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An Open Letter to My Dad on his 75th Birthday

I’ve gone back and forth on my whole “Dad’s 75th birthday post” idea. Should I write something ABOUT my father?  Or something TO him? The first way would be so easy. I could write about all the other things in the world that are also now 75 … like Tom & Jerry and Bugs Bunny … or Gone with the Wind and McDonald’s. I could craft (hopefully witty) little parallels comparing him to these lovable characters and time-honored institutions. I could even create some cutesy graphics to go along with everything. Yep, it would be a piece of cake. Writing something about my dad would definitely be the easy way to go.

Which is why I’m going the other way.

Because my dad deserves my best. He deserves a letter (a whole barrel of them actually) written by me to him. I can’t remember the last time I did that. Actually, have I EVER done that? I’m pretty sure the last time I told him I loved him was in a text. (shaking head at self) Go, me. 

The boy who would one day be my dad 

Dear Dad,

I think one of my earliest memories of you involves a little game we used to play on weekend mornings called “Trap Sleep.” Jeff and I would lounge around in the big bed with you on Saturdays while you pretended to be asleep. And as soon as either of us moved, you’d throw a heavy arm or leg on top of us preventing our escape. Over and over and over again. I remember laughing so hard that I probably almost wet the bed.  Probably. Almost.

You’re an easy person to love, Dad. For so many reasons.

Your personality is magnetic. Mom says your sense of humor was one of the first things that drew her to you. You could tell a joke like nobody else. Your dance moves were unparalleled. From time to time, you were even known to dazzle the crowd with a spontaneous backflip on the neutral ground (that’s “median” to anyone outside of New Orleans) during a Mardi Gras parade. You were the life of the party wherever we went. And I love that. Because you are my dad.

Your knowledge is deep. But, for a while there, I only knew you were gifted mathematically. And I wasn’t. (Thanks again for all those late night Algebra and Geometry study sessions, by the way.) It wasn’t until pop culture phenomena like Trivial Pursuit and Jeopardy came onto the scene that I realized my dad was such a brilliant man. On so many different subjects. We’ve wanted to submit your name as a game show contestant for years. You can hold your own in so many conversations for which I can only smile and nod. And I’m in awe of that. Because you are my dad.

Your patience is unprecedented. Mom always says you’re the most patient person in the family. And even though that contest is a footrace in our little circle, it never ceases to amaze any of us how unflappable you can be, when the rest of us would have beaten our heads (or more likely someone else’s) against the wall. I can still remember driving back to college one weekend during my freshman year only to realize the second I arrived that I’d forgotten one of my textbooks back home. When I called you to report that I’d arrived at school safely and mentioned the forgotten book, you got in your car, drove the 85 miles there, handed me the book, then turned around to drive the 85 miles back … all late on a Sunday night, when you were waking for work at 4am the next morning. Who does that?!!? Nobody else that I know. And I’m lucky. Because you are my dad.

Your generosity is immense. If someone needs a favor, all they have to do is ask.“Hey, Bill. I’m in a bind. Can you help me build a deck this weekend?” inquires a friend. “Dad, can you pick up Dean from football practice all week?” asks your pain in the ass daughter. “Papa, I know I said the test was Wednesday but it’s really tomorrow. Can you come over right now and help me study?” requests your grandchild who has no idea she’s calling in the middle of the Saints game. Your answers have always been yes, yes and yes. And I’m spoiled. Because you are my dad.

Your love is boundless. Over the years, you’ve heard me say I hit the lottery with you and Mom as parents. (Yeah, sure. I’ll throw her a bone here, too.) There’s literally never been a time I’ve needed you and you weren’t there. From three-dimensional solar system science projects and senseless fender benders to middle-of-the-night childbirths and even accidental toe circumcisions … you’ve been there for all of it. Truly, I wish I could be half of the parent you (and Mom) are to me. They just don’t make them like you anymore. And I’m blessed. Because you are my dad.

For all of these reasons and so many more, I want to say thank you. Thank you for being the best husband to my mother, the best father to Jeff and me, the best father-in-law to Dave and the best grandfather to my children that this girl could ever ask for.

I love you, Dad. Happy birthday.


(also known as Michele … to anyone who didn’t grow up in my house)

 Grandfather Extraordinaire

with two of his biggest fans


Sleep Well Last Night? Yeah, Me Neither.


“I shouldn’t have eaten that third cookie.”


“Don’t forget to write a check to the drama teacher.”


“It’s windy tonight. I wonder if the patio umbrella is still open.”


