Dear Jack: Your Ghost Tour Field Trip in Downtown Franklin, Tennessee near Mellow Mushroom

7 years, 11 months.

Dear Jack,

Yesterday was quite an adventure for you. As part of your school’s enrichment program this week for fall break, you got to go on a “ghost tour” with your friends.

A tour guide hopped on your school bus in the nearby town of Franklin, and told everyone ghost stories that apparently took place in those old buildings downtown; near Mellow Mushroom, actually.

Needless to say, last night’s dinner conversations were monopolized by you amazingly recalling every detail of each ghost story you heard.

Ghost soldiers from The Civil war in the basement of the old bank.

Ghost dogs in the yard.

Ghost owls in the barn.

So while I did feel kind of bad about you having to be at school when school was actually out for fall break, I quickly realized that going on a ghost tour was probably more fun than staying home would have been anyway.

Just watch out for those ghost cows at night, mooing in the field behind our house.

 

Love,

Daddy

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Dear Holly: The Purple Popsicle Incident

2 years, 5 months.

Dear Holly,

Last night during dinner, you willingly ate all of the food Mommy had put on your plate, but you also made it clear throughout dinner that you had an agenda.

I heard you keep optimistically muttering, “I get purple Popsicle…”

This is an idea you crafted on your own. No one had even been talking about the frozen grape juice treats in the freezer.

But I suppose you had caught a glimpse of them at some point while Mommy was making dinner.

After finishing all the food on your plate, without saying a word, you just hopped out of your chair, ran over to the freezer, and brought me the Popsicle to unwrap for you.

No words were needed.

You know me. You know how to negotiate.

It was fair deal: Eat all your dinner, then just correctly assume I’ll let you have a Popsicle without any fuss.

You finished about half of your treat before you had your fill. Not to mention, you got a little concerned with you looked down and announced, “Oh no! Boo boo!”

I then explained that it was just part of the Popsicle that had dripped down on your leg.

You had become a purple mess.

Love,

Daddy

Where I Ended Up Exactly One Year After Losing My Job: 6 Months In at a Fortune 500 Company, With a 62% Pay Increase

Today makes exactly one year since I lost my job in HR and Recruiting in the transportation industry, after working at the same place for over 11 years. The company essentially shut down an entire branch all at once, meaning that dozens of us left the office for the final time that day, with a 2 weeks’ severance pay on the way out.

For the next 6 months, I proudly adopted the title of “Stay at Home Dad”, as our daughter was only a year and a half. During that amount of time (and as I still continue to do now), I made a side income from managing my 2 YouTube channels along with this blog, as well as working as a contracted SEO Specialist for Vanderbilt University’s Biostatistics Department.

I also applied for 107 jobs, updated my LinkedIn, and prayed to God that I would find favor with the right people.

One of those jobs was for a Fortune 500 Company; right across the interstate from where I had worked all those years.

It’s funny because I had always dreamed of one day, being able to work in one of those half dozen identical 6 story buildings; not even knowing which employers were actually in them.

Exactly 6 months after losing my job, I received a call from that Fortune 500 company. I went in for the interview the day before my 37th birthday.

I didn’t realize what a big deal it was that I had more than a decade of recruiting experience specifically in the trucking industry and that I had even voluntarily took a course in HR a few years back; specializing in Emotional Intelligence.

But the manager did. And I was offered the job on the spot.

That was 6 months ago.

Since then, I have thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of applying everything I have learned over the years, here at my new job.

It’s pretty rewarding to think: There are a lot of things I’m not good at- but somehow, I am totally wired to be a recruiter; to handle the hiring side of HR.

I have a talent for managing chaos; which is ultimately what recruiting is, especially in the transportation industry. I am well qualified for a job that is well in demand these days.

Finally after all these years, I can feel that my English degree and my more than a decade of recruiting and retention experience has paid off… literally:

In a year’s time, I now make 62% more than I did at my old job, where I was actually in a management role.

Granted, my wife and I are Dave Ramsey followers. So we’re simply carrying over all our extra income into paying off the principal on our home mortgage, as well as savings.

And yes, that’s still the same old paid off 2004 Honda Element there in the picture behind me. (I’ve owned it since January 2006.)

Even though I could buy, in cash, the Jeep Wrangler that I have wanted all these years, it’s more important to me to manage this extra income wisely.

After joining the work force with thousands in student loans and getting married a few years later in 2008, during the recession, and learning to live off a lot less for so many years, it’s hard to imagine living any other way at this point.

So yeah… it’s been an interesting year for me.

Kids’ Christmas 2018 Wish List: Calico Critters Town Grand Department Store Gift Set, Plus Designer Studio

If you’re currently looking for a very special gift for a child this upcoming Christmas season, take a look at the Calico Critters Town Grand Department Store Gift Set.

The folks at Calico Critters sent my family one, along with the Designer Studio.

I made an unboxing video, which you can watch above, as I show the set in action.

The Grand Department Store Gift Set consists of an elevator, a revolving door, a Chocolate Lounge, a Boutique Fashion Set, a Fashion Showcase Set, and a Cosmetic Beauty Set.

I need to note, though, these toys contain small parts; which are not intended for use by children under the age of 3. So adult supervision is required for children that young.

