Mama Diaries

Monday, February 25, 2013

Finding Mama's Mind

In my last post, my eight-year-old son said I was losing my mind.  Well, I guess I've lost it, because my husband has initiated a "Find Mama's Mind Fund."

Here's how it works:  Anytime anyone talks about Schultz (our German Shepherd), that person has to pay a dollar toward the "Find Mama's Mind Fund."  (Apparently my husband is sick and tired of my kids talking about Schultz all the time!)

Once enough funds are accumulated, an intergalactic search will begin.  My husband thinks my mind is plastered under a giant asteroid that's zooming around in outer space.  My kids think it fell into a giant moon crater.  Where do you think it is?

(Oh, and if you want to contribute, feel free to stop by the wishing well my kids dug in my backyard and throw in some coins!)

Now here's the other thing for today.  I'm a little early on this, but I'll be at a string teacher conference this week, which means I'll be unplugged for a little while.    

M. Pax, Suze, and Nicki Elson have teamed up to create this really cool blog hop.  Here's the scoop: 
You're up before dawn on a Saturday when the doorbell rings. You haven't brewed your coffee so you wonder if you imagined the sound. Plonking the half-filled carafe in the sink, you go to the front door and cautiously swing it open. No one there. As you cast your eyes to the ground, you see a parcel addressed to you ... from you.
You scoop it up and haul it inside, sensing something legitimate despite the extreme oddness of the situation. Carefully, you pry it open. Inside is a shoebox -- sent from ten years in the future -- and it's filled with items you have sent yourself.

What's in it?
Well, where do I begin?  I guess first, I'd have a few copies of the books from the current chapter book series I'm working on, just to prove that I actually did get a publisher for them!  Then I'd throw in my son's high school diploma to show that all of my tiger mom antics for getting him to do his homework have paid off.  And then I'd throw in my mind, because, as you've read, it's missing, and I'd sure like to know what I did with it!
See you when I get back!    

Saturday, February 23, 2013


"Mama," my eight-year-old son said.  "Everybody in this family seems to have a problem."

I tried not to laugh.  "Oh yeah, Bubba?  What kind of problems?"

"Schultz (our German Shepherd) is always dirty."

I nodded.  "Can't argue with that!"

"My sister is a drama queen."


"Daddy doesn't have time to walk Schultz.  And I'm always hungry."

"What's my problem?" I asked.

"You're losing your mind!"



Friday, February 22, 2013

Mixed Drinks and Carbon Dioxide Man

My kids must've been in a science mood yesterday.  It all started with a trip to Subway.

"Can we get fountain drinks?" they asked. 

I wasn't in much of a mood to insist that they drink milk, so I let them have a special treat.

"Guess what I got?" my daughter asked.


"Half Sprite, half rootbeer."

I couldn't believe it.  "Seriously?"

"Yeah, Mom, it's good."

"Guess what I got?" my son asked.

I couldn't wait to hear this.  "What?"

"Half diet coke, half rootbeer."

It made me sick just thinking about it.  "Is it good?" I asked.


Okay, then.

When we got home, the experimentation continued.  "Mom, I need a ziploc bag, baking soda, and vinegar," my daughter said.

"What for?" I asked.

"I'm going to make a carbon dioxide man."

That sounded interesting, so I gave her the supplies.  Here's what she came up with:

Isn't he cute?  Unfortunately, he didn't have a long life.  My daughter took him outside and fed his carbon dioxide to the trees.  RIP Carbon Dioxide Man!


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Doggy Play Date

There was lots of excitement at my place today.  I was doing research for my next book, when I heard a major raucous outside. It was the sound of dogs barking - and it sounded like an army of them.  I got up to see what the problem was.

I saw Schultz, our German Shepherd...and a big white Husky.  It was the cat-killing dog from next door. (If you weren't around for that post, the Husky had snuck into my yard and killed a hapless cat that had wandered in.)

Schultz looked like he was playing a little rough with the Husky, so I figured I needed to step in immediately, if not sooner.  I put on my jacket and went outside.

