Random Two-fer

Hello Friends,

No deep thoughts today, just some feelings.

Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, no? This is so much better than an hour ago when they were shut-eyed and bushy-haired. Anyway, today the school is getting ready for the Boys Intramural Basketball Tournament (Friday evening and Saturday). Lucky us, “Spirit Day” coincided with gym day. Don’t they look spirited?!?

Random start to the day, but there you go. I hope your Friday is starting off well. We’ll see you out there, friends.

It’s Coming!

Hello Friends,

Yep, Halloween is almost here; just two days now. In past years, I’ve talked about how our walk to and from school gets longer as Halloween decorations go up along our route. This year has been more of the same.

This yard is always a favorite. They add more inflatables each year, and the girls get a kick out of them all. In the girls’ assessment, this yard is spooky fun, but not so scary.

Yet another favorite, but the opinion on this yard is much different. Again, they add characters every year, but they tend to be creepy and bloody. Make no mistake, while it’s still worth stopping and checking out each day, the girls deem this yard scary. They only like it because they watch it go up. Otherwise, this house would be a hard pass.

There are plenty of other houses along our walk, and they all fall somewhere on the spooky-to-scary scale. The girls dig it, though, so that is fun. And that makes our walk a but more enjoyable as the temperature drops.

Not long now, friends, until all the boils and ghouls are out. Hope you’re as excited as we are-can’t wait to see your spooky decor!

Fall Cleaning

Hello Friends,

Everyone talks about how much they love spring cleaning. I am a bigger fan of fall cleaning. I enjoy reflecting on the growth from the spring and summer, while clearing out our space to make room.

Our front yard is a decorative, perennial, native, low-maintenance situation. We copied our neighbor, a landscape architect, so we have some staggered blooming. We do weed and mulch, but for the most part, it takes care of itself. By the fall, the yard is predominantly leaves.

We have learned that our perennial plants enjoy a clear cut each fall. They come back the following spring more healthy and full. Here again, we did what our neighbor did.

The back yard is a different story. That’s our small, compost-fed garden bed. It gets a bunch of sun, though, and always does well (you’ve seen the evidence).

The bed benefits from a good clean-out, too. I dig a trench and dump in our unfinished compost. As the fall progesses, I add dried, shredded leaves as well, effectively turning the bed into a passive compost pile. Next year, we are going to add real beds, so the clean-out this year helped me visualize that layout.

That lemongrass is still going strong. Wife and I are deciding on the best way to bundle and dry it for tea this winter. The apple trees were happy to get some pruning, now that I could reach them!

Obviously, our front yard is our curb appeal. We also hope the plants help control the rain water. The back yard is a fun project, and we eat from the garden when we can. The girls are getting more involved and are more helpful each season, and that’s great. And I know I feel better after a garden therapy session! Hopefully, you have some good plants in your life, too. No matter if they are for food, or if they are just nice to look at.

“Inch by inch, row by row, we’re gonna make this garden grow”

LPZ Fall Fest

Hello Friends,

Autumn events abound, and I thought I’d share one that we tried. There’s a bit more pressure on the post, because this weeeknd is the last weeknd for the Lincoln Park Zoo Fall Fest.

The flier is true! They have a variety of programming available to entertain whatever your child likes.

The girls were great about indulging their nerdy father as I snapped photos all around the fest. Really, as long as there was an attraction nearby, they were cool with it.

One of the great things about Lincoln Park Zoo is that it’s close to home. Our drive is less than a half hour, even with some traffic. Another great thing is that they have all of the animal houses to warm up inside. Not only do you get a break from the cold (and spending tickets), you can check out the animals. The cafe also stays open for full lunch service and cookie decorating .

There are a couple of things to be aware of. Parking in Lincon Park can be frustrating. Zoo parking is great for members, but it does cost. The zoo admission is still free, but you pay for the fest attractions.

Again, this is the final weekend of the LPZ Fall Fest. Did I mention the pumkin patch? Well, there is one. Hopefully, you get lots of sun and low wind when you go check it out.

Happy Fall, friends. Which ever fest or farm you check out, I hope it’s fun. We’ll see you out there!

Didn’t Get the Memo

Hello Friends,

Clearly, our garden was not notified when Summer ended two weeks ago. We are still pulling tomatoes and zucchini from the vines.

Some of the tomatoes are getting ugly, but overall it’s a good looking yield. And obviously, we let this squash go too long. That was a problem this summer: we searched for zucchini and couldn’t find them, then we found them and they were way too big. I guess we’re out of practice.

