Why Being a Dad in America is so Great
Check out this video from +BreakThis guy does an amazing job #packing for #vacation... An entire month of vacation! He packs it down into one duffle and its not just mashed together either. As parents, I don't see ourselves traveling for a month at a time but I certainly can use this tip when packing a family of six into one #checked-bag or a generous #carry-on.
These guys over at +How To Be A Dad know comedy and parenting. Really the two go hand in hand. I enjoy every post from these folks and you should to. Click the pic to go to their page and enjoy what you may need and I might miss!
Baby Fingernails the Deadliest Edged Weapons

If you ever want to know how to get your ass kicked, sit there while this is happening... This is an ad from the #AdCouncil about bullying in school. I rode the bus a few times but fortunately never had to experience any of this, physically. What may be easily overlooked here is the psychological trauma to the kids NOT doing anything. There's a saying "beware of large groups of idiots". In THIS example I'd be more worried about a few dorks swinging wildly than one bully trying to act tough. Mainly because the bully is compensating for something he hasn't got... courage.
It takes #courage to do the right thing. I'm fortunate enough to have an awesome #housewife and help-meet who leads all four of our children through their daily +Homeschool routine and drives them to and from their various lessons and activities.
+Christeena Phillips was telling me about a recent trip to #Publix. There was a man employed there who obviously had down syndrome. She was terrified that they were about to open their mouths and say something utterly embarrassing when "it" happened; they engaged in conversation!
Well, nothing came of it and they made her totally proud! Max, our 4 year old, high-fived him, and the girls chatted with him about his 42nd birthday that was coming up while they discussed cakes and toys they got. An appropriately pleasant conversation! Bullying isn't just smacking a kid around on the bus; it's being ignorant to people who obviously don't meet the societal "norms". It's not holding the door for a family and their wheelchair as you leave a restaurant, even if it's raining!
The only thing that changes is the word we use to describe it because the definition is the same. Instead of being a bully, we call you a dick! Way to go, dick! By the way, I'm still bigger than you and I will hit you... don't be a dick! Oh, and love on your kids so that they learn to model appropriate behaviors and not some trash like the kids in this video.

It's that time of year folks! Where you, loyal Americans, contribute to the relief of +Boy Scouts of America organizations everywhere but more specifically right here. Right here in good ol' +MacDill AFB Pack 56. Click on the image below to order popcorn and have it shipped to your house before anyone else gets it. Yes, it's true, order online and get your popcorn first!
Yes, it's overpriced, and, yes, you can get popcorn at any Publix, so why here? This "overpriced" popcorn is delicious! Aside from that, over 70% of the money goes back to your local Scouting Councils. Our Pack actually gets 40% of each sale. That goes a long way towards buying awards for almost 60 boys, paying for various outings, and contributing to the betterment of Americans everywhere.

Sign up, America! Get your popcorn today! Seriously though, buy it today so I don't have to remind you later...
The kids decided that they wanted to play out front, even though the surface of the sun is cooler temperature-wise. So Mad-Max the four year old is riding around his bike and pulls up next to my sweet umbrella-recliner chair.
"Got any gas?"
"I'm sorry, what? Oh, your... Ah, yes. Here you are." It takes quick thinking on your feet but even faster on your ass. Four year olds will snatch your brain up quick! So, after I fill up his tank (imaginary of course) he asks for some spare parts.
"Sure" I reply. "But you'll need a hammer and a screwdriver to make sure they go on right."
"Can I borrow yours?"
"Not a chance! You broke the last two I gave you!" I reply to which his face started to wrinkle and contort.
"So... can I borrow... Dad.... for serious or for play? Are you serious right now?" Boom! Mind blown!

Of course I was kidding but before I could rev him up real good I saw the disappointment on his face and right before he crumbled, because MAN was he lost, he had to double check his brain-bank and see if he had ever borrowed a hammer from me.

Moral of the story, you ARE smarter than a fifth grader so remember that next time you want to mess with them. They take it veeeery seriously! Play time for them is the same as it is in the animal kingdom; it's training for the future. Engage with them on all levels and remember that they believe 99% of everything we tell them.
Buffalo Wild Wings on Urbanspoon+Buffalo Wild Wings here in Riverview was a pleasant experience for everyone! Our waitress was great but didn't hover. The food was fresh and even though it was my fault I didn't like my food they replaced it for free. All in all a great experience!

