Unboxing Of Annie’s “Grass Fed” Surprise Package

Last night as I got back from Jacksonville for Toyota’s “Family Reunion Preview”, I noticed there was a box waiting there for me at the door.

I have been expecting a book that I will be reviewing about managing time as a family in the age of smart phones, so I thought that’s what it was. However, this box was bigger and heavier than a box for a paperback should be.

So after using my knife to cut open the box, I found a letter from Annie’s Homegrown. Plus, I felt something sort of cold, and moist, and alive, with the tips of my fingers.

My wife suggested that she film me opening the box; after all, people apparently love “unboxings” these days.

And that’s exactly what happened. What you see in the video below is completely unscripted, unplanned, and unpracticed:

As you can see from this unboxing video, Annie’s sent my son 2 boxes of their new “grass fed, organic, non-GMO” mac and cheese along with a really cool wooden plant holder with live grass to celebrate their new grass fed mac and cheese.

Like I said in the unboxing video, I accept their grass plant as an early housewarming gift; as we are scheduled to close on our new house on January 29th, with our townhouse currently on the market as of this week.

Something I am quick to point out is that I strictly only feature brands and products I believe in.

Unboxing Of Annie’s “Grass Fed” Surprise

Just in the past month, I’ve turned down about $450 in gift cards because between 3 different companies all reaching out to me, wanting me to promote their products on Family Friendly Daddy Blog. However, their products include high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors and dyes, and were obviously not organic or non-GMO.

With that being said, I’ve always proudly believed in Annie’s Homegrown. It’s hard to argue with that non-GMO label on their boxes.

I’m happy for Annie’s and I’m happy to see them growing as a company, finding larger distribution.

Thanks to Annie’s for helping me be able to spread the good word about food without GMO’s and artificial junk!

Dear Jack: There’s Nothin’ Like Riding Through A Tunnel In The Car

3 years, 10 months.

Dear Jack: There’s Nothin’ Like Riding Through A Tunnel In The Car

Dear Jack,

Looking back, one of my favorite parts about family road trips, as a kid, was getting to ride through a tunnel in the car.

When on a family road trip, you just never know when one might pop up.

Of course, driving through one was always a little bit scary. There was that idea in my subconscious that we would never come out the other end; that we would not indeed “see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

As I got older, I was happy when my own dad would beep the horn so that it eerily echoed. Likewise, other drivers would do the same; creating this underground, non-aggressive, horn-honking orchestra conducted by random strangers.

I would also try to hold my breath for the entire duration of being in the tunnel; which was always a gamble, not knowing how long the tunnel would be.

You’re not there yet.

Dear Jack: There’s Nothin’ Like Riding Through A Tunnel In The Car

This past weekend on our fall road trip from Nashville to Asheville, as we reviewed the 4G capabilities of the 2015 Buick LaCrosse, we encountered one of those glorious tunnels somewhere between the North Carolina state line coming from Nashville headed towards Asheville.

Mommy cheered as the tunnel sort of appeared out of nowhere. Then I did my best to add to the theatrics of it, by pretending to be the voice of a monster, like I did with the “Apple Monster.”

However, you weren’t that impressed. Not to mention, you weren’t even the least bit afraid of the tunnel.

Actually, I think Mommy and I were more excited about driving through the tunnel than you were.

Just to be sure, Mommy and I demonstrated the same excitement as we headed back home, going through it a 2nd time.

Oh well, we’ll keep trying to impress you with our theatrics.

Love,

Daddy

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Dear Jack: Our Visit To The Ghost And Skeleton Museum

3 years, 10 months.

Our Visit To The Ghost And Skeleton Museum

Dear Jack,

Since your Uncle Andrew introduced you to it, you’ve been requesting to watch “Too Spooky For Me” on YouTube:

As I just mentioned in Part Of My Job Is To Scare You, I explained how you actually enjoy me scaring you, as you hold on tightly to me for reinforcement of the fact that I’m here to protect you.

Well, last Thursday on the way to school, you announced, “Daddy, I want to go to a ghost and skeleton museum.”

