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Thursday, November 15, 2012



Do all families have a “throw-up bowl,” or is it just mine?  When I was a kid ours was a large yellow bowl.  I never thought about it growing up, but how did this bowl become the throw-up bowl?

I’m pretty sure my parents did not get it as a wedding present. 

“What is this?  Oh wait, I know, it’s a throw-up bowl.”

“Oooh! Pretty!”

No, no one registers for a throw-up bowl at Fortunoffs.  Bowls are not marketed and sold as “throw-up bowls.” 

The throw-up bowl could have been used as a mixing bowl, but no, it had one use and one use only.  It was located in the front of a cabinet where the shortest family member could reach it when needed.  With three growing boys it was used in my family a lot.

“Mom, I don’t feel so good.”

“Does your tummy hurt?”


“JIM, CHRIS, get the throw-up bowl…QUICK!”

No one ever asked, “Which bowl mom?” or “Where is it?” Everyone knew what it was and where to find the throw-up bowl.  Twice a year we had throw-up bowl drills. 

Years later, married and with my first child I realized how the throw-up bowl was chosen.  My daughter was two and feeling sick.

“Is it your tummy honey?”


“Hold on, I’ll be right back.”  I raced downstairs to the kitchen, grabbed the first bowl I could find, a big yellow mixing bowl, and raced upstairs.

The wife wanted to know, “Where are you going with that bowl.”

“Just a minute, Mary Beth is sick.”

“Wait, that’s my best mixing bowl!”

“ARRRGAH, ARRgah, Arg.”

“Not my mixing bowl, that’s my best bowl!”

“AARRGAH, AARRG, Arg, arg, ar.”

“’s the throw-up bowl now.”

We bought a new mixing bowl, but it never got as much use as that big yellow throw-up bowl.

After my first divorce I somehow got custody of the big yellow bowl.  My children were basically grown and out of the throw-up stage, but I still kept that bowl where it was easily reached.

Mrs. Wife #2 made terrific Irish soda bread.  On our first St. Paddy’s Day she made a batch.  I cut a slice, slathered it with butter, and was about to take a bite when I noticed the yellow bowl in the sink.

“I can’t eat this.”

“Why not, it’s good.”

“You made it in the throw-up bowl!”


We discarded that batch of soda bread. 

We put the yellow bowl away, never to be used again…until we had Spencer.

Does every family with children have a throw-up bowl?  Are they always yellow?


  1. Oh, yeah. Except ours is stainless steel, just the size to slide under a bed and it's call the Pyook Bowl. Great write. And I'll bet you could get a government grant to study the phenomena.

  2. Nailed it! Yes, we have a throw up bowl, too. And it's even yellow. Except ours was actually designed for throwing up. It's one of those little plastic oblong vessels they give you in the hospital when you need to THROW UP. When we checked out one time years ago (don't remember who or why we were there) we grabbed up everything that wasn't nailed down, because we paid for it ....dearly! You use one Kleenex, you bought the whole box. Same with those little plastic thingys. The come in handy!


  3. OK, now I can never let my wife or kids see your blog. 'Cuz our Barf Bowl is just a mixing bowl in its other life; we figger 3-4 trips thru the dishwasher on extra-hot, extended cycle oughta clean it out sufficiently. When one of our kids is feeling kinda, um, poorly, we just send 'em to bed with the Barf Bowl, and hope they don't have to use it.

    You also remind me of the time when I was 10 or 12, and I got a new pair of shoes. I was so proud of those shoes, I spent 10 minutes at bedtime positioning 'em just so, on the floor at the head of my bed. Then, sometime in the middle of the night, my younger brother leaned over the edge of the top bunk, retched and let fly with the putrid cascade, that landed with a wet SPLAT!, neatly filling the entire insides of my new shoes, which I hadn't even worn for a full day yet. He's still alive today, but just barely. . .

  4. Sorry--I am laughing too hard to write a comment!

  5. I love this post and the tiny window it opens on your family life. No, I didn't grow up with a throw-up bowl and we never had one when our son was small. If anyone felt nauseous they grabbed an old towel. But truth be told, we aren't an errrrpy bunch.

    And now, thanks to you, I'll be thinking of this post when my wife uses our yellow mixing bowl.

  6. We always made a run for the nearby trash can or toilet. If we got really bad sick the trash can moved closer to you or you camped out in the bathroom.

  7. Funny post, but, as I recall, growing up our throw-up bowl was a bucket.

    And, I'm with Don.......during my Drinking Days I often spent the night sleeping on the bathroom floor because it was the most, um, convenient.....gawd I am glad I left that phase of my life behind me.

  8. My throw up bowl used to be a washing up bowl for in the sink...It got thrown out when we moved - it was brown and smelt of bleach!

    I have no throw up bowl any more, I just make the boys sit near the bathroom if they feel sick so they can throw up straight down the

    Am I a bad Mummy now?

  9. When I was growing up we didn't have a throw up bowl, of which I find odd because there were 9 of us kids. But after me and my husband had kids, we had one. Now, ummm, I have used the throw up bowl for cooking and storing. I mean really, you clean the sucker out. Geez, live a little.

  10. When we were growing up we didn't have a bowl - we had a red bucket. Now that I am married with my own grown up child we still have a red bucket.
    I don't do vomit well at all (actually I just can't handle it so A always used to have to deal with K if she was sick - it was easier dealing with her than letting me go and deal with her and then he would have two lots to deal with because I could never keep the contents in my stomach after getting a whiff of it !!) - lots of fun when she turned 18 and decided that it was great to drink heaps !!!!
    Have the best day !

  11. My children never were sick during the day or went to bed sick. But either one could wake up in the middle of the night and gratuitiously vomit. No, no yellow bowl. Just carpet for me.

  12. WTF??? are you serious??!! we used the bathroom garbage can if i needed something to bring to them. i'm so glad it never made it to my house!!
    you are such a wasp! uuuggghhhh!

  13. We used a shallow bucket much like the shape and colour of the aqua bucket in this image.

    Thanks for the pukey memories. ;)

  14. We had a bucket, I can't remember what colour it was. We now have a throw-up bin. We didn't need anything up until 6 months ago because with two adults in the house we always managed to make it to the bathroom. But when my daughter was 6 months old I had a migraine and because my husband was out I was lying on the lounge listening to my daughter to make sure she didn't roll too far. I started to feel very queasy and knew I wouldn't make it to the bathroom so the little bin in the loungeroom was utilised and is now ready and waiting for the first time my daughter needs it!

  15. Hilarious but Ugh! We always had one of those save hospital basins and it was never recycled for any reason! :)

  16. why yes, i do believe this is a necessity when there are children in the house! growing up ours was actually a blue plastic bowl/bucket affair that lived in the laundry.

    we don't have one but having been through a bout of gastro with one child, i believe this needs to go on the shopping list pronto!!

  17. Gee I wish we had had a bowl like that, but I never thought of it. Which is probably why I cleaned the floor as often as I did. Great idea.