Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What's in a Name?

First off:  no, no. I'm not pregnant. (Start talking about babies and names and people start to wonder...)  Rather, several unusual names have come across my path this past week and it's led me to remember what it was like to name a baby:  such an exciting hunt but such a big responsibility. 

If you read my old iWeb blog you probably recall my post in which I shared the process through which I considered names for my unborn child. My baby was born a girl, so the decision to drop Emerson as one of our boy names ended up a moot point. But our ultimate choice of Uli has since been a conversation starter ever since her 3rd day of life (had to get to know her a little bit before the decision was final). 

Of course, so far the conversations about her name have primarily been with medical staff (the staff often mispronounce Uli as yōō' lē rather than  ōō' lē. I tell them: Think of Uma Thurman. Same sound, Uma/Uli.). But someday there'll be teachers, classmates, and employers. I expect she may need to correct the prounounciation all her life (sorry, baby!) and possibly also correct for her sex (Uli is most commonly a nickname of the male name Ulrich. It's also a nickname for the female Ulrika but seems like people familiar with Germanic/Swedish names aren't as familiar with that). I personally have had many a person think I was a boy because of my name, and post-grammar school I haven't minded, so I'm not overly concerned about that on her behalf. I do, however, worry about the pronunciation. It might get really annoying for her. 

But here's the name that got my fingers typing up this post:  Marijuana Pepsi (Jackson) Sawyer. No mispronouncing that one. Yup, that's the name her mother gave her. She's a Wisconsin woman who has succeeded in life despite a rather difficult childhood (exacerbated at times by her unusual first and middle names). Her naming situation reminds me of that Johnny Cash song, A Boy Named Sue except Marijuana has made such peace with her name that she refuses to answer to Mary or Mary-Jane. Good for her! (I think.)

I was out to find an unusual but simple name for my child. And I think I did so. I hope it serves her well, whether she develops into an artist, a professor, a scientist, or a film star. She's a girl named Uli. It's no Sue. It's definitely not Marijuana Pepsi. She could have been any number of names, but my husband and I chose the one name that felt perfect for her. And, seventeen months later, I still love it and believe it suites her perfectly. I hope she feels the same as she grows.

Anyone else want to share their children's names and/or why they chose them? 

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Whatcha Readin' Wednesday: 1-2-3

Judging books by their covers? Not cool. Usually. But a few weeks ago my husband grabbed a library book off the shelf because its fun bright cover design. I now consider it one of his most astute choices ever.  

1 2 3: A Child's First Counting Book
written and illustrated by Alison Jay

I am a word-lover. I know that illustrations can be important to and accentuate a story but even with children's literature I generally I look for and value interesting word play far more than I do pictorial representation (see my last Whatcha Readin' review: though visually that book is perfectly adorable, I nevertheless read and adore it because of its poetry, not its pictures).

But Alison Jay's counting book? Oh. My. Goodness.

If you can count to ten this book's words will not shock, inspire, nor teach you a thing. (1, 2, 3, 4... nothing new there.) It's worth a read, though, for the PICTURES.

This is how much I like this book: Uli will be napping and I'll be thinking about what grown-up things I can do while she's down. But then, rather than drinking some coffee, going potty by myself, slamming a shot of whiskey or getting a tattoo I instead pick up 1 2 3 and pour over each picture.

I find myself smiling at the beautiful details on each page and wishing I were the little girl in the illustrations, flitting from one fairy tale to another (starting at 1-10 and then back down from 10-1).

To spazz out like me and drool over this book as I am, you'll likely need to be familiar with typical European fairy tales (the Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks, the Princess & the Pea, etc.) but even someone unfamiliar with the stories will appreciate how Jay introduces carefully into the pictures, adding an object or character in the background of one picture then focusing on it in the next. It's so much fun to see the tales blending into one another, each part of the same exciting (and beautiful...seriously beautiful!) landscape.
I'm debating whether or not we should buy a copy for our home or just re-check and re-check it out from the public library. Free is a good price for us right now, but what if now everyone rushes out and puts it on hold?

I think I'm going to ask my friend Amazon to send me my our own private copy... (You should consider doing so too!)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Mid-March Moment

March is a tomboy with tousled hair, a mischievous smile, 
mud on her shoes and a laugh in her voice.

