Dear Jack: Do You Know The Mushroom Man? (Mel O. Mushroom)

4 years, 4 months.

Dear Jack: Do You Know The Mushroom Man?

Dear Jack,

Last Saturday we met up with some of your friends from your old preschool, at our favorite place to dine out: Mellow Mushroom.

Other than Whole Foods, it’s one of the few places near where we live that openly accommodates to my vegan lifestyle as well as you and Mommy being vegetarians. Not to mention, we’re Dave Ramsey followers so it’s hard to justify eating out every week when we’ve got a mortgage to pay off early

We rarely eat out, so when we do, it’s always a special event; like when we moved into our new house… and for Valentine’s Day.

It was a great place to catch up with your friends’ parents; meanwhile, you and your friends enjoyed hanging out underneath the table.

Right after I had just paid the bill at the end of the meal, your friend Madison’s dad mentioned to me there was something going on behind me, near the front door.

I looked over, then shouted to you:

“Jack! There’s a mushroom man! Come with me right now!”

We scurried over to the scene. There was a staff worker dressed in the restaurant’s mascot costume; as Mel O. Mushroom.

It was quite an intriguing spectacle… even for me to witness.

You were obviously fascinated. I was somewhat surprised you showed no hint of fear whatsoever.

The Mushroom Man gave you high fives; you gladly participated. You stood there in awe of his shroomy splendor.

It’s not every day you happen upon a 6 foot tall mutant mushroom in the middle of downtown Franklin, Tennessee.  I suppose he was there to participate in the St. Patrick’s Day Festival.

You tried to look up his… mushroom skirt, for lack of a better term; to try to figure out whether it was a real person- or an actual, genuine mutant mushroom person.

As we left Mellow Mushroom, you had to ask, “Daddy, was that a real man?”

I explained that it was a person in a costume, which was what you thought; but I can still see you were having a little bit of trouble digesting that truth. After all, I too would want to believe the Mushroom Man was real.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Why We Decided Against A Pool Table/The Great Outdoors

4 years, 4 months.

Dear Jack,

Dear Jack: Why We Decided Against A Pool Table/The Great Outdoors

There for a couple of months, our family was seriously planning on getting a pool table for our living room, for the same price as putting in furniture.

Ultimately, I told Mommy I changed my mind. Instead, I wanted to make sure we created an easily accessible space in our home where we could sit on comfortable furniture and have real conversations, without any threat of media interference.

Dear Jack: Why We Decided Against A Pool Table/The Great Outdoors

So we ended up doing that in our living room by getting a couch and chair on sale at American Signature. And I am so happy we did.

Dear Jack: Why We Decided Against A Pool Table/The Great Outdoors

Meanwhile, you and I have really started taking advantage of the great outdoors, in our neighborhood. Though it doesn’t have a playground, you and I have decided what matters more to us as a father and son duo is being able to go explore in the woods around our house.

Dear Jack: Why We Decided Against A Pool Table/The Great Outdoors

In essence, our cul-de-sac serves as the entrance to a walking trail that is intertwined with a creek and two small ponds.

For me as a boy growing up in Alabama, being in close proximity to something like that was one of the best things I could hope for.

Dear Jack: Why We Decided Against A Pool Table/The Great Outdoors

And now, you and I get to have that.

This past weekend you decided to release your crystals from your magic set into the water; since they would clog up the plumbing in our house if we flushed them or dumped them into the garbage disposal. You enjoyed watching them swell up in the water.

Dear Jack: Why We Decided Against A Pool Table/The Great Outdoors

Earlier this week you got to use your sidewalk chalk on our driveway for the first time. You were in your artist mindset.

Dear Jack: Why We Decided Against A Pool Table/The Great Outdoors

Seriously, the great outdoors! It’s a different lifestyle for us being able to enjoy it anytime the weather is decent.

I never realized how much our quality of life was truly going to improve by moving out of our townhouse community and into the suburbs into a “real house.”

Dear Jack: Why We Decided Against A Pool Table/The Great Outdoors

Of all the things I love about our new home, the outdoor walking path is definitely one of my favorites. And I know you feel the same way.

