• 9/11 memorial
    Something That Could Change Your Life

    18 Years and Always Remembering

    In 2012, I started a new personal tradition for the National Day of Remembrance. I had visited the National September 11 Memorial when I was in Manhattan for BlogHer ’12, and was extremely moved by the experience (massive understatement). It occurred to me that, rather than passively watch the televised tributes and read what the rest of the internet had to say about 9/11, each year I would involve myself by actively remembering and learning about a couple of the victims of that terrible day. On September 11, 2001 Ruben S. Ornedo was heading home to Los Angeles on American Airlines Flight 77 from Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C.…

  • Field Notes
    Confessions

    I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up.

    That’s what it feels like, anyway. Two years ago and all the time in my life before that I was a complete overachiever + perfectionist + compulsive planner + lots of other things that kept my shoulders firmly planted next to my ears at all times. Some of you who have only met me recently would probably say, “Uh, you still seem a little like that?” Believe me: I have changed. While I can still make things look good, I still care about details, and I am still more organized than the average person, I don’t routinely give myself and everyone else in my immediate vicinity anxiety and/or the shakes…

  • Amazing People,  Blessings

    Precious Time

    One evening early last year our friends were over for dinner and I was telling them that I wanted to put a water feature in our backyard, in between our bedroom windows. I thought it would be nice to lie in bed and hear the water when we were able to have the windows open. My friend’s eight-year-old—who, just like his mom, loves anything having to do with landscaping (weirdos)—spoke up immediately: “I could design one for you, Melisa!” I thought it was an excellent idea and told him to start thinking about it and we’d talk more about it later. Last summer went by in a crazy blur: they…

  • Confessions,  Do I Really Want My Readers To Know This?,  Food,  Fun in Knoxville,  I've Got Mad Skillz

    The Thrill is in the Hunt.

    I used to throw themed parties all the time. My boys were raised with big birthday parties that had tons of elements that coordinated with whatever show, movie, or thing they were into that year. The ability to take a theme and run with it, usually far further than the average person would care to and what I mean by that is “until said theme is nearly dead and gasping for breath but in a good way,” is something I come by honestly: my sister and I both get it from our mom. While I have contributed ideas for themed parties in the past few years when my friends have…

  • Friends,  Fun in Knoxville,  Something That Could Change Your Life

    Friender Bender

    I love my car. Wait, let me correct that: I LOVE MY CAR, in BOLD and ALL CAPS. I’ve been driving this Buick Regal GS for five years (Day One pictured above), and you know how usually there’s a honeymoon phase with a new car but after a while your eyes start to wander in the direction of newer cars? That hasn’t happened with me and this vehicle. I mean, my Dream-Car-Since-I-Was-Sixteen is coming up next, but I’m in absolutely no hurry. That’s because this gorgeous red car is so *mwah, kisses fingers* with its sunroof, power everything, leather (and heated) seats, adaptive cruise control, heated steering wheel (just to…

  • Childhood Memories,  Confessions,  Family Fun,  Reflections on Parenting

    Photographic Evidence

    If you know me even just a little bit you are aware that when I take on a project I truly put everything into it (“go big or go home” and all that jazz). While I can annoy myself along the way, I’m rarely disappointed at the end. In fact, Jim reminded me of that just last week. I’m making a Blurb book (just for me) out of all the letters I wrote ahead of my fiftieth birthday last year and decided to add photos. The problem was going to be finding what I needed: like needles in a house-sized haystack. I was talking to Jim about stopping my hunt…

  • Confessions,  Something That Could Change Your Life

    A Body Positivity Story in Two Pieces: An Update…and a Strategy.

    You might remember that I suddenly “lost my mind” last July and started wearing bikinis (the bottoms having fuller coverage because, ahem.) rather than my normal tankinis to the neighborhood pool after not having worn bikinis since I was about six years old. If you don’t remember, let’s get you caught up. Click here, and then come back. I’ll wait. After I jumped in with both feet, so to speak, I wore the bikini tops a lot for the rest of the summer. I got used to how it felt to have less of my body covered in front of other swimmers and was very proud of myself. Still, I…

  • Am Reading,  Motivation,  Something That Could Change Your Life

    Read This: The Power of Moments

    Normally I would not devote an entire blog post to a book I have just completed. I’d write up my happy little review on GoodReads and then move on to the next one. This time is different. I just finished The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact by brothers Chip and Dan Heath. My brain is buzzing, not only because I loved the book but also because of the clarity it gave me. The Heath brothers write about creating memorable, impactful peaks in our lives and the lives of others. These peaks can be simple acts like complimenting someone on a job well done or shoveling an…

  • Amazing People,  Tough Questions

    I’m Certain Laverne Defazio Never Had to Wonder Like I Do.

    Last week we were in Milwaukee, visiting our younger son. Always on the hunt for fun activities to do with the boys when we are together, I was thrilled to find a place that offered mini bowling. Jim and Jason were up for it so we headed out. Mini bowling is played the same way as traditional bowling, but the pins are smaller and the lanes are more narrow and much shorter. The balls have no finger holes, are similar in size to small coconuts, and come in one weight (about three and a half pounds). Because of the type of balls used, it feels a lot like Skeeball when…

  • Travels

    Using the Roadside America App With Intention

    I learned about the Roadside America app from my friend Vikki almost exactly a year ago. I’ve used it sporadically; sometimes I forget that I have it and don’t think to look up roadside attractions near me until it’s too late and I’m already at my destination. Also, I can’t really use it when I’m on a solo road trip because I usually think about it when I’m driving and unable to use my phone like that, rather than when I’m stopped at a gas station. This week, however, I used the app differently. I accompanied Jim on a work trip to Cleveland and not wanting to languish in the…