≡ Menu

Drury Lane’s “Billy Elliot”: Effing Amazing!

Hey you, Chicagoland.

Pay close attention to what you’re about to read:


Yes, I yelled.

And yes, I said “effing” in the title up there. I would have used the actual F word in honor of its major role in the musical, but this is a family-friendly blog.

Let me back up for a minute.

The fine folks at Drury Lane in Oakbrook asked me to come and check out the show, on their dime, and I jumped at the chance. I loved the movie, and just a few months ago my sister and I went to see (and loved) the London production of the musical, via Fathom Events and our local movie theater.

So I didn’t even hesitate before sending in my RSVP.

Not only did this production fail to disappoint me in any way, it also actually vaulted to the space in the very top of my “Best Shows Melisa Has Ever Seen Live” list, as in…”Wicked” territory. (ooh, and if you know anything about how much I love “Wicked”, you’ll know this is extremely sky-high praise.) I was completely blown away, and quite literally in a state of shock at how much I enjoyed it.

If you’re unfamiliar with the show, here’s a summary:

“Billy Elliot” follows a young boy as he trades in his boxing gloves for dancing shoes. In the story, which is set in a small mining town in the English countryside, a dance teacher finds a diamond in the rough when she discovers Billy, who has a passion for dance and ends up inspiring the entire community. Elton John composed the score (which is full of tremendously catchy songs). The original production won ten Tony Awards and ten Drama Desk Awards including Best Musical.

For this regional production, Artistic Director William Osetek and his team wondered, “Are Billy Elliots found or made?” They realized after searching for months that the latter was true. “The search required a young actor who brought incredible raw talent, but needed to be cultivated to stand up to the impossible task of performing the role of a young boy whose dance ability leaves one breathless.” The two boys selected for the Drury Lane production are Nicholas Dantes and Kyle Halford (Chicago natives, whoop whoop!) and they have worked for months, honing their skills in ballet, acrobatics, and tap, not to mention acting and vocal lessons.

BillyElliot at Drury Lane Theatre Company - Rhett Guter as "Older Billy" and Nicholas Dantes as "Billy" - Credit Brett Beiner - .jpg

That philosophy and the boys’ hard work paid off. Nicholas Dantes was last night’s Billy, and we were indeed left breathless by just about everything he did. He wasn’t the only talented youngster on stage, though. Every single kid in the cast impressed me immensely, from Zachary Uzarraga (who charmed everyone in the theater as “Small Boy”: MY GOD WAS HE ADORABLE) to Michael Harp (as Billy’s fearlessly expressive best friend Michael) to Peyton Shaffer (as snarky Debbie) to the rest of the ballet dancers (full of sass, all of them!). I wish I had as much talent in my pinky as those kids have.

BillyElliot at Drury Lane Theatre Company - Cast of Billy Elliot - Nicholas Dantes as "Billy" - Michael Harp as "Michael" - Credit Brett Beiner - .jpg

BillyElliot at Drury Lane Theatre Company - Susie McMonagle as "Mrs. Wilkinson" Credit Brett Beiner

The adults were no different. Susie McMonagle was brilliant as Mrs. Wilkinson, and Maureen Gallagher as Grandma was perfect casting. Ron E. Rains, who plays Billy’s dad, was amazing to watch in his transformation from a weary widow who couldn’t manage to support his son’s dancing dreams to a very proud papa who was in awe of his son’s Royal Ballet School audition.

BillyElliot at Drury Lane Theatre Company - Nicholas Dantes as "Billy" - Susie McMonagle as "Mrs. Wilkinson" - Credit Brett Beiner -

Though you may not believe it because it rarely happens, this production left me speechless. And I’m going back to see it again in a couple of weeks: THAT’S how much I enjoyed it. Once again I have to say that you don’t have to go to the city to see a top-notch show. Drury Lane in Oakbrook is right off the highway, parking is free, and every seat is excellent. Oh, and it’s AFFORDABLE.

You can catch “Billy Elliot” at Drury Lane through June 7. The performance schedule is as follows: Wednesdays at 1:30 p.m. ($45), Thursdays at 1:30 p.m. ($45) and 8:00 p.m. ($55), Fridays at 8:00 p.m. ($60), Saturdays at 5:00 p.m. ($60) and 8:30 p.m. ($60), and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. ($60) and 6:00 p.m. ($55). Student group and senior citizen pricing is available. For more information, visit the Drury Lane website.

