Stairway to Insanity

Hello Friends,

Tonight I’ll be climbing the stairway to the second floor of the St. Viator Elementary School Gymnasium. I am volunteering in tonight’s Stairway to Insanity Haunted House!

Not sure what you should do on this chilly, dreary, rainy night? Check out this review of last year’s haunt (this year is pending) and see if it doesn’t help you decide:

Come on over to the school for a value-haunt, spooky time. And then go out and get a big ol’ bowl of soup or some hot noodles or something else warm and filling. Whatever you do, make it a great night. We’ll see you out there, friends!

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New Sticker for the Ride

Hello Friends,

I’ve never been one to put stickers on my cars. This is strange to me because I have put them just on just about everything else I own. Bicycles, guitar cases, water bottles, notebooks, toolboxes – all decorated with a variety of stickers. I finally found one I could commit to however, and today put it on the ride.

This is the second year that Sweetie enrolled in Daisy Scouts through the school. She has two great troop leaders and a bunch of other Moms who step in to assist. Their focus is on crafts, activities and friendship. Of course they sell cookies, but they don’t fixate on the sales. Funny how many stories I hear of that ruining the experience.

I was a Cub Scout and Webelo growing up, so I dig her participation. While I don’t know how much knot-tying and fire-starting the girls are going to learn, they are off to a great start. Trips to nature centers and animal shelters, and singing at the school Winterfest are just a couple of the things they get into besides their meetings.

Got a scout (Cub, Boy, Daisy, Brownie, Girl, etc.)? I hope their/your experience is as good as ours has been. Remember to support ’em, those cookies don’t sell themselves! Ok, well, they kinda do! We’ll see you out there, friends.

Bengtson’s Pumpkin Festival

Hello Friends,

This is pumpkin patch season. For years, Sister Scales-of-Justice has been inviting us to Bengtson’s Pumkin Festival in Homer Glen, Illinois. This year the girls were ready.

Attractions abound, with Autumn fun ranging from the Fun Barn to carnival-style rides with animatronics, like Spooky Skeleton bands, sprinkled here and there.

They also have animals! There are pony rides and a petting zoo. Pleasantly, both were super clean. Not just free of animal mess, but actually smelled good. It was great to let the girls enjoy themselves without cringy because the animals and pens were grimy. I almost forgot, they also have hourly pig races! There are four heats with the excited little guys running their circle track. Winner gets an iced oatmeal cookie!

Overall, the entire campus is kept clean, like super clean. The staff is on constant patrol for errant garbage. Many of the buildings are new and still have the fresh-cut lumber smell. Food options abound, ranging from snack to full barbeque or taco meals. The apple cider doughnuts were tasty, and we were sad we didn’t try the pumpkin churros.

This is not a sponsored review, so let’s insert some reality. The one downer I found at Bengtson’s was the lack of bathrooms. At least the indoor, running water type. To be clear (and fair), they have port-o-lets all over, strangely with sink troughs and soap right outside. But if you have a porta-potty hang-up, this arrangement would be off-putting. Our girls managed just fine.

If you are up for a drive, head to Homer Glen and check out Bengtson’s Pumpkin Festival. I didn’t mention it yet, but of course they have a pumpkin patch, with all sizes of pumkins and gourds for sale. Our girls loved all the action happening around the festival. We loved the clean grounds and amenities. Overall, Bengtson’s is some serious fall fun!

Gutcheck 10/2/18

Hello Friends,

Like many of you, and most of the country, I have been chomping on the Supreme Court Nomination hearings and subsequent testimonies for the past couple of weeks. I use the vague term “chomping” because some people are picking apart every detail while others are collecting a quick summary from a passing news feed. All over the spectrum. I don’t want to launch into anything political right now, but I will say that when I listened to Dr. Ford’s testimony in light of my experiences growing up in the Chicago Suburbs, I felt an awful familiarity with the scenario she described. Local pools, summer hang outs, parties, and entitled boys – yep, we had those here too. And looking at my girls now makes me feel that one could make any defensive claims one wants but I probably won’t lend a sympathetic ear when it comes to sexual harassment and assault. We’re in an ugly, but very necessary moment right now, friends. And with all this in my mind, I read this op-ed by Monica Hesse from The Washington Post:

https://www.msn.com/en-us/lifestyle/newsfeature/dear-dads-your-daughters-told-me-about-their-assaults-this-is-why-they-never-told-you/ar-BBNPCiK?li=BBnb7Kz

