Posts Tagged ‘ American ’

The Trifecta of Hard Work, Consistency, and Creativity

Monday, September 12th, 2011

Nine months.

As a husband and dad, it’s important to me that I am inspiring and engaging to my wife and son. So I have adopted an assumed business model to do just that: to be not only hardworking and consistent, but also creative.

A lot of people in this world are hard working and consistent, but many of them lack that third element of the trifecta: creativity. A man can work hard and consistent his whole life but never really break a certain point in his career because of a lack of it.

Hard work and consistency are what keep the conveyer belts going. But being creative is what puts new products on that conveyor belt, maybe even replacing the conveyor belt itself with something better.

New ideas are what advance the world; new ideas are born out of creativity.

So how does this business model of the “creativity, hard work, consistency” trifecta have anything to do with marriage and parenting? For me, a whole lot.

As a husband, it’s important that I take the initiative to think of fresh ideas to make my wife feel special and loved. And as a dad, I’ve  learned the necessity of inventing all kinds of weird voices and games to entertain my son in an effort to keep him engaged, or at least distracted when he’s being really clingy with my wife while she’s trying to get dinner cooked.

This week I happen to be reading the book Parenting with Fire, by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, who explains the importance of creativity in his family:

“The answer is for us to start thinking of ourselves as camp counselors, and our homes as bunks, and for us to fill family free time with activities that captivate and entertain all its members.”

Ultimately, I think as a parent it can be easy to find myself in a mindset where I am so focused on figuring out how to be a “normal” parent, that I forget part of being normal is being weird; in other words, being creative.

Unexpected Invite!

Speaking of inspiring, engaging, and entertaining, it’s time for the 2011…

Parents.com is currently searching for the best parenting blogs out there and they need your help to vote in the most popular. There are a dozen categories in need of a winner. What other daddy blogs are out there besides mine? Find out and cast your vote, by clicking here.

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The Importance of a Man’s Shoes

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

Twenty-three weeks.

I blame it on my Italian heritage, which trickled down to me throughout my life thanks to my grandfather Metallo; of course, since I grew up in the South, he was simply “Paw Paw”.  I’ve inherited an instinct to incorporate just a little bit of peculiar character in purchased items.  It’s a careful balance of finding items that are slightly flashy and clashing, yet still classy, but not trashy. (Bet you can’t say that phrase five times real fast…)

In this American generation, the idea of a man caring much about his shoes is often considered to be related to gay or metrosexual culture.  But I don’t subscribe to that mentality.  In fact, I believe an important part of being a man is how he dresses; and as everyone should know, his shoes are the most important part of the wardrobe, since they ultimately set the tone for his clothing.

My mindset is more of an old-school class American idea; yet it is still a staple concept of any movie or TV show portraying Italian culture.  From The Godfather movies to The Sopranos, the way an Italian man dresses is well planned out.  Never an accident.  Italians are not slobs.

Paw Paw Metallo

Being that my wife and I both are one quarter Italian, our son Jack will also be one quarter Italian as well.  That means he will not get by with the typical American guy’s shoe collection: a pair of black dress shoes, a brown pair of boots, a pair of running shoes, and a pair of flip flops.  No, not my son.

Jack will be like me.  I own no less than 15 pairs of shoes, some of which are at least 10 years old, yet you would never know it because I take such good care of them.  And while Jack won’t be born for another three months, he already has two pairs of essential “flashy, clashing, and classy yet not trashy” shoes awaiting him.

Last week as my wife and I were registering at Target, we found some shoes on clearance that not only meet the criteria, but also are essentially identical to shoes I already own.  A pair of Kelly green sneakers (6-9 months, in time for Summer) and a pair of white leather loafers (12-18 months, just in time for Christmas).  Like father, like son.

*Jack is still the size of a papaya; no major change in fruit size this week.

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

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com

Official "baby bump" picture

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The Gender of the Baby

Friday, June 18th, 2010

“Sadie, Chloe, Sammy, or Max, chillin’ in a baby sack.  Tristan, Evan, Lily, Zoey, or Jack…” -Candy Butchers, “Let’s Have a Baby”

Nineteen weeks.

After my grandmother’s dream and my wife’s co-worker’s psychic’s prediction of it being a girl, it was pretty obvious to us what the gender of our baby would be.  I drove down to the appointment yesterday full of excitement, knowing that I could finally tell everyone that our intuition was correct once I would get the official confirmation.

