Trick Or Treating 2014: Halloween As Batman

3 years, 11 months.

Trick Or Treating 2014: Halloween As Batman

Dear Jack,

I don’t know who as enjoyed this Halloween more… you or me.

This is the most excited about “trick or treating” I’ve been since I can remember. I have been telling my coworkers all week how excited I have been for this day.

You were Batman, of course; dressed in $8 WalMart pajamas and a $4 Kroger mask.

I want to compliment you on the fact you actually said “trick or treat” before accepting candy from the dozen or so random households we accepted candy from tonight.

Trick Or Treating 2014: Halloween As Batman

Mommy and I threw on random costume hats we had lying around the house so that our whole family could technically be dressed in costume for the night.

Going “trick or treating” really is so much fun… and so random.

I really like your choice of Batman. Your costume was very well respected among the houses we visited; as well as among other trick or treaters.

Trick Or Treating 2014: Halloween As Batman

Today was also special in that I came to visit you at your school during your lunch. I enjoyed hanging out with you and seeing your friends dressed up. I truly appreciated the fact that your (girl) friend Eiley was dressed as a Power Ranger.

Trick Or Treating 2014: Halloween As Batman

You even drew a special “Batman SUV monster truck” today for the occasion; which you insisted I cut out for you, to serve as a form of a toy.

Trick Or Treating 2014: Halloween As Batman

Not to mention, you also have been making Play-Doh pumpkins, which you’ve been moving around with Lego bulldozers.

I was telling Mommy how much I enjoyed tonight and look forward to the Halloweens to come in the next several years. We had such a fun time together as a family.

Most of all, I loved seeing how excited you were to “be Batman.”




P.S. Below is an inforgraph on the history of pumpkins; as I see relevant on Halloween.

pumpkins infographic

Noah: A Wordless Picture Book, by Mark Ludy- Family Friendly Review

I have now teamed up with a company called FlyBy Promotions Blogger Network. That means that as a reader of Family Friendly Daddy Blog, you will notice more reviews of products; books in particular.

Noah: A Wordless Picture Book, by Mark Ludy: Family Friendly Review

Of course, I will be hand-selecting only the products which I feel are particularly relevant for my site.

You will probably notice that many of these reviews include a giveaway of the product, as linked in to the Family Friendly Daddy Blog Facebook page.

So here’s the first one…

Today I am featuring Noah: A Wordless Picture Book; by Mark Ludy.

Noah: A Wordless Picture Book, by Mark Ludy: Family Friendly Review

The first thing I must say is that this is a beautiful book. Seriously, look at these illustrations.

It’s not being marketed this way, but I feel it is what is called a “graphic novel.”

I tested Noah: A Wordless Picture Book out on my son on the way to school. I just simply told him, “Here Jack, Daddy got you a new book.”

After several minutes of silence from the back seat, I heard, “Daddy, does Noah have a dinosaur?”

At the stop sign, I turned around to catch a glimpse of what was clearly a picture of a dinosaur alongside Noah and his family.

Jack also pointed out the fact that Noah is featured on the cover of the book, standing next to a tame tiger and is later soon cuddled up next to a friendly polar bear.

Noah: A Wordless Picture Book, by Mark Ludy: Family Friendly Review

That quickly told me, in a subtle way, that the creator of this book is evidently like Ben Stein, Kirk Cameron, and myself: he’s an advocate of Intelligent Design which includes macroevolution, as opposed to the popular acceptance of the evolution theory.

Instead of believing in evolution where the Earth is billions of years old, allowing time for dinosaurs to die out before humans came along, I believe that the Earth was created by God in 7 literal 24 hour days.

But what about the dinosaurs?

Go back the story of Noah in the Bible. Go to Genesis; the book which contains this story. If indeed we are to believe this story is literal, I think it’s important to believe the whole story, not just the parts that might make for a good, safe, recognizable story.

Noah: A Wordless Picture Book, by Mark Ludy: Family Friendly Review

Follow the scripture with me…

Notice at what point in human history that the Bible mentions people actually eating animals and where animals actually feared humans.

