Dear Jack: Your Street Fight with “Uncle Owl”

6 years, 5 months.

Dear Jack,

Last Saturday while visiting my side of the family in Fort Payne, Alabama, we went to our favorite restaurant; a Thai and Japanese place called Toke.

I noticed that throughout the meal, my Uncle Al (who you have always called “Uncle Owl”, and I’ve never corrected you) was teasing you. I remember how after the server gave you some lollipops, Uncle Owl did the classic, “Hey, look over there!” and snagged your candy while you looked behind you.

Of course this only triggered you to want to get him back for tricking you…

As we were all leaving the restaurant, I helped Mommy gather your sister’s diaper bag and Mommy’s purse. Therefore, I was the last to walk out of the restaurant.

When I stepped out into the parking lot, focusing on working my way to the car to load up your sister, I heard some commotion coming from behind me on the sidewalk right in front of the restaurant.

And then I saw it…

You and Uncle Owl had just engaged in a street fight!

At first, I wasn’t sure that you had a chance at winning. But then I realized your specific strategy: to continually run around Uncle Owl and kick him in the seat of the pants.

That was going well for you until Uncle Owl used his classic move again: “Hey Jack, look over there!”

Again, you fell for his trick, causing yourself to end up in a head lock.

The street fight had gained an audience, as our family gathered ‘round the action. It was becoming obvious this was anybody’s fight.

But since we needed to get your sister out of the sun and into the air conditioning of the car, the fight indeed came to an end, with no declared winner.

Fortunately, despite the public spectacle, no complaints were filed nor were the authorities notified.

But I have a feeling there will be a rematch…

Love,

Daddy

Big and Small, God Made Them All: My Friend Ben Wilder’s New Children’s Book

Big and Small, God Loves Them All: My Friend Ben Wilder’s New Children’s Book

It is definitely one of my life goals to write a children’s book and eventually my own series.

Therefore, I am happy to see my friend of a decade, Ben Wilder, have his first book published. It is called, Big and Small, God Made Them All.

A couple of weeks ago, Ben visited my house and we made this video together to promote it:

Before the book was published, Ben asked me to write a quick synopsis for the back cover. I feel honored.

Here’s what I said:

“How do you begin to legitimately introduce the gospel to a young child? You present them with God’s creation of the universe. Then you explain that this same God loves them too. That is exactly what Ben Wilder has done here.”

Big and Small, God Loves Them All: My Friend Ben Wilder’s New Children’s Book

In addition to being able to write an inviting children’s story through poetry, something else Ben did a great job of was finding the right illustrator; who happens to be Laura Watson. The pictures are very well matched for the story.

I am so proud of Ben’s new book. And… one lucky reader won their very own copy just from reading this blog post.

Big and Small, God Loves Them All: My Friend Ben Wilder’s New Children’s Book

Congrats to Heather Tucker, who was the first to go on the Facebook page for Family Friendly Daddy Blog, where I advertised this blog post about Ben’s book, and leave this comment:

“Did I just win a copy of Ben Wilder’s children’s book, Big and Small, God Made Them All”?

(When this blog post was live for the first 24 hours, Heather was the first to respond to the then open giveaway. This giveaway offer is now closed.)

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I believe Ben Wilder has a bright future in writing children’s books. The main thing is, the word just needs to get out about his first book.

If you’re possibly interesting in purchasing the book, go here to Ben’s website.

And thanks for visiting Family Friendly Daddy Blog today.

Big and Small, God Loves Them All: My Friend Ben Wilder’s New Children’s Book

Dear Jack: 3 Funny Things You Said While Waiting to Find out You’re Having a Sister

5 years.

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Dear Jack,

We made a family affair out of finding out whether we are having a boy or a girl.

The suspense was getting the best of both you and me as we waited a good 25 minutes’ worth of the nurse showing us all the signs of your sibling being a healthy baby before the mltechnician finally revealed to us that you are having a… sister!

Mommy appeared perfectly calm during the wait… it was you and me that had way too much nervous energy.

During those never-ending 20 minutes of suspense leading up to the big reveal, you said 3 things that were just so hilarious to me…

When the technician asked whether you thought you were going to have a brother or sister, you responded:

“Broster.”

Shortly afterwards, the technician showed us the baby’s spine. You looked up at the monitor screen on the wall and excitingly proclaimed,“Oh, that’s the baby’s teeth!”

From then, until we finally got confirmation that it’s definitely a girl inside Mommy’s tummy, you kept asking, “When can I see the baby’s butt?”

