Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Marianne Totally Found God. Stop Laughing.

Notice anything different about the school clothes this year?

It took some doing, but the Walsh Family has gone Catholic school.

And Marianne is taking bets on how quickly she'll be excommunicated.

Full story HERE in today's Chicago Parent.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Questionable Mother From Birth?

In the old Nature vs. Nurture debate, I purport that my mothering style was established early.  Full story in today's Chicago Parent.

Some of these girls are 30 now.  Holy crap I'm old.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Lithuanian Doorstop

I love visiting my dad's house.  You just never know what sort of creative stop gap you may stumble across.  Recently, my dad noticed the doorknob to his garage door was leaving a unsightly dent in his wall.

My dad immediately put down his ice-cream.

Then he rinsed off his wooden ice-cream spoon.

And came up with this:

Problem solved. 
Except now he had to locate an actual silverware spoon to finish up his ice cream.
A small price to pay, I suppose.
My dad will tell you that my 25% Lithuanian bloodline is all that saves me from being a "lost Irish soul" (note: my dad is also 1/2 Irish).  The implication?  If I was 100% Irish, I would not be able to tape a wooden ice-cream spoon to a wall.
He may be right.
Now where did I leave my wine?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Stuff to Do, Stuff to Buy & Stuff to Know

First cute are these??

My friend Deb made them for back-to-school and if you would like to purchase one, please email her at:  She also ships.

Second, my other friend Kathy is putting together a Cubs rooftop event on Friday, September 6th that will benefit Park Lawn School & Residence and Misericordia.  Tickets are available HERE and include food and drink.  I'm told that southsiders are allowed to cheer against their historic rivals.  It's not like anyone is paying that much attention to Chicago baseball right now anyway.  But did I mention the BEER?

Finally, I know many people are on the edge of their seats awaiting the winner of the bit Orbit Gum prize.  I bribed Danny to represent the non-biased accounting firm of Walsh & Walsh, and he did a fine job selecting a winner:

Congrats, Kirby!  As an aside, Kirby is in the midst of a blog reinvention (check out her blog, Kirb Appeal by clicking HERE).  She used to be more of a niche home d├ęcor/crafty blogger with a fine sense of humor.  Now?  Well, I think we're all going to see a whole new side of this gal.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Who Shanghaied Summer?

Anyone else feel like summer has been closer to this:

than this:

Full story CLICK HERE in today's Chicago Parent.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Of Faith, Death & Tradition

Click HERE for my story in today's Chicago Parent.

Not really a religious picture, but serpents are HUGE in Judeo-Christian doctrine, so I went with it.  

Friday, August 2, 2013

BlogHer 2013 - The Post With No Smoke Up Your Arse

My original plan for my post-BlogHer 2013 wrap-up was to be light and fun because there was so much silliness to celebrate.  But here's the thing.  My peeps, my gals, my blogosphere BFF's kept emailing, texting, and Facebook-ing wanting to get the "real" scoop.  Most of them have never been to BlogHer, and they were all curious about the tone, value, and emotional toll of what can be a scary and overwhelming concept.  So instead of being all high-energy and responding to each query individually, I've gotten lazy and decided to post it all:  the good, the bad, and the things that only Marianne finds funny.

Questions included:
  • Does the venue lend itself to really connecting with brands and professional opportunities?
  • Is it all a giant sorority party where the mean girls run everything?
  • Were the break-outs worthwhile?
  • Were you overwhelmed?
  • Are you glad you went?
So in honor of my peeps, I feel I owe an honest assessment of my very first BlogHer.  *gulp*  Here goes...

Tip #1: Establish Your Tribe in Advance

First up, there is no way I would have enjoyed BlogHer without my "tribe."  While it is true that I have spent 40 years mastering the persona of an extrovert, I am a covert introvert.  Large groups, loud music, and too much going on at once freaks me out and sends me into sensory overload.  I end up rocking and singing Mary Had a Little Lamb to cope.  Yet Shannon, Jeanette, Kari, and Jennifer propped me up, pointed me in the right direction, and made the conference a thousand times more fun and inviting than if I had gone it alone. 

My tribe was HOT.

Tip #2: Get Your Nails Done

It seems to be mandatory.  I don't think they even let you in if you don't.

My boys, or I as I refer to them, "My In-House IT Department."  This was taken right around the time when the nice pedicure lady went to battle with my feet.

Tip #3: For Business Opportunities, Stick with Brands You Truly Love

I seriously had no problem whatsoever gushing over brands and products I use and adore.  I believe it is very hard to "fake" interest in something you know nothing about, so I spent a lot of time on the Expo floor connecting with brands, collecting cards, and having meaningful dialogue with companies who receive much of my family's disposable income.  Credibility matters.

I totally skipped the organic, uber-healthy booths.  This is me we're talking about.

Tip #4: Speaking of Credibility....Celebrities Make You Wait

For those who know me, it is an established fact that I am not dazzled by celebrity.  In fact, most celebrities annoy me.  Despite this, I still love musical theatre and was looking forward to hearing Queen Latifah ("Mama Morton" in the movie Chicago) host the Voices of the Year keynote during the conference.  My cyber-sister Shannon was being honored.  I was excited, that is, until Queen Latifah was an hour late.  Now to be fair, I often run several minutes late for carpool and the orthodontist. But keeping so many people waiting during a conference that was so tightly choreographed soured me.  At the end of the day, I was far more interested in hearing the talented readings from the honorees, which sadly I had to cut short because of my own crammed docket.  I am probably a dying breed in this regard, but being late is a venial sin in my book.  Ten Hail Marys for everyone.

