How Southern am I? You Decide…

How Southern am I? You Decide…

I have lived my entire life (35 years) in the South. Sure, I’ve traveled the world, spending weeks at a time in Thailand, South Korea, New Zealand, Trinidad, and Equator… but as far as permanent residence, I was born and raised in Fort Payne, Alabama; and only lived in the South.

After I graduated high school, having just turned 18, I went to college in Hudson, Florida and then Lynchburg, Virginia. Then I moved to Nashville, Tennessee; where I’ve been for over 11 years now.

The very first “record” I ever heard was by the Country group, Alabama (who happen to be from my hometown). It was their 1984 Roll On album that I would lip sync to as I walked around on my parents’ bed, pretending it was my stage.

I am a Southerner. It’s true.

But… how Southern am I?

Here’s the evidence I’ve got going against me.

First off, I don’t have a strong Southern accent. It’s there if you’re looking for it, but it’s never been enough to convince anyone I’m actually from Alabama.

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Then I explain to people: My mom moved from Buffalo, New York (which is near the Canadian border) when she was 15. Eight years later, when she was 23, I was born. In other words, I was pretty much born to a Yankee mother; at least, she was at the time.

Plus, her parents were the grandparents I was around the most, as they only lived a few miles away: A full-blooded Italian grandfather named Alberto Victoro Metallo from Kenosha, Wisconsin and a full-blooded Mexican grandmother whose maiden name was Delores “Lola” Gonzales Mendez from Buffalo, New York. Growing up in proximity to such Old World influence and foreign culture, it undeniably watered down the sweet tea of my Southern raising.

It ultimately gave me the ability to hear everyone else’s Alabama accent, which I likely disassociated myself from, subconsciously.

The Southern Accent became as noticeable to me as the Midwestern Accent, like I had heard on TV; meaning it sounded theatrical, not natural, to me.

But it’s not just in my more neutralized accent, it’s also in my detachment from Southern culture. I didn’t grow up watching sports, since my dad (who actually is a full Southerner himself) was into karate instead. Therefore, I wasn’t too interested in playing sports. Admittedly, I barely understand the basic rules of football.

Instead, I was interested in exploring the woods and riding my bike. I grew up in the mountains of northern Alabama, surrounded by DeSoto State Park, DeSoto Falls, and Little River Canyon.

However, going back more the way of the Southerner, I regularly attend monster truck shows. If I could own any vehicle, I would either choose a Toyota Tacoma or a Jeep Wrangler.

I’m in the midst of a minor identity crisis. How Southern am I?

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Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

6 years, 3 months.

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

Dear Jack,

Just a few weeks ago, you and I had our first official Weekend of Manliness when we ventured to Monster Jam, saw Rogue One, and went sledding in the snow. Fortunately, with your Grandma visiting from California to help watch your baby sister, you and I got to spend plenty of time together again; aside from spending last weekend together at the Children’s Hospital for your near-bout with surgery.

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

We started out our 2nd Weekend of Manliness on Saturday morning by putting on our special father and son socks by Pair of Thieves, which included a matching pair for both the kid and the dad. Mommy got them for us at Christmas, and I figured this event one be the best event to try them out.

You and I both agreed they are the most comfortable socks we have ever worn! In fact, this morning when I was getting you dressed for school, you insisted on wearing them for the 3rd day in a row. (Shhh… we won’t let Mommy know about that.)

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

Our journey began when we took off in own beast-on-wheels (my 2004 Honda Element, which I’ve now officially owned for 11 years!) to go see the Monster Trucks movie. You have been wanting to see it ever since last summer when we saw the first trailer for it while watching the newest Star Trek movie.

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

We enjoyed it so much we both agreed that we already want to see it again!

I left it up to you where we we’d go for lunch. I shouldn’t have been surprised- you decided on your favorite: Moe’s. You admitted to me that you chose it because you knew you’d get a juice box and a cookie with your meal. I’m always happy to go there because, as a manly vegan, I can get plenty of healthy veggies and protein when I order their “Earmuffs with tofu.”

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

Afterwards, we headed home for a Netflix movie of your choice: To my surprise, you choose an old American classic from 1975: Steven Spielberg’s Jaws. I feared it would be too slow of a pace for you, but you loved every minute of it; just like you loved Jurassic Park.

