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Ring Ring

You know how you wake up on a Saturday morning and although you have a busy day of baking planned, you’re excited to write your NaBloPoMo Day fifteen blog post but you decide to get some of your other necessary tasks out of the way first, like working out and some of that baking?

And you know how you end up being in the kitchen for five hours in the afternoon because you forgot that the very worst part of participating in the Chicago Food Swap (something you haven’t done for a year because it wasn’t meshing well with your schedule) is that you simply lack the ability to ignore your life’s motto (“Go big or go home!”), and so you end up making something like eighteen loaves of chocolate chip banana bread and a bunch of mini whiskey cakes?

And you know how you go outside to check on your husband, who is taking a break from mowing the lawn/mulching the leaves, and he is sitting on the porch saying, “I’m too old to be doing this. I used to be able to do this with no problem but now I’m already sore, ugh” and you reply, “Me too with the baking all day! My back is killing me and I’m SO READY TO BE DONE” and then you both chuckle because you’re really not too old but you’re just tired?

And you know how your husband finishes the leaves and burns up some of the stick pile because it was getting out of hand and then he comes in and says, “I bet neither one of us feels like figuring out dinner tonight so why don’t we go out?” and then you go out and totally have no intention of having a drink because you might have already had a couple while you were standing in the kitchen baking all day but then you notice that apparently Justin Timberlake has “remastered” Sauza 901 tequila and since you know how much Momo loves JT you feel like it’s your duty as a good friend to try it out on her behalf, but not before sending her a text telling her all about your good deed?

JT's tequila

And you know how you’re sitting at the table waiting for your dinner and you and your husband are both getting super sleepy and he says, “We’re never making it to ten o’clock” and you reply, “Oh yes we will because I have a blog post to write!” and then you wonder out loud how much someone like Justin Timberlake gets paid to associate his name with an alcohol brand, thinking it has to be a lot but then your brain whips itself back to that blog post which seemed like it was going to be so great when you had it in your head this morning but that was way before the workout and the baking and the drinks and the exhaustion and the longing for bedtime…

Well, that’s why I’m phoning it in today.

Ring ring


Tea For Two. Or Four. Or Sixteen.

Have I mentioned how much I enjoy tea?

Oh, right.

Because I haven’t shut up about tea for nearly a month now, one of my friends—who I haven’t seen in forever—sent me a Facebook message saying that she wanted to go to Teavana with me.

Again, this post is not sponsored.

I could think of nothing more fun than meeting her at Teavana, getting her completely addicted to their tea, and then heading across the mall for a bite to eat so of course I said, “Absolutely!”

Sabrina and I met as planned, grabbing a sample of tea on the way into the store.

The whole time I was in the store, by the way, I was repeating to myself “You don’t need anything today. You don’t need anything today. You don’t need anything today.”

We tried another tea sample and then went to check out the infusers. On the way, I discovered what looked like travel tea containers. They were very sparkly.

macaron tea tins

Sabrina and I laughed and laughed and laughed at the idea of packing tea to go in one of those containers and while I was all, “Oh hahahaha there’s no way I would ever buy one of those,” secretly I was thinking, “If only they weren’t so sparkly, I’d buy one right now…”

We tried another tea sample while we stared at this sign, wondering aloud if the monkeys really are picking the oolong tea.

Monkey picked oolong

It may have been the tea making us giddy but I think I may have even acted out “monkeys picking tea”. I told Sabrina I would not be able to rest until I found out if Teavana was using, as she said, “monkey labor,” so we asked the saleswoman. As it turns out, monkeys don’t CURRENTLY pick the oolong tea. What we were told is also on their website, with the exception of the part about the monks “definitely having a bananas-for-tea trade situation with the monkeys”:

“As legend has it, ancient Buddhist Monks trained monkeys to gather the youngest leaves from the tip-top of wild tea trees for this special Imperial Reserve blend. The legend lives on, now with the deft hand-plucking of the broken, evenly sized leaves that unfurl to create a light, orchid aroma, and the highest grade of oolong in the world.”


We had another tea sample, and debated whether Oprah’s Chai tea was strictly for the holidays.

Then we had another tea sample and Sabrina decided it was time for her to make some purchases. She stood there listening to our saleswoman provide tons of helpful information in a highly accessible and friendly manner, which EXACTLY is how I got addicted started, that day in New Jersey with Liz. The first one’s free, kid.

Sabrina tea

Another two or four tea samples later (frankly, I stopped counting), I was laughing uncontrollably as Sabrina picked out some tea to go with the infuser she was buying. Have a nice day indeed, Teavana.

