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Calvin the Choo Choo









What do these words have in common?  They’re particularly interesting to my son, and he’s added them to his vocabulary in the past few days.

I’m interested to learn what he’ll add next.

Also, if he’s asked a yes or no question (unless it pertains to whether or not he’d like some sort of food), his answer is always “No” with a shake of his head for added emphasis.

He’s particularly fond of communicating in sign language in conjunction with verbal communication.  Yet, I think it’s funny that he’ll speak in sign when no one else is around to see or “listen”

Same concept when he’s asked a question.

“Calvin, how old are you?”

Delayed response.  He turns and walks away with his back to everyone.  Slowly, he holds up his index finger.

We’re still working with him to say his name.  When asked his name, he just points to himself.

I was told that young children sometimes have a different name that they call themselves than their given names.  I asked Calvin what he calls himself.

For some reason, he always answers that question with “Choo choo.”

–By Dr. Dolly
Twitter me: drdolly

It’s a HE-Necki!

Calvin Kai Garnecki was born on Tuesday, October 30th at 5:06 AM.  He weighed in at 8 lbs. 8 oz. and measured 22 inches.  His head circumference was 14cm.  This healthy boy got triple 10s on the APGAR!

He’s adapted to nursing extremely well, although I’m still getting used to the initial soreness.  He’s very calm and content.  The only times he’s fussy is when he’s getting his diaper changed and from midnight to 3AM which is just his active period when nothing in the world can console him.  The rest of the day and night, he’s sleeping or nursing like a champ.

I’ll post pictures soon.  And, I’ll also figure out who came the closest to guessing baby’s birthday and statistics.  Everyone was WAY off on the name, but hey, thanks for playing!

Chinese Cultural and Childbirth

I learned about some cool Chinese traditions surrounding a new baby’s birth when I was a kid.  Growing up, my mom would often tell me things to never do immediately after having a baby since it was bad for your health: don’t work or cook or do anything laborious for 1 month, don’t take a shower, don’t get cold, don’t wash your hair because it will cause arthritis in old age.  I never really knew where she picked up that kind of information, so I decided to dig more into Chinese culture surrounding childbirth here, here, here, and here.

Many of the influences on cultural beliefs stem from Chinese Buddhist and Taoist religious beliefs that utilize spiritual rites to offer protection from evil spirits.  For 1 month post partum, the mother and baby are supposed to remain home-bound to prevent against death and disease.   However, worldwide for centuries, the most delicate time in a child’s life is that first month post-partum when immune defenses are low.

In the Chinese beliefs of yin and yang, it is believed that pregnancy is a “hot” period, therefore hot foods should be avoided and expectant moms should consume cold foods.  I have no idea what foods are in which category, because they’re not referring to temperature.  But, I imagine spicy foods are considered hot, and they definitely do flare up the heartburn and nausea!

On the contrary, post-partum is considered a “cold” period, so “hot” foods should be devoured and cold foods avoided.  It makes nutritional sense to me that Chinese women often consume foods high in protein to replenish blood loss during birth.  They also drink hot ginger tea and eat several other concoctions that sound utterly horrendous to me (pickled pigs feet with wine and other things, blech!).

I don’t think it’s a bad thing for the mom to take a month off to bond with the baby, relax, and recuperate.  I welcome the fact that post-partum, I’ll be able to stay at home and rejuvenate for a month until the holiday season kicks in.  Not taking a shower during that 1 month period, well, I’m not too sure about that one.  Not washing your hair for 1 month, now that’s just utterly gross to me, although I don’t think it’s necessary, especially in colder months, to wash your hair every day.  It makes sense to avoid taking a shower immediately after delivery in that a new mom is probably fatigued, somewhat hypoglycemic, and possibly unstable on her legs and could possibly pass out, which could be a hazard while standing in a slippery shower.  Taking a bath makes sense to help flush out any birth remnants, but Chinese culture advises against taking a bath when a woman is menstruating, so I don’t understand how that’s different than post-partum.

