Friday, October 17, 2014

Week 20: The Contest - Windex

When Andrea and I started The Contest, the purpose was to celebrate products we used while proving that being funny and nice is the way to go.  Some weeks, I have struggled to identify products I am 100% devoted to, which makes me wonder why I didn't think of Windex much earlier:

Obviously, I have a problem.
If there isn't a bottle of Windex within reachable distance of me at all times, I get twitchy.  As evidenced by clicking HERE, there is also the tin-foil wearing, conspiracy-loving part of me who might believe Windex is the secret cure for ebola.

But it was a relatively new Windex product that inspired my letter this time, read on below!

Dear Windex,

When you showed up at BlogHer a couple of years ago in Chicago with your big fancy booth, we were all supposed to ooh and ahh over your new Windex Touch-Up Cleaner. Your smiling representatives thrust a sample into my over-stocked goodie bag, and I reluctantly accepted it.

My mistake.

I should have grabbed the entire motherload before security escorted me out. I LOVE THIS STUFF. I use it on our counters every time my messy husband splatters chicken juice across three time-zones while tenderizing future fajita meat.

I use it when my three boys “miss.”

And they miss a lot.

I use it when Midwestern plagues move through Chicago, relegating kids to their beds and mothers to their mid-afternoon wine while desperately wishing the sickies were back in school. I use it ALL THE FREAKING TIME.

Which leads me back to not appreciating you two years ago at BlogHer. I am sorry. I was so very wrong. Please find it in your heart to forgive me. I have learned my lesson.


Marianne Walsh


So did Windex write me off as another odd stalker fan?


They responded BIG:

My favorite part?  They bubble-wrapped the Windex spray was as though they KNEW.
This brings my total score to 63.  To check out the competition, visit Andrea today!

And thank you, Windex, for having a great sense of humor and an even greater selection of cleaning products!  Shout stain remover has removed poop from my carpet....and do you know how hard POOP is to get out of one's carpet?

Sorry.  I'm just really excited.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

In Pursuit of the Prodigy

The following appears in the October edition of Chicago Parent.

Oh I tried.

Producing a child prodigy was something that would negate my many mothering flaws. Early on, I went about the business of making it happen. For every profanity overheard at the grocery store, for every missed picture day, for every instance I forgot snack mom duties, I would at least be able to point at my child genius and say, “I couldn’t have sucked that much…now play some Beethoven, dear.”

At first, I pursued music. Private lessons all the way. Piano, violin, and cello - my own stringed trio. Yet after seven years of battling the kids over practice time, I have come to the realization that nobody is locking in a spot at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. They continue to bang away at it, though. And I continue to buy ear plugs.

Up next was chess. I found the #2 high school chess player in the entire state of Illinois. He arrived weekly to share his secrets of moving around the horsie…or whatever it is they do in chess. The lad was a child prodigy himself, heading off this fall to study chemical engineering on a full academic scholarship. Yet after several years of lessons, my kids might offer a decent game of chess, but Bobby Fischer they certainly are not.

Perhaps I had been going about it the wrong way. Maybe my kids were destined to be athletic phenomenons instead! A future Tiger Woods even. I spent my entire Botox savings account on sports camps this summer. The end result?

Not one of the boys can do a decent lay-up, serve overhand, or pitch 90 miles per hour. My hockey player has problems stopping on the ice, and my swimmer doesn’t understand the mechanics of a backstroke. My worry lines deepened.

This might have been due to the lack of Botox.

My husband, in typical fashion, offered his take on things as I lamented all the wasted time and money trying to find a certain area of excellence or endeavor that would define each kid’s life.

“Marianne, how cool is it that our boys will be decent enough to play softball with their buddies, hit the local pub to bang out some Billy Joel on the piano, and finally turn and play the owner at a game of chess?”

I was confused.

“You know what our kids’ niche will be?” he questioned dramatically.

“Drinking beer?”

“Nope. GETTING GIRLS. They will be Renaissance men. The whole package. And best of all, we won’t have wasted all those years on travel teams and national chess meets.”

Ironically, Joe did get me wondering.


Future wives.


Maybe I had gone about it all wrong! Maybe by not specializing on one certain area the whole way through, I had diluted talents and interests! But there will be grandchildren! As I googled “Grandchildren” and “Prodigies,” my husband mumbled that I also need to plan on all our future daughters-in-law moving out of state.

But I will find them.

I always do.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Week 19 - The Contest: Hostess

So here's the thing. I got a little behind on my letter writing for The Contest.  I'm going to blame it on all my chauffeuring responsibilities coupled with a bout of autumn seasonal depression.  In hasty realization that Andrea has an entire year's worth of letters ready to go, I dropped a line to Hostess.

