Dear Holly: Your Very 1st Haircut at Great Clips!

1 year, 1 month.

Dear Holly,

Since you turned one year-old back in April, your hair has been growing in strong. It didn’t take long before you had grown a baby mullet. Mommy and I saw no point in letting it get worse, just for the sake of, “Oh no, our baby girl is too young to get her first haircut…”

So this past Saturday morning, our entire family was there at 8:00 AM when the doors opened at Great Clips. All four of us got haircuts. Your brother and I got the same exact haircut. Mommy got a trim.

But as for our Little Goldie, you got the most noticeable haircut; almost like a longer version of a pixie haircut.

It was funny though, when I told the girl at the front desk what all of our names were for the list, they thought I said Hollywood for your name! That’s hilarious!

Mommy and I are so happy about your 1st haircut. You look so pretty.

I like the hairstyle because I know it’s designed to look good as it grows out, to help you transition into your hair growing longer. The proportions are right for that.

Now here is what’s truly amazing about your very first haircut: You never cried or got upset!

Anna, the girl who cut your hair, was completely confident in not only what she was doing, but also how to make you feel comfortable the whole time.

We didn’t even have to tell her how to cut it. She just knew, after we told her this was your first haircut.

As you sat on Mommy’s lap, Anna showed you the comb and let you feel it, so that you would know it was nothing that would hurt you.

 

Actually, you seemed to just like the all the action. By the time it was finished, you didn’t actually realize what had happened.

That was way too easy! I had expectations of you crying and screaming, and everyone in the place looking over at us. But, nope.

You had fun. And Mommy and I are not sad or sentimental about it all.

We are so happy our beautiful little girl got her first haircut.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: What I Learned from Father’s Day 2017

6 years, 7 months.

Dear Jack,

Father’s Day morning was quite special, as my very first gift was getting to sleep in, thanks to Mommy. I didn’t wake up until 9:30. It was glorious!

We then made our way to the living room, where I was bombarded with goodies from you and your sister. I now have a Captain America dad shirt. (He’s my favorite super hero.) Plus Mommy got me some vegan treats too.

And of course I was especially delighted to see crafts from you and your sister. You made me a special “shrinky dink” keychain, featuring a drawing you made of your and me; where you’ve again drawn us the same size. I’m so happy because I was a little jealous when Mommy got one for Mother’s Day last month…

Your sister made me a glittery “World’s Best Dad” award, based on the shape of her hand.

I took special care to read through all the questionnaire answers you gave,

as they reveal how you perceive having me as your Daddy:

My dad’s hair is black. (That’s darker than I realized!)

He’s as tall as a boy. (Are you saying I’m short?)

He weighs about 60 pounds. (Last time I checked, I was closer to 160. Guess I recently lost 100 pounds!)

My dad looks handsome when he wears hair gel. (I think you gave this answer because I fix your hair and mine at the same time.)

My dad always says “no.” (Hey, just trying to balance out how nice Mommy is to you. Though on the next page, you said, “My dad is my superhero because he is nice.”)

He’s not very good at cooking. Once Daddy was cooking before I was born and Mommy didn’t like it. (Very true- and very good memory!)

My dad’s favorite song is Metallica. (Yes, just Metallica. I’ll always think of you when I think of them because I really got into them back in January when I stayed overnight without you in the hospital, of all things!)

My dad’s favorite place to go is Whole Foods. (True, I’m there nearly every day, picking up groceries on my mountain bike during my lunch break.)

He always forgets… I don’t think he forgets anything. (True, unless it relates to where some obscure kitchen utensil goes in the drawer. In that case, I need Mommy to draw me a diagram with directions and instructions!)

He really likes to hike. (Yes! And I love the creative way you drew us hiking together, with our backs turned. That’s cool.)

My dad’s job is truck driving. (Actually, I’m the manager of the retention department for a trucking company- but that’s a mouthful!)

He likes to wear plaid shirts. (Right on, good eye!)

He reminds me of a bozo. (If you’re saying I’m funny, I’ll take the compliment!)

I love my dad because he plays Hungry Sharks with me. (Not only did I spent countless hours of our Christmas vacation earning you extra points on that game, it also was a game we took turns playing while you were in the hospital.)

Father’s Day really was special. It actually reminded me of a birthday or something.

I very much enjoyed celebrating fatherhood with you and your sister, and gaining your personal perspective.

Love,

Daddy

Our Family’s 1st Visit to the Nashville Zoo, as a Family of 4

The original plan was to take our daughter Holly to the Nashville Zoo on her 1st birthday back in April…

But between the rainy weather that weekend, and her being sick the next weekend, and our family being out of town after that, it took until this month to finally make our family’s first visit to the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere, as a family of four.

