On naming our third child

These blankets I knit for my babies take a long time. 130 stitches per row, 238 rows, all on 4.5mm needles. I’ve knitted 93 rows so far, and I just have eight more rows before I’ll need to start purling the initial. That means we need to finalize the name for this baby.


I love talking about baby names. I’ll talk about names for my baby, your baby, boy names, girl names. I think it’s the dreaming aspect of it. New babies are so very exciting — let’s name them all.

Here’s how we named our first two kids. When I was pregnant with David, we didn’t know his gender. We picked a boy name and a girl name and, when he was born, he got the boy name. When I got pregnant with Mary Virginia, we found out she was a girl so we used the girl name we had waiting in the wings.

Now we’re out of names. For some reason, girl names are easier for me — I have twelve girl names ready and I could easily come up with more. But boy names? David. That’s my only boy name.

Naming our third child has been harder than our first two. Perhaps because, now that we have children, we know more kids, so now we have associations with names that would have been on our list.

Tom and I like names that are classic, Biblical, and are family names. The last one is probably the most important; David Andrew and Mary Virginia are both meaningful family names.

When we asked David what we should name this baby, there was a teeny tiny part of me that hoped he’d come out with something that we’d like. His suggestion, of course, was that we name the baby Caleb. In his defense, that definitely counts as a family name.

We’re pretty sure we have a name, but we still have about seven weeks (or, more pressing, eight rows) to change our minds.

Are we the only ones who have a harder time naming second, third, fourth children? How did you decide on names for your children?

And, while you’re at it, we’re open to suggestions.

We’re calling this our Mothball-calypse

My clothesline is full of tiny little clothes.

mothballs 1

Before you get sentimental looking at these ruffle-bottomed sleepers, onesies with doggies and teeny-tiny swaddles, let me tell you: if the Internet could somehow transmit smell, you’d be frantically covering that vent on your computer right now.

mothballs 2

These clothes look sweet, but my goodness they smell. After two washes and over 48 hours on the clothesline, they’re getting back to normal. But we still have a ways to go. This is what happened.

mothballs 3

As David grew out of clothes, I did what every fiscally responsible parent does, I kept them organized, clean, packed them in labeled, tightly-sealed Rubbermaid containers, and put them up in the attic. A few months later, we needed something, so we opened our neatly-organized containers, and gasped in horror. A mouse family had made a nest in the clothes. My sweet, organized baby clothes were chewed and stained.

By the way, if you tell your friends that mice can get into Rubbermaid containers, your friends will be appalled. But if you tell Google, Google will roll its eyes and say, “OMG, you didn’t know that? Maybe you should stop spending so much time watching reality TV.”

Before putting the boxes back in the attic, we had to figure out how to mouse-proof them. I did some research, talked to some people, glared at my cat, and decided to store our clothes with mothballs. Forty years ago this would be a n0-brainer, but this is 2015 — there are people who don’t let their kids eat Goldfish because they have too many chemicals. We bought a box of mothballs and some giant Ziploc bags to protect the clothes. Our plan was that the clothes would never even touch the mothballs.

We folded, organized, and packed the clothes in the Ziplocs, sprinkled some mothballs around the sealed bags, put them back in the original Rubbermaids, and shipped the boxes up to the attic — high-fiving all the while at how we outsmarted those mice.

A few months later, just before Mary Virginia was born, we pulled the boxes back down from the attic. No mice! But my goodness, it smelled like the mothballs made a nest and had a hundred mothball babies. The boxes smelled so bad that we had to put them out in the yard. And we hadn’t even opened them. I’m surprised they weren’t glowing.

We took out all the mothballs, threw them into the Crack of Doom in Mordor, and started washing clothes. That didn’t help, so we washed, soaked, and hung them on the clothesline. We Googled, we checked Pinterest for ideas. We washed them with vinegar, with baking soda, we did an “anti-mothball-smell” dance around the clothes.

Keep in mind, these aren’t just clothes. They’re maternity clothes, newborn clothes, blankets and bibs for my babies. And this isn’t just an odor, it’s toxic fumes. 

Slowly, the smell faded. Fresh air seems to be the best strategy. We wash, hang, wash, so many time I lose count, then eventually wash a few mothballed items with a load of regular clothes. Then and only then do we put things in the drawers and on our bodies. Thankfully, the smell seems to leave natural fabrics most easily and most of my baby stuff if cotton, but fleece swaddles and stretchy maternity clothes are more challenging. Some things I’ve just had to pitch.

From now until May, I’ll be washing, hanging and repeating. Eventually, though, we’ll put this stuff back in the attic without mothballs…and I’m nervous. I know this sounds crazy, but if I had to choose between a) throwing out clothes that have been chewed up and stained with mouse filth and b) washing and re-washing clothes for two straight months…I sort of choose the latter. But actually, I choose neither.

We have entire boy and girl wardrobes in our attic, from baby clothes to hand-me-downs that they haven’t even grown into yet. And next time I unpack it I don’t want to go into the attic and see a raccoon family having a tea party, wearing Mary Virginia’s bonnets.

How do you guys store baby clothes?

Month Twenty-one

These posts are getting harder and harder to write, and it’s not just because I’m getting lazier with each passing month.

It’s because Mary Virginia as grows, she’s becoming more singular and harder to articulate.

There are two things on my mind as I finally sit down to write this update, almost two weeks after she turned 21 months old. First, she’s the same age David was when she was born. That blows my mind, because back then I thought David was so grown up — so capable — but I think of her as a baby. Even though — partially because she has an older brother — she’s way more mature than he was at his age. But with her sweet chubby wrists and wispy hair, all I see is my baby girl.

