Name Your Blend



The names that we bestow are opportunities. Opportunities to tell a story, honour our past, make a wish for the future to share aspirations, our loves and values. To be sure (depending on how seriously you take this responsibility) this is true of a parent naming a newborn child, an entrepreneur naming a new business venture or product or a well-established company naming a new product offering.

Over the years I have seen parents turning to formal, organized focus groups and Facebook polls to seek help and guidance to choose the perfect moniker for their new baby. Starbucks is one of my favourites for coffee and for names. Many of the names that they have given to their blends and products are as full of meaning – strong and rich, just like the coffee that they brew.

The Name Your Blend Contest, marks the first time in Starbucks’ history that they are turning the naming rights over to the public. In inviting their fans and consumers to name, they send a message of trust and loyalty and it is also an invitation to be part of their history. Starbucks is looking to rename the Veranda Blend, which since it’s launch one year ago, has been the most popular of all of their brewed coffees in Canada. You can enter and find out all of the contest details at

Part of coming up with the perfect name is knowing as much as you can about it. I’ve put together some highlights about Veranda to give you the background and details that will get you started.

• Veranda is one of the first coffees Starbucks introduced as part of their Blonde brews last year
• The Blonde Brews were crafted with Canadians in mind after a survey of Canadian coffee drinkers revealed that 60% prefer a ‘lighter’ coffee, which Starbucks did not offer
• Blonde is for the coffee drinkers that think that they don’t like Starbucks, known for it’s dark and rich brews
• While Blonde has been well received globally, in Canada, it is more popular that anywhere else
• Canadians drink more than twice as much Blonde as Americans
• Key words Starbucks uses to describe Veranda: mellow, mild, soft, subtle

The name and the story behind the name Veranda is a good one:

“Roasting this blend of specially chosen Latin American beans for a shorter time allows the delicate nuances of soft cocoa and lightly toasted nuts to blossom. Mellow and flavourful, this coffee brews a delightfully gracious cup that’s perfect for welcoming friends. With its calm and laid-back character, this coffee pays homage to the art of porch-sitting. Named for the serene terraces decorating towns and neighbourhoods throughout the regions where these beans were grown, Veranda Blend is a gentle and inviting cup best served with a sunny day, a good friend and nothing in particular to do.”

I’ve put together some of my guiding principles and tips for choosing the perfect (and hopefully) winning name:

Fill it with meaning: In handing naming over to Canadians, Starbucks is looking for a name that is distinctly Canadian. The name should resonate with Canadians in a meaningful way. Think about landscapes, landmarks, moments, people, culture, identity and values for inspiration.

Evoke a feeling: From the way it sounds to the way that it looks, it should make you feel good. Think about how you feel when you’re enjoying your coffee – whether you’re enjoying a quiet moment alone either at home or at the café, engrossed in a book or a conversation with a friend.

Make it memorable: The winning name will be said, seen and heard millions of times daily across Canada as customers order, barristas pour and cashiers ring up coffees in Starbucks locations, grocery stores and homes. It has to be a name that people remember.

Let it brew: Don’t rush. Start a list of key words that describe the coffee, the experience, the feeling, the flavour, the moment. The words will start to tell a story.

Apply the KISS Rule – Keep it Short and Simple. As a general rule, the name should be no longer than 12 letters and no more than 2 words. It should be easy to spell and say. It should not be open to multiple ways to pronounce. You would hate for someone to want to order their favourite coffee and shy away from it because they don’t want to say it wrong.

Bragging rights could be yours. The winning name in Starbucks’ search to rename Veranda will appear on menu boards, packaging, signage and featured in ads. It will be one of the most common used words by customers and baristas across Canada every day.

Go pour yourself a favourite cup of coffee and let it be your muse.

I offer one last bit of inspiration for you as your coffee and your name is brewing. In his book Pour Your Heart Into It, Howard Schultz, Starbucks CEO wrote:

“We aim for the unexpected, the offbeat, the clever. My highest aim is to have not just our advertising but the entire Starbucks experience provide human connection and personal enrichment in cherished moments, around the world, one cup at a time.”

Like your name, so are you.

I recently read this quote that is in the Bible about names:

Like his name, so is he.

At 10 years old you have shown me that you have grown into all that your name means and more.  When your father and I chose your name, no one knew that 10 years later I would be a Baby Name Expert (it would seem that the day that you were born was the beginning of many things for me too).

In choosing your name we followed our tradition and named you for people that we loved who had passed away. Your first name, Hannah is for my mother’s best friend, Heather Ann. Heather passed away shortly after your father and I met and they never had the chance to meet each other. I can tell you though, that I was so happy that she knew that your father was special and it made her very happy. My mother used to say, to know Heather is to love her. That was true of her and it is true of you. Heather was warm, kind and generous. She lit up the room. I would describe you, Hannah, the same way.

Your middle name, James, is for both of my grandfathers. I never knew my father’s father, he passed away not long after my parents met. My mother’s father, however, I knew so well and I was crazy about him. He was fun to be around and always had candy in pockets. He was a deeply religious man, who went to synagogue every Saturday and a few mornings a week before he went to work. He was a hard -working man who took great pride in his business.  He was a tailor. One of my most vivid memories are the costumes that he would make himself for Halloween.  He spent hours at this sewing machine sewing together patches of fabric to make these crazy suits. What I loved the most about him is how much he loved his family – we were everything to him. He adored my grandmother since the day they met when they were teenagers.

Me and my Zadie Joe (James)

Your Hebrew name, Chana, of course, is the Hebrew version of Hannah, but more than that, it was my grandmother’s Hebrew name. My father’s mother loved to be with her family. She had 5 brothers and sisters and they were all very close. My father grew up with strong family ties, great relationships and respect for his Aunts, Uncles and Cousins. One of my favourite memories of our wedding day was seeing my father dancing with all of his cousins. I remember my grandmother as a loving and warm woman with a fantastic sense of humor and a great laugh.

And finally, your last name, Alper. While we did not choose it for you, I want to tell you a bit about what it means to me. Even after having been married for more than 12 years, when people call me “Mrs. Alper”, I think that they are talking about your grandmother. You are blessed to have this name because you share it with your grandparents and with your father and me. What the four of us have in common is that we have strong marriages and relationships. To each of us, there is nothing more important than each other and our children.  One of my greatest wishes for you is that one day (a very long time from now) your husband will be the love, strength, partnership and companionship that your father is for me, and that his parents are for each other. That is what Alper means to me.

We drove by Alper Street one day and we knew we had to take a photo. We drove down the street looking for a sign that was not on a major street and came across this one, Allgood Street. This is us. Alper/Allgood.

It is with the greatest love and joy, that I wish you Happy 10th Birthday. I’m looking forward to the next 10 years! And the 10 after that. And the 10 after that. And the 10 after that. As Bubbie Sarah would say, “Until 120″.


Back to School with Name Your Tune

From a very young age, children learn, grow and develop through and with music. As adults, we all hum the tune of the ABC song as we’re doing our filing “ABCDEFG…” (see, you’re doing it right now). Using music on a consistent basis with children can both teach and reinforce key concept and socialization. The best part is that they don’t even realize that they’re learning as they go through the motions. As you’re getting your pre-schoolers ready for school, think about how you can incorporate music into your daily routine that will excite, engage and prepare them for the day.

Each of the songs on Name Your Tune was chosen for what it would bring out in a child including learning, playing and engaging.

Songs for learning key concepts:

  • There are Seven Days ~ the days of the week
  • The Rainbow Song ~ colours
  • Mr. Sun ~ weather
  • There’s a Hole in the Garden ~ nature

Songs for playing & interacting:

  • If You’re Happy and You Know It
  • Head and Shoulders
  • Wheels on the Bus
  • Old MacDonald

One of the best things about music is that it’s always with you. Once you learn a song, you never really forget it. As a parent or care-giver, it is your greatest and most transportable tool because you always have it with you and can pull it out whenever you need an activity or a pick-me-up.

Adding Name Your Tune to your child’s music collection you get all of the above and more.  With Name Your Tune, each song is uniquely personalized to include the child’s name in every song, making them feel special and proud. What a great way to start the new school year.

