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Kid-Friendly Valentine’s Day Playlist? Easy Peasy!

Kid-Friendly Valentine's Day Playslist

This morning while my friend Michelle and I were trying to keep our minds off the “pain” during our Dailey Method class, she asked me for some help. “I need a Valentine’s playlist for the school party this week. Can you give me some songs that are about love but kid-friendly? Something for Musical Chairs.”

Oh my gosh, but I love when people ask me for music suggestions around a theme. Making playlists is one of my favorite things to do.

Kid-friendly love songs? Easy peasy.

Step one: eliminate Usher’s “Love In This Club” and Madonna’s “Justify My Love” because JUST NO. Sensitive ears! Also, if you’re trying to get out of being Room Parent, there are better ways to go about it.

Step two: eliminate all power ballads because have you ever tried to play Musical Chairs to Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You”? I have…NOT either, but there’s a reason for that.

Try this playlist just to get started:

Crazy In Love — Beyonce, featuring Jay-Z
I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me) — Whitney Houston
Crazy Little Thing Called Love — Queen
Best of My Love — The Emotions
I Love You (Always Forever) — Donna Lewis
The Power of Love — Huey Lewis and the News
Can’t Buy Me Love — The Beatles
Love Stinks — J. Geils Band
We Found Love — Rihanna featuring Calvin Harris
Somebody To Love — Justin Bieber
Who Loves You — Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons
Friday, I’m In Love — The Cure
Love Shack — The B-52’s
She Loves You — The Beatles
I Just Called To Say I Love You — Stevie Wonder
Love Is A Battlefield — Pat Benatar
Love Plus One — Haircut 100
Baby Love — The Supremes
Love Story — Taylor Swift
What Is Love? — Haddaway
Do You Believe In Love — Huey Lewis and the News

Is my playlist missing something? Leave it in the comments!
Are you volunteering at your kids’ school for the Valentine’s Day party? Save me a cupcake, please and thank you!



Today I’m joining over 100 women in spreading the message of #ChoosingHappiness. In today’s post I share how I chose happiness in the midst of life’s messiness by answering a few questions from best-selling Publisher Linda Joy, whose new book Inspiration for a Woman’s Soul: Choosing Happiness, featuring the soul-inspiring stories of 27 amazing women who share their intimate stories of transformation, is being released today. Choosing Happiness also includes Reflection Questions after each story which will empower you to integrate the vital lessons of each woman’s journey into your own life.

For a limited time you can get over 40 transformational gifts with your copy of Choosing Happiness. Grab your copy today!

P.S. I am not being compensated in any way for this post; I’m writing it because a friend asked me to help and I enjoy choosing happiness in my own life.

Choosing Happiness

Q: Was there a pivotal moment in your life when you realized that your happiness was an internal choice that could be made despite your outside circumstances? For me, I don’t think so. I think I have always been a Pollyanna-type of person (Google her, kids!). Of course, some days are harder than others but when it’s all said and done I think if you asked anyone who knows me whether I’m a happy person in general, they’d say “absolutely!”

Q: How do you remind yourself that happiness is always within and catch your footing in those whirlwind moments of life that can throw us off balance? A lot of it is mental, knowing that life isn’t happy 100% of the time, as much as we strive for that. In fact, happiness is much more appreciated when you’ve dealt with the opposite in all different forms. (Ahem but I prefer happiness…who doesn’t??) I know that if I’m having an off day (or week!) that eventually it will pass as long as I keep pushing through and looking for the little things that make me smile.

Q: What is your personal definition of happiness today? Defining happiness isn’t easy because I see it as something fluid. I guess I’d say that happiness is an overall feeling of contentment with the way life is going and/or knowing that I have done all I can do to make any tweaks towards improving anything that’s lacking. I’m a firm believer in asking for what you want instead of waiting around for things to happen, and I think that–being proactive–is one of the secrets to finding happiness.

Q. Share three things that bring you happiness. My family, my friends, and the fact that right now, I’m spending my time doing a job (jobs) that I love.

Choosing Happiness Freedom

I invite you to share how you choose happiness in the comments below.

Be sure to check out Linda’s new book, Inspiration for a Woman’s Soul: Choosing Happiness and grab your copy today at http://bit.ly/Happiness_Book to receive the bonus gift bundle.


Travel Itch

I’m getting a little squirmy because it’s been absolutely forever since I’ve gone anywhere.

OKAY, it’s been two weeks since we went to Wisconsin to move D into his new place. I don’t count that as traveling, though.

It’s actually been two months since the last time I went somewhere that “counts” as traveling, and that was a pretty awesome trip to Miami (pretty sure I’m still hungover) and then a five-day cruise to the Bahamas. I shouldn’t complain, because most of you are likely thinking “Geez, it’s been a year (or two, or five, or whatever) since I’ve gotten out of town!” but I’m complaining anyway.