I didn’t, and still don’t, actually know what you were asking of me. However, I’m your Daddy and it’s my job to provide; or at least, attempt to provide for your requests.

Hey, I like a challenge. I can be creative.

So this past weekend on our fall road trip from Nashville to Asheville, as we reviewed the 4G capabilities of the 2015 Buick LaCrosse, we visited one of those “big tent holiday stores” in the parking lot of the Asheville mall across from the new Whole Foods.

Our Visit To The Ghost And Skeleton Museum

You and I went in together first, while Mommy was in the Ulta (some female store I’ve never heard of) as she used a gift card she had received for her birthday.

Then, once Mommy was finished, you asked to go back, this time as a family. It was important to you that Mommy got to see it too!

In theory, you were slightly terrified on the automated people and monsters. But that’s how committed you were to your request to visit a “ghost and skeleton” museum.

You never sincerely wanted to leave the tent; it was as if you needed to prove to yourself weren’t too scared to be there.

Since our visit, you have enjoyed impersonating the “old man trying to go potty” as seen when we first walked in; you can see it in this video:

On the way back to Nashville I asked you if you liked the “ghost and skeleton” museum.

Your confusing response was this: “Daddy, that wasn’t a ghost and skeleton museum! I wanted to see a skeleton of a ghost!

Yeah, I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean.

Love,

Daddy

P.S. Stay tuned for There’s Nothin’ Like Riding Through A Tunnel In The Car, the sequel to this story…

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Dear Jack: Part Of My Job Is To Scare You

3 years, 10 months.

2015 Buick LaCrosse Asheville,NC

Dear Jack,

I think I’ve said before, but as your Daddy, Halloween is one my favorite times of the year. Getting to see you dress up and have fun “seeing monsters” is really cool for me to get to experience with you.

Part of my job and my role as your Daddy is to reinforce the fact that I’m here to protect you. So even when I lead you to a situation where you are afraid, you know that I’m right there to keep you safe.

Granted, I would never scare you to the point of you authentically crying and having nightmares. Instead, I carefully gage your response to the situation…

This past weekend on our fall road trip from Nashville to Asheville, as we reviewed the 4G capabilities of the 2015 Buick LaCrosse, we visited avery foggy (!) apple orchard near Asheville, NC.

I carried you most of the time, and as we walked through the misty orchard, I kept pretending to be the voice of an “apple monster” who was angry that you were there to “take my apples.”

With your hood up on your hoodie, I whispered into your ear, “Jaaaaaaaack… don’t take my apples… go back to the hotel, Jack. I’m the Apple Monster.”

Looking back on this short video of the event, I can see your childlike faith causing you to wonder if you truly were hearing an Apple Monster.

The paradox is that at the same time, you knew it was just me; especially for the fact I was holding you.

Another illustration of this is the fact you kept asking to play “Hide and Seek” in the hotel room.

father and son Asheville, NC

You would stand on the air conditioning unit while looking out the window as you counted; meanwhile, I would hide on the other end of the suite.

I love your adventurous spirit, as you can see in this video, how you so joyfully run to go find me, knowing I’m just going to literally jump out and scare you! (I was standing on top of the couch.)

Yes, I scare you. But I know you love it. You indeed crave that from me. So I give you these “bravery lessons” accordingly.

Love,

Daddy

P.S. “Turn the page” by clicking on Our Visit To The Ghost And Skeleton Museum to read the sequel to this story…

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Dear Jack: Your Drawing Of A Freak Wearing A Backpack

3 years, 10 months.

Your Drawing Of A Freak Wearing A Backpack

Dear Jack,

This past weekend on our fall road trip from Nashville to Asheville, as we reviewed the 4G capabilities of the 2015 Buick LaCrosse, you passed some of the time by drawing pictures in the back seat with Mommy.

I was focused on the road, but peripherally I heard you say, “Look Mommy, I drew a picture of a freak… wearing a backpack!”

Sure enough, you did.

