Happy Birthday Theo: My Best Pal Turns 10

Pup prince copy

I’m a mess for words.

Yesterday our sweet dog turned 10. That feels enormous. I know it’s enormous in an emotional kind of way.

Everything got better when Theo came into our lives (we adopted him from Midwest Boston Terrier Rescue in 2010 with the recommendation from a friend/cousin). When you have to let out a dog, gone are the wild nights out and mornings sleeping in…he definitely gave Fitz and I a welcomed responsibility. But our home grew so joy-filled. We learned to balance his vet appointments, meals, and walks with our lifestyles. We learned that Theo prefers humans over other dogs. We were impressed with his deep downward dog stretches. We realized he could destroy every dog toy on the market.

To have a dog is to have a cheerful home. Ten years in and I am still thrilled to walk through the door and see him wagging his tail. I’ve walked Theo tens of thousands of miles in his lifetime: from city strutting to endless neighborhood paths with a stroller…to just the two of us, now that the strollers are long gone. I have always cherished this time with him; it’s simple, it’s quiet.

Theo was ecstatic when we had our two children. In turn, they are ecstatic about him. One of Wells and Gus’ favorite pretend games to play is ‘puppy,’ in which they take turns caring for one another as a pet/pet owner. It delights them when Theo shows up and gamely plays a real puppy among them.

We’ve taken our Boston Terrier to Boston, Massachusetts (Harvard, even!). He LOVES being on the boat up in the North Woods of Wisconsin. He flops on the grass, face basking in the sunlight. He still steals a spot on our duvet to nap for most of the day. He brings the snuggles, big time. He is never happier than when he is with us.

To sum up 10 years is hard. But to have a dog is to have a portal to joy.

Love you, Theo. Happy birthday.

 

 

 

City Girl Confessions: So Much More Than A Candy Store

IMG_3494.jpg

City Girl Confessions is my recurring column via The Glencoe Anchor.

A few years ago I covered the grand opening of The Sweet Buddha in Glencoe. I shot photos, interviewed owner Sarah Miller, and had a sugar-filled day at her cheery candy store. 

But here’s the thing: I just walked into The Sweet Buddha this past week and found myself taken aback. Everything was different. Is the candy still there? Yes, delicious candy is still present and accounted for. But the vibe of the shop has evolved. I suspect its growth can be traced to the evolution most local businesses adapt to- tailoring your shop and its products to consumer demand and laboriously tweaking that formula to stay fresh and current.

Fresh and current are two words that came to mind when I walked into The Sweet Buddha. There is a lovely display of jewelry that runs the gamut of easy, everyday bracelet stacks to delicate rings and earrings with a bit of sparkle. I noticed several handbags, scarves, and zip pouches along with go-to gift items like glassware and candles. I grinned when I saw a whimsical station of the store in which shoppers could make customized dorm room signs using letters from old license plates. 

My youngest child, who happened to be tagging along, busiest herself by making friends with stuffed animal unicorns. A quick glance let me see that the store was a treasure trove for young ones and their bright imaginations- colorful backpacks, rainbow reading pillows, notebooks, glittery signs, etc..

When I gestured to the brightly lit event space, Sarah passed along information on birthday parties, personalized candy baskets, and event hosting (not just for children either- think jewelry making or painting).

The genius herein is that the store owner is a parent and knows how to balance the shopping harmony among the age groups. Sarah wisely set up a couch, coffee table, and TV so kids are welcome to hang out, relax, and enjoy a sweet treat while parents shop for a few blissfully uninterrupted minutes. Yes, you read that correctly: this store has a spot specifically for your kids so you can shop in peace. 

I’ll confess: I thought I had this local shop figured out. I had written about it long ago, I had known its story. The problem was that I didn’t check back in- something that often happens when we consumers get busy with and opt for convenience over shopping local. What I learned is that The Sweet Buddha still satisfies a sugar fix but it shines as a fresh specialty store. 

