Letters from Dad: Happy 4th to my 4X4

Dear Hudson-

Today is your fourth birthday big guy. It’s hard to believe that four years ago you were born on a day where there was a surprise April snow shower. Besides being born on April 4th (04/04), you are also a 4X4 for how tough of a kid you are. You could run full speed ahead into a brick wall and not cry. On the other hand, you do need to work on not crying when you are told no, but that will come with time.

This past year, you got to go to Disney World, learned how to swim, broke your nose, started school at the Downtown School, and were a genuine joy to be around.

You had a great past year and my favorite parts of the past year are my times with you and our whole family. Here are several reasons why you are my best bud in the entire world and some lessons for you for the year ahead:

You love to give thumbs up. Every time you look my way and give me a big smile and a big thumbs up, it gives me great joy.


You are an excellent brother. You look up to your big sister both literally and figuratively. You all do have the occasional fight, but for the most part you get along and really enjoy being with each other.

Keep thinking you are a superhero, because you already are one to me.


Keep being nice to all animals. This year you got to name a puppy for the Forsyth Animal Shelter and you named in McKinley. Then another puppy in the litter was named Hudson for you!


If you want to play sports that will make me happy. But if you decide it isn’t for you, I will be just as happy. As long as you are doing things you enjoy and that YOU want to do.


Keep wearing cowboy boots with shorts, and don’t care what anyone else thinks. Remember that for the rest of your life. You will be more happy if you go for it, and don’t worry about what other people might say.


Now that you are four, it is probably time to avoid going to the bathroom outside and making sure you wear underwear that fit and are on the right way.


Keep loving desserts as much as you do, but maybe try to like some healthy foods too!

Keep being a daredevil, but also remember you need to be safe.

Keep being close to your family. They will be there for you!

Most importantly keep being you! You are a great little man and I wouldn’t trade you and your sister for anything!


I can’t wait to see what this year is like for you. If it is anything like the past year, it will be another great year for us! If you ever want to go fishing or to a lighthouse, I will always want to go with you.



Letters from Dad: Hudson’s 3rd Birthday

Dear Hudson,

Don’t ever change! You will always be a super hero to me.


Two was an excellent year for you and great things are to come this upcoming year. I look forward to taking you to your first baseball game and on our first fishing and camping trip together. We still don’t know where your blonde hair came from, but we know you can’t be the milkman’s son because you have “The Callahan Gigantic Head.” I wanted to share with you things that you do at this age that make me very proud to be your dad.

My Favorite Things about You on his third Birthday:

Pretty regularly, you come down to our room somewhere between 2:00 and 5:00 in the morning. I don’t care though at all, because I know you wake up scared. I know that when you walk down the dark hallway, you are still scared. I know that when you get to my side of the bed and see that I am there, you aren’t scared anymore. That is why I throw you in bed between us and let you sleep in our bed the rest of the night. I am thrilled that I provide that sense of safety for you, and want you to know I will always be here to protect you.



You think your sister is the greatest person alive and you want to be just like her. There will be times in your life where this will change. In fact, we catch you pulling her hair quite a bit already. But you are lost when she is gone, and there is nobody you would rather play with at this age.



The carpenter trait must have passed me over, because you are all about working with tools. When Poppy finished our basement this year, you were always down there helping him. I always have you by my side when I am doing yard work too.


You are fearless. When your sister jumps off the second step to the floor, you go for the third step. There is no water that scares you, but you scare your mom and dad when you get around water! I think the only thing I have seen you scared of so far is bee’s. Hopefully you get some of your sister’s caution as you get older, otherwise, you will keep your parents up late at night worrying about you when you are a teenager.


When you want me to sleep in your bed at night, it is very easy to tell when you are ready to fall asleep. After we read one of your favorite books like The Hungry Caterpillar or The Alligator Under the Bed or Little Blue Truck, you always ask for one more. After that discussion, you rub on your ear for a bit and then you let out one massive yawn. Within seconds after that yawn, you are fast asleep. Every night, you go through the same routine!


You are a dog guy just like your old man. If you walk into a room and there is a dog there, you book it straight over to give that dog a pet. Keep loving dogs, because they will always be there for you.

You are a candy and sweet-a-holic, which you get from your mom. You like to sneak around the house and find any piece of candy, cake, or cookie that you can and you aren’t scared to shove it down your throat when nobody is looking. You make it a regular habit to push kitchen chairs over to climb up to the high cabinets to look for candy, we try our hardest to hide from you.

