Freshening Up Mealtime with Moe’s; Even for Vegetarian/Vegan Families Like Ours

Anyone who has been reading my blog for the past couple of years knows that I frequently mention Moe’s Southwest Grill. Not only is it a ritual for my son Jack and I have dinner there right after we go see a movie together, but last November when my wife and I told him he could go anywhere to celebrate his 6th birthday dinner, he chose Moe’s– with no hesitation! Yes, that’s a true story.

In a time when parents are paying more attention than ever to what’s in the food their family is eating (for example, steering clear of GMO’s) and how it’s prepared, while at the same time catering to any particular dietary needs (like how I’m a vegan but my wife and kids are vegetarians), as well as, the often picky eating habits of children, Moe’s has naturally become our stress-free, go-to place.

Over the weekend, our 1 year-old daughter wasn’t quite feeling herself, so my wife Jill wrote down a lunch order that we could pick up and bring back to the house.

Once we arrived at Moe’s, I asked Jack, “Same thing as always, right?” He confirmed, having just mumbled back to the staff, “Welcome to Moe’s…”

The nice young man across the counter/food prep station began making Jack’s “cheese only” quesadilla and my wife’s vegetarian taco salad (cheese is the thing that keeps my wife from being a vegan like I am).

I got my usual: the “earmuffs with tofu”.  It’s a delicious bowl full of rice and beans, with tofu and mushrooms as my protein, along with grilled onions and peppers. (All proteins, whether meat or not, are grilled on a consistent production stream so they’re hot and ready as soon as you order.)

Then I build a salad on top, with salsa and guacamole; both of which are prepared from scratch daily. It’s a great dichotomy of warm protein on the bottom and chilled greens on top.

So in case you’re wondering, that’s what such a manly vegan as myself eats at Moe’s. With over 20 fresh and flavorful ingredients to customize my meal; there are just so many options. It’s quite a colorful masterpiece on my plate!

I let Jack pick out our table, then I made my way to the salsa bar (which is a must). Not only is all the salsa and guacamole prepared from scratch daily, but they always have extremely spicy options for pepper heads like me.

As we enjoyed our lunch together, I looked over and caught Jack dancing to Michael Jackson’s 1983 hit, “Beat It.” That tends to happen a lot when I take him to Moe’s. After all, did you know that Moe’s is actually an acronym for “Musicians, Outlaws, and Entertainers”?

 

 

Before we headed back home, we made our way back up to the counter to put in a to-go order for our family’s dinner. I ordered burritos for my wife and myself, while Jack predictably ordered another cheese quesadilla; being the picker eater he is.

My wife was delighted to see us return with not only an easy dinner, but also, her lunch. She reminded me several times not to forget the chips, which are flash-fried daily and come free and unlimited, along with the salsa as well.

So for dinner last Saturday night, we reheated the burritos and quesadilla in our oven. It is such a glorious thing to know you can eat a meal in your own home, yet not have to worry with a sink full of dishes.

Our family proudly supports Moe’s, as each one is locally owned and operated; which yields that true hometown feel. And even though we have dietary needs that most can barely cater to, Moe’s makes it easy for us. It’s family dining. It’s easy dining.

Have you been to Moe’s recently? We have.

 

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Moe’s Southwest Grill;

however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

Dear Holly: Your Attempt to Figure Out the Sprinkler in the Backyard (and Why Your Brother Had a Bucket on His Head)

1 year, 3 months.

Dear Holly,

Here we are in the scorching heat of July in Nashville. There’s not much we can do, as a family, outdoors right now. But when Mommy took your brother with her to buy groceries on Saturday morning while you and I stayed home and played, she bought him a $5 sprinkler for our water hose.

The original plan was just for Jack to run through the sprinkler while Mommy supervised outside on the back porch. But after just a few minutes, you began grunting and nodding your head towards the back door.

Translation: “Daddy, aren’t you going to take me outside?”

You didn’t even notice the intense 91 degree weather. You were just fascinated by watching your brother jump through the water.

