Monthly Archives: December 2009

The end of an era…….now how will I spend my time?

OMG! With the mad flurry of activity (and snow) I cannot believe that Christmas is once again behind us. Where on Earth did the hours, days and weeks go? I’m exhausted all over again just thinking about it! The list making, the traffic, the crowds, the shopping, the wrapping, the cleaning, the chopping, the cooking, the table setting, the clean up, the family photo, the Christmas cards, the expense (!)…..if there were ever a time of year for Calgon to take me away, this was it.

In the midst of the excitement of the holidays, I realized that part of my job has been irrevocably phased out, downsized, terminated. As the More is More Mom® (a crazy person that has never even permitted her children to ride the school bus, preferring to drop my pals off at school each and every morning, and pick my pals up from school each and every afternoon) I have been on practically every school field trip ever. Now, here we are, with Amanda in 8th grade, half way through our 13th, and final, year attending Our Lady of Perpetual Donations grammar school, and it dawned on me; we are closing in on the end of an era.

Our Lady of Perpetual Donations is a wonderful school that celebrates its traditions. As an obsessive-compulsive person I completely appreciate the value of rituals. As tradition dictates, each year the 8th grade class makes its pilgrimage to Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, and as a bonus has the opportunity to view the beautiful Christmas trees from around the world. Educational and festive! Never one to miss out on a day spent with the children (or anything else for that matter. I am your 2005, Our Lady of Perpetual Donations, Volunteer of the Year. That is my big claim to fame. You will see that there are no other designations after my name. I don’t think that being a member of Shopaholics Anonymous counts.). I was in my car and ready to go by 7am. What a fun day! I chaperoned a great group of boys and girls and I didn’t misplace a single soul, not even for a moment, which is quite a feat as there is usually a wanderer in every group. When we were leaving I found I had a great big giant lump in my throat as I realized that this was the last field trip I would ever attend.

I am a hoarder of all things. I love clothes and shoes, jewelry and handbags, dishes and glassware (I collect tableware in quantities of 20), table linens, serving pieces, artwork, decorative jars and boxes, urns, stationary, books, movies, music and the list goes on and on forever (I own more Rubbermaid containers, big and small, than Rubbermaid), but what I love to collect more than anything are…..friendships, memories and experiences.

When Nick was in the first grade I signed up to be a lunch mom. On my very first day, of my very first week on the job I nearly had a heart attack as I recognized the dangers of recess. With frantic hand gestures, and hysterical pleading I begged Nicholas to promise me that when he was on the playground (Read: blacktop church parking lot without a fence, on a busy street. Really now, where do all the retired elderly that can’t see over the steering wheel congregate? Church!) that he would keep his arms tight to his sides, stay in the middle of the parking lot, and never, EVER, go anywhere near a four square ball that was headed for the street! I had such heart palpitations, that I vowed I would come to school everyday to “help out” at lunchtime (meaning protect my first born).

After the first several days of this insanity my more experienced neighbor, mother of five, whose children were in fact all still alive, told me to get off the playground and that it would all be fine. Breathe, I told myself. And of course she was right. I never actually did hear of anyone dying at recess on the news. However once a week for the next eight years I did lunch room duty, with kids throwing trash in my direction as I wheeled around the garbage can when it was time to clean up after lunch, and risking life and limb as I retrieved the balls that I chased out in to traffic. As silly as it sounds these moments will always remain a highlight of the times that I was lucky enough to spend with my children.

I realize that part of my purpose as a parent is coming to a close, that my presence in Amanda’s school day is no longer needed or necessary. She is growing up. As a consolation, I happen to know that combating teenage angst is a whole new job opportunity of its own. I’m up for the challenge. On the other hand, maybe it’s time to enroll Wrigley in puppy school (or old dog school, he is nearly seven). I can supervise snack time, and recess and take him on field trips………Ah, the good old days.

1 Comment

Filed under More is More Mom

Do you know why the Grinch Stole Christmas? He was traumatized by shopping at the Abercrombie store.

