Dear Holly: The $2.99 Chocolate Puppy Cake from Kroger

1 year, 11 months.

Dear Holly,

Last week, our family managed to make it through all of the 1st season of Nailed It! on Netflix. I had suggested your brother check out the show, after I had spent the week before watching both seasons of Master of None, where the main character who is an aspiring actor, has to settle for being the host of a show called Clash of the Cupcakes.

And yes, Nailed It! was every bit as silly as I imagined it to be, based on the fictional concept of Clash of the Cupcakes and the Internet meme. And yes, your brother genuinely loved the cake competition show as much as I knew he would.

Last weekend, your brother announced to me in the car, as I was taking him hiking while you were home with Mommy:

“Hey Daddy… Mommy said we could look at cakes at Kroger and maybe get one.”

So after our hike, I let Jack look at cakes. To my amazement, there was a chocolate puppy cake for only $2.99. I had no issues paying so little money for a cake so cool; a cake I knew that both you and your brother would enjoy.

As we walked in the door, Jack and I both announced to you,

“Holly, we brought home a puppy cake!”

Your response: “Puppy? Puppy. Puppy!

So after we ate our veggie soup that Mommy had cooking on the crock pot, Mommy cut the puppy cake for dessert for you and your brother.

Jack immediately dived in, as if it were his birthday. (In reality, it’s your birthday and mine that are coming up.)

To my surprise though, you didn’t really care about eating the cake. You just wanted to play with the plastic cover the cake came in.

You had a great time walking around the kitchen and living room with it on your face like a mask. Then you enjoyed stomping on it in the likeness of Justin Timberlake smashing the disco ball on one of his album covers.

Your brother loved the cake. You loved the container it came in. Classic.

Love,

Daddy

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Dear Jack: You Chose “Poop” as Your Theme for Dress Up Day at School… and Totally Got Away with It!

7 years, 5 months.

Dear Jack,

Last Friday your class unlocked a special day at school due to your collective good behavior. Your whole class got to participate in “Dress Up Day”, meaning you could have worn pajamas or a hat, or something a little out of the ordinary like that.

As I got you ready for the bus last Friday morning, I saw that on your own, you decided to adopt the theme of “poop” for your special day with your friends.

You pulled out your poop emoji hat from your closet, the one you bought from a street vendor; as a souvenir at the Monster Jam truck show in Nashville last year.

Then you found the “pooping moose” key chain I got you as a souvenir several years ago when GM flew me up to Detroit.

It was clear: You saw “Dress Up Day” as the perfect subtle opportunity to promote poop awareness at school.

Just like the week before when you took it upon yourself to craft a real cobra head necklace to wear to school, you had used your own creativity once again; and never needed to ask Mommy or me what you should wear for this special event.

As I hugged you goodbye right before you hopped on the bus, I thought to myself, “Is there a chance he’s going to be sent home for wearing this to school? Or best case scenario, will he have to take off the hat and necklace as soon as his teacher sees what he’s wearing?”

Fortunately, that was not the case at all.

When you got home that day from school, one of my first questions for you was, “So what did your teacher think of what you wore for Dress Up Day?”

You smiled and announced to me, “She told me she liked it.”

Okay, then. Well, that’s that.

You went to school wearing a poop emoji hat and a pooping moose necklace and it was no big deal.

Good for you. You’re a creative kid!

Love,

Daddy

 

When Your College Roommate from Nearly 16 Years Ago Reaches Out to You to Tell You He’ll Be Visiting in Nashville and You Actually Meet Up

I live in the Nashville, Tennessee area. I will occasionally see on Facebook or Instagram where people I went to college with were recently here and I’ll think, “I wish I would have known they were coming. I would have tried to meet up with them!” Perhaps too, it’s that people I knew from my twenties don’t realize I’ve lived here since 2005.

After all, Nashville truly is a cool city. Having just watched both seasons of Netflix’s Master of None in less than 7 days, I am freshly familiar with there even being a pivotal episode named after the city and that was filmed in the iconic spots downtown.

A month ago, I received a message from my college roommate from Liberty University from the 2002-2003 school year. It was Chris Haley, who introduced me to the concept that the state of Delaware actually exists, with its “no sales tax” and just 3 counties. (I visited his family one weekend with a car load of other students.)