So Mommy helped you get a closer look, holding you up high to where you wouldn’t really get too wet. That’s when your brother, who assumed his role of entertainer, placed a bucket on top of his head and started dancing around.

I’m trying to imagine how you were processing what was going on, as the 15 month-old little girl you are…

It’s scorching hot. Let’s go outside!

And now big brother is dancing in the water with a bucket on his head.

I assume that this event ultimately gets translated in your brain as “completely normal event.”

That’s something I tend to think about- how everything you see our family do, even if you forget about it an hour later, is ultimately hard-wiring your thought process as to what are the norms of society.

However, I have found that you actually do remember more than I would expect you to. Just little things, like when we were reading a book together that had a picture of a cartoon lizard on it.

I said, “Holly… lizard!” Then I made a silly noise by sticking my tongue out again and again, which sounded like, “bluh-la-buh-la, bluh-la-buh-la…”

A few days later when you pointed to the book for us to read again, you placed your finger on the lizard and immediately made the sound: “Bluh-la-buh-la, bluh-la-buh-la…”

You looked up to me for immediate approval, as you smiled so big, which translated as, “Daddy, that’s the sound I’m supposed to make when I see the lizard, right? Aren’t you proud of me for remembering?”

What’s funny is, I had forgotten I had even made that sound the last time we had read the book. But now, every time we read it, you make that silly lizard noise that I accidentally taught you.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: You are Now Asking Me Questions about Baptism

6 years, 8 months.

Dear Jack,

As your Daddy, I have to always be ready for serious, sincere questions; especially at times when I would least expect. That definitely was the case as we were driving back from the movies last Sunday.

Completely unrelated to our conversation discussing your favorite part of the movie, basically out of nowhere, you asked me this: “Daddy, will we see your Grandma in Heaven?”

That set up the next question, “Daddy, what will Heaven be like?”

And that led to, “Will we see Jesus in Heaven?”

Then, “If Jesus is God, then are they one person or two?”

And then, “Does a person have to be baptized to go to Heaven?”

That last question is the one you’ve been bringing up daily, since then. Last night, after we read your children’s Bible story about King Hezekiah (which actually was very interesting, and one that I wasn’t really familiar with), you asked me again about Heaven and baptism.

I have been explaining to you that being baptized is how we let everyone know that we believe Jesus is God’s son and that we trust in Him and thank Him for all we have in life. To answer your question, I pointed out that Jesus promised the dying thief on the cross next to Him, “Today, you will be with me in Paradise”. However, any other time in the Bible a person believed in Jesus, they always got baptized afterwards.

For you, believing is the easy part.

It’s funny because for us, one of the ways we bond is when you show me your newest Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh cards you traded that day at school. Some of the characters are called “gods”, yet you always immediately point out that there are false gods, like the idols people made in the Bible.

You always separate the “idols and false gods” from our God. I am truly impressed with your ability, as an almost 1st grader, to process that concept.

So whereas believing is the easy part, right now you are sorting out the details- the main one being this:

“Daddy, how long do I have to go underwater to get baptized?”

Turns out, you asked Mommy these same questions about baptism and Heaven, right after I left your bedroom last night, when she came in to say goodnight.

Now Mommy and I are planning to let you go to “big church” the next time they have a baptismal service; and take you to the front row so you can see exactly how it works.

It is an honor to teach you these things. I don’t want to rush you through your ongoing journey in the Christian faith. Instead, it’s important to me that you understand at your own pace, paced on my consistent guidance.

I simply have been sowing the seeds, by reading your stories from the children’s story Bible that my Grandma gave me 29 years ago. And you truly enjoy going to church, learning aside from we read together.

This is big stuff.

Love,

Daddy

Why You Should Put an Air Purifier in the Kids’ Room (By Guest Blogger, Angela Berry)

You may have lived without one (or several), your entire life, so chances are you don’t even know what you’re missing. Nonetheless, the quality of the air we breathe is, we must face it, not the best, and you are definitely all in dire need of a great air purifier. Now, while a grown-up’s body may be more resilient, children are more fragile little humans and for their sake, you need to protect and make your home the best it can be, so without further ado, let’s see how every kids’ room can benefit from an air purifier, and perhaps along the way you’ll realize you need one for your room as well.