The Husky galloped over to me, and Schultz went ballistic.  It was full guard dog mode!  The hair  on his back stood up and he barred his teeth at the white mutt.  Uh oh, I thought. 

"Schultz, in the house!" I called, and quickly led him inside.

Fortunately, he listened and didn't fillet the Husky! (The Husky is a large 70 pound animal, but Schultz is even bigger at 100 pounds.  I don't think it would've gone well for either dog!)

After Schultz was safely put away and calmed down, I called my neighbor.  No answer.  I figured I'd try to leash the Husky and get him back in his own yard.  I went outside to deal with the white mutt.  He ran up to me, but took off when he saw the leash.  I knew I'd have to outsmart him.  I walked over to the fence where he had pushed through the wire and gotten in.  I bent it back, pretending to ignore him.  Of course he was curious, so he came over.  Then I leashed him.  (See, now I can tell my daughter that I'm smarter than a dog!)

I took him over to his yard and tried to open the gate.  It was locked, and there was no way I was going to get in.  I walked up to the door and rang the doorbell.  The cleaning lady answered.

"Hi," I said.  "I had  a little visitor!"

Boy, was she surprised!

Now I have to go fix a fence.  Wish me luck, because I don't want anymore doggy playdates like that!


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

How We Fall Asleep

Last night, I had a rather interesting conversation with my eleven-year-old daughter.  "Mom," said.  "Did you know that boys and girls fall asleep differently?"

That piqued my interest. "How so?"

"Boys just lay down and fall asleep.  Girls do all kinds of other things."

"Like what?" I asked.

"Well, first of all, when they hear a creak sound, they have to look under their bed to see if any monsters are under there."

I laughed.  "Okay, so what do you do if you find a monster?"

"Mom, monsters aren't real."

"Then why do you look?"

"It's just what girls do."


"Is there anything else girls do that you want to tell me about?" I asked. 

"Girls have to fix their hair, and make sure their stuffed animals are all in place.  And then they have to make sure their iPods are okay, and then if they hear another noise, they have to go to the window to make sure it's not a burglar."

"A burglar?" I asked.

"Yeah.  You never know when a burglar might show up.   And girls stay at the window for a half hour, just to  make sure it's not one of those."

"And then you fall asleep?" I asked.

"Yep - but only after I read a boring book.  Isn't that what you do, Mom?"

"Um, no.  I just lay down and fall asleep."

"Mom, you're weird!"


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Mama is Grounded!

The cohabitants at my house were driving me crazy yesterday.  My husband was teasing me relentlessly, my kids were utterly obnoxious, and the dog - well, he came in with a frozen piece of poo in his mouth and deposited it in front of his crate.  Then he vomitted.

"You guys are barbarians!" I said, utterly exasperated.

"Mama is blowing fire out of her nostrils," said my husband.

"Yeah, and smoke out of her ears," said my son.

The dog just looked at me and started licking up his vomit.

I shook my head. 

The man continued.  "Woman, I am going to ground you."

"What are you talking about?" I said, getting even madder.  "You can't ground me!  I'm not a kid!"

"You're grounded!"

"Fine.  But I'm taking my violin up to my room with me."

So my violin and I were grounded for two hours.  But at least I got some good practice time in!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Mister Picasso

Before I start my story, I'd just like to say that pizza is a good invention!  The kids have been out of school since Friday, and they've had friends over for sleepovers and playdates almost every day.  It's been a little chaotic!

Anyway, yesterday, I took my boy to the pottery store to do some painting.  "What should I paint, Mama?" he asked.

"I don't know, Bubba.  How about this frog?"

"No. I want something I can use."

"A cup?" I suggested.

He thought about it.  "No.  I think I'll paint a tea pot."

"A tea pot?" I asked.  "What are you going to do with a tea pot?"

"Drink my tea out of it."

"Dude," I said.  "Since when do you drink tea?"

"Since Christmas when Santa gave me some in my stocking."

Huh?  I didn't recall Santa leaving any tea for anyone.