You are a dancing machine. You get all of your moves from your mom, because I sure don’t have any. We went to a wedding last summer, and you literally didn’t leave the dance floor, ever! You love having family dance parties after dinner and your favorite song is Hey Mickey You’re So Fine, because you think it is about Mickey Mouse.


You love cars and trucks. Anything with Blaze and The Monster Machines on it is your favorite. You also love your light up shoes and your cowboy boots. You are a complete dirtball. We honestly try to bath you frequently, but it really doesn’t matter because you are dirty again very soon. When it rains, you are immediately on the lookout for puddles to splash in. You love anything green. The problem is that you think red is green, and we aren’t sure if you are color blind or you will grow out of that one. So we really don’t know if red or green is your favorite.


Things in this world aren’t perfect, but my life is perfect when I am with you and our family and friends. I can’t wait to see what this year has in store for us, little buddy.

Your Dad

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Birth: A Father’s Perspective-McKinley’s Birth

This is the story of giving birth from a father’s harebrained outlook. I have two wonderful children, McKinley and Hudson. My wife, Katie, did 99.9% of the birthing work. Here is the story of child-rearing from my point of view:

Read Part II-Finding out about Hudson
Read Part I-McKinley’s Pregnancy Stick

Imagine if a custodian watched Matt Damon in Goodwill Hunting and thought that they could solve an advanced algebraic graph theory. Or that a future president watched Bill Pullman in Independence Day and thought that they could handle an international crisis because Pullman sent aliens back to outer space (actually Pullman’s character would be a lot more reassuring compared to some of our presidential candidates now). I was the dunce who believed watching the birth scene in Knocked Up would be enough to prepare me for the birth of my first child.

It’s in my DNA to have problems paying attention during classes, unless I’m very interested in the subject matter. I blame it on genetics. I imagined that Lamaze class would be a bunch of breathing drills and a lot more interactive. The first class Katie and I attended, the teacher went straight into lecture mode and I went straight into “zone-out” mode. In my mind that was okay, I had seen Knocked Up several times and that was all I needed to know while in the birthing room.

knocked up

For those of you that haven’t seen Knocked Up, it’s a 2007 Judd Apatow movie starring Katherine Heigl and Seth Rogen. Rogen impregnates (knocks up) Heigl during a one-night stand and the movie follows her pregnancy. At the end of the film, there are several graphic scenes as Heigl gives birth in her hospital room. Rogen doesn’t handle the birth in a tremendous manner, but he does a good enough job to keep Heigl happy. Jay Baruchel, a co-star in the movie, accidentally goes into the room right when the head is coming out and then freaks out. I was much more of a Jay Baruchel than a Seth Rogen during McKinley’s birthing process.

I finally figured out on the night of August 21, 2010 that I should have paid closer attention during Lamaze class. Unfortunately, that was also the night that Katie went into labor. As Katie started to complain of possible contractions as we lay in bed in our Ardmore house, my eyes jutted wide open and I thought to myself, “what in the hell am I supposed to do now?”

Katie remembered the overnight bag (she packed it too) and we rushed out of the house. I’m somewhat surprised that she didn’t drive too. We drove the half-mile to Forsyth Hospital and even though Katie was the one in labor, she was also the one that did all of the talking during the check-in phase. We went into a room and they checked her cervix and declared she wasn’t quite ready yet, and they actually sent us home. I’m not sure why they wanted to put me through several more anxiety-filled hours of waiting (like we were going to go back to bed) at home, not to mention the pain that Katie was going through. Two hours later we headed back up the road to the hospital and this time they admitted Katie.


I did okay for the first tests, and then the anesthesiologist came in for the epidural and my eyes rolled back in my head for the first time. He pulled out a needle that looked like it should have been administered to a humpback whale not to a human. My first piece of advice for fathers is don’t watch the needle go into your wife. It’s very disturbing.

After the epidural, I settled down a bit as Katie relaxed as the medicine took effect. Katie continued to be the one who talked to the nurses the most as I wobbly stood there in a state of shock. One decision I made that helped me stay upright during the whole process was to stay up high. That means that I decided to stand up at the top of the bed by Katie’s pillow and look down. There was no way that I could have made it through the whole birth process if I went down low and watched all of the stuff that goes on down there.

As McKinley came closer to birth, here are some of the thoughts that ran through my mind:

  • Stay High! 
  • Look at Katie’s face and don’t look down at the nurses and doctor
  • She is really squeezing my hand hard (I was smart enough never to verbally complain about anything during birth, I kept it all to myself)
  • Just breathe along with Katie, don’t forget to breathe

The one time I made the mistake to look down was when Katie’s water finally broke and discharge came flying out. This was my second near-faint moment.

