So, you know how I stayed home with my kids Hannah, Emma and Tom for fifteen years?  Before I opened Prairie Path Books?  Well, see, I was a pretty committed career person before that, and then suddenly for 15 years I was a stay-at-home mom.  I was fractured (divided, tortured, wrenched) about leaving behind the years I'd spent studying, grindstoning and building a career as a lawyer, even tho my tots were totes adorbs.

My dad was my biggest supporter from Kindergarten on - all the way 'til I set down my brand new briefcase in a tiny office on the 49th floor of a high-rise.  That's him, circa 1968, supporting me even on a bike, and yes that is my own lovely naturally curly hair).   He thought my brother, sister and me were GREAT.   He really did - and you know what?  I believed him!  What different did I know?  His belief in me made my heart swell and my stride strut; still does.

Well, dad was excited his daughter was a lawyer, and he even mentioned the possibility of me as a Supreme Court Justice one day (horrible idea, Dad - I hate footnotes).  I was still working full-time; my Hannah was 6 months old and in a bunny costume on Halloween when you passed away in 1996.  Suddenly and much too early.

Well Dad, not long after I lost you, I quit all I'd worked for.  No more secretary (dang!) or O'Hare airport or conference calls or a first-thing trip to the coffee bar once I'd turned on my computer.  I was fractured (divided, tortured, wrenched) about how, having quit, I could possibly be a role model for my girls in school and career.

Well, here's how:  once I stopped actually giving birth to babies and started gazing up and outward from the diaper-table, I signed up for things and went places and had interests and ran a household somewhat properly.  I had a smidge more time than in my commuting/travelling years.  Time to read and gather with folks.  Pals and daughters started a Mother-Daughter bookclub (thanks moms Megan, Laurie, Lori, Susan, Amy).  My neighborhood bookclub was born and we still meet quarterly.  On a day-to-day basis, I read like crazy and literally emailed "READTHISREADTHISREADTHIS"  to friends I knew would like my latest book-crush, because sharing great books is just plain honey for my heart.

In those 15 years, I met and be-friended and committee'd with incredibly talented and whiz-smart people.  Like my PPB graphic designer Becky (who is designing this email and our website as I write this).  See, while at home I volunteered for my church and worked with amazing mom-graphic designer-Becky to plan and promote children's events.  As a Lincoln Elementary mom,  I worked with Margaret, an operations genius like none other, to plan a giant (no-cut!!) talent show with hundreds of very excited kids.  (There I learned that I need a Margaret — I cannot Margaret, so I hired one to help me at PPB).  Loving the change of seasons as I do, I wanted to do-up my house with pumpkin-cheer and snowflakes so I went to Nona Jo's in Naperville. Who KNEW that my bookstore would be in a wee "apartment", just ripe for nestling among my books cute scarecrows, Santas and valentines?  Since my home looked jolly, it needed to be seen, and in those years I learned to cook; not only for my family, but also for guests. Because gathering folks together (sometimes 4 friends, sometimes 40) is what I like ALMOST as much as reading.  Thank you stay-at-home years, because cooking demonstrations and cookbooks are at the heart of my favorite PPB gatherings.

So, see, I was building a career (ish) in those years.  I just didn't know it.  I've always wondered if my dad would understand my choices and if he'd still be proud of my new version of "work", but I think he would.  And besides it is SOOO much funner (a judge could never say "funner",  pity that) to write to you guys just as I am, without those dang footnotes!    Make it a great day, friends.