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.

A Different Ice

Hello Friends,

Those of you in and around Chicago know all about ice and cold. I think anyone watching the news has heard about the polar vortex that parked over Chicago last week, and many of you lived it, so I want to talk about a different kind of ice. This kind of ice that comes with songs, characters, $15 snow cones and “merch”. I want to shift the focus and share with you our weekend adventure at Disney on Ice.

We went to the show titled “Mickey’s Search Party”, currently playing at the Allstate Arena in Rosemont. This particular show revolves around Mickey Mouse and friends collecting magic from a variety of items in order to free Tinkerbell from a lamp prison. Each item comes from a different Disney story and invites characters from six different stories to join the adventure. Of course, each story brings its songs, with all the hits, including, “Be Our Guest” ( Beauty and the Beast), “Let it Go” (Frozen), and “Remember Me” (Coco).

This is not the first Disney ice show we have attended. At the beginning of the show Sweetie, now six (steadily approaching seven) seemed a bit removed, almost bored. Once the songs started, though, she was into the show. I even caught her singing along.

The Cricket, on the other hand, was in full “Disney Magic” mode right from jump. Her four-year-old self was swept up by the spectacle, from the variety of merch to the costumes, actors, and characters. She was freely singing, with the abandon that youth exercises.

At these ages this type of gift: a song and dance character extravaganza, filled with visual entertainment, was awesome. The girls had a great time and were wiped out afterward from the excitement and the fun. All props to the Allstate Arena, champions at moving people and traffic and keeping a crowded parking lot orderly. A big thanks for the tickets, a wonderful Christmas gift to the girls. This type of show may not be for everyone, it can be a bit much. But this is one of those experiences that makes a shared memory for our entire family unit. And no one is safe from the Disney Magic…

2018 Wrap-Up

Hello Friends,

So we’re all wrapping up another year. In a few short hours the celebrations will ensue and we’ll usher in 2019. Before all that, I want to take a minute for some well-wishing.

To the D³ readership, I send out a sincere thanks. Your support means so much to me. Keep the comments coming, and tell all your friends to subscribe! Seriously though, without you all I would just be talking to myself. I’ll continue blogging another year, and am planning to add video content as well. You should see us pop up on some of the other socials too. And I know, more pictures of the girls!

To my family, you were the first supporters and continue to be the closest to our family unit. I respect your input and appreciate you sharing your own family stories, both the struggles and triumphs. Thank you for all you do.

Let’s welcome 2019. I’m hopeful that we’ll figure out how to be kinder, smarter people. At least, that’s where I’ll be aiming. Be safe tonight, friends. Enjoy your celebrations and make it home to your loved ones safely. We’ll see you out there!

Following a Yellow Brick Road

Hello Friends,

This is another family adventure from our weekend. With such a beautiful late summer day on Saturday, we had to get out. Wife Googled parks in the city and found “Oz Park ” in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. Who knew?

The main draw was statues of the main Oz characters. Obviuosly, here the girls are sitting on Dorothy’s pedestal. Arranged around two sides of the park, these statues help set a playful tone.

Nick Chopper, a.k.a the Tin Woodman guards the northeast entrance of the park.

Just inside that entrance stands the scarecrow. He is near the “quiet area”, his gentle nature an appropriate reflection of this calm patch. Filled with flowers and decorative plants, it stands apart from the playground and greenspace of the park.

The Cowardly Lion stands at the southeast corner of the park. He has the bonus of being app-enabled and can call you and talk with you. More importantly, he defends the pickle ball court. And yes, the people who play there too.

The playground at Oz Park is amazing. Shade is abundant and kids climb all over multiple ornate wooden structures. There’s tennis courts, pickleball courts, baseball diamonds, basketball courts, open space, the playground- really something for everyone.

We broke for lunch and headed down the street to Chicago Halal. Not much more than counter tops, this place has some kind of magic to their food prep. The gyro meat was cut small and had a delicious searing on the edges.

The girls ate well on their cheeseburgers too. So overall, our family dug Chicago Halal. I know that’s a weak review, but maybe some of you foodies out there can drop them a visit and do a proper one.

