Another Way to Beat the Heat

Hello Friends,

Well, summer heat has arrived in Chicago. If the weather prediction is right, we’re in for more this week. With temps hitting the nineties on Friday and Saturday, we decided to cash-in a gift and hit the theater.

Oops, to clarify, we went to the Marriot Theatre, not a movie theater. Grandma and Grandpa gifted the girls tickets for Christmas and we found Junie B. Jones, the Musical, for them to check out.

Sweetie read a bunch of the June B. Jones books during the First Grade, and really enjoyed them. The writing is age-appropriate and accessible. I think Sweetie liked that there is some mis-adventures, mischief, and some of the behaviors are a bit controversial (again, within the age parameters). Cricket knows of Junie B. through her sister-if Sweetie dug it, it must be awesome.

The theatre was only about forty percent filled, and wife spoke with a lovely woman at the ticket counter, so first row, center, for us. Since we were on the same level as the stage, the girls could see all the actors and actresses up close. They loved the layout (theatre in the square?) that allowed them to see all the action. The girls were rockin’ out to the songs and crackin’ up with the show.

The Marriot Theatre is in Lincolnshire, just North of the city. They hold all types of theatre performances, and the ground-level, square stage with 360° seating is pretty cool. Their air conditioning works well and the seats are comfortable. (If I could’ve taken photos during the performance you would see the grandfather who slept comfortably the entire show-HERE). They are easy enough to find online, so check ’em out.

So I offer you, friends, this other way to beat the heat. Another special thanks to Grandma and Grandpa for this “experience” gift, which was a wonderful way to spend the day. I hope you all are staying comfortable in the summer heat, and finding all sorts of adventures. We’ll see you out there!

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Garden Fun

Hello Friends,

Our summer is off and running, with all sorts of adventures and activities. I’ll fill you in on the camp fun and vacationing (local plans for us) and all that, but today I want to tell you about our garden.

We started our bed prep back in April. After the initial weeding, the girls used fairy house to create a fairy village, then planted wildflower seeds to make a pollinator “forest” to surround that village. The cool weather gave way to wet weather, but we were able to get plants in the ground by the end of May.

We kept it fairly simple with a jalepeno plant, two roma tomatoes, one squash, two rows of scallions, and two rows of carrots. Oddly enough, the two apple trees espaliered against the garage didn’t bloom this year. But the garden is planted!

This is a big deal for me because this is the first garden we have planted in three years! We left our house for renovation in 2016 and returned in late summer 2017 to award-winning weeds. Seriously, some were about six feet tall. Last summer we weeded, cleared, and cleaned, but never planted. Prior to the construction, we always planted a garden. And each year we changed, rearranged, landscaped, and continued to dial-in our yard space.

The other reason this is cool to me is that the girls are showing an interest. Whenever we went outside they gravitated to the garden bed and the dirt, so this year we are channeling that energy. The fairy houses are gifts from a couple of past birthdays; the girls moved them outside and crated the village. As far as gardening skills and foot-awareness, they are still stomping on plants, but took great care building their fairy village. Whenever we walk that way, they check on the houses and the developing pollinator meadow (fairy scale meadow, of course). We’re leveraging the lessons of the fairy village to teach the gurls about growing vegetables. You know, making sure they don’t think tomatoes grow in the bins at Jewel. I love that they are getting their hands dirty and playing with worms, it’s much more refreshing than screen time. Their next lesson is how to clean the dirt from under their nails!

Well, we’re off to more activities. I hope your summer is starting off well. I haven’t picked songs in while, but this would be a great place to cue up Sherm the Worm by Peter Himmelman (we discovered the song on the Best of the Land of Nod aldum). If you have a garden space, be it a plot or even just a bucket, I wish you a bumper crop. Oh, and for sure I’ll update the progress. That’s all for now friends, we’ll see you out there!

Zoo Camp

Hello Friends,

Man, how the summer has flown! I hope you can forgive my absence. We have been both travelling and entertaining family here at home. The girls have enjoyed all kinds of summer adventures so far. They’ve travelled, had beach visits, sampled children’s museums and my favorite, attended camps!

We are wrapping up our summer at the Lincoln Park Zoo Conservation Camp. I wrote last summer about Sweetie’s adventures at LPZ Camp, and now Cricket is old enough too.

Gettin’ comfortable with the group

The girls enjoy the crafts and games, and especially love the daily trips into the zoo to check out the animals and their behaviors.

Very comfortable!

The zoo and camp are located in the very accessible Lincoln park neighborhood, so kids come from all over the city. We randomly reconnected with some friends from swim lessons. One of those wonderful coincidences where both the older and younger siblings are the same age. Good times!

I hope your summer is wrapping up well. Travels? Camps? Whatever your adventures are I hope your kids are loving it. Next week…school!

Summer Camp Fun

Hello Friends,

I hope you are enjoying your summer adventures. Some of my best summertime memories are from summer camp days. Whole days spent running around, playing games like kickball and capture the flag, art and crafting, and swimming. There were the years when Sister-Younger-Older was a camp counselor, a very cool “in” for my young, four-eyed chubby self. There were my early teen years as a “junior” counselor, keeping the younger campers organized. Our summer camp was a bike ride away from home. No overnight camp for me, but still good memories.

We first signed Sweetie up for camp sessions at Lincoln Park Zoo two summers ago. While that was fun, it was only half days because of her age. Last year we added on two weeks of St. Viator camp. The Cricket was too young last year so she was in D³ Day Camp all day, every day. But this summer everyone is old enough for some sort of camp!

Sweetie gets a full summer; two weeks at St. Viator camp, five weeks at Kilbourn Park camp (through the Chicago Park District). and three weeks at Lincoln Park Zoo! The Cricket is in a “play” camp three half-days a week for six weeks and two weeks at LPZ camp (that birthday cut-off almost got us again!).

Right now they are both fully into their Chicago Park District camps. We heard good things about the Kilbourn Park camp, and that was cool because it’s our go-to park. Cricket does claim that she doesn’t want to go pretty much every day, but it seems like every junior counselor knows her name. Given all the hugs that she gives and gets, something good is going on. They dig all the theme days and love the field trips.

Is camp part of your summer adventures? Day camp or overnight? Whichever, I hope you and your kids are making great memories this summer. Remember the sunblock and water bottles, maybe some bug spray too. We’ll see you out there.

So…I Lied

Hello Friends,

as we grow up we learn that there is very little in life that is actually black or white, and much more that is grey. What we tell our children on a daily basis often falls into that grey category. While I’m not advocating for lying to your children, nor justifying it, it happens and it can be utilitarian. Santa Clause, sleeping with wet hair, swallowing gum; these are all things parents fib about, for whatever reason. So here is my admission of a recent lie. It all started with this very natural occurrence:

What I saw was a perfectly natural situation. Nests, and eggs, fall out of trees all of the time. I think it’s one of those ways nature makes sure the Earth is not overrun by Robins. And I’m sure earthworms have a special appreciation for this occurrence. What the girls saw was a home destroyed, a family ripped apart and somewhere a small, helpless bird wandering aimlessly trying to make sense of its new “homeless orphan” status. And what was I to tell them when they asked what happened and where was the bird? How was I to answer all the questions this grounded nest raised?

I lied.

Well, maybe not bold-faced. But I facilitated Sweetie’s creation of a narrative that was much easier to deal with. After a few leading questions and some gentle redirections, Sweetie guessed that the bird had hatched from the egg and decided to fly. It leapt with such enthuusiasm and joi de vive that it knocked the nest right out of the tree.

Yep, that’s it. That’s the story and we’re sticking with it.

So why lie? In the moment, it was easier than dealing with explaining to the girls about the “circle of life”. And it’s not like we haven’t talked about life and death before (RIP Blueberry the beta fish). On that day I just didn’t feel like dealing with it. Thankfully the girls didn’t notice the ants swarming the egg. And that broke up and went away fast enough. So now we just have a cool bird’s nest in front of our place.

On a strange note, or more, a circle of life note: Just after we found this nest and I fabricated the story and formulated this post, Peter S from The Ad Dad dropped a post about his 10 month old puppy getting a terminal diagnosis from a very malignant tumor. And how he gets to explain that to his son. Crummy life lesson there. So, stories aside, if you’ve ever lost a pet and know how that feels, maybe you could pop on over to The Ad Dad and give them an encouraging comment. Like crowd-sourced emotional support, ya’know. You can tell from the pictures, Scout is a good dog.

Good-bye Construction Fence

Hello Friends,

In life, and in parenting in particular, we witness daily the changes around us. We live with nuanced changes in our growing children, plans shifting minute-to-minute, and the miriad of changes we ourselves embody. 

That is a roundabout way to say that I had a different post slated for today. My afternoon took a turn for the better so I am writing about something different. Here’s my inspiration:

You may be thinking, ” Oh wow, pictures of your house on an overcast day. Inspirational.” But can you see what’s different? No construction fence! I know, the title totally gave it away.

Obviously, I have skipped way ahead since my last construction update – couldn’t help myself. You may also be wondering, “Uh, where’s the addition?” If you look over the left side of the roof you can just see it peeking out.

Now there’s a better shot so you get the idea how the addition is set back and subtle, not looming and awkward. So progress continues at the house, with this week looking to be busy. Seeing the yard again is both liberating and a bit scary. So that was my excitement for the day – I’ll be sure to show you some more later. Here’s the alley view as a parting shot.