So…maybe I’ll see you there?

Disclosure: I was given two tickets to the Drury Lane production of “Billy Elliot” with no obligation. I wrote about it because I wanted to, and all opinions are mine. Photos are courtesy of Drury Lane.

BillyElliot at Drury Lane Theatre Company - Cast of Billy Elliot - Credit Brett Beiner -

{ 1 comment }

Wait, What Day Is This Again?

And the month, please?

Well, I’m kidding about the month part. I know exactly what month it is (April), because I’m in the thick of LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER season.

I am seriously having trouble keeping track of the days, though. (I just looked; it’s Wednesday. In case you also wondered.) I just returned from a whirlwind trip to New York City (for the LTYM book launch) and New Jersey (to visit my other family) and I had all kinds of fun being completely relaxed and in a state of recharge, especially at this moment (Sunday afternoon) at this place (the beach in Seaside Heights) with my sistuh from anuthuh muthuh (Liz):

Not pictured: the goosebumps on my feet.

Not pictured: the goosebumps on my feet. Totally worth it.

Now that I’m back, I’m all “OMG I HAVE SO MUCH TO DO” but not just in a LTYM way. My house, my other job (BlogHer), my attempts at keeping my commitment to my fitness tracker…so I’m just going to drop these here:

1. I took some amazing photos on this trip (if I do say so myself), but this one, taken under the boardwalk in Atlantic City and not nearly as amazing as some of the others, won’t leave my brain:


What’s the story there? A breakup? Or was it “He loves me, he loves me not”? I feel like I really need to know and I won’t rest until I find out. Okay, I lied. But I’d love to know what went on there.

2. Speaking of something I’d love to know, I overheard two guys talking as we passed them in Manhattan. One of them said, “…and that’s the worst thing about tractors.” What IS the worst thing about tractors? I wish I had stopped and turned back to ask. Any ideas? I have no farming experience.

3. Remember my stress about my fitness tracker? Well, the one full day that Liz and I were in Atlantic City with two of her/our girls, we walked nearly 19,000 steps, way over goal. Yay us! That said, I think I only made my step goal for 2 of the 5 days I was there. Those weren’t the first times I missed my daily goal. The very first time was the week before my trip, and believe it or not, my whole world didn’t implode. Yay me! Now I have resigned myself to the fact that I am just in the middle of my busy season and I’m just going to do my best. My best is all I can do, you know? (That’s what we always told our boys, so I’m sticking with my own advice. And you should listen, too.)

4. Speaking of listening, that brings me to the show. Tracey and I have been enjoying the advantages of producing our fourth annual show: we are ticking things off the to do list and, with eighteen days to go we have no worries at all about everything getting completed. We have an amazingly talented cast, awesome sponsors, fantastic photographers and a videographer who we trust immensely, and a great venue with a superb management team. If you haven’t purchased your tickets yet, you can do so here. (If you don’t live in Chicago but know someone who does, be a dear and pass on this info, would you please?)

You want to go. Trust.

You want to go. Trust.

5. Wait, what day is this again? Never mind, I’ll look it up.


They Blinded Me With Science Humor

When I was researching my Chicago family travel book (Wait. You didn’t know I wrote this book? Huh.), I found all kinds of places around the Chicago area that my family had never experienced before. One of my (and my boys’!) very favorites was American Science & Surplus.

This is not a sponsored post, by the way.

The store contains what you would expect: science stuff and odds and ends. Lots of it is VERY odd, in fact.

You can get test tubes and bottles, but you can also get little motors and paper and maps and crime scene tape and marbles and lava lamps and frames and military stuff and literally thousands of other things that you didn’t even know you might need, lots of it older than dirt.

I used to take my boys to the West Chicago/Geneva location (on Roosevelt Road) when they were younger and give them a $5-10 spending limit. They LOVED shopping for their own stuff and would come out with a bag full of treasures that kept them busy for days and cost them, err me, very little.

I stopped in over the weekend because I was in the area (and I’m usually not!), and I had a blast walking through the aisles all by myself. I was there for nearly an hour and even found a few things to bring home with me. The best part was the fun I had reading the shelf tags, which are written by the hilarious employees there.

