Tag Archives: Love

How Much is that Doggie in the Window?


As the More is More Mom®, I’m all about…….more celebrating Wrigley’s birthday! This week commemorates his 8th birthday. Milk Bones and rawhide for everyone!

 

Wrigley as a pup

How much is that doggie in the window?

Well, actually, we didn’t find him in a shop window. Perhaps you can tell by just looking at his perfectly square, regal head and his beautiful, angelic face that Wrigley is, of course, a pure bred Chocolate Labrador Retriever. In other words, he hails from…….Wisconsin. I mean really, for a dog this special (read: NAUGHTY, but lovable) one must pay top dollar and travel five hours round trip by automobile. One of our most favorite things about him, other than his charming, winning, dear, sweet and funny personality, is his enormous block head. It is so big that people frequently mistake him for a Rottweiler. While he is my baby, I am thrilled to pieces that I didn’t actually give birth to him the old fashioned way, because that head would certainly have been a real deal breaker as it made its way through the birth canal. I have nightmares just thinking about it!

At the tender age of 8 (56 in dog years…he’s older than both of his parents!) he is just as naughty now as he ever was when he was just a pup…..which is plenty naughty. When he was a little guy, I would always tell him that if he didn’t shape up I would take him to Chinatown where they would make Moo Shu Wrigley out of him; at nearly 100lbs that would have been some pretty good eating.

One of Wrigley’s favorite past times is to swipe things that don’t belong to him. He’s surprisingly quiet and cat like for such a moose of an animal. He loooooves it, almost as much as a good belly rub (and who doesn’t love a good belly rub?), when you chase him around in circles after he steals something. Oh, he lets me know when it’s go time. The chase is on, when out of the blue, I hear an enormous thud upstairs, and then I hear him tear down the hallway. He’s got something that doesn’t belong to him, and he can’t wait for me to find out what it is! Sometimes he does these things for the sport of it and other times he just can’t help himself. Once, when Amanda was little, we were having lunch while we watched one of Nick’s baseball games. She was eating a lovely sandwich, made from very thinly sliced left over filets, while sitting in a folding chair. Before we knew it, Wrigley had quietly snuck his enormous head between the chair and the armrest and was nibbling at her sandwich from the underside. She never saw him coming.

Like any good Lab, Wrigley’s been up to plenty of mischief during his first eight years. He once ate the arm rest off of the door of our car, down to the metal stud. Twice he has eaten a tray of brownies, which the vet’s office informed me was not a lethal dosage for an animal of his size. When I inquired what would be a lethal amount, they did not respond, and I think they may have reported me to DPFS (Department of Puppy and Family Services). Seriously, when I brought him in for his 11 week check up, the doctor was running behind schedule due to an unexpected bunny rabbit emergency. When I told them I couldn’t wait any longer because I had to pick up my human children from school, they said I could leave Wrigley with them for his check up, but that he was so darn cute he might not be there when I returned. I told them, “Don’t make any promises you’re not willing to keep.” Those animal lovers are crazy! I once had to bring them a stool sample and they thought nothing of the fact that I had dog poop in my Kate Spade purse. I am quite sure Ms. Kate Spade had never intended her beautifully crafted handbags to be used to carry doggie stool samples. Wrigley was such a holy terror when he was a little pup that I cried nearly every day for the first six months. Chuck would tell me, “If you want to, we can give him away.” Between sobs I would tell him, “Of –course- I- want-to-give-him-a-way-but-he-lives-here-now.” 

