Saturday, February 21, 2015

PSA Warns Against Using Overly Popular Baby Names

This fake PSA from the Nickmom site addresses the topic of overused baby names.

I like the reveal at the end about the 40-year-old Jennifers, but I'm not sure this is really that big an issue in 2015.

As baby-name watchers know, names are far more widely distributed today than they were in previous decades. There will probably never be another Jennifer (a name that is so utterly dominant in every state for 15 years).

That said, we have encountered quite a few Sophias and Jacks in our social circle. And Lucy is surprisingly popular in the neighborhood. Another Lucy recently joined Elliot's class, bringing the total number we know to at least four or five.

We hardly know any Olivias, though, which shows you that's it's all a crapshoot. It's probably best to pick a baby name you like and not worry about what the crowd will do.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Is This the Best Brand Name for a Stroller?

Our previous stroller came apart at the seams — apparently because someone (me) didn't respect the clearly stated weight limits. (Putting all three kids in at once is a no-no.)

So now we have a new stroller, and we're quite happy with it. But I wonder about the brand name: Joovy.

Kelly did extensive online research, and it's a well-respected name. I just think that a product you literally lock your children inside probably shouldn't sound like "juvey."

(As I was working on this post, autocorrect repeatedly tried to change "joovy" to "joint." I can't tell if that's an error or an extremely perceptive move.)

It doesn't help that our stroller is prison-jumpsuit orange.

Then again, when the kids start acting up, solitary confinement starts to sound very attractive. (Either for them or me,)

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Cities Visited: 2014 Edition

I'm more than a month late with this, but it's become a tradition to list the cities I've visited in each year — part of a competition with fellow blogger Anh-Minh (in a sign that I'm winning, she also appears to have forgotten to do it).

Boston's Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge.

One thing that's useful about this exercise: It really forces you to work your memory. You'd be surprised, but it's actually hard to remember all the places you've been in a given year. (And I'm not even counting the towns I passed through; the rule is you can't list a city unless you've slept overnight in it.)

I used to rely on Google Calendar to help me remember, but now the most effective tool is Instagram. After all, I'm basically incapable of visiting another city without taking a bunch of pictures of it.

Anyway, here's the list:
1. Chicago
2. Santa Cruz, Calif.
3. Marietta, Ga.
4. Newnan, Ga.
5. Boxboro, Mass.
6. Northeast Harbor, Maine
7. Scituate, Mass.
8. Philadelphia

Not too bad a number. That's an above-average tally for me in recent years. (Let's face it: Once you have three kids, you become an immobile blob.)

But my 2015 hasn't been much of a whirlwind so far. I haven't left the borough of Manhattan once! I should probably at least run an errand in Queens or something.

Friday, February 06, 2015

'I'll Be Back...' to Destroying the Golden Gate Bridge

One of this blog's favorite topics is the perpetual destruction of the Golden Gate Bridge by Hollywood movies. Well, it appears the span suffers a fresh assault in the new Terminator film.

I'm not sure I entirely get the plot of the new picture, "Terminator Genesis," but it appears the robot played Arnold Schwarzenegger comes back as an older version of himself. (I guess if they never bothered explaining why robots have Austrian accents, there's no need to address the aging thing either.)

Loyal readers know that I've long wondered why the Bay Bridge doesn't get the same attention as the Golden Gate. So I was heartened by last year's publicity campaign for "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes," which showed the Bay Bridge being menaced.

Well, after recently watching the movie, I'm sad to report that the Bay Bridge is nowhere to be seen. Once again, it's all about the Golden Gate.

Talk about false advertising.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Hooray for Dad Ads!

If you watched the Super Bowl, you couldn't help but see the plethora of dad ads, or as I call them "d(ads)."

There was this Toyota commercial about a father who raises his daughter to be a solider...

This one, also for Toyota, about the father of Amy Purdy, the Paralympic snowboarder...

A Nissan commercial where the Nascar dad appears to neglect his son and turn him into a sullen teen (but I guess everything's OK in the end?)...