It was beginning to look a lot like Christmas……. every where you go…..especially at the Abercrombie store. I am the More is More Mom®, so I totally get how it works; more crowds, more lines, more waiting, more noise, more merchandise……more fun! I was at my most favorite place in the entire world, The Mall, and I was happily making my list, and checking it twice as I approached, what is Mecca for the tweens and teens….the Abercrombie store (which is the same way I feel about a good TJ Maxx and More!). I sensed that I was getting closer, even with my head down, furiously texting messages of the utmost importance as I made my way through the throngs of busy shoppers (you know, I am a very important person), when my animal instincts made me acutely aware that I had narrowed in on my prey. Well, really it wasn’t all that difficult, because the Abercrombie store is overwhelming with its powerful, hypnotic scent, even from outside the store, and down the promenade. I am drawn inside, like a moth to a flame (or me to a double discount sale or a bottle of Pino Grigio), with the promise of what they are selling; ridiculously over priced merchandise, which is so incredibly small in scale and as paper thin as a scalloped potato, that I am required to purchase three shirts to do the job, and provide the proper coverage, of one (the need for layering is absolutely genius marketing), just so my daughter enjoys an appropriate amount of clothing to cover up her body, as you see, I am not raising a hoochie mama!

I entered the store, already under the toxic influence of the cologne that they are very clearly pumping in through the air vents like they do oxygen in Vegas (baby). I was so taken by the over powering scent that I barely noticed that I had been lured in to another dimension, that is so dark that I could scarcely see my own hand in front of my face, much less the merchandise. I know that those brilliant Abercrombie people keep the lights so dimly lit with the intention that the customers (adults) can’t possibly see the price tags; otherwise you would find them as they ran screaming from the cave like a bat out of Hell (that’s Abercrombie Hell). I felt my way through the store, as my eyes adjusted to my new surroundings, and I unearthed some items that might have been of interest to “Santa.” When I couldn’t find the size I was searching for (small, a size I have never personally worn in my entire life. It is sooooo fun to make purchases for someone else!), I decided it was my mission to hunt down some assistance. Surely, they must have had one of these drawstring waisted, jacket style, dealy-wigs in a super small size. But, alas when I finally located help between the dark, the smell and the noise (which even I found to be at an irresponsible and offensive decibel level, and I adore irresponsible and offensive), I had to tap the young man on the shoulder as he could not detect my presence through his senses of sight, hearing or smell (as I smell of Givenchy, not Abercrombie) and he greeted me with a, “Hey. What’s up?” What’s up?!? What did you think was up you dope? I would have liked some customer service……

He nodded as if he understood what I was looking for, but I couldn’t be certain. I had a feeling he was accustomed to not understanding what was said to him, but agreeing to it anyway. Ah, to be so beautiful. It seemed that he was gone for only a moment and when I asked him if he had found my items, and he replied that “someone” was looking for them upstairs in the storage room. Yeah, right. I was sure the other Abercrombie beautiful people were doing exactly what my children do when asked to look for, or do something; pretend they did it. I skulked around the store until I found the magical “employees only” door, and simply discovered that there weren’t any more small sized, drawstring waisted, jacket style, dealy-wigs in any color. Humph. I supposed it was time to make do with what I had (not that my pals needed any more clothes, but Santa must bring something!).

I gathered up my purchases and headed for the only register open in the entire store, that coincidentally only had one worker manning it. Hello Mr. Abercrombie, it was Christmas. You know, the busiest season for shopping the entire year. Well the little girl behind the counter was as cute as a button, but not too terribly efficient (I shop a lot and could certainly have taught her a thing or two that she apparently did not learn in her Abercrombie training sessions. I believe that there they learn to pout, pose and stare off in to the distance, therefore averting the gaze of customers in need of assistance). A line began to form as she picked up each item, one by one, scanned them and put them on the counter behind her. More efficiency…PLEASE. Why didn’t she scan, remove the sensor and fold each item as she had them in her hand? Seriously, I am a big believer in touching an item once, be it the groceries, the mail or the laundry. She could have sped up the process immeasurably had she been paying any attention at all, but I suppose she thought, “For minimum wage…why bother?” I’d tell you why to bother right here and now, but my opinions on a job well done will have to wait for another day.

