Dear Jack: Your Ghost Tour Field Trip in Downtown Franklin, Tennessee near Mellow Mushroom

7 years, 11 months.

Dear Jack,

Yesterday was quite an adventure for you. As part of your school’s enrichment program this week for fall break, you got to go on a “ghost tour” with your friends.

A tour guide hopped on your school bus in the nearby town of Franklin, and told everyone ghost stories that apparently took place in those old buildings downtown; near Mellow Mushroom, actually.

Needless to say, last night’s dinner conversations were monopolized by you amazingly recalling every detail of each ghost story you heard.

Ghost soldiers from The Civil war in the basement of the old bank.

Ghost dogs in the yard.

Ghost owls in the barn.

So while I did feel kind of bad about you having to be at school when school was actually out for fall break, I quickly realized that going on a ghost tour was probably more fun than staying home would have been anyway.

Just watch out for those ghost cows at night, mooing in the field behind our house.

 

Love,

Daddy

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Dear Holly: The Purple Popsicle Incident

2 years, 5 months.

Dear Holly,

Last night during dinner, you willingly ate all of the food Mommy had put on your plate, but you also made it clear throughout dinner that you had an agenda.

I heard you keep optimistically muttering, “I get purple Popsicle…”

This is an idea you crafted on your own. No one had even been talking about the frozen grape juice treats in the freezer.

But I suppose you had caught a glimpse of them at some point while Mommy was making dinner.

After finishing all the food on your plate, without saying a word, you just hopped out of your chair, ran over to the freezer, and brought me the Popsicle to unwrap for you.

No words were needed.

You know me. You know how to negotiate.

It was fair deal: Eat all your dinner, then just correctly assume I’ll let you have a Popsicle without any fuss.

You finished about half of your treat before you had your fill. Not to mention, you got a little concerned with you looked down and announced, “Oh no! Boo boo!”

I then explained that it was just part of the Popsicle that had dripped down on your leg.

You had become a purple mess.

Love,

Daddy

Where I Ended Up Exactly One Year After Losing My Job: 6 Months In at a Fortune 500 Company, With a 62% Pay Increase

Today makes exactly one year since I lost my job in HR and Recruiting in the transportation industry, after working at the same place for over 11 years. The company essentially shut down an entire branch all at once, meaning that dozens of us left the office for the final time that day, with a 2 weeks’ severance pay on the way out.

For the next 6 months, I proudly adopted the title of “Stay at Home Dad”, as our daughter was only a year and a half. During that amount of time (and as I still continue to do now), I made a side income from managing my 2 YouTube channels along with this blog, as well as working as a contracted SEO Specialist for Vanderbilt University’s Biostatistics Department.

I also applied for 107 jobs, updated my LinkedIn, and prayed to God that I would find favor with the right people.

One of those jobs was for a Fortune 500 Company; right across the interstate from where I had worked all those years.

It’s funny because I had always dreamed of one day, being able to work in one of those half dozen identical 6 story buildings; not even knowing which employers were actually in them.

Exactly 6 months after losing my job, I received a call from that Fortune 500 company. I went in for the interview the day before my 37th birthday.

I didn’t realize what a big deal it was that I had more than a decade of recruiting experience specifically in the trucking industry and that I had even voluntarily took a course in HR a few years back; specializing in Emotional Intelligence.

But the manager did. And I was offered the job on the spot.

That was 6 months ago.

Since then, I have thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of applying everything I have learned over the years, here at my new job.

It’s pretty rewarding to think: There are a lot of things I’m not good at- but somehow, I am totally wired to be a recruiter; to handle the hiring side of HR.

I have a talent for managing chaos; which is ultimately what recruiting is, especially in the transportation industry. I am well qualified for a job that is well in demand these days.

Finally after all these years, I can feel that my English degree and my more than a decade of recruiting and retention experience has paid off… literally:

In a year’s time, I now make 62% more than I did at my old job, where I was actually in a management role.

