Monthly Archives: January 2010

TJ Maxx, a fabulous raspberry Cole Haan hand bag and a Nobel Peace Prize……..

Do you ever feel like you have a sixth sense? I’m not talking about anything creepy like seeing dead people, but rather having an inexplicable connection to something. Like being able to read someone’s aura, or being a clairvoyant. I have a similar such gift, only it’s my connection to things. They speak to me. Again, that would be how one comes to accumulate………MORE!

One time I was wandering the aisles at TJ Maxx and More (the name just says it all!), when out of the corner of my eye, something caught my attention. Fascinated, unable to look away, I slowly, and curiously, approached this most interesting, and beautiful object. I gazed at it, took it all in, and what I saw in it was…… potential. It held no practical purpose, but often we enjoy and appreciate beauty for its own sake, not because it holds any particular function or use. We get pleasure from admiring beauty; beautiful things, beautiful artwork, beautiful people. What I saw was a striking, red, Asian bust that stood a foot and a half tall. She was proud and impressive, lovely and resplendent in her jewels. I loved her, but felt that as a practical person (HA, HA, HA), I didn’t have a “need” for her, so I forced myself to walk away. As I continued to browse through the rows, and rows, of merchandise, all with their own stories to tell, I kept thinking about that red bust. I was obsessed with her. She tormented me, and beckoned that I come back to rescue her. It seemed cruel to ignore her plea’s to be saved, and as a humanitarian, with my heart racing, I ran back to find her, wrought with worry that someone else might have taken my beautiful treasure. As I turned the corner, relieved, there she sat, waiting for……. me. I swooped her up, carefully placing her in my cart and brought her home. She has become a familiar friend and we have shared many wonderful stories together. Sometimes she sits on my Dining Room table, keeping a watchful eye over all that enter our home. She has helped me celebrate many parties as the Goddess of Volunteering and the Tiki Princess. She has a beauty that is all her own, my beautiful Buddha. Nick reminds me, “What is it with you and the Buddha’s? You know we’re catholic right?” Our love knows no bounds.

Recently, on another such excursion to TJ Maxx and More (because that really is the very best place to find MORE), I stumbled upon a treasure of another sort. I really do love everything and am an equal opportunity hoarder, which is why I obsessively shop for steals and deals. It is the thrill of the hunt, and discovering the potential of all these wonderful things that excite me so! As a total bag lady I love purses, but not just any old ordinary purse, they have to be really good. By good I am suggesting that the purse needs to be made by a fine craftsman, be an outrageous color or have fantastic hardware, or be made of animal skin. Meow…….On this particular day the sheen of a raspberry patent leather caught my attention. Upon inspection I discovered that it was a Cole Haan handbag. Bliss! These bags retail for hundreds of dollars, but I unearthed one at a bargain. Oh, happiest of days. While I certainly should be more mindful, this was an opportunity not to be missed!

Fast forward another month or so, and you’ll find that I have been cruising the aisles of yet another TJ Maxx to discover, out of the corner of my eye, my Cole Haan handbag, but this time it is sporting a new red clearance sticker! Happy days are here again! Now my good deal had been transformed from a caterpillar, to the butterfly of super, extra, bargains! Proudly I take my bag to the register and make my purchase.

I race home, dig through my messy pile of disorganized receipts, and jump for joy when I actually lay my hands on the one I need. I zipity zip back to TJ Maxx to return the first bag, only to discover that it has been over 30 days since my initial purchase and will be issued a store credit rather than what I prefer, which is a refund on my credit card. Ugh! Think. Think. Think. Savvy and experienced shopper that I am………I have a plan.

1. Race back home, snag newly reduced priced fabulous Cole Haan bag, with receipt which is less than 30 days old.
2. Return bag for refund on my credit card.
3. Purchase newly reduced/returned bag using…….store credit
4. Have an additional $60.00 store credit for More fun nonsense at TJ Maxx and More!
5. Realize if I spent as much time focusing on solving real problems as I do on silly, self imposed, made up problems, then I could find a cure for cancer (if I were a scientist) or remedy the epidemic of world-wide hunger (I am a mother that reminds her pals to eat what’s on their plates, because there are starving children in Africa, so I could totally do that) and win a Nobel Peace Prize! Take that TJ Maxx and your 30 day return policy!

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Fearless and Fourteen

As a More is More Mom® you know that I am all about more of…….. everything! The way I see it is there couldn’t possibly be an event, big or small, that doesn’t deserve to be celebrated. It is the milestones that we achieve that in large part define who we become, and these experiences are important.

