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June 22, 2009

How It Sometimes Is

How is it at our house? This is how it sometimes is, lately.

Aimee: [Sitting on the couch, calling upstairs] Joel? Can you help me?

Joel: [In the bathroom, calling downstairs] Adelaide's painting my toes, what do you need?

Aimee: I'm nursing Henry and I can't reach my book.

Adelaide: [Also in the bathroom, calling downstairs] I'm giving papa's toes some Cinderella paint!

Aimee: Can you just hand me my book?

Joel: Could you just take a moment to savor the special connection you're sharing with Henry, a bond the likes of which I'll never be able to experience?

Aimee: [pause] Well, I'll just pick at his head.

June 18, 2009

The Big Red ... Cat?

We love our library. Today our author-in-residence, Jack Gantos of Rotten Ralph fame, hosted a special storytime for the preschool set. After Mr. Gantos read to us from Not So Rotten Ralph, the real Rotten Ralph stopped by to shake hands, give hugs and high fives, and encouraged the kids to read. When the big red cat entered the room, Adelaide jumped up and did a labrador-like whole body wave in greeting. When it came time to actually shake hands a little later, Adelaide was a bit shy, but we had a great time anyway!



June 17, 2009

Finally Passing

Yesterday, Henry had his two-month check-up, and I am proud to announce that he finally passed his hearing test!

When Henry was born, we snuck out of the hospital without getting the requisite hearing screen from the audiology staff and have been paying the karmic price ever since. I have lugged Henry up to the Otolaryngology offices to sit and wait for our turn in the soundproof room no less than four times in his short little life. Henry had always passed in his right ear, but his left always refused to play along and assure us of his ability to hear. I had no suspicions that his hearing was in anyway defunct, especially with his latest sensitivity to slamming doors and noisy Adelaides, but still, we needed a pass for the record-book. Yesterday, the audiologist - who didn't speak above a whisper in my presence, but jokingly said that she spent most of her day shouting - wanted to try a new screening method, and so attached all kinds of electrodes to Henry's head and gently placed cute baby-sized earphones over his ears. After some minor technical difficulties with the fancy equipment, Henry lay there and almost immediately passed his test while the audiologist and I discussed the wolf at the hospital's door in hushed tones.

In other news, Henry weighed in at 10 pounds, 9 ounces, stretched out at 23 inches, and if you're thinking of buying him a hat, make sure it's at least 40 inches in diameter.

June 10, 2009

In the Good Ol' Summertime

When you're a kid, summertime is a grand old season of raspberry lemonade, barefeet, sandy hairdos, ice cream sandwiches, farmer's market cucumbers, sun-kissed cheeks, summer reading lists, brilliant thunder-and-lightening storms, bat sightings, late bedtimes, and afternoon picnics.

As Adelaide said just yesterday as we were breezing toward Downtown and the public library in car, windows agape inviting in the bugs and sunshined-warmed air, "Outside is everywhere."

Adelaide spins at City Park's outdoor Old Time Amusement Park. Of racing horses, pouncing tigers, and prancing bears, Adelaide chose the humble burro for her carousel ride.

A little Hawkeye-colored train gave Adelaide and I a fun tour of City Park's lower parkland. Chuga-chuga-chuga-woo-woo!

Ah, the deafening sounds of the splash pad and the comfort of the car seat ... Henry just chillin' poolside in Coralville.

Adelaide is caught running from one adventure to the next at the Aquatic Center. Swimming lessons for this small fry start soon!

June 5, 2009

Two Months Old, or What's in a Name

Today's a banner day for Henry - He's two months old!


We've moved on from the sleeping, mewing newborn phase and onto bigger and better things with lots of funny smiles, sweet cooing, and loads of eye contact.

In celebration of Henry's achievements, I thought that we'd take a moment and tell the provenance of his name.

So, there we were, discharging from the hospital after just a 24-hour overnight stay following our delivery and still we'd not settled on a name for our little guy. We'd had our list of Brave Names and Name Names in hand, but just hadn't had a moment's peace to sit down a put pen to paper between the vital sign checks, the newborn examinations, the whirlpool tubs, the comforting of Adelaide, the coordinating of details, and the celebration of our health and success. But in order to sneak home early we were required to complete the baby's birth certificate, and the first question on the birth certificate is What Is Baby's Name?

Our hospital room was a scene of chaos and activity. Joel had brought chinese take-out for us and the room was filled with the delicious, decadent smells of MSG and fried crab rangoon. In between bites of her supper, Adelaide, like a maniacal fountain spraying rice, bounced around the room, jumping from couch to bed to chair and back again in her excitement. A line of nurses - my co-workers - nearing shift change at seven o' clock, stopped by to admire the baby and congratulate us. Simultaneously, Marmee, Joel, and I were all on our respective cell phones with various well-wishers all the while trying to eat and pack up our stuff. With the lights on and the decibels increasing, the baby magically slept.

