Dear Jack: Our Family’s New Saturday Morning Tradition

12 years old.

Dear Jack,

It is now family tradition each Saturday morning that we hang out at The Factory at Franklin, which is about 30 minutes from our house.

This started about a month ago, when I suggested our family go get a donut from Five Daughters Bakery, and then over to Honest Coffee Roasters.

While there, we walked through a shop that had an Enneagram book on display, that decided to buy on a whim.

I turned to the chapter on Enneagram 6, which is what I am, and I read, “My idea of relaxation: A quiet Saturday morning with people I love.”

And now we go to the Franklin Factory every Saturday morning; knowing that however busy our weekend may be, we can at least start it out with a time of fun and relaxation together as a family.




Dear Jack: Our New Family Tradition of Saturday Morning Breakfast

11 years, 10 months.

Dear Jack,

I pay a lot of attention to our family dynamics… and I plan our activities accordingly. Sometimes, it’s me taking you and your sister birthday parties, without Mommy. Other times, it’s Mommy taking you both to the zoo, without me.

Similarly, I also look for ways to spend one-on-one time with both you and your sister throughout the week.

But I noticed that for much of the time the four of us are together as a family, it’s in either boring or stressful situations; like trying to get through homework and dinner on a busy school night, or rushing to get to church on time.

Therefore, we are now 3 weeks in for the new tradition I started for us: “Saturday Morning Family Breakfast.”

I now clean all the bathrooms and take care of all the garbage on Friday mornings before work, so that on Saturday mornings, we can all just casually wake up and head to a fun nearby restaurant for breakfast as a family. No stress about having to clean the house when we wake up anymore!

We go to places that have a good family atmosphere where we can enjoy a solid breakfast, but not feel rushed- like the nearby Grecian Bakery or any of the local coffee shops.

Saturday Morning Family Breakfast is a hit!




Dear Jack: Still Catchin’ Crawdads on a Saturday Afternoon

11 years, 6 months.

Dear Jack,

As you are now in your final month of Elementary School, I am constantly aware that anytime you do anything that a typical boy would do, it may be the last time you do it- because are you now inching into the Junior High phase.

This past Saturday while Mommy and your sister were out at a birthday party, I offered to do anything you wanted to do.

You chose to go to Harvey Park and catch crawdads.

So with your trusty net and small aquarium, you were able to find quite a few creatures in the couple of hours we spent together.

Other kids in the park were quite impressed!

I am so happy to be in your life.



Dear Jack: Your Dormant Volcano Finally Exploded!

8 years.

Dear Jack,

Two Christmases ago, one of the things Mommy and I got for  you was an exploding volcano set.

When you decided to pull it out of the closet this past weekend, I did not realize you’ve had it that long.

But you just never got around to taking it out of the box and using it.

So at last, you took some time to paint it and then mix the exploding powder from the packets.

You asked me to make a video of it exploding, as you and your sister touched the “hot” lava.

After two years of remaining dormant, the volcano finally exploded. And it was pretty cool!




The Glory of Eating Out: Entertainment, Activity, and Ignorance of Calories

Eating food can easily become entertainment, in of itself.

This Saturday, my wife will finish her final class for her Master’s program.  We’ve been anticipating this day for a year and a half- specifically, we’ve been planning to go somewhere nice for dinner to celebrate.  Though we’ve had our sights set for months on Stony River for a good steak dinner, we remembered recently that we don’t really like steak.  So we instead have discovered a quaint “only in Nashville” sort of place that looks to be more our speed:

Something I’ve been realizing now more than ever is why eating out is fun.  There are obvious reasons for this, like not having to cook, set the table, or clean the dishes.  And the fact that when you eat dinner out, you have many choices of what you will eat.  All valid reasons.  Yet very obvious.

Here are more subtle reasons:

Environment: Whether or not you truly are a “people person”, or are one and just don’t realize it (People Watching 101), part of the allure of going out to eat is to be around people you don’t know, who serve as background noise and sometimes accidently, as entertainment.

Of course aside from the strangers we like dining near (not with), there also is something soothing/weird in looking at the random memorabilia hanging on the walls- whether it’s old pictures of sad, creepy looking people from the 1920’s, a goofy moose head, or a canary yellow guitar that Tom Petty used to record his Wildflowers album in 1994.  Ultimately, whatever it is, it’s something else to look at.

Activity: Eating good food that we enjoy is more than just about “getting full” or about nutrition.  It’s simply a fun activity.  Yes, we could make the same menu items on our own (with enough Internet research for recipes) and they may taste similar.  But aside from the fact that we’re not cooking it, there is something fun about having someone else serve you.  When someone else waits on you, it gives a sense of “I deserve this” (Password).

Ignorance to calories: Yes, we are overaware that fast food is a killer.  But we turn a blind eye to the nutritional facts at nicer restaurants, essentially all of them.  Even when the meal is low-fat, and even more difficult to pull off, low-sugar, it is still almost guaranteed to be high in sodium- which is linked to heart disease and hardened arteries.  But no matter how nice the restaurant it is, it’s pretty much given that there’s at least 75% of your daily sodium in the meal, at best.

And of course, the serving portions are typically at least twice to three times what a meal should be.  But turning a blind eye to all these nutritional facts makes it much more fun.

So go now, and celebrate, with strange wall decorations, quirky people sitting at the table next to you, and a meal prepared by the salt gods.