Picking the Name(s)!

Hello-my-name-is-351-x-234

I think one of the most exciting parts of learning you’re expecting is the realization that you get to pick a name for the little guy/girl.  The entire universe of baby names is yours to choose from, and it’s fun to think about the endless possibilities.  Then the realization starts to sink in that whatever name you choose, your child is going to carry with them for their entire lives.  You realize that the name you select for your child can impact the way the world sees them and the way they interact with the world.  And finally, you realize that the name you select is going to say a lot about you as a person and a parent.  It’s going to be a signal to everyone about what you as a parent care about and what you want in and for your child.

I don’t really love the Freakeconomics trend in economics, but the chapter on baby names from the original book has stuck with me. Economists Stephen Levitt and Stephen Dubner try to disentangle the impact names can have on the future of the child.  I don’t remember the exact details of the original text other than they find a family with children named “Winner” and “Loser.”  In the book, Winner becomes a loser and Loser becomes a successful member of the NYPD (disclaimer, this may not be a 100% accurate representation of original, but that’s the general idea).  When I was looking for a copy of that story I found this brief paper discussing the class association with different names. Similarly, this short article lays out some problems with current name trends, and how ridiculous the spellings are becoming (warning: a bit crude).

baby-name-surprised

 

And these issues matter to us as parents.  Speaking for myself, I feel an overwhelming sense of responsibility to select a name that my child won’t resent me for, that people won’t make fun of them about (although I am convinced young children can find reason to make fun of any name), while still giving them their own identity.  So when Michelle and I found out we were expecting we started a short list of names, a couple for boys and a couple for girls.

AND THEN WE FOUND OUT WE WERE HAVING TWINS!   Oh boy, talk about a double heaping of responsibility. It was tough for me to keep thinking about names when we didn’t know genders and had to potentially come up with two girls names, two boys names, or one of each.  So we took a brief break.  But now that we know we know we are expecting girls, we are back on the Name Game Train.  A couple of considerations that were important to me personally:

  • My initials are D.D.D, and everyone in my immediate family’s name starts with a D.  Unfortunately, Michelle ruined this fun trend so this isn’t a consideration.  That said, it was kind of fun and something that ties our family together might be cute.
  • We would like to avoid a name from the top 10 most popular lists.  Not because I have a problem with the names in and of themselves, but because I always found it tedious when I was in a class or camp with a bunch of people by the same name.  This always led to nicknames, at which point you should have just given your kid the nickname instead of their real name.
  • We also want to avoid a super uncommon/unique name.  Again, not that I have any real problem with unique names and spellings, but I would like to pick a name common enough that teachers, new acquaintances, and their future boss don’t have trouble puzzling out how to pronounce it. Nothing more stressful than being a teacher on the first day of class trying to figure out how to pronounce a child’s name correctly.
  • We would like to incorporate some homage to our families. Especially Michelle’s since she took my last name. And since my Mom is gone, it would be nice to do something to honor her as well. With twins we have a better chance of doing so for both sides!
  • We would like the first name, middle name, and last name to sound good together.  Of course this is mostly subjective and a matter of repetition, but the way names look and sound as a whole is something we are definitely considering.
  • We would like to avoid cultural appropriationA lot has been written about this. While I find it a bit silly, especially in the US where we pride ourselves on multiculturalism, I think it wouldn’t be kind to our future children to stick them with a name that’s usually associated with a cultural group of which they are not a member.

Other than that, we just wanted names we LIKED.  That still leaves a huge list of names left to explore.  Michelle purchased The Baby Name Wizard book as a starting point. I relied on web searches and eventually landed on the Social Security Administrations list of popular names.  This website is awesome because it allows you to search by year, decade, and state.  It also allows you to track the popularity of a name over time.  I found myself looking for names ranked between 50-150 for recent popularity, as I felt this range is where you’re not going to wind up with three children with the same name in every class, but also they will be common enough the teacher won’t struggle to pronounce it.

We have come up with a short list of names that we really like. We are currently trying them out over the next few weeks to make sure they work for us.  However, we won’t be sharing them yet, and might not until they actually arrive.  As all parents eventually realize, EVERYONE has an opinion on names.  For now, the only opinions that matter to us are our own, so we will try to avoid sharing to avoid the criticisms and “helpful suggestions” that inevitably follow.

 

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Crockpot Chicken Corn Chowder

Since Seattle is experiencing a cold front, and my OB told me to bulk up, this seems like the perfect time to make Chicken Corn Chowder. With creamed corn, butter, and half and half, this is not a “light” recipe. However, my mom always makes it with milk instead of half and half to cut down on the calories. Derek likes the chowder to be thick, so powdered milk (prepared with half the water), is another good option. FYI, I have noticed that the chowder is always thicker when we eat it as leftovers. Something about being in the fridge. As this is Derek’s favorite crockpot recipe, I always double it. It just barely fits in the crockpot! This time I put a fourth in the freezer, as I am starting to stockpile meals for when the babies arrive!

