Today is Our 10th Wedding Anniversary!

As of today, my wife and I have been married 10 years. Admittedly, that is a fact I am very proud of, as it is an honor to be married to this woman.

I am even more in love with her now than I was on July 5, 2008.

That’s something I can honestly say. Because over the course of the past decade, we have both evolved as individuals, while at the same time we have chosen to grow together in the same direction.

Therefore, I can now appreciate who she is as a person more than I could 10 years ago. We have made “happily ever after” our daily choice.

It helps that my wife is full of grace. I think that was an underlying trait of hers that I always knew that attracted me to her.

Now at age 37, with the life experience of 10 years of marriage, and 7 and a half as a parent, I have undeniably evolved.

I can’t see how a man could go from bachelor to married man and then father, over the course of a decade, without being forced to change for the better; as he is stripped away of his sense of selfishness, and trades it in for selflessness.

Back in 2008, at age 27, I knew so little about adulthood and how the world actually worked.

As I recently mentioned, the search for wisdom, truth, and meaning ends with life’s responsibilities; including marriage, children, and a mortgage.

I am not the same person I was a decade ago; neither is my wife.

With each passing decade ahead, I know we will continue to evolve as individuals, as well as together.

We knew each other for 4 months before we started dating, then dated for for a 11 months before we became engaged (nearly half of that time she was overseas in Australia serving as a nanny), then were engaged for 5 months before we got married.

And now 10 years have passed.

That is our story so far. We’ve got the rest of our lives to figure out what comes next.

MyHeritage DNA Test: Photos of My Great-Grandparents’ Jewish-Middle Eastern Wedding from 1919- Giuseppe Metallo and Maria “Mary” Vite

Last week at work, my wife was explaining to a coworker how our family is vegetarian and that it all started a few months after we were married in 2008, when I went kosher; meaning I stopped eating pork and shellfish.

The natural follow-up question from her coworker was logical: “Is your husband Jewish or something?”

My wife replied, “Actually, he is. He just took a DNA test and found that out!”

(This is funny because my going kosher had nothing to do with my ethnic background; I simply had to in order to cure my eczema dyshidrosis, severe sinus infections, and allergies. In the end, it worked, by the time I eventually became a vegan in 2013.)

Despite my mom thinking her whole life that she was half Mexican and half Italian, her own DNA test through MyHeritage told a much different story:

True, her mother truly was Mexican; but on her father’s side, her Italian grandfather was mostly Middle Eastern and her Italian grandmother was Sephardic Jewish.

My mom’s mother’s side:

32.9% Central American (Mayan/Aztec)

22% Iberian (Spanish/Portuguese)

My mom’s father’s side:

15.2% Sephardic Jewish

14% Middle East/West Asia (Yemen, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Palestine and Georgia)

7.8% Greek

4.5% Italian

2.6% Baltic (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia)

2.0% West African (Benin, Burkina Faso, the island nation of Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, the island of Saint Helena, Senegal, Sierra Leone, São Tomé and Príncipe and Togo)

These wedding photos are from my mom’s paternal grandparents’ wedding in 1919. This is Giuseppe Metallo (age 28 and a half) with his bride Maria “Mary” Vite (age 19). I speculate this was an arranged marriage, but I have no proof; only speculation, based on their age difference and the fact they were recent immigrants to America from Italy.

They both moved here from Italy, spoke only Italian, and had Italian names… yet ethnically, they were barely Italian at all. My theory is that their own ancestors had settled in Italy a few generations prior but had culturally become Italian by the time they got to America.

I’m guessing their families had both converted to Catholicism by the time they had left Italy.

This stuff is purely fascinating to me!

But what do you think? Are we truly looking at a mainly Middle Eastern groom and a Sephardic Jewish bride, who were known to me up until this year as my Italian great-grandparents?

I would love for you to leave a comment below and let me know what you think!

And if you’re interested in taking a DNA test like I did, here’s the link to MyHeritage.

This is 36: We Celebrated Our 9 Year Wedding Anniversary by Taking Our Kids on a Road Trip to Louisville, Kentucky

Yes, it was indeed nine years ago today that my wife and I were married at Brenthaven Cumberland Presbyterian Church. We purposely got married right next to a holiday (July 4th) so that we’d sort of always have a built-in day off for whatever we ended up doing for our anniversary.

For our 9th anniversary this year, we decided there was no better way to celebrate, than the load up our 6 and a half year-old son and our 1 year-old daughter and take a random road trip to one of my favorite cities in America:

Louisville, Kentucky.

Perhaps a more normal couple would have ventured there without the kids- and checked out some venues that are little more anniversary-ish and perhaps not so focused on catering to the attention spans of children.

Nah. Not us.

If we’re going to spend the money on a road trip, even just a 3 hour one across the state line, we might as well make it a family affair.

Being the world’s most famous vegan family friendly daddy blogger, Toyota helped us out by sending a 2017 4Runner; which proved to be ideal for our laid-back adventure to the Blue Grass State.

Because we’ve got our annual family zoo pass from Nashville, we were able to get in the Louisville Zoo for half off.

And because we’re cool adventurous people, we even took an unplanned stop at Dinosaur World in Cave City, Kentucky on the way back home to Tennessee.

Thanks to some points we’d earned, my wife was able to cash in a free stay at the Marriott Courtyard Louisville East, just a few miles from the zoo.

I must say we were quite entertained by the “New Japan Pro-Wrestling” tournament that happen to be on, while we enjoyed our dessert treats from Whole Foods Louisville; which was also just a few miles away too.

