Pretend I write every week…

Hello my little munchkins,

It’s been a while since I last wrote, and there is a direct correlation between the lack of letters and the increase in the time it takes to parent you two. So much has changed since I last wrote. Arlo, you started Kindergarten. Elliott, you started Pre-K. You’ve both grown so much. You both love school a lot, but while one of you is on a mission to master water-color paints, the other is on a quest to capture the hearts and minds of everyone in his class.

At a recent parent-teacher conference, Elliott, your teacher raved about your paintings and how attentive you were to everything going on in the classroom. Arlo, your teacher said you had become a model student, always raising your hand and not interrupting, qualities you obviously exhaust at school. Your teacher spoke about how all the kids in class listen to you, something we heard last year in Pre-K, “He can get the entire class to act out a game he’s making up on the spot. He’s giving people roles and lines, and they’re all following his lead. It’s quite impressive he can lead an entire classroom.” Your Kindergarten teacher expressed a similar thought, “It’s really great he’s such a good role model for good behavior, because he could lead a revolt if he wanted to, and the whole class would follow.”

Your imagination is incredible, Arlo, and Elliott, you add color to his creations every step of the way. If I had a penny for every time I heard, “Pretend that you’re…” or “Pretend that I’m…” I would be a multi-millionaire.

The two of you will play together without stopping, without a break in the conversation, for hours. You’ll put on plays (where people have an odd tendency to get stabbed at the conclusion), you’ll create forts and storefronts, or zoos filled with stuffed animals, or where one of you is the animal and the other the keeper. You’ll have singing competitions with dolls, and dinosaurs, or do dino experiments together. You host tea parties, art galleries, you go shopping as a family or spend time parenting and mimicking all of your parents’ threats… The list of scenarios you create together is endless. At times, Elliott, you will be playing in one corner of a room with your dolls, and Arlo, you’re playing with dinosaurs in a different corner. Gradually you come together in the middle of the room and your two worlds collide seamlessly as princess and dragons and dinosaurs play together happily ever after.

You’re both dreamers, your minds always racing with visions of the future, scenarios or skits. You’ll randomly just break out of a deep trance to announce one of your daydreams, which are often telling of your distinct personalities.

One day, Elliott, you announced, “When I have kids, I”m going to wear high heels.” Arlo, you’ll routinely ask for quiet in the car so you can dream, then you’ll go into a spacey-trance and daydream to your heart’s content. There are often a lot of sound effects that accompany your daydreams, especially at night. Recently you told me, “Goodnight Dad,” and then you were quick to get me out of your room, a rarity. “I really have to get this dream started,” and as I walked down the stairs a battle broke out in your mind, as the sounds of sword and laser fights poured from your lips.

It’s funny to hear the ways your minds work. Arlo, often when you’re sitting on the toilet you’ll get quiet for a moment, then you’ll call out, “What are your three favorite things?” Or, “What are your top three favorite animals?” If I complete my lists too quickly, you’ll move the goal post, “No, no! Top five favorite animals? Mine are snow tiger, cheetah…”

Recently from the back seat, while gazing out at the city, Elliot, you said, “I can’t believe they built all these houses. The apes got smarter and smarter, and they built all of this.” This statement was obviously tied into a conversation you’d had with your mother about evolution, a conversation you’d been deep in thought about for a while, imagining apes with hammers and driving dump trucks.

We just wrapped up Christmas, and while I expected the normal chaos of the last few years, I was surprised that you were both super sweet, thanking us repeatedly for gifts, helping each other set up and play with new toys, sharing without fuss. There were no gimmies, or disappointed pouts. Arlo, you had a list of what you wanted and you walked Santa through it at the mall in great detail. Elliott, you were quite clear you didn’t want anything for Christmas, stating you didn’t really know what you were into, so you didn’t need anything. When people asked what you wanted, you replied, “nothing,” or influenced by Mariah Carey, you’d respond, “All I want for Christmas, is you-ooouu-oouuuu. I just want my family” So you were shocked and gratefully to find that you did indeed have presents waiting for you under the tree, even after you asked for nothing. Even in your worlds, you can’t make this stuff up.

