Having A Hard-To-Pronounce Name

Your Name Is Part Of Your Personal Identity, So Never Settle For Mispronunciations

It's simple and complicated at the same time, but I carry it with pride all the same.

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Your name is a large part of your identity. It's what people hear when you're first introduced and it stays with you for your whole life, unless you change it. Each name comes with different meanings and connotations and people can form preconceived notions based on someone's name. This is a story about my name: Anna Bella Masciandaro.

As you may already know, my first name is Anna. Simple, short, elegant, and forever associated with the movie Frozen. I was named after my great aunt Annie. Unfortunately, I never had the pleasure of meeting her because she died a year before I was adopted. My parents described her as "completely lovable and terrifying at the same time" and "a force of nature." I feel like we would have gotten along really well. A perk of having such a simple name is that everyone can pronounce it and it comes with lots of nicknames. Many times I've been called "banana" or some variation thereof. My sister calls me "Ann" and one of my friends calls me "Annie."

As much as I like the simplicity of my first name, I always resented the fact that my parents weren't more creative with my sister and I's first names. Peppi and Oscar are very unique names, but Olivia and Anna? Not so much.

My middle name is Bella. In Italian it means beautiful. The name, however, didn't come with any family significance except for the fact that it reinforces the Italian-ness of my name. Although, my middle name does come with some caveats. Whenever I go to the doctors or the dentist, I sign myself in as Anna, but if my dad signs me in, he signs me in as Annabella. We constantly bicker over the fact that my name is Anna and not Annabella, but he consistently insists that because he named me, he knows what's right and what's not. It sort of makes sense that he calls me Annabella because in Italian families, a lot of people have the same names, so we resort to nicknames. For example, my aunt's name is Maria, but we call her Bigi and my cousin's name is Maria, but we call her Chiara.

A fact that my Dad thought I should point out is that no one in my family except for my mom technically uses their given name. When I was adopted, I was Melea. When my sister was adopted, she was Guo-Yu-Ai (I'm pretty sure I botched the spelling on that one), but now she's Olivia. My dad's name is Orazio, but he goes by Oscar. I guess that's part of the experience of integrating into a new culture.

Unfortunately, my last name is not as easy as my first and middle name. Masciandaro (pronounced ma-shin-da-ro) is a mouthful for people, even Italians. My Italian teacher can't even pronounce my last name correctly. Never in my whole life has someone pronounced my last name correctly on the first try, except for one of my middle school teachers, but he had my sister before me so that's cheating. My last name not only connects me to Italy, but it also makes me the target of nicknames, some of which are fairly creative. In first grade, one kid in my class couldn't pronounce my last name, so in instead of trying to get it right, he resorted to calling me "Anna Marshmallow."

I didn't mind the nickname that much because I love marshmallows, the nickname stuck with me to today as my Finsta now takes on a variation of Anna Marshmallow. One of my friends also calls me mashed potatoes. How that nickname came into play, I'm not really sure of, but it's still a good nickname because I love mashed potatoes (as long as they're doused in gravy.) The uniqueness of my last name also makes it easier to track down family members which I have now learned are scattered across the US, Italy, and Argentina.

My name is my name. It's simple and complicated at the same time, but I carry it with pride all the same. It has history and meaning attached to it, but I don't let that define how I use my name and what my name means to me.

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When You Make A Girl An Aunt, You Change Her World In All The Best Ways

When you make a girl an aunt, you make her the happiest girl in the world.

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My brother and his wife recently blessed our family with the sweetest bundle of joy on planet earth. OK, I may be a little bias but I believe it to be completely true. I have never been baby crazy, but this sweet-cheeked angel is the only exception. I am at an age where I do not want children yet, but being able to love on my nephew like he is my own is so satisfying.

When you make a girl an aunt, you make her a very protective person.

From making sure the car seat is strapped in properly before every trip, to watching baby boy breathe while he sleeps, you'll never meet someone, besides mommy and daddy of course, who is more concerned with the safety of that little person than me.

When you make a girl an aunt, you give her a miniature best friend.

There is something about an aunt that is so fun. An aunt is a person you go to when you think you're in trouble or when you want something mom and dad said you couldn't have. An aunt is someone who takes you to get ice cream and play in the park to cool down after having a temper tantrum. I can't wait to be the one he runs to.

When you make a girl an aunt, she gets to skip on the difficulty of disciplining.

Being an aunt means you get to be fun. Not to say I wouldn't correct my nephew if he were behaving poorly, but for the most part, I get to giggle and play and leave the hard stuff for my brother.

When you make a girl an aunt, you give her the best listening ears.

As of right now I only listen to the sweet coos and hungry cries but I am fully prepared to listen to all the problems in his life in the future.

When you make a girl an aunt, you make her the best advice giver.

By the time my nephew needs advice, hopefully, I will have all of my life lessons perfected into relatable stories.

When you make a girl an aunt, you make her a number-one fan

Anything you do in life sweet boy, I will be cheering you on. I already know you are going to do great things.

When you make a girl an aunt, she learns what true love is.

The love I have for my nephew is so pure. Its the love that is just there. I don't have to choose to show love every day, I don't have to forgive, I don't have to worry if it is reciprocated, it is just there.

When you make a girl an aunt, you make her the happiest person in the world.

I cannot wait to watch my precious nephew grow into the amazing person that I know he is going to be.

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Summer = Rest?

Sometimes it feels as if we need a vacation... from our vacation.

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Ah summer: Popsicles and sun burns, mixed with fresh-squeezed lemonade that local kids are pandering to make enough money for Roman candles and Black Cats. The crack of the bat can be heard among the simmering charcoal grills and Troy-bilts humming through the ever-lasting sun. School is out and children are wild. It's a paradise.

Or is it?

But after countless sports camps and tournaments, other camps, vacations, school (?) events, traveling teams, VBS, summer seems to have been sucked fun-free.

Maybe it's Hollywood and Harper Lee's fault for giving us this utopian view of what summer should look and feel like (I'm looking at you Sandlot). But how can we really rest this summer? Because everyone needs some actual rest, even adults.

First thing is do NOT pack your summer full. Say no to some things. Coaches and Families can expect too much and it's okay to say no to them. You have to. There is no time for kids to be kids anymore.

Work can take a backseat. Vacations need to be taken. Families need to reconnect.

And for all my super-scheduled people out there, please PLEASE don't schedule out your vacation. Just enjoy it.

Another bit of advice would be to put away the technology and spend some time outside. When was the last time you tried to catch lightning bugs? Or went for a swim? Or listened to birds on your front porch?

I may sound like I have an old soul, but I really feel like we have lost this connection to the outside world. Summer is all about getting a farmer's tan and getting stung once or twice. I can guarantee you that's some of the best therapy in the world.

Maybe this sounds all over the place. Maybe this sounds like me ranting. And it probably is.

But I'm telling you that this stuff matters. Don't let summer whiz by and you arrive in August more drained that you were in May. Enjoy this time with family and friends.

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