Tag Archives: Marriage

The Nancy Drew Turder Mysteries


Nancy Drew Super POOch

Number One Son (age 13)  was thrilled to be offered a money-making opportunity to dog-sit, over spring break.  He is saving up for an iPod Touch, and this piece-of-cake gig was going to put him close to his goal.  Talk about easy money.  As you can see by the picture on the left, Nancy Drew is a tiny thing, coming in at a mere dozen pounds or less.  Her owners instructed Number One Son to feed her a small cup of kibble, twice a day and to be sure to let her out because she was nearly potty trained, but still had the occasional ‘oopsie’ when she was nervous (or in the throes of solving an important case, I maintain).

Nancy left her first “clue” in my closet.  On my freshly laundered sweat pants.  “Number One Son!” I called on the intercom.  “Get the pooper scooper and the Lysol and report to my closet!”

I heard him laugh as he gathered his ‘Mystery Solving Kit’.   Moments later, the clue was disposed of as Nancy watched.

“That was about a cup of kibble right there,” Number One chortled.  “No need to let her out now.”

Famous last words.

“Number One Son!” Number Two Sister called. “Get the kit and meet me at the piano!”  Nancy had left a Major ‘clue’ on Brahm’s Concerto in D Minor.  To be perfectly honest?  I think Number Two sis was delighted as she had never really liked that piece.

Number One groaned and scratched his head.  “Already?  Huh.  Must not have been done. ”

Famous last words.

“Number One!” Number Three Sister shrieked.  “Nancy has left a clue on my pillow and I’M GOING TO KILL YOU!”

Number One issued some guttural groans and headed for the kit.  Nancy was hot on his trail.  “How much poop can come out of such a tiny dog?”

Nancy gave him one of her famous toothy grins. The next clue was found in my office, behind the door.  Number One Son was growling now.  Before the end of the day, Nancy had given Number One Son and his kit at least a dozen clues and the Mystery was in full swing.

“I can’t figure out how one tiny little dog can make SO MUCH CRAP!”

Nancy simply gave him a mysterious, knowing, Mona Lisa style smile.  She knew. This was only day one.

Carolyn

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Filed under Dogs, Humor, Making Money, Marriage, Menopause, Motherhood

The Hunger Games make me hungry

Why do I suddenly want lemon bars?

My husband is out on a date with daughter number two and daughter number three.  The Hunger Games Movie.  Oh… yeah.  I came across the book on Amazon when I searched “Young Adult Books… that you can’t put down” and that title came up, over and over.   Hmm.  This was 4 years or so, ago.  Since I can never resist a book that cannot be put down, I ordered a copy and gobbled it up.  I had to wait on pins and needles for the next edition–Catching Fire– and when it came, I devoured it, and couldn’t wait until the third one.

When the hubby had to go  to Washington DC for his annual business trip, I sent him with Book One, telling a skeptical man,  “You won’t be able to put it down.”  When he got to DC, he called and told me to Fed Ex book 2.  This, from the man who is very, very, very, very, need I say…VERY picky about his reading material and only sanctioned my writing ability at book 35.

So, tonight, the girls got all dolled up and ordered tickets on-line, in a countdown ticket ordering frenzy, called their dad (several times) cooked him dinner, and breathlessly waited for him to arrive home to chauffeur them to the long, long, long-awaited movie.   As I write this, they are there, gobbling popcorn and screaming at the fabulous, heart-stopping drama.  I’m here with the boys, watching a something on Netflix and eating lemon bars and wishing I was there…but sometimes, a girl just wants to go out with dad.

I get that.

Carolyn.

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Filed under 35 symptoms of menopause, Humor, Marriage, Menopause, Motherhood

When it rains

Don't tell me you're going on ANOTHER business trip!?

Why is it, that the minute my husband leaves on a business trip, the kids start barfing and all the major appliances blow up?  You think I’m kidding, but sadly, no.  Every year, he flies to Washington DC to attend a trade-show and every year, our normally serene life becomes a seething cauldron of germs and stress and broken crap.  This month, while he was packing, I started to sound like James Earl Jones after a carton of Camel unfiltered cigarettes.  “THIS… IS CNNnnnaaaachhhooie!   Ahhhhuuuggghhh, NO!  NO!  THIS. CAN. NOT.  BE.  HAPPENING.”

“Have you taken any Airborne?”

Yeah.  Like Airborne is going to help ward off the demonic forces circling our house.  I’m not superstitious, but ever years it’s the same story.

This year, as he pulled out of our driveway and headed to the airport, the kids all started getting stomach cramps.  By the time he was on the plane, I was in bed, coughing up a lung–after all, I had two–and the kids were busily clogging the toilet.  In the spirit of letting me recuperate, they didn’t bother to inform me about the toilet issue until there was an inch of water on the bathroom floor.  There was only an inch because most of it was busily pouring down into the family room, via the ceiling.  No problem.  I am woman.  Here me roar.  THIS IS CNN.  Hack, cough, pant.  Kersnort.  I turned off the toilet valve and James Earl Jones hustled my cramping kids to the towel closet.  We mopped up the excess water and tossed the towels into the washer, which yes, you guessed it, sprung a leak and flooded the laundry room, which yes, you guessed it, I didn’t discover until the next morning.

After I mopped up the laundry room, I made a pact with the kids not to use the toilet or the laundry room for a week, then fell into bed and slept until the hubby came home.  On the bright side, the hubby is back, everything works, we all feel great and… new carpet and linoleum are being installed next week.

Next year, we’re all just going to go with him.

Carolyn

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Filed under 35 symptoms of menopause, Health, Humor, Marriage, Menopause, Motherhood

The Naked and the Dead

Eat your burgers and shut up! I'm trying to drive here!

Last week, I was tapped to chaperone a field trip for my middle and high school kids at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.  Because my hubby was out of town and I had a pretty serious case of bronchitis I wasn’t exactly behind the eight-ball on a bunch of stuff that was going on in our household.  So, I dragged it out of bed the morning of, loaded up on cold meds and headed out to OMSI to get me some learnin’ with my kids.  Luckily—or not—I was clueless, going in and, because of an ill-timed bathroom break, managed to elude the docent’s speech on the exhibit’s particulars.

These ‘particulars’ being, that the room was full of DEAD, NAKED PEOPLE.   MY EYES!  MY EYES!  Posed in bizarre positions with their petrified junk exposed for all the world (and my kids) to gape at.  If you haven’t heard of this exhibit by Gunther Von Hagen, Google it and you’ll get some idea of what I’m talking about.  Anyhow, to say we all learned a little something that day, was to put it mildly.

And you know?  I have to admit, the human body is beautiful and magical, even as an over-sized hunk of beef jerky.  But it got me to wondering about a lot of stuff while I was there.  Who were these people?  What would compel them to pose naked for eternity, in odd positions such as a soccer player or a gymnast or a figure skating couple?

Have we met?

Did they even know how to figure skate?  Or play the clarinet?  Or steer a pirate ship?  Had the two skaters, now entwined for posterity, ever met in real life?  Did they really think through the part about being…oh, I don’t know…NAKED?  For earthly eternity?

And, if I could get beyond the nudity, would I consider donating my cadaver to such an endeavor?  And, in what position would they pose me?

The most obvious, of course, would be me, behind the wheel of my minivan.  One hand fused to the steering wheel, the other, raised and lobbing fast food into the backseat at a bunch of naked, petrified teenagers.

You know, I don’t think I saw a tribute to menopausal motherhood in that exhibit…

That would be one definite way to leave my mark on the world.

Carolyn

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Filed under 35 symptoms of menopause, aging, Body World, Death, Gunther Von Hagen Body World, Marriage, Menopause, Motherhood

Mom getting bombed

This is what happens when your 13-year-old son gets interested in making home movies…

I’m so proud.

Carolyn

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Filed under 35 symptoms of menopause, Anxiety, Humor, Marriage, Menopause, Motherhood

How to embarrass your teen

During a recent trip to the dentist, my daughter asked, “Mom, are they gonna give me a shot today?” (She is terrified of needles).
I guess I need to take a twelfth step style inventory of my compulsive sarcasm, because I simply can’t seem to resist.
“For a teeth cleaning? They’ll probably put you under.”
“No. Really. Will it hurt?”
“Not really. Unless you object to being stripped naked, told to start running and then being shot at. With a Novocain cannon.”
“Mom. Seriously. Stop.”
“Okay. It won’t be quite that bad.”
“I hate getting my teeth cleaned. I just know this is going to be awful.”
“Now, now. It’s not the teeth cleaning that’s bad. It’s when they try to pick your nose that it gets a little strange.”
“Mom! People can hear you!”
“I’m just sayin’.”
Ah. Nothing like a good trip to the dentist to get me laughing.
Carolyn

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The Face(s) of Sixty

Multiple Choice

Pop Quiz:  What does 60 look like?

Still thinking?  Of course you are; it’s a trick question.  Nobody knows, because so few people have the chutzpah to age these days.  So who looks better–Cher, Diane Keaton or Joan Van Ark?

My husband was torn between Cher and Diane Keaton.  Not I.  For me, it’s Diane by a mile.  I look at her face and see a woman who has spent more time parenting her kids, taking photos, pondering the world and her place in it and making thoughtful movies than running to a plastic surgeon.  I see a woman with the guts to be fully herself and to challenge Hollywood to respect a woman over fifty.  Better yet, to simply acknowledge that there are women over fifty.

No wonder poor George Clooney is so confused about who his peer group is.

Thank you, Diane.  And a big shout out to Annette Bening and Jacqueline Bisset, too.

Wendy

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Filed under aging, Geroge Clooney, Golden Girls

Fun with Photos!

The other day, I was having some fun running some photos of myself through a Photoshop-esque type picture editor, you know, diminishing the age spots and such and adding a little virtual mascara.  Attempting to ignore the ravages of the ageing process for a few whimsical moments.  But, when all was said and done, my kids pointed out that the new, air-brushed versions of mommy weren’t true to form and that in the interest of total candor, I should show the “Before” pictures.

So, my younger son, who happens to be dangerous with an iPad in hand, took it upon himself to help me ‘get real’.

I started to worry—just a tad—when he rolled backwards on the bed and fell into a gasping fit that would have had me dialing 911 if it weren’t for his snorts and guttural shrieks of laughter as he served as my professional photographer.   Have I mentioned that I hate him?

Anyway, here, I give you the artist:  He’s eight.

Before his Cheerios:

 

 

 

 

 

 
Annnnnd, after:

Amazing, that airbrush, huh?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And now, there is me…  Before my coffee:

After a big cup of coffee and a bit of photo magic:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which one is the real me?  Depends on who you ask and what mood I’m in.  Anyway, to all this digital photo nonsense I say, “Pppfffffftttttt!”  Give me a Polaroid Instamatic any day.  Waiting for the picture to appear?  Now THAT was some good times.

Carolyn

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Filed under Marriage, Menopause, Motherhood, wrinkle erasers

HOW TO PICK YOUR HUSBAND

STOP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Of late, my 8-year-old has been giving a lot of thought to marriage—and more specifically, to finding a husband. To wit: When her friend turned down several snack options in a row, El sought me out.

“Mom, she is a PICKY eater.  She’s going to have trouble getting a husband if she eats like that.”

And later:  “I think it would be good to know geometry before you try to get a husband, because…” She pondered.  “Because then you’d both know it.”

Right-o.  I mean, I’m not sure that both people knowing the difference between an acute and an obtuse triangle would qualify as being “equally yoked,” but it couldn’t hurt.

