Passover has passed me over

NOTE: This post is going to get a little more personal than I normally get, so feel free to skip if you choose to.  I know that some of my readers are primarily about the cultural stuff I write about, or maybe the parenting tips, or who knows, even the sponsored stuff I occasionally do.  But this is for the ones who might be interested in the personal.

This one is about my relationship with my religion.

 I’ve got a hard relationship with Judaism.

On one hand I feel very Jewish- my identity is very much as a Jew, at least culturally.  I had a Bar Mitzvah, I went to Israel, I can read Hebrew (although my understanding is limited) I went to Hebrew High School (The Harry Elkin Midrasha), and even taught there for two years.  I know the blessings by heart, or mostly, I have Passover Seders in my house, we occasionally have Shabbat, and I can “Oy vey” and “Nu, so…” with the best of them. I married a Jewish woman, and we stepped on the glass. I cry at Fiddler on the Roof.  I’m also a big fan of Bagels and Lox, brisket, and knishes. Kashe not so much.  And guilt?  Do I know about guilt! Well, that’s part of the reason for this blog post.

 I want my son to know Judaism.  I want him to have a Bar Mitzvah, and know the blessings over wine, and bread, and matzah.  I want him to know what a lulav and an etrog are, to know the sounds of the Shofar being blown, I want that to be part of his identity, for him to feel connected to this group of people who have struggled over great adversity and managed to survive for thousands of years.  He is part of that struggle, as I am, and as my parents were before me, and their parents before them.

On the other hand, I am not a practicing Jew. I don’t fast on Yom Kippur, don’t eat matzah at Passover, don’t regularly stop working on Shabbat, or even light the candles.  I eat pork and shellfish with abandon.  I’m not a member of a synagogue, I don’t go to synagogue with any kind of regularity (and when I do go, I kind of resent it)  I have a great doubt that any of those things will help me in an afterlife I don’t think I believe in and haven’t gotten much spiritual comfort from.

I don’t think I’d go so far as to say I’m an atheist, I believe there is some Creator, but not one that I have a “personal relationship” with or cares whether or not I work on Shabbat, or eat cheeseburgers. And while I feel a part of the grander scheme of Judaism, I have never felt a part of an individual community of Judaism.  Maybe for about 10 minutes, but certainly not on a sustained level.

The most spiritually moved I’ve felt has been at the theatre, and occasionally while sitting on a rock jetty with my back to the shore, watching the waves roll in.  (Oh my god, my spiritualism is a tampon commercial!)

When my parents were alive, I went to synagogue, and fasted at Yom Kippur, and didn’t eat bread during Passover, and all those other things. I didn’t keep kosher, but neither did my parents.  But I kind of felt that I was doing it for my mom, and not for me, and when she passed away, I decided to stop.  Since then, I have become increasingly more ornery about practicing Judaism.

When my wife and I lived in NY, we were part of a synagogue, but I never felt very close to that community.  Perhaps because it was my wife’s community, perhaps because soon after I started going there was a great deal of flux due to the spiritual leader leaving, perhaps because my wife got involved in the behind-the-scenes of synagogue politics, and I saw the worst of it.

In the Passover Haggadah there is a parable about the four sons, the wise, the wicked, the simple, and the one who doesn’t know enough to ask.  Each has a question about what is going on, and you are supposed to answer each differently.

When I was younger, I always cast myself as the wise son, the one who includes himself, and asks the question “What did God command us to do?”   but now I’m pretty sure I’m the wicked son, the one who holds himself apart from the group, and asks the question, “What did God command YOU to do?”

(a kind of funny film demonstrates this parable below)

So I’m in a quandary– I feel like I’m Jewish, but don’t really believe in (or do) all of the stuff that makes one Jewish.  And I want my son to be Jewish, or at least know about Judaism.  But I’m setting him a bad example, at least as a Jew.  

I’m sure I’m not alone.

I feel like I have two choices–

1) fake it ’til I make it.  Set a better example as a Jew, even though I am not getting much out of it. That might mean more synagogue time for me, more fasting, more “Religion for the sake of religion” instead of for the sake of me.

2) Don’t fake it. Explain as best I can why I want him to be involved and knowledgeable, and when the inevitable charges of hypocrisy come, parry them by letting him know that when he’s18, he can make his own decisions.

Is there a third option?  Or a fourth option? For those of you who are religious doubters, what are you doing to help give your child/children a basis in religion?

My Son’s Pretty Perfect Day

Every once in a while, you get a perfect day.  Everything seems to go your way, and you get to fit a little bit of all of your favorites in.

You can’t quite plan it like that.  It just happens.

Yesterday, there was no school because of Report Card Pickup, so we planned accordingly.  Everything fell into place, and  here’s the rundown of my son’s perfect day.

