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.
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The Four Generations of Shells: Baby Jack is the only Shell boy to carry on the family name.
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Friday, December 3rd, 2010
I was just telling my wife last night how it’s amazing what five years can do for a person. When I moved to Nashville on September 11, 2005, I was a single 24 year old college grad with no “real job” experience. But since then, I’ve not only learned how to use a fax machine, but a year after moving here I met the love of my life and obviously recently started a family with her. Five years ago I just knew that Nashville was where I was supposed to be- and without a doubt I was correct in thinking that. But now, that same small voice that compelled me to move to Nashville is now leading the both of us to leave this wonderful city and start a simple life in a simple town. So on Saturday morning, we will be making the two and a half hour trek to our new city of residence- and my new full time job will be finding a full time job.
Fort Payne, AL
Of course, Nashville will always be a big part of our lives. I know it will be our getaway place from here on out. We’ve made some great friends here. Friendships that we are confident will last a lifetime. (Especially the ones who will let us stay with them when come back to visit…) I wouldn’t want to imagine life if I wouldn’t have moved to Nashville. It was the right thing to do at the time. But now it’s the right thing to do by moving to “Fort Who?” It’s Fort Payne. Not Pain.
We are extremely excited about the new life ahead of us. Baby Jack will be raised around his family. Which I recently found out is growing: My sister told me last weekend that she and her husband are expecting their first child. It couldn’t have been planned this perfectly. Jack’s new and only cousin on my side of the family is expected to be born the week of our 3rd wedding anniversary. The due date is July 2nd. That means that Jack and his cousin will be in the same grade at the same school in the same small town. Pretty cool, huh?
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baby blog, dad, dad from day one, family, finding a job, Fort Payne, friendships, lifetime, Nashville, parenting, September 11, starting a family. simple life | Categories:
People, Storytelling, The Dadabase
Thursday, November 25th, 2010
Week 1 of Jack’s life.
In the Season One finale of dad from day one, I promised an interesting plot twist. So here in this premier of Season Two, I’m letting everyone know my own meaning of the phrase “Sweet Home Alabama”.
As I explained in due date, a common trait of ‘80’s sitcoms was that a family was introduced to an outsider who suddenly moved in their home, therefore creating a new sense of “normal”. An exception was Just the Ten of Us, where the Lubbock family moved from the state of New York (the setting of Growing Pains, which it was a spin-off from) to California. Dad from day one will be combining both of those plot devices: the newcomer and the new setting. Next Saturday morning, December 4th (on the 4th day of Hanukkah- for any Jewish readers out there) we will pack up our PT Cruiser and Element for the 2 ½ trip (not counting baby delays) from Nashville, TN to the small mountain/valley town of Fort Payne, AL (pop. 14,000 not including illegal immigrants) where I was raised.
Something that makes this really interesting is when I am asked: “So do you have a job lined up?” Nope. That’s part of the reason we are so briskly making the Hometown Migration- so I can search full time for a new job during the whole month of December while living off leftover paychecks and savings. Despite having nearly five years of career experience involving sales, doing trade shows, hiring, and training, I am not naïve to think that a new job will magically appear the week we move to Alabama.
However, I have this belief that as a follower of Jesus Christ, God knows I will make a lot of noise and commotion honoring Him before and after He answers my prayer. And since I believe that glorifying God in all things is the ultimate meaning of life, I am confident that at the right time, God will provide for me so that I can provide for my family. As Jesus put it, when a child asks his father for bread or fish to eat, his father doesn’t give him a stone or a serpent instead. I love that example.
In Fort Payne, we will be living less than three miles from not only my parents but also my sister and her husband. We know that this quiet town will not only be the right place for Baby Jack to grow up, but also the most practical place for my wife and I to care for him- to be able to watch him grow up slowly, as compared to seeing him only a couple of hours a day in a big city life. There is no mall in Fort Payne; only a Super Wal-Mart. There are oddly no Italian restaurants, which will be difficult for Baby Jack, my wife, and myself who all happen to be a quarter Italian and need marinara sauce and garlic bread in order to function properly. And sadly, for my wife, there is no Starbucks: I think the nearest one is about an hour away.
A lifestyle without malls, Italian restaurants, and Starbucks is precisely what the three of us need. Because despite leaving all those so-called conveniences behind, we will be able to slow down the pace of life to the speed it needs to be. My wife and I are extremely happy about the move. In a sitcom it’s pretty normal for each new season to bring about new characters on the show. New characters, new city, new plotlines, here we come.
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American Baby, baby, California, Christianity, dad from day one, Fort Payne, Hanukah, Hanukkah, Honda Element, illegal immigrants, Italian, Italian food, Jesus, Jesus Christ, moving back home, Nashville, parenting, sitcom, Sweet Home Alabama, TV shows | Categories:
People, Spirituality, Storytelling, The Dadabase