Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Annals, Entry VIII - Appetites

The chief spokesman was Menenius Agrippa and after much entreaty of the people and much plain speaking in behalf of the senate, he concluded his discourse with a celebrated fable. He said, namely, that all the other members of man’s body once revolted against the belly, and accused it of being the only member to sit idly down in its place and make no contribution to the common welfare, while the rest underwent great hardships and performed great public services only to minister to its appetites . . .
Plutarch IV, 131 LCL

Lucian has an amazing appetite, but his mouth is not unlike a revolving door. At times, it opens and rotates smoothly: one bite, two bites, three bites, four. The procession continues unhindered. This is a good day. We aim the spoon, the spoon enters with food still on it, and all are happy. Sometimes, however, the spoon tries to go in but the door jams, and in this instance, one can only hope that it will open again soon. Then, there are the times when the door takes on a life of its own, turning uncontrollably. The food goes in and comes out, goes in and comes out, in and out, then in and. . . Of course there is also the loitering, going painfully slowly, but you know you can’t fit two in the same slot.

While the revolving door analogy works, our attempts to feed Lucian can also be described as a storm, more specifically a tornado. The funnel sways, moving this way and that, completely unpredictable. It pulls in debris only to spin it out with all its power. We dive for cover in a futile attempt to avoid the onslaught. Food is flying from the sky, and even in the downpour, everyone comes out filthy. There is no counter offence, no escape, so it is endured (though any experienced visitors know better than to sit in what we fondly call the "drop zone"!). At this point, our children resemble Agrippa's stomach. While we wouldn't go so far as to say that Lucian makes no contribution, at times we relate to the great hardships, and we continually minister to his appetites, but more often than not, our overtures are flatly refused.

Bon appetit!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Annals, Entry VII - Opportunity Knocks

Doors generally function as a barrier, as an entrance or exit, as a threshold. With children, they are all of the above and much more. They are a game, a challenge, a communication device, and an entrance into childhood. Doors start as a simple barrier, a division reminding us parents that we have a life of our own. When children sleep, there is peace; the door is closed. There is a blessed click that brings quiet, relaxation, and solace. As children grow, doors become one of the most fabulous props for peekaboo. Simply standing on one side and then appearing on the other causes the greatest laughter and the largest smiles. No matter how many times you do it, the laughter is still the same. Then, doors become a challenge for both children and parents. All things become available to the child. Garbage becomes a tasty treat, and cupboards that were once a safe house have been cracked.

A few months ago, Quintus realized he was capable of opening his bedroom door, the moment of transition from game to challenge. The barrier moved from the merely physical to the psychological. “Stay in your room” was now a request. Quintus has realized his independence, recognizes his personal freedom and power. This freedom that sounds innocently like the click of the bolt and the squeak of a hinge is, to us, the sound of inevitability, the sound of our doom. It is also a wake up call to invoke the innate traits of all two year olds: obedience, responsibility, and self-control.

Famous quotes from under the door:

  • Daddy, I have to go poop again.
  • Daddy, my pee is back.
  • Mommy, my throat is sick.
  • I lost my blanket.
  • I started being afraid of the dark now.
  • I have to go pee really bad. (This often happens more than once a night.)
  • I want to come out; I’m not being ridiculous.
  • I’m not sleeping; I’m looking out my window.
  • I’m a little bit sad; can I go pee now?
  • Hi Lucian – how are you?
  • I see a cat, Daddy.
  • Mommy, when are you going to your bed?
  • Daddy, what’s that movie you’re watching? I want to see that movie, Daddy.

In the morning, the game is a bit different. We used to say a nice rhyme to him at night:

Good night sleep tight
Wake up with the morning light
To do what’s right
With all your might

After about three weeks of waking at 5:30am, it came to our attention that there is a very literal side to a child's understanding. It was that second line that we deeply regretted and changed very quickly. “Wake up after the morning light” did not destroy the symbolism too much, and it helped us get past the crack of dawn. Quintus recognized the change, and we could not scold him for being obedient; he was only doing what we had told him, though there was a clear twinkle in his eye as he saw the benefits of loopholes such as this and said: “You told me to wake up with the morning light.” It was a difficult lesson but one we are glad to have learned. You may wonder why it took us, self-assumedly competent adults, so long to recognize this pattern. However, if you lost three hours of sleep every night for three weeks, you’d empathize with our inability to think straight. Eventually, having successfully navigated this hurdle, we heard the following from under the door:

  • How many more minutes until I can get up?
  • Can I get up now?
  • Is it time to get up?
  • Hi, Lucian. He likes me!!
  • Can I come into your bed now?
  • I want to go play with my toys really bad.
  • Mommy…Mommy…Mommy…I lost my blanket, Mommy. Help me find it, Mommy.
  • Daddy...Daddy...Daddy...Why you are not listening to me, Daddy?

