Thursday, June 26, 2014

How Joshua Got His Name

On Saturday evening Joshua received his baby blessing which made me think, "Maybe I should answer the one million people who have asked me how our baby got his name?"  Yeah, sorry it took me forever to get to this.

What I Wanted

I really wanted to include my grandfather's name in his name.  It is the name of a great man who has done so much for his family and deserves to have his name carried on.  Jerry agreed.  And the middle name of our baby was the first thing we chose.  Ivan.

Jerry, Joshua Ivan, Great Grandpa Ivan
What Jerry Wanted

The Chinese character for our last name looks like the letter J.  This is why Jerry's name is Jerry and not Larry or Gary.  Jerry wanted to carry on this tradition of J names.  I agreed.

This isn't my favorite example of the character, but it's the best that Google Images could get for me.
We procrastinated picking names.  We thought we had all sorts of time and would seriously discuss the matter after graduation.  I, of course, already had a list of favorites ... Joel, Joshua, Jacob, and Jonathan.

I revealed these choices to Jerry while laying in my hospital bed knowing that we would have a baby by the end of the week instead of in eleven weeks.  We weighed the pros and cons, but decided to hold off thinking we would have at least one more day.

The next day our nameless baby was born.  While we wanted to pick a name for him, I was too sick and scared to even really think about it.

What the Baby Wanted

The first night after our little guy was born, Jerry went to visit him.  It was the wee hours of the morning.  He read to him and talked to him.  Jerry decided to see what the baby thought of the name choices.

Jerry:  Do you like Joel?

The baby remained still.

Jerry:  What about Joshua?

 The baby waved his little arms.

Jerry:  How about Jacob?


Jerry: Jonathan?

Again, nothing.

To make the process scientific, Jerry went through all the names a second time.  The funny thing is that the results were exactly the same.  And so our little guy chose the name Joshua.

For what it's worth, I think he did a good job.  The meanings of names are very important to me.  Joshua means, "God is Help."  Considering all that we have gone through and the many blessings we've had, I think it is a perfect fit.  

To see more pictures from his blessing day, you can visit our family blog.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Literary Tourism - Washington

I don't know a single person from Washington who doesn't like it.  Sure the weather's gloomy, but it seems that everyone can see past that.  I have only passed through the Seattle airport and I don't count airports as visiting states.

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

I have spent a lot of time debating on whether or not to count this for this project because ... well ... it's Twilight.  I'm not sure a vampire romance should count for anything.  But setting matters for three reasons:

  1. Meyer's mythology of vampires is that they can awake in daylight, but need clouds to cover their sparkling exterior.  Thus, Washington.  She could have chosen Britain or the Netherlands, but I think she is more familiar with this state. 
  2. After checking a map, I discovered that Forks is close to Native American Reservations.
  3. It provides a stark contrast from Bella's previous Arizona home.
So, I'm counting it.  I reviewed this book on my blog awhile back.  Feel free to learn my true feelings on it.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Literary Tourism - Massachusetts and California

Today, I'm finishing off books set in states I have lived in.  I've already covered Maine and Utah; now I'm revisiting California and Massachusetts.  The books are also connected because they create a great sense of place for me.  Using the names of specific streets and parts of the city, the authors really bring me back to the places I have been.  It's been awhile since I've read either of these books, but they have stayed with me in a profound way.


Still Alice by Lisa Genova - Alice is a Harvard professor who is at the top of the research in her field when she begins noticing that she can't remember things the way she used to.  One day she is going for a run down the streets of Cambridge, Massachusetts and she can't remember where she is.  Her family is devasted to learn that Alice has early onset Alzheimer's disease and the experimental treatments she undergoes fail to slow the progression of the debilitating disease.  This book tells the story of Alice and her family as they learn to endure and adjust to a woman who is completely changed. 

Setting this book at Harvard and in one of the most intellectually elite parts of the country was no accident.  It makes the changes in Alice's brain seem even more dramatic.  I enjoyed visualizing her runs, visits to the coffee shops, and Harvard Yard. 

This book opened my eyes to challenges and diseases I barely understand and I liked it for that reason.  But it is profoundly depressing and it took me days to recover from it. I would recommend it highly, but you have to be ready for it.


The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender  - When Rose is nine she discovers she has a gift when she tastes her mother's lemon cakeShe can feel her mother's sadness.  Upon closer inspection she discovers that she can even taste where a processed meal has been produced.  This tells the story of how Rose learns to live with this curse.

This story takes place in Los Angeles and Bender is very detailed in her descriptions of street names and locations.  The story probably could have taken place anywhere, but I read it while living in Los Angeles which made it more memorable.

This book was weird, but I like weird.  It was a little depressing, but not like Still Alice.
"I'm not depressing; I'm cute"

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Joshua Speaks

I know what you're thinking when you read this title.  Joshua's adjusted age is only one month, he can't possibly speak.  But I have evidence and Jerry was a witness on all three ocassions.

In the NICU

We had just gotten Joshua ready to practice bottle feeding.

Me:  Are you ready to start eating, little man?
Joshua:  (very loud and clear) UH UH

Turns out he really did love to eat.

