I Think I’ve Created A Hipster Toddler

16 months.

Rubik’s Cube? Check. Retro Pink Panther bendable toy? Check. Ability to walk backwards? Check. Vegetarian? Of course.

So typical.

On the drive back to Nashville on Easter Day, we made our one pit stop at the Starbucks in Manchester, Tennessee. We had to change Jack’s diaper in the front seat of the car.

To distract him, my wife reached up and grabbed my Rubik’s Cube and retro Pink Panther bendable toy I have kept in my Honda Element since before Jack was even born.

(I own every episode of The Pink Panther cartoon series on DVD.)

Just as we finished changing him, a guy in a tie-dye shirt pulled up next to us and got out of his car with his family, spouting out loud to us his immediate thoughts:

“That must be a pretty smart kid you’ve got there. He knows how to solve a Rubik’s Cube and he hangs out with the ever-classy Pink Panther. Nice.”

Was it really necessary to tell the guy that it was actually my Rubik’s Cube (my best time to solve it is 2 minutes and 20 seconds) and my Pink Panther bendable toy even though I’m 30 years-old?

Nah. I would prefer for an observational random stranger to believe my toddler is truly a hipster:

Yes, that my 16 month-old son chooses to listen to vinyl records over an iPod.

That he will only wear t-shirts if A) they came from a thrift store and B) they have the year 1983 on the front; along with unnecessarily thick nerd-core glasses.

That he would grow an ironic mustache if he could.

Welcome to “The Dadabase” (Archives From Parents.com)

May 23, 2011 at 10:12 am , by 

Six months.

Somewhere between wrenches and Rubik’s Cubes…

Hello, my name is Nick Shell.  And I am a daddy blogger.

My wife Jill and I have a 6 month old son named Jack.  (I’m a very nostalgic, chronologically obsessed kind of guy, so at the top of every post I place a caption telling how old Jack is when I wrote that entry).  That’s right; I live with Jack and Jill.  Sure, it was a little tempting to reference that familiar nursery rhyme along with my almost-weird last name in the naming of this blog.  Like I could have named this, Jack and Jill in a Nut Shell.

But I am a guy, so I don’t do “cute.”  I do practical. With the name of this daddy blog, I wanted to allude to the idea that a man’s perspective of parenting is a bit offbeat when compared to the more easily recognizable viewpoint of the beautiful and poetic female mind.  So for you moms out there who wonder what your hubby is really thinking about this whole dad thing, I might be able to shed some light on the subject.  Granted, I’m not claiming to represent all or even most husbands and fathers, but I’m sure I will often hit close to “the dadabase.”

And for dads out there- hey, I know there’s not as much reading material out there for us.  Just like I’m very aware of the fact that it’s much easier to find baby clothes that say “I love Mommy,” as compared to ones that say “I love Daddy.”  I, too, am bothered by the fact that so many men have compromised the connotation of the word “father”, and “dad”, and even the word “man.”  So I admit that much of my inspiration as a daddy blogger is to re-brand fatherhood as the glorious thing that it is.  I’m tired of dads being represented by goofy schlubs who don’t remember their wedding anniversary until the last minute and who don’t know how to behave in public without making a mess of something.

For my blog’s logo, I chose a wrench.  In The Dadabase, I will not just be writing about my son and all the wonderful things he does and is.  Just as important, I will be writing about my role as a husband and father.  Therefore, I decided that a metaphorical wrench is the perfect symbol for us men.  Because it’s our job to fix things.

Why is it such a struggle for us to just listen to our wives without giving advice, which is often all they really want in the first place- to be heard and understood? It’s like waving a red ball in front of a yellow lab, pretending to throw it, then being amused when the dog runs to go try to find the ball that was never thrown. We are wired to fix things when we are presented with a problem. We are creative and inventive, so whether that wrench is physical or psychological, we not only use the metaphorical (or actual) wrench to adjust and tighten the loose parts in our lives: Sometimes we use that same wrench to take things apart, in order to learn how they work.

And that brings me to the Rubik’s Cube I referenced in the title.  Men are naturally more “black and white” and formulaic than women.  While the Rubik’s Cube is equally frustrating as it is intimidating to so many people, those of us who can solve it in less than five minutes know that once you simply memorize the algorithms and when to apply them, the Rubik’s Cube is no more difficult than learning how to beat King Hippo on the classic Nintendo game, Mike Tyson’s Punch Out.

Not only are we men wired to fix things, we’re also wired to solve puzzles and crack codes.  And that’s important because, let’s face it- when it comes to being a parent, we are constantly figuring this thing out as we go.  So what can you expect from this daddy blog of mine?  You can catch a glimpse of the rarely published mindset of an American father… who just happens to be inconspicuously clued in.

