Growing Up Social: Family Friendly Book Review

As my regular readers of Family Friendly Daddy Blog already know, my family is building a house; closing date in January 29th, 2015.

In the process of planning out the rooms, my wife and I have decided that while we will have a TV in the bonus room, we won’t have one downstairs in the living room; or any other room.

That means in order to watch TV, you actually have to walk upstairs and isolate yourself. Therefore, the temptation is greatly reduced to walk in the door and veg out without spending quality time with other family members.

I believe it’s “little” decisions like that which contribute to health family communication and relationships.

Growing Up Social: Family Friendly Book Review

A few weeks ago while reviewing a car here for Family Friendly Daddy Blog, I was sent an iPad and an iPhone to use in conjunction with the vehicle’s 4G LTE capabilities.

I should point out that I’m of the American minority; we have no smart phones in our household. My wife and I both have “dumb” phones instead.

The main reason is because we’re not willing to pay for a data plan. We are on a family plan with my parents and pay a monthly total of only $30 per month. Again, that’s total; not per person.

But even if it cost us no extra money per month to own smart phones, I still wouldn’t be excited.

Here’s why:

I fully recognized that my family’s life is hurried enough. My wife and I both work; our son is in school all day. The commute time in Nashville is longer than the average large city.

We don’t need more interruptions or distractions in our lives. I feel that if we owned smart phones, it would only add to the anxiety.

Sure, I get the irony in the fact that I run this blog from a cheap ASUS laptop and a dumb phone. I was the official daddy blogger for Parents Magazine for 3 years and never once touched a smart phone.

Of all people, I should own a smart phone… or at least want one. But I don’t.

I won’t deny the fact that having a smart phone for that week made certain things more convenient. However, I found myself getting frustrated that I couldn’t use manage my blog with the same ease as a laptop.

Plus, I don’t like knowing that I can check my email or Facebook at any time. I’d rather just “shut it off” during the day.

Growing Up Social

With that being said, you could imagine I would easily like this book…Growing Up Social, by Gary Chapman (The 5 Love Languages) and Arelene Pellicane (31 Days to Becoming a Happy Wife).

The book causes you to ask yourself, “Is technology bringing your family closer together or driving you farther apart?”

Growing Up Social teaches the five skills that every healthy child needs to master: affection, appreciation, anger management, apology, and attention:

The Skill of Affection – How do you show real love to another person?

The Skill of Appreciation – How do you cultivate a grateful heart?

The Skill of Attention – How do you focus and be a good listener?

The Skill of Anger Management – How do you express anger in a productive way?

The Skill of Apology – How do you mend a relationship after you make a mistake?

The focus is raising relational kids in a screen-driving world. So relevant!

And one lucky reader will win a free copy of this book today…

Just be the first person to post on the Facebook wall for Family Friendly Daddy Blog (not a private message), asking me, “Did I just win Growing Up Social?”

If you’re the first person to do so, I will respond by saying yes… After that, I will follow up by getting your address to give to the publisher so they can send you your won copy!

Update: A winner was found within just a few minutes of this post going live. The giveaway portion is now complete.

Did I just win Growing up social????

Thanks for reading today! And remember, I’ll be giving more books away; so stay tuned…

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: ‘Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising’):

Many thanks to Propellor Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Generation Y Finds Free WiFi

Internet is free unless you want to pay for it.


I am truly convinced that somehow one day Internet service will be free to all with access to a computer. The thing is, it’s already kind of that way- at least in a city the size of Nashville. A monumental event happened last week when Starbucks officially began advertising free WiFi in their stores. For months I have been mocking them for being so behind the times, as they have been charging by the hour for Internet service when McDonald’s has been offering it for a while now. In fact, Starbucks was the last major (and still relevant) store to join the crowd.

