This is 36: Without Saying a Word, My 1 Year-Old Daughter Convinced Me to Buy Her a Stuffed Animal from Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2

Last Saturday as our family was out running errands, since our plans to visit the Nashville Zoo for my daughter’s 1st birthday were cancelled due to the rain, we ended up at the classiest Wal-Mart I’ve ever been to in my life: It’s just the one in our neighborhood; we can basically see it from our house.

My wife and I were counselling our son as he tried to pick out the best birthday present for one of his classmate’s birthday parties coming up at Chuck E. Cheese’s. I was holding my daughter in sort of a rickshaw position as we followed my wife and son down the toy aisles.

As we journeyed through the classiest WalMart this side of the Mississippi, my daughter was over all not impressed by the toy selection that she was being exposed to, as it all was for “older kids”. Like Shopkins and action figures kind of stuff.

But then, she saw it…

A fury face on the shelf. She was mesmerized.

It was a Hero Plushy of the mutant raccoon named Rocket, from the cast of the upcoming movie, Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 2.

But it wasn’t just a normal stuffed animal. It had a tiny body and a big head, like a caricature.

My daughter’s tiny hand was the perfect size for the undersized body of the toy.

She could easily hold it like an ice cream cone.

By this point, my wife had already picked up on what was going on, as she had turned around to see the two of us petting an arguably ridiculous stuffed animal.

It was pretty obvious at this point that not only would my 1 year-old daughter not have to even attempt to ask for the toy, but that I myself wouldn’t even have to have a conversation with my wife about the fact we were about to spend $10 on a Marvel character plush toy.

My wife’s only attempt to thwart the inevitable was to reach out a grab a pink girly-looking pony stuffed animal that cost $6.

But our little girl definitely didn’t have the same glimmer in her eye as she did for the Guardians of the Galaxy raccoon that she was already turning back to.

As if I needed to give a seemingly legitimate excuse as to why we were about to make this impulse purchase, I suggested to my wife:

“We can let this be my gift to her for her birthday.”

I have to give my little girl what she wants. Especially when it’s a cool mutant raccoon from a Marvel movie.

This is 36.

Dear Holly: Our Walk in the Park at Aspen Grove

10 months.

Dear Holly,

Last Saturday was such a beautiful day so we made good use of it. We met up with our friends Mohamad and Lena, and their daughter Hanna who is just a month older than you. We stopped for lunch at Noodles & Co., the same vegan-vegetarian-kosher friendly place that your brother Jack and I dined at after we saw Rogue One back in January at the Green Hills Mall in Nashville.

We all took a moment to appreciate Hanna’s awesome new shirt that her parents found for her in downtown Nashville. Jack said, “Daddy, I keep thinking that’s really her arms and legs. It looks like she’s really playing the guitar!”

After lunch, I suggested we drive right across the other side of I-65 and take a walk in Aspen Grove Park; which is right behind my office, where I take my mountain bike, skateboard, or just go running during my lunch breaks.

Fortunately, we took our double stroller to push you and Jack. However, he let you have it all to yourself since he wanted to check out the creek that followed the trail.

For me, there’s nothing like being able to take a leisurely stroll through the park on a nice day. There’s a reason the saying goes, “Well, it’s no walk in the park…” when referencing a tough situation.

That’s because a walk in the park is a standard measurement of happiness and inner peace. It’s a universally enjoyed occurrence.

And hey, if you can share that experience with people you care about… even better.

I watched the wind blow through your blonde hair, as you took the whole experience in. Ultimately, you were ready for a nap. But you just couldn’t bring yourself to the point of falling asleep.

You saved that for two minutes into the car ride home.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

6 years, 3 months.

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

Dear Jack,

Just a few weeks ago, you and I had our first official Weekend of Manliness when we ventured to Monster Jam, saw Rogue One, and went sledding in the snow. Fortunately, with your Grandma visiting from California to help watch your baby sister, you and I got to spend plenty of time together again; aside from spending last weekend together at the Children’s Hospital for your near-bout with surgery.

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

We started out our 2nd Weekend of Manliness on Saturday morning by putting on our special father and son socks by Pair of Thieves, which included a matching pair for both the kid and the dad. Mommy got them for us at Christmas, and I figured this event one be the best event to try them out.

You and I both agreed they are the most comfortable socks we have ever worn! In fact, this morning when I was getting you dressed for school, you insisted on wearing them for the 3rd day in a row. (Shhh… we won’t let Mommy know about that.)

