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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 one spouse is states away working while the other one stays behind to sell a house, I’m the other-end-of-the-spectrum happy now that we’re back together and setting up this house that we feel so lucky to have nabbed, in exactly the way we want it.

Your mountain is waiting dining room detail

Metal sign by Jimmy Don, repurposed tin container that used to hang on my porch, and wood flowers (with scent!) from HomeGoods.

One of my favorite things is how in sync we are regarding how we’re decorating. The colors, the furniture, the decorations, we’re almost completely on the same page, all the time.

It hasn’t always been this easy. Jim is color blind and he literally does not see things the way I do. I’m a control freak and I don’t always want to see things the way he does. I still remember when, right before we moved into our last house at the end of 2000, we went shopping for a couch and he was extremely insistent on this huge, overstuffed, cream-colored piece. I liked the style but wanted a gray one because it wouldn’t show as much dirt: we had two young boys and a dog. The idea of a cream-colored couch made me feel a little ill. It was for our living room though, not the family room where we would be spending most of our time, and I ended up giving in. It was FINE, by the way.

In that house I’m certain there were things we each wanted to do with the decor that the other just nodded about because it was easier, and it didn’t matter much in the grand scheme.

Here, it’s different for some reason. We intentionally picked out a cream-colored couch together, for the main living room, which we decided would have a theme I’m calling “Comfy Industrial”. When we were selecting a living room rug, we both loved the same one. Patio furniture? We both pointed at the same set upon walking into Lowe’s. I’m creating a Chicago-themed office and a beach-themed guest room, but the living room has bicycle accents in it, for him. Dare I say it’s a little romantic?

On the rare occasions when we disagree on a design strategy, we dump it entirely. We each liked a different TV cabinet so we looked for a third one that we both liked so much more. When I asked him what he thought about hanging a metal threesome of hearts in the dining room and he said “I’m not feeling it,” I said, “Okay!” and put them aside.

Speaking of the dining room, while he cursed Joanna Gaines up and down while he installed the orb light she inspired me to purchase, he’s super happy with how the room turned out. (I am, too!) It’s a great space and for two people who have mostly eaten meals on the couch for years but now have a cream-colored couch AND a lovely dining room, it sure is a peaceful place to spend time together, eating and talking.

Dining room

I call this the Magnolia room. Two more chairs will be arriving next week.

My office and that guest room are upstairs and therefore further down on the list, but as we get the main floor living spaces closer to complete I get a sense of not ever wanting to leave this house because I love it so much.

Come visit!

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There Are Worse Things To Obsess Over.

I have an odd obsession: toilet paper.

My preoccupation doesn’t have anything to do with a particular type of toilet paper or even having a firm stance on whether it should roll over or under. I’m obsessed with having enough in the house.

Weird, I know.

I have worried about it for as long as I can remember, and I was never able to figure out why until I came up with a theory a while back. More on that in a minute.

I get extremely nervous when the stash in the house goes down to single digits: heart palpitations and all.

What if someone has a bathroom crisis and we run out before I can get to the store? THE HORROR. That cannot happen.

Jim and I do not shop at those huge warehouse clubs because we don’t need that much stuff at once and also don’t enjoy storing all of those random bulk purchases, but I will admit that I have often kept a toilet paper inventory on hand that is more than enough for a small army.

toilet paper

The toilet paper drawer in my old house, missing about five rolls but don’t worry: they were in the closet with another twenty or so.

I will admit that I have taken toilet paper with me on cruise ships. You never know if the room steward will get to you if you’re down to that last roll and a half, you know?

I will admit that I, when staying at a hotel, hide a partial roll of toilet paper in one of the dresser drawers in the morning. Then I put the brand new roll in the holder so the housekeeper sees that there is no extra roll on the shelf and knows that she needs to leave one. MY NAME IS MELISA AND I’M A TOILET PAPER HOARDER, but there are worse things.

When I prepare to go and stay with friends for a few days, sometimes they say something like, “I haven’t had time to clean. Ugh.”

I get it. People are busy! We’re all busy.

I don’t base my feelings for others on whether they make their house spotless before I arrive. Real friends can hang out in your house when it’s at its most lived-in state, you know? My response is always, always, always the same: “You know I don’t care if you’ve cleaned the house. As long as you have toilet paper!”

My closest friends know this about me and I’m absolutely certain they think I’m charming, and possibly adorable.

