Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Killing the Family Pets

With recurring storms and torrential rain pummeling the midwest, local ants have happily taken up residency in homes around Chicago. So much in fact, that Joey now considers these unwanted visitors his "pets."  He names them.  He offers to feed them.  He's tried to organize them into a game of ant hockey.

And no, we're not buying him a dog. 

After I disclosed how many carcinogens I have been releasing into my household to  rid ourselves of these little buggers, a childhood friend sent me an emergency supply of anti-bug stuff that she sells through Organnica Inc.

For the record, I am not a diligent investigator of all things chemical.  I figured my 1980s hairspray consumption has forever prohibited my involvement in any organic or environmental support group.


I have these kids.  And I was using a LOT of bug spray.

So I'm giving the natural stuff a try, and I'm particularly anxious to see how the bug repellent works out, too.  We all have about 30 mosquito bites and I'm sick of the whining.  Geez, when I was a kid, you got bit and were happy about it, no?

If anyone is interested in ordering their own non-cancer bug stuff, feel free to contact my pal Jennifer:

Okay, I'd better go and spray some Swerve.  Joey is trying to get his flock of ants to sit and watch television with him.

I don't think they're cooperating.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


I don't believe there should be secrets in marriage.

Except perhaps when Joe asks "what happened to the minivan?"

I promised the culprit I wouldn't rat her out.  It wasn't like she could have predicted that shopping cart would fly into minivan. 

But Joe feels differently.

Pop over and read full story in today's Chicago Parent.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Random Photo Monday

I took this gem on our way home from Florida last month:

Unadilla:  Where People Make a Difference.  At the Adult Superstore.

I laughed all the way to Kentucky.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Win a Minivan!

So here's the thing.

I am totally planning on winning that $600,000,000 tonight. 

But I need some good mojo going into the drawing. 

This is where you come in.

Leave a comment below along the lines of "Go, Marianne!" BEFORE the drawing.

And if I win the big drawing (millions and millions of dollars)?

I'm getting you a minivan, loyal reader.*

That's right. 

A brand spanking new minivan.

You can even pick out the color.

Because EVERYBODY deserves a minivan.

We'll all go shopping together.

Maybe Oprah will come.

Poor old minivan.

Let's make it happen!

*Contest (based on Marianne actually winning 100+ million) limited to first 30 commenters.  Odds of winning: 1 in a bazillion.  Marianne's thrill in providing free minivans to loyal readers = infinite.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Bad Idea

I suffered a complete lapse in judgement last week.  Can you guess what I volunteered to do? 


Damn kids.  Always running. 

Just kill me now.

Full story HERE in today's Chicago Parent.

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Gift of the Peni

In case you haven't yet heard me not-so-casually bring up the whole "Yeah, I was totally on the cover of the Nightly News webpage," here's a screenshot for good measure:

I so know best.  CLICK HERE for video segment.

I was going for a certain Mad Men meets Leave it to Beaver look.  I thought it would be a nice juxtaposition against my somewhat risque piece, entitled The Gift of the Peni (a spin on The Gift of the Maji).

Because the videos will not be available until this Summer, I've decided to post the text of my reading below.  Outside of my years in insurance, it is the first thing I've written that was intended to be read solely aloud, so I'm hoping it works as a written essay as well.

I also wrote it at like 3 o'clock in the morning and the under the influence of Rum Chata because I was secretly trying to sabotage myself.  What kind of producers would actually select an essay about penises?

Melisa Wells and Tracey Becker apparently share my love for the irreverent.

So without further ado, here is:

The Gift of the Peni

The penis.
Penis penis.

(whispered) Penis.

I do have a point here.
Once upon a time, before I had kids, I went to a psychic.  She was one of those coffee grind gypsies who could look into your cup and predict all of life’s great accomplishments and failings.  I watched as the other women finished their readings and walked out.  They talked about prophecies involving career, love, travel. Me?

I got penises.
Madame Musaude  was very careful with my cup and stared into it for a good long time.  She tipped and turned it.  Rattled and tapped it.  My prophecy was unshakable. 

