Vinnie & His Mom Have Different Ideas About Healthy Snacks


Vinnie’s mom prepares a healthy snack for the Grizzlies, AKA, Vinnie, Joey, Larry, and Sara. She carries a tray with a plate of apple slices covered with peanut butter, multigrain crackers and hummus, celery sticks loaded with cream cheese, and four snack sized boxes of raisons to the Grizzlies. Vinnie’s mom stops next to the group and says, ”It’s time for a break. I made some healthy snacks for you.”

Dexter is on it. He hears one of the ten important beagle vocabulary words, snack. He rises to his haunches and barks.

Vinnie’s mom says, “None for you, Dexter. You’re on a diet.”

Diet is not a word in the beagle vocabulary. He hears his name and that is good enough for him to anticipate food.

Vinnie looks at the tray and says, “Mom, can we go to Joey’s house for a snack?”

Vinnie’s mom rolls her eyes and says, “These snacks will give you the energy you need for your group.”

Sara picks an apple slice off the tray and says, “Thank you, Mrs. Ricci. I love to eat healthy snacks.”

Vinnie, Larry, and Joey look at each other. Vinnie bends over close to Joey and whispers something in his ear.

Vinnie’s mom says, “Vinnie, what did you say to Joey?”

“I was talking to Joey about healthy food, Mom. Why?”

Vinnie’s mom tries to give Vinnie a look, but Vinnie takes a hold of Rupert and puts Rupert in front of his face so Rupert is looking at Vinnie’s mom. Rupert says, “I’ll watch Vinnie for you, Mom. You got nothing to worry about.”

“Thank you, Rupert. I know I can count on you,” says Vinnie’s mom as she turns around returns to the house.

“Your mom talks to Rupert?” asked Sara.

“Yah. At first she was upset because she’s in Mensa and Rupert is smarter than anyone in Mensa. But, she got used to it. When she needs advice she talks to Rupert.”

“Can I hold Rupert,” asks Sara.

“No. Only people who go through the secret initiation can hold Rupert,” says Vinnie.

Larry and Joey look at each other. Joey says, “Can I go through the secret initiation, Vinnie?”

Vinnie answers, “Did you text your Mom about the snacks we need?”

“Yah. She is going to hand me a bag over the fence. Don’t get mad, but this stuff your mom made makes me wanna puke.”

“Me too,” says Larry.

Sara takes another slice of apple. She looks at Joey and Larry, “You two are disgusting.”

Vinnie takes the hummus and sets it on the deck. Dexter is on it quicker than a mosquito on human skin at twilight in the middle of summer. Vinnie says, “Let’s tune our instruments.”

“What instruments? I don’t see any,” says Sara.

Vinnie looks at Sara, “It was Rupert’s idea. He came up with another brilliant one. He told me we should all play air instruments.”

“That is the dumbest idea I ever heard in my life,” says Sara.

“What’s dumber, wasting a whole summer taking music lessons learning to play some instrument or playing air instruments. Let’s vote. All in favor of taking lessons as being the dumbest idea ever raise hands.”

Joey, Larry, and Vinnie raise hands. Vinnie raises Rupert’s right paw. He says, “Shake, Dexter.” Dexter raises his right paw. Vinnie gives Dexter all of the celery sticks with cream cheese. Dexter isn’t quite sure what happened, but he thinks he hit the beagle mother load. 

“How are you voting, Sara?” asks Vinnie.

“First, it’s not fair, you bribed Dexter. I’m not voting. This is stupid,” says Sara.

“Is too fair. Dexter, shake if you think it’s fair,” says Vinnie.

Joey pulls a half eaten Slim Jim beef jerky stick out of his pocket and tosses it to Vinnie. Vinnie catches it with his right hand, holds it out for Dexter. Dexter who already consumed all of the celery sticks, drops to his haunches and lifts his left paw. In case you didn’t know, beagles are ambidextrous. Dexter the Slim Jim. Dexter is much on chewing, he swallows the Slim Jim whole.

“That’s gross,” says Sara.

“What instrument you gonna play,” asks Joey,

Vinnie holds Rupert in front of his face. Rupert is smiling at Sara. Rupert says, “I think you could play a great air piano or air fiddle.”

