Dear Jack: Your 1st Valentine’s Day as a Big Brother in Kindergarten (Pokemon Cards and Yo-kai Watch Coins)

6 years, 4 months.

Dear Jack: Your 1st Valentine’s Day as a Big Brother in Kindergarten (Pokemon Cards and Yo-kai Watch Coins)

Dear Jack,

For Valentine’s Day, on your own merit, you decided to make your sister a special Valentine out of construction paper: a pink kitty. That was very thoughtful of you! She loved it.

As for you, I’d say you had a pretty big Valentine’s Day. Apparently, for some reason your friend Zeke didn’t end up giving a candy Valentine to everyone in your class, so he decided it was just the same to give you three; which saved him the trouble of having to get all his Valentine’s to the right place. Lucky you!

And speaking of, your classmate Haley gave you a very special Valentine: a heart-shaped box of chocolates. I’d say it’s quite likely you were the only one in your class to receive such a Valentine from her. You must have made some impression on Haley this year in class…

Dear Jack: Your 1st Valentine’s Day as a Big Brother in Kindergarten (Pokemon Cards and Yo-kai Watch Coins)

Also, I have to point out your cool picture you drew of yourself opening your Valentine’s. It is right on!

Dear Jack: Your 1st Valentine’s Day as a Big Brother in Kindergarten (Pokemon Cards and Yo-kai Watch Coins)

In your Valentine’s box from us, Mommy and I gave you exactly what you wanted: Some Pokemon cards and Yo-kai Watch coins. You are so into those things right now!

At night after we put you to bed, we let you stay up a little while longer, as you study your Pokemon character book, by the light of the desk lamp. And every morning on the drive to school, you study your Pokemon cards.

Dear Jack: Your 1st Valentine’s Day as a Big Brother in Kindergarten (Pokemon Cards and Yo-kai Watch Coins)

Apparently, the studying pays off, because you can accurately pronounce the names of just about all 152 Pokemon characters in your book!

It’s safe to say, we know what’s going to be in your Easter basket. Amazingly though, you haven’t asked us for the actual 20 dollar Yo-kai Watch that “reads” the coins.

I love seeing how interested you are into this typical 6 year-old stuff.

It was a very fun Valentine’s Day!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Your 1st Valentine’s Day as a Big Brother in Kindergarten (Pokemon Cards and Yo-kai Watch Coins)

Dear Holly: Your Very 1st Valentine’s Day

9 months.

Dear Holly: Your Very 1st Valentine’s Day

Dear Holly,

It just so happened that I had a dentist appointment during my lunch break on Valentine’s Day. No cavities, by the way…

My dental hygienist pointed out they had just refilled the treasure box full of toys. So I got a little pink bear to add to your Valentine’s Day bundle.

Mommy also had me pick up a pink ball for you, to match the pink Strawberry yogurt puffs.

Dear Holly: Your Very 1st Valentine’s Day

Though you weren’t quite sure what the gifts were all about, you still gladly went along with the festivities.

Plus, of course, Mommy dressed you up in cute Valentine’s outfits. Seriously, you are so cute!

Despite being only 9 months old, the little girl in you is very evident. I love what I see of that little girl so far. I love having you has my daughter.

Something that is definitely different about you compared to your brother is that he never cared about having a pacifier. But as for you, it’s a fun accessory.

Dear Holly: Your Very 1st Valentine’s Day

I love it when you’re just playing and then for no apparent reason, you pick up the pacifier and stick it in your mouth. My favorite is when you’re falling asleep in your bed, and your pacifier falls out of your mouth.

Every time, you just take matters into your own hands: You put the pacifier back in your mouth so that you can officially fall asleep.

So yeah, I wonder if you are going to be the kind of little girl who likes carrying it around, like Maggie Simpson.

Dear Holly: Your Very 1st Valentine’s Day

Maybe that means that you won’t still be treating your baby blanket like it’s a member of the family, when you’re in Kindergarten, like your brother does.

And though Jack is quick to help you play with your toys, he never lets you play with his blanket.

As you can see, you really enjoyed your very first Valentine’s Day.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Your Very 1st Valentine’s Day

Dear Jack: Our Trip to Mars

6 years, 3 months.

Dear Jack: Our Trip to Mars

Dear Jack,

We’ve now lived in our new house in Spring Hill, Tennessee for two years. One of our missions we just never got around to was to explore the cleared land across the street from the movie theatre. Originally, I had planned to shoot an episode of our superhero web-series, Jack-Man, there. But it just never happened.

So this past Sunday, instead of making you take a nap, I took you to the site we’ve been curious about for so long now. I couldn’t have known how much it would end up meaning to you.

