#QuarantineFather’sDay

Hello Friends,

Happy Father’s Day to all of the Dads, Grampas, Papas, Godfathers, and every other “Father” designation. From all of us here are D3, we wish you a great day. Here’s what I woke up to:

The entire breakfast was delicious, but I love that you can see the steam coming off the coffee. It doesn’t get much better! I hope your day is starting off well, even if steak & eggs is not your thing. May you be surrounded by your loved ones and make the most out of this year’s wierd Father’s Day.

There’s more to come, friends, as we dive into summer. The girls just started day camp, an at-home version we have dubbed “D3DC” (Dad’s Diaper Detour Day Camp is a mouthful). There is more sharing to come! Have a great day, Dads, this one’s for you!

Celebrating Little Things

Hello Friends,

In general, I encourage the girls to celebrate the little things in life: mornings when we have a sunny walk to school, a bird in the yard, seedlings breaking through the dirt, etc.. Most times the girls entertain my deep thoughts, but I don’t think they totally get the idea. This, however, was something they, specifically the Cricket, understood.

Cricket lost Baby Tooth number 2, and it was even more exciting than the first. She understood how to wiggle this one, so pulling was not required. She was proudly announcing how she “just pushed it with her tongue and it came out!”

That’s it there, bottom row, her left. Alright, maybe she didn’t fully grasp jutting out her chin, but you get the point.

A baby tooth is actually small (quite!), and we did celebrate. The tooth fairy came, magic dust sprinkled all over the nightstand as usual. Cricket put her dollar safely in her jewelry box the next day. A little tooth, a little magic, a little money and a little celebration. Right now, that was a big deal for all of us. Even Sweetie cheered for her little sister’s tooth loss.

I sincerely hope you all are finding small things to celebrate during these weird times. Some days that’s easy for us; some days we celebrate if we didn’t scream at one another. I think we all need to keep looking, keep trying, to find things to celebrate. The alternative is crummy.

I want to end similar to my last post. We are here, and we are healthy. And we’re glad you are too. We’ll see you soon, friends. Behave, be safe.

Back to (Home) School

Hello Friends,

I hope this post finds you doing well: safe, healthy, and coping with the social distancing measures. We are home still, and healthy and safe too. We are (still) all in this together.

Last week we returned to at-home classwork. The girls’ school schedule worked around Easter, so their 10 day Spring Break was in April. It was a nice break from home-schooling, and we learned a few lessons for our return.

Many of you are also dealing with home-schooling right now, so I won’t dig too deep. Sweetie had a fun volcano project last week for her STEM class, and I thought I would share some of the highlights.

Everything started with a salt dough volcano. As you see, Sweetie was good about sharing the project with her sister. Once the volcano dried, it was time for paint.

I had to laugh at this stage. I set each girl up with four colors of paint. As you can see, everything melded into “grey”, and that is not so bad (we’re big fans here at our house). The project culminated in the eruption-good times!

This was project was a fun part of our week. I was talking with Momstar on Friday (her son killed it on this project, btw), and we realized neither one of us had done a volcano project in Elementary School. The girls enjoyed the different stages of the project, and they loved eruption day. I was glad they got into the project, and worked well together. It was great to have them interacting but not competing, and complaining was minimal. Best part for me, very low screen-time!

Clearly, I’m not sharing anything profound today…and I’m fine with that. I wanted to share this project as an example of a little thing that brought smiles to our in-household. I hope you and your family are finding smiles, big or small, during this wierd time. Honestly, smiles are hard to find on some of these days, but they’re around. So behave and be safe, friends. We’re here, and we’re glad you are too.

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.

Baby Tooth Gone!

Hello Friends,

We are celebrating over here, as Cricket just lost her first baby tooth! She’s been walking around with a loose tooth since January. The adult tooth erupted in February, but that little one wouldn’t give up.

