Dear Holly: Our Friday Dinner Out for Mac-and-Cheese at the Mexican Restaurant

5 years, 7 months. 

Dear Holly,

At this point in my life, I truly do not enjoy eating out at restaurants. I like having complete control over what I eat- and I don’t want to have to pay more for food I can just prepare myself.

However, you have been asking for me to take you back to Acapulco Mexican restaurant near our house; as you declare they make the best mac-and-cheese! That’s where you had your dinner out for your 5th birthday, 7 months ago.

Needless to say, last Friday night, you completely cleaned your plate!

Plus, you were excited because when you ordered root beer with your meal, they brought it out in a real glass bottle instead of a kids’ cup.

I’m glad I could spend that time with you- as I know it meant so much to you!

And spending quality time with you is one of the most important things to me!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: You Chose Acapulco Mexican Grill for Your 5th Birthday Dinner

5 years.

Dear Holly,

For dinner the night of your 5th birthday, Mommy and I let you decide where you would like to go; out of all the restaurants in the area of Spring Hill, Tennessee; where we live.

You chose Acapulco Mexican Grill, which is in walking distance from our house.

(In fact, we’ve walked there for dinner on more than one occasion!)

It is a Mexican tradition that at the end of the meal, the wait staff comes to smash dessert in your face.

Since you are only 5, our waiter went easy on you by just barely dabbing your nose with whipped cream from a slice of cheesecake.

You thought it was so much fun!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Papa’s Surprise at His Birthday Dinner

9 years, 11 months.

Dear Jack,

Last night, we took Papa out for his birthday at Tito’s Mexican restaurant; the place in town that is subtly known for throwing whipped cream in your face if they find out it’s your birthday.

Plus, the food is really great!

I secretly signed to our waiter that it was Papa’s birthday… then waited for everyone to be finished eating, so that the wait staff would deliver the complimentary birthday sopapillas; along with the infamous whipped cream.

Unbeknownst to me, you were given to the responsibility of throwing the cream in Papa’s face.

You aimed for his mouth, but directly got his eye instead!

Dear Jack,

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: You Love Nonna’s Authentic Mexican Burritos

7 years, 10 months.

Dear Jack,

Last weekend as we spent the weekend in Alabama at Nonna and Papa’s house, you quickly learned how much you loved Nonna’s burritos. In fact, that’s all I remember you eating the whole time.

I guess it helps that Nonna’s mother was Mexican. You’re getting the real deal.

Her burritos even look Mexican. What’s funny is that when our family goes out to Mexican restaurants, you never order a burrito, so perhaps Nonna’s burritos are the most authentic burritos you’ve ever had.

You ate a lot this past weekend… thanks to Nonna’s burritos.

Love,

Daddy

This is 36: Taking Shifts with My Wife, As the Baby Sleeps in the Car

As you know, our family recently spent a week down in Destin, Florida for a family vacation over Memorial Day weekend. As you can imagine, with a 1 year-old little girl in tow, we largely had to base our schedule and activities around her sleep schedule.

For example, on the way down to Florida, we left our home in Tennessee immediately after an early dinner so that we could get to our condo in Destin by 1:30 AM. This created an environment for our daughter to be able to sleep through the entire drive. Granted, we only stopped once during the 7 hour trip for a bathroom break; to help ensure she didn’t wake up.

Since this formula proved effective, we did the same thing for the drive back home from Florida. That’s right- just 2 bathroom breaks during the 14 hour round trip.

Uh… impressed much?

We continued to cater to our daughter’s slumber throughout the course of our vacation.

One day we took a day trip over to Pensacola where one of my brothers-in law and his wife have recently moved. After we toured their new home which is currently under construction, everyone decided to walk through some of the model homes in the surrounding neighborhoods.

So my mother-in-law and her husband (who were also in town for the weekend), my brother-in-law, his wife, my wife, our son, our daughter, and I successfully toured two model homes.

But as we drove to the next neighborhood, our daughter had fallen asleep in just a matter of minutes. I volunteered to stay in the driver’s seat of the 2017 Toyota Prius Three as our daughter took her afternoon nap behind me in her car seat.

There in the driveway of that model home, I pulled out the classic 1984 Ride the Lightning album by Metallica to enjoy for myself. Fortunately, the symphonic distorted electric guitars helped keep my little girl asleep. She’s not too picky when it comes to music, yet.

Even after my wife and son returned from the tour of that model home, they returned to the car, only to inform me that there was yet one more model home to visit before we made our way back to Destin.

Honestly, I didn’t mind one bit. It was peaceful and relaxing for me. It gave me not only a chance to think, but a chance to help my wife out by giving her some time to see something new and exciting and to take a break from constantly caring for a baby.

Of course, it was no surprise that less than 24 hours, my wife would be taking the next shift of “chill out in the car while the baby sleeps.” Because for lunch the following day, as went out for Mexican food for lunch, our daughter had fallen asleep in the car.

So I took my wife’s order, then eventually brought her food to her roadside, while the rest of us ate inside the restaurant.

This is just how it has to be right now. We’re used to it.

This is 36.