Top 5 Wednesday: Mothers Known or Remembered for Something Odd


1. Queen Wilhelmenia of the Netherlands


Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands is remembered for her heroic flight from the Nazis,  arriving in England in a nightgown, during World War II. But she may be remembered in a more cringe-worthy way for sending her daughter, Princess Juliana, to her wedding bed uneducated in the ways of that special night and wearing flannel underware! Source for the undies story: An American Princess: The Many Lives of Allene Tew.

2. Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy

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Mrs. Kennedy was looked on by many Americans as a sort of American Queen Mother. A three-time Gold Star mother, she lost one son in World War II, and two assassinated. Her fourth, Ted, was nearly killed in a plane crash. She also lost a daughter to an ill-advised lobotomy (about which she may not have been consulted) and another daughter died in a plane crash. She was and is revered. But she is also remembered for some interesting habits. First was her card file that recorded her 9 children’s illnesses and vaccinations. Second, was her habit of pinning notes to herself onto her clothes! These stories have been repeated in many Kennedy books and magazines.

3. Ruth Bell Graham


Photo from

Ruth, like Rose Kennedy, was long one of the most revered women in America as measured by various opinion polls. The wife of Evangelist Bill Graham, mother of Franklin, and Anne, and 3 others, she is perhaps best remembered for being able to wear her wedding gown on her 50th wedding anniversary, but also for keeping a wooden shoetree in her car to hit her son Franklin with when he mouthed off! See her wonderful memoir: Footprints of a Pilgrim.

4. Lucille O’Neal and 5. Deloris Jordan


Lucille O’Neal and her son Shaquille (left) Retrieved from here.
Deloris Jordan, mother of Michael Jordan, with Orpah Winfrey (right) retrieved from here.

Shaq’s Mom made quite an impression on me years ago on the Oprah Winfrey show. Deloris Jordan, Michael Jordan’s mother, did, too.  Both were concerned with their sons running thru their MBA money.  When new NBA player, Shaq wanted a new stereo. His mother made him do lay-a-way to get it! She also turned down a Mercedes saying her van was running fine. I believe she did, eventually, accept the Merc though! Lay-a-way Lucille is a true inspiration!

Michael Jordan’s mother and father traveled on the road with their son his first few years and Michael had to have his financial adviser call his mom and assure her that Michael could truly afford the mink coat he wanted to give her! Mrs. Jordan also emphasized that she was proud of ALL of her children–one of whom spent 30 years as a top enlisted man in the U.S. Army.

The episode of the Oprah Winfrey show was titled “Li’l Penny Meets Supermodel Tyra Banks,” and aired in 1997.

Extra! 6. Barbara Bush

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In addition to riding herd over future President G.W. Bush, and future Governor Jeb Bush, Barbara was wife to a President, a director of the CIA, an Ambassador to the UN and envoy to China–all George H.W. Bush. They had 6 children, a daughter, Robin, died as a little girl, while the others have all been very visibile on the national scence. Mrs. Bush’s one great quirk was her love of wearing mis-matched pairs of Keds sneakers! You can read the story here. It was also in her memoir. Sadly, I couldn’t find a photo of her in such a pair! Here is a photo of some of her collection:


I could not identify who owns this photo. I found it here.

comment. And to all mothers, Happy Mother’s Day this Sunday!


Top 5 Wednesday is a group you can join on Each week participants write a blog post or make a Yutube video post to share their take on the week’s topic. Why not join in?

A book for a first-time Mom with a daughter




Becoming a Mom for the first time–no matter if by giving birth or by marrying a man with children or by fostering or adopting–is overwhelming.  She may be very accustomed to reading and stretching her mind, but suddenly now she has to keep a baby alive or get along with step-children or meet the needs of a traumatized foster child. Likely she’s second guessing everything she does and worrying that she’s doing it all just wrong. She isn’t and, in time, she’ll realize that. Along the way this book may just help. Best of all, it is suitable for a friend, husband, Grandparent or coworker to give to any first-time Mom.


