Dear Holly: Your 1st Time to the Circus (Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Xtreme)

7 months.

Dear Holly: Your 1st Time at the Circus (Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Xtreme)

Dear Holly,

One of the many things I love about you is how sincerely excited and open-minded to whatever new thing Mommy and I place in front of you. It was obvious you could sense the excitement as we packed you up for the hour-long drive from Spring Hill to Nashville, to see Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Xtreme.

Dear Holly: Your 1st Time to the Circus (Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Xtreme)

I was always fascinated by the idea of a person being shot out of a canon at a circus. As of today, I finally got to see it happen myself. Leading up the circus this week, your brother Jack was so excited about the canon that he drew a picture at school to celebrate.

Dear Holly: Your 1st Time to the Circus (Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Xtreme)

Yes- we really got to see a person shot out of a canon, across the area. And actually, it was a lady!

Dear Holly: Your 1st Time to the Circus (Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Xtreme)

While our family thoroughly enjoyed the circus last year (while Mommy was pregnant with you), I undoubtedly appreciated the show even more this time around. It such an eclectic and old-world feel.

To say you were fascinated by it all would probably be an understatement.

Dear Holly: Your 1st Time to the Circus (Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Xtreme)

Granted, your brother was just as intrigued. It is a very unusual event to see people doing the things these amazing performers are able to do.  They truly are talented.

To say you were fascinated by it all would probably be an understatement. h9

During intermission, our family was lucky enough to have one of the clowns come up to our row and talk to us. You loved meeting her! I think if it were up to you, you would have liked for her to hold you for the rest of the show.

To say you were fascinated by it all would probably be an understatement.

h13

Your brother decided he wanted to sit in Mommy’s lap for the 2nd half of the show, so that meant you sat on my lap. You bounced in awe and wonder the whole time!

To say you were fascinated by it all would probably be an understatement.

At 7 months old, I don’t know that you’ll remember anything you saw at the circus today, but I know I definitely look forward to taking you back next year.

Love,

Daddy

h14

 

Dear Jack: The Art of “Finding an Activity”, to Properly Focus Your Restless Energy

6 years.

Dear Jack: The Art of “Finding an Activity”, to Properly Focus Your Restless Energy

Dear Jack,

A fairly recent rule I have created for you in our house is this:

“If you can’t figure out what to do, then you’re going upstairs for a nap until you fall asleep.”

You’re a boy. That means you’re full of energy that needs to be directed with a purpose. If not, it becomes restless energy. And I don’t allow restless energy in our house. Because restless energy is not Feng Shui.

I don’t believe in spanking you as a form of punishment. I believe that your “misbehavior” has everything to do with me properly attending to your needs, based on you being either hungry, tired, bored, lonely, or sick.

So I know that if you’re acting a little crazy, yet you’ve recently eaten, and aren’t due for a nap, you likely are bored. You need me to remind you that you are responsible for entertaining yourself.

Dear Jack: The Art of “Finding an Activity”, to Properly Focus Your Restless Energy

We have a house full of toys and games and crafts. Plus, if the weather allows, and I’m not in the middle of taking care of your sister, I’m always eager to take you outside and burn some curious energy with you.

As for this past weekend, I was quite proud of you for how you figured out what to do, in the midst of nasty weather outside.

Saturday morning, as a family, we ventured to Target and bought a new Hoover vacuum cleaner. After you helped me unbox it back at the house, you were quick to take the box and turn it into a spaceship of sorts.

Then you spent most of the rest of the evening using the Styrofoam from the packaging; using it to make scientific experiments in; using water, leftover Halloween candy, and Christmas stamps.

Dear Jack: The Art of “Finding an Activity”, to Properly Focus Your Restless Energy

And on Sunday, after you and Mommy decorated the Christmas tree while I cleaned the bathrooms, you decided to use some of the extra lights to illuminate your bedroom.