We kept telling her all month to wiggle the baby tooth and play with it (all per Dr. Johnny’s directions). She didn’t really get the idea until two weeks ago, then she started to show that tooth some attention. We were supposed to call March 1 to schedule the “extraction”, but I kept pushing it off – it was getting so loose! Last night was the night, and wife was the hero. Post bath she grabbed a tissue and POP! (yep, it actually made a noise).

Cricket was very excited. She now joins all her school friends who have been losing teeth. Of course, the Tooth Fairy stopped by her room. We got to hear about it at 4:30 this morning!

Almost too small to see!

On to the next adventure. I hope you all are doing well out there. Let’s close in honor of Dr. Seuss and one of the girls’ favorite books, “teeth, you find them everywhere!”

Sometimes You Have to Wear the Samoa

Hello Friends,

We are in the thick of Girl Scout Cookie Sales over here. In-person sales are complete, but internet sales are still going strong. The thing that has the most impact on our calendar right now is the cookie booths

Undoubtedly you’ve been approached by Girl Scouts outside of your local grocery store. Here in Illinois, where recent laws have re-adjusted recreational activities, the more enterprising troops have partnered with cannabis dispensaries for their booths (our contacts are working this angle as we speak). This story comes to us from Wife’s point of view, as collected at their recent experience with Sweetie’s Brownie Troop outside of a local Dunkin’ Donuts.

The model is easy: a Brownie Scout’s parents sign her up to work a 1-hour shift; scout and parent (usually Mom) work the shift; cookie sales are split between the scouts that worked the shift. Troops are free to add whatever market differentiation they feel will increase their sales. In our troop’s case, they employ a cookie outfit, specifically, a Samoa.

Genius, right – who doesn’t love a Samoa? (Not that too many people say “no” to a sweet child selling deliciousness in a box, but still) Well, the outfit and selling situation made Sweetie upset. She didn’t want to wear the cookie outfit, she didn’t want to stand outside, and she didn’t want to make sales to strangers. If the girls were alone, this would be understandable, but they were all accompanied by an adult, usually their own mother. Thankfully, in true Brownie Scout tradition, this turned into a teachable moment for Sweetie and all the girls on that shift.

The Moms on this shift were no joke, with various attorneys, realtors and other entrepreneurial women in attendance. And they were all Moms (of course). Genuine role model squad here. The ladies let those scouts know that reaching your goal includes working the sale, running your hustle, and giving a little to get a lot. In kind, encouraging, and honest terms, they let the girls know that the world is not a kind place where merit badges just fall in your lap; you have to work for it. And sometimes reaching your goal means leaving your comfort zone. The title for the post comes from one of those realtor Moms who told the girls, “Sometimes you have to wear the Samoa.”

such a happy samoa!

Granted, I heard this story from Wife, so I’m passing on a second hand experience. But as an at-home parent, I get it. Sometimes it takes some compromise to get along. Over the past seven years, there have been a bunch of times where I thought to myself, “now how did I get into this?” One of the first things that comes to mind is swim lessons with me (in a swimsuit-ugh) and the girls, in turn, and a bunch of other parents splashing around and singing silly songs (but no one making eye contact). Oh yeah, I guess there’s that whole “career on hold” thing to remember too. Regardless, a little compromise for the benefit of knowing how my girls started their lives. The lesson clearly applies to professional life, too. So many times we are asked to complete “additional duties as needed”, and when we know the goal, we complete those duties.

Now clearly, I am not advising that a parent, at-home or otherwise, go against their values. The Moms weren’t telling the girls that either. As parents we have to be flexible, though, stay loose. Kids are fickle little humans, and strict adherence to rigid anything is not good for the household. Alright, now I’m thinking about Bruce Lee and moving like water.

Well, I hope all is going well for you in your corner of the world. For the record, Sweetie’s participation in the cookie booth earned her enough extra sales to level up to the next prizes. Woo-hoo! If for some reason you haven’t bought any Girl Scout Cookies, feel free to drop me a line at: DadsDiaperDetour@gmail.com – we’ll get ya’ connected. We’ll see you out there!