Order Name Your Tune for the special pre-schooler in your life with the coupon code PRESCHOOL and receive $5 off your order. (Offer expires September 30, 2012)

Introducing Carter and Cash ~ Mom draws inspiration from The Man in Black

Things that I love: family, music and baby names that have a great story behind them.  When I met Christella Morris, whose blog is called Crawl The Line, Mom of two boys named Carter and Cash, I knew that this was a story that I needed to hear.Christella is a fan of music and since she was a little girl, loved Johnny Cash, whose music she came to love through her grandmother who raised her from an infant. Long since before she had kids, she knew the names she was going to choose for them, regardless of their gender – Carter and Cash.

Giving these names to her boys goes deeper than paying tribute to The Man in Black and his wife, June.  “I think their story, their relationship, is a great example of overcoming every obstacle to find yourself in another person. Johnny in particular overcame so many things: hardships, addiction, his past, to become a widely known and critically acclaimed artist. He had the ultimate comeback in music. I think their life and family is a great example of sticking to what you want, no matter how hard it gets.” It’s not just about the music, it’s who they were as people and a couple that also inspired her.

It came as no surprise to her family and close friends that she chose these names and for the most part, when she introduces her boys together as “Carter and Cash”, people immediately make the connection.  Sometimes, she notes, “about ten minutes into a conversation they’ll stare blankly for a minute and then be like ‘ohhhh I get it!’”

The name of Christella’s blog, that she started while pregnant with Cash, is likewise inspired by Johnny Cash. A friend had given her some onesies that said “Crawl The Line”, a reference to the movie about Johnny and June “Walk The Line”.  She explains, “When I was coming up with names for the blog, Crawl The Line was so fitting since being a parent is teaching your children how to walk the balance of life, or “walk the line.” We also all start with crawling, so it doubles as a cute name that suits my kids perfectly and a metaphor for us growing together.”

A big question that I posed to Christella was about what would she name a third baby? While she admits that she thinks that their family of four is complete, you can “never say never.” Since all of their names start with a “C” – her husband’s name is Colin – she’ll start there.  Christella and Colin both share a love of music and so thinking about naming another baby, they go down that path with the following ideas: Crosby ( paying tribute to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young), Chanson, pronounced Chan-Son (“Song” in French) and Cecilia (Simon & Garfunkel song.)

Other musically inspired names that we have come across at Name Your Tune include:

  1. Jagger
  2. Hendrix
  3. McCartney
  4. Lennon
  5. Jude
  6. Marley
  7. Cohen
  8. Presley
  9. Dylan
  10. Caroline

As sure as night is dark and day is light, I keep my eyes wide open all the time for your story on baby names.

Email me with YOUR story at


About Christella:

A twenty-something blogger and marketing maven extraordinaire, Christella loves all things teal, especially when they’re from the dollar store! Christella has two boys only 18 months apart, Cash (2) and Carter (8 months) and writes daily on her blog Crawl The Line. Her family is also currently in the midst of filming a show airing January 2013 on the Oprah Winfrey Network, Million Dollar Neighbourhood. You can find Christella on Twitter @Christella_Says

Help! People are mispronouncing my baby’s name!


Your children’s names are really the first thing that you give them that they will have for the rest of their lives. There are those mothers among us who have known what names they would give to their children since they were young, while others only start the selection process once they find out that that they are pregnant. It will be the one word that you will speak more than any other in your house (well, except for “no” during those toddler years). You choose the name and you love it. You love what it means to you, the story behind it, the feelings or memories it evokes. You’re confident that this is a name that your child will feel good about seeing one day on a diploma, business card, novel, marquee or album cover. You love the way it sounds when you say it out loud. You say it over and over and over again. Then you step out into the world and you introduce your baby to people and this happens:

My daughter’s name is Danya (Dan ya). She always gets called Donya—it SO annoys me!

We named our oldest Lilianna, hubs & I pronounce it Lily-onna, but most people pronounce it Lily-anna.

Kallum always gets Kaaaallum and Gracyn gets Gracey!!! drives me nutty!!!

Mine is a language issue, the Spanish way is the way we say it and spell it, Adriana like apple, not Adrianna like able.

Her dad has the same issue—people here in Canada say George, not Jorge. Bet they would say it right if he played for the Blue Jays!

Everywhere. When they call her name at the doctor’s office. When they sing her name in circle time in your playgroup. The first day of school and summer camp. Even your parents do it. A sign of things to come for you both. The name that sounded so lovely in your house makes you cringe and scream inside a little bit when you hear someone mispronounce it. Tomayto–Tomahto, Potayto- Potahto. Tam-air-ah Tam-ah-rah, Lily-anna Lily-onna.  But you can’t call the whole thing off.  You don’t have to. But you do need to know how to deal with it and so will your child.

  • If you can, spell the name as it sounds to you. Madalyn will never get mispronunced that way that Madeline does.
  • When in a new setting, use your child’s name often so that the people around you hear it. Hopefully they’re paying attention and they’ll catch on. “Maygan was up all night again. Maygan will need a good nap this afternoon.”
  • Take a breath before you respond to correct someone. An introduction is a first impression and you don’t want to start off making someone feel bad or awkward.
  • Ignore it. You saw it coming. You’re ready for it.  Help your child learn that his or her name might be said in different ways and help recognize it.
  • Be okay with a short form of the name that you know won’t be mispronounced. This might not work for everyone but it works for an Alexandria or Alexandra who also goes by Alex.
  • If you haven’t yet settled on the perfect name for your baby, here are some things to consider:
  • The sound that is obvious to you may not be obvious to everyone (Of course her name is pronounced Key-air-ah). Not so if you grew up with a neighbour called “Key-ah-rah.”
  • Letters, and combinations of letters, can have multiple pronunciations. Take the name Thea for example, it can be Thee-ah, but also Thay-ah, and also Tay-ah or Tee-ah.
  • Names, like all words, sound different in someone else’s city, country or accent. The name Lara sounds a lot different when someone from New York or Boston says it compared to someone from Toronto.
  • Names that are culturally or geographically common are not common everywhere. If you are not familiar with common Gaelic names, you won’t know that Niamh is Neeve and Ceilidh is Kayley.
  • Test-drive the name with friends, family and colleagues to hear how they say it. If it gets mispronounced more often than not either go back to your list or decide that you’re going to be ready to deal with it.

If there is one area of baby names that I am an extreme expert in, it’s pronunciation. It’s what we do at Name Your Tune. For us it’s always about how a name sounds. We have implemented as many checkpoints as we can to ensure that every child hears their name in our songs in exactly the right way to them. We require phonetic spelling on our order form, we have hints throughout our list of names like this:

Spell it your way!

Aidan and Ayden look different but sound the same.

It’s all in the way your hear it!

Annika and Aneeka and Onnika don’t sound the same

Ava and Eva start with a long A, a long E, or a short E sound

With all of these measures in place, there are still names that send out red flags.  hey are mostly names with varied and multiple pronunciations. In our experience, these are the names that most people will correct mispronunciation with the highest frequency:

  • Arielle
  • Arianna
  • Adrianna
  • Kyra
  • Kiera
  • Madeline
  • Kara
  • Kian
  • Mattias
  • Megan

Do your children’s names get mispronounced? How do you feel about it?


Originally published at Yummy Mummy Club

Top 10 Baby Names of 2011


May marks the release of the Top Baby Names, according to the data collected by US Social Security Administration. There is not a Canadian equivalent available of this data, but given the close relation of our culture, I’m quite confident that the results would be similar.

I see baby names every day and some days, weeks, and months, I note that some are more popular than others, and the popularity of some names grow while others fade. The Top 10 Baby Names, according to the US Social Security Administration, held few surprises for me.

So, like I said, there were few surprises, but that’s not to say that there were none. Mason broke into the Top 10 this year (last year it was at #12). There might be some weight given to the popularity of the name owed to the Kardashians. Kourtney Kardashian named her son Mason at the end of 2009 and since we hear so much about the Kardashians, the name Mason might have just squeezed its way into the subconscious of new parents. Chloe has been in Top 10 since 2008 and it might interest you to note that Chloe with a K cracked the Top 50 in 2010. Keeping Up With The Kardashians premiered in 2007.

