Posts Tagged ‘
Sunday, March 4th, 2012
Get used to seeing my son Jack in this suave, retro blazer, paired with a pumpkin-accented plaid shirt because as his dad, I’m going to get as many miles out of this outfit as I can while it still fits him.
This weekend we decided to dress him in my old jacket and shirt from when I was literally his age.
From a walk in the park to lunch at Kalamata’s Greek restaurant to a quick visit to the pet store, Jack was rockin’ the jazzy new-wave wardrobe.
Like most parents of toddlers, I am not willing to spend much money on clothes that my kid will grow out of in a few months from now.
But being that Jack’s jacket and shirt were free, because they were a gift for me three decades ago, he gets to be a baby fashion model for the time being.
In the Spring of 1981, right before I was born, my Italian great-aunt Margaret Metallo in Kenosha, Wisconsin sent my mom a yellow blazer with a “matching” shirt from Sears as a gift for her soon-to-be born bambino, Mario Eugene Shell.
Yeah, uh… that’s me. However, after I was born, my parents recognized that despite my mother being half Italian and half Mexican, I looked ”too white” to have such an ethnic name as Mario.
So nearly 2 hours after I was born, my parents officially gave me my name: Nicholas Shane Shell.
By the time I reached adulthood, my features got darker and I finally looked more like a Mario. Though honestly, I probably look more Jewish than anything.
And now I’ve got a son who’s even whiter than I ever was: Yellow hair to match the jacket and marble blue eyes to compliment it. Honestly, Jack pulls off the yellow blazer better than I ever could.
I think it’s safe to say that jacket came before it’s time: Ultimately, it would be another 30 years for the perfect little bambino to come along to legitimately model it for the world.
You’re welcome, Sears.
Categories: Growing Up, Nostalgia, Storytelling | Tags: bambino, Italian, Jewish, Mexican, Nostalgia, retro, vintage clothes, Wisconsin, yellow
Thursday, December 1st, 2011
Because my son Jack decided to take on the rare and formerly forgotten genes of his Norwegian great-grandfather on my wife’s side, it is pretty much expected now when people meet him that they half-jokingly respond with some form of, “Are you sure he’s your kid?”
Trust me; my wife and I both have almost wondered if there was some kind of mix-up at the hospital, but we know we never took our eyes of him the entire time we were there. Yes, we actually had to convince ourselves!
My kid is the poster child for what foreigners think the typical American kid should look like: Blonde hair, blue eyes, and porcelain skin. (I learned this back when I was a teacher in Thailand; I was once confused for another teacher who had these traits.)
So while everyday I try to squint hard enough to see how he resembles me at all, I keep in mind that not all of the traits he takes on present themselves in the form of physical resemblance. In fact, all I had to do was grab a pen and a yellow sticky note to come up with 5 ways my son reminds me of myself:
1) He loves being outside; getting deep in thought. When Jack gets antsy, I simply take him for a walk. I carry him in my arms around the neighborhood. He loves to feel the wind on his face. When I take him on these walks of solitude, he gets quiet and just takes it all in. So do I.
2) He thrives on meeting new people. Jack never meets a stranger. Last weekend we went to my new favorite restaurant in Nashville, an authentic Italian place called PortaVia. As we were waiting on our food, we let him walk around to nearby tables. Everyone who saw him pop into their frame just laughed with adoration, as if a cute little cartoon puppy had just appeared.
3) He gets angry when he’s hungry or needs a nap. Don’t try to make him laugh. Just feed him or get that kid a nap. He’s hard-wired just like me in those ways. My wife and I are always prepared with a bag of Cheerios and the new Red Hot Chili Peppers album for either event.
4) He can never eat enough bananas or pasta. Jack refuses to eat meat; mainly dining on some form of whole wheat grains or a banana. It’s almost eery how we both have the same food staples in our diets. The truth is, I’m actually a vegetarian who just hasn’t come out of the closet yet. (More on that in days to come…) Jack, however, is more confident in his identity.
5) He has very sensitive skin. Just like me, neither his soap nor shampoo can contain sodium laurel sulfate- we break out in rashes if we use the normal stuff. And I’m sure that just like me, the same thing would happen if he ate shellfish or too much sugar. Jack inherited the eczema gene through our Mexican bloodline.
Yes, the outdoors-loving, people-person, angry-when-he’s-hungry-or-sleepy, pasta addicted, Burt’s-Bees-soap-using kid is my son. Just remember, though, he is the white sheep of the family.
Wednesday, October 12th, 2011
My Mexican grandmother, Lola Mendez Metallo, has always been one funny grandma, though not necessarily intentionally. Like the way she has always prefaced her jokes with “I’m gonna tell you a joke…”.
Or the fact that she literally managed to see the movie Dirty Dancing a total of 37 times when it originally came to theaters back in 1987, though she never learned to drive a car.
Not to mention the way she always found a way to delightfully sprinkle our holiday dinner conversations with mentions of the most recently escaped prison convicts she had heard about on the radio. Classic.
Plus, I’ve never known anyone more intrigued by angels. I remember how when the TV show Touched by an Angel was still on the air, she would never miss an episode and had a talent for relating every life situation back to the most recent one she had seen,especially if the episode had anything to do with an abused animal. (Her favorite show in the ’80′s was Highway to Heaven, which was also about angels interacting with humans.)
