Sunday, December 30, 2012

And the Winner Is....

In the category of Best Moustache - 2012 at Joe's firehouse, the award goes to:


Larry "Mother-Flippin'" Jones (as listed on his official entry form, modified slightly for content).


Congratulations, Larry. 

Next year, next year.

And yeah, I'm talking to you, too, Chicago Bears.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Revisiting the Cast of "The Towering Inferno"

They just don't make good 1970's moustaches like they used to.

Or at least that's what I thought until my Christmas Day visit to the firehouse:


Click HERE for full explanation in Chicago Parent.

On a positive note, my boys also received first-hand lessons on how to axe annoying Clifford dolls:


Ho ho ho!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

My Battery Life



Lesson #1 learned at the Walsh household this Christmas: 

One can never, ever have too many batteries. 

 
I simply cannot believe how many toys Santa brought this year which require varying sizes of Duracells.  My kids have definitely entered into gadget-land in terms of toy selection.  Just about everything they requested required batteries, and I was not prepared.  Mostly because I hate reading boxes and instructions. 

I also hate peas.

But I do enjoy long walks on the beach.

My neglectful anticipation of battery needs is just one reason I am happy to be part of the P&G E-Store Launch where I invite everyone to check out the land of discounted bulk battery purchases.  A link to the store and some battery choices below. 

Be sure to take note of my rather inspired link names.  Because when it's the wee hours of the morning after Christmas, I get a little slap-happy in discovering just how many batteries I still need to buy:

I didn't realize I needed this many flippin' AA batteries

Ahh...but did you also buy toys requiring AAA's?  Yeah, I got you covered there, too:

And NOW I need AAA's, too?  This sucks

But it's not like those battery people want to send you off without a smile.  Click below to win some free batteries:

I need to win me some free batteries link

In a unique tie-in of batteries AND diapers, visit here:

Why the heck not?  Diapers & batteries go together like fish & chips

But what about that new toy vacuum requiring those big round "D" batteries?  I thought of those, too:

Big Round D batteries which just makes me wonder "why round?"

Anyone buy Hexbugs?  These batteries should work fine:

Hexbug batteries - those little round ones that I think also go in hearing aids

I'm told that people sometimes need those square 9V batteries, too:

It's hip to be square batteries

Be sure to use the promo code: A9Z-MN5-KY3-ISA for an additional 15% off on first-time orders.

Yeah.  I'll be loading up.   

On batteries, that is.

After that?  I feel certain I may experience a little post-holiday meal stomach upset.  I ate a LOT of turkey and ice cream.  And brownies.  And cheese.  I may just need something to soothe my spirits and my stomach:

Click here for Pepto

I won't lie.  The chocolate chip cookies were worth it.  But I'm glad there's a remedy.

Here's wishing everyone a battery-full life with plenty of cookies! 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Christmas Miracle

Merry Christmas!

Quick holiday story:

Jack had one of those hanging-by-a-thread front teeth that he refused to brush a few weeks ago.  It was turning yellow and brown, and it grossed me out beyond words.

So when he and a buddy were playing football and the tooth finally got knocked out, I was eternally grateful.  It was a holiday gift to me.

But Jack was in tears over his inability to find the lost tooth in his friend's front lawn.

He added the item hopefully to his Christmas list:

Note:  the kid also received his requested box of "Fruity Peebles."
Can you guess what showed up under the tree last night?


It was a Christmas miracle!

May all your holiday wishes be granted this Christmas Day, and may Santa always have a special reserve of extra teeth in his top dresser drawer just in case.   

Because you never know.

Ho ho ho!

My gift?  The best group of wonderful cousins for my boys.  These kids rock.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Banishing Bah Humbug

I will be the first to admit that I have not been in the best of holiday spirits.  Our living room has been in disarray due to some home repairs, and the chaos depleted my desire to decorate:

Now imagine the smell of wet dog.  And think dust.  LOTS of dust.  That would be my living room.
 