El’s musings got me thinking.  I watch The Bachelor, I admit it.  And, yes, I disrespect myself in the morning, but I am fascinated by what young women and men assume will make a relationship work.  Two minutes into meeting the prize—AKA, the bachelor—beautiful, seemingly bright women are passionately kissing this virtual stranger and claiming they’re sure he’s the one.  By the end of the evening, these same girls are sobbing inconsolably, because the bachelor has given their coveted rose to somebody else

Well, duh.

To all past, current, and future ABC bachelorettes:  I’m going to give you a little advice, and you should take it, because I’m a romance novelist, and I know about happily ever afters.

When you meet someone you consider forever-after material, keep your lips clamped unless you are opening your mouth to talk.  To talk, ladies.  You will not know he’s the one for you simply because you feel goose-pimply after he kisses you and fifteen other girls at an alcohol-soaked cocktail party.  (I’d feel goose pimply, too.  Eew.)  This is romance 101: Save your kisses for someone who’s kissing only you.

From now on, I want you to heed the wisdom of my 8-year-old:  At the very least, find out if you both like geometry before you begin doodling your name together with his on a cocktail napkin.

I tell my daughter all the time, “Marry your best friend.”  At the moment she’s taking me literally and is considering walking down the aisle with one of her girlfriends.  “’Cause we talk about everything, and we could share the same wedding dress, and wedding dresses are very expensive, Mom.’”

I question the practicality of two women and one dress in the same wedding, but I appreciate that she’s budget-minded and, for the moment at least, wise enough to want to spend her life with someone she knows, likes and respects.

As for The Bachelor/ette, Too Hot Mamas must send the show to the front of its Doody Head line asap.  Of course, I suppose I have to walk it there myself.

Wendy

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Doody Heads

I have been hearing about Voodoo Donuts now, for several years as it is one of Portland’s weirder tourist attractions. Because we had a fieldtrip to go downtown to Powells Bookstore, my kids talked me into a sugar fest, first. After all, we needed the energy to prowl Powell, as it takes up an entire city block. When we got to Voodoo Donuts, there in showcase was a giant, chocolate covered, cream filled…phallus. And, of course, my 13-year-old son wanted that. It was huge and he’s in a growth spurt. Luckily, he’s still relatively innocent as to the crudities of the world and I’d like to keep it that way for as long as possible. So, when, eyes shining, he pointed to the confection, I had to intervene, sotto voce, and ask the girl behind the counter if there were any non-penis shaped donuts that still offered the same ingredients.

HOW SICK IS THAT?

Wendy, I feel for you with the whole Ben and Jerry’s Shweddy Ball ice cream outing you wrote about in your last post. And now, Cock ‘n Ball Donuts from Voodoo Donuts? Is this advertising tactic supposed to tempt me? Aside from sounding vaguely diseased, odorous and bug infested, I ask you, what is the world coming to? Have we become a society that cannot consume our food and entertainment without referencing our crotches? Wendy and I have been talking, and are starting a list of Doody Heads who feel that the only way they can make money is to drag our kids into the sewer. And, before you call me a prude, just know, I’ve been to the sewer. Used to live there. It made me, and those around me miserable. I’m a reformed sewer rat and trust me when I tell you, life is better without all the sleaze.

I’m mad as heck and I’m not gonna take it anymore. Ben and Jerry’s? DOODY HEADS! Voodoo Donuts, DOODY HEADS! Somebody out there, offer me a Hero sandwich with a side of Good ‘n Plenty.

Carolyn

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Filed under 35 symptoms of menopause, Humor, Marriage, Menopause, Motherhood, Writing

DUDE, THAT’S RUDE!

In an ongoing effort to transform our dinner table from a trough to a haven of grace and civilization, I recently purchased the books DUDE, THAT’S RUDE and TABLE MANNERS FOR KIDS (of all ages).

When gas is released during the meal and elicits cackles of hyena-like laughter from all present (except me, and kindly do not refer me to Walter, The Farting Dog; I’m not gonna laugh at flatulence when I have slaved over lasagna Florentine)…well, that’s when I think we’ve gone too far.

I decided to read aloud from DUDE over a dinner of spaghetti marinara.  I chose that entrée deliberately as our spaghetti feeds typically resemble the Brown Derby scene in I Love Lucy, wherein Lucy tries to manage giant balls of pasta or endeavors to suck up endless strands, and Ethel resorts to snipping the noodles with a pair of scissors.

With the book as a guide, I modeled twirling a manageable forkful lightly against my spoon.  Twirling—that’s fun for kids, right?

Apparently not.

“I can’t do it,” my daughter complained, letting her fork clatter to her plate.  “Not to be rude, but I don’t like spaghetti anyway.  May I be excused?”

“Of course not!  We just started eating.”

Tim patted her on the arm.  “Mom doesn’t want you to take a huge mouthful, that’s all.  Here, try this.”  He forked up a couple of strands, puckered and inhaled—with agonizingly slow glee—so that the spaghetti looked like live worms, attempting to wriggle away and splattering marinara along the way.  Now our daughter liked spaghetti.

I kicked him under the table.  “Let’s work on our napkins.  They should be placed on our laps–”

“I don’t have a napkin,” dear child pointed out, searching around her placemat.  “You never give us any.”

“All right.”  I got up, scrounged in a drawer and slapped a few wrinkled napkins on the table.  “From now on we’re using napkins, and they should be placed on our laps.”

My husband wiped his mouth delicately then tucked his napkin under his plate.

“Your lap,” I reiterated.

“It’s easier to get to this way.  You don’t have to reach below the table.”  He demonstrated.  “Besides, did you notice how I raised my pinkie when I wiped my mouth?”

He and our daughter proceeded to entertain each other by seeing who could keep their pinkies raised longest while performing various tasks, most of them not dinner related.  I felt a different finger trying to rise, but that would have been rude, so I practiced not speaking with my mouth full.

Flatulence and cackles followed.

It may look like I’m defeated, but I’m not giving up on those books or on us.  And if you think I’m being a stickler, invite my family to dinner sometime.  You’ll thank me.

Wendy

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Filed under Bathroom Humor, Children, Humor, Marriage, Motherhood, parenthood

Ghost Child

At our house, we have a ghost child. His name is Jimmy. Jimmy is a clumsy, stupid child with an evil sense of humor. Jimmy is the one who makes huge, horrible, malodorous poop in the toilet, and never flushes. Jimmy is the one who never, ever puts a lid back on anything and in fact, hides or throws the lid away. When he actually manages to clean up after himself, he perches the lidless jar/bottle/tub at the very edge of the refrigerator shelf and carefully closes the door so that when some unsuspecting innocent wants to make dinner, BLAM-O! Broken, splattered, wasted, whatever…everywhere. Jimmy is also the one who leaves the lights on in both the house and car, leaves the doors unlocked, leaves the heater on and the door wide open. Jimmy uses the last of the shampoo/toilet paper/dry towels without replacing them. He has broken a Wii, lost cell-phones and iPods, screwed up our computers, scratched DVD’s…If it’s costly and irritating, you can be sure Jimmy did it, because none of my perfect darlings would ever be so dastardly. Or so they tell me.

It puzzles me, how Matt and I managed to raise 5 relatively perfect teenagers, and yet put up with the boorish behavior of this ill-mannered ghost. If we simply got rid of Jimmy, imagine how seamless our lives would be!

In fact, as I list my grievances against Jimmy, I am experiencing a bit of a hot flash. I think I’ll just run to the store for some garlic and a silver bullet. Invite Bill Murray and Dan Ackroid over for dinner… I’ll let you know how it goes.

Carolyn

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Filed under 35 symptoms of menopause, Children, Humor, Marriage, Menopause, Motherhood

A Fish Tale. The End.

You learn a lot about people when they are grieving for a fish.

After one-and-a-half years, at least nine lives and more medicine than I have ingested in fifty years on this planet, our betta, Bluestar, has gone to his reward.

When I say “our betta,” I mean, of course, the bowl-housed betta for which my daughter begged and pleaded and, not unpredictably, swiftly pronounced “kinda boring,” thereby bequeathing his care to my husband and me.  We thought he was neat-o.

Bluestar’s passing was not unexpected.  We had anticipated this moment for six months, which was when Bluey began to perfect his dead fish float.  Tim or I would wake up and shuffle to his bowl to feed him, only to find our blue-finned friend lying motionless on his side near his heater.  We’d gather the family around the bowl, say a prayer and plan the funeral.  Before we could decide which spot in the yard was most suitable for his final resting place, however, Blue would leap from his coma, take a crazed victory lap around the bowl and come to stare at us, his fins fluttering in what appeared to be piscine glee.

“Hey, lookit me!  Didn’t I look like a dead fish? Didn’t  I? Hahahaha!  So what’s a guy got to do to get a meal around here?”

As the months went on and Blue’s impersonation of Dead Mr. Limpet began to last longer and longer, he was less able to wring sympathy from his mourners.  Some of them, anyway.  Tim decided to hold his tears until we figured out a way to take a fish’s vitals, though he must be credited for continuing to search for new and better fish medications.

Carolyn, to whom I have turned for consolation and advice innumerable times in our long and enduring friendship is, I am sorry to say, crap at comforting the bereaved when they are grieving a fish.  Oh, yes you are, Carolyn.

Her kids had fish for years, and she gave Bluestar two of his favorite toys, so naturally I would appeal to her in times of concern:  “I think Bluestar is sick.  He’s growing white fuzz balls on his fins!  What do I do?”

“Take him to the vet at Wal-Mart.  Hahahaha.”

“I didn’t know there were vets at Wal-Mart.”

“Oh, sure.  You take in the sick fish, and they give him back–better than ever. Hahahahaha!”

“Where are the vets?  In back of the pet section?  I’m not sure our Wal-Mart has a veterinarian.”

“Wendy, just take the fish to Wal-Mart.  Your betta will live for years.  Hahahahahaha!”

“Carolyn, honestly, I don’t think our Wal-Mart—“

She made the sound of a toilet flushing.

Oh.  My.  God.  Without even a proper burial!

When Bluestar’s eyesight began to wane and he regularly over- or undershot his food, I bought a hand feeder.  Nifty little gadget, but it takes time and a lot of patience to get the hang of it, and Blue, as it turned out, didn’t have enough left of either.

Ironically, Carolyn was with me when I discovered, for the last time, Bluestar on his side.

Carolyn peered into the bowl.  “He’s faking.”

“He is not, not this time.”  I felt my nose begin to tickle.  “This is different.  This time he’s at the bottom of the bowl.”

“Wendy,” Carolyn’s lovely eldest daughter pointed out quite gently, “fish float to the top when they’re dead.  He’s probably just sleeping again.”  She said nothing about Wal-Mart, for which I bless her.

“Thank you, honey.”  I nodded.  “But Bluestar always did things his own way.  I’m sure he’s passed on this time.”  And he had.

After we buried the little guy, disinfected his bowl, toys and heater and packed up his belongings and meds up to give to some other family embarking on fish ownership, I began to contemplate our various responses to Blue’s brief-ish life.  I wonder if the way we each reacted reflects the fact that lately we’ve all given some thought to dying?  Maybe this is how we’re going to treat our own elder years, particularly when we come to the point where our mortality seems more imminent than philosophical.

Tim will be proactive but stoic.  Carolyn will request that her children set her off on an ice float like an ancient Eskimo, and you will hear the sound of her laughter echoing on the air.  I will be propped up with pillows, surrounded by costly supplements, squinting at my laptop and dangerously raising my cortisol levels as I Google alternative treatments.

It bears some thought.  Watching Bluestar live taught me how to enjoy life even when my bowl is smaller than I would like it to be.  Now his death is pretty instructive.

Our daughter, by the way, did tear up when she realized that her pet, the one she had chosen so painstakingly from all the many containers of bettas at the pet store, was gone for good.  “Is he really dead this time?”

“Yes, sweetie.”

“Do we have to get rid of his body?”

