Throwback Thursday: My “Non-Human” Appearance in 1990

Throwback Thursday: My "Non-Human" Appearance in 1990

Today my sister found an old picture of us when my friend Will Biddle was spending the night, back in the summer of 1990.  Her caption simply read:

“You don’t even look human in this picture! I can’t stop laughing!”

After I saw myself, on the far left, I had to instantly agree. I’m assuming my mom was holding the camera, saying, “Okay, now let’s do a silly picture!”

What you see is the result of that.

I guess I was doing my impression of a Goomba from Super Mario Bros. mixed with Steve Urkel? I’m not really sure.

Standing next to me, in the middle, is my friend Will; who sadly, a few months ago, passed away.

And on the far left is my sister.

In an age where posting current pictures of our own kids on Instagram is the norm, it can also be a lot of fun to do the opposite: To show the world the funny kid-version of ourselves from the 80s or 90s.

This photo is 25 years ago.

I hope this picture brought joy to your life today, as it did mine.

Man, we were some funny kids.

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Parental Guide Summary of Pete’s Dragon (2016, Rated PG)

Parental Guide Summary of Pete's Dragon (2016, Rated PG-13)

The new Pete’s Dragon movie takes place in circa-1983, just like this year’s X-Men Apocalypse, as well as Netflix’s summer hit show, Stranger Things. The funny part is, I have no idea why the new Pete’s Dragon movie takes place in the Eighties; it has nothing to do with the plot in any way.

Never at any point do they acknowledge the year. This is simply information you deduce from the clothing, hairstyles, cars, and lack of cell phones. When the movie begins, “1983” doesn’t flash up on the screen.

Similarly, I’m led to believe the movie takes place in either Washington state or Oregon, based on the redwood trees. But they never come out and say that either.

Oh yeah, and, by the way: Take your kids to see this movie!

It is totally worth it. It is the perfect family movie to see in the theater this year. Plenty of heart and adventure, yet not cheesy in any way.

Here’s a breakdown of the new Pete’s Dragon movie, from a “family friendly” perspective:

Profanity:

None; not even any form of “OMG”. There is a mention of literal hell, as the dragon’s eyes are compared to “the color of hell fire.” But I have a feeling no one is going to find that be be offensive.

Sex/Nudity:

Not even a kiss.

Violence:

A crew of men use tranquilizer rifles to hunt down the dragon.

Drugs/Alcohol:

Not even the sight of an empty beer bottle.

Dark Themes:

Just like virtually every Disney movie ever made, the boy becomes an orphan in the opening scene, in the event of a car accident. However, the trauma of this is downplayed greatly: The car is show flipping upside down but the bodies of the parents are not seen.

I strongly recommend this movie. My son just started Kindergarten this week; he’s about 5 and a half years-old. Pete’s Dragon was perfectly relevant and appropriate.

Go right now. Take the kids. See Pete’s Dragon.

Also, here’s the video version of this blog post:

 

What Kind of TV Parents are We? (Infographic Included)

Jason-Maggie-Seaver-growing-pains-5110661-402-512

My wife and I have talked before about which TV parents we are most similar to. We quickly decided that Jason and Maggie Seaver, of the 1980s sitcom Growing Pains (1985-1992), best represent us.

It seems like most TV sitcoms of the 1980s revolved around some kind of amendment to the traditional nuclear family.

Like a wise-cracking alien joining the Tanner house on Alf. Or Uncle Jesse and Joey joining the Tanner House on Full House. And don’t forget how neighbor Steve Urkle basically lived with the Winslows.

But with Growing Pains, there was a nuclear family in which the parents loved each other, and unlike most sitcoms since the 1980s, the dad wasn’t an idiot.

Plus, there was no outsider who is adopted into the family; unless you count the final season in which Leonardo DiCaprio joined the cast, but I figure most of us had stopped watching by that point.

The parents were intelligent, hard-working, and sensitive to the children’s psychological needs. Though that sounds like a pretty normal thing to feature on a family sitcom, it’s not.

Writers on sitcoms often can’t handle a happily married couple with kids. If nothing else, the writers have to kill off one of the parents.

