When I was eight years old, I caught the bus home from school every day. Both of my parents worked full-time so every afternoon I took one of the school’s three buses home to my house where my grandmother was waiting for me. I still remember that I rode on bus #2. I still remember that Melvin was our bus driver. And I still remember the intimidating girl who took her daily frustrations out on me each and every day on that bus.

She knew what she was doing. She knew I’d be sitting with my friend every afternoon. And she knew that my friend lived at the front end of the route while she and I lived closer to the end. So she’d wait until my friend was off the bus and some of the route was completed so there were empty spaces around me. Then she would make her way up or down the bus aisle to my position. It didn’t matter where I sat. She’d always find me.

And she would sit either beside me or in front of me where she could stare directly into my eyes and whisper so no one could hear her except me. “You’re ugly. Do you know how ugly you are? Nobody at the whole school likes you.” She seldom took a breath and, since I never spoke up, she just continued until it was time to get off the bus. “It makes me sick to look at you. You disgust me. I don’t want you to ride this bus anymore. Do you understand me?”

I’m ashamed to admit that I sat there frozen, day after day, fighting back tears as I looked  into the eyes of one of the meanest people I’d ever met. I didn’t even know her. We were several grades apart. Why me? Why was she was she picking on me?

I never said anything. Ever. I was afraid. Our families knew each other. We lived in the same neighborhood. We attended the same church. And everybody loved her. At age eight, I feared anything I did or said would only make things worse for me every afternoon on that bus.

So I did nothing. I said nothing. I just sat there and took it. For the entire school year.

* * * * * * * * * *

Why am I writing about this story today? Because I’m partnering with an incredible organization called Give Forward, the world’s number one fundraising site for assisting people in need, to help share their mission.


Since 2008, Give Forward has helped families raise over $120 million dollars. Their main goal is to eliminate the all-too-familiar bystander effect by serving as an outlet for both those who need help and those who can give it.

Currently, Give Forward has a campaign running to help the family of the ALS Ice Bucket prank victim in Bay Village, Ohio.  The purpose of this fundraiser is to offer the victim and his family the support they deserve right now and spread a message of love, rather than hate. Give Forward wants him to know he is a hero for finding the courage to talk about what happened and maybe even prevent the next instance of bullying.

To read more about the victim’s story and make a donation, please click here.

* * * * * * * * * *


To the eight-year-old girl who didn’t have the courage to speak up for herself back in the day, know that your negative experiences were not in vain.  In decades to come, they will help you cope when similar issues and problems arise with your own children. And that people DO like you.

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{September 23, 2014}   Dear Hot Pocket Corporation

Dear Hot Pocket Corporation,

ATTN: Chef Lucien Vendôme of the Nestlé Culinary Center

I’m writing you today to ask a question. As I was shopping in a local grocery store last week, I came across something concerning your products that prompted me to write this letter.

Despite the fact that I’m a big Jim Gaffigan fan (I know you know exactly who he is), my family is a frequent buyer of Hot Pockets. My hands-down favorite is the Four-Cheese Pizza Lean Pocket. Besides being delicious (have I mentioned my crippling obsession with cheese?), they are also extremely convenient for my 14-year-old son to prepare independently when our family schedule gets a little hairy. Basketball clinics, volleyball practice, dance lessons, parent/teacher conferences and preparing for an Honors Geometry test all in one night … well, it’s just crazy, am I right?

Anyway, back to my question. I was shopping the frozen section in the grocery store when I noticed something. As I mentioned above, I’m partial to the Lean Pocket Four-Cheese Pizza variety. Because I get to eat cheese … four kinds …. and still feel like I’m counting my calories and keeping a handle on things. Seriously, Parmesan, Fontina, Mozzarella and Provolone? They’ve always made me very happy. And they’ve always been more than enough.

Until today …


… when I realized that regular Hot Pockets offer FIVE-Cheese Pizza.

What? (sound of needle scratching across record) What the heck kind of cheese are you adding to this Hot Pocket that suddenly pushes it over the edge of dietary responsibility? And how can we tweak the Lean Pocket recipe to get ME that much-deserved fifth cheese?

In an effort to help you, the Hot Pocket Corporation, accommodate my request, I did a little research before writing this letter. Because I needed to identify this mysterious fifth cheese and determine how we could get it into my Lean Pocket without compromising its weight watching properties.