Nevertheless, I let him select a tea pot while I selected a couple of wine bottle stoppers to paint.  We went to work.

A short while later, I looked at Bubba's tea pot.  It was covered in pink paint with brown splotches dripping off the side.  (He's colorblind, so I'm sure he thought the pink color was blue.)

"This is a nightmare!" he said.

Everyone cracked up who was sitting next to us.

"But I'm an artist," he said.  "And this is part of my artistic expression!"   

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Neglectful Mama

"Woman!" my husband yelled.  "We have no food in this house!"

I looked at that guy.  "We have food.  Look.  Cereal, soup, fruit, milk, cookies, chocolate, and ice cream."

He looked at me.  "Maybe you can live on a diet of cereal and ice cream, but I need meat!  Stop your blogging and go to the store.  You are neglecting us!"

"Okay, wait a minute," I said.  "First of all, I'm not just blogging.  I'm writing a book, and I'm on the last chapter.  I want to finish it.  Second, aren't you a guy?  Guys are supposed to be hunters.  If you want meat, go hunt for some!"

He didn't like that.  "You don't care if we starve!  We're going to die, and you're just going to keep blogging."

I walked over to the cupboard and pulled out the box of cereal.  I shook it.  It was half full.  "Okay," I said.  "I'll go to the store, but only because we need more cereal!"

Friday, February 15, 2013

Belly Button Research

My daughter had to do a presentation on sea turtles for school.

"Mom," she said.  "Come and see my power point slide show."

I stood behind her and watched.  It was really good.  But on one of the screens, it said that turtles had belly buttons.  "Are you sure about that?" I asked.

"Yeah, mom, look!"  She pointed at a little spot on the underside of a baby sea turtle's shell.

"But sea turtles don't have umbilical cords like mammals," I said.

"Yes, they do," she retorted.

"You'd better do a little research on that," I said.

She googled, "Do turtles have belly buttons?"

The answer was, "no."

"See, I told you," I said.

She wouldn't take "no" for an answer.  "Chickens have belly buttons!"  She pulled up a screen of an embryo in an egg, and it looked like it was attached to the yolk via a belly button.  "Turtles are the same!"

Long story short, after additional research we have concluded that turtles really do have belly buttons.  Looks like Mama was wrong again.  Apparently my daughter knows more than me!  

Turtle Belly Button!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Feeling the Love

Happy Valentine's Day!

I just came back from my son's school Valentine party.  I knew it was going to be crazy when I stepped out of my car and a bunch of kids on the playground yelled, "Hi, Mrs. Ellis!"

My job at the party was to help the kids make frames for their cute little Valentine pictures.  They were supposed to decorate the frames with stickers.  But they were more interested in decorating me.  A bunch of little boys attached heart stickers to my nose, my forehead, and my cheeks.

"We love you, Mrs. Ellis!" they said.

Then there was my boy.  He was like cling wrap.   "Mama, I want to hug and kiss you!"

"Fine.  One hug.  One kiss," I said.

But that didn't seem to be enough. 

"Can I come home with you?"  he asked.

I guess he loves me!

Here's another funny story:  My husband had given me a Valentine's Day card.  It was really sweet.  I set it down next to the flowers and went about my business. 

My son picked it up and started reading.  "Daddy says you're cute, and smart, and..."

He stopped with a big grin on his face.  "I'm not allowed to say this word, but Daddy says you're the "S" word!"  


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Schultz's New Trick

"Mom," my eleven-year-old daughter said. "We have to teach Schultz (our German Shepherd) how to drive a car."

"What?"  I asked.  I wondered where this came from.

"Schultz is almost 16 years old," she explained.

"He's two and a half," I said.

"Yeah, that's equivalent to 16 in human years. It's time for him to learn how to drive!"

I shook my head.  "That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard! He's a dog.  And dogs don't drive cars!"

"Wrong, Mom!  It's on Youtube!"

