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.)

The Birthday Sister

My Mom used to dress my sister and I up in the same outfits.¬† This looks cute on twins, but when you’re four years apart one of you is bound to look WRONG!¬† Case in point, a twelve-year-old in footie-pajamas¬†and¬†an infant wearing a belt.¬† Okay, it wasn’t quite that ridiculous, but it was pretty close.¬†

Today is my little sister’s birthday.¬† Whenever I think about her a few things (other than our wacky forced wardrobes) come to mind.¬† First, I think about how blessed we are that we did not grow up fighting.¬† I’m sure that we had our squabbles and¬† a few tiffs come to mind, but nothing major.¬† The lack of fighting¬†left room for laughter and lots of good times.¬† I remember sharing a bedroom and staying up talking and telling stories.¬† One Christmas season we decided to change our pre-bedtime ritual into a singing contest.¬† We would each pick a favorite Christmas song and start singing it at the same time.¬† Whoever could get the other sister to start singing their song first was the winner.¬† It was a lot of fun and I have to admit that as the older sister I had the advantage.¬† You see, at the time my little sister only knew two songs all the way through–Jingle Bells and Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.¬† She always sang one and if I sang the other and sang loud enough¬†she would always end up joining in.¬† Before you start thinking I’m the bad guy, I must confess that it took me several nights of singing “complicated” songs like the Twelve Days of Christmas before I finally realized I could save myself a lot of breath and time by simply singing one of her faves.

We did all the fun things sisters do, like playing dolls, playing house, playing Barbies¬†(which is like dolls, but different), playing store, playing school and even playing adoption agency!¬† I know what you’re thinking, “WHO plays adoption agency?”¬† But you should¬†keep in mind that it was at the height of the Cabbage Patch Kid rage thus adoption agency makes perfect sense.¬† Speaking of Cabbage Patch Kids…boy did we LOVE those dolls!¬† I remember when we got them for Christmas.¬† My Mom could only snag boy Cabbage Patch Dolls (the height of the rage remember) so my sister ended up with Ramsey and I had Peyton.¬† Hers came in a cute little non-gender outfit with short curly hair and,¬†after attaching a hairbow, she immediately reassigned Ramsey’s gender and he became a she.¬† I on the other hand, felt obligated to keep Peyton a boy–after all he came in a sporty little blue and white sweatpant suit and was bald.¬† Nonetheless, we loved those dolls and took them everywhere.¬† In the winter we bundled them up in blankets and carried them around like real babies, in warmer weather they could be found tagging along¬†to Grandma’s, the grocery store, etc… like real babies.

If you asked my Mom¬†to share some of her favorite memories, I wonder if she would remember the time we were playing “K-Mart.”¬† Yes, we weren’t just playing store on that particular afternoon, we were playing “K-Mart.”¬† And when you play K-mart you must have layaway¬†and of course, blue light specials.¬† We arranged the living room, and calculator in hand, we took turns being the shopper and the cashier.¬† We tape recorded the specials (trying to make our voices sound like the coolio K-Mart managers) and played them back all afternoon.¬† Oh, those were the days.¬† Purses full of fake money and the ability to “purchase” things we already owned.¬† We sure knew how to have fun!

In many ways my sister and I are very different.¬† She has loads of dark, curly hair and I have loads of lighter, straight-ish hair (that’s code for boring and constantly permed!)¬† For a little sister she ended up taller than me (a family curse where the eldest daughter ends up the smallest in the bunch.)¬† She has always had perfect teeth and long, slender fingers which I always envied.¬† She’ll pay money to see a scary movie and I have to turn the channel when a horror pic trailer makes its way onto a TV screen.¬† She truly LOVES children whereas I would say that I like most kids.¬† She is the favorite aunt, hip to all the new fashion trends, music and kid-slang and I’m the aunt who you’re not sure if you want to show up at your graduation (can¬†you say group t-shirts and caricature signs!)

