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Category Archives: Mom Rants

The Punky Brewster Shoes

MY MOTHER: I bet you still have those nasty Punky Brewster shoes stashed away somewhere.

ME: Why yes, yes I do.

At the height of popularity of the television series Punky Brewster (It couldn’t have been too popular, because NBC cancelled it after only two seasons.), there was much Punky Brewster merchandise available (That right there would have been a good reason to keep it on the air.). I had a Punky Brewster T-shirt, backpack, Punky & Brandon dolls, bead kit, and clay pin kit. I even had a Halloween costume, which was actually very silly because I looked more like her in my normal clothes than in a plastic mask and vinyl suit. But what I liked the best and got the most use out of were my Punky Brewster shoes. They were hightops (that was the popular style way back then).

My Punky Brewster shirt. Sorry it is wrinkled. I keep it in the back of a dresser drawer. A bird pooped on it once, but I have washed it since then.

My Punky Brewster shirt. Sorry it is wrinkled. I keep it in the back of a dresser drawer. A bird pooped on it once, but I have washed it since then.

It always bothered me that, contrary to all reason, they did not actually look like the shoes that Punky wore on the show! On my TV, she wore what appeared to be two totally different colored Converse All-Stars. (I just realized that I originally watched Punky Brewster only in black and white—can you imagine!) Maybe the problem lay in that the contract for the shoes most likely did not fall to Converse for manufacture. Maybe someone was afraid two different shows would become parted at the store. Unfortunately, the shoes matched each other, but they WERE multi-colored. They said Punky Brewster on them. They must have come with boring laces (As if!), because I quickly replaced them with neon green ones. My son asked me, “Did you color the laces?” I could see where he would be confused. I recently DID color some laces, and the shoes as well. I responded emphatically, “No. It was the 80s, a wonderful, colorful time.” [Rant: Now we live in a time when Simon is trying to remove all color from the world and reduce us all to only black and white, starting with their malls across the country.]

Such a cool box! There is even a pic to color inside the lid and a maze on the bottom.

Such a cool box! There is even a pic to color inside the lid and a maze on the bottom.

My mom bought the shoes very large-2 ½-because they didn’t have my right size. I wore them as long as my feet would fit in them. There was even a big P or something on the sole. But I wore them until it was gone. I loved those dang shoes. I cannot imagine why my mother thought I would actually throw them out when I was done with them. The more she asked, the deeper I hid them in the back of my closet. Sometimes I would bring it up just to spite her. I have brought them with me through three moves. The effect of heat and moisture may be reflected on their deterioration, but they are still a treasured possession.

Anyone willing to pay me big bucks for these very worn but highly collectable footwear? One million? One thousand? Going once, going twice...

Anyone willing to pay me big bucks for these very worn but highly collectable footwear? One million? One thousand? Going once, going twice…

So now, you know if you are ever around me and I mention “Punky Brewster shows” that I am bragging about my mad hoarding skillz.

Don’t get me started on all the photographs I have, both digital and snapshots, that I am trying to store and keep organized.

For more of my Punky-related posts, please click here:

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
Be Careful What You Wish ForAVAILABLE NOW!
The Wind Could Blow a BugWHERE IT ALL BEGAN!



Is It Possible to be a Shy Extrovert?


My asbestos friend always calls herself an introvert. She claims she prefers to be tucked safely away inside her house toiling away on her next book, only surrounded by other people she feels very safe with.

introversion: the state of or tendency toward being wholly or predominantly concerned with and interested in one’s own mental life. …Reserved and solitary behavior.


I think she is crazy. If that is the case, she has everyone fooled. She is the most outgoing introvert I know. Her kid is enrolled in a million and one activities, which she must transport her to, and often help out. My asbestos friend also volunteers all the time—and for stuff I would never dream of! She will invent a support group at her church and offer to lead it. She will sign up to man a table at the local craft show to help raise money for a cause, not batting an eye at conversing with total strangers strolling by.

EXTROVERT-Introvert care

When I was a kid, it seemed like my mom only left the house three times a week, to go to the laundromat and the grocery store. I was told from an early age that I wasn’t allowed to join anything where she would have to participate, such as Girl Scouts. I was sorta shocked when she went with me to College Info Weekend, where they had a program for several hours for the parents, but she did.