Helping me with my Blog Project (more to come soon!)
  • Got to sleep in until around 7 (he’s normally up at 6 am, as school starts at 7:30 am)
  • Then he got to play video games until about 8:30
  • I made him his favorite breakfast (pancakes and a cereal bar and strawberries)
  • After that, he helped me with a blog project/household project.  He got to use my video camera to help me document stuff for my blog.  He also got to pretend to be a superhero, and fight off the evil Toilet Fill Valve of Doom.
  • We got dressed and went to Report card pickup, where he got straight A’s.
    Straight A’s for the bear!
  • After that we went to the Post Office to get his passport taken care of so that we can go on a wild European adventure this summer.
  • We then went to his friend’s house in preparation to going to our first Cubs game of the year.
  • It was a little cold, so his friend gave him a jacket that was too small, and is now his to keep!
  • At the game, he got to eat his favorite meal (chicken nuggets)
  • At the game, we hung out with his friend for a while, and then also saw his cousin, and her boyfriend, who had great seats behind the dugout.  The boyfriend is kind of a kid rockstar. While we were visiting them there, an opposing player gave my son a game ball!
  • It was getting too cold, and the Cubs were losing 4-2, so we left the game in the sixth inning and got a donut on the way back to his friend’s house.
    At the Cubs-Brewers game with his friend.
  • At his friend’s house, the friend realized that they’d bought some extra Skylander games at a flea market that they already had and he generously gave them to my son.
  • We left the friend’s house to purportedly get a special treat for having straight A’s.  What my son didn’t know is that we had tickets for the opening night of Aladdin.  The Cubs were still losing.   
We arrived at Aladdin.  He had no idea!
  • We had dinner at Roti, and my son got to eat his favorite Pita.

  • Our seats were in the dress circle, so were EXCELLENT!
  • The show was phenomenal (Look for a review coming soon!)
  • At the intermission, he got M and Ms.
  • At the end of the show, we took the subway home, where a very nice lady let him watch the end of the Dodgers/Rockies game on her phone. (I allowed it)
  • While we were on the El home, we discovered that the Cubs scored 4 in the ninth inning to come back and win the game!
  • When we got home, his mom was waiting for him to give him a big hug and kiss and ask about the show.

We planned some of this, but not all.  Some of it just happened.  It wasn’t until it was almost over that I realized that he had a nearly perfect day, and got to do just about everything he loves to do in one day.  I mentioned it to him and he agreed.

What’s in your perfect day?

Plumbing the Depths of My Confidence With DIYZ

 Sometimes, it’s not what you know about home improvement, it’s what you don’t know that is important.

Disclosure: I am a compensated DIYZ-sponsored blogger. Opinions are 100% my own.

Check out the hashtag #DIYGuys to find other cool posts about the app.

If you’d like to check out DIYZ, The DIYZ App is free to download and is available in the Apple App Store for iPhone and Google Play for Android. For a limited time, the video chat feature is FREE!
My son and I are a little afraid of the evil toilet fill valve.

PLEASE NOTE: I am not a plumber, nor do I play one on TV.  I don’t have any real plumbing skills or experience to speak of.

My experience with plumbing usually entails checking out the issue, despairing a little, freaking out a lot, and finally calling a plumber who then comes over, charges a whole lot of money to do nearly nothing, while the whole time I watch like a hawk, trying to figure out what he’s doing so I won’t have to call him next time.

One time, a guy came and literally just flicked the switch to fix a problem.  It cost me $150 to have him do that.  As he explained as I wrote the check- “It’s not what I did that you are paying for- it’s the knowledge to do what I did.”  Needless to say, I never called that guy again.

Over the years I have gained a little bit of knowledge.  But it’s not just knowledge that you need.  It’s the confidence to use that knowledge.  And that’s not something I have a lot of.

 I’ve recently discovered  the DIYZ app, which is a mobile app that helps Do It Yourselfers with a lack of confidence or knowledge to complete projects around the house.   DIYZ stands for “Do It Yourself.  Do It Wise.”

Here’s what I like about the DIYZ app:

  • They have a vast list of over 50 home improvement projects that can be accomplished.
  • They have easy to understand step-by-step videos that display clearly how to complete each project.
  • They have TRAINED PROFESSIONALS on call who are ready to video chat with you to help solve any problems that might arise. If video chat isn’t your thing, you can send them photos they can annotate, or just talk over the phone.
  • They have a project materials/tools list that you can purchase directly on Amazon or you can take the list straight to your local hardware store, 

It’s perfect for guys like me with a dangerous amount of knowledge (read: just a little) and a lack of confidence.

(As mentioned above, this is a sponsored post, and I’m being compensated for writing it, but my opinions and experiences are my own)

Currently, their video specialists are free to chat with!  (I imagine that will change over time.  After all, there is no such thing as a free lunch.  Or a free plumbing consult!)


The Project I chose to do.

Our downstairs toilet has had problems for a while.  I’ve thought of just having the whole toilet replaced, but financially that doesn’t make sense.  It still works, it just doesn’t work great.  One of the biggest problems has always been that once you flush, the water doesn’t get into it fast enough.  As I mentioned above, I am not a plumber, but it seemed to me that the water valve was to blame.  Occasionally I’d get no water through it, and if I opened the tank and massaged the water valve a little, a tiny stream would come out.  When I was looking for a good DIYZ project to try out the service, this is one of the projects on the DIYZ list! SCORE!

I went to the local hardware store and showed them the picture of what I was trying to replace.  They informed me it was a toilet fill valve.  I purchased it (they only had one generic one, but apparently the fixtures are all the same.)