It’s quite symbolic of the direction that Internet is heading. I haven’t paid for Internet the entire 4 ½ years I’ve lived in Nashville. My laptop automatically picks up the nearest open network wherever I am, or wherever I’m driving by and decide to drop in- hotels, coffee shops, restaurants, churches, book stores, even auto repair shops provide Internet for me while I wait on my car. And I have weekly taken advantage of all those places.

Last weekend I went in to Verizon to renew my contract (and more importantly, get a new free phone they always offer for staying with them). I found the phone I wanted- it was small, light, and shaped like a stone. Yet when the salesman came over to help me I learned that the only way I could get that phone would be to get Internet through them for about $30 extra dollars a month. I made the mistake of telling him that eventually Verizon will offer free Internet (so that people will buy more expensive phones that make better use of online capabilities).

The guy actually said this to me in an attempt to make a sell: “Having Internet on your phone makes life so much easier. You may look out the window and see a rain cloud and wonder what the weather is going to be like that day. If you have the Internet on your phone, you can look up the weather forecast and find out.”

Really?! Really. Seems like the word “rain” in the phrase “rain cloud” might have given me a clue…

He wanted to argue with/educate me about technology so I simply replied, “Where are the phones that don’t require me to purchase additional Internet service?” I ended up leaving the store, with my same two-year old phone. The few options that didn’t require Internet were no more advanced than the phone I have now so I’ve decided to hold off on trading in my old one for a new one. It would be ridiculous to pay for what I already can get for free (the Internet) or try use my “free new phone” pass on a phone identical to the one I already have. And since I don’t live with a constant need to Tweet, I will manage just fine.

Surely it says something about access to free Internet use when I have built and maintained this website mainly using the Internet of Borders (where I’m posting this from now) and other coffee shop types of venues. If anyone should have to pay for Internet, it should be me. But I never have.

It just requires diligence, patience, and creativity. I also have never paid for cable- I paid $60 a few years ago for “bunny ears” at Best Buy that give me access to ABC, NBC, and Fox (plus some obscure Canadian channels). That’s how I watch the shows that I do recaps of. As for TV shows I want to see that don’t come on the major networks, I can easily watch them on their network’s website. Of course I am willing to part with $9 a month for Netflix- I began subscribing the month they started offering free instant streaming.

There’s a very thin line between being cheap and being smart. I’m okay with either side of that line.

Hall and Oates are Officially Cool Again, Says Me

They make my dreams come true.

Yesterday my wife and I were hanging out at our new favorite brunch spot in Nashville, The Perch.  As we were waiting on our crepes, we both had our laptops up and running (she was working on stuff for her Master’s program, and I was catching up on burning about a dozen CD’s that I’ve bought since last December).  An energetic couple sat down at the table across from us; as she walked past, the wife snuck a peak at the pile of CD’s I had laying on the table.

“Just checking out your musical style”, she said with a curious smile.

I lifted up Landon Pigg (a local Nashville artist recently featured on an ATT commercial) and Pete Yorn & Scarlett Johansson to give her a good idea of exactly was is music to me.  She approved.

But then, I pulled out the one she couldn’t see because it was currently being burned.  And that definitely got her attention as well as her husband’s: The Essential Hall and Oates.

She eagerly told me about Daryl Hall’s current website, in which he invites special guest musicians to play concerts in his house.  Within a minute, she had emailed me the link.  http://www.livefromdarylshouse.com/index.php?page=ep30

As if it wasn’t obvious, being that I’ve referenced Hall and Oates in the last couple things I’ve written, I’m a little bit obsessed with this feel-good duo.  Maybe it started when they performed on the recent American Idol finale and I realized they not only are still performing but also haven’t changed who they are one bit.  Because there was John Oates bouncing and bopping around on his electric guitar and Daryl Hall running the show in all confidence.

Some musical acts could have only been popular during the time they were popular.  Hall and Oates is the epitome of them.  The late 70’s and early 80’s were the only time that a male duo singing group looking the way they did and performing the way they did could not only get away with it, but have six Number Ones and have 34 singles to chart.