While the little girl at the register was taking an absolute eternity to complete my transaction (15 minutes for 7 items seemed a tad excessive. We’re talking clothing here, not explosives), the line began to grow, and two more Abercrombie associates stepped behind the counter. The next woman in line behind me asked if someone could ring her up, and the new cute little girl behind that counter said that no, she couldn’t, that the first cute little girl would have to. So, efficiency expert, and irritated shopper that I was, I suggested that perhaps she could help the register girl fold, and box up my gifts. To which she replied, “No, that’s not my job.” Confused, I inquired, “Then, what is your job?” I kid you not, with a straight face, as if she actually believed the nonsense that was coming out of her mouth, she said, “I am in charge of walking around and making sure the customers are happy.” Dumbfounded, with my mouth wide open catching flies, I pointed out, “I am a customer, and I am not happy.” She looked at me as though I were speaking a foreign language and had three heads. I followed up with, “What is your name?” She answered me in such a perky manner, as if we were girlfriends talking about going to a concert, rather than a customer turning psychotic, “Keeley.” “Keeley”, I said, “may I please speak with your manager?” With out missing a beat she told me, “I am the manager.” Oh. My. God. She had to be kidding! Where were the grown ups? Seriously, what grown up in charge of anything is named Keeley? What are these Abercrombie people thinking permitting the inmates to run the asylum?

What recourse did I possibly have? I informed them, in a huff of irritation and self importance that I was going to name names and blog about them and their poor customer service on my blog page! Ha! The other grown ups in line high-fived me as I stormed off with my purchases. I sure showed them. I bought $200.00 worth of merchandise. So who’s the winner now? Oh……. I guess that would be those smart marketing people at Abercrombie. Curses! Foiled again…….

Leave a comment

Filed under More is More Mom

Today is the Feast Day of Donny Osmond, Patron Saint of Teen Idols

Today, December 9, 2009, I celebrate the birth of my beloved Donny Osmond. Perhaps to you he is just “A little bit rock n’ roll”, but to me, he is oh so much more. He represents the care free days of my childhood where I would listen to his records on our turntable for hours, doodling “I Love Donny” all over the back of the jacket covers. While others may have come and gone (Shaun Cassidy and Andy Gibb), Donny was, and will always be, my number one Teen Idol. In his honor, I am calling everyone Marie and am wearing my purple socks and a rhinestone studded jumpsuit, which looks a little strange at the grocery store, but I’m not in the least bit embarrassed to share my devotion to Donny Osmond with the world!

This has only been my second season as an avid viewer of the highly acclaimed television program Dancing With the Stars. We tuned in last season as a show of support for Olympic Gymnast Shaun Johnson, but this year was something truly special as it was a battle of the Teen Heart Throbs: Aaron Cater versus Donny Osmond. I love that cute little Aaron Carter just as much as the next gal, but come on, did he really think he stood a chance against THE Donny Osmond? Well, unless you have been living under a rock, you know that Donny reigned supreme. Was there ever really any doubt? Of course not! That Disco Ball trophy belonged to one dancer, and one dancer only: The Patron Saint of Teen Idols himself.

If I were stranded on a desert island, and could only bring five Donny songs with me to sustain me for the duration of my stay, they would have to be:
1. Yo-Yo
2. Soldier of Love
3. One Bad Apple
4. Sweet and Innocent
5. Saving the best for last….Puppy Love

But, since I am not stranded on a desert island, I am free to listen to my Donny songs at any time, day or night, because….our love affair is not a Puppy Love……….

Leave a comment

Filed under More is More Mom

I’m not completely sure, but I think I became a grown up……

Life certainly seems to be a game of hurry up and wait. I am beginning my second blog entry ever at my perch, not at the Starbucks, but at the library (where they sadly do not serve warm, foamy, overpriced beverages, just knowledge, which is sooooo bor-ing).

