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

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They Finally Tore Down the Rock Silo Tower in Spring Hill, Tennessee on Highway 31 on December 4, 2017

Yesterday morning at 9:30 AM as I was driving my daughter to her 18 month-old check up, I happened to look over and see a bulldozer clearing the brush around the iconic rock silo tower on Columbia in Spring Hill, Tennessee.

Less than an hour later, as I drove back to my house which is just about a mile away from the silo, my speculations were accurate:

They had completely flattened it. Only rubble remained.

Later that afternoon, I kept getting notifications from the “i heart spring hill (TN, y’all)” Facebook group after a professional photographer named Rick Sweeney happened to also be driving by, and took pictures of the event.

It was somewhat of an emotional response that I was seeing in the comments of his photos. I feel like it was just an unspoken agreement for anyone who lives in Spring Hill, that we perceived that old rock silo tower as one of the town’s official landmarks; though we never really talked about it.

By the way, a very special thank you goes out to Rick Sweeney for allowing me to use his photos to illustrate this story. Here is a link to more of his work, beyond the silo:  Rick Sweeney Photography.

My family moved to Spring Hill three years ago. I always knew it was a matter of time before whoever has holding on to the property finally decided to sell their family’s land and instantly become millionaires.

So exactly three years ago I took my son out to the silo and took some pictures with him there. I wanted to provide a special way to remind him of that place years after it was torn down.

I also filmed an episode of one of my YouTube shows, Uncle Nick’s Enchanted Forest, on location at the silo.

After that, I made my peace with it; knowing it would probably be a few months later before the tower was destroyed.

Fortunately, I was wrong. It took a couple of years. Yesterday was the day: December 4th, 2017.

This event is the modern day Spring Hill version of, “They paved paradise and put a parking lot.”

We all knew this day would come.

I will miss you, old abandoned rock silo tower that no one really talked about until know.

We don’t know what we got ’til it’s gone.

High Brow Coffee + Tea: Spicy Mocha, Best Coffee in the World! (Based in Franklin, TN)

Back in October, my family stopped by High Brow Coffee + Tea on our way to Gentry’s Farm and Pumpkin Patch. It was there and then that I first experienced the best coffee in the world.

Their menu is simple. The Spicy Mocha stood out to me immediately. I ordered it with coconut milk, as I am a vegan.

The rest is history.

Since that day, I have been attempting to order this same drink “off menu” at other coffee shops. But no other place could even come close to getting it right.

Therefore, today I drove 40 minutes away from my home in Spring Hill, to Franklin. I brought my young daughter along for the ride too.

I had been romanticizing the idea of this cup of coffee for well over a month now. I must say, it was worth the journey. Really though, it was more of a pilgrimage.

What is so special about the Spicy Mocha at High Brow Coffee + Tea?

I feel that ultimately, it speaks to my identity as a man.

Consisting of a dark mix of mocha, cinnamon, and cayenne, there is certainly a challenging aspect of it. This is not a drink for the faint of heart.

No, this is coffee that speaks to my Mayan, Aztec, and Middle Eastern roots.

The Spicy Mocha makes me feel alive, in such a metaphoric way.

It contains the perfect amount of caffeine. The flavor of the coffee itself is perfectly balanced.

This coffee serves as a therapeutic vehicle for me. It takes me to another place, with Americana as the backdrop.

In fact, I love the visuals of High Brow Coffee + Tea so much, that I actually incorporated them into my blog. Notice the header. All these pictures were taken on location.

So what have you learned today? If you happen to be in Franklin, Tennessee, you basically now have an obligation to visit High Brow Coffee + Tea.

And if you feel daring and brave, ask for the Spicy Mocha and tell them some daddy blogger guy sent you.

Become part of the Spicy Mocha Movement with me.

If you feel you belong here, then you definitely do.

Our Morning of Americana at Gentry’s Farm and Pumpkin Patch (Featuring the 2017 Lexus IS 350)

This story takes place in Tennessee, but really, it could have happened nearly anywhere across America: Maybe the Midwest, or easily in northern California, where my wife is from.

I simply define this as a Morning of Americana; built of nostalgic ideals regarding what it means to be a proud American during the fall season.

