Dear Holly: You Just Have So Much to Say These Days!

2 years, 7 months.

Dear Holly,

It is very obvious that your social skills are in full bloom. You are speaking so many words now and initiating so many conversations these days, that in can be challenging for Mommy and me to keep up with you.

In particular, the hour between the time I get home from work and the time dinner is ready can be a bit complicated.

While Mommy and I try to catch up after not seeing each other all day as she is making dinner, and while we also do our best to include your brother in the conversation, you are needing to meet your daily word quota during the midst of it. You have so much to say to us!

Your brother has been helping us out, though. He’s been sharing his toys with you to help keep you occupied and focused.

He even let you hang out in his new box that contained his new bunk bed we ordered. You are just so social and full of energy!



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.



Are American Restaurants Still Ignoring Vegans as Potential Customers? As a Millennial Vegan Daddy Blogger, I Say Yes.

Today I was contacted by a brand promoter for Applebee’s, who invited me to participate in their newest campaign, “There’s No Shame in Being a Meat and Potatoes Man.” I would have received a gift card for my family to dine at Applebee’s, as I promoted the following options for the modern Meat-and-Potatoes Dad:

Topped Steaks & Twisted Potatoes Line-Up:

  • 3 Steak Choices:  6 ounce USDA Choice Top Sirloin, 8 ounce USDA Choice Top Sirloin, 12 ounce USDA Choice Top Sirloin
  • 3 Steak Topper Choices:  Tavern Mushroom & Onion, Savory Herb & Butter Sauce, Creamy Horseradish & Gravy Topper
  • 3 Twisted Potato Side Choices (pick 1):  Twisted Tots, Loaded Potato Casserole Back, Loaded Garlic Mashed Potatoes
  • 1 Perfect Side: Fresh Broccoli

Hey, I would have appreciated the free meal for my family and would have had a lot of fun promoting Applebee’s here on my blog. One small problem, though…

I am a vegan and my wife and kids are vegetarians.

It’s not that big of a deal that I don’t eat meat. Not eating meat or animal products (for health reasons, not necessarily for animals’ rights), is becoming somewhat normal. In fact, this past summer Moe’s Southwest Grill actually hired me as a freelance writer to promote how vegan-friendly and vegetarian-friendly their menu is.

Some restaurants, like Moe’s Southwest Grill, are able to perceive a shift has occurred in the eating habits of health conscious Millennials, like myself, and how that has an effect on my family’s spending habits at restaurants.

When you Google “how much of the American population is vegan?”, one of the top answers that shows up is an article from, which claims that there currently 6 million vegans in America!

And that in itself is a 6% increase since 2014, when only 1% of the American population identified as vegan. That’s a significant increase!

Isn’t 6% of the population significant enough that restaurants would at least try to cater to folks like us?
My guess is, apparently not. Apparently there are people who are better than I am at math (and who have done enough market research) and have decided that vegans aren’t worth the trouble to get in their restaurants; even though we currently account for 6% of the American population.
Imagine all that collective money that American restaurants aren’t making from families like mine. Oh well.
With that being said, here’s my casting call to any restaurants out there who would like a Millennial vegan daddy blogger with good SEO on his blog to promote the “vegan-friendly” aspect of their restaurant.
Any takers?

American Plastic Toys: Study ‘n Play Desk & Chair and School Bus Ride-On

Since the beginning of the summer, it has been a daily routine that my daughter and I go outside on the back porch and play golf, thanks to American Plastic Toys sending us their outdoor sports equipment for children.

With fall is on its way and now that the new school year has begun, American Plastic Toys sent us some more goodies; this time for inside.

Little Holly now has a little chair and desk for to play on, as she watches her older brother Jack sit down to do his homework after school. And actually, Jack has been using the chair to sit on as he puts on his socks and shoes each morning before we leave for school.

Plus, Little Holly also has a tiny school bus to ride on or push across the floor.

I love seeing her pretend to be a bus driver as she practices getting herself into the seat, and that once she finally is able to, it’s as if she reminds herself, “Hey, wait… I can move this much faster if I just stand behind it and push it!”

