Dear Holly: I Never Realized How Badly I Needed a Baby Girl

1 week.

Dear Holly: I Never Realized How Badly I Needed a Baby Girl

Dear Holly,

For years, I was convinced I was perfectly happy having only a little boy. But now that you’ve been in my life for a week, I realize I was wrong. I needed a baby girl in my life.

I love everything about your brother; he’s the perfect little boy. With you here now though, I see that you provide the proper balance to our family.

Dear Holly: I Never Realized How Badly I Needed a Baby Girl

With your brother, I get to be rough and crude and adventurous, as I should be with an all American boy. I get to drive through the mud with him and take him to PG-13 rated super hero movies that some say are inappropriate for him. I love that I get to feel sort of rebellious in parenting your brother.

Dear Holly: I Never Realized How Badly I Needed a Baby Girl

With you, I get to make sweet cooing sounds directly into your face as I stare at you for no less than an hour at a time as I hold you. I am so in love with you.

I have never got to experience this before. Despite being a parent for 5 and a half years, having you here is completely different. You are such a sweet, adorable, and mesmerizing little girl.

You’re so easy to stare at. I love your amazing little smile. I love your uniquely folded ears. I love your tiny little cry.

Had you born a boy, I would have been just as happy; because I couldn’t have known what I was missing. I already knew how much I loved having a son, so I knew things would have been great.

But instead, you were meant to be Holly Joy. I was meant to have a daughter.

I’m not saying there’s no possibility of you never having a younger brother or sister… but I do know that our family has never felt so complete- like the way it does now that you are here.



Dear Holly: I Never Realized How Badly I Needed a Baby Girl

Dear Holly: You are Definitely a Girl!

19 weeks.


Dear Holly,

We just learned the news… There is no doubt, you are our daughter. We are having a girl!

Your name is Holly Joy Shell. And you have actually been 7 and a half years in the making…

Back when Mommy and I were planning our wedding in 2008, we were showing my parents (your grandparents) the venue for our reception; the Vanderbilt Legends Club.

The facility was serving brunch while we were there getting the tour of the place. I remember superstar Michael W. Smith and I happened to lock eyes from across the room; as he was sitting down eating. I definitely knew who he was and he apparently thought he was supposed to know me- and I could tell he was in deep thought trying to figure out where he knew me from.

That moment was interrupted when shortly afterwards, your Mommy made a comment about how one day we would have a little girl and name her Holly.

You are that little girl. You are the epic, legendary Holly.

Everyone has been guessing this week whether you were a boy or a girl. The guesses came in at about 50% “Team Holly” and 50% “Team Logan…

However, now that we are telling everyone you are a girl, people seem genuinely amazed that I could have actually been right this whole time. It didn’t help that Mommy thought you were a boy.

Again, my basis of you being a girl is the fact that Mommy has been having different symptoms with you than she did your brother Jack.

But from the very beginning, my heart was always told me that you were a girl; even before Mommy’s symptoms of nausea that she didn’t have with the last pregnancy.

I take it as my fate that God has much more to teach me about life… lessons that I can only learn from raising a little girl named Holly Joy.




What Not to Name Your Kid

There are some topics I would love to write about but I know they’re way too controversial or potentially offensive- this is one of them.  But if I am vague enough and only give over-the-top examples, I might be able to pull this off.

When naming our son who is due to arrive in November, a few ground rules were that the name had to be easy to say and spell, easily recognizable, and not made-up.  So that’s one of the many reasons we went with the classic American “Jack”.  Other than my dad, I don’t know anyone else with that name, yet it’s highly popular in movies and TV- therefore making it popular but not overused.

I do take requests as far as topics I write about.  “What Not to Name Your Kids” was an idea suggested to me by a few different people and I decided to take the challenge.  After all, we all are familiar with baby names that we say, “oh, I like that” when the soon-to-be mom tell us, yet we later tell our friends “you gotta hear this name, it’s so weird…”  So I have come up with a list of “no no’s” when it comes to naming a North American child.

