Thursday, November 29, 2012

My First Cover Bomb

Thank you to the following bloggers/goddesses who were strong-armed to help "Get Out the Like" on the new Epic Mom's Facebook page!

JR - The Concoctions of My Life
Andrea - Maybe It's Just Me
Ali - My Suitcase Full of Tricks
Jewels - Frazzled & Frumpy

With your guys' help (and a few other non-blogging friends and family), the new page has almost 150 "Likes" (in prize terms, that's a book and a half!).  

In addition, my favorite (and slightly off-kilter) misanthrope Gweenbrick offered up his cartoon doppelganger performing a "Cover Bomb."

I nearly peed myself.

Gweenbrick is one of the only bloggers I know who makes me sad, uncomfortable, and confused as I wipe away tears of laughter.

If you're feeling bummed that I haven't asked you to do anything yet, loyal reader, fear not.  You're on the list.  I'm a-comin'.  No blog will go unturned.  No writer will go unused.

I am nothing if not a marketing mastermind with very little talent but great exploitation skills.  I'm practically Paris Hilton.

Why just look at the nifty rack cards I had printed up to drop in every office, school, and crack den I come across:

If you're scared I'm going to ask you to accompany me on the book tour to carry my bags (not beyond my realm of delusional thinking), feel free to drop me your address to be put on "Rack Card Duty" and I'll ship you some!  Then you're totally off the hook!  Email:

That is until the next book comes out:  Epic Pain in the Ass

Thank you to everyone who is suffering through this with me.  You guys are real friends.  I've even dropped the "cyber" part.  I'd go drinking with all of you (except my Mormon bloggers, who I find particularly funny...ironic given they don't have the aid of alcohol to inspire them.  Apparently Jesus trumps liquor in terms of getting the creative juices flowing).

Cheers!  (I'm raising a coffee so everyone can participate).

Darnit.  My husband just told me that some Mormons don't drink coffee.

I've got Tang if that works.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Let Me Eat Cake

For me, weddings are about one thing:

Check out the lengths I will go to in order to ensure nobody messes with my cake - read about it in today's Chicago Parent.

Update:  Aunt Ellen sent me this classic picture from her wedding and I had to share. That would be me with the "Dorothy Hamill" haircut (which to lead to hundreds of people commenting to my mom:  "What a darling little boy!"). 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

When Mary Marries

My husband's family has a history of throwing legendary weddings.  I have been looking forward to his sister Mary's union for months.  Sadly, the big event has passed and I am not yet able to put together appropriate words to capture all the fun.

Mostly because I have reached my recommended daily allowance for Excedrin Migraine.

I am told the party lasted until 6 am the next morning.  I still don't know how Joe and I wound up with a rogue visitor from Ireland on our couch.  To be fair, the gentleman was quite pleasant and tidy.  I think he fled once the kids woke up and asked to play Battleship.

I thought I'd share a few pics courtesy of all the relatives who posted on Facebook:

I'm not going to tell you EXACTLY where we ordered our bridesmaid dresses, but let's just say our experience was less than stellar.  Think Pearl Harbor.

A certain Chicago fireman we know & love walking his gorgeous sister down the aisle.
The kids outlasted (and out-danced) most of the adults.
John the groom (right) with the same smile he wore for 24 hours straight. 
Whoever this poor worker is, I deeply apologize.
Could. Not. Be. More. Beautiful.

This would be the after-party, right after I woke up from a little "nap" (or possible brief period of unconsciousness courtesy of some generously-poured cocktails).

Congratulations John & Mary!!!

Monday, November 19, 2012

I Can't Believe I'm Sharing This

For Marianne's first (and possibly last) radio appearance, click below:

Worst WGN Guest EVER

For the record, I came from a family of four kids, not seven.  I was nervous. 

Joe is the one who came from a family of seven.

English majors aren't good at math.

Or at radio.

Or at hiding the donuts once they realize the nutrition expert is in the studio:

I don't care what the "industry people" recommend for next time (if there is one).  Jim Beam and I will be tying one on. 

Kathie Lee & Hoda got it right.

Which is why I'm only listening to drunk women from here on out.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Marianne to Appear on WGN Radio 720

I'm on the hook for some major do-gooding.  Like donating blood, saving orphans and curing lupus kinds of things.

What have I done now, you ask?

Nothing.  Well, just the regular stuff, really.  I got the back of my  neck waxed for my upcoming bridesmaid gig.  We're all sporting updo's.  I have a monkey neck.  I would have taken pictures to prove my point, but I figured some of you might be eating. 

Anyhoo, the fates and fabulous blogger Cathy Cassani Adams bestowed yet another incredible opportunity upon my undeserving butt yesterday.  It involves a radio appearance and quite possibly some alcohol.

The only microphone I should ever consider using.