My 8-year-old son was with me helping me out.  He videotaped and took some photographs, and of course, dressed up like a Pikacsuper hero with a sword and bow and arrow. Because, WHY NOT?

I took home my purchases and opened up the packaging.  I looked at the directions which were amazingly complicated, and started to despair. But then I remembered DIYZ!  I watched their  4-step video on ADJUSTING OR REPLACING A TOILET FILL VALVE.  It looked pretty easy…

An unscheduled stop to … review the intructions.

And it was! I completed the project on my own, with the help of my assistant!

From reviewing the diagrams and the videos and the old valve (with an unscheduled stop to … ummm… use the facilities)  I was able to figure it out.  And when I turned the water back on and flushed the toilet, I was amazed to discover that it all worked properly! I felt like a plumbing hero!

I’m sure that an actual plumber would have been able to fix this in nothing flat without the anxiety or fear, but it would have cost a lot more.  And now I have more confidence to go on and do the next project! (And as my wife never fails to remind me, there are plenty of projects available to do in my house if I would only set my mind to them!)
The plumbing hero battles against the evil Toilet Valve!
And conquers it!  All is right in the world!

This was an easy project to do and I would definitely use the DIYZ app again.  The how-to video was very clear, but what I like most about it is the possibility of on-call help when you need it.  (And the fact that it turned out I didn’t need it was even cooler!)  

I am now looking for other projects around the house that might be on the DIYZ list. (Looking around, I see that INSTALL A DOOR SWEEP is also on the list, and that’s something that is on my list as well!) As I mentioned there are over 50 projects, including building a breakfast tray, replacing a light fixture, installing a USB outlet, and much more.

If you’d like to check out DIYZ,  it is free to download and is available in the Apple App Store for iPhone and Google Play for Android. For a limited time, the video chat feature is FREE! (Please note: Video hours are limited currently.  Check the app for details)

Here’s a video of my son helping me.  He says in the video that it is his first time using a sponge.  I don’t know if that’s really true, he’s at the very beginning of his plumbing career from this project I know he’s building confidence to do his own plumbing projects in the future!

Fatherhood is a two way street: #thanksBaby

Disclosure: I have partnered with Life of Dad and Pampers for this promotion.  All thoughts and stories are my own.

As I did last year, I am happy to celebrate Father’s Day as an ambassador for the Pampers: #thanksbaby campaign.

Pampers wants  to remind dads everywhere that fatherhood is a two-way street.  This is a great message and it tracks strongly with my own experience.

As our babies turn into toddlers and our toddlers turn into children and our children turn into young adults, they are learning and growing from us, and SIMULTANEOUSLY  we are learning and growing from them.

I may have told this story before but it bears repeating.

Me and my newborn son! 

I am a late to life father- I was 44 when my son was born.

I had a whole bunch of fears when my son was born.  I knew that my work as a touring performer and clown was going to have to radically change, that I was going to be the primary caregiver for my child.  I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about that.  I had been making my living as an artist for over 20 years and I didn’t know if I was going to be capable (or want to do something else)  

I was also really scared that I wouldn’t be up to the task of caring for an infant: of feeding it properly, of changing its dirty diapers (#thanksPampers!  You were a total lifesaver on that one!), of stopping him or her from crying or soothing them to sleep.

A caricature done of us at the Hudson River Museum

My biggest fear was that at the end of the day I wouldn’t be happy- that the change in my life that I was going to get as a father/dad wouldn’t make me happier than I was as a relatively successful artist.

I spent my life as an artist avoiding responsibilities in order to be happy.  I didn’t have any plants so that I could tour at a moment’s notice.  I lived in an apartment that I could literally shut up for three months without having to worry about anything going wrong.  (Well not too much)

But it turns out that I was up to all of those challenges and more.  Not only that, but adding responsibilities to my life made me happier– something that was completely counterintuitive to me.

I can confidently say that I have never been happier as a person since I became a dad.  And my happiness continues to grow as he gets older.  It’s the gift that keeps on giving!

When my son was a baby I learned from him to sleep whenever there was an opportunity, to relish moments of play, to get down on the floor and look up from his perspective.

I definitely didn’t throw away my shot. (and neither did he!)

When my son was a toddler I re-learned how to wonder at the world, to answer the question why multiple times, and to get deliriously happy when there are small gains:  First words, first steps, first poop in the toilet.

My son is 8 now, and the diapering days are long past me (although I am sad to say that occasionally I do need to remind him to wipe better.) Hey it happens to everyone. But at least I don’t have to wipe him anymore!)

I am still learning and growing from him.  He’s introducing me to his favorite books (Ranger’s Apprentice and the Indian In the Cupboard) and we’re discussing the crazy plotting that is Star Wars, and the intricacies of Hamilton rap/rhymes. (with a stern admonition that some words may only be sung!)

 Earlier this year we worked on his first science fair project together, and we have even geeked out over fidget spinners.  I’ve been coaching his basketball team and he’s getting better as a player, even as I get better as a coach.

I can’t wait for the next phase!


When a baby is born, a dad is born. This Father’s Day, Pampers is encouraging dads to give thanks to their kids for making them feel special, and to recognize how babies (and children) help the dad to grow along the journey of fatherhood.

