Friday, December 5, 2014

Happy Birthday Uncle Ron

Dear JJ,

It is your Uncle Ron's birthday - 65 years old today.  Like you, I have known him my entire life.

He was there, at Thanksgiving in 2009 when we announced we were pregnant. Your love of trains matches his love of the same. He has promised to take you on a train ride in a train park.

When you were young we found the cap that Ron wore at the same age - 61 years later you wore it.

I have one brother left- your Uncle Ron- today is his birthday

Happy Birthday



Wearing Uncle Ron's Cap -
This was Uncle Ron just 61 years before in that same cap

Uncle Ron on the left - shortly after learning he would be an uncle for the first time

That we stayed at Uncle Ron's 9 months before you were born.... 
One of the first people we told we were pregnant was Uncle Ron

In front of our house in Ketchikan - heading off to school - Ron had the brief case 
Here is Uncle Ron in the middle - better uncle Jim (right) and me

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Becoming Scrooge

This year I put up a tree- first one I have put up in decades. With a big smile- because my son wants to decorate it.
Dear JJ,

You may have heard of the story of Scrooge- who lost the spirit of Christmas. When he was young he loved the holiday, but after a series of life events he lost that spirit and reveled in saying, "Bah humbug." He regained his spirit and became quite a man of Christmas cheer.

Somehow I had fallen into that. When I was a child I loved Christmas. My mom had the best and most meticulously decorated tree of all. Somewhere in my early adult life I lost the spirit of the holiday, perhaps because beliefs changed, or I was busy, or I was turned off by the commercialism  - a bit of all of it.

But my change didn't come because I was visited by ghosts, or found some new belief, and it didn't happen overnight. But today I saw the completed change.  Right now you are on the plane with your mom on your way home. Having spent extra time with your aunt Kim and family after Thanksgiving.

This morning- I put up the Christmas tree. Strung it with lights, and had a big smile on my face knowing you would be home and would love to decorate it.

You and your mother- completed the story of Scrooge for me.

Thank you son - a bit of love made this holiday a great one for me.


Your mom and I celebrated our first X-mas in 2009 with you in utero. We were quite happy- and inspired to put action figures on the tree. It was the first X-mas I was enjoying celebrating for many years
Last year you took a bit of interest in the tree - more than any year before
When you were 2, you didn't like Christmas ornaments - so when your mom was gone skiing you and I tossed them into the swimming pool. I thought I found a Scrooge spirit.
Like Uncle Ron you always liked trains

This year, with Auntie Kim and Riley, you found a new interest in decorating the tree
Of course your idea of a nativity scene is like mine - where does Batman go?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Tough Time Of Year

Dear  JJ,

This is a difficult time of year for me. Today would be Uncle Jimmy's 63rd birthday - the person you were named after. My brother, my friend- and the uncle who would have spent hours endlessly playing with you because he loved children as much as any person I have ever met.

He had many friends- and at his funeral people came from many miles around who had known him since he was a kid growing up in Ketchikan.

Every year Auntie Bev sends out a photograph of him with a bit of poetry that is the best descriptor of him. This is his photo and below are the words she sent out:

The measure of a man is not determined by his show of outward strength, or the volume of his voice, or the thunder of his action.  It is to be seen, rather, in terms of the nature and depth of his commitments, the genuineness of his friendships, the sincerity of his purpose, the quite courage of his convictions, his capacity to suffer, and his willingness to continue “growing up.”    Grady Poulard

James Erick Simpson
December 2, 1951~December 7, 2006
Loved By All

You have his smile, his sense of adventure- his love of people. No matter what you do in life, I couldn't me more proud of you for being like him.


The look
The smile

Monday, November 24, 2014

Mom is Home

Good to Have Mom Home
Dear JJ,

We went to Oregon for a quick trip to see everyone. The good news is that my mom, grandma, is home. She got a bit better- far from perfect, but it is so good that she is home and back with dad and her beloved dog, Sparky.

