Thursday, September 25, 2014

Why You Can Do Better Than a TOP TEN BABY NAME

There are totally certain subjects smart bloggers should never touch with a ten foot pole... And this is definitely one of them! So why am I poking this topic with a 1" stick? Because no one ever said I was a smart blogger... DUH! ALSO, this is my 100th blog post- therefore I decided a little controversy was in order... to keep things jazzy!

The guys over at Wait But Why wrote an amazing piece on baby naming a couple months back that had me giddy and giggling the entire time I read it... They NAILED IT. And everyone I know read it and agreed with its awesomeness. This post will be much less statistical and much more opinion oriented- I'm not trying to compete with perfection!

In order to give it some validity (and share the blame for pissing so many people off)... I have wrangled in my BFF, my bestie, my road dawg in life. We've been friends for something like 15 years and in that time she has proved to be the only other person (ok, there's you Karissa) who I know loves the process of baby naming as much as I do. SO- I introduce to you... Kelsey Anderson! She will be helping me with my name lists- don't get too attached, you might hate us both by the end ;)

Aren't we cute?
A few weeks after reading the Wait But Why post my three year old daughter and I had an amazing conversation- sealing the deal on this post. I asked her about a girl in her class, who I'd noticed she'd been playing with a lot (I will guard this precious child's name with my life- mainly for fear that her parents might find me and have me killed.) Anyway, I said to her, "Birdie- Are you becoming good friends with _______?" And without skipping a beat she said to me, "Which _______?! There's too many of them in my class!" Of course at first I lol'd like any good mother with an ironic sense of humor would (because even my three year old knows when a name has hit Top 10!!)... And then I really started thinking about names and why people get so stuck on certain ones.

I mean- NAMES... they're like... A BIG DEAL! I have personally loved names since as long as I can remember. I vividly remember having twin dolls as a young kid and giving them the names Zoe & Chloe (I've always been a trendsetter- what can I say?)

I love "helping" expectant mother's find names (and with a whopping 6 friends currently pregnant right now- I'm throwing ideas out and annoying every one of them!). I love learning the reasons behind a chosen name and I love Googling the meaning of a name. But there is nothing that I love more than finding out the ranking of a name. Yes- ranking. As in- I want to know just how popular/trendy a name is. Usually when I hear a name I know right away if it's within the top 100. That's easy. In this post we're going to dissect the trendy ones and alert you to the up & comers... How fun!

Before we get in to our "stats" let us assure/warn you: WE ARE NOT PROFESSIONALS! I (Kenna) personally don't even know how people gather actual statistical data therefore this is all mainly our own opinions gathered via the internet as well as what we are hearing all around us in our kid's classrooms and park dates (Kenna in California/Kelsey in Wisconsin- and don't forget the Facebook birth announcements!) This info should only be taken seriously if you like us, and even then only if you yourselves dislike trendy names.


The Overtly Trendy Name
You've always loved the name, I know. I had some names I loved as a child too... But miraculously I was able to find another one when it came to naming my child. Let me assure you of something, you can find another one too. You don't have to go with the name you've loved since you were 10- just because you've loved it since you were 10! A lot of new names have appeared- it's a new world for names as a matter of fact! While we're at it... Just stay away from the top 20 okay? Do us all a favor and branch out.

Of course no one (but us) is going to disagree with you when you shout it to the world you're naming your son Aiden, Jack or Noah (the 3 I hear the most)-  everyone's heard them so many times at this point they're par for the course. But have you thought about the fact that it might be more awesome to think of a name that your child can claim all to themselves- at least in their classroom?

Now in case you're really not in the name game at all- this is what we're humbly recommending you NOT name your baby in 2014 and on (there shall be a gag order given to these names until maybe 2030ish) unless you REALLY enjoy the thought of your child always having their last name initial attached to that lovely first name... Carrying it in to adulthood... "Hi, this is Bella! Bella Smith. No... No, the one with blond hair. Short blond hair.... YES! That one! Hi, how are you?"