She dragged me to the computer and showed me a video:

Seriously?  So now, I not only have to worry about teaching my kids to drive, I have to worry about teaching the dog!  Oy!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Wishing Well

Yesterday in Cincinnati, it was a balmy 60 degrees.  (Sorry for all of you folks in the Northeast who got pounded by the snow!)  The neighborhood kids were outside - in my backyard - with picks and shovels.  

I  looked out my window and watched them dig a hole in the middle of my yard while Schultz supervised.  What the heck are those kids up to? I thought.

I had to find out.

"Excuse me," I said.  "What are you guys doing?"

"Digging a hole," one of the kids answered.

Well, that was pretty obvious.  "Okay," I said.  "Let me rephrase this.  Why are you digging a hole in the middle of my backyard?"

My daughter spoke up.  "We were going to make a lake, but we figured that would be too big."

Um, yeah.

She continued.  "So then we thought we'd make a creek, but the hill is kind of in the way."


"We finally decided to make a wishing well so we could make some money for our fundraiser."

Well, that's just brilliant.  So, ladies and gentlemen, if you'd like to stop by my pad and throw some coins in the new wishing well in the middle of my yard, please feel free to do so.  I'm sure it would be greatly appreciated!


Monday, February 11, 2013

Train-eating Dog

My eight-year-old son wanted to play with his electric train set.  "Mama, will you help me set it up?"

"Sure, Bubba."

We got the thing put together and ran the train.  It went around and around and around.  We were mesmerized by it.  But then something happened.  A certain 100 pound beast named Schultz, tore into the room. (He's our German Shepherd, in case you didn't know.)  He skidded to a stop in front of the tracks.

"Don't even think about it, Schultz!" I said.

He lay down and watched the train go in circles. I thought he might actually behave.

I thought wrong. Two seconds later, he pounced - right on the train.

"Schultz!"  I yelled.

And then do you know what he did?  He grabbed that train in his big old mouth and took off.

"Drop it!"  I hollared.

He did, but not before covering it with a nice coat of doggy slime!   

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Bubba's Battleship

"Mama," my eight-year-old son said.  "Will you play a game of Battleship with me?"

"Sure, Bubba," I said.  "Go get the game."

He did, and we set it up.  "Do you remember how to play?" I asked.


I gave him a quick reminder of how the game was played, just in case.  And then we started playing.

He hit my ships several times, but I couldn't seem to find any of his.  "Bubba, why am I not finding your ships?  There aren't too many other places they can be!"

"You'll never find them, Mama!"

A few turns later, I finally had a hit.  I called other locations after that, which resulted in hits.  Then, suddenly, the ship "disappeared." 

"Bubba,"  I said.  "That ship should be sunk!  Why are you saying it's not there when the grid locations say it should be there?"

"Mama, it dropped off the radar screen."

"What are you talking about?"

He turned his game board around so I could see it.  And do you know what?  All of his ships were on the upper board, where he was supposed to be keeping track of his calls to me.

"Bubba, that's not how to play the game!  I'll never get your ships up there!"

"Mama," he said.   "That's the point!"   

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Mama's Date

Last night, I had a big date.

"Are you ready?" he asked.

I looked at the guy.  His pants were two inches too short, his suit coat was buttoned wrong, and his tie was sticking out the bottom.  "Bubba," I said.  "We can't go to the red carpet ball with you looking like that!"

(Yes, my date was none other than my eight-year-old son, Bubba.  He was taking me to the Mother-Son dance at the school.)  

"But Mama," he said.  "I don't have another suit."

"You don't?"  I couldn't believe it.  "What happened to the suit you wore a few months ago?"

"This is it!"

I sighed.  Apparently the kid has done some growing. 

I fixed his button job and told him to forget about the tie (which he greatly appreciated), and we headed off to the ball.

I needn't have worried about the suit, because after all of the break dancing on the floor, the running around, and the chocolate from the chocolate fountain, the suit was toast!  But we had an absolutely marvelous time!