Sara puts her hand to her jaw, purses her lips, turns back to Rupert and says, “If I play air piano, Rupert, can I have a solo?”

Vinnie’s Mom Thinks Vinnie Turned a Corner – Oh Oh


Joey, Larry, Vinnie, Rupert, and Dexter sit on chairs on the deck attached to Vinnie’s house. Vinnie tosses a basketball over a table to Larry who tosses it over the table to Joey who tosses it to Rupert who is on the table and who falls off the table onto the deck. The basketball rolls off the deck onto the grass.

“Grizzlies don’t have good hands for basketball,” says Larry.

Vinnie picks up Rupert off the deck and turns him toward Larry and speaks in the falsetto voice he uses for Rupert, “I coulda caught it, but my claws would have wrecked the ball. See what I mean?” Vinnie extends Ruperts arm and shows his plastic claws.

“Thanks, Rupert. I didn’t think of that,” says Larry.

At that moment Sara Johnson steps onto the deck, “Larry are you talking to a stuffed grizzly bear?”

Larry glances over at Sara, “Yah.”

Sara’s wearing a Cowboy’s ball cap with her brown ponytail pulled through the back. She says, “My mom says I can come over. If you guys get weird as Vinnie likes to get weird I have to come home.”

Vinnie says, “If your mom doesn’t know I’m getting weird, you don’t have to go home. But if she calls you and says am I getting weird what you tell your mom is that I am not as weird as Mrs. Mavis.”

Joey and Vinnie fist bump. Sara Rolls her eyes. Larry fist bumps Rupert. Dexter watches wondering when it’s snack time.

Vinnie’s mom looks out the kitchen window toward the deck and sees Vinnie gesturing with his hands, Joey and Larry fist bumping, and Sara raising her hand to speak. For a brief moment, Vinnie’s mom relaxes, everyone is smiling. Maybe, she thinks, summer is going to turn out perfectly and Vinnie will grow out of whatever stage he’s been stuck in since he was born.

Back on deck. . . . 

“I don’t like the name of Grizzlies for our group,” says Sara while she is patting Dexter. 

Vinnie says, “It’s already decided. Rupert named our group and he’s the smartest person on our planet.”

“He’s only a stuffed animal. He can’t think or talk,” says Sara. “Besides, I already thought of a better name.”

Vinnie is holding Rupert in front of him. Rupert is facing Sara. Rupert says, “Ask me any question and I can give you the answer. I already know what you are going to be when you grow up.”

“You do not,” says Sara.

“Do too,” says Rupert.

“Tell me if you are so smart,” says Sara.

“You forgot to say please,” says Rupert.

Vinnie’s mom watches Sara talking to Rupert. She feels a twinge of jealousy she isn’t on the deck. She has a few questions she wants to ask Rupert. She shakes her head trying to clear the fog. He’s only a stuffed grizzly bear. He’s not real. But why did Dr. Sampson want Rupert as her friend? What am I missing, she asks herself.

Back on the deck. . . . 

Sara crosses her arms over her chest covering the words, Girl Power on her t-shirt. She says, “Rupert, please tell me what I am going to be when I grow up?”

Rupert says, “You are going to be very famous.”


Vinnie shakes Rupert up and down.

“I changed my mind. I think Grizzlies is a great name. Where are your instruments?”

Vinnie, Larry, and Joey look at each other. Vinnie says, “We’re working on that.”

When Vinnie Prays, Even God is Surprised


Vinnie’s dad and Vinnie are sitting at the dinning room table. Rupert is sitting on the table smiling at Vinnie’s dad. Dexter is lying on the floor snug against Vinnie’s chair. Vinnie’s mom is in the kitchen. She calls out, “I’ve got a big surprise for my men tonight. You’re going to love dinner.”

Vinnie looks across the table at his dad, “Dad, it’s going to be one of Mom’s healthy meals, right?”

Vinnie’s dad shrugs his shoulders. He doesn’t want to say something to Vinnie that Vinnie will use in the forthcoming conversation between Vinnie and his mom.

“Dad, it’s going to be terrible. I know it.”

Vinnie’s dad feels he has to answer Vinnie although he thinks Vinnie’s might be on to something. He says, “We haven’t seen the meal so we don’t know what it is or if we’ll like it.”

