Family Tradition – The McLuxies

I love traditions.

Now that our children are grown and have children of their own, I love that our family traditions have created great memories and continue to keep us connected.

At this time of year our minds are focused on The McLuxies.

This tradition was started in 1992 with our dear pals Ellie and Archie. You can read more about it here and here.

Peter and I, our children and their spouses and Archie and Ellie all make predictions about world events taking place throughout the year. We keep a running score and the person with the most correct predictions at the end of the year is awarded with this fabulous trophy.

McLuxies Champion

Actually, for the first 21 years of the McLuxies, we did not have a trophy. The satisfaction of winning was the prize.

However, since the trophy came into play, my son-in-law, Jerry, has won every single year. Yes, he has accomplished an unprecedented 3-peat.

It’s time for that trophy to find a new home.

Please let me share with you my picks for the 2016 McLuxies:

NCAA Football champion – Clemson. (I came so close on this one…)

Super Bowl – Patriots defeat Panthers. The beautiful Tom Brady for the win.

Best Picture – Spotlight. I have seen a grand total of zero of the nominees but this film has gotten a lot of buzz and my pal, Katie Clooney, said it was very good.

NCAA Men’s Basketball – Oklahoma defeats Michigan State.

NCAA Women’s Basketball – Notre Dame defeats South Carolina. Go Lady Irish!

Masters Golf – Jason Day.

NBA Championship – Golden State defeats Cleveland. Sorry, LeBron.

Stanley Cup Winner – Stars defeat Capitals. But I’d be happy with a lost point and a Blackhawks victory.

Wimbledon Men – Djokovic

Wimbledon Women – Serena Williams. I would not bet against that gal!

Country with the most gold medals at the 2016 Summer Olympics – USA! USA!

Which college will Malia Obama attend in the fall? – Stanford. Thinking outside of the Ivy League box.

Best TV Drama – Empire. Never seen the show…

Best TV Comedy – Silicon Valley. Ditto.

World Series – Cubs defeat Red Sox. This is going to be the year, I just know it. Plus, The McLuxies have a “Cubs Clause”: if ever the Cubs actually DO win the World Series, anyone who predicted that win becomes automatic McLuxies champion of the year.

2016 Presidential Election – Hillary defeats Marco Rubio. I will skip any political commentary except to say just please, please, please no Trump.

People Magazine Sexiest Man Alive – Idris Elba.

Time Magazine Person of the Year – Hillary Clinton. This is one of the toughest categories to predict and we rarely get it right (although Archie did predict Angela Merkel in 2015 so hats off to Archie!). This year, 6 of the 8 of us picked Hillary. The other two selected Elon Musk and Donald Trump.

And finally, the tie-breaker….

Total gold medals won by the USA at the 2016 Summer Olympics – 44. My favorite number.

There you have it. What do you think? I’m going to take the trophy this year, right?

My predictions surely reflect the spirit of the McLuxies; the sentiment penned by my son Walt and spelled out in Latin on the base of the trophy.

McLuxies plaque

“Peritia, Fortuna Et Conjectura Temere”

Expertise, luck and random guesses.

In my case, mostly random guesses.

Want to play along? Send me your random guesses well thought out predictions and we will see how you do!

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Past And Future

We enjoyed an action packed weekend featuring a blast from the past and a look toward the future.

Our weather could only be described as glorious. Bright sunshine, temperatures in the low 70s – the kind of weather that earns San Diego their reputation for the perfect climate. Here in Chicago, because our weather is not so perfect, we celebrate these days and appreciate them greatly.

Glenview Methodist Pre School

On Saturday, my pals Peggy, Nora and I spent the afternoon at a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Glenview Methodist Pre-School, the warm, loving and nurturing place that our children spent their pre-school days.

There are three independent pre-schools in our town. Each of them, Glenview Methodist, St. David’s and Community are named after the church facility in which they are housed although none have a religious affiliation.

When our son, Walt, turned 2 1/2 he was ready to go. Peter and I did what we always do: let a friend (someone we trust completely) research the heck out of the subject then go along with what they choose.

Thanks to Peggy’s diligent investigation for her own children, Walt entered Glenview Methodist Pre-School in 1985. Our daughter, Annie, in 1988.

Nora, with six children, had a long tenure as a pre-school parent. She joked that by the time her youngest enrolled, she could have been the grandparent liaison to the much younger new parents. Fast forward to today, Nora’s grandson just started at Glenview Methodist Pre-School.

GMPS – the next generation.


GMPS hallway

Walking into the building on Saturday, I was brought back to those days, decades ago, when our life revolved around simple things like circle time and play-doh.

Our children spent many hours in happy classrooms like this being guided by warm and kind women, many of whom we got to reunite with at the party.

