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

Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and Goodreads.

Subscribe to my mailing list

* indicates required

You can also email me at

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. 


Family Vacations: Taking "Kidfluence" Into Account

This piece first appeared on The Huffington Post
A recent survey from HomeAway looks at how much "kidfluence" comes into play when families plan their vacations.
HomeAway, the world's leading online vacation rental marketplace, has found that kids, or "kidfluencers," wield a growing influence on vacation planning.
Their findings come from surveying over 2,800 kids (ages six to 18) and their parents in the U.S. and Europe. I think it's wise that they didn't take into account the input of children under the age of six. We took our children to Australia last year and have a trip planned for Brazil later this year. In both cases, when we told our daughters the news, my five-year-old's first question was, "Do they have snacks there?" I assured her that snacks are a worldwide phenomenon. I also now know that when it comes to travel, she's as happy with 7-11 as South America.
The vast majority of parents (85 percent U.S., 76 percent UK, 86 percent France, 95 percent Germany, 94 percent Spain) give their children some say in deciding where they want to go on vacation. Millennial parents in the U.S. are most likely to give kids full control of where they want to go on vacation.
Full control seems awfully risky. Especially if your kids still believe in Santa, because you know the North Pole is going to top the list. When I asked my eight-year-old where she would go if she could go anywhere in the world, she gave it a careful minute or two of consideration before declaring "Bowling." The study continues with statistics on how important traveling with pets and extended family is to both children and their parents, as well as what percentages of children want to stay in castles and tree houses. The most important accommodation feature to both kids and adults is a pool, though they also noted that the kids wanted a water slide, too. But why stop there? If you want to stay in a castle with access to a pool and water slide, why not go ahead and throw in a ferris wheel? Perhaps a unicorn petting zoo?

This is an actual vacation rental. You can view it here.
Among younger kids in the U.S., theme parks reign supreme, but older kids are more likely to choose international travel for their next family vacation.
My daughters are still under the age of ten, but we're trying to bypass theme parks altogether. I know that I've had positive theme park experiences, but they don't come to mind when I hear the words "theme park". Instead my throat tightens with a vague sense of panic. I think of crowds, lines, sweating, and maxed out credit cards. And yet, I have a friend from high school who takes her family to Disney World three times a year. She assures me that the experience is above and beyond that of a regular theme park and is as fun for the adults as it is for the kids. I was unconvinced until she mentioned exceptional food and wine. Now I'm considering it.
59 percent of parents say an important factor is having plenty of beds, so the family doesn't have to share.
Wait. Only 59 percent? And what do you mean by share? Because the idea of my family of four sharing one big bed gives me worse palpitations than half-price day at a water park. Maybe the 41 percent of surveyed parents unconcerned with enough beds have destinations in mind so exotic and phenomenal that they're willing to sacrifice a decent night of sleep, because there's no way you're having a pleasant night's rest with a six-year-old kicking you in the back. On the other hand, if the sharing only requires my daughters to co-sleep with one another, then I'm all for it, because they actually view that as a perk. The survey concludes with how children rank the embarrassment level of their parents' clothing. Swimsuits top the list, followed by the fanny pack. Most of us have accepted that when it comes to how we look in our bathing suits, it is what it is. But maybe we should let a little "kidfluence" in and retire the fanny pack. Click here for the full HomeAway press release.

For more on traveling with kids, check out On Returning Home

"Look at the view! Look at the beach!" we demanded, but they were more excited about finding a big stick.

Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and Goodreads.

Subscribe to my mailing list

* indicates required

You can also email me at