Dear Holly: Your Surprise Christmas Gift Arrived in the Mail!

1 year, 8 months.

Dear Holly,

The plan was for Uncle Joe, Aunt Rebecca, and your cousin Savannah to drive up from Pensacola to spend the Christmas holidays in Alabama with us at Nonna and Papa’s house. That was inspired by how well their Thanksgiving visit went just a month earlier.

However, the three of them got way too sick to ever leave Florida. So sadly, unfortunately, we didn’t get to see them as planned.

But even still, our family was pleasantly surprised this past week when an expected box arrived on our doorstep.

It turns out, Aunt Rebecca had our Christmas gifts shipped to us in the mail, so we could celebrate Christmas a little bit longer, into the new year.

I loved watching you open your gift. Your face lit up, “Baby!!!”

It was a Cabbage Patch Kids Cuties doll. And since that day you opened it, you’ve yet to spend a day without it.

You take the doll with you to bed, you push it in the stroller, and you attempt to even eat your meals with it.

As for your brother Jack, he was obviously pleased to receive a whoopee cushion, silly string, and slime. And Mommy loved her Mary Kay products.

Even I received something cool!

It’s a new mug with a big pickle for a handle. The next day at lunch, you sat next to me as I enjoyed my standard Ramen noodles it; while you munched on oatmeal.

There’s just nothing like getting a gift after you weren’t expecting to get anymore gifts. Typically, if there’s a mysterious box waiting for us on our doorstep, it’s because Mommy ordered something on Amazon, like a new water filter for our refrigerator.

But not this time.

This time, our whole family got a fun surprise!

Love,

Daddy

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Dear Jack: Our Day Trip to Pensacola (Ride the Lightning 2017 Toyota Prius Road Trip)

6 and a half years.

Dear Jack,

Mommy has 7 brothers, so that means you have 7 uncles on her side of the family. And since most of them live in different states scattered across America, it can be quite difficult for you to get to know them.

Fortunately, last week while our family was in Florida, you got to spend some great quality time with Uncle Joe and Aunt Rebecca. They recently moved to Pensacola, from northern California where Mommy grew up. (You remembered him from a couple of years ago when you swam at his pool).

Our condo was in Destin, which is just about an hour away from Pensacola.

So we took the 2017 Toyota Prius on a one hour drive to visit them, along with Grandma, for lunch at Jaco’s.

After we dined on pizza (mine had avocado instead of cheese to suit my vegan needs)…

We visited Uncle Joe and Aunt Rebecca’s new house, which is currently under construction.

You were less interested in the grand tour and more focused on putting yourself to work outside in the hot Florida sun.

Using a scrap piece of marble counter top, you smashed rocks into powder. Uncle Joe didn’t even pay you for your labor!

Well, actually, I take that back… He and Aunt Rebecca followed us back to Destin and stayed with us the rest of the week- and our first day there together in Destin, he took us out to lunch at a wonderful Mexican place called Don Pedros.

While we waited for the food to arrive, Uncle Joe and Aunt Rebecca helped you download fun dinosaur games on their phones for you to play.

As I sat across from the three of you, it became very obvious I was truly witnessing the dynamics of a young boy who was naturally enjoying getting to know his uncle and aunt.

But there was much more fun to come, as we then ventured over to the go-kart race track!

To be continued…

Love,

Daddy

This is 36: Taking Shifts with My Wife, As the Baby Sleeps in the Car

As you know, our family recently spent a week down in Destin, Florida for a family vacation over Memorial Day weekend. As you can imagine, with a 1 year-old little girl in tow, we largely had to base our schedule and activities around her sleep schedule.

For example, on the way down to Florida, we left our home in Tennessee immediately after an early dinner so that we could get to our condo in Destin by 1:30 AM. This created an environment for our daughter to be able to sleep through the entire drive. Granted, we only stopped once during the 7 hour trip for a bathroom break; to help ensure she didn’t wake up.

Since this formula proved effective, we did the same thing for the drive back home from Florida. That’s right- just 2 bathroom breaks during the 14 hour round trip.

Uh… impressed much?

We continued to cater to our daughter’s slumber throughout the course of our vacation.

One day we took a day trip over to Pensacola where one of my brothers-in law and his wife have recently moved. After we toured their new home which is currently under construction, everyone decided to walk through some of the model homes in the surrounding neighborhoods.

So my mother-in-law and her husband (who were also in town for the weekend), my brother-in-law, his wife, my wife, our son, our daughter, and I successfully toured two model homes.

But as we drove to the next neighborhood, our daughter had fallen asleep in just a matter of minutes. I volunteered to stay in the driver’s seat of the 2017 Toyota Prius Three as our daughter took her afternoon nap behind me in her car seat.

There in the driveway of that model home, I pulled out the classic 1984 Ride the Lightning album by Metallica to enjoy for myself. Fortunately, the symphonic distorted electric guitars helped keep my little girl asleep. She’s not too picky when it comes to music, yet.

Even after my wife and son returned from the tour of that model home, they returned to the car, only to inform me that there was yet one more model home to visit before we made our way back to Destin.