Danny Tanner’s wife died after a drunk driver hit her, on Full House.

Then DJ’s husband died while fighting fires, on Fuller House.

And then if both parents are still alive, the dad is by default, an idiot: Homer Simpson on The Simpsons, Al Bundy on Married with Children, Carl Winslow on Family Matters, Tim Allen on Home Improvement

I would actually argue that the Seavers were actually the most normal, life-like family in the past 30 years, in a sitcom. That’s the simple reason that I believe that Jason Seaver best represents me as a TV dad, and Maggie Seaver represents my wife.

Below is a related flow-chart asking, “Which T.V. Mom are you?”

(Because I fully recognize that the majority of the readers of my blog are not male, but instead female.)

Thanks to Berries.com for this graphic.

Which TV Mom Are You?

Laughing, Looking Back on Our Wedding Album: 3 Things I Noticed

Laughing, Looking through on Our Wedding Album: 3 Things I Noticed

After 7 and a half years of marriage, my wife took it upon herself to go through our hundreds of wedding photos and put the best of them in a new album for us to enjoy.

So we sat down a couple of weeks ago, before continuing our binge watching of Making a Murderer on Netflix, to look through our newly compiled wedding album.

I soon realized that I had probably seen most of those pictures only once before, about 7 and a half years ago when we first received the photos from the photographer we hired.

Laughing, Looking through on Our Wedding Album: 3 Things I Noticed

The first thing I immediately noticed was how different I looked. Those were what I refer to as my “bloated Elvis days”.

That was back when I ate whatever I wanted. Those were the days I would secretly sneak in trips to McDonald’s without my then soon-to-be bride knowing about it; she herself hadn’t been there since 1999, when she simply got an ice cream cone from the drive-through.

Granted, my wife’s health conscious-mindset rubbed off on me, and as we all know, now years into my faithfully vegan lifestyle, I now live a life free of pet allergies, sinus infections, headaches, eczema (dishydrosis), and somewhere around 30 pounds extra that I was carrying around in these old pictures.

Laughing, Looking through on Our Wedding Album: 3 Things I Noticed

The second thing I noticed was my beautiful bride at our wedding (age 26) looks just as beautiful today (age 34).

And the third thing I couldn’t help but notice was that, clearly, everyone there was having a truly wonderful time.

Laughing, Looking through on Our Wedding Album: 3 Things I Noticed

When you’re in the middle of your own wedding and reception, you can only take in and remember so much; especially 7 and a half years later.

Seeing these pictures showed me that not simply did our guests have fun, but they had a remarkably entertaining night out in the legendary little big town of Nashville.

That’s a good thing, considering the financial investment that a wedding is.

Laughing, Looking through on Our Wedding Album: 3 Things I Noticed

We had what I would consider a big wedding and big reception. I feel it was the kind of wedding you see in movies.

Even I myself had only been to a few weddings of that caliber.

It was a party. It was a feast.

Laughing, Looking through on Our Wedding Album: 3 Things I Noticed

It was a wedding of Biblical proportions, where Jesus could have performed His first miracle; when He turned the water into wine.

Not to mention, it was the perfect opportunity for all the Baptists on my side to be able to get away with drinking alcohol; as it serves as a “special occasion” to keep their consciences from bothering them as badly; an unwritten rule in the by-laws of Baptist culture.

Meanwhile, my wife’s guests had no hesitation. (They come from a Catholic background… enough said.)

Laughing, Looking through on Our Wedding Album: 3 Things I Noticed

Not one person in any of these pictures look like they’re just standing there, bored. People are smiling, laughing, and dancing.

There’s this one funny picture where one of my soon-to-be brothers-in-law is dancing with one of my soon-to-be nephews, like they are at a prom. I laugh every time I see it.

Laughing, Looking through on Our Wedding Album: 3 Things I Noticed

One of my favorite pictures of all these is one from the father-daughter dance.

My father-in-law passed away just a couple of months after our wedding. Knowing he was sick, my wife’s many siblings (she has 9) gathered around my wife and my father-in-law while Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Cinderella” played.