Amanda and her pal CC have birthdays in the same month, and coincidentally so do her mom and I. We call it December Birthday Club, and each December just the four of us girls go out to celebrate. We may spend the day in the city, go to the movies, go shopping and naturally there is always eating (and when appropriate, cocktailing, and when is it not appropriate to cocktail other than at say, a job interview?). Well, these two have been planning on having a joint birthday bash forever, and this was the year!

These girls love Taylor Swift, and when we all saw her live in concert in the fall, as she was making her way down the center aisle, she stopped and hugged Amanda! Amanda told her, “I love you!” With the sweetest and deepest of sincerity, Taylor replied, “I love you too.” Amanda was on cloud nine, and said Taylor (you know once you’ve hugged her you can call her Taylor) smelled sooooo good that she wanted to send her a letter to find out what kind of shampoo she used. Isn’t she too cute? Anyway, the concert was to promote her Fearless album, which was awesome! My throat hurt for days afterward from all of my singing in the car on the way there, with my head out of the sunroof like I was in a limo (and of an age where you might still stick your head out of the sun roof of a limousine), at the concert, and then all the way home again. I am sure everyone in the car was tired of my singing, as I am not Taylor Swift.

It was decided that the theme of our party was going to be “Fourteen and Fearless” (in homage to Taylor Swift, I haven’t hugged her so I still have to refer to her by her formal name). We knew customized t-shirts were a must, but the afternoons and evenings are so busy that I decided that I would pick both girls up from school, bring them lunch and take them to the custom t-shirt shop, which as luck would have it is only two blocks away from school. Serendipity! The dilemma then was how exactly does one sign out two students, one of which is not even your own (but who has permission from her mother in writing, so it wasn’t like it was kidnapping or anything), at lunch time? The girls were suggesting that I say I was taking them to the orthodontist. Really? They don’t even go to the same orthodontist, and besides wouldn’t it seem suspect that they just so happened to have appointments at the same time? And why then wouldn’t CC’s mother take her if there were in fact an appointment? No. Honesty is always the best policy so when I had to supply the school with a reason for their departure I said, “Monkey Business.” They picked out darling tie-dyed t-shirts. Amanda’s was a great cherry red and CC’s was a fantastic lime green. We picked out white iron on letters and white snowflake appliqués for a little embellishment. They read: “Fourteen and Fearless” on the front, and in big numbers on the back “09” to mark the year. They were darling. You truly cannot go wrong with a good keepsake!

Eight screaming teenage girls on the upper deck of a train headed in to Chicago is the fastest way to clear a car. They ate doughnuts, they told stories, they laughed and everything was a photo-op (naturally all had cell phones and digital cameras to capture each and every moment of our adventure, and capture they did). There are pictures of girls taking pictures of other girls. Great silliness I tell you.

We walked from the train to Millennium Park in downtown Chicago……an award-winning center for art, music, architecture and landscape design, and they have an ice rink just like the one at Rockefeller Center in New York City, only better, because it is in Chicago. If you haven’t had the pleasure of visiting, you should, because it is pretty sweet. All bundled up in varying styles and shades of pink hats, gloves and scarves, we were ready to take the town by storm (fortunately not a “snow” storm).

The line to skate was so very long that we took it as yet another opportunity to snap some more great pictures. We finally got on the ice and the girls had a blast skating, and falling and ultimately doing the Chicken Dance and the Hokey Pokey. Who doesn’t love to do a mean Hokey Pokey? ME! I had both of those dances banded from our wedding and opted instead for the much more elegant conga line…Hot, Hot, Hot! When the girls had had enough (or it may have been when CC’s mom and I decided to strategize about how best to beat and avoid the crowd at the skate rental return counter) we headed down Michigan Avenue, One Magnificent Mile (though after being outdoors all day, it seemed longer), to Chicago’s Water Tower, which is a beautiful mall, with all the best shee-shee-poo-poo purveyors. Our favorite place to eat, other than Miller’s Pub on Wabash, is the Food Life at Water Tower. This place has everything! And it’s not that icky, gross, greasy fast food stuff like at an ordinary mall. No the delicacies here are extraordinary, lovely and delicious. They have comfort food, a grill, pasta, pizza, a rotisserie, stir fry, sushi, Mexican, a salad bar, a dessert bar, a juice bar and most importantly a bar, bar. Did you know that they will only permit you to purchase two glasses of wine at a time? I’m just saying. The other great part is that they give each patron a little credit card so you don’t have to worry about your bill at each counter, but at the end at check out instead. So simple. The girls ate together and continued to snap more great pics, while we enjoyed our salads (and okay, you got me, two glasses of wine….each). We were on a tight time table if we were going to fit in all of our fun and be back at the train station on time. Faster girls! Faster!

