Dear Jack: Your Reptile-Themed 9th Birthday Party

9 years.

Dear Jack,

This year for your birthday party, I feel like it’s safe to say that both Mommy and I were feeling a bit ambitious, as we hosted ten of your 9 year-old friends at our home. Notably, there were all boys.

You were very involved in the planning process, though. The theme: Reptiles.

It was your idea to start out by having all your friends paint a wooden snake at our kitchen table.

Next up on the agenda was to play “Pin the Tongue on the Cobra”… of course!

Then, I took you and your friends out on a scavenger hunt hike around the walking trail in our neighborhood:

Jack’s 9th Birthday Scavenger Hunt Hike

As a group, the following items must be discovered and tasks must be completed.

If not, no one gets pizza or cake- and Jack can’t open his presents- he has to give the presents back.

-Corn cob

-American flag

-Poisonous berries

-7 dog poop signs

-P on door

-Owl on door

-4 painted metal signs of flowers- blue, red, green, yellow

-Predators’ flag

-3 signs of a man with a floating head

-Everyone throws a black walnut into the woods from the top of the stairs

-Everyone runs backwards across a wooden bridge

-Everyone sits on a bench at the same time

-Everyone yells “Happy Birthday Jack!” on the same side of a tunnel, while he’s on the other side

(I helped you all out by pointing to the big letter “P” on our neighbors’ door, as that’s the letter that their last name begins with.)

It was perfect timing- because by the time we all returned to our house, the pizza had just been delivered.

I can not remember the last time I had Domino’s pizza, but I was thoroughly impressed!

And of course, the finale of the party was letting you all have a massive swordfight with inflatable snakes out in the cul-de-sac.

Your birthday party went so well that I suppose we could get away with hosting it at our house again next year!



Today is My Wife’s Birthday, Meaning She and I are Both 38, While Our Our Daughter is 3 Years, 3 Months and Our Son is 8 Years, 8 Months!

Today is my wife’s 38th birthday! I have been 38 since April, as we were born just a few months apart.

I realized as my wife was putting the candles on her birthday cake that the reason we so easily had a “3” and an “8” candle was because those are the ages our both our children; from their most recent birthdays.

But even more amazing and coincidental than that…

Our daughter is currently 3 years, 3 months old.

And for the next 5 days, our son will be 8 years, 8 months.

Here’s one more visual, just to help grasp the concept:

Me: 38.

My wife: 38.

Our daughter: 3 years, 3 months.

Our son: 8 years, 8 months.

I just had to share that so everyone else could appreciate the phenomenon while it is still valid!

Dear Holly: Celebrating Your 3rd Birthday at Our House Yesterday

3 years old.

Yesterday for your 3rd birthday in the middle of the week, we waited until all 4 of us were home at the same time, after work and school, to open your birthday presents.

Instead of getting you one main gift, Mommy and I selected several smaller gifts, like a backpack and new set of clothes for one of your baby dolls and a pretend make-up kit, as well as Elsa and Anna sunglasses.

Mommy stopped by Whole Foods on the way home and picked us up a smaller family size cake to celebrate after dinner.

By the way, you are convinced that the pretend lipstick is real.

You keep applying it, looking in your play mirror to see the results.

You had a fun little 3rd birthday.

Dear Holly,



Dear Holly: A Father’s Letter to His Daughter on Her 3rd Birthday

3 years old!

Dear Holly,

Today is your 3rd birthday. I love it that our birthdays are just 4 days apart, because by the time my birthday wears off, yours begins!

I feel that I am definitely getting my money’s worth for having a 3 year-old daughter who loves Frozen and Peppa Pig.

However, I love knowing that you are so excited about something so not-girly as the big black Jeep Wrangler I am finally getting in a couple of weeks.

There’s no way for you to understand how much I love you… or how much I think about how our relationship will be when you get older.

Hopefully, this letter will help. I have always adored you.

I love you,



Today is My 37th Birthday, Meaning I’m Now in My Late 30s and Officially Pushing 40… And I’m Very Happy About It!

In a way, birthdays are sort of funny to me. It’s almost like “Happy Birthday” translates as “congratulations on not dying so far”; especially the further along you get to certain milestone years, like 40, which I’m now officially pushing.

But my mom, who turned 60 last week, has always been the perfect example of what it means to age with grace; to embrace and celebrate every year you’ve shared with the people who love on this planet.

I am now officially in my late 30s. And I am very happy about that.

No, I would not wish to be younger. Because I am now too reliant on all the wisdom I’ve earned by being alive 37 years.

I’m sure I used to, but I no longer fantasize about going back in time with the knowledge I have now.

That’s ridiculous. Instead, it’s about using that knowledge to make the most of the rest of my life.

What are some of these nuggets of wisdom I’ve learned in my 30s?

It’s always a personal decision whether or not you let other people offend or insult you.

Likewise, it’s always a choice whether you forgive another person. But if you take responsibility over your own emotions and don’t let the rest of the world have control over how you feel, then there’s much less need to forgive other people anyway.

I’ve learned that the default of the human experience is to allow yourself to be the victim. But it’s a proactive choice to decide to be a victor instead.

Maybe those things sound like Joel Osteen’s leftovers, but to me, they are trophies. Applying that knowledge has undeniably improved my quality of life.

And no, I didn’t learn those things from a pastor of a megachurch or a multi-million dollar motivational speaker.

