Dear Holly: You Love Watching Peppa Pig While Eating Your Cereal in the Morning

4 years, 9 months.

Dear Holly,

Each morning as I am leaving for the gym before work, I kiss you goodbye as you are eating your peanut butter chocolate cereal at the kitchen table; while you watch Peppa Pig on Mommy’s old cell phone.

Last Sunday you ended up with about $17 to burn; after Mommy sold some of your old toys and clothes. What did you spend it on? A Peppa Pig playhouse that we found at Target for that exact amount.

Peppa Pig is a pretty big deal to you these days! And you start off the day with her every morning.



Stay-at-Home Dad 101: Trick Your Kids into Eating Store Brand Cereal by Switching the Boxes

After my “drinking and driving” incident at the grocery store, I arrived home and took my Eggnog Latte-infused daughter upstairs for her afternoon nap. Then it was time to put away the groceries, which were still in the back of the car.

My wife had clearly written “Cheerios” on the scavenger hunt list, but after seeing I could easily save three dollars by buying the store brand, I did the right moral thing.

Sure, I personally would prefer the real version, but I also would prefer to save three dollars more than the classic perfect taste of that General Mills goodness.

As I was about to make room for the Kroger version of Cheerios in the pantry, I noticed there was only a little bit left of the actual Cheerios still in the bag. I learned at the grocery store that my daughter already has brand recognition with that yellow box.

So I emptied the remaining few ounces of the real Cheerios out of the bag and poured them into the fake Cheerios bag. Then, I placed that entire mixed bag into the actual Cheerios box.

The next several days will serve as a proving grounds, as to whether my daughter will know the difference. If this works, I will feel very accomplished.

This will be a major win.

If it doesn’t work, I’ll have a disappointed, intuitive little girl who will call me out on my bluff without; being able to necessarily legitimately say the words.

She will likely scold me with, “Dad-da Cheer-cheer, no no Cheer cheer!”

Either way, with pride, I shall embrace my identity as the cheap dad who takes just a little bit of the fun out of life, for the sake of saving a few bucks.

Why have Cheerios when you can have Toasted Oats?

Dear Jack: The Ever-Hilarious and Glorious Choco Chimps

6 years, 3 months.

Dear Jack: The Ever-Hilarious and Glorious Choco Chimps

Dear Jack,

As a family, we rarely go grocery shopping together. Typically, Mommy goes to Kroger while I stay home with you and your sister Holly. But last Sunday after church, it was just easier to get the shopping out of the way, so we decided to turn it into a family affair.

At one point, I had turned the corner to pick up a few Kombucha drinks. When I came back, I heard Mommy saying to you, “You’ll have to ask Daddy when he gets back…”

You looked up and saw me. Holding the brown box of chocolate corn puffs, which featured a joyous chimpanzee on the cover, you asked me with a cautious yet hopeful tone:

“Daddy, can I have Choco Chimps?”

Seriously, how could I say no? A 6 year-old boy with big blue eyes had just asked me such a ridiculous sounding question, with such a straight face.

(Just add the phrase Choco Chimps to anything you say and I’m probably going to laugh.)

The only problem was, I couldn’t stop laughing. For the rest of the time I was in the store, I kept finding myself in fits of literally LOL-ing about the absurd thought of a chimpanzee who authentically loved chocolate cereal so much that it had to be named after him.

And then the thought that my own sweet son wanted to eat that chimpanzee’s famous cereal…

Though I’m sure you wanted to get aggravated with me for cracking up over the concept of Choco Chimps, you let it go since I obviously said yes.

This morning before you started getting ready for school, you asked, “Daddy, will you pour me some Choco Chimps?”

Amazingly, I didn’t laugh, but instead simply made you aware: “Yes, but just know, this is all that’s left in the box.”

You clearly loved Choco Chimps this week as, indicated by the empty box I placed in recycling.

As you enjoyed the last of your enchanted cereal, I was packing everything in the car. When I returned a few minutes later, the bathroom door was shut, as I heard you whispering to your sister. I opened to the door to see you holding your her; both of your seemingly surprised I found you so quickly.

Holly clearly enjoyed the impromptu game of hide-and-seek with you.

It was time to brush your teeth, so I sat your sister down near our feet; as she typically likes to crawl through them like a cat. However, she quietly (and suspiciously) just sat there on the carpet, right outside the open bathroom door.

After I finished brushing your teeth and had sent you over to the front door to put on your socks, I kneeled down to Holly, to find out why she was being atypically non-curious.

I saw that her fist was closed, as she tried not to make it obvious she had a glorious treasure inside. Then with my thumb, I pried openher fingers, to discover…

A Choco Chimp!

Looks like little sister managed to convey the message, even without words:

“Brother, can I have a Choco Chimp?”



The Curious Case of Collecting

Collect them all… whiles supplies last!

The marketing teams working for our favorite kids’ cereals brands and fast food restaurants obviously had a good reason to promote collecting the whole series of toys they attached with the food they were selling: to increase profit. But what is strange is the way my actual response was often “sure, okay” or “I won’t make any promises, but I’ll try”. Because in the bottom drawer of my dresser at my parents’ house back in Alabama are several complete collections of plastic figurines.

A few months ago I gladly let a co-worker borrow my Dave Ramsey CD series on Financial Peace. Within a few weeks, she was no longer employed where I work. When I called her to say I’ll drive to her side of Nashville to get my CD’s back, she assured me that she will bring them to me when she’s finished with them. I waited two more months and called again- her phone is out of service.

The funny thing is, I don’t even need the CD’s. I’ve already listened to them and daily apply what I learned. At this point, I should consider them a gift that she needed more than I did. In fact, I didn’t even buy the CD’s myself. Someone gave them to me as a gift.

But they were MINE. And now she has them.

Why must I feel so compelled to want to possess things? Things I definitely don’t need. Things that aren’t even mine.

I am learning to convert this desire of collecting material items to collecting memories of new experiences instead. Collecting all the state quarters does me no good but travelling to random states like Rhode Island (which my wife and I did) stays with me. And I don’t even need a souvenir. As long as I have a memory, I’ll always remember when my wife and I got hot stone massages from two very strong hippie women in downtown Providence. And if one day my memory does fail me, I’ve got the pictures on facebook to remind me.

“There’s something missing in us, we long to make it whole. Though it never feels like it, I know you have it all.” -Pete Yorn (Social Development Dance)

Reading the Backs of Cereal Boxes for Entertainment

The childhood habit lives on in me today.

An important part of being a kid at the grocery store with your mom was getting to decide which goofy cereal to commit to that week.  My mom always let my sister and I each pick out our own box of cereal to enjoy for the next seven days, given that the first ingredient was not sugar.  Back then, in the late ‘80’s and early ‘90’s, the Major Three (Kellogg’s, General Mills, and Post) were all about competing with each other by seeing who could give the coolest toy in the bottom of the box.

But aside from the rainbow colored oat bits, unnecessary marshmallows, and the free sticky octopus toy that would cling to the wall when you threw it, there was still that entertaining back of the cereal box to look at.  Mazes, crossword puzzles, “can you find?…” pictures.  Enough entertainment to stay preoccupied to the point that you almost forget your brother or sister is sitting there just a few feet away trying to find Barney Rubble hiding behind a Stegosaurus on the back of the Fruity Pebbles box.

Because without the barriers of those boxes in front of us at the kitchen table, that meant that we might accidently look at each other, or purposely look at each other, to “bother” the other person.  As a kid, there were a plethora of ways to be annoyed by your sibling, and for some reason, being looked at was one of them.  I thought it was just my sister and I that had to read the backs of cereal boxes so we “wouldn’t have to look at each other”, but after recently walking down the cereal isle at Publix with my wife, revisiting our favorite childhood cereals, I learned it was the same way at her house.  So I can only assume this is an American phenomenon- an expected part of Saturday morning breakfasts.

Now as an adult, I still read the backs of my cereal boxes.  Learned habit, I’m sure.  I have to admit though, the back of the box of Shredded Wheat isn’t quite as fun as Lucky Charms always was.  And of course, no free prize at the bottom of the box either.