Naming Your Unborn Child: More challenging than naming your cat.

Things that are difficult to do: picking out a name for a girl, sitting through 20 minutes of Around the Horn on ESPN, 8th grade Algebra, birthing a child without drugs.  (Those things are listed in order of difficulty, for those unaware).
People, names are important.  Like really super super important.  The name you give the child is the name they will have to live with for all of their lives, unless they head down to the courthouse when they turn 18 and spend $50 to change their name to something else.  I assume most people are as lazy as I am, so legal name-changing is off the table, which makes the task of choosing the *perfect* name even more daunting.
And because we didn’t find out what gender Kid Two will be, we’re tasked with choosing both a boy name and a girl name.  Some of you are thinking, “Well, that should be super easy, just use the girl name you had picked out for Kid One.”  And to you people I will pose the question: Do you even know me?  The favorite girl name two years ago was for potential Baby Girl 1.  The names for Thing 1 were chosen early, but became the names over the course of that pregnancy, because I could feel the personality radiating from my uterus.  And it seemed a little weird for me to use a “leftover” name for Thing 2.
You should know that when it comes to names, I am picky.  Very, very picky.  Spelling, pronunciation, number of syllables, current popularity, characters with the same name, pets with the same name…those are all things my overly OCD mind considers.  I don’t like common names that are misspelled for creativity.  If you like the name Bob, then spell it BOB.  Don’t spell it BAUHB, because your kid is going to have to explain that for the rest of his/her life.  I should know; my name is definitely not unique or unusual, but there are 487 ways to spell it and its variations, and I rarely have someone get it right the first time. 
Our conversations usually go something like this:
Person: And your first name?
Me: Kristin.
Person: And do you spell that C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N?
Me: Sigh.  No, it’s K-R-I-S-T-I-N.
I’m sure you’re thinking, “Oh big deal, you have to spell your name.”  I have to spell my name a lot.  Because most people don’t just say, “Oh, is it IN or EN?”  They think I actually said Kiersten, Christian, Crystal, Cristina, everything but what my actual name is.  And so, after 31+ years of name spelling, my conversations now go something like this:
Person: And your first name?
Me: Kristin.
Person: And that’s K-R-Y-S-T-I-A-N-N-E?
Me: YES!  Amazing, no one ever gets it right on the first try.
I give up.  Sometimes I’ll tell them my name is something simple, like Jill or Sue.  I don’t dislike my first name; I dislike the frequency with which I am forced to spell it for people.  And no, I won’t go by Kris, because after Rule One of naming (it must be a standard spelling) my Rule Two is this: NO NICKNAMES (other than cute nicknames I give my kids, but that’s not for roll call at Harvard in 2021).
I’m not going to name a child Elizabeth and call her Betty; if I want a Betty, I’ll name her Betty.  Nicknames are confusing to me.  Our children won’t have to worry about their first names every being converted into nicknames because Rule Three on my Crazy Train of Baby Names is this: One syllable first names only.
I know, weird right?  We like one syllable.  We have a one syllable last name, and I think the BOOM BOOM of simple syllables sounds strong.  And if there’s anything my kids will be, it’s strong and independent (and probably smartasses, because that’s an inheritable trait, as I’ve learned with Miles).
Rule Four: The name must have some sentimental appeal.  Our son’s name is Miles Clark.  Miles for Miles Davis, my favorite musician, and Clark for my grandmother. 
Rule Five: Unique.  The name needs to be unique, but not weird.  When Miles first started school, his infant room had 12 babies and five of them had variations of “Aiden.”  The other 7 were usually McSomething.  I went to a teeny tiny school in a teeny tiny town, and I still shared my name with at least one other classmate.  Of course, no matter how unique your name is, you’ll probably run into at least one other person at some point in your life carrying the same name.  When I chose Miles, I had a specific and sentimental reason.  I did not know that Miles was a name shared by 1. A college football player and 2. A character on some semi-popular sci-fi TV show that has since been canceled.  And so, lo and behold, Miles actually has another Miles in his classroom now.  My victory is this: my Miles was born first.  But you know what?  I have seen at least two other Miles in my Facebook newsfeed.  Clearly this is a name that could be popular.  I hope not, but if it blows up in five years, well I guess I can appreciate my own unique coolness for choosing it first, and also in knowing that it was chosen for a special reason.
Rule Six: Not weird.  When we consider names, I always like to put Dr. in front of it, just in case I birth a neurosurgeon.  Then I also consider whether the name is too stuffy, because if my kid wants to be a pineapple farmer in Hawaii, it still needs to be a cool name.  Dr. Miles and Pineapple Farmer Miles both sound pretty awesome, in my opinion.  I couldn’t name my son Blackjack Dangerson because no one would ever take him seriously as a pineapple farmer.
We also avoid names in the Top 100 list in the Social Security database and baby name sites like Nameberry.  So yes, I have a lot of rules, but like I said before, the name is super important.
I have found that boy names are super, super easy.  It took maybe two weeks to narrow down our boy names, and only a few more days to decide on what we liked for sure.  Girl names?  Totally different story.  I feel that with a girl name, I could be a little more unique and different, and she could pull it off, but I still want something that fits our other requirements.
If you give your kid an exceptionally offbeat name, like Apple or Moxie Crimefighter (both actual celeb baby names, FYI) then it works just fine if you happen to be a celebrity.  If you are celebrity, I’m 99% certain that your child’s future will be different; the children of Mick Jagger aren’t exactly donning police uniforms or drawing blood or selling insurance.  Your child could have a relatively normal career, like me, in which case having a super weird name would just mean constant explaining (like having to spell it all the time isn’t bad enough…)
Trust me, if I were a brilliant and well-paid writer/musician (like I am in my dreams) then I would totally name a girl something like Barefoot Stevie Juniper Moonbeam.  But we would probably also be living in a cabin in the mountains, and I’d never wear shoes and do lots of twirl-dancing and singing and tie-dyeing in my spare time. 
Me on the weekends.

