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Author: toni

~ 07/11/16

Glitter Girl by Toni Runkle and Stephen Webb

Glitter Girl by Toni Runkle and Stephen Webb

Greetings Mammakazes!

Is there one among you who does not know the angst and agony that is junior high?

The raging hormones, the insecurity, the struggle to find oneself, to deal with shifting friendships and the feelings of alienation?

I would dare to say, “Probably Not”. Not if you have a daughter or if you were in junior high yourself.

My writing partner Stephen Webb and I have written a middle grade novel that deals with that transitions from child to adolescent, from a girl’s point of view. Perfect for 5th to 8th grade readers. It’s available for sale at Amazon:


“GLITTER GIRL flows like a sparkling river through the shifting sands of 8th-grade Alpha Girls and their BFFs. Puberty rocks at Wendell Wilkie Jr. High, where the motto might as well be ‘Study? I’m here to see my friends!'”  — Richard Peck, Newbery Award Winner”A fun book for teens and tweens. GLITTER GIRL has a lot to say to teenage readers, given it’s the most influential time of their lives. Mostly it’s about friendship and loyalty, and doing the right thing; perfect for a high school library!” — Wondrous Reads

” Runkle and Webb deliver an empowering message about striving to be true to oneself for middle school readers.
” – Kirkus

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Author: toni

~ 11/27/13

Okay. I know I haven’t posted in a while. Weeks in fact. I plan on getting back to the keyboard soon. But in the meantime, I couldn’t let a Thanksgiving go by with offering up the greatest Thanksgiving gift of all. The thing for which I am most, well close to most, thankful.

My brother John’s Thanksgiving Song. It’s historical and hysterical. My favorite combo.

Watch. Enjoy. Share. And Happy Thanksgiving, my MAMMAKAZES!

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Author: toni

~ 06/23/13


As legend has it, every February a little groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil peeks his little furry head out of his hole and determines if spring is coming early or if we get another 6 weeks of winter.

Now I don’t exactly recall HOW he tells this. It’s to do with his shadow. But I can never keep straight if the appearance of his shadow means early spring or more winter.  In any case, it doesn’t matter. Because that little rodent is almost always WRONG!

Know what’s not wrong? My toes. More specifically, my shaved toes.

Uh-huh. You read that right. The first day after a long winter that my furry toes feel the need to emerge from the deep recesses of my close-toed shoes and I shave them to make them presentable to the world is the true harbinger that spring is just around the corner.  And I’ll tell you why…(after I explain how I am half-Italian and, yes, have a few dark sproutlings here and there which I cannot help and if you’re of the tow-headed ilk thus rendering your body hair practically invisible, well, la-dee-dah and goodie for you!) 

Anyway… I am a very sensitive creature, highly in tune to my surroundings. Randy the perfekt husband calls me a “delicate flower” (not necessarily in the loving way that the selection of words might imply – but that’s for another post about sarcasm in marriage and how to blow it off).

I have mentioned before on this very website how I am able to detect the slightest shift of the sun and the most subtle changes in sound quality that signal the onset of Fall. Even while other people are still in their bikinis and board shorts, I’m getting out the sweaters and Uggs. And I’m always right.

Well, these talents are evident even as winter turns to spring, but in a slightly different way. Because a day comes where something deep within me stirs. Actually the feeling comes from deep within my fleece-lined shoes. The ones that, along with thick wool socks, have covered my feet daily throughout the winter months. The stirring is a longing- a longing from my toes to be freed from enclosure, from a dormancy and darkness that are akin to hibernation. And so, I step into the shower. And after I shave my armpits and legs, I move, for the first time in months, to my toes.

Now, as I have no built-in bench in my shower nor the ability to lean against one wall while propping my leg up against the other wall because the shower is too big –  this is no small feat (no pun intended). But I do it. Because, good grooming is essential and my feet say it’s time. Time to break out the sandals, to slip on the flip flops, to let my toes hang out baby!

And so I run my Lady Bic across the tops of my toes and deftly remove the two or three barely noticable (except to me and that woman I can’t understand at the the nail place) hairs from the tops of my big toes. And my toes are ready to announce to the world that spring is here! Well, if they could talk they would. (Actually, if they could talk they’d probably bitch about how disgusting the ground is – but they can’t have it all, can they? Freedom AND hygiene both. No siree.)

My point is… My toes have NEVER BEEN WRONG. Once I begin the shaving, I don’t stop again until fall when nature’s cycle begins yet again.

It’s lovely actually, when you think of it. Nature’s little toe cycle. So pure. So real. Sheryl Crow should write a song about it. I mean, I’d fork over the 99 cents to download it off iTunes.