If my asbestos friend is an introvert, then my mother is a hermit. #TrueStory

EXTROVERT-Introvert joke

So then what am I?

To people I don’t know, I am quiet. If I don’t know you, I am not going to take the chance of talking to you and having you disagree with me or, heaven forbid, attack my unique beliefs. I was always labeled “shy” as a child. Uhhhhh. *cringe* I am not one who generally signs up for things. I sit at home watching television and taking care of my family. I only venture out of my warm/drafty house when something catches my eyes/ears and compels me to take a chance at an adventure that could prove to be a disaster.

Yet, I kind of like to talk to people. I have held several cashier jobs, where I checked out people’s purchases. I had to greet them when they came into the store and provide assistance. These have actually been some of the jobs I have counted as my most enjoyable.

Sure, I can sit quiet and work independently behind a desk inputting data. But if I have to do it full-time, I tend to become rather miserable mighty quickly.

EXTROVERT-extrovert care

Is it possible to be an introvert who craves fame?

I have been slowly collecting my 15 minutes of fame a few seconds at a time. When I was a kid, I had my name announced on a Canadian music video show (Miss you Video Hits!). I have always found unusual opportunities to get myself on the radio; TV as well, but those opportunities are rarer. I spill forth embarrassing events of my life into my blog to provide humor to the universe. I publish books. You might not realize this, but for every copy that heads out into the world a little piece of my heart (and my sanity) heads out with it.

It is stressful and scary and crazy to put myself out there like that. Why would I do that?

So what am I? You tell me…

I enjoy the sense of helping people. But I have to put on a front to do it. I have to pretend to be braver than I actually am. I get hot and sweat profusely. I literally have to wear a different brand of higher powered deodorant to work such a job.

I believe I am an extrovert with generalized anxiety disorder.


extroversion: the act, state, or habit of being predominantly concerned with obtaining gratification from what is outside the self. …Tends to be…outgoing, talkative, energetic behavior



generalized anxiety disorder: an anxiety disorder characterized by excessive, uncontrollable and often irrational worry, that is, apprehensive expectation about events or activities. This excessive worry often interferes with daily functioning, as individuals with GAD typically anticipate disaster, and are overly concerned about everyday matters such as health issues, money, death, family problems, friendship problems, interpersonal relationship problems, or work difficulties.


This is all simply self-diagnosis, of course.

But it makes sense to me. I spent a lot of time as a kid sitting home whining about how bored I was all the time. I felt like the world was going by without me, that other people were having awesome adventures that I was missing out on. I don’t believe that an introvert would care about missing the fun others are experiencing.

And I care too much about what else is going on in the world. I worry about it all so much that then I tend to not want to leave the house for fear of sliding on a snowy road or showing up to an event that is canceled or worse, too many other people have already showed up and now there is a crowd and a line.

Is there such a thing as a “shy” extrovert? I provide the evidence above as proof of my theory that I am this creature in the flesh.

And what would happen if a lightning bolt zapped my brain and removed my anxiety? Would I be unstoppable? Would I suddenly start singing on Broadway?

(I can’t sing, so the answer would be “no.”)


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This is a little tail that will show you again what a powerful manifester I am when I set my mind to something. (A great past post on this subject is Pharamacy Giraffe.)

When I was little, for some holiday (seems like maybe it was Easter), I received a silly little tic-tac-toe game. It featured cats and mice as the playing pieces. Now, I never really played with it that much. I was an only child of a mother who purchased board games for me, but didn’t like to play them. So, I played it by myself until I got bored. It spent a lot of time sitting on the shelf collecting dust. One day, and I feel like I must have been in 2nd or 3rd grade, because it was very soon after we moved into our trailer, I was playing with this very game when something TRAGIC happened…

Cat & Mouse Tic-Tac-Toe copyright 1982 Giftco, Inc.

Cat & Mouse Tic-Tac-Toe, copyright 1982 Giftco, Inc.

Let’s back up for a moment here. Let me tell you something about my trailer. It was in a trailer park, so there really wasn’t much yard. I spent a lot of time sitting on the concrete steps, playing or reading or whatever. They were plain and boring and hard. They did not even have a railing up to the door as so many other trailers had.

