Saturday, December 31, 2011

Amy Chua, Where are You?

Whether you love her or hate her, I find Amy Chua (Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother) fascinating.  I think I was the only mom who stuck up for her at book club. 

In honor of Amy's approach to raising disciplined and focused kids, I tried using her threat of burning all the kids' stuffed animals if they didn't play a song perfectly.  Jack has been struggling with a piece for weeks and he never remembers to play the staccato notes correctly.

Unfortunately, when I employed Amy's threats, my kids laughed at me.  Repeatedly.  I tried to prove my point by getting out the matches.  That just resulted in a fit of giggles.

I have got to email Amy to find out what I'm doing wrong.

Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year's Delusion

I bought the Elliptical when I had hopes of losing the baby weight.

I transformed the Elliptical into the world's most expensive hanger within a year.

Do I dare try again?  Do I make another resolution only to fail?  And if I do get back on the proverbial horse, where will I hang all the "in-between" clothes (not quite clean, not quite dirty)?

Fat people problems, I know. 

"I see your cellulite.  And I know what size you wear, Fatty." 
The answer can be found in the last 15 Christmas cookies I ate.  It's time to touch my toes again...if they're still there.

But before I start, I've got a few Snickerdoodles to polish off.

Fair's fair.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Brookfield Zoo Redux

After 7 years, I let my yearly membership to Brookfield Zoo lapse this May.  With all the boys in school, the days of spontaneously heading out with my gaggle of toddlers were over.  I could no longer pop in on a dime.   It would all have to be carefully orchestrated and planned well in advance. And I'm not a planner.

So when Joe's brother handed us a packet of zoo tickets and a free parking pass that he won at some charity event, we opted to check out the Holiday Lights Event last night.  With a laser light show, holiday music, and other special events, we figured what the hell.

Despite all the seasonal offerings and special attractions, my kids returned to their roots.  They watered the plants at the Hamill Play Area for 45 minutes:

They watched the dolphins for an hour:

And they climbed on the same lion statues they've been scaling their whole lives:

Oh well.  Joe and I enjoyed the lights.

If you're thinking of going, be sure to bundle up and check out the wonderful dancing of local area kids in the big tent area near the carousel.  Impressive!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sports Heroes: A Dying Breed?

Monday night's football game left Joe a little nutty over his Fantasy Team and me a little happy to discover that there are still real heroes in professional sports. Click here for full story.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My Bad

I did a lot of my holiday shopping online this year.  It gave me a chance to compare prices, read the product reviews, and search for online coupon codes.  It all made perfect sense at the time.

Unfortunately, I did most of my computer shopping once the kids were in bed and I was running on coffee fumes and Cocoa Puffs.  My judgement was perhaps not the best.  There was a number of misfires and "what was I thinking?" moments as the kids tore into their gifts.

And for the rest of my life, my husband will remind me of this colossal mistake that woke us all up at 5 am yesterday morning:

Oh well.  Live and learn.  And stock up on Excedrin Migraine, I suppose.

What's Christmas without a Little Drummer Boy?

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Lessons

A few quick take-aways from yesterday:
  • The drums may have been a bad idea
  • I have no self-control when it comes to kolacky cookies
  • It's really hard to come up with something to write when you're crashing from all the sugar and there are drums playing the background
 I hope everyone had a wonderful day!

Friday, December 23, 2011

No Better Present

I didn't think anything could top Jack's excitement that it was Pajama Day at school yesterday.  Boy, was I wrong.

Nothing I could write could better explain the surprise gift who showed up at his class (sorry about the commercial that comes first, it's only a few seconds):

View more videos at:

My favorite quote from Army Sgt. John La Giglia: "I've been all around the world, and there's nothing like the South Side of Chicago."

God bless you, Sgt. La Giglia. Thank you and welcome home.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

An Abiding Sense of Tragedy

My son Jack fancies himself an artist. He paints, draws, and colors his way through life. I blame it on our Lithuanian nanny who watched the boys back when I still worked. Edita put a crayon in Jack's hand when he was 7 months old, and Jack has hardly put it down since.

In tidying the house for Christmas, I decided to tackle the mountain of artwork that has collected in a huge basket for months. I needed to decide which pieces would be laminated, and which pieces would meet the recycle bin.

I couldn't help but get emotional when I found a "book" Jack created on this day last year. For those unfamiliar with the story, two Chicago firemen were killed in a southside collapse days before Christmas 2010. The call for the fire came during a shift change.