I wanted to take a closer look at a few of the Top 10 Baby Names and found some interesting statistics:

  • Michael debuted on the Top 10 in 1943 and has not left the list since then. From 1954 through 2010, Michael has been in the Top 3. This year it fell to 6th place.
  • Jacob first appeared in the Top 10 in 1993 and has been in the Top 3 since 1996.
  • The boy names seem to have a longer staying power on these Top 10 lists than the girl names do. Sophia debuted in the Top 10 in 2006 and cracked the Top 3 in 2009. Isabella first appeared on the Top 10 in 2004 and has been in the Top 3 since 2007.

I wanted to note that there are a few names that through my business—Name Your Tune, where we make personalized CDs for children—I have seen gaining popularity. While they might not be on the Top 10 lists, some of the names that we are seeing a lot of lately include:


Isaac, Kayden, Austin, Gabriel, Benjamin.


Isla, Charlotte, Maya, Hannah, Evelyn, Addison.

Did you consider these lists of popular names when you were choosing your baby’s name? Did you decide to keep or toss a name from your own list of names, because they are on these lists?


Originally published at Yummy Mummy Club

A Name Story ~ When everything falls into place

I met Chrystina and her son Lev at The Babytime Show last spring. We had a long talk about his name and the meaning behind it. I have held on to this special name story to share at just the right moment. With Valentine’s Day coming up, I thought the timing was perfect to share the story about how little Lev was given his name, as told by his Mom:

Here’s the story behind our son, Lev’s, name. I must admit, it’s a good one :)

A little background on my husband and I. My husband Aaron is Canadian with German and Irish blood (mixed with some Native American and Canadian Indian on both sides), although his family has been here since the 1700′s. I was born in Canada, but blood-wise, I am 100% Ukrainian. My father is from Lviv, the Western, patriotic capital of Ukraine and all my grandparents are also from Western Ukraine.

Several of Aaron’s male relatives bear the name Richard, so we knew from the start that our baby boy’s middle name would be Richard.
We wanted a Ukrainian first name for our son.  We wanted to honour my heritage and it would allow for a traditional name that—in Canada—would be unique.  We didn’t want something different just for the sake of being different. Our top four choices were: Nykolai, Roman, Theodore (pronounced TEH-OH-DOOR) and Lev.  We couldn’t decide on one name because we loved them all, so I proceeded to research each name, starting with Lev.

I speak Ukrainian, so I already knew that Lev means ‘lion’ in Ukrainian.  This is partly why Lev was on our list: our son is a Leo and my husband and I LOVE animals, especially cats.  I also knew that the city that my father’s from—Lviv—is named after the founder’s son, Lev Halytsky.  A quick online search revealed that Lev means ‘heart’ in Hebrew, an undisputedly beautiful word, which appeals to the yogi side of my character.  My spiritual and yogi friends also adore how Lev also sounds a lot like ‘love’.  My online search also revealed that Lev is short for Leviticus (as in the Book of Leviticus in the Old Testament) and the Leviticus priesthood is descended from none other than Moses’s brother, Aaron.  This fact took my breath away: ‘This is unbelievable’ I thought to myself, ‘Lev is descended from Aaron and Aaron’s my husband’s name!’

I called my husband immediately and shared with him this amazing information.  It’s at this point that we decided we’d name our son Lev.  “If we don’t”, we thought to ourselves, “surely we’d get struck down by lightening.”  It was a nice touch that naming our son Lev Richard (in other words, the ‘lion-hearted’ Richard) would also reflect my husband’s love of Medieval history.

 Fast-forward to three-and-a-half-months after my son’s birth.  I was reading Eat, Pray, Love and Elizabeth Gilbert was explaining how in the Balinese culture it is not the your birth date that’s important, rather it’s the day of the week that you are born that bears significance.  She used Thursday as an example.  This piqued my interest because Lev was born on a Thursday.  Gilbert explains a bit about Thursday’s child and she goes on to say that he has two guiding animal spirits—the lion and the tiger.  This floored me!  Not only is Lev a Leo, but—according to the Chinese calendar—he’s a tiger!  What’s more, he was born in 2010 and this was an auspicious year in that it was the year of the white tiger, which happens only ever 60 years.

So that’s my humble story of my Little Lev’s not-so-humble name. I don’t think I have to tell you that we’re stumped for names should there be a baby number two!


I love a good name story! Are you ready to share yours? Email me at

I would love to make a monthly feature sharing your stories here.


Gender Benders – When a name can go either way

If you recieved the above-pictured birth announcement, would you call your friend to congratulated them on the birth of the son? Their daughter? Or would you remain neutral and say baby? (image provided by Lindsay Brewda of Grace Announcements).

When I was writing the lyrics for Name Your Tune I took special care that every song, every mention, was gender neutral so that little boys and little girls named Jordan could have the same set of personalized songs.  You see, we don’t have a box to check off that asks if Skylar is a boy or a girl, we knew the trends were moving in that direction and they have been for some time.   It didn’t occur to me until last month when Jessica Simpson named her daughter, that I would ever question whether to use my “boy” or “girl” giftwrap for Maxwell Drew.

I saw the Twitter stream explode with the news that this much-anticipated baby girl had been born…and then, given a boy’s name. Interesting, I thought. It’s not the usual gender-mixing of names that I see often. Then it occurred to me that my daughter’s middle name is James, to honour my grandfather, just like my brother’s son.  Following the breaking news a little further and deeper revealed the meaning behind her choice: Maxwell is her husband’s middle name and Drew is her mother’s maiden name.  So it has meaning for the new parents and their families and this little girl named Maxwell will grow up knowing that she was named after people that she loves and that love her.  I’m going to predict that Maxwell Drew will go through her life encountering looks and comments of surprise when she arrives at an appointment or a meeting and they were expecting a boy or a man.  She’ll get used to it or it will frustrate her. That will be up to her. You see, that is always the burden and the gift of our name.

Sometimes the spelling of a name will give clues to the gender of the bearer such as spelling Sidney (boy) or Sydney (girl), Cameron (boy) or Camryn (girl), Charlie (boy) and Charlee (girl). But those sneaky and once-though clever y’s, double e’s and silent h’s don’t always give it away. Sometimes they make it even more blurry.

While Maxwell Drew assuredly is the most uncommon gender-bender I’ve come across, I’ve put together a list of other names assures me that I made the right decision to go gender-neutral for Name Your Tune and that make me go to my box of giftwrap with multi-coloured polkadots instead of flowers:

  1. Jordan
  2. Quinn
  3. Ryan
  4. Taylor
  5. Riley
  6. Rowan
  7. Morgan
  8. Payton
  9. Jamie
  10. Emery
  11. Teagan
  12. Avery
  13. Logan
  14. Sydney
  15. Finley
  16. Jayden
  17. Emerson
  18. Charlie
  19. Dani
  20. Mackenzie
  21. Devon
  22. Harley
  23. Casey
  24. Spencer
  25. Corey

There are two things that always come to mind when I think about these gender benders.

My favourite gender bender story is that of the (male) Enlgish writer, Evelyn Waugh.  He married Eveyln Garnder and when she took his surname, they were both Evelyn Waugh. Their friends called them “He-velyn” and “She-velyn”.

Then there’s this, “A Boy Named Sue”, by Johnny Cash. A little known fact about this song: It was written by Shel Silverstein. Here are some of the lyrics.

My daddy left home when I was three

And he didn’t leave much to ma and me

Just this old guitar and an empty bottle of booze.

Now, I don’t blame him cause he run and hid

But the meanest thing that he ever did

Was before he left, he went and named me “Sue.”


Well, he must o’ thought that is quite a joke

And it got a lot of laughs from a’ lots of folk,

It seems I had to fight my whole life through.

Some gal would giggle and I’d get red

And some guy’d laugh and I’d bust his head,

I tell ya, life ain’t easy for a boy named “Sue.”

Well, I grew up quick and I grew up mean,

My fist got hard and my wits got keen,

I’d roam from town to town to hide my shame.

The story of “A Boy Named Sue” and the follow up from the father’s perspective that Shel Silverstien wrote years later, “The Father of A Boy Named Sue”, illustrates that the name was given in hopes that Sue would grow up to be strong and tough – the antithesis of the feminine name.