What it DID have was a giant gap between the steps and the skirting (the metal trim around the bottom of a mobile home that covers up all the pipes and wheels and crap that are underneath it). My mom always cautioned me not to lose toys or anything down there. She was not going to retrieve them. I was a little kid. My mom had proven she could do almost anything. So then why couldn’t she move four concrete steps? I figured she just didn’t want to. I also suggested that we just shove the steps up closer to the house. But she explained about how the ground moves due to the freezing and thawing. And to illustrate her point, there was already a dent in the skirting from the years prior to us living there.

A picture of the steps. And my gramma. Because I miss her very much.

A picture of the steps. And my gramma. Because I miss her very much.

So, one fateful day, a mouse from my tic-tac-toe game fell BEHIND the steps! That fast, my game became tic-tac-DOH, as Homer Simpson would say. I cried and cried that I wanted it back. What good was a tic-tac-toe game with only 8 pieces? (What is a tic-tac-toe game good for at all, really? It is usually played with only a paper and pen!) I kept thinking there must be a way to move those steps.

I eventually put a pink pencil eraser with the set, to simulate the missing pink mouse. For years, I looked at those steps and knew that mouse was behind them, just out of my reach. Sure, other things fell back there over the years. Some things we could push out using a yard stick (meter stick, if you are international). I lived there for 15 years. And as much school studies, college tests, and pop culture trivia as I crammed into my brains in that time, I NEVER forgot about that little mouse, all alone, hungry and cold, behind those steps. Day after day he suffered back there in silence. I never gave up hope that one day I might see him again. I kept the game all those years, after all. A game I didn’t even play.

Then one day, that all changed…

After I moved out and then my mother, the landlord pulled our trailer out and sat it up by the road, for sale to the best offer. That is terribly depressing, but what happened next was NOT!

My old home was just pulled out to the curb to be sold for best offer.

My old home was just pulled out to the curb to be sold for best offer.

My then-boyfriend (now-husband) and I went to poke around the old homestead. The home where I had spent the formative years of my life, now brutally removed, leaving nothing but two long slabs of concrete, some water lines, and some blue-stained dirt.*

Can you guess what I looked for?

Can you guess WHAT I FOUND?!!

I found my mouse!

The mouse that was under my house!

I couldn’t wait to call my mom and tell her SHE WAS WRONG! She said I would never get that mouse back, BUT I DID!



The miraculous mouse from under the house!

The miraculous mouse from under the house!

I had spent so much time thinking we needed to move the steps, I never thought of moving the trailer. Which is silly, because the trailer HAS wheels; the steps do not. Once I returned home, I reunited that little mouse with his family! You can’t tell it in the picture, but that mouse is little dirtier, looks a little more tired than the other mice in the set. He has some dirt in the creases of his body. And I could give him a good bath and remove it, but I won’t. It is his badge of honor of what he survived. I want to know which one is the miraculous mouse, the one who was braver than all the other mice. The one who went where no plastic mouse had gone before, and returned to tell the tail (Even his tail is still intact!).

I realize that no one really needed to ever hear this story except me, but I have put it on here anyway. Don’t you wish you had the ten minutes back that it spent for you to read that? No matter what you think, I think there is a lesson to be learned there, somewhere. Never give up on the mouse under your house.

Maybe the lesson is that I need some therapy…

* When we moved into that trailer, there was a state mandate for all the drain pipes to be updated to be bigger. That was work was completed (or so we thought) before we moved in. All the drains in the entire structure were on the side under the house–except the drain for the washing machine. My mom sold the washer and dryer that came with the trailer right after we moved in, and we never had another until about a year before we moved out. Apparently, we only learned through my snooping of the old homestead, in all those years the drain for the washer had never been hooked into the rest of the sewer pipes. Every time my mom had done laundry for a year (and let me tell you, that woman does A LOT of laundry), all the water had gone on the ground underneath the trailer. We always sort of wondered why you could smell Downy outside so well when doing the wash, even when the windows were all closed. So in our wake, we left a big blue puddle of fabric softener.