FYI. For you Southern Californians, spring is here as of three days ago. For those of you still buried beneath of blanket of snow, hang in there, according to my toes, spring is just around the corner. You’re welcome.

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Author: toni

~ 05/09/12


Like returning to this blog after an extended absence, I have recently returned to the gym. Not sure what prompted me. The realization that I am an older mom with a 10 year-old daughter who has triple my energy, the way my belly looked like two lumpy blueberry muffins protruding from the top of my “fat” jeans, or the fact that swimsuit season is rapidly approaching. For a woman, these are all powerful motivators and probably each played an integral part in my finally getting up off my butt and committing to losing some weight and getting in shape. Oh, and that really cool MyFitness app I have on my new Smart-phone  that helps me track my daily calories didn’t hurt. Yeah, there’s a little tech geek in me.  

Well, in addition to feeling healthier in general, my return to the gym has opened up a whole new world to me. One of MORNING TELEVISION. Did you know that ellipticals have personal TVs on them? Yeah, you probably did. Tells you how long it’s been since I’ve hit a gym. In my defense, until a recent hip injury, I was always a runner.

Anyway, now that I’m spending an hour a day on these joint-friendly machines, I have seen all manner of drivel compelling stories on the tube. For example, I know that Kelly has a new set. That Lamar and Khloe aren’t happy in Texas. And that most hair stylists are handling scissors and bleaching products while drunk. (BTW that Tabatha is one scary $#@&%).

But just yesterday, I saw something that really got my panties in a bunch. Something so moronic and utterly ridiculous I wasn’t sure if I should laugh or cry.

One of the news shows did a hard-driving, in-depth piece on an Olympic athlete who had started her own line of activewear. As she was presenting her various pieces, holding them up for the camera (and all her potential customers in TV Land) to see, she pointed out what she thought was their most important and sellable feature. No, it wasn’t the vibrant colors that are guaranteed to draw the attention of that rock-hard guy at Gold’s Gym who is busily turning his six-pack into an eight-pack. It wasn’t the revealing little cut-outs that add that titillating little glimpse of the small of your back that silently screams “come hither, rock-hard dude!”

It was their ability to WICK MOISTURE! That’s right. These overly-priced gym clothes are guaranteed to SOAK UP and HIDE YOUR SWEAT.

To this I vehemently, though kindly, say: No thanks, Gold Medalist chick!

I don’t know about you, but I don’t go to the gym and work my butt off so that I can hide all evidence that I have been working like a maniac. When I get off that machine, I don’t want to look like I just spent the morning doing light errands about town. I want to LOOK like I did intervals at levels 10 and 12 for an hour! As I gather my water bottle, cell phone, ear phones, towel and gym bag I want to glimpse my reflection in the mirror and see the sweaty fruit of my hard labor. I want to walk past those who are just entering the gym on the way to their workout and think to myself as I pass them… “Yeah, that’s right, ya’ll. I kicked butt on the Precor today”.

AAAAND…. If I so happen to run into someone I know at the Starbucks after my workout… well, I can’t help it if they admire the sweat stains on my pits and belly, can I?

Okay, maybe admire is too strong a word. Actually, I’m not really so delusional. I know no one is looking at me when I leave the gym. I know the barista is probably thinking “Ew. Why can’t this lady go home and shower before she comes in here?” And I don’t really run into people I know at Starbucks that often. And even if I did, most of the sweat is gone by the time I get there.

I guess I just need to see the sweat for me. So that I can get some outward validation of the terrific mental energy and resolve it takes me to drag myself to the gym everyday. See, it’s not easy for me. And it’s gotten harder the older I get. But I know I need it to feel healthy and better about myself. And honestly, so I can be around for as long as possible in my little girl’s life.

Unlike my mother who had me at 21, I was older when I had my daughter. So I think a lot about my life expectancy and how much of her life I’ll get to spend with her. Because I’m an older mom I’ve cheated myself out of a decade or more of her life. Of seeing where her life leads her, of being a grandmother to her children, of being there for her when she needs me.

So I guess it’s not really the muffin tops or swimsuit season. The main reason I’m sweating is for my kid. Because kids need their moms in their lives for as long a possible. (Whether or not they’ll admit it).  And I WANT to see the immediate results of my efforts – every stinky, sweaty drop of it – because then I know I’m making progress to this end.

So sorry, Miss Nine-time Gold Medalist. This is one mommy who won’t be purchasing your moisture-wicking active wear. I’ll stick to my worn-out Old Navy T’s from three seasons ago. Because, like the wrinkles at the corners of my eyes, they honestly display what I have experienced. Pit stains and all.

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Author: toni

~ 09/23/11


Okay. While there may have been some parental blundering, there is no blendering involved in this week’s guilt-assuaging libation.