The great outdoors are crucial to boyhood.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Why We Decided Against A Pool Table/The Great Outdoors

Dear Jack: Your Homemade Cinnamon Milk/Pee-wee’s Big Adventure

4 years, 3 months.

Dear Jack: Your Homemade Cinnamon Milk/Pee-wee’s Big Adventure

Dear Jack,

Well, hopefully last week marked the last of the snow for winter…

Dear Jack: Your Homemade Cinnamon Milk/Pee-wee’s Big Adventure

It definitely marked the week in which we watched Pee-wee’s Big Adventure two times within 24 hours.

You confidently expressed to me you liked it better than Big Top Pee-wee, which we watched twice within 24 hours two weeks ago. Even though the scary clown scene technically was inappropriate for you to see in Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, only Mommy covered her eyes.

Dear Jack: Your Homemade Cinnamon Milk/Pee-wee’s Big Adventure

I have to admit, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure is a solid movie. Here’s a little bit of trivia: I was 4 years old when it came out in 1985; the same age you are now.

We also took a quick family drive to Rooster Tails, a cool retro style furniture store we’ve bought from before. You helped us look for a coffee table for our living room and a bookcase for our office.

Cinnamon

One of the highlights from this past week was when you decided you wanted to “make milk” for our family to drink over the weekend.

Over the course of two days, you would sit up on the counter with a mixing bowl, bumming spare ingredients off of Mommy and me, so you could add them into your bowl of water.

It’s all a blur, but I remember there being cranberry juice, oregano, salt, pepper, cinnamon, and chia seeds in it; among other random items we had in our kitchen. Just a pinch of each led to a big bowl of chucky, brownish gray water that you were so proud to stir up.

For dinner Sunday night, you decided it was time for all us to try your new concoction.

Cinnamon

What you didn’t realize was that Mommy poured some of your chocolate almond milk into your cup instead of what you made, just sprinkling in some cinnamon.

As predicted, you were skeptical to take the first sip. So Mommy and I gladly did. You were curious by how authentically we seemed to be enjoying your “homemade” milk.

You took a baby sip… then a bigger one.

Mommy! Daddy! That tastes good! It tastes like cinnamon… and chocolate!” you proclaimed.

One day you’ll read this letter and realize why.

Love,

Daddy

Cinnamon

Dear Jack: Why Your Teacher At Rainbow Child Care Center Is Awesome

4 years, 3 months.

Dear Jack: Why Your Teacher At Rainbow Child Care Center Is Awesome

Dear Jack,

You have been attending your new school, Rainbow Child Care Center, for a month now. I’m assuming it’s been pretty obvious in my recent letters how happy our family is with you attending there.

Today, I want take a moment to “feature your teacher”, Ms. Aimee.

She is truly exceptional. She is the ideal teacher I could hope for, working at the ideal school I could hope for you to attend.

Last week she taught you to use a hammer, a real hammer, to build a tiny house, which is currently being displayed in our wine cabinet.

Consider how atypical it is that a 4 year-old gets to build something out of wood, using a real hammer, at his preschool. That is so cool you get to do that.

And this week, Ms. Aimee started teaching you and your friends how to use a sewing machine. I love the super serious look on your face in this picture as you were working on your patch.

Montessori

This is a quick note she sent me about it:

Here are photos of Jack using a sewing machine for the first time! He observed a couple friends do it first, then, became very eager to try. After learning some of the rules (ie: always watch your fingers) he was a sewing pro! He picked out his fabric, and slowly guided it through the sewing machine. After he was done, he loved showing his project off!

These examples demonstrate not only how much creative control that Rainbow Child Care Center gives their teachers, which I extremely appreciate, but also how creative and talented your teacher is.

To me, that’s all the “Montessori” revealing itself.

Plus, it’s pretty revolutionary and unique that Rainbow Child Care Centers have a kids gym in them, so you are able to physically play- despite the weather.

Montessori

I can see that every day at your school, you are being creatively and intellectually challenged.

Ms. Aimee inspires you. Because of her, you are now fascinated with pet reptiles and amphibians, since Ms. Aimee has 4 of them in your classroom. I imagine not many 4 year-old boys get to have 4 pet reptiles and amphibians in their preschool classroom as class pets!

