WINK ;) baby names

ūüėČ What I Now Know about baby names

baby-namesAs¬†a Sunday school teacher I often find that I learn as much (and often times even more)¬†than the young people in my class.¬† This week¬†was a perfect example of that as we took out our “God goggles” and looked at “naming” and more specifically the difference between good and bad naming.¬† Who knew that so much could be wrapped up in a name?¬† And as I studied the lesson¬†a couple of¬†things stood out to me.¬† First of all,¬†the idea that naming is Biblical.¬† It was the first job that God gave to man.¬† You might recall the story in Genesis where Adam was called to name all of the creatures.¬† The second thing that kept coming up was just how powerful a name can be…which led me to this post.

When my husband and I found out that we were expecting we tossed around several name ideas.¬† It was fun,¬†light-hearted and a learning experience as we discovered that we had very different ideas about what makes up a good name.¬† Soon after finding out that we would be having a boy, we began to narrow our focus.¬† I wanted¬†Matthew or Thomas…family names.¬† Steve wanted to name our son Jacob or Calvin.¬† Family members and friends weighed in with their ideas.¬† Before long we had a long list of possibilities–none of which we were really crazy about or could agree on.¬† Then someone threw out the¬†idea that we should have a backup¬†name for a little girl…just in case the doctors were wrong.¬† Yikes!¬† Like a lot of couples, we finally got serious and bought a baby name book–and the real trouble began!

If you’re ever looking for a good chuckle, look up your name in a baby book.¬† Better yet, look up the names of family and friends.¬† Very entertaining.¬† The baby book we chose (from Motherhood Maternity) was particularly golden as it had a subsection under every name that detailed celebrities who share the same name as well as a sentence or two that describes how the general population feels about the name.¬† Priceless.¬† For example, my name–Anna–means graceful, however, the general¬†perception of¬†the name Anna brings about images of a hardy, pioneer woman.¬† Let me just say that I am anything but a hardy, pioneer woman.¬† I would have DIED on the prairie!¬† If I couldn’t pick up my food at a grocery store or through a drive-thru window, I wouldn’t eat.¬† Nevermind the fact that I can’t stand to be cold (or hot).¬† I need climate control, too!

This newfound information made choosing a name even harder.¬† Through laughter we eliminated many names and with awareness added many more.¬† Finally, we found a name for our son where we least expected it.¬† In a conversation between my husband and I (about an old Air Force buddy of his) we settled on the name Sean.¬† Our son would be named for a friend.¬† The baby book confirmed our choice as Sean means “God is gracious.”¬† It was perfect.¬† Still I couldn’t help but look at the two little sentences at the end of the entry…Sean is typically a well-liked man who is debonair and sophisticated¬†like Sean Connery’s James Bond character or¬† he is an intense, moody (yet talented) character like Sean Penn.¬† Chuckle, chuckle.¬† (If you know my Sean, you know exactly which description he favors.)

My daughter’s name came about a little differently.¬† Armed with knowledge (veteran parents now) we set out to choose a name for our little girl.¬† Many of the girl names we liked just three years before didn’t makes sense for this new bundle of joy.¬† I started at the beginning of the baby name book and went about choosing a name methodically.¬† This became a bedtime ritual for me.¬† When Steve would finally settle in for the night I would toss out a few names.¬† He was great at pointing out potential problems with little girl names, things that I had never thought about.¬† The list of acceptable names was short.¬† I found myself drawn to one name in particular and offered it up for opinions.¬† Bad move.¬† Let me say that again…baaaaad mooooove!¬† Turns out people have very strong opinions about little girls’ names.¬† Our mothers were not impressed with this name option.¬† Oh, they were polite about it…but “umms” and “wells” can surprisingly speak volumes.¬† I was at a loss until I started the name game fresh again…back to¬†the beginning of the book.¬† I came upon the name Casey.¬† It was a sweet Irish name that meant “brave.”¬† I liked it and before I knew it, I LOVED it.¬† This was the baby’s name.¬† This time when we announced our name choice there really was nothing anyone could have said that would have changed our minds.¬† I think that’s how you know when you’ve come across the right name.¬† You just have that gut feeling and won’t be swayed any other way (which is good, because¬†this one¬†wasn’t an immediately accepted name choice either.)¬† I especially loved the short little sentence at the end of this entry.¬† Casey is an outgoing, friendly brunette.¬† You just can’t go wrong with an endorsement like that!