You really are a creative kid. You just need me sometimes me to remind you that with your talent comes a built-in responsibility to actually do something with that talent.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: The Art of “Finding an Activity”, to Properly Focus Your Restless Energy

Dear Holly: You are Officially Learning to Crawl

7 months.

Dear Holly: You are Officially Learning to Crawl

Dear Holly,

I have to remind myself that babies don’t just start crawling all at once. Instead, there is a subtle process leading up to it. And I’d have to say, you’re clearly in it right now.

It was like the moment you were able to start sitting up on your own was the moment you realized that you had the necessary basic skills to start teaching yourself to crawl.

The hardwood floor in the kitchen works pretty well for you, as compared to the carpet in the living room.

Mommy and I were seeing you go through the motions of crawling… without actually moving. You wanted it so bad. After our past couple of visits to Alabama when you saw your Cousin Darla crawling, you’ve set a goal to be able to join her.

Dear Holly: You are Officially Learning to Crawl

And you’re now showing some actual movement.

Over the weekend, Mommy motivated you by placing her phone a few feet away from you. Then I did the same thing with an empty bag of Bear Naked Granola Bites. You love squeezing empty, noisy bags. It is quite the authentic motivation for you.

I realize that you’ll be keeping me that much more on my toes once you’re able to crawl around, but I really won’t mind. This past week, I’ve really appreciated the fact I’ve been able to help Mommy prepare and clean up dinner.

Up until now, it’s been necessary for me to sit on the floor with you. Now that you can sit up, you enjoy having “activity time” on the floor.

I’m not rushing you growing up, but I definitely celebrate you accomplishing new things.

It’s like you are able to reason that the next big thing in life for you is being able to crawl. It’s like I can tell you want to do this not only for yourself, but also Mommy and me.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: You are Officially Learning to Crawl

Dear Holly: I Predict You Will Look Like Willa, the American Girl Doll

7 months.

Dear Holly: I Predict You Will Look Like Willa, the American Girl Doll

Dear Holly,

Last week an ad showed up on Mommy’s Facebook page, advertising American Girl. Mommy clicked on the ad, after catching a glimpse of a doll with your complexion. As she saw a close-up of the doll, which is named Willa, she realized that the doll looks so much like what Mommy and I think you will look like, that we might just have to get the Willa doll for you for your 1st birthday coming up in April.

I did a side-by-side photo comparison of you and Willa. You just happened to be wearing an outfit with a pink kitty on it, like Willa has on her shirt.

Willa has red hair- as for yours, we’re not sure yet which color it will be: Up close, your hair is light blond. But from several feet away, it has a reddish tint. Plus, it was even redder a couple of months ago.

So Mommy and I just assume we have a precious little future redhead on our hands. I think the red hair is really what caught Mommy’s attention when she saw the ad.

Even the spunky bunny ears Willa is wearing, along with the matching almost-Bohemian shirt pattern, is in alignment with my vision of what you will be like as you grow up.

So yeah, I guess at this point we kind of have to get the Willa doll for you, even if it’s more for us than it is for you right now. Mommy and I love imagining how you’ll be once you evolve into a little girl.

It’s just too easy to imagine that you’ll be a happy, beautiful, and adventurous little girl, since that’s what kind of baby you are.

You can probably see that I am sort of fascinated by you.

Love,

Daddy

http://www.americangirl.com/shop/willa-doll-dnj70

Manly Vegan: Today I’ve Been a Vegetarian for 5 Years (and Clearly, I’m Getting Enough Protein)

Manly Vegan: Today I’ve Been a Vegetarian for 5 Years (and Clearly, I’m Getting Enough Protein)

Thanksgiving 2008 was the last time I ate ham, bacon, or any kind of pork; or shellfish of any kind- like shrimp, lobster, crab, or scallops. In other words, since the day after Thanksgiving 2008, I became and have remained kosher. That’s been 8 years now.

Since then, I only further slid down the slippery slope; eventually becoming and remaining a vegetarian in December 2011 and a vegan in April 2013.

