Dear Jack: You’re Not Growing Up Way Too Fast

4 years, 8 months.

The Reason You’re Not Growing Up Too Fast

Dear Jack,

I’ve never felt that you are growing up too quickly. I think you’re growing up at exactly the right speed.

The metronome in my head works just fine as it measures at what rate you should graduate across the sliding scale of baby to boy.

Maybe a good reason I feel this way is that I’ve written at least one blog post and/or letter to or about you since before you were born. That’s more than 5 years now!

There are now hundreds of stories and pictures of your life story that I have preserved in time. (And they all can be retrieved by clicking on the Blog Archives tab on the left side of the screen.)

So maybe I am the exception to the rule of feeling my kid is growing up too fast. I never find myself missing any younger version of you. I have warm nostalgic thoughts about those days, but I don’t miss them.

Because I so appreciate who you are now.

You’re perfect. You’re exactly everything I could possibly hope for in a son.

You are a beautiful, intelligent, and creative young boy.

It is a gift each day that I get to see who you are becoming.

Maybe I’m being too pragmatic here, but if I really wanted to relive the “baby days”, I should focus getting you a brother or sister…

That seems like the best way to relive that time period, but at the same time be able to appreciate the nearly 5 year-old boy you are.

But no, you’re not growing up too quickly for me.

You’re my genius son who just entered his Lego creations into the upcoming county fair. But you’re also down-to-Earth enough that you fully appreciated the “pooping moose” key chain I brought back from Grand Rapids this week as a souvenir.

Love,

Daddy

j1

This is Not a Facebook Pregnancy Announcement, Just a Social Commentary about Them…

This is Not a Facebook Pregnancy Announcement, Just a Social Commentary about Them...

I want to be extremely clear. I am definitely, absolutely not (!) hinting at all that we are having another baby.

Just to be clear, there is not another baby on the way. I promise.

At least not one that I am aware of…

But I do admit, that having been in our new house for 6 months (as of next week) and having been debt-free for over 2 years now (other than our mortgage), life in the new house has created an environment in which having another baby can now be… considered.

It’s now a conversation that takes place. There’s now logic behind the reasoning, in my mind.

It wasn’t a conversation before. It wasn’t practical, then. But now that our son is nearly 5 years-old, the thought of expanding our family, in a 4 bedroom house as compared to our 2 bedroom townhouse, sounds less intimidating. At this point, unless we had twins, we wouldn’t have 2 babies or 2 really young children at the same time.

Instead, we would have a Kindergartner and a newborn.

That thought doesn’t terrify me.

I’m sure I could expand more on the why, but for now, I simply want to usher in the subject by acknowledging the culture behind announcing a pregnancy over Facebook.

These days, even if you’re just simply a casual Facebook user, there is still a social expectation that you’re supposed to do some kind of clever “Facebook pregnancy announcement” for everyone.

I created the meme above to demonstrate what I mean.

So now that that sort of thing is the norm, I feel like it’s part of the process of considering having another child.

You have to decide the boy and the girl name.

You have to decide how you want to prepare the baby’s room.

And you have to decide how to make a Facebook announcement, which is sure to get at least 75% of your Facebook friends to “like”.

This is Not a Facebook Pregnancy Announcement, Just a Social Commentary about Them...

I should close by once again making it clear I have no official announcement to make here.

The future holds possibilities because of where we are at in life now; whereas before, we weren’t ready.

If there is any kind of announcement at all, that would be it.

Well, actually, publicly realizing I am open to having another child is a pretty big deal- to me, at least.

Dear Jack: You Saved a Cricket, I Saved a Possum

4 years, 8 months. 

Dear Jack,

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Yesterday morning as I was driving you to school, you shared your thoughts with me:

“Daddy, if everybody was vegan and vegetarian, then the animals wouldn’t have to die.”

With a statement like that, an outsider might assume I brainwash you daily with those sorts of thoughts.

But that’s not how I believe in parenting you. I sincerely want you to come to your own conclusions, based on daily observations, regarding the reasons why our family doesn’t eat meat.

I don’t feed you information like this- I only explain it after you think to ask these questions on your own first.

Your epiphany was all your own crafting.

After all, you are truly an animal lover; or at least a stuffed animal lover. Between stuffed animals and Legos, you really don’t play with much else. Those are the things you spend your money on.

