Friday, April 29, 2011

Transformers Dark of the Moon Sneak Peek!

Remember last summer when they were filming Transformers Dark of the Moon (aka T3) in Chicago? The sneak peek of the movie is out. Now I've never been into "blow stuff up" movies, but I have to admit, I'm pretty interested in seeing this one.

Judge for yourself.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

We've Got Serious Problems and We Need Serious People

Did you hear the President's comments yesterday morning when he released his birth certificate? Later in the afternoon, he sat down with Oprah for an interview that will air on Monday. The Huffington Post has an almost 3 minute segment of that interview. When I listened to it a few minutes ago, President Obama's comments reminded me of another president who addressed silliness.

First, watch President Obama's comments this morning when he released his birtch certificate...

Now watch President Obama's comments to Oprah and see if you can figure out who I was reminded of...

Did you get it? Well, watch the video below...

Yes, President Obama spanked the Birthers and Donald Trump just like President Shepard spanked Senator Bob Rumson in The American President.

Now let's get back to addressing the serious issues we have facing our country.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Little Merry Sunshine Quoted in TribLocal!

TribLocal had a Twitter chat tonight. You can find it by doing a hashtag search on Twitter for #TribLocal. It was a pretty interesting chat about how to build an audience for your blog. For the most part, I was a lurker, reading the comments of other participants, but question 6 really piqued my interest and I jumped in with my opinion.
@TribLocal: Last question! Q6. What is your favorite blog that you have written?
I thought for a second because I have a number of favorite blog posts, but there are two that are my absolute favorites and based on the feedback you gave me and the number of hits LMS received on the days these posts ran, they are two of your favorites too.
@Jessica_Gardner: @ I have 2 Little Merry Sunshine blog posts that are my faves: and
Those links take you to You Can't Judge A Book By Its Cover and Who Are We Not To Be Great? Or I Had A Chat With The Voices Inside My Head. Both posts are about Susan Boyle from Britain's Got Talent.

About 30 minutes after my tweet, I received a reply tweet from TribLocal informing me they'd quoted me in the story about the Tweet Chat! You probably remember that almost exactly two years ago, Little Merry Sunshine was named one of Chicago's Best Blogs by the and appeared on the front page of the Tribune's website.
Nope, that picture never gets old.

So now that I've been in a Tribune publication TWICE, maybe now the big blogging bucks will start to roll in. I really don't want this to be my life.

RIP The Empire Man

If you didn't grow up in Chicago during the 1970s or 1980s, this post probably isn't for you because you probably think the guy in the Empire Today commercials has always been a cartoon character.
The truth is that every kid in the Chicagoland Area got his or her first singing lessons from Elmer Lynn Hauldren, better known as The Empire Man.

He passed away today at 89. You still know the words. And in Lynn's honor, on the count of three, let's all sing it together...


And because those cartoons will never really replace the real thing, here's another commercial.

Monday, April 25, 2011

How Are You Saving Money On Gas?

I woke up Friday morning to a horrifying story on the morning news: gas prices in Orlando, Florida are at $5.69 per gallon and could hit $6 nationwide by summer. A wave of terror ran through my body because I think current gas prices are outrageous.

I drive 40 miles round-trip to Lake Forest each day five or six days a week and fill my car weekly (not because it's on empty but because I can't afford to let an 20 gallon tank get to empty). If I fill up in Arlington Heights, gas ranges between $4.24 and $4.39 per gallon, but filling up at Costco in Mettawa (practically across the street from my office) yesterday, I spent $3.99. I saved $4.60 or 10% of what I spent. The national average is $3.84, up $0.98 from a year ago, and in Chicago it's $4.18, up $1.10 from a year ago. Ouch.

Wanting to share the good news with my Lake Forest peeps, I sent the following tweet: "Hey Lake Forest peeps! Need gas? Costco on 60 is $3.99. FYI. @LFCollege @LFGSM #GasCostsTooMuch." I was immediately re-tweeted by my friend Carolyn who drives further than I do.

To avoid pain at the pump, some people are slugging. This was hugely popular in Washington, DC when I lived there in the 1990s. Slugging is when people share rides with total strangers. In DC, there were slug parking lots in Northern Virginia where people would park and then get in the slug line waiting for someone to pick them up. At the end of the day, there were a couple of designated pick-up spots on 14th Street where slug lines would form waiting for drivers. The idea of course, was to catch a ride in the morning with someone going near your destination because it would be rude to ask someone who'd just given you a free ride to out of their way and possibly be late for work. At the end of the day, you wanted to make sure you were getting in a car with someone headed to the I-395 slug lot rather than the I-66 slug lot so you ended up getting home in a reasonable amount of time. The benefit for the driver was that by having more than three people in their car, they could use the designated carpool lanes.