We’re also similar in my ways.¬† We both love comedies, Mexican food, the Donna Reed Show and to shop.¬† It’s funny how we’ll like the same scent of perfume without consulting one another.¬† We both try to “lay low” at family events to avoid getting picked on by our brothers.¬† We also know exactly when to roll our eyes and shoot a “here we go again” glance at larger, extended family functions.¬† And we¬†both love to laugh.¬† As little kids we would¬† get the giggles and hardly be able to contain ourselves (even on the rare occasions when we were in church.)¬†¬†As teens we laughed through the dishes and the Uno games that determined who was going to have to sweep or wash!¬† We laughed when our Mom called us Frick and Frack¬†(I’m Frick), Ding and Dong (I’m Ding)¬†or Mutt and Jeff (I’m Jeff.)¬† We could hardly contain ourselves the one afternoon when we decided to cover every photo in the house with¬†post-it notes (adorned with a smiley face), all the while waiting to see how long it would take our Mom to notice when she got home from work!¬† (Ha ha, Mom, it took you a while….)¬†

So many good times.¬† I love my sister for all of these fun memories and so much more, but recently I’ve come to love her in a new way.¬† In the last few years I have seen a strength in my sister that makes my heart burst.¬† While she has always been a key¬†figure in the lives our nieces and nephew, I saw her finally put herself first and ¬†fight through a difficult personal situation…and come out the winner.¬† I know that she still has her good and bad days,¬†and most people wouldn’t believe all that she’s¬†had to deal with and the challenges that she’s been through.¬† Still, I’ve seen her take steps to become more independent, I’ve seen her change her course, I’ve seen her make realizations and discoveries that have deeply impacted her life.¬† I’ve seen her come from a place of brokenness and rise up to a place of responsibility and change for the better.¬† I’m so proud of her and all that she has accomplished so far.¬† I pray for her daily and I know that God has a wonderful future for her, one with promise and hope.¬† She is special and this birthday marks a¬†tremendous turning point for her.¬†

So my darling, sister, here’s to¬†a year unlike any other.¬† One with less worries and stress.¬† One with more¬†happiness and success.¬† And one with courage and loads of side-splitting laughter and joy!¬† Happy birthday, sis…may God bless you today and everyday.¬† YOU ARE LOVED!

A sister is a forever friend.  Author Unknown

They Grow Up So Fast (and a dozen other cliches….)

Here sleeps a girl with a head full of magical dreams, a heart full of wonder, and hands that will shape the world.  -Author Unknown

WARNING:¬†¬†SAP ALERT!!! ¬†You know¬†those TV shows and movies where the teary-eyed parent goes into flashback mode.¬† I trust you’re familiar with that slow fade¬†producers use to¬†signal that we’re going¬†back in time.¬† And heaven help us if they actually use the wavy picture trick!¬† Well, I’ll fess up.¬† For the last week or so I’ve been camped out in that¬†dreamland because my baby girl just had a birthday!¬† (Dissolving…now.)

I’ll begin the tale with the fact that I didn’t really want a second child.¬† Every step of the process with our firstborn was difficult from pregnancy to post-pregnancy.¬† Blessed as we¬†were with one child, I sort of thought we should leave well enough alone.¬† One baby is good.¬†¬†But as it typically¬†goes, my plan was not His plan.¬† When¬†we found out that I was pregnant with our little girl,¬†we could hardly wait to share the good news!

We started calling people on a drive out to beautiful Colorado.¬† Smiling and happy we passed the miles jabbering along telling everyone we knew.¬† The pregnancy was off to a great start!¬† I had such a wonderful doctor who was an angel throughout the process.¬† She eased my fears, reminding me that every pregnancy is different.¬† She was right, every pregnancy is different.¬† While our son was born in record heat for the San Francisco Bay Area…our darling girl was born during record cold in Kansas!

