Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Monterey Bay Aquarium”

4 years, 10 months.

Dear Jack,

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Monterey Bay Aquarium”

Our family had so much fun road tripping in the 2015 Toyota Camry from Sacramento to Monterey, California. Of course, our main stop on that leg on our trip was the historic Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Here’s my video I made about our trip there, where you can also hear the jingle I wrote for them:

First though, we stopped at Ike’s Love and Sandwiches; a sandwich shop that openly welcomes vegans and vegetarians. I had a very manly vegan meatball sub; as the picture demonstrates.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Monterey Bay Aquarium”

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Monterey Bay Aquarium”

Once we parked the Camry, we enjoyed our walk from the parking garage to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I liked taking the picture of you standing in front of the giant otter at one of the shops there near Monterey Canning Company.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Monterey Bay Aquarium”

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Monterey Bay Aquarium”

The aquarium itself was everything we could have hoped for. I was snapping pictures the whole time as you pulled Mommy around, saying, “Hey, look at this fish!”

You seemed most excited by the sharks; as well as the station where we got to draw our own sea creatures, then “set them free”, by watching them swim across the giant screen in front of us.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Monterey Bay Aquarium”

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Monterey Bay Aquarium”

I think my favorite part was how they presented the jellyfish; in colored lights which really showed off their translucent bodies.

Plus, an extra benefit of visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium is that our family got to check out the Pacific coast; as the aquarium is situated right there on it. Looking down from the pier, we were able to see some seals in their natural habitat; just chilling out on a rock.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Monterey Bay Aquarium”

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Monterey Bay Aquarium”

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Monterey Bay Aquarium”

I love it that you’re at such a perfect age now to truly appreciate such a fun and wondrous event. It was such a treat for our family to experience the Monterey Bay Aquarium!

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Monterey Bay Aquarium”

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Monterey Bay Aquarium”

Before heading to the hotel for the night, we drove to El Cantaro Vegan Mexican Restaurant for dinner, as we talked about our favorite parts about the aquarium.

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Monterey Bay Aquarium”

Dear Jack: Family in a Camry- “Monterey Bay Aquarium”

Mommy got to drive the Camry from there; you fell asleep within a few minutes.

Our next and final stop for our Camry road trip took place the next morning, when we visited the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk Amusement Park…

So stay tuned!

Love,

Daddy

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

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

Dear Jack: Webisode 1 of Jack-Man- “Here, Kitty Kitty”

4 years, 6 months. 

EP1 Title Card

Dear Jack,

This past weekend, you and I shot our very 1st official episode of our new web series, Jack-Man. You were great! Here it is:

As the writer/producer/director/video editor/theme writer & performer, I can confirm that you (as the main lead) did very well following my instructions, scene to scene. I am very pleased with how “Here, Kitty Kitty” turned out.

I re-recorded the Jack-Man theme song, changing some of the lyrics, from the Toyota Sienna version I did for our homemade commercial.

Here are the new, official lyrics:

“Jack-Man, who will fight for justice?

Jack can, he really likes bananas

That man gets his superpowers from them

Jack-Man, knows just where to hit ‘em

When it comes to creepy villains

He packs a punch and eats a healthy lunch

Jack-Man!”

This is the 1st of many, many webisodes I hope to record with you. I plan to create a large collection of “creepy villains” (mainly played by me) for you to encounter.

In this 1st episode, the main underlying plotline of the show is revealed: Green Meanie attempts to get children hooked on soda, which in the words of Green Meanie, “is filled with sugar, caffeine, and weird chemicals.”

Soda is Jack-Man’s kryptonite, where has bananas and water are what gives him his super powers; those of which will slowly be unveiled as future episodes are released.

I’m not exactly sure who the demographic of the show is going to be. My assumption is that Jack-Man is designed for young children. Hopefully kids will like it; and hopefully, parents will deem it safe enough for their children to watch.

Obviously, being part of the super hero genre, there will be swashbuckling action… but if I do it right, our show should still be age appropriate for kids who would want to watch it.

We’ve already filmed the 2nd episode as well, which I plan to release in the next few days.

This is fun!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Our Easter 2015 Egg Hunt/Visit To Hawkins Spring Park

4 years, 4 months.

Our Easter 2015 Egg Hunt/Visit To Hawkins Spring Park

Dear Jack,

Our Easter tradition every year since you have been born has been to take you to the big egg hunt that Nonna and Papa’s church has at someone’s (very large) house.

