Dear Holly: Nonna and Papa’s Visit while Mommy Went to Washington D.C.

10 weeks.

Dear Holly,

Last week, Mommy went on her annual overnight business trip to Washington D.C. Instead of me using my last two vacation days, Nonna and Papa came up from Alabama to watch you and your brother Jack while I was at work.

It was a perfect match-up: Jack had Papa and you had Nonna.

When I got home from work each day, I couldn’t help not notice that without him trying to, Jack kept entertaining you as he played with his toys.

You had a front row seat to Jack’s antics. The funny thing is, you just stared intently. You never really smiled while watching him, but you didn’t want to do anything else- just watch him.

Dear Holly: Nonna and Papa’s Visit while Mommy Went to Washington D.C.

In fact, you stare so much at your brother he complains to me about it: “Daddy, Holly’s staring at me again!”

Nonna took care of you during the night, which perfectly coincided with you beginning to sleep through the night, at 2 months old. I am so happy about you sleeping longer, and I know Mommy is too.

Dear Holly: Nonna and Papa’s Visit while Mommy Went to Washington D.C.

As I look through these pictures of you and Nonna together, it’s evident what a light complexion you have, especially in contrast to Nonna and Papa’s skin tone.

In particular, it’s interesting to see how such a pink-toned baby girl can come from a Mexican/Italian grandmother who is so much darker; knowing that even Mommy and I both have an olive-complexion, as compared to the lighter tone both you and your brother have.

Dear Holly: Nonna and Papa’s Visit while Mommy Went to Washington D.C.

Something else I’m thinking about as I see these pictures… it’s helping to confirm my theory that you may end up being my little red-headed daughter. How amazing would that be?

We’ll know for sure once your baby hair completely falls out and your new hair really starts growing in…



Dear Holly: Nonna and Papa’s Visit while Mommy Went to Washington D.C.

Dear Holly: You’ll Be Born in about One Month, Maybe on Earth Day!

35 weeks.

Dear Holly: You’ll Be Born in about One Month, Maybe on Earth Day!

Dear Holly,

Today is St. Patrick’s Day, when people celebrate a strange tradition in which Americans pretend to be more Irish than they actually are; in a loose effort to honor a Christian bishop and missionary in Ireland, who was actually born in England and who was actually of Italian descent… not Irish.

With Mommy and me both being ¼ Italian, that makes you and your brother ¼ Italian as well. But because people celebrate where St. Patrick lived as a missionary, instead of celebrating his actually ethnic descent, we celebrate Irish stereotypes today instead of Italian ones.

That explains why your brother and I are showing off our green attire in this picture.

With today being March 17th, and your due date being April 21st, we’re only about a month away from your arrival!

(You are now the size of a honeydew melon and that fact is becoming very obvious; as I look at Mommy’s tummy.)

Obviously, my 35th birthday is on April 20th; which is when I want you to be born. I want to share my birthday with you.

However, the full moon in April in 2 days later on the 22nd, which also happens to be Earth Day. There’s a theory that more babies are born near the date of the full moon because of the stronger gravitational pull; like the way the moon affects the ocean tides every night.

So in my mind, there’s a decent chance you’ll be born on April 22nd. I suppose that would be a pretty cool birthday to have, if you can’t share mine on April 20th.

Mommy predicts you’ll be born on April 24th, because of her work schedule.

As far as Mommy’s pregnancy, she’s getting to the point where it seems there’s no comfortable way for her to sleep. I’m sure that only gives her that much more motivation to look forward to you getting out of there.

A month is not a very long time. It’s just a matter of weeks before we see you.




Should I Check “White, Not Hispanic or Latino”?


As I was updating my paperwork for the dentist recently, I had to decide whether or not I felt like technically lying.

It’s always something I hesitate on, more than I probably should.

My grandmother is full Mexican. I’m therefore only a quarter Mexican.

So I’m white; but 25% of my genes, and I suppose to some degree, my heritage and culture, is Mexican.

But if I could honestly describe myself to the Census Bureau, which apparently is the organization that most cares about my cultural and ethnic identity, it would simply be this:

Mostly white.

I’m not 100% white, so to proclaim, “white, not Hispanic or Latino” is inaccurate; because I’m absolutely part Hispanic.

The first time I remember having to answer that question was in 1st grade, for a standardized test. I remember how my mom, who is half Mexican and half Italian, told me that she always questioned that herself when she had to answer that question as well.

I think it muddies the waters even more than Italians typically are “more ethnic looking” than most Europeans. I have always thought the same thing about Jews (who are actually considered Middle Eastern) and Greeks (who, like Italians, are Mediterranean).

“White” is a funny term to me, when it references people.

I would love to take one of those ethnic DNA tests where they draw some of your blood and tell you exactly what percentage you are of each people group.

Mainly just because it would be fun to know… exactly. But really, none of that really matters.

What I learned in my HR training course is that ultimately, a person can claim whatever race they most identify with, even if it’s simply cultural.

If you are Chinese but adopted by white parents, you can identify as “white” if you choose to; or Chinese. It’s up to the individual.

As for me, I’m mostly white, based on the last names in my family tree: German (“Shell”), Italian (“Metallo”), Dutch (“Clowers”, derived from “Klaar”), Scottish (“Johnston” and “King”), and English (“Taylor” and “Wiseman”).

