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Nov 16

Flattering as it was, the request to write a humor column came as a surprise. After all, working in corporate communications, I usually write about serious — and often boring — stuff. Oh, and I’m not a comedian.
 
As a working mother of four children, I live a busy, often complicated life, which, apparently, some people find humorous. I get laughs when I retell events that occur on what I consider a “normal day."
 
Humor at my expense, perhaps.
 
Or maybe it’s because I’ve learned I don’t always have to take life so seriously.
 
Coming to that conclusion didn’t come easy. I am a perfectionist and chronic go-getter. As a young wife and mother, I envied the order, success and happiness that seemed to permeate the lives of other women. While I attempted to herd my children — and a few pets — through the landmarks of our everyday family life, chaos, failure and woe frequently took center stage in my home!
 
But I noticed something along the way: other women related well to my admissions of defeat. There was much more interest in how I handled what went wrong than how I managed to do things right.
 
While we all love the idea of a Better Homes & Garden’s existence, it’s a rare woman who can pull that off and still enjoy her life. We shut our front doors, forget trouble and put on a smiley face for the world. But Real Life waits behind that front door: smelly messes, trivial arguments and days that redefine “challenging.”
 
Reality is, life is a little messy. There are experts who can give you an outline on eating healthy, raising successful kids, balancing a career or reducing stress. But they don’t show up to tell you what to do when the kids’ beanbag chair explodes in the backyard, your son shoves a pea up someone else’s nose, or the cat sneaks into the house with live prey.
 
When we’re brave enough to admit that we can’t quite juggle everything, and life may not be as idyllic as it appears, a great camaraderie occurs. And we can laugh.
 
As I share stories from my journey in “Reality Check-up,” I hope you will not only laugh with me, but also view the challenges of your own everyday life with a lighter heart.
 
And, if you’re brave enough, share your stories, too.
 

Humor writer Hallie Bandy is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.

 

More Hallie Bandy articles, click here.


© ShareWiK Media Group, LLC 2009 


Mar 14

I recently retired as my boys’ personal hairstylist. I don’t care how much they whine. I will ignore their begging. I’m not doing it again. Ever. 

 

Dealing with my sons’ hair has been a thorn in my side since they showed up over a decade ago. I don’t think I ever got it right. 

 

At first thought, you’d expect my two girls’ hair would cause more problems. But learning to braid, buying the right detangler and finding non-tangley hairbands was a simple task compared to the never-ending chore of keeping the boys’ hair trimmed in a manner that suited them.

 

At our house, my husband insisted the boys get a haircut as soon as they were referred to as “beautiful” or “pretty.” For my boys, that happened relatively early. In fact, it seems they were barely sitting up when my husband thought it was high time they got their first trim. 

 

I approached the task cautiously. But despite the fact that I intentionally started by taking very little off, with each move of the head, the whole operation became increasingly troublesome. I started to think the whole “bowl” concept wasn’t such a bad idea. I’d put anything over their heads if it would block out the distractions that caused sudden head movements, and, consequently, a bad haircut. 

 

It didn’t take long for me to start thinking it was me. I obviously lacked basic haircutting skills. Maybe I should take them to a “professional”? 

 

So sometime during their toddlerhood, I did. 

 

Turns out, a haircut can be just as traumatic as a visit to the dentist. And, the end result isn’t necessarily much better than my own efforts. In fact, sometimes it’s worse. 

 

On one visit to a local barber, my kids observed a small child getting his hair trimmed. His helicopter mother was standing next to him, chatting away to the stylist who pulled out all the tools to transform the kid into a Mini-Me of Ryan Seacrest. The mother paid, and the pair left, but then returned just a few minutes later. 

 

“I’d like my money back,” the woman informed the receptionist. “I asked for a cute haircut, and this is not cute. At all,” she said. 

 

The puzzled receptionist asked just what, exactly, was wrong. 

 

“Well, just look at his face,” the mother retorted.

 

And then the poor kid chimed in: “What’s wrong with my face, Mama?” 

 

I think my boys almost bolted out the door right then, but for an uncontrollable case of the giggles that left them immobile. 

Because, you know what? The Mom had a point. And while I know the little kid couldn’t do much about his face, the way it interacted with his new haircut wasn’t attractive. Really. 

 

After that incident I agreed to trim my boys up at home again. I invested in a pair of electric sheers for the son who likes a “GI,” or what one friend calls, “high and tight.” But every time I used the buzzers, he accused me of cutting his hair crooked. 

 

“Look,” I finally said. “This gismo cuts everything the same length. If something is crooked, it must be your skull.” 

 

My other son fared no better. He inherited a double cowlick from some distant kin and always seemed to twitch just as I got to that section of his head. The result? All high, but not at all tight. Much as he’d like to, he can’t wear a baseball cap 24/7 until another bad haircut-by-me grows out. 

 

So I’ve finally decided to let someone else mess up my kids’ hair, and let them deal with the boys’ bellyaching. After all, I’m going to make enough mistakes as a Mom. When it comes to their hair, why not pay to get off the hook?

 

Humor writer, Hallie Bandy, is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.

 

More Hallie Bandy articles, click here.


Other articles by Hallie Bandy:

Friends don't let friends wear granny panties.

One sick mom, 2 sick boys and one new computer system equalled trouble

The Tooth Fairy is one of the biggest nuisances ever invented for moms

When you have kids, reality literally stinks sometimes
The Trials of Friendship Bread

Of Sex Talks and Awkward Filters

Female Facial Hair: Starts at puberty and continues rest of our lives.

An Orthodontic Alignment

No More Birthday Party Madness

Can't A Kid Pee In Peace?

Lunch With A Side of Baby Ruth Bars

Reality Check-Up



© ShareWiK Media Group, LLC 2009  

Jul 19

Robert Frost said good fences make good neighbors, and those of us who live in rural settings understand that notion. 

 

When you live in the country, you give up block parties and neighborhood bunko clubs.  Kids don’t usually walk or ride a bike to each other’s homes. And there are days you see more wildlife than people.

 

When we first moved from the crowded subdivisions of south Florida to a rural town in Ohio, one of our new neighbors introduced himself by saying, “We all live out here because we like it quiet.  You won’t see us much.  But if you need us, we’re here.”

 

He was right.  I rarely saw him.  But he was there.  I delivered our first son in the middle of a January snowstorm, and we came home to a plowed drive and a pack of diapers on the front stoop.  No note, but I knew whose kindness it was.

 

Not every country neighbor has gotten the memo on keeping to yourself, however.

 

Another Ohio neighbor introduced himself a little differently.  He showed up at the same time as the moving truck, told us where everything should go, and then informed us how much he liked mowing lawns — and practically insisted he mow our lawn for the “rest of the season.”  It was late fall, and we hadn’t given any thought to lawn mowing.  We didn’t give much thought to his kind offer, either. We just gratefully said, “Oh, thank you so much!”

 

As it happened, that was an epic El Nino year, and people were golfing until Christmas Eve in Northeast Ohio.  Our grass kept growing, and our neighbor showing up weekly to do us yet another favor. 

 

Which is why, when he informed us that he and his wife regularly took an extended vacation and needed someone to care for their cats for two months, I felt obliged to offer my services.  

 

Sure I had an infant and a toddler, but cats are cats.  I could certainly keep a bowl of food filled and fetch some fresh water.  How hard could it be?  After all, I wanted to be neighborly.

 

When I showed up for cat-duty, there was a three-page document of instructions, including a special recipe for each cat, to be prepared twice daily.  Not a general mix-the-crunchy-stuff-with-a-can kind of recipe, mind you.  No, there were measuring cups and at least six ingredients involved. 

 

Also, apparently these kitties didn’t like a messy litter box.

 

Too bad.  Don’t tell my neighbors, but I used a very liberal adaptation of the recipe, and dumped the contents of the litter boxes into the trash on garbage night before their return.

 

And the cats lived. 

 

Which, in hindsight, wasn’t necessarily a good thing, since those neighbors took that two-month vacation every year. 

 

Cat Caretaker. Good Neighbor.  That’s me.

 

It was déjà vu all over again when we moved to Kentucky and onto our farmette.  The previous owner hadn’t mowed for several weeks when we took occupancy, which posed a problem since our tractor wasn’t scheduled to show up for another week.  Right on time, our next-door neighbor showed up with his “lawn system” and offered to help us out.  When he said he didn’t have cats, I breathed a sign of relief.

 

Until he came over about a month later and asked if we’d watch his dog while he and his wife took an extended summer road trip. 

 

No problem.  What are neighbors for?  We took care of the dog. The neighbors returned.

 

About a year after we moved in, there was a heavy overnight rain, and our normally quiet dog barked adamantly through the night.  I checked repeatedly and saw nothing … until dawn, when I looked out to see one of the neighbor’s cows quietly grazing in the yard.

 

Apparently part of the their fence had been damaged in the storm, and the cow had decided to seek greener pastures.  In our yard.

 

We sent the dog out to see if her herding instincts might prove useful, but one long “moooo,” from the Bovine sent her racing back to the house.

 

So I called my neighbor.  “I know it’s early,” I apologized, “but I believe one of your cows is in our yard.”

 

Without hesitating, she replied, “Oh, just shush it on home.”

 

It took a moment to take in what she had said, before I could reply, “Well, we’ve already shushed, and she’s not moving.”

 

“Oh, okay, someone will be down,” she replied, though she failed to say when that might be. So, I packed my kids into the car for school and headed off, with Bessie still grazing in our back yard. 

 

I had an appointment with my OB that morning, and was gone for several hours.  I had forgotten about the cow until I arrived home and found her, standing like a fixture in the driveway. 

 

There I was, seven months pregnant, staring down a two-ton creature who had no intention of going anywhere. 

 

I rolled down the window of my Volkswagon and “shushed” her. 

 

“Moooo.”