Many firemen had already been relieved and left for home, unaware of the impending disaster. If you watched the live broadcast that morning, you saw dozens of firemen frantically digging around in the rubble. Nobody knew for sure who was accounted for and who was still missing due to the natural confusion of the shift change.

Tragically, two firefighters were killed: a 12-year veteran named Edward Stringer and a former Chicago policeman turned firefighter named Corey Ankum.

Our phone rang off the hook that morning. Joe was part of that shift change for that fire, but he had already been relieved before the call even came in. Unaware of the collapse, Joe stopped by a repair shop on his way home because somebody had attempted to burglar his car by smashing a window. While he was cleaning up broken glass and getting repair estimates, he remained oblivious to the tragedy unfolding on television that morning.

By the time he arrived home, I was glued to the news coverage. I didn't even notice Jack sitting rapt in front of the television for hours, not saying a word.

In flipping through Jack's drawings of that event, it is evident he understood the significance of what he had witnessed. Page after page captures the chaos, the fear, and the tragedy of the day. One picture shows a colorful, smiling fireman about to go into the fire, and within a few pages, the mood is darkened:

Joe and I have never really shielded our kids from tragedy or death. We both figure it's a part of life, and our job is to counsel and help them find ways to cope. Perhaps it was a mistake to have the kids participate in the funeral procession a few days later. But if this neighborhood has taught me one thing, it is a respect for ritual and tradition.

We stood out in the cold and acknowledged the heroism of these men who gave their lives in an attempt to save potential homeless people from the fire. Hundreds and hundreds of cars and fire engines from all around the country slowly processed down Western Avenue, blocks from my home. It was a sight to behold. My boys still remember it vividly.

It was in that moment, watching a neighborhood of countless Irish firemen and police, that I remembered an old line from William Butler Yeats:

Being Irish, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.

Many people would disagree with such a generalization. But for me, it feels spot-on.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What to Get the Teachers for Christmas

Click here to find out what your kids' teachers REALLY want for Christmas. 

Just a few options on the table....

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

What to Expect When You're Expecting

Something they don't tell you in that book:

You will be picking up tiny scraps of paper.  FOREVER.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Mt. Carmel Topples Mom

When a mother holds her infant son for the first time, many thoughts run through her head.  A world of opportunity and unlimited potential sleeps soundly in her arms as she asks herself: 

Will he be smart? 

Will he be handsome?

Will he be liked? 

How many instruments can I convince him to play?
(that one might just be me)

Yet when certain Irish firemen from the southside of Chicago first hold their sons, the searing question is noticeably different:

Will he play football for Mt. Carmel High School?

Let the grooming begin!  As a mother, I am only too aware of the head injuries and damage football can cause. My high school picks for the boys include St. Ignatius and a host of Selective Enrollment Schools such as North Shore Prep or Whitney Young. 

But I fear I am losing already. The impressive legacy of professional athletes who hail from Mt. Carmel span the NHL, NFL, and NBA:  Simeon Rice. Antoine Walker. Donovan McNabb. Chris Chelios.

The school also lays claim to nearly a dozen state championships in football. And 5 of the boys' uncles attended as well. 

So at the end of the day, I'm left looking like the big loser who just wants her boys to protect their brains, avoid football, and play something the flute.

Danny and Jack have other ideas.  They engage in outright warfare over their daddy's old high school football jersey.  Each time they attend a game, there is the inevitable scramble to our closet and subsequent tug-o-war for the tattered old thing.  They covet it like the Holy Grail:

Jack won this battle.  I think he put it on right after he got out of bed that morning.
So against my better judgement, and in the name of peace on earth, I ordered up two custom jerseys for my sons this Christmas.  They are the exact size as their dad's and both have his number and name printed across the back:

I've given up on my approach and I'm trying something new: 

"Reverse psychology."

It's important to have dreams.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Skwishee Saves the Day

My husband had the bright idea to take the boys ice skating yesterday.  For whatever reason, he asked if I would come along.  I hate cold weather sports.  I can't ice skate.  I am counting down the days until we abandon our children to their respective Illinois universities and head to Texas, Florida, or Arizona. 

Yet in shooting this footage of Joey learning to skate, I now feel confident that he is most certainly my child.  Look at the angry arm flap as his brother literally skates circles around him:

So after a couple of hours of near hypothermia, we headed home.  Everyone in the minivan was in a good mood except yours truly, who was trying to figure out how her socks got wet.