I can tell you’re not really able to process yet that you will be able to see baby Holly in April. It’s too big of a concept for you to process right now.

But you celebrated at Whole Foods, to some degree, where we bought you a new stuffed animal for your collection. First you chose a hedgehog, but then after I had always Instagrammed the event…

Jack got to pick out a new animal to celebrate finding out whether he will have a brother or sister... we announce to the world tomorrow!

Jack got to pick out a new animal to celebrate finding out whether he will have a brother or sister… we announce to the world tomorrow!

You changed your mind and got a pink pig instead…

He changed his mind...

He changed his mind…

By the way, Mommy is perhaps the happiest I’ve ever seen her as long as I’ve known her. In her quiet way, I was able to witness just how much it means to her that Holly is on her way.

As for you, I feel a feeling you’ll come around once your sister after gets here.

Love,

Daddy

The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden!

The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden!

In the new book The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden! by Kevin DeYoung, and illustrated by Don Clark, the historic story of Christianity is brought to live in an overview “storytelling” format, beginning with Adam and Eve, and ultimately ending with the role of the modern day church.

I can honestly say I’ve never read a children’s Bible storybook anything like this before. The best way I can describe it is that it’s like a children’s minister explains how the stories of the Old Testament characters of the Bible are related to Jesus coming to Earth for the salvation of His people.

But the whole time, there’s this festive, Hebrew-ish artistic backdrop. The illustrations are simply amazing and unique.

Being exposed to this book actually reminded me of just how Jewish the Christian faith is; considering that 2/3’s, not half, of the Holy Bible is the Old Testament; the other half obviously being the New Testament.

This book explains how the Christian faith was ultimately born from the Jewish faith. It helps bridge the Old and New Testaments in a way children can begin to understand.

The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden! is intended for children ages 5 to 11.

I recognize that with my son being 4 years, 9 months old, the content of the book is a little above his comprehension level; though he is definitely intrigued by the mystery of it.

However, I definitely look forward to my son growing into this book.

*Congrats to Matt Wright, the winner of my giveaway of Family Friendly Daddy Blog, who will have a hard cover copy of The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden! sent to hishouse.

He was the first person to go the Facebook wall of Family Friendly Daddy Blog and ask this question:

Did I just win The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden!?

OFFICIAL HASHTAGS:  #BIGGESTSTORY and #FLYBY

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Discovering A Mysterious Purse While Geocaching In Fort Payne, Alabama

Discovering A Mysterious Purse While Geocaching In Fort Payne, Alabama

Over Christmas vacation last week (Saturday, December 27th, to be exact) my brother-in-law and I went geocaching, for the first time ever. If you’re wondering why we were driving around in a very impressive 2014 Lexus LX, it’s because I review cars here on Family Friendly Daddy Blog, as you see on the tab on the upper left hand side of the screen.

I had never even heard of geocaching before, so my brother-in-law sent me this video to help me understand it:

Basically, it’s using an app on a phone to discover “hidden treasures” by other geocachers. These hidden treasures typically just consist of trinkets or paper log-ins; just to prove you were there. Once you discover the “cache,” you are able to see who else has been there and how long ago. It’s sort of like an ongoing scavenger hunt.

Discovering A Mysterious Purse While Geocaching In Fort Payne, Alabama

For example, for the 2 caches we actually discovered, we left dog tags with our names and the date written on it in permanent marker.

Discovering A Mysterious Purse While Geocaching In Fort Payne, Alabama

It’s just a fun, innocent, legal, grass roots, ongoing pick-up game for people like me and my brother-in-law. We just like to get out and explore new territory.

Just to be clear, one of the requirements for a registered geocache spot is that the area has to be approved by whoever owns the land or in a public area.

Discovering A Mysterious Purse While Geocaching In Fort Payne, Alabama

All across America, there are these registered spots. Even in my small hometown of Fort Payne, Alabama, they are all over the place; and I don’t mean miles apart either. They are pretty close to one another.

One of the spots we decided to try out was at the bottom of Beason’s Gap, created a while back by a man named David Bait.

While dozens of other geocachers had already discovered it, we were unable to actually find the official cache there.

Discovering A Mysterious Purse While Geocaching In Fort Payne, Alabama

However, I thought I did, at first. As I ventured down the bluff just a little bit, I yelled out to my brother-in-law, “Hey! I think I found it! Come check this out!”

