Posts

Showing posts from November, 2015

One Ride With A Crying Baby, And...

Image
There goes my perfect five star Uber rating.

We used a few Ubers to get around Walt Disney World earlier this month (to Disney Springs and inter-hotel transportation) and one of those drivers knocked me down from my five star perch and I think I know the trip.  The Boy was wailing away in the back seat.  The Bird was talking like crazy and there was a bit of traffic, so the trip took longer than normal.  

The Only Way To Fly

Image
This is the ONLY way to fly, amirite?  Check out The Bird all dolled up in her Princess Anna dress rocking a big pair of can headphones watching Paw Patrol on her tablet.  We were lucky it wasn't a full flight and we got to spread out a bit.  We were, however, in the very last row, so there was the constant bathroom traffic to contend with all flight.  Still...a happy and content Bird makes for a very stress-free flight.

Lemax East Lake Station At Menards Christmas Village

Image
Over the past week, the folks at our Menards in Melrose Park put up even more Lemax Christmas Village structures including this East Lake Station.  The side facing us in the photo is the 'track side' as indicated by the elevated platform in front.  There's a sign laying on the platform for the Freight Office that probably goes in the roofline somewhere, but the person setting this up either forgot or couldn't figure it out.  This building is a bit nicer than some of the other Lemax structures Menards is carrying and would look good in Mantleburg.  Alas...it wasn't meant to be.  The Mayor of Mantleburg says that the town isn't quite ready to be a railroad town.

Minnie Mouse As Mary Poppins Disney Pin

Image
Of all the Disney pins that The Babe and The Bird picked off cast member lanyards on our most recent trip, the *best* one of the bunch just has to be this Minnie Mouse as Mary Poppins beauty.  I don't remember where exactly we traded for this one, but it came on our last few days there, so it was somewhere in the Magic Kingdom or over at Disney Springs.

She'll go nicely in The Babe's collection and I think...this might be our first Mary Poppins pin ever?

Happy Thanksgiving 2015 Via The Last Waltz

Image
This post is making it 11 years that we've rung in Thanksgiving with The Band's "The Last Waltz" here on the blog.  There have been years where we've done the Turkey Trot.  Years where we've split time between my folks house in Frankfort and Nat's folks place in Naperville.  Some years where the Bears play on Thanksgiving (like tonight!).  But...one thing has remained persistent:  The Band.

Here's the post from last year.

And here's the rest of the posts that I can turn up on the topic:

Here's my post from 2013 on The Last Waltz.
Here's my post from 2012 on The Last Waltz.
Here's my post from 2011 on The Last Waltz.
Here's my post from 2010 on The Last Waltz.
Here's my post from 2007 on The Last Waltz.
Here's my post from 2005 on The Last Waltz.
Here's my post from 2004 on The Last Waltz.

Van the Man is this year's feature on "Why I Oughta".  Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.

Vintage Santa Train - Out For The First Year

Image
As I was cleaning out the garage recently, I came across a few garage sale 'treasures' that I picked up over the past year.  This Santa Train was one of them.  It has Santa on the locomotive and one car behind him attached via a small chain.  That car has another chain coming off the back of it, so I'm assuming that there was another car attached at some point, but it wasn't there when I picked this guy up.  We're not in our hold house this Christmas, so I'm not exactly sure where he'll go, but for now, he's on top of the tv console in the family room.  I'll have to keep my eyes open for the caboose - which we all know will be basically impossible to find.  I guess that's why I'm up for the challenge.

An Update to the Question About Christmas Music...

Image
Earlier this month, I posted the little project I created about listening to Christmas music.  Well...good news for *some* of you:  there's an update.  Thanksgiving week is here, so rejoice fellow Christmas music people:  You no longer have to feel shame.

Go ahead.  Play the Bing.  Feel no shame.

http://www.canilistentochristmasmusic.com/

View From My Office: First Snow of 2015

Image
This is the view I walked in to at the office this am.  You'll see that there's plenty of snow covering Maggie Daley park on the left side, but the city crews have cleaned up the bean pretty well.  Also, as a bonus, you can barely.make.out the new City of Chicago Christmas Tree in very bottom right.  See the oval-ish ice rink on the right side next to The Bean?  Just below that is a planter with the new tree stuck in the middle of it.  If you click on the photo above, it should blow up bigger and you can make it out.

Here's what this same spot looked like back on Halloween.  Much different feel, isn't it?

LED Net Cloth Light-up Tinsel Santa at Menards

Image
This morning, we hit up the local Menards to look over their Christmas stuff and I was surprised that A LOT of it was already gone.  Totally picked over.  Like...almost ALL of the inflatables were gone.  And most of the blowmolds.  I guess that's what happens when you put it out in October?

