Dear Jack: Our Family’s New Saturday Morning Tradition

12 years old.

Dear Jack,

It is now family tradition each Saturday morning that we hang out at The Factory at Franklin, which is about 30 minutes from our house.

This started about a month ago, when I suggested our family go get a donut from Five Daughters Bakery, and then over to Honest Coffee Roasters.

While there, we walked through a shop that had an Enneagram book on display, that decided to buy on a whim.

I turned to the chapter on Enneagram 6, which is what I am, and I read, “My idea of relaxation: A quiet Saturday morning with people I love.”

And now we go to the Franklin Factory every Saturday morning; knowing that however busy our weekend may be, we can at least start it out with a time of fun and relaxation together as a family.

 

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park”

4 years, 10 months. 

Dear Jack,

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park”

For our final stop of our Camry family road trip across northern California, we drove from Monterey to Santa Cruz, before ultimately heading back to Sacramento, where Mommy’s side of the family is from.

Mommy had told me that once before she had been to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk Beach Amusement Park and thought our family would really love it.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park”

So we put it on the agenda, following our trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Here’s my video I made about our trip there:

To get going, we stopped at Staff of Life’s Café Del Sol for some vegan donuts. I know that to an outsider that may not seem like that big of a deal, but for a vegan dad like me, it’s epic.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park”

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park”

Where we live in Nashville, there is no easy access to vegan donuts; they definitely don’t sell them at our Whole Foods. It would be different if we lived in Portland, Oregon; which I hear is the “Vegan Donut Capitol of the World.”

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park”

But where we live, donuts made without eggs and milk basically cease to exist. Therefore, we enjoyed our breakfast!

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park”

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park”

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park”

When we arrived at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, we had about 45 minutes to walk there on the beach; since we had arrived before the amusement park itself had opened yet.

Our family budgeted $50 for the 2 hours we were there; and we based on the 2 hour time limit on how much we were willing to pay the parking meter.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park”

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park”

You definitely wanted to play some games, so bought $50 worth of tickets so we could go on two rides with all 3 of us, then let you go on several rides by yourself, then spend the rest on games.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park”

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park”

I loved how ambitious you were! You rode your very first roller coaster with Mommy and me: the Sea Serpent. It was pretty thrilling for a boy who’s not quite 5 years old yet.

But at 42 inches tall, you were just tall enough to be permitted to ride.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park”

Our other family ride was the Cave Train Adventure, where we were able to “time travel” to the days of caveman and dinosaurs; it was completely dark in there, except for the black lights.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park”

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park”

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park”

For your individual rides, you were able to fly a plane as well as a drive a monster SUV, a boat, an orca whale, and a big rig truck. You loved it all!

And then there were the carnival games…

I made sure you only played the games with the sign that read, “A winner every time!”

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park”

Your best venture was Bob’s Fishin’ Hole. On the first try, we accidently figured out that the blue fish, which flowed further away from the ledge nearest you, were the heavier fish, which were worth the biggest prizes.

So you caught 3 blue fish and one the biggest prize they had: A giant blue pirate fish stuffed animal. On the first try!

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park”

By the end our 2 hours, you had a prize in each of the 3 sizes.

We returned to the Camry with 7 minutes to spare, then he finished our day with dinner at Whole Foods, where we enjoyed more vegan donuts.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park”

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park”

And finally, that’s it.

That’s our whole Camry family road trip. We had a blast. I look forward to next year when we travel to San Diego for your Uncle Jake’s wedding.

Love,

Daddy

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Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Daddy Date”

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Daddy Date”

healthnutshell: What Exactly is Food, These Days?

We all play with some kind of fire.  And we all know that the less we do it, the less likely are we to get burned.

I mean, I shouldn’t have to ask what constitutes as food, but it has kind of gotten to that point.  Can we really count soda and fast food and processed snacks as food?  It tastes good and is for the most part digested by our bodies, but what if it does more harm to our bodies than good?  Is that food?

I went to the place I get most of my research, a place I see as the most practical and relevant.  Wikipedia defines food as any substance, composed of carbohydrates, water, fats and/or proteins, that is either eaten or drunk by any animal, including humans, for nutrition or pleasure”.

Dang it.  And dag gum.  I was really hoping the words “or pleasure” were not part of that definition.  I wanted to make a good point about how America is not actually eating food anymore because food is for nutrition only, not pleasure alone.  But the word “or” messes that up for me.  That definition means the sole purpose of eating for food can be for just pleasure, not attached with nutrtion.

So based on that definition of food, all I can do is say this:

But if eating for nutrition seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day why you eat, whether for the nutrition that your forefathers ate which prevented cancer and disease, or for the pleasure-giving gods of the Americans, in whose land you are living, who let you become sick and cause you to have a lower quality of life and cause you to depend on a national health care plan that upsets many people.  But as for me and my household, we will eat for nutrition.

