Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Lucky Me

          I’ve told you about St. Bob’s amazing luck before, but now it’s my turn.
          Twice, within a week, two of my girlfriends have commented on how lucky I am to have snagged Bob. 
First, at church after Bob gave a talk, one rushed up and said, “He is so fantastic! How did you get so lucky?” 
And then another girlfriend came over to the house and said, “There was only one Bob, and Joni was the lucky one who got him.”
A few years ago we took some Christmas gifts over to an elderly woman in our church and—with me standing not a foot away—she whispered in his ear, “I love you.”
There’s something alluring about this guy, and I'm not the only woman who finds him irresistible.  For one thing, he is truly a handsome Prince Charming.
 And he’s so hilarious I often double over laughing.  
He’s not just smart, but wise, which is actually really hard to find. He’s spiritual, kind, forgiving, generous, mentally awake and morally straight, kind of like a Boy Scout on steroids. 
When I wrote the As the Ward Turns series of four novels, the husband in the story is definitely based on Bob.  I can hear his voice, even when that character delivers lines Bob hasn’t actually said.
So today I pay tribute to this amazing guy whom I love more than life itself, and acknowledge with immense gratitude that I am indeed a lucky woman.  And not just because he provides me with so much material.  Although, there is that.  Thank you, Bob.
Check out my books—there are 24 of them—here.  And be sure to watch my YouTube Mom videos.  Bob is the cameraman, of course.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Dear Santa, Here’s What I Need

          It isn’t often you discover a cool gift when you’re at a doctor appointment, but that’s what happened just last week.
          St. Bob had a check-up on his knee replacement, and since Bob is up on all matters tech, he noticed the doctor was wearing a Google Glass thingy on his eyeglasses.
          Turns out this gizmo will make dictation a thing of a past.  For decades doctors have had to summarize their patient visits into a mike after each exam, transcribed later by an assistant.
          But now they’re starting to wear these phenomenal spectacles that connect them to a remote scribe so they can keep notes as they go, right while you’re sitting there talking to them.  Our guy’s scribe is in India.
          Augmedix says they are rehumanizing doctor/patient relations this way, and are investing millions to do it.
          Can you imagine the ways I could use such a device?  “Wait—didn’t you just buy celery two days ago?” it could ask as I’m losing my mind in the produce department.  Or it could prompt me with impressive trivia when in a conversation with a Brainiac at a party.  And I could keep it busy all day, telling me why I just went upstairs, or into the family room, where I now stand wondering what I came in for.
          Like a little assistant sitting on my shoulder--but an angel instead of a devil-- it could tell me to slow my driving down (which I would ignore), or remind me to put the laundry in the dryer.  It could catch spelling mistakes as I write along, it could remind me that I wore the red blouse at the last meeting, and it could even tell me about sudden sales, better traffic routes, or how to fix the microwave without calling a repairman.
          You could suddenly go on the speaking circuit, using this thing as your personal teleprompter.  You could ask for a raise, propose to your girlfriend, apologize profusely—win a zillion friends.
          On the other hand, knowing our budget, Bob could buy me a bargain one and I could get an idiot on the other end, giving me all the wrong answers.
          “Turn left,” he would say.  And then as I’m careening down a cliff, “Oops.”  
           Or my scribe could forget to make the list I said I needed, and leave me to wander aimlessly with a shopping cart, finally picking up his favorite pickled herring and jalapeno mustard.
          No, this thing has to be done right.  Which is where you come in.  Be a lamb and buy a few of my books here.  Seriously, there’s something for everyone and royalties for me.  That’s  how I’ll finally get the brain I need.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