The Grand Department Store Gift Set is designed as a base for other attachable sets, to further build your town square. We have the Designer Studio, for example.

There is also the Creamy Gelato Shop, the Delicious Restaurant, and the Ride Along Train.

My guess is by now, you are already familiar Calico Critters, and have at least half a dozen of the characters in your children’s playroom.

That definitely is the case at our house.

The Grand Department Store Gift Set will help bring all of your existing Calico Critters to life in an exciting new meeting place.

Hopefully you’ve watched my video at this point. Now, it’s time to click on this click to be magically transported to Amazon, where you can find this gift set for a great price, and even rack up some points well you’re at it.

And here’s a link specifically for the Designer Studio, as well.

The Calico Critters Town Grand Department Store Gift Set just might be that perfect special big gift that you’re looking for, as you are currently planning which gifts to buy your children for the 2018 Christmas season.

Thank you for visiting my blog today!

Dear Jack: Nothing Like Taking Home a Big Jug of Live Bugs

7 years, 10 months.

Dear Jack,

Last Saturday morning, you took a walk with Papa around the yard, collecting bugs and placing them in a huge plastic jug. You also tossed some leaves and grass in there as well.

You loved getting to see a spider, a hornet, and a cricket interact with each other in your portable bio-dome; along with a few other random, smaller bugs.

During the entire 3 hour-long ride back from Nonna and Papa’s house in Alabama to our house in Tennessee, you gave me a constant play-by-play of what the status was inside the jar:

“Daddy! The cricket just fell off a leaf and landed on top of the spider but then he jumped off the spider onto another leaf!”

Maybe you should carry along a jar of live bugs for every road trip from now on. It was pure entertainment for you.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: You Want Everything for “My Christmas”

2 years, 5 months.

Dear Holly,

Last weekend while we stayed at Nonna and Papa’s house, I noticed you debuted a new catchphrase: “I want it for my Christmas.”

After you saw a coloring book that had a picture of Daisy Duck on it, then you immediately announced, “I, I want Daisy for my Christmas.”

When you played with the Cozy Coupe, it was, “I, I want this car for my Christmas.”

And even with each newly discovered vintage stuffed animal you found at their house, “I, I want this one for my Christmas… for my Christmas.”

Your brother tried to explain to you, “Holly, you don’t have to wait for Christmas. Nonna will just give you that old thing right now. Go ask her and she will say yes.”

But right now, you want everything for your Christmas.

 

Love,

Daddy

Toys for Nine-Year-Olds: Buying Tips When Searching for the Perfect Gift

Gifts for nine-years-olds are more than just objects to them because they’re slowly evolving into mature young individuals. While they can still be interested in toys, children at this age begin to explore different interests. It would be great if they could master some skills using their toys. Thus, you should take gift shopping for them seriously.

If you’ve been trying to think about the perfect gift for a nine-year-old child, here are the buying tips you should consider.

  1. Development – Nine-year-old children have a natural curiosity about the things that are happening around them. As they begin to age, their attitude, emotions, and even hobbies also change. Therefore, when buying gifts for them, think about their interests. Kids at this age also become more interested in the arts, sports, sciences, and other areas of learning. So, you better consider their stages of development when searching for the best gift for them.

 

  1. Usefulness – When you give a gift to a nine-year-old child, be sure this is something that he can use over and over again. The gift shouldn’t be good for one-time use only. Instead, select a gift with a real purpose. If your goal is to spark their imagination, buy something that they can learn how to build while they’re playing. Also, avoid giving gifts that will only be placed in the corner, such as decors.

 

  1. Profile – Gifts for children aren’t tough to find. However, the problem comes in if you buy a gift for someone you don’t know. For instance, if you want to buy a birthday present for your nine-year-old godchild, you should make the real effort to get to know him/her better. By doing your research, you may discover something special about the child that will help you in your buying decisions.

 

  1. Good Quality – Aside from being useful, your gift should also be of good quality. Nine-year-old children value their toys seriously because, for them, it’s more than just an object that they can play with. If your gift is something that is used often, it should last for a long time. Take note, a child who receives a gift with nice quality will appreciate the effort and thought you put into buying it.

 

  1. Element of Surprise – Nothing is more exciting than receiving a surprise gift. Children at the age of nine appreciate gifts that offer an element of surprise. It means you put a lot of thought into buying a gift that will make them happy. Also, surprises create good memories that children may never forget.

 

  1. Experience – Children, because they’re young, love experiencing new things. It’s best to buy a gift that gives experience. Search for unique gift ideas for children. Create a list of all the things that kid is interested in and come up with the gift ideas that are aligned with their interests. For example, if your child loves music and acting, then you can buy him/her a ticket to a musical. A trip to a museum for your history-loving kid or a temporary hair color for your little fashionista are some examples.

 

  1. Creativity – Kids are imaginative. They can get the most out of your gift when you give them a toy that encourages their creativity. Craft materials, journals and notebooks, construction toys, and nonfiction books for learning are excellent options.

Final Thoughts

Consider these buying tips when searching for the best toys for nine-year-olds. With the kind of energy and imagination they have, you should find something creative, exciting, and useful. Since they are at a crucial stage of development, the kind of toy gifts you give can mold them as better individuals. Give them gifts that they can cherish all throughout their childhood.