The Romans used to keep the door of the temple of Janis open during times of war and closed in times of peace. If any historians still wonder why open means war and closed means peace, they need only have a few children.

Well it’s time to bring this to a close, but tomorrow is certainly a new day.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Annals, Entry VI - Maxims of Maximus

A maxim is a general statement usually deemed to be universally applicable. Aristotle’s Rhetoric 1394 and 1395 provide some details. To our amusement (and occasionally, chagrine), Quintus has recently begun sharing rudiments of his “universal” wisdom with us:
  1. That’s just the way the night goes sometimes
  2. I can’t; it’s complicated
  3. Obedience means listening to mommy and daddy; responsibility is doing what I`m supposed to; self control means not doing bad thing
  4. Dirt looks like poop
  5. Death hurts
  6. Hummers are gas guzzlers
  7. If I don’t chew, I throw-up
  8. A big pee in the morning means I will be dry at night
  9. My food is black; it’s burnt
  10. Falling down is funny
  11. Moldy cheese tastes a little bit eww (complimented equally by “Gouda tastes good-uh”)

While somewhat limited in scope, these are drastic improvements over the beginnings of his speech. Quintus' first word was “hi there.” Not only “hi,” which would have been a formal greeting, but “hi there,” which is spatially separated from "hi here." There is explicit recognition of distance from the other. It is not the yes of Derrida (xxii-xxiii), but it is not no either, not an Amen but not ignorance; it is the acknowledgement of distance, the presence apart, yet the introduction to the other in the possible interest of yes. In acknowledging the other as apart from the self, this initial statement was an early revelation of Quinn’s personality; he is one who observes all, calculates from a safe distance, and engages when the time is right.

Second to “Hi there” was “Bee bee bee bee bee - Oh wow!” an expression that signified his intense interest in his surrounding reality. Every encounter was a new creation to be taken in with freshness, diligence, and care. All things were not an end in themselves as Kant’s second formulation of the categorical imperative would have it.

Quinn’s quest was for knowledge of the object. To acknowledge something requires recognition, a process that demands objectification; once something has been objectified, it has become a means to an end. The examination of any object requires an encounter between a subject and an object. For the younger Quintus, there was never an end in itself. His encounters with the other were occasions of perpetual reintroduction and continued enjoyment, as repeatedly emphasized by his next verbal utterance: “arrrrrraaaaaaah,” most properly translated “again.” Karl found this a refreshing reminder of the wonder of creation, a correlative and corrective to the subject-object relationship. “By thus fixing the thoughts of others upon their relations with Heaven, [Quintus] Fabius [Maximus] makes them more cheerful regarding the future” (Plutarch’s Lives LCL, Vol. 3, p. 131). Reality for our Quintus was other, exciting and concrete, yet always new and so never completely objectified. Although often couched nowadays in a highly elaborate (and often hilarious) vocabulary, to our delight, his exuberant outlook remains. May he always say, “I spy with my little eye something…poop. There it is!” and do it with more joy than most.

The Annals, Entry V - Carpe Diem (or rather...Dies)

In advance of labour and delivery, Andrea held tightly to a couple of suppositions:

  1. It certainly couldn't be harder than a day of bagging up with double boxes of spruce before walking in to the back of your land somewhere in the Torpy Valley (and if you have no idea what we're talking about, this will give you a primer on how we spent 6 summers together). Just to be explicit, such a day usually involved bloody hips and shoulders from carrying all the tree weight (usually around 50 lbs for a two-box bagup), ripped out leg hair due to bag rub, blistered and bloated feet from 10+ hrs on rough terrain in combination with multiple rainstorms, muscle cramps and a sore back from walking about 10 km per 10+ hour day with the aforementioned weight. The end result in most cases (for those who didn't turn and run after the first two weeks) was a bizarre and slightly sad love of pain coupled with the ability to slip between alternate realities (and while the DSM-IV would likely have something to say about this, we promise we're much better now...)
  2. Physically fit people have shorter, easier labours

