Ask Away Friday with NJ of A Cookie Before Dinner

photo credit: megpi via photopin cc
photo credit: megpi via photopin cc

A cool thing that happens when I collect for 6 Words posts is that I get to hear from a lot of bloggers. Some are old favorites. Others are destined to become new favorites. Some come with some pretty cool ideas.

NJ from A Cookie Before Dinner invited me to take part in a question swap I’d read on other blogs, called #AskAwayFriday.

Friday is normally sacred ground for the kids’ questions. But I decided to give this one a shot. I’m usually the one who fires the questions at people, in line at Wal-mart, in emails to bloggers or even to embattled NFL head coaches.

Here are the questions NJ sent to me for the swap. Make sure you check out her answers to my questions, too.

1. You are known as that dude from SITS. How did you get involved? Does it feel funny to be so well loved by so many lady bloggers?

Ponytail black hair

I had no idea I was known as that dude from SITS. In fact, I’m not an official member, but I support the cause. As a father of three girls and coach of girls’ soccer teams, and beneficiary of a Girls on the Run kid, of course.

It feels funny to read that someone just asked me what it’s like to be so well loved by so many lady bloggers, and this is the best way I can describe it.

When I cover NFL games as a freelance writer, I’m completely professional. But, the 12-year-old in me is still thinking, “!” When I see so many comments from the mom bloggers I admire, I feel the same way. I’m often in awe they’re here.

2. What is the weirdest question Grace has asked? How did you respond?

I’ve gotten everything from this kid – from the sacred (“was Jesus married?”) to the profane (“what if you never return a RedBox movie?”). She also once asked if I would die for her. And we’ve had plenty of piranha and shark questions.

The strangest, yet unanswered question might be “if I stuck this yardstick in the ceiling fan, which would break, the yard stick, or the ceiling fan?”

I’m not sure I can answer that one without sticking a yardstick into a ceiling fan. Here goes nothing.

3. Tell the story of how Rojonito the elf got his name.

By mistake. The fictional Latino Elf on the Shelf was a mistake.

I thought Rajon meant “tattletale.” Rajonito, then, would be “little tattletale.” Actually, the word is “chismoso,” so little tattletale would be “Chismosito.” Which is way cooler. This is what happens when a preschooler with his ears plugged learns Spanish more efficiently than I do.

Rajonito – a little mistake by someone who knows very little Spanish.

4. I know you’ve said you spent some time riding the pine. What sport were you the worst at? Bonus points available for a throwback photo.

I’d say baseball. This is because I hardly ever played in games when I was on the football team. When you ride the pine, you kind of have a perfect record. In baseball, I had a season in which:

  • I was hit by a pitch (twice) more than I had actual base hits (one)
  • I made two errors in one inning, leading to a seldom-used rule that forced a team to forfeit a game if the opposing team’s half of the inning lasted more than 30 minutes
  • I was the last out in three different losses in one season (all swinging strikeouts)

And I managed to dig this puppy up. My mom took it in lieu of actual action shots.


5. I am a newbie “soccer mom.” What advice do you have for me?

Preserve the game. Parents put so much on their soccer-playing kids. They get dogged from the parents’ sideline. They get drilled in the car after matches. They’re constantly barraged and not allowed to fail and learn from the game.

The first thing a kid needs to develop is a love for the game. They have to want to be out there not to please you, not to make their coach proud, but because they love to play. When this is in place, good instruction can follow. But not until.

Enjoy the show. Your child will amaze you in good ways and bad on the soccer pitch. Take them to the local high school or college game. Watch some on TV together – if they’re interested. Kick around in the backyard. Just enjoy the ride.

6. How would you respond if one of the girls wanted to quit a sport midseason?

I’d do my best to get to the heart of the matter.

I don’t want my girls to be miserable. Is it social? Physical? What’s really the cause? If I can help find a solution, we’ll give it all we can. If it can’t be resolved … I’ll still encourage her to play out the season. That’s the commitment we make when we sign up for a team. Even when we don’t want to, we must be accountable.