Anyway, everything shifted when I checked the mail and found a package addressed to me.  You know I'm a present junkie, right?  It was from Canada!  Exotic!  Inside, I found two awesome home-made Star Wars ornaments from Skwishee over at Just a Mum.  The boys fought over who could put them on the tree.   I tried explaining to my husband again what a blog is and where Skwishee came from.

Why I didn't start blogging years ago, I'll never know.  They never told me about the prizes.  But pass it along:  there are prizes!

Merry Christmas, blogosphere!  You have given me more than you'll ever know!  And thank you, Skwishee!!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Elf on the Urn

Many of you are already aware that my sister's husband passed away suddenly a few weeks ago.   While the sadness of the situation is overwhelming at times, my family has a special knack for inappropriate humor and finding something to laugh at in the midst of tragedy.  It's how we get by.

My boys have been very inquisitive about death and dying recently.  I was a little surprised given that they are pretty much professional mourners, attending dozens of wakes and funerals each year.  Yet I failed to recognize until now that their uncle was the first person they really knew well.  Most of the services they have attended involved parents of friends, neighbors, etc...nobody that was really part of their lives. 

Jack has taken to drawing countless pictures of his uncle in a casket and playing ice hockey as an "angel" (wearing wings). He has been insisting I give these to his aunt as soon as possible, and I've been waffling about whether I should

In talking with Megan, she encouraged me to let the boys work this all out however they can, and she specifically requested their drawings.  I'm cringing a bit, but Megan has always given kids a little more leeway and acceptance than I have.  I am Captain Von Trapp, ready to blow my whistle at any time.   She's more like Willy Wonka.

Megan has her own 6 year old son who is trying to cope with the loss of his father.  Her son has asked that his father's urn be placed in his room each night so the little boy can talk to his dad.  He even placed a Santa's hat on top to include his father in the Christmas holiday.

Megan, recognizing the mourning process, irony, and the humor of it all, picked the perfect place to stash their Elf on a Shelf yesterday:

I asked her if it was okay to share the photo, as which time she replied, "it will be the first time he made your blog!"

Holy crap, our family is nuts.  But I wouldn't have it any other way.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Trouble Clef

I will never understand how my husband's parents had 7 children and managed to keep track of all of them and their names.  I've been calling both Jack and Joe "Jick" lately.  And they answer to it without question. 

In order to avoid missing things, my husband and I try to plan our days out in advance.  Yesterday, our exciting endeavors included buying stamps for my Christmas newsletter, dropping off presents for Joey's teachers, and hitting the grocery store.  The only hitch was a surprise bout of food poisoning and an emergency run for Imodium AD.  Once the meds kicked in, I would then take Jack to his school's Christmas pageant and my husband would take the other boys to hockey.   

It all seemed easy enough.

Yet not long after we arrived, Jack managed to completely destroy his instrument.  No amount of Superglue was going to fix this disaster:

Still recovering from my stomach issues, I reached for my Imodium AD and cell phone to call Joe to gripe about the violin.  I then remembered that my cell phone had been MIA for 24 hours.  I was really hating Thursday.  And I started to feel like I had to throw up again.

Yet the universe sent me a quick pick-me-up as the children's choir began belting out a song from the musical Rent.  And you know how I love Rent:

Talk about a game-changer.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Should Old Acqaintance be Forgot

I know I'm forgetful.  I'm convinced that half my memory was absorbed by my fetuses during pregnancy. I am that rare combination of person who can't remember names or faces. I tried introducing my husband once to someone, and I completely blanked.  I introduced him as "Jason" or "Jim." I should probably be on medication, but I know I'd never remember to take it.

Yet every year, our family receives a Christmas card with a picture of a child I have never seen.  I've queried my husband.  I've interrogated the boys.  The little girl remains an enigma.  When you consider that my husband and children have fine memories, I assume the child is of my acquaintance.  It's all rather upsetting as there is not the slightest hint of recognition on my part.

I just received the yearly mystery child photo again today, and I'm starting to wonder if this is a prank, or if the girl is truly a phantom.  Perhaps she is the daughter I was meant to have? 

Or maybe she is one of mine that I accidentally left at the park years ago?