Tip #5: Work on Your "I Know YOU!" Face

I'm so bad at this.  Wonderful, warm, and talented women came over to say hello and I SUCK at recognizing people.  Making matters worse?  The name badges hung right around people's navels.  Being 6' fall, I practically had to bend myself in half in order to perform a "casual" glance at someone's badge.  I apologize to all those I may have offended.  Or inadvertently felt up.  I seriously have facial amnesia.  It's a disease.  Ask Brad Pitt.

I call this one "What everyone looks like to Marianne."  Photographer Kari called it "The Blair Witch Cab Ride."

Tip #6: Be Open to Fun

The too-cool-for-school crowd is not going to fare well at BlogHer.  With my own appreciation for the Theatre of the Absurd, I had a blast spinning giant wheels trying to win vibrators and free nuts. I loved hanging with the Pillsbury Doughboy and playing a drinking game of "How Many Times Are They Gonna Say 'Amazing Women' this session?" The ladies I approached and chatted with were the ones who were laughing.  There was a LOT of laughing at BlogHer because there are a LOT of funny women.  Find these gals and the conference will rock.

I seriously won a vibrator.  More on that another day...

I love a man in a suit.

Tip #7:   Pack an Extra Bag

The swag is out of control.  Enough Said.

Tip #8: Lose the Cute Shoes

Three hours into Day #1, nary a soul was sporting fancy heels.  Flip flops and gym shoes reign supreme at BlogHer.

Tip #9: Find a Session that Fits

I started out a little disappointed in some of the session options, but I definitely understood that monetizing one's blog, writing better, and improving one's technological skills are pretty hot topics amongst the blogger set.  I suppose I just was not in the mood to be reminded that I suck at technology and I end too many sentences in prepositions.  Yet my disappointment faded when I discovered that the NFL was sponsoring a session on female fans and traumatic brain injury.  As the mother of boys, and a sports enthusiast, it was like the session was made just for me.  The panel was phenomenal, comprised of NFL Foundation chairman, Charlotte Jones Anderson, Dr. Elizabeth Pieroth (a specialist on brain injury) and several other knowledgeable women.  I learned so much and cannot thank BlogHer and the NFL enough for this presentation.

Favorite line from Mrs. Anderson: "They used to think NFL merchandising for women was simply 'shrink it & pink it,' but not anymore!"

Tip #10: Don't Be Afraid of Quiet Time

I am the kind of person who cannot stay on Disney grounds when we visit Florida.  Sure, part of the reason is I'm cheap.  But the other explanation is I go into system overload.  Thanks to an emergency outing to Pizano's Pizza with my roomie Jenny and Shannon, I had an hour to reset my brain and central nervous system.  It was exactly what I needed.

In Conclusion

All in all, I had a great time at BlogHer '13.  I would definitely encourage those who have asked me about it to come and join my tribe.  Just like everything else in life, it's the people you remember most.  

Ok.  Back to unpacking all this flippin' swag.  I seriously have 10 bottles of Trojan Lubricant. 

Catch ya at BlogHer 2014!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Lucky Jack

I have always believed that sometimes, the right people come into your life just when you need them most.

Because that is exactly what happened to me eight years ago today.

Joe and I had been married less than two years.  My father-in-law was extremely ill as Joe completed his first go-around with the Chicago Fire Academy (paramedic side). 

Jack with Grandpa Walsh a few months before he passed away. 

I was working full-time, traveling, and in desperate need of a nap.  Our first son, Daniel, was 15 months old.  What little time our family had together was spent shoving things into a corner in order to cram another crib into our tiny, two-bedroom downtown Chicago condo. 

Son #2 was imminent.

While my delivery with Daniel had been a 48 hour disaster filled with heart monitors, cosmic edema, and agony, Jack's entrance into the world was seamless.  Truth be told, I've had more painful paper cuts.

I thought that perhaps the universe recognized I was not up for one more blasted challenge, not one more stupid thing. The proverbial feather could have tipped me right over the edge into madness, alcoholism, or, quite possibly, reality television.

So instead, I was sent the world's easiest child:

I'm not sure why I've got him wrapped up like a tamale.  It must have been very cold.  You know... in AUGUST.

Jack slept like a champ. He ate his vegetables. He was potty trained within minutes.

All mothers know that the love they feel for their kids is 100% the same. But many mothers also admit that one child is sometimes easier than the next. My Danny will argue the paint off the wall, and I love him more than reason. My Joey has a flair for the dramatic and epic over-reaction, but I would not trade him for the world.

And my Jack?  Jack is Zen.

I think I said something super-funny and classy to get him to laugh here.  Maybe it was "POOH."  (photo credit: Rebecca Healy)

Jack "got" the joke early, something his speech therapist found remarkable for a two-year old.  The reason he required speech therapy?  For two long years, Jack's only word was "BALL."  I was a ball.  Joe was a ball.  Nana was a ball.  The television was a ball.

The kid figured he'd died and gone to heaven the day we visited a pumpkin patch.  He interpreted the field as one comprised entirely of large, orange balls.  He raced from pumpkin to pumpkin, smiling and laughing, celebrating the magic land where balls grew from the ground like...well...pumpkins.

He's holding a plastic toy apple here, or in Jack-speak, a "BALL."

The writing was on the wall.  The kid was destined to be an athlete.

Sure enough, Jack was the child who slept with his baseball mitt, brought his hockey stick to Show & Tell, and watched the Blackhawks victory rally on a continuous DVR loop for three straight days.

He is also a musician who struggles with sheet music but who can also play a new song entirely by ear. 

He is dimples and sunshine, this amazing middle child of mine.

And I am so blessed to be his mom.  

So happy birthday, Jack.  And please promise me that you're not just saving everything difficult and ornery for the teen years.


I'll throw in a ball.

Jack pitching in the Championship game this Spring.

Below: That moment where the middle child takes a stand, or in Jack's case, when he announces "I am not the gitter (getter)."