If may seem crazy to offer a new mom a book to read. When will she ever have a moment’s peace to even finish reading the title? Well all of that is true, but this one is a collection something like long tweets. Not real tweets, you understand,  but short, to the point memories of Moms on raising daughters. They are well written, but certainly don’t crack the top 500 SAT vocabulary words.

Real stories with real advice, but not on potty training or breast pumps. Nor are these a step-by-step method to achieve X. They are just real Moms, relating real gems of wisdom gleaned while raising their own daughters. Not a listen-to-the-voice-of-experience tome, either. Just “here is my memory” and then “Next?” Reading that is do-able in new Mom-time.

The various authors have nothing in common other than all have raised daughters. “Notorious” Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Marie Osmond, Laura Bush, various doctors, lawyers, business women, a rabbi and a few more Hollywood types than I’d have chosen, all combine to tell stories that can be read one-handed while nursing a baby even when entirely sleep deprived. Justice Ginsburg and, unbelievably, Marie Osmond, wrote my favorites.  What I Told My Daughter: Lessons From Leaders on Raising the Next Generation of Empowered Women, edited by Nina Tassler.

P.S. This book really is suitable for ALL mothers–even those with sons.




Give this, not that for Mother’s Day



Dear Husbands,

Mother’s Day is this weekend–Sunday, to be exact. Those of you who sit beside your wives in Church will know this when you see them handing out flowers to each mother. Now this may confuse you because in our politically correct universe even Churches have started giving flowers for Everyone Who Ever Meets a Child and is Female Day. Trust me, the intended targets are mothers of all ages as well as foster mothers and step-mothers.

Knowing how men can struggle with gift giving here is my helpful Mother’s Day Shopping Guide in a helpful “Give this–not that” format. Yes, there are online shopping links [from which I earn nothing] for your convenience. I’ve broken them up by category, too.

What’s that you say? She said to buy her nothing–put it on debt? We’ll cover that. Oh Really? She wants a STORM DOOR? We’ll cover that, too.

But she really likes some of the no-no items. This does happen and you know her well enough to know the exceptions. Just don’t assume there are exceptions in the bedroom category and you’ll be fine.

Let’s start with where you will likely want to start your online shopping (Two words men: Josh Duggar–lets stick to the links I give, ok? No need for Mother’s Day shopping to become divorce lawyer shopping).

The Bedroom

Buy This or This………

Sheets source    Nightgown source


Super-high thread count Egyptian cotton sheets. Total luxury. Or, a lovely (not slutty) silk nightgown, but make sure you buy her REAL size. If she’s a 0 she’ll be upset if it it’s too big. Otherwise, no woman ever minds exchanging something for a smaller size.

…Not EVER This…



Not even in the correct size. Just no. Don’t go there. Nope. Never.  It’s Mother’s Day, not Hugh Hefner’s birthday.

The Kitchen

Now scroll up so you can’t see the last picture before you try reading this section. The kitchen is not a place for anniversary, birthday, Christmas or Mother’s Day gifts–not from a husband. From the kids, yes, but it should be something Mom actually wants (if the kids are old enough to understand) or something, no matter how cringe-worthy, that they’ve picked out  if they’re under about 4. From, you, however……

Buy This or This………

Date Night In a Box. Blue Apron is a service that sends every ingredient for a two person [or family] meal to your door in a refrigerated box so you can cook together for a special date night dinner. Do I need to say that you get the two person box? Or that you must bribe your Great Aunt Edna to take the kids?  Get the wine box, too, of course. Yes, even if you’re a teetotaler. It’s wine, not Jack Daniels.Order the meal with the stuff you’ve never heard of, then shut up and eat it. There’s wine, remember? Don’t forget desert! A tiny box of really expensive chocolates. Less is more.

