Dear Jack: Today was Your Last Day of 2nd Grade

8 and a half years years old.

Dear Jack,

Exactly a week after turning 8 and a half years old, today was your last day as a 2nd grader.

It’s also been one of those weeks where Mommy and I both noticed individually, and then announced to each other, that you seem bigger all of the sudden.

And I’m sure that is the case. With my birthday being in April, by the time I was 8 and a half years old, I was already a couple of months into my 3rd grade year.

You’ve got a fun summer ahead, including “Zoo Camp” for a week at the Nashville Zoo, as well as our upcoming family vacation in Lake Tahoe and Sacramento next month.

In a few more months, you’ll officially be a 3rd grader. But first, it’s time to have some fun summer adventures!

Love,

Daddy

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Dear Holly: I Will Remember These Sweet Days for You

3 years.

Dear Holly,

I’m not sure how much of your life as a 3 year-old that you will go on to remember the rest of your life, but I can tell you: These are the sweet days.

Everything you do is just so cute. So sweet.

Last weekend as our family was riding in our Jeep down a road where you saw cows out in the field, you announced, “It’s moo cows!”

Mommy and I looked at each other and said, “That’s sweet!”

A few seconds later, you looked out and saw a very small pond, then announced, “Water!”

Mommy I looked at each again, and with a little hesitation this time, laughed and still said, “That’s sweet!”.

That’s the moment we officially realized that these are the days when everything you do is just so sweet.

And since you’re not likely to remember most of what you’re experiencing now as a 3 year-old, with these pictures and stories I share each week, I am doing my best in real time to help you remember, years from now.

Love,

Daddy

The Hierarchy of Jeep Wranglers and Why I Refuse to Have a Stick Figure Family on My Back Window (and Have a Metallica Snake Instead)

As much it’s an important part of my identity not to be judgmental towards other people, I am willing to admit my weakness in this area:

I have tasted from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Real Jeeps Vs. Mom Minivan Jeeps. My eyes have seen the truth.

The truth is, while a Jeep Wrangler is still a Jeep Wrangler, there is definitely an understood hierarchy among those of us who drive real Jeep Wranglers.

A real Jeep is a 2 door with a manual transmission.

But if it has 4 doors with an automatic transmission, it is ultimately the coolest minivan for moms.

If the only way I could have obtained a Jeep Wrangler was to have gotten the 4 door with a automatic transmission, then I would have.

Fortunately… I own a 2010 Jeep Wrangler Sport 6 Speed. All black with black tinted windows. It’s the real deal.

When I think of the Mom Minivan Jeeps, I think of a stick figure family on the back window.

Not me. I don’t want to be cute.

Instead, I only have one sticker on the back window of my Jeep: The snake from Metallica’s Black Album.

(Buy Metallica’s Black Album here from Amazon.)

It’s send the right message. I drive the Metallica Black Album Jeep Wrangler.

To anyone who perceives that I cut them off in daily commuter traffic, they shouldn’t be surprised when they see my sticker.

To anyone who perceives that I am driving too slowly in front of them (because I am in the same line of traffic they are but I am trying to maintain my speed in 2nd gear without needless downshifting to 1st again because I creep up behind the care in front of me quicker than I had do), they shouldn’t be surprised when they see my sticker.

To any who perceives that I am going too fast or too rough, they shouldn’t be surprised when they see my sticker.

One of the ongoing themes of Metallica’s music is embracing that fact that as human being are not the “good” people we naturally assume we are; especially as we compare ourselves to others who we perceive has worse morals.

Songs like “Sad But True”, “Devil’s Dance”, “Am I Savage?” and “Master of Puppets” carry a theme of recognizing the we as individuals continue to give control over our emotions and decisions to other people and/or vices; as opposed to making the conscious decision to take control ourselves.

The Metallica Black Album Jeep Wrangler is amoral. The Metallica Black Album Jeep Wrangler is chaotic neutral. The Metallica Black Album Jeep Wrangler has no emotions.

So yeah, a stick figure family wouldn’t be a good representation of the identity of the driver of my Jeep; even if, somewhat ironically, there truly is a fun-loving American family of 4 riding inside.

2010 Jeep Wrangler Date Night: Seeing Sara Evans and Fairground Saints at The City Winery in Nashville, Tennessee

This past Saturday, my wife and I did something we have only done once before in our 8 and a half years of being parents: We hired a babysitter!