  • Noah
  • Liam
  • Jacob
  • Mason
  • William
  • Ethan
  • Michael
  • Alexander
  • Jayden/Jaden
  • Daniel
  • Elijah
  • Aiden
  • James
  • Benjamin
  • Matthew
  • Jackson
  • Logan
  • David
  • Anthony
  • Joseph

  • Sophia/Sofia
  • Emma
  • Olivia
  • Isabella/Bella
  • Ava
  • Mia
  • Emily
  • Abigail
  • Madison
  • Elizabeth
  • Charlotte
  • Avery
  • Chloe
  • Ella
  • Harper
  • Aubrey
  • Amelia
  • Addison
  • Evelyn
  • Grace

The Sneaky Trendy Name
These are the names ranging from rankings 30-100 (or that are rising at warp speed into the Top 100). They might not be in your face right now but good lord on high they are coming to a baby near you soon. Example from years past: the name Madison. Have you ever met a Madison's mom who swears they'd never heard the name and then their baby hit Kinder and was in a sea of Madison's (or it's more popular alias: Maddie)? This genuinely happened to that name in 1997. At record speed in went from the ranking of 50 (1995) to Top 10 (1997). SO BE AWARE! That's all we're saying! Don't just think you're the only person in the world with a name idea... RESEARCH! (This isn't the 90's where you actually had to put in a big effort to find out if a name was popular!)

Another sneaker name was Grayson. I remember a mom-to-be actually telling me that she "made the name up". Ya. You and every other mom in LA County in 2008.

You might know this list like the back of your hand based on filling out your kid's Valentine cards last year... But just in case- currently, this is what we're looking at (in random order fyi)...

  • Asher/Ash
  • Eli
  • Ryder
  • Finn/Finley
  • Quinn
  • Elliot
  • Sebastian
  • Kaden/Caden
  • Declan
  • Bennett
  • Wyatt
  • Luke
  • Hunter
  • Max
  • Oliver
  • Jaxon (be aware of those crazy spellings only adding to the trendiness of a name!)
  • Carter
  • Everett
  • Cash
  • Silas
  • Landon
  • Emmett
  • Cade/Kade
  • Gavin
  • Levi
  • Hudson
  • Jude
  • Chase
  • Ryder
  • Easton
  • Weston
  • Zachary
  • Gabriel

  • Nora/Norah
  • Ruby
  • Violet
  • Finley/Finlee
  • Zoe/Zoey
  • Quinn
  • Gianna/Giana
  • Iris
  • Piper
  • Mila
  • Brooklyn
  • Scarlett
  • Hadley
  • Vivian
  • Ellie/Elle
  • Savannah
  • Penelope/Penny
  • Sadie
  • Alice
  • Paisley/Paislee
  • Aria
  • London/Londyn (enough with the 'Y' already, people!)
  • Reese/Reece/Rhys
  • Adelaide/Adaline/Adalyn
  • Hazel
  • Delilah
  • Eden
  • Olive
  • Stella

The Upcoming Trendy Name
In no way are we telling you to avoid these names- if you notice I have even placed my own daughter's name on the list. All we are doing is warning you- they are on the rise and have entered the top 1000 (or are set to this year). Don't think you're crazy original and go spouting off to all your friends how it came to you in some name vision. No- you actually saw it in People Magazine under the "Celebrity Births of the Week" section... (Or was that just me?) One thing we've learned in the last few years is that NO NAME IS SAFE. Even when I'd (Kenna) researched my kids names to infinity and beyond... I never thought Birdie would became an "up and coming" name on Baby Center (the most popular name-finding website). Because had I have known that- it would've broken my "No Top 1000" rule (which is on track to happen when the social security list for 2014 is released!) Fun fact: her real name is Roberta- so take that Top 1000!

Announcement by Hello Love
  • Braxton
  • Brixton
  • Sawyer
  • Rowan
  • Gunner
  • Stryker
  • Maverick
  • Axel
  • Archer
  • Memphis
  • Atlas
  • Gideon
  • Atticus
  • Allister
  • Dash
  • Phoenix
  • Rex
  • Ace
  • River
  • Enzo
  • Beckett
  • Seamus 
  • Luca/Lucca
  • Duke
  • Royal
  • Nixon
  • Cassius
  • Bo
  • Thatcher
  • Nash