“Yes.”

“Is it gonna stink?”

“Not if we do it soon.”

“Can we have a funeral?”

“Absolutely.”

“And then get pizza?”

“You bet.”

“Goody!”

 

R.I.P. Bluestar

 

 

–Wendy

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Filed under Death, Humor, Pet fish

Boys are from Mars

Where is my nose?

     My 8-year-old son allowed his 13-year-old sister to paint his nails.  Why?  Wondered what they’d look like with red/brown polish.

Unfortunately, we have no polish remover.

Now, he has a sleepover date with the kids next door and no way to get the polish off his nails.  So, never one to be daunted by life’s inconveniences, he invents a story that will explain the rogue color on his fingertips and retain his masculinity.

“I’ll just tell ‘em that it’s blood.  You know, from picking my nose.”

I’m just so proud.

Carolyn

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Filed under 35 symptoms of menopause, Marriage, Menopause, Motherhood, The Bad and the Ugly

Teen Slanguage

Jeff Foxworthy’s Redneck Dictionary offers a crash course in southern slang.  Here are a few of his examples that got me to thinking about writing a book of my own:

bay • ou (bi´-ü), v. and n. to purchase for another. “I just walked right up to her and said, ‘Hey darlin’, lemme bayou a drink.’
doo • dle (düd´-el), n. and v. a male person and his predicted actions. “Don’t even look at him, ’cuz that doodle kill you.”
tor • toise (tort´-es), v. and n. to have imparted knowledge or wisdom to a group. “That stupid teacher never tortoise nothin’.

As handy as this book no doubt is, a conversation I overheard in my car the other day has me guessing more American households could use a Teen Slang Dictionary

I thought I’d begin with two phrases that initially had me stumped:

1.  Annie Slike and 2.  iMall Ike.

Translated:

1.  “And, he said.”  (Literally, “And he is like.”)

2.  “I said.”  (Literally, “I am all like.”)

Used in conversation:

iMall Ike “Where?”

Annie Slike  “There?”

iMall Ike “Okay.”

Annie Slike  “See ya.”

We welcome your additions to Toohotmama’s Teen Slang Dictionary,  cuz iMall Ike excited about this project, no waddam een?

Carolyn

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Filed under 35 symptoms of menopause, Children, Humor, Marriage, Menopause, Motherhood

We’re Driving Now!

Is this a One Way Trail?

As Wendy mentioned in yesterday’s blog, we are huge fans of Ree Drummond’s Pioneer Woman Blog.  That big old ranch and the simple life-style… I always wanted to be a pioneer woman as a kid.  Live in a covered wagon, you know, one of them Prairie Schooners.  Yeehaw.  Until I got in one once and couldn’t find the electrical outlet.  How do you plug anything in?  Discovered I’m a modern girl at heart.  With one exception.
TEACHING MY DAUGHTER TO DRIVE.
If only I was teaching her to drive a Prairie Schooner.  If you were a fly on the windshield of our car, this is what you’d see/hear on any given day lately:
Me, praying:  “Our Father, who art in heavennnn Eeeaaauuuuggggghhhh!!!!!  Loook out!”
“Mom!  What?”
“Did you not see the people on the sidewalk, there?”
“Yes!  I saw them!”
Me, panting:  “Good.  Just checking.”
“Sheesh.  Relax.”
“Sure.”  Deep breaths.  “Okay.  Get off their lawn and back onto the road.  Okay.  No, really, that’s okay.  You’re fine.  Just get out of their living room and back on the road.  Oh, dear Jesus, forgive me for every sin I committed since my last driving session with my daughter, Lord.  Forgive me for those words I uttered in that intersection back there… Mother of Godzilla!!!    LOOK WHERE YOU ARE GOING!”
“Mom!  Chill!  I’m in control!”
“And, Lord, should I die, soon…”
“You’re really not helping, Mom.”
Darling, have I mentioned that we are not in England?  Nor are we in Australia.  No, no, darling, we are in the good old United States, where we drive on the right side of the road.  The Right.  The RIGHT!  The OTHER RIGHT!”
“Isn’t this a one way street?”
Auuuuuuuuuggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhooooooooooiiiiiieeeeeee!”
I bet you always wondered how to spell that guttural sound you make just before you die in a thunderous ball of fire.  I’m pretty sure that’s it, give or take a few h’s.
Ah, for the days of the 2 horse-power covered wagon.  Ree, we think you’re on to something.
Carolyn

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Filed under 35 symptoms of menopause, Marriage, Menopause, Motherhood, Pioneer Woman

Pregnant with number 20

I know a lot of people think Michelle Duggar is a tad over the top by having baby number 20 at age 45.  But, as an older mother of only 5 children, I have to say I stand in awe.  I, too, had an infant when I was 45.  I gained 35 pounds with him, and he was adopted.  After the first week, I crawled out of the house and bought the book, What to Expect the First Year.  I was in peri-menopause and couldn’t remember what I was supposed to expect.  The book said, “Should be able to hold head up by week three.”   Uh…no.  I couldn’t do that until he was six weeks, and even then I needed help.  At week five, it stated, “Should be able to focus on, and pick up a raisin.”  Still working on that one, and it’s been 8 years, although I have mastered mini-Snickers.

After he was born, I decided to skip the whole infant thing altogether with my next bundles of joy, figuring I’d just go out and get a couple of darlings that were already able to fix their own breakfast, so we adopted through foster care.  Michelle, seriously, give it a shot.  It’s super rewarding and much easier on the body.

I look at Michelle and Jim Bob’s family and wish I had heard of them back when I was first starting my family.  First of all, they name all their kids with names beginning with the letter “J”.  As an older mom, I think this is brilliant.  I can’t even remember my name on most days so when my little darling holds up a drawing of a blob, I can boldly say, “Why J.J.! That’s an amazing…thing you drew there!”  Secondly, from experience, I can tell you that simply getting my hair combed on any given soccer or piano day is a major accomplishment and Michelle looks awesome.  If I’d birthed 20 kids, I’d look like Jaba the Hut’s ugly step-sister.  Thirdly, the fact that she has any kind of libido left at all is a testament to her supreme dedication to grow her family.

Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar take a lot of flack for raising and taking care of and an interest in every single one of their beautiful children.  I know a lot of parents who only have one kid who couldn’t tell you where they were or what they have written on their Facebook pages.  Would I recommend giving birth to 20 children?  Heck no!  But would I want to be a part of their family?  I’m waiting for them to discover adoption.  And, when they do, I want to be first in line.

Carolyn

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Filed under 35 symptoms of menopause, Marriage, Menopause, Motherhood, Weight gain

BIG, BAD DOG. The End.

When last we parted, Buster the Giant Foster Dog had made clear that he didn’t like the new human mommy the shelter had chosen for him.  The day before I was supposed to wrestle him into the car to go home with said mom, I awoke in the wee hours of the morning certain that I was participating in a crime against the big, sweet, lovable  lug. Kinda like giving Orphan Annie to Miss Hannigan.

Unable to sleep, I prayed, turned on my computer and, voila–an email whose subject line read, “Do you still have the dog?” I didn’t know the sender, but several days earlier, I had sent an e-mail describing Buster to a dog-loving friend of mine.  Apparently, a gentleman who was fixing her computer “accidentally” read the e-mail and felt a months-long depression lift.  Get this:  He’d had a 100 lb pooch who had sat faithfully with him while he underwent chemotherapy.  Man and dog had adored each other and when the dog developed cancer and died the following year, the man was devastated.  Nothing seemed to cheer him up…until he saw the e-mail.

Well.

I phoned them first thing the next morning.  Certain this was Buster’s true family, I raced to the shelter, where the woman interested in adopting our  convalescent pal was supposed to be filling out her paperwork.  Ticking off the shelter and the woman more and more with every word I spoke, I nonetheless convinced them to give other Buster to the other family. Then I filled out the paperwork on the new family’s behalf (they lived five hours away), phoned them with the great news that Buster was officially theirs, and we had a tearful celebration on the phone.

All this took one and a half hours, during which Buster had been home alone.  He’d been home alone before.  This time he must have sensed something, because…

Oh, holy God in heaven.

In that exciting, celebratory hour-and-a-half, Buster, who had been resting in his usual tongue-protruding stupor when I left, had managed to rouse himself and rip my house to shreds.  Literally shreds.  Shredded curtains in the kitchen, living and dining rooms. (I hated those curtains, anyway.)  Shredded giant picnic basket containing my shredded knitting.  At some point he had climbed onto the kitchen counter and tore the café curtains, rod and all, down from the above-the-window sink.  Cushions had been removed from chairs.  A baby gate was thrashed.  Buster had been busy.  On the bright side, he was obviously feeling more energetic.

On the down side, I had to phone his new family to apprise them of this behavior, plus face my husband whose trust and faith in my judgment I had begged (yes, I’d actually said “have faith in my judgment”) prior to bringing Buster home in the first place.

Buster’s new family was easy:  “Oh-ho, our Bob did the same when he first arrived.  Managed to chew an entire 6 foot fence.  It’s to be expected.  Then they settle right in.”  (And do what?  Eat the drywall?)  Whatever, they wanted Buster just as soon as they could get them.  My friend Su and I loaded Buster (along with about half a pound of bacon as a bribe) into the back of my Outback and off we went. Busty didn’t make a sound.  With the exception of a brief round of projectile drooling (I hope it was drool), he behaved like a perfect gentleman.  If the drive went well, the hand-off to the new family was a moment of true heart, warmth and inspiration.  Hallmark for canines.  I left feeling mighty grateful to have been part of the moment.

My husband kissed me when I got home.  “You did a good thing.  I’m proud of you.  It would be nice to take a break now from fostering dogs.  For a while.  Okay?  I know you still miss Chauncie terribly, but–”

“Sure, honey, sure.  You’ve been so understanding and so tolerant of all the dogs coming in and out of here.”

“Well, it’s all over now.  We’re done fostering?”

“All done.”

He hugged me.  “I’m not going to miss the dog hair.”

“Me either.  I am finished with shedders.”    Buster’s hair had blown out in black tufts that clung like webbing.

So, we returned to our peaceful, dog-less lives.  I stared at photos of my dear Collie girl, the one whose passing had kicked off the round of foster dogs so I wouldn’t have time to cry.  I cried a lot that afternoon, though, missing her gentle licks, the way she cocked her head as she tried to understand her people’s silly babble, the charming way she protected babies.  There would never be another being as kind and sweet and easy. …

So why wait?  I had agreed not to get another foster dog.

Within a week, I had Autumn , who came to us from the Humane Society.  There was a sign on her cage that said, VERY NERVOUS LITTLE DOG.  Little?  Her paws were enormous, with extra toes.  Nervous was correct, though:  She was so scared in the shelter that she wouldn’t stand up in the run.  As for cars?  Pooor baaaaaby.   Such a shy, needy dog.

Who knew she’d hate cats?  Or weigh 65 pounds so quickly?  and no one mentioned that she’d blow her coat twice a year and shed continuously.  I didn’t know.  Honest.

“I’m not walking her,” Tim said when I brought Autumn home.  “I’m not  feeding her or buying Frontline or sweeping four times a day.  This is all yours.”

I agreed, hugging my new bff.

That was five years ago.  Tim has never fed her (anything but leftover roasted chicken, meatloaf and spaghetti…).  He doesn’t buy Frontline; it’s true.  When he sweeps, he just happens to get some of her hair along with the other stuff into the dustpan, and he only walks her because I look like I could use a break.  As for playing with her, I wish he’d rein it in; he keeps her up way too late.

Husbands, wives and pets…gotta love us.

Wendy

P.S.  Buster and his family are still doing great!