Please join them by tweeting or instagramming how your baby changed your life with the hashtag #ThanksBaby.

Here’s a great video from Pampers to remind us dads to thank our kids for making us dads
Happy Fathers Day from me! (and from Pampers!)

Happy Father’s Day!

Want to wish you all a very happy Father’s day!

My son gave me a very nice Father’s Day Card. It’s a nesting card, with 5 different panels, that are supposed to be all about me. Clearly done at school, but fun.  A few days ago he was asking me about my favorite movie, my favorite color, and my favorite foods, so I kind of thought this might be where this was heading.

Still it paints a strange picture of me as a bird-hating, bird killing Diet coke drinking clown/fiend of indeterminate weight who desires a moped, eats pizza all the time, has high brow taste in movies, wants to win the lottery, and lets his son speedskate and go to camp.

Except for the bird-killing part, he’s kind of got me down!

I decided to do this now for my dad, for when I was 8. (that would be Father’s Day 1972, which happens to be the first “Official Father’s Day” in April of that year when Nixon signed Public Law 92-278 in April.  ) The day was Sunday June 18, 1972, just like this year!

Here’s mine about my dad at that time:  (along with my son’s answers for reference)


NAME: Alan
AGE:  34 (He turned 35 Aug 1, 1972)
HEIGHT: 6’1″

FOOD: Chinese food
DRINK: Gingerale
MOVIE: The Sting
SPORTS: Watching Baseball
CHORE: Going to work

I know you want to travel and play bridge.  I know you want to go to Disneyworld.  I know you want me to work with my head and not my hands.  I know you want me to mow the lawn.

I know you don’t like insects.  I know you want to have a dog.  I know you don’t want to mow the lawn. I know you don’t like to argue with Mom.



1. You are really smart and good at math.
2. You play games with me.
3. You like to tell funny jokes
4. You share your candy with me.
5. You are very generous to other people.

I Love you, Dad!

Barcelona: When Terrorism Hits Home

This is not the blogpost I wanted to write about Barcelona.

I wanted to write about the fantastic museum my son and I saw yesterday morning, just off the end of Las Ramblas, (yes, the same street as the terrorist attack)  the Maritime Museum of Barcelona (MMB), which features an amazing exhibit about one of the galleys that was built there, and a full length replica of one of the amazing galleys(you can’t go on it, but you can view it from a number of angles.  The exhibit is interactive, has computer games for kids to play (when you build a ship, where does the raw materials come from?  A game about all of the trades needed to build the ship, and an explanation of the process of building a ship)  It also has 6 other exhibits,  as well as a great cafe, a submarine in its courtyard, a historic ship on the harbor, and is housed in a building that has been there for 2000 years.

I wanted to write about the Bjork exhibit that I saw yesterday afternoon, at the Center for Contemporary Culture of Barcelona (CCB), a VR tour into Bjork’s mind and discography, where I and 20 other strangers were led into her strange, sometimes overwrought, strangely optimistic world. It features a collaboration with David Attenborough, an explanation of her app about her last album, and a new way of thinking about composing music.  Here in Barcelona, I’ve worn an Oculus Rift at a museum about 10 times in 4 different exhibits.  Barcelona is state of the art when it comes to museums.

I wanted to write about how much my family and I have been loving our 3 week sojourn in Barcelona, of having the luxury to explore a city that is so full of culture and architecture and food and life that it would take another 9 weeks just to get to know, and we probably wouldn’t even see everything then.  About how we were leaving in 2 days, but we are already planning our return.

I wanted to write about all the fabulous adventures that we are having, and how I am so far in the weeds about writing about this stuff.

But as a rock and roll icon once explained, over bass and drums,

“You can’t always get what you want.”

Instead, I’m writing about how close we got to what was clearly a terrorist attack, and how we had to explain to my almost 9-year-old child why the store closed down and no one was allowed on the streets.

Las Ramblas, the street where it happened, not only runs through the center of Barcelona, it runs through the center of our Barcelona experience   We are living in an apartment about 1/2 mile away, up the same street (Ramblas de Catalunya)  The subway line, our bus line, even one of the supermarkets we shopped in were right there at the Plaza de Catalunya.

The day of the attack my son and I traveled under the street where s we the attack occurred at around 12 noon.   We have walked the stretch the van drove countless times in the 3 weeks that we have been in Barcelona.   Out of the 20 days we’ve spent in Barcelona, we’ve touched Plaza de Catalunya and Las Ramblas on about 17 of them.


When the attack occurred, I was in a museum 3 blocks away, and had walked on the street where it happened, trod on the Miro mural that is now marred with victim’s blood at around 3 pm that same day.  I went into the Boqueria, just off the strip, to buy a juice and a snack to take to the museum.

My wife and son were out shopping on Las Ramblas, getting treats and gifts for family on the way home.  They had eaten at the McDonalds on Las Ramblas (my son’s first McDonalds in 3 weeks, a near miracle!) at around 3:30 pm.

It is not quite a miracle, but incredibly fortunate that we weren’t there when it occurred.  We could have been.  If I had left the museum early, I would have probably walked over there to walk home (or if I were feeling really tired, pick up the subway and go 2 stops.  My wife could have easily been on Las Ramblas getting ice cream or candy instead of the Gothic Quarter, two blocks away.

