Dear Holly: The Giant Rat Who Came to Breakfast (and the Return of the Ewok)

10 months.

Dear Holly,

Sunday morning, with Nonna and Papa in town, Mommy had made breakfast for us all. I immediately noticed that you and I had matching “bedhead” hair. The conversation topic was the fact we heard coyotes howling during the night.

Somehow, that discussion inspired me to run in my closet and pull out my “rat pack” puppet. I had bought it right before you were born, as I had planned to use it as a character on one of my children’s programs on my YouTube Channel. But I haven’t had the time to dedicate to making new episodes since you were born.

I got the hunch you would find an appreciation for who I call Magellan the Mouse.

And I was right.

At first, of course, you were skeptical of the giant rat who was apparently trying to share your Cheerios with you. You weren’t afraid of him, you just didn’t know if you were in the mood to share your food with a non-human.

You eventually warmed up to him, though. Then you weren’t so much annoyed with him, as you were just confused on his origin story.

How had you never met this friendly rodent before? After having lived on this planet for nearly a whole year now, and in our house, how does a giant rat just show up?

Why did everyone else just instantly welcome him, like we’d always known him?

But that’s how it is for you. Being the baby of the family, you’ve just learned to roll it, whatever it is… including a giant rat who wants to help you eat your cereal.

A few hours later after lunch, you were winding down, getting ready for your nap. I have no idea how my Ewok action figure from 1983 showed up with your toys, but you chose to clench it in your little hand as Mommy wrapped you up in a blanket to feed you your bottle and then to rock you to sleep.

But before you actually fell asleep, Magellan the Mouse made one more appearance. I have a feeling he’ll be sticking around.

Love,

Daddy

I’ve Got Walls Up, because I’m a Guy

Welcome to the deep, mysterious, likely un-relatable, rarely revealed cavern of the emotionally intelligent male mind.

Back in 2010, when my wife was pregnant with our son, my blog was featured in American Baby magazine; which eventually led to me becoming the official daddy blogger of their sister magazine, Parents; from May 2011 to June 2014.

In the initial write-up in American Baby, they pitched my blog to their readers with this invitation: “Wondering what your hubby’s really thinking?…”

At the time, I remember reading that and thinking, “Yeah, but I’m not that kind of guy. That’s not me. I don’t keep things to myself. My thoughts are no mystery to anyone…”

That was in 2010, before I actually had kids. Plus, I had only been married about 2 years at that point.

One of the great advantages of being married now for 8 and a half years and having 2 kids is that, by default, I have gained emotional intelligence. I grew up on in the inside. I got toughened up.

I became the husband and father I needed to be. The sensitive, and therefore “offendable”, guy I was before wasn’t enough to get the job done.

Essentially, to the outside world, I transcended from “optimistic nice person who everybody likes” to “hopeful yet realistic personable man who doesn’t necessarily measure up to everyone’s expectations anymore.”

Nostalgically put, I evolved from Luke Skywalker into Han Solo.

It was a necessary transformation for me. Perhaps one of the major milestones of this journey was when I published a blog post (and accompanying video) inviting the free world to attempt to offend me.

I had discovered that the only person who has power and authority over my emotions is me. In other words, no one in this entire world can “offend” me or “hurt my feelings” if I don’t first give them permission.

So I simply stopped giving anyone permission to offend me. And up came the walls…

I now live in a reality where I am unoffendable. Since making this conscious decision, the quality of my life has undeniably…

Improved.

Things in life just don’t bother me as much. Life is smoother now.

I am now in control of my emotions instead of them controlling me. For example, I have no shame in admitting I allow myself to cry every time I watch Disney Pixar’s Inside Out. I am in touch with, and in control of, my emotions to the point where the cartoonish yet realistic presentation of a parent’s love for their child gets to me.

Needless to say, on the other hand, other people’s Facebook comments claim no effect on my day.

I have simplified my life so that I can enjoy and appreciate it that much more.

Granted, there’s a perceived downside to the lifestyle of male emotional intelligence.

I’ve got those walls up now. I’m more detached from the popular distractions of the world- and I know this.

But this, for me, is safe- and it’s efficient; less complicated.