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Filed under Dogs, Humor, Marriage, Writing

Just Write It

Writing a novel with a tight, two month deadline with 5 kids 3 dogs and 1 husband in the house leads to some interesting conversations:

“Mom!”

“Not now, darling, I’m in the middle of killing someone.”

“Honey, where are my car keys?”

“I…uh…huh?  What are sharkies?”

“What’s for dinner, mom?”

“I don’t know.  What did you make?”

I have written on a plane, I have written on a train, I have written when I’m hot, I have written on the pot.

I have written during a meal, I have written as I deal, I have written as I walk, I have written as I talk, I have  written as I sleep, what I write has made me weep.

What I write has made me glad, what I write has made me sad, but what does all this mean to you?  It means it’s something You can do!

You can do it when you’re busy, you can do it in a tizzy. You can write it as you fight, you can write it late at night.

Write that book, just write it now.  Take a look, I’ve shown you how.

There is no excuse as you can see, for not writing.  Just ask me.

Carolyn

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Filed under 35 symptoms of menopause, Humor, Marriage, Menopause, Motherhood, Writing

Whale…er…weight watcher’s trip on Maui?

This is my favorite swimsuit ever!

So I get to Maui and the three Barbie dolls I travel with have all joined Weight Watchers.  Have I mentioned that one of them used to be (and still could be) Miss Kansas?

Then it dawned on me.  The reason I’m shaped like the cabbage patch kid and am wearing a swim Burka that I had imported from Babylon, is because I’M NOT ON WEIGHT WATCHERS!  Duh!  So, my slim and trim and ever-so-energetic, bikini wearing friends DRAG ME TO A MEETING.  While I’m on vacation.  So, now there is much guilt involved with every chocolate covered macadamia nut I stuff into my face.  Did you know that there are 6 points in only 4 lousy, teensy-weensy candies?  And did you know that there are an entire days worth of points in only one box?

Oops.

So, Wendy.  Before I fly George up for your Birthday bash…oh, the plans I have for you…I’m going to drop a few pounds.  Thankfully, I have eaten all of the Mauna Loa candy, so that’s out-of-the-way.

And, to make things a little more interesting, my daughters are going to ‘race’ me to the finish line.  They jumped onto the Weight Watcher’s Band-wagon with gusto and have already lost 2 pounds each.  I have lost none.  But then again, slow and steady wins the race.

Check out my new diet page (hopefully up by this weekend) and read what the girls have to say about living with me on a diet!  Big, big fun.

Aloha,

Carolyn

 

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Filed under 35 symptoms of menopause, Geroge Clooney, Humor, Marriage, Maui, Menopause, Motherhood, Travel, Weight gain, Weight Loss

Wendy’s big date with… George Clooney!

Dough boy, George?

Happy birthday, hot mama!  You have finally caught up with me and George, age-wise!  As you may have ascertained by now, I am arranging a special outing for you, with Georgie-Porgie-Puddin-Pie
Cloonster to celebrate your milestone. I guess you could say that this is not really your gift, as much as it is Georgie’s.  It’s high time that he experiences some superlative conversation with a seasoned  woman of a certain age and not the bimbo-prattle he’s used to.

And, what do I have planned for your Mystery Dream Date?

First, I’m going to fashion a gourmet meal for you both from products made by our favorite company in the universe (are you listening, John Lilly?) PILLSBURY!  I have perfected an appetizer, main course and dessert from the dough boy’s spectacular array of delicious and easy to prepare products!

Then, after a sumptuous repast, I will put you both in my mini-van (aka: THE SKOW) and drive you to the Red-Box to pick out the movie of your choice.  Red vines and popcorn are on me!  (Score points by picking something starring George and not your husband, the lesser known, but not lesser talented actor, Tim Blough, Wendy).

After the movie, it’s time for Yoo-hoo and PILLSBURY cake with PILLSBURY frosting adorned with fifty candles!  Make a wish, darlings!  (Wendy, this would be a good time to wish that we finally WIN the PILLSBURY BAKE OFF!!!  Because, hell-freaking-oh, we aren’t getting any younger).

Then, Wendy, I really need you to have some intellectually-stimulating conversation with this misled boy, who seems to think that women cease to exist after they are 21.  Show him some sparkling banter, dazzle him with your brilliance, keep him on the edge of his seat with your wisdom and charm!

Then, like a salmon at spawning time, we’ll turn him loose and hope for the best.

I’ll be on hand, the entire evening to document every moment in pictures and post them here to share in an exclusive blog with our lucky
readers!

Hang tight, darling.  I’ll be home from celebrating your birthday on Maui soon to gather George and pick you up for your whirlwind evening.  In the mean time, Ha-ah-ah-uu-ah-moo-moo-ah-poo-poo (as they say here on the islands) and many more!  (The poo-poo part becomes very important, once you’re past 50…)

Aloha, girlfriend, welcome to the 50’s!!

Carolyn

 

 

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Filed under 35 symptoms of menopause, Geroge Clooney, Humor, Marriage, Maui, Menopause, Motherhood

Wendy says good-bye to her 40’s…

Wish you were here!

This morning, I got a message from Chase on my cell phone:  Credit Fraud Alert!   Did you attempt to steal $160 on your credit card?  If yes, reply “yes”.  If no, please reply “no”.

Are they serious?  Why on earth would I admit to trying to steal money if I had stolen it?  Why on earth would I admit to trying to steal the money, if I hadn’t stolen it?

That’s what I call a lose/lose kind of question.

Because I am in Maui to celebrate the birth of my dear sister/friend, Wendy (yes, it’s that time of year again) I went to the store and bought a weeks worth of groceries and supplies, but neglected to tell my credit card company I was on the move.

Anyway, today is Wendy’s last day of being in her 40’s.  Tomorrow, she moves into her 50’s with the rest of us.  I’m just so sorry she isn’t here for the big party I throw for her every year.

Tomorrow, I’m going to announce my amazing gift to her so you’ll want to stay turned!

Aloha

Carolyn

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Filed under 35 symptoms of menopause, Birthdays, Marriage, Maui, Menopause, Motherhood, Travel

BRISKET TIME WITH CAROLYN

As it’s Tuesday, it is Coffee Time With Carolyn, but Carolyn is in Hawaii, turning golden brown, which somehow made me think of brisket.  So, in lieu of Carolyn I give you my mom’s recipe.  Everyone loves it, just like they love Carolyn.

Serve this with kasha varnishkas.  If you’re not Jewish or have otherwise been deprived of kasha varnishkas and brisket gravy up to now, you don’t know what you’re missing.

For a vegan substitute, which does not remind me  of Carolyn, try tempeh or frozen then defrosted extra-firm tofu.  (Freeze the whole block, defrost, squeeze out the extra water, cut into cubes. )  Add a few tablespoons of olive oil to the gravy for richness. And now…

BRISKET TIME WITH CAROLYN

2 1/2 lbs brisket

2 small-medium onions, chopped.

2 large parsnips, sliced.

4 large carrots, sliced.

4 garlic cloves (more if you love it)

salt to taste (1-2 tsp)

2 bay leaves

3/4  C ketchup

2 T Worcestershire sauce

1/2 C beer

2 C of water (or enough so that liquid covers the brisket half-way up)

Preheat oven to 375

Put all ingredients in a heavy pot with a good lid.  Cook for 2 hours.  Check the brisket and add enough water to make liquid come half-way up the brisket again, if necessary.  Replace cover and continue to cook another 45 minutes to 1 hour, until meat is tender.   You can put the brisket, gravy and veggies in the fridge and eat them the next day, because this tastes better and better the longer it sits.

Your brisket will be as brown and gorgeous and will make people as happy as Carolyn.

Wendy

 

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Filed under Cooking, Writing

Bad Dog!

All right, so where was I?  When last we left my story about Husbands, Wives and the Pets They Divorce Over, I had just brought home Rusty, the impossibly tall shepherd/giraffe mix who loved me to distraction.

Remember, now, he was a foster dog only, on leave from his stay at a no-kill shelter due to a leg injury and the fact that the other big doggies  were being unkind to him.

So, even though my husband had requested (picture a 5-foot 11-inch male walking toward me on his knees with his hands in prayer position) that I wait one year after the passing of my beloved collie girl before I grace our home with another canine, I figured a foster dog in need would be okay.

I introduced my husband to Rusty.

“What is that?” he asked.

“It’s Rusty.  He’s sweet and injured and in need.”

“Where is he injured?”

“His left front leg.”

“He’s not limping.”

“I know.  He masks his pain.”

My husband invoked the name of the Lord several times.

“How is Rusty with cats?” Tim asked, though, honestly, I have no idea how he got any sound out with his jaw so tight.

I recalled what the gal at the shelter had told me:  Dunno.

“Honey, look at him,” I said.  “You can tell he’s a gentle being.  A gentlemanly dog.  He’s innately calm.  And our cat is used to dogs.  Besides, he’s injured.  He’ll be resting a lot.”

“He doesn’t look injured.”

“That’s because he—“

Tim waved his arms, and I took this as a signal to quit while I was ahead.

So.  Rusty and cats.  Well, we’ll never know for sure how he would have behaved as our cat took one look—way up—at him and decided that summer was a fine time to camp outside.

My daughter and I (Rusty loved her, too) got the dog settled in, and everything seemed to be going quite well until Tim went down to the basement.  He was only down there about fifteen minutes, but that was enough time for Rusty to display his short-term memory disorder.  Rusty and I were in the kitchen when Tim started up the stairs.  I was facing away from the basement, but a sudden and intense growling made me whip around.

Tim was frozen on the staircase, stopped by Rusty whose every hair seemed to be standing on end, his impressive teeth bared and his growl most sincere.  The dog meant business.  No one was getting up those stairs.

“I think he doesn’t recognize you,” I explained above the snarls.  “Try to look more like yourself.”

“Are you out of your mind?”  Tim looked from me to the dog.  “That dog goes back to the shelter tonight.”

“But the other dogs intimidate him.”

I wish I could describe Tim’s face when I said that.

Anyway, Rusty was returned to the no-kill shelter where he quickly found a permanent home with someone who appreciated his body-guarding skills.

“No more foster dogs,” I swore/lied when I told Tim I was still going to volunteer.  “I’ll just walk the dogs.  Little ones.  With no teeth.”

And I did.  I walked a schizophrenic Jack Russell terrier, a one-eyed obese beagle cross whose head was bandaged from the fight he’d started with another inmate (probably Rusty), and a sweet elderly mutt that liked to stop every few feet and look at me as if to say, “Who are you?  How did we get here?  What are we doing?  Are we walking?”

And then came Buster.  Oh, Buster.  Buster was a BIG DOG.  In fact, he had the biggest canine head I’ve ever seen.  And big…something else, too.  I mean, really impressive.  He’d been recently neutered, but instead of deflating as expected, his…um…area formerly known as testicles had actually increased.  Lest you think I exaggerate, on one of our walks (he walked just fine, thanks) a car stopped a few yards ahead of us.  The driver turned around, pulled up alongside and exclaimed, “Are those real?!”

Please.  Assuming I knew where to get fake canine ones, why would I?  And yet this was not the only time the question was posed.  Buster started conversations.

It turned out that Buster was in need of a temporary medical foster home.  Honest.

To be continued…

Wendy

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Filed under Dogs, Humor, Marriage

A Marathon Runner Delivers a Baby

I’m jogging in place!

When I first saw this headline, I thought, “Isn’t that nice?  Some good Samaritan gave up their dreams of victory to stop and help a pregnant woman deliver a baby.”

Wrong.

