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.

https://familyfriendlydaddyblog.com/2016/05/03/motormood-classic-review-a-fun-emojicon-for-emotionally-intelligent-drivers-giveaway/

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.

Love,

Daddy

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?

 

Sincerely,

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

 

Dear Holly: Meeting Your Great-Grandparents (2016 Toyota Highlander Family Road Trip)

11 weeks.

Dear Holly: Meeting Your Great-Grandparents (2016 Toyota Highlander Family Road Trip)

Dear Holly,

You met all of your great-grandparents in one weekend, in the midst of our family’s 1st road trip as a family of four; in which we drove from Nashville to Atlanta.

2016 Toyota Highlander Limited: 3rd Row Seat Space & Child Car Seat Placement

Granted, you were asleep during 95% of the drive, in the 2016 Toyota Highlander. But you woke up just in time to meet everyone and were able to get your picture made with them.

Dear Holly: Meeting Your Great-Grandparents (2016 Toyota Highlander Family Road Trip)

First we drove through my hometown of Fort Payne, Alabama; where you met your Mexican great-grandmother, Lola Mendez Metallo; whose parents moved here from Michoacán, Mexico and settled in Buffalo, New York. I’m pretty sure she thought it was a dream that we stopped by, as we kept it a complete surprise we were coming.

Dear Holly: Meeting Your Great-Grandparents (2016 Toyota Highlander Family Road Trip)

She was married to my Italian grandfather Albert Metallo, whose father moved here from southern Italy and settled in Kenosha, Wisconsin. I wish you could have met him too, but you were born about 8 years too late to meet him.

Dear Holly: Meeting Your Great-Grandparents (2016 Toyota Highlander Family Road Trip)

Dear Holly: Meeting Your Great-Grandparents (2016 Toyota Highlander Family Road Trip)

We stayed the night at Nonna and Papa’s house that night. Your cousin Calla brought some leftover fireworks for Uncle Andrew to light and shoot off in the front yard, while I helped supervise for safety.

Dear Holly: Meeting Your Great-Grandparents (2016 Toyota Highlander Family Road Trip)

Dear Holly: Meeting Your Great-Grandparents (2016 Toyota Highlander Family Road Trip)

It was quite a show. You were never once scared by the noise or the minor explosions. In fact, you took it all in with a straight face the entire time.

Dear Holly: Meeting Your Great-Grandparents (2016 Toyota Highlander Family Road Trip) a6 a7

We spent the next couple of days in Atlanta, where visited the Atlanta Aquarium as well as the Delta Flight Museum. On the way back home though, we stopped by Flintstone, Georgia, right outside of Chattanooga, Tennessee, so you could meet my dad’s (Papa’s) parents; which is who we get our last name from.

Dear Holly: Meeting Your Great-Grandparents (2016 Toyota Highlander Family Road Trip)

Dear Holly: Meeting Your Great-Grandparents (2016 Toyota Highlander Family Road Trip)

Since we were just passing through and didn’t know what time we’d get there, it was a quick visit; as opposed to having a big family reunion. We’ll have to save that for a day when we aren’t in transition.

Dear Holly: Meeting Your Great-Grandparents (2016 Toyota Highlander Family Road Trip)

Dear Holly: Meeting Your Great-Grandparents (2016 Toyota Highlander Family Road Trip)

Your Great-Aunt Rosa was there though, as she kept your brother Jack busy as she wrestled him.

I’m so glad you were able to meet your great-parents this past weekend. You are quite a big deal to them!

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Meeting Your Great-Grandparents (2016 Toyota Highlander Family Road Trip)

Dear Jack: Our Trip to the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta, Georgia

5 years, 7 months.

Dear Jack: Our Trip to the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta, Georgia

Dear Jack: Our Trip to the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta, Georgia

Dear Jack,

As we journeyed on in our family’s first road trip as a family of four (in the 2016 Toyota Highlander) last week, we made our next stop the Delta Flight Museum.

Dear Jack: Our Trip to the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta, Georgia

The funny thing is, I really didn’t what know to expect beforehand: I’m not sure I had ever been to any kind of airplane museum before.

But once we got there, I realized what a great fit it was for our entire family!

