The Amount You Mature After You Turn 30

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This week I turned 34 and a half. I’m now just 6 months away from turning 35, which will officially toss me out of that targeted demographic which has traditionally been the coveted marketing demographic: age 18-34.

I’m also only 6 months away from the birth of my 2nd child; who I think is a girl.

Turning a year older is not something I fear or hide. I celebrate getting older. That’s mainly because I’m so grateful for the amount of maturity, emotional intelligence, and life experience I gain each year I’m alive.

I definitely don’t wish I was 30 again, or 27, or 25, or 23… I’m perfectly happy and proud to be 34 and a half.

And research shows the same thing; that the age people report being the happiest is 34.

By now, I’m married, I have kid(s), I’m out of debt, I have money in the bank, I “own” a home, and I’m stable in my career.

Additionally, I have (hopefully) already made my dumbest mistakes and learned my hardest lessons in life.

If I simply apply what I’ve already learned from life so far, I should be alright. In theory, I should be on auto-pilot, from here on out, to some degree.

I feel that while I’ll constantly be learning something new every day, my “life’s biggest learning curve” is complete. In other words, now I know what to do, it’s just a matter of testing that knowledge and experience for the rest of my life to see what else I can make of it.

When I turned 30, I knew I was hitting a major milestone. But in hindsight, I now realize that the reason it was a major milestone for me is because I have learned some of life’s biggest and most crucial lessons since then, during these past 4 and a half years.

The Amount You Mature After You Turn 30

My son was born just a few months before I turned 30. Obviously, raising him has taught me a whole lot about life.

Plus, I made some wrong financial and career decisions around that time as well; which ultimately led my wife and I to become the strict Dave Ramsey followers we now are.

Not to mention, I was hired as Parents.com’s official daddy blogger right after I turned 30, which ultimately meant for 3 years, I had to do a blog post daily; being encouraged to be controversial by my editors.

Therefore, I can see in retrospect that I sporadically said plenty of immature and/or now embarrassing things in my blog posts during that time in attempts to “better engage my audience.” I learned a lot from that experience and I’m completely grateful for those 3 years.

On top of all that, I’ve learned the hard way what not to post on Facebook, since turning 30.

But now, I’ve lived through all that.

And I’ve been married for over 7 years now. It would be an understatement to say that marriage, in addition to raising a child, has made me a more mature, less selfish, better balanced human being.

The first day of the rest of my life began the day I turned 30. I can only imagine how much more enlightened I will feel and be by the time I turn 40.

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Dear Jack: This is Definitely a Facebook Pregnancy Announcement!

4 years, 10 months. 

Dear Holly or Logan: You’re Due on April 21, 2016

Dear Jack,

Mommy’s due date is April 21st, 2016; just one day after my 35th birthday.

We have preparing you for this all year. Every time we would ask you if you wanted a brother or sister, you always replied, “No! I just want my stuffed animals!”

But as of this summer, that question ceased to simply be a hypothetical question.

A few weeks ago, we made it clear: “Jack, there is a little baby inside of Mommy’s tummy.”

Since then, you have been very excited and curious about this. You no longer see having a baby brother or sister as a bad thing.

I love the fact that you’ll be 5 and a half years-old when your baby brother or sister arrives.

You’re already such an independent boy. It’s going to be so rewarding seeing you help take care of your sibling. You’re going to be great at it.

This is going to be so exciting for our family!

Dear Jack: You’re Going to Be a Big Brother After All

Two days ago I posted a sneaky picture of our family on Facebook. I had been crafting this idea for weeks now. I wanted to release a subtle hint that to the general public that our family is expanding.

To play on our last name, I had each of us hold a seashell towards the camera; then I took a picture of Mommy’s other hand, secretly holding a 4th seashell behind her back. Then I left a simple caption:

“Shell collection.”

But I don’t think anyone really figured it out.

Plus, a couple of weeks ago I wrote a letter to you called The Dresser for Our Guest Room. It was really a post about your baby brother or sister’s room instead; they are the “guest.”

Not to mention, earlier this week I published People Finally Stopped Asking If We’re Going to Have Another Kid, which gave birth to much speculation.

You and I also made a “very special episode” of Jack-Man, in which it is revealed Jack-Man is going to be a big brother; as if that wasn’t an obvious giveaway to the general public. Even after releasing that video, the news still didn’t spread.

This letter itself is a throwback to This is Not a Facebook Pregnancy Announcement from July, in which I proclaimed in big bold letters, “There is not a baby on the way. I promise.”

Ironically, that fact changed exactly 2 days later.

Yesterday I posted this secretive picture of our family, as well.

Dear Holly or Logan: You’re Due on April 21, 2016

I admit, I’ve had a lot of fun going public with our family expanding.