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
The Wind Could Blow a BugAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It NEW RELEASE!
Be Careful What You Wish For – COMING JANUARY 2016!

My Earliest Memory

MEMORY-green fog

My earliest memory is of being awake super early in the morning standing in my living room. Like, maybe 5:00AM. It is the only time as a kid I can remember being up that early. Captain Kangaroo was on. It was only on very early in the morning. That was the only time I ever watched it. (And it was kinda weird.) I remember the screen on the color television being kind of greenish, because it didn’t work right and the tubes were going out on it or something. I looked out the tall window at the end of our living room in our old farmhouse, and there was a wall of green fog outside. It was so thick I could not see our next door neighbor’s house. It was as if an alien ship had landed outside, the lights from their ship reflecting off of the fog. It was strange and frightening, but also exciting at the same time.

That might all sound super fake and trippy. And, I will admit there are probably inaccuracies in it as my brain has been rotted over the last 35 years by too many Pop-Tarts and watching too much Beavis & Butthead while I was in college. I would say I was probably only three or four years old when that all took place.

But I know there is some truth in it, because my mom remembers that day too. Just a little differently than I do…

She remembers it as a day when, in a fit of stubbornness the night before, I told her I was not going to go to sleep. And, well, apparently I didn’t. (Most every kid threatens it, but very few follow through. I was a determined little Capricorn!) She says it was incredibly foggy that morning and there was an eerie green glow to everything. She needed to go to the post office that morning, so she loaded me in the car…where I promptly fell asleep.

Now, this was Riga, Michigan, a quaint but tiny farming town. The post office was literally a 65 second drive from our house.

I find it interesting that even at that young age I would defy her on purpose, just to be difficult. I guess that proves there is no hope for stopping that habit now.

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books:
The Wind Could Blow a BugAVAILABLE NOW!
When You Least Expect It NEW RELEASE!

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“We are not going to Mackinaw City.”

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My mom and I took a vacation “Up North” in Michigan in June of 1990. I had completed 8th grade, and was due to change buildings to start scary high school in the fall. My 80’s perm that I had finally gotten caused my hair to become dry and frizzy, and I didn’t have the good sense yet to cut it of. My hair would never be as long again until my future wedding. I still toted my New Kids on The Block book with me, and of course my stuffed animal Barfeys.

Turning in for the night with the essentials

Turning in for the night with the essentials

We were only going for three days. My mom decided we would travel up the west side of the state. This was a change from trips we had taken Up North in the past. Usually we were gone for four days, to allow for more sight-seeing, and we usually traveled up the east side or the middle of the state.

“We are not going to Mackinaw City.”

This was my mom’s statement, over and over again, as we planned out the trip. Mackinaw City, and with it the Mackinaw Bridge, are two of my mom’s favorite things in the world. We had been there before. But I think she made the statement for two reasons.

  • I think she wanted to see something new we had not seen before, which is why we went up the west side of the state.
  • How she travels, then this took longer, and I don’t think she had enough money for us to have another night’s motel stay.
  • And she did not want to drive all the way home from Mackinaw City in one day.

Wait. That is three reasons. But they are all related to each other.

We headed off at the end of June. My mom must have thought I was old enough to pack for myself, because I went without a jacket. It is summer! It is June! Who needs a jacket!

That was the gloomiest, rainiest, coldest end of June, until 2015. Since then, I have learned that it is always colder the further north you go, and near the water. Either way, it was still colder than it should have been. My mom told me to layer my T-shirts, so I did. It did not really help to keep me any warmer.

Our first major stop was Holland, Michigan. It was really awesome to see an actual Dutch windmill. There were dancers who wore wooden shoes. They were impressive. Even with wearing layers and layers of socks, I still figured that must be the worst summer job in town.

We traveled through Muskegon that day, and spent the night in Manistee. I kept thinking how much it sounded like “manatee.” We went to sleep and dreamed of warm days and sunny skies. But the dawn brought only more clouds and rain.

In the morning, my mother reminded me, “We are not going to Mackinaw City. We need to start heading back down for home tonight, so we will not have a long drive tomorrow.”

