Dear Jack: The Beach Bonfire Family Reunion (San Diego Vacation/2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

5 years, 10 months.

Dear Jack: The Beach Bonfire Family Reunion (San Diego Vacation in a 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

Dear Jack,

A few days into our family’s vacation last week to San Diego to see Uncle Jake get married, we caught up with more of Mommy’s family at a bonfire at the beach. There were some of the family members there who we haven’t seen in years.

One in particular was your cousin Zach. The last time I saw him was when Mommy and I got married back in 2008, which was 2 years before you were born.

Dear Jack: The Beach Bonfire Family Reunion (San Diego Vacation in a 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

He was a teenager the last time I saw him; now he’s in his mid-twenties.

Zach took a special interest in you. You had an agenda to “make a lake” by repeatedly filling up a liter-sized water bottle and taking it near the bonfire where you had dug a hole.

For about an hour and a half, Zach excitedly (and patiently) walked back and forth with you from the beach to the “lake” you were making, knowing full well that the water would never actually fill up; but instead, simply sink into the sand.

However, you were happy because “it made the sand thick enough to make a castle.”

This bonfire family reunion also was a special event for you because got to have s’mores. (We brought our own special vegan marshmallows.)

Dear Jack: The Beach Bonfire Family Reunion (San Diego Vacation in a 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

Your baby sister Holly slept through a good amount of it all. I don’t remember leaving until about 10:30 that night. No one was in a hurry to leave.

It’s a rare thing to be able to hang out on the beach, huddled around a bonfire.

Dear Jack: The Beach Bonfire Family Reunion (San Diego Vacation in a 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

But finally we made our way back to our hotel. Fortunately, because the 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander we drove had 7 seats, we were able to take a few family members back to their hotel as well.

Dear Jack: The Beach Bonfire Family Reunion (San Diego Vacation in a 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

I have many more stories to tell you about our trip. Stay tuned for more adventures!



Dear Jack: The Beach Bonfire Family Reunion (San Diego Vacation in a 2016 Mitsubishi Outlander)

Metaphors in Super Mario Bros. that Taught Us about Real Life

How many lives do you have left before it’s “game over”?

Something that Super Mario Bros. taught us first, more so than any other video game, was the concept of having “lives”.  If you fell in a hole (which means you instantly died; no chance that the hole wasn’t really that deep or that you could have grabbed on to a branch while falling), you lost a life.  If you touched an enemy, you lost a life (which is completely irrational; I wonder what would happen if Mario touched a “frenemy”?…). If you ran out of time, you lost a life (okay, I admit, that concept is somewhat lifelike).

However, if you accomplished certain goals to better yourself, like ate a healthy mushroom(this promoted organic a lifestyle), saved 100 coins (which causes the game to most likely be endorsed by Dave Ramsey), kicked a turtle shell that slid into 10 enemies (illogical and scientifically impossible on so many levels), or jumped to the top of a flagpole (because that’s normal in real life), you actually would get a “1 Up”, which means that you gained an extra life.

But the whole point of this game, despite collecting gold coins (which instantly disappeared when you touched them- could that be a metaphor symbolizing how money is meaningless?) and muddling through everyday distractions (like busting bricks with your fist because you thought there was a steel box with an “invincibility star” inside- choose your own metaphor for life on that one…) was to save the princess from the evil mutant dragon named Koopa.

If you could run under the dragon in the final castle when he jumped up while breathing fire and hammers at you, you instantly touched an axe that caused the bridge to collapse, therefore sending the dragon into the fiery lava pit (poor architectural planning, if you ask me…). In the next room, the famous princess was waiting to be saved from captivity.  In other words, despite being responsible by saving money, despite gaining power, despite becoming a hero to anyone, it’s all really about helping other people.

Cool Retro Sunday School Bonus!

And for those from a Protestant background, the Mushroom Kingdom represents the Heavenly Kingdom, the dragon symbolizes Satan who will be hurled into the lake of fire in the end, and saving the princess symbolizes sharing Christ’s message of salvation and loving others as ourselves, which is the summary of Ephesians 2:8-10, and in my opinion, the meaning of life and the whole point of Christianity.

Why One Out of Five People in the World Smoke Tobacco

Could 1.2 billion people really be wrong?

It would be difficult to imagine unintentionally eavesdropping in Starbucks and hearing this conversation: “You know, I feel that I’m missing something in my life. Maybe I should start smoking?” While it is very unlikely to actually hear a person say those words out loud, consider the truth: Out of the 6.7 billion people living in this world, 1.2 billion people smoke tobacco. That’s 18% of the world’s population. Could one out of five people be wrong, worldwide? Maybe I’m missing out on something here.

Despite its obvious health risks (is it really a risk or is it more of an eventual definite outcome?), despite an often negative social stigma, despite addiction, despite the smell a smoker becomes accustomed to yet non-smokers find offensive, despite the fact that cigarettes are the leading cause of house fires and fire related deaths, and despite the fact it’s an expensive habit, still for every five people in the world (and our country), one is a smoker. Seriously, I want to know what I’m not understanding. Surely I’m not seeing the whole picture.

Poorer households and developing countries are more likely to smoke than middle to high-income households and developed countries. What should I learn from that? Do cigarettes give people hope? Or do cigarettes help a person better deal with having less than others? If I suddenly began making half my income, it’s difficult for me to imagine spending more money on a habit that would decrease my overall health. I clearly need to get hip with the program.

I believe it is wrong for our government to ban the cultivation of any plant God put on this earth. So if every plant has a purpose, what can tobacco be used for, other than smoking? Growing up, my parents kept a package of tobacco for when any of us got a bee sting- when applied on the skin, it absorbs the poison.

Speaking of poison, tobacco also is a natural pesticide. Speaking of pesticides, my parents use NutraSweet and Sweet’N Low to pour on ant beds. It is a deathly substance to ants. Conveniently, the worker ants carry the poison throughout the colony, eventually killing them all off. Rule of thumb: If a substance easily kills insects, it’s a good indication the product is not intended for human consumption.