Family Nicknames: We Have Over 80 Of Them!

I love Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop because I always get great ideas for stories to share or for fiction to write. This week, I read Prompt #6: Write a blog post inspired by the word: rust. As soon as I read it, for some reason I immediately thought of Rusty “Russ” Griswold from one of my all time favorite movies, Vacation.

Russell 'Rusty' Griswold from the movie Vacation, played by Anthony Michael Hall

The reason being is because we call my niece Nikki “Russ;” it’s one of her many nicknames. Long story for why we call her that, but let’s say it has something to do with this scene in the movie…


Anyways, I’ve talked about nicknames before. In my very large family, we rarely call each other by our God-given names.

If you are ever to come over to one of our family get togethers, when I introduce you to my siblings, I’ll say something along the lines of “These are my sisters Angie and Heather, and these are my brothers David and Scott.” But that’s the last time you’d here me call them by their names. After that, I may refer to them as Fun 1, Hef, Junior, and Scooter or many, many other names. You’ll be totally confused.


Hef, Fun 1, Pookums, Junior, and Scooter

Between my mom and dad, siblings, and all of our significant others and kids, a family get together is almost 30 people. Trying to remember all of our real names is hard — trying to also remember multiple nicknames is nearly impossible!

Last month, I group texted my family (we have an ongoing group text that we text each other on every day, all day) and asked them to help me come up with all of the nicknames we call each other just so I could show y’all how confusing it can get! We had fun thinking of them all, but then when I saw the writing prompt, I knew I was going to write about all of our nicknames. It’s fun, but it’ll also come in handy if you ever meet my big fat, crazy family.

Family Nicknames

My Dad (David): Pops, D.A., Big Headed Todd

My Mom (Linda): Gramma Gramma, Big Lin

Me (Natalie): Pookie, Pookums, Pook

Husband (Jason): Hoagie, Hoage

Ethan: E, T, Tater, T Nuts, E Money

Lila: YaYa, Ya, YaYa Bean

Mia: Badger, Badgie, Mia Mia Tortilla

Sister (Angie): Fun 1, Ang, Chrissy

BIL (Brian): Uncle B, Lads, Ladnier

Niece (Alexis): Lex, Sparky, Kitten

Niece (Nicolette): Neen, Neener, Russ, Uggers

Niece (Sydney): Bean, Beansie, D Bird

Nephew (Aaron): A-A ron, A Fons

Sister (Heather): Hef, Heifer, Hefernan

Niece (Hailey): Boogerman, Boog, Haney

Nephew (Ryan): Fuzz, Fizzle, Fizzle McPimpin

Nephew (Caleb): K-Luv, Beeper, My Man, Big P

Niece (Davi): Sugar, Bear

Brother (David): Junior, Junior Nuts, Cliffy

SIL (Samantha): Spammerton, Spam, Sam, Sam-u-el, Samuel

Nephew (Kannon): Kan Man, Kalhoun, Sandy

Nephew (Karter): Kartier, Karter Farter, Curlie

Niece (TBD): #16 (Not even here yet and she already has a nickname. She’ll be the 16th grandchild!)

Brother (Scott): Scooter, Scoot, Scooterlicious, Walter, Walt, Schmitty, S C O Double T

SIL (Danielle): Danny-elle, Daniel, Dando

Niece (Presley): P, Baby P, Princess P

Niece (Sawyer): #15

A-aron, Sparky, Beansie, Russ, Badger, Cartier, Tater, Kan Man, K Luv, Haney, Fuzz, Sugar, Baby P and Ya Ya

That’s 82 nicknames that we use for each other interchangeably. We also may shorten the nicknames, which creates new names, which makes it even more difficult to figure out who we’re talking about. We’ve decided that’s why we all hang out together instead of with other people…it’s just too confusing to keep up with us!

But if you are lucky enough (or unfortunate enough) to become a part of this big crazy family, chances are you’ll be given a nickname too! Big shout out to Papa Jeep, Sweet D, Bincey, Too Tall, B-ER-EN-DA!, Shawnie and Con, Mr. Bubbles, Gramma Rufus, Tommy Pants, Rodger Dodger, Big Don, Share-Bear, and many others who have been given nicknames by the Allens. You’re welcome.

Do you use nicknames in your family?


Do You Tell Your Spouse Everything?

Think about your best friends. The friends that you trust implicitly. The friends that you can say anything to without fear of judgement or disapproval. If you told them you were going to rob a bank, they would definitely try to talk you out of it, but they would listen and try to understand. They probably wouldn’t call the police unless you went through with it and then they would, but you already know that because these friends are your moral compass. We all have these friends. They are a necessity to maintaing sanity and a deep part of who you are. These friends know our deepest, darkest, ugliest secrets and we don’t even have to preface those secrets with a “Please don’t tell anybody”.

But when sharing secrets with them, do you even consider whether or not they are going to share these secrets with their spouses? I guess I never consider that. I assume (yes, I know what happens when I assume) that when I share a secret with them that they will guard it with their lives and not tell anybody…spouses included. Interesting enough, that is not always the case.

