Dear Holly: Your 3 Day Long Virus with a 106 Degree Temperature

1 year, 5 months.

Dear Holly,

While getting tubes put in your ears a couple months ago definitely has helped prevent you getting more ear infections, it doesn’t prevent you from getting sick beyond that. So the weekend before last, you woke up in the middle of the night with a 106 degree temperature!

It definitely was scary for Mommy and me, but the nurse on the phone advised us to give you a bath to cool you down, along with pain reliever/fever reducer. When Mommy took you to the doctor the next morning, we learned that you simply had a virus that would end in 3 days; no prescription medicine would help cure it any faster.

Nonna and Papa were already planning on coming up to our house for most of the week because your brother’s school was on Fall Break. But because of your condition, they rushed up early by a few days to help take care of you; as Mommy and I still had to go to work.

You definitely needed extra cuddle time with Nonna as your body was fighting off the virus, and she was happy to oblige. And your naps were much longer as well; 3 hour naps compared to your usual 45 hour naps.

But as the doctor had predicted, your fever went away and your energy returned. The pictures starting streaming in from Nonna, as she sent them through Facebook Messenger.

I saw you playing with Papa and going on a stroller ride with Nonna.

You eventually even went to the park and wanted to go play in the creek with your brother. Too bad you didn’t have rain boots on!

We are so grateful that you are okay now and that Nonna and Papa were able to rush to the rescue! Thank God our little girl is okay.

Love,

Daddy

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Dear Jack: Your Fall Break with Nonna and Papa at Our House

6 years, 11 months.

Dear Jack,

I never had a Fall Break when I was a kid! Only Christmas Break, Spring Break, and Summer Break. But lucky for you, because you get nearly an entire week off in October. Of course, when both your parents work full time, it’s not like you get to just hang out at the house and enjoy it…

Unless we can convince Nonna and Papa to drive nearly 3 hours to our house and spend a week spending time with you and your sister. Fortunately, it didn’t take much convincing.

You obviously had a lot of fun with them! You got to build a wooden model car. You got to race down in the hill in our cul-de-sac.

And you got to go to Olive Garden, which is one of your favorite restaurants. Your sister apparently agrees with you and was grateful to learn about the place; as she just couldn’t get her fill of bread sticks there.

Even leading up to Nonna and Papa’s arrival, you were already anticipating that meal: “We get to go to Olive Garden, right?”

In hindsight, I think I’ve figure out why you like that place so much, in addition to the bread sticks: You get to play video games at the table, while you wait for the food to arrive.

I’m so glad you got to enjoy your Fall Break with family, even if it couldn’t be Mommy and me. Fortunately for our family of four, we often take little road trips throughout the year: In 2017, we’ve travelled to Destin, Florida in May, to Louisville, Kentucky in June, and Boone, North Carolina in September.

So even if we can’t spend your school holiday breaks together, we at least are able to spend quality time together as a family through the year.

Love,

Daddy

Our Family’s 2017 “Pumpkin Spice” Lexus IS 350 for This Week

Autumn is here- and everyone knows it’s the best season of the year. The welcomed change in weather and accompanying outdoor activities are undoubtedly enhanced by making everything “pumpkin spice.” Because when anything is pumpkin spice, it is understood it is automatically better.

And if that’s the case, then our family’s mode of transportation this week has definitely been pumpkin spiced.  (Is that an official verb now? If not, I’m helping to legitimize it as one.)

Our family gets to drive a 2017 Lexus IS 350 this week; as we tackle some fun fall activities.

This weekend, my sister and her family will be driving up from Alabama to visit. We will all be heading to Gentry’s Farm & Pumpkin Patch, where there will be plenty of great activities for the total of 4 kids; including a hay ride and a corn maze.

Afterwards, we will be making our way to our son’s soccer game. This will make my sister’s family’s first time to be able to see him play.

The day I brought home the Lexus IS 350, the kids loved checking it out in the driveway. My wife exclaimed, “Whoa! This is a really sporty car!” My son declared, “I love it when your cars have windows in the ceiling!” As for our daughter, she was convinced she was actually driving; especially when she successfully turned on the hazard lights.

