Dear Holly: You are So Obsessed with Your Shoes, You Wear 4 of Them at a Time!

1 year, 6 months.

Dear Holly,

This morning as I held you, walking your brother across the street to where the bus stop is, you held a pair of shoes in your hands. Obviously, you were also wearing another pair of shoes on your feet as well.

On the mornings I take you to school, the same thing happens. I get you all ready to go, and you’re always so excited. You grab your lunch box and walk to the front door, but then make a quick detour for the shoe closet to pick up a 2nd pair to hold.

Yes, if guess you figure since you only have 2 feet, you might as wear a 2nd pair on your hands… in theory.

So then I load you up in the car, drive you to school, and hand you to your teacher; and the whole time, you’re holding those shoes in your hands so tightly!

I admit it’s a little bit of a challenge to pry them out of your little pink hands. Seriously, it’s just that you’re so proud of your shoes. So naturally, in your mind, wearing one pair of shoes at a time just isn’t enough!

It didn’t take long for me to understand how you became this way. All I have to do is look at your Mommy.

She is so classy, so stylish, so fashionable. Though she would never admit it, she’s on top of things when it comes to making sure our whole family looks more than simply “presentable”.

So for you, at only a year and half years old, shoes having already become a part of your identity. I think I have to give all the credit to Mommy on this one.

I think it’s possible you’re starting to realize just how adorable you are…

Love,

Daddy

Advertisements

Dear Jack: I’m Watching You Grow Up on Autopilot

6 years, 11 months.

Dear Jack,

In the midst of me raising a very demanding (by default) infant daughter in addition to you, it’s both inevitable and regrettable, as your Daddy, that I can’t be more involved in all the little details of your life. I wish I could, but then I couldn’t be there for your sister in the ways she desperately needs me in these early developmental years.

I miss the candid moments that we used to have, back when you were an only child. Being an older brother has placed you in a situation where you have to be more independent of me.

In some ways, that’s a good thing. But I admit, I experience guilt in this, even if I’m doing the right thing by constantly minding to your sister, which gives Mommy the ability to focus on household daily chores, like preparing dinner and doing laundry.

It sort of leaves you out of the equation; to fend for yourself.

Right now, though, I’m thinking of John Mayer’s song, “Daughters”, where he talks about sons:

Boys, you can break
You’ll find out how much they can take
Boys will be strong
And boys soldier on

I guess that’s just the way I have to look at it.

But just know I really do miss our Saturday afternoon hikes through the woods, exploring alongside the creeks. I miss our one-on-one time.

I do the best I can to spend time with you alone, but it’s very difficult with your sister being the age she is.

So that’s why I feel like I’m watching you grow up on autopilot. I see this picture I took of my son a few weeks ago, and think, “Man, he’s starting to look like a teenager!”

Granted, that’s still several years off, but I do hope I can get back there, to when you and I had more time together. Just you and me.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Your “Hold Me, Daddy!” Moments

1 year, 6 months.

Dear Holly,

Getting to be a daddy to a little girl is something remarkable. For me, it has been a completely different experience in raising you at your young age, compared to your brother when he was a year and a half.

Not that raising one child is a better situation than the other; I’m not comparing the two of you in that way. But noticeably, you need me on a different level than your brother ever did at this age.

I guess there’s just no way around it- I can’t help but think of John Mayer’s song, “Daughters”, right now.

Especially when it comes to emotional and physical support, those lyrics about the importance of a father’s influence on his daughter are spot on:

Fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do

On behalf of every man
Looking out for every girl
You are the god and weight of her world

I see this on a daily basis. I see how you constantly strive for my confirmation, my affection, and my attention… even though I freely give you all those things.

On a selfish level, that makes me feel good. It serves as a reminder that in all the uncertainty I face, as a man whose role it is to convince my family that I can take care of them, that I am definitely needed and doing something right.

A few weekends ago at the farm and pumpkin patch, a chicken stuck its head out through the fence and unintentionally scared you.

Immediately, you grabbed one of my arms with both of yours; holding so tightly until the chicken pulled itself back through the fence.

Perhaps to some, that’s just a simple, forgettable moment.

But not for me. That’s a “Hold me, Daddy!” moment. That is worth gold to me.

Love,

Daddy

MyHeritage DNA Test: Is This a Middle Eastern Suit and Pocket Decoration? Maybe Egyptian? Or Lebanese? Or Jewish?