How are you saving money on gas? Are you telecommuting more? Does your company have alternative work arrangements where you could work four longer days and have a fifth off or work hours that allowed you to miss rush hour? In mid-May, I can officially start telecommuting on a regular schedule and I can't wait.

In addition to filling up at Costco and telecommuting when I can, I have eliminated the one-off errands. Now I run errands in bulk and I make sure get all my groceries in one trip. Last weekend I actually did a cost analysis of driving versus taking the train into Chicago on a Sunday. Driving ended up being less expensive because I had free parking, wouldn't need to take any taxis as I would getting off the train, and because the train schedule simply wouldn't allow for convenient commuting times.

Do you check gas prices online before heading out? My favorite online tool is Gas Buddy. Just type in your zip code and it pulls up local gas prices from lowest to highest. While John McCain may not believe it to be true, keeping your tires properly inflated increases your gas mileage and driving the speed limit, reducing excess weight in your car, avoiding excess idling, using cruise control, and using overdrive gears also helps with gas mileage.

Because I believe the days of low gas prices are long gone, it's imperative on each of us to insist our elected officials to invest in alternative fuel and demand all car manufacturers produce the most fuel-efficient cars they can, along with producing more hybrid and electric cars that run longer between charging.

In the meantime, let's share the wealth on gas-saving tips.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

You'll Never See the Milky Way Like This Again

One of my favorite activities in the world is laying out under the stars, watching the Northern Lights, and contemplating my place in the universe, so when I clicked on CNN and found this unbelievable video of the Milky Way, I knew I had to share it with you.

Wow. You too will be in awe. I promise.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Maverick, Iceman, Charlie, & Goose Are Turning 25!

Do you remember when Tom Cruise wasn't jumping on sofas and spouting Scientology every chance he got, but was just making teen-age girls everywhere weak in their knees when he showed off as a hot-shot pilot and wooed his flight instructor?

Ya. I thought so. Me too.

Most female LMS readers who came of age in the late-1980s saw Top Gun many times, each time falling a little more head-over-heels for Tom Cruise. Guys wanted to be Maverick and girls wanted to do things with him they wouldn't even consider doing with their teen-age boyfriends.

Top Gun, like any of the Brat Pack movies from the 1980s (although to be sure, it's not an official Brat Pack movie), is a movie I can't turn off when I notice it's on cable, even if it's 3am. There's just something about Top Gun that gets me every time. Maybe it's the music. Maybe it's Maverick's cockiness. Maybe it's the way he takes control with Charlie. Maybe it's the way he flies his plane and rides his motorcycle. Maybe it's a combination. Whatever it is, it still works.

And now, after 25 years of being forced to watch it on television, VHS, or DVD, Top Gun is returning to the big screen for 2 showings!

Saturday, April 30th at 12:30pm and Monday, May 2nd at 7:00pm (local times).

Wherever you are, there's sure to be a Top Gun showing near you.

You'll find me at the new AMC Randhurst 12 on Saturday, April 30th at 12:30. Come join me.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Groner Fellows: Where Are They Now?

Did you see the Tribune's fantastic follow-up article today about the Groner Fellows? You remember them. They are the Lake Forest College students fortunate enough to be recipients of the generosity of Grace Groner, the Lake Forest alumna who died in early 2010 and left LFC $7million and her Lake Forest cottage. (Special note to my readers: If anyone would like to leave me $7million, I'll do good things with (most of) it. I promise. Honestly.)

You may also recall that I received an exclusive tour of Grace's Cottage back in August. What a moving experience that was. Because Grace lived frugally, not cheaply and certainly not poorly, she will continue to live through generations of Foresters and she will impact lives all around the world. What an inspiration she is.

Anyway, the Chicago Tribune ran a follow-up today. Enjoy!
Surprise gift bears fruit for Lake Forest College
Multi-million dollar donation used to fund scholarships
By John Keilman, April 20, 2011

One year after Grace Groner left an unexpected fortune to a Lake Forest College scholarship program, her generosity has borne impressive fruit.

