A little faith

Dear Olivia,


This summer you were baptized at the St. Ann's Catholic Church in Spokane, where your grandparents live.  You were one year old.

Your godparents are Melissa and Joe Matella, our very dear friends.  

And everyone was so excited to see you and celebrate the sprinkling of water on your little head.


You, on the other hand, were having NONE of it.


But we laughed through it, and once we got to the cake, you were happy as a clam.


A day may come, Olivia, when you wonder why we had you baptized.  You may ask why we don't go to church as often as some of your friends.  Or you may have other questions about God, Jesus, religion, the Saints, and the whole issue of faith in general.

Let me tell you why I have chosen this baptism for you.  At your baptism, we are welcoming you into a community of faith.  It may not be the community that you remain in for the rest of your life, but it is a community that loves and accepts you, no matter what.  The people of St. Ann's parish are not all related to you; they do not know you like we do, but they still welcome you in with open arms and hearts.  This church reflects the values that your father and I believe in: the importance of social justice, charity, and a faith that keys in on the Bible's core values - loving your neighbor, living a life that is balanced, striving to be good, giving of yourself to those who are less fortunate.

There may come a time when you start to wonder why there is so much evil in the world.  How could a loving God allow so much suffering here on Earth?  I do not know the answers to these questions.  But I have had times like this in my life as well.  And often I turned to my faith. Sometimes that meant going to church, sometimes praying, and sometimes it just meant taking some quiet time to reflect and regroup and consider the meaning of life. 

Religion has it's limitations.  That is certain.  By the time that you are old enough to read this post, you will know that you have been blessed with parents that encourage you to question authority and conformity.  We want you to blaze your own path, Olivia.  But I also want you know that you come from a place.  A place that welcomes you and loves you.  It is also a place of ritual and tradition.  Ritual and tradition can be comforting when they are meant as expressions of love.

We have an expression in the Catholic religion, it goes "We Are the Church." 

(At least, I grew up learning this expression.  Does the church still believe this and preach it?  I don't know.  Right now the Catholic church is going in a direction that I don't understand and I can't follow.   I have faith that it will find its way back though.  I hope it will.)

  "We are the church" means that the PEOPLE are the church.  The very term "church" means "the people," or the children of God.  And it follows from this core idea that God speaks through us. God is still speaking.  Through us, to us, around us.  You must be very careful to hear this voice.  It is not necessarily the voice of a priest, or the church hierarchy, or the rigid interpretation of a book that was written hundreds of years ago.  "A church" is a place we sometimes go to hear this voice.  It is also a place we go because we are a part of a community that is bigger than ourselves.  But you are the church, wherever you are.  When you do something kind for someone else who needs a friend, or when you thank your parents and grandparents and hug your aunts and uncles and cousins, you are sending love out into the world.  And I believe that is what God wants for us, from us?  The words are little confusing, but I hope you get the point.

I can already see that spirit of love inside of you, sweet Olivia.  Don't hesitate to share your light.  We are so delighted to have you here.




New job, new baby, new NAME

I have decided to take the plunge and change my name.  It's a time for new things.  New baby.  Then new job.  Now new name.  And it is....

First: Hannah
Middle: M*
Last: V*-Ve*

*Due to internet searchability, I'd rather not actually spell out my full name.

Ta da!  So don't worry fans, I am still HMV...well, HMVV technically.  So, let's run through the burning questions in your minds:

Why change your name now?!
It was a good time to change.  I didn't want to change my name when I got married.  No issue with Jake's name, I just umm...wasn't really raised that way?  It was never part of my plan?  If you know my mother, this will come as NO surprise to you.  Mom didn't change her name after getting married (either time, actually), and I just figured I wouldn't change either.  People knew me in law school by HMV, I like my name, and I'm a crazy feminist (kidding).  (Sorta.)  Interestingly though, my mom DID change her name when lil baby Hannah was born.  That's when M-V started and we all three changed over: dad, mom and lil H.  Now that Olivia is in my life, I realized that I want to have the same name as her, and I want a family name.

Did Jake change his name too?
No.  He is still JV.  No VV for him.  And yes, that's fine with me.  Jake is his own man.  I've always appreciated Jake's total acceptance of whatever last name choice I wanted to make.  And I accept the same with regard to his choice.  It's kind of unbelievable, but Jake genuinely has NO preference either which way on my name (MV, VV, or just V).  He's pretty rad like that.

So does this make you feel more like a family?
I don't know, not really.  We are a family no matter what our names are.  But I like not having three different-but-similar names.  Different names are different no matter what.  It is just a symbolic thing, really, in the end.  (Names.)

What about lineage?
Here's the thing about lineage: names can be written down.  And if names can be written down, then they can be traced.  And if they were never written down, then they can't be traced.  And that's kind of a bummer, but not a ruin-your-entire-weekend kind of bummer.  Does anyone realllllly care about lineage now besides Henry Louis Gates, Jr.?  (No.  Sorry HLG!)

Well hold on, you didn't rEEEally change your name.
First off, that's not a question.  But secondly, yes I sure did.  Ask the Social Security office, the DMV, the court, my bank, my employer, or any of my 137 student loan holders!  Changing your name, even if it is just an alteration on a name, is a royal pain in the ass.

But I did keep the hyphen-- I am a second generation hyphen now!  (That term is now trademarked.)  And I did keep all the major parts of my old name.  I lost my old middle name (Virginia), but it lives on in my heart. When people ask me about it, I still say Virginia because it is a family name that honors my grandmothers (they both have it too).

What will Olivia do when she gets married?
Well of course I don't know that.  But what would I like her to do?  Whatever she wants to do.  After some careful thought, I hope.

That is all I ever hope, for anyone, male or female, is that they really think about their decision.  Don't just change names for tradition or because you happen to be the girl in the relationship.  Really think about what your options are.  Think about whether you actually want to give up that name recognition you've built up in your professional life.  And think about what you'd like for your family.  There are endless options now days.  Some ideas I've heard of:

  • Husband stays the same, Wife makes Husband's last name her middle name
  • W stays the same professionally, but legally changes to H's name for personal and family stuff
  • H & W both change to another family name (in this case, H didn't have ties to his father, and W liked the new name better too)
  • H and W keep their names, and give the children a hyphen name (like Jones-Rock) or even cooler, a combo name (like Jonock, or RoJo)
  • H and W keep their names, first kid gets H's name, second kid gets W's name, and so on
  • W changes to H's name, but gives her children her old last name as a first or middle name (like Jonas Rock)

I have always been a proud hyphenated-name-having child.  I now think it makes more sense to include a married name in my hyphen name.  It is the right combination of a family name (we all have Jake's last name somewhere) and an individual name (my original last name, well, a part of it..that's the last "V").  And I hope that with M. as a middle initial, I will remain pretty recognizable to anyone who knew me only as M-V.  I hope Olivia will also be proud of the name we chose for her.  She has two parents that are both strong individuals.  And together we make a pretty sweet little family.

~ HmvV!