Friday, January 24, 2020

Fly On The Wall With The Man Who Won't Let Me Sleep

     Welcome to another edition of Fly On The Wall group blog postings hosted by Karen of Baking In A Tornado. Today, five brave bloggers are welcoming you into their homes for a peek at what goes on behind closed doors. At my house, the fly is always entertained by my husband's witty comebacks. No matter what comment I make, Mac has something to add to it. Unfortunately, these funny conversations often take place late at night while I'm trying to sleep. I say something, then he says something weird back, and then I can't stop laughing, which sends me into a coughing fit....and then I have to pee. That pretty much sums up my evenings.

     Here's a little sampler platter of our latest midnight conversations:

"At your funeral, instead of putting up sentimental photos of you in a slideshow, I'm going to share photos of every weird thing you've ever done."
"That's going to be the longest funeral in history."

"You must be getting old. The first thing you do every morning is take Meloxicam just so you can get out of bed without  pain."
"It could be worse. What if the first thing I needed to get out of bed was an antiinflammatory suppository?"

"Your stomach feels like a big, hard lump."
"Don't worry----that's not a tumor. It's last night's noodle casserole."

"You're not sleeping well because the window is open and there's a strong breeze blowing through."
"No, it's because there are too many strong rum drinks blowing through me."

"Can you reach the light switch? Your arm is longer than mine."
"Not everything on me is long anymore, you know......"

"When I put the food that I ate today into my Fitness Pal app, it answered by telling me I need to go on a diet."
"That's because your stomach has a built-in GPS system for navigating the best snacks in the house. "

     Maybe tonight when I go to bed, I'll just fake-sleep so that my husband doesn't keep me awake. Ha! Who am I kidding? My bladder will never let me sleep through the night anyway....

***WANT MORE MENO MAMA? You can read my interview on the craft of writing with Writer CEO HERE,  And my latest for CONSIDERABLE HERE.  But what I'm REALLY excited about is the publication of my first article with AARP on eye health, which you can read HERE.

Buzz around, see what you think, then click on these links for a peek into some other homes:

Baking In A Tornado        
Never Ever Give Up Hope   
Menopausal Mother         
Spatulas on Parade            
Medicated Musings                   


Friday, January 10, 2020

Wonderful Winter Writers Series: Guest Post By Stephanie Jankowski

I'm so excited to feature my friend and author Stephanie Jankowski on the blog today with a sample chapter from her new book, Schooled. Several of my adult children are teachers, so I can relate to many of the funny stories in this delightful book. I've known Stephanie for quite some time now and have always enjoyed her hilarious blog "When Crazy Meets Exhaustion." She is such a talented writer and I'm just thrilled to share a portion of her book with you today!


In this collection of hilariously frank essays, high school English instructor and popular parenting blogger Stephanie Jankowski throws open the classroom door to the victories, challenges and WTF-moments of today's teachers.
Laugh and commiserate with Steph’s no-holds-barred commentary on lighthearted subjects such as being mistaken for a high schooler as a first-year teacher, accidentally saying the “c-word” at a school-wide assembly, and navigating tricky student questions like “Are Trojan condoms named after those soldiers in the Odyssey?”. You’ll nod along as she tackles more serious topics like race and education, the death of a student, and teaching with empathy.
Anyone with a pulse will enjoy this book, but it should be required reading for every passionate, dedicated educator who’s felt like banging their head against the blackboard. Schooled shouts: “I see you, fellow teacher…and you’re not alone.”


When You’re a 22-Year-Old Teacher and Your Students Are 18

Hall Duty, 2004. 

Because my colleague had to cover another class, I was canvassing the halls solo that day. It was eerily quiet, the usual suspects nowhere to be found. I’d grown accustomed to multiple trips around the building—front to back, up and down the steps—and learned that changing into comfortable sneakers was a necessity. Heels stashed under my desk back in the classroom, I was business on top and Nike runners on the bottom as I walked the halls of our high school that day.

