Our 11th Wedding Anniversary Staycation in Franklin, Tennessee at the Hilton Franklin Cool Springs Hotel

What’s the best way for you and your spouse to celebrate your 11th wedding anniversary? Clearly, with your two kids at the Hilton right next to the building where you work.

At least, that was the case for me.

So I was able to just leave my Jeep right there in the parking lot and walk over to the Hilton Franklin Cool Springs hotel to spend July 4th with my family for the holiday- and for my wife and I to officially celebrate our 11th wedding anniversary; which was actually on July 5th.

We also arranged for our close friends Mohamad and Lena, along with their daughter who is our own daughter’s age, to stay on the same hall.

When it came time to decide where to go out for dinner, there weren’t a whole lot of restaurants open on the July 4th holiday; so naturally, we chose House of India. My wife and I loved it so much we decided we will definitely go back when it is just the two of us.

As a 38 year-old man, I just don’t end up in a swimming pool much these days. However, on July 4th in Tennessee, it gets so hot that if you’re going to be outside for any reason, it better be because you’re in a swimming pool.

I forgot how much fun swimming in a pool can be, especially when you’re entertaining kids.

Adjacent to the Executive Lounge (where I ended up having breakfast the next morning), there is huge deck where you can see all the way to Nashville in one direction, and all the way to Spring Hill where we actually live, in the other.

So for our 4th of July fireworks show, we had quite the view!

Staying at the Hilton Franklin Cool Springs hotel was definitely the right call for us on July 4th!

And for our actual anniversary on July 5th, we made our way to my hometown of Fort Payne, Alabama; where my wife and I actually had a night out by ourselves.

Stay tuned for the other half of this story…

Dear Jack: Your Ghost Tour Field Trip in Downtown Franklin, Tennessee near Mellow Mushroom

7 years, 11 months.

Dear Jack,

Yesterday was quite an adventure for you. As part of your school’s enrichment program this week for fall break, you got to go on a “ghost tour” with your friends.

A tour guide hopped on your school bus in the nearby town of Franklin, and told everyone ghost stories that apparently took place in those old buildings downtown; near Mellow Mushroom, actually.

Needless to say, last night’s dinner conversations were monopolized by you amazingly recalling every detail of each ghost story you heard.

Ghost soldiers from The Civil war in the basement of the old bank.

Ghost dogs in the yard.

Ghost owls in the barn.

So while I did feel kind of bad about you having to be at school when school was actually out for fall break, I quickly realized that going on a ghost tour was probably more fun than staying home would have been anyway.

Just watch out for those ghost cows at night, mooing in the field behind our house.

 

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: You Saw Your 1st Parade… By Accident

5 years, 6 months.

Dear Jack: You Saw Your 1st Parade... By Accident

Dear Jack,

On Saturday morning, our family decided to introduce your Aunt Jenny, Uncle Tom, and cousins Taylore and Rachel (visiting from Pennsylvania) to our favorite vegan-friendly pizza place: Mellow Mushroom in downtown Franklin, Tennessee; just 11 miles from our house.

Dear Jack: You Saw Your 1st Parade... By Accident

We were surprised at how difficult it was to find a parking space, though. Ultimately, we took the last remaining spot at the top of the downtown parking garage.

Dear Jack: You Saw Your 1st Parade... By Accident

All the girls wanted to stop by Starbucks first, which is 2 blocks away and across the street. By the time the girls got their coffee, we realized that people were lining up on the sidewalks, facing the street.

We soon learned that the Franklin Rodeo Parade would be beginning in 10 minutes, which explained why it was so difficult to find a place to park. Fortunately, the 8 of us had claimed the giant table next to the giant window, facing the street. In other words, we had front row seats for the parade.

Dear Jack: You Saw Your 1st Parade... By Accident

To my knowledge, you had never seen a parade before. Obviously, you enjoyed it! You loved the school bands- you were amazed by the tubas.

Dear Jack: You Saw Your 1st Parade... By Accident

You got to see horses, clowns, tiny eighteen-wheelers, classic cars, and people dressed up in animal costumes. Once you realized they were throwing candy, you decided to upgrade your seat to the sidewalk outside.

