Saturday, February 10, 2018

What's in a name?: Junia Aiden Edition

Junia less than 100 seconds old...
So, it’s been a while since we blogged… almost 3 and a half years actually, since that was when we last had a child. Life just isn't as unique as when we lived in Kenya, and we're a little busier than we were then as well. 

Regardless, as is our wont, here is a blog about the name we gave to our fourth child, who was born on January 19th, 2018. Turns out it is much more difficult to write these posts when you A. have 4 children 5-years-old and under, B. aren't getting much sleep, and C. don’t finalize a name for your child until she’s been alive for 24 hours and the hospital is passive-aggressively bringing you forms to fill out that ask for a name for your daughter so she can be discharged…

Since this is (probably, hopefully) our last child (biological, at least), here’s a little background on how we name kids… pretty much, I have a bunch of rules and Colleen gets annoyed by them.

My rules:

1. No character or famous people names… if the first thing you think of when you hear a name is an elf, wizard, famous athlete, actor, musician, etc. then it’s out for me. Sorry Rey, Arwen, Serena, Hermione, Enya, etc… (Blaise stretches this rule a bit, since he’s named after Blaise Pascal, but let’s just say there is a 300-year posthumous statute of limitations on famous people. Lookout for Lebron Wittig sometime around the year 2380.)

The girls
2. There must be a 2-syllable or less version of the name… if I’m going to be saying/yelling it 7 million times across the backyards, soccer fields, and from the passenger seat of a car while I’m teaching my teenage progeny to drive, I need verbal efficiency. Cash. Cacia. Blaise. Juni/Nia (TBD). 4 kids, 6 syllables – necessary brevity.

3. No unpronounceable Gaelic spellings… there are many beautiful Irish names that we love, but sorry Siobhan, Saoirse, Ciaran, Tadhg, Aoife, Caiseal, etc., you just didn’t make the cut. I’ve had to spell my name my whole life, but at least there is some chance people will say it correctly when they read it phonetically. Not so much with Aoife and Saoirse.

I’m not saying they should be your rules (though as a father and coach, I highly advise the 2-syllable or less directive), but those are mine… though honestly, after her performances in the delivery room, Colleen can name our biological children anything she wants, including Saoirse Arwen Frodo Tolkien Galadriel Éowyn Samwise Wittig. So really, the rules don't mean anything.

Like I mentioned previously, it took us 24+ hours to finalize Junia’s name, and only under the threat of leaving the hospital without a name were we forced into a decision. That agony over name choice means that we’ve got a couple of amazing unused girls names in the hopper… possibly the 3rd and 4th best girl names of all time (obviously, Acacia and Junia are tied for #1). Now that we will (probably, hopefully) not be needing them, we’re offering them to… the highest bidder! Please submit your bids for 1 or 2 amazing female baby names… bidding starts at $39.99. Happy bidding!

On to the name… 


Junia, pronounced joo-nee-yah (3 syllables, like Julia with an “n”), is a Biblical name from Romans 16. It means “youth” and is a feminine form of Junius, which derives from the Roman goddess, Juno, who was the queen of the gods and married to Jupiter. Juno was a protector, the goddess of marriage and childbirth. 

Don't I look like a JuniBird?
One of the things we most like about Junia is the exceptional nickname-ability… so far, the kids have been calling her Juni almost exclusively, but Nia is also a possibility, as well as Junebug, J-bug, JuJu, JuniBird (personal creation and favorite), J-Bird, JuniGirl, JuJuBe (like the candy), etc. Like Acacia going by Cacia (kay-sha), the Juni/Nia/JuJu/J-Bird possibilities also help Junia abide by the two-syllables-or-less rule #2 above. Like we said, we had 2 or 3 names that we liked, but after spending a day or so with her, it was clear that she is a Junia – it just fits her little personality and sweet face.

Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was. Romans 16:7 (NIV)

In Romans 16, Junia is a woman who Paul praises, along with a man named Andronicus (which didn’t make any of our previous boy name lists… obviously too many syllables). Though only mentioned in that one verse, Junia is a somewhat controversial figure in some circles of Christendom, because she is a she. There is some debate about whether Junia was actually female, though most scholars believe she was, and about the phrasing of Paul’s admiration of her and Andronicus – “outstanding among the apostles” (NIV, NASB, KJV, etc.) or “well known to the apostles” (ESV and a few others), the operative word being “among.”