And of course I’m also Mexican (“Mendez”). That’s a little confusing as well because ethnically, Mexicans are a mixed race called Mestizos: ultimately, they are around half European (largely including Spanish) and around half Native (or indigenous) Mexican; just like how the United States originally was occupied by Native Americans before the Europeans came over.

The natives in modern Mexico and United States actually derived from Asia, like the Eskimos who settled in Russia and Alaska.

So technically, I’ve got distant traces of Asian blood.

If you really dumb it down, I’m just European and barely Asian.

But there’s not a category for that on the paperwork.

Why Pia Toscano was “Voted Off” American Idol

Bye, bye, Miss American Idol.

I figured the most shocking episode of the 2011 season of American Idol was going to be when half-Jewish contestant Casey Abrams was voted off, then saved by the judges.  But then to everyone’s amazement, on April 7th the Italian and immaculate Pia Toscano sang her last song, “I’ll Stand By You.”  Admittedly, Pia wasn’t my favorite, but not for lack of talent, grace, and poise.  It was simply that she reminded me of Celine Dion, who is one of the most successful singers in the history of the world yet doesn’t sing the kind of music I would choose to listen to.

It seemed everyone I’ve been talking over the past couple of weeks felt similarly about Pia.  There is no denying her talent, but maybe if nothing else, it’s easier to root for quirkiness than it is for flawless performances.  Pia isn’t quirky; she’s untouchable.

America didn’t vote for who they thought was the best, but instead who they thought was in the most danger of going home.  It was assumed that this whole time Pia was getting the most votes, or the 2nd or 3rd most votes.  But it’s very possible that she has been hovering about the lower middle.  So now with the bottom three gone, it suddenly exposed Pia to the exit door.  Now that I think about it, when I would see on my facebook status feed who people were voting for, I can’t think of one time I saw Pia’s name on there.

I never rooted for Pia like I have for Paul McDonald (the Scottish lord a leapin’) or Casey Abrams (the red-tinted Seth Rogen).  Nor have I ever shouted at the TV telling her to leave like I have for Scotty McCreery (George W. Bush mixed with the cartoon kid on the cover of Mad magazine) or Jacob Lusk (who at any moment is going to explode with pent up emotion). Instead, Pia has just remained in the “safe category” in my head this whole time.

Turns out, most other people were thinking that too.  And we were wrong.  Big time.

The good news: I’m sure Pia won’t make it too long before she is offered a record deal by a respectable record label.  In fact, I bet the folks at American Idol didn’t let Pia pack her bags before they offered her a deal to her themselves.  Because unlike her brief stint on American Idol, Pia Toscano’s upcoming musical career has no end in sight.  Her heart will go on.

dad from day one: We’re Moving to Alabama… Next Weekend!

Week 1 of Jack’s life.

In the Season One finale of dad from day one, I promised an interesting plot twist.  So here in this premier of Season Two, I’m letting everyone know my own meaning of the phrase “Sweet Home Alabama”.

As I explained in due date, a common trait of ‘80’s sitcoms was that a family was introduced to an outsider who suddenly moved in their home, therefore creating a new sense of “normal”.  An exception was Just the Ten of Us, where the Lubbock family moved from the state of New York (the setting of Growing Pains, which it was a spin-off from) to California.  Dad from day one will be combining both of those plot devices: the newcomer and the new setting.  Next Saturday morning, December 4th (on the 4th day of Hanukkah- for any Jewish readers out there) we will pack up our PT Cruiser and Element for the 2 ½ trip (not counting baby delays) from Nashville, TN to the small mountain/valley town of Fort Payne, AL (pop. 14,000 not including illegal immigrants) where I was raised.

Something that makes this really interesting is when I am asked: “So do you have a job lined up?”  Nope.  That’s part of the reason we are so briskly making the Hometown Migration– so I can search full time for a new job during the whole month of December while living off leftover paychecks and savings.  Despite having nearly five years of career experience involving sales, doing trade shows, hiring, and training, I am not naïve to think that a new job will magically appear the week we move to Alabama.

However, I have this belief that as a follower of Jesus Christ, God knows I will make a lot of noise and commotion honoring Him before and after He answers my prayer.  And since I believe that glorifying God in all things is the ultimate meaning of life, I am confident that at the right time, God will provide for me so that I can provide for my family.  As Jesus put it, when a child asks his father for bread or fish to eat, his father doesn’t give him a stone or a serpent instead.  I love that example.

In Fort Payne, we will be living less than three miles from not only my parents but also my sister and her husband.  We know that this quiet town will not only be the right place for Baby Jack to grow up, but also the most practical place for my wife and I to care for him- to be able to watch him grow up slowly, as compared to seeing him only a couple of hours a day in a big city life.  There is no mall in Fort Payne; only a Super Wal-Mart.  There are oddly no Italian restaurants, which will be difficult for Baby Jack, my wife, and myself who all happen to be a quarter Italian and need marinara sauce and garlic bread in order to function properly.  And sadly, for my wife, there is no Starbucks: I think the nearest one is about an hour away.

A lifestyle without malls, Italian restaurants, and Starbucks is precisely what the three of us need.  Because despite leaving all those so-called conveniences behind, we will be able to slow down the pace of life to the speed it needs to be.  My wife and I are extremely happy about the move.  In a sitcom it’s pretty normal for each new season to bring about new characters on the show.  New characters, new city, new plotlines, here we come.