Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Chutney By Any Other Name Would Taste As Sweet

I've always been fascinated by names. As a little girl, I would spend hours studying baby name books. (My parents just kept having babies, so there were always plenty of baby name books lying around.) I was intrigued by the way different names sounded and prided myself on knowing the meanings of various names. For example, did you know that Cameron means "crooked nose" or that the name Mallory means "unfortunate"? These are all tips I gleaned from a childhood spent obsessed with the naming process.

When I was a little girl, I always detested having an ordinary name. Don't get me wrong, I like my name, but, sadly, thousands of other people were also drawn to my name around the year 1978. Having the name Amber also grouped me in with the many other generic names of my generation. To this day, I am constantly confused with persons bearing the names Jennifer, Amy, Heather, or, most often, Amanda. It really bugs me. As a child, I remember envying the little girls who had unique names. It seemed that my life would certainly be much more exciting if I was named...say...Kalani, Shiloh, Sage or Anna Jane. (I experienced name envy with each of these names when I was younger.) In first grade, I even tried to change my name to my middle name (Camille) for a little while just to be fun. As a practical person, though, I quickly decided that I couldn't finish my work as quickly with two whole extra letters to worry about.

So that was the background story because I love details. :)

Here is the real story...

Almost six years ago, Josh and I first announced the name of our darling baby boy to the world. We had intentionally kept his name a secret, mainly because we thought it would help people to keep their opinions to themselves if the little guy had already been given a name. We put great consideration into choosing a name that was unique, but not freaky, couldn't be confused with a girl's name, and was easy to spell and pronounce. Josh, as always, was careful to make sure that the name didn't rhyme with anything unfortunate or sound like some gross body part. We decided to name our son Major Gray Smith, because that was the name we had already chosen in the event that Mary Alice surprised us by being a boy. We were in love with the name. It was masculine. It sounded solid and strong. Nobody would confuse him for a girl. There wouldn't be nine million of them. We thought it was the perfect name for our little guy. Of course, as with any name, you can't please everybody. Most of the responses we received upon announcing the name were positive. We attributed any negative responses to the name (very few) to cases of bad taste, obviously. :)

Here are a few of the comments we heard upon announcing his name to the world, along with my responses/commentary (when appropriate):

1) "He's going to be made fun of" (True, he was made fun of once by a boy who also called him a "mountain head"...It happens...)

2) "You're kidding." (This was said by family members who truly thought Josh was playing an April Fool's Day joke.)

3) "I didn't like his name at first, but now I do."

4) "It sounds like a dog's name." (I strongly disagree. I don't place it at all in the same category as Fido, Spot, or Scooby Doo. Besides, these days, ANYTHING sounds like a dog's name.)

Perhaps the most shocking was this response...

5) "Major Gray? You mean, like the chutney? (followed by loud laughter)"

Chutney??? Chutney??? In all of my days of research on sounds, meanings, it had never once occurred to me that the name for my son might also be a food product!

Anyway... My son, Major Gray is named after a chutney. We purchased his namesake this week and ate it tonight with some leftover chicken.

It was yummy, by the way...

Even Milla liked her Major Grey. :)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Baby Doll

My little baby doll... Could she be any cuter?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Winter Picnic

Today was a perfect day for a picnic. The weather was beautiful! I love these little breaks from the winter weather that we get in this part of the country. Mary Alice packed what she called a "mystery lunch" for us. She insisted that it be a surprise and wanted us to wait until lunch time to find out what we would be eating. We swung by and picked up some of Mary Alice's home schooled friends and headed to the park for a winter picnic. I didn't get any pictures of the actual picnic part of our trip. (I was too busy trying to make sure that Milla stayed on the blanket and out of the mud.) We ate our PB & J sandwiches and rice crispy treats and then ventured out to enjoy the open play areas in our local park.

Here are a few pics from our play time at the park. Major paused his football game long enough to pick a handful of dandelions for his momma.

The girls played on the chin up bars. They were laughing so hard! Giggly girls...

Milla was so excited to try out her steps in the grass. She toddled all over the place.

She tried so hard to get inside this piece of playground equipment. First her head...

She put her left foot in...

She put her left foot out... (Notice the proud look on her face.)

She put her right foot in...

She put her whole self in...

She was having so much fun!

Here is the Maje doing his daredevil stunts on the swingset.

I swung on the swings for a while with Milla in my lap. She loved it. I, however, did NOT. I don't know what is wrong with me. A few minutes on the swing and I was DONE. It is so sad that swinging with my kids makes me feel so nauseated. I get motion sickness so easily these days. I must be getting old!

Here are the kids as we were getting ready to go. What a day!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

My New "Do"

Recently, Mary Alice has shown an interest in styling hair. Nearly every day she asks to comb and style my hair. YES!!! Other than the fact that I nearly fall asleep each day while I am reading history to her, style time during school hours is working out quite well.

Anyway...Check out today's "Victorian" hairstyle creation.

Who says stay at home moms can't be stylish?

