Dear Jack: Our Ride on “Those Animals” at the Opry Mills Mall in Nashville

5 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack: Our Ride on “Those Animals” at the Opry Mills Mall in Nashville

Dear Jack,

After we saw the premiere of the movie Pup Star last Saturday, we decided to walk around the Opry Mills Mall since we were already there. With that mall being about an hour from our house in Spring Hill, it’s not a place we get to go to often.

Nearly immediately after leaving the theatre and entering the main hall of the mall, you and were pleasantly surprised yet confused to see smiling children riding these giant stuffed animals.

They reminded me of blurry memories I have from my first summer teaching English in Thailand back in 2004. I remember seeing something like this in the bottom floor of a mall, but I think it just rocked back and forth a little bit after you put in a coin.

What you and I saw, though… it was different. Kids were actually driving these animals like a motorized scooter or something, but the vehicles were completely quiet.

Within a few minutes, we had walked far enough in the mall for the mystery to be solved. We had discovered the station for Those Animals; a service that enables children 6 and older to drive electric scooters around the mall.

Since you are 3 months shy of your 6th birthday, I had to ride with you, but it was more fun I did. With a 500 pound weight limit on the vehicle, my 162 pound body wasn’t a threat.

You managed the throttle and I handled the steering. We made the perfect team!

Out of the dozen or so animals to choose from, you quickly chose the red and black dragon. Perhaps the most amazing thing about this experience is how affordable it was.

It only cost $6 for a 10 minute ride.

After we got home and told Mommy about it, we decided that we’re taking you back to Opry Mills Mall for your 6th birthday in November.

We’re going to tour the mall, giving you an allowance for Build-a-Bear and The Lego Store, as well as at The Rainforest Café where we’ll be having lunch.

And of course, I’m sure we’ll take another ride on one of Those Animals. Maybe this time, we’ll ride longer than 10 minutes.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Our Ride on “Those Animals” at the Opry Mills Mall in Nashville

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Dear Jack: We Saw the Movie Pup Star (of Air Bud Entertainment) before Its Official Release on Digital HD on FandangoNOW

5 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack: We Saw the Movie Pup Star (of Air Bud Entertainment) before Its Official Release on DVD

Dear Jack,

The marketing team behind the upcoming movie Pup Star reached out to us, inviting you and me to see the movie this past Saturday morning, before its official release tomorrow on August 30th.

As much as you and I go to see movies together, we obviously jumped at the chance to drive to Opry Mills to see Pup Star during its limited theatrical release.

We had such a great time seeing the movie together! Pup Star is a family friendly road movie which features the adventures of a talking Yorkie who must reunite with her human family while also making it to the finals of a TV competition; like American Idol or The Voice, for dogs.

Your favorite character was Dog Marley. At church yesterday, you and your classmates were instructed to make something out of clay that you had never made before. What did you make?

Dog Marley.

This movie is part of the “Air Bud Universe”, which you are quite familiar with; having seen movie of these movies on Netflix before, like Air Bud: Spikes Back, Spooky Buddies, and Russell Madness.

Pup Star takes place in Chicago, New Orleans, New York City, Newark, and…

Nashville!

It was so cool seeing our city featured in the movie; having just passed the “Batman building” 30 minutes prior on the drive to the theatre.

After the movie ended, we were given some Pup Star-related souvenirs including a bag of doggie treats- the kind featured in the movie.

That evening, while Mommy was working on dinner, you and I took your baby sister Holly on a walk around our neighborhood, offering the doggie treats to neighbors walking their dogs.

I have a feeling we’ll be watching Pup Star again at some point. Hopefully, we’ll be invited back to see more Air Bud Entertainment movies as well.

Love,

Daddy

Parental Review: Stranger Things (Netflix Original Series- Season 1)

Parental Review: Stranger Things (Netflix Original Series- Season 1)

It appears that 2006 is the year for 1983.

First was this summer’s X-Men Apocalypse, and more recently, Disney’s reboot of Pete’s Dragon, both same in that marvelous year in history. And of course, Netflix’s Stranger Things.

I personally have had an obsession with 1983 since I was in Junior High, about a decade later. The culture, the style, the music, the movies, and the TV shows were so enjoyable.

Even John Mayer backs up my theory in his song, “83”, where he admits, “Had it make in ’83.”

So it makes sense to me that people today, in 2016, continue to enjoy seeing the year 1983 brought back to life.