Laughing, Looking through on Our Wedding Album: 3 Things I Noticed

I am so grateful for this candid shot of my father-in-law in that historic moment.

So while our wedding cost more than a decent car, looking back on it, it was one amazing wedding.

On my own, I wouldn’t have sat down and looked through our wedding pictures. But thanks to my wife taking the time to put together this new album, it was a blessing to revisit that special day.Laughing, Looking through on Our Wedding Album: 3 Things I Noticed

Dear Jack: What Happens When You Give $100 to a 5 Year-Old Boy for His Birthday?

5 years.

Dear Jack,

We just got back from your “destination birthday party” in Destin, Florida. Instead of having a party back home in Tennessee, the 3 of us (technically 4, if you count Baby Holly or Logan in the womb) decided to take a family vacation to celebrate your 5th birthday. To make things extra special for you, Lexus let us drive a Lexus GX for the trip!

Dear Jack: What Happens When You Give $100 to a 5 Year-Old Boy for His Birthday?

Over the next week or so, I’ll be writing plenty more about your destination birthday party. But as for today, I should mention one of the overall themes our 4 ½ day vacation.

As we were leaving Tennessee, I Instagrammed a picture of you with the stuffed animals you chose to bring on the trip.

Jack is bringing a few of his friends along for the ride.

          Jack is bringing a few of his friends along for the ride.

In the likeness of the 1985 movie Brewster’s Millions, you felt the need to spend all $100’s worth of your gift cards you received as birthday presents before we left Florida.

Mommy and I put the additional cash and checks that you received into your savings account, but as the $100 in gift cards, we decided it was fair to let you manage how it was spent.

After all, it was your birthday party and birthday weekend. Mommy and I wanted it to truly be a big deal to you.

So as soon as we arrived in Destin, we stopped at a Barnes & Noble where you spent your first $15; on a “Shark Week” shark.

I Instagrammed that event as well:

And the beginning of the birthday money spending begins...

 And the beginning of the birthday money spending begins…

We took you to Target to let you possibly spend some of your remaining $85. While Mommy looked around for stuff she needed, I hung out with you for nearly an hour in the toy aisle; serving as your budget manager.

I helped explain to you how much things cost and how much remaining birthday money you would have if you bought that item.

For example, you were interested in a Power Ranger gun that you had seen on their show… but it cost $27!

You ended up buying a $13 Play-Doh ice cream shop. And boy did you have fun with that once we got back to the resort!

However, that was the only item you spent your $100 on that wasn’t a stuffed animal.

You later bought a baby shark while we were on the dolphin cruise. And then a baby penguin when we visited the Gulfarium. Then several more stuffed animals throughout the course of our trip…

Of course, we reminded you that you didn’t have to spend all $100 on the trip. But again, it was your birthday, so we wanted it to be your decision on how you spent the money; since it wasn’t cash that Mommy and I would have put in your savings account without you knowing it.

Dear Jack: What Happens When You Give $100 to a 5 Year-Old Boy for His Birthday?

We reminded you had enough money to buy anything at all you wanted… even a brand-new bike!

However, the reality of it is that as a 5 year-old boy whose parents both work full time, there’s not a lot of time for you to ride your bike; especially since how weekends are often filled with running errands, like buying groceries and getting maintenance done on our cars.

When I considered which toys you actually spend the most time playing with, it’s not the plastic ones so much.

Dear Jack: What Happens When You Give $100 to a 5 Year-Old Boy for His Birthday?

Granted, you love building Legos and you love your massive Hot Wheels and Thomas the Train collections… but ultimately, your exhaustive stuffed animal collection gets the most play time.

Every morning when we get ready for school, you always choose 2 animals to take to school with you.

I get it. You don’t see them as toys, but as real animals that you enjoy taking care of. You love pretend that they are babies that you are in charge of.

Granted, that concept goes well with the fact you have a baby brother or sister on the way…

I recognize these stuffed animals serve as tools for your psychological and social development. They’re much more than just stuffed animals.

Dear Jack: What Happens When You Give $100 to a 5 Year-Old Boy for His Birthday?

So it doesn’t bother me that you spent $100 on stuffed animals (and a Play-Doh set) during your destination birthday party. I’m all for it.

