This is 9, at our House (#2)

The top of the refrigerator was one of my favorite spots for hiding things that I didn’t want the girls to reach. High enough, out of sight and mind, just a great spot for me. Most recently, I would hide the television remote on top of our fridge as a passive parental control for the girls’ T.V. watching. Imagine my delight to come down to the kitchen one morning to find the following note:

I appreciated Sweetie leaving me this note for a couple of reasons. One, I didn’t need to wonder what happened to the remote I had hidden on the fridge. Two, she “showed me her hand” and reminded me that as she gets older, my hiding spaces need to improve. And three, we need to talk about punctuation. I’m hoping that post script is supposed to read as “No, nothing needed”. I had to smile despite their early morning T.V. binge.

Clearly, I need to look for a better hiding spot for the remote. This is 9 at our house.

This is 9 (at our house)

Sweetie turned 9 this year, back in May, and I thought I would highlight her a bit. It was her arrival that started my at-home adventure, the idea behind this blog. And she has been making me laugh quite a bit lately, so I thought I would share some of her final year in a single-digit age.

We’ll see how much traction this idea has, how far it takes us. Sweetie continues to grow as a wonderful child. Nothing wrong with her sister, but Sweetie holds the focus in this post. She is an avid reader, enjoys building with Legos, loves her sister (then tolerates her, then fights with her, then loves her all over again), and might be the only kid I know who was sad that the school year was ending. Even this past year. As she moved through the 3rd grade, we witnessed a shift from the “little girl” to the girl, and that has brought some uniquely funny moments in our lives.

This series will focus on a photo of something that struck me, and just a bit of copy for context. I am feeling a quick, easy-to-post type project here. So here’s a picture of Sweetie in May, and this is 9 at our house.

First 2021 Update

Why, hello Friends,

Just like all of you, I have muddled through the past nine months of pandemic/quarantine/distance learning times. I haven’t written much about it because I feel like it is our common experience. No doubt, our individual experiences vary, but collectively I think we are all “all over the place”. But today it’s time to write again.

Let’s start with the important stuff: we are all healthy and safe. Thank you for your concerns, but Wife, the girls, and I are all doing well. To date, we have spent the majority of the past months at home. We all remain CoVid negative, and are staying healthy (except for gaining a few extra pounds). I hope you and yours are healthy, as well. As I have been saying since March 2020, our health is the most important, the rest is details. Let’s share some of those details…

The girls are back at school, in person, five days a week. The Archdiocese of Chicago mandated all students to learn-from-home for two weeks after the official end of Winter Break. Two weeks to monitor for symptoms or signs of infection. Thankfully, no cases were reported last week after students returned. Overall, the girls are happy to be back with their friends and teachers, especially after two weeks with me at the blackboard. We are pretty well set up for learning at home, but it is just not the same. St. Viator continues to enforce mask and social distancing protocols while announcing new safety measures, like installing air purifiers in the classrooms. Even though we are not back to “normal”, the return to school is a dose of normalcy.

Wife continues to work from home. Since she likes working in an space that is warmer than 64 degrees, she traded her basement setup for her walk-in closet office. That big move was the most excitement since November at her “office”. It’s still nice having her around.

And so, I am here. I have stayed active with the girls’ school as much as possible, mainly through the Marketing and Enrollment Committee. Last year at this time I was looking to return to work. I am having the same thoughts now, and running into the same questions; “What about spring break? What about a summer schedule/day camp? What about a family vacation when this mess clears up (some more)?” I feel like I am going to write more about this later because I have so much more to process.

So that’s us to date. 2021 is starting off fast, but our family unit is feeling good and feeling hopeful. And again, we’re healthy (and grateful for that). Much like last year, I am looking at this blog and wondering where it is headed. With the girls in 1st and 3rd grades, the title is now a bit of a misnomer. Plus, I’ve started checking the “Homemaker” box when it’s available, yet another shift.

Here’s to 2021, friends. We are here, and we hope you are too. I wish you the best as this year unfolds, we all deserve some good stuff after last year! Thank you for checking back in with me and with us, here we go…

#QuarantineFather’sDay

Hello Friends,

Happy Father’s Day to all of the Dads, Grampas, Papas, Godfathers, and every other “Father” designation. From all of us here are D3, we wish you a great day. Here’s what I woke up to:

The entire breakfast was delicious, but I love that you can see the steam coming off the coffee. It doesn’t get much better! I hope your day is starting off well, even if steak & eggs is not your thing. May you be surrounded by your loved ones and make the most out of this year’s wierd Father’s Day.

There’s more to come, friends, as we dive into summer. The girls just started day camp, an at-home version we have dubbed “D3DC” (Dad’s Diaper Detour Day Camp is a mouthful). There is more sharing to come! Have a great day, Dads, this one’s for you!

Celebrating Little Things

Hello Friends,

In general, I encourage the girls to celebrate the little things in life: mornings when we have a sunny walk to school, a bird in the yard, seedlings breaking through the dirt, etc.. Most times the girls entertain my deep thoughts, but I don’t think they totally get the idea. This, however, was something they, specifically the Cricket, understood.

