Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Social Distancing Made Easy

          I have the absolute best way to ensure social distancing during this pandemic . No joke, this will work every time.  If you can make yourself stinky enough, people will stand far away from you. And I know three easy ways to do it.
          First, have your daughter come home and offer to share her hair conditioner with you. Last night I was complaining about my super curly chemo hair which is very dry. Nicole suggested I slather it with her super concentrated hair conditioner which comes in a jar, and leave it on.
          I twisted off the lid, sniffed the contents and nearly fainted. What are some synonyms for reek?  Whatever they are, that’s what I will do if I smear this stuff on my head. Although I will probably have wonderfully conditioned hair.
          And then I remembered an old trick a friend told me about, when he was on the water polo team at Stanford. They’d eat a raw onion. Then none of their opponents wanted to get close enough to steal the ball. Brilliant. So that’s Tip Number Two.

          Garlic is the next idea. Eat enough of it that people can pick up your scent ten feet away. Perfect distance.

          I’m telling you the sense of smell could rescue the world.  Condition your hair. Eat an onion. Save lives.
          And, while you're sequestered at home, be sure to binge watch my short Youtube Mom videos. Filled with life hack and fun ideas.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Ideas R Us

          A couple of weeks ago, before the Coronavirus postponed church meetings,  I got a text request that I’ve never gotten before. I was asked to offer the innovation in Sacrament meeting.
          This is the main worship service in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  There’s no paid clergy in this church; all the speakers, choir members, teachers, and even the bishops volunteer. So, from time to time we get asked to say the invocation or the benediction. But never have I seen spell check bestow such a blank check.
          Of course I smiled. Then I grinned. My mind was racing with ideas. Just think of the innovations I could share. We could have the Primary kids enact scripture stories in the aisles, complete with costumes and swords.
          Someone could be Cookie Chairman and provide treats (betcha you already thought of that).
          How about 3-D glasses and popcorn?
          What if you hired massage therapists to rub everyone’s sore shoulders or feet? Attendance would double.
          And what if we replaced the benches with reclining movie theatre seats?
          Hey, I’m not going crazy here. It’s not as if I suggested bringing in a marching band or the Rockettes.
          Alas, I knew he just wanted me to say the opening prayer.  But I could ride there in St. Bob’s Explanation.
          Have you watched my latest Youtube Mom videos? Check out my chemo  curls!

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Maybe This Virus Affects the Funnybone

          Have any kids who think they’re comedians? Dutiful mom that I am, I called or texted each of my four to see how the Coronavirus was impacting their work. 
          Richie’s return text: We’re paying someone who’s infected to come visit the office so we can all get it and just get it over with.  It’ll be much faster this way.
          I wrote back: NOT FUNNY. Stop laughing. Stay three feet away from everyone.
          My children seem to delight in freaking me out.  In his teens Cassidy used to hide behind doors and around corners, then jump out and shout, “Boo!” at which point I would nearly jump out of my skin.
          Seriously, these people need better forms of amusement.
AND, since we’re all quarantined and looking for indoor entertainment, I have not one but TWO great ideas for you: Watch my Youtube Mom videos and read my books!

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

My Favorite Alma Mater

          I am so crazy about the elementary school I attended that a couple of months ago I ordered a hoodie from it.
          Naturally our son, Richie, came by and said, “Shouldn’t that shirt look a whole lot older?”
          Granted, the old school has been torn down and a new one built, but the principles—if not the the principals—are the same and I want to give it a shout-out.
          Edith Bowen Laboratory School, on the campus of Utah State University, is a Blue Ribbon school which has been around for nearly 100 years. (No, I was not enrolled in their first-ever class!)  It’s still considered one of the finest elementary schools in the world and ranks as #1 among more than 600 elementary schools in Utah.
          My father was a professor at USU, and my folks enrolled me in kindergarten there.  Off I went with my knobby knees and eyeglasses, literally through several feet of snow. Since then it has become so sought after that parents would call to get on the waiting list while they were still pregnant. Now they use a lottery system for enrollment.  All I know is that this is the school where I felt most valued for my talents, most encouraged in leadership, and most accepted for my creativity.
          When I took St. Bob there to see it, a little girl was walking  down the hallway carrying a musical instrument. "Oh," Bob said, "Is that a violin?" The girl explained that it was a viola. Bob whispered,"And there's a little Joni." Yep.
          Two quotes from their website say it all:
"The key is not to standardize education but to personalize it, to build achievement on discovering the individual talents of each child, to put students in an environment where they want to learn and where they can naturally discover their true passions."     - Sir Ken Robinson, The Element
"We look at science as something very elite, which only a few people can learn.  That is just not true.  You just have to start early and give kids a foundation.  Kids live up, or down, to expectations."  - Mae Jemison, Engineer, Physician, and Astronaut (Space Shuttle Endeavor, September 1992)
          It never occurred to me, umpty-ump years ago, that it was unusual to attend a school named for a woman. It never occurred to me that there were limits of any kind to what any of us could do. Different races didn’t matter; character and joy of learning did. So kudos to a school that was ahead of it time, set me on a course of lifelong curiosity,  and even let me be a library helper, immersed in a world of books. Edith Bowen, you rock!
I even named one of the characters in my books Edith. Those books and my Youtube Mom videos can  be found on my website.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Home Semi-Sweet Home