Then, man-up, when the delightful meal is done, clean the kitchen HER way while she watches and sips more wine. This is the perfect you-know-what-play and might even get her to not only shave her legs above the knees, but also put on something more alluring at bedtime than her high school band t-shirt and cotton panties. Take your time cleaning. Caress the front of that dishwasher with a microfiber cloth! Polish that stove….slowly, with real muscle….and attention….to…detail. Even…yes…even throw out those carrots turning to slime in the vegetable drawer. Then, without prompting, take out the trash and….OH! Yes! YES! YES!!!! Put a clean bag in the trash can without being told to do so! Give her a minute to breathe–her pulse hasn’t been this rapid since your last child crowned. She’ll be shouting “Again!”

…Not EVER This…


Hot dog grill and bun warmer.  Just no.


Buy This or This………

A Picnic for two at a classy outdoor event. Yes, you can use Blue Apron for the food. The ideas below are for Shakespeare in Cincinnati and the Symphony in Indianapolis. This is a great option if you must have the kids on Mother’s Day, as most such events don’t start until June. In this case it is permissible to have a Mommy’s Day and a Mother’s Day–the later one being just the adults. And yes, this one could have exceptions. One woman’s class is another woman’s boredom. Now, please note, opera was not mentioned. No one expects a man to endure opera unless that lingerie will be worn afterwards and for more than 3 minutes.

Not this….

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…and Not EVER This…




Now, about that storm door, “Don’t get me anything” and other man traps.


Get her the storm door, but INSTALL IT ….wait for it….THAT DAY!!! Completely. Preferably with her watching. Ignore her “helpful suggestions.”  Pick up the mess. Polish the glass. Wear a muscle shirt and tool belt. Better yet, let the kids help and be PATIENT. Teach them. Resist the urge to grab a beer first. Then serve her favorite ice cream after wards. Yes….even if it’s that gell-o-toe stuff. And eat it without complaint. Bribe the kids to shut up and eat it too. Then, oh then! Then! THEN! Clean up the ice cream mess and the kids hands and faces. Have them change their shirts if necessary, making sure the shirt and pants match and….ohmyohmyohMYMYMY!!! Pre-treat the stains. She’ll need more than a cigarette. She’ll need….wine…and possibly…a long back rub after that! Picture source

When a woman says “Don’t Get Me Anything


This is a cry for HELP. Listen. Do as I say. Suck it up and DO WHAT I SAY. This requires a full day of being with your children. 12 continuous hours. Yes, it could include wiping bottoms or changing Super-Fund-eligible diapers. She does it. So can you.

Step one: FORCE her to go to the grocery store. Really get her angry enough to brave it on a Saturday. No kids. She’ll be suspicious but just do it.  Picture source.

Step two: CLEAN. Yep you and the kids. CLEAN HER WAY. Yes, the entire house. If that’s too much then do the kitchen, living room and master bedroom. She does the entire house on a moment’s notice when your mother comes. You can do this. Yes, you may call 1-800-Got-Junk and yes, you can hire reinforcements–just make sure they observe every obsessive cleaning quirk she has. You’ve done them wrong enough times to know the entire weird list. Tip especially well if the cleaning people keep saying “Oooookkkk then.…”as you explain these quirks.


Step three: FIX at least one thing she’s “nagged” about. She hasn’t nagged you and you know it. You’ve just not done it because you are afraid you’ll mess it up and hear about it for the rest of your life. Go next door and get Rick. Rick has every power tool ever made. Rick even knows how to use them. Rick, being Rick, will whip thru that Honey-Do list in mere minutes. Heck the guy did his own batten board walls and tray ceilings! Then mention that your wife keeps showing you crap on Pinterest she just loves.  When he pulls his phone out of its belt-holster and brings up his own Pinterest account ask him to pull up your wife’s page.  When he suggests “seriously dude, we can so do that Audrey-themed laundry room for your wife this afternoon,” agree and hand over your credit card! THAT debt your wife won’t mind.  Picture source.

Remember to have the kids call Mom and whine about anything. It’ll make the grocery store seem like an oasis and she’ll stay even longer binging on sushi and cheese samples. Have your Mom call her and tell her about dragging your grandmother to the foot doctor. Eventually she’ll figure it out and go to Starbucks or the nail place, giving you ample time for Rick to This Old House himself into a frenzy.