All the elements are here: A hay ride pulled by a tractor, a corn maze, farm animals…

And of course, pumpkins!

I feel, to some degree, the fall itself is like a patriotic holiday season; as we celebrate and appreciate the splendor and even novelty of autumn. It’s a time when we are able to take moments to remind ourselves that we live in a great country, and that life itself is truly beautiful and mysterious thing.

(Can you tell that the fall is my favorite season? Sorry I had to get so poetic there more a minute.)

Our family was able to experience a good old fashioned pumpkin patch, in a much more elaborate version than the one that Charlie Brown visited.

My family of four, along with hundreds of other families last Saturday morning, as well as my sister and her family who were in town visiting from Alabama, visited Gentry’s Farm and Pumpkin Patch in Franklin, Tennessee.

So we parked the wondrous 2017 Lexus IS 350 in the dusty grass field which served as a parking lot, and made our way to the festivities.

It was especially rewarding for me as a parent, to see my 1 and a half year-old daughter react to the local, classic, Americana version of Disney World.

We started out by going on the hay ride, which took us through the pastures of the farm. My daughter was laughing with joy, which happens to be her middle name, as she pointed at all the animals in the not-so-far-away distance.

Unsurprisingly then, she was truly intrigued afterwards, when we got to see the farm animals up close. My daughter’s vocabulary is still pretty much limited to family members’ names, as well as her interpretation of what sounds animals make.

The goat must have seemed like a mythical creature to her, as she responded to him in her language: “A-bluh-ah, a-bluh-ah, a-bluh-ah!”

However, she was quite skeptical when it came time to visit the chickens; especially when one poked its head through the fence to look for food in the grass. My daughter had a “Hold me, Daddy!” moment.

As for my almost 7-year old son, he assumed the role of being a tour guide and assistant to his cousins, while wearing a suitably themed Superman t-shirt.

For our family, the fall season just isn’t complete until we have visited the pumpkin patch. Oh, that reminds me, now my son and I need to actually carve that big pumpkin he picked out, which is currently sitting on my front porach. Looks like we’ve got some work to do.

This, to me, is what it feels like to be American.

Our Morning of Americana at High Brow Brew (Featuring the 2017 Lexus IS 350)

Last Saturday before trekking 30 minutes to Gentry’s Farm & Pumpkin Patch in Franklin, Tennessee, my wife decided the perfect autumn morning just wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t start it out with a good cup of coffee en route to our destination.

So after choosing our favorite flannel shirts from our closets, we hopped in the Lexus IS 350 and made our way to glorious coffee.

Back in the summer of 2014, Lexus invited me to participate in their “True Grit, Pure Grace” Lexus NX Press Preview in Nashville. While participating in a scavenger hunt for that, part of our route was to get a coffee at a place in Franklin called High Brow Coffee + Tea.

Turns out, High Brow Brew is just across the street from the pumpkin patch. So now, three years later, in a different Lexus, I revisited that coffee shop that perhaps I would not have otherwise being aware of.

Stepping in to this place is like entering a museum of modern day Americana. Obviously, the coffee is every bit as good as you’d expect. To appease my ancient Central American and Spanish roots, I ordered none other than the Spicy Mocha, which consists of dark chocolate ganache and cinnamon cayenne peppers; mixed with an almond and coconut milk blend.

Though she’s used to it by now, my wife thinks it’s crazy that I would willingly drink hot peppers and spices in my coffee in the morning. But for me, nothing else makes sense.

In fact, perhaps I would perceive that drinking a pumpkin spice flavored latte is bit crazy. In any other time of the year, a pumpkin is just a strange looking gourd. But during the best and shortest season of the year, pumpkin spice becomes the official flavor of not just coffee, but pretty much anything these days!

Needless to say, my wife was very pleased to have her pumpkin spice latte; especially from such a quaint little coffee shop.

My son ordered the only artisan version of a Pop-Tart I’ve ever seen. I liked the visual of it so much, I currently use an image of it for my header banner on my Facebook page.