Second, Mary Virginia is currently screaming in her crib, resisting a much-needed nap. Just keep that in mind, because these skipped naps? They aren’t good for my nerves. As I write this and listen to her scream, know my blood pressure is rising by the minute, and any nice thing I have to say about her is coming from a deep, deep place of love.

21months 3

Mary Virginia is wiley, opinionated, and so very smart. She is dear, loves to sing songs, play with her doll-dolls, and cuddle. If they can exist completely at the same time, she is both ornery and sweet, and…well, maybe a quick story about her would help.

The other day I was changing her diaper and she was enraged, screaming: I NO LIKE THE DIAPER! NONONONONO! She was arching her back, flipping, kicked a box of wipes to the floor and WOULD NOT LAY STILL FOR EVEN A SECOND. I was trying to hold it together and distract her with songs, a story, tickets to a Justin Bieber concert if she would CHILL OUT. And right when I was at the end of my rope she stopped, smiled, and said, “Mama. Can you kiss my belly button?”

Why, yes, yes you little monster, it would be my delight.

Or once Tom was working late and she wouldn’t go to sleep. It was an hour past bedtime and she was employing all of her manipulation tactics –“Inna sing humpty dumpty ashes…I no like that blanket!…I need milk!…Inna sing Davin’s song…I need a snack!…I need my blanket!”

I was  sticking to our bedtime rules — she’s great at manipulation so once she goes to bed we do not pick her up, sing songs, get snacks, and we do NOT place and replace the blanket ad nauseam until it is 45 degrees to the right and a half an inch off center, juuuuust how she likes it. But then I got desperate and broke the first rule — I picked her up. She looked at me and asked, “Where’s Da-da?” I responded, “Da-da is at work.” She rested her head on my shoulder and sighed, “I wish da-da home.”

21months 2

Mary Virginia talks almost non-stop and uses new words and phrases every day. She also parrots nearly everything Tom, David, and I say. So when Tom says, “Um, Amanda, didn’t we have an entire box of ice cream yesterday? What happened? It’s empty now.” Before I can answer, I hear a tiny little voice repeat, “Wha happen? ‘S empty!”

The other day I was holding her and I stood up and slammed my head on the corner on the cabinet. It really, really hurt, but even so, I’m not proud of what came out of my mouth. Especially since, well after my head stopped throbbing, Mary Virginia was prancing around the house shouting profanities.

21months 1

She also picks up on songs and games remarkably well. I know this is pretty normal for kids, but it seems amazing to me because of how resistant David was to songs. Anytime I tried to sing the alphabet to him, he’d scream at me, so he didn’t learn to sing it until he went to school. But Mary Virginia? She already knows half the song, and she’d probably know more except that whenever she tries to sing, David screams at her.

She isn’t very interested in TV, but when she does watch it she learns the characters names and will tell me about them. And if she’s, for example, watching Abby’s Flying Fairy School, and all the fairies are in some sort of conundrum, she screams at the TV, “OH NO!!! WHAT’S GON HAPPEN?”

And I promise, PROMISE, I’m not comparing my kids. I know it seems that way, but they’re just so different, it’s impossible to compare them. They’re SO different, I can already see a future of punishing one child by not allowing them to go to the school dance and punishing the other by making them go. And, yet they share a love of walking into a room full of toys, and fighting to the death over that one thing that neither of them have played with in two months.


Perhaps Mary Virginia’s most annoying quality is how opinionated about clothes she is. Every day is a battle to get her dressed, from shirts and pants to socks and shoes.

And because she is both smart and manipulative, she doesn’t just cry when she doesn’t like an outfit, she pulls at it and screams, “OW! IT HURTS! MY SHIRT HURTS!”

How am I supposed to ignore that?

I’ll tell you how. I can ignore it because one second she’s pulling at her dress like there’s broken glass in the collar, and then I tell her that she’s wearing a doll-doll dress and she starts prancing around the room like a Miss Teen USA contestant.

21months 4

She says the same thing when we put her in the car. She tells me her bottom hurts and the straps are too tight. And even if I have checked, double-checked and am so confident that her straps are NOT pinching her and are NOT too tight that I would bet the last swig of my Diet Coke on it…that sort of protest is hard to ignore.

So instead of ignoring it, I do what I taught David to do back when she was born 21 months ago and would cry, nonstop, in the car. Instead of screaming at her, I told him to sing to her. So that’s what I do, when she’s screaming protests from her carseat, I start to sing. And soon enough, she starts to sing along.

21months 5

Dear Mary Virginia,

You’ve always been such a mama’s girl, and recently I’ve started to worry about it. It’s hard for me now because carrying you all day at this stage of pregnancy puts a physical strain on me. And later, when this baby comes, I won’t be as available to you, and I’m not sure how you’ll handle that. I’ve been worrying about you, and praying about the transition. And slowly, slowly, you’re starting to become a bit more independent. And this month, instead of bemoaning your clinginess, I’ve realized how much I enjoy your company. Before I get up to go to another room, I announce the task and you respond by grabbing my finger and saying, “Let’s GO!” We chat, I help you wrap your doll-doll in a blanket, and answer you when you ask, “What’s that sound?…What’s that?…What’s Davin doin?” and then we move on to the next thing.

I worry, sometimes, about these updates and these letters being redundant. They are, I’ve realized. I’ve said over and over that you’re chatty, you’re cuddly, you hate baths, and you’re a monster who doesn’t sleep through the night. And have I mentioned that you know several of the words to “Bohemian Rhapsody”? I don’t think I have.

Those tidbits might be weakened by redundancy, but there are two things I want fresh in your mind, that I hope you never grow tired of hearing: I love you so much, and Jesus loves you even more. Those two things, I will tell you as long as I have breath, my darling girl.



21months 6