The Why Behind Sy

May 29, 2022

When I was pregnant with Aaron, we settled on his name pretty quickly. "Aaron" is Mike's middle name, plus I've always loved the name myself  (there's just something about those double A's. . . ).

When it came to Aaron's middle name, I debated whether I wanted to use my first choice, David, or not. I can actually remember saying these words: "It's one of my favorite names, but what if this is my only son, and I never get the chance to use it again?"

Ha, haha, hahahahahahahahahaha.

If only my 23-year-old self had known I would have six chances to use that name. But I didn't, and so Aaron got it (and I don't mind that he did). 

Naming each of our boys has been a sacred, but also sometimes frustrating, experience. It feels like such an important task to choose a name that each one will, most likely, be known by for the rest of his life. 

Some names have come really easily (Maxwell), and others have been an intense struggle (Ian). I love classic names, but I hesitate to use anything too popular since we have a very common last name. I like to see the baby before finalizing his name, but I don't want to rely only on what he looks like (since all of our babies look the same). I want to have a pretty good idea of his name before he is born but still be open to being flexible if something else feels right.

With that background, we were very serious about the naming of Silas. We knew it was going to be difficult. Not only had we already used ten names ourselves, but there were also twenty-six boy cousins whose names we were trying to avoid.

I knew right away that I wanted his middle name to be Joseph. We had almost used this as a middle name for Clark (but then he was born on Mike's grandpa's birthday, so we used his grandpa's middle name, Elson, instead). In The Book of Mormon, the prophet, Lehi, had six sons, and Joseph was the sixth one (1 Nephi 18:7). Since this was our sixth boy, Joseph seemed like a perfect fit.

As for his first name, we welcomed suggestions from all of our kids. This was the most they have ever been involved in the naming of a new sibling, and their ideas were abundant. Some were rejected quickly, but others made it onto the "short" list.

After several months of gathering, we narrowed down the list to an even 32. 

Would you like to see all of the contenders?

Anders, Miles, Lincoln, Forrest, Anthony, Abel, Wesley, Royal, Felix, Leif, Emil, Linus, Sirius, Pierce, Perry, Sterling, Wilder, Oliver, Mitchell, Graham, Amos, Neville, Saul, Colin, Sean, Kaladin, Cyrus, Alec, Carson, Silas, Shepherd, Foster

You might be able to tell that literature was a definite source of inspiration for us. Of note, we had Royal (Farmer Boy), Sirius and Neville (Harry Potter), and Kaladin (The Stormlight Archive). (Actually, Aaron was the only one who wanted Kaladin, but he fought hard for it.)

Mike put all of the names into a bracket. Each person filled out their own, which resulted in a variety of winners. From there, we took the top sixteen names and filled out one bracket as a family. As each pair of names came up, we all shared our pros and cons; we tried out each name with both the middle and last name; we said it next to the other boys' names to see how it fit. (It might be interesting to note that in this contest, "Silas" lost to "Leif" but then reemerged in the loser's bracket to ultimately take the whole thing.) 

Not only was this exercise fun for our whole family, but it made each person feel like they had a voice in the naming of this baby (although Mike and I were quick to remind them that, at the end of the day, we still got the final say). More and more, we were gravitating towards the name "Silas." It had a literature connection (Silas Marner), a biblical connection (Silas was the mission companion of the Apostle Paul), and a family connection (Mike's dad's name is Paul, so then we'd have our own Paul and Silas duo). 

But as I mulled over the top eight names, I kept wishing we could somehow name the baby after Mike's sister, Alisa. Alisa passed away from cancer seven years ago. Her birthday was in January, which was the same month the baby was due. But unlike Harriet to Harold or Erin to Aaron or even Taylor to Taylor, there wasn't an easy way to turn Alisa into something resembling a boy name. 

We had plenty of "A" names on our list, so I thought we could just keep the first initial the same, but that didn't feel like enough of a connection. Plus, we already had two "A" names in our family, and we were hoping for a name with a unique initial.

And then one day, I suddenly thought of a correlation that I loved. Maybe you have already spotted it since you know what we ended up naming him: "Silas" uses the same letters as "Alisa" but with double S's instead of double A's.

Silas // Alisa

Alisa // Silas

Alisa and baby Clark in 2014; she would have loved holding Silas, I just know it.

I thought of Alisa heavenside preparing Silas to come to earth. I don't know if that actually happens, but it feels like a real possibility, and the image of the two of them together is so sweet and tender. I hope that's what happened. I would love to know that Alisa instilled some of her wisdom in Silas before he entered mortality. 