Prep Time: 20-30 minutes

Feeds: 6 people. Yields about 9 cups.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb. chicken
  • 4 oz.  chopped green chiles
  • 16-21 ounces can creamed corn
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 chicken bullion cubes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 2 cups half and half (save for the end)
  • 2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese (save for the end)

Add all of your ingredients to the crockpot, except for the half and half and shredded cheese. I throw my chicken in frozen, straight from the freezer. I have noticed that the chicken doesn’t get as tender if you do this and try to cook on high for only 4ish hours. Your choice on the mild or hot can of chiles. I usually use the hot, but I have had trouble finding it in Seattle. Also, because I am lazy and feel like when I buy them fresh, they go bad before I use them, I tend to use garlic powder and dried onion. Finally, we use Sriracha at my house, but feel free to use whatever type of hot sauce is in your pantry.

corn chowder pre-cook

Stir it all together and turn the crockpot on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-6 hours. Like I said, my preference is longer on low, as I use frozen chicken. You may notice that my pre-cooked chowder does’t look very liquidy, but if you notice the after picture, the chicken has a lot of liquid, so it looks more like a soup after.

Corn Chowder pre-cook

For the last 20 minutes of cooking, add the half and half (or milk if you prefer) and cheese to the crockpot and give it a stir. This is not an exact science, it is just to give the soup some time to thicken up. I usually use forks to pull apart the chicken before adding the half and half and cheese, but you could chop your pre-cooked or wait until the last 20 minutes of cook time is up.

corn chowder post-add ons

Anatomy Ultrasound

Today was our anatomy ultrasound, where the doctor looks at all of the organs and bone structures. It is also the much anticipated gender reveal! Both babies have good looking internal organs (including 140 heart rates) and bones. They are each 12 ounces, which was positive because one baby isn’t growing faster than the other, and they are in the acceptable weight range.

20 wk ultrasound - twin A20 wk ultasound - twin B

Something the doctor said we need to watch is that both babies have marginal cord insertion. This means that the umbilical cord is attached to the edge of the placenta and not the “meaty part” (as my doc very scientifically said) of the placenta. The concern is that this may cause the babies to get less nutrients than they need. About 7% of singleton pregnancies have this and about 25% of twin pregnancies. While my doctor is not super worried right now, it is something she will continue to monitor throughout my pregnancy (we already have ultrasounds about once a month anyway!). She said as long as the babies continue growing well, have good heart rates, and are active, we are good to go! If this doesn’t continue to be the case, then they will induce to get the little ones the nutrients on the outside that they weren’t getting enough of on the inside.

Overall they are currently around the 40th percentile for growth to this point.  That may seem low, but that percentile includes singleton pregnancies as well.  The doctor mentioned that they don’t have any concern until that falls into the 10th percentile, and really there is no danger to the babies unless the are in the 3rd percentile or lower.  So all things considered, they are growing just like we want!

Finally, the doctor said that I haven’t gained enough weight – only 6 pounds. Unfortunately, I think I lost weight when I wasn’t feeling well during the first trimester. So, I have some catching up to do. She said I should feel free to have 2 desserts. So… the moment you have all been waiting for… Here I am with my 2 (PINK) desserts.

2 girls.jpg

That’s right, my gut reaction has been correct all along. We are having twin girls! Derek better be prepared to have his nails painted, play house and dress up, and attend ballet recitals! We are so excited to have an overall positive anatomy scan and can’t wait until we get to meet our little girls in a few months!

20 Week Baby Bump


I feel like the babies are really making some progress! The past few weeks It seems like my bump has visibly grown week by week. Our little ones are now the size of a small cantaloupe, pomegranate, or mango (about 6.5 inches), and they have more than doubled in weight (10 ounces now!). We have been counting down to the 20 week mark because we finally have the anatomy ultrasound and find out the genders! This is also an exciting month because we should be able to start feeling the babies moving around!

Grandma’s Notre Dame Baked Beans

Every fall from almost birth until I was in my early 20s, my family made the annual pilgrimage to Notre Dame for a football game. We would stay at my Aunt Margaret’s house, and as the sun rose on Saturday morning, a few of us would climb in the motor home and drive to the tailgate lot to stake out our usual spot. Grandma would always have made enough food to feed the army that would stop by the tailgate for a few minutes or hours before and after the game. There were always coffee cakes, sandwiches, cookies, cheesecake, lemon bars, chips and dip, etc. The two foods that I would always make sure to eat, though, were Grandma’s Notre Dame Baked Beans and Grandma’s Notre Dame Chili.

