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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What's in a (kid's) name?...

How do people generally come up with names for their children? Is/are there common themes? And how often does history (family or not) play a part? I'm curious...

Are YOU interested in how we came up with the names for our two children? If so, read on...

I suspect that most people probably spend quite a bit of time selecting names for their children - even those that name their kids "Rocky Gravel" and "Ima Lima Bean" (no joke, real names!). We, too, spent quite a bit of time compiling lists of our favorite names, narrowing down the lists, playing with naming order, etc. I remember finally narrowing the list of names for our firstborn down to about six. And one delightful afternoon drive up the South Santiam River, we tried all the various combinations to judge flow and cadence and awkwardness (for all those unpleasant rhymes that kids might come up with to tease the child as it grows).

In fact, trying out the crazy rhymes is how we decided that Finn would be the first name instead of the second name. See, it went down like this - we decided that we really liked the name Emma, too, and narrowed it down to that and Finn. But Emma Finn didn't flow off the tongue very well. And we decided that Emma Finn sounded too much like "I'm a muffin". So that went the way of the recycle bin. Harmon, her first middle name, is an old family name from Cat's father's side of the family. And Finn was a name I'd liked prior to meeting Cat but she was never that hip on it. So I forgot about it until years later when, out of the blue, Cat says (with a mischievous, knowing wink), "Whadya think about 'Finn'?" And just like that, it stuck.

Both our kids have two middle names. Finn's second middle name was gifted to her by her King Island Iñupiaq family/community up in Nome, Alaska. And it went down like this: Cat had worked with the community (of which, her major professor Deanna Kingston is a member) for several years. She (and I) fell in love with them and they with her and sort of adopted her/us into their family units. And in their tradition, when an elder passes into the afterlife, their namesake (which also comes with some of their personality traits) passes to the next newborn member of their community in a long-standing name incarnation tradition. And they pass the names along to the next little ones via a brief, but moving, naming ceremony.

The last time we were up in Nome, Cat was 9 months pregnant with Finn. And all the elder ladies were pulling for her to deliver on King Island (it would have been the first delivery there in nearly half a century). But the relative security of and collective staffing in a medical facility were important to us, especially for our first born (we didn't know what the heck we were doing...). And we had planned to have both our families with us (but waiting outside) for the delivery so we scheduled our flight back to Oregon for the end of June (we'd deliver just over a week later). Knowing that we were heading back home to Corvallis for the delivery, the community decided that they would break slightly from tradition and give our child her Iñupiaq Eskimo name in utero (they usually wait until the infant is born). And so it was. They threw us a baby shower at one of Nome's tribal buildings and gave Finn her Iñupiaq name - Awaluk (the "l" is a special character with a tilda/~ through it; it's pronounced "Owashlook" with the "shl" [or "thl", depending] spoken like you have a lateral lisp; it's also sometimes spelled "Ugathluk").

Awaluk was also called Akorak, which means Big Sister in Iñupiaq. And many of Awaluk's peers referred to her as Akorak. After the naming ceremony, all the elder ladies would talk to Cathleen's belly (Awaluk) and say they couldn't wait to see her again. And spend time with their Akorak. Share their memories together again. Spend time together, again. And to this day, many of them still only talk to Finn in Iñupiat and call here Awaluk or Akorak. And she, for all intensive purposes, fully understands and interacts with them as if she fluently speaks Iñupiaq. It is really something special to see.

The previous woman to have the name was Cecilia Muktoyuk (b. 1936?, d. May 25 or 26, 2006). She was a marvelous woman and we had the pleasure of getting to know her and her strong, quiet ways. And she was a fine Eskimo dancer and a damn good bread maker, too. Funny thing is, when Finn was old enough to control her voluntary movements, she would dance and move her hands like nothing we'd ever seen before, save for watching the King Island dancers. She had hand/arm movements that were fluid and graceful. But she'd never seen that kind of dancing before, not like the herky-jerky movements you'd expect from an infant. One day, Dede (Deanna) brought over a DVD home movie with some of their community dancing on it. And Finn danced with it like she'd been doing those movements for years. She was entranced...and so were we!

The naming of our second child went down in much the same fashion as our first: go for a nice drive, narrow the name list, try all the different combinations, and see which one(s) just seem to work. Cathleen was really pulling for Jeremiah. I wasn't so sure about it. I really like my name but didn't want to have a "Junior" or give him a complex that we were trying to create another me (we weren't). We talked with several parent/children duos to get their perspectives and, without fail, they all said that it just seemed to work and none of the children felt pigeon-holed into being their parent. And so it stuck. Jeremiah's first middle name, August, is a family name from my father's mother's side that goes back at least to the 1400's. Bluejacket is Cathleen's tribal family name (Eastern Shawnee) from her mother's father's side. It, too, goes way back. The Bluejackets were the Shawnee chief-dom line for a long time. Cat's great-grandmother's last name was Bluejacket before she married an Irishman. When she did marry, the name ended with her. We're just carrying it on in Jeremiah August.

