Thursday, December 30th, 2010
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.
Categories: People, Spirituality, Storytelling, The Dadabase | Tags: Alabama, Atlanta, Away in a Manger, baby, Birmingham, Bloodsport, Chattanooga, Christmas, college dorm, dad blog, dad from day one, English, fight, Fort Payne, Gulf of Mexico, Jean Claude Van Damme, Jesus, Koh Samui, Liberty University, manger, Meet the Parents, Muay Thai, Nashville, parenthood, Sacramento, Thailand, wagon, White Christmas
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 hair. Though 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:
Categories: People, The Dadabase | Tags: American, baby blog, boy or girl, Chinese calendar, Croatia, Croatian, dad from day one, English, ethinicity, family tree, fatherhood, French, gender, German, goo goo gah gah, Greek, hair color, having kids, Hebrew, height, heritage, Iowa, Ireland, Irish, Italian, Jewish, journal, Mexican, Mork and Mindy, nanu nanu, Nick Shell, Norwegian, pregnancy, Puppy Surprise, Sesame Street, The Count, Transylvania, Vietnamese, Year of the Tiger