The name suits him. He is our Big Sy/Spud/Sy Guy. 

But first and forever, he is Silas Joseph. 

A Little of This and That in April

May 15, 2022

If I had to choose, I'd probably pick April as my favorite month. The bursting buds and lengthening light just really do it for me, and nothing can beat the smell of a freshly cut lawn for the first time of the year. Watching the neighborhood unfold and wake up is just the best. This April brought with it quite a few storms and cold temperatures, but we will always take more precipitation, so I'm not complaining. Over the years, it has become a busier month for us as we've added more things to celebrate, but these things have only made it more of my favorite. This month found us . . . 

Heading . . . on a trip to San Diego. We decided to spend spring break in San Diego. This was our first big trip since Aaron's transplant last year. It brought up a lot of anxiety for me since his bone marrow crashed both the first and the second time immediately following vacations. It's hard not to think that one somehow caused the other, even though there's no evidence of this. But we really had such a nice time, and I'm glad we (I) pushed through our fears and did it. More details below:

Meeting . . . Calvin. We split up the San Diego drive into two days, and because of that, we had time to stop along the way to meet my new baby nephew, Calvin. Even though Silas and Calvin are a mere five weeks apart, they seem to be hugging opposite ends of the growth charts, and so Silas is already towering over his little cousin. It was so fun to see my brother, Steve, as a brand-new dad. He's quite smitten with his little guy. (And of course Clark, the baby whisperer, had to get in a few snuggles.)

Traveling . . . with Gordy and fam. My brother and his family came with us to San Diego. We've done two other trips with them (the redwoods and Lake Tahoe), and it's just the best. We rented a three-story house on Mission Beach with plenty of space for everyone. In the mornings, Mike and Gordy took all of the big boys down to the beach for a game of football or frisbee, and this was definitely a highlight for them. Even though we did a bunch of activities, my kids would have been perfectly happy just playing together at the house the entire time. They get along so well. The couples were also each able to have our own date night, and that was maybe my favorite part of the trip.  And, as has become tradition with my brother, he orchestrated a music video with both of our families that documented the entire trip. It's a pretty fun one this time around, if you want to check it out here

Visiting . . . Sea World. I was actually pushing for the zoo because we had already been to Sea World when we went to San Diego six years ago. However, Mike loved Sea World the first time, and most of the kids didn't remember anything about it, so he really wanted to go again. My brother felt the same, so I was outvoted. And in the end, I'm glad I was because we had such a fun time. We decided to get a two-day pass since both of our families have babies and we didn't want to feel pressured to stay the entire day if we got too tired. On the first day, we concentrated on seeing all of the shows. The kids all sat in the splash zone of the dolphin show and got completely soaked. On the second day, we concentrated on the rides (and Gordy's family decided not to even come since they don't like rides). Bradley was desperate to get on the Emperor (a brand new dive coaster that literally made me feel sick to watch). Mike, Aaron, and Bradley ended up waiting in line for it twice because it was so fun. On both of the days, Ian was more interested in the gift shops than the animals or the rides, so you can't win them all, but the rest of us had a great time. 

Going . . . to Legoland. Another repeat from our first San Diego trip. Back then, Bradley, Max, and Aaron were the perfect ages for it, and now Ian and Clark were. The big kids all love Lego enough though not to mind that most of the rides and activities were geared for a younger crowd. Also, we coordinated our plans to match up with our neighbors who have kids the same age, so we let the big kids all go off on their own, and they had a great time. Ian, as usual, was more interested in the stuff he was seeing than in the rides, and he became obsessed with a stuffed Pikachu that kept showing up in all of the carnival-type games we walked by. Usually these games are a firm no from me because they're a waste of money and we don't need more stuff. However, Mike can sometimes be easily persuaded. He gathered up all of the kids and let them all take turns popping balloons until they'd popped enough to win Ian his Pikachu. And I have to admit, in spite of my unenthusiasm, that toy became his little companion for the rest of the trip. Silas even got to go on a couple of rides, and we ended up eking every last minute out of the day.

Celebrating . . . the big 4-0! Mike turned forty this month! I really wanted to do something special and unexpected for his birthday, but all of my ideas seemed kind of lame or impossible. Finally though, as I was mulling it over yet again, I landed upon the perfect plan: I wondered if family and friends would be willing to send him their favorite snack or treat. I broached the idea on Facebook, but the initial response was pretty minimal, and I knew if I only got four or five things, it was just going to be dumb instead of amazing. But I know from being on the other side of something like this that sometimes I just need a couple of reminders. So I was persistent with emailing and posting about it, and pretty soon the contributions started to snowball. There were a couple of close calls when Mike was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and I was sure that he was suspicious, but it turns out that I'm a better liar than I thought. He came into the dining room on the morning of his birthday to find a table that was piled high with treats and snacks from loved ones from all over the country. He was so surprised, and he was visibly touched as he read through all the notes that accompanied the treats. It was so fun to pull off a real surprise, and I was just so grateful to everyone that made the effort to send him something. 

