Catholic School Back To School Shopping: Myths vs. Realities

Ah, Back-To-School Shopping : such a gentle, consumeristic way to get over the end of summer vacation. However, as two life-long Catholic school students, our experience wasn’t everything the Staples and J.C. Penney commercials led us to believe. I’m watching the cycle all over again with my nieces and nephews – the public schoolers getting cute new outfits and the Catholic school kids getting their first necktie at age 5. [Find me something cuter than a kindergartener in business casual.] In honor of our ’90s and ’00s memories, here is a study in the contrasts between back to school shopping for Catholic schoolers and, if not real public school students, at least the too-cool public schoolers we saw on TV.

Clothing

File under: My childhood as a walking Irish Catholic stereotype.

Expectation: I’m going back to school with a new wardrobe that will mark me as one of the cool kids!

Reality: I am wearing the same plaid jumper from the same Plaid Jumper Store as all of my classmates. Somehow, kids manage to sort themselves into Cool and Uncool anyway.

[Note: there is a 50/50 chance your uniform is a hand-me-down, or your mom bought it at the used uniform sale your school holds at the end of the school year.]

Expectation: At least maybe some fun, cute outfits for after school!

Reality: Those are called “play clothes” and they don’t come from the store, they come from a trash bag your aunt drops off every time your next cousin up has a growth spurt.

[Note: I realize there are Catholics without cousins but I’ve never met one.]

Accessories

Expectation: And don’t forget the accessories!

Reality: … Which are knee socks, a navy blue cardigan, and a shirt with a Peter Pan collar during that five-decade range after Peter Pan collars went out of style in the ’60s and before they came back in style on Zooey Deschanel.

If you’re fancy, please add a headband in the same plaid as your uniform.

Jewelry

Expectation: Wearing some jewelry, I guess.

Reality: Bracelets are not allowed. Non-post earrings are not allowed. Necklaces are a pendant on a thin chain. If you want to consider rosaries jewelry (“WHICH THEY ARE NOT” – every Catholic reading this post, before I could even say it, right?), you can have those. But you cannot wear them, for Pete’s sake.

School Supplies

Expectation: Lisa Frank binders! Lisa Frank notebooks! Lisa The Frickin FRANK IT ALL UP.

Reality: There is a specific, solid color that every subject uses. Does The Vatican secretly operate the Mead company?

Expectation: Don’t forget a trapper keeper to stay organized!

Reality: Trapper Keepers strictly verboten.

Hair

Expectation: It would be so much fun to try a bright color or a crazy new ‘do to show people how much I’ve changed over the summer!

Reality: “No extreme hairstyles” – Catholic School Student Manual 29:11

Shoes

Expectation: I will narrow down the most in-style looks and then pick out some sneakers, a pair of cute shoes, and maybe something a little dressier.

Reality: Your uniform requires shoes that meet all of the following criteria: black or navy blue. No laces. No wedges. No mules. No sneaker soles. Heel must measure less than one inch at the highest point. No ballet flats.

You are left with orthopedic nun shoes.

[Note: If you’re really wondering how we sorted out the cool kids, their moms bought them cute shoes that skirted the Shoe Canon of the student handbook, whereas uncool-kid moms followed it to the letter. As to what camp I was in, let’s just say I still like a sturdy pair of Clarks.]

 

 

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ICYMI: That’s Not Even a Word!!

The fact that Alaia is one of the fastest rising baby names of 2015 just affirms we’re living in the 1990s again. And I guess I’m not totally mad about it?

The Fastest Rising Baby Names of 2015 (And Why Your Kid Will Hate Them In 2028)

They’re finally here: the top 1000 baby names of 2015 in the United States! What, you DON’T wait for this news all year? The standard caveats:

  • This is the official Social Security compilation of births registered in the US. Any of the US-based 2015 lists you saw before now were collected from baby name websites and were based on what the website users were naming their kids OR what names people were looking up, but not necessarily using.
  • When we talk about the “fastest rising names,” these are the ones that have made the biggest leap in the past year. Usually a few news outlets will treat the fastest rising names like they’re the most popular, even though they are given to comparatively few children. We didn’t work out the data ourselves: the lists came from the incredible Baby Names Blog.
  • I don’t dislike any of these names. Except for names like Adolph or Lucifer, or that don’t follow the rules of spelling or pronunciation in any language, I don’t think there are “bad names.”
  • Whether you give your kid a top 10 name or a name given to only 10 kids in the whole country, whether you pick a fastest rising name or a fastest falling name, there’s a good chance they’ll grow to hate it by age 13, because 13 year olds are the worst version of humanity.

We looked at 2013 and 2014, so now, let’s examine why your kid will hate today’s fastest rising baby names of 2015 by the time they’re 13 in 2028:

Girl Names

Adaline

If you think this type of name has been popular for a while now, you’re right. There’s the super-popular Addison and its many spelling variations. There’s Adalyn, spelled myriad ways. There’s also Adeline, which is basically the same thing as Adaline, just with an E. Plus Adalie (again, spellings abound) and my personal favorite of the Ad- names, Adelaide. The result: although only Addison appears near the top of the charts, taken in total it “adds” up to a whole lot of girls with similar-sounding names. So is your Adaline (lovely name, by the way!) going to grow up annoyed that, despite your careful choice of a name that isn’t too popular or too weird, she’s one of several Addies in her Brownie troop?

In a word, no. Your irrational 13-year-old Adaline will be annoyed when, after years of begging for an American Girl doll, she receives Addy because it has her name… when she really, truly had her heart set on Josefina. Nobody ever said tweens made sense. But also, just ask any millennial which American Girl doll she wanted but never got. She’ll remember.

Alaia

Alaia follows the recent trend of liquid, vowel-packed girl names: three syllables and only a single consonant in the pack. You might not know any Alaias, but you’ve probably run into an Amaya, Anaya, Ayana, Aliyah, Amara, Aria, Ariana, Aubriana, etc etc etc. So how could a little girl grow to hate a name that’s right on-trend? By entering the world of middle school, which can turn the sweetest child into a door-slamming teen who says things like “I didn’t ask to be born” when you deny her request for Abercrombie jeans (I’m predicting that in 2028, early 2000s fashion is back and so is distressed Abercrombie low-rise denim). When she and her friends begin watching Clueless at sleepovers, her nickname quickly becomes “A-what-a.” Hey, don’t say you didn’t see it coming when your custom Instagram hashtag for her as a baby was #ThisIsAnAlaia.

Aitana

Aitana, a name I’ve never heard before, is pretty. And like Alaia, it follows the starts in A, ends in A trend. Apparently it was used by a pair of Mexican actors in 2014 and comes from the Spanish mountain range Sierra de Aitana. There’s no GOOD reason to dislike such a perfectly nice name with a beautiful origin… but there’s a bad reason, and a 13 year old will find it. How were you to know your Aitana would have an early growth spurt and furiously demand to know “why you named me after a MOUNTAIN?”


Annddd then there are names that are so ridiculous you’re convinced the parents didn’t even think it through and picked a random word from the dictionary. Like Zooey Deschanel’s daughter Elsie OTTER? Otter. Ok.

Ten Words That Sound Like Celebrity Baby Names

A universe without absurd celebrity baby names would be like a universe without circus peanuts. Some people adore them, some people abhor them, but the world would be a little less sweet — yet fully operational — without them.

I have compiled a list of words that sound like celebrity baby names, because that’s just the kind of lady I am. Note that all of these were chosen based on sound and spelling, not meaning.

Update: As of June 2013, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West named their baby North West. Obviously, they’ve taken the “words that sound like celebrity baby names” thing to heart.

  • Rayon (Boy. It will go on to widespread use among commoners. After a few years, a celeb will use it on a girl to be “edgy.” The Internet will be divided about that.) [Ed. note: A not-so-secret secret here at C+S is that we write/queue our posts up to a month in advance. A few weeks after I wrote this, this post appeared: a (non-celeb) Rayon already exists in the UK! I don’t want you all to feel scammed, so I’m adding a bonus eleventh name at the end of the list.]
  • Peplum (Girl. The mother is quirky and British or French. They call her Peppy.)
  • Cavalry (Girl. She will be aptly and unfortunately horse-faced.)
  • Madrina (Girl. The mother will explain that she is “named after my godmother.”)
  • Loafer (Boy. The mom will refer to him as Lo in interviews (in which she never shuts up about him.))
  • Gradient (Boy. It will go on to mass appeal with parents who like Grady but want “something more formal.” These are the same people who name their boys Brentson and Troyton but only ever plan to call them Brent and Troy.)
  • Attaché (Girl. An aging rocker’s child with a much younger woman. They will insist on calling her Che, but she will become Attie once she’s old enough to have opinions.)
  • Avarice (Girl. Looks like Ava + Alice + Beatrice, all of which are already “in” these days. I bet someone somewhere has already done this.)
  • Aril (Unisex. Starts as a boy name but becomes a popular misspelling of Ariel. Aril and Lira become a trendy twin name duo.)
  • Carton (Boy. With Carter, Carson, and names ending in -on as popular as they are, I’m surprised and disappointed that nobody has done this yet.)
  • Answer (Unisex. The parents will already have a kid with a word name, like Ever or Story — believe it or not, there are already 2 celebrity babies with each of those names. Names starting with A are popular, and it starts with Ann, which is a name, so I don’t even think this is too off-base. The parents will have some cheesy explanation for the name, like “She is the answer to our prayers!” or “Whenever he is questioning something, he only has to look to himself for the answer.” )

The Fastest Rising Baby Names of 2015 (And Why Your Kid Will Hate Them In 2028)

They’re finally here: the top 1000 baby names of 2015 in the United States! What, you DON’T wait for this news all year? The standard caveats:

  • This is the official Social Security compilation of births registered in the US. Any of the US-based 2015 lists you saw before now were collected from baby name websites and were based on what the website users were naming their kids OR what names people were looking up, but not necessarily using.
  • When we talk about the “fastest rising names,” these are the ones that have made the biggest leap in the past year. Usually a few news outlets will treat the fastest rising names like they’re the most popular, even though they are given to comparatively few children. We didn’t work out the data ourselves: the lists came from the incredible Baby Names Blog.
  • I don’t dislike any of these names. Except for names like Adolph or Lucifer, or that don’t follow the rules of spelling or pronunciation in any language, I don’t think there are “bad names.”
  • Whether you give your kid a top 10 name or a name given to only 10 kids in the whole country, whether you pick a fastest rising name or a fastest falling name, there’s a good chance they’ll grow to hate it by age 13, because 13 year olds are the worst version of humanity.

We looked at 2013 and 2014, so now, let’s examine why your kid will hate today’s fastest rising baby names of 2015 by the time they’re 13 in 2028:

Girl Names

Adaline

If you think this type of name has been popular for a while now, you’re right. There’s the super-popular Addison and its many spelling variations. There’s Adalyn, spelled myriad ways. There’s also Adeline, which is basically the same thing as Adaline, just with an E. Plus Adalie (again, spellings abound) and my personal favorite of the Ad- names, Adelaide. The result: although only Addison appears near the top of the charts, taken in total it “adds” up to a whole lot of girls with similar-sounding names. So is your Adaline (lovely name, by the way!) going to grow up annoyed that, despite your careful choice of a name that isn’t too popular or too weird, she’s one of several Addies in her Brownie troop?

In a word, no. Your irrational 13-year-old Adaline will be annoyed when, after years of begging for an American Girl doll, she receives Addy because it has her name… when she really, truly had her heart set on Josefina. Nobody ever said tweens made sense. But also, just ask any millennial which American Girl doll she wanted but never got. She’ll remember.

Alaia

Alaia follows the recent trend of liquid, vowel-packed girl names: three syllables and only a single consonant in the pack. You might not know any Alaias, but you’ve probably run into an Amaya, Anaya, Ayana, Aliyah, Amara, Aria, Ariana, Aubriana, etc etc etc. So how could a little girl grow to hate a name that’s right on-trend? By entering the world of middle school, which can turn the sweetest child into a door-slamming teen who says things like “I didn’t ask to be born” when you deny her request for Abercrombie jeans (I’m predicting that in 2028, early 2000s fashion is back and so is distressed Abercrombie low-rise denim). When she and her friends begin watching Clueless at sleepovers, her nickname quickly becomes “A-what-a.” Hey, don’t say you didn’t see it coming when your custom Instagram hashtag for her as a baby was #ThisIsAnAlaia.

Aitana

Aitana, a name I’ve never heard before, is pretty. And like Alaia, it follows the starts in A, ends in A trend. Apparently it was used by a pair of Mexican actors in 2014 and comes from the Spanish mountain range Sierra de Aitana. There’s no GOOD reason to dislike such a perfectly nice name with a beautiful origin… but there’s a bad reason, and a 13 year old will find it. How were you to know your Aitana would have an early growth spurt and furiously demand to know “why you named me after a MOUNTAIN?”

Meilani

So it turns out Meilani is not a Hawaiian name! It’s an invented variation on Melanie, and its popularity is mainly due to its use by JWoww of Jersey Shore fame. We have three options for why your Meilani will hate her name even though it’s so fun to say:

  • You chose the name because you liked it. No problem there. But when little Mei presses you for why you chose the name, you told her it was in honor of your honeymoon in Hawaii. Then she learns that the name isn’t Hawaiian at all… and that you honeymooned at a nearby casino. Whoops.
  • You named her after your sister-in-law Melanie, who is currently Meilani’s least favorite aunt.
  • Throughout her elementary school years, its similarity to the first lady’s name leads classmates to call her Meilani Trump. Also, Melania Trump is First Lady. So really, everyone loses in this scenario.
Aislinn

I’m a big fan of Irish names with their original spelling, and if you named your baby Aislinn, so are you. Pronounced Ash-lin, Aislinn means dream or vision and is unrelated to the name Ashley or its spinoff, Ashlynn. It’s a name so nice that you and little Aislinn won’t mind correcting people on the pronunciation… until the World’s Worst Substitute Teacher asks if “Ass-lin” is present.

Boy Names

Jonael

Talk about a fast rise: Jonael is only number 919 for 2015, but in 2013 it ranked in the nine THOUSANDS. It’s all down to a talented tot who won La Voz Kids on Telemundo. Jonael is one of those names that sounds like it could be a biblical name (it isn’t), combining the Jon of Jonah or Jonathan and the -el ending of Daniel, Nathaniel, Gabriel, and so forth. It could even be a creative way to honor a grandpa John or an uncle Michael. One little problem: history has shown us that it’s a risky proposition to name a kid after a child star. Can I get an amen from the 9-year-old Mileys out there?

Matteo

I love Matteo! More international-sounding than Matthew, but still kind of comfy and familiar. Along with Mateo, Matteo is climbing the charts. By the time your Matteo is 13, we’re down to the same problem your brother Matthew had in the 1980s: so many Matts in a single class!