It was a clear, plastic sealed bag. But all that was in it was make-up, including Burt’s Bees chap stick.

However, there was no clue on the app to acknowledging this was the intended find; especially with the make-up bag being left out in the leaves.

Discovering A Mysterious Purse While Geocaching In Fort Payne, Alabama

Next to the make-up bag was a pair of newer sunglasses, in the case.

And next to it, was the big one: A purse with all official IDs and money removed; the exception being a folded up one dollar bill and an enrollment form for the Spring 2015 semester at Northeast Alabama Community College for a student named Sydney Noelle Pittman.

There was a heart drawn on the next line down, next to the name Cash; so I assume she might be romantically linked to someone with that last name.

I also found inside the purse a key for a Nissan vehicle with the name Gentry written on the tag; as if the vehicle had recently been in the shop.

Discovering A Mysterious Purse While Geocaching In Fort Payne, Alabama

However, I don’t understand why Gentry would be the name on tag if the girl’s name is Sydney Noelle Pittman.

As you can see in some of these pictures, there were long black hairs attached to some of the findings; which I assume is Sydney’s.

My theory is that at some point in not-so-distant history, Sydney Noelle Pittman had her purse snatched (maybe it was lifted after she sat it down on a counter or table at a restaurant) and the thief removed her credit card, cash, and IDs, then stopped at the pull-off at the end of Beason’s Gap to throw the purse off the bluff.

What that thief didn’t realize is that he or she was disposing of the evidence literally right on top of a geocache hiding spot; not the low-traffic random spot it would appear to non-geocachers.

Discovering A Mysterious Purse While Geocaching In Fort Payne, Alabama

Then, very innocently, a few days later my brother-in-law and I happened upon it; thinking it was the official cache. Only in hindsight did I really consider that unlike the other abandoned items I saw there on the bluff, Sydney’s belongings were apparently recent and possibly part of a crime scene.

That’s why I waited a few days to report it to the police. I am definitely new to this whole discovering an apparent crime scene thing.

I’m featuring this incident here on my blog because I want to help this girl at least get some closure with what happened.

Discovering A Mysterious Purse While Geocaching In Fort Payne, Alabama

Most of all, I hope she is alive and well. I already Googled her name, and found nothing, which I suppose is a good sign. After all, I’ve seen enough crime shows to know to look for a body, blood, or at least signs of a struggle; none of which were obviously present.

Discovering A Mysterious Purse While Geocaching In Fort Payne, Alabama

So in closing, 2 random guys (my brother-in-law and me) happened to be geocaching on Christmas vacation and became the 1st to discover a mysterious purse, which happened to be right where the coordinates pointed us.

Discovering A Mysterious Purse While Geocaching In Fort Payne, Alabama

I can’t know for sure it was stolen. For all I know she threw it off herself, after removing her money and ID, but that makes no sense to me.

Discovering A Mysterious Purse While Geocaching In Fort Payne, Alabama

Either way, I reported the mysterious purse to the local police, and within 15 minutes of my call, they had located it and picked it up, thanks to my very specific directions.

Discovering A Mysterious Purse While Geocaching In Fort Payne, Alabama

I also let the local police know not to be too surprised if they get more call-ins on this spot; since it is a registered geocache spot. I wouldn’t be surprised if more unknowing criminals think they are being clever by tossing their evidence off the bluff; which to guys like me, is instead a geocache site.

Discovering A Mysterious Purse While Geocaching In Fort Payne, Alabama

Granted, we had a lot of fun aside from potentially help solving a crime, as these other pictures demonstrate.

Discovering A Mysterious Purse While Geocaching In Fort Payne, Alabama

But the mysterious purse part of the story definitely gives this whole thing an edge. The next time we go geocaching, I’ll be ready for more adventure than what shows up on the phone app.

Discovering A Mysterious Purse While Geocaching In Fort Payne, Alabama

Strange But True Stories in Fort Payne, AL: My Shoes Crumbled Apart on the 2nd Day of Work, Then I Had to Escape From a Bathroom Stall

You should walk a mile in my shoes… if they don’t disintegrate first.

Between my 4 months of unemployment and my current job at GameTime, I did a brief stint for a company I highly respect, but I knew I wasn’t a good fit there.  So after about a week and a half, I left them.  The following events took place during my first and only whole week there.  Even if they thought I seemed like a normal person who doesn’t encounter Jack Tripper-like situations, they will learn the truth now.