Titled Dear dads: Your daughters told me about their assaults. This is why they never told you, this article is a gut check, a kick in the shin, a rough insight into yet another reality about why sexual harassment and assault are kept secret. And it’s written for us Dads. Now the article is well-written, not overly politicized and even somewhat cathartic, but it is still tough to read. But in my opinion, men and women alike should read it.

The long and short of it: daughters don’t want to disappoint their fathers.

The details unfold around that idea. What struck me is that now is the time for me to show my girls how I can rationally listen to their life stories; good, bad and ugly. Show them while they are young and hopefully we develop some space to talk about the hard life issues. We may be in an ugly moment, but my hope is that Dads are paying attention and thinking “caterpillar stage”, meaning work and live through the ugly in order to make something else. Something that flies higher, goes farther, does better. And I focus on men’s roles here because we are doing the majority of the harassing and assaulting. Blame socialization, evolution, television and popular media, whatever, but that’s the truth. Then move past blame and let’s start figuring this ugly sh*t out.

The politics of this whole nomination is making me angry. Honestly, the past three nominations have frustrated me, made me upset with the people working in our government system. So I guess, like with most things, this change will have to start at home. Let’s start with us, Dads. And Uncles. And Grandfathers. And Brothers. And Cousins. Hell, and neighbors and teachers and every other role where men influence boys and play a part in shaping the norms and mores of society. And in roles where men influence girls. And let’s open up to our female counterparts. Moms, Aunts, Sisters, Grandmothers, teachers, fabricators, engineers. Open an honest conversation, or maybe even shut up and listen. I know this is a bit of a rant, and I’m not typing here because I think I have some answer. But I know I’m not alone in looking for one.

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.

Affy Tapples for All!

Hello Friends,

I don’t use this blog to push many products or sell stuff, but this post is an exception. With that clear, I won’t be offended if you back out right now.

The girls sell a lot of stuff as fundraising for St. Viator School and I think you all might be interested in some of these things. For example, around February we will sell Girl Scout Cookies. I had so many, “Why didn’t you tell me” comments last year that I am going to advertise hard this year. Today’s post is about another such tasty item.

Yes friends, it’s Taffy Apple sales time. I feel like you can’t make it through childhood in the Chicagoland area without eating Taffy Apples at some point.

This time the sales benefit the St. Viator Elementary School Halloween Party. This annual event is a fun, costumed, music and food celebration. It’s another chance for the kids to dress up witb plenty of space to run and dance around. I’ll be posting more information about the party and the St. Viator Haunted House as we roll into October.

So that’s the pitch, at least from my end. I think Affy Tapples sell themselves – you either love ’em or not. If you’re interested then contact me directly. Don’t have my number? Drop me an email message at dadsdiaperdetour@gmail.com and we’ll work out an order.

Alright then, friends, think it over and let me know before September 26th. And remember, make it a great day! We’ll see you out there.

Good Time for a Rainbow

Hello Friends,

Summer is winding down, but we are still squeezing in some adventures. This trip to the Southside was Wife’s idea. And it was perfect for…

ice cream from The Original Rainbow Cone! It’s been at least three years since I posted about this Chicago gem. But the multi-scoop ice cream treat is still uniquely delicious.

I say “uniquely” delicious because I would never expect these flavors to taste so good together. Strawberry and pistachio are not my go-to flavors in general, but they fit right into this party.

After a quick discernment I went with a small. Yeah, that’s a small. Isn’t it funny how the ice cream is more of a wedge than a scoop? Pure logistics.

They do have a kid’s size, which was a perfect option for the girls. I still had to help them finish though, good thing for that small!

The Original Rainbown Cone is open until October, so go get one! There’s still time – we may just have to make another trip!