This is going to be so good. Just about 6 months away…

Love,

Daddy

Happify’s New Infographic: What You Watch This Summer Can Make You Happier

When it comes to TV time, our family is very deliberate when it comes to setting boundaries.

For example, when we first moved into our new house nearly 6 months ago, I made sure we set aside our downstairs living room as a sanctuary free from a TV set; that we established our main common room void of that infamous conversation killer. We have to deliberately go upstairs if we want to watch something.

This week I came across this new infographic on Happify, a website and app which is dedicated to building happiness skills through scientifically designed activities and games.

The infographic is called “What You Watch This Summer Can Make You Happier.” I love the way it scientically explains what actually makes us happy.

Enjoy!

Happify's New Infographic: What You Watch This Summer Can Make You Happier

Making Cool Party Favors By Baking Crayons In Lego Man Molds

3 years, 11 months.

Making Cool Party Favors By Baking Crayons In Lego Man Molds

Dear Jack,

In addition to making you feel special by taking you to go get tater tots at Burger Republic back in September for the “The Great Food Truck Festival”, you also had a lot of fun that same weekend by helping Mommy and me make some of the party favors for your upcoming birthday party in just two weeks.

For your appropriately themed Lego party at Bricks 4 Kids (A Lego-themed party place), we are giving out homemade Lego Man crayons as part of your party favor bags.

Mommy found the Lego Man mold on Amazon. From there, we found a few boxes of old crayons; some of them having been baking in our cars for the past couple of years!

Making Cool Party Favors By Baking Crayons In Lego Man Molds

My main job was to take the knife and cut off the paper wrappers. Your job was to organize the crayons by color (which you did with great pride) and throw away the wrappers for me after I cut them off the crayons, which was actually very helpful for me.

From there, Mommy crushed them and fit them into the molds, baking them for a little while. After that they went into the freezer to cool off.

Making Cool Party Favors By Baking Crayons In Lego Man Molds

Too bad we only had one mold tray, which yields 8 Lego Man crayons at a time. Mommy was basically baking batches for about 6 hours straight in order to produce a total of about 64.

So as you can see, as long as you use as least 2 different colors of crayons, each Lego Man crayon is guaranteed to look unique, like a snowflake or a fingerprint.

Making Cool Party Favors By Baking Crayons In Lego Man Molds

My favorite one looked like the Earth. I named him Captain Planet.

Without surprise, you immediately chose your favorites to put in your own goody bag.

Making those Lego Man crayons was definitely a fun family activity for us. Granted, Mommy’s role was the most tedious.

Making Cool Party Favors By Baking Crayons In Lego Man Molds

But we all a great time. It was such a unique and “Pinteresty” thing for us to do.

I guess we get cool points now or something…

Love,

Daddy

dad from day one: Instantly Becoming a Complete Goofball to Entertain the Baby

Twenty-seven weeks.

I know nothing about how to take care of a baby, yet.  But what I do know, and what I have always known when it comes to babies is how to make them laugh and play with them.  In the way that women instinctively speak in a high, falsetto voice to babies (I’ve read that that’s the frequency babies hear when they’re that young, as opposed to a normal speaking voice), I automatically become any given idiot monster when I find myself in a situation where a baby is looking at me, waiting for some kind of confirmation.

The default character I play while entertaining babies could best be described as Popeye mixed with Grimace mixed with Beaker: A smiling, squinty-eyed, beeping mutant.  But what can I say?  Babies like me when I am this fictional goofball.

And really, that’s what happens to any adult when a baby is set in front of them.  Adults become ridiculous.  That’s one of the many reasons people like babies.  Because adults get a free pass to act stupid.  All in the name of making a baby happy.

Needless to say, I am so looking forward to my free pass.

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com


Some People Like Being Offended and/or Taking Advantage of Pointing Out a Person’s Perceived Faux Pas So They Can Correct Them and Feel Empowered by It

There’s more than one way to say, “You’re wrong and I’m right.”

I admit that part of the joy I get in reading the online articles of other writers who are much more popular and commercialized than I am is from skimming through the hundreds of opinionated comments that people leave at the bottom of the post: People on both sides of the issue trying to prove both the author and/or each other wrong.  Here’s an example I effortlessly found this morning: http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Insurance/AssessYourNeeds/weston-7-insurance-myths-that-could-cost-you.aspx

And it often starts with one person who slightly takes the author’s words to an extreme context to where they can become offended.  Therefore, they’re happy because now they get to leave a comment to tell off the writer, which indeed draws a flood of other commenters disagreeing with the first person.  And so the snowball grows. 