Two queen size beds between the four of us…

You can imagine how it must have been getting our daughter to sleep too; in the pack-and-play bed next to ours.

It was around 10:30 PM by the time both our kids were asleep. To ensure we didn’t disturb them, we laid out a towel on the bathroom floor in front of the sink, and enjoyed our gourmet vegan cupcakes from Whole Foods.

This is 36.

Dear Holly: You Just Love Getting All Dressed Up and Going Places

11 months.

Dear Holly,

A couple of weekends ago, we travelled to Chattanooga for my Aunt Rosa’s wedding. Fortunately, the dress you wore at your Uncle Jake’s wedding back in October still fit just fine. Mommy waited to put it on you until we got to the parking lot of the wedding venue.

As she put the dress on you there in the front seat of the car, you smiled and giggled, knowing that whatever was ahead, it was going to be exciting.

You were so excited as we entered the civic center where knew we half of the people there. And of course, they were excited to see you. For many of them, you were just a little baby the last time they saw you; now, you’re just a few weeks ago from your 1st birthday.

Something I am quickly learning about you is that you truly love to get all dressed up and go places. It’s not that you need a lot of attention on you, but instead, you just like to be part of the action.

You are so fascinated by life.

Even this past Saturday, you treated our day of running errands as a morning of entertainment. We stopped by Sprouts to buy some groceries, then several shoe stores, then Which Which for lunch, then Kroger for more groceries, and then Ross so I can pick out part of my birthday gift.

Each and every time we lifted you out of your car seat, you treated the new parking lot like a land of opportunities. You had the biggest smile on your face as you looked around, with such optimism.

Another way of looking at it is this: you travel well.

And that’s good, because at the end of next month for Memorial Day weekend, our family will be taking your biggest road trip yet- to Pensacola, Florida.

I am confident you are going to be thrilled by the experience.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Uncle Jake and Aunt Stephanie’s Wedding Reception (San Diego Vacation/2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

5 years, 11 months.

Dear Jack: Uncle Jake and Aunt Stephanie’s Wedding Reception (San Diego Vacation/2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

After a cinematic-quality wedding ceremony on the water, we all made our way inside for Jake and Stephanie’s wedding reception, which was also quite the class act.

You buddied up with your cousin Savannah, who you don’t often get to see when we fly out to California each summer. As I look back on these pictures from a few weeks ago, I can’t help but notice how much she looks like Mommy, just without the bangs.

Dear Jack: Uncle Jake & Aunt Stephanie’s Wedding Reception (San Diego Vacation/2016 Mitsubishi Outlander) r6

I’m not used to this, but it turns out I wasn’t the only vegan there! I was one of 4, actually, and that’s not even counting Mommy, who ordered the special vegan option on the menu; even though she’s not actually a vegan, but a vegetarian instead.

Dear Jack: Uncle Jake & Aunt Stephanie’s Wedding Reception (San Diego Vacation/2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

Since there were other vegans there, that also meant I actually got to enjoy vegan sweets. I fully recognize this may be the only wedding I ever attend that had its own special vegan wedding cake.

Dear Jack: Uncle Jake & Aunt Stephanie’s Wedding Reception (San Diego Vacation/2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

Outside on the deck overlooking the water, there was a blank canvas that anyone could help paint, which served as a wedding memory for Jake and Stephanie. You painted a fish for them.

Dear Jack: Uncle Jake & Aunt Stephanie’s Wedding Reception (San Diego Vacation/2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

After the meal, your cousin Savannah let you play a fun game on her phone, and even took you out to the dance floor!

Jake and Stephanie entertained everyone with a special montage for their first dance. It was very impressive. They obviously had practiced a lot for it.

Dear Jack: Uncle Jake & Aunt Stephanie’s Wedding Reception (San Diego Vacation/2016 Mitsubishi Outlander) r14

During the midst of the dance party, your baby sister Holly did her best to keep up with all the fun. But granted, it was getting past her bed time.

Dear Jack: Uncle Jake & Aunt Stephanie’s Wedding Reception (San Diego Vacation/2016 Mitsubishi Outlander) r15

It’s safe to say that she partied ‘til she dropped!

The wedding and reception were nothing short of magical. Such a good time. Memories that we’ll be holding on to, for sure.

Dear Jack: Uncle Jake & Aunt Stephanie’s Wedding Reception (San Diego Vacation/2016 Mitsubishi Outlander) r12

Jake and Stephanie’s wedding was the whole purpose for our trip. While we had a wonderful time celebrating with them, I can’t deny that we made an epic family vacation out of the trip.

Dear Holly: Your Uncle Jake’s Wedding at Tom Ham’s Lighthouse (San Diego Vacation/2016 Mitsubishi Outlander) Dear Holly: Your Uncle Jake’s Wedding at Tom Ham’s Lighthouse (San Diego Vacation/2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

We got to visit the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, as well as Legoland. We enjoyed a bonfire, we walked along the coast, and played in the sand. We got to drive all across San Diego in a 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander, with the 3rd row seat which you claimed as your own.

Dear Jack: Uncle Jake & Aunt Stephanie’s Wedding Reception (San Diego Vacation/2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

And it was all because Aunt Stephanie became a part of the Tuttle family, just like I did 8 years ago.

Too bad we don’t have a big family wedding to attend every year in California!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Uncle Jake and Aunt Stephanie’s Wedding Reception (San Diego Vacation/2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)