By taking a closer look at this man standing behind my great-grandmother, in the wedding photo of my mother’s grandparents’ wedding photo from 1919, it appears we truly are seeing my Middle Eastern, or Jewish, ancestors; which up until this year, we assumed were Italian.

My mom’s MyHeritage DNA test, as well as mine, indicate that my mom’s grandparents on her father’s side consisted of a Middle Eastern man and a Sephardic Jewish woman, from southern Italy.

Overnight, I began receiving several comments from different subscribers across the world, on the YouTube version of yesterday’s blog post. Here are the 3 that stood out the most to me:

“[The groom] does look Middle Eastern. But also Egyptian.”

“[The groom] looks Half Lebanese, Half Egyptian.”

“That man at 3:12 with something in his left shirt pocket, looks 100% middle eastern to me.”

So now I’m really curious… With the help of the Internet, I wonder if anyone would be able to help me pinpoint what native county my Middle Eastern grandfather’s side came from?

I zoomed in on the man who is seen at the 3:12 mark of the video I made. He is the one standing directly behind my Sephardic Jewish great-grandmother.  I had never noticed before how his suit and jacket and noticeably different that the other men. And yes, what exactly is that decoration on his left shirt pocket?

Whose side of the family is he from, anyway? Is he from the Jewish side or the Middle Eastern side? If all the men in the photo are with the groom’s side, then he is Middle Eastern. But if this photo shows the family member’s of each side of the wedding party, then maybe he’s on the Jewish side, which explains why he’s standing behind my great-grandmother?

What exactly can we learn about my ancestors from this man’s suit? Does anyone out there know? Can anyone help me? Please leave a comment below if you have any intuition on the subject.

I am grateful!

MyHeritage DNA Test: Photos of My Great-Grandparents’ Jewish-Middle Eastern Wedding from 1919- Giuseppe Metallo and Maria “Mary” Vite

Last week at work, my wife was explaining to a coworker how our family is vegetarian and that it all started a few months after we were married in 2008, when I went kosher; meaning I stopped eating pork and shellfish.

The natural follow-up question from her coworker was logical: “Is your husband Jewish or something?”

My wife replied, “Actually, he is. He just took a DNA test and found that out!”

(This is funny because my going kosher had nothing to do with my ethnic background; I simply had to in order to cure my eczema dyshidrosis, severe sinus infections, and allergies. In the end, it worked, by the time I eventually became a vegan in 2013.)

Despite my mom thinking her whole life that she was half Mexican and half Italian, her own DNA test through MyHeritage told a much different story:

True, her mother truly was Mexican; but on her father’s side, her Italian grandfather was mostly Middle Eastern and her Italian grandmother was Sephardic Jewish.

My mom’s mother’s side:

32.9% Central American (Mayan/Aztec)

22% Iberian (Spanish/Portuguese)

My mom’s father’s side:

15.2% Sephardic Jewish

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)

These wedding photos are from my mom’s paternal grandparents’ wedding in 1919. This is Giuseppe Metallo (age 28 and a half) with his bride Maria “Mary” Vite (age 19). I speculate this was an arranged marriage, but I have no proof; only speculation, based on their age difference and the fact they were recent immigrants to America from Italy.

They both moved here from Italy, spoke only Italian, and had Italian names… yet ethnically, they were barely Italian at all. My theory is that their own ancestors had settled in Italy a few generations prior but had culturally become Italian by the time they got to America.

I’m guessing their families had both converted to Catholicism by the time they had left Italy.

This stuff is purely fascinating to me!

But what do you think? Are we truly looking at a mainly Middle Eastern groom and a Sephardic Jewish bride, who were known to me up until this year as my Italian great-grandparents?

I would love for you to leave a comment below and let me know what you think!

A Look Back at the Story of Our House Being Built

I’ve compiled each “episode” in chronological order. Just click on the title to read the post; a photo collage is featured below each title to illustrate that particular entry.

