Dear Holly: The Memorial Day Block Party 2021

5 years, 1 month.

Dear Holly,

Last Saturday in Alabama, Aunt Dana and Uncle Andrew hosted a block party in their backyard for Memorial Day Weekend.

You and your cousin Darla especially loved the big inflatable jumpy house with a waterslide!

A year ago, people weren’t able to get together like this. I feel like here lately, at least for our family, we’re finding reasons to have big gatherings with family and friends; like the Easter Egg Hunt and my 40th birthday party at Nonna and Papa’s house.

The summer is here- and this year, we get to hang out with other people too!






Dear Jack: Strep Throat on Memorial Day Weekend 2016

5 years, 6 months.

Dear Jack: Strep Throat on Memorial Day Weekend 2016

Dear Jack,

The trend last week among kids in pre-school in the Nashville area was to catch Strep Throat for the first time. Your best friend Libby caught it, then you did the next day. Fortunately, your high fever of 104 signaled Mommy to take you to the doctor before the sore throat symptom ever kicked in.

Afterwards, I picked up your prescription from Publix, which was actually completely free; must be some kind of deal that Publix has worked out with the state of Tennessee.

Had the Strep Throat really gotten a good hold on you, we wouldn’t have been able to travel to Nonna and Papa’s house in Alabama for Memorial Day weekend. You really didn’t know any signs of being sick the whole time.

Dear Jack: Strep Throat on Memorial Day Weekend 2016v

Mommy made sure though, that your water bottles were especially labelled. Even then, I still accidentally ended up drinking of it. Hopefully, my vegan immune system will be strong enough to fight off the germs before they ever do any damage.

Nonna had recently bought a Cozy Coupe car, second hand. You loved driving it around the house, making an obstacle course of furniture and human beings.

Dear Jack: Strep Throat on Memorial Day Weekend 2016

While I took a 90 minute nap on Saturday, you played outside with Nonna and Poppa. Based on the pictures Mommy took, it looks like there was a water house, barrel, and sidewalk chalk involved, which temporarily stayed your face a charcoal color.

Dear Jack: Strep Throat on Memorial Day Weekend 2016

Afterwards, you cooled off by coming inside and baked “crispy poop”, which was obviously your own idea. You mixed up cocoa powder and other various ingredients in a bowl and then Nonna baked it in the oven for you.

Dear Jack: Strep Throat on Memorial Day Weekend 2016

To my surprise, you actually ate some of it… and liked it!

You also really enjoyed playing hide-and-seek with your cousin Calla. We celebrated her 5th birthday a few weeks early.

Despite having Strep Throat, you had a great time anyway. Good thing we got the medicine so early!



Dear Jack: Strep Throat on Memorial Day Weekend 2016

Dear Holly: You Met Your Alabama Cousins on Memorial Day Weekend 2016

5 weeks.

Dear Holly: You Met Your Alabama Cousins on Memorial Day Weekend 2016

Dear Holly,

Whereas a few weeks ago you met your Pennsylvania cousins when they drove down to Tennessee, this past weekend we drove to Alabama to meet your only cousins on my side of the family.

Not only did you meet your cousins Darla (who is 6 months old) and Calla (who is turning 5 years old in a few weeks, so we celebrated her birthday while we were all together), but you also met your Uncle Andrew and Aunt Dana (my sister), as well as your Great Uncle Al and Great Aunt Sharon.

Dear Holly: You Met Your Alabama Cousins on Memorial Day Weekend 2016

It just so happened that you and Darla happened to own and be wearing the same “Super Awesome” shirt.

Nonna and Aunt Dana both commented you act like a little kitten. I had never thought about that before, but I totally see it now.

One of my favorite pictures I took from the trip was when I was packing up our bags in the hatchback of my Honda Element and saw Papa saying goodbye to your brother Jack. It appeared Papa was kissing Jack on the forehead, meanwhile you witnessed the event in wonder.


I love the look on your face, as a month-old baby, as you tried to figure out what was going on in the seat next to you.

At this point in your life, you’re still probably trying to distinguish who any person is beyond Mommy, me, and Jack.

