Monday, August 22, 2016

A day of accomplishments

I should probably add some pictures, so I'll see what's on the computer. Today was just a good day, full of accomplishments. These days haven't been frequent enough because of a number of things: moving, preparing the condo for sale, doing showings at the condo, selling another condo that's about 45 minutes away and helping someone buy a condo about an hour away from me. So all of those trips take roughly 3 hour chunks out of my day if I stay for an hour. That's a lot of time.

Today was not like that though. Today was "productive". Those other days are productive, but this is better productive. Things were done around the house that made it better to live in....THAT kind of productive. A gate I installed at the top of the stairs to keep Thomas from falling down them had come loose. Doesn't seem possible since I used toggle bolts (3 of them), but there it was...loose. So yesterday I realized the toggles never deployed! They were just sitting inside the hole in the drywall, unopened and provided some support initially. Eventually they worked themselves loose though. When I saw the toggles not deployed, I knew what happened. User error, which is usually the case in DIY projects. This time I did it right though and that gate is definitely secure now!

We bought two toilet seats with inserts that come down so Marissa can start using the "big girl" potty. I installed two of them today and she immediately said "I am NOT going to use them!" Fortunately, that was incorrect and she even used it before the night was out. Very happy. Laura is REALLY happy.

Downstairs we have many boxes left to unpack and put away. The thing with moving every 24 years is that you accumulate a LOT of crap. Or maybe just stuff. Some crap, but lots of stuff. So there's about 18 boxes of stuff that we have NOT unpacked at this point. Today I decided I would unpack one box a week until they were all unpacked. That was before I realized there were 18 boxes so maybe I'll do two a week. Today I did two or three, so that's a great start. I also put some carpet samples up in the attic storage in the garage, which made the garage a little easier to move around in. I moved some other stuff around and it was even easier. Then I pitched some things and it was even better! Progress!!

Due to some problems with our movers, we blew them up on different websites and got them to settle with us at a number 10x what they initially offered (a laughable amount). Today we got the release document signed and the last of the websites to take down the review I wrote. That paves the way for payment.

For work, I followed up on a real estate lead and dug for information from a website that paved the way for me to help them out in the spring. Good stuff!

Every day has lots of interaction with my kids and Laura, so that's always good. Today we took a nature hike after dinner along a paved trail across the street that winds through some woods and a few ponds. I try to point out nature things and animals. We saw three deer, some yellow finches and we found a few acorns, which I was able to secure a good shell and made a super loud whistle out of it the first time I tried! It was awesome.

This Saturday is our 5th wedding anniversary and also a Bears home game (preseason) so I listed the tickets on Stubhub. But I also emailed two buddies to see if they could use them in the event that they don't sell.

And now I've written a blog post. That's a good day!!







Before pictures of the playset in the back yard. I have some blue painters tape around some things I couldn't remove or wanted to protect. I didn't remember to take "before" pictures right away. 




The rusty rungs.


Now they are spray painted forest green!



Look how rich and nice it looks now! My neighbors had one that looked like my "before" picture and after I was done with mine, they just tore theirs down. Already improving the neighborhood!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Back to writing?

Ahhhh, back to writing, if only temporarily.

Lots to write about, but this entry is solely about looking at the bright side of things and recognizing the positive things that happen.

We bought a new house in the far southwest suburbs of Chicago and have had a few issues: one of the stoves suddenly didn’t work, the dryer wasn’t drying, the kitchen sink was clogged at 5:30 and wood boring bees had infested the play set in the back yard. That’s a lot to have happen while you’re trying to unpack and settle in. None of those things created the impetus for this entry though. Here are some pics FROM the house, but I couldn't load a picture OF the house. It will come. 






My car, a 2002 Camry, has had its check engine light on for about 6 months. Initially I thought it was due to topping off the gas, which has led to a sensor being tripped in the past (an ongoing problem with that model of car from that time frame).  It was time to change the oil though, so I took it to Pepboys to get that done and see if anything else was the matter. They wanted several hundred dollars to fix one of the oxygen sensors. This was a big problem as I couldn’t renew my license plates until my car passed the emission test, which wouldn’t happen with the check engine light on. Ugh.

Then, later that day after the oil change, the light went off! Yay! I couldn’t get to the emission testing facility for 3 or 4 days, but I went as soon as I could and the car passed. The next day, the check engine light came back on. Wow. That was really fortunate and saved me a bunch of money.

But what about the dryer, sink, stove and bees?? How are those things positive? It’s not so much that they are positive things in and of themselves, but you can look at them two different ways. I chose to see the bright side. The dryer didn’t work because it hadn’t been used in seven months and was 10 years old. Before I had the necessary part replaced, I pulled the dryer out to see if it was venting properly or if lint had clogged it up. I found the hose leading to the vent had fallen off and any lint making it past the lint trap was going under dryer, not to mention the hot air filling the upstairs. Did I mention our laundry is upstairs? It’s very convenient, but would be dangerous if not vented properly. Anyway, the dryer not working led me to find and fix that problem, which could have caused bigger issues. So that was a positive.

