Rafaan and I like unique names. We also feel strongly that a name should have a positive meaning.
Asher is a Hebrew name meaning “happy, blessed, fortunate” and since we met and got married in Haifa, Israel we felt that this was only fitting. Ash, we also felt was a nod to his Persian heritage and Asher also has Arabic roots, meaning “wise or knowledgeable.” Furthermore Ash is a type of tree, and when I was pregnant with Asher I said a prayer for marriage every day that has a line in it that states: “…that there may branch out from this great tree boughs that will grow green and flourishing through the gifts that rain down from Thy clouds of grace.” So Asher just felt right to us. It was the first name we thought about and really was the only name we ever seriously considered. At the time it wasn’t common, but apparently, everyone else had the same idea and it’s now a fairly trendy name, much to my displeasure.
Nathan is my paternal grandfather’s name. I was very close with him and love him dearly. He passed away nearly 9 years ago, but I still feel strongly that he played a part in bringing Raf and I together. He was a wonderful human being and made everyone he encountered feel special. Nathan, also happens to be a Hebrew name, meaning “God’s gracious gift.”
Bennett is latin from the root Benedictus, meaning “blessed.” We first came across this name years ago, when our friend Kent mentioned that he liked the idea of naming a girl Bennet, after Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice (our Bennett is not in fact named after that Bennet). When I was pregnant with Bennett, but before we knew we were having a girl, Kent was over one night, which I think reminded Rafaan of the name, and he stated that he liked the name Bennett for a girl. I agreed and we liked it even better once we found out what it meant. When we found out we were having a girl, we never even considered anything else (although it did take a while to decide on how we were going to spell it). Bennett just felt right. We both like non-traditional names for girls and names that may more commonly be used for boys. Bennett may be slightly trendy as a boy name, but we’re confident that it’s fairly unique as a girl’s name. In addition studies have shown that women with sexually ambiguous names tend to be more successful than their effeminately named female counterparts in typically male dominated fields. This and this are interesting reads. This certainly didn’t influence our name choice, but instead just affirmed it. However, I certainly hope that by the time Bennett is old enough to get a job her name won’t matter.
Rose is latin meaning “rose, a flower” and since Bennett is a somewhat long and masculine name, I wanted a short and feminine middle name. I really liked how Bennett Rose sounded, but I didn’t want her middle name to be arbitrary, rather I wanted it to hold significance or be after someone we loved. We tested out a few other middle names, but none felt right and then I was saying a prayer for children and realized that the rose in fact is mentioned in many Bahá’í prayers and Writings. Furthermore, the Bahá’í Shrines are scented with rose water and the gardens at the Bahá’í World Centre (where Raf and I first met) are filled with roses. So, we liked that the name Rose was a nod to where we met as well as the fact that it holds special significance in Bahá’í texts. We also liked how it’s a fairly old, traditional name and felt that it brought balance to the more recent, trendy name of Bennett.
Reese is English/Welsh and means, “ardent/ardor, passionate, enthusiastic, fiery.” We first considered this name when we were expecting Asher. We had a list of backup names that we would use if he was born and we felt that Asher just didn’t suit him. Reese was one of those names. We obviously didn’t end up using it. But of all the names on that list, it was the only one that I continued to like over the years. When I got pregnant with Reese I decided that I really wanted to wait to find out the sex of the baby. With this in mind, Raf and I decided we would pick one gender neutral name that we could use for either a boy or a girl and then we would pick two middle names to go with it. In keeping true to form with our naming history Reese was the first name I suggested and it just felt right. We did toy with one or two other names, but we kept coming back to Reese. Raf was convinced that we were having another girl and really wanted to find out the sex to prove that he was right. He finally wore me down and we were overjoyed to find out we were having another girl!
