What do a frozen tire and a frozen mac-and-cheese pizza have in common? Other than them both having a Pac-Man sort of thing going on in that picture collage, they were two important plot devices in today’s story.
Let me back up to where the story actually begins, with Mommy quietly waking up at 8:03 AM. She had let me sleep in; I had stayed up until past midnight writing yesterday’s letters to you.
“Nick… something happened to my tire. I just looked out the window. It’s flat. What do we do?”
It’s been a while since I’ve had to change a flat tire to a spare to get it down to the nearest tire store… probably a dozen years, but for some reason, I tend to think most clearly first thing in the morning and late at night. (Evidently my head is just in the clouds for most of the day in between.)
The nearly brand-new tire for Mommy’s car got a nail in the side of it, and overnight, it froze after it flattened.
As it began snowing, you watched me through the front door, making snake shapes out of your Thomas the Train track against the glass.
Thank God this happened on the one day of the week where it didn’t really interfere with our family’s schedule. Had this happened any other day than Saturday morning, it definitely would have been quite annoying and offensive us getting to work and school, or at least church.
Lucky for you, Mommy and I let you pick out a toy car while the tire was getting replaced. You chose a green 1963 Aston Martin, by the way.
(Not to self: Always buy the extended warranty on tires from Firestone… We only had to pay 20 bucks to cover taxes and a re-up on the warranty. Brand-new tire and labor, $20.)
What could have been a really bad day, where I wasn’t able to change the flat to the spare to drive it to the tire store, meaning we had to pay for a tow truck or something, and where I didn’t fork out the extra cash last time for the extended warranty, we would have lost hundreds of dollars today.
Instead, only 20 bucks.
Plus, you got a very special treat for lunch once we got back to our house. I couldn’t have planned it this way, but yesterday, Annie’s Homegrown had someone personally deliver one of their new Macaroni & Cheese pizzas for you to try.
I’ve always been very outspoken in promoting their company, like a couple of months ago when I reported that they were ranked #10 on Forbes’ list of Best Small Companies in America.
By default, I have become a brand evangelist for Annie’s Homegrown, so passionate about the fact that they are committed to saying no to GMO’s (and Monsanto) and petroleum-based food dyes (like Kraft uses).
And by default, you have become an unoffical poster child for them.
(We’re even trying to work it out where we can visit their headquarters in Berkely next summer when we visit Mommy’s side of the family in Sacramento.)
So, unsurprisingly, Annie’s Homegrown chose you as one of the first kids in America to review their new Macaroni & Cheese pizza. I kept a little notepad handy to document your thoughts on it:
After seeing Mommy pull it out of the oven, you proudly proclaimed, “I’m going to eat all of that pizza!”
I should point out that you didn’t know you were doing a food review, so I found it pretty interesting that on your own, after you finished the last bite, you provided solid and definite feedback that I didn’t even ask you for:
“Daddy, I like this new mac-and-cheese pizza you got me.”
So I think that pretty much sums it up for the folks at Annie’s Homegrown and for the other curious kids across America who heard about that new mac-and-cheese pizza:
Jack liked it!
Since I was already recording everything you were saying, I want to remind you of the last thing you said before I stopped writing it all down:
“No Huggies, no kissies, ’til I see that wagon bean!”
(That’s your verson of the 1986 hit by The Georgia Satellites, “Keep Your Hands To Yourself.”)
The highlight of my day, though, was going back through the pictures of today’s events and seeing the parallel pictures, comparing me changing and rolling the flat tire in the morning to you changing and rolling your “brown tire” (the base of a papasan chair) later in the afternoon.
It wasn’t a coincidence you were doing that.
Yeah, that pretty much made my day, kid.
Disclaimer: The food mentioned in this story was provided at the expense of Annie’s Homegrown, for the purpose of reviewing.
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I have opened and assembled some interesting toys for you in the past year or so, but one of your 3rd birthday gifts just really takes the birthday cake.
It wins the prize for not only “Just Plain Bizzare,” but also…
“Clearly Not An American Product!”
This Tomica car playset, which I hinted to Nonna to buy for you as a birthday gift when we were at TJ Maxx with her and Papa a few months ago, is labled as “Hypercity Rescue Gas Station Fire.”
As I was unboxing it for you, I took a picture so you could see how weird it was.
It reminds me of the very memorable and always hilarious “freak gasoline fight accident” scene on the movie, Zoolander:
I like how on the cover of the box there is a nerdy guy having to run away from his extremely cool sports car convertible, and how the fireman is instantly on the scene, putting out the fire.