So, both children ended up with wonderful, well thought out Irish names (did I mention I’m nothing close to Irish?)¬† And here’s What I Now Know about baby names:

1.  Naming requires time and consideration.  Many times we overlook the significance of a name and forget to weigh our decisions.  A cute name today can easily become outdated.  An old-fashioned name may require a lot of explaining for years to come.  An unusual spelling is unique, but can be problematic down the road. 

2.¬† Family names can be tricky.¬† I have mixed feelings about family names.¬† I don’t mind the idea of Junior, the Third, the Fourth, etc., but when you have a family name chances are someone is going to nickname your child.¬† Don’t consider it rude, it’s just that differentiating one person from another is often a necessity for a family.¬† Be prepared to offer your own nickname.¬† It can save you a lot of trouble.¬†

3.¬† Step into the role of a class clown or bully.¬† This tip probably seems odd, but it has a serious place on the list.¬† For example, I really like the name Ashley.¬† But it was quickly pointed out to me that this name is gold as far as teasing is concerned.¬† Also, if you child has trouble pronouncing the name Ashley, there’s another opportunity for poking fun.¬† Kids have enough going on these days…don’t add to it by giving them a name that someone else can easily exploit.

4.¬† Tread lightly where initials are concerned.¬† I used to think initials were cute and don’t get me wrong, they work for some people.¬† But overall, I wonder whether using initials is a disservice to the child.¬† Look at it this way…when you go by your initials it’s somewhat of a shock to people when you use your real name.¬† And you’re going to have to use your real name at some point.¬† I remember someone who went by his initials.¬† Honestly, it was years before I knew what his name actually was.

5.¬† Keep the name to yourself…at least for a while.¬† Let it grow on you.¬† Walk it around a little bit.¬† Consider it from all angles.¬† How does it sound for someone at age 5, 10, 15, 50?¬† Does it still sound good to you?¬†¬†When you finally decide to share¬†your baby name–be prepared.¬†¬†You will¬†get feedback!¬† It’s not like you have to defend your baby name, but if you’re¬†dead set on it you should be ready to¬†back up your¬†name choice.¬† Ultimately the decision is yours, but I remember in the name announcing process not really¬†being prepared for some of the comments I received.¬†

6.¬† Think of your¬†child.¬†¬†¬†It’s their name, not yours.¬† Sure you like it, but think about pronouncing it, spelling it, hearing it chanted at a football game, read aloud at an awards assembly, with the words Mister or Madam President in front of it.¬† Look at the name’s meaning and significance.¬† You shouldn’t base your name on some celebrity, but it doesn’t hurt to be knowledgable about whether or not the name will bring to mind a famous person.¬†And lastly, pray that you will give your child a good name…and when you do, use their name well.¬† How quickly a name can go from good to bad based on tone and inflection.¬† Build your child up by using their name with love and never in a negative way.¬† Have you ever seen a child cringe when their name is called out?¬† Make it a practice to use their name with respect, after all you’re naming a child of God.¬†

All in all, I’m happy with our baby name choices.¬† It’s been fun to share with the kids the stories about how we chose their names and what their names mean.¬† I love to hear how others have arrived at their child’s name choice as well.¬† There’s only been one hiccup to Sean and Casey’s names…over the phone (especially) people often as me, “Are your children boys or girls or one of each?”¬† Yes… I thought that I had considered every aspect of their names.¬† Apparently, I had overlooked gender neutral naming.¬† LOL ūüėČ

A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.   Proverbs 22:1

ūüėČ What I Now Know (W.I.N.K.) is a recurring entry on this blog.¬†¬†The idea of WINK as an acronym popped into my head the other day while I was doing laundry.¬† You see, aside from being a slave to housework I actually have quite a bit of knowledge filed away in my overworked brain.¬† While I don‚Äôt claim to be an expert on anything, I know something about a few subjects that just might be worth sharing.¬† And just like that¬†this new blog idea was born‚ÄďWINK (What I Now Know).¬† I hope to share a little bit of what I‚Äôve learned as a daughter, sister, friend, wife, mother and all-around regular, ordinary¬†girl.¬† Look for ongoing posts, but What I Now Know (as a busy wife and mother) is not to promise¬†weekly entries because life happens‚Äď and it usually happens when I want to blog!¬† (Here‚Äôs where if I could wink at you, I WOULD.)