And, in my quest for this Hot Pocket Holy Grail (do you guys hear coconut shells, too?), I uncovered something rather fascinating. There is NOT actually a fifth cheese. Rather there is a fourth and fifth cheese. Because, for the Five-Cheese Pizza, you still have the Parmesan, Mozzarella and Provolone of the lesser Four-Cheese variety but you’ve removed the Fontina and replaced it with Romano and Cheddar.

Now you’re just messing with us.

So, you know what? Now that I know about the huge selection of fine cheeses available in your factories, I’m going to revise my original request. I am now asking … nay, challenging the Hot Pocket Corporation to create (wait for it) the world’s first SIX-Cheese Pizza Hot Pocket. Or … if you dare … Lean Pocket.

I know you can do it. Let me know what you think. And all I seek as payment for this groundbreaking idea is one free box. Wait, no! Two! TWO FREE BOXES. Yep. That’s my final offer.

Until I hear from you, I will be waiting on pins and needles. And relegated to eating dinner pastry with only four … sad … cheeses.


Michele Robert Poche

P.S. Please respond. I have readers. Never mind how many. And they want to hear from you, too.

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I took my daughter to a concert this week.

To see Demi Lovato. As well as Christina Perri, Becky G and MKTO. I don’t remember ever seeing three opening acts back in my day. Of course, I don’t remember anyone exiting through the floor either so maybe I just wasn’t paying attention.

Yes, I know. I’m supposed to pretend like I just hated it. Because it was …

“Too Loud!”


“Kids today have no idea what REAL music is all about!!”


The STUPID GIRL rockin’ out behind me elbowed me in the skull like 37 times!!!

Whatever, stupid girl.  Because, if I’m being honest, I loved it. The whole thing. Of course, going to concerts was a huge rite of passage for me as a young person. I started going as early as age 12 and, until recently, I still had all my old ticket stubs, programs and even a few t-shirts. (Thanks again for that, Hurricane Katrina). Most of my memorabilia is all gone now, literally washed away. But … no act of God can take away my memories, which all came flooding back as I sat in that arena this week blaring out my eardrums and scream-singing to the music. Some things never change.

Then again, others really … really do.



What was the best part of the concert you ask? Easy. When Viv turned to me at a quieter moment in the show, smiled and said “I’m really glad we did this.” Made all 37 blows to the head totally worth it.


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Alas, my friends, it’s time for Mel and me to put the cap on the old ketchup bottle. Oft called the little writing prompt that could, Ketchup With Us was born over drinks (and I’m pretty sure some fancy cheese and olives) in New York City back in 2012. It began as a quirky idea that challenged two friends to don a ketchup costume in as many crazy and inappropriate situations and places as could be imagined. We definitely tested the limits our own creativity, courage and dignity along the way. Because Ketchup is and has always been about thinking outside the box bottle … and not taking yourself too seriously, something I suspect we’re all guilty of from time to time.

Over the last two years as human ketchup bottles,

We’ve visited historical places …


… and followed in some pretty famous footsteps.

We’ve been introduced to a slew of amazing celebrities …


… and some pretty great locals, too.

We’ve learned how to kick ass and take names …


…. how to serve our fellow man


… and how to cause and feel pain.


We’ve gotten into trouble here and there …


… where things got a little hairy


But they always settled down again. Because KetchupWithUs has never been about stress.


But it’s always been about two fools in ketchup costumes coming up with new ways to write and have fun doing it.




Thanks for riding shotgun, Mel.


Just remember, today is not goodbye. After all, Mel and I still each own a (smelly) ketchup costume and you just never know where those things might resurface. But, for now, we’re taking a little break and hoping that everyone will stay in touch. We’ve had the honor of meeting some very talented people over the course of our two-year journey and we don’t plan to let go of you without a fight. Or at least a little light begging.

In the words of my ridiculously-supportive friend, Mel … “Keep writing. Keep creating. Keep laughing.”

Love, Mel and Michele

* * * * * * * * * *

Our esteemed Ketchup With Us Featured Writer from last time is …

Elleroy was here

* * * * * * * * * *


Click here to read how this foolishness all began.




<img src=”https://olddognewtits.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/ketchuplabel125copy2.jpg” alt=”olddognewtits.com” width=”125″ height=”125″ />


Share your favorite or most popular post of your entire writing career.  Or, as always, whatever you want.


