Celebrating Literacy

The good folks at Grammarly recently compiled information to raise awareness of global literacy and to celebrate International Literacy Day. It's a reminder of just how lucky we are, how much progress has been made, and far we still have to go. 

In Boise, we're fortunate to have wonderful organizations like the Learning Lab. Grammarly recommends First Book and Reading is Fundamental. Illiteracy is everyone's problem, if you agree, I hope you'll considering donating a small amount of your money or time to one of these organizations. You can also check with your local library about volunteering as a literacy coach. 

"Illiteracy is more than just a lack of reading skills. Around the world, it is a clear predictor of poverty, illness, and disempowerment. It’s not a problem confined to the developing world, either. Even in the United States, there are thirty-two million adults who cannot read, according to the U.S. Department of Education."
  - Grammarly's Brittney Ross
Literacy Day
This infographic is courtesy of https://www.grammarly.com/plagiarism-checker.

Crimes Against English

I performed this at Boise's Egyptian Theatre as an Ignite Boise presenter. And yes, my in-laws provided some of the material.

Like your language edgier? Check out Swear Thee Well

PSA: Scissors + Genitals = Not Recommended

I buy scissors like some women buy shoes. Every room should have a pair of scissors. They date back to Ancient Egypt. And we still need them. 

If I went on some crazy reality survival show (no thank you, by the way) and got to take only one thing, I'd take scissors. No, strike that. I'd take wine. Because chances are I'm not surviving any survival situation, so I might as well enjoy a beverage. But still, I need scissors in my life, which I feel is a series of confrontations with things I need to hack my way into. 

I recently found an opening for yet another addition to my scissor collection. So I went to the store and zeroed in on this pair.

Nice, huh? They also work as a bottle opener, so what's not to love?
But when you take the scissors out of the package?

You're left with a nice package! 

Did no one else notice this before these were put into production? Or was it meant to add extra value? 

Does Fiskars also make sex toys, and this is some sort of subliminal messaging so that I'll buy my scissors and then head over to Ye Olde Naughty Shoppe for a Fiskars brand pleasure tool? 

And if I did purchase a possibly battery-powered playmate, could it also open a beer for me? I found all of these questions both intriguing and entertaining, and started flashing the above packaging at friends to get their reaction. 

The women thought it was hilarious. The men did, too, but carried with them an added, subtle unease. It took me a while to figure out why. They're fine with a genital rendition next to the words "Lifetime Warranty" and "Comfortable Ergonomic Handles" and even "Bottle Opener"

But having the package outline also next to the words "Scissors" and "Blades" and "Knife" and "Wire Cutter" makes them pucker just a bit. Before they know it the name "Bobbitt" comes to mind, or the recent headlines of a Georgia man who cut off his own penis to stop masturbating, to which I can only respond... nope, turns out I have no response. 

Fiskars, you make a great product, but when it comes to packaging, let's keep the penises at a nice safe distance. With the possible exception of a troubled Georgia man, I can't think of a single Dick who wants his Lifetime Warranty called into question. 

Want more creepy content?
Check out An Open Letter to DB

Want less creepy content?
Check out my new site Vagabonding with Kids

Success, Failure, and Other Myths of the Writing Life

Need a little perspective regarding your writing career? Check out Success, Failure, and Other Myths of the Writing Life. This was a speech first delivered at the 2015 Idaho Writers and Readers Rendezvous, which I've recorded again here. Enjoy!

Want more on writing? 

