Dear Jack: Sticks and Stones May Break Other Sticks and Stones (and Skin Your Leg)

5 years, 8 months.

Dear Jack: Sticks and Stones May Break Other Sticks and Stones (and Skin Your Leg)

This past Sunday afternoon, leading up to Mommy taking you to see The Secret Life of Pets, you and I had a solid hour to kill. So I decided we both ought to take a meandering walk outside in the Tennessee July heat.

Dear Jack: Sticks and Stones May Break Other Sticks and Stones (and Skin Your Leg)

You decided to start out our adventure by grabbing a toy dinosaur that has been left outside our back porch. It was the kind that costs a dollar and grows 5 times its size when it’s emerged in water.

Given the fact it’s been sitting outside in the sun and rain for several weeks now, it has defaulted to a sort of gooey, slimy, puffy version of itself. You decided to take your extinct friend on our journey.

Dear Jack: Sticks and Stones May Break Other Sticks and Stones (and Skin Your Leg)

You also grabbed a test tube from one of your experiments that you had worked on the day before. Without surprise, the dinosaur got slimed with the goo.

After that matter was resolved, we began our trip along the empty sidewalks; as no one else was crazy enough to be outside in that heat.

One of the warnings I remember receiving a lot when I was a young boy was not to play with sticks; granted, I had a young sister too.

But you and I were outside, with no one else around. So when you took it upon yourself to pick up a few sticks use as crutches and/or weapons, I didn’t stop you.

Dear Jack: Sticks and Stones May Break Other Sticks and Stones (and Skin Your Leg)

We made our way to the edge of our neighborhood where they are finishing up the last of the new construction.

Your first self-assigned challenge was for me to find a rock too heavy for you to pick up, but light up enough that you could hold. You enjoyed the glory of holding it while I took a picture.

Dear Jack: Sticks and Stones May Break Other Sticks and Stones (and Skin Your Leg)

Dear Jack: Sticks and Stones May Break Other Sticks and Stones (and Skin Your Leg)

Then you decided you wanted to watch me pick up the biggest rocks I could and throw them against the other rocks so you could watch them break each other. You were amazed to see such an event.

Next, with the sticks you brought, you decided to explore all holes and crevices by poking the stick inside; I assume you were hoping that some kind of critter would come crawling out. It never did.

However, one of your sticks broke, in the process.

Dear Jack: Sticks and Stones May Break Other Sticks and Stones (and Skin Your Leg)

Somehow in the midst of all that, you skinned your leg. The funny thing is, you never seemed to notice. Even when I brought it to your attention, you didn’t seem impressed.

Dear Jack: Sticks and Stones May Break Other Sticks and Stones (and Skin Your Leg)

We finished our excursion with you climbing the gravel and dirt piles. You had been wanting to climb them for months, so the opportunity finally prevented itself.

Dear Jack: Sticks and Stones May Break Other Sticks and Stones (and Skin Your Leg) p13

I’d say we did a good job of killing an hour. And you learned an important lesson about life:

Sticks and stones may break other sticks and stones… and maybe even skins your leg, as well.



Dear Jack: Sticks and Stones May Break Other Sticks and Stones (and Skin Your Leg)

Dear Holly: Oh, How Your Brother Loves You

12 weeks.

Dear Holly: Oh, How Your Brother Loves You

Dear Holly,

Leading up to your birth, your brother Jack adopted a baby doll that your Grandma intended to be for you. He named her Dolly.

It became quite obvious that he was practicing… for you. She was the main toy he played with, there for a while. He even snuggled with Dolly in his bed.

Since you arrived, I can’t remember even one time he’s played with Dolly. That’s because the real life Dolly is here now: That’s you, Holly.

He watches how Mommy and I treat you to learn what he should do. And it’s funny how awkward, yet sincere he is about it.

Dear Holly: Oh, How Your Brother Loves You

One of my favorite things I’ve heard him say to you so far, was when he said, in a falsetto voice:

“Ah, how sweet! Little baby’s got 5,000 eyeballs. Yes, she does!”

