Dear Jack: What I Was Doing When I Was Your Age, 30 Years Ago, Back in the Summer of 1989

8 years, 7 months.

Dear Jack,

For every year older you get, it seems that much closer to my memories of my old childhood; since my memories are that much more elaborate the older I was.

So for me, it’s pretty easy to think back 30 years ago to the summer of 1989.

I remember I attended baseball camp. The main thing I remember is that Jonathan Shugart got hit in the head with a baseball.

I remember that was the summer that our town got a Taco Bell; because I went there for the first time in my life, after baseball camp; during the first week it opened.

And I definitely remember our whole family going to see the original Batman movie in the theater.

I remember that I was excited about starting 3rd grade, because it would be at a new school, where you were able to pick juice instead of just milk.

You’re going to have a great school year. I can tell you from experience.

I also can tell you that you won’t forget this summer, just as I didn’t forget my summer preceding 3rd grade. I’m sure getting the Jeep will help ensure that!

Love,

Daddy

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The Hierarchy of Jeep Wranglers and Why I Refuse to Have a Stick Figure Family on My Back Window (and Have a Metallica Snake Instead)

As much it’s an important part of my identity not to be judgmental towards other people, I am willing to admit my weakness in this area:

I have tasted from the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Real Jeeps Vs. Mom Minivan Jeeps. My eyes have seen the truth.

The truth is, while a Jeep Wrangler is still a Jeep Wrangler, there is definitely an understood hierarchy among those of us who drive real Jeep Wranglers.

A real Jeep is a 2 door with a manual transmission.

But if it has 4 doors with an automatic transmission, it is ultimately the coolest minivan for moms.

If the only way I could have obtained a Jeep Wrangler was to have gotten the 4 door with a automatic transmission, then I would have.

Fortunately… I own a 2010 Jeep Wrangler Sport 6 Speed. All black with black tinted windows. It’s the real deal.

When I think of the Mom Minivan Jeeps, I think of a stick figure family on the back window.

Not me. I don’t want to be cute.

Instead, I only have one sticker on the back window of my Jeep: The snake from Metallica’s Black Album.

(Buy Metallica’s Black Album here from Amazon.)

It’s send the right message. I drive the Metallica Black Album Jeep Wrangler.

To anyone who perceives that I cut them off in daily commuter traffic, they shouldn’t be surprised when they see my sticker.

To anyone who perceives that I am driving too slowly in front of them (because I am in the same line of traffic they are but I am trying to maintain my speed in 2nd gear without needless downshifting to 1st again because I creep up behind the care in front of me quicker than I had do), they shouldn’t be surprised when they see my sticker.

To any who perceives that I am going too fast or too rough, they shouldn’t be surprised when they see my sticker.

One of the ongoing themes of Metallica’s music is embracing that fact that as human being are not the “good” people we naturally assume we are; especially as we compare ourselves to others who we perceive has worse morals.

Songs like “Sad But True”, “Devil’s Dance”, “Am I Savage?” and “Master of Puppets” carry a theme of recognizing the we as individuals continue to give control over our emotions and decisions to other people and/or vices; as opposed to making the conscious decision to take control ourselves.

The Metallica Black Album Jeep Wrangler is amoral. The Metallica Black Album Jeep Wrangler is chaotic neutral. The Metallica Black Album Jeep Wrangler has no emotions.

So yeah, a stick figure family wouldn’t be a good representation of the identity of the driver of my Jeep; even if, somewhat ironically, there truly is a fun-loving American family of 4 riding inside.

2010 Jeep Wrangler JK Sport 4WD 6 Speed: Family Ride in Percy Warner Park in Nashville, Tennessee

It’s been two weeks now that I finally obtained my dream vehicle, a Jeep Wrangler. As part of the fun for Mother’s Day for my wife, I announced we would be going for our very first family leisurely drive through the not-so-faraway Jeep-friendly spot: Percy Warner Park in Nashville.

This weekend’s drive confirmed what I always believed about owning a Jeep Wrangler; that you don’t simply own a vehicle, you own a mobile amusement park.

Automatically, anywhere you drive is suddenly more exciting. The view is undeniably better. Whenever you see a road you want to go down, or go up, that you wouldn’t normally be able to… well, now you can.

And we did. Many times.

There is no fear of getting stuck in the mud, because now we have 4 wheel drive.

There is no fear of not being able to turn around if we get to the end of a narrow dead-end road, because the Jeep is so short.

There is no fear of boredom, because we are ultimately riding in a mini monster truck.

Something really crazy about my 7 and a half year journey to finally getting my Jeep Wrangler is that I never ever drove one until I had already bought mine!

That’s how much I knew I was destined to own one.

I can’t remember the last time I bought anything for myself that made me so happy.

When you’re the husband and the father, you just sort of go along with whatever is going on with your family. There was honestly nothing I needed or even wanted anyway.

Except for the Jeep, which I couldn’t afford until now; and was able to pay cash for. (My wife and I are very serious about Dave Ramsey!)

But this Jeep isn’t just for me: My whole family enjoys it.

It’s simply more fun to drive now; even in bumper to bumper commuter Nashville traffic.

That’s how good a Jeep Wrangler is.

Dear Jack: You’re Halfway to Age 16!

8 years.

Dear Jack,

It’s taken me a few weeks since your recent 8th birthday to realize:

You’re halfway to being age 16. More specifically, you’re halfway there to being able to have a driver’s license.

Mommy and I were talking about it this week.

As we are really focused on investing our money beyond what we are already saving, we were discussing your college and our retirement.

