Posts Tagged ‘ kosher ’

5 Reasons This Dad Despises New Year’s Resolutions

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011

One year.

Today I’m assuming the role of a motivational speaker. So imagine yourself at some big pretentious conference out in Seattle, having just enjoyed a ham sandwich boxed lunch (it was included in the price).

I’m not so sure why I approved pork for lunch when I myself am kosher, but let’s move past that little glitch in our mutually shared daydream.

Equipped with laser pointer in hand and appropriately slicked back hair, I run up on stage while Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” blares on the Peavey speakers, after some other guy you’ve never heard of has just introduced me to the audience to make me seem more important and famous than I am.

Here are the notes I would be speaking from, regarding the topic, Five Reasons This Dad Despises New Year’s Resolutions:

1. New Year’s Resolutions promote procrastination. If it’s really that important to you, you would make your life change today, right now; whether it’s to start exercising and eating right, to stop smoking or cursing, or to start going to church. If this proposed life change were so darn important, it wouldn’t be able to wait until January.

2. They’re simply ineffective. I have never met anyone in my entire life who has ever made a big life change because of a New Year’s Resolution. They are a quirky American tradition that hold no traditionally proven outcome.

3. They direct your focus on conforming along with the world’s agenda, not your own. Why decide to make a major change based on a calendar date that someone else chose for you? After all, this is a personal issue; so treat it like one.

4. They set you up for failure. Given the horrible track record of New Year’s Resolutions, along with the likelihood that you’ve already attempted this feat before in previous years, why reinforce the idea that this life change of yours really is too hard, based on failed attempts before. In other words, change the date from January 1st to today.

5. New Year’s Resolutions have simply become a joke. Throughout the next couple of weeks as you hear coworkers and friends ask each other, “So what’s on your list of resolutions for 2012?” notice the underlying tone that seems to say: It’s not like it matters anyway. And we secretly know this.

As a dad, it’s crucial for me to be the example. I’m obsessed with keeping my word and following through with my decisions. I want my son to always know that despite my long list of imperfections and downfalls, when I said I was going to do something (or not do it) that my actions would immediately and permanently speak louder than words.

Image (top): 2012 Goals via Shutterstock.

Unexpected Bonus!

Maybe your intended New Year’s Resolution was going to be to get your kids to read more. In that case, you can win a free book right now called Mary’s Son: A Tale of Christmas. The book, which is the winner of three Mom’s Choice awards, is a modern-day story in which a mysterious old man named Nicholas shares the true meaning of Christmas with two young people.

You know the drill. Just be the first person to A) leave a comment on this post saying you want it and B) send me an email including your mailing address to nickshell1983@hotmail.com. Just one lucky winner, folks.

*Congrats to Melodee H. of Joplin, MO for winning this!

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8 Reasons to Raise Your Family in Nashville

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

One year.

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.

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Why We are a Kosher, Gentile Family

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

Nine months.

It’s weird, but true: There are more non-Jewish Americans who are kosher-abiding than those who are actually Jewish. Last October, a book by Sue Fishkoff came out that I would love to read. It’s called Kosher Nation and it explains why America has gone kosher. Fishkoff shares:

“More than 11.2 million Americans regularly buy kosher food, 13 percent of the adult consumer population… There are about six million Jews in this country. Even if they all bought only kosher food, which is not the case, they would not be enough to sustain such growth. In fact, just 14 percent of consumers who regularly buy kosher food do so because they follow the rules of kashrut. That means at least 86 percent of the nation’s 11.2 million kosher consumers are not religious Jews.”

My wife and I, along with our nine-month old son, are among that 86 percent. We are not Jewish, or even Seventh Day Adventists (who also do not consume pork or shellfish). But we are adamant about our kosher diet.
So is it a religious thing for us at all? Not really, but sort of.  We just kind of stumbled into it.

Through the Mexican bloodline in my family, I have adopted eczema- a vicious skin disease. My mom has it on her neck. One of my uncles has it on his knuckles. And I had it on the palms of my hands; in particular, I had dyshidrosis, where tiny clear blisters form, then pop, and dry out the skin- basically burning it.

For several years during my 20′s, I had what I call “Freddy Kruger hands.”  It was embarrassing, overpowering, and even depressing to live with. I was desperate to figure out what exactly it was and more importantly, how to cure the “incurable” disease.

And so began my journey into the world of natural cures and holistic living.

My skin problems peaked shortly after getting married. My wife and I took our honeymoon in New England, eating pretty much nothing but shrimp, scallops, and lobster the entire time. It was good eatin’.

When the week ended, I got back and realized that my entire body had broken out.  I found myself in a cloud of despairing depression for no good reason.

I learned that the bottom-feeder shellfish that I consumed were full of heavy metals, including nickel.  On top of that, my tungsten wedding ring also contained slightly toxic metals.
Eventually, I remembered that somewhere in the Old Testament of the Bible (Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14) God instructed the Jews not to eat certain animals. I was always under the misconception that those food laws were simply there for a certain group of people to show their obedience to God.  Now I realize that those random food laws were God’s way of helping people to know what foods to eat- even as a way of avoiding cancer and disease.