Keep in mind there were 20 generations from Adam to Noah; back in those days the people lived a lot longer than we do now. See Genesis 1; the very first chapter of the Bible:

28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; 30 and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food“; and it was so.…

Based on God’s words there, I take it that God was saying that not only were His people to eat only plants, but also that animals ate only plants as well; during that particular time- the 1st 20 generations of man.

The first mention of rain in the Bible is not until after Noah finishes building the ark; until then, the Bible is clear to mention that plants were watered from springs within the Earth. It is also mentioned that there was a canopy of water above the Earth was well; creating a greenhouse effect; which might have a lot to do with why people lived so long back then. Here’s Genesis 1 again:

6 Then God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7 God made the expanse, and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse; and it was so. 8 God called the expanse heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, a second day.

Again, until Noah built the ark, there is no Biblical mention of rain or people eating animals or animals fearing people.

Then the flood happens…

Obviously, there is the first Biblical mention of rain.

Then, once the flood is over, God speaks, and changes the game 8 chapters later in Genesis 9:

1 And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. 2 The fear of you and the terror of you will be on every beast of the earth and on every bird of the sky; with everything that creeps on the ground, and all the fish of the sea, into your hand they are given. 3 Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant.…

Based on God’s words there, it is very clear to me that God is making it clear that His people had been eating plants, but would now start eating animals; animals that would now suddenly begin fearing man.

Noah: A Wordless Picture Book portrays the story of Noah this way; without using any words.

Noah: A Wordless Picture Book, by Mark Ludy: Family Friendly Review

Notice the cover, where Noah is standing next to a tame tiger; which turns out is my son’s favorite part of the book.

And again, dinosaurs are clearly seen in the book as well.

This is the first Noah book I have ever seen or heard of that explicitly tells the story from an Intelligent Design perspective . And today, you may win a copy for your family.

Just be the first person to post on the Facebook wall for Family Friendly Daddy Blog (not a private message), asking me, “Did I just win Noah: A Wordless Picture Book?”

If you’re the first person to do so, I will respond by saying yes… After that, I will follow up by getting your address to give to the publisher so they can send you your won copy!

Update: A winner was found within a few minutes of this post going live, so the giveaway is finished:

Did i just win Noah: A wordless picture book?

Thanks for reading today! And remember, I’ll be giving more books away; so stay tuned…

Noah: A Wordless Picture Book, by Mark Ludy: Family Friendly Review

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: ‘Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising’):

Many thanks to Propellor Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

A Vegan Man’s Thoughts On McDonald’s “Our Food, Your Questions” Transparency Campaign

I will say, I do have respect for McDonald’s for their vulnerability in their new transparency campaign: Our Food, Your Questions.

Granted, I don’t think they’ve resorted to this measure because they sincerely care about informing the general public…

It appears pretty evident their bottom line has been affected by enough people (like me) who have either stopped eating fast food (due to preventative health reasons) or by people who were freaked out by the movie Supersize Me and/or those pictures on Facebook about pink slime in relation to their McNuggets.

A Vegan's Thoughts On McDonald’s "Our Food, Your Questions" Transparency Campaign

People are becoming more aware and curious about the food they are consuming; why helps add to the relevance of this Our Food, Your Questions campaign.

After watching their recent commercial, featured above, it comes across more like, “Okay, fine… let’s do this.”

I’m really curious to see how this plays out. At best, I think their vulnerability could possibly make them less of a target; which is something they could really help them as a business.

Something I’ve learned is that things can often be downplayed if they are simply addressed. I think that’s their plan.


I don’t think McDonald’s will ever be the empire they once were. I don’t see them continuing to expand the way they did for so long.

Isn’t Ronald McDonald himself pretty much retired by now? It seems like he’s laying low these days.

As comedian Jim Gaffigan points out in his special Mr. Universe, most adults are ashamed to admit eating there. Look it up on YouTube…

This article in Time does a good job of reviewing the main questions and answers.

One of the questions that has been asked is “Why doesn’t McDonald’s offer a veggie burger?”

A Vegan's Thoughts On McDonald’s "Our Food, Your Questions" Transparency Campaign

I think it’s because they know a guy like me who is concerned with GMOs is going to have bigger concerns. At least Burger King started offering veggie burgers a few years back….

