Shoes for the Small Ones

Hello Friends,

Everyone lives with a bit of brand loyalty. Whether it is the make of car your whole family drives, the streaming service you favor, or the grocery store that always has what you’re looking for, we all have our “go-to’s”. I want to share one of ours.

Wife found Carrara Children’s Shoes, Ltd. after we learned that Stride Rite was closing the few stores they had near us. We needed selection, quality, and support over fashion. After spending some time on the interwebs, she found Carrara’s. Located on Clybourn Avenue, they are just a 20 minute car ride from the house.

Carrara Children’s Shoes is located in the back of a strip mall, sort of tucked away (we now think of it as a hidden treasure). The store front is unassuming, but as you enter you notice the 4′ x 8′ train layout at just the right height for the little ones to view. There are also play tables and toys around for keeping the kiddos entertained. The other three walls of the store are all shoes.

Ronado, or “Ron”, is the knowledgeable, attentive, owner-operator of Carrara’s Children’s Shoes. He is well-versed on the details of the shoes he sells, and is quick to share recommendations based on your input and interest. The big draw for us was their stock of leather shoes. We needed school shoes, we wanted quality, Ron delivered. And has continued to deliver the past three times we have visited.

Ron has an employee at the store, Jennifer, who he has trained to be equally attentive and helpful. She is lovely with our girls, easily gets them measured, and keeps the process moving. Between the two of them, we have never waited more than a couple of minutes for service.

Here’s a little bonus. Besides selling children’s shoes, Ron also designs adult shoes in collaboration with an Italian shoe company. His appreciation for quality materials shows in his well-made, all-leather, mildly funky foot wear. Wife picked up multiple pairs of shoes on super-clearance, priced to move based on their small size, not some defect. Maybe there is a great find hiding there for some of you.

Many clothing items fall under the “you get what you pay for” rule. Shoes from Carrara Children’s Shoes are no exception. I feel that all kid’s shoes are overpriced, so I have never been shocked by the prices at Carrara’s. The value comes from the quality of the shoes they stock and the pleasant attentiveness of the owner and employee. While they carry an excellent selection of leather dress-type shoes, they also have athletic shoes from Saucony, Plae, and Stride Rite, among others. If you need a good children’s shoe store here in Chicago, check out Carrara Children’s Shoes 2121 N Clybourn Avenue. In the interest of full disclosure I will tell you this is not a sponsored review – we are just that pleased with their service and product and I wanted to share.

We’ll see you out there, friends!

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Highlighting Community Glue Workshop

Hello Friends,

I know you return to this site to enjoy my well-executed prose, but it is nice to feature a piece by friends of the detour and highlight their journey. Today’s post is about one such article by Carla Bruni from Community Glue Workshop. Carla is a long-time friend (we’re talking like, Junior High), friend of the family (in all stages of its growth), friend of the detour (since it’s inception), author of websites like ToolMade.org and The Green Preservationist, historical preservation maven, old-barn aficionado, maker, artist, writer and overall good human being. Whew! At about the time Sweetie joined our family, Carla and her creative collaborator, Allie Brisbin, started Community Glue Workshop with the focus of repairing household items, not replacing them. Think back to when ownership of some thing, like a clothes washer, included diagnosing and repairing it, not just throwing it away and ordering a new one. That is part of their mindset, with a heaping dose of cooperative community learning mixed in. Wife brought home the latest issue of StreetWise on Friday and showed me Carla’s article. It was a great chance to re-connect with her and get the word out about this movement/philosophy/committed group of handy folks. Here’s the link to Carla’s post on the Community Glue Workshop blog site:

https://communityglueworkshop.wordpress.com/2019/03/04/were-featured-in-streetwise/

Over the ten years of our home ownership, we have undertaken a variety of projects from DIY remodelling to our professional second floor addition. While we have tried to incorporate reusing, re-purposing and repairing, Carla lives this stuff in both her professional and private life. More importantly, she shares the idea and supports like-minded people. She makes the repair ideal accessible. I am super proud of my longtime friend  and this philosophy she and Ally are promoting. Besides that, I enjoy reading the content she posts. Check out the sites listed above and connect with this movement, especially if you have something sitting around that house that needs a little repair. Of course, throw them some online support with likes, comments, following/subscribing, etc..

