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.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

My Kingdom for a Power Strip

I'll be sure to explore my 3-day holiday set up adventure another day.

But in the meantime, I feel this picture best captures why I am so bat-sh*t crazy for Christmas.

They stood there for a half hour, barely moving. 

In the meantime, I tore apart my entire house looking for an extra power strip.  I finally found one. 

I wonder how long it will be before Joe realizes why the television isn't working.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

What Child Is This?

For those unaware of my history, I always wanted five sons.  Between my experience with high school mean girls and my time spent working at a Girl Scout Summer Camp, I was relieved to welcome boy after boy after boy.  I figured a girl would cost way too much money, call me bad names in her teen years, and blame me when she shot to 6' 2" in 6th grade.

Still, my super-sized sons wreaked so much havoc on my uterus that I was medically cut off at 3 boys.  Don't get me wrong, I am grateful.  But somewhere in my mind, little Sean and Michael will always be missing at the dinner table (or even little Riley or Margaret or Emily because it's not like I wouldn't have loved them).

I've tried to talk my husband into adopting a couple more kids.  His response?

No.  We're good.

So when my doorbell rang last night and I spied a car zipping away, I thought that maybe this was it...finally, an abandoned baby left on my doorstep to love and cherish all of my days.

When I opened the door, I instead found this:

Feel free to marvel at the glorious poo-colored carpet. 

I've already checked with my usual suspects of people who drop funny things off on my door, and nobody has yet to fess up.

On the bright side, it is a boy.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Needed: A Nap and Super Glue

Perhaps making a double batch of chocolate chip cookies was not a good idea given the sugar crash I am experiencing at this moment.

Ah.  But who am I kidding?  I didn't actually make them myself:

They did wash their hands.

Several times.

Now I've got to get back to putting up the Christmas decorations.  My "helpers" have limited their destruction of my Christmas ornaments to only 5 so far.  Here's hoping they're done.  I don't think my heart could stand one more chipped Scarlett O'Hara or cracked angel.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

In addition to my Chicago Parent list of things for which I am thankful, I also came across a few new items to add to the list.

Jack has left about a dozen paper turkeys all over the house this week.  And every time I find one, I smile.  I am thankful to have children who crack me up every day of my life:

I also don't think there is anything cuter than a preschooler with a note pinned to his sweater.  While I have zero confidence in Joey's ability to remember to hand over his field trip money at school, I am still thankful for having this image permanently sealed in my mind:

I am also thankful to have a son who goes the extra mile for his mom.  Daniel has an amazing work ethic and while his brothers grow bored and distracted with chores, Danny completes every task to the letter.  He also puts up my Christmas tree every year and he actually reads the directions.  For Daniel, I shall feel extra thankful today:

I am also thankful that I have gone several weeks with the new carpet and not a single stain has appeared.  I am thankful for my husband who is reluctantly allowing me to implement a "no shoes" rule until the first recorded stain.  I know my days of the perfect rug are numbered, but I will always be thankful I had them. 

It kind of reminds me of a musical.  Because inside my head, everybody is actually wearing costumes and singing:

Don't let it be forgot
That once there was a spot
For one brief shining moment that was known
As Camelot.

May you find your Camelot today!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I Will Be Thankful, I Will Be Thankful...

Once the days get shorter and the holidays are over, I have been known to get a little testy. 

I'm trying to preempt myself this year.  Read about it here in Chicago Parent.

And please be kind to my husband.  He's going to need it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Relative Anonymity?

Due to an "anonymous" lender of a mysterious leaf blower left on my back porch yesterday, the family took the not-so-subtle hint to tackle my stupid tree's half-ass shedding of leaves. 

Joe found another blower in the back of the garage, so it was a virtual wind tunnel on the front lawn.

For the record, this same "anonymous" boyfriend-in-law (he's dating Joe's only sister) has provided each of the following to my highly ungrateful family:

  • An Easy Bake Oven after I Facebooked about my all-time favorite Christmas present and mentioned how I never got to use it because my sis ate all the packets of dough and frosting (no worries, Meg...I'm over it)
  • A Lemonade Stand for the boys (when I blogged about Daniel's entrepreneurial spirit and desire to make a summer income)
  • Nut-Free Taffy Apples (when I blogged about Jack refusing to eat the ones I bought with nuts)

I'm thinking it's about time we add this fellow to the starting line-up.  Since he miraculously provides an answer for all my blog musings, I'm putting in a request for legal permanence.  There are very few people in life who do things without prompts, guilt, or incentives.  "Anonymous" is a wonderful match for sister Mary.  Sister Mary, aware of our recent family loss, called up to offer 2-day babysitter services without hesitation for the boys.  She's always the first person to provide help, aid, and unequivocal support to loved ones and certain half-crazy blogging sister-in-laws who shall remain nameless.