He has gnawed through the telephone cord, while I was talking on the phone. He ate a Burning Bush, one branch at a time. When he didn’t die right away, I prayed that it was a slow releasing poisonous bush, which it was not. He ate all of the bark, strip by strip, off of our beautiful Crimson King Maple tree. It went in to shock and died. He ripped entire sheets of lattice off of our deck. When he would dig holes in the back yard, and all you could see were his hind quarters, I would tell him, “Go ahead and keep digging. It’s just about deep enough to be your grave.” One time he was angry with me because I put up the gate to keep him near me in the kitchen, and just to spite me he went and took a bite out of my favorite Puma gym shoes, and brought the piece over to me and dropped it at my feet. But I think my favorite naughty Wrigley story would be when he spent the night at my parent’s house and while George slept on the couch (because Wrigley was peacefully sleeping next to my mom on George’s side of the bed, and George did not want to disturb him) Wrigley stole his teeth! My mom heard a strange clank, clank, crunch sound and made the unpleasant discovery that George’s denture plate was gone! She pried open Wrigley’s mouth, and stuck her hand inside to find that he had already dropped it on the floor. Thankfully there wasn’t any damage; they were just covered in gooey, slimy, dog slobber. Apparently Wrigley hasn’t read any of Emily Post’s etiquette advice on how to be a good houseguest.

 

Hobbs 6 months, Wrigley 1 year

But more than anything……Wrigley is a lover. He has a girlfriend, Genevieve. When she’s not outside, he’ll meander to her house and tap at her front door until her mom, my friend Missy, either lets Gen out, or allows Wrigley in. His best friend in the entire world, however, is Hobbs who lives next door. They have been pals since they were puppies. Hobbs is a Golden Retriever by birth (meaning normal), but is an honorary Lab through friendship. He certainly holds his own when Wrigley, The Bull, comes charging at him at top speed. Hobbs is a true friend.

 

Nana and Wrigley

He loves his Nana, my mom, in a completely bizarre and unnatural way (though she totally encourages his obsession). At the mere mention of her name the drooling, the whimpering and the pacing begins. He reverberates with excitement! Nothing trumps his Nana.

 

I’ve never had a dog before and had absolutely no idea the kind of love you can feel for an animal. To me Wrigley is not just a dog, he is my baby. When people ask how many children I have I say three; my son Nicholas, my daughter Amanda and my furry son Wrigley……….I am now one of those crazy dog people.

Wrigley represents the very best parts of our family; love, affection, a sense of adventure, loyalty, devotion, adoration and satisfaction. He plays hard and he loves hard. He enjoys everything with such complete freedom and abandon; swimming at the quarry, sticking he head out the window when we go bye-bye in the car (someone always gives him a window seat), the vigor with which he takes off for our runs in a dead sprint (nearly taking my arm out of its socket every single time), the way he flies down the stairs when he hears the garage door open, and he hesitates for just a moment at the window in our Living Room to make sure it’s us, before he meets us at the door, and the way he enjoys and appreciates a fine meal.

 

Amanda, Wrigley and Nick; February, 2003

 

Christmas, 2009

When we first got Wrigley he was seven weeks old, Amanda was seven years old and Nick was ten. Soon Nick will be heading off to college and Amanda will be driving. Where did the years go?

 

Wrigley's most distinguised portrait, December, 2006

This is Wrigley, our beloved dog who has never missed a meal, a chance to go bye-bye in the car, never turned down an invitation to go for a run, never met a stranger, never missed an opportunity to nudge a guest in the crotch or ask for a belly rub. This is Wrigley….this is love…….Happy Birthday!!

More loyalty, more love, more devotion, more family……..

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(Appropriate) Teenage Romance….


As the More is More Mom®, I am all about…..more appropriate teenage romance. Friday morning, as my Nick was heading out the door for school, he reminded me that he and his girlfriend were celebrating their six month anniversary. Six months? Wow! That is like forever in teen-time. He asked, “Do you think you can do me a favor (why would this moment be any different than any other? Clearly, I am his personal assistant)? Can you please pick up a bouquet of flowers?” Flowers I can manage. I’m just glad he didn’t think that six months meant a trip to Tiffany’s.

Nick’s girlfriend is darling; beautiful, bright and an athlete. They have the perfect thing going. She’s busy with softball and her girlfriends. He’s busy with golf, hockey and the fellas. They both have such demanding and hectic schedules that when they do see each other, they are happy to hang out at home and watch funny or scary movies. The perfect situation!

