I recognize the fact Jack is a pretty low maintenance baby, but one thing that typically is never easy with him is getting him to fall asleep when he needs to. It’s just that he has so much fun when he’s awake that he doesn’t want to miss out on the action by sleeping through it.
The few rare times I’ve actually seen him just fall asleep on his own were after my entire family had exhausted him all day from non-stop playing. But as far as just day to day life, when it’s just him and my wife and I here at the house, I would say that helping him fall asleep is more than slightly harder than solving a Rubik’s Cube. Because I know for a fact I can solve the Rubik’s Cube in less than five minutes each time- getting Jack to fall asleep, on the other hand, often takes at least twice or thrice that long. And even then, there is no guarantee he will actually enter Sleepyland.
Through a strategy my wife invented and perfected, and that I do my best to emulate, Jack must be wrapped up into a “baby burrito” (tightly in a blanket). Then he must be rhythmically rocked in long, quick swoops. If done right, and he is tired enough, Jack becomes hypnotized and soon stops fighting the “sleep monkey”.
But occasionally, when Jack is crying too fiercely, we have to bring out the special weapon: Taylor Swift. For pretty much all of Jack’s life, the CD we have kept in the stereo is Taylor Swift’s newest album, Speak Now. Jack will fight through the first half of the first track, “Mine”, but usually by the middle of the second song, “Sparks Fly”, Taylor has sung him to sleep.
“Dear Taylor Swift, thank you for recording Speak Now. Not only do my wife and I really like it, but it is very soothing to our son. You have helped us get him to go to sleep more times than we can count. We think he has a crush on you.”
Also, don’t forget that tomorrow night (Wednesday, April 27th, my friend Diana will be a contestant on Wheel of Fortune. She gave me the idea for my upcoming “dad from day one” spin-off.
I’m not the kind of person who doesn’t want people to know my age. I think it’s because I’m such a chronological person- I love to keep up with dates. It’s important for me to remember where I was and what I was doing at each stage in my life. For the first months of Jack’s life, I was 29. But at 8:37 tonight, I will officially turn 30 years old.
Amidst all the other major age milestones like 16,18, 40, 50, and 60, I vote 30 as the most monumental. Being thirty means not being seen as a kid anymore- it’s a true milestone of adulthood. It means I have now lived through three decades and have made enough mistakes to learn from them and live wiser accordingly. Being 30 means having graduated through a decade of “notknowingness” (my 20′s) and being propelled into a life of definite direction.
I don’t know that I would call this a bittersweet moment. Sure, I’m a deeply nostalgic person so I always miss the past, but I say despite all the blessings so far, it only gets better from here. I couldn’t have known that 30 would come during such a transitional time in my life. Aside from the big move and welcoming my first child into this world, it’s now that my writing career is officially beginning.
Since August 2005, I have been “blogging for free.” (Though actually, during my 4 months of unemployment I was hired to write a few stories in a publication format, like this storyI wrote about a local businessman.) But this morning, on my 30th birthday, I will be mailing back two contracts to Parents.com up in New York City for two different stories they assigned me to write. They gave me the titles, now I write the entire bodies. And how did they find me? ”Dad from day one.”
I thank God for this opportunity. And at this point, I still haven’t gone public with what all is going on with my secret “dad from day one” spin-off. But it is why, in case you haven’t noticed, I bought the web domain names “nickshell.com” and “dadfromdayone.com”. It’s part of an important effort to establish my name as an author, as my name will soon be part of a well-trafficked byline. (The reason I originally bought “scenicroutesnapshots.com” is because at the time, in December 2009, “nickshell.com” was already taken- but it recently and conveniently just came available again.)
A few weeks ago on my Facebook wall I asked my friends for their help with naming my upcoming “dad from day one” spin-off. The winner was Diana Jung Taub, who sent her idea to me privately. Though the time isn’t prudent now for me to reveal the name of my spin-off, the time is prudent for you to meet her, on national television. A week from tonight, on April 27th, Diana will be a contestant on the legendary game show, Wheel of Fortune. So go ahead and check to make sure what channel and what time it comes on in your area.
Coincidentally, her son was born just a few weeks before my son Jack William. Diana’s son’s name is Jake William, and like the genetic miracle which my Jack has encountered, her son also has blonde hair and blue eyes, despite the fact that both parents have dark brown hair.
What can happen in just a year’s time? Here’s a bit of a candid, behind the scenes look at both the history and the future of “dad from day one”.
It was April 13th, 2010 that I not only officially announced to the world that my wife and I were expecting a baby, but also the day I published the very first post (“She’s Having a Baby”) for my brand new series, “dad from day one”. A year ago, I wasn’t even aware of the term for what I was doing, which now I know is “daddy blogging”. Perceiving that there was a shortage of pregnancy and baby advice from a dad’s perspective out there on the Internet at that time, I decided to be the first to dad in history to publish at least one weekly post for my daddy blog, beginning with the knowledge of the pregnancy. After a few months, once I had established my presence in the daddy blogging world, my wife sent an email to the editor of two major magazines for expecting parents, recommending them to read my blog. One of these magazines expressed interest; the other, we never heard anything back from.
The interested magazine company was American Baby, who decided to feature “dad from day one” in their November 2010 issue, which hit magazine stands in October. A few weeks later, my son Jack was born. Two weeks after that, I worked my last day for my employer of five years in Nashville so that I could move my wife and newborn to my hometown in Alabama so we can raise our son near family. For the next four months, we lived off of savings and eventually had to give ourselves a deadline of three weeks for me to find a job, or we would be forced to move back to Nashville where my employer agreed to take me back- despite all the money, effort, energy, and planning it took to move from Nashville.
