Between a Self and a Village

Hello Friends,

I started this post back in January with, “Been thinking a lot about gratitude lately, and just how many things I am thankful for these days.” Today I’m coming off a good week with three posts uploaded, some new followers and many new comments. So I’m right there again, feeling grateful. High time I said something.

Each one of you, my readers, is included in these thoughts, and I try to tell you that each year. A blog without readers is a journal, and that’s personal and doesn’t contribute to the tribe’s knowledge base. Your presence on the blog moves us out of the personal and into the public space.

Thank you.

That’s thanks for clicking on a post, reading, commenting, liking us on Facebook, following, telling your friends, asking about the blog, and all the other things you do in support of Dad’s Diaper Detour – thank you.

When I was mulling over the blog-gratitude dynamic I was reminded of two phrases that get thrown around lot, dare I say, two “cliches”?

The first is the notion of “self-made”. Often brandished by successful business owners, I find this concept falls apart when you hear the back story about the starter-loan from a grandparent or the free room and board from family. I get the idea behind the phrase, but we don’t live in a vacuum, so there is always some part of our current situation that is “made” by another. Parenting, no matter how successful, always involves an “other”; a spouse, someone for advice, a helping hand, getting some work done, etc..

The second phrase is “it takes village”. This is pretty easy to dissect. Nobody knows everything about anything. Getting specific to at-home parenting, no parent, especially a new parent, knows what the detour has in store for them. I didn’t. I have relied on Wife, my parents, siblings, in-laws, friends, and fellow parents for guidance and an extra set of hands. I turn to the internet community for help. I look to parents who have published books. I definitely benefit from a village.

So I repeat: thank you. To all of you who have guided and followed, and made the space for me to do the same. You have been the “other” who has helped to make this blog, and the village that supports us. Of course, you should tell your friends and families about about Dad’s Diaper Detour and keep liking, commenting and following, either through WordPress or Facebook.

The summer is in full effect here in Chicago. We’ll be on the detour and I hope we see you out there.

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Time for the House

Hello Friends,

This is the last update on our yard work. After the playhouse goes in, my focus shifts to yard maintenence. Rest assured, there won’t be any posts about edging and mowing. Although maybe I will do a “carbon-neutral” post in the future to highlight human powered lawncare. Anyway, playhouse.

After a bunch of shopping and comparisons we went with the Greystone Cottage from Costco (it’s part of the Cedar Summit line by Kid Craft). We tried to balance look, playability, value, and price, and for us, this house won out.

What you’re seeing in these messy photos are the parts of the house laid out by number (all parts are numbered for easy building). This was one of the first steps in the manual, and was a helpful hint from the company. I tried to clear out half the garage for work space, but you can see how easily the parts filled up the space.

Tio Long-Arm-of-the-Law came by for the first night of building. His help made that night productive. The cottage uses a lot of screws to fasten the pieces. So while I was fastening a part, he was reading the next step, and bringing me the next parts and fasteners. If you buy this house I recommend getting a second person at least until the base is assembled and the roof is on.

And…POOF! Playhouse. I said this wasn’t going to be a tutorial, just some sharing. Photos after build night #1 would’ve been nice, but oh well. Anyway, fits nice, right?

So, let’s sum up this experience. The box is big enough and heavy enough to be a hassle, but not impossible to get home. One person can get it from the store, two is ideal. There are a lot of parts, but they are numbered. Organize the parts and the hardware (use a plastic Costco apple crate for hardware) to facilitate assembly. One person can handle most of the assembly, but a second person can dramatically improve productivity. And two sets of eyes is better than one , especially for the few steps that aren’t completely clear (and really, there are only a few). Build night #1 was 2 hours with two adults, build night #2 was 2 hours just me. So 6 total Dad hours. Once assembled the house can be moved by 3 adults easily, 2 with a bit of caution. The light weight of this house is deceptive though, as it is sturdy. The wood is lightweight, so charge the battery for the driver but use a light trigger. It is easy to bury the screws and split boards.

Overall, Wife and I are pleased with the Greystone Cottage. I did leave off a flag accessory which is just a big piece of plastic. The wood is treated, but we did spray it with a waterproof paint to be safe,and I tarp it if we’reexpecting storms. So far it is all fun at the cottage. The girls have no complaints, except when I call them for dinner!

Program Interrupted

Hello Friends,

today’s fun adventures were interrupted by a necessity – both Sweetie and Cricket were due for their six month dental cleaning. I would not choose to spend a beautiful afternoon at the dentist, but if we have to go, you know we’re going to see Dr. Johnny Kuttab. I’ve written about his practice, Sprout Pediatric Dentistry before, so you all know how much we appreciate the office, the staff and his bedside manner, but it is so worth repeating! We actually showed up an hour early for our appointments. The staff moved the appointments “in the system” and the girls were seen immediately. I’ll be hitting up Yelp to star them up, read on.

