Dear Holly: If You Were a Cat, You Would Look Like This

4 years, 2 months.

Dear Holly,

Last weekend Mommy and I celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary by visiting Look Out Winery near Chattanooga. We arrived a few minutes before they opened, and as we were making our way over to our table, which overlooked the river, we could help but notice an inviting little cat lying there on the ledge.

Mommy and I immediately both thought the same thing:

If Holly were a cat, this would be her.

She wasn’t a kitten. She seemed fully grown. However, she was more of the size of a kitten. She had big blue almond-shaped eyes.

And of course, she was very friendly, inviting, and playful.

Just like you!

Love,

Daddy

Celebrating Our 12th Wedding Anniversary, During COVID-19, in the Mountains of Tennessee

When my wife and I were planning our wedding over 12 years ago, we strategically chose July 5th as our wedding date; as it would always conveniently be the day after a major national holiday. In other words, we knew we would always either have the day off work before our anniversary, or like this year, get a 3 day weekend out of the deal.

For the past two weekends now, we have ventured out to local wineries near where we live, nearly an hour south of Nashville, Tennessee.

We have sort of stumbled into this fun summer routine on Saturdays.

So for our 12th wedding anniversary, we drove to the outskirts of Chattanooga, about two hours from where we live, to check out both a local winery as well as a brewery.

First we visited Look Out Winery in Guild, which overlooks the river. It marked the first time we visited a Tennessee winery that was just as much a restaurant.

We loved their pizza!

After lunch, we headed down the highway about ten more miles then drove up another mountain to Top of the Rock Restaurant and Brewery in Jasper, Tennessee.

The view was amazing.

We loved it there so much that my wife already decided that is where she would like to spend her 39th birthday, coming up in about 6 weeks on August 11th.

So here’s to a dozen years of knowing I married the right woman… and to celebrating our 12th wedding anniversary during a global pandemic.

Dear Holly: Why I Call You “Squeaky”

4 years, 2 months.

Dear Holly,

Ever since you started really talking, and especially now to the point you are actually chatty, the name I have called you has been “Squeaky”.

You have a soft, sweet little voice, that often sounds sad for no reason.

Any time you tell a story, you often begin with, “Yeah, p’cause…” as if it needs some melancholy explanation.

You make things sound so sad even though they are not actually sad at all.

So to me, the naturally name for you is Squeaky.

Anytime you call out to me to tell me something, with “Daddy…”

I instantly respond with, “Yes, Squeaky?”

That has become the norm for us.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: I Wrote a Song about You This Week- “That Boy’s Been Growing Up on Me”

9 years, 7 months.

Dear Jack,

This week has been unexpectedly emotional for me. You’ve been away on vacation in Florida with Nonna and Papa, as well as Aunt Dana and Uncle Andrew, and your cousins.

I didn’t expect to miss you so much. After all, you’re like 9 year and a half years old now. You’re not a little boy anymore.

And that’s exactly why it hit me so hard…

While I couldn’t possibly be prouder of the boy you’ve become, I’ve been coming to terms with the fact that those days of you being a little boy are gone.

For the past 4 days, I have been journaling my thoughts and feelings through a song I have been writing; so that I myself can better understand what I am going through right now.

Today, I was finally able to record the song; one of the few times I was able to do so without crying.

And when I say crying, I mean bawling.

It helped when your Aunt Dana told me today that you are currently taking a break from swimming in the ocean to watch WWE Wrestling.

You don’t treat your stuffed animals like they are real anymore, but you still believe WWE Wrestling is real. I can settle for that. You’re not fully grown up yet.

I love you, Jack.

That boy’s been growing up, that boy’s been growing up on me

He shouldn’t be enough, he shouldn’t be old enough

It doesn’t seem, it doesn’t seem

Those Hot Wheels have all raced away

Like the friends of Thomas the Train

And now I’m missing that boy who went with them

He’s growing up

Those stuffed animals all used to be real

But they’re starting to all disappear

And now my baby boy, first born bundle of joy, is growing up on me

That boy’s a part of me, that boy’s a part of me

My son is growing up

Holding on to memories, never letting go of these

My son is growing up

It takes so much for me to ever cry these days

So it’s funny how these words are drenched in tears

A father’s love for his only son is all it takes

To get me here

And now I’m here

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: You Need Me in Your Life and I Know It

4 years, 1 month.

Dear Holly,

You and I have a special “father and daughter” bond. It’s undeniable.

By nature, I am not a needy person. I don’t “need” people to “like” me to feel good about myself. Otherwise I would be like Michael Scott or Andy Bernard on The Office.

I can accept that the world doesn’t revolve around me.

But I will admit- you have an effortless way of making me feel wanted and needed.

It’s in subtle ways, like when you come home from school everyday, you immediately run to my “office” at the kitchen table and yell “Daddy!” before engaging in a monologue about whatever accidentally hilarious story you have to tell me about school that day.

You make it too easy to love you! Way too easy.

Love,

Daddy