Friday, August 29, 2014

The Contest: Week 13 - Post Its

For Week 13 of The Contest, I had a hard time remembering who I wrote.

I should have put it on a Post-It.

Oh, wait.

Dear Post-It,

I am not a tech-savvy mom.  I do not program appointments into a fancy iPhone.  I do not receive email alerts regarding my subscription refills.  I am not even able to turn off my clock radio in the morning without waking up the entire family.

Even worse than being electronically challenged is having no memory.   I once considered giving all my children the exact same name so I’d remember which ones were mine at school pick-up.

Sadly, there is not an arsenal of tools readily available for a forgetful mom on the go.  And even if there was, I probably would have forgotten that information by now. 

But thank goodness for Post-Its. 

Bright, beautiful Post-Its. 

Post-Its do not require programming, batteries, or charging.  They stick elegantly to my refrigerator - reminding me when the next parent-teacher conference is every time I reach for a gallon of milk.  And because of Post-Its, I never run out of milk. 

Post-Its are my best friend.

My kids love them as well.  Unlike regular pieces of notebook paper or notepads, many Post-It notes come perfectly square.  While you may not think this is such a big deal, when you have kids who love origami, having ready-made perfect squares saves a lot of time in crafting a super-fleet of mini- Roman ships.

In a digital environment determined to rid the world of pen and paper, I stand in solid opposition.  The beauty, elegance, and simplicity of a hand-written note secretly planted in a school or work lunch is what love is all about

A real smiley face. 

Doodled hearts. 

A simple “I love you.

This is all done in a mother’s easily recognizable handwriting, a style that will be remembered and cherished no matter how many years have passed or how old that child becomes.

No, I do not want to live in a world without Post-Its. 

So never forget that.

But if you think you may, I can write a reminder on a Post-It for you.


Marianne Walsh


So did Post-It answer?  As of today's posting, no.  This keeps my point total at 37.  But never fear, I never stay down long. 

*maniacal laugh, maniacal laugh*

To check out the competition, visit Andrea HERE!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Crack Dealers Got Nothin' on Build-a-Bear

The time we were lucky to escape with milk money at Build-a-Bear, click HERE for today's Chicago Parent.

Too bad the kid loves the joint.  See what I did there?

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Monkees, Micky Dolenz & Me

I grew up in a family with four kids, so naturally we spent a lot of time fighting over what to watch on our one television.

I liked Speed Racer.

My sister, Megan, adored Space Giants.

Johnny and Joey were devoted to all things baseball.

It was rare for us to agree on a single show, but there was one solitary exception.

That show was The Monkees.

Me (on right) looking like a Monkee myself and my mom looking HOT. 

As we watched old re-runs, we would sit immobile, mesmerized by the Neil Diamond and Carole King penned tunes.  Micky Dolenz, despite modern reports to the contrary, was the true front man of the group, not Davy Jones. Dolenz sang lead on seven of the group's ten biggest hits. 

I worshipped him.  His amazing vocal range and downright silliness were a two-pronged attack on my heart.  Interestingly, several of his songs are finding new popularity courtesy of cable television. Todd and Walt cooked meth together  to Goin' Down on Breaking BadMad Men featured The Porpoise Song.

Dolenz did not write many tunes for The Monkees, but he did write my favorite. The song is Randy Scouse Git, and it encompasses his experiences meeting his future wife ("the being known as Wondergirl") and The Beatles ("the four kings of EMI") while visiting London.

The song starts out all light-hearted and happy.  Micky makes faces into the camera.  We are meant to believe this song and the man himself have very little substance.

But then the tempo changes.

The song becomes angry, accusatory, and indignant.  The final refrain:

Why don't you cut your hair?
Why don't you live up there?
Why don't you do what I do,
See what I feel when I care?
Why don't you be like me?
Why don't you stop and see?
Why don't you hate who I hate,
Kill who I kill to be free.

It is Mr. Dolenz's opus.

And it still speaks to me to this day.

Often, I feel the need to play the role of the clown.  In a world where everyone is screaming for validation, FEEL MY PAIN!  SEE MY HURT!  SUPPORT MY CAUSE!, the clown is the safe role.  The clown is not expected to have substantial thoughts.  The clown is pliable to the rhetoric at hand.

It is a master disguise.

And Micky Dolenz knew it.

But he showed his hand with Randy Scouse Git.  He was tired of getting yelled at.

Like Micky, I am on empathy overload, not humanly capable of feeling extreme passion over every pain, every hurt, and every cause that screams across my television, computer, and newspaper.  Sometimes, like Micky, I just want to find a place to hide.  Does this make me apathetic?  Or simply numb to screaming?

Perhaps it is a call to start minding those who speak in whispers and thoughtful reflection.  The poets.  The songwriters.  The composers. 

Randy Scouse Git has never been more timely or needed.  I hope everyone gives it a listen and takes something away from it.

There is gold in that curly-haired tablecloth.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Contest: Week 12 - JanSport School Bags

Just in time for back-to-school, I decided to profess my admiration for JanSport school bags for The Contest.  Find out the results below and where this puts Andrea and I in our ultimate battle for letter-writing superiority!