Finally, after what felt like hours, she offered one, solitary forecast:   

(with accent, think Count Chocula):   You are going to be su-RRROUNDED by many, many penises.
At the time, I thought she was calling me a floozy. 

But now?

Penises are my life.

With three little boys who can’t hit the broadside of a barn, let alone the inside of a toilet, I know penises.  I know how to tuck them facing down while installing a fresh diaper.  I can treat a newly circumcised one better than any doctor or rabbi out there.

I am practically a penis whisperer.

Not that I’m complaining, mind you.  I was somewhat relieved with the birth of each son.  I was that rare 6 foot tall girl who was always directed to the back of the crowd for every class picture and grammar school performance. 

I knew my heart would break watching a daughter of mine get ushered behind the smaller kids, the cuter kids, the preferred kids.  I worried that I would not know how to instill confidence in a girl as I continued to struggle with confidence myself. 

So God, the universe, and my husband saw to it that Team Y Chromosome  won every foot race imaginable.
I welcomed each son with enthusiasm.  I had the clothes.  I had the toys.  I had this.

And then,  something changed.
I knew after our last son was born that I should not pursue more children.   My uterus was paper thin.  It was scarred and stretched.  Another pregnancy would undoubtedly just free up my husband to pursue that trophy wife.   

Still. I couldn’t help but think about a daughter.

Who would take care of me when I got old?  Who would watch Lifetime movies with me or help dye my grey hair?  I started lobbying for an infant girl from China immediately. 
After all, she’d never be 6 feet tall.  Or tossed to the back row.  Or get asked to carry the heavy box for her 3rd grade teacher.

My husband’s response?

 “No.  We’re good.”

Joe is a man of few words.   I tried desperately to decipher what “we’re good” meant.  Should we simply be happy with the three healthy sons we had?  Was it greedy to want a little girl?  Would we be defying our very destiny by seeking out more children than already allotted to us? 
I tossed and turned for weeks trying to make sense out of my husband’s nebulous decree on the matter. 

Finally, Joe picked up on my angst. 
“Oh Lord.  What now. What  What. What.”

I responded.

“What did you mean when you said ‘we’re good’?  Are you truly happy with three?   You came from a family of seven.  SEVEN. I thought you told me back when we were dating that you wanted at least one of each?”
Joe replied:

“Oh cripes, Marianne.  I also told you that I loved the theatre back then.  I was full of crap.  Never believe anything a guy tells you when you’re dating.”
“So when you said ‘we were good’?” I questioned one more time for assurance.

“I meant we’re old.  We’re done.  I want to retire before I’m 80.”
For someone like me who has problems with self-image, my husband helped provide an interesting take on our happy house of many penises:

“You need to see the positive in this, Marianne,” he counseled.
“What’s that?”

“Have you even looked at the boys’ growth charts from the pediatrician?  You’re gonna be like the shortest person in our family.” 
Whatwasthat?  Did Joe just call me ‘dainty?’ I was going to be dainty? Dainty dainty me?

“Hey, you guys know Marianne?  Yeah, she’s totally dainty.” 
I let the implications wash over me like a warm ocean tide.

The front row could finally be mine, but now? 
I didn’t really want it.

I wanted to be in the back.  With my boys.  With the kids with the big brown eyes, endless freckles and humongous feet. 
Motherhood had somehow tilted my world on its axis.

For this time out, the cool kids, the preferred kids, were all standing in the back row.

And they were saving a spot for me.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Best Kind of Present

Joe left this out front before heading off to the firehouse this morning.  He's been making it on the side for weeks.  He also mistakenly believes that I enjoy planting flowers, but I still sorta love it.
It's too heavy to turn, but says "Love, Danny, Jack & Joe"
Then there are the wonderful cards like this from the boys:

Just call me "Momo"

But I gotta be honest.  I do have a certain kind of home-made gift that I love best:

The other boys wouldn't get in the box.

I hope every mother out there finds a reason to smile, laugh, or eat cookies and pie today! 

Happy Mother's Day!


Friday, May 10, 2013

The Experience

It has now been 5 days since I took the stage at the 2013 Chicago "Listen to Your Mother" Show.

