Dear Holly: You Love Vegan Avocado Toast!

1 year, 3 months.

Dear Holly,

To say you are a picky eater is an understatement. Plus, like me, you have negative reactions to consuming dairy, so I am so happy to see you less dependent on milk for your food throughout the day. Even just since graduating from formula, your skin is looking much better.

Ah, finally- you are munching on food you have to chew.

As you can imagine, with you being born to a vegan father, I am eager to teach you from a very young age, how to get your proteins and fats from plants, like I do; as opposed to believing that protein and fat from animals is necessary in order to healthy, like our government teaches and like most people believe.

So when Mommy introduced you to avocado toast (bread, avocado, vegan butter, salt, pepper), and you actually loved it, I was in my glory. It’s quite typical on Saturday mornings for Mommy and me to have that for breakfast. Sort of on a whim, Mommy steered the avocado toast to your mouth, in the off chance you would actually taste it and try it.

Apparently, you thought it looked similar to the contents of all those organic fruit and veggie pouches we give you. Even though avocado tastes nothing like what you’re used to eating, you immediately went back for a second bite. And a third and a fourth…

Mommy actually had to make you a 2nd entire piece of vegan toast!

With your brother being a big fan of cheese, I know there’s no chance of me convincing him to convert from vegetarian to vegan until at least past his teenage years.

But as you, my dear daughter, I think I might just be able to corrupt you, I mean convince you of a life dependent on nuts and seeds for fat, instead of dairy.

I will keep trying to entice you…

In the meantime, I will make sure you have plenty of access to avocado toast!

Love,

Daddy

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I am So Excited about the 2017 Toyota 4Runner I Get to Drive This Week!

“Give me fuel, give me fire, give me that which I desire!”

Those were the magic words I spoke, which caused my 2004 Honda Element to mysteriously morph into a 2017 Toyota 4Runner 4X4 Limited V6.

It’s like how Cinderella’s pumpkin turned into a wondrous carriage pulled by horses. Only way cooler.

So for the next nine days, until the clock strikes 11:30 AM on July 6th, I will get to be the proud driver of this undeniably tough (yet charming) machine of glory.

In the dozens of vehicles of featured on my blog over the years, my very favorite was the Toyota Tacoma. So obviously I have been looking forward for months now, knowing that a Toyota 4Runner was being delivered to me this week; as I find the two vehicles to be similar to each other.

This thing has the elegant look of a Storm Trooper, yet the unpredictable great power of Darth Vader.

Seriously, I am going to be so cool this week.

I’ve already had several co-workers stop me and tell me how jealous they are.

This 4Runner taps into a pocket of my psyche that I typically keep subdued on my blog.

After all, I’m the Family Friendly Daddy Blogger. Readers have certain demographic expectations of me:

Take lots of cute pictures of my kids while telling cute stories about them. Rinse and repeat.

And that’s what I will provide for my readers over the next week or so, as we enjoy some awesome upcoming adventures, being the Chip and Joanna Gaines kind of family that we truly are.

But this is me, breaking the 4th wall, to say, “I am a conservative husband and father living in the Suburbs… hear me roar!”

I suddenly feel so in control.

So powerful.

So… alive.

Dear Holly: Learning to Walk, Leading Up to Your 1st Birthday

1 year.

Dear Holly,

Two weekends ago, as I was with you downstairs watching you play, while Mommy was upstairs working on laundry and while your brother was at the kitchen table working on drawings, I saw you do something amazing.

You were sitting down on the carpet, sort of Indian style, when for no apparent reason, you decided to stand up. So you did. And you remained standing up for about 5 seconds.

Then, you took it upon yourself to take 5 steps toward the sofa chair!

Of course, I was the only one to witness this marvelous event. I made sure you knew what a big deal it was. And you did. You were clearly so proud of yourself, as I was obviously proud of you too.

Then, a week later, this past Sunday, the day before your 1st birthday, your brother Jack wanted to play Super Smash Bros. Brawl on the Wii, so he could play as his favorite Pokemon characters.

You and Mommy were upstairs with us, hanging out.

It was in the middle of a Pokemon fight that you decided to show us all your stuff. You pulled yourself up on the book case, turned to Mommy, and started walking towards her; making it the first time she and your brother saw you walk.

We all cheered and celebrated! What a big deal!

You took another 3 steps Monday morning on your birthday, as Mommy and I were setting up the presents in the living room. It is interesting to see how your 1st birthday and your first steps lined up together.

Granted, you’re not walking around yet- but you are able to take 3 to 5 steps at a time… when you feel like it.

I am very much looking forward to you being my little girl who can walk around the house!

Love,

Daddy

Been a Vegan 4 Years Now and Nobody’s Impressed (How American Masculinity is Associated with Eating Red Meat and Pork)

No one will read this blog post. It will not show up at the top of anyone’s Facebook feed, like the way pictures of my adorable 11 month-old daughter do. Because ultimately, this blog is irrelevant to most people.