Did you give you child a gender-bender of a name? What was your motivation?


Originally published at Yummy Mummy Club

Top 10 Celebrity Name Changes

Top 10 Celebrity Name Changes


There are 100s of celebrities who have changed their names because they needed something easier, shorter, more exotic, less ethnic.

These are the ones whose stories I love:

Miley Cyrus – born Destiny Hope Cyrus

A happy kid, she was given the nickname “Smiley Miley.” It stuck. She officially changed her name in 2008.

Geddy Lee – born Gary Lee Weinrib

Gary had a friend who—upon hearing his mother calling his name with her heavy Polish accent—thought she was saying Geddy. His friends all started calling him Geddy, and eventually, even his mother called him Geddy on purpose. That is how the leader of Rush got his name.

Albert Brooks – born Albert Einstein

When asked about why he changed his name, his answer is simply “Do I even have to answer that?” In January 2011 he told Esquire magazine, “I was on the defensive as soon as I got to the first class where they took roll. ‘Albert Einstein?’ All the kids would be snickering. It’s one of the three most famous names on the planet. You might as well be called Jesus Christ. Or Moses. The thing is, I liked the name Albert. I just couldn’t use it with Einstein. So I changed the last name when I thought I could really accomplish something, and I didn’t need that name to be funny.”

Ann Rice – born Howard Allen

In a question and answer session with fans on her website, the author answered the question about her name, “My birth name is Howard Allen because apparently my mother thought it was a good idea to name me Howard. My father’s name was Howard, she wanted to name me after Howard, and she thought it was a very interesting thing to do. She was a bit of a Bohemian, a bit of mad woman, a bit of a genius, and a great deal of a great teacher. And she had the idea that naming a woman Howard was going to give that woman an unusual advantage in the world.” She became Ann when asked by a nun on the first day of school what her name was and first the first thing that came to her was Ann.

Cary Grant – born Archibald Leach

When he arrived in Hollywood from England in 1931, he changed his name to Cary Lockwood based on a character he had played on stage. Upon signing with Paramount Pictures he was told that his chosen name was too close to another actor. They gave him a list of surnames to choose from. Legend has it that he chose Grant based on what his initials would be—C.G. He thought them to be lucky given the success of Clark Gable and Gary Cooper.

Michael Caine – born Maurice Micklewhite

When choosing his stage-name he first settled on Michael because he liked the way it sounded. Rumour has it that he settled on Caine when he saw a cinema marquee for “The Caine Mutiny” and he liked the way it sounded. He has joked that had he looked in the other direction, his name might have been Michael 101 Dalmations.

Judy Garland – born Frances Ethel Gumm

She and her two sisters used to perform vaudeville shows at which they received muffled laughter from audience when their names were announced.  Judy chose her name based on a song that she favoured at the time. There are several stories about how Garland came to be: the trio were hailed as being more beautiful than a “garland of flowers” or that it was chosen to flatter a drama critic, Robert Garland, hoping to receive good reviews.

Elvis Costello – born Declan Patrick MacManus

Costello was his great-grandmother’s maiden name that his father adopted as a stage name for himself.  In his early career, he went by DP Costello. Upon signing his first record contract, his management team decided to drop the “DP” in favour of rock ‘n’ roll’s most famous icon.  For a newly signed artist, no matter how talented, that is a lot to live up to.

Elton John – born Reginald Kenneth Dwight

Early in his music career he chose his new name by combining the names of two bandmates of first group—Bluesology—sax player Elton Dean and frontman Long John Baldry. Really, not the most dramatic story for one of the most dramatic and colourful performers in music history. It does, however, say a lot about honouring relationships that are meaningful to him.

Alicia Keyes – born Alicia Augello Cook

Undoubtedly one of the most talented R&B peformers of her genereation, she started piano lessons at the age 7, was accepted at the Professional Performing Arts School at 12 and graduated as valedictorian at 16.  Her chosen surname, is a tribute to her passion and first love—her piano.


Originally published at Yummy Mummy Club

Baby Names and Branding ~ A Conversation with Branding Expert, Samantha Ettus

Social Media provides a space for me to work and play. I have always seen it as an open field—an opportunity throughout the course of my day, evening, or insomnia-laden night to meet, discuss, source, promote, and learn. One of the first people that I ‘met’ on Twitter was Samantha Ettus (@SamanthaEttus). Samantha is a leader and expert on personal branding and working moms. I was drawn in by her tweets, which led me to her blog, and we would connect on Twitter to check in and say hello.

Late one night, trying to get to sleep, I was flipping channels on the TV—as I frequently do to get my mind to quiet down—and there she was! It was the premiere episode of Rosie Pope’s show on Bravo, Pregnant in Heels.  Samantha was pregnant with her third baby—her first son—and the episode was centred around choosing the perfect name for her new baby. She and her husband came up with a list of ‘rules’ that included: easy to spell, not too popular, not decorative, not starting with E or R (as her daughters’ already do), and not ending in the letter S. What followed was a production that included a focus group of various experts in different fields, a dinner party to vet the short-list, and some serious talk about what her son’s name would say to the world about her, her family, and how it would set him up for life.

I had a chance to sit down with Samantha to talk through her thoughts and experience searching for a name on reality TV.

Candace: Your baby’s name as a brand and a first impression—I love this. What were some of your ‘rules’ and ‘wants’ when you were choosing a name?

Samantha: A child is subject to whatever name their parents choose, and common sense and studies show that a name strikes a first impression. Whether on a resume or Twitter, we make assumptions based on a name. For that reason, we didn’t just use a dart board to choose our children’s names. We didn’t want our children to spend their lives spelling their first names for people, and we wanted to give them names that were somewhat universally liked.

Was choosing baby #3′s name different than 1 and 2? Was it different because he was a he and your first two are girls?

We had gone over the top in naming our first two children, Ella and Ruby, so my husband and I felt pressure to think of what we could do that we hadn’t done before. That was where the Bravo show came into play. Baby naming is a challenge, but an important one. It is one of the few parenting decisions that lasts a lifetime, and there are remarkably few tools to help you, unless you are following a fixed set of traditions or picking from the top 10 list.

You are a Branding Expert, with a book on the baby yearsdid you really need a focus group and a dinner party to poll your friends, or was that all for the show?

We came up with the idea for the focus group and the think tank, and the producers ate it up. It was hard for us to come up with any naming things we hadn’t already done on our own. With our first baby, we sat around the pool asking friends all summer which names they liked and didn’t like. We had mixed our favourites and least favourites in advance, without revealing which was which, so that they would be honest. With our second baby, we read 14,000 baby names out loud to each other on the beach, so that we left no stone unturned. We are passionate and like to go over the top with a fun topic, like baby naming.

In the end, you went with Bowen Asher, a name that both Rosie’s focus group and dinner party didn’t favour.
How did you get there?

We did put a lot of weight on what our friends thought and what the think tank thought. As for the focus group, they loved the name Steve, which hasn’t been used for a new baby in years. Once they fell in love with Steve, we knew these were not our peeps. There is a lag in adapting to a name you haven’t heard before. What you didn’t see, two of the experts in the think tank e-mailed us after the taping to say that Bowen had emerged as their first choice!

Samantha Ettus is a bestselling author and media personality, passionate about coaching and advising working moms. Samantha hosts a nationally syndicated radio show for working moms and writes a blog for Forbes Woman. She has made over 1,000 TV appearances and speaks regularly to working moms around the country. You can find her on Twitter at @SamanthaEttus and her blog at Forbes.




My Twitter Ah-ha Moment

There are about a million reasons why I think Twitter is so great – but this was my initial “ah-ha” moment.

Eric had been @ThatEricAlper for a few months and he would be there at the computer for what felt like hours on end tweeting and retweeting. As if Facebook and all of the other social media platforms that he was involved with weren’t taking enough of his time, now this Twitter was part of his life – and by marriage – mine too. He was discovering the many opportunities and benefits that were there for the taking, one tweet at a time. He was meeting new people, networking, laughing and sharing. He sang its praises and urged me to get involved. I resisted. Strongly. I’m busy – I have a daughter, a business and a house to take care of. I had a great group of like-minded business women that I network with. I have friends to visit with that I don’t see nearly enough of. What did I need to get involved with another social media site for? He’s persistent. He’s smart. More often than not, he knows what he’s talking about. I gave in. We sat down together and got a Twitter account set up for me @NameYourTuneCDs. Still I was resistant and for the first few weeks my Twitter voice was actually Eric.