Forgive me, but I’m showing you eight of them. I took about twenty pictures so at least it’s not like I’m forcing you to look at my vacation slideshow but really, you should just go and see them for yourself, in person. Right after you finish this post.

"Catheter: Red rubber catheters...or really awesome drinking straws?"

“Catheter: Red rubber catheters…or really awesome drinking straws?”

"Shiny Happy Notebooks with pens of questionable quality"

“Shiny Happy Notebooks with pens of questionable quality”

"Rolling Ruler: I have no clue how this thing works but it does come with instructions, which is coolio!"

“Rolling Ruler: I have no clue how this thing works but it does come with instructions, which is coolio!”

"Bunsen Burners: Actually, you should let them cool before handling"

“Get ‘em While They’re Hot! Bunsen Burners: Actually, you should let them cool before handling”

"Make your cheap last minute gifts look better. We both know you didn't really spend any time or thought on that gift, but we can make it look like you did!"

“Make your cheap last minute gifts look better. We both know you didn’t really spend any time or thought on that gift, but we can make it look like you did!”

"My Anaconda DON'T want none unless it's double-sided permanent glue tape, son"

“My Anaconda DON’T want none unless it’s double-sided permanent glue tape, son”

"Make your own Meat! Then sell it out of the back of your windowless van!"

“Make your own Meat! Then sell it out of the back of your windowless van!”

"Hey. Bet you can't guess what this is...it's a bottle! I know, I didn't see that one coming at all. This bottle is extra special and not at all like our other bottles."

“Hey. Bet you can’t guess what this is…it’s a bottle! I know, I didn’t see that one coming at all. This bottle is extra special and not at all like our other bottles.”

American Science & Surplus has one other Chicagoland location (on Milwaukee Avenue) and there’s a store in Milwaukee (on W. Oklahoma), too!

Grab ten bucks and head over there with your kids. Or without your kids. In fact, call me. Maybe I’ll tag along!


Next Year At The Same Place!

For the last eighteen years, we have spent various Jewish holidays with a group of five other families from our temple. We all got together when our oldest kids were in the three-year-old and four-year-old preschool classes there, and it was great to have plans with friends nearly every Hanukkah, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Passover. Everyone didn’t go to every get-together, but back in those days it was nearly always a full house.

I have pictures—somewhere—of the times when the kids were around but I’m too lazy to look for them so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Those preschoolers and their siblings, thirteen kids in all, are grown up now. (The oldest just got married, in fact…yikes! I am old!) These days, we don’t get together for Hanukkah anymore, but a few of us do the High Holidays together.

And then there’s Passover.

One of the families has hosted the Passover Seder every single year (I think). Jim and I have only missed it (I think) once or twice. The quantity of table settings (and length of the table!) has grown and shrunk each year, and it’s always fun to see who is able to make it.

Passover 2012

Passover 2012

Way back in the day, my friend used a white paper table cloth and left crayons or markers out for the kids so they could quietly draw while we adults read through the Haggadah (prayer book) aloud, round-robin style. We also used store-bought Haggadot back then, which is how most people do it, I guess. At some point along the way, our hostess started adding new books and she’d tell us which book to grab and what page to read. Then she ended up photocopying her favorite elements of each book and created her own Haggadah.

Miller Family Passover Haggadah

These homemade books are such a huge part of our Seder every year. We all laugh every time we are directed to read from page four—“no, not that one! the page four that comes AFTER page seventeen!”—and we all groan when it’s our turn but we notice that we’ve landed on the part of the book that is the actual story of Passover because that’s SO MUCH READING and we all go “Nope!” when our hostess asks us if we want to sing anything other than “Dayenu”. Oh, and we all sigh a little bit when we get a book that has coloring in it from years ago.

Passover Haggadah

Passover Haggadah

I look forward to this evening every year. Sitting around the table with our hosts and whoever else happens to be attending is such a highlight of springtime, and just like in the Seder itself, things happen in a certain order:

1. I am complimented on my charoset, which I make every year. (Okay, it really IS delicious.)
2. Someone makes a comment about how Jim and I are “so young” (we’re the youngest couple, but not by much!)
3. I get to talk about social media both with someone who totally gets it (our hosts) and usually people who absolutely don’t.
4. We all laugh at the sump pump, which runs on a regular basis just beneath the dining room and sounds like it’s actually a Mack truck getting ready to come right through the house.
5. We talk about how weird it is that our kids are grown, when it was just yesterday that they were at the other end of the table.
6. When we get to the part of the Seder where we have to say “Next year in Jerusalem!” we all think, “Next year, right here!”