The Marathon Runner had the baby.  She ran during contractions.  At 39 weeks.  Here is a snippet of this insanity:

Amber Miller, 27, had competed in two races while 17 weeks pregnant. But on Sunday she combined two major events in one day. Running while 39 weeks pregnant, she finished the marathon in 6 hours and 25 minutes, then gave birth to a baby girl about seven hours later. Miller said she didn’t feel any ill effects from her 6-hour and 25-minute effort during the marathon, except sore feet and a few blisters.  She set an easy pace, running two miles, walking the next two — finishing three hours off her personal best for a marathon. “I don’t feel anything from the marathon, but I do feel what you’d expect after giving birth,” she said during a Monday press conference.

Hearing this ruined my day.  Now, complaining about a hangnail doesn’t seem like a good enough excuse to skip out on exercising.  Apparently, unless I’m in the throes of labor, I have no excuse.  And, because labor is a thing of the past for me, I suppose any excuse that would put me in the hospital now…doesn’t cut it.  Thanks a lot, Amber.

Heart failure?  Shake it off.

Stroke?  Just do it.

Amputation.  No pain, no gain.

Amber, it’s people like you, who make the rest of us look bad.

Folks, it should also be noted, that Amber ran a marathon with her other two pregnancies, but only up till 17 weeks.

So, Amber, we can see that you are in the mode to stretch yourself.  What’s next? You have the baby at the half way mark, strap the kid into a jogger and press on till the finish?

And…how would you top that?  Give birth to your twin grandchildren during a marathon?
I wouldn’t put it past you.

Carolyn

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Filed under 35 symptoms of menopause, Children, Cussing, Exercise, Fifteen Minutes of Fame, Health, Humor, Marriage, Menopause, Motherhood, parenthood

Husbands, Wives And The Pets They Divorce Over

 Carolyn and I have lots in common, as you know.  One big thing:  We lie about pets.

Over the years, the fibbing has multiplied along with the number of four-legged and finned creatures in our homes.

At the time we sold our first books–to the same publisher, for the same line—Carolyn and I also both had beloved dogs that kept us company as we wrote.  She had Bob Barker, a giant golden retriever, as friendly as all get out, and I had my Chauncie, who, despite being given an English butler’s name by her previous owner, was a gentle female collie mix.

When our dear companions passed away, the similarity between Carolyn and me became quite pronounced:  We realized we were both married to the same man.

“Do not get another dog right away,” Carolyn’s husband requested.  “We have kids and bills.  I loved Bob, but let’s take a break.”

I believe that at the exact same moment and in the exact same pleading tone, my man said, “Please wait a year before you bring anything else live into this house.  You know I loved that dog, but the shedding was unbearable.  Let’s leave everything as it is.”

Well.  Naturally, we agreed, because we care about our husbands’ needs, and they had always embraced our pets with love (eventually).  Waiting was the least we could do.

Carolyn waited one week. I held off nine days, which felt like a year.

The other thing Carolyn and I have in common:  We don’t like to grieve.

I contend our husbands must have known, deep down, that “no pets” was a mandate we would rationalize our way around sooner rather than later, because they added admonitions, and you don’t do that if you think the original request is going to be honored.  Right?

Their stipulations were as follows.

From Carolyn’s husband:  Housebroken.  Nothing large.  The dog must be spayed and have celebrated its five-year birthday before its paws cross the threshold.

From my husband:  Under forty pounds.  Housebroken.  No shedding.  Not a barker.  No shedding.  Doesn’t chase cats.  No shedding.  Won’t eat us out of house and home.  No shedding.

Carolyn got a puppy.  Adorable.  A golden retriever like Bob, destined to enter the Guinness Book of World Records as largest golden in history.  Not quite housebroken what with being under ten weeks old and all at the time of his adoption, but he figured out the difference between the Berber carpet and the acre of backyard behind the house.  Eventually.

I went to a local animal rescue.  And because there were no dogs available matching my husband’s requirements, I decided to soothe my grieving heart by volunteering.

Enter Rusty.  A German shepherd-Akita cross who required a place to stay while he recuperated from a leg wound.  Rusty couldn’t “relax,” apparently, with other males around (he was very sensitive), and this hindered his recuperation.  Rusty was a big loverboy in the shelter.  He gave me his tennis ball then rested his forehead against my stomach.  Yes, he was tall and a little bit over forty pounds (approximately sixty pounds over), but how could I turn my back?

“Is he safe with cats?” I asked, heeding at least one of my husband’s requirements.

“Dunno,” they said.

Good enough.

I mean, he was such a sweetheart.  Plus, it was only temporary, and I defy anyone else to guess that Rusty had rage issues….

Part Two Next Thursday.

Wendy

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Filed under Dogs, friendship, Humor, Marriage

The Pros and Cons of Being Queen.

Strange hats? I can do that!

Yesterday, I was standing in the grocery line at Wal-Mart, striving to appear as if I was not reading the tabloid covers, but come on, I was at Wal-Mart?  Just call me oxy-moron.  Anyway, I see that poor Kate Middleton has hit a bit of a rough patch and that got me to thinking:  Do I really have the chops to represent the USA as her Queen?  Let’s weigh the pros and cons, shall we?

There have been kidnapping threats.

Etiquette lessons.

Demands to give Wills a baby.

Extreme weight loss.

Now, lets examine the cons…

That does it.  I’m in.

My greatest fear—or—given our current culture of crude ‘reality”—asset, would be hoof-in-mouth disease or even worse…being thought too common.  For example, I recall the horrifying moment when Lady Di was presented with something made of china as a gift and she had the audacity, gasp!! to turn it over and look for the label.  Tres gauche!  I just wanted to curl up and Di.

Yeah.

I don’t know my Waterford from a hole in the ground, so Di was light years more savvy than me and she still had people fainting over her horrendous faux pas.  I can only imagine what the good people will say when I serve baloney boats and Coke at my coronation.  And my youngest daughter can belch like a long-shoreman, so…guess I’m gonna have to speak to her about that before my big day.

Joyce, I agree about the Facebook thing, so that’s my number 2 item for change.  Keep ‘em coming, people.  What good is having a queen, if she can’t make life a little easier for us all?

Carolyn

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Filed under 35 symptoms of menopause, Cinderella, Facebook, Fifteen Minutes of Fame, Marriage, Menopause, Motherhood, Queen of the USA, Weight Loss

Royal Qualifications

I would strive for good shoes.

In my recent quest to ascend to the position of Queen of the USA, it has been brought to my attention that I will need to ‘qualify’.  Here is the list of reasons I feel that I qualify for the job:

1.   Bossy on my first through fifth grade report cards.

2.  Talks too much.  On all report cards.  Communication skills, huh?  Huh?

3.  I have five children.  Right there is proof I can run a country.

4.  Mockable body parts!

5. Plenty of skeletons to drag out of the closet for more tabloid fodder.  (Misspent youth will finally come in handy).

6.  I will invent some skeletons when the real ones run out.  As a novelist, I have ideas that will shock, as well as please.

7.  Number one son is an awesome athlete and polo will be a piece of cake.

8.  That hat that Beatrice wore to Will and Kate’s wedding?  I have one.  And it’s bigger.

9.  I like tea.  Those little cakes are delicious.

10. Three daughters for more televised wedding fun!

Now, I am still working on my platform for change.  So far, I have the number one slot filled with the whole charger cord issue, however, I would be a Queen who listens to the people.  So.  People.  What should we change?  There is so much to think about, my head is whirling.  Palace or condo?  Throne or Lazyboy?  Carriage or van??

I welcome all thoughts,

Carolyn

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Most Powerful Women?

Wait a minute! That’s not us!

Excuuuuuuse me?  This is the list of the most powerful women in the world?  Hello? Wendy?  Where were we?  How could they neglect to mention the Queen and Crown Princess of the United States of Marriage, Motherhood and Menopause?  I ask you, what could they do all day that is any more harrowing than teaching their exceedingly blond daughter how to drive when they are suffering from Menopause Symptom number 16 (see bowel/bladder control problems)?

Don’t say complex political issues and difficult paperwork, because I’m not impressed.  Do they have to deal with the ENDLESS RED TAPE associated with choosing which soccer photos to order—the deluxe pro-trading cards with 2 5×7, 1 8×10 4 wallet in a pear tree or the completely useless mini-mouse pad and bobble-head coffee mug combo—when they are simultaneously trying to recall the structure of a 5 paragraph essay, WHICH WAS DUE YESTERDAY, DEAR, while under the influence of a hot flash?  I think not.

Here’s a snippet on these supposed “Power-Women”, from Fortune 500 magazine:  There’s been plenty of turmoil atop Fortune’s annual Most Powerful Women list.   Meg Whitman crashed the party, coming in at No. 9 when she became CEO of Hewlett-Packard. (As CEO of eBay, she was on the list from 1999 to 2007.)

What party?  And why didn’t we crash it, Wendy?  It would have been a perfect opportunity to take George Clooney with us and show him what he’s missing by dating kindergarteners!  Let’s not let that happen again, okay?  Plus, this Meg Whitman actually left eBay, the shopping-palooza event of the century to go work for HP?  Gack.

While Oprah Winfrey fell 10 spots to No. 16, her power and influence in flux without the platform of her eponymous syndicated talk show. [sic]

Cry me a river.  And okay, what does eponymous mean, anyway?  I’m sure if we had to, we could totally be eponymous.

Perhaps the biggest change of all? Kraft CEO Irene Rosenfeld takes the No. 1 position from PepsiCo chief Indra Nooyi, who topped the list for five years. This ranking is all about power, and while Nooyi runs the bigger company, Rosenfeld’s decision to split Kraft into two entities shows she has it and knows how to use it.

It???

Try splitting an order of fries that nobody fights over, girls, now that takes skill.  Here at Toohotmamas, we have it and we know how to use it, too.  We just have to find ‘it’.  And then… of course, use ‘it’.

So.  Next year, Wendy, we’re gonna be on that list.  Fortune 500, Schmortune Shmive-hundred!  That’s right.  Stand back, Irene.  You.  Me.  My kid driving my minivan.  On the freeway. Then we’ll see who can really hack it.
Carolyn

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I Want to be Queen

It’s Winning Wednesday here at Toohotmamas…hang on just a sec…Okay, I’m back after having laughed myself half silly.  When we came up with the harebrained idea to hold a bi-monthly sweepstakes, I thought Wendy was going to run the contest and she thought I was.  We should have known it would be a disaster.  Just look at all the success we’ve had with the Pillsbury bake-off contest.

Anyway, I have an idea for a contest where the contestant would be…me.  I’ve been giving this a lot of thought, especially since Wills and Kate got married, and it dawned on me that we don’t have any royalty in the United States.  Oh, sure, there was that whole Kennedy/Camelot thing, but come on, we all know he was the president and not the king.

Where is OUR Wills and Kate?
Celebrities, such as Queen Latifa and Burger King don’t count.

I think I would make a really good Queen for several reasons:

1.  I would lobby to make all chargers (phone/iPod/etc.) USE THE SAME CORD!

2.  I have plenty of cellulite to mock and plaster across tabloid covers.

3.  I already have a scepter (okay, septic, so shoot me).

4.  I love hats.  And tiaras.

5.  I really, really, really want to be Queen.

So, I’m working on my platform (think battery chargers) and am wondering if I should simply appoint myself (since Queendom is not a  democracy) and throw a coronation party here, at Toohotmamas.

I welcome all ideas for change that you’d like to see added to my reform agenda.  Wendy would automatically be princess (unfortunately, there can only be one queen, and it was my idea and I am older), and heir to the throne.  We will have to establish a hierarchy for the kids, as they will be the ones running around creating scandal and playing polo.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to post my mission statement next Wednesday.

Long live the queen,

HRM Carolyn of Manchester.

(I love the name Manchester.  Reminds me of my bra size).

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Filed under 35 symptoms of menopause, Children, Cinderella, Fifteen Minutes of Fame, Humor, Marriage, Menopause, Motherhood

Kids Say The Darndest Things…Part 2

“Oh, darn!”

