Friday, September 12, 2014

Week 15: The Contest - Honda

So maybe I was being a little irrational hoping for a new minivan for Week 15 of The Contest.

But perhaps a free oil change?

Read below for this week's entry!
Dear Honda,
So here’s the thing. I love Hondas. I mean love them, love them. Like a lot. Think rum wrapped in bacon dipped in chocolate kind of love. And then multiply by ten.

My husband and I currently own a 2002 Honda CRV and a 2005 Honda Odyssey. They both have well over 100,000 miles on them and have been ridiculously reliable, low-maintenance, and, well, sexy.

Please just don’t tell my husband I said that.

My calm children.
I cannot thank you enough for making automobiles which have seamlessly survived treacherous Chicago winters parked outdoors, road trips across the United States, and three little boys hell bent on destroying everything in their path. These wonderful cars have also seen newborns safely home from the hospital, my husband to his jobs, and my sister-in-law and groom chauffeured home just this past November.

These cars have been there for 2 am trips to the Emergency Room and afternoon rides to soccer practices. They have transported those in mourning, those in need, and those who mean the most to us in the entire world.

So thank you, nice Honda people.

Thank you.

Marianne Walsh


Riding the high wave of good responses, I was stoked when I received a call from Honda (1 point).  I was all ready to say "I'd like this one in red."

Apparently a funny letter doesn't get you as far as it used to.

But they did thank me for the nice words and asked if they could put it on their website.

Which brings my score to 43.

To check out the competition, visit HERE.

Friday, September 5, 2014

The Contest: Week 14 - Mariano's

For this week of The Contest, I opted for something a little different.  Still mending my broken heart from the Chicago departure of my favorite grocery store (Dominick's), I wrote our new preferred option, Mariano's.  Was the fragile new relationship reciprocal?  Find out below!


Dear Mr. Mariano,

I was a Dominick’s devotee. Born and raised.  I was the kid in the shopping cart with the box of animal crackers glued to the tank of live lobsters.  I dreamt of one day being a Dominick’s cashier, all sophisticated and mathematical.  When I look back at my childhood, it feels like half of it was spent in that most cherished and magical of grocery stores.

I am now the mom.  My three boys also grew up in Dominick’s, again with those same animal crackers and a strong interest in locating that elusive lobster tank they’d heard so much about.  It was painful to take the final walk on Christmas Eve, to face those empty shelves, and to hug the employees goodbye.  These were warm and caring people who doted on my kids, offered up free cheese, and never, ever forgot to smile.
I feared I would never know grocery store love again.
But dude.
I was totally wrong.
Like a lost widow still grieving her most cherished of loves, I half-heartedly entered Mariano’s last week.
And holy flippity floppity fudge.

Mariano’s ROCKS.

I mean REALLY.  I don’t know about you, Mr. Mariano, but I can’t cook fish to save my freaking life.  I’ve accidentally food-poisoned my family.  Twice. Yet questionable cooking abilities are not a problem at this new-fangled, other-worldly grocery store.

They cook it for you! 

And the food.  THE FOOD.

My gaping emotional wound began healing almost instantly.
So thank you, Mr. Mariano.  Thank you for bringing a terrific store to Chicago and helping mend my broken heart.  I am so very grateful.

As are my boys.

No more food poisoning, you see.
Marianne Walsh
Before I post the response, I can't be the ONLY one who remembers the live lobster tanks at Dominick's, right??
Anyway, Mr. Mariano totally responded with a brand-spanking new gift card and personal letter to my mailbox.  Score!  That brings my total to 42.  For Andrea's post, visit HERE!
Just wait...many more surprises to come! 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Danny in Charge

The following article appears in the September edition of Chicago Parent magazine.

Danny the day before Jack was born - 15 months old. 
There are sweet moments in time parents wish to retain forever.   Yet trying to locate a scrap of paper and pen in the middle of bath time is not always feasible.  Funny expressions and mispronunciations  are priceless nuggets of childhood, gone in a blink. 

“I won’t ever forget this,” parents tell themselves.

The sad truth?  Most moms and dads leak brains.  Somewhere between expecting a baby and surviving four seasons of tee-ball, I forgot not only precious memories, but also my phone number, age, and where I last put the car keys.

Despite this unnerving progression towards senility, one twinkling instant in time from my early years as a mom remains bright.

My first son Danny was not yet two years old.  We were downtown in our cramped condo with two babies.  After a long work day, I came home to find not a scoop of formula left.  Aggravated, I prepared to head out to the nearest Walgreens.  It was a dark and snowy winter night in Chicago, and I muttered unhappily while bundling up. 

It was then I spotted Danny tugging at his coat, advising:

“I go too!”

We walked towards the elevator, and Danny ran ahead to press the down button.  Once inside, he also knew which button delivered us directly to the lobby. 

It was practically a blizzard outside, but my little boy forged ahead with brazen confidence while grabbing my hand to lead the way.

Covered in snow, Danny pushed through the rotating doors at Walgreens with surprising strength.  I was still dusting myself off as he hustled over to the baby aisle, locating the correct container in seconds for his infant brother.

“I find it, Mommy!  I find it!”

Danny insisted on carrying the plastic bag home.  Then there came the moment that defined my child forever in my heart.

Danny looked up at me and smiled the most dazzling smile I have ever seen.

The kid had been harboring a secret wish to be 40 years old from the time he was born, and he finally had his crack at adulthood.

When he was three, Danny’s preschool teachers never kept track in games because Danny always knew whose turn it was.  At four, he was anxious for income and drew up a marketing plan for his lemonade stand.

