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Alltop, confirmation that I kick ass

Author: toni

~ 10/07/10


I have been sooooo bad about posting lately. Was a time I’d compulsively post everyday, whether I had anything relevant to say or not – which of course I ALWAYS did.

But it’s hard now what with a PAYING WRITING JOB that I am obligated to complete on a timely basis. Oh, and did I mention I have also been working on a tween novel with my writing partner? Don’t be too impressed. It hasn’t been published yet.

Bottom line, I’m feel GUILT! Duh, what a surprise since it’s the second most common emotion I feel  after PASSION – you know, for those tortilla chips sitting in the pantry calling my name.

So as a fun filler, until I can complete the epic post I’m working on about bullies, thieves and cliques in grade school – here’s a little something something.

It’s ALICE COOPER on SESAME STREET! Yep, it’s him singing WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARE from his first solo album back in the day.

It seemed an appropriate choice given that Halloween is coming and what with the whole Katy Perry/Sesame Street  scandal from last week. 

Only, know what?  No one complained about this! In spite of the fact that it was the introductory song on a album full of songs about prostitution, spousal abuse, necrophilia, serial killing and even a little thing called rape.

Ah, times how they have changed. Enjoy. There are actually two performances by Alice on here, if you’re in the mood.

Alice Cooper singing Welcome to My Nightmare on Sesame Street!

Shout out to MAMMAKAZE Babette for bringing this clip to my attention.

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Author: toni

~ 09/26/10


Okay. Seriously. I wasn’t going to say anything about this. But really, it has gotten soooo ridiculous. I know you’ve all heard about the controversy of the Katy Perry appearance on Sesame Street. If not  SEE VIDEO BELOW.

Anyway, they pulled it from the show because of her dress, which reveals  a little bit of cleavage. Apparently some Mommies thought it was outrageous, horrific, and the stuff from which sluts are made.  Are you kidding me?

Okay she’s not wearing an Edwardian high neck collar, but seriously, BANNING THE VIDEO? Uh, I think not.



1) I have seen plenty of mommies at after school pick-up wearing more revealing attire on a hot day!

2) You know the audience for this show sees more breast than this everyday at meal time!

3) Uh, Miss Piggy went there first (see picture above). That little tart of a piglet!


What do you want to bet these commplaining mommies are the same ones that have no problem with their kids blowing away zombies all day on a video game. Violence is okay, but a women has cleavage and OMG!

To all this I simply have to offer my usual response…. Sigh.



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Author: toni

~ 09/02/10


Okay. So I’m at Starbucks the other day feeding a serious caffeine jones. I order a latte and Barrista #1  picks up a cup, writes my name and order on it and hands it off to Barritsa #2 who proceeds to whip up my drink (140 degrees thank you very much) and hand it to me.  As I took an immediate sip (which you can do when they don’t scald it to the point where it can melt iron)  I heard the following conversation:

BARRISTA #1: I can’t believe the exterminator can’t come until next Tuesday!

BARRISTA #2: What are you gonna do in the meantime?

BARRISTA #1: Sleep on the couch on top of a blanket and stay out of my room. The bed bugs were eating me alive!


Uh. Ew.

I immediately started itching and checking my cup for any signs of infestation, not that I even knew what a bed bug looked like or if you could even see them with the naked eye. I had the vague sense that maybe they were microscopic, kind of like dust mites. And though I’d read something or other online about a resurgence of bed bugs, an epidemic even,  I assumed it was isolated to cities on the East Coast. Uh, apparently not according to the L.A.-based Barrista!

Then MAMMAKAZE Babette emailed me with a horrific true bed bug story that happened to her SISTER and NIECE:

“My poor sister went thru a nightmare in her Forest Hills apartment: her daughter was bitten all over her stomach, had one eye closed by bites to the eye lid; My sister was poisoned by the moron exterminator because he  misused the chemicals, wound up with vasculitis and an exacerbation of her asthma- and bed bugs, if not killed, can go without “feeding” (on human blood) for 18 months.”