Thank goodness I will forget all this unpleasantness by tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

CPS' Selective Enrollment Process: A Veteran's Tale

Click here to read why I'm still on the fence over dealing with all the angst associated with Selective Enrollment placement this year. The whole thing makes me want to drink.  Like I need another excuse for that?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Thank you, Baby Jesus.

If it wasn't for You, I would not be the recipient of a non-stop stream of goodies arriving via back porch, front door, and US Postal Service.

I'm not going to go all "demure" and pretend I don't like presents.  I LOVE presents.  I don't even care what they are, as long as they're for me.  Presents make me super-duper excited.

Why, yes.  I'm actually 8 years old.

So here are the gifts that have arrived recently which are preventing a full-out descent into seasonal depression caused by 3 hours of sunlight a day:

A Standing Buck courtesy of Anonymous Back Porch Donor.  I think we're getting a subtle hint to throw up a few lights outside.

Mothers of Brothers Blogger's new book.  The laughs inside will keep you from crying.  At least for an hour or two.

Atheist-Friend gave me this picture, but the matting was damaged.  I just picked it up from Michael's over the weekend.  Good as new.  LOVE it.

Macy's ornament courtesy of (same?) anonymous back porch donor.  Sparkly.  Red.  Perfection.
An entire family of paper people courtesy of Jack.  He made my paper person very skinny.  Who needs Paxil?
Ok.  I bought this one myself, but Jack and I were on the hunt for the church for weeks.  We found one under a pile at Kohls marked clearance and I had a coupon.  Final cost = $12.  I think it was a pricing error.  Or a sign from the Savior that no holiday village is complete without a place of worship.

A poinsettia courtesy of Miniature-Friend.  I always mean to get one each year, but my history of murdering plants usually dissuades me.  So far, so good.
Fun new drinking coasters.  Or as my sons have christened them, "the new matching game."  
Awesome homemade cookies from Atheist-Friend with a divine chocolate dip.  They did not survive long enough to capture a  photo.  
I had been wanting a picture of the Beverly Breast Cancer walk for my entry last May.  John (future pressure) sent this last week.  I think it captures the day wonderfully.

A surprise $18.04 check from a class action settlement that I didn't know I was a part of.  Paid for the Kohls' church with enough money left over for a McDonald's peppermint mocha.
There you have it.  May your holiday season bring you many joys and surprise deliveries!  

Monday, December 12, 2011

Needy, Greedy, or am I Being Unseemly?

I am not naturally a generous or kind person.  I marvel at the philanthropists of the world who volunteer to be Big Sisters, donate blood, and cook organic meals for the elderly.  I can barely meet the demands of my own family on a daily basis, let alone provide aid and comfort to the suffering.  I try, but I often fall short.

My husband, on the other hand, is a far more generous soul.   He believes in giving to the community around him and doles out more pairs of his own gloves to the homeless than I can count.  He pulls over on expressways to assist accident victims and buys charity raffle tickets by the crate.   While he often comes across as a big old grump, he is really quite kind and soft. 
Being married to a nicer person than myself has opened my eyes to the needs of others.  My community of Beverly is a virtual haven of do-gooders who rally behind every ill child, victim of tragedy, and family in crisis.   When I moved here 6 years ago, I couldn’t understand why my husband was so adamant that this was the best place in the world to raise a family.  I understand now. 

In an effort to become a nicer person, I usually try to participate in several charitable causes and giving opportunities during December.  My husband rolls his eyes and implies I'm only vying for salvation.    

One charity, started by local oncology nurse Geri Neylon, is Christmas Without Cancer.  Geri typically seeks aid for several of her cancer patients each year who are experiencing the worst combination of disease, loss, and joblessness.  She collects gift cards, toiletries, and clothing for these families (if you are interested  in supporting her patients, you can contact her at
Another charity I have participated in is the “Giving Tree” at my local preschool.  Every year, the school collects the requests of kids and teenagers living in group homes or shelters.  The school puts paper ornaments on a tree with their requests.  Yet several years ago, I balked when each and every ornament included one of the following:

·         Xbox  360 with games
·         Cell phone with video camera
·         Blue Ray Player
·         Nintendo DS
·         Gift Card to Nordstroms
As a Target-loving, anti-electronics couponing nut, I was surprised.  I left the school feeling somewhat uncomfortable with my range of emotions.   While I certainly understood these children had social and emotional needs that were obviously not being met in group living, I felt throwing an Xbox their way wasn’t quite the right way to go either.  And where was the guidance of the adults and employees of the home, advising the teenagers that the people receiving their requests were not in fact Donald Trump? 