By five, he peppered us with questions on investment banking.

Recently, a friend shared a story about her own son, now grown.  The boy had a history of putting neighbors into heart failure.    

The kid liked climbing onto roofs. 

And then jumping off them. 

My friend laughed heartily at the recollection and finally delivered the punchline. 

Because now? 

That boy is paratrooper for the U.S. army.

As parents, we pretend we have some huge say into who our kids become.  Hearing that story and remembering my own Alex P. Keaton, I understand kids are born with personality traits as pre-determined and fixed as their fingerprints.

Danny?  He is always going to want to be in charge.

One day, I will actually let him.

And I cannot wait to see that brilliant smile once again.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Contest: Week 13 - Post Its

For Week 13 of The Contest, I had a hard time remembering who I wrote.

I should have put it on a Post-It.

Oh, wait.

Dear Post-It,

I am not a tech-savvy mom.  I do not program appointments into a fancy iPhone.  I do not receive email alerts regarding my subscription refills.  I am not even able to turn off my clock radio in the morning without waking up the entire family.

Even worse than being electronically challenged is having no memory.   I once considered giving all my children the exact same name so I’d remember which ones were mine at school pick-up.

Sadly, there is not an arsenal of tools readily available for a forgetful mom on the go.  And even if there was, I probably would have forgotten that information by now. 

But thank goodness for Post-Its. 

Bright, beautiful Post-Its. 

Post-Its do not require programming, batteries, or charging.  They stick elegantly to my refrigerator - reminding me when the next parent-teacher conference is every time I reach for a gallon of milk.  And because of Post-Its, I never run out of milk. 

Post-Its are my best friend.

My kids love them as well.  Unlike regular pieces of notebook paper or notepads, many Post-It notes come perfectly square.  While you may not think this is such a big deal, when you have kids who love origami, having ready-made perfect squares saves a lot of time in crafting a super-fleet of mini- Roman ships.

In a digital environment determined to rid the world of pen and paper, I stand in solid opposition.  The beauty, elegance, and simplicity of a hand-written note secretly planted in a school or work lunch is what love is all about

A real smiley face. 

Doodled hearts. 

A simple “I love you.

This is all done in a mother’s easily recognizable handwriting, a style that will be remembered and cherished no matter how many years have passed or how old that child becomes.

No, I do not want to live in a world without Post-Its. 

So never forget that.

But if you think you may, I can write a reminder on a Post-It for you.


Marianne Walsh


So did Post-It answer?  As of today's posting, no.  This keeps my point total at 37.  But never fear, I never stay down long. 

*maniacal laugh, maniacal laugh*

To check out the competition, visit Andrea HERE!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Crack Dealers Got Nothin' on Build-a-Bear

The time we were lucky to escape with milk money at Build-a-Bear, click HERE for today's Chicago Parent.

Too bad the kid loves the joint.  See what I did there?

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Monkees, Micky Dolenz & Me

I grew up in a family with four kids, so naturally we spent a lot of time fighting over what to watch on our one television.

I liked Speed Racer.

My sister, Megan, adored Space Giants.

Johnny and Joey were devoted to all things baseball.

It was rare for us to agree on a single show, but there was one solitary exception.

That show was The Monkees.

Me (on right) looking like a Monkee myself and my mom looking HOT. 

As we watched old re-runs, we would sit immobile, mesmerized by the Neil Diamond and Carole King penned tunes.  Micky Dolenz, despite modern reports to the contrary, was the true front man of the group, not Davy Jones. Dolenz sang lead on seven of the group's ten biggest hits. 

I worshipped him.  His amazing vocal range and downright silliness were a two-pronged attack on my heart.  Interestingly, several of his songs are finding new popularity courtesy of cable television. Todd and Walt cooked meth together  to Goin' Down on Breaking BadMad Men featured The Porpoise Song.

Dolenz did not write many tunes for The Monkees, but he did write my favorite. The song is Randy Scouse Git, and it encompasses his experiences meeting his future wife ("the being known as Wondergirl") and The Beatles ("the four kings of EMI") while visiting London.

The song starts out all light-hearted and happy.  Micky makes faces into the camera.  We are meant to believe this song and the man himself have very little substance.

But then the tempo changes.

The song becomes angry, accusatory, and indignant.  The final refrain:

Why don't you cut your hair?
Why don't you live up there?
Why don't you do what I do,
See what I feel when I care?
Why don't you be like me?
Why don't you stop and see?
Why don't you hate who I hate,
Kill who I kill to be free.

It is Mr. Dolenz's opus.

And it still speaks to me to this day.

Often, I feel the need to play the role of the clown.  In a world where everyone is screaming for validation, FEEL MY PAIN!  SEE MY HURT!  SUPPORT MY CAUSE!, the clown is the safe role.  The clown is not expected to have substantial thoughts.  The clown is pliable to the rhetoric at hand.

It is a master disguise.

And Micky Dolenz knew it.

But he showed his hand with Randy Scouse Git.  He was tired of getting yelled at.

Like Micky, I am on empathy overload, not humanly capable of feeling extreme passion over every pain, every hurt, and every cause that screams across my television, computer, and newspaper.  Sometimes, like Micky, I just want to find a place to hide.  Does this make me apathetic?  Or simply numb to screaming?

Perhaps it is a call to start minding those who speak in whispers and thoughtful reflection.  The poets.  The songwriters.  The composers. 

Randy Scouse Git has never been more timely or needed.  I hope everyone gives it a listen and takes something away from it.

There is gold in that curly-haired tablecloth.