We Took a Trip – Day 1

Written by Justin posted on Mar 29, 2018 in Family, Photos, Vacation

Been awhile, no? Gettin’ back to it with our own personal tour diary. We took a trip two months ago to meet the world’s most famous mouse. It FAR exceeded my expectations in all sorts of ways.




Early start to this vacation. We were out the door and boarded on the plane by 6:00 am. Nintendo Switch proved to be a valuable flight time distraction. As did, iPads, books, word puzzles, baseball cards and coloring books.

We got our first taste of the Disney experience at the airport. Shuttles, luggage, all taken care of by Disney. No luggage carousel, pickup coordination, or rental car to fetch. All we had to do was relax. Disney lined everything up. Which after typically being the point guy to coordinate comings and goings on vacations for a family of 6, was a nice break.

Any weather was going to beat Chicago in January. Mid 60’s felt like pure bliss. This is of the whole gang, fresh off the bus, and getting set for our accommodations at Old Key West.

The resort had some Hemingway memorabilia and a Florida Keys vibe. I’ve never been, so I can’t confirm.

There is a launch and boat taxi that takes you to various Disney stops. We had to take advantage, so we hitched a ride to Disney Springs in search of some eats.

The stomach rumblings taking over, we stopped at the first place that could accommodate our Quick Service Meal Plan – Blaze Pizza. Every vacation should start with pizza, right?

We took the boat back after some shopping. The kids were begging to get in some swimming. 60 degrees or not, these kids were going.

We finished off Day 1 by taking a shuttle to the Magic Kingdom to get on the monorail to the Polynesian Resort. We dined at Ohana, which specializes in family style eats and Brazilian steakhouse style service. It was taaaasty. A good first choice for night one. I think we had this pegged as a “character” dinner, but there were none. Never the less, the kids started the souvenir purchasing. Which despite the constant nagging to checkout storefronts, was adorable looking back.

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Milestones – Then and Now

Written by Justin posted on Sep 22, 2017 in Kayce

When the kids were younger, it was all about the milestones – smiling, crawling, walking, talking, preschool. Those first couple of steps they take on their own will always be my all time favorite. This past Saturday I got to play part in another milestone.

Kayce and I got treated to a Cubs game. Fantastic seats and an even better game (Cubs won 4-1). If you have been to a Cubs game, you know it’s a mass exodus to get out of the stadium. Making our way out on the concourse, I reached back to hold Kayce’s hand – he pulled away. For the last ten years I have held my kids hands. Crowds, parking lots, airports, it’s basically muscle memory at this point.

I glanced back at him, started to shoot a look of sadness and disappointment. He might have seen it. Upon that glance, I realized quickly his motives were not driven by attitude or embarrassment. This was a milestone. He did not have to say it verbally, but his action sold me. Dad, I got this. I can keep up with you, and if we get separated, I will be ok. Trust me.

My first born has taken another important step towards independence. Which is what these milestones have been all along, right?



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The Summer of Short Trips

Written by Justin posted on Aug 23, 2016 in Conor, Dakota, Devin, Kayce, Photos, Summer

We did not hitch up the wagon and head west this summer. No sailing the seven seas either. We did make an effort though to jam as many adventures in as we could.

First stop was Willis Tower. Dad & elder two conquered this one. Lived in/around Chicago nearly my whole life, and this is a monument I had never visited.

Union Station - Grand Hall
Finished it up with some Blaze. These two were in heaven.

All those stairs made us hungry for some Blaze.


Next stop was a summer lake house near the Indiana Dunes.


Barth Pond is a quaint spot just a few blocks away from home. We hit it up for a picnic and some fishing.


Next on to Pittsburgh to visit a new ballpark and watch our beloved Cubs


Dawn and I belatedly celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary with a trip to Galena, IL.

We skipped town and #1 and his team secured the DG A Ball championship!

We skipped town and #1 and his team secured the DG A Ball championship!

First trip to Maggie Daley Park and the surrounding Millennium Park amenities

We also visited Lake Townsend, WI. Where we got to spend some quality time with family at a lake house as well. Much fishing, tubing, boating was done. Somewhere in this mess, we also went camping with some excellent friends.

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Feed Their Curiosity

Written by Justin posted on Jul 21, 2016 in Dad

I’ve got a handful of posts rumbling around in my brain. Going to post them in reverse chronological order.

This past weekend, the Mrs. and I got back from a short getaway trip to Galena, IL. Beautiful mid-sized town with rolling hills and a historic foundation. We shopped the main street dragstrip. Mostly buying stuff we didn’t need, but would enjoy nevertheless. Part of those purchases were some designer soaps. Modestly priced. Great smell. Cool packaging. You know the type.

When we got home from the trip, Dawn had to immediately scatter off to work. So, I found myself back to reality in quick fashion. 4 kids (thankfully) pining for Dad’s attention after a short break. Unpacking. A mountain of housework which I have grossly been putting off. In the midst of my reality check, Conor started to inquire about the soaps. “What is this?”. “Smells good. Looks cool. Can I open it?”. I was not rude, but I quickly brushed him off:

  • Why would he care about soaps?
  • Pay more attention to the fun gift we brought back for you.
  • Dad’s busy and has stuff to do that is more important.

Those types of thoughts.

And he moved on. Didn’t push it or seem to affect him much. For me though, it’s a different story. Not until later did I realize what I had done. Completely shunned and disregarded his curiosity for something he wanted to know more about. Something stupid and small, and would have taken me an extra minute or two to crack open and talk about with him. Reward his curiosity.

The last thing in the world I want is for my kids to stop questioning. Stop wondering what’s behind the curtain. It’s important to me and to them. Sometimes I forget that, but I’m thankful for reminders like this. Spurred by just a couple of bars a soap.

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This Age In Boys

Written by Justin posted on Feb 5, 2016 in Kayce, Photos

I remember taking this photo. It was nearly 9 years ago. Kayce was only a handful of weeks old. The Bears were getting set to take on the Colts in Super Bowl XLI.

Up until a few months ago, the amount of football this kid watched after this day was very minimal. It never kept his attention. Save for the occasional Bulls or Blackhawks game, most sports viewing did not spark legitimate interest. Maybe he tried to appease me, but that was the extent.

Something changed though. It was around August or September. Maybe it was chemical, I don’t know. Just as the Cubs started to surge, so did Kayce’s interest in watching baseball. As the playoff race heated up, he was smitten. Consuming all data about standings, statistics, players, teams, everything and anything. Selfishly, I was giddy. I had someone to talk sports with. “Is Fowler batting 1st tonight, Dad?”. “What happens if the Cubs & Pirates finish with the same record?”. I was witnessing something very profound and genuine. It’s hard to quantify. It’s the affection and concern for something outside of oneself. To recognize the outside world and take real interest in something it has to offer. Be it sport, art, music, politics, food, whatever. Kayce found it.

IT snowballed. I thought things had reached a fever pitch when The Cubs exited the postseason. Foolish me. Football took over with a vengeance. More particularly, the Denver Broncos. Maybe you have heard of their backup QB, Brock Osweiler, he’s Kayce’s favorite player. Don’t ask me why. He has become quite synonymous with the Broncos around his friends and school. Santa even questioned why he had such an affinity for a team nearly a thousand miles away. “Because my Dad was born in Denver”. I swear I didn’t put him up to that.

So with Super Bowl 50 happening this weekend, 3 of the Grimm boys will be running around happily oblivious to the game. But you know just where Kayce will be.

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