Dear Holly: You’re Over Halfway Ready inside of Mommy’s Tummy


25 weeks.

Dear Holly,

It was 4 months ago this week that Mommy and I started telling everybody about you. I first officially revealed the news about you in an episode of my 1st web series, Jack-Man.

With your due date on April 21st , the day after my 35th birthday, Mommy is now more than halfway through her pregnancy. As crazy as it sounds, you’ll be making your arrival in just a little more than 3 months from now!

I was telling Mommy this week how weird of a thought it is that when you turn 5 years-old, like your brother Jack is now, I’ll be 40 years-old.

But I would choose 35 or 40 any day over being 25 or 30. I like how settled life is these days. Life is good. It wasn’t that way when I was officially “young.”

With us living in our new house for a year now (we moved in January 29, 2015), our family has basically been on cruise control, in regards to any kind of major challenges.

We’ve survived debt, getting out of debt, car issues, and even job insecurities since your brother was born; in addition to adapting as a family raising a child for the first time.

It looks like you will be born into a stage of our family’s life when things are calm and stable.

Granted, one of my life quotes is this: “Life is either bad and about to get better, or it’s good and about to get worse.”

I believe it’s important to never take for granted when you are going through a smooth patch in life. I am just as aware of God’s grace now as I was when our family lived through those stormier years.

Hopefully, the upcoming challenges this year won’t dramatically alter our smooth sailing days.

Between 1) welcoming you into our family, along with 2) my New Year’s resolution of attempting to do what it takes to go full-time with my blog and YouTube channel, as well as 3) our family possibly replacing at least one of our vehicles, this year is will have its fair share of positive challenges.

I want those kinds of challenges.

Mommy and I have been cleansed by the fire; we have been forced to mature. Now we’re looking forward to keeping life on cruise control, just not staying on the same roads.



Signs of Life from the Womb: Family Friendly (Mommy) Blog

Guest Blogger: Jill Shell

Let me just start by saying, pregnancy truly is an amazing thing.  The act of taking cells, that individually by themselves would just be cells and combining them to make another human life, is undeniably a miraculous thing.  But along with the beauty of the creation of life, comes the sometimes unforgiving and relentless attacks and changes to the body, mind and life of the new mommy.


Now, I don’t want to complain, but you know that since I just started a sentence with those words, that I am about to complain, right?

What is with the nausea, the hunger, the tossing and turning at night, the pains that start turning up in random places in your body, the clothes that don’t fit right, the leg cramps, and some of the other strange occurrences that you barely want to share with your closest friends?

It seems appropriate that you should expect to endure one or two of those things, but how you get chosen to experience all of those is beyond me.

Forgive me because I know I do not have the worst of it and each pregnancy is different for every woman.  And despite their annoyances, I do consider it a good sign that these signs are present because often times in pregnancy you fear the worst and sometimes these little nuances can be the confirmation you need to know that all is okay.

Again, I don’t mean to sound like the Debbie Downer of pregnancy, but it’s just a reminder of the labor of love that we get to experience (and let’s give some credit to our significant others, family members and friends who support us through it all) as we take this journey.

On a slightly heavier note, this little blog entry here is just a forum to share these light-hearted thoughts (and maybe, just maybe, get a little empathy from those around me).  I recently read in a magazine that 1 in 8 couples struggle with infertility and I know far too many people who have been affected by this news.  I can only imagine what they must go through, and I certainly do not take that lightly.

Okay, sorry, I can’t end on a heavy note.  Want to hear a funny story?  Okay, so do I.  Please add a comment with your funny story and make us all laugh.

Family Friendly (Mommy) Blog: Jill Shell on Pregnancy Hunger Cravings

Family Friendly (Mommy) Blog: Pregnancy Hunger Cravings

People often ask me what type of cravings I am having now that I am pregnant.

This used to be a funny question to me because when I was pregnant with Jack, I felt like I had virtually no cravings at all.

