Should I Check “White, Not Hispanic or Latino”?

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As I was updating my paperwork for the dentist recently, I had to decide whether or not I felt like technically lying.

It’s always something I hesitate on, more than I probably should.

My grandmother is full Mexican. I’m therefore only a quarter Mexican.

So I’m white; but 25% of my genes, and I suppose to some degree, my heritage and culture, is Mexican.

But if I could honestly describe myself to the Census Bureau, which apparently is the organization that most cares about my cultural and ethnic identity, it would simply be this:

Mostly white.

I’m not 100% white, so to proclaim, “white, not Hispanic or Latino” is inaccurate; because I’m absolutely part Hispanic.

The first time I remember having to answer that question was in 1st grade, for a standardized test. I remember how my mom, who is half Mexican and half Italian, told me that she always questioned that herself when she had to answer that question as well.

I think it muddies the waters even more than Italians typically are “more ethnic looking” than most Europeans. I have always thought the same thing about Jews (who are actually considered Middle Eastern) and Greeks (who, like Italians, are Mediterranean).

“White” is a funny term to me, when it references people.

I would love to take one of those ethnic DNA tests where they draw some of your blood and tell you exactly what percentage you are of each people group.

Mainly just because it would be fun to know… exactly. But really, none of that really matters.

What I learned in my HR training course is that ultimately, a person can claim whatever race they most identify with, even if it’s simply cultural.

If you are Chinese but adopted by white parents, you can identify as “white” if you choose to; or Chinese. It’s up to the individual.

As for me, I’m mostly white, based on the last names in my family tree: German (“Shell”), Italian (“Metallo”), Dutch (“Clowers”, derived from “Klaar”), Scottish (“Johnston” and “King”), and English (“Taylor” and “Wiseman”).

And of course I’m also Mexican (“Mendez”). That’s a little confusing as well because ethnically, Mexicans are a mixed race called Mestizos: ultimately, they are around half European (largely including Spanish) and around half Native (or indigenous) Mexican; just like how the United States originally was occupied by Native Americans before the Europeans came over.

The natives in modern Mexico and United States actually derived from Asia, like the Eskimos who settled in Russia and Alaska.

So technically, I’ve got distant traces of Asian blood.

If you really dumb it down, I’m just European and barely Asian.

But there’s not a category for that on the paperwork.

Green Meanie’s 2016 Scion iM and iA Press Preview

Green Meanie’s 2016 Scion iM and iA Press Preview

Though I’m sure you’ve heard of me by now, I am indeed world renowned Internet celebrity and spokesman, Green Meanie. You may know me as the main villain in the super hero series on YouTube, Jack-Man.

Due to the wild success of that program, I also was approached by Nick Shell, the man behind Family Friendly Daddy Blog and Shell House Productions, about doing my very own show, The Green Meanie Show; which you’ll see in a minute.

Green Meanie’s 2016 Scion iM and iA Press Preview

Today, I am serving as a guest blogger here on Family Friendly Daddy Blog, as I recently made my way to Grand Rapids, Michigan; for the official press preview of the 2016 Scion iM and 2016 Scion iA.

Scion even put me up in a nice place called the JW Marriott Grand Rapidswhere they easily catered to my vegan lifestyle.

So why do I make a good spokesman for Scion? Well, first, I’m a Millennial; born in 1981. I’m of the main demographic that Scion is targeting.

Second, I like to be the first to capture (and share) exclusive information on cars before anyone else; then be the first to put it on the Internet, in a creative format people aren’t used to.

Green Meanie’s 2016 Scion iM and iA Press Preview

So I made two videos from the footage I took from my trip; both are episodes of The Green Meanie Show.

After all, YouTube is the #2 search engine in the world. People will have to come to me if they want to see fun pictures and fun videos of new cars. I will be that gatekeeper for so many who wouldn’t normally check out a car blog.

Green Meanie’s 2016 Scion iM and iA Press Preview

I know that most readers of parenting blogs like this one are mainly read by women; while it seems most car blogs are very technically written- often with a male audience in mind.