So that's my wish for today.  Or if "Anonymous" wants to leave a life-time supply of Botox on my back porch, that would be fine, too.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Somebody Please Tell My Stupid Tree It's November

I grew up with a mom who loved trees.  My parents' first house was across the street from our elementary school, and every day at recess I saw my mom out in front.  She would be planting, nursing, and tending to her flock of baby oaks.  They were barely more than twigs.  I can't quite describe it, but there was also some trick she did with tent stakes and pantyhose that was somehow designed to keep her trees safe and sound from the destructive forces of Midwestern winds.

The other kids would laugh at the crazy tree lady and her pantyhose.  I of course denied any lineage.  I was the Judas of the first grade.

Long after she moved away and all her children were grown, my mom would drive by that first house and visit her now-majestic oaks.  They are mature and beautiful trees, and they add a lot of character to that tiny little house across the street from the school.

I of course hate trees.  I don't know if it was subconscious or not, but I selected a house with only one tree on the entire lot.  I love the sun, avoid the shade, and thrive during the long beautiful days of summer.  I love light.  So I look out my window each year and wait for my big stupid tree to shed its stupid leaves so I can enjoy the final hints of sunshine this time of year.

Dum-Dum refuses to cooperate.

Just have a look at every other tree on my block:

All of my neighbors have smart and cooperative trees.  They've been out for weeks, taking advantage of the mild days of November to rake up leaves and prepare for the long winter ahead. 

Then there's my tree:

I know exactly how this will play out.  My tree will finally shed her leaves the day before the first snowfall.  She's the Nostradamus of Chicago winters and a great predictor of weather.  So my husband and I will be out there in hats, coats, and gloves in a desperate attempt to get everything raked up before the inaugural blizzard of 2011.  Sometimes, we lose.  Regardless, all our neighbors think we're huge idiots who refused to rake their leaves on an earlier, more sensible day.

To them, I say:  stupid tree, stupid tree.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

So. The Duplo Lego Thing.

I've been meaning to do this post for a while but I got sidetracked with blogs about the Duggars and the evils of Halloween candy.  Yet MOV inspired me with her recent post on Little People (or the lesser-known "Round People" descriptor). 

Duplos are different from those annoying tiny Legos that jam the vacuum and are ignored once the Millennium Falcon is complete.  Duplos are the much-improved bigger ones.  Bolder.  Brighter.  And they have a very sacred purpose over here at Casa de la Boys.

Every 3-4 months, I pop open our economy sized vat of Duplos (purchased at local second-hand stores throughout the year and run through the dishwasher).  The boys will gather expectantly at my side and patiently await their mission.  It is always the same:   

This time, boys.  This time we will finally build a tower to touch the ceiling.  I feel it.  Do you feel it?  Now let's make it happen!  Go go go!

And with that, Dan, Jack and Joey frantically start tearing into the well of Duplos in hopes that our glorious day of triumph has finally arrived.

Unfortunately, we always come up just a little bit short.  Just the other day, our tower was looking great when it unexpectedly bumped into the ceiling fan.  Operations were ceased  immediately.

Sure, I could have spun the fan a little bit so it was out of the way.  Heck, I could have wasted fewer Duplos on the "base layer" so as to achieve our desired height.  Yet the magic would have been gone. 

The hours I spend with my boys as we guess, measure, and estimate our way through the great Duplo Tower Project are priceless. I am way too chicken to run the risk of victory too early and watch my sons shrug their shoulders and comment, "glad we don't have to do that anymore."

Maybe one day our mission will be complete.  Until then, I will continue wasting way too many Duplos on the foundation and always run just a few blocks short of perfection.  "Pefection" at least as far as they're concerned.   

I see things somewhat differently. 

