Dear Jack: My Son’s 1st Science Project

3 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack: My Son's 1st Science Project

Dear Jack,

This week at school as the theme has been “The Future,” you and your friends were given an assignment: to create a future-themed science project.

I don’t ever see myself as the kind of dad who simply will do the work for you, attempting to lead fellow parents and teachers to believe that you actually did the work instead of me.

Dear Jack: My Son's 1st Science Project

Instead, I want it to be your ideas and your handiwork; simply with my input as you ask for it.

However, I will admit, I did build the basic frame of your “tow truck,” but only for you to break it apart then rebuild it with festive lights and what constitutes as “a tow on the back.”

Each day this week when we came home from school, you ran straight over to your Legos and my job was to help you find “all the weird Legos” for your tow truck.

Your project was entitled “Parking Lot Of The Future.”

Dear Jack: My Son's 1st Science Project

Apparently, in the future a robotic snake, an old man in a gown riding a robotic bird, and a low-rider fire truck will park next to a well-lit tow truck.

I just wanted you to have fun. The thought of winning never crossed my mind; though it definitely crossed yours. I’m not sure there was a winner, but I do know you came home with a Ninja Turtles activity pack and a “well done” award.

In fact, this week set a record for you: “Least Number Of Snacks Eaten In The Car.”

Dear Jack: My Son's 1st Science Project

That’s because you were busy in the back seat modifying your tow truck, having me remove trick Lego pieces that you decided you didn’t like after all… in between us sitting at red lights.

So yeah, you were very proud this morning to see your work on display, alongside your friends’ projects.

It was never about winning. It was about the experience and the passion of creating something enjoyable.

Dear Jack: My Son's 1st Science Project

I have really enjoyed being a part of your first science project.

Now that it’s over, though- you are very relieved: You finally got to take your Legos back home now.



New Infographic: Where We Donate Vs. Diseases That Kill Us

I can’t tell you in confidence that it’s socially accectable to be disinterested in participating in the phenomenon of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. But I am willing to admit, when something is that amazingly popular, I’m the guy who asks questions.

To be honest, I highly considered just quietly publishing this without promoting it on Facebook. I figured it might be a fairly dangerous thing for a guy like me to do… to express any doubts about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

Yes, it does appear that most of your friends, as well as relevant celebrities, are all particating. It’s dominating your Facebook feed.

As for me, I’ve simply been a spectator. And until now, I’m given no personal opinion on the subject.

But for years now, I have publically questioned where all the money really goes and what good it’s really doing when it’s donated to breast cancer research.


Turns out, I wasn’t the only one wondering this. They made a documentary called Pink Ribbons, Inc. that does a great job of asking and attempting to answer those same questions.

Could it be that we tend to donate more money to the causes that are killing us the least? Or that we’re donating money to the causes that have less of a global impact, but more of a regional one?

Could it be that perhaps the #1 disease in America is fairly preventable through proper exercise and diet? And if it wasn’t, shouldn’t we be donating the most money to that cause?

Let me direct your attention to an article by Julia Belluz, featuring on Vox: The Truth About The Ice Bucket Challenge: Viral Memes Shouldn’t Dictate Our Charitable Giving.

I highly recommend reading it. The article contains this eye-opening infographic, which I believe, clearly speaks for itself.

Sure, I’m sincerely happy for charities getting money donated to them. I wouldn’t want to get in the way. But I do think it’s important to see this infographic with an open mind. So here it is, for better or worse:

New Infographic: Differences Between Diseases We Donate To, And The Diseases That Kill Us


GT’s Synergy Enlightened Kombucha Grape Chia: Vegan Friendly Review/Why I Gave Up Caffeine

Last September, five months after becoming a vegan, I took it a step further and swore off caffeine as well. I have been caffeine-free for nearly a year now.

Synergy Grape Chia: Vegan Friendly Review/Why I Gave Up Caffeine

I had begun perceiving caffeine as nothing more than the sophisticated (and socially acceptable) version of nicotine. Of course, in retrospect, I see that is indeed the case:

Caffeine had been “waking me up and keeping me awake” simply because I was addicted to it. To me, it was circular reasoning; like with nicotine.

After dedicating a whole day to going cold turkey to give up caffeine and therefore suffering a debilitating headache that took me to the floor for a couple of hours, I have had no further withdrawals.


I admire Starbucks for their ability to capitalize on the world’s most legal and unregulated addictive substance and still make it seem classy. Their coffee contains at  twice the amount of McDonalds’ coffee to give you an extra kick and to get you extra addicted; as you can see in the chart above, orginally posted in the article How Much Caffeine Is Really In Your Morning Coffee?

With that being said, I no longer participate in Starbucks’ expensive scheme.

Because I am no longer addicted to caffeine, nor do I need it to wake up in the morning.