Because right now your life pretty much revolves around your immediate needs being met, that’s about the extent of your understanding of love.

As you get older, you will be able to understand how much your family loves you, beyond just feeding you, changing your diapers, and helping you get to sleep.

Seriously, that look on your face is very special to me. It’s you looking at your future; the ability to truly understand love beyond dirty diapers and formula in a bottle.



Dear Holly: You Met Your Alabama Cousins on Memorial Day Weekend 2016

dad from day one: She’s Starting to Show

Seventeen weeks.

As I predicted earlier, the process of coming to terms with the fact that my wife and I will actually be bringing a baby into this world is one that is done in phases; yes, the inevitable comparison of peeling back the layers of an onion.  With each new proof of life inside of my wife’s womb, another new sense of realization happens, often accompanied with my own eyes “watering”.

(Conveniently for me and my onion reference, this week our baby is the size of an onion.)

It’s official- my wife is starting to show.  And she’s “carrying the baby high”, which often is a clue that it’s a girl.  We took a trip to target on Memorial Day in an attempt to find some “stretchy pants”.  While she didn’t find what she was looking for, I ended up walking out of there with a 3 disc set of Hall & Oates greatest hits for $15- so it all worked out.

The Bump says:

“Baby’s skeleton is hardening, changing from rubbery cartilage to bone, and fat is finally accumulating around it. The umbilical cord is getting thicker and stronger, and those little fingers and toes are now topped by one-of-a-kind prints.”

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:



The Mute Button (Laryngitis)

 I have become Larry N. Gitus.

There were certain plot devices that seemed to be especially rampant in sitcoms and movies of the 1980’s.  Like quicksand.  Good thing there was always conveniently a drooping branch or vine hanging off a nearby tree in which the sinking character was could grab onto, often thanks to the assistance of a timely passerby or a heroic Labrador Retriever. 

Another one was amnesia.  Began three minutes into the episode and lasted until three minutes from the end of it, when the character would get hit on the head and instantly remember who they were and gain their normal personality back. 

The third exhausted plot device of the 1980’s that comes to mind is the one I’ve been suffering with for the past two days: laryngitis.  Whenever the weather goes through an extreme change (it’s been cold and rainy for the past two months, then finally, this weekend, Nashville switched gears to a hot and sunny climate again) my body suffers some sort of random condition. 

Like painful sinus pressure in my teeth.  Or sensitive body aches.  Or lack of appetite. 

But this time, I lost my voice.  Yesterday all I could do was whisper.  No vocal tone whatsoever.  As for today, my best moments have been the phantom groups of 15 minutes where I could talk, but sound like Brad Garrett (the Jewish actor who played the Italian character Robert Barone, Raymond’s older brother on Everybody Loves Raymond).  I sound like a victim of scandal being interviewed on 20/20, having my voice disguised with a voice modulator.  But that’s only when I’m lucky.

During my usual bike ride through the park during my lunch break, a guy ahead of me was walking while talking on his Blue Tooth, in the middle of the path.  There was no way to warn him I was coming up behind him.  So I just moved to the edge of one side to stay out of his way.  But I still really scared him as I slowed down to ride past him.  Too bad I didn’t have a bull horn. 

Then I could have scared him even more.

Losing my voice has only happened to me one other time, and that was only for half a day.  I’m hoping to be able to speak by the end of the week.  It’s very frustrating as the event planner of my family (my dad is the mechanic/carpenter, my brother-in-law is the computer whiz) not being able to call everyone to make plans for Memorial Day. 

Text messages and emails are a good thing, but still there’s nothing like being able to use words out loud.

But until I get my voice back, I least I can write.  It would have been a horrible week not to, with the finale of LOST and the premiere of Ali Fedotowsky’s Bachelorette season in the same week.

Like a young child just learning to speak but who is frustrated because they can only get certain phrases out that make sense to other people, so am I.  Not to mention the frustration I constantly try to manage amidst all the well-meaning people around me who think it’s funny that I sound like Donald Duck or a big dumb ape.  

And the irony is, I’d laugh with them all as they tease me.  If only I literally could.