There are lots of Jewish traditions that my family has under our own roof, but this one, under my friend’s roof, means just as much to me.

Passover 2014

Passover 2014

If you celebrate Passover or Easter, I hope you enjoy making some wonderful memories with family and friends! Have a great weekend!


Whirlyball, Where Have You Been All My Life?

Actually, I guess it’s the other way around. Whirlyball has been a Chicago staple for years and years, right here in front of me, but for some reason–and I’ll be kicking myself over it for a long time to come–I had never tried it…until this week.

(Disclosure: the fine folks at Whirlyball invited me and some friends in for some complimentary play. I was not compensated for this post.)

Whirlyball, which is a combination of lacrosse, basketball, hockey, and bumper cars, is a fast-paced team game and SO MUCH FUN. Players are buckled into “WhirlyBugs” with a plastic scoop in hand. The idea is to get a whiffle ball through the net to score points. There are penalties, too, like for “slashing” (hitting an opponent’s scoop while trying to get the ball), picking up the ball with your hands, or directly hitting someone from behind.

The first thing you have to learn when you get ready to play Whirlyball is that WhirlyBugs are NOT bumper cars. They are much faster and more responsive than bumper cars. WhirlyBugs have 360-degree steering via a single drive wheel in front, and only one pedal (the accelerator); there is no brake.

The second thing you have to learn is how to scoop up that wiffle ball. It’s much harder than you’d think.

In fact, the whole game is harder than you think, but you’re so busy laughing and screaming that it doesn’t even matter. Wait though; let me back up for a minute.

I brought some super-fun friends with me for the experience: Tracey, Samantha, and Natasha. There may have been a little trash talking ahead of time, but it was all in the spirit of fun and friendship. Yeah. That’s it.

After lots of excited Facebook messages between the four of us and the creation of a hashtag for the event (#WhirlyGirlies), the day finally arrived. I put on my game face and left for the Whirlyball location in Lombard.

Melisa Pios

Typically the game is played with five people on each team, but it was two-on-two in our case (an ideal experience for first-timers!). We were debriefed by the manager and a couple of other employees before our referee, Steve, took us onto the court to explain the rules. That poor guy, trying to explain the rules of this potentially dangerous game to four extremely extroverted ladies who were over the top excited about being out for the evening together. Steve, who I’m sure went home that night wondering what he did at work to get the short end of the stick on the “dealing with those crazy women” thing at work, made it through just fine, and we all prepared to play. It was Samantha and me against Tracey and Natasha, and we jumped right in after taking a pre-game picture.

Picture courtesy of Samantha!

Picture courtesy of Samantha!

It’s no easy feat to steer with one hand and try to scoop up a ball with the other, all while trying to prepare yourself to get slammed into another WhirlyBug or worse, the wall. It IS, however, hilarious. Did I mention that you also have to try and hear the referee, who is in a box above the court with a microphone, reminding you of the rules while calling the game (and sometimes playfully ridiculing everyone below)?

Whirlyball Sam

I honestly can’t remember the last time I laughed (or screamed) so hard. We had an amazing time. I’m pretty sure Steve the referee had a great time too, and I know he appreciated how we yelled back at him, especially that one time I begged him to give me permission to slash Tracey (he wouldn’t). He DID, however, allow us to play one final five minute game with “street rules” (ahem no rules). He probably will not forget us anytime soon.

Whirlyball Tracey

Whirlyball also has locations in Chicago and Vernon Hills, by the way. They operate mostly under a reservation system (the Lombard location has two courts), but they’ll take walk-ins if there is space available. The cost is $15 per person per half hour, and court time can be reserved with a minimum of four people.

While at Whirlyball you can enjoy a full bar and a menu including what I would call “delicious upscale bar food”. We tried the wings and the pretzel bites with Goose Island 312 beer cheese, and they were amazing. The new menu also includes other great items like flatbreads, sandwiches, and truffle fries.