Granted, my wife and I are Dave Ramsey followers. So we’re simply carrying over all our extra income into paying off the principal on our home mortgage, as well as savings.

And yes, that’s still the same old paid off 2004 Honda Element there in the picture behind me. (I’ve owned it since January 2006.)

Even though I could buy, in cash, the Jeep Wrangler that I have wanted all these years, it’s more important to me to manage this extra income wisely.

After joining the work force with thousands in student loans and getting married a few years later in 2008, during the recession, and learning to live off a lot less for so many years, it’s hard to imagine living any other way at this point.

So yeah… it’s been an interesting year for me.

Dear Jack: Nothing Like Taking Home a Big Jug of Live Bugs

7 years, 10 months.

Dear Jack,

Last Saturday morning, you took a walk with Papa around the yard, collecting bugs and placing them in a huge plastic jug. You also tossed some leaves and grass in there as well.

You loved getting to see a spider, a hornet, and a cricket interact with each other in your portable bio-dome; along with a few other random, smaller bugs.

During the entire 3 hour-long ride back from Nonna and Papa’s house in Alabama to our house in Tennessee, you gave me a constant play-by-play of what the status was inside the jar:

“Daddy! The cricket just fell off a leaf and landed on top of the spider but then he jumped off the spider onto another leaf!”

Maybe you should carry along a jar of live bugs for every road trip from now on. It was pure entertainment for you.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: You Want Everything for “My Christmas”

2 years, 5 months.

Dear Holly,

Last weekend while we stayed at Nonna and Papa’s house, I noticed you debuted a new catchphrase: “I want it for my Christmas.”

After you saw a coloring book that had a picture of Daisy Duck on it, then you immediately announced, “I, I want Daisy for my Christmas.”

When you played with the Cozy Coupe, it was, “I, I want this car for my Christmas.”

And even with each newly discovered vintage stuffed animal you found at their house, “I, I want this one for my Christmas… for my Christmas.”

Your brother tried to explain to you, “Holly, you don’t have to wait for Christmas. Nonna will just give you that old thing right now. Go ask her and she will say yes.”

But right now, you want everything for your Christmas.

 

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: You’ll Be Turning 8 Years Old Next Month!

7 years, 10 months.

Now that it’s October, it occurred to me: You’ll be turning 8 next month!

Just like for your 5th birthday, you have chosen a family road trip to Destin, Florida; instead of a birthday party.

Considering that we’ll be staying for free using hotel points and that Chevy will be sending us a Suburban filled with a full tank of gas, we’ll actually be able to have a pretty amazing road trip cheaper than it would cost to throw you a birthday party around here in Nashville.

I think you’re making a very smart decision. Why have a party when you can have a road trip with the fam?

 

Dear Jack,

Love,

Daddy

I Became an Overweight Vegan By Not Getting Enough Complete Protein, So Now I’m Trying Amazing Grass Protein Superfood…

After 5 and a half years of being a vegan, I have now come to the realization that the skeptics were actually right, in their concern that I wouldn’t get enough protein. But not in the way any of us expected:

It’s not that I ever became weak, lightheaded, or underweight.

Instead, my dyshidrotic eczema and allergy and sinus problems went away, and for the past 3 years, I have remained an overweight vegan.

Whereas for the first year or so of being a vegan I did lose weight, getting down to 156 pounds and size 31 pants, and I am not back to being over 170 pounds and am now only able to fit into a few pairs of my 32 size pants. And by the way, I’m not tall: I’m 5′ 9″.

My vegan weight gain has occurred for more than one reason…

First, these days there are vegan options for everything, including ice cream; which my wife and I were eating nearly every night as a “reward” for making it through a never hectic day raising two kids, while both working our full-time jobs, plus running our side hustles (including doing SEO for a major university, running two YouTube channels, and managing this blog).

