Friday, June 27, 2014

The Contest - Week 4: Shurtape (AKA Duck Tape)

This week's episode of "The Contest" features my letter to Shurtape (aka "The Duck Tape People").  Although my husband has many talents, he is not exactly MacGyver.  In our daily lives, we rely on duck tape for pretty much everything.  A letter of appreciation was definitely in order.

Dear Sir/Madam:

I just wanted to thank you.  In a struggling economy where funds are almost as limited as my husband's ability to fix things, your product sure comes in handy:

For the record, all three of my sons vehemently deny being the one responsible for breaking the bed.  All I know is a football was involved.  I am also glad that nobody cracked their head open or I would be writing about an entirely different use for Shurtape.

Kind regards,

Marianne Walsh


Did Shurtape give this blogging fool some love for her random "I love you" letter?  Or did they ignore me as most sane people do?

Shurtape not only sent several boxes of specialty, Chicago-themed tape, but they sent along the serious heavy-duty stuff AND an invite to the big Duck Tape Festival in Avon, Ohio.

There's a DUCK TAPE FESTIVAL, you ask?

Why yes.

Yes there is:

Sadly, I could not sneak away to Ohio this June, but I have brought it up to Joe as a vacation option for next year.  Who doesn't love Duck Tape?  Check out the pictures from the event HERE.  It rather reminded me of the Rose Bowl, but with duck tape.  I thought the float with E.T. was genius.

Anyway, this response brings my current score to 17.  To check out how the competition is doing, visit Andrea today!

Series continued next Friday!


Friday, June 20, 2014

The Contest - Week 3: Folgers French Vanilla Cappuccio

In case you have no idea what's going on with this post, check out THE FULL EXPLANATION which reveals all.

Please do not tell Joe that I have outed him for drinking French Vanilla Cappuccinos.  I'd hate for him to lose his man card.

Dear Sir/Madam,

Being a devout coffee drinker, it should come as no surprise that I really enjoy your coffee products.  My husband, on the other hand, has always been a bit of a hard sell.

Joe, like most Chicago firemen, works a second job.  He is tired all the time.  Pile on three busy little boys who demand to play or wrestle him the second he walks in the door, and it’s rather astonishing the guy is still standing.

I have gently suggested that coffee might provide the added boost needed to not topple over each day.  For years, Joe refused to even take a sip from anything in the coffee family.  His legendary stubbornness held firm.

Yet everything changed the day he saw your French Vanilla Cappuccino on the shelf at the grocery store.  He finally decided to give Folgers a whirl.

From the moment Joe took his first sip and nodded in subtle acknowledgement of enjoying his beverage, I knew he was a convert.  My husband has even taken to stocking up on French Vanilla Cappuccino, “just in case they ever stop making it.”
Joe has trust issues.

On behalf of my hard-working and cappuccino-loving husband, thank you for this wonderful product.  And if you could put in writing that you’ll never stop making the stuff, I may be able to persuade him to stop buying in bulk.  I’m running out of room in our pantry.

Much obliged,

Marianne Walsh


So now for the results.  I was desperately hoping Folgers would deliver a case of cappuccinos to help give credence to my whole "Marianne is an awesome writer" campaign.  Instead, I did score a couple of neat coupons that I just realized are about to expire.  Time to go shopping.

The Response

Coupons = 2 points.  Marianne's total to date = 12 points.

To see how my competition is doing, visit Andrea's blog for her latest!

Be sure to stop by again next Friday for the continuation of this innovative series.  And by "innovative," I mean silly and slightly off-kilter.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

A Vacation Story

In case you missed my June column for Chicago Parent magazine, I thought Father's Day might be a fitting day to re-post.  Best wishes and much love to the man who paved the way for functional insanity in my life and laughing in the face of disaster.  Happy Father's Day, dad!
My husband and I are both products of the 1970s single-income parenting philosophy where luxury was defined as any new item not handed down from an older sibling.

And this would include underwear.

Raising four kids on a tight budget produced countless stories of ingenuity and insanity that still make me laugh.  Yet my favorite tales always involve the family vacation.  There were no planes.  Hotels were for sissies.  And GPS? That would be my dad, his old Rand McNally map, and a carefully researched route highlighted in permanent yellow marker.         