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Christmas Card Fun

Here is our Christmas/New Year card that Taylor designed for our family. We had lots of fun making it! Even Milla thought it was fun (at first anyway). May we all continue "pressing on" to win the prize! Happy New Year!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Milla's Birthday Party Pics

Here a few pics from Milla's birthday party. We celebrated with our families. We wanted to keep things simple.

It isn't in these pictures, but I can attest to the fact that Milla loved the special red velvet cake that her DAD made for her. :) She wasn't quite sure about it at first, but eventually ended up covered in crumbs of red velvet and cream cheese icing.

Milla's sweet cousin Ranger...

Ranger and his Mom spent the night with us the other night. Milla and Ranger seem to really love being around each other. They are good buddies.

Worn out from a day of partying...

Thanks to Taylor for capturing all of these sweet pics of our girl and her special day! :)

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Safety First

Here is the lovely safety sign that Major made for us this morning.

"No Smoking and Beware of Milla!"

You never can be too careful!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

To Milla On Her First Birthday

To our sweet Milla girl on her first birthday,

I meant to write this letter to you on your actual birthday, and then, wanted to write it the day after that, but now, two FULL days after your birthday am I finally getting around to writing you what I hope will be the first of many birthday letters.

First of all, let me tell you what a treasured girl you are! Your Dad and I hoped and prayed and suffered several heartaches as we waited for you to come our way. Your middle name means "God will add." We searched for the perfect name to give Him the glory in bringing you to us. You are our precious girl, Milla Josephine, much prayed for and much loved. We are so thankful for all of the joy that you bring to our family.

A few things about you at age one:

You are a very pleasant and good-natured little girl, a real joy. You are hardly ever unhappy. Your Grumpy affectionately named you "Chilla Milla". I think it fits pretty well. You are easy to please, but definitely have a mind of your own. You really show your temper when someone (usually a sibling) gets in your face. We've had to discipline you for screaming and hitting your sister and brother on occasion. :)

You are naturally very curious and LOVE to put things into your mouth. I'm constantly telling you to "Spit it out." You are a bit of a rascal in that way, always undoing things, taking things apart, always up for an adventure. You love keeping me on my toes.

You love to eat almost everything and seem to relish your food. We hear a lot of "Mmmmm." when you put food into your mouth. The only things you really dislike are bananas and cheese. You REALLY like to drink. When we give you water, you gulp it down super fast and say, "Ahhhh."

Your Bible class teachers adore you and tell me about how much of a chatterbox you are with the other kids in Bible class. They say that you are a little parrot, repeating everything they say. They also remark on your attentiveness and interest in Bible class. You love music of all kinds and often request that I sing certain songs to you. Right now we sing all of your Bible class songs, Bye-Oh-Baby, and your Milla songs with Milla words (Auld Lang Syne, Jesus Name Above All Names, and Edelweiss).

People constantly tell me what a beautiful baby you are. Most often, they will comment on your pretty eyes. You love people. You still feel most comfortable with me, but love to smile at others and, as long as you feel good, are comfortable going to most people.

You love to be held and rocked. I spend so much time rocking you and singing to you each day. I'm a little bit of a softie towards you. I don't know if it is because I waited for you for so long, or because I realize how quickly time passes. Your Dad and I don't want all of your little milestones to come quickly. We know that you will be a big girl soon enough.

I do laugh at how laid back you are, especially since we no longer follow a rigid schedule with you, like we did with your two siblings. I used to think mothers like me were the negligent type, not together enough to make sure their babies got enough sleep so that their bodies and brains would grow properly. How funny it is that you are my most laid back, flexible baby yet! I am so thankful for your adaptability.

I remarked to someone the other day how I used to spend hours upon hours reading to Mary Alice and Major when they were your age. Sorry, sweet one, but you spend most of your day entertaining yourself doing such brain building activities as walking around and around the coffee table and listening to me read to the other kids. You are no less loved, and you seem to have learned so much independently.

You like watching Mary Alice and Major, and sometimes you like hanging out or playing with them, but most often they seem to get on your nerves. This might be because you don't like people to be in your face. You definitely appreciate your personal space. :)

Your language has exploded lately. You can repeat most simple words. My favorite Christmas memory this year was watching you say "Pretty!" about all things sparkly and lighted. You point at EVERYTHING and say "Pretty!" I LOVE it! Some of your favorite words are "Mama, pretty, ball, bubba, pa pa (please), ni ni (night night), ma (milk), siky (silky), bi bu (Bible), goo ga (Good girl), bigga (big girl), scat(when you sneeze) and Uh-oh."

Sweet Milla girl, I marvel at what a blessing God gave us when he entrusted us with you. I am so excited about watching you grow and change. We are so thankful and humbled to be your guardians and looking forward to seeing what you will become.

Here are a few words from one of your Milla songs.

"Milla girl, sweet Milla girl"
"You're an answer to prayer,"
"Sent from above, it's you we love"
"You're the best one I've ever seen."
"May you know as you live and grow,"
"God forsakes you never."
"May you be wise,"
"See others through God's eyes,"
"And bring Him glory forever."

That last line is my prayer for you Milla girl. God has a purpose for your life, sweet girl. It is my prayer that you would bring Him glory...always.