Dear Jack: We’ve Been Snowed in for a Week Now, Technically

7 years, 2 months.

Dear Jack,

It’s now been a week since you’ve been to school. This is like Christmas vacation again, but with snow… and without all the presents.

A week ago we were informed that your school was going to be closed due to the chance of a blizzard the next day on Friday. Knowing you were also going to be off from school the following Monday for Martin Luther King Day, I mentioned to Mommy at dinner:

“Let me throw a crazy idea at you…”

She stopped me, as she had instantly read my mind:

I took you and your sister to Alabama so we could stay at Nonna and Papa’s house for a 4 day weekend, while Mommy stayed back in Tennessee to get caught up on work.

You and your sister got plenty of quality time with your grandparents; meanwhile, I got a little bit more caught up on one of my most coveted commodities: Sleep!

It was so rewarding to just head upstairs and sleep for 2 or 3 hours, knowing you and your sister were being taken care of.

And it turns out, it didn’t actually snow while we were gone.

But sure enough, on Tuesday, when you were supposed to go back to school, that’s when the mini blizzard actually arrived.

Our family has been snowed since then.

Hopefully, the roads will be cleared up enough for you to return to school tomorrow, which is Friday. At that point, it will have been a solid week without you going to school. Even then, you will just be there for one day and then it’s the weekend again.

You and I did get a couple chances to enjoy the snow outside, while Mommy stayed inside with your sister. But even then, the temperature has remained around 9 degrees most of this week, so we couldn’t stay outside all that long.

What an interesting week.

Love,

Daddy

Advertisements

Stay-at-Home Dad 101: I Don’t Miss Feeling Pressured to Drive to Work in the Snow and Ice

The picture collage you see here is one that I felt compelled to make nearly three years ago. My family had already been snowed in two days, and it was soon to be the third.

Despite living just a mile from the main road, my actual home was located down a slope in the dead end of the neighborhood: the cul-de-sac.

It was obvious to me that if I simply backed out of my garage, my vehicle would get stuck in the snow and ice, as my vehicle was not a 4×4 and therefore couldn’t make it out.

Still, I went through the motions of proving how dedicated I was to coming to work:

I started up my car, backed out of the garage, tried to make it up the hill, slid down the hill backwards, then quickly got stuck trying to simply make it out of my own cul-de-sac. And now, my already old and worn-out vehicle would have to remain out in harsh weather, which only increased the chances of another vehicle accidentally sliding into it, or the battery dying from the freezing temperatures.

To further cover my bases, I took a photo of my stuck vehicle, as well as one of my shoe; as I was standing on my street, which had an inch-thick sheet of ice under the snow. I also did my best to show the angle of the slope on my street where my vehicle got stuck.

Minutes later, I had put together the photo collage and emailed it to all interested parties, to provide community-wide evidence that I was not simply unmotivated to leave my family and the snow.

I had already been working for the company for over 7 years at this point and I was a supervisor for most of that time; yet I felt that providing picture proof was a nearly necessary move. Otherwise, people who lived only a few miles from the office could try to say, “Well I made it into today… are you just afraid to drive in the snow and ice?”

The least of my worries was that I was having to accept the fact I was using vacation days to be stuck at stay home; even though I wanted to be at work. This was problematic in that every summer, our family always spends a week out in California to visit my wife’s side of the family: I was cutting in to my reserve of days for that trip.

I imagine that feeling pressured to drive to work under dangerous weather conditions is a normal part of American culture, especially in the South; where we are understandably not equipped with the snow plows our towns need when it snows sporadically during the winter.

But you know what? I am now a stay-at-home dad who works from home now. Not my problem anymore.

The only one pressuring me to leave the house is my 7 year-old son who is eager to play in the snow. I think I can handle that.

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

6 years, 1 month.

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

Dear Jack,

Our Weekend of Manliness! began Friday evening when I got home from work and there was enough snow for us to try out the old sled Nonna gave us when we were in Alabama for Christmas. Fortunately, we happen to live in a great neighborhood for sledding in the snow.

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

After all, we do live in Spring Hill, Tennessee. And our town lives up to the name. Not only are there plenty of hills all around, but apparently there are also plenty of springs as well- because it was no challenge finding new places to explore frozen puddles.

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

The next morning, on Saturday, I explained to you: “Jack, this is your day. We’ll be going to the monster truck show and the new Star Wars movie later, but what else do you want to do today?”