After the big reveal of the Lexus IS 350 to my family, it was time to take my son to soccer practice. While it almost felt wrong to take just a nice and shiny luxury car to a dusty soccer field, I reminded myself: Live this up- make the most of your pumpkin spice ride while you have it this week.

There is no doubt we will be making the most of my sister’s family’s visit to Spring Hill, Tennessee.

And during it all, my family of 4 will be able to travel in luxury, with our Lexus IS 350. I have noticed that with every vehicle we get to model here on my blog, my wife’s favorite feature is always the heated seats; and now just in time for the slight chill of autumn.

I suppose it goes without saying, I think there’s a pretty good chance that one of the upcoming activities in the Lexus IS 350 will be going out somewhere nice for coffee…

Pumpkin Spice, of course!

Dear Jack: Your Personal Decision to Wear a Screen-Printed Necktie Long-Sleeve T-Shirt for Your School Picture, as Opposed to One of the Fancy Dress Shirts Nonna Bought You

6 years, 10 months.

Dear Jack,

At the end of the summer, Nonna lucked out and was able to buy a collection of brand-new dress shirts for you from a store that was going out of business back in Fort Payne, Alabama where I grew up. Several of these shirts were originally worth around $60, but she got them for much, much cheaper.

I had just recently explained to you that when you get older, like around 6th grade, you’re going to want to transition to wearing more shirts like this. It’s just part of that more mature transition into Junior High. But that’s still 5 years from now.

Naturally, Mommy brought them all out of your closet the night before Picture Day at school, so you could decide which one you’d wear for your photo. You were curious about the idea of wearing a bowtie; the one you wore from exactly a year ago when we were in San Diego for your Uncle Jake’s wedding.

But there was hesitation on your part. Apparently, there was part of the discussion I had missed prior to walking into your bedroom that night.

Then I saw Mommy reach back in the closet for one more option.

I watched your blue eyes grow big once she pulled out a black long-sleeve t-shirt with a screen-printed image of a necktie; it was a one she ordered online from Crazy 8.

“What you do you think, Daddy?” Mommy asked me.

My response was instant:

“Even though we’ve got much nicer shirts for him, if he finds his current identity in this fake necktie shirt, I say let the kid be happy.”

So last Thursday morning before you left for school, I snapped a picture of you in that shirt.

Hey, there are will be plenty of opportunities for you to wearing your classy, Southern dress shirts from Nonna. Picture Day just wasn’t one of them.

At least not this year.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: How The Beatles’ “And I Love Her” Song Makes Me Think of You

1 year, 5 months.

Dear Holly,

One of the highlights of my day is to come home from work after a long day and a long drive home, to take care of you while Mommy prepares dinner.

I always ask her how much time she needs, which is usually around 30 to 45 minutes. As I carry you outside for a long walk or a stroller ride around in our neighborhood, I have this involuntary habit of saying to you, in 3rd person about you, “She’s so sweet. She’s precious. And I love her.”

After I finally realized I was saying that out loud, I immediately thought back to the 1964 song by The Beatles’, “And I Love Her.”

I give her all my love
That’s all I do
And if you saw my love
You’d love her to
I love her

Bright are the stars that shine
Dark is the sky
I know this love of mine
Will never die
And I love her

The song only peaked at Number 12 in America, so it was never one of their well-known hits. But for me, I guess I am realizing it is a song of from their library that has always resonated with me. Perhaps it took you to help me realize that.

I have never loved anyone the way I love you. It’s a special bond that has taken experiencing to understand.

It’s like you are a literally a special little angel and I have been appointed to care for. My job is to protect and nurture and adore you into adulthood. But the entire time, I ultimately know you are never really mine. You are a gift. You belong to God and I simply was selected through divine intervention to be your caretaker.

This is the only way I can explain how much I love you.

Love,

Daddy

How Primrose Teaches Children 6 Executive Function Skills to Use in School and at Home

This post is sponsored by Everywhere Agency on behalf of Primrose Schools; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

I am a Primrose parent, so I see firsthand how my son Jack has learned, and applies at home, the 6 executive function skills that Primrose Schools focuses on in their curriculum: Adaptability, Teamwork, Problem Solving, Critical Thinking, Self-Control, and Memory.

