My 2015 To Do List

Albert Einstein defined insanity as the act of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

By that definition, the idea of me making ANOTHER set of New Year’s resolutions is totally insane.

So I won’t.

But, a to do list is a completely different thing.

I love making to do lists. It’s so satisfying when you can check off a completed task. And I feel absolutely no pressure to finish everything on the list. If I did that, what would I have to carry over to my new list?!

So without further ado, and because the clock is ticking down on New Year’s Day, here’s what I came up with. My 2015 to do list.

15 in 2015

In 2015 I Will…
  1. Shower my grandsons with as many hugs and kisses as they will allow.
  2. Try new wines.
  3. Improve my knife skills. (For cooking not for surgery or being a ninja.)
  4. Learn HTML code. Also, hire someone to help me when I screw up the HTML.
  5. Attend at least three Notre Dame home football games. I would prefer victories if that’s ok.
  6. Visit Napa, Sonoma and Santa Barbara wine countries. (See #2)
  7. Sign up for French lessons.
  8. Pay it forward whenever I can.
  9. Read more. And I mean books, not People Magazine or TMZ.
  10. Become more active on Instagram (for Clare).
  11. Host not one but TWO wine tasting parties to make up for the fact that we skipped 2014.
  12. Wear my yoga pants for yoga and not just for grocery shopping.
  13. Make plans to meet – in person – some of the fabulous bloggers who have been so kind and supportive.
  14. MOVE BACK TO CHICAGO!
  15. Finally, and most importantly, take every opportunity to celebrate the blessings of family and friends. Nothing else matters without them, right?

Wishing you all a year filled with love and laughter, many more highs than lows, good health, good fortune and an abundance of blessings.

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Tradition And A Beddian Birthday

All the credit goes to Oprah.

 

Almost twenty years ago, when Miss O turned 40, she threw a slumber party for her girlfriends. I remember thinking that was the coolest idea and something I wanted to do.

Oprah’s version of the slumber party was to jet 40 of her closest friends to LA, put them up in suites at the Hotel Bel-Air then host them all in her bungalow (must have been quite some mega-bungalow) for a pajama party.

My version: invite two friends from high school and three friends from college (all turning 40 in the same year) to join me on a girls’ trip – Dutch treat.

For our 40th birthday trip we traveled to Nantucket and stayed at the legendary White Elephant Hotel. We spent four glorious days shopping, riding mopeds around the island, wining and dining and enjoying every minute.

A Tradition was born. We vowed to gather every five years to celebrate our “big” birthdays.

Five years later we headed to Las Vegas where Ellie was able to secure us an outrageously good deal on rooms at the Four Seasons.

The Four Seasons Las Vegas is the only non-gaming hotel on the strip. Although physically connected to the Mandalay Bay, the tiny Four Seasons is a peaceful and quiet oasis amid the flashing lights and constant dinging of the strip’s casinos.

Plus we saw John Mellencamp at the pool with his very tall, very beautiful (now ex) wife.

 

At 50 we went to Napa. As you might imagine, I planned that trip and loved every minute of it.

While in Napa we decided on the destination for our 55th birthday trip.

Grab your passports ladies, we are heading to Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

Except that we didn’t.

As tough as it was coordinating everyone’s schedules when our kids were young, we thought it would be easy-peasy when we were empty nesters.

Wrong.

Between weddings and graduations and super high power jobs with demanding schedules, our 55th birthday party happened two years late.

And it was in lovely Port Washington, Wisconsin, not Quebec City.

Still, as the saying goes, better late (and in a different location) than never.

The silver lining? Delaying our trip until 2014 meant we could celebrate our Beddian Birthday together.

Beddian Bithday

What is a Beddian Birthday, you ask?

A Golden Birthday is when the age you turn is the same as the day of the month on which your birthday falls. A Beddian Birthday happens when the age you turn is the same as the year in which you were born.

Shhhhh, don’t tell anyone, but our group was born in 1957 and we turned 57 this year. Pretty cool, eh?

57

The concept was first noted by a fireman named Bobby Beddia. You can read about him here.

Fun fact: Beddian Birthdays only occur in even numbered years.

Nerdy explanation: A Beddian Birthday is basically the result of a doubling of a number.

Born in 1957, turning 57.

57+57 = 2014

The sum of any two identical numbers is an even number. Therefore, a Beddian Birthday can only fall in an even numbered year and never in an odd numbered year.

Don’t you feel a tiny bit smarter now that you know that? Or bored out of your mind?

Stay tuned for a full report and pictures of our Beddian Birthday celebration in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

Or, as it will forever be known to us, The Quebec City of the Midwest.

