Week 30 of The Contest has me honoring a product I wish I knew about during last year's Polar Vortex. Better late than never!
Dear HotHands Hand Warmers,
Based on the expression “cold hands, warm heart,” I am practically Mother Teresa.
That is, my hands are blocks of ice most of the time. I also have a very cold nose. This quite possibly qualifies me as part Labrador.
With three sons who love the outdoors and all things winter, I have suffered through many cold seasons with empty bags of Wonder Bread covering my hands beneath mittens. I figured if it was good enough to do in the 1970s, it was certainly good enough to do now.
The kids? They never get cold.
For the record, it is SO not good enough.
Recently, one of my son’s hockey dads gifted me with HotHands Hand Warmers. The result?
I could not rid my pantry of hundreds of empty Wonder Bread bags fast enough.
How I did not know about this miraculous invention is beyond baffling.
But this winter?
I don't even hate sledding.
And maybe I even took the kids to an outdoor ice rink.
All because of you.
And your Hand Warmers.
While I have not received a response to date, I am still holding out hope - which leaves my total at 69. To check out the competition, visit Andrea today!
The following appears in the January edition of Chicago Parent
As a confirmed neighborhood grouch, I am baffled at how many children continue to knock on my door looking for one of the boys. I do not dole out treats, fluids of any kind, or even Band-Aids. The word went out a long time ago that if you are hungry, thirsty, or bleeding, just pray that Mr. Walsh is home instead of the scary shrew who requires kids to drink water from the hose out back.
Despite my reputation as The Evil Queen, kids still appear. Typically, visitors fall into one of two categories:
(A) Boys who panic and run when I answer the door; or
(B) Boys who seem unimpressed with my penchant for profanity and whose body language suggests: “That’s all you got, lady?”
I tend to prefer the lads from Group B.
I also tend to prefer their parents.
Flying in the face of my affirmed grumpiness, a few kids have actually worked themselves into my cold dead heart. One such exception appeared on the doorstep a while back, and I nearly missed him given his slight stature. When my gaze finally turned downward, this brazen moppet of big eyes and fuzzy hair had only one question:
“WHADJA DO WITH JACK?”
Taken aback, I answered the only way I thought was appropriate given the circumstances:
“I locked Jack in the basement next to the furnace. He wouldn’t practice his piano. And he got a B on his math test.”
The kid half-smiled, assessed his worthy new opponent, and decided to volley it right back:
“So, can I go down and uncuff him?”
“Be careful,” I grinned deviously, “the basement is where we hide all the bodies.”
Without missing a beat, without so much as a blink, this tiny little six-year-old leaned in with a twinkle in his eye and asked in hushed whisper:
“Just so I know…how many bodies we talking?”
I nearly peed myself.
I often forget the individual nature of children who arrive at my house, and tend to view them all as interchangeable members of the eating and wrecking division of Beverly.
Moms with teenagers tell me to hold on and wait. They insist that one day, the tide will turn and I will thoroughly adore these young people with my whole heart. They say that each time I yell and laugh and remind them not to go near white vans with tinted windows, I am actually earning credits towards a future where I get to enjoy and marvel at the amazing adults they become.
It was this idea that had me scoffing last week as I struggled to haul in groceries from my minivan.
Suddenly, one of my ten-year-old’s friends appeared behind me and asked earnestly:
“Do you need some help with those, Mrs. Walsh?”
As the boy carried in heavy bags and bottles, the idea that I could love and appreciate children who grow up alongside my own suddenly didn’t feel so far-fetched after all.
It is the theme of my life. I should have met my husband a hundred times before I was 27 years old. We knew many of the same people. We went to the same college. I once celebrated St. Patrick's Day at his house ten minutes after he departed for another bash.
In many ways, Joe could have easily been another near-miss. The Fates must have been ready to pull their hair out by the time they successfully got us together in the same hotel lobby (me as an event planner and Joe as a union decorator) two days after a late-night, beer-infused first encounter at the legendary Old St. Pat's block party.
Danny, aged 5, waiting for his daddy to come home from firehouse.
That night, Joe offered me a free bratwurst. I convinced myself that this guy was obviously not "the one." The love of my life would be a sushi sophisticate, perhaps a North Shore grad, and surely not some sausage-hawking southsider.
Then we spotted each other in that lobby. It was pure coincidence. And the most important near-miss of my life to date was averted.
I have had near-misses involving national tragedies, sorted scandals, and plain old stupid decisions that would have resulted in great unhappiness.
I do not know if I have an angel on my shoulder or if I am just plain lucky.
That is a lie.
I totally have an angel on my shoulder. I call her Barb. For some reason, Barb has been steering me away from misfortunate my entire life.
Not that I haven't experienced misfortune.
But Barb has a great track record. I don't think she sleeps much.
Last night, I was driving home with all three of my sons in the minivan. We had done some last-minute shopping. Danny needed a Christmas outfit (I had to battle with him to see that track pants and a hoodie weren't appropriate clothes to mark the Savior's birth). It was also a ploy so I could give my husband time to assemble the large metal wagon the kids were getting for Christmas to support their new recycling business.
It was rainy and dark. The roads were packed. I came to a stop at a light that already had a line going back countless cars. A few seconds later, some sort of noise (I am not sure if it was honking or the screech of brakes) drew my attention. A car came barreling along and drove onto the sidewalk next to me. The driver then smashed full-on into a streetlight.
That was when time stood still. Shocked, I watched as the streetlight began to topple. Jammed into my spot by traffic, I had nowhere to go to get out of its way. I anticipated the trajectory, and realized with horror it was about to smash into the passenger side of my minivan, closest to Dan.
I didn't have any time to pull my son away or even formulate a plan before the post landed harmlessly next to us, with maybe two inches to spare.
Shakily, I was able to turn off the main street and call 911 for help. I then walked back over to the other driver to see if she was okay. My kids were following me, freaking the hell out, and begging to go back to the safety of the minivan on the side street as cars whizzed by. They wouldn't go back without me, though. And I needed to stay with the young driver until police arrived.
It was the most important near-miss I have every experienced.
And once again, I know I have the best guardian angel ever.
I also realize that if Barb has moved on and now sits on Dan's shoulder, I have much to celebrate. She has been a great protector and she knows where my heart lies.
Danny. Jack. Joe.
And that sausage guy that started it all.
I would like to wish every reader out there much love, happiness, and protection for the year ahead. As for me, I will continue to be humbled at the great many gifts I have been given.
But for a simple turn of fate, how much I would truly miss.