Teavana Tea

We chit-chatted all the way across the mall where we met Tracey for dinner, and at first she couldn’t get a word in edgewise. I blame the fifteen or sixteen tea samples we ingested, and the excitement over Sabrina’s bag of tea goodies because OMG TEA!

I was in hysterics again when she showed Tracey her new infuser and explained how it works. I mean, look at this.

Showing off the tea gadget

It was such a fun evening sharing the Teavana experience with Sabrina (and later, Tracey). By the way, I didn’t buy anything for myself, though I am sort of wondering if I need a sparkly travel tea container.


Stepping Out.

I am all about stepping out of my comfort zone these days.

I haven’t always been that way and it’s still not always easy but I firmly believe that many of the things I have and things I am able to do have resulted from my “getting uncomfortable” at times, and setting things in motion somehow, by either taking action or just putting the ask out there.


I just realized that this week marks the thirtieth anniversary of the day I put the wheels in motion for the thing that has affected just about every element of my life ever since: my marriage.

Melisa & Jim

Thirty years ago this week I ended months of stalking Jim from afar in high school when I decided to drive by his house—cough cough, as I had done so many times before, without his knowledge—and actually stop this time. He was alone on the driveway playing hacky sack, and when I pulled up I screeched to a stop and jumped out of my car. I speed-walked over to him, handed him a note and said, “Here, this is for you,” and briskly made my way back to my car and sped away, my cheeks burning hot.

I can’t tell you what the note said.

I mean, I could, but I’m not going to.


He called me that afternoon, and the rest is history. We have never celebrated the anniversary of our meeting, but I thought that the thirty year mark was well worth a mention. A lot has happened in those thirty years, and it’s mostly great stuff. We’ve been very lucky.

Jim, although I initially chose you, I’m ever so glad you chose me back. I love you.

spring dance

For those of you who are on the fence or scared about taking a leap, DO IT. Whether it’s making your own love connection, trying to get ahead at work, starting a new venture or countless other things, you’ll never know how much your life can change for the better until you get to steppin’!


Those Shoes.

I smile a lot.

I know, it can be sickening to the people of the world who aren’t so happy-go-lucky. Sorry/not sorry.

I just try to spend lots of time appreciating the little things as much as the big things.

Here’s one little thing that always always always makes me smile, no matter how many times I’ve seen it–and I’ve seen it hundreds of times:

Jim's shoes

Those are Jim’s shoes (Keen sandals) on the garage floor right behind his car. He wears those shoes from the house out to the garage, where he pulls his bike off of the ceiling hooks and leans it up against the brick wall outside. Then he slips his Keens off and puts his feet right into his cycling shoes, which don’t get to touch the pavement very much if he can help it. He puts his Keens in this exact spot on the floor so they’re waiting for him when he gets back, puts his helmet on, shuts the garage door, and rides away. The process is, of course, reversed when he returns home.

I LOVE when I’m out somewhere and then pull up into the driveway and open the garage door…and see those shoes.

Those shoes are there because he hates being barefoot. (Oddly enough, I love being barefoot.)
Those shoes mean he’s out doing what he loves. (Cycling freak, in the best way.)
Those shoes mean he’s out doing something that is good for his health.
Those shoes mean he’ll be back soon.
Those shoes, for some reason, make me feel all mushy gushy about my husband.

And that makes me smile.


Record Regret

After lunch on Sunday we walked to the next street corner where we found a record store.

As in vinyl.

As in albumins.

As in “Big CDs”, which was the term I used when trying to explain to my two boys what record albums were, way back in the late 90’s and before they became interested in vinyl themselves.

These days, all three of us are suckers for a cool record store. (Jim’s lukewarm about it but will absolutely spend some time happily browsing if you ask him to.) We’ve all spent time with my sister on Record Store Day, tracking down colored vinyl or special releases or other treasures. D has a wall full of professionally framed record albums and although he spent more money than he needed to on framing vinyl while he was still a college student, his apartment looks damn good and he will carry those with him no matter where he lives for years to come. My plan is to frame some of my favorites someday, perhaps for one of my offices. Anyway, the hunt can be pretty thrilling, especially when it ends with the discovery of old, err, I mean VINTAGE treasures.

Exhibit A: Back in high school I used to collect those little circular band buttons (pins) that were readily available on the check-out counter of record stores. I still have them: Berlin, Duran Duran, Adam Ant, and many others. When I was in Tennessee last month I hit up my favorite record store from the 80’s, which is still completely in business although most of the vinyl has been replaced by more updated media. Still, after a few minutes of digging I found this awesome, vintage Prince button from the Purple Rain days.