At the end of the evening we were exhausted, exhilarated, and maybe a little sore in the abs from all the laughing (and okay, twisting around to get that blasted whiffle ball). I honestly could have played for another two hours but the evening league guys arrived and we had to give up the court. We’re already talking about returning and bringing more friends with us, and I know that my kids would love it too.

But first, I have to get my voice back.

So much fun, you guys. If you live in the Chicago area, GO TRY IT.

{ 1 comment }

Netflix #StreamTeam: Reinvent Yourself!

Netflix Stream Team

I am a member of the Netflix Stream Team and will be happily sharing monthly tips and stories about how my family uses Netflix on a regular basis. (Okay, that’s an understatement. I should say CONSTANTLY. We use Netflix CONSTANTLY.) This post is sponsored by Netflix, of course!

The Netflix Stream Team Theme (ha! Stream Team Theme! So rhyme-y!) for March is “Reinvent Yourself”. I know a little bit about this, both as an adult and as a kid. Since you’re already fairly familiar with me as an adult, I’m going back further.

My name, as you may have noticed, only has one “s” in it. I always laugh when my mom explains that it’s because she wanted me to be “different”. (One of my sister’s names is spelled in an uncommon—err, different—way, too.) In fact, my mom didn’t even spell my nickname in the common way at first; rather than “M-I-S-S-Y”, she spelled it “M-I-S-S-I-E”. Missie. Although I appreciate this as an adult, I can tell you that as a kid it drove me nuts (I could never find anything personalized, and you know how important that is to a little girl!)

[click to continue…]

{ 1 comment }

Making Seventy-Seven Look Good

It’s Roxie’s eleventh birthday today and we’re celebrating!

Err, I’m celebrating.

(Jim doesn’t celebrate dog birthdays.)

Where does the time go???

Roxie beagle birthday

Roxie has accomplished so much in her eleven years (seventy-seven dog years, whew!). In addition to electrocuting herself as a puppy, actually eating a kid’s homework once, getting skunked, eating entire loaves of bread, bags of chocolate*, and part of a container of baking cocoa and living to tell about it, she has also run away for an afternoon (twice), ripped up paper money that totaled approximately $73 for all incidents, rolled in rabbit poo multiple times every summer, destroyed many stuffed animals, scared an infinite number of people with her “I haven’t really been stabbed but I sound like I’ve been stabbed” bark/bay/howl, and created and/or participated in countless other shenanigans.

I should have known, really. When I was trying to decide on which eight-week-old beagle puppy to bring home, I knew all about checking for temperament. Beagles are notoriously active and curious; ideally I would have chosen a puppy that was somewhat docile so we had a chance at a companion that knew how to be quiet and calm every now and then. The problem was, she was so darn cute that while I performed the temperament testing on her, I completely ignored the results that indicated I was bringing home a puppy who would keep things more than interesting for years to come. I remember flipping her over on her back and gently holding her down. A docile puppy would, in this situation, relax and wait for me to let her go. Roxie fought me every second until she wiggled out from under me.

It’s been like that ever since.

And it may just be because I’m feeling sentimental on her birthday (and also because it’s been more than a month since Jim and I spent ninety minutes cleaning up the mess when she vomited ALL OVER THE HOUSE after getting into a bag of Valentine’s Day treats I bought for the boys; worst dog-related carnage ever in the history of the world), but I wouldn’t change a thing.

(Except for that recent Valentine’s Day massacre.)

She may be a horrible listener with a mind of her own who cuddles with me only on her terms and pays attention to me mainly when I have food (especially a bowl of popcorn) in my hands, but I love this dog who still, more often than not, acts like a puppy. She is a great companion and has definitely kept life interesting for the last eleven years. I look forward to what she’s got in store for the next few.

As long as her plans include behaving more than not, which is unlikely because it’s Roxie we’re talking about, but there’s always hope. Maybe.

Happy birthday, Roxie. Extra treats for you today!