South Beach, December 2014

South Beach, December 2014

These days I’ve got an increasingly bad case of Wanderlust, just when the pace of things in all of my various jobs is picking up.

I have travel plans, but they’re not soon enough.

OKAY, I lied. I have a roadtrip to Ohio to see Momo coming up in eleven and a half days (not that I’m counting). Still, not soon enough.

I am almost one hundred percent certain I’ll be heading back to New Jersey to see Liz and the rest of my Jersey family in April; I’m just waiting to find out the date of one thing before pulling the trigger on that flight reservation. Not soon enough!

I am planning to be in the audience for LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER shows in Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin at the end of April and beginning of May. Not soon enough! (But not rushing the LTYM process because OMG why would I do that?)

BlogHer ’15 is in New York City this July. Not soon enough.

Well. Now that I look at all of that I can see I’m just being a little impatient. Never mind, I guess.

Seaside Heights, NJ October 2014

Seaside Heights, NJ October 2014

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Note To Self:

Next year, remember to ask someone to remind me that I will likely need a sleep aid on the night in between LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER CHICAGO audition days.

It’s what happens when we listen–oh, so willingly!–to these from-hilarious-to-heartbreaking stories of motherhood for hours at a time. At night, the stories start to ooze out. They stick with us for so many different reasons. When we’re in the beginning of the process of having to choose which ones are right for the show this year, there is excitement about finding our newest LTYM Chicago family members combined with sadness in thinking about the many who will have to be let go, at least for now. The sleep, it does not come easy at the moment.

All of that said, auditions are one of the very, very best and most exciting parts of this journey to stage. It’s so very humbling and such a huge honor, to accept these stories with open arms, open minds, and open hearts. THIS is what it’s all about. Auditions, in some ways even more than show day, completely encompass the mission of LTYM: to give motherhood a microphone, to validate everyone’s stories, to LISTEN.

And so we press forward, and today we’ll listen some more.

I can’t wait.

Photo credit: Balee Images

Photo credit: Balee Images


Rosecrance’s “In My Shoes” Exhibit: Go See It!

Last week I told you about how I’ve been doing some sponsored work for Rosecrance, one of the country’s leading teen substance abuse treatment centers, to help get some tough teen conversations started. I participated in a Twitter chat and then was all set to visit the traveling art exhibit called “In My Shoes”, currently on display at Hinsdale’s Robert Crown Center.

Today, I’m reporting back!

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Once Again, It’s All In The Attitude.

We spent most of last weekend moving D from Kenosha to Madison (Wisconsin!). It’s an interesting time for him right now. After doing production work for a mid-sized marketing company for the last year, he was hired by a much smaller graphic design firm. He’s wanted to work at this place for nearly three years, since he was still finishing his classes.

Here’s the rub: he’ll be a design intern, which is fantastic for long-term and getting him where he wants to go in his career but in the short-term, it’s a pretty significant pay cut.

That’s why we’re focusing on the long-term.

His living situation is also being downgraded; we moved him out of the apartment he had all to himself in Kenosha and into one bedroom of the downstairs half of a house just off the campus of UW-Madison. It’s what was in his newly-chopped budget and for six months, he’ll be once again sharing a bathroom and a kitchen with people who are strangers now but will likely become friends. He’ll also be able to walk to work every day if he wants to (he does).

The mental transition, as you can imagine, has been hard for this twenty-two-year-old to manage. Or, it was. Taking what seems like a step backwards (but really isn’t in so many ways) was a bummer.

Luckily, he’s my kid and got some of that “half-full” mentality.

Last week we talked to him more than usual on the phone as we prepared for the big move and I heard a shift in attitude. He said things like:

“You know, I’m not very happy about moving into a house with other people but I’ve decided to focus on the fact that I will be working at one of my dream companies for the next six months and that’s more important to me right now.”


“It kind of stinks that I have to have all my stuff in one bedroom but really, I was picking up too much stuff anyway. I felt horrible when I was packing because I just thought, ‘Wow, I don’t need this much stuff.’ This is good.”

I can’t take all the credit for this, of course, and neither can Jim, but we sure are proud of how he was able to flip all of this around in his head and be grateful for this resume-building opportunity at one of his favorite companies even while he has to sacrifice some of his creature comforts. I think he’ll eventually look upon this time (and his ability to hang onto a great attitude) as completely invaluable to his career.

Also, we bought him a new mattress set so there’s another thing to smile about, you know? #HalfFull

Contrary to how this looks, he is not testing out a "crib mattress", as one of my Facebook friends suggested. The feet are hanging off, yes, but you can't see that there's plenty of space above his head. ANYWAY. I love this picture.

Contrary to how this looks, he is not testing out a “crib mattress”, as one of my Facebook friends suggested. The feet are hanging off, yes, but you can’t see that there’s plenty of space above his head. ANYWAY. I love this picture.