Riaan

Riaan is a Hindi name, and isn’t just a weird way to spell Ryan. But tell that to the World’s Worst Substitute Teacher (see: Aislinn), who goes on a 5-minute rant about creative spellings. Or to the World’s Worst Doctor’s Office Receptionist, who insists on pronouncing it Ryan but holds the “a” for a really long time.

Note: World’s Worst Substitute Teacher is based on a woman my friend worked with who insisted on calling a student named Juan “Joo-ahn” and would not hear that that was actually a proper spelling/pronunciation of the name. These people are slowly dying off but many will still be alive in 13 years.

Adriel

What could be better than an easy to spell, easy to pronounce name that’s as old as the Bible itself? Not much! But when Adriel discovers that his character’s story is mostly confusing genealogical stuff, he just wishes you’d gone for one of the flashier characters, is all.

Kyrie

In addition to being put on the girl’s gym class list (thanks, Kylie), Kyrie is treated to rounds and rounds of “kyrie eleison” – causing the teacher to pronounce it “keer-ee-ay” instead of “ky-ree,” like basketball player Kyrie Irving. Just HAD to spring for the Catholic school, didn’t you?

 

ICYMI: I Could Write A Sonnet About Your Easter Bonnet

Happy Easter to all those who celebrate it! If you need a respite from your family or friends right now, go seclude yourself in a room with a TV because odds are one of these movies is on.

Easter Movies, From Godspell to The 10 Commandments To Mallrats

For me, one of the biggest signs that Easter is still primarily a religious holiday is the dearth of Easter movies. There are hundreds of Christmas movies that never mention the birth of Jesus, but there are only a handful of Easter movies – and most of them basically stick to the book. What I’m saying is, some of these Easter movies are a stretch, but I’m working with what I’ve got. Happy(?) Holy Thursday, if that applies to you, and have a good Easter, too!

Godspell

This is what I’m talking about when I talk about Easter movies! Godspell is my personal favorite Jesus musical, an admittedly small genre. You ever notice that some people are Godspell people, and some are Jesus Christ Superstar people, and then everyone else is like “what are you even talking about?” Godspell is cheerful pseudo-hippie 1970s, whereas JCS is glam rock-y 70s, but both tell the story of Jesus as a (cheesy?) musical that I love.  Godspell is based on the Gospel of Matthew and focuses on Jesus’ parables and his more peace-and-love type teachings. I’m going to go all-caps for a second, okay? VICTOR “MR. ANDREWS” GARBER AS JESUS. Okay? I am just warning you, this movie may leave you with a weird crush on both Victor Garber and Jesus.

*(Aside: I absolutely love movies filmed in 1970s-1990s New York, maybe because it looks like the New York I remember as a kid in the 90s, so that’s a bonus.)

Jesus Christ Superstar

While this is mostly an unranked list, Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar probably are my top two Easter movies. While I like the stage production of Jesus Christ Superstar, the movie is a bit less visually appealing to me (read: set in the desert). Also, it focuses on the Jesus/Judas relationship. I love a frenemy situation in musical theater (Hamilton! right?), but it also makes it feel a little darker and less uplifting than Godspell. Nevertheless, my corny musical-loving self is always here for an Andrew Lloyd Webber / Tim Rice collab.

My advice, if you can find it: watch the 2001 Great Performances version with Glenn Carter and Renee Castle instead of the 1973 film. We watched it in a high school theatre class and it’s when I really started to like Jesus Christ Superstar.

The Passion Of The Christ

I worked in a movie theater during this movie’s 2004 release, and I can honestly say that the worst customers I encountered were some of the church groups who came in en masse to the early morning shows. Also I worked at the concession stand at the time, and it sort of felt like a weird movie to nosh on Skittles and popcorn during, but what do I know. Customers aside, the hype was deserved and … it pains me a bit to say … Mel Gibson did a great job telling the story of the crucifixion in a fresh way. It was also graphically violent and isn’t a movie I’ve ever felt the need to rewatch.

The 10 Commandments

The 10 Commandments is usually on TV on Easter, even if it’s not technically an Easter Movie. It’s a Cecil B. DeMille Technicolor classic from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Starring Charlton Heston and Yul Brenner, The 10 Commandments focuses on the story of Moses and will set you back almost four hours, including intermission. I guess it’s televised at Easter because the Moses story is kind of the lead-up to the New Testament, or maybe because it’s the only religious movie that was really in the game for a while there.

Plus, Easter and Passover are both in early Spring, and it illustrates the Passover beautifully.


 

Now that you’ve got your movie fill, how about finishing off that Easter outfit with a sensible and not at all tacky Easter bonnet?

Let’s Make Easter Bonnets The New Christmas Sweater

Easter may be the “most important” Christian religious holiday, but it’s no Christmas. Sure, we have some Easter traditions – egg hunts, making children sit on top of a man dressed like a rabbit (and also making a man wear a rabbit suit made of low-pile carpeting), dipping hard-boiled eggs in vinegar-laced food coloring – but as a season of festive joy and anticipation, Christmas clearly wins. Not only do we have fewer Easter traditions, they’re also all geared towards children. And arguably furries.

NOPE.

There’s kind of a reason for this. The Christmas story is fairly cute and approachable – it involves a baby, barnyard animals and a magical star. Easter is sort of unpleasant in comparison, and it takes a bit more work to get kids to understand it. For instance, last Easter my nephew Henry announced “Zurg died on the cross.” If you didn’t know: Zurg is the bad guy from Toy Story. I asked who put Zurg there, because I’m not responsible for this kid; I just get to “yes, and” him. “Jesus did,” he answered. Huh. Yeah, I sort of understand why we’re just like “Don’t worry about the whole Easter thing, just go sit on this man-rabbit and eat some candy.”

He died so we may live.

 

A few weeks ago, Henry – now four years old – started asking weird questions again. First: “What’s an orphan?” and then “Well, how would I get my mommy one?” Aunts of the world: just keep “yes, and” -ing that shit. It all started to come together a few days later, when he asked me “Aunt Molly, what’s an Easter bon?” That’s when I realized that (1) he was asking about an Easter bonnet, and (2) these questions were coming from the lyrics to Peter Cottontail, which means, rather reassuringly, (3) It was an orchid for your mommy; and my nephew is not trying to procure a parentless child for his mother. Phew.

Luckily, I didn’t have to try to explain what an Easter bonnet was – that was less a job for Aunt Molly and more a job for Aunt Google Image Search. And holy cow, guys! I thought they were just dumb hats that old ladies wear to church, or little girls’ straw hats with itchy elastic straps under the chin. But no, there is a whole world of wacky Easter Bonnets out there.

That’s when it all came together. We need a fun, stupid Easter activity for grown-ups. Something to get you in the holiday spirit, something that looks entirely ridiculous when you look at it just a month later. Something like EASTER BONNETS. Hear me out for a second. Chances are, you’ve attended an Ugly Holiday Sweater party in the past few years. Holidays make adults want to act like goofy kids again, and ugly sweaters help you do just that. There’s no real Easter equivalent unless you’re a seven-year-old girl or one of those church ladies who wears an Aretha hat. Unless- unless! – we start decorating bonnets in a party atmosphere. There are so many possibilities – just look:

Now, most of these pictures are from the UK, which makes me think that our UK readers are reading this saying “yeah, Easter bonnets. Easter eggs. Everybody knows this.” But no! They really aren’t as big a thing in the U.S., except in the Easter Parade, and I don’t know anybody who has actually gone to that. Oh, also our Easter Eggs are actual EGGS here, not the giant chocolate affairs you can buy overseas. We’re really struggling with the whole Easter thing in the States. So I say next year, we all throw Ugly Easter Bonnet parties, and everyone gussies up their fanciest bonnet. Whoever makes the tackiest one wins! Then we can all go celebrate Jesus’s victory over Emperor Zurg – the real reason for the season.