Marie is the French and Czech form of Maria, which in turn is a form of Mary which is derived from the Hebrew Miryam and means “wished for child.” When I was in labour with Reese, Raf suggested we give her the middle name Marie. Up until that point, we had been going back and forth between Olive, Olivia and Jasmine as middle name options. But none of them felt quite right. We like Marie, because just like with Bennett Rose, we feel that it brings a nice balance to her name. We gave her the middle name of Marie as a mash-up of sorts between the names of several notable women. First, Virginia Maria (pronounced Mariah) Breaks, who was the Knight of Baha’u’llah for the Western Caroline Islands. When I was a little girl, she lived with us at the end of her life and I came to love her deeply. She was an amazing woman and really like a third grandmother to me. Next is my maternal grandmother, Mary Evelyn Hardy. With Asher named after my paternal grandfather, we felt that it would be nice to honor my mom’s side of the family. Grandma Mary is a remarkable woman. I’m named after her, with my own middle name being Mary and we felt that it was a nice way to pay tribute to my Mom by naming our daughter after her mother. Lastly, she is also named after Queen Marie of Romania, who was the first Royal to recognize Baha’u’llah. Reese is quite the lucky little girl to be named after such incredible women.
Anvari is Iranian and means “something that has been set alight.”
Born: December 10, 2016 at 5:19pm. This little girl has brought a whole new element of sweetness and joy to our family. Asher and Bennett are totally smitten with her. Asher is constantly remarking about how cute she is and he keeps seeking reassurance that we are in fact going to keep her. Bennett is always showering her in the tiniest little kisses and stroking her head and softly shushing her whenever she becomes unsettled. They both rush to her side and try to soothe her every time she cries. I think she is about the luckiest little girl around to have such loving and doting siblings. Birth story to come.
So admittedly I’ve been
pretty completely m.i.a for the past 8 months. This space has been utterly and completely neglected. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to sit down and write but I’ve just been so overwhelmed with all the changes happening in our lives that I haven’t had the mental head space to do so.
What’s been going on you ask? Just about every major thing you can think of, well not really, but you get where I’m going.
First let me fill you in on a little of what we’ve been up to. This past July the four of us jetted off to Florence, Italy to celebrate the union of my sweet cousin Siria and her Scottish groom Ashkan. Raf and I spent part of our Honeymoon in Florence and seeing as how that was in the middle of winter, it was so nice to go back and experience the stunning city in balmy weather.
Siria and Ashkan’s wedding was something out of a fairytale. It was held in the stunning Tuscan villa, with the ceremony overlooking the rolling hills and cypress trees, while the reception was held in the garden lined with olive and lemon trees. It was unreal. The best part was being able to be there with so many members of my extended family. Here are the kids with their Great Grandma Carol.
Raf has been itching to leave his government job for a while now, and after applying to a few places he got hired as the Lead Data Scientist at a really cool start up that allows him to work remotely. So we started asking ourselves “if we can go anywhere do we really want to stay in the D.C. area?” Basically, the answer was a resounding “no.” Right around the time that this was happening my parent’s decided to leave China and move to Maine, where they had built a house. At the same time, my dad started a foundation call SolHEALTH devoted to promoting health and preventing disease, one population at a time and he asked me to come work for him. Now since we had only owned our house for a year and a half we knew that selling it would be tough, especially since we didn’t want to lose any money. So we decided to test the market and basically over-priced it, cleaned it up and went to stay with my parents for a few weeks. Well to make a long story short, the house sold. We played hard ball and it still sold. Ten days before closing we started packing. We found a place to rent in Maine and drove north. Here’s a picture of us in front of our first home in Virginia, right before we got in the car and left for good.
Those were just a few of the thoughts that went through our heads right after the move. It was kinda surreal how it all happened so fast. Raf and I didn’t really have time to catch our breath. But with the thought that being near family would be good for us, the slower pace of life in southern Maine was exactly what we needed, and that being closer also allowed me to work for SolHEALTH more easily, we powered on. We got to Maine at the end of August and although I was concerned about finding Asher a preschool that was still accepting students, it was actually pretty easy.
Here he is on his first day of Preschool!
Raf and I began looking for houses and in under 2 weeks we had put an offer on a house which was then accepted and on Halloween day we moved in. Needless to say, I had to break from my tradition of DIY Halloween costumes although I was dying to dress them as characters from Stranger Things. Asher really wanted to be an Astronaut and with everything going on I honestly welcomed the ease of ready-made costumes.
The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of unpacking and settling in. Raf has been painting every weekend and I’ve been nesting like crazy, because oh yea, I forgot to mention…baby number 3 is due December 3rd!! We’re having another girl and we couldn’t be more thrilled albeit stressed and exhausted from everything else going on.
Raf has really been so amazing during this whole time. Not only is he adjusting to a whole new normal in his career and day to day life but he also has a pregnant
emotional wife and two small children who’s lives all just got uprooted as well. It’s been an incredibly stressful time for all of us but being near my parents has made it all worth it.