Me on the weekends.

The rest of our kids would be named after jazz musicians and Grateful Dead songs and plants that flourish during Summer Solstice, and we’d all shake tambourines and make fruit leather.  Then on Saturdays, we’d go into town for Dairy Queen because I’m only like 60% hippie and I need chocolate sauce – the REAL chocolate sauce, none of that carob-raw honey-seaweed stuff.  I still need sprinkles in my life.  And yes, I am fully aware of how specific my daydreams are.
But I’m not a brilliant and well-paid writer/musician.  I have to wear shoes and normal-ish clothes and I cook things like homemade chicken nuggets for dinner.  So this potential baby girl needs something less Moonbeam-y and more Murphy Brown-y (but not Murphy; too many syllables and I don’t like things that end in “Y”).
So we have names.  Both a boy name, which was super easy and chosen MONTHS ago, and a girl name, which has changed half a dozen times but we sort of think is definite now.  And both are names that we think are cool and unique and strong and pineapple farmer worthy.  And of course I’m not telling you what they are, because only three people know other than Evan and me, and even that is three people too many. 
Let’s be real…I will probably have to give my favorite girl name to our next cat, because after all these months of deciding, I have sealed my fate in birthing yet another boy.  Fo’ sho’.
Moonbeams and fruit leather and Y chromosomes,

Yes, I would also like to throw myself on the ground when we’re out of Ben & Jerry’s.

