Dear Holly: Thanksgiving Break Begins!

4 years, 7 months.

Dear Holly,

As the holiday season has now begun, you have had so much fun already, spending time with your cousins. You got to spend the night with your cousin Darla, who just turned 5.

I know that whatever the two of you got into, you were having a blast.

I am really looking forward to the holidays and all the time we will spend with family; this year, more than ever. I’ve even packed board games for us to play during Thanksgiving.

However, I noticed all the character pieces are missing in our Monopoly set. I think you might have something to do with that…



Dear Jack: We’ve Kept Your Pet Hamster Alive for a Year Now!

10 years.

Dear Jack,

When you turned 9 years old, a year ago, your main gift was your first pet ever- a Syrian hamster.

We had quite a learning curve those first couple of months, trying to figure out A) how to keep it alive, B) how to keep it happy, and C) how to get you to be happy about having a hamster; despite the responsibilities that come with having a pet, as it took time for us to tame an animal and have him get used to us.

But these days, we are well-versed in how to accomplish all three of those things.

Now, Alpha (AKA: “Mr. Sniffer”), is a solid member of the Shell family.

It wasn’t easy at first- in fact, it was pretty terrifying.

But I am proud of our decision to stick with it; and to not return him to the pet store during those first 30 days when we could have.

Having a hamster has been a good thing for you and our family.






When You Reconnect with a High School Friend and It’s Like Picking Up Right Where You Left Off

I have no memory of actually meeting William Coulter. He transferred in from Colorado our junior year of high school and it seems we just immediately and effortlessly became friends.

We never even had a class together. But we ended up hanging out together a lot, as teenagers in a small mountain town in Alabama.

I think it started when we went to go see Adam Sandler’s new movie at the time, Big Daddy.

Then William came to some church youth function where the manager of Hardee’s donated hundreds of burgers to feed everyone. Yet still after the event ended, there were dozens of hamburgers left- and because I personally knew the manager, she gave me all the left overs to take home.

So I took two garbage bags full of unwrapped hamburgers to my house that night. William and I decided to make our challenge to eat a minimum of 24 burgers throughout the hours of the night.

We failed. But we ate more for breakfast that next morning.

There was also the time, on a very short notice and a whim, that we went on a road trip to Pensacola, Florida our senior year. Our high school had allotted us a few days to go look at colleges and we hadn’t used them up yet. So we hopped on a van and visited a very conservative college that we had no intentions on attending. (See the picture where he and I were buried in the sand from 1999.)

And thinking back on our adventures driving my parents’ Ford Aerostar minivan, equipped with paintball guns, out on back roads at night, it easily reminds me of the Alan Jackson song, “We got a little crazy but we never got caught…”

Now, we are both married and have two kids who are nearly the same ages. Another coincidence is that his wife’s name is Holly, while my wife and I named our daughter Holly. And our son’s middle name is William.

Last weekend, my dad officially unveiled his new playground, which he has been building for years now. After remembering that William and his family only live a little more than an hour away from my parents’ house, I invited his family over.

My sister’s family was there too; whose children are also in the same age range; a total of three 4 year-olds, two 9 year olds, and one 11 year-old. Our families ended up all being a perfect match, as expected.

William is one of those close friends where we always pick up right where we left off. We get older, along with our hilarious shared memories from high school.

But we relate to each other just as easily now in 2020, as we did in the late 1990s.

Dear Holly: Have I Called You “Daddy’s Girl” Yet?

4 years, 4 months.

Dear Holly,

Either I say this all the time or somehow I’ve only implied it so often I figured it didn’t need to say it…

But for the record, I totally claim you as “Daddy’s Girl”.

What helped me realize this is when Grandma got you a shirt that says that on it.

And it wasn’t really even until I took a picture of you wearing the shirt that I processed what it said:

That “Daddy’s Girl” is obviously how I see you.

You and I have a special connection that I don’t have with anyone else in this entire world.



Dear Holly: Your New Pre-K Big Girl Bed!

4 years, 3 months.

Dear Holly,

As a convenient side effect of Mommy needing to move the guest bed out of the office to accommodate your brother starting 4th grade from the guest room, you have now inherited the guest bed as your own!

That means you got moved up from your little bed to a very big, comfy one!

You are very proud to move up to your “big girl bed”, which happens to line up with you starting Pre-K.

The next step is to paint your bedroom pink; hopefully Labor Day Weekend.

I know you are going to love it!