The and many other books and materials posit that Junia was accepted as a woman apostle for 100s of years after Paul wrote Romans, until cultural shifts and male translators started changing Junia to Junius or Junias, pretty much because a woman apostle didn’t fit their narratives. If you’re interested, I encourage you to read more at the and elsewhere about Junia, and how translation bias and interpretation have affected her legacy over 2 millennia. Here's a couple of interesting articles from that site: 

Who killed Junia? Part 1 and Part 2

The fact that Junia was a woman apostle feeds into the debate about the role of women in the church, and complementarianism vs egalitarianism. Outside of blatant poor translation, most of the differences between those stances comes down to how scripture is interpreted in the light of cultural context. In short, many churches, ours included, believe that only men can lead and teach in church and in the home, that men and women are designed for specific roles that complement each other. 

Juni does not currently have thoughts on egalitarianism...
However, we, and many other churches and denominations believe that the Bible in cultural context was/is liberating, freeing, and humanizing for women, and that the qualifications for leadership, teaching, etc. should only be giftedness. We believe that the gender restrictions in the New Testament were for specific situations, are not universal principles, and that the Gospel completely upset the prevailing patriarchy of first century Rome (where women were merely possessions and baby factories) while working within the confines of culture, as it continues to do today.

But the point of our daughter’s name and this blog isn’t to start a debate about the role of women in the church or the home – many of you reading probably do not care, and I doubt I’m going to change your mind if you do - but rather to share the reasons that we named our daughter Junia… and it’s because we like the sound of "Junia," the aforementioned nicknames seem to fit her, “youth” and ”queen goddess” are not uncool name meanings, the name follows the previously listed rules... 

Cashel is so sweetest with his babysister... see video below
And she’s named after an apparently incredible New Testament woman who was likely one of the founding leaders of the Christian church in Rome, who was imprisoned with the Apostle Paul for her faith, and who was highlighted for her incredible work for the Gospel. A unique name with a great legacy - we pray that little Juni can carry the love of Christ to the world, and fulfill even a small part of being “outstanding among the apostles,” like her namesake.


Aiden is Colleen’s middle name (as well as her mother, Eileen’s), and is Gaelic for “fire.”

So yes, Junia Aiden’s name means “youth fire.”

Colleen’s Mamaw immigrated to Kentucky from Ireland as a young woman, and her sister is an Irish nun named, Sister Aiden. She is known for being extremely loving and gregarious, and is universally adored by the family and her community. When Eileen and her siblings went to visit their family in Ireland as adults, the nuns at Sister Aiden’s convent knew them all by name, because the Sisters had been praying for them daily for years at Sister Aiden’s behest.

We hope our little JuniBird has some fire in her personality, a fierce love for humanity, and, like Sister Aiden, prays fervently for the people in her life.


Mr. No-longer-the-baby with the baby
Since I’ve written the “Wittig” portion of these name blogs before, I’m just going to plagiarize myself and copy it here again:

Junia is a Wittig.  Like all Wittigs, little Junibird will be cursed with having her last name mispronounced and misspelled for the rest of her life.  Whitting?  Wittrig?  White-ig?  Widdic?  Sometimes I'm not sure I know how to pronounce it.  Juni better get used to spelling it out every time, just like the rest of us. 

In 4 years of having "Cason Wittig" announced over the loudspeaker when I played high school basketball, it was never pronounced correctly at a road game.  Not once.  I think the only person to ever actually pronounce Wittig correctly was my crazy German soccer coach who would scream "Vittig!" at 12-year-old me from the sidelines in between muttered German curse words.

Incidentally, Wittig comes from the German word for "wood" or possibly the word for "clever"... although I was told as a kid that it meant "little wooden head."  I couldn't find any evidence of the "little wooden head" meaning on the internet, but I'm going to pass that quirky interpretation on to all of my kids because it is way more fun.

Also, Wittigs love ice cream, so we've got that going for us.

Thanks to those of you who made it this far on the blog post… Even though she doesn’t let us sleep, we love our Youth Fire Little Wooden Head! Thanks for reading!