  • Ellery
  • Ellody
  • Birdie
  • Farrah
  • Story
  • Romy
  • Tallulah
  • Isla
  • Greta
  • Braelyn/Braelynn
  • Luna
  • Eve/Evie
  • Lilia
  • Gwyneth/Gwendolyn/Gwen
  • India 
  • Indie
  • Collins
  • Karis
  • Magnolia
  • Pearl
  • Teagan
  • Hattie
  • Lux/Luxx
  • Freya
  • Willow
  • Phoebe
  • Fiona
  • Ivory
  • Juniper
  • Poppy 
  • Wren
  • Clementine

The I'm-Going-With-a-Classic-and-I-Don't-Care Name
You're dead set on the name George. I mean if it's good enough for the Princess, it's good enough for you. Hey... You know what? Bless it. One of Cormac's best friend's name is William and his mom acknowledges his classically popular name with pride. Just be sure that you can own the fact that it's not only a classic... But most likely very trendy too. And can ya do us just one favor? Get a little crazy with the middle name... Huh? Can ya?

This years 3 "Big Classics":

  • Charlie
  • Samuel
  • Henry
  • Anna
  • Lucy
  • Caroline

The Celeb-Kid-Name-Gone-Trendy-That-Will-Conjure-Up-Image-of-Celeb-Kid-Every-Time 
Look- if The Pitts have named their kid something- they won, you loose- find something else. I (Kelsey) was actually very interested in the name Pax until Angie got her hands on it... I moved on!

Every time I hear the name Maddox this is what I think of.
  • Jayden
  • Maddox
  • Matilda
  • Knox
  • Apple
  • Kingston
  • Coco
  • Moses
  • Everly
  • Shiloh
Hello baby girl Maxwell Drew! We didn't see that one coming.
The Boy Name as Girl Name
This trend has been around for awhile. I mean my parents got my name (Kelsey) out of the boy section of the baby name book. But more recently this trend rocketed into popularity when model/actress Jaime King started going by James. Now I find myself asking my kids, "Which Ryan? Boy Ryan or girl Ryann?" This is also a big one that parents think they made up, then encounter 3 other "girl Jameses" in play group.

Here are a few we've heard this year...
  • Charlie/Charlee
  • Elliott
  • Emerson
  • Michael
  • Ashton
  • Rowan
  • Ace
  • Presley/Preslee
  • Austin
  • Cash/Kash
  • Landon/Landyn 
  • Axel/Axyl/Axl
  • Luca/Lucca
  • Maverick
  • Nico
  • Jameson
  • James
  • Ryan/Ryann
  • Maxwell
  • Brett/Brette
  • Wyatt

How to Thoroughly Research a Name...
You didn't think we were just going to bitch and moan about a bunch of names and then not provide you with resources for finding names we like more, did you? No way! Of course there are plenty of great books out there I'm sure- but at this point I think it's pretty safe to say that what's in the books is on the internet...

Here are our favorite naming websites...

Researching Names Based on Cultural Preference...
When I (Kenna) was pregnant with Cormac, I was dead set on giving him an Irish name. Likewise, my friend Amy (who's married to an Italian man) would only consider Italian names for her four boys: Giacomo, Luciano, Valentino and Massimo (I helped her with that last one!)

If your goal is to stay true to your roots- the easiest way to find a name within your cultural preference is to find a good website dedicated to it... Exactly how I found the name Cormac!

In closing...
You've finished the post and somehow we've managed to take down at least 3 names in your immediate family or extended... And here's the deal. We still love kids with trendy names- in fact some of my (Kenna) kid's favorite friends to play with are Liam, Noah and Ava. While we do not in anyway, shape or form CONDONE these names for 2014 & on... We vow to still love the babies even if you choose to ignore us. Well, that's kind of a lie because I don't even really like other people's babies/children in general... I mean, my own push their luck at times... But anyway- we will still appreciate them as human beings...?

Before you huff and puff and type your angry comments just remember that this entire post was written mainly to make name snobs laugh  provoke thought when choosing your sweet little precious' name... And hopefully go viral, duh.


[Practically] Baby Name Experts,
Kenna (#997) & Kelsey (#306) has some great naming insight!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Does Your Business Have 'True Grit'?

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to speak on the alumni panel for the incoming class of Women's Economic Ventures (incase you're new, I graduated from this program, otherwise known as WEV, in May). When I first got the email I was like, "Whaaat... Why meee?" I'd dreamed of being asked while I was in WEV- but that was early on when I must have been high on learning or something...