But, there were a bunch of different of these Tinsel-y cloth decorations.  This one above is a pretty cute Santa.  He's 110 bucks, though!  So, he didn't end up in our cart.  This seems to be an emerging place of compromise in the great Christmas decorations battle.  Not as crazy as a huge inflatable but a little bit of personality.  The prices on these things will likely come down in the next few years like they've done on inflatables and when it does?  We'll pounce!

Vintage Metal O-Gauge Train Tunnel

Image
A few weekends back, I packed up The Bird and The Gooz and my dad in the van and we went out to the Wheaton Fairgrounds for the Great Midwest Train Show.  This is the second time we've gone to the show (last year, I went with my dad) and it was a lot of fun.  

I picked up a few things for me, my kids and my nephew, but by far, the best purchase was this really cute vintage metal tunnel.  It was being sold by a guy who had HO scale stuff and had this over on the edge of his table.  He was asking $10 for it and I got it for $5.  Pretty great deal, if you ask me!  I think he was happy to get rid of it.  I was happy to get it!

It has some really great scenes on both sides of it.  And it is like a foot-long.

Our layout has never been 'realistic', so I think adding something like this adds a bit of whimsy and - frankly - vintage charm that I really like.
I think, tragically, we're not going to be putting up the kids' train this year because we're in Equation Boy/…

My New(ish) Disney Parks Hat

Image
Every time we've gone to the Parks, I've always worn the same thing on my head:  A Late Show hat.  Earlier this year, I upgraded to this old-school-cool original Disney World logo hat.  I've put it through it's paces a few times already, but it is now time to put it into short-term storage until we check out the place 'Walt built' when it is all dressed up for it's 60th next year.

The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year: The Duluth Trading Christmas Catalog Arrived!

Image
Well, well, well.  Look what arrived in the mail this week:  the 2015 Christmas catalog from the fine folks up at Duluth Trading.  With the King Arthur catalog already in our house, with this, I can *now* build out my full Christmas "want" list.

I mean...who isn't all over henleys and fire house pants from Santa Claus this year, amirite?!?

Halloween Tradition: Canyon Trail Cemetery In Carol Stream

Image
For the second year in a row, we packed up the kids and took them out to see what is called the "Canyon Trail Cemetery" in a neighborhood in Carol Stream a few days before Halloween.

Here's the post from our visit last year.

With The Babe and The Bird getting a bit older and more *aware* of things, they started to get a little freaked out by some of the things that jump out!   We picked up a couple of 'kids temp' hot chocolates and watched Hocus Pocus in the van on our way there.  It was a great way to lead up to the big day on Halloween.

If you don't know about the Canyon Trail Cemetery, you can check them out here on their Facebook page.  It is a really impressive display put together by a family.  All they ask is for canned food donations for the local food pantry!

Enchanted Tiki Room Print By Joey Chou

Image
Gasp!  Disney artwork has official breached the front door of our house*.  Yep...that right there is a print featuring a couple of DisNerds enjoying the show at the Enchanted Tiki Room while slurping in a Dole Whip.  Seemed too perfect of a fit for us to pass up, right?  This feels a little bit like a move that can't be 'undone'.  Where will the Disney-creep stop in the house?

From the little card on the back of the print we find out we're not alone in loving the Tiki Room along with a couple of Dole Whips.  You can find more stuff from Joey at his site here.

*I say 'our house' here, but we all know that I mean Equation Boy/Man's house where we're staying until we figure out way out!

Home Depot Christmas Village 2015

Image
The folks over at the Home Depot continue their annual tradition of releasing a dated Home Depot building for your Christmas Village.

Here's a post from 2011 that shows that year's version.  The date was in a different spot and they had Santa ringing a bell out front.

This year's edition comes with a couple of people lining the sidewalk (one with the - of course - orange apron).  They're pricing it really well at $9.98 (same price as 4 years ago!), but it isn't the best quality made building.  Nevertheless, I'm thinking that getting a building for less than 10 bucks is going to make this thing find plenty of homes in villages around the country.  Mantleburg is more of a Menard's kind of town, though.  So, we'll be without Home Depot for a while.

Jackson & Son Grocery - Lemax Christmas Village At Menards

Image
Here's another of the 2015 Lemax Christmas Village buildings at Menards:  Jackson & Son Grocery store.  Like the Snowflake Theater that I posted last week, this one leaves a little bit in terms of finish and design.  It just kinda seems sloppy and the details aren't very fine in terms of how they're presented.  Too bad, but it seems that either Menards OR Lemax has let down their standards a bit.  This Jackson & Son Grocery store won't be finding a home in Mantleburg.  What will the residents do?  Hold out for a Whole Foods?  Who knows!?!?