By not eating the animals that are lowest on the food chain, along with all carnivores, the human body is exposed to much less toxins.

And the whole thing about not mixing dairy products with meat? Simply put, that combination prevents food from digesting through the body too slowly. Otherwise, the undigested food remains in the body for too long, potentially causing health problems.

Needless to say, as I converted to a kosher diet, my eczema gradually disappeared; as a side effect, I also lost 25 pounds in the process. So I became inspired to invent The Shell Diet, which is basically the kosher version Mediterranean Food Pyramid.

And that’s how we became a kosher, Gentile family.

Granted, I’m not saying it was an easy transition. It’s still tempting to smell crispy bacon that a co-worker is heating up in the microave or dine at a seafood restaurant where I lust for buttery scallops. But for me, it had to be all or nothing. Anything was worth getting rid of my eczema.

Even for our son, it’s not necessarily easy to keep him kosher. For example, most infants’ pain relievers contain Red Dye 40, which is derived from petroleum; while others may contain Crimson Lake, which is made from scale insects.  (The only insect permitted to eat by kosher law is the locust.) When I was a kid, I had a lot of stomach problems, as well as, anxiety attacks- that is, until my parents stopped allowing me to have foods with red dye in them.
It’s strange that I would become the least bit of an expert on being kosher; especially for the fact that I don’t really have any Jewish friends.

 

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Why This Dad is Over Eating Out

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

Nine months.

Dining out just isn’t the same when you have a nine month old who either needs a nap or is itching to crawl around on the floor the entire time.

Needless to say, I’m going through somewhat of an annoying time right now because I am a “good food” connoisseur. It’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed a quiet, dinner at a classy Italian restaurant of my choice- like Carabba’s. Or even my favorite place in downtown Nashville: The Flying Saucer.

It’s dang near impossible to enjoy a nice meal out at a restaurant with my son, especially around lunch time as he is nearing his naptime. And it’s not his fault- he’s a baby. What business does he have in a restaurant where Chuck E. Cheese is nowhere to be found? The last time I was at a restaurant with him I became so frustrated that I decided I am over eating out with him until he is older.

Because either my wife or I has to let our food get cold as we walk him around the restaurant to keep him from getting upset.  After all, he truly is obsessed with crawling around and seeing different scenery.  I can’t fault him for that.  But at this point, I’d rather just eat at home.

For me, it’s simply just not worth the frustration. I recognize my lack of patience and my blood pressure’s habit of spiking when I have good food in front of me, that I am paying restaurant pricing for, but I can only sneak quick bites of it before Jack either A) gets upset or B) I do.

Fortunately, I am blessed in that my wife shares my same love of good food and drink. She is a wonderful cook whose menus cater to our health freak-conscious, kosher, Mediterranean food pyramid-themed dietary needs. So much of the time, I tell her I’d rather have her food than what we could get at a nice restaurant anyway.  And it’s true, without a doubt.

Not to mention, we have adopted the Millionaire Mindset. It’s hard to enjoy a $16 plate of pasta with chicken when you can make it yourself for less than four dollars and still have leftovers. Eventually the day will come when I can enjoy a nice meal out again. Until then, here’s to fine dining in our own kitchen.

The Mediterranean Food Pyrmid

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Thanksgiving in July: Tofurky Style

Monday, August 1st, 2011

Eight months.

Every year for Thanksgiving, Vanderbilt University gives a free turkey to all of its employees; unless you’re a vegetarian.  To be clear, my wife and I are not full vegetarians; though the majority of our meals are indeed meatless.

If this makes any sense, our diet reflects a kosher version of the Mediterranean food pyramid.  Needless to say, last November right as our son was about to be born, my wife received her free Tofurky, instead of a regular turkey. However, because he was born so close to Thanksgiving last year, we never cooked our Tofurky.

It has remained in a friend’s freezer for nearly nine months, until this past weekend.  We decided to have a very belated Thanksgiving dinner… with a “turkey” made of tofu.  But that’s not all.  A Tofurky comes with stuffing, gravy, a “jerky wishbone,” and even a chocolate cake dessert.

Since Jack’s 7 o’clock bedtime prevented him from joining the festivities, he instead had some zucchini and pears that my wife prepared for him with our Baby Bullet.  Jack will turn one a few weeks before Thanksgiving, so maybe he will get to try some of the real bird… or some of the fake bird, I should say.

So what was I thankful to God for during our Thanksgiving in July this past weekend?

That both my wife and I were able to return to our employers here in Nashville after an eight month sabbatical which we thought was a permanent move.  Not only that, but the fact that both of us are truly enjoying our jobs with a newfound appreciation.

That we were able to get Jack into a really good daycare which is right down the block from where I work.

That despite my wife’s car breaking down for the 14th time, we didn’t get totally stranded in the process; and that my parents are letting us borrow a car from them until we can get my wife’s car fixed.

I am thankful for friends who are gracious enough to allow my family of three to stay with them for the next couple of months until our renters move out of our condo.

And of course, I am thankful for my wife and son whom I can share a July Thanksgiving meal which includes an eight month old Tofurky.  Thank God for them and all that God has taught me through them so far.

Now that July has passed, I need to get ready for Christmas in August…

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