“I can smell it, Dad. It smells like the time we were riding by the pig farm . . .”

“Vinnie, don’t go there. Mom worked hard on making a healthy meal. Suck it up and eat it and tell her how great it is. Can you do that for me?” asks Vinnie’s dad.

“I thought you and Mom said lying is wrong, Dad. You want me to lie to Mom?”

“It isn’t exactly lying. Think of it as making Mom feel good,” says Vinnie’s dad knowing this isn’t the end of Vinnie’s questions.

“Is this what you tell your mob clients to do in court, Dad? Do you tell them to lie so the judge will feel good?” asks Vinnie.

Vinnie’s dad clears his throat, ” I never advise my clients to lie. If I did it would be crime. I could go to jail for five years.”

“How many of your clients go to jail, Dad? Is jail food better than the food Mom cooks?”

Vinnie’s dad glances over toward the kitchen. He says, “Mom’s coming. Be polite.”

Vinnie’s mom walks toward the living room carry a large dish piled high with an exotic looking meal. Her smile is as broad as the bowl is wide. She sets the bowl on the table and says, “Gentlemen, this wonderful healthy meal is called Yummy couscous, vegetable chicken salad with dates, raisins, and rosemary mixed in to it. I know you both are going to be begging for seconds.”

Vinnie’s mom sits down at the table and joins hands with Rupert and Vinnie’s dad. Vinnie holds Rupert’s paw and his dad’s hand. Vinnie’s mom says, “Vinnie will say grace?”

Vinnie’s dad knows this is the worse case. When Vinnie prays, even God doesn’t know what Vinnie is going to say.

Vinnie says, “Lord, please bless this food so we won’t die after we eat it. Forgive me for having to lie and tell Mom it is delicious to make her feel good. Make sure the police don’t find out that Dad asked me to lie so he won’t have to go to prison. Amen.”

“Vincent. You haven’t tasted it. You are going to love it,” says Vinnie’s mom putting an extra large scoop on Vinnie’s plate. “Every bite, Vincent. Every bite.”

Vinnie says, “I can’t wait to eat it, Mom. It smells great and I bet it tastes as good as it looks. Can I take a plate of it to Joey’s house. They never eat healthy. They’ll probably think it’s the best food they ever ate.” Vinnie winks at his dad.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Vinnie’s mom says to Vinnie’s dad.

“Mom?” Vinnie interrupts his mom.

Vinnie’s dad is happy for the save.

Vinnie’s mom turns her attention back to Vinnie, “What? Let me see your fork moving from your plate to your mouth.”

“I can’t eat and talk at the same time, Mom. What am I supposed to do?”

“What did you want to say?” asks Vinnie’s mom.

“Two things, Mom. The first is Joey, and Larry, and me are going to start a band. We’re going to be the Grizzlies. Rupert thought of the name. It’s a great name for the group, right, Mom? We’re going to ask Sara to sing and play piano.”

Vinnie’s mom says, “We need to talk about this. What is the second thing?”

Vinnie is picking around his plate. He says, “I found four small pieces of chicken. Can I trade Dad all my stuff but the chicken for all his chicken?”

Vinnie Thinks He Can Do a Drum Solo


Vinnie, Joey, and Larry are at the playground behind Larry’s house. Vinnie’s swinging on the monkey bars, Joey’s going head first down a tall winding slide, and Larry is climbing up a rope ladder. Vinnie calls out, “I got this great idea about what we can do the rest of the summer.”

Joey, who completed his head first descent down the slide looks up from the sand at the bottom of the slide at Vinnie finishing his way across the monkey bars. Joey says, “What’s wrong with going to the playground every day, sleeping late, and staying up late and doing whatever I want to do?”

Vinnie’s off the monkey bars and races to an eight foot plastic wall with small plastic rocks sticking out. He starts climbing the wall. Vinnie hollers over his shoulder, “My mom won’t let me do whatever I want. I can only sleep until 7 and I have to be in bed by eight-thirty.”

Larry reaches the top of the rope ladder. He’s dangling by one arm and swinging back and forth. Larry hollers, “Me too.” He lets go of the rope and lands on the sand falling to his knees. He looks up at Vinnie, “One day I’ll stick the landing. What’s your idea Vinnie?”

