Lila’s First Dance Recital

She looked so grown up with all that makeup on…. I’m so proud of her!

Real Pregnancy

I found this picture on Lu Hale’s blog and had to re-post it. This is what I feel like most days… It is a rare occasion that I feel like Christina Aguilera on the cover of Marie Claire.

What’s In A Name?

I found this personal essay on Babble about baby naming. It’s hilarious! I wonder if Cammi means naked, poop or meat in a far off country somewhere…

Global Naming
By Anna Dilemna

Ever met a guy named Hochiminh Gonzalez? If so, chances are that he was from Venezuela, where a culture of whimsical baby-naming — Maolenin, Superman, Yurbiladyberth! — has flourished. I come from Utah, where there is also a tradition of creative baby naming. Old spellings, Book of Mormon names, and a particular fondness for adding the prefix “La” are all common practice. Large families had to be inventive to differentiate among so many children. Thus, all the little Nephis, LaFonns and LaVerls. One can’t help but feel relieved that the Mormon church withdrew its missionaries from Venezuela in 2005, saving untold infants from being named LaMaolenin.

I didn’t marry a Venezuelan, but I came close: my husband is Colombian. You’d certainly expect that when a girl from Utah gets married to a guy from Colombia, there’d be a few cultural differences, but I wasn’t too concerned. So what if he came from a country where they liked to dump flour on each other after soccer games? So what if my great-great grandfather had four wives? Alex and I loved each other! Besides, he’d spent half his life in New York City and seemed pretty American. We both liked beef patties and seeing obscure bands play at loft parties, so how different could we be? It wasn’t until I got pregnant that our cultural differences began to rear their little cabecitas. When we decided to move to Japan, I figured that would just be one more cultural influence to add to the mix. Sushi goes fine with Colombian empanadas and Mormon jello salad.

It wasn’t until I got pregnant that our cultural differences began to rear their little cabecitas. What religion to raise him in? Whether or not to pierce her ears the instant she popped out of the womb? But the biggest one: we just couldn’t agree on what to name the kid. “How about Charlotte?” I’d ask. “No,” he’d respond. “My mother would pronounce it with a hard “ch,” like “charcoal.” Names containing “ch” were out. Also nixed were any Spanish names which contained an “r,” because (despite my best efforts and a childhood full of “Rrrrrruffles Have Rrrrridges” commercials) I was still unable to pronounce the rolled Spanish “r” without sounding as though I were dislodging a hairball. One day, Alex said that he thought the name Stephanie was pretty. Stephanie was the name of my third-grade nemesis, a mean, chubby eight-year-old girl who would never share her Twinkies. We would not be naming our baby Stephanie.

To complicate matters further, since we lived in Japan, we had to take into consideration that if we gave our child any name that contained an “r” or an “l,” the locals would have trouble with it. Alex had already endured months of being referred to as “Arex-san,” and he wasn’t sure he wanted to inflict the same fate on his kid. Lucas was another favorite that was quickly eliminated. Not only would he be called “Roocus,” but it was also the name of Cookie Monster on Plaza Sesamo, the Spanish language version of Sesame Street, an association that for whatever reason Alex felt he couldn’t handle.

In addition to all the other restrictions, we also had to be careful not to choose a name that had a negative meaning in Japanese. So worried is the government about this that they have actually issued a list of characters that people are forbidden to use in naming their children. Some of the restricted names seemed fairly reasonable. It certainly wouldn’t do to have a bunch of kids running around named Bad, Sweat, Naked, Stomach, Ticket and Meat.

One would think it’d be fairly easy to avoid naming your kid something like that, but even innocuous sounding Western names could have quite negative meanings in Japanese. We had to rule out Ben, because in Japanese it means poop. A list of naming guidelines began to form. First off, the name must be able to be pronounced by all family members. Secondly, the name must not remind anyone of either a gluttonous Sesame Street character or a gluttonous third grader.

In talking with other pregnant friends who were also in bicultural relationships, I came to learn that we were not alone in our naming problems. An Irish girlfriend of mine walked into our birthing class one day and announced that her French husband wanted to name their daughter after her vagina. A circle of pregnant faces stared at her in confusion until she explained that her husband was determined to name their daughter “Fanny,” a very popular girl’s name in France but which, in Ireland, is used to refer to a woman’s genitals. I saw then that my problems could be worse.