While your imaginations are fantastic, breaking you away from your imaginary worlds to get ready for school or bedtime can often be difficult. There are fits and timeouts, and sometime’s, you’ll wrap up without a fuss. While I’ve done my fair share of daydreaming, I could’ve never imagined what being a parent was truly going to be like. You’re so sweet, and wonderful, and maddening, and adorable. Every day is something different with you two, and I wouldn’t imagine it any other way.





Fairies and bunnies and leprechauns, oh my…

Hello my little monsters,

If you should ever decide to become a parent, you’ll be faced with a never-ending list of choices for how to raise your children. What school should they go to? How do you discipline them when they’re not listening to you? And of course, what do you tell them about mythological creatures who supposedly enter your home in the middle of the night to leave them candy or other goods?  The latter is a question we’ve been dealing with a lot lately.

A few weeks ago, Arlo, you discovered one of your teeth was loose. You spent a good deal of time wiggling it back and forth and questioning all of the older kids in the neighborhood about how many teeth they’d lost. At one point you asked about the tooth fairy.

“What happens when I lose my tooth?” you asked.

“That’s a great question. I imagine the tooth fairy comes in while you’re sleeping and leaves you some amount of money while trying not to wake you up,” I responded, looking to your Mom for feedback on my description.

A few days later it was St. Patty’s Day, and Arlo, you decided to see if the neighbors were home to play. You’d only been gone a few minutes when you burst back through the front door.

“Aren’t they home?” I asked.

“They are, but a leprechaun snuck into their house and left Quinn a flute and some candy! I need to look around!”

“No leprechaun came by our house, sorry buddy.”

“How do you know? Quinn said it was hidden. I have to search the house!”

Somehow I was able to convince you rather quickly that a search of our home wouldn’t turn up anything other than some misplaced toys, so you returned to your playdate.

A few weeks later some people knocked on the door dressed in their finest church clothes and said, “We wanted to invite you to the memorial this Sunday.” Before I had a chance to ask who it was for, a young boy handed me a flyer and his mother, reading my clueless expression, added, “It’s for Jesus Christ.”

When I closed the door you both asked, “What was that about.”

I responded, “Remember when we said some people believe in God? Well, some people believe he had a son, and Easter is a celebration for him.” I knowingly left out the part about him being crucified and then rising from the dead because I would frankly have no clue how to answer your legitimate questions about this event.

“Oh,” you both shrugged, and then you ran away to continue building a fort.

The night before Easter Arlo asked, “Does a bunny really drop off our Easter baskets, or is it just a guy in a bunny costume?”

“It’s a bunny,” I answered, but my mind immediately became focussed on how creepy it would be if it were a man in a suit. Your Mom and I both agreed we wouldn’t do anything to keep up this charade. If you ask the truth, it’s yours.

For Easter, we had most of the family over, and Elliott, for the first time you became obsessed with chocolate in the form of Kit-Kats. You uncharacteristically ate a lot of sweets and then completely crashed, but just like the man for whom the holiday is for, you rose again and found your second wind just before bedtime. 

During the festivities, Arlo, you lost your first tooth or rather had it expertly torn out by Andy. At bedtime, there was a quick panic that the tooth fairy wouldn’t find your white tooth on your white sheets, so I grabbed a pen and a pad of paper. In my mind, I would write, “Here’s the tooth,” with an arrow, and leave both on your bedside table, but you had another idea.

“Oh good, we’re going to leave a note? Okay,” You said. “Write…”

“Tooth Fairy,
What do you do with the tooths? Do you dress them up like little dolls? My name is Arlo, I am 5 years old. This is my first tooth that I lost. Happy Easter. What is your name Tooth Fairy? Did you have a good Easter? How old are you Tooth Fairy? I’ll see you when my other tooth falls out. Bye Tooth Fairy.


P.S.- I play dollhouse and dress up with Elliott. Do you have kids? How old are they?”

I had no clue how to respond to why a Tooth Fairy collects teeth, but luckily your Mom told me to Google it. We stuck with the age-old, yet disgusting tale that the Tooth Fairy collects teeth to give to babies, who need them to eat food… Shockingly, for a little man with a thousand questions, you had your Mom read you the Tooth Fairies’ response, and that was it. You told people you got a dollar and a note, but asked no further questions about the 137-year-old Tooth Fairy with two helpful kids who left you some cash in exchange for a tooth she planned to recycle.