He informed me his wife’s friend would be getting married in Nashville, and having learned that I became a stay-at-home dad 6 months ago, he figured I might be able to find a way to actually meet up. He was correct.

So this morning, we met at Legacy Coffee Co. and had a great time. I even talked him into being a special guest star on my YouTube channel with nearly 4,000 subscribers.

Back when we first met in Dorm 15 at Liberty University in the fall of 2002, he was 17 and I was 21.

Something we talked about today is just how much you don’t know about anything when you’re that age. So it’s really interesting to see how much we’ve changed, now that we’re ages 33 and 36 (though I turn 37 in a week).

What we learned is that despite not being around each other in about 15 years, after having lived in very close quarters for that entire year, was that we actually grew more alike having been apart so long.

We both are proud Libertarians now. And we both love playing our Martin guitars.

Of course I couldn’t not bring up that (in)famous picture from 2002 where, as a joke, he bought a fake silver shirt and fake leather pants and wore them at an event at our college. For the rest of the year, people who had figured out he was my roommate would come up to me and ask, “Was he serious about those clothes?”

I always loved to respond, “I’m not really sure…”

So yeah, it’s a pretty cool thing when you make plans to catch up with someone from back in the days when Creed and Nickelback were still kind of cool, and then you actually catch up with that person, and you genuinely have a great time.

And selfishly, I’ll admit as a stay-at-home dad, it was nice getting out of the house and hanging out with another guy!

Dear Jack: You Made a Real Cobra Head Necklace and Wore It to School… So Yeah, That’s Pretty Awesome.

7 years, 4 months.

Dear Jack,

Unlike Indiana Jones, you are clearly not afraid of snakes.

Last week, you found an old key chain I brought back as a souvenir from Thailand, when I was in college. I had bought it from this man who professionally hunted and skinned snakes. He used the leftover heads for key chains.

Realizing you could disconnect the crystal arrowhead necklace that you got at Ruby Falls during Spring Break, you then replaced the arrowhead with the snake head.

In your own initiative, you had created a cobra head necklace and decided to wear it to school.

As you were leaving that morning for school, I assured you that you’d be the only boy in America to wear a real cobra head necklace to school.

No, this story doesn’t end with me saying that your teacher told you not to wear it to school anymore. You totally got away with wearing the head of a poisonous snake to school.

You came home and bragged to me, “Daddy, on two people thought my cobra snake wasn’t real!”

Coincidentally, just a few days later on Sunday, I had put your sister down for her afternoon nap and decided to take you to play in the creek at Brenthaven in Franklin.

As we were walking across the bridge over the creek, you and I both noticed something we assumed was a rope that had surfaced on a rock, in the middle of the stream.

But as we made our way closer, I announced to you with both caution and joy, “Jack, that’s a real snake!”

I tossed a few pieces of mulch at it- but it never budged. Then I tossed some rocks at it- it still never budged.

Finally, I found a stick long enough to pick it up with. It was obvious the snake was not only dead, but it had been dead there overnight.

You pointed out to me that its tail looked like it had been chewed up. My theory is that a neighborhood dog found the snake and broke its neck by slinging it like a whip, then the snake crawled onto the rock to die.

Turns out, it was either a venomous Cottonmouth or a harmless Brown Watersnake.

But since it was definitely dead, I let you throw rocks at it. I’m pretty sure you’ll remember that day as a highlight of your boyhood.

So yeah, you’re not afraid of snakes.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: I Think You’re Going to Be My Little Wild Child

1 year, 11 months.

Dear Holly,

I am convincing myself that you will not go through The Terrible Two’s. Your brother didn’t. So I want to believe the same can be true for you.

With that being said, your personality is noticeably different than your brother’s was at this age.

For example, it nearly takes Mommy and me both to physically get you dressed in the mornings now, as you’ve made it abundantly clear you believe wearing clothes is a waste of time. You recently crafted a new trick where you ask to go potty, simply so you can get undressed and then run around the house:

“Potty? Potty? Potty?

