Dear Holly: You Just Have So Much to Say These Days!

2 years, 7 months.

Dear Holly,

It is very obvious that your social skills are in full bloom. You are speaking so many words now and initiating so many conversations these days, that in can be challenging for Mommy and me to keep up with you.

In particular, the hour between the time I get home from work and the time dinner is ready can be a bit complicated.

While Mommy and I try to catch up after not seeing each other all day as she is making dinner, and while we also do our best to include your brother in the conversation, you are needing to meet your daily word quota during the midst of it. You have so much to say to us!

Your brother has been helping us out, though. He’s been sharing his toys with you to help keep you occupied and focused.

He even let you hang out in his new box that contained his new bunk bed we ordered. You are just so social and full of energy!

Love,

Daddy

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Dear Jack: Your Thanksgiving Lizard

8 years.

Dear Jack,

When I think back on what seemed to make you the happiest over our family’s extended Thanksgiving weekend at Nonna and Papa’s house in Alabama, I would definitely have to say it was when you caught a lizard in a pile of leaves in the back yard.

You loved him so much, that it made leaving quite difficult.

First, Mommy and I had to explain to you how unlikely he would stay alive if we took him back home to Tennessee.

Then we explained to you that he couldn’t simply live as a captive pet in the garage either. It was very sad for you to have to say goodbye.

Yet still, he brought you a lot of joy- and that’s what matters more.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Your Thanksgiving American Standard Toilet Box

2 years, 7 months.

Dear Holly,

I assisted Papa in installing two new toilets at his house while we stayed there for Thanksgiving:

One upstairs and one downstairs.

By the time the one upstairs was finished, I came back down to see that Nonna had cut out a hole for you to stand through.

If only we had unboxed the toilets at the beginning of the holiday weekend… now I wish we had.

That’s because the toilet box made the perfect little house for you.

Not only could you peek out of the top, but you also were able to pretend to sleep inside of it.

To think- not just a box…

but a toilet box!

Love,

Daddy

 

Dear Jack: This is My Favorite Picture of You This Week, Throwing a Sea Cucumber Back into the Ocean

8 years.

Dear Jack,

For me, this picture of you perfectly captures who you are now, at age 8.

It was our first morning out on the beach last week in Destin to celebrate your birthday. The beach was covered in sea cucumbers, most of them appearing to still be alive, but barely.

I suggested that you throw as many as you could back into the sea.

Fortunately, you had your trusty shovel with you, which served as the perfecting launching pad.

While I’m not sure how many lives you saved that morning, I do know that the ones you threw back definitely stood a better chance of survival, had you not come along to rescue them.

I think it’s really cool how in this picture, not only is the landscape beautiful in a way not typically associated with Florida, but how you can see the sea cucumber flying through the air as the immediate result of your throw, still in motion.

This is a memory that I will always associate with your 8th birthday.

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!

Our Family’s DESTINation Family Road Trip for Our 8 Year Old Son’s Birthday, in the 2019 Chevy Traverse AWD Premier

My wife and I gave our son a choice: Would you want to have your 8th birthday party here in Nashville with your friends? Or… would you choose to go on a road trip to Destin, Florida with your family for half a week?

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Turns out, my son is a smart kid. Yeah, he chose the Florida road trip.

I admit: Being a daddy blogger has its perks- like Chevy loaning us a 2019 Traverse AWD Premier with a full tank of gas.

The very first time I worked with Chevy was 7 years ago when our family got to drive a Volt from Naples to Key West. That was also around the time Chevy sent me to Detroit with a bunch of other daddy bloggers to tour the facility where the Traverse is tested and built.

Seven years ago, my son was only one year old. Now he has a 2 and a half year old sister. Therefore, the Chevy Traverse is that much more relevant to our family. It just so happened that the main gift our son asked for was a new Kindle- and the Traverse came equipped with WiFi!

Perfect for a long road trip, for sure.

We totally appreciated all the cargo space, as we sort of overpacked by default, hauling not only swimming clothes along with winter clothes, but also our son’s birthday presents.

When we go on long road trips like this one (7 hours), the kids appreciate being in their own rows. Our daughter can fall asleep easier and our son gets to be in his own world. And up front, the parents actually get to have some uninterrupted conversations while SiriusXM’s Alt Nation plays in the background.

It’s always a gamble when staying in hotels overnight with a 2 and a half year old, but fortunately where we stayed at the Pelican Beach Resort, our daughter absolutely loved her “room”, as she called it: She occupied the bottom of the bunk beds which were built into the walls; each bed having it’s own TV.

Oh, and then there was the beach itself…

By the way, in case you didn’t catch it, the picture above is a play on words: Our last name is Shell and there are 4 of us!

Leading up to our son opening his birthday gifts, I hid a “gold bar” in the sand for him to find. However, he immediately figured out it was just a toy I planted there.

Here’s the video I made as it happened:

As for his birthday cake, we simply pressed the OnStar button and had the directions to Whole Foods sent to our GPS, and let our son pick out a gourmet cupcake for himself; meanwhile my wife and I shared one ourselves.

So this is what happens when as the parents, you decide that helping your child celebrate their birthday is more fun if you have a “DESTINation” road trip instead of a typical birthday party.

The right decision was definitely made here!

Thanks for reading my blog today. If you liked this story about our family’s recent road trip to Destin in the 2019 Chevy Traverse, stay tuned… I have a sequel blog post with more pictures and stories from our adventure!

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