Friday, July 29, 2011

Baby Names 2010

One of my pet topics, baby names, is in the news once again.  Given that Natalie Portman named her son Aleph, and David Beckham named his daughter Harper Seven within a few weeks of each other, names couldn't help but make headlines.  For the rest of us, the government recently released were the top baby names of 2010. According to the Social Security Administration, who keeps track of all these brand new people, the top baby names of the year were not quite as exciting as those noted above:





Of course that isn't the whole list, so if you're interested you can see at least the top 1000 names for each gender. Having picked a baby name in 2010, I was not surprised to find that it was one that increased in popularity. It seems that people of my generation prefer classic names that have not been popular in a long time. While I tried to choose a name that was not in the top 100 list, I was ultimately unsuccessful.

Why, might you ask, would I care about my child having a popular name? Because in my other life I was a teacher. I once had a class with five children named Alex, both boys and girls, and it was a headache for me and for them. A co-worker had a class with six boys named Jacob. It meant that half the boys in his class had the same name. Oy vey! If I may be allowed to borrow the phrase!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hooray for Gay Marriage in NY

Over the weekend, the first legal gay marriages took place in New York state!  Such an incredible range of sweet stories from young couples with small kids to elderly brides and grooms some of whom had been engaged for decades.  What a fantastic step for NY and for the country as a whole.  Can you imagine falling in love with someone, and then being officially told "No, sorry, YOU are not allowed"?  Now we just have to work on the other 44 states.   

BTW, did you know that Mormons were one of the single largest factors in the proposition eight battle in California?  I didn't realize they'd poured quite so much money and organizing into that issue.  Now there's a new movie about their sometimes covert participation.  It seems the church even had to pay a fine for failing to report the extent of their involvement.  Public opinion just keeps moving left on this issue, and eventually the time will come when full legalization will simply not be blocked.  I just keep thinking of all the white churches who fought so hard against the civil rights movement in the '50's and '60's.  You can't hold out forever.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Chairs for Baby

The baby's latest trick is climbing up on chairs. Actually, she's not able to get on all chairs (yet!) just a few extra low ones we happen to have in the family room. She starts by laying her upper body on the seat, and then she tries, tries, tries until she gets a knee up as well. After that, it's just a matter of scrambling the rest of the way. It takes huge effort on her part, but she's happy to do it over and over again. The squeals of satisfaction are proof of her success. Fortunately, I was also able to teach her to come down again backwards. That had to happen since she was trying to dive off nose first.

Just to add cuteness to cuteness, she's also realized that you can pile up a great big stack of books on the chair BEFORE you climb up. Then they're up there waiting for you when you finally arrive! She cheerfully sits and reads her books like a big girl for minutes on end. The only part I've left out of all this is the screams of frustrations (and one or two bonks) we all had to endure as she learned how to do it by herself. I believe we're getting another early look at toddlerhood, and it is noisy.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Annoying Food Words

I love, love, love the food website CHOW which is a fun combination of recipes and articles about everything cooking. They recently featured a discussion about food words that must be banned from menus and reviews due to their chronic over use. Some are fussy and over the top such as "annealed" and "eponymous" and "revelatory." Others are simply too stupid for, well words. Examples include "bad boy" and "sammie" and any form of "yummy." Last are those words that are just dreadfully trendy including "locavore" and "gastropub" and "sustainable." What in the world would the restaurant review section of the paper be without all of those? Every industry has its own vocabulary, but it never hurts to avoid the trite and cliched.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Baby Books: 15 Months

For as long as she could focus her eyes, our baby has enjoyed books. The first one she noticed was soft, quilted, and made many different animal noises. Ever since then, she's been fascinated. She will sit for half an hour at a stretch just turning pages and admiring the pictures. Then there are the several times a day when she demands that we read to her. At first it would be one book that would catch her eye, but now she's figured out that you can make a pile of books, and then the parental reading session will last longer. I love, love, love that she is a book fan, but sometimes I do have to struggle a bit when she want to hear the same book for literally the ninth or tenth time that day. Here are a few of her current favorites:

1. Mr. Brown Can Moo by Suess
2. The Little White Rabbit by Henkes
3. The Bunny Book by Scarry
4. The Potty Book by Patricelli
5. The Ox-Cart Man by Hall
6. Bunny My Honey by Jeram
7. Knuffle Bunny Too by Willems
8. No, David by Shannon
9. David Gets in Trouble by Shannon
10. Neighborhood Mother Goose by Crews

Honorable mention goes to those books that used to be huge favorites when she was younger:

1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar
2. Mimi, Mimi Look and See
3. I Am a Bunny
4. Goodnight Gorilla
5. Elmo's Valentine Book
6. The Monster at the End of this Book
7. That's Not My Monster
8. Two Little Gardeners
9. Great Day for Up
10. Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Pre-School Preview - Not

At the farmers' market the other day, Delphinium and I spotted a booth for a local pre-school. I would like to find something that she can attend next year for just a very few hours because I know she would have a ball playing with other kids. I'd heard good things about this particular place from a friend of a friend, so I thought I'd go over and take a look. This was in spite of the fact that the school is housed in a church. I screwed up my courage (I am not so good at this type of thing) and went to chat with the very shiny director.