*chocolate is toxic for dogs: she got her mouth on it when we weren’t expecting her to be so stealthy and nimble! (I swear she must have retractable thumbs!)
{ 1 comment }

On Sad Songs That Make Me Very Happy

I was on the phone with Liz yesterday and we were talking about my upcoming visit, during which we’ll take a side trip to Atlantic City. I’ve always wanted to see it even though it’s not the same as it was in its heyday, and Liz says that it’s pretty much the only big stretch of New Jersey beach we haven’t checked out, so I’m in.

Cove Beach

Gratuitous beach picture (Cove Beach, Cape May NJ)

As we were talking, I said, “I was listening to my ‘Wanderlust’ playlist on Spotify yesterday and Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Atlantic City’ came on! I LOVE THAT SONG. It’s so beautiful!”

Then I thought for a second, and said, “Wait, well, I love it but actually I’m pretty sure the lyrics are depressing.” Indeed.

Well I got a job and tried to put my money away
But I got debts that no honest man can pay
So I drew what I had from the Central Trust
And I bought us two tickets on that Coast City bus

Everything dies baby that’s a fact
But maybe everything that dies someday comes back
Put your makeup on fix your hair up pretty and meet me tonight in Atlantic City

But that’s what I do. While I can get completely pumped up by the music of Pitbull and Bruno Mars and Fallout Boy, for some reason I get equally excited (as in happy) when a song containing sad or tragic lyrics comes on.

Years ago I told my sister that “Moby’s ‘Southside’ makes me SO HAPPY!!!”

here we are now going to the west side
weapons in hand as we go for a ride
some may come and some may stay
watching out for a sunny day
where there’s love and darkness and my sidearm

My Facebook friends are well aware that I get downright giddy when “Picture”, by Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow comes on, especially when I’m in my car and can sing along with the windows down and sunroof open:

I called you last night in the hotel
Everyone knows but they wont tell
But their half hearted smiles tell me
Somethin’ just ain’t right
I been waitin’ on you for a long time
Fuelin’ up on heartaches and cheap wine
I ain’t heard from you in 3 damn nights

Heck, it’s been going on since I was a teenager. Did you know that Eddy Grant’s “Electric Avenue” is actually about a 1981 riot in the Brixton area of London?

Now in the street, there is violence
And-and a lots of work to be done
No place to hang out our washing
And-and I can’t blame all on the sun

I LOVE THAT SONG. It’s so…bouncy! But riots.

Perhaps my favorite example? Nena’s “99 Red Balloons” and the original German language version, “99 Luftballons”, which I actually prefer (and can still keep up with most of the German when singing along). The “translated” version is slightly different but generally they’re about a bunch of children’s balloons floating over the Berlin Wall into the Soviet sector (when there were two Germanys, kids!), and when they are fired upon because the war minister can’t identify the balloons, nuclear war commences. Wheeeeee!

99 red balloons floating in the summer sky
Panic bells, it’s red alert
There’s something here from somewhere else
The war machine, it springs to life
Opens up one eager eye
Focusing it on the sky
As 99 red balloons go by.

I don’t do Karaoke, but if I did, “99 Red Balloons” would be my go-to.

So maybe my sense of Music Appreciation is a little warped because I allow myself to be carried away by the overall musicality rather than lyric analysis before I get too attached. I’m okay with it. I bet The Boss, Sheryl Crow, Kid Rock, Eddy Grant, and Nena are fine with it too.


If You Give A Melisa A Fitness Tracker…

I started wearing a fitness tracker on Sunday.

I never had plans to get one, even though approximately 7.6 out of every 10 of my friends are using them to track their daily steps.

Then Jim, who uses one himself, ordered one (the not-technically-released-yet Garmin Vivofit 2) for me.

Note: This post is not sponsored. Jim used real money to pay for my fitness tracker; I just assumed that if I didn’t mention which one I got, somebody would ask.

I adore it. I adore my husband for many reasons too but in this case it’s because he’s a genius, and here’s why: He knows that I am extremely competitive with absolutely nobody…except for myself.

Counting steps with a fitness tracker can be dang addictive.

One of the best things about a fitness tracker is that it tells you the truth, and my truth is that as much as I adore the strength and flexibility training my Dailey Method classes provide, I need to move my body more than that. (as in, IN ADDITION TO that.) Working at home means I’m on my butt for hours a day, and not moving is too easy. It’s a breeze to tell myself that I’m going to get up at regular intervals and start some laundry or walk the dog, but the tough reality is that “I just need to finish this one thing first” happens all the time.