Mama From ‘All-Of-A-Kind Family’ Was Some Kind Of Genius: C+S Book Club

Sweep out the sukkah and check the china shepherdess for buttons, because it’s time for another edition of C+S Book Club! Rather than lamenting that Amy March is a total bitch, or revealing that Marilla Cuthbert was, in fact, a creepy church hag, today we’re going to talk about someone who is better than you and I could ever dream of being: Mama from Sydney Taylor’s All-Of-A-Kind Family. Mama was so clever and calculating that I almost wanted to call her an evil genius, but she was also the kindest, most chill mother in RL-4 chapter book history.

Look. I don’t have children. But I did read that one book about how our children would be classier if we raised them like French children, and I’ve seen some episodes of SuperNanny, which is a show about how our children would be classier if we raised them like British children from 1905. Plus I’ve read those articles that Facebook friends post about why children shouldn’t have technology and fast food, as well as those other articles that Facebook friends post about why children should have technology and fast food. And let me tell you: not a ONE of those so-called experts had anything on Mama. Case in point: her dusting scheme.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then chances are you didn’t read All-Of-A-Kind Family. If you did read it, the dusting ploy is seared in your memory along with chocolate babies and that time Henny got lost in Coney Island. (FREAKING HENNY, am I right?) The chapter was titled Dusting Is Fun, because it was 1951 and Sydney Taylor didn’t really have to try (honestly, what was her competition in children’s entertainment? The show Lassie. That’s it.). By the end of that chapter you, a grubby-faced 90s kid wearing a t-shirt decorated with puff paint, wished you were an old-fashioned child in the Lower East Side dusting for free. And for fun. That is how powerful Mama’s dusting plot was.

Ready for the scheme IN ITS ENTIRITY? Hold on to your pinafore. Mama hid buttons around the front parlor. By the way, their house only had like 4 rooms and one of them was a parlor used strictly for fancy decorations and pianos, that’s how high-class Mama was. Okay, so then the dusting girl had to find all of the buttons while she was dusting. Also Mama got straight-up sneaky with it, like those buttons were under table legs and piano keys. You had to DUST. IT. UP. If you found all of the buttons, you had done a good job dusting.

All right, let’s talk about the genius parts of this plan:

  1. The girls never knew how many buttons there were. Say you’ve found 5 buttons. You couldn’t just call it quits at that point, because maybe there were 9 buttons that day. You had to dust every damn thing, and only then could you be sure you had all of the buttons.
  2. Mama kept it fresh. Sometimes she’d bring out the buttons a few times a week, and sometimes she’d wait two weeks because what did she care, she had those little dusting girls under her spell and they would WAIT FOR IT. They’d wait for those buttons.
  3. In case you missed it, the prize was that you had done a good job dusting. Mama raised her kids to want to do a very good job at something because it feels good to know that you’ve done a very good job. Mama quarantined four children with scarlet fever in a spotless 4-room apartment during Passover; she knew that you didn’t get a ticker tape parade every time you did a damn chore.
  4. But Mama was the best ever because one week she hid a penny every day. Judging by how much candy the girls could buy for a penny, it was basically a dollar. Do you know how great it is to find a dollar when you’re cleaning? Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte and Gertie sure do.

Mama wasn’t all dusting and parlors, though. She also was really good looking. The girls introduced her to the Library Lady and they were so proud because even though she had, at the time, 5 children, she didn’t look like the other women in the neighborhood: “like mattresses tied about the middle.” Which admittedly sounds harsh, but you know exactly what they mean. I’m sure they’d all love Mama just as much if she were a lumpy mattress-lady, but the point is Mama had a whole bunch of kids and her figure and outfits were still on point.

While Mama enforced rules, she was lenient when it mattered. When Sarah made that big fuss about not eating her rice soup that one day, Mama stuck to her guns, but once Sarah had a few bites of the gross congealed soup she let her move onto something more appetizing. (I loved re-reading that chapter, because it so reminded me of when you’d get stubborn about something or throw a fit as a kid, and you wouldn’t even know why you were doing it, but you couldn’t will yourself to stop.) And when Gertie and Charlotte used their pennies to buy candy and crackers and ate them in bed, Mama played it like she had no clue, just because it makes kids feel smart and important having a secret.

The All-Of-A-Kind Family was medium-poor. They were second generation-ish Jewish immigrants on the Lower East Side in 1912 long before their neighborhood became some sort of real estate holding for foreign billionaires. However, Papa had a scrap shop and they lived on one floor of a house instead of in a crowded tenement, so they were doing pretty okay. Mama was really good at being medium-poor. She was frugal where it counted, but she still allowed for splurges like a trip to Coney Island, or a treat when they went to the market.

If I can have one quibble about Mama, it’s that she finally had a boy and she named it Charlie. Look. One of my favorite real-life little boys is named Charley. It’s a great name. PLUS Adult Charlie from the book is such a cool grownup. You spend the whole time hoping that he and the Library Lady will meet and hit it off and … well. You know the rest. (Also: another post about the Library Lady, maybe?). So it’s great that Mama names a kid after him. It’s just … Mama. Did you forget you already have a Charlotte? She’s going to have so much Middle Child Syndrome. On the whole Mama picked good names – Library Lady even said! – so I can’t be too annoyed. And at least she didn’t name him after Uncle Hyman.

Library Lady = the Miss Honey of this series.

If I have kids, I’m going to skip the parenting guide telling me to make my children be more French. I’ll bypass the naughty step. I’ll steer clear of the Facebook click-bait. As far as I’m concerned, the best parenting guide there is this one weird old chapter book with no real plot. If I am even 1/10th of the benevolent evil genius Mama is, I think my kids would turn out just fine.

 

Beauty Advice For My Goddaughter

Someday, my goddaughter is going to move mountains, I’m sure of it. But today, she turns 7. Seven! People born in 2009 are seven years old. After meeting her at the hospital, I took the train back to Philadelphia and watched President Obama’s inauguration on tv. Seven years.

I take my godmother job very seriously, and for a very good reason. M’s mother died last month. My brother is an amazing dad, but there are things he won’t know to tell her.

