Dear Jack: Going to See Movies in the Theater Isn’t a Big Deal to You Anymore

7 years, 6 months.

Dear Jack,

When I was kid, getting to go see a movie in a theater was quite an event! It was a special occasion that I never took for granted.

Maybe it’s a generational thing, but I have learned you are sort of already over going to see movies.

I carefully planned our family’s weekend schedule around seeing the newest Star Wars movie earlier this year. But when the time came, after groceries were bought and put away, the bathrooms were cleaned, and I got your sister to sleep for her nap, you asked me, “Daddy, do we have to go see it? Can we just wait until it comes out on Netflix?”

So we didn’t go.

Selfishly, I was disappointed because it would have given me an uninterrupted break for 3 hours on a Sunday afternoon. No responsibilities, yet still serving as a form of spending quality time with you.

But no, I wasn’t going to make you to the the movies. Instead, you just wanted to play at our house.

Though it’s a struggle, I suppose I can understand where you’re coming from… a little bit. After all, these days it seems all the new Star Wars, Marvel, and Disney movies end up on Netflix anyway. And for a movie over 2 hours, it’s nice being able to not have to commit to it all in one viewing.

I admit, too; with all the amazing movies constantly coming out, it’s a little exhausting keeping up with them all.

So much for Sunday afternoons free of parental responsibilities.

Maybe it’s just a phase. Maybe by the time I’m no longer constantly exhausted once you and your sister are older and more independent, when I finally need less of a break, then you’ll see it as a worthwhile experience to go see a movie in the theater.

Until then, Netflix it is.

Love,

Daddy

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Stay-at-Home Dad 101: I Actually Get Less Sleep, Less Exercise, and Less Time to Relax; Compared to When I Worked a “Real Job” in an Office

I am definitely not complaining. I love being a stay-at-home dad who works on the side as a freelance writer and YouTuber. This is who I am now.

My kids are amazing. My heart melts every time I see them. I am one lucky dad!

Just look at them… ah!

But I will say, if I’m allowed to be honest (?)… back when I worked in the office doing a “real job”, I undeniably got more rest, more time to myself, and even more time to exercise.

As a stay-at-home dad who works from home, I am “on” from the moment the first child wakes up (around 6:15 AM) until the moment I get the last of my YouTube videos shot for the day (around 10:30 PM). Not to mention, it is also my role to get up with our daughter in the middle of the night when she suddenly wakes up; I’m the one who gets her back to sleep, if she’ll go back to sleep.

And all throughout the day I’m racing to get work done, during any break I get, like when my daughter falls asleep for a 90 minute naps; which is how I’m typing this now).

Compare that to when I worked in HR in an office, which was a nearly hour-long drive from my house. Even though I was the one dropping off both kids at their separate day cares, it still gave me close to an hour to work, then an hour from work, to myself.

I could sit in a car for nearly two hours a day and listen to music as I commuted. I had time to be by myself and think.

Plus, I had two 10 minute breaks in addition to an hour lunch break each day.

There was even an abandoned closet in the back of the building where it was an unspoken rule that you could take a nap there during your lunch break; which I regularly did, sleeping on the floor, using a jacket as my pillow.

Additionally, I used the park next to my office as my gym, where it was easy to get an all natural work-out.

Yeah, I don’t have those advantages now. I’m working on blog posts, YouTube videos, or household chores during every free moment I get. And I can’t just take a 20 month-old little girl outside in the extreme temperature, to get exercise for myself.

It’s always a constant race to get work done before my daughter wakes up. (I’m currently about 12 minutes away from that happening now…)

So you can imagine, I find it a foreign concept when I read a comment like this on one of my videos:

“You are a good stay at home dad. My husband would just be napping or watching the TV. I know what my husband’s DNA is, the lazy gene ha ha ha ha ha. Love your videos…”

I love having the privilege of staying at home with my kids while my wife sacrifices by being the one to work full-time; bringing in the majority of our income, as well as insurance and benefits.

But I won’t deny, just like with any job, mine has got its downsides.

Every once in a while, I reluctantly give myself a break, and will take a nap while my daughter is asleep. I’ve done that about 3 times since I began a stay-at-home dad nearly 3 months ago.

But then I wake up and realize how much work I have to catch up on!

