Dear Jack: You’ll Be Turning 8 Years Old Next Month!

7 years, 10 months.

Now that it’s October, it occurred to me: You’ll be turning 8 next month!

Just like for your 5th birthday, you have chosen a family road trip to Destin, Florida; instead of a birthday party.

Considering that we’ll be staying for free using hotel points and that Chevy will be sending us a Suburban filled with a full tank of gas, we’ll actually be able to have a pretty amazing road trip cheaper than it would cost to throw you a birthday party around here in Nashville.

I think you’re making a very smart decision. Why have a party when you can have a road trip with the fam?

 

Dear Jack,

Love,

Daddy

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Dear Holly: A Father’s Letter to His Daughter on Her 2nd Birthday

2 years old!

Dear Holly,

Today our family celebrates your 2nd birthday. We are so proud to have you in our lives; not just Mommy and me feel that way, but of course, your brother too!

I suppose nothing quite makes it official like being able to upgrade to your “big girl bed”. As the parent with the super power of being able to get you to sleep each night, I admit that selfishly, I just wanted you to keep sleeping in your crib.

The thought of your routine being interrupted by taking off the side panel of your crib sort of terrified me! Because I knew it meant you could get out of bed on your own…

But all it took has about 45 minutes of practice for the both of us.

I learned that you needed a couple minutes of me holding you, with your head on my shoulder as I patted and rubbed your back; then doing the same thing after I tucked you in.

The thought of sleeping in a new bed seemed less scary to you after you fell asleep in it for the first time- and the same goes for me, too!

I’m no longer intimidated by the thought of having to teach you again how to fall asleep on your own.

It really helped that Mommy picked out some special new “big girl” bedding for your new bed. You are so proud to sleep in your “new” bed!

So now, when we go to California this summer, it will hopefully be an easier transition for you to fall asleep wherever you are; as opposed to depending on a certain crib.

While I’m uncertain how long I’ll be able to remain a stay-at-home dad, I want to say that I am so grateful for these past 6 months that I’ve had with you.

I know that years from now, you won’t remember it specifically; but I will.

It is a gift to me from you that I have been able to be around my precious little girl so much.

I love you Holly!

Love,

Daddy

Today is My 37th Birthday, Meaning I’m Now in My Late 30s and Officially Pushing 40… And I’m Very Happy About It!

In a way, birthdays are sort of funny to me. It’s almost like “Happy Birthday” translates as “congratulations on not dying so far”; especially the further along you get to certain milestone years, like 40, which I’m now officially pushing.

But my mom, who turned 60 last week, has always been the perfect example of what it means to age with grace; to embrace and celebrate every year you’ve shared with the people who love on this planet.

I am now officially in my late 30s. And I am very happy about that.

No, I would not wish to be younger. Because I am now too reliant on all the wisdom I’ve earned by being alive 37 years.

I’m sure I used to, but I no longer fantasize about going back in time with the knowledge I have now.

That’s ridiculous. Instead, it’s about using that knowledge to make the most of the rest of my life.

What are some of these nuggets of wisdom I’ve learned in my 30s?

It’s always a personal decision whether or not you let other people offend or insult you.

Likewise, it’s always a choice whether you forgive another person. But if you take responsibility over your own emotions and don’t let the rest of the world have control over how you feel, then there’s much less need to forgive other people anyway.

I’ve learned that the default of the human experience is to allow yourself to be the victim. But it’s a proactive choice to decide to be a victor instead.

Maybe those things sound like Joel Osteen’s leftovers, but to me, they are trophies. Applying that knowledge has undeniably improved my quality of life.

And no, I didn’t learn those things from a pastor of a megachurch or a multi-million dollar motivational speaker.

I learned them from surviving my early and mid 30s. I learned them the hard way.

I lived it. I earned it. I value it.

So you can imagine, I’ve very excited about using that psychological gold for the rest of my 30s.

Alright, 40s, here I come!

Dear Jack: A Dad’s Letter to His Son on His 7th Birthday

7 years old today!

Dear Jack,

It was still completely dark outside this morning when you walked into the bedroom and quietly asked me, “Daddy, can I open some of my birthday presents now?”

As your sister munched on a waffle, you preceded to unwrap your gifts from Mommy and me; all of which were explicitly Pokemon-themed.