  Before I go, I want to let you all know that Schultz, our enormous German Shepherd, is a guest over at Tracy Campbell's blog.  (I think he's getting more popular than me!)  If you'd like to see pictures and learn more about him, please stop by!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Abe on the Bus

Okay.  I'm back.  I was at a music educators conference for a couple of days, which meant my husband had to babysit the kids and creatures. (I think he did a good job, because everybody and everything is still alive.)

He told me a funny story though, that I have to share. Today was the day that my son presented his Abe Lincoln report to parents. (Yes, I'm bummed because I had to miss it!)  My husband said Bubba got out of bed right away, dressed in his tight black suit, put on his Abe Lincoln beard, and donned a black top hat.

"You sent him to school like that?" I asked.

"Yeah, why not?" my husband said.

"Well, he was supposed to change at school, not run around all day dressed as Abraham Lincoln!"

"Oh," my husband said. "But he looked so cute, I didn't have the heart to tell him to change. You should've seen him on the bus.  He was a mini-Abe grinning from ear to ear, looking out the window."

I'm sure it was quite a sight - a boy with a beard!  Let's just hope that Bubba's not  going to want to go to school in his Luigi Halloween costume! 


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Preserved by Ice Cream

Last night after dinner, I scooped some ice cream into a bowl and sat down to eat it.

"Mom," my eleven-year-old daughter said.  "You're the only person on the planet who can eat ice cream every day and not get fat."

My husband added his two cents.  "Yeah, and she could probably eat a whole pie and cake everyday and not gain a single pound."

I shook my head and laughed.  "No.  If I ate cookies, cake, and pie every day, I'd be a five hundred pound blimp.  I can only do it with ice cream."

"How come, Mama?" my eight-year-old son asked.

"Because I'm an ice cream vampire."

His eyes got real big.  "You are?" 

"Yep.  Don't I look like a vampire?"

"Yeah, Mom," my daughter said. "With your pale skin and dark hair you totally look like a vampire!"

"Do you drink blood?"  asked my son, totally believing it.

"No.  I eat ice cream.  It keeps me cold and preserves my youthful appearance."

So now you know the secret to staying young:  Eat ice cream every day!

Before I go, several of you have asked me to post a recording of myself playing the viola.  A few days ago, I recorded the Preludio from Bach's Partita No. 3 for solo viola.  I'm teaching it to a couple of my students, so I did it for them.  Anyway, if you'd like to listen, go here.     

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

How to Publish and Promote Your Book

Product Details 
One of my blogger buddies, L. Diane Wolfe, AKA Spunk on a Stick, has a new book that has just been released, today.  I'm helping her get the word out.  How to Publish and Promote Your Book Now! is a perfect book for writers!  Here's all the info on it.  Please check it out!   


By L. Diane Wolfe



Publishing and promoting made simple!


Have you always dreamed of publishing a book but didn’t know where to begin? This book walks you through the steps of identifying markets, budgeting, building an online presence, and generating publicity. Get the whole story on:


·         Traditional publishing

·         Self-publishing

·         Print and e-book setup, formatting, and distribution

·         Finding your target audience

·         Generating reviews and media interest

·         Networking and developing an online presence

·         Promotional materials and appearances


Uncover your ideal publishing path and numerous marketing options before you begin. Writing is your dream. Give it the best chance for success!


Available February 5, 2012

Publishing/Marketing, 214 pages, Dancing Lemur Press LLC

$14.95 Trade paperback ISBN 978-0-9827139-5-2

$4.99 Ebook ISBN 978-0-9827139-9-0



“She gives an unbiased take on the advantages and disadvantages of traditional publishing and self-publishing and publishing paths that combine the two… It's the perfect book for those who want an overview to begin the decision-making process.”

- Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning series of how-to books for writers


“A must-read for writers planning on self-publishing or any writer who wants the ultimate how-to on promoting. Tons of links, advice, and how-to, whether you're going for print or e-publication.”