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

Our journey began when we took off in own beast-on-wheels (my 2004 Honda Element, which I’ve now officially owned for 11 years!) to go see the Monster Trucks movie. You have been wanting to see it ever since last summer when we saw the first trailer for it while watching the newest Star Trek movie.

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

We enjoyed it so much we both agreed that we already want to see it again!

I left it up to you where we we’d go for lunch. I shouldn’t have been surprised- you decided on your favorite: Moe’s. You admitted to me that you chose it because you knew you’d get a juice box and a cookie with your meal. I’m always happy to go there because, as a manly vegan, I can get plenty of healthy veggies and protein when I order their “Earmuffs with tofu.”

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

Afterwards, we headed home for a Netflix movie of your choice: To my surprise, you choose an old American classic from 1975: Steven Spielberg’s Jaws. I feared it would be too slow of a pace for you, but you loved every minute of it; just like you loved Jurassic Park.

I was amazed when they caught the shark they thought was the culprit, and you immediately blurted out, “Hey Daddy, that’s a tiger shark! I can tell because of the stripes!”

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

Just moments later, Richard Dreyfuss’s character (Hooper) confirmed you were right; when he explained to the other characters in the movie that a tiger shark could not be responsible for the attacks because its bite radius wasn’t big enough.

Seriously, you are such a smart kid! I understand that perhaps Jaws wouldn’t be most 6 year-old kids’ first choice for a movie to watch with their dad on a lazy Saturday afternoon, but it’s clear that your fascination with science (and animals, in particular) led you to be glued to this movie. You loved watching the 3 main characters hunt for the killer shark.

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

On a related note, your glow-in-the-dark dinosaur fossil decals arrived: Your bedroom has a new, relevant look to match what you’re into these days.

It had been a few hours since our manly meal on Moe’s, soo I made an executive decision for us to swing by Jamba Juice, which was about half-way (and right off the Interstate) to downtown Nashville, where we would be experiencing ArenaCross for the first time.

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

When we arrived, I realized our seats were indeed right next to my co-worker Stephanie’s family; who won the giveaway tickets on my blog a couple of weeks ago. Even though her daughter is a 4th grader and you are a Kindergartner, the two of you quickly became buddies!

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

We watched the motorcycles fly high into the air as they raced around the track. I learned over and asked you, “Jack, do you ever want to ride one of those bikes?”

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

You shook your head “no” but I’m not convinced. I could tell you thought it was really cool.

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

Our 2nd Weekend of Manliness was a success, as we knew it would be. We shall be ever ready for our next special father and son weekend!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

Dear Jack: Your Parapharyngeal Abscess/Our Weekend in the Surgical Holding Room at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville

6 years, 3 months.

Dear Jack,

Dear Jack: Your Retropharyngeal Abscess/Our Weekend in the Surgical Holding Room at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville

Thank God.

It is because of God’s grace that this story has a happy ending.

You are okay now, but it was one intense weekend.

Saturday morning Mommy left your baby sister and me home while you two were planning on picking up the groceries (as our pantry and fridge were empty) and then to the doctor for a check-up regarding your Strep Throat (as you missed nearly every day of school last week because of it).

What was expected to be a forgettable doctor’s visit actually resulted in them sending you immediately to the Emergency Room in Nashville; which is about an hour’s drive from where we live in Spring Hill.

Dear Jack: Your Retropharyngeal Abscess/Our Weekend in the Surgical Holding Room at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville

As Mommy called to tell me this urgent news, she also informed me that her phone didn’t get charged the night before, so she only had 17% charge on her battery.

Six hours passed after that brief and urgent call, with me not knowing any news.

As the afternoon proceeded, the hunger started kicking in- not to mention, I realized that Grandma’s plane would be landing soon at the Nashville Airport; as she had coincidentally planned for visit for the next two weeks, all the way from Sacramento.

Dear Jack: Your Retropharyngeal Abscess/Our Weekend in the Surgical Holding Room at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville

It was about that time Mommy called me, having found access to a phone charger at the hospital, and informed me that you would have to stay overnight and possibly have surgery the next morning. Your Strep Throat had yielded a potentially fatal condition:

So I quickly packed an overnight bag for myself and a diaper bag for your sister, and miraculously made it to the airport in time to pick up Grandma, even with an unexpected trip to the gas station as I remembered I only had 1/8 a tank of gas in my car.