In retrospect, it made sense: a young-looking female, tennis shoes, hair pulled back in a low ponytail. I should’ve seen it coming.

Rather, I should’ve seen her coming.

Passing the copy center, I continued down the long empty corridor, removed from the steady lineup of classroom doors. As I rounded the corner leading to the gym’s back entrance, the most remote part of the building, I heard a quick shuffling behind me. She grabbed me by the arm just above the elbow, spinning me around to face her. Stunned, I couldn’t find words; there was no time. Her hot breath flooded my face, our noses mere inches apart. “What do you think you’re doing? Get back to class!”

Sighing loudly, I rolled my eyes. “Yeah, hi. Barbara? We’ve been through this. I work here. I’m a first-year teacher.”

This was the eleventeenth time our school nurse had intercepted me in the hall with accusations of cutting class. I’d run out of fucks somewhere around our third confrontation. 

Barbara released her death grip and took a few steps back, studying me. Her eyes widened in surprised amusement to find me on the receiving end of her mistake once again. “I just keep thinking you’re one of the students!” I fought the urge to roundhouse her. This level of stupidity was ridiculous. Not to mention the fact that she put her hands on me—again. She’s lucky I wasn’t one of the students, because I’d seen enough of them throw down with one another in those very hallways and one even try to fight our principal. Either our nurse was unaware of her handsy repercussions or she just didn’t care. I was leaning toward the latter. 

So many bizarre and blatantly inappropriate things happened during my first year of teaching, most of them simply because I was a young woman. Beginning a career at the age of 22 is a daunting task for anyone, but when your subordinates are only a couple years younger, and when those subordinates are actually juniors and seniors in your English class, situation and circumstance are complicated in a way I never learned about in college.

Like the day my students were working in pods. To accommodate the desks, I had to move a cluster of them close to the door. The move was against my better judgment, as I was all too familiar with the risks of desk-to-door proximity. No teacher in America can compete with the temptation that is The Hallway. I’ve seen students break their necks for just a quick peek into the enticing abyss outside the classroom. Voices, footsteps, the bang of a locker—teachers don’t stand a chance. And if someone knocks on the door? Mayhem. 

Unfortunately, I had no choice that day; the pods were a necessary evil. I ran interference as best I could by physically standing between the students and the door, but because it was approximately 105°F that September, the door and windows had to remain open if there was any chance of survival.
P.S. Ms. DeVos, please do something useful like equipping schools all over America with air-conditioning. Or resigning. Thank you.

Moving on.

One of the usual hall wanderers was in full effect that day. I didn’t realize it, but he was lingering just outside my classroom and any time I stood in front of the door, specifically when I bent over a desk to help students, this young man was . . . how do I put this delicately?

He simulated . . . no.

He pretended to . . . not quite right.

He . . . okay, fine. I’m just gonna say it.

He air-humped me. And I was completely oblivious, chatting up students about the author’s purpose in the text. Not until one of my female students quietly motioned toward the door did I ...... ***WANT TO READ MORE? BUY THE BOOK HERE


English teacher by trade, smack talker by nature, Stephanie Jankowski subscribes to the mantra, “Life is too short, laugh!” She finds the funny in everyday life on her blog,, and in education on sites like We Are Teachers and Hey, Teach. Steph lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with her husband and their three children. Schooled is her first book and writing it gave her the nervous poops.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Fly On The Wall Having A Ball

     "It's the most wonderful time of the year!" Yes, I have been singing this for weeks. My excitement starts on Thanksgiving morning and lasts for the next five weeks. Like a gazillion other people on the planet right now, our family is in full holiday mode. Rather than describe it all to you, I'm going to share a batch of holiday photos for today's edition of Fly On The Wall group blog postings hosted by Karen of Baking In A Tornado.