And the blank for the baby's name on the birth certificate stared.

"Well, what should we name him?" I asked Joel.

After tossing a few names (e.g., Samuel, Edward, Abraham) up in the air and immediately shooting them back down again, we kept coming back to our favorites: Henry (my favorite) and Casper (Joel's favorite).

I'd recently read in a baby naming book that parents should give their babies a name that they would like to have themselves. Henry has always been a baby name at the top of my list. It's a tried and true name that has an active place in history and at the same time is short, sweet, and fun to say in French. I also like the letter H. It's symmetrical. I like symmetry. And all the nicknames! Harry, Hal (or Hotspur, if we're going to be truly pretentious), Hank, Enrique, Henri, and on and on ...

Casper is a cool name that Joel and I unearthed while we were hunting for baby names when Adelaide was still in utero. Hand-me-downs at One Day old, right? Forget the friendly ghost for just a minute, and say Casper out loud ... Isn't it cool? Hard consonants and that neat "zeh" sound sandwiched between the C and the P make it a brilliant name to shout or say in a stage whisper. In the 8th century A.D., the Roman Catholic church gave names to the then-tofore unnamed Magi who visited and showered the infant Jesus with gold, frankincense and myrrh: Balthasar, Melchior, and Caspar. That always seemed like kind of a cool namesake to me, a humbled and honored king celebrating the birth of a tiny baby born in poverty, but destined for greatness. And Joel thought that Cap would be a great nickname.

So, in pen, I wrote Henry Casper on the blank birth certificate and we congratulated ourselves on a job well done.


Over the past few weeks of Henry's life, we keep trying out new nicknames for him. So far, we most continuously call him 'Hen' or 'Hal Pal', but I'm trying to make Huck happen. For sacred family reasons, one of my favorite nicknames, Hank, cannot happen, and so Huck seems like a similar hip alternative to Hank. Unfortunately, whenever I call him Huck or Huckleberry, Adelaide corrects me and says, "That's not his name! His name is Hen-er-y!"

June 1, 2009

Back to Work

Today was my first day back to work after my nearly-two month maternity leave. I found that, unlike my co-workers, my hiatus afforded me a certain amount of reprieve from the cares of Caring, and so I met my nursing responsibilities feeling refreshed and ready. My attitude was buoyed further by the reality that my part-time status will require me to be on time somewhere only a couple of times each week.

Although the day was busy for me - learning the new unwieldy, hospital wide, entirely electronic patient charting system in addition to jogging here and there in my usual service of patients - I had a great day. In part, because it started off on the right foot with just the right new little family ...

I tapped on my assigned patient's door, poked my head inside, and said my typical introduction to a sleepy-looking new mom, "Hi, my name is Aimee and I'll be your nurse today. Is it okay if I come in?" Nobody, especially achy moms looking for pain medication, ever refuses. After the usual assessments and look-overs, the new mom and I had a chit-chat over her tightly swaddled, two day-old daughter.

"So, have you given your daughter a name yet?" (I phrase this question in this way often, as I remember the pressure we felt to name both of our babies before we were discharged. Naming another person takes thoughtful consideration, and although Joel and I had working lists prepared each time we went into labor, we just couldn't name our little ones before we'd had a chance to be properly introduced ...)

The new mom, beaming down at her daughter, said, "Yes. Her name is Adelaide."

"Adelaide! Oh my gosh! I have an Adelaide, too!" In almost a year of work with newly-named babies, I hadn't met an Adelaide. Sure, we've had tons of Addies, Addisons, and Adelines, but no Adelaides, until today.

We cooed over the new Adelaide until the doctor came in to check on her patient.

"What did you name her?" asked the doctor.

"We decided to name her Adelaide, and my nurse, Aimee, has an Adelaide, too!"

"Oh my gosh," said the doctor, "I have an Adelaide, too! She's three. How old is your Adelaide?" the doctor asked me.

The three of us went on for a little while about our Adelaides ... What is the likelihood? In a world of Emmas, Jacks, Emilys, and Jacobs, Adelaide's name will always be a bit unique. It's part of why we chose Adelaide for Adelaide: old-world charm, a little bit playful, a little bit sassy, and great nickname potential. But, it's definitely a name that makes people say, "Ade-lyn?" or "Abigail?" or "What?" Except people born before 1920 and those familiar with the musical Guys and Dolls, I nearly always have to repeat or at least spell Adelaide's name. I never expect to meet many Adelaides under the age of 90, so today's moment felt positively serendipitous and kept me delighted the live long day.

I told this story to Joel, Henry, and Adelaide on the drive home from work. Adelaide replied, "That's hilarious!"