My father viewed these trips as a personal mission from God to break the land speed record for Chicago to Florida.  The man would drive eighteen hours straight, stopping only for gas.  As kids, we knew all too well that there would be no second chances for “having to go.” An ice cooler of homemade sandwiches sat at my mom’s feet and a clipboard for recording gas prices and average miles-per-hour was tucked under the driver’s seat. 

For entertainment, we wrestled to be nearest the front of the van for bragging rights, “I’m the first one in Tennessee!”  We counted state license plates, read books, and listened to Neil Diamond on the radio.  Best of all?  We talked.

These trips made my childhood.     

When it came time to vacation with our own kids, my husband and I shared one brain.  Of course we would road trip.

With only hours to go before our inaugural trek, Joe wandered into the kitchen as I dumped ice into a cooler.

“What are you doing?” he questioned, confused.

“Making sandwiches!  Packing drinks!  I figure we can make it there in 18 hours!”

“What are you talking about?” Joe asked, producing his detailed list of “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.”

“We’re eating at RESTAURANTS?” I demanded, appalled by his lack of shared vision and disregard for basic frugality.

“Yes.  And we’re not driving straight through.  I booked a hotel in Georgia.  It’s not 1979.  If I want world-famous barbeque, then by God, we’re getting world-famous barbeque.  Maybe Guy Fieri will be there.”

As I tried to wrap my brain around a vacation without salami, my husband removed the boys’ violins from our minivan. After that? He green-lighted the kids bringing their DS games.  My dreams of being serenaded by strings and discussing world history were dashed.

“Look,” Joe comforted, “I know you have this idea about how you want things, but our parents did stuff a certain way because they had no other choice.  We have options.  Let’s just enjoy that fact, ok?”

“But,” I kept on stubbornly, “I LOVED driving through the night - it made me feel like a Von Trapp family singer fleeing the Nazis.  I loved talking and dreaming of what was to come.”

“What was to come,” Joe responded, “was a life where we can stay overnight at a hotel occasionally and eat world famous barbeque in an actual restaurant.”

My husband made solid points.  Yet I always believed having less material stuff made for happier adults. I value friendships, family, and a funny story more than anything, and I wanted the same for my children.  But somehow, I had forgotten to include Joe’s priorities in how we were raising our kids.

I had forgotten to include good barbeque and a decent night’s sleep. 

Our vacations since then have been a compromise of ideals.  Limited video games. Routes planned around dining options.  No trombones in the minivan. 

But there is still the talking and laughing. 

And I suppose that is what matters most.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Contest: Week 2 Parissa Body Sugar

In case you have no idea what's going on with this post, check out THE FULL EXPLANATION which reveals all.

You may be wondering what kind of sexual deviant I am by highlighting the glorious properties of Parissa Body Sugar, right? 

Hold the phones.  It's not what you think.

The product is a hair removal system.  Full letter below.

And please don't tell Andrea I'm going out of order because frankly, I need to prepare myself for bathing suit season.  I'm starting to resemble the Yeti.

Dear Sir/Madam,

Never in all my 40 years as a human being has there existed the extraordinary genius that exists in your Sugar Hair Removal system. 

Truth be told, until I started using the Parissa Body Sugar Hair Removal system, people questioned whether or not I was actually human. 
I am one hairy monster.  The stuff grows from my elbows and feet.  I once found a 6 inch tentacle sprouting from behind a knee.  When I checked into a hotel several years ago and noticed one of those magnifying mirrors in the bathroom, I took a life-altering look at myself. 

And I suddenly realized why so many people insisted on calling me “sir.”
After that experience, I immediately began the search for the perfect product to differentiate myself from Jane Goodall’s Tanzanian jungle friends.  I mean how many times can a girl get mistaken for “Frodo” before doing something about it?  My first attempt involved bleaching.  For fifteen long minutes, I would sit in agonizing pain while the harsh chemicals burned my skin and stripped my hair of all color. 
I wound up looking like Knut the polar bear.
And a bit like Dick Van Dyke.

The bleached hair fooled nobody, so I next purchased a hand-held device that electrocuted follicles one by one.  I would have gladly divulged national security secrets during that time.  My screams could be heard from space.