 

And that is when I, somewhat brilliantly I might say, decided to try herding her with the car.

 

That’s right. I, a pregnant mother of three, herded the neighbor’s cow home with my VW. 

 

Our neighbor repaired the fence.  We see them occasionally and wave. 

 

And, we mow our own lawn, thank you.

 

Humor writer, Hallie Bandy, is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.

 

More Hallie Bandy articles, click here.

 

©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 2010 

Aug 29

There are many reasons I’m glad I’m a woman.  Shapewear is not one of them.

 

I’ve known girdles existed since I first glimpsed my Grandma’s.  I was probably 7, standing under the display of Playtex undergarments hanging on her clothesline. She saw me staring in wide-eyed wonder. 

 

The bra was for ‘super droopers,’ she told me. The big, lacy underpants were what ladies wear.  "Ladies, except your mother,” she added, in a scolding sort of way.

 

She was right.  My mother, who attended college in the early ‘60s, was a product of her times.  I don’t think she ever burned a bra, but I know she didn’t wear one unless she had to. 

 

She certainly never wore a girdle.  Ever.

 

My Grandma may have thought they were essential for appropriate dress, but my Mom thought they were restrictive.  Maybe even evil.  She would have none of it.

 

Later, when I was feeling the peer pressure to add some grown-up undergarments to my wardrobe, she rolled her eyes and asked why on earth I thought I needed a bra.  I ended up with hand-me-down training bras from a friend, who was a little further ahead on the development path.  Much to my embarrassment, my Mom announced to the entire family that I had a bra on. 

 

From then on, I never spoke of my underwear.  Aside from my honeymoon — for which I shopped alone — I kept things simple and didn’t give much thought to options beyond the basics.

 

Until suddenly, I needed to. 

 

Because, I’d just had my third child, and there was a wedding coming up.  Nothing in my closet fit as it was supposed to, and I was getting desperate.  I was too stubborn to give up and purchase a dress in a larger size, so I started wondering if one of those girdle things might set things aright.  I decided to find out.

 

My first mistake was taking my young children along to the foundations department.  While they were chasing each other through the underwear racks, I discovered what Oprah was later to name one of her “favorite things:”  SPANX.

 

I averted certain disaster by not trying them on at the store.  Instead, I made the purchase and then took them home for the try-on.  But I had no idea how much potential disaster was there, until later that night when, with kids tucked securely in bed, I opened the package… and paused.  There were no directions, no diagrams.  Just a tiny, shiny, tube of stretchiness.

 

Have you heard the story of how Michelangelo stared at a block of marble for weeks before he began carving it into his famous David?  Well, I left those Spanx draped across my dresser for at least a week before I finally felt brave enough to try them on. 

 

Unlike Michelangelo, I didn’t have any tools to work with.  Only my bare hands and not-nearly-flexible-enough limbs. 

 

Which was enough to get the Spanx on — a worthwhile feat, considering how they transformed my post-baby figure, and allowed me to get into that dress I needed to wear.  But standing there, admiring myself in the mirror, I got a little concerned wondering how on earth I was going to get the thing off.

 

And a few signals from my bladder only added to the urgency. My heartrate rose to cardio-workout pace, and I was dripping with sweat.  Yes, it was sheer panic.

 

Yoga wasn’t as popular back then, but I’m quite certain I was in some sort of inversion position when my husband walked in and, noting my obvious distress, asked how he could help.

 

I paused, though not quite long enough fully embrace horror of the moment.

 

“Leave.  NOW.”

 

There are some jobs in life that are meant for one person, and getting in and out of Spanx is one of them. 

 

“I understand,” he said.

 

But he didn’t.  Because no man could, possibly.   I’m not even sure I understand what mix of emotions and social pressure makes a woman want to stuff herself into undergarments like that, but I know this: nevermind the kidney-stone-equals-birthing pain argument.  Unless a man has ever had to try on a bra, a woman’s swimsuit, or Spanx, he doesn’t understand.  


And won’t.  Ever.

 

Thanks, anyway.

 

Humor writer Hallie Bandy is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.
 

 


More Hallie Bandy articles, click here.
 

 


©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 2010 

Sep 26

Try as I might to make sure our kids eat well, it proves a constant uphill battle. 

 

One of our sons spent some time with a friend a few days ago, and his behavior was so unusual when he came back, my husband and I were a bit troubled.   I mean, I really don’t have any reason to suspect that this kid would even have access to – much less experiment with – illegal substances, but he was so wound up, I felt I had to ask.

 

And so I did. 

 

“MOM!” he replied, obviously shocked and offended at my insinuation.  “ALL we had was candy, coke and doughnuts,” he explained.

 

Immediately it all made sense.

 

While I’m grateful that my suspicions were as far off-base as I hoped they were, I sometimes wonder if we should be just as concerned about sugar and caffeine consumption.

 

I’ve watched elementary students with a tray of healthy food provided by the cafeteria — macaroni and cheese, applesauce, turkey, fresh fruit cup – eat nothing but the white frosting off the cake intended for a post-meal dessert.  And squirm and fidget for the remaining lunchtime. 

 

Those moments confirm my “Not-A-Teacher” calling.

 

It’s hard enough at our home to limit the amount of sugar and caffeine my kids consume.  Of course, I do occasionally purchase candy and soda — as treats, intended to be consumed infrequently and in small quantities.  But I’ve discovered that means I have to hide it or lock it up.

 

And even then, there are no guarantees.

 

Because my kids love contraband sweets.

 

When they were little, a high shelf worked most of the time.  Although there was the lovely summer evening I put the kids to bed and sat out on the patio for a while.  I didn’t hear anything, but someone obviously heard me as I was coming in, because when I walked into the kitchen, there was a chair in front of the open freezer, and a spoon in the open ice-cream container. 

 

Evidence of their pilfering is everywhere.  Pull out a piece of furniture to sweep, and behold the plethora of empty candy-bar wrappers.  Hike through our woods and note the pop cans conveniently discarded in obscure places.

 

And really, it has just snowballed as the kids learned their sneakiest tactics from each other.  How else would my youngest have learned so much?  Like the time when she was merely three, I found her, standing on the counter, both hands full of the week’s supply of lunch-sized candy bars.  And though her mouth was full of chewy chocolaty goodness, she still managed to tell me, “I need pockets.”

 

I have a friend with seven kids and I have always wondered how she controlled the intake of sweets in her home.  She has a large pantry, but there is no candy in it.  Because, when they built their home, she installed a large backup pantry, which she keeps locked.  By now, most of her kids know where the key is, though.  Which explains why, when she was hosting a bonfire, I couldn’t find the s’mores supplies in either pantry. 

 

They were in the gun safe.

 

Humor writer Hallie Bandy is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.
 

 


More Hallie Bandy articles, click here.
 

 


©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 2010 

 

Nov 21

It didn’t take long after our oldest daughter left for college before her brother took over her room. 

 

In fact, the debate over who was going to get her room started long before she left.  Her little sister campaigned, telling me I wouldn’t have to paint the room if she moved in – she’d be perfectly happy with the hot-pink walls.

 

But, despite extra points for cuteness, she never came close to scoring the coveted real estate.

 

Truth is, I couldn’t wait to separate our boys.  Because, say what you will about building character and learning to get along, my boys have shared a room their entire lives, and it’s been nothing but trouble.

 

I had no idea about this, because, growing up, I had one sister.   Boys were a mystery. 

 

When I was expecting our third child, people would ask if I wanted a girl or a boy.  I would tell them:  “My son would like a brother more than my daughter would like a sister.” 

 

Little did I know.

 

After the second son was born, the first prayed, “Help us be good buddies,” and I would think, “how sweet.”  Trust me — even at the tender age of three, he did not have anything “sweet” in mind. 

 

He needed someone to climb to the top bunk and reach precariously to the ceiling fan to place small objects on the blades, so he could then flip the “on” switch and launch said objects.

 

He also needed a punching bag.  I know, because when we purchased a punching bag for him for Christmas one year, he said, “This is great! Now I don’t have to use Joe.”

 

I’ve thought out loud how my boys are best friends, and best enemies.  “That’s the definition of brothers,” one father commented. 

 

I think he’s right.

 

I mean, when we moved to the farmette, they spent weeks together in the woods, constructing a home-away-from-home for themselves from cardboard boxes and scrap lumber.  And I remember the “unfortunate mishap” involving a sled and a tree, when my older son carried his brother all the way back to the house.

 

But then there were the times they locked each other in the chicken coop. 

 

For a while, my younger son was small enough to crawl out the hen’s door.  Of course, I knew immediately when he’d taken that escape route! (Yes, I made him strip to his skivvies when he did that!)  But it took awhile before I realized why my older son wouldn’t show up for dinner on occasion.  And little brother wasn’t exactly forthcoming about the fact that his brother was locked up with a bunch of fowl.

 

I’d always ask what in the world they were thinking.  And I always get the same response.

 

“I dunno.”

 

It’s their favorite answer.  Like they never think.  Which is ridiculous, because they’re always thinking. 

 

Some of my husband’s most ingenious moments occurred when he hatched plots to bedevil his brother. 

 

Once of his favorite antics was to wait in the hall, arms outstretched, when he heard his brother made a midnight trek to the bathroom.  After the inevitable sissy-scream, my husband would return silently back to bed and tell his brother to quit waking him up with his silly nightmares.  (“What a wimp.”)

 

I ask myself: why would anyone bother to get out of bed for something so ridiculous?  But I get the inkling this stuff is universal for males.  My boys had not even heard that story when they started scaring each other.  The younger was only two when he concocted the brilliant plot to wait under the bed and grab his brother’s ankles when he came in the room. 

 

We thought someone had been shot.

 

And the scaring is just part of the bigger plot to divide and conquer. 

 

When their big sister left, the first territory to conquer was her room.  Now that they all have their own interior space, they focus on who gets the front seat on the way to school.  

