Grocery Shopping with a Toddler at Publix

December 8, 2011 at 8:26 pm , by 

One year.

In my mind, taking a one year-old little boy grocery shopping is supposed to be a nightmare. Maybe that comes later. Because as for now, Jack sure doesn’t mind accompanying us in part of our Sunday-after-church ritual: buying groceries at Publix.

More importantly, he’s not at all annoying while we are there. Instead, he is always easily entertained. That makes me happy.

Here recently, the event became more fun than ever, for the whole family, as Jack  is now age and size appropriate for the cool “kids” grocery cart.

One of my rules as a dad is to over-stimulate him as much as possible to keep him engaged (and to get him tired enough to take regular naps) without relying on electronic devices to catch his attention to do it.

I want him to be awed by the beauty of nature. Or at least a big grocery store; equipped with high ceilings, bright lights, healthy food, and plenty of random people to stare at.

When Jack is cruisin’ in his hot rod shopping cart, it’s like he thinks he’s a famous local celebrity in a hometown parade.

Of course, I admit, it won’t be that long before he can talk. And I know what that means:

“I want that!”

Yeah, I don’t want to think about that right now. I’ll just let him keep thinking he’s the head of the parade.


Today is Copyrighted

Important Rule in Life: When someone asks you “what’s up?”, it’s good to have something cool or funny to say.

A good thing to ask yourself at the end of each day is “What happened today that makes this day different from every other day I’ve lived?”  So many of the days of our lives seem normal and insignificant.  As a way of making them seem more meaningful, I like to observe what makes each day special.  It makes future conversations more interesting. 

Like today, I jumped in my Honda Element for the drive to work, and immediately I was taken back to the smell of the boys’ locker room from my high school in 1996.  But there are never dirty clothes in my car and I never leave the windows down (in the event it had rained during the night) and there’s no carpet in my car at all.  So why did my car smell like a sour milk sock?  I endured the odor for 22 minutes until I arrived at work when I took a minute to sniff around, but to no avail.

Six hours pass and I’m getting my mountain bike out for my lunch break ride.  And near the front of the bike tire, underneath my emergency hoodie, was a black-and-brown banana, wrapped up in a clear plastic grocery bag from Publix.  And then I thought to myself, “So that’s where left that banana!”  I’m thinking it had been there for around 16 days.  It was so rotten that it was liquefying and running out of the bag.  Good thing I keep emergency Wet Wipes handy.

That mildly entertaining story will become the copyrighted material of today.  It’s why today is different than any other day of my life.  Nothing too dramatic or life-changing.  At best, just a reference I can make at some point in the future in a conversation with a group of friends where the conversation topic is “smelly things”.  This day will live in infamy.  And comedy.

Banana Oatmush; The Real Breakfast of Champions (Contains Cinnamon and Hemp Seed)

I invented the nation’s most healthiest, most alive, most convenient, least expensive breakfast, and it’s completely non-processed.  The best part is, I can’t make a profit off of it at all.  You have to make it yourself.  That’s how you know it’s good.

We know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but it’s also one of the most difficult to pull off consistently and still be healthy.  Because after eliminating the option of the quick and easy (and deadly) fast food options, what is there that is inexpensive and fiber-packed enough to keep a person full?  And most importantly, what breakfast food is there that has no added sugar, essentially no fat, improves digestion, is easy to make, and actually tastes really good?

Oatmush.  I will share it with you.

Start with a half a cup of rolled oats (make sure that rolled oats are the only ingredient; no sugar, salt, dehydrated fruit, evaporated cane juice, etc).  Sometimes I use Publix store brand that costs about $2 for 32 oz. canister (13 servings); currently I’m using Bob’s Red Mill Extra Thick Rolled Oats that I bought from Whole Foods for just a dollar more:

3.5g fat (0.5 saturated, 0 trans), 1g sugar, 7g protein, 5 g dietary fiber

Just pour the oats in an empty coffee mug, then pour in hot water until the water is about ¼ inch above the top of the oats.  Then grab a banana:

0g fat, 21g sugar (though it doesn’t count against you when eaten in its whole, natural form, but fruit juice does because it has been separated from the fiber of the fruit), 1g protein, 4g dietary fiber

Now with a fork, set the tip of the banana on the edge of the coffee mug, cutting the banana into slices that fall on top of the oatmeal.  Then with the fork, mash the banana slices into oatmeal for a few seconds, like mashing a potato.

By this point, the Oatmush may not be as hot as the oatmeal you’re used to eating, so that means you may need to find hotter water to begin with.  Don’t reheat the Oatmush in the microwave; that “kills” the life in it.  At least 55% of the food we eat in a day needs to be alive.  Live food helps our bodies fight off cancers and diseases (fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds, and nuts in their whole form); dead food doesn’t (meat, processed food, etc.).

If you want to keep things simple, then you’re done.  Enjoy your Oatmush.

However, if you’d like to add more flavor and nutrition to your Oatmush, here’s how I do it.  Mix in about a half a tablespoon of cinnamon (loaded with antioxidants).  Next, get your hands on some hemp seed, found in your nearest Whole Foods.  I use Nutiva’s Organic Shelled Hempseed from the refrigerated section of the store.