Beauty advice is one of those things that isn’t too hard to think about right now — because it isn’t important. I don’t care if my niece wears sweatpants and a ponytail if that’s what she wants, but she’s artistic and colorful and gets real joy out of beautiful things – and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Here’s some of my essential information for Miss M., when she’s ready for it:

  • Sometimes, one of your friends will get really evangelical about a hair or skin care product that they think is the best thing ever. There’s a good chance that it won’t work on you, but it’s okay to try it anyway.
  • There will come a time when you want bangs. You have curly hair. It might never look good. Getting into a years-long cycle of cutting bangs then growing them out again is totally acceptable and is actually how I spent my teens and 20s. It’s like a casual hobby.
  • If you have a hair tie, bobby pin or safety pin in your purse, and somebody else needs it, it is now community property. 
  • Always buy clothes that fit. Odds are you’re going to stay small-boned and skinny (but it’s fine if you don’t) and when clothes hang off of you, you will look like a Dickensian beggar.
  • Dickensian beggar is an OK look for weekends but probably not job interviews.
  • If you aren’t totally sure about a tattoo, don’t. Even if you fall out of love with something later on, it will be more okay if you at least were certain when you got it.
  • If it’s too itchy, get rid of it.
  • There are two kinds of people: people who take off their makeup every night, and people who wake up with smudgy faces and smudgier pillowcases. You know what kind of person to be.
  • Hang up or neatly fold your clothes. They will last longer.
  • Sunscreen. Every day. Forever. Because your lineage is half Puerto Rican, half snowman.
  • There’s a 5-8 year window when the things you wore in high school will be really embarrassing to you. Don’t throw away photos of those outfits – someday you’ll love looking at them.
  • Never tell anybody that what they’re wearing is “flattering.” That’s lowkey insulting.
  • Never listen to anybody who tells you that what you’re wearing is “flattering,” either. You look good, not the clothes.
  • You asked your dad to save all of your mom’s clothes for you, which was amazingly forward-thinking for a six-year-old because your mom had great style. Take good care of them, but if something gets ruined, remember that your mom would have wanted you to wear things and enjoy them, not keep them locked away. You will give them life again.
  • Try not to be too jealous that your brother’s hair gets more compliments than yours. There’s an excellent chance that he will be bald one day. Let him have this moment.
  • If you ever go to a school where you have a uniform, rejoice! I know some parts of it aren’t great but your mornings will be so much easier.
  • While we’re at it: you can try to make a school uniform or your ballet tights and leotard look cool, but chances are it’s just going to call attention to how uncool they are.
  • Your favorite bit with your dad (though you pretend to hate it) is when he “yells” at you for being too pretty. But seriously, you are really pretty. That is only one thing about you and it’s not why any of us love you.
  • Always be yourself. When you were chatting with your baby cousin last month and we asked what you were teaching her, you answered “just always be yourself.” So kiddo, this isn’t a lesson you need, but in case you ever forget.
  • ‘Highlighting’ is where you paint white stripes on the parts of your face you want people to look at. It will probably be very out of style by the time you’re wearing makeup, but if you go to a 2010s-themed party in college you should totally do it.
  • A few days before Christmas, I let you splash too much in the bath, brushed your hair into two shiny black pigtails, and got you dressed in a white dress that your other aunt bought. It seemed so wrong that we were going to your mother’s memorial. But there will be other white dresses for happier days – your quince, your graduation, maybe a wedding – and I’ll be there to help you then, too, if you want it. And probably if you don’t, because you are never, ever getting rid of me.
  • Until your mid-20s, cheap moisturizer is fine.
  • Every once in a while, a rumor goes around that you can use hemorrhoid cream on puffy under-eyes. Maybe that works for some people, but personally: it makes your puffy skin extra-shiny AND it makes your face smell like a butt. An ailing butt.
  • The first time something you wore in your youth comes back into style, you’re going to feel terrible. Get used to it, because once it starts it doesn’t stop. Chances are when you are 80 all of the young kids will be wearing the spacesuits or whatever that were popular in your 30s.
  • If you’re afraid of overdressing or underdressing for an event, just wear something simple but make sure your hair and makeup is on point.
  • If you ever, ever, ever find yourself saying that you can’t cut your hair because your significant other will hate it, either that person is garbage OR you really don’t want to cut it and feel better hanging that on someone else. Take a minute and figure out which it is, okay?
  • It’s better to be a tween with braces, if you need them, than to be an adult trying to figure out if your insurance will cover orthodontia. You will probably look back on the years of 11-15 as awkward ones anyway, and the braces are an investment in the future.
  • Assuming selfies are still a thing when you get older, try to take 3 unnecessary cat pictures for every 1 unnecessary selfie. Not because there’s anything wrong with taking pictures of yourself, but because it’s been scientifically (not at all) proven (by me) that excessive photos of pets in your social media accounts will keep out the wrong element. (Plus every girl needs that one Weird Cat Aunt, and I’m yours.)
  • You will not become prettier or healthier by “flushing” “toxins” from your system. M, this fact will appear on several of your lists.
  • You will not become prettier or healthier by “flushing” “toxins” from your system BUT you will be prettiest if you drink enough water, eat enough fruits and vegetables, move a lot, and live a life that makes you happy.
  • Here are my favorite things about you: during the last week I spent with you, you called 4 days “the best day of my life.” You believe in all of the best things, like unicorns and mermaids. You ask good questions even though they’re hard for us to answer. You dance instead of walk. You are unfailingly patient and helpful with your baby cousins and none of us are really joking when we say we’d let you babysit them. You know your mind better than anyone I know. None of those things have anything to do with what you look like, but they are what make you one of the most beautiful people I ever could have imagined.

You’ve Got A Lot To Live Up To, Saint

If you’ve been keeping up with the Kardashians as of late, you know Kimye welcomed their second child over the weekend. And after two days of speculation of what baby boy’s name would be, Kim finally revealed their son’s name:

Naturally, anyone’s first reaction is of confusion.

Then the realization it’s legit:

and acceptance:

So I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been seeing it everywhere since Monday, but I think the name is actually growing on me? I had a similar reaction when they announced North West, but the winning point for me was that they would be calling her Nori, which is adorable. Saint, though? First of all, someone let ‘Ye pick the name. Second, what would his nickname be, if anything? Third, Saint is like, not a name. To be fair, *what even is a name anyways*??

However, to put things in perspective, Pete Wentz (Fall Out Boy rocker, ex-husband to Ashlee Simpson, father of son Bronx Mowgli) and his girlfriend had a son last year and named him Saint Lazslo, but the reaction was definitely not as fervent as it has been with Saint West. Kim and Kanye are an easy target, so unless they named their son Robert (after Kim’s late dad) as rumored, they would’ve gotten shit for anything they named him. But who even remembers the fact Pete Wentz named his son Saint a year ago? No one.

To also give Kim and Kanye more props, let’s be honest here – it could be worse. His name could’ve been Audio Science or Pilot Inspektor. Now those are REALLY not names in the slightest. With Saint, it implies a greatness to be achieved, whereas Audio Science, Shannyn Sossamon’s son, could be a major at MIT. There is of course a caveat to having a name like Saint – it gives him a lot to live up to. Just like being a Kennedy or even a Kardashian, there’s a stigma and pre-judgement that comes with a name that you have no control over. So if Saint West needs any advice on how to live up to a name larger than life, he can consult with these other celebrity babies who have just as odd if not more odd names than him.

Royalty {Daughter of Chris Brown}

Chris didn’t actually have anything to do with the naming of his daughter, since he found out she was his well after her birth, but it somehow seems exactly the right name that he would give her anyways. He’s also been treating her as such ever since the truth about his paternity came up, so much so that he’s named his upcoming album Royalty, and in the spirit of philanthropy, he’s also donating proceeds of the record sales to the Children’s Miracle Network hospital. He’s a *changed man* y’all.

Messiah Ya’ Majesty Harris {Son of T.I.}

That is not a typo, that apostrophe belongs there. Perhaps it was because it was T.I.’s first kid that he thought he needed to go big or go home, so he went for our savior, Lord Jesus Christ as the name for his baby.

Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy is Lord of all creation?

Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy would one day rule the nations?

Valor {Son of Emile Hirsch}

Valor {noun}: great courage in the face of danger, especially in battle.

Valor {proper noun}: Hufflepuff.