 

I was happy to handle the floral bouquet for him. Truly, what does an 18 year old boy know about flowers (except that girls like them)? There’s this fabulous little shop downtown that creates stylish arrangements, so I gave them a call. Amanda, Rosebud, another gal pal and I stopped by to pick them up on our way home from school. The bouquet was smart; two red roses, yellow flowers, berries, greens and deep, purple flowers, all wrapped in leopard tissue with a great big red bow. While gorgeous, the arrangement was a little too sophisticated, not nearly youthful and festive enough. We girls decided we should take matters into our own hands….off to the market we sped.

 

More of everything is always better, especially gorgeous blooms. What could be more age appropriate than a super fun color combination of one dozen hot pink roses, bright green pom-pom flowers and lime green filler? I rolled up my sleeves, pulled out my sheers and got to work.

I think that a gift is only a gift when it doesn’t require any work to enjoy it. The best way to give flowers is with a vase, so I pulled out a pretty green glass vase with a wide mouth to accommodate a large bouquet.

 

 

After I unwrapped all of the bundles, I trimmed each stem so they would be about the same size. Here’s a little tip: remove any leaves or buds that will be underwater, particularly in a clear vase, so they don’t get soggy, slimy or stinky.

 

Once I was happy with the arrangement, I took a few sheets each of light pink and hot pink tissue paper and wrapped up the bouquet in a sweet little bundle, tying it together with zebra wire ribbon. So bold and sassy!

Nick is a good boy who was excited to present his girlfriend with his thoughtful gesture. She was touched and thrilled with her bouquet. How sweet!

More beautiful flowers, more tenderness, more appropriate gestures, more romance….

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You Can Go Home Again….


As the More is More Mom®, I am all about…..more reminiscing! I am a city gal; more specifically, a Northsider. I grew up four blocks from the Friendly Confines. I absolutely loved my neighborhood and cried great big crocodile tears when we moved from the city to the suburbs 14 years ago. Even though I was 28 years old, and a mother myself, I was going to miss being close to my own mom. What a cry baby! Clearly I am the Queen of Drama because as it turns out, we only moved 35 miles away.

Now, anytime I have an opportunity to head downtown, I jump at the chance. I couldn’t believe it; this week I had an appointment in the city which just so happened to be right across the street from St. Benedict’s, my very own grammar school and church. Chuck and I were even married there 20 years ago. I know you can’t go home again, but you can certainly pop in for a visit.

After my appointment, I decided to take a walk down memory lane. I walked up the church steps; where my brother and I would sit and wait for the 80 Irving Park Bus to take us home after school, where I walked in my cap and gown as I graduated from 8th grade (just like my Amanda did this spring) and where Chuck and I stepped out of the church, for the first time, as husband and wife.

 

I meandered down Leavitt Street and found myself at the entrance to the school. It looked exactly the way I remembered it; special. I have fond memories of visiting with my friends in the mornings (my tendency for visiting must have started in the womb) before we lined up, waiting for the doors to open. I was always so excited to go to school (okay, my High School experience wasn’t quite as stellar) because I adored my teachers and loved my friends. It was a very nice little bubble. The same kind of wonderful bubble my kids enjoyed at Our Lady of Perpetual Donations.

The temptation proved to be far too great; I had to go in. Never at a loss for words, I babbled on and on to the nice ladies in the office. I told them that I am rather wistful these days because my oldest is 18 and a senior in High School, while my youngest has left behind all of our wonderful years in grammar school and has embarked on her own High School career. I promised them that I had taken the mandatory workshop, “Protecting God’s Children” at Our Lady of Perpetual Donations years ago, so they agreed to take me on tour.

 

I loved it! St. Benedicts was exactly the same; busy hallways, friendly teachers and happy children. We went to what was once the school library. It was one of my favorite places, not because of the books, but because you could exit through the teachers lounge and swipe sugar cubes, back in the day before they were replaced with the more sanitary sugar packets. The girls would put them in their vest pockets and suck on them throughout the day.

