Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Favorite Moments of 2008

After reading Ellen of the Tenth's favorite moments of 2008, I have been inspired to reflect on the year and write my own. Like the sexy men post, these are in no particular order.

Certainly no "favorite moments" post would be complete without mentioning November 4, 2008. I've never been so proud to vote in my life. It was a sunny day and I felt hopeful from the moment I woke up. Standing in line, waiting to vote for now President-elect Barack Obama, I was proud to be American. (Note: This was not the first time I was proud, but it's a moment of pride that stands out.) I was proud that we have a tradition of orderly change of power in our country. I was proud of where we'd come since Martin Luther King stood at the Lincoln Memorial telling the world of his dream. And even though the candidate was African-American (and in spite of Sarah Palin on the GOP ticket), I felt, for the first time, that it's possible for a woman to become President in my lifetime. The soundtrack I heard in my head all day was inspiring.

Fast forward a few hours when I was standing in Grant Park with my dear friends Tim, Tony, and Colleen and we were part of history. We weren't close to the stage and we couldn't see anything not broadcast on the jumbotron, but we were there. We were there when Barack won the presidency. And damn I was proud. My heart was overflowing with joy and I don't think I ever got to sleep that night.

This year I also went back in the water at Watervale. I got over my fear of kayaking and faced the icy waters of Lake Michigan like a woman. My brother Dave pushes me out of my comfort zone and I'm always a better woman for it.

2008 also brought me quite a bit of professional success. I was selected to join the Board of Directors of the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce and asked to be the co-chair of the Professional Women's Council. Being introduced to the Professional Women's Council as the co-chair for 2009 (and the chairwoman for 2010) was a moment of pride I'll never forget. And I'm sure it will be the same when I'm inducted to the Chamber Board in front of the entire Chamber in January.

For the second year in a row, I was #1 in sales in my area in Mary Kay. I was also named Miss Go Give, again for the second year in a row, in our area. This is a really big deal and the highest award in all of Mary Kay. The Miss Go Give Award is awarded to the consultant who most emulates Mary Kay's principles of working by the Golden Rule, and caring and sharing through her business.

Early in 2008 I was asked to join the Alumni Board at Lake Forest College. I remember when that phone call came, I really felt like I'd "made it." I remember being a college student there and feeling very much like an outsider. I received a ton of financial aid and it seemed like everyone else was from an uber-wealthy family and attended boarding school. I was never quite sure I belonged there, even though I had a great experience and made some of the best friends I've ever known. My education and lessons I learned at Lake Forest College have served me well and now through my service on the Alumni Board, I am able to give back in ways other than just writing a check.

As part of my volunteer work for the College, I was the chairwoman of my 15th Year Reunion Committee. Our reunion was in October and a huge success. I remember standing in the back of the almost over-crowded room watching people reminiscing, renewing old friendships, and making new ones. Yes, I had a committee and they worked hard. But I know that my leadership played a huge part in the success of the night. I'd be lying if I said that night wasn't a favorite moment of 2008.

Finally, after all the writing I've done about it, probably my favorite moment of the year was "my book." Well, okay, it wasn't MY book, exactly. But I did have a small (very small) part in The Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer. I loved that he mentioned me in the Acknowledgments, which was a huge surprise. And then when Brad was in Chicago on his book tour, he called my mom to wish her a happy birthday as he signed a book for her. She's a huge fan of his and was really touched that he personally called her.

As we move into 2009, I am filled with hope that President Obama will lead us into better economic times before millions more people lose their jobs and homes. I am hopeful that we are able to finally provide all Americans will equal rights in every area of their lives and that healthcare becomes a right and ceases to be a privilege. I am hopeful that as a nation, we will come together and support our new president and that the hatred will subside. Personally, I'm hopeful that my business continues to thrive and that Mr. Right and I finally meet.

Here's to 2009.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

You Probably Think This Post Is About You

Apologies to Carly Simon, but when I told four five of my guy friends (one even sent me his resume to prove his hotness!) I was writing a blog post about sexy men, they each said, "Oh, thanks for writing about me!" and the title of this post was born.

My new blog friend Fonzie Sox has a wonderfully exciting post about the celebrities she is crushing on and would like to get to know better, if you know what I mean. :)

That has inspired me to create my own Top 25 List of Celebs I'd Like to Know. And by "know" I mean do very x-rated things with. Hey, a girl's gotta have goals!

Hopefully this list will warm us all up on this cold winter Sunday.

With no further ado, here they are in no particular order.

John F. Kennedy, Jr., 1960-1999
Nana used to send me clippings about JFK, Jr. when he was single and I was living in DC. She seemed to want me to marry him. Probably a good thing I didn't.

President-Elect Barack Obama
It may be inappropriate to lust after our President-elect, but I don't care. Just look at him. Off the charts smart. Smokin' hot body and face. Great with kids. And powerful. Yep, that's the complete package.

Michael Jordan
I mean, seriously, take a look at those hands. You know what they say about a man with big hands!
He's so hot, he needs two pictures.

Jake Ryan from Sixteen Candles
My high school boyfriend looked a lot like Jake. Lucky me.

Ryne Sandberg
I could certainly do worse than a Hall of Fame Second Baseman. I obviously have a thing for Chicago athletes who wear #23.

Vince Vaughn
He's such a boy next door. Plus he's got the funny thing going on.

Brad Meltzer
Okay, I'll admit, Brad almost didn't make the list. Not because he's not sexy. He is clearly sexy. But Brad's a friend of mine and that made it a little weird. But he's famous and sexy and that was the criteria. His sex appeal comes from his brilliance and being an all-around good guy. A guy who believes we all have a responsibility to give back is sexy.

Bradley Whitford as Josh Lyman.
Well, okay, anytime really. But seriously, Josh Lyman has it all.

Rob Lowe
As Sam Seaborn in The West Wing, Rob was almost irresitible. But as Robert McCallister on Brothers and Sisters, ABC is must-see-tv on Sundays.

Anderson Cooper
Okay, sure, I've heard the rumors that Anderson doesn't play for my team, but that's okay. I can still lust.

Jimmy Smits
Sorry, Kelly, I had to crop you out of this picture at the 1997 Clinton Inaugural Ball.