In preparation for the impending ordeal, she did two things related to these fundamental beliefs:

  1. Nostalgically reminisced over how hard core she was back in the day (can you find us here?) and siked herself up to belief that she still had it in her. Karl thought she was a bit soft, but he was wrong...
  2. Walked and walked and walked some more – since she works about 5 km from our house and her ob/gyn doc kicked her off her bicycle about halfway through the pregnancy, getting in a decent amount of foot time was pretty easy; once her mat leave started, she even visited work a few times a week just to keep up the walking!

On a Monday, after one of these extended walking sessions, she noticed that her hips felt unnaturally loose as she climbed the stairs. Inside the house, she noticed some of the less coffee-talk appropriate signs of impending labour, along with contractions about 10-20 minutes apart. As a first timer and slightly horrified by some of the aforementioned unmentionables, Andrea panicked, and off we ran to the hospital. It was a good 3-hour test run that involved:

  • Nurses laughing sardonically, claiming they could tell from a mile away that we were first-timers
  • A self-proclaimed "overworked and underpaid" nurse who proceeded to squirt Andrea's blood all around the room while placing an IV and then asked Karl to clean it up
  • A resident who stated Andrea was 2 cm dilated followed by another resident who said that dilation had yet to begin
  • The blood squirting nurse returning to kindly help us "escape" from the hospital so that we could spend the rest of early labor in peace at home

Back on our own turf, we were encouraged that things were starting up with the assumption that sometime the next day we would joyfully welcome our firstborn to the world. After one mostly sleepless night that involved a lot of contraction timing and a few walks around the block (it's a whole new world out there at that time!!), we were pretty tired, but seeing as how things were pretty much "stable" (contractions 3-6 minutes apart, painful, and 1 minute long, but not really going anywhere), Andrea sent Karl back to school and puttered around the house, binging on all things Internet related to labour and birth. By that evening, things had evened out with contractions pretty steadily 3-5 minutes apart, but they were not getting any easier to deal with, so before going to bed, knowing there would be no sleep for us, we headed off to the hospital again, thinking that something must be happening by now. After all, early labour's not supposed to take more than twelve hours, right? This Tuesday evening trip involved:

  • The same laughing nurses (though perhaps "sarcastic chuckling" would be more accurate at that point)
  • Two of the medical students Andrea works with stopping in for a chat and checkup
  • A crusty chief resident who, after determining Andrea was 2 cm dilated, said that he had just delivered a couple who had come in a week earlier in the same condition as Andrea (A WEEK!!!!)
  • Us bolting out of the hospital as fast as we could, chalking the experience up to diversion and lack of anything better to do while waiting

It was when we got home and started reading the Bradley book more carefully that Karl noticed mention of the "putterer" labor pattern, and while Andrea is always comforted by categories and labels, whoever decided to write "you are not working hard at this stage" was clearly smoking the aforementioned but uncondoned reefers. Double-box spruce bagups and a swampy walk-in were starting to look pretty sweet indeed. Wednesday was pretty much "second verse, same as the first" except that when we went for our recreational hospital visit at about 11pm that night, Andrea was finally 3.5cm dilated, and they decided we should stay until morning to see if she would progress any more quickly with some rest. Miraculously, Andrea's contractions slowed a lot, and she was finally able to sleep until the nurse shift change early Thursday morning. (Remember way back on Monday when this whole thing got started? No? Us neither...)

However, at 7am, she was still only barely 4cm dilated (this must break some kind of terrible record or something), and they decided to get proactive on us. Andrea's water was broken at 7:30am, and contractions came back almost immediately at double strength and double speed. Andrea managed well for about an hour while Karl figured out all the bells and whistles of the electronic gadgetry involved. With all the cords and wires, plus the Lazyboy in the corner, he was looking for the receiver and plasma television. Who knew he was going to get to watch this on 1080p with DTS-HD?!? Unfortunately, the sound track was stuck on something that sounded like a train car repeatedly riding over particularly bumpy tracks. At one point, Andrea's dry-humored and medical-intervention-loving ob/gyn doc swaggered in, patted her head, and said rather patronizingly, "Well, aren't you a righteous sufferer..." before waltzing right back out. Andrea says she chuckled in her head, but Karl doesn't believe her. Karl knew the genius behind his comments was to stimulate Andrea's rage (perhaps we'll discuss our personal motivations at another point…), thus removing her subjective experience of pain by turning her focus to anger (Bruce Banner turning to Incredible Hulk?).