And this crazy-sweet commercial for Dove...

The message: Dads rules and moms drool (or at least get taken for granted).

I will happily bask in this glory — though I do worry a dad was responsible for the Nationwide's kid untimely death.

This shoddily assembled television stand has "dad handiwork" written all over it.

I actually doubt flat-panel TVs kill many children (old CRTs appear to be the real danger). But the Nationwide ad did make a valuable point during all the dad love.

You can drive Nascar and go to father-daughter dances all you want, but keeping the child safe is dad's No. 1 job. Point taken.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

What Are the Greatest Names in the NFL?

After exploring baseball-inspired baby names for Nameberry in October, I took a look at NFL names in my latest post. There are nearly 1,700 active players in the league, so it took a while to comb through the data. But man, there are some truly amazing picks in there.

I've always thought there was a certain formula to a great NFL name, which I describe in the piece:
  • An unusual, multisyllabic first name 
  • A shorter surname that’s ideally a common name or word 
  • A mixture of panache and gravitas
Some of my all-time favorites that fit these guidelines: Orlando Pace, Cornelius Bennett and Plaxico Burress. (Plaxico, whose appellation means peaceful, might not have helped the name by shooting himself in the leg during a nightclub incident.). . .  
Among current players, the prime examples include Orlando Franklin, Marqueston “Quest” Huff, Solomon Patton and Charcandrick West.
Other standouts, which maybe don't quite fit my rules: Barkevious Mingo, D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

The column is called "The Super Bowl of Football Names," but I don't really declare a victor. One name that appears to be "losing," however, is Marshawn.

Despite the on-field heroics of Marshawn Lynch, fewer babies are being called Marshawn today than when he started his NFL career in 2007.

I also was surprised to discover how many players are named Larry:
There are seven Larrys, plus four Lawrences (who could become Larrys at any moment).
You can read the entire column here.

How useful is all this for soon-to-be parents trying to choose a name? Hard to say. But if I cause even one to consider "Butkus," I feel like I'll have made a difference.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

This Handy Quiz Shows If You Should Have Three Kids

I came across this quiz on the Scary Mommy blog that tells you if you're cut out to have three children. It's a bit late for us, but I figured I should know if we made the right choice.

So here goes...

1. You like sleep deprivation.

 No, but I can probably tolerate it better than some.

2. You have an industrial sized washing machine.

Uh-oh, we don't have a washing machine at all.

3. You have an enormous car.

How about no car whatsoever?

4. You like noise.

Not especially?

5. You like being with your partner ALL of the time.

When I'm not at work?

6. You like your partner.

Yes! Nailed one. Maybe I can turn this quiz arou--

7. Your family lives nearby.

Er. They have to get into an airplane to see us, so probably a "no" here.

8. You’re agoraphobic and antisocial.

I'm just going to start saying "yes" to put a few in the win column.

9. You don’t need time for yourself.

Aside from when I lock myself in the bathroom and ignore the screams?

10. You have a full time nanny, cleaner and chauffeur. 

No, but I don't think I was supposed to get this one right.

11. You have no expectations whatsoever. Of anything ever again.

I can live with this one. I declare victory!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Similac Ad Recreates 'Battleship Potemkin' Scene

This touching commercial for Similac baby formula has a message for mothers: Can we all just get along?

It also recreates the famous baby-carriage scene from "Battleship Potemkin."

You may recognize it from "The Untouchables," which was paying homage to "Potemkin."

Fortunately, the Similac ad has considerably less bloodshed.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Is It Really That Hard to Have a Baby in Manhattan?

New York Post writer Mackenzie Dawson is catching flak for a story saying you're a terrible parent if you raise your baby in Manhattan.
“New York, New York, it’s a helluva town for babies,” said no one ever in the history of New Amsterdam, which is why my husband and I packed up our bags and moved to Westchester when our son was 5 months old. . . . I maintain that while Manhattan is one of the most fantastic places on Earth in general, it is also one of the worst, most annoying places ever for children under the age of 2.
She decries the public transit, the "manic energy," the competition and the fact that someone is always walking behind you (and wishing you'd go faster).