Stranger Things

I am thoroughly impressed by the seemingly flawless way the Duffer Brothers have captured 1983 in their new sci-fi thriller, Stranger Things.

There is no question that Stranger Things is an exceptional TV show, like Breaking Bad and Lost.

Like the Stranger Things t-shirt above? Click here for the best price on Amazon!

But the question you might be asking, as a parent, is at what age Stranger Things would be appropriate for your child to watch.

While I can’t answer that question for you, I can give you a brief overview of elements of the show which ultimately give Stranger Things what I deem as the equivalent of an intense PG-13 rated movie.

Profanity:

While there are no major curse words, like “g—d—“ or “f—“, every episode contains multiple uses of “sh—“ and many of the episodes contain the phrase “son of a b—-“ and/or “d-ck”. I should point out that much of the the profanity is by the 12 year-old boys, in addition to the adult characters.

Sex/Nudity:

Most episodes are free of sensuality, but there is an early episode in which 2 teenagers (who are protagonists) engage in sexual activity. While no nudity is shown, the bedroom scene is not a quick one. The event is referenced briefly again in a later episode, in which the girl is referred to as a “sl-t” by the boy she had sex with.

Violence:

There is violence throughout the series, including a girl’s telepathic ability to break bones and even kill people. Additionally, there are many uses of guns and weapons.

Drugs/Alcohol:

There is occasional use of cigarettes and beer by some of the adult characters.

Dark Themes:

The overall theme of Stranger Things has to do with connecting to a darker, sinister parallel universe; as people are being taken there from the 1983 version of Indiana. Again, one of the main characters is able to excess her telepathic abilities.

Stranger Things is by no means a family friendly show, yet it is definitely fascinating, intriguing, and addicting.

As for a child watching it, I say the best comparison for inappropriate content for children would be Lost; regarding profanity, sex, violence, drugs/alcohol, and dark themes.

However, it’s up to the individual parent to decide at what age.

Over 1,000 Likes on Facebook: Thanks to My “Family Friendly Daddy Blog” Readers!

Over 1,000 Likes on Facebook: Thanks to My “Family Friendly Daddy Blog” Readers!

I say this not to celebrate my own efforts, but instead, to sincerely thank everyone who has chosen to “like” and follow Family Friendly Daddy Blog. As of this week, I reached a major milestone as a blogger when the 1000th person liked my Facebook fan page.

Please know that I am extremely grateful for you! Gaining and maintaining 1,000 followers is not an easy task. You may not even know this, or even remember it, but from May 2011 until June 2014, I was the official daddy blogger for Parents.com; the blog for Parents magazine.

Over 1,000 Likes on Facebook: Thanks to My “Family Friendly Daddy Blog” Readers!

After their online division went under new management three years ago, they ended the contracts of us original bloggers, taking their focus in a different direction.

I therefore changed the name from “The Dadabase” to Family Friendly Daddy Blog, to disassociate my rebooted blog from my previous blog with Parents.com.

Over 1,000 Likes on Facebook: Thanks to My “Family Friendly Daddy Blog” Readers!

Back three summers ago when that happened, I was expecting to lose dozens of followers each week, since I no longer had the credentials of independently writing for a big name like I did the 3 years before. Fortunately, my fears did not become a reality.

Thank you for continuing to support my blog, and ultimately, my family.

Over 1,000 Likes on Facebook: Thanks to My “Family Friendly Daddy Blog” Readers!

Now that I have over 1,000 likes on my Facebook page, my understanding is that I have reached a new milestone with outsiders and potential sponsors, who now see my blog as a more serious platform to the public.

If that is true, I am curious to find out what opportunities will present themselves.

Over 1,000 Likes on Facebook: Thanks to My “Family Friendly Daddy Blog” Readers!

Your continued readership shows me that you share similar goals, as my agenda from the beginning has been to positively represent and illustrate what fatherhood should look like.

My perspective on life has always been a bit different- and that didn’t change when I become a parent.

I appreciate that you choose to support my blog.  A Facebook “like” goes a long way.

Over 1,000 Likes on Facebook: Thanks to My “Family Friendly Daddy Blog” Readers!

Lexus GX 460 Family Road Trip: My Son’s Destination Birthday Party in Destin, Florida

Lexus GX 460 Family Road Trip: My Son’s Destination Birthday Party in Destin, Florida

This year for our son Jack’s 5th birthday, we decided to do a “destination birthday party” in Destin, Florida; instead of having a party with his friends back home in Tennessee.