I keep asking my folks if they would consider moving closer to us - because there may come a time when I can't ask them, and time is running out.  I just wanted to let you know one thing:
if you ever ask your mom and I to move closer, you won't have to ask twice.



Thursday, November 13, 2014

In the Kitchen

Dear JJ,

You have always enjoyed hanging around the kitchen. Now- when I go into the kitchen to make something you want to help.

Since I love the kitchen, and you are such a great help - your mom has started to make a video of the times.

So here are a few photographs of us in the kitchen.



Even as a baby we found a place to keep you

The three of us love hanging around the kitchen

For a brief period of time we tried to keep you two characters out

But you always liked seeing what was going on

So we started with simple stuff to make

We even got your mom in the kitchen

A good chef tastes food

Can't think of anyone I would want more to help me in the kitchen

Add caption

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Joys of Halloween

Dear JJ,

Do you know one of the great joys of being a dad? It isn't being able to watch our childhood again- it is having such a deep love that we watch you love being a kid.

Tonight I look forward to taking you out to Trick or Treat. To see your face when you get the loot- to watch people admire your Captain America outfit. To watch you flex your muscles when I ask you to.

To see you smile.

Your smile is the joy that warms my heart - and every holiday I just smile more because of it. Thank you


Dressing up for your Pre School Party

Your mom gets to take you. The hard part of working is I just get to see photographs- but the fun part of today is I get to see you. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


You came into the bathroom and seeing me brush my teeth wanted to brush yours- even though you just woke up
Dear JJ,

Four years old is full of energy - a lot of energy. But even with all that energy you want to spend a lot of it trying to please us, and make us smile.

The hard part is when you feel as if you don't please us. Then you cry.

You even picked up a sense of humor and teasing- if you can make us laugh or smile, then you are so happy.

We want to please you, son. We like it when you are happy, and healthy, and growing.

I just can't believe how much joy you have brought to our lives,


You love to help daddy in the kitchen

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Sweetness at the End

Dear JJ,

Going to see my folks for their 66th Anniversary and Dad's 90th birthday was difficult.  My first time to see my mom in a "memory care unit," and I didn't know what to expect.

But you made it great.

My parents have this deep and abiding love, that probably few will know- especially with the years they have had together. You can see the pure contentment they have around each other. But you bring them a different joy.

Your mom said something that struck, "Having JJ at this point in their lives is like the sweetness in the end."

My son- the dessert in life.

You are that for us too, son. We have had a great life, but you are the sweet that gives us so much joy and smiles. Thank you,


Dad said to mom, "I'm sorry it has to be this way." Mom said to dad, "These 66 years have been my pleasure."

Nothing makes people smile like a happy boy with a balloon 

Two days later, even at the 90th birthday- the balloons are back and everyone is all smiles

Friday, August 29, 2014

Grandma Simpson

Dear JJ,

When I told you that my mom was sick and not feeling well you looked at me and said, "Grandma Simpson?" Amazing that my four year old gets that connection. But still, this is a hard one.

We have to go visit her, and she is now in a home to help her. My mom loves you- when we told her that we were going to have you it was one of the happiest times I have seen her.  She, more than anyone, loves to get you cars and trucks as toys - because she had boys and knows how much we love those.

Now she is having a hard time, with her memory and her thinking - but she still loves you.

Do you know what the hardest part for me is- I can't call her. Because I use to call her every day, and it isn't something that I can do. So I pass word on to her by my dad, Grandpa Simpson.

We all get old, son. We will go and visit her, and see a lot of her over the next months - as much as it takes. But I hope you see one thing: as your mom and I get older, please keep in touch. It will mean a lot to us, as it does to my mom.