'Tis the Season to be Falling

          I told you that St. Bob is recovering from a complete knee replacement, right?  Well, the whole reason he had to have it was due to a skiing accident 20 years ago.
           Turns out you should take your own skiis and adjust your own bindings. Instead, we had rented skiis and the doofus (yes, doofus) kid who tightened them for him gave it one or two cranks too many, and Bob’s skiis wouldn’t release.
          This wouldn’t have been a problem, except for Doofus #2 on a snowboard, who cut Bob off and caused him to fall.  Two doofuses are one too many, and Bob heard the snap! as he went down, his ski going one way and his leg going the other.
          I was at the top of the hill resting (some would say oblivious), completely unaware of the situation.  But soon I was heading toward a guy crumpled on the snow who looked an awful lot like my husband.  As I got closer I did the only sensible thing—I screamed.  And it wasn’t long before the ski patrol zipped up to us to assess the situation.
          Sure enough, his knee was out of commission (turned out to be a torn minuscus).  So the guys radioed for a toboggan, and began filling out paperwork, right there on the slope.
          “What do you do for a living?” one guy asked.
          “I play for the 49ers,” Bob said.  I just stared at him.  Seriously?  You’re going the macho route so you won’t look like a wimp?  Good grief.
          “Can you tell me what happened?” the fellow said.
          “Just write O.F.T.T.H.,” Bob said.  And when the fellow didn’t understand Bob just sighed, “Old Fart Trying Too Hard.”  Okay.  He’s back.
         Snowed in or snowed under, you need a good book. And you can do all your Christmas shopping in one place—find all my books right here.

Monday, December 4, 2017

And to All a Good Night...

          If ever you need to feel better as a parent, look no further than this blog.  It is loaded—loaded, I tell you—with my own examples of major parenting blunders.  In fact, if you scroll through Joniopolis and you are a publisher, you will consider compiling these into quite a comprehensive collection.
          And now, because this is the time for Christmas choirs around the world, I shall share yet another of my mothering mistakes.  Have your kids ever been in a school choir?  Of course they have. And we all love to gather in auditoriums and watch our little punkins in elf hats and reindeer noses, singing their hearts out.
          Well, when our eldest boys were in grade school, they attended Viewpoint School in a Los Angeles suburb. 
          And every December the kids climbed onto risers onstage, and sang beautiful songs about Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, and all the rest. 
          Except one year Richie had bronchitis.  What to do? I knew he was no longer contagious, but that lingering cough would surely disrupt the program.  The teachers wanted every child to perform, Richie enjoyed it, and we were just young enough as parents, that we didn’t realize how many more opportunities there would be.  (You know how it is when they’re in grade school—you think you need to save every spelling test, attend every assembly, teach them to be reliable…)
          So I figured a spoonful of cough medicine would be the perfect way to quiet the storm for a couple of hours, right?  There’s just one problem: Benadryl Cough Syrup makes you sleepy.  Really sleepy.
          So there they were, all the kids standing in rows on the bleachers, singing about having a Merry Christmas when suddenly one boy got shorter and shorter, then finally slumped down, sat on his step, and fell fast asleep. Yikes—the first comatose performer in Viewpoint’s history.
          Yes, we had to pull him off stage, wake him up and take him home.  No, I did not sit by the phone awaiting a call from the Mother of the Year people awarding me my medal. And I apologized to the music director, and every other parent who mentioned it to me thereafter. Of which there were more than one or two.
          On the other hand, maybe he was the only one acting out a Christmas lyric: “Sleep in heavenly peace…”

          You can also Christmas shop in heavenly peace by clicking here for any number of my books!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Thanksgiving Gone Haywire

          You already know our family does this holiday, shall we say, a bit differently.  Yes, we love a grand feast, and here is a photo of last year’s:
          But remember, we have a family of comedians, so they always tweak it a bit.  One treasured tradition is going around the table and saying what you’re thankful for, but when you do it alphabetically as we do, you end up with “Asiatic Flu,” “hot rods,” and “urinals,” which you can read about here
          This year Cassidy contributed “criminals” and “unlicensed obstetricians of illegitimate children.” When I chose Gulliver’s Travels because of its creative adventure I was nearly run out of town as a heretic and a huge argument about the merits of classic literature ensued.
          But this year, with Bob under ice packs, still healing from a knee replacement (and a broken femur which happened during the procedure), I was a tad distracted.  The turkey was done an hour and half before everything else, the cheesecake—which Nicole topped with her pomegranate-honey glaze was gorgeous:
          But was a little underdone in the center.  The smoke alarm went off three times, windows and doors were flung open, and the dog went running down the street. 
          We finally got everything on the table (except the dog), and I realized I am grateful for this crazy bunch whom I love, who pitch in to cook and clean, and even the one who forbade me from posting our group photo.  Whatever.  Gratitude abounds.
          And now that that’s over with, dive into Christmas shopping here, where there’s a book for everyone!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Grinch is Writing Fortune Cookies

