Dear Holly: This is My Favorite Picture of You This Week, Lounging Like a Preteen in the Backseat

2 and a half years.

Sometimes after I take a picture of you, I see you in a different way than I have before. This was the case when I snapped a picture of you last week while we were on our family trip to Destin in the 2019 Chevy Traverse.

Even though you are only 2 and a half, in that picture, I easily catch a glimpse of you years from now:

Relaxed, having fun, just chilling out while looking so cute.

Behind my jacket which is hanging over the top of your seat, you can see some of our shopping bags from when we went to the outlets.

It’s as if I am seeing you a decade from now, on the way back from you getting to spend all your own birthday money on clothes.

I love this picture.

Love,

Daddy

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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

Should You Buy Electric Cars for Kids: Considerations Before Buying One 

Are you struggling with your Christmas or birthday gift shopping for your kids? Have you taken a look at those electric cars in toy stores? Well, they are an excellent gift, and it’ll be terrifically fun for kids to play with them.

Typically, these electric cars are designed for kids ten years old and below. If you’re seriously thinking about giving your child an electric car, here are things to consider and look out for.

  1. Maximum Rider Weight 

Every electric car has a maximum rider weight indicated in their specifications. You may want to purchase electric cars for kids with some leeway for the weight, not exactly the same as the current weight range of your child. Children grow quickly, and you’d want to get something that your child will enjoy using for a long time. Hence, it’s recommended that you get an electric car with a higher maximum rider weight figure for your child.

  1. Parental Remote Control

Another useful feature to look out for is the parental remote control. For newer models, electric cars feature a parental remote control that allows adults to take control of the electric cars. This feature is specially built for those youngsters who are not as well coordinated as the older ones.

The parental remote control allows the usual forward and reverse gears with steering capabilities. Once the kids are able to drive and control their own electric cars, parents can stop using the parental remote control.

  1. Charging and Running Times

Similar to cell phones or laptops, electric cars for kids also have charging and running times that you may want to check. Some less pricey models have small batteries, which means they can only be used for a short time and they need to be charged again. You may want to get an electric toy car with bigger batteries, so your child can have uninterrupted play times. As expected, longer running times may mean longer charging times and a higher price tag.

  1. Safety

Of course, it is very important that your child remains safe while he rides his electric toy car. Here are some of the things you should check in a toy car:

  • Safety belts
  • Functional breaks
  • Material and build
  • Customer reviews

Generally, once these toy electric cars are in general toy stores, they are practically safe. But, it would not hurt to do a little more research on the brand reputation and ask friends or family about their experience with the brand just to make sure.

  1. Price Points

This goes without saying. Consider the price of the electric toy car before purchasing it. Here’s what you can do:

  • Look at the specifications and compare different kinds of cars before you make that purchase, especially when you are on a budget. Some electric cars have a higher price tag but provide fewer specifications. There may also be specifications in the toy car that your child wouldn’t need, and you can save some money by buying a more affordable one with fewer specifications but nevertheless works just as fine.
  • Explore a bunch of toy stores, preferably with your spouse, to make a better decision on which ones to purchase.
  • Make sure that the electric car you are buying includes a warranty from the manufacturer.

An electric toy car is definitely an extravagant gift for your child, and as such you want to make a sound buying decision to get your money’s worth. Take note of the considerations above when gift shopping for an electric toy car so you can give the most exciting and memorable gift that your child truly deserves.

  

Photos: Shutterstock

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!