We traveled through Frankfort and spotted a lighthouse across the water. Lighthouses are my favorite. If I recall correctly, my mom found a condo parking lot she drove through to get a better look at it. The Frankfort light may have been the first one I ever saw with a breakwater attached to it. The way the rough waters splashed up against it was impressive. I could have captured it better with a digital camera, but they did not exist yet.

Frankfort Breakwater Light, Frankfort, MI 1990

Frankfort Breakwater Light, Frankfort, MI 1990

We stopped at Sleeping Bear Dunes, another of my favorite places. Not so much when it is blowing and cold and rainy though. The first time we had ever been there, I was like eight years old. My mom wasn’t spry enough to climb the dunes with me, and I was too young to climb them by myself. Now, I was old enough to go up myself, but the weather was just too crappy. We bought me a souvenir T-shirt in the gift shop, to add to my layers of warmth. (I was wearing all the shirts I had brought for the entire vacation every day.) It was neon pink and three sizes too big, because I was not done with 80’s fashions yet.

The wind is blowing my shirt, but it looks like something else...

The wind is blowing my shirt, but it looks like something else…

If you think this is just a post about me whining about a gloomy trip, please stick with me. I am almost to the part where the cloud bank lifts and the angels sing. Actually, it was a band playing, but you get the idea…

We went to Traverse City. We drove out on Old Mission Point and found another lighthouse. We couldn’t go inside or climb this one either, but at least we could take pictures out front.

Old Mission Point Lighthouse, near Traverse City, MI 1990

Old Mission Point Lighthouse, near Traverse City, MI 1990

Then a strange thing happened.

My mom got on the road to Mackinaw City (Route 31, most likely). We passed through little towns. We passed by convenience stores selling fudge. We passed through the big cities of Charlevoix and Petoskey.

She kept driving. I kept quiet. Sure, I was the navigator with the map, but she had to know we were headed for Mackinaw City, right? After all, there were road signs that indicated we were nearing it. Billboards advertising the various ferry companies, Arnold, Sheplers, and Star Line, became more and more prominent.

Another funny thing happened. The clouds began to clear.

But she was the mother, the adult, and she had said, “We are not going to Mackinaw City.”

Had she lost her mind? Taken leave of her senses?

Either way, I was keeping my mouth shut, because I really really DID want to go to Mackinaw City. I figured if I didn’t say anything, we would just end up there and it would be too late.

And that is just what happened. We rolled into Mackinaw City. And while I wouldn’t say the sun came out, the rain stopped.

The weather improved enough that the kite store was flying a long string of colorful kites up into the sky, all tied to one another. It was like a fabric rainbow after the rain. The scent of fresh fudge hung heavy in the air. Next to the Straits of Mackinac in the park at the end of the street, a huge band started to set up. When they began to play, the music drifted down the street, where cars were parked along the center boulevard as they probably had since the 1950’s, and souvenir shops lined up next to each other. Since the 4th of July was only a few weeks away, they had many patriotic songs mixed into their selections. I guess it made sense that they were playing in the town square, since it was a Saturday evening. But I was on vacation, and had lost all track of time.

Actual program from that night's performance

Actual program from that night’s performance

I just think back on that night so fondly. It is one of the moments in my life that I will cherish forever. That may be one of the most relaxed and happy times of my life, right then. My mom and I walked the shops until the lights shined brightly inside and the sun fell below the horizon, in the shadow of the giant bridge, connecting the the two peninsulas like a neck connects a head to a body.

In the morning, the sun shone brightly in the sky (of course!). We made one last visit to my mom’s favorite park by the bridge, then started off on our long trip home.

Mackinac Bridge, Mackinaw City, MI 1990

Mackinac Bridge, Mackinaw City, MI 1990

Years later, I admitted to her that I knew where we were headed but I hadn’t said anything. “Oh, I knew where we were going. But we were that close, and I just couldn’t help but head up there.”

Still, I think she may have been in a vacation daze. If I had said anything, who knows, it may have snapped her out of it. Then we never would have gone to Mackinaw City. I wish I was there right now. With a jacket, just in case…

Follow the romantic entanglements of The Riley Sisters in my books When You Least Expect It & The Wind Could Blow a Bug AVAILABLE NOW! (The Wind Could Blow a Bug is ON SALE for only $.99 for a limited time.)

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