          Those of you who know me, know that I shop all year for Christmas.  I keep a list and tuck things away, spreading that gift-giving joy throughout the year.
          But, of course, it ramps up at this time of year as kids share their wish lists and more goodies entice us. Occasionally I’ll share an idea with St. Budget—I mean St. Bob—whose response is usually, “How much is that going to cost?”
          Which casts a Grinchlike gloom over the merriment of the season, and I scowl, trying to figure out how to justify the sudden expense.

          So I was NOT AT ALL AMUSED when St. Bob and I went out for a Chinese meal recently, and he opened this fortune:

          right before I opened mine, which said:
          “Wow!” Bob said.  “Looks like my fortune came true immediately!” He said it was the best Chinese meal he’s ever had.

          I am still pouting, but I might pull out of it if you purchase one of my books or watch one of my YouTube Mom videos here.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Patience, Patience

          Yesterday Bob sent me this photo he snapped at the grocery store, along with the caption: A place where Joni will never be found.
          Of course, he means it as a service center for people who can be patient, not the medical way they mean it.
          I honestly thought I would grow more patient as I got older, and realized how few things are worth stressing over.  But, as it turns out, my realization that time is running out has only made me feel more rushed, more pressed to get things done before the sand falls through the hourglass. Or life-glass, whatever’s running.
          When I was in first grade I came home with a report card that said, “Joni has a hard time being patient with her peers.”  I didn’t even know what a peer was. But if it’s defined as someone who is your equal, why were they doing everything so slowly?
          You know the Department of Motor Vehicle scene in Zootopia?  It’s where two sloths are running things, and talking so slowly it could make you jump out of your seat, screaming.  That’s how my whole life seems at times.
          I did have one moment of progress.  I think.  It’s when my mother, who had Alzheimers’ for eight years, was in a care facility (she had also broken her back, hip, and shoulder).  I was helping her and chatting with her when a nurse, who had been watching, said, “You have such patience.”
          It was literally a jaw-dropping moment for me.  “I do?” I said.  No one had ever given me that compliment before.  But it’s one of my favorites.
          And then, of course, I went back to my hurrying.  A couple of weeks ago I called my doctor and got the recordings we all know:  If you’re a doctor, press 1.  If you’re a pharmacy, press 2.  If you’re a patient, press 3.
          “WHAT?” I thought.  If I’m impatient I can press 3?  This is fantastic!  This means someone will pick right up, be super efficient, and become my new best friend.  But it was not to be. Maybe they should have had another one: If you didn’t hear this right, press 4 for a hearing test.

Great news for fellow hurriers: You can order my books with the click of a button!  Check ‘em out here.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Are You Dead in a Ditch?

          This is probably my most-used text message and it is sent, not surprisingly, to my four children who are far flung and don’t always respond when I call.  I give them two or three messages and then I ask what any good detective would ask: Are you dead in a ditch?
          But I have recently learned of several new devices that could virtually beam me into their lives, something I’ll bet they would love.
          We all know there are medic alert buttons and call devices for seniors so they can access paramedics or even remember to take medications. Some even look like sleek wristwatches.

          But my idea goes further.  It would go right into the devices of one’s child.  I think “Beam Me Up” might be a phrase that’s already taken, but you get the idea.
          Your kid is at college or at work, and suddenly his phone lights up like a slot machine.  Wow-wow-wow sirens could be optional, but he would definitely know there was an incoming message from Mom, right?
He glances at his smart phone or Android, and there would be a lovely photo of his parent, waving their arms along with audio reminding them to take their vitamins.  Or get enough rest.  Or call home.
          Better yet, we could appear as a hologram, hovering in the air like Princess Leia, only life size.  Now that would be a welcome greeting, right?  And we could appear in a board meeting, a classroom, while they’re on a date, pretty much anywhere.
          I'll bet they'll have this new technology in no time. Every few minutes our phones become obsolete anyway, because smarty pants kids (who probably want to hear from their moms) are inventing new technology to replace the old stuff.  This is just the brave new world that’s next up.  And then we can be sure you’re not dead in a ditch.
          I actually have the perfect thing for you to do while waiting for your grown child to call back.  Check out my website—buy my books and watch my YouTube Mom videos. 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