I tried home waxing kits.  While these were far more effective and less excruciating than previous methods, I accidentally turned my home into a beehive.  The wax wound up everywhere.  No matter how careful I was, a few drips would inevitably harden and hold firm to whatever surface they landed.  My husband complained.  My kids’ socks stuck to the floor.  Wax was everywhere. 
What was a hairy girl to do?

And that’s when I found your marvelous sugaring system.  There was so much to make me happy.  I only had to use water to clean up the drips!  The reusable strips were awesome!  And best of all?  If I somehow managed to survive an asteroid hitting the earth, my jar of sugar hair removal stuff is EDIBLE.  Because if all life ceases, there would be no real reason to worry about fuzzy legs.  Heck, maybe my downy covering would prove beneficial. 

I wouldn't even need a cave.

PLUS, I will have an extra jar of post-Apocalyptic SUGAR.  The zombies better look out.
You have provided an amazing product, and for that I am grateful.

Marianne Walsh
So what were the results?  Did the Parissa people send me coupon?  Did they call to request a photo of my fuzziness?
They sent this:
AND they called my letter "brilliant."
I scored an awesome WARMER to keep my sugar the perfect temperature for eradicating my winter coat.  I also received an additional sugaring system and some fancy gloves and spatula.
My husband has no idea why I am so excited.  He thinks I'm a tulip.
So that brings my score to 10 points (previous week's letter CLICK HERE).  To check out the competition, visit Andrea's blog this week and enjoy a good laugh!
Stay tuned, this goofy-ass series continues next Friday!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Sink Hole Sabbatical

Driving through the bank and coming face-to-face with something suspiciously resembling a sinkhole felt like a set-up.  I have an unholy fear of sinkholes.  When one appeared last year a few blocks from where I live, my husband had to spend weeks coaxing me out of the house with promises of clearance shoes and cake.  So when I spied this bad-boy, I thought for sure a camera crew was nearby ready to yell “PUNKED!”
I mean, really?  The only thing notifying distracted drivers that a date with Middle Earth awaits was a solitary orange cone. 
Perhaps they figure those caught in the debris won’t have any tales to tell?

Anyway, I carefully directed my minivan around the Great Pit of Carkoon and headed home.

Where I will be staying for the entire summer.

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Contest: Week One - Fubbles Bubbles

Lest you forget, loyal reader, every Friday I will be posting one of the letters I wrote in my high stakes competition against Andrea to prove that God loves funny people the most.  Weekly scores will also be computed, and if you have no idea what the hell is going on, visit the full explanation by clicking HERE.

Company calls or sends letter = 1 point
Company sends coupon = 2 points
Company sends voucher or product = 5 points

Without further ado, here is my inaugural effort:

Dear Fubbles Bubbles,

I have loved bubbles ever since I first watched Glinda arrive over the rainbow and dab-smack in the middle of Munchkin Village.  I coveted Willy Wonka’s Bubble Room with biblical impurity.   Don Ho may have been singing to me when he crooned Tiny Bubbles.

But then I had kids. 

Kids ruin everything. My precious bubbles?  The kids drank them.  They stomped and popped them. They lost the wands, misplaced the caps, but worst of all?

They spilled them.

They spilled my bubbles.

These soapy little spheroids of happiness were treated like dirt until I discovered that most wondrous of products: your Fubbles Bubbles. 

I just wanted to let you know that peace, love, and unicorns have been restored to the universe because of Fubbles.

So thank you.

Thank you so much.

Now off to blow more bubbles!

Marianne Walsh


So did Fubbles Bubbles respond?

Or did they ignore me as they would any wackadoodle escapee?


I think Fubbles Bubbles may be my favorite company ever.  Not only did they write back to say how much they enjoyed my letter, they sent this:

Now before the poor company goes bankrupt from everyone writing to say how much they love Fubbles Bubbles (as most moms do), I would suggest you find your own happy place, your own favorite company.  And write them.

But Fubbles Bubbles?

They are all mine.

Marianne's First Week Score = 5 points

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Following Directions

You'd think I would have learned my lesson by now.

Not so.

Following directions is definitely a lost art.  Full story click HERE in today's Chicago Parent.

NOT ground cover.