Dear Jack: The Dr. Suess Playhouse You Built with Your Cousin

6 years, 8 months.

Dear Jack,

It’s funny to see what happens when you let two almost 1st grader cousins entertain themselves at Nonna and Papa’s house. All it took was a few stuffed animals, a Cozy Coupe, a play tunnel, and the furniture in the living room.

The next thing I knew, you both had built a Dr. Suess style playhouse!

Apparently, the entry way was a slide that was prompted up on the couch. Once you tested out that out several times, you built the cabin space, thanks to the recliner couch and your favorite blanket.

Once that was complete, you and your cousin enjoyed the fruits of your labor by secretly sharing some snacks and toys underneath the blanket ceiling.

During the course of the weekend, there were several modifications; one including the giant D.A.R.E. bear at the end of the tunnel. I’m not really sure what purpose he served, but there was no need for me to question it. As long as it made sense to the two of you, it made sense to me!

Clearly, your Dr. Suess style playhouse is the modern twist on the classic children’s fort.

I’m sure in your mind, the playhouse was huge. When you’re young, things seem much bigger than they are; especially when imagination is heavy in the mix.

You literally spent hours building, rebuilding, and playing in it. And my favorite part about was, no one had to tell the two of you to go imagination and figure out something fun to do.

It just happened.

Obviously, you both were able to make something exciting out of something ordinary. That skill will get you far in the life.

I have a feeling that the next time you visit, the next playhouse will be even more extravagant… and bizarre!

Love,

Daddy

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A Step-By-Step Guide To Moving With Kids And Pets (By Guest Blogger, University Moving and Storage)

No matter how you look at it, moving can be stressful — especially when you add kids and pets into the equation. Changing routines, packing everything you own and uprooting your household is a surefire recipe for stress regardless of who you are.

When you can’t understand why everything is in disorder, it’s even more difficult to cope. So when you’re moving with pets and kids, what can you do to ease the tension for the ones you love? To help answer that question, see the following tips and accompanying step-by-step guide to improving the way you move with children and pets.

Preparation

The more you can prepare your household for a move, the better they’ll be able to handle it. Take advantage of the time you have prior to your move to help everyone efficiently cope. Two key ways to prepare:

· Practice traveling

· Talk about the move

With your kids especially, have conversations about what’s coming for the family. Make the idea of moving a journey, and get them involved in the prep work. Maybe you let them choose decorations for their new rooms, or drive them around the new neighborhood. Help them visualize what’s coming, as much as possible. Equally, if you know you’ll be spending a lot of time in the car during a long-distance move, get your family used to the idea. Practice with a few shorter trips to adapt everyone to what moving will involve.

Make Plans for Moving Day

Expect moving day to be frenzied, and do everything you can to ease that stress. Can you have friends watch your pets? Can you hire a sitter for the kids? Maybe you can keep your pet in an extra room or the backyard of your new home? If someone is keeping is your children and/or pets entertained while you’re unpacking, it’s possible to relieve a lot of stress associated with the move.

Post-Move Tips

Returning your pets and kids to their routines as soon as possible is a good way to help in the first days after a move. Set up food dishes and get your pet on a regular eating schedule. Give your kids their preferred toys as soon as you unpack. If there are certain things you regularly do as a family — such as taco Tuesdays or weekend movies — try to apply them when you’re transitioning. Getting back to routine provides comfort and security to little ones in the midst of change.

Check out the below infographic from University Moving and Storage for more information.


A Step-By-Step Guide To Moving With Kids And Pets created by moving company University Moving and Storage

 

15 Tools Every Homeowner Should Own Guide (By Guest Blogger, Mike Knapczyk of Chicago Metro Home Inspections)

There’s nothing more satisfying than solving a problem on your own, especially when it comes to repairs around the house. Doing it yourself not only provides you with a sense of accomplishment and builds your self-esteem, but it also can help you save a lot of money compared to hiring a contractor — so you can focus on other important financial matters for your family. However, it takes more than the willingness to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty to be a true do-it-yourselfer. You also have to make sure you have the right tools for the job.

