Dear Holly: Nobody Said You Can’t Wear Your Helmet In Public and/or Indoors

2 years, 10 months.

Dear Holly,

A couple of weeks ago when we were out buying your brother some soccer cleats and shin guards at Play It Again Sports, Mommy and I decided it would also be a good idea to buy you and your brother helmets for when the two of you play on your bikes out in the court.

We lucked out and were able to buy basically brand-new helmets for less than $10 each.

You were so proud of yours, that you insisted on wearing it in the car.

And at the mall.

And once we got home and you played in the living room.

In your mind, a safety helmet is categorized the same as any other item of clothing. And since you love clothes possibly more than toys, it was common knowledge, that of course, you would be wearing your helmet accordingly.




Dear Jack: Playing Supermarket Sweep After Dinner

8 years, 4 months.

Dear Jack,

It has become an undeniable tradition that in our home, after dinner, you and your sister decide to play what I refer to as Supermarket Sweep.

This is when you grab your sister’s baby doll stroller, and she takes her toy shopping cart (filled with toy groceries), and the two of you compete in a series of races; back and forth literally from one side of the house to the other.

While it is a contest of speed for the two of you, I see it as a contest of who is having more fun- you and your sister.

So, it appears to have been a tie every single time!



Dear Jack: You Did an Amazing Job on Your 1st Speaking Part in a Play!

8 years, 3 months.

Dear Jack,

As if I weren’t already proud of you for applying my “life lessons” advice by being the one to volunteer for a speaking part in a play any chance you get, I am even prouder now that you perfectly executed your lines in your 2nd grade’s “Spring Into Music” performance.

I didn’t realize until the actual performance, that you were one of only a few other 2nd graders with a speaking part.

Mommy and I were both right in our reasoning for why we both had been separately encouraging you all year to volunteer to have a speaking part in a play:

My reasoning was that by default, boys typically don’t naturally want to volunteer for a speaking part. Therefore, those who volunteer, get chosen.

Mommy’s reasoning was that it would help you build confidence in yourself and cause you to gain new skills.

Our predictions came true.

I have a feeling you are going to be eager to volunteer to speak in a play the next chance you get!



Dear Holly: You Successfully Crashed Your Brother’s Classmate’s Birthday Party

2 years, 10 months.

Dear Holly,

Your brother was invited to one of his girl classmate’s birthday party at a fun gymnasium.

It happened to be the weekend where Nonna and Papa were in town to watch you and your brother.

I suggested that you just “crash” the birthday party.

Fortunately, that plan came together. Even though you were noticeably younger and smaller than all the other “party friends”, that didn’t stop you from trying everything you brother did.

Granted, there were times your brother had to help you.

But you loved it! Good thing you decided to be a party crasher!



Dear Holly: I’ve Never Once Seen You Act Shy

2 years, 10 months.

This week at work one of my coworkers was asking me what your personality is like, after she saw a picture of you being your happy self.

It got me thinking: I have never once seen you act shy.

You are such a happy, outgoing little girl. Wherever we go, you’re just glad to be there and you aren’t afraid to interact with friendly strangers who tell you how cute you are.

I’ve noticed you definitely aren’t camera shy, either.

Sometimes I casually ask you, “Holly, you want to be in a video with me?”

You instantly and enthusiastically agree every time.

You’re just not a shy kid.



Dear Jack: You Have Your 1st Speaking Part in a Play, Because You Volunteered for It

8 years, 3 months.

Dear Jack,

I’ve been telling you all week how proud I am of you for volunteering to have a speaking part in your upcoming play at school. Two students from every class in 2nd grade will have a speaking part in the play.

This is your line:

“Our first song is ‘Top of the Music to You’; in this song, we live about the orchestra, which consists of four instrument families: woodwinds, brass, strings, and percussion.”

As your parent, I never know how seriously you let my life advice soak in. But for the past couple of months now, I have been telling you what an advantage it is to be the boy in your class who jumps at the chance to participate in a play. It builds confidence and provides opportunities in life; so I have learned. (This is coming from a dad who has been on national TV, of course.)

I explained that typically in elementary school, boys are afraid to get up in front of people and have a speaking part.

But not you. You volunteered and you got the part!



Our 24 Hour Parent Staycation in Franklin, Tennessee at the Hilton Franklin Cool Springs Hotel

Two months ago for Christmas 2018, the only gift my wife and I gave one another was the promise of an upcoming 24 hour window of existence that we would share together, in which we would have zero parenting responsibilities; including uninterrupted meals out, a stay at a nice hotel, and the ability to be lazy.

We both work full-time jobs, plus I manage 5 SEO side hustles, and we have two adventurous kids. So for us, the thought of a break from reality is the greatest gift we can receive at this point in our 37 year-old lives.

Last May when I started my new full-time job as a recruiter at a Fortune 500 Company in Franklin, Tennessee, I couldn’t help but notice that an 8 story building was being built right next to my office.

A few months later, a giant Hilton sign went up on the side of the building facing the interstate (I-65). Once the hotel opened last fall, my co-workers and I started going there for lunch, and were very pleased.

So by the time my wife and I came up with the idea of the perfect mutual Christmas gift for each other, I suggested we make our stay at the Hilton Franklin Cool Springs hotel right next to where I work; which is the halfway point between where we live in Spring Hill and where my wife works in downtown Nashville.

Sometimes in your mind, you build up an idea to the point it becomes an unattainable fantasy. But no, that was not the case for our 24 Hour Parent Staycation. In fact, everything went perfectly according to plan:

My parents drove up 2 and a half hours from my hometown in Fort Payne, Alabama, to watch the kids while we were out. As my son’s Saturday morning karate lessons began, to be followed by one of his classmate’s birthday parties our daughter would end up successfully crashing, my wife and I made our way over to H&R Block to file our income taxes and were so relieved we didn’t owe any money; despite my 5 SEO side hustles unexpectedly doing much better than I planned for last year.

We officially started out our responsibility-free adventure with lunch at Sopapilla’s New Mexican (like the state) restaurant en route to the Hilton. This was a big deal to us for more than one reason.

Not only was it the first time in… (years?)… that we have been able to enjoy a delicious meal out with no children putting a damper on the conversation or the cuisine or our peace of mind, but it was our first official meal out as a now non-vegetarian, non-vegan couple.

I would go as far as to say I am now obsessed with eating at Sopapilla’s, but I don’t know the next time we’ll be able to make it back there without kids.

As for the Hilton, it was every bit as glorious as I knew it would be. My wife and I realized this is the newest hotel we have ever stayed in; throughout our decade of marriage.

And our wish came true- we got to be lazy for our entire day. In fact, we never left the hotel until the next day when we checked out. We got to watch a few movies on TV, in between heading downstairs for dinner in the hotel restaurant, The Harth Restaurant and Lounge.

Not to mention, we got to sleep in! We naturally woke up, on our own, at 8:00 AM. That is unthinkable back at our house, thanks to our children’s internal biological alarm clocks, which are annoyingly set an a default of 5:55 AM.

Life is good. I admit, I’m enjoying the view from where I’m sitting on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Pyramid. Our 24 Hour Parent Staycation taught me that the motivational carrot in my life at this point will be getting to experience our next 24 Hour Parent Staycation. That is the rarest commodity I know right now: a break.

And when that time comes, my wife and I plan to do everything exactly the same way again. It’s a formula that works for us.

This is 37.