Dear Jack: Do You Remember The Times Of Your Life?

3 years, 8 months.

*Please play “Times Of Your Life” by Paul Anka while reading this one. I feel it perfectly captures the equal combination of sadness and goodness that illustrate what I am saying today:

Dear Jack,

Towards the end of my high school years, I remember suddenly becoming aware of those first couple of years of my life when things just seemed the sweetest and most innocent.

monster hat for boys

I had looked back though old photo albums, seeing the sincere look of joy on my parents’ faces as they lived in those moments, circa 1984.

My parents had made sacrifices for me, by default, simply because they became parents. But they cherished me for the sweet little boy I was.

It’s not something I had really thought much about until my later teenage years. Here we are, 30 years later. You’re now the sweet little boy in those pictures. Mommy and I are the parents in those pictures who cherish their son.

elevator ceiling selfie

As long as I’ve been a parent, I’ve always been mindful of the cliche warnings: “Don’t rush these years. Kids grow up so fast!”

With that being said, the older you get, the more I love being your Daddy.

So while I’m not trying to rush these years, I admit I’m always curious to see how much cooler being your Daddy will get. You become more of “a real boy” each day.

father and son nostalgia

As for now, these are the days when your stuffed animals still serve as the important equivalent of imaginary friends. It’s like they have souls. We don’t go anywhere without at least one of them, like your purple elephant, Ellie, for example.

I realize that a few years from now, those main characters in your life will fade to the background. What a strange thought!

Right now, these are the sweetest, most innocent years. It’s sadly ironic that I will most likely remember more about this time in your life than you will.

Good thing your Daddy is obsessed with documenting the whole thing for you! Granted, that “obsession” stems from my own wishes to revisit my past.

I enjoy you watching your world and I being a part of it. Perhaps being a parent is the most legitimate way to return to those nostalgic years of life I miss.



P.S. The middle picture is an entry we submitted for a “selfie photo contest” for Joe Hendricks Photography!

Nashville Man Mysteriously Rescued By Monster Trucks

This past Sunday afternoon as a Nashville man, Nick Shell, 33, was rounding the turn at Old Hickory Boulevard and Nolensville Pike in his newly restored 1985 Toyota 4Runner, he slid into a giant mud-filled ditch.

1985 Toyota 4Runner funny

“I had never seen mud that deep and thick before. It was all the way up to the windows. But then I looked up and saw a monster school bus and a big black monster truck with the phrase Crusader written across it. It was such perfect timing. How the monster trucks appeared immediately after my moment of need, I’ll never know,” Shell explained.

The giant monster trucks were able to nudge the 4Runner back up to the main road to safety. Perhaps miraculously, after all the mud was washed off, both the driver and Toyota 4Runner escaped the crash without even a scratch.

1985 Toyota 4Runner funny

However, the monster trucks mysteriously drove away shortly after the 4Runner was saved from the mud pit. One anonymous eyewitness who happened to be driving behind the monster trucks stated that the two vehicles had directly left from seeing Disney’s Planes: Fire And Rescue.

Did the new Planes movie help inspire the monster trucks to be on the look-out for smaller vehicles they could rescue? It’s possible.

1985 Toyota 4Runner funny

Some wonder if, in the likeness of the anonymous kindness of comic book super heroes, there will be more stories to come which tell of other monster trucks helping out drivers in need out there on the road.

It is also uncertain what exactly caused such a large area of deep mud so close to the main road. Large, asteroid-like clumps of rocky mud were also discovered near the site of the rescue.

We can only hope that where people are in despair, heroes continue to mysteriously appear to save them.

As for now, to the monster school bus and Crusader… whoever and wherever you are, your good works have not gone unnoticed.

1985 Toyota 4Runner funny

Dear Jack: New Infographic- Success is Not Just Hard Work — Your Social Opportunities Could Shape Your Future

3 years, 8 months.

Nashville family

Dear Jack,

There is (and should be) a certain amount of undeniable pressure as your parent to ensure you have great opportunities throughout your life; if not better than what I’ve had.

While it may sound petty or pretentious that I’ve been mentioning our goal to move into “a house in the right school district” here in Nashville, it’s something I feel I need to take seriously. I want you to have exposure to the best education and technology as I reasonably can.

I was one of the first in my family to get a college degree; that was a pretty big deal. But these days, it seems the 4 year college degree is now the high school diploma of 1981, the year I was born.

In other words, I realize for you to really get ahead in your career, Mommy and I are responsible for making sure we help you take advantage of the social opportunities you encounter along the way; as well as the ones you purposely seek out along the way.

