Tag Archives: Chicago
27 May

See these little flowers…

Those little flowers represent something big for us.

Living in the Chicago-area, in an apartment, without a balcony or a porch or even a sunny window, we’ve never had the chance to grow plants during the summer. No marigolds or petunias or geraniums. No basil sprouting in the kitchen. No flower containers bursting with life.

And it’s made me sad.

Gardening is such a simple pleasure. To get my hands dirty while planting something with a beautiful color or shape or something that smells wonderful, that is a small joy for me. It calms me down. Helps me focus. Gives me something to look forward to. But it’s never been for us. Not here.

But guess what?!

After seven years of living in a dark, plant-less apartment, I now get to grow something! Okay, it’s nothing that big. But our new apartment has a teeny-tiny balcony, no more than six inches deep. And even better, there are planter boxes hanging on the balcony rail. Which meant that summer = plants!

I eagerly waited for the weather to warm up. And when the time was right (which just so happened to be today), I hustled down to buy some plants for our window boxes. I spent an hour wandering up and down the aisles at the Home Depot Garden Center, trying to decide what to plant in our very first window box. In my zealousness, I bought marigolds and geraniums and celosia and creeping jenny and sweet potato vines. Probably too much for our little boxes but I couldn’t help myself. It was too exciting!

The whole family helped plant the flowers. We all watched as they took their place on the balcony. And now that they are hanging in the windows, I walk by every so often just to look at the pretty flowers outside. I’m a happy girl.

So now we wait. And watch. Hoping that our little plants will grow into something bigger.

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Mountains out of mole hills

20 May

In case you haven’t heard, the NATO summit has taken over Chicago. Dignitaries from all over the world are meeting amidst the skyscrapers of downtown and those of us that live here are on red alert.

The protests might get out of control.

Terrorists might try to attack.

The firefighters and police are on stand-by.

Helicopters are circling the city.

People are staying home from work.

“Don’t go near the city unless you need to.”

Traffic is supposed to be a nightmare.

And so far, with all that warning, with all that hype, the biggest conflict we’ve seen involves a 17-month-old little boy that doesn’t like his carseat and who can’t be consoled. Not even with goldfish crackers.

Let’s hope that Henry’s tantrums are the worst drama of the week.

Rahm Emanuel could learn something from these kids

13 Mar

Rahm Emanuel has a lot to learn.

The mayor of Chicago is a fine politician and I don’t want to disparage his work. But he was recently blown out of the water by a group of high school kids.

At the 2012 Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago Youth of the Year banquet, Mr. Emanuel spoke before an audience of 800 about the importance of after school education. He touted his recent legislation and budget maneuvers. He tried to sound accomplished. And really, no one disagreed with his message.

His speech served as an introduction for 10 urban, underrepresented kids who had been nominated as Youth of the Year by their local Boys & Girls Club. The kids were all high school juniors or seniors and they came from all over the Chicago area, in fact, many of its worst neighborhoods. The kids had submitted essays, interviewed with a panel of judges, and on that night, were set to deliver speeches about the importance of Boys & Girls Clubs in their lives.

Each kid spoke in turn, before the same audience of 800, and each spoke with poise, composure, and sincerity. Some talked about their lives in low-income households of single moms. Others spoke about growing up surrounded by gangs. All spoke about how Boys & Girls Clubs gave them confidence, support, and a second home.

As I wiped tears from my eyes or laughed along with the kids, it struck me that Mr. Emanuel could learn from these kids and from their stories. It was the kids that delivered heart-warming speeches. It was the kids that inspired the audience. It was the kids that demonstrated the importance of Boys & Girls Clubs. And if Mr. Emanuel had just spoken about  how proud these kids made him and said that he will fight tirelessly to help other kids like this, then he could have been great. But instead, he delivered a political stump speech and totally missed the point.