Oh… yep… speaking of… She just woke up.

Parental Review: Stranger Things 2 (Netflix Original Series- 2nd Season)

I must declare that the 2nd season of Netflix’s Stranger Things is even better than the first! But that’s not what you’re here for. Instead, you want to know if Stranger Things 2 is appropriate for your child.

To help you out, I’ve divided the potentially offensive content in to categories for your convenience:

Profanity:

Like with the first season, there are no major curse words, like “g—d—“ or “f—“. However, every episode contains multiple uses of “sh—“ and many of the episodes contain the phrase “son of a b—-“ and/or “d-ck”. And most of the the profanity is said by the 13 year-old children.

Sex/Nudity:

Most episodes are free of sensuality, but there is mid-season episode in which it is undeniably implied that 2 teenagers (who are protagonists) engage in sexual activity, behind closed doors.

Violence:

There is heavy violence throughout the series, including many onscreen deaths. Additionally, there are many uses of guns and weapons.

Drugs/Alcohol:

There is regular use of cigarettes and beer by teens, as well as adult characters.

Dark Themes:

The overall theme of Stranger Things 2 is definitely darker (and better) than the first season.

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

As for a child watching Stranger Things 2, I say the best comparison for inappropriate content for children would be the movie, X-Men: Apocolypse; regarding profanity, sex, violence, drugs/alcohol, and dark themes.

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

At worst, treat it as a PG-13 rated movie that you watch with your child, until the moment you feel uncomfortable with the show.

Though Stranger Things 2 is not a show for kids, it’s a show that some kids will definitely want to watch; leading us back to that paradox of how violent PG-13 rated superhero movies appeal to kids.

I hope this helps.

Netflix’s “Anne With An E” is the Next Show You Should Binge Watch, Even If No One’s Buzzing about It on Facebook

Though my wife and I have been thoroughly enjoying the fact our 1 year-old daughter has been sleeping through the night for the past 7 months, and therefore enabling us to go to bed by 10 o’clock each night, we found a reason to stay up a little bit past our bed time.

I am of course referring to a new show on Netflix that your friends aren’t talking about on Facebook, but should be: Anne With An E.

The series is somewhat loosely based on the 1908 novel, Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Despite maintaining a TV-PG rating, this version of the story is a bit darker and edgier than the book, and especially more so than the 1985 miniseries.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the premise, here’s the concept:

Back in the days of trains, horses, general stores, and doctors who made house calls, an aging brother and sister in Canada choose to adopt a teenage boy to help them work their farm.

However, the orphanage sends them a girl instead; likely in an attempt to get rid of her.

She’s skinny, red headed, and freckle-faced. She also full of imagination, a chatter box, and extremely intelligent.

Anne is an orphan girl who has never been adopted by a family before and truly doesn’t know what it is to actually be loved by anyone she’s ever met; as her parents died when she was a baby.

Here’s why my wife and I love this show so much, having watched the entire season in less than a week:

Annie With An E is the story of an unloved girl who doesn’t know how to fit in, but who finds a way to win the hearts of the people she encounters. For me, a good story is based on character arc more than anything.

This series does an excellent job of showing how the main characters change for the better from episode to episode- and how forgiveness, along with open-mindedness, are crucial for this evolution.

If I haven’t convinced you yet, I’ll simply leave you with the opening sequence and theme song for Netflix’s Anne with an E.

Dear Jack: Your Unashamed Obsession with the Dinosaur Documentary, Dinotasia

  1. 6 and a half years.

Dear Jack,

Saturday morning as Mommy bought the groceries at Kroger, I stayed home with you and your sister, letting you pick something to watch on Netflix until Mommy got back.

We scrolled through the “Because You Watched Jurassic Park” suggestions and came across a seemingly appropriate selection: Dinotasia. As opposed to being a movie like you’re used to watching, it’s more of a documentary that shows what life was like for dinosaurs, featuring CGI cartoons, as opposed to interviews with paleontologists.

So I explained that to you before I clicked play, “This is a dinosaur documentary.”

As I assume all Kindergarten boys are, you are thoroughly obsessed with dinosaurs with the same degree of passion as you are with Pokemon characters.