Manly Vegan: Today I’ve Been a Vegetarian for 5 Years (and Clearly, I’m Getting Enough Protein)

What makes this particularly interesting is that I am a male. Our American culture teaches and accepts that eating bacon and beef is a particularly masculine thing to do. Most American vegetarians and vegans are females. So therefore, my being a male vegan is especially counter-cultural.

Granted, I feel no less masculine despite what I (don’t) eat.

It was exactly five years ago today I decided to adopt an American alternative lifestyle: I stopped eating meat. Somewhat to my surprise, my wife immediately joined me in my crazy decision. And our 1 year-old son got thrown into it as well.

Now he’s 6 years-old and has no interest in eating meat. I should also point out my wife and I also have a 7 month-old daughter now, who currently is a vegetarian by default.

Manly Vegan: Today I’ve Been a Vegetarian for 5 Years (and Clearly, I’m Getting Enough Protein)

I have to say this, though: Becoming a vegetarian is not a choice I want you to make- nor do I need you to become a vegetarian either. I want to be very clear about that.

Instead, I beg you to keep eating sausage, bacon, burgers, and fried chicken. In fact, I cordially invite you to stop reading this immediately and eat a big juicy McRib right now. Yes, I endorse that…

Manly Vegan: Today I’ve Been a Vegetarian for 5 Years (and Clearly, I’m Getting Enough Protein)

Why wouldn’t I? What other families eat has nothing to do with me- just like I could care less which candidate anybody else voted for in the recent election. My emotional state of being wouldn’t change no matter the outcome.

I’m like Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive: “I don’t care!”

Proving that being a vegetarian is the better way of life is no agenda of mine. In fact, I envy eat meaters. I seriously do.

If you’re part of the majority of America, meaning that you are not a vegetarian, then you get to eat meat. Whenever you want. As much as you want. You have much more freedom than I do- and you have a certain kind of happiness in your life that I’ll never again enjoy: the scandalous feeling of devouring a cheeseburger.

As for me, I have learned I can’t be trusted with such responsibility.

I have learned that when it comes to eating meat, I have never nor would I ever just simply eat the maximum 4 to 7 ounces serving per day that nutritionists recommend. I always ate least double that; each meal, every meal.

Mentally, I’m not strong enough to overcome the desire to keep eating meat. I was never truly satisfied with meat… there was never enough no matter how much I ate.

The irony is that by restricting myself to no meat at all, I can be in control of my desires and my appetite. Because that way, there’s not room for gray. There’s no possibility of eating too much meat if I can’t have meat at all.

My protein comes from 6 main sources: vegetables, fruits, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds.

I will openly admit to having very selfish motives to becoming a vegetarian: It’s an easy way to manage my weight, I never have indigestion issues anymore, and it led to me becoming a vegan; which ultimately wiped out my ongoing eczema, sinus issues, and pet allergies.

Those personal issues have nothing to do with the rest of the world. Instead, my reasons are self-centered. So there is no need to try convert anyone. I’m simply selfish in my reasons for being a vegetarian.

Perhaps I would be a better human being if I did care more; if I did spend some efforts in trying to convince people to be healthier by cutting out meat from their diets.

But I’m simply uninspired. I learned early on that most people are still convinced that by becoming a vegetarian, they will not get enough protein in their diet.

Manly Vegan: Today I’ve Been a Vegetarian for 5 Years (and Clearly, I’m Getting Enough Protein)

Clearly, I’ve proved that theory to be false in my own life. After all, I’ve lived this for 5 solid years. I would know!

Sure, I lost weight when I became a vegetarian. But look at me now. I’m not a skeleton. I look healthy. And I am healthy- my doctor confirmed this.

Even it means I am selfish, I would rather other people keep believing they need to eat meat to be healthy; even though I know it’s not true in my own life. By me trying to convince them against what they’ve been taught their whole lives, it endangers me of reinforcing the stereotype that vegetarians are judgmental and overzealous.