Dear JanSport,
I have three boys.  Perhaps if you have sons, you are aware of the demolition properties of the male sex.  Over the last decade, my boys have ripped apart the stitching in the family minivan, broke apart the front door, and disassembled every baby gate I ever owned.

Despite this, they are good kids.  They play chess, the piano, and ice hockey.  They are extremely kind and compassionate to their friends and neighbors.  They never mean to cause damage, and they are always very remorseful when it happens. 

It’s just that they are pretty much the equivalent of the iceberg in relation to the RMS Titanic.

Based on previous experience, it was always assumed I’d be buying two or three school bags a year for each son.  Whether it was ripped stitching or another busted zipper, no bag seemed capable of surviving a full semester with my boys.

Yet that all changed this year when I bought JanSport bags.

In the midst of one of the coldest and harshest winters in Chicago history, our three JanSport bags stand proud.  There is hardly a scratch or blemish on them.  They look as good now as the day I bought them.

Thank you, JanSport.  In today’s world where everything seems designed for a limited life-span, you have restored my faith in quality goods.  On behalf of my family, thank you.

Now if you might consider designing kid shoes, I would really appreciate it. 


Marianne Walsh


So did they chuckle?  Did they call?  Did they drop an extra-strong new bag in my lap?


No matter.  I'm still devoted.  Once again, I am going to assume they are monograming a new product just for me.  Perhaps #1 Mom in gold thread.

It's important to have dreams.

Anyway, that leaves my score firmly at 37.  Find out how Andrea did today by clicking HERE!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Sending Kids Back to School with a Message

In today's Chicago Parent, I felt it was the right time to talk to my kids about more than just doing homework and behaving in school.

Heading back to school can be traumatic for many parents and children.

Read about it HERE.

Shipping the boys out last year.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Contest - Week 11: Little Trees for the Lead!

When Andrea and I started The Contest, neither one of us was a stickler for deadlines, response times, or firm rules. 

As it turns out, this is a really good thing.

For me, anyway.

Remember my super-awesome post on Little Trees Air Fresheners?  The one that didn't get a response, but who-cares-because-I-love-my-minivan-trees-no-matter-what?

Turns out, they did not technically get my letter.  I may have accidentally sent it to the Ped Egg people instead.

Like I said.  I'm not known for my vast organizational skills.

Anyhoo, the swell Consumer Relations guru over at Little Trees (we'll call her "Susan"...mostly because her name is Susan) got wind of my Shakespearean pros regarding their fine air fresheners, and wouldn't you know?

BOOYAH.  5 points, bringing my total to 37.

In addition, these Perk Adjusta-Scents have me rather intrigued.

Did I mention we just got back from a week at the beach where we left dirty laundry marinating in lake water in the hot minivan for days?

I'm assuming the Perk Adjusta-Scents offer an emergency setting.

To check out the competition, be sure to visit Andrea today!  In the meantime, I will be trimming my minivan with my many, many trees.  Christmas in August, baby!

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Contest - Week 10: Ped Egg

Yes, it's that time again.  Time for results of The Contest! I got super-serious this week and wrote about a pertinent summer topic - flip flop feet.  Did the Ped Egg people respond?  Find out below!


Dear Ped Egg,  

I’m not going to lie.  When I first saw your Ped Egg on a television infomercial, I laughed.  How could a miniature cheese grater  do all that?

I am not laughing now.

After several long summers spent in flip-flops walking to and from the local park with three children, my feet were approaching elephant tusk status.  Thick cracked skin and callouses frightened away even those with the most steadfast of foot fetishes. My husband started encouraging me to wear socks.

Too cheap to pay for expensive spa treatments, I thought I would just have to accept my life as a nasty-footed mom.  Glamorous strappy sandals were out.  I longed to be one of those people with more dainty and delicate feminine feet than myself…namely my husband.  So I decided to give Ped Egg a go.

After only a few short minutes of gently rubbing the Ped Egg in the advised “circular motion,” I saw PINK.  I had not seen pink or flesh-colored tones on the bottom of my feet in years.  What kind of sorcery was this?

Then, morbid curiosity took over.  What awaited inside this magic foot grater?  What remnants of humanity lingered within?  Hesitantly, I cracked open the light blue plastic container and had a look.

It was practically fairy foot dust.

Years’ worth of rough and parched foot had been relegated to fluffy little bits of powdered tootsies.  I was breathless with admiration.  Pumice stones, loufahs, and lotions could not compare to the instant results of the wondrous Ped Egg.  I giddily tried on a pair of strappy heels I had purchased pre-children (shoes  that had not seen the light of day for years).  Right then and there, I decided to never, ever take them off again. 

So thank you, Ped Egg.  Because of you, I finally have prettier feet than my husband.   Now if you have something for stretched and dangling mom stomachs, I would owe you BIG.


Marianne Walsh


Any company with a sense of humor to invent foot graters had to respond, right?