Several anxious moments passed as the nurse showed us pictures our  our baby, then finally she asked us, “Do you want to know what it is?”

Laughing, full of confidence, we told her that we were quite sure already, but yes, tell us for sure.

“You’re having a boy.”

I wish I had a YouTube clip of our reaction.  “WHAT?!  NO WAY!  ARE YOU SERIOUS?!”  Etc., etc.  All exclaimed while hysterically laughing.

Not that it mattered either way to us.  I just don’t think I’ve ever been more surprised in my life.  I wish there was a way to type in a “laughing font” to better show my tone here.  I’m so happy!  We’re having a boy!

This is an "under the scrotum" shot.

Of course now it’s time to answer the other question: What are you naming him?

First name: Jack

Middle name: William

Last name: Shell

Here’s how we came up with the name:

He will go by “Jack”, which is my dad’s name.

Which is an alternate version of John, which is Hebrew (Jewish) for “God’s grace”.  Which just sounds like a cool name.  It’s simple, not too popular, and easy to spell and say.  And Jack also happens to be the name of the lead character of the best show ever made, LOST (played by Matthew Fox, who is also part Italian.)

Jack is the size of a mango.

Plus, my wife’s name is Jill… so it’ll be “Jack and Jill”.

His middle name, William, (my wife’s dad’s name) is German and loosely translates as “protector”.

His last name, Shell, (originally spelled “Schel” at some point in American history) is German and loosely translates to “loud and noisy”.

That being said, Jack William Shell is a Jewish-German-German name which fully translates as “God’s gracious gift of loud and noisy protection.”  I’m already picturing a little boy wearing a pot on top of his head, running around the house, banging a pan with a wooden spoon, being “loud and noisy”.

Most importantly, Baby Jack is healthy, thank God!

Jack, the boy.  Who knew?

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

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com

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Reviewing The Business of Being Born

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Fourteen weeks.  Second trimester.

For the past several weeks, my wife has been toying with the idea of “going natural” for the birth.  In other words, no pain medication.  And I’ve been impressed just by her willingness, because I know if it were up to the men of the world to continue the human population by giving birth instead of women, the human population would have died off thousands of years ago.

I had been seeing The Business of Being Born keep popping up on my Netflix as a recommended title that I would enjoy.  Then recently, a writer friend (http://www.meetmissjones.com/) also told me I should see it after she read about our disappointment with our first two appointments at a standard hospital.  (Of course, we ended up switching to midwives and are so happy, though I had no idea what a midwife really even was when we first met with them.)

So last night we watched the documentary, The Business of Being Born, directed by Ricki Lake and produced by Abby Epstein (yes, they are both Jewish).  I went into it thinking it would be a tiring movie telling how much money is made off of strollers, cribs, daycare, etc.

Instead, it is a one-sided film about the importance of the long-lost tradition of natural births.  And we loved it!

I took notes:

-Induced labor increases the chances of C-Section by 50%

-In Japan and Europe, 70% of births are delivered by a midwife.  In the US, only 8%

-The US has the 2nd worst newborn death rate in the developed world

-The US has one of the highest maternal mortality rates among all industrialized countries

-Since 1996 the C-Section rate in the US has risen 46%; In 2005, it was one out of every 3 American births

While there are obviously certain situations where a C-Section is absolutely necessary (like the baby being “breach”), it is a major surgery that has become the new norm.

Interestingly, in the movie, a group of young doctors are asked how many live births they have witnessed.  Basically, none of them had.

And to me, that’s scary.  That it’s easier, less time consuming, and more profitable to induce labor and perform a C-Section that it is to let the baby born naturally.

In the documentary they explain how the peak times for American babies being born is at 4pm and 10pm, the times at the end of the work shifts so that doctors can go home.

For me, the desire to have a natural birth all comes down to observing the downward spiral of having a baby in a hospital, with a doctor, the American way:

The mother is given Pitocin, to induce labor.  Which causes longer, more intense contractions and cuts off oxygen to the baby, putting both the mother and the baby at risk, as well as potentially causing birth defects (even ADHD or Autism in the child later on, though not enough evidence can back this yet, but I won’t be surprised when it can).