Today was one more happy visit at Sprout. One of the oral hygienists informed me that the office celebrated it’s 2-year anniversary in May (how do I not know this?) That explains the new giant “Lite-Brite” on the wall!

Yeah, yeah, I know it has an actual brand name. The girls thought it was amazing, whatever you want to call it. And it shows that Sprout continues to explore ways to make the office great for their young patients.

As always, the girls were relaxed during their exams, from the time they sat in their chairs until we left. Of course, some of that was due to Shrek playing on the televisions above their chairs. I’m not sure the girls even knew they were getting their teeth cleaned. The only tears of the visit came when Cricket did not get the erasure prize she wanted from the coin machine. In swooped her oral hygienist with more coins until we got that doughnut. So be warned: Sprout will treat your kids with respect, they will do a great job with their dental care and they will probably spoil them a bit too.

I asked Dr. Johnny if he had any dental advice that I could share, you know, “dental tidbits”. Today he reminded me that when I look at the girls’ dental health I need to look at the big picture. Explaining that “dentist” is his job, while “Dad” is his reality, he conceded that his children sometimes miss a brushing, and they eat sugar. But he practices brushing for two minutes, twice daily, as often as possible. Dr. Johnny showed this parent-dentist balance the very first time Sweetie saw him, and it was the first aspect of his care that I appreciated. His point was that all parents, dentist parents included, need to focus on the bigger picture of good oral hygiene and not be discouraged by occasional slip-ups.

I write this after every visit post, but this is not a sponsored blog post. My girls walk out of that office all smiles, and that means everything to me. I am confident in the care they receive and the advice I collect. If you are looking for a dentist for your kids, or if you don’t love your child’s current dentist, I say check out Dr. Johnny over at Sprout Pediatric Dentistry.

Sprout Pediatric Dentistry is so cool!

To be clear, these posts are completely self-serving – I want Dr. Johnny and Sprout Pediatric Dentistry to stay open for a good, long time.

Happy July 4th to Ya’!

Hello Friends,

Wishing you all a Happy 4th, however you may be celebrating today! Besides our nation’s birthday, we have friends also celebrating birthdays (I see you Jim!), and memories of soldiers returning home safely. I am sure you all have good stuff to add to today’s celebration too!

So be safe out there, friends. Be careful with the grill, don’t hold fireworks in your hand, and know when to say when. Enough PSA, we’ll see you out there. Happy 4th of July!

That Yard Tho’…

Hello Friends,

This spring I shared the post-remodel state of our yard and the beginning of our next plans. The main focus is on a paver “pad” where we will put a playhouse for the girls.

The location is great, the size almost perfect (nothing some yard tools can’t adjust), so we’re off. My years in the bodyshop taught me that a good end result is all about the prep work. First step, excavate.

There’s the pad after excavation, first layer of weedcloth, and the initial “Paver Base 1” (all sand-like products are Sakrete brand). This was followed by more Base 1, levelling, tamping and then some “Paver Base 2”, also know as levelling sand. Then we were ready to start fitting pavers.

These nifty guys are an AZEK product that Wife found on Home Depot’s website. Made from recycled rubber, they give a little when you step on them. Hopefully it cushions the falls. Eight (8) bricks come on each base which makes alignment and gapping much easier.

The pad is boxed in by the sidewalk and the garage foundation, so we had to make some cuts. Both the bases and the bricks can be cut to size, you just need a coarse-tooth blade and some patience. When you cut rubber too fast it smokes, stinks, and burns! Nice and easy here, friends.

Edging! I almost forgot about the edging! This plastic paver edging by Edgepro was easy to work with. I used a heat gun to warm and bend the corners, and my nifty multi-tool for cutting. Hot plastic this time, so again, some patience.

After testing, edging, levelling, trimming, more levelling and installing, we got this:

Nice shadow, huh? I think you get the point, though. Wife liked the pattern I laid out. I liked that the pattern happened as I put the bricks in the bases. Seriously, I’m not even sure how to plan out this pattern. It was like a big Lego set in a way, except easier to find and fix mistakes. Next step, locking sand!

This stuff was a little funky to work with, but steady work with gentle water got it all done. Wife and the girls kept washing the bricks with water to insure the polymer did not leave a film on them. The continuous water, not aimed at the seams, helped the sand dry evenly and smoothly.

That gets us ready for the last part of this project: build the house!

To be clear, I’m just sharing our project with you all. This isn’t meant to be a tutorial on laying pavers. I collected most of the technical info for this project from the back of the product bags. The rest I found online. From there it was chipping away at each step until I got where the bag said I needed to be. All of the products for this pad were purchased through Home Depot, either online or in the store (I see you Addison and Kimball!). Home Depot did not, however, sponsor this post. But I have a long list of projects and there is plenty of opportunity! That’s a big hint, Home Depot contact me!

Alright, next update will cover the playhouse. Again, I’m not going for a tutorial, just show you our adventure.

We’ll see you out there!