lively reggae beat to keep me from napping at my desk in the afternoons, and I’ve become accustomed to wandering from room to room searching for a clue. But if Mother Earth is ahead of me in menopause years, I can understand why history repeats itself.

She lost her place and had to start over.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Booty, Booty, Who's Got the Booty?

Arrrr! This be the Cap'n speakin'! So batten yer hatches and listen up!

It do seem thar be many a lissome wench wanting a piece of me booty. And even one or two what seemed to be manly sorts -- I do assume ye be wanting the shoes fer yer own women-folk, but that be none o' me business, after all.

The crew gathered in the Cap'n's cabin and wrote down the names on identical slips o' the finest sticky-note parchment.

I chose me most favoritest pirate hat fer the drawing...

And dropped the names in, very dramatic-like, as if they was so many pieces of eight...

I got me mate Bo to help with the drawing.

Unfortunately, the scallywag is a bit of a slobbererer...

O' course, he did have the sense to be ever so slightly embarrassed when I pointed this out to 'im.

So I called upon me other crew members and volunteered (by stint o' him drawing the short straw) the one called Son Two, the Claw Hand o' Doom...

A hush fell o'er the whole ship as the Claw Hand o' Doom fumbled with the itty-bitty pieces of parchment....

Finally, we have a winner. And that winner be....

Plaid Earthworm, also known as Beth Bartlett! Now that be a fine piratey wench name! Send Lady AmyDoodle yer mailing address (Facebook message,, or a note in a bottle of rum), and we'll get the goods out to ye by the next postal dinghy!