Traditions And Prognostications – The McLuxies

I love traditions.

As some of you know, among our family’s traditions, my very favorite is

The McLuxies

Way back in 1992, our pal, Ellie, came up with the idea of a prognostication competition in which we would predict the outcome of a series of events during the year and whoever had the highest number of correct predictions at the end of the year would be declared the winner.

the first McLuxies

The very first McLuxies. The notation in the corner says “at Lux’s 1/1/92”.

As you can see on this very low-tech scoresheet, that first year we predicted only 4 categories: Super Bowl, World Series, Presidential election (ironically, the other “Clinton” was running that year) and the Academy Award for Best Picture.

Every year since 1992, Ellie and her husband, Archie, Peter and I, and our two children have made predictions and kept score. Along the way, our children have gotten married and their spouses joined in on the competition.

Like all good traditions, this one needed a name. Ellie, creating a mash-up of our surnames, coined the moniker “McLuxies”.

We even have hats.

McLuxies Hat

For many years the winner got nothing more that a feeling of moral and intellectually superiority.

Now we have a trophy.

McLuxies Champion

Please note the plaque on the front bearing our motto:

“Peritia, Fortuna, et Conjectura Temere”

Loosely translated: “Expertise, Luck, and Random Guesses”.

As we’ve gone along, our list of predictions has grown. We have permanently added:

  • NCAA Football Champions
  • NCAA Women’s and Men’s Basketball Champions
  • Master’s Golf Tournament Winner
  • Stanley Cup Champion
  • NBA Champion
  • Wimbledon Winner – Women’s and Men’s
  • Best TV Drama
  • Best TV Comedy
  • World Series Winner
  • People’s Sexiest Man Alive
  • Time Person of the Year

Heavy on sports and pop culture; light on anything really meaningful.

Over the years, however, the McLuxies have been a way to chronicle important, historic or iconic events.

In addition to the list of permanent categories, we have made random guesses about things like:

  • Gender of the Royal baby (more than once)
  • The O.J. Simpson verdict
  • The Clinton impeachment
  • Will Microsoft be in one piece? (I guess that was something about a monopoly???)
  • Major League Baseball teams to be eliminated
  • Combined weight of our twin grandsons, Chip and Dale at their final doctor’s appointment of the year
  • Dow Jones year ending number
  • What college will Malia Obama choose?
  • Number of Supreme Court vacancies at the end of the year
  • Post-election party in control of the House of Representatives
  • Married or not at the end of the year: Tom/Katie, Brad/Angelina, Britney/Kevin, Ben/Jen
  • “Number of countries that will have indicated their intent to withdraw the Euro as their official currency by year-end” (Nerd alert… Although you probably thought that the nerd ship sailed with the “number of Supreme Court vacancies” or “post-election party in control” questions.)

In Olympic, election and World Cup soccer years those are added to the list.

In 2012 we predicted whether the Mayan calendar was right or wrong.

“Will the world come to an end this year?” Spoiler alert: the correct prediction was “no”.

2016 McLuxies

Thanks to Annie our tradition has gone high-tech with our McLuxies google doc.

The 2016 McLuxies have some interesting aspects to them.

For years and years and years, we have had what we call “The Cubs Clause”.

The Cubs Clause states that if a person picks the Chicago Cubs to win the World Series and they actually do, that person automatically wins the McLuxies championship for the year. Game, set, match.

The Cubs Clause was created so that sentimental schmucks like me wouldn’t feel so bad about throwing away a point predicting a Cubs victory year after year after year.

Well, you might know that this year the curse has ended – the goat is gone – the Cubs are in the World Series.

We still have a long way to go but if by some wild chance, the Cubs pull this off and actually WIN the World Series, The Cubs Clause will kick in.

And, the six of us who predicted a Cubs victory will share the McLuxies trophy.

Go Cubs Go

Given that all predictions are locked in place during the first week of January, it’s quite remarkable that Jerry foresaw the Trump vs Clinton presidential matchup.

The Time Person of the Year is generally close to impossible to predict. But, this year six of us have guessed that, if she is elected as the first woman President in U.S. History, Hillary Clinton should find herself on the cover of Time Magazine.