Maybe it was four lines.

While brief, it still reflects the joy I feel at the return of Twinkies. 


Dear Hostess,


I missed you.

I loved you.

I knew you would be back.


Marianne Walsh


So did Hostess respond?  To be fair, they probably just got my letter this week.  As of right now, my score holds at 53.  Poor Andrea had no idea of the depths of my ADHD when we started this.  I best get busy writing letters before she kills me.

Or even better?



********************IMPORTANT UPDATE*****************

No sooner did I wake up from my afternoon nap than I found this in the mail from Hostess:

I am starting to wonder if brevity is the key to letter-writing success. 

Anyway, revised score now stands at 58.  SCORE!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Week 18 - The Contest: Swingline Stapler

For Week 18 of The Contest, I admit to one of the few crimes I have ever committed in life.

Please don't think less of me.

Dear Swingline Stapler,

Normally, I do not steal things. In fact, I am the type of person who will march right back into the grocery store to pay for the case of bottled water when the cashier fails to notice it under the cart. I feel guilty when I think of doing something wrong. I blame my Catholic upbringing and an extra strand of culpability in the old double helix.

Sadly, I wound up ruining my 100% honesty rating courtesy of your bright red Swingline stapler. It all started with a history of wretched staplers during the late 1990s. I would break and jam just about every one that came across my desk. As I furtively tried to combine 100 pages of insurance jargon and gobbledy-gook, profane and foul language sprang from my mouth as though I was speaking in tongues. I needed to end the madness.

And go to confession.

In 2002, I was embarking on a new job for a start-up insurance company when the office manager tossed an Office Max catalogue on the desk. She advised me to select whatever supplies I needed to do my job. As I leafed through thousands of pages of offerings, I worried no product out there could withstand my frustrated blows while I joined stacks of collated press releases and financial statements together.

And then I saw it.

The red Swingline stapler.

Just like Milton’s from Office Space.

It was movie-star sexy. I giddily placed my order and let me tell you…waiting for that stapler to appear was like counting down the days until Christmas morning. When it finally arrived, I picked up a monster stack of collated materials and shoved it between the grips of Big Red.

Big Red delivered.

My love was unholy.

More confession.

Over the next five years, Big Red never failed. So when it came time for me to move on from that job, I knew I could not leave this treasured and loyal companion behind for some random office worker to abuse or discard. Big Red was coming with me.

In my purse.


And I didn’t feel guilty. The hardest part about my life as a now-criminal is full disclosure. Every time I have to fill out an employment application, “Have you ever stolen anything from your workplace?” I have to fess up. But I don’t regret it for one second. Thank you for injecting a little “bad girl” into this old double helix,


Marianne Walsh


So did Swingline respond?

They totally did.

They sent a small magnetic message board (they must be aware of my memory issues) and some other goodies, but damned if I can remember where I put them.  I hope Andrea (the competition) takes my word for it.

Anyway, this brings my current total to 53.  The march to letter supremacy continues next week!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Ebola & Foiling Fear

Have you heard the latest?

I have.

And I'm totally READY.

Full story, click today's Chicago Parent.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

What's 50 Questions Between Friends?

The cosmos failed miserably by not placing Shannon from The Deepest Worth in my house growing up. She could easily pass for my sister, and Lord knows I could have used her calming force during my family's teen years (or as I refer to them, "The time I tried to kill Megan with a hairdryer").

Anyhoo, Miss Shannon tagged me to answer fifty questions about myself. Normally, I skip out on this sort of thing because I am a rebel and I'll never ever be any good. But for family? You do stuff. So here goes! 

Back when I still liked Shannon before she made me answer all these damn questions.

1. What are you wearing?

My pink fuzzy robe that I normally don for morning school drop-offs.

2. Ever been in love?

Yes.  There is the guy I married followed by the three boys who keep asking for food.

3. Ever have a terrible break-up?

Disappointing ones, sure.  Terrible?  I do regret being a jackass and hastily breaking up with someone over the phone during the Oscars because I wanted to see if Life is Beautiful would get Best Picture.  Twenty-somes are not the most compassionate people. Wherever you are, Oscar Break-Up guy, I am truly sorry.

4. How tall are you?

Six feet.  What is this, a medical questionnaire?

5. How much do you weigh?

You want my resting pulse next? 

6. Any tattoos?

I was going to get one for my 40th birthday, but then I forgot.  It was going to be some clich├ęd Celtic thing incorporating my kids.  Or maybe a really original barbed wire thing all the cool kids are getting.