So now at the risk of sounding jaded instead, I invite absolutely no one else in the world to join me by becoming a vegetarian.

(Of course, it’s a whole different story if you approach me about becoming a vegetarian or vegan. In that case, I will be honored to guide you!)

Now, please- go to the McDonald’s drive-thru and order a McRib. It’s not too late. They’re still open. Actually, I hear you can get 2 for $5 right now…

Dear Jack: I Experience Guilt for Not Being Able to Spend as Much Time with You Right Now

6 years.

Dear Jack: I Experience Guilt for Not Being Able to Spend as Much Time with You Right Now

Dear Jack,

Once we got back from our Thanksgiving trip to Nonna and Papa’s in Alabama, as we were walking through the front door of our house, I put my arm around your shoulder and said, “You did so good on the trip. I am really proud of you.”

As I was saying those words, it’s like it hit me all at once: You were so independent. You didn’t really need me for much the whole time. I didn’t have to worry about you.

Though I was in the same house as you, and often the same room, you and I were interacting with other family members instead of each other; compared to the norm.

So you and I didn’t really have much quality time together, though we did with other members of the family who we don’t see as often.

We did the right thing. After all, the holidays is for catching up with people you don’t see as often.

Yet, I suppose I still somehow experienced some guilt over it. Because as we settled back in after Thanksgiving, I realized how much of my time is required by your sister Holly.

For me to be a good husband and good parent, I have to be holding a baby most of the time we are all together at the house. While I am proud to take care of your sister, I recognize that the days of you and I just being able to hang out anytime are sort of on hold for right now.

Before your sister was born, we could just easily run upstairs and watch a stupid movie together or go outside for a hike.

But these days, my mobility is greatly restricted by me taking care of your sister while Mommy concentrates on the majority of the housework; like cooking and laundry.

I miss our time together. Things will eventually get back closer to how they were before. But honestly, I think it will be another 5 months or so, when your sister turns a year old.

You’re such a good kid. I don’t want to miss out on truly living every minute I can with you.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Your 1st Thanksgiving

7 months.

Dear Holly: Your 1st Thanksgiving

Dear Holly,

You turned 7 months old on Thanksgiving, which was your very first Thanksgiving, by the way. It was a larger gathering than normal for us, as your Uncle Andrew’s parents were in town. Plus, your Great-Uncle Al and Great-Aunt Sharon visited us as well.

Dear Holly: Your 1st Thanksgiving a3 a4 a5

Something I officially realized about you during this holiday is that you genuinely love being passed around to different people. It’s a win-win. You love being held- and people love holding you.

Dear Holly: Your 1st Thanksgiving a12 a14 a15 a17

In particular, you like to test people out and their cuddling abilities. It’s hilarious to watch you just lay your head down into a person’s shoulder within a minute of meeting them. You naturally assume that everyone wants to be your friend- and you’re right!

You automatically smile real big anytime you see a new person, so naturally, they want to hold this smiley baby girl.

As I look through these pictures, I love seeing the obvious difference in skin tone, comparing yours to pretty much everyone else in our family. I know I probably mention this a lot, but it really is fascinating to me how you have collected the rarest of genes from the family tree.

We had a vegan Mexican feast for Thanksgiving. Meanwhile, you were introduced to a new baby food: applesauce and prunes. Fortunately for your digestion, you liked the combo. I am so happy you are able to rely less on formula and more on solid foods.

Your brother was happy because he got some birthday presents; a Lego set and an electronic board set.

Dear Holly: Your 1st Thanksgiving a7 a8 a10 a13 a16

Before everyone left, we took some family pictures. We should do that more often.

Dear Holly: Your 1st Thanksgiving

So there you go- that’s what you did during your very first Thanksgiving! And now we’re less than a month away from your first Christmas. I’m really excited about what Mommy and I got you for your main gift…

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Your 1st Thanksgiving