Dear Jack: We’re Building A New House In Spring Hill, TN

Dear Jack: Our 2nd Visit To Our New House/ 2014 Lexus GS 450h Family Friendly Review

gs8

Dear Jack: Seeing The 1st Construction Of Our New House

h2

Dear Jack: Our New Home Is Now Being Bricked And Insulated

h51

Dear Jack: Writing Bible Verses On Our Unfinished House

h1

Dear Jack: The Cabinets Are Now Installed In Our House

h13

Dear Jack: Our Blue House Is Being Painted/Our Last Week In Our Townhome

h14

Dear Jack: We’ve Now Moved Out Of Our Townhome

qo5vpa1416971239

Dear Jack: Our Driveway And Surprise Back Porch

h42

2014 Lexus RX 450h 5-DR SUV (DVD Player Equipped): Family Friendly Review

h6

Dear Jack: Our New House Now Has Electricity & Tile (2015 Hyundai Sonata Weekend)

Dear Jack: Our New House Now Has Electricity & Tile (2015 Hyundai Sonata Weekend)

 Dear Jack: Our New Home’s Dark Hardwood Flooring And Black Appliances

Dear Jack: Our New Home’s Dark Hardwood Flooring And Black Appliances

 Dear Jack: The Carpet Is In; The Yard Is Started

Dear Jack: The Carpet Is In; The Yard Is Started

 Dear Jack: Our New Home’s Fence, Trees, And Shrubbery

h1

Dear Jack: The Final Walk Through/Punch List On Our New House

Dear Jack: The Final Walk Through/Punch List On Our New House

Buying Our Couch And Looking At Pool Tables For Our New House

Dear Jack: Buying Our Couch And Looking At Pool Tables For Our New House

 

We Closed On Our New House Today (We Officially Bought It!)

closing on new house

The 1st Week Of Living In Our New House

Dear Jack: The First Week Of Living In Our New House

The 2nd Week Of Living In Our New House

Dear Jack: The 2nd Week Of Living In Our New House

We Sold Our Townhouse… It’s Official! Thank The Lord!

The 3rd Week Of Living In Our New House (Snowed In!) 

5 Reasons Our Townhouse Sold In Just 3 Days

5 Reasons Our Townhouse Sold In Just 3 Days

The 4th Week Of Living In Our New House

Dear Jack: Our 4th Week In Our New House

The 1st Month Of Living In Our New House

Dear Jack: Our 1st Month In Our New House

Our Morning of Americana at Gentry’s Farm and Pumpkin Patch (Featuring the 2017 Lexus IS 350)

This story takes place in Tennessee, but really, it could have happened nearly anywhere across America: Maybe the Midwest, or easily in northern California, where my wife is from.

I simply define this as a Morning of Americana; built of nostalgic ideals regarding what it means to be a proud American during the fall season.

All the elements are here: A hay ride pulled by a tractor, a corn maze, farm animals…

And of course, pumpkins!

I feel, to some degree, the fall itself is like a patriotic holiday season; as we celebrate and appreciate the splendor and even novelty of autumn. It’s a time when we are able to take moments to remind ourselves that we live in a great country, and that life itself is truly beautiful and mysterious thing.

(Can you tell that the fall is my favorite season? Sorry I had to get so poetic there more a minute.)

Our family was able to experience a good old fashioned pumpkin patch, in a much more elaborate version than the one that Charlie Brown visited.

My family of four, along with hundreds of other families last Saturday morning, as well as my sister and her family who were in town visiting from Alabama, visited Gentry’s Farm and Pumpkin Patch in Franklin, Tennessee.

So we parked the wondrous 2017 Lexus IS 350 in the dusty grass field which served as a parking lot, and made our way to the festivities.

It was especially rewarding for me as a parent, to see my 1 and a half year-old daughter react to the local, classic, Americana version of Disney World.

We started out by going on the hay ride, which took us through the pastures of the farm. My daughter was laughing with joy, which happens to be her middle name, as she pointed at all the animals in the not-so-far-away distance.

Unsurprisingly then, she was truly intrigued afterwards, when we got to see the farm animals up close. My daughter’s vocabulary is still pretty much limited to family members’ names, as well as her interpretation of what sounds animals make.

The goat must have seemed like a mythical creature to her, as she responded to him in her language: “A-bluh-ah, a-bluh-ah, a-bluh-ah!”

However, she was quite skeptical when it came time to visit the chickens; especially when one poked its head through the fence to look for food in the grass. My daughter had a “Hold me, Daddy!” moment.

As for my almost 7-year old son, he assumed the role of being a tour guide and assistant to his cousins, while wearing a suitably themed Superman t-shirt.

For our family, the fall season just isn’t complete until we have visited the pumpkin patch. Oh, that reminds me, now my son and I need to actually carve that big pumpkin he picked out, which is currently sitting on my front porach. Looks like we’ve got some work to do.

This, to me, is what it feels like to be American.