On our last visit, it was one of the last times my mom was able to be in her home

Mom loves getting you cars - she loves her grandson

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Taking My Medicine

Dear JJ,

Right now you are in Canada with Gigi and Papa and soon Uncle Peter. It has been over a week since I saw you, but your mom sends me these nice photos of you enjoying your time in Cobourg. You have no idea how much joy it brings to see photos of your joy. But in all of that there is worry.

We had not made our will, but it brings to mind how life can be short and fickle. Nothing to worry about- but the joy that you have brought me is that you live in the moment. Your smile lights my heart, and if I ever want to feel better all I have to do is see that smile and my heart is light. 

You are having a great time - but I am so looking forward to seeing you again. Because your smile is like medicine for my heart - and I need to take my medicine.



Playing in the sand - we all need more mud

Is there a better place for a boy than a beach? 
That smile- I just breathe better seeing it

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The best four years

Dear JJ,

Four years ago I started smiling, and it has not stopped. I have enjoyed every stage of your life- from the first time I held your hand to watching you first read gate signs at the airport yesterday. 
Most dads think their children are smart -  but there are two parts of you that I really love:
You get a look in your eye when you are going to tease someone, and love to do that and you are very kind.  At play areas I see you helping smaller children, with care and gentleness. You have this genuine smile, and joy in your life. 
So as you grow and at times life will toss things and you may feel  badly, look back into that part of you - smile, be kind, joke with those you love and know that your life made this dad the happiest his life has ever been. 



Monday, July 7, 2014

I can't always be there

Dear JJ,

Today when your mom called me you were upset because mom didn't want you to lick the tomatoes in the grocery store. You did- and lost the cookie you were promised. You cried for daddy to help, but I just couldn't be there.

Life is like that. As much as I want everything to go well for you, and you to be happy - sometimes it just isn't going to happen.

On the other hand - that you like tomatoes is good taste!

Your first solo ride

Some rides were ok- some rides well, were amazing- you loved the Roller Coaster, Ferris Wheel, but not the Dragon

Always the coolest kid in the group

Mom is still the one you want to share the ride with - and you should,  she's pretty cool

Monday, June 16, 2014

Rod and Laura

Dear JJ,

Since you were born we have had two people who have been a part of your life.

Rod is a handyman who I've known for 20 years. I've operated on him, he has painted our house. I remember the day he got his liver transplant- he was at our house when he got the call.  He went from being on death's doorstep to having a life again - not without challenges, but he is doing great.

His wife Laura offered to clean the house a couple of days a week. When she would come you would follow her around and mop and clean and help her.  Besides your grandmother, Gigi, she was the first person we felt comfortable staying with you - babysitting.

Every trip Rod has taken us to the airport, dropped us off and hugged us goodbye.

Rod and Laura got new jobs today - so we won't be seeing them much anymore. Do you know what bothered me the most - that they have been a part of your life and they will be much less of it. People come and go in lives, son - for reasons that are beyond control.

So when you find great friends - enjoy the time you have with them, because in a wink of an eye circumstances will change - but cherish the memory.



Sunday, June 15, 2014

Fathers Day 2014

Dear JJ,

This is my third Father's Day!

Somehow this has become my favorite holiday. Not that I want gifts, because on this day I am reminded that almost four years ago I was given the greatest gift -becoming a dad.  It's my favorite title, it is the greatest club I have ever belonged to.

Today you are 42 inches tall and weigh 42 pounds - full of energy, and full of smiles. You love to tease your mom and me - and we can always tell, because you get this smile on your face and a twinkle in your eye. But every night I get to put you to bed you tell me you love me, and even though I want you to get to sleep, that just stops me in my tracks.

I don't have anything profound to say to you today son. Like my dad said - kids provide fountains of love.

And Happy Father's Day to my dad - here doing his duties when I was seven months old

My two favorite people:  you and your mom flying kits
You have become quite a reader - sometimes we are amazed that you can read
Three generations of Simpson Men - always moving
You have become quite a world traveler 
Our First Family Photo - July 20, 2010