Life is filled with mysteries, some more exciting and interesting than others, but none more entertaining than parenthood.

I love you both so much.



Fear Factor

Hello, my little Monsters, 

As a kid, I had a healthy amount of fear. Some of it stemmed from watching scary movies. Some of it stemmed from childhood anxiety and the uncertainty of life as a kid. And some of stemmed from a fear of getting in trouble. 

I wasn’t scared of my Dad, but when my sisters and I acted up and pushed it too far, his raised voice, typically spoken through clenched teeth (a trait I somehow inherited and have passed down to you, Arlo), would instill the fear of God into us. When this happened we fell into line. We listened. We did as we were told.

I, for some reason, do not seem to possess the ability to put the fear of God into you. Perhaps it’s because you don’t believe in God…

On a recent drive home, Elliott, you asked your Mom several times to tell you a story about what happened to the dinosaurs. You thought Mom did such a great job, that just after she finished, you would ask her for the story again. Each time your Mom offered a little more detail until she eventually reached a part in the story where after a large meteor killed most of the dinosaurs on Earth, the remaining organisms eventually evolved into other species. Over time we got monkeys, then after even more time, monkeys evolved into humans. 

Being that your Mother is nothing, if not thorough, she decided at this time to tell you about religion. 

“Not all people think we evolved from monkeys.” She added.  “Some people think we came from someone who lives in the sky named God.”

This started a series questions from you, Arlo.

“Why do they believe that?”

Your Mom tried to be very neutral in her answers, explaining religion and beliefs, where I was a little more cut and dry.

“Because they believe what they read in this really old book called the Bible,” I said. 

“What do you guys believe?”

“We believe in evolution,” your Mom responded. 


“Because we believe in science and facts,” I responded.

“You’re being a bit one-sided,” your Mom said to me.

“No, I’m not, I’m being completely transparent. There are no facts to support the Bible’s claim that the world is only 6,000-years-old, but there are facts to support it’s actually much older…”

Your Mom then explained how people believe in many different Gods, to which you asked, “Are God’s real?”

“Some people believe they are,” Replied your Mom, while I responded, “No.”

“Wait, wait… Is Wonder Woman real?”

“No,” responded your Mom.

“Then Gods aren’t real! Because in the Wonder Woman book the Gods give Diana her powers, and if Wonder Woman isn’t real, then neither are the Gods.”

So it’s settled. 

Without the fear of God, you both tend to be less fearful, and thus it’s more difficult to get you to listen to me…

A few weeks ago you were both in the bathtub, playing together and being super sweet to each other (which is somewhat of a rarity lately), so I decided to let you soak while I cleaned the kitchen. A short time later I heard hysterical laughing, followed by a shriek of, “My toy fell in the toilet!” I walked into the bathroom to find the floor and all the rugs incredibly soaked, Elliott’s toy in the toilet, and wash rags stuck high above in the shower curtain. 

I was not happy. I yanked you both out of the tub and began explaining how you both knew better than to splash like this, and how disrespectful it was. I was talking loud, I had clenched teeth, and you were both silent with a look on your face that said you knew you’d screwed up, you’d taken it too far. Then, Elliott, you let out a huge fart… 

A smile slowly crept across your face and you turned your head to see if Arlo had noticed. He had. He cracked a big smile and when you made eye contact, you both burst into laughter. I followed suit. I’d lost the battle. 

Arlo, you’ve recently started having a different type of fear. Each morning you get fearful your hair isn’t just right before school. Your Mom said you told her that’s why you’ve started wearing the hood on your sweatshirts. But for the past few weeks, you’ve had me wage a war against your cowlicks with a healthy amount of water and a brush. Once I get it all slicked down, making you like a character from The Outsiders, you look in the mirror, smile, and say, “Oh yeah, just the way I like it.”

Elliott, you have a different fear lately. You’re fearful of not listening and being fussy. Last week you were tired, it was a “no-nap day”, which are typically tough days for you, and you were melting down. You wouldn’t listen, so you got a timeout. On the way up to the timeout you broke down into tears and cried, “I’m so sorry! I was good for Grammy today, but I’m fussy for you! I want to be easy for you too!”