     Before getting into the photos, I'm pleased to let you know that lately, I've been a regular contributor to the amazing website CONSIDERABLE. I love working with the editors over there and they make my job so easy! If you'd like to read my latest self-help articles, you can find them all HERE. Another awesome thing that happened recently was getting one of my personal essays published on MOTHERWELL, a website that has been on my bucket list for several years. This piece is near and dear to my heart---it's about my mother and her Christmas cookie baking tradition. I miss her terribly during the holidays----she was my rock. Please take a moment to read,  Learning To Make My Mothers Holiday Cookies Again.

     As I mentioned earlier, the excitement of the holidays begins for me on Thanksgiving morning when the family gathers around to prep the turkey and watch the Macy's Day Parade.

   Once the turkey leftovers are gone, I begin decorating the house for Christmas. First the outdoor lights, then the tree (but only after a cup or two of spiked eggnog).

     Speaking of eggnog, what would the Christmas season be without holiday parties? We attended some fun ones as well as the magical boat parade that our city hosts each year.

     And then comes the baking....lots and LOTS of baking. Hundreds of cookies are stored in my refrigerator right now, just waiting to be gifted to my friends and family. I have eaten so much sugar lately that I'm surprised I'm not in a diabetic coma.

     But nothing is as important as being with my family during the holidays, and I feel blessed to have my kids and grandkids living nearby. They are the reason for my joy during "the most wonderful time of the year", and the reason I'm still singing the song. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all! XOXO


Make sure you click on the links below for a peek into some other homes:

Baking In A Tornado        
Never Ever Give Up Hope   
Menopausal Mother           
Spatulas on Parade           
Go Mama O.                      

Friday, December 6, 2019

Winter Writer Series: "Three Generations Of Butts" By Janie Emaus

     I'm always excited to feature one of my fellow Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop authors on the blog. I've known Janie Emaus since we met in 2014 at the convention, and we've been good friends ever since. I admire her writing style, and she never fails to make me laugh when she writes humorous stories about aging (because I can sooooo relate!). Her essay that I'm sharing today is one of my favorites because I have been in this situation before. Janie keeps it real, so I'm sure you'll be laughing with me on this one, too.....

                               THREE GENERATIONS OF BUTTS

Hair whitens. Butts droop. Arms sag. Aging is not a pretty picture, is it?  

And it’s even less pretty when you’re in a dressing room with all those mirrors that don’t hide anything. Rather, they emphasis all those parts of your body which you’d like to imagine looked differently.  

But those mirrors don’t lie.

I was faced with that painful truth when I went shopping with my ninety-something mother and my thirty-something daughter. Three generations of women made from the same mold.

The similarities were still there, but the differences were hard to ignore.  

Years ago, my butt was as firm and ripe as a melon, just like my daughter’s. My thighs were smooth, void of those craters and bumps making one think of the moon surface. My arms didn’t have that flabby effect. My hair was a natural blonde. 

After looking from my daughter to myself, I wanted to bolt out of that room.  In fact, I wanted to bolt out of 2019 and into 1990.

Then I looked at my ninety-four-year mom. And felt even worse. 

I saw where my body was going!

And I’m not convinced that any amount of exercise can stop it from happening.  (Although, I don’t think I’ll ever wear old lady under panties). 

While I was lamenting the state of my future body, my daughter blurted out.  “Ugh, I hate my waist.”

Me: “Your waist is perfect.  Look at this extra skin around mine.” 

My mother: “What are you two talking about?  I’m one big wrinkle.  My butt is flatter than melted butter. And my boobs are like bananas.”

With that, we all started laughing.  There was no age difference in our giggles. Just three happy women, trying to find a decent pair of jeans that hugged our bodies in just the right way. No matter what that body looked like.

And we were determined to succeed. Because no matter our age, we all want to look good when facing the world.
No butts about it. 


Janie Emaus believes when the world is falling apart, we're just one laugh away from putting it together again.

In a previous life (before cell phones and the World Wide Web) she assumed a famous persona and wrote for the Goosebumps and Fear Street series.
As herself, she wrote educational videos, ad copy for adult videos, and dozens of stories for The Los Angeles Times Kids’ Reading Room Page.