As the More is More Mom® I have determined that it is my duty to make the lives of my children, and our family, as complicated, and as jam packed full of “fun” as humanly possible. Today for instance, for Amanda’s learning pleasure, she is taking a prep class for the High School Placement Test, which is an exam that she will take in a few weeks (and it is so completely not obsessive that I have had her prepping for this test since the beginning of September). It may seem extreme, this exercise of planning and preparing, particularly as she is a legacy at the Be All and End All Academy where her brother, my son, is a junior, but trust me when I tell you it is oh so necessary. You see, we live in Winsome, IL….”where winning is a way of life.” How can you keep up with the Jones’s if you are not getting ahead, while you are ahead? So, here I wait for her and contemplate…….

I have just turned 42 YEARS OLD!! My God, how on Earth could this have possibly happened? If I don’t take a gander at myself in the mirror, I feel like I am still only 16 (hmmm, but I am the mother of a 17 and 14 year old…..and I don’t live in the back woods). “The Mall” continues to be one my very favorite places in the entire world; the music in my car, or on my headphones, is cranked to an obscenely high decibel level, only now instead of a cassette player I am rockin’ out to my I-Pod (one of my most prized possessions…I have over 4400 songs), and as always the telephone remains a fixture which is practically growing out of my ear (and text messaging flying like fireworks out of my fingertips……if only we would have texting when I was in High School, my already sketchy academic pursuits would have been virtually non-existent! Did you know that these schools don’t have a curriculum for shopping, hanging out at Mc Donald’s and ogling all the cute guys, particularly from the all boy’s school up the street?).

Usually on my birthday I have all of these ridiculous notions about grand gestures of love and affection, which ultimately leads to disappointment. How is it that I can be such an incredible brat? Don’t I have enough? Well, you must understand that for me there is never enough, because I always dream and fantasize about……… more!

This year however, I have had the very nicest birthday that I can ever remember, which even includes my fabulous 40th dinner and dancing celebration. I mean really, how often can you say that you had the best birthday ever when you are starting to get……old?  My knee hurts, my hands go numb while I sleep which keeps me awake half the night, I carry a variety of barrettes and pony tail holders with me at all times, tucked inside my purse and pockets, to put up my hair when I have a hot flash (which totally sucks when you are having a pretty darn good hair day) and I swear that I am getting fatter with each passing day, even though I exercise like I’m a participant on the Biggest Looser (which I have never seen, and refuse to tune in to when we are eating because I don’t want to feel guilty about how much butter we use while others are going without). But this birthday was……lovely.

I scooted out the door to take Amanda to school, and missed chatting with Nick because he was running on teenager, who gives a rat’s ass, time, meaning, he was late. As I was driving to the health club Nick called to wish me a happy birthday, which was so very sweet, but get off the phone while you are driving!  What do you think, you are your mother?

You’ll probably think I’m crazy, but, I have this theory that you will have a good day, or better yet, a successful shopping excursion, if you find a good parking spot, and today, I got good parking at the health club (I have many theories, such as, if a person with a connection to Chicago and the Cubs sings the 7th inning stretch, then the Cubs should win the game. Should. Come on Lou!). It gives me a little chuckle when I think about the contradiction of my desire to park close to the door at the health club, therefore not having to walk very far from my car, to go inside the building and exercise. Anyway, I was right about the parking. I saw my gal pals, got warm birthday wishes and hugs and kisses, and I didn’t have to wait for any of my machines. It was turning out to be a perfect day.

But what made it so special was the little things….the phone calls and emails from friends; the lovely and thoughtful presents everyone selected because they were so “me”; spending an afternoon with my mom; the tender card from Chuck and the little blue box waiting for me that held a necklace with a beautiful key pendant, which Amanda pointed out is the key to his heart; the Starbucks gift card from Amanda that she purchased herself while we were shopping with friends at 4am on Black Friday; the hot chocolate that Nick brought for me on his way home from school and the boxed set season of the Ace of Cakes (where Duff and his friends make an amazing cake that is a replica of Wrigley Field) and a gigantic Hershey’s chocolate bar (are you seeing a theme here?……….CHOCOLATE!).

