Dear Jack: Your Very 1st Transformer/We’ve Now Moved Out Of Our Townhome

4 years.

Dear Jack: Your Very 1st Transformer/We’ve Now Moved Out Of Our Townhome

Dear Jack,

Back in August, while reviewing the 2015 Cadillac Escalade on a road trip back to Nonna and Papa’s house, I let you inherit one of my old Transformers from 1985; his name is Blitzwing.

Turns out, I was 4 years old back in 1985, and you just turned 4 a few weeks ago. It was simply inevitable you would spend some of your birthday money on your very own Transformer.

It sweetened the deal that in addition to receiving a gift card to Toys “R” Us, the store also sent you a $5 off coupon. A few days before the purchase, I even used my lunch break to make sure they had in stock the one you wanted…

Dear Jack: Your Very 1st Transformer/We’ve Now Moved Out Of Our Townhome

So after a weekend of you diligently helping Mommy and I finalize moving the rest of our stuff out of our townhome and moving it into storage, and spending our last night in our townhome this past weekend, we decided to let you buy your very first Transformer.

Dear Jack: Your Very 1st Transformer/We’ve Now Moved Out Of Our Townhome

For weeks now, you’ve had your eye on a blue and green Dinobot named Slash.

Immediately once we walked into the Transformer aisle at Toys “R” Us, you screamed, “That’s him!”

Dear Jack: Your Very 1st Transformer/We’ve Now Moved Out Of Our Townhome

I happened to notice they had a reissue of Blitzwing (the one I gave you from my childhood), as well as Bumblebee, who you also are crazy about.

Dear Jack: Your Very 1st Transformer/We’ve Now Moved Out Of Our Townhome

But you didn’t flinch, Slash the Dinobot it was!

You practiced transforming him all the next day, even in the dark. By the next day at school, you were able to instantly transform Slash for your teacher Ms. Michelle.

I was also proud of you for so willingly sharing him with your friends at school. I could tell you were happy to show him off.

Dear Jack: Your Very 1st Transformer/We’ve Now Moved Out Of Our Townhome

Something tells me this is the first of many Transformers to come. After all, this is your 1985; the year that Transformers became extremely relevant for me.

Now, as for our family moving out of our townhome, and why so quickly, I’ve got more to tell you, but not today.

Dear Jack: Your Very 1st Transformer/We’ve Now Moved Out Of Our Townhome

Maybe next week…

Love,

Daddy

Disney’s Big Hero 6: Family Friendly Review (Please Take Your Son To See It!)

Disney's Big Hero 6: Family Friendly Review (Please Take Your Son To See It!)

Without making my message seem illegitimate by using too many exclamation points and phrases in italics, I would like to communicate that I feel very passionate about this movie. I very strongly advise you to take your young son to see this movie immediately.

Yes, immediately…

My fear is that this movie will fly under the radar. I’m not hearing enough people talk about it and that bothers me. No pictures of little boys proudly posing with their parents in front of the movie poster. That’s a problem.

Disney's Big Hero 6: Family Friendly Review (Please Take Your Son To See It!)

Therefore, I am eager to do my part to urge parents of young boys to go see Big Hero 6 while it is still in theatres; not wait until it hits Redbox.

It’s absolutely worth paying money to see in a theatre; it’s like watching a mesmerizing video game that was turned into a cartoon movie.

And if you’re not as cheap as I am, I would say the 3D version would also be worth the while.

I especially ask you to take your young son to see this movie if, like mine, he is particularly mechanically-minded. If your son’s favorite Ninja Turtle is Donatello, the one who “does machines” according to the classic theme song, then Big Hero 6 is his movie.

If your son easily spends hours at a time crafting his own impressive Lego creations that  you yourself could not even imitate, then Big Hero 6 is his movie.

If your son can transform his Transformers in less than half the time you could (and that’s with much practice on your end) then then Big Hero 6 is his movie.

This Disney/Marvel sci-fi/action/super hero/comedy film follows a 14 year-old protagonist named Hiro Hamada (a Japanese-American) living in a futuristic, more Japanese version of San Francisco, called San Fransokyo.

Like most Disney movies, Hiro’s parents both die when he is very young. He is left to live with his aunt; as well as his older brother, who creates a health care companion robot named Baymax, designed to restore the health of the human beings it encounters.