Thanks for spreading the love with our little venture.

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Yes, that’s right. The annual Lay’s “Do Us A Flavor” potato chip tasting contest is in full swing again. (awkward pause) Wait, seriously? You guys didn’t know? Don’t you watch the nightly newscheck the AP wire … follow  your Twitter feed? It’s all anybody’s talking about.

Last year’s big winner was “Cheesy Garlic Bread,” a perfectly capable little potato chip. It beat out contenders “Chicken & Waffles” and “Sriracha” to become the newest permanent flavor added to the chip aisle in your local grocery store. And all three flavor creators received some pretty nice financial prizes, by the way.

Now, in 2014, we have not three but FOUR contestants. This is huge, my friends. Huge! And, never ones to be left out, my family has jumped right in to help pick a new winner.

Here is the new slate:


Here are your judges:

  • My son (Dean)
  • My daughter (Vivien)
  • My husband (Dave)
  • My mother (Phyllis)
  • My father (Bill)
  • Myself

And here are our immediate, uncut and completely honest reactions:


Dean: “Awful.”

Vivien: “Ewww.”

Dave: “Tastes like a chip that was left on a plate with some old tiramisu.”

Phyllis: “Yummy … I think.”

Bill: “Not for me. But I’m not a coffee person.”

Me: “Wow. They’re really not my cup of … coffee.” (canned laughter from studio audience that exists in my head)



Dean: “Too tangy.”

Vivien: “Tastes like an awkward smoothie.”

Dave: “Tastes like they’ve been sprayed with some kind of weird, fruity perfume.”

Phyllis: “Terrible.”

Bill: “They’re … okay.”

Me: “Umm …. they’re a little odd, but I don’t mind. They’re ‘eatable.’ You know what? Just pass me the bag.”



Dean: “Too strong.”

Vivien: “Hot.”

Dave: “Sushi chip.”

Phyllis: “Too salty.”

Bill: “Strange.”

Me: “Not as spicy as I expected. Still, I hate wasabi so this chip never really stood a chance. He’s the underdog.” (insert theme music to Rudy)



Dean: “Easily the best.”

Vivien: “Love it.”

Dave: “Really good. This is what a chip is supposed to taste like.”

Phyllis: “Great taste, but too salty.”

Bill: “Good.”

Me: “Typical flavor. It’s a very likable potato chip. But also very predictable. Because who doesn’t like bacon? Come on, Lay’s. Challenge me.”

* * * * * * * * * *

So … what happens next? Well, the world has until October 18, 2014 to vote for its FLAVORITE. … Sorry, I couldn’t resist. Feel free to use that new term liberally, Lay’s Corporation. And send me $10 via PayPal every time you do. Or at least a bag of chips. But none of your freaky flavors. I want the GOOD stuff.

After that date, a winner will emerge to join the ranks of the other time-tested Lay’s flavors on the shelves of destiny.

Because …

* * * * * * * * * *

Oh, but I am SO submitting a flavor next year ….

* * * * * * * * * *

My apologies to the competing flavor creators as well as to Lay’s for the negative commentary. Here at ODNT, we promise always to tell the truth. Even though sometimes the truth hurts.

And you want to punch it squarely in its stupid, smug face.

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What would you say if I told you I knew a grown woman who was totally pumped about the upcoming release of Dolphin Tale 2?


Well, no. I’m not naming any names. But here’s a hint.


Of course, it doesn’t hurt that …..

A. My girl and I loved the first movie. We just re-watched last month.

B. Along with Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd and many others, Harry Connick, Jr. is one of the big stars of DT2. Hello? You guys DO know he’s from NOLA just like me, right? We just love our homeboys.

C. And guess what? Thanks to Grace Hill Media, my friend, Mel and I are AMBASSADORS for the movie. That means it’s our job to make sure you buy a ticket. So seriously, put down that kid, grab your TV remotes and get going! … Wait. Strike that. … Reverse it.

Still need convincing? Check out the trailer.

Dolphin Tale 2

Opens Friday, September 12, 2014

See you there!

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And why exactly is everyone staring at my teeth these days? Easy. Because I was recently contacted by the customer-oriented good people at Smile Brilliant to conduct a product review of their high-end tooth bleaching system. Spoiler: I loved it.