About two weeks after Jeremiah August Bluejacket was born, he, too, was gifted a King Island Iñupiaq name (which will now be his third middle name; wow!) as another tribal elder, Gabriel Muktoyuk, Sr. (b. , d. , 2009) had recently passed away. Several community members apparently agreed that they wanted to give Gabriel's Iñupiaq name(s), Aakagak and PaGiina, to little Jeremiah. And in a perhaps not all that ironic twist, Cecilia and Gabriel were brother and sister (by marriage, but still a cool coincidence). What a wonderful gift. Like Finn's, we cherish it as part of who he is.

And I have no doubt that the next time he sees his Iñupiat family, they will speak to him in Iñupiat and he, like his sister, will understand, respond and interact with them as family. It's truly an amazing sight to behold...and, in fact, Gabriel's daughter (Theresa) recently spoke with us and said that she's going to call him "dad" and he will caller her "kal" (which is what Gabriel called her).

We are truly surrounded by (and have) an amazing family...

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Jeremiah August Bluejacket is HERE!!!

Our boy is here! He surprised us yesterday by coming on his own. We were scheduled to be induced Saturday a.m. but started having contractions at 4:30 a.m. Friday. They stayed every 45 minutes to 1 hour all day. We even had a chance to go garage sale-ing and have breakfast out. By 1pm they ramped up and were a bit more intense. By 2pm we called Jeremiah's sister Rebekah, Auntie Doula, to come down because baby was on his way. By the time she made it to our house, the contractions were 30 minutes apart. We visited for a bit and within 1 hour, the contractions were coming every 10 minutes. We called the hospital at 7pm to say we were coming in and that the contractions were coming every 5 1/2 to 6 minutes. By the time we got the hospital ~20 minutes later, the contractions were about 3 minutes apart. By the time we got up to our room about 5 minutes later, they were coming every 2 minutes (and stayed that way until delivery). By the time the doctor made it over about an hour later, Cat said she felt like she wanted to push...so we did and a little bit later, out he came!

And so at 10:10pm last night (August 21st), we delivered Jeremiah August Bluejacket Osborne-Gowey. Papa (Goo, Jeremiah), under the watchful eye of our doctor and the nursing staff, helped deliver him, give him to his mummy, cut the cord (and inspect it), deliver the placenta and inspect it, and bathe/weight/measure the little one. He had a full head of thick, black hair, a single cowlick at the top of his crown, and long fingernails. He weighed in at 8 pounds, 14 ounces (nearly 9 pounds!). His head was 14 1/2 inches around and he was 22 inches long. He seems so delicate and small and yet he was nearly twice as big as Finn when she was born. And let me tell you - when you cook in a water-warm oven for 2+ weeks longer than normal, you come out looking like a wrinkled prune. He was so wrinkly it was comical...especially his feet and hands. Looked like he'd been left in a bathtub for too many days. Too cute!

Papa was again amazed at how tough Cat is (women, in general, really). At one point while in the middle of a particularly large contraction, Cat smiled and winked at the doc and said, I'm not done pushing (with Finn, she was making jokes with the nursing staff during contractions)! Mummy (Cat, Cathleen) was amazed that a nearly 9 pound baby felt no different to deliver than a 5+ pound baby. Auntie Doula was again amazed at how strong and in control Mummy was. The doc was amazed at how well Cat dealt with huge contractions. The nursing staff was amazed at how big a head and heavy he was based on Mummy's laboring (she has such a high pain tolerance that you wouldn't have guessed his size based on her visible pain level). And Finn was amazed that this little creature was finally here and no longer in Mummy's tummy (she was immediately enamored with him). Suffice it to say, the whole thing was a simply amazing event! We fell blessed. And thank you to all those that have been keeping us in your thoughts/prayers over these last several weeks. We so appreciate it (and have felt the good vibes coming our way).

Until we chat again,
Goo, Cat, Finn, and Jeremiah (The Osborne-Gowey Clan)

Sunday, August 16, 2009

No Baby Yet...but We're Having Fun

Well we don't have a baby yet but we are hoping it will be soon. Yesterday I mowed the lawn, swept the back, front, and side patio, swept the house and then moped. After that we went to the farmers market, had friends over for lemonade and supper, and then went to the end of the year softball party down in Halsey. We didn't get home until after 11pm. Today we got up and had a relaxing breakfast while reading the paper and then did yard work. Now it's time to relax and enjoy the afternoon...I see reading and naps in our future. Jeremiah's going to make homemade pesto so we can have pesto in the freezer for the rest of the summer and fall.

What a beautiful day today is, spending the day with my family is the best present I could ever ask for. Now just to go into labor and then our son can join us. Soon...soon as Finn says.

Monday, August 3, 2009