Disney's Big Hero 6: Family Friendly Review (Please Take Your Son To See It!)r

When Baymax realizes this his new young friend, the protagonist Hiro, has become withdrawn from society after, in addition to losing his parents, now loses his older brother, he tries to “heal” the boy.

The level of drama is this particularly high in Big Hero 6. However, the writers were able to seamlessly intertwine this intense theme of “love and loss” into a beautiful masterpiece.

In essence, Big Hero 6 is the Disney boys’ equivalent to Frozen. (It’s not a musical; though it does feature a really cool song by Fall Out Boy.)

I’ve mentioned before that I couldn’t get past the fact that the parents were the true villain in Frozen. Had the parents in Frozen, not being insane, essentially locking up their daughters in their bedrooms for all of their childhood, none of that mess would have ever happened.

However, the plotline of Big Hero 6, while a complete fantasy, is much more viable than Frozen was.

Regarding the “family friendliness” of Big Hero 6, it is ultimately rated PG for intense themes and mild violence.

Here are a few examples of what I mean.

As far as language, there are some phrases I wouldn’t want my 4 year-old son to say, like oh my gosh, what the…? (left unfinished, but implying a potential curse word), darn, and 2 uses of the phrase shut up, but in a sense of “I can’t believe that!”, not “be quiet!”.

You might assume this boy-targeted Disney movie relies on fart jokes for laughs, but that is definitely not the case. Much of the humor is based on the fact that Hiro and his self-proclaimed “nerdy” friends awkwardly transition into unlikely superheroes.

Disney's Big Hero 6: Family Friendly Review (Please Take Your Son To See It!)

There are no sexually suggestive characters or costumes, nor sexual innuendos either.

However, there are a few references to Hiro (the 14 year-old boy who serves as the protagonist) going through changes as he begins puberty.

The robot tries to explain where hair will begin growing on this boy’s body, by showing him a diagram, but Hiro cuts him off right before he getsthat particular region.

Yet I have no reservations about my son being exposed to any of this.

I actually felt it added to the “family relevance” of this movie. I laughed more because of this, yet I wasn’t embarrassed to watch in front of my 4 year-old son, nor would it if it were 10 years from now; part of my role as his dad is to help usher him into the confusing world of puberty.

BIG HERO 6

Yes, there is peril (danger and mild violence) but no guns are involved. It’s mainly martial arts.

There is only one human death near the beginning of the film, in which a major character (I won’t ruin it for you) is killed by walking into a building that soon explodes.

Other than that, hundreds of micro-robots are destroyed amidst the combat of the good guys and the bad guys… The tiny pellet-shaped robots can take on the form of anything to become a weapon.

big-hero-six-nouveaux-hero-poster

My son, who wasn’t trying to be funny at the time when he said this, explained to his Mommy when we got home:

“The bad guy wears a mask and has poop that follows him around.” End quote.

On top of all this, Big Hero 6 contains undeniable Christian themes. I feel that even for me as a grown man, the movie helps answer the question, “Why does God let bad things happen to good people?”

The movie also teaches the importance actively choosing forgiveness over vengeance.

In closing, I strongly endorse Big Hero 6, and if it were up to me, you would take your son to see it this Thanksgiving weekend.

If you have any questions about this movie, I would be more than happy to respond. Thanks for reading my family friendly review of Disney’s Big Hero 6!

Feast, The Animated Short That Plays Before Big Hero 6: Family Friendly Review

Feast, The Animated Short That Plays Before Big Hero 6: Family Friendly Review

Right before the magnificent movie Big Hero 6 begins, there is an animated short called Feast.

It was so good that I wish it was its own 90 minute movie.

Here’s a preview…

The animation style is clever and unique, as the camera points to the floor, where a man offers a stray puppy a French fry, which leads to the man adopting the dog and naming him Winston. From there, the owner makes a habit of giving Winston table scraps on top of his bowl of dry dog food.

Over the months, this lucky dog enjoys quite the daily feast. One fateful day, his owner even takes him to a restaurant to dine together!

Feast, The Animated Short That Plays Before Big Hero 6: Family Friendly Review

His owner eventually meets the woman who soon becomes his girlfriend.

All the time, the camera avoids showing the humans’ upper halves; it’s pretty much a dog’s eye view the whole time.