With an inch of plaster stuck to everything, I personified the word testy.  Additionally, Joe is set to work at the firehouse Christmas Day, so I knew all kid-related preparations would be left to yours truly.  My Grump-O-Meter hit an all-time high, and little Joey was happy to share his latest drawing, one that he christened "Crabby Mommy":

For a kid who doesn't draw a lot, I think he captured my face quite well.

But then things began to change.

First, Daniel arrived home from school this Friday (the last school day before Christmas) with a few meager contraband items that I'm sure were not sanctioned by CPS.  He promptly turned over the best one to his unpleasant mother:


Then I picked up Jack.  Jack has been studying the artwork of Marc Chagall, and proudly gifted me with his own stylistic interpretation of the artist:

He did this all without a single Sharpie.

Then things got really crazy.

Lillian, blogger and artist extraordinaire, sent me a few of her beautiful magnets that are quite literally mini-works of art:


More of Lillian's offerings can be found HERE.
Next up, Julie (co-author and blogger from Mothers of Brothers Blog) showed a gracious penchant for forgiveness.  She has been the first-hand recipient of my month-long cantankerous state.  She surprised me with this:

Because I'm a Leo.  And I roar.
And who do you suppose provided the biggest laugh at the most opportune time?  Why that would be Andrea from Maybe It's Just Me.  Andrea and I share a sick love of potty humor.  We're kind of one that way:

I've been threatening to wear this out of the house if the boys don't behave.  It's been working better than Santa Claus.

And just when I thought there could not be a single thing more that could lift me out of my funk, there was a knock at the door.  It was our neighbor Elisabeth bearing the most perfect of liquid medicines:

There were also cookies, but I'm taking The Fifth on what happened to those.
As last night drew to a close, our disheveled living room finally took shape.  While the ladder and paint preparations still remain out, the dust and debris of plastering disappeared:

I even hung stockings.
So thank you, world.  Thank you for showing a cranky (and slightly PMS-y) mom the beauty of human kindness and generosity.  I am embarrassed to admit that I am not as thoughtful and most of my gifts come in $10-$50 denomination gift cards to Target and Starbucks.  I am a gift-giving failure.

Yet these folks?  They are the ones who just made sure my kids would not have to suffer through Ebeneezer Mommy for the next few days.  They are the Tiny Tims of the world, and I am delighted to know them.

So Merry Christmas and God bless us...everyone!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Marianne's Excellent Adventure (aka "Coca-Cola's Balanced Living Workshop")


I was compensated for my participation in Coca-Cola's Balanced Living Workshop, but my thoughts and views are my own.

When Coca-Cola invited me to their two-day Balanced Living Workshop, I was giddy. Two days away from laundry and the kids! I would get to hang out with other Chicago-area mom bloggers! There was a cocktail party! 

Don't tell them this, but they pretty much had me at "hello."

Here a picture of me with my new BFF Tracy from Just Another Mommy Blog and taken by my other new BFF Kari from A Grace Full Life.  For some odd reason, I gravitated towards the funny bloggers.  We can spot lunacy from 50 feet.

I wasn't really sure what to expect, but I am still surprised by the number of take-aways from the event. Our group worked out with celebrity fitness trainer Harley Pasternak who permanently destroyed my faith in the "Sit-Up." Apparently, sit-ups just reinforce all the slouchy things we do throughout the day (sitting at a computer, driving, etc.).

Harley taught us to focus more on bending the other way with exercises like "The Superman" and "The Plank." I'm still sore, but by God, I've been better-postured since then and try to do a few each day for good measure. (All pictures, unless indicated, are courtesy of The Coca-Cola Company and Bruce Powell Photography)


Because ORANGE is such a good color choice while exercising and being photographed.  In my defense, the outfit was on sale AND I had a 30% off coupon.

Harley was kind of dreamy. Here he is photographed with someone who is NOT me - Kathy Benson from Bereaved and Blessed and local Beverly mom.  I knew I should've taken her down.

The dietitian also provided tips for getting my boys to eat healthier foods.  She suggested incorporating meals with lots of choices (salad bars, potato bars, etc.). My kids are total control freaks, as is their mother. So we've never enjoyed relaxed meals together without someone clamoring for something else.