At Home 

Joshua experiences frequent bouts of intestinal discomfort.  After hearing, what could have been either solid or gas:

Me: Was that a toot or poo?
Joshua: Poo
Jerry:  I think he said toot.
Me:  Really, I think he said poo.

After closer inspection, it turns out I was right.


After changing him ..

Me:  Do you want me to hold you?
Joshua: (a soft, pathetic whimper) Yeah

Coincidence?  I think, probably.  But it sure is fun thinking that I have a genius boy.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

O2 - Part II

You would have thought today was Christmas.  I was giddy with anticipation for Joshua's appointment with the pediatrician.  I had our doctor bag packed with oodles of time to spare.  I know. I know.  I'm a weirdo.  Throughout all of last week, I thought today would be the big day - the day to remove the cannula and turn off his oxygen.

It wasn't. 

I knew it wouldn't be.  I was in some deep denial.  When his oxygen monitor would alarm a few too many times at night, I would think, "Oh but look how quickly he recovered!."  I was snapped out of denial at 6:30 this morning while I was trying to use the bulb suction on a screaming child while Jerry adjusted his oxygen level.

I'm grateful that happened.  I was prepared with realistic expectations before the doctor rather than having my hopes crushed by him.  I realized my longing for Joshua to be through with his oxygen tank was more of a selfish desire for an easier life.

So we will just keep on progressing with more frequent checks by the doctor knowing that he probably won't be carrying an oxygen tank in his backpack on the first day of kindergarten. 

We sure love this boy!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Literary Tourism - Georgia and Alabama

Traveling to the South, I've picked two books similar in theme.  Both of these books deal with Asian families who have immigrated to the South.  It's a good setting because issues of race are so prevalent in southern culture.  The books  are distinctly different however because Japanese and Vietnamese culture are not one and the same, and the families portrayed in the stories are dealing with different challenges.


Kira Kira by Cynthia Kadohata - Katie and her family are Japanese and move from a Japanese community to the deep south in Georgia.  Katie has a hard time getting used to all of the people staring at her and it is a difficult adjustment for them.  I read this book a few years ago so the details are a bit fuzzy, but the book did give a good sense of place.  I got annoyed at eh character Katie because she always said she was a bad girl, but she never did anything to prove it.


"Don't take my word for it."*
 Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai - I'm a total sucker for a novel in verse so I loved this book, I actually reread this one so I could write a better review.  The book starts in Saigon just before it is taken over by North Vietnam communists.  Ha and her family escape to a boat are taken to Guam and are eventually sponsored by a family in Alabama.

Ha barely speaks English and encounters many new experiences - fried chicken, Christmas, and kids at school with many different skin tones.  She is bullied for her different looks and considered dumb because she hasn't mastered English grammar.

Lai writes based on her own personal experience as a refugee in Alabama which makes this book and her impressions even more authentic.  She is truly a poet and can give a great sense of place in just a few words.  If you like novels in verse I strongly recommend this book.   

*I was told my book reviews would be a lot more interesting with pictures of Joshua.

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Days Are Long?

"If I don't make eye contact maybe mommy won't notice that I'm breaking the rules."
I've often heard from moms that "the days are long, but the years are short?"  As I prepared for motherhood, I was anticipating this feeling.  Years of babysitting where minutes felt like hours made me realize this adage was probably true.  But the old cliche, "It's different when they are your own," really is true.  The days fly by.

We're living right now in three hour increments which really speeds things up.  Most of my time is spent caring for Joshua.  Beyond the typical feeding and rocking, I'm also readjusting his cannula every ten minutes, looking for cures to constipation, doing developmental exercises, rounding his head, massaging his legs and belly, responding to his monitor, and performing other tasks as needed.  (Jerry does all of this too, by the way.)

While Joshua is napping, I take a look at the clock and think, "Hurry, you have two hours!"  This never seems to be enough time to shower, eat, try new recipes, clean, do laundry, floss, read, do yoga, blog, learn some sign language, go for a walk, or even finish watching that movie that we started three days ago.  Even now I'm looking at the clock and realizing that I only have ten more minutes.  I was always afraid that I would feel like I couldn't get anything done.  I'm not really getting anything done except caring for my child and I'm okay with that for now.  (I do have a million projects I want to do.  I just have to figure out how to squeeze them into their allotted time slots.)

"Help me out here.  Just a little closer."
Then at the end of a short, but very exhausting day, I crawl into bed.  I hope rather that expect to enjoy some REM sleep before the next feeding.

Lest you think that I'm saying every moment of my day is peaceful and joyful, don't be fooled.  Today, my day started at 4:30 AM, and I'm still feeling a little bitter that I haven't gotten a nap.  It seems that Joshua has mommy's-napping radar and triggers his oxygen monitor by holding his breath. I have still not done half the stuff I wanted to do today and I'm okay with that.

I know that there will be long days.  There will be days with vomiting, and tantrums, and vomiting simultaneous to tantrums.  Some days will seem more boring than others.  But the years go fast and I want to enjoy them.  And so when I'm tired or don't know what to do with a screaming child, I keep repeating to myself, "Enjoy this because it won't last." 
"Yeah, I'm cute.  No reminder necessary."