Life in Maine thus far has been interesting. We’re adjusting to the cold and slowly making friends. The pace of life here is much slower than we’re used to, which is both a blessing and an adjustment. The other day Raf looked out our window and saw some people walking their goats down our street. Yes, you read that correctly. Goats. It’s pretty awesome. Wild turkeys roam free and I’ve nearly (not really) hit a deer in the middle of the road on two separate occasions. It is stunningly beautiful and the people are super friendly if not a bit reserved at first. We are nervous about the fact that spring doesn’t come up here until MAY, but we are looking forward to living in a place where snow doesn’t shut down EVERYTHING.
So there you have it. In a couple weeks things will only get even crazier with the arrival of our newest little one, but hey at least that’ll give me a lot more blog material! Bright side, right? AND can I just say that I am SO looking forward to having another sweet little baby to snuggle! I’m already sad about how fast my time with her as a baby will go by and she isn’t even here yet. Seriously, the baby period is so fleeting and being firmly settled in the knowledge of the fact is both a blessing and a curse of being an experienced parent.
As I lay in bed with a baby nestled against me, cheek pressed to my chest,
I write poems in my head, that will never be read.
While rocking a baby in the quiet dark of night, who refuses to be lulled into slumber,
I write poems in my head, that will never be read.
In the moments I take to savor the sweet ache in my muscles, from holding a baby for hours on end,
I write poems in my head, that will never be read.
Of love and joy and pain and light. The trials and triumphs of motherhood.
I write poems in my head, that will never be read,
for this one.
This past year has been one of a lot of changes for Asher. We moved into a house, he became a big brother, he became potty trained, and he developed an extensive vocabulary. He is loving, active, strong willed, friendly, shy, gentle, artistic, joyous, volatile, sweet, stubborn, smart, affectionate, capable, persistent, curious and outgoing. He is so much, and he becomes more and more the person that he is every day. I love being able to experience all the chaos and joy that is being his mother.
For his birthday we had some of his little friends over and basically just let them run around. Everyone got along surprisingly well.
The weather was unseasonably warm for these parts so we were able to take the party out doors, which was so fun! I made a carrot cake and Raf broke out the bubble wand. Bennett even had her own little cohort of tinies, that was exceptionally adorable.
Raf bought a GoPro camera for our trip to Yap and he finally finished editing and uploading the footage (totally making up for our lack of good quality pictures). I LOVE how it turned out! I can’t help but grin while watching it and I’m always sad when it comes to the end because I just keep wanting more. It was a learning process so there are definitely some things we will do differently in the future, but overall we’re pretty happy with it and are even thinking about making yearly family videos.
Enjoy this glimpse into the silly crazy goofiness that is our family!
Rafaan and I love a good DIY costume. In fact we’ve never done anything else. This year these lucky kids got to wear two different costumes. I originally asked Raf’s mom if she wouldn’t mind making their costumes this year but then after she agreed and had nearly completed them Raf decided he really wanted to make them Doc Brown and Marty McFly costumes. So we put together these Back to the Future costumes and totally geeked out while doing it. I made Bennett’s wig using a feather boa, hot glue and her new born hospital hat. I then made her lab coat out of a white t-shirt, hot glue and fabric markers. Raf made Asher’s hover board using a template that he found online and printed out, poster board, foam, construction paper and felt. They were a huge hit!
The costumes that Mamani made them were these adorable firefighter and dalmatian costumes. They wore them to their preschool co-op halloween parade and it was pretty gosh darn cute. Unlike the ones we made, these costumes are so well made that I’m sure the kids will get a lot of use out of them playing dress up. YAY!
Here’s a look at Asher’s halloween 2014 jedi knight costume that we threw together the day of Halloween. He was so little!
When Asher was born I was surprised to see that he had grey eyes, nonetheless I fully expected them to turn brown but…they didn’t! My sweet first born has dark hazel eyes and I’m constantly trying to capture them in a photograph that does them justice. At first glance you think his eyes are brown, but upon closer inspection you can make out the olive green and honey tones. They’re beautiful and I’m always driving him nuts by urging him to look towards some light source so I can make out all the different colors and tones. This picture doesn’t even do them real justice but it’s the closest I’ve come thus far.
Genetics is just so cool and eye color even more so!