There have been some tough times lately, but I still love you both, and thankfully your Mom and I are occasionally able to find humor in these unfunny times. We recently sat outside your room, Arlo, laughing hysterically as you threw a fit and tried your best to get us to come into your room during a timeout. 

“Guys? Guys? Are you there? What was that? Are you laughing? Why are you laughing? Mom? Mom? MOOOOMMMM? I found your phone. Your phone is in here! Your phone is in here and it has something on it!” We couldn’t stop laughing. “I’m dying!” you called out in desperation. It didn’t work, you severed your timeout in isolation and then laughed about it later. Now, this has become one of your Greatest Hits and since you know it made us laugh, you play it often.  

Unfortunately, I fear these fussy and disorderly times are not going to end anytime soon… God(s) help us all. 

I love you tons and tons, 



Just the tip of the iceberg…

Arlo James,

One night while I was going to the bathroom, you pulled up next to me at the toilet. Looking over you asked, “Dad, why do people have different types of penises? You and some of the kids at my school have one type, and mines like… longer at the tip and looks different.”

As we crawled into your bed for the night, I told you about circumcision and how some kids have the skin around the tips of their penis removed at birth. 

“People do that right after babies are born? Like right after?” You asked, completely shocked. 

“Not right away, but probably within the first day, they cut the skin off.”

You jumped up and wrapped both arms around my neck. “Thank you so much for not doing that to me daddy!”

You squeezed me so tightly and it felt like your first true moment of gratitude. 

You had more questions about the procedure and why people choose to do it or not. I told you a lot of people do it simply because it was done to them, but doctors don’t think it’s truly necessary anymore, so I didn’t want to do it to you. 

“Because you didn’t want to hurt me?” 

“Yeah, I didn’t want to cause you any pain if I didn’t have to.”

Another hug and sincere thank you. 

I wish it was going to be that easy to protect you from all of life’s unnecessary pain, but I simply won’t be able to. You’ll love and experience heartbreak. You’ll lose people you care about. You’ll grow up and learn more about racism, sexism, global warming, and a number of other extremely hard to swallow realities. But for now, your life is simple, and it was simply sweet to hear how grateful you were to be granted a little extra skin in the game so early on in life.

Love you so much,



Changing Characters

My little Monsters,

Every October 31 we dress up as our favorite movie, book, and superhero personalities, but these character’s origin stories are nowhere near as interesting as the episodes that play out with the two of you on a daily basis. 

This year we all decided we would be variations of outfits featured in the Lego Batman Movie. Arlo, you decided right away that you would be scuba batman. So one weekend I spray painted a two-liter bottle silver, put bat symbols on it, and attached ropes for a breathing tube and shoulder harnesses. You decorated your clothes with blue construction paper and a very healthy amount of Scotch tape to replicate a Batman you’d seen in one of your books. A few weeks before Halloween and your costume was finished. 

You spent the rest of the day wearing the outfit before deciding it wasn’t very good. You got sad and worried your taping skills would make your costume look “stupid.” So we turned to the internet for more costume ideas. You saw a picture of Electro Batman and decided that was who you wanted to be. So the next weekend we set out to work on making your costume. Once everything was all designed and cutout, simply awaiting glue, you decided you wanted to be Metallo. The Metallo costume was planned out in just enough time for you to change your mind again… We eventually bought a Black Panther costume. 

Elliott, you were sold on Fairy Batman and were very excited to wear a pink tutu, fairy wings, and spray-painted pink Batman mask. 

The morning following trick-or-treating, you both wanted a sweet treat after breakfast. I said you could have a piece, but only one. I meant, one that morning. You both interpreted it to mean only one piece and no more, ever, but shockingly you were both okay with it. Elliott, you’re still not too big into sweets, so you ate some M&Ms and called it good, not even finishing the bag. Arlo, you unloaded your basket and carefully inspected each piece, demanding detailed explanations of each candy and what it tasted like and my historical experience of eating it. 

You eventually decided on Skittles and separated them into small color-ordinated piles. 

“These are delicious,” you ranted. “I made the right choice.” 

Around this time, with all the spooky houses in the neighborhood, death must have been on your minds, because on a trip home, Arlo, you asked out of the blue, “Mom and Dad, when you die, do you want to be put in the ground or burned up?”

