Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Good Grief

The one about death, loss, and jellyfish.

Click HERE for today's Chicago Parent.

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Beauty of Motherhood

The following column appears in the March edition of Chicago Parent.

It was the moment I had been dreading since my son Jack joined his squirt hockey team last fall. My fears had nothing to do with injury. I was not concerned about locating some remote suburban ice rink. This time, my angst arose from an entirely new development.

I was going to have to attend a weekend tournament at a Wisconsin Dells water resort IN MY BATHING SUIT.

My husband, Joe, did not see the problem. He began Yelping restaurants in the area immediately. My kids discussed rides and slides. While the family rejoiced and planned, my post-Christmas body and I flopped down in sad despair.

Damn you, Snickerdoodles.
Damn you, pasty white skin.

Damn you, ice hockey.

After checking into our room, my kids and husband sprinted to the water area before unpacking a single towel. My swim dress and I opted instead for a slow saunter. This was mostly done to keep inner thigh “swooshing” to a minimum. Yet during the three-mile hike from one end of the hotel to the other, I noticed something unusual:

I was in the LAND of swim dresses.  I had finally found my people.

Indoor water parks attract minivan moms at a far greater rate than they attract twenty-somes with taut stomachs. Looking around, I realized my wobbly bits were in great company amongst women floating in lazy rivers and having a fantastic time with their children.

Nobody cared that my body was not perfect. Parents were too busy chasing down their own kids and spending exorbitant amounts of money on waterpark hot dogs to give me a second glance.

Inspired, I relaxed in a deck chair, ordered a fifty dollar beer, and thanked my lucky stars for having invested in several years’ worth of swim lessons for the boys. It was going to be a magnificent weekend after all.

Right around the third drink and fourth People magazine, my youngest son approached and stared incredulously at my fantastically gaudy glitter toe nail polish and raved:

“You look BEAUTIFUL, mommy!”

I never grow tired of how excited my kids get when I put on anything other than sweats. On the rare occasion I get dolled up for an evening with my husband, I feel like a movie star walking the red carpet.

“Twirl around, mommy!”

“You look so pretty!”

“Can we come??”

There is a lot to be said about being the mother of sons. In many ways, I am their gold standard of beauty and grace. It does not matter that I trip on air, or that there’s often lipstick on my teeth. They do not see my cellulite, wrinkles, or grey hair.

It is part of the magic of motherhood, and it reminds me of a line from Rodgers and Hammerstein:

Do I love you because you’re beautiful…or are you beautiful because I love you?

My heart knows the answer. To my boys, I am a goddess in a swim dress.

And it is the best feeling in the world.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Concussions, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Me

My obsession with sports injury is pathological.

Yet the universe (and patented military technology adapted for athletics) answered my prayers.

Full story HERE in today's Chicago Parent.

Photo credit:

Monday, March 9, 2015

Pop-Up Dyson Store Coming to Skokie!

I don't know about you guys, but after this winter? My minivan feels like hoarders have been living in there.

Hoarders who track in snow salts and gum wrappers.

Luckily, I have my handy dandy cordless Dyson to help out now that winter is finally in the early stages of a thaw. Sadly, I understand not everyone owns a magical Dyson.

That is why I'm writing today.  For two months only, Dyson will open its first-ever U.S. pop-up store at Westfield Old Orchard Mall in Skokie.

From March 2nd through April 30th, shoppers can experience just-launched Dyson technology, get hands-on demonstrations of every Dyson machine, participate in interactive activities for all ages and ENTER FOR AMPLE CHANCES TO WIN A NEW DYSON. 

I'm rather excited about their new sexy V6 Absolute which uses Hepa filtration:

The cordless babies are my favorites.  When one of Danny's friends was over the other day and witnessed me vacuuming, he commented, "My mom would LOVE one of those!"  I sh*t you not.

Events will run daily and include engineering workshops for children, complimentary car clean-outs and much more.

I could totally use that complimentary car clean-out.  If only the bank would stop doling out suckers, I wouldn't have to deal with all these sticks bouncing around and glomming onto seatbelts and center consoles.

See an up-to-date calendar of events HERE.  The Cube is located next to Macy’s at Westfield Old Orchard Mall (4999 Old Orchard Center in Skokie).

If you end up checking it out, good luck & let me know if you buy or win a Dyson!  I need more people I can talk to about vacuums. 

I really, really like them.

Like a lot.

Good luck!!

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Complexity of Hair

The following column appears in the February edition of Chicago Parent.