For me the highlight of our day was our walk back towards State Street (you know….that great Street). Linked arm and arm, these girls were full of Christmas cheer as they sang every Christmas Carol they could possibly remember down the street. “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” was a particular hit with our little Catholic choir girls. The passersby were in such good spirits themselves as they chimed in with the various chorus’s. We made our way to Marshall Field’s (now called Macy’s, but it just seems so wrong) to look at their legendary Christmas windows, which were not great again this year. But what was great was that we bumped in to my mom as she was bustling down the street doing her last minute Christmas errands. Hard to believe that she didn’t notice the band of merry caroler’s, especially the little blonde one yelling, “Nana”, but she didn’t. We had to accost her on the street. Once when I was in High School my friend and I cut school to go shopping at the Old Orchard shopping mall (again I am seeing a theme here of shopping, eating and cocktailing….next time I’ll make myself look better by discussing what I am reading, when I am exercising, and if I am getting enough rest, but who’d want to read about that?). My partner in crime and I were only completely conspicuous wearing green and gold cheerleading uniforms in the middle of the day, and who do you think walked right passed us? MY MOM! However, lucky for me, she didn’t happen to notice the two girls in the green and gold cheerleading uniforms shopping around in the middle of the school day. I had a quite the chuckle when here I was, 27 years later, relating this story to her, and my mom was laughing as she explained to me that she must have been playing hooky from her job while I was playing hooky from school! Apple. Tree. As the next generation of girl in our family heads to High School, I will be sure to keep my eyes peeled for Amanda while I am at Target when she is supposed to be at school!

Walking back to the train we were laughing and reminiscing about our day. After having been gone for nearly ten hours, we gave up the pretense of caring whether or not eight noisy teenage girls disturbed the other passengers on the train. Like it or lump it. There was one little surprise left for the girls when we pulled in to the station; party favors. We debated about what we could do to commemorate our day and decided upon decoupage, personalized Christmas ornaments. A few weeks prior to the party, Amanda and CC got together and made the ornaments. They printed out their names, and each individual girl’s name, and sayings from the stories of their friendships in red and green ink. They cut out winter images from wrapping paper, like snowflakes and mittens and decoupaged everything onto clear acrylic round ornaments. They used fancy paper shredding scissors to cut up more red and green wrapping paper to make crinkly paper to stuff inside the ornaments. Once the modge podge dried they tied ribbon around the top, and placed them in red and green winter themed Chinese takeout style boxes, atop a soft bed of crinkly paper. Who doesn’t love something personalized?

The girls in Amanda and CC’s group of friends were so incredibly generous that they gave them obscenely huge gifts card each as a birthday present. Even the two friends that were unable to attend contributed, which was very kind and thoughtful. During the party we realized that we would end the day with so many wonderful photographs, that we decided we would do a double sided scrap book page as a way of saying thanks for the memories and the gift of their friendship (and the obscenely huge gift cards).

We have done some really great birthday parties over the years (remind me to tell you another day about the scavenger hunt at the mall!), but what I particularly loved about this party was that the focus wasn’t about consuming something or making grand gestures. It was about making memories with good friends that will last a lifetime. Every year when we have our December Birthday Club we will remember the hours we lovingly spent together creating our crafts and celebrating these moments. It was Christmastime, and It’s a Fearless and Wonderful Life………

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Dirty laundry is like bunny rabbits….it keeps multiplying

As you know, I am the More is More Mom™, and I am a professional mother.

One of my many exciting and glamorous duties as a homemaker is of course maintaining the individual inventory of items of clothing for each member of my family. Everybody has laundry….but not like we have laundry. Much of it is my own doing.

First of all, I purchase each and every article of clothing that crosses the threshold in to our home.