 

Happy Hinds {Son of Macy Gray}

Wouldn’t it be great if he could just change his name depending on his mood? Today he’s Happy, tomorrow he’s Outraged, next week he’s Flabbergasted.

King Cairo {Son of Tyga and Blac Chyna}

Is he just supposed to be treated like a king in general, or is it that he rules over the city of Cairo?

Atlas {Son of Ed Norton}

Despite what you may thinking, Ed Norton’s son wasn’t named after the huge ass book of maps, but rather the Greek god who was condemned by Zeus to hold up the sky forevs. TBH, this seems like the most difficult of all the names to live up to, since your name LIT’RALLY means to hold the world on your shoulders. I can’t even wear heavy coats.

Titan Jewell Witherspoon {Son of Kelly Rowland}

Although Kelly’s said the name itself has to do with family, it still bears heavy on the kid, since Titans were Greek gods of incredible strength. Sure you want your kid to be strong, but what if he’s a crier and a chess player? Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Moxie Crimefighter {Daughter of Penn Jillette}

For a little backstory, Penn and his wife EZ (those are her initials) wanted to use a “purely American” name like Moxie to represent spunk and energy. As for the CrimeFighter part, Penn’s wife thinks middle names are stupid and they chose “CrimeFighter” as a joke. A JOKE. Who’s going to be laughing when there’s a murder to be solved and the only person who can seek retribution is Moxie CrimeFighter?

Kal-El Cage {Son of Nicolas Cage}

Literally his son is a superhero. He is Superman.

What To Buy: A Baby You Know

Welcome to What To Buy, a semi-recurring holiday gift guide feature I’m doing since I’m looking all of this stuff up anyway. It feels like all year I think of gifts that would be perfect for people, only to panic and scramble for gifts once November and December roll around. This year, I’m sharing my thoughts for anyone else in the same boat. Julie Andrews always told us to start at the very beginning, so that’s what we’re going to do … with gifts for babies, who are the beginning of people.

Something you probably know about me: I know a lot of babies. I don’t actually have one, which is great. There are a lot of people that I like hanging out with but I wouldn’t particularly want to be roommates with them, and babies fall into that category. But I think they’re really fun once they get a personality on them, and they’re some of the easiest people to buy for because they’re happy with an empty box. For gift giving purposes, we’re calling babies anything from brand new to age two or so, when they start to fall into the kid category.

For The Baby Who Loves 90s Hip Hop And Has Dreams

I Wish I Was A Little Bit Taller or I Wish I Was A Baller shirt from tribeisalive

 

 

https://scontent-ord1-1.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xat1/v/t1.0-9/12234915_10153702067691322_5344731840240534045_n.jpg?oh=ffb850478d6d06c2888c36b59ba30187&oe=56EA71F7

This is my niece, Lulu. I’m obviously biased but I think she’s as cute as a bug  – and at 17 months, she’s also about as big as one. She probably does wish she was a little bit taller but you can’t blame an auntie for wanting her to stay this size forever. Also comes in I Wish I Was A Baller, and is available in onesies or – why not – adult sizes. Lu has a great Jump Up Jump Up And Get Down shirt from the same site, but it seems to be no longer in stock.  $23, tribeisalive.com

[Because you didn’t ask, my personal criteria for “clever” baby t-shirts and onesies: nothing that references the father’s fertility or the fact that babies poop and pee. Why are those so popular?]

For A Baby Who Is Cold

Knitted hat that makes them look like something other than a baby

Baby it’s cold outside … is NOT a song you should sing to a baby. Creepy song, that. But it’s also a fact of life this time of year. One of the great things about babies is you can make them wear ridiculous things and they don’t know, like the adorable hats from Melondipity. These cute knitted caps are also a good way to circumvent that whole issue of not being able to find cute boy or neutral baby clothes. $19.99, melondipity.com.

For A Baby Who Likes Taking Things Out Of Containers And Putting Things Back In Again

Autumn Acorn Color Sorting Bowls

Autumn Acorn Color Sorting Bowls //  Wooden Bowls & Acorns // Wooden Educational Toy // Montessori // Waldorf

I know that sounds like a really specific type of baby, but if you also know a lot of babies you know what I’m talking about. I try to avoid anything that is probably full of lead paint and parabens, and if I were shopping for a sort-crazy baby this year something like this wooden set is just what I would go with. And since adults are the ones stuck with baby stuff strewn about their house, the bonus is that wooden sets like this are a lot less loud and ugly looking. $29.00, Simple Gift Toys on Etsy.

For The Baby Who’s Working On That Walking Thing

Plan Toys Push Toy

PlanToys® Push Toy Storage Capacity

During that wobbly stage, toddlers are so much happier to walk when they’re pushing something. This van is adorable and leaves storage space for kids to take a stuffed animal or two along for the ride. It’s also non-babyish enough that I could see it getting worked into pretend play into the early childhood years. $60.99, target.com.

For The Baby With A Crafty Gift-Giver And A Blank Bedroom Wall

DIY Name Sign

Not at all sorry for bombarding you with my Lu. My sister-in-law made this for her own baby’s room, but it would be a great gift, too. Use scrapbook paper and mod-podge to cover wooden letters, available at most craft stores, and accent with flowers or balloons, also in the scrapbook section. It’s a thoughtful, fun gift that will ensure that the baby you know never forgets who they are (as soon as they learn how to read.) $10 – 30 for supplies, JoAnn Fabrics or Michaels.

 

For The Baby Who’s Growing Teeth In Its Mouth

Josephine Mouse

Chances are, the baby you know already has a Sophie the Giraffe – but do they have Sophie’s friend Josephine yet? A few parents have raised choking concerns about Sophie’s long neck, although looking at the toy and the babies I know, it just doesn’t seem possible. But if you’re concerned, you might like the mouse’s rounder shape. $16.10, Target.com.

For The Baby Who Still Has A Lot Of Growing To Do

Set Of 30 Milestone Baby Cards

Milestone cards

It can be hard to document all of a baby’s firsts. If you know parents who aren’t painstakingly writing every moment in a baby book, they probably still have time to bust out the camera phone when baby does something new. These milestone cards provide a space to put the date the baby hit those big milestones, like smiling and saying mama. Parents can just write the date on the card, prop the card up next to the baby, and snap a photo. Instant, easy baby book. $24.59 for a set of 30, NotOnTheHighStreet.com.

For The Baby Who’s Sleepy

Constellation projecting turtle light

 

 

The soft light from this projector will create a peaceful glow in the baby’s room … and make parents 50% less likely to stub their toes walking into a dark room in the middle of the night. Win-win. $34.95, hammacher.com.

For The Musical Baby

Baby Instruments

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Instruments aren’t just great for a baby’s burgeoning musical abilities, they also help teach cause and effect. Pro tip: go for the non-electric ones that are baby, rather than battery, powered. The parents will thank you. $19.93, thejunglestore.com.

For The Baby Who Likes A Good Story

Baby Lit books

Pride & Prejudice

I have bought these for so many babies, and they always get a great response. No baby is too young to get drawn into the Bingley v. Wickham v. Darcy debate. Other titles include Sherlock, Wuthering Heights, Moby-Dick, and many more. If you’re a lit nerd trying to get your favorite babies on board – guilty! – these are just the ticket. $9.99, babylit.com.

 

ICYMI: Predicting the Mormon Mommy Blog TV Future

Back to TV Week is sadly coming to an end, but why not revisit one of our fave posts, the preview of the 2019 TV lineup!