Darn it!  Yesterday, I couldn’t remember a darned thing that my kids say for Toohotmama’s KIDS SAY THE DARNDEST THINGS segment.  I thought and I thunk till my thinker was stuck and then I remembered!  My number one daughter is learning to drive!  I’m teaching her and she has said a few darned things while we are in the car.  This is probably the darndest thing she said, right after she crashed into a boulder in our driveway.

“Gee, Mom.  It’s lucky this car is old.  I wouldn’t want to learn in a good car.”

When I relayed this to my husband, he said a darned thing.  Can’t write it all here, but the jist of it was:

“Old?!  OLD?!  That THIRTY-FOUR THOUSAND DOLLAR CAR is only FOUR YEARS OLD!”

To that, my daughter said, “Oh.  Well, it looks old.”

To which my husband said some more darned (and unrepeatable) stuff about how she and her siblings treat it like a garbage scow and he was going to buy personalized license plates that read:  MOM’S SCOW.

I said a few darned things of my own.

Carolyn

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Thoughts on Menopause by Toohotmamas

Things are going to get a lot worse before they get…worse.

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Filed under 35 symptoms of menopause, Death, Geroge Clooney, Marriage, Menopause, Motherhood

I LOVE THIS BOOK!

I love a book I can sink my teeth into!

Have you ever read a book that was so good you just gobbled it up?
My dogs have!
I bought this book at the Scholastic Book Fair for my son and after he was done tearing through it, the dogs did!
Maybe it was the picture on the front…maybe it was the element of suspense.  Maybe it was the meaty goodness of the cardboard, but when we came home after a shopping trip, Lovey Howl had chewed through it and Thurston was on the waiting list.
So Wendy, I’m thinking…We have neglected an entire audience!  Fiction for Dogs!  I’ll loan this sucker to you after Thurston’s done.  See if Autumn like’s it?  If so, I have an idea for a real tail-wagger!
Carolyn

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I HATE ZUCCHINI

 Did you know that zucchini seeds are magic?   Did you know one plant will produce enough food to feed a third world country?  Did you know your kids probably hate zucchini? Mine do.

 

We made the mistake of planting an entire package of zucchini seeds this summer.  They burst out of the ground like Jack’s beanstalk and each plant produced a zoogillion zucchinis.

 

Now, I have zucchini coming out of my ears.  And other places.  I’m holding a contest at my house called, “most creative use of zucchini”.  Aside from the mundane zucchini casserole and zucchini bread and cake we have; zuk-kabobs, deviled zuk, zukironi and cheese, zuk au gratin, zuk cordon bleu, and zuk under glass.

 

We have grilled it, fried it, mashed it, baked, boiled, broiled, frickken fricasseed it.  We have tried it with a fox, we have tried it in a box, we have tried it here and there, we have tried it everywhere.  We do not like it Sam, I am.

 

We’re sick of it.  I am writing this blog at a table built of zucchini and seated on a zucchini bench.  I sent my youngest son to school in a pair of shoes fashioned from zucchini.  I sent it to my daughter’s class to celebrate her birthday.  What? The kids didn’t enjoy the piñata stuffed with zucchini?  What did they want?  Crook-neck?  Lousy kids.

 

I’m thinking next year, we’re gonna win the Pillsbury Bakeoff with something made from zucchini, Wendy.   Nothin’ says lovin’ like a zucchini in the oven.

 

Carolyn

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12 steps for menopausal motherhood

Wendy and I are starting a support group for menopausal mothers.  This was overheard at our first meeting:
“Hey, Wendy! How are you doing today?”

“Yes!  It is windy today!”

“No.  It’s Thursday!”

“Me, too.  When are those cheap hotmamas gonna serve the coffee?”

I think we’re making great headway.

Car0lyn

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Household hints, by Carolyn

It’s shocking!

I just learned the COOLEST hint today from the lady at Costco.  You know how, when you are in
the grocery store and you get shocked every time you touch the freezer case or anything metal?  You don’t?  Then you must not have shopped with my boys.  They love to scuff their feet along the aisle and zap each other.  And me.  And unsuspecting sisters.

 

Anyhow, if you look closely at the bottom of your grocery cart next time you are at the store, you might see this piece of wire hanging off the cart and dragging on the ground?  It’s the cart’s ground wire!  If it’s not touching the ground and you are zapping and snapping up a storm, just bend it down and let it drag.  Problem solved!

Oh!  And another totally helpful hint?  Don’t teach your teenaged daughter to drive.  I am just now learning that one.  More later, should I live so long.

 

Carolyn

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Filed under 35 symptoms of menopause, hot flash, Humor, Marriage, Menopause, Motherhood

Those Sexy, Sexy Graham Crackers

Sooo sexy

Menopause Symptom #7 is Loss Of Libido, and now Too Hot Mamas is going to share with you the cure!

Did you know Graham Crackers were invented by the Reverend Sylvester Graham to cure “the fever of lust”?  That’s right.  The reverend believed whole, bland foods would cure us of carnal urges.

This is a load off of Too Hot Mamas’ minds and, we bet, off of yours, too.

We are not in menopause, after all, ladies; we have simply eaten too many Golden Grahams.  Granted, the Rev. Sylvester probably wasn’t thinking about slapping a hunk of Hershey’s and a big ol’ marshmallow between his biscuits, like we do, but still graham crackers and other bland, whole or nutritious foods could be responsible for the crash of our libidos.   Also, in Sylvester’s day milk and meat were considered to be responsible for sexual appetite, so you know the top ten anti-aging foods–all those fruits and veggies and lean things you’ve been told to focus on? They don’t seem so helpful anymore, do they?

Girlfriends, we have been sold a bill of goods about our diets.  Salmon, blueberries and broccoli are supposed to kill hot flashes.  Well, they’re gonna kill your libidos, too, sisters, so tell the waiter to bring you that Mississippi mud pie, after all, one fork.

You’ve burned your bras, now open that bag of Lays and don’t you worry your pretty heads about eating just one.

Thanks for the great tips, Reverend Sylvester.  You are our new diet guru.  We’re putting a brisket in the oven, baking up a Death-By-Chocolate cake and digging the 400 thread count sheets out of the laundry, ‘cause love is in the air.  Or it will be, as soon as we’ve eaten the better part of a herd of cattle.

Happy dining!

Wendy

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Company’s Coming!

Come on, people! Let’s get crackin!

Ever tried to accomplish a giant task while you have company?  I’m facing that …oh, what’s the word… ‘excitement’ now as I have a book deal for a rather lengthy manuscript on an extremely tight deadline.

So.  My father is turning 80.  On the same day, his brother is turning 82.  On the same day (no, this is not a typo) my daughter is turning 13.
October 9 is a popular day to birth babies in our gene pool.  Relatives are flying in from the four corners of the earth to celebrate.

What with me being in menopause and having the five kids under 18 and all, I’m feeling a tad stressed. However, I am nothing if not organized and I love to delegate.  So, I’m thinking I’m going to ask for a little help.  They say it’s one of the hardest things a person can do, this asking for help business.  To that, I say, “Heeeeeeellllllllllllppppppppp!”

Yeah, yeah, yeah, grandpa is turning 80.  Big whoop.  He can make the spaghetti.  Aunt and Uncle are clean freaks, they can tackle the pantry.  My cousin and her daughters are creative and love to talk/tell stories.  I’m passing out plot cards when they walk through the door and sending them off to enjoy some quiet time and a jolly good writing exercise.  We can discuss character arc at the party, and goal, motivation and conflict over dessert.  After the gifts are open, everyone will get a party favor pencil and go to work.  Scenes for the kids, chapters for the adults.

That oughtta gitter done.  By the time I have to take them to the airport, I should be able to swing by the post office and mail the completed manuscript, therefore giving two birds the old one/two punch with one stone.

Carolyn

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Filed under 35 symptoms of menopause, Anxiety, cleaning, company, Humor, Marriage, Menopause, Motherhood, romance novels, Writing

Sexy Older Women Have Fun With Food

 Wendy wanted to call Friday’s Segment:  Fun With Food.

I added the Sexy Older Women part, because believe it or not, I just read an article where somebody took the time to research the top words in blog titles that people search and the winner was:  SEXY OLDER WOMAN.

Wow.  So, even if your blog is about say, Home-school Curriculum or Colonoscopy or Boy Scouts,  or Federal Agriculture you should try to work these words into the title.  Mind boggling, huh?

Anyway, Wendy has some awesome ideas about helping people with Menopausal Attention Deficit to make simple and nutritious fare.  But, since I don’t want her to do all the blog work, I’m going to share my thoughts on fun food this Friday.

Eat a box of Wheat Thins.  I’m doing it now.  As I type this blog!  Simple.  Nutritious.  Less than 5 seconds to prepare. If the old adage, “You are what you eat” is true, you will wake up in the morning thin and golden brown.  That’s what I’m going for.  Carolyn

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Filed under 35 symptoms of menopause, Cooking, Humor, Marriage, Menopause, Motherhood, Weight gain, Weight Loss, Writing

Trust Me, I’m Lying

One thing you gotta love about Too Hot Mamas:  When we say we’re lying, we mean it.

See the nifty section to the right that claims “Our Blog Schedule”?  Carolyn and I decided to impose some actual order onto this blog when we realized we were getting more readers and also because we’ve been asked to turn our blog into a book proposal.  So, hey, we ought to actually be blogging on a regular basis, right?  It took us five weeks to decide on the schedule you see and two weeks to completely ignore it.

I mean, “Winning Wednesday: Enter our bi-weekly sweepstakes!”??   Come on.  My husband is still waiting for his Christmas and anniversary gifts since 1998.  (And now that I think of it, honey, so am I.  What’s up with that?)

Let’s be honest here:  Sam, you won the very first drawing.  Have you received your free book yet? I thought not.

Rhonda, you scored a giftcard to Starbuck’s.  Check’s in the mail, babe.

We mean well.  Honest.  But we are menopausal and can’t remember crap, and I think that is way more valid than the Twinkie Defense, I don’t care what anyone says.

I am suggesting that you stop wasting your time here and head on over to The Pioneer Woman blog.  That Ree Drummond is amazing.  Four kids, the blog, a TV show, she Tweets, and I’m guessing that whoever won the Le Creuset pot she  gave away in her contest last week has actually received it.   The woman not only cooks, she finds the time to photograph her dinner.  With four kids!  I have a husband and one child (and usually one or more of her ravenous friends) and if I paused to get my camera out, the dinner would look like road kill before I snapped the first shot.

Ree Drummond is a role model.  But not for us Too Hot Mamas.  No, not for us.  If  Pioneer Women is in peri-menopause (never mind the full meal deal) I’ll eat my red hat.   She’s far too together and organized.  She remembers what she was about to say.  Her mood seems stable.  She has great hair.  Now that I think of it, after you visit her awesome, entertaining and cozy website, pop back here for a dose of reality.  We’ll make you feel so much better about yourself.  No, you may never receive anything you win, but at least then you’ll have a reason for those pesky mood swings.  And, really, don’t you enjoy having a place where you can let your hair down…even if it is chin hair?

I thought so.  We’ll see you here tomorrow then, for Food Friday, when we will discuss the removal of pet hair from furniture.

Wendy

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Golden Girls

Blanche:
“I have writer’s block. It’s the worst feeling in the world.”

Sophia: “Try ten days without a bowel movement sometime.”

 

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You idiot.

Where's the idiot?

     Do you ever fantasize about what a good time you are going to have on a road trip? I do.

