Dear Jack: Your Back-to-School, 2nd Grade Haircut (1 Inch on Top, #2 Guard on the Side, Down to #1 in the Back)

7 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack,

Last Friday you began 2nd grade with a half day of school. I hadn’t had a chance to get your hair cut beforehand, so you still had your grown-out summer mop hairstyle going on.

So I took you to the Great Clips, just a mile from our house, first thing on Saturday morning.

I could tell you were proud to get cleaned up. Though Mommy and I told you that your hair was long enough to change up your hairstyle into a bangs look, you expressed that’s the part of your hair that annoyed you the most: the hair getting in your eyes.

That’s what you had been telling me the past two weeks each morning, as I am the one who fixes your hair before school… and church… and anytime we leave the house.

I even offered to get you a buzz cut, but you weren’t that annoyed by the hair getting in your eyes.

So I guess that is your standard haircut now:

1 inch long on top; with a #2 guard on the sides, down to a #1 guard in the back.

This makes the 3rd time in a row we’ve gone to Great Clips and they simply cut your hair based on the notes in the computer from the time before- and you were perfectly happy with the results.

That’s the hairstyle  you like. And you know this. It’s part of your identity.

And then when your hair gets long enough that it’s in your eyes again, about a month or so later, that means it’s time for a new haircut.

It’s interesting to me that as a 2nd grade boy, you know what you do and do not like in a hairstyle for yourself:

Buzz cut? Nope, too short.

Bangs? No way, too annoying.

Long enough to sort of spike on top and very short on the sides and back?

Perfect.

Love,

Daddy

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Dear Holly: Yes, You Do Your Own Stunts!

2 years, 3 months.

Dear Holly,

After Nonna and Papa had spent the weekend at our house while Mommy and I went to see Kenny Chesney in Nashville and then painted the back porch the next day, it was time for them to head back Sunday afternoon.

So I announced to you, “Holly, it’s time to say goodbye to Nonna and Papa…”

You immediately ran over to them, smiled, then ran the other way- towards the sofa.

All weekend, you had been showing off your furniture climbing skills. As if to give them one more little talent show before they left, you climbed right up the arm of the couch, then rolled yourself over onto the cushion.

From there, you hopped down, ran towards Nonna and Papa, then continued to repeat the sofa climb.

After several cycles through, Papa finally grabbed you for the official goodbye hug.

Otherwise, I think you could have easily gone another 30 minutes through your self-imposed obstacle course in the living room.

It’s clear to me that right now, one of the things that is definitely a part of your identity is your fearlessness. You demonstrated this to Nonna and Papa all weekend.

If you could climb it, you did. If you could jump from it, you did.

And never once did you fall or get hurt. Papa even witnessed you teach yourself how to do a somersault, as you were running so fast across the living room floor that you stumbled, fell forward, then instinctively pushed yourself up after your legs had already flipped over your head.

I can’t help but think how this ends up translating to your interests and activities as you get a little older.

Gymnastics? Yeah, that’s a given.

But I’m even thinking indoor rock climbing. That may be the thing that’s actually challenging enough for you!

Love,

Daddy

I Bet It’s Difficult for My Co-Workers to Imagine I am Married and Have Kids!

I have caught on to a tradition in my office, since starting there over 3 months ago:

Every Friday afternoon, an “It’s almost the weekend!” email goes out to about 20 people in our department, to help motivate everyone through those last couple of hours. Typically, it’s something like a funny Internet meme or an office-themed comic strip.

Well, last Friday, it was… me.

It was a picture taken of me as I was returning from my lunch break.

Apparently I feel comfortable enough working there now that I have begun wearing Hawaiian shirts on Fridays; not because that’s an official thing we do in our office, but simply because I feel like wearing Jimmy Buffett style clothing when it’s that close to the weekend.

Hey, if it were up to me, I’d be wearing a Hawaiian shirt to work every day!

I’m not sure my wife would approve though; even if my co-workers encouraged such Dave Coulier behavior.

