Posts Tagged ‘ Return of the Jedi ’

Happiness Is A By-Product, Not A Destination

Sunday, December 16th, 2012

2 years.

Dear Jack,

In the capitalist nation we live in, with its nearly inseparable culture, we have this habit of always finding a new level of happiness, only after we have reached the goal we had been aiming for up until that point.

Just like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs theory explains, happiness will always elude us as long as we chase it.

However, if we can find a way to be content with what we already have, then happiness becomes a by-product of the integrity of that lifestyle.

Yet at the same time I recognize my personal need for a materialistic goal to inspire me to work harder. Strangely, mine is a Jeep Wrangler.

Actually, you and I both have a bizarre infatuation with Jeep Wranglers.

It all started several months back when Jeep Wranglers became one of the first vehicles you could identify by name. Despite being completely content with my Honda Element that I drive you around in, I had never really noticed how, at least here in Nashville, it appears that for every 10 vehicles on the road, one of of them is a Jeep Wrangler.

Yesterday at Target I helped you, or maybe I should say you helped me, try to find a 97 cent Hot Wheels or Matchbox model of the white Jeep Wrangler with a soft top we both fantasize about the most.

(Maybe it’s because somehow they remind me of Imperial Walkers from The Empire Strikes Back?)

Turns out it was a bust. Jeep Wranglers, like fire engine trucks, are not easily obtainable in small die cast form.

After Mommy heard about us catching a case of “Jeep Fever,” now she’s on board too. It could be something as subliminal  as a Jeep Wrangler most aligning with the culture of our family’s lifestyle: simple and classic, yet low-maintenance, rugged, and even a bit quirky.

So as your dad, I’m caught between the realization that happiness is a by-product of being content with the simple, yet privileged life we already lead as a middle class American family, and the fact that I am motivated by money.

As I spend 40 hours a week working my real job as an Employee Relations Specialist, then 12 hours writing material for The Dadabase, then on top of that, studying at least 5 hours preparing for my HR certification, it helps knowing that all this work is going towards growing my career opportunities…for our family.

Sure, it’s a paradox. All that really matters is spending time with you and Mommy, yet most of my time I have to spend working.

That’s why when the three of us are all awake, I make sure the time we spend is quality time.

Of all the life lessons I will be teaching you, perhaps the truth that “happiness can’t be chased” is one of the hardest for me to consistently teach by example.

But I can’t show you that we’re already happy with what we have now, I’ll definitely never be able to show you if we ever get more than we have now.





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Why My Toddler Is Like Chewbacca And Curious George

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

16 months.

I’m realizing pretty quickly that my son Jack understands a lot of what I tell him, though his vocabulary still only consists of 7 legitimate words.

It was always funny to me how in the Star Wars movies, the quick-to-assist Chewbacca could understand every word the humans told him though his best reply was always a mix between a gargle and a yodel.

Similarly, Curious George understands everything The Man in the Yellow Hat tells him to do (or not to do) though the clearest verbal communication George can respond with is cartoon monkey sounds.

Last night my wife and I were hanging out on the couch, entertained simply by our son who was burning off his “before bedtime” energy in the form of a one-baby show. As he grazed by us in the midst of all his running around the living room, we noticed that he needed to wipe his nose. My wife made casual mention of it to me.

Jack looked down at the coffee table, saw a Kleenex, picked it up and perfectly wiped his nose with it. That was cool.

But then, he ran over to the kitchen, opened the pantry door, pressed the lever on the garbage lid to open it, threw away the Kleenex, closed the lid shut, then re-entered the living room to continue his variety show for us.

He’s only 16 months! Sorry, but I’m impressed by that.

And then this afternoon I was getting him ready to go hang out with some friends and realized he was missing his left sock. I instantly assumed he left it somewhere downstairs. I told him, “Jack, we have to find your sock before we leave.”

He immediately sat up from the book he was reading, walked behind me to a pile of books he had already disorganized, and pulled the missing sock from underneath the rubble.

Again, the boy impressed me with his ability to respond to this new language that he is unable to speak in full sentences yet, but can fully respond and carry out certain actions;, just like Chewbacca and Curious George.

I’m starting to wonder what all I can train this little monkey to do…

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My Baby-Sporting Utility Vehicle: The Honda Element

Friday, July 8th, 2011

Seven months.

Shortly after we moved to Alabama from Nashville, my friend Jon Kennedy and his wife, Amelia, came to visit us in our snowed-in cottage home. I remember Jon suggesting that I write about how a man’s car evolves once a baby enters the picture.  After all, some men really do have to trade in their sports cars for minivans.  If not, there are certainly some types of conversions that must take place to make a man’s vehicle “baby friendly” and “baby practical.”  That is, unless you’re me, and you drive a 2004 Honda Element- the best car ever invented!

(Except for maybe the Delorean…).

In my Honda Element, there is virtually no cloth or carpet; all surfacing material is rubber, plastic, or vinyl- even the seats.  So there is no crying to be done over spilled formula or leaky bottles.  The ceiling in my car is especially high, giving Jack the sense that he is not closed in- which is especially important on hour-long trips.  Facing the rear of the vehicle, he has so much visibility not only above him but around him through all the windows.

One of the most unique features about Elements is that the two rear seats fold up into the side of the vehicle when not in use, instead of just simply folding down.  This creates plenty of cargo space- say, for a Pack-and-Play crib or even a corn hold set.

Another great thing about the seats is that they fully recline.  This makes for a convenient diaper-changing station when Jack has a wet or dirty diaper after having just arrived at our destination.

And behind the rear seats, there is still plenty of storage space.  I can easily fit his Jeep walker back there without any grief.

That’s right; my Honda Element is spacious, versatile, and easy to maintain.  Those things are important to me as a dad.  Because ultimately that means I drive a very practical and ideal vehicle for hauling around a little bambino.

It’s no coincidence that in 2007, the Honda Element won the “Dog Car of the Year” from  It only makes sense that if it’s good enough for a baby, it’s good enough for a dog.

Sadly, 2011 is the final year of production for Honda.  So I guess that means eventually I’ll be driving a classic vehicle.  Because I just can’t imagine driving anything other than Jedi- that’s what I named my Element back in 2006 when I bought it.

That is, unless, this particular Dadabase becomes so popular that Honda decides to bring back the Element because the demand for them becomes so high that it would ultimately bring forth the…

Return of the Jedi!

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