• Jims guitar
    I've Got Mad Skillz,  Jim Has Mad Skillz,  Something That Could Change Your Life,  We Are An Awesome Couple

    Middle-Aged Dogs, New Tricks

    One of the trade-offs of having grown kids who live elsewhere (Wah! I miss them!!) is that we have a lot of spare time to do…well, whatever we want. A few months ago Jim made a couple of comments about possibly wanting to learn how to play guitar, something he did as a child but only short term. I thought about buying him a guitar for his birthday and, after debating with myself about whether he was really serious about wanting to take it on, I headed to Guitar Center. I bought him a basic acoustic guitar, figuring that if he didn’t really care to learn we could just return…

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    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…

  • Copacabana
    Best Thing Ever,  Childhood Memories,  Friends,  Music,  Travels

    My Name Is Melisa and I’m a Born Again Fanilow.

    When I was a kid in the 70’s, Barry Manilow was totally my jam. He was the first artist I truly loved; I collected his record albums (real vinyl ones, kids!) and played them so much I’m surprised the needle didn’t wear the grooves down. Is that even possible? Never mind. I was a Child Fanilow. Exhibit A: When I was 7 or 8 I was taking ballet classes every week. One week, my ballet teacher announced that we had an upcoming Parents’ Night and we were each tasked with picking a song–any song of our choosing!–and choreographing a routine for that special evening. I chose Barry Manilow’s “Mandy,” and…

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    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.…

  • Motivation,  Something That Could Change Your Life,  Travels

    Travel. (Just Go, Already.)

    I’ve done a little bit of traveling this year. *giggle* Actually, I’ve done a lot of traveling this year. Almost every time I go on a trip, I get texts from friends (and comments on photos that I post on social media) about how they wish they could pick up and go like I can. I get it. I was unable to do this until just a couple of years ago. I’m in this interesting season of life right now: I’m an empty nester and, for the first time in decades, unemployed except for some freelance writing I do on occasion. I’m able to keep appointments with myself to workout…

  • Food,  Fun in Knoxville,  Travels

    Getting To Know Knoxville With East TN Tours

    I generally have a very easy time making friends. I love meeting new people and can strike up a conversation with just about anybody. That said, I was a little concerned, before we made the move from the Chicago suburbs to Knoxville, about making new friends. I have a couple of old high school friends here and several of my blogging friends hooked me up with a fantastic person who used to blog (but doesn’t anymore). Beyond that, I wondered how I’d do. The boys are grown and out of the house so I don’t have the benefit of meeting people via being a room mom or scouts. I work…

  • Friends,  I've Got Mad Skillz,  My Friends Have Mad Skillz,  Too Funny To Ignore

    Karma’s a Beach.

    I’m just finishing another fantastic week hanging with my sistuh-from-anuthuh-muthuh and the rest of my New Jersey family and, as always, there were lots of shenanigans. Some of our adventures made it onto social media and some did not, but there was one particular laugh riot that needed its own blog post. Some things I have learned about Liz over the years: 1. She is not easily grossed out 2. She can be extremely impulsive 3. She is very curious When you know those three things about her, it shouldn’t surprise you that when she is walking on the beach and comes across some foreign object in the sand that…

  • Best Thing Ever,  Blessings,  Jim Has Mad Skillz,  The House,  We Are An Awesome Couple

    The Dining Room and Other Ways We’re In Sync.

    I figured a month was long enough to have my toilet paper obsession have center stage. Actually, to be honest, I’ve been too busy even to think about blogging. It’s all good, though. I’m in the thick of LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER CHICAGO season (13 days until the show! Need tickets? Go here.), work is gearing up to Level: Crazytown (#BlogHer17 is only two months away! Need a ticket? Go here.), and Jim and I are busily working on our new house in Knoxville. The house thing? It’s been awesome. As unhappy as I was when Jim and I were hanging in that special kind of limbo that occurs when…

  • Blessings,  Family Fun,  Food,  Friends,  I've Got Mad Skillz

    10 Things That Made Me Happy This Holiday Weekend

    It’s not even Sunday yet and this long holiday weekend has been packed enough for a whole week. It’s been great, too. In fact, I’m wishing it wasn’t ending tomorrow. Anyway, we arrived home after this evening’s festivities a little late and I need to get to bed soon so I made the executive decision to write up a listicle so I can check “Write today’s blog post” off of my to-do list. Ten things that made me happy this holiday weekend? Let’s count ’em down. 1. Jim and Jason came home for the holiday, so all four of us were under the same roof, yay! 2. Thanksgiving was gloriously…

  • Friends,  Fun in Chicago,  My Friends Have Mad Skillz,  Pretty Pictures

    Cubs Day

    One more about the Cubs and then I’ll shut up about them…until next Spring. Let me tell you about Cubs Day. MY Cubs Day. After the Cubs won the World Series for the first time in 108 years, most of the city of Chicago was on a crazy baseball high. (Some of us still are.) The team even had a special day (Friday, November 4) designated as World Series Champions Chicago Cubs Day by Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner. That was the day of the parade and rally, the one whose estimated crowds of 5 million people made it the seventh largest gathering in human history. I had to work on…