Dear Jack: You Were Completely Fascinated by Visiting Santa

7 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack,

I must say that after celebrating 7 Christmases with you, this has so far been the most exciting for me to see you anticipate. Yes, that’s right… I get excited to so you so excited!

The best way I could word it, is that this year, you took your visit with Santa so seriously, that you nearly treated it as a business transaction.

You knew you must depend on him seeing your wish list and that your presentation may have an affect you actually getting what you asked for. On your list, you specifically wrote on your paper:


Halo sets


You were truly on your best behavior. I’d even go as far as to say you were the most polite, well-behaved child in that room.

And as your sister became frightened by Santa, as she doesn’t understand who he is, the way you do, you were there to help calm her down.

However, I’m sure Santa must have been a little confused as to how he’s supposed to bring you more Pokemon cards, when you already seem to have them all! Oh well, we will just have to let him sort that one out.

As we were leaving, I discreetly asked you, “Jack, was that the real Santa?”

You immediately replied, “Yes. You could tell because his beard was attached to his face and he had long hair.”

To you, there was no question about it. Not only was that the real Santa, but you definitely believe in him. Similarly, you still have just as much imagination and faith to hope that Pokemon characters are real, too.

So I know this is going to be one of your favorite Christmases. It’s so much fun when you have so much to believe in… and so many Pokemon cards to expect underneath the tree!




Dear Holly: You Were a Bit Skeptical about Visiting Santa

1 year, 7 months.

Dear Holly,

Last Saturday afternoon our family went to go visit Santa. You were so excited as we got ready to leave the house. You didn’t get understand what was happening, you just knew it was going to be exciting.

When we first arrived, you and your brother wrote down your wish list to give to Santa. Mommy helped you out, as she and both know you really love dolls, owls, and books.

When Santa showed up, I may have suggested it was Papa, so that you weren’t afraid of such a colorful and boisterous stranger walking through the door.

However, when it was time for you sit in Santa’s lap and talk about what was on your wish list, you become aware that this indeed was not Papa!

You tried to escape, but I had to snap a few pictures first, so we could always remember this visit. When you brother walked up, you calmed down, but only from terrified to highly skeptical.

I must say, this all went much better than I anticipated for you. I completely understand your reluctance to just suddenly be cool with some larger-than-life character who isn’t part of your immediate family.

In fact, it’s a good thing you were so skeptical.

As you get older, you’ll find Santa to be a more intriguing and magical kind of guy. I’m sure in just a few years, you will be very eager to visit Santa and tell him all about what’s on your list.

If nothing else, you were there alongside your brother as he truly was fascinated by Santa. It was almost more like our family participating in this event for him, and the rest of us were just along for the adventure.

One day though, I’m sure you’ll be as excited as he was about visiting Santa.



Stay-at-Home Dad 101: Time to Break Out the Black Chuck Taylors by Taking the Family to See Santa and Enjoy Dinner at Viking Pizza Co.

It’s crazy to think it’s been a whole year since I got my black Chuck Taylors for Christmas. Despite them only costing 40 bucks, I refrained from wearing them in 2017. I didn’t want to break them in and get them scuffed up, as if there were some epic event coming up in which I would need them in spotless condition; like my national TV debut or something…

Especially now that I’ve been at stay-at-home dad, for exactly 2 months as of today, it’s not like I really even get out of the house much anymore in situations where anyone would be need to be impressed by the sight of me.

But this past weekend, I decided to finally wear my unnecessarily sanctified Chuck Taylors that I got from my wife last year for Christmas.

It just so happens that Santa happened to be visiting this part of Tennessee, at a health store in Columbia, of all places. Sounds about right for a vegetarian/vegan family like mine to see Santa there, right?

Since the day was going so well and we were already having such great quality family time together, we decided to go out for dinner, at the same place we tried for the first time just the week before:

Viking Pizza Co. in Spring Hill, Tennessee.

We originally found the place when my son wanted to go on a “hike” on the giant hill next to the place. On our way back down the hill, he noticed a giant inflatable dragon through one of the windows. Being the biggest Pokemon fan I know, it’s the kind of thing that captured his attention.

When we got home, he immediately asked, “Mommy, can we go to the Viking pizza place with the big dragon?

That’s successful marketing right there: Place giant dragon on the restaurant floor. Have 7 year-old boy notice it. Have the boy’s whole family show up.

But once we arrived, my wife and I realized this was no gimmick. This was real pizza, cooked right there in the middle of the restaurant in a really expensive wood-fired oven.

And of course, because the folks at Viking Pizza Co. are paying attention to the fact that 6% of Americans are now vegan, I was easily able to order Daiya cheese on my veggie pizza. (They also have gluten-free crust, for those who prefer it.)

They were even courteous and proactive enough to bring over raw dough for my kids (and wife) to play with, which was a lifesaver, as it easily occupied my hungry son’s attention while our pizzas were carefully crafted; unlike a fast-food chain pizza joint.

The owners, Brandon and Kelly Jones, are so cool, down-to-earth, and proud that they have been able to bring a delicious, high quality, family friendly, restaurant experience in a town that is riddled with predictable and insulting-to-the-intelligence chain restaurants.

There’s a certain rewarding feeling you get when you take your family to a place like this. You know you are voting with your dollars what you want in your town. Just a few weeks ago, much of Spring Hill was emotionally affected by the iconic silo been torn down, so that a fried chicken chain-restaurant could go up.

So it’s yet another reason to want to support Viking Pizza Co. It’s like rebelling against the mainstream. There’s something quite viking about the concept…

Similarly, my wife and I are also huge fans of Legacy Coffee Company, which up until a few weeks ago, was a pick-up truck pulling a trailer. Now, they’ve set up shop inside of Viking Pizza Co.