The weekend before starting the job, I came across a forgotten pair of some of my favorite shoes ever at my parents’ house.  So I wore them to church.  That went well.  Sure, I bought them in the year 2000 from American Eagle, but they were still cool and showed no signs of needing repair.  Very wearable.

So I wore them two days later on my 2nd day at work.  After the first hour passed, I noticed what looked like chunks of mud all around my desk and leading up to my desk.  Then when I got up to walk to the printer, I noticed one of my shoes felt especially “springy”.  That was because the middle of the sole had fallen off- along with various other parts of my shoes.

Right as I had realized this, my boss came up to me and asked me if I would be ready within the hour to go out and make some sales.  I said yes, then immediately called my wife to have her bring me some different shoes.  It worked, and I had about 15 minutes to spare.

The next day, I worked up enough courage to enter the bathroom stall which had a warning sign posted saying that the latch was broken and that I shouldn’t lock the stall door.  So I did it anyway.  I ignored the sign.  Good thing I’m limber. Though the distance from bottom of the stall to the floor was only about 18 inches, I was able to escape.  I’m glad, because this particular bathroom is located on the other end of the building where no one ever goes, and besides, I had left my cell phone at my desk.

I’m sure someone figured out it was “the new guy” that walked right through that warning sign and got locked in the bathroom stall.  But at least they never knew about my shoes crumbling apart.  Until now.  That’s just how the shoe crumbles.

Note to self: Copyright the phrase “That’s just how the shoe crumbles”.


Vintage Family Portraits are Like Sitcoms with Laugh Tracks

The term “picture perfect” is becoming less relevant these days.

Last week I was in Dallas on a work trip and the week before that I was northern California on vacation spending a lot of time with my wife’s side of the family, which explains the extremely low number of posts for the last couple of weeks.  (I’m not the kind of guy who announces “I’m on vacation on the other side of the country!” as my facebook status- I don’t think it’s a good idea to announce to the world when I’m not at home.  Maybe that’s just me.) While in Sacramento, I saw a studio portrait of my wife’s family, circa 1985.  Everyone was dressed in their Sunday best, wearing big smiles (for the most part), all looking at the photographer (for the most part), and best of all, a fake forest backdrop was used as the background.

Granted, this was the mid ‘80’s, so anything that happened during that time was bound to be excessively cheesy compared to now.  But here’s the thing- even today, many professional family portraits are still, at best, hokey.  Because they represent a family at a perceived idea of their best, not what is normal or natural.  In the past decade as reality shows have begun dominated prime time, sitcoms have become more sophisticated and life-like; by being more satirical and less slapstick, and also by removing the laugh tracks.  Yet it can be a difficult thing to make studio family portraits less fake and more real.

And that’s why I’m a snapshot kind of guy.

Just as every family has a “family tree enthusiast”, every family also has a default photographer- and in some family circles, I’m it.  I always have my camera with me anywhere I go, ready to snap some shots of whatever unique, random, or funny situation I find family or friends in.  That means that a lot of times, not everyone is looking at the camera.  But a snapshot can often tell such an interesting story- even if the picture isn’t “picture perfect”.

I am so into snapshots, that it’s part of the name of this website.  Last week in Dallas, I met a person who after I told them the name of Scenic Route Snapshots, said to me, “I get it”.  I thought that was pretty cool, since a lot of people when they hear the name and try to repeat it, ask me, “Seen a cloudy slapshot?” But in case it needs explanation, the concept of my site is that I tend to write about things that most people wouldn’t think to question on their own.  I take an alternative, more laid-back approach to things (the scenic route) and take plenty of snapshots to remember them by (memoirs and journal entries).

But do professional photographers exist that take family portraits that don’t run the danger of being as corny as the opening theme song montage of Full House?  Is it possible for a family in the 2010’s to have a portrait made which represents them in a realistic and relevant way?  Yes, I’m seeing more and more begin to pop up- often following the “on locale and in character” formula of high school senior portraits and engagement photos, by placing the family in an environment which is familiar and natural for them.

When I think of a professional photographer who perfectly captures the realness and believability of snapshots in his professional work, I think of “Photo Joe” Hendricks who I’ve been friends with since I first moved to Nashville five years ago.  As I was trying to conjure an image of what the modern family portrait should look like, I immediately thought of his work, which I’ve included in this post as examples (minus the one at the very top of my wife’s family in 1985). These pictures are the equivalent of a sitcom without laugh tracks- more sophisticated, more natural, and more original.

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com