So here’s a weird thing about the afternoon: the lack bathrooms. Despite the beauty and playground amenities, Oz Park does not have any bathroom facilities. Chicago Halal also lacks bathrooms facilities. We tried to pitstop at a Starbucks near the park, but no, no toilet. What?!? Bit of a downer on a our day, but we salvaged it. You know who had a bathroom? Same people who have old-school soft serve. Oh yeah, Dairy Queen.

If you haven’t been to Oz Park yet, just follow Webster east, about to Halsted. Visit with the friends from L. Frank Baum’s Oz series, or maybe get in on some wooden paddle and wiffle ball action. Lincoln Park holds plenty of restaurants, both new and fresh as well as tried and true. So food is easy to find around Oz Park. Just be sure you plan your adventure ahead, so you don’t make your own yellow brick road.

Happy July 4th to Ya’!

Hello Friends,

Wishing you all a Happy 4th, however you may be celebrating today! Besides our nation’s birthday, we have friends also celebrating birthdays (I see you Jim!), and memories of soldiers returning home safely. I am sure you all have good stuff to add to today’s celebration too!

So be safe out there, friends. Be careful with the grill, don’t hold fireworks in your hand, and know when to say when. Enough PSA, we’ll see you out there. Happy 4th of July!

Twelve Day Experiment-Day 5

Hello Friends,

Sweetie shared a lovely little thought with me this evening: “I love spending time with friends and family”. Such a simple, wonderful thought came on the heels of a dinner with two other families, both neighborhood and school friends.

This is one friend with the girls on the skating rink (again with the WinterFest pics). When they were at the house, she and the other friend hid from my camera. Such are kindergartners.

They have siblings, and Cricket played happily without trying to keep up with the older kids all afternoon. Everyone played together well, so it was great.

The girls got to hang and play, Wife and I got to enjoy adult conversations. This is the peer support that parents relish. Good food and time spent with friends made for an excellent afternoon – one of those Christmas gifts that doesn’t come wrapped in a box with fancy paper and a bow.

You’re Only 40 Once

I celebrated another friend’s 40th Birthday this weekend. Besides that most of the group was ready for bed by 11:00, it was a great time and a chance for me to reconnect with many friends that I haven’t seen in a long time. Thanks again Nelly – Happy Birthday buddy!

My 40th was back in December and I have been meaning to write about it since then. The first reason for the delay is a pitfall that I have fallen into many times since starting this blog: I wanted to write the perfect post about turning 40. Yeah, that post eluded me because of the second reason for delay: I was not inspired by this milestone.

It’s a weird situation and one that I’ve been chomping on for the past three months. The “thing” has nothing to do with our celebration. We actually had two celebrations, with both sides of our families, and both around meals (food being one of my favorite things). And it’s not so much about getting older. I mean, I’m not happy with all the changes I’m experiencing with my body, but we all get older so that’s just life. I thought it might have to do with my current position in life. Granted, I have friends who are making six-figure salaries, others who have tripled the bottom line of their family business, but they don’t all have kids. And you can’t really compare to children – I mean, c’mon, priceless. So it wasn’t any one of those things, but at times my lack of enthusiasm was caused by a bit of all of those things.

And so I’ve passed the last three months doing a lot of thinking. Reminiscing on “old times” and remembering all of the life that got me to this point. And thinking about the future, like what will I do when both girls are in school? After the past two friends’ birthdays I decided it was time to put thinking aside for a night and do some writing, so here it is. I don’t know if it is the perfect post about turning 40, but I put this out there for any of you getting ready for this birthday (I celebrated with many of you on Saturday!) and for those of you who have also recently passed this milestone. It may take a minute, but I hope you find a happy acceptance of this new decade.

While we were celebrating on Saturday many of us were joking that “40 is the new 30”. Looking at a picture of me taken ten years ago, at a 30th Birthday Party, I recognize that there is very little about me that is new. But it is a nice thought. I know that I am older now than at the start of the detour (deep, I know). And I do think I am more wise, but only because I pay attention. I am thankful for all I have to show for my time so far, and honestly, I think I am settling in with this 40 thing. As Sister Scales-of-Justice shared with me, “Celebrating turning 40 definitely beats the alternative”.

Thank You Dead Presidents

So today was President’s Day, which of course means no school! How did you spend your day? Did you talk to your kids about our country’s Presidents? Did you discuss the current state of affairs in Washington? Did you discuss “civic duty” and the importance of voting? We neither!