Prince Purple Rain

You never know what you’re going to find or what memories you’ll conjure up, which is part of the excitement. At the record store on Sunday, I flipped through the stacks and found lots of things but not much of what I was looking for (Duran Duran, Adam Ant, Bon Jovi…). I DID find lots of what I wasn’t looking for (Beatles, ABBA, Bee Gees, and Beach Boys). Sigh.

I went into the back of the store and discovered their rack full of 45 rpm records.

45 rpms

Now THERE were some memories. Guess which one of these records I do NOT (still) currently own?

45 rpm collage

Something made me return to the racks in front and recheck for Berlin, and suddenly I had this in my hands and as I read it, I laughed. Excellent marketing.

Berlin 12 inches of sex

Berlin’s “Sex (I’m A…)” was raunchy and controversial. Their live performance of it at the 1983 US Festival was somewhat legendary, and it has been one of my favorite songs…since the age of fourteen.

Note: I turned out just fine, by the way, so all of you parents worried about your youngsters and music lyrics? IT’S OKAY.

Finding this record made me really happy. It was hilarious, it was a 12-inch album that was meant to be played at 45 rpm, and for a second I considered buying it until I thought about how something like that wouldn’t really look good in a frame on the wall. I took a picture and put the record back. And then I grabbed it again, because who cares if it doesn’t have pretty album cover art? And then I put it back again. Rinse and repeat.

I walked out of the store without that record and regretted it almost immediately.

Guess where I’m headed next time I visit my son at his school, right after I hug him hello?
I have a feeling it’ll still be there, waiting for me.


The Very Best Sundays.

Sometimes the very best Sundays involve skipping your workout, jumping in the car with your husband, driving ninety minutes to pick up your older son, continuing to drive for another forty-five minutes to pick up your younger son, making your way over to a pizza place that your younger son recommends but finding it closed for lunch and instead eating at a place called People’s Park which isn’t a park at all but serves really yummy burgers on brioche buns, and while you eat you’re all ribbing each other but in the most laughter-filled, fun way, and then after you eat you go check out some vinyl at the record store and when it’s time to leave you get a bunch of posed pictures but as usual it’s one of the unposed, goofy ones that is your favorite and will represent the spirit of the whole day, which will leave you smiling for a good long time.

J and Melisa and D


Catching Up.

What I love about NaBloPoMo is that many of my friends are writing way more often than they usually do.

What’s difficult about NaBloPoMo is keeping up with it all. My Bloglovin’ feed is in a constant state of growth and although I try to read from it daily, I don’t have the time to get through everything during the week, especially when I’m trying to leave comments. I use the weekends for catching up.

Sitting here all comfy on the couch with a cup of my favorite tea, I zip through a hundred, maybe a hundred and fifty (I KNOW!) posts, enjoying every second of this ritual.

And the tea, because duh.

Tea, yum.

Some of my very favorite posts that I’ve read in the past week? Glad you asked.

Ashley at Baddest Mother Ever (one of my very favorite new-to-me blogs OMG) wrote about being pushed–in a good way–by her sister. I triple-puffy-heart-love this post. Read it here.

Natasha at Houseful of Nicholes wrote about how Benedict Cumberbatch ruined her morning. I can totally relate, not with Benedict but you know, I have my own. Read it here.

Stephanie at Adventures in Babywearing wrote a sweet post about her sweet son with a surprise ending that says a lot about how our kids learn to manipulate certain situations for their benefit. Read it here.

Heather at Life’s a Disco Ball (another new friend/fave!) wrote about 26 things she’s do if she weren’t afraid and it got me thinking about my own list. Read hers here.

Phyllis at The Napkin Hoarder wrote about doing things by herself. I’ve written about that topic before too because except for when I’m having a loneliness crisis like I did a couple weeks ago, I really love doing things by myself! Read about her experience here, and maybe you’ll decide to take yourself out to lunch!

Have you read anything super great this week? Leave it in comments and I’ll go check it out, right after I get some more tea!


Get Ready For Listen To Your Mother 2015!

Things are getting exciting all up in here (again!); on Thursday, the LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER 2015 season kicked off with our city announcement. This year we’re bigger and better than ever with twenty-nine returning cities and ten new cities!

We’ve come a long way from that single show in Madison, Wisconsin back in 2010, don’t you think?

(*high fives Ann Imig*)

As the National New Cities Mentor, I’ve been working with our new production teams behind the scenes for the last month or so, all while they were keeping the news of their selection under wraps.

That’s DIFFICULT, you guys. Like, you don’t even know.

