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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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 Jack: Your 1st Soccer Game as the Goalie

6 years, 10 months.

Dear Jack,

Last Tuesday evening as we were leaving your soccer practice, I heard your coach confirm to you, “Alright Jack, I’m putting you in as goalie for Saturday’s game. You know what to do, right?”

You were humbly thrilled to know that you would finally get to be the goalie. Honestly, I had no idea you were interested in playing that position. But it turns out that you were interested enough that you proactively asked your coach if you could play goalie.

I had noticed during practice that you were playing goalie, but I figured it was just standard for the coach to give turns to all the players. But no, you had specifically asked him.

Of all weekends for Nonna and Papa to be in town from Alabama, this past Saturday was it. They got to see you play your newest position. You loved being goalie!

I was particularly also impressed by the fact when you weren’t playing goalie during the game, there were two different times in which you led the ball down the field towards the goal.

It’s so cool being able to see how you truly enjoy playing soccer and being a part of your team.

Of course, it helps that you and your best friend Duncan are on the same team, the Red Wolves. The two of you have literally been friends since the womb, as our families were in Lamaze class together back in the fall of 2010.

Soccer is a really good thing for you. Not only does it help you burn off plenty of energy, but I can see the way it undeniably builds confidence in you. And I appreciate how it teaches you the importance of playing as part of a team.

You were an only child for so long, so being a star runner and occasionally goalie on the Red Wolves is a great thing for you!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Practicing Your Soccer Moves on the Field, During Your Brother’s Game

1 year, 5 months.

Dear Holly,

This past Saturday was a very special soccer game for your brother, as not only did he get to play as goalie for the first time, but also, Nonna and Papa were in town from Alabama to see it as well.

We all sat right there on the edge of the field near the goal, nearly as close as we could without being on the field. You loved being able to walk from Mommy, to me, to Nonna, and to Papa.

And then you saw your brother’s red soccer ball that he had brought with him.

The smile on your face seemed to translate as, “Well if Jack can do this, so can I. How hard could it be?”

So you began kicking the ball over the line, onto the very edge of the field. As one of us adults would then move the ball off the field, you would sure enough find your way back in the game.

Fortunately, each time this occurred, all the players actually playing the game happened to be on the other side of the field.

I think it’s safe to say that you are finding your brother’s soccer games to be pretty fascinating. So while I could easily see you getting into dance classes when you get older, it already makes perfect sense to me that would also play soccer.

And based on the way I’ve seen you kick the ball back to me in our living room and on the back porch, I have to say… you actually have some kicking skills!

I suppose for the last few soccer games this season, you will continue practicing your soccer moves during Jack’s games. Give it a few more years, and that’ll be you out there on the field!

Love,

Daddy

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.

Mixed Race: What Does a Person Look Like Who is Mayan, Aztec, Spanish, Jewish, Middle Eastern, Greek, Italian, Baltic, and West African?

Undeniably, my mom’s MyHeritage DNA test results were all over the place: Literally, all over the globe. It took a lot of ancestors from a lot of different places to get my mom here… and me, as well.

So now that we know my mom’s ethnicity mix (as well as half of mine), let’s take a moment to assess the situation by asking this question:

Can you see the following ethnic backgrounds in my mom and me? These are my mom’s MyHeritage DNA test results:

32.9% Central American (Mayan/Aztec)

22% Iberian (Spanish/Portuguese)

15.2% Sephardic Jewish (via Spain)

14% Middle East/West Asia (Yemen, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Palestine and Georgia)

7.8% Greek

4.5% Italian

2.6% Baltic (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia)

2.0% West African (Benin, Burkina Faso, the island nation of Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, the island of Saint Helena, Senegal, Sierra Leone, São Tomé and Príncipe and Togo)

It could be easy to say, “Well, you’re barely African.”

True, I am only 1% African and my mom is 2%. But without that one African ancestor, somewhere in our family history, even if it were nearly 200 years ago that they became part of it, my mom and I would cease to exist.

Granted, I’m not claiming to be an African-American. But at the same time, I can imagine how my 1% and my mom’s 2% would have been a whole different issue back when “The One Drop Rule” was still in effect in America. After all, I have “one drop” of African blood in me.

I am proud of every bit of my DNA.

It’s especially interesting that my mom and I are nearly equal parts Jewish and Middle Eastern.

From the best my mom and I can figure, this is how it happened:

Her Italian grandfather, Giuseppe Metallo, who moved to America from southern Italy, was barely Italian; which explains how he had an Italian name and only spoke Italian, yet why my mom only showed up as 4.5% Italian. Instead, I theorize he was actually mostly Middle Eastern; with a little bit of Italian and Baltic thrown in there.

He married Maria Vite, who was a Sephardic Jew whose family had moved to America from Italy, as well. (Vite is derived from Vitalli; a Sephardic Jewish last name.)

So in theory, my mom had two “Italian” grandparents, one of whom was mainly Middle Eastern and one was mainly Jewish.

I think that’s just fascinating.

Some people could care less about their ethnicity, but I am not one of those people.

Instead, I think it’s one of the coolest things in the world.