Funny Twist

Hello Friends,

Every so often some life happens to us, seemingly as a response to one of my posts. Today was one such instant. Cricket picked out her clothes today and I had to laugh…mainly at myself. For it was just yesterday that I typed, “we just don’t have that much team gear”.

To be clear, today Cricket is at “Dad Camp”, and the theme of the day is “errands”. It just goes to show me a couple things. Mainly, 1.) My daughters will continue to surprise me, and that may even be in complete contradiction to something I say/write/do; and 2.) Who knows what clothes lurk in the closets of small children?

So, clearly nothing profound today, friends. This just made me smile after yesterday’s post. Today in Chicago it’s high 70’s and sunny, perfect for those aforementioned errands. I hope your day is just as beautiful.

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Theme Days

Hello Friends,

One of my favorite parts of summer camp was the theme days. The girls are steadily warming up to these intentional dress-up days as well.

Earlier in the summer it was crazy hat day for the “play camp”, and crazy hair day for the “day camp”.

You know we are always up for wild hair, or interesting headwear, so these were easy sells. The sports days are a bit harder, cause we just don’t have a lot of team gear. Not even t-shirts! Today’s theme for the play camp was a particular household favorite:

Yup, Star Wars day! Cricket was going to end up as either Leia or Rey, as we haven’t made a Rose outfit yet. Today’s hot and humid forecast didn’t go well with the collar-to-ankle polyester robe, so Jakku scavenger it was!

Even though she is the second child, and has watched me style Sweetie’s hair like this, the Cricket coached me through this entire ‘do. That’s how badly she wanted to nail this theme. You might be wondering, “What, no staff, no lightsaber?” Uh, no, not for Cricket (yet). It would be rogue Jedi justice all over the household galaxy.

The park district is great about their theme days. They change it up and keep it fun. I like that the girls participate in the group activity, and enjoy watching them get into it. And it’s pretty great seeing the $6.00 clearance Halloween costume get used for the third (or maybe fourth) time.

I’m guessing your Monday didn’t have a theme, but I do hope it was good overall. Keep in mind the simple joy that kids get out of a theme day-it could save a rainy afternoon! We’ll see you out there, friends!

Keep ‘Em Cool

Hello Friends,

Camps are a big part of our summer days, but because of Cricket’s age, they are not all of our days. I am still on the detour, just a bit less than before. I fill this “down time” with projects, laundry (always), vehicle maintenance, grocery shopping, and cooking-you know, “home-making”. I recently did some home maintenance, specifically air conditioning maintenance, that struck me and I thought I would share.

The brief back story is that in June a heating and air conditioning technician gave our a/c condenser a once over. He actually passed his hand over the top once to feel the air and laid his hand once on the ductwork to see if it was cold (full disclosure-that’s all I was paying him for). He did peek between the louvers of the unit and suggest I hose it down. When I tried, I couldn’t really get the spray at the correct angle, so I removed the cover and found this:

Yikes, right?!? This unit was installed when Sweetie was born and I never had it seviced. Ugh. So with just hose pressure, no fancy pressure washing or compressed air, we started.

This ill-ness washed away easily enough, so I did the three sides that face the yard. Within 15 minutes all was washed and the panels reinstalled.

In the moment, I felt dumb that I never washed our unit. The takeaway is that, even after ten years of homeownership, I have more to learn. I don’t know for sure that this helps our unit, but I think it has to. And I will check our electric bill to see if there’s a difference. So take my oversight and ignorance and make it your benefit. We’ve had some heat here in Chicago, and the end of the summer is when it can get hot, humid and ugly. Having clean fins on the a/c compressor should help the unit breathe easy, which in turn should help it keep the house cool without undue stress.

Been awhile since you’ve serviced your a/c? Again, learn from my mistake and hose that unit off-gotta keep those kiddos cool in the heat!

Garden Update

Hello Friends,

Well, summer goes and the garden grows. Here’s where we’re at this week:

The wildflowers are thriving in the Fairy Garden, and look like they’ll bloom this week. We’ve been watching butterflies, moths, and bees flying among the cucumbers, but hopefully that pollinator garden will bring even more.

The tomatoes are coming in well. We chose Roma tomatoes, and these are just about to size. A little vine ripening and we should be set!