Since very little of the business plan I wrote has actually played out since graduating I was honestly fearful I'd look like a failure in front of the new class of incoming business owners. I literally didn't want to do it. But a fellow graduate made  encouraged me to say yes as a way to get practice talking about my business here in Santa Barbara.

So I did... And it gave me the exact motivation I needed.

There were things said on this alumni panel that I needed to hear from the other grads (most had been graduated for a while- so there was wisdom)... and things that I needed to hear myself say as a reminder that I still wanted to do Miss Party Mom. The past few months were unregrettably all about the kids, but Fall was upon us and it was obvious to me that I'd lost my entrepreneurial eagerness while building sandcastles all summer...

The WEV panel gave me the ability to once again grab hold of some business truths because here is what I realized... NEWSFLASH! The other panel members- they had worked hard for their success- they'd hustled to get to where they were! They hit the pavement, shaking hands and holding babies... Networking the heck out of Santa Barbara until they were able to meet someone would be throw them a bone.

And I had to ask myself... Kenna, have you done this? Have you met anyone outside of your comfort zone? Have you told key players you're even a party planner? When I started pondering these questions- I realized, WOW... I haven't done anything since graduating the program to help secure new clients, other than updating the pricing on my website and hoping people would stumble upon it (which I still hope!) and... wait for it... Complaining about how much I hate networking! I honestly would LOVE to operate like Mindy Weiss on a "clients find me" basis- as I feel that my work speaks for itself and I hate telling strangers how awesome I am...


In a town where I'm new that has about as many seasoned party planners as it has children... I realized that if I want this business to launch here (and not rely on Santa Maria and Los Angeles for parties) then yes, I was going to need what fellow panel-alumni and Santa Barbara photographer, Rachel Thurston panel kept calling, "TRUE GRIT".

True Grit... In non-definition like terms is when you're willing to do anything to make it happen- not giving up- even when you're not getting the results you want. Essentially true grit is pushing through the slow times and doing the things you dislike doing- all for the growth of your business.

I started wondering while Rachel was talking... Do I have true grit? I was on an alumni panel... I should have true grit!?

For me this means meeting people outside of my circle, finding ways to collaborate with other businesses, doing some volunteer work to help me get noticed, figuring out great advertising opportunities, donating to the right fundraisers... Just plain getting out there... and not giving up.

I was taking notes in my head as the other grads spoke... My mind was blown by what they had to say about their success! Scott Linde, creator of Sunpotion told the class, "In my business' infancy- I'd meet people everywhere- in the Vons Grocery store line! Anywhere I could pass out business cards I would. I'd promote my business to anyone who would listen... Because you never know who they might know and how they might be willing to help you..."

GULP. I hadn't even passed out business cards in the children's boutiques on State Street! I'd actually avoided handing people business cards as to not come across as annoying or pushy.

Oh Kenna...

You've got A LOT of work to do.

I must say that since that alumni panel I have been working my butt of networking MPM the most I ever have. Meeting with wedding planners, store owners, well-connected moms... I've met with more people in the last few weeks than I have in my 8 months living in Santa Barbara. I came to the conclusion that if I quit now (out of frustration with not penetrating Santa Barbara) then I won't be able to say I gave it my all. And have I mentioned I'm not a quitter?

The crazy thing is that the more I network, the easier it gets... Which I honestly never thought I'd say. With each contact I make- a little more of the business-Kenna shines threw... She's in there somewhere! It's just getting her to come out and play and stop being that weird creative girl who just wants to sew canopies and play with the hot glue gun...

Here's to all of us solopreneurs, mommypreneurs and just straight entrepreneurs having what it takes: True Grit... May we look back on this time and say, "Damn I worked hard to get to wear I'm at- and I'm proud of myself for it!"

xo Party or Die xo

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Summer I Decided to be an Awesome Mom

I honestly can't even remember how I ever had time to run a blog. My days right now are jam packed every. single. day. The "blogging time" I used to keep in my life just isn't there anymore... And in a one way it's so freeing. If I'm honest I actually never had time to sit and blog. I've always been busy- I was born busy. I'm an closet overcommitter in the worst way possible.