Lexus GX 460 Family Road Trip: My Son’s Destination Birthday Party in Destin, Florida

We figured if we were going to spend a few hundred dollars either way, we might as well make a fun family vacation out of it; especially right now, before the new baby arrives in April.

Lexus GX 460 Family Road Trip: My Son’s Destination Birthday Party in Destin, Florida

Something that made the trip extra special is that we were able to drive a 2015 Lexus GX 460 there and back! Therefore, our road trip was luxurious, large and laid-back.

Lexus GX 460 Family Road Trip: My Son’s Destination Birthday Party in Destin, Florida

Lexus GX 460 Family Road Trip: My Son’s Destination Birthday Party in Destin, Florida

Lexus GX 460 Family Road Trip: My Son’s Destination Birthday Party in Destin, Florida

Lexus GX 460 Family Road Trip: My Son’s Destination Birthday Party in Destin, Florida

Since we currently only have a family of 3, we kept the 3rd row seat folded down and used it for cargo space instead. Therefore, we packed our largest suitcases for the trip.

Usually on a road trip like this, we all try to pack light- but with all that room in the Lexus GX, we were able to pack liberally:

Lexus GX 460 Family Road Trip: My Son’s Destination Birthday Party in Destin, Florida

So in addition to the 2 giant suitcases, there was also my camera tripod,  2 of giants beach toy buckets, our plant-based food supply (we’re a vegan/vegetarian family), and all of Jack’s birthday gifts from us. And I was able to fit all of this under the cover too; which maintained the wonderful driver’s seat visibility, which I shot a quick video about.

We had so much fun on our trip. I’ve actually highlighted the main events in previous blog posts. (I put them in bold links below so you can click on them to read those separately.)

Lexus GX 460 Family Road Trip: My Son’s Destination Birthday Party in Destin, Florida

Before we even left for our trip, Jack drew and colored a special map so his Mommy and I would know were to drive.

separately

Lexus GX 460 Family Road Trip: My Son’s Destination Birthday Party in Destin, Florida

As for some highlights of our trip; first, my son got to pet and feed dolphins at the Gulfarium.

See Dear Jack: You Got to Pet and Feed Dolphins at the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park!

Dear Jack: You Got to Pet and Feed Dolphins at the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park!

Then our family took a dolphin cruise out in the Gulf of Mexico…

See Dear Jack: We Went on the Southern Star Dolphin Cruise in Destin!

Dear Jack: You Got to Go on the Southern Star Dolphin Cruise in Destin!

Not to mention, we let him spend his $100’s worth of gift cards on whatever he wanted during the trip.

See Dear Jack: What Happens When You Give $100 to a 5 Year-Old Boy for His Birthday?

Dear Jack: What Happens When You Give $100 to a 5 Year-Old Boy for His Birthday?

The whole time, we stayed in a really fun resort condo that was right across the street from the beach. We could see the ocean from the living room!

See Our Amalfi Coast Condo Rental in Miramar Beach Near Destin, Florida.

Our Amalfi Coast Condo Rental in Destin, Florida

Lexus GX 460 Family Road Trip: My Son’s Destination Birthday Party in Destin, Florida

And we had so much fun playing out on the beach. There was a lot of water underneath the sand and it kept sprouting out the more we would dig trenches for our sand castle.

Lexus GX 460 Family Road Trip: My Son’s Destination Birthday Party in Destin, Florida

Having a destination birthday party for my son’s 5th birthday was the right decision for us! It was such a special time for our family.

Lexus GX 460 Family Road Trip: My Son’s Destination Birthday Party in Destin, Florida

Our Amalfi Coast Condo Rental in Miramar Beach Near Destin, Florida

Our Amalfi Coast Condo Rental in Destin, Florida

Last weekend our family stayed at a condo rental called Barefoot by the Sea, which is part of the Amalfi Coast Resort on Miramar Beach. We had such a great time that I felt it was worth sharing with anyone out there who is considering staying in the Destin, Florida area.

We chose to stay there as part of our son’s “destination birthday party” for his 5th birthday. Things were made extra special when I learned we would be able to drive a 2015 Lexus GX 460 there and back, from our home near Nashville, Tennessee. (That’s a perk of being a blogger!)

Because rentals in Amalfi Coast Resorts not directly on the beach, but instead, just across the street from it, prices are more affordable than most Destin resorts we looked into.

r4

However, we still had a great ocean view from the kitchen and living room; as well as the deck, where we could enjoy the fresh beach at any time.