I was amazed when they caught the shark they thought was the culprit, and you immediately blurted out, “Hey Daddy, that’s a tiger shark! I can tell because of the stripes!”

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

Just moments later, Richard Dreyfuss’s character (Hooper) confirmed you were right; when he explained to the other characters in the movie that a tiger shark could not be responsible for the attacks because its bite radius wasn’t big enough.

Seriously, you are such a smart kid! I understand that perhaps Jaws wouldn’t be most 6 year-old kids’ first choice for a movie to watch with their dad on a lazy Saturday afternoon, but it’s clear that your fascination with science (and animals, in particular) led you to be glued to this movie. You loved watching the 3 main characters hunt for the killer shark.

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

On a related note, your glow-in-the-dark dinosaur fossil decals arrived: Your bedroom has a new, relevant look to match what you’re into these days.

It had been a few hours since our manly meal on Moe’s, soo I made an executive decision for us to swing by Jamba Juice, which was about half-way (and right off the Interstate) to downtown Nashville, where we would be experiencing ArenaCross for the first time.

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

When we arrived, I realized our seats were indeed right next to my co-worker Stephanie’s family; who won the giveaway tickets on my blog a couple of weeks ago. Even though her daughter is a 4th grader and you are a Kindergartner, the two of you quickly became buddies!

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

We watched the motorcycles fly high into the air as they raced around the track. I learned over and asked you, “Jack, do you ever want to ride one of those bikes?”

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

You shook your head “no” but I’m not convinced. I could tell you thought it was really cool.

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

Our 2nd Weekend of Manliness was a success, as we knew it would be. We shall be ever ready for our next special father and son weekend!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Weekend of Manliness 2: ArenaCross at Bridgestone Arena/Monster Trucks Movie/Jaws on Netflix

Dear Jack: Monster Jam 2017 (Weekend of Manliness! in a 2004 Honda Element, Part 2/3)

6 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack: Monster Jam 2017 (Weekend of Manliness! in a 2004 Honda Element, Part 2/3)

Dear Jack,

The next stop of our Weekend of Manliness! was Monster Jam in downtown Nashville. We loaded up in my salty and dusty 2004 Honda Element (which doesn’t even have cruise control) and made our way through 40 miles of country roads and interstate to the Bridgestone Arena.

Dear Jack: 1st Snow of 2017 (Weekend of Manliness! in a 2004 Honda Element, Part 1/3)

We thoroughly enjoyed seeing Monster Jam this past summer at Nissan Stadium when Papa was in town. Fortunately, we got to see those monster trucks just 6 months later- this time along with their dune buggy and ATV counterparts!

I have to say; there is definitely something therapeutic about two guys- a father and son– sitting up in the nosebleeds watching beastly trucks fly into the air. It was like we were sitting on top of the world, watching the monster trucks race around the truck, secretly hoping to see them roll over- especially if it wasn’t one of our favorites, like Zombie or Gravedigger.

Dear Jack: Monster Jam 2017 (Weekend of Manliness! in a 2004 Honda Element, Part 2/3)

During the show, we didn’t have much to say to each other… we didn’t need to. For us, watching the monster trucks at Monster Jam, over these past 3 years I’ve been taking you to Monster Jam, has become like seeing art.

We soak it in. We appreciate it. We become one with the monster truck experience.

As I expected, the moment we got home that day, you immediately ran upstairs and got your toy monster trucks. All your indoor playtime then revolved around monster truck competitions: The twist was that your toy dinosaurs got involved and caused some additional chaos.

Dear Jack: Monster Jam 2017 (Weekend of Manliness! in a 2004 Honda Element, Part 2/3)

It’s a given: Boys like monster trucks.

Therefore, it was very important for us to attend Monster Jam as part of our Weekend of Manliness! I was so proud to share that experience with you.

