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Wednesday, October 16th, 2013
2 years, 11 months.
As we anticipated our 2nd trip to the Louisville Zoo, I had been trying to hype up the train ride they have, since we didn’t get a chance to ride it last time.
“No, I don’t want to ride that train.”
I didn’t believe you. I figured maybe you just didn’t know for sure what I was talking about.
After all, how could a little boy who is obsessed with Chugginton and Thomas & Friends not want to actually ride a little train around the zoo?
But Z-Day came and you held true to your word: You still didn’t want to ride it, adding, “I scared!”
However, you weren’t given a choice. There we were in line for the train ride with my parents, my sister, my brother-in-law, and your girl cousin who is 7 months younger than you.
You were getting on that train. Whether or not you would allow yourself to enjoy it, that was the part I didn’t know.
For the first minute or so of the ride, you buried your head in Mommy’s shoulder.
Then you heard all the fun happening around and you just couldn’t pretend not to be there anymore. It was nearly immediately that you began screaming with excitement.
We blasted through a series of tunnels, which from what I can remember, sort of looked like the rainbow graffiti-looking artwork on the Coldplay album, Mylo Xyloto.
With the zoo being decorated in a Fall/Halloween theme, there were plenty of other interesting things to distract you from the fact that just minutes before you were somewhat terrified.
I remember we saw some giant spiders and goofy monsters.
You loved the train ride.
It was a challenge for you, though. It placed you out of your comfort zone.
I’m not fully convinced you won’t be afraid to ride the next zoo train you encounter, but at least now I know that you enjoyed the ride in the end.
Thanks for being a brave little toaster. I mean, the little engine that could.
P.S. To see more pictures of our family road trip, go to The Dadabase’s Facebook page and click on the picture folder, Louisville AdVANture Road Trip October 2013.
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Wednesday, November 21st, 2012
2 years old.
There’s this cliche about dads trying to live their lives vicariously through their sons.
As the dad thinks back on his own life, regarding things he wishes he could have done differently, he attempts to rewrite history by making sure his son does those things he was never able or willing to.
Well, that’s what I’m doing with you.
But not in the token way where I force you to play sports or try to make you become a doctor or lawyer.
The way I am doing it is much more simple, yet epic.
What I am attempting to do is to make you a braver and more daring little boy than I was.
I remember crying a lot as a little boy because I was afraid to try or do anything new.
Back in Halloween 1986, there was this church party where one of the dads put together this 12 foot long tunnel cave out of refrigerator boxes.
I only made it through about four feet of that tunnel before I turned around. That decision symbolized a lot of the remainder of my childhood.
It was probably 4th grade before I began developing a true sense of confidence in who I was, and therefore, my ability to overcome my fears of taking on scary challenges.
However, I don’t think you’ll be the timid little boy I remember being. With just a little prodding, I am able to get you to choose to overcome your anxieties.
Fast forward from Halloween 1986 to Halloween 2012. A few weeks ago, when we were in Sacramento visiting Mommy’s side of the family, your cousin Savannah wanted to play with you in the “jumpy house.”
You had always been afraid of jumpy houses. I basically forced you into the jumpy house, then Savannah took over from there.
The truth is, you barely hesitated once you got inside. Then you you couldn’t get enough.
I was only able to eventually pry you away because it was time to eat cake.
Sure, I sort of forced you to overcome your fear. But ultimately, it was your decision. Had you cried and thrown a tantrum, I would have given up.
Instead, you gave it a shot.
You’re a brave little boy.
I never made it through that refrigerator box tunnel in the church basement. It still bothers me to this day.
Son, I admire your will and your courage at such a young age.
So while I may live vicariously through you sometimes as I try to get you to do things I would have been too afraid to when I was your age, you don’t really need my influence too much.
Sure, my gentle push helps. But you’re brave and curious enough on your own.
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Thursday, November 1st, 2012
I sit on the couch in the dark with a lame Halloween movie on in the background and my sleeping wife by my side.
Right now it’s 9:36 PM in the quiet neighborhood of Walnut Grove, California, where we are visiting my wife’s family for our annual family “vacation.”
(It’s no secret that when the word “vacation” and “toddler” are in the same sentence… well, it’s pretty much a prompt for laugh tracks.)
After sifting through our 23 month-old son’s candy stash from tonight, I am buzzed on peanut butter cups and everything else chocolate.
As for Jack’s own candy peddling efforts, which brought me to my current state of cocoa delirium, we visited about a dozen houses before he saw the fire truck there to help patrol the neighborhood. A friendly fireman agreed to take our family picture. (Bottom photo.)
Just a couple of hours ago before I put him to bed, Jack was at the front door helping giving candy to “the kids.”
It was really funny because every time the door bell rang, he ran to the door, anxious to see what strangely dressed child would be standing there.
My favorite was a little boy who wasn’t much older than him, wearing a Thomas the Train costume.
The boy saw Jack wearing his train conductor costume and shouted out to this mother, “Look! He’s a train conductor! A train conductor!”
Then things got semi-awkward as the little boy saw the toy train that Jack was holding. He assumed that in addition to candy, Jack was going to give him a train too.
Thomas the Train and the train conductor stared at each other for a long 15 seconds before the boy’s mom took him by the hand to leave for the next house.
It’s a weird, random “holiday” anyway.
Looking back on this past week of Halloween, these past couple of days in particular have included family neighborhood walks where the agenda has been “looking for owls.”
For Jack, ghosts are owls.