My dedication to the plant-based life is unanimously met with the sound of crickets chirping; especially since I have zero desire to try to convince anyone else they should become a vegan.

To go 4 years without eating any meat, eggs, or dairy products is nearly un-American, not to mention, un-masculine.

Our American culture subconsciously associates masculinity with eating meat: In particular, red meat and pork.

So for a man to deny himself of that form of protein… it isn’t considered noble, by most. Instead, it is met with confusion, at best.

To be exact, I haven’t consumed pork (which includes hot dogs, BBQ, and bacon) or shellfish (shrimp, scallops, lobster) since Thanksgiving 2008; over 8 years now. Nor have I eaten any meat (including fish) since December 2011.

I didn’t go vegan all at once; I accidentally stumbled into it after realizing my eczema (dyshidrosis), constant sinus pressure and sinus infections, and pet allergies disappeared once I cut out all animal products.

A couple of months ago I declared myself as the manliest vegan on the Internet. Granted, it was a tongue-in-cheek proclamation. Yet still, no one denied it.

Because really, A) no cares about the lifestyles of vegans except for vegans themselves and B) there are so few masculine vegans on the Internet to care enough to rebuttal my claim.

But in the rare event anyone is actually reading this, take a look at me.

It is very obvious I am not lacking protein. It is very obvious I look healthy.

And that’s with me consuming no meat, eggs, or dairy for 4 years now.

I have no health issues, nor do I require any medications or supplements.

My protein and “good fats” intake (which contains 0% of my daily cholesterol) comes from vegetables, fruits, grains, beans, nuts, and seeds.

As for Vitamin B12, that is derived from the mushrooms, seaweed, and Kombucha I regularly consume.

Plus, my daughter is turning 1 year old this month. So obviously, my plant-based lifestyle didn’t interfere with my ability to father children.

I am an image of a healthy man. I just happen to not consume any animal products.

Yet our society continues to believe that eating red meat and pork is masculine. Our society continues to question whether vegans get enough protein.

Well, at least you know about one exception to the rule now.

But then again, no one will actually read this.

I am Being Featured on CreditDonkey’s Best Dad Blogs 2017: Top Parenting Experts

This morning I was informed that my blog, Family Friendly Daddy Blog, was chosen as one of the Top 40 “Best Dad Blogs”, by CreditDonkey. It gives me great confirmation to know that my work as a daddy blogger stands out in the crowd, as it was noted:

“Family Friendly Daddy Blog is a site featuring reviews of everything from cars to toys, along with plenty of musings on parenting and the vegan lifestyle.”

As I scrolled down the list of fellow daddy bloggers on the list, I immediately realized that I personally know some of these guys, actually:

Back when I was the daddy blogger for Parents.com, General Motors flew me up to Detroit in October 2011 to promote their Traverse, I met HighTechDad.

Larry Mihalko during the Chevrolet Traverse Quality event during the Chevrolet Centennial media event Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at the General Motors Milford Proving Grounds in Milford, Michigan. (Photo by Jeffrey Sauger for Chevrolet)

But I especially hit it off with 8BitDad, Zach Rosenberg, while I was there. I remember him telling me that his own dad is a character actor, in Los Angeles. This whole time, 8BitDad and I have been following each other on Twitter. I hope I get to hang out with him again in person someday.

And I met Gay NYC Dad in October 2014 when I was invited by Toyota for their “Family Reunion” at Ponte Vedra Inn & Club in Pompano Beach, Florida; featuring the updated Sienna, Camry, and Yaris. I remember he and I had a fun conversation about how he grew up on a kosher diet, being Jewish, whereas I started about my journey of veganism when I switched to kosher (no pork, shellfish, or other bottom feeder animals) back on Thanksgiving 2008.

The fact that I made it to this list reminds me that while I may not be the most popular daddy blogger out there, I am good enough at what I do to make the cut; to be considered one of the most relevant.

It also shows me I’m doing a decent job on SEO (search engine optimization); meaning I’m able to create and maintain contain that is easy for people to find when they search a relatable topic on Google.

I am very grateful for all of my readers and supporters- and I especially thank CreditDonkey today for choosing me as part of their Top 40 daddy bloggers.

Live with Kelly Co-Host Contest, Top 40 Contender: 2nd Video/Next Deadline, October 5th

Live with Kelly Co-Host Contest Top 40 Contender: 2nd Video/Next Deadline, October 5th

I am so grateful for everyone who has been helping me out by liking, commenting on, and sharing my 1st video; since I made it to the Top 40 for Kelly Ripa’s Co-Host for a Day Contest, last Friday. After all, my chances of winning are definitely based on how the free market (that’s you) reacts to my video on Kelly’s website.

On October 5th, we’ll all find out if I made it to the next cut; to the Top 20. So in addition to how well my 1st video does based on the public’s views, comments, likes, and shares, my success in the contest will be based on my newest assignment:

Make a video to showcase my ability to demonstrate how to do something in 60 seconds or less, which also features my personality.

I would have chosen to feature my adorable 5 month-old daughter in the video, using the angle on me being a daddy blogger.

