Archive for the ‘ Growing Up ’ Category

3rd Birthday Monster Truck Road Trip: Build-A-Bear

Monday, November 25th, 2013

3 years.

Dear Jack,

As promised for part of your monster truck road trip for your 3rd birthday, we drove the Toyota Tundra to the Build-A-Bear at the Hamilton Place Mall in Chattanooga, TN.

I can’t take credit for the idea to go to Build-A-Bear Workshop, just the truck ride idea.

Mommy cleverly thought of going to Build-A-Bear as a way to celebrate with not only my parents, your cousin Calla, Aunt Dana and Uncle Andrew, but also your great-grandma, who you’ve only met a few times.

Like any man shopping, you immediately identified the animal you want to stuff, a red panda, and got to work.

Sure, you were impressed by the fact you got to pump the stuffing into your red panda by pressing a foot pedal. And by getting to place the heart in your red panda yourself.

But mainly, you just wanted to build your red panda, whatever steps that entailed, to ensure the red panda was officially yours.

Meanwhile, your cousin Calla enjoyed the journey, evidently impressed by the many potential accessories that were available to her pink penguin.

(She ended up getting her a tutu.)

You didn’t care about clothes, scents, or sounds. You just wanted your red panda.

When it came time to name your new friend, you decided to keep things simple:

You named him “Panda.”

Sometimes when your parents plan a seemingly good idea, it doesn’t quite work out as well as it did in our minds.

However, this actually went the way it was supposed to. It was appropriate and a lot of fun.

Not to mention, it wasn’t really expensive and it was an extremely unique experience for a 3 year-old boy and his girl cousin who is 7 months younger.

From Build-A-Bear, we loaded up in the truck and made our way towards the canyon, as you snacked on some delicious sour dough bread from the Earth Fare near the mall.

And of course, “Panda” was there the whole ride across the state lines of Georgia and Alabama.

To be continued…





Disclaimer: The vehicle mentioned in this story was provided at the expense of Toyota, for the purpose of reviewing.


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You’re Not Entitled To Much In This Life, Except…

Sunday, October 27th, 2013

2 years, 11 months.

Dear Jack,

Every once in a while, I try to take a break from narrating and bookmarking your life, and instead I like to share some advice on life, based on what I, as your dad, am experiencing.

Here is one of those things I especially want you to remember from me:

You’re not entitled to much in this life.

See, I am a child of the Eighties. Born in 1981, I am the firstborn of Generation Y.

Growing up, I was told by everyone, including every adult I knew, that I could do and become anything I dreamed of and put my heart into.

And I bought it. After all, I heard it all the time!

Yes, I do indeed believe that you, my son, can do and become anything you dream of.

But at the same time, I don’t want you taking that as simply as I did.

Because then there’s a chance your dreams will remain dreams, if you do. There’s a chance you may believe that making dreams come true is actually easier than it is.

It’s not easy.

I had to work very hard (and very smart) to get where I am in life.

But I admit, something that life has taught me, especially since joining the career world nearly a decade ago, is that basically, I’m entitled to… not a lot.

I used to believe I deserved certain things in life. I believed that because (at least in my own mind) I’m a “good person,” that meant I would be the automatic recipient of a somewhat easier path to my definition of success.

It has only been in recent years that I fully realized and accepted this is not so easily the case. Sure, I’m special, as every person is, but as far as being entitled to things in life because of it, I’ve found more of the opposite to be true.

Because if everyone is special, then it takes a lot more work to prove that you, as an individual, really are that special. (Hence the concept behind American Idol.)

So I had to lower my expectations on certain things in life. That happened by me nixing the belief that I am entitled to anything.

In fact, what exactly am I entitled to? That’s a deep thought- and right now, I honestly don’t know the answer.

Life is challenging. But as long as I am here in this life, you will have me not only rooting you on, but being that (sometimes annoying) person to also show you the fundamentals on how to make your dreams come true.

Based on what I know, it has a lot to do with capitalizing on what you’re already best at, while at the same time overcoming the challenges (and fears) of your weaknesses and not letting them be the reason you don’t get what you want in life.

I also know a lot of success in life has to do with money management, not simply making money: It’s crucial to become debt-free, then save and invest your money for the rest of your life.

You will always be hearing me preach this lesson to you because it was only this past July that our family worked our way out of over $58,000 of debt, now being able to save our money; and in the future, to be able to start investing it.

So that’s what you’ve got ahead of you, a life of hard (and smart) work.

You’re not entitled to much in this life, except… my direction and encouragement on how to work for dreams, not wait on or expect them.

You’re entitled to me passionately supporting your dreams, but you’re the one in the driver’s seat. I’m just reading the GPS to you.

You’re entitled to my love and support. I know that much.





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I Think My Kid Is Showing Signs Of OCD

Monday, September 16th, 2013

2 years, 10 months.

Dear Jack,

As you approach the age of 3, I can see how logic and detail are becoming more relevant in your life.

There is now such a thing as reason and you are beginning to make decisions based on it.

Sunday afternoon I layed down next to you in the living room as you played with your cars and trucks.

And by “play,” I mean that you carefully parked them all along one edge of the blanket, in order of length, from what I could tell.

Then, once they were all perfectly lined up, you reparked them along another edge of the blanket, but the rule was that each one have to be removed in reverse.

You spent like 30 minutes doing this.

The whole time, you never revealed to me what the rules were, instead only telling me, “I got to park my cars.”

