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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Amusing and Sometimes Horrifying Mother-In-Law Stories

With Mother’s Day so near, I decided to resurrect this article, previously published on Yahoo Contributor Network, December 22, 2010, as Mother-In-Law Stories, and later published on, then removed from Persona Paper. If you have children, even if you are no longer married to your spouse, chances are you have a mother-in-law. 

I am a mother-in-law. I hate even saying those three frightening, mashed-together-into-one dreaded words. Repeat them. Mother-in-Law.

Most people who hear the words, immediately chant, "Noooooo! Noooooo! Noooooo!" or tell mother-in-law jokes, and laugh uproariously.

What? You haven't heard them? Well, here are some...

Typical Mother-In-Law Jokes
"I used to not get on with my mother-in-law, but over the last few months I've developed quite an attachment for her. It goes over her head and a strap comes down under her chin to keep her mouth shut! "
"A person receives a telegram informing him about his mother-in-law's death. It also inquires whether she should be buried or burnt. He replies, 'Don't take chances. Burn the body and bury the ashes.'"
"My mother-in-law is banned internationally from playing poker, as she keeps all the chips on her shoulder."
"Fred and Rick were in a pub. Fred says to his mate, 'My mother-in-law is an angel.' Rick replies, 'You're lucky. Mine is still alive.'"
"The doorbell rang this morning. When I opened the door, there was my mother-in-law on the front step. She said, 'Can I stay here for a few days?' I said, 'Sure you can.' I then shut the door in her face."
"Last night the local peeping Tom knocked on my mother-in-law's door and asked her to shut her blinds."
"I find it interesting that if you rearrange the letters in the words, 'mother in law,' you get the words 'woman hitler'."
See what I'm working against?
In all honesty, I never wanted to be a mother-in-law. Not that I never wanted my kids to marry - I just never wanted the title of mother-in-law. I wasn't too crazy about having a mother-in-law either, but I have been a daughter-in-law - twice.
When I shared one of my mother-in-law stories with another writer, she suggested I write an article about mother-in-laws. So here they are, a couple of true mother-in-law stories. I refer to my mother-in-law as MIL, by the way.
My Wedding
When I told my future MIL that I wasn't going to have a traditional wedding, that I wanted one like my sister had where both parents escorted their son or daughter down the aisle, MIL was ecstatic. She had already arranged the entire rest of the wedding and this part of the ceremony was my only contribution.
"That's great!" she exclaimed. "Here's how we'll do it: My son and my husband will escort me down the aisle while you and your mother will escort your dad down the aisle!"
As that part of the ceremony was my only contribution to the entire wedding, I adamantly put my foot down. She was flabbergasted that I would complain about this one tiny little suggestion.
Like Frank Sinatra, though, I did it MY way.
My Feet
MIL was fascinated with my feet. Conversations frequently turned to - my feet. Why? Because she couldn't believe that anybody as tall as I am (5'6.5") would have feet so small (I wear a 4.5 in adults, a 3 in children's).
Every single time we went to the mall, which was often, MIL would drag me into shoe stores and have the clerks measure my feet. And every single time they came up with the same shoe size, she would complain that something must be wrong with their measurement system.
Our frequent shoe store excursions ended when I accidentally (subconsciously maybe not so accidentally) left a pair of my shoes at her house. I assume she tried them on, because we never again visited another shoe store.
My First Christmas As MIL's Daughter-In-Law
We sat in the living room, my MIL, my FIL, my husband, my daughter from a previous marriage, and the dog. Everybody, including the dog, had several presents to open. I had one. Most of the gifts were for my husband (now ex) who had them stacked so high I couldn't see him. Most of his gifts were shirts, pants, underwear, a winter coat, cologne (I'd need another twenty pages to list them all, so I'll stop).
"Go ahead. Open yours," my MIL suggested while we waited for my husband to continue opening his.
It looked like a garbage can. And it was. But what's this inside? A box of tissue! (I was allergic to their dog.)
My Baby
When I would nurse my babies, I always went into a private room and closed the door. After a while, MIL would race down the hall, fling open the door, rush over to where I was sitting, and wash the baby's face with a warm wet wash cloth WHILE I WAS NURSING MY BABY.
My husband had no explanation for her need to bathe the baby while I was nursing him or her. I found this habit of hers exceedingly strange. Looking back, I still find it to be very weird.
My Cabinets
For several months, every time my MIL walked into my kitchen, she rearranged my cabinets. Every time she left, I put the glasses, the pots and pans, and the food back where I had previously placed them.
This ritual went on for several months until one day she announced, "Nothing makes sense in here."
So I said, "I drink a lot of water. I want my glasses by the sink. When I cook, I want my pots and pans near the stove. And when I'm preparing food, I want my food near the preparation area."
Maybe she was hoping I would give up. I never did. She eventually gave up. And my husband, without ever saying a word, watched me perform the ritual of rearranging my cabinets every time she left.
Lost In The Mall
At around the time Adam Walsh was abducted from a shopping mall, and shortly after the movie about him aired on television, my MIL came back from the mall with two of my toddlers. She was laughing so hard, she was crying.
"You'll never guess what happened! We lost Greg at the mall for about fifteen minutes! Who'd have guessed he knew how to go up an escalator all by himself! Isn't that funny?"
Greg was twenty months old.
The color drained from my face. My mouth dropped to the floor. I broke out in a cold sweat.
She looked at me, expecting me to laugh along with her, but I was incapable of speaking. After a short time she whined, "You have absolutely no sense of humor."
My Kids' Shoes
Every year, at the beginning of school, shortly after I divorced and was penniless, I put new shoes for my kids on my credit card. Every year, after I purchased the new shoes, my MIL would complain to the kids about my horrible choice in shoes and buy them different shoes.
When I realized a pattern forming, I decided one year to wait a week after school started to purchase the shoes. She waited for me to buy the shoes and bought new ones the following week. And so it went for years until one year I decided not to buy them shoes. She never did either.
My Poor Kids
MIL would come over unannounced all the time. She never checked to see if I had any plans. And she would assume that she could take the kids with her even when I had invited other kids over to play with them.
One day, when she once again came over unannounced, fully expecting I would allow the kids to go with her, then discovering I wouldn't, she pulled the kids aside and said, "You poor kids. What a shame that you have to spend the whole day with your mother."
Believe it or not, I actually grew to love this woman. Quirky as she was, she was also very creative and though she had an unusual sense of humor, above everything else, she loved my kids. And for that reason alone, I learned to love her.
In Closing
I leave you with one more mother-in-law joke:
The wife phoned her husband in the office and said, "Darling, come home early, we are going to have my mother for dinner." "Good," replied the husband. "Make sure she's well done."
Sources: (this site must have moved, because I couldn’t find it anywhere when I updated this post)

