Why I’m The Most Vanilla Dad My Son Knows

February 21, 2013 at 10:07 pm , by 

2 years, 3 months.

Dear Jack,

You love dads.

Sure, you love me, but I’myour dad. You’re used to me by now.

No matter how adventurous I am with you, you are still always fascinated by every other dad you meet.

A prime example is our friend Dave.

We went to visit him, his wife Karen, and their brand-new daughter Avery.

As the picture clearly demonstrates, you felt quite comfortable with Dave. Mommy held Avery and Dave held you.

(Just to be clear to anyone else reading this letter, I’m the guy in the green vest and Dave is the guy with the red shirt.)

Before we left their house, Dave gave you one of his business cards; he’s a Realtor in the Nashville area. You played with his business card all the way home.

Then once you got home, you placed his card in your little boy wallet with Mommy’s zeroed out gift cards. As I put you to bed that night, I asked you what your favorite part of the day was. Your response:

“When Leaf hold you.”

I should translate. Your refer to Dave as Leaf, and “you” means “me.” Your favorite part of the day was when Dave held you.

Even now, as I write this, you are upstairs asleep, with Dave’s business card underneath your pillow.

That’s right: You sleep with his card under your pillow. You really like Dave.

I think it’s cool to see how you gravitate towards other dads. It’s clear that to me that you find so much value in masculine role models.

As for the most part, you’re stuck with me. I’m familiar, predictable, safe, and normal. I’m vanilla.

 

Love,

Daddy

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Is “Natural” Vanilla Flavoring Really From Beavers’ Anal Glands?

February 12, 2012 at 7:53 pm , by 

14 months.

By now, I’ve well established myself as “that dad” who is a health nut vegetarian who won’t allow his son to eatprocessed foods; that includes fruit juice.

I’ve been very clear that I deem the FDA as illegitimate. Why?

Because if they were doing their job, I wouldn’t have to ask the question I did in the title of this article. Well, now Snopes.om verifies Jamie Oliver’s claim as as accurate; that vanilla and strawberry flavoring is made from castoreum, which is derived from the anal glad of beavers.

Wikipedia confirms this absurd concept:

“In the United States, Castoreum has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a food additive, often referenced simply as a ‘natural flavoring’ in the product’s list of ingredients. It is commonly used in both food and beverages, especially as vanilla and raspberry flavoring.”

Again, we shouldn’t even be having this conversation. We shouldn’t have to guess whether or not our children’s animal crackers really are made from beavers’ anal glands.

It’s reasons like this that I make such a deliberate effort to avoid processed foods as much as possible. But see how tricky it is?

Food companies are able to get away with calling beaver anal glands “natural flavoring” while the FDA gives the thumb up.

Castoreum is just a little too natural for me.

Sorry son, but you’re not old enough to know where vanilla ice cream comes from…

 

Note: This post was updated on February 16, 2013, after Snopes.com confirmed the truth about vanilla flavoring urban legend.

For more on vegan food info, read more.

 

What Ingredients Make Up the Flavors of Cola, Cotton Candy, Bubble Gum, and “Superman” Ice Cream?

Vanilla just got cool.

Should it remain a mystery or will finding out what gives these popular yet unquestioned items their flavor? Like a magician who actually reveals his tricks, so will I tear away the ancient veil.  Obviously, sugar plays a huge part in all these flavors, what what else is added to make these flavors so distinct, timeless, and magical?

Cola: Citrus oils (derived from the peels of citrus fruits: orange, lemon, and lime), tamarind, cinnamon, and vanilla.

Cotton Candy: Fruits, berries, honey, molasses, vanilla and maple sugar.

Bubble Gum: peppermint, spearmint, menthol, vanilla and fruit.

“Superman” Ice Cream: Vanilla (plus several different colors of food dye.)  Just vanilla.  Seriously. That’s all it is and has ever been.  The rainbow colors play tricks on our minds.

The common ingredient these mysterious flavors have in common, besides a whole lot of sugar, is vanilla.  The connotation of the word “vanilla” sometimes carries the idea of being plain and ordinary.  However, without it, these wonderful American flavors would not be the same.  Vanilla: who knew?

My Categories: Nostalgia, People, Storytelling, Spirituality, Writing, and Recaps

What’s my writing style?  Spumoni.


If I was smart, I would listen to the authors of “how to be a writer” and “how to have a popular website” books when they clearly tell me, “Find your niche and just focus on it alone.”  Then I could be like the fortunate clever-minded writers who all now have book deals simply because of the popularity of their WordPress websites:

http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com/

http://stuffchristianslike.net/

http://1000awesomethings.com/

Here’s the problem though- I’m not attracting just one type of reader.  I’m luring in several different types of people who are both completely unrelated to each other and yet at other times couldn’t be more alike.  It sort of reminds me of the way that MSN’s home page (http://www.msn.com/) is set up.  Their main categories are news, entertainment, sports, money, and lifestyle.