Other than that, you barely said a word, being surprisingly self-contained and self-sufficient.

Now that you can sing your ABC’s and successfully count to 10, I believe that finding order in things is important to you.

You want to find a place for everything. You want to organize the chaos.

So that means that playtime sometimes means organizing-and-categorizing-time.

Hopefully you won’t end up with some of the weird ticks I did when I was a kid, like “skiing on and jumping over” the power lines by biting my teeth together while riding in the car.

(I hope that example makes sense to… anyone at all!)

Or making sure my bedroom lights were turned off by tapping the switch three times. (As if that makes any sense either!)

I eventually overcame the power of my superstitions, but it wasn’t easy. It was nearly as rough as trying to give up a caffeine addiction.

So maybe you’re not actually developing OCD… but as I look at these pictures, I sort of wonder.

Even if you were a bit OCD, I’d say that’s a good thing.

I’d rather you be slightly obsessed with trying to control things instead of passively letting them control you.





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The 2 Car Garage Up My Son’s Shorts

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

2 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack,

By now I’ve learned just to always keep the camera with us in the car. Otherwise, stories like this one wouldn’t have their proper illustrations.

It’s often during that early morning drive to school that your creative juices are flowing finest, as you attempt to entertain yourself (and accidentally, me as well) in the back of my Honda Element.

This morning, right after we had just passed the fire station with its two open garage doors, you began narrating the ad lib story about the white car (that was mine when I was a kid) and the red Jeep you were playing with.

“Hey, I have to go in the garage,” said the white car, voiced by you, speaking in falsetto, as you drove him up your left shorts leg.

Immediately following, the red Jeep announced he needed to go in the other side of the garage; which, you guessed it, was the up the other leg of your shorts.

As I mentioned yesterday, “ It’s like you get a thrill by taking strange objects outside of our house and into the real world… as a way to qualify their true existence.”

Therefore, before I dropped you off in your classroom this morning, you had to place your two cars in your cubby so they could be accessible the very moment you would see me again at the end of the day when I picked you up.

I should point out that the red Jeep has a driver, who we refer to “Ghost Man,” a plastic figurine you won as a prize at a Halloween festival last year.

Today when we got home, I asked you what Ghost Man did all day in your cubby.

You instantly and very sincerely responded, “He was good.”

Then I asked you what he ate for lunch. Your reply:

“Daddy, he was in the cubby all day!”

I’m not sure how you were so confident he was good all day if he wasn’t able to leave the cubby, not even to eat lunch.

But, hey, as long as you make up funny scenarios like a 2 car garage up your shorts or Ghost Man behaving well in your cubby all day, I’m going to keep asking you curious questions.






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To Be One Of Those Cool “Half Marathon Parents”

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

2 years, 8 months.

Dear Jack,

Now that on Facebook I’ve stopped engaging myself in conversations or debates involving anything political, religious, or regarding a plant-based lifestyle, or curing cancer through Gerson Therapy…

Or being sarcastic and therefore confusing people, or posting phony status updates meant to mock the desperate cries for attention and pity that are so abundant, well… Facebook just isn’t that entertaining to me anymore.

And I think Facebook is a better place now, without me playing that role. These days all I do on it is just publish my letters to you and “like” peoples’ pictures.

That’s it.

So basically, I’m only on Facebook for 5 minutes a day, looking at my friends’ pictures to learn if anyone is having a baby or just went on a trip.

Or, by default, seeing pictures of them running in a half marathon.

Through that process, I’ve realized the nirvana I wish to achieve on Facebook:

To be one of those cool parents who runs half marathons and otherwise leaves the general public guessing on their personal opinions and lifestyles.

To be someone who Facebook friends ultimately only know through pictures with no captions.

I admire those people. I think they are cool. I wouldn’t mind being a little mysterious… (As if this helps!)

Lucky for me, today is Mommy’s birthday! (She and I are the exact same age for 9 months of the year; and that 9 months begins today.)

So yesterday, the three of us went to Fleet Feet so Mommy could try on some new running shoes, with the advice and direction of an expert. After all, she and I have had our old running shoes since before we were married over 5 years ago.

And for the past couple of years, she’s been telling me she wants to run in a half marathon.

Though I’ve always encouraged her to do so, there evidently was something motivating about this birthday that caused her to decide to take the plunge… by actually buying the official, right shoes for it.

So as Mommy was picking out her shoes, I turned aside to her quickly as the sales associate was checking the back of the store for a different size shoe for her:

“Hey, should I get shoes too, and join you in that half marathon?” I asked.

The rest is history. It seems like only yesterday… oh wait, it was.

Mommy is now the proud new owner of a pair of New Balance’s- and for me, a pair of Mizuno’s.

This is a pretty big deal for us. Mommy and I get to have a hobby! We get to be somewhat of experts on a thing.

Even if it’s simply running for a sort of long distance in a race we’re not actually trying to win.

In the process of buying these new shoes and doing YouTube searches on running a half marathon, I am now quickly becoming familiar with “front foot running.”(When you run in place, you put your weight on the front of your foot, not your heel. “Front foot running” is using the running-in-place model to move forward, to keep from permanently damaging your joints.)

I have to admit, I’m starting to feel pretty cool all of the sudden… on my way to be one of those half marathon parents!

Not that Mommy needs a new hobby to be cool. She’s way cool. And way beautiful.

Not to mention, she’s so sincere and giving of a person. You and I are so blessed to have her in our family of three. But you already know that.





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