GMPS classroom

Way back in the day, I volunteered to be on the pre-school board. My first job was Newsletter Editor.

Sounds glamorous, right?

Please recall that this was a time long, long ago. Well before email and social media. I actually typed the newsletter on an electric typewriter then made copies at the local print shop.

Peter says that one of  his “fondest” memories from those days was enjoying the monthly ritual that went something like this.

Mo: type, type, type, type, type, type

Mo: “#*@!$%!!!!”

Mo: applies copious amounts of white-out to cover up the typing mistake

Mo: blows softly on white-out to dry it before continuing.

Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Seriously, I think it would have been quicker to have chipped the newsletter out on a stone tablet.

Taking pity on me, the board decided to move me out of that position and into the position of board president.

Because we had wonderful parents and teachers, this job was 99% easy. Yes, there were a few challenges but, after all, we weren’t trying to take over the world just provide a safe and loving environment for our kids.

Mission accomplished.

GMPS Anniversary party

The party was like old home week. I ran into a former neighbor, Mary Beth, who teaches at the pre-school.

One of the most important things I did as president was to convince Mary Beth to join the staff when we had a last minute opening just weeks before the start of the school year. That was probably in 1988 and she is still there.

I told her that I was very impressed, although not surprised. When this gal makes a commitment, she sticks with it!

GMPS party

It was a perfect afternoon spent celebrating this special little school and many of the wonderful folks who have kept the spirit alive for a half century.

Sunday morning found us up and at ’em very early heading to Lincoln Park for the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation 5k race.

MMRF team gathering

The team gathered to support this organization in honor of our dear friend who recently completed a successful round of treatment for this disease.

Our pal’s wonderful children did an amazing job of rallying the team, organizing our fund raising efforts and designing our team t-shirt.

MMRF walk

As a tribute to our honoree and her wonderful children, over 80 people signed up to walk or run. Many, many of those were 20-something friends of the children who participated to support their friends and because they adore our honoree.

Many others who were unable to attend the event, donated to the cause.

Team Schrammrock stepped up to the plate, helping to raise funds toward research and the development of more and more effective treatments for Multiple Myeloma.

Our goal: a bright future for our dear friend and all those affected by this disease.

team schrammrock

Go team!

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College Football

You may have noticed a bit of radio silence here last week. I was in Florida starting Phase One of

Operation: Move The Parents To Chicago

First Giuliana and Bill, then Mo and Peter and now Gee Gee and Doc. All the cool kids are moving to Chicago.

We are very, very excited about the prospect of having the folks living so close and we feel incredibly blessed because they are so enthusiastic about the move. Well, maybe not so much about the actual move – no one likes that part. But they are excited that we will be almost neighbors.

Stay tuned for future reports on our wacky escapades.

Immediately upon returning from Florida, Peter and I were off to lovely South Bend, Indiana.

A sure sign that summer is over: college football season begins.

Fighting Irish

Our dear pals, John and Ellen, own a vacation football season home in South Bend and are kind enough to accommodate our crew with their generous hospitality.

Other pals arrived on Saturday but Friday night we had Ellen and John all to ourselves. We toasted the start of football season by enjoying a bottle of Chimney Rock wine purchased during our group trip to Napa.

Chimney Rock

Bright, but not so early, Saturday morning we got ourselves organized to head over to campus.

John, Ellen and some of their neighbors host an epically awesome tailgate party before every home football game. The party has taken place in the same spot for many years.

However, this year there is some construction in progress that made part of their party location potentially unusable.

No worries, the hosts planned ahead and secured permission to forge ahead as usual.

Well….seems that the person giving permission maybe didn’t clear it with all the right folks creating quite a kerfuffle in the early morning hours of game day.

text, text, text

phone call, phone call, phone call

angst, angst, angst

Finally, a temporary stay was issued and we were able to carry on as planned.

I know. First world problems.

The weather for the day started out promising. Promising to be wicked hot and possibly rainy. By game time the forecasters predicted pleasant temperatures in spite of 1000% humidity.

We strolled over to campus taking the scenic route along the lake.

ND View from the lake

By the time we got halfway to the tailgate site, the skies opened up.

Peter and I took refuge in the library recalling the many hours spent doing homework and studying in the very same library during our time on campus. Obviously these were Peter’s memories and not mine.

ND library in the rain

Soon enough the skies cleared and the quads filled with fans. I must say that I was impressed by how many folks were sporting the burnt orange (?) of the University of Texas Longhorns.

ND game day

Many of these folks were, just like us, ducking into air conditioned buildings periodically to fend off heat stroke.

Peter and I spent most of the afternoon at Ellen & John’s tailgate party visiting with our pals including Clare & Cooper and, all the way from Texas, Arthur & Gwen.