Making . . . myself go back to the Utah Symphony. After my (mostly-in-my-head) traumatic experience last month, I was not feeling very enthusiastic about attending the concert this month. However, since I had already missed three of the concerts for the season, I decided I better just go. And it's amazing what having a beautiful spring evening instead of a cold, snowy one will do for your mindset. My sister and I had a wonderful time (even though Arlene Sierra's Bird Symphony was a little too abstract for me). 

Receiving . . . a new calling. I was asked to serve as the primary president in my ward, which was both unexpected and anxiety-inducing. I love being with the kids, and I really love the women I get to serve with, but I miss being in a position where people tell me what to do instead of the other way around. 

Organizing . . . a neighborhood Easter egg hunt. We used to do this in our old neighborhood, and I've missed it, so I decided to throw it together this year even though we were already fairly busy. I'm so glad I did! Several of our friends let us borrow their yards to hide eggs in, and we had a great turnout. The rain held off until we were finished, and we met some new neighbors and stood around chatting after all of the eggs had been found. On Easter Sunday, we had waffles for breakfast and the boys loved their baskets that contained new books, clothes, and hats. We enjoyed beautiful music at church, and Mike's mom came over later for dinner. It was a very nice weekend. 

Loving . . . our new five-year-old. Is there anything better than a little four-year-old anticipating his birthday? I think not. Ian has been counting down the days for months. He made an extensive list of things he wanted in his shaky, adorably awkward handwriting. I must confess that we got him almost everything on the list. We didn't want to set a precedence for future birthdays, but it is so fun and easy (and cheap!) to buy things for a five-year-old. So he maybe got a little spoiled. We couldn't help ourselves. In the morning, Mike's mom took him to the aquarium. When he got home, I asked him what his favorite part was, and he said, "The gift shop." I'm afraid he loves things a little too much. A few days later, my parents also took him out for donuts and some fun at the park, so there was plenty of celebrating. His only request for a cake was "chocolate with sprinkles." (Clark was unimpressed: "Ian! Dad will make you anything you want! Anything!!!") In the evening, Mike's sister came over with her family, and we all sang to our favorite Ian. He is just so thrilled to be five, but I have to admit that birthdays always make me feel rather melancholy.

Marking . . . the anniversary of one year post-transplant! We made it to the year mark again! We hope this time we get to make it to two and then three and then twenty and then seventy years! We celebrated by getting pastries from Mrs. Backer's, Jimmy John's for dinner, and soft serve ice cream from Macey's (all things Aaron couldn't have after his transplant). 

Realizing . . . that Silas has a tongue tie. Silas has always been what I would call an "angry eater." He usually only nurses for 3-5 minutes after which he is sputtering mad. In most other respects, he is a pleasant, peaceful baby, but eating makes him riled up instead of content. He pretty much never falls asleep when nursing. For awhile, I attributed this discontent to his laryngomalacia. But then one day, while I was feeding him, a bunch of his symptoms finally clicked for me: his inability to stay latched, the clicking sounds he makes when he eats, his upset tummy after every feeding session from all of the air he's swallowed, his choking and gagging during almost every feeding, his extremely short feeding sessions, and all of the infections and pain I've had since he was born. One of the tell-tale signs of a tongue tie is a notched or heart shaped tongue. Once I started to figure things out, I finally took a good look at his tongue, and the shape of it was so obvious I wondered how I had missed it before. When I took him to the pediatrician, he said it looked like a posterior (back of the tongue) tie as well as a possible lip tie. He honestly wasn't at all concerned about it because Silas has obviously not had any trouble gaining weight (and this seems to be what pediatricians are most concerned about), but he said I could take Silas to a pediatric dentist if I was so inclined, which I was.

Releasing . . . Silas' tongue and lip ties. We made an appointment with a pediatric dentist who specializes in tongue ties. He immediately confirmed all of my suspicions. There was no question that Silas had both a tongue tie and a lip tie. Unlike the pediatrician, he listed off many reasons why they should be resolved, not the least of which was all of the distress we both felt around feeding. He said they could laser both sites right then. It took less than three minutes from start to finish. I would highly recommend this dentist to anyone with a tongue/lip tie. Mike and I both agreed that it felt like we were at the Primary Children's of dentistry. Following the procedure, we had to stretch and massage the areas several times a day for three weeks. The first week was pretty rough with general fussiness and inconsolable crying when we had to do the stretches. But after that, Silas went back to being his happy, laid-back self, and the feeding issues, although not totally resolved, seem to be improving. 