          The other day a friend of mine was browsing through the real estate ads. “Wow,” she said. “This one has a walk-in fireplace!”
          I just stared at her. “Why on earth would you want to walk into a fireplace?” Seriously.  If it contains a roaring fire, I cannot think of anything less inviting.  But even without the fire, it would be less appealing than a crawl space. Ashy, dirty, dark, nowhere to sit.  Let’s say you go in there. Then what? (Yes, I get it—I think they mean that it’s a fireplace so large that you could walk in. If you were, say, running from the law.)
          So I began investigating other bad construction ideas and thought I’d share just a handful of the hundreds online. Let’s start with this little gem:
          I guess it could work for people who only bicycle.  
          Doors seem to stump many a home builder.  Check out this one, which now cannot open:
          And this one, sure to wake you up in the night:
          How about this little charmer, beautifully modified by the home owner?
          And—finally—laundry gets the attention it truly deserves.  Ignored for years, tucked away like an embarrassing relative, our wet clothing has been hidden from view. But no more! Copy this idea and you can watch every sock, every piece of underwear, tumbling like an act from Cirque du Soleil. And talk about never missing a re-run!
          Now doesn’t your own place look fabulous? You’re welcome.
Check out my short Youtube Mom videos, and learn all kinds of life hacks to use in your beautiful home!

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

A New Job for Joni

          Do you know anyone who ALWAYS gets the best parking spot? Are you, in fact, one of these lucky ducks?  My jealousy is tried to the breaking point anytime I go anywhere with St. Bob because he always finds an empty spot right in front of the store or restaurant. Always. I should have a little button that sneers, “Of course!” whenever he’s driving. (I blogged about his amazing luck here). I have often speculated that secret spies see him leaving the garage then phone ahead to clear the decks for him.
          I, on the other hand, never find such spots. Never. In fact, the only open spots for me are several lanes away, and at the far end of the parking lot. Again, it’s as if someone has called ahead to wave dozens of cars into the lot to fill it up before I can pull in.
          So here’s my idea: Stores should send me checks every month (we can debate the high amount), just so I’ll pull into their parking lot. This will virtually guarantee that hundreds of people will now be parking there and dashing in to purchase everything they sell. All it takes is for me to swerve in their direction. I don’t even have to park-- nor could  I anyway—just the presence of my car assures their profits will quadruple. Hey, we all have our talents.
          While we await the profitable response to this brilliant idea, you can enjoy one of my books. Or watch one of my short Youtube Mom videos.  

Tuesday, February 18, 2020


          Have you ever called me for tech support? No you have not. So let me tell you what you’re missing.
          Let’s say you call with a question about a missing file on your computer.
          Me: “Turn it off and then on again.”
          Or your phone apps are acting weird.
          Me: “Turn it off and then on again.”
          Or you can’t upload photos.
          Me: “Turn it off and then on again.”
          And I would dispense these brilliant tips for free. Best off all, I won’t use terms you don’t understand, such as petaflop, hadron, router, torrenting, thunking, or graphical user interface . Okay, these are also terms I don’t understand.
          I will follow this advice up with expressions for your personal happiness. Just as I have often said when imagining myself as a terrible waitress, I will ask if you want vegetables with that.  If you do not, I will activate my “mom lecture” circuits and remind you to eat right, get plenty of rest, and take care of your health. Also, wash dark clothes in cold water, floss regularly, and call your mother.
          So many services, so little time.
Have you visited my Youtube Mom channel here?  Even more advice and life hacks!