I was certain I had taken pictures of the tailgate party but then I remembered that I was too busy hydrating and enjoying the best meatball sub EVER!

Finally, the time came to file into the stadium for our 7:45pm showdown against Texas.

Rumor has it that #1 UT fan, Matthew McConaughey, was in attendance at the game.

I’m certain he drove up in his Lincoln. Not because someone paid him to. Not to be cool or make a statement. Just because he liked it.

ND vs Texas

As you can see our seats were great: 50ish yard line and high enough up to see everything.

We had an excellent view of the scoreboard and the final score, as well.

ND vs Texas score

At the end of every game, after greeting the opposing team at midfield, the Notre Dame football team gathers at the corner of the stadium populated by the students to join their classmates in singing the alma mater.

ND players singing the alma mater

All students and alumni in the stadium lock arms, rock from side to side and sing our devotion to Our Lady, Notre Dame.

I’ve been doing this for 40 years and, I’m not exaggerating, I get teary-eyed EVERY.SINGLE.TIME.

Finally, it was time to walk back to John and Ellen’s house before we turned into pumpkins, looking way too much like the fans of our vanquished opponents.

And so ended the opening Notre Dame college football weekend of 2015.

Go Irish!

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Wines For A Girlfriends’ Getaway

As the saying goes, the one thing better than owning a yacht is having a friend who owns a yacht.

The same can be said for vacation homes.

And a friend’s vacation home is the perfect venue for a girlfriends’ getaway.

We arrived to see our chairs all set up by the pool. One for me, one for Belle, one for PJ and one for our hostess, Woody.


We were reminded that the routine here is: pajamas to swim suit to pajamas.

It doesn’t get more relaxing than that!

And what is the perfect beverage for an afternoon by the pool?

How about a Rosé of Pinot Noir?

Cyprus Rose of Pinot Noir

Our hostess introduced us to the 2014 Cyprus Rosé of Pinot Noir. From the Anderson Valley in Sonoma County, this crisp and delicious Rosé was the perfect late summer afternoon treat.

We also opened a bottle of The Valley Project 2013 Viognier.

The Valley Project Viognier

Also known as AVA Santa Barbara, this winery is a “must visit” part of the Urban Wine Trail in Santa Barbara. AVA Santa Barbara explores the different wines coming from the many microclimates throughout Santa Barbara County.

Viognier is a great food wine and a great white wine alternative for those who eschew Chardonnay. It offers a great balance of full body and low acidity.

Perfect with a yummy cheese platter!

cheese platter

One night we were treated to beef and chicken kabobs on the grill.

The wine we chose to pair with dinner was the 2007 Darioush Merlot.

2007 Darioush Merlot

(I’m glad that I’m no longer in a fight with Darioush because we have lots of their wine in our cellar and I want to enjoy them without a side of bitterness.)

Expressing dark fruits and a bit of smokiness, this Merlot was perfect with our savory kabobs.

Each night we played board games, including my favorite game of all time, Personal Preference.

Personal Preference

This fabulous game from the 80s challenges players to guess their opponents preferences in the categories food & drink, people, activities and potpourri. It’s no longer in print, but you can still find Personal Preference on eBay or Amazon.

For those of you who haven’t read the funny story about me trying to buy this game back in the day, here goes.

I was introduced to Personal Preference on a visit to my pal, Catherine. As soon as I returned home I was on a mission to find a copy of the game for myself.

Remember, this was 1980-something – WAY before Amazon, in fact even before the internet.

I had to make calls (on a telephone attached to the kitchen wall if you can imagine!) to track down my prize.

My first call was to a local store called Kroch & Brentano’s.  I tried them first because they were sort of a niche bookstore that carried some fancy pants, non-mainstream games.  No Milton Bradley, no Parker Brothers, but games like Broderbund, etc.  Anyway, this is how my phone conversation with the nice clerk went:

Me: Hello, I am calling to see if you carry the board game, Personal Preference.

Clerk:  I’m not familiar with that game. Can you tell me a little bit about it?

Me: It’s an adult specialty game.  (Yes, I actually said that.)

Clerk: (after a long and awkward silence) I’m sorry ma’am.  We don’t carry that type of game here.


Oh boy…

Sooooo, back to the wine.

Our hostess, Woody, loves Pinot Noir. Let me present the 2012 Penner-Ash Zena Crown Vineyard Pinot Noir.

2012 Penner Ash Pinot Noir

This single vineyard Pinot Noir from Oregon is very rich, fruity and spicy. Throw in a bit of chocolate and velvety floral notes and you have a definite winner.

There really is nothing like time spent with great girlfriends. Delicious food, great wine and the adult specialty game, Personal Preference, added to the success of our trip.

Indeed, if Clare, Zsa Zsa and Nora had been able to join us the visit would have been perfect!

wine glass half empty

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