Dear Jack: Our Trip to the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta, Georgia

Dear Jack: Our Trip to the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta, Georgia

Dear Jack: Our Trip to the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta, Georgia

I loved seeing how excited you were by everything surrounding you- there were planes hanging from the sky, planes for us to walk through, a small plane for you to get in, and a tunnel… all for you to explore.

Dear Jack: Our Trip to the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta, Georgia

Dear Jack: Our Trip to the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta, Georgia

Dear Jack: Our Trip to the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta, Georgia

Not only was there so much to see there, but Mommy and I loved the pace of the place.

Dear Jack: Our Trip to the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta, Georgia

It was so open and spread out, and served as a non-intimidating environment for a family with a small baby. They have a theater room that plays a short film about the history of Delta Airlines.

Dear Jack: Our Trip to the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta, Georgia

Dear Jack: Our Trip to the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta, Georgia

Dear Jack: Our Trip to the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta, Georgia

Mommy was able to feed your sister her bottle there in the theater while our family watched the big screen.

I also couldn’t help but notice how helpful and courteous all the staff was.

Of course it wouldn’t be an event if Mommy and I didn’t let you get a souvenir, so you find the gift shop and you were excited to adopt a white bear in a bomber jacket.

Dear Jack: Our Trip to the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta, Georgia

Dear Jack: Our Trip to the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta, Georgia

It was a wise decision to make the Delta Flight Museum part of our Atlanta road trip. Your attention was easily captivated the entire time we were there- and like I mentioned, it was very easily to manage a 2 month-old baby the whole time as well.

Dear Jack: Our Trip to the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta, Georgia

Dear Jack: Our Trip to the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta, Georgia

Dear Jack: Our Trip to the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta, Georgia

Perhaps your favorite part was the little “photo op” plane for you and your sister to sit inside. You kept going back to it, even asking me, “Daddy, does this plane really fly?”

If it would have, I’m sure you would have been ready to take flight.

 Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Our Trip to the Delta Flight Museum in Atlanta, Georgia

Dear Jack: Our Trip to the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta

5 years, 7 months.

Dear Jack: Our Trip to the Atlanta Aquarium

Dear Jack,

As part of our family’s first road trip as a family of four (in the 2016 Toyota Highlander), we visited the Georgia Aquarium; you are particularly fascinated by whales and sharks.

Dear Jack: Our Trip to the Atlanta Aquarium

Dear Jack: Our Trip to the Atlanta Aquarium

Of course, the first place we checked out was the souvenir shop, where you found a beluga whale as your companion for the visit. You took my suggestion and named her Bella. She remained by your side throughout our entire Atlanta road trip.

Dear Jack: Our Trip to the Atlanta Aquarium

Dear Jack: Our Trip to the Atlanta Aquarium

I didn’t know this at the time, but the Georgia Aquarium is the largest aquarium in the western hemisphere! This fact is downplayed by how concise the place is structured, as all branches of the aquarium are virtually connected to the main court, which is connected to the gift shop.

Dear Jack: Our Trip to the Atlanta Aquarium

Dear Jack: Our Trip to the Atlanta Aquarium

It was even convenient for Mommy to feed and change your baby sister’s diapers, without having to go to the other side of the aquarium to take care of her.

Dear Jack: Our Trip to the Atlanta Aquarium

Dear Jack: Our Trip to the Atlanta Aquarium

Perhaps our favorite part of the Atlanta Aquarium was the underwater tunnel, in which we stood on a moving walkway as the ocean animals swam above us. I had always wanted to experience that. I finally was able to!

Dear Jack: Our Trip to the Atlanta Aquarium

Dear Jack: Our Trip to the Atlanta Aquarium

Something else I really liked about this aquarium is how we were able to see the entire place without ever having to feel rushed. We saw it all and it wasn’t too much or too little- it was the perfect amount!

Dear Jack: Our Trip to the Atlanta Aquarium

Dear Jack: Our Trip to the Atlanta Aquarium

Needless to say, you were thought it was so cool to see all the animals of the sea. I’m so glad it worked out for our family to visit the Georgia Aquarium this summer.

Dear Jack: Our Trip to the Atlanta Aquarium

I know there are so many fun family activities to do in Atlanta, but we made the right decision in placing the Georgia Aquarium on our agenda for our family’s first road trip as a family of four.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Our Trip to the Atlanta Aquarium