Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Judy Merrill Larsen

"Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart."

I love this quote of Erma Bombeck's. And not only because I'm a big fan of dessert. It's a mind set. An approach. Now, I take care of the stuff that has to be taken care of. More or less. I'm not a flibbertigibbet (and, can I just say, that is such a great word). But time flies. Kids grow up (Eventually. I swear they do. Or will.). And we only have so much time. And when I get to the end, I don't want to think, "Well, I sure took care of all my responsibilities." I don't want my kids to say, "Wow, she always made sure the house was clean." (Um, no real risk of that. I'm just sayin'.) I want there to be stories and laughter and lots of memories.

So, as I go through my days--mothering my kids (2 sons, 2 stepdaughters, 1 stepson), writing my books, cooking, laughing with my husband, opening the wine, walking the dog--I'm a big one for striving to seize the moment. And I'll be chatting about that here--it'll be great to have you along for the conversation.

*  *  *  *  *

"I was too old for a paper route, too young for Social Security and too tired for an affair."

This about sums me up; I'm not sure just what Erma was referring to when she said this. I can only imagine! But for me, it precisely describes just where I am in my life right now as I'm trying to make a career as a writer. Like a lot of women, I put off figuring out what I wanted to be when I grew up because I had kids. I threw myself into raising them and making sure they had bright shiny futures - and forgot all about myself.

So now the kids are growing up, almost out of the nest - one is, one has a year to go and both occasionally will hop back in for extended stays in which they'll expect me to be their devoted slave, once again - and I'm trying to move forward, yet finding myself, and much of my writing, still defined by the past. I think this is a struggle all mothers have, no matter how many years it's been since they've changed a diaper. I'll share my struggles here, and hopefully we'll all find a way to laugh at them together!

*  *  *  *  *

Looking through the prolific wisdom of our namesake for an introduction quote, I found I couldn’t be satisfied with choosing just one. This is- by the way- a character flaw that rears its head in my life in many, many ways. One cookie? Not likely. One cup of coffee in the morning? Not if I want to function. One pair of shoes? HA! You have got to be kidding. One glass of wine? *Pfft!*

There are fleeting moments when I question my sanity in deciding to have more than one child, although trying to imagine my life without both Snooze and Shriek quickly blankets any doubt- and I am proud to say I have managed to hold myself to one husband for very nearly a quarter century.

Now to my Erma quotes, and parenthetical commentary:

“My second favorite household chore is ironing. My first being hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint.”

(Oh- Erma. I would fall to my knees and grovel before these words if I weren’t so worried about the cereal crumbs and dust bunnies that would adhere themselves to my kneecaps in the process. I like to believe I am too cerebral to be tidy, but the fact is, I’m usually cowering behind a pile of dirty laundry waving a white flag of surrender. The fact that the flag is not white- it is one of my son’s socks after all- is moot.)


“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.’”

(I only hope one of those talents I was intended to use was NOT keeping my house immaculate.)

*  *  *  *  *

Jenny Gardiner

I am never one to make a decision without agonizing over it. So I'm going to be a complete renegade and choose two Bombeck quotes for my introduction. That's the beauty of blogs. Or clogs. Or whatever we're doing here with clunky shoes (and hopefully not clunky words). We can do things on the fly...

"Housework: If you do it right, it will kill you." --Erma Bombeck

Ah....No truer words were spoken. And because we all ultimately aspire to longevity, what say we all just stop trying to impress each other with clean houses and agree to continue in our slovenly ways? I won't tell if you won't.

I am a big believer in casting aside the have-to's every now and then (well, more often than not, actually) just to maintain one's sanity. All while trying to service all family members adequately, not gain too much weight (yeah, right!), avoid bouncing checks (er, um, yeah, right!), keep those graying roots at bay, remembering to shave legs occasionally, and every once in a blue moon, getting out of sweats and donning something less than slovenly, just because. With all of those important mandates, who's got time to clean? I figure until asthma kicks in with my gang, we'll go for the lowest common denominator when it comes to household sanitizing...

"If you can't make it better, you can laugh at it." --Erma Bombeck

There's a lot in life we can't fix. But there's a lot in life that laughter can ameliorate. I hope we'll be able to give you some good laughs when you stop by this blog/grog/clog/smog whatever it is. And if you don't find anything to laugh at, well, there's always housework!

*  *  *  *  *

Barb McKone
"Onion rings in the car cushions do not improve with time."

So true.  But, even shriveled beyond recognition, isn't it just a little comforting to know that they're there?  If my family were ever stranded on a lonely road in the middle of the night with no cell phones or AAA cards, we could easily survive for days with just the french fry and McNugget scraps we could find under and in-between our car seats.  There was a time that we would have even found the accompanying toys.

