Dear Jack: You Made a Real Cobra Head Necklace and Wore It to School… So Yeah, That’s Pretty Awesome.

7 years, 4 months.

Dear Jack,

Unlike Indiana Jones, you are clearly not afraid of snakes.

Last week, you found an old key chain I brought back as a souvenir from Thailand, when I was in college. I had bought it from this man who professionally hunted and skinned snakes. He used the leftover heads for key chains.

Realizing you could disconnect the crystal arrowhead necklace that you got at Ruby Falls during Spring Break, you then replaced the arrowhead with the snake head.

In your own initiative, you had created a cobra head necklace and decided to wear it to school.

As you were leaving that morning for school, I assured you that you’d be the only boy in America to wear a real cobra head necklace to school.

No, this story doesn’t end with me saying that your teacher told you not to wear it to school anymore. You totally got away with wearing the head of a poisonous snake to school.

You came home and bragged to me, “Daddy, on two people thought my cobra snake wasn’t real!”

Coincidentally, just a few days later on Sunday, I had put your sister down for her afternoon nap and decided to take you to play in the creek at Brenthaven in Franklin.

As we were walking across the bridge over the creek, you and I both noticed something we assumed was a rope that had surfaced on a rock, in the middle of the stream.

But as we made our way closer, I announced to you with both caution and joy, “Jack, that’s a real snake!”

I tossed a few pieces of mulch at it- but it never budged. Then I tossed some rocks at it- it still never budged.

Finally, I found a stick long enough to pick it up with. It was obvious the snake was not only dead, but it had been dead there overnight.

You pointed out to me that its tail looked like it had been chewed up. My theory is that a neighborhood dog found the snake and broke its neck by slinging it like a whip, then the snake crawled onto the rock to die.

Turns out, it was either a venomous Cottonmouth or a harmless Brown Watersnake.

But since it was definitely dead, I let you throw rocks at it. I’m pretty sure you’ll remember that day as a highlight of your boyhood.

So yeah, you’re not afraid of snakes.

Love,

Daddy

Advertisements

Dear Holly: I Think You’re Going to Be My Little Wild Child

1 year, 11 months.

Dear Holly,

I am convincing myself that you will not go through The Terrible Two’s. Your brother didn’t. So I want to believe the same can be true for you.

With that being said, your personality is noticeably different than your brother’s was at this age.

For example, it nearly takes Mommy and me both to physically get you dressed in the mornings now, as you’ve made it abundantly clear you believe wearing clothes is a waste of time. You recently crafted a new trick where you ask to go potty, simply so you can get undressed and then run around the house:

“Potty? Potty? Potty?

And like I mentioned last week, during Spring Break at Nonna and Papa’s house, you found a way to climb out of the crib, twice; as a protest to taking your daily afternoon nap. And then when Nonna asked you how you got out of the crib by yourself, you just simply replied, “I climb.”

Your brother has never been shy, but you show a certain fearlessness at such a young age that he didn’t show. There was at least a reluctance he’s shown. As for you, not so much.

And I’m sure it has something to do with the fact that Mommy and I are raising you differently than your brother, by default; since we were first time parents with him.

Raising you, we as the parents are a bit more fearless, as we have an idea of how things generally work now in the world of parenting.

I suppose it doesn’t help that since becoming a stay-at-home dad 6 months ago, you’ve had extra exposure to my exclusive masculine parenting style; alongside having an older brother who I often have to remind to not play so rough with you.

So while I’m confident you’ll never be a tom girl, I am quickly getting the feeling you’re going to be a feisty little girl who knows what she wants; while still charming me with your adorable little smile.

But hey, I’m up for the challenge.

Love,

Daddy

My Mom Just Became the Youngest Looking 60 Year-Old Woman I Know

Today is my mother’s 60th birthday. That really sounds weird to say, because it’s so hard to believe when you see her.

I have an image in my head of what someone is supposed to look like when they are 60, and my mom does not match that image. More than once in my 30s, people have genuinely assumed she is my sister instead.

But in addition to definitely not looking anywhere close to 60 years old, something I really respect about my mom’s perspective on life is this:

She has never once been ashamed of, or afraid of, her age. Whether it was back when she turned 40, and then 50, and now 60, she is simply proud of that somewhat arbitrary number.

A couple of months ago, I actually interviewed my mom on the YouTube channel for Family Friendly Daddy Blog. Feel free to check out the video below, where you can hear her say it herself, that she fully embraces whatever age she is:

I feel that because of how my mom has always viewed her age at the time, I have modeled my own perspective of aging in the same way:

To be vocal about it in everyday conversations is to your remind yourself of how many years you’ve been blessed with life on this planet with the people you love.

It’s very obvious, especially after you watch that video, that it’s against my mom’s identity to focus on the negative aspects of getting older.

Or to use that cliche about it being her 29th birthday instead of her real age.

No, not my mom. She is proud to be 60 years old.

She’s proof that it’s a choice.

You can choose to celebrate each new year of your own life.

Granted, I can’t deny it’s easy for a 60 year-old woman to be proud of her age when she looks so amazing for her age… but still, I know my mom would still feel the same way:

Don’t be ashamed of your age. Be grateful for all the years you’ve lived so far.

Dear Jack: You Were Proudly in Disguise During the Easter Egg Hunt

7 years, 4 months.

Dear Jack,

Fortunately, you didn’t receive too much candy during the Easter egg hunt this past weekend. (I’m pretty sure we’ve still got leftover Halloween candy up in our pantry, actually.) The surprises inside the eggs this year at the egg hunt included a lot of Cracker Jack types of toys.

Honestly, I really don’t know what else you got at the egg hunt, other than a classic disguise kit:

Round glasses attached to thick eyebrows and a big nose.