Is there a secret toddler class where they teach children how to writhe around on the ground like snakes?  Because I know for a fact that Miles didn’t learn this adorable trait from me. 
I get it, kid…fun stuff is fun, and you don’t want me to take you away from it.  I react in a similar fashion when your dad only gives me two scoops of Ben & Jerry’s…I WANT THREEEEE, WAAAAAH!  But in all reality, as much as you think you’d enjoy it, we can’t spend all day at the splash pad, or the park, or rolling around on the rugs at Target.
A few weekends ago, we hit one of our local parks that has a splash pad.  We made an early morning run, after eating breakfast out, so we could avoid the “big kids” (those heathen 7-year-olds…) and so Miles could have adequate space to run around like a maniac.  If you are not the parent of a toddler or young child, you should know this: a toddler doing anything for an hour is the equivalent of you on your first day of Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred.  But unlike an adult, who knows that it’s probably time to call it quits once the shaking knees and urge to vomit kick in, a toddler will continue running around like a maniac until they lay down on the ground and go to sleep.  My child has never done this because I’m one of those weird parents who has their child on a schedule, but I have witnessed the occurrence with other kids.
I am not a “nap where you fall down” mama.  I am a “you nap in your crib from 12:00-2:30p so I can read/nap/fold laundry/binge on Tostitos/watch Roseanne” mama.  We never plan activities or get togethers during nap time, because this is a special and sacred time for all of us.  And so, with any outing, it must come to an end so we can move on to other important parts of our day.  I can’t just leave you to fall asleep under a bench.
After 90 minutes of running, splashing, finding small objects to shove in our ears, nearly drowning no less than six times and even making TWO NEW FRIENDS (!!!), we knew lunch time was approaching (to be followed closely by nap time) and it was time to do the logical thing: pack up and head home.
Logical, right?
I gathered our sunscreen, hats, sunglasses, shoes, towels, water bottles, more sunscreen, and toys, and loaded them into the truck.  Only one additional item to load: THE KID.
Oh, the horror.  The horror and the terror.  Or at least that’s what it sounded like.
Me: “Miles!  It’s almost time for lunch! (yay, happy smiles!) Are you ready to go home and have lunch?” (more happy smiles)
Miles: *looks at me skeptically*
Me: “Look!  I have a banana!  We can eat it in the truck.  Come on, big guy!” (super happy smiles)
Miles: *continues looking at me skeptically, turns around and runs to the nearest water feature he can shove his face into*
Me: “Miles, it’s time to go.  Would you like to be mama’s BIG HELPER and help me finish packing?”  Note: This “big helper” stuff works 99.98% of the time, seriously.
Miles: “No.”
Me: *confused look*  Additional note: I am confused because we don’t use “no” in our household; we redirect.  Call me a hippie if you want, but it works 87.88% of the time.  It has zero effect at water parks.
Miles: “Waw-duh.  Waw-duh!  WAW-DUH!” (“water”, duh)
Me: “Miles, we have finished playing in the water, and now we are all done.  Let’s go home so we can eat lunch.”
Miles: “No.  No.  No.”
Me: *picks up the child*
Holy.  Shit.
Up until this point, Miles had never really thrown a tantrum.  Sure, he’d get sort of ticked if I wouldn’t let him stick the whisk in the dog’s ear, and as soon as I took the whisk and attempted to redirect him to something else, his normal reaction was to lay on the floor and yell (not scream, just sort of yell) then pick himself up and go about his business.  So while I’d thought those were sort of like tantrums, I learned that they were not.  NOT IN THE LEAST.
After 15 minutes of attempting to change him into dry clothes, 10 minutes of explaining why he could not have his wet bathing suit, and an additional 15 minutes of wrangling/acrobatics/Cirque de Soleil, he was finally FINALLY in his car seat.  FINALLY.  I gave him a banana, and we were good to go.  Crisis over.  He happily chattered the entire drive home, ate lunch, and took an epic nap.  I joined him in this epic napping, because I was EXHAUSTED.
Last Friday, I arrived at Miles’ school promptly at 5:05 to pick him up…the weekend had arrived, woohoo!  When I walked into the classroom, he and one of his favorite friends were playing on these giant wedges (toddler toys are primarily things that sing, things that roll, things that yell “IT’S LEARNING TIME!” over and over and over, and giant foam things covered in vinyl that kids can get all WWE on without fear of injuring themselves too much).  Oh man, it was adorable.  Running up the wedges, rolling down the wedges, standing on top of the wedges and jumping off.  I talked with his teacher for a few minutes, just to give him some extra play time.  And then, it was time.  Cue the theme from “Rocky.”
A similar conversation to the one held at the splash park took place.  It ended with me carrying him football-style, screaming, out of the classroom.  The attempted resistance continued the entire 478 mile trek to the parking lot.  Parents of older kids looked at me with a, “been there, done that” face.  Parents of infants looked at me with a, “THAT’S what happens?!” face.  And we will call that Tantrum #2.
How have we learned to avoid tantrums, especially when redirecting isn’t working?  Food.  Specifically, bananas or dried apples.  We keep one of these with us at all times: instant happy smiles.
At the end of the day, these moments are few and far between, and the joy that we experience leading up to the Reign of Terror is pretty awesome…


Here, let me shove my face in this…



Worth it.

Totally worth the sprained knee resulting from Clash of the Car seat.