I wasn’t with my wife and kid when it happened.  They were in a candy shop when they heard a lot of yelling.  They said there was an accident on Las Ramblas.  They went to an ice cream store nearby, and that’s when they closed the shutters and told people to wait.  If you have to be locked in somewhere, an ice cream store is a pretty good place to be.  While they were in the ice cream store, my son cried twice– once while in the store and once when leaving.  My wife was freaked out also, but stayed strong for him.  My wife was in NY during 9/11, so she knows about terrorism.

My watch kept on buzzing during my VR time (I had joined the museum’s wifi) and when I had a moment, I noticed I had some inquiries asking if I was OK.  I checked wifi, texted my wife, and that’s when I learned what had happened.  I got ready to leave the museum when I was told we couldn’t leave yet– the museum was closed   I finally got to leave, and gave Plaza de Catalunya a wide berth, ended up walking up a street I hadn’t yet walked up.  My wife and son did the same, but on the other side of Plaza de Catalunya, stopping at a friend’s house along the way to get a cold drink, take in the news, and check in with family and friends.


When we were all finally home together, (AROUND 8 PM) we had a nice big long family hug and a chat about what was going on.  My son was rightfully scared, and I explained to him that people do bad things to get attention, to wake people up a little, to scare people into not living their lives.  But it’s important that we continue on with our lives because if we don’t, that means that their bad tactics worked.  And we can’t let that happen.

I’ve said similar to him before when I’ve had to explain some of the sad state in our world, (9/11, Donald Trump, London Bridge)  but I’ve never meant it more.

Today, my son asked me if there was another attack. We opened the windows, and it’s a bright sunny day.  Many of the museums, and the big festival that we were going to go to has been cancelled to mourn for the dead. We’ll spend the day packing, and eating, and walking around this great city.

 It’s our last day in Barcelona for a while, but we’ll be back.  

Selfie of the 3 of us near the top of Park Guell

PS- while writing this blog post, I asked my son to write his journal of yesterday.  He’s cried a couple of times more and doesn’t want to write about what happened because he doesn’t want to remember, so clearly, this isn’t over for him.  I’m okay with him not writing today, but I want him to remember, because I want him to remember what you do when cowards and bullies and bigots and racists and crazy people try to terrorize you.

Stand your ground, continue onwards, and persevere.

Our hearts are with all those families who were less fortunate than us and were affected, injured or killed during this tragedy.

Unique Middle Names For Boys; 150 Options We LOVE

Picking out the first name can cause enough stress, and then once you find one you have got to find a middle name that goes along with it. And sure, no one will judge your name choice as harshly as if you were naming a royal baby but it’s still a huge decision! You might be looking for something classic or maybe trendy or strong for your baby boy. Whatever the case, we have got our favorite unique middle names for boys picked out for you here. Use this as your naming cheat sheet! 

unique middle names for boys

How to Pick a Middle Name 

There is no right or wrong answer here! You can go with a passed down family name or something no one has heard before. My recommendation is to have a little fun with the middle name. Pick something you truly love! You don’t have to worry about the middle name choice for your baby boy the same way you do for the first name, as it isn’t something they will really have to use if they don’t want to. 

Think of a middle name as a way to make your child’s name sound stronger or more interesting. It’s like a bonus addition to their first name. Oh, and make sure you like the way it sounds when you say it sternly. If your little boy is anything like my little boys, you’ll probably be saying it quite often. 

Once you have picked one out, hop over to Pottery Barn to make one of these precious keepsake blocks. If blocks aren’t your thing check out a blanket or rocking horse. It feels so good to finally set things in stone!  

middle names for baby boys

150 Unique Boy Middle Names 

Middle Names You’d Never Think Of

We are kicking off the list with some of the coolest middle names for your rad new little dude! I am absolutely obsessed with “Bodhi” which we have included here. It would pair so well with a classic first name, giving it a little more flavor. I haven’t hopped completely on the bandwagon of super unique names, but I do love the idea of a unique middle name and I think everything on the list below provides that. 

  1. Ace 
  2. Zander
  3. Knox 
  4. Bowie
  5. Elian 
  6. Rocco
  7. Jax
  8. Harley 
  9. Jagger
  10. Presley 
  11. Bodhi
  12. Zion 
  13. Urban
  14. Braxton 
  15. Bell
  16. Zeus 
  17. Braun 
  18. Nevin 
  19. Grayson
  20. Addison
  21. Indigo 
  22. Hugo 
  23. Booker
  24. Phoenix 
  25. Sky
  26. McKinley
  27. Aspen

Buy this wall sign here!

Classic But Forgotten Boy Middle Names

Classic names just make me swoon. I think they are both precious and strong, and the best part of all is that you can probably find a family link to at least a couple of these names. Many of these would also make great first names if you are still on the hunt for that; like Conrad, Graham, or Reed. 