In other words, I’ve become that guy I couldn’t relate to back in 2010:

I keep a lot of things to myself. Most of my thoughts are now a mystery to everyone.

I’ve adopted a Libertarian approach to the opinions and lifestyles of other people. What they do doesn’t bother me and I don’t bother them. I don’t try to change them. I don’t need to change them.

Because now, I am truly confident in myself and my beliefs, despite being completely aware of my unending faults.

This is not a classic case of bottling up my emotions, only to erupt later on. To me, that would be weak.

Instead, it’s a matter of consciously deciding not to let people or things bother me anymore.

In turn, I have noticed that I am that much more focused on my own family and close friends, in real life. Not on Facebook.

The 2010 version of me simply wouldn’t function in my life today in 2017. I have evolved out of necessity.

I now see life for the tragicomedy it is. Life is both sad and funny. It’s both inspiring and depressing.

By evolving to my emotionally intelligent state, I have made it possible to recognize when to express my emotions, accordingly.

Ultimately, I choose joy. I choose hope.

My hope today is that others can relate to my transformation.

You are no longer dealing with the young and naïve Luke Skywalker.

For better or worse, you’ve got Han Solo now.

Parental Review- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (Rated PG-13)

*May contain mild spoilers related to the plot.

If you’re considering taking your child to see Rogue One: A Stars Story, but aren’t sure if it would be age-appropriate, I am confident that I can give you closure. Here at the facts- from here, you can decide for yourself:

Profanity: None.

Sex/Nudity: None.

Violence: Constant, yet not bloody or gory.

As the title of the movie implies, Rogue One: A Stars Story is a war movie; perhaps more so than many other entries in the Star Wars franchise.

In particular, this is the story of the suicide mission leading up to the events of the original 1977 Stars Wars movie. By its nature, a movie about a suicide mission is likely going to feature countless on-screen deaths.

Parental Review- Rogue One: A Stars Story (Rated PG-13)

Granted, this is a Disney movie. So even with all the use of weapons (mainly lasers, grenades, and bombs), this is no blood bath. In fact, I don’t recall any blood- in the likeness of old Western movies where people are constantly getting shot and dying, yet there is no visible wound shown. The character simply falls to the ground after some sparks and smoke appear from the impact point.

So really, your decision whether or not to take your child to see Rogue One: A Stars Story comes down to your thoughts the violence aspect.

Again, there are no curse words- not even close to one. And as is typical with Star Wars movies, there are no sexual situations.

I say it really comes down to what your child has already been exposed to. If a movie like Captain America: Civil War is something you deem acceptable for your child to watch, which is another recent PG-13 Disney movie, then you will likely not have a problem with Rogue One: A Stars Story.

Thank you for visiting Family Friendly Daddy Blog and for reading my review today. I am hope you found it helpful.

Dear Jack: Rogue One Star Wars (Weekend of Manliness! in a 2004 Honda Element, Part 3/3) *No Spoilers*

6 years, 1 month.

Dear Jack: Rogue One Star Wars (Weekend of Manliness! in a 2004 Honda Element, Part 3/3) *No Spoilers*

Dear Jack,

Our Weekend of Manliness! concluded as we left Monster Jam and made our way towards The Mall at Green Hills; a place you had never been to before.

Dear Jack: 1st Snow of 2017 (Weekend of Manliness! in a 2004 Honda Element, Part 1/3)

On the way there though, we made a quick stop to Army & Navy War Surplus; as I am currently interested in replacing my current overnight backpack with a military version; since we travel to California at least once a year and I want something more durable as a carry-on.

Thanks to one of your aunts giving you Regal Cinemas gift cards for Christmas, everything was free!

Dear Jack: Rogue One Star Wars (Weekend of Manliness! in a 2004 Honda Element, Part 3/3) *No Spoilers*

The time had finally come… the time for us to see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. I had only heard great things about it. Nothing prepared me for how amazing of a movie it is!

Just about 20 minutes into it, I was already ready to see it a 2nd time!

It made me so proud to be able to take you to see it. The Star Wars franchise is such an undeniable part of American boyhood. I feel it’s a responsibility as your dad to introduce you to all thing Star Wars.