What do you suppose happened when I laid out a salad bar with various options? Monumental hit.  The boys got to control their veggie and dressing selections while I got to control my aggravation. Smiles abounded. I will definitely be incorporating this idea again.

One of the most impressive workshops included a session with Coca-Cola Senior Manager of Education and Outreach, Joan Koelemay. Joan was understanding of the many questions, concerns, and issues that moms have regarding artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, and the impact of sugary drinks.   Plus, she was super-smart AND she thought I was funny. I kind of wanted to adopt her.

I think we were supposed to cut pictures out of magazines, but they had NEW SHARPIES.  For someone like me, new markers are practically crack cocaine.

Anyway, a clear message arose: moderation is integral to good health. It is better to indulge in two Oreos to satiate a sweet tooth than to eat an entire box of "low fat" cookies. Sugar and fat are not the enemy, but portion size is. 

Portion size extends to alcohol consumption.  This picture was taken at the cocktail party.  And why am I the one with the biggest smile?  I'll let you figure that one out.

Another interesting fact I took away from Joan's session was an explanation on why I have super-low blood pressure despite a rather high-sodium diet: CALCIUM. My cereal-as-dinner approach and resulting calcium intake have evidently been blunting sodium's impact on my blood pressure for years. Who knew?

I couldn't help but laugh when we headed to the grocery store and guess who Coke brought in to serve as nutritionist and shopping guide? Kim Kirchherr! You remember her, right? I met her when I brought doughnuts in for my big WGN interview, not realizing I'd be following the nutritionist expert Kim. It was another example of my gaffe-prone life.

Anyway, it was a fun and educational workshop that I feel extremely lucky to have been a part of. Will it impact the choices I make for my family going forward? Time will tell. But I did cut out a coupon for produce today.  And guess what I made for dinner last night:

Dan picked out the celery, Jack picked out the bean sprouts, and Joey wanted broccoli.  I do believe I may have brought the wrong baby home from the hospital with that last one...BROCCOLI??

Baby steps. 

Here's to a happy & healthy 2013 for all!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Popular

I love stories from a writer's heart.  Jewels from Frazzled & Frumpy is my amazing guest-blogger today.  She has eight kids.  Eight.  I looked it up and discovered she pretty qualifies for sainthood. 
 
So thank you for this wonderful post, Jewels.  You make me feel like Glinda singing to Elphaba in  Wicked (check out the live version on link, just because I love it so much).  But in all actuality, it is I who is green with envy. 
 
Have a read and be sure to follow Jewels.  Did I mention the eight kids thing?  Think of all the comedic potential.  Her well doth never run dry.
 
-----------------------
 
 
When Marianne asked me to write a guest post, I got some very unfamiliar feelings in my stomach. Feelings I always longed for, but rarely experience. 
 
I felt…popular.
 
1stgrade.JPGIt goes back to when I was in grade school. Our school had a yearly talent show. I remember well the day the sign-up sheet was passed around. I’d watch the other kids as they scribbled their names and talents on the clipboard. Then it would get to me. I so wanted to add my name.  Instead, I just passed it on. On to Lisa who sat behind me.  She signed it along with the word "piano."

I didn’t play the piano. Unless you counted chopsticks, but even then, you would have to show me where to start.   I didn’t sing.  Never could.   For a while, I fancied myself a gymnast.  I took one year of summer gymnastics.  I thought I was pretty special, too, because I could do a backbend.  Yep, I found out pretty quick that real gymnasts need more than one trick.

As for tricks, there was one boy in our school who always did magic for the talent show.   His dad was a professional magician.   Which means he got his gift through genes.   Totally unfair to us muggles.

The day of the talent show was filled with anticipation.   Kids dressed in their Sunday best.   Or even better, costumes.   Lisa sat behind me in her flowy dress and Mary Janes.   The talented ones got to leave class early to set up.   I would walk with the rest of the drudges, kicking the floor with my brown loafers.