By default, I have ended up emulating that concept, only mixing it up with my own alternative, off-beat main topics.  Instead of the mainstream-friendly Neapolitan (chocolate-strawberry-vanilla) topics, my twisted version is more like Spumoni (chocolate-pistachio-cherry). *Ironically, Spumoni came first (from Italy), but by the time it became popular in America, it evolved into Neapolitan.

I have come to the conclusion that there are ultimately six main categories I write about: nostalgia, people, storytelling, spirituality, writing, and recaps (of TV shows, mainly).  (“Uncategorized” is an additional generic title given to all my posts as well.)

Of course I struggled with making “Jewish references” and “humor” their own separate categories, but just like a few other “should I make these their own categories?” categories, certain topics aren’t simply things I write about; they’re a part of everything I write.  It would just simply be redundant; stating the obvious.

Being able to read through an entire one of my posts without coming across the words “Jew”, “Jews”, or “Jewish” somewhere in there is about as rare as biting all the way through a Chips Ahoy! chocolate chip cookie without eating a chocolate chip.  And I would hope that there is at least a little bit of irony that comes across as humorous in most of what I write as well.  I shouldn’ have to label it “funny”, otherwise I may be defeating the purpose.

This is just a cool picture. In reality, I do not actually offer newsletters (unless you subscribe to this site; that would count), competitions, free ice cream, or much more.

So who am I attracting on a daily basis?

Fans of LOST, Dexter, The Bachelor, and/or The Bachelorette.  Jewish people.  Christians.  People who grew up in the 1980’s.  People concerned with healthy living.   People who found my website by searching one of those things and then saved my website in their “Favorites” and forwarded the link on to their friends.

In other words, my readers are as random as I am.  Random Spumoni.  Takes one to know one.  Welcome to the club.

The Perceived Idea of Complete Control over Our Lives

Bummer, man.

I’ve learned something about disappointments that has recently helped me to deal with them a whole let better: It’s not so much about the fact that I’m not getting my way. It’s more about the fact I had already set my mind on one thing and now am getting something else instead.

Let’s assume we’re not childish. Let’s assume that we don’t let our day become ruined because they were all out of Hazelnut syrup at Starbucks and we had to settle for vanilla, which when it comes down to it, we like just as much.

The imagined control we have over our own lives

The problem is the change itself in the plans. It’s not my way that got compromised, it’s my plan. My plan got compromised.

Looking at it this way has helped me realize the problem isn’t necessarily the fact I’ve been duped or got the short end of the stick. The problem is that I’m being forced to recognize a part of life I keep forgetting:

I have direction over my life, but I don’t have complete control.

Control is a perceived thing, not an actual one. I can never have complete control over my own life. And that is one of the most relieving yet at the same time stressful things about being alive.

“The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.”  -Proverbs 16:1

Manspeak, Volume 8: Relaxation

One of the great things about this website is that readers can search keywords to find certain writings of mine, and even better, I can read what people type in that search box. Among my favorites: “sickle pickle”, “what does bromance mean to you?”, and “are men really attracted to women with big pupils and that smell like vanilla?”

While I’ve never written anything about men being attracted to women who smell like vanilla, I should. Because it’s true. Vanilla is often an ingredient for women’s perfume because men are indeed enticed by it. It has a relaxing effect. Subconsciously, many men find themselves quite attracted to a woman who can help him relax. There’s science behind it.

A woman’s mind is like a computer screen with 6 or 7 different programs all open and running at once, always active: women were designed to multitask. Even when a woman is taking it easy, appearing to be relaxed- she is still thinking about a few different things at once. It never really stops.

In contrast, a man’s mind is designed to focus on one task at a time, until that task is complete. Then he moves on to the next task, or he rests. Whereas a woman’s mind never really rests, a man’s actually does. It goes into Screensaver Mode. He is truly, literally thinking nothing.

In the way that kids are obsessed with getting candy, one of the things guys are always looking for is a way to rest. That is, unless they are already focused on a project, activity, etc. But rest can come in many different venues; it doesn’t simply men sitting on a recliner watching TV.

Being that it’s fresh on my mind since I went recently with my friend Tommy, canoeing is a good representation of this Restful Activity Franchise, as it represents the laid-back flow of a man’s Screensaver Mode. Others in the franchise include Corn Hole, fishing, and in an individual setting, even simply mowing the lawn.

Screensaver Mode. Restful Activity Franchise. Vanilla. There is definitely a connection.

So it makes sense that a man is going to be drawn to a woman who makes him feel like he can relax with her. Hence, the relaxing scent of vanilla in the woman’s perfume. Women look to men for action and strength, men look to women for nurture and rest. That is part of the groove design of the male/female relationship.

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com

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