Friday, July 25, 2014

The Contest - Week 8: Bradley Smoker

The Contest continues this week with a foray into BBQ, an institution my husband plans entire roadtrips around.  In honor of him, I wrote to the Bradley Smoker people. Read on to find out if this most valued of companies responded.

Dear Bradley Smoker,

Joe with his pride and joy.
When a lady is married to a Chicago fireman, there are certain things that come along with the job.  First and foremost is understanding that meat will forever play an integral part in the relationship.  There are no soup and salad evenings.  No sushi nights out.  No having a bowl of Corn Flakes for dinner (at least when he's home).

The bonus aspect of this devotion to the beef/pork/chicken industries is the fact that most firemen can cook.  And when I say cook, I mean these guys can chop, dice, and reduce like I’ve never thought possible.

It’s all rather humbling for the non-cook, Corn Flakes-loving variety of wife.

Anyway, my husband, Joe, is a good guy, a great father, and hard-working man.  So when he called up several months ago to get clearance to buy a Bradley Smoker that was on sale, I gave him the okay.

Our marriage has never been better.

Joe meticulously plans out meals weeks in advance, marinates for days, and stands next to that smoker with such pride and love that you’d swear he was Neil Armstrong landing on the moon.

Thank you for bringing such joy to our family, our neighbors, and my husband.  When he smokes dinner for our tightknit Chicago community, people smile easier, laugh harder, and leave fuller. 

The alley cats, on the other hand, get chased away with brooms.

Kudos on a great product and source of happiness for our entire neighborhood!

Marianne Walsh


So did this bastion of barbeque respond?

With overwhelming enthusiasm they did!

Joe was thrilled over the flavored bisquettes.  I loved the apron.  I'm a messy eater.

That brings my current point total to 27.  To check out the competition, visit Andrea HERE!

Time for chicken!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

MinuteClinic, Exciting New Offer & Why I am So Very Tired

Disclosure:  I have received promotional consideration from MinuteClinic.

I am often reminded by complete strangers how truly special each and every child is. Benevolent well-wishers express this exact sentiment to me right around the time my kids are staging a coup d'├ętat at Arby's. 

Sure. Every kid is special. Yet isn't it also true that some are even more special than the rest?

Take my boys, for example. They are so gosh-darned extraordinary that they only contract the plague at 9 o'clock on Sunday mornings.

Their germs do not operate during normal business hours.

For this reason, I have come to love the hours of places like MinuteClinic more than humanly possible.  When pediatricians are closed and the ER promises a half-day wait, MinuteClinics can restore sanity and stop strep in its tracks.
Click HERE to learn more.
What many do not know is that these same wondrous folks also provide:

Just imagine how happy your school-aged children will be upon scoring life-saving vaccinations this week!

Photo recreation of how happy kids are when getting shots. 
And think of all the sports they can play once getting the medical okay to bounce off walls, fields, courts, and one another for ever and ever. 

I told the kid not to come back inside until he could maneuver like Patrick Kane. We haven't seen him in 3 days. 
Nothing gets the old heart pumping like a riveting game of tee-ball.

The boys body surf.  I read People Magazines.

Swim team!

The World Cup pales in comparison to third grade soccer action.  
Most expensive sport EVER.

I think he looks a bit like a young Toni Kukoc, no?

Best of all?  Right now, MinuteClinic is offering a FREE $22 coupon book when you visit (no purchase necessary, available while supplies last through 12/1/14.)

In reviewing all the upcoming physicals, practices, carpools, and games, it may not be a bad idea to get checked out myself.  Staying on top of one's game requires dedication, commitment, and most of all....


Which, as luck would have it, can be purchased within the adjoining space of MinuteClinic.

I feel strongly that Butterfingers and MinuteClinic might one day save the world.

Disclosure:  I have received promotional consideration from MinuteClinic. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

One Mom's Secret Affair

The following appears in the July edition of Chicago Parent magazine.

I was supposed to get it all together this school year.  With three children finally in full-day programs, I planned to join the gym, do more freelance writing, and decorate my entire home.  I would be fit with spending money.  My home would resemble a Pier 1 showroom. With hours and hours of free time, I could also volunteer, hold sick babies, and write research grants for hospitals.

Stop laughing.
Sadly, I quickly discovered that my chances of finding a cure for cancer were nil.  No baby seal would be saved on my watch.    


I napped. 

After years of rapid-fire baby production, potty training, colicky infants, pushing kids on swings, pulling kids in wagons, and wiping everything that leaked, I was exhausted.  It was as though years of adrenaline and Red Bull had finally worn off and it was now time to crash. 

And boy did I crash. 

My new routine was established.  Starting at six in the morning, I would spend the better part of two hours readying my boys for school, making lunches, hustling people out the door, and driving to various drop-off locations.  I would then arrive back at home, run the dishwasher, and start a load of laundry.

