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Children’s Theatre is for Kids?

When I was a young child, often I would attend a fabulous production of the Seem-to-be-Players, directed and created by Ric Averill. I have such fond memories of watching these shows on Saturday mornings, and I was always sitting on the floor, hoping to be picked to go up on stage to partake in whatever theater game they were doing.

I think I might have attended every show that company created. It was the highlight of my youth and I’m so thankful for that experience. I’m sure it had a great deal to do with my appreciation of the arts.

A few years ago, I found a picture in the archives of The Journal World newspaper in Lawrence, KS – my hometown. In that photo, Ric was talking to the kids; and right in the front of the audience are my husband and me.


The two of us didn’t know each other back then, but after looking at the photo discovered we had both loved those Saturday morning performances.

Much later in life, one of the countless times I dropped out of college to work professionally in theater, I joined a children’s theater touring group.

A troupe of actors drove around in a big blue van with 1980s velour seats and stiff seat belts, which cut you hard in the carotid at every stop.

I can’t remember if we were paid in food stamps, or if we got freebie food scraps from the elementary schools where we performed; but we were almost famous. This gig was so fancy; we were steps from having our own named-star dedication in the town square behind the Denny’s.

It was the big league, people!

Traveling around the Midwest, we performed our musical show for thousands of elementary school-aged kids sitting criss-cross-applesauce in their gymnasiums, which always smelled of wet dog and soy taco meat.

But even though this production wasn’t one of my most impressive lines on my resume, I have glorious memories of the children’s laughter. Each day this sound warmed our hearts, making the experience worthwhile.

Afterwards, I never considered joining a children’s company where I would be stationed in one city or theater to perform repertory shows for the community, but I can appreciate a good cast of actors who know how to reach children.

Theatre for Young America in Kansas City is performing “Junie B. Jones and a Little Monkey Business” right now through April 12, 2014 on the H&R Block City Stage at Union Station.

If you’ve ever read the Junie B. Jones books, you know they’re a delight in their own right. But matched with this silly cast and unique director’s choices, the sold-out audience giggled, tittered and roared at the appropriate times. And the parents and educators appeared to enjoy the production as much as the kids. Bonus!!

So if you are Spring Breaking it, or stay-cationing here in the Kansas City area and are looking for something to do with the kids, give the theater a call to reserve some seats. They have several shows on most days, so hopefully you will be able to see it.

Afterwards, the kids get to go up and meet the actors, ask them questions and take photos. I’m so glad that I’m able to take my munchkins to shows similar to what I experienced as a child. I know they loved it and hopefully they will have the same fond memories of it as I did.

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Happy Spring Break! Or Do You Have a Car Barfer?

The other day my friend and I were discussing how we dreaded traveling with kids and it wasn’t for the reasons most parents have:

“She crossed over the line and her finger is on my side!!”

“Bobby took my headphones!”

“Mom, Sarah won’t stop staring at me!”

Oh, no, we both had the dreaded Car Barfer.

After discussing this malady by the snack table at church, regarding traveling with kids on Spring Break, and then even mentioning it on Kansas City Live! – KSHB-TV, I realized that after I fought this “uphill” battle for 7 years, I could be considered an expert.

And because of that, I felt it was my public duty to share my tricks and secrets.

When my daughter, Munchkin #1 was a baby, she immediately became what they call in some glamorous social circles, a projectile puker. The girl could hurl it to the third seat area of the van if she produced a good arc.

The hubby and I prayed that she would grow out of this attractive behavior, for she wouldn’t win any popularity contests if this continued.

In fact, we couldn’t go anywhere in the van over 15 minutes without the upchuck routine. This was awful since the grandparents lived 30 minutes away and people frown on covering infants in Saran Wrap or attaching feedbags.

So after many urping episodes, and tempts of fate thinking she could make it 16 minutes, 17 minutes, we tried everything we could think of to make our darling child, feel better, keep unsoiled and not smell like the ladies room on 50 cent beer draw night.

Here are my tips for keeping you and your child happy and considering getting back on the road again:


Younger children cannot take any medication to settle their stomachs, so you have to just suffer through. When your pediatrician says that Benadryl is OK for your child, that can be a blessing for some; but you need to be careful and know the exact dose and realize it will knock your child out. Plus, don’t give it without their permission.

Dramamine is for kids over 2 years of age, according to the packaging. There are chewables, but they are hard to find. And if you try to get your kid to swallow Dramamine in pill form, and they have not developed that skill yet, they taste awful just sitting on the tongue, so it will be near impossible getting another one in your kids mouth ever again.