Here recently, I have been thinking about her a lot. I know her health has faded more drastically since my Italian grandfather passed away over three years ago. It’s one of those things where I know that she could just one day never wake up; or she could ultimately be here for several more years. In either case, I am consciously aware of the fact that her time on Earth is especially limited.
It’s an interesting (and sad) perspective; to know my grandma may be in her final months, yet everyday I watch my young son grow up a little bit more. I see one life coming to a close and another just getting things started. It’s a constant paradox in my head.
Knowing her time could be soon, I’m literally dealing with her passing, now; before it even happens. People deal with death differently- I guess I deal with it prematurely, reminiscing her life while she’s still here to answer questions I still have and tell her I love her several times in every potentially last conversation I have with her.
I know she’s going to love finally joining the angels she has talked so much about, but I really would mind hearing a couple more of her jokes; especially if she tells me up front that I’m about to hear a joke.
It can be easy to write off human interactions with angels as tall tales, but according to the Bible, we entertain angels unaware. Today, someone will win a free book called Angels, which helps explain the interactions of angels in humans’ lives, backed up with Biblical stories and references.
If you would like a free copy of Angels mailed to your house, just be the first person to leave a comment on this post, then within 60 minutes, send me an email (email@example.com) including your name and mailing address.
Categories: Deep Thoughts, Growing Up, Health, Nostalgia, People, Spirituality, Storytelling | Tags: 1980's, angels, cancer, death, dying, grandmother, grandparents, Health, Mexican
Wednesday, September 7th, 2011
If we were restricted to only see the world in terms of science, where would love fit into that picture? I guess it could be said that love, along with all other human emotions, is ultimately necessary for not only procreation but also the desired human interactions that help move us forward as a society. Carpenter ants and sea horses do not need to feel anything emotionally in order to survive and multiply, but we humans, being much more complicated, are not devoid of personalities or the need to feel needed by others. We need love.
So somewhere in the evolution from fish to ape to man, love randomly showed up in the genes and proved to be fit for survival? It sounds pretty miraculous to me…
That’s why, along with the Jewish actor/political commentator Ben Stein (The Wonder Years and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) and the Christian actor/evangelist Kirk Cameron (Growing Pains), I am a devout advocate of Intelligent design.
In other words, I reject the popular and politically correct theory of evolution and/or The Big Bang Theory. Instead, I believe that man was literally created by God, from dust, as it is explained in the book of Genesis- in six literal 24 hour days.
What about dinosaurs, though? After all, men could not have survived alongside vicious, giant lizards.
Interestingly, The Book of Genesis explains that in the beginning, God gave the herbs and plants for the people to eat. It wasn’t until ten extremely long generations later (people lived centuries long back then) when Noah and his family exited the ark that God told mankind A) that animals would begin fearing man and therefore, B) that people should now starting eating animals as part of their diet.
Therefore, I believe for ten long generations, people and animals of all kinds coexisted, all living on a vegetarian diet. Radically, I believe the world is around 10,000 years old; not millions or billions. That’s just the Cliff Notes version of Intelligent design. Feel free to read another blog post I’ve written on it; or google “Intelligent design” to learn just how “out there” I really am.
Simply put, I believe that love is just simply too miraculous to have randomly showed up on its own. I believe that love did not evolve, but instead was created and given as a gift from God to man; so that man would share it. For me, thinking about love from a scientific perspective only points me to one simple idea: love is part of God’s intelligent design.
The love I share for my wife and son comes from God; not chance.
It has never been more appropriate than right now for me to give away a free copy of the brand-new, just released, children’s book, Smack Dab in the Middle of God’s Love.
The book seems to encompass the artistic sophistication of a classic Caldecott Medal winning book along with the multi-ethnic oneness of Sesame Street. It’s a nostalgic return to the good children’s books I read as a child growing up in the Eighties, but with a modern accent. I believe this book would especially be ideal for parents who have not yet raised their children in a particular religious household, but who are now more interested in doing so; the book would serve as a great transition into teaching them about God’s love.
Now, as to the one lucky winner who will be mailed a copy of this book, just be the first person to leave a comment on this post telling me how many weeks old my son Jack was when we gave him his first haircut. Make sure you send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your name and mailing address so I’ll know where to mail it.
Need a hint? Use the search box on the right side of this screen.
Excerpt from the back cover of Smack Dab in the Middle of God’s Love:
“Willie Juan and Ana’s home is always full of neighborhood children, laughter, and love. One day, while enjoying Ana’s most delicious sopapillas, Willie Juan asks a most curious question:
‘Little friends, what is one thing you think Abba will ask you someday when you are in heaven?’.
Through their answers, Willie Juan’s guidance, and a few giggles, the children learn that God cares about the details of their lives and that all good gifts- from hummingbirds to homemade sopapillas- come from Him.
This book will help kids discover how deep and wide and endless is the love of God. A love so BIG that no matter what, they will always be smack dab in the middle of it.”
Categories: Deep Thoughts, Must Read, Nostalgia, Spirituality, Storytelling | Tags: book, children's book, Christian, Creationism, ethnic, evolution, faith, Genesis, God, Intelligent Design, Jewish, love, Mexican, science, Sesame Street
Saturday, August 27th, 2011
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.
Categories: Deep Thoughts, Health, Must Read, People, Storytelling | Tags: bacon, Bible, diet, eczema, food dye, Gentile, Health, Jewish, kashrut, kosher, Kosher Nation, Mediterranean food pyramid, Mexican, Nashville, New England, Red Dye 40, seafood, shellfish