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.

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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)

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

5 months.

Dear Holly: Your Uncle Jake’s Wedding at Tom Ham’s Lighthouse

Dear Holly,

After our family spent most of the week enjoying our vacation with attractions like the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and Legoland, the time had finally come for us to celebrate the actual reason we had flown out to San Diego to begin with…

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

Your Uncle Jake and Aunt Stephanie’s wedding!

Dear Holly: Your Uncle Jake’s Wedding at Tom Ham’s Lighthouse

We didn’t have to drive the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander very far. In fact, the wedding venue, Tom Ham’s Lighthouse was so close, we could have just walked. But hey, we had a fancy ride so took advantage of it.

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

I had very high expectations of what their wedding would be like, with good reason. Both Jake and Stephanie had been planning it intensively for many months.

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

As I imagined, my expectations were valid. Their wedding made me think of a movie wedding: It was right there on the water. There was a string section providing the music. Jake and Stephanie even read vows to each other, which were both well thought out.

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

It was classy, extravagant, and yet not over the top. It was the perfect wedding ceremony.

Of course Mommy made sure we were all properly dressed for the occasion. Your brother Jack and I enjoyed our bowties, and as for you, Mommy found such a beautiful dress for such a beautiful little girl.

As you sat in Mommy’s lap during the ceremony, you took it all in. You paid attention the whole time.

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

However, I couldn’t tell you about the wedding if I didn’t mention how you made everyone in our section laugh during one of the most serious parts of the wedding.

The officiator was explaining, “The ring is a perfect circle. It is a symbol of…”

Pppffffftttt…ppfftt.

That was the sound that came from your bottom.

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

What made it so particularly funny was that it was from a precious little baby girl in a lovely dress- a baby girl who was sincerely appreciating the wedding ceremony. You were completely oblivious to the hilarious interruption you had just made.

Needless to say, anyone within a 15 foot radius of you couldn’t help but laugh, or at least pretend not to.

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

But fortunately, the wedding went on, and now you officially have a beautiful new aunt.

The wedding couldn’t have gone any better. It was a like a dream.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Your Uncle Jake’s Wedding at Tom Ham’s Lighthouse

Dear Jack: It’s the Barn Wedding Where You Can Catch a Fish and Hold a Snake!

5 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack: It’s the Barn Wedding Where You Can Catch a Fish and Hold a Snake!

Dear Jack,

This past Saturday you and Papa and I had a genuinely great time at my Cousin Jessica’s wedding. It was a once in a lifetime experience you will never forget- I’m sure of it.

Dear Jack: It’s the Barn Wedding Where You Can Catch a Fish and Hold a Snake!

Dear Jack: It’s the Barn Wedding Where You Can Catch a Fish and Hold a Snake!

Back a couple of months ago when our family was driving back from Atlanta on our first family of road trip as a family of 4, we took a minor detour to go visit my grandparents on Papa’s side. We didn’t know it at the time, but that would be the last time we saw PawPaw Shell on this Earth.

Dear Jack: It’s the Barn Wedding Where You Can Catch a Fish and Hold a Snake!

Just a few weeks later, he passed away. You and I attended his funeral as part of our father and son road trip; while Mommy and baby Holly were visiting family in California.

To honor his life, my cousin Jessica had her wedding at PawPaw Shell’s farm in Sale Creek, Tennessee.

Dear Jack: It’s the Barn Wedding Where You Can Catch a Fish and Hold a Snake!

I had never once in my life seen PawPaw wearing anything other than a flannel shirt and a pair of overalls. Never pants, never jeans, never shorts- just overalls. He was even buried in his overalls.

Dear Jack: It’s the Barn Wedding Where You Can Catch a Fish and Hold a Snake!

Undeniably, PawPaw Shell was one of the most Southern men I ever knew.

Therefore, for my Cousin Jessica to have a wedding that also honored our grandfather… it had to be unapologetically country. So it was.

Dear Jack: It’s the Barn Wedding Where You Can Catch a Fish and Hold a Snake!

For the music, Jessica’s step-dad pulled up his truck to the barn and rolled down the windows, so everyone could hear the music.

Dear Jack: It’s the Barn Wedding Where You Can Catch a Fish and Hold a Snake!

After the wedding, everyone lined up for the meal, which consisted of potluck. As for Papa and me, we brought the vegan pasta salad that Nonna made. There was also some vegan chili there as well.

Dear Jack: It’s the Barn Wedding Where You Can Catch a Fish and Hold a Snake!

Dear Jack: It’s the Barn Wedding Where You Can Catch a Fish and Hold a Snake!

I found a cinder block for you to sit on to eat the mac-and-cheese Nonna packed for you. Had we realized though, mac-and-cheese was actually already a menu item on the barn buffet.

Dear Jack: It’s the Barn Wedding Where You Can Catch a Fish and Hold a Snake!

A popular place to sit during the meal was in the bed of one of the many pick-up trucks there.

Dear Jack: It’s the Barn Wedding Where You Can Catch a Fish and Hold a Snake!

You enjoyed your wedding favor, which was a children’s duck call.

After the meal, we walked down to the pond to go fishing. You had never actually been “real fishing” before, so this was a really big deal for you.

Dear Jack: It’s the Barn Wedding Where You Can Catch a Fish and Hold a Snake!

Dear Jack: It’s the Barn Wedding Where You Can Catch a Fish and Hold a Snake!

No one brought bait, so it was a matter of digging for worms and catching grasshoppers…

Dear Jack: It’s the Barn Wedding Where You Can Catch a Fish and Hold a Snake!

My Cousin Jessica’s son Breyan was able to catch 3 fish right in a row! That was especially amazing, since he explained to me it was his first time fishing.

Dear Jack: It’s the Barn Wedding Where You Can Catch a Fish and Hold a Snake!

Unfortunately, you didn’t have such luck. You didn’t catch your first fish, but we will surely try again.

Dear Jack: It’s the Barn Wedding Where You Can Catch a Fish and Hold a Snake! w18

As we made our way back to the barn to get you a piece of wedding cake, we saw my Cousin Angie’s son with a ball python around his snake.

Dear Jack: It’s the Barn Wedding Where You Can Catch a Fish and Hold a Snake! w20

He explained it was his pet that he’s had for a year and a half. I decided to hold the snake, as I don’t necessarily remember holding one before at any point in my life.

Dear Jack: It’s the Barn Wedding Where You Can Catch a Fish and Hold a Snake!

You decided to pass on the opportunity, which surprised me, since we go to the Repticon reptile show every year.

After we left the wedding, Papa drove us by the famous Spaceship House on Signal Mountain. PawPaw Shell helped build it, back in 1973.

Dear Jack: It’s the Barn Wedding Where You Can Catch a Fish and Hold a Snake!

Though it all may seem like a dream to you now, I promise, it was all real. That all really happened! From the fishing to the snake to the UFO house!

Love,

Daddy

https://familyfriendlydaddyblog.com/2016-lexus-es-300h-father-son-road-trip/