Just because someone LOOKS like a grandparent…

On most Saturdays, my husband usually works at least half a day.  This comes with the territory of self-employment, but it’s worth it, because he never has to ask for a single day off, never has to deal with horrible co-workers, and never has to contribute to my 401k (I AM THE RETIREMENT PLAN).  Love you, schnookums!
So, on many Saturdays, Miles and I will head out to one of our favorite local parks.  It’s not the closest park, but it’s definitely the shadiest, which is important for Ultra Gingers such as myself (some people think I’m a vampire).  This past Saturday was no exception.  We loaded our snacks, balls, water, sippies, hats, 473 changes of clothes into my Mary Poppins bag, and headed to the park.  There was swinging, running, laughing, sliding, panting, wheezing and Icy Hot for all (maybe those last three were just mine…maybe)  After about 90 minutes of this, we decided it was time to pack up and head home.
Then I saw him.
Across the street from this particular park, there’s a duplex.  In one side of this duplex resides a man who eats nails and scorpions and other angry things for breakfast.  How do I know?  Because he’s always mad, always scowling, and always yelling at his dogs.  And oh, by the way, those dogs are running through the park without leashes, pooping under the playground equipment like the maniac heathens they are.  I do not like this man, and I do not like his dogs.
Usually, I let it slide, because I know deep down he doesn’t want to hear me talk, let alone request he do something like :::gasp::: put his yippy dogs on leashes and :::clutch my pearls::: PICK UP THEIR POOP.  But today, I was feeling extra feisty and hormonal, so I decided I was going to say something.  I knew I could catch him because he uses a cane.  There was no escape for him, so Miles and I marched right over…
Me: Excuse me, sir?
Jerkface: *avoids all eye contact and continues walking after his dogs, yelling*
Me: Excuse me, sir?
Jerkface: *attempts to walk faster; does not succeed*
Jerkface: *stops, rolls his eyes, looks at me* What do you want, lady?
Oh good, this is already off to a fine start.
Me: You really should have your dogs on leashes, sir.  There are other people enjoying this park today.
Jerkface: Listen, I don’t need any crap from you…I’ve lived here for 38 years, I can do as I please. 
Me: Sir, this is a public park, and I believe you’re required by law to leash your dogs.  Also, it’s not very nice to let them use the bathroom under the playground equipment.
Jerkface: What do you care?!  The squirrels shit all over this place, and I don’t see you chasing after them to impart your GREAT WISDOM.  LEAVE ME ALONE.
Oh good, verbal harassment.  This is going exactly as I planned.
Me: I’m sorry sir, but if you can’t leash your dogs and clean up after them, I’m going to call animal control.
Jerkface: ALSKDJ0ASDKFASD(**($LKDJ%()W(JSLKI%U()W*&%$)(JLISDJFLKSJ%*&@)(#(%&ALKJDLKSTJ(#%(*)(%HG()*$)(^*$OIJIGJPOIRIUYG)(R*Y)(EJ%$EPO^&IJ(U  (these words are not fit for publication)
Me: You’re very rude.
Jerkface: I’M RUDE?!  I’M RUDE?!  You’re the one who comes to this park thinking they can just RUN THE WHOLE SHOW!
Yes, that’s me, running the entire Public Park Anti-Poop Show.  YOU CAUGHT ME.
This polite back-and-forth banter continued for a few more minutes, before I ended with giving him my condolences for his obvious bad day, and telling him that I would pray for him (which was met with a, “OH YES, THAT’S WHAT I NEED, SOMEONE LIKE YOU PRAYING FOR ME” response).  All this while my son was with me.  We marched back to our truck, and I did the adult thing: called the police.
I am sure this Jerkface saw yet another yoga pants-wearing mom chasing her toddler around the park, and thought that we were inconveniencing him.  How dare we set foot in his dogs’ toilet, right?
I have learned that just because someone is older, and seemingly of grandparent age, it does not necessarily mean that they are a nice grandparent-type person.  For all I know, Jerkface doesn’t even have grandkids.  Or maybe he does, and they’re ALL asshats.  It’s entirely possible that the asshat gene is easily transmitted through many, many generations.  It would explain a great number of moments in history.
Later that afternoon, we headed down to Miles’ preschool for his Open House/Ice Cream Social (because all toddlers and preschoolers need ice cream, duh).  And of course, because the park is on the way, I forced Evan to slowly cruise the neighborhood just so I could catch Jerkface McPoops walking his dogs off leash.  Because if there’s any lesson I want to impart on my children, it’s the importance of being not only a good parent, but also a vengeful parent.  He wasn’t out and about, but I’ve got his number.  Oh yes, I do.  I also have a litterbox at home that I’d like to leave on his front porch, but I’ll save that for the holidays.
Open House was awesome, and only made awesomer by the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream cart.  Miles has only had frozen yogurt – once – and he was not impressed.  I remember thinking to myself, “Look at me, healthy mom, my child is eating broccoli and spitting out frozen yogurt! Go me!”  Fast forward a few months, and I decide he can try my Ben & Jerry’s.  When I say “try it”, I mean have a bite.  When Miles agrees to “try it”, he means eat all of the ice cream ever created in the history of time and space.  Ben & Jerry’s Milk and Cookies is his fave.  Go me!
Ice cream over asshats ALL DAY,