Dear Jack: Grandma’s T-shirt Quilt/Pfunky Griddle with Mommy/Labor Day Weekend

4 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack: Grandma’s T-shirt Quilt/Pfunky Griddle with Mommy

Dear Jack,

While we were in California last month for our official annual family vacation, Grandma (Mommy’s Mommy) began making a quilt from your t-shirts, including one also of Mommy’s that she wore while you were just a baby.

Grandma finished it last week and it arrived in the mail for you to enjoy. You’ve slept with it every night since then.

You and Mommy had off school and work on Friday so Mommy took you to the Pfunky Griddle in Nashville; a place we would frequent back when you were much younger and we lived closer to that side of the city.

Dear Jack: Grandma’s T-shirt Quilt/Pfunky Griddle with Mommy

As you can see from these pictures, you were very happy to be there! You got to make your very own chocolate chip pancakes, right there at the table.

It’s one of those quirky Nashville restaurants that tourists should definitely check out while visiting here. Lucky for you, the car ride there wasn’t all that long.

Friday night after I got off work, we drove to Alabama to visit my side of the family.

Amazingly, we didn’t shoot any videos, as I’m still finishing up our Family in a Camry series.

Dear Jack: Grandma’s T-shirt Quilt/Pfunky Griddle with Mommy

However, using my tripod and self-timer, I took a few “practice portraits” of our family. I say that because next month when we visit them again, I’ll be taking our official “matching ages” pictures, in which Mommy and I will be 34 years old, Aunt Dana and Uncle Andrew will be 31, you and your cousin Calla will both be 4, and so on…

What I learned from taking this practice portrait is that next time I need to zoom in after I take each photo to be sure everyone is looking at the camera.

I didn’t notice until the next day after we left, that you were looking in the wrong direction.





Dear Jack: Reading Bedtime Stories With A Scream Mask On

3 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack: Reading Bedtime Stories With A Scream Mask On

Dear Jack,

This past weekend for Labor Day, we took a road trip in the 2015 Buick LaCrosse through Chattanooga and then to your Nonna and Papa’s house. More on that later…

With all the driving around we did, Mommy and I needed to make sure you got a good nap on Sunday.

As we made our way upstairs to what used to be your Aunt Dana’s bedroom, you saw a Scream mask and a hockey mask I had from high school, lying in the floor of my bedroom which hasn’t been cleaned since… circa 1999.

You asked me to read you a bedtime story, while wearing the Scream mask, before you went down for your nap.

So I did…

For your story, I chose a book from my own childhood: Sesame Street’s Ernie Gets Lost.

I had to make sure my voice matched the character of the mask, so I did my best impression of the voice modulator used in the Scream movies.

You decided you wanted me to use a “quieter” voice instead, so I changed it to a good ole fashioned falsetto female voice, which was much more pleasant sounding- technically.

Keep in mind, this was all your idea. Good thing Mommy and I had the camera handy!

After nap time, the scary masks ended up downstairs and they were passed around for more entertainment. Your cousin Calla appreciated the masks as well, for some reason.

Dear Jack: Reading Bedtime Stories With A Scream Mask On

So yeah, it was pretty much the typical American Labor Day holiday… Scream mask and hockey mask included.

I have a feeling that when we drive back there in a month for your Uncle Andrew’s 30th birthday, you’re going to want me to wear the mask and read a bedtime story again.

This may have been the beginning of a new tradition! What should have been terrifying was simply entertaining, apparently serving as the best way to transition you to peaceful sleep.

[Cue Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.”]



Classic Home Videos

Where were you on Labor Day of 1990?Before there were reality shows starring idiots for us to pity/make fun of every week, or a phenomenon called YouTube where any fool can upload their tomfoolery for the entire world to see, there were two decades (the ‘80’s and ‘90’s) where we filmed opportune moments of our own lives and kept them to ourselves to laugh at.  And they became classic VHS gold, forever saved in our memories; ready material for reminiscing with those involved, in an instant’s notice.

The most honored tape of cherished memories still at my parents’ house is labeled “Labor Day ‘90”.  It had just been a few months earlier that my parents finally sacrificed a thousand dollars for the behemoth black-and-white-view-finder-equipped video recorder.  On that lazy afternoon at my Italian grandfather’s house with the whole family there, our lazy vacation day became a personal collection of gems. 

So maybe those moments aren’t funny to the rest of the world (not YouTube material), but to our family, the tape is hilarious every time we throw it in the now antique VHS player.  These moments include, but are not limited to the following:

“Is this thing gonna be that thang?”- My sister holds up to the camera in one hand a dandelion in which the wind had blown off the seeds, and in the other hand, a dandelion still with all its seeds in tact.  Then in her (at the time) Southern-fried accent asked the camera operator (my mom), “Is this thing gonna be that thang?”

“Can you figure it out?”-Sitting sideways on a plastic ribbon braided lawn chair with my arms behind my back, I faced the camera while my dad hid behind me, putting his arms out as my own.  As my mom asked me basic questions, none of which I seemed to know the answer, my dad used his arms to make motions to indicate it (he used his arms to scratch my head like I was thinking, etc.). 

It was pretty obvious he was behind me, not only for the fact that his arms were much bigger and darker than mine, but also because his mullet was showing in the shot.  Finally my mom (as the cameraman) asks the viewers at home, “Can you figure it out?”

“Nick and Dana… back up now!”-  My grandfather lived on five acres which he was very proud of and which was prone to appearances of wildlife.  In the front yard that day, he found a baby bird in nest in a small tree (only about five feet tall).  My mom walked the camera over to the tree, attempting to zoom in on the bird.  In the meantime, my sister and I (respectively ages 6 and 9) ran over to see if we could get a closer look at the bird. 

For fear of us scaring the bird away (like a baby bird is going to fly way…), my mom warned us, through clenched teeth (to keeping from scaring the baby bird away) “Nick and Dana… back up now!”  The hilarious part is that the whole time the camera was on the tree, the bird was barely visible up in the top corner of the shot. 

“I’m a winner!”- My dad, who a year later won 2nd place in the Northeast Alabama karate sparring tournament, was “play fighting” me.  Doing my best to ward off his slow-motion kicks and punches, he finally got me in a headlock.  He growled to me, “Say ‘I’m a winner’!  Say it!  Say it!”  I struggled to escape as he took me to the ground.  I gave in, with a clever twist.  I declared, “I’m a winner!” in a wimpy, Southern, nine year-old voice that in no way indicated what I was saying was true. 

We were the original comedians of comedy in our own worlds.  And even if we never get around to converting those video clips from VHS to digital format and eventually to YouTube, those classic hilarious moments in our minds are still better than any reality TV shows we’ll ever know.