Dear Jack: Our Trip to Mars

After all, I’ve taken you to some amazing places in nature, like Cloudland Park last summer near Chattanooga. But in the likeness of how kids often find more excitement from the cardboard box a gift comes in, instead of the actual gift itself, you were quite fascinated by the huge pile of red dirt that is slowly being developed across from the Spring Hill movie theatre.

It is clear that our father-son bond is most naturally strengthened when we are out in nature. That’s our thing. We can make a big deal of just dirt and rocks. We’ve always been good at that.

Dear Jack: Our Trip to Mars

You had forgotten your winter coat at school, so Mommy had you wear your oversized Columbia fleece pullover, as you brought along a “papered airplane” to fly over the canyons, and ultimately, for me to drop big chunks of dirt on top of.

“Wow, Daddy! We’re up so high!” you kept proclaiming.

Despite just being across the street from the hundreds of people of at the cinema, it was like you and I were in our own isolated world. You agreed it was kind of like being on Mars.

Amazingly, we made the drive home in less than 15 minutes. Not bad for travelling back from another planet.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Our Trip to Mars

Dear Holly: The Nonna Pick-Up Point at The Goat Restaurant in Murfreesboro, Tennessee (Vegetarian/Vegan-Friendly)

9 months.

Dear Holly: The Nonna Pick-Up Point at The Goat Restaurant in Murfreesboro, Tennessee (Vegetarian/Vegan-Friendly)

Dear Holly,

Just a day after we took Grandma (Mommy’s Mommy) back to the airport after she graciously spent the past two weeks watching you, we then picked up Nonna (my Mommy), who is watching you this week.

Mommy and I saw the need to give you a break from daycare for a while, as you had remained consistently sick for months.

Fortunately, Papa was willing to drive most of the way to drop off Nonna. He drove 2 hours; we only drove 30 minutes, which was about as much as you were able to handle that day in the car. We met Nonna and Papa at an amazing vegan/vegetarian-friendly restaurant called The Goat.

Though it’s been around for 2 years now, we had never heard of it. If only we had known how well it suits our family’s dietary restrictions and needs, we would have been going there regularly. Well, now we know.

Dear Holly: The Nonna Pick-Up Point at The Goat Restaurant in Murfreesboro, Tennessee (Vegetarian/Vegan-Friendly)

Not to mention, the lighting at The Goat helps the place serve as a great place to take pictures. I was able to capture some really shots of you and your brother catching up with Nonna and Papa.

Granted, you’re not quite old enough to appreciate the food they serve there yet, but it’s definitely something to look forward to.

Your brother Jack had a great time with his mini cheese pizza slices and gourmet tater tots. He even lucked out and got to have dessert: donut holes, which were a first for him.

So here’s to a week of you being spoiled by Nonna at our house. Here’s to you sleeping hours at a time in your arms as she just stares at your precious face the whole time.

And here’s to us making The Goat a regular stopping point anytime we’re passing through Murfreesboro.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: The Nonna Pick-Up Point at The Goat Restaurant in Murfreesboro, Tennessee (Vegetarian/Vegan-Friendly)

How I Got My First 1,000 YouTube Subscribers: My Sneaky 5 Step Formula (Based on Kindness and Capitalism; Quantity and Quality)

This month I celebrate reaching that magical (and marketable) milestone of 1,000 YouTube subscribers. What is interesting is that just a year ago in February 2016, I only had a little over 100 subscribers. This nearly 800% increase happened because of a specific 5 step formula I figured out and began applying. And today, I shall share it with you:

1.      Make 3 videos every day for a month; about whatever random topic that interests you. Every that 30 day period, see which particular video is outshining the rest in regards to views and comments. That video topic is now your specialty.

2.      Make 3 videos every day, from now on, mainly on that specialty topic, which is now your shtick. People will begin assuming you are somewhat of an expert on that subject, and from there, your true followers will naturally latch on to your work.

3.      Reply to all comments you receive on your videos; which forms a bond with the people spending their time to watch your videos. For the negative comments, sincerely thank them for spending time to watch your video and spending energy to comment on it, which ultimately draws more attention to the video, which ultimately makes the video seem more interesting and attractive to other potential watchers.

4.      Start making videos in direct response to the most relevant comments you receive. That shows your subscribers (and potential subscribers) that you are personal and involved; and therefor a passionate expert on that specialty topic. Read their screen name and quote their comment at the beginning of the video, then simply reply publicly to their comment; which will often encourage more comments.

5.      Always be honest and direct, yet positive. People naturally follow confident people, yet they also value vulnerability; which reinforces the personal quality of your video channel.

