Dear Holly: Your Surprise Christmas Gift Arrived in the Mail!

1 year, 8 months.

Dear Holly,

The plan was for Uncle Joe, Aunt Rebecca, and your cousin Savannah to drive up from Pensacola to spend the Christmas holidays in Alabama with us at Nonna and Papa’s house. That was inspired by how well their Thanksgiving visit went just a month earlier.

However, the three of them got way too sick to ever leave Florida. So sadly, unfortunately, we didn’t get to see them as planned.

But even still, our family was pleasantly surprised this past week when an expected box arrived on our doorstep.

It turns out, Aunt Rebecca had our Christmas gifts shipped to us in the mail, so we could celebrate Christmas a little bit longer, into the new year.

I loved watching you open your gift. Your face lit up, “Baby!!!”

It was a Cabbage Patch Kids Cuties doll. And since that day you opened it, you’ve yet to spend a day without it.

You take the doll with you to bed, you push it in the stroller, and you attempt to even eat your meals with it.

As for your brother Jack, he was obviously pleased to receive a whoopee cushion, silly string, and slime. And Mommy loved her Mary Kay products.

Even I received something cool!

It’s a new mug with a big pickle for a handle. The next day at lunch, you sat next to me as I enjoyed my standard Ramen noodles it; while you munched on oatmeal.

There’s just nothing like getting a gift after you weren’t expecting to get anymore gifts. Typically, if there’s a mysterious box waiting for us on our doorstep, it’s because Mommy ordered something on Amazon, like a new water filter for our refrigerator.

But not this time.

This time, our whole family got a fun surprise!

Love,

Daddy

Advertisements

Dear Jack: A 1st Grader Boy’s Christmas is One that Requires Pokemon

7 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack,

Every couple of years, the theme changes and you’re suddenly into a new toy; one that will further challenge your current state of mind. I enjoy seeing shift that occurs every couple of years. I have grown to expect it now.

For example, when you were 2 years-old, everything was Hot Wheels. When you were 3, it was Thomas the Train. At age 4 and 5, you couldn’t get enough stuffed animals.

But at age 6 and now 7, your obsession has been Pokemon. You even told me you still believe there’s a chance that Pokemon are actually real. You are serious about Pokemon!

It’s becoming difficult for me to understand how you can even trade cards anymore with your friends, as I would have to imagine you already have two of every card ever made!

Apparently though, that was still not the case, even after Christmas, when multiple friends and family members gave you gift cards; which are mostly being spent on more Pokemon cards.

Even our next door neighbors surprised us with a gift package on our front door, which included a pack of Pokemon cards!

To really top things off, my Uncle Al brought you a shoe box full of vintage Pokemon cards from 20 years ago. They came with some baseball cards he ordered off of the internet.

Not to mention, Nonna ordered you a big bag full of Pokemon figurines, as well.

What else could you possibly need?

Uncle Andrew and Aunt Dana figured you could use a few new books:

Farting Pokemon Coloring Book and I Need a New Butt!

Yeah, those are just right for what you and your friends at school talk about when you’re not talking about Pokemon.

I just can’t imagine though, a year from now, how you could still be in to Pokemon cards. How will there be any left?

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Your “Ashes, Ashes”, Peppa the Pig Christmas

1 year, 8 months.

Dear Holly,

It is my job to remind you what Christmas 2017 was like, since you likely won’t remember. For one, you were quite proud of the Peppa the Pig sneakers Nonna got for you.

Since Christmas, you have insisted on wearing them inside our home; even for your naps in your crib. As I wrap you up in your blanket before I lay you down, I have to wrap the blanket around your shoes. But this is what you want.

You also took a liking to the nursery rhyme, Ring Around the Rosie. Much of your fascination for the song and dance is that now you are beginning to repeat certain words, you like to say, “ashes, ashes” while holding hands with anyone who will sing with you; as you know that is the key phrase that allows you to immediately stumble to the ground and laugh.

Therefore, you have a habit of inserting “ashes, ashes” pretty much right after the opening line, “Ring around the rosie…”

Since coming back from Nonna and Papa’s during those 5 days for Christmas break, I have helping you play with all your new toys.