Do you tell your spouse everything? Secrets between friends shouldn't be expected to be shared with anybody, but does that also include spouses? Some women share everything with their spouses while others do not. Do you know if your friends share with their spouses?

Do You Tell Your Spouse Everything?

I was recently involved in a super secret conversation with a group of the friends I just described. One of my friends was talking about a situation she was in with another friend (that none of us knew). My friend’s friend had shared a secret with her that my friend shared with her spouse. When my friend’s friend found out, she got extremely upset and couldn’t believe my friend had told her spouse.

My friend, and many of my other friends involved in this conversation, tell their spouse everything. EVERYTHING. One of them said “no secrets between spouses”.

I do not tell my husband everything. Little secrets that aren’t really significant (ones that aren’t life altering) I might share with him and nobody else. And then there are the secrets that friends have trusted me with that have and will always remain secrets. Big ones. Life changing ones. Those secrets I keep. They aren’t mine to share, and they don’t affect us directly, so I don’t share them.

Being responsible for a secret…especially a big one…can become a very heavy weight that you carry around. Not being able to talk about it with anybody else makes the load even heavier. I can totally understand why some of my friends share the secrets with their spouses. It gives them the ability to be able to talk about the situation with another person that they trust with everything. I get that.

On the flip side, I see it as then your spouse is carrying around the weight of the secret too. And because the secrets aren’t mine, I don’t want him to have one more thing to worry about on his plate. If it’s not affecting either of us, I keep it to myself. There’s even been times that he has started telling me a secret to which I reply “Nope. Don’t tell me. I don’t want to know”.

If I know a friend tells her spouse everything, will I stop sharing my secrets with her? No. I need those friends and I still trust them implicitly. BUT, I may be more selective with the secrets that I do share.

There’s always two sides to every coin and different ways of looking at things. Every relationship is different. What works for some doesn’t work for others. I’m sure that a few of my friends in that conversation were just as surprised to find out that I don’t tell my husband everything as I was to find out that they do tell their husbands everything.

So I’m wondering – do you tell your spouse everything?

photo source

Murder Mystery Dinner: A Fun Date Night or GNO!

Do you ever run out of date night ideas? Tired of doing the same thing for girls night out all the time? Then you really have to check out a murder mystery dinner!

I was recently invited to attend one, and my sisters and sisters-in-law came with me. We made it a girls night out, and we had a BLAST! We can’t wait to attend another murder mystery dinner or maybe even have one at my house!

Looking for something different to do for your next date night or girls night out? You should check out a murder mystery dinner! You'll find them nationwide.

Now if you’ve never heard of or been to a murder mystery dinner, let me explain to you how it works…

What Is A Murder Mystery Dinner?

A murder mystery dinner is two hours of immersive, interactive entertainment. Basically, someone has been murdered and your team (everybody sitting at your table) has to figure out whodunit. There are actors who perform live as you enjoy a 3-course meal.

But don’t think that you just sit back and watch; as I mentioned it’s interactive, meaning not only do you participate in trying to figure out who the murderer is, but you may become a part of the mystery yourself!

How Does A Murder Mystery Dinner Work?

Our murder mystery dinner centered around the old west.

Looking for something different to do for your next date night or girls night out? You should check out a murder mystery dinner! You'll find them nationwide.

When you sit down at your table, you’ll find a bunch of information that you’ll have to read through so you’ll know what you’re getting into.

Looking for something different to do for your next date night or girls night out? You should check out a murder mystery dinner! You'll find them nationwide.

There are the rules…

Looking for something different to do for your next date night or girls night out? You should check out a murder mystery dinner! You'll find them nationwide.

You’ll get money so you can bribe other characters for information…

Looking for something different to do for your next date night or girls night out? You should check out a murder mystery dinner! You'll find them nationwide.

And we even received a sheet of lingo so we could understand what the characters were saying!

Looking for something different to do for your next date night or girls night out? You should check out a murder mystery dinner! You'll find them nationwide.

You’ll also have the option to upgrade your regular ticket to the Gold Circle. That includes prime seating (the inner circle of the theater) and a Complimentary MugShot Memento (two photos in a custom frame taken during the show.) Now here’s the thing – you may get chosen to become a character in the mystery if you get prime seating…you just won’t know it until you get there. And that’s exactly what happened to me. I became a character in the show (a dress shop owner, which was really a front for a brothel). You can watch a clip of me in character here if you want!

I (well, my entire team) was given certain information that others weren’t privvy to. And if during Investigation Time people asked me questions, or bribed me with money, I could share the information I had been given.

In the end, we thought we knew exactly who the killer was…we thought it was me! We were sure of it! Our entire table really thought I was the murderer.

Looking for something different to do for your next date night or girls night out? You should check out a murder mystery dinner! You'll find them nationwide.

But we were dead wrong, as in we came in Dead Last Place!

Looking for something different to do for your next date night or girls night out? You should check out a murder mystery dinner! You'll find them nationwide.

Even though we didn’t figure out the murder mystery, we definitely had a hog-killin’ time (that’s a real good time in Old West slang!) and can’t wait to do it again with all of the guys, too.