Could it be that I might have officially become a grown up? It turns out that it is so totally not a cliché that people are more important than things (but believe me when I tell you that things are still very, very important). It’s just that what is sooooo amazing is the connections we make to the people in our lives…….but for every thing else, there’s Mastercard.

Leave a comment

Filed under More is More Mom

Not just another Saturday………..

My motto is, “There is always room for “more”!” That means more of everything and more of anything; from family and friends, to time, to work, to fun, to fabulous finds to life experiences. More is More and I am the one to provide it because, I am the More is More Mom®.

So, here I am, at my perch at Starbucks, while my daughter is getting her hair done at the Fabulous and Fancy Hair Salon (you are no doubt aware that maintaining the golden hue of your youth is a life long commitment, even if your life has only extended to the 8th grade thus far, and you are enjoying a few foils around your face). I am contemplating my very first blog entry……..

In essence, I am a professional mother. I’ve held this position longer than just about any, other than wife. I once had a job for two days. My friend Lisa was a totally awesome waitress at Bakers Square, so I thought, “How hard could that be?” Uh, really hard. First they wanted me to take off my signature red nail polish, and then they thought nude panty hose would be swell with the green polyester uniform and sensible shoes. Yuck! Then, these people, I think they were called customers, expected that I remember what they wanted to eat and drink and actually deliver it to them in a timely fashion. Hello !?! Did they not realize I was still getting over the tragedy of the red nail polish thing? It was then that I became more attuned to my academic pursuits and decided that taking another class that semester would be way more productive (and so much easier) than being a waitress.

Isn’t life ironic? It’s funny when I think about it now, because sometimes being a mother is not unlike being a waitress. You are on your feet all day, you wear a uniform (you know……. denim, white, black, tan and the occasional splash of color, though it is our fabulous shoes that separates us from the pack), are covered in food, work for peanuts and are constantly at the mercy of your clientele meeting the unreasonable demands of cranky customers.

Well, today began as just about every other Saturday (we are people of routine and our dog loves it!). We were up before 8. Amanda, our competitive gymnast, ate her chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast, as she does every morning. I make a batch from scratch at the beginning of the week and she warms them up every morning before school. My husband Chuck drove her to the gym and upon his return happened to notice that our sons car (and by our sons car I mean the one that we purchased for him to provide him with transportation largely for our own selfish convenience) had a not so wonderful dent in the front quarter panel. Hmmm. How and when did that happen? The last time our Nicholas drove the car was Wednesday night to hockey practice. Yes. I must admit it. We are one of those hockey families. Being a Hockey Mom is just about the first and last thing that Sarah Palin and I have in common, though I have been known to go “rogue” at TJ Maxx. Unable to wait until noon, the natural wake up time of the American teenager, we decided that we needed answers immediately!

