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.

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.

In the Books

Hello Friends,

After a whirlwind two weeks, we can officially say our Summer 2019 is “in the books” (hence the post title). But I return to you as we celebrate our first day back to St. Viator Elementary School for the 2019-2020 school year.

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You may be thinking, “Wait, is the Cricket in a uniform?” And the answer is yes, she is. She is starting Kindergarten and that means uniforms, no naps, and the beginning of her permanent record.

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She was very excited, even though today was just a one hour welcoming day. Tomorrow is her real first day, but she dressed up just the same (and we don’t really buy into the permanent record thing).

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Sweetie was excited too…no, really. She didn’t show it the entire morning, but she was glad to get back to her friends. If only I would stop making her pose with these signs all over the house, and stairs, and outside, and in the school yard. Well, that’s not going to happen.

And so, as I stated, our summer is in the books. But I invoke the spirit of Dad jokes to say that our girls are also in the books. Gosh, that was way more funny in my head. Anyway, we’re back at school now. Best to you and yours as they head back, here’s hoping it’s a smooth and positive end of your summer.

Lego Table-a DIY Project

Hello Friends,

Our lives have been full of school activities, what with the end of the year and all. I feel like a little break though. A while back I mentioned that I wanted to share more of our project life, so here goes…and the fact that it is a Lego-centric post is gravy on the potatoes.

Projects were a part of our lives well before the girls arrived. I am still a DIY kind of guy, but my projects have shifted. As life would have it, they have gone from “my projects” (1955 Buick), to “our” projects (1920 Bungalow), to “their” projects. This last category hosts a long, ever-growing list of things that need building, modifying, or repair. Recently, we customized a table to create a Lego building/play space.

I mentioned this table in my Lego History post, but the backstory is that we bought it from the liquidation sale when they closed the Sears down the street. Formerly for product display, the table is an all-steel frame with pressed-wood inserts. It was a little beaten up, but a sanding and a fresh coat of paint cleaned it right up.

Wife and I then set about the baseplate layout. She had picked up the green plates at Target for the girls’ free play. The road plates are from my Lego building days in the eighties (big thanks to the Q nephews and nieces for taking care of them!). As I mentioned in the history post, we wanted some type of layout, without sacrificing free play space. So far, the table is a combination of sets from buildings mixed with the girls’ creations. Free building and set following in one!

You can see that the height works perfectly for these chairs we found at Costco. There is also the lower shelf for storage (you can just see our storage bricks). And the girls love it. I don’t think a day goes by where they aren’t building and playing at the table. And many days, I have to kick them off so we can make it to school.

In total, this project cost under $75. The table itself was $23, a weird price because of the liquidation sale. The green plates are $7.99 off the shelf at Target. The paint is a $15 quart of Rustoleum (plus a handful of cheap brushes). Granted, we had the road plates, and the Costco chairs, so there was a re-assignment of existing resources. If I had painted in the warmer weather, I could’ve saved time and money with spray cans. But again, the girls are at the table daily, and their friends gravitate right to it when they come over to play. I think this project has already paid for itself.

So there’s our Lego table project. I will continue to share more of my projects, so you’ll be seeing them. I just caught wind of an IKEA/Lego collboration, so there may be a better, official option soon. Anyway, let me know what you think, or share your Lego play space.

We’ll see you out there!

My First Field Trip

Hello Friends,

The girls have taken field trips for a few years now. Obviously, there are school trips, like two or three each year. Last summer, Sweetie took field trips through her summer camp as well. Me, on the other hand, I’ve been avoiding them like the flu. But, not anymore!

These are all pictures taken while I chaperoned Cricket’s trip to the Lincoln Park Zoo with the two PreK-4 classes. An afternoon at LPZ is an easy sell for me. And the timing worked out, with no second child in tow, no half day pick up, and work that I could delay.

I was definitely nervous, at first, worrying that it would be me alone with half of Cricket’s class. I was envisioning parading around the zoo, chasing stragglers from one exhibit to the next. It wasn’t all that different from what I expected, except my group was five children (yes, Cricket was one of them), and I was joined by another Mom and a nanny (with a student’s younger sibling in tow). A third Mom even joined us during lunch. So we had/made a village.

Overall, the kids were great. Sure, they are four and five years old, but they were fine. The day was perfect, with the right balance of warmth, sun, cloud cover, and breeze. The bus ride? Well, definitely brought back elementary school memories. Taking all that into account, I guess I could help with another trip next year.

I don’t know about your kids’schools, but St. Viator has all sorts of ways for parents to get involved. The general feedback that I have heard (mainly from teacher Moms) is that field trips are one of the most important and helpful ways for parents to participate in school events. Personally, I liked seeing the kids enjoy the zoo and the animals. It’s no coincidence that all these pictures show the kids at the enclosure glass ir wall. They were so into the animals. And watching their antics was icing on the cake.

We are winding down the school year. For yhe most part, the girls are all smiles. I hope your end-of-year adventures are good as well.