The beloved pets

For most people, the thought of abandoning a pet once the babies come is virtually inconceivable, as it should be. Babies and pets can certainly coexist in the same space happily and actually be very beneficial for each other. Still, our beloved pets can bring about a certain number of issues. When you welcome an animal into your home, you also leave the door open for pet odors, urine stains, and skin dander. These odors can be upsetting and cause respiratory distress in those prone to allergies, and since you never know when a child can develop an allergy to something, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Of course, although an air purifier alone can’t fix everything, and keeping a clean home is paramount to your health, great air purifiers can do plenty to add to the state of your home and the air you breathe as well as eliminate these allergens from your home. Vacuum regularly, keep your home clean and call an air purifier for extra backup.

They serve as helpers with asthma

Your child’s developing body doesn’t work like yours does. Their metabolisms are immature and can’t always excrete chemicals as efficiently as an adult, which in turn makes them more vulnerable to the effects of air pollution. Many children who suffer from asthma can be further aggravated by airborne particles and chemicals, and that’s where a great air purifier steps in. They clean the air, remove dust, destroy or prevent the formation of mold and certain kinds of bacteria. Therefore, they reduce allergen levels in your home, and help fight allergies and asthma.

A purifier a day keeps the illness away

As a parent, your number one priority is your kids’ health. Well, there are times when grown-ups, whether it’s you, or a friend or a relative who visits your home that brings the flu into your home. Airborne flu virus particles move from person to person through sneezing and coughing and failure to wash hands afterward. Bacteria thrive in warm, humid areas of the home and can cause serious illness to the young ones. So, even if the people carrying the virus are nowhere near the kids, it’s not guaranteed that the germs won’t find their way into their room. So, when there’s an air purifier present in your child’s room, the risk of these germs and subsequent illness will be significantly lowered and that will help keep your kids healthy.

You live in a less than perfect neighborhood

If you live in an urban area, that’s either close to the freeway or generally gets a lot of car traffic, you most definitely need to pollute-proof your kids’ room. As their main task is providing clean, safe air, that’s exactly what they’ll do. You can’t afford to keep your windows closed at all times, and a certain amount of polluted air is bound to creep from the street and into your home, so make sure you nip it in the bud.

You just moved to a brand new home

Buying a new place where you will form new and happy memories is a wonderful thing. However, there is a little-known fact that that ‘new house’ smell usually comes from pollutants such as formaldehyde which is a dangerous toxin that has been shown to cause health problems. An air purifier can help filter this toxic air and give everyone in the home a bit more confidence that they are breathing healthier air, and as much as it’s important for your health, it’s crucial for your children’s.

Dear Jack: It’s the Dog Days of Summer, So We Might as Well Go to the Movies!

6 years, 8 months.

Dear Jack,

This is what I call “the dead of summer.” Not winter, but summer.

Most people refer to this as the dog days of summer. It’s this time of year that I unapologetically think to myself, “I wouldn’t mind it being winter right now…”

Here in Tennessee this time of year, it’s so hot and humid that there’s not a whole we can do outside; unless it involves water- but even then, we have to be sure to prevent sunburn.

During the colder weather months, you and I are able to spend quality time together by going on our hikes in the woods. But as for now, a trip to the matinee is our choice.

Last weekend we saw Spiderman: Homecoming. Obviously, we had a great time and loved the movie!

I personally loved seeing the dynamics of the older, more mature Tony Stark (Ironman) mentoring Peter Parker (Spiderman), as he is basically auditioning to be an Avenger.

And you loved getting to see Spiderman in his own movie. After all, you have so many Spiderman t-shirts, as well as a Spiderman bath towel, Spiderman water hose sprayer, Spiderman toothbrush, and Spiderman Band-Aids, it was about time you got to actually see Spiderman on the big screen.