Of course, her older brother likes to push her, too. I am amazed at how she is willing to be pushed so fast. Really, she should like going that fast, but she’s all about adventure; so it all works out in the end.

The bus is just the perfect size for her. She has another pushing/riding toy, but this new one is the ideal height for a 15 month-old little girl. It’s also very light, which makes it very easy for her to turn around as she pushes it back and forth from the living room to the kitchen.

And of course, as the name implies, American Plastic Toys are actually made in America! Imagine that.

We are the Strange Neighbors Who Actually Use Our Garage to Park Both Our Cars In

We are the Strange Neighbors Who Actually Use Our Garage to Park Both Our Cars In

These days, when you live in a suburban bedroom community like we do, the norm is to see one, if not both, vehicles parked in the driveway… not the garage.

Yes, that sort of defeats the purpose- why have a 2 car garage if you don’t use it to park your 2 cars in?

The answer becomes evident the moment you drive by these houses when their garage doors happen to be up.

You will see unpacked boxes, kids’ riding toys, and lawn care equipment; among other random items. I often see garages simply turned in to man caves.

It has become the cultural norm in neighborhoods like mine to use a 2 car garage for storing junk, in addition to items normally found in a garage.

My theory is that this is not happening simply because people have too much junk; though I definitely believe that’s a big part of it, as middle class Americans.

I would have to think the main reason is because garages in cookie cutter neighborhoods like mine are smaller than the garages our parents’ houses had in the 1980s and 1990s, where living in a bedroom community wasn’t necessary, as so many of us grew up in small towns where there were still jobs; before everything moved to China.

A 2 car garage is a selling point when showing a home to a commuter family like mine. We don’t care how big the garage actually is, as long as we can 2 cars in there if we wanted to.

But by the time the family moves in the house, it becomes more practical for them to store their junk in the garage than it is to figure out how to carefully park both vehicles in there each day.

As for me, though, my wife is the equivalent to the lovable Jewish character on Friends, Monica Geller.

There is no such thing as “junk” in our house. If it ever existed, it got thrown out long ago.

Every weekend we clean our entire house. No junk gets left behind, trust me.

We are the Strange Neighbors Who Actually Use Our Garage to Park Both Our Cars In

Please note that on my own, I wouldn’t be this disciplined. But as part of a married couple, and as a family, we live a deliberate lifestyle in which park both cars in our garage every day.

By no means does that make us better than the majority; if anything, it makes us strange in the neighborhood.

Yesterday I drove home from work in the 2015 Lexus GX that our family will be reviewing this weekend.

As large as it is, I made it fit. I had to move the garbage can as well as my son’s wagon, but I made it work. Fortunately, the back door swings out, so I can still access the very back even with the garage door closed.

I just can’t bring myself to park a car in the driveway when I have a garage. Not to mention, I’m always paranoid someone will break into my car at night if I just leave it outside; despite the extremely low crime rate where I live- where the speed limit is 20, and there are cops proactively patrolling all the time. I even the lock the car doors after I’ve already shut the garage door.

But again, I’m the strange neighbor.

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


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.

Understanding The Psychology Behind Gambling: New Infograph Included

Last week I published, Lottery Commercials Don’t Target People Who Are Good Money Managersin which I explained how I ultimately am not a target for those who advertise lottery tickets.

While I’m not personally opposed to a lottery, I feel I’m good enough at math and good enough at responsibly managing my money than to buy a lottery ticket on a regular basis.

I know that my chances of maintaining an overall better cash flow, for a permanent basis, depend on me having paid off my debts, saving and investing my money afterwards, and not playing the game of trying to impress people with faux status symbols, like leased vehicles; as I explained in A True “Status Symbol” Is A Paid Off One, Including Our New House (Which Is Not).

So I couldn’t help but notice that this infographic below, Psychology of Gambling, seems to back up why I avoid that particular mindset in my everyday life.

The infographic points out the illusion of control, the sense of reward, the excitement of chance, and our natural sense on optimism when gambling…

Or in my opinion, choosing to play the “American lifestyle game” in which we try to impress people we don’t care about with that things we bought with money we don’t have. (I sort of style that line from Dave Ramsey!)


Infographic, courtesy of