Repair movements are growing and people are changing their relationships with their “stuff” – we have to. It is because of actions by people like Carla and Ally, and groups like Community Glue Workshop, that I feel confident my girls won’t inherit a world that is completely ruined, but maybe just needs a little repair.

Bengtson’s Pumpkin Festival

Hello Friends,

This is pumpkin patch season. For years, Sister Scales-of-Justice has been inviting us to Bengtson’s Pumkin Festival in Homer Glen, Illinois. This year the girls were ready.

Attractions abound, with Autumn fun ranging from the Fun Barn to carnival-style rides with animatronics, like Spooky Skeleton bands, sprinkled here and there.

They also have animals! There are pony rides and a petting zoo. Pleasantly, both were super clean. Not just free of animal mess, but actually smelled good. It was great to let the girls enjoy themselves without cringy because the animals and pens were grimy. I almost forgot, they also have hourly pig races! There are four heats with the excited little guys running their circle track. Winner gets an iced oatmeal cookie!

Overall, the entire campus is kept clean, like super clean. The staff is on constant patrol for errant garbage. Many of the buildings are new and still have the fresh-cut lumber smell. Food options abound, ranging from snack to full barbeque or taco meals. The apple cider doughnuts were tasty, and we were sad we didn’t try the pumpkin churros.

This is not a sponsored review, so let’s insert some reality. The one downer I found at Bengtson’s was the lack of bathrooms. At least the indoor, running water type. To be clear (and fair), they have port-o-lets all over, strangely with sink troughs and soap right outside. But if you have a porta-potty hang-up, this arrangement would be off-putting. Our girls managed just fine.

If you are up for a drive, head to Homer Glen and check out Bengtson’s Pumpkin Festival. I didn’t mention it yet, but of course they have a pumpkin patch, with all sizes of pumkins and gourds for sale. Our girls loved all the action happening around the festival. We loved the clean grounds and amenities. Overall, Bengtson’s is some serious fall fun!

Chia Pudding for Life

Hello Friends,

I don’t share as many recipes and food ideas as as I should. Partly because I don’t like taking food photos – I’m just not good at it and they look funny. But I do struggle with meal ideas, particularly breakfast, so I figured I’d get over myself and share.

To be completely honest, Wife brought the idea for chia pudding home. Not one of my originals but I have fully embraced it.

Here’s a brand from Costco you could try

The recipe that we use is easy to follow and multiply. The end result depends on your taste. I am sharing chia pudding because it is easy, versatile, and our girls eat it.

Start with three tablespoons of chia seed.

Looks a little funny, I know. And the girls thought so too, until they ate the final product. Next add one cup of soy milk.

And stir.

Cover that and throw that in the fridge overnight. The next morning you should have a thick mixture.

From here you thin with your choice of liquid. More soy milk is fine, we’ve used both plain and vanilla flavored. Pineapple juice is good too, and I imagine any juice would work. You are looking for a pudding-like consistency, but really thin to your liking.

Serve up you pudding into bowls and add whatever you like. Some of our fav ingredients are strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, honey, and coconut flakes. But add what you would like.

There is no way around the overnight wait, which is why we use chia pudding for breakfast. Its easy though, and your kids can make it how they like it.

There it is friends, our version of chia puddding. There are protein benefits here, and fiber too, but the girls are sold on the taste. I hope this helps with your breakfast menu. We’ll see you out there!

Program Interrupted

Hello Friends,

today’s fun adventures were interrupted by a necessity – both Sweetie and Cricket were due for their six month dental cleaning. I would not choose to spend a beautiful afternoon at the dentist, but if we have to go, you know we’re going to see Dr. Johnny Kuttab. I’ve written about his practice, Sprout Pediatric Dentistry before, so you all know how much we appreciate the office, the staff and his bedside manner, but it is so worth repeating! We actually showed up an hour early for our appointments. The staff moved the appointments “in the system” and the girls were seen immediately. I’ll be hitting up Yelp to star them up, read on.