The late great Paul Newman, 1925-2008

Robert Redford

George Stephanopolous
Another hottie Nana used to send me clippings about and wanted me to marry. He actually had a condo in the same building as my friend Kelly in DC, but I never ran into him, as hard as I tried.

Daniel Radcliffe
Oh my, has Harry Potter grown up!

Nate Berkus
Nate was another one I was unsure about putting on the list because I was his RA in college and personally know him. I have had the great pleasure of seeing him in boxers. Again, it's a shame Nate doesn't play for my team, but that doesn't mean I can't lust.

Prince William
Is there anything sexier than a man with a great body who knows how to use tools AND works shirtless?

Jon Bon Jovi
I've been lusting after Jon Bon Jovi since I was a teenager. He's aged quite well. And that sultry voice. Oh my.

Rick Springfield
Even in his 50s, Rick looks fine without his shirt.

Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing

John Cusack in Serendipity or Say Anything

Patrick Dempsey
I'd really like to play doctor with him. Next time I need a physical, I'm calling Dr. McDreamy.

Matt Damon

Owen Wilson
I can't really explain this one, but damn he's fine.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Pat Robertson Loves Barack???

Well, this explains why it's so damn cold in Chicago. Hell has officially frozen over.

Crazy Evangelical and Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson gives Bush a "C-" and then goes on to say he had "grave misgivings" about Obama, but is "remarkably pleased" with Obama" and believes "he has the makings of a great President."

It's a true Christmas miracle.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Twas The Night Before Christmas

This has always been one of my favorite poems going back longer than I can remember. In fact, my parents like to tell the story about how I used to make them read this to me over and over and over again every night, even when it wasn't Christmas. I loved books long before I could read. One night, when I was about 2, my parents heard me in my room talking to myself. When they walked in, they discovered I was sitting on my bed with my Twas the Night Before Christmas book, reading aloud, and turning the pages appropriately. They were convinced I was an uber-genius and had learned to read at the precocious age of 2, until they realized that they'd read me the poem so many times I had memorized it!

Without further ado . . .

Twas the Night Before Christmas
(also called "A Visit from St. Nicholas)
by Clement Clarke Moore

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Oh My! Obama!

This is what I like to see first thing in the morning with a cup of coffee and the newspaper. It definitely filled me with hope or something like that.

Monday, December 22, 2008

1st Annual Little Merry Sunshine Holiday Gift Guide aka Little Merry Sunshine's Favorite Things

Here at Little Merry Sunshine, we are completely in the Holiday Spirit and are overrun with little elves named Betsey and Ross scampering around to put the finishing touches on all of our Christmas gifts.

But I know that many of you do not have the vast staff I have and have not even started your holiday shopping, even though you've only got 2 days left until Christmas. As my gift to you, I have compiled a list of my Favorite Things a la Oprah's Favorite Things perfect for all your gift giving needs (unless you're shopping for me, in which case you should refer to this list).

Without further ado, Little Merry Sunshine's Holiday Gift Guide . . .

Do you know women or men insecure about the hair down there? Do you get sick and tired with your hook-ups commenting "Huh, I thought you were a natural blonde?" With Betty Beauty, you will be the only one to know you're not truly a natural blonde! Or you can surprise your one-night stand with one of the many on-trend colors including hot pink and blue! And what says you're feeling holiday festive more than a red and green Betty? Over 150,000 satisfied clients!

Is your Dad a golf fanatic? Do you find yourself a golf widow wishing her man or woman was at home rather than pissing away another Saturday on the course? Have you found that with the recession, the golfer you love can no longer afford to play golf every weekend? Give the golfer in your life the Potty Putter for hours of fun!

This year, like no other before it, eco-friendly gifts are all the rage. No one wants to increase their carbon footprint, yet we all want to give personalized, one-of-a-kind gifts. Luckily, the Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington, Illinois has come to our rescue with their Reindeer Dung Christmas Ornaments!

Are you tired of your bananas getting crushed in your briefcase? With the Banana Bunker that problem is solved forever!

For the multitasking guy in your life, you'll want to give him the Weener Kleener! One size fits most.

If you're the kind of person who likes their gifts to live into eternity, I'd recommend naming a newly discovered bat species after your loved one. Nothing quite says "I love you" like naming a flying rodent after someone.

Help build your partner's ego with the new Condometric - The Measuring Tape Condom!

Finally, no list of favorite gifts would be complete without a gift from the Queen of Favorite Things herself - Oprah Winfrey. Therefore, Little Merry Sunshine is pleased to suggest the Oprah Snow Globe.

I'm certain that any of these gifts would be greatly appreciated (but not by me). Merry Christmas & Happy Shopping!

Let's End Poverty This Christmas

I just read this on the Huffington Post and was about moved to tears. No matter how little we have (or more accurately, we think we have), there are millions of people in the United States and even more around the world, with far less.

A Christmas Prayer to End Poverty in our Time
by Marion Wright Edelman in the Huffington Post

As 2.1 billion Christians in our world prepare to celebrate the birth of the most famous poor baby in history, I hope they and all peoples will commit to helping all the poor babies in our rich nation and world find a place in our hearts and at our tables of plenty. At a time when the gap between rich and poor in our nation and the world is at its widest ever, an economic downturn driven by the greed of a few has jeopardized the lives and economic security of all of us. I hope we will all raise a mighty voice to reset our nation's moral and economic compass.

God help us to end poverty in our time.
The poverty of having a child with too little to eat and no place to sleep, no air, sunlight and space to breathe, bask and grow.
The poverty of watching your child suffer and get sicker and sicker and not knowing what to do or how to get help because you don't have a car or health insurance.
The poverty of working your fingers to the bone every day taking care of someone else's children and neglecting your own, and still not being able to pay your bills.
The poverty of having a job that does not let you afford a stable place to live and being terrified
you'll become homeless and lose your children to foster care.
The poverty of losing your job because you cannot find reliable child care or transportation to work.
The poverty of working all your life caring for others and having to start all over again caring for the grandchildren you love.
The poverty of earning a college degree, having children, opening a child care center, and taking home $300 a week or month if you're lucky.
The poverty of loneliness and isolation and alienation--having no one to call or visit, tell you where to get help, assist you in getting it, or care if you're living or dead.
The poverty of having too much and sharing too little and having the burden of nothing to carry.
The poverty of convenient blindness and deafness and indifference to others, of emptiness and enslavement to things, drugs, power, violence and fleeting fame.
The poverty of low aim and paltry purpose, weak will and tiny vision, big meetings and small action, loud talk and sullen grudging service.
The poverty of believing in nothing, standing for nothing, sharing nothing, sacrificing nothing, struggling for nothing.
The poverty of pride and ingratitude for God's gifts of life and children and family and freedom
and country and not wanting for others what you want for yourself.
The poverty of greed for more and more and more, ignoring, blaming and exploiting the needy, and taking from the weak to please the strong.
The poverty of addiction to drugs, to drink, to work, to self, to the status quo and to injustice.
The poverty of fear that keeps you from doing the thing you think is right.
The poverty of despair and cynicism.