After declining to make a Froot Loop necklace (keep that away from my kid!) we were handed a brochure. Upon first glance at their materials, it seemed like a nice, friendly kind of place. I liked the focus on play and stories, and the pictures of the outdoor area seemed promising as well. When you throw in the part where they have a brief (two day per week) schedule for kids younger than three, it seemed like a real possibility. It was also quite close to our house (not quite walkable, but still), and the price was reasonable. What could be wrong? Where's the waiting list?

I almost just walked away to think about things further, but I realized that would be counter productive. I needed to address the main concern and there was no easy way to bring it up. I screwed up my courage even tighter (I hate conflict!) and asked what role religion plays in their program. The shiny lady practically began to sparkle as she told me all about chapel time that she herself got to teach (it is her ministry!) for twenty minutes each day. It was a place for the kids to learn about the love that Jesus has for each of us, and how we are the most special in His eyes. I could feel my smile growing fixed.

I know, I know, you go chat with a church school and you are likely to get churchy answers. In my defense, I've known more than one pre-school that was housed in a church, but did not espouse anything more than play-dough and sandboxes. I guess this is not one of those. Nevertheless, if this place offers an older two class, then another, less theist, school may offer it as well. I will be sure to not pray on this matter.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Don't Buy The Sims Medieval

It happened just like this: EA Games sucks.  Please insert your favorite curse words and phrases here.  We will be getting all our money back or heads will roll. 

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Monkey Shirt

Delphinium is, as I'm always repeating, getting bigger at quite an astounding rate. It seems like she's more of a toddler and less of a baby all the time. Practicing with having an opinion is something she does all the time too. It used to be that I could pretty much choose her food, toys, and surroundings without much complaint. These days, however she wants to eat THOSE berries, play with THOSE blocks, and GO OUTSIDE RIGHT NOW!

One major symbol of her independence is her passion about clothes. Some mornings I still get to grab something quickly, put it on her, and be out the door. Most of the time this is not the case. She wants to pick, she wants to take her time at it, and she doesn't really understand the concept of "dirty" or "too small." A perfect example is the monkey shirt. It really is a cute little onesie in blue and purple polka dot with a girl monkey on the front. It says "introducing me" which seems just right for our girl. She loves this shirt, and any time she spies it, there is a major to-do over putting it on. Once on, she can happily spend the day pointing out the monkey and making tiny little "ooo! ooo! eee! eee!" noises.

The only trouble is that the shirt is a nine month size. The snaps barely meet, and the neck is too tight. It's time for the beloved monkey to go, but how can this be managed? Should I get an embroidery hoop and frame the monkey for her wall? Should it just disappear all of a sudden and hope for out of sight out of mind? I've already checked on a replacement, but that monkey (and all like her!) are only found on baby clothes (up to nine months). Oh dear, oh dear.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Summer Danger

Our little family was lucky enough to attend a very special first birthday party the other day. It was beautiful outside, they'd opted for a bbq in the park, and oh what a park they picked. Right on the lake with a real sand beach, it also had the classic green fields, shady nooks, and play areas for kids. Delicious foods were eaten, bubbles were blown, and many, many small sandals filled up with sand. In short, it was a picture perfect day. Then, just as everyone was standing near their cars to go home it happened.

The little three year-old riding on someone's shoulders slipped somehow and tumbled, headfirst, onto the concrete. The sound was the most sickening thing I think I've ever heard, and it actually made me feel like I was going to throw up for a moment. Ambulances were called, and all the rest of us could do was stand around gripping our own kids for all we were worth. It was one of those moments that really makes you think about the possibilities, and not the nice kind.
The good news is that the little girl seems to have escaped any harm from her fall. Her poor mother will probably never be the same. It serves as such an incredible lesson about becoming too comfortable and trusting that nothing bad will happen. We let our guards down and stop being careful, and that is when accidents rear their nasty heads. Now if we can just figure out how to do this without going mad from worry, we will be in great shape.