 

That’s right, they’re calling shotgun. 

 

Every morning. 

 

Because apparently the rules are, you can’t call it the night before. 

 

I don’t know all the rules to shot gun.  I’ve consulted the official shotgun rules website (http://www.shotgunrules.com), but let’s be honest:  who cares? I just want everyone in the car on time.  But the front seat is now their holy grail, and, as far as my boys are concerned, it’s worth a fist-fight to sit there for the 20 minutes it takes to transport them to school. 

 

At least when they get home, I can send them to their — separate — rooms.

 

Humor writer Hallie Bandy is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.
 

 


More Hallie Bandy articles, click here.
  

 


©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 2010 

 

 

Dec 05

I believed in Santa far longer than most of my peers. 

 

Because in my family, it was sacrilege not to believe in Santa.

 

How convenient for my Mom.  For an entire month, my behavior was noted daily on The Calendar.  A red X for a good day; a black X for a bad day, counting down to that Most Wonderful Day of All Days:  Christmas.

 

Oh, how I tried to have at least 13 red Xs.  And to impress Santa we went to see him.

 

Mom would dress us up, curl my hair (my sister has naturally curly hair, just like Peanuts’ Sally Brown), and take us downtown to sit in the lap of “The Real Santa,” along with our cousins.  Afterwards, we’d have lunch, and my older cousin would announce – with a wink to the adults - that she had checked, and this, for sure, was absolutely The Real Santa.  No fake beard on this one.

 

Once I spotted a tell-tale elastic band holding the beard on “Santa’s” face.  My shock and dismay was met with the reassurance that, sometimes, The Real Santa can’t make it, and one of the elves has to sit in.  Perhaps he was sick.  Good behavior from the children of the world would help him feel better.

 

My Grandmother was one of the biggest proponents of the Santa story.  Each year, she would read from the source of all truth, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, an editorial – written by a real grownup, who told the truth – which described, in detail, actual sightings of Santa. 

 

Eventually, I figured out it was all a big behavior-control conspiracy.

 

And it seems funny now, I wanted so badly to believe that I bought all those crazy stories.  Especially since my Grandmother always gave better gifts than Santa.  And also because it was so stinkin’ hard to avoid those dreaded black Xs on the calendar. 

 

But, it was good enough for me.

 

I wish it had been good enough for my kids.  Goodness knows, I tried.

 

From the time they could walk, I dressed up my kids at Christmas and marched them downtown to meet The Real Santa. 

 

My second son’s first trip was his last.  After positioning his two older siblings for the perfect Christmas pose, we placed the toddler gently on Santa’s lap.

 

He let out a blood-curdling scream that had every mother in line putting her hands over her child’s ears. 

 

The camera snapped. 

 

And there we had it.  Daughter smiling, just as she’d been told.  First son, trying to smile as he’d been told, but having a difficult time hiding his concern.

 

And second son:  red-faced, eyes squeezed shut, mouth open so wide you could see his tonsils.

 

My husband and I stopped to examine the photo – and debate whether or not to shell out the $10 for the image, which was, of course, priceless.  It was only a second when we turned around and noticed that he was missing.

 

Everyone in line had been watching us anyway, and noticed the distressed looks on our faces.  All 50 people pointed in the same direction.

 

And there he was, face smushed against the glass in the front window of The Gap, staring out at the crowd, looking just like an elf. 

 

And of course, as soon as we got home, I made sure I marked his calendar with one big, black X on that day.

 

Humor writer Hallie Bandy is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.
 

 


More Hallie Bandy articles, click here.
  

 


©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 2010 

Dec 19

It’s that time of year.  Shopping.  Baking.  Wrapping. 

 

And going to the kids’ holiday band concerts.

 

I’m the daughter of musicians.  I can’t remember a December calendar that wasn’t booked with musical events. 

 

And for my children, playing an instrument is, as we must often remind them, “part of their education until they graduate.” 

 

What I’m sure they don’t realize is, sometimes sitting through a concert makes me question whether I really need to enforce that policy.

 

When our kids were young, they took private lessons, and played in studio recitals given by students well rehearsed by a private teacher, and attended by parents with an appreciation for the fine arts.  Those concerts were marked by repeat performances of Variations on “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” Theme. 

 

But then we entered the world of public school music programs.

 

And required concerts, held three times each year. 

 

In the middle school gymnasium.

 

It’s a whole new world.

 

We enter along with other weary parents, and the dragged-along siblings, sitting impatiently on the bleachers, which have been pulled out for the occasion.

 

It’s a long way from polished recital halls and church sanctuaries, but it’s what we have.

 

Three bands — sixth-, seventh- and eight-grade — seated before us, waiting to share the music they have learned since the last concert.   Music which, given the limited funding for school music programs and the fact that I have more than one child, I have heard before. 

 

I check the program to estimate the length of the concert, and then, I pray a blessing on the band director.  After all, unlike athletic coaches who can select members of their teams and what positions they play, she has no control over who signs up for band.  She has no idea what lack of musical talent lurks behind the eager face of the beginner flutist.  She might suggest that, perhaps, Matilda choose something other than the clarinet, but in the end, she must direct the ensemble as it presents itself.  Including all 20 drummers.

 

(Drums are a good instrument for middle school boys.  I know.  First hand.)

 

The young musicians all adorn their required uniforms:  a golf shirt, nicely embroidered, and black pants, purchased solely for these occasions and obviously never worn at other times.  For many, the inevitable pubescent growth spurt, which occurred after the purchase was made for the fall concert, has transformed the pants into capris for the holiday concert.  White athletic socks complete the look. 

 

Gymnasium acoustics somehow make it nearly impossible to hear the announcements made by the school administration and the band director, but enhance to an almost painful degree the unmistakable squonk of beginner clarinet. 

 

And inevitably, a young sibling escapes the clutches of a well-meaning guardian and performs a dance routine as a side show…

 

More than once, I’ve looked over to see a parent blissfully  - and unmistakably - sporting iPod ear buds.  I look disdainfully to my husband and mouth the words, “That’s bad.”  And he always replies, gesturing to the band, “No, that’s bad.”  I think he’d pull out an iPod himself, if he knew I wouldn’t strangle him with the cords.

 

Of course, that doesn’t keep us from utilizing electronic devices. During the cacophony of one performance by the orchestra, my phone buzzed with a text from a friend, sitting on the opposite side of the auditorium. 

 

“What is the difference between a viola and a cello,” he asked.

 

And before I could reply with what I thought was an obvious answer, he followed up:  “A cello takes longer to burn.”

 

I replayed these scenes in my mind recently as my younger son told me he really wanted to drop band.  It didn’t take me long to rescind my requirement about music being part of his education. He is one of 11 drummers, and I knew the concert could go on without him. And it did.

 

I made the call to the guidance office and had him placed in a different class.

 

Merry Christmas to me!

 

Humor writer Hallie Bandy is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.
 

 


More Hallie Bandy articles, click here.
  

 


©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 2010 

Jan 02

This time of year, you can’t get out of the “What’s your new year’s resolution?” conversation.  Judging from television commercials and web ads, losing weight is at the top of many people’s lists. 

 

My new year’s resolutions used to be quests that would turn me into a Martha Stewart protégé.  A really skinny one.  Who was also in good shape.

 

But no more. 

 

It’s not a bad thing to establish new eating and exercise habits.  But, like so many others, my tendency to overeat and skip the daily exercise regimen is usually due to incessant issues of stress and lack of time. 

 

So, I decided made reducing stress and making more time for myself part of my goals for the year.

 

In other words, I avoid things that annoy me and/or waste my time.

 

It started a few years ago, when I decided I would not go to WalMart after Thanksgiving.  This accomplished both goals: more time, less stress.  Because WalMart is a cultural center in our community.  I can’t enter that windowless cement-block cavern without meeting someone I know – which leads to a conversation that wasn’t in the schedule — and buying numerous items I didn’t know I needed.  


I never left that place in a good mood.

 

No more.  My six-week experiment went so well, I never turned back.  It’s been years since I stepped foot inside a WalMart.

 

But why stop there?

 

I quit beating myself up for not keeping up with my Grandmother’s standards of housekeeping.  (They were higher than Martha’s.)  That means I ignore cobwebs until I have time to dust. 

 

I don’t answer my kids’ dumb questions anymore, either.  If they ask where the milk is, I just let them answer the question on their own in the pregnant silence. 

 

I leave a little early in the morning to avoid the morning carpool congestion at my kids’ schools.  They don’t necessarily enjoy getting out of bed five minutes early; it’s their gift to me.

 

If I trip over toys or shoes left out, I place them in the “you’ll have to buy this back” basket.

 

And if anyone asks why, I tell them: I’m avoiding things that annoy me or waste my time.

 

It’s the best diet I’ve ever been on.

 

Humor writer Hallie Bandy is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.
 

 


More Hallie Bandy articles, click here.
  

 


©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC  

 

Jan 16

I remember when my oldest daughter turned 13.

 

I knew it was coming, but, as it goes with many of life’s milestones, I didn’t really have a clue how to prepare. 

 

Despite my fierce determination not to be defined as “mother of a teenage daughter,” you can’t ignore age 13 — the zenith of adolescence.  I tried not to take things too personally, because, as teenagers go, she really didn’t give me much to complain about.  Monosyllabic, yes.  But she did talk. 

 

I must confess, however; despite my best efforts, our shopping experience was completely transformed.  No longer a mother-daughter bonding opportunity, it became an exercise in character building and physical stamina.  For me.

 

I first noticed this new phase looking for her Easter dress – er, ensemble.  It was then I recalled, from the far recesses of my own adolescent memory, the tricky rules to shopping with a teenage girl.  The trickiest part: Mom has to figure the rules out on her own.

 

Trouble is, I’m the Mom.