It’s not uncommon for you to suddenly smile at me, stand up, reach out for my hands, and then wait for me, as if to say, “Daddy, aren’t you going to start singing the song?”

The moment I do, you’re ready for your favorite part… ashes, ashes.

I should point out that you’re not simply just falling down in a carefully calculated, casual way.

No, instead, you act like you just slipped on a sheet of ice and then tumble and roll on your side, and lay still for a moment; as if you’re waiting for someone to say, “Oh no, Holly fell down! Holly, are you okay?”

But there you are, smiling up at your audience, so far not realizing that no one else ever takes the fall in Ring Around the Rosie as seriously as you do.

Love,

Daddy

Love,

Daddy

Stay-at-Home Dad 101: Christmas is Over, Yet I’m Still Home with the Kids

In a normal version of reality, I would be back in my office today. My wife and I would be paying for our kids to be in day care all day, or we would have left our kids at my parents’ house all week while the daycare was closed.

But now, there’s no need. Because… Daddy’s home!

Not only do my kids get to just hang out here in the aftermath of their Christmas gifts as my wife returned to work today, but I myself don’t have to return to an office and force a smile while I have to answer everyone’s annoying questions about how my Christmas was.

I am also grateful that I didn’t have to negotiate with co-workers, leading up to Christmas, which of us would have to work certain days. Where I worked, it was normal that at least one person from each department would have to consider working certain days either on or immediately following holidays.

Now that I am completely removed from that setting, none of it matters anymore. My schedule is now exclusively based around the two young children; one of whom can pretty much take care of himself.

I am still soaking it all in; to experience the days in between the Christmas holidays and the days before day cares open back, with my kids.

It’s funny because when I first adopted my new role as stay-at-home dad, I don’t suppose I really considered that I would be completely replacing child day care during the holidays as well during the summer. Somehow, that part caught me by surprise a little.

But it’s no big deal. I can take care of my own kids all day long. All week long. All summer long.

It’s easier to take care of two kids than it is to take care of adults, actually.

Dear Jack: You Were Completely Fascinated by Visiting Santa

7 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack,

I must say that after celebrating 7 Christmases with you, this has so far been the most exciting for me to see you anticipate. Yes, that’s right… I get excited to so you so excited!

The best way I could word it, is that this year, you took your visit with Santa so seriously, that you nearly treated it as a business transaction.

You knew you must depend on him seeing your wish list and that your presentation may have an affect you actually getting what you asked for. On your list, you specifically wrote on your paper:

Hatchimal

Halo sets

Pokemon

You were truly on your best behavior. I’d even go as far as to say you were the most polite, well-behaved child in that room.

And as your sister became frightened by Santa, as she doesn’t understand who he is, the way you do, you were there to help calm her down.

However, I’m sure Santa must have been a little confused as to how he’s supposed to bring you more Pokemon cards, when you already seem to have them all! Oh well, we will just have to let him sort that one out.

As we were leaving, I discreetly asked you, “Jack, was that the real Santa?”

You immediately replied, “Yes. You could tell because his beard was attached to his face and he had long hair.”

To you, there was no question about it. Not only was that the real Santa, but you definitely believe in him. Similarly, you still have just as much imagination and faith to hope that Pokemon characters are real, too.

So I know this is going to be one of your favorite Christmases. It’s so much fun when you have so much to believe in… and so many Pokemon cards to expect underneath the tree!

Love,

Daddy

 

Dear Holly: You Were a Bit Skeptical about Visiting Santa

1 year, 7 months.

Dear Holly,

Last Saturday afternoon our family went to go visit Santa. You were so excited as we got ready to leave the house. You didn’t get understand what was happening, you just knew it was going to be exciting.

When we first arrived, you and your brother wrote down your wish list to give to Santa. Mommy helped you out, as she and both know you really love dolls, owls, and books.

When Santa showed up, I may have suggested it was Papa, so that you weren’t afraid of such a colorful and boisterous stranger walking through the door.