Speculative Premiere Week: Meet The New Shows Of 2019!

Maybe we’re getting a little carried away with our role as Fantasy Network Executives, but we’re pretty sure we can predict exactly what will be on tv in 4 years. Expect the new batch of series to contain a breakout SNL star, CBS’s latest Fat Guy/Skinny Wife offering, a movie franchise adaptation, a poorly planned reboot, and a patently offensive comeback or two. And Ryan Seacrest, always Ryan Seacrest. So what’s on the block for 2019? Set your DVR’s way ahead, it’s going to be quite a year!

Selfie Off with Ryan Seacrest

The top 10 selfie takers in America face-off (quite literally) in a variety of different challenges to see who can take the best photo. On a rollercoaster, next to a fire, in a haunted house, who will not let outside elements deter them from their photography skills and ultimately take the crown of America’s Favorite Selfie Taker? This show does not do well.

Tiny Houseboat International

Features people looking to not only downsize their home but also sail the high seas (but not too high, these boats are TINY).

Pretty In Provo

Aidy Bryant stars as a Cool Mormon trying to juggle her mommy blog and etsy shop, while wrangling her kids Wren, Polly, and Olive-Lou. Her house and outfits are bright and adorable, and we… kind of want this to exist for real? AIDY?

Gal Pals

Katie Holmes and Ellen Page star as sisters who have to pretend that they’re dating in order to rent an apartment in San Francisco, a la Three’s Company.

gal pals


We would obviously watch anything Aidy Bryant’s in, but do you not know that much about Mormon Mommy bloggers? Let us educate you.

My Secret Mormon Mommy Blogger Fantasy Life

Nobody lives like Mormon mommy bloggers – not even Mormon mommy bloggers. Their whole life looks like it’s on purpose. If your blogroll includes a few of these Etsy-shopping, organic waffle-making, cute apron-wearing ladies, you know what I mean. If there were a way to engineer a lifestyle where I was a Mormon Mommy Blogger without actually having to be Mormon or a mommy, I’d be down. That doesn’t seem possible, so instead I can’t help but fantasize about an alternate universe in which I was born in Provo, have 8 siblings, and run an online children’s stationery shop while raising impeccably-dressed kids.

For starters, if I were a Mormon Mommy Blogger … I’d be Mormon. That part doesn’t really interest me — except for the crisp white underwear onesies, which seem so pristine and wholesome that they’re like the underwear equivalent of having fresh farm milk delivered in glass bottles to your door — so let’s move on. I’d be a “mommy,” though, and by my late 20s I could have quite a collection of them: Jasper, Oliver, Clyde, Florentine, and Birdie. Or Wren. I haven’t decided on the last one for sure. Unlike real children, they’d never wear anything with licensed characters on it. Instead, the boys would look like Mumford sons and the girls would dress like cats from a Richard Scarry book.

All together now: Ain’t no collar like a Peter Pan collar cause a Peter Pan collar don’t pop

Speaking of outfits, if I were a Mormon Mommy Blogger, I’d also dress like a cat from a Richard Scarry book. I assume there would be a lot of stuff from Anthro and Modcloth in my closet. But as a proper Mormon Mommy Blogger, I’d probably have a Mormon Mommy Blogger friend with an Etsy shop who gives me free clothes in exchange for plugs. I bet I’d like that part. I would be really into statement necklaces and, I think, hair accessories. Every day I’d look like a baby from one of those newborn photoshoots where they stick big stuff on their head.

When accessorizing, think to yourself: “What would a baby from Etsy do?”

My color palette would best be described as “Wes Anderson-y” or “Deschanelesque.”

If I were a Mormon Mommy Blogger, I’d cop to flaws to seem more human, like the leading lady in a rom-com who is beautiful and accomplished, but also trips a lot. For instance, maybe I’d be a little too obsessed with some type of cute dessert. It couldn’t be Hostess Snowballs or vending machine ice cream sandwiches or anything that you can picture coating your insides with First World Diseases. It could be gelato or some sort of attractive donut, though.

My fatal flaw: I love eating a single, picturesque macaron after a long day shopping for cute fabrics that I definitely know what to do with.

That’s as bad as it can get, because you can’t be gross and be a Mormon Mommy Blogger (I mean your kids and your dog can, and you probably write about that, but it’s different). In contrast, I do things like realize that I haven’t cleaned the rim of my aluminum water bottle until a film of orange sludge has developed. I bet Mormon Mommy Bloggers’ lunch bags don’t smell like a dead man ate a bunch of fruit then farted into it- and if they did, they wouldn’t tell you that. Besides, they eat lunch at home, on Depression glass.

The best part about being a Mormon Mommy Blogger would be the house. It would look like an undergrad design major’s aspirational Pinterest (the board is called “Someday…”, with ellipses). I’m thinking it would be a mid-century ranch or a converted 1890s schoolroom, but anything pre-1970 will do in a pinch. Mormon Mommy Bloggers do not have wall-to-wall carpeting. They do, however, have chevron, birds, and owls. I’m sure one of my talented friends would sell hand-lettered wall hangings, so I’d score some of those.

As a Mormon Mommy Blogger, I’d be so precious that I’d have a lot of household items of limited use. Grapefruit spoons, cherry pitters, summer lap blankets, a tiny ceramic mortar and pestle for grinding chia seeds – they’d all be indispensable. We’d have some sort of a twee weekend breakfast tradition, like crepes while reading the Sunday morning comics (it’s not a big deal or anything, but we have a crepe maker). In this universe, I’d be entertained by Sunday morning comics. It would be so cute to be into Nancy or Dick Tracy, but I just can’t. I wouldn’t really “get” Dilbert, but then again, who does?

Oh, to be the kind of adult woman who thinks this is funny. Fun fact: my new niece is named Lulu and everyone over the age of 45 says “oh, like Little Lulu!” so apparently there’s an audience for this?

Somewhere between running my home business and raising children named after old men or wildlife, I’d also do a lot of stuff just for fun. I’d throw parties that are on purpose — theme-y ones, like in the summer we’d all go outdoors with mason jar lanterns and paint silhouette portraits and make root beer floats (can I have rootbeer? better check), or in the winter, a sledding party with a cookie component. The soundtrack would be all adorable ladies with ukuleles, or some artist I’m into who predates the British Invasion. Buddy Holly, maybe.  Of course we’d all play with the dog a lot. The dog has a different surname from our own for some reason, like Mr. Wadsworth or Boots McIvins. Basically anything that sounds like it could be one of those stripper or soap opera names you’d construct in junior high using your grandma’s middle name and your first street. I’d have a hobby – probably photography. In my Secret Provo Life, I’d post a lot of pictures taken in natural light highlighting my freckles. I mean, I have more freckles than anybody I’ve ever seen, but in this world I’d be into having them. It would be like my thing. I have to be positive, because Ruby-Faye has them too. Wait, what were the kids names again?

I’m not saying I’m going to go Single White Female on a Mormon Mommy Blogger, although I’m also not saying not that, if you know what I mean (I don’t).  Mormon Mommy Bloggers are doing what everyone with an online presence does — editing out the boring or unattractive bits of life and painting a nice picture. But you have to admit, they paint it ten times more adorably than any of the rest of us can manage. I’m pretty sure their lunch satchels still smell like fruit farts though, even if the fruit is organic, local, and probably cut into the shape of other fruits somehow.