Horrifying. So I did a little research on this whole bed bug thing.  Yep. It’s reaching epidemic proportions. Mostly because of people travelling and the fact that they have banned the use of DDT on mattresses.

What can you do to avoid them? Well, it may surprise you to know that being extremely clean makes no difference. Bed bugs will come even if you are the biggest clean freak on the planet.  The key is not to let them in your house to begin with!

1) Don’t buy used furniture!

2) Cover your mattress and box springs with plastic – which, if you have a kid who is still prone to the occasional nighttime “accident” you’ve probably done already.

3) Wash all the clothes you purchase before you hang them up or wear them. Yes, stores like Victoria’s Secret and Abercrombie and Fitch have had infestations.


If you do get an infestation (and don’t blame yourself, it can happen to anyone!) …..


1) Try not to succumb to the phenomenon called “bed bug psychosis” which causes people to pay for and allow almost anything to be done to their home to get rid of them. You don’t want that horror show with the chemicals that happened to Babette’s sister to happen to you and yours.  Instead try something natural. Babette recommends going to  Our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq use it. It’s non toxic, smells pleasantly like cedar (because that’s the main ingredient) and also repels snakes which Randy the perfekt husband would like very much.

2) And if you discard bed-bug ridden furniture spray paint the words “BED BUGS” on it.  Because you know there are people who drive around neighborhoods at 5 am looking to snag stuff put at the curb for the trash guy.


Okay. Now that I’ve thoroughly grossed you out with this whole bed bugs thing, let me gross you out further entertain you with this lovely little video starring  Isabella Rossellini (she of “Blue Velvet” fame) made as part of her “Green Porno” series on the Sundance Channel. 

It’s part informative video, part performance art all about, you guessed it BED BUGS! And yes, it looks like something David Lynch would have directed! Enjoy and forgive me.

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Author: toni

~ 08/25/10


When I was a kid  my parents were NEVER concerned about who we kids would get for a teacher each year. In fact, I’m pretty sure they never even thought about it. There was no discussion, no debate, nothing that indicated they even had clue one as to who was even teaching at the school let alone if they were qualified or an “appropriate fit” with the personalities of their children. Hey, school was free! Who were they to argue about or even consider who was placed at the helm of their child’s life journey through learning? There were more pressing issues, like the four mouths they had to feed.

Of course, school wasn’t technically free as they paid for it with their tax dollars. But my parents didn’t think about it that way. In fact, I’m pretty sure the only thought that crossed my mom’s mind was “free babysitter!” or “seven hours without something breaking!” I had loads of brothers.

No siree.  When I was a kid, you were told who your teacher was, you showed up to class and that, as the saying goes, was that.

Sure there was discussion as to whether or not a teacher was mean or nice. But the discussion was purely amongst us kids. And those were the two categories we broke teachers down into- mean and nice. We didn’t really care about whether they were good educators or if we were going to come away better prepared for life. We were just hoping that we didn’t get someone who smacked your hands with a ruler or made you stand in the waste basket in a corner for an hour to make sure you got the point that you were a worthless piece of trash. Yeah. I had that teacher in 2nd grade. A real peach.

But even if we got that teacher, we didn’t bother to complain to our parents. Know why? Because they ALWAYS sided with the teacher. We were the kids so we must be in the wrong. It was us who had problems with authority. It was our responsibility to shape up. Bottom line, we were told to deal with it, suck it up and stop our whining.

Well, it’s a whole different ballgame these days, baby! And as things tend to do, they have swung from one end of the pendulum to the other. Because we have gone from one extreme to the other on this whole “who will teach our kid” thing.

