What's in a Name?

"So, it is official. The light rail train in the Twin Cities finally has a name: the Zip Line.
Now all we need is a train......and a rail." -Kool 108 Radio Announcer

Sometimes, but not always, names happen first. Sometimes people spend all sorts of money coming up with names for things that are not even built yet. Sometimes when people have only just begun talking about having kids, they already have names picked out, with no plans for immediate conception.

And then there are the other times. Baby Solomon is part of this second category. Having used all the names we ever even partially agreed on for the first four children, Kurt and I struggled to find the right name this time. I loved Finnigan or Finnian (Finn), which matched up with the Irish nature of Aidan and means "Little Fair One" (a good description for the kids in our family...actually, I'm highly considering giving it to Liam...), or Quentin (Quen) which fittingly enough means 5th in Latin. Kurt, on the other hand, really wanted to go with a family name and was hopeful we would use David. I have a soft spot for old-school but less common names (that ironically enough always seem to be HUGE the year we use them) and Kurt wanted much more traditional and was making a case for going totally Biblical this time as well. He suggested Andrew (my brother's name), I suggested Desmond, because it was Irish, (and I'll admit, one of my favorite characters on Lost) and I could call him Dez or Dezzy. (Everyone else seemed to think of Desmond Tutu so perhaps this wasn't my best idea.) Meanwhile, the kids were casting their vote for Mario Denny (Mario, because they LOVE Super Mario Bros....and it was Kurt's uncle's name, and Denny because well, it is my dad's name and another bit of the Irish and it made me laugh when you said them together.) And then there was Lily who explained when she has kids she will name them Luigi and Yellow Toad and Blue Toad and Big Bowser. (It's probably a good thing we have a checks and balances system going on which includes parental veto powers.)

Beyond all that, we REALLY AND TRULY thought we were having a girl. I can't explain why, I know not the reason (thanks Dr. Suess) but Kurt and I were fairly certain about it. We were going to be having a Mary Diane (with the initials MD we could call her 'Doc'): the girls were excited, Aidan was bummed but hopeful that "our next baby could be a boy" (insert mom and dad choking on their dinner) and Liam, well, he didn't get it one way or the other. (He certainly does now and he is NOT the least bit amused....he's even suggested that Grandma will be taking the baby home with her when she leaves; quite a lot to get across for a kid who doesn't say too much!)

And then, SURPRISE! Out popped a boy (and it was just like that...pop....) A BOY! On the very night our To-Do list told us to finalize names (i.e. come up with a boy's name we agreed on) we were in the hospital looking at this precious, nameless baby. And we looked at each other, dazed (at least I was): now what?

"What do you want to call him?" Kurt asked within moments of delivery. Still a little shocked at having given birth when I had been leisurely taking a bath less than an hour earlier, I am sure my unspoken answer was "call who?"

And then, he asked me again the next morning when all our kids were right there in the room and when I had no answer, he called back later to talk about it over the phone. You see, we were completely unprepared. We had some names on our short list but I am not the most decisive person postpartum and I'll be honest: I began thinking that maybe that mom who sold the naming rights to her unborn kid on eBay a few years back had been on to something. How fast could I get some bids, I wondered.

And everyone we called to announce the birth wanted to know his name. (The nerve of them all! Sheesh!) The pressure was on.

Many people asked, "Well, when you look at him, what do you see?"

"A baby."

"Doesn't a name just come to you?"

"No, he looks like all our other babies." (Hmmm, Liam II.....no, can't really do that.....)

And so, after much (or was it very little?) discussion, we decided on Solomon James, put it on the birth certificate form and took the little guy with great big hands (and big shoes to fill) home. And then we started getting feedback....