* * * * * * * * * *

Raise your hand if you’ve ever spent any alone time in the bathroom bearing your teeth at your own reflection in the mirror and wishing you had a whiter smile. To those of you sitting on your hands, I think you’re lying. Everyone wants whiter teeth. And everyone needs whiter teeth. Unless, of course, you played a paleontologist on TV in the 90s.

But enough of my tomfoolery. Let me tell you about Smile Brilliant. That’s why we’re all here, isn’t it?


When their company rep first contacted me, I was over the moon. Like I said before, who doesn’t want whiter teeth? So I accepted the job and was immediately sent a product reviewer starter kit.


The kit contained everything I needed to take professional, dentist-quality impressions of my upper and lower teeth (as well as the gels I would be using with my custom trays once I received them). I got to work immediately.


To make the impressions …

  1. Open one BASE paste and one CATALYST paste.
  2. Blend together.
  3. Press into mold and insert in mouth immediately.

(How great do I look here, by the way? … Hello? Christmas card!)

Notice how my hands are super blurry in that middle picture? That’s because you have to MOVE FAST. Once the pastes are combined, they waste no time hardening. Herein lies the reason that you get three sets of the stuff with your starter kit (see picture above). Because some people are spastic and will mess up the first batch by working too slowly.

How did *I* do, you ask? Well, let’s just say all six of my paste containers were empty after I made my impressions. (Sometimes I’m surprised I can dress myself in the morning.) Anyway, here’s what I sent over to Smile Brilliant in their convenient, postage-paid packaging.


And here’s what I got back only days later.


Before opening any of the gel packages, I tried on my new mouth trays. And they fit perfectly. (I wonder if Smile Brilliant makes jeans.) And, with that, I was ready to start illuminating my smile.

To whiten your teeth …

  1. Apply desensitizing gel (if you choose to purchase it) along inner front rim of both trays and wear for 20-60 minutes. 
  2. Apply bleaching gel in the same way and wear for 20 minutes to 3 hours. 

I’m a compulsive overachiever so I maxed out both times and completed the full process three days in a row. And I honestly saw improvement as early as the first day. From there, I whitened every other day until I hit the two week mark (for a total of nine treatments). And that was it. That was all I needed. Unless I want my teeth to glow under a black light. (see Ross Geller above)

Personally, I think my before and after pictures speak for themselves.


(hold for laughter)




(you ARE laughing, right?)




Fine, fine. I couldn’t resist. Here are my REAL before and afters.


Seriously, they look AMAZING, don’t they?






Tired of hearing about MY experience?

Wish you could throw a bucket of indelible purple grape juice directly at my glistening teeth?

You needn’t stew in your own filthy envy anymore.  Because I’m giving away a gift certificate to Smile Brilliant for $119.95 right here to one lucky, yellow-toothed winner! That’s enough to get everything you need to make your own custom trays plus three syringes of bleaching gel (each good for three uses).

Click HERE to win.

You have until Tuesday, September 9, 2014 to enter.

Okay, let’s recap everything. Shall we?

  1. I LOVE this product and literally noticed a difference after one use.
  2. When making your dental impressions, work fast and have a napkin handy for, well, drool. Did I mention that earlier? (sigh)
  3. Remember that just because you can wear the bleach-filled dental trays for three straight hours doesn’t mean you should wear them for three straight hours. This stuff is the real deal and overkill can result in a little gum tenderness.
  4. Enter the contest, fools. White teeth could be yours by the end of the month!


* * * * * * * * * *

The ODNT Product Review Procedure:

  • Sometimes I say no … because I am not interested in the product or I don’t think it’s a good fit for me or this blog.
  • Sometimes I say yes … but determine, upon usage, that the product is a fail. So I inform the company and offer the option to part ways rather than receive the bad press. This offer is always accepted.
  • Sometimes I say yes … and I try the product and LOVE it. So I write my review. And you can rest assured that every word, every picture and every video is 100% true.

* * * * * * * * *

Because MamaKat asked me to talk about something I learned last month.

What’s mine? Home tooth whitening products aren’t all snake oil. This stuff really works!

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It’s time for THE SECOND TO LAST KETCHUP WITH US, hosted by Mel and me. The final KWU will run on September 15. Maybe it’ll come back again. But, for now, we just need a breather. Plus that ketchup costume is starting to smell.

