Dear Holly: The Picture Mommy Secretly Took of Us Sleeping

7 weeks.

Dear Holly: The Picture Mommy Secretly Took of Us Sleeping

Dear Holly,

I did a particular household chore over the weekend that I never look forward to doing: the tedious and unforgiving task of uploading the hundreds of photos from both Mommy’s phone as well as mine; then making separate folders for them to upload to our external hard drive.

(It’s not the simple cut and dry process it should be, nor is the transfer as instant as I would like.)

In doing this, I finally saw a picture that Mommy secretly took of us; back from when you were just a few days old.

I had been sitting on the floor, holding you in attempt to help you get to sleep. Then as my back became sore from hunching over, I laid back on the carpet, while keeping you in a nest of blankets, with my legs crossed “Indian style”.

Dear Holly: The Picture Mommy Secretly Took of Us Sleeping

Apparently my method was quite efficient, because we both fell deep asleep. That’s how Mommy easily sneaked over and snapped a picture of us with her phone.

It happened in the midst of first days of having bringing a newborn home from the hospital that as a parent, I don’t really remember too many details surrounding the event. Everything was just a haze at the time.

After I saw the picture this weekend, I informed Mommy that my favorite radio station, WAY-FM, is holding a contest in which moms are sending in photos of their husbands with their kids, for a Father’s Day.

So obviously, this photo has now been sent. I’m sure we won’t win, but it’s worth a shot. (The prize is a $1,000.)

If nothing else, it’s fun to be able to see this picture. Though I really don’t like uploading the pictures from our phones, at least I was able to unearth this gem.

It was totally worth the work for that reason alone, if nothing else.



Dear Holly or Logan: Your First Family Pictures, in the Womb

14 weeks.

Dear Holly or Logan: Your First Family Pictures, in the Womb

Dear Holly or Logan,

Last October, our family started a new family tradition. For about two months of each year, our family has matching ages.

Mommy and I were born within a year of each other, as were your Aunt Dana and Uncle Andrew, as were your brother Jack and your cousin Calla; and now, most recently, as will be you and your cousin Darla.

So the tradition is that during that 2 months of each calendar year, we take a picture together in Alabama where everyone else lives, to recognize this.

As you can see, your Aunt Dana is 8 months pregnant with your cousin Darla. Mommy is 14 weeks pregnant with you right now; nearly 3 months pregnant.

Dear Holly or Logan: Your First Family Pictures, in the Womb

The next time we’re all planning on being together is Thanksgiving weekend, which is about 2 weeks after your brother Jack’s 5th birthday.

But as for right now, Mommy and I are 34 years old, your Aunt Dana and Uncle Andrew are 31, your brother Jack and cousin Calla are 4, and you and your cousin Darla are still in the womb; which I labelled as “0” years old.

Your Aunt Dana is due with your cousin Darla on Thanksgiving Day. There’s a very good chance your cousin will have just been born by the time we arrive there for the holiday.

But at the same time, there’s even a chance we may not even meet Darla at all during Thanksgiving weekend; that is, if she is born a week past her due date, like your brother Jack was.

This week Mommy officially bought maternity clothes to accompany her body changing, as you grow inside the womb.

Hopefully, some of her nausea will cease as we enter the 2nd trimester.

As for you, you are having a party in there; rocking the boat for Mommy inside.




Dear Jack: It’s Amazing You Drew That/Hot Air Balloons Overhead In Nashville

3 years, 11 months.

Dear Jack: It's Amazing You Drew That/Hot Air Balloons Overhead In Nashville

Dear Jack,

Today as I was driving to pick you up from KinderCare, I noticed two hot air balloons on the lawn next to the road; about a block away from your school.

As soon as I walked out to the playground where you were, your teacher Ms. Michelle made a point to show me your amazing work of art.

Seriously, I’m so impressed by this monster truck you drew today after you woke up from your nap. Ms. Michelle assured me you received no help from anyone, nor did you use stencils or anything like that. This is all you.

So as we were walking back to the car, as I very carefully handled your drawing, I looked up into the sky, then yelled, “Jack! Hot air balloons!

We obviously took advantage of the moment and admired them together. When you see two hot air balloons flying overhead like that, it sort of forces you to just stop and take it all in.

It’s almost… magical to watch.


Granted, Mommy and I actually went on a hot air balloon ride last year in Sacramento. (Click here for the story or here for the pictures on Facebook.)

Yet still, I was still in awe at the sight of hot air balloons; and of course you were too.

As we drove home, I kept thinking about how excited I was to show Mommy your picture of the monster truck. As your teacher Ms. Michelle had suggested, I was thinking we should frame it.

However, the moment we walked in the door, your top priority was having Mommy cut out the picture, like we do on the weekends when you have me draw pictures of your Disney Planes toys; to make it sort of like a toy, I suppose is the theory…

So while we can’t frame your magnificent work of art, at least we can still hang it on the fridge. Not to mention, I wrote this story for you so that it lives on as well.



Humble and Embarrassing Beginnings: Five Years of the Writings of Nick Shell

An autobiographic look at the Scenic Route Snapshots franchise.

Scenic Route Snapshots: Est. August 2005.