Everything was iced over the night she was born.¬† My folks had fortunately arrived early–ahead of the date I was to be induced¬†(which was the following Monday.)¬† We all passed the time laughing, cooking and eating (my Mom is a great cook!) and of course, playing with my son.¬† We were so busy hanging out that at one point we didn’t even realize that somebody’s car had slid off the road into our yard and ultimately onto our mailbox.¬† (To our credit, we all thought we heard “something,” although none of us bothered to check.)¬† Still, the tire marks and the downed mailbox post told the story.¬† To top off that evening, Steve and I decided to brave the bitter temps and go to Wal-Mart and just walk around, supposedly that’s great for a pregnant woman who wants to speed along the process.¬† While it never worked for our son, that night I awoke Steve to say that it was time! (I say that I awoke Steve because I did not go to bed that night.¬† Our little girl had given me the worst insomnia I have ever known and I had grown accustomed to watching late-night infomercials while the rest of the world slept.)

Off we went into the still of an icy night.¬† Everything progressed smoothly.¬† I was told that she would probably be born in the late morning or early afternoon.¬† I passed the time in a horrible hospital gown (whose idea were those things anyway?) watching Bible documentaries (Steve was with me remember) on the History Channel.¬† When he managed to doze off (I still had insomnia), I couldn’t even change the channel.¬† Tethered to an IV, I had little mobility and the remote was conveniently still in Steve’s possession.¬† Oh well.¬† I gained a great deal of Bible knowledge that night!

Soon it was time.¬† Nurses scurried around us.¬† Steve and I were ready.¬† I fixed my gaze on the giraffe painting across the room.¬† Only one thing was missing–my doctor!¬† As wonderful as she was, we were on her time schedule now and I was told not to push until she arrived!¬† Yikes!¬† So we waited.¬† Finally, during the noon hour (and probably the doctor’s lunch break) our baby girl arrived.¬† It was the easiest delivery ever…what a blessing!¬† As our little girl tells the story, she “couldn’t wait to get out of there.”

We had no visitors on the first day of our little baby girl’s life.¬† The weather didn’t permit travel that day.¬† The hospital was quiet.¬† We talked on the phone with my folks who were caring for our son, and many other well-wishers who called that day.¬† Steve had some business to tend to and I was on my own for a while.¬† Nurses would bring our little girl in and I would look at her in amazement.¬† She was beautiful.¬† Big cheeks, a tiny amount of downy hair, and such a small bundle of a body.¬† Thinking about that day still brings tears to my eyes.

Throughout this week I have relived that day a thousand times as well as countless other “baby girl” memories.¬†¬†I remember that her nursery was pink and purple¬†with butterflies and bunnies.¬† I recall that¬†she had her days and nights mixed up.¬† I remember the colic and¬†the switch to soymilk.¬† I can’t forget when she fell down the steps or how quickly she learned to walk, practically skipping crawling all together.¬† I remember how she didn’t even own a doll until she turned one.¬†¬†¬† I remember her first Oreo,¬†her first lollipop and when she learned to talk… “oh, wow, oh, wow.”¬†¬†My mind¬†goes back to¬†the holidays we’ve celebrated and, of course, her birthdays:¬†¬†the Elmo one, the Barbie princess one, the Mermaid one, the cookie baker one, the High School Musical one, the let’s eat at McDonald’s one, the Pop-Princess one and now–this one.

Back to reality and the producer brings everything back into focus.  Each birthday is a blessing and nothing is promised.  My baby girl (who is no longer really a baby) has turned seven.  As I write this it is bitter cold outside, and as far as I know, our mailbox is intact (no ice.)  I still spend way too much time walking around Wal-Mart and my insomnia is merely a thing of the past.  My daughter, who once had her days and nights mixed up, wakes up with the sun and soundly sleeps through the night in a bedroom that is still pink and purple filled with butterflies and bunnies.

Happy, happy birthday, darling Casey.  You are so very LOVED.

Every good and perfect gift is from above… James 1:17