Dear Jack: You Saw Your 1st Parade... By Accident

After the parade ended, we made our way to Mellow Mushroom. Because of all the people who showed up for the parade, it was an hour wait to get a table.

Dear Jack: You Saw Your 1st Parade... By Accident

So we followed the girls around to the shops there on Main Street. Once we got to White’s Mercantile, you found something of interest: a wooden glider plane. Anytime you go to the dentist, you always choose the Styrofoam glider plane from the prize box; but now, you had access to the Lexus version.

While there, we noticed a decorative wooden box up on the shelf with your sister’s name on it: Holly.

Dear Jack: You Saw Your 1st Parade... By Accident

The girl running the cashier explained that Holly is the owner’s name; as in Holly Williams, the granddaughter of country music legend Hank Williams. I thought that was pretty cool.

Dear Jack: You Saw Your 1st Parade... By Accident

During lunch at Mellow Mushroom, you were preoccupied with building your glider plane, so I helped you with that as we waited on the food- though I admit, you knew how to do the rubber band part of the propeller before I could even figure it out.

Dear Jack: You Saw Your 1st Parade... By Accident

Once we got home, you and I tested out your plane in the backyard. The next afternoon, we all headed over the Arrington Vineyards for a picnic. It was a great area to fly your plane.

Dear Jack: You Saw Your 1st Parade... By Accident

Imagine this: Had we simply gone straight to Mellow Mushroom on Saturday, we would have missed the parade, as well as going into White’s Mercantile to buy your plane.

Dear Jack: You Saw Your 1st Parade... By Accident

It was just meant to be.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: You Saw Your 1st Parade... By Accident

Dear Jack: Webisodes 3, 4, 5 of Jack-Man: “One Bitten, Twice Nice”; “Backyard Brawl”; “Farmers’ Market”

4 years, 6 months.

Dear Jack: Webisodes 3, 4, 5 of Jack-Man: “One Bitten, Twice Nice”; “Backyard Brawl”; “Farmers’ Market”

Dear Jack,

Friday morning you woke up at 5:30 and wanted to watch something on the Kindle. I explained that it was still time to be asleep, but if you didn’t want to lay in bed for another 30 minutes until it was time to get up; that you and I could make another Jack-Man episode instead.

It seemed like the better option to you, so Webisode 3 was born…

So from 5:30 to 6:30 AM Friday morning, the two of us were filming while Mommy got ready for work. Then you and I had to hurry to get ready for school and work ourselves.

While I do plan to record most webisodes outside, we made this one mainly inside; as Green Meanie sends Monster Man into Jack-Man’s closet to scare him.

I wanted this episode to be a bit more on the thrilling side. I wanted to see Jack-Man confronted with one of the most familiar (imagined) fears of young children: discovering there is a monster in the closet.

Hopefully, this story line is unique in that there actually is a threatening monster in the closet. But of course, Jack uses his quick thinking to utilize a way to quench the enemy.

Obviously every superhero series has an edge of darkness to it. In this webisode, I wanted to introduce a more intense combat scene with the scariest villain yet.

The audience is seeing that while Green Meanie isn’t one to physically attack Jack-Man himself, he prefers to send members of his infinite henchmen army to attempt to defeat Jack-Man.

Green Meanie is more evil and greedy that he appears. After all, he has access to a Monster Man!

Dear Jack: Webisodes 3, 4, 5 of Jack-Man: “One Bitten, Twice Nice”; “Backyard Brawl”; “Farmers’ Market”

It is becoming evident that Jack-Man isn’t in this alone. That is why in Webisode 4, “Backyard Brawl”, we meet Jack-Man’s cousin and fellow superhero, Super Calla; which is short for Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. However, Green Meanie also brings his family along, which leads to an epic fight in Jack-Man’s backyard.

We were able to do this webisode thanks to my family being in town for Memorial Day weekend.

Dear Jack: Webisodes 3, 4, 5 of Jack-Man: “One Bitten, Twice Nice”; “Backyard Brawl”; “Farmers’ Market”

And actually, last Saturday morning while they still were driving in, you and I shot Webisode 5, “Farmer’s Market”, at the Franklin Factory. It was the first time we did a webisode in front of the unassuming public.

I think my favorite one so far is Webisode 4, “Backyard Brawl.” It was a lot of fun for our family!

Love,

Daddy