     Oooo! It is going to be SO FUN to cram 9 people into an 8 passenger van and drive for HOURS!  We’ll play the license plate game!  We’ll sing camp songs and make s’mores!  We’ll take pictures!  The kids and the hubby!  And, if that’s not enough, let’s throw grandpa and grandma into the mix! Yep, yep, yep… Big fun.

I should have suspected that we were in trouble when I politely cautioned my husband to remember that my mother (tortoise) does not drive as fast as he does (roadrunner) and to keep her in his rearview because she does not know exactly where we are going.

“Oh.  Like I’m going to go speeding off and leave my mother-in-law in the dust,” he jeers.

You know, like I’m the idiot.  Funny, he didn’t seem as jazzed about this trip as I was.

And so, after five delightful hours in the mini-van, we make it to the magnificent Painted Hills.  It’s a bazillion degrees in the shade, but we gamely get out of the van and hike UP the mountain to the view-point.  I flirted with heat-stroke, but then I love living on the edge.

We took the required pics.  We admired the splendor.  We praised God because we are pious, godly people with thankful hearts.  We headed back to the van.  It was decided that this would be a good time to have Daughter # ONE drive, as she is accruing her 100 hours of permit driving before she gets her license.

She leaps behind the wheel of the van.  Hubby calls shotgun.  The kids all pile in behind her, with the exception of Daughter #2, poor kid.  She and I end up with grandma and grandpa in their car.  The car that has no map.  Because, hey, why should we need a map when we are following the husband who would not leave us?  Forsake us?  Without cell reception.

While they are all buckling up, I open the back of the van to get some water.  Did I mention we were in hell?  While I’m quenching my thirst, Daughter # ONE, in her teenage zeal, doesn’t know (or care) that the hatch is open as she starts the engine and stands on the gas.

I run after them as she tears out of the parking lot.  “THE HATCH IS OPEN!  THE HATCH IS OPEN!”  I’m waving my arms and jumping up
and down.  Several visiting families to the Painted Hills are amused at my antics (but, I must add sourly, don’t help).  Grandma leans on her horn.  Daughter jams on the breaks.  Hubby leaps out, slams the hatch and Daughter # ONE achieves warp speed before I can climb in with Grandma.

“Follow that car!” I shout.  Have I mentioned  Grandma (tortoise) is a cautious driver?  It is not until we arrive at the intersection that I realize the hubby and daughter are gone.  And, THEY.  HAVE. THE.  MAP. AND.  THE. WATER.

What ensues in our car was not pretty.  “Idiot!  Big, fat idiot!  How could I have married such an….idiot!?”  To my way of thinking, my husband—who, if you will remember, I did warn not to abandon Grandma—should be telling the kid to slow down and wait for us.  Grandma nobly reminded me that nobody is perfect and that we all make mistakes and that I should not be so hard on my husband.  I found this exceedingly annoying.

While we deliberate the route, Daughter # TWO tells us she has to go potty.   Grandma pulls over, lets us out at a rest area near the intersection.  She then speeds off to explore where Daughter # ONE and the IDIOT might have gone.

By the time Daughter # TWO and I are out of the bathroom, Grandma roars up in her car and is on the verge of divorce with Grandpa who is now—brace yourselves—an IDIOT!

Much arguing ensues.  MUCH.  ARGUING.  There were tears.  Recriminations.  Accusations. You’re an idiot!  No! YOU are the idiot!

And still, no Daughter # ONE or hubby.  Tempers continue to soar with the mercury.  There is no sign of the van.  We locate a tree and park under its shade and out of boredom, turn on each other.  Daughter # TWO is looking rather traumatized.  And I think, Wow, this is so freaking MUCH FUN!

And then, I start to laugh.  Super hard, convulsive laughter.  Painful, loud, tears-down-the-face-laughing. Must have been contagious
as everyone else joins in.  My father turns around and says to Daughter # TWO, “Honey, never get married.”

I wipe my eyes and tell her, “Nah, get married.  Just remember.  You’re an idiot.”

Carolyn

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Filed under 35 symptoms of menopause, Anxiety, Cooking, Cussing, Humor, Marriage, Menopause, Motherhood, Travel, Writing

How I (Almost) Ruined Our Summer Vacation

Do you have to-do lists for your summer vacation?  Please say you do, and if you don’t, please lie to me, because I don’t want to be the only Type A, summer-killing, Wicked Witch of the West weenie who made a list, cracked the family whip…and didn’t get a darned thing done, anyway.

What is it with me and summer?  I have a friend who takes her kids to the coolest places and does the most interesting things over the summer school break.  They camp out in tree houses, fly to other states to attend fairs, go on field trips to meet rulers of the free world.

I told my family we were going to:

1.) Sand and paint the molding throughout the house.  It really needs it.

2.) Pull down the hall wallpaper, which we started pulling down 2 years ago until I gouged the wall with the Paper Tiger, and we realized we’d have to drywall, too.  It’s time to turn that mess into a proper hallway.

3.) Work on daughter’s spelling, reading and math—just fifteen minutes a day, but we must be disciplined.

4.) Organize all desks, bookshelves and closets so our mornings can proceed in a smooth and joyous fashion.

Of course I planned to reward us for each project we completed.  A long bike ride, a sleepover for my daughter, a night out for the hubster and moi.

I was excited about summer, because I envisioned its conclusion with us toasting each other in our clean, lovely, drywalled home while our daughter rattled off a few dozen perfectly spelled, three-syllable words.

Yeah.  So here’s what happened:

Me, resplendent in my husband’s tool belt, and holding a clipboard:  “Okay, troops, here’s the list of what we’re going to accomplish today!”

Husband:  “Great, honey, but before you read that, we’re going to go on a bike ride.”

Me:  “Well, actually, I was thinking…”

Daughter:  “Yeah, Mom, and when we get back,  (insert name of friend here) is coming over, okay?  Please?  We haven’t seen each other since school and we probably won’t be in the same class next year (she used this same pitch for every friend all summer) and her parents said she could have a play date if you say it’s okay and I promise I’ll learn any words you want me to as soon as she leaves unless you say she can sleepover too can she please?” 

I look at husband, who shrugs, not that he even attempts to follow that kind of run-on pleading.

And there I am, left with the drill sergeant and the pushover debating in my head:

We have to get something done.  The house is a pit. 

 Ookay, but it is summer.

 Yeah, well the hall looks like a still photo from Nightmare on Elm Street.  I’ve seen people tremble on their way to our bathroom.  And if DD doesn’t study a little bit, her brain will turn to mush and she’ll start the school year behind all the kids who are studying over the summer, and then she’ll feel bad when the teacher gives her “baby math.” 

 I know, but it’s summer.

 No buts!  The closets—

 Maybe tomorrow.

 By this time, of course, the husband and daughter have left for their bike ride, and I have decided to do something really useful like vacuum crumbs out of the grooves in the dining table.  And, probably, this wouldn’t be a bad thing (there was roughly the equivalent of a loaf of bread in those grooves), except that the debate continues inside my head and every time I see someone to whom I’m related, I grab the clipboard and ask them to commit to a chore and a time slot.

On a couple of occasions, I got them to join me for entire days devoted to one project or another, and when I wasn’t successful, I talked about all the work we still had to do.  Doesn’t that sound fun?

And then I heard my husband and daughter talking about the fun they really were having riding their bike rides and playing Karate Kid Meets Ninja Turtle and engaging in an eight-year-old version of Name That Tune.

Up to that point, the most fun my daughter and I had was writing her spelling words on the sidewalk with 3-D chalk.  (Well, I had fun.)  So I gave up.  I put the tool belt in the garage (though I thought it made me look kinda butch in a good way), ditched the clipboard and made plans to have a Halloween party in our hallway.

Tonight Carolyn’s sons are having a sleepover at our place.  I walked the dog three miles while the boys and my daughter rode their bikes up and down hills, shrieking like…kids in summer.  We got ice cream at the local store, came home to make giant chocolate chip cookies and built our own ice cream sandwiches.  Now they’re watching Surf’s Up.

They’re giggling.  I feel wonderfully relaxed.  And it finally feels like summer.

Wendy

P.S.  Someone will need to remind me about this next year when that hallway and I are playing “Six Degrees of Separation) from Freddy Krueger.

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My writing partner/my husband

I've got it! How about...a lightbulb?

It is so fun to brainstorm story ideas with my husband.  Especially when he’s awake.  Took me a few years to figure out that the best time to catch him is early in the day, when he is sitting upright. Because once he’s horizontal, I can pretty much guarantee that if I’m pitching the Wizard of Oz to him, he’ll be snoring long before I get to the tornado.

The car is good.  If he’s driving, he’s upright.  Usually not snoring.

Today, we had a three-hour commute home from our place at the beach.  I needed to come up with some names for my characters and so I told him he could name some of them.  He likes to do that.  He named a character for me one time that landed an eighteen book deal.  Seriously.  So now, he fancies he’s got some kind of “knack”.

“Who am I naming?” he asks.  I can tell he’s feeling helpful.

“I’m thinking about a young guy who is a body builder/personal trainer.  Kind of arrogant.”

“Sort of a jarhead?”

“Yeah.”

He mulls.  “Got it.  Timmy…Tenderloin.”

“Timmy?  Tender…loin?  I’m not writing for the porno channel.  Do you ever want me to work again?”

He’s screaming with laughter at the windshield.

I’m beginning to worry as he is swerving.  “Forget Timmy Tenderloin.  Let’s move on.  I need a middle-aged woman.  Owns a Jamba Juice shop.  I’ve got to kill her off.”

“Nice gal?”

“Salt of the earth.”

“Got it.  I’m thinking…Mae.  Yeah.  Mae.  Born in May.  Dies in May, right?  Last name…Bury.  A little foreshadowing there, huh?”

“You want me to name the Jamba Juice lady Mayberry?”

More riotous laughter.  “Next?”

“I need a Chinese guy to run the restaurant.”

After we’d established that the Chinese dude was second generation American, the hubby has it.  “Okay.  His name is Miyagi Waxoff.  And his kids are Ashley and Tyler and…they’re ice-dancers.”

More howling.  I’m staring at him. And thinkin’ he’s lost the knack.  Then again…I might be able to do something with the ice-dancers.

Carolyn

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Middle-aged Foreplay…Sweet Nuthin’

Maybe this should be menopause symptom number 40 or something: The end of foreplay as we once knew it.

A couple of days ago, Carolyn wrote a tad (forgive me, dear friend), but she wrote a tad too realistically about romance for my taste.  And that’s fine.  She doesn’t pen romance novels for a living anymore.  I do.  So I still BELIEVE, Carolyn (and George Clooney, if you’re listening). I believe in Romance.  Please do not louse it up for me.  If Carolyn is correct, and my husband picks his nose in his truck, I do not want to know it, and I do not want to see it.  I don’t care how long two people have been married; there are things that should be picked only in private.  (The same goes for you in your Beamer, George.  Both hands on the wheel.)

And yet, Carolyn’s blog did get me thinking.  Things have changed around here; I have noticed it.  An example:

When I was forty-one, I was chatting with a group of women who mentioned—several times—how old we were all getting.  I went home and told my husband, who placed his hands, those strong and tender, big latte-toned hands with the sprinkle of caramel hair on his manly-man knuckles, on either side of my face.  He gave me the soul-mate gaze, and he said:

“Just tell them you’re my wine.”

Did he get lucky that night?  Oh my, reader, yes he did.

But that was almost nine years ago.  For eight of those years, I have been a mother and for five I have been in menopause.  Probably so has he.

Skip ahead to last week when I donned a hot pink sleeveless tee shirt to show off the upper arms I have been diligently sculpting all summer.  (It’s hard to sculpt mashed potato, but I’ve made some serious headway.)

“Hi, sweetie,” I said to my beloved, flexing and giving him a seductive wink as I pretended to reach for something on a high shelf (still the only way I can get my delts to pop, and, okay, we weren’t near a shelf, but I think I pulled it off).