The last time I went to visit Liz, she gave me the best gift.

toilet paper

I laughed so hard when I saw it but also may have teared up a little bit because she gets me.

I have a couple of friends with the same obsession, by the way. You know who you are. Also, it just goes to show you that no matter what your mental issue is, you’re not alone.

I was talking to my friend Vikki a few months ago and we were trying to analyze this. I told her, “It really bugs me that I can’t figure out why I have this ‘thing’. I mean, normally you’d trace it back to something that happened in childhood but I’ve got nothing. I’ve thought about it for years.”

And then suddenly, like a lightning bolt, I remembered.

You know how, sometimes when you go to use a public restroom, it’s either been very busy or the cleaning crew isn’t staying on top of supplies and there’s no toilet paper to be found? I have childhood memories of that kind of scenario and since I was a slightly prissy little girl, I whined to my mom about the lack of toilet paper and what in the world was I supposed to do. Her answer was a completely normal mom-response when there’s really nothing else to do and you have to act drastically just to get your kid to be quiet and LET’S GET OUT OF HERE, OKAYYYYY?

“You’ll just have to ‘drip dry’ for a minute.”

Looking back as an adult woman and a mom myself, I know full well that my mom saying that was totally FINE. My little girl self was horrified by that idea because ewwwwwww but that was my problem, not hers. What else were we supposed to do, wait there for an undetermined amount of time for someone to show up with toilet paper? Sure, Princess.

Anyway, after I told Vikki about that we had a “Whoomp, there it is!” kind of virtual high-fiving moment and I felt the special kind of relief that comes when you analyze something to death and finally self-diagnose. Naturally I cannot prove that those toilet paperless moments in the public restrooms of the 1970s are the root cause of my obsession but I’m pretty sure they are and I think celebrity psychologist Dr. Phil would agree. You can’t butter a puppy and call it a biscuit, after all. (I don’t really think that applies in this situation but it’s my very favorite Dr. Phil quote so I included it.)

Shew, I have to say I’m pretty happy to have finally gotten that out in the open. The more you know, you know? That reminds me, I need to pick up some toilet paper today: I’ve only got about eight rolls left.

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The First Four Days

As of this evening, I’ve been in Knoxville for four full days.

It’s been eleven days since this happened,

Moving truck

and right after that Jim and I went to Phoenix where he was speaking at a conference and I had grand plans to spend half of my time relaxing by the pool with a book and the other half of my time working by the pool. Mother Nature had other plans, bringing clouds and wind and rain for about 85% of our visit. THANKS Mother Nature, NOT. Still got some good pictures, though.

Phoenix palm trees

Upon landing back at O’Hare after a two and a half hour flight delay I hit the ground running (okay, driving) in the sleet that greeted me (thanks AGAIN, Mother Nature) finishing up the last of my errands in the area and having a great dinner with my boys before getting some shut eye in a hotel and getting on the road for Knoxville the next morning.

Bye Chicago

Anyway. I’ve been here four days and I’ve taken two pictures with intention to share (the others being pictures of prospective furniture pieces we’re considering for the new house). One was of a billboard advertising the “romatic” (sic) adult toys one could purchase at a certain store because I thought the error was a little hysterical. I have since deleted it after nearly sharing it on Instagram and then stopping myself because did I really want that in my Instagram stream? (No.)

The other picture I have from the last four days is of our new house. We’re closing on Friday and it’s getting exciting all up in here.

Knoxville house

I miss my Chicago friends dearly, but in these first four days I’m actually…fine. (I reserve the right to become terribly homesick in the future.) It’s obviously incredible to be back under the same roof with Jim. It feels like a huge relief to be getting back into a semi-regular routine, and the errands I’ve been running here don’t feel as much like ihavetodothistogetitcheckedoffmylistandohmygoshiamsobusy. They feel like real life. It feels great to be approaching real life again.

Also? Mother Nature has been giving us the high sixties, so I guess that chick isn’t quite the jerk I thought she was last week. Bygones.

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I Just Keep Moving Because I’m Moving.

moving sold

Strange times around here lately, as you know.

As things go when you have an impending move, time seems to speed up as it passes and all of a sudden it’s as if there are literally a million things that have to be done in what seems like an extremely short amount of time. We have movers coming to pack our belongings so that’s a relief, but moving to another state is a huge endeavor even without that element, made more difficult (and exponentially complicated) with each extra year of being planted in the same place. It seems like I remember six new things every day that need to be closed out in preparation of leaving.