It got me thinking about what constitutes “needy” in our society.  I have a very Angela’s Ashes view of poverty and need (drinking sugar water for dinner, sleeping on a rat-infested mattress on the floor, etc.).  Is it wrong to feel weird about being asked to buy an Xbox when I expected to buy a kid a pair of boots and a warm coat?  Should I have just gone off and bought the DS without a second thought and been thankful for the opportunity to bring joy to a child?  Was I being selfish and hypocritical?
Last week, I revisited “The Giving Tree” at that very same preschool and there were different kinds of requests this time out:  coats, hats, gloves, robes.  The school had chosen the Crisis Center of South Suburbia which serves those families impacted by domestic violence.  Most of the women and children there had basically arrived with only a few small possessions.      

The definition of “needy” obviously varies.  At the end of the day, my only true gauge is what I would want people to give my own children should they ever be truly in need:  a warm coat, soft pajamas, and a good book. 

Every child deserves at least that.  In terms of love and support, all children deserve so much more.  I am trying to get to the point where I can give of myself and fulfill that even greater gift of time and attention to children in need, but I fear I am not there. Plus, I am very mean and I'd probably just end up enrolling the poor thing in piano and Latin.

I'm trying, Lord.  I'm trying.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Those Disney People Are Sick

I was at Kohls yesterday buying black pants, a button down shirt, and a tie for Jack's upcoming violin recital this week per the request of the instructor.  Considering how fast Jack grows, he'll probably only get one wear out of it before it's too small.  Thanks, Maestro.  But at least I had a 30% off coupon.

Anyway, I decided to cruise past the toy section.  For those of us with boys, it's a lot easier to buy things for Christmas with boys there instead of girls.  My niece was with us and looked suspicious at everything I did.  My boys, on the other hand, were quite oblivious and accepted whatever lies I told them (see: Adam & Eve).  As I threw a couple of toys into the cart, Dan asked who the presents were for.  They're for poor kids, I advised.   While I do actually buy gifts for the needy, I use this excuse anytime I'm getting stuff for them, too.  My son accepted the lie easily and continued to ogle the Beyblades section.

There was one toy Joey would not put down.  Have a look (don't forget about my blog about the marketing fiends at Disney):

I thought Mickey seemed rather odd, yet when I pressed the button, he got all Tim Burton on me:

Shouldn't this be in an adult bookstore instead of the kids' section at Kohls? 

I threw it in the cart.  Mickey was 40% off and I still had my coupon.  I couldn't pass him up.  Plus, I needed something for the blog.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

My Favorite Ornaments

What store-bought ornament could ever top this one made with dried Elmer's glue, Q-Tips, and a preschool photo of my son being obstinate?

Or Jack as en elf?

Or the picture of our family glued to a tracing of Danny's hand?

If the house was on fire and it came down to rescuing either one of my favorite store-bought ornaments or one of the boys' Christmas offerings, guess who wins? (After I save the children and husband of course....)

Parum pum pum pum would go up in flames with the laundry.

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Theory on Caillou

Instead of a lengthy blog, I thought I'd present a theory inspired by my friend Robyn's Facebook post on the world's most grating 4 year old:

Do you think Caillou is bald because his mother was really looking for the 666?


Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Holiday Newsletter

You may have noticed my posts have been running a little short lately.  My stupid holiday newsletter has been taking a lot longer than I thought it would this year. By now, I have usually completed layout and am awaiting finished prints from my awesome copy guy.  Awesome copy guy charges 36 cents a copy for an 11"x17" two-sided color copy on really good paper.  It's cheaper than photo cards.

I love him so.   

For some odd reason, I figured this process was going to be a lot easier given the fact that I've pretty much documented all significant and insignificant family occurrences on my blog. 

That was a huge mistake.  I saved nothing new for the newsletter. 

I'm dead. 

Unless of course my recipients are mostly moms who can barely remember if they showered that day.

On second thought, things may not be as bleak as anticipated.  

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

I Really Like This Book

When I first became a blogger, I figured my readership would be limited to about 3 blood relatives.  As the weeks and months progressed, a few of my friends started reading along.  Then, out of nowhere, a bunch of unknown writers with their own blogs started following me and even left comments.  I was very confused.

After a while, I started getting it - the community aspect of blogging, that is.  You start reading about the interesting and funny stuff of strangers, and suddenly, they're not strangers anymore.  In a weird and uncharted manner, they become real friends.