I finally only recently realized that every time Jack saw a ghost decoration or toy, I always made a Scoobie Doo style “whoooooo” sound.
So I get it now: Ghosts sound like owls and therefore, they are owls.
Well, this isn’t the end of Halloween for us, or Jack’s costume, at least. He has his first (of two) 2nd birthday parties this weekend.
We decided what better outfit could Jack wear for his birthday parties other than his train conductor costume? After all, his birthday parties this year will have a train theme.
So these are only the first of many more pictures of Train Conductor Jack.
I guess you could say we’re going green when it comes to Halloween, as we will be reusing his costume. Of course, I have a feeling that Jack wouldn’t mind dressing like a train conductor every day if we let him.
Actually, I wouldn’t be opposed to that.
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Sunday, October 21st, 2012
If I was ever convicted of a heinous crime, I would rather be executed than to have to live out the rest of my life in prison.
Because I don’t deal with boredom well at all… unless I have an outlet.
Granted, I’m pretty confident I won’t suddenly decide to become a serial killer any time soon, so I really don’t have anything to worry about.
Hi. I’m Nick Shell and this is my positive and upbeat blog about fatherhood.
For a minute there you may have felt like you were on the wrong channel or at least that I’ve been watching too much CSI or Shawshank Redemption.
Actually, that was my way of indirectly helping to remind us all for a minute what it was like to be bored as a kid.
To think of how my 23 month-old son has to remain strapped into a car seat for an hour each day…
How is he not bored out of his mind? I give him toys and books to occupy him, but those only help for so long.
In general, as a kid, you are dragged around by your parents, having to go wherever they take you, as you hope there will be something at least halfway interesting once you get there.
Our brains process loneliness as pain, as I learned from a National Geographic documentary on solitary confinement.
Often, loneliness and boredom go hand in hand.
So my theory is that children have to have good imaginations in order to survive childhood. It’s part of the process of growing stronger.
Tis the season for plentiful amounts of made-in-China Halloween toys.
Notice the Jack-o-lantern necklace Jack is wearing in the picture above.
He ran around the house this morning pretending it was shooting lasers, calling the sci-fi pumpkin weapon his “Orange Jake Ball.”
Evidently he forgot the word for pumpkin, but remembered that yesterday he painted pumpkins with his new friend Jake.
That’s a boy’s imagination alright.
And then there’s the rubber eyeball…
I made the mistake of letting him carry it upstairs with him during bath time. Needless to say, prying it out of his hand for bedtime was not an easy task:
Jack was so excited this morning when we not only let him have some “fluffy” but also let him have his eyeball as part of the scenery.
This afternoon we walked to the community Fall Festival. Along the way, Jack found an Osage-Orange, also known as a hedge-apple.
Basically, it’s a strange brain-looking fruit that is inedible but is used in making insecticides.
Fortunately, Jack’s “yellow ball” along with his eyeball helped the two of us have a more legitimate presence in a social gathering where a good number of the people there were in Halloween costumes.
With his 2nd birthday coming up in a few weeks, I know he will be receiving some really cool Thomas & Friends die cast metal toys, because that’s what we’re getting for him.
But it’s good to know that even without real toys, Jack would manage just fine with a rubber eye ball, a pumpkin necklace, and a prehistoric fruit that looks like a brain.
Yes, kids have wonderful imaginations… because they have to!
That’s how they deal with living in a big, scary, unknown world.
Actually, that should give us adults every reason to keep our childlike imaginations.
I say that because I know, at least for me, the world I live in isn’t small, safe, or fully understandable.
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Wednesday, October 26th, 2011
As if Halloween wasn’t already a cool enough “holiday,” with all the free candy and the part about getting to dress up as whatever you want and get away with it, there is yet another really good reason to love Halloween:
You don’t have to feel guilty for not celebrating it for the “right reasons!”
It’s not like with Christmas, where people preach to each other about the cliche of “getting so caught up in the hustle and bustle of Christmas that you forget the real meaning of it all.”
And while I would love to enjoy my Peeps with a clear mind, I admit how easy it is to get distracted by the delicious pastel commercialism of Easter; instead of being reminded of how and why Jesus Christ was raised from the dead for the sake of mankind.
Heck, I can’t even have a guilt-free conscious on Columbus Day, because it’s basically just celebrating when a Spanish-sponsored Italian explorer “discovered” a continent of natives who would ultimately be conquered by Europeans for their land. I guess that’s how the history of the world goes- dividing and defeating; not that I’m okay with that.
But with Halloween, all you have to really do is just have a good time. It gives parents a reason to have just as much fun as their kids.
Now, I guess technically, Halloween is based on a pagan holiday where people celebrate their dead ancestors coming back to life or something like that. I don’t really care.
Because Halloween has become so commercialized in modern day America that all it’s about is pretending to be someone you’re not and getting free candy for it. I won’t argue with that.
To help celebrate the upcoming sugar rush, I personally invite you to download Parents magazine’s free Carve-a-Pumpkin app:
Carve-a-Pumpkin from Parents® magazine is the easiest — and safest (no knives involved!) — way to make jack-o-lanterns with your family this Halloween.
Choose from five different pumpkin styles, then either “carve” a design of your own, or pick from our library of wacky eyes, noses, and mouths.
Add a message and you’re ready to share your creation with all your friends! This easy-to-navigate, take-anywhere tool is perfect for families on the go. Products from Parents magazine help moms and dads celebrate the joys of parenthood and raise kids in a healthy, safe, and loving environment.
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