One of my greatest memories has always been my fourth grade English teacher, Ms. Lach. She was famous for her “learning experiences.” Whenever a former student would come into her classroom she would always quiz them on grammar. She would ask things like, “What are the verbs of being” or “Sing the Preposition Song (which she made up, to the tune of Yankee Doodle Dandy).” My kids have also had a wonderful and memorable English teacher at Our Lady of Perpetual Donations. Passionate teachers are a gift!

 

It was great to visit the courtyard, a concrete parking lot, where we had recess. There was no playground equipment, just asphalt, a jump rope and your imagination. It’s a Catholic School tradition, only my pals play a great game that I don’t remember; 4 square. On the other side of the courtyard was the school gymnasium. It is huge; basketball court, bleachers, a stage, a balcony, a reception area and huge concessions. I have so many fond memories of our gymnasium, particularly the time I spent as a cheerleader. The boys played basketball, and the girls did cheer. No volleyball or basketball for the girls, just cheer. That’s okay, it was loads of fun. We did a Pom Pom routine to Michael Jackson’s Working Day and Night (a life long love was born).

The very best part of my St. Benedicts experience, which I hope will provide the same fond memory for my children, was the feeling of family and community, particularly my parent’s involvement in the school. There’s nothing like having the opportunity to get involved, know your children’s teachers and friends. It’s a bigger gift that you receive than you give. Goodness is its own reward!

Thank you to my St. Benedict family. Were it not for you, we would never have fallen in love with Our Lady of Perpetual Donations. More family, more community, more commitment, more sense of belonging….

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Once Upon a Time…..Two People Fell In Love


Do you know what 10,519,200 minutes, 175,320 hours and 7,305 days have in common? They all represent 20 years (including five leap years!). Today, that is exactly how long Chuck and I have been married. 20 years may certainly seem like a very long time, and it is, but I can attest, from experience that 20 years can absolutely fly by in the blink of an eye….

Chuck and I met the month before I entered my sophomore year in college. The following summer, when I was a mere 19 ½ years old (only two very short years older than my Nick is now…..) we got engaged. There isn’t all that much we don’t plan for; over the six months before we were engaged we researched and learned about diamonds, so that Chuck could make a good investment; we always consult consumer reports before we purchase anything, and then comparison shop; when we were ready to start a family we interviewed doctors in advance so we were confident in the person that would be delivering our children (and we were); before we took the plunge in purchasing the house in which we have raised our family, we rented in the area for a year, just to be sure that we really liked Winsome, IL…..where winning is a way of life (we did!). So, as planners, it should come as no surprise that we were engaged for three years before we were married!

When we wed, we were merely children; I was 22 and Chuck was 25. We were young and dumb! In this day and age it is a small miracle that it has all worked out, but I would attribute a good deal of that to our commitment to each other and our children, and a little bit of good luck. That’s not to say that over the past 20 years we haven’t experienced both joy and heartache…we have, but that’s a life that has been lived……..

 

 

 

How do you summarize 20 years of your life, wrap it up in a neat little package and tie it with a bow? When I really think about it, it’s actually pretty easy and rather extraordinary; what began as a pair of two very young and inexperienced people full of love, devotion, optimism, trust, faith and hope, has turned in to a very happy, successful and genuinely loving family of five…..Chuck, Vanessa, Nicholas, Amanda and Wrigley (I can’t even begin to fathom what our lives would have been like without him!) and I see that we are the luckiest people in the world. My only wish is that we might have the chance to revisit these past 20 years, just one more time, because they have gone by far too quickly for my liking.
Without my little family I would never have had the opportunity and learned to become the person that I am today…..the More is More Mom®. Because of these wonderful, tolerant, patient and amazing people I have had the good fortune to experience; more love, more fun, more trouble and aggravation (!), more pride, more giving, more support, more acceptance, more patience, more heartache, more compassion, more satisfaction, more good and happy memories, more closeness, more worry, more loyalty, more devotion, more laughs, more entertainment, a more fulfilling and complete existence…… In a life time, what more could a person ask?

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