Over the past four weeks I’ve told these wonderful women multiple times to enjoy the peace and quiet where their shows are concerned because once that train leaves the station, we all eat, sleep, and breathe LTYM until May. It’s a lot of thinking, a lot of planning, a lot of work.

It’s also a lot of fun, a lot of laughter, a lot of feeling like this is one of the best things we’ve ever done in our lives. Ask any LTYM show-runner and she’ll agree with me.

The connections I’ve made through LTYM, from the Chicago cast members over the past three years (THREE YEARS ALREADY!) to the sponsors who support the show financially each year to the Chicago blogger community who supports the show so enthusiastically each year to my fellow producer/directors in other cities (both returning and new) to the National Team to, of course, Tracey, my platonic lobster and co-producer here in the Windy City, are more valuable to me than gold. Or diamonds. Or other valuable things. LTYM truly IS one of the very best, most fulfilling, fun, rewarding things I’ve ever done in my life.

The funny thing is, I have said this to this year’s newbies several times but now matter how much they might think they get it, they won’t really get it until much later. This I know. I’m not trying to rush the season by any means, but one of the most rewarding parts of my job as New Cities Mentor in my first year was watching the exhilaration ooze out of the ladies I had worked with all season, upon their shows’ end this past spring. I can’t wait (well, you know what I mean) until these new teams feel that, too.

Locally, Tracey and I are working on early season tasks for our FOURTH Chicago show. We’re not even thinking about casting yet (that starts after the new year!) but as we make our lists and send preliminary emails, I look at the “iconic” pictures from each of our shows and am inspired to once again do my best work.

LTYM Chicago 2012 (Photo credit: Rob Krueger Photography):

LTYM Chicago 2012

LTYM Chicago 2013 (Photo credit: Sabrina Persico):

LTYM Chicago Roar 2013

LTYM Chicago 2014 (Photo credit: Balee Images):

LTYM Chicago 2014

It’s in looking at those pictures and appreciating the forty-two women (and man!) who have made the LTYM Chicago experience what it is for Tracey and me that fuels me for the hard work to come.

Let’s not even talk about how impactful it was to gather many of them on our stage in May for an alumni picture. I get teary-eyed all over again whenever I look at this one (Photo credit: Balee Images):
LTYM Chicago Alumni

Okay wait, let’s talk about it. That was a huge heart moment. Tracey and I brought those people together, heard their stories, coached them through telling their stories to a live audience of hundreds of people, basked with them as they enjoyed their “Me too!” moments post-show, and now enjoy being a part of a forever family that is supportive and loving and fun. We’ve even already scheduled our alumni picnic for next August. (Waves to Stephanie K, our hostess with the mostess!) No sappiness intended, but that is what Tracey and I set out to create from the very beginning. To see them en masse was an experience I won’t soon forget. Forty-two people so far have joined Tracey and me as a part of the LTYM Chicago family, and as we plan to welcome another ten or eleven into the fold, I am just so excited and inspired.

THIS is what I want the new production teams to understand: beyond the small details (SO MANY DETAILS) that go into planning the perfect show for their city (and each one will be perfect–or nearly so!–in its own way) are the people and the lives that are touched forever by the sharing of these important stories. The bonds that form over the season have the potential to be very strong, and I encourage my new 2015 production teams to embrace the heart of it all, and make it an outstanding experience as a whole not only for their cast members but also for themselves.

It’s all starting to unfold…are you ready? I am!


Brilliance In Advertising

I bought a new car, a Buick Regal GS, in the spring. (I still laugh when I think about how J put his girlfriend in the trunk to test out one of the safety features.)


Note: this is not a sponsored post. It’s going to seem like it IS a sponsored post, but I swear that it is not. Trust me, I’m making that car payment every single month.

Anyway, I have never loved a car as much as I love this car. In fact, I have kept the interior of this car clean since the day of purchase, and I have NEVER! EVER! done that. Ever.


Since I do mostly city driving, I love when I get an opportunity to take my car out on the highway and open it up, you know, go REALLY, REALLY fast but entirely within the speed limit, in case there are any police officers reading this.

I get comments from total strangers about this car, and about how it doesn’t “look like a Buick”. You know, just like in the commercials.


And the guys who work at my car wash LOVE ME. Err, my car.

It hasn’t always (ever?) been that way for Buick.

The brand has had some bouncing back to do, some reputation-alterations, since in the past Buick was thought of as a brand for the older/elder set. They’ve been working so hard on it, and I think they’re doing a great job. First there was that commercial (above).

Then, last week I was flipping through one of my magazines and I saw a new Buick ad that I thought was complete and total genius:

Buick blue hair ad

GENIUS. I think this satisfies all requirements of their image change, don’t you? It’s timely, brings the brand forward without trying to deny its past, it makes you look/think twice, and it’s fun.

