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.