It’s no surprise that we bought tickets for Repticon for the weekend after next. I can’t wait to see how much you’re going to enjoy it.

Mommy and I even bought you a gecko stuffed animal as part of your upcoming Easter basket.

Here are photos of Jack using a sewing machine for the first time! He observed a couple friends do it first, then, became very eager to try. After learning some of the rules (ie: always watch your fingers) he was a sewing pro! He picked out his fabric, and slowly guided it through the sewing machine. After he was done, he loved showing his project off!

Oh, and your class recently won a pajama party due to good behavior. It was a big deal to you!

I obviously recommend Rainbow Child Care Center to any parent who is considering enrolling their child there.

It is a perfect fit for our family and lifestyle.

Love,

Daddy

Montessori

Dear Jack: We’ve Been In Our New House A Month… So Now What?

4 years, 3 months.

Dear Jack: We’ve Been In Our New House A Month… So Now What?

Dear Jack,

The way Mommy and I are wired, we have to always have some big project or plan or scheme we are working towards. It’s always been that way with us.

On the surface, there’s a decent chance our family appears to be pretty laid back. In reality, I think it’s that we’re always busy and moving because we aren’t that good at… whatever the opposite of that is.

So I have to admit, it has felt a little strange this week, not having some certain big challenge ahead of us.

We worked our way out of debt for the first 5 years of our (almost) 7 years of marriage (while Mommy earned her Master’s degree), then saved up for this house, then moved into it, and now here we are…

So now what?

Dear Jack: We’ve Been In Our New House A Month… So Now What?

I suppose we should simply enjoy our lives now. It’s just not that easy for us.

No, the answer is not simply having another child. Our current state of restlessness is not based on us wanting to grow our family. It’s an option to consider for the near future, as I can appreciate not having two kids in preschool at the same time; but just not something we’re focused on right now.

I think the reality of it is that we need to learn how to enjoy taking it easy. It’s somewhat unnatural for us, actually.

It’s time to start focusing on spending time with friends, learning new songs on the guitar, and planning some new road trips for our family- hopefully “car reviewing season” will be beginning soon.

This is, in essence, a season of the Sabbath for us. Sometimes you really do have to just slow down and appreciate the good things in life.

I’m in culture shock right now. Here’s to trying to just lay low for a while… until that new project presents itself, which I’m sure it will.

Love,

Daddy

Am I The Guy From The Campbell’s Go Chicken & Quinoa With Poblano Chilies Package?

Am I The Guy From The Go Campbell's Chicken & Quinoa With Poblano Chilies Package?

 

Last night I noticed my sister had sent me a picture on my phone; a picture of who I naturally assumed was me. I figured she had found a picture of me in college or something and was sending it to me for nostalgic reasons.

But as I looked closer, I realized that actually wasn’t me… it was the guy from the front of the package for Campbell’s Go: Quinoa With Poblano Chilies.

That’s when I read the text she sent with the picture:

“I saw this at Walmart and thought it looked like you… if you liked quinoa a little TOO much!”

So I did what any other Millennial guy would do in this same situation: I posted the picture on Facebook and Twitter saying this:

“Anybody seen my latest modelling gig?”

Some instantly assumed it really was me. Others didn’t know. And a few were pretty sure it was a joke. But no one really knew for sure.

Then I created the best replication I could of the original picture to show the similarities; side by side.

I can appreciate the marketing behind Campbell’s Go line-up. I like that they are using black-and-white close-ups of Millennial (Generation Y) models to advertise a simpler, more organic feeling product.

So at this point, while there is still live activity and conversations going on in my social media circles about the similarities between me and the Campbell’s Go: Quinoa With Poblano Chilies guy, I would like to find the actual Campbell’s Go: Quinoa With Poblano Chilies guy and interview him here on Family Friend Daddy Blog.

I have a few quick and relevant questions for him. Obviously, I would like to know some basic stuff like his name and where he’s from.

From there, I’d like to know more about the photo shoot he did for the packaging. I would like to ask him about his ethnic background, comparing it to my own. And I’m curious how old he was when the picture was taken of him; whereas I am 33.

Obviously, I am Tweeting this story to Campbell’s Go and sending the link to them on Facebook. After all, Campbell’s Go is targeted to Millenials, whose culture is embedded in social media conversations.