Our Easter 2015 Egg Hunt/Visit To Hawkins Spring Park

I gave you several coaching sessions before the hunt; sharing with you the effective strategy of immediately running to the far corner of the field, where no one else bothers to go. I also reminded you not to stop to open the eggs; just to throw as many as you could into your basket, then worry about opening them after the hunt is over.

Our Easter 2015 Egg Hunt/Visit To Hawkins Spring Park

Without surprise, you easily obtained more eggs than the other kids by doing so. While you are still not quite inspired to kick the soccer ball during your games, egg hunting is a sport you can get excited about!

Our Easter 2015 Egg Hunt/Visit To Hawkins Spring Park

What’s funny is that you’ve yet to really look through the eggs, even now. You were happiest about bringing home some of my old stuffed animals from when I was your age; not what was inside the eggs.

Our Easter 2015 Egg Hunt/Visit To Hawkins Spring Park

Later on, we all went to Hawkins Spring Park there in Fort Payne, Alabama; my hometown. Where I grew up, there were several parks around our house, yet I never really went to this one.

Our Easter 2015 Egg Hunt/Visit To Hawkins Spring Park

Our Easter 2015 Egg Hunt/Visit To Hawkins Spring Park

Our Easter 2015 Egg Hunt/Visit To Hawkins Spring Park

Had I known about it back when I was 4, this might have been my favorite park; especially since a giant creek runs through it.

Our Easter 2015 Egg Hunt/Visit To Hawkins Spring Park

Our Easter 2015 Egg Hunt/Visit To Hawkins Spring Park

Our Easter 2015 Egg Hunt/Visit To Hawkins Spring Park

Of course, I didn’t let you and your cousin Calla have all the fun on the playground. They happened to have an adult playground where grown men like me and your Uncle Andrew could test our agility and strength. We were victorious… mostly.

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Oh, and we rescued an old abandoned tire from the creek. We helped the environment!

Our Easter 2015 Egg Hunt/Visit To Hawkins Spring Park

A common question I have been getting this week is, “Did you have a good Easter?”

I did. We all did. We have nothing but good, fun, quality time as a family… while visiting family.

Love,

Daddy

Our Easter 2015 Egg Hunt/Visit To Hawkins Spring Park

The Shell Diet: Fresh- Forget about Processed Foods and Replace Sugar with Whole Fruits

Cut out all processed foods.


1) The worst thing about processed foods is that they are typically loaded with “bad sugars” and “bad fats”, not to mention too much sodium. This means all fast food, fried food, candy, snack cakes, sodas, coffee bought at a coffee shop, even yogurt (loaded with sugar!) just to name a few examples.  “Good sugars” are whole fruits and “good fats” are nuts- they’re good and necessary as part of the Shell Diet.

How do you know if a food is processed?  Any kind of food you wouldn’t have been able to find 200 years ago, if it contains more than 7 ingredients, and/or if it comes sealed in a box or bag sent from a factory, there is a good chance it is processed.  And that means you shouldn’t eat it because it has too much fatsugar, and or sodium.  Those three things are some of the rarest elements found in food, yet in today’s culture, a lot of our food choices are based on those things, and those are the things making us unhealthy.  Jesus didn’t eat Hot Pockets.  Abraham Lincoln didn’t eat Twinkies.  So neither will I.

2) So if you’re not eating junk food, or even “healthy” processed snacks (made with soy or tofu), what can you eat? Eat anything that is a plant, as a snack. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, and even whole grain cereal as long as no sugar has been added (admittedly, there aren’t a whole lot of cereals that fit that description, so unless I am having plain oatmeal with fruit, I buy plain shredded wheat and add honey, which is natural and healthy to eat).

3) Drinking your calories is just as bad, if not worse, than eating them. Soda is what I call “diabetes juice”.  Sugary coffee and sweat tea are “liquid cigarettes”.  And 100% fruit juice?  Still processed.  I call it “vitamin infused Kool Aid”.  We’re supposed to be eating fruit on a daily basis, not drinking it.  Because unless we’re eating the fiber with the fruit, we’re cheating ourselves and just drinking the vitamins and sugar from the fruit, wasting its fiber.

I don’t buy into the advertising ploy of V-8 and other “healthy juices” advertising that if you buy drinking their product, you’re getting the proper number of servings of fruits and veggies.  You may be getting the vitamins, but you’re getting too much sugar, and not enough fiber.  Sure, it’s better than soda, or not eating any fruits or veggies at all, but you’re still cheating yourself out of a healthy thing.

Acknowledgement: This far into reading about the “Shell Diet”, you have every reason to feel discouraged at how demanding of a lifestyle change it is.  But this is the price you pay to be healthy now, and to prevent Diabetes, cancer, and all that other bad stuff.  And there’s no way around it.  Even if you’re thin, it doesn’t mean you’re necessary healthy.