Cricket lost Baby Tooth number 2, and it was even more exciting than the first. She understood how to wiggle this one, so pulling was not required. She was proudly announcing how she “just pushed it with her tongue and it came out!”

That’s it there, bottom row, her left. Alright, maybe she didn’t fully grasp jutting out her chin, but you get the point.

A baby tooth is actually small (quite!), and we did celebrate. The tooth fairy came, magic dust sprinkled all over the nightstand as usual. Cricket put her dollar safely in her jewelry box the next day. A little tooth, a little magic, a little money and a little celebration. Right now, that was a big deal for all of us. Even Sweetie cheered for her little sister’s tooth loss.

I sincerely hope you all are finding small things to celebrate during these weird times. Some days that’s easy for us; some days we celebrate if we didn’t scream at one another. I think we all need to keep looking, keep trying, to find things to celebrate. The alternative is crummy.

I want to end similar to my last post. We are here, and we are healthy. And we’re glad you are too. We’ll see you soon, friends. Behave, be safe.

Back to (Home) School

Hello Friends,

I hope this post finds you doing well: safe, healthy, and coping with the social distancing measures. We are home still, and healthy and safe too. We are (still) all in this together.

Last week we returned to at-home classwork. The girls’ school schedule worked around Easter, so their 10 day Spring Break was in April. It was a nice break from home-schooling, and we learned a few lessons for our return.

Many of you are also dealing with home-schooling right now, so I won’t dig too deep. Sweetie had a fun volcano project last week for her STEM class, and I thought I would share some of the highlights.

Everything started with a salt dough volcano. As you see, Sweetie was good about sharing the project with her sister. Once the volcano dried, it was time for paint.

I had to laugh at this stage. I set each girl up with four colors of paint. As you can see, everything melded into “grey”, and that is not so bad (we’re big fans here at our house). The project culminated in the eruption-good times!

This was project was a fun part of our week. I was talking with Momstar on Friday (her son killed it on this project, btw), and we realized neither one of us had done a volcano project in Elementary School. The girls enjoyed the different stages of the project, and they loved eruption day. I was glad they got into the project, and worked well together. It was great to have them interacting but not competing, and complaining was minimal. Best part for me, very low screen-time!

Clearly, I’m not sharing anything profound today…and I’m fine with that. I wanted to share this project as an example of a little thing that brought smiles to our in-household. I hope you and your family are finding smiles, big or small, during this wierd time. Honestly, smiles are hard to find on some of these days, but they’re around. So behave and be safe, friends. We’re here, and we’re glad you are too.

Well, Hello.

After three two weeks in our house, I have many things on my mind. This post has been written, edited, and re-written many times during the last 21 days. The news and the information keep changing and the cycle just keeps speeding up. But I feel like I have been away too long, and have waited too long to write. I made some decisions last weekend, and so…

Hello Friends,

Let me start by telling you that we, Wife, the girls and I, are all safe and healthy here on the detour. We hope you and yours are too. Like many of you in Chicagoland, we are sheltering in place. More of you are staying home each day. For us, this means the girls are home-schooling, and Wife is working from home. Also, like many of you, our daily rhythm is completely different than it was three weeks ago. But I’m not going to harp on those changes, nor am I going to share my opinions about the current situation or offer any kind of advice.

This begs the question, “Then why write? What’s your point?” First, I miss writing. I know my post schedule is erratic, but creating and editing posts is cathartic for me. Second, I miss all of you. From coffee with other parents to online comments, my social network is currently limited. I would like to move that from “limited” to “changed”, and I have to post to accomplish that. Third, I don’t want anyone out there to think they are alone in this. I may not be a high-volume influencer, but I can still connect with you all as a show of solidarity. So what are we doing?

The girls are home-schooling, and have been working on school work since March 16th. Our Principal is a lifetime Chicagoland resident. She worked with the Archdiocese of Chicago to prepare for e-learning in case of snow closures. For St. Viator Elementary School, e-learning was part of the conversation since August. Since March, the teachers have been working hard to implement and improve this set-up. And so we’re staying busy each day.

Kids don’t live on scoolwork, though, so we are finding other activities. Given my spring planting plans, this revolves around yardwork-yay!

No worries, I don’t work them too hard. We have plenty of time for walks around the block, chalk drawings, and appreciating the signs of Spring.

There is plenty if indoor stuff too, but the pics are not nearly as pretty. Lego, family dinners, family movies, family games, and impromtu concerts all find their way into our days. In short, we’re trying everything and anything here, friends.

Hopefully, I can at the writing. I am laughing at myself for trying to quickly sum up 21 days of sheltering-in-place. Honestly, the computer is tied up all day and I am usually gassed at night. But again, we’re trying what we can.

So now I have to stray from my plan. Look, I know I said I wouldn’t give advice, but things keep escalating so quickly. Stay safe, friends. If you are able, please stay home. I foolishly thought everyone got that message two weeks ago, but no. And be aware of others. Nobody needs ten Costco packs of toilet paper, but we all need some.