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Update On The McLuxies

mcluxies hat

Every year since 1992 our family, along with our dear friends Ellie and Archie, have engaged in a little friendly competition involving predictions about a variety of happenings throughout the year.

We predict everything from the results of the Super Bowl to the choice for People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive.

The predictions, called The McLuxies, are recorded and locked in during early January then we all follow along throughout the year keeping score and doing a little smack talking.

You can read more about the McLuxies here.

Now that we are more than 3/4 of the way through the year, I thought I’d give you an update on the scores so far.

2014 McLuxies

2014 McLuxies Scoresheet

It’s a little hard to read the graphic so I’ll break it down for you:

Son-in-law Jerry, the 2013 defending champion, is in the lead with 12 points.

Next are Peter and our son, Walt with 10 points each.

Archie has 9 points.

There is a three-way tie at 8 points each for daughter Annie, daughter-in-law Lily and Ellie.

That leaves me in last place with a whopping 7 points.

Ouch.

Out of 26 possible points so far in 2014, I’ve managed to correctly predict only that:

  • Florida State wins the College Football National Championship
  • The Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks play in the Super Bowl (although I picked the wrong winner and only got 2 points)
  • Notre Dame plays in NCAA Women’s Basketball National Championship game (Go Irish! – but they lost 🙁 )
  • Someone named Kvitova wins the Wimbledom Women’s Singles Championship (My finest moment in this year’s competition and my luckiest guess.)
  • Argentina plays in the World Cup Finals
  • Breaking Bad wins the Emmy for Best Drama (Who didn’t see that coming? Ooops, I guess Peter and Lily who instead predicted Homeland and House of Cards, respectively.)

 

Now we are coming down to the final three categories: the World Series, People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive and Time Magazine’s Person of the Year.

The tie breaker – number of Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives after the mid-term elections (yes, we are nerds) – will be know after November 4th. Although it is unlikely to matter because I’m not sure that anyone can catch up to Jerry.

You see, between us, only two people still have a team in the running for the World Series so no one is picking up enough points there to challenge Jerry.

And the final two categories, Sexiest Man Alive and Person of the Year, are nearly impossible to predict, especially when you consider that we make our guesses in the very beginning of the year with no idea of what events might happen to shape those selections.

For instance, if I was picking Time Person of the Year today, I’d choose Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner ever and, as the title of her book says, “The Girl Who Stood Up For Education and Was Shot By The Taliban”.

 

Instead I predicted that “Gay Rights Activists” would get the nod from Time Magazine as the most important and influential person/people of the year. Not a bad prediction but still, my money is on Malala.

My very favorite remaining pick – and one that I feel pretty good about – is Jimmy Fallon as Sexiest Man Alive.

 

Right?

He’s adorable, hilarious, universally popular and a new daddy. I think he is a shoe-in.

I’ll take my point now, thank you.

And I’ll still be in last place.

Over the years I’ve become quite accustomed to, let’s say, not being in the lead in the McLuxies competition.

Still, I love this time of year as we enter the home stretch and the last few categories are waiting to reveal themselves.

So now I’m inviting you to play along with us for the rest of the year.

Who do YOU think will compete in the World Series (and who will win), who will be chosen as People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive and who will be named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year?

Leave your predictions in the comments and I will award a “major prize” to the person with the most points at the end of the year.

Now if you will excuse me, I’m going to go start doing my research for the 2015 McLuxies.

Next year is going to be my year, I just know it! And the Cubs will surely win the World Series.

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Making Predictions And Scoring Points

It’s that time again, the beginning of January, and you know what that means.

No, not New Year’s resolutions. Predictions – in the form of

The McLuxies

Every year since 1992, our family, along with our dear pals Ellie and Archie, have undertaken a friendly little competition in the form of predictions for the upcoming year.

For years we just called them “The Predictions” until Archie and Ellie came up with the brilliant name “McLuxies” incorporating parts of both families’ names.

We even have hats.

mcluxies hat

The Official Hat Of The McLuxies

Here’s how The McLuxies work.

We put together a list of topics like NBA Finals, Wimbeldon Champs, Academy Award for Best Picture and so on. Each of us makes our predictions and at the end of the year we see who got the most correct.

The categories are mostly sports, pop culture and politics (because we are all nerds).

In the case of something like The World Series or The Super Bowl, we each predict the two teams we think will be playing and who will win.  A whopping three points if you guess correctly!

In 1992 we started with a mere six categories. Hardly even a challenge. This year we will be making predictions in 18 different categories.

The very first McLuxies. The notation in the corner says "at Lux's 1/1/92".