“Wait. I didn’t have three cookies. I had two while I was on the phone. That’s five cookies.  … (cue the self-loathing) … Dammit!”


“I should really get up and leave myself a note to write that check.”


“Go to sleep! You need to wake up early. … (more self-loathing) … Stupid Modern Family reruns.”


“Great. Now, I have to pee. Might as well get up and write myself that note. And wasn’t there something else I was going to check on? (thinking … and obsessing … instead of sleeping) … I can’t remember.”


And that was only the first five minutes of my internal monologue as I lay in bed trying to fall asleep recently.

Insomnia. According to the CDC, more than 60 million Americans are plagued by this sleep disorder … and I’m one of them. Sometimes I have trouble falling asleep, sometimes I have trouble staying asleep and sometimes both. I’ve tried everything … Ambien, Lunesta, Tylenol PM, Simply Sleep, Unisom, Benadryl, etc. They all put me to sleep, but at what cost? Chemicals I don’t need in my body and/or sleep aid hangovers that would give even Bradley Cooper’s Phil a run for his money.

(obnoxiously loud yawn) Enough.

So when the people at Dreamitall contacted me about conducting a product review on their Natural Sleep and Dream Aid, I drowsily accepted. And I was immediately sent a 60-capsule bottle of their supplement as well as two tea samples: PEACE (eases tension, headaches, stomach upset & sleeplessness) and KRISHNA (promotes well-being, vitality & clarity).

Because the package arrived during the school/work week, I first indulged in the tea samples which I shared with my 13-year old daughter. With ingredients like passion-flower, spearmint, lavender and basil, the aroma was heavenly and we both agreed it was a nice addition to our evening wind down routine (which also includes scented candles, decadent snacks and, yes, more Modern Family). I wanted to wait until the weekend to try out sleep aid supplement … in case, like the others, it was a little too powerful.

There are TWO different dosage recommendations:

  1. Take 2-3 capsules before bedtime.
  2. Take 2 capsules before bedtime and a 3rd a few hours into the sleep cycle.

My plan was to try one of the dosage recommendations on each of the weekend nights.

The first night … I took two capsules before bedtime and fell asleep quickly. A few hours into the night, I woke up to use the bathroom (the scourge of my coin-purse-sized bladder) and took a third capsule. Other than that one waking, I didn’t wake at all during the night. I slept soundly and woke easily. Oh, and I dreamed I was pregnant. I remember it vividly. I woke up refreshed and (truth?) kind of happy at the sweet memory of what it felt like to be an expectant mommy. (Remember, my “baby” is 13.)

The second night … I took three capsules before bedtime and fell asleep quickly again. But then something unexpected happened. I got a text in the middle of the night from a friend who is dealing with a health issue. I told her she could text me anytime if she needed to talk. And she didn’t know I was product testing a sleep aid. (“Damn!” I remember worrying, because sleepy Michele can be a little selfish. “This isn’t going to bode well for my morning.”) My friend and I texted back and forth for over an hour. I was happy to help her but concerned about my ability to fall asleep once we concluded our conversation. My mind was filled with worry. I’d missed out on a good bit of sleep. And I had a sleep aid in my system. But somehow, amazingly, I only fretted a few minutes before falling back into a sound sleep until morning.

And yes. You guessed it. No sleep aid hangover. Even with the increased dosage and major sleep interruption. Color me impressed.

Q: That’s great, Michele, but can you tell us what’s in this stuff?

A: Yes, and know that I’m typing straight from the label: “hops flower, valerian root, passion-flower, lemon balm, peppermint leaf, gelatin (capsule), rice flour.” I don’t think you can get more all-natural than that.

Q: So it works as a sleep aid and a dream enhancer?

A: I wondered about the same thing when I first learned about the product so I asked the Dreamitall Creator/Founder myself. (Oh, and I might have mentioned something about wanting to fly on the back of a beautiful, purple unicorn named Persephone in my dreams.)

Dreamitall‘s reply: “My supplement is definitely designed to help you sleep like a baby, but not necessarily guaranteed to make you dream. Even about purple unicorns :) While the herbs I use CAN increase dreaming vividness (and have done so in many cases), the main reason people will dream is that the herbs help deepen your sleep, thereby extending REM. Because dreams most often occur during REM, more active dreaming is definitely possible.”

Seriously, who wouldn’t want to ride Persephone?!!?


But enough about MY sleep problems. Want to try Dreamitall for yourself? I’m giving away two 60-capsule bottles of the Natural Sleep & Dream Aid to two lucky readers.

You have until 12:00AM on Friday, November 6, 2015 to enter. There are lots of ways to earn entries … and some can be earned daily!


Have I solved my sleep problems for good? Let’s hope so. Now, if you’ll excuse me … I have a date with a magical horse.

Hit it, Mama Cass.


A Letter to My Son on His 16th Birthday

Dear Dean,

You are sixteen today. SIXTEEN! How on Earth is that possible?!!? I remember being sixteen. I loved being sixteen. And I’m pretty sure I was just sixteen about twenty minutes ago. (pausing to dab corner of eye) For the record, I think you’re going to be way better at it than I was. You are more centered. And driven. And well, let’s just say I didn’t have straight As on my report card at your age. Or even straight As and Bs. (sigh) Stupid Geometry.

Nevertheless, on this special day in October in the year 2015, I want to take a moment to mention a few pearls of “wisdom” I’ve cultivated over my forty-something years of life. (You don’t have to sit down. We won’t be here long.)

Stay focused. You have this amazing ability to shut the world out and get your work done. Every i gets dotted and every t gets crossed with all your books stacked according to size and positioned in right angles the entire time. I envy that kind of organization. You are a better version of me … me to the Nth power, you might say. So sometimes I feel like I get you more than others do. Of course, any time I hear someone use a term like “gentle giant” to describe you, I know that they get you, too. These are the people who are usually my favorite in all the world.

There’s more to life than sports. Don’t get me wrong. Football games, basketball games … they all have their place. I’m just saying that, if you’re as unlucky enough as your dad to marry someone who is completely disinterested in this form of entertainment, you might want to open your mind to theater, music or whatever other art form your future girlfriend and/or wife may enjoy. You’ll thank me for it later. (She sure as hell better, too.)

Popularity now means NOTHING. There were times I felt cool in high school. And there were times I felt like a big dork. I suspect I was probably a combo platter of both. The bottom line is (as any adult will testify) the things that make you cool as a teenager are almost always the exact things that make you a loser as an adult. Kids who are considered the coolest now will very likely be the jackasses pumping gas into your Mercedes later in life. I know that’s hard to believe right now. You’ll just have to trust me on this one.

No girl is worth making you feel like a puppy. Sure, in the world of dating, there’s definitely a game to be played. And played to perfection. But if you ever find that a girl is leading you around like a dog on a leash, dump her like yesterday’s decomposing trash. Or, so help me, I’ll sic your protective little sister on her. And we both know that’s a fate much worse than anything I could do to her.

Diversify your palate. Nobody likes cooking for a picky eater. And one day you just might have someone cooking for you besides me. Do yourself a favor and try shellfish again. There’s a reason that Americans eat more than 5 billion pounds of it a year. The shit is good. (You know I curse sometimes, right? Wait. You’re 16. Of course you do.)

Always own a pet. Disney vacations, XBox 360s, iPhones, Beats headphones, trampolines … hands down, the best gift your dad and I ever gave you and your sister was your cat, Milo. Sure, you begged us to return him the very night we brought him home. But, ever since we flat-out refused you and told you to get used to the newest member of the family, I think he’s actually become your favorite. Pets love you unconditionally. And pets reduce stress. Except when they cause it by biting you. And stalking you in the hallway. But that’s just Milo. Not all cats are such a-holes.

Call your mother. Yes, I know this sounds cliché. But there’s a reason we mothers say that. For as long as I roam this planet, there will never be a time that I don’t want to hear about the latest in your life, your friends, your studies, your job, what you hope to achieve or even just what you had for lunch. So call me. I will always, always be there to listen.

And just like I told your sister on her last birthday, always remember …

If I couldn’t be there sitting beside you
watching whatever it is that you’re doing,
it’s probably a bad idea.

Please find another activity.

Happy birthday, Dean. I’m ridiculously proud on a daily basis to be your mom. I know your future holds great things. And I feel privileged to claim a front seat in watching it all unfold.

I love you, now and always.


How many babies have a theme song?

You did … and I’ll never forget it.


Hold On To Your Jello Pudding Pops. We’re Stepping Back In Time!

Watching Scooby-Doo and the gang with your kids. What could be more nostalgic than that? Wait! I’ve got it. What about watching Scooby-Doo and the gang in stop motion video?!!? (Hello? Rudolph, Heat Miser and just about everything from Rankin-Bass Productions.) Created using the just-released LEGO Scooby-Doo sets, these new videos will be uploaded every week. Visit to subscribe to the WB Kids YouTube channel and check out these classic clips:

Oh, and before I forget … WB Kids wants to thank its fans by giving away four $200 gift cards from Target, Wal-Mart, Toys R Us & Amazon?

