Friday, December 9, 2016

My Kind of Town, For Now

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

It began around the time we scored our third red-light camera ticket in a month. A few days later, Joe and I learned our property taxes were going up 20%. A new city garbage bill ate what was left of the kids’ college fund and we started having serious conversations about the nobility of the boys opting for a trade.

Chicago was killing us. Desperate to avoid full-blown depression and an obsession with pre-selling our marketable internal organs, I started playing my own version of Julie Andrew’s “Favorite Things.” But I wasn’t singing about raindrops on roses or warm woolen mittens. Instead, it was about escaping my own hometown.

Florida in white flip flops
with red shiny sunglasses, 
Kentucky and its lakes and 
indigenous blue grasses, 
Montana’s cheap insurance 
and natural hot springs, 
these are a few of my favorite things. 
When the private school bill comes, 
when the city stickers are due, 
when they try to make cops and firemen all seem bad, 
I simply remember the places I’ll go, 
and then I don’t feel sooooooo sad. 

It is simply astonishing that I am not a billionaire writing on Broadway.

Despite growing up in the suburbs, most of my adult life has been spent as a proud resident of the city of Chicago. I’ve been a Northsider, a Gold Coaster, and a Southsider. Before I converted to White Sox Fanaticism for marriage, I bled Cubbie blue. I hold sacred my choice of favorite deep dish pizza (Pizano’s) as well as a nostalgic love for all the free parking that once existed on Lower Wacker Drive.

Growing up, my dad used to take us to Navy Pier before it became the tourist mecca it is today. Back then, it was dark and scary and there was something almost mythical about it.

When the new Comiskey (and I won't call it anything else ever) was being built, I watched and thought they were silly to put those seats so high.

I remember the snowstorm that got Jane Byrne elected, and I remember the day Harold Washington died.

I remember it all.

When I spent a year in New York, I realized how much of a Chicagoan I truly am. I was baffled when employers sent their people home from work early in “anticipation” of snow. Wusses.

I could never figure out what the big deal was over the floppy pizza and calling pop “soda.”

Men in New York got freaking manicures.

So I went home and married a fireman. With calloused hands.

For me, Chicago is like those calloused hands. It is a hard working city with more than its fair share of bumps, bruises, and scrapes. When you look into the eyes of its people, you will often find a dichotomy. There is a strong element of fight, but also an understanding that defeat comes more often than not.

And yet many continue to battle.

Not me. I’m sick of callouses. I want well-manicured nails painted bright pink with sparkles.

Even if it means crappy pizza forever.

I love you Chicago, but there’s an expiration date on our relationship. If you really care, now is your chance to woo me.

In the meantime, you can find me on Zillow.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

October Skies, October Lies

The following appeared in the October 2015 edition of Chicago Parent. I never got around to sharing it here because I was hiding under several blankets eating Ding-Dongs with a box of Kleenex.

Gentle autumn breezes and bright seasonal foliage are supposed to be relaxing. Instead, I view them as subterfuge. People who try to market fall as the perfect season are extremely suspect (or have much better prescription drugs than I do). The worst month of them all? October.

October blows.

The enormity and pressures of October have been on a steep, nerve-racking trajectory over the last several years. When I spot that first decorative scarecrow of the season, I must fight the urge to torch the sucker. The Wicked Witch of the West got a bum rap in my book. I stand with Elphaba.

This growing aversion to what was once a childhood highpoint cannot be traced to a single annoyance or repressed memory. It is rather a cornucopia of disaster, riddled with one pitfall after the next:

The Pumpkin Patch
Before I had kids, I thought a pumpkin patch was a farm you stopped at for approximately ten minutes and picked out a couple of gourds. Rookie mistake. A visit can run you several hundred dollars for entry fees, rides, food, and (if you remember), those godforsaken pumpkins.

The only thing more pressing than the cost is the burden to capture that perfect pumpkin patch moment. I once witnessed a family arriving with a professional photographer and makeup artist in tow. Sadly, my photos chronically document one kid blinking, one kid scowling, and one kid refusing to hold still.

Epic patch fail.

Growing up in Chicago, it is understood that football is practically a religion. I am well-versed in screaming things like “Kill that guy!” or “Destroy their quarterback!” But now that I have a son playing the sport? I consider all the players just wee lads in need of some mothering and neurosis.