4) So what does Nick Shell drink, the creator of the Shell Diet, drink? Because obviously there isn’t much left to choose from. Mainly water– no less than two liters (ideally 3 liters) per day.  A little bit of milk with cereal or coffee (but no processed creamer or sugar).  Certain select fruit juices like carrot juice or Bolthouse Farms’ Green Goodness- they are the only exceptions to my “no fruit juice rule” because they both contain a power house of nutrients that are difficult to get a hold of and are more of a puree than a juice.

And lastly, one alcoholic beverage per day. Yes, it may sound like I’m going against everything I’ve established so far, but it’s a key factor of the Shell Diet being successful.  Almost every day, I either have a classy beer (like Leinenhugel’s, Fat Tire, Blue Moon, Shock Top, etc., but never Bud Light or anything people use to get drunk on during sports events or that underage teens with fake I.D.’s are drawn to) or a glass of wine (my favorite brand is actually Macaroni Grille).

If you have any religious reservations about this, read this, and if that doesn’t help (or you’re a recovering alcoholic or think you might become one), I have to admit you are at a disadvantage regarding the Shell Diet, but I don’t want to be responsible for you feeling like you are sinning against God (or lead you back into a lifestyle of abuse if you have a history of alcoholism).  If the Southern-small-town-Baptist restriction applies to you, I of all people completely understand where you’re coming from: I never had any alcohol until after high school and college.  It wasn’t until age 24 (right after moving to Nashville; the official crossroads of the Bible Belt and honky tonks) that I was able to process how I truly felt about Jesus Juice (wine) and Baptist Brew (beer).  Ironically, when I abandoned my “drinking is wrong” theology, for me, it was one of the most spiritually maturing times in my life.

Why do I strongly endorse daily consumption of one alcoholic drink per day?  Aside from the abundant health benefits mentioned here, it is a filling and healthy rival (again, in small amounts, not abundance) to sugar.  Plus, at the end of the day, with dinner, it is relaxing.   And that is a good thing.  It’s important to relax, because stress causes cancer.

*But wait, there’s more…Go back to the main page of the The Shell Diet by clicking right here.

The Art and Irony of Trendsetting: Featuring Crocs, Hawaiian Shirts, Voss Water, and WWJD Bracelets

Trends are only truly cool when they’re not quite cool yet.  And by the time they are in style, they’re pretty much going out of style.

Recognizing the hilariousness of how in many offices in America, it is standard that everyone dresses professionally Monday through Thursday, but on Friday, everyone goes casual with jeans and often t-shirts, at the beginning of the summer I decided to start making Thursday a “buffer” day for how I dress in the office, encouraging everyone else to participate.  How do you transition from khakis and dress shirts to jeans and t-shirts?  Hawaiian shirts.

They are button-down shirts with collars.  Perfect, tacky transition.  At first, only one other coworker would join me in Hawaiian Shirt Thursday.  But then, if for no other reason they felt like they were missing out on something cool, one by one, others began joining us.  By the end of the summer, I had half of the office on my side.  Some people dug through their closets to find the shirt; some actually went out and bought one.  And now, even in autumn, many of us are keeping the tradition going.

Of course, this isn’t the first trend I’ve started at work.  In an effort to make sure I was drinking enough water everyday, I went to Whole Foods and bought a glass Voss water bottle that I refill several times throughout the day.  At first, coworkers joked with me, “Isn’t it a little early in the day for vodka?”  By now though, several of them have privately approached me to ask where they could get a water bottle like that.  And sure enough, the glass Voss water bottle is no longer weird in my office, but instead it’s the norm.

But the irony with trendsetting is that by successfully coming up with an original and unpopular idea, it eventually becomes unoriginal and popular.  Prime example: Crocs.  For the last couple of years, I’ve looked on from a distance at the weird plastic rainbow colored Birkenstock rip-offs.  They were so trendy.  You’d see moms and their kids out at the mall, all wearing Crocs.  Even though I wanted some, I refused to buy them.  Because they were too cool at the time.

However, this week I came to a realization.  The Birkenstocks I have been wearing were given to me by my parents Christmas 1999.  I had already paid $35 five years ago to have them resoled.  It was time for me to either have them repaired again, or pay $110 for new ones.  Or… pay $30 for some brown Crocs.

To entertain the idea of buying Crocs, I checked around Cool Springs during my lunch breaks while riding my mountain bike instead of driving (another office trend I’ve been trying to start since April), but sure enough, I had trouble finding any Crocs for sale.  Eventually, some girls behind the counter at a Hallmark told me to check out the Croc stand across from Fossil in the mall.