From there, I had to find my way to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. It may not seem like a big deal, but I had never driven there from the airport; only from our house, coming from the other direction on I-65.

Dear Jack: Your Retropharyngeal Abscess/Our Weekend in the Surgical Holding Room at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville

Mommy called me and reminded me to pick up some dinner, since none of us had eaten in nearly 12 hours. Fortunately, I was able to stop at a Qdoba and pick up some burritos for us while Grandma stayed in the car with your baby sister.

Once we finally arrived, I traded places with Mommy, so she could take Grandma and your sister all the way back to Spring Hill.

That surgical holding room became our living quarters for the next two days. And despite the circumstances, you and I made the most of it. I enjoyed the time we got to spend together, just hanging out- something I know we don’t get to do enough of.

You ended up not needing the surgery, as the antibiotics in your IV helped reduce your neck paralysis enough over the weekend.

Dear Jack: Your Retropharyngeal Abscess/Our Weekend in the Surgical Holding Room at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville

I love you so much.

Crazy enough, I never had time to be afraid. I only had enough time to take care of you. And pray.

Monday afternoon you were able to come home- and by Wednesday, you were able to go back to school and I could easily see you were proud to go back.

And even though you never said it out loud, you were so happy to see your sister again. Neither of us had seen her in over two days, actually.

Dear Holly: It’s So Rewarding to See You When I Come Home

“Can I hold Holly, Daddy?” is now like your new catch-phrase.

Thank God you are okay. I just keep saying that over and over.

Love,

Daddy

Your Retropharyngeal Abscess/Our Weekend in the Surgical Holding Room at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt in Nashville

We’re Going to Arenacross in Nashville: January 28-29, 2017

We’re Going to Arenacross in Nashville: January 28-29, 2017

While we are no strangers to monster truck shows, we have never attended Arenacross before. That’s right, we’ve never got to see a whole show of motorcycles flying through the air. But that will all change on the weekend of January 28th and 29th when Arenacross comes to the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

Congrats to Stefanie Lancaster, whose family of 4 will get to attend the Saturday night show for free; after being the 1st reader to comment on this post!

Top photo courtesy of ShiftOne Photography.

In the meantime, here is a preview of a couple of the drivers will be there…

 

Local Hero 

 

 lh_trevor_tate

Trevor Tate                         

Date of Birth: 8/21/96

Hometown: Greenbrier, TN

 

·         About Me

1.       What are some of your interests/hobbies/favorite pastimes?

§  Hanging out with my friends, anything motor related.

2.       Who are your role models?

§  My Dad, Kevin Windam.

3.       Do you have any pre-race rituals?

§  Not really. Tell the people next to me good luck.

4.       What is your favorite memory on or off the race track?

§  Hitting Laracco’s leap, holeshotting at Loretta Lynn’s.

5.       What is your favorite city to travel to and why?

§  Nashville, because it’s close and fits my style.

6.       Which Arenacross event would you consider your hometown race?

§  Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, TN

 

·         Motocross, More Intense

1.       Tell us about your first AMSOIL Arenacross experience?

§  This is my first race with AMSOIL Arenacross

2.       What first attracted you to the sport of motocross?

§  Watching my Dad, and seeing it on TV.

3.       What’s it like racing in front of thousands fans in an arena environment?

§  An adrenaline rush and just puts a smile on my face.

4.       For those outside the sport, how would you describe AMSOIL Arenacross?

§  Rough and tough.

5.       What is your favorite track?

§  Fast Farms MX

·         Building Tomorrow’s Champions

1.       How did you get started competing in motocross?

§  I was 8, and just started riding in my backyard.

2.       What advice would you give to kids who want to enter the sport?

§  Have an open mind and keep it fun.

3.       What is your favorite part about competing in motocross?

§  That all of it is on me.

4.       What drives you?

§  To better myself and keep having fun being competitive.

5.       What personal mantra guides you?

§  Be the best I can be.

6.       What type of training regimen do you follow?

§  Running, cycling, riding.

·         Inside the AX Fan Experience

1.       What can fans expect when they come to an AMSOIL Arenacross event?

§  Exciting, tight racing.

2.       Why do you think motocross is such an attractive event for the entire family?

§  Because they see how much effort goes into it.

3.       What is your favorite part of an AMSOIL Arenacross day?

§  Making the main events.

 

·         It all started on a mini…”

1.       How did you first learn to ride?

§  Dad tied a rope around me and if I went to fall he’d pull me off.