Second, I am a ridiculous hoarder of all things so everyone has an insane amount of everything….underwear and socks (socks for every occasion; short sports socks, white knee socks for Amanda’s school uniform, tall tube socks for Nick for hockey, dress socks for all, and fun whimsical socks in a rainbow of colors, some with stripes, argyles, holiday themes and other fun patterns); undershirts for the boys and tanks tops for the girls; workout shirts, sweatshirts, shorts and sweat pants, baseball hats for working out (mostly Cub’s) and baseball hats to wear when you’re not all sweaty and gross (mostly Cub’s, I do like for us to show our team spirit); leotards for Amanda; a dozen Under Armor shirts for Nick for hockey; pajama’s….I love pajama’s (I mean who doesn’t like to snuggle in to a cozy pair, or fourteen pairs, of pj’s?); casual t-shirts with funny sayings……I love funny sayings such as “Your Mom Does My Homework”, “WWGD…..What Would Gretzky Do?”, my favorite “I can see your five hole” (a hockey term for between the goalies legs, but it sounds so naughty!) and “Chicago Cub’s, World Series Champion’s”, oh, wait a minute, we don’t have one that says that); numerous pairs of blue jeans, which get ironed, for each person (Chuck wears business attire by day, and my pals wear a school uniform, no real need for 4 pairs of jeans a piece); dress slacks and shorts; casual slacks and shorts; skirts and dresses for the girls, running the gambit of formality; polo shirts; dress shirts; sweaters, pullovers and cardigans; everything in every imaginable color. Don’t get me started on accessories, outerwear and footwear. Clearly with me, the lists just keep going, and going, and going, and going. I’m like the Energizer Bunny!

Third, I do all of the laundry in this house myself. I realize this is a huge mistake, but if I allowed for these people (meaning the children) to help I would wait for the rest of my life for it to get tackled and the mounds of dirty clothes would pile up to the ceiling, and then you’d have to call me out on Oprah for my hoarding issues. So you see, it really is just a matter of self preservation that I do all the laundry. It’s that, or it is just a vicious cycle of managing my over purchasing. Oh well. I suppose Freud will have to figure that out on another day.

The only thing that I ask of my people is that they bring their laundry baskets up to their bedrooms and put away their clothes. That does seem like a fairly modest request. Sometimes however even that is apparently too much to ask, so I schluck the basket, carefully balancing the neatly folded items that are piled two feet higher than the baskets rim, up the stairs, down the hall and in to their respective bedrooms. Once the baskets have been sitting on the floor for several days, rifled through because the children can’t be bothered with actually removing their clothing from the basket, opening the drawers and closet, and putting their belongings away, I go totally ape shit! On principle (ha, ha, ha…who is the one that is trained here? Much like dealing with the dog…it’s ME!), and because I need the basket back to start filling it up with the newly washed and neatly folded clothes, I empty the contents of the basket on to their beds. You see, I show them (by sorting through the basket and arranging the piles by category…not only am I a hoarder, but I am also completely OCD). Now they have to put away their clothes or they won’t be able to sleep in their beds! Or will they………

At six o’clock this morning I went to wake Sir Nichols up for school, as I do every morning (he is completely incapable of waking up to an alarm clock, so each morning starts out with yelling, swearing and near physical violence……Good Morning! Rise and Shine!). As I entered his room, I discovered that his laziness and complete disregard for any sort of neatness or order had reached a new low. It would appear that when he went to bed last night that this kid actually pulled back the covers and climbed in to bed amidst the piles of clean and neatly stacked clothing, and the empty hangers from his uniform that he had flung on to the bed as he was getting ready for school. Study guides, textbooks and spirals had fallen on to the floor. Well, at least he was studying, which is a good thing. Maybe some day he will be able to afford a live in maid…….unless he plans on keeping the one he already has by living here forever. Once again it sure looks like I taught these kids a valuable lesson….leave it for Mom.

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How much is that doggie in the window?

How much is that doggie in the window?
Well, actually, we didn’t find him in a shop window. Perhaps you can tell by just looking at his perfectly square regal head and his beautiful angelic face that Wrigley is, of course, a pure bred Chocolate Labrador Retriever. In other words, he hails from…….Wisconsin. I mean really, for a dog this special (read: NAUGHTY, but lovable) one must pay top dollar and travel five hours round trip by automobile. One of our most favorite things about him, other than his charming, winning, dear, sweet and funny personality, is his enormous block head. It is so big that people frequently mistake him for a Rottweiler. While he is my baby, I am thrilled to pieces that I didn’t actually give birth to him the old fashioned way, because that head would certainly have been a real deal breaker as it made its way through the birth canal. I have nightmares just thinking about it!

Today is Wrigley’s 7th birthday. Milk Bones and rawhide for everyone!

At the tender age of seven (49 in dog years…he’s older than both of his parents!) he is just as naughty now as he ever was when he was just a pup…..which is plenty naughty. When he was a little guy, I would always tell him that if he didn’t shape up I would take him to Chinatown where they would make Moo Shu Wrigley out of him; at nearly 100lbs that would have been some pretty good eating. Here he is just the other day after he’d swiped a ball in Nick’s room. He loooooves it, almost as much as a good belly rub (and who doesn’t love a good belly rub?), when you chase him around in circles after he steals something. Oh, he lets me know when it’s go time. The chase is on, when out of the blue, I hear an enormous thud upstairs, and then I hear him tear down the hallway. He’s got something that doesn’t belong to him, and he can’t wait for me to find out what it is! He does the same thing to our cleaning lady Janina. After he mauls her at the front door, tries to take a nibble out of her sandwich as she is eating it, he takes her cleaning supplies; rags, feather duster, toilet bowl scrubber. It’s the highlight of his week!