This marks your first birthday in which stuffed animals nor Lego blocks were part of the excitement. No way. You’re seven now. This is serious stuff:

Everything is Pokemon!

Out of all the money spent on your birthday gifts, you appeared most excited and proud of the Pokemon binder we got you to hold all your cards. That was less than 10 dollars well spent!

You even asked me, “Daddy, how did you and Mommy get my name on the folder?”

I didn’t spell out how simple a concept it actually was; that the binder and the sheets only cost a few bucks each from WalMart and that Mommy simply printed off the Pikachu picture and then typed “Jack’s Pokemon Cards” from our printer.

As you spouted off a constant news reel for the rest of the morning about all the Pokemon cards you now have, I heard you say you were “organizing all the Pokemon cards according to how they evolve” and that you now have around 400 cards.

Mommy and I visited you for lunch today at school, just a few hours later. You told us that you had already traded some of the cards you got this morning for your birthday from us.

And I guess that’s the whole point- it’s fun to trade them, even just hours after getting new ones!

We are so proud to have you as our son. You are one intelligent and creative boy. Out of all the little boys in the whole entire world, we’d pick you every single time.

Happy Birthday, Jack.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: A Dad’s Letter to His Son on His 2nd Birthday

Dear Jack: A Dad’s Letter to His Son on His 3rd Birthday

Dear Jack: A Dad’s Letter to His Son on His 4th Birthday

Dear Jack: A Dad’s Letter to His Son on His 5th Birthday

Dear Jack: A Dad’s Letter to His Son on His 6th Birthday

Everything is in Place- How To Perfectly Organize Children’s Birthday? (By Guest Blogger Angela Berry)

We all know how much children love birthdays and how much they look forward to them, and parents are those who try their best to make it all happen. Every parent wants their kid to have the best birthday party there is, but usually, they don’t know how to begin organizing it. Here are some elementary things you should start from, so better grab a pen and paper and take some notes.

Space

Before actually choosing the space, you have to decide on how many guests you’re going to invite. Are you planning on having a children-only party or are their parents going to be there as well? Do you want kids to be in one room with an entertainer to take care of them, and parents in another where they can chat and relax together? When you decide on the guest list, you can start thinking whether you want to have the party at home or out of the house. If you decide on your home, the advantage is that your kid will be on their own turf, so they will be in a good mood. Also, at home you know where everything is.

You can stop kids from wandering around by defining party areas with balloons and decorations, and keep other rooms locked. If you don’t want all that creative mess happening in your home, so you can decide on renting a play room, having a party in a restaurant or at the park (if weather permits). Again, make sure to define different areas, keep an eye on them and put safety first. Additionally, it’s always good to have a contingency plan in case of bad weather or another unforeseen event, just don’t cancel everything and disappoint your child.

Entertainers will turn the party into a Fairy Tale

You have a big variety of entertainers to choose from today. You can hire a balloon artist, a magician, a clown, a dance instructor, professional storytellers, DJs, hairstylist (check the local hair salon for a recommendation), finger or face painters and many more. Sometimes you will know right away who to hire, but sometimes you will need to ask them about their show. Remember to ask about the age of the kids the show is designed for and how long it will last. You can gather references from other parents, or you can ask about the best entertainers in children’s museums and libraries. Also, if your kid loves animals, in some places you can rent a petting zoo or have a mobile petting zoo brought right to your backyard. Kids usually love those.

Quality food is equally important

Your guests (kids as well as grownups) are going to get tired pretty soon, so you have to prepare some refreshment and some nourishment. Make sure that the food you prepared is fun, creative, healthy and nourishing. If you don’t have time (or skill) to prepare the food by yourself, you can get fun, tasty and colourful food from companies dealing with finger food catering and they will prepare everything for you. Of course, you mustn’t forget about the cake. The cake should be the centre of attention when it comes to food, and make sure it gets nicely decorated. You can opt for your kid’s favourite cartoon character, hobby, sports team, car, musician or actor.