Not to mention the fact that it makes me think happy thoughts about a couple of friends who rather enjoy sporting multicolored hair. (waves to Tabatha and Kendra)

We are overloaded on a daily basis with images and video, all trying to grab our attention for just a few seconds. I saw that ad last week and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. If that’s not a sign of brilliance in advertising, I don’t know what is. I’m really proud to be a card-carrying (car-driving!) member of the Buick family.

Here’s a question for you: have you seen any ads that have stuck in your brain lately because they were so well done? I want to see!


It’s A Very Brady Birthday

It’s my birthday today, and over the past couple of days I’ve put some thought into what I might want to write about this year…and came up completely empty. This is my eighth birthday blog post, and I feel like I’ve covered all of the angles already. I mean, how much can a person really write about her own birthday?

Then a friend, Erica, who I will now call “the Amazingly Wonderful and Hugely Tremendous Erica” whenever her name crosses my lips to infinity and beyond, did something really nice last night and unknowingly gave me the perfect gift. Make that two gifts; she gave me a gift AND the gift of something awesome to write about.

I was on Facebook when I noticed that the Amazingly Wonderful and Hugely Tremendous Erica was a guest at an event on the newest Princess Cruises ship, the Regal Princess. With Charo. And Christopher Knight, television’s Peter Brady.

When I saw the selfie that she took with Charo, I was, to quote the Facebook status I wrote about it, distracted. I was completely jealous. Happy for her OF COURSE, but totally insane with jealousy. “The Love Boat” was one of my very favorite shows when I was a kid. It’s why I (and probably most of television-watching America) wanted to go on a cruise. The thought of an event going on that included Charo and her “cuchi-cuchi” ON a cruise ship and my not being there killed me a little bit.

And then, Christopher Knight. I asked Erica to tell him that I love him. “The Brady Bunch” was probably my very first favorite show. In fact, it is STILL one of my favorite shows. I wrote about it a couple of years ago when I had the chance to see Susan Olsen and Mike Lookinland (Cindy and Bobby) in person at my local movie theater, but let me just recap how much I love those Bradys:

I have seen every episode multiple times and could probably perform them for you if you asked me nicely (and provided adult beverages).

I watched ALL of their other spin-off shows, including the variety hours, the animated “Brady Kids”, “The Brady Girls Get Married”, “The Brady Brides”, and “A Very Brady Christmas”. I EVEN watched the six-episode, 1990 dramedy series “The Bradys”, in which Marcia battled alcoholism (played by Leah Ayers because Maureen McCormick likely wasn’t all in on the storyline, and I have also always suspected that Eve Plumb–Jan–was in on the writing because that would’ve been great redemption for all that “Marcia Marcia Marcia” business) and Bobby, a race car driver, crashed and became a paraplegic but was cared for by his wife Tracey, played by MTV original VJ Martha Quinn.

(Yes, that really happened.)

I watched Maureen McCormick on “Celebrity Fit Club”, and I watched Christopher Knight’s reality show “My Fair Brady”, during which I (and probably most of television-watching America) predicted that his marriage to “America’s Next Top Model’s” Adrienne Curry would never last in a million years. (Sorry Chris. You were blinded.)

Currently on my bookshelf: Maureen McCormick’s “Here’s the Story” and Barry Williams’ “Growing Up Brady”.

Currently in my Hulu Plus queue: “The Brady Bunch”.

Currently in my Netflix queue: “The Brady Bunch Movie” and “The Brady Bunch in the White House”.

Need I say more?

So when I was pestering the Amazingly Wonderful and Hugely Tremendous Erica for details about who else was there and what she was doing, she was busy filming something that would make me lose my ever-loving mind:

My one hundred percent genuine-and-not-made-up-just-to-be-funny reaction was to start shrieking and crying. And sweating. On Facebook:

STFU!!! OMG *faints*




Wait, before I die, I LOVE YOU ERICA.

Okay, NOW I’m dead.

Do dead people cry? Because I’m crying.

Pass the tissues to this dead person.

I’m crying AND sweating.

And dead.

But still sweating. And crying.

I had heart palpitations until bedtime, and in fact I’m surprised I was able to sleep at all. I’m still sweating this morning, by the way, which will probably help me have a better workout.

Anyway, my life is pretty much made now that Chris Knight and Florence Henderson have been informed of my existence, and I’ll be riding this high (and wearing this idiotic, slightly scary grin) for a long time to come. Thank you so much, Amazingly Wonderful and Hugely Tremendous Erica! I love you!

It’s going to be a great birthday.