It actually suddenly made sense though, to buy an annual family zoo pass, since it pays for itself by the 3rd visit. We live in Spring Hill, which is about a 45 minute drive for us; not so bad of a trek.

It pretty much takes at least that long to get anywhere in the Nashville area anyway, if you’re lucky.

Something I didn’t realize was how much the Nashville Zoo has expanded since the last time our family was there, a couple of years ago when we were only a family of three.

They have this new swinging rope bridge that our whole family loved, for starters.

Our 6 and a half year-old son Jack was pleasantly surprised to see the Nashville Zoo now has a Komodo Dragon. To him, that’s one of the most fascinating animals, because it’s ultimately a living dinosaur.

He also really liked seeing the porcupines, which I don’t remember from our last visit back when he was only about 3 years old. His hair actually looks like a porcupine, right?

Which, speaking of, Jack was so excited to be able to feel an actual porcupine quill. Coincidentally, the high school intern who showed him the quill was also named Jack.

Oh! And the kangaroos…

The last time I had taken Jack to the Nashville Zoo, the kangaroo exhibit had just opened. He obviously was in his element, being able to pet the tame kangaroos.

I also don’t remember him being able to see the giant turtles up close until this time either. He could have chilled out with those guys all day!

As for our daughter Holly, she was equally thrilled by the whole experience. She is currently fascinated by any kind of animals, especially birds. Right now she’s working real hard on trying to say the word bird. So it was a big deal to see big birds up so close.

I think in her mind, every other kind of animal is basically a mouse, a cat, or a dog. She loved pointing at each new creature she discovered.

Perhaps by default, her favorite bird was the flamingo. Why wouldn’t it be? A giant, funny, pink bird… perfect.

So naturally, her souvenir was a small stuffed animal version of one.

As for Jack, he choose a clouded leopard, as ultimately, that was the animal he was most enthralled by during this visit.

We were at the zoo for only two hours and only saw half of place. Good thing we have a year-long pass.

Obviously, we had so much fun and are looking forward to our next visit. And yes, it’s a complete coincidence that our last name is Shell, and the zoo just happens to have a section now called The Shell Station. (In case you were wondering.)

As for our next visit, maybe we’ll get around to sharing our experience in seeing the other half of the Nashville Zoo.

Dear Holly: You are My Golden Senorita who Loves Munching on Tortillas

1 year, 1 month.

Dear Holly,

I doubt most people would guess it, but you are indeed part Mexican. My grandmother’s parents were born in Michoacán, which is in southeast Mexico. She was born in Buffalo, New York, but was completely Mexican. So Nonna is half Mexican, I am a quarter, and you are 1/8th.

You’re 12 and half percent Mexican. Of course, your golden hair sure doesn’t help imply that. Nor your blue eyes. Nor your fair skin.

But if nothing else, you have definitely been showing your Mexican roots in that you are currently obsessed with Tortilla Land brand tortillas.

I like them because right there on the package, it says there are only 5 ingredients: wheat flour, water, canola oil, salt, sugar. No unpronounceable chemicals or preservatives. Plus, I can eat them because they are vegan.

Mommy gets them at Kroger, which is where we buy most of our groceries each week.

You just can’t get enough of these tortillas. I love watching you use your little figures try to aggressively grab the little morsels that Mommy and I tear for you. You quickly stuff them in your mouth as if each time were the last time.

Of course, your brother regularly eats them for breakfast, so I suppose there is indeed some legitimate concern that we could run out of these tortillas before you’re ready for another one.

And Mommy makes quesadillas out of them as well. She uses avocado instead of cheese, since I can’t have dairy.

I’ve been trying to get your brother into spicy foods, but he thinks black pepper is spicy. So if I can’t convert him, maybe I can convert you. I need to have at least one kid who can appreciate spicy food.

Perhaps it all starts with a 1 year-old little girl’s fascination with tortillas.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: You are Trying Violin Lessons for the Summer

6 and a half years.

Dear Jack,

A couple of weeks ago as our family was driving down the Interstate, your sister was having a hard time falling asleep that morning. Mommy turned the radio station to 91.1, which is the classical musical station.

You call it “the violins.”

During the time it took to get your sister to sleep, you were staring out the window listening to the music. To my surprise, you sincerely enjoyed what you were hearing.

You expressed this out loud.

Within a few minutes, you proclaimed to Mommy that you would like to learn to play the violin.

Well, it was an easy sell.

It’s the summer. You’re a very intelligent boy. You need something challenging and productive to do to keep your brain engaged in things beyond shark and dragon games on the Kindle.

So this week, I took you to a performance center, just around the corner from our house where they teach violin lessons. How convenient!