 

Rule number one is obvious almost immediately:  daughter must not purchase anything from a store whose name is on any article of clothing that Mom owns.   In other words:  if mom has one, it is automatically NOT cool.  The only exception here is if mom splurges on a trendy high-priced item, in which case it will likely be absorbed into the daughter’s wardrobe.

 

Slowly, other rules have come back to me.

 

There must be at least two feet of space between us at all times.  (If no one knows we’re together, that’s better.)

 

If I spot the item, there is no way it is cool, or cute, or in any way desirable.  (This is closely related to rule number one but was sometimes circumvented if I nonchalantly placed an item in an obvious place while my daughter wasn’t looking.  She owns a fabulous little black dress thanks to that tactic.)

 

Another rule: fashion is all that matters.  Price and practicality are completely inconsequential.  When I ask where she’ll wear something, I may as well be speaking Chinese. 

 

Also: every outfit must be completely accessorized. 

 

I’ve managed to learn and follow the rules and we work fairly well together, though we have had our share of mis-buys.  I don’t know what I was thinking when I purchased her track-season sweats.  I do know what she was thinking:  fashion.  Hot pink, slim-fitting fashion.  Neither one of us was thinking, school colors (blue and red), or 40° and rain.   That is, until a dreary Saturday meet, when, through chattering blue lips, she admitted, “I think I need some warm sweats.” 

 

“How hard can this be?” my husband chided me, completely unaware of the numerous times I had made a valiant parental stand for value and practicality. 

 

“I’ll take her,” he said with that it-takes-a-man-to-get-this-done tone.

 

Smiling at his naïve confidence, I concealed my, you’re-gonna-fail certainty when he said they were heading to WalMart.  I nearly laughed out loud imagining the fashion debate in the aisle between intimates and electronics.

 

I tried to fill him in on the rules, but he just brushed it off.  

 

“We’ll be back in an hour,” he assured me.

 

Secretly, I hoped he would experience what I’d endured.  I wanted him to feel my pain.  He’d have more empathy, give me a bigger budget. 

 

But it was nothing like I’d thought. 

 

They came home laughing.  I think someone even said, “Good time.” 

 

The relief that I could check “buy decent sweats” off my list was completely overshadowed by the knock-out blow to my confidence. What in the world had I been doing wrong?   I felt really inadequate.  Could a man actually make the female teenage shopping experience a pleasure?

 

I was too proud to ask them straight-out.  It took several days of nonchalant covert investigation to piece it all together. 

 

“I started to reach toward the pink sweats,” she told me.  “But Dad shouted, ‘NO!’

He handed me the black and gray ones, and I put them in the cart.”

 

“That’s all?” I asked.

 

“Well, then I went and tried on every shoe in the store, even the ugly ones, just to see what they looked like on my feet.”

“Really?” I was trying not to act completely shocked.  “What did Dad have to say?” 

 

“Oh, nothing.  He was looking at guns and ammo.”

 

Of course he was. 

 

This didn’t count as shopping.  Anyone could have thrown a pair of generic gray, size-small sweatpants into a shopping cart.

 

But I do give him partial credit.  He was obeying the two-foot rule.        

 

Humor writer Hallie Bandy is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.
 

 

More Hallie Bandy articles, click here.
  

 

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC  

Jan 17

As a mother of four boys, I often hear, “Oh, you must have your hands full with four boys.”

 

Hands full?  It’s my ears that are full, listening to guffaws and giggles after the mention of male private parts and inappropriate bodily noises.   Not to mention the flabbergasting things I have to say to keep them from killing themselves, someone else and/or each other.

 

In one day, I’ve scolded, “A light bulb will not cook the creepy crawlers,” and, “Of course the dog’s invisible fence collar will work when it’s around your brother’s neck!”

 

When I saw my third son, who was then 5-years old, holding a garbage bag over his head , getting ready to jump over the top edge of our (very high) tree fort, I quickly yelled, “STOP! A garbage bag is a terrible parachute!” 

 

Unfortunately, I knew that because his older brothers had tried the same thing when they were around that age.

 

One son seemed to be particularly fascinated with sticking things in other people’s ears.  After one such incident which required a trip to the principal’s office for my son and a trip to the ER for his friend, out of my mouth flew, “Why did you think that was a good idea?” 

 

“Because I wanted to see if it would come out his other ear,” he said, seemingly perplexed I could ask such a stupid question.   A month or so later, I had to ask this same son, “Why didn’t you see if the Legos would come through your digestive tract first, instead of making your little brother eat them?” 

 

On another trip to the hospital ER, I had to ask of my youngest son, “Why did you think wearing Superman underpants would enable you to fly off of the top bunk?”

 

Saying this stuff defies logic and makes you feel as crazy after it comes out of your mouth as the behavior that solicited it. 

 

Many-a-dinner has been interrupted with flatulence.  I tried to put a curb on it by requiring them to put money into my “Swine Fine Bucket” every time they “slipped.”  That is, until I overheard one of them bragging about being the most flatulent at the dinner table. 

 

That night we discussed setting higher goals.

 

I remember the moment they added the word “booger” to their repertoire, substituting the phrase, “you know what,” for “booger,” so as not to get a rise out of me.

 

“You know what is on the window, you know what is on the chair, you know what is on the table, you know what is in my hair,” my oldest sang with glee, making his younger brothers collapse to the floor in laughter.

 

I didn’t want to, but the situation actually called for me to say, “Ok boys, let’s not discuss or sing about boogers anymore!” 

 

I’ve admonished, “Don’t smear peanut butter on the dog; don’t use the Spaghetti-O sauce to write your name on the counter” and, “Fuss all you want, you’re NOT having ketchup on your cereal.”  I’ve also said, “Please do not eat your sleeve,” Do not use your sleeve to wipe your nose,” and “Stop chewing holes in your shirt collar.”

 

Answers to questions about whether or not they washed their hands before eating were cut off prematurely with, “And having the dog lick them doesn’t count!” 

 

Dirt used to be one of my boys’ favorite collections, which never bothered me until my second son tried to plant flowers and vegetables in his pockets—not forgetting that seeds need plenty of water to grow and a few earthworms probably would help, too.  After my washing machine clogged with and, dirt and seeds, flooding both the laundry room and the basement, a new rule was laid down: No more gardening in your pants. 

 

I’ve had to beg all of my kids, at one time or another, to stop biting the dog, stop licking the dog, stop eating the dog’s food and to stop drinking the poor dog’s water. 

 

I have also been forced to say, “Don’t paint on your brother,” “Your brother didn’t need a haircut today,” “Quit eating the soap,” and “What did you think was inside this pillow?” 

 

After one particular long day of begging, bargaining, pleading and cajoling, I was really looking forward to a long, solitary soak in my tub.  As I sank down in the bubbles, I landed on something sharp and gritty.  Pulling a fistful of very sandy, very dirty army men from the bottom made me realize I’d have to start the next day with yet another edict: No more building bunkers for their army men in my bathtub.

 

My boys are now 23, 20, 17 and 14.  The messes they make now are bigger and tend to cost more to clean up.  Bodily noises still crack them up, they still can’t keep their hands off of each other and they never want to wear coats, even when it’s snowing outside.  And though my oldest lives on his own and the rest are relatively self-sufficient, I still can’t believe some of the stuff I have to say to correct them.  

 

Take this morning, for instance.  I had to ask the two youngest to stop jumping and tapping both hands on top of the doorframe every time they walked into the kitchen.   Every doorframe in my house is thick with fingerprints.    

 

And then, minutes later, my second son, who was running late for church, took his bowl of instant oatmeal in the car and actually wanted to carry it into church with him to finish eating.     

 

That’s right.  I actually had to say…   

 

Diana Keough is the mother of four sons and co-founder and editor-in-chief of ShareWIK.com
   


 

Read more Diana Keough articles, here. 
 

 

©2010 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC    

 

Jan 30

Just last weekend at a party, my friends had tears rolling down their cheeks, they were laughing so hard as I was telling one of my “stupid Ginger stories,” about the time my boyfriend and I were at an art exhibit that was so crowded we had to walk single file down a long hallway. My boyfriend and I were still holding hands as we side-stepped between the narrow walls. People kept stopping me to say hello, which would pull my boyfriend up short, as he was still holding my outstretched hand. 

About the third time this happened, I got engrossed in a story a friend was telling me. While my hand was still stretched out behind me, holding my boyfriend’s hand, my face and body were turned the other way, hanging on to every word my friend was saying. I knew I was taking too long, so I started gently caressing my boyfriend’s hand behind me – rubbing his palm, giving his hand little squeezes, letting him know I was trying to hurry. As my friend finished telling her story, I turned around to continue following my boyfriend down the hall, and I see that I have been holding hands with a complete stranger! Not just holding hands, practically making love to his hand! That’s when he smiled and revealed a mouth full of gold teeth. I stammered an apology, but he and his friends just laughed and said they thought it was a riot. I could see my boyfriend smirking in good cheer a few feet away. There I had been, engrossed in a story, with my hand outstretched behind me, sending private love signals to an urban rap artist I’d never met!



Jan 30

There is one brief, blissful moment when I love a snow day: that moment when the cell phone buzzes with the “no school today” text, and I can turn off the alarm, roll over, and avoid the chilly morning air for just a while longer. 

 

I used to love snow days. Used to.  When I was young. 

 

Now I’m a grown up, and I’ve obviously outgrown the childhood art of wasting time.

 

Not that I want to take away from what is every kids’ rite of passage.  There is something magical about being snuggled in a cocoon of warm blankets, and hearing someone in the distant darkness say, “No school today; go back to sleep.”

 

Actually, I often enjoy the time after I make that announcement, too.  A quiet kitchen with a cup of coffee, no grumpy teenagers, and no deadline for anyone to get out the door.

 

But those magical moments are long forgotten by noon, when boredom and chaos reign.

 

Being an Ohio native, I have certain expectations of a snow day.  Like snow.  And winter activities. 