But wait.  Let me introduce Cathy before I get ahead of myself (from her official bio):

Cathy Cassani Adams is a parenting expert and self-awareness teacher who supports parents in uncovering their authentic selves and inner joy so they can raise their children in a calm, loving, and supportive environment. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, a PCI Certified Parent Coach®, a Certified Elementary School Teacher and a Certified Yoga Teacher.

Cathy is Adjunct Faculty in the Sociology Department at Dominican University, she received her Master’s in Social Work from Loyola University, and her Bachelor’s in Elementary Education from Drake University.  

Cathy is the author of The Self-Aware Parent and The Self-Aware Parent Two and she co-hosts Zen Parenting Radio with her husband Todd.  She teaches yoga at her local studio. 

Impressive, right?

All educated and licensed and adjuncted.  Warm and insightful.  A YOGA lover.

Yeah, I avoided Cathy at first, too.  She was a fellow blogger on Chicago Parent before she scooched over to Chicago Now.  But I decided to check my cynicism at the door and give some of her ideas a whirl.

The "be in the moment" stuff.  The "keep your children emotionally safe" stuff.

It was hard for a mom who occasionally threatened to send her kids to the orphanage.

But her ideas held water.  In difficult situations, the my-way-or-the-highway approach failed.  Cathy's way yielded a calmer Marianne and more reasonable children.

Go figure.

After becoming a reluctant convert to some of Cathy's thinking, I pretty much assumed she used my blog as a case study on how NOT to parent.  All of my over-scheduling and over-reacting?  Not Cathy's style.

But guess what she went and did?

As a frequent guest on Bill Moller's WGN Radio 720  show, Cathy displays inordinate knowledge and poise during each appearance. 

And then she recommended the anti-Cathy to Bill.  The one person who doesn't know the difference between downward facing dog and a push-up.  Yours truly. 

For those interested in hearing me screw up any chances of ever appearing on The View, check out WGN Radio 720 (link to listen live)  at 10:30 am-ish (CENTRAL) this Saturday.   I have a feeling I may go down as the most frenetic interviewee ever.

Not counting Charlie Sheen.

Which brings me back to the alcohol.

Sadly, I depleted my supply getting the old neck waxed (Revolutionary War anesthesia, I'm told).  There are a lot of nerves in your neck.

No matter.  Thank you, Cathy.  For this amazing opportunity. 

I will try very hard to be "in the moment." 

And I pray whoever controls the BLEEP button has very fast hands.

(If unable to listen live, I may be able to link to a podcast later.  Please note that I am often an unintelligible blur of rapid-fire ideas and words strung together with caffeine and Red Bull. Advise your doctor of any history of high blood pressure or seizure disorder before tuning in).

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I Went to Parent-Teacher Conferences & Liked It

Sometimes I close my eyes and pretend I'm a farmer:

But then I remember I have allergies, I hate the outdoors, and hard physical labor sucks.

So instead, I go to Parent-Teacher conferences in the big city and write about having to sign a form explaining concussions in case my child is injured during his after-school activity.

Which is CHESS by the way.  Apparently those chess kids can be brutal.

Click HERE for my latest in Chicago Parent.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Columnist

Dear Faithful Followers,

Please note that I have decided to go by this symbol:

Because as of January, I will be a monthly COLUMNIST for Chicago Parent Magazine!  So when speaking my name aloud, I would suggest using "The-Columnist-Formerly-Known-as-Marianne." 

Or more simply, "The Columnist."

I feel like Pinocchio when he became a real boy, but without the whole creepy Geppetto side-story thing.

In the meantime, feel free to pick up November's Chicago Parent to find me on sexy page 117.  I have been told that the new column will "definitely appear closer to the front of the magazine at the start of the year."

I'm thinking page 103 has my name written all over it.

So thank you, gang.  Thank you for continuing to support all my nonsense, clear bipolar tendencies, and horrible decision-making process in raising 3 kids.

In some small way, you are helping make the world a better, more dysfunctional place.


Friday, November 9, 2012

The One Where My Head Explodes

I really hate it when my head explodes. It leaves a terrible mess. Thankfully, my head doesn’t explode too often. Instead of getting angry about all the stupid and aggravating things in life, I usually look for the punch-line. It keeps me from becoming a recluse and moving to a remote cabin in Montana.

Sadly, my head did in fact explode last week. It was disastrous. There was brain matter all over the place. I had to call in a HAZMAT team. And I'm quite sure I won't be able to remove all the stains from my beautiful poo-colored carpet without professional help.

What started it all? It was a simple phone call from my dad:

"Hey Marianne. Don’t forget to get your $25 gift card from Walgreens when you attend parent-teacher conferences this month.”

“What are you talking about, old man? Go take your St. John’s Wort pills and call me back later.”

