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.  Until...you 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?

Wack-a-doodle.

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?

Green.

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?

Tennis.

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.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Week 17: The Contest - H2O

For Week 17 of The Contest, I chose vanity.  I discovered H2O products through a friend, but not being much of a beauty product kinda gal, it took me a while to give the stuff a whirl.  My thoughts?  See letter below.  Also, if you have a chance to swing by Chicago Parent, there is an essay on my recent eviction from Little Kid Land.  It's more painful than one might think.

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Dear H2O,

Please forgive me for admitting this as it runs counter to everything you stand for, but until recently?

I washed my face with Dial soap every night.

If I remembered to wash my face at all.

I have always been a low-maintenance kind of gal, refusing to believe that some fancy-schmanzy elixir could really offer the fountain of youth. After all, I thought I was holding up rather well, looking far younger than my 41 years.

Until I tried on my mom’s glasses one afternoon.

Hol. E. Freaking. God.

I had more wrinkles than a Chinese Shar-Pei. Why hadn’t anyone told me??

I’m guessing my husband wanted to extend his life.

Anyway, I researched various facial remedies for the much-dreaded “the corners of my eyes look like the Grand Canyon” malady, and found your Face Oasis Hydrating Treatment. I noticed right away that my make-up no longer pooled and cracked in the deep divots of my peepers. I appeared fresher, younger, and less like I soaked myself in rubbing alcohol each night. I never thought this whole skin care thing had merit.

Yet I have officially renounced all ties to Dial.

Your convert,

Marianne Walsh

---------------------------------------------

Did H20 flood me with goodies (see what I did there...flood....water....I kill me).

OF COURSE.  Check out the haul below:

I shall be beautiful forever.
This brings my tally to 48.  To check out the competition, visit Andrea HERE.  The game is still tight and I'm suddenly re-thinking my decision to write Tiffany's. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Week 16: The Contest - Brookstone

Hi, gang!  It's already Week 16 of The Contest and things are heating up. 

I have also been busy waxing philosophical about PLAYDATES and BACK-TO-SCHOOL meltdowns over at Chicago Parent, so stop by if you're looking for a good rant. 

I rant with the best of them.

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Dear Brookstone,

I get cold feet.

Like a lot.

I don’t know if comes from living in Chicago, having hardwood floors, or possessing some rare foot anomaly, but my extremeties could easily be used to reduce the swelling in the sick and elderly.

My husband, oddly enough, has very warm feet. He refuses to let my tootsies anywhere near his side of the bed each night, insisting I could cause a heart attack with incidental contact.

As an aside, I really don’t think he’s taking the whole “for better or for worse” thing very seriously.

Anyway, I have never had much luck finding good house slippers that retain warmth while providing adequate support. That was until I got a pair of your Brookstone Comfort Slippers. Upon first sliding into my pair of these gems, life changed. My icicles thawed. I could feel the temperature of my entire body rise. I giddily cast aside the three pairs of socks I had been wearing and swore to never again be relegated to keeping my feet away from my husband, children, and rogue shoe salesman.

I am a new woman.

A new woman with warm feet.

Thank you for this amazing product. You may have not only saved a pair of feet, but a marriage and the eternal happiness of frozen footed moms everywhere.

Kind regards,


Marianne Walsh

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As of today's date, no response.

But I'm still holding out.

My total remains at 43.  For the competition's entry, stop by Andrea's HERE!

See you next week!

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!
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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

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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!

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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.
Sincerely,
 
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.