He gave me a long, considering look.

Grrrrr. I love that look.  You, sir, are about to get lucky for the second time in nine years.

 “Honey,” he said in his velvet, Elvis baritone, the voice that still makes me shiver, “you could use a new bra.   I don’t think that one is doing what it’s supposed to.”

That is NOT foreplay!

Now he’s going to have to wait another nine years.

And I may need a new career.

Carolyn, you up for a trip to Victoria’s Secret?

Sign me,

Wendy– sadder and, uh, apparently lower than I used to be.

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Scenes you’ll never read in a romance novel

 Call me slow, but I am only just now realizing that the romance novels I’ve read (okay, and written) aren’t exactly realistic.  I know, I can hear you gasping from here.  Why, Carolyn, whatever could you mean?  Well, I guess I mean that people claim they want a real hero, but how real is too real?  As writers, could we be doing a disservice to the reader by painting a less than accurate portrait of a real relationship?  For example, I have never seen:

Stone sat in his sports car at the corner of 12th and Main, his mind idling along with his powerful engine.  His finger was buried up to its second knuckle in his nostril as he reflected on the short skirt his secretary had worn to work that morning.  She was one hot tamale he mused, as he flicked a booger on his car mat.  Yeah, she had some serious cellulite and a muffin top, but hey, nobody was perfect…

Flooded with relief, Hunter made it to the men’s room just before the diarrhea reared its ugly head.  Oh man, I hope I don’t break the porcelain
he thought as he perched on the toilet, his trousers down around his ankles.  Hopefully, being that this was their first date and all, Lucy wouldn’t leave before the cramps did…

Stag ambled to his motorcycle and straddled the seat.  It was a great day for a ride in the country.  There was nothing like the thunder that roared from between his legs as he fastened his helmet.  Then, he kick-started his bike and revved the engine.  Man, he loved eating at Taco Bell, but he was going to have to ride like the wind to get away from that smell…

As Suzy lay basking in the afterglow of their lovemaking, Rafe’s horrendous morning breath assailed her nostrils.  She smiled down at him.  He really needed a shave.  And about a gallon of mouthwash.  And then, there was the matter of that nasty gunk in the corners of his eyes…

Ah well.  Maybe I’m just ahead of my time.

Carolyn

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HE LIVES! The fish, I mean.

Okay, for you, Carolyn, grinding little guppies in your Insinkerator.   But our fish, Bluestar, has been SAVED!  His pretty blue fins are unclamped, his I’d-as-soon-kill-you-as-look-at-you personality is back in full force, his appetite…

Oops.

As you all know, the family and I were prepared to go to extreme lengths to help our little Betta friend heal from the multiple fungal, bacterial and depression issues he appeared to be having.  (We change his water regularly, use water conditioner, warm his bowl to the appropriate-for-Bettas temperature, etc., I swear.)  Well, after many a run to pet stores and calls to ichthyologists, we found the right combo of treatments.  And Bluestar, bless his fishy heart, responded.  He even turned to stare at us with what we all agreed was gratitude.

Tim and I high-fived, wiped our tired brows, kissed our relieved and teary daughter, promised not make any more tuna melts lest we inadvertently ingest Bluestar’s cousin (whatever, she’s eight) and got some sleep.  And, uh, you know, forgot to feed the little guy.

For a couple of days.

Maybe that wasn’t a look of gratitude. 

We finally remembered the meal issue after he began ramming his nose into the glass.  This time he looked like he wanted to phone PETA, pronto.

Listen, Mr. Fish, I am menopausal and you are soooo lucky I was able to focus long enough to medicate you.  You are not the first family member whose dinner has been a day or two late.  Just grab a Snickers like the others and chill.

I just gave him a few Top Fin pellets and am now off to find dried worm things or some other Betta delicacy to express my apologies properly.  My husband says we’re too old for any more live things and has asked me to let everything not on two legs die out without seeking its immediate replacement.

We’ll see.  We’ll have to wait and see.

Wendy

 

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Fish tragedy, a three hanky tale

Don’t they look like angels when they sleep?…wait…they ARE angels!

Luckily, my mother does not read this blog so I can add my fish tale to Wendy’s aquarium misery.  Plus, it’s been two years and we’ve managed to recover nicely.

Number One Son really, really, really, really wanted a pet fish.

I said, “But honey, you know you are only ten-years-old and won’t take care of it and the poor little fishy will die of starvation.”

“No way, Mom!!  I’ll feed it and change its water and play with it and everything.”

“If I let you have a fish, you must realize that I don’t want it, and its life will be in your hands, got that?”

After he pledged allegiance to the fish, we went to Wal-mart.  Price of fish?  10 cents.  Price of bowl, rocks, food, fish net, special chemistry set to keep the bowl from rotting, exotic housing units and plastic trees and kelp in unnatural neon colors?  $89.50.

Day one was glorious:  Son diligently set up bowl, named fish Alice, fed Alice 3 squares, checked chemical balance, dragged family and friends in to admire how clever Alice was whenever she swam through neon cave and, before bed that night, told Alice bedtime story.

Day two:  Son invited to sleepover at neighbor’s house.  Forgot Alice existed.

Day five: Alice failing.

Day eight:  Alice, near death, discovered by eldest teenage daughter.  “Mom, I’m going to take over Alice’s health care.  Brother is going to be my
co-owner.”

A shame-faced brother agreed to the arrangement and within days, Alice was her spunky old self.  Daughter taught brother that the best way to clean Alice’s bowl was to transfer Alice to a salad bowl and run her regular stuff through the dishwasher to sterilize it from time to time.

Unfortunately, daughter and son neglected to tell Grandma their bowl cleaning method.  And—because my mother is one of those people who cannot stop cleaning for 5 minutes—when she came over for dinner, Alice was inadvertently tossed into the garbage disposal and whirled into the great beyond as my mother hummed Swing Low Sweet Chariot.

We all stared at each other in horror, as Alice had become a rather cherished member of the family.  However, we also knew that Grandma would never forgive herself and would inundate us with replacement fish for the rest of our lives and so, choked back the tears.  Needless to say, dinner was a tad subdued that night.  Now and then, a family member would pause at the disposal and murmur their respects down the drain.

Wendy, hurry.  Invite my mother over for dinner next time you clean Bluestar’s bowl.  Grandma, without fail, will leap up from the dinner table and begin tackling the dishes.  Rest in peace, Bluestar.

Carolyn

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Monsoon!

My niece, on monsoon night...

Ever gone camping in the middle of a major storm?  Trust me, you’d remember.  This last week, my family went camping—as we do every year—in paradise.  Think stunning Oregon forest, horseback riding, swimming in the crystal clear river, jumping off the rocks into said river, something called ‘barn-hockey’ for the kids, tons of food and a fantastic friend (Jill, you rock!) with a supercallafragelistic family willing to share interesting (and hilarious) stories of ranch life with this writer.  It was all of that this year, too, but the weather—as it has been around the world—was…different.

One day in particular was soggy, but as night approached, so did a seriously ominous bank of black clouds.

“Oooo,” we giggled, “Looks like we’re gonna get a little wet.”  So naive.

Our family fits into three tents:  the two-man tent for the boys, the six man tent for the girls—sans the 6 men, of course—and the eight man tent for the hubby and me and the dogs.  As usual, the boys passed out the minute their heads hit the pillow.  The girls on the other hand (all teenagers, and my wild woman niece—age 24 going on 13) were all enjoying being nutballs and laughing themselves half silly in midst of this wilderness slumber party.  I decided to let their shenanigans carry on, cuz I’m super cool and, okay, too lazy to get up and tell them to pipe down.

When the first crack of thunder sounded, the girls all shrieked and giggled.  The hubby and I grinned at each other.  Fun, huh?  The flashes of lightning brought some concerned squeaks from the girls, but it was tempered by more laughter.  Then the downpour hit.  And I’m not talking the drips and drabs of Wendy’s shower.  Oh, no.  This was as if a giant cosmic ladle, perhaps the big dipper? yeah, dumped a lake on us.  The thunder got louder, and the lightening brighter and the squeals higher.

Still, I wasn’t concerned.  After all, the girls had been noisy all evening.  I figured the trees all around us would catch any stray lightning bolts and so deluded, drifted off to sleep.  Around 2ish, the boys appeared at our door (flap) soaked to the skin, shivering and mad as wet roosters.

“Our tent is gone!  Our beds are flooded!”

Odd.  Then again, we had cots and a stronger tent.  “Well, come on in.”  I took one ice-cube boy in my bag, the hubby took the other in his.  The girls were still laughing—I thought—as their shrieks started to rival the howls of the hurricane.  After all, if there was a problem, they’d tell us, right?

Wasn’t till the next morning I woke up to find the girls all huddled in the minivan, their tent now an above ground swimming pool, their beds sagging floatation devices, their mascara running, their joi de vivre a thing of the past.  Not laffin’.  No, my niece was snoozing in at shotgun, scrunched and drenched.  Daughter number three was packed into  the middle row and the older daughters slept sardine style in the back.

Took the entire day—and—half a pile of firewood to dry ‘em out.

Thankfully, the remainder of the week was sunny.  And now (after resting for 24 whole hours at home) we are headed to the beach for more life in the old tent, this time with the kid’s high school crowd.  The weather is looking a little sketchy, so I’ll probably be piling into the minivan with a
dozen (or more) teenagers if we aren’t washed out to sea first.

Wendy?  If you don’t hear from me by…say…Thursday?  Call the Coast Guard.

TTFN,

Carolyn

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Sliding Doors

Steady...steady now...

On the 4th of July, we had the kind of company you want to impress.  (My agent and her family).  Yet, my hard-working hubby saw the day off as an opportunity to strip the house of every interior door to patch, prime and paint.  I’m sure the bizarre impact of no bathroom or closet doors  didn’t occur to him when he hatched this amazing scheme.  Isn’t the closet where you cram everything when company comes?  The bathroom problem is self-evident.  Anyway, as you can imagine, what with 7 people and 3 dogs at our house, our doors can get pretty shabby looking.

He has a clever way of spreading a giant tarp over the driveway and arranging the doors (think dominos) vertically with supports holding them at the top.  In the past, on a windless day, this has worked beautifully.

Because of the barbecue, he only had enough time to get the doors in domino stance, then he had to go to work for me.  (I love this man).  After the fireworks, we all had a great night’s sleep, but woke to find that the doors had toppled.  Some broken.

Yet, my intrepid hubby (after some pithy verbiage and a moment to sulk in my arms) strode back outside to face the door dragon.  Thankfully, only 2 of the doors were damaged.  He spent the day patching them and putting them back up with reinforcements. Then, off to work to make a living the next day.

While the kids were splashing in the pool, the first row crashed.  The kids started screaming.  “Mom!  THE DOORS!”  They thrashed out of the pool and raced to the driveway only to arrive in time to watch the second row fall.  My thirteen-year-old daughter burst into tears.  “Poor, Dad!”  The boys, (including one of their classmates) all looked on morosely.  “Man, that bites!”  The older girls were mad and verbal.

“Come on, you guys!  Grab a door, let’s get this cleaned up before Dad gets home.”

In no time, the doors were stacked and sorted (only 2 more broken this time) and it was up to me to make the scary phone call.

Stony silence followed by expletives deleted.  Yet, he came home, figured out a new way to arrange the doors (like tables with short legs) sprayed them, flipped them, sprayed them again and now…taaaa…daa…I have beautiful, shiny, amazing doors in my house.

Thank you, sweetheart.  You are awesome.

Carolyn

PS:  If you haven’t seen Sliding Doors with Gwyneth Paltrow, it’s fascinating.

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