Posts Tagged ‘ Atlanta ’

Raising Jumpin’ Jack Flash, The BASE Jumper

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

3 years, 6 months.

Dear Jack,

Ever since you took that gymnastics class a few months ago, you’ve made a habit of looking for things to jump off of, like a BASE jumper.

That’s right- you learned to jump, as funny has that sounds. And now, it’s something you take very seriously.

When we stayed at the hotel for the Wizard World Atlanta Comic Con recently, you were very excited to see there was an ottoman in front of the sofa.

Needless to say, you knew just what to do…

When you weren’t using Hungry Hungry Hippos as a toy, you were being Jumpin’ Jack Flash!

A recent new tradition you and I started is that every night when it’s time for you to go upstairs with Mommy to take your bath, I take a break from doing the dishes and give you a piggy back ride to your room.

Then, I throw you onto your bed.

For the next couple of minutes after that, you jump off the bed onto the carpet, only to have me throw you back on the bed.

Your face slams into the bedspread and pillows. You love it.

Convenient for the sake of you continuing this roughhousing with me, is the fact you have never gotten hurt doing any of this.

This whole time, I’ve never had to put up a baby gate on our stairway. You have always had a reverent fear of the stairs- which is part of why you like to ride on my shoulders while going up them.

But despite your new love of BASE jumping, you have no desire to try jumping down the stairs.

You know that if you get hurt jumping, or while I throw you on the bed, that you probably wouldn’t get to have this much fun.

Smart kid, you are.





Add a Comment

Family Friendly Road Trip: Is Atlanta A Vegan Friendly City?

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

3 years, 6 months.

Dear Jack,

As I just mentioned in the letter before this, we spent last weekend in Atlanta for the Wizard World Atlanta Comic Con. While there, we had a little adventure riding the SkyView Ferris wheel, on a whim.

I’ve noticed that my letters to you are taking more of a turn these days, as I find myself focusing more on reviewing road trip destinations, toys, movies, and vegan food… from a family friendly perspective.

So it only makes sense that I would like to point out something really cool that I learned last weekend:

Atlanta is undeniably vegan friendly!

I would have never assumed that.

Having grown up in Fort Payne, AL, just a 2 hour drive from Atlanta, I was familiar with a culture in which fried chicken and sweet tea were simply part of one’s identity.

To have even thought of not eating meat, dairy, or eggs was somehow… unChristian, unpatriotic, and basically, just overall blasphemy for a Southerner.

With that being said, Atlanta continues to show up in nearly every Internet search for “Vegan Friendly Cities in America.”

And it didn’t take long for our family to see that.

As we approached the Georgia World Congress Center where the Wizard World Atlanta Comic Con was being held, we encountered “Vegan Man” with his homemade costume, accompanied by his other friends from a group called Mercy For Animals.

Once I looked down at the pamphlet they were handing out to passersby, I responded with, “Yeah. I’m a vegan.” I instantly received a hug and great cheer.

When you’re a vegan family, it’s a given that you have to do your meal planning in advance.

So we found a perfect 100% vegan Asian fusion restaurant called The Loving Hut. It was inexpensive and delicious!

While we were waiting for the food, you enjoyed “putting the ants in their bed.” (That consisted of you sprinkling salt and pepper in their tray.)

Conveniently enough, the restaurant was right across the street from the Sandy Springs Whole Foods, which was just right around the corner from the Le Meridien where we stayed.

So between The Loving Hut and Whole Foods, we never had to worry about where our plant-based meals would come from.

I loved being able to start each morning with Buchi on tap. (That’s basically the vegan version of soda; it’s a brand of Kombucha tea, based out of Asheville, NC.)

As for you, as a treat, you got to enjoy some “natural bears” and “squishy fish,” which were basically gummy bears and Swedish fish that were made without dyes from bugs or petroleum.

So with all that being said, we are now officially confident to visit the wonderfully entertaining city of Atlanta again, as a plant-based family.

Yes, Atlanta is very vegan friendly.





P.S. Our next “family friendly road trip” where we will test the “vegan friendliness” of a city will be Lake Tahoe, Nevada… in just a few weeks!

Add a Comment

Family Friendly Road Trip: SkyView In Atlanta, GA

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

3 years, 6 months.

Dear Jack,

In the same way I’ve been establishing myself as a car reviewer from a family friendly perspective, I will begin doing the same thing with our road trips from now on.

Here in just a few weeks, we’ll be road tripping from Sacramento to Lake Tahoe!

But for my first official “family friendly road trip,” I want to feature our visit to the wonderful city of Atlanta, Georgia this past weekend.

As we drove our Prius closer to downtown, we saw a giant Ferris wheel. While it wasn’t part of our itinerary, we were actually there just to check out the Wizard World Comic Con, Mommy and I were able to convince you to check out the SkyView Ferris wheel with us.

For the three of us, it cost about $28 to go 20 stories high; 4 turns.

I feel it was well worth the money. It’s definitely not something a family normally gets to do, outside of a circus.

