Dear Holly: Your Gymnastics Lesson of a Birthday Party

3 years.

Dear Holly,

For your official 3rd birthday party, we booked you a gymnastics lesson at the rec center right around the corner from our house.

You loved being able to get an idea of what gymnastics is like; alongside your party friends.

The lesson actually took place while the parents socialized in the room down the hall. Then, when it was time, we all came in to see you and your party friends individually trek through the obstacle course.

I’m glad we chose this for your birthday party. It was so appropriate for a 3 year-old little girl!

Love,

Daddy

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Dear Jack: You Helped Your Sister Open Her Birthday Presents

8 years, 5 months.

Dear Jack,

A week ago for your sister’s birthday, you asked her if she wanted help opening her presents from Mommy and me. She accepted your offer, without hesitation.

You were genuinely happy for her for each new gift she opened.

Granted, I don’t believe there were any toys that you would even be interested in playing with.

You just wanted to do your part in helping your celebrate her 3rd birthday.

And you definitely did help make her big day feel that much more special, because you were right there next to her during the whole thing.

Love,

Daddy

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!

Dear Jack: You’ll Be Turning 8 Years Old Next Month!

7 years, 10 months.

Now that it’s October, it occurred to me: You’ll be turning 8 next month!

Just like for your 5th birthday, you have chosen a family road trip to Destin, Florida; instead of a birthday party.

Considering that we’ll be staying for free using hotel points and that Chevy will be sending us a Suburban filled with a full tank of gas, we’ll actually be able to have a pretty amazing road trip cheaper than it would cost to throw you a birthday party around here in Nashville.

I think you’re making a very smart decision. Why have a party when you can have a road trip with the fam?

 

Dear Jack,

Love,

Daddy

Dear Holly: A Father’s Letter to His Daughter on Her 2nd Birthday

2 years old!

Dear Holly,

Today our family celebrates your 2nd birthday. We are so proud to have you in our lives; not just Mommy and me feel that way, but of course, your brother too!

I suppose nothing quite makes it official like being able to upgrade to your “big girl bed”. As the parent with the super power of being able to get you to sleep each night, I admit that selfishly, I just wanted you to keep sleeping in your crib.

The thought of your routine being interrupted by taking off the side panel of your crib sort of terrified me! Because I knew it meant you could get out of bed on your own…

But all it took has about 45 minutes of practice for the both of us.

I learned that you needed a couple minutes of me holding you, with your head on my shoulder as I patted and rubbed your back; then doing the same thing after I tucked you in.

The thought of sleeping in a new bed seemed less scary to you after you fell asleep in it for the first time- and the same goes for me, too!

I’m no longer intimidated by the thought of having to teach you again how to fall asleep on your own.

It really helped that Mommy picked out some special new “big girl” bedding for your new bed. You are so proud to sleep in your “new” bed!

So now, when we go to California this summer, it will hopefully be an easier transition for you to fall asleep wherever you are; as opposed to depending on a certain crib.

While I’m uncertain how long I’ll be able to remain a stay-at-home dad, I want to say that I am so grateful for these past 6 months that I’ve had with you.

I know that years from now, you won’t remember it specifically; but I will.

It is a gift to me from you that I have been able to be around my precious little girl so much.

I love you Holly!

Love,

Daddy

Today is My 37th Birthday, Meaning I’m Now in My Late 30s and Officially Pushing 40… And I’m Very Happy About It!

In a way, birthdays are sort of funny to me. It’s almost like “Happy Birthday” translates as “congratulations on not dying so far”; especially the further along you get to certain milestone years, like 40, which I’m now officially pushing.

But my mom, who turned 60 last week, has always been the perfect example of what it means to age with grace; to embrace and celebrate every year you’ve shared with the people who love on this planet.

I am now officially in my late 30s. And I am very happy about that.

No, I would not wish to be younger. Because I am now too reliant on all the wisdom I’ve earned by being alive 37 years.

I’m sure I used to, but I no longer fantasize about going back in time with the knowledge I have now.

That’s ridiculous. Instead, it’s about using that knowledge to make the most of the rest of my life.

What are some of these nuggets of wisdom I’ve learned in my 30s?

It’s always a personal decision whether or not you let other people offend or insult you.

Likewise, it’s always a choice whether you forgive another person. But if you take responsibility over your own emotions and don’t let the rest of the world have control over how you feel, then there’s much less need to forgive other people anyway.

I’ve learned that the default of the human experience is to allow yourself to be the victim. But it’s a proactive choice to decide to be a victor instead.

Maybe those things sound like Joel Osteen’s leftovers, but to me, they are trophies. Applying that knowledge has undeniably improved my quality of life.

And no, I didn’t learn those things from a pastor of a megachurch or a multi-million dollar motivational speaker.

I learned them from surviving my early and mid 30s. I learned them the hard way.

I lived it. I earned it. I value it.

So you can imagine, I’ve very excited about using that psychological gold for the rest of my 30s.

Alright, 40s, here I come!

Dear Jack: A Dad’s Letter to His Son on His 7th Birthday

7 years old today!

Dear Jack,

It was still completely dark outside this morning when you walked into the bedroom and quietly asked me, “Daddy, can I open some of my birthday presents now?”

As your sister munched on a waffle, you preceded to unwrap your gifts from Mommy and me; all of which were explicitly Pokemon-themed.

This marks your first birthday in which stuffed animals nor Lego blocks were part of the excitement. No way. You’re seven now. This is serious stuff:

Everything is Pokemon!

Out of all the money spent on your birthday gifts, you appeared most excited and proud of the Pokemon binder we got you to hold all your cards. That was less than 10 dollars well spent!

You even asked me, “Daddy, how did you and Mommy get my name on the folder?”

I didn’t spell out how simple a concept it actually was; that the binder and the sheets only cost a few bucks each from WalMart and that Mommy simply printed off the Pikachu picture and then typed “Jack’s Pokemon Cards” from our printer.

As you spouted off a constant news reel for the rest of the morning about all the Pokemon cards you now have, I heard you say you were “organizing all the Pokemon cards according to how they evolve” and that you now have around 400 cards.

Mommy and I visited you for lunch today at school, just a few hours later. You told us that you had already traded some of the cards you got this morning for your birthday from us.

And I guess that’s the whole point- it’s fun to trade them, even just hours after getting new ones!

We are so proud to have you as our son. You are one intelligent and creative boy. Out of all the little boys in the whole entire world, we’d pick you every single time.

Happy Birthday, Jack.

Love,

Daddy

Dear Jack: A Dad’s Letter to His Son on His 2nd Birthday

Dear Jack: A Dad’s Letter to His Son on His 3rd Birthday

Dear Jack: A Dad’s Letter to His Son on His 4th Birthday

Dear Jack: A Dad’s Letter to His Son on His 5th Birthday

Dear Jack: A Dad’s Letter to His Son on His 6th Birthday