Where Are They Now: Every Kid From Your Second Grade Class

My oldest nephews, who were born in February 2007, finished second grade this week. That is absolutely astonishing to me. It’s hard to grasp that people who didn’t exist until 2007 can walk and talk, let alone read chapter books and multiply two-digit numbers.

Looking at these big kids (up to my shoulders!), I’m reminded of the Up Series.  In the early ’60s, British filmmakers interviewed seven-year-olds from different backgrounds and social classes. The premise: “to get a glimpse of England in the year 2000. The shop steward and the executive of the year 2000 are now seven years old.” They were testing the Jesuit maxim “Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man.” The filmmakers have followed up with the participants every seven years; they are now approaching 60 years old.

There are other Up series filmed throughout the world. The first installment of the American version was released in 1991, so when I watch it I’m seeing kids grow up in the same time I did. The really amazing thing is that in many cases, the child at seven does tell you a lot about the adult they’ll become.

So how about those kids we all seemed to have in our second grade classes? Do you think we can accurately predict where they are now? Maybe not – but it’s fun to try.

The Nose Picker

Also known as the Gross Kid. As a child, I lived in fear that I was the Gross Kid even though I was hygienic. And as an adult, I sometimes still feel like a grown-up version of the Gross Kid.

But you know who doesn’t feel like that? The actual grown-up version of the Gross Kid. Because the hallmark of the Nose Picker/ Gross Kid/ Smelly Kid was that they were utterly oblivious to their own filth. This kid has not become an appealing adult. He has become that guy at your office with the rumpled shirt who is always faintly smelly, or the sticky guy who you hope doesn’t chose the elliptical next to you. She’s that person whose apartment may be surface-clean, but the sink always has a layer of grime.

If the Nose Picker was an unappealing kid because his parents just didn’t care, though, not because the kid was oblivious, then he is probably very tidy and fastidious now.

The Dinosaur Kid

How about that one child who knew everything about dinosaurs (or fighter jets, or bugs, etc)? Chances are this kid is the expert in some super-specific field, but has left the dino t-shirts behind. But if you go see Jurassic World with a former Dinosaur Kid this summer, be prepared for a tirade on the inaccurate skin folds of the velociraptors, because once you amass that much knowledge about a subject it doesn’t go away, it just gets locked up for a while.

That One Kid Who Showed Up Halfway Through The Year

Remember how one kid would show up halfway through the year, introduced by the principal, and then they’d be gone at the start of the next school year? That kid made friends fast – in part because everyone was so taken with the novelty of an unfamiliar kid, and in part because if you switched schools a lot, you sort of had to know how to make friends quickly. So it would come as no surprise that That One Kid Who Showed Up Halfway Through The Year is now a person who instantly gets involved in a new workplace or neighborhood.

The Kid With The Healthy Lunches

Well, they’re probably thin, but good God, at what cost?

Actually, I take that back. The kid with the aggressively healthy lunches raided his friends’ Dunkaroos and Pop Tart Bites every time he went over to to play – I should know, my friend had the good junk food and I did the same. By high school, they probably developed a Claudia Kishi complex and snuck unhealthy snacks. This kid is now an adult who buys lunch from a vending machine at work.

The Kid With The Good Lunches

You know how some children were destined to a life of Lunchables and Handi-Snacks when your lot in life was bologna sandwiches and lukewarm yogurt? Those Good Lunch Kids had 20 minutes of joy in the middle of every school day. I like to think they still create happiness with little things, like as adults they have a living room with one really unexpected piece of art, or they’ll wear a normal weekend outfit with a punchy pair of shoes.

Or, childhood Type II diabetes. One of those.

The Kid With The Statement Piece

It always seemed cool when a child had one thing they always had with them. Think Harriet the Spy with the tomato sandwiches. Or the boy with the purple socks, also from Harriet The Spy. Or Punky Brewster’s mismatched shoes, or Blossom’s hats. By now, this person has outgrown their statement piece. The boy who always wore suspenders is not still wearing suspenders. But they still like to get noticed right away, so look for a gregarious personality or some chunky jewelry. In second grade, the kid with the statement piece knew his own mind, so now they’re adults who have to have their house, car and workspace just the way they want it.

These are the people who have customized license plates.

Dress Girl

I went to Catholic school, where every girl was Dress Girl. However, I still knew some of those girls who even in their free time insisted on wearing dresses. All dresses, only dresses, every day. Sometimes it was a religious thing but usually it was just a preference. Dress girl is not someone who works in fashion. Dress girl just chilled out at some point and realized that pants are useful for things like exercising, or windy days. But she’s mostly just someone who wears a lot of dresses, still. Sorry.

That Kid With A Ton Of Siblings


Your eyes don’t deceive you, that’s Jamal Lyon and Jess Merriweather in the best show nobody seems to remember.

If the Kid With A Ton Of Siblings was the oldest – or one of the oldest – in their giant family, there’s an excellent chance that this person is now an Adult With No Children, enjoying the blissful sounds of silence and sharing their wardrobe with nobody. In the immortal words of Kevin McAllister, when these kids grow up and get married, they’re living alone.

The Two Kids Who Look Alike But ARE NOT SIBLINGS

They never talked to each other again. But one has a spouse who looks like them. When they have kids, nobody can say “he looks just like his dad” or “that’s his mom’s nose!” Instead it’s like “yeah… that’s the only face those two faces could have created.”

Any other ginger kids out there? Then you know the very real struggle of being asked if you’re twins if there’s another random ginger in the class.

The “Half Hour Of PBS” Kid

Often a crossover with the Healthy Lunch Kid, remember that one kid who was allowed a single half-hour of public television once a week? Yeah, she spent a lot of time playing outdoors, developing an imagination, and getting acquainted with her local library, but she never knew what the heck was going on on TGIF. And like the Healthy Lunch Kid, this child binged on SNICK and Tiny Toons as soon as a play date began.

This could have gone one of two ways. Either this kid is now a TV blogger, or she’s one of those people who manages to drop the fact that she doesn’t own a TV into every conversation, relevant or not.

He Had A Rat Tail

He doesn’t, now.

The Kid God Forgot To Color In

Me, ’90s, skiing cow sweater, you’re welcome internet.

Oh, bless. That kid with pasty skin and pink-rimmed eyes is now an adult with slightly less pasty skin. For some reason, this child eventually ended up allergic to everything, as well. The quote from Community comes to mind – it’s like God spilled a person. The pasty child is now a grownup who doesn’t leave home without sunscreen, Zyrtec, eye drops, an inhaler, and maybe an epipen. And tissues, because for some reason frequent nosebleeds go along with this whole setup.

And yes, this kid is me. Now excuse me as I fish my flonase out of my purse.

The Girl Who Knows Everything

Nobody in the world knows more than a seven-year-old girl. Especially THIS seven-year-old girl. Unfortunately, knowing everything is not the best way to ingratiate yourself with your peers.

The Girl Who Knows Everything probably forgot that she knows everything for a few years there – junior high or high school – but her Hermione Granger tendencies won out and now she’s in an upper-level position in the Ministry of Magic got a pretty good job.

The Kid Who Wants Everyone To think He’s Rich


God bless typecasting. I feel like our child-selves should have been friends.

What’s more insufferable than a rich kid? A kid who wants everyone to KNOW that he’s a rich kid. This is the girl who told everyone that she got her Halloween costume from the deluxe tier, or the boy who referred to his pool as an “olympic-sized swimming pool.” I’m not saying that this kid is rich now, but they probably have a subprime mortgage on a flashy McMansion and lease a nice car that’s beyond their means to own.