My new chants include “Watch out for traumatic brain injury!” and “Keep the cerebral spinal fluid intact!” My husband refuses to sit next to me and the other parents try not to make eye contact. 

With my children always too tall for age-appropriate costumes, I have been forced to peruse the Sexy Nurse/Killer Zombie rack for years.

Then there is the treat issue. My boys lobby hard to hand out candy while I prefer the safer and more inclusive route of cheap trinkets. The one time I stocked up on a year’s worth of Halloween-themed yo-yos and erasers? A notice came back from the public school requesting sensitivity towards those not celebrating the holiday.

The harder I try to get this one right, the more I screw up.

Topping things off, my favorite grandfather died in October a long time ago, but I still associate the month with my first serious loss. My husband’s mother also died at 55 on Halloween, and despite never having known her, there is not a day I wish she wasn’t here.

For me, October is the taker of warmth and destroyer of sun. No, I do not love October, but my kids sure do. So I play along. For them, I will plant the scarecrow in the front lawn. I will buy paper clips as treats. I will drop a mortgage payment at the patch. I will work my hardest not to taint them.

And I will pray they fall for it.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Days of My Life

The following appears in the September edition of Chicago Parent.

A new school year.

A new set of worries.

A new set of developmental obstacles.

A new case for increasing my Xanax prescription.

Every year for the last seven, I have spent September second-guessing myself. First, there was the life-changing and soul-sucking Selective Enrollment route. The testing, waiting, deciding…it was overwhelming. Danny was fine (I bought him an ice cream cone after his exam), but I knew The Holy Grail would include a spot in one of the state’s preeminent grammar schools.

I think I locked in an ulcer during the process.

A while later, I picked up a nervous tick in choosing to send my two oldest to Catholic school. But you know. JESUS.

This year, I am leaving behind the wonderful Chicago Public School therapists and counselors who have doted on my youngest as though he was their own. They have worked with him to the point where his IEP probably wouldn’t even be re-issued if he was starting anew. He was never in better hands. Joey has been dropped off the spectrum and will now sally forth into the world with only a mild case of ADHD (or as I consider it, a mild touch of his mother’s DNA).

It will be the first time all three of my children will be attending the same school. I should be celebrating, but instead?

I’m totally verklempting.

I grew up in suburbia where there was never any doubt where kids would go for their education. Folks moved to a certain neighborhood FOR a school. There were no choices. My favorite Tab-drinking, chain-smoking moms had more time to worry about important things, like whether Marlena would finally escape the evil clutches of Stefano DiMaro.

No matter the era, geography, or pharmaceutical intervention, there will always be things to keep parents up late at night.

We worry about education. We worry about them finding friends. We worry about them finding the wrong kinds of friends. We worry about a world that is now foreign to us, steeped in social media and cyber bullying, where any slight misstep could be live-streamed on the local moms Facebook page.

My husband tells me to relax.

My mom tells me it will all be fine.

My ticks and insomnia refuse to listen.

The thing is, there is no way of knowing what decisions are more likely to result in a happy, well-rounded child. I do not have Miss Cleo’s psychic abilities. I am riding high on guts, instinct, and love.
One of my favorite times as a kid was actually watching a bit of “Days of Our Lives” with my mom. I loved the intrigue, the anguish, and the all-important cliff-hanger.

I never knew how it was going to end, but I never stopped hoping for the best.

It reminds me of parenting. Except I have not once sent a baby upstairs to nap and had him come back downstairs a gorgeous, grown-ass 20-year old man.

When I learn that trick, I will be sure to share.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

On a Brake

The following appears in the August edition of Chicago Parent. 

It might not have been the cherry-red Ferrari from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, but it was close. For a minivan mom, anyway.

It started a few months back when my well-traveled Honda Odyssey began making peculiar noises. They stubbornly persisted despite my belting out “7 Years” at full volume in accompaniment with the radio. I pretended the obnoxious grinding sound was actually coming from whatever car was next to me at red lights.

Truth is expensive.

Denial is cheap:

I think Danny’s teeth will straighten out by themselves. 

We can totally afford ice hockey. 

If something is 70% off, that’s like free, right?

With nearly 150,000 miles on our minivan, the thought of a fatal diagnosis paralyzed me. My husband, who does not normally drive the minivan, questioned me after a hockey roadtrip to Crystal Lake.

“Have you noticed your car making noise?”


“It sounds like the engine is gargling shrapnel.”

