• Best Thing Ever,  Confessions,  Favorite Things,  Food,  Fun in Chicago,  Pretty Pictures

    Let Me Be Frank.

    Yesterday I wrote about how more isn’t always better and how, although I miss Chicago immensely, I really do have everything I need in Knoxville. Then we took my parents to Portillo’s for lunch today because there was NO FREAKING WAY that I was going to be in the area for two full days and not go to Portillo’s, Thanksgiving or not. I decided that the answer to the question with which I ended yesterday’s post, “Who could ask for more?” is “Me, and I’d like a Knoxville Portillo’s, please.” THEN I’ll have everything I need.  

  • Blessings,  Confessions,  Favorite Things,  Food,  Fun in Chicago,  Travels

    Abundance

    One of the things I love about coming back up north is having the ability to stick up on things I can’t get in Knoxville. Being in Kenosha for this holiday meant a mandatory trip to my favorite grocery store. Woodman’s is a Wisconsin-based chain that is employee-owned and has the largest selection of products I have ever seen, as in four whole aisles of candy, one entire corner of the store devoted to soda pop and other beverages, and an aisle the length of the entire back of the store full of every kind of chip you could ever want, just to name a few. Unlike other stores which…

  • Family Fun,  My Dad Has Mad Skillz,  Travels

    A Scene on the Road

    Like so many other families, we’re on the road today. Jim and I are headed north with my parents and sister, in the same car. Usually we take two cars when we’re all together, so this is new. My dad and sister are in the two middle seats and my mom is in the back. It’s been a relatively quiet trip so far, but after our last pit stop things amped up a little bit. And by “things”, I mean my dad. My sister is trying to read her book, mom is crocheting, and I was playing a game on my phone. (Jim, driving.) Dad suddenly got bored so he started…

  • Confessions,  Motivation

    Keep Moving

    It’s been a day (and a night: I’m running on an hour of sleep) so I decided to take the easy way out for today’s post and find a quote that speaks to me. Maybe it’ll speak to you, too. It’s from dancer Twyla Tharp: To survive, you’ve got to keep wheedling your way. You can’t just sit there and fight against odds when it’s not going to work. You have to turn a corner, dig a hole, go through a tunnel – and find a way to keep moving. Let’s keep moving, shall we?

  • I've Got Mad Skillz,  Proud Moments

    (Almost) Done.

    A couple months ago when we were talking about going to Chicago for Thanksgiving I decided it would be a good idea to get the boys’ Hanukkah gifts all set and ready to throw in the car so I wouldn’t have to ship a box basically as soon as we get home: Hanukkah is early this year! (By the way, did you read my tips for the gift-giving challenged? You should.) The other day when we returned home from Maui I was all, “THERE IS NO WAY I CAN GET THE SHOPPING DONE FOR THE BOYS.” Then yesterday, I changed my mind again. I decided to give it a shot.…

  • Best Thing Ever,  Confessions,  Favorite Things

    I’m One of Those.

    I finally switched out the clothes in my bedroom closet today, trading tank tops and Capri pants for sweatshirts and jeans. I am SO HAPPY. Don’t get me wrong; I really like summer, especially now that we have access to a pool just up the street. As much as I enjoy driving with the sunroof open though, I get a little giddy when autumn kicks in. Just a few things I love about fall: Changing trees and fallling leaves Running our fireplace Hot cocoa with whipped cream The aforementioned sweatshirts and jeans Curling up on the couch with a blanket The seat warmers in my car Chicken matzah ball soup…

  • How To,  I've Got Mad Skillz,  My Friends Have Mad Skillz

    6 Tips for the Gift-Giving Challenged

    One of my very favorite things to do in the whole wide world is give gifts to others. I’m no Martha Stewart or *insert the name of any other famous and professional creative person here* but I do take lots of pride in coming up with gift ideas that seem like perfection. We’re coming up on the holiday season and I am already seeing requests for ideas on Facebook that look something like this… “What to buy for a 13-14 year old? Anyone?” …so I think my advice might be useful to some of you out there, during the December holidays and year-round. Of course, the easy answer for that…

  • Blessings,  My Sister Has Mad Skillz,  Reflections on Parenting

    Shutterfly Kills Me on a Weekly Basis.

    Shutterfly’s masters of marketing send regular emails with subject lines that say “Your Memories from This Week *insert number here* Years Ago.” I love looking at the old pictures they send, but boy oh boy, do they ever remind me of how time flies. Take these pictures, for example. My sister snapped them thirteen years ago this week. It feels like a whole lifetime ago. I miss those little boys sometimes, but also I can hardly remember what life was like—other than BUSY—when they were that age. Additionally, I miss that dog so very much but also I can hardly remember what life was like when we had a dog…

  • Random Thoughts

    How I Roll

    We landed back in Knoxville late yesterday afternoon after 18 hours of travel and very little sleep. There was the flight from Maui to Los Angeles followed by an extra-long layover (12:15am-6:00am PT) and a flight from Los Angeles to Dallas/Fort Worth followed by an extra-short layover (we made it to the gate for our flight to Knoxville with less than ten minutes to spare), and then finally the flight home. We picked up dinner on the way home–it was 4:00pm Knoxville time but 11:00am Hawaii time, so technically it was lunch, or was it? We didn’t care: we just wanted to be able to get home and not have…

  • How To,  Travels

    First Time Going to Maui? Here Are 12 Travel Tips from a (Former) First Timer.

    Are you headed to Maui? Exciting! I’m sitting in the airport like a sad sack, on the way home from our first-but-definitely-not-our-last trip, and I thought I’d write up some suggestions for other first-timers. Hopefully you’ll find this list helpful and, even if Maui isn’t in your future right now, you can use many of these tips when heading to other destinations as well. With that, here we go, in random order: 1. Book your flights early. When we first started checking out our options many months ago, we found some that were only two flights: Knoxville to Dallas or LA, and then right to Maui. Because we waited too…