After that?
I had a standing date with my Tempur-Pedic.

Or as I called him, “Javier.”
Javier and I knew what we were doing was wrong.  Stay-at-home moms weren’t supposed to nap.  Naps put us in the same category as slackers, loafers, and members of congress.  No, we must never admit to our untowardly affair, no matter how good it felt afterwards. 

Despite the initial guilt, I cherished these naps.  Other moms would call and try to get me on-board with their crack-of-dawn fitness regimens.  Some moms suggested I needed to go back to full-time employment.  Even my husband grew suspicious when I became systematically unreachable between 8:30 am and 10 am.
 But here’s the thing.

I am not a slacker.  My three boys have extremely active and full lives that require my participation, administrative aptitude, shuttling abilities, and time.  From the moment they get home until bedtime (approximately 6 hours), it is go, go, go. 
Even serfs from the Middle Ages were granted a lunch break.

I consider motherhood to be the best job I have ever had.  Yet it took years of working in corporate America to realize that the non-stop worker bee approach is not the way to go. Worker bees inevitably become martyrs, clinging to the hope that their sacrifices will be celebrated and appreciated.  Instead of achieving job satisfaction, they become resentful and isolated.  Their co-workers avoid them and nobody ever invites them to lunch. 
I did not want to be a resentful worker bee mom. I wanted to go to Mr. Sub with my kids and have everyone happy to be there.  I did not want to spend years groaning about how everything I did was for my children, and not for me.

And that is why I nap.
That is also why you should never, ever call me between 8:30 am and 10 am.

Javier wouldn’t like it. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Contest - Week 7: Got Milk?

Remember The Contest?  Still going strong.  In fact, we may never end this baby, because c'mon.  Free Peeps dude.  This week's letter and results below.


Dear Sir/Madam,

I could seriously love Dean Dairy Products until the cows came home.

Sorry.  I can’t help myself sometimes.

But I guess that’s a moo point.

Anyway, I have three boys who devour milk by the pint, quart, and gallon. These same three boys are also cursed with a mom not exactly known for her skills in the kitchen. In fact, there have been many nights when the choice is given between eating something home-made or pouring a bowl of cereal and milk. Guess what the kids pick?  Like every time.

Which brings me back to why I love Dean Dairy Products.

As a reasonably-priced healthy staple of our daily lives, Dean milk is a godsend.  I use it in lieu of coffee creamer. It is also such a better option than sugary drinks.  It even counteracts the negative impact of salt (which I firmly believe is why I have super-low blood pressure).  Best of all?  It  comes in chocolate.

Anyway, I truly appreciate Dean Dairy Products.  Please keep up the good work and keep churning out the very best!  We promise to keep drinking it, until…you know….the cows come home.

Marianne Walsh
Now for the results.
With the rising cost of milk in the global economy, I can understand why Dean's did not respond.  These people are supporting livelihoods for crying out loud. No hard feelings, Dean. You still make me happy.
For Andrea's letter this week, visit HERE.
My total score stands at 22.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Contest - Week 6: Peeps

Oh, lawdy lawdy.

My mom is going to kill me.

But this letter for Week 6 of THE CONTEST is totally true.  Was it worth it?  Find out below!


Dear Peeps,

I wish to share a deep, dark family secret with you today.   My mom, born in 1947, is a conjoined twin of sorts.  Yet unlike your yellow packs of delicious marshmallowy goodness, my mom’s biological condition is not quite as obvious to the outside world. 

Now you might be wondering how folks could miss a lady walking around with a whole other person attached to her.  Let me explain.
My mom?  She totally has extra parts.

I suppose this medical anomaly is more accurately described as having leftover bits from a former conjoined twin.  It is not like there is a whole intact person there.  While there might have been at one point, that poor little babe never saw the light of day. 

My mom possesses several indicators revealing she began life as a multiple pregnancy.  Her heart is on the wrong side (a defect seen often in mirror twins).  Other organs are incomplete or wired wrong.  Most telling of all?

The woman has five spleens.


Which leads me back to Peeps.  It is my belief that my mom may have been one of five conjoined quintuplets. 

It’s true. 

I think she was the first Peep. 

Being a modest lady, my mother downplays her relevance to the medical and marshmallow communities.  But it is all there in clear black and white, courtesy of an undisputed x-ray taken by a lovely woman named “Janice.”

In honor of my mom, I hold a very sacred place in my heart for your company and products.  They are not only delicious, but they are also symbolic of the person who has loved me from the moment I made my first peep.

My five-spleened mom. 

Warmest Regards,

Marianne Walsh
So did Peeps respond?
C'mon.  This is me we're talking about.
Of course they did.  But I was seriously worried that these babies would be devoured before I could control myself long enough to take a picture:

Total Point Total = 22.  For my competition's letter - CLICK HERE!