“No. I wonder what you did to it.”

With an emergency call to our mechanic, there came the frantic search for a loaner car. It took a desperate text to my friend Kathy to see if she could spare one.

Hers wasn’t just any car.

It was one of those snazzy Volkswagen Jettas. And she said yes.

The first thing I had to figure out was the key. I scratched my head in bewilderment before pressing a tiny silver button that unleashed it with a magician’s grace.

What kind of sorcery was this?

As I got behind the wheel, a different enchantment took hold. I wasn’t minivan mom.

I was JETTA lady.

Zipping in and out of traffic without a care in the world, I felt younger. When I pulled up in front of our local ice arena to unload several hockey bags (now somewhat smooshed) and related kids, I heard a deep, low whistle.

It was not for me, mind you.

Hockey people just don’t typically see sexy little Jettas.

I discovered a different level of treatment in having to valet park downtown for an appointment. There was no apology for all the empty Gatorade bottles rolling around inside. The man did not grimace upon entry.

He smiled at me.

Perhaps if my minivan truly was dead, it wouldn’t be such a bad thing?

Ironically, I forgot why I bought a Honda Odyssey.

They are like Christmas fruitcakes. They never, ever die.

So when Joe called to tell me the crunching noise was due to some issue with the emergency brake, and was fully repairable, I was a little disappointed.

I liked being Jetta Lady.

After exorcising the twin demon spirits of putrid hockey bag and pre-teen boy, I dropped off my friend’s car. I knew I was bidding farewell not only to a lifestyle that no longer fit, but a simpler, easier way of life.

The heft of my minivan and all that it entails was never more apparent than when I first slid back into my familiar seat. The smell. The empty Gatorade bottles.

And in blue ink, next to where Jack had once parked his kindergarten booster, there was written:

I luv mommie. 

In the words of Ferris Beuller, I am reminded, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

Friday, July 15, 2016

All Things Being Equal

My latest column in the July edition of Chicago Parent.

My husband hails from a family of seven children and is the fifth consecutive boy. I often tease him that nary a soul looked up when he arrived home from the hospital, baby boys being old hat and all.

I am not sure if Joe’s strongest stance on child-rearing is based on birth order or an innate sense of fairness, but he consistently argues:

“What we offer to one child, we offer to all.”

It has proven to be a maddening and expensive concept.

After my oldest son’s somewhat traumatic birth, therapists suggested he engage in activities that develop core strength. Ice skating was high on that list.

My husband peered over my shoulder as I registered Danny for Learn-to-Skate.

“You’re not doing ALL the boys?”

The righteous indignation was palpable.

I had no intention of dragging three little kids to an ice rink. At that time, lacing up just one pair of skates was daunting. We eventually compromised and agreed to hold off on little Joey until he could, you know, WALK.

A while later, we discovered my first son enjoyed chess. I located a local group and planned to send the two oldest boys. Joe again rallied around the cause of no man left behind.

“What about Joey?”

“Joey thinks chess pieces are army guys. And that they should fly.”

“Sign him up.”

I begrudgingly agreed.

Over and over, one child would express an interest and Joe would demand the whole motley crew gain exposure. I was ready to mutiny when I noticed something.

Jack, the tag-along kid for skating, developed a passion for ice hockey. Within one year, he went from the rejection of not making a house team to being promoted to a travel team. Fast as lightening, the kid now sleeps with his hockey stick and speaks with religious fervor over the happenings in the NHL.

It wasn’t supposed to happen that way.

And Joey, my bundle of energy and limited attention span, flourished under chess tutelage. In learning to consider consequences more than one step out, his grades and focus improved enormously. He also gained confidence in being one of the only second-graders proficient in a complex game.

I could not have predicted that outcome in a million years.

With a new appreciation for exposing children to a plethora of activities and sports, I sometimes get frustrated when parents insist:

“That (sport/activity) just isn’t my child’s thing.”

How can you be so sure?

For the uncoordinated child, sports offer repetitive motions and drills that rival years’ worth of physical therapy. Music lessons can actually improve balance. Martial arts and swimming have been known to help with ADHD.

Many local park districts, schools, and communities provide affordable alternatives to privately run programs.

It was never my intention to be so tired or so poor running these kids here and there. I still try to hide my disappointment when long-term interests fall to the wayside (piano, cello, swimming, soccer). I can only hope that the strong base provided will remain should a passion suddenly reignite.