God help us end poverty in our time in all its faces and places, young and old, rural, urban,
suburban and small town too, and in every color of humans You have made everywhere.
God help us to end poverty in our time in all its guises--inside and out--physical and spiritual,
so that all our and Your children may live the lives that you intend.

Marian Wright Edelman, whose latest book is The Sea Is So Wide And My Boat Is So Small: Charting a Course for the Next Generation, is president of the Children's Defense Fund.

Wanna Go To Florida for Christmas?

Are you thinking about escaping this frigid Chicago winter for the sunny beaches of Florida for Christmas? You think it's too late to get decent fares, don't you?

But it's not! It's not too late!

Travelocity can get you to and from O'Hare to Tampa International Airport for less than $300 if flying on Christmas isn't a problem.

Here's your itinerary between O'Hare and Tampa:

Leave for Florida:
Thu, Dec 25, 2008
Depart: 9:35am from Chicago O'Hare (ORD)
Arrive: 12:38pm in Philadelphia, PA (PHL)
US Airways Flight 1005 (on Airbus A321-100/200)

Connection Time: 3 hrs 12 mins
1 Stop – change planes in Philadelphia, PA (PHL)

Depart: 3:50pm from Philadelphia, PA (PHL)
Arrive: 6:30pm in Tampa, FL (TPA)
US Airways Flight 711 (on Airbus A319)

Total Travel Time: 7 hrs 55 mins

You'd better plan your time in Florida wisely because you've got to on your flight back to Chicago pretty quickly. You might not have time to get to Disney.

Return to Chicago:
Thu, Dec 25, 2008
Depart: 7:10pm from Tampa, FL (TPA)
Arrive: 8:47pm to Charlotte, NC (CLT)
US Airways Flight 1292 (on Boeing 737-400)

1 Stop – change planes in Charlotte, NC (CLT)
Connection Time: 1 hr 38 mins

Depart: 10:25pm from Charlotte, NC (CLT)
Arrive: 11:30pm to Chicago, IL (ORD)
US Airways Flight 1788 (on Airbus A319)

Travel Time: 5 hrs 20 mins

Total Cost incl. all taxes: $295.49 + $15 for the first checked bag and $25 for the 2nd each way

That's right, you've got 40 minutes in sunny Florida! Of course, it'll be dark when you arrive in Florida, but it'll be warm. Oh wait, you won't have time to step outside and get back through security and on to your return trip on time.

Pack lightly and have fun!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I'm Gonna Be RICH!

There's a recession going on? Well, maybe for you. But not for ME! Nope. I just landed $8.6 million! WAHOO!!!!! Talk about an economic bailout!

I'm sure you're wondering where this money came from, since just this morning, my financial situation was certainly not as flush as it is now! I've got $8.6 million! Yeah!

Well, I'm going to be nice and share the beautiful email I received just now from Mrs. Theresa Brown. Okay, sure, I don't know her. But she says she's a Christian and that's good enough for me. But, of course, I'm not going to tell you her email address because I know you'll try to take my money. You're kinda greedy that way.

Oh, one more thing. Please don't try to tell me that I should be suspicious of all the typos. That's lame. Mrs. Brown is from the Netherlands and they don't speak the same language we do. Plus, that just shows you're just jealous.

Anyway, onto the email . . .
I am Mrs Theresa Brown from Netherlands,I am 58 years old,i am deaf and suffering from a long time cancer of the breast ,from all indication my conditions is really deteriorating and it is quite obvious that i can't work or do any stressful thing, according to my doctors they have advised me that i may not live for the next two months,this is because the cancer stage has gotten to a very bad stage. I was brought up from a motherless babies home was married to my late husband for twenty years without a child ,My Husband (Kenneth Brown) died in a fatal motor accident Before his death we were true Christians.

Since his death I decided not to re-marry,I sold all my inherited belongings and deposited all the sum of $8.6million dollars with a Security Company in United states of America .Presently, this money is still with them and the management just wrote me as the true owner to come forward to receive the money for keeping it so long with attract a demurage fees as the security fees paid by me has expired or rather issue a letter of authorization to somebody to receive it on my behalf since I can not come over because of my illness or they get it confisticated.So instead of getting it confiscated i rather have someone whom i can trust to recieve the funds and utilise it according to my wishes.And the best part of it is ,The security company told me in the letter that they can have the consignment funds delivered to my approved next of kin in his house if within USA or transfered to his bank account and if outside USA then transfered to his or her bank account.

Presently, I'm with my laptop in a hospital in Frankfurt Germany where I have been undergoing treatment for my sickness . I have since lost my ability to talk and my doctors have told me that I have only a 2 months to live. It is my last wish to see that this money is invested/donated to any organisation/buisness of your choice and distributed each year among the charity organization,E.g the poor homes,the motherless babies home where i came from,the deaf homes,and churces etc .All i seek for is a God fearing person like you ,who will carry out my last wishes and before i emailed you today i prayed and the holy spirit gave me the confidence to send you this email.I took this decision, before i rest in peace because my time will soon be up.

As soon as I receive your reply I shall give you the contact of the Security Company in the USA. All i need from you is a confidential assurance that the funds when recieved by you will be used for the said purpose,Nowadays there are so much scams going on in the internet and it is diffcult to trust but i dont know why the Holy spirit still approved me to email you about this out of few email addresses i have from the internet,yours was the only one that was approved for me to contact.

Waiting for your reply.