First of all, how does a woman of child-bearing age have the first name Mackenzie? Based on the Social Security database, that's a 12-year-old's name. Her parents must have been way ahead of the curve. (Mackenzie Phillips is in her 50s, but Mackenzie was actually her middle name.) Anyway, I digress...

Dawson makes some valid points, but in many ways the city is better for kids under 2. When babies are small, you can tote them everywhere in a Baby Bjorn and they sleep much of the time — even if you stop for a meal at a bustling restaurant. That's not possible when they get older.

When we lived in the hardscrabble alleyways of SoMa, we had a great time with Elliot as a baby. By the time he got past age 2, we felt like we needed to move. Mostly, it was because another baby was coming and our apartment was getting cramped. But it didn't help that Elliot began asking questions about the random man pleasuring himself at the bus stop. (Infants don't notice these things!)

Now we live in Manhattan, and since our third child was born in the borough, I feel like I have some authority on the topic of raising a baby here. (Yes, we live on Roosevelt Island — aka "Little Manhattan" — but just bear with me.)

Dawson is right about the transit. When you have to push a stroller around the city, you basically become a disabled person. You have to study the MTA maps to see which stations have the little wheelchairs next to them (denoting an elevator in the station).

Guess what? Not many of them do.

She also complains that you can't take a cab because it means lugging around a child seat. Here, she's a little off-base. In an exemption to safety rules, the law permits you to take your baby in a taxi without a special car seat. (Now, one could argue that no competent parent would do this, but it's well within your legal rights.)

As for your living situation: I think you really have to live in an elevator building to make Manhattan work. Hauling kids and/or a stroller up and down the steps of a walk-up doesn't seem feasible, and there aren't a whole lot of other options.

But again, raising kids in the city seems to get harder when they reach a certain age.

Lugging a stroller around is bad, but having them walk on their own is far, far worse. You have to constantly goad, cajole and scream at them or they'll stop every three feet to pick up something disgusting off the ground.

This is not something suburban families need to worry about. They just strap the kids into the car and go.

Does that mean I'd like to move out of the city? Not in the foreseeable future. But I also don't think Manhattan is anti-baby. I just think it's anti-crybaby.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Lucy vs. the Water Fountain

Lucy learns that water fountains are good for drinking water but not for touching it.

This would be less amusing in a drought-ravaged state, by the way. Do not attempt in California.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

When Children Escape From Their Cribs

When Elliot was a baby, he would continually escape from his crib. In fact, he would try to escape from nearly everything: baby gates, sleep sacks...gravity. He once climbed to the highest point of the couch and leaped into space — only to crash headfirst into the tile floor below. (Is it any wonder the doctors had to do so many back-of-the-leg tests back then?)

We were living in a quirky San Francisco home, which had about as much space as our current apartment but spread over four levels. Elliot would escape from his crib on the fourth floor and climb down the stairs, leaping over any obstacles, to our bedroom on the second level. He was always delighted with himself. We were terrified.

This is something every parent experiences sooner or later: My God, I can't contain this monster.

(He also had a knack for finding electrical cords and chewing on them.)

Fortunately, Alice was nothing like that. She is spirited in her own way, sure, but Alice never once tried to get out of her crib. And she generally seemed to have a better sense of self-preservation. In fact, she pleaded to be put back in her crib long after she graduated to a toddler bed.

I assumed that girls were just a bit more cautious — and wiser — than boys.

That may be true, but now we have Lucy and she is a crib escaper — just like her brother. That means we're going to have to get her a toddler bed. (I suggested putting one of those tent things on top of the crib, but apparently they're dangerous.)

It also means I probably shouldn't generalize about gender.

The BoingBoing site recently put together a compilation of babies getting out of their cribs. It does look like the perpetrators skew a bit toward males, but being a twin seems like a far more serious indicator that there's going to be trouble.