I will be writing 25 posts per month, which averages out to around 5.5 times each week.  Plus, anytime you want to travel back in time and catch the story from the very beginning, just look on the right hand side of the screen and you will see the archives for my daddy blogging- all the way back to April 13th, 2010.

Sometimes, you will totally agree with my opinions and my take on fatherhood- you will appreciate what I have served up that morning for “blogfast” (note to self: copyright the destined-to-be-trendy word, “blogfast”)and you will “like” it on Facebook, and/or Tweet it.  Other times, you may feel I am so quirky that I’m kooky; disagreeing with my “wrong opinion” so much that you throw your shoe at your computer screen.  In either case, I’m still the same guy you either liked or didn’t like the day before.

You get it all; the good, the bad (which often translates as “politically incorrect”), and the abstract.  This is my unfiltered (yet family friendly) take on parenting from a dad’s perspective.  I strongly value the importance of authenticity.  So that’s right- unlike a “reality TV show,” there are no camera crews or producers or writers telling me what to say or what not to say. This is real life.  And I am a real dude.

Welcome to The Dadabase.

The Art and Irony of Trendsetting: Featuring Crocs, Hawaiian Shirts, Voss Water, and WWJD Bracelets

Trends are only truly cool when they’re not quite cool yet.  And by the time they are in style, they’re pretty much going out of style.

Recognizing the hilariousness of how in many offices in America, it is standard that everyone dresses professionally Monday through Thursday, but on Friday, everyone goes casual with jeans and often t-shirts, at the beginning of the summer I decided to start making Thursday a “buffer” day for how I dress in the office, encouraging everyone else to participate.  How do you transition from khakis and dress shirts to jeans and t-shirts?  Hawaiian shirts.

They are button-down shirts with collars.  Perfect, tacky transition.  At first, only one other coworker would join me in Hawaiian Shirt Thursday.  But then, if for no other reason they felt like they were missing out on something cool, one by one, others began joining us.  By the end of the summer, I had half of the office on my side.  Some people dug through their closets to find the shirt; some actually went out and bought one.  And now, even in autumn, many of us are keeping the tradition going.

Of course, this isn’t the first trend I’ve started at work.  In an effort to make sure I was drinking enough water everyday, I went to Whole Foods and bought a glass Voss water bottle that I refill several times throughout the day.  At first, coworkers joked with me, “Isn’t it a little early in the day for vodka?”  By now though, several of them have privately approached me to ask where they could get a water bottle like that.  And sure enough, the glass Voss water bottle is no longer weird in my office, but instead it’s the norm.

But the irony with trendsetting is that by successfully coming up with an original and unpopular idea, it eventually becomes unoriginal and popular.  Prime example: Crocs.  For the last couple of years, I’ve looked on from a distance at the weird plastic rainbow colored Birkenstock rip-offs.  They were so trendy.  You’d see moms and their kids out at the mall, all wearing Crocs.  Even though I wanted some, I refused to buy them.  Because they were too cool at the time.

However, this week I came to a realization.  The Birkenstocks I have been wearing were given to me by my parents Christmas 1999.  I had already paid $35 five years ago to have them resoled.  It was time for me to either have them repaired again, or pay $110 for new ones.  Or… pay $30 for some brown Crocs.

To entertain the idea of buying Crocs, I checked around Cool Springs during my lunch breaks while riding my mountain bike instead of driving (another office trend I’ve been trying to start since April), but sure enough, I had trouble finding any Crocs for sale.  Eventually, some girls behind the counter at a Hallmark told me to check out the Croc stand across from Fossil in the mall.

Needless to say, with yesterday being Thursday, I wore my Hawaiian shirt, with Crocs, while drinking water from a Voss water bottle.  And boy was I cool.  Yet I wouldn’t have been caught wearing Crocs if they were still trendy.  The trend of wearing Crocs is over; which is why it was more difficult than I had imagined to find them.  I’m not saying that Crocs aren’t cool anymore; they’re just no longer a fad.

And so an important rule for a trendsetter is to not get involved in a trend that is overly popular.  But once a trend is over, then it’s “game on” to participate.  Some fads, after their prime, become an outdated, yet timeless classic.  Like Hawaiian shirts.  And Chuck Taylor’s.  And the wondrous Rubik’s Cube.  WWWD bracelets?  Not so much.


dad from day one: Influence and Individuality

Thirty-one weeks.

Parenting is one of the few institutions where brainwashing is not only allowed, and a given, but it’s also sort of the whole point.  Like a duo-dictatorship, two people (the parents) have so much influence over another human being (the child) on so many levels.  Freedom of religion?  Nope.  Freedom of speech?  Not so much.  The rules that matter are enforced by the parents and accordingly, the child learns his or her moral code and adopts his human culture largely from how the parents choose to raise him or her.