Although we had been pretty excited about a med-free birth, the psychological fatigue of the past three days had taken a toll, and at about 9:00am, Andrea gladly accepted the nurse's offer of an epidural. Fortuitously (in hindsight), however, the anesthesiologist was stuck in an emergency c-section, and by the time he was free, the nurse came back to an interesting scene in our room. Karl was at one moment on top of the bed, pushing as hard has he could on Andrea's back, the next running over to cool a cloth for her forehead, and the next grabbing some ice chips out of a cup for her dry mouth before jumping back on the bed to start the cycle all over again. The nurse took one look and said, "She doesn't have time for the epidural," before walking back out. Why she left us alone at that point was somewhat baffling, as it was only a minute or two before the uncontrollable urge to push overcame Andrea, and Karl ran out into the hall to yell at any passersby: "My wife is pushing whether you want her to or not!!" This caused the appropriate ruckus, and suddenly, at 10am, our room was full of all kinds of people bringing in all sorts of equipment and generally causing a commotion.

Once they got everything set up and decided they were ready (is that a bit ironic?), Andrea's body decided it had had enough, and she went numb…literally. She was in that weird half-reclined position you always see in the movies, except that instead of cursing and flailing, she was asking a junior medical student (witnessing her first birth) what she liked best about medical school, what specialties she was considering, and all sorts of other odd stuff. She was a lovely student, though perhaps mildly disappointed by the anticlimactic nature of her experience with us, evidenced by her inquiry: "Aren't you supposed to be screaming or something? All my friends say the lady always screams…" Karl, on the other hand was slightly awestruck by the scene. A half moon of nurses and students were whispering to each other while another in the hallway directed more traffic into the room. There were hushed mentions of the sacred "N" word: a "natural" birth. The nurses had to tell Andrea when to push because she couldn't feel the contractions, but we had the best resident ever coaching everyone. It was calm and serene; the universe was at peace, and the child was going to be delivered into what had become a waxing crescent of medical staff all facing the birthing chair. We would have continued like that for quite some time, except that Andrea's ob/gyn decided to make another grand entry, somewhat like a comet breaking into the earth's atmosphere. He surveyed the scene and decided that all was too calm and orderly. To heat things up, he determined that vacuum extraction would solve this lengthy delivery problem (Andrea had been pushing for maybe a half-hour at this point, pretty short for a first-timer, but whatever…), and our boy was out in no time flat. Karl pronounced his emperor name, and we were good to go. While we could tell of Karl's slightly traumatic cord-cutting experience or the overly graphic third-party breastfeeding demonstration, the main point remains that Quintus Maximus was born into our family, and we were overjoyed.

Yes, for those wondering, "Quintus" was a fitting name for our son (aside from the fact that it pleases Karl's colleagues so immensely…). Historically, Quintus Maximus' Roman family name was Fabii, which is tied to ditches. As tree planters, we lived, dug, and drove in ditches. Andrea's planting experience helped her get him into this world and also led to the generation of Quinn's name. We will have to see what the serenity and celestial signs at his birth portend (scroll to XCIV, especially the last few sentences)!

Stay tuned next time to hear the young emperor say: "I spy with my little eye something...poop. There it is!!"