And if you know us in real life, you know how strange that truly is. Because when it comes to money, we are extremely conservative. We never leave the house without the kids unless our parents are visiting from out of state.

But yes, we not only paid a babysitter for the night but we also paid full price for tickets to see Sara Evans and Fairground Saints perform at The City Winery in Nashville; which is about 40 miles away from the bedroom community we live in.

And on top of all that, we got to take our new Jeep (it’s a 2010 with 60K miles, but we paid cash for it, thanks to being faithful followers of Dave Ramsey) to Nashville for the first time.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Everywhere we go is automatically more fun when we go in the Jeep!

It’s always seemed a bit ironic that though I was born and raised in Fort Payne, Alabama, while my wife was born and raised outside of Sacramento, California, yet she is the big country music fan.

With that being said, Fairground Saints (pictured above) are actually from Santa Barbara, California.

We stopped halfway there to have a glorious dinner at Local Taco in Brentwood. When you and your spouse have spent the greater half of this past decade being a vegan and vegetarian, you can try to imagine how awesome eating “normal food” is again…

It was so good, I’m already plotting the next time we can go back so I can have the Korean BBQ Braised Beef, as well as the Nashville Hot Chicken tacos again!

As for the show, this makes our 2nd time to see a performance at The City Winery in Nashville. I’m convinced at this point, it’s undeniably my favorite place to see musicians perform in the entire Nashville area.

The place is classy, intimidate, and a lot of fun.

So this is what it’s like to hire a babysitter and drive out to Nashville for a date night?

We really should do this more often!

Dear Jack: Our 1st Time Driving Our Jeep to Your Soccer Game

8 and a half years old.

Dear Jack,

Just in time for you to turn 8 and a half years old, and before your spring soccer season came to an end, we were able to drive our Jeep to one of your games.

Our Jeep has the ability for just the front half of the top to come off (as well as the whole thing). Your game was during a 3 day stretch where I just left off the “Freedom Panels” the entire time; even when I left the Jeep in the parking lot at work.

Needless to say, we all enjoyed our drive to your soccer game.

You don’t have a soccer dad. You have a Jeep dad!

And that’s good for you, because you get to be a Jeep son.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: You Should See Me in a Crown

3 years.

Dear Holly,

Last weekend for your brother’s soccer game, as we watched from the field, you discovered a toy crown that apparently someone had left behind.

Your response was pretty much immediate. You started trying on the crown, inspired from our nightly bed time stories about Anna and Elsa.

You never access to such a realistic looking crown before. So as simple as it was, you had a lot of fun putting it own, as I happen to take several pictures of you having fun with it.

Sometimes it’s those completely unplanned pictures than actually turn out to be the best!

 

Love,

Daddy

2010 Jeep Wrangler JK Sport 4WD 6 Speed: Family Ride in Percy Warner Park in Nashville, Tennessee

It’s been two weeks now that I finally obtained my dream vehicle, a Jeep Wrangler. As part of the fun for Mother’s Day for my wife, I announced we would be going for our very first family leisurely drive through the not-so-faraway Jeep-friendly spot: Percy Warner Park in Nashville.

This weekend’s drive confirmed what I always believed about owning a Jeep Wrangler; that you don’t simply own a vehicle, you own a mobile amusement park.

Automatically, anywhere you drive is suddenly more exciting. The view is undeniably better. Whenever you see a road you want to go down, or go up, that you wouldn’t normally be able to… well, now you can.

And we did. Many times.

There is no fear of getting stuck in the mud, because now we have 4 wheel drive.

There is no fear of not being able to turn around if we get to the end of a narrow dead-end road, because the Jeep is so short.

There is no fear of boredom, because we are ultimately riding in a mini monster truck.

Something really crazy about my 7 and a half year journey to finally getting my Jeep Wrangler is that I never ever drove one until I had already bought mine!

That’s how much I knew I was destined to own one.

I can’t remember the last time I bought anything for myself that made me so happy.

When you’re the husband and the father, you just sort of go along with whatever is going on with your family. There was honestly nothing I needed or even wanted anyway.

Except for the Jeep, which I couldn’t afford until now; and was able to pay cash for. (My wife and I are very serious about Dave Ramsey!)

But this Jeep isn’t just for me: My whole family enjoys it.

It’s simply more fun to drive now; even in bumper to bumper commuter Nashville traffic.

That’s how good a Jeep Wrangler is.