Today was one more happy visit at Sprout. One of the oral hygienists informed me that the office celebrated it’s 2-year anniversary in May (how do I not know this?) That explains the new giant “Lite-Brite” on the wall!

Yeah, yeah, I know it has an actual brand name. The girls thought it was amazing, whatever you want to call it. And it shows that Sprout continues to explore ways to make the office great for their young patients.

As always, the girls were relaxed during their exams, from the time they sat in their chairs until we left. Of course, some of that was due to Shrek playing on the televisions above their chairs. I’m not sure the girls even knew they were getting their teeth cleaned. The only tears of the visit came when Cricket did not get the erasure prize she wanted from the coin machine. In swooped her oral hygienist with more coins until we got that doughnut. So be warned: Sprout will treat your kids with respect, they will do a great job with their dental care and they will probably spoil them a bit too.

I asked Dr. Johnny if he had any dental advice that I could share, you know, “dental tidbits”. Today he reminded me that when I look at the girls’ dental health I need to look at the big picture. Explaining that “dentist” is his job, while “Dad” is his reality, he conceded that his children sometimes miss a brushing, and they eat sugar. But he practices brushing for two minutes, twice daily, as often as possible. Dr. Johnny showed this parent-dentist balance the very first time Sweetie saw him, and it was the first aspect of his care that I appreciated. His point was that all parents, dentist parents included, need to focus on the bigger picture of good oral hygiene and not be discouraged by occasional slip-ups.

I write this after every visit post, but this is not a sponsored blog post. My girls walk out of that office all smiles, and that means everything to me. I am confident in the care they receive and the advice I collect. If you are looking for a dentist for your kids, or if you don’t love your child’s current dentist, I say check out Dr. Johnny over at Sprout Pediatric Dentistry.

Sprout Pediatric Dentistry is so cool!

To be clear, these posts are completely self-serving – I want Dr. Johnny and Sprout Pediatric Dentistry to stay open for a good, long time.

Accidental Craft Outing

Hello Friends,

The girls’ and I were out-and-about this past rainy Saturday afternoon and we stumbled into a great little activity. Not that I need more reasons to dig Home Depot, but they nave a monthly craft event for the kiddos. And before I launch into the story, you should know this is not a sponsored post (but it could be Home Depot-hint, hint).

So that green blob on the plate is actually a wooden humvee model. The girls had to assemble and secure, with nails, the top half and grille piece. Of course I didn’t snap a photo of that-I was too busy aligning nails, making sure my fingers didn’t get whacked, and cheering the girls. We pick up here at step two, the paint job. You could paint your humvee any color, as long as it was green. After the paint dried it was time to hammer the wheels into place! Last came the included sticker set, which I post-poned until we got home.

We lucked out, as you are supposed to register for the craft events. Thanks to the weather the attendance was low and we were able to join the fun. And burn up a half hour doing something (sitting in front of the television came later that afternoon!). The girls thought it was great and walked away with their humvees, a certificate of completion and a lapel pin. Thanks Addison and Kimball Home Depot!

November is a special month as they have a second event coming up, an ornament craft I think. Check out the Home Depot website for details and registration information. Here’s to a monthly craft activity – hopefully your local store offers the same events!

Hey, can I tell people my girls are little makers now? Maybe makers-in-training!

St. Viator Elementary School Open House

The Cricket is two-and-a-half years old, so we are making enrollment plans for next fall. This process was new to me when we enrolled Sweetie, but now it is familiar. Wife and I were not interested in our local public school nor the lottery system, and we were looking for the intangible benefits of a Catholic School education like citizenship, stewardship and an active (even if questioning) faith. We have been pleased with Sweetie’s development over the past year and a half, and enjoy growing our place within the St. Viator community. If this sounds like a good fit to you, please check out the St. Viator Elementary School Open House this upcoming weekend. The school will be open for tours, with faculty, staff, and current parents available to answer questions about classes (PreK-3 through Eighth Grade), campus, and community.

openhouse2017