And like I mentioned last week, during Spring Break at Nonna and Papa’s house, you found a way to climb out of the crib, twice; as a protest to taking your daily afternoon nap. And then when Nonna asked you how you got out of the crib by yourself, you just simply replied, “I climb.”

Your brother has never been shy, but you show a certain fearlessness at such a young age that he didn’t show. There was at least a reluctance he’s shown. As for you, not so much.

And I’m sure it has something to do with the fact that Mommy and I are raising you differently than your brother, by default; since we were first time parents with him.

Raising you, we as the parents are a bit more fearless, as we have an idea of how things generally work now in the world of parenting.

I suppose it doesn’t help that since becoming a stay-at-home dad 6 months ago, you’ve had extra exposure to my exclusive masculine parenting style; alongside having an older brother who I often have to remind to not play so rough with you.

So while I’m confident you’ll never be a tom girl, I am quickly getting the feeling you’re going to be a feisty little girl who knows what she wants; while still charming me with your adorable little smile.

But hey, I’m up for the challenge.

Love,

Daddy

My Mom Just Became the Youngest Looking 60 Year-Old Woman I Know

Today is my mother’s 60th birthday. That really sounds weird to say, because it’s so hard to believe when you see her.

I have an image in my head of what someone is supposed to look like when they are 60, and my mom does not match that image. More than once in my 30s, people have genuinely assumed she is my sister instead.

But in addition to definitely not looking anywhere close to 60 years old, something I really respect about my mom’s perspective on life is this:

She has never once been ashamed of, or afraid of, her age. Whether it was back when she turned 40, and then 50, and now 60, she is simply proud of that somewhat arbitrary number.

A couple of months ago, I actually interviewed my mom on the YouTube channel for Family Friendly Daddy Blog. Feel free to check out the video below, where you can hear her say it herself, that she fully embraces whatever age she is:

I feel that because of how my mom has always viewed her age at the time, I have modeled my own perspective of aging in the same way:

To be vocal about it in everyday conversations is to your remind yourself of how many years you’ve been blessed with life on this planet with the people you love.

It’s very obvious, especially after you watch that video, that it’s against my mom’s identity to focus on the negative aspects of getting older.

Or to use that cliche about it being her 29th birthday instead of her real age.

No, not my mom. She is proud to be 60 years old.

She’s proof that it’s a choice.

You can choose to celebrate each new year of your own life.

Granted, I can’t deny it’s easy for a 60 year-old woman to be proud of her age when she looks so amazing for her age… but still, I know my mom would still feel the same way:

Don’t be ashamed of your age. Be grateful for all the years you’ve lived so far.

Dear Jack: You Were Proudly in Disguise During the Easter Egg Hunt

7 years, 4 months.

Dear Jack,

Fortunately, you didn’t receive too much candy during the Easter egg hunt this past weekend. (I’m pretty sure we’ve still got leftover Halloween candy up in our pantry, actually.) The surprises inside the eggs this year at the egg hunt included a lot of Cracker Jack types of toys.

Honestly, I really don’t know what else you got at the egg hunt, other than a classic disguise kit:

Round glasses attached to thick eyebrows and a big nose.

You ended up wearing the disguise for the rest of the time after the actual egg hunt was over. You even wore it in the picture of you with Nonna and Papa and your cousins.

I guess I could have stopped you. But I didn’t.

You were having fun, so I let you.

One of my favorite parts about you wearing the disguise is that you didn’t acknowledge you were wearing it. You just acted like your normal self during the festivities, almost as if to test the theory:

Will anyone notice I’m wearing this disguise if I don’t talk about it?

It was like you were secretly playing a prank on our family; if not, everyone at the egg hunt.

I think the ironic twist in your social experiment was that no one really said anything because they just assumed, “Oh, that’s just Jack being Jack.”

Or even, “Oh, that’s Nick’s son. That makes sense.”

As for hunting eggs, sure; you still gave it your all. But as you’re now 7 years old, and as you’re finishing up 1st grade, I can see that you’re finding new ways to have fun; beyond just the obvious event.

And this totally reminds me of how I was as as boy, and really, how I still am.

So really, I guess it truly could be summed up as I said before:

“Oh, that’s Nick’s son. That makes sense.”

Love,

Daddy