These days especially, my loose ends have loose ends, and it feels odd to be exploring this at all because on any given day my loose ends have loose ends. This, however, is intense. I’m taking care of medical appointments (doctor, dentist, mammogram), taking my car in for regular maintenance (since, conveniently, my oil needs to be changed like NOW), finishing up my final workouts at The Dailey Method, and working in a couple of get-togethers with friends on top of getting ready to move Dylan out (before our movers come) and packing up what I’ll need for the month our stuff will be in storage, LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER CHICAGO auditions (this weekend), some freelance writing, oh, and WORK.

To add insult to injury, I’m on the tail end (I hope!) of a horrible cold that has left me raspy and hoarse for nearly two weeks now. I know that getting more rest would likely speed up my recovery but, well, I have to keep moving because I’m moving.

Also? Emotions. The final stage of preparing to move has left me feeling like I am perpetually hormonal. I already detailed the internal struggles I’m having in my last post, but this week as I’m preparing to move my house buddy (Dylan) out, I’m sad. We’ve developed our little routines in the last six months of being just the two of us in this house, and I’m going to miss that. That said, I will always treasure this extra time I had alone with him; it’s been a joy. As I mentioned in my last post, leaving my (grown) kids feels weird and I’m not sure how to process that yet.

Moving around in my house I keep hitting mental snags. I repeatedly go into the living room to sit on the couch when I’m on the phone with Liz or feeling like I need to work somewhere besides in the family room, and it’s only when I get there that I am reminded we got rid of that couch and chair last week and there’s no place to sit. A cement patch on the back patio has the boys’ names written in it, along with their handprints. Obviously that has to stay here, a relic of “the former homeowners”. I look at the area rug in the living room and remember, when I see the little stains on it from when Roxie crunched on a whole bag of candy canes there, that this Sunday marks a year since her death and it seems to have crawled and sped by at the same time. It would have been a terribly hard year for her, with all the travel I’ve had to do, but man do I miss her. The timing of this move feels a little more cruel this week, with that milestone looming.

All of this will pass, of course. Change and moving and death and emotions are all a part of life. Right now when it seems like I have a thousand balls in the air and I just keep moving without any down time, I remind myself that I’m handling it, not always gracefully but I’m handling it. Eventually this will all be a memory, and when I’ve got both feet permanently in just one state again I will feel proud to have done the best I could at any given moment, even when my best felt substandard, through it all.

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You Can Take the Girl Out of Chicago…

It’s finally time to write about what’s going on around here.

I’m leaving the Chicago area.

I say “I” because Jim has been gone for nearly six months, and the boys are sticking around here: one in the western suburbs and the other just over the Wisconsin border (Kenosha County is considered part of Chicagoland).

This past year has been the most stressful one of my life. We’ve dealt with Roxie’s death (that anniversary is coming up in a couple of weeks), Jim leaving one job and taking on a new one four states away, his bike accident, my staying behind to sell this house so I can permanently join him, and some things I don’t ever blog about so I cannot mention them now.

It doesn’t look like much when I summarize it all into a little paragraph like that, but the reality is that I have been on the edge of Hot Mess for more days than I care to count. Truth be told, I still am. Some days are better than others but I feel like I have been stuck in this glass case of emotion with no escape on a regular basis.

I am feeling all kinds of things about this move, including heartbreak. I am a Chicago native. I lived here for the first eleven years of my life and after spending time in Texas, Tennessee, and Virginia I came back and have lived here for the past twenty-six years. I have lived in this town for the past twenty-two years, and I have lived in this house for the past sixteen years. Jim and I raised our two sons (and two dogs!) here. My second book was about Chicago. The brand I have been building for a decade is Chicago-focused. I have lots of friends here. My workout “family” is here. My Chicago roots are thick and deeply buried. Pulling them up and replanting myself elsewhere is harder than almost anything I’ve ever had to do. Something that weighs heavily on my mind is that normally it’s the kids who grow up and leave home, but in this case we’re leaving them to their lives here. It’s fine; parents and kids don’t always stay in the same area and I’m fortunate enough to have the ability to plan regular visits, but my heart cracks open when I think about it and the tears flow, again.