Netflix #StreamTeam Celebrates Pets, Sigh.

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!

I’m getting in just under the wire with my January Netflix Stream Team post, shew! I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to lead into the “Pets” theme this month. There are so many angles I could take, as a beagle owner.

“Luckily”, Roxie did me a favor and got into one of the two bags full of Valentine’s Day treats I had put together for my kids. Insert heavy sigh here.

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It probably won’t surprise you to learn that I was not a troublemaker in high school.

To this day, my sister (who is five years younger) still teases me about how I once told her that I never went to any wild parties in high school because I was never invited to one. “You don’t get invited to those!” she told me, shaking her head.

I did, however, know how to work “the system”. Although I never planned on revealing this specific part of my past to my kids, a conversation over dinner a couple of weeks ago led to my telling J about my biggest high school offense, which happened over the course of about four months at the end of my junior year.

The Tennessee high school that Jim and I attended had a fourth (or fifth?) period that was divided into thirds, and students went to class for two of those thirds and lunch for the third, uh, third.

I had first lunch (in the first third. Follow me?), but I spent my lunch period volunteering in the Counselor’s Office. Spanish class was where I went after that, except on days (many days) when I made a detour, and that’s where the trouble begins.

Jim had second lunch.

I used to go see him “on my way” to Spanish (as long as “on the way” means going downstairs from the Counselor’s Office to the cafeteria and then back up the stairs to class) for five or ten minutes. I was chronically late.

At dinner a couple of weeks ago I got all the way to that part of the story before I realized that my nineteen-year-old would likely ask the question. And he did.

“How did you get away with being late to class all the time?”

I lowered my voice a little bit and said, “I lifted some late-excuse pads from the Counselor’s Office and forged signatures so my Spanish teacher just thought I was finishing up loose ends. BUT I HAD AN ‘A’ AVERAGE IN SPANISH SO SHE WAS FINE WITH IT.”

Once he picked up his chin from the floor, he spent a few minutes nervously laughing and shaking his head while clearly in shock over this revelation.

“So…you just FORGED their signatures????”

“And you had PADS of those excuse sheets????”

“And your teacher never got you in trouble?????”

“How often did you do that???”

Three or four days each week.

And hey, it all worked out okay, didn’t it?

Jim and Melisa, second lunch at FHS

Jim and Melisa, second lunch at FHS, 1985


Even though we have never experienced communication issues, some of the most difficult-to-begin conversations with our boys were the ones about substance abuse. As parents, the idea of our kids—actually our whole family—dealing with substance abuse was always one of our biggest fears as they got older and became more independent. The fact is, drug abuse–prescriptions and illegal substances–is rampant no matter where you are. Here in Naperville specifically, there’s a huge, scary heroin problem in addition to the “usual” stuff.

Recently I was asked by the folks at Rosecrance, one of the country’s leading teen substance abuse treatment centers, to do some sponsored work in helping them spread the word about a traveling art exhibit that brings awareness about teen peer pressure when it comes to substance use and abuse. This is one of those times when I thought, as a parent of now-grown boys, I could be of some value and, frankly, I was also interested in the conversation. So…I was all in.

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Making it through last week felt like a huge victory for me because, well, you probably read all about it already. Besides the moving parts of my life over which I have no control that I ever-so-vaguely mentioned, the other main source of my internal crisis was a repeat offender: hormones.



I took some action over the weekend and reached out to a friend who is a wellness coach and so smart about and active in treating things holistically that one of her nicknames is “Witch Doctor”.

This is NOT my thing. I’ve always been skeptical of the healing properties of oils and other natural—what shall I call them?—elements?

I have been known to cringe when I’m in a room with people who talk at length about chakras and such.

(I’M NOT JUDGING: I’m just telling you where I’m coming from.)

With my hormones (and the anxiety and mood swings they induce) taking up more and more of my valuable time these days, however, I needed to open up my mind a little bit.

I called my friend the Witch Doctor on Friday evening and she invited me to come over on Saturday after my workout so we could explore some ideas she had for me. Oil-wise, you know.

I left with some samples and, after a day and a half of using them I ordered regular sized bottles. Although it’s too soon for me to tell if I’m going to end up achieving the goal of becoming “rebalanced”, this new ritual is a comfort to me and my mind is open. Also, people are telling me that I smell really good, which has always been a goal of mine. (Honestly. Ask Liz. She’ll vouch for me on that.) I keep taking deep breaths into my hands, which makes me feel a little like Mary Katherine Gallagher but on the other end of the scent spectrum and not nearly as offensive-looking in action.

And now I have ordered a travel bag for my oils. A TRAVEL BAG. FOR MY OILS.

travel bag for essential oils

My bag (not my oils; those pictured were only for display purposes), on its way to me from The Farmer’s Boutique shop on Etsy.


Hopefully someone who is on her way to feeling more balanced, that’s who.