Dear Jack: It’s Amazing You Drew That/Hot Air Balloons Overhead In Nashville

3 years, 11 months.

Dear Jack: It's Amazing You Drew That/Hot Air Balloons Overhead In Nashville

Dear Jack,

Today as I was driving to pick you up from KinderCare, I noticed two hot air balloons on the lawn next to the road; about a block away from your school.

As soon as I walked out to the playground where you were, your teacher Ms. Michelle made a point to show me your amazing work of art.

Seriously, I’m so impressed by this monster truck you drew today after you woke up from your nap. Ms. Michelle assured me you received no help from anyone, nor did you use stencils or anything like that. This is all you.

So as we were walking back to the car, as I very carefully handled your drawing, I looked up into the sky, then yelled, “Jack! Hot air balloons!

We obviously took advantage of the moment and admired them together. When you see two hot air balloons flying overhead like that, it sort of forces you to just stop and take it all in.

It’s almost… magical to watch.

 

Granted, Mommy and I actually went on a hot air balloon ride last year in Sacramento. (Click here for the story or here for the pictures on Facebook.)

Yet still, I was still in awe at the sight of hot air balloons; and of course you were too.

http://familyfriendlydaddyblog.com/2014/07/15/my-kid-doesnt-easily-sleep-in-the-same-room-as-me/

As we drove home, I kept thinking about how excited I was to show Mommy your picture of the monster truck. As your teacher Ms. Michelle had suggested, I was thinking we should frame it.

However, the moment we walked in the door, your top priority was having Mommy cut out the picture, like we do on the weekends when you have me draw pictures of your Disney Planes toys; to make it sort of like a toy, I suppose is the theory…

So while we can’t frame your magnificent work of art, at least we can still hang it on the fridge. Not to mention, I wrote this story for you so that it lives on as well.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Our New Home Is Now Being Bricked And Insulated

3 years, 11 months.

Our New Home Is Now Being Bricked And Insulated

Dear Jack,

This past weekend our family checked in on the progress of our new house being built in a ‘bedroom community” outside of Nashville.

As you can see from these pictures, the bricks are being put into place on the front. We had no idea which color the bricks would be, but I’m happy with the selection, which is obviously matched to the bluish-gray siding we also chose.

Our New Home Is Now Being Bricked And Insulated

Our new home is also being insulated right now as well.

Our New Home Is Now Being Bricked And Insulated

And as for the piles of dirt you see in our front yard, the pipes are being installed for the sewage drain.

Something that I was particularly happy about was to see how the sidewalk is being set for the wooded area around the neighborhood.

Our New Home Is Now Being Bricked And Insulated

Just the thought of that makes me feel like I’m truly going to be a real American dad. I know that probably sounds weird, but seeing our new house built really makes me happy, as your Daddy.

I already envision that sidewalk is where I’ll be teaching you how to ride a bike.

It was also exciting to see you meet one of our future neighbors, a fellow 3 year-old boy, named Aiden.

Our New Home Is Now Being Bricked And Insulated

You guys obviously got along just great, running around the lawn of the model home and sort of sword-fighting with balloons.

While we were there, Mommy and I also signed more paperwork with our real estate agent David Stanley, as we are currently in the process of selling our current home, a townhouse in Nashville.

Our New Home Is Now Being Bricked And Insulated

As I should be, I’m not getting my hopes up too high that everything will go effortlessly and as scheduled: I’m keeping my expectations low where they should be, particularly in regards to the move out of our townhouse.

But so far, this has been a very enjoyable process.

Our New Home Is Now Being Bricked And Insulated

I can only imagine what must be going through your mind right now. It’s pretty exciting times for our family right now, but I bet that’s especially the case for a nearly 4 year-old boy!

Love,

Daddy

Vegan Friendly Review Of Asheville, North Carolina

Vegan Friendly Review Of Asheville, North Carolina

Now that I’ve done a vegan friendly review of Squaw Valley (Lake Tahoe) and Atlanta, it’s time to add the enchanting city of Asheville, North Carolina to my collection.

 

It’s no secret that Asheville is known as one of America’s top vegan cities. So it only made sense that we chose Asheville as the destination point of our family’s fall road trip, while reviewing the 4G capabilities of the 2015 Buick LaCrosse.

Vegan Friendly Review Of Asheville, North Carolina

Our first stop on our trip was to Asheville Brewing Company, a pizza joint where it’s no stranger to order Daiya on your pizza as opposed to cow cheese.

Vegan Friendly Review Of Asheville, North Carolina

As the name implies, Asheville Brewing Company brews their own unique beers; available on tap. When I was there, they were experimenting on willing customers with their newest concoction: Ninja Bread Man, a gingerbread flavored beer.

Vegan Friendly Review Of Asheville, North Carolina

We also took a dive into the heart of downtown Asheville by checking out The Laughing Seed, a place that served me the best vegan burger I’ve ever had at a restaurant.

Vegan Friendly Review Of Asheville, North Carolina

Meanwhile my adventurous son loved his blueberry pancakes with a side of fries- not a surprise for a nearly 4 year-old boy.