Quality time with my girl

Bright eyes

Juni reading some Harry Potter with the fam

Happy naps all day... unfortunately, not all night
Love these girls
These two are the cutest...
He loves her so much
All of the kids love their baby sister, but Cashel was by far the most excited when Colleen was pregnant - the last couple of weeks he could race inside after preschool and stare at Colleen's stomach until he had confirmed his sister hadn't been born while he was gone - and has the most patience for her now. If she's calm, he loves to just sit and hold during his quiet time in the afternoons, reading to her, and discussing the subtleties of Star Wars, Legos, Marvel superheroes, Harry Potter, etc. When he recently lost his bottom two teeth, he made sure to run to Juni to show her, because "she'll be so excited for me," and he always tells her how many points he scores in his basketball games. We pray they will always have a special little friendship, even with their 5.5 year age gap... it will definitely be tested once crawling/walking Junia is getting into his precious Lego sets. : ) Here's Cash talking about his baby sister:

Thursday, October 30, 2014

What's in a name?: Blaise Ramsay Edition

“So… you named your kids after cathedral ruins, a thorny African tree… and a nerdy large-nosed Frenchman who died over 350 years ago?”


Well, yes. Yes we did.

This is America after all, not Iceland. We can name our children whatever we want.

As is our wont, this is a blog post about the name we chose for our son. If you’d like to read the prior posts about the rock (Cashel) and the tree (Acacia), you can click for those links.

For information on the mathlete Frenchman's namesake, read on.


So we named our new little guy BlaiseIt's pronounced like “blaze” (as in “phase”), not “blase” (as in chase). If you need to be convinced, the first second of this clip has French footballer Blaise Matuidi saying his own name... since he's French and it's his name, I think we can count him as a pronunciation expert.

First of all, we (me, Cason, especially) just really like the way it sounds. I'm a fan of one or two syllable names that I can envision being called in for dinner from the backyard or yelled across a basketball court or soccer field, so “Cash,” “Acacia” (well, “Cacia”), and “Blaise” all fit the bill.

However, it was Colleen who picked the name in the end, because after her brave performance in the delivery room, I told her she could name him whatever she wanted, including “Puff the Magic Dragon” or “Princess Consuela Banana-hammock.” Surprisingly, she picked one of my favorite names instead of one from her list. She said that he looked more like a Blaise, and I agree.

In addition to liking the sound of Blaise, “Cash & Blaise” is a wickedly cool brotherly name combo that is destined to be a dynamic soccer strike partnership, a groundbreaking multi-ethnic rap duo, the name and stars of a reality TV show about pawnshop owners on Bravo, a pair of ambulance-chasing injury lawyers with annoying billboards ever 3 miles along the highway, or a mathematics team specializing in knot-theory that discovers a porthole to the 4th dimension... the possibilities are endless.

Blaise is a French name that actually means “a cleric” as well as, “stutterer, to lisp or stammer.” Not the most inspiring meanings. However, we’re found a few places that say the name could also derive from the Greek name Basilius which comes from “basíleios,” which means “royal, kingly.” So we may just go with “royal/kingly” instead of “lisper.” Making up name meanings is kind of our thing.

The best meanings for Blaise are actually on… I wish my named meant “a fly person who beats down the haters,” “a nice guy who plays soccer and has amazing hair,” or “someone with copious amounts of swagger.” Obviously the soccer and hair one is good, but I'm not sure what to make of most of those, so let's just move on. (Be aware there is crude and inappropriate language elsewhere on those linked pages.)

More than the meaning, a big part of the reason we like the name Blaise is for the historical figures1 that share that designation, most notably the aforementioned large-nosed Frenchman.

(The following is a probably-too-long section about Blaise Pascal… feel free to skip ahead to the middle name section if you’d prefer. He’s just such a cool guy - I just couldn’t help myself.)

Blaise Pascal was a French mathematician2/physicist/inventor/ writer/philosopher who lived in the 17th century. The son of a tax collector (ahem, I’m an CPA…) Blaise was a prodigy since birth, inventing a calculator and writing extensively about projective geometry by age 16. He is the namesake for Pascal’s triangle, Pascal’s law, Pascal’s theorem, the Pascal (unit of measurement), as well as the father of expected value theory, the inventor of modern public transportation, and a sundry other significant contributions that were years ahead of his time.