You instantly responded: “I want to go back in the snow!”

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

So we did. Even though I told you we’d only be out there no more than 30 minutes, we ended up staying out there an hour and 15 minutes. And it was awesome!

Fortunately, the sun start coming out to help our endurance.

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

In addition to getting to sled down every hill we found in our neighborhood, you also made it your personal mission to attempt to crack all the ice you could by jumping on it- and then eventually, by having me throw heavy stones on the ice.

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

Because it was so cold, and because I made sure all the frozen water we walked on was no deeper than 6 inches deep, the ice was extremely thick- and therefore, quite challenging to burst through.

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

Undeniably, our Weekend of Manliness! was off to a great start. Our snow and ice adventures couldn’t have been appreciated by the likes of Mommy, who isn’t used to the cold since she’s from California- or by your 8 month-old sister, who is constantly catching and fighting sicknesses as she is naturally building up her immune system.

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

No, this was clearly a job for the boys.

Had I realized a month ago what all would have occurred, I would have reached out to Toyota or Lexus and got us a vehicle to feature each part of Weekend of Manliness! But I didn’t know the awesome baby blizzard was coming, that we would see Rogue One, or that we’d be going to Monster Jam until it was too late to get us a manly and adventurous Toyota or Lexus to match the energy of the father and son duo.

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

So instead, we settled for my 2004 Honda Element, which I’ve officially owned 11 years as of this month; and have had paid off for 10 years.

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

Now it was time to make the 40 mile drive to downtown Nashville for Monster Jam…

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

Love,

Daddy

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

Weekend of Manliness! January 2017 Series:

1st Snow of 2017

Monster Jam 2017

Rogue One Star Wars

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.

Love,

Daddy

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

Uncle Nick’s Enchanted Forest 14 through 19: The Blizzard Webisodes

Uncle Nick’s Enchanted Forest 14 through 19: The Blizzard Webisodes

From January 22nd to the 24th, I filmed 6 webisodes of Uncle Nick’s Enchanted Forest. Similar to the way I filmed 4 webisodes after the Christmas 2015 flash flood, I took advantage of the weather condition, making it the plotline of these half a dozen webisodes.

And starting with Webisode 18, I introduce a fun new theme song as well as a new animal hat…

I’ve gotten to the point where I pretty much just keep my camera, tripod, and Uncle Nick costume in my car with me; in order that I can always be prepared to shoot an episode on the spot.

Good thing I was ready on Friday, January 22nd, when the blizzard kicked in. I have a coworker, Shane Moore, who is quick and faithful to help me out with some of the shoots.

So he served as my camera man and assistant director for the first 2 webisodes of the blizzard story arc.

Webisode 14 features Mama Bear and Baby Bear, who get separated during the beginning of the blizzard. It’s up to Uncle Nick to reunite them!

In Webisode 15, we are introduced to a poor little homeless Husky who is stranded out in the middle of the snow storm. Uncle Nick must find her a new home to get her warm.

The remaining 4 webisodes of the blizzard story arc were filmed Saturday and Sunday morning; just me and my tripod.

Webisode 16 finds Piper the Penguin frozen to the ice. Uncle Nick must find a place to keep her safe until the other penguins return.

In Webisode 17, Uncle Nick must resuscitate a lizard he finds who is literally freezing in the river.

Then in Webisode 18, Uncle Nick encounters a sleepwalking pig, who is headed towards a frozen lake.

And finally, in Webisode 19, Uncle Nick must discover, and uncover, a frozen frog on a log.

In the next story arc of episodes, the plot will definitely be thickening…

If you haven’t checked out my Uncle Nick series, I encourage you to, with a younger child next to you. I predict it will be an engaging experience.

Dear Jack: The January 2016 Blizzard in Spring Hill, TN (Pictures and Videos)

5 years, 2 months.

Dear Jack: The January 2016 Blizzard in Spring Hill, TN (Pictures and Videos)

Dear Jack,

Last Friday morning, Nashville began shutting down. Virtually everyone was sent home from school and work, as the blizzard was beginning.

I am so grateful that it happened exactly when it did: over the weekend.

Dear Jack: The January 2016 Blizzard in Spring Hill, TN (Pictures and Videos)

There was so pressure to try to have to get out in the snowy chaos on the roads for work the next couple of days afterwards, only to have to use my vacation days if I couldn’t make it out of the driveway.