Vegan Friendly Review Of Asheville, North Carolina

What I quickly learned upon our arrival in Asheville is that you can easily find any type of vegan food you want. It is absolutely the most vegan friendly city I have ever visited!

Vegan Friendly Review Of Asheville, North Carolina

The menu at The Laughing Seed was so comprehensive, we’ll probably just go there every year now. They even serve brunch…

Vegan Friendly Review Of Asheville, North Carolina

Like so many restaurants in Asheville, they don’t simply have vegetarian options, they are actually 100% vegetarian.

Vegan Friendly Review Of Asheville, North Carolina

With all that being said, I must now devote the rest of my vegan friendly review of Asheville to their brand new Whole Foods Market.

Vegan Friendly Review Of Asheville, North Carolina

Ah… seriously, I love that place!

I have visited many Whole Foods Markets in my day, but none compare to the glory of the one in Asheville, North Carolina.

Vegan Friendly Review Of Asheville, North Carolina

The Asheville Whole Foods is home of the “Mexi-QUE,” which allows you to fill up a huge bowl, or burrito, with dozens of options from their mini-bar, most of which are vegan. The price is just $8.

Vegan Friendly Review Of Asheville, North Carolina

That’s when my wife and I realized that the food budget for our Asheville trip was absolutely cheaper than it would have been had we been meat eaters… especially thanks the the $8 deal they have.

Vegan Friendly Review Of Asheville, North Carolina

So we ended up eating eat least 3 or 4 meals there at Whole Foods!

While there, I was able to sample Kite Hill’s brand mozzarella vegan cheese. I have no idea how they make it taste that much like mozzarella, despite containing no animal products. And it takes a lot to impress me.

Asheville’s Whole Foods even has a gelato bar featuring vegan sorbet, as featured in the very top picture of this post.

Vegan Friendly Review Of Asheville, North Carolina

So, in closing, go to Asheville and eat your vegan heart out. And if you never make it past the Whole Foods, I completely understand!

http://www.kite-hill.com/softfresh.html

P.S. I just happened to be there while Katie (who handles their social media) and Camille (who is one of their artsits); featured directly above.

Sky Top Orchard In Asheville, NC: Family Friendly Review

Sky Top Orchard In Asheville, NC: Family Friendly Review

 

As part of the itinerary for our fall road trip from Nashville to Asheville, while we reviewed the 4G capabilities of the 2015 Buick LaCrosse, we felt would it be a shame if we didn’t make an effort to drive to the top of the mountain where Sky Top Orchard is located.

Sky Top Orchard In Asheville, NC: Family Friendly Review

The extremely foggy driving conditions provided not only a cool mysterious vibe, but also an opportunity to really take advantage of the LaCrosse’s back-up camera after we accidentally turn down the wrong road; which turned out to be a dead end, with little room to turn around.

Sky Top Orchard In Asheville, NC: Family Friendly Review

Not only does Sky Top Orchard let you pick your own apples from the orchard, but they also have pumpkins. We bought one, which is currently sitting on our kitchen table as an appropriate decoration for our house as random people are coming in to see it, since it is currently on the market.

Sky Top Orchard In Asheville, NC: Family Friendly Review

Admission is free to Sky Top Orchard, but we ended up buying a bag of their apples. I must say, my wife made an apple pie from those apples, and it was one of the best apple pies I’ve ever eaten (too much of)!

Sky Top Orchard In Asheville, NC: Family Friendly Review

They have a really cool play area there for kids. My son and I loved the giant pumpkins; they reminded me of Smurf houses.

Sky Top Orchard In Asheville, NC: Family Friendly Review

And of course, what fall-themed family activity place would be complete without those great stand-up cut-outs where you get to take your pictures as a scarecrow, pumpkin, or flower?

Sky Top Orchard In Asheville, NC: Family Friendly Review

If you don’t mind walking and getting your shoes a bit wet with dew, there is also a place to see some farm birds up close and personal; the Animal Barn.

Sky Top Orchard In Asheville, NC: Family Friendly Review

Our family had a great time at Sky Top Orchards in Asheville, North Carolina. If you get the chance to take your family there, I am confident you will not be disappointed.

Sky Top Orchard In Asheville, NC: Family Friendly Review

Thanks for reading Family Friendly Daddy Blog today!

Sky Top Orchard In Asheville, NC: Family Friendly Review

Sky Top Orchard In Asheville, NC: Family Friendly Review

Our Visit to the Buchi Headquarters And Avonlea Learning Community

Our Visit to the Buchi Headquarters And Avonlea Learning Center

In what turned out to be a major coincidence, two weeks ago I happened to mountain bike a few miles up to Whole Foods during my lunch break and treat myself to a Buchi brand Kombucha. I happened to turn the bottle around to see that Buchi is made in Asheville, NC.

Our Visit to the Buchi Headquarters And Avonlea Learning Center

The reason that is important is because just a few days later, we would be going to Asheville anyway, on our fall road trip from Nashville to Asheville, as we reviewed the 4G capabilities of the 2015 Buick LaCrosse.