This new infographic below, “Success is Not Just Hard Work — Your Social Opportunities Could Shape your Future,” points out some of the social opportunities that can really enhance your future and career:

Environment, technology, finances, culture, and lifestyle.

Now that I really think about it, these 5 particular elements are crucial to furthering your career.

For example, you can have a college degree with an MBA, but if you’re not extremely familiar with the culture you live in, or if you don’t live off a strict budget, you can still totally be set back.

So I take it upon myself, as your dad, to help you obtain a healthy balance of these social opportunities.

After all, the school system (as well as most universities) don’t value the importance of teaching their students how to do a personal budget.

But coming from your Mommy and Daddy, who just a few years ago were $58,000 in debt, and who are now in the positive enough to be “snowballing” the down payment for our new house, I promise we will teach you the value of a budget.

I agree with the title of the infographic: Success is not just hard work.

We’ll teach you everything we know, Son.

Social Opportunities

Dear Jack: New Infographic- Rent Vs. Own: Which Option Is Best For You?

3 years, 8 months.

Dear Jack,

I’ve been mentioning to you about our family’s plans to move out of our townhouse and into “a real house with a yard and one that’s in the right school discrict.” (That’s important here in Nashville.)

After having owned our townhouse for 6 years now, we are finally at the point at which we could sell it and actually make a profit.

For now it’s sort of a waiting game, as we continue to build our savings after having gone debt-free a year ago. Meanwhile, the prices in the neighborhoods we are considering moving to are now affordable… but how long?

The paradox: The longer we wait to move from our townhouse (as we continue to put more in savings for the down payment on our next house and watch the value of our townhouse continue to rise), the more likely the prices will also rise on the house we want to move into.

When should we move? We’ve got our sights on early next year.

This brand-new infographic below does a great job explaining which option is better, renting or owning. While it doesn’t relate to us in that we already own our townhouse instead of renting it, it does relate in helping me personally see that by owning it 7 years makes it more of an investment than selling it sooner.

Ten years would be ideal, but again, we have to keep watch on prices of the neighborhoods we’re interested in.

It’s hard to imagine what it will be like actually moving into the house that our family plans to live in for the rest of your childhood.

We’ve been working towards this goal for a while now.

I remember back in the days when it seemed the value of our townhome would stay in the negative forever.

But we’ve worked hard to pay off our debts, save our money, and keep a close eye on what’s going on out there.

Maybe by early next year…




Infographic courtesy of SpareFoot.

Courtesy of: SpareFoot


Dear Jack: Review Of Suitable Fireworks For Small Children To Watch

3 years, 7 months.

Review Of Suitable Fireworks For Small Children

Dear Jack,

This past July 4th, you were finally old enough to truly appreciate the observation of fireworks. I was just as happy as you were to go to the Tennessee/Alabama state line to pick up our stash of fireworks that I felt would be appropriate for you to witness; not to actual ignite yourself. (Obviously.)

Well, except for the super snaps…


With great pride, I chose the finest array of made in China fireworks I could find for our family:

Snakes, color smoke balls (smoke bombs), moon travellers (bottle rockets), attack vehicles (tanks), cocks crowing (chickens), party poppers, super snaps (snap & pops), turbo flashes, and “new small bees.”

I wanted to make sure you would be able to see some tamer, more cartoonish versions of what might be exciting at a big fireworks show.


To my surprise, your absolute favorite were what I called the smoke bombs, but labelled as “color smoke balls,” which sounds less violent, I suppose.

I think next year, I’ll just buy like 6 packs of those and a box of super snaps, and you will be just fine. Those were the things that excited you the most.

Review Of Suitable Fireworks For Small Children

If the smoke balls won 1st place, and the super snaps won 2nd, then I’d say that coming in at 3rd place would be the snakes. You weren’t too impressed when I lit them up alone. The real show was lighting a pack at a time, which is 6.

Review Of Suitable Fireworks For Small Children

From there, the lesser fireworks to you seemed to be the louder ones. You did like the sparks flying out of the turbo flash; it was like a mini, festive explosion… but you only appreciated it from across the lawn.

Review Of Suitable Fireworks For Small Children

While I personally have always loved the hilarious chickens and tanks, they were a bit to unnerving for you; as they suddenly screeched into a fiery demise.

Review Of Suitable Fireworks For Small Children

As for the “new small bees,” they hardly cost anything, but basically just vanished into the air and were gone.


After your Uncle Andrew and I shot off all the good stuff, we helped out Nonna and Papa by blowing up some ant hills, in classic Alabama style.

fireworks review

I know you had as much fun as I did seeing your first backyard fireworks show. But like I said, if all I would have bought were smoke bombs and super snaps, you would have been just as happy.