Dear Jack: Easter 2016 at The Shell House

5 years, 4 months.

Dear Jack: Easter 2016 at The Shell House

Dear Jack,

This makes our first Easter as a family where we didn’t travel to Nonna and Papa’s house in Alabama to celebrate. With Mommy being 8 months pregnant, she isn’t currently able to be in the car for that long of a trip.

Dear Jack: Easter 2016 at The Shell House

I never thought of it until this weekend, but this also made the first Easter for our family where I was responsible for hiding the eggs. So I obviously had fun hiding them in our backyard.

When you discovered your Easter basket, you immediately thanked and hugged Mommy and me.

I responded, “But what about the Easter Bunny?”

You instantly replied, “No, it was you and Mommy.”

I didn’t argue with you. Smart kid you are.

Mommy is such a good gift-giver. She found a very appropriate book for you: I’m a Big Brother.

Plus she got you another owl to match the one you got for Christmas. And she found some dinosaur eggs that dissolve in water and leave behind a dinosaur toy.

I know it sounds random, but she even got you a “bath bomb” for bath time. You love that kind of stuff these days!

Not to mention, there were one dollar bills in some of the eggs, plus a five dollar bill in the golden egg. So thanks to Grandma’s $2 bill she sent in the mail, you are now $14 richer.

As far as candy, we did get you some of the traditional stuff, but you were just as excited about the Annie’s Homegrown snacks in your basket too.

Another first for this Easter, this made the first time, as a kid, you’ve ever gone to the main church service with us; at The Church at Station Hill. You love your Pre-K class that takes place while Mommy and I are in the main auditorium, but today, all the kids remained with their parents.

I’m pretty sure you thought it was neat. The story was fresh on your mind as I read the Easter story to you from your children’s Bible yesterday before your nap.

If nothing else, you got to work on an activity sheet where you had to help Mary through a maze to find the empty tomb of Jesus.

What a great Easter day for our family. And imagine, by next Easter, you’ll have a nearly one year-old baby sister!



Dear Jack: Easter 2016 at The Shell House

Dear Holly: You’re Going to Be a Small Baby; in the 23rd Percentile

36 weeks.

Dear Holly: You’re Going to Be a Small Baby; in the 23rd Percentile

Dear Holly,

This week Mommy and I went to Vanderbilt for another sonogram appointment. We just wanted the assurance of knowing you’re still doing okay in the there. I’ll cut to the chase:

You are. Thank God.

We were informed that everything is great; your heartbeat, your fluids, and your movement. There is no reason for concern. You are simply going to be a small baby.

You currently weigh 5 pounds, 9 ounces; with just about 4 weeks left before you’re born. They told us that if you were in the 10th percentile or lower, then it might be an issue; but instead, you’re in the 23rd.

Knowing that you “have been measuring a couple of weeks behind” for a while now had caused us to worry that something was wrong. It’s good to have some relief on that.

This is the opposite of what we experienced with your brother Jack. It seemed he was always in the 90th percentile. He was a big baby with a big head, which made his birth very difficult for Mommy. Granted, that doesn’t mean he’s a big boy now; he’s average.

They told us this week that in addition to being a small baby, you “don’t have a big head.” I’m happy because that hopefully means an easier labor for Mommy when you are being born.

If I haven’t said it already, Mommy is ready for you to come out. And I’m ready too.

This is the “misery” part of the pregnancy where Mommy just can’t get comfortable to stay asleep or even just sit comfortably. I think it’s funny that her favorite t-shirt to wear at night is the Wonder Woman nighty I got her for Christmas.

Plus, it will be nice having you outside of the womb so we can see for ourselves that you really are doing just fine in there, just like the doctors say.

We’re now less than a month away from your due date. I keep reminding myself that when you’re finally born… we’ll actually have a little baby girl!

I know that part seems kind of obvious, but it’s how my mind works right now.



Dear Holly: You’ll Be Born in about One Month, Maybe on Earth Day!

35 weeks.

Dear Holly: You’ll Be Born in about One Month, Maybe on Earth Day!

Dear Holly,

Today is St. Patrick’s Day, when people celebrate a strange tradition in which Americans pretend to be more Irish than they actually are; in a loose effort to honor a Christian bishop and missionary in Ireland, who was actually born in England and who was actually of Italian descent… not Irish.