  1. Edwin 
  2. Pierre
  3. Crosby
  4. Lawrence
  5. Rhett
  6. Bradford
  7. Jed
  8. Theodore 
  9. Wade
  10. Conrad
  11. Quentin 
  12. Warren
  13. Everett
  14. Winston 
  15. Russell 
  16. Fernando 
  17. Jacque
  18. Leonard 
  19. Murphy
  20. Oliver
  21. Vincent 
  22. Vernon 
  23. Murray
  24. Gabe
  25. Norman 
  26. Ernest 
  27. Percy
  28. Calvin
  29. Dario 
  30. Quincy 
  31. Harvey 
  32. Ezra
  33. Graham 
  34. Antonio 
  35. Sampson
  36. Reed
  37. Frank 
  38. Walter
  39. Roy
  40. Clyde
  41. Luther
  42. Archie 

Trendy Middle Names

I would say that right now trendy boy names are all unique. People are all about mixing up the usual spelling or pulling a name seemingly straight of the dictionary instead of out of the baby book. All the names we have listed below are fun and different! 

  1. Emory
  2. Kent
  3. Riggs
  4. Camden 
  5. Reign 
  6. Beck
  7. Mac
  8. Cade
  9. King
  10. Carmelo 
  11. Fox
  12. Eldridge 
  13. Bailey
  14. Ashwin 
  15. Clayton
  16. Owen
  17. Keanu
  18. Reese 
  19. Renzo 
  20. Arlo 
  21. Keegan 
  22. Luca
  23. Soren 
  24. Ezekiel
  25. Cullen 
  26. Flynn 
  27. Porter
  28. Wilder
  29. Atlas
Unique Middle Names For Boys

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Strong Middle Names For Your Little Boy

It is pretty common when people are naming their boys for them to be on the lookout for something that sounds strong and stable. They want to give their little one a big name to live up to because they know he holds the potential for greatness! Whether you are dreaming of your son being a future doctor, world leader, or athlete these middle names will sound great paired with anything. 

  1. Lewis
  2. Gareth 
  3. Cyan
  4. Silas
  5. Garrison
  6. Jay
  7. Casper
  8. Houston
  9. Ike 
  10. Warren
  11. Landry
  12. Vernon
  13. Cyrus
  14. Otis 
  15. Terrell
  16. Nolan
  17. Zeke
  18. Wren 
  19. Malachi 
  20. Wyatt 
  21. Dallas
  22. Finnley 
  23. Corwin 

My Personal Favorites 

Last but not least, I have rounded up my own favorite unique middle names for boys! Many of them could fit in one or two of the categories above as well. Now I will just keep my fingers crossed that none of them become too popular by the time I have a little one! 

  1. Cash 
  2. Penn 
  3. Callum 
  4. Finn
  5. Levi 
  6. Sutton
  7. Kai
  8. Anjay
  9. Cooper
  10. Kip
  11. Cruz
  12. Beckett 
  13. Kane
  14. Sheridan
  15. Ramon 
  16. Grady 
  17. Omar 
  18. Fitzgerald 
  19. Madison 
  20. Demitri 
  21. Ash
  22. Perry
  23. Collins 
  24. Gordon
  25. Frankie 
  26. Gray
  27. Sawyer 
  28. Stevie
  29. Jude 
  30. Cohen 

Are you looking for something classic or maybe trendy or strong for your baby boy? we have got our favorite unique middle names for boys picked out for you here. Use this as your naming cheat sheet! #babyboy #names #boysnames #cheatsheet #guide #list

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Water Toys for Toddlers! 5 Ways to Have Fun in the Sun!

In the hot summer months, the best way to cool off is to play with water toys. Your toddler will absolutely love being able to run around in a swimsuit getting everyone around them wet! Water toys make summer fun easy and enjoyable. Best of all, they encourage you to get outdoors with your toddler and soak up some Vitamin D. We have five water toy categories for toddlers; water tables, sprinklers, pools, splash parks, and splash pads! These aren’t only perfect for toddlers but can be fun for the whole family as well. 


All of these water toys for toddlers can be used in an average sized backyard and require minimal tools. Most will need a garden hose or outdoor water supply, as filling a pool or running a splash park or pad requires being hooked up to a water source. When using any water-related toy toddlers should be closely monitored and supervised to keep them safe. Check out our water and pool safety tips for toddlers to make sure you’re well prepared!

water toys for toddlers

Fun in the Sun; the 5 Best Water Toys for Toddlers

Water table

Many families and classrooms utilize water tables because they are a great water toy for toddlers that help with sensory issues and improve hand-eye coordination. A water table is an interactive table that holds water. Most of them have scoops, buckets, and floating pieces to play with. Many also have features like waterfalls and inner pieces to fill causing water to come spouting out in different areas.

A water table is one of the best water toys for toddlers because it helps them gain independence, learn independent play and gives them a comfortable place to splash. Water tables can be used inside but you wouldn’t catch me with one in my house! This tends to be a messy and wet activity, but that’s what summer is all about! 

Our Favorite Water Table

water toys for toddlers!

Step2 Rain Showers Splash Pond Water Table

The Step2 Rain Showers Splash Pond Water Table is a colorful plastic table with two tiers and 15 accessories for water fun. The table itself is blue with green legs, making it look a lot like a pond or lake. The lower level is shaped like a basin and holds the main water. There’s a sealed plug in the bottom for easy drainage and cleaning.

