Mama Diaries

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Favorite Summer Vacation Spot Blog Hop - Cozumel

Today, I'm participating in the Favorite Summer Vacation Spot blog hop, hosted by Lexa Cain. My favorite destination? Cozumel, Mexico.  Specifically, the Scuba Club resort located there.

These pictures are from 1995, so we're talking ancient history, but I thought you'd all enjoy seeing the place, rather than me just blabbering about it.

This is a Scuba diver's paradise. You get up in the morning, have a traditional Mexican breakfast, and then head out on the dive boats for a little of this:

When you get back, you hose off your Scuba gear, hose off yourself, grab some lunch, and do a little of this: 

   In case you're feeling adventurous, you can take a little trip - either stay on the island to see  the center of town or some ruins, or go for the ferry ride to the mainland and see this: 

(This is Chitzen Itza, in case you don't recognize it. Very cool place!)

At night, it's time for a fiesta. On the beach. You might even try doing this:

Yes, that's me, taking a swing at the piƱata. Let me tell you, I did an awesome job messing that thing up!

If you're not tired after all that, you might try doing a night dive. Another very cool thing. Or go into town and dance the night away at one of the discos.  Let me tell you how crazy that can get!

When it's all done, you might grab a few hours of sleep. Then you'll get up and to it all again.

It's been a long time since I've been to Cozumel, but after four times there, I'd say it's still one of my favorite vacation destinations!

Here's one more picture for the road, just for those of you who like pictures. This one was taken at the Cozumel airport, and this is the group I went with in 1995. I am in the first row, third from the left, wearing a white shirt and black shorts:

I hope you enjoyed my favorite vacation destination. What's yours?

A little add-on: I didn't realize this was co-hosted by a lot of bloggers. They're doing giveaways, so be sure to check them all out:

Lexa Cain:
Melanie Karsak:
T.F. Walsh:
Vanessa Morgan:
Jolie Du Pre:
Stuart R. West:

Friday, May 29, 2015

Croaky Conversations

It sounds like I live in an Amazon rainforest. Why? Well, it has something to do with a certain amphibian that lives under our roof. He's an African clawed frog, and his name is Croaky.

Croaky likes to croak. Usually, he has nobody to croak to, because he lives all by himself in his tank. Things have been a little different this week, though. We seem to have a plethora of tree frogs in the forest. And it's mating season. You would not believe the sounds emanating from the woods behind our house! Those little buggers go from dawn to dusk.  Croaky is absolutely thrilled. He's croaking all night now, trying to attract the attention of a lady frog out there.

There's just one problem. Croaky has a room mate. And that room mate is our hundred pound German Shepherd, Schultz. Schultz has not been pleased with the racket his green friend has been making. This morning when I let the hairy beast out of his crate, he walked right up to Croaky's tank and barked at it.

"What's the matter, Schultz? Do you have a late night entertainer there?"

He made a funny grunt sound and trotted off.

(Croaky had better watch it. Schultz might decide to tip his tank!)

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Saving Bugs

I took my son to the pool yesterday. He had a great time swimming, until he noticed the bugs. Apparently they thought it would be nice to go for a swim, too.

"Mama, these bugs are going to die if someone doesn't get them out of here."

I nodded. "Why don't you help them?"

He made a face and shook his head. "No way. I'm not touching those things. You get them out!"

Of course. Mama always gets the dirty work. I scooped up a little moth with my hands and deposited him on the deck. I found a beetle and did the same. Then I saw a wasp. "Dude, the wasp is out of luck."

"Why, Mama? You can't discriminate against wasps. He's a bug, too!"

I scowled at the boy. "But that bug is going to sting me. There's no way I'm going to save something that's going to be ungrateful and hurt me!"

Bubba grinned and got out of the pool. He looked around and found a skimmer net. Then he scooped up the wasp and threw him over the pool fence onto the grass.  "There, Mama. That's how you save a wasp!"

(Now, why didn't I think of that?)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Fast Fingers

My son is an expert video game player. Probably because he's had lots of practice. He found a new app for his iPad - a piano app. All you have to do is touch some dots on a screen as they roll by, and it's like you're playing a tune on the piano.

"Mama," he called. "Come here and check this out!"

I watched as he played the Imagine Dragons tune,  Demons. He played it perfectly, without missing a note.

"Do you want to try?" he asked when he was done.

I laughed. "Dude, I stink at video games. Are you sure you want me to try this?"

He nodded and gave the iPad to me. The dots started rolling. My old eyeballs could barely see those things. So I just touched the screen to the beat in my head.

"Mama," my son said. "You're missing a ton of notes!"

"Yeah, so?"

"And you're going way too fast!"

I shrugged and kept going.

At the end of the game, I had 361 points.

