Dear Jack: You Love Helping Nonna Clear the Backyard

8  years, 11 months.

Dear Jack,

Nonna and Papa have lived in their house for exactly 24 years, as of this month. I was just starting high school when we moved in.

But there are parts of that 2 acre lot that are just now being developed; largely inspired by the industrial grade playground that Papa has starting installing.

You have quickly assigned yourself the responsibility of helping to clear part of the land right beyond the playground; using a hatchet and helping maintaining the fire from the cleared brush.

What you don’t realize is that this is ultimately free child labor…

But to you, it’s nothing but fun and adventure!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Your Brand-New Industrial Grade Playground Swing

3 years, 5 months.

Dear Holly,

Having a Papa who works at a playground equipment factory means that you when visit your grandparents’ house in Alabama, you have access to a backyard playground that is above and beyond the norm.

Last weekend, the debut of your brand-new industrial grade swing was revealed.

You loved it so much, you just didn’t want to stop swinging in it.

At one point, you swung in it for a solid hour and a half before Mommy said it was time to go in for dinner.

You have the Cadillac of all playground swings for a 3 year-old girl!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: The Indoor Camp Out with Nonna and Papa

8 years, 3 months.

Of all Saturday nights for the power to go out for a couple of hours, it just happened to be the one where Mommy and I weren’t there.

We were staying at a hotel about 20 miles away, while Nonna and Papa were in town from Alabama to take care of you and your sister.

But the power outage was no problem- in fact, it was probably more exciting…

You and your sister got to camp out on the floor of the bedroom with Nonna and Papa; using blankets as sleeping bags, as you both held on to some of your favorite stuffed animals.

As you can see from this picture, your sister was proud to be a part of all the fun!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Yes, You Do Your Own Stunts!

2 years, 3 months.

Dear Holly,

After Nonna and Papa had spent the weekend at our house while Mommy and I went to see Kenny Chesney in Nashville and then painted the back porch the next day, it was time for them to head back Sunday afternoon.

So I announced to you, “Holly, it’s time to say goodbye to Nonna and Papa…”

You immediately ran over to them, smiled, then ran the other way- towards the sofa.

All weekend, you had been showing off your furniture climbing skills. As if to give them one more little talent show before they left, you climbed right up the arm of the couch, then rolled yourself over onto the cushion.

From there, you hopped down, ran towards Nonna and Papa, then continued to repeat the sofa climb.

After several cycles through, Papa finally grabbed you for the official goodbye hug.

Otherwise, I think you could have easily gone another 30 minutes through your self-imposed obstacle course in the living room.

It’s clear to me that right now, one of the things that is definitely a part of your identity is your fearlessness. You demonstrated this to Nonna and Papa all weekend.

If you could climb it, you did. If you could jump from it, you did.

And never once did you fall or get hurt. Papa even witnessed you teach yourself how to do a somersault, as you were running so fast across the living room floor that you stumbled, fell forward, then instinctively pushed yourself up after your legs had already flipped over your head.

I can’t help but think how this ends up translating to your interests and activities as you get a little older.

Gymnastics? Yeah, that’s a given.

But I’m even thinking indoor rock climbing. That may be the thing that’s actually challenging enough for you!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Your All-Business Approach to Having Nonna Take Care of You

1 year, 6 months.

Dear Holly,

Last weekend I took you and your brother to Alabama to spend time with Nonna and Papa, which gave Mommy a chance to get caught up on work back in Tennessee. I was there with you, of course, but I couldn’t help but notice you chose to rely on Nonna for your needs instead of me.

Whenever you got hungry or felt you needed a diaper change, you simply took it upon yourself to walk over to your travel bag, pull out what you needed, then make your way across the room to Nonna.

With no words necessary, you simply looked up at her without even a smile on your face; but with a diaper in one hand and a fruit pouch in another. It was simply implied:

“Alright, Nonna. You’re the head matriarch figure in this room so I guess I’m supposed to bring this stuff to you. Let’s go ahead and get to work then.”

It’s slightly fascinating to me that you’re wired to having the most mothering person in the room take care of your physical needs. Whenever it’s just you and me at our house, you obviously solely depend on me for these things. You know good and well I am more than qualified to serve you.

But apparently, I become the 2nd most qualified person for the job if Nonna is in the room.

Obviously, you’re not old enough to comprehend that Nonna is actually my Mommy.

That doesn’t matter. You just know you’re better off having her open your bag of organic cheddar crackers instead of me.

Or maybe, this is your way of giving your Daddy a break. Maybe you’re just that intuitive; to realize that Daddy wouldn’t mind being off-duty every once in a while…

Nah. 

You know me too well. I’m always on the clock for you.

Love,

Daddy

 

Dear Jack: You’re Back from Summer Vacation 2017 at Nonna and Papa’s

6 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack,

This has been the longest amount of time that Mommy and I have spent without you; 10 whole days!

Obviously, we called you on video phone at least once a day, thanks to Facebook messenger. That way, CIA members in Hawaii were also able to catch up on all you’ve done while spending your summer vacation in Alabama.

I say that jokingly (?) because Mommy and I went through the trouble of renting some movies from Redbox while you were gone; Snowden being one of them.

Yes, it was much quieter without you in our house for 10 days, but I have to say, it wasn’t as good. Mommy and I are too accustomed to having a 6 year-old expert inform us of little known facts about dinosaurs and Pokemon.

And obviously, your baby sister kept looking for you the whole time. She kept pointing to your pictures on the wall, doing her best to pronounce your name.

But finally, you got back a week ago and now we can get back to the norm. We missed our little boy!

Speaking of Facebook, Nonna was faithful to keep us posted every couple of hours on whatever fun thing that she and Papa were taking you to do. It became obvious quick that you were not simply just hanging out at their house. No, you were on the move!

You went hiking, to a splash pad, to scrap yard, and to see The Emoji Movie; just to name a few!

Of course, you loved being able to spend time playing with your cousins the whole time as well.

And now the summer has officially come to a close. A week ago you started 1st grade!

Yes, you are now our brilliant 1st grader son. First grade is going to be great.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Spring Break 2017 at Nonna and Papa’s House

6 years, 4 months.

Dear Jack,

For your first official spring break, you spent the week in Alabama with Nonna and Papa. The whole time, Nonna was sending me pictures and texts from her phone, to keep Mommy and me updated on what you were doing that day. Of course, we also called you every night, as well.

This made your 3rd time to stay with Nonna and Papa for a week. And you made yourself right at home. Here are the texts Nonna sent me…

Jack making his strawberry muffins.

Jack wants to know if these are go-bots or transformers. It’s cooking Transformers.

Time to wash Nonna’s car!

Boys just gotta have fun! (in puddle)

Darla has had so much fun with Jack this week. They are just like puppies!

Two peas in a pod.

Tonight’s Masterpiece (dragon drawing)

Lunch with Calla.

Jack cleaning.

Something really special that you were able to do was to visit your cousin Calla at her school; as she is also in Kindergarten. You met her for lunch, then got a brief tour of the school.

You also got to hang out with Darla, her sister, at Aunt Dana’s house.

I see that you apparently enjoyed doing some chores while you were at Nonna and Papa’s house; though I suppose there’s a certain amount of messiness that comes along with those chores.

You definitely have an independence about you that I didn’t gain until I was a teenager. That actually means me feel proud, as your parent. I want to know that you’re not afraid to live outside your comfort zone and routine.

I would have never been okay, as a Kindergartner, with spending an entire week at my grandparents’ house, nearly 3 hours away.

But what can I say, you’re one adventurous boy!

Love,

Daddy