Granted, that wasn’t our last stop on our Weekend of Manliness! tour. After Monster Jam, we made our way to the Green Hills Mall to see what we already knew would be an amazing movie: Rogue One!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Monster Jam 2017 (Weekend of Manliness! in a 2004 Honda Element, Part 2/3)

Weekend of Manliness! January 2017 Series:

1st Snow of 2017

Monster Jam 2017

Rogue One Star Wars

Upcoming Monster Jam Event: January 7th-8th at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena

Upcoming Monster Jam Event: January 7th & 8th at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena

Yep, it’s that time again! We’re going to the upcoming Monster Jam event in Nashville at the Bridgestone Arena; taking place January 7th and 8th, 2017.

There are 3 shows:

The first is on Saturday, January 7th at 1 PM.

Then the next is that night at 7 PM.

And the final show is the next day on Sunday, January 8th at 1 PM.

For years now, we have been attending Monster Jam. We are huge fans, as you surely know by now!

And today, thanks to the folks at Monster Jam, I am able to give away 4 tickets to giveaway away for the show of your choice!

The winner is Adrianne Smith, who was the first to leave a comment here on this blog (not on Facebook) asking me if you just won tickets to the upcoming Monster Jam event.

Maybe you’ll see us there!

Upcoming Monster Jam Event: January 7th & 8th at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena

Dear Jack: Monster Jam at the Nissan Stadium for Father’s Day 2016

5 years, 7 months.

Dear Jack: Monster Jam at the Nissan Stadium for Father’s Day 2016

Dear Jack,

This past weekend made our 4th time in 3 years to go to a Monster Jam show. Clearly, we are fans! However, this made the first time that Papa got to go with us. He filled in for Mommy, since she was home with your baby sister Holly, along with Nonna.

Dear Jack: Monster Jam at the Nissan Stadium for Father’s Day 2016

You and Holly got Papa and me our own special t-shirts for Father’s Day. Plus, you drew Papa a special Father’s Day picture which features you, Papa, and me as dogs, as well as Whiskers; a stray cat that stayed with Nonna and Papa for a few weeks around Thanksgiving last year.

Dear Jack: Monster Jam at the Nissan Stadium for Father’s Day 2016

Another thing that made this time special was that it marked the first time Monster Jam was held at the Nissan Stadium in downtown Nashville, which is outdoors; as compared to the Bridgestone Area where it is normally held.

Dear Jack: Monster Jam at the Nissan Stadium for Father’s Day 2016

Not only was the noise not so bad since it was outdoors, but there was more room for the trucks to do their thing. And, you counted over 13 different trucks… maybe even 20! That’s the most we’ve ever seen at a Monster Jam event.

Dear Jack: Monster Jam at the Nissan Stadium for Father’s Day 2016

This was definitely my favorite Monster Jam show so far! So much action…

We had really good seats- any closer and we may have gotten mud slung on us!

Dear Jack: Monster Jam at the Nissan Stadium for Father’s Day 2016

You were very happy to see your favorite monster truck, Zombie, was there. I don’t think the driver intended this to happen, but the truck was smoking as it flew through the air. And just like the last time we saw Zombie, the truck lost one of its arms during all the action.

Dear Jack: Monster Jam at the Nissan Stadium for Father’s Day 2016

That’s similar to the case with El Toro Loco, which lost one of its horns after the truck did a back flip. To our surprise, as seen on the big screen, the driver apparently gave away the broken horn to one lucky fan.

Dear Jack: Monster Jam at the Nissan Stadium for Father’s Day 2016

Dear Jack: Monster Jam at the Nissan Stadium for Father’s Day 2016

Ultimately, it seems that the “back flip ramp” had a lot to do with which truck would ultimately win the completion, as doing a backf lip earned the driver extra bonus points, but at the same time greatly risked putting the truck out of commission if it landed upside-down.

Dear Jack: Monster Jam at the Nissan Stadium for Father’s Day 2016

The show ended with the winner being announced: Hot Wheels. Then we were all pleasantly surprised by fireworks!

Dear Jack: Monster Jam at the Nissan Stadium for Father’s Day 2016

Getting to go to the Monster Jam really made Father’s Day special for Papa and me. As always, you and I are looking forward to going back to Monster Jam the next time it comes to Nashville.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Monster Jam at the Nissan Stadium for Father’s Day 2016

Dear Jack: We were at the 2016 Monster Jam in Nashville!