"Mama, that's pathetic!" my son said. "I would've had at least 1600 points!"

"Sorry, dude," I said. "Mama has fast fingers, but slow eyeballs!"

(I bet if he had given me the real piano music, and I had played it on a real piano, I would've got every note and blown him right out of the water!)

Before I go, I'd like to give a huge thank you to  Alex Cavanaugh for mentioning the release of my new book, Ten Zany Birds, on his blog!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

A Sparkly Celebration

My kids are thrilled to be out of school. My son, Bubba, came off the bus waving his hands in the air,  yelling, "I'm free!"

My daughter had a different kind of celebration. It involved sparklers. You know - those things that are basically fireworks on a stick.

"Mom, we need to go to the store," she had said.

"What for?" I'd asked.

"To get sparklers. My friend is coming over after our last day of school, and we're going to light sparklers."

It didn't sound too harmful. So I agreed to this. We came home with ten boxes of sparklers. I figured there would be enough for a fourth of July celebration, too.

That's not how it worked.

At 10:00 at night, the girls went out with all of the sparklers.   Yes, all of them.

They had a blast, yelling and running around the yard with crackling lights on a stick.

When they came in I shook my head. "Do you have any left?"

My daughter grinned. "No."

"Do you realize how many sparklers you just used?"

She did the math. "Two hundred?"

"Yeah. Two hundred. Don't you think that was a little excessive?"

She shook her head. "Not after this year!"

Friday, May 22, 2015

Thinking Ahead

My son came home from school the other day and told me that an NFL (national football league) player was his substitute gym teacher.

"That's pretty awesome," I said. "It sound like he was probably way cooler than your regular gym teacher!"

"He was," said my son. "And I even got his autograph!" He pulled out a piece of notebook paper and showed me.

"That's special," I said. "Hold on to it."

"Is it going to be worth a lot of money?" he asked.

"It all depends. If the person becomes really famous, like Babe Ruth, it could be worth a lot of money."

He thought about that. "What if I get really famous?" he asked. "Will my autograph be worth a lot of money?"

I shrugged. "Possibly."

Then he grinned. "I know what I'm going to do."

"What are you going to do, Bubba?"

"I'm going to sign a bunch of things and give them to my kids. And then I'll get famous, and they can sell my autograph and make a lot of money!"

(That's what I call thinking ahead!)      

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Present for Mama

Before I begin, I'd like to thank everyone for your congratulatory remarks regarding my new book, Ten Zany Birds. You are all so supportive, and I want you to know how much I appreciate that!

I'd also like to let you know that I'm a guest on author, Roy Huff's blog.  I talk about surviving the publishing process. Please stop by and visit if you have a minute or two.

Now for the story.

I was busy typing on the computer, when my husband called me. "Woman! Come here. I have something for you!"

I couldn't wait to see what it was.

I walked into the kitchen and found the man standing next to the table with a huge grin on his face. He was pointing to a huge package of toilet paper which was sitting on it.

I raised my eyebrows. "An anniversary present?" I asked.

He laughed. "It's exactly what you need. Twenty rolls of toilet paper. And look, it has a new design for improved comfort."

"Thanks," I said. "You're so thoughtful. Always thinking of my comfort. And it's what I always wanted."

He walked away, looking quite pleased with himself.

(I'm trying to decide if this tops the toilet I received for Mother's Day. What do you think?)

Monday, May 18, 2015

New Book Release: Ten Zany Birds

I am very excited to announce that my new children's picture book, Ten Zany Birds, has finally arrived! Right now it's available on Amazon and Amazon Kindle in the United States, but it will be available soon worldwide, and at other outlets. You can find it here.

Short blurb:  Ten zany birds have a tree party, until one by one they find other things to do. It's a zany countdown - which bird will stick around?

Description:  When ten little birds get together, it's a feathered festival! The party would last forever, if none of the ten friends were so easily distracted.

One is frightened by a loud plane. One gets hungry. One wants to race and another needs a bath. Only one stays to sing in the tree, but who will it be?

Ten Zany Birds is a fun, beautifully illustrated picture book. As parents and teachers read, children are introduced to counting and basic subtraction skills. Whenever a bird leaves, the number of striped, spotted, and polka-dotted birds changes, teaching the application of simple classification rules.

Whimsical and entertaining, Sherry Ellis's tale of ten silly, distractible little birds is an excellent choice for both pre-reader storybook time and early readers. 

(If anyone would like to review it, please let me know!)

Now for a short story: Trouble in the Cat House

This one involves Bootsy, our cat. Yesterday morning, I went outside just in time to see Bootsy chasing something. The chase led right to his cat igloo. He stood at the entrance in full pounce mode.

"What's going on, boy?" I asked.