Keeping in mind that Time Person of the Year is someone who has had the biggest impact on society – good or bad (past recipients include Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin(twice), Ayatollah Khomeini and Vladimir Putin), other strong contenders would be Donald Trump (son-in-law Jerry’s prediction) or Julian Assange/WikiLeaks.

My first choice would be, of course, that the Cubs emerge victorious and Time Person(s) of the Year are Theo Epstein and Joe Maddon.

But what do I know? It’s all just a bunch of conjectura temere, right?


“Who I Am” is a writing project hosted by Dana from Kiss My List and Bev from Linkouture.

Each month we are given a prompt regarding some aspect of our life. The goal is, at the end of the year, to have twelve chapters in the book titled Who I Am.

This month, Chapter 10, the theme is Traditions.

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Memories Of School Days

Throughout my educational career, I always thought it was better to be tardy than absent. It is in that spirit that I am finally posting Chapter 9 of the Who I Am project.

“Who I Am” is a writing project hosted by Dana from Kiss My List and Bev from Linkouture.

Each month we are given a prompt regarding some aspect of our life. The goal is, at the end of the year, to have twelve chapters in the book titled Who I Am.

This month’s theme:

School Days

It occurs to me that most of what we learned in school – facts, rules, theories, skills – are deeply embedded in our brain, stored like countless library books on the shelves.

But then we also have other tales from our school days – people and experiences – which stand out in our minds as special and particularly memorable.

I may not remember the exact moment I conquered cursive writing or learned to diagram a sentence but I do remember…

“Plasmodium causes malaria.” – the mantra of my high school biology teacher, Ms. Harrell and the source of all my plasmodium themed nightmares.

“The Statute of Frauds has nothing to do with fraud.” – the mantra of my business law professor, one crotchety old Professor Eagan.

After weeks of having this drilled into our heads, the Statute of Frauds was the subject of an essay question on our first exam of the semester. That particular day was the one and only time I overslept in college, arriving at the 8am exam a half-hour late and very flustered. Eyeing the exam question, my mind instantly went blank. I proceeded to write paragraph upon paragraph about fraud – as in “The Statute of Frauds has EVERYTHING to do with FRAUD!”. Needless to say, I got zero points for that question.

The silver lining was that I had made a bet on the results of that exam with a cute guy in my class. I lost the bet and he took me out to dinner and now we have been married for 36 years.

By the way, because I know you are dying to know…

Statute of Frauds

As you can see, the word “fraud” appears nowhere in the definition. My bad.

Being a Milk Monitor – The responsibility of delivering just the right number of individual cartons of milk to each classroom is serious stuff. This job had all the prestige of being a crossing guard without the uncomfortable worry of protecting fellow students’ lives.

Stopping off for candy before school  – My sister and I used to stop at Mr. Patrick’s Store, a little, old-time general store on the way to school. We would pick out five or ten cents worth of penny candy to have as our treat after school. (OMG I really sound old.)

This lovely tradition was revived when I was in high school and my pals and I would stop at 7-11 for candy as we drove to school. Ellie and I, in particular, favored Atomic Fireballs.

Atomic Fireballs

The SRA Reading Comprehension Program – Does anyone else remember this? It came in a big box full of color coded cards. Students would pull out a card, read the passage and then answer questions about what they read. A passing score on enough cards in one level would allow the student to progress to the next color. A reading race through the rainbow!

My fabulous high school French teacher, Madame Bayer. It wasn’t until years later that we realized Madame Bayer and her husband, Coach Bayer, as brand new teachers, were only a few years older than us. Prime evidence of how much one matures between high school and college.

My not-so-great, “he who shall not be named”, high school history teacher. I remember nothing from that class other than how terrible it was.

It is no surprise that throughout my adult life I’ve had much more of a passion for the French language and culture than I have had for history. Teachers can make all the difference, right?

State Capitals – I don’t necessarily remember all of the state capitals but I do remember the contest to master the entire list thereby getting your name on the State Capital Honor Roll and earning a candy bar.

It seems that candy is a recurring theme throughout my school days memories.

US Capital Map

Getting off at the wrong bus stop  – Mostly what I learned from that experience was that it is much more terrifying for the mom than it is for the wayward child.