With Mommy and me both being ¼ Italian, that makes you and your brother ¼ Italian as well. But because people celebrate where St. Patrick lived as a missionary, instead of celebrating his actually ethnic descent, we celebrate Irish stereotypes today instead of Italian ones.

That explains why your brother and I are showing off our green attire in this picture.

With today being March 17th, and your due date being April 21st, we’re only about a month away from your arrival!

(You are now the size of a honeydew melon and that fact is becoming very obvious; as I look at Mommy’s tummy.)

Obviously, my 35th birthday is on April 20th; which is when I want you to be born. I want to share my birthday with you.

However, the full moon in April in 2 days later on the 22nd, which also happens to be Earth Day. There’s a theory that more babies are born near the date of the full moon because of the stronger gravitational pull; like the way the moon affects the ocean tides every night.

So in my mind, there’s a decent chance you’ll be born on April 22nd. I suppose that would be a pretty cool birthday to have, if you can’t share mine on April 20th.

Mommy predicts you’ll be born on April 24th, because of her work schedule.

As far as Mommy’s pregnancy, she’s getting to the point where it seems there’s no comfortable way for her to sleep. I’m sure that only gives her that much more motivation to look forward to you getting out of there.

A month is not a very long time. It’s just a matter of weeks before we see you.




Dear Holly: The Concept of Getting Sleep While We Still Can

34 weeks.

Dear Holly: The Concept of Getting Sleep While We Still Can

Dear Holly,

While I know good and well there is no such thing as proactively making up for all the sleep I’m going to lose when you are born, by sleeping more now, I still attempted it anyway.

Last week when Grandma was in town from California, Mommy and I were able to get to bed by 9:00 each night, since Grandma sped up our nightly routine. With her doing dishes and cleaning up afterwards, it added an extra free hour to our night; which we as the parents used for sleep.

However, this process simply reinforced to me how I am physically wired: I get more exhausted when I get 8 hours or more of sleep every night.

So for a week, I slept much more than I’m used to: I usually sleep about 6 and a half hours each night.

That extra 90 minutes per night was not a good thing for me.

This week I switched back to about 6 hours of sleep per night, and now I feel great!

I feel so well-rested, energized, and aware of life. I am in a great mood. Whereas last week with all the sleep, I was so groggy.

So while I obviously recognize that my sleep schedule will be greatly reduced when you are born next month, and it will remain that way for months to follow, I’m actually basically ready for that chaos.

As for Mommy, her sleeping needs are different than mine. She can’t function like I can if she goes to bed at midnight; she’s often falling asleep by 9:00 at night anyway.

In the end, there’s no true way to prepare for the sleep we will lose when you are born, but it’s no big deal.

I’m not worried about it. I’m just glad you are healthy and going to be here shortly.



P.S. You are 34 weeks old in the womb this week… while I’m 34 years-old outside of the womb.

Dear Holly: Your Newest Sonogram Pictures

33 weeks.

Dear Holly: Your Newest Sonogram Pictures

Dear Holly,

This week our family went to Mommy’s newest check-up at Vanderbilt; even Grandma got to go with us because she is in town right now from California.

To our surprise, one of the newest sonogram pictures was 3-D. Your brother Jack immediately responded as we all saw the picture for the first time, up on the giant TV monitor:

“That picture is creepy. It’s an old rock man.”

While it’s always great to see new pictures of you, the most important thing is that the technician confirmed you are looking real good. In other words, you are a healthy baby.

We have prayed every night as a family for your health. So we didn’t take it for granted to hear that you are doing well.

On a lighter note, the technician explained to us that your butt is up high at the “top” of Mommy’s baby bump; which explains why Mommy keeps getting poked in her right side, that’s your elbows and hands.

Plus, she confirmed you are (still) a girl. I admit that Mommy and I had doubts in the backs of our minds that we might be that family who learned they were actually having the other gender baby.

But no, we won’t have to be repainting the room or changing out your wardrobe. We specifically asked the technician, and she officially confirmed, “Yep, it’s still a girl inside there.”