On the other hand, this move became exciting once I got used to the idea and realized all of the good that will come with it. Knoxville is where Jim and I met in high school. Our story began there, and it feels a little awesome to be moving back after being gone for three decades. Our parents and my sister are all there. We have friends there, both old and new. The cost of living is about thirty percent less there than here. The weather is glorious there. The Smoky Mountains are gorgeous. We are already intimately acquainted with the Knoxville area so it doesn’t feel altogether like starting fresh in a strange town. The drive to visit my New Jersey family will be four hours shorter. Thanks to blogging, I have “portable” friends all over the country who are just a click away on my laptop and because of that I’m not as scared of starting over in a new place as I would have been ten years ago. Jim’s “new” job is a great opportunity for him and he loves it. I can still do my job in Knoxville and will be creating a Chicago-themed home office in our new house, the one I get to go find next week. I’ll be commuting up here monthly through May for Chicago’s Listen To Your Mother show and will make lots of future trips to see my kids and my friends. You can take the girl out of Chicago but you can’t take Chicago out of the girl. Ever.

Most importantly, Jim and I will be under the same roof again. It’s been a long six months of back-and-forth and living apart. Being reunited is going to feel so good. (Yes, I went there. Thanks, Peaches and Herb!)

I fluctuate between the extremes of sadness and excitement sometimes hourly (I’m allowed!), but lately the latter has started to edge out the former. Now that we have a moving date set for the end of February I’m looking forward to feeling relief that this part of our journey is over. When I think about the light at the end of the tunnel it looks like Jim and me wearing pajamas on the couch in our new living room, eating pizza, and watching something silly on television together, probably sighing heavily and happily. The idea that I won’t have to be constantly thinking about something related to moving or the logistics of visiting my husband in another state for much longer is a little intoxicating and honestly, hard to believe…but it’s coming.

In the meantime, if you see me and I’m overly emotional, don’t worry. I’m on my way.

Home

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Definitely A Cloud Factory, and Don’t You Forget It.

It never ceases to amaze me, the things that kids carry with them for a lifetime. Both of my boys were born in Kenosha, Wisconsin and…

Wait, sidenote: I often forget, since we moved back to my hometown area of Chicagoland when the boys were two and a half and seven months old, that they are actually Cheeseheads. In fact, whenever I’ve been asked I claim them as fellow Chicagoans without hesitation. Nothing personal, Wisconsin. (P.S. I will always root against the Green Bay Packers because I’m a Chicago Bears fan, even during the years when the Bears totally suck.) Dylan was the only baby born at what used to be Kenosha General Hospital on Father’s Day that year and two women from the Wisconsin Dairy Board brought us gifts, because that’s what happens in America’s Dairyland. I’m talking cow onesies, cheese, a cow stuffed animal, and other dairy-themed goodies.

wisconsin cow toy

It was all fun and games until they asked to take pictures of us. Immediately following a C-section? Were they crazy??? In light of the fact that they brought gifts and took time out of their Sunday to visit, I obliged anyway, much to my own horror.

ANYWAY, Chicago Pride. The boys both took lots of joy in rooting for the Bears over the Packers while attending their respective Wisconsin colleges, and they both have respectable Chicago accents that make it clear to everyone where their real home is.

Bears fan

In spite of the Chicago Pride involved, apparently the joke’s on me because their mother state keeps calling them home, via post-college experiences and childhood memories that stick to them like Velcro. Dylan enjoyed a post-college internship in Madison and returns often to hang with friends and Jason just got a fantastic job at one of the largest companies headquartered in Southeast Wisconsin, Pleasant Prairie to be exact.

Pleasant Prairie isn’t new to either one of them. It sits right between Kenosha to the north and the Illinois border to the south, and it’s home to a Jelly Belly Warehouse Tour, which we have done several times.

Back in the early nineties I drove through Pleasant Prairie regularly on my way to do my grocery shopping at the commissary on the Navy base at Great Lakes. On the way, we had to drive right by a factory that spewed pure white smoke into the sky every hour of every day. Toddler Dylan was fascinated by it and looked out for it when he knew we were headed in that direction.

Over the years he’s brought it up when we’re in the car together in that area (he’s twenty-four now, by the way). A couple of weeks ago when he and I moved Jason into his new apartment, we were talking about all of the great amenities he’s got at his disposal (laundry in the unit, workout center, indoor parking…), and Dylan mentioned one I hadn’t thought about:

“Oh, and it’s so cool that you have a great view of the Cloud Factory from here!”

The Cloud Factory.

The Cloud Factory!!

From the mouths of babes who have grown into young men.
How time flies. How amazing is our ability to remember things.