“Burned up,” your Mom replied. 

“Me too,” I added.

“Elliott, what about you? Do you want to be set on fire, or put in the dirt by yourself?”
“Set on fire,” Elliott calmly replied. 

So now we know where everyone stands on this topic. 

We carved pumpkins as always this Halloween season. Arlo, you wanted yours to have a Nightwing symbol. Elliott, you wanted yours to feature a banana. One of the pumpkins we carved was actually grown right outside our front door. Returning from pumpkin carving last year, Arlo put a few seeds in the ground to grow a pumpkin and one actually sprouted and grew a to the size of a soccer ball. 

You both still love to play dress up, but we’ve also reached a point where you often turn into characters that seem more like villains. You’ll run around screaming, not listening, shoving each other and swearing it’s all fun and games, only to have both of you erupt into tears the moment someone gets physically or emotionally hurt. 

No superhero story is complete without its tales of how our hero struggles internally with questions of good vs evil, and Arlo, lately your story is no different. You’ve really been pushing it lately and seeing what you can get away with. It’s incredibly frustrating, but then the next day you’re as sweet as can be. The villain turns his back to the dark side, and in the end, saves the day. But then the next day, however, the force is strong and lures you back to the dark side. 

You’ll completely zone out and block out our voice, doing anything but what we’ve asked. We’ve instituted some new rules and one the first day you were starting to get it. That night after struggling to get you to brush your teeth I asked you to put on your pajamas. You started to, but then you stood up and walked away, “I’m going to pick out a book.” You walked over to your books with your pants off and sat down. 

“What did I ask you to do?” I asked. “Stay on task!”

You quickly went back to putting on your pajamas. “What’s this called again?”
“Staying on task,” I replied.

“MOM!” you yelled down from your room. “I’m staying on task!”

You really like learning and using new words and phrases, even if you have no clue what they mean. Recently you heard some older kids yell, “Psych!” For the next few days, you would say, “You’re a psych!” Then there was an awkward few weeks where you kept misusing the word awkward over and over again.

And then there’s been your run in with four-letter words…

“And then the trouble really started when Floyd’s favorite shoe got stuck in the tree,” I read one night.

“Awe, fuck.” You replied, in an extremely empathetic tone.

When I looked at you, the look of focus dripped away from the story and panic set in. You knew you’d said something wrong, but weren’t sure what. “What, what does that mean?” We went over this last year when you said it for the first time, claiming, “A friend at school says it all the time and they don’t get in trouble.” 

When I was your age, I was playing spaceships with Aunt Tricia when she called out, “There’s a meteor coming!” To which I appropriately responded, “Oh shit!” I wasn’t in school at the time, so there are only two people who could’ve taught me that word. When Big Papa, one of the suspects, got home from work that evening, he washed my mouth out with soap. When he asked what I had to say for myself, I responded, “Thank you.” He said he felt terrible after that, so I try to keep that story in mind anytime you swear. 

Sometimes you’ll walk up and say sorry out of the blue. “For what?” I’ll ask.

“I was just about to say fuck,” you’ll respond. 

But it’s not all challenges. You’re incredibly funny, Arlo. We were recently getting into our car when someone pulled up next to us blaring a really gritty hip-hop song. 

“Can we play that song in our car?” You asked. “It sounds good to me and makes me want to dance!”

You both know far too many Big Papa lyrics and Arlo, you’ll often yell, “I’ve got my hand in the air, cause I’m a true player.” Or, “Dad, you’re broke and I’m so paid.”

Elliott, you’re incredibly sweet and love your brother so much that most of the time you will agree with him or share anything with him, even if you don’t want to, just because you want to make him happy.  We’re teaching you that it’s okay to say no. You love building forts and playing pretend with Arlo. You two will play pretend for hours. He’ll create this long and complicated storyline and you’ll be there every step of the way, adding details and suggesting costume changes any chance you get.  

You love to play pretend with your mom too. You’ll tell your Mom, “Act sad!” Your Mom will puff up her lower lip and say, “Aweeee.” You pet her face and say, “Be happy!” You carry on like this for awhile, having her act devastated just so you can brighten her day. 

