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: 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

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

6 years, 3 months.

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

Dear Jack,

Just a few weeks ago, you and I had our first official Weekend of Manliness when we ventured to Monster Jam, saw Rogue One, and went sledding in the snow. Fortunately, with your Grandma visiting from California to help watch your baby sister, you and I got to spend plenty of time together again; aside from spending last weekend together at the Children’s Hospital for your near-bout with surgery.

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

We started out our 2nd Weekend of Manliness on Saturday morning by putting on our special father and son socks by Pair of Thieves, which included a matching pair for both the kid and the dad. Mommy got them for us at Christmas, and I figured this event one be the best event to try them out.

You and I both agreed they are the most comfortable socks we have ever worn! In fact, this morning when I was getting you dressed for school, you insisted on wearing them for the 3rd day in a row. (Shhh… we won’t let Mommy know about that.)

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

Our journey began when we took off in own beast-on-wheels (my 2004 Honda Element, which I’ve now officially owned for 11 years!) to go see the Monster Trucks movie. You have been wanting to see it ever since last summer when we saw the first trailer for it while watching the newest Star Trek movie.

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

We enjoyed it so much we both agreed that we already want to see it again!

I left it up to you where we we’d go for lunch. I shouldn’t have been surprised- you decided on your favorite: Moe’s. You admitted to me that you chose it because you knew you’d get a juice box and a cookie with your meal. I’m always happy to go there because, as a manly vegan, I can get plenty of healthy veggies and protein when I order their “Earmuffs with tofu.”

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

Afterwards, we headed home for a Netflix movie of your choice: To my surprise, you choose an old American classic from 1975: Steven Spielberg’s Jaws. I feared it would be too slow of a pace for you, but you loved every minute of it; just like you loved Jurassic Park.

I was amazed when they caught the shark they thought was the culprit, and you immediately blurted out, “Hey Daddy, that’s a tiger shark! I can tell because of the stripes!”

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

Just moments later, Richard Dreyfuss’s character (Hooper) confirmed you were right; when he explained to the other characters in the movie that a tiger shark could not be responsible for the attacks because its bite radius wasn’t big enough.

Seriously, you are such a smart kid! I understand that perhaps Jaws wouldn’t be most 6 year-old kids’ first choice for a movie to watch with their dad on a lazy Saturday afternoon, but it’s clear that your fascination with science (and animals, in particular) led you to be glued to this movie. You loved watching the 3 main characters hunt for the killer shark.

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

On a related note, your glow-in-the-dark dinosaur fossil decals arrived: Your bedroom has a new, relevant look to match what you’re into these days.

It had been a few hours since our manly meal on Moe’s, soo I made an executive decision for us to swing by Jamba Juice, which was about half-way (and right off the Interstate) to downtown Nashville, where we would be experiencing ArenaCross for the first time.

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

When we arrived, I realized our seats were indeed right next to my co-worker Stephanie’s family; who won the giveaway tickets on my blog a couple of weeks ago. Even though her daughter is a 4th grader and you are a Kindergartner, the two of you quickly became buddies!

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

We watched the motorcycles fly high into the air as they raced around the track. I learned over and asked you, “Jack, do you ever want to ride one of those bikes?”

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

You shook your head “no” but I’m not convinced. I could tell you thought it was really cool.

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

Our 2nd Weekend of Manliness was a success, as we knew it would be. We shall be ever ready for our next special father and son weekend!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

Dear Jack: I Haven’t Forgot about You over There

6 years, 3 months.

Dear Jack: I Haven’t Forgot about You over There

Dear Jack,

I experience guilt over you. I don’t get to spend enough time with you.

However, it’s not an issue of choice. It’s not that I could be spending time with you but am choosing not to.

Instead, it’s that in order to make a living for our family, Mommy and I both have to work. That’s nothing unique. That’s a normal problem.

But it presents a lifestyle in which despite living in a wonderful neighborhood and you being able to attend one of the best schools in the Nashville area, Mommy and I have to spend so much of our time commuting- and therefore, you spend time at “before care” in addition to being at Kindergarten most of the day.

During the week, my time is so limited with you. Every morning, I get you ready for school and drop you off. Every night we eat dinner together and then I get you ready for bed. All time combined, that’s barely an hour.

So really, it’s mainly just the weekends where I get to spend time with you. Granted, we’re having to buy groceries, clean the house, run errands, and go to church.

Not to mention, I’m constantly taking care of your baby sister when we’re all together.

I’m not able to pay you the attention I want. You don’t demand it. But I’m not able to give you what I want.

That’s why I treasure our quality time together. That’s why I make the most of it.

I experience guilt over this. I don’t know what else I can do though.

This is simply what I know as being a modern-day American parent who works full time and lives in a commuter’s community.

I wish could be with you more. You’re worth so much more than I can give you.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Daddy’s Phone is Your Holy Grail

8 months.

Dear Holly: Daddy’s Phone is Your Holy Grail

Dear Holly,

Coming out of the Christmas season, you have plenty of cute toys for a little girl your age. And it’s not that you don’t appreciate what you have, it’s just now that you crawl around any chance you get, you suddenly have the ability to stake out that most fascinating toy of all… my phone.

As I lay down on my side next to you as you’re playing, you get this sneaky look on your face. Then you pull yourself up on my hip, as to sort of look over the “fence”, in an attempt to scope out that magical toy you know is laying on the carpet a few feet behind me.

At this point, you instantly gain more than enough confidence in yourself- you suddenly hoist yourself over me, face first, onto the other side. It looks awkward and painful.

But for you, it’s worth it.

Dear Holly: Daddy’s Phone is Your Holy Grail

By the time I turn my body over to face you, it’s too late.

The smile on your face says it all.

No, this isn’t one of your plastic toy phones. This is Daddy’s phone. This is your equivalent of the Holy Grail.

Granted, I always know what you’re doing from the moment I see that sneaky look of yours. I just let it happen. I enjoy watching you work so hard for something that gives you so much joy.

It’s as if you think I didn’t see you find my phone, so then you try to hide it to try to save it for later, like a hidden treasure. Your current go-to hiding spot for my phone is under the rug in the guest bathroom.

You’ve yet to turn my phone settings to Spanish or call someone I barely remember who still happens to be saved in my contacts.

Even at just 8 months old, you know my phone is off-limits and against the rules. Therefore, nothing is more alluring!

Love,

Daddy