Last names for first names that are not classic or already decently popular. Madison and Mackenzie are acceptable.  But when I hear more obscure ones like Middleton, Smithwell, Dresden, Spurlock, Applegate, and Hester, I can’t help but feel sorry for that kid.

Wrong gender names. Obviously names like Jordan and Taylor are good names that truly are completely neutral and work well for a boy or a girl.  But when I hear of a girl being named James or Scott or Todd, or if a suffix is added to a boy’s name to make it feminine like Markley, Davidanna, or Johnlyn, I get irritated.

Funny names. Jack B. Nimble, Robert Robertson, and Sunshine Day.

Random, made-up names that are supposed to be cute. Spiffet, Tindle, Gladdon, and Marxon.

It used to be that a person’s middle name might be a little different or off-beat.  But nowadays, parents are going all out on the first names.  That will surely be a trait of the Class of 2030.  Weird names.

dad from day one: The Countdown to Found Out the Gender of the Baby

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.”

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



The Sussudio Effect: Why We Secretly Love the Mysteries of Life

Whether we will admit it or not, we like unexplained mysteries.

Do we really need an answer for everything?  Isn’t omniscience (the ability to know everything infinitely) a trait we reserve for God?  Could we handle the responsibility of having all the answers?  We like to think we want all the answers, but if we did, that would be a life without surprise, suspense, and ultimately, much excitement.

Much of the mystique we deal with revolves around our origin, purpose, and ending.  But even without all the big idea concepts like “why am I here?” and “what exactly happens the moment I die?,” both of which the element of ignorance is attached to, life is still full plenty of petty mysteries to think about.  Which at best, simply reflect the fact that mystery is a part of life.

Like the song “Sussidio” by Phil Collins.  It became a number one hit in July of 1985.  And though I wasn’t quite in pre-school yet at that point, the song has definitely kept a solid spot in the Soundtrack of My Life.  I can’t say that I like the saxophone-enhanced song just because of its feel-good vibes and groovy melody.  A big part of why I like the song is because of its quirkiness.  Because let’s face it, no one really knows what a “sussudio” is.

In recent years, thanks to Phil Collins’ interviews that have surfaced and have been referenced in Wikipedia, I have learned that Phil always did a lot of ad-lib and improvising in the studio.  He often would record the music to the song before he wrote the words, just making up random words and phrases to hold the place; then coming back later to replace the gibberish with actual lyrics.

“Sussudio” was a place-holding made-up word that he never came up with a replacement for.  And so it remained.  The word still doesn’t mean anything.  It’s not the name of a girl, as some have assumed.  It’s just a mysterious word.  You get to decide what it means.  Weird concept, but after all, the song did make it to the number one spot.

Why?  It’s a great catchy song.  And it’s mysterious.

I will deliberately bypass the way-too-obvious fact that LOST’s popularity is associated with its strategic and clever uses of mystique (LOST- Answering Questions that Were Left Unanswered) and instead close with the fact that we can spend a lifetime just unveiling the mysteries of the people closest to us in our lives.

It’s not like we sit down with our parents or spouses or best friends and interview them with a #2 pencil and steno pad about their childhood and see what we can learn about them that we didn’t know before.  Instead, we just wait for those random trigger words to show up in conversation, which prompt a story that we’ve never heard before about them before.

Sometimes when my wife and I are out at a restaurant, we (being “people watchers”) will notice an older couple sitting in silence, only really speaking to say predictable things like “How’s your steak?”  We want to be cooler than that when we’re older; we want to have cool stuff to talk about, even now.

There are so many hidden stories in each of us.  We can only try, in a lifetime, to extract them from each other.  Not that they all can be told even in one lifetime, we ourselves can’t remember them all.  Because unlike God, we mysteriously ended up without an omniscient memory.