Your picture of the “freak wearing a backpack” actually reminded me of those creatures from Spy Vs. Spy in Mad magazine; or the Yoyo the dodo bird from Looney Tunes.

Mommy and I questioned you on where you heard the word “freak.” We assumed you heard it at school or even by watching an episode of Spongebob Squarepants in the hotel when you first woke up.

You told us you just made up the word. I believe you. It’s not the first time you’ve made up a word; it’s just that this particular word actually made sense in context.

 

When I asked you what a freak is, you casually responded, “It’s just a kind of monster, Daddy.”

White Spy Black Spy

Fair enough. Makes sense to me. And though I’m not sure what the significance is in him wearing a backpack, but I like it.

I adore your art. You should know that by the fact I’ve got a folder named “Jack’s Art” on the Facebook page for Family Friendly Daddy Blog.

And your Freak Wearing A Backpack is a prime example of why I appreciate what you do.

I love the way you are so specific to whatever you are creating, with such passion and concern, and that your art projects are typically something so randomly themed.

Freak Wearing A Backpack almost sounds like it could easily be the name of an actual work of art on display in a museum in New York City or something.

Yoyo Dodo_(1)

The “freak” is wearing a backpack. I’m just taking that in right now.

That’s awesome.

Love,

Daddy

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Dairy And Egg Free Testimonials: Nick Shell- A Year And A Half Later

Hi, I am Nick Shell, the creator of Dairy And Egg Free Testimonials, and this is the update to my story.

By now, you’ve probably read some testimonials of my converts: both Ben Wilder (6 months) and James Hardy (1 month).

But of course, I myself took the “48 Hour Dairy And Egg Free Challenge” a year and half ago… and I’m obviously still committed.

Dairy And Egg Free Testimonials: Nick Shell- A Year And A Half Later

Like the other guys who I have featured here on Family Friendly Daddy Blog, I decided to take the challenge to find out if it were true that by eliminating dairy and eggs for just 48 hours, my sinus and allergies would noticeably improve.

Well, here I am, a year and a half into the 48 hour challenge with no dairy and eggs. I haven’t been sick once since then, nor have I suffered from sinus pressure, nor have I produced sinus congestion. Period.

It’s not a coincidence, considering before the switch I suffered from 22 years of ongoing sinusitis, sinus pressure, and allergies to pets. Obviously, all those problems went away and have stayed away for the past 18 months.

Dairy And Egg Free Testimonials: Nick Shell- A Year And A Half Later

But I also want to address another issue. For more than a year before I went “dairy and egg free” back in April 2013, I had already been a vegetarian.

What I am telling you is that for nearly 3 years, I have not eaten any meat, including fish. And for the past year and a half, no dairy or eggs.

I just want to serve as physical evidence that if a person focuses on the right nutritious food groups (veggies, fruit, grains, beans, nuts, seeds), they don’t have to rely on animal products to be healthy.

Dairy And Egg Free Testimonials: Nick Shell- A Year And A Half Later

At age 27 in 2008, the year I got married, I maxed out at around 178 pounds, which took its toll on me, being 5’9”. That extra “beefiness” also came with “medically incurable” eczema (specifically called “dyshodrosis, which covered both my hands; plus acne, and again, constant allergy and sinus issues.

It wasn’t until in hindsight that I could actually see the change in the mirror and in pictures of myself. I just assumed it was a “bad camera angle” that I looked heavier.

Dairy And Egg Free Testimonials: Nick Shell- A Year And A Half Later

In desperation, I prayed to God to just show me what I needed to do and I would do it; that I would gladly serve as a spokesman to help others if I could just be cured on my haunting eczema (dyshodrosis).

That prayer led to a journey a few years long, in which I was gradually shown that becoming a vegan would be that cure I was so desperate for.

Dairy And Egg Free Testimonials: Nick Shell- A Year And A Half Later

I didn’t do it “cold turkey” (bad pun)… it was a gradual process.

On Thanksgiving Day 2008, I went kosher- meaning I stopped eating pork and shellfish. By December 2011, I had sort of accidentally become a vegetarian. Then of course in April 2013, I became vegan. (Not to mention, 6 months later in September 2013 I permanently gave up caffeine.)