Today, there is soooo much discussion about teachers, their qualifications, their “fit” with the personalities of our children that the last two weeks of a school year and the two weeks prior to the beginning of a new school year, it’s all anyone’s talking about. Mommy cliques are abuzz with “who your child should get for what grade”.  Moms beg hint to their child’s current teacher about where they’d like their child placed the following year, in the hopes that this will filter to the powers that be – whoever they are. Principals are inundated with letters “suggesting” who would be the appropriate fit for their child. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were attempted bribes in the form of  Starbucks gift cards (highly coveted among adults who deal with hordes of children daily) or gift certificates to “Massage Envy”, maybe even a coupon or two for Tylenol or that Mexican place with the GRANDE MAMMACITA MARGARITAS! Ole!

Well, in the end it really comes to naught. Because our educators cannot be bribed… supposedly. And this is never more painfully obvious than the day the “class assignment postings” go up.

I don’t know about you, but in my hood, this is a BIG FRIKKIN’ DEAL. The school is adamant about waiting until 5pm the night before school begins to post the teacher assignments. If you guessed that 5pm was after all the office staff was gone for the day and the voicemail was on and administrators had long vacated the premises for the safer sanctuary of their bolted-up, curtains-drawn, lights-out homes – you guessed right. No way those folks want to deal with disgruntled mommies! You know the saying about “a woman scorned”? That doesn’t even come near to the wrath of a mommy who feels her child has been “inappropriately placed”.

In fact, I have known some moms who have broken down in tears over the stress of it all, so desperate were they to have what’s best for their kid. I won’t name names (me). Okay, I know it’s stupid. But let me just say in my defense that 1) it was couple of years ago when I was new to this whole thing and 2) I cry when I see my kid’s size 5 flip-flops and am reminded she’s growing up, so it doesn’t take much to push me over the edge. Anyway, I’m not the only mom. I know PLENTY of others who have admitted to breaking down in tears over the whole thing. And not just because they thought their kid got a bad teacher. No, I have known mom’s to cry in worry that maybe their kids were in over their heads academically with a certain teacher.

But it isn’t just the mommies. Kids have actually gotten swept up in the discussion, too. They actually chat during lunch about who the teachers are to get. And a couple of kids I know, when they didn’t get the teacher they thought they “should” get this year, were actually devastated and reduced to sobs.

I know! It’s madness! Why are kids even discussing this? Why are they getting soooo wrapped up in the drama and debate of it all. Oh right. Because their mommies are! And whether or not mommies think their kids are too absorbed in their Nintendo DS’s or that episode of iCarly to hear the adult conversations going on around them, somehow they do. I mean, my kid can’t “hear” me when I tell her to pick up her socks, but she manages to regurgitate every detail of a private conversation I had with a fellow mommy two rooms away!  Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as selective listening.  

Honestly, I don’t know why we have become a nation of such overly-involved parents. For the record, I didn’t let myself do it this year – worry about who my kid was getting.  I don’t know if it was because I’ve relaxed a little, or I’ve realized that we live in a good school district and there really aren’t any bad teachers, or maybe the words of Randy the perfekt husband have finally sunk in (though I’d never admit it to him):

“So what if she gets a teacher she doesn’t get along with? Nobody gets along with everyone. It’s going to happen eventually. I’d be a good life lesson.  Besides, she’s a smart kid, she’ll figure it out. “

My husband the pragmatist.

In the end, I think the answer – as is usually the case – is somewhere in the middle. It’s important for us as parents to want the best for our kids and to do what is in our power to make that happen. But we also need to stand back,  take a deep breath and have a little faith. Faith in our educators. Faith in our kids. Faith in ourselves as parents. So. Yeah. That’s what I’m gonna do. Have a little faith.

But the minute anyone makes my kid stand in a trash can… POW! TO THE MOON, ALICE!

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Author: toni

~ 08/19/10


When I was a kid whenever we misbehaved we were treated to the belt or the spoon, depending on if the punisher was our dad or our mom. (My mom’s Italian so a wooden spoon was a natural extension of her arm and therefore a logical – and handy – correctional tool).  Back then, corporal punishment was considered acceptable. And though parents didn’t make it a habit, the occasional smack in public was also deemed OK.

