Stories from Yaya’s house

August 1, 2008 | 34 comments

I’m packing up to head down to Houston this afternoon to spend the weekend at my mother-in-law’s house. Yes, that would be Yaya. Imagine me taking slow, deep breaths as I type this in an effort to remain calm and not start freaking out about the 436, 841 things that could possibly go wrong.

Since I’m busy packing up the entire contents of our house and trying to cram it into our minivan (at least that’s what it feels like — traveling with three under four is no small feat), I’m going to re-run a post I wrote for an old blog during a week that I spent at Yaya’s house a couple years ago:

This post was originally published on October 30, 2005

My own personal reality TV show:
5 tales from Yaya’s house

This morning I woke up to her yelling into the phone, clearly getting someone straightened out on an issue on which they disagreed. Towards the end of the call the person on the other end acquiesced, and she accepted his apology and his promise to do better in the future. Later when I asked her who she’d been talking to she casually said it was the mayor. I’m not sure what she’d called him about, but evidently this is not the first time she’s called him to set him straight on various problems she has with their city.

We were at Luby’s and she found the service to be unsatisfactory, which always makes me start scanning the room for the nearest place to hide. She ended up loudly telling the waitress, the manager and various people at other tables next to us that the server at the salad station was “more useless than t*ts on a boarhog.”

She was telling someone on the phone that her son (my husband) has degrees from Yale, Columbia, and this other school that she’s not so sure is a reputable institution because she’d never heard of it, Stanbrook or Stancliff or something like that [referring to Stanford].

A few months ago when I sent her some pictures of my son (her only grandchild) she said that at least twenty people had agreed that he was the cutest baby in the whole world. When I asked how 20+ people had seen these pictures since she’d just received them in the mail that day, she explained that she’d immediately gone down to the local Wal-Mart and started flagging people down, demanding that they tell her whether this was not in fact the cutest baby they had ever seen. She stayed for about an hour, until she was convinced that she had empirically proved my son’s cuteness.

Her neighborhood is a bit rough, and some local youths who were rumored to be gang members had been going around knocking over trash cans and vandalizing houses. Her neighbor came by to warn her about these boys so that she could hurry inside to safety if she saw them coming.

The next day she heard a “ruckus” outside and looked to see that they had knocked over her trash cans. She bolted outside after them. When they started to run she chased them down, eventually cornering them. She forcibly held them there while she called the police and didn’t leave until they were in custody.

Her neighbor was horrified at the story, pointing out that they know where she lives. “What if they come after you?” the neighbor asked. My mother-in-law chewed her toothpick for a moment while she thought about it, then just shrugged and said, “they’d better bring a gun.”


  1. SuburbanCorrespondent

    I love her.

  2. MikeL

    My mother-in-law chewed her toothpick for a moment while she thought about it, then just shrugged and said, “they’d better bring a gun.”

    That made me laugh out loud!

  3. tara

    Thanks for the laugh, and um, good luck? (The Walmart story is the best!)

  4. Soul Pockets

    I officially love Yaya!


  5. Hairline Fracture

    Oh my goodness, she is something else! I especially loved that she “empirically proved” your son’s cuteness.

  6. Momma Mary

    Yaya sounds great!! Albeit a bit scary. I love that she chased down the gang members, and her attitude about the whole thing. ๐Ÿ™‚ I have a family friend who may, in fact, be this same woman, only living in Nebraska.

  7. Someone Being Me

    Sounds like a fiesty lady. Good luck with her and the Houston humidity.

  8. Doris

    Wow. How I would love to meet YaYa. Although, admittedly, I’d be a little scared.

    Have a great trip!

  9. Jeana

    I love these stories! But isn’t this the same person you prayed the Psalm with recently? I think that’s my favorite story.

  10. Anne Marie

    Very colorful, she sounds like a force of nature.

  11. Katie

    I love it! Awesome.

    My mom was just relating to me a story about my granny last night. Apparently (sometime after my grandfather died) she kept getting obscene phone calls. She hung a whistle by the phone and the next time the guy called, she blew it as loud as she could into the phone! He never called back. My granny and your MIL have a similar spirit, I think, my granny just prefers to be more subtle ๐Ÿ˜›

  12. Lauren

    Oh my gosh. Too funny. Good luck!

  13. Anonymous

    Sounds like an awesome lady.


  14. happy appy wife

    What a fire-cracker! Fodder for great stories – Yaya needs her own sitcom.

    Good luck, travel safely, and much peace!

  15. Anonymous

    YaYa sounds great – you sure have some great stories.

    Packing the van for a roadtrip with young kids is certainly a challenge – perhaps this calls for a post with the best tips and tricks to survive such a venture!?

    My wife and I now have 5 kids – age 5, 4, 3, 1, and 6 weeks. With the pack-n-plays, bags, diapers, toys, snacks, and all that must go; it boggles the mind how much has to fit in the car! It forces one to become an expert on packing and organization.

    Have a good trip!


  16. Heather

    And I thought I had THE m-i-l. I think I’ll take the passive/aggressive two-faced one that I have and stop wishing for an upgrade!

  17. Jen Rouse

    Oh, my goodness! Sounds like a formidable woman!

  18. elizabeth

    What a character! I have relatives that are hard to be around sometime, but then I try to look at them through the lens of my daughter. Kids love nutty relatives, and it gives them memories for a lifetime.

  19. midlife mommy

    Wow! Sounds like one tough cookie.

  20. Anonymous

    Dpn’t worry about the humidity. The heat is gonna kill ya.

  21. foursure

    ***lauging out loud***

  22. Esther

    Omigosh, this is funny! And to think she’s a real person and your mother-in-law to boot! She’d be a great subject for a book someday. ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. Amity

    Oh, thank you for the laugh this morning. After a night of vomit, I needed it. Also, blessings for your trip!

  24. Anonymous

    God bless her for chasing down hooligans! I’ll bet they gave her place a wide berth after that (and maybe even started to wonder about the rest of the neighbors)!

  25. Kathleen

    Yaya seems like a cool lady.

    Loved the mayor story — my MIL bought a fax machine years ago so she could contact CSPAN and FoxNews to tell them what they missed.

    Have a safe trip!

  26. Emily (Laundry and Lullabies)

    Oh. My. Word. Good luck!

  27. Beth

    Take Luck ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. Kiwi Nomad 2008

    Enjoy the trip and happy holidays!

  29. jill

    The Stanford comment had me in stitches. YaYa is a hoot. I love the fact that she has no fear. What a gift.

  30. Rebecca

    What if she stumbles upon your blog??

  31. Jennifer F.

    Rebecca – she does know about this blog, so she may have read it. The only reason I think she might not have is because she didn’t call and tell me and start yelling, “Jennifer, tell them about the time that I set that fool straight down on Adams St…” ๐Ÿ™‚

  32. Misfit

    Yaya reminds me of one of my favorite movie characters, Louisa 'Ouiser' Boudreaux played by Shirley MacLaine in Steel Magnolias. I would bet that there is never a dull moment when Yaya is around.

  33. Melanie

    We all need a YaYa!

  34. Teresa

    Oh heavens above…these YaYa stories scare me. Because I realize that’ll be ME in thirty years. I’ve discovered that kids drive you crazy and no one drives you back, and that knowledge combined with admiration of and identification with whatever it is that compels YaYa makes me a little worried. Hopefully others will find me charming, or at least too crazy to mess with.

    You are lucky to have a mother-in-law whose antics are amusing rather than disturbing!

    I love your blog – I visit when i’ve had a bad day and you crack me up. I realize, “at least I’ve never seen a scorpion in my house.”

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