Her Name

I confess, I was more prepared to have a boy. Everyone, even strangers on the street, was saying I carried like I was having a boy. Of course we knew it was still a 50/50 chance either way but we started to believe maybe people were right. So a boy name was pretty much set on. Girl names however was still in the short listing process.

And then we had a girl!

Indecision ensued. For about three weeks.

During those three weeks we would repeat our short list of names aloud over our little girl and see if she responded to any in particular. For one name we got a “wtf” facial expression so that name got crossed off. Another name got no response so that was dropped too. And then we tried to see if the names rhymed with anything off-colored or if it would be easy to make fun of. (We’d want to raise her to be confident and secure in her identity that she wouldn’t care if there was some name calling anyways.) One name Skywalker liked more than I did. Another name I liked more than he. But finally…we decided on Anessa Grace.

Anessa…like Vanessa…but without the V.
We came across the name in a “familiar but unique” list of names online. It had a nice ring….and it matched our criteria. It’s a variant of Agnes which means “pure”. We thought of the verse “Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God” (Matt 5:8) and really want our daughter to recognize God and find joy in Him in everything. My sister also shared afterwards that the Hebrew meaning was “favored” or “grace”. This was neat because her middle name is Grace. We pray she will be gracious and graceful in personality…so it’s doubled in her name. And surely we can never be short on receiving or extending grace.

So far, she is living up to the gracious part in how we’re still learning and figuring so many things out as new parents. She’s been a really good baby. God is gracious! PTL!

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Endearing nicknames I grew up with

Have I told you my nicknames as I grew up?
These are the best I can do in terms of literal translations:

Big Cry Baby – My Dad reminds me, more and more now, of how they didn’t go out to eat for 2-3 years because I cried so much. I was colic for the first little while. And I had a big set of lungs apparently.

Bread Head – I have corners on my head making my head a little squarish. And with my chubby baby cheeks, I looked like a square loaf of bread. So…the name stuck. Thankfully, the squarish-ness has decreased over the years.

Big Head Yan – Yan is my Chinese name. It means “Happy”…which is a little ironic considering how I was also the Big Cry Baby. Anyways. My head was big. Think of a bobble head. That was me. As my Dad would comment, I had a big head with big eyes, a big nose, big mouth, big face and big protruding ears. So endearing.

Big Lazy Yan – This nickname was given in Junior High I think. Because I was lazy. I am. Well…sometimes I’m just trying to be efficient…but I’ll totally admit to being lazy.

Big Fat Piggy – I’ve never actually been “fat”. My heaviest looking days were around age 13/14, first year university with the whole Freshman Fifteen thing and then a couple years into taking an office job where I just sit all day every day…with regular access to Tim Hortons. When I travel to hot/humid climates, I also tend to retain water…so whenever my Dad sees pictures from such vacations, he’ll comment. But, meh. I know when I’m not looking as healthy as I could be. And I mean this in the realistic sense of “healthy”…with no comparisons to what I “could” be looking if I had a personal trainer, personal chef and cosmetic procedures done.

And there you go. Yes, all nicknames were coined by my Dad. Yes it means you develop some thicker skin growing up. =) But it’s totally endearing to hear my Dad call me by these nicknames still.

Poll: What do you think happened??

(Image not mine)

I’ve been discussing various family history stories with people and are speculating about what could’ve gone down in a particular scenario. If the following facts were all you had, what story would you put together about what happened? (All the facts must be used)

  • This was during wartimes when Japan invaded China
  • Man has a Wife (W1) in China whom he was officially married to, they have one son
  • Man met another woman (W2) in HK/Kowloon before 1950
  • Man produces seven children in total, six born in HK
  • The children were born to W1 and W2 in this order: W1, W2, W2, W1, W2, W1, W2
  • At one point, a judge in HK invalidated the “marriage” between Man and W2
  • Man was not charged with bigamy nor was he granted a double marriage
  • W2 and her children later lived separately from Man, W1 and their children
And these were the marriage laws of the day:
  • Having more than one official “wife” was illegal in China…but you could have concubines…this practice of keeping concubines was banned in 1950
  • You didn’t have to register your marriage in HK until after 1950
  • Having more than one legal wife in HK wasn’t banned until 1971
  • Bigamy was illegal in China, the second “marriage” would be nullified if the first wife was still alive

Feel free to add your interpretation of the facts to the poll! I do believe there’s usually more than two sides to a story. Also, please share why you’d pick one story over the other(s) as being more plausible.

So…having kids soon?

(Image not mine)

When I got engaged, people started asking if I’m planning to start a family soon. Like wait wait wait….isn’t that putting the cart before the horse? Could they wait until I was married to start asking about kids? (And I know I know, marriage is no prerequisite to having kids these days, but still.) Anyways, we get married and again, “So, planning any kids?” I explain that considering the long distance nature of our entire courtship, we’d like some time together to build a solid foundation in marriage first. People understood this so they backed off a bit.

Then when the second year of marriage started, it was the questions again. This time I said I was recently diagnosed with Graves Disease and needed to get well first. And people definitely understood that. It’s been a year long journey to relative health.

We’re into our third year of marriage. I’m very thankful to have been off medication for seven months now…and every other phone call from my Dad involves asking if I have any “good news” for him. ha ha. I’ll let you know when I know Dad. Friends cautiously ask, “You’re off medication now right? So are you thinking more about starting a family?

Don’t get me wrong, I honestly don’t mind being asked about kids. I know people are in anticipation of celebrating this kind of life milestone and life miracle with us. (And ok, maybe some are just nosey, but I don’t care either way.) We DO plan on having them…God willing. What I’m concerned about is navigating the “what if we can’t conceive” question. Will I get extremely sensitive about it? Will I get depressed?

So, this is my strategy…to voluntarily just tell people that we’re thinking of starting a family soon. That way, if there continues to be an absence of any “news” from us or a lack of ultrasound photos posted on FB, that people might automatically start to think that maybe it’s a struggle for us. And then just have the sensitivity to not ask “So, you thinking of having kids soon?” This would save us from either 1) having to honestly and maybe painfully say we’re having difficulty or 2) having to lie about some reason as to why we’re not having kids yet…and then have it lead to “but you’re not getting younger” comments.

As for whether or not we’ve really started trying for a family yet…that’s for us to know. =)

Six Years

Six years ago. Today.

Time does ease the pain. Healing does come…though it’s more like healing after an amputation. You no longer bleed. But you’re altered forever.

It’s strange…if I ever meet someone who’ve lost a sibling, I feel a certain affinity to them. Like finding out you’re from the same home town or belong to the same club. But this is one membership no one chooses and I wish no one to have. I still wonder why it happened at all. Why us? I also still tell myself that there just might not be an answer on this side of Heaven. And on the otherside, I might not need an answer anymore because we’ll be able to see each other face to face. And see Jesus face to face. Glorious day.

I was at my parent’s place in April and wandered into his room. His wardrobe, bookcase and desk are all there. Relatively untouched. I opened the wardrobe, stuck my face in between the hanging shirts and inhaled. Nope…his scent is gone now. I think it’s time to let go of the clothes. I can still remember his laugh though. Once in a while, I hear someone’s laugh that’s slightly similar and I fight the urge to find out who this person is. Once in a while I also see someone with his physical shape…posture, tilt of head, maybe haircut, style of glasses…and I’ll just stare for a bit.

If I ever have a son, his middle name will be Nathaniel. After his uncle.

Six years. And counting. I miss you.

What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower,
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering;
In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.

– William Wordsworth