Tuesday, February 11, 2020


          In the spirit of competition, our eldest son, Richie, recently went by ambulance to the hospital. (If you're a regular reader, you know that Bob and I have been trying to one-up each other with surgeries and doctor visits.) Five days later--and five thousand gray hairs on my part-- he was discharged and is back at work.
          At one point he needed at CT-Scan, so four nurses and orderlies decided to move him to a rolling gurney.
          First, of course, all his IV tubes had to be unplugged. 
          I commented that he looked like an octopus because he had so many tubes. And that was all it took.
          “I really have a quarrel with Merriam-Webster over this,” he said. (Who quarrels with Merriam-Webster?)
          Then, as the workers transferred him to the gurney, he launched into a detailed explanation of why the plural of octopus should be octopuses.  Apparently the Latin plural would be octopi, but that’s incorrect because it actually has a Greek root. This means it would be octopodes, but if you do that, then the singular should be octopod.
          Bob and I were trying not to lock glances. I was also trying not to acknowledge the “Are you kidding me” glances of the nurses and orderlies.
          Really, Richie explained, in this case the simplest solution was also the best one. It should be octopuses. But, alas, people try to be pretentious and overdo various forms of words unnecessarily.
          Oh, good gravy. Which, by the way, is also unavailable in the hospital.
          Perfect for any hospital stay—check out my books (although you might want to avoid the humorous ones if you have stitches).

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

A Sticky Situation

          It has come to my attention that some of you need marital advice. Okay, it’s totally obvious to the entire world that we ALL need marital advice. So hang in with me and I’ll share the latest tidbit I heard.
          St. Bob and I were in a crowd of people recently, and someone said that wallpapering is a great project for a couple to embark upon, to see how division of labor works, who’s patient, who’s a quitter, who angers easily. In short, it’s a great way to learn tons of information about the person you’re dating.
          St. Bob piped right up and said, “Oh, Joni and I did that once. Joni said, ‘I’ve got this,’ and I said, ‘Okay.’”  This was his contribution to the discussion, which he thought was a great example of how it can work but which, in fact, paints me as a control freak.
          First, he is correct; that is exactly how the conversation went. But here’s why. I’ve literally hung more rolls of wallpaper than I can count. In high school I worked for an interior designer who had a paint and wallpaper store (yes, you can churn butter in those shaky paint mixers), and I helped hundreds of customers find the wallpaper they wanted. I knew every page in every book, and soon was hanging paper in my parents’ home, then later in my own home. 
          I’ve even developed my own technique to make it easier (paint the paste on the wall, not on the paper). I’d tell you I can do it with my eyes closed, but that would present a problem when matching seams. However, it’s so familiar to me that I didn’t see the point in causing Bob all kinds of angst (See?  I’m kind!) when I can just do it myself. And why not let him sit down and rest a spell?  Okay, okay, plus I want it done right.
          Someone might say this reveals an inability to be flexible and allow others the chance to try. I don’t listen to that person. Have you priced wallpaper? Are you aware that it’s sold in double rolls? This is not like mixing up cookie dough and it doesn’t turn out. This can spell disaster. Expensive disaster. Like letting someone “help out” if you’re a surgeon. Or a pilot. Or a home builder.        Wallpaper is not forgiving if a couple decides to giggle and start flicking glue at one another. 
ALTHOUGH wallpaper removal is open to all comers. And that’s where I’d allow anybody the chance to shine.
You are welcome to use the pages of my books to wallpaper your home. I recommend buying one of each!