It definitely provided for some pretty cool pictures and memories. Plus, it’s something that helped you build confidence in yourself. I’m amazed how much you didn’t question it at all.

You just gladly hopped on board.

Seriously, we were 20 stories high! You are only 3 and a half. Your willingness to try the SkyView, without worrying or crying, was quite impressive.

I enjoyed watching from the seat across from you and Mommy, seeing the looks on your faces as we scoped out the city of Atlanta from above, where the people below appeared as tiny ants marching. (Dave Matthews Band reference.)

Yep, our family did an unplanned, random, fun “touristy” thing in the very friendly city of Atlanta. And sure enough, you bragged about it to all your friends and teachers at school yesterday.

I have a feeling that the next time we visit Atlanta, which I hope is later this summer, you are going to ask to ride the “big wheel” again.





Add a Comment

Hungry Hungry Hippos Is A Toy, Not A Game

Sunday, June 1st, 2014

3 years, 6 months.

Dear Jack,

Last weekend your Nonna gave you a $20 bill to spend on anything you wanted at any point in the future.

To my surprise, that money actually lasted an entire week!

This past weekend while we visited Atlanta for the Wizard World Comic Con, we discovered there was a Target that basically shared the parking of the Le Meridien where we were staying.

You had been asking me for months now about the classic game, Hungry Hungry Hippos. It just happened to be on sale for $13, compared to its normal price of 20 bucks.

I was amazed that Mommy and I were able to convince you to keep it in the box during the 5 minute journey back up to our 8th floor hotel room.

Going into this, I knew from past experience not to expect you to play by the rules.

Yeah, that would be an understatement this time around.

The blue hippo was your favorite. You manually opened up his month and directly placed the plastic marbles in.

Even still, after the 2nd time of playing Hungry Hungry Hippos mostly the way it was intended, you proclaimed, “I don’t like losing.”

It’s not that you suddenly lost interest in it once you learned how to play. It’s that you decided that Hungry Hungry Hippos is much more fun as a toy.

By the first night in the hotel, Hungry Hungry Hippos became your “bulldozer airplane.” Apparently, when turned upside down, the platform can fly and hover through the air.

Despite that, it seems that the collection of hippos are becoming categorized like stuffed animals:

“Mommy, can I bring Hungry Hungry Hippos to bed with me tonight?”

Even the plastic marbles have another function besides actual game use. You’ve been using them as freight for your Take-n-Play Thomas the Train sets.

It seems like Hungry Hungry Hippos is everything you had hoped it would be…

To a 3 year-old boy, it’s not a game. It’s a toy.





Add a Comment

Jack’s First White Christmas

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

Week 6.

During my first summer teaching English in Thailand, I took a week-long vacation to the magical island of Koh Samui, as referenced in the movie Meet the Parents (“Jack speak-a Thai?”).  While there, I went to a highly promoted (via hand-painted street banners) Muay Thai boxing tournament.  Inside the dimly lit warehouse-style building on the outskirts of legitimate commerce, I felt like I was part of the movie Bloodsport staring Jean Claude Van Damme.  Afterwards, as a souvenir, I cut down one of the street banners advertising the event and hung it up in my college dorm at Liberty University the next Fall.  Everyone who saw it laughed at the poor English translation: “Super and Real Fight”.  I mean, it was a real fight, and I would say it was super as well, but for the fight to be super and real in the same adjective phrase just sounds funny.  And that is why I couldn’t title this entry as “Jack’s First and White Christmas”.

In preparing our move from Nashville, TN to Fort Payne, AL (which is located between Birmingham, Chattanooga, and Atlanta), my wife (who is from Sacramento, CA) had asked me if it ever snowed in Alabama.  Though the words “snow” and “Alabama” seem like they don’t go together at all, though do. Just like a lot of people don’t realize that Alabama actually borders the Gulf of Mexico and has several beaches, like Gulf Shores.  I told my wife to expect it to snow a few inches, up to three times a year.  And sure enough, as we woke up around 6 AM Christmas morning to feed and change Jack, we looked out the window to see large snowflakes falling steadily.

A couple of hours later, we drove 0.7 miles to my parents’ house to spend the day with them and my sister and her husband.  Turns out, the snow didn’t stop falling and the temperature remained low.  So the seven of us ending up staying the weekend together, being that the roads were iced over.  One of the gifts my parents bought for Jack was a really cool wagon; ideally for when he gets older. However, when we started getting ready for bed on Christmas night and we were deciding where Jack should sleep, since we hadn’t packed his travel crib, I said, “Well, what about his wagon?” Not many people can say that their first Christmas was a white Christmas and that on top of that, that they slept in a wagon.  But I guess it’s not all that strange, being that we were celebrating a holiday where a baby boy slept in a manger.  We didn’t have a manger for Jack, but we did have a wagon.

Jack is swinging Christmas morning before we left for my parents' house.

We got snowed in.

Jack's presents from his parents.

Jack's presents from the family.

The Four Generations of Shells: Baby Jack is the only Shell boy to carry on the family name.

Add a Comment