The question of GMOs did come up. I respect their answer on that; which was basically that McDonald’s is too big of a company to be able to offer non-GMO food because most of America has been, in my own words here, been marked by the mark of the beast of Monsanto.

Ultimately, I do give credit to McDonald’s for being willing to have these (difficult) conversations with their customers and skeptics. Not many companies are willing to discuss where their food comes from; now that people are really starting to ask.


Dear Jack: You Think We’re Just Fishing… For Tadpoles

3 years, 11 months.

Dear Jack: You Think We’re Just Fishing… For Tadpoles

Dear Jack,

Immediately after leaving Walden Farm on Saturday, Mommy wanted to stop by some “cute” antique shops in downtown Nolensville.

I spotted a creek behind the shops, so you and I did the guy thing and opted for the outdoor exploration adventure as opposed to looking at beautiful junk in stores.

Dear Jack: You Think We’re Just Fishing… For Tadpoles

Our original agenda was simply to find rocks and sticks to throw into the water.

However, after you realized the creek was swarming with what appeared to be tiny tadpoles, you decided to “catch a tadpole” instead.

First, you called them: “Here, tadpoles! Come to me!”

Then you used a stick as a fishing pole, hoping to catch a few of them. I joined you, of course.

It didn’t take long at all before you thought you caught one, and boy, were you proud!

Dear Jack: You Think We’re Just Fishing… For Tadpoles

Granted, it was just algae… as it was each time after that.

But in your mind, there was a real possibility of actually being able to catch tadpoles simply by placing a stick down into the water for just a few seconds at a time; with no bait attached.

I love your fascination with fishing. Never mind the irony in the fact our family doesn’t even eat fish or any kind of meat.

Still, it’s as if it’s ingrained in a little boy’s mind to want to go fishing with his Daddy. Likewise, I want to “go fishing” with you.

You and I could have stayed out there at the creek all day, but Mommy eventually came back from looking around at the shops; happy to see us doing “guy things.”

Our recent fishing trip has inspired me to already consider buying us a small 2-man tent to put out on the back patio of our new house once we move in.

We could be camping out by next spring!



Walden Farm (Pumpkin Patch): Family Friendly Review

Walden Farm (Pumpkin Patch): Family Friendly Review

This past weekend my family visited Walden Farm in Smyrna/Nolensville, Tennessee. (It’s a 30 minute drive from downtown Nashville, TN.)

I have a feeling I could pretty much type anything I wanted to and no one would notice, because obviously, the pictures really tell the story here.

In the process of seeing these 14 picture collages below, you’ll get a good idea of why your family would have a great time if you were to visit Walden Farm.

Walden Farm (Pumpkin Patch): Family Friendly Review

But in the event there’s actually anyone actually reading the words to this story, not just checking out the fun pictures, I’ll do a quick narrative.

Parking is free and so is admission, but you do pay a couple of bucks per activity. We spent a total of $18 on all you see below, including the pumpkins.

I think my son Jack’s favorite activity at Walden Farm is the hayride.

Walden Farm (Pumpkin Patch): Family Friendly Review

Walden Farm (Pumpkin Patch): Family Friendly Review

It’s sort of like a mobile scavenger hunt, as your family tries to find all the semi-hidden spooky objects; like an eyeball, Frankenstein, a spider, etc.

Walden Farm (Pumpkin Patch): Family Friendly Review

Walden Farm (Pumpkin Patch): Family Friendly Review

There is also Toddler Town, a place that I am convinced Jack could hang out at all day and never even think about food.

Walden Farm (Pumpkin Patch): Family Friendly Review

It’s basically like a backyard, equipped with a gravel-filled toy table. Jack enjoyed scooping up the rocks in bulldozers, alongside dinosaurs.

Walden Farm (Pumpkin Patch): Family Friendly Review

There is also a dirt hill that he enjoyed rolling the bulldozers up and down.

Like any good pumpkin patch/farm, there are animals to see and feed.