We are healthy, we are here. We are walking around the neighborhood, stretching and exercising in the house; we are supporting our local restaurants with one night of takeout; we are cleaning out our pantry and cooking creative snacks and meals; we are distancing; we are getting on each other’s nerves; we are bringing it in and hugging it out; we are digging in the dirt and listening to the birds; we are celebrating the spring flowers. These are the answers for us, and I hope you are finding some answers for you and yours. I have no idea what I might offer any of you who are in need, but please reach out if you are in a bad way. Big thanks to teachers, school administrators, first responders, doctors, nurses and medical staff, grocery store workers and everyone who is working to be part of the collective solution. Behave, be safe, friends. We won’t see you out there, not right now. But we’re here and we’re glad you are too.

Baby Tooth Gone!

Hello Friends,

We are celebrating over here, as Cricket just lost her first baby tooth! She’s been walking around with a loose tooth since January. The adult tooth erupted in February, but that little one wouldn’t give up.

We kept telling her all month to wiggle the baby tooth and play with it (all per Dr. Johnny’s directions). She didn’t really get the idea until two weeks ago, then she started to show that tooth some attention. We were supposed to call March 1 to schedule the “extraction”, but I kept pushing it off – it was getting so loose! Last night was the night, and wife was the hero. Post bath she grabbed a tissue and POP! (yep, it actually made a noise).

Cricket was very excited. She now joins all her school friends who have been losing teeth. Of course, the Tooth Fairy stopped by her room. We got to hear about it at 4:30 this morning!

Almost too small to see!

On to the next adventure. I hope you all are doing well out there. Let’s close in honor of Dr. Seuss and one of the girls’ favorite books, “teeth, you find them everywhere!”

Ettabetta Boop

Hello Friends,

We’re going to keep on with this theme of equal daughter representation. Cricket’s class just held their Superkids Dress-Up Day. Funny thing, she chose Ettabetta, just like Sweetie did two years ago.

The circumstances around this dress-up day are funny, because the detour showed up in the Google search results for “Superkids Ettabetta”. For some sites this is an everyday occurrence; for me, it was a reason to do the happy dance. I learned about the search results from two different Kindergarten Moms, whose daughters also dressed up as Ettabetta (she’s pretty popular). They came across Sweetie’s pictures in their search results, then followed the link to the blog. It was great talking with them about D³, as only a few parents at school know about the blog (self-promotion is not one of my strengths).

You all can check out Sweetie’s picture from her Kindergarten year, and of course, here’s the Cricket:

Feel free to form an opinion about “who wore it better”, just be sure to keep it to yourself! As for me, I’ll never tell. Really, though, Cricket is enjoying the Superkids program just as much as Sweetie did, and she is now reading nightly. I know I mentioned in my last post that the milestones are less exciting with the second child, but this reading stuff is still so cool.

So that’s the start of our week, friends. No puns this time around, but I do hope all is going well for you and yours. We’ll see you out there!

100 Days-Take 2

Hello Friends,

This post is ultimately about Cricket’s recent “Hundred Days of School” project, but it’s gonna take a minute to get there.

We just celebrated the 100th day of school, with both girls taking on projects. As I was watching Cricket’s come together, I thought back to Sweetie’s project from her Kindergarten year. Then, when I didn’t post a picture on the exact day, I realized I had fallen into the “second child” cliche.

I’m not sure how it is in your family, but we constantly struggle to give the girls equal treatment. Sweetie is older but quieter, so she can drift to the background easily. Cricket is second but gregarious and grabs your attention. But a look at their photo albums shows the extent of this problem. Sweetie’s starts in the hospital and is consistent up to her third birthday, some pages bursting from the stack of un-sorted photos. It’s a veritable Encyclopedia Brittanica of the start of her life. Cricket, on the other hand – cliff notes. No, really. Many pages with no photos or any information recorded, even though she’s been around for over five years.

And that’s how it goes with the second kid, right? Parents have less energy in general, the developmental milestones are expected and no longer unique, and you don’t cling to every little thing that happens, you don’t hang on every behavior and correct it to an expectation. Huh, reading that makes it sound bad, like I’m an awful Dad. But I know I’m not alone here, folks.

So here’s my attempt to bring balance to our house. Celebrate! Behold Cricket’s 100th Day Project:

Just a panda strollin in the foothills

Mommy helped bring this image together, but Cricket did the painting and placing. That includes counting and hand-painting all 100 of those noodle-bamboo shoots. And the “100” cloud? All her.

All in all, I think this project went well. It served as a good reminder to me to celebrate the girls’ accomplishments, however small, as equally (and specifically) as we can. Cricket engaged the project, which was very cool to watch. And, we made the trip to school without the project getting ruined. Now if only she had allowed the teacher to keep it to display with the rest of the class…

So remember, friends, second children need love too. And for those of you with more than two kids, you have my respect. Given that my hairline is receding and graying from two, I don’t think I could handle another! We’ll see you out there, friends!