Clearly, there are no injuries. The fireman saves the day and the man who drives the red convertible runs out of the way just in time. It is assumed the insurance company covers the expenses lost in the explosion of the building. Happy ending every time.
Again though, clearly not an American product.
I think it’s safe to say Hot Wheels would never create something this weird.
Granted, they make a car playset where cars drive up a ramp in order to jump into a live T-Rex’s mouth, which Mommy and I bought for your birthday… but that’s nothing compared to “Hypercity Rescue Gas Station Fire.”
Not to mention, this set comes with a lot (!) of stickers to apply and no instructions.
Just the good ole fashioned, “Figure it out yourself!” deal.
From what I could understand, the set is designed to be easily wrecked, so the “on fire” stickers can be revealed when the assumed 3 year-old boy who is playing with the set decides to blow it up every 45 seconds.
You wanted a gas station playset for all your cars. Well, you got it.
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I remember those sort of strange nights as a kid when my dad was in charge of providing me grub and conversation. But it was a nice change, too.
Every once in a while, like tonight, there is that rare occasion where it’s just you and me for dinner time.
What’s for dinner? Ah, leftover Annie’s Mac and Cheese in the fridge, which you insist on eating on cold- and of course, I don’t argue.
Applesauce too. Even half of an unfinished English muffin pizza that Mommy made you from… a few (?) days ago.
No table required. We both just dined on leftovers from the fridge, at the bar. You quickly resorted to losing the spoon and just eating with your hands.
I was impressed with your barbaric ways.
Lucky for you, there happened to be a chocolate covered cream treat that Mommy had brought home from work.
You even got dessert! Score!
But yes, the conversation during “Daddy does dinner” nights is… sort of caveman.
All I know is, there is silence interupted by grunts. Not to mention, no real eye contact. What would have been at least a 25 minute meal had Mommy been there, it gets edited down to no more than 8 minutes when Daddy’s hosting dinner.
I think part of the reason is because we have to save our energy for our “post dinner scuffle.”
There’s the part where we can go in the hallway and I roll Mommy’s exercise ball at you like you’re Indiana Jones. And where Daddy becomes a ridable bull.
And your favorite, where you grab a random kitchen utensil and use it to “chomp Daddy’s pasta hair” while riding on my shoulders.
So, yeah. Dinner time’s a bit different than Daddy, instead of Mommy. As much fun as we do have together for dinner, I still know you’d rather Mommy to be in charge of dinner instead.
I can still roll her exercise ball at you anyway.
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Today, rapper, record producer, and entrepreneur Jay Z has asked for my advice on his 22 day experiment with veganism, with wife Beyonce joining him.
Okay, well, I should clarify…
Jay Z isn’t asking for my specific advice, but he is asking his fans. Given that only about 2.5% of the American population identifies as vegan, I happen to be part of that curious minority who lives the plant-based life every minute of every day.
While I’m already witnessing on the Internet a wave of criticism for his decision to try out, and possibly stick with, the vegan lifestyle, I happen to be one of the few to actually have some good advice for Jay Z.
Because when it comes to being a vegan, I know what I’m talking about.
I’m not a heckler in the crowd who mocks veganism by saying, “We’re all going to die at some point, right?” Instead, I am a living science experiment for everyone to see.
This very week makes 9 months that I’ve been a vegan (an extremely strict one, too: no honey!) and 2 whole years since I’ve been a vegetarian.
Of course, my dive into the plant-based life was several years in the making, since I started out 5 years ago by going kosher (no pork or shellfish).
And that journey led me here.
So, if by some chance Jay Z happened to read this letter I am privately writing to you today, what would be my best advice for him?
It’s not about what you “can’t” eat, it’s about what you can.
I break it down into the 6 “Vegan Food Groups” or what I call, “The Big 6″:
Vegetables, fruits, beans, grain, nuts, and seeds. As a vegan, you can eat as much of those 5 things as you want. And it doesn’t take long before you realize that those 6 things are so full of protein, fiber, “good fats” and “good sugar” that you aren’t left wanting for more.
Basically, and this is only my theory, being a vegan means your cholesterol intake is more than 0% (from good fats, like avocados, cashews, coconuts, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, etc.) but less than 1% (because of no animal fats). I think part of the reason vegans feel so much better after nixing animals products is because they are no longer experiencing another living (at one time) animal’s cholesterol and fat running through their veins.
Based on how much better I feel after having become a vegan 9 months ago, I believe the human body functions perfectly on more than 0% but less than 1% of the daily allowance for cholesterol. (One large chicken egg alone equals way more than half of the daily allowance.)