2.       What was your first motorcycle?

§  KTM Mini 50

 

Local Hero 

 

Hayden Davey         

Date of Birth: 11-8-08            

Hometown: Mount Juliet, Tennessee

lh_hayden_davey

 

 

·         About Me

7.       What are some of your interests/hobbies/favorite pastimes?

§  Riding dirtbikes, swimming, riding bicycles.

8.       Who are your role models?

§  Ronnie Mac , Ryan Dungy, Ricky Carmichael, Travis Pastrana.

9.       Do you have any pre-race rituals?

§  Bounce on my seat and smack my hands together.

10.   What is your favorite memory on or off the race track?

§  Riding in the KTM challenge, Monster Energy Supercross and meeting all the top riders there.

11.   What is your favorite city to travel to and why?

§  Loretta Lynn’s Hurricane Mills Tennessee, and watch the races.

12.   Which Arenacross event would you consider your hometown race?

§  Nashville

 

·         Motocross, More Intense

6.       Tell us about your first AMSOIL Arenacross experience?

§  Two years ago in Nashville was my first year racing. I had a blast!

7.       What first attracted you to the sport of motocross?

§  My Dad and watching it on TV.

8.       What’s it like racing in front of thousands fans in an arena environment?

§  Intense feeling, but it all goes away when I line up on the gate.

9.       For those outside the sport, how would you describe AMSOIL Arenacross?

§  Tight bar to bar, never give an inch racing.

10.   What is your favorite venue to compete in?

§  Loretta Lynn’s.

11.   What is your favorite track?

§  Fast Farms.

·         Building Tomorrow’s Champions

7.       How did you get started competing in motocross?

My Dad tricked me to go watch and brought my bike. He signed me up to ride instead of just watching!  I was 4 years old.

8.       What advice would you give to kids who want to enter the sport?

§  Step away from the video games and have some real fun.

9.       What is your favorite part about competing in motocross?

§  Jumps

10.   What is your greatest memory as an AMSOIL Arenacross rider?

§  The first time lining up and seeing the crowd.

11.   What drives you?

§  I want to be the best and win.

12.   What type of training regimen do you follow?

§  Practice, practice

·         Inside the AX Fan Experience

4.       What can fans expect when they come to an AMSOIL Arenacross event?

§  Close exciting racing.

5.       Why do you think motocross is such an attractive event for the entire family?

§  Takes the whole family to make it work, everybody has a job and is rewarded with good finishes [at the race].

6.       What is your favorite part of an AMSOIL Arenacross day?

§  Lining up at the gate.

 

·         It all started on a mini…”

1.       How did you first learn to ride?

§  I was 4 years old.

2.       What was your first motorcycle?

§  Yamaha pw50

Dear Jack: Rogue One Star Wars (Weekend of Manliness! in a 2004 Honda Element, Part 3/3) *No Spoilers*

6 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack: Rogue One Star Wars (Weekend of Manliness! in a 2004 Honda Element, Part 3/3) *No Spoilers*

Dear Jack,

Our Weekend of Manliness! concluded as we left Monster Jam and made our way towards The Mall at Green Hills; a place you had never been to before.

Dear Jack: 1st Snow of 2017 (Weekend of Manliness! in a 2004 Honda Element, Part 1/3)

On the way there though, we made a quick stop to Army & Navy War Surplus; as I am currently interested in replacing my current overnight backpack with a military version; since we travel to California at least once a year and I want something more durable as a carry-on.

Thanks to one of your aunts giving you Regal Cinemas gift cards for Christmas, everything was free!

Dear Jack: Rogue One Star Wars (Weekend of Manliness! in a 2004 Honda Element, Part 3/3) *No Spoilers*

The time had finally come… the time for us to see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. I had only heard great things about it. Nothing prepared me for how amazing of a movie it is!

Just about 20 minutes into it, I was already ready to see it a 2nd time!

It made me so proud to be able to take you to see it. The Star Wars franchise is such an undeniable part of American boyhood. I feel it’s a responsibility as your dad to introduce you to all thing Star Wars.

What a convenient decade for you to be a boy! At 6 years old, you are old enough to be able to appreciate these new Star Wars movies. Your 1st introduction was a year ago, when I took you to see The Force Awakens.

Dear Jack: Rogue One Star Wars (Weekend of Manliness! in a 2004 Honda Element, Part 3/3) *No Spoilers*

And as much as I loved that one, this new one is even better. Ah, what an amazing, must-see movie!

