Dear Jack: You Won Your Sister and Yourself Prizes from the Crane Machine at Chuck E. Cheese’s

8 years, 7 months.

Dear Jack,

During our 45 minute “all you can play” spree at Chuck E. Cheese’s last week in Sacramento, we were down to the last 10 minutes when you decided to take a stab at the crane machine filled with inflatable balls.

After just a couple of tries, you were able to successfully win a purple ball for yourself!

Naturally, you drew a crowd: your own family.

Your sister immediately expressed that she wanted one too.

And after another couple of tries, you seemingly effortlessly won her a purple ball just like yours.

I have a feeling that had you spent the entire 45 minutes at the crane machine, you would have emptied it!



Family Summer Vacation in Sacramento: Going to Chuck E. Cheese’s Instead of Disneyland

After spending the first half of our vacation at Lake Tahoe, our family spent the rest of the time closer to Sacramento; staying with my mother-in-law and her husband.

Selfishly, I didn’t mind at all because it gave me several consecutive days to sleep in; since there was never really any planned event or agenda happening before noon the rest of the week.

And after the long, early flight to California (we left Nashville at 2:00 AM), I was pretty much the equivalent of Weekend at Bernie’s for the first few days anyway.

Staying there in the Sacramento area provided more opportunities to visit with more family members, as well as long-time friends of my wife.

But of course, eventually our kids wanted to do something special; since after all, we were on vacation. I suggested putt-putt golf, which was something I kept seeing in Lake Tahoe.

But the kids wanted Chuck E. Cheese’s. It hadn’t crossed my mind since there’s already one just about 20 minutes from our house in Tennessee.

However, I realized how little it would cost us: Just about $13 total for unlimited games for 45 minutes for our whole family.

So I immediately agreed!

We were given what was essentially an infinitely loaded debit card only good for the currency of Chuck E. Cheese tokens.

So for 45 minutes, we frantically passed the card to each other; as ultimately, all four members of our family were constantly earning tickets to buy prizes the entire time.

The time limit actually made it even more fun and challenging for all of us, as we individually learned and decided which games we were best at winning tickets from.

By the end of our California family vacation, my wife suggested that maybe next year the kids will be old enough to visit Disneyland.


But I definitely wouldn’t mind Chuck E. Cheese again either.

Our Family Spot at King’s Beach on the California Side of Lake Tahoe

When our family is ready to hang out at the beach, why drive 6 and a half hours from our home near Nashville, Tennessee to Destin, Florida when we could fly all the way to the other side of the country to Lake Tahoe in California?

As far as my kids are concerned, they have just as much fun either way. When you’re a kid, it’s sand and waves- and that’s all that matters… even if the water is much chillier on a lake that is more than a mile higher than sea level.

Our tradition is to hang out at King’s Beach, which is at the very northern part of Lake Tahoe. I love being able to see the snow-capped mountains all the way across the other side; which is 22 miles away.

For years now, my son has enjoyed making sand fortresses. He’ll get in the water a little bit, but mainly just to wash off the extra sand in between his toes.

I was amazed this year by what heavy stones he was able to find and carry over to his construction sight.

For all I know, there are much better spots at Lake Tahoe. However, King’s Beach is the most convenient for our family, since we are always ultimately en route to Sacramento from there anyway.

There’s a really nice pier there that is fun to walk out across and take a family photo or two.

Not to mention, there is a playground, easily accessible restrooms, and even a grocery store in walking distance; so you can easily buy everything you need to have a picnic there on the beach.

King’s Beach is our spot on Lake Tahoe. Granted, I’m fully aware that thousands of other people feel the same way, but it still feels like a well kept secret to us.

2019 Family Reunion in Lake Tahoe: Celebrating the Life of My Wife’s Father and Grandfather

In case you somehow didn’t know this by now, my wife is #9 of 10 kids. So every year, our official family summer vacation is going to visit as much of her family that can show up in the Sacramento, California area; which is where they all grew up and some still live.