When people show you a picture of themselves from five or more years ago, the tendency is often to laugh at their longer/froey hair and outdated clothing and say, “That was you?” Because ultimately that younger, less experienced version of a person was more naïve and goofier than the version of that person we know today.  Of course, it’s no different for each of us.  We too have many laughable aspects about ourselves when we look back on them, five or more years later.

This month makes exactly five years that I’ve been writing online.  In August 2005 I was in the process of moving from Fort Payne, AL (having just graduated from Liberty University a few months before) to Nashville, TN to start my career in music (which I decided wasn’t what I really wanted to do, after a year of being here).  I starting writing MySpace blogs as a way to document new life pursuing a career in music.  It’s not that my writings were all horrible those first couple of years; looking back, I can actually see some jewels in the gravels.  But for the most part, they were pretty cheesy, not to mention they were all about me and “making my dreams a reality”.

Obviously it was those early years in particular that helped me realize ways to improve my writing, eventually giving birth to The Code.  That means my older writings consistently violated The Code and I’m sure that’s part of the main reason it’s so difficult for me to go back and read them.  But anyone who has ever been successful in any kind of enterprise surely endured the same sort of sloppy early years as well.

Yes, that generic version of what we know as good and relevant was probably not always good and relevant.  Like the episodes of Saved by the Bell with Miss Bliss or the Tracey Ullman version of The Simpsons or the British version of The Office.  Sure, hardcore fans will always approve, but the rest of us know to stay away, lest we become disappointed and somehow allow our idea of a pure thing to become tainted.

And the still, the irony of this whole concept will surely prove itself that much more five years from now, when I use this post as a point of reference to show the place in time where Scenic Route Snapshots really started taking off.  The point where 1,934 were my highest views in one day (happened this week) instead of that being a slow day.  The point where I could admit that humble beginnings were over for Scenic Route Snapshots, yet the big break had not happened yet.

What started in August of 2005 as a goofy blog that just a handful of my friends read has evolved into an actual website that currently receives around 1,000 hits per day.  I sure don’t know where the future of Scenic Route Snapshots is going, but as long as I can still claim to be a writer who never experiences writer’s block, the posts will keep being born.


Read my very first “blog” from August 16, 2005, entitled “I Choose to Be a Fatalist” at the bottom of the page at this link:

It was this 2005 version of me that laid the ground work to get me where I am today.

Which Role Do You Play in Your Family?

As I a guy who doesn’t know anything about cars or building stuff, or even computers, or how to really fix anything, or sports (golf included), or politics, or business (investments and stock market crap), there aren’t seemingly many important roles left for me as a man in a family. 

Sure, I can tell you which actors from Saved by the Bell are Jewish and which songs were hits in 1983 and how tall Albert Einstein was and I can solve a Rubik’s Cube in less than five minutes every time, but how does that fill any kind of necessary void in family dynamics?

I am a walking Wikipedia with an unforgettable memory of life events, sometimes nearing borderline Asperger’s.  So by default, what is my role in my family of six?  And to see the full picture, what are the roles of each member of my family? (My parents, my sister, her husband, and my wife.)

Me: The storyteller, the writer, the historian, and the event planner.  What drives me are memories.  Good memories take place because of events.  So I enjoy planning the family’s activities. 

I tend to be the one in the family that decides what we will do with our time when we’re all together.  And if I didn’t have an agenda for everyone to follow, it’s possible we would all just sit around and do nothing.  It’s possible we wouldn’t know where to go to eat, and end up settling for something mediocre like Outback or Chili’s. 

But I take the responsibility on myself for the six of us to decide where those memories (including potential funny stories and inside jokes) will take place.  And because “life happens” around food and entertainment and going to new places, my niche is being the one to set the backdrop for those events.

My role doesn’t fall into any of the typical manly stereotypes; I am the Montgomery Moose, the Desmond Hume, the John Cusack, the Pat Sajak.  The host, the MC of the evening, the narrator, the journalist of past, present, and future.  I just can’t fix anything.

My wife: The organized one, the teacher, the nurturer, the listener.

My dad: The mechanic, the electrician, the carpenter.

My mom: The financial expert, the chef, the encourager, the conversationalist.

My sister: The interior decorator, the helper, the initiator.

Her husband: The computer whiz, the tech expert, the sports enthusiast. 

Not that anyone can limit the talents and capabilities of their own family members down to just a few roles.  Because family members are not just stereotypes or TV characters.  They’re family.

What brought all this to mind is by watching the wonderfully crafted sitcom/drama Parenthood.  I love the dynamics of the family and how they all interact.  It hit me that the members of my family all have specific roles like the characters on that show.  And also, it seems the entertainment world is oversaturated with superheroes. 

I just wanted to know what my “superpowers” are.  Now I know. 

(And in case you’re still curious, Screech and Jessie were played Jewish actors, on the show Saved by the Bell.)

Would you, the random or regular reader, be willing to share with me your role and your family members’ roles in your family by leaving a comment below?  This isn’t a clever marketing ploy to boost my numbers or make this post seem more interesting.  I am just truly interested in this topic and want to know what other random family roles are out there.