 

The Kentucky version just doesn’t cut it. 

 

Actually, Kentucky has two variations of the snow day. 

 

We have ice-storm snow days, which involve major power outages, impassable roads, and general mayhem.  They are miserable. 

 

I’ve lived through two major ice storms since we moved here.  One with electricity, and one without.  What I’ve learned is, when you hear the forecast and see that big green mass moving slowly across the radar map, pack up the car and flee!  Head south

 

I started to do just that prior to the last ice storm, and my husband talked me out of it.  Then, after the third day with no electricity, he said, “This would have been so much easier if it was just me and the dog.” 

 

Enough said.  Next time it will be just him and the dog.  I promise.

 

Kentucky also has legitimate snow days.  Except, Kentucky doesn’t get legitimate snow.  A light dusting is enough to close schools, but as any real-winter aficionado will tell you, it’s not enough to enjoy any wonderful winter activities – sledding, building a snow fort or a snow man, or skiing.  Heck, you usually can’t even make a decent snowball. 

 

More often than not, it all melts before noon.

 

By the end of our first winter here, after way too many days housebound with rambunctious kids, I told my husband: “One more snow day and I’m taking the kids — and the Visa card —  to Chuck E. Cheese!”

 

And I made a mental note: Mom needs a snow-day plan.

 

There have been winters when a snow day eluded us.  One year, having had no snow days by President’s day, the sign at one school read, “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!” Someone added, “Pretty please.”

 

Those are the nights my children solemnly turn their pajamas inside out, perform the snow dance and pray, “Let there be a snow day.”

 

I get so caught up in their hope and expectation, I forget all about that snow-day plan.

 

Until everyone meanders into the kitchen around 10 a.m.  How can something so anticipated become so miserable so quickly?

 

Don’t get me wrong. I love my kids, and enjoy spending time with them. But in the context of our everyday lives, we all have jobs. The kids’ job is: go to school. Which also means: get out of my way while I’m doing my job.

 

Not so on a snow day.  

 

As the manager of a normally pretty-well-run and very busy family, I suddenly find myself with a big hole in the agenda, and a bunch of kids looking at me saying, “Now what?”

 

And this is when that childhood art of blowing time could come in handy.  My idea of how to spend this unexpected gift of free time is so different from my kids’.  I think: clean, organize, accomplish. They think: goof off, annoy, pillage. 

 

Obviously, we’re going in opposite directions.

 

The boys go straight outside to the shady corner of the yard where the snow hasn’t yet melted. Snowman? Ha! Throw snowballs at your sister’s bedroom.  See if she’ll yell enough to steam up her window.  Or better yet, maybe she’ll open the window to scream at you to “stop,” and you can lob one so it lands on her bed.

 

Then see if your brother will fall for that old trick: “Is this snowball as big as your face?  Come here, let me see ….”  

 

A snow day can raise the art of whining to new levels for girls. Why can’t we gooooo shoooooooping?

 

Meanwhile, an entire candy supply can be wiped out during a brief absence from the kitchen.  (The culprit is easily identified. Two words: sugar high.)

 

By lunchtime — which, on a snow day is around 2 p.m. — chaos reigns.  Underwear hangs from the satellite dish, the dog’s toenails have been polished, there are several modge-podge projects drying on the dining-room table, the youngest is on her fourth Disney princess movie, and I’m afraid if I attempt to break up another fist fight, I might be the one who gets hurt.

 

It’s at this point I decide physical activity would do everyone a world of good.  I also realize, thanks to my practical approach to the “mild Kentucky winter,” we are lacking decent winter gear.  So, we venture out to the local gym, where I can lock the boys in a racquetball room or let them work out their differences on the basketball court. 

 

Somehow, I manage to forget all this frustration when the alarm goes off and they have to go back to school.  There’s a twinge of sadness.  Kind of like I’m sad on the first day of school. Sad that I was ever annoyed to have my kids underfoot. Sad that I didn’t have the good sense to appreciate the time with them.   

 

And sad I won’t get to enjoy going back to sleep for a bit.

 

Humor writer Hallie Bandy is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.
 

 

More Hallie Bandy articles, click here.
  

 

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC  

Feb 14

The dream always starts with the monthly arrival of my Bon Appétit magazine.  In it are pictures of adults sitting around an outdoor table, dining al fresco and sipping wine, always looking so pleasant.  Everyone’s smiling.  They’re having fun.  Some are tilting their heads, concentrating on what seems to be incredibly stimulating conversation.  The table is overflowing with grilled vegetables and dainty kabobs skewering tender scallops and juicy morsels of beef, all lit up by the glow of torches.
 

It’s perfection.  I want that.  And I want that bad.  I want to bask in the essence of great food and outdoor lighting and throw my head back and cackle with spontaneous laughter. 
 

I start making my grocery list with high hopes that this time will be different than all the other times I’ve tried to push my family of four little boys and one picky husband to a culinary high beyond macaroni and cheese. 



Trolling every grocery store in a 20-mile radius in search of all the exotic ingredients I need for this fantasy meal, leaves me little time, between naps and car pools, to actually prepare it.  But I will not be denied.  I slice, chop, marinate and dip stuff, stopping every five minutes to break up a squabble, clean sand out of the baby’s mouth or run someone to baseball practice.  With the outdoor table set and the torches in ready position, I fire up the grill and toss the tuna steaks and veggies on, calling everyone to eat. 
 

As they reluctantly approach the table, my oldest rolls his eyes and whispers to his brother, “I betcha this one’s from a magazine again.  We’d better be sweet.”
 

Unfortunately, my 5-year old, noticing the hefty dish of pesto-covered noodles sitting smack dab in the middle of the table, doesn’t know how to whisper or spare mommy’s feeling and blurts out, “Oooh yuck, what is this stuff?”  Fond of imitating everything his brothers do, the 2-year old repeats the question and takes off for the sandbox.  After heading him off at the swing set, my husband corrals the rest, reminding them all about the oldest of our house rules: All I ask is that you try it.
 

“Nooo way, dad.  This stuff looks disgusting!  It’s green!” my second son says, and I know he’s old enough to know how to spare my feelings.  But I guess he’s so overcome with negative emotions about the color green he’s forgotten all the manners I have forced on him the past eight years of his life.
 

“Sit down,” my husband barks and they obey.  I get the fish and the veggies off the grill, bringing my feast to my men on serving platters that haven’t seen the light of day since last month’s attempt at civility.
 

“Are those new plates?” my husband asks. 

 

“No honey, and you ask me that every month,” I tell remind him. As I serve it all up, I pause to brush the flies away and have to move one of the torches because we’re beginning to choke on its exhaust.  I know I have never seen images of pesky insects and overly active torches in the pages of my magazine.  Nor did I ever see anyone else’s children gagging on the pesto, whining about bones in the fish, or beginning to slide down in their seat and disappear under the table.  No one is secretly feeding the dog the marinated fish, throwing the veggies into the garden or sporting food in their hair.  Not a soul in those magazine spreads has dumped over an entire glass of milk, fallen backwards in his chair or wiped green noodle remnants down the front of his shirt.  And I bet no one has been sent to his room for trying to sneak half-eaten fish into their pockets either.

 

I also didn’t notice any of the adults in those pictures yelling, “Get off the ground and back in your chair, Tommy!”  “You two, stop kicking each other.”  “Please close your mouth while you’re eating.” 
 

Ahhh.  The ambience of good food and deep and meaningful conversation.
 

After it’s all said and done, I’m surrounded by picked-over plates and little boys leaving the table giving each other high-fives, as fellow members of the “I- Ate-Something-Green-and-Lived-to-Talk-About-It-Club.”  I feel somewhat defeated but pleased they at least tried a little of everything. 



I can hardly wait for next month’s magazine.

 

Diana Keough is the mother of four sons and co-founder and editor-in-chief of ShareWIK.com. 
 

 

Read more Diana Keough articles, here. 


 

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC   

 

Feb 28

In our family, the math aptitude genes appear to have gone to a single child.  The rest of us, like so many other right-brained people, struggle with numbers.

 

Although, I must brag a little bit.  I am really good at logic.  Aced it in college, in fact.  Which was a very fortunate thing since it was a math credit.

 

Thing is, the older I get, the more I realize how useful math can be.  On a daily basis, I use algebra and geometry in practical ways.  Not to mention statistics, which I never even really studied.

 

But, there is another branch of math, not taught in school, which I use every day.  I’ve had to learn it as I go along.

 

I call it Mom Math. 

 

It never adds up.  And it will drive a logic buff crazy.

 

If you doubt me, here is a quick test to see if you have Mom Math Skillz.

 

 

1) It’s been four days since I washed underwear.  After washing all the dirty clothes in the laundry room, there is no underwear in my son’s clean laundry pile.  How long is he wearing one pair of underwear?

A – 4 days

B – 8 days

C – 1 day

Correct answer:  C. 

There are six dirty pair under his bed.

 

 

2) There are two parents and four children in our family: How many socks do we launder each week?

A – 84

B – 112

C – 111

Correct answer: C. 

Some kids require a fresh pair of socks for workouts (I’ll write about that in another column).  And there is always — always! — a sock missing.

 

 

3) I bought 65 candy bars.  Four kids will each pack a lunch every day.  How long will the candy last?

A – 3 weeks

B – 3 days

C – 3 hours

Correct answer: C. 

(See my column, Revenge of the Candy Snitchers.)

 

 

4) Two children go to the grocery store with my last $10.  They are supposed to purchase a half-gallon of milk for about $2.50.   The grocery store is a five-minute drive.  How long until they get home?  How much change will they bring me?

A – 15 minutes, with $7.50 in change

B – 20 minutes, with $5.00 in change

C – 2 hours, with no change

Correct answer:  depends on which two children.  (Yes, this was a trick question.)  But you can bet the longer they are gone, the less money they will return with.