Adversity is part of the game. You’ll be matched up sometimes, in soccer and life, with miserable conditions. Miserable leadership. Or just miserable uniforms. I’ll be sure she understands that more than when things are going great, her legacy will be built on those times she had to fight through hard times to make it.

7. What is so awesome about Cheerwine?

photo credit: Nina Matthews Photography via photopin cc

It’s not the taste.

For the uninitiated, Cheerwine’s taste isn’t far from the intersection of cough medicine and ginger ale.

Cheerwine’s allure is in its proximity.

It’s the taste born in the Carolinas, they say. You can’t get it anywhere. So, where there’s a can of Cheerwine, there’s usually a barbecue close by. Or a warm autumn day. Or a drive through the mountains in the heat of summer, where humidity’s low.

There’s probably a Carolina Panthers game on, a lowcountry boil, or a day on the lake. There could be a great seat at a minor-league baseball game. Or a ticket to see a local college football game. Conch shells on the coast and disc golf in the Piedmont and old-time stores in a quaint downtown in the mountains.

It’s also where Maya Angelou and Emily Proctor and Shoeless Joe Jackson and Ainsley Earhart and the Greensboro Four are from. So it’s home.

8. What is your stance on sweet vs savory food? Are you more likely to head for a big pile of bacon or a mound of chocolate?

I could start a new blog on the subject of food. But it would just make me hungry.

i’m in the savory camp. Bacon. Cheese. Grilled meats, including fish. Mexican dishes. Pasta dishes, winged without a recipe. Potato salad, with whatever you have around. Baked, grilled, roasted, over fried. But fried can be a treat.

Type 2 diabetes has a say, but all things equal, I’d gravitate toward the bacon against the mound of chocolate. The beautiful middle? Bacon, with a side of chocolate-chip pancakes.

9. Quick! Your house going to catch on fire in 10 minutes. Your family, pets, and photographs are safe. What else are you grabbing before the place burns to the ground?

After that last answer, I’d reach back for a snack. Honestly.

The other stuff can be replaced. If I must stand in the street and watch my house burn to the ground, wrapped in a police blanket, I want a box of animal crackers or chunk of cheese.

Especially if TV news shows up to ask me how I feel about my house burning to the ground. I don’t think reporters bring snacks on location.

But maybe they should.

10. How do you feel about Bobby Knight as a coach?  My uncles think he’s the best thing since sliced bread, but honestly I think the dude is a little cray cray.


I think Bobby Knight is coaching brilliance wrapped in sandpaper.

I would not want my kids to play for Bobby Knight. As a father to athletes, he’s deplorable. To a sportswriter, he’s a challenging interview and a quotable quote.

But i think coaches should also be role models. If one of my players choked a teammate or slung a chair onto the court, she’d find herself at the bottom of the team immediately. She’s put her anger issues ahead of the team.

We’re teachers, above all else. And if you can scheme the ultimate game plan, if you can motivate championship performance with fear, if you can see the game from a perspective few can, it means nothing if you can’t control yourself.

Give me the teacher and the motivator, like Brad Stevens or John Wooden. Because if Grace decides to ask me about them someday, I’m pretty sure it won’t be about assault or temper tantrums.

I’d bet a plate of bacon on that.


  1. Love your description of Cheerwine…very accurate, that. 😀

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Right? But if you know you can have some Bojangles with that carbonated cough syrup … you’ll line up for it.

  2. NotAPunkRocker says:

    Bacon betting? That is serious stakes there.

    I like this interview, thank you for sharing this with us!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I don’t just toss around my bacon willy-nilly. I’d rather give you the shirt off my back than a pound of fatback.

      Thanks for checking out the ask-away action!