I do not blame parents who think I am crazy. Yet a long time ago, before my husband and I had kids, we both agreed to offer our kids just one thing:

The entire world.

But they would still have to take out the garbage first.

Friday, July 1, 2016

The Source

The following appears in the June edition of Chicago Parent.

As a semi-practicing Catholic, I was a bit surprised by Pope Francis’ recent comments on “helicopter parenting.” In his treatise on family life, His Holiness suggested that parents who constantly keep track of their children are actually sabotaging their kids’ independence.

Perhaps if the institution had done a better job tracking its own black sheep, I’d listen.

 A little helicopter priesting would have gone a long way.

One of my favorite expressions is “Consider the source.” It is why I can’t bite my tongue when the neighborhood know-it-all tells me everything I’m doing wrong (while her son sets the dog’s tail on fire after gorging on forbidden processed foods).

Consider the source.

It is why I ignore Facebook posts and articles about not sticking up for your child when he or she is being treated poorly. These posts usually come directly from the people who run everything, dictate everything, and simply don’t want to be challenged on anything.

Consider the source. 

I do not welcome financial counsel from the bankrupt and I do not seek marriage advice from the thrice-divorced.

Consider the source.

If a friend of mine is a regular patron of Denny’s, I simply cannot take her restaurant recommendations very seriously. Her favorite entrée is Moons Over My Hammy for chrissakes.

Consider the source. 

When I had my first baby, I would listen reverently to the park mom pitching the latest theory on parenting. She seemed to know her stuff. She spoke with authority. She had cute shoes. Twelve years later, I now see her rotten kid around the neighborhood and the only word that comes to mind is “jagoff.”

No, my sources no longer include online gurus, celebrities, or moms with cute shoes.

They are instead the parents of adult children I find intelligent, warm, and accomplished. These moms and dads miraculously raised wonderful people without the aid of the internet or fad parenting.

These are the sources I consider.

So when I asked an old acquaintance how he managed to raise five of the nicest boys I have ever met, I took his comments to heart:

Love them. 

Keep them busy. 

Buy plenty of duct tape. 

The advice was both simple and breathtakingly complex. Loving them was easy. Keeping them busy now requires a matrix worthy of Stephen Hawking. And assuring our house is flush with duct tape at all times? My husband could use a third job. But the advice still guides me every day.

I would encourage every parent to find the right voice. The right source. And seriously. Load up on duct tape.

 You’re going to go through that sh*t like water.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Noise of Motherhood

As a newly minted, two-time national gold award winner for column, humor, I really feel someone needs to start coming over and doing my laundry. Bueller?

Anyway, here is my latest in Chicago Parent magazine. I am rather fond of the topic.

“My mom likes things quiet and clean,” my son Joey once announced to a good friend of mine.

“True, but how do YOU like things?” questioned a clearly amused Shannon.

“I like things LOUD AND MESSY.”

Seasoned moms advise that when a house suddenly falls quiet, it is time to worry. The kids are likely planning a coup or plotting some nefarious deed. Based on this hypothesis, I will never experience a moment’s angst with my youngest son.

He never shuts up. And my house is never, ever quiet.

Recently, Joey stood in front of a Cheesie’s food truck, debating his selections. An extremely patient employee encouraged him to take his time. Joey hemmed and hawed before revealing:

“I hate cheese.”

Undeterred, the young man attempted to steer his young patron towards several non-cheese options. Joey continued to waffle. Finally, the employee took a fresh approach and asked him what he loved most in the world. Without missing a beat, Joey replied:


During a hockey game for his brother, Joey abandoned his usual post as the leader of the younger siblings to corner one of the quiet dads. For nearly an hour, I nervously watched out of the corner of my eye. I waited for the man to either signal for help or simply walk away. He never did. I later discovered that Joey had bombarded the poor guy with random thoughts on life and its most pressing questions, including:

“Do you think it would be better to play dead when a bear attacks you, or do you think it would be safer to run away?”

I learned from the man’s wife that he had enjoyed his time with Joey, despite a lapse in grizzly bear knowledge.

Joey is not the kid you want next to you while playing hide-'n'-seek or robbing a bank. He works valiantly to keep it together during school, often writing himself reminders to stay quiet. Yet as the proud recipient of Mount St. Joey after seven hours of holding it all in, I find the explosive verbal barrage overwhelming:

“You know how cousin Gracie got a confirmation name? I want mine to be BOB. Have you seen my red sweater from kindergarten? I was keeping that for memories.”