Walden Farm (Pumpkin Patch): Family Friendly Review

And a tractor pull…

Walden Farm (Pumpkin Patch): Family Friendly Review

And those cut-outs where your family can transform into farm-themed characters.

Walden Farm (Pumpkin Patch): Family Friendly Review

Don’t forget the hay maze!

Walden Farm (Pumpkin Patch): Family Friendly Review

Jack wanted some pumpkins, so we paid just $1 and he was able to choose 2 really strange-looking ones; which he used as “lasers” the whole ride home.

Walden Farm (Pumpkin Patch): Family Friendly Review

As we were loading up back into the car, I pointed out to Jack a hedgeapple tree.

In case you’re unfamiliar, hedge apples (also known as Osage oranges) are basically a prehistoric fruit that no longer serve as food for animals today.

Walden Farm (Pumpkin Patch): Family Friendly Review

Hope you enjoyed learning about Walden Farm. Maybe your family can check it out in person!

Walden Farm (Pumpkin Patch): Family Friendly Review

Vegan Friendly Review Of Ponte Vedra Inn & Club At Pompano Beach, FL

In my year and a half of being a strict vegan, I have learned how to travel, and still live a fun and fulfilling life, yet remain on a plants-only diet.

Vegan Friendly Review Of Ponte Verde Inn & Club At Pompano Beach, FL

For shorter trips, I stock up on fruits and nuts from Whole Foods. But when I’m travelling out of state, it usually requires some research up front.

However, that was not the case with my trip last week to Pombano Beach as an attendee of Toyota’s “Family Reunion” Press Preview. I’ve learned from previous interactions with Toyota that they always make sure I discreetly am taken care of when it comes to meals.

Vegan Friendly Review Of Ponte Verde Inn & Club At Pompano Beach, FL

While my fellow journalists, writers, and bloggers alongside me enjoyed the finest steaks (and I’m genuinely happy for them, by the way!) I meanwhile enjoyed whatever the creative chef of the hotel’s restaurants prepared for me.

(I am pictured below in between new friend Chris Brewer and Malcom Hogan on Automotive Addicts.)

Nick Shell Vegan Friendly Review Of Ponte Verde Inn & Club At Pompano Beach, FL

I hope to be the coolest vegan you know; not pretentious or judgmental. I chose this lifestyle not because of animal’s rights, but because my eczema (dshyodrosis, to be exact), my 22 years of constant sinus pressure and reoccurring sinusitis, my acne, and my allergies to animals all went away permanently, within 48 hours of me adopting a plants only diet; consistently of only vegetables, fruits, grains, beans, seeds, and nuts, what I call “The Big 6.”

Vegan Friendly Review Of Ponte Verde Inn & Club At Pompano Beach, FL

For dinner at the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club, I had a veggie pasta dish and even a vegan sorbet dessert.

Vegan Friendly Review Of Ponte Verde Inn & Club At Pompano Beach, FL

For lunch the next day they prepared a vegan burger patty for me, alongside an array of veggies and fruit.

Of course it was wonderful.

Vegan Friendly Review Of Ponte Verde Inn & Club At Pompano Beach, FL

I know this may sound contradictory, but I’m not a picky eater…

It’s okay to laugh to yourself quietly on that one.

But really, I just love anything that’s vegan. And when someone goes the extra mile, like the crew at Ponte Vedra Inn & Club did for me, it really means a lot.

Vegan Friendly Review Of Ponte Verde Inn & Club At Pompano Beach, FL

I never want to draw extra attention to myself in how I eat, but at the same time, I am passionate to share my story of natural healing with others who are open-minded to learning what might work for them as well.

So, with that being said, if you’re planning on visiting Ponte Vedra Inn & Club, just tell the waiter or waitress your about vegan needs, and they will be able to discreetly take care of you.

Vegan Friendly Review Of Ponte Verde Inn & Club At Pompano Beach, FL

Thanks for reading Family Friendly Daddy Blog today, and please, if you have any curious questions about this plant-based lifestyle, please leave a comment.

Vegan Friendly Review Of Ponte Verde Inn & Club At Pompano Beach, FL

I’ll be quick to respond!