In fact, if you saw a kid get hit in public, your parents would give you the “see, that’s what happens when you misbehave” look and you were suddenly on your best behavior knowing you could easily be next. Fear of pain that is coupled with public humiliation is a strong motivator to be good.

In fact, I knew parents who took corporal punishment so much to heart that they made their kid wear a paddle on a string around his neck. And the paddle said, “If I misbehave, spank me.”  I kid you not. Yeah, okay. That was weird even for back then. Even my parents thought so and forbade us ever to use the paddle on the boy…else they’d spank us.  But did anyone call Child Protective Services? Nope, because everyone believed that discipline was the domain of the parents, however they saw fit to do it.

Nowadays, that kid would be a target of a child welfare visit so fast it would make your head spin.

While I’m sure there are still parents out there who believe the occasional swat on the behind doesn’t hurt (the child’s psyche anyway) most of them would never in a million years do it in public for all to see and judge and get them into enough trouble that they’d have to cash out their 401k’s to retain a criminal defense attorney. Nope, I would go so far as to say that most parents who still believe in corporal punishment, engage in it secretly, behind closed doors.  

Generally, parents who believe in spanking have been driven into the dark recesses of the family room, plantation shutters firmly shut. The spanking backlash brought on by countless studies and articles on child rearing has created a nation of closet swatters. (Well, except for that frazzled mom by the BBQ place at Disneyland two weekends ago. But then, given the frustration-inducing crowds sometimes encountered at “the happiest place on Earth”, I’m surprised I didn’t see more parents laying hands upon their kids.)

Anyway, recently one of these closet swatters stepped boldly out into the open. Or as open as an enclosed plane full of passengers and crew can be.  And she even made the news!

A Georgia woman on a Southwest Airlines flight from Texas apparently slapped her 13 month-old daughter when she wouldn’t stop crying.  This resulted in police being called when the plane landed in Albuquerque. The parents were detained and questioned before finally being released with their child and boarding another flight.

Okay. I know how I feel about smacking a baby in the face. NEVER. And I won’t even start ranting about the logic, or lack thereof, that went into determining this was the best course of action to get a baby to stop crying.  

Also,  I’m a proponent of  “when in doubt, err on the side of caution” especially where a child’s welfare is concerned and I, too, probably would have called authorities on this mother.

Still, I have to wonder…

Have we gone overboard in our radical responses to the occasional public swat? Is it our right as parents, albeit absolute strangers, to call out these swatting parents for what they are doing to their kid, as I have actually seen done MANY TIMES! Is it reasonable to call the authorities about it? Or detain an entire flight? And at what point does that seem a necessary move? Where is the line? Is it one of age of the child? Of degree of spanking? Or the kind of spanking? Or is it never, absolutely under no circumstances, ever okay to spank your kid in public or elsewhere?

What do you think?  OKAY OR NO WAY?

Meanwhile,  if you’ll excuse me, I’m late for a scheduled tête-à-tête over juice and crackers with my eight year-old to rationally discuss (all the while avoiding any “you” messages which can be damaging and ineffectual) appropriate and acceptable ways of expressing disdain for mommy’s rules.

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Author: toni

~ 08/05/10


We live in an era of obsession with child safety. When I was a kid child safety came in the form of  a loud, resounding, “NO!” emanating from a nearby irritated adult.  It was cheap and that single word pretty much summed up everything a parent had to do/fork over in order to childproof their home.

Not so, today. Even before a baby comes into the world his surroundings have been turned into the padded cell of a maximum security mental institution.   There are latches on the windows and cabinets. Those little plastic knobs cover door handles, making them impossible to turn (sorry Grandma). Latches on the toilet seat are so difficult to break into, I’ve nearly wet myself trying. There are bumpers on the corners of coffee tables, plastic plugs fill outlets, gates are screwed in at the bottom and tops of stairs. And child car seats are made by the same manufacturers who make those lovely airplane seats we squish into during long flights – miserable to sit in, but able to withstand a 16g impact (the seat, not us). 