It stuck with him all these years, such a simple, kid-like thing. I love his name for it, and since I have no idea what this building actually produces, he could be right. In fact, for our family’s purposes, he definitely is.

Kenosha Cloud factory

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Bring Your Favorite City Home With Modern Map Art

The fine folks at Modern Map Art (affiliate link) provided me with a Chicago map poster in exchange for this post. All opinions are, obviously, mine.

I’ve been furiously collecting Chicago-themed stuff lately. It’s for my new home office: I intend to surround myself with items inspired by my hometown. A few weeks ago I went to the One of a Kind Show and Sale at the Merchandise Mart with my friend Natasha, bringing along all the great intentions of buying holiday gifts for loved ones. Somehow I ended up with just a couple of gifts for others and three–THREE!–Chicago-themed things for myself. Oh well.

With my eye and adoration for cool Chicago stuff, you can imagine my delight when I opened an email two weeks ago to find a request to review a Chicago map poster from Modern Map Art. That email made my day.

The posters come in a variety of colors and I decided on black and white to keep things simple. When it arrived I was excited to write about it but didn’t want to do that before I got it framed because I procrastinate fiercely on all kinds of things but I guess when it comes to the Windy City, I want my enjoyment NOW.

I took the cylinder to another friend, Meggan, who manages a custom frame shop right down the road. I like going to see Meggan at work for lots of reasons; one of them is because I enjoy the shop talk. I used to do custom framing for years back in the day and trading horror stories and tales of triumph with someone who gets it is really fun.

Sidenote: One such horror story is the time my co-worker put a–let’s say vintage–sheepskin diploma in the dry mount press. Did you know that you shouldn’t apply heat to those kinds of things? Well, now you do. We got the diploma replaced for the customer but the college was no longer using sheepskin and instead sent us one on parchment. Yikes. Those mistakes stick with you forever.

Anyway, I started taking the poster out of the cylinder and showed Meggan the black frame I picked out. She approved (hurray!) and offered to get the poster dry mounted and into the frame for me while I hung there with her. (Thanks, Meggan!)

Modern Map Art Chicago

What I think about this poster: I love it. I framed it (err, Meggan framed it) with the “Chicago” strip at the bottom but you could also cut that part off and just frame the map if you want something a little more abstract. (I might do that eventually.) I like that the street names aren’t on the poster: it feels more artsy that way. It looks fantastic in the frame and I can’t wait to get it on my wall!

Modern Map Chicago

Forgive the glare: getting a good picture of a black poster under regular glass without a glare is nearly impossible.

Modern Map Art has tons of cities to choose from, and not just posters, either. Check out their Chicago gifts and decor as well as all of their other goodies here (affiliate link)! They even have smaller cities represented (Appleton, Wisconsin! Bloomington, Indiana! Hershey, Pennsylvania! Jersey City, New Jersey! I mean, come on! Cool!), which is something you don’t usually see. Go check them out, and let me know if you pick up something new for your wall (or your bed: they make pillows, too)!

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Question of the Day: Have You Ever?

Have you ever driven into downtown Chicago to meet a friend for lunch and, when you arrive at the hotel valet parking garage you reserved space in ahead of time on your favorite parking discount app, you don’t actually see the valet at the stand that’s in the circle drive and you wait there in your car for a minute to see if he would eventually appear but he doesn’t and so you glance over at the entrance to the garage itself and think, “Huh, last time I parked in the city, the valet was actually IN the garage so perhaps I need to go in the garage to find him here too” and you drive your car through this tiny little tunnel thingie that’s barely wide enough but you do it anyway because it’s the only way to get access to the garage and then you keep going down and around the tight, tight curve to the garage door, sneaking up as close as you can so the sensors in the concrete will make it open for you, and then when it doesn’t you realize you made a huge error in judgement because you really should have turned your car over to a valet at the stand and not tried to take care of this particular thing on your own, so you call the parking app people to ask them if they can call the hotel valet to get you out of there in case the pavement has those spikes in it, the ones that will pop any tires that back up over them and the guy goes, “Uh yeah I don’t have their number, can you back out?” and you’re all “Thanks for nothing” and since you don’t see any spikes in the pavement when you put the car in reverse and look at your snazzy rear view backup camera and your fancy side mirrors that aim down towards the pavement when the car is going backwards, you try to back up the sort-of steep, tight, tight curve, all the while your sensors are beep-beep-beeping to tell you you’re WAY too close to the wall and you start to panic because now all of a sudden you feel like Austin Powers trying to turn that little cart around and you mess with it for a minute or two because you are normally an AMAZING driver and can parallel park practically with your eyes closed and without the use of your snazzy rear view backup camera: you go forward and back, forward and back, and somehow you are totally messing up when it comes to turning the wheel in the right direction and you start to get very upset and cry a little bit and feel one hundred percent impaired so you finally throw the car into park, set the emergency brake, lock it up and go to the hotel lobby to see if the valet has returned, and he has, and you tell him the whole story and he says “Show me” and then “Um, nobody can get in there with your car there” and you’re all “I KNOW! HELP ME!” and he asks for your keys and then he expertly backs your car up the tight, tight curve and through that tiny little tunnel thingie and back out to the circle drive where he is still smiling at you–in a compassionate way and not a snarky way–as he gives you your claim ticket and tells you to have a nice, relaxing lunch and then when you finally meet up with your friend (late), you say, “You’re not going to believe the pickle I just got myself into” and then you cry a little bit more as you tell her over pizza?

