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 Parents.com.

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.

Seriously…

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 Parents.com to graduate to this version of myself. I’m grateful Parents.com 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.

Love,

Daddy

Thanks And Goodbye From The Dadabase: The Series Finale

June 27, 2014 at 12:06 am , by

dadabase

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 Parents.com 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 Parents.com 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 Parents.com 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!

 

Love,

Daddy

 

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

 

I Found A Trail And At The End Was You

June 26, 2014 at 11:11 pm , by

3 years, 7 months.

Dear Jack,

While on our summer annual vacation in Lake Tahoe this past week, we stayed at a resort called The Village at Squaw Valley; where they held the 1960 Olympics.

I’ve never been an athlete or even into watching organized sports. I mountain bike and run- those are my weekly physical activities.

And whenever I get the chance, I love to hike!

It just so happens that where we stayed was surrounded by huge, hikeable mountains. So for a couple of mornings, your 19 year-old cousin Matt and I decided to scale the face of the mountains; along the way of the ski lifts. Sure, there were service roads and “official” trails, but for us, they simply served as landmarks for us.

As you can see, we helped save a baby snake from most likely being soon run over by a service vehicle. We even hiked high enough to touch the snow at the top of the mountain; as well as to the very “spaceshippy” ski lift operation building.

After you heard about all the excitement, you began asking me, “Daddy, can I go on a hike with you? Can we find a trail?”

Granted, there were no trails appropriate for a 3 and a half year-old little boy, but you and I found some anyway.

One included the entryway to a restaurant called Plumpjack’s, which had a cool waterfall and a bridge. There was also a “spaceship” at the base of the mountain that you and I were able to check out.

We also “hiked” along the stone pathway leading to a small pond where you got to throw rocks until your heart was content.

It was one of the most memorable parts of our vacation, spending that father and son time with you.

Of course, the flattering part of this story for me is that you wanted to “hike a trail” with me because you observed that’s “what the guys are doing.”

I love it that you wanted to follow the model I unintentionally set for you.

Just like the lyrics of the theme song to “Who’s The Boss?” say, “Found a trail and at the end was you.”

That line not only serves as the perfect way to summarize the end of our summer vacation, but also something else…

Make sure you don’t miss my next letter.

 

Love,

Daddy

 

Family Summer Vacation Road Trip: Sacramento To Lake Tahoe, CA

June 26, 2014 at 10:09 pm , by

3 years, 7  months.

Dear Jack,

When it comes to family summer vacations, I have always felt that the photos taken during them truly tell the stories better than I could tell them myself. When I think back on this past week, which memories will serve as the forever bookmarks in the history of our family’s story?

For me, it was the quality time you and I spent together. Granted, our annual family vacations also serve as the annual family reunions for Mommy’s side of the family.

(She is number 9 of 10 kids, scattered across the country, so getting the majority of the family together takes some special planning and management!)

With that being said, spending time with my own son during our family vacations can be a challenge, because that’s the only time of year when you get to see your many cousins, aunts, aunts, uncles, and grandma.

It’s something I’m very understanding of. So I wait for those opportunities to get some one-on-one time with you.

We loaded up the Toyota Highlander for the 118 mile/2 hour drive from Mommy’s hometown to Sacramento, CA to Lake Tahoe (Squaw Valley), which is near the Nevada border.

By the way, it was the perfect vehicle to take on that road trip: plenty of room for our luggage, as well as a rotating array of relatives who hopped in during the midst of the caravan.
You told me that your favorite part of the Highlander was the windows because you see all the mountains we were driving through.
And that was truly one of the highlights of our vacation: the scenery on the road trip itself.
It’s not everyday that you get to look at the window and see huge rocky mountains and clear blue skies… and not much else. That kind of scenery is very crucial to the psychological aspect of taking a vacation!
As for Lake Tahoe itself, I think you had more fun than anyone- the lake’s sandy coast served as the biggest sandbox you’ve ever seen!
You spent hours burying your plastic dinosaur and Hot Wheels in the sand. It was almost miraculous we were able to locate all your toys by the time we left.
In between “sand avalanches” I helped you locate rocks and sticks to throw into the waves. You declared:“Tomato fight! Potatoes!”
And that’s one of those memories that will serve as one of the forever bookmarks in the history of our family’s story. It really doesn’t take much- just knowing I’ve got some time to hang out with you and be goofy together.
To me, that’s bigger than real life.
Love,
Daddy

A Vegan Parent Asks, “At What Point Am I Brainwashing My Child?”

June 22, 2014 at 12:34 am , by

3 years, 7 months.

Dear Jack,

As we pulled up to the red light recently, you proclaimed from the back seat: “Daddy, you’re a veggie-a-saurus.”

I had to ask.

“Jack, what is a veggie-a-saurus?”

Your reply was sincere,  as always:

“I think it’s a dinosaur or something.”

Then a few days later as we were outside playing at your water table. After a few minutes of no real conversation, you sprouted this on me:

“Daddy, people don’t have to eat meat. Someone should tell them. Hey Daddy! Maybe they will drive and see a cow and then the cow will moo at them or something- then they would know.”

