Friday, August 31, 2012

A Block Party Moment

I'll admit that I was none too excited about our neighborhood block party this month.  Last year's turmoil consisted of rain, a big dead pig cooking on my front lawn (click here for photo of that disaster), and a pop-up tent that didn't understand the concept of  "pop-up."

Anyway, one of my favorite neighbors, MaryKay, put together a hilarious game where kids had to try to put frozen wet t-shirts on as quickly as possible.  Some pictures from those attempts:


But nothing beats this video of Joey scoring the t-shirt with the frozen bananas stuck to his shirt.  A classic moment for block party lore. 

So thanks MaryKay and Deb (block party chair) for reversing my stance on these events.  I've learned my lesson: 

Less dead pig, more frozen bananas.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Where Have All the Good Jeans Gone?

I've never hidden the fact that I'm a big Eddie Bauer fan.  Just about every item they carry  comes in a tall.  I'd wear raccoon britches if they came in a tall. 

As with everything else, I only buy from Eddie Bauer at the end of the season when I can snag stuff for 75% off.  These flip-flops?  They were like $2.99 last December.

I know, I know.  Why I was never tapped as a foot model is beyond me.  Perhaps it had something to do with the cankles?

I headed over there the other day to sample their new, much-hyped jeans.  I planned to make a list of what I liked so I could buy it when it was eventually clearanced.

But the jeans?  They felt like spandex.  They showed every lump I had. 

I asked the saleslady for some other jeans to try on.  Regular ones.  Without all the stretch.  That's when she dropped the bomb:

"All of our jeans now have spandex in them.  Aren't they GREAT?"

No.  No.  No.

Spandex is only "great" if you are a size 2 and you want people to notice your calf muscles through your pants.

Spandex is NOT great for 40 year-old women who eat Ding Dongs.

As my best friend Jeanette and I checked out a few other stores, we noticed the Spandex-as-Jeans trend had also taken hold elsewhere. Every store had jeans that contained a certain percentage of that most unforgiving (and dare I say, demonic?) of fabrics.  

Annoyed, I posted a comment about my anti-spandex stance on the Eddie Bauer website.  I asked that they bring back a few spandex-free choices.  I demanded they remember us fat chicks who basically made them.

And wouldn't you know?

Eddie Bauer called back.  They left a message.  They wanted to discuss my feelings.

So I returned the call.  It pretty much went like this:

Eddie Bauer Lady:  We really want you to be happy about our new jeans.  We're very excited about them.

Marianne:  Yeah.  But I like your old jeans.

Eddie Bauer Lady:  But our new jeans are so great!

Marianne.  Nah.  They make me look fat ("fatter" if I was being 100% honest).

Eddie Bauer Lady: So what can we do to help you understand how great our new jeans are?

Marianne:  Hire me a personal trainer?

Eddie Bauer Lady:

Marianne:  Pay for liposuction?

Eddie Bauer Lady:

Marianne:  Oh, for Pete's sake.  I just want some regular old-fashioned thick jeans without spandex.  Could you just bring the old ones back?

Eddie Bauer Lady:  So do you think you might like our trouser pants?  They only have 2% spandex.  They're really really great!

I gotta give them credit for trying.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Back-to-School Blah's

Click here for my latest in Chicago Parent.  For whatever reason, I am just not feeling the back-to-school love this year.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

You Know You Love Your Mother When....

You smile and say thank you for her latest "great find" from Goodwill:

She loves it because it has three little boys..."like you!"

And now YOU must love it forever because it's from your mom.

But then you underhandedly decide to categorize it as a "Christmas decoration."   It gets placed in bubble wrap until December.   

You feel a little guilty.

Suddenly, all the guilt is washed away when you remember how much stuff you get to give the boys from their Nana once they grow up. You recall the frogs, right?

I keep this stuff and laugh.  None of it is really my style, but it makes my mom and my boys happy.   

Plus, I found Mike's Hard Lemonade on sale this week because the universe always rewards those who treasure  their mothers.

Are you listening, boys?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Dexter Season 7 Preview

The fact that I love Donny Osmond, Broadway musicals and Glee probably lumps me into the same demographic that also enjoys gardening, cooking, and scrapbooking.

Sadly, I cannot cook or scrapbook.  I burn Pop Tarts.  I also have a hard time opening a bottle of Elmer's Glue.  And when it comes to my ability to keep houseplants alive? 

Why, some would suggest I am a serial killer.

This leads me to my all-time favorite anti-hero, Dexter.  Because I'm too cheap to subscribe to Showtime, I have bought most of my seasons online, used, and courtesy of Ebay.  Yet based on the following clip, I do not know if I can wait the whole extra year to see what goes down this season.

For those who aren't familiar with the program, Dexter is a sociopath and serial-killer raised by a foster-father who also happens to be a policeman. The father, recognizing Dexter's "tendencies" early on, basically grooms him to be a conscientious and thorough killer.

That is, the father teaches him to only kill bad guys.

Season 7 premiers September 30th. I'm now left wondering what I can cut out of the family budget in order to add Showtime to our cable bill.

Are new shoes really necessary for the boys? And how many years of piano am I expected to pay for anyway? It's also probably safe to assume that Joey's recent fever isn't strep, right? I should go ahead and cancel that pediatrician appointment tomorrow.

The attached preview is not for the faint of heart or anyone looking to watch the series from the beginning. It is graphic in nature.  My mom, the registered nurse, was sure to comment after watching Season One:

That show is just too gory for me.


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Last Dance with Marianne

Anyone remember that scene from Gone with the Wind where a shamed Scarlett O'Hara is forced to attend a party with her southern neighbors?  She doesn't want to go and Rhett basically drags her out the door.

Replace Scarlett with Marianneparty with Tom Petty cover band, and southern with southside Chicago, and you'd pretty much understand my situation last night.

It's not that I don't like live music.  Or my neighbors.  Or going out.  But it was a long day with the kids and I was cranky.  In addition, I'm just not a big Tom Petty fan. And this wasn't even the real Tom Petty.  I mean, I'd do a fake Neil Diamond or a fake Barenaked Ladies, but a fake Tom Petty?

It felt wrong.

Three hours later, I was the one who was wrong.  The "we do everyone" band Tributosaurus rocked it at the Beverly Arts Center (Chicago's response to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts).  There was beer!  There were relatives!  And best of all?  There was THIS guy:

You remember Steve, right?  The man who believes it is better to be funny than proud.  Let's just say there was a lot of rushing the stage to dance with 50 year old women last night for good ol' Steve.  My sister-in-law Missy decided to bet me that I wouldn't do the same.  Missy, of course, is way cooler than I after coming off her backstage visit with Train last weekend:

Never one to be outdone, I picked up Missy's gauntlet and ran to the stage.  Like I really need to be encouraged?

So husband Joe and I danced like four-beer fools to Mary Jane's Last Dance.  The song is about marijuana.  I've never done marijuana.  But somehow dancing to a song about marijuana made me feel part of the counter-culture. After the show, I did something else very unlike me:

I demanded Mexican food.  With bean dip.

I don't even like Mexican food.  And I hate bean dip.

It tasted divine.

So there's a whole new Marianne in town.  A Tom Petty-loving, stage-rushing, Mexican food-eating Marianne. 

What she has in store for next weekend is anyone's guess.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

NASA Should Hire Firemen

Click HERE for my latest in Chicago Parent. 

I can only imagine my kids' "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" essays now.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What South Side Guys Do for Fun

I wanted to get these up in advance of my Wednesday's Chicago Parent story.  It will all make sense very soon, I promise.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Shame in a Brown Paper Bag

I once read that Candy Spelling has an entire room in her house devoted to wrapping presents.  I don't understand how this is possible. I mean how much space does one person need to simply shove things into a brown paper bag? 

I myself required only a kitchen counter to "wrap" Joe's birthday present last month:

Do you like how I saved on tape and used a chip clip instead?  CLASSY.

When it comes time to wrap presents for assorted kiddie parties, I haul out some clearanced Christmas rolls and duct tape.  Never mind that some of the kids' friends are Jewish.  My corners aren't exactly tight.  In fact, most people wouldn't feel comfortable using the word "corners" when describing my handiwork. I usually fib and tell parents that Joey helped.

I just never understood the point of putting a lot of effort into something that takes a few seconds to remove and throw away.  That was until yesterday:

There were cute little cookie and ice cream pictures taped to each stage of unwrapping. My kids gathered around, confused by the grandeur and extravagance of it all. There were sheer ribbons and silken material. There was calligraphy. And art. Magic abounded and curiosity took hold as I, along with my trio of bleary-eyed little boys, unearthed this most special of gifts.

With baited breath, we pulled out a beautiful wheel.  It was something to ignite both the mind and pen.  I dusted off a spot next to my computer.  This amazing gift of creativity and ingenuity was sent courtesy of  MOV, co-author of our upcoming book and apparent gift-wrapping savant.

I started to understand and appreciate this process a bit more.

And then I started panicking over my plans to send her a Starbucks gift card with a poem I wrote that rhymes "Nantucket" with one very bad word.

Like I said.  CLASSY.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

When Kindness Skips a Generation

My kids are kinder than me.  So is my husband. 

The only reason I'm kept around is to keep the nice people's clothes clean.

Click HERE for my latest in Chicago Parent.

Monday, August 6, 2012

I Need Help

Every once in a while, I feel compelled to inflict the musical stylings of 8 year olds on my unsuspecting readership.

I know this is wrong.

I know I shouldn't do it.

But it's a disease. 

Thank you for your understanding.  I'll try to hold off on a cello video for at least 3 months. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Keeping this One to Myself

I hate dream stories.

You know what I mean.  One of your friends opens with "I had the strangest dream," and you're stuck listening to their adventures in outer space.  Or how they got locked in the grocery store naked.  Or how they thought they were pregnant with octuplets.

I'm guilty of this myself.  I can see the boredom in my friends' eyes before I start providing extensive detail about something that never even happened.

Why do we do this?

So I'm not going to bore you with my really weird dream last night.  Instead, I'll just tell you that if dreams are really our alternate universe, I am bad-ass.

And I fly.

And my real name is Vix-Tar.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

No Butts About It

Click here for my latest in Chicago Parent. 

I never thought the Olympics would result in my having to defend the human derriere to the 8 & under crowd.

Can't wait to read the comments for this one!