In this life, she is the author of the young adult novel, Mercury in Retro Love and the science fiction story, Passage 99. Her essays have appeared in hundreds of anthologies and websites. 

She was proud to be named a 2013 BlogHer Voice of the Year. And beyond thrilled to win an honorary mention in the 2016 Erma Bombeck Writing Competiton. But no award (well, maybe the Pulitzer) ranks higher than her family.
To learn more about Janie visit her website at

Social media links:

Amazon page:

Friday, November 22, 2019

Fly On The Wall With A Foodie Family

Welcome to another edition of Fly On The Wall group blog postings hosted by Karen of Baking In A Tornado. Today, four bloggers are bravely inviting you into their homes to get a sneak peek at what goes on behind closed doors.

With Thanksgiving soon upon us, my husband is especially excited. It's a special time for him not just because it's a family holiday, but because he gets to eat all of his favorite foods in one day. In case you haven't noticed in my older Fly On The Wall blog posts, my husband LOVES down-home cooking. I'm guilty of serving him giant portions (I've taken the old saying "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach" way too far) and he's guilty of eating it all.

We talk about our favorite foods quite often, and the conversations usually lead to how the food makes us feel. Sometimes the food is comforting and makes our bellies feel warm and happy. Other times, we eat only healthy meals, which makes us want to hit the gym and sweat out every piece of pizza we have consumed since 1984. But mostly, we complain about how full we are. I'm convinced that my brain does not have an off switch when it comes to chocolate, and for my husband, that off switch broke the day we shared our wedding vows. That man could easily enter a food eating contest and win, especially if turkey with mashed potatoes and gravy is served. The fly on the wall knows this, too, since he has been buzzing around, listening to our conversations about food......

"It's late. Aren't you coming to bed?
"Not yet. I can't lie down because my stomach is too full from dinner."
"If you want to feel better, try sitting up for a bit."
"I would need to sit up for three weeks to digest that meal."

"The pool water is so cold that everything on my body has shriveled up."
"Yeah, even my man parts resemble raisins."
"Too bad the cold water doesn't shrivel up our stomachs."

"You make questionable choices during vacation."
"Yeah, that's what my stomach is saying after eating three of those giant cookies from the bakery. When we get back home, people are going to ask me what I bought during vacation. I'll tell them that I bought a bigger stomach."

"The Mexican bean dish you made tonight was really delicious, but I farted so hard that I almost catapulted
myself off the couch."

"I guess you liked the potatoes I made, judging by the amount you ate."
"That's because I'm not a stud muffin, I'm a SPUD muffin."

 "I need shoe inserts. My feet are killing me. Maybe it's because I've gained weight from your cooking."
"No, your feet hurt because you're on them all day carrying around heavy stuff at work like you're some kind of pack mule."
"Then I need pack mule inserts for my shoes."
"Does that mean you're going to start kicking everything backward?"

"I need a RIGHT NOW."
"We'll be home soon. Just a few more miles."
"You don't understand---I'm talking about doing number #2."
"Can't you hold it just a bit longer?"
"Nope. The casserole train is rolling down the track with its breaks screeching and an engineer sounding the horn. I NEED TO GET HOME RIGHT NOW!"

"I can't find my reading glasses."
"That's God's way of saying it's time for bed and no more playing games on the iPad."
"If I can't read the labels on my prescription bottles and take the wrong pills, then I might be flatlining tonight instead of taking my cholesterol meds."

"You know you're getting old when the highlight of your Saturday evening is finding special rocks online for your garden."

"It beats the days of dressing up, spending money we don't have, and staying out past midnight in dive bars."
"Yeah, staying home in our elastic waistband shorts after consuming a large meal is way more preferable to squeezing our internal organs into a tight pair of Levi's for a night on the town."

     I guess it's time for me to end this blog post and get started on my Thanksgiving menu. Does anyone know where I can find a great deal on 10 bags of baking potatoes and a five-gallon drum of gravy?