Just Might Be a Cool Mom

I had this¬†zany idea the other day…let’s make a¬†snow day¬†Harlem Shake video–and upload it on youtube!¬† What? Yeah, I know. It’s not exactly the sort of thing that pops into the head of a quiet midwest Mom (sometimes I even surprise myself.)¬† So, how does one arrive at the idea of a¬†snow day¬†Harlem Shake?¬† Glad you asked.¬† Let me walk you through it.

The whole thing started when I saw the Kansas Jayhawk basketball team’s Harlem Shake video.¬† A die-hard Jayhawk fan, I absolutely loved it and shared it with my kids.¬† They liked it.¬† Liked it?¬† That’s right, they liked it¬†as in they watched it once and moved on.¬† Okay.¬† Mmmm, maybe this Harlem Shake thing isn’t exactly cool.¬† But it sure was funny and I soon found myself cruising¬†youtube looking for more Harlem Shake videos.¬† Before I knew it I had watched a couple dozen videos (some good, some not so good).¬† Eventually, I decided to turn to everybody’s favorite source for information–Wikipedia–and find out more about these videos.¬† Turns out it’s this big web frenzy…complete with rules and criteria like masks, costumes, wielding objects and in some cases, very little clothing!¬† The whole things lasts less than one minute and I thought to myself…it might be fun to make one.¬† Of course, I never (ever)¬†thought we actually would–but Mother Nature had a better plan.

Enter the big midwest snow storm!¬† Wednesday’s light snow and modest accumulations ¬†(mixed with the weatherman’s doomsday overnight forecast) led us to cancel Wednesday night activities at church.¬† A relaxed night of Jayhawk basketball ensued (LOL that game was anything but relaxing!)¬† Word that school was cancelled for Thursday made room for a¬†laid back¬†morning and an additional 5 inches of snow¬†created opportunities for¬†some outdoor¬†fun.¬† We could have headed¬†to the backyard¬†to build a snowman (I like snowmen), but blame it on the Jayhawks victory, their funny Harlem Shake video and¬†the rare occurrence of a well-rested Mom and an idea was born.¬† I announced my plans over lunch.¬† No one was as excited as I was.¬†

I headed to the basement to gather some props.¬† I explained the “rules” of the video to the kiddos and¬†swore that it would take 5 minutes or less to create.¬† Still, no one moved.¬† I bribed them with the promise of hot cocoa and extra play time in the snow that afternoon.¬† They were slow to get moving, grumbled all the way out the door, and gave me blank stares when I directed them into the yard.¬† My son complained that the whole thing was embarrassing (and he’s an EXTROVERT) while my daughter moped and sulked in the snow.¬† Three minutes later we were done and they were FREE!¬† They couldn’t get to their friends fast enough and I was left feeling like the “uncool” Mom with the “uncool” idea of making a Harlem Shake video.¬†

Fast forward to later that afternoon.  The video had been edited and uploaded.  I asked the kids to come see the finished product.  The smile that crept across their faces was priceless.  My children are hams at heart and love to see themselves on any screen.  They giggled.  They asked me to play it again.  They laughed at themselves, laughed at each other and of course, laughed at their parents.  I linked the video to my Facebook page and we laughed together throughout the day as family and friends liked and commented on our video. 

We were surprised this morning to see that our video had more than 60 views on youtube…for today’s “plugged in” kids that’s a pretty big deal.¬†¬†Our¬†snow day¬†Harlem¬†Shake video¬†was the buzz at the only hill in town¬†worth sledding on–which means…¬†this little family¬†project just might be labeled a success, that¬†as parents we¬†aren’t that¬†lame and out of touch¬†and finally, that for once (yes once), ¬†I just might be a cool Mom.