However, no one under the age of 18 was permitted in the video.

So I decided the next best choice was for me to feature my “Manly Vegan Protein Smoothie” which I invented 3 and a half years ago, and have been drinking every day since then.

I chose this for a couple of reasons…

It gave me a reason to feature my Rubik’s Cube coffee mug. Who wouldn’t think that’s cool?

Plus, there aren’t a lot of vegan males out there. Being such a rare demographic makes me stand out from the crowd.

But ultimately, it’s not about a smoothie; it’s about me selling my personality in 60 seconds; to prove that I can be both classy and quirky.

So on October 5th, we’ll see if I’m worthy of the Top 20. I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes.

Remember that n the meantime, here’s a reminder of how you can help me out, if you haven’t already:

  1. Click on this link to visit the LIVE with Kelly Facebook page
  2.  Once you’re there, “like” my video
  3.  Next, leave a comment on it, telling everyone how you know me and specifically why I would be the best choice
  4. After you’ve done that, share that link, promoting me as your top choice on your own Facebook page
  5.  Also, tweet that same link on Twitter as your choice: @nickshellwrites

At What Point Can I Admit My Kid Turned Out Fine, Having Never Been Spanked?

I’m used to being in the minority. I’ve typically always questioned what society’s acceptance and endorsement of what is deemed as normal and/or popular.

So it should be no surprise that I represent the minority percentage of American parents who does not spank my child.

Instead of spanking my 4 year-old son, I follow these simple guidelines I learned from back when I was Parents.com‘s official daddy blogger for those 3 years:

1. Ignore attention-seeking behavior.

2. Pay attention to good behavior.

3. Redirect your child.

4. Teach consequences that make sense.

5. Use time-outs for serious offenses.

I have no interest in trying to convert the majority, but I do believe it is relevant as a daddy blogger to show the other side of the story to those who are open-minded and/or curious.

Before I myself converted to the minority who doesn’t spank, I used to believe that “disciplining your child” and “spanking” had to be one in the same.

I feel that up until recently, there hasn’t been enough easily attainable, professional research on the subject.

So up until now, American tradition has overruled the possibility that not only is spanking less effective than “non-spanking child discipline”, but that spanking is indeed more likely to produce negative effects on the child. This is something I’ve covered before in “Is Spanking Actually More Effective Than The Alternative?“.

This point is also mentioned here below in this video featuring Robert Brooks, PhD Psychologist, featured on KidsInTheHouse.com (The World’s Largest Parenting Video Library)

With that being said, at what point can I admit my 4 year-old son turned out fine, having never been spanked?

As his dad, I am regularly told how well-behaved yet creative and full of joy my little boy is, by adults who teach him and watch him while I am not around.

He never gets in trouble at school. He’s a good kid. He’s intelligent. He’s not a brat.

That’s not to brag; instead, I’m saying that to demonstrate that my method of disciplining my son has been successful, and my method has never included spanking.

What age must he be before my method of discipline is accepted by mainstream America as effective? Do I have to wait until he’s a preteen or a teenager? Or should I wait until he’s lived a long life without a criminal record?

Is my son an exception to the rule? Or he is “just a good kid”? Or perhaps does my method of child discipline have something to do with him “just being a good kid”?

Must I proof that not spanking is effective by having more kids who all turn out to be good kids too? How many kids? At what point is my point legitimate?

As a parent, I am interested in using the most effective method out there; not necessarily the one that is most popular by tradition. For me, the evidence is right there in front of me every day when I see my son.

I would like to close with comedian Louis C.K.’s words on the matter.

Originally, I featured this in “I Find Louis C.K.’s Bit On Child Discipline Hard To Argue With“. Here’s a selection from his special, Hilarious:

“And stop hitting me, you’re huge. How could you hit me?! That’s crazy. You’re a giant, and I can’t defend myself.”I really think it’s crazy that we hit our kids. It really is–here’s the crazy part about it. Kids are the only people in the world that you’re allowed to hit. Do you realize that? They’re the most vulnerable, and they’re the most destroyed by being hit. But it’s totally okay to hit them. And they’re the only ones! If you hit a dog they… will put you in jail for that… You can’t hit a person unless you can prove that they were trying to kill you. But a little tiny person with a head this big who trusts you implicitly, f(orget) ‘em. Who (cares)? Just… hit–let’s all hit them! People want you to hit your kid. If your kid’s making noise in public, “Hit him, hit him! Hit him! Grrr, hit him!” We’re proud of it! “I hit my kids. You’re… right I hit my kids.” Why did you hit them? “‘Cause they were doing a thing I didn’t like at the moment. And so I hit them, and guess what? They didn’t do it after that.” Well, that wouldn’t be taking the… easy way out, would it?”

No matter what other parents choose for their own children, I can feel fully confident in my personal decision on not spanking. Thank you for your open-mindedness in reading my (unpopular) opinion on this much controversial topic.

At What Point Can I Admit My Kid Turned Out Fine, Having Never Been Spanked?