The plotline thickens as the new girlfriend begins consuming his owner’s attention; therefore, gone are the days on feasting off table scraps.

Not only does the dog lose his feasting privileges in the process, but he becomes lonely for the first time in his life.

Quality time and gifts (food) were how the owner showed his love for Winston; but the new girlfriend changed all that.

Until the day his owner and the girlfriend broke up.

Feast, The Animated Short That Plays Before Big Hero 6: Family Friendly Review

Back came the tables scraps, as the dog’s owner essentially becomes a glutton as he tries to get over the break up.

While Winston greatly appreciates the gourmet meals again, he can clearly see his owner his not happy.

Without a happy owner, the dog realizes he can’t truly enjoy the table scraps.

I won’t give away the ending, but Winston leads his owner back to the restaurant where the now ex-girlfriend works…

Feast, The Animated Short That Plays Before Big Hero 6: Family Friendly Review

Again, all this is done from an under the table dog’s eye view. Not to mention, few words are actually ever spoken. They are mostly unnecessary for this beautiful little romantic comedy in which the dog is the protagonist.

My wish is that Disney would make this mini-movie into a full-length 90 minute feature film. I think the concept is big enough to work.

So, Disney, what do you say?

P.S. I now invite you to read my family friendly review of Big Hero 6!

2014 Scion FR-S (Toyota 86/Subaru BRZ) Review: How To Shift In Reverse/Size Of Back Seat

2014 Scion FR-S: How To Shift In Reverse/Size Of Back Seat/Toyota Subaru Engine

A few weeks ago in preparation for my son’s upcoming 4th birthday, I requested to review “something special” for him. Therefore, a 2014 Scion FR-S was delivered to my home for me to review the week of his birthday.

I explained to my son, “This is Lightning McQueen.”

It really does look like the character from Disney’s Cars, doesn’t it?

Obviously, this is a very sporty, sharp looking car. There is no denying that.

2014 Scion FR-S: How To Shift In Reverse/Size Of Back Seat/Toyota Subaru Engine

And to make sure I got the full experience on this sports car, I asked for the manual transmission.

Let’s talk about that…

I’ve driven a stick shift since I was 15 and the Reverse gear has always been the bottom right section.

Not with the Scion FR-S, which is also known as the Subaru BRZ and/or the Toyota 86, depending on which part of the world you are in; more on that in a minute…

2014 Scion FR-S: How To Shift In Reverse/Size Of Back Seat/Toyota Subaru Engine

It actually required some research to figure out how to use this apparently European style of a gear shifter. I noticed there was a lack of information on the Internet and even YouTube on how to shift the gears.

The main problem I was having was simply getting the car into Reverse.

Here’s the trick, as demonstrated in the video I made for you:

You have to pull up on the “ring” of the shifter before it will allow you to move the shifter left into the Reverse gear.

Once you move the shifter into 1st Gear from there, you will probably feel a slight vibration, sort of like a “triple click” so that you know you’re in 1st gear, not 3rd.

That’s something else that may take some getting used to: the gears are not so much in the tradition squared “U” formation. They are more of a “V”; very tight.

Again, this all takes some getting used to. It might literally require driving around the block a time or two, literally.

2014 Scion FR-S: How To Shift In Reverse/Size Of Back Seat/Toyota Subaru Engine

I suppose that’s sort of the qualifier for the manual transmission version of the Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ/Toyota 86:

You have to be pretty confident in your abilities to drive a stick shift to enjoy it. I feel this car is designed for that corner of the market that is still passionate about driving a stick. After all, if you’re like me, you probably see the ability of driving a stick shift as a lost art.

This car is not for most people, which is probably why you don’t see an abundance of them at Toyota/Scion dealerships. Chances are, if you’ve made it this far in to my review, you’re part of that demographic that the Scion FR-S is intended for.

If you’re curious about the size of the back seat, you came to the right place. I rode in it for about 4 miles round trip to and from the storage facility (we’re moving across town); with my dad driving and my wife up front.

2014 Scion FR-S: How To Shift In Reverse/Size Of Back Seat/Toyota Subaru Engine

I am 5’9” and 143 pounds. Sitting back in the seat, the top of my head was against the back windshield. Sitting straight up, my head cleared the ceiling by a half an inch.

