By any other name

My family today.

You may notice that I use nicknames for my family or perhaps that we don’t actually call our eldest “Earth Baby” and my husband’s name isn’t “The Piano Man” comes as a shock to you. In your head I’m actually chasing after Squiggle Bug all day calling “Squiggle Bug!” Though I hate to disappoint you, the truth is we all have recognizable legitimate names that would actually flow a little better in real life. It’s not that we’re trying to keep our identity a secret, obviously, you can fairly easily find our real names and our photos are all over the blog. I just wanted to keep some amount of distance between this online world and the world we, particularly our children, interact in on a regular basis.

My family before there was a Smunchie.

So how did I come up with these names, these terms of endearment for my family in the blogsphere? Allow me to share how I named my family.

The Piano Man. Sexy, right? He is, totally. But that’s not why I picked it for him. I’ve called him “The Piano Man” for a long time though previously only in jest. The night we met he was tearing up Rachmaninoff in the practice room on one of the grands reserved for piano majors on the 4th floor of the Donne Music Building. He was casually pounding out such a bombastic rendition of the genuis’ composition that my poor little Bach piece didn’t stand a chance. I could barely hear what I was practicing due to the sound bleeding through the thin walls of the old building. So I got up to see who was making the ruckus. The rest, as they say, is history. One that includes me changing my major to vocal performance and him being my accompanist. I used to sing the song to him… play us a song, you’re the piano man… Then I married him and he was my piano man. Today he teaches piano and plays for several groups and churches and occasionally he’ll play for me to sing. I still like that Billy Joel song.

Can you say: awkward wedding picture? Yikes. Big yikes.
But he’s always been my piano man.

Earth Baby. Our eldest daughter is 11 years old and bears a very serious and mature sounding name filled with romance. It fits her well. But so does Earth Baby. She loves the earth, far more aware of nature and being in harmony with the earth’s rhythms and creatures far more than I did at her age and sometimes even more than now. Insects, gardening and caring for the environment have interested her since she was very small. I will never forget how when she was 4 she was playing during a rain shower in the courtyard of the house we lived in at the time and had collected worms and snails and had them all over her, climbing her arms and holding them like pets and proudly came in to show me. *shudder* She is my Earth Baby.

Earth Baby and Smunchie.

The Storyteller. I’m not very creative with these names. Every night as they are in bed, The Storyteller weaves an elaborate and ongoing tale for Lolie and she tells it with mystery and confidence. Anyone that has heard one of her tales is drawn in. I truly believe she has a talent for storytelling. Interestingly enough, she also makes every little thing she feels she needs to tell you into a story but those are rarely as captivating. She is also a fantastic liar though I would never admit that to her and by now I’m onto her and can spot her lying from a mile away. The Storyteller always has a story tell, whether you want to hear it or not. She will talk your ear off.

The Storyteller. She looks like she’s about to get into mischief.
She probably was already into mischief here.

Lolie. When I started thinking about nicknames for my family as I wrote about them in my blogs I got stuck on this one. The others were either obvious or already in use. Everything I came up with was either too close to her real name and was used around home or it just sounded like I was trying too hard. I wanted something whimsical and sweet, fun and dreamy with a bit of spunk. A name that suited her. Nothing worked and I asked for input. She wasn’t sure but started throwing out insect names probably because I already had Squiggle Bug. Our nickname for her before she was born didn’t seem to fit any more so we pondered one day while outside. She found her favorite critter and called Squiggle Bug to come see the Roly Poly. An excited Squiggle Bug squealed with delight as Lolie let it crawl over her hand and arm (what is with my kids and letting things crawl on them!) and then jabbered “I love lolie-lolie!” We decided that Lolie would be the nickname for her. It fits perfectly, she loves it and even calls herself by that name sometimes.

Awwww! Isn’t she sweet? My darling 7 year old dreamer.

And we even have a shot of the inspiration for her nickname.

Squiggle Bug. That was her name before she was born though only in private, I rarely let other people know I have an endearing nickname for my growing babe and we don’t share their real name with anyone, ever until they are born. I continued calling her that even after she was born though it started to vanish around a year or so. Though I wasn’t using it much the affectionate name still described her well, she moves a lot. As in all the time. We do some partial bed-sharing and sleeping with her can be a sweet cuddly treat but it is always a wild one. She loves to dance and I’m not exactly sure but I suspect that her moves are exactly what a Squiggle Bug looks like when it moves. The nickname returned when Smunchie was born and I used it with the new baby once. Everyone remembered who it had belonged to first and it experienced a revival that continues today.

Squiggle Bug at 2.5 years old.
The only way we could get her to not run screaming from the camera was to give her my mirror compact.

Smunchie. I think I started calling her that to myself during the pregnancy. I had an anterior placenta and it made it difficult for me to palpate her position sometimes further complicated by her stubbornly occiput posterior positioning. As I would trace her outline from her head at my pubic bone up around my belly I would ask her how she was doing, if she was srunched, if she had room to maneuver into a better position. Somehow “smunched” came out one day. I continued to use it, calling her Smunchie. When she was born she was the shortest of all our girls and when she had difficulties growing she really did look, well, smunched. Her difficulty growing led to some interesting breastfeeding experiences and I would ask my sleepy little girl if she was a munchie smunchie. I’m pretty sure I called her Smunchie more often in the first few weeks than I did her actual name. With the exception of The Piano Man and Squiggle Bug, I think everyone else in the family regularly calls her Smunchie too. Though she’s grown a lot and isn’t that tiny baby any more, the name still seems right for her.

Smunchie at 6 months.

And me? Well, I’m just Jessica. But you can call me The Leaky B@@b.

Me and an 11 month old Squiggle Bug.