Dear Holly: Your Newest Sonogram Pictures

Speaking of your bedroom, with Grandma in town, your room is a little fuller.

There is now a really cool lamp that perfectly matches the hair ribbon holder, which also matches the bird decals on the walls.

And I obviously am proud of the outfit Mommy picked out for you this week: Daddy’s Sweetheart.

We now officially can say you will be born next month. April 21st is just 7 weeks away.



Dear Holly: Your Newest Sonogram Pictures

Dear Jack: The Baby Doll Saga Continues

5 years, 3 months.

Dear Jack: The Baby Doll Saga Continues

Dear Jack,

Last week I wrote to Holly about how you are taking care of one of Holly’s baby dolls until she gets here next month around April 21st.

Well, since then, you have only further perpetuated the idea that you are, in some ways, “practicing for your sister” with the doll.

Last Saturday night at 11:30 as I was heading to bed, I walked into your room to check on you, as is the tradition every night.

I immediately realized I needed to go get my phone and take a picture. You had fallen asleep while tightly holding on to “Dollee”.

Now, in the event anyone might think for a moment that you are “playing with dolls” like a girl would, you easily disprove that theory.

The next morning, you took a Lego chain and fastened it around Dollee’s neck. You followed Mommy and me around all morning, as we prepared for Grandma’s arrival for California.

As you did, you announced at one point: “She has the chain so she can fly… and so she can’t run away.”

Dear Jack: The Baby Doll Saga Continues

There’s nearly something poetic in there about the concept of freedom; how it can actually imprison as if we abuse our freedom or simply make poor decisions along the way that entrap us.

But as a 5 year-old boy, I’m pretty sure that’s not what you were implying.

If I were to translate, I would say you that recognize, as a big brother A) the importance of entertaining and playing with the baby [hence, the “flying”] and B) the fact that the baby must be under constant supervision to keep them from wandering into a dangerous situation [hence, the “chain”].

By the time Holly finally gets here, we may have to clean Dollee up for her. Good thing Holly already has a few other brand new dolls waiting for her in the crib.



Dear Holly: Your Brother is Practicing for You with a Baby Doll

32 weeks.

Dear Holly: Your Brother is Practicing for You with a Baby Doll

Dear Holly,

As we were spending the night at Nonna and Papa’s house last weekend, your brother Jack and I were looking through your Aunt Dana’s old dolls as Mommy was waking up.

I grabbed a naked Cabbage Patch doll and a blanket. Then, I covered up Mommy’s waist with the blanket and placed the doll underneath, then announced, “Oh, Jack… Mommy’s having the baby now!”

Jack’s eyes got big and he stood still anxiously beside the bed, as he watched me pull out the doll, feet first, from underneath the blanket.

It wasn’t until he saw the Cabbage Patch’s head that he realized it was a joke.

We all immediately began laughing, but I noticed how enthralled Jack was at what he thought was your birth.

When we got back to Tennessee, our family went to Target: Mommy was checking in on her registry; meanwhile, I hung out with Jack in the toy section.

I was not surprised to hear your brother’s first request: “Daddy, let’s see if they have any Cabbage Patch babies.”

The idea was now in his mind to practice taking care of a baby, in relation to your arrival.

(He’s been practicing drawing “babies in their diapers” at school this week.)

However, they only had “kid” Cabbage Patch dolls, no babies.

But then, once we arrived back at our house, we learned that, coincidently, your Grandma (Mommy’s Mommy) in California mailed you a baby doll this week. Quite immediately, your brother Jack took it upon himself to take care of it until you can.

Within minutes, he was rocking the doll in the swing. He also named it “Dollee,” which is not to be confused with “Dolly”: He was very specific about that.

Granted, your brother has a stuffed animal collection which is likely larger than that of the average 5 year-old boy. However, that’s not the same as playing with dolls.

He’s never expressed interest in pretending like a human baby doll was real; only animals.

Until now. “Dollee” is clearly the personification of Jack imagining and preparing what it will be like when you arrive.

Instead of Holly, it’s Dollee… for now.

Of course, he plays with Dollee like a boy would. Tonight, Dollee derailed a train.

Jack insisted that Dollee sleep in his bed with him. It’s very clear to me he is expressing his excitement about you getting here in about 8 weeks.