The three boys run over to the swings. Vinnie says, “Let’s see who can let go and fly the farthest.” 

Vinnie, Joey, and Larry pull and pump on the swings. The three appear as three slightly out of sync pendulums going higher and higher. Larry lets go of the swing and makes a howling scream that sounds like a coyote chasing a rabbit. He lands on his feet, tumbles over to his hands and knees. The rules of the game require him to freeze on his landing. 

Joey quickly follows Larry. He screams as he travels through the air, landing a bit behind Larry but rolling over three times in the sand until he his on is back facing the sky. His arms outstretched. 

“No fair,” yells Larry.

“Not to worry, Larry. I’m on it,” says Vinnie. He pumps harder, he pulls back on the swing and rises higher.

“Watch out, Vinnie. You’re going to swing over the top,” calls Joey.

Three-fourths of the way up Vinnie let’s go of the swing. As he sails through the air, he hollers, “No more Mrs. Mavis.”  He lands in front of Joey and sticks the landing.

“How do you stick the landing? Will you show me?” asks Larry.

“Rupert told me the secret. I have to ask him if he’ll let me tell you,” says Vinnie. 

Larry and Joey sit in the sand along side Vinnie. Vinnie says, “Here’s my idea. Let’s start a band.”

Larry says, “I didn’t know you played an instrument.”

Vinnie says, “I don’t, but I was thinking I might like to play drums. I’m pretty sure I could do a drum solo.”

“What kind of stuff will we play? I can play air guitar,” says Joey.

Larry says, “My dad has an old trumpet he used to play in high school. Every once in a while he takes it out to play it. I tried it a couple of times. If we’re all playing instruments, who’s going to sing?”

Vinnie says, “Sara Johnson. I haven’t asked her. She’s really good at soccer so she’s got to be good at singing.”

Joey says, “Yah, and she can run fast, too.”

“We got to have a name for our band,” says Vinnie. “Any ideas? I was thinking we could call ourselves The Mulberries since we all live on Mulberry Street.”

“What about calling us The Chicken Wings, since we all like chicken wings?” asks Joey.

Larry says, “What was Rupert’s idea?”

“Rupert says we could call ourselves the Grizzlies or the Grizzly Bears.”

The boys look at each other and begin chanting, “Grizzlies, Grizzlies, Grizzlies.”

Vinnie’s Got a Great Idea


Vinnie’s mom sits at the breakfast bar holding her coffee cup with both hands. Vinnie’s dad sits next to her, his right hand on his coffee mug, a small plate with a a half eaten bagel sits on the plate in front of him. 

Vinnie’s mom says, “I have to admit, Mike did a great job. He was able to get a backhoe in, dig up the pipe, take out the broken section, and replace it. He even brought in landscapers to fix the Johnson’s lawn. It actually looks better than it did before. How much do we owe him?”

Vinnie’s dad says, “Nothing. Mike refused to take any money.”

“That’s not right, Al. It cost him lots of money to make the repairs,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“Mike told me he’ll call in favors when . . .”

“Don’t say another word. I don’t want to know. We won’t go to jail will we?” says Vinnie’s mom.

Before Vinnie’s dad can answer, Vinnie comes running down the hall from his bedroom into the kitchen. Dexter is chasing him. Vinnie says, “I’ve got a great idea. It’s even better than my last idea.”

“Dear God, help us,” says Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie comes to a sliding stop in his stocking feet next to his mom. Vinnie’s mom puts her arm around Vinnie’s shoulder and says, “Good morning, Vinnie. You slept an extra hour.”

“No I didn’t, Mom. I was awake at four. Rupert and Dexter and me had a snack, we were starving. I always think better when I’m not starving. It helps Dexter too. You should have heard us talking about what we wanted to do this summer.”

“I didn’t hear you get up and go into the kitchen. What did you eat?” asks Vinnie’s mom.

Vinnie’s dad decides to jump in, “Hey, do I get a hug and a good morning?”

Vinnie looks at his dad, “Sure, Dad. As soon as I have breakfast.”

Vinnie’s dad has a hurt look on his face that suddenly changes to a beautiful sunrise when Vinnie jumps up and grabs hold of his dad around the neck. “Good Morning, Dad. You’re going to love my idea. I might even hire you.”