When we use our outward appearance as the only indicator of our health, we’re doing ourselves a disservice.  The thought:  “I can eat a decent amount of fried foods and have just one soda a day and be alright, because I don’t really gain any weight.”  Dangerous thought.  Not for now, but for later.

I’m less concerned about how much I weigh and how I look, and instead completely concerned that I won’t have a bad heart or Diabetes by the time I’m 50.  That’s only about 20 years from now.

It’s all a matter of putting this into perspective.  Until we truly understand what we are doing, why change?

For example, take my original theory that eating one tablespoon worth of sugar (12 grams) in food is equal to smoking one cigarette.  I refuse to even drink 8 ounces of orange juice because it’s equal to about two tablespoons of sugar (22 grams).

Read  “healthnutshell: A Tablespoon of Sugar or a Cigarette?” http://wp.me/pxqBU-sf

In my mind, drinking a small glass of orange juice is equal to smoking two cigarettes.  Despite the fact orange juice is loaded with vitamins and cigarettes are not, the concentrated sugar, over time, can do more harm than good.  Besides that, the fruit should be eaten whole because the flesh of the fruit needs to be consumed several times a day by the human body anyway.  Eaten, not drunk.

What makes this concept even more real to me is this:  I have smoked a few cigars in my lifetime.  Not a lot.  Literally just a few.  And just for the record, I like them.  No denying that.

But it’s hard to truly enjoy something I outright know gives cancer to people, over time.  Will I smoke another cigar in my lifetime?  Yes.  Will I start regularly smoking them or cigarettes?  No.

I translate this to food I eat:  Will I eat a big fat juicy cheeseburger from Chili’s again in my life?  Yes.  Will I start regularly going through the Wendy’s drive-thru?  No.

Will I sometimes take my wife out on a Friday night to get us each a “Like It” ice cream from Cold Stone Creamery?  Absolutely yes!  Will I start buying ice cream and keeping it in the freezer at our house every week?  No.

This parallel between tobacco and bad eating habits has been so helpful to me.  Because there’s an obvious stigma with tobacco, but people tend to laugh off bad dieting as just another failed New Year’s resolution.

By taking the matter into my own hands by smoking a few cigars, it helped me register the “badness” of the sugary and fatty and processed foods I’ve eaten most of my life.  Both can kill a person eventually, when consumed enough.  Now I equate a cigar with a banana split (up to 8 tablespoons of sugar).

So I ask myself:  How often can I smoke a cigar, being that I do enjoy it?

Depends.  How often can I eat out at restaurants (which if nothing else, will load up the food will sodium which will cause heart disease) as compared to cooking at home?  How often can I go a whole day without eating any fresh vegetables or fruit in the name of inconvenience? How often can I go back for seconds?  How often can I get dessert?

Over some mysterious amount of time, that accumulative next cigar or next bottle of soda will cause a serious a problem health.  But if it’s done very sparingly, it’ll probably be okay.  It’s a gamble.  For anyone who eats sugary, fattening, and/or processed foods or uses tobacco of any kind.

So the question is, no matter which consumable pleasure we choose, how often are we willing to gamble our heath?

Read the indirect sequel: healthnutshell: That’s Not Food  http://wp.me/pxqBU-DY





“I Deserve It” is Evidently a Magical Password that Excuses Splurges and Thrills

There is a magical phrase that anyone can say to themselves which in their own mind convinces them that the action they are about to do is completely permissible and justifiable. A saying so lofty yet so down-to-Earth. So universal and relatable:

“I deserve it.”

It’s not designed for a person who is about to commit a major crime or infidelity. Instead, it’s the password we use right before we commit those little Sanity Nourishments like Starbuck’s, a purchase at Best Buy, and randomly eating out on a weekday when he have a perfectly good, ready to be cooked meal at home.

This behavior was made obvious to me last week when on two different occasions (once at church and once at work) someone brought in two boxes of superb donuts. Not the boring Krispy Kreme’s with no cream as the name implies. Instead they were the donut equivalent to a big box of Whitman’s Samplers chocolates.

Here is what I have learned from eating donuts: One more is never enough. The only stopping point for me is nausea. If it’s possible to sin simply by eating donuts, I stand on grounds of being ex-communicated.

And the way I get myself into that situation every time… “I deserve it.”

What does that even mean? I deserve it? How? What did I do to give myself such credibility?

Since it’s something pretty much everyone tells themselves from time to time, evidently the qualifications to say “I deserve this” are by simply staying alive and managing not to murder anyone.

dunkin