Joey kind of looks like King Kong peaking into the Empire State Building, right?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Tattooed Lady

So little Jack and I walk in the funeral parlor yesterday with our supply of baked goods (courtesy of Atheist-Friend) and toys (courtesy of my Goodwill stash). I can't help but notice a heavily-tattooed woman wearing a flimsy one-strap tank top strategically positioned to show off her collection of unicorn, tiger, and warrior tattoos.  I'm a little surprised. This is not the typical mourning attire one is accustomed to seeing on the southside of Chicago.

Jack (noticing my double-take):  Mom?

Me:  Yeah, Jack?

Jack (whispering conspiratorially):  I think her pictures are still drying.

Do tattoos need time to dry?  I walked by her again later and started re-thinking my plan to get a shamrock tattoo with my kids' names on my 40th birthday.   A whole new world of inspiration was right there in front of me.

I've now decided upon warrior princess riding an elephant.  I mean, why not?

Friday, November 18, 2011


We'll be heading out to a family wake in a few hours, and I need to put together a checklist so I don't forget anything.  Feel free to post comments on anything I might be overlooking.
  • Bring a box of toys for all the children:  Given that I'm unlikely to see any of these toys again, I'm debating between the stash of toys I was saving for Goodwill and the stash I was saving for my garage sale.  Oh the humanity.
  • Wear a girdle.  As Miniature-Friend commented: pantylines are so unnecessary in this day and age.
  • Decide whether the kids' sympathy cards ("sorry for your LOST and please don't get sick and go to heaven") are appropriate to hand over to the family.  I won't even talk about the pictures.
  • Make sure I have all the Bible readings in my purse to distribute to the church speakers.  Things disappear forever once they're put in my purse.  Perhaps I hand them over to Joe?
  • Bring the Fisher Price clock ornament for my sister.  For me, turning over my new favorite ornament is the ultimate sacrifice, and Megan likes Fisher Price stuff almost as much as I do.  I figure it's a good pick-me-up.  MOV described how she and her sister used to spend hours selecting Little People before engaging in their pretend play.  My sister and I used to do the same thing.  Except Megan somehow always managed to get the coveted little red-headed girl when I wasn't looking. 

  • Beg the children to not call the wake  a "party."  They're Irish.  There will be food and beer and kids.  I understand their confusion, but I must once again reinforce to Jack that he can NOT have his next birthday party at a funeral parlor. 
Alright, I think that's it.  Once I find my flask that is.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My Wonderfully Inappropriate Mourning Family

My Sis:  He will be missed.  He may not have been perfect.  But then again, who is?

(uncomfortable silence)

My Dad:  Well...ME.

(brief pause)

Me:  That's two of us.

(shorter pause)

My Mom: Actually, so am I.

And that, boys and girls,  is how the Irish mourn.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Unexpected Emergency

We Band of Mothers will be taking a few days off due to some unforeseen circumstances.

Everybody here is okay, but we have experienced a loss.

Thank you for your understanding.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Possibly My Last Blog Entry Ever

I am taking an interval class this morning.  I don't know for sure what I'm getting myself into.  I believe Atheist-Friend started sensing my hesitation last night and dangled the old, "you can use it for your blog" carrot in front of me.  For public record, here is an exact lead-up to my imminent demise:

Atheist-Friend: Walk tomorrow morning (Sunday)? We could walk past a church.

Me: Joe is at 2nd job tomorrow.  Monday?

Atheist-Friend: You can come with me to my 9:45 class tomorrow. You'll be home by 11 (Joey's return time).

Me: What kind of class is this?

Atheist-Friend: Interval. You'll be fine. Light weights and a low step. Did you try the potatoes? (Atheist-Friend had given me a container of "smashed potatoes" and a bag of home-made chocolate chip cookies the night before).

Me: I had a bite, but the cookies distracted me. What's interval? Do I need to be coordinated? I am not coordinated. So not coordinated. Like, anti-coordinated.

Atheist-Friend (email dripping with sarcasm):  I've never noticed your lack of coordination before.

It was lovely knowing you all.  Feel free to add your own comments to my online obituary. 

Interval training indeed.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


I don't care that it's only November.

I don't care that Thanksgiving is still weeks away.

I don't even care that I'm not allowed to say "Christmas" in at least one of the CPS schools my kids attend (just don't ask me which school it is because that note is long lost in my file-pile).


