His First Word is “Banana”

At least, that’s what his mom and dad claim. I have yet to hear this mythical first word despite my constant coaxing. He is now fluent in the ‘Mama’ and ‘Dada’ department, and babbles ‘banana’ on Tuesdays when Mama works at the birth center and Dada takes him to a nearby Trader Joes for a weekly banana treat. Some of his outbursts are also uncanny for ‘Yeah!’

Kai is now a little over 9 months, and I look at this little dude and think of how much he’s grown. He is both spirited and inquisitive and flips sides at the drop of a pin. In the grocery store, he’ll be all smiles and wave like crazy to everyone around him and then pause all emotion to examine the face of a particular person. He often folds his hand into a loose fist, with his pointer finger stuck out and posed on the corner of his mouth making that “hmm” pose. It’s the cutest thing.

Every month Kai grows and reaches new milestones is also a bittersweet moment of reflection for my brother, who still suffers from a concussion due to an auto accident that happened exactly one month before my nephew was born. I think of how hard it must be to mark his son’s new advancements and his limitations on the same day each month. It gets hard to answer those around me who are praying for my brother with the exact news months later: “There are slight improvements but he’s about the same.”

Kai adores his daddy. They spend almost every waking minute of their day together. It’s definitely harder for my brother to try to get all his mental exercises done and have time to rest with a baby on his hands, but at the same time, despite the constant migraine, he’s also blessed with being at home and bonding with his son during Kai’s first year of life. I think of the what-if: if he didn’t have the accident he would be working full time or be in grad school and working part time. My SIL has worked really hard to keep them afloat with her midwifery while being a good mom and wife. She’s really shown me how resilient she is. I’m hoping and praying that in the next few months, Kai and Daddy can both work on big milestones together – Kai in development and N in healing. Secretly, I’m hoping for a birthday miracle in September.

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His Name is Kai

I received a very happy call yesterday from my brother with the announcement of his son’s name! They have decided to name him Kai. He explained that picking a global name with many origins in different cultures was perfect as Kai has a rich and mixed heritage of Asian, European, and some Native American descent. Kai means ocean or sea. Coupled with his middle name [which means help], his namesake is “an ocean of God’s help.”

I didn’t put this together before, but he also told me that Kai was born exactly one month after the bad car accident, one that is still causing him trouble from his brain injury. He said in that period of time he really saw God’s help and help from others as they prepared for the little guy’s birth. I later told him that phonetically, it sounded very similar to the Khmer word for “month” which is also a beautiful testament to how something beautiful can happen despite hard circumstances with time and patience.

People thought N+R were so strange to go the “traditional route” and wait to find out the sex of the baby at birth. They were further flummoxed by the fact they hadn’t picked a name on his birth date. It’s interesting to think that the first thing we possess isn’t material and is given by others; that’s quite humbling. A name carries so much meaning, whether it is after a friend, relative, or icon or was picked for the meaning or because it felt meant to be.

Something else that is quite sentimental to me is that since N+R are currently renting the old family home, baby Kai’s room was my old nursery. And so another generation of our family plants their roots in that home. ❤

I Have a Nephew!

First time official auntie here! My brother and sister-in-law welcomed their little boy into the world yesterday afternoon and the family couldn’t be happier.

It’s funny because while we aren’t superstitious people, we had so many fun coincidences to add to the birth story!

First of all, the great majority of people close to us felt the baby was a boy even though the Mom and Dad wanted a surprise and never found out. People just had their heart set on it. I think I secretly wished more for a niece only because I think older sisters are awesome *ahem I know from experience* ;). My dad said the most heart-pulling thing to me and I was more open to a boy after that. He never got to meet his grandfathers, and my brother and I never got to meet ours, so my dad is the first in a few generations to experience grandchildren in their lifetime. If that didn’t make your heart melt, he also said he wished to see a boy carry on the family name before the Lord takes him home one day. When he puts it that way, how can you not melt? My SIL’s mom also said a couple weeks ago she had a dream where she had a grandson with her and was introducing him to her friends.

Second of all, I had this weird feeling my SIL would go into labor either Saturday or Wednesday. I was telling everyone this random fact, and I felt this restlessness all Saturday hoping for N to call. For lunch on Saturday, my mom went to a Chinese restaurant and her fortune said, “Someone will call with good news for you today.” Late that evening, my brother called and told my mom that his wife was indeed in labor.

R had a very long labor but delivered naturally in a birthing tub in the comfort of their home. What a trooper! And my brother, who is still dealing with brain injury from the car accident pulled through to be at her side. He said Saturday night was extremely difficult — he was tired and suffering horrible migraines from straining himself but he powered through.

And to testify to God’s goodness, the baby weighed a little over 7 pounds, which is the maximum threshold of my brother’s allowance to lifting and carrying right now as he recovers, so God planned out this detail so he could hold his boy. N says that walking while carrying him requires a lot of concentration and is very difficult, but regardless, he was thankful for this blessing.

Life is good. ❤