What a convenient decade for you to be a boy! At 6 years old, you are old enough to be able to appreciate these new Star Wars movies. Your 1st introduction was a year ago, when I took you to see The Force Awakens.

Dear Jack: Rogue One Star Wars (Weekend of Manliness! in a 2004 Honda Element, Part 3/3) *No Spoilers*

And as much as I loved that one, this new one is even better. Ah, what an amazing, must-see movie!

After the final credits rolled, I looked over to you and asked, “Well, how many of your Sour Punch Rainbow Straws did you eat?” I always assuming you took care of at least half the package.

You explained, “Just four; one of every flavor.” Apparently your agenda is to savor the rest over the next couple of weeks, as Mommy and I rarely let you eat candy. It’s such a commodity to you.

At that point though, it was time for us to find some dinner- as it was nearly 7 PM. Earlier in the week, I had proactively reached out to a really nice restaurant there at The Mall at Green Hills called Table 3. I offered to feature them on my blog in an exchange for a free meal for us.

I never heard back from them. I take that to mean they’re doing well without any additional positive publicity. Oh well, it was worth a shot. Never hurts to ask. The law of averages, you know…

Dear Jack: Rogue One Star Wars (Weekend of Manliness! in a 2004 Honda Element, Part 3/3) *No Spoilers*

So instead, we landed at Noodles & Company, and boy am I glad we did. We were so pleased with their selections!

They very easily catered to our manly dietary restrictions; with you being a vegetarian and me being a vegan. You got their kids’ meal: Mac and Cheese, Go Go Squeeze, and a fun Rice Krispie Treat. Granted, I made you eat some of my broccoli from my Thai Curry Bowl with tofu.

Dear Jack: Rogue One Star Wars (Weekend of Manliness! in a 2004 Honda Element, Part 3/3) *No Spoilers*

It was the perfect ending to our Weekend of Manliness! Unsurprisingly, after such a busy day, you quickly fell asleep in the back seat.

And, I’m already planning our next Weekend of Manliness! for just a few weeks from now…

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Rogue One Star Wars (Weekend of Manliness! in a 2004 Honda Element, Part 3/3) *No Spoilers*

Weekend of Manliness! January 2017 Series:

1st Snow of 2017

Monster Jam 2017

Rogue One Star Wars

Dear Jack: Taking You to See Stars Wars (The Force Awakens) was a Top Parenting Moment for Me *No Spoilers*

Dear Jack: Taking You to See Stars Wars (The Force Awakens) was a Top Parenting Moment for Me *No Spoilers*

5 years, 2 months. 

Dear Jack,

I had been preparing you for over a year for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. The time finally came this past Saturday.

Easily, I can say in confidence, it was one of my most epic experiences as a parent, to watch Star Wars: The Force Awakens for the first time, together with you.

We arrived about an hour before the movie as supposed to begin. Even though it had been out in theatres for a month already, I wasn’t willing to risk not getting a good seat, or any seat at all.

Good thing I approached the situation the way I did. We were there at the 4:05 matinee when, technically, the least amount of people are supposed to be interested in seeing a movie.

When we walked in, there were only about 15 or 20 seats taken; so we got our choice seats.

But within 30 minutes, the only seats remaining were the 3 separate front rows, where the floor is flat and you have to look straight up at the screen.

So the good news was that we got good seats by being there an hour before show time.

The bad news was that the commercials and previews started at “show time”, meaning that we were sitting there for close to an hour and a half before Star Wars actually began, meaning we both had to “go potty” as the show was finally beginning. That was the downside of making sure we were fully hydrated for the movie.

However, the movie was so enthralling that we made it through the entire movie, which was 2 hours and 16 minutes; we stayed all the way until the credit ended.

The whole time, you sat on my lap. Each time a new character appeared, you would whisper to me, “Daddy, is that a good guy or a bad guy?”

That’s an especially relevant question when watching a Star Wars movie, when that’s one of the underlying themes in most Star Wars movies anyway: Is he a good guy or a bad guy?

During the most intense action scenes, you would sit straight up on my knee. You were so into it!

