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

Advertisements

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!

The Big 50 Foot Long Slide at Mission Hills Park in Pleasanton, California (Featuring the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport) by Nick Shell

As our family finished up our 2 week-long vacation road trip in northern California, we drove the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport from Walnut Grove to Pleasanton, where our kids got to enjoy the playgrounds at Mission Hills Park.

It was such a nice drive, as we saw the countless solar windmills for much of the way. There is so much beauty in the top half of the state of California, which often is not the region people tend to think of when they hear where my wife is from.

The kids also liked the fact that the entire roof of the Outlander was a giant window. It was almost like a ride at Disney, in a way.

The main attraction at the city park was the giant, 50 foot slide; the kind I remember from back in the 1980s when I was my son’s age. These days, it’s rare to see such a tall, metal slide like that.

(To put it into perspective, the standard length of a dry van trailer pulled by an 18 wheeler is 53 feet long.)

My son quickly learned the best way to go down the slide was to lay down, like it was a luge. The slide was up so high, we were up there with the trees!

Here’s a little video I made, in the moment:

To my amazement, my 2 year-old daughter even insisted she get to try out the slide. So I held her hand and walked alongside her as she slid down, quite slowly, with me moderating her speed.

Granted, the rest of the playground equipment was great, as well. There were actually two main playgrounds; one for older kids like my 7 and a half year-old son, including a climbing wall and ropes course.

For younger kids like my daughter, there was a separate playground across the park which was more appropriate for her age.

So if you happen to be driving anywhere near Pleasanton, California and have some adventurous children with restless energy, I definitely recommend you stopping by Mission Hills Park.

The big slide is so cool!

Have you read all 3 of my blog posts featuring my family’s road trip to Lake Tahoe in the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport? Here’s a table of contents just to be sure. Click on the title of the blog post you would like to see:

Family Reunion in Lodi, California 
Family Road Trip to Lost Worlds Adventures in Livermore, California
The Big 50 Foot Long Slide at Mission Hills Park in Pleasanton, California

Family Road Trip to Lost Worlds Adventures in Livermore, California (Featuring the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport) by Nick Shell

Sometimes as a parent, you end up having to settle for the back-up plan; or even the back-up plan of the back-up plan, but as long as you’re with the people you love, you just might have a great time anyway. You may even get more than you expected, in a good way!

That is exactly what happened last week while I was out in northern California with my family. My wife and I had planned a trip to the Santa Cruz boardwalk, where we had taken our son nearly 3 years ago.

But after learning from our experience the week before that our 2 year-old daughter was getting burned out on so much travel (after all, we had flown in from Tennessee), we decided to find a closer carnival destination; as Santa Cruz is nearly 2 and a half hours away from where we were staying with my mother-in-law in Walnut Grove.

It just so happened that there was a County Fair going on in Pleasanton, just about an hour and 20 minutes away; which would shave an hour or so off of our originally planned travel time.

That way, our kids could still get their fill of games and rides, like at the boardwalk in Santa Cruz. But after my wife bought the tickets to the County Fair on Groupon and we actually drove there, we learned that the fair didn’t actually open until Wednesday: We were there on Monday.

After getting a refund on our tickets online, my wife found a place called Lost Worlds Adventures. So we drove the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport just 6 miles down to the road to the neighboring town of Livermore.

Fate would have it, our family had just as much fun at Lost Worlds Adventures as we would have had at the Santa Cruz boardwalk, or the County Fair… if not more.

Not to mention, it was actually less expensive than both of those plans, as well!

Fortunately, the whole place was dinosaur themed. For a 7 and a year-old boy who’s currently very excited about seeing Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, that served as the perfect ambiance.

We started things off with a fun game of glow-in-the-dark miniature golf. I’m pretty sure our son won, though we weren’t keeping score.

Then we gave our son $20 to spend on games; in which points were earned to earn prizes at the end. I am amazed by how much we got for that amount of money.

Not only did our 2 year-old daughter enjoy playing the games for free on demo mode, as she didn’t know the difference anyway, she also got to help her brother roll the ball for the Milk Jug Toss and Skee-Ball.

However, our son had to explain to her, “Holly, you can’t just crawl up and drop the ball in…”

And speaking of our son Jack, he made out quite well as far as earning points for prizes. He stumbled upon a game called Big Bass Wheel Pro, where the concept was that the harder you pulled the lever down, the harder the wheel spun, and therefore the more points you earned.

But we realized pretty quickly that A) what value the spinner landed on was completely random, and B) the game seemed to just keep giving my son bonus spins for no reason. So in the likeness of pushing the button in the Swan station on the TV show LOST, my son and I starting taking turns pulling the lever, to keep the game going, and therefore, the points racking up.

So with the 2,240 points my son earned (most of which were from the same game), he was able to get his very first Care Bear, along with a couple of planes and balls and squishy toys. In addition to a pig whose eyes popped out when it is squeezed and some stickers, my daughter was very proud of her poop emoji purse and matching plush poop emoji key chain.

Yep, that’s what she chose, so we didn’t turn her down.

Yes, sometimes life is about the back-up plan of a back-up plan. And great times were had by all!

Have you read all 3 of my blog posts featuring my family’s road trip to Lake Tahoe in the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport? Here’s a table of contents just to be sure. Click on the title of the blog post you would like to see:

Family Reunion in Lodi, California 
Family Road Trip to Lost Worlds Adventures in Livermore, California
The Big 50 Foot Long Slide at Mission Hills Park in Pleasanton, California

Family Reunion in Lodi, California (Featuring the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport) by Nick Shell

My wife is the 9th of 10 kids. That means that nearly 10 years ago when we got married, I instantly became an uncle to more nephews and nieces than I can count; even still today!

Every summer, we take a trip out to northern California where my wife is from, which ultimately leads to a family gathering or two.

This year, it was an all-out official family reunion; which happened to take place in a city made famous by a 1969 Creedence Clearwater Revival song, “Lodi”.

The town is just a 30 minute drive from where we were staying with my mother-in-law in Walnut Grove. This made our first outing in the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport we had for our 2nd week in California.

What was most interesting to me about the family reunion was how independent our 7 and a half year-old son was. I toted around our 2 year-old daughter most of the time, while keeping watch on our son, who was constantly migrating with his older teenage cousins.

In fact, at the end of our 2 week trip to California, I asked my son what his favorite part of the entire vacation was. His instant response: “Probably the park with all the family.”

I can appreciate that he enjoyed sort of tagging along with the older kids and that they totally engaged him the entire time.

Whereas I have one child who is still understandably in need of constant attention and direction, my other child is finding his identity in spending time with other people. This is a good challenge for him; I can clearly see this as part of his character development.

It was also great that one of my sister-in-law’s family was staying with us at my mother-in-law’s house. Therefore, it was almost like my wife and I had two free baby babysitters the whole time: a 15 year-old and a 19 year-old.

Whether it was the old bouncy house in my mother-in-law’s backyard, or the hot tub, or just playing with retro toys leftover from the 1980s, both of my kids had some awesome cousins to entertain them.

Needless to say, every summer vacation we have out in California is a family reunion; by default.

Have you read all 3 of my blog posts featuring my family’s road trip to Lake Tahoe in the 2018 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport? Here’s a table of contents just to be sure. Click on the title of the blog post you would like to see:

Family Reunion in Lodi, California 
Family Road Trip to Lost Worlds Adventures in Livermore, California
The Big 50 Foot Long Slide at Mission Hills Park in Pleasanton, California