Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Candy Shops Rock

Dizzy Cow - ParentUnplugged - Stacy Snyder

Who remembers the old-school candy shops with glass containers holding volumes of hard candy, sugared concoctions, chocolates, and packaged favorites like Sugar Daddys, Snowcaps, and Lemonheads?  Many of us have blocked those rites of childhood out of our minds because we have no modern-day form of reference to keep the alive.

Dizzy Cow is here to remind you of sweet days gone by and to allow you to introduce the concept to a new crop of candy lovers.  Located in the North Center neighborhood at 2155 W. Irving Park Road, between Leavitt and Hamilton, this stained glass window storefront is chalked full of your favorite candies and treats.  Picture various sized packages of multicolored gummy bears wedged between huge pieces of peanut brittle and malted milk balls stacked high in mason jars.  Imagine lolly’s as big as your face saddled up next to bags of chocolate stars and pop rocks.  You name your heart’s desire, and Dizzy Cow has some rendition of it.

Proprieter Margaret Reynolds bought the building last summer and keeps the shop stocked with loads of bonbons, toys, and novelties, all housed in classic furniture or displayed on antique servers.  It’s one of those magical places where every step you take gives you another reason to ooh and ahh.  From the vintage Coca Cola machine to the 1950’s Ruth E. Newton rubber dolly to the bubble gum cigarettes for sale next to the vintage cash register, each encounter prompts nostalgia for a time that was easy, where the biggest decision for a kid was should I get  the big Baby Ruth or go for a Chuckles and a Tootsie Roll?

Dizzy Cow - ParentUnplugged - Stacy Snyder
My daughter and I happened into Dizzy Cow a few week ago and we were so enthralled with the store, its shopkeeper, and its potential future (think back-of-the-store milkshake counter in the summer doubling as a cocoa bar in the winter), that I went back twice in the following week for gifts and treats.  Reynolds’ enthusiasm for candy and all things vintage came across loud and clear in her vast selection, moderate pricing, and her personalized suggestions.  She offered us samples while we were browsing, pointed the kids to the bargain rack with the $1 bags when she saw I was paying in quarters, and pointed us in the direction of her favorite chocolates.

The sugar treasures and trinkets at Dizzy Cow are a must see.  If you’re cuckoo for candy, it’s a no-brainer.  Go now.  If you don’t have a sweet tooth, check out this local business for its antiques and kid-oriented merchandise such as tea sets, homemade doll clothes, toy water guns, and slinkys.  If you want a place for your kids to hang out after school where they can be a candy-loving kid instead of a coffee-guzzling morph of an adult, send ‘em in on their own with a few bucks where they can buy a pair of candied wax red lips, a dice game, circus peanuts, slinky, or army figurine candies.  The store is open Tuesday - Friday, 1-6pm and Saturday 10am - 4pm.  For more information on current inventory and events visit Dizzy Cow’s FB page or call Margaret at the shop at 773-706-6187.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Call a Spade a Spade

Stacy Snyder - ParentUnplugged - Call a Spade a Spade
My 7-year-old came home from school last week excited to show me the finished product of a story she had been working on in class.  Her 3-part project included a timeline page, complete with 3 events plotted out to match her colorfully drawn pictures, a hand-written page on lined paper with a primary pencil, and the front cover, a mostly-white page highlighting her paragraph-long essay, thoughtfully typed out for her by her first-grade teacher:

The funniest thing that I saw was when my mom threw her crutches on purpose because she was mad.  First, my sister and I did not clean our room.  Then we walked away down the stairs.  Finally, she threw her crutches and yelled at us. 

After sharing the papers, she went on to say the teacher asked her if she thought she should write about something else in case her mom might be mad about the topic.  

“I told her my mom would be fine with it!” she confidently stated.

She’s right.  Not only am I not mad, I’m thrilled that this totally true story from two-surgeries-ago sticks in her mind as funny.  Having endured three separate knee surgeries and recovery periods in the last year and a half, alongside my wife’s year-long bout of depression, I’ve learned a few important facts:
  • I throw occasional fits that give toddlers a run for their money; that will probably never change
  • Asking for help is both extremely difficult and equally necessary
  • My kids and my wife are not breakable; they are resilient, compassionate and prone to just laughing in my face.
  • Life is unreliable, with the exception of it’s messiness.
  • Every negative creates a positive, if you let it
  • Acknowledging and greeting reality by name is necessary for growth and general well-being, no matter who you are
Am I proud of my crutch-throwing incident? No, I’d put its embarrassment level right on par with the Wendy’s debacle, where after a night out cocktailing, my wife and I decided to hit Wendy’s on foot at 2am for Jr. Bacon Cheeseburgers that always seem to soak up the liquor.  Unhappy that the indoor restaurant was closed and only the drive-through was open till 3am, we called an Uber to pick us up at the entrance of restaurant, drive us through the drive-up window to get food, and drop us at our home 2 blocks away.  

My daughter and I sat at the kitchen table and laughed for what seemed like 15 minutes about those crutches flying through the air and the pictures she drew in description of the event.  We talked about my frustration and indignation at having to be limited in my movement, preventing me from quickly exiting the scene in order to put myself in a time-out, and we discussed the surprise, fear, and comic relief that my kids felt all at the same time.  My 1st-grader even re-enacted the scene for me so I could see the scene from her angle.  We laughed so hard we cried.

What can you do but laugh at yourself?  Losing my cool with the crutches coaxed me to acknowledge my vulnerability and highlighted it to my family members.  It forced my kids to learn perspective.  It, along with many other non-picture-perfect moments over the last few years, gave our family the platform on which to build an on-going conversation about confronting our fears and emotions, sharing our feelings, and developing the self-assurance to call a spade a spade.