Honestly, I didn’t mind one bit. It was peaceful and relaxing for me. It gave me not only a chance to think, but a chance to help my wife out by giving her some time to see something new and exciting and to take a break from constantly caring for a baby.

Of course, it was no surprise that less than 24 hours, my wife would be taking the next shift of “chill out in the car while the baby sleeps.” Because for lunch the following day, as went out for Mexican food for lunch, our daughter had fallen asleep in the car.

So I took my wife’s order, then eventually brought her food to her roadside, while the rest of us ate inside the restaurant.

This is just how it has to be right now. We’re used to it.

This is 36.

5 Reasons Why “How Was Your Vacation?” is an Annoying Question

Maybe I stand alone in my feelings on this one… and I wish I didn’t feel this way…

5 Reasons Why “How Was Your Vacation?” is an Annoying Question

But one of the reasons I always dread returning to work from a week-long vacation is that I know everyone who sees me is going to sincerely ask me this immediately:

“How was your vacation?”

I suppose I should analyze the psychology behind why I find that question to be pesky.

1)      I just got back from missing at least 5 business days of work. It’s going to take me at least half a day to simply get caught up on my email alone. I don’t have time to be chatty on my first morning back.

2)      It was a vacation from work. It’s pretty obvious I had a good time.

3)      If I didn’t have a good time, that would be an awkward, unexpected answer. So even if it was a bit stressful at times, travelling with a kid and driving across the state of California or Florida, I might as well say it was a good vacation because otherwise it would only lead to more annoying questions.

4)      Why ask me, when you can just look at my Facebook pictures that I uploaded last night? Just look on your phone. What is this, the year 2003?

5)      I am bummed because now I have to be back at work. I’m not in the mood to talk about fun stuff. I am still in culture shock, you know. Just 3 days ago, I was still at the beach.

Yes, I sound like a jaded, yet responsible 34 year-old husband and father.

Coworkers are just trying to be friendly and nice. Their hearts are in the right place. I bet they even missed me while I was gone.

Asking, “How was your vacation?” is probably their way of simply welcoming me back.

But seriously, can’t they wait until the end of my first week back- after my brain has had a chance to get fried from all the Excel data entry and I’m ready to escape again mentally?

5 Reasons Why “How Was Your Vacation?” is an Annoying Question

Dear Jack: I Could and Would Die for You

4 years, 5 months.

Dear Jack: I Could and Would Give My Life for You

Dear Jack,

Without any hesitation, I could and would give my life for you.

However, I believe there is nothing heroic or surprising about that statement whatsoever.

Instead, it’s simply common knowledge, I would assume; that a father would simply in a moment either risk his life or give his life if he saw his child in serious danger. Cue a relevant song:

The reason I recently gave this thought is because recently when we took our mini vacation to Pensacola, we walked out to the end of the long fishing pier at Casino Beach. Mommy and I took turns holding you up to the guard rail to let you see over into the water.

(We were all surprised to the see the man next to us catch a small shark; which he ultimately was required to throw back into the ocean.)

As we left the pier and walked back to the beach, you asked me this:

“Daddy, what would happen if another child’s daddy or mommy was holding them and they pretended like they were going to throw their child into the water, but then they really did, but they didn’t mean to?”

I was amazed at such a deep, hypothetical question from a 4 and a half year-old little boy.

My answer was this:

“They would do whatever it takes to get their child back. If it were you that fell in, I would immediately jump in after you.”

Granted, I’m not sure I would survive the hit of impact of the water (that pier is pretty high off of the water), or that the water would absolutely be deep enough to save my fall.

Either way, I would follow you, even to death. Cue another relevant song:

This reminds me of a scene on one of my favorite shows, Lost; during the final season one of the main characters gets trapped in a submarine, after a bomb explodes, causing water to rush in.

Spoiler alert! Even though Lost ended almost exactly 5 years ago:

Her legs are pinned down from the explosion, leaving her upper half out of the water, as her husband desperately tried to bend the steel bars in order to free her.

After several attempts, he realizes it’s impossible. Though he himself was free and could escape instead of drowning, he chooses to stay with his wife; dying with her in the flood.

It was one of the most touching moment in Lost for me.

But ultimately, it wasn’t heroic. You undoubtedly would die for the people you love the most; without hesitation.

So yes, it’s a dark thought to think about you falling in the water or that we would not spend many more decades together here on Earth.

I just want you to know- I can’t imagine living the rest of my life with you or Mommy. If I felt I was about to lose either of you, I would instantly throw my life in front whatever it was to try to prevent anything bad from happening to you two.

Not because I’m some great guy, but simply because you and Mommy are my life. What would life be without you?

Love,

Daddy

Pensacola Road Tripping In A 2015 Toyota Sienna

Pensacola Road Tripping In A 2015 Toyota Sienna

If you’re a regular reader of Family Friendly Daddy Blog, you’ve probably noticed in the past several posts there has been a presence of a 2015 Toyota Sienna.