One of the particularly interesting Chinese traditions surrounding a newborn baby is the 1-month birthday celebration.  After the mom and baby have had a chance to bond and get into a routine for a month, the baby is officially presented to extended family and friends at a party.  Typically, the baby’s name isn’t announced until the party.  In fact, the baby’s name isn’t determined until the baby is born since there’s an entire elaborate process surrounding that regarding gender, name meaning, name sound, number of brush strokes to write the name in characters, and whether the name is representative of water, fire, earth, or air.

Okay, back to party-talk.  So, like most anything related to Chinese tradition, the party is typically themed in red to promote happiness and prosperity.  Baby’s birth is announced by sending out eggs dyed red: an odd number of eggs means girl and an even number, boy.  Guests typically present the baby with red envelopes filled with money (the same type of thing that elders give to kids at Chinese lunar new year celebration).  Grandparents give the baby jewelry (bracelets, anklets, necklaces, etc.) to “tie the baby to this world”.  The baby is adorned in red, often times that includes an ornately designed silk coat and hat.

In exchange, guests receive dyed red eggs, pickled ginger, and mini red and yellow cakes for happiness and prosperity.

Since Steve’s family’s church wants to throw a baby shower after the baby’s birth, I thought it would be fun to throw in a few elements of Chinese tradition with a red theme and a couple of the traditional party favors.

Popculture naming trends


Steve and I finally got a baby name book. He liked this one in particular the first time he got to peruse it at a maternity clothing store. What I like about this book that makes it unique from other naming books is that it doesn’t solely list name origin and meaning, in fact, it doesn’t have meaning on every single name. The author researched name trends for this book in a method that reminds me of the Freakonomics authors.


Wattenberg looked at birth names to alumni of ivy league colleges, name histories and trends from foreign countries as well as the U.S. lists from registered birth names for social security. Once she created a super huge database of names and dates, she created a software program that comes up with name matches. I’m still reading the book to understand how the name matcher works, but for every name, it has complimentary names for boys and girls–consideration for name alternatives that may be appealing, names for siblings of your child, sometimes names of spouses appear as complements to the primary name. Whatever the case, this author did some serious compilation to create a pretty cool book.


Her claim is that parents try to pick unique and original names, but for their particular education level, social status, community, etc., they’ll end up with the same baby name as 10 other people on the block because people’s ideas of fashion and trends among names have had the same influence as their friends and neighbors.


Wattenberg describes more of those influences, and each name has a graph analysis of the name’s peak popularity and decade, or whether it’s climbing on the popularity scale.

We’re no where closer at deciding on names for our baby, but at least we’re armed with an intriguing book. You can also check out the baby name wizard name voyager online. Type in a name, any name, and look at it’s popularity and frequency of occurrence. Wattenberg’s Name News blog is also fun reading.

Naming Baby Garnecki

Naming isn’t exactly an easy thing to do. Sure, I had my favorite boy and girl names before I was married. Then again, Steve had pre-selected his names of choice. Seldom do our lists agree. We do think that name meaning is just as important as how a name sounds, so that will be a strong determining factor. We also like names from Greek or Hebrew background, but we’d also like a name that can easily be translated into Mandarin.  It’s a tall order to combine all of those options into 1 little name.

Even if there were a couple of first names that we could agree upon, there’s the whole middle name plus meaning that totally throws a wrench in the works. Most of the middle names Steve likes are Hebrew and I can’t even pronounce most of them.  How do we expect our baby’s future friends and teachers to pronounce them. That’ll be a name butchering fest to be certain!

We’ll look more seriously at name options this summer, once Steve no longer has the threat of grad school breathing down his neck. In the meantime, I’d like to know what names (plus meanings) y’all suggest. What are your favorite boy/girl names ? What name would sound good with Garnecki?

You can check out name etymology here. You can also take a quiz about baby names here. The Freakonomics authors blog about aspirational baby names as well as amazing names.