Because this week I am here to tell you about FLIPFLOP WINES.

MAMMAKAZE was asked recently to sample a trio of their wines: a pinot grigio, a pinot noir and a riesling.

We’re experts after all. Well, maybe not experts. But we do enjoy us some vino from time-to-time. And we know what tastes good to us.

So we invited a group of MAMMAKAZES over to a taste-testing. JOHANNA, ANGELICA, JENNIE and her mom SUE took to my courtyard to enjoy some appetizers and the free bottles of wine. Now, while free is nice, it doesn’t matter if the wine isn’t any good. But it was!



“Cute label!”

“It only costs how much?!”

“I’d definitely buy this!”

“Pour me another, baby!”

Those were some of the comments that were heard during the wine-tasting.


I was a particular fan of the Pinot Grigio. As were Jennie and Angelica. It was zesty, light, fruity and refreshing. Perfect for kicking back and relaxing on a warm summer evening with friends.

Johanna, a red-lover, really grooved on the Pinot Noir. It was smooth and went well with the chocolate we nibbled on for dessert.

And we all enjoyed the sweet offerings of the Riesling. In fact, I had some leftover (because while we enjoy wine, we are not lushes) and I brought it to a friend’s house the next night to polish off with some turkey tacos! Was that wrong? What do I know about pairing wine with particular foods? We just knew it tasted good to us.  YUM!

And you know what else? Well, besides the fact that they are reasonably priced (only $7 SRP!) and have a really cute label which, I’ll admit, has influenced me in past wine purchases.

FLIP FLOP WINES is a company of do-gooders!


Underdog Wine Merchants has formed a partnership with Soles4Souls Inc. the international shoe charity dedicated to providing free footwear to those in need. The program will raise much needed funds to give one pair of flip-flop sandals for each bottle of flipflop wine purchased (up to 100,000 pairs for the first 100,000 bottles sold).


That’s right. For every bottle of flipflop wine you buy, they give a pair of flip-flops to those in need!

I mean. Good wine. Good humanitarian practices. What else does one need to say except:


 “A toast to this lovely company and their lovely wines!”


To find out more about this company or to purchase their wines click on the PINK LINK ABOVE or the following link:




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Author: toni

~ 07/28/11


We recently bought a new family car. American if you must know. The first time in, well, ever. We’ve always been Honda and Toyota folk. I also had a VW Bug in college. Red. Cherry. Nice. 

But Randy the perfekt husband felt very strongly that we should “Buy American”. You know, what with everything that’s gone down the last few years. Also, the car we bought got fabulous reviews. Better gas mileage and safety ratings than the new version of the Honda we currently own. And we’d read that the American car companies were really stepping it up to compete. Soooo… we took the plunge.

Well, within 3 weeks, the car developed a SQUEAK in the back. With all the driving Randy does, it was driving him crazy. Soooo… our new American car had to go into the shop. After a full day of researching, they found the problem.

The Service Guy called and told me that the problem was in the back cargo door.


SERVICE GUY: We put a shim in to keep the door from banging.


So when Randy got home from work that night and he and Julia (our 9 year-old)  and I were hanging out, I explained to him all about the shim.


JULIA: What’s a shim?

ME: It’s something they wedge tightly in between two things to keep them from banging.


We weren’t thrilled about this development in our brand new car, but that’s not the point of the story.

So the next day is Saturday. And Saturday is usually our sleep-in day. But sometimes, when the house is quiet and all creatures are sleeping (and by creatures I mean Julia) Randy and I take the opportunity to “spend some MUCH NEEDED quality time together”. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more.

So I snuggle up next to him. He puts his arm around me. We smooch, ignoring each other’s morning breath knowing that the clock is ticking and getting up to brush our teeth will only eat away at precious minutes.

We lock in an amorous embrace when SUDDENLY… pad! pad! pad! That well-known sound of little feet approaching.

Randy and I share a final lingering look (you know, the same one Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio shared right before the Titanic hit the ice cold water and sucked them down into the dark depths)  bracing ourselves for the inevitable onslaught of skinny arms, legs and elbows.

And sure enough, we bounced in the air as 62 pounds of 9 year-old hit the bed, crawled over top of me like I was nothing more than a bump in the road, and WEDGED herself right in the middle of her father and me.


RANDY: (groaning) OOmph! Ow!

ME: Excuse me! What do you think you’re doing all wedged in there?


And here’s what she said. I kid you not.


JULIA: (sporting a big grin) I’m the shim that keeps you and dad from banging!


Randy and I looked at each other. No truer words were ever spoken.  Sigh.

Maybe next Saturday. Or when she goes off to college…

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