All year round, I frequent second-hand stores for antique Christmas decorations.  I buy gads of window gels on clearance December 28th.  I have an entire village of light-up holiday houses and shops that were purchased with coupons. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Christmas. 

It's the birth of the savior!  It's a holiday to break up 3 months of dreary Chicago skies!  There are cookies!  What's not to love?? 

I have several Jewish friends who have married Christians, and even they fess up that decorating for Christmas is so much more fun.  The ornaments!  The lights!  The tinsel! 

CHRISTMAS!! (said with the same, emphatic tone as the BACON! dog food commercial).

I'm giddy in case you missed that.

And look!  LOOK!  Look what I found at Kohl's yesterday.  It spoke to me like no ornament ever has.  It combines my love of vintage Little People with holiday decor!  Just look!

The doorbell even rings!

It's a tiny little ornament that OPENS!  AND I had a 30% off coupon!!!

I'd better stop writing before I run out of exclamation marks.  But just to show you how the spirit of Christmas can move someone, Daniel finally let me videotape him practicing the piano.  It's a CHRISTMAS song!  He even told me I could put it on the blog!  He never lets me put anything on the blog!  A Christmas Miracle!

Sorry.  I didn't have a blog last year, so you really couldn't know that I am bat sh*t crazy for Christmas.  I just can't help it.

Because it's CHRISTMAS!!!*

*If all this enthusiasm is annoying you, feel free to remind me that my yearly holiday newsletter is going to suck this time out because I already used most of my good material for the blog.  I'm SO screwed.  That'll be a buzz kill for sure.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Rejected by Donny Osmond

You know I love Donny Osmond, right?  From the time I was 4 years old, I developed an unconditional and lifelong devotion to my favorite Mormon.  I am fairly convinced that my votes single-handedly put him over the top on Dancing with the Stars

Armed with this knowledge and my semi-legitimate press credentials courtesy of Chicago Parent, I reached out for my first celebrity interview.  I submitted only a few questions so as to not overwhelm Mr. Osmond.  I was polite.  Meek.  Apologetic even.

And I got the stock rejection letter:

Thanks for your interest in interviewing Donny.  His time is very limited right now as he is preparing for the holiday shows, so we will have to pass on this interview.

It felt like 7th grade gym class all over again.

My love will not waver in the face of this heartbreak.  The man does have 5 kids and a stressful Vegas act with which to contend.  Of course, I have 3 young sons, a husband who is never home, the weekly combination of violin-piano-chess-homework-hockey-and-basketball oversight, mountains of laundry, and two blogs.  But I get it, Donny.  You're busy.  I won't take it too personally.

Just don't be too offended if I move my Donny Osmond Christmas ornament to the back of the tree. 

It's just too painful right now.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Family Secrets Revealed

I was outed.  My lack of efficacy in the kitchen was happily recounted by my 1st grader in an essay last month:

I made Jack re-trace his letters for better clarity.  NO WIRE HANGERS!!

There you have it.

Which leads me to a new addition to the Joe's Favorite Restaurants tab.  I really should have put The Magic down earlier, but I never seemed to remember my camera.  Well it's there now, and my apologies to the place that has served us many a breakfast over the the years.

My kids have the BEST table manners at The Magic.  I suppose it's because they were practically raised here.  They've accidentally called the watiress "mom" a few times.    

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Something Old, Something New

You know it's Chicago Parent Wednesday, right?  Go ahead and click over for my latest ramblings on what a colossal idiot I was for selecting white carpet with kids. 

And now for a little rant.

I have a history of not being able to enjoy anything new.  It comes partly from being the 3rd born child.  It comes partly from bad luck.  A brief history:
  • I babysat for 3 months straight to buy an outfit I saw at the mall when I was 15.  When I finally got it, my sister promptly loaned it to her best friend who stained it and returned it 3 years later.
  • When I was living in NY, I loaned my boyfriend (now-husband) my first new car while I headed to work.  My last words to him before I left were, "I've never had anything new, please don't wreck my ride."  He got into a fender-bender exactly 16 minutes later.
  • My first son was born with a pneumothorax.  Because I was recovering from a bad c-section, I wasn't allowed to get up and go see him for half a day.  In the meantime, my husband, parents, and siblings all got to hold him, look at him, and break him in.  I didn't even get first dibs on my own kid.
I completely understand people being funny about their new things.  I wash my hands when I hold someone's new baby.  I don't drink coffee in someone's new car.  I don't bring my kids over to someone's brand new house.