“Remember, mom, how I threw up in school and on my book and on Mrs. Stankus’ shoes and down the hallway and she called it the ‘Oregon Trail’? It was SPECTACULAR. I wonder who cleaned my math book. Did you ever return that shirt they gave me, mom? Can I have some cake?”

“When you die, mommy, can you visit me? But don’t be a scary ghost or anything like that. Now that I think about it, you don’t really have to visit me. You can just stay in my heart. I miss Sue.”

For someone like me who prefers things “quiet and clean,” Joey has tested the very limits of my patience.

The kid also makes me laugh every day.

There will eventually come a time when Joey is not with me. He will grow up, move out, and hopefully share his enthusiasm and love of everything with the world.

Those moms who once told me to worry only when things were silent were wrong. My house will eventually fall quiet, and the unique and precious gift of Joey will be made all the more obvious.

Being his mom, to use his favorite word, has been truly spectacular.

Now who’s got cake?

Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Participation Award

The following appears in the April edition of Chicago Parent.

For many years, I have been philosophically opposed to “participation” prizes. It felt like a disservice to have kids believing that mediocrity was cause for celebration. I beamed with pride the first time my oldest son deposited his “everybody wins” ribbon directly into the trash. While I certainly wanted the boys to enjoy learning games and sports, I felt they should also understand that not everyone can be a standout.

Not everyone wins.

It is why I never threw a game of Candy Land in my life.

Things got tricky when my youngest son turned three. There was nothing Joey coveted more than his older brothers’ trophies. He would line them up in ascending height order, rearrange them by color, and then sub-categorize them by sport. Joey polished them. He talked to them. He made them his friends. It was only a matter of time before Joey began his relentless siege to secure his own. Every morning, the first words out of his mouth were:

“When will I get my trophy, mommy?”

Perhaps if Joey had been my first child, I would have engaged in intellectual conversation about winning and losing. About hard work. About striving to be the best.


I drove to Goodwill, plunked down $1.99 and bought my kid a random pillar of victory* to get him off my case. Despite this obvious lapse in judgement, I still hated meaningless trophies.

Last month, my older two boys asked to participate in a local chess tournament.I hesitated when Joey insisted he should play, too.

Joey has attention issues. The diagnosed kind. During coach-pitch baseball (where every player has the ball thrown to him until he or she hits it), Joey saw a LOT of pitches. I’m talking 58 strikes here. Butterflies distracted him. He felt the urge to wave to everyone walking through the park. When he got bored, he would plunk down, hum a tune from “Frozen” and draw smiley faces with his finger across the dusty first base.

With this in mind, I reluctantly registered all three boys for the tournament, cringing at the improbability of Joey being able to sit through 4-5 rounds of chess.

Despite these fears, I dropped the kids off with my usual directive:

Do your best.

I may have prayed, too.

Three hours later, I returned and the boys rushed over to fill me in on their evening. Danny complained about having to play eighth graders. Jack was pleased with his 2.5 points. And Joey?

The boy I didn’t consider capable of sitting through a single game lost twice and scored two draws. He played four games. TWO DRAWS. It was so much more than I ever thought possible.

Despite not landing a trophy or winning a single game, Joey received a participation medal.

The next day, he proudly packed his prize in his backpack to show his teacher. He wore it around his neck for a week. He hung it on his wall like he had seen his brothers do – a sole entry in a vast sea of emptiness.

He then asked if he could play in another tournament soon.

I once thought participation medals meant nothing.

 I could not have been more wrong.

 *If Jeni Thompson, the 1999 YMCA Sharks’ Rookie of the Year, is out there and still wants here trophy back, feel free to contact Chicago Parent.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Big Save

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

When I registered my oldest son for “instructional basketball,” I had no idea it would be a watershed moment. I envisioned youngsters learning the game from devoted volunteers sworn to uphold the tenets of equal playing time and encouragement for all.

Poor, naïve mom.

Up until that year, athletics weren’t even on Danny’s radar. Despite a newfound eagerness to play, Danny spent more time on the bench than the water boy. It was a sad reiteration of his initial fear that he just wasn’t any good at sports.