I was raised as a daughter of the Clean Car Club.  Our car was spotless, always.  So was our house. I'm talking ironed sheets and the whole family dusting and vacuuming to Nat King Cole on Saturday mornings.  It amazes me, now that I think about it, that my mother was such a fan of Erma and her scandalous views on the futility of cleaning.  My mom loved Erma. We had one of her books warming on our bathroom radiator for years.  Erma actually spoke at my college commencement.  DePauw University, 198_.  I remember her talking about toilets. Cleaning toilets, to be exact.  I wasn't really listening, obviously, but I'm sure my mom was.  Who would have ever imagined I'd later be part of an Erma clog, wishing I could remember that long-ago day's words of wisdom on all things domestic?  I imagine they were much more than that. Here's to Erma, motherhood, clogs, and yes, even cleaning toilets.  Especially if someone else is cleaning them.

These are just brief introductions--daily (M-F) entries begin June 9--we hope you'll stop by so we can all get to know one another better. While it takes a whole village to raise a child, we're thinking we might need the entire internet to raise teens!


Kalynne Pudner said...

Oooh, the spirit of St. Erma -- this is going to be fun! But we might want to rethink the usefulness of the "ENTIRE internet" for teen-raising. Y'all know what I mean...

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Good point!! And, hey, thanks for being our first ever commenter!


Sleeping with Ward Cleaver said...

Howdy Kalynne! Thanks for stopping by! Y'all...what are you betraying that latent southern thang or what?

Robin said...

Well now you certainly seem like my kind of people (at least we agree on house cleaning.)

I am glad I followed Kalynne over and I await breathless for your postings.

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Hey Robin, glad you stopped by. Hope you don't hyperventilate!

Sleeping with Ward Cleaver said...

Hi Robin! We far prefer heavy breathing, thank you. It makes us feel young and alive ;-) said...

Hello, ladies! And thanks for including me on your blogroll. I can't wait to read more "adventures - in - parenting - teens" blogs!

-dsb- | email

Fivekids55 said...

Hello Ladies,

I am so looking forward to this clog. I am also a writer, and mother of five, ages 21 to 10.

Last week, my usually absent mother skills reappeared; I baked brownies.
I knew the kids would be so excited!

When they arrived home from school, the sweet smell of fresh baked chocolate permeated the kitchen. The brownies sat displayed on the counter.
I was proud.

Until, they looked at me and said, "What happened? Is the Internet down?"

Best of luck, I'm looking forward to the posts, and laughs.


Sleeping with Ward Cleaver said...

Cathy--love that story! Sounds like something my kids would say! Speaking of brownies, I had this glorious moment of silence yesterday. Oldest was in basement with a friend watching a movie. Youngest was up in my room watching some ghastly crap on MTV, middle was napping. Napping! I decided to take advantage of this by slipping off to my messy room where all the junk gets dumped, right off the kitchen. There's a comfy couch in there. Well, I was writing away, savoring the silence for a few minutes, then I heard noises--someone in the kitchen rattling dishes and glasses and such. I kept asking who was in there because I knew everyone was elsewhere. So finally I had to get up off my comfy couch and trudge into the kitchen, only to discover my greedy Labrador had gotten up on the counter and helped herself to not one but TWO trays of brownies my girls had baked the night before. And do you know how hard it is to find cream cheese brownie mix these days? All wasted on the dog! She wouldn't look at me the rest of the day she knew I was so angry with her...

Diana Cosby said...

I love Erma Bombeck's wisdom! Margy, you posted my favorite quote by her. Jenny, thanks for the invite to this fabulous topic. I believe Erma will be a timeless inspiration to us all.

Diana Cosby

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Hey Cathy, dsb, and Diana--so great to have you along for the ride. I always figure if I can find a way to laugh at it, I know i can survive it!

Diana Cosby said...

Absolutly. There's a time to be serious, but we always need to be able to laugh at ourselves as well. :)

Diana Cosby

Sleeping with Ward Cleaver said...

Hey Diana! thanks for stopping by! And also hi to DSB! Happy to link you!

Jamie Leigh Hansen said...

I love this blog! You ladies have a wonderful idea here. My oldest is 17 and my youngest is 13. This is so timely. :)

Judy Merrill Larsen said...

Jamie Leigh--so glad you're along for the fun. It's nice knowing we're all in this together!

Jess Riley said...

Great first post! Thanks for the link--will return the connection on my end. :)

mommeeof9 said...

Teens are so much fun. Mine become human around 14 or 15. I have 3 semi responsible teens at home now and 5 younder ones. For some reason my oldest moved out 2 days after her 18th birthday. Something about being tired of being the oldest. We have always told them, "if you don't like our rules, you can move out when you are 18."

HRH said...

MWAH girls!

Love the quotes and the stories. I am linking to ya'll tomorrow and have added you to the blogroll (yes, I finally have one).

Sleeping with Ward Cleaver said...

Thanks Holly!

Daisy said...

If life is a bowl of cherries, what am I doing in the pits? I love the philosophy of channeling Erma Bombeck. If she were still alive today, she'd have a blog. You just know it.