And this is actually something I’ve been thinking about, as one of my co-workers recently commented, “Nick, I wonder what your wife must be like? Is she normal? How does she handle being married to you?

My immediate response to her: “And don’t forget… I have two kids, as well! Imagine me being in charge of two young human beings!”

When you spend 40 hours a week working next to the same people 5 days a week, it can be easy to assume that version of them is the default. And to some degree, the “work version” of me does bleed over to the “family version” that my wife and kids know.

In both cases, I believe in being structured and focused, yet optimistic and creative.

But I bet it’s difficult for my co-workers to imagine I am married and have kids.

I think to some degree, even I’m confused:

How do I consistently co-exist on a daily basis, as different versions of myself?

The daytime version at my office versus the evening version with my family.

I wonder now, in reality, if there’s even much of a difference?

Attempting to Be the Next Chip and Joanna Gaines By Painting Our Back Porch (Two Different Colors?!)

As we have recently have decided not to make the easy $80,000 profit from selling our house right now, the focus has instead become finding ways to make small upgrades without having to spend too much money; as our agenda is to pay off our mortgage as soon as possible.

While my parents were still in town for my wife’s birthday so we could enjoy going to the Kenny Chesney concert in Nashville without worrying about the kids back at the house, my wife suggested we run out to Lowe’s the morning after to buy supplies to stain the back porch again.

Admittedly, I had been faithful to keep it stained… up until our daughter was born over 2 years ago.

Being the thrifty Millennial parents we are, we decided to check out the “Oops” section at Lowe’s, in an attempt to keep from having to pay nearly $50 for the stain.

I had remembered from last time I stained the porch that it took one big can and one small can to do the job. Turns out, there happened to be one big can and one small can there in the “Oops” section, with labels clearly confirming they were the exact same shade.

When we got back home, my wife chose dibs on the railings, which meant I would handle the deck itself. Once she opened her small can of stain, she mentioned her surprise that the color was more of a classic red; as opposed to the more natural look I had used before.

But oh well, we spent only $17.50, as opposed to nearly $50. Not to mention, as least we would be improving the quality of our back porch; even if it meant changing the color.

My wife was already a few minutes into starting the railing before I opened my big can of stain. Then I saw it… I shouted, “Hey! Stop. Look at this…”

I showed her how my can, despite the label indicating it was the exact same shade as her small can, was actually more of a salmon color, instead of classic red stain.

After a 2 minute deliberation, we decided to just to go for the two-one, knowing that A) we will likely stain it again (all the same color) before we eventually sell our house, and B) that most people probably wouldn’t even notice the colors didn’t match anyway…

Unless I made it obvious by doing a blog post about it.

Oops!

The Crazy (Not So Crazy?) Idea to Downsize to a One Story Home in an Effort to Pay Off Our Mortgage Quicker

When our family moved into our brand-new construction home back in January 2015, we had somewhat of an idea that we were potentially getting the last great deal in our bedroom community outside of Nashville.

But we didn’t realize that would mean the value of our home would increase more than $25,000 each year following.

In our neighborhood, houses are constantly for sale, and often are sold before a “sold” sign can even be posted in the yard.

My wife has been keeping up with the growing selling prices of our neighbors’ homes. It’s no exaggeration: We would easily make $80,000 if we sold our home today.

Contrast this to a decade ago when we bought a town home the year we got married, which happened to be right in middle of the The Great Recession. The value of that town home began dropping almost immediately. When we finally sold it in 2014, we barely made $1,000 off of it.

My wife and I are mutually obsessed with paying off our mortgage as soon as possible; as we have been debt free for 5 years now: No student loans, no car payments, no interest to be paid- other than our mortgage.

Last weekend was consumed by the quest to find out it would make more sense to actually downsize to a 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, one story home in our area; compared to the 4 bedroom (plus a bonus room), 2 and a half bathroom, 2 story home we have now.

Even with the cost of other homes rising in our town, the $80,000 profit from selling our current home would greatly minimize our monthly payment; which we’re already paying several hundred dollars extra on each month.