5 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack: We were at the 2016 Monster Jam in Nashville!

Dear Jack,

It’s simply family tradition by now that we attended the Monster Jam truck show this past weekend. This made our 3rd time; and both you and Mommy declared for yourselves… this was your favorite.

And I would have to agree.

As did the Fulmer family, who won the ticket giveaway on my blog, Family Friendly Daddy Blog.

Dear Jack: We were at the 2016 Monster Jam in Nashville!

They told me their little boy cried once the show was over and he realized the trucks wouldn’t be coming back out. That’s how you know it was a good show!

The action was simply non-stop. This was the first time we had seen the wheelie popping contest.

It was great being able to see these huge monster trucks leap straight into the air, thanks to the dirt ramps in the middle of the arena.

Dear Jack: We were at the 2016 Monster Jam in Nashville!

Whether I should admit this or not, it’s always interesting to watch what happens when the monster trucks flip over.

This happened at least twice while we were there.

The first time was with Gravedigger. I took this handy little video to share with the world:

And then it happened again with Zombie. I took pictures of that, as opposed to a video.

There’s a little bulldozer on standby that comes to the rescue, which flips the monster truck upright- obviously, the driver runs out of the vehicle first.

Zombie was your favorite. You loved how “his” arms waved in front of him the whole time.

Dear Jack: We were at the 2016 Monster Jam in Nashville!

Something that really caught my attention this time around is how diverse the monster truck industry is becoming. I love what I’m seeing.

I noticed that Scooby Doo, which happened to be one of the best performing trucks at the show, is driven by a female, Nichole Johnson from California.

Dear Jack: We were at the 2016 Monster Jam in Nashville!

Going back to your favorite monster truck that day, Zombie, its driver is Bari Musawwir.

This shows me that monster trucks have officially gone mainstream. I celebrate that.

The diversity of the audience demonstrated this as well. Monster trucks are for everyone and anyone who shows up to watch the action.

Dear Jack: We were at the 2016 Monster Jam in Nashville!

Our family is faithful to Monster Jam each year when they come through Nashville.

Before we had left for the show, you were imagining dragons as you took some time to draw a dragon before the show; not even knowing there was a monster truck called Dragon.

Dear Jack: We were at the 2016 Monster Jam in Nashville!

Of all coincidences, after the show we stopped by Walmart to let you pick out a monster truck. Sure enough, they had Dragon, which again, you didn’t even know existed.

Needless to say, you’ve been clutching “him” tightly in bed for the past couple of night, like you do your stuffed animals.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: We were at the 2016 Monster Jam in Nashville!

Meet Us at the January 9th, 2016 Monster Jam in Nashville, TN!

Meet Us at the January 9th, 2016 Monster Jam in Nashville, TN

For the past two years, in both 2014 as well as 2015, our family has attended the Monster Jam event. This year will be no different. Our calendar is marked for 2:00 PM on Saturday, January 9th, 2016; just a few weeks away.

When you have a 5 year-old son, it’s only natural that, by default, your family is into monster trucks.

His collection of toy monster trucks grows every year. He draws them all the time at school. And he loves to build them out of his Legos.

That’s actually the main thing he keeps rebuilding each time he plays with those blocks.

While Nashville is known worldwide for its live shows, the one show we can’t miss is Monster Jam at Bridgestone Arena.

Just a couple of months ago, my son and I were able to experience the adventure of riding full speed in an actual monster truck, at the Spring Hill Ham Fest.

Please check out this video I spent a lot of time on. I think it’s really cool to see how fast the monster truck went and how happy my son was to be there.

The folks at Monster Jam are courteous to provide free tickets to one lucky family who is reading this right now.

The contest explained below is now closed, as the winner is the Fulmer family out of Murphreesboro, TN. 

The Fulmers were the first go to the Family Friendly Daddy Blog Facebook page, and leave a comment where I shared this post there on that page on Facebook (which is called, Meet Us at the January 9th, 2016 Monster Jam in Nashville, TN).

In the comment, they told me their child’s favorite Monster Jam monster truck and asked me if they are the winner of the Monster Jam tickets.

Meet Us at the January 9th, 2016 Monster Jam in Nashville, TN