Hypochondria almost killed me


Have you ever thought you were dying of colon cancer, and while planning how to make your children’s life bearable after you pass, you bought them a puppy?

If you haven’t, my suggestion is to wait for your official diagnosis before picking up the dog. Perhaps researching the breed beforehand would have also been a good choice. But instead I thought, “Boy that puppy is so cute and fluffy; plus, my neighbor’s mom’s, dog groomer’s proctologist said this breed isn’t supposed to shed and is hypoallergenic, so it’s got to be perfect for us!”

Unfortunately, this was me two weeks ago, and I can’t find enough Calgon to take me away. It’s not that I don’t like dogs, but I’ve been warned never to get a puppy and I’m old enough to know better. This dying thing caught me off guard, plus you should have seen her widdle picture!

Despite the fact my family had begged for a dog for years, the pressure to give in to their request before my imminent demise felt real and strong.

Like flossing before going to the dentist, I usually make sound, well thought out decisions; however when I do lose logical perspective, my analytical husband – my yin to my yang – will point me in the right direction. He’s my “spell-checker” of logical ideas.

But this one time, our system failed!

I should have noticed the hubby wanted a dog again, when he started drawing plans to build a fence instead of checking my DNR or Advanced Directive at the medical plaza, but I really thought I was a goner.

People, hypochondria can slowly take over your brain without a warning. Every ache and pain of mine couldn’t be normal for someone the mere age of 29 (plus a few decades), but since I’d never experienced the age before, I didn’t recognize the signs.

Looking back over the last few years, age had been doing a number on my health realities. In fact, a health data-checker would be the perfect app for me. It would ask:

1. Are you breathing?
2. Do you have a pulse?
3. Are you having severe intestinal issues?
4. Are you considering getting a puppy? DON’T!!

Not only would this mobile app have protected me, but I can only assume the population would save a bunch on health care expenses. [Note to reader: if you design this mobile app, I expect 20-percent of all gross sales.]

So, the puppy is a keeper. I must be positive and keep the whining for the puppy and my pre-teens. I will invest in a nice crate and tall playpen. I’ll take stock in quality earplugs and doggie pee pads. Then I’ll plan on getting rid of everything in our house within the next year. This way if any shoe or windowsill survives death by mastication, it will be a pleasant surprise and a bonus!

Despite my mere diagnosis of gastric reflux, I’m healthy! My girls are thrilled to have a new fuzzy friend, and my husband finally has someone to chase sticks in the newly fenced in backyard.

Excuse me. I need to let out the dog. It’s been over 15 minutes.

I’m sure all of these changes and stressors won’t affect my reflux one bit.

(previously published in The Kansas City Star)


Ladies, Even YOU can Have a Midlife Crazy

To Burn In Hell. Grungy female portraitGo ahead, you know you want to do it

I’m a slow bloomer – at least in the midlife crisis department. I could give a rip how old I am, or that I don’t drive a sports car. Why stress over the fact that my abs are donned in a fat parka ready for the first hard freeze? But what I am noticing are scores of women making drastic changes in their lives. They’ve got a case of Midlife Crazy.

Once believing only men went through radical midlife plights, I am now forced to reevaluate my judgmental ways. I have known handfuls of women performing extraordinary measures (occasionally up to a DD) to get noticed. Tiny tucks and nearly nips have been common practice by hoards of women on TV and a neighborhood near you. Needles filled with paralytics inserted into their facial features are just as common as melting the skin off your face with acid.

Thank goodness for Facebook or I never would have experienced these people’s insecurities firsthand. It’s not just a Hollywood competition anymore. The women of the Midwest are collecting their spare change and/or ruining their credit score to smooth, cinch, and plump their parts.

Tats and Piercings
If I had a dime for every female acquaintance that got pierced or tattooed when they turned 45, I would have…a bunch of dimes.

Thanks to Facebook, I get to watch graphic photos of these women putting their brave panties on in the name of beauty. Due to social media, I have fantastic zoom-in capabilities of all piercings and oozing, red skin art. Just can’t get enough of that!