Another one of my favorites occurred this past weekend when Jack made a snow plow out of his Legos and gently pushed it against your side as you were laying down on your blanket:

“This truck’s gonna push little baby away. Isn’t that sweet? Ah, it is. Little Baby likes to get pushed by the truck! Yes, she does!”

I loved watching your reaction. It was as if you knew he was just trying to annoy you but at the same time play with you (which was likely the case on his end).

You gave this sort of bothered yell, as if to say, “Hey, stop it!” But then you instantly smirked, as if to imply you enjoyed the attention from your brother.

When people ask Jack how he likes having a baby sister, he never answers in a way that accurately represents how much he truly loves having your around.

He’ll shrug, or mumble.

But I see how he adores you; how he’s fascinated by you.

I know the truth. I see the truth every day.



I Have Been Contacted by a Casting Director for an Upcoming TV Show, Based on My “Find My Campbell’s Go Twin” Social Media Campaign

Social Media, Help Me Find My Twin: Campbell's Go Southwest Style Chicken with Quinoa

This past Sunday, I published a post with an accompanying video entitled, “Social Media, Help Me Find My Twin: Campbell’s Go Southwest Style Chicken with Quinoa”.

I explained that instead of relying on Campbell’s Soup to help me find my doppelganger from the Campbell’s Go packaging, I figured I can get the job done more efficiently by depending on the powerful force of social media.

Turns out, after just 48 hours, I was contacted yesterday by a casting director from an upcoming American TV show in which participants are tracked for a year so America can see the progress of reaching their personal goal.

So obviously mine is to find, meet, and hang out with the man who served as a model for the Campbell’s Go soup.

As of last night, I have officially submitted my application, which is now awaiting approval of the next stage.

From what I can remember, this makes the 4th time in about 4 years I have been contacted to be considered as a guest for a TV show, including The Katie Couric Show and The Steve Harvey Show.

Ultimately though, the other TV shows wanted me to be dramatic, argumentative, and controversial. But that’s not me- I’m just a mild-mannered, clean-cut, apathetic Libertarian who finds much value in the pursuit of emotional intelligence.

However, this show is different. It’s a fun and cool. Nothing divisive about the content.

I feel that this upcoming TV show is a good speed and a good fit for me.

Whether or not I am chosen for the TV show, I’ll keep you posted here on Family Friendly Daddy Blog– as this is a milestone the story line of me finding my Campbell’s Go twin.

The fact that a casting director jumped on this story in just 48 hours demonstrates how much influence I have as a daddy blogger. Granted, I’m not big… but I’m big enough.

Meet the Shells: The Plant-Based, Road Tripping Nashville Family

Gluten-Free Vegan Road Trip to Atlanta, Georgia in a 2016 Toyota Highlander Limited

In case you’re just now tuning in to Family Friendly Daddy Blog, I figured it would be a good idea to present a synopsis of what our family is all about.

While in many ways we are just the average all-American nuclear family, we have our quirks as well.

The most obvious one is that we are a plant-based family: I am a vegan while my wife and kids are vegetarians. And this is no hipster phase… We have lived this way for years now.

On top of that, we are a road tripping family. That is our thing.

Based out of Spring Hill, Tennessee (a bedroom community south of Nashville), we find ourselves travelling throughout the year to places like Asheville, NC; Destin, FL; Pensacola, FL; and Atlanta, GA.

Dear Jack: Our Trip to the Atlanta Aquarium

Not to mention, since my wife is from Sacramento, California, we head out there once a year as well; though this year, we’ll be making our way to San Diego instead.

Because of my volume of viewership, and based on the fact I am a daddy blogger (which is a unique demographic), I have the privilege of being able to “review” brand-new vehicles on these road trips.

Gluten-Free Vegan Road Trip to Atlanta, Georgia in a 2016 Toyota Highlander Limited

And while we’re on location, I often am able to score complimentary tickets to events in exchange for exposure here on my blog.

Not to mention, I regularly cover events that come here to Nashville.

When we’re not travelling or going to big events, sometimes my son and I like to make videos. In one series, my son is a super hero and I am the villain; that’s Jack-Man.

I also do a series where I am the host, sort of like an outdoors version of Mr. Rogers, in Uncle Nick’s Enchanted Forest. Both shows contain all original songs and music.