Up the stairs and down the hall we marched, with our 94 lb Chocolate Labrador Retriever, Wrigley (named for the Friendly Confines, not the gum), in hot pursuit. Please note that I did not refer to him here as our dog, as he would be hurt and insulted. He is our hairy son, the one that did not dent the car (though on another occasion he did eat the arm rest off the door of a different car down to the metal stud, but that’s a story for another day). Nick was slightly startled as we roused him from a sound sleep with a barrage of questions about what on Earth happened to his car. Who was parked next to him at the rink we asked. Had he not noticed the dent we asked. No. No. He had no knowledge. It appeared to be a mystery, until I happened to glance at his text messages (as he is aware that I do from time to time, frequently in front of him. Monitoring his behavior is my job as his mother. It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it) and I saw that at 8:38am he received a text from his hockey friend that said, “Don’t tell anyone about the accident.” “NICHOLAS,” I screamed, as I went completely ape shit, “WHAT ACCIDENT?” Oh yeah. Now it was coming back to him. Apparently, he was driving away from hockey practice at 11 o’clock at night and pulled over in the parking lot to chat with two of his buddies. One of his pals hopped in his car because it was cold, and the other proceeded to pack his things in his parent’s car, which he was driving for the evening. This pal decided that it was time to leave and thought he could sneak out of his parking place by going up over the curb and ride a little bit on to the sidewalk, all while making a clean get away. It was not meant to be, as it would appear, when his car did not make it over the curb on his first attempt. As we understand it, he put the car in reverse and bumped in to Nick’s car. Being relatively inexperienced drivers, as Junior’s in High School, they did not seem to notice the fairly large dent in Nick’s car. Thinking all was good, no harm no foul, they merrily went on their separate ways. Mystery solved, albeit $982.40 later. The funniest thing about the whole story is that our hockey friend was not even referring to this incident in the parking lot in his text, but an accident another boy they know was in. Do they call that poetic justice? Either way, the end result is Nick getting grounded.

It was a fun morning, to say the least. Though believe me, I do realize that if this is my biggest problem (it’s not), I’m doing pretty well.
Family strife: Part Two. No one in my family is terminally ill (though two years ago Chuck completely severed his thumb from his hand and I had to pick it up, put it on ice and drive him to the emergency room, but the fabulous doctor’s were nice enough to put it back on, so again, no harm no foul, wink, wink) or unemployed, so I do enjoy a healthy dose of reality and perspective, but on the other hand; what is wrong with these people?

I think I am a fairly nice mom. I understand the plight of the teenager and their desire to fit in. I make sure my pals wear clothes and shoes that are hip and happening. If they want it, we get it. Amanda has been enjoying the benefits of getting her hair cut at the Fabulous and Fancy Hair Salon since she was a toddler, and she always looks great. I know you understand the differences between mothers and daughters. You can do whatever you want, as long as it’s what I want. That would appear to be simple enough to understand. Well, as you can imagine, someone had a problem with that. My gal is beautiful and getting older and more responsible, but I am resistant (actually dead set in my tracks) to allowing her to get side bangs. Please understand that I am not one of these controlling mothers (HA!! I am a completely controlling mother. I think they have a name for it other than crazy; helicopter parenting, because I “hover” constantly like a helicopter. I am hardly kidding when I say I will go with Nick to college, and since he won’t wake up to an alarm clock, I think he’s okay with that. Or, he can attend school downtown Chicago so my mom, his Nana, can go to his dorm room every morning and wake him up. Gosh the mornings are fun!). Amanda thinks side bangs will change her life, but I know that side bangs are a pain in the ass like nobody’s business. In order to live with side bangs, one must style their hair everyday. I’m sorry. What student athlete that trains at the gym 20 hours per week has the time, or inclination, to style their hair everyday? It is so overrated. With the side bangs, when you put your hair in a pony, you need like a thousand ugly clips to hold it in place, and what is the point if you are just going to put your hair up in a pony anyway?!?
So, recently I am looking at Amanda as she puts her hair in a clip on the side and I notice these stray hairs sticking straight out!! What ?!? If your hair is all one length, the way it is supposed to be, then why is there hair sticking out? Oh, well it appears that would be because you, the child that has not been to beauty school, HAS CUT HER OWN HAIR! I’m sorry, but those are fighting words. Now as a parent, you are of course stark raving mad, as you say the absolutely most ridiculous and stupid thing that someone might say to a person that is 13 years and 11/12ths, “You are grounded from your phone if you ever cut your hair again!”  Ah… we’re getting somewhere. She loves her phone. I was completely unaware that I had a bargaining tool. Perhaps, if I were smart instead of completely irrational, I would save that for something that really mattered someday, like boys. Not hair. It grows back.

We go to the Fabulous and Fancy Hair Salon and Amanda receives a great haircut, one that we both can live with. She looks beautiful. All is right with the world……..for now.

Leave a comment

Filed under More is More Mom