Will I be a strict parent?  “Strict” has such a negative connotation these days.  It evokes thoughts of having rules for the sake of having rules, yielding a teenage kid that is either so nerdy that he thinks getting to stay up until 11:00 at night to watch Battlestar Gallactica is an idea of a good time, or he’s so rebellious he gets a DUI and a huge tattoo by the time he graduates high school.  So I’d rather not use the word “strict”, but instead “consistent and practical”.  Like my parents were to me.

I have always been very close to my parents; I knew I could talk to them about anything and they would listen, without being judgmental or condescending, yet still guiding me in the right direction.  They gave me a little responsibility at a time, and when I proved I could handle it, they gave me more.  I never had a curfew, nor did I need one.  But had I responded differently to the responsibility I was given, I know for a fact the rules would have been stricter, as they would have needed to be.

I think it’s funny when I hear parents of young kids say, “Well my Brayden won’t eat what I cook him.  He only eats chicken nuggets and pizza, and he only drinks Coke from his sippy cup.”  I smile and laugh with them, shaking my head like I know how it is, when really I’m thinking, “It’s not up to your kid!  It’s up to YOU!  YOU’RE the parent!”

Just like I’ve heard other parents say, “I’m not going to force any religious beliefs on my kids.  They need to figure out what they believe on their own.”  (Which is always a clear indication that parent has no solid religious beliefs, otherwise they would pass them on to their children.) It will not be the case for my kid.  He will know who Noah and Abraham and Moses and Jesus and Peter and the Apostle Paul are.  He will know the importance and relevance of John 3:16.  Just like my dad read to me from my kid’s Bible every night, so will I do for my son.

And when he grows up, I will have influenced who he is.  Yet still, he will have his own personality and make his own decisions.  Truly though, that’s how it was for all of us.  Even if one or both of our parents were out of the picture, they still influenced us- negatively or positively.  So I am choosing to make a conscious, solid, positive influence in his life.  And I will be very deliberate in doing so.

Here’s what The Bump says about Baby Jack this week:

Baby’s energy is surging, thanks to the formation of white fat deposits beneath the skin. (Have those kicks and jabs to the ribs tipped you off yet?) Baby is also settling into sleep and waking cycles, though — as you’ve also probably noticed — they don’t necessarily coincide with your own. Also this month, all five senses are finally functional, and the brain and nervous system are going through major developments.

http://pregnant.thebump.com/pregnancy/pregnancy-tools/slideshow/how-big-is-baby.aspx?page=21

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com


dad from day one: Actor Turned Director

Twenty-nine weeks.

It took me 12 straight days to teach myself to solve the Rubik’s Cube; it was during this time that my wife and I found out we were going to have a baby.  Of course, we didn’t tell anyone until over a month later, but during my “learn to solve a Rubik’s Cube” phase, I had several people crack themselves up with this joke: “If you’ve got the time and patience to solve that thing, it’s time for you to have a kid!”  And they were right.  My instincts were making it obvious that like so many actors, the time eventually arrives when it’s time to dabble with directing.

(Cue the song “In My Life” by The Beatles as the proper soundtrack as you read the rest of this post.  It’s officially my favorite song ever.)

I can look back on my life with satisfaction, knowing that my accomplishments have outweighed my failures and regrets.  I have met all kinds of interesting people from all over the world (most of whom are facebook friends).  I understand the meaning of life.  I am solid in my beliefs on the afterlife.  I have married the woman I am meant to be with.  I can now solve the Rubik’s Cube in two minutes and twenty-five seconds.  And though this paragraph may resemble a goodbye letter to the world as I prepare for my life to come to an end like I’m 90 years old, I recognize that in some ways life as I know it will end, as it transforms into a new one.  A more meaningful one.  From “me” to “dad”.

On top of all this, I’m about a half a year away from turning 30, so yeah, I’d say it’s time for things to stop being about me so much and more about someone else.  I have been the protagonist, but soon I will become a full-time director.  All of life has prepared me to this new role.  The cynic could see it as circular reasoning- that you spend your youth learning how to become a responsible adult, and then once you do, you just do it all over again with modified little reruns of yourself running around.

But I would say the cynic is still under the assumption that life is all about him- that life either simply ends when he dies or that hopefully when he dies, he’s been “good enough to get to Heaven” or that at least Hell won’t be that bad, but instead just a big party where the temperature is slightly hotter than desired while Jimmy Buffett plays an eternal concert and the margaritas are never-ending.