One night I gave in and sat down give Twitter my undivided positive attention. It went on for hours. I couldn’t pull myself away. The roles were reversed and it was Eric who kept coming downstairs to the office to ask “when are you coming to bed?” “you’re still at it” “ok, I’m going to sleep”. That last one was at about 2 o’clock in the morning. For the first time, our roles were reversed.

Because Eric had started my Twitter account, I was following a lot of bloggers that included social media, music, family and moms. Most of them were not people that I knew personally. It began slowly, tweets of condolence, love and support for mom whose young daughter passed away from complications that were the result of being born more than 11 weeks prematurely. Heather Spohr chronicled her pregnancy and life with Maddie through her blog The tweets grew in number, urgency and emotion. The hardest thing for a mother to witness is the loss experienced by another mother. Here were hundreds of women from across the US and Canada , reaching out to offer their support. I couldn’t tear myself away. Then, slowly, the avatars in my stream started turning purple – it was Maddie’s favourite colour.

One of my oldest and dearest friends had a little boy that lived for only a few days due to complications with his lungs. She was the first of my friends to have a baby. It was a dark moment. To this day my friend will tell you that what helped the most was knowing that there were people that were thinking about her. There was nothing we could do. All of the casseroles, lattes, loves of home-baked banana bread could not fill her loss. The love from friends and her community is what she needed.

I saw an offer from @temptingsam to help turn your avatar purple and how could I not? Within 10 minutes Samantha (who I had not met before that moment) emailed me my purple-washed avatar. That night I became part of a community of women who were rallying to support a mother in need. These women and mothers were offering support and sharing in the grief of another. I tweeted that night more than I had in the weeks since I signed up to Twitter. The relationships became real. That night it became clear to me that Twitter offered up so much more than networking and promoting. Through my eyes that night it became a place to share, to give and take. It was powerful and lasting. I get chilled and warm at the same time when I think back to that night.

Twitter also gives people the opportunity to do more than talk – it often compels people to act. In the weeks that followed dozens of Marches for Maddie were organized across the country to raise money in her memory for the March of Dimes. 

In the year-and-a-half since then I have never doubted the ROI of Twitter. The community that lives there celebrates, laughs, grieves and cries. It is a community that shares everything from struggles to triumphs and all of the mundane things that happen in between. The over-riding characteristics are support and presence. What we are need and crave the most, it’s right there on your desktop.

I have been fortunate enough to take my desktop experience of Twitter to the real world. It’s like being able to walk around on the set of your favourite movie or sitcom – but better – these people are real.


Originally published at

Name Dropping with The Bachelorette’s Trista Sutter

I love names that are unique when they hold special meaning. I recently sought out Trista Sutter, of The Bachelor and  The Bachelorette, to talk names. Trista was the runner-up on the first season of The Bachelor and was the first Bachelorette the following year. Ryan was the lucky guy to win her heart on the popular reality show and the two are happily married with two children, Maxwell and Blakesley, living in Vail, Colorado.  While finding your spouse on a TV reality show is not the most conventional, you’ll find that Trista and Ryan honour tradition in building their family and life together.

Candace:  Let’s start with you…Trista is an unusual name. Tell me how your parents chose it for you and why. Did you love it or loathe it growing up? Did your feelings about it change or grow as you grew up?

Trista: They actually just saw it in a baby book and liked it…as unspecial as that sounds.  :)  I was okay with it.  Of course I got lots of nicknames, and I never got to just buy a magnet or cup or preprinted name off those silly displays at gift stores.  I was okay with it, but definitely learned to love its uniqueness more, the more I got older.

Candace:  Maxwell Alston – what a great name. When I look it at it looks cool, powerful and serious all at the same time. Can you tell what went into choosing it for him. Is there special meaning or honor behind it?

Trista: Ryan and I both loved Maxwell from the get-go of name planning.  Alston is Ryan’s father’s middle name as well as his great great (maybe another great) grandfather’s name and we both wanted to honor our families through the kids names.

Candace:  Blakesley Grace – you know I love this. Can you tell me the story and how it felt to give her your mother’s name? Does Grace come from something special too?

Trista: Ever since I was little, I wanted to include the name “Rose” in one of my children’s names.  My mother’s name is Roseanne and my grandmother’s name is Rosemary.  The only name that Ryan REALLY liked for a girl was Grace.  We didn’t think that Grace Rose or Rose Grace sounded that great together, so in the interest of letting Ryan have the name he absolutely loved, I put more thought into it.  I really wanted to honor my side of the family, since we had honored Ryan’s by naming our son, Maxwell Alston, and one day was just throwing around names and stuck on Blakesley Grace.  We both thought it sounded perfect together.  Many people love the name, especially when they learn that it was my mother’s maiden name, but many were outspoken (and actually pretty cruel) about their dislike for it.  No matter what any critics say, we think it’s beautiful and I am thrilled to be able to honor my mom.

Candace:  Did you and Ryan agree on the names? What was the process of choosing and deciding for you?

Trista: We did. We couldn’t have gone about naming our children until we both truly loved the names, and luckily we did.

Candace: I’ve been having some great conversations with people about taking your husband’s surname when you got married. A lively dialogue on Facebook earlier this week. You took Ryan’s name. Was it an easy decision or did you debate it?

Trista: Even though I was married on television, I am very traditional in terms of that sort of thing and knew from my days as a little girl that I wanted to take on the name of the man that I married.  I love the romance and honor of it and I actually like Trista Sutter better than Trista Rehn. (Sorry dad!).


Originally published at Yummy Mummy Club

We Are Here


We are here.

We are authentic and transparent.

We are writers, bloggers, entrepreneurs, mompreneurs and mommybloggers. We are social media.

We are organized, we are hoarders, we are discombobulated.

We watch reality TV, we watch the news, we watch Glee, we watch the documentaries and soap operas.

We watch too much TV. So do our kids. We don’t watch TV at all. Neither do our kids.

We are Mac. We are PC. We have iPhones. We have Blackberries.

We wear Crocs, high heels, Uggs and Birkenstocks.

We co-sleep. We let them cry it out. We are baby-wearers.

We breastfeed. We bottlefeed. We pump. We use formula. We wanted to. We had to.

We monetize our blogs. We get sponsored to attend conferences. We pay our own way. We don’t go.

We love swag. We won’t accept swag. We’ll take this, not that.

We live in the city. We live in the suburbs.

We care about the environment, politics, healthcare, the clothes we wear,
music, pop culture and yoga.

We say zee or zed. We use the letter U when we spell colour and honour. Or we don’t.

We are happy married. We are single moms. We just got engaged.

We like classic, bluegrass, alternative, folk, jazz and pop. We’re a little bit country.

We drink coffee and tea. Starbucks and Tim Hortons. Coke and Pepsi.

We swear online as we do when we talk to our friends. We cannot imagine writing that word.

We have been here for a long time. We are new to this space.

We are huggers, kissers, hand-holders and handshakers. We keep our hands to ourselves.

We conceived the first time we tried. We have not been able to conceive at all. We had a surrogate. We adopted.

We have lost children, husbands, parents and siblings.

We had our babies at home and in hospitals. We have had c-sections. We have used doulas, midwives and had epidurals.

We have 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 children. We have no children by choice. We have no children because we can’t. We’re not ready to have children.

We homeschool. Our kids go to public school. Our kids go to private school.

We blog alone or as part of communities. We work alone. We have partners. We sell products and services.

We are successful. We are where we want to be. We’re working on getting where we want to be.

We’re moving on, up or out. We’re moving too fast. We’re not moving fast enough.

We are outspoken. We are afraid to say what we really think.

We are energetic. We are lazy. We are bored. We are inspired. We are engaged.

We are happy, content, ashamed, lonely, angry, fulfilled and searching.


Originally published at October 2011 reflecting on Blissdom Canada 2011.