Vinnie’s dad glances over at the coffee he spilled on the breakfast bar from Vinnie’s jarring hug. Vinnie’s mom takes a photo of Vinnie dangling from his dad’s neck with her iPhone.

Vinnie lets go of his dad’s neck and drops to the floor. He says, “I got to talk to Joey and Larry first. I might even ask Sara Johnson to join us.”

Vinnie’s mom says, “Sara? Sara Johnson? I thought you didn’t like her.”

Vinnie’s standing at the refrigerator holding the door open with his right hand. He turns his head toward his mom, “Sara’s really good at soccer, which makes her okay. Since Mrs. Mavis is not my teacher anymore, if Sara’s in my class, she’ll probably be normal. Mom, there’s nothing good to eat in here. I’m starving.”

“You ate at four o’clock. What did you eat?”

“A frozen pizza and two ice cream sandwiches,” says Vinnie as if eating frozen pizza is as normal as brushing his teeth. He continues, “Dexter ate three frozen turkey burgers. Rupert drank an apple juice but he couldn’t finish it so I helped him.”

Vinnie’s dad says, “Dexter ate my frozen turkey burgers?”

Vinnie Struck Water, Oh Oh


Vinnie’s mom looks out the back window. She watches Vinnie, Joey, and Larry studying a large white poster board with lines haphazardly drawn over it. Dexter lies on the lawn next to Vinnie. Rupert sits on a table on the deck watching the boys and Dexter. Vinnie’s mom thinks this is the cutest thing. The boys are busy talking and it looks to her like they are having fun. Vinnie’s mom thinks, Vinnie is finally settling into summer break. I can begin to relax and not worry about telling him who his teacher is until I get the official letter. Maybe they’ll change their minds. She silently wishes.

Vinnie’s mom walks to the deck door, slides it open and calls out, “Are you boys okay? Do you want some water or a piece of watermelon?”

Vinnie turns around and says, “No thanks, Mom. We’re really busy right now. Maybe a little later.”

Dexter wonders how Vinnie can turn down food. He’s not sure what watermelon is, but it sounds like it could be food to the beagle ear.

“What do you have on your poster board, can I see?” asks Vinnie’s mom.

“It’s a map of the yard, Mom. We’re making sure we didn’t miss anything when we were making it,” says Vinnie.

Vinnie’s mom thinks, I wish I recorded this so Al could see it. He’d be so happy to see Vinnie and his friends enjoying whatever it is they’re doing. Vinnie’s mom takes one last look at the boys, Dexter, and Rupert and decides to take a long, relaxing hot shower. It’s something she hasn’t done in a while.

Vinnie’s mom goes into the bathroom, she selects the music app on her iPad and chooses an album by her favorite artist. She sets iPad down on the countertop. She lights a scented candle, turns the water on in the shower, and steps in. Five minutes pass, Vinnie’s mom is settling in to a relaxed state. She begins to sing with the recording artist. She lathers and rinses, lathers and rinses. In the middle of her third lathering, the water abruptly stops. She turns, twists the faucet, no water. She steps out of the shower and wraps a towel around her body and tries each faucet in the two bathroom sinks, no water. She picks up her phone to text Teresa Johnson next door to ask if she lost water, when . . .

“Mom, Mom, Mom, we struck oil. Come quick. We hit a gusher in the backyard,” screams Vinnie.

Vinnie’s mom hears the door slam as Vinnie runs out of the house to stare at the oil strike. Vinnie’s mom tracks soapsuds through her bedroom, down the hallway to the kitchen. She looks out the window to the backyard. Vinnie, Joey, and Larry and are jumping up and down, hollering, “We’re rich. We’re rich. We’re rich.”

The boys surround a hole they dug in Vinnie’s yard. A streak of water is shooting thirty feet in the air out of the hole.

Vinnie’s mom’s heart reaches an anaerobic heart rate and her blood pressure spikes. She speed dials Vinnie’s dad.