As my visit came to an end, I made a promise to myself that I would not fall into this kind of trap again- the trap that removes curiosity from our daily lives. Small business owners work exhaustive hours to ensure a positive consumer experience in our community. Let’s stay curious about how these stores are doing. Let’s walk in and look around when we have an extra five minutes. Let’s share the secret of what makes a local business so great. In doing so, you might learn, as I certainly did, that this is so much more than a candy store. 

Photo credit: Sarah Miller

Ode to The Riviera

The last time I went to a concert at The Riviera was a lifetime ago. Truly. I think it was 2004. I hadn’t even met my husband at that point.

The concert I attended? The Killers…who were baby famous at the time (remember Mr. Brightside?). The music was great but what stuck with me most was how insanely cool the venue was. I felt like I had been transported when I walked inside and looked up at the gorgeously ornate ceiling above the bar, its paint peeling off in thick, curled wedges.

It’s beautiful. It’s ramshackle. It’s standing room only. Your shoes might stick to the floor but the vibe is super chill and the bathrooms stalls are scrawled with funny quips. Basically heaven!

What I learned a lifetime ago at The Riviera was that I am a lover of small venue concerts. Sure, I’ve done Buffett and Dave Matthews shows at Alpine Valley (important: I’ve since retired permanently from Dave Matthews). I’ve sang my heart out to the Rolling Stones at Wrigley Field. I had the time of my life seeing T-Swift during her Reputation arena tour in Indianapolis. But there is something so mind-blowing about hanging out with your person, listening to incredible music in an intimate venue that resembles someone’s cool, old basement.

We saw James Bay (Electric Light tour). I was in heaven.

I had really fallen for his stuff since his debut on Saturday Night Live. As I finished the draft of my second novel, I looped some of his songs on a playlist that kept my motivation high as I typed away and edited. I knew every lyric, every chord change. His music sent me down a rabbit hole of bliss, lust, persistence, and fun- precisely what I needed to tap into as I wrote.

On the train ride home Fitz and I were recalling our favorite parts of the show. “I can’t get over The Riv,” Fitz said. “I’d go back to that place again and again.”

I just smiled.

St. Patrick’s Day, Somewhat

    • 7am Coffee and a protein bar
      Leprechaun hijinks
      M&M pancakes for the kids
      Research for kitchen lighting
      Church and high heels
      Squash soup and a muffin
      Editing for 3 hours
      575 words for a ‘How to’ freelance pitch
      A half-assed dinner with a little bit of everything thrown in
      Kids Baking Championship
      Homemade chocolate chip cookies (inspired by Kids Baking Championship)
      Meeting prep
      Dog snuggles
      Selection Sunday #iowa
      Zero green beers

    It just sorta happened this way, despite the fact that I’m a million percent Irish and have the tattoo to prove it.

    🍀☘️🍀☘️🍀☘️🍀

    Happy weekend, friends!

    Happy Friday, Happy March

    Green doughnuts just seemed like the ideal breakfast option this morning (I get them right as the store opens so they’re piping hot).

    I’m working on some inclusion projects with my church and within my hometown so I was delighted to swing by Youth Services of GlenBrook. They had the most cheerful conference room, complete with whimsical, joyous paintings.

    And just in case you need to laugh, here is a photo of a jumping goat featured in an ancient National Geographic magazine from my childhood. My sister and I always found the goat’s expression hysterical, and I laughed even harder when my sis tracked down the image and texted it to me the other day. Why is silly humor the best kind?!

    Happy weekend!

    Weekend: Busy Fun

    • Galentines & Valentines
    • A 7th birthday at Dave & Buster’s
    • Chocolate piñata (!!!)
    • Meetings for LGBTQ+ advocacy
    • Tulips, roses, and hydrangeas
    • Norman Love chocolates
    • A baby shower (rare these days)
    • Elton John’s Farewell tour
    • Drinking champagne three days in a row
    • A brief trip to a casino; always fascinating
    • New Member Ceremony at my church
    • Family birthday party with a Pokémon theme and a peanut butter cup cake
    • NO writing while made me crazy because I had sooo many ideas and no down time

    Did you do something busy fun? Is Dave & Busters really just Vegas for kids?! Tell me in the comments…