Praise the Lord! nose piercing is still the rage. I don’t really get this one. You can’t wear your new cute dangly earrings or big hoops in your nose. You would look crossed-eyed all day and not be able to focus since you’d get distracted by something attacking your nose. Plus, the thought of getting a cold and then having to plug your hole so you don’t blow out your diamond rhinestone is EW!

“Willow, you have a bit of glitter on your… (swats incoming hand) Sorry!”

Pimp my Ride
After years of minivans and car seats, it’s understandable a woman should yearn for a nice looking automobile – sans stains, unrecognizable sticky spots and Goldfish cracker crumbs looming in every crack. I have visions of clean floor mats and a petite vehicle that doesn’t beep when you put it into reverse. But Ladies, do you think you appear younger when you are cruising at high speeds in your convertible roadster? Now you resemble a confused middle-aged woman who meandered into tornado winds. And since you can only fit one child in your 2-seater at a time, the school pickup lane is going to take all afternoon. You’ll have to go through it three times to collect all your kids and backpacks. A+ in time management for you!

Guns For Show This last one truly took me by surprise – with my hands up in surrender! The charming paralegal across the office could be packing heat and she isn’t afraid to whip it out. These mid lifers share photos of them at the shooting range, and framed shooting range targets can be found decorating many dining rooms across the country. When they said, “I love Target!” I really thought they were into the 5-percent sales with every REDcard purchase.

So lately all of these observations have made me feel a little off – like my midlife choices are as exciting as watching paint dry. However, is noticing these differences the precursor to behavioral changes? Next summer I could step outside my comfort zone and paint my toenails crimson to match a designer purse while touring around Italian wine country in a smoking, hot red Carmen Ghia.

That reminds me…I need to swing by Target before picking up the kids. There’s a REDcard sale on Goldfish crackers.

Join me for fun on the Nurse Mommy Laughs Facebook page or Twitter.


Road trip leads to marital tension



roadtrip anxiety

A Hiccup in Relaxing Getaway leads to Road Trip Anxiety


They always start off fun. You finally have the car packed, there’s no more arguing about leaving on time, gas tank is full, and you no longer have to avoid promising your poor, poor under-sugared children that you’ve stuffed enough Red Dye 40 food products in the van to make the trip interesting.

When I was a child, road trips occurred regularly since my grandparents lived five hours away in St. Louis. This was before we had Game Boys, Kindles, DVDs and tablets filled with mind-numbing games. We actually had things called books, and boxes of crayons to color on our Big Chief writing tablets. We also had a game called, “Who can sing all of the songs from the musical ‘Oklahoma’ 50 times?”

Our last family trip to Gulf Shores, Ala., was a lengthy affair; but traveling with our kids wasn’t unpleasant. We had the Disney DVD babysitter, which kept the girls from bickering or whining. It was a travel win.

So last week when my dear actor friend from my past life told me his touring show was coming to St. Louis, I grabbed some tickets, my husband, a babysitter and quietly prayed my hilarious friend wouldn’t share too many stories of me from my young and stupid days.

Since I had driven this trip numerous times and knew the way there like the back of my hand, I thought this would be a nice time for my husband and I to catch up. So we ironically headed east for our “Gateway to the West” trip and bonded for hours.

Our weekend was fabulous! The show was charming, and our time with my buddy was full of laughs. After wishing him safe travels, we hopped back on the interstate in the correct direction according to history books, with plans to breeze home in four hours.

Then the ammonia hit the fan — or the highway. One hour into our return trip a farmer decided to accidentally release two 1,000-gallon tanks of ammonia onto our path. Normally, I can easily forgive an accident, but Mama Bear had to pick her cubs up by 6 p.m. You don’t mess with Mama at dinnertime when it involves her children.