But I used to MAKE time for the blog- literally shoving it in to my day, where it did not fit. Blogging at the most inopportune times because I had to- I was committed to being a "blogger". Most times I would I sit and write in the mornings while the kids were up and needing my attention (a great way to start the morning!). I'd have a subject I needed to get out that I was too tired to finish the night before and so I'd ignore the kids and spit out the blog. I'd turn in to "mean blogging mom" for about 2 hours, trying my best to edit it (with my non-literature background) and spending copious amounts of time uploading all my supporting photos. On most occasions shoving blogging in to a day turned me in to somewhat of a Hulk like figure where if anything got in my way or line of consciousness I'd likely loose my mind.

I've mentioned on here many times that prior to having kids, I was never the type of woman who dreamed about her future children. I didn't have names picked out or outfits saved in a hope chest. Prior to getting married I wasn't even sure if I wanted kids because I had such a strong desire for being a successful career woman and doing things.... like blogging. And blogging well. Often times today, I want nothing more than to just sit and blog. Or create something without distraction. But that is not my lot in life right now. My lot in life, by my own doing- is to stay home with the kids with a loose goal of trying to raise a couple of decent humans. As much as I love to work (seriously, I am a classic work-a-holic) and plan parties (the ultimate work)... I'm finally owning the fact that I desire more to be in control of how my kids are raised. (I am also a classic control freak.)

I decided this summer that while the kids were going to be home with me, I wasn't going to be my infamous "mean blogging mom" self who didn't have time for books or legos while I was writing. Instead I made a conscious decision to try and be my most present version of mom yet. I was going to try and embrace new things that most moms loved and have somehow skipped over me. (I blame my childhood or something.)

All in all I must say, summer '14 was pretty amazing. I was pretty amazing. As a mom. I was actually a pretty amazing mom this summer. Such a crazy statement because in all honesty motherhood does not come naturally to me. I am the last one to ever call myself amazing in the mom category. You have never heard me gush about motherhood or breastfeeding or all of the crap that usually makes me want to run far, far away from a mom group (or unfollow an IGer).

But this summer- this summer I kind of killed it. Sure, there were a few rough days while Shawn took two week long trips- but for the most part we had a great two and a half months full of beach days (I hate the beach), exploring new parks (hated slightly less that the beach), a million trips to the zoo (I now know the animals by name... I hate animals), swimming at the YMCA (I hate swimming and pretty much water in general) and so many trips to Yogurtland the employees would talk to us like we were old friends... (I love Yogurtland). Oh- and aside from that one trip to the Y where the water was actually below zero and I was terribly cranky about it- I don't think the kids would ever guess that I didn't love the beach, pool, parks and zoo. What I'm trying to say is that I harnessed the ability to focus on them instead of the sand all over my car, my ruined curly wet hair, and those park kids I have no control of who bring weapons to fight with (Hey- little shit! Put away the sword and try the monkey bars, eh?)

As of this week, both kids are back in school. Although I was so ready for Cormac to be in Kindergarten full time- like truly very ready -without an ounce of hesitation in sending him, I still spent half of his first day looking at old pics of him and making Instagram photo collages of him on his #firstdayofschool. Which made me feel universally connected to moms everywhere... A complete and total rarity.

With the kids both back in school and a whopping 12 hours a week to myself without anyone asking me for juice (and only one child a chunk of the rest of the time) I've realized once again that I live a busy life and there's just no two ways about it. I like to act like we're free to hang out anytime because I love coming across all mellow like that. But with networking for MPM, coaching Cormac's AYSO team, volunteer work for his school... I'm coming to the realization that- as I once read on an Instagram bio: "Wife. Mom. Blogger. Addicted to Busy." YES. I AM ADDICTED TO BUSY. If I had the mellow life I'm so desperate to convince you we lead... I'm pretty sure I'd be bored to tears. I love busy. I love projects. I love having full, productive days.

Which is all the more reason I'm happy that this summer I used my powers for good and was addicted-to-busy with the kids. Because I could have pumped out blogs, sewing projects and styled shoots. The work-a-holic in me would have loved that.

But I didn't- and I'm proud of myself for that. See, you can teach an old dog new tricks!

xo Party or Die xo

(And our foreign exchange student Mo came to visit, so that was awesome.)

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