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Annals, Entry IV - Conceiving Greatness

In Karl's view, the last month of a woman's pregnancy is torture. Having enlightened and gender-progressive views, he is convinced that most men, aware or not, actually experience early toddler training vicariously through their wives during late pregnancy. In support of this theory, he notes the following similarities:

  • Trouble putting them to bed
  • Fussy eating
  • No attention span
  • Excessive neediness and impulsiveness
  • Ask all types of why questions (Why do my pants feel wrong; Why does this take so long; and the infamous "Are we there yet?")
  • Need regular naps
  • Have to be taken for walks not leaving your sight (lest labour begin)
While Andrea may have her own rebuttal to the above, she has to confess that birthing an emperor is no easy business. It all starts the minute you see that second pink line (well, ok, let’s get with the times – the test of today basically yelled at us: “PREGNANT”)… In parallel with life growing in the womb, there is an anxiety that simultaneously starts as a small seed and multiplies to take on a life of its own.
  1. The Worry Web - Andrea was part of many on-line chat groups and read numerous blogs in order to “better our situation,” yet for each question answered or worry alleviated, more were raised. For each positive and encouraging story she read, others recounted disaster and devastation. Admittedly, we did have one miscarriage prior to Quintus’ birth, so a certain level of anxiety was legitimate, but Andrea’s insatiable appetite for “knowledge” led to a worry-feeding addiction. At first feeling this was unique to our situation, we later discovered that a close friend was “banned” from the Internet for the duration of her first pregnancy, citing similar reasons. (Pssst, girls - Karl's not looking - check this out!!)
  2. Gifts That Keep Giving – what Mennonite of sound mind can turn down an offer for free stuff? We giddily completed the forms inviting us to receive free samples of formula (that often came with handy extras, such as backpacks emblazoned with pink hearts!), diapers, baby wash, starter cereals, etc. Of course, the companies also took the opportunity to provide us with convenient weekly e-mails, continually updating us on what we would “need” and what stage our child was at in the womb (zygote, embryo, foetus) as well as what he would and would not be doing. We were never sure how to verify if he actually had eyelashes and/or hair, nor did we manage to master the fine art of distinguishing a burp from a fart. Nonetheless, every e-mail firmly emphasized just how important this was. Is our child developing correctly? Maybe we should sleep on a few TVs playing B*by E*nstein with a little background classical music, and we should probably talk really loud so the baby can hear our voices while giving him a little intra-uterine baby massage. Surely this will give our child the competitive edge he needs, right? (Well, that or ADD.) Further, even infant toys come with ratings on how this toy will increase your infant’s social development, hand eye coordination, color and shape recognition, and religious persuasion.
  3. The Due Date (warning: intellectual interlude) - forget holidays, birthdays, even the day of the week. All that matters is that one glorious day circled on the calendar (or as is most often the case, a circle that is eventually crossed out followed by another circle that is crossed out, and then the next day another circle, more crossing out, circles, crossing…you get the point). When a doctor says “due date”, all Karl can think about is Derrida’s essay on “différance” and all the confusion that comes with language. If you examine the Oxford English Dictionary (hereafter OED) on “due date”, you will find the eleventh definition as “due date, the date on which a bill falls due and is payable; so due day, the day on which any payment falls due” (connected to Latin). Thus, it is highly related to financial deficit. And, as most parents would agree, there is more connection here than to the supposed correct interpretation, which is listed as definition ten in the OED: “Under engagement or contract to be ready, be present, or arrive (at a defined time); reckoned upon as arriving; as the train is already due = ought, according to the time-tables, to be already here (or at such a place).” Thus, as soon as the doctors confidently proclaim the magical date, the meta-message is: “Are you and your bank account ready for this?” And if you are not and you live in France, you may use a curse pronounced very much like the first word in the etymology: “[ME. a. OF. deü, later , orig. pa. pple. of devoir to owe]"
  4. Labour Preparation Materials - we chose not to attend any formal classes, and Karl decided (as always) that reading a book or two was quite sufficient. After Andrea devoured both in an evening’s time somewhere during month three, on Karl’s shelf, as most books one doesn’t want to read, they sat for a long while collecting dust. Really, nine months is a pretty long time… However, eventually, the first book’s amazing illustrations depicting nude, seemingly post-reefer hippies just moments before and after giving birth convinced Karl that he had much to learn (nb: this blog in no way promotes reefer smoking at any time before, during, or after pregnancy). But still, nine months is a long time… Karl appeared to approach the required readings much like one might approach a friendly, neighbourhood book club, seeming to generally skim the material and ask Andrea questions to see if he got the gist. Of course, Karl never let on that his bibliophilia doesn’t really permit skimming, but he was having fun, and asking really bad questions was flirtatious and fun loving, wasn’t it? Unfortunately, when nine months suddenly didn’t seem that long anymore, contractions started, and then they didn’t stop. Karl, dismayed, found he was only halfway through the book.