True Crime Confession

          Do you know anyone who has stolen something from the LDS Conference Center DURING a church General Conference?  Yes you do—me. 
For my non-Mormon readers, let me explain that twice a year there’s a huge gathering of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City at the gigantic Conference Center (which seats 21,000), for several sessions of talks from our leaders along with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir performing throughout.  It’s quite a big deal and standing in line earlier this month, we met a man from Angola who had flown 36 hours just to attend it. Here’s how big it is:
So, to process thousands of people through a security check, it’s a bit of a mob scene.  Organized, but still a mob.  It was raining, so we all put our purses, umbrellas, whatnot, on a long series of tables, then picked them up at the end of the long assembly line.
Only my umbrella was missing.  Great.  Someone with a similar one must have picked mine up.  So I grabbed the one that most resembled mine, and took off for our seats.  But I was disappointed.  The one I had to settle for was not as nice as the one I was borrowing from my daughter.
After the session, we headed out.  And as I reached into my purse to turn my cell phone back on, what should I find but MY UMBRELLA! This meant I had stolen someone else’s—someone who is now going to get drenched, thanks to me.  I cannot tell you how terrible I felt.  I had obviously forgotten that I had collapsed my umbrella and stuffed it into my purse. I left the other one at the scene of the crime, but doubt very much that it found its owner.
And so I am confessing to this dastardly deed and hoping that someone out there can forgive the dingdong who made off with their umbrella. If only there were a LOST & FOUND for our brains.

I’d love to make a YouTube Mom video about how to remember you’ve already stowed your umbrella, but I fear not many of you really need the help I do! 

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

I Guess I Have to Wish You a Happy Birthday

          If you’re a regular reader (or an irregular one, sorry) you know that I went to France this summer with a group of college kids.  Despite my luggage being lost for the first three days,
we had a wonderful time. Two of my kids were there, so that was especially cool.

          After spending some time in Paris, we decided to head for the French Alps, Lake Annecy, and then hop over the border into Switzerland. And it was fabulous, fattening, and fun.
          HOWEVER, no trip is complete without Joni making a fool of herself, so here’s what happened.  One night we all gathered in my bedroom and, in the spirit of college coed behavior, I checked my Facebook page on my phone.  I noticed some birthdays, so I decided to dictate birthday wishes to each of these Facebook friends. 
          “Happy Birthday,” I said into the mike.  And then, to the kids clustered around, “I always feel obligated to say Happy Birthday to people if they’ve wished me a happy birthday on mine.”
          And only at this moment did I realize that the mike was still on and my words were still typing onto the birthday message!  “Oh, no!” I shouted.  “It’s typing that!”
Everyone imagined the birthday girl getting this horrid message that I was only wishing her a happy day out of a sense of duty. One student fell off the bed laughing, and declared this the highlight of the trip. Disaster!
BUT… luckily I caught it just before pressing “send.”  With pounding heart I watched as I backspaced through my confession and erased all evidence.  But, I have to say, now I wonder if that’s why people wish me a happy birthday and this thing could go on ad infinitum.  

