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Behind Peanut, Pumpkin and Pooh-Bear

A couple of years ago, my friend started calling his 3-month-old Matthew “Money” after the Weird Al Yankovic lyric – “I call him ‘Money’ for short.” The name became so engrained in the family’s life that one day when my friend’s wife mentioned planning a party for Matthew, my friend was confused for a moment who Matthew was.

As parents, we all come up with silly little nicknames that bond us to our kids, from the pointless (my husband and I call our 3-year-old by her initials although she already has an insanely short name. Three letters are a mouthful, man!) to the warm and fuzzy (my best friend calls her son Sam, Sam-a-Lam-a-Ding-Dong).

So why do we reach for nicknames after spending nine months choosing the perfect names for our little ones? It’s pretty simple, according to Laura Wattenberg, author of The Baby Name Wizard and the brain behind “Baby nicknames are more for the parents than the babies," she said via e-mail. "We're expressing our emotions through the names. Also, a grown-up name like Sebastian or Victoria can be something you have to grow into. If your baby is being giggly or wiggly, a more giggly-wiggly name may fit the moment better. And the babies like that we're making silly sounds with big smiles on our faces!”

I love hearing how people come up with their nicknames, so I asked some friends to share the stories behind their choices.

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Mom Athletes Share Their Secrets

Think battling for dominance on the soccer field or roller derby rink is tough? Try following up two hours of heart-racing competition with a load of laundry, a stack of bills and two little ones needing baths. 

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Finally, Sunshine! Are Your Kids Ready for It?

On Saturday we headed out to play in the bubble jets at Tower Grove Park. In our eagerness to get out and enjoy the sunshine, I completely forgot to pack sunscreen.  During the summer I keep tubes and bottles of it everywhere – the car, my purse, the swim bag – but with the rainy spring, I was slow wrapping my head around the usual summertime routines. Luckily the boys didn't burn, but I sure did.

Turns out that more than two-thirds of youngsters are like mine were Saturday, playing in the sun without being adequately protected.

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Education Word of the Week: Summer Slide

A big question looming in many parent’s minds this time of year is “What can I do to help my child retain all the knowledge he gained this school year?” Educators call this loss of information summer slide, or summer setback.

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The Beach is Back

St. Louis is a wonderful place to live, but there are a few drawbacks to living in the middle of the country. Like no beach. But you don’t need to go all the way to Florida to enjoy a little sun and sand. The Magic House is making all our dreams come true with Sandcastle Beach! Ten truckloads of sand are transforming the backyard of The Magic House into a beachfront park. Take a stroll along the boardwalk, cool off under an ocean mister or relax under a beach umbrella while the little ones search for hidden shells. A world-champion sand sculptor is building a gigantic 75-ton sandcastle along the beach’s shore. Don’t forget the sunscreen!

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There is Much to Learn When at the Park

The experience that often makes me feel alone in my role as a stay-at-home father is when I take my daughter to the park on weekdays.

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Why I'm the Last Person to Get a Smartphone

I want a smartphone so bad I crave it. 

I’ll admit it. When I need a fix, I’ll head to the cell phone kiosk at the mall so I can caress the keyboards and touch screens until the salesperson says, “Ma’am, I’ve told you repeatedly to stop making out with the BlackBerry,” and gently rips my lover from my clutch. 

Then I sadly walk out the door with my five-year-old, beat-up flip phone that has treated me well but is as technologically advanced as a Zack Morris phone. 

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The Thin - And Often Padded - Line Between Stylish and Sexy

Getting my first bra in fifth grade was a little on the humiliating side because 1) I had developed earlier than my more petite friends who teased me about my growing chest (which unfortunately did not keep on pace with the rest of my body as I got older), and 2) My mom picked out a stark white bra wrapped up in plastic from JCPenney which today reminds me of the Seinfeld “bro” (or “manziere” if you lean toward Frank Costanza) or an Ace bandage.

Today’s bras are nothing like ours from the 1980s. Department and specialty stores are packed with an abundance of padded, push-up and lace bras that tweens can choose from, but at the same time, leave their parents sobbing in the aisles over their little girls’ quickly diminishing childhoods. In fact, just a few weeks ago, the British retailer Primark pulled its padded bras off its shelves after media and customer outrage accused the store of sexualizing young teens.

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Your Pillow's Calling Your Name

Is anyone else feeling sleepy right about now?

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Cover Kids Contest - Enter by Monday!

The deadline for entering our Cover Kids Contest 2010 is closing in! Enter your child by Monday, May 10 if you'd like your child, or yourself, to be a part of the contest. Cover Kids 2010 is a search for real kids of all ages, sizes, ethnic backgrounds and abilities that will culminate in the winners being featured in our magazine and our Back-to-School Fashion Show in July.

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What? You Say It's Time for a Hearing Check?

When my son was just over a year old, I finally gave in to my husband's worrying and made an appointment to have the baby's eyes checked.  Not because I was noticing any Continue reading »

Two New Options for Moms-to-Be

Expectant parents have two new options for delivery this year: The Fetal Care Center specializes in high-risk pregnancy, birth and neonatal intensive care, while the Birth and Wellness Center of Missouri has certified nurse midwives on staff to assist with labor and delivery.

The Fetal Care Center launched last month through the cooperation of Barnes-Jewish Hospital, Children’s Hospital and the Washington University School of Medicine. It offers fetal diagnosis, fetal surgical interventions, and specialized care for newborns with serious medical conditions. It’s the only such center in the Midwest, according to a press release from Barnes-Jewish, and it expects to draw patients from Missouri and the eight surrounding states.

The Birth and Wellness Center of Missouri will be up and running in St. Charles this summer. For women who expect to experience a normal birth, such centers offer minimal intervention but plenty of hands-on care and education, starting at 32 weeks prior to birth and extending to newborn exams, breastfeeding support and postpartum visits. The center also sees women throughout their pregnancies and offers a full line women's health services throughout their lifespan.

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A League of Their Own

For the past two weeks, players taking the field for Challenger Baseball games Saturday mornings at Tilles Park have been just like those in every other league around town – watching the sky for rain, adjusting their caps and uniforms, taking practice swings with their bats.

These game-time rituals have added poignancy, however, because the players in this league all have developmental disabilities. The unique program pairs the players with volunteer “buddies” ages 10 to 20 whose role is to help the players hit or field the ball when needed, and to encourage them continually.

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Things to Do

Sea Lion Shows at the Saint Louis Zoo

See the Zoo's California sea lions perform acrobatic and athletic feats, including Olympic-style dives on a high-diving platform, flipper walks, frisbee tosses and plenty of surprises. While on stage with the sea lions, the Zoo's trainers explain sea lion behavior and positive-reinforcement training, in addition to the need for conserving the sea lion's ocean habitat.

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Four Little Girls: Birmingham 1963
Sunday, October 20, 2019

Through story and song, the play shines a light on their dreams, their times with family and friends, and the trials and tribulations they faced as children living in a divided and segregationist city. A full chorus sets the tone with spirituals and anthems of the Civil Rights Movement such as "Amazing Grace," "Oh, Freedom," and "Woke Up This Morning." This production is a collaboration between The Black Rep and COCA.

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Not-So-Haunted House at The Magic House
Sunday, October 20, 2019

It's the Not-So-Haunted House that is oh-so-fun! Kids of all ages are invited to dress in their most "boo-tiful" Halloween costumes and have a ghoulishly good time trick-or-treating at The Magic House and getting autographs from their favorite storybook characters.

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