All photos by Sabrina Persico

And for once in my life, words fail me.

The whole experience?


The cast?


My fears before the show?

I threw up in my purse.

My exhilaration afterwards?

Joe is one happy man.  And I am one AWESOME wife.

Here are a few highlights as I remember them through the thick fog of "Did that really just happen?"

With NBC cameras rolling, I felt like a Real Housewife of Chicago.  Cast member Nadine Warner was fantastic, providing comic relief and tons of laughs (with a little extra help from Bailey's in the old coffee mug.  Thanks, Dad)
Show Day Walk-Throughs.  The microphone proved troublesome due to the ten inch difference in height between the tallest (guess who?) and smallest of speakers
Backstage as we prepare to go on.  Take note of my death grip on that Bailey' cup.  Aw sh*t.  Who am I fooling?


You can't make me.

Oh, fine.
Through every twist and turn, every bundle of nerves, and every "I can't do this" moment, there stood our fearless leaders and co-producers, Melisa Wells and Tracey Becker:

Producers to rest of cast: "NOBODY gives Marianne liquor or coffee after 10 AM...y'hear?  She's practically GIZMO."

The NBC segment recorded in Chicago is available HERE and highlights national director, Ann Imig, along with various members of the Chicago cast.  The Saturday morning Today Show is also slated to show the piece.  Ann was interviewed at our production, and we're all secretly hoping to be discovered as the next Katie Couric.

Think of how much Bailey's that would take.

For those interested, videos of the assorted productions will be made available on YouTube this summer.  I also hope to post the text from my actual reading next week. 

The name of my piece, you ask?

The Gift of the Peni.

Yeah.  Now you understand all the Bailey's. 
to be continued.....

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

My Mother's Day Movement

Mother's Day has not always gone swimmingly for me.  So a few years ago, I mixed things up.  Full story in today's Chicago Parent (click HERE).

A couple of weeks before life would end as I knew it.

Monday, May 6, 2013

With Deepest Apologies to the Blogosphere

To All My Fantastic Bloggy Friends,

I am apparently not so good at this whole "multi-tasking" thing. 

Instead of explaining, I will simply offer my week in pictures:

Excuse #1: Clean the house for Jack's First Communion Party.  This mostly involved throwing everything we own into the spare bedroom and locking the door
Excuse #2: Make sure everyone sorta had clothes for aforementioned First Communion
Excuse #3: Disguise/hide all evidence of children living in the house
Excuse #4: It is very hard to stop laughing when Charlie Brown appears at your front door
Excuse #5: Hanging out with the cast of "Listen to Your Mother" and my resulting stage debut ate up some serious time (photo credit: Sabrina Persico)

Excuse #6: Did I mention there were cookies?

Factor in additional baseball games, the start of the spring/summer swim season, and a recently departed great-aunt and you get the idea.

I promise to return shortly. 

And I'll try to bring cookies.

Thank you for your understanding.


The Management

Friday, May 3, 2013

The Reading Choice of ER Moms

I received an email from a great mom I know who had the misfortune of spending the evening in the ER with her "medium child."

She was kind enough to include a picture of her visit:

Who looks this pulled together in the ER?  I am usually wearing pajamas and zit cream.

I can think of no greater endorsement for Epic Mom (the super-duper funny book I co-authored with Julie Harrison) than seeing it as the go-to choice for mothers of the ER everywhere.
This kind of honor is better than any Pulitzer out there.
My co-author also wanted me to remind you that Mother's Day is right around the corner and there is probably someone in your life who could use a laugh. 
Let's just hope it is not because she's spending 6 hours in the ER.  
Click HERE to view on Amazon. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Mighty Sand Gnats

Based on the evidence below, who do you suppose mixed up Joey's T-ball game with Danny's baseball game?

If he was allowed to swear, you know he's thinking, "This is such bullsh*t."
This is Joey "playing" left field.  I stole Danny's hat so he at least sorta looked like a baseball player.

I did figure things out by Game #2.
My son invited every single base runner to our house for a playdate. We might have to move.

For more on my adventures in T-ball, visit today's Chicago Parent!