Yet, I don’t believe everyone should “go vegan.” It’s something you have to want in your heart, especially after having watched any of the following documentaries on Netflix:
Forks Over Knives, Hungry For A Change, Vegucated, The Beautiful Truth, Dying To Have Known, Supersize Me, and Food, Inc.
Also, it’s important to listen to your appetite. If you’re craving a big, fat, juicy cheeseburger, ask yourself what your body is actually craving.
A large cheeseburger contains a lot of (and by that I mean way too much!) protein and saturated fat.
So, out of vegetables, fruits, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds, which have a lot of protein and fat?
Protein: Vegetables and beans.
Fat: Nuts and seeds. (That includes avocados, cocunuts, and cashews; all of which are in weird food categories.)
But after all that, you’re still craving something sweet, like soda or candy?
Well… how many servings of fruit have your had today?
Craving sweets is your body’s way of telling you that you need the nutrients of fruits, which are packed with “good sugar” (as opposed to Monsanto-drenched high fructose corn syrup) and fiber.
The bottom line is this, your body tells you which of the “Big 6″ (vegetables, fruits, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds) you need.
The problem is, if you’ve grown up with the Western Diet of eating highly processed foods, at first, your brain only knows to speak to you in the form it recognizes by experience.
So you have to retrain your brain on where to get the best source of the nourishment it’s actually wanting.
Granted, this means there’s no such thing as a “quick bite from the drive-thru” anymore.
In the likeness of how Dave Ramsay says you have to tell your money where to go or it will tell you where to go…
You have to plan your meals out days in advance. You can’t leave it up to the mercy of a busy schedule to dictate what and when you eat.
That’s why Mommy keeps a schedule on the fridge so everyone knows all week “what’s for dinner.” (Most of her recipes are from the flawless vegan recipe website: Oh She Glows.)
Anyway, that’s what I’d tell Jay Z if he happened to somehow be reading this.
But, hey, you’re my son, you live with me and know all this stuff already first hand. It’s “normal” to you.
Or, I should say… It’s a plant-based life for us!
Note: This is an opinion piece of the author and does not reflect Parents magazine or the medical establishment.
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How to Eat Healthy: Raising Nutrition-Smart Kids
So, seriously… this is a pretty big deal in my book. And by “my book,” I’m evidently referring to this ongoing collection of the 846 letters and stories (so far) I’ve already written about you or to you in regards to being your dad, called The Dadabase.
For the first time ever, over Thanksgiving weekend, you traveled in a car to a restaurant not wearing a diaper and didn’t have an accident. That’s awesome!
After Mommy cooked our fancy vegan Thanksgiving feast (and I did the dishes), we were ready for a meal without work required. So Nonna and Papa (my parents) took us out to our to our favorite restaurant, The Wild Cow Vegetarian Restaurant.
While I am sincere in saying that it’s our family’s favorite restaurant, it’s also the only restaurant in Nashville that we ever eat at… unless Whole Foods counts.
I’ve admitted before that you could have probably already been officially potty-trained a few months ago if Mommy and I only had the time to focus on it with you.
But since we don’t, whenever Nonna and Papa drive up from Alabama, they work on that with you.
In the midst of all the Thanksgiving activities, I didn’t realize you were exclusively wearing your new set of Disney “big boy underwear” the whole time.
I remember halfway to the restaurant, driving us in the Rav4 that I was reviewing, thinking, “Oh… Jack’s not wearing a diaper! This could be bad… What happens if he can’t hold it until we get there?”
Not only did you not have an accident, but you went potty, twice, in the Wild Cow Vegetarian Restaurant while we dined on our divine meals.
Mommy and I were so proud of you, we decided it was only appropriate to let you have a special dessert treat: A vegan chocolate cupcake, shipped in from Nashville’s vegan bakery, Khan’s Desserts.
It apparently was so good, you went cuckoo there for a minute…
I have a feeling now that you’ve succesfully been in the car for more than 20 minutes one way in the Rav4, and then back, plus making it through our entire meal without having an accident…
But instead, going potty in the bathroom there, I think Mommy and I are at a good place, concerning your journey of potty training.
It’s not something I’ve let bother me. Maybe I should.
Nor is it something I compare myself to other parents about. Maybe I should.
Really though, I don’t think I have to worry about you. You are so seriously motivated by getting to wear your “big boy underwear” and not getting them dirty, the motivation is there for you already.
All I really have to do is facilitate the situation.
I wasn’t expecting this part to be this easy.
And by the way…
You lasted about 5 minutes in the car ride back home before you crashed on Papa’s arm, for Napsville.
Yeah, you were no match for that well-earned vegan chocolate cupcake.
Disclaimer: The vehicle mentioned in this story was provided at the expense of Toyota, for the purpose of reviewing.
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