The girls both woke up with smiles and lots of energy today. Blame it on some late nights over the weekend, or maybe the 60º+ temperature in Chicago right now. So civics lessons were not on the agenda, but going to the park was item number 2! (There where a couple of things around the apartment that HAD to happen first).

We're off!

We’re off!

I tried to get us out as quickly as possible. The girls were ransacking rooms while I did silly things like dishes and laundry. We were rollin’ by mid-morning, with the day steadily warming up. It was a bit bizarre to head to the playground; 1.) It’s February and most playgrounds and parks are usually buried in snow, 2.) The entire park smelled like wet dog poop, and 3.) There was garbage everywhere (clearly a busy weekend at the playground). We didn’t let any of these things hold us back though, and the girls loved running all over the playground. They had the run of the place right until we were ready to leave.

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Swings-always a favorite

We wrapped up playtime and enjoyed a much-needed snack. Then back to the apartment for a quick Paw Patrol episode (not a school day!) while I swapped car seats and laundry, then out again. We headed to the Buyos’ house for some lunch and a quick visit. The girls did well, until the lack of sleep turned them into drunken sailors whose ears stopped working. Time to leave.

When we got back to the apartment Wife was already home. This seemed like a bonus except that she was not feeling so well. That made for a quiet afternoon, yet still no napping. So after a solid dinner and bath both girls fell asleep without much drama. Overall, I fell way behind on my Monday routine when I usually put the apartment back together. But playing at the park, in February, was great (albeit spooky). And spending the days with my girls is always fun, even with a lack of sleep. I’ll add “making time for families to play together” to the list of great things that our past presidents accomplished. And Happy (early) Birthday President Washington.

Welcome new year

Winter break is now over. Sweetie is in bed, all ready to go back to school tomorrow. Wife is already back to work, ending many days where we were spoiled with her presence. Cricket and I are looking forward to activities starting back up and getting back to a daily routine. And so begins 2017 on the detour.

I am not going to list a bunch of resolutions here, mainly because I don’t believe in New Years’ resolutions. And by “belief” I mean that I historically don’t put enough energy into my resolutions to make them an active part of my life. I historically don’t choose concrete resolutions that I can engage. But I do believe in challenges, so I will share two with you all.

My first challenge for January 2017 is to publish two new posts a week. Ideally, this will be Mondays and Thursdays. I have a list of topics to write about, and I have the house renovation to catch you all up on, so the material is here. Now to make the time. As I write this the Cricket is crying herself NOT to sleep, thereby eating up the few hours that should not have two small bodies running all over them. No excuse though – such is the life of a parent. And thank goodness for Wife – hey, good transition!

A second challenge for me this month is to live my gratitude. Our attitudes effected our life situations, so I am going to try to put forth a grateful attitude and drive my situations accordingly. I might even do a morning mantra to set my mind right. Let me start now by saying, “Thank you,” to all of you reading out there. An internet existence is dependent on “likes” and followers and visits. And I am grateful for all of you out there that provide any and all of these to the detour. Besides that, your presence here helps to shore me up, helps me deal with the tough days and the creative blocks.

And so welcome 2017! I hope you all are looking forward to all of the challenges and gifts that are sure to come this year. This is like a throwback post to the early blog posts – no pictures. No fear though, Sweetie and Cricket are right here as always and I promise at least one pic for the next post. Until then…

R.I.P. Carrie Fisher

While we are big into recycling and re-purposing in our daily lives but I don’t usually re-use photos on the blog. Today is an obvious exception, as this photo of Sweetie from Halloween 2015 pays homage to Princess Leia Organa (Skywalker), as portrayed be the late Carrie Fisher.

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I find Carrie Fisher’s life fascinating. From fame to relative obscurity back up to sci-fi royalty; fighting battles with fictional villains and real-life mental health ones. There is admittedly, more to her than just this one character.

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We talked about this in front of the girls. And even though Sweetie chimed in on the conversation, she didn’t get what was going on. We try to talk about death as just another part of life, but it is still sad. Thankfully, fan response has been strong. In one tweet I read, the author wrote “Be Princess Leia in 2017…be a [general]”. And wife’s sentiments were, “In a world of Barbie dolls and damsels in distress, thank goodness there was Princess Leia.”

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October 21, 1956 – December 27, 2016