The stove worked at our inspection, but the next day the cleaning crew used the self-cleaning function and overheated the thermostat. Since the stove is built into the wall, it doesn’t vent quickly enough to use the self-cleaning function, which I don’t normally use anyway. Good to know! Fortunately, we have two stoves in the kitchen, so it was a minor inconvenience and now we know not to use that function. We’re fortunate to have two stoves and fortunate to not be entertaining when it went out. It’s all good!

The bees. Well, the bees are these wood boring bees who chose to take up residence in the playset that came along with the house. The guys are about the size of your thumb or maybe a slightly smaller. Like a flying smokey-Joe hot dog if you know what those things are. Formidable to say the least. However, they don’t sting, except for the queen. So you can use insecticide or a tennis racket to get rid of them. They make really cool, perfectly circular holes, which is kind of shame to remove them. I wouldn’t mind them if they were in someone else’s wood!!

So that’s my entry for today: make lemonade out of lemons, see the bright side of a situation, realize that sometimes bad things happen for a reason; you just need to take the time to figure out what that reason is. 

And now, some family pics!








Thursday, October 22, 2015

Pumpkin Patch visit!

It's been a while and I posted these pics on Facebook, but here they are for my blog readers as well.

All is good here in our household by the way, just too busy to keep up with the blog right now. We let our nanny go and that means extra time with the kids during the day. It's all good!














Saturday, August 08, 2015

Happy eight months to TD! It's sort of a golden birthday: 8 months on the 8th!

Some big news this week for BOTH kids!

Thomas turned 8 months today! Yay!! He's a good looking boy I have to say. Good looking in the sense of filling out and such. Very happy with the little guy!

Thomas continued to eat more and more solid food. He started maybe a month ago, but it was just sporadic. Now, we put him at the table and lets out a squawk if we don't give him some of what we are eating. It's hysterical and awesome all at the same time. He also has been moved downstairs into his own room and has slept through the night (7 p.m.-6 a.m.) all but two nights. It's been awesome for OUR sleeping as well. The two nights he woke up crying, I went down with a bottle instead of LL. It was sort of funny as when he saw me, he started crying LOUDER! The first night he didn't eat much, but went back to bed and slept through the rest of the night. A few nights later when I went down to get him, he ate a bit and then went back to bed again. It's been refreshing, but it's also awesome to see him getting big and continuing to follow the path of Marissa (and billions of other kids I assume).

Today, as I arrived home from being out for a few minutes, LL and Marissa were in the bathroom. Marissa came running out of the bathroom saying, "Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! I used the big potty!" And she had! Then during dinner, she said she needed to go again so LL took her into the bathroom and she did her business. Very awesome! She REALLY wants to wear big girl underwear (we have several pairs with various princesses on them) so there's been motivation for a while. We didn't want to rush her though. Later in the evening, she had an accident, but that's okay as it was before bath-time and easily cleaned up. We'll see what tomorrow brings. A big day though!!!

Today we also went to see the Bears scrimmage at Soldier Field and I've attached one picture of that event.

Oh, and Marissa has been dressing up as a princess for our daily walk to Starbucks in the morning. It's soooooo cute!  Last night she was upset after having a bad dream and needed some attention. As LL was putting her back down in bed she said, "Daddy won't go without me." Obviously she's concerned that I have enough willpower to turn down this beauty in the morning:



Here's Thomas on one of his first swing rides if not the first. He loved it!



Here's that Bears picture. It was family day!


Oh, I forgot about Marissa's first haircut! This was a week or so ago.




She was great the whole time. And then gave this look: "Yeah, I know I'm looking good."


Sunday, July 19, 2015

How about some more pictures?

Last week, LL took the kids on vacation in St. Joe's Michigan, not too far away. Because of several events, softball and not being too fond of the accommodations, I stayed home. While I missed my family dearly, I was able to get a lot accomplished including: sleeping, dropping 3-4 pounds. putting up a piece of wood trim in the kitchen, cleaning out the shoe portion of my closet...just all sorts of things.

Here are some pictures!









Friday, July 03, 2015

Just a short post

A lot less to catch up on with this entry, but still, there's much going on!

Thomas had two milestones in the last week: saying dada and rolling over and back on his own. Oh, three things! He said mama the other day too. Big things going on with that young man. I may start calling him Thumper as a nickname because he loves to raise his legs and thump them down on the bed to make noise. It's kind of hysterical.....except when it's 3 a.m.