I opted for the color of poop. Read about it on Chicago Parent.
So why are so many people giving me grief about asking them take off their shoes so I can enjoy my carpet before the first Gatorade spill?  I've gotten eye rolls and even a person storming out.  I don't get new things (see my multiple blog entries on all my purchases at second-hand stores).  I've always been gracious and allowed people to stomp through my house tracking Chicago mud and ice everywhere.  I don't scream when parents let their kids get up from the table full of cake and make a run for my couch with chocolate-frosted digits.  I hardly blink over the usual messes that visitors and their children typically leave.

So can I please just have a little honeymoon with my new rug?  It will be stained and destroyed shortly, at which time you can wear whatever dirty wet shoes you'd like.

I'll even get you some house slippers if you want.  Just email me your size.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Yahoo Doray Day

Before I could even open my eyes this morning:


I knew I shouldn't have agreed to that impulse purchase while buying 80% off Halloween decorations with Joey yesterday.

Probably not the most productive use of my petty cash fund.  

Me:  Joey, it's 5:30 am.  Go back to bed.  I'll get you Pop Tarts in a little while.

Joey: WHAAAAAAAAAAAA.  I want Pop Tarts, Mommy.  I WANT POP TARTS!!

Me: Stop it.


Me:  Joey, if you keep this up, I'm throwing the Pop Tarts in the garbage.

Joey (muttering as he walked away): I'm throwing you in the garbage, Mommy. 

As I stumbled downstairs a little while later, I checked my emails and saw that the professional photographer bus mom wants to borrow my vast collection of vintage Little People for a shoot.  I was thrilled!

I haven't had professional pictures of my children taken in years.  I stopped doing that when all three of them would glare at the camera and insist that they hated having their pictures taken.  But professional shots of my Little People?  Now that was something I could get excited about.  They always smile.  They always cooperate.  They stay where you put them.  Awesome!

Jack's comment as I arranged them: "Oh - you're making the Yahoo-Doray singing people at the end of Grinch."

Now the only problem was Bus-Mom was going to be on my block between 9 am and 10 am and offered to come by then.  After I get kids off at 6:55, 8:00, and 8:45 respectively, I use the next two hours before Joey returns to sit around in my JC Penny Extra-Tall Red Schnauzer Pajamas and write, do some laundry, and shower.  There was just no way anybody should see me in my Red Schnauzer Pajamas.  It was unseemly.  I'd get a reputation: Did you see those ridiculous pajamas she wears?  Schnauzers??  She hates dogs.

It took Jack 3 attempts to get a shot with minimal chins.
So I convinced Bus-Mom that I'd bring them today to the stop.  It's just better this way.

And stay tuned to see how cool these turn out!  I can't wait!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Lock the Doors and Get Down

I invited Atheist-Friend and her family over for dinner the other day to watch football, let the kids play, and enjoy each others' company.

For some odd reason, Atheist-Friend brought a Giada-tested entree and chocolate bundt cake.  Apparently, her confidence in my ability to provide a decent meal is very much in line with her faith in the hereafter.  Quite the non-believer, that Atheist-Friend.

Anyway, while the menfolk watched some gridiron, we headed to the park.  Our plan was to plop ourselves in the minivan for as long as humanly possible while remaining far enough away from the children so that they couldn't easily overwhelm us with demands for food, drink, and attention. We were still only 30 feet away, but to access us, kids would have to go around a long fence and then try to get in through the locked doors.  It was a credible plan.

In lieu of parental intervention, the gang quickly discovered an old blue ball near the fence.

Atheist-Friend:  Oh, good.  They found a ball.  Now they'll finally leave us alone for a few minutes.

Me:  It's old.  It's been sitting in the park for God-knows-how-long.  I bet you it has raccoon pee on it.

Within moments, our knuckle-headed children threw their new treasure right over the fence and onto 111th Street (a major thoroughfare in our neighborhood).  The two of us shrugged it off and figured it was a valuable and important lesson on loss.  Yet our children continued to hold vigil near the fence, staring forlornly onto the street as cars whizzed by.