Yours In Christ,

Mrs. Theresa Brown
Merry Christmas to ME!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Winter Solstice

Tomorrow is the first day of Winter, also known as the Winter Solstice. It is also the shortest day of the year, which means that starting on December 22nd, each day will start to get longer.

Now the first day of Winter might not be such a big deal but for the fact that it means we have 3 months of Winter left. That means that despite the horrible weather we've already experienced, we've got a hell of a lot more to come.

I've been done with Winter since the day after the first snow just about 2 1/2 weeks ago.

And that's where my challenge comes from: How will I ever survive the next 3 months?


Merry Christmas American Girl!

American Girl,

I am sorry you have become so unhinged over the fact that I gave your pretend boyfriend (Ewan McGregor) to Miss Alex for Christmas in our Virtual Secret Santa Extravaganza.

I hope that your pain will begin to subside during your stays in the Lincoln Bedroom at the White House any time you want during the Obama Administration. I've made special arrangements for you and a guest (but not Ewan McGregor, sorry) to be able to stay there as often as you'd like for the next 4-8 years.

Merry Christmas!

Little Merry Sunshine

Friday, December 19, 2008

Merry Christmas Fonzie Sox!

Dr. Monkey von Monkerstein, one of my favorite blog buddies, put together a Virtual Secret Santa this year! To participate, I emailed Dr. Monkey, as did many other bloggers, and then Dr. Monkey emailed us back with the blogger for whom we were to be the Secret Santa. We are then to write a blog post about what we got our Secret Santa recipient, but because no money is actually spent, the sky is the limit. What makes this especially interesting is we don't necessarily know the blogger we are shopping for.

My Secret Santa (and new BFF!) is the incredibly generous and inciteful Karen Zipdrive who writes Pulp Friction. Karen doesn't know me at all, but she managed to nail everything I'd want for Christmas if money were truly no object. Seriously, all of you who know me in real life need to take some lessons from Karen. She's a woman who knows how to shop for me. You really must go over to Pulp Friction and see all the super cool loot I scored! And add her to your blogroll or at least your daily reading. She's good.

I'm the Secret Santa for Miss Alex of FonzieSox. Again, I don't know Miss Alex at all, but she seems to write three very fun blogs. I admire her creativity.

First, I'm from Illinois so I'm going to give her a gift from my home state. We seem to have an extra Senate Seat laying around and I'd like Miss Alex to have it.

Because Miss Alex will need a pad to crash in while fulfilling her duties as the Junior Senator from Illinois, I've bought her a little house called Evermay.

Miss Alex also deserves to travel across the universe in style anytime she wants, so I've bought her a Space Shuttle. She's got her choice of the Atlantis, Discovery or Endeavor. I just need to know which one she wants and where she'd like it delivered.

Finally, Mr. Ewan McGregor, at my request, has left his wife, and will now devote himself solely to satisfying the pleasures of Miss Alex.

Merry Christmas Miss Alex! I hope you like your gifts!

Governor Blagojevich, What Is Your Problem?

Governor Blagojevich, I simply do not understand. I mean, I get that your defense is "Ha! Ha! Ha! I was just having fun and joking around on the phone with my buddies!" but is that really the best way to lead the home state of our President-Elect?

You spoke to us today, almost 2 weeks after you were arrested, and essentially told us nothing more than "I am not a crook."

Maybe you're not a crook. After all, you are innocent until presumed guilty. But, you most certainly are the biggest horse's ass I've ever seen in politics. Public servants should be role models. You are no role model. Public servants should be doing the people's business before doing their own. By your own statement today, you clearly do not understand that.

You say you're going to stay on the job and fight these allegations until your last breath. Well, okay, but how exactly are you going to do your job? You can't appoint a new Senator to replace former Senator and President-Elect Barack Obama. Everything you attempt to do is tainted.

Do you know what I worry about most? I worry that all the people who voted in the 2008 Presidential Election for the first time ever or the first time in many years who voted because they believed they could make a difference and were hopeful. Many of them were previously scarred from lying politicians. Will they be back in 2 years to cast another ballot or have your alleged actions just proven that all politicians are evil?

And what about the black cloud your alleged actions have put over our state? Illinois should be proud (and we are) of the man we are sending to the White House. But your alleged actions have given the Right Wingnuts an opportunity to try to tie him to you. Now, you and I both know that you hate him (we've all heard the colorful language you used to describe him), but the Wingnuts don't believe that.

You owe it to us to step aside, at least temporarily. Let Pat Quinn step in and keep your seat warm while you defend yourself. At this time, you need to be focussed on your defense and on your family. You don't really have the time to devote to us and we desparately need a strong and honest leader in Illinois.

Reindeer Porn

If you're not already in the Christmas spirit, hopefully this will do the trick!

In case you're wondering, I may or may not know the origin of this picture.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I'm Proud to Be From Illinois!

From AmericaBlog . . .

Do You Need to Lose Weight?

I know that's kind of a personal question to ask and you don't need to answer it. Let me state for the record that I do. I'm fully aware of this need. I'd be healthier if I did and my risk for all kinds of stuff would decrease.

But I didn't realize just how big of a need there was until I was eating breakfast this morning. As I was eating a fairly healthy piece of wholegrain toast with a little bit of homemade cherry jam, Ross, hopped up on the table and actually batted it out of my hand.

So if you need help losing weight, Ross is available to knock food out of your hand for a small fee.

You can email me personally through LMS and we can arrange for you to be humiliated by my cat, just as I was this morning.

Did Cheney Just Admit War Crimes?

Watch these video and decide for yourself. Although Cheney says at the beginning of the ABC video (which has the entire interview) that we don't torture, he then goes on to say that he personally approved the waterboarding against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, which has been a war crime for years and punishable by death.

Watch the whole ABC interview here and then watch the video from Countdown with Keith Olberman below.

I am terribly offended by this. We must not let the Bush Administration rewrite history during their last 35 days in office. They committed crimes. Real and actual crimes. Crimes that killed people. Thousands of people. We went to war with Iraq based on lies that have been proven over and over and over again to have been lies.

We spoke out at the ballot box in November 2006 and 2008, but we are not done speaking out. We need to contact our Senators and Representatives and demand that the Bush Administration be held accountable for their actions.

