Dear Jack: New Infographic- Success is Not Just Hard Work — Your Social Opportunities Could Shape Your Future

3 years, 8 months.

Nashville family

Dear Jack,

There is (and should be) a certain amount of undeniable pressure as your parent to ensure you have great opportunities throughout your life; if not better than what I’ve had.

While it may sound petty or pretentious that I’ve been mentioning our goal to move into “a house in the right school district” here in Nashville, it’s something I feel I need to take seriously. I want you to have exposure to the best education and technology as I reasonably can.

I was one of the first in my family to get a college degree; that was a pretty big deal. But these days, it seems the 4 year college degree is now the high school diploma of 1981, the year I was born.

In other words, I realize for you to really get ahead in your career, Mommy and I are responsible for making sure we help you take advantage of the social opportunities you encounter along the way; as well as the ones you purposely seek out along the way.

This new infographic below, “Success is Not Just Hard Work — Your Social Opportunities Could Shape your Future,” points out some of the social opportunities that can really enhance your future and career:

Environment, technology, finances, culture, and lifestyle.

Now that I really think about it, these 5 particular elements are crucial to furthering your career.

For example, you can have a college degree with an MBA, but if you’re not extremely familiar with the culture you live in, or if you don’t live off a strict budget, you can still totally be set back.

So I take it upon myself, as your dad, to help you obtain a healthy balance of these social opportunities.

After all, the school system (as well as most universities) don’t value the importance of teaching their students how to do a personal budget.

But coming from your Mommy and Daddy, who just a few years ago were $58,000 in debt, and who are now in the positive enough to be “snowballing” the down payment for our new house, I promise we will teach you the value of a budget.

I agree with the title of the infographic: Success is not just hard work.

We’ll teach you everything we know, Son.

Social Opportunities

Dear Jack: New Infographic- Rent Vs. Own: Which Option Is Best For You?

3 years, 8 months.

Dear Jack,

I’ve been mentioning to you about our family’s plans to move out of our townhouse and into “a real house with a yard and one that’s in the right school discrict.” (That’s important here in Nashville.)

After having owned our townhouse for 6 years now, we are finally at the point at which we could sell it and actually make a profit.

For now it’s sort of a waiting game, as we continue to build our savings after having gone debt-free a year ago. Meanwhile, the prices in the neighborhoods we are considering moving to are now affordable… but how long?

The paradox: The longer we wait to move from our townhouse (as we continue to put more in savings for the down payment on our next house and watch the value of our townhouse continue to rise), the more likely the prices will also rise on the house we want to move into.

When should we move? We’ve got our sights on early next year.

This brand-new infographic below does a great job explaining which option is better, renting or owning. While it doesn’t relate to us in that we already own our townhouse instead of renting it, it does relate in helping me personally see that by owning it 7 years makes it more of an investment than selling it sooner.

Ten years would be ideal, but again, we have to keep watch on prices of the neighborhoods we’re interested in.

It’s hard to imagine what it will be like actually moving into the house that our family plans to live in for the rest of your childhood.

We’ve been working towards this goal for a while now.

I remember back in the days when it seemed the value of our townhome would stay in the negative forever.

But we’ve worked hard to pay off our debts, save our money, and keep a close eye on what’s going on out there.

Maybe by early next year…




Infographic courtesy of SpareFoot.

Courtesy of: SpareFoot


Dear Jack: Review Of Suitable Fireworks For Small Children To Watch

3 years, 7 months.

Review Of Suitable Fireworks For Small Children

Dear Jack,

This past July 4th, you were finally old enough to truly appreciate the observation of fireworks. I was just as happy as you were to go to the Tennessee/Alabama state line to pick up our stash of fireworks that I felt would be appropriate for you to witness; not to actual ignite yourself. (Obviously.)

Well, except for the super snaps…


With great pride, I chose the finest array of made in China fireworks I could find for our family:

Snakes, color smoke balls (smoke bombs), moon travellers (bottle rockets), attack vehicles (tanks), cocks crowing (chickens), party poppers, super snaps (snap & pops), turbo flashes, and “new small bees.”

I wanted to make sure you would be able to see some tamer, more cartoonish versions of what might be exciting at a big fireworks show.


To my surprise, your absolute favorite were what I called the smoke bombs, but labelled as “color smoke balls,” which sounds less violent, I suppose.

I think next year, I’ll just buy like 6 packs of those and a box of super snaps, and you will be just fine. Those were the things that excited you the most.

Review Of Suitable Fireworks For Small Children

If the smoke balls won 1st place, and the super snaps won 2nd, then I’d say that coming in at 3rd place would be the snakes. You weren’t too impressed when I lit them up alone. The real show was lighting a pack at a time, which is 6.

Review Of Suitable Fireworks For Small Children

From there, the lesser fireworks to you seemed to be the louder ones. You did like the sparks flying out of the turbo flash; it was like a mini, festive explosion… but you only appreciated it from across the lawn.

Review Of Suitable Fireworks For Small Children

While I personally have always loved the hilarious chickens and tanks, they were a bit to unnerving for you; as they suddenly screeched into a fiery demise.