Frustrated and angry, I took my grievances to the coach. His response? “Well, has Danny even PLAYED basketball before?”

The message was undeniable. Danny had no business playing this sport. The window of opportunity had closed. If he wasn’t good by now, GO AWAY.

Danny was nine years old.

In an era saddled with ridiculous pressure to master a single sport by second grade, I have often stood in open revolt. I have been mocked for suggesting that winning is meaningless if only two kids can handle the ball by season’s end.

Yet when my middle son expressed a desire to play ice hockey, I succumbed to peer pressure. I signed up for extra camps and coaches. I upgraded the $19 stick. I downloaded YouTube videos on wrist shots.

I became part of the problem. And when a newbie goalie named Jake was assigned to the team, I was irked. Barely out of learn-to-skate, Jake had never before played travel hockey. He was tentative on the ice. I scrutinized his cherubic face and detected not a hint of killer instinct.

I wrote him off.

I became the very type of sports parent I hate. I forgot how quickly kids progress when they are allowed to play. I was only thinking of wins and not of the life lessons youth sports are meant to impart.

Game after game, Jake got better. He began stepping out of the net. He made remarkable saves. His skating improved tenfold.

Then came the all-important tournament weekend. The team fought its way to a championship game only to tie in regulation. There was an overtime. Nobody scored.


Poor Jake felt the weight of the team’s expectations and was terrified to disappoint. For a moment, I thought he was going to bolt for the nearest exit. Then I saw a coach whispering in his ear.

He told him he could do this.

Chin up, Jake skated to his spot in front of a net that must have felt enormous.

The kid delivered, blocking shots, and winning not only the game but also MVP for the entire weekend. I cried. I realized it would not have mattered if Jake had given up every goal, I would have been just as happy. By going out there, he had already won. I felt privileged to have witnessed it.

In the end, Jake made the big save not just for his team. He saved me from thinking there is a window or specific criteria for being extraordinary. He saved his mother from having a heart attack right there in the stands. And he saved us all from forgetting that these sports are about believing in the infinite potential of a child.

It is why I think every kid should play sports.

As an aside, my Danny continues to dabble in basketball and always cheers loudest for the newbie.

He understands that someone should.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

John Scott, The Chicago Wolves, and All-Stars

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a sponsored post. The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. I still only recommend products or services I use and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The indisputable hockey story of the week has been John Scott. The 6'8" enforcer of the NHL went from being bullied and shamed by an NHL representative (who wanted him to bow out of the All-Star game) to scoring two goals and being named  MVP. He was applauded, celebrated, and carried around the ice by teammates who perhaps forgot he weighs nearly 300 pounds.

The lesson to my kids?

Always play with heart. Play hard even when nobody is watching. Even if everyone on the ice is faster, more agile, or more talented. Even if you think the whole world is against you.

Play with heart and good things happen.

While not everyone may have been watching, good things happened Monday for a couple of Chicago Wolves' elder statesmen. AHL All-Stars and Wolves players Pat Cannone and Andre Benoit brought home sweet victory for the Central Division in a 4-0 rout with Cannone securing MVP honors.

Let the word go forth:

Chicago ice hockey is on fire.

They played hard and got to go to a Wolves game.
The Chicago Wolves understand the growing interest in hockey in Chicago and are strong supporters of youth development. Last year, when my son Jack was new to the sport, he was pretty much a one-trick pony.  He would bank the puck against the boards and rely on speed to get up the ice.  Jack had no stick handling abilities whatsoever. Yet the Chicago Wolves believe in just these kinds of kids and their potential to improve.  They regularly offer up the big stage for young teams to play during intermission. It is just another reason to head to a game:

With hockey becoming the "it" sport in Chicago, The Chicago Wolves Fan 4 Pack, presented by Orville Redenbacher's, is a great way to bring the whole family out for live action without having to mortgage the farm.  Starting at only $89, packs include:

Four (4) tickets
Four (4) hot dogs
Four (4) medium sodas
An order of popcorn!
Awesome hockey where attendees can obtain autographs from players after every game
Tickets available HERE

When it comes down to it, it is always more fun to cheer on the underdogs. The workers. Those who strive to be better and with enough heart, will get there.

Cheering on The Chicago Wolves, beyond just the spectacle and excitement, is part of that.

If you don't want the bundle. I've also got you covered for $5 off individual ticket purchases. Simply use the coupon code WALSH in the promo code box when ordering through Ticketmaster and get $5 off on each ticket. 