So I would have to assume someone from their marketing will be eager to reach out to me in a few days. Let’s see if my plan works…

 

 

Dear Jack: The 1st Month Of Living In Our New House

4 years, 3 months.

Dear Jack: Our 1st Month In Our New House

Dear Jack,

It was January 29th, more than 5 weeks ago, that we closed on our new house and began moving our stuff in. The next day, we slept in our new house for the first time.

Dear Jack: The 1st Month Of Living In Our New House

I didn’t plan to start chronicling each week in our new house the way I’ve done with my letters to you for the past (nearly) 5 years, but it’s just turned out that way (since these posts about our new house have proven to remain very popular among readers).

Dear Jack: Our 1st Month In Our New House

At this point, we’re obviously settled in our new life, in our new house. Other than finishing up hanging some wall decorations, and waiting on our new sofa to arrive next Saturday, we’re pretty much past the moving in stage.

Dear Jack: Our 1st Month In Our New House

This past Saturday, it was finally warm enough outside for you and me to go out and play together for the first time in our cul-de-sac. For the past couple of weeks since the big freeze, you had been asking to go play where the neighbors’ remaining snowman is on the sidewalk.

Dear Jack: Our 1st Month In Our New House

You have collected a decent number of Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars that served as great snowplows. In fact, one of them even buried St. Peter in the snow! Fortunately, a dinosaur helped save him, as the shark from Finding Nemo watched from above.

Dear Jack: Our 1st Month In Our New House

From there, we finally got to walk along the sidewalk trail along the woods, which circles around to our cul-de-sac.

We were able to walk along a treacherous board where the sidewalk ended…

Dear Jack: Our 1st Month In Our New House

Sit on a broken tree, throw huge rocks…

We were able to walk along a treacherous board where the sidewalk ended...

And even go “fishing”…

Before we headed back to our house, you made a “Mintacinno” out of some things you found on the ground as we walked together.

We were able to walk along a treacherous board where the sidewalk ended...

It’s still currently melting on our front porch right now.

I should also point out this was the week in history in which you obtained “Blueberry”, a new stuffed animal that Mommy and I let you get after your marble set we got you for Christmas got broken in the move.

We were able to walk along a treacherous board where the sidewalk ended...

Blueberry means a lot to you; it’s quite evident. I was surprised you actually let me name your new bear.

It’s funny because actually Blueberry it’s one of those “My First Bears,” designed for newborns.

Hi Nick!  Here are some photos of Jack working on his wood working!   He was so proud of himself being able to use a real hammer and nails. He was very adamant about building a house. Even though he hit his finger with the hammer, he was brave and kept going (with a little help from myself) He used paint to decorate his building. He also made an "octopus monster" with styrofoam.    -Aimee

You don’t see it that way.

As for your new school, Rainbow Child Care Center, things couldn’t be better. Here’s a note I got from your teacher this week:

Hi Nick!

Here are some photos of Jack working on his wood working! He was so proud of himself being able to use a real hammer and nails. He was very adamant about building a house. Even though he hit his finger with the hammer, he was brave and kept going (with a little help from myself). He used paint to decorate his building.He also made an “octopus monster” with Styrofoam.
-Ms. Aimee

Hi Nick!  Here are some photos of Jack working on his wood working!   He was so proud of himself being able to use a real hammer and nails. He was very adamant about building a house. Even though he hit his finger with the hammer, he was brave and kept going (with a little help from myself) He used paint to decorate his building. He also made an "octopus monster" with styrofoam.    -Aimee

It’s been a great first month! This move has been a great thing for us. New house, new school, and a new version of life.

And, thanks to your teacher Ms. Aimee letting us know about it, we ended up buying tickets for the Repticon (reptile exhibition) in Franklin, TN next weekend!

Oh yes, pictures will follow…

Love,

Daddy

Hi Nick!  Here are some photos of Jack working on his wood working!   He was so proud of himself being able to use a real hammer and nails. He was very adamant about building a house. Even though he hit his finger with the hammer, he was brave and kept going (with a little help from myself) He used paint to decorate his building. He also made an "octopus monster" with styrofoam.    -Aimee