We have been approached multiple times about being on reality TV shows, but in the end, it has never worked out- I think mainly because I was very straight forward to the casting directors that we are into having fun, but not into getting into arguments for the world to see.

Ultimately, my agenda as a daddy blogger is to positively demonstrate fatherhood and married life, as both are often negatively portrayed in pop culture.

Dear Jack: Our Trip to the Atlanta Aquarium

Thanks for choosing to visit our corner of the world today. If you like what you’ve read today and would like more positive family vibes coming your way, I invite you to subscribe to my blog (see the button above) or follow me on Facebook.

We are the plant-based, road-tripping family of Nashville.

We are the Shells.

Meet the Shells: The Plant-Based, Road Tripping Nashville Family

Vegan Confession: I Don’t Miss Meat, Eggs, or Dairy, But I Do Have Fast Food Fantasies…

Vegan Confession: I Don’t Miss Meat, Eggs, or Dairy, But I Do Have Fast Food Fantasies

Fact: I am the only married man you know who is a vegan. We are a rare breed, as I am well aware.

A question I get sometimes is this: “Don’t you miss it? Don’t you wish you could just bite into a juicy steak sometimes?”

My answer is always a quick, “No, not at all.”

I know it’s easy for an outsider to assume that vegans are secretly hungry because they don’t get enough protein.

Granted, I think I am easy proof that I actually get more than enough protein. After having been a vegan for over three years, a vegetarian for 4 and a half years, and kosher (no pork or shellfish- yes, that includes bacon!) for 7 and a half, you can easily see I’m not withering away.

In fact, I’m currently working on shedding the last 5 of the 7 pounds I gained while supporting my wife in her pregnancy cravings. (Organic tater tots and vegan chocolate candy bars do more damage than I previously thought!)

My wife and I have discussed what would happen if she ever ate meat again; as she’s been kosher and a vegetarian as long as I have. I explained that if she ever went back, it could easily tempt me to do the same, which would mean I could have the freedom to eat fast food again.

As I explained to her; it’s not the good, healthy, organic, non-GMO meat that she would cook that I would be so excited about. I could care less about that.

Instead, what I psychologically miss is the glory of fast food.

I miss being able to spend so little money on food that is unnaturally tasty (thanks to the addictive trio of high fat, high sugar, and high sodium).

I miss the convenience of dollar menus and drive-thru’s.

I miss not ever asking myself where my food is coming from, beyond a Sysco delivery truck.

I miss not worrying about the future effect of fast food on my body.

I miss not associating eat red meat with the increased chances of getting diabetes or prostate cancer.

The thought of me ever eating fast food again disgusts her enough to the point where I’m pretty sure she’s won’t ever be tempted to go back. (I used to sneak fast food when she and I first got married 8 years ago.)

Life was easier when I ate fast food. I admit, I miss that.

The place I miss most is Captain D’s. Ah, their greasy, crunchy, fried mystery fish of the sea; made complete with tartar sauce and cocktail sauce. Wash it down with sugary sweet tea… I miss that place more than any burger joint.

But here’s what I don’t miss:

I don’t miss having “untreatable eczema” on my hands, to the point I could barely type on the computer keyboard.

I don’t miss the daily headaches.

I don’t miss the constant sinus pressure, or getting sinus infections every couple of months.

I don’t miss the acne.

I don’t miss being my pants size being size 34; where as I’ve remained size 31 for the 3 years I’ve been a vegan.

So yes, being a strict vegan takes some fun out of life. It’s true.

And I do miss fast food.

But for me, what I psychologically miss isn’t worth more than how I am physically benefiting from doing without the fun stuff.

Dear Jack: Scrubby Man to the Rescue!

5 years, 7 months.

Dear Jack: Scrubby Man to the Rescue!

Dear Jack,

On Saturday afternoon before your nap, you agreed to go help Mommy get rid of all the “roly poly” bugs in the garage while I was cleaning up the kitchen from lunch and while your sister Holly was asleep.

By the time I got out to the garage, I discovered you wearing swim goggles, with a broom in your hand. When you saw me, you declared, “Scrubby Man to the rescue!”