So inducing labor increases the chances of having a C-Section by 50%, which puts both mother and child at greater risk.  And the epidural slows down the birthing process- which in addition to the Pitocin, is another drug that may also affect the health of the baby.

Until last night, I had never witnessed a live human birth.  But now I’ve seen at least four or five.  All of them natural.

It’s pretty interesting to watch.  I didn’t think it was gross, and I’m not artistic enough off a person to go on and on about how beautiful it was.  It just seemed natural and normal.  Like watching someone poop.  But a baby came out instead.

The Business of Being Born does contain a large amount of nudity, as most of the mothers are nude while giving birth.  But we were so intrigued by watching the births, that it didn’t register, “hey, this is porn”.  It was just a woman giving birth.  The documentary is not rated, because if it was, it may have to be rated NC-17.  But to that I say, What Movie Rating Does Real Life Get?

One of the major reasons I now support natural birth (and denounce induced labor by a doctor, with certain exceptions) is the fact that in a hospital, the mother lays down flat on a bed.  Common sense tells us that gravity will naturally help pull the baby out.  Plus the fact that by having the mother lay down flat, it gives the baby less room to come out.

I also learned that when a baby is born naturally, “a love cocktail of hormones” is released by the mother, causing a unique bond to occur between the mother and the child.

This is where we’re headed.  This is what we will attempt.  A natural birth overseen by midwives.  Yet just down the hall from an M.D. in case something goes wrong.

We just have to be weird, don’t we?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Business_of_Being_Born

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

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com

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The Minor Details

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

What will be his or her heritage?  How tall will he or she be as an adult?  Boy or girl?  I’m answering the tough questions today, based on educated theories.

This series isn’t a “baby blog”.  Instead, it’s a documented journey of what a first time dad thinks about, starting from when I first found out and started sharing the news with everyone.  Because this info is coming from a man, who processes things in black and white, it’s possible that the tone will be a mix of both practical and abstract.  No goo-goo gah-gah.  But maybe a little nanu-nanu.

In fraction form, here are the proportions of my coming child’s ethnicity:

1/4 Italian (my wife and I are both this)

1/8 Croatian (from my wife; Croatia is the country we know today as “Transylvania”, The Count from Sesame Street speaks with a Croatian accent)

1/8 Mexican (from me, my mom’s mom’s family moved to Buffalo from Mexico)

1/8 Norwegian (my wife’s grandfather on her dad’s side was from Norway, but was adopted by an English couple in Iowa)

1/8 German (from me, where the Shell name comes from, as well as a little bit from my wife’s Norwegian side)

1/8 Irish (my wife’s grandmother on her dad’s side came to America as an indentured servant from Ireland)

1/8 English (from me, where the pale skin and light freckles come from)

*Greek (higher up on my dad’s family tree, there were two separate Greek ancestors; family tradition tell us that a Greek ended up on the Italian side as well)

*French (in my wife’s Italian lineage, family tradition tells us that a Frenchman got thrown in the mix)

*Jewish (my Mexican grandmother swears that my late Italian grandfather was part Jewish, and based on the family’s speech patterns, uses of random Hebrew words, and quirky behavior, I’m convinced it’s true)

Virtually, on both my wife’s side and my side of the gene pool, there is no man 6 feet tall or more, nor is there a woman 5’ 8” or more.  Combined with the fact that I am 5’ 9” (the average height of the American man) and my wife is 5’ 6” (two inches taller than the average height of the American woman), here are the most likely height ranges for our child once they become full grown:

Boy: between 5’ 8” and 5’ 11”

Girl: between 5’ 3” and 5’ 7”

Hair color on both sides generally ranges from medium brown to jet black, therefore it’s most likely the child will have semi-wavy, dark brown hairThough I do have two blonde-haired, blue-eyed aunts and also a red-headed, green-eyed aunt as well.

In one of my Mexican grandma’s dreams, the baby was a girl.  But based on a Vietnamese co-worker who correctly predicted the gender of my boss’s kid based on a Chinese calendar, he told me that there is a 70% change it is a boy.  My wife’s mom gave birth to 10 kids, and only 3 were girls.

My instinct tells me it’s a girl.  We’ll know in eight weeks if I’m wrong.

All this baby guesswork makes me think of those commercials for Puppy Surprise from 1992:  “Puppy, puppy, puppy surprise…  How many puppies are there inside?  There could be three, or four, or five…”

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

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com

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