Suddenly, an older gentlemen pulled off to the side of the road and disappeared down the block where the blue ball had blown.  He returned several minutes later (it was windy, I'm guessing the ball had gone quite the distance) and handed it solemnly to our children still glued to the fence.

Atheist-Friend:  They had better be saying thank-you.

Me:  I think they're asking if they can just go home with him.

Just another example of Chicago-style human warmth and lunacy.

And for the record, I am never pulling over or getting out of my minivan for a bunch of kids who should know better than to throw a plastic ball by a street on a windy day.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Cake! They Had Cake at Holly Days!!

What a great fundraiser last night!  As mentioned, my across-the-street neighbor Holly put together a multi-vendor showing of unique gifts where 10% of proceeds went to the National Association for Down Syndrome. 

Holly, her son Nate, and my husband's across-the-street neighbor growing up, Jimmy McDonnell.  It is virtually impossible to find anyone in Beverly with whom you don't share a common bond.  Or a common beer.

In addition to being a great social event, I learned that several of our local moms are quite talented.  One of my  bus moms (moms I hang with at the bus stop while waiting for various children to arrive home from school) is a talented photographer and sells beautiful cards and photos.

You can check out more of Becky's stuff at!/earlybirdphoto
Then, I located my favorite gift of the night.  Maria-the-Cake-Lady handed out big chunks of delicious, mouth-watering treats that left me close to tears.  So I debated how to convince my husband to get me this for Christmas.  Everything on the cake is completely edible, including the bottles:

Call Maria at Caketopia for your own private creation: 708.220.4129
So I was all set on the cake-as-Christmas-present until I found a vendor that sold these beautiful handmade necklaces. I asked my pals if I should just leave the brochure laying around and suggest to my husband that this is what I wanted for Christmas.  They instead suggested that I buy it now and just hand him the invoice for the holidays along with a loving "Thank you, darling." 

My necklace will be arriving in a few weeks.

Check our more designs at

Thank you Holly & Nate and we're all looking forward to next year's cakes. fundraiser!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Chivalry is Not Dead

One of my regular carpool moms loaded up her minivan yesterday to tote a bunch of 6 and 7 year old boys to basketball.  The weather in Chicago can be tricky this time of year.  One day you're wearing shorts and the next day you're zipping up your snowsuit.  Unfortunately, my carpool friend was not aware of the 20 degree drop in temperature and was ill-prepared for a post-basketball park outing (that I have a feeling my son spearheaded).

My pal bravely battled the cold temperatures and gave her own private basketball team a little extra playtime on a Friday afternoon.  At some point, Danny approached and noticed poor Mrs. I-Have-No-Body-Fat-Because-I'm-a-Health-Coach was shivering in the wind.  He gallantly offered up his coat.

Most moms would not be able to wear a 2nd grader's coat.  Yet Dan is very big, and Mrs. Fitness is not.  With the exception of the sleeves, it was a near perfect fit:

Taken inside at the basketball facility.

This story proves several points:

  • My much-maligned approach to raising kind and generous boys is working.  Sometimes that is. Joey is still refusing to share his Halloween candy with me. 
  • Mrs. I-Eat-Raw-Carrots could use a few extra Ding-Dongs for the long Chicago winter.
  • It's a bad idea to agree to carpool on Fridays because you always get roped into extra parenting detail.  Mondays are the best.  Low expectations.

Have a great weekend!  Don't forget about Holly Days tonight!  Oh, and if you're interested in being all healthy and living a good long life, be sure to check out Mrs. Healthy Living's webpage.  I prefer to die in a tub of Twinkies when I'm 60.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Holly Days This Saturday!

I was so excited.  Chicago Parent told me I was going to have a sentence or two in their next paper edition of the widely-distributed magazine.  For those out-of-towners, Chicago Parent is a free magazine that just about every Chi-Town parent has read at least once.  When the November edition came out, I grabbed a stack at the boys' ice hockey arena and called my mom.  She was equally excited and told me to save one for my 91-year old Nana.

That's me.  Right next to the food blogger.

It really doesn't take much to impress my family.  My mom still tells people how I won the Bible Bowl in 6th grade.  And we all know how well that worked out.