However, when it was time for you sit in Santa’s lap and talk about what was on your wish list, you become aware that this indeed was not Papa!

You tried to escape, but I had to snap a few pictures first, so we could always remember this visit. When you brother walked up, you calmed down, but only from terrified to highly skeptical.

I must say, this all went much better than I anticipated for you. I completely understand your reluctance to just suddenly be cool with some larger-than-life character who isn’t part of your immediate family.

In fact, it’s a good thing you were so skeptical.

As you get older, you’ll find Santa to be a more intriguing and magical kind of guy. I’m sure in just a few years, you will be very eager to visit Santa and tell him all about what’s on your list.

If nothing else, you were there alongside your brother as he truly was fascinated by Santa. It was almost more like our family participating in this event for him, and the rest of us were just along for the adventure.

One day though, I’m sure you’ll be as excited as he was about visiting Santa.

Love,

Daddy

Stay-at-Home Dad 101: Time to Break Out the Black Chuck Taylors by Taking the Family to See Santa and Enjoy Dinner at Viking Pizza Co.

It’s crazy to think it’s been a whole year since I got my black Chuck Taylors for Christmas. Despite them only costing 40 bucks, I refrained from wearing them in 2017. I didn’t want to break them in and get them scuffed up, as if there were some epic event coming up in which I would need them in spotless condition; like my national TV debut or something…

Especially now that I’ve been at stay-at-home dad, for exactly 2 months as of today, it’s not like I really even get out of the house much anymore in situations where anyone would be need to be impressed by the sight of me.

But this past weekend, I decided to finally wear my unnecessarily sanctified Chuck Taylors that I got from my wife last year for Christmas.

It just so happens that Santa happened to be visiting this part of Tennessee, at a health store in Columbia, of all places. Sounds about right for a vegetarian/vegan family like mine to see Santa there, right?

Since the day was going so well and we were already having such great quality family time together, we decided to go out for dinner, at the same place we tried for the first time just the week before:

Viking Pizza Co. in Spring Hill, Tennessee.

We originally found the place when my son wanted to go on a “hike” on the giant hill next to the place. On our way back down the hill, he noticed a giant inflatable dragon through one of the windows. Being the biggest Pokemon fan I know, it’s the kind of thing that captured his attention.

When we got home, he immediately asked, “Mommy, can we go to the Viking pizza place with the big dragon?

That’s successful marketing right there: Place giant dragon on the restaurant floor. Have 7 year-old boy notice it. Have the boy’s whole family show up.

But once we arrived, my wife and I realized this was no gimmick. This was real pizza, cooked right there in the middle of the restaurant in a really expensive wood-fired oven.

And of course, because the folks at Viking Pizza Co. are paying attention to the fact that 6% of Americans are now vegan, I was easily able to order Daiya cheese on my veggie pizza. (They also have gluten-free crust, for those who prefer it.)

They were even courteous and proactive enough to bring over raw dough for my kids (and wife) to play with, which was a lifesaver, as it easily occupied my hungry son’s attention while our pizzas were carefully crafted; unlike a fast-food chain pizza joint.

The owners, Brandon and Kelly Jones, are so cool, down-to-earth, and proud that they have been able to bring a delicious, high quality, family friendly, restaurant experience in a town that is riddled with predictable and insulting-to-the-intelligence chain restaurants.

There’s a certain rewarding feeling you get when you take your family to a place like this. You know you are voting with your dollars what you want in your town. Just a few weeks ago, much of Spring Hill was emotionally affected by the iconic silo been torn down, so that a fried chicken chain-restaurant could go up.

So it’s yet another reason to want to support Viking Pizza Co. It’s like rebelling against the mainstream. There’s something quite viking about the concept…

Similarly, my wife and I are also huge fans of Legacy Coffee Company, which up until a few weeks ago, was a pick-up truck pulling a trailer. Now, they’ve set up shop inside of Viking Pizza Co.

We love supporting local! And it helps when local is awesome, like with Viking and Legacy.

So at last, I’ve broke in my black Chuck Taylors. I feel good about it. I just had to wait for the right deserving event.