So of course, being a vegan who doesn’t consume caffeine, I am asked from time to time what I drink in the morning when I wake up.

The short answer is Kombucha tea… when I can afford it.

The specific answer is GT’s Synergy Enlightened Kombucha Grape Chia. It’s vegan, non-GMO, and organic.

I want to be clear that GT’s Synergy Enlightened Kombucha Grape Chia is not endorsing this review. They did not send me a case of their drinks in hopes I would positively review their product.

Instead, I bought a case of GT’s Synergy Enlightened Kombucha Grape Chia recently at Whole Foods. Usually, they cost around $3.50 per bottle, but at Whole Foods, when something is on sale, you get it for the sale price plus an addition 10% for buying the case, so I saved about $7, which is basically like getting 2 bottles free.

Synergy Grape Chia: Vegan Friendly Review/Why I Gave Up Caffeine

While at first glance GT’s Synergy Enlightened Kombucha Grape Chia might sound like an expensive habit, compare it to the price of just one latte at any coffee shop.

However, I only drink half a bottle during the course of one day, so as long as I catch GT’s Synergy Enlightened Kombucha Grape Chia on sale and buy it in bulk, I’m only looking at around 1.50 per day for my habit.

I don’t want to make it seem like Kombucha tea,GT’s Synergy Enlightened Kombucha Grape Chia specifically, simply and perfectly replaces the effects on caffeine.

Instead, the way I want to word it is that it makes me feel ultimately balanced.

Whereas caffeine gives you a temporary bolt of awareness and energy that typically ends with a crash later on in the day, Kombucha regulates my mind and body to a good neutral level.

I like to start off each morning with half a bottle, when I can. Meanwhile, my wife likes to drink a little bit of it before she goes to bed.

There are other flavors, but grape is definitely the stand-out for me.

It’s sort of like the healthy version of Grape Kool-Aid, coffee, and even beer, combined.

Let me know what you think of GT’s Synergy Enlightened Kombucha Grape Chia after you try it… and thanks for reading!

Vegan Friendly Review Of Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe

Earlier this summer our family took an awesome road trip/family vacation while reviewing the 2014 Toyota Highlander, which we drove round trip from Sacramento to Lake Tahoe.

FIreside Pizza Company Squaw Valley

While there in Squaw Valley, I kept a close watch on the “vegan friendliness factor” of the area; as I recently wrote a vegan friendly review of the city of Atlanta.

Vegan Friendly Review Of Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe

This review is for the growing minority of Americans who are living the plant-based life, or who are at least curious or open-minded about it, and may be travelling through Lake Tahoe; specifically, Squaw Valley, home of the 1960 Olympics.

Vegan Friendly Review Of Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe

It was this trip that our family officially realized the greatness of cheese-less veggie pizza.

Right where we stayed, at The Village at Squaw Valley is Fireside Pizza Company, my favorite restaurant of the entire Lake Tahoe area.

Fireside Pizza Company

We dined there at least 3 times during our stay. We were able to get vegan pizza; yes, the crust and sauce are vegan.

The food was delicious and fresh; and honestly, the prices were not bad at all.

Stony Ridge Vegan Friendly Review Of Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe

Venturing out of Squaw Valley just a few miles towards Lake Tahoe is Stony Ridge Uncommon Kitchen, a healthy cafe style restaurant at the back of a holistic grocery store called New Moon Natural Foods; where we were able to stock up on goods.

Stony Ridge Uncommon Kitchen

Vegan Friendly Review Of Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe

We also happened upon a Tahoe Mountain Brewing Company, which serves vegan burgers; given that you don’t order the type of bun brushed in butter. I was happy!

Tahoe Mountain Brewing Company

Close to Stony Ridge Uncommon Kitchen is a grocery story called Save Mart Supermarkets, that in the likeness of Kroger, has a vegan-friendly section.

Save Mart Supermarkets

They even had my favorite Kombucha… on sale!

vegan Kombucha Lake Tahoe

Between all those options, we had everything we needed.

I will say that we also dined at a Mexican place called El Toro Bravo, but they didn’t understand what “vegan” means.

El Toro Truckee

Their “vegan burrito” (that I invented and ordered off menu) included cheese on the 1st go-around. They got it right the 2nd time, though.

Also, I verified that their chips are fried in vegetable oil, not lard.

So yes, you can make the trip to Squaw Valley in Lake Tahoe a plant-based one. Hopefully you have found my vegan friendly review to be helpful… or at leastly oddly entertaining!

6 Things to Do in Atlanta for the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game (Includes Secret Giveway For World Of Coca-Cola Tickets)

I assume that because I am from Alabama, a decent amount my readers are from there was well, and maybe more specifically, are also Crimson Tide fans. Therefore, I also assume there may be some readers who will be making the trip to Atlanta to watch the Crimson Tide take on the Mountaineers in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game on August 30.