We are better than who we have been the last 8 years. We must take this moral stand. The change we have demanded by electing Obama can't simply be a change of administration. It must be deeper than that in order for it to mean anything.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Barney Cam 2008

Now I don't normally like to promote anything that puts George W. Bush in a favorable light, but this is so cute I just couldn't resist.

Let's be clear, however, Betsey and Ross can kick Barney's ass in the patriotic category. What with being born on the 4th of July in Washington DC and being named Betsey and Ross and all. I'm just sayin'.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Bush Has Good Reflexes Going for Him, If Nothing Else

You simply must see this.

An Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at George Bush after calling him a dog, which is a huge insult.

The BBC also has a great story.

I know I promised that I wouldn't be snarky anymore, but this is so wonderful I simply couldn't help myself. Watch it over and over again. It's truly the gift that keeps on giving.

Blago Does SNL!

You know you've made it when Saturday Night Live parodies you. Blago was parodied in two skits last night, but fortunately, SNL only put up the video of the funny one. Enjoy!

On another note, Saturday Night Live will suffer greatly due to Amy Poehler's departure. She is a genius. I will miss her.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I'm Feeling the LOVE!

Just days after I announced the new Little Merry Sunshine Pay to Play policy, I walk to my mailbox and what did I find? Beautiful Christmas cards from three of my favorite men!

Dr. Monkey von Monkerstein sent along a beautiful card of a snow covered farm house with a full moon up in the sky wishing me a "Happy War on Christmas"! Dr. Monkey you are too cool and you know I may soon become spoiled with all of these wonderful gifts from you! If you haven't already done so, you should add Dr. Monkey's blog to your daily reading list. He is hysterical, timely, well-thought out, and will always put a smile on your face.

Tim and Tony of Balancing Boyfriends, Anthony's Chicken Tracks, Morgan Terrace, and What's Cooking In the Frisky Kitchen fame penned a lovely personal note on a card with snowy trees. Very festive. Their blogs fall into the must read category as well because they both paint the most beautiful pictures with their words and are amazing photographers, as well. Whenever I need inspiration or a swift kick, I turn to Tim and Tony and they lovingly provide it.

Congratulations gentlemen! You are today's favorite bloggers! One of you wins a shiny new Senate Seat from the great state of Illinois! Runners up can divvy up the Big 3 for themselves. You'll have to decide amongst yourselves who gets what.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Must See TV! - "Marathon Love"

Gather the family around the TV on Sunday night and grab the Kleenex. In the midst of all the economic woes, we need a good heartwarming story and I think this is it. Triumph over tragedy. Miracles. A true love story.

A 'Love Story' runs through Tinley Park
Prime-time documentary follows couple's journey after devastating 1987 crash
By Bonnie Miller Rubin Tribune reporter
December 12, 2008

If the steady drumbeat of bad news—the economy, the weather, the governor—has taken its toll, gather the family around the TV Sunday night and watch "Marathon Love," the perfect antidote to relentless gloom.

The documentary, which airs at 7 p.m. Sunday in Chicago on the Discovery Health Channel, chronicles the journey of Jamie and Lynn Parks of Tinley Park, whose lives took a tragic turn in 1987, just months before their wedding. That's when Lynn McGovern's life was shattered in a horrific car accident en route to a White Sox game, suffering a devastating brainstem injury that left her cognitively impaired and unable to walk.

It would be 17 days before the 24-year-old opened her eyes and another seven months before she uttered a word. Well-meaning friends told Parks he should bail out while he still had the chance.

"I said, 'You've got to give me a better reason,' " said Parks, a mailman, who documented his fiance's arduous recovery with thousands of hours of home video.

The couple ended up tying the knot in 1994—almost seven years and thousands of hours of physical therapy after their original date. Watching the bride tentatively walking down the aisle—her father holding on to one arm, her brother on to the other—will have many viewers reaching for the Kleenex box. That might have been a fine time to roll the credits, but the nuptials represent only the first of many finish lines they cross together. An avid runner, Jamie started pushing his wife in her wheelchair rather than leave her alone during runs. (While he's at work, her mother and an aide are with Lynn, who still endures hours of therapy daily.)

Through sun and sleet, the Parkses became a fixture in their subdivision, waving to neighbors as they pass by. He entered some 5K and 10K races, eventually working up to marathons. Only now, they are joined by their "miracle baby" Annalyn, 9, who acknowledges that her parents "are pretty cool."

Along the way, there were setbacks, but last April, Jamie Parks—now 47—achieved the pinnacle of his running career: the Boston Marathon. At mile 20, Lynn talked her husband up Heartbreak Hill. In the documentary, the runner scoops up his daughter at the last quarter mile and the three finish the race together (time: 3:25:45)—a lump-in-the throat moment. Think "Rocky" meets "Love Story."

Ruth Rivin, executive producer for LMNO Productions, first heard about the Parkses in 1997. She featured them in a short segment for a show. When she heard that they qualified for the Boston Marathon, she remembered the home videos and embraced the chance to tell their story.

"It is extremely unusual to have such a treasure trove of documentation," she said. What moved the producer to share their story was that the couple "reminds us what is really important," Rivin said. "Boy meets girl. They fall in love. They stick together through whatever life throws their way. Simple, and yet so profound."

For his part, Jamie Parks is still not sure why such doggedness is worthy of prime time. "My wife is the real inspiration. If it weren't for her, I'd just be a mailman who runs," he said.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Why is Congress so Classist?

I simply do not understand. Congress had no problem handing Wall Street $700 BILLION with no questions asked just 2 months ago. They didn't make Wall Street CEOs work for $1.00. They didn't make Wall Street employees forgo bonuses or benefits or take cuts in salary. They let AIG have their spa weekends on my dime (hey Uncle Sam, I'd like a massage too!).

Yet the Big 3, which employs hundreds of thousands Americans directly and probably a couple million Americans in ancillary industries, can't get a measly $34 billion LOAN? The Big 3 asked for less than 5% of what Wall Street got handed to them on a silver platter and Congress refuses to give it to them.

Until a few minutes ago, Congress seemed to be willing to give them about $15 billion (less than 1/2 of what they asked for), but that seems to have just fallen apart thanks to some asshole GOPers. If they'd been able to reach an agreement to give the American automobile industry a loan, there were going to be all kinds of stipulations - CEOs working for $1, employees receive huge salary and benefits cuts, and more.