However, Dramamine is a blessing from God!! I remember thinking that my daughter would never turn two so that we could use the magic potion of the road.

Clean-up Supplies:

1. In addition to medication, you need to have your vehicle stocked sufficiently. A little package of tissues you carry in your purse is not going to cut it with one of these kids. You need a jumbo box of baby wipes and periodically check to make sure they remain damp. Nothing worse than reaching in for a cleanup job and find dry wipes! Not only do the wipes work well to essentially bathe your child in the car, but also they can clean upholstery, carpeting and the seat belts quite effectively. These are a MUST! My kids are 7 and 8 and I still keep a box in the car just for spills and accidents.

2. At first I asked every person who traveled to bring me back vomit bags from the airlines. I had about 20 of those in the back pocket of the driver’s seat. But you will quickly learn that those are 1) not airtight 2) not leakproof and 3) have a small opening, which proves to be a poor target for the barfer. Ziploc Freezer Bags with the strong zipper seal are the answer. Aim, shoot, and zip! Toss and you are back on the road. I actually kept an entire jumbo box of those in the car with the wipes.

3. The last thing you want are kitchen trash bags. Many times I stood on the side of the highway with my toddler stripped down to her diaper and I was tempted to just dump her clothes right there. If you have a big bag for clothes or the liner of the car seat, you can close those up tight and toss them in the trunk.

I know this is not a glamorous post, but hopefully this information can save at least one family some headaches. The good thing is usually by the time your car sick child is a teenager, she can sit in the front and look out the front window, reducing or possibly alleviating the nausea.

Growing up a carsick child, I understand this firsthand. I didn’t get rid of my carsickness until my twenties, when I spent two months traveling on a double decker bus with a theater tour.

But that wild and bumpy tale is for another time!

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I Just Want to be Alone Cover2

Introducing my Co-Authors and e-BFFs

When you work in the blogging, writing industry your days can be quiet and sometimes lonely, especially if I’m not answering my questions. So over the years I have come to build working relationships with other writers/humorists at first to learn from them, but now some of these people are my e-BFFs.

In fact, last year when Jen from People I Want to Punch in the Throat published the book, “I Just Want to Pee Alone,” the 35 co-writers formed a group on Facebook where we could discuss the book and everything that went along with the process.

I can honestly say, these women have become some of my favorite people I have never met in my life. How weird is that sentence? They make me laugh more every day than any group I’ve ever met…except for you gals. (You know who you are)

So when many of these women were asked to be in the second book, I was thrilled to have another year full of crazy laughs, spitting diet coke on my keyboard, and yes, on a rare occasion…the group pee.

Since I am a sharing type of person, I thought I would introduce you to some of these wacky gals in the form of an interview. I hope you love them as much as I do – and if you do, go buy our second book, “I Just Want to BE Alone.” (this time we are attacking sharing the men in our lives)

**WARNING: do not drink hot beverages, but be sure to relieve your bladder when reading past this point.

Q: How did you come up with the name of your blog?
▪ I needed a blog name that was not only funny but also gave me leeway with representing the truth. Hence, “Ironic Mom” was born. “Moronic Mom” was a close second. — Leanne Shirtliffe, Ironic Mom
▪ I’d like to say I named my blog “Hollow Tree Ventures” for some well-thought-out, intelligent reason, but really it’s because I didn’t know what a blog was at the time. — Robyn, Hollow Tree Ventures
▪ I didn’t. The Hubs did. I said I wanted to start a blog and I was going to call it something like Jen’s Musings or Just Jen and the Hubs said those were terrible names. He said, “You’re always saying you want to punch so and so in the throat. That should be name of your blog and then you can rant about anything you want.” – Jen – People I Want to Punch in the Throat

Q: What is your biggest daily accomplishment?
▪ Brushing my teeth before noon. No, I’m not kidding. –Stephanie, When Crazy Meets Exhaustion
▪ Keeping track of the milk cap, avoidance of stepping on Legos and getting to the mailbox before the Hubby does all tie for number one. -Christine, Keeper of The Fruit Loops
▪ Managing to not crack open the bottle before wine o’clock….in some timezone. – Lynn, The Nomad Mom Diary
▪ If I have the foresight to put something in the crockpot in the morning, I giggle spontaneously at how smart and organized I am for the rest of the day. That didn’t happen today. -Bethany Meyer, I Love Them the Most When They’re Sleeping