Village Cobbler - Lemax Christmas Village Building At Menards

Image
Here's another building from Lemax that Menard's is carrying as part of their 2015 Christmas Village set.  Unlike the Snowflake Theatre, this building wasn't displayed on the top shelf so I couldn't tell if it suffered from the same quality issues, but based on the photo on the front of the box, it appears that this is a click up - in terms of product - from some of the others this year.  It has a clear window in the front left that shows the cobbler working in it and it has a nice hanging sign that sticks out from the front above on the left side.  That's a nice touch.  This one was on sale for $31.99, so that also explains the quality improvement.  

Alas, the kids shoes in Mantleburg are going to have to continue to deteriorate because the Village Board has decided to not approve the application from the Cobbler to open up shop in Mantleburg.  Maybe another year, Mr. Cobbler.  Maybe another year.

Menards Christmas Village 2015 Version

Image
 Here's the annual photo of the kids (in this case...The King of the Ball Tossers) in front of the Menard's Christmas Village set up.  I posted last weekend a photo of one of the buildings (the Snowflake Theater) and I'll be posting more shortly.  We went to the Melrose Park store (the one that has the shopping cart escalator and piano player!).

We were there to see if there were any worthy additions to Mantleburg.  The Village Board has been picky lately as the last annexation to the Village of Mantleburg happened back in 2012 when they brought in a new Tavern.  Will 2015 be the year that the Board loosens up their requirements?

Here's a post from 2011 that shows The Bird doing the EXACT SAME THING.

Ahh...traditions at their finest, aimrite?!?!

Plass Appliance Building Coming Down?

Image
If you head down York Street, you'll now notice this massive scaffolding setup in front of (and down the alley of) the old Plass Appliance store on the west side of the street.

You can check out what the plan is for the site here on the blog.  It is a terraced-looking building that appears to have retail on the first floor and condos(??) up on the upper floors.  

The Plass building is two stories and based on the rendering this new structure is going to be three stories.  It isn't just York Street that will be impacted.  Check out what the 'alley' looks like going west towards Nu Crepes.

I posted a few days ago about the Nu Crepes sign, but after hearing all the chatter about their sign-issues, I can't help but wonder if this construction is going to make things A LOT worse for them.
But...on the good side, I'm wondering if the opening of the new parking deck will help them with foot traffic?

And, they're going to save the Plass sign, right????  Please …

Wannemaker's Christmas Open House (Santa and Reindeer!)

Image
This weekend, we went over to Wannemaker's for their annual Christmas season Open House with all three kids and Nat's folks.  This is the second year in a row we've gone and it was a totally lovely experience.  Last year, we got their early in the day and waited for a long time to get to meet Santa and pet his reindeer.

This year, we arrived pretty late.  I think it went from 10 am to 3 pm.  We arrived about 230 pm and walked right in.  They switched things up this year.  Last year, it was meet Santa...and THEN...go meet his reindeer.  This year, they put the reindeer part first.  They were allowing groups in two at a time to pet each of the reindeer.  The girls got up close and person with one of them (in the photo above).

After that, you went around to the Santa line.  There, they had some cute coloring pages for the kids set up with crayons.  Really great way to keep the kids occupied and give them something fun to do while other kids were meeting with the 'Big G…

Nu Crepes Solves Their Sign Problem?

Image
There's a BIG set of scaffolding up around the Plass Appliance building this week as it appears that it is about to turn into a giant construction site.  As part of that process, it appears that the much-maligned Nu Crepes signage issue has a solve of sorts:  They have this sandwich board sign up right on the sidewalk.  Will it last?  Who knows!

If you're trying to figure out what is going on with the Plass store, check out this post that shows the rendering of the new structure.

Marshall Field's Christmas Windows Open

Image
This morning, I stopped by the windows of the State Street Marshall Field's Macy's to check out the Christmas windows.  They're going with a space/planets theme this year and they're REALLY cute.  Above is the Venus window - which is the second from the north window.

Below is Mercury, which is the most northern window on State Street.
Here's a photo from just last week that shows the decorations going up on the buildings, but not the windows open.

Wall Calendars Turned Over To November

Image
8 days.  Not too shabby for how busy things have been around here.

On the left is the D23 Calendar celebrating the 75th anniversary of Fantasia.  And on the right is an Illini tailgate on the University of Illinois Alumni calendar.

It took eight days, too, in October.
Here's the post showing when I turned over September (18 days late!).
August was just the 10th.
July was bad. The 21st.
In June, I nailed it. Turned on June 1st.
Here's the post from May with the calendars. Took me until the 12th.
March's post - where I turned them on the 11th. February post introducing the concept. On the 17th.

Snowflake Theater - Lemax Christmas Village At Menards

Image
We stopped at Menard's over the weekend and they had their Christmas Village set up that included some newish buildings from Lemax.  This one above - the Snowflake Theater - was on sale.  We didn't buy anything for Mantleburg.  If you look closely at this building, it seems to me that the quality of Lemax buildings has gone down hill a bit this season.  The painting is sloppy and the details are kinda soft.  