Now, quite honestly, it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. Solly, or simply Baby, (as Liam calls him out of pure necessity) or Sawman (as Lily says because she talks too fast) is going to live up to his name one way or the other. And while some people think it is a terrific name and are quick to tell us so (and in a very genuine manner) others are a little hesitant and we can gather a lot from their silence, and even more so from the less tactful opinions (What did you name him? Solomon James. Oh, I really like the name James.) We joked about holding the traditionally Jewish brit milah (pronounced Bris) for him since his circumcision had not taken place at the hospital (and several people had commented on the "Jewish-ness" of the name....) And of course, everyone wants to know what we will call him (uh, Solomon?...Unless he has REALLY done it and then it will be more like SOLOMON JAMES!) because certainly it warrants a nickname. Well then, I was thinking Capone, as in, the most well known "wiseguy" in mobster history; Kurt has high hopes we can call him Fatty: he has a friend from college whose last name is Solomon and they call him Fatty because he entered college at 16 and was on the wrestling team as a light weight. Then, in the first couple years, since he was still growing, he gained like 30 pounds much to the dismay of the wrestling coach, so they nicknamed him Fatty since he gained tons of weight when he wasn't supposed to. He is such a slender guy that the nickname is humorous.

At any rate, when we went for Solomon's first well-check at five days, the pediatrician commented that it was a very strong and wise name.

"Well thanks for that," I said, "because we have taken some heat over this one."

"Oh no," he assured me. "It is a very good name. You should hear some of the names we have. I have a patient named Female (pronounced Fi-mahl-ly) because they hadn't chosen a name so we put "Female Jones" on the baby's name card in the hospital bassinet. They thought it was a GREAT name we had given her and kept it."

When Kurt told his brother (also a pediatrician) he said, "Oh yeah, we have several Female's in our practice." (Really, Solomon is beginning to sound better and better, don't ya think?! I mean, we could have just left it as Baby Boy. Nickname? BB.)

And then when I introduced him to the sweet, little old(er) quilters at the Senior Center, one of them said, "Oh, Solomon James. What a good, wise name. Now, June's great niece just gave birth, too. Tell Karen what HIS name is June."

The other lady looks at me and says, "Delbert. I mean really?! Who names their kid Delbert, even if it is a family name?" (Ok, I kind of felt sorry for that mom because I am guessing she's feeling a bit of scrutiny as well and while I think I can adequately sell the name Solomon, Delbert? Perhaps they will go by Del.)

But best of all, we got a good kick out of a conversation we had at church this Sunday.

I was talking to a man at church who wanted to congratulate us and asked, "So, what did you name him?"

"Solomon James," I said, now a bit more proudly.

"Solomon. Hmmm. Where'd you come up with that name?" he asked. At church.

Long pause....because I had to try not to laugh....and then had to make a mental note to tell our minister he might want to work a little harder on his Bible Basics class...and then, of course, I had to figure out how to answer THAT one without making him feel entirely stupid! In the end, another woman standing around for the conversation laughed for me and began rattling off the Biblical significance of King Solomon to which I tried to lighten it up by telling him we just felt a little more wisdom in our household might be helpful.

At any rate, Solomon James is off to a great start. And we are certain that we chose correctly (if not just for the response). After all, one of the meanings of Solomon is "peace" and after starting our family with Aidan (Gaelic for "Fiery") we are hopeful that ending on a calmer name will be beneficial to us all!




Pearls Before Swine

Pearls Before Swine is presently one of my favorite comic strips. On January 2, the strip's author Stephen Pastis poked fun of the superstitious behavior of football fans (see above or click here to view online). As a "Steelers Family" this one hit home. It was especially relevant this last week when the Pittsburgh Steelers really did play the Baltimore Ravens in a game that had all us fans on edge. (I am guessing some didn't make it past the half, and instead, chose to throw themselves off the proverbial cliff!) At half time, Kurt and I decided (like every other serious Steelers fan) that we, personally, needed to change the momentum of the game. So we did the only things we could think of: Kurt put on his Polamalu jersey and we waited until the second half was far underway before going back to watch in delayed time by way of DVR. Because, you know, in the past, having the jersey on has been the key to a comeback win and watching the game recorded on DVR, just a little behind and having to get "caught up," has put the nail in the coffin. I was about to make the girls change out of their new Steelers outfits (certainly it could have been the "newness" of them that was screwing the game up right?) but Kurt assured me, THAT wasn't the issue. Not this time anyway.