As long as my knees weren’t together, leg room wasn’t an issue. I sort of have to straddle the front passenger seat; which was not pushed fully back; only about half the way.

And here’s a video I made on on that too:

A child will easily fit back there, given that your wife is okay with it…

2014 Scion FR-S: How To Shift In Reverse/Size Of Back Seat/Toyota Subaru Engine

Adults my size or smaller shouldn’t have too much of an issue for shorter trips. Granted, I don’t think anyone is expecting a “road trip worthy” back seat from the Scion FR-S.

After all, it’s a 2 door sports car. However, it does indeed have 4 seats and 4 seatbelts should the occasion arise.

2014 Scion FR-S: How To Shift In Reverse/Size Of Back Seat/Toyota Subaru Engine

Lastly, I want to point out the obscure fact that the motor for the Scion FR-S is made by both Toyota and Subaru!

If you’re familiar at all with Scion, you know they are the sportier, younger sister of Toyota.

So I wasn’t surprised to see a Toyota engine in it, but I definitely was surprised to see the Subaru name. Check out my video on that now:

2014 Scion FR-S: How To Shift In Reverse/Size Of Back Seat/Toyota Subaru Engine

Apparently, overseas, Toyota and Subaru team up for special projects; unlike here in America, where it appears those two companies are competitors.

Notice the “86” emblem on the sides of the car. I suppose that’s a sort of “Easter Egg” that points to the fact that outside of America, this vehicle would be a Toyota 86, or a Subaru BRZ.

2014 Scion FR-S: How To Shift In Reverse/Size Of Back Seat/Toyota Subaru Engine

As you can see from the dashboard display, I was averaging over 28 miles a gallon in this $25,000 sports car.

I get a free tank of gas with each car I review, and sadly, I didn’t even get through the first quarter tank. I could have easily spent another week driving this one!

2014 Scion FR-S: How To Shift In Reverse/Size Of Back Seat/Toyota Subaru Engine

At least my brother-in-law and I got a chance to take it out for a spin down Broadway in Nashville late Saturday night.

I’m all for answering any questions you have about the Scion FR-S. I really do feel there’s a lack of information on the Internet about this car, so I’m hoping to change that.

Thanks for reading!

Dear Jack: Dressing Yourself As A Super Hero To Open Your Gifts From Family

4 years. 

Dear Jack: Dressing Yourself As A Super Hero To Open Your Gifts From Family

Dear Jack,

A week ago was your actual 4th birthday, though your birthday party with your friends was the day before on Saturday.

That meant you had already opened your presents from your friends by the time Mommy and I let you open your gifts from us the next morning at our house.

Dear Jack: Dressing Yourself As A Super Hero To Open Your Gifts From Family

Sort of half-jokingly, I suggested that before you got started opening our gifts to you, that you should dress up in the super hero costume that your friend Madison had given you. (We actually let you open your gifts in front of your friends at your party; even though that’s nearly considered weird these days!)

Dear Jack: We Actually Let You Open Your Presents At Your Birthday Party

You didn’t hesitate.

To make things even better, you happened to already be wearing your Batman pajamas, which had served as your Halloween costume just a few weeks ago.

Dear Jack: Dressing Yourself As A Super Hero To Open Your Gifts From Family

So by the time you put on your costume, it apparently made you Super Captain Batman Jack!

It’s like you honestly believed that the red cape made you fun faster, because you were trying it out right, getting into super hero character before you sat down to open your presents.

Dear Jack: Dressing Yourself As A Super Hero To Open Your Gifts From Family

I want to be clear, you did not remove one item of the costume the entire time, including the mask.

Even if you never wear the costume again, which after seeing this, I’m pretty sure you will, it was worth Madison picking out this outfit for you just for this event alone.

Dear Jack: Dressing Yourself As A Super Hero To Open Your Gifts From Family

It was a relevant gift for more than one reason. Turns out, one of the gifts Mommy and I got for you was a Spiderman sleeping bag.

Dear Jack: Dressing Yourself As A Super Hero To Open Your Gifts From Family

Not only have you been using it to sleep on this week, given that everything is moved out of our house now since we’re moving out to live with some friends as our new house is being built, but I also envision your new Spiderman sleeping bag to be what you sleep on when we “go camping” in our backyard of our new house next summer.