Call me crazy, but this feels very classist to me. Wall Street is white collar while the Big 3 is blue collar. Just one more example of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer under George W. Bush. Why are we so willing to save Wall Street, but not Main Street?

Update 10:47pm: I'm watching CNN and they're reporting about how AIG is giving "retention payments" to employees earning between $160,000 - $3 million and the payments are up to $1 million! Now you may be wondering what these "retention payments" are. Well, they're BONUSES. And yet Congress is letting the Big 3 die. Nice. I don't think I've ever been so ashamed of my government and I've got a lot to be embarrassed by given that I live in Illinois.

I Love The Onion!

The Onion never fails to be timely or funny and often gets it right years in advance.

Today's American Voices is a perfect example of both timely and funny . . .

llinois Governor Arrested
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested Tuesday on corruption charges stemming from an alleged conspiracy to sell or trade the Senate seat left vacant by Barack Obama. What do you think?

Ethan Strouth, Mailroom Worker
"I was moved by the governor's heartfelt plea that he be given his fucking money back."

Denise Simmonds, Dog Groomer
"I should have never had those 'Spitzer-Blagojevich 2012' lawn signs printed up back in February."

John Edwards, Lawyer
"How much are Senate seats going for these days? I only paid $75,000 for mine back in ’98."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"Pay-to-Play" Now Standard Operating Procedure at Little Merry Sunshine

In light of recent political developments, Little Merry Sunshine is announcing the new "Pay-to-Play" policy that will take effect immediately. While I understand you may feel this is unfair, please understand that I am only taking my cues from the politicians we all admire the most - Illinois Governors Rod Blagojevich and George Ryan - and times are tough all over. I'm simply looking out for #1 - Me.

What exactly is the Little Merry Sunshine "Pay-to-Play" policy? I'm so glad you asked.

The "Pay-to-Play" policy entails you showering me with gifts and me writing favorable blog posts about you.

That's pretty simple.

I've even provided you a list of acceptable gifts - all of them cost less than $1 million.

I'm also pleased to announce that two bloggers are already on board with this policy and have recently gifted me - Dr. Monkey von Monkerstein and Gourmet Goddess!

Congratulations Dr. Monkey and Gourmet Goddess! You are hereby awarded the distinct honor of being my favorite bloggers for today!

Dr. Monkey showed his love with a spiffy postcard of a 1960s roadside motel and wrote me a special Thanksgiving note!

Gourmet Goddess sent me a gift certificate for a manicure and pedicure! I can't wait to use this and have pretty tootsies again!

Thank you Dr. Monkey and Gourmet Goddess!

Monday, December 8, 2008

I Need Your Advice

I've considered writing to Dear Abby, but I think my readers are at least as smart and will respond faster.

Let me preface this by saying that my across the street neighbor, an elected official, constantly snow blows their snow into the street, which is against village code and I've had conversations about this matter with them before. Additionally, I do not want to cause problems in my neighborhood. I appreciate that keeping peace amongst the neighbors is good for everyone.

Saturday morning, as I was shoveling my driveway after the latest 3 inches of snow, my neighbor came out and snow blowed the snow from the apron of his drive into the street for the second time that day. Directly in front of me. So I walked across the street to have a polite conversation. Here's how it went.

Me: Hi! Would you mind not snow blowing your snow into the street?

Neighbor: Why?

Me: Well because it creates a dangerous situation for you, your wife, me, and any one driving down the street with black ice and because it's against Village Code.

Neighbor: The Village will be out to salt the street.

Me: Maybe and maybe not. It's been all over the news that the cost of salt has almost quadrupled this year and towns are cutting back on their salting. Plus, with the recession, the towns do not have the money to act as aggressively as they have in the past because they aren't collecting as much in taxes. So it would be great if you could toss your snow onto the parkway, like the rest of us do.

Neighbor: It's not dangerous! Are you looking to cause problems? Why are you over here just creating something to complain about? GO AWAY!

Clearly, my neighbor dislikes me, but I honestly have no idea why. I also have no idea why he thinks he can speak to me this way. I was polite and never once raised my voice to him. His wife is an elected official and he is a former fireman in this town. They must both know how dangerous black ice can be.

After this conversation, I came in and called the Public Works department and asked them to come have a conversation with my neighbor. They were sympathetic, agreed that it creates a dangerous situation and that it's against Village Code, but they have no enforcement power and will not come over.

I was also told that the Village doesn't enforce this code violation. WHAT? This is a public safety issue and should be taken seriously by the Village. Furthermore, in a time of economic difficulties for my town, when the Trustees are looking at cutting services in order to balance the budget, this could be a gold mine. If there are 10 snows this winter and 1000 people (out of almost 80,000) violate the Code each time and receive a $25 each time, that's $250,000 into the village coffers. Not only does that entirely cover the cost of the person writing the tickets, but it would easily generate over $150,000 in revenue (assuming that they paid the ticket writer $100,000).

Why do people have so little regard for their neighbors, common courtesy, and public safety?

Any suggestions you have for how I can get my neighbor to cooperate would be greatly appreciated.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Forget a Puppy, Get Junior a Rat for Christmas!

My local paper, The Daily Herald, has an article today about good pets to give this Christmas. They consider these pets "good pets" because they are cheap. Now I like to save money as much as anyone - I proudly clip coupons and always check local gas prices before heading out to fill up - but this just seems wrong on quite a few levels.

The Daily Herald suggests pets such as a Scorpion ($25), Bearded Dragon ($50), Tarantula, Ferret ($50-150), Sun Conure bird ($50-500), Hedgehog ($150), Chinchilla ($170), or Rat ($8). Yep, you read that correctly. The Daily Herald suggests you give your kid a Rat for Christmas.

According to the article, Eric Hall of Pets Inc. in Naperville, Ill. says that Rats "can become part of the family. They are a lot of fun." Really? How?

Are things that bad that we really need to give our kids Rats? Frankly, $8 seems like price gouging to me. Just walk down any alley in a big city and you can find Rats for free.

All this talk of Rats reminds me that episode of Friends where Phoebe's is feeding a rat that lives in her apartment.