Stay tuned for next time when Andrea says, “Who the h$&# ever heard of a four day labour?” and Karl responds cheerfully, “Don’t worry, honey, I just read right here on pp. 120-25 that it’s perfectly normal!”

(P.S. - the med student alluded to in the previous post is still coming - we just got a bit over-zealous on the prelude...)

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Annals, Entry III - Philosophy of a Name

Preparing yourself for the name game is very important. We have found that the following list contains most of the considerations involved when choosing a name.

  1. Familial traditions – following in an ancestor's footsteps
  2. Free associations - what ghosts jump out of the closet when you think of the name (class clown, first crush, school bully...)?
  3. Popularity – is the name on the US top 10 list (and do you want it to be or not)?
  4. Meaning – its etymological core
  5. Ethnic heritage – the name's language of derivation
  6. Historical significance – is it the name of some meaningful figure?
  7. Uniqueness – do you prefer to name your child after the first fruit that comes to mind or find comfort in the familiarity of Bob/Dave (again...we love you guys!!)
  8. Eternal destiny – do you believe the child's entire future lies in the balance?
  9. Random selection – open the book and point, etc.
  10. Rhymeability – Do you want to be able to sing "banana-fana-fo-fana" and can school-age children distort it for mocking purposes without having to actually exert creativity and effort?
  11. Pronunciation – when calling attendance, will your child's teacher pause, furrow his/her brow, and then produce some atrocity that even your child does not recognize?
  12. Laugh factor – when people hear the name, will they put their hands in front of their faces, recompose themselves, and say, “what a nice name”?

Let's go through it step by step as it worked out for us.

Family tradition was never one of Karl’s strongest points, so this aspect really never gained a foot hold. (You may wonder about Andrea’s discussion and consideration of some of these issues, but history is the story of the winners, so let us continue...).

Free associations - umm, no ghosts (see next point)

Popularity was huge for us, as in we REALLY didn't want our kids' names to show up on any top 10 list. As you can see (if you're interested), Quintus and Lucian met this criteria.

Meaning was significant for us. For a long while before we had children, we really liked the name Logan, but when Andrea got the thrift store name book, it informed us that the meaning is "little hollow", not exactly manly enough for Karl... Aside from this, many names have various meanings, and in some cases, it seems impossible to determine what the actual meaning is. Take Caleb for example: does it mean “dog” or “whole-hearted.” Obviously, there is a big difference between these ideas: one is a canine and the other is an attribute of a canine. After consulting numerous dictionaries, the overall consensus was clearly divided. That said, Quintus literally means "five" (relatively innocuous, though someone did ask us if we intended to have five children and name them all according to reverse birth order...) and Lucian means "light".

Ethnic heritage is difficult at best for us. Karl is a Russian, Prussian, Austrian adopted Scottish, Irish . . . something, and Andrea is a British, Irish, Norwegian, Scottish, and German . . . something. Our heritage covers a large part of numerous continents; where do our allegiances lie?

History proved to trump nearly all for us. It is Karl’s avid passion, and aside from Plutarch, he is convinced there is only one true historian, an individual who happens to specialize in the Roman Empire. Thus, in a quest for names, having been completely caught up, Karl could look no closer to the modern day than 1800 years ago. As for Quintus Maximus, his history is connected to wisdom and cunning; Virgil says of him “one man, by delaying, restored the state to us,” and he was called the shield of Rome. Lucian is from a writer trained as a rhetorician known for wit and sarcasm, though this is not the time to speak of Karl’s interests in rhetoric.

Destiny is a funny one. Karl means "manly" and Andrea means "womanly" and what is more natural than a man and a woman coming together? Further, Karl is a derivative of Andrea’s maiden name; obviously, we were destined for each other. Quintus actually combines two different meanings of an inscription at the Oracle of Delphi. Are you ready for this? The oracle was known for one more inscription than the two mentioned in our previous post. A third simply says “ei”. Now, in the American pronunciation of Greek, this would sound like the Canadian “eh”, rendering it culturally suitable. As well, two of its meanings come together to mean “you are five.” Thus, unknown to us, the oracle may have had something to do with Quinn’s name (we will never know). Even stranger, however, a kindly older Costco patron freely prophesied that Quintus “would be the president of Canada with a name like that.” Aside from what this means for future US-Canadian relations, we felt it was very interesting. Not to mention the slightly disconcerting lady at Wal-Mart who walked up to us when Quinn was about 9 months old and stated that he would rule the world. We are waiting to see what will be said of Lucian.