Review Of Suitable Fireworks For Small Children

As for the “new small bees,” they hardly cost anything, but basically just vanished into the air and were gone.


After your Uncle Andrew and I shot off all the good stuff, we helped out Nonna and Papa by blowing up some ant hills, in classic Alabama style.

fireworks review

I know you had as much fun as I did seeing your first backyard fireworks show. But like I said, if all I would have bought were smoke bombs and super snaps, you would have been just as happy.




Dear Jack: The Transition From The Dadabase To Family Friendly Daddy Blog

3 years, 7 months.

Family Friendly Daddy Blog

Dear Jack,

Well, it’s been a week since I finally revealed to you that for the past 3 years, I had been the officially daddy blogger of

I wanted to make sure that in the midst of enlarging my blogging territory by sharing new parenting infographics, reviewing cars, and writing about life as a plant-based family here on Family Friendly Daddy Blog, that I don’t neglect continuing my letters to you.

(To differentiate my letters to you from my other posts, I will be including “Dear Jack” in the title of them.)

Because to me, that’s the heart of what I do as a daddy blogger. In other words, you personally are the heart of what I do as a writer.

Right now I’m halfway through transferring my thousand Dadabase posts over toFamily Friendly Daddy Blog.

Sure, I could Google some easy way to transfer it all over at once, but somehow that’s not tempting to me.

Evidently, it’s therapeutic for me to be forced to read through every single one of my thousand or so daddy blog posts for the past 3 years, remembering the stories our family has lived through; making us who we are today.


Go back to the year 2012 and see how horribly cheesy (!) I was back then. I really must have thought I was some cool 80s game show host or something.

The clothes, the hair, the corny catch-phrases.

But I understand, that’s how life is: I had to live through these experiences to become who I am today.

Looking back, it’s like I had to play this character I didn’t necessarily feel comfortable playing, but I only thought I felt comfortable at the time.

However, now, I truly am comfortable in my life’s roles.

It took 3 years of writing for to graduate to this version of myself. I’m grateful put up with a cornball like me for 3 years!

As for where we are now, I feel good.

I feel this change to Family Friendly Daddy Blog was important for us. The timing is right.

I’m just as curious as you are to see where this takes us, but I know this- wherever we go, we’re going to have a great time together.



Thanks And Goodbye From The Dadabase: The Series Finale

June 27, 2014 at 12:06 am , by


3 years, 7 months.

Dear Jack,

There is something I have never explained to you this whole time. But today, I officially “break the 4th wall”…

Part of this will be a surprise to you and part of it will be a surprise to the audience.

I’ll start with the part that is a surprise to you: There is an audience.

In fact, just a few hours before publishing this post, I posted this picture telling them about this final letter to you.

Here are some of their responses:

Jack, for the past three years, since May 2011, I have been an independently contracted writer for the website for Parents magazine.

The Dadabase has served as the official “daddy blog” for this whole time. In other words, your life (and mine) up to this point has been in front of a “live audience”.

And now, the surprise for the audience reading this final Dadabase letter today…

This is the last Dadabase post there will ever be.

I am going back to my original website which I have operated since 2009, now rebooted as “Family Friendly Daddy Blog.” All month, I have been transitioning in preparation for the switch.

While I still will be writing weekly letters to you, there will also be a much stronger emphasis on reviewing things from a “family friendly” perspective.

The direction of The Dadabase has, by default, been heading in that direction for a while now.

I’ve now lost count of how many vehicles I have reviewed now, from a “family friendly” perpsective.

And there’s no denying that our plant-based lifestyle is something I enjoy sharing with people. So I will bereviewing vegan friendly food products and recipes as well.

But it’s not just about cars and food.

I also will be reviewing movies and toys and even travel destinations, all from… you guessed it… a “family friendly” perspective.

As a way to celebrate this past 3 years, I have collected these videos of you, which I think do a good job of showing your life, as documented, here on The Dadabase.

I am so grateful and thankful for the staff of choosing me to begin with to be their official daddy blogger; not to mention, for keeping me around through all the learning curves I’ve been taught by immersion.

Now with 1,018 posts published since 2011 on their site, the folks at have given me major credibility to my “aspirations to be a writer” from when I started regularly blogging back in 2005.

While today definitely serves as an ending, the series finale, it also serves as the doorway to where our family goes from here.

This is simply the last Dadabase post, not the last post from Nick Shell to his son. I’ve got plenty more to say as a writer and as a parent!

Our family will continue living our lives, documented in blog form as I’ve been doing since the day Mommy and I went public with her being pregnant with you: at Family Friendly Daddy Blog.

For those following me on The Dadabase’s Facebook page, I plan to transition the name over within the next couple of weeks once readers are used to the name change.

So now that we’ve had a chance to look back and celebrate how far we’ve come in these past three years since May 2011, let’s look to where we are going at this point…

Which again, in case you missed it, our family’s story continues at Family Friendly Daddy BlogStarting…right now!





P.S. Thanks for reading! Our story is far from over…