Actually, aside from the horrendous leg cramps that crept up in the middle of the night throughout the second trimester, I felt like I had very few “normal” pregnancy symptoms throughout the duration of it.

Well, I can tell you for a fact, I have cravings now!

It’s not the old fashioned “pickles with ice cream in the middle of the night” cravings; it’s the “you name it, I want it” type of cravings.  For example, I was talking to a co-worker one day (who also happens to be preggers, too) and she mentioned how she stopped at Panera to grab a breakfast sandwich on the way to work.

Now, I am vegetarian not a vegan (because I don’t have the will power to say no to ice cream and things of that nature at all times), but because Nick is vegan, I often eat more of the vegan fare, which means we stay away from foods with animal products (no beef, no chicken, no fish, no dairy and definitely, no eggs).

Just a few months ago, I think I had even convinced myself that I was allergic to eggs.  But wouldn’t you know, as soon as my friend began talking about that breakfast sandwich, the brain in my stomach started churning and demanding some eggs.

When I got home that night, nothing sounded good to me, but an egg and cheese sandwich, and I barely ate my dinner.  Hours later as I laid myself down to sleep, I made my plan to get up just a few minutes early to make it into the Panera closest to work.

When my alarm rang, I got up without even so much as a hitch in my step and was out the door 10 minutes sooner than I had been in weeks.  I was second in line in Panera and couldn’t wait to get my hands on that egg and cheese sandwich.  And, even though my mouth suffered a few burns from eating it so quickly, it was just as every bit of delicious that I had needed it to be.

Please do not ask me how many times I have been back to Panera to get this same sandwich . . . it’s a little embarrassing just how much this little baby wonder in me is causing me to crave things I wouldn’t normally care about.

And, don’t even get me started on meat (blackened salmon and steak have never sounded so tempting) . . .

Family Friendly (Mommy) Blog: Meet Jill Shell

Family Friendly Mommy Blog: Meet Jill Shell

Hi! Many of you probably don’t know me, but I’m Jill Shell.

You might recognize me as the wife beside the Family Friendly Daddy Blogger, Nick Shell. He’s my husband and Jack’s our (almost 5 year old) son. We recently found out that we are expecting our second child in April 2016 and we couldn’t be more excited! With a new baby on the way, you can imagine how things could be transforming in our daily lives.

One day we got to talking about the many interesting things that happen during pregnancy and I mentioned to Nick that it would be fun to do guest blog appearances on his site to write about all the changes. It started out with me wanting to write about the funny things that happen during pregnancy, such as the for real increased appetite, incredible cravings that leave you lusting after food, the inevitable weight gain, and other nuances of the kind.

But as we spoke more about it, it sounds as if it may evolve into some posts about my interests and hobbies such as cooking vegan dishes (because you don’t know what you’re missing and it’s not that difficult to prepare), reviewing baby items (to get at the heart of what you really need and what truly works), thrifty saving trends (because who doesn’t like saving money), and my new venture in crafting (totally investing in a sewing machine with my Christmas money after we get through the holidays).

This has been an incredible space for Nick to share information with people and I’m happy to contribute to this virtual forum to continue our story; connecting with people as we grow from a family of three to four.

To give you an idea of what you may be in for, I’ll be doing my next blog post on a vegan/vegetarian recipe for chili. Fall is the perfect time to break out the crock pot to create a flavorful, low-key easy meal, and what better dish than chili?

Oh, and don’t worry, I don’t venture into complicated recipes with crazy ingredients that you can only get in Mumbai and will never use again, or that take three hours to prepare and five hours to complete.

After all, I am a full-time working mom and if I have to go through a lot of trouble to prepare a healthy meal for my family, I’d just as soon invest in the “Never Ending Pasta Pass” at Olive Garden, and let’s be honest, I ain’t got time for that and neither do you.


dad from day one: She’s Having a Baby

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?”


“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: