Suburban Scrawl

I am a wife, mom, writer, Chicago native, and a total control freak. I am the National New Cities Mentor for Listen To Your Mother,  a co-Producer of Listen To Your Mother Chicago, and a Social Media Researcher for BlogHer.

I am the author of the children's book Remembering Ruby: For Families Living Beyond the Loss of a Pet, and the Chicago travel guide for families with older kids, Chicken in the Car and the Car Won't Go: Nearly 200 Ways To Enjoy Chicagoland with Tweens and Teens. My sons are now twenty-one and twenty-four, which means I have extensive experience dealing with all kinds of crazy on a regular basis.

You can read my random ramblings about travel, parenting, fitness, motivation, pop culture, and anything else that pops into my mind at my blog, Suburban Scrawl. Come and visit; you'll make my day! 

Follow me on twitter (and Instagram!) @melisalw.

Karma’s a Beach.

I’m just finishing another fantastic week hanging with my sistuh-from-anuthuh-muthuh and the rest of my New Jersey family and, as always, there were lots of shenanigans. Some of our adventures made it onto social media and some did not, but there was one particular laugh riot that needed its own blog post. Some things I have learned about Liz over the years: 1 ....more

Moving On.

I have so much to write, so many ideas in my head, that I should probably rev up my draft folder again so I can hang onto all of it for future reference. I’ll get around to it, hopefully. Things are crazy as usual and I’ll likely write up how extraordinary our sixth and final LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER CHICAGO show was last Sunday, but for now I’m just going to give you the essay I read on stage at the Athenaeum Theatre and wish you a Happy Mother’s Day, if you’re celebrating it this Sunday ....more

Have You Ever?

Have you ever looked down at your right hand and noticed that the only ring you wear 24/7 on that right hand, the tanzanite one you got a couple of years ago when on a cruise with your husband, is missing and so you launch into a panic while you simultaneously run around the house looking for it and sob hysterically and each time you come back into the dining room where your husband is (eating a late dinner because he just walked in from his group bike ride) to report that the ring isn’t ANYWHERE, your panic level goes up a notch even as he says things like, “We’ll just have to get you a new one!” and “Don’t worry, we’ll find it!” because the ring means a lot to you and then you tell him that it must have broken off because you’ve lost weight recently but not THAT much weight and also it couldn’t have disappeared too long ago because there’s still a small indentation on your finger, and then in addition to the sentimentality of it all you realize you’re going to have to go to Charming Charlie tomorrow to get a cheap ring to wear because you nervously spin your wedding ring on your left hand and that tanzanite ring on your right hand all! day! long! ...more

I Just Keep Moving Because I’m Moving.

Strange times around here lately, as you know. As things go when you have an impending move, time seems to speed up as it passes and all of a sudden it’s as if there are literally a million things that have to be done in what seems like an extremely short amount of time. We have movers coming to pack our belongings so that’s a relief, but moving to another state is a huge endeavor even without that element, made more difficult (and exponentially complicated) with each extra year of being planted in the same place ....more

You Can Take the Girl Out of Chicago…

It’s finally time to write about what’s going on around here. I’m leaving the Chicago area. I say “I” because Jim has been gone for nearly six months, and the boys are sticking around here: one in the western suburbs and the other just over the Wisconsin border (Kenosha County is considered part of Chicagoland) ....more

Definitely A Cloud Factory, and Don’t You Forget It.

It never ceases to amaze me, the things that kids carry with them for a lifetime. Both of my boys were born in Kenosha, Wisconsin and… Wait, sidenote: I often forget, since we moved back to my hometown area of Chicagoland when the boys were two and a half and seven months old, that they are actually Cheeseheads. In fact, whenever I’ve been asked I claim them as fellow Chicagoans without hesitation ....more

Bring Your Favorite City Home With Modern Map Art

The fine folks at Modern Map Art (affiliate link) provided me with a Chicago map poster in exchange for this post. All opinions are, obviously, mine. I’ve been furiously collecting Chicago-themed stuff lately ....more

Question of the Day: Have You Ever?

Have you ever driven into downtown Chicago to meet a friend for lunch and, when you arrive at the hotel valet parking garage you reserved space in ahead of time on your favorite parking discount app, you don’t actually see the valet at the stand that’s in the circle drive and you wait there in your car for a minute to see if he would eventually appear but he doesn’t and so you glance over at the entrance to the garage itself and think, “Huh, last time I parked in the city, the valet was actually IN the garage so perhaps I need to go in the garage to find him here too” and you drive your car through this tiny little tunnel thingie that’s barely wide enough but you do it anyway because it’s the only way to get access to the garage and then you keep going down and around the tight, tight curve to the garage door, sneaking up as close as you can so the sensors in the concrete will make it open for you, and then when it doesn’t you realize you made a huge error in judgement because you really should have turned your car over to a valet at the stand and not tried to take care of this particular thing on your own, so you call the parking app people to ask them if they can call the hotel valet to get you out of there in case the pavement has those spikes in it, the ones that will pop any tires that back up over them and the guy goes, “Uh yeah I don’t have their number, can you back out?” and you’re all “Thanks for nothing” and since you don’t see any spikes in the pavement when you put the car in reverse and look at your snazzy rear view backup camera and your fancy side mirrors that aim down towards the pavement when the car is going backwards, you try to back up the sort-of steep, tight, tight curve, all the while your sensors are beep-beep-beeping to tell you you’re WAY too close to the wall and you start to panic because now all of a sudden you feel like Austin Powers trying to turn that little cart around and you mess with it for a minute or two because you are normally an AMAZING driver and can parallel park practically with your eyes closed and without the use of your snazzy rear view backup camera: you go forward and back, forward and back, and somehow you are totally messing up when it comes to turning the wheel in the right direction and you start to get very upset and cry a little bit and feel one hundred percent impaired so you finally throw the car into park, set the emergency brake, lock it up and go to the hotel lobby to see if the valet has returned, and he has, and you tell him the whole story and he says “Show me” and then “Um, nobody can get in there with your car there” and you’re all “I KNOW! HELP ME!” and he asks for your keys and then he expertly backs your car up the tight, tight curve and through that tiny little tunnel thingie and back out to the circle drive where he is still smiling at you–in a compassionate way and not a snarky way–as he gives you your claim ticket and tells you to have a nice, relaxing lunch and then when you finally meet up with your friend (late), you say, “You’re not going to believe the pickle I just got myself into” and then you cry a little bit more as you tell her over pizza? I have ....more

My Best of 2016: Happy New Year!

It’s (finally) the last day of 2016 and I’m so happy it’s over. So many of us have had an ultra-challenging year personally, and we’re ready to close the door on it and hope for a Happy New One. I wrote 75 posts this year (not including this one) which is, I’m certain, a new low for me ....more

A Totally Predictable Star Wars Christmas

Even though we’re with extended family in Knoxville, the Wells family will continue our Christmas tradition of going to see a movie followed by dinner prepared by Jim. (We’re having Green Curry Chicken, which is Thai and not Chinese, but still Asian. Close enough.) Our movie? ...more