He didn't move for about ten seconds. Then he sat down and started meowing. Clearly, he was upset. He looked at me and meowed, like he wanted me to do something about whatever his problem was.

I walked over to his igloo and peered inside. All I saw was his cat pillow. That couldn't be it. I took the cat pillow out, half expecting to see a snake.

I didn't see a snake. But I did see something. It was small, and brown, and furry.  And it looked at me with little beady eyes. Can you guess what it was?

A chipmunk!

"Oh, boy, little chipmunk," I said. "Not a smart thing to wander into a cat house!"

I picked Bootsy up and got him away from there. I figured he probably didn't want to mess up his house with chipmunk guts, which is why he didn't make the kill. But that little creature didn't stand a chance with the sinister cat waiting at the entrance!

(I returned later, to see if the chipmunk was still inside. He wasn't. And I didn't see any blood trails, so hopefully he lived to see another day!)

Friday, May 15, 2015

The Perfect Paper Airplane

I walked into my son's room and found about a half a dozen paper airplanes lying on the floor. I called him into the room. "What's up with this?" I asked.

"I was making paper airplanes," he said.

That was pretty obvious.

"I wanted to make the perfect paper airplane."

"Did you get one?" I asked.

"Not yet," he said. "Can you make it?"

I shrugged. "Give me some paper and I'll try."

He did, and I made one of the models from The Dangerous Book for Boys. "There you go," I said.

He flew it. "Pretty good, but not perfect."

"Then you'd better ask your dad. If anyone can make a perfect paper airplane, it's him."

So he went to my husband. 

An hour later, he came back with a huge grin on his face. "Watch this," he said. He tossed the plane into the air. Honestly, I have never seen a paper airplane fly so far and straight.

"Wow," I said. "That's a masterpiece!"

I inspected it. The thing had flaps cut out, paperclips attached, and the most intricate looking nose. It was an engineering marvel.

My son took it outside and showed his friends. They were amazed at how far that thing flew down the street.

I think my husband has a future in aeronautical engineering!

Here's a picture of the thing for those of you wanting to know what it looks like:

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Doing the Whip

The other day, I caught my daughter doing something very strange. She was standing, with her knees  bent, her arm extended in front of her, bouncing.

I watched her for two seconds. "What the heck are you doing?" I asked.

"The Whip," she explained.

"The what?"

"The Whip. It's a dance we all do in school. We had a flash mob doing it today."

"This is what you do in school?"

She nodded. "Do you want to know how to do it?"

I wasn't sure I did, but I figured if I knew how, it would make me slightly cooler than I already am.

She demonstrated. "Stand with your legs apart and knees bent. Then pull your arm back and thrust it straight out. Bounce and move your arm slowly to the side."

I did it.

She laughed. "Mom, you look silly!"

"Girlfriend, I think anyone doing this would look silly!" I retorted. "Even the Macarena was better than this!"

She wasn't sure about that.

So, ladies and gentlemen, if you want to be cool, learn the latest dance that the youth of our nation are doing. Here's a demonstration by some fine costumed individuals:

Note:  The lyrics of the tune they dance to, are not exactly "G" rated, so if profanity bothers you, don't watch!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

How to Make Stir Fry

Cooking is not exactly one of my strong points. Mostly, I don't have the time or patience to deal with it. I throw stuff together, and hope for the best.

So, the other day, my husband sent me a video. It  pretty much describes how I operate in the kitchen. I'm sure you'll be amused.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Special Garbage

At the end of every week, I go through my son's backpack to clear out the stuff he doesn't need. Usually there are piles of crumpled papers, flyers, and miscellaneous odds and end. (Honestly, I don't know how he manages to accumulate so much junk in a week!)

Yesterday, when I went through the backpack, I found a crumpled white paper with holes in it. I put it in the pile of things to throw away. When I was finished, I called my son over. "Bubba, I'm going to toss all this garbage."

He looked at my pile and immediately pulled out the crumpled white paper with holes in it. "Not this!"

I shrugged. "What do you need that piece of garbage for?"

He didn't answer. He walked away with his holey paper.

A short time later, he returned. "Mama, I have something for you."

I took the blue-construction paper card from his hands. It of course, was  a Mother's Day card.  The cover was quite lovely with all kinds of sweet sentiments written on it. Then I looked inside.

Guess what I saw?

The white paper with holes in it!  This time it  looked a little less crumpled. 

"It's a snowflake," my son said. "I made it for you!"


(Fortunately, we both got a laugh out of it.  That was definitely special garbage!)

Before I go, I would like to wish all moms a very Happy Mother's Day! Enjoy your day!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Fabricating Cuff Links

This story has nothing to do with my kids, but it showcases my incredibly resourceful mama skills.