Fun decoration is the key

When it comes to decoration, first visit a party store. You can practically spend hours in there. There you can get piñatas, flags, party hats, balloons of all sizes and shapes, confetti, costumes and sculptures. You can also buy straws, party cups, plates, plastic forks and tablecloths there. Some stores rent bouncy castles and slides, so you can book those if you have a big backyard. Basically, you will be able to get everything in one place. If you’re planning on having the party out of the house, prepare balloons and everything to decorate the place. To put everything up, use something that won’t smear the walls, such as low-tick tape, string, and removable adhesive hooks. Here you can go back to your childhood days and just be creative with decoration. Also, you can prepare a nice outfit for your kid. Make sure your kid can easily move in it, and that it can get dry-cleaned.

A professional photographer

Maybe your kid won’t care about this aspect of the party, but you will. You want to keep memories of that happy day and remember all those smiling faces forever, so it’s best if you get all that on camera. You can tell the photographer to concentrate on some things you want to see on photos, but it’s best if they focus on emotions rather than setting and decoration.

We believe this little guide will help all of you who got stuck with planning and organizing your kid’s birthday party. What’s important is not to leave everything for the last moment and always have a contingency plan. This way, you’re going to throw your kid a perfect fairy tale birthday party they will remember forever.

photo
Angela Berry
Editor, Ripped me
angela.berry@ripped.me W  https://ripped.me/

Dear Holly: Our Family’s Celebration of Your 1st Birthday/Your Disgust for Birthday Cake

1 year.

Dear Holly,

This has been such an exciting week for our family, because on Monday, you turned one!

For a one year-old little girl, you sure had a lot of presents! Granted, your brother was eager to help you open them.

I’m sure for any girl, clothes make up a good amount of her birthday presents. That definitely was the case for you. Whereas your brother Jack only seems impressed by clothes is there is a Pokemon or Yo-kai Watch character on the front, you instead were genuinely excited to see every item of clothes Mommy held up for you to see.

And of course, what little girl wouldn’t love a tea party set as well?

After dinner, we presented you with some chocolate cake from Whole Foods, to which Mommy added some homemade frosting for you. Instead of Mommy making an entire cake, we all shared a big slice.

To our amazement, you instantly gave your birthday cake a true look of disgust. Even when I forced a few crumbs in your mouth to try to convince you it was a dessert, which you’ve never had before, you still turned away.

Mommy came up with a credible theory as to why you were disgusted by the sight of it. Just a few days before, Mommy introduced you to beans, which she prepared in the food processor.

Apparently, the chocolate cake looked too much liked the beans.

You were just not impressed with the birthday cake. Instead of giving it another chance, you discretely began picking it up in little clumps and wiping it on your seat, next to your leg… as if to hope we would notice.

To you, that was the best use for birthday cake.

I love being your Daddy! This is the best.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Your 1st Easter (and 4 Different People’s Birthday Celebrations!)

11 months.

Dear Holly,

With your 1st birthday coming up next Monday, Mommy and I decided to celebrate your birthday in Alabama with my side of the family; while we were already in town for Easter.

Once we arrived in Fort Payne, we immediately stopped at the Easter Egg Hunt that 1st Baptist Church has each year. Honestly, you weren’t too concerned with all the eggs in the grass.

Instead, you were just as happy to simply look beautiful in your dress, and have anyone come over and tell you what a pretty little girl you are.

Granted, your brother Jack was the complete opposite. Actually, I feel a little bit bad about how fiercely he dominated the egg hunt for his age division. He is so competitive that it was more about “winning”. Yet still, I was very proud of him, because I feel he learned that from me.

For lunch, we met Uncle Al and Sharon at the only restaurant we ever go to: Toke. With its Thai and Japanese cuisine, everyone in our family can eat there; including your Daddy, the manly vegan.

That’s when the early birthday presents started appearing for you. Plus, Nonna’s birthday was earlier that week, and mine is actually today.

In what turned out to be a major coincidence, your cousin Calla was invited to a Pokemon birthday party. When the birthday boy’s family heard that you and Jack were in town, they invited our family as well.

Then back at Nonna and Papa’s house afterwards, it was time for a few more gifts…

So yeah, there was a lot of celebrating to be done: Not only Easter, but 4 birthdays!

With Easter moving around the calendar every year (last year it was in March), I imagine that typically, Easter will be about a month before all our birthdays; most years.

But as for your first Easter, it got to be extra special because our family got to begin celebrate your birthday early. Just a few more days now for your actual birthday…

Love,

Daddy