I am so happy were you born in 2010; making you 5 years-old when the first new J.J. Abrams/Disney Star Wars movie came out.

That is the perfect age for you to start watching these movies with me.

Having seen all the previous Star Wars movie, I must say that this new one was everything I’d hope it would be.

I was so impressed. I can’t wait for us to watch it when it comes to Redbox. Mommy is pretty intrigued by us talking about it so much, that now she looks forward to seeing it with us.

We love Star Wars!

Love,

Daddy

Why I Am Not Rushing Out to See the New Star Wars Movie: The Force Awakens

Why I Am Not Rushing Out to See the New Star Wars Movie: The Force Awakens

It would be boring and cliché of me to illustrate how, as a child of the 80s, Stars Wars was a big part of my childhood and therefore, how I’m excited to take my own son to see the new Star Wars movie. So I won’t.

Granted, I’m going to take him to see it… at some point, after it’s been out a while.

But I will not be rushing out to be one of the first to see it.

Here’s why: I don’t trust crazy people enough.

And it appears I’m not alone in how I feel. Just yesterday, the New York Times published this article:

Mass Shootings Add Anxiety to Movie Theater Visits

Between all the mentally ill and armed Americans as well as ISIS members targeting crowded venues, I am for good reason expecting to see a headline on MSN about how there was a mass attack (whether shooting or bombing) at a movie theater where Star Wars: The Force Awakens was showing.

My hope is that by talking about it now, I can jinx that from happening. I definitely want to be wrong about this.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen enough in my lifetime to know the likelihood of an attack during the new Star Wars movie is decent.

Maybe part of it is my age and where I am in life, but I care a lot less about going to see movies than I did compared to when I was in my 20s.

I used to go to the movies every couple of weekends. But since August 2012, when there was the mass shooting during The Dark Knight, my eagerness has dwindled.

For me, it’s just common sense not to be where a big crowd is in relation to a special event with a lot of hype, like a new legendary movie coming out.

I’ll wait until maybe January to take my soon to see it.

It’s not that I live in fear of crazy people with guns or ISIS, but I can do my part to avoid being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

My point is not “I’m never going to the movies again because mass shootings or bombings may occur.”

Instead, my point is “I’m not going to one of the biggest movie premieres of my lifetime, in an age where mentally ill and armed Americans as well as ISIS members are targeting crowded venues.”

I’ll just wait until the theaters are less packed.

Dear Jack: What I Bought Instead of an $70 Gorilla Costume

4 years, 8 months.

Dear Jack: What I Bought Instead of an $80 Gorilla Costume

Dear Jack,

It all started last weekend when our family was at Target getting your Halloween costume. We amazingly found a Captain America costume for just 10 bucks!

In the next aisle, I found a gorilla costume for $30. The thing is, I’ve always wanted one. My way of thinking is, you never know when one might come in handy…

I tried it on, but fortunately, it was a “XL” size for boys; the body of it fit a little tight, but I could have made it work. However, the head mask itself was too small to even fit past my forehead.

Since then, I have checked in every store comparable to Target, as well as those seasonal Halloween stores.

The going rate for a men’s gorilla costume is $80.

So it’s $30 for an XL boy size, but $80 for the next size up; a men’s.

I have great plans for a new character for our Jack-Man series; a mutant beast that would be a reoccurring character.

And the thing is, gorilla costumes really aren’t that common, but they are recognizable. I think a gorilla would make a very fascinating and dynamic character for our videos.

As for now, the story ends with our family going yesterday morning to Super Target, near our house. I did find a men’s gorilla costume there for $70…

However, I also found a $25 Chewbacca men’s onesie and a $15 Target brand “Angry Teddy Mask.”

(I’ll still check the morning after Halloween to see if I can get the gorilla costume half off at Super Target.)

When I got home yesterday, I decided I could cover up the Chewbacca’s sash with a green puffy vest I already had, to make the costume original for our videos.

So for nearly half the price of the best deal I could find on a gorilla costume, I made my own beastly creature costume.

If things go as planned, everyone will be able to catch a glimpse of my new beastly character after we film a new webisode of Jack-Man next weekend…

Love,

Daddy