This bottom basin is the perfect height for toddlers to play independently and has a water wheel, bucket, and rubber duck. The upper tier is a bit higher, perfect for taller children. This top portion is smaller and has a series of holes to create a rain effect. There’s also a hole for creating a water maze. The age range for this water table is 18 months to 8 years. Purchase yours here! 


Sprinkler Water Toys for Toddlers!

Don’t you remember running through the sprinklers in your backyard all summer long? I’m pretty sure our mom had us do this just clean off the popsicle mess, but I loved it! My kids also love running through the sprinklers to cool off, especially because there are toys now to make this even more fun. 

water toys for toddlers

Our Favorite Sprinkler Toys

MeiGuiSha Inflatable Rainbow Sprinkler Toy

This sprinkler is an inflatable rainbow with two clouds on the end that attach to a garden hose. It fills up and then water rains down from the rainbow, creating an arch that children can run under and splash in. By adjusting the water pressure you can change how the water falls and sprays. This water toy is great for use on its own or as an addition to any backyard pool. This toy is also a great water toy for toddlers because the minimum age is 6 months, making this toy a solid investment for years of backyard water fun. Here is pricing! 

water toys for toddlers!

Sun Squad Cactus Sprinkler

This Cactus Sprinkler follows a similar model to the Rainbow Sprinkler. Rather than water falling down from an arch though, it sprays out from all over! It is so cute and I would not mind having it sitting out in my backyard all summer long. Check it out here.

Splash Pads for Toddlers

Another great take on the sprinkler is the backyard splash pad, which is a circular plastic mat that attaches to a garden hose. The pressure of the water fills the mat and pushes water through the holes in the mat, creating a sprinkler effect. This water toy is an easy way to entertain in the backyard without needing a large amount of space. You could even put it in the garage or basement for off-season storage. Splash pads are also great for using with toddlers because they’re easy to assemble and easy to use, keeping the water fun safe for little ones.

Our Favorite Splash Pad for Toddlers

water toys for toddlers!

Splashin’Kids Sprinkle and Splash Play Mat

A great splash pad option is the Splashin’Kids Sprinkle and Splash Play Mat. The mat is 68 inches in diameter, which is plenty of room for multiple children and family members to enjoy at once. The mat is yellow and has a playful duck pond theme with a water, ducks, and lilypad graphic in the center. By adjusting the pressure from the hose you can change how the water sprays and when you’re done simply unplug and drain in between uses. The recommended age for use is 1 month and up, with the ideal age of 18 months to 6 years. Check out current pricing here! 


Splash Park

If you don’t have a splash park in your community, just set one up in your backyard! One of the best water toys for toddlers is an inflatable splash park. These toys implement the fun of inflatable pool floats and adds the splash factor of a splash pad for a private backyard waterpark.

Candy Zone by Intex

The Candy Zone by Intex is an inflatable pool with a waterslide in the middle and a sprinkler feature to keep the water moving. There are two rails along the edges of the pool for rolling balls and inflatable lollipops for water toy fun. This is a great way to beat the heat and enjoy refreshing cool water as well as entertain active children. The age range is 2 years to 10 years because of the size and the skill required to slide and climb. Buy yours here! 


Pools and Pool Water Toys for Toddlers!

The last and most classic backyard water toy is a kiddie pool. These will provide your little one with hours of fun splashing around! Again, be sure to keep a very close eye on your little ones. These pools are small, but there is always a risk of drowning when water is involved. 

If you do have a pool that you’ll be visiting this summer, you probably want some pool toys to entertain your toddler! Below are some of our favorites along with our favorite kiddie pools.

Step2 Play and Shade Pool

The Step2 Play and Shade Pool is a solid plastic shallow pool designed for children 24 months to 6 years. The umbrella attachment creates shade for sun protection and the umbrella pole comes with attachments for playing in the water and creating a waterfall. In the pool, there is a little seat. This is perfect for toddlers who need a solid base for sitting and playing. This toddler pool is a great choice for something age-specific that can help you stay cool and have fun while getting out of the sun. Here is current pricing.  

water toys for toddlers

Melissa and Doug Sunny Patch Spark Shark Fish Hunt Pool Game

“Baby Shark Doo Doo” is probably a song you’re pretty familiar with if you’re the parent of a toddler. Now you can sing it together in the pool, too. Your little one will love scooping up all the fish in their new shark net! Get yours here!

Jungle Squirties from Pottery Barn

There are the cutest little water-friendly toys. Your toddler can play with them during bath time or when they are in the pool! I mean just look at that little hippo, isn’t it adorable? Purchase these animals here! 

  Check out our Rookie Moms Facebook Group, it’s a great group of moms where you can share your experiences, ask for advice and even help out another mom!