Q: When was the last time you cried?
▪ When my son bit my butt 3 days ago. – Deva Dalporto, My LifeSuckers
▪ A few days ago, when my toddler told me she really, really, REALLY loves me. I got all misty, then she asked me what “I love you” means. — Robyn,
▪ At “The Lego Movie.” Shut up, you don’t know my life. – Nicole Leigh Shaw, Ninja Mom Blog
▪ I spilled milk the other day. Ellen, Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms
▪ Angry mother bears do not cry. Next question? – Magnolia Ripkin

Q: What’s the best gift you’ve given? Received?
▪ Does birth control count as a gift? — Leanne Shirtliffe,
▪ The best gift I ever got was earrings from my husband – because they were the super cheap ones, proving that he listened when I said I’d smother him in his sleep if he spent a bunch of money. — Robyn,
▪ I’m not sure about the best gift I have given, but every year at Christmas instead of getting our kids a gift, my sister in law has them all over for a movie night/campout/sleepover. And that is pretty amazing for me…I mean, them. Katie- Somewhat Sane Mom

Q: What do you think about when you are alone in your car?
▪ What’s this you speak of? Alone in the car??? – Deva Dalporto, MyLifeSuckers
▪ I finish arguments with more witty comebacks than I did in real life. – Rebecca Frugalista Blog
▪ NOT IN THIS ORDER: Gotta get to work, gotta grab groceries, gotta be at the school by 3, gotta get to the laundromat, gotta mail the bills, gotta go, gotta go…NEED COFFEEEE. – Andrea C., The Underachievers Guide to Being a Domestic Goddess
▪ Generally I think about what I need to do, bills I have to pay, blog ideas, and then I snap out of it and think, “WHY THE HELL AM I STILL LISTENING TO THIS TAYLOR SWIFT CD????” -Katie, Somewhat Sane Mom
▪ I revisit conversations I’ve had and craft better responses. -Amy Flory, Funny Is Family

Q: Which character from Friends would you do and why?
▪ I don’t remember the 1990s. — Leanne Shirtliffe,
▪ Joey. He’s hot and he’d be too dumb to notice my stretch marks. – Deva Dalporto, MyLifeSuckers
▪ Chandler, because I always go for the nerdy ones who do some job no one else can explain. – Lynn, The Nomad Mom Diary
▪ Mike Crapbag. You know, Phoebe’s boyfriend played by Paul Rudd. – Amy Flory,

Q: What three things can’t you live without?
▪ Advil, my laptop, a bathtub — Michelle Newman, You’re my favorite today.
▪ The show Nashville (shut up), my t shirt material pajamas from Nordstrom and Carmex. Because chapped lips should be illegal. Christine, Keeper of The Fruit Loops
▪ Every fricken pair of heels I own, my electronics and my wine box… yes it is a box, piss off. – Magnolia Ripkin
▪ Sweat pants, diet soda and Bengay-Kristen, Life On Peanut Layne

Q: What’s the biggest thing you’ve ever lost?
▪ My sanity. — Leanne Shirtliffe,
▪ My virginity. – Deva Dalporto, My LifeSuckers
▪ My tonsils. Though, I think it’s fair to say my mother lost them.- Nicole Leigh Shaw,
▪ My big, spectacular breasts. Thanks, kids! – Kim Bongiorno, Let Me Start By Saying
▪ My ability to hold my bladder while jumping on a trampoline. –Rebecca, Frugalista Blog
▪ My dignity – when delivering my children. Andrea C. DG
▪ My verbal filter. I’m working on that one. -Abby, Abby Has Issues

Q: Who/What scares you?
▪ Professional adults who use words like “cray cray” and “adorbs” in conversation, people with clipboards, unemployment, sneezing while driving and the thought of an avocado, asparagus or hummus shortage. Also death and toast when it pops up, no matter how prepared that I think I am (for the toast, not for death.) –Abby Heugel, Abby Has Issues
▪ Toilets that flush backwards, Zack Galfiinakis’ beard, and a tampon I’ve left in too long. TMI? Christine, Keeper of the Fruit Loops
▪ Kardashians – Michelle, You’re my favorite today.
▪ Canned mushrooms. (I just screamed and hid under my desk after writing that) – Kim Bongiorno, Let Me Start By Saying

Q: What was the last good deed you did?
▪ I offered to pay for a woman’s prescription Not because I’m a good person, but because she was holding up the line because her card kept getting declined and I needed to get home. – Deva Dalporto, My LifeSuckers
▪ I refrained from killing the cat when he threw up on the stairs this morning – again. — Robyn,
▪ Poured myself a glass of wine. – Michelle, You’re my favorite today.
▪ I’m watching a friend’s kid right now. Kind of. – Amy Flory,