Also, I invite you to read my other Vegan Friendly Reviews:

Squaw Valley (Lake Tahoe), CA

Atlanta, GA

Asheville, NC

Vegan Friendly Review Of Ponte Verde Inn & Club At Pompano Beach, FL

The Toyota “Family Reunion” Press Preview In Pompano Beach, Florida

Last week I had the privilege, as a car reviewing daddy blogger, to be flown from my home in Nashville down to Ponte Vedra Inn & Club in Pompano Beach; about 20 miles from Jacksonville, Florida. I was invited to the Toyota “Family Reunion” where the updated Sienna, Camry, and Yaris were featured and available for several hours of drive time.

There were 48 of us journalists, writers, and bloggers attending the 2 day event along with me.

We were all given around 6 hours during the 2 days to drive all versions of the updated Sienna, Camry, and Yaris; as Toyota provided dozens of the vehicles for us to choose from.

I admit, I took full advantage of every minute of drive time in the beautiful palm tree filled landscape of Pompano Beach.

Nick Shell The Toyota “Family Reunion” Press Preview In Pompano Beach, Florida

Toyota provided multiple drive routes for us to tackle with our driving partners, but I often found myself and driving partner so caught up in conversation about the car, and admiring the sunny location, they we would get off course, then just use the navigation system to help us get back to the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club where we were staying.

From there, we would pair up with new partners and cars.

I guess you could say I was “professionally joyriding.”

As for the 3 vehicles being featured at the Toyota “Family Reunion” Press Preview, I’ll start with the Sienna.

The Toyota “Family Reunion” Press Preview In Pompano Beach, Florida

It was the first Toyota vehicle I ever reviewed, back in September 2013; in fact, it’s what got me started regularly reviewing cars for my daddy blog here.

With the updated 2014.5 model, I noticed a lower dashboard, easier to access controls, and of course their new Driver Easy Speak feature which enables the driver to use the cars speakers to communicate with whoever is in the back seat.

The acoustics are designed in such a way that if you are in the backseat, it’s almost like the driver’s voice is inside your head, like your conscience or something. That’s the best way I can describe it.

Moving on the Camry; I had never been in one my entire life until this trip! That’s ironic, considering that it has been the best selling car in America; 12 years in a row! Since it’s introduction in 1983, more than 10.2 million have been sold. And there are currently 6.6 million on the road today.

Something else I want to point out about the Camry is how American made it truly is. The production of the Camry employs 7,000 U.S. workers and the vehicle contains 75% North American content.

The Toyota “Family Reunion” Press Preview In Pompano Beach, Florida

I view Toyota as more of an American car company than many official “American” based car companies. I realized that back in the summer when I reviewed the Highlander and saw the sticker on the door, showing that it was built in Texas.

My last vehicle to drive was the new redesigned Toyota Yaris; which has adopted more of a European look. As expected, I really enjoyed it; especially because I got to choose between a stick shift or an automatic.

The Toyota “Family Reunion” Press Preview In Pompano Beach, Florida

You better believe I chose the stick shift. It’s a lost art these days to drive a stick and I am just the classic gentleman for the job.

In fact, I’m interested in driving more stick shifts when I review cars from now on, but I get it that there are less of them out there.

I hope to review the Yaris, as well as the Camry, in upcoming months. I really enjoyed driving them both in Pompano Beach, but unlike the Sienna, I haven’t already reviewed them back in Nashville with my family.

The Toyota “Family Reunion” Press Preview In Pompano Beach, Florida

It will be interesting to me to see how those vehicles mesh with my family. I can see my son Jack really liking the 5 door Yaris.

He would say, “Daddy, this car has 5 doors? I didn’t know cars could have 5 doors!”

My job here today has been introduce you to the newly updated Toyota Sienna, Camry, and Yaris. I hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse, as I know I definitely enjoyed getting to be a part of this Toyota “family reunion.”

Nick Shell 20141016_Camry Preview_1485

Stay tuned for more Lexus/Toyota/Scion reviews right here on Family Friendly Daddy Blog! I am reviewing a 2015 Scion FR-S the week of November 11-18 for my son’s 4th birthday.