Thursday, April 16, 2015

“You’re Very Lucky. I Saved Your Baby.”

Previously published on and then deleted from Persona Paper

Those were the words I heard on April 29, 1981, shortly after I delivered my second oldest daughter. The doctor went on to explain that my baby had swallowed meconium. I had no idea what that was. I’d never heard the word before. When he explained that it was what she expelled from her body at delivery, I understood it to be baby waste. But I hadn’t a clue what it meant for a baby to breathe in or swallow meconium during delivery. I thanked my obstetrician, but not until my daughter was about 9 or 10 years old did I fully understanding just how lucky I really was. 

Because of what happened prior to my baby’s birth, I was a little upset with my obstetrician. I had called him to tell him I was in labor and he sighed, “Ugh, I’m so exhausted. I’ve been up all night delivering another baby.” I wanted to say, “Oh, I’m sorry. I’ll tell my baby to come when it’s more convenient for you,” but I held my tongue. Still I wasn’t very happy with him that day, and I honestly didn’t know how devastating meconium could be.

When my daughter was 9 or 10, Oprah or Dr. Phil (I can’t remember which one) had a guest on his or her talk show whose son had breathed in meconium at birth. At the time of the program, this boy and my daughter were the same age. The mom held her son as she would hold an infant. His legs dangled on the floor, and his face showed that he’d never progressed beyond infancy. He would never walk or talk. He would never go to school or grow up or get married or have children. He would never do anything beyond getting fed, bathed, and changed.