And in case you’re not so familiar with the geography of Sacramento, it is in northern California; just a little over 2 hours away from Lake Tahoe, which also borders the neighboring state of Nevada.

This summer, Lake Tahoe served as the central meeting place for the family; this time to especially celebrate the life of my wife’s father (who passed away a couple months after we were married in 2008); as well as her grandfather Gus, who passed away last fall.

Everyone was given the opportunity to share memories and stories of both men. Being that I married into the family, I wasn’t planning on saying anything.

But when I was asked if I wanted to share something, after I had the opportunity to hear what everyone else said, I decided to speak.

I explained that my takeaway from what they all said about these two very important men in their family was this:

It was undeniable that these men sacrificed much for the sake of their family; even if they weren’t able to be appreciated or feel appreciated at the time.

That is often the theme of being a parent: that you often are unable to be truly appreciated as you give the most of your time, energy, and soul to the people you care for so much.

I appreciated being somewhat of a grafted-in outsider that day. I feel that it took that kind of perspective to understand myself better; coincidentally during Father’s Day weekend.

It was a truly good day.

Dear Jack: Today was Your Last Day of 2nd Grade

8 and a half years years old.

Dear Jack,

Exactly a week after turning 8 and a half years old, today was your last day as a 2nd grader.

It’s also been one of those weeks where Mommy and I both noticed individually, and then announced to each other, that you seem bigger all of the sudden.

And I’m sure that is the case. With my birthday being in April, by the time I was 8 and a half years old, I was already a couple of months into my 3rd grade year.

You’ve got a fun summer ahead, including “Zoo Camp” for a week at the Nashville Zoo, as well as our upcoming family vacation in Lake Tahoe and Sacramento next month.

In a few more months, you’ll officially be a 3rd grader. But first, it’s time to have some fun summer adventures!



My Top 3 Ideal Hospitality Items I Wish Hotels Would Provide, As a Manly Dad

My Top 3 Ideal Hospitality Items I Wish Hotels Would Provide, As a Dad

Fairmont Hotels is exploring for new hospitality ideas and asked me for manly insights (because my blog is so cool and famous, apparently) and asked me to share with them my top 3 ideal hospitality items I wished hotels would provide.

My Top 3 Ideal Hospitality Items I Wish Hotels Would Provide, As a Dad

Specifically, they wanted to hear my take on “West Coast hospitality.” They have a location in San Francisco for example. For all I know, my information could be helpful to them.

While I was born and raised (and still live) in the South, I identify more culturally, in many ways, with the West, where my wife is from.

My Top 3 Ideal Hospitality Items I Wish Hotels Would Provide, As a Dad

I’ve always been offbeat and therefore, so is my blog. Well, here is my list, for better or worse… My Top 3 Ideal Hospitality Items I Wish Hotels Would Provide

1)      Flushable wipes (or a bidet)

The 1st ideal hospitality item I wish hotels provided is “flushable wipes or a bidet.” When I lived in Thailand for those 2 summers back in college, I grew quite accustomed to the fact that all their bathrooms, even in the most basic ones, all had a bidet. So if a bidet is out of the question, I will gladly accept “flushable wipes.” It just makes me feel classy in a subtle and slightly foreign sort of way.

2)      A men’s magazine

When I am travelling across America on vacation, as our family does each summer in Sacramento where my wife is from, as well as about twice a year in Destin, Florida, my ultimate goal in staying in a hotel is to get a solid, uninterrupted night’s rest.

After our son is asleep in his bed, and after my wife falls asleep next to me while watching House Hunters, I am left alone to either watch an old episode of Seinfeld or to indulge in a marathon of Honest Trailer videos on YouTube. But really, at that point, I would just rather fall asleep while it’s still only 10:17 PM. But I have to “wind down” first.

I firmly believe in the importance of unplugging, while on vacation. I would prefer an interesting men’s magazine to fade out to. What comes to mind is Wired or Details. I find that their articles are always interesting, and not as limited to just sports or business.