Immediately my mind goes back to last weekend. We had driven 2 and a half hours to Alabama, where I grew up, so we could attend my hometown’s annual Boom Days event. Jack loved it so much last year, being able to ride a pony, play in a giant inflatable maze, roll around inside a giant inflatable ball, and buy a souvenir from one of the local shops.

Understandably, he was quite excited about attending the event this year as well. However, it ended up raining all afternoon, and unfortunately, we were unable to attend the outdoor event. I was bracing myself for his reaction, as I expected it to be quite negative and emotional- but I was wrong.

Instead, he was completely content with learning we would have to go with a “Plan B”. We spent the rest of the afternoon at his Aunt Dana and Uncle Andrew’s house. While the rain may have stopped him from our original plans, it didn’t stop him from having fun as he and his cousins used their imaginations to play inside instead.

Jack showed 2 of the 6 executive functions: Self-Control and Adaptability.

I can easily think of another example of how my son applies a couple more of the executive function skills in his day-to-day routine.

Jack has a baby sister, Holly, who is only 17 months old. On a daily basis, Jack exercises Teamwork and Problem Solving skills, as my wife and I depend on his help with his little sister. We have grown to depend on him to help entertain his sister while we get dinner ready, to help carry her bottles in and out of the car, and to quickly assist in fetching whatever item that my wife needs, like a Kleenex or a diaper, when we are all getting ready in the morning.

Children who attend Primrose Schools have these executive function skills taught to them at such a young age. So naturally, there is less of a learning curve as Jack grows and matures each year. It is clear that Primrose Schools is the go-to source for early education and childhood development content; not only in the classroom, but at home as well. I know this because I personally see it every day in my son’s behavioral decisions.

If you’d like to learn more parenting and education tips from Primrose, I want to invite you to subscribe to Primrose’s newsletter for a chance to win a Primrose Prize Pack consisting of a $250 Barnes & Noble gift card and 5 children’s books. 10 winners will be chosen! Enter here.

Thanks for learning about Primrose’s 6 executive function skills today.

 

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Tom Petty’s Influence on Forming My Identity; Teaching Me to Question the System, Not Necessarily Authority Itself

I want to be clear: I am hereby giving permission to Tom Petty, who passed away yesterday at age 66, to affect my emotions.

Right now I am thinking back to exactly where I was 23 years ago, in the fall of 1994. I was 13 years-old and in the 8th grade.

While at the Hamilton Place Mall in Chattanooga, Tennessee, I had a $20 bill in my wallet that I was eager to spend on my first Tom Petty cassette tape. Overwhelmed by all his albums, I chose his Greatest Hits album, which was still new at the time.

The 30 year age difference between Tom Petty and me didn’t matter. This 43 year-old, 5’9”, legendary rocker was one cool dude.

As I was still just learning the play the guitar at the time, his music would serve as a major influence on my musical style. By the time I got to college and began recording my own music, I actually used his 1989 album, Full Moon Fever, as the prototype for the mixing style.

Exactly 12 years ago, right after I had moved to Nashville, the Green Hills Mall had just reopened from remodeling, and were giving out $50 gift cards to the first 50 people who showed up on the grand reopening. I spent the night in the parking lot with my friends.

After realizing the Green Hills mall was more of a fancier mall, the only thing worth spending my money on was CDs; so I spent it all on Tom Petty albums.

Now as an adult, I can look back and see why exactly Tom Petty was always cool:

He was the definition of what it meant to be a rebel. He was the symbol of true rock-n-roll.

I can’t think of a more defiant line in any song recorded by any artist:

“You can stand me up at the gates of hell, but I won’t back down.”

Tom Petty continually questioned the system. His album, The Last DJ, exposed the politics and greed behind what it now takes to be successful in music.

His identity was based on nonconformity; especially when it came to music.

There is no question that Tom Petty served as a guide for me in forming my identity. As a young teenager, I learned that being cool and rebellious wasn’t really about defying figures in authority, but instead, about questioning and challenging “the system”.

I am grateful to have lived the first half of my life with Tom Petty as a part of it. As for the 2nd half of my life, I’ll stick with what he taught me to get through the rest.