Granted, we had to get there an hour before the movie started just to get a seat, even though it wasn’t even opening weekend. And then there were 30 minutes of commercials and previews before the movie began. So by the time we stopped by Moe’s for dinner afterwards, we were gone for about 4 and a half hours!

In less than a month, you’ll be starting 1st grade. I’d say it’s been a great summer for you. So many field trips, road trips, and even violin lessons.

Not to mention, you’ve got a week-long stay at Nonna and Papa’s coming up. I know you’ll love that! But as for this coming weekend, I believe you and I will be back at the movies…

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: You’re Growing Up Faster (in My Mind) than Your Brother Did

1 year, 2 months.

Dear Holly,

Last weekend Mommy and I were talking about just how quickly it seems like you’re growing up. Now that you’re confidently walking everywhere, it seems like the crawling stage was so short lived for you.

One theory we came up with is that with your brother, Mommy and I were clueless, being first time parents. The whole process was an ongoing learning curve that really didn’t slow down until your brother was around 3 years-old.

But he’s 6 and a half now. Not a whole lot has changed in his development and the way we have parented him in the past 3 years. We’ve basically been on autopilot, to some degree, for the 2nd half of his life.

So when you showed up over a year ago, Mommy and I already had previous experience to use as a guideline. I think just that alone makes it so much easier to raise you during these younger years.

But it also has a perceived effect in which it seems like you’re growing up faster than your brother did. Similarly, I’ve been telling Mommy how, from the beginning, it’s been easier for me to emotionally connect to you than it was for me to connect to your brother.

Actually, I specifically remember your brother being 15 months-old before I felt like more than a shadow to him. But with you, I’ve always felt you’ve acknowledged me. (You’ll be 15 months old in a few days, by the way.)

You’re always excited to see me when I get home from work. You recognize that I’m fun to be around. With your brother, I was nothing if Mommy was in the room too.

Maybe that instant connection I’ve had with you is something to do with this being my second time around as a parent- and that naturally, I am providing a more natural and accommodating environment for you; as compared to how I was with your brother when he was your age.

Either way, I’m glad you like me so much!

Love,

Daddy

The Bondaroo by Dadware: A Skin-to-Skin Bonding Shirt for Dads with Their Infant

One of the fun perks of being a daddy blogger is receiving new products from companies, as they cleverly use my platform as a way to get the word out about their goods. Typically when I receive these types of inquiries, my response is, “Sure! Send it my way.”

And that’s what brings us to today’s blog post. Yes, as you can see, I am modelling The Bondaroo by Dadware for you. It’s a really soft polo style shirt with a Velcro opening to place your infant, which allows for skin-to-skin bonding.

This is to not only to promote the release of Vasopressin and Oxytocin hormones in Dad and baby, but also to help boost the immune system in newborns.

Obviously, at 14 months old, my baby daughter Holly is no longer a newborn. Instead, she’s walking now. For what it’s worth though, I attempted to “capture” her in my Bondaroo as I hovered down over her as she was playing on the floor, but my plan was unsuccessful. She just resisted and escaped.

So instead, I decided to use her stunt double, Dolly, who is the size Holly was a year ago.

 

Of course, my soon-to-be a 1st grader son also agreed to help me show how the Bondaroo works; even though, like his sister, he’s a little too tall and mobile for the product.

Obviously, the Bondaroo is a way for newborns (not 6 year-olds, 1 year-olds, or dolls) to bond with their father. I think it’s a really cool idea. So forgive me for not being able to properly model how this product works, but I’m sure you get the idea.

Also, if you’re thinking about getting a Bondaroo for a soon-to-be dad, I recommend buying one size larger than he actually is.

I’m 5’ 9” and 160 pounds; I always wear size large for my shirts. However, they sent me an XL instead. I’m glad they did, because it fit the exactly the same way a size large shirt from Gap fits me.

Thanks for sharing in this learning experience with me about The Bondaroo by Dadware.