When I hear my son say something that clever, I can’t help but be proud.

But I do remind myself: As a plant-based family, we still represent the minority of American families who live this way.

That means as your Daddy, I must be quite sensitive to the mainstream’s view of our family’s alternative lifestyle.

Is it normal to teach a kid that that “soda makes people sick”? Because that’s what you say whenever you see a soda delivery truck.

And you learned it from me.

Is it normal for a 3 and a half year-old to know that the human body does not require the protein or nutrients of animals in order to be healthy, as long as they can get those nutrients from plants (veggies, fruits, grains, beans, nuts, and seeds) instead?

I don’t think so.  But you know that. And you learned it from me.

Of course, I learned it from the documentary Forks Over Knives, and also from the fact that I personally haven’t eaten any meat in 2 and a half years or any animal products (including eggs and dairy) for more than a year now.

Ultimately, am I brainwashing you?

Maybe so.

And I’m okay with that.

Granted, if as you get (much?) older, and you just really wanted to have some meat, I would be… understanding.

However, few American children are like you, having never really eaten meat before.

So it’s difficult for me to imagine why a boy who loves animals so much, and who understands that proper nutrition can came from plants alone, would ever want toeat an animal.

The concept of “eating an animal” to you is probably just as bizarre as someone who eats chicken, beef, pork, and fish to suddenly consider eating monkeys or horses.

Oh well, I have to assume that if I am indeed brainwashing you as a parent, there are plenty of other forms of it out there too.

Asking the question of whether I’m “brainwashing” you is sort of one of those “morality is relative” issues.

Some parents teach their children to fear Democrats… or to fear Republicans.

Some teach their children there is a God, or no God; while others raise their children in an unpopular religion that other mainstream religions say is a cult.

For me personally, to officially cross the line of “brainwashing” would involve negatively categorizing a whole group of people for not believing what we do.

I have taught you that “soda makes people sick,” not that “people who drink soda are wrong.”

I have taught you that “we don’t have to eat animals,” not that “people who do eat animals are wrong.”

What I feel I am doing is teaching you why we live this way, but at the same time not teaching you to stereotype that majority of our nation who doesn’t believe the way we do.

Yes, you will be probably be slightly different among your peers; as you already are at your school, for being a vegetarian.

But here’s a secret, if you are indeed brainwashed by me, you’re not the only one who has been “brainwashed” in some way by a parent. In fact, find me a kid who hasn’t been; because I’ve yet to see it.

 

 

Love,

Daddy

The Gradual Social Acceptance Of My Family’s Plant-Based Lifestyle

June 21, 2014 at 10:11 pm , by

3 years, 7 months.

Dear Jack,

Over three years ago when I started The Dadabase, we were a kosher family; meaning that we observed “the Jewish food laws of the Old Testament” (the Mosaic Law) regarding not eating pork or shellfish.

I had recognized that nixing the foods that the Bible had deemed as “unclean” helped my eczema (dyshidrosis) from getting worse. I began understanding why pork and shellfish were considered unclean; because like vultures and possums, they are at the bottom of the food chain.

So to consume the dirtiest animals for food, it was only feeding my disease.

One thing led to another, and by December 2011, we became vegetarians. You were so young that you never really ate meat to begin with.

Then by March 2013, I officially became a vegan; after discovering that my 22 years of constant sinus pressure, sinus infections, and allergies to animals were based on my consumption of the least amount of dairy and eggs. (I even had to get a much weaker prescription for my glasses after becoming a vegan!)

So for the record, since becoming a vegan, I no longer have eczema, sinus infections or allergy issues.

In the process of Mommy basically being forced to become a vegan chef for our household, you and she are almost vegans as well now; by default.

Meanwhile, it has been interesting to observe the gradual social acceptance level of our family’s plant-based lifestyle.

I have been told that I was single-handedly depriving my family of the protein and nutrients we need. I should point out that none of us have had to go to the doctor since we adopted the plant-based lifestyle.

So it seems that is a good indication we are actually healthier since the change; considering we used to get sick and now we don’t.

But that was a year ago. The more people have heard my testimonials, the more it makes sense.

My friend Ben Wilder, who was taking a Zyrtec a day, became a vegan after hearing about our family’s switch to plant-based living, and he is no longer on his medication… because he no longer needs it.

It was my goal to make it common knowledge that there is an obvious connection between allergies (as well as my eczema) and going plant-based.

I feel I have reached my goal. I was never trying to convert anyone; just help people understand why we are this way and provide a way for them to join us if they wish, which is why I started my “Ask A Vegan Anything” series.

To my surprise, the questions I have been getting have not so much been from confused or accusatory people, but instead, from people who are sincere in their curiosity; who are willing to consider going plant-based at the chance of reaching similar results.

So in the same way I feel I’ve reached my goal of helping to “rebrand fatherhood” as a daddy blogger, I also feel my mission is accomplished in helping others understand that the plant-based life is not so crazy after all.

That’s why in my writings to come, the focus will be more on reviewing vegan recipes and food products that our family enjoys…

 

Love,

Daddy

My 15 Year Class Reunion/Father’s Day Weekend