If anything, I could see how raising a kid will be a redeeming and cleansing process, helping me to see how little I truly know, helping me to appreciate my family and childhood teachers more, helping me to straighten out my priorities even more, helping me to ultimately give more than I take.  I could see how this baby will ironically make me a better adult.  And how the humility of changing diapers is only a small part of this evolution of my life.

And yes, Baby Jack will probably already know how to solve a Rubik’s Cube before he gets to Kindergarten.

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com

Readers’ Expectations 5: Hemp George, Mexican Mollies, and Fat Babies with Mullets

What would provoke anyone to visit Scenic Route Snapshots, out of the millions of websites out there?  I like knowing the answer to the question, just as you do.  Here is the fifth installment of phrases that people typed into Google and other search engines to find this site:

“fat babies eating”- I thought it was safe to assume that most babies are fat anyways.  Is this from a hopeful parent wanting their baby to grow up to be a professional competitive eater?  That Japanese guy wins every year, but 2nd place isn’t a bad goal to aim for.  Good luck on that.  Mazel tov. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Takeru_Kobayashi

“van gogh starry night for kids”- Yes, because Van Gogh’s original painting of Starry Night contained a lot of nudity and violence, but the new Disney-endorsed version is safe for the whole family.

“What does being a Rubik’s Cube in a dream mean?”- One of two things.  A) You are feeling manipulated by the people in your life- like they are trying to “figure you out”.  2) It’s not a dream at all.  You’re currently on an LSD trip.

“hemp George”- Yes, President George Washington was indeed a hemp farmer.  But “Hemp George” sounds like a totally different guy altogether.  But hey, when you can’t track down Hemp George, there’s the next best thing- Sativa Steve.

“mullet baby ugly”- I thought all babies are beautiful.  And besides, a mullet doesn’t automatically make someone ugly.  Flashback to the ‘80’s, prime examples: MacGyver and Bono.

“singleness a gift I do not want”- This one is funny not because the searcher typed in something weird to find me, but because I happened to title that post exactly in the terminology he or she was thinking.  Takes one to know one: Singleness; The Gift No One Really Wants

“male mexican mollies mustache”– Definitely one of the most random searches ever to get to my website.  Mollies are a type of fish that unlike Catfish, do not have any physical features that resemble a mustache.  The four words “male”, “Mexican”, “mollies”, and “mustache” have nothing to do with each other.  And strangest of all, whoever searched that did so 7 times that day.

So that means 7 hits on my counter happened because someone searched something extremely random, not once, twice, or even thrice, but 7 times.  I am picturing a mustachioed Mexican man eating fish, and he’s very, very happy about it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mollies

Nonfiction Rules; Fiction Drools (Why I Would Rather Allude to True Stories of My Own Life Than to Have to Create Characters and Story Lines)

Why make up a bunch of stuff to write about when the story is just sitting there, waiting to be told?

There are many times in life when I believe it’s important to work on my weaknesses until they become my strengths.  Like with the Rubik’s Cube, for example.  Other times, I just run the other way, knowing that the best option is just to stick with what I know best.  And so is the case with writing fiction; I’m not good at it, I don’t enjoy it, and I have no desire to try.  Seems like too much homework to me.  Granted, I very much admire/envy those who have the talent to write fiction.

I write nonfiction, instead, because it comes so naturally to me.  There’s no need to invent clever, yet deep characters- I already have all the ones I need.

The characters of my writings are usually you (both specifically and generically at the same time), friends, family, heroes, idiots, time, life itself, and myself.  The trickiest part of making this work is how I handle both the first and last subject I just named: you and me.

When I do actually use the word “you”, I try to avoid placing it next to the word “probably” because I don’t truly know anything “you probably” do, think, or are.  All I can do is portray things from my own perspective based on what I do, think, and am.  As for myself as a subject (the narrator and host), I’m careful not to make it obvious what a major role I play in the story.  I will quote French author Gustave Flaubert, “An author in his book must be like God in the universe, present everywhere and visible nowhere.”  It’s not about me; it’s about the story.  But the only way I can set the stage for common ground between “you” and me is by accenting the whole thing with my own life.  Like most album covers for the Steve Miller Band’s records where Steve Miller himself was M.I.A., if my face or image is attached or present, it’s almost better.  Let the art speak for itself.

I also love writing nonfiction because it’s pretty convenient how time can be manipulated; I am able to encompass the past, present, and future all in one.  Typically I start out the post with a story that already happened (past), linking it to who I am today (present day), and end it with how that sets the tone for how things will continue to be (future).

Writing nonfiction allows me to serve as my own psychologist, hopefully entertain others, and in a sense, to have the ability to travel through time.