My response to your “animals don’t have to die” comment was this:

“Most people still believe that in order to get enough protein, they have to eat meat. But you and I are obvious proof that’s not the case. We’ve lived without meat for years. And we’re both very healthy; as our family doctor has recently confirmed. And that’s why I made that Green Meanie video about it last week.”

I carried our deep discussion with me to work. As I took my first 10 minute walk of the day during a break around 9:00 AM, in which I walked to the end of the cul-de-sac of where I work, I discovered a young possum in a cage trap.

By noon, it was still there, in the horrible summer heat. So I walked into that building and informed the lady at the front desk. She called the building manager, who freed the possum by the time I left work.

Apparently, foxes and possums have been getting into the dumpster behind that building.

But I’m no specist- I don’t care what kind of animal it is: a domesticated dog, a wild dog, or even a lowly scavenger possum…

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I don’t want to see any animal suffer. So I made sure the possum was freed.

When I came home from work, I was excited to share my “I saved a possum!” story with you.

You then shared your own story with me:

“Daddy! I saved a black cricket today. I saw it crawling on the floor in my class at school, so I picked it up and took it outside! And then after my nap, I got to feed our class pet frog two crickets!”

Yes, there is some certain irony in saving one cricket from being stepped on, yet feeding two other crickets to a frog; all in the same day.

Ultimately, you and I share a love to protecting animals.

But really, you rub off on me more than I do you, I think.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: You, As Green Meanie, Jr.

4 years, 8 months.

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Dear Jack,

This week on our YouTube channel we launched an official new program, The Green Meanie Show.

We will be resuming Jack-Man next weekend with a new webisode, #18, since your preschool has asked me to film another episode there. I don’t mind at all, since our last Jack-Man filmed there was the most popular one we’ve ever done; not to mention, the fast-growing one we’ve done, if that makes sense.

In other words, it hit 100 views in less than 24 hours.

But in the meantime, I’m creating some quicker content with my new spin-off; featuring Green Meanie as the host, with you playing his son, Green Meanie, Jr.

The Green Meanie Show contains its own original theme song and opening montage. Here are the lyrics:

“He is green, he is mean, he is Green Meanie the villain

He makes money from anyone and everyone who drinks his soda

But you should know that he tells his secrets

On The Green Meanie Show”

So far, we’ve done a Lego unboxing video together…

And I made a brief, educational video where Green Meanie explains the 3 “right ways” to eat a banana:

  1. Eat it brown (it contains more nutrients as it begins to ferment).
  2. Open it from the bottom, which helps prevent smashing it.
  3. Mix it smoothies and oatmeal to prevent “banana boredom.”

Then last night, after we made our 2nd Lego unboxing video (which I haven’t published yet), I let the camera roll as you declared a “pants party”.

You had a lot of fun!

I’ve got a trip to Grand Rapids, Michigan coming up soon. Scion (a division of Toyota) is sending me (or is it Green Meanie?) there to preview their newest car models.

Also, next week makes 6 months since we’ve lived in our new house. I guess I better put together something for that, featuring pictures of our house now that we’re definitely completely settled in.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: People and Animals and Life and Death and What Happens Next

4 years, 8 months.

IMG_0982 (2)

Dear Jack,

I wanted to document this day for you because I believe it’s important to document your spiritual journey.

This morning on the 5 minute drive to your preschool, you cautiously asked me, “Daddy, one day, will all the people and all the animals be dead?”

I definitely wasn’t expecting such a deep question from you so early in the morning.

The fact that you even asked me that question shows me that you are processing your understanding of what death really means.

I’ve been curious for a while regarding at what point I would have a conversation like that with you.

It appears your understanding of death is based on what you see on Power Rangers and Disney movies, since someone (usually a parent) dies on nearly every animated Disney movie I’ve ever seen.

I answered your question as simply yet as accurately as I knew how:

“Yes, that’s true. One day, all the people and the animals will be dead. But for those of us people who believe in God and in Jesus, His Son, and if we help other people, then we will live in Heaven together.”

It somehow seems out of place to summarize our religious beliefs into such a small amount of words, but you are already familiar with this from what you hear at home and at church. But you seemed to be satisfied to my simple answer for your difficult question.

For the next few minutes until we got to your school, you were silent as you stared at the window.

As I helped you out of your car seat, I saw you seemed disheartened, so I asked you if were okay.

You put your head down and began crying softly.

I assured you whatever what it was, that we could talk about it; assuming you were sad because, in your words, one day we will all be dead, including the animals.

You looked up to answer me, “I just want Pandy!”