 

 

5) I have four children.  If each child is assigned two nights each week to do dishes, how many nights will I have to do the dishes?

A – 0

B – 2

C – 7

Correct answer:  If you’re thinking, “none of the above,” that’s probably right.  There are so many legitimate excuses to escape dish duty, it will be years before this system works as it should.

 

 

6) We’re having a birthday party for one of our kids.  We post the event on Facebook and send out printed invites.  There are 34 replies on Facebook.  Two people call and say they will come.  How many people come to the party?

A – 36, Maybe

B – 60, Maybe

C – 24, Maybe

Correct Answer: Any of the above.

I’ll lose count, anyway.

 

 

7) How many pets does a family with four children need?

A – One per person

B -  One per household

C – One of each species

Correct Answer: Take your youngest child to PetsMart when the Humane Society is there and see if they have any cute kittens.  (At least, that’s the answer our family uses.)

 

 

8) Family road trip!  Mapquest says the route should take eight hours.  Allowing time for stops, if we leave at 8 a.m., what time will we arrive?

A – 5 p.m.

B – 8 p.m.

C – There is no way we will ever leave at 8 a.m.  EVER.

Correct Answer:  C. 

Actually, the best answer is, tell your husband you’re leaving two hours before you really want to get on the road. 

 

 

9) By the time I’ve mothered my kids from infancy through college and beyond, how much will my accumulated in back pay and bonuses be worth?

 

We all know the correct answer — it’s obvious and sappy: priceless.

 

Humor writer Hallie Bandy is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing. She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist. 

 

More Hallie Bandy articles, click here.
  


 

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC  


 

 

Mar 13

Growing up, I remember “that Mom” in our neighborhood.  You know whom I’m talking about.  The entire neighborhood knew the names of all her children — and the dog, too.  You knew when it was time for dinner, when it was time to go to somewhere … and you definitely knew when someone had crossed her.

 

There was one in my neighborhood, and it seemed there was one in all my friends’ neighborhoods, too.

 

I vowed never to be “that mom.” 

 

Living in the country, though, I must admit I have sometimes heard the echo of my own voice reverberating through the back hollar.  It’s not a pleasant sound.  And I remind myself, “Don’t be that Mom.” 

 

I learned to whistle loudly enough to get anyone’s attention within a quarter mile.  And I installed a bell.  But I still found myself calling, occasionally.

 

But then, texting came to our family.

 

I’m usually an early adopter, but I didn’t take to texting right away.  Much to my children’s dismay.   They begged and begged and begged.  I’m quite sure for some time we were the only family on the planet without a texting plan.

 

It didn’t help that my daughter wracked up a $600 bill the first month she had a cell phone.  Fortunately, I didn’t have to pay – her new plan offered a complimentary month of unlimited texting – but I couldn’t imagine why we needed to encourage that.

 

Eventually, though, the constant badgering wore me down and we got an unlimited texted plan.

 

And that’s when the fun started.  For me.

 

Because the deal with the unlimited texting family plan is, I get to text my kids.  And I quickly realized that it comes in quite handy.

 

No more calling everyone for dinner, trying to project my voice through closed doors.  No more trips upstairs to tell them to turn down their music, or quit fighting, or wake up …

 

One simple text takes care of it.

 

Really.  I like it. 

 

And the phone bills prove it.  I regularly have the highest number of texts on our unlimited plan.

 

Which drives my kids nuts.

 

Because while they have no problem answering numerous texts from an ever-growing contact list, the best I can get is a “K.”

 

I’m told I don’t “get it” when it comes to the lingo.  For instance, as you probably know, because everyone in the world except me knows, “Y” in text-talk, means “why,” not “yes.”  That can lead to misunderstandings.

 

“R U Coming to get me?”

“Y”

“BC its cold & rainy.”

“Y.  I know.”

 

My husband is even worse. 

“Thanks.  <3 U,” I text.

“<3 U?  What is that?” he replies.

 

Like most families, we also had to sort out when texting is appropriate – for the kids.  The obvious no-texting-at-the-table policy has been fine-tuned; you also may not leave the table in order to text. 

 

I also had to curtail the after-school texting.  As soon as class was dismissed, I would receive a text:  “where RU?”  And while I wanted to text back, “Where do you think?” I couldn’t.  Because I was driving.  Of course.

 

I mean really.  In all the years our kids have gone to school, only one has been forgotten.  Ever.  I don’t need them to text me to remind them that I’m supposed to pick them up.

 

But I do need to text them. 

Pls bring me a hot cup of tea. 

I left my book in the car.  Pls get it for me. 

Pls take the dog out.

 

And then there are those amazing Mom moments when you spot your kid in a crowd across the gym and you can text, “Who is that girl?”  Or,  “Pull your pants up.  I can see your polka-dot boxers from here.”

 

At least the message is concealed on a digital screen and not broadcast through the neighborhood.

 

 

Humor writer Hallie Bandy is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing. She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist. 

 

More Hallie Bandy articles, click here.
  

 

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC  


May 08

Last week, I watched a man in a check-out line balance a bouquet of flowers, a box of chocolates and a 12-pack of Bud Light. 

 

In preparation for Mother’s Day. Obviously.

 

There are signs everywhere:  “Just what Mom wants,” and “Don’t forget Mother’s Day.” 

 

We all know Mothers’ and Fathers’ days are holidays created as money-makers for card companies.  It has to be that way.  Because children would never initiate Mothers’ Day on their own.  Which leaves it to husbands, who have a reputation for being dense. 

 

Also, they have a difficult time spending money on things they find expensive, delicate... and useless. 

 

Which is exactly what most women want.

 

Despite the awkwardness of gift selection, I think it’s kinda nice that kids get pressured to say “thanks” once a year.  And it doesn’t hurt to give adults a lifetime to make-up for being ungrateful.  By definition, good Moms do things that prompt the opposite of gratitude:  tell you to clean up your room and blow your nose, ask if you flushed and washed your hands, remind you to change your socks and underwear, and ask embarrassing questions about members of the opposite sex.

 

Until you grow up, move out and wise up.

 

Erma Bombeck famously advised, “Spend at least one Mother's Day with your respective mothers before you decide on marriage. If a man gives his mother a gift certificate for a flu shot, dump him.”

 

I didn’t have that luxury.  My in-laws lived in another country.  But I should have had a clue when my husband told me he didn’t send a card because, “They don’t celebrate Mother’s Day in Germany.”

 

Now don’t judge just yet.  Because he’s a foodie, so he “gets” the chocolate thing.  I can always count on a good stash of some sort of chocolaty goodness from my gang.

 

Beyond that, he knows the weakness he shares with most men.  So he asks what I want.

 

Thing is, I want him to know what I want.  

 

It’s the universal conundrum for most men.

 

Which is why the stores put the signs out.

 

And why men buy chocolate, flowers … and beer.

 

Humor writer Hallie Bandy is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist. 

 

More Hallie Bandy articles, click here.


 

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

Jun 20

I’m not exactly sure why it is that manly meals mandate meat as their culinary epicenter.


Perhaps something about the concept of a sacrificial offering. 


I do know, my husband will never be a vegetarian.


I should have had an inkling my husband was a foodie.  It was an often-referenced fact that his mother’s letters as an overseas missionary read like a grocery list, detailing the many delicious meals she served guests in her home. 


And, there was his joking-but-also-serious recounting of how his mother once described her three children to a group of church ladies.  

His brother was the musician. 

His sister, the smart one, who would be a doctor one day.

My husband?  He was the “good eater.”


I came to the marriage with no experience, and only The Joy of Cooking as a guide.  But I learned quickly and my husband developed a quick evaluation system for any new recipe: 

• Make it again;

• I’ll eat it this time, but don’t make it again; or

• Let’s just go out tonight. 


Whatever recipe I chose, there was always the assumption that a piece of meat would be the central focus of the meal.  (I refused to include hot dogs in that category.)


Perhaps I didn’t understand this as fully as I should have until, years ago, my then newly married sister invited us over for tacos.  What she failed to mention was that she was using TVP [texturized vegetable protein, something like dried tofu] for the taco meat. 


Which my husband took as a personal insult. 


Because, until then, he was not even aware that such a food substance existed.  And, he didn't really consider it "food."


I’ve since heard him describe selections in the vegetarian line at a college cafeteria as “refugee food.”


When we moved to the farmette, our new neighbors invited us to a cookout.  A very kind gesture, which, to my husband, became an unintended insult of epic proportions.


You see, there was no meat at the cookout.  Not even hotdogs.


The main course was a salad: “taco salad.”  We knew that was the plan, because each guest was asked to bring an ingredient for the salad.  Not exactly our idea of a classic cookout menu, but we weren’t going to judge. 


But we did assume our hosts would provide the necessary meat product.

Which, clearly, was our mistake.


I heard him talking about the experience a few days later.


“A cookout means someone cooks a big piece of meat.  Outside.   There is lots of meat.  And baked beans, with bacon swimming in them.  Amazing desserts.  And a token salad.”


We cook out a lot in the summer.  Actually, my husband cooks out.  Which, for him, means there are flames and a carcass.


Few things make him happier than serving up perfect North Carolina BBQ, Texas brisket, or grilled sliders.   He stays up late watching his culinary heroes: Bobby Flay, Guy Fieri and Emeril Lagasse. 


I make the token salads.  And some amazing desserts.

 

Humor writer Hallie Bandy is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing. She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist. 

 

More Hallie Bandy articles, click here.
  

 

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

 

 

 

 

Jul 18

It’s a Saturday night and my family has decided to go out for dinner. As we get out of the car, my boyfriend hands me the keys and asks if I could put them in my purse, along with his sunglasses. My son asks if I could stash his MP3 player and his earbuds.  My nephew wants to know if I have room to hold the book he’s been reading in the backseat. Suddenly, my purse is bulging and I’ve become my family’s suburban pack-mule.