This tool is exactly what I need, even though I’ve driven myself nuts for five days now. Wearing a fitness tracker that generates a daily goal for steps can make someone like me do crazy things to get the steps in. CRAZY.

Crazy like:

~ Leaving my Dailey Method class on foot and walking to downtown Naperville and back.

Downtown Naperville

~ Doing laps around my house while on conference calls.

~ Dancing and side-stepping while doing tasks I used to stand still for, like brushing my teeth and peeling oranges and folding laundry.

~ Making myself use the upstairs bathroom even though there is a suitable bathroom just twelve feet from where I’m working in the family room.

~ Intentionally parking much farther away from doors than I need to.

I really should have parked farther away than this; fifty more steps would have been awesome.

I really should have parked farther away; fifty more steps would have been awesome.

~ Struggling to push the shopping cart with one hand so I can swing arm that has the fitness tracker on it, because otherwise I won’t get credit for those steps.

~ Walking to the end of the driveway to check for mail even though I’m pretty sure that J already brought it into the house.

~ Pacing in the shower. Yes, it is possible and yes, I TOLD YOU I’M DOING CRAZY STUFF.

It’s incredible how much brain power I have devoted to making myself move this week.

Then again, isn’t that the point when we’re talking about health and fitness? Being intentional about my actions is one of the best gifts of self-care I could ever provide for myself. Does it take time? Gosh, yes. Do I have the time? No…and yes. I’ve always made time for what’s important, and this is important. Besides, I’ve gotten some great fresh air this week, I’ve enjoyed the scenery around me, and I’ve felt extremely victorious each day when I blow through my goal for steps, kind of like this (Source):

I’m not setting any firm long-term goals right now. At the moment I’m happy with obsessing over hitting my daily targets and I know that my general health and well-being will improve just by doing what I’m doing.

And now it’s time to end this post so I can get moving again. I think I left my cup of tea down by the mailbox.


Donna Day: Raising $$$ For Pediatric Cancer Research

Sweet Donna

Sweet Donna

Today is the 4th annual Donna Day and I am joining a huge group of bloggers in promoting a special event meant to raise money for pediatric cancer research.

Donna Day is named for the daughter of my friend (and 2013 LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER CHICAGO cast member) Sheila Quirke, who blogs under the name Mary Tyler Mom. Sheila and her husband Jeremy, who also have two young sons, lost their beloved Donna in 2009. Donna’s Cancer Story is documented in a series of thirty-two posts that Sheila wrote. Their story is hard to read but I think it’s so important to read.

No family should have to go through what they did but actually, lots of families are going through it. Before they turn 20, 1 in 285 children in the United States will have cancer, and worldwide a child is diagnosed every three minutes (source).

Sheila isn’t the only member of the LTYM Chicago family who knows a lot about pediatric cancer firsthand; unfortunately in January of this year (just seven short weeks ago!) we all found out that another 2013 cast member is having to learn about it, too. Sarah Z’s young daughter was diagnosed and is currently going through treatment. I can’t imagine how hard all of this must be to deal with, but Sarah and her husband are doing it with grace we are all just totally pulling for them and the complete recovery of their daughter.

Sarah is raising funds for St. Baldrick’s Foundation by participating in this year’s Donna’s Good Things head shaving event to benefit pediatric cancer research at the Candelite in Chicago on March 28 from 2:00-4:00, as is Charlie S., the six-year-old son of another LTYM Chicago 2013 cast member, Samantha. (What a great kid!) I’m excited that this year I will finally be able to attend and support my friends. It’s going to be a fun day.

Donna Day Candlelite

The Donna’s Good Things team has raised more than $280,000 for St. Baldricks in three years: would you help add to that total? Any donation, no matter how small, can help them reach their goal. You all know that a lot of little things add up, so if you have five dollars to spare, please consider clicking over to the team page and click the green “Donate” button. If you want to go the extra mile and get your head shaved as part of “Donna’s Good Things”, you can sign up there, too.

With your help, whether it’s becoming a shavee, donating money, or even just sharing this post, pediatric cancer awareness and research will get a boost. Thank you so much.

P.S. You can “like” Donna’s Good Things on Facebook here, if you want to stay posted on all of those good things!