And there is even a whole industry that has cropped up as a result. Yes, if you are one of those super paranoid parents you can actually hire an “expert” to come in and child proof your home. It’ll cost you a bundle, but you’ll save a fortune in ER visits. Of course, you risk raising a kid so insulated and protected from reality that by the time you finally release them into the wild, they won’t know any better than to walk in front of a bus or stick a butter knife into an outlet. ZZZZT!

Anyway, with all of these precautions, with all the billions and billions spent on protecting our kids, with all the laws passed about child safety seats and helmets–

Why aren’t school buses required to have seat belts?!

There was another article today about a child getting killed during a collision while riding in a school bus  (CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL STORY).  Dozens of others were hurt. And this happens all the time! In fact, on July 17, nine kids were seriously injured in Kansas. And there was another serious accident in May. Google it, you’ll be horrified by the hits you’ll get.

I have to tell you, I am none too thrilled about my kid going on any school field trip on a school bus. Especially on a freeway! Because you know what happens to a little loose body during an impact? It turns into a projectile! That’s right. That unharnessed person turns into a free floating one that can slam right through a windshield! Why is this even legal?!

Now my kid is within an inch or two of the legal height requirement to be out of a booster.  But if I should dare to allow my kid to ride in the car without the booster (not that I would) I can be heavily fined, because this is against the law!  And yet that same 55 inch,  60 pound child is allowed to sit unsecured in a large rectangular metal box on wheels that has all the safety features of that travelling tilt-a-whirl ride that you saw featured on 60 Minutes that caused 3 kids to lose their toes.

As a parent, I’m appalled and mortified and just dumfounded by the logic, or lack thereof, when it comes to safety belts and buses. There are people (and by people I mean attorneys hired by bus companies to spin statistics) who will tell you that more children die from being HIT by a bus than in a collision while riding a bus. I say, who cares? As long as one child could be saved from death or serious injury by wearing a seat belt on a bus, why not add them? They’re in every other vehicle that moves, for gosh sakes!

Not only is the lack of logic maddening, so is the hypocricy!

It is pounded into the heads of parents and children alike that safety is of the utmost importance! And I take it seriously.

So on the weekend I am super vigilant mommy and make sure my daughter never rides her scooter without a helmet. Then on Monday morning I place her into a  pricey car seat – the fourth I’ve purchased to meet her changing size – and strap her in to take her to school. And then I’m supposed to be okay with letting her get on a school bus without seat belt, car seat or helmet so she can ride unrestrained at 60 mph down a freeway to go on a field trip?!

Sorry, but it goes against every mommy instinct in my body.

My heart goes out to the parents who lost their daughter today in the school bus accident in Missouri. It was tragic and entirely unnecessary.

There oughta be a law. Fortunately, several child safety advocates and other safety groups have started a petition.

NHTSA’s grant of safety groups’ petition would extend the lap-shoulder belt requirement to large school buses manufactured in the future. It would also provide an incentive for State and local jurisdictions to require retrofitting of existing large school buses with lap-shoulder belts so that they were as child-safe as new models.

The petition was signed by The National Coalition for School Bus Safety (NCSBS), Center for Auto Safety (CAS), Public Citizen (PC), Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS), Consumers Union (CU),, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Consumer Federation of America (CFA), SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A., the Trauma Foundation, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the Orthopaedic Trauma Association,, Safe Ride News, the Advocacy Institute for Children, Belt Up School Kids, the Coalition for Child Safety, Nancy Bauder, Lynn Brown, Norm Cherkis, Ruth Spaulding, and Rhea Vogel. A copy is available online at


You know and I know, it’s going to take an army of angry mommies to get this changed. So find out what you can do in your area to make seat belts mandatory on school buses.

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