The manager is very professional and love to hear any feedback, positive and negative, to make his establishment better! Can't wait to go back. Neither can the kids!

The following review is given on a scale of 1-5, 1 being the worst and 5 being the best.

REVIEW2 out of 5
My daughter got a late birthday gift today while we were in Gainesville, Florida, at The Oaks Mall. Unfortunately, the +Build A Bear Forever workshop was closed so she got a Triceratops from The Bear Mill, Inc.

By the time she got it to the car she already found one hole in the seam. When we got it home, mom found no less than five more holes in the brand new $30, poorly stuffed, toy. I've already left one email with the company and eagerly await their reply.

I received an email from the store manager within 24 hours who offered to replace the stuffed dino-bear. Unfortunately I don't have any trips planned to Gainesville, FL any time soon. Instead she offered to send me a full refund! Fair? You bet!

Within 24 hours of that I got an email from Janis Fenton, President and CEO of the Bear Mill apologizing profusely for the product and has offered for me to select any product off of their website which she will stuff and mail personally!

I don't know about you but that's better than any service I'd get if I walked in to return an item to ANY store!

OVERALL: 4 out of 5
Overall I'm very satisfied with this transaction. My goal here is to help parents sift through the pile of crap commonly known as children's toys and find reliable, trustworthy, dependable business-people and products that we all can rely on. Think about it, a network of parents that share reliable information about things, not just opinion, and can count on one another for reliable advice.

Maybe they had an off day, maybe my daughter carries a switch-blade in her pocket, who knows. Like Janis said about her company, they pride themselves on Products you can Count On” and "it is against everything our company believes in to have had this occur." 
Yup, I saw a movie... paid for it and everything. Since the younger three were seeing +Monster Trucks in Nashville, Georgia, my wife +Christeena Phillips and I were left with the oldest for her end-of-year Championship Swim Meet at our +Campo YMCA. After five hours there we decided to see +Percy Jackson and the sea of monsters.

It was a good movie for kids and definitely PG. There were some scary parts but nothing permanent. No blood and no cussing... You know, the more I think about it, it was a really good "PG" movie!

There are many times that I sit down and watch something on television that I have to explain to the kids over dinner but with movies we get a few more chances before we dump this thematic poop into their young brains. "Are there really cyclopss'ss'?" "Why doesn't he have legs?" "Who is Poseidon?" If you're ready to answer these questions then you're ready to see this movie. That was the extent of this movie's harm. Enjoy!
Taco Bell on UrbanspoonBefore you even look... This +Taco Bell sucked! I'm somewhat of a connoisseur of such establishments but this one was terrible. I had to take my order up three time for them to get it right. The place was dirty and while people weren't working, no one was grabbing a broom to fix it. If you get the opportunity, keep driving! This one made me ring the bell for certain.

Colonnade on UrbanspoonWe have eaten at the Colonnade several times and love it over and over. Yes, it's on Bayshore, and, yes, we still have four children. It doesn't get any better for our money though! Especially when you're talking about quality seafood and price! We eat here for the same price of +LongHorn Steakhouse or +Red Lobster. The wait staff is always professional and courteous even when our kids are not. 

It doesn't get any better for fine dining and again, family friendly, than The Colonnade. Repeat customers here!!

Sonny's BBQ on UrbanspoonWent to eat at Sonny's Barbecue the other night and I had the all-you-can-eat pulled pork. I mention this only because of its significance. An "all you can eat" sign is like a dare! Thank God, too, I was hungry! After almost six plates of pork and several loaves of toast I had my fill. The kids split an order of ribs that was nearly fall off the bone good. What made this trip worth it though was the waitress. She didn't hover and she showed up to refill my drink and made pleasant but not annoying conversation.

You know the kind I mean; the waitress that talks to you because shutting her mouth wouldn't be convenient... That wasn't our problem this night. She came, she refilled, she left, and we hungered no more. We will definitely be back!

Quaker Steak & Lube on UrbanspoonWe had been to +Quaker Steak And Lube in Pinellas Park before and loved it. In fact, it was pretty darn cool! With a family of six it takes a lot to impress four children and a shallow-wallet dad. Well, this place was impressive! It's no +CheddarsCasualCafe but the price was fair and the food was delicious! The wait staff was quick and courteous and unfortunately our second trip was cut short by a power outage! We'll be back...