But then Mommy reminded me, “Jack will be driving in 8 years, too. He’s going to need a car.”

I have a feeling that these next 8 years will pass by quicker than the first eight. I wonder what you’re first car will be?

If I’m lucky, you can have my 2004 Honda that I’m driving now so that I can finally get an upgrade.

Love,

Daddy

More Stories from Our Family’s Road Trip to Destin, Florida in the 2019 Chevy Traverse AWD Premier

I have no problem admitting that the pictures and stories I share here on my blog and on my social media serve as my family’s highlight reel. There is no shame in that.

As the default photographer for my family of four, one of my roles in our household is to constantly create and maintain a collection of our best memories as they happen in real time. With all the chaos in this life, it’s important for us to celebrate what is good.

So no, you’re not going to see pictures of any meltdowns due to lack of sleep or food while on our family’s recent trip to Destin, Florida in the 2019 Chevy Traverse for my son’s 8th birthday. Nope, just the silly smiles and good times.

For example, I can’t stop thinking about how hours after the fact, I learned that my daughter had placed stickers on my butt.

That’s right. I had been driving around Destin and hanging out at Starbucks with my family, without realizing that dozens of tiny Paw Patrol stickers covered not only my shirt, which I was aware of, but also pretty much everywhere else.

While my wife had been scurrying around the LOFT outlet, I was keeping the kids at bay in the meantime. Fortunately, we made the right moral decision to allow our daughter to buy a package of over 300 stickers from the dollar aisle at Target earlier that day.

I just crouched there in the middle of the LOFT, sort of lethargically, while doing my best to keep the kids from getting into too much trouble.

Later that day, as we wrapped up our outlet shopping spree (amazingly only spending about $300 total), we finished up at the Bass Pro Shop. It just so happened that Santa was there too!

I loved how my daughter just walked right up to him for her free picture, with a huge smile on her face; not afraid at all. Granted, that didn’t mean she was going to actually smile for the picture though.

And speaking of free attractions in Destin, we couldn’t resist seeing the gators over at Fudpucker’s. Of course, my son did enough up spending some of his birthday money there at the souvenir shop.

The last thing we did before we headed back home to Tennessee was to visit one of my wife’s brothers (there are 10 kids in that family!) in Pensacola. We enjoyed lunch at Jaco’s, our token place to stop to eat in that town.

Afterwards, we walked around the marina for over an hour, allowing the kids to burn off as much energy as they could, before beginning the 7 hour return trip to the Nashville area.

It worked.

Much needed sleep was obtained.

Seriously, now that I’ve had a chance to look back on all these pictures and stories from our trip, I can clearly see: We truly had some good times as a family.

Thank you Chevy for helping make our trip so awesome!

2019 Chevy Traverse AWD Premier: 3rd Row Seat Space, Gas Tank Release, Opening the Trunk… Plus, Hidden Cargo Space!

For the past week, I have had the awesome opportunity to drive the 2019 Chevy Traverse AWD Premier. As a daddy blogger, there are particular questions I like to find answers to when I drive a new vehicle; as I have found them to be relevant here on my blog as well as its related YouTube channel.

First, I like to explore the 3rd row seat space, for an average size American person. (At least, let’s assume I’m average at 5′ 9″ and 170 pounds.)

Check out this video, where I do a quick demonstration of me sitting in the 3rd row seat. I was impressed with how much clearance I had above my head. With most other vehicles with a 3rd row seat, my head grazes the ceiling, but not in the 2019 Chevy Traverse.

Next, I like to show where to find the gas tank release; as it can be stressful when you’re already at the gas pump but don’t know how to get to the tank. In the new Traverse, it’s this simple:

Just press the gas tank door with your finger. It’s really easy.

And lastly, especially in an SUV, I like to point out how to open the trunk door. While there is a release button near the steering wheel, I found that it was more practically for me just to “double click” the button on the key remote. (Then just press the close button on the trunk door itself for it to automatically close.)

I particularly appreciated the hidden cargo space in the trunk. I was able to store so much in there on my family’s recent road trip to Destin, Florida; from the Nashville area.

Thanks for checking out my blog today on the 2019 Chevy Traverse. I am confident you’ll enjoy it as much as I did!

-Nick Shell of Family Friendly Daddy Blog

Father and Son Road Trip to Target to Buy Board Games for Thanksgiving in a 2019 Chevy Traverse

With Thanksgiving just a few days away, my wife suggested we pick up the classic board game Monopoly for when we visit my side of the family in Alabama. That gave me the green light to carry out my own related agenda: to also buy the classic game Crossfire, from my own childhood.

Speaking of agendas, my son had one of his own, as well. He still had a few bucks leftover from his birthday, on a gift card to Target that he was eager to spend.

So he and I hopped in the 2019 Chevy Traverse that our family still has from our trip to Destin, FL. (More on that in the days to come…) Exactly 3.8 miles later, we had arrived.

I couldn’t have known this, but it just so happened that Target had just started a special 20% sale on family board games.

I feel really good about this. My wife’s idea was spot on.

Classic board games are a great way to unplug for the holidays while the family is together.

It’s easy to forget how great it is to break out some board games after the meal and have some mandatory fun.

My son ended going with a Squish-Dee-Lish. It’s funny how big he is into those “don’t know what you’ve got until you’ve opened it” toys.

I think it ended up being a sleep-deprived alien jet pilot?

Once we got home, I admit it took my longer than it should have to assemble Crossfire while my wife finished preparing dinner.

To my surprise, my daughter actually seemed more into the game than my son.

Good call, though. Stock up on board games for Thanksgiving, especially while they’re on sale this week at Target!