Like any good Lab, Wrigley’s been up to plenty of mischief during his first seven years. He once ate the arm rest off of the door of our car, down to the metal stud. Twice he has eaten a tray of brownies, which the vet’s office informed me was not a lethal dosage for an animal of his size. When I inquired what would be a lethal amount, they did not respond, and I think they may have reported me to DPFS (Department of Puppy and Family Services). Seriously, when I brought him in for his 11 week check up the doctor was running behind schedule due to an unexpected bunny rabbit emergency. When I told them I couldn’t wait any longer because I had to pick up my human children from school, they said I could leave Wrigley with them for his check up, but that he was so darn cute he might not be there when I returned. I told them, “Don’t make any promises you’re not willing to keep.” Those animal lovers are crazy! I once had to bring them a stool sample and they thought nothing of the fact that I had dog shit in my Kate Spade purse. I am quite sure Ms. Kate Spade had never intended her beautifully crafted handbags to be used to carry doggie stool samples. Wrigley was such a holy terror when he was a little pup that I cried nearly everyday for the first six months. Chuck would tell me, “If you want to, we can give him away.” Between sobs I would tell him, “Of –course- I- want-to-give-him-a-way-but-he-lives-here-now.”
He has gnawed through the telephone cord, while I was talking on the phone. He ate a Burning Bush, one branch at a time. When he didn’t die right away, I prayed that it was a slow releasing poisonous bush, which it was not. He ate all of the bark, strip by strip, off of our beautiful Crimson King Maple tree. It went in to shock and died. He ripped entire sheets of lattice off of our deck. When he would dig a hole in the back yard, and all you could see were his hind quarters, I would tell him, “Go ahead and keep digging. It’s just about deep enough to be your grave.” One time he was angry with me because I put up the gate to keep him near me in the kitchen, and just to spite me he went and took a bite out of my favorite Puma gym shoes, and brought the piece over to me and dropped it at my feet. But I think my favorite naughty Wrigley story would be when he spent the night at my parent’s house and while George slept on the couch (because Wrigley was peacefully sleeping next to my mom on George’s side of the bed, and George did not want to disturb him) Wrigley stole his teeth! My mom heard a strange clank, clank, crunch sound and made the unpleasant discovery that George’s denture plate was gone! She pried open Wrigley’s mouth, and stuck her hand inside to find that he had already dropped it on the floor. Thankfully there wasn’t any damage; they were just covered in gooey, slimy, dog slobber. Apparently Wrigley hasn’t read any of Emily Post’s etiquette advice on how to be a good houseguest.

But more than anything….Wrigley is a lover. Here he is with his very best friend Hobbs when they were just puppies. We can’t even say his name without Wrigley going berserk. We have to refer to him as the “H” man. Thank Heaven’s he doesn’t know how to spell!

He loves his Nana, my mom, in a completely bizarre and unnatural way (though you can see that she totally encourages his obsession). At the mere mention of her name the drooling, the whimpering and the pacing begins. He reverberates with excitement!

I’ve never had a dog before and had absolutely no idea the kind of love you can feel for an animal. To me Wrigley is not just a dog, he is my baby, and I love him in much the same way that I love my children. I know……..I am now one of those crazy dog people.
Wrigley represents the very best parts of our family; love, affection, a sense of adventure, loyalty, devotion, adoration and satisfaction. He plays hard and he loves hard. He enjoys everything with such complete freedom and abandon; swimming at the quarry, sticking he head out the window when we go bye-bye in the car (someone always gives him a window seat), the vigor with which he takes off for our runs in a dead sprint (nearly taking my arm out of its socket every single time), the way he flies down the stairs when he hears the garage door open, and he hesitates for just a moment at the window in our Living Room to make sure it’s us, before he meets us at the door, and the way he enjoys and appreciates a fine meal.

When we first got Wrigley he was seven weeks old, Amanda was seven years old and Nick was ten. Now look at them….. Nick is 17, Amanda is 14 (notice the side bangs) and our baby is 7 years old.

This is Wrigley, our beloved dog who has never met a stranger, and has never missed an opportunity to nudge a guest in the crotch and ask for a belly rub. This is Wrigley….this is love…….Happy Birthday!!

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