7. Any piercings?

Ears, multiple times, but I only wear one set now.  Occasionally, I re-poke out the old holes just to feel young and sassy.

8. OTP (One true pair, favorite fictional couple?)

Heathcliff and Catherine from Wuthering Heights.  I totally wanted to be Catherine. know...she dies.

9. Favorite Show?

Breaking Bad is the best show ever written, produced, and acted (and possibly sound-tracked).  Its perfect arc from start to finish was meticulously planned and executed.  There are nuances of canonized works throughout; the biggest influence obviously being Milton's concepts of pride, temptation, and the fortunate fall. 

10. Favorite Bands?

It's a toss-up.  Journey or The Monkees.  Yes, I am aware that I am dork.

11. Something you miss?

Puddin' Pops.

12. Favorite Song?

Don Henley's Boys of Summer.  Lyrically, it's rather depressing. But it always puts me in a great mood.

13. How old are you?

I'm not answering any more medical questions.

14. Zodiac sign?


15. Quality to look for in a partner?

Mental toughness.  Sorry, Alan Alda, I have always preferred men who don't crack under pressure. Cracking is my thing.   

16. Favorite Quote?

"Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward."  -  Kurt Vonnegut

17. Favorite Actor?

Gary Sinise.

18. Favorite Color?


19. Loud music or soft?

Soft music played loudly.  Think: blasting Dan Fogelberg.

20. Where do you go when you are sad?

To wine.

21.  How long does it take you to shower?

Why?  You planning on robbing my house?

22.  How long does it take you to get ready in the morning?

For morning carpool?  Dude.  I wear a pink robe and don't comb my hair. 

23. Ever been in a physical fight?

See aforementioned "I tried to kill Megan with a hairdryer."

24. Turn on?

Unconditional love.

25. Turn-off?

The inability to laugh.

26. The reason I started blogging?

I couldn't write a thank-you note without looking up "sincerely" in a dictionary.

27. Fears?

Harm to loved ones.  Possums.  Heights.  Ebola.

28. Last thing that made you cry?

A photo of a military mom hugging her kids goodbye.

29. Last time you said you loved someone?

About five minutes ago to my youngest.  I say "I love you" more often than I blink.

30. Meaning behind the name of your blog (We Band of Mothers)?

It's a spin on the St. Crispin's Day speech in Shakespeare's Henry V:

From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered -
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother....

My purpose was to invoke the same kind of shared experience and valor behind motherhood.

31. Last book you read?

Just finished up Dick & Jane (volume 9) about twenty minutes ago.  See. Spot. Go.

32. Book you are currently reading?

I start and stop reading books constantly, and then I begin mixing up the plots.  Right now, I am trying not to confuse Fairy & Folk Tales of Ireland with Oprah.

33. Last show you watched?

Whatever foodie show Joe had on before bed last night.

34. Last person you talked to?

My youngest, Joey.  Our dialogue never really ends, mostly because neither one of us  stops talking.

35. The relationship between you and the person you just texted?

We are of no relation, sir.  (Can you name the movie?  Can ya?  Can ya??)

36. Favorite food?

Cake.  No, wait.  COOKIES.  Hang on.  Yes....CAKE.  This was the hardest question yet.

7. Place you want to visit?

I'd like to see the Catacombs of Rome before I die.

38. Last place you were?

I was there before I was here.

39.  Do you have a crush?

Let's just say I wouldn't throw Chris Hemsworth out of bed.

40. Last time you kissed someone?

Again, Joey.  The kid lives at my elbow.  He might be under the impression that I am Jesus.

Last time you were insulted?

Joey told me five minutes ago I needed a shower.  As if. 

42. Favorite flavor of sweet?

Sweet red.

What instruments do you play?

I have remedial piano skills, just enough to convince the kids I know whether they have practiced or not.

44. Favorite piece of jewelry?

A beaded necklace Danny made for me in preschool.

45. Last sport you played?


46. Last song you sang?

I hum and sing I'll Fly Away all the time.  I think it makes the kids nervous.

47. Favorite chat up line?

Wanna take a 50-question quiz?

48. Have you ever used it?

I'm about to.

49.  Last time you hung out with anyone?

I am never, ever alone.  As a borderline recluse, this is very unnerving.

50. Who should answer these questions next?

Ooooh.  Who is going to kick me off their Christmas card list?  How about the hilarious Andi from Delusions of Ingenuity, the funny AND crafty Kirby from Kirb Appeal, and the funny-turns-profound-turns-arty Lillian from It's a Dome Life.

Please don't kill me.