Not-So-Simple Machines

Hello Friends,

the Second Grade projects keep getting more and more interesting. My biggest challenge is finding the balance between motivating Sweetie to complete these projects, and doing them for her. (There’s that “b” word again.) Sweetie’s teacher has assigned book reports for the past few months, and overall, Sweetie does the work at her level. I try to guide her writing so she doesn’t sound like a complete knucklehead, and of course, I proof read it. Wife also steps up to review the work and help with the projects. Again, Sweetie does fine on these, but I think part of her motivation is that she wants to please us and her teacher. Having that understanding when we help her with these reports makes it easier to step back and let her do the work. The situation gets harder when the work is cool and she is motivated by the project itself.

Sweetie recently brought home a “Simple Machines” project as an extension of their classroom work. As she informed Wife and I, simple machines help move a load using less force, and include things like wedges, inclined planes, wheels and axles, screws, levers, and pulleys. According to her assignment sheet, she was to build a simple machine, and explain its function. Students could build additional machines if they wanted. My attention piqued when she reached the section that detailed the materials one could use and read an example made from Lego bricks. Wham – Dad hooked.

We happen to have a Lego inclined plane and platform in our “Family Collection” (I’m looking on BrickLink to identify the set they came from). Clearly, those two pieces don’t make an interesting project.

But what can go on an inclined plane, either up or down? Yep, a cart – that’s with wheels and axles.

Next came the Technic organizer with its fun variety of parts the girls don’t yet appreciate. And…pulley.

This process continued until Sweetie had built a cart (wheel and axle at each corner), an inclined plane, a pulley, and a lever.

We set about assembling all of these components into one cohesive project:

Next came the testing! No doubt Sweetie’s favorite part was saying, “Test number …,” then setting this whole thing in motion. Once we dialed it in, you would pull the lever and send the stack of bricks off of the platform. This load would pull the yarn over the pulley, pulling the cart up the inclined plane to the base of the tower. This machine moves and lifts the load on the cart.

Sweetie was into this project from the start. She enjoys building stuff like Lego sets and robot kits, so she was immediately aligned with the work. After reading that she could use Lego for this school work she was all in. I tried to keep her involved at each step, but I had to catch myself (more than once) and be sure she was making the connections and building this “not-so-simple” simple machine. I ended up laughing at myself more than once, reminding myself that Second Grade was long ago, and that I wasn’t earning a gold star here.

This project went well, both for Sweetie and the class as a whole. Clearly, it’s a popular one. Her classmates brought in projects at all levels and had a chance to demonstrate them to the class. Judging by the video Sweetie’s teacher took, this was also very popular.

As for me, I’ll keep working on my involvement with the girls’ schoolwork. Again, there’s a balance to strike here. I don’t actually feel like I’m re-living Elementary School, but I do feel like Wife and I are laying the foundation for the girls’ future study habits. I’m sure there is some good info out there for me to read about this, let me just finish this book report about Amelia Earhart first…

Ettabetta Boop

Hello Friends,

We’re going to keep on with this theme of equal daughter representation. Cricket’s class just held their Superkids Dress-Up Day. Funny thing, she chose Ettabetta, just like Sweetie did two years ago.

The circumstances around this dress-up day are funny, because the detour showed up in the Google search results for “Superkids Ettabetta”. For some sites this is an everyday occurrence; for me, it was a reason to do the happy dance. I learned about the search results from two different Kindergarten Moms, whose daughters also dressed up as Ettabetta (she’s pretty popular). They came across Sweetie’s pictures in their search results, then followed the link to the blog. It was great talking with them about D³, as only a few parents at school know about the blog (self-promotion is not one of my strengths).

You all can check out Sweetie’s picture from her Kindergarten year, and of course, here’s the Cricket:

Feel free to form an opinion about “who wore it better”, just be sure to keep it to yourself! As for me, I’ll never tell. Really, though, Cricket is enjoying the Superkids program just as much as Sweetie did, and she is now reading nightly. I know I mentioned in my last post that the milestones are less exciting with the second child, but this reading stuff is still so cool.

So that’s the start of our week, friends. No puns this time around, but I do hope all is going well for you and yours. We’ll see you out there!

100 Days-Take 2

Hello Friends,

This post is ultimately about Cricket’s recent “Hundred Days of School” project, but it’s gonna take a minute to get there.

We just celebrated the 100th day of school, with both girls taking on projects. As I was watching Cricket’s come together, I thought back to Sweetie’s project from her Kindergarten year. Then, when I didn’t post a picture on the exact day, I realized I had fallen into the “second child” cliche.

I’m not sure how it is in your family, but we constantly struggle to give the girls equal treatment. Sweetie is older but quieter, so she can drift to the background easily. Cricket is second but gregarious and grabs your attention. But a look at their photo albums shows the extent of this problem. Sweetie’s starts in the hospital and is consistent up to her third birthday, some pages bursting from the stack of un-sorted photos. It’s a veritable Encyclopedia Brittanica of the start of her life. Cricket, on the other hand – cliff notes. No, really. Many pages with no photos or any information recorded, even though she’s been around for over five years.

And that’s how it goes with the second kid, right? Parents have less energy in general, the developmental milestones are expected and no longer unique, and you don’t cling to every little thing that happens, you don’t hang on every behavior and correct it to an expectation. Huh, reading that makes it sound bad, like I’m an awful Dad. But I know I’m not alone here, folks.

So here’s my attempt to bring balance to our house. Celebrate! Behold Cricket’s 100th Day Project:

Just a panda strollin in the foothills

Mommy helped bring this image together, but Cricket did the painting and placing. That includes counting and hand-painting all 100 of those noodle-bamboo shoots. And the “100” cloud? All her.

All in all, I think this project went well. It served as a good reminder to me to celebrate the girls’ accomplishments, however small, as equally (and specifically) as we can. Cricket engaged the project, which was very cool to watch. And, we made the trip to school without the project getting ruined. Now if only she had allowed the teacher to keep it to display with the rest of the class…

So remember, friends, second children need love too. And for those of you with more than two kids, you have my respect. Given that my hairline is receding and graying from two, I don’t think I could handle another! We’ll see you out there, friends!

2020 Launch

Hello Friends,

Yup, it took me until the first week of February to get the 2020 ‘detour going. Yikes.

Our updates are neither extensive nor exciting, but things are happening. The girls returned to school three weeks ago and are settling back into their schedules. Girls scouts is up and running, and more extracurricular stuff will start up soon. Somehow we dodged the illnesses that went around the school. A few sniffles, but thankfully no major illnesses. All in all, things are quiet and good.

If you follow us on Facebook, then you have seen these photos since I just spent some time updating profile pictures. I realize the girls change so fast, and historically, I need to post more pictures. Too late for a resolution?

These are from the end of 2019, November and December mainly. We’ll get some new ones in, but I wanted to give you all something with the girls in it. Speaking of Facebook, my personal page (started to deal with Winterfest logistics) has grown quickly. It is remarkable how fast you can connect with people when you can make “Friend Requests” (the detour FB page doesn’t allow that-weird). This is a good time to ask you all to “like” us on the different platforms, right now WordPress and Facebook. And I know there are a bunch of you that have already been here for a while – thank you for sticking around with us!

So we’re back, and we’re back at it. It looks like 2020 is going to bring about some changes for us. I am still in transition back to work, aiming for an August return. I am currently soliciting “help and advice” about that return, so if you got some, leave it in the comments! Wife is keeping her professional eyes and ears open, always willing to consider another work option. And what will this blog become when these changes shake out? Not sure, but I’ll let you know.

So that’s that – Happy New Year! I hope your January went well and the February forecast is promising. Anyone know what Phil saw? Anyway, we’ll see you out there, friends.