Posts Tagged ‘ Mexican ’

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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The White Sheep of the Family

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Six months.

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.

Pictured below:

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.

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The Countdown to Found Out the Gender of the Baby

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

Eighteen weeks.

In my first “dad from day one” post on April 13th (dad from day one: She’s Having a Baby), I told the almost spooky story of how my Mexican grandma dreamed she was having a granddaughter two weeks before we went public with the news that my wife was pregnant.  Since then, we have been asked on a near daily basis if we think it’s a boy or a girl.

I have found it easier this whole time just to assume my grandma’s dream is right.  And in the past couple weeks since my wife has began “showing”, it’s become pretty obvious she’s “holding the baby high”, which is typical for a girl in the womb.

I would never go see a psychic myself.  But… what happens when someone else goes to a psychic and their fortune is about you instead?

That’s exactly what happened.  Today, one of my wife’s coworkers went to a psychic as a sort of “joke birthday gift” to herself.  The fortune told: “One of your coworkers is pregnant with a girl.”

So it’s settled.  My grandma and a psychic have both had a vision about this baby girl.

Our kid is the size of a sweet potato.

Only one way to know for sure- wait until next Thursday (June 17th).  That’s when we’re officially finding out whether we’re having a boy or a girl- given that our baby isn’t crossing its legs during the procedure.

In a week’s time, I will have posted “dad from day one: The Gender of Our Baby”.

Here’s what The Bump says about our baby this week:

“Your fetus has become amazingly mobile (at least compared to you), passing the hours yawning, hiccuping, rolling, twisting, kicking, punching, sucking and swallowing. And, baby’s finally big enough that you’ll be able to feel those movements soon.”

http://community.thebump.com/cs/ks/blogs/2ndtrimester/pages/week-18-sweet-potato.aspx?r=0

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com

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The Minor Details

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 hairThough 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:

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com

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She’s Having a Baby

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

The word on the street is true.  And we couldn’t be any happier about it!

Three weeks ago my Mexican grandma (who has always been very religious-superstitious) called my sister, saying, “Do you have something to tell me?”

“No…”

“Are you sure?  You don’t have anything to tell me?”

“Nnnnno…”  (more hesitantly than the first time)

“I had a dream.  I had a dream where I saw your grandfather in Heaven and he was so happy.  He was pushing a baby stroller.”

In other words, my grandma assumed the wrong grandchild.  She also told my sister about another dream she had where she saw “the most beautiful little girl in a rocking chair”.  We’ll know in about eight more weeks whether or not that second dream is true.

Something I never realized about finding out you’re going to be a first time parent is that it has to stay a secret for a while.  Long enough to make sure it’s not a false alarm.  Long enough to confirm with a doctor.  Long enough to get a sonogram.

We’ve known for over a month now.  It’s a huge secret to keep from the entire world for that long.  What a relief!  Hey, we’re having a baby!

Expected arrival is on my dad’s 54th birthday:  November 11th.

Obviously I’ve got a lot more to say about it all and I will continue to encounter plenty more as time goes on.  Therefore, this is the first of many in my new series I call “dad from day one”.  While it seems pretty easy to find material out there for expectant moms, not so much for expectant dads.

Expectant dads don’t encounter physical changes, but they do experience psychological ones.  In this new series I will be journaling the whole process, from the time we found out we’re having a baby, until… well I can’t say until the baby is born because that’s only the beginning.  And speaking of the beginning, when is day one?

Was it the day of conception?  The day we found out?  Today, the day I’m publicly telling everyone I haven’t already told in person or on the phone?  I don’t know.  Day One is the beginning of this new person I am becoming.

In the likeness of a TV show I’ve never seen but heard good things about, How I Met Your Mother, another goal of “dad from day one” is to create an archive for this kid to come.  To show him or her what was going through my head during all this.

Eighteen years ago, I was given a blank journal by a classmate from school as a Christmas present.  Inspired by my favorite cartoon show at the time, Doug, I remember my first entry:

“Dear Journal, I will be writing everyday so that in the future when I have kids of my own one day…”
Then I stopped.  I embarrassed myself with the phrase “kids of my own one day” because it wasn’t the way I actually talked.  It just seemed too weird.  I threw the journal in the garbage.

Here I am 18 years later, seven months away from the big day.  About to have a “kid of my own”.  Let’s do this thing.

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com

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