We left it in God’s hands as I left my readers in suspense from March 16th until March 24th, as I too was in suspense regarding the future of where my family would live. It was no coincidence or bout of good luck; but instead, a miracle: God provided a marketing and sales job at one of the world’s largest playground equipment companies in the world. Plus, the day after that, I was offered the job (which I obviously took and now enjoy so much), I received an email confirmation from a major publishing company that I had been selected for a regular part-time writing job that will take “dad from day one” to the next level, like a “spin-off”. In a few weeks, I will be ready to go into details about it…
But I will say this: As of yesterday, Parents.com (the website for Parents magazine) assigned me my first huge “non-blog” writing assignment, completely separate from my “big surprise”. I will be writing a Father’s Day article for them and I am extremely excited about it! Soon after, I was approached by a writer who is doing a Mother’s Day article for Parents.com who will be using some of my input for her writing. Can I just say this? I love Parents.com! And my wife and I were already subscribing to their magazine before they discovered me. This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
The irony of writing this one year anniversary of consistent weekly daddy blogging is that it’s in this post that I must announce that starting today, “dad from day one” is changing to a monthly format, and later into a quarterly format in January 2012. With all the writing I will be doing (as part of my “big surprise”), I have to re-prioritize my few free hours each week. That means less new posts here in general on Scenic Route Snapshots, but the new parenting material I will be writing will be seen by more than the thousand people a day who read my site here. I’m movin’ on up, and you, my dear readers are going with me!
So what can happen in a year? All of the above. The good, the bad, the suspenseful. And thank God for it all.
Thank you, my faithful readers- even if you just recently tuned in. You’re all a part of this. Especially those of you who know me personally and help me out with “dad from day one” topics when I ask you on facebook. You encourage me. And despite already being a positive kind of a guy by nature, encouragement is still a good thing.
A couple of months ago, I briefly mentioned that Jack will be getting a new cousin- my sister and her husband are having their first child. They recently found out it’s a girl! My sister’s due date is July 2nd, which means that her daughter and Jack will be in the same school grade. Here’s the most recent picture of her:
I have always been curious about the day Jack would finally meet his first dog. Up until this point, Jack has been introduced to several “dog like” creatures, including stuffed animal dolls of E.T. and Gizmo, but never an actual living canine. We spent the past weekend with some good friends in Nashville who happen to own the coolest dog I have ever met. Admittedly, I’m not a dog person.
But Max the Cockapoo is the equivalent of Falkor the Luck Dragon (that flying dog thing from The Neverending Story). And that is a very good thing. In fact, one of life’s biggest disappointments for me, as a kid in the ’80′s, was accepting the fact that there truly is no such thing as Luck Dragons. Max the Cockapoo doesn’t fly through the air, but he is one of the few dogs I have met who truly accepts me as I am and who doesn’t smell bad. He is one chillaxed dog. Therefore, he is totally my speed.
Naturally I had envisioned Jack and Max instantly becoming big buddies, since in essence, Max is the dog equivalent of Jack. I imagined Jack smiling real big whenever Max would walk up to him and I even expected Max and Jack to take naps together. But this bromance didn’t unfold that way, in reality. It’s not that they didn’t get along. It’s that Jack didn’t realize that Max was a living dog. Instead, I believe, Jack thought Max was the shag carpet rug he’s used to lying down on in our living room at home. To Jack, Max was simply a moving shag carpet rug.
But being the classy dog he is, Max didn’t take it personally. However, Max still did his dogly duty of looking after Jack. When Jack would cry, Max would rush over and sniff him. Of course, we humans fed and changed Jack’s diapers accordingly, but Max’s habit of sniffing Jack was his way of treating him like the youngest pup in the litter. Even when Jack pulled Max’s face fur, Max was cool about it.
It was by observing Jack and Max together that I taught myself that dogs don’t actually smell “bad things”. Instead, every smell is simply just another interesting smell. So the couple of times that Jack passed gas and Max hurried to come smell it, Max was simply getting a different form of a doggie treat. At least Jack could give Max that much. And it made great entertainment for us humans to watch.
For now, Max the Cockapoo is a white shag carpet in Jack’s eyes. But one day, Jack will understand the difference between humans, rugs, and dogs. And this inevitable friendship will occur. Jack will befriend the canine equivalent of himself and the two of them will be Joe Cool buddies, at last.
I often forget just how many references can be made to the name “Jack”. When I refer to my wife and son in conversation and say “Jack and Jill…”, it’s simply me talking about my family. But I have to remind myself that the first thing most people will think of when they hear “Jack and Jill” is the nursery rhyme. So this week when I posted two videos of Jack’s first car, a Huggies box, and titled them “Baby Box” and “Baby Box 2″, I suppose it was a bit ironic. Because the obvious phrase to include in the name of the videos should have been “Jack in the Box”. I overlooked the most obvious reference.
Everyone is familiar with the idea of a young child being more excited about the box that a gift came in than the gift itself. Jack’s diaper box is no different. If it were up to him, he would just go around naked all the time. And if it weren’t for that whole “not potty trained yet” thing, I’d be okay with it. Earlier this week I saw him eyeing the empty Huggies box, ready for garbage take-out. So I dropped him it, turned on the engine, and as expected, he loved his new ride.
When it comes to an actual Jack in the Box, though, he’s not excited in any way. Because when the clown (in our case, it’s a sock monkey) pops out of the box, it doesn’t scare or surprise him. Instead, the look on Jack’s face is more like “What, am I supposed to be impressed”? He’d rather have a Huggies box.