I’m for whatever toys are going to help your development as a little boy. You spent most of your $100 on stuffed animals because in your currency, they hold more value than any other kind of toy.

Ultimately, a decade from now, it’s all the same anyway. Looking back, I’ll know that whether you spent your birthday money on stuffed animals or Power Rangers or Ninja Turtles, it made you happy as a boy on 5th birthday.

And that’s all that matters to me.

Love,

Daddy

For My Dad on His 59th Birthday: 5 Ways He Influenced Who I Am Today

To My Health Nut Dad on His 59th Birthday: 5 Ways He Influenced Who I Am

This morning as my wife and I were getting ready for work, we were talking about the concept of how parents can influence their kids, even without trying to.

For example, no matter how much you praise your child on their abilities, talents, and looks, they can be just as influenced by the way you, the parent, see yourself.

As Bekah on The Wally Show explained yesterday morning, a mother who picks herself apart in front of the mirror will often, by default, teach her daughter to do the same; no matter how much the mother compliments the daughter.

We learn so much from our parents.

Today is my dad’s 59th birthday. So naturally, having just had this conversation, I’ve been thinking all day about the ways my dad made me who I am; whether he meant to or not.

I easily thought of 5 ways:

1)      Diet:

The first story that comes to mind was back in the late 80s one time when my dad stopped to get gas for his Ford Ranchero.

I asked him if I could get a candy bar inside the gas station. He reluctantly said yes, but went on to explain how unhealthy candy bars were, because of “all that sugar”. He told me how little boys my age needed to be eating healthier foods.

That made me curious. I then asked him when the last time he had eaten he candy bar. He replied, “Years… I probably was a boy. But I shouldn’t have, because those things aren’t healthy.”

Similarly, I can also specifically remember, around the same time, we were watching 20/20 on TV and there was a special about how kids were having heart attacks because of their diets.

My dad warned me if I didn’t start eating healthier foods, I could end up like those kids on TV who had heart attacks.

1To My Health Nut Dad on His 59th Birthday: 5 Ways He Influenced Who I Am

In our house, we never had white bread; only wheat. I felt deprived.

Granted, those elementary school years passed, then my teens, then my college years, and I ate horribly the whole time; whenever it was up to me. I didn’t heed his advice.

But by the time I reached my late 20s, I started seeing my processed food diet catch up with me…

Now, look at me. I am the strictest vegan anyone personally knows. If it weren’t for my dad, though, I wouldn’t currently be the healthy man I am.

(And when I say I’m healthy, that’s based on Dr. Thomas John at Vanderbilt Primary Care in Spring Hill, TN; during my visit with him back in April.)

If it weren’t for my dad, these days I would be a highly medicated guy: I would take something daily for severe allergy and sinus issues; and I would still constantly be suffering eczema, paying for prescription medicine to attempt to alleviate it, but not cure it.

That all went away when I became a vegan 2 and a half years ago; not to mention I’ve effortlessly remained in the perfect weight range for my height and weight since then.

I am confident that my dad’s “you better stop eating candy cars or you’re going to be a kid who has a heart attack” comments greatly influenced me for the good; even if I couldn’t appreciate it at the time.

It was ingrained in me from my dad that it’s important to prevent cancer and disease; not simply focus on the cure.

Here’s a webisode that he and I made with my son; which hints on the fact we don’t trust microwaves:

2)      Being active:

Plus, my dad was always physically active. During my entire childhood, he participated in martial arts; he was a black belt. Back in 1992, he even won 1st place in the sparring competition, for his division in northern Alabama.

(As for me in modern day, I regularly run and go mountain biking; plus I take at least two 10 minute walks outside during my breaks.)

Quite regularly, I when I was a kid, I would go with my dad to his Tuesday night practices and workouts. I knew that he would let me get a cheeseburger at Hardee’s on the way home if I went with him.

Here’s another webisode that my dad and I made with my son; which features my dad in one of his classic karate uniforms:

3)      Letting me make my own decisions

And perhaps that’s another way he influenced me: He let me make my own decisions, even sometimes when he knew there was a better way.