I’m still not sure whether Scrubby Man is a super hero or just someone people hire to clean their garage. You looked like and acted like a perfect mix of the two.

In case I haven’t mentioned it, you have a Mommy who is… very into cleaning. I don’t mind that at all. I think it’s a great thing.

It’s just that on my own, I wouldn’t have thought to spend 20 minutes sweeping away all the pill bugs in the garage on a Saturday afternoon. But Mommy is wired to consider things like that.

And it’s good that she is instilling those traits in you.

I seriously love your choice to wear the goggles, though. You never know when dust or roly poly bugs might get in your eyes while sweeping.

Later that afternoon while I was out running an errand for Mommy at Kirkland’s (I wish that sentence sounded manly), you and your sister kept Mommy entertained back at the house.

You put on your famous felt mustache, which made Mommy and your sister laugh.

Now that I’ve had a smart phone for about 8 months, I admit that I still despise having one. I instead wish I could have no phone at all.

But perhaps the one thing I actually appreciate about having a smart phone is the ability to use Instagram. While I own a very nice, high quality camera to take most pictures, sometimes an unplanned Instagram speaks a thousand words that a planned picture with my $600 never could.



Social Media, Help Me Find My Twin: Campbell’s Go Southwest Style Chicken with Quinoa


Dear Social Media,

I am recruiting your help today. I believe that together, we can find my twin, whose image can be found on the current Campbell’s Go Southwest Style Chicken with Quinoa package.

Granted, he’s not my actual twin, but instead, my apparent doppelganger; as my friends on Facebook have collectively agreed.

Last year March here on my blog, I first mentioned this finding. Since then, Campbell’s has evidently made a slight change to the their packaging, changing the name of the flavor of this soup from Chicken & Quinoa with Poblano Chilies… to Southwest Style Chicken with Quinoa.

Social Media, Help Me Find My Twin: Campbell's Go Southwest Style Chicken with Quinoa

Either way, it’s the same guy in the picture.

Can you help me find him? I think it would be cool for us to meet up for a photo opp.

I am curious to see how much we actually look alike when we are side-by-side. I would also like to learn other similarities:

How tall is he? I’m 5′ 9″.

What’s his ethnic background? Mine is Mexican and Italian.

Where is he from? I live near Nashville, Tennessee.

Social Media, Help Me Find My Twin: Campbell's Go Southwest Style Chicken with Quinoa

I understand right now that Americans are more focused on Pokemon Go, but I’m sure there’s someone out there who could help me find the model who posed for this soup packaging.

Last March when I did my original post, Campbell’s (understandably for legal reasons) was not able to give me any information on this male model.

Here is the Facebook conversation I had with their social media person:

Nick Shell  3/10, 7:52 pm

 Hi, I’m Nick Shell from Family Friendly Daddy Blog. My recent story featuring Campbell’s Go has been my most popular this week! (Am I The Guy From The Campbell’s Go Chicken & Quinoa With Poblano Chilies Package?) As random as the conversation is, it is proving relevant in my social media circles :) So the truth is, I’m actually a vegan and my wife and son are vegetarians. But if there’s anyway I could land an “email interview” with the actual model used for that package, it would make very a really cool, unique follow-up story that would serve as more product placement for Campbell’s Go. It would also give the model guy some extra exposure for his career. Is there any chance at making that happen? Thank you so much for your reply.

Facebook User  3/12, 8:23 am

Thank you for your message, Nick. Unfortunately, specific information about actors is controlled/proprietary to our ad agency. Can you please provide us with your contact information? Your comments and inquiry will be forwarded to our team and should they be interested in working with you, they will reach out directly.

As you can see, by going back to my old Facebook messages, social media account now simply shows up as “Facebook User”, where as before, it was something like “Campbell’s Soup”.

So maybe now, a year later, someone at Campbell’s would be willing to go out on a limb and help me find my doppelganger.

But if not, how about you, social media? Can you help me?



Nick Shell of Family Friendly Daddy Blog

AKA: The Guy Who Looks Like the Guy from the Campbell’s Go Southwest Style Chicken with Quinoa

Social Media, Help Me Find My Twin: Campbell's Go Southwest Style Chicken with Quinoa