Check out a game and let me know what you think!

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a sponsored post. The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. I still only recommend products or services I use and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, January 29, 2016

More Cowbell

The following appears in the February edition of Chicago Parent, copies are almost completely gone at my local hockey rink, so be sure to find one today!

Despite being forbidden by my husband (and several school by-laws) from toting a cowbell to our
sons’ assorted competitive events, I definitely have a little bit of Christopher Walken lurking just beneath the surface.

 “I got a fever, and the only prescription is cowbell.”

In the ultra-competitive world of youth sports, the use of cowbell remains controversial. I understand that sounding off after a fifth unanswered goal may be overkill, but the urge to rattle that thin sheet of metal is strong, like the Force. Why even have a cowbell if you can’t ring it? Yoda would totally have my back.

Joe believes that unless you are a dairy farmer, no sane person should be issued a cowbell. The Force is not as strong within that one.

A local father I know was escorted out of a tiny gym after his treasured cowbell irked the wrong referee. Sure, he might have been a little trigger-happy (double dribble call against the other team = COWBELL!), but the lifetime ban from attending Catholic League Basketball still seems a bit excessive.

I begged Joe to let me bring a cowbell to a chess tournament once. I thought it would be super funny – a first time for everything! He said he would turn me into the National Chess Federation himself.

Suffering from cowbell-envy, I have instead taken to yelling the words:


After that, you can usually hear me screaming:






Joe stopped sitting next to me in the bleachers years ago. He also says I watch too many movies.

I see a certain symbolism in the cowbell that I think others miss. Originally intended as a way to locate lost cows, sport spectators never waffle on whose parent brought the cowbell. Come game day, kids are often nervous and anxious. They worry they might let their team down. They think their parents will be disappointed in them. Cowbell is a strong statement of support from a parent who will never waver in their devotion. The message is clear:

Home is nearby. And it loves you.

There aren’t many people willing to sacrifice their carefully crafted image and personal poise for another. Cowbell bearers face open disdain, mocking, and ostracization. I personally have never done the wave at a professional sporting event. I won’t paint my face for the Chicago Bears. I do have standards.

But for 6th grade basketball?

Dude. I’m making signs and crafting Danny-specific chants.

Cowbell is unconditional love. It is proud, undeniable, and obnoxious. Most importantly, it is felt deeply and without question, even when the object of that love pretends he has no idea who you are as he sprints to the locker room.

Still, I believe the world needs more cowbell.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Chicago Wolves Fan 4 Pack Presented by Orville Redenbacher

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a sponsored post. The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. I still only recommend products or services I use and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

I am a full-fledged hockey mom. It took me years to figure out the blue line and what constitutes "off-sides," but I am there.

And I am totally broke. Because ice hockey is freaking expensive.

But now I live with all these damn hockey fans who won't stop clamoring for live hockey. What do they want from me next...blood?

Which brings me to The Chicago Wolves. In the past, I have been honored to participate in a focus group for the Wolves where I beat the drum of "Yeah, the tickets are affordable, but dude...a hot dog and a coke is going to run you another $100."

And those nice Chicago Wolves people listened. Mostly because I'm loud.

The Chicago Wolves Fan 4 Pack, presented by Orville Redenbacher's is a great way to bring the whole family out for live hockey without having to sell your body to science. Starting at only $89, packs include:

Four (4) tickets
Four (4) hot dogs
Four (4) medium sodas
An order of popcorn!
Awesome hockey where attendees can obtain autographs from players after every game
Tickets available HERE

Having been to several games, the spectacle and excitement of live hockey is like nothing you've ever seen. With 21 seasons without a losing record, the Wolves are also a proud sponsor of youth hockey:

Check out the nifty patch - I was about to use duck tape until one of the mom's suggested an iron. In the past, Jack's team wasn't exactly known for their tournament victories, but under this year's Wolves' sponsorship? Totally won the Irish South Bend Cup! 

Best yet?

If you don't want the bundle. I've also got you covered for $5 off individual ticket purchases. Simply use the coupon code WALSH in the promo code box when ordering through Ticketmaster and get $5 off on each ticket.

For all my local Chicago hockey-obsessed friends, my family and I have always had an amazing time at the games. Enjoy and let me know what you think!

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a sponsored post. The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. I still only recommend products or services I use and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”