We had discovered last night that you had left one of your favorite stuffed animals, Pandy, at school.

Once we found Pandy inside your classroom this morning, you were no longer sad.

In other words, Pandy is still alive!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Green Meanie’s Protein Conspiracy

4 years, 8 months. 

2015 Chevy Colorado Maxwell Air Force Base Road Trip

Dear Jack,

As of today, you are officially 4 years and 8 months old. At this point, you’re basically 5 as far as I’m concerned. But it’s not official until we’re celebrating in Destin, Florida; as we plan to do for your actual 5th birthday… still 4 months away.

This week I finally got to publish, “2015 Chevy Colorado Maxwell Air Force Base Road Trip,” which tells the whole story (with dozens of pictures and several custom videos I made) of us driving down to Montgomery to see your cousin Matt graduate boot camp and to celebrate your cousin Calla’s 4th birthday in Fort Payne, where I’m from.

2015 Chevy Colorado Maxwell Air Force Base Road Trip

(The pictures you see here are taken from that story.)

For the past several weeks, I’ve been sharing our newest Jack-Man webisodes with you in my letters.  (We’ve made 17 Jack-Man webisodes so far!) However, I’ve decided that you and I shall take a break from them for a while.

One reason is simply because it’s so hot outside right now. With my Green Meanie costume, it’s already hot enough, but then to be running around in the sun for an hour or more at a time with you… I say it’s just too much right now.

Another reason we’re taking a Jack-Man break for right now is to test out a theory: that perhaps I can get just as many hits on YouTube by playing as my Green Meanie character to make informative videos, which require much less editing on my part.

For example, each Jack-Man video is about 3 and a half minutes long, but requires at least one hour of editing for each of those minutes.

But I can shoot a Green Meanie video in about 3 minutes and it only takes 20 minutes to edit.

Therefore, I’ve now published 3 of these Green Meanie videos in the past week. First I did one where Green Meanie shares his “Vegan Protein Smoothie” with everyone by demonstrating with a blender.

Then yesterday I made one where Green Meanie explains what he calls “The Protein Conspiracy.” He points out that most Americans believe we are in serious danger of not consuming enough protein, when in reality, we’re consuming too much protein, which leads to cancer and disease.

He goes on to point out that, ironically, most people assume vegans (like Green Meanie) don’t get enough protein. Green Meanie responds by using himself as a living, human experiment.

Since he hasn’t consumed any meat, dairy, or eggs in over 2 years (and no meat a year before that), he in theory should be just skin and bones; lacking so much protein.

Green Meanie then simply explains the 6 sources of his daily protein:

Veggies, fruit, grains, beans, nuts, and seeds.

So we’ll see how the free market accepts my Green Meanie character’s videos. You never know what might happen as a resort of something so silly yet deliberately educational and entertaining…

Love,

Daddy

P.S.

At the same time, I am very excited that last week, Health & Medicine Magazine reached out to me regarding my “Vegan Life” page here on Family Friendly Daddy Blog.

They have offered me a one-page space in theirmagazine, where I can share my thoughts, recipes, experience, photos and the most popular posts I have.

Health & Medicine Magazine is a high quality healthy lifestyle print publication that will be distributed free of charge for our readers throughout Florida. They wish to inspire many more people to join the healthy life and are working on securing funding via the Kickstarter platform.

In Florida, there are not such healthy free publications. So Health & Medicine Magazine plans to fill that void with their beautiful, quality publication promoting healthy lifestyle (fitness, yoga, healthy food, actual trends in health, nutrition, beauty etc).

Their magazine is completely free of charge to its readers.

Anyone can visit their Kickstarter page to catch a glimpse of what their magazine looks like and is all about: http://kck.st/1SZZqgm

Happify’s New Infographic: What You Watch This Summer Can Make You Happier

When it comes to TV time, our family is very deliberate when it comes to setting boundaries.

For example, when we first moved into our new house nearly 6 months ago, I made sure we set aside our downstairs living room as a sanctuary free from a TV set; that we established our main common room void of that infamous conversation killer. We have to deliberately go upstairs if we want to watch something.

This week I came across this new infographic on Happify, a website and app which is dedicated to building happiness skills through scientifically designed activities and games.

The infographic is called “What You Watch This Summer Can Make You Happier.” I love the way it scientically explains what actually makes us happy.

Enjoy!

Happify's New Infographic: What You Watch This Summer Can Make You Happier