There were a few other Lemax Christmas Village buildings that I'll post later that were 'better'.  It really is too bad.  This theater *could* have been really great.  In past years, they've had some mechanical, light-up structures like carousels.  They could have done a really neat light-up, animated marquee on a theater like this.  Missed opportunity, it seems.

Can I Listen to Christmas Music?

Image
Ah....the question as old as time...

When, exactly, is it appropriate to put on Christmas music?

To try to help solve the dilemma, I've put up a new project:  http://www.canilistentochristmasmusic.com/.

There, you'll discover the answer to the question:  "Can I listen to Christmas music?"  Trust me...this is *the* official answer to whether it is socially acceptable to have holiday tunes playing on any given day.
I'm working on some tweaks, so check in once in a while to make sure you're getting the right advice.

Chicago Christkindlmarket Going Up

Image
See that red and white striped awning above the top of the yellow cab?  That's the Christkindlmarket Market booths getting set up.  According to their site, they'll open for business on November 20th, so they have a few weeks to get things sorted out.

For the past few years, we've made a stop at the Market and picked up a few things and *sometimes* met up with The Big Guy for a photo.  With the opening of the sister Market at Oak Brook Mall, the appeal of the city one has dropped a bit for me.  But...I'm guessing we'll still make time for a stroll through the packed walkways between the booths and try to find a piece of Polish pottery for Noonie.

Orange Theory Fitness Coming To Elmhurst City Centre

Image
At the Elmhurst City Centre's Boo-tiful Saturday before Halloween, there were some folks giving out candy to kids and these 'coming soon' flyers to adults.  Looks like a new gym is coming to the City Centre and this one is going to be at 135 N. Addison Ave - which if you look at this LoopNet listing for space - is the new parking garage going up on Addison.  They have a site up for the Elmhurst studio here.  
The odd thing is that I've heard about a different 'high end' gym/fitness place opening up on Addison, but on the west side of the street.  Check out this proposal to the City of Elmhurst for a Fitness Formula Club which is at 138 & 142 North Addison.  That's where the city parking lot is right now (I think!).  
From the look of the proposal, it is a free-standing building and is HUGE.  Here's a screenshot of the front facade: I can't help but wonder...with places like FittRx and the newish Pilates place on York Street - not to mention the…

Marshall Field's Holiday Decorations Go Up (No Windows, Yet)

Image
The Marshall Field's Macy's on State Street has jumped on their traditional Christmas decorations with the trumpets installed on the top of the first floor windows.  It also appears that the first few windows down State Street have gone dark in preparation for their annual unveil later this month.

I posted a photo about a year ago showing the windows here on the blog.

I still get the warm-fuzzies when I think about this place and Christmas.  It played a large role in our family tradition starting from a very young age and we still make an annual visit to the Walnut Room with our kids and cousins.

Right after the Macy's transition, this place took a hit in terms of experience and quality.  But, I have to hand it to the Macy's people....they've really tried to improve the place and make it feel 'special'.  The Walnut Room at Christmastime *should* be special.  And they're doing their best to ensure it *is* special for kids like mine who make their annua…

The Halloween 2015 Tally: 346

Image
As you can see from the photo above, we ended up with 346 individuals to our door on Halloween.  That includes 9 adults, 73 'kids we know' and 264 'kids we don't know'.

That's up from last year's tally of 308 and sets the new record for Halloween.

This year: 346 total.
In 2014, we had 308 total.
In 2013, we had 326 total.
In 2012, we had 327 total.
In 2011, we had 269 total.
In 2010, we had 236 total.
In 2009, we had 184 total.

A few things to note:
1.  It rained a bit his year.  Wasn't as bad as last year when it rained the entire time we were out trick-or-treating.  But that still likely made it a bit harder to turn-out for trick-or-treating for some.   2.  However...this was a Saturday.  That's the first time trick-or-treating wasn't on a 'school night', so I'm thinking that accounted for the increased turnout. 3.  We were down the block from where we normally have been.  The '09-'14 totals were from the mid-200 block and th…

Lionel "Where The Wild Things Are" Boxcar

Image
I picked up this "Where The Wild Things Are" boxcar last week as a Christmas gift for one of my nephews.  I have a little tradition where I gift each of the boys a train car and begin to build their collection of cars starting at a very young age.  Based on my experience, there's just a handful of years to capture a boy's attention in electric trains - and even if you are successful, and you get the kids to like trains - their attention will eventually wane as they hit the teen years.  That was the story with me.  My dad tried SO HARD to get me to be into his vintage trains. I was...then I went away from them.  Now I'm back.

So...one of the traditions here is to try to find a train car that 'means's something to each of the boys.  This one, is aimed at a special guy and will hopefully appeal to him (and his parents!) and build on his collection of cars.  At some point, he's going to need a locomotive, too!

But, this car is an 'aquarium car',…