Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Bird By Any Other Name

This is the story of how Annie got her name. To really do the tale justice, it's going to take some time. So please invest a few minutes to enjoy.

It all started when the Okaloosa Chamber Singers (of which I am a member) decided to perform Brahms' Liebeslieder Waltzer, or "Love Song Waltzes" (link to YouTube videos of these pieces with the English translation in subtitles). There is a lot of nature imagery in the text, particularly about birds. And each week as I went to rehearsal, I would sing and think, "This baby needs a bird name." And then I'd go home and the feeling would wear off and I would simply chalk it up to irrational pregnancy craziness. But the next week, I'd be in rehearsal again and think to myself, "No, she really does need a bird name."

So Kevin and I started looking up bird names. We had to veto several from the start: Robin was out because of the prolific medical thriller author, Robin Cook; Wren was a name my brother and sister-in-law had considered but not chosen for their second child, and their third is on the way; Lark sounds goofy next to Cook; no Gail/Gale because she was due 2 days before The Hunger Games movie would be released; Ava is lovely but in the top 10 and the name of the daughter of a beloved friend. Looking at the rest of our list, we still didn't have any we really loved. It was time to take it to the experts.

Luckily, I know some experts. I contacted some of my former colleagues (and current friends) at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and explained the situation. Krista Fahy, Terri SheridanRebecca Fagan Coulter, and Elaine Gibson responded with almost alarming speed and unbridled enthusiasm. I will include the complete list of names they offered, but first let's have some fun with names they did not pick:

Anything with "double-breasted," "booby" or "tit" in the name
Loons of all varieties

After narrowing it down this far, the total list had some 75 or so entries. We studied them, pondered them, and then tentatively decided that Ani would be nice, as long as we changed it to Annie (too much Ani DiFranco angst association). However, since my middle name is Anne, and we both of buckets of relatives with the name Anne, we decided Anne would be her "real" name, and we would call her Annie.

The final test came in the delivery room. Kevin's family is full of red heads, and I wanted to make sure that our Annie wouldn't be one of them. I could just see her getting teased for be a little orphan through her entire childhood. Luckily, she does not have red hair. So Annie she is.

By the way, Annie was born 15 days before our performances (the conductor was a little nervous that I wouldn't make it), and loves the Liebeslieder. Every time I sing her #9, she calms right down. (Don't worry, I only sing the nice part.) She is also partial to #15, my personal favorite.

Here are all the bird entries, with duplicated removed and most of the original annotations from my expert crew (to whom my daughter and I are deeply indebted):

Merlin (perhaps better for a boy?)
And some descriptives that go along with bird names:
Blue Kona
And that’s just North America…

Carolina (Chickadee and Wren—this one has a bubbly song of “teakettle teakettle teakettle tea”)
Raven would be bold and wonderful

Lark Aderyn (welsh for bird)
Deryn (derivative of above)
Aleta (Spanish for winged)
Leta (derivative of above)
Mavis (old English name for song bird)
Merle (French for blackbird; Merla could work for a girl)
Tori (Japanese for bird)
Alala (Hawaiian crow)
Nydia (from nest)
Fowler (Ha!)
True bird name derivatives:
Linnet (European bird)
Ani (groove-billed or otherwise)
Booby (kidding..)
Cacique (in the Icterid group. Also a Mexican cheese. Maybe not…)
Corella (Australian cockatoo)
Grace is lovely (for Grace’s Warbler)
Sabine is a gorgeous little gull.

And then there is the Say’s Phoebe, scientific name Sayornis saya. Saya could make a nice name for a girl…
Colibri is the French for hummingbird.
I forgot about Paloma, which I think is lovely.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Let Me Entertain You

Stellan and Rachelle are both consummate entertainers on their own, but with their powers combined, they are pretty unstoppable. Please witness this hidden-camera capture of Stellan teaching Rachelle he learned in preschool and Rachelle and Stellan telling knock knock jokes.

Stellan and Rachelle: Let Me Entertain You from Krissie Cook on Vimeo.

Mea Culpa

Annie wants you to know that she's sorry that she has been taking up so much of her mom's time and not letting her keep up with the blog as regularly as she should. But honestly, who can resist a smile like that? Not Annie's mom, that's for sure.


This is the Cookie Jar's 500th post. We've come a long way, baby.

*I know some people would have opted for a classier family photo. But, in case the preceding 499 posts didn't indicate it, that's just not who we are.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Guess Who?

Who's got two thumbs and just as many ear infections?

This baby.

Special thanks to Jeannie for this awesome onesie!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

Stellan's school prepared a lovely Mother's Day tea for all the moms. It was delightful - especially the awesome bonnet he made for me.
I'd like to echo the sentiment to all the many moms in my life - Happy Mother's Day! 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Reason #28,472 To Love Rachelle

Rachelle's fashion sense is really coming into its own. Exhibit A: she wore this bike helmet to the playground. I didn't mention it to her, but I couldn't help but see the resemblance to this classic SNL sketch:

Friday, May 11, 2012


What happens when you mix 4 grandparents, 3 children, 2 parents and 1 house? Lots of fun stuff. The Cooks' and Stewards' visits overlapped (because they were both here for Annie's blessing) for one extra awesome weekend. My kids never had it so good - the spoiling was rampant, bedtimes went unobserved, fun adventures were nonstop, and all children got all the attention they could  handle. Stellan had a huge cheering section at his t-ball game, Rachelle never lacked for someone to get her food (I dread hearing her little voice plead "hungee, hungee!" because I hear a hundred times a day), Annie almost never left loving arms. I guess what they say is true: the more, the merrier!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Cooks Came Back

Because they can't resist us, or the leftovers from the May Day Sundae Party, Grandma and Grandpa Cook came back to visit. They were also here for Annie's baby blessing, and it was very special to have them with us.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Strawberry Picking Part Deux

It went so well with the grandmas, we decided to go strawberry picking again with Grandmaggie and Grandpa Steward. However, this time we went in the early afternoon (during what is usually nap time) after a big storm. We ended up with a big puddly mess. (And the fields were muddy too). The meltdowns kept coming until the frozen yogurt was served. Oh well, the strawberries still tasted delicious.

Grandmaggie and Grandpa Come To Town

Lucky for us, just as our kids were getting bored after two other sets of grandparents came and went, Grandmaggie and Grandpa Steward came to visit us. This is the first time that Grandpa Steward has come to visit since we moved to Florida 4 years ago, so I was especially happy to see him. They brought super fun toys with them, including stuffed animals that were spherical, that led to hours and hours of enjoyment. They were also here for Annie's baby blessing at church (which will get its own post). Now that they're gone, the kids keep asking for them and wondering when they're coming over again. Soon, I hope.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Annie's Baby Blessing

Annie's blessing (not unlike a christening in other churches) took place here at our LDS chapel with four adoring grandparents, two restless siblings and countless friends present. After church, we attempted a backyard photo shoot. (If you are wondering where Rachelle is, she crashed out on the car ride home from church and I knew better than to wake her and expect her to then cooperate nicely.) I know there are a lot of photos here, but please indulge me; a baby is only a new baby for so long.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May Day Sundae Party

As some of our faithful readers may be aware, May 1st marks a famous Steward family tradition - ice cream sundaes for dinner. It was so nice of Grandmaggie and Grandpa Steward to be here for it. I mean, flying all the way from Santa Barbara just to help us eat ice cream is really very nice. We invited a few other people to join us so we could spread the tradition. Will you be joining us next May 1st?