Baby Names and Band Names


It’s Juno weekend in Canada and we’re getting ready to honour and celebrate our country’s diverse and talented music community. Last week was Canadian Music Week and I had the chance to talk with two musical Dads. Chris Murphy, father of two boys, is from Toronto-based Sloan, who won Best Alternative Album in 1997 for One Chord To Another, and is nominated this year for Best Rock Album forDouble Cross. Josh Zucker, father of one little girl, is from the Toronto-based hardcore punk band, F**cked Up, whose band’s very name is problematic. They are up for the Juno for Best Alternative Album this year, for David Comes To Life. I asked them about their kids’ names and, of course, I had to talk to them about the interesting choices for the names of their bands.

What are your children’s names? What inspired their names? Did you honour a special person, place, thing, or memory?

Chris: Francisco and Santiago. My grandfather’s name was Frank, and my wife Rebeccca’s father is from Mexico City, so Francisco is the Spanish Frank. I felt we couldn’t have a kid named Frank Murphy—it would be beyond boring—”Frank Murphy…CBCNews…Glace Bay.” We were frankly relieved to have the Spanish option, as there seemed to be a reason to rule out every regular old name we could think of. Rebecca’s father campaigned hard for Arturo. By the way, his name is Arturo.

Francisco was a compromise. It felt a little goofy having such an exotic sounding name attached to Murphy. Everyone who asked his name couldn’t seem to believe it when I told them. By the time Santiago was born, I was used to Francisco’s Spanish name, so it rolled off my tongue a little easier.

Josh: My daughter’s name is Lior Isadora (paternal last name) (maternal last name).

Lior is Hebrew for “I have light.”  We thought the name had a nice ring to it and had some magnitude, while being obscure enough not to sound hippyish, like “Mountain” or “Eclipse.” My grandfather’s name was Isidore and her middle name comes from him.  He had my mother and three other daughters who were all very close with him, and we knew they would play a big role in Lior’s life, so we chose to honour him by naming her after him. Everyone remembers him as kind, humble, and generous—all values we want to instill in our kid.

Both our last names are in there too, with my partner’s name getting the ever-important final position. I’m not a fan of the hyphenation thing, because it has no future to it—like two generations down the line, those names are going to start getting a bit monstrous – but I wanted her to carry both of her parents’ names. In the end, we thought my partner’s last name following “Lior” just sounded better, but I’m also in favour of just bringing back the matriarchy for last names as a rule, because it’s simple and obviously makes way more sense.

Chris, why did you choose to name your band Sloan? Is there a story there?

Chris: Our friend worked in a factory, and his French boss called him ‘the slow one,’ and his nickname became Sloan and we stole his nickname. It’s not a great story, but I will say that I am thankful that the name is maybe not cool, but at least inoffensive. Bands who think their name is hilarious—like Toad The Wet Sprocket, or Haulin’ Oats, or JFKFC, to name but a few – might be awesome, but I will never know, because their band names are too dumb.

Josh, the obvious big question is for you, since we’re here talking about names. Fucked Up —how, why did you choose to name your band?  Did you anticipate problems getting media using your name? What has the reaction been?

Josh: The band name was chosen ten years ago, way before we ever considered this a band that could get nominated for a Juno, and way before I ever could’ve conceived that I would be answering questions about how I chose my daughter’s name, on a blog called the Yummy Mummy Club. That being said, we wanted to choose a name that millions of people a day would be inadvertently exclaiming, because back then, we believed in the power of repetition and magic and the collective consciousness. From the start, people either thought the name was pure idiocy or pure genius, or that they just heard wrong. We didn’t anticipate much media commentary of any kind, but it has been fun to see the hemming and hawing and the contortions different media have resorted to over the years—from heavy use of the asterisk to the New York Times just calling us, “The band with the unprintable name.”

It will be interesting to see how CTV announces them in their category. The Juno Awards, after all, is a nationally broadcast event.

Originally published at Yummy Mummy Club

Robert Downey Jr.’s New Baby Boy: Exton Elias

Robert Downey Jr. and his wife Susan welcomed their baby boy into the world on Tuesday February 7th in Los Angeles. He surprised his wife earlier this year when he revealed the baby’s gender on Jay Leno’s night show.  But he managed to keep the name to himself until after he was born: Exton Elias Downey. The couple have yet to reveal the meaning behind the unique name choice. It could be that the Downeys are fans of Shakespeare and chose the name based on Sir Pierce of Exton from his Richard II.

Elias is Hebrew, Greek and English in origin and means My God is the Lord. Robert Downey Jr. Has an 18-year-old son who also has a unique name: Indio.

If you love Shakespeare, here are some names that are a little more (ahem) mainstream than Exton:

Adam – As You Like It

Angus – Macbeth

Anne – Henry VII

Anthony– Henry VII

Antonio – TheTempest, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Merchant of Venice

Ariel – The Tempest

Audrey – As You Like It

Beatrice – Much Ado About Nothing

Bianca – Othello

Bianca – Taming of the Shrew

Brandon– Henry VII

Cassio – Othello

Charles – As You Like It

Claudio – Much Ado About Nothing

Corin – As You Like It

Curtis – Taming of the Shrew

Dennis – As You Like It

Duncan – Macbeth

Emilia – Othello

Francisco – Hamlet

Frederick – As You Like It

Helena – A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Henry – Henry VII

Iris – The Tempest

Jessica – Merchant of Venice

Joseph – Taming of the Shrew

Julia – The Two Gentlemen of Verona

Juliet – Romeo and Juliet

Katherina – Taming of the Shrew

Katherine – Henry VII

Lennox – Macbeth

Leonardo – Merchant of Venice

Malcolm – Macbeth

Margaret – Much Ado About Nothing

Miranda – The Tempest

Nathanial – Taming of the Shrew

Nerissa – Merchant of Venice

Nicholas – Taming of the Shrew

Nicholas – Henry VII

Oliver – As You Like It

Ophelia – Hamlet

Orlando – As You Like It

Patience – Henry VII

Peter – Taming of the Shrew

Phillip – Taming of the Shrew

Portia – Merchant of Venice

Romeo – Romeo and Juliet

Rosalind – As You Like It

Ross – Macbeth

Sebastian – The Tempest

Siliva – The Two Gentlemen of Verona

Stephano – Merchant of Venice

Thomas – Henry VII

William – As You Like It


Originally Published at Yummy Mummy Club.

What Your Baby’s Name Says About YOU


Many different things go into the mix when parents set out to choose a name for their baby.  You want it to fit you, your family, your brand.  Our loves, our past, our hopes, our philosophies are deeply tied not to the names that we have ourselves, but to the names that we give our children.

Names are often the first thing that people learn about us because our name is on a list of appointments, attendees or members.  It is likely that some conclusions will be drawn, based on a name on a piece of paper, before you even walk into the room. Because you are the one who gave this name, it is a reflection of you and those preconceptions will often be about you. As your baby grows and is out there, independent in the world, those preconceptions will become about them.

Here’s a rundown of what your baby’s name might tell the world about you:



These are the names that are most traditional—they have a long tradition in a family, religion or culture. These names are often chosen out of honour—a family member or tradition. They are also ‘can’t go wrong’ names.

Jack, James, Emma, Hannah, Matthew, David, Joshua, Sophia, Jacob



This one is about the name itself but it can also be about unique spellings of more common names.  At the top of the list of names that are famous for being different include Gwyneth Paltrow’s Apple and Moses, Jason Lee’s Pilot Inspektor and Casper. It’s not just celebrities though—we have seen our fair share too, including Pirate, Byrd and Cinnamon.

Poet, Pippa, Rhapsody, Django, Morgandy, Lyric, Maverick, Dukalyn, Brick

Modifying the spelling of what might otherwise be considered a traditional name lets it be known that you have a flair for the unique. Twists on conventional spellings include exchanging an I or an E for a Y,  using an IE instead of a Y, exchanging a K for a C, adding an extra A or using a silent H.

Lucie, Aaden, Khate, Khloe, Justyn. Baylie, Abigayle, Liya, Cayla


You are “GREEN”

These names are some of my favourites when imagining what the parents are like. I imagine that they are vegetarian or vegan, they love to hike and do yoga, they have been using reuseable shopping bags for their groceries before it was fashionable and they would probably rather go camping than to Disney World.