The memory of my doctor’s words slammed into me so hard, I shed tears of sorrow for the boy and his parents, tears of relief for myself and my family, and tears of guilt for feeling relieved. When I looked at my vibrant, bright, and beautiful daughter, I thanked God for giving that doctor the brains and skills necessary for delivering to me a healthy little girl and I prayed that the family of that young boy received as many blessings as I have received in my life.

Photo above is of my beautiful daughter, Lindsey, on the day of her wedding shower. She is now married and will be celebrating her 34th birthday at the end of this month.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Does TV Influence Our Kids?

Previously published and then removed from Persona Paper.

The argument is about as old as television itself. Some people claim that television has absolutely no influence whatsoever on the people who watch it – that it just serves as an idiot box where people get sucked in and seduced by it, while other people blame the television industry and media in general for every crime ever committed.

The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) assumes responsibility for all types of communications, interstate or international, and covers everything from television and radio to satellite and cable. Their rules and regulations have become somewhat lax in terms of what they allow and what they didn't use to allow. In the 1950s and 1960s, for instance, a MARRIED couple had to be fully clothed and wasn’t even allowed to sleep in the same bed. 

Now single men and woman parade around wearing little more than g-strings, if anything at all. Proving that any of what appears on TV has any influence at all is difficult. How can we measure what affects our kids unless we have them hooked up to brain scans while they’re watching? While some measurements have been recorded, showing brain reactions to certain visual stimuli is not always possible. Unless we record our children every time they watch TV, we can’t observe their response all the time.

However, I think I have proof that television does indeed influence our kids. While watching a Team Umizoomi episode,  “Haircut, it's Your Hair,” one of my granddaughters decided to take matters into her own hands. You can see the results in the photo above, generously donated to me by her mother, my youngest daughter. 

So to answer the age-old question – does television influence our kids – the answer is absolutely – and they might even be persuaded to act on what they see.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Asthmatics with Mold Allergies – Beware of Toxic Reaction: Asthma & Mold – a Potentially Deadly Combination

Previously published on Associated Content / Yahoo Contributor Network June 13, 2011 – all links have been verified for 2015, but all content, with the exception of the last paragraph remains as it was in 2011.

A few weeks ago, after a particularly bad bout of asthma and bronchitis, I was hospitalized with symptoms that included tightening of the chest, wheezing, dizziness, exhaustion, and eye irritation. I'd never experienced some of those symptoms in relation to previous asthma attacks and after getting the results from a CAT scan, I learned that I also had pneumonia.

Personally unfamiliar with pneumonia, having never had it, I later discovered through a bizarre coincidence, that my pneumonia was related to a mold allergy and that mold exposure -- for me -- was toxic.

Determining Mold Allergies
Allergists or pulmonary specialists who suspect a mold allergy generally take a complete medical history and administer skin tests where extracts of different types of fungi (mold) are used to scratch the skin.
Results that develop on the skin at the site of the scratch determine the level of sensitivity or hypersensitivity to the allergen being tested, and doctors either administer drugs to mold-allergic patients or begin immunotherapy (allergy shots).
Years ago, when I was tested for mold, the results registered off the chart and my allergy to mold was given a 4+ designation out of a possible 4. Neither I nor any member of the hospital staff in my recent hospital stay, however, thought to consider a mold allergy as the culprit in my latest illness.

