Archive for February, 2011

Winter weekend

If we’re going to live in Michigan and be stuck with months and months of winter, at least we can try to enjoy it for a weekend. Mike and I went up to Northern Michigan with two of my sisters and their husbands to spend a weekend at a ski resort. We rented a three-bedroom cottage and made the most out of two nights away. On Saturday we split into two groups: the skiers (which actually included a snowboarder) and the tubers. While the first group hit the slopes, we hit the snow tubing hill. If you’ve never snow tubed, you should. It’s like sledding but awesomer. From a distance it looks like a silly little nothing hill, but they design it so you FLY down and over several drops and up the side of a snow wall. Then! You don’t even have to climb back up the hill like you do when you sled. There’s a tow rope. One dude hooks up your tube at the start, and you chill for a few minutes while the rope pulls you to the top where another dude unhooks you.

We didn’t bring a camera with us, so the only pictures I have are two we snapped with my sister’s phone.

After a couple hours, we met the skiers back at the cottage and made the decision to visit the indoor waterpark that was nearby. No photos from that either, but I haven’t been on a water slide in years, and it was such a blast. After riding all the slides, floating the lazy river and soaking in the hot tub, everyone was ready to leave. Except me. I wanted to play in all the water for awhile longer! Alas I was overruled and we drove back to the cottage for some card games and some sleep.

It went by far too fast, but it was a really fun weekend. And now I’m officially ready for spring. No more snow! No more snow! Say it with me. No more snow!

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Now that I’ve written about how happy we are with our last name situation*, let’s talk about the kids. I’ve never really been sure what I’d want to do with my kids’ last names knowing that my husband and I would likely have different names, but I always hoped a good answer would emerge at the right time. Well now we’re getting serious about having (as in adopting) kids, so we’ll probably need a solution sooner rather than later. Let’s review our options so far shall we?

For the sake of this post, I’m going to pretend his last name is Morris and mine is Zone.

Option 1: Zone as their last, Morris as a middle
When we first addressed this issue, before we were even engaged, Mike was strongly considering the idea of giving them my last name and making his last name a middle for each child. His last name works really well for a boy’s middle name, and works just fine for a girl.** I was totally on board with this idea because my name is much more unique and interesting and very special to me. Also, Mike’s family has a tradition of passing on the father’s first name as a middle name to the oldest son.

So our first son would be: First Michael Morris Zone

And we’d probably therefore name any subsequent children in a similar fashion, two last names, the second being Morris. I also loved the idea of starting all middle names with M, and we have the perfect girl’s middle name: Marill (pronounced like Meryl Streep). It’s a combination of his mom (Marilyn) and my mom (Jill), plus he has a great great (or something) grandfather named Merrill.

So our first daughter would be: First Marill Morris Zone.

We were leaning toward this option for a long time, until Mike began to think about Option 3. Don’t jump ahead though. Check out Option 2 first.

Option 2: Morris as their last, Zone as a middle
We could just switch the first option around, right? Well, technically yes, but I’m just not cool with that. I know it’s a double standard — I’m ok with making his as a middle and not mine. But like I said above, my name is more unique and interesting, and it’s very special to me. I want Zone somewhere in their last name, and of course I totally respect Mike wanting the same thing. Which brings us to option 3.

Option 3: Hyphenate
Oh yes, the old hyphenation trick. When I shared with Mike awhile ago that one of my favorite feminist bloggers had a baby, I happened to mention that the baby was given a hyphenated name. I think Mike had an epiphany, and now this is his preferred option. I’m actually not a huge fan of hyphenated names for a variety of reasons. And I just keep thinking, if we weren’t willing to hyphenate ourselves, is it fair to do that to our children? It just seems like it could easily be a burden, and I’m not sure I want to willing put that on my children. BUT! It is a very fair compromise for a couple with two last names, so it might be the way we go.

Anybody out there grow up with a hyphenated name? I would love love love to hear your opinions on this.