We love supporting local! And it helps when local is awesome, like with Viking and Legacy.

So at last, I’ve broke in my black Chuck Taylors. I feel good about it. I just had to wait for the right deserving event.

Dear Jack: Always Tell Mommy and Me What You Tell Santa What You Want for Christmas… (Featuring Red 7 Pizza in Columbia, TN)

6 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack: Always Tell Mommy and Me What You Tell Santa What You Want for Christmas… (Featuring Red 7 Pizza in Columbia, TN)

Dear Jack,

On Saturday we drove to the neighboring town of Columbia so that you and your sister could get your picture taken with Santa. Despite having lived in our new house in Spring Hill for almost two years now, I had never driven past the Target and movie theater on the edge of town.

It was as if I had always subconsciously assumed that civilization just ended on the other side of the Spring Hill city limits sign. Turns out, on the other side is a slightly larger city with a charming culture of its own.

Before we had left the house, you had specifically asked Mommy and me, “Is this going to be the real Santa, or just one of his helpers?”

We replied that we wanted you to decide for yourself after you met him…

You then submitted the idea of pulling his beard to see if it was real. We didn’t advise against doing so- because, you know- we’re cool parents.

I really enjoyed our visit to Columbia. Our family arrived at the health food store in downtown: It was in the very back of the store where Santa was. I know that sounds random- and it was.

Dear Jack: Always Tell Mommy and Me What You Tell Santa What You Want for Christmas… (Featuring Red 7 Pizza in Columbia, TN)

For $7, Mommy and I got our very first picture of you and your sister with Santa. As we were paying for the photo, I noticed you remained on Santa’s lap… with a sort of sneaky look on your face as he was talking to you.

I interpreted it as you thinking, “This isn’t really Santa and I know it- but I’m just going to go along with it.” After all, he was a young-looking Santa.

The thought ran through my head: “I wonder if Jack is about to try to pull Santa’s beard…”

But I didn’t get a chance at that point to ask you what that conversation was about. Instead, I got distracted as we took a family walk: It was just 3 blocks to Red Seven Pizza Co. for dinner.

(Featuring Red 7 Pizza in Columbia, TN)

Mommy found out about the place while Googling “vegan restaurants in Columbia” before we left the house. She told me that even had vegan cheese available. I am so glad she found it! In fact, we were all so glad she found it!

(Featuring Red 7 Pizza in Columbia, TN)

We will definitely be going back- and in the near future. Each of us got to choose exactly what we wanted on our pizzas, out of dozens of ingredients… same thing with our salads. I took advantage of the fact they had pineapples and artichokes.

(Featuring Red 7 Pizza in Columbia, TN)

I was the only one in our family to be able to finish my pizza, but I was perfectly full by the time we left. You and Mommy got to enjoy your leftovers the next day for lunch.

A few hours later as I was putting you to bed, you suddenly revealed to me, “Daddy, I asked Santa for a Rudolph stuffed animal.”

I instantly reminded you that you already bought a reindeer stuffed animal last month during your $100 shopping spree at Opry Mills Mall.


But then you explained to me that was just a reindeer, but not Rudolph, like from the classic claymation Christmas movie…

That’s when I made sure to tell you it’s important to always also tell Mommy and me what you told Santa you want for Christmas.

Because, well- for some families, Santa’s gifts were taken care of back in September and Santa wasn’t expecting to rush to Target, Toys “R” Us, or Walmart just a few days before Christmas…

Something tells me though, Rudolph and his red nose will find his way underneath the Christmas tree.



Dear Jack: Always Tell Mommy and Me What You Tell Santa What You Want for Christmas… (Featuring Red 7 Pizza in Columbia, TN)

Dear Holly: A Weekend of Crawling, Pink Eye, and Getting Your Picture Taken with Santa

7 months.

Dear Holly: A Weekend of Crawling, Pink Eye, and Getting Your Picture Taken with Santa

Dear Holly,

Though we didn’t take you outside to see it yourself, it has now officially snowed for the first time since you’ve been born. However, I did take your brother out for a few frigid minutes so he could play.

Actually, he helped me out by carrying some of your dirty diapers to the garbage, on his Spiderman skateboard.

It obviously wasn’t a good idea to take you outside in the cold, as you were in the middle of your introduction to pink eye.

Dear Holly: A Weekend of Crawling, Pink Eye, and Getting Your Picture Taken with Santa

However, that didn’t stop you from taking advantage of every moment to practice you newly acquired skill of crawling on the floor; something you conveniently learned just in time to show Nonna and Papa for Christmas.

You also had a lot of fun getting all dressed up to go get your picture made with Santa. Even at your young age, it is apparent to me you are totally enjoying being introduced to Christmas traditions.

With your big brother right next to you on Santa’s lap, you weren’t afraid at all of Santa, his elves, and all the bright lights. While you didn’t have a clue what was actually going on, you had a good time anyway.

Dear Holly: A Weekend of Crawling, Pink Eye, and Getting Your Picture Taken with Santa

I even got to see you open your first Christmas gift this week; one of your aunts sent you and your brother Jack some gifts. I loved being able to see you begin to tear the princess-themed wrapping paper off; with a little help from your brother.

We are now just a few days away from Christmas. As an adult, I am at least just as excited as you and your brother about Christmas. I am so excited about seeing your reaction to you opening your gifts, and inevitably, playing in all the wrapper paper afterwards.



Dear Holly: A Weekend of Crawling, Pink Eye, and Getting Your Picture Taken with Santa