As I read the rest of the November copy, a familiar face stared back at me.  Holly.  My across-the-street neighbor.  I can see right into her living room and I used to be able to check football scores on her family's flat screen.  This was before we got our own flat screen and we were really jealous.  Even now, ours is still smaller. 

I'm not bitter or anything.

Way to steal my thunder, Holly.  My little page 12 two-line mention was nothing compared to the full page center-spread.

She's even got a better photo, cute kid, and really big dimples.  Hmph.
But then I started reading.  Holly's youngest son, Nate, has Down Syndrome and Holly has been committed to raising sensitivity and funds for a national organization that supports raising these wonderful children in their own homes.  I have gone to several of her Holly Days events which gathers unique vendors from all over who agree to donate 10% of their proceeds to the National Association for Down Syndrome. 

Neighbors used to help host the event in their own homes, but apparently the popularity and Holly's knack for thinking big have resulted in this year's grand affair being held at the Beverly Arts Center on November 5th from 6-10pm.

So fine, Holly.  You can have the center spread and I will happily see you on November 5th and marvel at your energy, drive, and super cute haircut. But this doesn't mean I'm going to stop coveting your awesome t.v.

Seriously.  You can see it from space.

Click here for write-up on Holly Days and full details.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Getting Jumped

I was at the school park the other day with Atheist-Friend, our children, and a couple of extra kids we were watching.  A lady in full military garb marched up to us:

Did you guys drive here?  Do you have a car?

Atheist-Friend went silent because she was thinking this request and the woman's demeanor were slightly "off."  There was a tiny hint of aggression.

I answered honestly because when I am nervous, I just start talking.  And GI Jane was making me very nervous.  I told her my car was parked on the other side of the school.

I need a jump.  My battery is dead.  Could you move your car around here and give me a jump right NOW?

I hesitated, fought the urge to salute, and then begrudgingly walked over to the minivan.  In the meantime, Atheist-Friend got stuck trying to keep track of  8 kids at the park and crossed her fingers that nobody would have to pee. 

Yet within a couple of minutes, I started feeling guilty. 

This woman was defending our country! 

She was military! 

Of course I should help her! 

Just because she didn't say "please" or seem particularly friendly didn't make her a bad person, right?

When I got back to her location, I started apologizing for my hesitation in helping her, explaining that I am naturally just a suspicious person and I was there with my kids and everything and...

Do you honestly think I'd be wearing this uniform if I wasn't in the military?

Um.  Yeah.  There are bad people everywhere and sometimes people wear uniforms and...

The woman flashed a laminated ID card at me, which looked like it could have easily been made at Kinko's.

I gave her the jump and she drove away pretty quickly.

I pondered the situation for a while and I still feel icky about it.  I am always happy to help people, and I have participated in military fundraisers and always try to thank military personnel whenever I see them.  But my Spidey Sense was going off like a nuclear reactor alarm.  The woman obviously didn't have any bad intentions because my car and my person are still very much intact.  But still. 

Atheist-Friend of course always takes my side against strangers who don't seem nice.  After all, I am the mother who stood on the sidewalk for hours on Halloween and screamed out every 5 minutes:

I didn't hear you say THANK YOU!!

She emailed me this link about local area robbers disguised as Chicago policemen with a note that read.

You were right.  It felt like she was trying to commandeer our vehicles.  She didn't act like someone in need of a favor.

Did I do the right thing?  Am I over-reacting? What would you have done?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Did You Guess?

So did anybody figure out what Tammy Tasteless here dressed her kids as on Halloween?

Still don't know?  For full disclosure and tips on how to excel at rapid weight gain, visit Chicago Parent! 

And yes, I'm going to be cheating most Wednesdays because I just don't have it in me to write two full blog posts on a single day. It's not like I'm Tori Spelling or a Kardashian.  I need my sleep.  All these Kit Kats are killing me.

So be sure to visit Chicago Parent for my really cool blog on what a fat ninny I am!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Cry for Help

When a woman is in need of emotional or psychological help, the signs are often subtle and easily missed.  People can  unwittingly overlook the indicators that a woman is drowning in sadness, depression, or in my case, a vat of chocolate Halloween candy.

So as to avoid any ambiguity, I have clearly spelled out what I need with the boys' Halloween loot:

Please.  In the name of God.  Someone get over here and save me from myself.  Take this crap away before I do irreparable harm.