“Al, Vinnie struck oil, I mean water in our yard. . . .  Don’t tell me to calm down, we don’t have any water. I was in the shower and I’m covered with soap. We’re going to flood out the neighborhood. Do something. . . .  Don’t call Mike, he’ll only make things worse. . . .  No, I don’t have a better idea, how about a plumber? . . . .  I know Mike did plumbing work without a license before he was arrested for stealing jewelry. . . .  I don’t care if you got him off with time served. . . . I am not going to stand under the geyser and rinse off.  . . .  I don’t care if the judge is banging her gavel . . .  Al? Al? Al?

Vinnie’s Got It All Figured Out – What Could Go Wrong?


Joey, Larry, Vinnie, Rupert, and Dexter are in Vinnie’s room. Vinnie tip toes to the bedroom door, he opens it. His mom is pretending to dust a photo mounted on the wall near Vinnie’s room. 

Vinnie says, “Mom, you’re not supposed to listen to us. It’s top secret.”

Vinnie’s mom feels herself turning red. She pretends to wipe her brow with her hand. The problem being she wiped her brow with the dust rag and it causes her sneeze.”

“Bless you, Mom. Can you go practice your yoga or watch the food channel, make a smoothie or go shopping with Aunt Jo,” says Vinnie politely.

“No, I am staying home. You boys need supervision,” says Vinnie’s mom.

“Mom, don’t you want to be rich? We can’t start until we have some space.”

Vinnie’s mom puts her hand to her chin and tilts her head upwards as if she’s thinking about it. 

“Mom, can you make five bagged lunches for us, we’re going to be like Dad and have working lunches today. We got so much to do,” says Vinnie.

Vinnie’s mom thinks this is the cutest thing she’s heard in a long time. Vinnie, Larry, and Joey want a working lunch. She says, “Why five lunches?”

“Mom, what about Rupert and Dexter?” Vinnie turns his head slightly toward the bedroom, “Rupert, what do you want for lunch?”

Vinnie covering his mouth with his hand and using his falsetto voice for Rupert says, “Mom, can you microwave me a frozen pizza or burrito? Dexter wants the same thing.”

Dexter hears his name and barks.

Vinnie’s mom smiles and shakes her head approvingly. “Okay. I’m trusting you boys not to cause any trouble.”

“Not to worry, Mom.

Vinnie’s mom heads into the kitchen, opens her iPad and plays her music app. She sure Vinnie’s summer turned the corner. The only problem left is to tell him about being in Mrs. Mavis’s class in the fall. That can wait, she reasons to herself. 

Meanwhile, in Vinnie’s room, Joey, Larry, and Vinnie huddle around a white poster board that Vinnie placed on the floor. Rupert is between Vinnie and Larry. Dexter is between Vinnie and Joey. 

Vinnie says, “After Mom and Dad thought I was asleep, I got out of bed and figured out where we’ll strike oil. I made a map of exactly where the oil is in my yard.”

Joey says, “How do you know you have oil in your back yard?”

Vinnie’s says, “That was the easiest thing to figure out, Joey. The hardest thing was to figure out the exact spot. Dexter helped me figure that out yesterday afternoon.”

“How was it so easy to figure out?” asks Joey.

Larry says, “I’m starving. Do you think your mom will bring our bag lunches soon?”

Vinnie says, “Larry, you go out and ask my mom if you can help her. While you’re keeping her busy, I’ll tell Joey how I figured everything out. We can fill you in while we eat.”

“Good idea, Vinnie. No wonder you got elected 4th grade class president. You figure things out even our parents can’t figure out.”

“That’s because Rupert helps me. Do you know who your getting in the fall?”

“My mom call the school office. They told her it will come out in the mail a week before school starts,” says Larry opening the bedroom door. “I’ll kick the door with my foot if I need you to open it for me when I come back.”

Vinnie gets up and closes the door behind Larry. He walks back to the poster board sheet and kneels down. He says, “The reason I know there’s oil in my yard. I heard my dad say to my mom, ‘The way taxes are going up, you’d think they figured out I discovered oil in my backyard.”

“That’s awesome,” says Joey who high fives Vinnie.

“All I had to do was figure out where Dad discovered the oil. He’s a lawyer for the mob and he doesn’t have time to drill for it. So, I thought we could do it for him.”

“He’s going to be so happy when we strike oil, Vinnie. We’ll be so rich we can throw a block party and give away free ice cream,” says Joey.

“I was thinking the same thing, Joey. Fist bump,” says Vinnie.