No one in this world will ever love you like your Mom.   author unknown

February is the Longest Month

“February is a suitable month for dying.¬† Everything around is dead, the trees black and frozen so that the appearance of green shoots two months hence seems preposterous, the ground hard and cold, the snow dirty, the winter hateful, hanging on too long.”
–¬† Anna Quindlen, One True Thing

med234056Let me be clear. I am not a fan of the month of February. Yes, I am aware that there are a lot of fantastic holidays in February…admirable tributes like Black History Month, President’s Day, and (occasionally) Ash Wednesday.¬† Obviously, there are good times to be had…Ground Hog’s Day, Super Bowl Sunday, and Mardi¬†Gras.¬† Then there are wacky observances like Wave All Your Fingers at Your Neighbor Day (7th), Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk Day (11th) and Do¬†a Grouch a Favor day (16th).¬† The month of February even offers special days like Random Acts of Kindness Day (17th) and Love Your Pet Day (20th), not to mention the big holiday of the month–Valentine’s Day.¬† We’ve packed a lot into this little month and yet…for me, February remains the longest month of the year.

I think a lot of it has to do with the weather.¬† It is too cold.¬† Now there’s cold and then there’s too cold.¬† February brings with it the kind of temperatures that people refer to as “too cold to snow.”¬† It’s absolutely bitter with winds that will cut through you like a knife.¬† It’s not just a Kansas thing either.¬† When I lived on the West Coast I still loathed the month of February.¬† Don’t let the California stereotype fool you…there’s very little sun to be had in February.¬† Rain, rain and more rain.¬† Gloom, dark clouds, and extra gloom.¬† (Can you tell that I don’t like rain either?)

Yes, February seems extra long because of the weather but there’s also another factor.¬† I’m not sure exactly how to describe this one, but I’ll just call it “The Letdown.”¬† Here’s where we’ve passed all the fun holidays and those New Year’s resolutions start to fall apart.¬† You know what I mean…the diet failed, the get organized frenzy has died down, and we are weeks away from Spring Break or any sort of exciting getaway.¬† “The Letdown” reminds us that we have nowhere to run.

Speaking of nowhere to¬†run…February is also the time of year where everybody is sick with something.¬† I actually start to fear my husband and my kids.¬† My kids especially.¬† Every time I see their cute little faces I think about all the germs they’ve picked up at school.¬† Yuck!¬† They’re probably sick of me telling them to wash their hands every time¬†we come home from school, church, shopping, etc.¬† As¬†a certified germaphobe, I am on pins and needles all month.¬† My hands are so dry they’re practically untouchable.¬† Make the school lunches–wash my hands–pour some juice–wash my hands–touch a doorknob–wash my hands.¬† You get the picture.¬† Once (obviously a long time¬†ago) a nurse told me that I had the softest hands she had ever touched, but not anymore, lady!¬† I’m practically¬†bankrolling Aveeno right now and I’m pretty sure holding my hand on Valentine’s Day isn’t what it used to be!

Good, that brings me to Valentine’s Day.¬†¬†It might mean something if they didn’t put the Valentine candy out¬†on December 26th (or sooner!)¬† The holiday has become almost as overwhelming as Christmas.¬† The pressure is on to find the perfect gift coupled with the added pressure of trying to find the right card.¬† You don’t want to say too much or the wrong thing.¬† Here’s where I feel really bad for people who are still dating.¬† Talk about complicated.¬† I should feel sorry for my husband, too.¬† I’m not easy to shop for under any circumstances and I’m certainly no picnic at Valentine’s Day.¬†¬†Not into flowers or candy…mostly I just want a nap.

This has been fun…all my ranting about February.¬† As I started writing this blog I came across several others who dislike February just as much as I do.¬† I actually found that encouraging.¬† I also came upon this little piece of trivia.¬† February is named for an ancient purification festival…I don’t know all the details but I imagine everyone was so busy hibernating and avoiding the cold weather that they couldn’t help but purify themselves.¬† Picture this, people of an ancient city where the temperatures are so cold that they stay in…not just for a day, but for several.¬† Sounds like fasting to me.¬† They survive only by drinking snowmelt (doesn’t get much purer than that.)¬† Their isolated lifestyle means less exposure to germs, thus no risk of colds or flu.¬† Consequently, there wouldn’t be a need for excessive hand washing.¬† And finally, I’m pretty sure the pressures of Valentine’s Day just didn’t exist back then.¬† Maybe these ancients were on to something!

So it’s day one of this never-ending month and I may have just solved my own dilemma.¬† I will no longer be a victim of the “February funk.”¬† It’s all about hibernation…so excuse me while I get my favorite blanket and try to consume a much coffee as I possibly can¬†without leaving the house.¬† I mean, I’ve only got 28 days ūüôā