Our Amalfi Coast Condo Rental in Destin, Florida

Additionally, the place contains 2 full bathrooms, as well as a master bedroom and a set of bunk beds in the hall, where our son slept. It was his first time to get to sleep in a bunk bed.

We had plenty of room. We are already trying to figure out when we can go back and stay there again. The place was perfect for our family’s needs.

Though we never took advantage of it, we also had access to the 2 swimming pools on the property.

Instead, we spent much of our time at the private beach, which was just right across the street. We had access to a gazebo which grants access to the beach.

It was very private. I think we were the only ones on that private beach each time we were out there.

Not to mention, it’s location within Destin itself was a good central location to plenty of restaurants, grocery stores, as well as fun family activities, like the Gulfarium and the dolphin cruise; both of which we participated in.

IMG_5129

In closing, please check out the casual video tour I made using my Samsung Galaxy S4:

I totally recommend this place. In fact, please feel free to ask me any questions you may have about it.

Max (Best Friend, Hero, Marine): Family Friendly Movie Review

Max: Family Friendly Movie Review

This weekend my son and I watched Max on DVD. My synopsis of the plot line is this: A bike riding, Texan teenage boy takes care of his deceased brother’s military dog, and then he depends on the canine to help him to sniff out illegal arms dealers who are tied to Mexican drug cartel.

I like to keep my movie reviews simple. I basically just ask two questions:

1)      Did my nearly 5 year-old son enjoy it?

2)      Was it “family friendly” enough to be appropriate for him to watch with me?

To answer my first question, yes, my son definitely enjoyed it.

There were constant bike chases through the woods and a crime fighting dog. To my son, that’s awesome.

The whole movie is a fast-paced, adventure thriller. In other words, there’s no wise cracking CGI dog to have to tolerate for 90 minutes. It’s a real dog.

I’ll segue into my second question now: Was it family friendly enough for my nearly 5 year-old son?

Yes; for my son specifically, who is accustomed to the swashbuckling violence of Power Rangers, and to the use of guns which never actually kill anyone or even draw blood on the show.

I would equate Max’s content with a tamer version of E.T., in that Max contains hardly any harsh words; definitely less than E.T does which is also rated PG.

Max is not a kids’ movie, but it’s one that I enjoyed watching with my son. After all, I’ll be taking him to see the new Star Wars movie in a couple of months; as I also took him to see Ant-Man this summer.

He’s old enough to appreciate more mature movies at his age; which I appreciate.

Max: Family Friendly Movie Review

Official press release:

MAX

ARRIVES ONTO BLU-RAY COMBO PACK, DVD and DIGITAL HD FROM

METRO-GOLDWYN-MAYER PICTURES AND

WARNER BROS. HOME ENTERTAINMENT

Blu-ray Combo Pack debuts on October 27

Own it early on Digital HD on October 13

Burbank, CA, August 11, 2015 – Discover a friendship that is one of a kind when Warner Bros. Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures’ (MGM) family-action adventure “Max” arrives onto Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD on October 27. “Max,” an incredible journey about the unbreakable bond between one kid and his heroic best friend, stars Josh Wiggins (“Hellion”) as Justin Wincott, with Lauren Graham (TV’s “Parenthood”) as his mom, Pamela, and Oscar® nominee Thomas Haden Church (“Sideways”) as his dad, Ray. The film will be available early on Digital HD on October 13.

BLU-RAY AND DVD ELEMENTS

“Max” Blu-ray Combo Pack contains the following special features:

  • Working with Max: Meet the dogs that play “Max” and see inside tricks of the trade!

·         Hero Dogs: A Journey – Get a behind-the-scenes look at amazing military trained K9s.

“Max” Standard Definition DVD contains the following special features:

  • Working with Max: Meet the dogs that play “Max” and see inside tricks of the trade!

DIGITAL DISTRIBUTION ELEMENTS

On October 13, “Max” will be available for streaming and download to watch anywhere in high definition and standard definition on their favorite devices from select digital retailers including Amazon, CinemaNow, Flixster, iTunes, PlayStation, Vudu, Xbox and others. “Max” will also be available digitally on Video On Demand services from cable and satellite providers, and on select gaming consoles.

BASICS

 

PRODUCT                                                                            SRP

Blu-ray Combo Pack                                                               $35.99

DVD Amaray (WS)                                                                $28.98

Standard Street Date: October 27, 2015

Digital HD Street Date: October 13, 2015