I’m not sure I’ll be as hands off with my own son. I don’t know that I can be as Libertarian with my son as my dad was with me.

But had my dad not been so laissez-faire with me (a policy or attitude of letting things take their own course, without interfering), there’s a good chance I would rebelled and acted out as a kid, teenager, and even a young adult.

So twenty years ago, during the reign of grunge, I had the long hair and the baggy jeans; and my dad never once revealed he was concerned about it.

Of course, my dad also taught me, by default, to be calm-assertive.

These qualities are only the tip of the iceberg. In all this, it was not only his words, but more importantly, his actions that inspired me how to live my life.

4)      Faith

Going deeper, I grew up with my dad reading me stories from the Bible for my bedtime stories, teaching my Sunday School classes at our church, and leading the youth group at church.

Therefore, I do my best to lead my own family in the teachings of Christianity; not out of tradition, but as a way of life- serving others, not judging them.

I seriously doubt my blog would be called Family Friendly Daddy Blog if it weren’t for him. He never cussed, so neither do I. Curse words never seemed necessary in order to communicate something worth saying.

For My Dad on His 59th Birthday: 5 Ways He Influenced Who I Am

5)      Politics

And when it comes to politics, I see that I have become my dad as well:

“Vote for the lesser of the two evils; whether that happens to be a Democrat or a Republican.” I remember he told me that a couple elections ago and it’s stuck with me.

A mindset like that requires an individual to use critical thinking beyond what they are taught by either the left wing or the right wing.

After all, they are both wings of the same bird.

Ultimately, he taught me to question the norm. And I do. That is a huge part of who I am.

It’s even one of  the main reasons my wife started dating me, as she has told me before, “You always seem so confident in what you believe, even if it not what most other people believe.”

So really, the way I see it, it’s undeniable that my dad greatly influenced who I am. Today he turns 59 years old. Despite whatever gift card my wife and I mailed him for his birthday, these words today are my gift to him more than anything else.

McGee and Me! Soundtrack: “Hold On” by Michael W. Smith

McGee and Me! Soundtrack: “Hold On” by Michael W. Smith

This post will not be read by the people seeing it on my Facebook or Twitter feeds. Instead, it will be specifically sought out by a small fraction of the Internet who grew up in an explicitly Christian culture. I will become the #1 source when someone Googles “Hold On by Michael W. Smith McGee and Me Soundtrack”.

If you happened to grow up like I did, you were born in the early 1980s and were at church at least twice a week.

And on those days where the teacher was out in Children’s Church (the class where all the kids went during the main church service on Sunday mornings), you walked into the room to see a TV set up with a McGee and Me! VHS set up.

The series consisted of the protagonist Nick (played by Joseph Dammann) who liked draw. That alone was enough reason for me to like the show since I shared the same name and hobby as the main character.

Nick’s doodle, McGee, helped him navigate through moral decisions. Each episode contained an awesome original song composed by James Covell.

All together, there were about a dozen of McGee and Me! episodes. Perhaps the rarest one was “Take Me out of the Ball Game,” which was the only one not to contain a James Covell song.

Instead, its feature song was “Hold On,” by the legendary Michael W. Smith. Strangely, this song was not featured on any other Michael W. Smith album, nor was it on the CD version of the soundtrack; it was only on the cassette version, which I owned.

Another thing that made this song more rare and unheard, was that in addition to the episode being harder to purchase because it was released after the peak of the series popularity, the song was not featured during the action sequence of the episode, but instead during the closing credits.

But as a 6th grader who got my hands on the cassette tape version of the McGee and Me! soundtrack, I didn’t know any of this. I just knew I loved the song.

In fact, I bought my first portable cassette player especially so I could listen to this soundtrack. All the songs were amazing, but my favorite was “Hold On” by Michael W. Smith.

I think it’s safe to say that the “new original song for every new episode” formula in my original webseries, Jack-Man, has something I learned from seeing McGee and Me! as a kid and loving the soundtrack.

Please feel free to share your own warm memories of McGee and Me! Show me I’m not alone in my nostalgic thoughts!

5McGee and Me! Soundtrack: “Hold On” by Michael W. Smith