That would be a nice touch.

My Top 3 Ideal Hospitality Items I Wish Hotels Would Provide, As a Dad

3)      Manly-smelling essential oil.

I just think it would be cool (and classy) if there was a tiny bottle of a manly-smelling essential oil; maybe a medley consisting of something like cedar wood, tea tree, orange, lavender, and a hint of patchouli.

With essential oils, I don’t have to worry about carcinogens on my skin. It’s all natural, which is very “Western” to me.

Hopefully with this blog post I am able to help out Fairmont Hotels with a truly original, sincere, and entertaining answer in their quest.

These are things that communicate “West Coast hospitality” to me. They are subtle, classy, masculine touches that I personally would appreciate when staying in a hotel.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Daddy Date”

4 years, 9 months.


Dear Jack,

This is the 1st of several entries in my new miniseries, Family in a Camry. In August while on our annual family vacation, Toyota loaned us a 2015 Camry for our road trips around California.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Daddy Date”

So I decided to compile all our video footage and photos into a narrative to remember our trip.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Daddy Date”

After a day of flying from Nashville to Sacramento, you and I set aside a day to spend together; just father and son.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Daddy Date”

I struggle for a relevant phrase to describe a fun father and son day of activities. In the past I’ve referred to it as a “dadventure,” but “daddy date” is the phrase most people identify.!/Welcome

However, that’s a tricky phrase because it typically refers to father and daughter dates. When you talk about a father and son having a “date,” it does sound kind of weird.

Oh well, I’m committing to the phrase. I don’t care.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Daddy Date”

But I should also acknowledge there are critics out there who would say, “Why do you have to call it anything at all? Why can’t a father and his son hang out without it having to be a big deal as compared to if a mother spends time with her child? That’s like when people say a dad is babysitting.”

My reasoning is this: Mommy and I both work full time. It can be challenging enough for us all 3 to have good quality time together; much less just 2 of us at a time.

118Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Daddy Date”

Therefore, it’s worth celebrating when I can spend a whole day with you. I am very aware of the unique dynamics that occur when you and I get to hang out together doing fun stuff.

So with that being said, once we settled in, you and I had some good times together at the Elk Grove Park; in the midst of a family reunion. We discovered that you and your cousin Scarlet have the same owl toy; you got yours in the Nashville airport on the way there.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Daddy Date”

You and I went fishing. It was something you had been looking forward to for weeks. You even especially packed your bug catching net for the event.

Yes, you are a vegetarian and I am a vegan, but we still made it work…

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Daddy Date”

We didn’t have much luck with the fish in the pond there at the park, but you were very successful at “catching snails.”

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Daddy Date”

For some reason, there were large, vacated snail shells all around the edge of the pond. So you filled your net with them and you were quite proud of your catch.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Daddy Date”

Later we went to go a see a movie together. While you were set on going to see Minions, for some reason you changed your mind on the drive there. Actually, I’m glad you did, because we loved Disney Pixar’s Inside Out. I’ve written a couple of blog posts about it, too:

5 Reasons Why Inside Out is the More Feminine Version of Big Hero 6

Who Is the Real Villain in Disney Pixar’s Inside Out?

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Daddy Date”

I thought it was funny how you told me your favorite part of the movie was the female character, Sadness, who you told me is “a boy with long hair.”

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Daddy Date”

For lunch we went to a vegan restaurant, which is a franchise, called The Loving Hut. I let you choose what we’d have for dessert. You chose the orange vanilla cake; we split it 50/50.

I was happy that successfully shot you with the straw wrapper.

Of course, I created a 2 minute video that features everything I just told you. So here it is:

But wait, there’s more…

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Daddy Date”

We also spent a couple hours together filming the 19th webisode of Jack-Man as well. Here’s that video as well.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Daddy Date”

So there’s the 1st official entry of my Family in a Camry miniseries. Still more fun to come…

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Daddy Date”



Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Daddy Date”

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Daddy Date”

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