In the hot summer months, the best way to cool off is to play with water toys. Your toddler will absolutely love being able to run around in a swimsuit getting everyone around them wet. Check out our water and pool safety tips for toddlers to make sure you’re well prepared! #summer #watertoys #toddlers #toys

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150 Unique Middle Names for Girls [Both Sweet & Strong]

Picking out a name for your precious baby girl can be tough! While I have had a long list of first names in mind for years, figuring out a unique middle name for a girl has always been a struggle for me. If it’s a struggle for you too, then you are in luck because we have gathered some of the most amazing names into this easy to read list for you! Our list includes names inspired by beautiful places, trendy names, classical names that will make you swoon, and even some that you have probably never heard of. 

unique middle names for baby girls

150 Unique Middle Names for Girls 

Unique Middle Names for Girls Inspired By Places

I love girls names that are inspired by pretty places, don’t you? Any of these will be a great addition to the first name you choose and will hopefully spark a bit of wanderlust in your baby girl. Some are short and others are long so you will be able to find one that pairs with the first name you love. 

  1. Paris
  2. Hampton
  3. Arizona
  4. Holland
  5. Vienna
  6. Milan 
  7. Sedona
  8. Capri 
  9. Chandler 
  10. Cheyenne
  11. Bristol

Old Fashioned Middle Names 

Names from the past are definitely having a moment right now. That is probably why I seriously love each name in this section of the list. Although you may have heard these before, they will still make for a unique middle name as they are no longer popular. 

unique middle names for baby girls

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  1. Amelia
  2. Silvia
  3. Imogen
  4. Theresa
  5. Sadie 
  6. Louisa
  7. Fern
  8. Jane
  9. Fern
  10. Marta 
  11. Jane
  12. Ariana
  13. Delila
  14. Vanessa
  15. Scarlett
  16. Eleanor
  17. Fawn 
  18. Nadeen
  19. Ellis 
  20. Matilda 
  21. Bethany
  22. Naomi 
  23. Lillian 
  24. Violet
  25. Eloise
  26. Cecilia 
  27. Clementine (My #1 Pick for Unique Middle Names for Girls)
  28. Harriet 
  29. Camille 
  30. Vivian 
  31. Nanette
  32. Genevieve 
  33. Colette 
  34. Wilma
  35. Seraphina
  36. Joan 
  37. Opal 
  38. Vera 
  39. Ruth 
  40. Viola 
  41. Beverly 
  42. Lindsey
  43. Sofia
  44. Brooke
  45. Ellen
  46. Crystal
  47. Marianna
  48. Victoria
  49. Paige 
  50. Meryl

Trendy Middle Names for Girls

Parents are looking for unique middle names that stand out and these trendy girl names are the perfect way to do that. This section of the list includes everything from the cutest unisex names to names you might not have heard before. You will also find that some of these are common, but there is a twist on the spelling like Camryn. My favorite names from this list are Emeline, Collins, and Esme. 

unique middle names for baby girls

  1. Collins 
  2. Amabella
  3. Quincy
  4. Priyanka
  5. Renee
  6. Blakeley
  7. Everett
  8. Marley 
  9. Winona
  10. Shailene
  11. Harper
  12. Willow
  13. Poppy
  14. Moana (Hello Disney Fans! This is the perfect unique middle name for your girl!)
  15. Amarissa
  16. Juliet
  17. Barrett
  18. Ginger
  19. Piper
  20. Gwyneth
  21. Kaiya 
  22. Karsen
  23. Sheridan 
  24. Blaise
  25. Roxy
  26. Winnie 
  27. Sommer 
  28. Juniper 
  29. Colbie
  30. Malia 
  31. Lucille 
  32. Camryn 
  33. Reyna 
  34. Lena 
  35. Reed
  36. Logan
  37. Parker
  38. Payton 
  39. Grey
  40. Billie 
  41. Clara
  42. Gwen 
  43. Esme 
  44. Mazie
  45. Hattie 
  46. Olive
  47. Reagan 
  48. Ellison 
  49. Ariel 
  50. Emeline 
  51. Sidney
  52. Ashtyn 
  53. Dylan

Short & Sweet Unique Middle Names for Girls

Short & sweet middle names are the key to popular two-part Southern names, like Celia Mae or Anna Luz. Pair these with a 2-3 syllable first name and you will probably find yourself calling your daughter by both her first and middle name, even when she’s not in trouble! 

  1. Tara
  2. Maya
  3. Nikki
  4. Demi
  5. Lindy
  6. Kami
  7. Kellie
  8. Shea
  9. Izzy
  10. Rae 
  11. Bri 
  12. Mae 
  13. Zoë
  14. Gia 
  15. Faye
  16. Bliss 
  17. Luz 
  18. Eve
  19. Rio 

Middle Names You’d Never Think Of

If you are truly looking to find a unique middle name for your baby girl, you have to check these next 20 out because they are all fun but still will stand the test of time. Fun fact, ancient Greeks used to use the name Delta for their fourth born child. If you are on your fourth, you should consider using this pretty middle name! 

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  1. Seneca
  2. Stormi 
  3. Killian
  4. Zelda
  5. Blythe
  6. Winter
  7. Aurora 
  8. Mara
  9. Celeste 
  10. Octavia 
  11. Delta
  12. Eclipse
  13. Mickey
  14. Keilani
  15. Laney
  16. Iris 
  17. Aurelia
  18. Magnolia
  19. Joelle
  20. Natalia 


Pin for later!

Check out our list of 150 names for girls inspired by beautiful places, trendy names, classical names that will make you swoon, and even some that you have probably never heard of. #babynames #names #trendynames #classicalnames #uniquenames #guide #list


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