World of Coca-Cola to readers traveling to Atlanta

So, courtesy of the World of Coca-Cola, I am able to giveaway 4 tickets to World of Coca-Cola to readers traveling to Atlanta for the game. The tickets are good for a visit the attraction, so one lucky reader can take 3 friends or family members along. (Also, they are valid through the end of this year.)

World of Coca-Cola to readers traveling to Atlanta Nick Shell Family Friendly Daddy Blog

Here’s what to do to try to win:

Be the first person to go to the Facebook page for Family Friendly Daddy Blog and ask, “Did I just win the World of Coca-Cola tickets for this weekend?”

If you truly are the 1st, I will personally respond to confirm that you are the sole winner of all 4 tickets. (Then I’ll follow up privately to confirm your mailng address to give to World of Coca-Cola to send the tickets.)

Update: It took 48 minutes… then this happened:

Did I just win the World of Coca Cola tickets for this weekend?
Like ·

World of Coca-Cola to readers traveling to Atlanta Nick Shell Family Friendly Daddy Blog

So it’s official, Charles Van Dyke is the winner! Thanks for reading and for playing, Charles.

Also, there are a lot of big events going on in Atlanta that weekend – specifically for the Kickoff Game, and otherwise – and you might be interested in checking out this list of the family-friendly things going on if you’re in town for the game. Included below is World of Coca-Cola‘s list of the top 6 things to do in Atlanta the weekend of August 30th, 2014.

World of Coca-Cola to readers traveling to Atlanta Nick Shell Family Friendly Daddy Blog

6 Things to Do in Atlanta for the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game, Presented By World Of Coca-Cola

1)      Fan Days at the World of Coca-Cola are August 26 through September 2. Buy your tickets here and receive $3 off general admission to get a glimpse inside the world’s #1 brand and see what the fizz is all about.

2)      As a football fan, how could you not visit the new College Football Hall of Fame? The attraction is going all out for its Grand Opening on August 23. Celebrate the rich history of the game and make memories of your own with historic and contemporary artifacts, interactive multimedia displays, children’s activities and more.

3)      For some free fun, grab your fellow fans and hit up Tailgate Town on the West Plaza. How can you resist food sampling, games, giveaways and a BBQ cook-off?

4)      If you want to take your tailgating up a notch, purchase tickets for the Bama Bash Team Tailgate at the Georgia World Congress Center. Yes, that’s an air-conditioned tailgate featuring pregame entertainment and a delicious buffet.

5)      Refresh yourself with an ice-cold drink and cheer on your favorite team at its Pep Rally when you visit the FanZone presented by Coca-Cola Zero. Don’t miss out on the dozens of interactive games and sponsor attractions.

6)      While walking down the Atlanta streets, it’s likely that you’ll find yourself in the middle of a science-fiction scene. That’s because Dragon Con is returning to Atlanta this Labor Day weekend. For some fantastical fun – and lots of Storm Troopers – check out the annual parade.

World of Coca-Cola to readers traveling to Atlanta Nick Shell Family Friendly Daddy Blog

World of Coca-Cola to readers traveling to Atlanta Nick Shell Family Friendly Daddy Blog

World of Coca-Cola to readers traveling to Atlanta Nick Shell Family Friendly Daddy Blog

Dear Jack: GlowGolf (Real Glow-In-The-Dark Miniature Golf) A Family Friendly Review

3 years, 9 months.

GlowGolf: Real Glow-In-The-Dark Miniature Golf- A Family Friendly Review

Dear Jack,

Back a couple of months ago for Father’s Day, you (and Mommy) got me a Groupon for GlowGolf. We just now got around to cashing it in this weekend, here at the end of the summer.

GlowGolf: Real Glow-In-The-Dark Miniature Golf- A Family Friendly Review

Yesterday at school, you mentioned to your teacher Ms. Michelle that we were going golfing over the weekend… for my birthday. Birthday, Father’s Day… same difference.

GlowGolf: Real Glow-In-The-Dark Miniature Golf- A Family Friendly Review

She helped you make a birthday card for me. I loved it! I’ll be hanging it up on my wall in my office: “That’s you and me driving a train,” you explained.

Then this morning, you were so excited in anticipation, you celebrated by making a “Christmas tree” out of your basketball hoop and random plastic animals.

basketball Christmas tree funny

I suppose when you’re 3, it’s easy to confuse Christmas, Father’s Day, and my birthday.

While GlowGolf locations can be found all across America, the one closest to us was just down the road in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

GlowGolf (Real Glow-In-The-Dark Miniature Golf) A Family Friendly Review

I knew it would be fun, simply because it would involve our family and something we’ve never done before.