If women were meant to haul stuff, God would have given us pouches.


Of course, it didn’t start out this way.  In the beginning, man carried the boulders and fire and skinned animals.  Then suddenly the tribe goes off to hunt (or play poker or golf or whatever) and you’re left holding down the cave and finding a place for everything they drag in.


And once you have children, you can kiss your hands-free days goodbye. Life as a mom is a lot like life as a roadie (minus the trashed hotel rooms).  And I should know. When I met Jon* 20 years ago, he was the ponytailed, one-earring’d, barefooted bass player for a band called Blue Wolves. During our courtship, I would walk into the club where he was playing, take a seat close to the stage, and promptly start yelling, “Take a break!” ignoring the dirty looks of the patrons who actually came to hear music.  


I didn’t care; I was with the band. I wanted to steal a second with my boyfriend in between sets.  And you have to admit, there’s something exciting about being with the boy in the band. For some people, like former political press tart Lisa Baron, it’s like campaigning with the candidates. For others, it’s like dating the boss.  Me? I always went for the underemployed and over-their-credit-limit musicians.


As the weeks went by, I morphed from adoring girlfriend to equipment-lugging roadie. I know you’re thinking – how much equipment does a bass player really need? But bands don’t believe in every man for himself (until the group gets a record deal). It’s more like family, and “I’m with the band” translates to hauling drum kits, guitar cases, amps, keyboards, and all kinds of stuff you’ve never heard of, but to which everyone is pointing and yelling for you to grab and be careful not to spill beer on.


I went from having one boyfriend to having five teenage children in a matter of months.


So it was a natural transition for me, after I married my musician boyfriend and we had a son, to carry a bag of baby essentials that would have made Pattie Boyd proud. I not only toted my tot’s juice boxes, diapers and toys, but a Boy Scout-worthy kit of medicine, Barney music, and enough goldfish for anyone who might be stranded with us at the playground should a storm – or a temper tantrum – arise.


I was continuously on the lookout for the perfect kid-stuff carrier that was both hip and sensible, with enough pockets for all my supplies while being able to withstand an assortment of fluid calamities. (This was long before Kate Spade and Michael Kors got into designing designer baby bags, so my searches went unsatisfied.)


I began buying clothes with clever pockets – cargo pants with compartments from calf to thigh. Jean jackets with an inside pocket like the suits worn by gin joint owners during Prohibition. I even had a pair of sneakers with a tiny zippered pouch in which I could tuck a few bucks and my car key. I was determined to stay baggage-free.


Today, with my husband now my ex and my son about to turn 16, I’ve got plenty of baggage – but I’m nobody’s roadie.  And yet, every morning, as I walk downstairs to start my day, I realize my hands are full. I’m carrying cups for the dishwasher, magazines for the recycle bin, books for the library – items that have landed upstairs when their rightful place is downstairs.


And that’s when it hit me, the need for the perfect carrier at this stage of my life: The Bra Pocket. I was already improvising this invention. With all the things I pick up each morning, I’d simply tuck my cell phone in my bra. Then I’d slip in a receipt for something I needed to return later. A few coins for the charity box we keep in the kitchen. A lipstick I wanted to put in my purse. And suddenly my bra was stuffed.


Truth be told, there were some evenings I’d get undressed and find that darn receipt I’d been searching for earlier in the day at the Macy’s counter.  Or coins would fall out as I unhooked my bra. Once I stabbed myself with a pen as I bent over, forgetting I’d stashed it there when the day began.


I started asking other women if they put paraphernalia in their bras. Let me tell you, their brabjects were boundless: iPods, hand lotion, driver’s license, measuring tape, nail polish, safety pins, tampons.


I realized there was not only a need for The Bra Pocket, it was my duty as a woman in the hands-free world to make it happen. If they could make hoodies with pockets on the sleeves, shoes with pockets on the tongue, flip-flops with a slot for a bottle opener – why not bras with nifty little niches to hold our necessities?


And (are you listening, Gina?) if they can just put a tiny fan in my bra to prevent my stashed M&Ms from melting as well as to cool my hot flashes, I’ll have the perfect package for all of my membrabilia.  


And I seriously doubt my son will ask me to carry anything of his ever again.

 

Ginger is a freelance business writer, the mother of a 15-year-old son, and the author of the hilarious and helpful book, “Back On Top: Fearless Dating After Divorce.” She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist, skirt.com skirt setter, and a blogger for Huffington Post’s divorce vertical (www.huffingtonpost.com/divorce). She has contributed to More.com, Glamour.com, LovingYou.com and several other women-centric media. She has appeared dozens of local and national TV and radio shows, including as host of Book Talk with Ginger in Atlanta, Georgia. 

 

For more Ginger Emas columns, click here 

 

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC

 

Jul 31

I was one of the first of my friends to get married.  In the early years, I remember keeping up with the many wedding invitations, as, one by one, my friends married. 

Then there were the baby years.  Lately, we’re getting graduation announcements, and many of our friends are celebrating precious-metal anniversaries.

Including us.

Over the years, we’ve watched couples celebrate their anniversaries with big trips to amazing destinations or romantic getaways.  But that’s never been our style.

And it’s not because we don’t have anything to celebrate.  Clearly, 25 years and four kids is landmark.  But I just know that when it comes to how we mark the occasion, we won’t win any awards for romance.

I had a few romantic notions early in our marriage.  Somewhere I read the first anniversary was a “paper” anniversary, so I bought my husband a book.  For the second year, a new cotton shirt.  Year three: a leather jacket.   By the “fruit and flowers” anniversary, I realized my husband had entirely missed the memo on anniversary gifts.  And I don’t just mean the memo about year five being the “wood” anniversary.  In truth, I think he was a little surprised that anniversary gifts were expected.  I mean, after all, I had him, right? 

Actually on our second anniversary, I had his brother, too.  That’s right – we invited his brother, flying solo at the time, to join us for an intimate dinner for … three.

Clearly, sappy romance is not our forte.   It’s okay.  There were other reasons I married this guy.  Reasons that matter.  No one can be good at everything, and I’ll trade the mush for a good sense of humor any day.

By our 10th anniversary, I was immersed in the day-to-day care of our two small children and hadn’t given a celebration much thought.  So I was surprised that he did.  A night out!  No kids, nice clothes, good food.  It sounded wonderful. 

And it was.

As we headed home, I was looking forward to enjoying the rest of a quiet evening together, when we came upon a police car with its lights on.  My husband rolled down the window to ask what was going on.  The officer told him someone had hit a deer. 

“It ain’t dead yet; you want the tag?” the officer asked.  And before I could even process what had taken place, my husband had said, “Yes,” and was loading Bambi’s cousin on the hood of our car.

And that is why we arrived home from our 10th anniversary celebration with a mostly dead dear on the hood of our Volkswagon. 

Thank goodness the kids were in bed.

While my husband spent the rest of the evening with our neighbor, who helped him dress the deer in exchange for half the meat — they hung the carcass from a basketball goalpost — I took a hot bath and drank tea.

We enjoyed venison dishes all winter.  And say what you will about celebrating an anniversary.  My husband may not have the edge on romance, but you can’t ever say he doesn’t put food on the table.

 

Humor writer Hallie Bandy is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing.  She is a regularShareWIK.com columnist.
 

 


More Hallie Bandy articles, click here.
  


©ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 2011

Sep 25
It’s true. God often answers prayers in ways we never imagined.
 
People look at my fourth child, who is six years younger than her next sibling, and assume that she was a “surprise.”  But really, she was an answer to prayer.
 
It just wasn’t the kind of prayer you might expect. 
 
We didn’t pray we would be able to conceive.  We didn't have to.  It was never an issue for us.  I married young, so we waited several years to start our family.  But once we started, I had two children in less than three years.  Those two broke us in pretty easily, so we were naïve enough to think we must be doing something right, and thought we should have more.
 
Of course, when things are so well balanced – two parents, two kids; two boys, two girls -  there doesn’t seem to be a “right” time to add a third child.    I started asking friends, why they had only two kids, or when they decided to add the third…  and I got plenty of interesting answers.  One friend said, “I just knew, when we sat down to dinner, someone was missing.”
 
Ironically, as I was trying to decide when to have that third child, I realized that what I thought had been a really bad case of stomach flu was really morning sickness.
 
Yup, I was pregnant. 
 
Even though I hadn’t planned it. 
 
These things happen.
 
Surprise!
 
And then the third child arrived.   And nothing was ever the same.
 
Due to a miscommunication in scheduling, my midwives were both going to be out of town the weekend before he was due.  “Go home and put your feet up,” were my instructions.  And, I followed them.  I promise I did.
 
But then, my water broke.
 
And two hours later, child number three arrived.  That’s right, zero to baby in two hours.
 
I made it to the delivery just in time for the nurse to scream, “I need a doctor NOW.”  Apparently whoever was handling admitting that morning sensed the urgency and told my husband he could fill out paperwork later.  So he arrived, breathless, in time to greet our son, cut the cord, and tell me, “Don’t ever do this to me again.”
 
As if I was planning a repeat event.
 
And that’s when the fun began.  If you want to call it that.
 
Three kids under the age of five is a stretch for anyone, and when one of the kids is “one of those kids,” it’s enough to make anyone question her sanity on a daily basis.
 
Our third child cried louder, slept less, took more risks, and knew how to push everyone’s buttons.   He climbed out of his crib before most kids can sit up.  And when he climbed out, he wreaked havoc – or hid.  Which meant that, post nap-time, I either had to clean up a mess, or locate a baby.
 
He disappeared in public, too.  Our entire church was on lock-down one Sunday because I turned my head at the wrong moment.  Fortunately, after 30 long minutes, we realized no one had taken him.  He had just decided to go wait for the rest of the family where we had hung our coats (which, in our large church, was the equivalent of a football field away).  But he didn’t tell us.  He wasn’t talking – yet. 
 