I learned them from surviving my early and mid 30s. I learned them the hard way.

I lived it. I earned it. I value it.

So you can imagine, I’ve very excited about using that psychological gold for the rest of my 30s.

Alright, 40s, here I come!

Dear Jack: A Dad’s Letter to His Son on His 6th Birthday

6 years old today!

Dear Jack: A Letter from a Dad to His Son on His 6th Birthday

Dear Jack,

Today you turn 6 years-old. You’ve never been more independent than you are today.

To me, as your Daddy, that’s what makes this birthday special. That’s what makes you so grown-up now.

This is your first birthday as a kid who is not in day care or preschool.

This is your first birthday as a boy who is able to sound out and read words.

This is your first birthday as a big brother.

I love seeing you develop your own style and identity. You chose on your own that you wanted a Mohawk last week. It goes well with your green army jacket. This is you becoming you.

It is an honor for me to raise you into the next stage of boyhood.

I won’t deny that as your Daddy, I am attempting to raise you in a way that gives you things I didn’t have when I was your age. I don’t mean material items.

In particular, I’m referring to self-confidence.

Dear Jack: A Letter from a Dad to His Son on His 6th Birthday

As a kid, I was shy and unsure of myself. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was. I didn’t start truly gaining confidence and formulating my own identity until was about twice your age, when I was in junior high.

But I can already see, at age 6, you already have it.

And that’s something I’ll continue to nurture in you. Our quality time together is often based on me pushing you to try new adventurous things.

Though I’m very happy about how my life turned out, I still want even better for you. Undeniably, you are smarter than I was. It’s easy for me to imagine all amazing ways you’ll be able to apply that intelligence along with your confidence.

I know that with you, I have something special. I am raising an exceptional boy. I love you more than you can know.



Dear Jack: A Dad’s Letter to His Son on His 2nd Birthday

Dear Jack: A Dad’s Letter to His Son on His 3rd Birthday

Dear Jack: A Dad’s Letter to His Son on His 4th Birthday

Dear Jack: A Dad’s Letter to His Son on His 5th Birthday

Dear Jack: Your “No Artificial Anything” Lego Themed 4th Birthday Party

Dear Jack: Your “No Artificial Anything” Lego-Themed 4th Birthday Party

4 years old.

Dear Jack,

It is true, you are now a 4 year-old! And I can absolutely without a doubt tell you that you had an awesome 4th birthday and birthday party.

Knowing the relevance of Legos, given the fact you will spend hours at a time building Optimus Prime and Dinobots, we booked your party months ago at a place called Bricks 4 Kidz.

Dear Jack: Your “No Artificial Anything” Lego-Themed 4th Birthday Party

That was the best decision for your party. Not only did you and your friends have a great time playing with Legos, but the parents felt at ease, yet still involved, with all the action.

Dear Jack: We Actually Let You Open Your Presents At Your Birthday Party

There were also optional peripheral activities going on for any of your friends who wanted to mix things up; like making a cool spiral design on a paper plate using a Lego-operated device.

Dear Jack: Your “No Artificial Anything” Lego-Themed 4th Birthday Party

This made the first birthday party you’ve had outside of our home; I quickly realized how stress-free it truly is when you don’t have to worry about anything.

Dear Jack: Your “No Artificial Anything” Lego-Themed 4th Birthday Party

Your birthday party was on autopilot; it flowed so well.

Dear Jack: Your “No Artificial Anything” Lego-Themed 4th Birthday Party

The only thing we were really responsible for was bringing the food, which, you know me… that’s a big deal.

I made sure that in addition to your party having a Lego theme, that it also had a “no artificial anything” theme as well.

Dear Jack: Your “No Artificial Anything” Lego-Themed 4th Birthday Party

These days, you really have to go out of your way to find “birthday food” that doesn’t have garbage ingredients in it, like artificial food dyes, animal bi-products, or mysterious chemicals.

Of course, for me, your vegan dad, I knew just where to look…

Dear Jack: Your “No Artificial Anything” Lego-Themed 4th Birthday Party

I reached out to Annie’s and GoGo Squeez and they helped donate the majority of the snacks for your party. They are just as passionate as I am about spreading the word about the importance of eating real food.

Dear Jack: Your “No Artificial Anything” Lego-Themed 4th Birthday Party

Obviously, your friends loved our Annie’s crackers & cookies and Go Go Squeez pouch buffet!

And that was in addition to your vegan birthday cake that I special ordered from Whole Foods. You said you wanted it to be chocolate with blue icing, so that’s exactly what you got.

Dear Jack: Your “No Artificial Anything” Lego-Themed 4th Birthday Party

It was so good…

No eggs, no dairy, no artificial dyes or flavors… no problem! We liked it so much that Mommy and I (jokingly?) talked about ordering another cake from Whole Foods to celebrate when we move into our new house in January.

Dear Jack: Your “No Artificial Anything” Lego-Themed 4th Birthday Party

So not only was there plenty of fun to be had at your 4th birthday party, but I was able to feel confident that I was serving you and your friends the best “birthday food” out there: Annie’s, Go Go Squeez, and Whole Foods vegan birthday cake.

Of course, there is that whole part about you opening the presents, but more on that in the next letter…



Dear Jack: Your “No Artificial Anything” Lego-Themed 4th Birthday Party