Although some household repair projects may require specialized tools, many of the most common household DIY projects can be accomplished with a set of basic tools. That’s why it’s in the best interests of any homeowner to keep a rudimentary toolbox around the house to handle any projects that might pop up. There are 15 tools that every homeowner should have on hand in case of emergency. Some are obvious, but others might be ones that homeowners wouldn’t know they would need until they actually need them.

For example, it’s common knowledge that you need a hammer for driving nails, screwdrivers for driving screws, and a set of combination wrenches and adjustable wrenches for handling nuts and bolts. Not everyone would think of a torpedo level as a necessary tool, but it’s essential for ensuring a shelf or picture is hung on the wall correctly. Slip-joint pliers are useful for gripping worn-down bolts or other hard-to-hold objects. Caulking guns are indispensable for sealing cracks and joints, and duct tape will help hold objects together until you can find a permanent solution. Wire cutters will come in handy if you need to do any minor electrical work around the house; while a hacksaw can handle cutting through copper pipes for a plumbing project. No matter what type of project you’re taking on, safety goggles and a respirator or breathing mask will help protect you. Finally, a flashlight is a crucial item to keep in any toolbox because most household problems happen in the dark.

Review the following list of 15 tools every homeowner should have and make sure your toolbox is ready for the next DIY project in your house.

Author bio: Mike Knapczyk is Owner and Operator of Chicago Metro Home Inspections, and provides home inspection services to the Chicagoland and Cook County areas. Knapczyk is involved in every aspect of the business and has much experience in the home inspection industry.

15 Tools Every Homeowner Should Own Guide from Chicago Metro Home Inspections

Our Back Porch and Back Yard are Like 2 More Rooms of Our House in the Summer (Featuring American Plastic Toys)

This makes the 3rd summer we’ve spent in our house since it was built, yet it’s the 1st summer we’ve really made an effort as a family to utilize those 2 forsaken “rooms” of our house: the back porch and the back yard.

It’s becoming the norm these days that, as a family, we end up hanging out there under the blue sky, with the soybean field in sight right over the fence. My one year-old daughter loves it when I take her out there just to watch the robins fly by. She points to the sky, “Wuh? Wuh?”

I then confirm, “Yes, birds. Birds.”

While we were on vacation in Florida last week, American Plastic Toys sent our family some samples of their outdoor sports equipment for kids. (And yes, these products are actually made in America.)

So this past Saturday morning, we finally were able to break out the new outdoor sports toys and have some fun.

We made our way out onto the lawn so my son could hit some home runs. I forget how big our lawn actually is, but playing baseball helped put our “field” to use.

Our back porch transformed into a golf course, as our son wanted to refine his skills for the next time we visit a putt-putt place. Eventually, our golf game transitioned in to a hockey match, as our son is quite aware of the Nashville Predators. Before he was ready to move on, though, he also engaged me in a sword fight, using the golf clubs.

Summer is on its way. I want make sure we make good use of the great outdoors, especially when they are literally right outside the back door.

As for my daughter, she’s happy just to watch her big brother play, as she uses our back porch as a training facility for learning to walk.

Dear Holly: Today is Your Due Date and Mommy Can’t Stop Nesting

40 weeks (due date).

Dear Holly: Today is Your Due Date and Mommy Can’t Stop Nesting

Dear Holly,

The day is still young, but I’m writing this letter to you now, the morning of your due date. You may or may not be born today. Meanwhile, you have many family members and our friends anxiously awaiting your arrival.

With Grandma in town, and Mommy beginning maternity leave this week, I couldn’t help but notice Mommy is so “nesting” right now.

I helped Mommy move the furniture around in the living room, for a new design that will better cater to your arrival; plus still provide plenty of play room for Jack. We decided we actually like our new layout better than how we had it before.

When I got home from work yesterday, Mommy showed me the really cool retro clock (and accompanying sign) she bought to fill the wall space since we changed the furniture. It really fits the space well. Plus, she bought a blanket to decorate the back of the couch.