The very first McLuxies. The notation in the corner says “at Lux’s 1/1/92”.
Many thanks to Ellie for her excellent archiving skills.

Since the first category to come up is the College Football National Champions, the deadline for submitting our guesses is Sunday night, the day before the BCS Championship Game.

Throughout the years we have changed and added categories, always making sure to hit the high points of a particular year. This year we will predict the winner of the World Cup in soccer and the country who wins the most gold medals in Socchi.

About nine years ago we added “Time Person Of The Year” to our list so that that the suspense carries through until late December.

Let me tell you, Time Person Of The Year and People’s Sexiest Man Alive are two tough categories to predict.  Annie picked Matt Damon for several years in a row, sticking with him until he finally got the nod as Sexiest Man Alive. She knew that Matt’s crowning was just a matter of time and she was not going to miss the boat.

One year Peter picked Oprah as Sexiest Man Alive (hilarious!) and Archie picked himself.

Ironically, that was the year the The Time Person Of The Year was “You” so Archie just named himself in the wrong category and sadly missed out on earning the point.

Over the years we have included predictions about:

  • The OJ Simpson trial
  • Whether or not President Clinton would be removed from office
  • If Microsoft would be split up or left alone as a giant monopoly (Annie’s prediction was “yes *especially with Bush as prez” )
  • The teams to be eliminated from Major League Baseball because they were apparently threatening to do that in 2002
  • Number of Supreme Court vacancies on 12/31/05
  • City announced as site of upcoming Olympics
  • Of the following who would be married on 12/31/06: Ben and Jen, Brad and Angelina, Brittany and Kevin, Tom and Katie
  • The party in control of the House of Representatives after the election
  • Number of electoral votes of the winner of the Presidential election
  • Number of countries that would bail from the European Union by 12/31/12
  • Number of viewers watching the Royal Wedding on TV – to the nearest hundred million
  • And, of course, the gender of the Royal Baby

The wackiest category I think we’ve had was in 2012 as an homage to the Mayans and Doomsday Preppers:

“Will the world end in 2012?”

We each got a point for that one, all correctly predicting that the world would, in fact, not end.

Because there is often a tie, we added a tie-breaker to the mix. This is always something involving a number (for example the combined weight of Walt and Lily’s twin babies at their last doctor’s appointment of the year).

Price Is Right rules apply. The person closest without going over wins the tie-breaker.

We have to be very, very specific about wording after a heated incident one year in which Peter and Walt had differing interpretations of what constituted a “cancellation due to a strike” causing one to be the winner and one to be in second place.

Not pretty.

There are also strict(ish) rules for when one can start taking part in the fun. Our daughter-in-law, Lily, had to wait until after she had married into the family to be eligible. We loosened the rules six years later when Jerry married Annie. He was able to participate once we got to the year in which they were to be married. Technicalities…

Jerry went on to win in his second year of participation. He was clearly taking notes and doing his homework from the sidelines. And/or got lucky.

Before we know it the twin babies will be taking part.

Annie was only six years old when the tradition started. For the first couple of years she would fill in her predictions last, cherry picking from everyone else’s lists to come up with her own.

The year she turned eight we were all gathered around on New Year’s Day filling out the sheet when Ellie noticed that Annie had filled her column in before most of the rest of us. She was no longer taking “suggestions”.

When Ellie asked Annie about this turn of events, Annie replied, “I’m eight years old. I know how the world works.”

That’s my girl!

So what is the McLuxies Grand Prize you ask?

What fabulous trophy goes to the person who, with almost psychic-like precision, can predict the outcome of so many of the year’s events?

The prize is:

Nothing – nada – zilch.

Simply the opportunity to have bragging rights over the rest of the group is prize enough.

Really.

Until we get a corporate sponsorship, then we are looking forward to a big, big cash prize.

The 2014 McLuxies Now we are very high-tech distributing the form on Google Docs.

The 2014 McLuxies
Now we are very high-tech. Annie prepares and distributes the form on Google Docs.

In 1992 when we started “The Predictions”, we all lived in Chicago.

What were the chances that Ellie and I, who met in high school in Florida, would both someday be living in Chicago? It was a fun and fabulous time. My kids had the opportunity to form warm relationships and create lasting memories with Ellie and Archie for many wonderful years until job changes sent us in different directions.

Although none of us quite remember how we came up with the idea, The McLuxies has been a fun and fabulous way to stay connected during the years as we track everyone’s progress.

We may not get to spend as much time with Ellie and Archie as we did during those magical years in Chicago, but we know we will all touch base at least 18 times this year as each of the McLuxies categories is decided.

And that is pretty darn awesome even if I don’t earn a single point.

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