***WANT MORE MENO MAMA?" This week you can find me on CONSIDERABLE with an important article on parenting: "Are You A Parent Or A Doormat To Your Adult Children?"

Click on these links for a peek into some other Fly On The Wall homes:

Baking In A Tornado        
Never Ever Give Up Hope   
Menopausal Mother           
Spatulas on Parade           

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

How To Take Care Of Your Body After Menopause

     On the blog today I have interesting information from The Black Purple company about taking proper care of our bodies after menopause. They share some great tips that all postmenopausal women should consider:

How to Take Care of Your Body After Menopause

It might seem like you’ll never stop having those moments when it feels like the furnace is turned up to 106 degrees, or you go from giddily happy to weepingly sad at the drop of a hat (literally), or that you will never, ever have another good night’s sleep.

Even while the symptoms might persist, menopause does indeed come to pass! And just like any other phase in our lives, there are small things that we can do to better our bodies and minds. For the sake of your health and having more of the rest of your life to look forward to, it’s important to pay close attention to your physical fitness after menopause to better understand what your body needs to stay balanced.
3 (Practical) Tips for Taking Care of Your Body After Menopause
We deliberately put the word “practical” in the heading above. Anyone can tell you to get a gym membership, go jogging for an hour every day, hire a nutritionist, and completely change your diet. But most of us have a tough time sticking to major changes like those for any length of time. Instead, consider the following more practical steps first and do what you can to make them part of your life. Then, things like jogging or joining a gym will be easier to tackle later on if you choose to do so.

  1. Improve Your Nutrition - After menopause, your body needs good nutrition more than ever. You can start by balancing your diet, which means getting the right proportion of your daily nutrition from the three main macronutrients: 
    1. Carbohydrates - 45% to 65% of your daily calories
    2. Fat - 20% to 35%
    3. Protein - 10% to 35%
If you’ve never been able to balance your diet, at least try to cut out as much sugar and salt from the foods you eat. You can do that by staying away from processed and packaged foods, which, beautifully, will automatically help balance your diet.  

  1. Get Your Calcium - After menopause, lower estrogen production means your body doesn't retain as much calcium from the foods you eat. Low levels of calcium can reduce your bone mass and make you more susceptible to osteoporosis.

    In addition to eating a healthier diet, supplement your diet with calcium as needed. After menopause, you should get about 1,200mg of calcium every day to promote bone growth and reduce the chance of fractures. Additionally, Vitamin D supplements will help your body to absorb calcium.

    Despite all the good they do, don’t start gobbling calcium and vitamin D. Too much of either can cause kidney stones, constipation, and/or abdominal pain.
  2. Get More Active - First, always talk to your doctor before beginning any additional physical activities. Stop any activity if there is any sign of pain or discomfort.

    Like just about everything else in your life, the end of menopause can make you gain weight. More activity will help you manage that. It has a few other desirable side effects too, like helping to avoid heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and osteoporosis. Better yet, it’ll help you sleep better and improve your mood! Your increased activity and breathing help carry more blood and oxygen to your brain, making it release serotonin and norepinephrine, both of which boost information processing and mood.

    If you can’t get into a formal exercise routine, that’s OK. It helps to just get more active in any way you can. Things like parking further from the mall entrance, and taking the stairs instead of the escalator, can make a difference. If you can manage it, regular walking, jogging, bike riding and/or swimming are great for your heart and they also help lower your bad cholesterol.

    Also, consider moderate weight training too. We’re not talking about kettlebell routines and bench presses - unless that works for you. There are plenty of bodyweight exercises (using only your body weight, no extra weights) that deliver similar results as if you went to a gym. Emptying the dishwasher? Do some squats while you’re at it.

    In addition to toning your muscles, strength training can improve your balance and posture, boost your metabolism and reduce symptoms of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.

You can be as healthy as ever after menopause. In fact, if you manage to eat a nutritious, balanced diet and get more regular activity into your life, you’ll be surprised at how it can boost your energy levels, improve your mood and confidence, and keep you looking great!


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