The Surprising Link Between Mold Allergy, Asthma, and Pneumonia
Last week, my kitchen floor flooded due to a leak in the ceiling. What contractors discovered on the ceiling, under my roof, and growing in the insulation explained my ongoing illness. Mold, not toxic mold, but mold nonetheless, grew inside the insulation, on the underside of the roof, and through the drywall on my ceiling. For somebody with asthma who is also allergic to mold, the existence of mold in the every day living space presents a life-threatening complication -- a toxic reaction.
You don't have to be allergic to mold, however, to feel the pernicious effects of mold when you have asthma. According to Mayo Clinic, "Although a mold allergy is the most common problem caused by exposure to mold, mold can cause illness without causing an allergic reaction." In addition to infections, mold allergies can cause toxic reactions that include flu-like symptoms, skin infections, and pneumonia.
From Mayo Clinic: "An irritant reaction is caused when substances from molds called volatile organic compounds irritate the mucous membranes in the body. Symptoms of an irritant reaction are similar to an allergy and include eye irritation, runny nose, cough, voice hoarseness, headache and skin irritation. With a mold allergy, your symptoms will generally get progressively worse with each exposure to mold, while an irritant reaction doesn't get worse."
Who is At Risk of Developing Allergies to Mold?
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation (AAFA) of America, "It is common for people to get mold allergy if they or other family members are allergic to substances such as pollen or animal dander. People may become allergic to only mold or fungi, or they may also have problems with dust mites, pollens and other spores." My allergy to animals, dust, and pollen contributed to the long-lasting toxic reaction I had to the mold.
Mold can be an occupational hazard for other people as well, "farmers, dairymen, loggers, bakers, mill workers, carpenters, greenhouse employees, wine makers and furniture repairers," (AAFA) because their daily exposure to the elements puts them at risk for developing a mold allergy.
Toxic Reaction to Mold
Toxic reactions to mold are caused by eating, drinking, or inhaling substances called mycotoxins, and as with an irritant reaction, "the symptoms of a toxic reaction may also include flu-like symptoms, eye and skin irritation, and breathing troubles." (Mayo Clinic)
Other toxic reactions to mold include headaches, nervousness, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, and extreme fatigue.
Most healthy people can handle mold exposure but for people with compromised immune systems, nonallergic complications can occur. Because I am still taking chemotherapy for my breast cancer and because I have asthma and an allergy to mold, my risk factor for developing a mold infection is high. People who take immune-suppressing drugs are also at risk of developing mold infections and can have toxic reactions to mold.
What To Do If You Suspect You Have a Mold Allergy
If you think you have a mold allergy, seek out an allergist and get tested for sensitivity to mold.
Examine your ceiling for water spots. If you find any, make sure they are not harboring mold. Any place moisture collects is prime real estate for mold. Basements, bathrooms, and laundry rooms, for instance, are common mold-growing areas.
If carpeting gets wet, dry it immediately with a fan. Don't allow moisture to remain in the carpet.
If bedding includes polyurethane or rubber foam, cover it in plastic to prevent mold from growing so it doesn't get wet.
Invest in a dehumidifier and place it in moist areas. Dehumidifiers keep the level of moisture down so mold doesn't have an opportunity to grow.
Purchase a mold testing kit. Mold testing kits allow you to test the mold level in your home. Place one in the ceiling, in the basement, or anywhere you think mold might sprout. Find the source of the mold and get rid of it.
Check your air conditioner, your shower, under your sinks, your faucets, the inside of your washing machine, and your window sills. Make sure all of those areas are dry and completely void of mold!
Indoor humidity is important in controlling mold. Consider purchasing a hygrometer. It measure humidity levels and can be found at local hardware stores. Your home should be kept at a relative humidity between 30-50%.
Remedies for Ridding Your Home of Mold
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), you must clean up the mold and eliminate the sources of mold. Using gloves, clean up mold with soap and water. Let the area dry completely.
Use exhaust fans when showering, cooking, or washing dishes. Fix leaks immediately. Don't allow things to remain wet or damp. Mold can develop within a very short period of time.
When Mold Allergy Symptoms Continue
If you have asthma, pay attention to symptoms that don't go away. They could indicate a mold allergy: sneezing, watery eyes, itchy eyes, nose and throat, runny or stuffy nose, cough, postnasal drip, or dry, scaly skin.
Colds and flu don't last forever. If your breathing continues to decline, call an allergist or a pulmonary specialist and discuss the possibility of a mold allergy. Recovery from pneumonia can take a long time. I'm still recovering from this latest illness.
And finally, treat suspected mold-related asthma attacks immediately. Toxic reactions to mold can be fatal if not treated promptly.
UPDATE: According to a recent visit to my allergist, upon discovering that my allergy to mold is still significantly high, I was given this WARNING that I would like to pass along for anyone else who suffers from mold allergies: 

Warning to Those Who Suffer From Severe Mold Allergies
If you see mold on bread, on cheese, or on anything else, do NOT even open the package. The spores from those packages become airborne and can cause a severe, and sometimes fatal, reaction. Immediately throw out anything with mold.
Sources:¢... '=18&cont=234

photo of mold on ceiling – mine; photo of clementine from Wikimedia Commons

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