A few years ago, during the Super Bowl, we seriously made one of our friends go back outside (in the frigid January weather here in MN) and come back in because the first time he had come in, our team started playing really well! (Thanks for indulging us Brooks!) And then when I had gone upstairs to put kids to bed, and we scored, I couldn't go back down and had to watch from the top of the stairs until we sealed the Super Bowl victory. Yeah, it really is like that.

Now, if you are a die hard fan of any sort, you understand perfectly well what I am talking about. Yesterday, Kurt was reading from some Steelers Fan site he participates in and just about everyone on it was taking credit for the win due to some "thing" they had changed at half time. It had nothing to do with the pep talk the coach gave (where he most likely threatened lives, or worse yet, starting positions) nor did it have to do with the fire in the players' bellies as they fought to come back from a 7-21 score to win the game 31-24. No, it had nothing to do with any of that but had everything to do with us fans. We made it happen. And you can be certain, every one of us will start where we left off come this weekend during the AFC championship game. Kurt's jersey will be on and we probably won't start the game until the end of the first quarter. And fans all over the country will be wearing-eating-doing the right thing, at the right place, in the right position, with the right people right up until the end (or at least until it is clear we all need to change something in order to steer the game back in the right direction).

And yes, we are that neurotic. After all, this is the fate of our team we are talking about. We all have to do our part. So please, don't mess with the popcorn bowl, or yawn during the extra point, or go to the bathroom and miss that third down or..... We'll thank you later. (Unless of course, you were SUPPOSED to do those things and didn't! GRRRRRR!)

Go Steelers!


Welcome Solomon James!

Solomon James
January 7, 2011
8 lbs. 4.5 oz, 20 3/4 inches

Disclaimer: Please forgive the writing in this post as my mind is not fully functional currently!

I had someone tell me recently that they thought I would blog my birthing experience, step by step, as I went through the process. I thought about it, I really did, but during the very brief time I was in labor, I must admit, blogging was the last thing on my mind. Then again, so was labor.

You see, Thursday night I made my first mistake ever (insert canned laughter): eating an entire bag of buttery popcorn on an empty stomach. I was up all night, tossing and turning with terrible indigestion which by early morning had turned into painful acid stomach. I ate my weight (pre-pregnancy of course) in Tums and drank Mylanta as if it were formulated from the fountain of youth, or at least contained the key to all great healing. I was in and out of bed all day Friday, exhausted from no sleep and having no energy from being unable to eat. These were lovely times.

At the same time I was dealing with that, I had the dilemma of whether or not to cancel the piano and violin recital I was hosting later that afternoon. While most sane people would have called it off, I thought of how difficult it had been to find a time that fit all my students' schedules and the fact that I would then have to reschedule for a later date. I thought of all the hard work my students had put in to prepare and even all the food and goodies I had already purchased. So, I did what anyone would do; I called my dad (who happens to be a doc) to see if there was a miracle drug I could take to help me get through it all. No such luck but he suggested I take something stronger than Tums and that certainly saved the day. By 4:00, my tummy stopped burning just in time for my students to arrive at 4:30. Also arriving around that time was a touch of lower back cramps....uh oh.

Once everyone arrived, I let them know we might have to be quick as it seemed labor might be imminent. Someone suggested putting a metronome on double tempo to get everyone to play a little faster. I wasn't too worried. I did take notice however that I was having contractions here and there. Nothing big but it kept me on my toes.

By 5:30, I was kicking everyone out and by 5:45 I was in a warm bath to see if the crampiness went away. Kurt was the voice of reason here since I was taking my jolly time and he urged me to call my friend over so we could go. With contractions 5 minutes apart, I decided he was right, we needed to get going. (Duh.) Right as I was exiting the bath, my water broke which was a little alarming since that has never happened outside a hospital for me before. No biggie though. We just got our stuff in the car, Deb arrived to watch the kids and we took off.