The duo of course is comprised of  Daryl Hall (of Scottish heritage) and John Oates (half Italian, a quarter Spanish, and a quarter British English).

Hall and Oates is also the kind of musical act that sings so many more songs than I ever realized.  I’d been hearing their songs all along, assuming it was a random one hit wonder.

If I was asked two weeks ago (before I bought their 3 disc greatest hits set) which songs Hall and Oates sang, I would say “You Make My Dreams”, “Maneater”, and “Out of Touch”.  Just the tip of the Oatesberg:

Here’s a brief looks at their credentials:  Their six Number Ones were “Rich Girl”, “Kiss on My List”, “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do)”, “Maneater”, and “Out of Touch”.  A few of their 34 singles that charted include “You Make My Dreams”, “You’ve Lost That Loving Feelin’”, “One on One”, “Say It Isn’t So”, “Adult Education”, “Method of Modern Love”, and “Sara Smile”.

But after listening nonstop to the 40 plus songs on the 3 disc set I bought exactly a week ago, my favorite song of theirs, to my surprise, is not “You Make My Dreams” (which hilariously leads into the guitar solo with the lyrics “well listen to this”).  It’s instead one that I truly never heard prior to seven days ago.  A song that peaked at #6 in June of 1983.  The song is “Family Man”.

Complete with a grungy guitar riff reminiscent of Weezer’s 2001 hit “Hash Pipe”, perfect back-up vocal spurts, and the off-beat subject matter (for a pop song) of a faithful husband and father basically saying “skat!” to a temptress.  And best of all, it was a hit in 1983.

As I recently explained to a friend who was much less familiar with Hall and Oates as I made him listen to them in my car, “They’re the kind of music you should listen to if you’re considering suicide.  You’ll change your mind by the end of the first song.”

Now Simon and Garfunkel, well, that’s a different story.

Swiss Army SUV (Nick Shell’s Turtle Shell): 2004 Honda Element

If I was an action figure, what would my accessories be?

My wife always goes to sleep before me.  Sometimes, when she’s lucky, I sing her a lullaby to help her transition into dream mode, to coax her into visions of happy clouds and riding unicorns.  Of course, I only serenade her with original songs that I sing as I compose them, on the spot.  Last week, with Avatar fresh on my mind, I sang to her in my finest Styx performing Mr. Roboto voice:

“Nothing can prepare you for the unicorn ride of your life

So put on your purple jump suit and watch a pterodactyl fly by

Because nothing can prepare you for the unicorn ride of your life”

Pause.

Then she asked, “How can I prepare for the unicorn ride when you just said nothing could ever prepare me?”

She made a good point.  The only disadvantage of having the ability to make up and sing Grammy award winning songs on the spot, is that sometimes I forget the lyrics I’ve already sang earlier in the same song.

Ironically, I was the one who wasn’t prepared.  As for the rest of the time, in everyday life, I am prepared.  Because from 1st grade to 5th grade, I was in Cub Scouts and one of our main mottos was Be Prepared”.  Evidently, that has become a law of life for me.

Take my car, for example:

Honda Elements have been compared to a lot of things: a boot, a shoe, a toaster, a box.  And I’m okay with that, because after 4 ½ years of owning one, I am still in love.  And when the day comes to get a new vehicle, my plan is to simply buy another Honda Element.

I have transformed my already versatile duckbill-platypus-like SUV into the vehicular equivalent of a Swiss army knife.  It’s time to take a tour of my Honda Element and see what I keep on hand at all times, just in case I need it…

Typically I keep one backseat always folded up so I can have my mountain bike with me.  It stays secured between the wall and other seat.  The blue t-shirt helps prevent scuff marks on my seat from the bike and doubles as an emergency back-up shirt.

The way I got that shirt was way back in the summer of 1998 when I went on a mission trip to Ecuador.  One of the old t-shirts I had packed for the trip was one that I got from a church youth conference from the summer of 1993.  It was a white t-shirt with the phrase “JESUS IS FOR NOW” on it.  And that’s all it said.  (In Junior High, my classmate Scott Rothell joked with me: “Jesus is for now; Satan is for later”.  He was a funny guy.)