Dear Holly: Today is Your Due Date and Mommy Can’t Stop Nesting

She also bought some perfect décor for outside in our yard, to further invite birds; since they have been hanging out without us even trying.

So we might as well make it official that we want birds, and bunnies, there in our yard.

Dear Holly: I Want Mommy to Go into Labor Tomorrow Night

Not to mention, this weekend Mommy and I cleaned out our cars and officially installed your car seats, right next to Jack’s; while I played Bob Marley’s greatest hits on my old cracked iPod from 2007. Meanwhile, your brother Jack played in the garage with his toys. It’s weird because we rarely hang out as a family in front of our house.

I realize there’s no way to fully prepare for a new baby, but I feel we’ve done the most we can on our end.

For months now we have been preparing our home for you, which is your home as well.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Mommy’s Now in Her 3rd Trimester/We’ve Been in our New House a Year

Dear Holly: Mommy’s Now in Her 3rd Trimester/We’ve Been in our New House a Year

28 weeks.

Dear Holly,

Yesterday evening as Mommy was preparing dinner, she pointed out that you were tucked all the way over to her right side.

It was undeniable. There was no doubt her tummy was lopsided.

She explained to me when she was pregnant with your brother Jack nearly 6 years ago, he was always sitting on her ribs; way up high.

But you, you’re so low; that’s not a problem with you.

As of today, Mommy is officially in her 3rd trimester with you. She is 66% through her pregnancy with you. In less than 3 months, less than 90 days, you should be here.

It’s funny to think that a year ago this week, our family moved into our new house.

Life is at such a great pace now: We live way back in the suburbs. We have a garage. We live in a cul-de-sac near a park.

Those are things I didn’t realize how much I would appreciate. Being able to work our way of debt a few years ago and save up for the down payment on our house was totally worth the discipline and sacrifice.

We knew at the time when we moved in our new house, that at some point in the next few years, we might have another child.

But just 6 months into life in our new home with 4 bedrooms, something just finally clicked:

One of those rooms is for another child.

And so of course now, that guest room has now been converted into your nursery and bedroom.

I’ve mentioned before how supposedly age 34 is the best year of your life. That’s how old Mommy and I both are.

We are so happy to know that you are on your way. You are wanted. You will be loved.

I can’t guarantee that you will be born into the most normal of families, but I can tell you this: We’re going to have a lot of fun!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: We Put Up Our “Clip-On Tie” Christmas Tree on October 25th

4 years, 11 months.

Dear Jack: We Put Up Our “Clip-On Tie” Christmas Tree on October 25th

Dear Jack,

This past weekend, exactly two months before Christmas, our family bought our first official artificial Christmas tree. I call in our “clip-on tie” Christmas tree.

I am very pleased with it. Not only did we only pay $30 for it by the time we used our Lowe’s coupon, but the tree came pre-lit!

It’s no secret that while I am gifted in the creative department, I am completely bankrupt when it comes to mechanical skills.

But there was nothing complicated about assembling this tree. I just took it out of the box and stuck it in its stand.

The tree came in two halves with a connected cord for the lights. So I just simply spread out the twigs like a fan and was done.

In the 7 years Mommy and I have been married, we never really bothered to get a little Christmas tree since we lived in a townhouse and opened the presents at Nonna and Papa’s house anyway.

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Things changed this year, though. We have our own real house.

Romantically Mommy and I liked the idea of a real tree, but Mommy didn’t like the idea of the mess it would bring in our new house, and I didn’t like the idea of having to set it up.

So a 4 and a half foot tall “clip-on” tie version of a Christmas tree ended up being the perfect fit for our family.

As I was taking care of the tree, Mommy was wrapping the gifts for our extended family, while listening to traditional Christmas music on YouTube.

Christmas is about 2 months away, but our tree is up and the gifts are bought and wrapped.

With all the inevitable upcoming holiday clichés, like “the hustle and bustle of Christmas,” this is our family’s attempt to get ahead of the stress.

We are ready for Christmas!

Love,

Daddy