  3. This is hands down one of the best Ask Away posts I’ve read. Bravo to NJ & Eli. And the football photo? Pure awesome.

    Cheerwine is practically champagne compared to its cousin, Dr. Enuf. Bleh. Give this Atlanta-raised gal a fountain Coke, please.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks, NG. NJ asked some good questions, didn’t she? There’s another football pic I’ll save for a rainy day. I had the cleanest uniform on the team.

      Dr. Enuf? I’m opposed to drinks, snacks and sports teams that include intentional misspellings.

      We visited Coke World once in Atlanta. I wanted to sneak in the bathroom at closing time and spend the night in there.

      1. Isn’t the tasting section at the end with all of the different Coke products from around the world cool? We went to World of Coke on a school field trip, and that was the best part of the tour. Regular fountain Coke is still my favorite. Nothing bets the bubbly goodness after a long run on a hot day. It’s only 17 degrees here today, but a fountain Coke still sounds pretty darn good. So does a tall stack of chocolate chip pancakes with a side of bacon!

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        I did love that part – do they play symphony music, or was that just in my head? I wish my school went on field trips to cool places like that.

        Coke is appropriate at 97 degrees and 7 below. It’s in the bible.

        You got it backwards, Hokie girl: It’s a stack of bacon, with a side of chocolate-chip pancakes.

  4. So, you need to know you are not only loved by us mommy bloggers, but idolized and adored, too! But seriously, you are awesome and just thank you for being you! 🙂

    1. Here, here, Janine! I second this comment!

    2. Eli Pacheco says:

      No words. Just hands together, and a humble head bow.

      Good thing Latinos don’t blush.

  5. ksbeth says:

    i’m with you in the bacon/savory camp. any savory carb and everything bacon call to me like no other. i am constantly fighting them back and sometimes surrender.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      We have the coolest T-shirts, too, and they smell like bacon. I tried a bacon cupcake once, but it wasn’t as good as you might think – the chocolate masked the bacon, and it became annoying, like someone talking over a Jennifer Lawrence interview.

      Fighting savory carbs is usually futile, and just makes you hungrier.

      1. ksbeth says:

        yes, savory carbs and children are my kryptonite, i have a great weakness for both.

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        Sometimes, you need savory carbs when you deal with children.

      3. ksbeth says:

        or when you just wake up

      4. Eli Pacheco says:

        or when you wake up, have some carbs, and go back to sleep.

      5. ksbeth says:

        yes, bedside carbs are of the finest sort )

  6. I am rolling with tears in my eyes. Great answers friend! Tell Grace that i think the WINDOW would be the first to break in a ceiling fan vs yard stick match up. I think the force of the ceiling fan would slap the yard stick out of her hand and THROUGH the window. Thanks for playing along!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      You billed me as a ‘funny’ writer in your intro, and then I go all serious on you in my answers! Loved the batch of questions you served up.

      There’s also a fish tank and a TV in the room, and still a Christmas village and nativity scene, so it might not just the window that gives. Maybe we should leave this one to the Mythbusters.

      Thanks for inviting me to do this, NJ.

  7. Rabia Lieber says:

    OK, first I wanted cookies and now I want bacon and cheese cubes. I even have some in the kitchen, but I’m too lazy to get up an get them!! This is one time when being lazy is good for me!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Why not cookies, bacon *and* cheese cubes? It’s part of a complete breakfast. I’m more lazy if it’s carrots in the kitchen than cookies.

  8. This was so fun! I especially loved the curiosity about the yardstick… how inquisitive! I also love your advice for a new soccer mom. My son is still a toddler, but I sometimes wonder how I’ll handle things when he gets into sports (or maybe he’ll be into theatre or singing… who knows! I’m down with it either way!). Not too long ago I was flipping through channels and there was a countdown about people losing their cool. It showed PARENTS tackling a ref at a child’s soccer game! So pitiful!

    I agree with you about Bobby Knight… as a Duke fan I kinda have to like him, though! Hope yall had a happy New Years!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I’m glad NJ asked me to do it. Inquisition knows no rest with this child, which keeps me in business on most Fridays. And I wish they’d tell soccer moms something like that when they register their kids – although I think for many, it’s second nature to give more nurture, less pressure.

