Dear Jack: Your Brand-New Homemade Lizard Blanket!

8 years, 1 months.

Dear Jack,

Last week, you stayed at Nonna and Papa’s house for a few days while school was still out.

You and Nonna stumbled across some unused fabric from 20 years ago, of lizard print.

So that gave you the idea to ask Nonna if she could make you a lizard blanket.

Just your luck, she was happy to do it!

She took you upstairs to her sewing machine, so you can to see it being made.

Needless to say, you were to proud to bring home for brand-new, yet very classic, homemade lizard blanket.

It is safe to say that it is the only one in the world:

A small blanket with lizard print on one side, and a soft plush on the other.

 

Love,

Daddy

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Dear Holly: You Don’t Need a Nap as Long as You’re Playing with Your Cousins

2 years, 8 months.

Dear Holly,

During the Christmas holidays, we spent one whole day at your Aunt Dana and Uncle Andrew’s house. I enjoyed it very much.

That’s because I basically got the whole day off, just to sit back and enjoy old home videos that Uncle Andrew had transferred from VHS to our family’s own private YouTube channel that we were able to watch up on the flat screen TV.

There were so many classics, like the video I made Aunt Dana shoot exactly 23 years ago day, right before I got my haircut:

Meanwhile, you and your two cousins completely entertained yourselves the entire day, with all the toys they had in their playroom. For you, it was like getting to try out all the new toys in the toy store with your friends. And with it being a one story house, I never had to be watching to make sure you made it up or down the stairs okay.

You never even acted tired, so I didn’t have to put you down for a nap. And when you don’t have to take a nap, it’s one less thing for me to have to do.

You got to play. I got to rest. A good time was had by all.

Love,

Daddy

So I Guess I’ve Always Been a Side Hustler; Being a “Gum Dealer” in High School and Running a Convenience Store from My College Dorm Room

Looking back, I realize now that I’ve actually always been a side hustler; even in high school and college. Earlier today, I published an article declaring that my 5 SEO side hustles all made me a minimum of $1,000 each in 2018. But that mentality has been a part of me, undeniably, since at least when I was a teenager in high school. (See picture above.)

Here on the first day of 2019, I am learning a little bit more about myself. The fact that I have 5 side hustles as a 37 year-old man makes perfect sense, considering my scheming ways back to when I was a teenager.

When I started high school, I couldn’t help that notice that chewing gum was high in demand in the halls of my high school. It just so happened that it was weekly tradition that I would accompany my mom in buying groceries. I noticed that I could buy a multi-pack of Wrigley’s gum at nearly a wholesale price for $1.25; which contained 10 packs of gum (each of which contained 5 sticks of gum), then I could sell each pack for just a quarter. By the time I sold the 10 packs, when I could easily do in a 10 minute break, I had made $2.50. In other words, I was making 100% profit!

It didn’t took long before I became known as “the gum dealer.”

This was great for me. I got to social with all the different groups of friends, and met new ones, by offering them the best deal on chewing gum during each of our two breaks each day during high school.

It was also during high school that I began making my own videos, on VHS. Not only did I direct a horror movie, called “Frosty Bites”…

But I also filmed hair videos, too…

In case you missed it, I made over $4,000 in 2018 from my most popular YouTube channel and its Amazon links, which focuses on men’s hair and beards. And that’s not counting my 2nd YouTube channel, as well. This is not a coincidence.

Then when I moved into my college dorm, Dorm 15 at Liberty University, I took my gum dealer experience and opened up my own convenience store, using two micro fridges, and buying all my products for wholesale price at WalMart.

I sold soda, Little Debbie snack cakes, Ramen noodles, Hot Pockets, and frozen burritos. I even let my customers heat up their food in my microwave, so they could hang out with me while their food was preparing. I appropriately named my store, The Freshman 15.

Those profits went to financing my mission trips to Thailand in the summers of 2003 and 2004, where I was a 4th grade teacher specializing in ESL…

then teaching conversation English to high school students and adults.

Some things just never change. I am and always have been a side hustler. This is simply part of my identity.