Q: What do you think of Garden Gnomes?
▪ Overrated if you have a garden. Underrated if you don’t. — Leanne Shirtliffe,
▪ Why? What have you heard? –Ellen Williams, Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms
▪ Hilarious, mostly because my mom hates them so naturally I give her one for every gift-giving occasion and she feels obligated to put them in her yard. Joke’s on me, though – she lives next door now. — Robyn,
▪ It’s seems unfair that they have a more exotic travel plan than I do. – Nicole Leigh Shaw,
▪ I like them only when they are paired with little fountains of cherubs peeing. Rebecca Frugailsta Blog
▪ I don’t. Andrea C., DG

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Hey, Nurse! That is NOT a Smudge

I grew up attending church almost every Sunday. My mother was raised Lutheran and my father had not gone to church as a child; therefore, the compromise was that my brother and I would attend a church which would have an interesting “speaker” pastor and great music. This way, Mom was happy we were getting churched, and Dad wouldn’t be bored.

Immediately, when we started going on a regular basis, my mother placed me in the choir. I was in third grade. I’m not sure if I could carry a tune at that age, or if my mom just thought it was the right thing to do – but that was to be my thing. Stacey = choir girl.

Choir was the special place where I met all of my friends. Actually, some of them I even sang with all the way through high school. Church choir was where I learned how to sing, that I could sing a LOT louder than most other kids, and was an excellent place to mess around.

So each Sunday, after learning the music – which took me no time – I flipped into class clown mode. Several other friends, who were hilarious, kept each other giggling incessantly every Sunday.

This unfortunately crossed over into Sunday school. I clearly remember Sunday school teachers barking at me to quit messing around and pay attention, but that just made me laugh more. I was a real pain in the butt, and to those who attempted to teach me anything about religion, thank you and I’m terribly sorry I was so rude. But on the other hand, I did polish my comedy skills.

With that said, I learned almost nothing about the bible in 8 years of attending church. I’m not really exaggerating. OK, I did learn every hymn and religious choral arrangement for children and adults – so it wasn’t a total waste of time.

When I became an adult, and moved to a bigger city; I tried to broaden my horizons. However, it wasn’t until after a few pitfalls.

One day when I was working as a pediatric nurse, a child came into the clinic with his mother. Out of habit, I always looked at the child first and addressed them, so as to form a bond and to gain their trust. This time, I didn’t even look up at the parent before my maternal nature took over.

As I leaned into the child, I said, “You have a little smudge on your forehead.” My arm was going to brush back the kid’s hair to show the dirt spot to the mother, when she yelled, “It’s Ash Wednesday!”

All I heard was “Wednesday,” but was so startled that the woman had yelled at me for trying to clean her dirty little kid. Now I’m embarrassed I didn’t know what Ash Wednesday was. Guess I might have listened just a bit in Sunday school, but it was too late for that.

I said, “Yes, Wednesday. He has some dirt on his…”

Then she grabbed her child, to protect him from the heathen nurse with the tissue. She was obviously more frustrated than I was, and I was getting pretty ticked by how ridiculous she was acting over a muddy forehead.

The mother noticed I wasn’t catching on, so she spoke to me as if I were deaf, “YOU KNOW…IT’S LENT.”

I answered calmly and quietly, “No, it’s just a smudge of dirt or something – not lint.”

Well, you can imagine the frustration of this woman. She wiped the back of her hand across her forehead to brush aside her bangs, and that is when I saw the matching smudge. The mother’s, however, was clearly in the shape of a cross.

Ah, Schmidt!!!!

I felt all of the blood in my body surge from the bottom half to my neck and then my face. I was too young to be having a hot flash, but I wasn’t certain I wasn’t dying.

I’m not sure how I managed to escape the room, but I do know that I traded with another nurse to take that patient. I was too mortified to face that family again.

After that episode, I began to learn more about all religions. As a nurse, I wanted to be prepared to understand and respect all people’s beliefs. No more wiping off of blessed ashes.

So for those of you who don’t celebrate Lent; hopefully, you can learn from my mistake. Also, here’s a tip for you: there are going to be a lot of cranky drivers on the roads over the next month – people who have given up chocolate and/or wine for Lent.

So we better be extra kind on the roads…you never know who’s in the car next to you.
God bless us every one!

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