And sure enough, we totally had a blast!

You’re just 3 months away from turning 4, but you are definitely old enough to appreciate and enjoy it.

GlowGolf (Real Glow-In-The-Dark Miniature Golf) A Family Friendly Review

Granted, you aren’t old enough to play by the rules. In other words, we didn’t bother to actually take score.

In fact, you helped Mommy and me by scooting the ball in the hole anytime we got close to the hall.

How thoughtful!

GlowGolf (Real Glow-In-The-Dark Miniature Golf) A Family Friendly Review

At this particular GlowGolf, there are 18 different holes and you can play them up to 3 times. I was impressed by the glow-in-the-dark artwork surrounding us.

Also, note to self: Next time we go, make sure to stand right under the black light each time you take a picture. Even though the light is “black,” it makes for clearer pictures!

Yes, we will definitely be going back. Not simply because it was the perfect way to spend a rainy Saturday afternoon, and because it’s really cheap ($8 for adults, kids age 5 and less only $3), but because Mommy won a free ticket for next time!

GlowGolf (Real Glow-In-The-Dark Miniature Golf) A Family Friendly Review

The final hole is a Plinko-like toss-up where it’s fairly easy, yet random, to get a hole-in-one. But if you do, as Mommy did, you win a free game!

I just happened to catch a shot of her making the winning putt!

Thanks for my Father’s Day/birthday/Christmas gift. I had a really fun time with you and Mommy. That’s the best kind of gift you can give me anyway.



The All New 2015 Cadillac Escalade: Family Friendly Review

Last week for my wife’s birthday, I sent in a special request to review “something special” as one of my gifts to her.

The All New 2015 Cadillac Escalade: Family Friendly Review

I was sent the all new 2015 Cadillac Escalade!

So in addition to the flowers (hydrangeas, my wife’s favorite kind), licorice, perfume, a subscription to Do It Yourself magazine, and a private family birthday featuring vegan cake and cupcakes purchased from Whole Foods so my wife didn’t have to make them herself like she normally does…

The All New 2015 Cadillac Escalade: Family Friendly Review

As well as a special homemade “birthday card” from our son, which was a rainbow colored page from a Batman coloring book in which he appropriately entitled “Beautiful Batman”…

vegan cupcakes

We had the privilege of driving the ever-impressive Cadillac Escalade around Nashville for the week.

After driving it to work, she texted me, “I really like my birthday ride! I feel like I am in Beverly Hills!”

Needless to say, the Escalade was a hit. Not to mention, my son and I loved it too!

I was really surprised with the visibility in it. I had no issues whatsover seeing out of it. It actually had some of the best visibility for medium to full-size SUVs I have driven.

2015 Cadillac Escalade

As if I needed to say it, driving the 2015 Escalade means you get to be king of the road. You feel the power: A V-8 with 420 horsepower, to be exact.

The All New 2015 Cadillac Escalade: Family Friendly Review

And as you can see from the Arlington Assembly “built with pride” sticker, the 2015 Escalade is made right here in ‘Murica!

2015 Cadillac Escalade

Excuse me… I mean, America.

Granted, this thing is huge. It commands all other cars on the road. Therefore, there is a feature which causes the driver’s seat to vibrate any time you cross over the painted lines of the road; because as wide as the Escalade is, it’s not difficult to do so.

2015 Cadillac Escalade

Another really cool feature about the 2015 is how easily the seats fold down. You just press the button!

2015 Cadillac Escalade

Also, check out this other cool feature that I accidentally discovered: The face of the audio system has a hidden storage compartment. Who would have thought?

2015 Cadillac Escalade

Nice wheels, right?

The price of the model I drove was $79,290.00. So if that works for your budget, and you like being large in charge, with plenty of class and style, I assure you that you will not be let down with the 2015 Cadillac Escalade.

This is the fourth generation Escalade; the first being introduced in 1999; the year I graduated high school.

How To Turn Off/On AC, Change Radio Station, & Sync Phone On New Luxury Vehicles

It just so happens that one of the first Hot Wheels cars my son ever got was a 2007 Escalade; which he proudly displays along the real 2015 version.

Well, I have to turn in the Escalade in the morning. I will say that even though it averages 16 miles a gallon (14 city, 21 highway), I’ve just now cracked the halfway mark on the fuel gauge.

Granted, it holds 26 gallons. Still, if you’re in the market for a Cadillac, I assume the price tag and the MPG aren’t going to hold you back.

2015 Cadillac Escalade

You get what you pay for, and the moment I stepped inside, I felt like I was sitting in an $80,000 vehicle; if not $100,000.

That’s it for this week’s family friendly car review. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. I know I have!

2015 Cadillac Escalade

I wonder which vehicle I’ll review next?