Home Economics Class – I vividly remember the taste of the first tuna noodle casserole (with potato chip topping, of course) made in the cooking rotation and the immense feeling of accomplishment as I completed my multi-color, floral romper in the sewing rotation.

If only Top Chef and Project Runway had been around then I could have been a reality star rather than an accountant.

Tuck-Aways – Invented by my mom, tuck-aways are kisses tucked into one’s pockets or under a collar, carried through the school days to be pulled out for comfort as needed to fend off sadness, loneliness, or fear.

They help a lot when you get off at the wrong bus stop. Or oversleep your alarm on exam day.

I could go on and on but now I’m interested in hearing from you.

What memorable people or experiences stand out from your school days?

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Joy To My World – “Who I Am” Chapter 8

After previously posting a list of my pet peeves, it is only right to give equal time to the things that bring me joy.

You’ve heard me say it before, I’m a lucky gal. Pathologically optimistic, I take great pleasure in celebrating life’s gifts.

Certainly, it goes without saying that it is the people in my life who bring me the greatest happiness. Experiences shared with these folks bring a kaleidoscope of color to my days and fill my heart with delight.

With grateful appreciation for the life I live, here are some things that add joy to my world:

Every single second spent with my grandchildren. Snuggling with them, listening to them tell stories and laugh, reading to them and hearing those oh-so-magical words, “I love you, Momo.” – means the world to me.

I could easily end my list of joys with that but it would be a pretty short post so I will carry on.

A perfectly cooked steak accompanied by a fabulous Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. (You knew wine would be on the list, right?)

Outdoor firepits – especially the one on this beautiful deck in Montana.

Montana fire pit brings joy

Football season.  I particularly enjoy college football (including tailgating) but will happily while away hours watching the pro games, too.

Amazon Prime. I consider this to be Jeff Bezos’s gift to procrastinators and those needing instant gratification. Guilty and guilty.

Blogging. I love writing and reading. I love figuring out the technical stuff and design. But ask just about any blogger and they will agree that the community – the people we meet both virtually and in real life – is the very best part of blogging.

Disney World – the happiest place on Earth and the site of so many wonderful family memories.

Disney World Cinderella's Castle

Pizza – my favorites being a Chicago deep dish pizza with green olives or a crispy thin crust with pepperoni and pineapple.

Dining al fresco in a world without mosquitos, flies or bees. I must admit, this is one thing I miss about living in San Diego.

Game night. My favorite board game: Personal Preference. Please visit here to read about the time I called a store looking for this perfectly innocent, “get to know your friends and family” game and, to the horror of the store clerk, called it “an adult specialty game”.

board games

My new computer. She is beautiful and lightning fast. The old one put up a gallant effort after its full-scale crash but was just never the same. Now the old guy is resting comfortably in the closet of electronics to be recycled and is no longer living under the threat of being smashed with a hammer.

A fresh blanket of snow on the ground with a bright blue sky up above. I know people think we were crazy to leave San Diego to return to Chicago but I really, truly love winter.

Thanksgiving and all the trimmings. You gotta love a holiday that solely revolves around sharing food. Also, there are the leftovers.

My house. There’s no place like home.

home

A basket of warm bread on a restaurant table. And if that warm bread is sourdough? Pure bliss.

On a related note, a warm sweatshirt or towel just out of the dryer.

Excellent customer service. It’s not that hard. Why do some companies treat their customers like adversaries rather than the lifeblood of their business? Mutual respect is a good start.

Snail mail of the handwritten kind.

The Golden Dome.

The Golden Dome

The calming sound of waves on the shore. Of course, for me, this must be experienced under the cover of a slathering of sunscreen and a giant hat. As my daughter says, we Irish are an indoor tribe.

Thoughtfulness, generosity, and appreciation.

The Star Spangled Banner and a flyover. Brings both joy and tears.

Time spent at a winery. My favorite vacation with family is to Disney World. My favorite vacation with friends is wine tasting.

Winderlea winery

Christmas carols – mostly the classics, not the one about Mama needing shoes in heaven.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band in concert.