I hope this isn't sounding creepy. 

Anyway, one of my blog friends sent me her new book - Mom's Had a Rough Day.  She did it not so that I would hype it (of course I will do that anyway because she's hilarious), but because we are actually living very similar and silly lives with boy-children.  We get Pokemon.  We curse Legos.  And, as she puts it, we both have secret code names for the perfect, Stepford-like children who sit and draw quietly: Girls

If you're interested in having a good laugh, you should check out her book.  If you're cheap and live near me, I'll lend you my copy.  Please return it though, as it's signed. 

I have no doubt it will be very valuable one day.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Re-Thinking Beauty

I have had the same Super Cuts hairdo for the last 10 years.  I am not edgy.  Or arty.  Or blessed with particularly good hair.  What I am is cheap.  I also figure that as a chubby, almost 40 mom, my "pretty" years are well behind me.  My beauty routine revolves around trying not to look schlumpy and buying online tall clothes at JC Penney and Eddie Bauer (it's always a crapshoot, not being able to try on the clothes, but NOBODY sells tall clothes in the store...absolute height-ism if you ask me).

Yet when My-Friend-Who-Shall-Remain-Nameless (that's the moniker she agreed to), came by with her new, asymmetrical haircut, I admit: I was jealous.  She looked trendy!  She looked edgy!  She looked hot!

Had I written off my youth too quickly?  Should I re-think my $15 haircut cap?  Do I have a little coo coo ca choo Mrs. Robinson in me yet?

My-Friend-Who-Shall-Remain-Nameless has inspired me. 

I've re-set my haircut cap to $25. 

Baby steps.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Elf on the Shelf

Last year, Jack was dying for The Elf on the Shelf. For those who do not know what this is, it's an over-priced children's book that comes with a toy elf who watches for good behavior leading up to Christmas.

Being terribly cheap and unwilling to pay $30 for a book, I never got his elf.*

Being crafty and unwilling to give up, Jack came up with his own version:

He calls it The Elf I Made Myself.

Cheap Moms = Creative Children.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Sex, Politics, and Chicken

Joe was in search of a new fried chicken joint the other day.  I got him all set up on the computer and he used the keyword search "Great Chicago Chicken."  As I folded clothes in the other room, I was surprised to hear him roaring with laughter a few minutes later.  I didn't think chicken was that funny.

When I walked in, he pointed to the following menu entry on the screen:

President Obama 5 wings with fries (1) can pop $4.79 + tax

I was confused.  What was so funny about that?  Restaurants name specials after famous people all the time.  The president was from Chicago.  Maybe he even ate there sometime.

"Keep reading," Joe encouraged.

And then I saw it:

Michelle Obama 15 wings, fries (1) 2 liter pop $14.09 + tax

Oh.  Now that's just mean.  Way to make fun of a mom with a little extra weight on her. 

You men should try giving birth sometime and see how your bellies hold up.  Hmph.

The chicken, by the way, was fantastic.  And if you think I'm making this up, be sure to visit

I made Joe eat a salad for dinner.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Why Do I Bother?

I'm mad-busy right now.  The holidays have taken hold, I forgot to put sugar in the cookies I baked, and I can't think of a single thing to write for my holiday newsletter (which is typically in lay-out mode by this time each year).  AHHHH.

Joey is very happy, though.  Every time the doorbell rings, he races to answer it.  He is acutely aware of the fact that mommy has been receiving a lot of packages lately from "the Amazon."   

I don't know why I order actual toys from, because it's apparent that the true source of complete and utter joy for 4 year-olds is the box:

Feel free to admire the poo-colored carpet yet again.  Try to love it like I do.

Instead of toys, this box shipped my new garbage can as Atheist-Friend insisted I should be ashamed of my 2003 model with the broken lid and permanent discoloration.

I got to go figure out how to get my basketball hoop straightened out from the Chicago windstorm the other night.  For whatever reason, I did not pull the minivan directly up to the basketball hoop like I usually do when this happened (thereby saving myself a huge middle-of-the night disaster and damaged car).  To thank the universe for looking out for me, I am buying holiday presents for two needy children instead of just one this year.  And no.  I'm not just getting them boxes.

Imagine this plowing right through my windshield overnight.  I would have SO missed carpool.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Persuasive Essay

Read about Daniel's "persuasive" essay against a longer school day at Chicago Parent. 

