A Note About Dads

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve called my dad in a panic: either the basement flooded, my car was smoking, the pregnancy test said POSITIVE (this was years ago; not pregnant now), I forgot the name of our favorite mechanic, or I was just needing to feel a sense of calm in the world. My dad has always had an answer to my most impossible moments.

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Watching Fitz become a Dad has been extraordinary. He has sewn up a beloved stuffed animal, read books in silly voices, changed thousands of middle-of-the-night diapers, walked fussy infants around restaurants, and despite having a sensitive stomach for anything medical, he watched both of our babies come into the world. He coached soccer. He took Gus to her first gymnastics class. Throughout all of this, he was patient, genuine, and interested.

And my two dads…Tom and Jerry. Who would’ve thought that in marrying Fitz, our fathers would become best pals?! They work together, have breakfast together, go to The Masters together…they even have the exact same birthday: Nov. 8th, 1947. In watching these dads become grandparents, I saw them show up to the bus stop, drop in on baseball games, host putting/chipping contests, babysit in a pinch (even overnight), dole out lollipops, and talk in earnest to these little beings, pointing out all the ways in which this world is magnificent. Throughout all of this, they were patient, genuine, and interested.

I cry readily thinking about these great men. I call on them at the very best and very worst times. I love them fiercely, even more so knowing that I’m not an easy person to love. 🙂 And they still show up. They still answer every phone call. They still ask, “What can I do to help?”

By just being who they are, they have allowed me to grow and get through the toughest, darkest parts of life. To Fitz, and to Tom and Jerry, you are everything good. You are patient, genuine, and interested. I love you for it all.

Three Fun Things

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  1. It’s Pride Month! I’m so delighted by the ways in which I’m seeing inclusion promoted and celebrated, particularly this delightful balloon installation at one of my favorite local spots, The Flower Shop in Glencoe. To those who identify as LGBTQ+: Hello, I love you, and I’m thankful for you.
  2. A friend asked what I’ve been reading and I cackled and said nothing and then got sad about that because reading is one of my most cherished hobbies. My current schedule (kids/ school/ summer camps/ home renovations/ writing) has been such chaos that reading feels like a far off place I might get to in August. Here’s hoping it arrives sooner because I’m dying to dig into Alyssa Mastromonaco’s newest book, So Here’s The Thing.
  3. In visiting a fixture supply store (shoutout to kitchen sinks), I was FINALLY able to sneak over to Burt’s Place, a pizza joint that has been on my radar for practically a decade. Our order: onion rings (#forhealth) and a medium sausage and pepperoni pan pizza. It was TRANSCENDENT. EXTRAORDINARY. REMARKABLE. CALL-YOUR-MOTHER-WORTHY. The whole place just gave me happy vibes.

Tell me something fun. ANYTHING fun. 🙂

Three Simple Things

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  1. I’m meeting my mom at the Chicago Botanic Gardens for our annual Mother’s Day stroll and lunch. Despite the fact that it’s 40 degrees (cringe), I’m hoping to bask in the tulip bunches.
  2. We put in the order for our kitchen cabinets to go into production and DANG, it’s starting to get very real that I will be without a kitchen for a full month while we renovate. Eeek.
  3. My birthday is on Friday and I am soooo looking forward to earning another trip around the sun.

What are you looking forward to?

 

Happy Birthday Theo: My Best Pal Turns 10

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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

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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