Happy Halloween!

Well, the parties are over, the candy bowl is empty, the plastic pumpkins are full of treats and the girls are passed out. I call this a successful Halloween for our crew.

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

Despite being out of our neighborhood, Wife and I found a bunch of stuff to do this Halloween. So we already started laying the plans out for next year – not too shabby. The girls seemed to enjoy it all: parties with friends (see above) and bonfires and pumpkins and trick-or-treating – oh boy! So I hope you and yours also had a safe and fun Halloween, time for me to sort and hide the candy.

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Halloween Costume Angst

I enjoy Halloween. Like a lot. But it wasn’t always so. You see, growing up as a slightly nerdy kid with glasses didn’t afford too many costume options. Make-up didn’t work if the characters didn’t wear glasses – sorry vampires, sorry Freddy Kreuger. And of course, masks didn’t work – no werewolves here, bye-bye Jason. Maybe I could’ve gone ’70’s accountant, but I wasn’t that creative back then. But these days things are looking up.

A little better...

Better…

There is, of course, the age problem. I was already grown when Harry Potter and company came on the scene. I haven’t read the books and have only seen a few of the movies. So until the girls start reading and get into the stories, this one is a stretch. But there’s some good news that does have a connection to my childhood.

Yeah-who you gonna call?

Yeah-who you gonna call?

I guess the only stretch here is that I look nothing like Chris Hemsworth. We all know that he does not have a “Dad-bod”, and his jawline is pretty great. I like to think I’m a good-looking fella, but I’m no Chris Hemsworth. So my best bet – inspiration from a local mobile phone store.

Eh, not bad.

I can hear that-ha!

So no contest with last year’s costume, but it worked for the St. Viator Halloween Party. I scored a yellow t-shirt at the local Sears and away we went. I’ll be sure to put up a pic of the girls tomorrow. Again, their costumes are not as intense as last year, but they love ’em anyway. Now we just need something to hand out. Hey – hope you’re ready!

 

Sayin’ a Lil’ Prayer

WGN News stopped by the church on Friday and spoke with some of the staff and student’s from Sweetie’s school. Friday was the Feast Day of St. Viator, so there was an all-school Mass. Of course, that was also the day before the Cubs played what turned out to be game that clinched the National League Championship.

The news piece was about the Cubs and the school saying a prayer for the team. Sweetie was at the Mass, but the rest of us did not attend. It was great to see the students and the staff represent the school so well. They picked out real fans too, not just the fair weather type. The Principal made a good point about, “We always want to pray for everyone to do their best, and we want for everyone to be safe…but meanwhile we want a little something extra for this city.” And that got me thinking about my response if asked about saying a little prayer for the Cubs.

My answer would of course be, “Yes, I am praying for the Cubs,” but not just for the team’s sake. I think cities tend to pull together when one of their teams* is slated to win big – that’s a good thing for a city. Chicago is in need of some good news, and something to pull us out of the slump that is 2016 so far. The economic divide in our city is growing (one of eight big cities where that’s the case); gun violence is hitting record highs; we barely avoided a Chicago Public School strike; taxes are some of the highest in the nation – you get the point. Again, some good news is welcome. And I like to think that the Cubs’ good news is pulling us together as a city.

Now for a quick reality check before I go full-“Kumbaya” in this post. I know a baseball series isn’t going to fix all the ills of our city. I know many of our problems are multi-faceted, politicized, socio-economic and however many more adjectives you want to stack on them. But the Cubs going to the World Series is something. We’ll come together to watch as groups of fans, as families, as Chicagoans. We’ll watch a bunch of players come together as a team and work toward their common goal.  We’ll see them manage the lows and embrace the highlights. And as the Dodgers demonstrated, we will probably see some poignant lessons about good sportsmanship.

So this is something. Honestly, it’s something we are not getting from the elected leaders who are preparing for the November 8th election. It’s something we don’t get from our everyday lives, either, so hopefully it will move us above our everyday issues. Some think this is something of a miracle. And if the Cubs can go to the World Series (for the first time since 1945), then maybe Chicago can put down the guns for just a few days. And that would be something good.

So, I know this is a lot to put on one baseball series, but like I said, I got to thinking this weekend. If you want to check out the story, here’s the link:

Chicago Catholic students pray for a Cubs win

Go Cubs Go!

*One note here about Chicago baseball. Since Chicago has two teams, the city is often split by which team supports. The Southside tends to root for the White Sox, the Northside tends to pull for the Cubs. This split runs deep, so not everyone in Chicago is celebrating, but I like to think the majority are pleased. And to all the Sox fans out there: it’s okay to cheer – we are all Chicago.