          Either way, you can purchase my books out of a sense of duty and I will not be offended.  Find them here.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Keeping Pace

Well, he did it.  St. Bob got a pacemaker. 
Thank you, Richie, for the appropriate artwork.
His brother, Ken, flew in from Mississippi for the procedure, and contributed an apple fritter for post op recovery:
I had wondered if the pacemaker would be like a piano metronome, and we’d hear a steady ticking.
But no, it’s completely silent.  HOWEVER, you can opt for a doorbell feature to alert you that the battery’s running low in a few years.  That ought to wake you up.
And speaking of waking up, in this day of apps that do everything, why can’t they wire these things with a few more options?  Here are just a few I think would be handy:
A sleep machine feature with white noise, chirping birds, crashing waves, whatever you like. Then a lovely alarm to wake you up.
An applause setting so you can clap at performances without even having to move your hands.  For the truly lazy.
A baloney detector that goes “Wheep, wheep, wheep!” when people are lying.
A barking dog sound, just for fun.
GPS, as suggested by our son, Cassidy.
Comedy performances, and thus become a truly phenomenal ventriloquist who can talk even when his lips are tightly sealed.  Ditto for opera singing.
Books on tape that only you can hear, to help you through boring meetings.
And, of course, a whole Honey Do list of ideas to keep one’s spouse busy, along with a remote control for me to use.  But probably no one would sign up for that one.

You can, however, stay busy reading my books and watching my YouTube Mom videos.  Find everything here.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


          I’ve been waiting years for my weekly blog day to fall on October 10th.  This is because Ten-Ten is a HUGE, COLOSSAL, MEGA-GIGANTIC day in Chinatown.
          Years ago we took our kids to San Francisco on October 10th.  We live just a two-hour drive away so we go there often, but had no idea we were arriving in Chinatown exactly as an enormous festival was just commencing.
          It included the Double Ten Parade, and suddenly we were surrounded by fireworks, confetti, drummers and the pageantry of the Lion Dance:
          It was mesmerizing. If you can possibly visit a Chinese or Taiwanese district for this celebration of the Wuchang Uprising which led to the collapse of the Qing Dynasty, don’t miss it (yes, we should enjoy all the food and music but we should also know what we’re celebrating, right?)
          But this is Joniopolis.  So it can't go perfectly, right? A couple of years ago St. Bob and I decided to go back, just ourselves.  All our kids had flown from the nest, and we thought a trip to “the city” on 10/10 would be a perfect vacay. We knew the parade had gotten underway after sunset, so the night lighting would be gorgeous and dramatic, but what to do until then?
          We visited the wharf, rode the trolley cars, even made reservations at a great restaurant to while the time away until the parade. Finally it was dusk and we headed over to Chinatown.  But what was this? People were sweeping up colorful confetti and hauling trash cans back to the curb.  They had moved the parade up to mid-afternoon and we had missed the entire thing! 
          “Oh, it was so gorgeous,” we were told.  “Best ever.”  Happy residents were now bustling about, still aglow over the fun and excitement, as Bob and I stood there with long faces, chagrined and feeling like we had just awakened from comas of stupidity.
          BY THE WAY, I just texted the kids that it was 10-10 and already Nicole had forgotten it.  She texted, "What's 10-10?"
          Cassidy: 0
          Brandon: Yep
          Cassidy: There's actually a calculator on your phone.
          Nicole: Ha ha ha.
And this, my friends, is what life is really like in the Hilton house.
Luckily you can order my books on any day, at any time.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Bionic Bob

          In our last episode, we saw Joni getting hot under the collar, and everywhere else, over Bob’s ER visit for his skyrocketing blood pressure. Yes, he is now on medication for that.  BUT… what was also going on was an erratic heartbeat.  His, not mine.
And, of course, we were sent to see a cardiologist who strapped him up with a monitor and several stickers on his chest to wear for two weeks. One week into this our doctor called and wanted him to come right in. 
Now, first of all, here’s what’s on the wall as we’re waiting to see him:
It takes no imagination whatsoever to see that these are boxes of truffles, every one shiny from a coating of beautifully tempered chocolate. Right?  I get up from my chair and look closer.  It turns out these are not candies at all (so disappointing) but heartbeat diagrams of some kind. And I’d had such high hopes.
          Then the doctor comes in, shows us Bob’s Richter Scale paper, and announces that Bob will need a pacemaker.  Despite my telling him it’s only the size of an Oreo and can be installed in 20 minutes, Bob is crestfallen.  “You want one?” he asks.  Okay, point taken.
I’m actually relieved that he doesn’t need bypass surgery, but Bob has always felt invincible, has never even taken so much as a vitamin, and is heartsick, pun intended. He also has a knee operation coming up in two months.
 I remind him how lucky he is that he had a wrist operation that revealed cancer, and then a cancer treatment that revealed high blood pressure, and then an ER visit for that which revealed the erratic heartbeat, and now, Ta da!  His life is saved.
“Yep,” he says, “I’ve been thinking how lucky I am to have cancer for three years now.” 
We tell the comedians, I mean the kids, and immediately Brandon says he’s always wanted a cyborg in the family.  He also texts, “Robert Downey Hilton as Iron Dad.”
Richie suggests getting the theme song from Six Million Dollar Man for a ring tone and Cassidy says, “Can they install GPS too while they’re in there? Or LoJack at least?”  Brandon suggests there’s an app that comes with it, and I suggest we get a drone mechanism so I can control him remotely. I’m telling you, this whole thing is a win-win.