Cedar, Oak, Ocean, Zen, Lotus, Maple, Leaf, Lake, River, Harvest



These are names that might be handed down through family history or surnames being given as first names. These names might also come from a special time or place, such as the little boy named Rigley, “yes, for Wrigley Field,” explains a new father, “My dad were big Cubs fans and some of my greatest memories of childhood are there, with him.” These are also names of special places.

Hudson, Anderson, McGregor, Sheridan, Smith, Dublin, Bauer, Maclean



These names tend to reflect current trends in pop culture and entertainment. An increase in the names Bella and Edward of Twilight fame, are an example. Also in this category are names influenced by celebrities, music and literature, such as the little boy named Hendrix, “yes, as in JIMI,” his Dad smiles.  Another strong example here would include Mariah Carey naming her daughter Monroe, after Marilyn Monroe, one of her greatest inspirations.

Lennon, Lennox, Costello, Coltrane, Farley, Huckleberry, Moby



When a name is from your families ties to their culture, heritage, religion or ‘home’ it shows a strong connection to where you come from. These names might be popular cultural names or spellings or they might be names that are rich with meaning. These names might say something to people about your family history.

Mohammed, Hadassah, Ceildh, Bjorn, Dimitri, Mordechai, Prianka


With all of this in mind, preconceptions are just that. They are an idea or an opinion formed before acquiring adequate information or experience.  You might not fit into any of these categories, or you might fit in to more than one. What is clear about all of them is that much time, thought, consideration and love went into choosing them. Each and every one.

What does your baby’s name say about you?


Celebrating Special Days without Cupcakes at School

There are so many ways that make the school that our kids go to different than the school that we went to. I took peanut butter and jam sandwiches for lunch and my friend took tuna fish—we shared and traded half–for-half. My mother sent boxes of assorted Timbits for the whole class on my birthday. It was all good.

It’s not like this anymore.

Food and diet are hot-button issues for parents these days. Many of us have children on special or restrictive diets because their health and wellness require it.  These includeallergies and intolerances as well as those on special diets that regulate behavior.  There are others that are on all-natural, sugar-free, vegetarian, or vegan diets because the parent believes it to be the right choice for their child and their family.

The values that we want to see include inclusivity, respect and honour. Really, I think that these are the values that we all want to see instilled in our children and their environment. When you send treats to school for your son or daughter’s birthday, these pillars shake and slowly but surely begin to crumble. This is not about nuts—peanuts, tree nuts or seeds of any kind. I think that we’re all on board with the nut-free policies that have been implemented to protect and safeguard the health and well-being of children affected by these anaphylactic allergies.

Here’s the thing. When you send treats to school to celebrate a birthday or occasion or holiday like Valentine’s Day, Halloween or Christmas, those values that we hold dear and true—inclusivity, respect, security, safety and honour—are at risk.

The treats might be nut-free, but that’s not enough. A quick question on Facebook reveals a list of some of the allergies, intolerances, and dietary restrictions that might be present in your child’s class:

Red dye, nuts, eggs, raw fruits and vegetables, pineapple, shellfish, latex, soy, dairy, coconut, whole grain, strawberries, sesame seeds, corn, avocado, wheat, gluten, sugar, oats, bananas, peaches, sulpha, raw fish, potatoes, birch, chocolate, bacon, red pepper

These lists are not sent home at the beginning of the school year. It has to be enough to know that they exist. It has to be enough to know that what you are sending may not be safe enough, healthy enough or inclusive enough.  A look at the list above list shows that not everyone’s version of healthy is the same.  One kid feeling left out because they can’t eat the cute cupcakes, cookies or donuts, is too many.

Some scenarios to consider:

  • Jack’s feelings will be hurt because he can’t eat the treats with all of his friends.
  • Emma eats the treats even though she knows that she is not supposed to and goes home sick to her stomach. Maybe because she ate something that didn’t agree with her or maybe because she knows how mad Mama would be if she knew.
  • The supply teacher didn’t know that Sophia is not supposed to have dairy.
  • A group of kids get mad at your kid because Kaden was upset that he didn’t get to have the birthday treats.
  • The teacher is distracted because the kids are distracted dealing with the fallout of “to eat or not to eat.”

This can all be avoided.  In order to protect the health and needs of ALL students in your child’s class and school, as parents, we need to find new ways to celebrate special days.  Here are some to consider:

  • Non-food treats—pens, pencils, erasers, and stickers. All students can use more of these.
  • A donation and presentation of a new book, board games or activity for the class for a rainy day lunch or recess in honour of the birthday boy or girl.
  • A donation in honour of your child and his or her class to an organization special to them. If they’ve been studying animals—The zoo or if they’ve been learning about Terry Fox, donate to his foundation. These are meaningful causes.
  • Show and Tell for the birthday boy or girl where they share a special birthday memory, what they loved about their last year and what they’re looking forward to for their new year ahead.
  • Send all of your child’s favourite foods for lunch, include a card in their lunchbag “can’t wait for your birthday dinner and cake tonight.”

So much has changed since my friend and I traded and shared our sandwiches. What remains the same is that as parents, we want the best for our kids and the ones that they sit next to.


Originally published at Yummy Mummy Club

Names For Your Valentine Baby From Around the World



February falls right in the middle of the coldest months of the year and it is also the month of love and romance.  If you’re having (or making) a baby in February, here are 175 Valentine inspired names to consider from around the world.

175 Names of Love

Abiba – the beloved one – African

Adelpha - Beloved Sister – Greek

Adora Beloved One – Latin, Greek, Old German

Ahava - Love – Hebrew

Aiko Little Loved One, Love Child – Japanese

Aimee - Beloved Friend – French, Latin

Aimi - Beautiful Love – Japanese

Airi - Love Affection With Jasmine – Japanese

Amada – beloved – Spanish

Amadeus - Love of God – Latin

Amanda - Worthy Of Love – Latin

Amando - Worthy Of Love – Italian

Amara - Lovely Forever – Greek, Eternal – Sanskrit

Amor - Love – Spanish

Amora - Love - Spanish

Amorina - Love – Spanish

Amy – beloved – Latin

Anchoret – much loved – Welsh

Aninda - Dear - Indonesian

Annabelle -Loving – French

Asho - Pure Of Heart – Persian

Asthore – loved one – Celtic/Gaelic

Aziz - Beloved, Powerful – Arabic

Aziza – Beloved, Precious – Hebrew, Swahili, Arabic

Beau – beautiful, handsome – French

Bella – Beautiful – Italian

Belle – Beauty – French

Bello – beautiful, handsome – Italian

Caleb - Wholehearted – Hebrew (Kaleb)

Calix – very handsome – Greek

Canan - Beloved – Turkish

Cari -  Beloved – Welsh, Gaelic

Carina - Dear One – Spanish

Carita - Beloved - Latin

Caron - Loving, Kindhearted, Charitable – Welsh

Carys  - To Love – Welsh

Ceri – love – welsh

Chaviva – beloved – Hebrew

Cher - Dear One – French

Cheri - Dear - French

Cherise - Dear One - French

Cherish - Care For, Honour, Love – English

Cheryl - Beloved – French

Connelly - Love – Irish

Cora - Heart, Maiden – Greek

Cordelia - Heart, Daughter Of The Sea – Latin, Celtic

Coretta - Little Heart – American

Corwin - Heart’s Friend, companion – Gaelic/Celtic

Dagmar - Dear and Famous – Scandanavian

Dara - Compassionate – Hebrew

Dariel - Dear One, Beloved – French (F. Form Of Darrell)

