Friday, December 26, 2014

We Named a Human

Oh hey.

And Merry Christmas and all that.

So, I actually gave birth to a human person boy individual 18 days ago.  If you were wondering. 

Also, we decided to name him Hadrian.

People have asked us, "Why?" So I thought, since I was in the mood, I would write a list of reasons here since there were quite a few (seemed like it to me, at least).

Reasons We Named Our Child Hadrian
  • One of the naming category possibilities we both were interested in was Classical history or mythology.  Hence, a name of a Roman emperor made it to the list.
  • Hadrian was actually one of the five "Good Emperors" of Rome, so that was a plus.  Personally, I am a big fan of Marcus Aurelius, one of the other Good Emperors (or maybe even the best emperor), but Marcus seemed too popular a name.
  • Relatedly, Hadrian isn't a popular name (aka, in the top 600).  This was appealing.
  • The historical Hadrian was known for being a traveler - wanting to visit all of the provinces of Rome.  The newly born infant Hadrian is similarly a traveler, having been to 10 countries in utero.
  • The historical Hadrian was also known for being interested in learning about and respecting all the different cultures within the Roman empire; even adopting their traditions.  And, well, I don't know, I guess that meant a lot to us since we've had these years over here in Germany and Denmark.   There are a couple big lessons we've learned on this adventure, and one has been how big and diverse the world is, how little we know about it, how you can never assume that just because you've always done something some way does not mean it's the best way, and how we have so much to learn from other cultures.
  • Of those ten countries we've been to while he was in utero, a few of the destinations had particular signigance to the historical Hadrian.  First, Scotland and northern England with his famous wall.  Second, to Rome (obviously) and seeing Hadrian's tomb (Castel Sant'Angelo) and the Pantheon which he reconstructed.  And third, our trip to Andalucia where Hadrian was born.
  • Hadrian's famous summer villa was named Tivoli.  And Tivoli is the name of the great, famous park in Copenhagen and practically a symbol of Denmark itself.  Ask any Dane.  Serious.
  • Hadrian means "Dark."  Sure, that's not the nicest meaning on the surface, but I think it's appropriate in a way since our Hadrian was born during the darkest part of the Scandinavian winter.  And here, the dark time of the year is also the coziest (hygge) time, so it doesn't have a super negative connotation - actually it has a rather warm, loving kind of feel to it.  Go figure.
  • It's an H name.  I'm partial.
  • It's a three-syllable name (that isn't a long name).  This was a near-requirement for me since Paul was going to claim the last name.  Paul's last name is really short - needed some balance.
  • It's not a weird name - as in, like, a name with a completely random spelling or some mash-up like "Tridger" or "Ahliver" or whathaveyou.  
  • Aaaaaaaaaaaand that's all I can think of.  

But you know what?  Even with all those reasons, it was still hard to announce it.  A name is a big deal - they mean a lot.  It was (is) way more stressful than I thought it would be to choose one.  I still find myself feeling uncomfortable about naming this kid without his input, still have moments when I consciously call him "baby"  or "little one" instead of Hadrian because it still feels weird.

But we had our reasons!  And I hope this can be considered a "good name" for a good kid.  I promise, little Hade, we really put a lot of time and thought into this!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Bremen, Bremen

In November 2012, we had a trip to Paris all planned - plane tickets, hotel reservation, train tickets.  But, by then we also had learned we'd be moving to Denmark and would have to pay around $2000 for residency permits.

So, Paris was off.  We ate the price of the plane tickets (which, in Europe, were not horribly expensive) and hotel reservation fee.  But we still had our regional train tickets in Germany that we were going to use to get to the airport.

After some research, we figured out that the farthest we could get on our tickets was around a four hour train journey to Bremen in the state of Bremen.  We'd heard it was a lovely city and feeling our usual sense of adventure around Thanksgiving, we set off early Saturday to check it out.

First off, the old town was like a very cute version of Lubeck - all North German brick and half-timber details.  We didn't really have a plan, just wanted to walk around and grab a bite somewhere, which isn't our usual MO.  But, I have to say, it was just a nice, laid-back day and we saw some memorable things.

First, of course, was seeing the famous Brementown Musicians statue near the cathedral.  It became a game throughout the day to find small, decorative details around the city featuring a rooster, cat, dog, and donkey - on the lanterns, shop signs, fencing.  I believe by the end of the day we'd gotten to around 52 Brementown Musician sightings.

We also took slow strolls down through the uber-adorable Schnoor district and, my favorite area, pictured here, Böttcherstraße.  It was a long, winding brick-lined street with crooked chimneys and leaning walls - probably the most legitimately Diagon-alley-looking place I'd ever seen.   

We stopped into a bon bon shop and watched them make candy and also chose a little restaurant so we could try some Bremen specialties.

I ended up getting a flammkuchen - kind of like a pizza with very thin crust, onions, and bacon.  Paul got Pinkel und Kohl - Pinkel being a special type of wurst for the area and and kohl being some steamed greens.  

Two thumbs up.

We knew we had a long train ride home, so we began walking back to the station around 4pm, passing quite a number of hammer-dulcimer street musicians.  These guys were the jazziest bunch we saw.  Hammer dulcimer jazz band, huh.  It worked though.

Bremen stands out in my memory since it was the last real trip we took to explore Germany before we moved to Scandinavia.  It was a short visit with a long travel time, but it was still worth it.  We had the freedom, we had the train tickets.  And like we always tell each other when we're trying to get ourselves out the door, we never regret making memories.  Getting out into the world, seeing new things, learning more about how big and diverse and good the world is - we are always happy we did it.

I'm counting down the days until my third anniversary of living in Europe by recapping trips that I never got around to highlighting.  You can see the list of trips (and links to them as they are written) here.

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