In addition to my family of four, my sister and her family were in town as well. Being from a small town in Alabama, High Brow Brew was something special and exotic. My sister compared us being there to feeling like we were actually in Portland.

(Wow. Even as I’m writing this, I’m somewhat tempted to drive back there and get another Spicy Mocha. I already miss that place.)

After all coffee and artisan Pop-Tarts were consumed, it was time to cross the street and enjoy the rest of our Morning of Americana at the pumpkin patch. But it wouldn’t have been the same if my wife hadn’t suggested we go out for coffee first.

She’s a smart woman.

Our Family’s 2017 “Pumpkin Spice” Lexus IS 350 for This Week

Autumn is here- and everyone knows it’s the best season of the year. The welcomed change in weather and accompanying outdoor activities are undoubtedly enhanced by making everything “pumpkin spice.” Because when anything is pumpkin spice, it is understood it is automatically better.

And if that’s the case, then our family’s mode of transportation this week has definitely been pumpkin spiced.  (Is that an official verb now? If not, I’m helping to legitimize it as one.)

Our family gets to drive a 2017 Lexus IS 350 this week; as we tackle some fun fall activities.

This weekend, my sister and her family will be driving up from Alabama to visit. We will all be heading to Gentry’s Farm & Pumpkin Patch, where there will be plenty of great activities for the total of 4 kids; including a hay ride and a corn maze.

Afterwards, we will be making our way to our son’s soccer game. This will make my sister’s family’s first time to be able to see him play.

The day I brought home the Lexus IS 350, the kids loved checking it out in the driveway. My wife exclaimed, “Whoa! This is a really sporty car!” My son declared, “I love it when your cars have windows in the ceiling!” As for our daughter, she was convinced she was actually driving; especially when she successfully turned on the hazard lights.

After the big reveal of the Lexus IS 350 to my family, it was time to take my son to soccer practice. While it almost felt wrong to take just a nice and shiny luxury car to a dusty soccer field, I reminded myself: Live this up- make the most of your pumpkin spice ride while you have it this week.

There is no doubt we will be making the most of my sister’s family’s visit to Spring Hill, Tennessee.

And during it all, my family of 4 will be able to travel in luxury, with our Lexus IS 350. I have noticed that with every vehicle we get to model here on my blog, my wife’s favorite feature is always the heated seats; and now just in time for the slight chill of autumn.

I suppose it goes without saying, I think there’s a pretty good chance that one of the upcoming activities in the Lexus IS 350 will be going out somewhere nice for coffee…

Pumpkin Spice, of course!

Dear Jack: Your 1st Soccer Game as a 1st Grader

6 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack,

Now that the summer has come to an end, so have violin lessons. And you decided you wanted to go straight into playing soccer now that the school year has begun.  It helps that you and your best friend Duncan, from your Kindergarten class last year, were able to get on the same soccer team.

So this past Saturday, our family drove out to the YMCA field in Spring Hill and watched you place your first game. It was amazing to see the difference, compared to when you played soccer 2 years ago in Pre-K.

You actually chase and kick the ball now! Wow!

And not just you, but all the other kids actually play the game too. Two years ago, it wasn’t this way at all. Back then, it was just a bunch of almost 5 year-olds standing on the field, looking at the feet in the grass.

But now, there’s actually something for your parents to watch you and your teammates do!

You actually gave Mommy and me a reason to keep yelling, “Go Jack! Kick it!” I felt like a legitimate soccer dad.

This was your sister Holly’s first time getting to see a soccer game. Since her skin is so fair, and since there was no shade, Mommy had me stand up and block the sun, casting a shadow on Holly as she watched the game from Mommy’s chair.

I definitely saw a little bit of irony in that; as if I were a big guy, which I am not. Oh well, the plan worked anyway. By the end of the game, your sister wasn’t quite as pink she would have been otherwise.

We enjoyed watching you play your first soccer game as a 1st grader.

Plus, I love the fact you’re getting to not only burn off all that energy you have on Saturday mornings, but also you’re getting to use your brain.

The game is pretty simple, though; for a bunch of 1st graders. Really, the main thing is just knowing which way to kick the ball. That’s all you really have to worry about right now.

Love,

Daddy