- Helen Ginger, author of Angel Sometimes


L. Diane Wolfe's sites:

Blog - Spunk On A Stick’s Tips -

Website - Spunk On A Stick -


Short Bio-

Known as “Spunk On A Stick,” Wolfe is a member of the National Speakers Association and a motivational speaker. She’s conducted seminars on book publishing and promoting for five years and assisted writers through several author services. Her other titles include “Overcoming Obstacles With SPUNK!” which ties her goal-setting and leadership seminar’s information together, and a YA series, “The Circle of Friends.” Wolfe travels extensively for media interviews and speaking engagements, maintains a dozen websites & blogs, and contributes to several other sites and newsletters.

Best of luck with your new book, Spunk On A Stick! 


Monday, February 4, 2013


Last night, when the power went out at the Superbowl, my kids got a little ansty waiting for the game to resume.  Bubba put a sleeping bag over his head and bounced around the room.

"Bubba," I said.  "Take that thing off of your head, or you're going to bump into something and hurt yourself."

"I'll take it off, only if you play a game of sticks with me."

I had no idea what that was, but I agreed to do it.

"Stick out your fingers like this," he said.  He pointed two index fingers at me.

I did as he demonstrated.

"Now tap my two fingers."

Huh?  I was confused, but I tapped his fingers.

"Now put up three fingers."

"Why do I have to put up three fingers?" I asked.

"Because you're supposed to."

"You're out!"  he announced.

"Wait a minute," I said. "I have no idea what just happened, but this game makes no sense!"

My daughter jumped into the scene.  "Watch, Mom."

She and my son played a game of sticks.  I watched as they stuck their fingers out and tapped each others hands.  "Do you get it?" she asked when they were done.

"Um, no."  I said. 

"Mom, you're so slow!"

Great.  Not only am I old (see previous post), but now I'm stupid.  Oy!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Officially Old

My eleven year old daughter has been growing a lot. (She's only one inch shorter than me  now, which means she'll soon pass me.)  With growth spurts, comes the need to buy new clothes.  I've been going nuts trying to keep up.  Believe me, with a girl, it's hard to find things that both fit and are fashionable.  (Boys are much easier!)

My mother-in-law decided to help.  Unfortunately, she lives quite a distance away, so she couldn't bring my daughter to find the clothes.  The only option was to choose some she thought would work, and then mail them.

Today the box arrived at the doorstep.  My daughter opened it.  Immediately she stuck her nose up at everything that was inside.  "Mom, these are old people clothes."

"What?" I said.  I pulled out several sweaters and tops. "These are really nice!"

"They're things old people would wear to orchestra concerts."

I looked at that girl. "Hey, I think they're quite fashionable. I'd wear them."

"Yeah, Mom.  That's because you're old!"


Friday, February 1, 2013

What Conference?

I believe I am developing a severe case of Alzheimers.  Either that or my brain has tripped out to some tropical location and left me here alone, floundering in the cold.

At approximately 4:15 yesterday, my son snuck up behind me while I was brushing my teeth.  He tapped me on the shoulder.  "Mama," he said.  "Aren't we supposed to go to parent teacher conferences today?"

I nearly gagged on my toothpaste.   Oh, shoot.  Another mama messup!  Yes, we did indeed have a conference to attend - at 3:30. I missed that on my calendar because I had already flipped to February. Silly me!

"Sorry, buddy," I said.  "I'll have to call your teacher and see if we can reschedule.  I have to teach in fifteen minutes."

"But Mama, we have to go!"


The kid wouldn't take 'no' for an answer.  He dragged me to the school, where the teacher was in conference with another parent.  I stood there, waiting, watching the clock, praying she'd finish in time for me to talk to her and get back home to teach.

Finally, she came out.  She was surprised to see me, but very understanding.  (It's good when a teacher is a parent, too!)  We rescheduled and I rushed home, where my violin student was standing at my front door,  probably wondering where the heck I was.  

Yeah, I know.  I'm a seriously messed up Mama.  Maybe I should start tying strings around my fingers.  But then I'd probably forget why I had strings on my fingers. And then they'd probably get tangled playing the violin and piano.    I'm guess I'm doomed!