Pensacola Road Tripping In A 2015 Toyota Sienna

That’s because for my family’s recent mini road trip from Spring Hill, TN (the Nashville area) to Pensacola, FL we had the privilege of being able to test drive it. In essence, we modeled it; showing what it would look like for a family of 3 to take a 7 hour road trip (one way) in the Sienna. (We were in the vehicle for nearly 20 hours total, including the trip back, and driving once we got there.)

Pensacola Road Tripping In A 2015 Toyota Sienna

Here’s my newest video I made for the occasion, equipped with our own theme song I wrote and performed:

So today, I want to share my thoughts on taking a road trip in a 2015 Toyota Sienna.

Pensacola Road Tripping In A 2015 Toyota Sienna

My wife and I both agreed that the thing we appreciated most about the vehicle is how “road trip friendly” it is. For example, the 2 captain’s chairs directly behind the driver and front passenger’s seat are literally recliners.

Pensacola Road Tripping In A 2015 Toyota Sienna

esame Street: Elmo The Musical Vol. 2 Learn and Imagine- Family Friendly Review

That makes watching the large DVD/Blu-ray screen (equipped with headphones) that much more enjoyable for the passengers. It creates such a comfortable and entertaining environment for everyone; including the driver, who can keep the sound to the movie in the back of the vehicle.

Pensacola Road Tripping In A 2015 Toyota Sienna

Pensacola Road Tripping In A 2015 Toyota Sienna

In addition to the Sienna having a great capacity to be both comfortable and entertaining, we also noticed how spacious it is.

Pensacola Road Tripping In A 2015 Toyota Sienna

The paradox is that while it truly seems to be a large vehicle, it doesn’t drive that way. I had zero issues with visibility. The turning radius on the Sienna alone was amazing! I ended up having to do my share of U-turns while driving in an unfamiliar city, so I would know…

Dear Jack: 2015 Toyota Sienna Walk-Around

Pensacola Road Tripping In A 2015 Toyota Sienna

We also definitely appreciated the power sliding doors and back door. I was able to open them remotely for my wife and son before we even got the vehicle.

Pensacola Road Tripping In A 2015 Toyota Sienna

Pensacola Road Tripping In A 2015 Toyota Sienna

I will close by giving you another opportunity to check out my other blog posts involving the 2015 Toyota Sienna. It would be an understatement that we had a great family road trip, as you will read about when you click these links above each picture- and please don’t forget you can also watch the original video I made for these underneath each link:

Dear Jack: Our Homemade Jack-Man Commercial For The Toyota Sienna

Dear Jack: The Treasure Chest You Found Buried in Pensacola

Dear Jack: 2015 Toyota Sienna Walk-Around/Silly String Fight

Dear Jack: The RV That Exploded In Casino Beach Parking Lot/Highway 98 Bay Bridge Crash

Vegan Friendly Review of Pensacola, FL

Sesame Street: Elmo The Musical Vol. 2 Learn and Imagine- Family Friendly Review

esame Street: Elmo The Musical Vol. 2 Learn and Imagine- Family Friendly Review

Dear Jack: The Treasure Chest You Found Buried in Pensacola

4 years, 5 months.

Dear Jack: The Treasure Chest You Found Buried in Pensacola

Dear Jack,

Leading up to our recent mini road trip to Pensacola, you announced to me, “Daddy, when we go to the beach, we need to dig in the sand because maybe there is a buried treasure chest… and dinosaur bones too!”

So thanks to a quick trip to Dollar Tree and Party Central, I was able to obtain the treasure chest (a lunch box), plastic coins and jewelry, and some dinosaur bone puzzles; all for less than 10 bucks.

Mommy packed them up in our beach bag, and from there I loaded them up on the back of the 2015 Toyota Sienna we drove for the trip.

https://familyfriendlydaddyblog.com/2015/05/07/dear-jack-our-homemade-jack-man-commercial-for-the-toyota-sienna/

When we arrived at Casino Beach during one of our trips there, you and Mommy immediately began playing in the sand. I snuck over, just about 50 feet away from you, and dug 2 holes: one for the treasure chest and one for the dinosaur bones.

Right as I finished, you ran over to me in excitement. I explained to you that I thought I had just found a good place where someone might have buried some treasure.

Of course, from there, the magic began…

Here’s my video I made, capturing the whole event:

You were mesmerized by your finding for the rest of the weekend; proudly wearing your jewelry in the van and during lunch at the restaurant.

I could actually see this becoming a new tradition for us each time we go to the beach. I’m even imagining you getting old enough to figure out that it’s really just me hiding the treasures but where I would simply hide gifts that you want anyway.

https://familyfriendlydaddyblog.com/2015/05/07/dear-jack-our-homemade-jack-man-commercial-for-the-toyota-sienna/

And it’s all because in your own 4 and a half year-old creativity, your faith led you to believe that there truly would be hidden treasure there at the beach with Mommy and me.

Yes, the hidden treasure is definitely there if you’re looking for it.

Love,

Daddy

https://familyfriendlydaddyblog.com/2015/05/07/dear-jack-our-homemade-jack-man-commercial-for-the-toyota-sienna/