We got you fitted for your violin. You’ll be starting your lessons soon!

Granted, Mommy and I are just having you try this out for the summer. We’re not expecting you to become a prodigy at this. You may decide by the end of the summer that this just violin thing just isn’t for you.

We are just so proud of you for wanting to take on this challenge, on your own. You have truly been so excited for the weeks leading up to this.

Who knows? Maybe you will truly end up committing to it. Maybe you’ll continue playing the violin beyond the summer of 2017. Maybe this will even led to you playing other instruments as well.

A 6 and a half year-old boy who is genuinely excited about learning to play the violin. Seriously, how cool.

Love,

Daddy

This is 36: I Hate Onset Diabetes Enough to Prevent It (Inside the Mind of a Crazy Vegan Dad!)

Something peculiar I have learned over the years about my active, plant-based lifestyle is this:

The most outspoken (and predictable) demographic who opposes my lifestyle consists of overweight men who have onset diabetes.

When they learn I don’t eat meat, dairy, eggs, or drink soda, and that I haven’t for over 4 years, they scoff at the concept. They basically mock me for “not getting enough protein.” They insinuate that because my kids are vegetarians, I am depriving them of proper nutrition as well. They have clearly told me on multiple occasions that there is no way I can possibly be healthy, since I am a vegan.

Have you processed the irony yet? These claims about my health are coming from overweight men with onset diabetes.

People who are officially not healthy are confidently telling me how unhealthy I am.  What?!

No other demographic is more openly opposed to how I live my life.

I don’t argue with them, though. I choose to let them continue to believe their version of reality. I am so confident in my beliefs, that I have no desire to try to convince them that my way is superior to theirs.

My motivation is to not become like them, in both their closed-mindedness and in their physically unhealthy state of being.

For me it’s pretty simple. I know that both an increased intake of processed sugar and meat lead not only to onset diabetes, but also prostate cancer.

I refuse to become another stereotype 20 years from now.

Therefore, I eat only plant-based foods, just 6 “food groups”:

Vegetables, fruits, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds.

I consume zero percent of my daily cholesterol (which is a default of the vegan lifestyle), while still consuming at least my minimum of daily protein and fat intake. My doctor has confirmed I am healthy and getting enough protein; and that I am healthier than most men my age.

Not to mention, I am perfectly in the healthy weight range for my age, height and weight. In other words, I am neither underweight nor overweight.

But what I eat is only 80% of it. The other 20% of what helps me avoid prevent diseases and health issues is the fact that I faithfully exercise and work out.

Being the busy full-time working husband, dad, blogger, and YouTuber that I am, I make my hour long lunch break at work my time to work out.

It’s basically a Triathlon of running 2 miles, along with either mountain biking or skateboarding.

This particularly diet and workout plan is what works for me personally. Before I became the crazy vegan, I was not consistently happy with my health.

I have nothing to prove to overweight men with onset diabetes.

I only have something to prove to myself:

That I indeed have much control over preventable diseases and health problems.

-Nick Shell, vegan, age 36

 

Top photo: Jasmine Moreno

 

If you found this blog post mildly intriguing, then you will definitely enjoy…

Top 10 Reasons My “Diet” is Consistently Successful and I am Still Healthy & Fit at Age 36 (from a Non-Vegan, Non-Vegetarian Perspective)

7 Intriguing Science Experiments for Your Kids (By Guest Blogger, Sandra Cobain, of Best for the Kids)

As we all know, getting our kids to take an interest in school and lessons and homework and all the rest is a complete nightmare. Going through my kid’s textbooks, dated from at least five years ago, all I could see was boring diagrams, tedious equations and faded pictures. It’s no wonder that kid’s these days play up in school because they find it so hard to engage in lessons.
One of biggest subjects my kids find it hard to get into is science. Whether it’s biology, physics or chemistry, the long words, meanings and just the overall concepts can be extremely difficult to explain, especially to a child. Fortunately, this doesn’t have to be the case.

By putting the infographic below from BestForTheKids.com to good use, you will be able to stimulate your children’s minds, showing them how fun and exciting science can be with these seven simple experiments:

 

• The Fire-Proof Balloon
• The Straw Through the Potato Experiment
• The Water Defying Gravity Experiment
• The Egg & Toothpaste Experiment
• The Tea Bag Rocket Experiment
• The Turning Pennies Green Experiment
• The Making Fake Snow Experiment
These are all incredibly easy experiments that you can conduct in the comfort of your own home and they’re sure to leave your kids stunned and excited. Who knew science could be so fun? All these experiments are incredibly fun and will help you introduce your child to the wonderful world of science!
 

Infographic by BestForTheKids.com