I realize not every wife’s reaction to her husband’s prostate cancer is to write a musical comedy about it, but that’s kind of our relationship.  You can see more about that (or bring it to a theatre in your city!) at jonihilton.com.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Cuff Him, Danno

          Two weeks ago I blogged about Bob’s incredible luck.  It floated right up to the Irony Fairies in the Constellation Not So Fast, and now we’ve been to the Emergency Room.
          Bob had a doctor appointment recently, so they slapped a blood pressure cuff on him and all of a sudden the room is lit up like the Aurora Borealis.  Lights are flashing, sirens are going off (I assume this is like a casino when you hit the jackpot?) and he is told that when your blood pressure goes over 200 you need to go to the emergency room. Definitely not the jackpot.
          We jump into the car and I take a moment to say, “I am begging you.  Please let me drive like a bat out of hell.  This is my one chance to get away with it.” (You may not know this, but I once called an ambulance service to see if non-medical people can volunteer to drive ambulances.  They can not.)
          Bob looks at me and says, “It will raise my blood pressure even more.”  I start the car, take off, and urge him to recline the seat and close his eyes so he won’t see how fast I’m going, but he refuses.
          “Fine,” I tell him. I obey the law. “But I get to advocate for you when you get there.”  I am, shall we say, a different creature in hospital settings and am not always happily received by people whose decisions I'm questioning.
          Once again, he refuses my offer. In fact, he wants me to restrain myself.  Or “retrain” myself.  I can’t really recall.  Pretty sure it wasn’t “remain” myself.
          We get there and apparently sign up for the deluxe package which means they will run every expensive test they can imagine, starting with an EKG, progressing through lab tests and running for home plate with an MRI.
          It takes five hours, during which time he cannot eat or drink anything.  I try to smuggle him a sip of water but Obedient Bob refuses.
          Finally-- and I am really glad you’re sitting down as you read this—his doctor comes over and says, “Well, we really don’t treat high blood pressure in the emergency room.”  Apparently it’s against the policy of the American College of Emergency Physicians.
          And I want to jump from my chair, get right in his face and scream, “THEN WHAT ARE WE DOING HERE?” Nicely, of course.
          But Bob has put me under a gag order and I have to smile and nod and watch as a nurse whips up a “cocktail” of pain killers for him that will now pay for lifetime docking fees in addition to the sailboat we’ve just bought somebody.  We learn it’s mostly Tylenol and we decide to save a couple of car payments and just take Tylenol at home.
          We leave and Bob is perplexed.  One of us has to be livid, so it’s me. The next day he tops the 200 mark again (it’s a holiday weekend and we can’t see our doctor for three days), so now I take him to an Urgent Care clinic hoping for a prescription, at least.  Nope.  Wouldn’t help, we’re told. Just buy a home monitoring unit and see your family doctor next week.
          So he does, and finally gets a prescription.  Which doesn’t work. His numbers are bouncing up and down all over the place. But we understand these things may take a couple of weeks to kick in.  So if it doesn’t work, “kick in” is going to be my new operative phrase. And you don’t want to be standing in the way.

Yeah, yeah, I know.  You’d think my own blood pressure was high.  Oddly it’s so low that nurses ask me if I’m a runner. Irony abounds.  Oh—and so do my books—buy ’em here.