When you and Rick are about done, hand him the rest of your beer and send him home. Then call your wife and scream about “Where the heck are you–the kids are making me crazy.” Ignore her “serves you right,” comment. She’ll come home even though she’s deep in a fantasy about having pursued her dream of being a professional court reporter instead of being a wife and mother. Getting paid to listen to demanding, irrational people all day and not having to wipe up poo sounds really good to her about now. But she knows you’ll never be able to feed the kids a decent dinner.

Now, this is the important part–don’t mess this up. When she comes in, immediately force the children to bring in whatever she bought at the grocery store. Don’t make her use the canned goods straight from the back of the minivan–at least not this week. Plus, you want her alone with you when she walks in and sees the Audrey laundry room, the clean house, the fixed doggie-door, the shelf in the half bathroom….. She will make you feel better than those three minutes she’d have worn that sleazy lingerie before stomping off and changing her clothes ever would have. Your knees will go rubbery. You’ll start to make your patented, never-fails,  first move and then…..and then……just as her back is arching…..a…. kid  will screech “Happy Mother’s Day Mommy…..”






Mothers and Daughters: Novels for Mother’s Day




Arranged marriage is not an idea many Americans embrace. Yet Mina’s old-world parents whole-heartedly embrace the concept. Together Tea tells the story of Mina’s mother and her determination to find the perfect husband for her daughter. Mina, a modern American woman, is having none of it. To what lengths will a mother go to find happiness for her daughter? Together Tea, a debut novel by Marjan Kamali, that I can’t stop raving about. Today, May, 3, 2016, this is on sale for Kindle for only $1.99. [Remember, I do not make any money off your clicks–they are only for your convenience].





Poor Bee! Her Mom is…well…odd…. She’s a sort of recluse, has a wicked sense of humor and then just disappears. Bee’s Dad is a sort of Bill Gates-type so there’s plenty of money for Bee’s tony private school, Mom’s out-sourced Indian virtual assistant and oh, yes, a family trip to Antarctica. But then Bernadette, aka Bee’s Mom, just leaves….. I laughed out loud so many times reading this. Bernadette’s mutterings are spot on. Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple.



Ok, in this one there IS a son, too. First–cancel your book club’s next pick and grab Elizabeth Egan’s A Window Opens. You’ll thank me. She gets it. This is who we are today if we are on the “works outside the home” side of the insane and unnecessary Mommy war. Here, at last, is the story of a marriage that works–not perfect, but no one is bonking the babysitter or getting flashbacks from a traumatic childhood [NO I am NOT belittling anyone]. Alice Pearse gets the opportunity of a lifetime. Cue the Rolling Stones–take your pick, Satisfaction or You Can’t Always Get…. Her husband, Nicholas has just quit his job at the sort of law firm beautifully captured in another debut I’m still raving over, BigLaw, a world I know all too well. She nailed that too.

The children, Margot, Oliver and Georgie are normal kids–no too precious for words soliloquies, no one wise beyond their years, just REAL. That’s huge in any type book. They do have the world’s perfect babysitter, but hey! some people really do luck-out in that game. Supportive friends? Sure, but they wax and wane as real friendships do.

Real. Are you getting it? This book is just plain real. Go RIGHT NOW and put this one  on your Kindle. Or, if you are blessed with a Blue Owl type Indie bookshop, go there, sip a latte and buy it in carbon-based output. Ha! Did I mention the dream job puts the CULT (well in lingo anyway) into “Corporate Cult-ure”? (Does the phrase “Going forward…” make anyone else want to play that Urban Bomber video game?) You’ll also want to see Dave Egger’s The Circle–similar vibe and another great read.

A Window Opens by Elizabeth Egan–read it to remember the GREAT moments of being a Mom with a career or in memory of that day when you walked out of the office and never looked back–either way, you’ll love it. One teeny, tiny odd thing that will stay with me for life–just what does the “drumstick succulence” of a toddler’s leg mean……? Memorable. Never mind. Just read the book!! (Not much of this review was originally posted on February 26, 2016).

Do you have any favorite Mother and Daughter novels? Leave me a comment with the titles.

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