Every night before bed, I read to you from your giant Dinosaurs book, as you learn the names and unique features of each dinosaur.

So by watching Dinotasia, you were able to correctly shout out, “Hey Daddy, that’s a Pachycephalosaurus!”

I know I’ve said this a lot before, but you really are a smart kid.

We were able to finish the documentary before Mommy got back with the groceries. And of course, you bombarded her when she came through the door, as you told her all about the dinosaur documentary we had just watched.

Then the next morning on Sunday, you woke up early to watch Dinotasia, a 2nd time; this time with Mommy.

Later that day, as we were leaving from church, Mommy asked you what you did in your group class, which includes some kids that are a bit older than you.

“I told them about the dinosaur documentary, Dinotasia. There was this older girl who thought I was only 3 years old and she didn’t think a 3 year-old could watch a documentary, but I told her I am in Kindergarten.”

We typically talk about what we value. You obviously value Dinotasia. I like having a son who proudly watches dinosaur documentaries.

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.

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.

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.

Pee-wee’s Big Holiday: Parental Guide Summary & 5 Minute Movie Review

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On March 18th, Netflix released Pee-wee’s new movie, Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday. My family sat down the day of its release to be one of the first families to watch it.

Not only are my 5 year-old son and I fans of Pee-wee’s work, I was also very curious to find out if this is a kids’ movie or not.

For your convenience, I made this video that goes through every possibly offensive word and innuendo.

Here’s a quick run-down though:

The only true “cuss word” in the movie is near the end, when Pee-Wee Herman is told he is a “bad *ss”.

Pee-Wee himself uses the word “cr*ppy”, as well as two uses of the word “fudge”, as a substitute for something more intense. He also uses the phrase, “halfway to hell,” but it’s in reference to the literal hell, in a sort of Biblical sense.

And I should point out there are 8 uses of the word “stupid” and one use of the word “oh my gosh,” which I am aware are considered bad words in the world of 5 year-olds.

Like the previous two Pee-wee movies, Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure in 1985 and Big Top Pee-wee in 1988, language really isn’t what keeps these movies from being a true kids’ movie- it’s the ongoing innuendoes that children likely won’t pick up on, but parents will.

As a parent, this movie will keep you wondering if things are about to get out of hand, but they tame down just in time, each time.

Here are some examples.

-While the movie contains no actual violence, Pee-Wee is held against his will on multiple accounts by people using knives, and eventually a shotgun.

-A woman straddles Pee-wee as she hijacks his car after robbing a bank.

-The 3 women who rob the bank take Pee-Wee to a motel room and tie him up to a chair, then invite male strippers who walk in wearing police uninforms but then strip down to bikini briefs; getting into a pillow fight with the women.

-Soon after Pee-Wee finds potential safety when he arrives at Farmer Brown’s house, only to learn his 9 daughters try to sneak in Pee-wee’s bedroom during the night. He escapes by jumping out of the window.

-Eventually Pee-wee takes a ride on a tour bus with 4 hairdressers, 2 of which are gender-bending men; which may be confusing to children, as was the case with my son.

-There is also a shower scene showing a man with his shirt off. Another bathing scene shows a man and a women assumingly taking a bath together in a wooden tub; though it is briefly showing afterwards the woman has a bathing suit on.

I believe it is worth noting that by the end of the movie, Pee-Herman is referred to multiple times as a boy; when he falls in a well and the story is covered by the news, the headline reads, “Boy in Well.”

So keep in mind that Pee-wee Herman is a boy (not a man, though he is played by the 63 year-old Jewish actor Paul Reubens). Therefore, the “boy” character is thrown into adult situations in which he can not be prepared for.

Also keep in mind this concept is no different than his first movie- remember in Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure when he ended up at that bar and saved himself from a violent fight by entertaining the motorcycle gang by dancing?

While my wife wasn’t a fan of this movie’s content, I enjoyed watching it with my son. At age 5, he was too young to pick up on any of the inappropriate material.

He and I enjoyed the non-stop humor of this movie. It’s non-stop laughs and adventure.

It’s rated TV-PG, but I would give it a “light PG-13” rating if it were a movie in a theatre, similar to Ant-Man.

Based on my analysis and my videos, I’ll let you be the judge on whether or not Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday is suitable for your family.