For many people, their desperation for a sense of power is so strong that they make themselves a sort of victim, offended by the slightest opinion of someone who does have some amount of control or influence over others- in this case, an online author.  A website where this tends to happen regularly is The Grio.  Here’s an example:

http://www.thegrio.com/specials/be-well-be-healthy/how-obesity-has-become-a-part-of-black-culture.php

Of course the easily offended don’t just get their kicks from the Online World, they practice their form of self-psychosis in the real world too.  Not too long ago I offended someone when I bought a snack for them (they gave me the money for it up front) and I didn’t bring it back to them in a separate container from the one I got for myself.  It all worked out because they ended up giving me theirs without me paying them back- but still, the person made a scene over something very petty, in front of several other people.  So I felt compelled to apologize- if for no other reason, because I felt awkward.  (But if anyone should have been offended, I’d like to think it should have been me- for the sense of slight public humiliation I went through in the process.)

Events like that have taught me to apologize less.  It’s not always my fault when a person is offended (though it often is).  I’m learning to be better about sorting out the people who I indeed hurt through my lack of sensitivity and those who are simply chronic Glass Joe’s.  So hear this, people who are offended way too easily:

Sorry, but I’m just not that sorry anymore.

Like It, Love It, Gotta Have It Vs. I’ve Already Got One, Thanks

Fighting the urge to the live by the new American motto: If it ain’t broke, get another one anyway.

Like it? Love it? Gotta have it!

I can almost remember a time when I was a kid, where it was normal to really really want something for a long time and then when I would finally get it, my heart was content.  The newly obtained item gave my heart rest, and I was happy, as any kid should be.  Whether it was a new Nintendo game like Super Mario Bros. 2, or a bicycle, or a rare Ninja Turtle action figure like Splinter, April O’Neil, or Ray Fillet, I got what I had wanted for so long.  And funny enough, I never wanted a replacement after I received my prized possession.

But somewhere along the way, whether or not we can blame it on “typical capitalist American behavior” or the mindset of Generation X (I just barely made the cut- it’s anyone born between 1961 and 1981), it became normal to want a “new one” though the old one still works just fine.  Maybe just an innocent desire to keep things fresh.  Or maybe a potentially dangerous pattern.

My Italian grandfather was one of the most influential people of my lifetime.  Having grown up in an orphanage in Kenosha, Wisconsin (his mother died when he was young, and there were 12 kids in the family), he lived a minimalist lifestyle, only spending his money on his few children and grandchildren.  Hardly ever buying a new (used) car, new clothes, or new furniture.  Never buying anything name brand.

This way of thinking definitely shows up in my everyday life.  My wife jokes that I have more clothes and shoes than she does.  And it’s true.  Because I don’t get rid of them unless they’re literally rotted.  Like my old red running shoes I have delegated to only use for walking and riding my mountain bike on my lunch break.

It’s true that I own over twenty pairs of shoes that still look less than a year old.  But most of them are indeed at least ten years old, in actuality.  Because I have certain shoes I wear only if I know I will be outside or if there’s a chance of  rain that day.  Those are my “outside shoes”.  By wearing them instead of my “inside shoes”, it keeps my newer shoes looking new.

While I’ll never be as frugal as my grandfather (who when my mom was a little girl, reused dried out paper towels multiple times before throwing them away) I subconsciously try to imitate his lifestyle.

I can’t see myself ever buying a brand new car, knowing that it loses thousands of dollars in value as soon as the first owner drives it off the lot.  And I can’t see buying a different car until my current one costs more to repair than it does to actually buy another used one.

Not that buying a new car is any kind of moral issue, or that going on a shopping spree for a new wardrobe is necessarily evil, though it’s probably not a wise decision if it involves a credit card (I’m a Dave Ramsey fanatic).  But for some of us, that strand of “gotta get a new one” serves as toxic acid in our DNA.

It gets tiring hearing of men leaving their wives for another woman.  That’s definitely a familiar theme this year already in the media.  And while some could say, “What does to me if matter if Tiger Woods or Jesse James cheats on his wife?  Why is that national news?”  Because it does matter.

Not because we’re nosey.  But because in some sense, the reflection of the lifestyles of celebrities causes a subconscious call-to-response for the rest of us:  “Hey look, it’s normal, he did it.”

We have to either say, “No way, that’s not for me.  No thanks!”  Or “Well, maybe that’s not so bad…”

It shouldn’t be that hard to be happy with what we’ve already got, even if it’s not perfect.  And really, that’s a mindset that is often difficult to accept and adopt: Near-perfect is as perfect as life can really get.

Is the grass really greener on the other side?  Yes, of course it is.  But the irony is this: You’re already standing on the other side.  Somebody’s else’s “other side”.

You’re already standing on the greener grass.

"I don't care how... I want it NOW!" -Veruca Salt