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Face It

          I have just made a horrifying discovery and it’s about myself. My face betrays me.  All these years I thought my kids could read my mind, but no. They are reading my facial expressions.
          Years ago someone told me never to overreact when my kids share shocking information (Someone at school is selling drugs, a friend just got suspended, etc.) because then they’ll stop confiding in you.
          So I determined to keep a straight face no matter what they said. But only recently when our grown daughter was here and we happened to be chatting in a bathroom, she shared something shocking. And I happened to see my own reflection in the mirror.  I thought I was going like this:
          But, in fact, I looked like this:
          “WHAT?!” I gasped. “That’s what my face was doing?”
          Nicole just smiled. “That’s what your face does all the time.”
          Well, not ALL  the time, I hope. But every time I hear appalling news, evidently. So my kids aren’t mind-readers after all. They’re just taking advantage of my rubbery, expressive face!
          It also happens if someone tells me they just got over their cold:
          Or they’re out of the dessert I just ordered:
          Or they’re marrying a guy they met two days ago:
          Or they’re bringing me a cookie:
           And I'm pretty sure this means I should never, ever play poker:
          Check out my crazy face on my Youtube Mom videos. Evidently you’ll be able to tell exactly what I’m thinking!

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Don't Call Me; I'll Call You

          I have a complaint. I know, this blog usually shares one of my disasters (and this well never runs dry, by the way), but today I want to complain about being reminded of appointments all the time.
          Let me take you back a few decades. When I was young, NOBODY called to remind you of your doctor/dentist/whatever appointment. People expected you to remember it, write it down, and show up.  Failure to appear marked you as an idiot. And we all knew it. We valued dependability like a shining virtue that only the seriously insane would discard.
          Flash forward to today. I get texts, emails, and phone messages almost daily, reminding me of medical appointments. Not only that, but it’s built into their system and you can’t opt out. I know; I’ve asked. 
          And guess what? I confess that if I had such a practice or a business, I’d probably install the auto-reminder as well. So here’s my gripe: People have become completely unreliable. Sure, there are exceptions, and since you’re reading my blog you are probably highly intelligent and would never need such a reminder.
          But it’s those other folks who consistently forget to glance at a calendar, that are causing us all these needless dings and rings. AND, when the call is over, I feel this old-timey need to thank them for calling. But I am not thankful; I am irritated. So now I’m just being politely phony.
          Lest you think I simply have no sympathy for the forgetful, let me remind you that I am easily the most forgetful ADD person I know.  That’s why I write everything down in a calendar. And now I am the most reliable person I know.
          Okay, thank you for letting me rant. I have to go answer the phone  now.
Have you checked out my short Youtube Mom videos? Hundreds of life hacks and motherly advice, with nary a reminder on the entire channel!

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Hold That Tiger!

          A common complaint on my childhood report cards is that I talk too much. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?  Okay, of course you can believe it. This chatty tendency of mine has bugged more than one or two teachers, and countless non-teachers.  But I just have so much to say!
          Excuse-making attempt #1: I also ask questions. Lots of questions. I’m curious. Last night I tried watching a football game with St. Bob and asked how many companies make helmets. He had no idea. Do they all come equipped with headphones so the coach can talk to them individually? He wasn’t sure.
Do they sanitize those mouth-pieces? Again, no idea. Has any detergent company become the official team detergent? Because that would be quite the endorsement if they can get those grass and dirt stains out. Again, he didn’t know.
Also, how can two opposing teams both be called the Tigers? Why didn’t someone tell one of them that the Tiger mascot was already taken? 
And why did they pick tigers in the first place, when neither of the teams starts with T?  Also, tigers are not native to either of these states, nor to any American state, for that matter. Miami Dophins makes sense. Denver Broncos makes sense. St. Louis Cardinals makes sense. But tigers? Bob pretended to be on a phone call.
Why do they always seem so surprised when they get injured? Did they not know that 250-pound people were going to come running at them at full speed? How did they miss that memo? Again, no clue. Finally it was suggested that I make some popcorn or something.
But the surgery team I had in December was more proactive than any of these other people annoyed by my comments. No report cards. No suggestions of ways to distract me and thus shut me up. Nope. As I was on the operating table, yammering away, I suddenly saw a clear triangular mask being held above my head.  And just as I said, “But I’m not through talk--” it was clamped over my face.  And I guarantee you the anesthesiologist probably muttered, “Yeah you are.” And then I’ll bet he high-fived everybody else in the room.
Whatever.  Maybe they can just visit Joniopolis and read my blogs. Which will continue as long as I have breath to breathe and fingers to type. I guess I should be glad they didn’t sew my lips closed.
          Even better, they--  and you—can buy my books!