Click HERE for a chance to win!


Nine Ways Teenagers Are Just Like Sharknado

The big release of Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! is July 22, 2015. That’s tomorrow! It’s the third installment in what will now be one of the most epic …. groundbreakingmonumental … oh, I give up. It’s the third one. And, if you have even one frail, osteoporosis-inflicted funny bone in your body, you should tune in.

My daughter, Viv, and I couldn’t be more excited. We’ll probably watch it dressed as our favorite characters. Eating sushi and shark-themed snacks. With some kind of blood red beverage. Of course.

Oh, and speaking of my daughter, recently turned 13, do you guys realize I am now the parent of TWO teenagers?!!? (Bring on Wally World.) And as I was thinking about Sharknado 3, and my kids, an idea came to me for a blog post. And thus was born ….

Nine Ways Teenagers Are Just Like Sharknado

1. At any moment, you could have your head bitten off.

Without warning.

2. Everything just so, so, so messy  … almost all of the time.

Blood? Please. I wish blood was the only mess they made. Sharks ain’t got nothing on teenagers.

3. The dialogue is usually some of the most ridiculous you’ve ever heard.

Seriously, you couldn’t write this stuff if you tried. Except for Sharknado. Because people are writing it. And getting paid for it. (pausing to think, which explains the faint smell of smoke around my head) Wonder if they’d hire my kids.

4. Second chances are always available as a safety net.

Don’t like the football team? Try the basketball team. Failed the math test? Ask about extra credit. Swallowed by a shark? A friend can cut you out with a chainsaw. Problem solved.

5. You’re often asked, nay expected, to do something quite difficult that you’ve never actually done before.

Like reverse bungee jumping, Latin conjugation or landing an imperiled plane being attacked by flying sharks.

6. Absurd characters make cameos in your day-to-day life.

And while none of them is Andy Dick or Billy Ray Cyrus, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if someone like Rodrick or Patty Farrell from the Wimpy Kid series suddenly walked through my door one day.

7. Like sharks, I’m almost positive that teenagers are also bisectable by chain saw.

Although technically, I am only guessing on this one.

8. You shouldn’t try to make sense of anything that is happening around you.

It’s best just to plant your feet firmly and deal with the problems (or flying sharks) as they’re thrown at you.

9. The best advice to give a teenager (and a Sharknado viewer) is always the same.

Don’t take everything so seriously. It’s just supposed to be fun.

Can’t wait!

I don’t think I’ve been this excited since I learned you could fry cheese, you guys!

Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No! World Premiere

Wednesday, July 22 9/8c

SyFy Network


Looking for a new way to connect with your kid? How about performing together?

Tell the truth. It just wouldn’t be summer without a blog post from me about doing a play with my daughter. Right? (tapping you insistently on the shoulder … because my inability to post consistently has caused me to lose your attention)

Well, of course right.

Remember when we did Joseph (and his Crazy Wild Funky Dreamcoat) or Elvis Presley’s everybody’s-in-love-with-everybody-even-across-gender-lines All Shook Up. Doing those plays together created some of the best memories I’ve ever made with my girl. Which is why this summer, together with about 70 other talented people, we took on Shrek the Musical. I played a witch (specifically the Wicked Witch of the East) as well as Queen Lillian, Fiona’s mother. Which is weird because Vivien (my daughter) actually played Fiona. Well, she played TEEN Fiona. If you’ve ever seen the show, Fiona is depicted at three ages: child, teen and adult. Viv’s role was in the middle.

Here she is with her other two selves performing their signature song:

Seriously, how good is my kid?

One of the biggest numbers in the show is entitled Let Your Freak Flag Fly. The message is simple. BE who you are and, more importantly, EMBRACE who you are. I like that a lot … probably because I pride myself on being someone who doesn’t always quite fit the mold. (Don’t we all feel that way sometimes? Please just nod politely.)

YOU: But, Michele, do you have pictures?

ME: Are you kidding?!!? I actually started a Photo Circle with the entire cast and crew. Which means I have exactly 827 pictures … and counting. But don’t worry. I’m just posting a few.

The three lovely faces of Fiona

Action shots (thanks to the friends who took them for us!)


Some of Viv’s besties came to see her. (Yes, that’s Nutella in her right hand.  Now THAT’S a friend.)

And some of mine came, too. (XOXO)


So many incredible people in this show. 

Gratuitous witch selfies 

Who says witches can’t be angels?

As always, I loved every single minute of it. I’m so proud of you, Viv.

Can’t wait ’til 2016!