My middle son’s hair sticks straight up. Jack often resembles one of those googly-eyed pencils you rub between your palms and the hair goes flying. My boy is a fantastic example of Dennis the Menace meets Andy Warhol.

For school pictures, I try my best to tame the wild beast. I load up on gel, blast the hair dryer, and implement that most time-honored mothering tradition of licking your hand and rubbing it across your kid’s scalp. A brief six to eight weeks later, the final results arrive: a classic photo of Jack looking like a deranged Muppet.

The thing is, I find it all rather funny. I don’t know if I am allowed to say that. In an era where so much emphasis is placed on building up kids’ egos and pretending that everybody is exactly the same, I am undoubtedly causing irreparable harm. After all, I have been pointing out Jack’s outlandish hair for the better part of nine years. People aware of this tell me constantly: “You are giving that poor child a complex.”

Sweet Jesus, NO. Not a complex.

Don’t complexes mean you will drop out of high school? Most serial killers have complexes, right? Complexes are the very reason nobody talks in elevators. WHAT IN THE NAME OF DR. SPOCK AND DR. PHIL HAVE I DONE??

Besides class photos, I rarely deal with Jack’s electric tresses. In the winter, hats exacerbate the situation, so I throw up my hands in merry surrender. I gleefully anticipate him coming home after a long day to reveal the glory of fourth grade hat head. One evening, I debriefed each of the kids on their day and Jack piped up:

"My teacher made me go to the bathroom and comb my hair."

I froze and panic set in. What kind of permanent psychological damage had been done because I failed to keep my kid’s hair under control? Was Jack mortified? Embarrassed? Did I need to investigate local therapists immediately? I asked what his response was.

He said he laughed.

Then he went to the bathroom and combed his hair. I asked if his teacher was angry about him being so askew. He said no. He said she was laughing, too.

I realized then that experts are idiots. There is basically nothing more hilarious than a nine-year-old with crazy ass hair, and the sooner the world recognizes this fact, the happier it will be. Jack, his teacher, and I all understand comic gold when we see it. But everyone else?

I think they might have a complex.

Monday, February 9, 2015

James Dyson Award & a Very Big Ball

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned below for free in the hope that I would review it on my blog. I only recommend products or services I use personally. 


You all know I love my Dyson vacuums.  I tuck them in each night.  I hug them.  They complete my life.

Yet I'm not going to lie.  Every once in a while, one of my guys starts acting out.  They don't get all the Legos.  They miss a couple of Froot Loops.  This usually results in an immediate call to the Dyson help-line.  Our usual conversation:

Marianne:  Hi, it's me again.

Dyson:  Hi, Mar.  Did one of the fellas miss a couple of Cheerios this week?

Marianne:  Froot Loops....they were on sale.  BUT HOW DID YOU KNOW??

Dyson:  It's in our files.  You remember what the problem is, right?  We've gone over this a few times.


Dyson:  The filter.  You need to clean it every few months.


Dyson:  Not ringing a bell?  

Marianne:  Sounds a bit familiar.

Dyson:  According to our files, you're also due to change your furnace filter, so think about that as well.

Marianne:  I thought it was cold in here.

Dyson:  We'll talk to you in a few months then?

Marianne:  I love you.

Dyson:  We know.


Now wouldn't you know what the next great Dyson machine has? 

NO FREAKING FILTERS!  The Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal & Allergy is like a dream come true. 

And I really like saying "Big Ball."  Makes me giggle.

Once again, Dyson has peered into my inept heart and figured out exactly what was needed to enable my disorganized life. Although my family does not include any pets, we all suffer from allergies.  I could not believe the amount of fine dust and particles this bad boy sucked up:

Now if Dyson could only invent a furnace that also did not require filters, I could die happy. 

In other big Dyson news, the James Dyson Award is kicking off early this year. The contest runs in 20 countries and is open to undergraduate and graduate students. With college tuitions sky-rocketing, keep in mind:

The top prize is $45,000 for the student or team and $7,500 for their university!

Past winners have further developed inventions that will shape the future, including the Copenhagen Wheel which turns bikes into hybrids. It recently received $4 million in funding and will begin commercial production this spring in Detroit, MI. US runner-up Revolights designed LED rings for bike wheels, and was also featured on ABC’s Shark Tank in March of last year.

So for all you aspiring engineers out there (or parents of aspiring engineers who are funding their classes and beer consumption), please spread the word! 

Off to vacuum!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would review it on my blog. I only recommend products or services I use personally. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”