Dear Jack: You Now Bike Over to Your Friend’s House Everyday After School

10 years, 5 months.

Dear Jack,

I feel like my generation, The Oregon Trail Generation (in between Generation X and Millennials), was the last generation to be able to freely roam around as kids, while our parents didn’t really know where we were… until we drove our bikes back in time for dinner.

But now, as you are about to finish 4th grade, you are officially at the point where when you get off the bus after school, you now come in, grab a snack, then bike over to your friend Landon’s house until it’s time for dinner.

And he doesn’t simply live down the street. He technically lives two neighborhoods beyond ours.

I bought you a digital watch with an alarm, to alert you when it’s time to come back home for dinner.

You are growing up!




The Oregon Trail Game Vs. Actual Car Trips With Kids

August 20, 2012 at 8:21 pm , by 

21 months.

Looking back over 20 years later, that green-and-black “educational” game we played during computer class was not only not really all that educational, but it somehow completely glamorized the turmoil of those Americans who actually made the trek to Oregon.

(Sort of like the way 16 and Pregnant does with teen pregnancy, but that’s a whole other story I’ve already written about.)

The Oregon Trail made you not really mind so much when a member in your wagon died, due to a snakebite, dysentery, cholera, typhoid, exhaustion, or measles.

Even if it was morbid and I’m just now realizing it, I suppose it was fun to get to write on the fallen member’s tombstone.

And boy was it exciting to hunt my own furry food: squirrels, rabbits, bison, deer, elk and bears. If my aim was really good that day, I would kill over 200 pounds of meat and not be able to fit it all on the wagon. (Bragging rights!)

If only driving your kid around in the car was that much fun.

I suppose, though, if they could make The Oregon Trail such a glorious and engaging game, they could do the same thing with take a road trip with your kid.

Just like in The Oregon Trail game, you would have to pack enough clothes and food before you even head out.

While it’s not likely that anyone in the car would die of a snakebite or dysentery, it’s possible I could die of annoyance because my son keeps pretending to drop toys in the back seat, then cries when I don’t pick them up for him, causing me to explain that as long as the car is moving, my job is to keep us all safe by paying attention to the road.

As the parent who drives our kid around almost exclusively, I know how challenging and nerve-wracking the process is. My 30 minute drive to and then back from work each day used to be my “reflection time.”

Now the only reflecting that goes on is me looking in the review mirror to see my son dousing his shirt in water from his cup and stuffing his shorts full of Goldfish crackers.


School Lunch Pizza

School lunches weren’t always awful. In fact, sometimes what they were serving in the lunchroom ended up being the highlight of the school day. I always loved “Chef Salad Day” because that was a larger than average meal, plus it was guaranteed we would get a good dessert to offset the healthiness of the salad. And “Chicken Finger Day” was good because they served the chicken with mashed potatoes which I used as dipping sauce. So good.

But of course, there was one legendary favorite lunch, which has become immortalized along with other fond memories of elementary school like Oregon Trail in the computer lab, or that miraculous loudspeaker announcement that we would be getting out of two hours of class because the local community college was promoting their newest play in the auditorium. I am referring to, of course, the always-satisfying “school lunch pizza”.

A simple 4×6 inch flat pizza consisting of a crust reminiscent of Saltine crackers, brushed with tangy red sauce consisting of one sole herb (oregano), and covered in magical government cheese. Of course, I would do my best to scrounge up enough spare change to afford an extra “slice” of rectangle pizza for a dollar.

Every once in a while, I would get lucky because the first 15 minutes of lunch went by and the girl sitting diagonally across from me still hadn’t touched her pizza (or had only taken a small bite out of the corner). At that point, I would softly and nonchalantly ask the famous question, “Do you want your pizza?”

The weird thing is, just recently I realized that our school lunch pizzas didn’t even have any toppings. No meat! How did I just now realize that? As a 9 year-old boy, I would completely devour Burger King’s Double Whopper Combo Meal. Yet I never realized that those pizzas were just dough, sauce, and cheese.

And one more thing… Now that you’ve read my take on this, 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


Pickles Make for Good Reading Material- Episode 5

If the only way you could eat any meat was by actually killing the animal yourself, would you still be a carnivore?


I am aware that I am a hypocrite. Because if I could only eat the meat of animals that I killed myself, I would dang near be a vegetarian. Fish don’t really make sounds or look at me, so I could kill them. And eggs. Plus they don’t have to suffer such a violent death as noise-making, blood-spilling cattle, chickens, turkeys, and pigs.

The thought of eating the veins, muscles, and fat of what was recently a living being is so weird. But still for every lunch and most dinners, I eat a meal consisting of cut-up chunks of animal flesh. And aside from the act of slaughtering an animal, there’s the cleaning and processing of the carcass.

The only animals I have a desire to kill are the ones that want to kill me. And so far no grizzly bears, killer wolves, rabid foxes, spitting cobras, or hoof-punching deer have tried to attack me. Just mosquitoes. And they deserve to die because they’re trying to steal my blood. And blood is life. They are trying to kill me; therefore they deserve to die.

When it comes down to it, I’m a vegetarian at heart. Just not in action. The main reason I’m not a practicing vegetarian is because I don’t see how that would be a practical lifestyle.


We plan so much of our lives around eating. When people get together for more than a few hours, a meal is often involved. What if I went to dinner at someone’s house and they grilled out hamburgers for me and there was no salad available? What would I eat, just a bun with ketchup and onions and pickles?

Often vegetarians eat portabella mushrooms instead of meat. Maybe I could do that with pickles. Put a slab of pickles in between two buns. I can see it now, taking the nation by storm: Pickle Burgers, because…


“If you don’t hear that crunch, then it ain’t worth the munch!’

Pickles Make for Good Reading Material Table of Contents:

Episode 1
Episode 2
Episode 3
Episode 4
Episode 5