Dear Jack: Dressing Yourself As A Super Hero To Open Your Gifts From Family

And fortunately, your mechanically-minded Uncle Andew was there to help put together a Techno Gears Marble Mania Quest maze; it took him only 2 hours, whereas the box warned it would take 3 to 4!

You provided great entertainment for our family as you opened your “Mommy and Daddy” presents. You really did make the best Super Captain Batman Jack that I have ever seen!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: We Actually Let You Open Your Presents At Your Birthday Party

4 years.

Dear Jack: We Actually Let You Open Your Presents At Your Birthday Party

Dear Jack,

These days, it’s apparently become the standard not to open your presents at birthday parties; especially if it’s in a rented facility and especially in a bigger city.

Dear Jack: We Actually Let You Open Your Presents At Your Birthday Party

I figure part of it is a time restraint issue for the 2 hour time limit… and then perhaps part of it is a new cultural take on it; that it’s somehow rude or showy for your child to open his presents in front of all the other kids and their parents.

So naturally, I assumed that’s how we were supposed to do it too, at your 4th birthday party last weekend- to refrain from opening gifts during the party; this was your first birthday party you’ve had that hasn’t taken place at our house.

Dear Jack: We Actually Let You Open Your Presents At Your Birthday Party

However, around the middle of your party, some of your friends began asking when you would be opening their gift.

Having eaten the cake and snacks 45 minutes into the 2 hour time slot, it still allowed for plenty of time before and after the food, so that there was still a solid 20 minutes remaining for opening gifts.

Dear Jack: We Actually Let You Open Your Presents At Your Birthday Party

So… even if it may have been breaking the rules or social taboo or something, Mommy and I let you open your gifts in front of your friends!

And I am so glad we did! I am so glad it worked out that way.

Dear Jack: We Actually Let You Open Your Presents At Your Birthday Party

I was sort of sitting in the middle of all your friends as I was taking pictures and I saw the look of excitement as each of them gradually realized that their gift was in your hands and about to be opened.

Some friends even stood right next to you or behind you to get the equivalent of a backstage pass.

Dear Jack: We Actually Let You Open Your Presents At Your Birthday Party

Granted, there were only about a dozen kids there, so it didn’t take all that long; maybe 15 minutes to open all the presents. And of course you helped hand out the party favor bags with the crayon Lego men we made.

I am now convinced: Opening the presents at the party is the way to go! The party attendees demanded it and were happy to see it happen.

Not to mention, you were happy to oblige!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: We Actually Let You Open Your Presents At Your Birthday Party

Dear Jack: Sometimes I Can Even Be Your Nurturer

4 years.

Dear Jack,

Dear Jack: Sometimes I Can Even Be Your Nurturer

Today during lunchtime, the parents were invited up for a special sort of pre-Thanksgiving at your school.

It’s interesting to see how your personality transforms when I show up to school to visit, as opposed to dropping you off or picking you off.

You got sort of giggly, yet quiet; like you were confused on how to act in front of both your teachers and me. You knew how to interact with your friends, but my presence was definitely throwing you off.

How do you balance your interaction with more than one role of authority between two different environments? I can imagine that sense of displacement.

After a few minutes once you had finished your lunch, you discovered what made you feel comfortable- sitting in my lap while I squeezed you tightly.

You didn’t want to talk or play; just let me hold you as we watched your friends interact with their parents.

Eventually, we started taking goofy pictures of ourselves. That really made you feel more like yourself.

father and son selfies

After about 30 minutes or so before it was time for your nap and time for me to leave.

It’s funny because I’m the one to say the final good-night to you at home and it’s a pretty quick process.

But today at school, you kept asking me to hug you and kiss you again and again as I was leaving. That’s not typical of you.

I got to see this really, really sweet side of you that apparently is reserved for Mommy, I suppose.

Granted, you’re a sweet boy anyway. It’s just that usually I’m the one to play rough with you and I’m by default the main disciplinarian figure in your life.

Tonight as Mommy and I were putting you to bed, you told Mommy, “Today when Daddy left, I was sad… because Daddy had to go.”

Somewhat ironically, it makes me feel good that you were sad when I had to leave.

It’s confirmation that you know you can see me as a nurturer anytime you really need to. But as for most of the time, I am your fearless leader.