Springsteen concert

Going to the movies. A matinee rom-com and a bucket of popcorn (with butter if I’m being honest) is how I spell “A perfect afternoon”.

Pay it forward at Starbucks. Either as a giver or receiver, this random act of kindness makes me happy.

Kindness in any form. I’m a strong believer in the power of kindness to soften hearts and minds and the power of kindness to heal the world.

But what else would you expect from a pathological optimist?

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.

What about you? What places, experiences, and things bring joy to your life?


 

Throughout 2016, I am participating in the “Who I Am” project which is the brainchild of Dana from Kiss My List and Bev from Linkouture.

The purpose of the project is to give participants an opportunity to record the story of their life – for themselves, for their children, or just because.

There is still time to join in the fun. Click here to get the monthly prompts.

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Reluctant Accountant And PakOPerks

I’ve always described myself as a reluctant accountant.

I chose accounting as my major in college without any clue about what a job in the field would entail. I just knew I liked to work with numbers but calculus threatened to make my head explode.

After barely passing the CPA exam, I set off into the exciting and glamorous world of accounting.

Accounting is not what you’d call a creative field. In fact, there are laws against “creative accounting”. Interesting, fascinating laws!

Sleeping

 

I’ve worked for big firms and small firms, full-time at the start, and then part-time after my first child was born.

When my second child came along, I decided to hang up my own shingle and work from home.

Anyone who says working from home is easy has never done it.

The low point in both my accounting career and my career as a parent came one day when I had to call a client about some very important matter regarding their financial situation.

Of course, this was back before cell phones, before even cordless phones so I was tethered to the wall in the kitchen.

Baby girl was napping; big brother was playing quietly in the living room.

Playing quietly, that is, until he noticed that I was on the phone.

We’ve all experienced this, right?

My adorable son started squawking and demanding my attention while standing behind the Lazy Boy in the living room, just out of the reach of my telephone cord.

I’m not proud of what happened next.

Folks, I grabbed a package of Oreos from the pantry and started tossing them to my son as though they were fish and he was a performing sea lion.

cookies

It quieted him down – until the sugar rush kicked in.

Not my finest moment.

Well, maybe that working-from-home thing didn’t pan out for me but I loved the idea of having my own business.

So, while biding my time as a reluctant accountant I brainstormed ideas for entrepreneurial success.

Eventually, I came up with an idea. I researched, roughed out a business plan, researched some more, sent out a survey to potential clients, and researched even more.

One day my (now much older, Oreo eating) son said to me, “Are you going to spend the rest of your life thinking about starting a business or are you actually going to do it.”

Boom! Wise words from a wise fellow.

I took the leap and PakOPerks was born.

PakOPerks

The logo was designed by my pal, Archie. You can see that I borrowed from the PakOPerks look when designing the logo for Mocadeaux.

PakOPerks was geared toward vacation rental properties. We had, over the years, rented vacation homes and were always surprised at how few amenities were provided. Hotels give guests shampoo, soap and even coffee. Most vacation rental spots give nothing.

My idea was to allow property managers to pick and choose from a variety of “perks” to include in welcome gifts customized for their guests and their location.

We offered items like shampoo, sunscreen, laundry detergent, dish soap, coffee, tea, nuts, biscotti, playing cards and yes, even Oreos.

PakOPerks

The packs could be as big or as small as desired. Each was individually packaged in gift bags to be given to guests upon check-in.

During the life of this business, we sent many thousands of these gift bags to customers all over the country. From Myrtle Beach to Jackson Hole, from Palm Springs to Cape Cod, PakOPerks greeted guests and gave them a “starter kit” for their vacation needs.

But alas, all good things must come to an end.

Although, for a variety of reasons, I eventually had to close PakOPerks, I was proud that my little business had been as successful as it was.

While accounting has been good to me over the years, it was the time I spent working on PakOPerks that made my heart sing.

Reluctant accountant; enthusiastic entrepreneur.


This post is the 7th chapter in the “Who I Am” project. This month’s topic: jobs I’ve had. The post was supposed to be done weeks ago but do you have any idea how tough it is to write an entertaining post about accounting?!?!

Please head over to Kiss My List where Dana has links to other stories.

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