You ended up wearing the disguise for the rest of the time after the actual egg hunt was over. You even wore it in the picture of you with Nonna and Papa and your cousins.

I guess I could have stopped you. But I didn’t.

You were having fun, so I let you.

One of my favorite parts about you wearing the disguise is that you didn’t acknowledge you were wearing it. You just acted like your normal self during the festivities, almost as if to test the theory:

Will anyone notice I’m wearing this disguise if I don’t talk about it?

It was like you were secretly playing a prank on our family; if not, everyone at the egg hunt.

I think the ironic twist in your social experiment was that no one really said anything because they just assumed, “Oh, that’s just Jack being Jack.”

Or even, “Oh, that’s Nick’s son. That makes sense.”

As for hunting eggs, sure; you still gave it your all. But as you’re now 7 years old, and as you’re finishing up 1st grade, I can see that you’re finding new ways to have fun; beyond just the obvious event.

And this totally reminds me of how I was as as boy, and really, how I still am.

So really, I guess it truly could be summed up as I said before:

“Oh, that’s Nick’s son. That makes sense.”

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Your 2nd Easter Egg Hunt, But Your 1st One Where You Could Actually Hunt for Eggs

1 years, 11 months.

Dear Holly,

A year ago at the Easter egg hunt, you weren’t able to run around or really understand the concept of looking for eggs hidden in the lawn.

But this year was much different!

Not only did you understand it, but you were great at it. I was amazed how full your basket became- and so quickly.

I must say, you looked extra cute, as Mommy found some pink floppy bunny ears for you to wear. To our amazement, you never tried to take them off the entire time.

You’re at a stage now where you simply love any excuse to run around for the sake of running around. At the home where the annual Easter egg hunt takes place, they have one of the largest front lawns I have ever seen.

So it was the perfect place, after all the eggs were found, for you to run as far as you could. You never got tired the whole time.

By looking back at the pictures of you from last year at this same event, it’s obvious to me how much you have transformed from a little baby into a little girl.

We’re now in the month of April, which is your birthday month! (And mine, too.)

So in just a couple more weeks, you’ll be turning 2 years old.

Here recently, I have been feeling like I already have a 2 year-old daughter. With the way you love moving around, and trying out new words, and attempting to sing songs, and refusing to let me get you dressed in the morning… yeah, you’re really forming your little girl personality.

Oh! And you climbed out of the crib while we were staying at Nonna and Papa’s for Easter! When Nonna asked you how you got out of the crib, you instantly admitted to her:

“I climb.”

Yeah, you’re forming a little girl personality, aren’t you?

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: You Now Love Mac and Cheese!

1 year, 11 months.

Dear Holly,

It was just a few weeks ago when Nonna came up for a week to take care of you while I was on my Toyota trip in Atlanta, that you began eating Ramen noodles.

Well, it’s no surprise to me that you now eat mac and cheese too.

Last week you overheard your brother tell Mommy that’s what he wanted for dinner.

You repeated, “Chee?”

(Each week, we’ve kept a little snack-size block of cheese for you in the fridge; as you occasionally ask for it. You’ve treated it more like a teething toy more than food, though.)

I then asked you, “Holly, cheese noodles?”

“Yeah, chee!”

So Mommy brought you your own dish of mac and cheese, along with your brother’s. You went to work right away.

Though you had never eaten it before, you instantly loved it.

My favorite part about this story is that you took it upon yourself to request mac and cheese and try it for the first time.

As you are now less than a month away from your 2nd birthday, I am starting to see you naturally transition into your upcoming age.

You’ve mainly been eating snack-type foods until recently. Now that you’re actually asking for and eating pasta, it shows me that you are growing up.

And while I am very particular about letting my kids have “screen time” before their 2nd birthday, I have been letting you watch Elmo a little bit most days.

So yes, you love mac and cheese. You ask for it. Granted, they are currently being referred to as “cheese noodles” for now, but that’s okay.

I just love being able to see you eating something besides fruit-&-veggie pouches and Cheerios.

My little girl is starting to eat real food now!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Nonna’s Visit While I Was Away in Florida

1 year, 10 months.

Dear Holly,

Last week while I was driving across the state of Florida for the Toyota Grand Slam event, Papa brought Nonna here to take care of you during the day while Mommy was at work.

Now that I work from home on my own schedule as a freelance social media specialist, it’s much easier for me to be able to travel on press events; as long as Nonna can take my place during the day.

So while I was out promoting Toyota, you got to have a lot of fun with Nonna. She sent me plenty of pictures throughout the week so I could catch up on what you were into.

Perhaps the biggest accomplishment last week while Nonna was in town was that, for the first time, you ate noodles! You saw Nonna go to the pantry to get some Ramen noodles for lunch.

That’s when you explained to her, “Daddy eat.”

Nonna made you some for lunch, and as these pictures illustrate, you enjoyed your noodles. Good to know!

I appreciate how Nonna had you pose for some pictures for me while I was away. My favorite shot is when you were standing by the stairs. You held on to the sides of your clothes and leaned backwards, with the cutest look on your face.

This picture meant so much to me that I made it my wallpaper on my phone. It really shows your personality, as that was your response to choosing a pose for a picture that you knew I would like.

You read my mind!

While I definitely enjoyed my trip to Florida, I obviously was very happy to come home and see you again. You enjoyed helping me unpack on the Toyota souvenirs I brought back.

You especially liked the cup with the carabiner lid. These days you’re definitely at that developmental stage where you can easily spend 30 minutes in a loop, as you get lost in figuring out how a basic object can be manipulated.

So I truly believe had I actually spent money on real souvenirs, it wouldn’t have been quite as cool as the swag I brought home.

You were well taken care of while I was gone.

Love,

Daddy