It's hardly a shocker.

His teacher, by the way, is obviously in cahoots.  I can't say as I blame her.

click here

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Getting Out of Bed Was My First Mistake

Monday did not go well.

Joe had to take the day off work so we could complete our home refinance. Signing legal papers for 45 minutes straight is never a good way to kick off your morning.  While we were happy about our sexy new interest rate, we were in a Monday mood.

On the way home, I started deleting a month's worth of unheard cell phone voicemails.  For those who do not know me well, I probably should fill you in: I am a bad cell phone user. I use it only to place calls and I never ever check it for messages or texts. My husband doesn't bother trying to reach me on my cell as it's usually buried in my purse or under the minivan center console for weeks on end.

Anyway, my callers included:
  • The mom who hosted last Sunday's bowling birthday party.  She wanted to know Daniel's size for bowling shoes.  Ooops.
  • My sister's best friend.  She called with questions about our family funeral and asked if I wouldn't mind picking up the memorial posterboards she put together on my way to the wake.  Double oops.
  • Several moms asking if they could pick up my children for assorted playdates at THEIR houses.  F*CK. 
My agitation, though wholly self-induced, was growing.  I then faced stacks of new project outlines and field trip forms as the boys arrived home from their schools.  Dan's class is planning a trip to see the Nutcracker.  I have never ever volunteered to take other people's children on field trips.  It stems back to all my years as a Girl Scout camp counselor where I had keep track of dozens of pre-teen girls who refused to stay together because they all hated each other.  Go ahead and ask me again why I'm happy to have sons.   

Anyway, Daniel was pushing the field trip thing really hard for some reason.  Our conversation:

Me:  You don't really want me to chaperone this, do you?  You know how mean I am.  I'm going to end up yelling at you and your friends if somebody doesn't say 'please' or 'thank you.'  You'll be embarrassed.  Everyone will know your mom is crazy.  

Daniel:  No.  I want you to go.

Me:  Why?

Daniel:  Because you're my mom.

Nothing like using the old "you're my mom" thing to get me to fork over an extra $9 for a chaperone ticket (on top of Daniel's $9 ticket).  Sheesh.  He couldn't have pushed for this during one of the $3 field trips?  But I'm all signed up.  I'm still hoping that his teacher remembers me from parent-teacher conferences and understands that I'm probably not her best choice.  I jokingly asked her to remind me which kid was mine.  She didn't seem amused.  

In addition to the field trip, I found the due date for Daniel's writing project.  I ran out to Kinko's to have his book bound together (per page 52 of the project requirement guide) at a cost of  $5.49.  The kid was costing me a small fortune this week.  Thank God for our refinance.

I flipped through his writing project in the Kinko's parking lot at 9pm (just like Oprah told us not to do so we don't get stabbed or murdered) and thoroughly enjoyed Daniel's tale of unruly chess pieces battling for control of his room.  On the very last page, Danny's ultimate trump card is revealed:

That's my boy.  Nothing like using a garage sale to remove one's troubles and earn some extra bucks for field trips and Kinko's binding services. 

I won't bore you with the rest of my bad day (which included our quarterly husband-wife argument about the importance of tone), but I did go to my happy place this evening.  Lest you've forgotten, my happy place is rooted firmly in the magic of Christmas. 

Look at the rabbits, George.  Just keep looking at the rabbits.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Oh Christmas Tree

Despite a historic year in terms of Super Glue usage (courtesy of Joey),  our family tree is finally complete.  Daniel handled the manual construction of rods and tree branches.  I handled the lights and tinsel.  And Joey and Jack handled the hanging of ornaments.  Unfortunately, their preliminary work did require some tweaking as about 1,500 ornaments were placed only on the lowest two branches.  Anything north of 3 feet was left completely bare.

Still.  Our ornaments are hung and I feel complete even if Carpool-Mom makes another crack about my work looking like a "mall tree" (she was convinced I high-tailed it out of Macy's with one of their trees last year).

I will write separately about all my kids' home-made ornaments, but for now here are a few of my commercial favorites:

Because we all know how I feel about vintage Fisher Price.

Because it's sparkly.

Because I drink.
Please prepare yourself for a week or so of my holiday decoration obsession. 

I've also got to get cranking on my holiday newsletter if I want to get it out before January 1st.  I need a theme!  Incompetence?  Adult ADHD? Why school fundraisers are a racket?

So many to choose from.  So little time.