St. Viator Haunted House 2016

The “monster” fundraiser is almost ready for visitors! That’s right, the annual haunted house at Sweetie’s school opens this weekend. If you’re into haunted houses, or maybe want to go to one that is not as scary as the big ones, come on up to the near northwest side of the city. With a “PG” rating, the St. Viator’s Haunted House is worth a visit. Check out the details:

svhh2016

Hope your prep for Halloween is going well!

Home Renovation: An Introduction (and update)

I mentioned in an earlier post that Wife and I decided to renovate our house. We have lived happily in our Historic Chicago Bungalow for the past eight years. We had done a bit of maintenance and light remodeling, but last year we started feeling constrained by our home. While its three bedrooms fit our family well, there was no room for guests. The kitchen was an awkwardly laid out, contractor-grade rehab that was completed to sell the house (just before we purchased). And the one bathroom, also awkward and freshly “redone”, made for interesting family parties. Especially with rookie and newly potty-trained children around. One main level of living space was no longer cutting it.

We had some ideas for renovations, but no real plans. The attic was unfinished but the pitch of the roof made the space challenging. The basement is unfinished and concerns about water and musty odors delayed any action. We looked around in the area at houses that had the additional space we were looking for, but we didn’t find any that felt right. Wife and I have been ruined by our stout little brick house – it is definitely our home. But we needed to make some changes.

Chicago loves its Historic Bungalows, so there are many resources here for preserving, renovating, improving and enjoying your bungalow. We had attended a Historic Chicago Bungalow Association expo some years back, and there we saw an architectural presentation showing how creatively our house could be tweaked without losing its bungalow feel. We saw plans for additions with lots of daylight and interesting architectural details that stayed true to the character of the houses. So we started saving.

The process started last year, but this feels like a better time to start writing about it. First, we are done with the planning stages, so nobody can weigh-in on any of the design items. Second, the construction is underway and the site is secure, so it’s not easy to steal the appliances anymore. Third, I finally made the time to start writing about it. There are plenty of details to share, but here are the essentials: 80% of the ground floor is getting re-worked and a second-floor addition is going up. We are going from three bedrooms to four, and one bathroom to three. Thankfully there was room for an actual master bedroom and bath – woo-hoo! Here’s the general picture of the end result:

Our "new" old house

Our “new” old house

So everything in dark grey was existing. The details in light grey are the new. I know the notes make the picture busy, but you get the point. And as I mentioned, the work is moving along, so updates should come frequently. The view from the sidewalk remains the same until you are right in front of the house, so it doesn’t look like someone just dropped a shoebox on top of our house. Pretty exciting and scary stuff.

And so where are we? We are renting an apartment on the Southside from our family. Specifically the McKinley Park neighborhood. So maybe we’ll see you over at that playground if you’re in the area. Funny, but I thought about a post entitled, “Our Year in Exile”, but that seemed a bit dramatic. And are you truly living in exile if you have chosen it? Well, we’re three months into the nine month project, so this story will definitely be continued.

Oh So Yummy

There is still a lot going on in our lives, and so much to write about. I feel myself getting more “behind” everyday. I put that in air quotes because as long as the girls are good, everything else is just fine. But I do feel bad leaving you, my readership, without something to browse.

Now is not the time to delve into all of the home improvement adventures, vacation stories and successful recipes. Now is the time to leave you with a fun little story about the Cricket’s first trip to Starbucks. Wife and I were filling the hour while Sweetie was in her piano class (10,000 hours, remember?). 1-hour drive for a 10 AM class on a Sunday morning? Yeah, we needed caffeine. So the Cricket got her first taste of Starbucks’ hot chocolate.

Tummy happy now!

Tummy happy now!

She responded with things such as, “Oh, so yummy.” And, “Tummy happy now (while pointing at her stomach).” Oh, there where plenty of “MMMMMMs” (yes, in all capitals) as well. She did lose interest halfway through the kids’ sized cup, which meant Sweetie got some chocolate too. Even in a kid-sized cup, the chocolate in hot chocolate contains trace caffeine and sugar. So yeah, interesting afternoon for everyone.

Fun for everyone!

Fun for everyone!

With Fall upon us there will probably be a lot more hot chocolate. As for the rest, I’ll write more when I can. Maybe I should utilize this coffee thing for a little more late-night writing. Oh, so yummy.