      The fact that you’re down with whatever path your kid chooses is a great start. For all the parents losing their cool on the sidelines, there are plenty who do it the right way – they just don’t wind up on YouTube.

      I wonder how I’d feel if my school won because of a jerk coach. Luckily, I’ve never had to dead with that. I’d rather lose with class.

  9. Cheerwine is legendary in our house! When my sons went to wrestling camp at Appalachian State, they had Cheerwine for the first time, and one of their teammates couldn’t get enough of it. Flash forward six years and they bought him a case for his wedding shower as a joke! Funny thing is, their friend was ecstatic!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Cheerwine makes a delicious ice cream float too, by the way. There are plenty of “hooks” here in the Carolinas – Cheerwine, Bojangles, barbecue. It’s how we get people to come back after they leave.

      A case of Cheerwine, like a pound of ‘cue, is never a joke!

  10. tamaralikecamera says:

    I do want Star Wars cookies. Even more, I want “Bacon, with a side of chocolate-chip pancakes.” I have to tell you that on New Year’s Day, we had a bacon tasting with three different nitrates-free bacon. (or is it nitrites?) They were all cooked evenly in the oven. One was local, organic, coddled from birth and sung to by angels bacon. The other two were two different kinds of Trader Joe’s bacon. The clear winner was the Black Forest from TJ’s. Have you tried it?

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Yoda, or storm trooper? (Both is option C). The “bacon with a side of chocolate-chip pancakes” pretty much follows the Michelle Obama plate guideline. Or something.

      Bacon testing is a thing? Because i’ve lived 42 years – 42 empty, hungry years, apparently – without one. I’ve not tried Black Forest from TJs, but I feel like it should go on my 2014 to-do list.

      1. Tamara. I’m pretty sure you have Star Wars cookie cutters. And I’m pretty sure I gave them to you…

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        C’mon, Tamara.

  11. You guys nailed it. What a fun Ask Away Friday post!! Bacon is awesome. I love chocolate, but I’d pick bacon hands down too. I adore bacon. Nitrate free of course. Somehow I feel like it’s a little healthier that way. Just let me think it. In all seriousness, I love how you answered the Bobby Knight question. He’s obviously a sports legend, but I wouldn’t want him coaching my kids either.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      It helps to have stellar questions. Bacon, I’m sure, is part of paradise. They probably give out chocolate in the lobby, but in the main hall, it smells like bacon.

      Adore bacon – that’s kind of a way of life, isn’t it? I know nothing about nitrates. I’ll take them or leave them. Although, I should leave them, right?

      There are a few guys who have the brilliance on the sidelines without the sandpaper. those are the ones I want to coach my kids.

  12. Rea says:

    I’m new here and it’s seriously refreshing to read from a dad blogger. Grabbing snacks when your house is close to being devoured by fire sounds like a cool idea to me! Hmm. Enjoyed reading your answers!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Welcome to the jungle – there’s a handful of us out there, we dads, who get enough wi-fi in the cave to blog. As for the snacks – I hate my baseball cards, T-shirt collection and “Secret Restaurant Recipes” cookbook going up in smoke, but if I’m powerless to stop it, I might as well be well-snacked, right?

      I’m new to your place, too, and look forward to reading more, Rea.

  13. Teri says:

    Give me a plate of chocolate covered bacon and I’m high. And it’s still snowing on this page. Someone get me Jim Cantore on the line.

    Great pic by the way. You were a cute one, you know. Grown into a handsome Coach Daddy.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I’m a purist – I want my bacon in its natural habitat, which isn’t chocolate. By itself or baked somehow into something cheesy. That’s in the bible too, I’m convinced.

      I was hoping Valerie Smock from Accuweather would stop by and check out my snow. Now I’m wondering if I just got stuck in a snow globe. Just my luck.

      I don’t know that I was a cute one – the girls back then seemed to gravitate toward the boys who actually played in games (even if they wore mullets and smelled like spam).