 -  Hal Borland

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Through Green-Tinted Glasses: An Accidentally Earth-Friendly Childhood

Welcome to the March Carnival of Natural Parenting: Vintage green!
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month we're writing about being green — both how green we were when we were young and how green our kids are today. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants

My childhood has never stricken me as particularly green. Surrounded by verge, yes (I lived in the Pacific Northwest).  But Green as in Earth Conscience? Like the spotted-owl advocates? Nope. That wasn't my family's mission. However, for the purposes of this month’s natural parenting carnival, I've taken a contemplative nature hike down memory lane. And lo and behold:  you don’t even have to squint that much before you can indeed see the Green.

We weren't green in the solar panels, low VOC paint, free range eggs sort of way. We were green in a more traditional way. The way called Being Poor. When I showed up at birthday parties proffering small gifts wrapped in Sunday's funny papers it wasn't because I was being taught to reuse/recycle but because wrapping paper was a luxury we couldn't afford. I wore hand-me-downs, not because we were boycotting sweatshops but because they [kind of] fit and they were free. My toys came from garage sales, my books from the library. I did homework compositions on the backside of discarded dot-matrix printer paper my father would bring home from his office. Nowadays you can live like a queen while being green. But back when I was little we weren't trying to live it up, we were scraping on by. And though saving the environment may not have been our motivation, we were nevertheless being conservative with our limited resources and taking up a smaller footprint than other American families at the time.
I remember my mother regaling us with stories of my parents' first (and at that time: only) trip to Hawaii. The sun, the surf and, the part that affected us children the most, the food. She told us that it was there, in the lap of Pacific Island splendor, that she was first introduced to a decadent, exotic concoction:  chili served atop a bed of rice. A recipe she often recreated for us.  I may not have always been thrilled with a[nother] dinner of beans and rice, but I did enjoy the idea I was being served cuisine relished by the king and queen of Hawaii. It never once occurred to me that we were eating the dish not because my mother was training us to live as Hawaiian royalty but because beans and rice are an inexpensive, healthy meal (low on the food chain).  

I don't recall questioning why, rather than purchasing Kleenex, we young children were provided with "snoot rags" (old, thin cloth diapers). At the time it just kind of made sense. You'd use the snoot rag as you would an oversized handkerchief (this was back in the day when children still knew what a handkerchief was) blowing into and using up each section carefully until it could absorb no more, and then you'd toss it in the wash pile and get yourself a clean rag. Perfect sense. 

Even my family's reluctance to purchase over the counter medicine, though surely motivated by an empty pocketbook, ends up cast in a green light when you consider the alternatives we tried before taking a trip to the pharmacy. When we had colds we were encouraged to gargle with salt water (hated that!), sleep with a humidifier (comforting) and to drink hot water with lemon and honey (a treat!). As I remember it, it was only after that regimen that, if still ill, we were dosed with Robitussin. I have no doubt my body's immune system is better for it. 

Reconsidering my childhood through the lens of conservation and cleverness rather than of poverty, I find new inspiration. I can't do all my family's shopping at Whole Foods, but I can show my daughter how to plant and grow [at least some of] our own organic produce.  And if we cannot buy a hybrid vehicle so be it;  but let's maintain the cars we already have so they'll last. It's simple, the idea to reduce, recycle, reuse. But I'd kind of forgotten it, sitting in the shadow of the Buy Green message that's so prevalent nowadays. . . But I'm encouraged. If my childhood could be so green without even trying (indeed, without me even noticing!) then surely raising my daughter to be environmentally conscious won't be as difficult as I've feared.

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Crunchier Day by Day: Homemade Deodorant

Call me crazy (and some of you will, I know) but I think I just might be on to something here. I've just made my first batch of homemade deodorant. 

A big thank you to Lindsay at www.PassionateHomemaking.com for inspiring/educating me via this post of hers (watch her video. She seems very nice and watching her make the recipe helps you wrap your mind around the concept of making your own product). 

And... I know, I know. I've scoffed too. This is not the first time I've heard about people making their own deodorant. I've always thought "crazy wingnuts!" and let my prejudice/reliance on commercial products take over from there. But this time (again, her video is so cute!) I decided to make a go of it. Cornstarch and baking soda I already had. The jar of organic coconut oil cost me $6 and I used less than 1/4 of the jar for what may be 3 months (?) worth of product.  

Admittedly, I've been using less that a week--and it's only 30 degrees outside--but I think this stuff just might work!  Natural, inexpensive, and a fabulous conversation starter. ;-)

Don't knock it 'til you've tried it. 
Or until you smell me. 
(Please tell me if you smell me! Or... don't. I'm happy not knowing, I guess.)

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