So I sent a quick email to Buchi requesting a tour while we were in town and they said yes.

Our Visit to the Buchi Headquarters And Avonlea Learning Center

Therefore, today with great honor, I share our visit of Buchi, as well as, the Avonlea Learning Community with you.

In case you’re unfamiliar with Kombucha, I refer to it as “vegan soda.” It’s extremely healthy for you and full of probiotics, but contains no added junk or chemicals like soda does; nor is it an actual alcoholic beverage, despite the appearance.

Our Visit to the Buchi Headquarters And Avonlea Learning Center

Without a doubt, Buchi is a very fascinating company. Why else would our family make an effort to visit their headquarters while on our fall mini-vacation?

For starters, Fast Company recently featured them in their magazine.

Our Visit to the Buchi Headquarters And Avonlea Learning Center

The next thing I find fascinating about them is how humble the workers are. I met with Mike Numinous, the Vision Caster and Kombucha Ambassador of Buchi.

He sincerely hugs anyone he meets. It’s that mentality that gets bottled up with the Kombucha itself.

I am amazed at how “uncorporate” the Buchi company is, not just in word, but in action.

Our Visit to the Buchi Headquarters And Avonlea Learning Center

For the type of national distribution they have, I assumed they must have a huge warehouse.

Nope.

I’m so impressed how far this company has gotten without a major corporate affiliation. Talk about the underdog! Buchi’s staff is very hard-working, yet full of heart.

Our Visit to the Buchi Headquarters And Avonlea Learning CenterOur Visit to the Buchi Headquarters And Avonlea Learning Center

The Buchi headquarters, which is up in the mountains, about a 25 minute drive from downtown Asheville, is simply part of the communal property which also hosts the homes of many of Buchi’s staff as well as their Montessori-based private school: Avonlea Learning Community.

They have mixed age classrooms, art and physical education daily, and an emphasis on nature exploration. They focus on critical thinking, teach chicken farming and gardening, and are located on 180 acres of organic farm and woodland; all with affordable tuition! Man, if only we lived in Asheville…

Our Visit to the Buchi Headquarters And Avonlea Learning Center

Another coincidence in this whole story is that the flavor of Buchi I happened to be drinking in the picture at the top, before we ever made our visit, was the Avonlea flavor; which was named in honor on their school. Avonlea, along with Fire, happen to be my favorites!

Our Visit to the Buchi Headquarters And Avonlea Learning Center

We really enjoyed seeing the school. I mean this in a good way; it was like seeing the Dharma Initiative in 1977; at least the way it was intended to be. (That’s a reference to once my favorite shows, Lost.)

Our Visit to the Buchi Headquarters And Avonlea Learning Center

In the backyard of the school is a chicken coop; the children sell the eggs to the community. There is also a trampoline and plenty of room to run around.

Our Visit to the Buchi Headquarters And Avonlea Learning CenterOur Visit to the Buchi Headquarters And Avonlea Learning Center

Man, what a cool school!

Our Visit to the Buchi Headquarters And Avonlea Learning Center

Our fall trip to Asheville was a blast the whole time, but I think our visit to the Buchi headquarters was my favorite part!

Our Visit to the Buchi Headquarters And Avonlea Learning Center

Below is some bonus footage, featuring some interviews I did with Mike Numinous, the Vision Caster and Kombucha Ambassador of Buchi:

Dear Jack: Bribing Me By Calling Me “Cool Daddy”

3 years, 11 months.

Dear Jack: Bribing Me By Calling Me “Cool Daddy”

Dear Jack,

This morning as Mommy buckled you into your car seat, I was sitting up front in the 2015 Buick LaCrosse we’ve been driving this week.

After she already had you buckled, you then decided you wanted to take off your pullover, even though it was chilly outside.

I saw it as a way you were just trying to stall Mommy leaving. She had to leave that very minute in order to get to work on time.

So Mommy had to leave on that note, walking to her car to drive to the other side of Nashville.

You were somewhat upset, raising your voice at me because you wanted your pullover off and because Mommy had to leave because of your attempted stall.

To take control of the situation, I warned you as I backed away from our house that I would have to take away your stuffed animal you were holding if you couldn’t focus on something else.

You didn’t… so I did.

Obviously that made you more upset, but it worked- it got your attention. You stopped focusing on the pullover and instead were completely focused on getting your stuffed animal back.

“Jack, say something nice and I’ll give you your animal back,” I explained, in my attempt to redirect the focus to a more positive one.

Silence.

Ten seconds later, you proclaimed, “Daddy, I said it!”

I responded by telling you I didn’t hear you say anything.

Then you barely mumbled something under your breath.

“Jack, you have to say it loud enough where I can hear it. Just say something positive or nice and you’ll get your animal back,” I insisted.

This time you said it loud and clear:

“Cool Daddy,” you replied.

I begin instantly laughing out loud, so you did as well.

“Jack, did you just call me a ‘cool Daddy’ to be nice so you would get your animal back?”

You shook your head yes as you laughed.

So it’s official: I am a cool Daddy and you got your stuffed animal back.

Love,

Daddy

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!