To avoid the toxic fumes and three-hour stall time, we were forced to pull out our phones, so I could compare multiple map apps and find an alternate route. Did I mention that I am a wiz with a map, but phone map apps are the bane of my existence?

Since we weren’t going to make our ETA, I was forced to find a willing and able neighbor to foist my daughters onto, while feebly manning two pathetic phone maps.

I won’t go into detail, but my husband, who doesn’t have two angry bones in his body, managed to locate one of them since I wasn’t doing my job effectively. He was right. But you can only push a theater major so far in cartography.

After stopping in “Mayberry U.S.A.,” we entered a grocery to find a map. Instead I found a mailman, while mumbling how there are no maps made of paper anymore.

Assuming postmen would be familiar with local back roads, my plan was to avoid 60 miles of gridlock traffic, and our potential untimely demise via toxic fumes. This baffled my husband because 1) I stopped to ask for help, and 2) the roads Mr. Postman recommended didn’t exist on our phone maps.

I can’t tell you exactly how far off the beaten trail we drove, but it added an extra hour and a half, and took our blood pressure to new highs. The back roads of Missouri wine country were lovely and could have been relaxing if we had the time.

It would have been better if we had had the energy to stop and buy a bottle of their wine to open at home.

Because nothing pairs better with road trip mania than a rousing chorus of “Oklahoma!”

(previously printed in The Kansas City Star on Saturday, April 25, 2015)





Mom Gets a Makeover and the Kids Go Wild


I’ve been noticing my Munchkins (ages 7 and 8) commenting on my attire. I don’t know why they are just now paying attention to what I’m wearing because with the exceptions of wedding, funerals, and disco parties, literally I have been wearing the same outfit since 2005.

“I know this, how?” you ask. “After all, you are aging and blonde…”

Yes, that’s an astute observation, but my daughters are obsessed with watching home videos of themselves as babies. It was cute at first. There was a lot of “oohing” and “ahhing” the first 50 times we watched them; but I must confess, I never thought I would tire of watching my love-buckets on the screen.


So back to my killer wardrobe: it consists of black (no other color) yoga pants, and a v-neck t-shirt in a rainbow of colors! A little splash of color never hurt anybody, right?! Then I top it off with running shoes which mock me daily because running is never performed in this footwear. Truth is, when I run I am barefoot, on the beach and sound asleep.

I also should mention, depending on the season, I add a zippered sports jacket with pockets to keep the chill off during the day especially when I keep the thermostat brisk while the kids are at school. I’d hate to have a hot flash and not be able to remove a layer! Plus, you need those pockets for you cell and a handful of Chex Party Mix.


chexpartymix(photo by Chex Party Mix)

Last weekend Munchkin #2 decided I needed a makeover.

“I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but Mom, you need a makeover,” she barfed out like I didn’t have an insecure bone in my body.

Don’t you love it when people say, “I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but…” and then finish with a hurtful comment, thinking it’s OK because they said they didn’t want to hurt you? If she weren’t my daughter, I would have kicked her in the knees.

We need to work on that lesson a little more, my child.

Unbeknownst to my hubby and me, M2 decided I needed a “date night with my husband.” Don’t you worry your pretty head because I’m almost positive she wasn’t saying I looked like I needed to “get me some.” I am looking forward to her teen years when her sassiness will go overboard and be horribly inappropriate.

Her plan was to get me fixed up for my big imaginary date. What harm could be done? My husband and other daughter were out for a few hours so she could perform her creative magic. She has been dabbling in stage makeup in some of her acting classes and wanted to practice her skills on her mother. How cute, right?

She sat me down in the bathroom and pulled out my makeup, and carefully applied my makeup.

Then it was time for the hair. I didn’t want to judge, but sheesh! How many products could this child use on my head? I didn’t want to impede her progress, so I sat there trying not to laugh or wince.

Munchkin #2 then went into my closet and found a dress she thought would be perfect for my date. She instructed me to put it on while she was going to make her parents something special to eat in the kitchen.

That should have been my red flag.