Option 3a: Zone-Morris and Option 3b: Morris-Zone
I need to talk about these two together. It’s hard to talk about these options without revealing our names, but I guess for anyone who knows us, it’ll be easier. Beyond just how they sound, which I’ll get into, are there any kind of “rules” or guidelines for hyphenating? Not that we’d automatically follow them, but I’m curious. In my mind, the first spot is the preferred spot. I’ve known people who were hyphenated in childhood and dropped a name in adulthood, and they always drop the second name.

But I’ve also heard that the second spot is more coveted. I guess the assumption is that when a woman gets married she keeps her name and tacks his on the end, making that the “family name.” My sister, who hyphenated when she was married, tells me that people often assume her “real” last name is the second one, which was actually her husband’s. I’m just really curious what people think about the “rules.”

Aside from all of that, I can’t decide which sounds better. We sort of think that Morris-Zone (only with our real names) makes Morris sound like an adjective for Zone. On the other hand, Zone-Morris maybe doesn’t roll of the tongue as easily.

Option 4: One for each!
I think this is the most bizarre thing, but it has been suggested to us in all seriousness more than once, so I’ve got put it out there. The idea is if we have two kids, we make one a Morris and one a Zone. I just can’t wrap my head around that, but I wonder if it’s ever been done before and how it worked. I also wonder what you do in the event of a third child.

Option 5: Make it up
Zorris? Mone? Zonis? Morone? I remember when the daughter in Father of the Bride 2 says that she and her husband are considering combining their names to create a new last name for their child. I thought, WHAT? You can’t do that, you lose all the meaning and history of the original names. And I still pretty much feel that way. Sometimes it works, and I really don’t have a problem with others doing it. But I would hate to lose either of our names in some strange mishmash. Mike is not a fan either, by the way.

Anything else?
Did we forget or overlook any other options?

I’m looking for major input here. Any advice or opinions or stories you’d like to share would be so much appreciated.

*I guess I didn’t write about Mike’s feelings on the issue, only mine. I think because for Mike it has always been a total non-issue. Maybe that’s something he should write about though, huh? Hon, you want to work on that?

**We like to keep this blog somewhat unsearchable by our names, but I’ll give you a hint for those who don’t know. His last name is a very common English/Scottish/Irish last name starting with M that also works as a male first name. Mine, by the way, is a really sweet Dutch name that, despite its brevity, is almost always mispronounced.

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Yay! We got our first negative comment. I think that makes us official or something right? Because it’s our first, I thought I’d share. On the post about why Mike is so perfect for me, Renae said this:

Ok, so he’s perfect only because he does chores????? Hopefully he has other redeeming qualities. Otherwise, you could just hire a maid.

Thanks, Renae, for reminding me that my husband is more than just a maid. Sometimes I forget and even try to leave him a tip. How embarrassing. Although, I would like to point out that the title of the post is “Some of the many reasons my husband is perfect for me,” which, at least to me, would indicate that there are lots of reasons my husband is perfect for me, beyond the chores thing.

Also, if you read closely, you’ll see that I wrote “as an example, just take a look at all he does to keep our household running smoothly.” Again, offering an example usually indicates that are other examples, too. At least in my experience.

And you may remember that I wrote a little bonus section (it’s the part in the parentheses) where I outline some of the other things that make him great beyond the “chores.” I don’t know, to some that might suggest he has other redeeming qualities.

Finally, I really appreciate the suggestion to hire an actual maid. Oh how I’d love to, but unfortunately we just can’t afford one. So I guess it’s a good thing my husband practically is a maid. I mean, that’s the reason I married him afterall.

Anyway, thanks for making us feel official Renae!

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As most of you know, I decided a long time ago that I wouldn’t change my last name when I got married. Before I met Mike, I heard several times from several people that once I met the right guy I’d change my mind. Once I was actually getting married, I’d understand why most women want to share their husband’s last name. I also heard that if you really love a man, you take his name. You just do. I called bull shit every time I heard it, and even though spite is not at all the reason I stuck with my last name, it sure feels good to say, “See? Suck it.” to all the doubters.

Kidding. About the suck it part. But I am proud to say that I don’t regret my decision for a second. It’s been almost 8 months since the wedding and not once have I thought maybe I’d rather be a M—–. It just doesn’t suit me. I am and always will be a Z—.