I totally scored a spare Ped Egg:

Thank you, Ped Egg.  You're one-half kitsch and one-half the real deal.

Kinda like me.

This brings my score to 32.  To check out the competition, visit Andrea HERE today!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Short in the Tooth

I wrote about how rough and tumble boys can be HERE and then this happened:

Kid cracked his tooth off (again) by WALKING into another kid.
Based on the laws of irony and serendipity, I shall most definitely write about winning the lottery tomorrow.

But if that doesn't work out, anyone know a good dental school?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Monkey Love

The following appears in the August edition of Chicago Parent magazine  It was inspired by my meatball-loving son who I hope will one day forgive me for not being much of a cook.  Instead, I trust him to remember my many, many foot rubs. 

In the 1950s, famed psychologist Harry Harlow conducted a series of attachment parenting experiments using baby monkeys.  He crafted together wire mesh monkey “mothers” with milk dispensers fastened to them.  These were to serve as surrogate parents to the monkey babies.    

Harlow then tied a soft terrycloth rag around other wire mesh monkey mothers who did not have food dispensers.  Harlow found that during times of fear and anxiety, the baby monkeys would cling to their soft terrycloth mothers and not to the ones who actually fed them.
This landmark study sat in the back of my brain for over twenty years before I realized its implications. 

I am a terrycloth monkey mother.
There is no food dispenser attached to me.  My children will never look back upon their childhoods in relation to any elaborate meals or fresh-baked cookies from mom.  When my youngest son arrived home with a recipe from French class, he asked if he could call my friend, Lucy, because “she can cook, mommy!”  My middle son was undergoing speech therapy years back when he suddenly removed the mother figure from a kitchen play-board.  He immediately replaced it with the daddy figure, shaking his head emphatically to indicate mommies simply do not belong in the kitchen.

Lest anyone think I starve the boys, there are a few basics I have learned to make when my husband, who is a masterful cook, is at the firehouse.  Corn Flakes.  Tacos.  Hamburgers.
Did I mention Corn Flakes?

I hate cooking.  I do not follow directions.  The smell of raw meat is nauseating.  My kids usually turn up their noses whenever I do try a new recipe, mostly because of the whole “does not follow directions” part.
My husband dedicated a lot of time early in our marriage to help overcome my culinary deficiencies, offering patient guidance and suggestions.  Yet after almost a decade, the man now doesn’t trust me alone with a knife and onion.      

But I am cuddly.  Whenever I sit down on our couch, three boys flank me within seconds.  I scratch heads, rub feet, and offer unlimited hugs and kisses.  I adore holding hands. Sometimes, late at night, I sneak into my children’s rooms to rock them for just a few minutes before these days are gone forever.
I take consolation in Harlow’s findings that no amount of terrycloth mother love can alter the psychological damage to babies once deprivation occurs.  Hug early and often is the ultimate lesson of Harlow’s experiments.

I figure I can always learn to cook later.

Or buy Cheerios.

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Contest - Week 9: Little Trees Air Fresheners

This week's episode of The Contest contains my letter to the Little Trees air freshener people.  I do believe I'm overdue for a new tree and car wash.  Time to call hazmat.

Dear Little Trees, 

I suspect you probably have a very good handle on the existence of stinky cars and the wretched stenches within.  You know the kinds of odors I am talking about.  The ones capable of bringing even the most steadfast of minivan moms to her knees: 
  • Rotting food
  • Smelly gym shoes
  • Moldy book bags   
  • Dog poop
As the mother of three sons, my sense of smell has been so horribly assaulted over the years that I have often suggested to my husband we simply abandon our minivan and start over.  My husband’s response?

The minivan is only a few years old!  We’re still making the payments.  There is no way we are abandoning a car because you think it smells like rot.
Sadly, this comes from a man who cannot smell burning microwave popcorn three feet from his nose.  He has no credibility whatsoever.

The day I discovered your Mango Little Tree Fresheners, my life turned around.  Instead of wanting to drive my minivan off the nearest cliff, I popped in a reggae CD and let the glorious tropical scent waft through our pen-stained interior. I felt for sure that had there been a dead dog in the car, I would not have noticed.  Mango is just that powerful.  And for the record, there is not, nor has there ever been, a dead dog in my car. 

That I’m aware of. 

Some suggest that your company’s priorities are simply to make money and profit from the misfortunes of the minivan crowd.  I beg to differ.  Your little trees are obviously about the public good.  Think of all the carpool kids you have aided.  Think of the hundreds of minivan moms and their girls’ nights out - all salvaged because of you. 

You and your Little Trees. 

You have left your mark in my life like few have.  I am so lucky to have found you.  Your essence is with me forever, dangling in the review mirror and reminding me that whenever life gets stinky, there will always be sweet, sweet mango.


Marianne Walsh


As of yet, there is still no response from the Little Trees people.  I'd like to think the reason is they are coming up with new savory scents for me at this moment.  So my score remains at 27.  To check out the competition, visit Andrea now by clicking HERE!