Second, I was overeating. My first year of being a vegan taught me that I could ultimately eat as much of any vegan food I wanted, and I would still fit into my size 31 pants. But eventually, I started gaining my pre-vegan weight back, and I never went back to eating sensible portions.

And third, this whole time, without realizing it, I have never consistently been getting enough complete proteins

Last Sunday after church, I happened to meet a personal trainer while our families were at Starbucks at the same time. His name is Mark Glesne and he explained to me that initially, I was losing weight because my body wasn’t getting the right kinds of protein, so I was losing muscle mass.

But eventually, my body bottomed out on being able to extract its protein nutrients from my muscle, so it has since went into famine mode, therefore producing extra fat as a back-up plan to survive on.

So for the past week, I have been researching and experimenting on what exactly these “vegan complete proteins” are.

I thought peanut butter was good for protein… nope, it counts it as fat.

I thought broccoli was good for protein… nope, my body counts it as carbs.

Instead, “complete proteins” look more like this:

A can of chickpeas and a slice of Ezekiel bread.

Chia seeds and almonds.

Rice and beans.

So in theory, I must make it a daily priority to pack in as much complete proteins as I can, so that my body will recognize that I am now consuming enough, so it will stop producing the same level of fat and build muscle instead.

I have decided to make an investment in Amazing Grass Protein Superfood, since it contains 27% of my daily complete proteins, consisting of 20 grams.

If you’re in the same situation as me, you can click on this click to buy Amazing Grass Protein Superfood for the lowest price on Amazon.

I look forward to seeing if greatly increasing my amount of protein will actually cause me to lose weight, as I am currently an overweight vegan.

Amazing Grass Protein Superfood Pure Vanilla Description
  • ALL in ONE Nutrition Shake
  • Daily Plant-Based Nutrition
  • One Scoop. Stir. Smile.
  • 20g Complete Protein • 7 Alkalizing Greens
  • 2 Servings Fruits & Veggies • Wholefood Nutrition Shake
  • Gluten Free • No Sugar Added
  • USDA Organic • Non-GMO
  • Kosher

This organic, all-in-one nutritional shake thoughtfully combines the alkalizing farm fresh greens with nutrient-dense fruits and veggies plus 20g of plant-based protein. With a smooth vanilla flavor and satisfying texture, this superfood combo is a convenient way to get the whole food nutrition your body needs with an amazing flavor your taste buds will love.

Nutrition Made Easy

  • 7 Alkalizing Greens: Wheat Grass, Barley Grass, Alfalfa, Spirulina, Chlorella, Broccoli and Spinach
  • Protein: Pea, Chia, Quinoa and Hemp
  • Fruits & Veggies: Beet, Carrot, Sweet Potato, Goji, Acai, Banana and More…

The Amazing Grass Promise

Amazing Grass organically grows & harvests the most nutrient-rich greens on their family farms in Kansas & craft them with the highest quality plant-based ingredients curated from like-minded farmers around the world.

Honestly Grown. Thoughtfully Harvested. Simply Enjoyed.

Promotes Lean Muscle • Satisfies Hunger • Nourishing Energy • Aids Digestion


Suggested Use: Add one scoop with 12 fl oz. or more of water, milk or smoothie.

Best kept in a cool, dry place after opening.

Free Of

Gluten, GMOs, added sugar.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Other Ingredients: Protein Blend: (organci pea protein, organic hemp protein, organic chia, organic quinoa), Green Food Blend (organic wheat grass, organic alfalfa, organic barley grass, organic spinach, organic spirulina, organic chlorella (cracked cell-wall), organic broccoli), Fruit & Vegetable BlendOther Ingredients: Organic vanilla flavor, natural vanilla flavor, xanthan gum, organic stevia, organic madagascar vanilla.

All flavors used by Amazing Grass® are Organic Compliant, All Natural, Kosher Pareve and Vegan. Not a low calorie food.