Groner, who died early last year at the age of 100, was a mild-mannered corporate secretary who, unknown to almost all of her friends and acquaintances, was also a shrewd investor. She turned a $180 stock purchase made in 1935 into an estate worth $7 million.

She was a longtime resident of Lake Forest, one of the wealthiest towns in the Chicago area, but lived in an exceedingly modest one-bedroom house. She never married or had children but formed a strong bond with Lake Forest College, her alma mater.

Her estate went into a foundation that Groner, a devoted traveler, meant to aid students interested in studying overseas or pursuing an internship. So far, 84 students have gotten $500 grants to help them work at places ranging from Merrill Lynch to the Chicago Botanic Garden, or to travel to countries such as England or Botswana.

Study abroad programs "don't generally pay for transportation, so this is usually a big help for airfare," said Assistant Dean Jan Miller.

Her gift to the college also included her tiny, antiquated cottage. Students helped rehab it over the summer, and now it serves as an up-to-date residence for two women who have gotten the scholarships.

One of them is Erin McGinley, a senior who used her grant to travel to Falmouth, Jamaica, a historic seaport being transformed by a cruise ship company into a tourist-friendly town. McGinley, 35, a sociology and anthropology major, documented how locals, investors and non-governmental organizations feel about the changes.

The living room holds a photo of Groner, and McGinley said looking at it produces a bittersweet feeling.

"I'm sad that I didn't get to meet her in person, but obviously she has touched a lot of people throughout the community," she said.
Grace may not have had any blood heirs when she died, but as Foresters, we're all Grace's heirs.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

This One's For The Girls: The When-to-Wash-It Handbook

Do you wonder how often you should launder your favorite clothing items to keep them not only clean, but new looking? Or maybe you wonder how to keep your delicates delicate rather than getting ruined in the washer. Of course you do. We all do.

My favorite personal stylist, Noelle Cellini, owner of My Best Food Forward, tweeted a link to a fantastic article from Real Simple today, The When-to-Wash-It-Handbook. I love it. In fact, I'm going to print it out and tape it up in my closet. Ya, I'm that anal and I'm proud of it.

Little Merry Sunshine is committed to keeping you looking your best, so our expert staff here (yes, that's Betsey, Ross, and me) felt it was important to pass this information onto you. Trust us, you'll find it handy.

Oh, and you should definitely call Noelle. No matter your age, body shape, weight or personal style, she'll make sure you always look your best and she's well worth the investment of both time and money. At least sign up for her newsletter, fan her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

And don't forget to print out The When-to-Wash-It Handbook!

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Truth About Planned Parenthood

I meant to post this on Friday night, but got lost in the whole federal government shutdown coverage (you know I love politics, right?).

Let's talk about Planned Parenthood, which was what the whole threat to shut the government down was about. The GOP was holding up approving the federal budget because of a rider they wanted to defund Planned Parenthood, which amounted to 0.0083% of the federal budget.

In 2009, Planned Parenthood provided 11.5 million services to women, men and transgendered women, of which only 3% were abortion services. And per The Hyde Amendment, no federal money actually pays for abortion services. The Hyde Amendment has been the law since 1976. That's right, since it became effective in 1977, no federal government dollars have been used to pay for abortions.

So what does Planned Parenthood do exactly if they're not in the business of killing a gazillion babies everyday using federal money?

Planned Parenthood provides basic healthcare services for women, men and transgendered women. It's one of the few places in America where transgendered women can know they will receive healthcare services with dignity. Planned Parenthood provides pap smears, breast exams, counseling on reproductive health and planning, HIV counseling, flu shots, and diabetes testing, just to name a few.

It is simply appalling to me that the GOP hates women so much that not only won't they allow single-payer affordable healthcare, but now they want to dismantle an organization with the mission of providing healthcare services to those who would otherwise go without. Ironically, thanks to the small amount of money Planned Parenthood receives from the federal governement each year (none of which, again, goes to fund abortions), the governement actually saves $4 for every $1 dollar spent on family planning. If you don't provide women with basic healthcare, it doesn't mean any problems they have don't cost anything. There's a reason that Ben Franklin's famous adage "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" is true.