I have.

austin powers

Related: Question of the Day: Got Gas?

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My Best of 2016: Happy New Year!

My best of 2016

It’s (finally) the last day of 2016 and I’m so happy it’s over. So many of us have had an ultra-challenging year personally, and we’re ready to close the door on it and hope for a Happy New One.

I wrote 75 posts this year (not including this one) which is, I’m certain, a new low for me. Twenty-seven of them were in the month of November alone as I tried to tackle NaBloPoMo. A couple of years ago my lack of posting really would have bothered me, but this year it doesn’t. Just like me, this blog is in a constant state of evolution. I don’t put all my eggs in this basket and I find that I still love coming here in between all of my other projects when I have something to say or document.

I’m completely stealing my friend Vikki’s idea and choosing some of my best writing from 2016 to share today. Just like every other year, they’re not all gems–not by a long shot–but I have definitely written some posts that make me proud. Here we go:

1. I Let Go: Technically I wrote the post at the end of 2015 but I spent three months editing it for the stage and I performed it in LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER CHICAGO in May. Therefore, I’m counting it for 2016. The essay is about dropping my younger son off at the airport for a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Israel, without me and his dad. You can watch my LTYM Chicago reading, the final product, here.

2. Quality of Life: My tribute to Roxie, whose illness and death two weeks later came as a total shock to all of us, is one of my favorite essays from 2016 not because of the subject but because I don’t feel like I could have said it any better. I worked on the post in my head for her final week on earth, making occasional notes as if I were an obituaries writer for a major publication, preparing for the death of a celebrity. I wanted to write a tribute that would express how much she meant to me and the rest of my family, and I feel really good about having done just that. I still miss her so, so much. (You obviously don’t have feel pressured to read it: it’s super sad. I couldn’t leave it off of this list, though!)

3. The Cross: My rant on La Croix (*waves to Vikki*) and why I just don’t think I’m ever going to be about that life entertained a bunch of people, but mainly me. That reminds me, I still have a 12-pack of lime in my garage and I need to drive it up to Vikki’s house. I KNOW she’ll drink it.

4. Safety Saves: This post is actually my most-visited for 2016. It was shared all over the place and for that I am glad, because not only is it the story of Jim’s hit and run bike accident but it also suggests helmet use and wearing ID when you’re working out away from home. I heard from many friends (and a few strangers) afterwards, telling me they were purchasing ID necklaces and bracelets for their loved ones for Christmas and Hanukkah. I’m happy to have that kind of silver lining around our traumatic, life-changing experience and if my post prevents even one injury (or worse), well, that’s pretty amazing.

5. For the Children: Many of us have struggled with writing since the Presidential Election. I wrote this post about how I have been noticing children out in public more often than I usually do, and how we need to do what we can individually to help leave a better world for the next generation.

YOU are also my best. I appreciate everyone who takes a moment to stop here and read what I write every now and then: thank you so much. I wish you and your loved ones the very best in 2017. Happy New Year!

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A Totally Predictable Star Wars Christmas

Even though we’re with extended family in Knoxville, the Wells family will continue our Christmas tradition of going to see a movie followed by dinner prepared by Jim. (We’re having Green Curry Chicken, which is Thai and not Chinese, but still Asian. Close enough.)

Our movie? The new “Star Wars” flick. FINALLY. (<--- Same as last year! Christmas means Star Wars, apparently.) Besides that? Well, you know:

Merry Christmas to all of you who are celebrating!

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