Green Meanie’s 2016 Scion iM and iA Press Preview

My genius plan is to be able share information in a format that an audience besides just men will care to check out.

Green Meanie’s 2016 Scion iM and iA Press Preview

Besides, let’s face it: With a smile and laugh like mine, who wouldn’t want to watch The Green Meanie Show?

There’s your third reason right there; in case you’re still counting.

So now that you know my agenda, I hope you enjoy my videos of the Scion iM and iA; neither of which are even on the market yet.

You’ll see what a wonderful time I had in Grand Rapids, Michigan; along with my new friend and driving buddy, Dave Nicolanti of 2 Wired 2 Tired.

Green Meanie’s 2016 Scion iM and iA Press Preview

In the one below, you’ll see my interview with Andy Lee and David Lee, who are both experts on these new Scions.

And in this one here, you’ll get to see an overview of my trip.

Next up on my agenda is to check out the 2015 Camry while Jack-Man visits his family out in Sacramento, California. It’ll be loads of fun!

Stay Green,

Green Meanie

My Christian Faith in a “Social Media Fearing” Society

If I ever ended up on a reality TV show, one where they had me living in a house with people of opposing beliefs and lifestyles and habits, I’m not sure there would be enough drama from me to make the episode controversial enough to be considered modern entertainment.

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There are 2 main reasons for this:

Here’s the 1st reason.

Despite me being concrete on what I believe in and stand for, as my Christian faith is the basis of my existence, my role is not to “convert” anyone who is close-minded to what I believe.

I will gladly share my faith with anyone who I believe is searching for hope; which is what I believe Jesus and His followers demonstrated in the New Testament.

But Jesus didn’t seem to argue with nonbelievers and skeptics.

The people He seemed to really have an issue with were the people of His day who believed they already had their golden ticket into Heaven, but who weren’t willing to truly surrender their hearts to God’s will for their lives; which typically involved simply loving their neighbors as themselves.

(Apparently though, it’s not that simple; otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this today.)

Therefore, I feel I have no business in arguing with a “non-believer” of Christ, the Messiah; whether it’s a person of a different religion, or a skeptic of religion, or someone who simply doesn’t participate in religion whatsoever.

I feel that if my faith is not evident through my attitude and actions, words alone definitely won’t help the situation.

From a secular (and marketing) perspective, what good is a professing Christian on a reality TV show if he or she isn’t willing to argue, lose their cool, and demonstrate the opposite of Jesus’s mentality? The hypocrisy of Christians sells.

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But if a Christian is actually helping others overseas to get access to clean water, that’s apparently not worth prime time advertising dollars.

I feel the media is quick to give pedestals to the most opinionated and argumentative professing Christians, which helps make the rest of us appear as fools.

Please don’t misunderstand me, I fully accept my title as “fool for Christ’s sake,” as the Apostle Paul puts it.

But what if there were more examples of… I guess I could simply say… level-headed, nonjudgmental Christians in the media?

I don’t think America is really accustomed to that.

Here’s the 2nd reason I don’t think I would make for a controversial enough episode in a reality TV show:

I would quickly and openly admit I am not perfect.

There’s a stereotype that Christians are the most judgmental people; that they think they are “holier than thou.”

If I was on a reality TV show, the 1st thing I would proclaim to the other people in the house was that I definitely, absolutely do not believe I am better than anyone else.

I would share with them that my understanding of the Christian faith is not that we are people who think we are perfect.

It’s quite the opposite. I know for a fact I am far from perfect and therefore have no right to judge anyone else. Instead, I depend on God’s grace not only for eternal salvation from my imperfect state of being, but also for constant salvation from my greedy, selfish mindset.

I believe we are all sinners in need of God’s grace. I’m simply in the same depraved state as everyone else.

Our society (on both sides of the fence) places so much value on the morality/immorality of homosexuality, as the controversial topic only further divides America in its own civil culture war.