Let's listen to the truth about Planned Parenthood.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Still don't believe me? Listen to the story of one woman who wrote to Lawrence O'Donnell on Friday. Yes, she's had an abortion, but that does not make her a bad person, as Glenn Beck would have you believe today (if you want to hear his hate-filled tirade, google it because I won't link to it). She's a woman who has had to rely on Planned Parenthood for her basic healthcare because she could neither afford private insurance nor qualify for it after she lost her job. Healthcare that could be provided by a single-payer system, if only we had one, but instead is provided by an institution set up to provide healthcare to all, no matter their ability to pay. And it's saved her life.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Lawrence O'Donnell teared up when he read her letter. He did so because her story is all too common and without Planned Parenthood many women would die.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Inspiration 365 Days A Year Movie

For those of you who love daily inspirational quotes, you're going to especially enjoy the following movie from Simple Truths of Zig Ziglar's favorite bits of inspiration.

Have an inspired week!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Who Do Smart Women Marry?

Yesterday a very good friend of mine sent me the following Pickles cartoon. It made me laugh out loud.

In case you don't read Pickles, their website describes the comic...
Married for 50 years, Earl and Opal appreciate know-me-better-than-I-know-myself honesty and good-natured ribbing. Pickles is a laugh-out-loud comic strip gem, showing the funny side of family and friendships.

Earl and Opal share their golden years with their 30-something daughter Sylvia, her husband, Dan and their beloved grandson Nelson. Whether observing the differences between genders and generations or taking a wry but sympathetic look at life in the twilight years, Crane’s good-natured wit and dry humor are sure to please readers of all ages. Pickles has topped comics polls across the nation again and again, and it appears in 500 newspapers around the world.

Crane was born in Twin Falls, Idaho, but grew up in the San Francisco Bay area. He graduated with a degree in art from Brigham Young University in 1973. Soon after Pickles’ debut in 1990, Crane “retired” as an art director for an advertising agency in Reno, Nevada, to devote his full attention to his comic strip. Although he often used cartoon figures in ads he designed, Pickles is his first syndicated comic strip.


I think my friend was telling me I'm smart...not a crazy cat lady.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Late last night, Little Merry Sunshine had its 50,000th visitor.

It took us 3 years, 9 months and five days to hit that milestone. And all I can say is WOW.


50,000 people have read Little Merry Sunshine. For real.

When I started writing this little blog on July 1, 2007, I hoped someone would read it. Anyone. And I hoped that it would be read by someone other than my mom. That's not to say she couldn't read it (She does. Daily.), just that I wanted other people to read it too. And you do!

To misquote Sally Field, "You like me! You REALLY like me!"

In all seriousness, I'm so grateful to all of my Little Merry Sunshine readers. Thank you for coming back each day. Thank you for sending me texts saying "I haven't received LMS for a week or so. Is everything okay?" Thank you for telling me when I missed the mark and for telling me when I've nailed it. Thank you for being polite in our disagreements over politics. And to #50,000, I especially appreciate you for a million reasons. You've got the formula for being in all the significant places in my life and I'm grateful for it. :)

Feel that? That's me giving each of you a huge hug of gratitude.

Here's to the next 50,000!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Do You Have Enough Oil For Your Lamp?

I saw this wonderful video on Simple Truths on Sunday and was reminded that, like most of the women I know, I don't do enough self-preservation.

Most women I know are care-givers. We take care of everyone else before we even think of taking care of ourselves. We put the needs of our parents, kids, pets, significant other, boss, friends, job, volunteer organizations, and so much more ahead of ourselves that we are usually running not just on empty, but with a physical and emotional energy deficit. The truth is, however, that if we're not taking care of ourselves, we can't possibly fulfill our other obligations to the best of our ability and we can't expect others to make us a priority if we fail to prioritize ourselves.

I know that this commitment to caring for others before ourselves is a behavior that's been passed down for generations, at least in my family it was, but it's time we break that habit. Plus, we'll be teaching our daughters, nieces, and other young girls in our lives that we have value.

So follow the new Golden Rule for women, "We must do unto Ourselves, as we do unto others," and take a day just for you. I give you permission.

Obama 2012: It's On! Are You In?

I'm in. Betsey and Ross are in. Are you?

President Obama sent me the following letter yesterday. Maybe you received it too. Notice that we're on a first name basis. Ya, I'm special like that.

Little Merry Sunshine --

Today, we are filing papers to launch our 2012 campaign.

We're doing this now because the politics we believe in does not start with expensive TV ads or extravaganzas, but with you -- with people organizing block-by-block, talking to neighbors, co-workers, and friends. And that kind of campaign takes time to build.

So even though I'm focused on the job you elected me to do, and the race may not reach full speed for a year or more, the work of laying the foundation for our campaign must start today.