Marissa continues to be more and more awesome every day. Lately she's been more and more obsessed with Frozen, as most little girls have been the last few years. Her new thing is to to put her Elsa and Anna dress on over her pajamas and say "Don't touch me!! You'll be frozen!" It's super cute, but I don't like missing out on hugs. :-(



Funny story, when I tried to take him OUT of this sit up thingy, his thighs got stuck. Ha! Our little Buddha.


 Future real estate broker possibly.


Like father like son!


Like father like daughter!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Catching up!

So it's been some time since I last posted and a lot has happened. Thomas is growing as is Marissa, the later becoming quite the young lady. Not only is she always asking what something is, she's also very polite in responding to things being done for her, which is awesome. It's especially cute when you ask her if she wants something (like to eat) and she'll think about it for a second and say, "Um, no, I don't think so."


  

Going back to January, we saw LL turn 40 so we are both in our 40's for 1 year and 2 months....so there's that! Not a big deal but noteworthy. Some would argue not, but it's my blog. Ha!

Thomas continues to sleep in our room as our third bedroom is in the basement and LL would like us to all be on the same floor. This impossibility has led to discussions about moving to the suburbs, which were exacerbated by our neighbors selling their condo (slightly smaller but the same layout as ours) for $520,000 netting them a hefty profit from only 5 years ago. Well, imagine the hefty profit after living here for 20 years like I have!! A move then is most likely on the docket for next spring, but that means a lot of investigation into all things involved in moving.  To that end, we've started fixing up some things around the house: a new dishwasher, new ceiling fan (where one did not exist) and are going to paint the kitchen. More stuff to come, but it needs to get done at some point before the spring!



The spring real estate market this year brought three transactions my way, which is right around where I wanted to be for a year. If I did 3-5 possibly, that would be dandy for now: it pays all my real estate fees and covers my Bears season tickets plus a new appliance or three. Most importantly, at that transaction level, it doesn't hinder my quality of life. Plus I was made a partner in the company, which, while financially insignificant currently, is nice to have. Here's yard sign from my first listing, which sold in 10 days!



Memorial Day weekend brought much fun and then near tragedy. Friday, we had dinner with one of my new partners and his fiance. It was a fun night filled with good food and drink. Then we spent part of Saturday with some other friends and their 3 year old son. Sunday brought a trip to Joliet to see the inlaws, but also dinner out and then drinks with our friends Terry and Sandie from Mokena. They have a house for sale across the street from them and they were trying to get us to move down there after they heard we were going to contemplate moving to the burbs. The next day, Monday, we were headed to Naperville to see my folks and have Memorial Day food, when a car unexpectedly and illegally turned left in front of our car while we were in the middle of the intersection. A collision was unavoidable, but I turned the car away from LL at least. The kids were buckled down in the back in their seats and were fine. The car and I however, were not as fortunate. I had nasty lacerations on my left arm and a burn on the back of my right hand, both from the airbag we assume. My right shoulder and my right knee also seemed to have been injured, though I don't know to what extent. LL has a scrape from the seatbelt from her shoulder to the middle of her chest. We'll see how these things all heal.  Insurance has been good about it all and we have a rental car for 30 days. Have to get to work on finding a new car though!!





Marissa with her policeman's "baseball card" given to her by an officer at our accident scene.


Of course, we had Thomas' baptism and a trip to Chesapeake Bay MD, about 45 minutes east of D.C., planned in the two weeks after after the accident. They never occur at a good time do they?? Anyway, the baptism went pretty well and the dinner that followed at Sapori Trattoria was awesome. For the trip to the Bay, we upgraded our Sonata to a Town and Country van, packed it to the gills and made the 12 hour drive in about 14+ hours (not bad with two kids!). Thomas was a champ as he slept for two almost 5 hour stints. Marissa was great too and she was much more cramped than Thomas. 











I'm still playing softball, but with the addition of 4-5 people during the offseason and my skills diminishing due to not being in as good of shape (since I can't work out nor sleep as much as I'd like) my playing time has dropped dramatically. While I still love going out and taking BP and infield practice, it's tough if all you get to do is pinch-hit periodically. I don't blame anyone as it's no one's fault really. I'm older, can't blame me for that. Other guys are younger and better, can't blame them. Can't blame the managers for playing the younger guys. I just have to decide for myself at what point do I draw the line. We'll see.  Golfing more looks pretty good though!

In other sports news, the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup again this year, the third time in six years. Awesome!! They beat Tampa Bay in six games, winning the Stanley Cup on home ice for the first time in 77 years.  And 77 years ago, they didn't have the Stanley Cup available as traveling was much different and the head of the NHL at the time didn't think the Black Hawks (two words at that time) would win. Crazy. Much celebrating in Chicago, but I was already at the Bay and missed the partying.....probably  for the best.


Marissa and Thomas