You’re also incredibly funny, at times without knowing it. You’re still convinced you need to go to the dentist anytime your belly hurts and you have a very funny relationship with toothpaste. You’ll only use one type, and as soon as you’re done you start chugging water and spitting in a manner that resembles a water balloon with a small puncture. Then you turn and ask, “Do my teeth look sparkly?”

Your love for dresses has evolved into a crazy stage where you’ll only wear one of three dresses. Every day you go on a search for one of the dresses and completely meltdown if they’re all in the laundry. Now you even want to wear dresses and skirts to bed.

When your Mom wears a fancy outfit you are very complimentary and ask her detailed questions about where she got it, leading your Mom to joke that you really want a fancier mother. When birthday shopping for your Mom you helped me pick out a pair of earrings.

“I like these because they’re nice, but not too fancy. Mama doesn’t like things that are too fancy.”

Your Mom’s hypothesis held up when I asked if you wanted to help me pick out an outfit one weekend. You riffled through my closet of plaid flannels and picked out one of my few dress shirts. Then a few days later when I was wearing a new sweater, you responded, “You look nice Daddy. I like your outfit.”

You’re brave, but not fearless. You’ll hide in a dark bathroom during a game of hide-and-go-seek, but you’ll still cower at the sight of a Disney villain. 

Every character has a story, and stories evolve over time. I feel lucky to be a part of yours’ every single day, during the good plot twists and the bad, and through everything else that life will throw your way.

I love you both so very much.


Your Dad


Where’s my baby girl?

Elliott Mae,

I saw an article the other day aimed at father’s wanting to raise their daughters to be strong young women. And since I am one of those fathers, I decided to read the article. Right off the bat, I was cracking up as the author insisted dads should let their daughters wear what they want, and not try to make them always dress up in dresses and other girly outfits. For the first few years of your life, you did wear a lot of your brother’s hand-me-downs, but as soon as you were old enough to protest, protest you did. You asserted your strong female voice to tell us you did not want to wear T-shirts anymore, “Princesses don’t wear T-shirts!” From that day on, you only wanted to wear dresses, and under no circumstances did you want your hair pulled back into a pony tail.

While your brother spent what felt like a full year in pajamas, you’ve taken to picking out a dress every morning after you wake up and you get a bit grumpy if you don’t change pretty quickly. Dresses every day, constantly pushing your hair out of your face as you run around the house. In fact, the first morning I’ve seen you wearing a t-shirt in over three months was on the day of your third birthday party, but you did change many times into several different dresses before the party started.

Because your Grammie and Grandpie were going to be gone on your birthday, we had your party a few days early. This threw you for a bit of a loop. The day after your birthday party, and the day before your birthday, I asked, “Can you believe you’re going to be three tomorrow?” To which you responded, “I already had my birthday.” I told you about the travel and the early party, to which you questioned, “So I get two birthdays?” The morning of your special day I wished you a Happy Birthday, to which you casually responded, “Oh yeah, it’s my second birthday.”

For you Birthday all you really wanted was a pink cake with strawberries, so that’s what your Mom made you. You were very fixated on the cake, but once it arrived you only ate the frosting. You constantly beg for desserts, but rarely eat them. When we get ice cream you take tiny licks, letting most of it melt all over your hands and typically throw it away with less than a quarter eaten.

Of course, I can’t believe you’re already three, or how much you’ve changed. The gap in your teeth is gone, but the adorable inflection in your voice remains. Although lately, it’s turned into the quintessential toddler wine, “But Ma-maaaa, Dad-deeee.” You still give amazing hugs, tightly wrapping your arms around my neck while lifting and squeezing your legs up around my ribcage. You’re really tall for your age, nearly as tall as a lot of the kid’s in Arlo’s Pre-K class, who are nearly two years older than you. Maybe because of this added height, you’re a bit clumsy. Your legs are still constantly covered in scraps and bruises, sometimes from the wrestling your brothers and other boys in the neighborhood (did I mention how tough you are?), other times the result of you tripping over your own feet as you attempt to jet around the house.

You’re still unbelievably sweet, most of the time. You crawl into bed with us in the morning, wiggle up close and say in your little growl, “Snuggle!” You have a tremendous giggle and each night when I put you to bed you still ask for “beard scratches.” This term used to mean you wanted to scratch my chin, but now it’s evolved into when my beard tickles you when I give you zerberts and kisses on your neck.