Half a pound of sugar, cake sprinkles, water and 2 large packets of lemonade, she had our diabetic sludge cocktails ready. Really, a box of wine and a straw could have sufficed, but I didn’t want to disappoint.

The garage door grumbled and I could hear my other daughter and husband talking as they entered the house. I sat primed and ready for my hot date to view his new beauty.

“Come into the living room, Darling! Your youngest has given me a makeover!” I gleefully announced.

“What happened to you?” asked my hubby.

“I got a new style!” I said giving him my sexiest pose.

As my PeePaw used to say, "Get a stick and kill it!"

As my PeePaw used to say, “Get a stick and kill it!”

“Well, give it back!” he said walking into the next room.

After ten years of marriage, I’m proud to say we still got it! And the great thing is…when questioned on my look – hubby wants me back in my old uniform.

Yoga pants it is!!

(previously posted on NML in October 2013)

Do your kids do this crazy stuff to you? What’s the weirdest costume or look they have done to you?


Rebooting my Brain is first on Spring Cleaning List


Rebooting my Brain Necessary for Busy Parents

In my youth I had no problem remembering things. I knew every day after recess I could get a drink of water right after the class trip to the bathroom. Studying for tests was easy, I knew every kids name in my class, and in 0.23 seconds I could spout out which Girl Scout cookie was my favorite.

Yet over the years, my timing and efficiency have been going downhill. The expressions Momnesia, aging mind, or killed-too-many-brain-cells-in-college are definitely part of the equation. But I think there’s more to it.

As an adult who substantially changed her career three times, I know my mind is full. My brain was first filled with lines from play scripts and musicals, words to every song I performed, and important people and works of art in the entertainment industry.

Then I went to nursing school. Let me tell you, by the second semester my brain was at full capacity. Something had to give. Memorizing every part of the human body and understanding the mechanics of it was enough for a young, fresh brain to handle. But I was neither young, and was lacking in the fresh brain cell department.

Now that I’ve been working as a writer for the past six years, I’m maxed out. I can make it to the coffee pot in the morning, but I rarely call my own children by their right names, and never know what’s on the family calendar for the day.

According to a study, that I don’t have the brainpower or energy to understand, we supposedly use only 10% of our brains. But whoever is the senior level person in my division, I’m begging for the access code to unlock the other 90, so that one day I won’t be searching for another word for “sea monkey” and implode upon my laptop.

So sad about that writer gal. I heard she was struggling for another word for brine shrimp and the next thing you know, her head fell off!

The human body can easily be compared to a computer. The heart is the motherboard, your nervous system is the power source with pathways delivering energy, the liver is your trashcan or a dumping ground for waste, and the outbox is…well, you get it.

The brain, however, is comparable to the Central Processing Unit (CPU) of a computer. It controls everything regarding long-term memory. Once this is full, your computer becomes slow, sluggish or freezes. Sound familiar?

Try to add another drop of water into a fully soaked sponge. It’s not going to happen. Once it’s maxed out, no more new information can enter.

So do we buy another memory card? Do we need to re-boot to shock our brains back into tiptop shape? Or do we need to go through our files and delete the unimportant stuff?

I would personally like to delete some memories from my head, but unfortunately I don’t have the control to pick and choose what sticks in there or is thrown into the trashcan.

So now I’m a Hoarder of thoughts and facts. Always trying to save more information than I am accessed to hold. I need a good spring-cleaning to free up some room and hang an air freshener to get rid of the bad stuff.

I would like to pitch a reality television show, based on TLC’s Clean Sweep program. Psychologists would be there to help folks move the excess information in their brains, into piles of “trash it,” “sell it,” or “blog about it.” Maybe by doing a deep clean of our memory banks, we could have the freedom to start over with a fresh outlook on life.

And please don’t ask me to write the script for this show. I’ll have to delegate this one out.

I’m already booked solid.

 Do you have any tricks to keeping your brain feeling fresh? What rejuvenates you mentally?