Dear Jack: Your Pet Millipede That Miraculously (and Secretly) Survived a Week Somewhere Inside Our House

7 and a half years old!

Dear Jack,

Something I enjoy about writing these letters to you each week is that it’s my way of preserving memories of you at whatever age you are at the time. As of this week, you are now 7 and a half years old. I feel this story perfectly illustrates who you are right now, as a 7 and a half year-old boy in his last week of 1st grade.

As the school year is coming to a close, your teacher has been doing some extra special, extra fun things for your class. For example, she let you bring home (and keep) the class pet:

A millipede.

Nonna and Papa just happened to be in town that weekend. You loved showing off your millipede friend to them.

But then, the next today, Mommy shared this as her status update on Facebook:

The pet millipede escaped. #enoughsaid

That’s because the millipede amazingly escaped through the “breathing hole” that you punched into the plastic wrap covering the Rice Krispies bowl. This meant your pet was able to crawl upside-down along the plastic in order to escape.

I assured Mommy that if your pet millipede was smart enough to escape your homemade aquarium, it would be smart enough to find its way out of our house.

Fortunately, I was partially right, because a week later, Mommy shared this update:

Millipede update– he was found!! Alive and well 6 days after his disappearance. He was spotted hanging out by the front door, so we let him free and we bid him a nice farewell with some cilantro and celery leaves  So glad I never stepped on him 

When I say sometimes how you are a well-balanced kid, this is what I mean.

You’re a smart kid. You’re a well behaved kid.

And you love playing with bugs.

Perfect for a 7 and a half year-old boy, if you ask me!

Love,

Daddy

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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 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