I realized that some of Venezuela’s whimsical naming customs had seeped over into neighboring Colombia (or at least into my Colombian) when Alex came home one day and announced that we should name the baby “Biji” after one of the characters in our “Japanese for Busy People” textbook. He reasoned that, since we lived in Japan, we should give our child a “Japanese kind of name.” In the book, Biji-san plays the part of the businessman. He is depicted by a round circle indicating a head and a pie-like piece cut out of the circle as his mouth. He is bald and always dressed in a little smock with no pants and a tie. Needless to say, in my opinion, this was not the perfect name.

Two months later our son Nicolas was born, the name decided only three days before his birth. After months of discussion, it was literally the only name we could come up with that didn’t break any of our naming guidelines and that neither of us hated. We decided to call him Nico, both to make the name a bit more original as well as to sidestep the pronunciation problems with the Japanese “l.” It wasn’t the name that either of us really wanted, but oddly enough it turned out to be the right name for him. We found out later that “Nico-Nico” means smiley in Japanese and Nico was a very smiley baby.

Three years later, I’m pregnant again. This time, we’re living in the French-speaking region of Switzerland, where we’re required to choose a baby name from an “approved” government list. If not, we must provide proof that the name we have chosen is “normal” in our home country. In other words, there are probably not many children running around in Switzerland named “Moon Unit” or “Apple.” (Switzerland is not the only European country to have name restrictions. Denmark’s “Names Investigation Department and the Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs” rejects up to twenty percent of the names it reviews every year.)

Being a seasoned veteran of the hazards of bicultural naming, I know to expect problems and thus far, I haven’t been disappointed. Max won’t work because in Spanish it’s short for Maximiliano, which for some reason reminds Alex of Mexican mariachi singers. Gisele was quickly shot down because “it’s like the Tiffany of Spanish names.”

But I’m not worried, because even though I know we may very well have to compromise again, I also know now that the name we choose will be the product of our cultural backgrounds as well as the lives that we’ve lived both separately and as a couple. The name we choose for this next baby may not be the perfect one, but it will most certainly be the right one. In the meantime, the other night I dreamed that Alex came home and announced that we should name the baby Fondue. I wonder if that’s on the Swiss list of approved names?

Wishing and Hoping

Yesterday, Terra hosted a surprise baby shower for me! It was wonderful! She had everything planned perfectly with games and yummy food. I had a hunch that something was going on and when Marc and I drove up to my in-law’s house for “lunch” and there were blue balloons hanging on the lights, I knew someone had been up to something sneaky! I got a lot of great gifts and I am finally feeling prepared to have another baby! The decorations were adorable. Terra hung up little onesies and bibs from a clothesline in the window. There was also a cupcake “cake” that was decorated like clouds with a stork on top. Thanks to everyone who helped/came to the party. It made my day a really happy one! (Pictures to follow…Mom? Have you uploaded them yet?)

As I was unpacking some of the gifts this morning, I got the song “Wishing and Hoping” stuck in my head. It’s the song at the beginning of my Best Friend’s Wedding (love that movie!!). The song doesn’t quite have the same meaning as having a baby, but that’s how I’ve been feeling the last couple weeks. I’m wishing and hoping and thinking and praying; Planning and dreaming…..about finally having this boy! Where are you Max? I’m ready for you to join our family!

My Naughty Chloe

Is it possible for such a cute little person to have such a strong personality? When she wants to be bad, she knows just how to push my buttons.

Worldwide Visitors

I seem to get a new dot on my ClusterMap once a week that is in a new country and I wonder – Is my blog being hit by mistake? Do I have some international visitors who find my life interesting? Who’s out there? I would love to know!

A Few Memories…

Goodbye

I have spent a large majority of the last 6 1/2 years of my life at Henry Schein, formally known as Dentrix. Wow….6 1/2 years! I was still 18 when they first hired me as a front desk receptionist. All of my major life changes so far have been shared with those I worked with – my first roommate was my co-worker, I found the love of my life there, got married, had 2 (almost 3) kids and I have grown up more than I thought was possible! I made some great friends I will continue to keep in touch with as well. It feels strange to leave my work with Henry Schein behind, but I’m definitely not lacking things to do! I’m excited to move on to a new stage in my life. Thanks for the memories everyone!