Last night, I performed for the grand opening of the Porsche World Headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. One of the other musicians, a cello/guitar player, forgot to wear his cufflinks. This would've resulted in seriously floppy sleeves. We couldn't have that at such a prestigious event!

He looked in his stack of stuff he had brought and found two paperclips. "How can we turn these into cuff links?" he asked.

I looked at him and shrugged. "Do you have any tools?"

Of course he had tools. He's a guy. He pulled out his tool belt which had some pliers and wire cutters.

"Perfect," I said. "Now just straighten out the paper clips, insert them through the button holes, and we'll fasten them together."

That's exactly what we did. He straightened and inserted them. Then I took the pliers and gave them a good twist. We trimmed the access wire, and voila, we had a perfect pair of cuff links!

Mama to the rescue, again!     

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A Cinco Celebration

As many of you probably know, yesterday was Cinco de Mayo. It's a big day in Mexico, but we in the United States like to enjoy it too. In honor of this day of festivity, I made chicken fajitas. After cooking, I had to get my son from the bus stop. I turned the stove to "low" just to keep the meal warm.

When I returned, I served the meal to my kids.

Then I went to work.

When I returned about five hours later, I noticed the skillet was in the sink, and it looked like the remnants of the fajita filling were stuck to the bottom. I didn't think anything of it until I went to pack my kids' lunches. I had a tortilla wrap for them. But when I searched for it in the refrigerator, I couldn't find it.

"Bubba," I called. "Did you eat the wrap that was in here?" I figured he's the number one culprit for eating things before they should be eaten.

"No," he called. "It wasn't me!"

That left the number two culprit:  my husband.

I found him in his office. He was at his desk. And the remnants of the wrap were on a plate in front of him. "You ate the wrap?" (Yes, I know, a stupid question because it was quite obvious that he had!)

He looked at me. "Woman. Were you trying to burn the house down?"

I looked at him quizzically. "What to you mean?"

"You left the stove on. Whatever you made for dinner was smoking!"

I had to think fast. "Yeah," I said. "It was part of the smoke and fireworks show for Cinco de Mayo.  Glad you enjoyed it!"

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Mister Miner and Winners of the Giveaway

Thanks to everyone who visited and left comments on my last blog post! The winners of my book, That Mama is a Grouch, are Tracy Terry and Barbara in Caneyland.  Congratulations, ladies! 

Now for the story. My ten-year-old son has always been fascinated with rocks and minerals. He considers himself somewhat of an expert. So when one of my friends, who is also a rock hound, invited him to go on a crystal dig, he couldn't resist.

We drove to a location about two hours from our home, near the border of Georgia and Alabama. After pulling down a dirt road and driving in a field, we found the perfect spot. (At least that's what my rock hound friend said.) We got out the picks and shovels and started digging. And digging. And digging.

We finally hit a patch that made a scraping sound when we dug against it.

"We found it!" my friend said. "The mother load!"

I looked into the red pit and raised my eyebrows. It just looked like a bunch of Georgia clay to me. I shrugged and got down on my hands and knees to pick through the dirt.

Two seconds later, my son came up with a nicely formed prism. "Look, Mama! This has to be worth at least a hundred dollars!"

I shook my head. "I don't think so, Bubba. But keep digging. Maybe you'll find something that is."

More digging revealed even more crystals. By the time we were done, we had filled two cloth bags.

"Mama, we're rich!" he said.

"Dude, we're hardly rich. Those aren't diamonds," I said.

He frowned. "Where can we mine diamonds?"

"Africa," I said.

"Mama, can we go to Africa?"

Uh, right.

For those who like pictures, here's some of our stash.  (We're still trying to get the red clay off of the crystals.)


Friday, May 1, 2015

Why People Sing in the Shower and a Giveaway

"Mama," my ten-year-old son said. "Do you know why people sing in the shower?"

I looked at the kid, wondering where in the world that thought came from. "Well Bubba, I think it's because people like the acoustics, and it makes them feel relaxed and happy."

"I don't think so," Bubba said. "The real reason is that it helps people think."

I raised my eyebrows. "How so?"

"The amplified vibrations go in the ear and stimulate the brain. Singing in the shower makes the brain work better."

"Oh," I said. "So you're saying if you sing in the shower, you'll get smarter?"

He nodded.

So ladies and gentlemen, we're going to conduct a little experiment. I want you all to sing in the shower for 30 days, and then come back and report if you feel smarter. Let's see if Bubba is right. 

(If you'd like to read about why people sing in the shower, you can go here.)

Last thing:  It's almost Mother's Day here in the United States.  To celebrate the occasion, I'm giving away two autographed copies of my book, That Mama is a Grouch. If you'd like to be entered in the drawing to receive one, just leave a comment below. The winners will be selected on Tuesday.