At Age 37, My Wife and I Have Begun Investing Our Money, Thanks to Charles Schwab

At age 37, I am fully aware that I am now at the halfway point of the average American lifespan. I suppose this is literally the most appropriate time to have my midlife crisis.

Finally, I can trade in my old paid-off Honda Element for a brand-new Jeep Wrangler, take a spur of the moment trip to Spain, and start training for American Ninja Warrior…

But instead, I am focusing all that energy into planning for the 2nd half of my life- and my wife’s, as well as our children’s future.

My wife and I got married 10 and a half years ago, right in the middle of the 2008 Financial Crisis.

The first half of our marriage was spent building our careers from entry level positions and trying to manage the tens of thousands of dollars of debt we were in; largely due to college loans and our wedding.

The most recent half of our marriage began with us finally becoming debt-free in 2013, buying the last steal-of-a-deal new home in the Nashville area, and both finding ourselves far enough into our careers and side hustles that we started making a comfortable living.

But as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs pyramid explains, your goals and motivations evolve as you overcome your previous more basic needs and desires.

Now the focus is… how to invest our steady stream of income into our future.

I thought it was as simple as just paying off our house, then worrying about retirement afterwards.

However, my wife has been listening to the Moneywise program on Moody Radio on the way home from work each day. She explained to me that based on our interest rate on our home, it would actually be a better investment of our money to start building our retirement now, alongside paying off our mortgage early.

My wife then set us up an appointment with Charles Schwab financial investment company, which she had been hearing endorsed on Moneywise.

Today was the big day.

Our financial advisor helped us rollover my 401K from my previous employer to traditional IRA and select a portfolio for it. She also gave us direction on determining our financial goals so we could better plan our retirement and our kids’ college funds.

This was a major milestone for us. Here’s to the second half of life!

Dear Jack: You and Your Sister Willingly Shared a Bed During the Christmas Holidays

8 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack,

Though you could have slept down the hall in your very own bed in the bonus room while we stayed at Nonna and Papa’s house last week during Christmas vacation, you opted to sleep on the trundle bed attached to your sister’s bed.

But I noticed that all four nights, you and your sister ended up in the same actual bed. She would roll off her bed in the middle of the night onto your bed.

And then by the 3rd night, she decided she wanted to sleep on the trundle bed instead. But of course, she crawled up into your bed those nights after you fell asleep.

The funny thing is, you had no idea. You slept through all of it either way.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Sneaking Chocolate Candy Behind Empty Christmas Toy Boxes

2 years, 8 months.

Dear Holly,

Last week during our Christmas vacation at Nonna and Papa’s, Mommy and I went out for a few hours to get coffee. While we were out, Nonna caught on to a sneaky little trick that your brother set up for the two of you.

He took two empty boxes from Christmas gifts, Scented SlimyGloop and Play-Doh poop, and placed them upright on the kitchen table.

Then he placed the jar of mint chocolate M&Ms behind them and slowly began dispersing them, one at a time, to both of you.

The exact number of M&Ms obtained during this mission remain unknown.

But even though it wasn’t your idea, the look on your face in this picture makes it very clear you were quite the accomplice.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Your Homemade Ladybug Boat and Its Tragic Voyage Out to Sea

8 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack,

Our friends Mohamad and Lena got you a really cool craft box for your birthday. It has provided the ideal outlet for all your creativity when you’re trapped inside the house on a bitterly cold December.

Your ultimate creation so far has been your boat, equipped with a special tether so you wouldn’t lose it.

I told you I’d take you to the creek in the next neighborhood over, once you were ready to try it out on the water.

So last Sunday, the weather was warm enough for us to outside for a little while. You happened to catch a ladybug, which you placed in a plastic capsule that had served as the container for a 50 cent toy you bought from the machine at Kroger.

You named the boat Ladybug Boat.

The ladybug served as the fearless captain. That bug had to be fearless, because…

Even with the tether, you ended up losing a grip of the boat as you hung it over the tunnel to drop it in the water.

That brave little ladybug, along with the boat itself, entered that tunnel never to come out the other side across the street.

It’s as if they entered a whole other dimension. That’s the best case scenario, at least.

Love,

Daddy