Historically, we have kept the garden as a hobby. This year’s success made it exciting and fun again, and it makes it feel alright that we took a year off. Technically, I think the agricultural phrase is that we chose to let the garden go “fallow” a year.

It’s time to clear the bed and preare for the winter, so I’ll empty the compost bin and mix on the leaves as they fall. We already have a plan for next year, thanks to raised beds that Wife found. They have a compost area factored into their footprint, so, come Spring, we will be overhauling the space. Oh, and writing about it, of course!

I hope your garden is wrapping up well, and your late harvest is bountiful! Now starts your planning foor the Spring as well. And for those of you who don’t currently have a garden, you have something to consider during the winter months. We’ll see you out there!

Lice…Not Nice

Hello Friends,

Long weekend for us, last Friday being an Institute Day and all. Unfortunately, we spent the second half of the weekend dealing with head lice, everyone’s least favorite part of Elementary School.

I’ll give some quick background on our experience, then dispel some misconceptions. Last week ended with warm weather, so the girls were playing outside on Friday. Since it was a day off, we skipped bath time, too. When Sweetie was itching her head Friday night, we just thought she was grimy. When she was still itchy Saturday morning, wife busted out the nit comb. After a few dry passes, we thought, maybe, we found an egg, or maybe a couple of eggs (“nits”). We decided to call Hair Fairies, just to get the experienced inspection, and booked an afternoon spot for a treatment (if necessary).

Right off the bat, “Nick”, our Hair Fairy technician, started wetting Sweetie’s hair. He then used conditioner to section off her hair and glide the nit comb through it. And he immediately found adult lice (simply referred to as “bugs”). We had the time, so we committed to the treatment: two hours of combing, facilitated with essential oil conditioner. Nick combed until several passes came out clean, about a hour and a half total. He then blew Sweetie’s hair dry and did a dry inspection around her ears and any other areas the nit comb didn’t reach easily. Lastly, he put the Hair Fairy shampoo in Sweetie’s hair and put her hair in a bun.

Part of our visit was inspections for all. Nick found one bug on Cricket, but no nits or larvae. He declared her “one and done”. Nick inspected Wife and me as well, and we were also clear. Sweetie has a follow-up in four days, and apparently we (I) have some laundry to wash.

I definitely learned a lot during the visit. First, head lice are parasites, not predators. They need a hosts head to survive. We were concerned about bombing the entire house, but that is not necessary. They don’t move well on anything but hair, only lay their eggs on hair strands, and they die in two days. So head lice are not like fleas that jump around, or ticks lying in wait – head to head contact is really their gig. But again, pillow cases and sheets, things with direct head contact, all went in the washer on hot. Second, head lice is a part of Elementary School life. Nick congratulated us for making it through this rite of passage. He corrected my perception of a headlice infestation from unique and traumatic to common and treatable. So more like a common cold, also a part of school life.

Hair Fairies is not the only provider if lice removal and treatment, they’re just who we chose to visit. I kept tellng other parents that it felt more like a spa visit with all of the essential oils and the gentle lighting. I told Nick many times that he made the experience alright (ok, good) by correcting our ignorance and removing the drama from Sweetie’s infestation. We have since corrected our methods, and worked out the schedule for our inspections. Kudos to all of you facing had lice at home by yourselves, it worked best for us to seek a professional opinion.

Sweetie returned back to school with little fanfare. I want to give a big shout-out and thank you to our St. Viator Commnity. Parents expressed concern and support for Sweetie and us, and that was great. I was projecting a mild fear that we would be avoided, and I was mistaken. Sweetie’s experience has been more of a hassle than traumatic, and that’s great. Here’s a sketch from today showng her take on this whole deal:

So again, head lice are common and treatable, but infestations are also preventable. Inspect every 4 days, use the essential oil bug sprays, encourage your kids not to share head wear, and girls and long-haired boys should wear tight pony tails or buns.

All that being said, sheesh, who else is itchy?

The Apple Didn’t Fall Far…

Hello Friends,

Well the new school year brings all sorts of new adventures, eh? Our last four weeks have been interesting, yeah, interesting. But that’s another post. Instead I want to focus on Sweetie’s new look.

Second Grade is going well for her so far. She enjoys school, loves her teacher, and is happy being around her friends again. She started the school year with a new accessory, though, one that we have been expecting.

Wife and I both have prescriptions; mine stronger than hers. I too, got my first pair of glasses in the Second Grade. So, with Sweetie, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. That’s a good thing too, because without these new glasses, she couldn’t see it if it did.