The jalepenos are longer than my middle finger, so we’ll have to start watching those. They should also be ready for picking soon!

The girls have been helpful with the watering, especially during last week’s hot spell. Weeding falls on Wife and I, and we’re keeping up reasonably well. I know we have passed the halfway point of our summer break-from here, I feel like the vegetables will ripen quickly. We’ll keep you updated on the progress, hopefully with some zucchini to share! Inch by inch, row by row, right? I hope your gardens and summer are going well, we’ll see you out there, friends!

Another Way to Beat the Heat

Hello Friends,

Well, summer heat has arrived in Chicago. If the weather prediction is right, we’re in for more this week. With temps hitting the nineties on Friday and Saturday, we decided to cash-in a gift and hit the theater.

Oops, to clarify, we went to the Marriot Theatre, not a movie theater. Grandma and Grandpa gifted the girls tickets for Christmas and we found Junie B. Jones, the Musical, for them to check out.

Sweetie read a bunch of the June B. Jones books during the First Grade, and really enjoyed them. The writing is age-appropriate and accessible. I think Sweetie liked that there is some mis-adventures, mischief, and some of the behaviors are a bit controversial (again, within the age parameters). Cricket knows of Junie B. through her sister-if Sweetie dug it, it must be awesome.

The theatre was only about forty percent filled, and wife spoke with a lovely woman at the ticket counter, so first row, center, for us. Since we were on the same level as the stage, the girls could see all the actors and actresses up close. They loved the layout (theatre in the square?) that allowed them to see all the action. The girls were rockin’ out to the songs and crackin’ up with the show.

The Marriot Theatre is in Lincolnshire, just North of the city. They hold all types of theatre performances, and the ground-level, square stage with 360° seating is pretty cool. Their air conditioning works well and the seats are comfortable. (If I could’ve taken photos during the performance you would see the grandfather who slept comfortably the entire show-HERE). They are easy enough to find online, so check ’em out.

So I offer you, friends, this other way to beat the heat. Another special thanks to Grandma and Grandpa for this “experience” gift, which was a wonderful way to spend the day. I hope you all are staying comfortable in the summer heat, and finding all sorts of adventures. We’ll see you out there!

Garden Fun

Hello Friends,

Our summer is off and running, with all sorts of adventures and activities. I’ll fill you in on the camp fun and vacationing (local plans for us) and all that, but today I want to tell you about our garden.

We started our bed prep back in April. After the initial weeding, the girls used fairy house to create a fairy village, then planted wildflower seeds to make a pollinator “forest” to surround that village. The cool weather gave way to wet weather, but we were able to get plants in the ground by the end of May.

We kept it fairly simple with a jalepeno plant, two roma tomatoes, one squash, two rows of scallions, and two rows of carrots. Oddly enough, the two apple trees espaliered against the garage didn’t bloom this year. But the garden is planted!

This is a big deal for me because this is the first garden we have planted in three years! We left our house for renovation in 2016 and returned in late summer 2017 to award-winning weeds. Seriously, some were about six feet tall. Last summer we weeded, cleared, and cleaned, but never planted. Prior to the construction, we always planted a garden. And each year we changed, rearranged, landscaped, and continued to dial-in our yard space.

The other reason this is cool to me is that the girls are showing an interest. Whenever we went outside they gravitated to the garden bed and the dirt, so this year we are channeling that energy. The fairy houses are gifts from a couple of past birthdays; the girls moved them outside and crated the village. As far as gardening skills and foot-awareness, they are still stomping on plants, but took great care building their fairy village. Whenever we walk that way, they check on the houses and the developing pollinator meadow (fairy scale meadow, of course). We’re leveraging the lessons of the fairy village to teach the gurls about growing vegetables. You know, making sure they don’t think tomatoes grow in the bins at Jewel. I love that they are getting their hands dirty and playing with worms, it’s much more refreshing than screen time. Their next lesson is how to clean the dirt from under their nails!

Well, we’re off to more activities. I hope your summer is starting off well. I haven’t picked songs in while, but this would be a great place to cue up Sherm the Worm by Peter Himmelman (we discovered the song on the Best of the Land of Nod aldum). If you have a garden space, be it a plot or even just a bucket, I wish you a bumper crop. Oh, and for sure I’ll update the progress. That’s all for now friends, we’ll see you out there!