Chili's Grill & Bar on UrbanspoonWe wound up eating at +Chili's Grill & Bar over in Pinellas Park, FL yesterday. Well, what had happened was... We wanted to go to +Quaker Steak And Lube and a storm wound up killing the power. After an hour drive from the house we were in no mood to "figure something out" so we asked the birthday girl if she wanted to eat somewhere a day early. She chose Chili's... Let me say that it was a wonderful experience and they gave us the new peanut butter molten cake for free!

It was a welcome surprise especially since when we asked the wait staff at Quaker Steak and Lube where another family-friendly restaurant was, she recommended +Mugs 'N Jugs Sports Bar and Grill. I'm not joking, with four children surrounding me, THAT was her recommendation... idiot.

We're on our way to swim at the +Campo YMCA this afternoon and Maxwell asks, randomly of course, "What does +Superman look like?" My wife, +Christeena Phillips, the wonderful cheerleader that she is, pipes-in before I can reply, "He looks like daddy!"
Awe, isn't she sweet...
Maxwell raises his eyebrows, having not yet seen the movie, the car is silent, and I look back at him with my tough face on. He replies with amazement in his voice, the sheer excitement of the thought bubbling from his lips and says, "Superman's bald?!?!!"
Over dinner I decided to recap the day's schoolwork with the children.

Me - "What'd you learn in school today, Jonathan?"
Him - "Um, nothing?"

I could see that this wasn't going to end well... for him. Since we +Homeschool the comment reflected poorly on his teacher and she was about to hurt him.

After some quick thinking I went ahead and asked the other three children what they learned to which Charlotte recapped the entire story of Jeremiah being left at the temple when he was four years old, all 30-something verses of it... VERY impressive. Then I heard about how the Vikings were such efficient sailors and discovered Greenland and Iceland followed by math, numbers, blah blah blah.

Considering that our children are using Junior to High School material I'd say they're doing alright. Take THAT Florida Public School System! We're smarter than you!
I saw the video that I had posted earlier and couldn't believe how far we've come, technologically. Then I began thinking of my own senses and how I'd "feel" if I lost one of them. Then, your author, the psychology and Christian counseling student, began pondering these things:
What is joy without pain? What is sight without hearing? I can answer that! The 1989 Richard Pryor classic See No Evil, Hear No Evil! HA! But seriously folks... I couldn't imagine loving my wife as much as I do with all of my senses engaged and losing just one sense.

I showed the kids this picture of her "modeling" her engagement ring and told my oldest daughter that it was "the girl I dated before I met your mother". While I laughed for several minutes, how true it is! Recently I wrote a short paper on roles within relationships. We, as individuals, enter into dating relationships that still allow us to operate as separate entities while seeking out a mate and conforming to new expectations. For example, as a single-man I could do whatever I wanted but when I met my wife I had to realize that she may or may not care for me farting in public. Even if I thought it was funny, even if I didn't care what others thought, I cared about what she thought. Therefore, I conformed to her expectations. When we began discussing moving from dating to mating we discussed our roles further. Not like animal kingdom mating... yet! HA! Anyway, my role as an individual involved responsibility to community and government. I had to keep a job, make positive contributions to my community, and inspire others to excel.
As a boyfriend my roles changed by being more sensitive to others; in this case, my girlfriend. Everyone else could still eat a stick! Further role recognition definition and recognition came after marriage. Becoming a husband means loving less of yourself and sacrificing even more for others. Finally, parenthood. Believe me, you don't want to get into this with me. Just imagine stripping yourself of everything you have built up and created around yourself, FOR yourself, and rebuilding yourself according to the needs and desires of your children.... Boom! Fatherhood! No, I am not the man my wife met over a decade ago, and she is hardly a resemblance of herself since becoming a mother. God has changed us, even transformed us. We have "left our old-selves behind and become new creatures in Christ". And she is waaay hotter now so that always helps.

On a side note, I don't have hair anymore and she's not so innocent looking. Other than that, what a blessing! I only hope that we are being good models to our children.

 I also wanted to share a picture with you from my past. I'm a KC135 crew chief which means I fix planes. If you don't believe in grooming your children's future then convince me how this picture doesn't prove my argument... I always use a hammer on the horizontal stab, especially on a KC135...
Check out this woman's cochlear implants! The joke is that some of you will click this thinking that I just said something perverted...

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