When he did finally start talking, it was primarily a tool to instigate more trouble.  Or express his very firm opinions. 
 
Being a stay-at-home Mom can be lonely and desperate at times, particularly when there is still a nap schedule to keep — or deal with when it’s not kept.  Everything requires extra effort, the to-do list never ends, and any “me time” is often spent asleep.  There are certainly intangible rewards, and priceless moments of family bonding that I would never trade.  But for most of us, giving up the second salary means we aren’t able to afford some of the luxuries that would make up for the long days – and nights - of thankless tasks.
 
I remember thinking a medically induced coma sounded like a vacation. 
 
At some point, I stood in my living room, and prayed, aloud: “God, don’t ever let me forget what it is like to have little kids.”
 
Maybe it was the day the bean-bag chair exploded and the electromagnetically charged pellets went everywhere.  Or maybe it was another incident with diaper contents.  Or the up-teenth call to poison control. 
 
I don’t exactly remember the circumstances, but I remember that prayer, feeling alone with a mess, determined that I would do my best to help young mothers, once my own kids grew up.
 
But that doesn’t mean I’ve always remembered that prayer.  The memory of that day was tucked neatly away with the toys, crib and baby equipment that I was, for some reason, determined to use, just one more time.  Trouble was, I didn’t have any cooperation.  I would mention a fourth kid, and my husband would say, “You have one who is the equivalent of four.  Isn’t that enough?”

No birth control is quite as effective as the presence of young children.  Anyone's, really.  But especially your own.
 
Someone was missing from our table, though, and I knew it. 
 
And, after five years, I managed to wear my husband down.
 
And so we have our youngest.  And a fresh reminder that sometimes leaving the house is far more complicated than it should be.  That life is messy. That Moms of young children need help and encouragement.
 
A reminder that I asked God not to let me forget.
 
Humor writer Hallie Bandy is the mother of four children and lives on a farmette in rural Kentucky--both of which provide more than enough fodder for her writing.  She is a regular ShareWIK.com columnist.
 
More Hallie Bandy articles, click here.
  
©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC  
Oct 20

In many  conversations about sex, we take it all so formally and seriously instead of accepting that sex, like many other human behaviors, can be light, fun, and humorous. We think we need to maintain some semblance of decorum about the whole thing. We ponder about meeting intimacy needs, addressing problems, and communicating effectively with one's partner.  These are all important, but one of the best things a couple can do is to simply lighten up and introduce some humor into the bedroom...(or wherever).  

Sex should be something  that  can  make us laugh... especially at ourselves. We laugh at many other human activities, so why not sex? We can at least grin at it, right?

The following are some exceptional and creative quotes that will "lighten you up" when you show them to your partner... or someone else's partner.


"Sex without love is a meaningless experience, but as far as meaningless experiences go, it’s pretty damn good." 

― Woody Allen


"A man can sleep around, no questions asked, but if a woman makes nineteen or twenty mistakes she's a tramp." 

― Joan Rivers


" I believe that sex is one of the most beautiful, natural, wholesome things that money can buy.” 

-- Steve Martin 


"I don't know the question, but sex is definitely the answer." 

― Woody Allen


"It's not true that I had nothing on. I had the radio on." 

-- Marilyn Monroe


"Everything in the world is about sex except sex. Sex is about power." 

― Oscar Wilde


"We waste time looking for the perfect lover, instead of creating the perfect love." 

― Tom Robbins


"Good sex is like good bridge. If you don't have a good partner, you'd better have a good hand." 

― Mae West


"Sex without love is as hollow and ridiculous as love without sex." 

-- Unknown


"It's absolutely unfair for women to say that guys only want one thing: sex. We also want food." 

― Jarod Kintz


"If sex were shoes, I'd wear you out. But I wouldn't wear you out in public." 

― Jarod Kintz


"The main reason Santa is so jolly is because he knows where all the bad girls live." 

― George Carlin


"The difference between sex and love is that sex relieves tension and love causes it." 

― Woody Allen


"Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity." 

― George Carlin


"We are all born sexual creatures, thank God, but it's a pity so many people despise and crush this natural gift." 

― Marilyn Monroe



Dr. Judie is a Clinical Sexologist and educator who has appeared on numerous television programs and hosted an award-winning cable television program called "Sex Talk."  A contributor to Lifestyles magazine, she also authored a sexuality column for "Senior Life," an award-winning publication of Mature Media.  She has been an interviewer for the "Better Sex" video series and serves as a talking head in the video, "Sex After 50."  Follow her on Twitter @DocJudie.

 


To read other blogs by Dr. Judie, click here.  

 


©2012 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC 



I recently took a class about blogging and it said I should strive to give readers the most value. So, I thought, how can I do a valuable humor column? Isn’t my dry humor enough value? But perhaps I should be more helpful.  Perhaps you want to keep my column by your phone or something.  Alas, let me give you some valuable tips about this fall, to save you time and energy.

1.       No matter who your candidate is, Nov. 7 will be the most wonderful time of the year. It is safe to plug in your TV and phone again! No candidates will be robo-calling you, and attack ads will be banished until the next election season. Which leads me to my next discovery:


 2.       Attack ads are truly hilarious, so enjoy them. Pop some popcorn. "HE WILL COME IN YOUR HOUSE AND TAKE THE BIRTH CONTROL OFF YOUR SHELVES!” Envision him storming your house and looking for birth control and taking it out in a gas mask! “HE WILL SELL US TO CHINA!” Envision him making a deal with the Chinese leaders that you are worth $5.37 and not a penny more! (The fear-mongering is at record levels, people.  One woman recently said one candidate might take away women’s RIGHT TO VOTE.  Let’s be level-headed and reasonable.  Hysteria hurts, not helps.)

3.       If you are in a battleground state, like me, you may run into a presidential candidate at the grocery store, neighborhood diner or when you open your door. (True story: my friend in Ohio was stunned when she opened the door and a presidential candidate’s cousin said hello.) Suggestion: while they’re at your door, ask them to help you with your to-do list. Do they have some time to rake? Vacuum? Dust? Have them truly earn your vote.

4.       Never buy Halloween candy two weeks prior to Oct. 31, when it’s on sale.  Not only will there be nothing left for the trick-or-treaters, but scarfing down Reese’s and Hershey’s every day will hurt you more than the two dollars you saved.

5.       When your football team is 1-5, and has NEVER EVER EVEN ONCE GONE TO THE SUPER BOWL, realize this may be a permanent condition.  Find another hobby for Sunday afternoons.  Just think of the time you’ll save!

6.       If you spend the day raking all the leaves to the curb, wind will come.

7.       Do not be sucked into political debates on Facebook. Talk about a waste of time and good intelligent energy. Did anyone’s mind ever get changed? Perhaps take your love for your candidate and volunteer for a campaign.

8.       The hayrides? Fun! But…  um, don’t forget, it’s HAY that’s been in a wet outdoors. (Translated: there must be a reason why they call it HAY FEVER; take Benadryl beforehand.)

9.      If you find yourselves without power for, oh, say 4 days, please do not worry about the disruption, because your electric bill will still be steady and arrive exactly on time!

10.   Never attempt driving the Pennsylvania Turnpike with the rest of America on the day before Thanksgiving, because it will turn a six-hour trip into a 12-hour one.   For that matter, do not go anywhere at all. Keep the airports, train and bus stations clear. Send your relatives a pumpkin pie instead with a nice follow-up phone call or Skype session!  Because nothing says “I am thankful ” quite like clear airports and highways. It smacks of grateful consideration to your fellow man!



Kristine Meldrum Denholm is an award-winning freelance writer published in books, magazines, newspapers and e-pubs.  Visit with her here, on Facebook, or on Twitter @writerandmom.


Read more columns by Kristine Meldrum Denholm here.


@2012 ShareWIK Media Group LLC

 

©2011 ShareWIK Media Group, LLC. All rights reserved. ShareWIK does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. For more information, please read our Additional Information, Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

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The Grass Is Greener Right Here
With her trademark wisdom, humor and honesty, Diana Keough provides a spiritual antidote to anxiety and despair in increasingly fraught times.

Ben KaminSpirit Behind the News
Ben Kamin is one of America's best-known rabbis, a multi-cultural spiritualist, New York Times Op-ed contributor, national columnist, and the author of seven books on human values. His kids, however, are not that impressed.

I Kid You Not
With a self-deprecating sense of humor, a dash of Midwest sarcasm, and candid honesty, award-winning freelance writer Kristine muses on life in a chaotic household. Spoiler Alert: her teen, tweens and dog don’t find her even mildly amusing.

Susanne KatzSecond Life
After divorce, a death, a mid-life crisis, or just growing up and changing, baby boomers are learning to reinvent themselves, have fun and find satisfaction. Look out kids…it’s a new world out there!
Class Notes: Special Needs
Learn from the journey of Jacque Digieso who was given a challenge and a blessing with her son, who has special needs.

What's Eating You?
Dina Zeckhausen, Ph.D. on food, weight, body image and raising resilient kids.

Steve Powell
Steve is an experienced facilitator, practitioner, communicator and proven leader with over 25-years in experience in human factors education and teamwork training.
Living On Purpose
Elaine Taylor-Klaus, teaches how to make life extraordinary.
rWorld
Dale Kuehne explores developing a world where relationships come first, and recognizes that individual health and fulfillment is connected to the quality of our relationships.
Teacher Feature
School teacher Margaret Anderson will provide insight into what really happens with your child in the classroom.
The Power of Grief
Diane Snyder Cowan specializes in grief therapy to help those in need deal with loss.
Jan Jaben-Eilon Cancer is Not Me and I Am Not My Cancer
My name is Jan Jaben-Eilon and I am an ovarian cancer survivor. I don’t like the expression, battling with cancer. I am living my life as fully and passionately as possible, despite the cancer. Cancer is NOT my identity.

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