Sunday, November 20th, 2011
Though I wasn’t born and raised in Nashville, my wife and I met, married, had our first child here. I am one of the biggest Nashville fans there is. I love this city! Therefore, I feel honored to share with you today why you should move your family to Nashville; that is, if you’re considering a new city to move your family.
With a population of 601, 222, Nashville is the 25th largest city in the United States; sandwiched in between Washington DC and Denver, Colorado; both of which contain a nearly identical population. Some people say that Nashville is the biggest small town you’ll ever visit. It’s a perfect mix of big city opportunities, open-mindedness, and Southern hospitality.
Here are my top 8 reasons to raise a family in Nashville, Tennessee:
1. Financial opportunities. The cost of living is decently low and the job market is pretty big. I had no problem getting a very good job straight out of college, as did my wife. Then after moving away for 8 months when our son was born, it was no problem to return back to our former employers. Granted, we have wonderful employers; but still, it’s a land of opportunity here.
2. Central location. Nashville is located in the middle of Tennessee, which is tied with Missouri for being America’s most border-friendly state; they both border 8 other states. From Nashville, you’re close enough to the rest of the South, yet still in close proximity to lower Midwestern states like Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. An eight hour drive from Nashville in any direction can get you all kinds of places.
3. Cultural diversity. I’m the kind of person who thrives by being around different people and cultures. In Nashville, I’m never too far from someone with a last name I can’t pronounce or spell. I have noticed that over all, the collective accent here is a watered-down Southern one; comparable to Louisville, KY. We have the largest US population of Kurds (around 11,000); not to mention an impressive Jewish population for a Southern city. Yet there are still no Jewish Country music stars… Unless Taylor Swift’s last name is really Stein. (It’s not; I checked.)
4. Health-consciousness. Everyday on the drive to work, I pass several runners and bicyclists, whom I assume are preparing for Nashville’s Country Music Marathon. When it comes to finding healthy food, you’re not limited to fast food joints with yellow and red signs to subconsciously try to get you to slow down and stop there. As far as grocery shopping, in addition to a large Whole Foods Market presence here, it’s pretty easy to find a Publix, where kosher-abiding, lenient vegetarians like my wife and I can easily find what we need to plan our meals.
5. Friendly people. Anytime I’ve ever heard an outsider talking about their visits to Nashville, they always comment on how friendly everyone is down here. I’m not saying you won’t get flipped off in after-work traffic if you cut someone off; it’s not a utopia. But over all, people are genuine here.
6. Social opportunities. No doubt about it, living in Nashville means you’re always on the go- because there’s a lot going on here; in a good way. In addition to the financial opportunities, there are endless social opportunities here. It’s the kind of place where if you have trouble making friends, it’s your own dang fault.
7. Moderate climate. Nashville is hot in the summer and cold in the winter; yes, it actually snows here. But it’s never too hot or too cold for too long. Not to mention, the land itself is beautiful. The downside: Nashville is not kind to allergy sufferers. If you’ve never had allergy or sinus problems before, you probably will once you get here.
8. Religious community. We are often cited as the”Buckle of the Bible Belt” as well as the “Protestant Vatican.” It’s easy to find a church as huge or as tiny as you like. Of course, the ease of finding a like-minded religious gathering isn’t limited to just Protestants. My Catholic mother-in-law had no trouble finding a Mass she enjoys when she visits here. Accordingly, if you are Mormon, Jewish, Greek Orthodox, or Muslim, you’ll also easily find a place to worship.
If you will be visiting Nashville soon, leave a comment on The Dadabase Facebook wall and I’ll be happy to help you plan your weekend according to your family’s tastes.
Categories: Home Life, Must Read, People, Spirituality, Storytelling | Tags: family, Greek, Jewish, kosher, Muslim, Nashville, Tennessee
Tuesday, May 31st, 2011
Jack may have been born as a Mexican baby, but he has gradually morphed into a little Norwegian boy. The supreme irony is that when Jack was born, he almost looked too dark to be my son. Six months later, it’s the opposite situation.
If you grew up in the late 1980′s and early 1990′s, then by default one of your favorite sitcoms was Full House. And whenever you think of Uncle Jesse, you think of his awesome video for “Forever” where he is wearing a black leather vest while in a bathtub surrounded by candles. Also featured in the music video were Jesse and Rebecca’s twin sons, Nicky and Alex.
For me, I was always distracted by the fact that a dark featured Greek guy and a normal complected woman with reddish brown hair would have sons that had blonde hair, blue eyes, and light skin. I already had enough trouble believing that Danny Tanner would have three daughters with blondish hair when he himself had black hair (Bob Saget is Jewish in real life) with their mother who was also Greek; she was Jesse’s sister. But light featured kids don’t come from dark featured parents, especially when there is a Mediterranean bloodline… I thought to myself for 20 years.
When Jack was born, and in the month or so to follow, he was a Mexican. His skin was darker than mine, his hair was jet black, and his general features just simply looked Hispanic, or at least Italian. That’s because my maternal grandmother, Delores “Lola” Mendez is a dark-featured Mexican from Buffalo, New York and my Italian grandfather, Albert Metallo, was a dark featured Italian from Kenosha, Wisconsin.
In fact, when you climb both sides of the family tree (both my wife’s and mine) you continually find dark haired people with dark eyes. But there is the fact that my wife’s paternal grandfather was a Norwegian orphan adopted by an American family, who married an indentured servant from Ireland. In other words, despite the influx of “dark genes”, Jack evidently adopted the underdog “lighter” genes.
My wife and I have a blonde haired, blue eyed son with porcelain skin. He’s sort of the “white sheep” in the family. And now that he’s officially six months old, the age at which a baby’s eye color remains permanent (based on what I’ve read), we now know it’s official. Granted, I realize there’s a good chance that the older Jack gets, the darker his hair will get. He may not always be blonde, but he will always have lighter skin than his parents who have a subtle olive complexion (skin with yellow and green undertones). And people will always ask us, “Where’d that boy of yours get those pretty, deep blue eyes?”
Knowing me, I’ll probably reference Nicky and Alex from Full House every time I answer that question.
1) The Four Generations of Shell in December 2010; my grandfather Shell is sitting in the middle, holding my son Jack, in between my dad and me.
2) The Four Generations of Metallo/Mendez in January 2011; my grandmother Metallo is sitting in the middle, in between my mom and me.
3) In May 2011, Jack is holding a sign that reads, “I am 6 months old today.”
*To get a better idea of just how different Jack used to look, look on the right side of the screen and click on the archives. Start at November 2010, the month he was born.
Categories: Growing Up, Must Read, Nostalgia, People, Storytelling, The Dadabase | Tags: dad, daddy blog, ethnicity, family, family tree, Full House, Greek, Italian, Kenosha, Mexican, Norwegian
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