So when I was in Ecuador, a guy my age (17 at the time) saw me wearing the “Jesus is for now” t-shirt and said he liked it so much that he wanted it.  Because I have developed a friendship with him that week doing skits in city squares and painting schools, I negotiated a t-shirt trade.

He let me look through the old t-shirts he brought along, and the blue one was the one I chose: “Con Amor de Tennessee a Temuco, Chile” (With love from Tennessee to Temuco, Chile”.  Which was the official t-shirt my friend got from a previous mission trip.  It remains a comfortable t-shirt after the 12 years of me owning it.

Behind my passenger seats is where I keep my helmet.  In the cubbies on the sides, I have an old atlas I stole from work, a bandana (for days I don’t feel like wearing a hat but want to cover my head- works well in sweaty or rainy situations).

This is also where I keep my bike maintenance tools and restaurant coupons (which I’ve made several copies of on a color copier so I can reuse them).  As well as flyers for selling my house.  And an atlas in case my GPS stops working.  And windshield defroster spray.  Plus a back-up t-shirt just in case…

In the backseat that is not folded up I keep a black fedora.  Because this kind of hat will instantly make me look classier if need be, even if I’m wearing a t-shirt and jeans.  Plus an old baseball cap I got in 11th grade (1997), as well as a new stylish hat that my mother-in-law mailed me on my birthday.  The right hat for the right situation is key to being a model citizen.

Underneath the seat I keep my Birkenstocks (Christmas present from my parents in 1999).  They make the perfect back-up shoes in case I’m wearing nice shoes and it starts to rain.  In the rear side doors, I keep two books at all times.  Just in case I need to kill some time.  One is about speed reading, the other is about “reading people”.

In between the two front seats, I keep some musk incense I bought at an Indian grocery store, to help keeping my Element smelling like a forest.  I received the toothpaste and toothbrush from my most recent dentist visit- always good to keep around.  And of course it is vital to always have nail clippers handy.

The plastic cup remains empty.  Maybe I’ll end up in a place where there’s water but nothing to put it in.  Then the cup saves the day.

I put Velcro on the back of my iPod (with an FM radio receiver so I can listen to it through my stereo speakers) and my steering wheel so it’s always right in front of me.

In the hidden cubby next to my steering wheel, I keep a few spare wedding rings (made out of hemp) just in case I ever forget to wear my actual one.  Next to some papaya supplements to aid indigestion (for my pregnant wife).

Up in the front passenger dashboard caddy, I keep sugar-free gum, business cards (mainly so I can write my website on them to give to people I meet who after talking to me, are curious about my website).  And a bendable Pink Panther- just because he is awesome.  He is my animal cartoon role model.

There are also some pictures from my wife and I from exactly a year ago when we met her aunt in Chattanooga.  The felt letters say “amp” but they used to say “camp”.  But the “c” fell off and I never found it.  I just wanted to enhance the “camp” theme of my car.

Lastly, in the passenger seat of my Element, I keep my Gap one-strap bookbag.  Inside are my laptop, earphones, camera, Bible, and whatever the main current book is that I’m reading at the time.  I usually bring the bookbag with me when I take my mountain bike for a ride so I can be prepared to entertain myself if I need a break.

With the exception of my TV and my Wii and guitar and my clothes which are in the house, the things I keep in my Element are my earthly possessions.  My Element is like an overnight bag.  Like a turtle’s shell.  My action figure’s accessories.

And one more thing… Now that you’ve read my take on Honda Elements, why not read my perspective on being a dad?  That’s right- parenting from a dad’s point of view.  I have been documenting my thoughts as a dad since the week we found out my wife was pregnant.  I formally invite you now to read my “dad blog” by clicking on the link below:

dad from day one