I guess with 2 babies due in the fall, and knowing that we won’t make it out for a game, I was feeling a little nostalgic. Hey the Spring game was only a few weeks ago, so it’s basically football season! Grandma’s baked beans are super sweet, and it fills the entire crockpot. Trying to get grandma to give me the recipe was like pulling teeth, as she has been making it forever and doesn’t measure.

Prep Time: 20-30 min.

Feeds: 1 extra large tailgate or 2 people (+2 really little people) with 3/4 for the freezer. Yields about 16 cups!

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of each:Cans for Chili.JPG
    • lima beans, drained
    • kidney beans, drained
    • white beans, drained
    • butter beans (white/cream colored bean similar to a lima bean), drained
    • couple different types baked beans
    • chili beans
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can diced tomatoes w chilies
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup yellow mustard
  • 1 lb. cooked bacon, chopped
  • chopped onion opt.
  • bbq sauce opt.

I often can’t find canned butter beans at the store, so I substituted cannellini beans. Basically, you are getting 1 of every type of canned bean on the shelf, plus a few baked beans. Drain all cans except the chili and baked beans, and add to the crockpot.

Pretty beans

(Clockwise: baked beans, white beans, chili beans, baked beans, cannellini beans. Deep red beans in center: kidney beans.)

Pour both types of diced tomatoes into the crockpot. I leave them in the juice for the flavor, but if you want a thicker chili, you can drain them.

Add 1 cup brown sugar. Remember this is a sweet chili, so if you want it a little less sweet, you can leave this out. Believe me there is already plenty of sugar in your baked and chili beans.

Even if you don’t like mustard, add the mustard. You can’t taste mustard individually, and you need the vinegar in it to balance out the sweetness.

Pile on the cooked and chopped bacon. If you want to make your life easier, use pre-cooked bacon. I bought 4 pounds at Sam’s for a decent price, and the rest will go in the freezer for sandwiches and such. (Thank you, Papa, for my love of bacon!) Again, to make life easier, I cut the pieces with kitchen scissors, instead of chopping with a knife.

Finally, if you so desire, add chopped onion and barbecue sauce.

Stir it all together and turn the crockpot on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4-6 hours. Grandma claims that you should stir it every few hours. I don’t, as that goes against all rules of crockpot cooking, and it is usually cooking while I am at work, but what do I know? If you like, serve with shredded cheese and crumbled saltines or oyster crackers.

Chili

Don’t Heat the House (Healthier) Chicken Salad

It has been hot in Seattle recently (broke records in April and May!), and we don’t have air conditioning. I went looking through my recipes for something that didn’t involve the oven, stove, or crockpot. I came across my Healthier Chicken Salad Recipe that even Derek, who doesn’t like chicken salad because of the mayo base, likes! I love that you can create so many variations of this recipe, which it also makes it easier to use whatever you have on hand. See some of my suggestions below!

 

Prep Time: 20-30 min.

Feeds: 4-6 people. Yields about 8 cups.

Ingredients:

  • 1 rotisserie chicken or 4 cups of cooked chicken, pulled
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (you can use dried cherries, Dad!)
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped (I leave this out because Derek isn’t a fan)
  • 1 cup toasted pecans, chopped (toasted walnuts and toasted almonds are other yummy options)
  • 1 cup halved grapes (try chopped apples for more of a crunch)

Spread a single layer of pecans on your baking sheet, and Chopped chicken.JPGtoast at 350°F for about 5-10 minutes, stirring throughout. They are finished when they are golden brown and aromatic. Chop pecans (not too fine, as you want that crunch!). This is a handy job for my food chopper, and a fun job for kids.

Pull or chop chicken into bite size pieces. Feel free to use your food processor to help with the chopping! I was tired after getting home from work, so my pieces are a little bit bigger than normal. I used a rotisserie chicken, so I wouldn’t have to heat the house cooking chicken. Grilled chicken is also a delicious option.

Stir together pulled chicken, dried cranberries, celery (optional), chopped and toasted pecans, and halved grapes until evenly mixed. Set aside.

 

 

Dressing Ingredients:Dressing.JPG

  • 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper

Whisk (or stir) all ingredients until well blended. Feel free to play with the amount of honey, salt, and pepper, so it suits your tastes.Chicken salad

Add dressing to chicken mix. I recommend adding
parts of dressing at a time to reach your desired chicken to dressing ratio. I know my mom always prefers less dressing, while my grandma prefers more!

 

You decide – is it a meal or an appetizer? Serve your chicken salad with crackers, such as Wheat Thins. Stuff it in a pita or between slices of bread. Otherwise, chicken salad works great on a bed of lettuce. Butter lettuce makes great little cups in you want to eat with your fingers.