She might be keeping the contest close, but Andrea is definitely one of my favorite Peeps.
Be sure to tune in next week for more inappropriate letters to corporate America!

Friday, July 4, 2014

The Contest - Week 5: Big Sexy Hair

In case you don't know what's going on, have a quick read about the impetus behind "The Contest" by clicking HERE

I decided to write a company that I shall hold in high regard until my dying breath:

Big Sexy Hair.

Don't laugh.

They changed my life.

Letter below.


Dear Big Sexy Hair, 

I have wanted big sexy hair for the better part of 40 years.  It all started in the early 1980s when the true mark of a teenage girl was how high her hair would go.  My friends were all masters, putting together gravity-defying feats of aeronautical superiority. Sadly, I quickly lagged behind.

I was a fine-haired lass whose tragic pouf fell instantly to my scalp the second I walked near a puddle.

I was a complete and total eighties failure. And I fully expected to live out the rest of my life as such.

But that was before I saw your product in the store a few months ago.

Big Sexy Hair.

Could it be?  Was there really a hairspray capable of granting my long-ago wish of some hair with a little height?  Some oopmh?  Could the big and sexy look at last be mine?

I popped open the shiny red bottle and went to work.  While I was able to achieve maximum altitude rather quickly, I knew the true test would come soon enough:

Chicago grammar school pick-ups.

As I stood in the gusty parking lot awaiting my children, I felt the wind pick up.  It was as though my epic foe was once again anxious to knock my ego and my hair down to size. 

And for the first time ever, my nemesis failed.

Big Sexy Hair lived up to the hype.

So thank you, Big Sexy Hair, for your amazing product and your understanding that even limp-haired girls need a little big and sexy now and then.


Marianne Walsh
So did Big Sexy Hair respond?
Do I care?
Because I still love me some Big Sexy Hair.
Point total stands at 17.  For Andrea's letter, visit HERE.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Pre-Season Football Package at Chicago's Essex Inn

Essex Inn sponsored this post and provided game tickets and hotel stay, however, the opinions I share in this post are my own.

In the years before stretch marks, I traveled for work. It sounded so exotic to friends, and their responses were priceless:

"You're flying to London?  As in England?  Damn.  I've never even crossed the border into Indiana."

"I'll be your minder. Can we please order room service??"

"Does your work know you can't spell PARLIAMENT?"

The thing not everyone realizes is a hotel stay for work is a lot different from a vacation stay.  One hotel's business center is the same as the next.  I never ventured out to find pools or fitness centers.  I didn't glance out a single window. I was a solitary traveler armed only with a Blackberry and a general confusion as to what exactly a "banger" was.

I ultimately regretted not lengthening these trips around weekends to enjoy the sights and sounds of the city.  How was I to know that once kids arrived, hotel stays would be as infrequent as an uninterrupted shower?

I thought I'd never know such luxury again until the nice Essex Inn people called. The Essex Inn is located steps from Millennium Park, Grant Park, and other major Chicago attractions.  They regularly put together interesting and fun deals for families, singles, and folks looking for that little extra something to do:

This time out, they had somehow peered into my life and came up with a list of things I love the most:
  • My boys
  • Chicago sports
  • Being away from all this freaking laundry
Then they put together a package.  It comes just in time to get us all pumped up for Chicago football.

Not that we need a lot of encouragement.  My oldest son has been rotating his three Bears' jerseys for three months straight.   

And did I mention there is a pool?

Photo credit:

I can finally swim in an actual hotel pool. 

The fitness center is another story.  Baby steps.

Details for these August 8th & August 14th packages include:

  • Special guest Marcus Robinson* (former Bears wide receiver) at Chicago’s Essex Inn for finger food and football talk at Essex's exclusive reception before each Pre-Season game.
  • Entrance to the special Pre-Season Reception prior to the game
  • Fan pack filled with game day goodies
  • Two tickets to a pre-season Chicago home game
  • One night’s accommodations for two people, including tax
  • Hotel valet parking for one car during your stay
  • Free pool, fitness center, sauna and Wi-Fi
  • Free shuttle to The Magnificent Mile and Museum Campus, schedule at reception
  • Don’t forget to ask about adding a second night!
Starting at $219 per person, it is the perfect mini sports vacation for that special Super-Fan.   

TO BOOK, CALL 312-542-5119
and ask for Pre-Season Pre-Game Event Package.

Every once in a while, an opportunity comes along to enjoy something I missed the first time out.  People often define those lost moments as a long-ago love or an opportunity blown.  I fully recognize my past mistakes.

So I will be looking out the windows this time.

And ordering room service.

Hope to see you there!

*Special guest appearance is not guaranteed and may be cancelled or substituted without notice.
**This package is designed for two people sharing a room. One night stay required, pre-paid at the time of booking and is non-refundable.
Essex Inn sponsored this post and provided game tickets and hotel stay, however, the opinions I share in this post are my own.