As for me, my “specialty topic” is helping younger men psychologically deal with hair loss. Believe me, I was as surprised as you are to learn that I could become an expert on that topic.

Like the prophet Jonah, I ran from the truth at first. I kept making videos that I enjoyed making (and that honestly, required more time and talent), yet no one was watching.

I realized I had to respect the free market. People were coming to my channel for encouragement about losing their hair. I simply learned to capitalize on that, in kindness, pouring my creative passion into what other people care about, not necessarily what I care about.

In a way, “quantity over quality” was working me. Instead of focusing on the quality of my videos with editing and music and moving fonts, I transferred the concept of quality into my personal interactions with my viewers; not the videos themselves. But since I now have nearly 1,000 videos along with those 1,000 subscribers, I by default am able to incorporate both quantity and quality.

While casual viewers will occasionally accuse me of being “obsessed” because I make 3 videos every day, my faithful subscribers appreciate my dedication- after all, my subscribers are the ones that matter. Perhaps they are the ones obsessed with the topic- I know this and therefore use that to my advantage, by not only catering to their desire but also attempting to help cure them, as well.

Granted, hair loss videos are not your shtick. You have to discover what random topic that people will assume you are an expert on.

Now, get to work. Begin with the first step…

How I Got My First 1,000 YouTube Subscribers: My Sneaky 5 Step Formula (Based on Kindness and Capitalism; Quantity and Quality)

Exactly 10 Years after Our First Date

Exactly 10 Years after Our First Date

On February 5, 2007, the 25 year-old version of me was successful in finally escaping “the friend zone” with a girl who I had known exactly 4 months; a 25 year-old girl from California who I had met while waiting in line to be an extra for a taping of CMT’s Crossroads.

It was a week before Valentine’s Day, which I kept in mind. Meanwhile, she wasn’t aware that the John Mayer concert a couple hours away in Huntsville, Alabama wasn’t actually a “just as friends” thing. I was sneakily being very deliberate in my specific plan to get her to see me as more than just “the nice guy” she had been hanging out with at Starbucks most Sunday nights.

I knew that a road trip could provide an environment for her to see me in a different way than before. Knowing that we’d need to eat dinner but wouldn’t have time to since we both were leaving straight from work, I had used my lunch break to pick up some sub sandwiches for us Lenny’s. I also made sure to grab some Twizzlers, as I had remembered her saying she liked them.

Once we arrived in the parking garage next to the concert arena, I presented her with our dinner; while playing the Counting Crows through the stereo of my Honda Element; the car I still drive today.

The date went exactly as I had planned. And by the time we got back to Nashville, sometime after midnight, I asked her a very strategic question:

“Next week is Valentine’s Day, and I would be honored to take you out. Would you like to go out with me for Valentine’s Day?”

That was exactly a 10 years ago today. And we’ve been together ever since.

So glad I got out of the friend zone.

Though I guess you could say that being together and in love with a person for a decade, and being married 8 and a half of those years, and having 2 kids together… it sort of makes you best friends by default.

Dear Holly: Daddy’s Little Sweetie/Simply Fit Board as Seen on Shark Tank

9 months.

Dear Holly: Daddy’s Little Sweetie/Simply Fit Board as Seen on Shark Tank

Dear Holly,

As I carry you around through the house on a daily basis, as if my arms are your own personal flying throne like C-3PO had in Return of the Jedi, I am constantly (and perhaps involuntarily) streaming a series of praise phrases to you.

One that I catch myself saying a lot is, “What’s Little Sweetie gonna do today?”

This is a fact: You are a particularly sweet strawberry-blonde 9 month old daughter. Even when you’re mad, it’s simply hilarious. But you really only get upset about funny stuff.

Like last night, Mommy handed you over to me after she realized you had too much energy to fall asleep at your normal bedtime. So I laid down on your bedroom floor, and just let you repeatedly crawl over me. You loved proving to yourself you can cross the terrain of my chest, time after time.

But after nearly 30 minutes, you had finally worn yourself out. It was like you got upset that your arms were too tired to pull yourself up and that your head keep falling on me too.

You got mad because you ultimately had too much fun.

I always love to see “what Little Sweetie is going to do today.”

One of the things you love to do is to take a ride on my Simply Fit board, which I ordered after seeing it featured on an episode of Shark Thank. You think it’s normal to hold on and get a tour of the bonus room upstairs.

I never had to teach you to do this. You just saw it one day, and then looked at me as if to day, “Okay, Daddy, I’m ready to ride it!”

It makes me wonder how many other infants appreciate the thrill of their Daddy pulling them around on a Simply Fit board.

You and I both like to keep things interesting. We’re a good match.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Daddy’s Little Sweetie/Simply Fit Board as Seen on Shark Tank