After the final credits rolled, I looked over to you and asked, “Well, how many of your Sour Punch Rainbow Straws did you eat?” I always assuming you took care of at least half the package.

You explained, “Just four; one of every flavor.” Apparently your agenda is to savor the rest over the next couple of weeks, as Mommy and I rarely let you eat candy. It’s such a commodity to you.

At that point though, it was time for us to find some dinner- as it was nearly 7 PM. Earlier in the week, I had proactively reached out to a really nice restaurant there at The Mall at Green Hills called Table 3. I offered to feature them on my blog in an exchange for a free meal for us.

I never heard back from them. I take that to mean they’re doing well without any additional positive publicity. Oh well, it was worth a shot. Never hurts to ask. The law of averages, you know…

Dear Jack: Rogue One Star Wars (Weekend of Manliness! in a 2004 Honda Element, Part 3/3) *No Spoilers*

So instead, we landed at Noodles & Company, and boy am I glad we did. We were so pleased with their selections!

They very easily catered to our manly dietary restrictions; with you being a vegetarian and me being a vegan. You got their kids’ meal: Mac and Cheese, Go Go Squeeze, and a fun Rice Krispie Treat. Granted, I made you eat some of my broccoli from my Thai Curry Bowl with tofu.

Dear Jack: Rogue One Star Wars (Weekend of Manliness! in a 2004 Honda Element, Part 3/3) *No Spoilers*

It was the perfect ending to our Weekend of Manliness! Unsurprisingly, after such a busy day, you quickly fell asleep in the back seat.

And, I’m already planning our next Weekend of Manliness! for just a few weeks from now…

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Rogue One Star Wars (Weekend of Manliness! in a 2004 Honda Element, Part 3/3) *No Spoilers*

Weekend of Manliness! January 2017 Series:

1st Snow of 2017

Monster Jam 2017

Rogue One Star Wars

Dear Jack: Monster Jam 2017 (Weekend of Manliness! in a 2004 Honda Element, Part 2/3)

6 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack: Monster Jam 2017 (Weekend of Manliness! in a 2004 Honda Element, Part 2/3)

Dear Jack,

The next stop of our Weekend of Manliness! was Monster Jam in downtown Nashville. We loaded up in my salty and dusty 2004 Honda Element (which doesn’t even have cruise control) and made our way through 40 miles of country roads and interstate to the Bridgestone Arena.

Dear Jack: 1st Snow of 2017 (Weekend of Manliness! in a 2004 Honda Element, Part 1/3)

We thoroughly enjoyed seeing Monster Jam this past summer at Nissan Stadium when Papa was in town. Fortunately, we got to see those monster trucks just 6 months later- this time along with their dune buggy and ATV counterparts!

I have to say; there is definitely something therapeutic about two guys- a father and son– sitting up in the nosebleeds watching beastly trucks fly into the air. It was like we were sitting on top of the world, watching the monster trucks race around the truck, secretly hoping to see them roll over- especially if it wasn’t one of our favorites, like Zombie or Gravedigger.

Dear Jack: Monster Jam 2017 (Weekend of Manliness! in a 2004 Honda Element, Part 2/3)

During the show, we didn’t have much to say to each other… we didn’t need to. For us, watching the monster trucks at Monster Jam, over these past 3 years I’ve been taking you to Monster Jam, has become like seeing art.

We soak it in. We appreciate it. We become one with the monster truck experience.

As I expected, the moment we got home that day, you immediately ran upstairs and got your toy monster trucks. All your indoor playtime then revolved around monster truck competitions: The twist was that your toy dinosaurs got involved and caused some additional chaos.

Dear Jack: Monster Jam 2017 (Weekend of Manliness! in a 2004 Honda Element, Part 2/3)

It’s a given: Boys like monster trucks.

Therefore, it was very important for us to attend Monster Jam as part of our Weekend of Manliness! I was so proud to share that experience with you.

Granted, that wasn’t our last stop on our Weekend of Manliness! tour. After Monster Jam, we made our way to the Green Hills Mall to see what we already knew would be an amazing movie: Rogue One!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Monster Jam 2017 (Weekend of Manliness! in a 2004 Honda Element, Part 2/3)

Weekend of Manliness! January 2017 Series:

1st Snow of 2017

Monster Jam 2017

Rogue One Star Wars