Check out my new site: Vagabonding with Kids

10 Reasons My MIL Is One of My BFFs

This piece first appeared In the Powder Room.
It’s long been fashionable to bitch about the MIL. And it’s sad, really, that women should have such a contentious relationship because they’re connected by a man they both (ostensibly) love. I had no reason to believe that I’d be exempt from falling into that hostile connection. At times, I am potty-mouthed and opinionated. And in my early twenties, when I met my future husband, I was even worse. I was narrow-minded, offensive, and not great at holding my liquor. I had (and have) good qualities, but still, I was rough around the edges and likely not what most women would hope for in a daughter-in-law.
Fast-forward fifteen years. My mother-in-law is, no doubt, one of my best friends. Here are ten reasons why:
10. She’s Dynamic. My MIL is a generous, positive, inspiring force, and a shameless flirt. Her energy is contagious. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s true: she makes the world a better place.
9. She’s Flawed. She’s scattered, disorganized, and rushes when she’d be better served to slow down, which she doesn’t know how to do. One must be watchful when she’s using an oven, and it’s best not to leave important documents in her care. I’m grateful for these flaws, because perfection is annoying.
8. She’s Badass. At the age of 64 she kayaked the Colorado River for twenty-two days with twelve thirty-year-olds. She parties in short dresses and go-go boots, and won’t say no if you offer her a shot of something.
7. She Cares. About everything and everyone. She cares deeply and sincerely and she acts upon her compassion. She cares enough to put the needs and wants of others before her own. Sure, it can be awkward when she starts massaging the shoulders of someone she just met, but she means well.
10 Reasons My MIL is One of My BFFs by A. K. Turner via In the Powder Room6. She’s Ripped. She’s a retired physical education teacher. At her current age of 68, my MIL rocks a bikini and teaches Zumba. And what’s even cooler than that is that she doesn’t try to make me like Zumba.
5. She Entertains. She misuses supposably and thinks dwelve is a word. She tries to tell my kids about the story of “Johnny and the Beanstalk.” She begins or ends every sentence with “at this juncture.” Example: At this juncture there’s supposably an event we could go to, or we can dwelve into that later.
4. She Laughs at Herself. When we dwelve into important topics, like whether we have enough wine on hand at this juncture, and I begin laughing at her malapropisms, she laughs right along with me. And then we stock up on wine.
3. She’s Always Game. She’s happily accompanied me to luncheons of no interest to her and which could only have bored her to tears. She’ll join me in taking the kids to float the river or see a movie she’s had to sit through many times before. We once went to a drag show. She’s game for anything. And that’s just how we roll.
2. She Has Endless Energy. In the past five years, my daughters have asked her to play hide-and-seek, blow bubbles, read a story, play Candy Land, watch them stand on one foot, and take them to the potty. They have asked her each of these things approximately 80 billion times. She accommodates them with enthusiasm. Every. Single. Time.
1. She’s Tolerant. I’ve mellowed somewhat in the past fifteen years, but my inner bitch still rages on occasion. My mother-in-law doesn’t bristle or take offense or cluck her tongue in disapproval. She looks for ways to help and relieve stress, even when I don’t deserve it.
I’m sure there are plenty of MILs out there who fit the stereotype. And I feel for the DILs who grit their teeth and self-medicate their way through every family gathering (I would, too). But I’m one of the lucky ones. Our family gatherings are a blast. Instead of resenting my mother-in-law, I happily raise my glass to her, in cheers and thanks.
Want more family stuff? 
Check out The One Thing I Force on My Kids

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Vagabonding with Kids

In the past year or so, I've been consciously moving the focus of my life and work toward travel. It's been increasingly important to me (and my husband) to experience the world with our children. We are intrigued and drawn to the logistical puzzle of figuring out how to live and work in another country for two months or more, and with limited resources (it's amusing when people assume we're rich because we returned from Australia and are heading to Brazil; the reality is that we go wherever we have a free place to stay and our diet often consists of pb&j and ramen).

So I'd like to introduce my new baby...

This site will have all past and future travel blogs, with everything from staycations in your hometown to homeschooling in another country. If you have any interest in traveling, family vacations, or the digital nomad and lifestyle entrepreneur movements, I hope you'll check it out.

Here are the links...

I'll maintain my existing site and social media, because I still need an outlet for my foul-mouthed, inappropriate self, but I hope you'll consider following this new site, as well.