You’ve got a really funny smirk you deliver when you’re trying to be sneaky, which also means you have no poker face. You love your Grandparents so much, and really look forward to your days with them, and then your afternoons with your brother. You are unbelievably sweet with Arlo and nothing makes you happier than when he wants to play with you. Just the other night you excitedly told you Mom, “Arlo is playing with me and being so nice!” When you were opening presents on your birthday you asked, “All of these are for me?” You immediately started sharing your new toys with your brother. You love playing with him and often all we hear is growling, laughter, running, laughter, a crash, more laughter which quickly turns to tears, then almost instantly back to laughter, more running, a crash… For the most part, you can’t get enough of him. 

We can’t get enough of you. You’re quite the Sweat Pea, as your Mama calls you. I can’t believe my baby girl is no longer a baby, but I love watching you grow up into such a funny and sweet little girl.

Happy Birthday!



Sept. 13, 2017

1,828 Trips Around The Sun

Arlo James,

In just under 8 hours you’ll have been on this planet for five years. I can’t honestly explain what your birth has meant to me, how it changed me for the better, or how unbelievably much I love you, but I hope years from now as you read these letters, that sentiment will come across to you clearly. 

You’re an unbelievably sweet boy. So much so that when I tell you, “Arlo Jame, you’re my favorite boy on the planet,” you’ll often scold me and tell me it’s not nice to have favorites, I should like everyone equally. Of course, you fail to realize this sometimes with your sister, but more often than not you love her deeply and stick up for her if needed. 

This summer I was driving home from picking up a pizza and when I  pulled into the driveway I saw the neighbor boys running around with another boy I’d never seen. But then at second glance, I realized the long-legged skinny boy was you.

The visual image of you that I hold in my head no longer matches the little man standing in front of me. You’ve stretched out, in the process losing your belly and turning into a tall and well-spoken boy. Today you’re turning five, and you’re everything you’d expect from a five-year-old boy. 

You’re funny in your actions, mannerisms, and the things you say. One day out of nowhere you asked me, “Hey Dad, how’s business.” I laughed and said, “Fine, how’s business for you?” You swung your arm around like you were giving it the old college try and responded through hysterical chuckles, “Business is veeerrryyy serious.” You’ll also narrate our Lego battles, telling me who should say what, and then what their response should be. You already have the gift of a Hollywood-action-movie writer, constantly instructing me to spit out catch-phrases and cheesy one-liners. 

You’re sweet, playing with your sister and leading her on countless adventures and stories you’ve made up for the two of you. And if she gets a new toy, or finds one you haven’t seen in awhile, you’re always quick to work up a story line she’s interested in, while making sure to write yourself a major part in the plot.

You’re also a boy, so you’re often struggling to keep your hands to yourself, or struggling to listen to instruction, but mainly you’re struggling to listen to instructions about keeping your hands to yourself. 

You have an incredible imagination and we can hear you in bed at night or on the couch playing through some scenario you’ve cooked up in which you’re batman, or a ninja, or some combination of superheroes you’ve invented. You make all sorts of crazy sound affects and your Mom and I often try to sit as close as we can to listen in to the action, chuckling at your airplane noises and explosions. Often times you catch us and then give us roles in your play. Typically I’m instructed to hold guys and repeat lines as you feed them to me, and then you blow up the guy I’m holding. I grab another guy and repeat.  

This week you’ll also be starting pre-k for the second time. You’ve always been right of the cusp of whether or not you’d start kindergarten at five, but last spring we decided to hold you back since you were nearly a year younger than everyone else in your class and seemed like you’d benefit from another year with multiple teachers. I’m happy since it means you’ll live at home for one more year of your life, but you’ll have to check in with me in 12 years to see if I’m still happy about it then. 🙂 You, on the other hand, weren’t very excited about our decision, not wanted to be left behind by your friends..  But then you discovered a group of girls from your summer camp were going to be in your class, and suddenly all was right with the world. 

You’re a clever boy, wise beyond your years. I can’t wait to see what this year holds for you. And the year after that, and the year after that… I know I’m not supposed to say it, but you truly are, and always will be my favorite boy on the planet. 

I love so much, Arlo James,