I remain publicly mute on the topic, because I’d rather focus on the things listed in the Bible that I personally struggle with every day:

Like pride.

And greed.

And gossip.

(Those are items people tend to overlook in the New Testament the moment they see a reference of homosexuality; even when those things are listed together with homosexuality in the same verse.)

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Our society actually places a high value on gossip, in case you haven’t noticed.

What should be a shameful thing is instead worshiped.

Let me be clear: While our society is divided on homosexuality, we love gossip.

In actuality, gossip is condemned in the Bible; the whole way throughout the book.

But it’s easier for us to question the things in the Bible that only some people relate to, like homosexuality… while the more identifiable issues to the mainstream, like pride and greed and gossip, are virtually excused.

So if I was in a reality TV show, my role would be to help other people alongside me. For example, if I was placed in a house with self-proclaimed slobs, I would help them do their dishes every day before I would allow myself to lose my temper with them.

Granted, I would still fear my scenes could be edited to be taken out of context, packaged into bite-size morsels, so convenient to be blasted all over Twitter- making me out to be the judgmental character I most wished to disassociate myself from.

After all, I fear that in some regards, as we live in a time when the Internet has become the modern day Tower of Babel, we have learned to fear social media (and its potential backlash) more than God Himself.

At the same time, isn’t it safe to say that we as a culture even worship social media, as well?

It’s sad, but that concept helps me better understand the concept of both worshiping and fearing God; though at first it seems like a paradox.

In a reality TV show setting, I would consider myself as a “competitor” in a contest, whose agenda was to prove that Christianity is serving others; not judging them.

Christianity is about demonstrating love, by being patient and kind and understanding and forgiving.

If we dumb down Christianity to “heaven or hell” or “traditional marriage or gay marriage” or “Republican or Democrat”, then I feel we’re not talking about the same faith Jesus taught His followers.

It seems that would be a compromised and ultimately misleading version of the very Gospel we are called to share with our “neighbors”…

Now, the question is, would an American audience buy into a concept so revolutionary… that serving others, not judging them, is what faith in Jesus is all about?

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Dear Jack: 6 Months of Living in Our New House

4 years, 8 months.

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Dear Jack,

As they say… time flies when you’re having fun.

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That must be why it definitely doesn’t feel like we’ve been living in our new house for 6 months.

A week ago made 6 months that we began moving in our stuff and began sleeping there; but it took a solid week after that before it felt like we truly living there and not simply still moving in.

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As of today, I wanted to document what our house looked like at this point in history; so I walked around room to room, taking pictures.

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One of my proudest decisions in staging our house is that we purposely don’t have a TV downstairs in the living room. It’s important to me that conversation is not stolen in our house.

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If I could come up with a theme for our house, it would be this: Quality time.

That’s so important. We have to make the most of our time together despite our busy schedules as individuals.

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As you read this years from now, I want you to hear me say this once again:

We worked very hard to get into this house.

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It required paying off all our debts (including cars and student loans), then living by an extremely strict budget (including no smart phones), in order to start saving for the down payment on our house.

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Something that was very important to Mommy and me was to make sure we raise you (as well as any future siblings) in a good school system. To do that, we had to move to the “right” county: Williamson.

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We pour our lives into you. We want the best for you. Being able to live in this house makes me feel like our family is exactly where we need to be.

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Living in this house has truly made us happy, content, and at peace. Our quality of life has never been better.

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But again, this wasn’t handed to us.

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And it’s not simply about how much money you make, as much as it is how you manage the money you do make. We worked very hard to get here… and still do.

Love,

Daddy

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Is PG-13 Rated Ant-Man Suitable for Younger Children?

Is PG-13 Rated Ant-Man Suitable for Younger Children?

Something I’ve pointed out over the years in my family friendly movie reviews is that most movies these days are rated PG-13. That happens by default, since PG rated movies scare away adults (thinking the movie will be too cheesy), while R rated movies prevent many teenagers from being able to buy a movie ticket.