  • Oh man! What the heck was that? I think she just projectile vomited from down there. Is that possible?

I made it through and McKinley made it out. I have a constant tremor in my hands already, and I’m sure they were shaking like a major earthquake as I cut the umbilical cord.

Katie was a true champion during the entire pregnancy, while I was a big wimp. Find out in my next installment about Hudson’s birth if I learned my lesson.







Birth: A Father’s Perspective Part II

This is the story of giving birth from a father’s harebrained outlook. I have two wonderful children, McKinley and Hudson. My wife, Katie, did 99.9% of the birthing work. Here is the story of child-rearing from my point of view:

Read Part I-McKinley Edition Here

Part II- The Pregnancy Stick (Hudson Edition)

If you read part one, you realized that Katie and I wasted an exorbitant amount of time and money on pregnancy tests for our first child, McKinley. Two years later, we went after child number two. As I have come to learn, the second child gets the short-end of the stick in multiple areas (sorry Hudson). As a second-child myself, I speak from experience. I can only imagine that this only goes additionally downhill for the third child and beyond.


Just a Few of Many Areas Where Second Children Get the Shaft:
1. Clothes and Toys. You are going to get all hand me down clothes if you are the same gender as your sibling. In some cases, you will get the hand me down clothes of your opposite-sex gender. For instance, Hudson was gallivanting around the snow this winter in a pink, cheetah print snowsuit.
2. Automobiles. If you are the second child, and your sibling goes off to college, you most likely will just get their car. For instance, after my parents sold my Jeep (that is another story) without my knowledge, I had to drive Copper. Copper was my sister’s 1982 Mazda Piece-a (A Mazda Piece-a is a name for a type of Mazda that was a real piece of you know what), and it was named after its color. I had no say in getting Copper, it was just forced on me. I know I sound a little bitter. I should have just been happy that I had a piece-a, instead of no piece-a at all. Anyways, Copper only lasted a couple months with me, before I killed it on a mountain in West Virginia.
3. Bumps and Bruises. When your first child falls down, you coddle over them like they just broke their neck. When they sneeze, it’s like they have the Bubonic plague. When the first child cries, most parents feel that they will need psychiatric help for the rest of their life. None of this carries on with the second child.
4. Finding out you are pregnant with a second child doesn’t cause the same amount of craziness as finding out about the first child. This isn’t to say that the excitement level goes down, we were just as thrilled with both kids. You will see below that we were now professionals at finding out that Katie was pregnant.

Hudson’s Pregnancy Stick:
After going through McKinley’s pregnancy, Katie had now become a wiz during her pregnancy with Hudson. She didn’t need an ovulation calendar, because she had it memorized in her brain. There wasn’t the same fear in the air about whether she would become pregnant. There was a newly found confidence in everything pregnancy related the second time around. You could look at this week’s Super Bowl. Katie was the wide-eyed and nervous Cam Newton with McKinley. When it was time for Hudson’s pregnancy, the old sheriff, Peyton Manning version of Katie, was in town.


We didn’t find out that Katie was pregnant with Hudson from the friendly confines of our Ardmore home. We found out at Mellow Mushroom! We had some friends in town from Ohio, and we were waiting for our tables, when Katie said she felt like she might be pregnant. I guess you can call it mother’s intuition, because I had no idea what she was talking about.

I thought Katie would want us to go home, and she would send me back and forth to the drug store to get a hundred pregnancy tests of all shapes and sizes. Instead, she looked into her purse and said, “Actually, I have a test in here.” Her friend goaded her a bit, and they decided they should just go into the bathroom at the restaurant, since we had to wait anyways.

In the words of my late friend, Richard, “that really weirded me out.” In fact, everything girls do together in the bathroom together majorly freaks me out. McKinley is only five, and she already goes into the bathroom with friends and does peculiar things women do in there together.

So, Katie went into the bathroom with her friend like it was no big deal, and left me at the bar at Mellow Mushroom, wandering about how one person can change so much in three short years. She came out with a big smile on her face. She hugged me and cried a little bit, but these weren’t Mississippi River tears. They were more like Silas Creek tears. Katie didn’t make me run down the street to the CVS to awkwardly get a bunch of different kinds of tests. She was perfectly satisfied and convinced that she was pregnant, and she was right.

Obviously, Katie learned a lot after her pregnancy with McKinley. I just became more confused!

Coming up: Part III-The Birth of McKinley