We learned that ultimately, the amount of money we owe the bank would remain the same, but with the monthly payment being several hundred dollars lower, we could increase the amount we pay on the principle by that much more. And therefore, we could pay off our home years sooner.

However, it’s still a gamble…

Because at the rate our home is increasing in value each year, this means that two years from now by 2020, our home would be worth $100,000 more than what we bought it for in January 2015.

So while we are still open to the idea of downsizing in order to have a paid off mortgage that much sooner, it might be smarter to wait a few more years as our home continues to increase in value at the rate it is.

Therefore, it looks like our plan is to be working on simple upgrades for our home in the meanwhile, so that not only we will be able to enjoy our current home that much more while we are actually living it, but so that it will also be that much enticing for future buyers.

The problem is, I’m no Chip Gaines when it comes to my handyman skills. That will prove to be the biggest challenge for now…

Dear Holly: You Wore a Poop Emoji Band-Aid On Your Forehead to Church, While Your Parents Never Questioned It

2 years, 3 months.

Dear Holly,

The funniest part of this story is that it wasn’t until Mommy was making dinner last Sunday evening, around 5:30, that I even bothered bringing it up:

“So Holly’s been wearing a poop emoji Band-Aid on her forehead since I woke up this morning. We went to church, and then went to the doughnut shop, and the rest of the afternoon has now passed. Up until this point we haven’t talked about it.”

Mommy’s answer was everything I knew it would be. It was the explanation I didn’t need, since I already knew the answer because I know you that well. It was the very reason I never mentioned it all day:

“Yeah, Holly saw that I bought new Band-Aids and she wanted one on her forehead- so I let her. It wasn’t worth the fight.”

Needless to say, you’re going through that “wears Band-Aids excessively and unnecessarily” stage.

Earlier last week, I came downstairs from vacuuming, and you had two on each arm and two on each leg. You looked up at me in an attempt to earn all my sympathy:

“Daddy, I got boo-boos!”

You were the equivalent of a cartoon kitten who went skateboarding for the first time.

To you right now, Band-Aids are a fashion accessory. But you are also able to understand that in order to somewhat justify wasting them, you have to write a loose narrative as to why you’ve earned the right to wear the Band-Aids.

But you know good and well I’ll immediately settle for, “Daddy, I got boo-boos!”

Like Mommy said, it’s just not worth the fight.

In your psychological and social development right now, this is important to you.

Not to mention, I can’t deny it’s giving me access to being able to take some pretty funny and eventually embarrassing pictures of you these days.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: You Start 2nd Grade in the Morning

7 years, 8 months.

Dear Jack,

Tomorrow morning, you will officially be a 2nd grader. I was just telling Mommy tonight how I pretty much remember the entire year of 2nd grade. It was the first year in school where I have more than just flashes of memories from it.

I remember that was the year I officially became obsessed with getting a Nintendo so I could try to save the princess on Super Mario Bros. I remember Nonna taking me to see the movie, Big, which was the first non-kids’ movie I ever saw in a theater. And I remember that was the first time I was in a school play: I was an earthworm.

You have an exciting year ahead of you, which will bring its own little milestones in your life.

Today was your last day of summer art camp. When I picked up and reminded your teacher why you wouldn’t be returning after today, I could tell how proud you were when I said, “Jack starts 2nd grade tomorrow!”

Earlier this week, we even got to meet your 2nd grade teacher… or I should say, teachers.

Your school is experimenting with a new curriculum this year in which you will have a homeroom teacher who takes care of math and science, but then for reading and social studies, you will go across the hall where a secondary teacher will handle those subjects.

When I started 2nd grade 30 years ago in 1988, we only swapped teachers for reading. And it wasn’t until 6th grade that switched teachers for more than one subject.

You are definitely ready and eager to start 2nd grade.You were proud too, that this will be your first year at your school where your classroom is up on the 2nd floor.

If you weren’t a big kid before, you definitely are now.

Love,

Daddy