Dear Jack: Diggin’ Up Onions

9 years, 3 months.

Dear Jack,

While Nonna and Papa were in town a few weeks ago, you spent one afternoon with them digging up little wild onions in the community area of our neighborhood.

I had always wondered why often, it smells like onions when people mow their lawns. Now I know why- little wild onions are often growing in the lawn.

Once you collected several pounds of the wild onions, you washed them off over the sink. Your sister helped.

Now that I think of it, the two of you should have opened a “Wild Onion” stand in our neighborhood. Nothing like a refreshing wild onion on a crisp Spring morning!

Love,

Daddy

These are the Good Ole Days… We’re Still Living in Them (Original Song Included)

If 2019 was the year of my existential crisis (realizing I had reached all my life goals before the age of 40 and having to recalibrate my identity accordingly), then it feels like 2020 is going to be the year of me learning to accept that I have already lived the first half of my life.

Perhaps the biggest epiphany I’ve had about it so far is this:

I spent the first 38 years of my life looking back in nostalgia, foolishly convincing myself that somehow, one day, I will be able to return to the good ole days.

But I will spend the next 38 years aware that right now, we’re actually living in the good ole days that we will look back on and wish we could return to.

These are the good ole days. We’re still living in them.

The only possible way to return to previous good ole days is to spend time with people and share memories of those exclusive events you lived through together.

I think the default in the human experience is to fail to recognize it’s harder to recognize the good ole days while we are still in them, because we are always also balancing out the mundane and negative events happening alongside the good things.

In reality though, looking back, we tend to remember the good memories more than the others. Those good times serve as the thumbnails for our past.

That’s why I felt it was important to write my newest song, “These are the Good Days”.

It is a reminder to make the most of life while we still are alive; focusing on the good things, which are often overshadowed by the mundane and the negative.

You can hear my new song below:

All words and music by Nick Shell:

My life is half way over, my life has never been more in focus

No time machine to take us all back, what’s happened is stuck in the past

These are the good ole days, we’re still living in them

I won’t always be here, you won’t always be here

So shake a hand, shake a leg, soon we’ll all be dead

Don’t want to die, so I’ll try to live while I’m alive

This is it, these are the good ole days

You learn to take the good with the bad things

Life is both a comedy and a tragedy

No way to fast-forward or rewind

Just try to catch up if you get behind

Dear Jack: Diggin’ Up Bones (from Owl Pellets)

9 years, 3 months.

Dear Jack,

It is an unspoken understanding that anytime you have an extracurricular activity sponsored by your school, it will be just you and me. In most cases, Mommy stays home with your sister, getting her ready for her bedtime which is earlier than yours.

Or, in the case of the Super Bowl Breakfast last month, I dropped off your sister first, then ate with you and your school.

Last night, your school conducted his annual STREAM night, where every classroom in the school becomes a different science experience station.

Your favorite was the one where you got to dissect an “owl pellet.”

As I just happened to learn from one of your library books a few weeks ago, owls can’t actually chew up their food.

Instead, they just swallow it whole, digest the meat, then regurgitate a furball of bones.

After you dissected your first owl pellet, which turned to be the remains of a mole.

You enjoyed it so much, you then requested to dissect a 2nd owl pellet! You were the first and only student to make this request.

The 2nd owl pellet was for a shrew; an animal I can’t differentiate from a mole.

It is confirmed that in our kitchen pantry (not sure how that ended up being the most appropriate place!) there are now two plastic baggies containing the bones of two undigested rodents.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: Your Brother is Helping You Learn to Draw Animals

3 years, 10 months.

Dear Holly,

This past week at our house, we have been focusing more on manners.

I am very pleased with the results I have been seeing since.

Your brother has been very helpful in kindly teaching you how to use flashcards and how to draw on your magnetic tablet.

Yesterday morning as I was making a protein shake, I saw how he made up a fun game for you:

He provided 3 flashcards at a time; each one of a different animal. Then you chose one to draw.

It was precious. Every animal you drew was a smiley face with arms and legs growing out of it.

Except for the buffalo. They had antlers which looked like little arms on their heads.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: You Read Me Bible Stories While I Cooked Dinner

3 years, 10 months.

Yesterday evening after work, your brother chose to tag along with Mommy as she visited the chiropractor. To my surprise, you were totally okay with staying home with me as I prepared dinner.

So as I had a pot of water going for you and your brother’s Annie’ s mac and cheese, a pot of water for brown rice pasta for Mommy and me, and a skillet of hamburger meat I was cooking for the sauce, you remained the whole time on the living room chair with your children’s bible.

You were “reading” aloud through dozens of Bible stories, back to back:

“Then Jonah was in the big fish for 3 days and then Daniel saw the lions but they didn’t eat them, then David threw rocks at the big man, and then Jesus was in the cave…”

You specifically kept inserting “Judah” into many of the stories. I take it he was the go-to name to use when you didn’t recognize the character in the picture.

I am also assuming Judah is the name of one of your classmates.

You did a great job reading Bible stories to me while I cooked dinner. I am very proud of you.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: How You Avoided a Nap While Mommy and I Watched a Movie

9 years, 3 months.

Dear Jack,

Last Sunday, Mommy and I needed an hour to finish the second half of the movie we rented from Redbox. While it is not uncommon for you and your sister to need to take a nap on Sunday afternoon, it was apparent to me that you both were full of energy.

Therefore, I explained to you both that if you could independently figure out how to entertain yourself downstairs while Mommy and I finished the movie upstairs, I would let you forgo naps.

You both agreed to the deal.

An hour later, when our movie was over and we came downstairs, we found the source of your entertainment.

Using the Noah’s Ark tent your Uncle Al and Sharon got you several years ago, you and your sister collected as many blankets and pillows as you could find and filled it up.

Ultimately, it became something like a swimming pool.

You and your sister took turns running up to and attempting to jump high enough to jump inside.

It was a plan that came together. We’ll have to try this again sometime.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: Jenga by Candlelight

9 years, 3 months.

Dear Jack: Jenga by Candlelight

Dear Jack,

Exactly a week ago, Nonna was in town as your sister was still recovering from having the flu. That was the day when Mommy had to come home late, so by the time you got home from school, it was just the three of you as I drove home for work.

While I was still in the town over from where we live, I noticed all the street lights had stopped working. So by the time I got home, it was no surprise to see that our entire neighborhood was without power.

As the sun was quickly going down, Nonna lit a candle in the kitchen. You all played Jenga by candlelight.

Fortunately, you didn’t play too long by the time I arrived, before the power magically turned back on; right as it finally got completely dark outside.

Love,

Daddy