Now at age 33, I am consistently around 142 pounds and have been since I went dairy and egg free 18 months ago.

Dairy And Egg Free Testimonials: Nick Shell- A Year And A Half Later

I went from a size large shirt to a medium; from a size 34 waist to a very comfortable 31. But it’s not about the weight I’ve lost, it’s about the medical issues I lost when I lost that weight.

Yes, I do exercise too- but I don’t work out in a gym. I take at least two 10 minute walks each other, mountain bike during my lunch break, and try to run 2 miles at least once a week.

And I’m healthy. I’m not sick. I’m not hungry. I’m not weak. I don’t feel light-headed.

I have more energy than I did before all these changes. And I get plenty of protein and nutrition from veggies, fruit, grains, beans, nuts, seeds.

Dairy And Egg Free Testimonials: Nick Shell- A Year And A Half Later

Being fully vegan means you consume no cholesterol. Yes, there is a microscopic amount in the fats found in plants, like nuts and seeds, for example.

But it’s not even enough to register as even 1% of your daily intake. Compare that to the daily percentage in just one medium chicken egg; around 62%.

Again, that’s 62% for just one egg!

I’m happy. Why would I ever go back now?

Becoming a vegan, or simply cutting out dairy and eggs, isn’t for everyone. But for anyone who is curious about heading in that direction, please feel free to let me know if I can help answer any questions.

Just leave me a comment or send me an email. I’m here to help… or at least, entertain.

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Book Review: The Truth About Nature, By Stacy Tornio And Ken Keffer

I’ve had a few people curiously ask me why it seems I never seem to review products that I don’t like; from cars, to food, to toys, to books.

Here’s why: I don’t feel it’s worth my time and effort to type up 500 words on a product I don’t believe in.

That’s why I do my research on a product before I review it, to make sure it meets my strict qualifications and standards before I invest in it.

Review of The Truth About Nature Book By Stacy Tornio And Ken Keffer

With that being said, I believe in this book: The Truth About Nature: A Familiy’s Guide to 144 Common Myths about the Great Outdoors, written by Stacy Tornio and Ken Keffer; illustrations by Rachel Riordan.

My nearly 4 year-old son believes in this book too, but for different reasons.

Jack likes the book because he makes a fun game out of “finding the animals” in the 212 pages, most of which contain at least one illustration of the animal that page features.

“Daddy, I found the blue jay!” he proclaims from the back seat on the way home from school, with our copy of The Truth About Nature in hand.

The Truth About Nature Book

What I personally like about the book is that in a few years, once Jack is able to start comprehending words other than his name when he reads them, he will learn some really cool facts about animals that most people don’t know.

Here’s an excerpt:

Myth 106: Animals sleep with their eyes closed. Sleep varies a great deal from one animal to the next. Some sleep standing up. Some sleep during the day. Some even sleep with their eyes open… Dolphins are the most fascinating sleepers. They actually sleep with one eye open and continue to swim while they’re sleeping!

Like my son, I also appreciate the book’s illustrations. I want to classify the style as “Portland, Oregon postcard from 1983.” The drawings are classic, nostalgic, and enchanted.

The retail price is $18.95. Again, this is a beefy book, with 212 pages.

Our family has discovered it makes a great “road trip” book with all our reviews of cars that we do. This book is entertaining in an interesting way, not simply just in a trivial way.

Review of The Truth About Nature Book By Stacy Tornio And Ken Keffer

The authors, Stacy Tornio and Ken Keffer, have already proven they know what they’re doing when it comes to writing books. Their previous book, The Kids’ Outdoor Adventure Book: 448 Great Things To Do In Nature Before You Grow Up, was a winner of the National Outdoor Book Award.

Also, FYI, in case you’re interested in the authors coming to your child’s school, they are currently having a contest for that:

So there you go: I officially endorse The Truth About Nature. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have taken the time and effort to be telling you about it today.

You can learn more about the book here on their website. Thanks for reading my blog today!

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