Darla - Dear, Loved One – Irish

Darlene - Dear Loved One, American

Darrell - Dear One, Beloved – French

Darwin - Dear Friend – English

Daveny - Beloved – American

David - Beloved – Hebrew

Davina - Beloved – Celtic/Gaelic

Davion Beloved - American

Dora - Gift – Greek

Doron - Gift - Hebrew

Erasto – beloved – Italian

Eros – God Of Love – Greek

Esme - Loved – French

Farrah - Happiness – English

Fenmore - Dear Love/Fen Moor – English

Gemma - Precios Stone – Italian

Gia - God’s Gracious Gift – Italian

Graziella – lovely, with grace – Italian

Habib - Beloved One – Arabic

Habiba - Beloved One – Arabic

Hannan - Most Compassionate – Arabic

Howard - Heart Brave – English

Hugo -Heart, Mind, Spirit – Latin

Ily - Acronym For I Love You – American

Imogen - Beloved Child – Greek

Ipo – Sweetheart, Lover – Hawaiian

Jamal – handsome – Arabic

Jane  - God’s Gracious Gift – English

Janiya – Beloved - Arabic

Jasper - ‘Bringer Of Treasure” – Persian

Jesse - Gift – Hebrew

Jumoke - Everyone Loves The Child – African

Jung – handsome – Chinese

Kalila- Beloved – Arabic

Kara - Dear - Italian

Karissa - Dear One – Italian

Kayla - Beloved – American

Keefe – Handsome, Beloved – Celtic/Gaelic

Keefer – Handsome, Beloved – Celtic Gaelic

Kendi - The Loved One – African

Kenneth – handsome – Celtic/Gaelic

Khalida - Everlasting – Arabic

Lalasa – love, friendship – Persian

Lennon - Dear One – Irish

Lev - Heart – Hebrew

Lolonyo – Love is beautiful – African

Lolovivi – there is always love – African

Luba - Dear – Russian, Slavic

Luthando – love – African

Marianela - Beloved Star -Spanish

Medora - Mother’s Gift – Greek

Memphis – established, beautiful – Greek

Mercy - Compassion – English

Milada - My Love – Czech

Milena - People’s Love – Russian

Nadir – Precious, Rare – Arabic

Nadira - Precious, Rare – Arabic

Natania - Gift Of God – Hebrew

Nayeli - I Love You – Native American

Neely - Son Of Champion Or Passionate – Irish

Neha – love, affection – Sanskrit

Neil - Champion Of Passionate – Irsih

Ohanna - God’s Gracious Gift - Hebrew/Armenian

Olathe – lovely, beautiful – Native American

Penha – beloved – Swahili

Penha – beloved – Swahili

Phila – love – Greek

Philantha – lover of flowers – Greek

Philena – lover of mankind – Greek

Philyra – love of music – Greek

Pilialoha – beloved – Hawaiian

Prema – love, affection – Sanskrit

Prita - Dear One – East Indian

Priya - Beloved – East Indian – Sanskrit

Qiao – pretty, handsome – Chinese

Querida –beloved – Spanish

Raheem Compassionate - Arabic

Rahima Compassionate Arabic

Rahma Compassion – Swahili

Raizil  - Rose – Yiddish

Rhoda - Rose – Greek

Rhodes - Roses – Greek

Roosevelt - Rose Field - Dutch

Rosa - Rose – Latin

Rosaleen - Little Rose – Irish

Rosalie - Rose – French

Rosalind - Pretty Rose – English

Rosalinda - Beautiful Rose – Spanish

Rosaline - Little Rose – Spanish


Roseanne - Gracious Rose

Roselyn - Beautiful Rose – English


Rosina - Rose – Italian

Rowa – lovely vision – Arabic

Roza - Rose – Polish

Rozalia - Rose – Hungarian

Ruby - Deep Red Precious Stone - Latin

Sajan - Beloved – Hindi

Sarang – love – Korean

Sevda - Passion, Love – Turkish

Sevita - Cherished – Sanskrit

Shai - Gift – Hebrew

Shoshana - Rose – Hebrew

Siran – sweet love – Armenian

Sirvat - Rose Of Love - Armenian

Suki – beloved – Japanese

Suri - Red Rose – Persian

Takara - Treasure – Japanese

Tene – Love – African

Teneil - Champion Or Passionate, American

Theodore - Gift Of God – Greek

Thuong – Love Tenderly – Vietnamese


Valentine – Latin


Varda - Rose, Pink – Hebrew

Vashti - Lovely – Persian

Venus - Goddess Of Love – Greek

Vered - Rose - Hebrew

Vesta - Goddess Of The Hearth – Latin

Yahir – handsome – Spanish

Zaria - Rose – Arabic

Zeal - With Passion – English

Zuleika - Brilliant And Lovely – Arabic


Originally published at Yummy Mummy Club

More Musings about Blue Ivy

As you get to know me, you’ll understand that I’m less interested in the celebrityishness and more about the meaning behind a name. In my previous post on Beyonce and Jay-Z’s new baby girl, Blue Ivy, I gave more attention to the significance of Ivy amid much confusion online on whether her name was Ivy Blue or Blue Ivy. Beyonce herself might both started and stopped the debate with the following Tweets.

First there was this:

And hours later, this:

Now, I’m feeling Blue.

They are not the first to use the name—that one goes to David Evans, better known as The Edge of U2, who named his daughter Blue Angel in 1989. Actress Maria Bello named her son Jackson Blue McDermott in 2001 and Alicia Silverstone named her son Bear Blu last year.
At Name Your Tune, I can tell you that we have the name Blue recorded in our catalogue which means that we have made personalized CDs for little Blues before.
Back to the newest Blue—her name likely comes from her Daddy’s affinity for the colour. He has 3 albums titled “The Blueprint” and the debut of his daughter makes 4. Yes, 4 as in IV and in Ivy. A stretch maybe…maybe not.
And what else might Blue mean? Here are 4 things:
Blue is the colour of the sky and water, it is peaceful and seemingly without end
Blue is the colour of the 3 Chakra, the Throat Chakra—it governs communication, creativity and self-expression
Blue is said to represent trust, dignity, wisdom, peace, calming and serenity
Blue is the most popular answer for people’s favourite colour
New daddy Jay-Z has already released a song on his website for his baby girl, called Glory, feat. B.I.C. (yes, Blue Ivy Carter) Here are some of the lyrics:

You’re a child of destiny
You’re the child of my destiny
You’re my child with the child from Destiny’s Child
That’s a hell of a recipe
The most amazing feeling I feel
Words can’t describe what I’m feeling for real
Baby I paint the sky blue
My greatest creation was you

What do you think?


Originally Published at Yummy Mummy Club.

Baby Name Remorse


When we are faced with deciding what to eat from a restaurant menu that offers everything from all-day breakfast to chicken fingers and fries to filet mignon, some of us become virtually paralyzed. You’re at a table of 4 and your meal comes, the one that you put so much thought and consideration into and of course, you want what your friend is having instead. There is so much too choose from. I think that the same can be said for baby names, but you can’t always send it back or come back next week and try something different.

Today is one of those ‘holidays’ like “National Donut Day,” “National Bubblebath Day,” or ”National Handwriting Day.” There’s a ‘holiday’ for everything. Today’s ‘holiday’ caught my attention though. Today, March 27th, is “National Joe Day”—a day for those of you out there that don’t like your name.

When looking to choose the perfect name, the resources are endless. Baby name books and online baby-naming tools and resources are plentiful (a search for baby name books at yielded 478 choices and at 995 Then there is the desire to be different. Babies are also being given names that might have come from browsing a dictionary or map. I see names come across my desk that sometimes have me thinking “is that a person, place, or thing?” As I said, the resources, the choices are endless.

With choice, however, can also come regret.

“I love the name I chose and so did the parents of the five other Sophies or Sophias in my daughter’s class.”

“My son’s name is always mispronounced. So frustrating. I like the way it sounds when we say it.”

“In an effort to give our son a traditional name with a twist, we changed the spelling and added a (silent) H. I’m tired of spelling it for people and I think he will be too. This is the one time in my life that I’m wishing I had listened to my mother.”

Got regret? Here are some things that you can do without going on the record:

  • Use the middle name. You chose the middle name for a reason. Try it out.
  • How about initials? If I went with my initials, I’d be CJ. I kinda like that.
  • Choose a nickname that fits. Miley Cyrus was born “Destiny Hope” and was always called “Smiley” because she smiled so much. She shortened it to Miley. Voila.
  • How about a variation on the name? Alexandra, for example, could be Allie, Lexie, Alexa, Lex, Zandra. Jacob could be Coby, Jake or Jay.
  • Go with it. Remember why you chose it in the first place. Decorate your baby’s room with a few special pieces that are personalized.

Have you regretted the name that you chose for your baby? Do you regret the name that you were given by your parents? Please share your coping strategies and help out some other’s suffering from Naming Remorse.