I was a writer.  I knew this from a very young age.   But, writing isn’t a performing talent. You can’t sit in front of a crowd and plug out a story.  I suppose you could recite one of your poems.   Imagine how popular that would make you. So I lived a life of watching others as they pranced and chortled and made cards disappear.

Then a few years ago, I discovered blogging.  Suddenly, I had a way to share my talent.  I found others like me.   I read their stuff and applauded them through comments.   And, amazingly, the favor was returned.   Every comment is like a mini ovation.  I read them and I am finally on stage, wearing a flowy dress and taking my bow.   I curtsy and smile through my blush.

Thanks to Marianne for allowing me to feel popular today. I am pretty sure she owns more than one pair of Mary Janes.
 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Joey Strikes Again

Joey ran around the morning of his preschool "Picture Day" looking for that little something extra.

And he found it:


The kid makes me laugh every day.  But this week, I needed it more than ever.

Full story here in today's Chicago Parent.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Joey Lends a Hand

Congratulations to Robyn H. and Tracey from Just Another Mommy Blog for their Joey-selected  wins in the Baskin-Robbins cake contest.  I will have Baskin-Robbins send your $31 gift certificates today so hopefully you have them in time for Christmas to get one of these adorable cakes.


The Prize
 
Here is the official prize selection video.  Forgive me for suggesting you were actually winning a book in it, I hadn't had my coffee yet.  And we all know how bad I am under pressure (see: Marianne's horrendous performance on WGN radio show).

Congrats Robyn & Tracey!!

video


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Seven

Several months ago, Jack asked his piano teacher to teach him a special song.

Pachelbel's Canon in D.

It is my favorite.

Despite the song being ahead of where Jack is musically, he worked hard at it for the last few months to have it ready for his winter recital this weekend:


video


Jack is seven years old.  He is the same age as those beautiful children lost in Connecticut this week.  He is funny and serious.  He is half baby and half boy.  He loves sports and drawing.  He hoards stuffed animals as though he was Noah preparing for the great flood.

I could not imagine my life without him.

When I think of what has been lost, what we all lost, it is too much.  I instead turn off the television, put away the Kleenex, and listen to Jack play Canon in D

And then I am reminded all over again.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Baskin-Robbins Apparently Loves You Guys


In a certain chapter in a certain Top 10 Hot Release Book (see bottom of page for evidence as I have been known to eek out the occasional white lie now & then), there is a chapter on Baskin-Robbins ice cream cakes.  A certain co-author shared some funny reflections on the great joy (and occasionally, the great sorrow) in loving frozen desserts.

Naturally Baskin-Robbins contacted us.

And because I love you guys more than brownies and liposuction put together, I am happy to host a contest for their adorable holiday cakes this year:

I'm ordering Frosty.

So listen to this.  Baskin-Robbins will provide a $31 gift certificate to TWO lucky winners of our contest.  How do you win?  First, comment below on what you think of the new cakes (I kind of want to sleep with one, but I know how that relationship would end). 
 
Second, email me at mostlymarianne@gmail.com by December 18th the answer to this question:
 
What is the name of Julie's essay about Baskin Robbins?
 
I will select two winners from the pool of people who send me the right answer.  Make sure you include your mailing address so I can provide that to Baskin-Robbins right away for sending out your gift cards.
 
Good luck!!
 
Fine, this list changes hourly, but I for one am reveling in feeling like Bo Derek for a few minutes. 
 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What Was the Deal with Alice From "The Brady Bunch?"

Click here for today's Chicago Parent to find out what was really going on with those groovy Bradys. 

A hint:


Saturday, December 8, 2012

The Post for People Who Like Short Posts

Hello all!

First up - my Aunt Ellen just sent this classic photo of me standing up in her wedding (a follow up to the Chicago Parent story on my love of cake).  I had THE look of the era - a 1978 Dorothy Hamill haircut. 

Everyone thought I was a boy.



Second - thank you to the fabulous blogger Mama Melch for asking her daughter Annika to "review" the new book!  I'm trying not to take her comments too personally, given that I apparently rate somewhere between Dora and Caillou.  Check out her comments at Midwestern Berliners.