And we hit rush hour traffic....yay. Nothing like a little stop and go for a really good time! A little after 6:30, we were at the hospital. I found my way to the birthing floor while Kurt parked the car. I told the nurse this was my 5th baby and I was in labor. She took me by the arm and lead me to the nurses station where my doctor happened to be standing and the nurses took one look at me, told me they didn't need to triage and put me in my room. I was hooked up to monitors at 6:38.

Even then, I wasn't thinking we were about to have a baby. Certainly we had time for pain meds, right? Right??!

Not so much. The nurse checked me and I was already at 8 cm dilated. (I never in a million years would have thought I had gotten there already....seriously, the contractions weren't fun by any stretch but they weren't THAT bad...)

"Would you like an epidural?" she asked. I now know she was just playing nice. It's kind of like asking a child: Hey, you want some ice cream? Knowing full well they aren't getting any darned ice cream! But you gotta love a little dose of hope! It goes a long way.

Within a few minutes I was letting them know, in no uncertain terms, I was done. It was time. And it was. My body had already switched into crazy animal instinct mode and the pushing began. Two contractions and 5 pushes later, I was holding our newest addition. It was 7:02 p.m.

So far, we are all doing well. And thank goodness. Since Solomon's arrival, Liam has disowned me as his favorite mom, replacing me with whomever happens to visit next; the hospital "forgot" to inform the docs they had a circumcision to do ("but don't worry, you can just make an appointment to come to our office next week" because THAT is convenient!); my mom's flight got canceled, twice; the carpool parent who had planned on doing all the picking up this week for both Madeline and Aidan called to inform me all four of his kids have the chicken pox ("but I'd be happy to pick up your kids anyway....but they would be exposed to a germ fest in our van,"....hmmm, tough call, really, but I think I'll have to pass....); and to sugar coat it all, I twisted my knee last night while trying to sit down on the couch and was up all night in pain! Go figure: birthing a baby? No problem. Sitting down on a sofa? Bring on the ice packs and pain meds!

Truth be told, the most important event of the last few days so far outweighs life's little stumbling blocks, it is all worth it. Especially because in the midst of everything, we still have Lily who lightened things up today by telling me:

"Hey mom, maybe you can have another baby so that you can get us more of those graham crackers from the hospital."

She gets her financial sense from me apparently. But to be certain, we'll be heading to the grocery store very, very soon.

"Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you."
Psalm 116:7

Nighty night!


Happy New Year! (Welcome 2011!)

"Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go
for to you I lift up my soul.
Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord,
for I hide myself in you.
Teach me to do your will
for you are my God;
may your good Spirit lead me on level ground." --Psalm 143:8-10

While some people bring in the New Year with partying and celebration, Kurt and I take a much simpler approach. We sit around the table with our kids sipping bubbling grape juice (at around 7:30 p.m.) and talk about what things we can improve on in the year ahead. They get to bed almost on time and we are all well rested for the beginning of the new year.

Last night, I made a point to include a little more focus on God by reading the kids the above Psalm. It is easy to live as if we need nothing greater than ourselves. But this year, I hope to be more mindful of God's hand in my life; of where God wants to take not only me personally, but us as a family. Of course, one of Madeline's insights of what I personally needed to improve on was speaking in less confusing ways. I guess I'm not starting out so great since I had to spend a lot of time explaining to them what the above Psalm was trying to say but my hope is, as they grow, and as we grow as a family unit, that they will begin to understand what it means to trust in God, and to seek out God's path and will for their lives. I certainly know Kurt and I could use some of that discernment as we don't even have a baby name picked out yet, with only 12 days or so to go! (Seriously, you'd think it would be easier! I now understand why George Foreman, the boxer turned entrepreneur turned ordained minister, named all SIX of his boys George.)

At any rate, I hope your 2011 is very much a continuation of Christmas, full of wonder and joy; and that you awake each morning to God's unfailing love. And that it perhaps includes a side of black-eyed peas, rice, cornbread and greens, you know, for a little bit of southern good luck while you're at it! (Hey, might as well cover all bases, right?)

Oh, and if a week from now I'm all of a sudden writing about the arrival of Aidan the Second, or Madeline II, you know why!

Happy New Year!