      1. Mommyhooddom says:

        “…bacon in its natural habitat…” Hilarious!

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        It’s a science, really. And a reverence.

  14. JackieP says:

    I think I’m in the minority here about bacon. I can leave it. But sausage now, I have to really tell myself I don’t need any more sausage. Cheese, ah cheese. I love me some cheese. I enjoyed your answers to all the questions. Also, looked around at other stuff on your blog. I think even though I don’t have kids, you are going to be one of my favorites. I’m going to go hit the ‘follow’ button now. See you around!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Cheesy sausage. Enough said.

      thanks Jackie. Great to have you here, and I look forward to reading more of your stuff, too.

  15. Kim says:

    I’m so happy you participated in Ask Away Friday (and that you paired up with NJ because her blog is new to me and I already love it!!).
    Savory is far superior to sweet in my world unless we are talking wine and then the sweeter the better (especially when it is with a savory dish!).
    I like Bobby Knight but my all time favorite basketball coach – Dean Smith!!!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I’m grateful to NJ for the invite, although the Go Ask Daddy today was to have included an item about a football player who drinks pickle juice on the sideline.

      I’m more for the savory in wine, too, actually … give me something red and rich to go with a steak.

      I go by one of Dean Smith’s rules – if a player looks tired, sub her out and let her rest. I like to keep my lineup fresh, and there’s no shame in the tank running low.

  16. Tricia says:

    You answer questions with more flair than anyone I know 🙂 love these. Though I respectfully disagree about the bacon vs chocolate!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks Tricia – it helped to have stellar questions, for sure. I got a head start.

      More chocolate for you. More bacon for me.

      That’s what I call balance.

  17. Dana says:

    As I type this, the smell of bacon is wafting in from the kitchen. Even better, I didn’t have to make it, just eat it. With chocolate chip pancakes. Perfection – just like this post! Can’t wait to see what you asked NJ….

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      That sounds (smells) like Heaven. Especially the part abotu not making it yourself, although I do like to be in charge of my bacon’s doneness (or lack thereof).

      You’re sweet Dana! I know you’ll love the answers NJ spun to my questions, too.

  18. Nina says:

    I like these types of blog posts—it’s one of the few times we get to know random stuff about one another. My kiddo is starting to ask questions too and I can only hope I can answer them intelligently!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      You’re right – we get to write what we want to write normally, but when someone’s posing the questions …

      How old is your kiddo? The question-asking is one of my favorite things about being a dad … that’s why I do the Go Ask Daddy posts every Friday, to try to catch up!

  19. Great interview! I loved the way you responded to the mid season quitting thing. I just let my daughter quite and she never played soccer again. That was 21 years ago!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks Carla. Even when a season’s gone bad, or my kids have had a hard time with a coach, I’m grateful they’ve wanted to stick it out and make the best of it.

      It’s hard to walk away and come back – Marie did it, but Girls on the Run was a huge factor in transforming her in ways just soccer alone could not at that point in her life.

  20. Rorybore says:

    This was so awesome.
    I need Star Wars cookies, Cheerwine and some bacon Stat! Not that my house is on fire or anything. well….there’s a fire, technically; but it’s in the place it should be . I was going through old photo albums over the holidays and I found sports pictures of me. ribbons. gosh. faded glory. it was almost depressing.
    seriously – Cheerwine. I am intrigued. It cannot be any worse than screech.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks Rory! Star Wars cookies, bacon and Cheerwine sound like a lethal combination, don’t they?

      So when are you posting your own faded sports pictures? It needs to be soon.

      What’s screech?

  21. vitatrain4life says:

    I love that you would bring a snack to watch your house burn!! I would SO do the exact same thing. I actually have an “emergency” snack bag in my car…& it’s not just for the kids!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I just can’t handle tragedy *and* hunger all at once. Emergency snacks sometimes become convenience snacks, and that’s OK too.

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