* * * * * * * * * *

Dear Mel, 

What can I say? Well, I guess since it’s September 1st, I’ll start with HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I hope you’re having a wonderful birthday/Labor Day combo platter with the family. (I wonder … does it suck to have your birthday on Labor Day? I mean … what if you want to go to the post office? Or visit your local bank branch? Ooh, or have your garbage collected? You’re screwed! Well, here’s hoping none of these activities was on your birthday wish list.)

Anyway, I just wanted to take a moment to tell you how great it’s been doing KetchupWithUs, our very unconventional writing prompt, with you for two years now. (Yes, that’s right, America. KetchupWithUs is also celebrating a birthday today.) There is nobody else in the world with whom I’d rather ambush the Fifth Avenue Prada store, heckle Pat Sajak over drinks or cause confusion at the site of the Liberty Bell  … dressed as a giant ketchup bottle … than you. Your creativity,  your spunk and your sheer willingness to do just about anything (and look like a complete ass doing it) with me is mind-blowing. And I just wanted you to know how amazing and integral you are to me every single day.

Here’s to the next big adventure. I LOVE YOU, MEL BUGAJ!!! (Great, now everyone thinks I’m gay. … Not that there’s anything wrong with that!)

Your partner in dumbassery,



I really missed our annual trip this year. So start saving your pennies. Because next year … it’s so on! :)

* * * * * * * * * *

Our esteemed Ketchup With Us Featured Writer from last time is …


* * * * * * * * * *


Click here to read how this foolishness all began.




<img src=”https://olddognewtits.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/ketchuplabel125copy2.jpg” alt=”olddognewtits.com” width=”125″ height=”125″ />


WE give you a video to inspire you to KetchupWithUs.

YOU link up something Fabulous!

And, for the love of the genius who decided to make the first Monday in September a national holiday, TELL YOUR FRIENDS!

NOTE: Mel’s KWU post is coming soon. She’s currently on the road and thus unable to type.

Two hands on the wheel, Mel!

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{August 29, 2014}   Nine Years Ago Today …

Nine years ago today, I took my kids to the Children’s Museum of Houston.

Nine years ago today, I ate (for the first time in my life) Frito Pie, compliments of Residence Inn by Marriott.

Nine years ago today, I learned how to text, very proficiently.

Nine years ago today, I cried in the arms of a stranger named Shannon.

Nine years ago today, my family was the family submitting clothing sizes and the kind of basic wish lists that you usually only see during charity adopt-a-family drives during the holiday season.


What a difference nine years can make. Thanks again, Mound City Elementary.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Past Katrina Posts:

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{August 21, 2014}   Dear Thing Living Under My House

Dear Thing Living Under My House,

I know you’re there. I hear you outside of my house. At all hours of the day. And night. I work from home. And sometimes, when I’m alone and it’s very quiet, I can hear you. Scratching … clawing … dragging against the flimsy, manmade, laughable barrier between us. It is most unnerving. I don’t even know what you are.

Or who you are.


I know you’ve figured out that I am aware of your presence. Because you seem to vanish into thin air when I summon the courage to rush outside to catch a glimpse of you. But you’re very fast. And eerily stealthy. And I know that you’re watching me.

I know that every time I cower on my hands and knees, desperately clutching a flashlight and searching for answers, that you are staring directly into my eyes. Into my very soul. And there, cloaked in the shadows not moving or even breathing, you remain hidden just waiting for me to surrender and retreat into the house so that you may continue with your diabolical plan to drive me to madness.

For the record, I am not the only one who knows you’re here. It’s painfully obvious that the cat has known about you for weeks. Stupidly, I dismissed him and assumed we were dealing with the usual benign suspects. He tried to caution me time and again, stopping to howl at the window, at the exterior wall or (because my home is raised three feet off the ground for your convenience) at various points in the floor. He hears you.

But your main concern should not be my sharp-toothed, albeit somewhat sluggish, fifty-percent-declawed feline warrior. Rather it should be my husband. He doesn’t tire easily. And your mind games only awaken the inner obsession and insatiable thirst for justice that make up the very fiber of his identity. He will stop at nothing until he’s taken you. Dead or alive. It matters not.

See you in Hell,

The woman who lives directly above your lair

Written in response to MamaKat’s writing prompt asking about something that spooked me.

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et cetera

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