Needless to say, with yesterday being Thursday, I wore my Hawaiian shirt, with Crocs, while drinking water from a Voss water bottle.  And boy was I cool.  Yet I wouldn’t have been caught wearing Crocs if they were still trendy.  The trend of wearing Crocs is over; which is why it was more difficult than I had imagined to find them.  I’m not saying that Crocs aren’t cool anymore; they’re just no longer a fad.

And so an important rule for a trendsetter is to not get involved in a trend that is overly popular.  But once a trend is over, then it’s “game on” to participate.  Some fads, after their prime, become an outdated, yet timeless classic.  Like Hawaiian shirts.  And Chuck Taylor’s.  And the wondrous Rubik’s Cube.  WWWD bracelets?  Not so much.


dad from day one: How to Get Rid of Those Darned Leg Cramps during Pregnancy

Twenty-five weeks.

Just a few short weeks ago I published dad from day one: Leg Cramp Alarm Clock where I proclaimed,Ultimately, she’s pregnant and leg cramps are part of the deal.  They will probably be replaced by another annoying inconvenience.  And what will I do?  What can I do?”

But now, looking back, I think, “How could I have been so absent-minded to say that?”  In that moment, I must have forgotten my own belief system when it comes to curing ailments- that any kind of developed physical ailment is a symptom and a warning sign of something the human body is either lacking or has too much of.  I believe God gives us those clues to help us figure out how to become healthier, not simply to fix or mask the problem.

Just like the way I learned the hard way The Cure for Eczema (click title to find out how), my wife had to learn how to prevent/stop  having leg cramps.  And since she has made some slight changes, the cramps not only stopped, but haven’t came back once since then.  These leg cramps weren’t simply another annoying side effect of being pregnant- they were my wife’s body’s way of screaming out for at least four things in particular (because the baby is “taking them from her”): calcium (the baby’s bones are hardening), magnesium, water, and better blood circulation.

She has been faithful to take at least one calcium supplement and one magnesium supplement every morning and constantly drinks from a Voss water bottle (it’s just a cool botttle, since it’s made of glass instead of plastic- it’s not magic Norwegian healing water or anything) she refills several times a day from the fridge (she also drinks water any time she wakes up during the night).  And as much as possible, keeps her legs slightly elevated- she has a papasan rocker chair so her feet don’t touch the ground when we’re just hanging out at home; and often she rests her legs on a pillow when she sleeps.

So far, it’s done the trick.

The leg cramps have not snuck back yet.  And if they do, my first response will be: More water, more calcium, more magnesium, elevate your legs…

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

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com


dad from day one: Leg Cramp Alarm Clock

Twenty-two weeks.

Last week, my wife started suffering from leg cramps due to the pregnancy.  About every other day, I wake up to her crying out in sharp pain and moving around in the bed.  Though I should know better by now, in my “just awoken from a dream where I am exploring underground caves in canoes with people I haven’t seen since 3rd grade” state-of-mind, still mostly asleep and only technically awake, I always assume the worst- that she is scared because she saw that someone has broken into the house, so I now I need to pull out the closest weapon available to play Dexter or Chuck Norris.

But no, it’s another leg cramp.  And what can I really do?  Sympathize (which is easy to do) and start massaging her calves.  No matter which one I start with, it’s always the wrong one.  Murphy’s Law.  And I typically start massaging too hard, then too soft, then by the time I get it right, time has ran its course and the Charlie Horse has trotted away.

Baby Jack will basically be the size of a papaya until Week 25.

Eat more bananas for potassium.  Drink more water.  Keep salt by the bed to lick.  Elevate the legs.  Avoid standing flat footed.  She’s trying it all.  And still, the leg cramps still happen.

Ultimately, she’s pregnant and leg cramps are part of the deal.  They will probably be replaced by another annoying inconvenience.  And what will I do?  What can I do?  Be there.

What The Bump says about Baby Jack this week:

Watch what you say — baby is now able to hear outside noise from down in the womb. Studies show that baby finds gentle music and your own voice most soothing. Nipples are starting to sprout, and that little face is fully formed. And, baby’s starting to settle into sleep cycles, snoozing about 12 to 14 hours a day. It shouldn’t be hard to figure out when — just pay attention to those kicks as they start and stop.

http://community.thebump.com/cs/ks/blogs/2ndtrimester/pages/weeks-21-24-month-5-papaya.aspx?r=0&MsdVisit=1

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

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com