Alright.  Best get back to enforcing a marathon piano practice session before the big recital.  Stay tuned!


Friday, December 7, 2012

When Donuts Die


I think I'm going to have to bring donuts to Caroline Connors at The Review to thank her for the nice write-up below.
 
The sad thing is, Dat Donut is no longer on 111th.  Dat Donut owned me.  What to do...what to do?
 
The Beverly Bakery donuts I brought to Chicago Parent Magazine yesterday were a hit.  I was there doing a super-fancy "photo shoot" which highlighted the glory of my 7 chins for the new column starting in January.
 
After that, I met up with Miniature Friend and some of the gals to celebrate her November birthday (which I delayed because I had to fit into that bridesmaid dress).  Miniature Friend walked into the restaurant carrying the proof copy of my new book and a stranger ran up to her, excitedly, to ask:
 
What are you READING???
 
I swear to God, she was not a paid actress.
 
So that made me really happy.
 
Anyhoo, I am sorry for not being particularly pithy as of late.  I promise that once I start sleeping a little better and cutting down on my Red Bull intake, things will return to normal.  Or at least as "normal" as you have ever known me to be (borderline at best).
 
Thank you again to everyone who has shown such wonderful support.  This has been a crazy ride, but also a whole lot of fun!
 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Coca-Cola's "Balanced Living" Workshop to Include One Slightly Unbalanced Mom


I was compensated for my participation in Coca-Cola's Balanced Living Workshop, but my thoughts and views are my own.
Can Coca-Cola "Balance" Marianne? Stay Tuned! I believe I am one of a handful of people on the planet who knows every single Coca-Cola jingle by heart.  Remember this gem?

Coke is it.
The biggest taste you've ever found.
Coke is it.
The one that never lets you down.
Coke is it.
The most refreshing taste around.
Coke is it.
Coke is it!

And because of my single-minded devotion to rewards programs, you also know I have an extra place in my heart for Coke's rewards catalogue (despite the fact that their supply of nifty Coke oven mitts ran out before I accrued enough points to order them):

So imagine my surprise when I received an invitation to attend the upcoming Coca-Cola Balanced Living Workshop!  Now to be fair, the 8 year-old within had her own ideas about what this would entail:

"Coke for everyone!"

"Let's bathe in the stuff!"

"How about we make Coca-Cola flavored COOKIES??"

Once I reviewed the agenda, I realized the event is designed to help Chicago moms find a healthier and more balanced approach to living.

Uh oh.

I knew my day of reckoning was upon me.  I am only a few months shy of my 40th birthday.  It is high-time I start eating like a grown-up.  I also need to learn how to cook vegetables.  And turn on the oven.  And be a good example for my children.

Coca-Cola wanted to know what I was most excited about. 

The Cocktail Party. 

Duh. 

But after that, I am also excited about the fitness portion of the workshop.  After the public humiliation I suffered while wearing old maternity shorts during my tennis lessons last fall, I am happy to reveal that I now own work-out clothes.

Sure the tags are still on them, but the point is, mentally I'm ready.  I'm ready to sweat.  I'm ready to lose some jiggly parts.  I'm ready to welcome my 40s feeling a little tighter, a little more vegetable-d, and a little more aware of the model I set for my boys.

I believe practicing good health is 50% mindset.  And no matter what it takes, I am ready to embrace that mindset. 

Even if it takes some creative presentation:


Cheers!  And stay-tuned for my official review of the Coca-Cola Balanced Living Workshop!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Play, A Pizza & a Past

Click here for my latest in Chicago Parent on how I tried providing a little culture to my unsuspecting children:

"The Christmas Schooner" photo provided by Noreen Heron & Associates

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Chicago Parent Book Excerpt

Thank you, Tamara O'Shaughnessy, editor of Chicago Parent!  Our first "excerpt" below!

Yeah, Oprah.  I'm coming after you next.  Even if you do put yourself on the cover of every one of your issues. 

I respect that kind of gumption.