So since most movies are rated PG-13, I think it’s important to recognize which of those movies land closer to PG and which are closer to R. Because if this were about 30 years ago, Ant-Man wouldn’t have been rated PG-13. It would have been rated PG.

Let me begin by saying this movie is awesome! My son Jack and I loved it. My favorite Marvel movie up until this point was Captain America: The Winter Soldier. But there’s a good chance Ant-Man may be #1 in my book now.

It’s quick-witted, different, and yet warm.

Ant-Man is rated PG-13 due to action and fighting scenes; which are ultimately the equivalent to Power Rangers violence. The most intense violence actually comes in the form of fierce punches to the face.

It’s almost a theme in the movie: Face punching.

The only time my nearly 5 year-old son (4 years, 8 months to be exact) jumped in brief freight was during a few of the face punches, but it was mainly because the sound effects.

Other violence includes the main villain using a shrink-ray gun that shrinks a man as well as a sheep into a pink glob of mucus; therefore killing them both.

I think that in my son’s perspective, watching Ant-Man was like seeing the action violence of Power Rangers with the creepiness of Goosebumps on Netflix, with The Lego Movie type of humor.

There was no sexual content in Ant-Man or even innuendoes.

However, the assumed most “offensive” language in Ant-Man is one use of a word used for cat; but is used to refer to female genitalia. It is used briefly as an insult slang from one man to another, not in an explicit sexual content.

The other strong cuss word is one use of the phrase “S.O.B.”; only they don’t abbreviate it like I just did.

Other than that, there are definitely what I call PG-rated cuss words throughout. There were no uses of the f-word or “g.d.”; which are the ones most American parents seem to find the most offensive.

The reason the language didn’t bother me was that my son is too young to recognize those words as “bad words” yet.  He doesn’t hear them in our house or at his school, so it didn’t worry me for him to passively hear them in Ant-Man.

He thinks stupid and “oh my gosh” are bad words; neither of which I remember being in this movie.

I don’t think my son would have been able to handle the intensity of Jurassic World or the new Ninja Turtles movie. But Ant-Man was PG enough for him.

So would I recommend Ant-Man to younger children? I say yes, if your child is accustomed to Power Rangers, Goosebumps, and The Lego Movie.

If not, Ant-Man may be too intense, and too serious, for them to appreciate.

Please feel free to let me know your thoughts on my analysis on the “family friendly” factor of Ant-Man, as well as allowing me to answer any further questions  you may about this loveable movie.

Also, here’s my video review of Ant-Man:

Saving Your Family Money by Buying Retail at the End of the Month

Saving Your Family Money by Buying Retail at the End of the Month

I’ve spent nearly a decade working in the transportation industry. (I do that in addition to blogging and making videos for my YouTube channel.)

It’s simple common knowledge to me but I have to remind myself that most retail consumers are probably unaware of it:

You’re typically more likely to find better sales during the end of the month; which is when retailers are most desperate to move out inventory before the new month begins, because then they have to pay taxes on the inventory they didn’t sell.

I refuse to be the guy who pays full price for anything. And I don’t simply want a sale, I want the best sale.

Granted, there will obviously always be exceptions, like certain holiday clearance sales; but I have made and do make a living of off of this principle that retail stores typically save their best sales each month for those last 2 weeks.

So be at the right place at the right time. Wait until the next to the last Tuesday of the month before you buy what you want.

That’s what our family did last Saturday when we made a trip to Old Navy.

I created this “Old Navy Haul” video, which explains this concept, in addition to showing what I bought and for how much. It ends which my son hosting a “pants party”; a concept he invented recently.

My video features my newest song, “The Mandatory Dance,” which I wrote and performed for an upcoming episode of my super hero series, Jack-Man.

So keep this in mind the next time you plan a shopping trip. Make those coupons count more by buying when prices are predictably lower. Take advantage of the situation instead of letting it take advantage of you.

Please feel free to share any similar tips with me here. You may teach me something!

Saving Your Family Money by Buying Retail at the End of the Month

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

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