Instead, you and I had the best time!

Dear Jack: The January 2016 Blizzard in Spring Hill, TN (Pictures and Videos)

Mommy preferred the snow better from inside the house. Though she did brag on herself at one point, “I got out on the snow when I checked the mail.”

Meanwhile, you and I made the most of it. Ultimately, nothing we did was what some may call… safe. It was all dangerous, which made it convenient that Mommy didn’t venture out into the snow with us.

I made this video of our adventures together:

Our tour of danger began with you sledding for the first time. While you went down the hill several times with your neighbor friend, Marissa, you weren’t afraid to go alone either.

Dear Jack: The January 2016 Blizzard in Spring Hill, TN (Pictures and Videos)

In fact, since you were the youngest and smallest there at the neighborhood sledding hill, you were the only one small enough to get lodged underneath the wooden fence when the sled didn’t stop in time.

An older boy, who is in the 4th grade commented about you: “Man, that little kid is tough!”

Dear Jack: The January 2016 Blizzard in Spring Hill, TN (Pictures and Videos)

Because with all the bumps and scratches, you never once showed an ounce of fear; you just laughed about it all.

Dear Jack: The January 2016 Blizzard in Spring Hill, TN (Pictures and Videos)

We also ventured over the “climbing wall,” which was the side of 15 foot tall hill, which was laced with a bunch of snow-covered rocks.

You were curious to walk on a frozen pond with me, so I took you to a large puddle that looked like a pond instead. (I knew the water there was barely a foot deep even at the deepest parts.)

Dear Jack: The January 2016 Blizzard in Spring Hill, TN (Pictures and Videos)

And then there was the part where you kept rolling down the tall hill near the creek.

Speaking of the creek, we followed it all the way into the next neighborhood, as you jumped across it along the way.

Dear Jack: The January 2016 Blizzard in Spring Hill, TN (Pictures and Videos)

We took advantage of the adventurous weather. You and I make a good danger team.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: The January 2016 Blizzard in Spring Hill, TN (Pictures and Videos)

Dear Jack: Your Homemade Cinnamon Milk/Pee-wee’s Big Adventure

4 years, 3 months.

Dear Jack: Your Homemade Cinnamon Milk/Pee-wee’s Big Adventure

Dear Jack,

Well, hopefully last week marked the last of the snow for winter…

Dear Jack: Your Homemade Cinnamon Milk/Pee-wee’s Big Adventure

It definitely marked the week in which we watched Pee-wee’s Big Adventure two times within 24 hours.

You confidently expressed to me you liked it better than Big Top Pee-wee, which we watched twice within 24 hours two weeks ago. Even though the scary clown scene technically was inappropriate for you to see in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, only Mommy covered her eyes.

Dear Jack: Your Homemade Cinnamon Milk/Pee-wee’s Big Adventure

I have to admit, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure is a solid movie. Here’s a little bit of trivia: I was 4 years old when it came out in 1985; the same age you are now.

We also took a quick family drive to Rooster Tails, a cool retro style furniture store we’ve bought from before. You helped us look for a coffee table for our living room and a bookcase for our office.

Cinnamon

One of the highlights from this past week was when you decided you wanted to “make milk” for our family to drink over the weekend.

Over the course of two days, you would sit up on the counter with a mixing bowl, bumming spare ingredients off of Mommy and me, so you could add them into your bowl of water.

It’s all a blur, but I remember there being cranberry juice, oregano, salt, pepper, cinnamon, and chia seeds in it; among other random items we had in our kitchen. Just a pinch of each led to a big bowl of chucky, brownish gray water that you were so proud to stir up.

For dinner Sunday night, you decided it was time for all us to try your new concoction.

Cinnamon

What you didn’t realize was that Mommy poured some of your chocolate almond milk into your cup instead of what you made, just sprinkling in some cinnamon.

As predicted, you were skeptical to take the first sip. So Mommy and I gladly did. You were curious by how authentically we seemed to be enjoying your “homemade” milk.

You took a baby sip… then a bigger one.

Mommy! Daddy! That tastes good! It tastes like cinnamon… and chocolate!” you proclaimed.

One day you’ll read this letter and realize why.

Love,

Daddy

Cinnamon