Hemp seed is extremely healthy and a major part of a healthy, daily diet:

13.5 g fat (1g saturated, 0g trans), 1g sugar, 11g protein, 1g dietary fiber

It contains more fatty acids than any other nut or seed found in nature (which is a very good thing).  Hempseed contains all 9 essential amino acids and is high in phytonutrients, which support and protect the health of our body’s immunity, bloodstream, cells, tissues, organs, and mitochondria (our body’s “life cells”).

*Flax seed can be substituted in place of hemp seed, which is comparible in nutrition but not equal.

So every morning now, I start off with a good healthy cup of Oatmush.  Complete with hempseed, here is the unofficial complete nutritional value:

17g fat (the good kind), 1.5g saturated fat, Og trans fat, 24g sugar (the good kind), 19g protein, 10g dietary fiber

And that’s with nothing man-made or processed.  A completely alive breakfast.  The best part of it is, I can’t sell you Oatmush.  It’s not a marketable product.  Because if it was, it would have to come in a bag or box and the bananas would have to be dehydrated.  No one can sell you Oatmush.  You have to make it yourself.  And that’s another sign that it’s really good for you.

It’s really quick and easy to make.  Only takes me about one minute, literally. And I dare the entire world to find a healthier, more convenient, less expensive breakfast that is completely alive and not processed in any way.

…I’m waiting.

Oh, and, you’re welcome.  For my secret recipe, that is:


Nick Shell’s Famous “Oatmush”

½ cup of rolled oats

1/3 cup of hot water

1 banana

½ tablespoon of cinnamon

3 tablespoons of hemp seed

House for Sale

In the name of family planning, my wife and I are selling our town house to someone lucky and deserving. Someone who is looking for a place in Nashville, TN. We’ve done our research to know that our price is competitive to the others, yet our place comes with some cool bonuses:
Free Refrigerator and other standard kitchen appliances


Here are some other advantages:

We have been the only owners. We don’t smoke. We don’t have pets. We haven’t even painted the walls since their original “egg shell white” that came standard. We have kept this place immaculate. It’s a clean slate.

When we bought our townhouse 2 years ago brand new, we chose to get the optional Venetian blinds (we paid $550 extra for these) and ceiling fans in the bed rooms which also did not come standard.

Vaulted ceilings in the bedrooms. Quiet neighbors on both sides of us.

The development, Barnes Crossing, is a great “walkable” area. I run my 3 mile trek around the neighborhood.

Great location. We are near the corner of Old Hickory and Nolensville, less than a mile from the up-and-coming cool neighborhood of Lenox Village. Which means we are from 5 minutes from the following:

A new Super Wal-Mart
Publix (the best place in the world to buy groceries)
Kroger (a good place to get cheap gas)
Blue Coast Burrito (an addicting burrito place)
Pie in the Sky (pizza/Italian)
Bricks (a trendy Nashville original restaurant)
South Side Grill (another one)

We are less than 15 minutes from I-65 and less than 10 minutes from I-24; easy access to downtown Nashville. About 20 minutes from downtown Nashville, so it’s close enough to be cool and far enough so that it’s still a quiet, friendly neighborhood.

1309 square feet

2 bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms

Price: $132, 500

You may even be lucky enough to qualify for our government’s First Time Home Buyers Program and get up to $8,000 tax credit. The deadline for that is coming up. Here’s a link to more about that:

If you have more questions or are interested in seeing the place, call me:


You can also e-mail me:


How to Be Weird in a Publix Grocery Store and Get Away With It

When a small kid falls and bumps their head, there is a Two Second Delay where he or she must decide whether to cry or to laugh, whether it is a painful or funny moment. They must choose which they want more- nurture or fellowship. As an older brother in 1987, I clearly remember that happening to my sister, who was three years old at the time. I said, “Dana, don’t cry. Laugh instead.”

Then I started making indistinguishable animal sounds and rolling my eyes and puffing up my cheeks. Her facial expression went from the verge of crying to actually laughing instead. That’s when I learned that it is possible influence the response of a young child during The Two Second Delay. Since then, I have been keeping this in mind as I am exposed to antsy kids in shopping carts at stores, forced to go shopping with their moms.

Last Sunday, in the produce section of the local Publix, a Russian-speaking mom with her little boy and girl facing her as they both sat in the cart caught my attention. The boy was grabbing for some grapes and his mom told him no. So he did it what he knew best.

He started squalling. Whining. Crying. Over grapes.

The Russian mom’s back was turned away from me, but the boy could clearly see me from 15 feet away. I made eye contact with him and started doing my best impression of a bumbling buffoon. It worked. From tears to giggles.

And the best part: I only did it when his sister, who was sitting right beside him, was looking the other way. So every 10 seconds, I would make stupid faces at the boy. Immediately, he would tug on his mom’s shirt sleeve and bump his sister with his elbow, each time failing to get their attention in order to see me before I stopped.

This happened for several minutes, as we all made our way through the the fruits and vegetables. And I never got caught. That boy went home, with his mom and sister, both thinking he was crazy for pointing at nothing. I’m sure they were just glad he stopped his tantrum.

I have been doing this procedure for about 20 years. It’s really great. I highly recommend it.

boy candy