Finishing . . . two knitting projects. I had been holding onto a special skein of color-shifting yarn for three years. I wanted to find the perfect pattern for it. I had a couple of hat patterns picked out, but I thought they would only use up part of the skein, and that would have skipped several of the colors. I really wanted to see what the whole thing looked like when it was knitted up. So I decided to turn one of the hat patterns into a cowl. I just kept repeating the pattern until there was just a tiny bit of the skein left.  I made almost the entire cowl on our trip to San Diego, and watching the colors slowly shift and change brought me a lot of joy. It is a nice, long cowl that scrunches up around my neck really cozily. The second project was a shawl that I started way back in August and then worked on in intermittent bursts. It had been in my queue for almost as long as I've been knitting, and it was so fun to finally make it. It is made up of three unique sections (cables, then lace, then textured pattern), and I loved each one. I really wish that wearing shawls the old-fashioned way was a thing because I love wrapping this one around my shoulders.

Moving . . . Silas to a crib. Silas has already outgrown his little bassinet. His feet were bumping up against the end of it, and he didn't have any more room to grow. So Mike set up the crib, and we were all amazed by how small it made him look when we put him to bed in it for the first time. The crib is in our room for now. I'm not sure when we'll move him out. Our room has plenty of space for a crib, and it's definitely more convenient to have him in there for middle-of-the-night feedings, so I'm not in any rush. 

Running . . . for track. Both Aaron and Max participated in track this season. They got to try lots of events without a lot of pressure, so it was a good experience for them. 

Catching . . . all the smiles. Silas is such a smiley, happy little guy. We can't get enough of his cute smiles. Anytime anyone passes him, they have to try to get one out of him. And it isn't difficult. He loves people and busts out a gummy grin with just a tiny bit of coaxing. Case(s) in point:


Being . . . king for the day. All of the sixth graders got to participate in a medieval banquet that went along with their studies in world history. The teachers chose one king and queen from each section, and Max was one of the lucky ones. He loved getting to hold court and knight all of his classmates. I wasn't able to volunteer, but it seemed like it was quite the elaborate event.

Raising . . . money for Make-A-Wish. Our family accepted the challenge to raise $1000 for the Make-A-Wish organization, and we did it (thanks to the generosity of family and friends)! If you didn't get a chance to donate but would like to, our page is still active for a few more weeks. Between this and Mike's birthday, it felt like I spent the month constantly asking for something, and it was kind of a relief when it was over.

Attending . . . Ian's spring preschool program and Let's Play Music recital. The highlight of the preschool program was definitely the kids' rendition of What Does the Fox Say (although Octopus's Garden with black lights was pretty memorable also). As for Let's Play Music, the recital only captured the tiniest bit of all that Ian has learned this year. I would definitely recommend this music program to anyone--it was such a positive experience for both Ian and me, and I'm going to miss going to class with him every other week.

Finishing . . . up a session of gymnastics. Clark begged and begged to do gymnastics, but after three months, he was done with it, so I didn't sign him up again. 

Getting . . . away for twenty-four hours. Mike and I celebrated our 17th anniversary this month. We spent a full day/night away from our kids (except for our little tagalong, Silas). We stayed at the Zermatt in Midway, and our activities included eating sushi with Gordy and Brooke (the best food of the trip, in Mike's opinion), going to The Light in the Piazza at Hale Center Theater (my mom watched Silas for this), enjoying live music and yummy food at the hotel restaurant, eating breakfast at an old garage turned diner,  listening to John Denver in the car, walking across the longest covered bridge in Utah (not that impressive), hiking up Memorial Hill for a 360 view of Midway, trying to find the cabin we stayed in for our honeymoon (it was in a gated area so we were unsuccessful), and ending the trip with gelato. Of course we spent a lot of time reminiscing over the last 17 years, and Mike asked, "Have these 17 years felt long or short?" We both agreed that even though the years have flown by, when we think back to those early days of our marriage, it feels like a lifetime ago. Then Mike dropped this bombshell: "In 17 more years, we'll still have Silas at home." Whoa. 

Whew, that felt like more of a marathon post than I was expecting. If you didn't make it all the way through, I'm not offended. I actually had 230 edited photos from this month (way more than that unedited), so even though this post seemed long, I actually showed some restraint. 

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