We've always known that lasting change wouldn't come quickly or easily. It never does. But as my administration and folks across the country fight to protect the progress we've made -- and make more -- we also need to begin mobilizing for 2012, long before the time comes for me to begin campaigning in earnest.

As we take this step, I'd like to share a video that features some folks like you who are helping to lead the way on this journey. Please take a moment to watch:

In the coming days, supporters like you will begin forging a new organization that we'll build together in cities and towns across the country. And I'll need you to help shape our plan as we create a campaign that's farther reaching, more focused, and more innovative than anything we've built before.

We'll start by doing something unprecedented: coordinating millions of one-on-one conversations between supporters across every single state, reconnecting old friends, inspiring new ones to join the cause, and readying ourselves for next year's fight.

This will be my final campaign, at least as a candidate. But the cause of making a lasting difference for our families, our communities, and our country has never been about one person. And it will succeed only if we work together.

There will be much more to come as the race unfolds. Today, simply let us know you're in to help us begin, and then spread the word:

Thank you,


Monday, April 4, 2011

Crain's Says LFGSM is 9th Best Place to Work in Chicago!

Breaking News: Crain's Chicago Business names Lake Forest Graduate School of Management the 9th best place to work!

I've worked at Lake Forest Graduate School of Management for six weeks now and the one thing that's struck me more than anything else is how much the School cares about employees and wants us to look forward to coming to work each day.

During my interview process, during which I met with close to a dozen people, the final step was to meet with President & CEO John Popoli. In my entire career, I've never met with a CEO or managing partner during the interview process. In fact, during the seven years I worked for two major law firms in DC, I don't think I ever met the managing partner. Certainly, he wouldn't have known me by name. But not at LFGSM. John Popoli knows me by name and in my first six weeks has personally praised my performance and thanked me for a job well done on two occasions. That means a lot.

One of the other keys to LFGSM's success, as the Crain's article discusses, is the transparency of the administration. We have regular town hall meetings where we can ask any questions we want and we are sent minutes of the Management Board's weekly meetings. In my opinion, transparency is key to success and prevents the rumor mill that has been so alive in other businesses I have worked in.

LFGSM is also a fun place to work and works by the FISH! Philosophy. We offer weekly yoga classes, bring in cool speakers to help us be the best people we can be, do good work in the community, and have fun with Oscar and March Madness picks (the rumor that I was #1 in our pool was true until Butler and VCU ended my dreams with their Cinderella stories).

A few weeks ago, Jerry and Estella Hayes from season seven of The Biggest Loser came to motivate us to be our healthiest selves with their inspirational story of weight loss. Jerry lost 177 pounds and Estella lost 90 pounds AND they've kept it off for two years! Yes, that's me with Jerry and Estella. I've lost over 30 pounds and am working on another 25 by Memorial Day.
On April Fool's Day, one of my colleagues brought in "sushi" for the office. If it looks a little odd to you, it's because it's made with rice krispy treats, pound cake, gummy candy, frosting, and sprinkles.
Of course, we also work hard at LFGSM. But it's easy to work hard when our opinions are valued, we're encouraged to be the "CEOs of our own career," and we're treated like the valuable people we are.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

LMS Endorsement: Deborah A. Nelson for Arlington Heights Library Board

For the second time, Little Merry Sunshine is pleased to unconditionally endorse Deborah A. Nelson for the Arlington Heights Memorial Library Board of Trustees.

Ms. Nelson has served as a trustee since April 2008 and has served as the Board's treasurer for the last two years. During her tenure on the Board, Ms. Nelson has voted twice against increasing the library's tax levy, which is significant because so much of the library's funding comes from the property taxes of Arlington Heights residents.

Ms. Nelson's professional career has been spent in the non-profit industry working in customer service, strategic planning, public relations, and fund raising. Better than anyone I know, Ms. Nelson knows what it takes to run a successful non-profit in a fiscally responsible manner.

She pays her success forward by serving as a mentor for the community with the Random Acts of Kindness Club of Arlington Heights she began while volunteering at Patton Elementary School. She also models civic involvement by being actively involved in the education of her two children and advocating for all children with special needs.

Ms. Nelson is the epitome of integrity, commitment, experience and character that is so desperately needed in politics today. A vote for Ms. Nelson on Tuesday, April 5th is a vote for the continued success of the Arlington Heights Memorial Library.