There are murder mystery dinner shows nationwide, with 6 California locations. It is definitely a fun night out that differs from the usual movie night. It’s also a good family night out if you have older kids (it comes with a PG-10 rating, so no kids under 10 are allowed).

I recently mentioned that we are going through a remodel (it’s remodel hell, but that’s another story for another time.) When it’s all done and we get through the holidays, we are planning to have a party to invite our family and friends over to check out our new pad. We are thinking that having a private show, where the actors will come to your venue or home. That is going to be another hog-killin’ time!

You can learn more about Murder Mystery Co. and find a murder mystery dinner near you here.

Have you ever been to a murder mystery dinner? Did you enjoy it as much as we did?

Disclaimer: I was given tickets to attend a local murder mystery dinner in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are my own. And seriously, we had a blast and I highly recommend you check one out!

The Power Of Friendship: My Other Ex Book Review #MyOtherEx

People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.
When you figure out which one it is,
you will know what to do for each person. 


Friendship is such an amazing part of life, isn’t it? You basically just find people you like and decide to build a relationship with them. I’ve written about friendship a lot on my blog, because those people help us become who we are supposed to be…and in some cases, they prevent us from becoming who we are not supposed to be.

Some friendships last forever, and sometimes they just last through a specific time in your life. My Other Ex explores the loss of friendship. #MyOtherEX

I wrote a post about friendships ending and in it I said: “Friendships, no matter what the circumstances are for why they end, are always hard to say goodbye to. People that were important to you in the past, always hold a place in your heart.”

I still believe that to be true. I still think about friends I no longer speak to for whatever reason, and I remember how important they were to me at some point in my life. When I was asked to read My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Losing and Leaving Friends by a friend who had shared a story in the book, I immediately said yes.

Some friendships last forever, and sometimes they just last through a specific time in your life. My Other Ex explores the loss of friendship. #MyOtherEX

My Other Ex

Here’s a description of the book:

Not all friendships are meant to last forever. There can be so much good, so much power, so much love in female friendships. But there is also a dark side of pain and loss. And surrounding that dark side there is often silence. There is shame, the haunting feeling that the loss of a friendship is a reflection of our own worth and capacity to be loved. 

My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Losing and Leaving Friends is a step toward breaking that silence. The brave writers in this engrossing, diverse collection of 35 essays tell their own unique stories of failed friendships and remind us of the universality of loss. 

There will be tears. There will be lots of memories of your own friendships that have been lost. There may even be smiles and laughter remembering a special friend. My Other Ex may even make you want to reach out to a friend you’ve lost contact with. It’s powerful and it’s not an easy read, but it’s a read that is worth it.

The hardest stories to read were the ones written directly to the author’s ex. I’ve written letters before that have never been sent, and those words come straight from the heart.

My Other Ex stories are real and relatable. These authors allowed us to peek into the darkest, saddest, loneliest parts of their lives and it is intensely emotional to read.

So many of my friends contributed to this book, and I want to thank you all for sharing your history and truth with me. And I absolutely encourage every woman I know to read My Other Ex!

To learn more about the HerStories project and find out about the call for submissions for the third book, visit the site or follow on FacebookTwitter, or Google +.

Disclaimer: I was happy to be given an advanced digital copy of My Other Ex. All opinions are my own.

Our Palm Desert Vacation 2014

I’ve told you before that my entire family usually takes a summer vacation in King’s Canyon every year (since my mom was a kid!) and that we’ve been going the last 3 years with the kids. This year, we decided to switch it up and try out a Palm Desert vacation with our favorite friends and their daughters instead. We had a blast!

Now those of you familiar with Palm Springs/Palm Desert/So Cal might be asking why in the world we’d want do a Palm Desert vacation in the middle of July. In short, Jason and I both love Palm Springs (Palm Desert is the city right next door and many people think of them as one and the same) and so do the kids. So when our friends invited us, we immediately said yes. We stayed at Marriott’s Desert Springs Villas II, and hope to go back again soon.

We spent lots and lots of time in the pool, as the weather was over 100 degrees every day.

We played volleyball…

We got up early to make sure we got the best spot at the pool…

Mia learned to swim (finally!) without floaties, and even jumped off the side of the pool!…

Daddy spent a lot of time throwing the kids around…

And of course we wore lots of sunblock and hats…

We took the Palm Springs Tram to the top of the San Jacinto mountains, where it was just like being in the mountains…

There was dinner and dancing at our favorite restaurant in Palm Springs, Las Casuelas

There was boat rides,

and golfing,

and henna tattoos,

and hair chalk.

And there was rock climbing.

There was even time for drinks and dinner with friends.

And Jason created the PERFECT summer cocktail.

Did I mention it was super hot?

At 9 in the morning it was already well over 100 degrees. By 5 pm, it was 122. The record heat in Palm Springs is 123. Let’s just say that I hope to never, EVER be there when it’s this hot again. There’s a huge difference between 117 and 122. HUGE.

So thank you to our friends for inviting us and for all of the fun memories. Let’s do it again next year!