I got the call sitting in the second stall of the ladies room at my office. I recognized the phone number right away. Our attorney had a potential birthmother–she was due in August. And she just knew this was it–this was our baby.
She asked me to make a scrapbook–to put together some pictures and include a handwritten letter. And she asked me to drop it by her office that evening–so she could share it with this young woman.
I remember her saying this scrapbook was very important–and I knew it was. And I remember her saying time was of the essence.
Time was of the essence. Ya, it was–and I didn’t know how to scrapbook.
My knees started shaking–and my hands too. And I’m sure there were tears in my eyes.
I think I told my boss I needed to run an errand–I don’t remember now. I do remember my car practically driving itself down Vine Street though–straight to my happy place.
. . .
My mom would take us to Art Mart all the time when we were young. My brother and I would share ham and cheese croissants and a Pellegrino–and my mom would sit with us under their café umbrellas, quietly and peacefully filling an hour or two of her long day.
In college, I lived on the east side of campus. And I was an Art Mart regular–I never strayed from those ham and cheese croissants, but I traded my bubbly water for anything black, bold and caffeinated. I’d study for hours and hours under those café umbrellas–refilling the good coffee over and over again.
After I graduated, I started working in Urbana. I’d swing by Art Mart for my caffeine fix before work. And sometimes I’d swing by for cheese and olives–and a bottle of wine–after work.
When our attorney told me to make that scrapbook for our potential birthmother, I drove straight there.
I bought a coffee and a little box of pink, flowery stationary cards. I sank into a chair at my favorite table and started writing to her–under a café umbrella.
I don’t remember exactly what I wrote. I think I wrote about Danny–and about myself. And I think I wrote about us–and our story. I know I apologized because I wasn’t a scrapbooker. But I told her I hoped my words in this special little box from a special little store in my hometown would be good enough-and she’d choose us anyway.
Our birthmother said she knew we were the ones right when our attorney handed her that box of pink, flowery stationary cards–she just had a feeling. And the rest–as they say–is history.
. . .
As a mother, I have a whole new appreciation for Art Mart. I’ve fallen in love with its owners, Courtney and Brian (and their two boys). And I’ve fallen in love with their toy store too–especially the laxative train table. Anybody else’s kids always get the urge to poop when they play with the Art Mart train table? What. In. The. World.
They opened their new bigger (14,000 square feet) location today–the old Carter’s Interiors building at 1705 S Prospect Avenue–and I couldn’t be more excited. They’ll have all our same favorites–pretty stationary, ham and cheese croissants and the good coffee. But now they’re going to offer extended hours, a wine tasting area, a larger selection of cheeses, salads and sandwiches, more baked goodies, more cool clothing, more homegoods and a bigger toy store with more activities for the kids. Win, win, win, win, win, win and win.
And they’ll still have those Art Mart café umbrellas (they’re getting them cleaned right now)–so you know where I’ll be with my coffee and my ham and cheese croissant. Here are some pics I snapped this morning. It’s really incredible–kudos to the Art Mart Crew. Check them out today–we’ll see you there.
the best selfie ever. me, and art mart owners courtney (behind the green onions) and brian mckay
alllllll the toys.
alllll the croissants
alllll the wine
allllll the cakes
allllll the cheese
alllllll the homegoods
alllll the stationary
alllllll the coolest stuff
alllllll the fly clothes and accessories
alllllll the ingredients
alllll the treats
thumbs up from us
we may or may not eat all three meals here today.