So what has it been like to be a married couple with two different last names? Pretty insignificant. There have been a few times that I’ve had to explain the difference, but it’s usually a non-issue. When I called my car insurance provider to add Mike to my policy, my agent asked for his name, and when I gave it, she paused and then asked, “So did your name change then?” When we go to adoption meetings, I usually introduce us like “I’m Shannon Z— and this is my husband Mike M—–.” I make a point to say my husband so nobody assumes we’re not married when I say his last name, but I also make a point to say his last name so nobody assumes it’s the same as mine. That’s about as complicated as it’s gotten so far.

We do get the occasional piece of mail addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Michael M—–, but unless it’s someone we think should be aware of our situation, we just laugh about it. I don’t go by Mrs., I’m not a M—–, and what? A Michael? Definitely not a Michael.

I love my last name and I’m glad I didn’t lose it. Plus, it’s extra special because one of my (married) sisters is still a Z— too, and another one hyphenated. Of four sisters, that’s pretty cool. How modern of us, right?

Now, the other thing I’ve heard is that I’ll change my mind when kids come along. One happy family with one happy last name. Who knows. I’m still willing to bet we’ll find another solution, but I’d hate to eat my words, so again, we’ll just see.

Speaking of kids and what last name to give them, we’ve been discussing it a lot lately. More on that later.

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I think with all the LOADS of information we’ve obtained about adoption, we’re even more confused than before. In a good way — we’re knowledgeable and aware of our options. But we’re overwhelmed and unsure about what makes sense for us. There are so many things we want to get in order, have to get in order, before we can move forward, but at the same time, we’re ready NOW. Or soon at least. Or we think we are. We’re not sure!

We want to be parents, but we’re not sure how we want to become parents. Save lots of money and adopt an infant? Save lots of money and adopt a toddler internationally? Not worry about saving money and adopt an older child (or children)?

We’ve been talking about all of this a lot. We started to talk about goals and how to reach them. We decided we first need to buy a new car. Mike’s isn’t going to last much longer, and even though it’s lovely not having a car payment, he needs something better. So we have to save for a down payment and adjust our budget to accommodate a car payment. That means, short of finding brilliant new high-paying jobs, we need to decrease our student loan payments.

We also need to move. Our lease is up at the end of September, so the goal is to find a way to move by then. We’d like to be in GR, our hometown and the place where most of our family lives. This could mean a few different things for me, most likely a commute. Someday we might consider buying a house, but we couldn’t possibly afford a down payment any time soon, so we’ll be renting for awhile still.

And all this, ideally, has to happen before we adopt children. Meaning, if we decide to go the infant route and have to save thousands of dollars, we are a LONG way off. Big time long. And did I mention we’re 30 (well, 29 and 30)? I realize there is still plenty of time, and we don’t want to rush anything, but I feel like the thing we think we want is nearly unobtainable, at least not for a very long time. And the other option, the one that’s much more obtainable, might not be the best fit for us right now. We’re interested, but unsure about our ability to parent older children at this point in our lives.

We’re just not sure what to do. I guess writing it out helps. Thanks for listening blogworld…

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Conquering the snow

Yesterday our part of the country got A LOT of snow. Not the most I’ve ever seen, but enough to shut things down for awhile. We were both home from work, though neither of us was actually not working. By mid-afternoon it wasn’t snowing anymore though, so Mike went out to dig out our cars while I sat on a conference call. When the call was done, I went out to help just in time for him to finish up, so we decided to play in the snow instead!

I’m not a snow person. I guess I wouldn’t mind sledding, but I don’t own a sled or snow pants or any good snow apparel really, so I just don’t. But since I was somewhat bundled up, I thought it would be fun to conquer our parking lot snow mountain.

Mike joined me, but on his way down he got a little stuck.

It was fun, but after about 10 minutes, we were over it. We went back inside, made a frozen pizza and cozied up under blanket to watch our latest disc of Six Feet Under. Has anyone watched that show? We’re on season 2 and I really like it. We were kind of wary because after hearing crazy rave reviews for The Wire, we gave it a shot and pretty much hated it. We gave up after the first season. But SFU has totally redeemed television series recommendations for us!

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