Rats may be cheap pets now, but when added to the therapy bills you will be stuck with for the next 50 years after traumatizing your child, I think giving your kid a Rat is just a bad idea.

Hillary Clinton (Amy Poehler) is Back on SNL!

Amy Poehler is back! For how long, I'm not sure. But, damn, she's one funny woman. And her portrayal of future Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is dead on. I loved this.


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Don't Worry Be Happy

It turns out Bobby McFerrin was onto something . . .

British study says happiness may be contagious

It IS About The Economy, Stupid.

Okay, maybe that's kind of a snarky title for a post about President-elect Barack Obama's Weekly Radio Address, but it fits, so I'm using it.

This week's address is all about the economy and how President-elect Obama will work to fix it. He's got some exciting ideas for job creation.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Happy Repeal Day!

That's right kids . . . today is the Diamond Anniversary of the repeal of the 18th Amendment by the ratification of the 21st Amendment!

In English that means that today is the 75th anniversary of the end of Prohibition.

Of course, the only way to celebrate is with an appropriate cocktail.

Please drink responsibly. And by all means, do not drink and drive.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Barack Can Call Me Anytime And I Won't Hang Up On Him

This is hysterical to me. I love the fact that President-elect Obama had a sense of humor about being hung up on twice.

And it reminds me of an awesome scene from The American President. President Shepard and Sydney Ellen Wade have met earlier in the day and he's quite taken with her, so he attempts to call her up and invite her to attend a State Dinner as his date. She hangs up on him a couple of times, insisting it's a prank call. If I could have found a YouTube clip of it, I would have posted.

Fla. [GOP] congresswoman accidentally hangs up on Obama [twice]
by the Associated Press in the Daily Herald, December 4, 2008

MIAMI -- When a man sounding remarkably like President-elect Barack Obama called a Florida congresswoman Wednesday, she assumed it was a crank call.

So Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen hung up. But, the Miami Herald reports, this was no prank.

"I thought it was one of the radio stations in South Florida playing an incredible, elaborate, terrific prank on me," Ros-Lehtinen told the newspaper. "They got Fidel Castro to go along. They've gotten Hugo Chavez and others to fall for their tricks. I said, 'Oh, no, I won't be punked.'"

The call came about 1 p.m. Obama congratulated her on her re-election, saying he was looking forward to working with her as the ranking Republican member of the House Foreign Affairs committee, Ros-Lehtinen told the newspaper.

The conversation lasted about a minute when she cut Obama off, telling him she wasn't falling for the hoax and that he was a better impersonator than the guy on Saturday Night Live, she said.

Then Rahm Emanuel, Obama's chief of staff, called the congresswoman to tell her it wasn't a joke. But she hung up on him, too. It took a call from Rep. Howard Berman, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, to persuade Ros-Lehtinen that Obama really did want to talk to her.
When the two finally talked, Ros-Lehtinen said she and Obama had a good conversation and she congratulated him for his victory despite how hard she campaigned for his opponent, Sen. John McCain.

He didn't even blame her for mistaking him for a radio-station prank, she said.

"He laughed a lot, saying in Chicago they do it all the time," Ros-Lehtinen said. "He said, 'I don't blame you for being skeptical.'"

Repeated calls by The Associated Press to two office numbers for the congresswoman rang unanswered after hours Wednesday. An e-mail message to an Obama spokeswoman after hours wasn't immediately returned.

Anyone Remember When You Opened a Bank Account And Got A Free Toaster?

Well, times have changed . . .

Thanks AMERICAblog!

Prop 8 - The Musical

From the fine folks at

"Prop 8 - The Musical" stars many of your favorites including Jack Black, Allison Janney, Margaret Cho, Mya Rudolph, John C. Reilly, Neil Patrick Harris and more.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Public Service Announcement: Scam/Fraud Alert

I recently signed up to receive an email about crime in my town through Citizen Observer. I did this because of a rash of attacks against women while out running or walking in my neighborhood (sorry Mom, I know I didn't tell you about this, but you've got enough going on without worrying about this too!). What's really cool about Citizen Observer is that they work with many towns, so I encourage you to go look up your town.

Today I received the email below. While this scam was attempted in my town, it could easily have happened in any town, so I wanted to put you, my faithful readers, on alert. It sounds a lot like the Nigerian email scam, only this scam happened through the U.S. mail, which could make it a Federal crime.
Arlington Heights - Scam/Fraud Alert through the U.S. Mail

Arlington Heights resident received a suspicious check from Life Investors Insurance Company of America. The check was attached to a letter from Readers Digest explaining the resident was a prize winner and should cash the check before contacting one of the listed names on the letter. The resident called the number provided and spoke with a male subject who told them to cash the check and call back for further instructions. The resident contacted Readers Digest who advised that no letter or check was mailed. The check was never cashed and the incident was reported to the Arlington Heights Police Department.

Typically the offender will send a counterfeit check to the victim and make up some kind of story about where the money came from. The victim is told to cash the check and send a portion back to the offender for some service or processing fee. The bank eventually finds out the check is counterfeit and the victim is responsible for the amount cashed. The loss to the victim is the amount sent back to the offender.

There are numerous frauds/scams being used against unwary people. They all offer you some type of financial or personal gain that is too good to be true. Do not let yourself be caught in their traps.

Do You Get Snow in the Winter?

If you live in an area where you get snow in the winter, I have a favor to ask of you.

I would appreciate it if when you shovel or use your snow blower on your driveway and sidewalk, you could toss the snow onto your grass and not out into the street.

This may sound stupid and petty, but the thing is that when you shovel or blow your snow into the street, it can freeze and turn into black ice. Of course, I know that you know how dangerous black ice is and I'm certain you would never want anyone to get hurt when innocently driving past your home or turning into their driveway when the snow you blew into the street has frozen in front of their driveway.

In many communities it is actually against village code to shovel or blow snow into the street. But even if it's not, it's just not neighborly. In fact, it's downright mean.

So let's all join together this winter and pledge to shovel or blow the snow from our driveways and sidewalks onto the grass and not out into the street. Okay?

In fact, you can consider this act your Christmas gift to me. Thanks.

All Guys Need to Know About Love & Women They Can Learn From a 9-Year Old

I seriously love this story. This kid knows more about love and women at age 9 than most men in their 30s and 40s. How did he get so wise? He watched girls on the playground at recess.