“$25 gift cards! Walgreens and the Chicago Public Schools are giving them to parents who simply SHOW UP on report card day. I just read about it in The Tribune. Go on your computer and see if the boys’ schools made the list.”

“What list?”

“I guess they only picked 70 schools as part of the pilot program. Maybe they’ll start paying you guys to wash your kids’ clothes next? HA HA. You’ll be RICH. And what about pouring cereal each morning? That should earn you a ten-spot for sure. HA HA HA.”
Convinced my father was experiencing the early stages of dementia, I went and looked up the story online with my husband. It was all true. In an effort to engage disinterested individuals in their children’s education, CPS had partnered with Walgreens to essentially bribe parents. To do their job.  

And that's when my head exploded.  

As I ran around the kitchen collecting the key components of my brain (the part that remembers where my minivan keys are), I struggled to stay calm. The level of absurdity in this plan was so high that I couldn’t figure out why I wasn't yet laughing. The comedic potential was infinite! And yet I had nothing. Even Joe looked surprised.

I wondered aloud how in the world I would put my head back together again.

“Don’t worry, honey,” comforted Joe. “If one of the boys’ schools participates in the program, we can buy like SIX bottles of SUPER GLUE from Walgreens with that gift card. We’ll have you good as new.  Like Humpty Dumpty. HA HA HA."

That’s when I gave the man a real piece of my mind.

It hit him in the nose.

And from now on, I’m screening all calls from my dad.

I'm one mad chick.  The one in the middle.  With bad hair.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Can I Look Now?

I am so going to miss all the ads, political Facebook posts, robocalls, mailings, t-shirts, faux school elections, hysterical rhetoric, negative campaigning and a firmly divided nation.

And if you believe that, I've got a wonderful bridge I'd love for you to take a look it.

What I will actually miss is the extra week of work for Joe courtesy of Election Day set-up at McCormick Place:

The paycheck will buy me a whole lot of Red Bull and Cocoa Puffs.  Joe kept calling me throughout the afternoon yesterday to see if I was watching CNN and marveling at all his hard work and glorious production preparation. 

He was careful to whisper, though.  I think the Secret Service may have been watching him.

And my response was truthful:

Nope.  I'm doing laundry.

But thanks for keeping me in my happy, Nutella-fed lifestyle, honey.

Anyway, congratulations to Barack Obama and best wishes to Mitt Romney.  At the end of all this insanity, I believe both men truly want the best for America, they just disagree on the approach.

And now?

Can we all get back to normal life and start posting pictures of our pets and kids on Facebook again? 

For my Kumbaya moment (sort of), please click here for  today's article in Chicago Parent.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

One of the Good Ones

I have always believed there is a rhythm and music to life:  crescendos and decrescendos, overtures and operas, tempo and melody.  It is how a person tells a joke, enters and room, and even marches through life.  There is a recognizable beat to us all, whether one is a whimsical little minuet or a grand romantic concerto.

The dynamics of songs are evident in the sheet music.  When I started this blog, I wanted the same obvious and immediate understanding.  The blog would be fun and airy.  Whimsical and light.  Nobody would ever confuse its tone with Tolstoy or Dostoevsky.

And yet there are moments.  Moments where I don't feel light or airy.  Times where I need to go somewhere else and write something different.  Today is such a day.

It began yesterday afternoon.  It was the usual response once word gets out.  A southside Chicago fireman had been killed.  Our phones were suddenly riddled with texts and phone calls.  Folks doing a headcount.  Making sure.  Details began emerging. 

Captain Herbert Johnson was a neighborhood guy, a Beverly man.  He came from a family of cops and firemen.  He had a wife and three children.  And he was looking forward to his son's upcoming football game with so much excitement that it was all he could talk about that day.  Over and over, people describe him the same way: 

A great guy. 

What a smile. 

What a laugh!  

One of the good ones.

He died battling a fire that destroyed the home where 8 children lived.  In watching the aftermath of Sandy this week, I was overcome by the image of dozens of other firemen wading through a flooded and burning Queens neighborhood to help as best they could.  In the middle of a hurricane.  With their engines, trucks and hoses unable to reach the fiery structures, they kept going. 

I could almost hear the blaring symphony as the winds raged and the downpour furiously pelted those rare individuals who stood in the middle of it all.   

Captain Herbert Johnson was like that.  The 32-year veteran headed to New York after 9/11 to help.  He attended the funerals of his New York brethren.  He made friends wherever he went, and in a neighborhood full of characters, he managed to stand out. 

Friends and family are asking for everyone to check their smoke alarms "in Herbie's honor" this month.  It is a way of making sure the man's song plays on, his legacy unforgotten.  So I share that message with you.  It is the least I can do, and also ask that you offer up a prayer for the family of Captain Herbert Johnson.