Random Selection - well, if you read Entry I, you know that the book was tossed out (oops, recycled) before it got much play.

Rhymeability - Quintus definitely gets a pass here, though we have managed to turn Lucian into "Loosh la bouche" in reference to his cacophonous outbursts and overwhelming love of food... While unintended, this may also foreshadow his future rhetorical prowess (you know, in combination with Destiny and everything).

Pronunciation is not impossible.

Laugh factor is a bit tricky. While most people don't laugh, several introductions have led to awkward silences that hint at “you're kidding right?” Of course, after Karl's male scholarly friends and a ton of old men got past the "are you serious" stage, they all unanimously agreed: "Those are the coolest names ever. I wish my wife would let me get away with that!!"

Stay tuned next time when Quintus' birth scene leads a young medical student to inquire: “Aren’t you supposed to be screaming or something?”

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Annals, Entry II - Let the "Names" Begin

Know thyself. Avoid extremes.
The Oracle of Delphi

During our brief engagement, we participated in a premarital counseling course. Before embarking on this activity, we did not really know what it was and were sure it would do us no good, but it was a requirement for the church rental. What harm could it do anyway? In the conflict resolution section (which, of course, we believed we would never need) the good advice given was that, in marriage, there are numerous ways to conclude conflict. In brief:
  1. Someone cedes the point (i.e., one party caves)
  2. Both parties talk it out and find a sensible solution (insert barfing sounds)
  3. Both parties compromise and meet some where in the middle

We are both too stubborn for the first to ever work. We can stare at each other for days looking for signs of weakness (umm, not that we do that or anything…). We are not idealistic enough nor do we have sufficient time for the second, so we usually end up embracing option number three. Our counselors never called it a "solution," but let's talk reality here.

In our house, the arrangement is as follows. Hypothetically, we want to see a movie together (the fact that we only occasionally have time or money to do this is somewhat irrelevant to the case at hand). It is a well-known fact that while we immensely enjoy our time alone together, we do not share similar tastes in Hollywood fare. In an unfortunate case of typical stereotypes, Karl generally avoids pink and fluff romance stories with plots so predictable they shame Harlequin novels while Andrea prefers that explosions and gunshots contribute to a general plotline rather than compose it and appreciates bass that stops short of measuring on the rector scale. At the outset, we know that some agreement will be reached, but giving up too much too soon can be devastating (once, in a moment of weakness, Karl found himself waking up in the middle of a Disney compilation called "Enchanted"…point made).

So, we square off in our corners and the dance begins. Karl starts things off by throwing out the latest testosterone killer so Andrea is forced to counter with some princess epic with unicorns. A little fancy footwork and Karl confidently moves into the genre of thrillers with Andrea strategically shifting to drama. A couple more fine-tuned maneuvers on both sides (in addition to general fatigue) and we settle on a dramatic-action or actiony-drama (to be balanced). This is how the game is played, we honour the rules, and we've honed each other's skills.

Back to names. When contemplating future offspring, Karl suggests highly "unique" names and Andrea counters with very popular and more culturally normative ones. At each step, we continually size each other up, testing the level of exaggeration and seriousness of the other's request to determine how extreme the response needs to be in search of balance. In our case, the outcome of the name duel seems to indicate Karl's slight victory but only after all rounds had been fairly fought and, well, with Andrea in labor, it was difficult for her to keep up the stamina (cheap on Karl's part, but really, she should have seen it coming).

Regardless, perhaps we should all listen to the Oracle. While each of us is extreme in our own way, our "fight" together leads to balance. Thus, we don't have a Bob or Dave (not to offend any of our fantastic Bob & Dave friends…Hi Dad!!) and we don't have Hannibal (not to offend…never mind…) but something in the middle: Quintus, which is nicely shortened to Quinn and Lucian, which can easily become Luc. Admittedly, their middle names are Maximus and Magnus, but this had more to do with birth weights than Rome.

Stay tuned next time to hear the Oracle of Delphi say..."eh".