Really guys, this kid knows his stuff.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Uno - The Best Christmas Gift Ever

I've previously discussed the Christmas my brother and I received our only Christmas gift (yep, just one apiece) from the local Giving Tree. After reading that post, my mom reminded me about a very important part of that Christmas. In addition to the individual gift Dave and I each received, we received a family gift.

That gift was the card game Uno. Just a simple deck of cards. Well, special cards. Uno can't be played with a regular deck. Back then, I bet a deck of Uno cards couldn't have cost more than $1. 26 years later, it only costs $3.99.

As a family, my mom, Dave, and I spent countless evenings sitting around the kitchen table playing Uno and talking. My mom reminded me that although we'd always come home from school and reply to the question of "what did you learn today" with "nothing," when we were playing Uno, Dave and I both opened up and that's how she always learned what was going on with us.

Uno isn't a complicated or fancy game. In fact, it's unbelievably simple. Maybe that was the beauty of it. Whatever it was, it brought our family many nights of fun together and kept our us together during some truly difficult and painful times.

All these years later, whenever I donate to the local Giving Tree at Christmas, I always pick up an Uno game. I hope it brings other families as much joy as it brought mine.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

What Kind of World Do You Want?

I heard this song tonight and remembered just how much I love it. When I googled it, I discovered just how cool Five for Fighting is. Not only do they have music I love - Superman, 100 Years, and World - but they do good things in this world through their website What Kind of World Do You Want?. Check it out. You'll be inspired.

And in the meantime, listen to World and read the lyrics below. We control the kind of world we live in. Our choices today determine the world we will live in and future generations will inherit.

The only question is What Kind of World Do You Want and what are you willing to do to create it?


Got a package full of Wishes
A Time machine, a Magic Wand
A Globe made out of Gold

No Instructions or Commandments
Laws of Gravity or
Indecisions to uphold

Printed on the box I see
A.C.M.E.'s Build-a-World-to-be
Take a chance - Grab a piece
Help me to believe it

What kind of world do you want?
Think Anything
Let's start at the start
Build a masterpiece
Be careful what you wish for
History starts now...

Should there be people or peoples
Money, Funny pedestals for Fools who never pay
Raise your Army – Choose your Steeple
Don't be shy, the satellites can look the other way

Lose the Earthquakes – Keep the Faults
Fill the oceans without the salt
Let every Man own his own Hand

What kind of world do you want
Think Anything
Let's start at the start
Build a masterpiece
Be careful what you wish for
History starts now...

Sunlight's on the Bridge
Sunlight's on the Way
Tomorrow's Calling

There's more to this than Love

What Kind of world do you want
What Kind of world do you want

What Kind of world do you want
Think Anything
Let's start at the start
Build a masterpiece

History Starts Now

Be careful what you wish for
Start Now

Generosity Rules!

You've probably heard about this story on the national news - I saw it on CNN and the NBC news tonight - but I actually read about it on Friday and don't know why it took me so long to write about it.

During these tough economic times when so many businesses are going under, many more are laying people off, and even more are cutting back or eliminating holiday bonusess altogether (note: If you're the CEO of a financial institution or one of the Big 3, you must not get a holiday bonus for the rest of your life), it's heartwarming to see an employer that went out of their way to reward their employees.

Waukegan business gives out giant bonuses
Associated Press in the Daily Herald, November 28, 2008

Dave Tiderman wondered if the decimal point was in the wrong place when he opened his $35,000 company bonus. Jose Rojas saw his $10,000 check and thought, "That can't be right."

Valentin Dima watched co-workers breaking down in tears over their bonus checks and didn't trust his emotions. He drove home first, then opened his envelope: $33,000.

Year-end bonuses are rare these days. Rarer still is what the Spungen family, owners of a ball bearings company in Waukegan did as they sold the business.

They gave out whopping thank-you bonuses.

A total of $6.6 million is being shared by just 230 employees of Waukegan-based Peer Bearing Co., with facilities in England and the United States. Amounts varied and were based on years of service.

"They treated us like extended family," said Maria Dima, who works at Peer Bearing along with her husband, Valentin, and received a somewhat smaller check than he did. "We won the lottery."

With $100 million in sales last year, Peer recently was acquired by a Swedish company for an undisclosed amount. Danny Spungen, whose grandfather founded the company in 1941, said it was a unanimous family decision to thank employees with the bonuses.

Laurence and Florence Spungen and their four children decided on a bonus formula a year before the sale closed to SKF Group, "a gamble that we would come out OK as well," Danny Spungen said.

He and other family members signed, by hand, two thank-you cards to each employee, one in Spanish and one in English. Each card was printed with all the workers' names and the years they were hired. The text expressed gratitude for "the loyalty and hard work of our employees over the years."

Nathan Spungen, who died in 1990, would have approved, Danny Spungen, 47, said. He noted the elder Spungen was generous with customers who owed money. "My grandfather was always charitable," he said.

The new owners intend to operate Peer as a wholly owned subsidiary. Workers have been told that most will keep their jobs, and life at the company hasn't changed much since the party in mid-September when the bonuses were distributed.

Rojas, who works in Peer's customer service department, said he saw fellow employees do "double-triple takes" that day. He plans to save his money for his son's college education.

Tiderman, who started with Peer in 1985 and worked his way up from the warehouse to assistant product manager, said most of his bonus will stay in the bank because of the uncertain economy.

"I do have to put some tires on my truck," he added.

Incongruously, the bonuses coincided with the nation's economic meltdown. While neighbors and friends faced new financial strains, the Peer employees could breathe easier.

"I know people who work for corporate America are not going to get treated like that. And most of the family owned businesses are not going to treat you like that," Tiderman said. "This is something that just really doesn't happen."

Valentin and Maria Dima, who emigrated from Romania after the 1989 revolution, are nearing retirement. They took a Caribbean cruise after getting their checks.

"This company gave us stability, so we dare to spend some money on such a thing," Valentin Dima said.

There was one more gesture of generosity this week. The Spungen family kept a tradition alive by pre-ordering a Thanksgiving gift for workers before selling the company.

"Everybody got a turkey," Maria Dima said.

On the Net: