Slow Down * Enjoy Life Rotating Header Image

Fall Updates …

When nearly 3 months pass and I haven’t posted anything … ugh

A July & August at the Lake … sunflowers, wakeboarding, fishing (or lack thereof) + grandpa went fishing, friends, & family, no blue bird eggs, gnats, sunsets, biking, a broken trailer …

Sports … softball, dance (and then no dance), soccer, taekwondo, and now ice hockey

Starting High School & Junior High

Our garden … mostly a success

Caterpillars and Butterflies

70th Birthday


@ the Lake … the Felten’s & Price’s (so nice to see each other and for the kids to hang out), the Hancock’s, Pantojas’ and Banach’s (finally) and although we didn’t overlap much we did find a way for everyone to see each other for part of a day (and again the kids getting to hang out with each other … awesome), we finally got one Kielczynski out there plus Christian, the Duarte boys too and then the Cook family @ the end of the summer.  We went to a sunflower farm which was super cool.  Went bike riding on the Jane Addams for a second year and as is now potentially tradition got some ice cream at Union Dairy on the way home (we thankfully didn’t kill the car battery this year, but the Pantojas’ did ride with a flat trailer tire making for a slightly more difficult bike trip).  Some of the kids tried out wake boarding.  Some succeeded, some didn’t.  In mid July the fish just stopped biting.  It was a total bummer.  We went from catching a dozen in an hour to maybe one or two.  I even got Grandpa out on the boat, twice, but he didn’t catch anything.  Darn.  I on the other hand caught 3 one day with him, even a big bass trolling back to the marina.  The axle on the trailer broke mid summer, just as the depth/fish finder arrived and began working.  Thankfully our talented Grandpa came to the rescue, found a replacement part, drove out to the lake and replaced it in the matter of one day.  That was pretty awesome!  We didn’t see a ton of the Karam’s this summer because we weren’t on the same schedule but we still got to enjoy a number of days at their lakefront.  When the Pantojas, Banack & Hancock crew were all together, since there were 18 of us, the Karam’s were kind enough to let us use their lakefront and we all enjoyed the day there.  Back at our house, our blue bird homes ended up housing wrens instead of blue birds but I suppose that’s perfectly fine 🙂  We discovered that the large vine going up one of the trees is a massive poison oak vine.  It’s seriously huge…not sure what we’ll end up doing with that thing.  I bought a new firepit, with wheels, and while the first fire was burning it rolled down the driveway, tipped over, and the fire fell out … fail 🙁 The driveway has some issues.  It’s our project for 2021 I suppose.  Every year there’s something.  But it’s sinking / cracking pretty bad in a few locations so we’re on the list to get those things fixed.  What else … oh, on labor day weekend with like 30 minutes until sunset I dragged the family back to the boat.  We barely made it to sunset but we did.  The gnats were swarming, so much so that the picture I took of grandma & grandpa was really good with the sunset behind them, just that 100’s of gnat happened to be swarming in front of them.   The last day we were there on Labor Day I pulled the boat out, parked it in the driveway and cleaned it up … it probably won’t go back in the lake this year 🙁  but I think the kids really enjoyed the upgrade (I don’t plan on buying another one any time soon).

Our garden … it was a pretty solid success this year.  Maybe 50-60 cucumbers.  100’s of cherry tomatoes.  A few sunflowers.  Green beans (I need to grow more next year).  Broccoli & brussel sprouts were failures.  Jalapeno’s, habanero’s, green peppers, various other tomatoes, mint, basil, a ton of dill, romaine lettuce, and some green onions also grew this year.  That’s a lot.  Maybe no brussel sprouts or broccoli next year.  Maybe more onions, some cilantro, definitely more green beans, maybe some sugar snap peas too.  The cucumbers though were such a success.  After a failure last summer it was nice to have so many again.

E made a local travel softball team, partly as a picture as well as an outfielder.  The experience is great.  I think it will really be beneficial come HS tryouts.  She’s got games each weekend plus one practice, then some softball at school as well as weekly lessons.  With homework mixed in.  An active social life.  Some babysitting too.  She’s super busy.  We tried to include dance in there but it just didn’t work, simply not enough time.  But she is still playing piano.  I asked that she do it until the end of Sophomore year and then she can decide what to do after that.

He’s playing soccer, doing taekwondo once or twice a week and recently picked up ice hockey.  He’s in a weekly youth group.  Playing piano.  In boy scouts, and playing the Euphonium too.  All that plus practices, games, homework and some time playing with friends … he’s crazy busy too.

This year we took 12 swallowtail caterpillars inside with a ton of dill and released 11 butterflies.  I don’t know if I thought it was cooler or the kids did, probably me …

And grandpa turned 70 this year 🙂

Hopefully that’s most everything for now …

Camp Owasippe

This week he’s away at boy scout camp for the first time. Camp Owasippe.  The same exact camp I went to when I was his age.

It’s not his first week away.  Except for last year he spent a week at Loras the previous 2 years.

The first year he was away he was only 9 yrs old 😐

I’m not sure why but for whatever reason this week away seems different.

It feels like I miss him more than I would have expected.  It just feels weird.

Maybe it’s because it’s the same camp I went to and all sorts of memories are coming back to me.

I remember the time sleeping in a old WWII canvas tent with mosquito netting.  We needed every edge of the netting closed otherwise more than one mosquito would be buzzing in our ears at night.

Maybe it’s the canoe races.  Or the sailing.  I don’t remember a whole lot more, however.  I do know that I ended up with stitches one year because I decided to run past a fallen tree which caught.  Funny though that today my parents don’t even remember this happening.  I have the scare to prove it, however.

Well, whatever reason it is I do miss him.  Crazy.  Fortunately they’re sending some nightly photos of the kids.  I can’t tell whether or not he’s having a good time.  It’s for sure been hot out these past couple of days.  But I’d really just love to get on a call with him and hear about his day.  I guess I have to wait until the end of the week for that …

In the meantime I was able to spend some extra time with her today.

I took her and a friend to a store on the north side then we grabbed a to-go lunch at a old dining spot in Lincoln Park followed by a visit to the WNDR museum.  We don’t often do things just the two of us.  Despite her having a friend with it was still nice to spend time with her.

Recent milestones

This past week was busy

She finished 8th grade and is on to H.S.  He’s done with 6th and on to Jr. High

I suppose I think of it as more of a milestone rather than an accomplishment though.  I’m super proud of her as always, him too, but making it through 8th grade is sort of a given.  Graduating H.S. is going to happen too, eventually, but graduating H.S. with straight A’s or getting into the school of their choice, those are accomplishments.  I’m certainly not trying to downplay this week because these are important events 🙂

He’s had a really good few days of baseball too.  I might be more excited about that than the end of school.  He caught the game ending line drive Wednesday and then today caught another pop fly in the 6th for the first out and then tossed a grounder to 1st to end the game.  IMO he should always be in the infield, but I’m not the coach 😐  Plus he’s getting hits too!

Wednesday I organized an EOY class party where we had a water balloon fight, made tie dye t-shirts (where he and I ironed on PJHS and the kids names over the weekend) and played some kickball.  Thursday they had their EOY 6th grade breakfast, although modified, where they watched the 30+ minute slideshow I created.  In the afternoon he and his whole 6th grade class celebrated with a party at the park where we went through maybe 1500 water balloons in mere minutes.  And then Thursday night she graduated 🙂  It was a short but a very memorable event.

After a covid-modified year it was nice to end things with days like these.

Thursday night she had a sleepover with friends.  They decided to go for a late night walk and lets just say they experienced a start to the summer they never imagined.  Let’s just hope they learned a little lesson because of it.

We received lots of messages for her graduation but one message in particular sort of irks me, I suppose that’s the right word. “You have exceeded everyone’s expectations”.  The rest of the message is nice and complementary, but this part raises my eyebrows.  Who is “everyone” and what sort of expectations are they referring to?  It sort of comes off rude, to me anyways.  I’m not trying to lesson the other things that were said but I probably could have gone without that sentence.  Maybe that’s another reason why texting anything where emotion can’t be easily expressed should simply not be sent.

Well I digress …

It’s hardly rained in the past few months.  Temps are in the 80’s / 90’s to start June.  Our schedule is super busy in the weeks to come.  I’m still trying to figure out my next regular employment opportunity (ever since I dropped my primary client recently for numerous things I choose not to mention here).  When do we get to go to the lake.  When will my boat finder website become a real thing?  What are all the things we’ll do this summer?

Well, it’s midnight so maybe I’ll try to go to bed?


some little things

captain fantastic, an odd but strangely moving movie I got sucked into tonight

while inappropriate at times I question whether or not it’s something the kids should watch

in time I suppose

but what emotions will it raise in them?

for me, well certainly not to the extremes of the father in the movie, I can relate

raising them as I see fit, challenges around every corner, friction with some who think they know best …

and so I decided to write

i wish I could capture every moment

to write it down on a piece of paper, stick it in a bottle, in hopes of finding and reliving the moment at a distant point in time

today we went to pick up a new bike for her

we ordered it online but I could tell she wasn’t impressed when she saw it in person

she can be shy at times, who knew, and didn’t want to explain that to the salesperson

we ended up returning it and ordering a new, more expensive one 😐

with 15 minutes before soccer practice I remind him to get his stuff ready

he points to a bunch of things and says he’s good to go

on his way out I suggest a hoodie

he ran back in, apparently couldn’t find one, and let without

he was frozen at practice

i tried

each day is like that

all these little things, most of which we will end up forgetting

like her up in her room today singing away to songs of the 80’s

and him calling me in the morning telling me his lungs are too weak to play the band recording I’ve reminded him over and over to do

Winter 2021 Covid Edition

Birthdays were a little different this year.


A few family members visited. Others sent gifts via Amazon.  Still, some we didn’t see at Christmas time and still haven’t seen since.

I think everyone here has concerns.  It would certainly help if temperatures weren’t freezing and we could do something outside.

We do our best to stay healthy but especially since some family already had covid, an older family member actually died, others are exposed often due to where they work, and social distancing with certain families is limited, we have kept our distance.

The kids have small groups of friends but it still isn’t like times should be.

They are missing out on normal activities some of which may be more obvious to me while some more so to them.

8th grade graduation will be different.  6th grade end of year activities too.  Although I’m hopeful that by May things will be so near normal that they will be able to experience most of these things.

School is half day in, half day at home.  PE, Art, Music, things like those are not the same.  The basics like Math & Science though are the in school classes.

There’s a lot of push lately by a large majority of the parents but there’s a minority that is not in support of going back to school.

I’m sure the logistics of getting back into class won’t be easy.

I’d like the kids to be back full day but I don’t want them to be more stressed.  How will activities like lunch work out?  What if a group gets sick?  What if we get sick because of that?

Nevertheless we continue as best we can …

She’s taking weekly softball lessons and he and I practice baseball.  Dance for her is of less interest.  Summer camp at Loras is on the calendar.  She’s signed up for a spring softball season.  He’s scheduled for baseball and softball.  We’re missing out on floor hockey, big bummer.

We just picked High School classes and signed up for high school summer school … YIKES!  Four more short years and we’ll be planning for graduation.

It has snowed so much recently.  Some of the most I’ve seen locally in my lifetime.  I remember 2011 though, we had a lot then too.  But this is different.  12″ a couple weeks ago and at least another 12″ on top of that this past weekend.  There’s a ton out there.  It’s crazy though, we haven’t went sleddingt ice fishing, shot a pistol & shotgun, went snowshoeing and played some pond hockey.  He enjoyed it a ton, she, well, not as much.  But it was a fun weekend of new experiences.

That’s about it for now I think 🙂