While I can appreciate his genius, I’m no scientist or mathematician, so the main reason that Blaise Pascal resonates with me are his philosophical writings.

After a time of drifting spiritually, at age 31 Pascal had a “religious vision” in the night that changed his life. It is said that he took notes immediately after the vision that stated "FIRE. God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, not of the philosophers and the scholars… heartfelt joy, peace. God of Jesus Christ… May I never be separated from him.” It is said that he kept the note sewn into his garments wherever he went, something that was discovered by a servant after his death.

A philosopher deep in thought... or just gassy
Soon after that episode, Pascal published the Provincial Letters under a pseudonym, to attack a popular Catholic ethical philosophy. In addition to being convincing and of sound logic, the Letters are famous for their use of humor, satire, mockery, and wit – a style I can appreciate and relate to as someone who has been called “snarky” on more than one occasion. The Letters are seen as one of the greatest works in French Literature.

His main theological work, Pensées (“Thoughts”), was published posthumously as it was not finished before his death at age 39. Though I don’t pretend to have understood all of it, I’ve read Pensées  and found it to be refreshing in its straight-forward rational and self-awareness. It doesn’t paint the world in complete black and white, yet the preponderance of evidence Pascal puts forward essentially develops Pascal’s Wager, a philosophy with which I naturally sympathize. For someone who was so brilliant in the world that he could observe, touch, measure, etc., Pascal had an incredible understanding that there was more to life than just the physical and that life is a balance between the heart and reason.

In Pensées, he wrote:

“It is the heart which perceives God and not the reason… We know the truth, not only by the reason, but also by the heart...”

“If we submit everything to reason, our religion will be left with nothing mysterious or supernatural. If we offend the principles of reason, our religion will be absurd and ridiculous . . . There are two equally dangerous extremes: to exclude reason, to admit nothing but reason.”

I’m not going to include a full biography of Blaise Pascal here (though I would encourage anyone to research his life story and works), and we’re not naming our son after him because we want to pressure Blaise Wittig to be a brilliant scientist/philosopher or because we believe Blaise Pascal was anywhere near perfect.

We do hope that our Blaise can be a man who influences the world for good in his work primarily through his relationship with Jesus Christ. Like his namesake, we hope that Blaise understands how to connect with people in a tangible way to show them that believing in God is reasonable and also freeing.

We also pray that Blaise grows up to be someone not afraid to fight tyranny and stand up for the oppressed - even if the oppression comes in the name of religious conviction – and that he would experience God in the same way that Pascal did when God reached out and drew Blaise to Himself  - with FIRE in lieu of just reason.

I have about 1,000 favorite Blaise Pascal quotes (sample: “Too much and too little wine. Give him none, he cannot find truth; give him too much, the same.”) that I wanted to include in this post, but will instead append to the end for brevity’s sake. He really was an amazing guy.

1. Another famous Blaise is Saint Blaise, the patron saint of wild animals (appropriate for our critter-filled household), woolcombers(?), and sore throats(??), who was martyred for his faith in the fourth century in Armenia. He is famous for healing people and animals alike. Legend has it that the saint miraculously saved a child from choking to death on a fish bone.

2. Additionally, Colleen's math professor father, John, has long requested that his grandchildren be named "Opus 38" (then subsequently opus 39, 40, 41, etc.). Opus is a musical term, not a mathematical one, but we think he really just wants the children to be numbered sequentially... We didn't quite go the full Opus, but naming our kids after a famous mathematician has got to score some points with Grandpa/Professor John, right?


BabyCacia already loves her little bro
We love our families, and are so excited for Baby Blaise to be a part of all of our families - Ramsay, Ambrose, Wittig, and Blackburn. Ramsay is Colleen's maiden name, and living close  to her side of the family (the Ambroses and Ramsays) was the primary reason we moved to Central Kentucky. We are so excited for Blaise to join our quickly-expanding crew, as well as the larger family structure. In addition to his sister, who is just 8 months older than him, Blaise will have girl first cousins born just a few months either side of him. By December, his Grandpa and Grandma Ramsay will have gone from 3 to 7 grandchildren in just 10 months! This kid won't ever lack for playmates!

The Ramsay name carries a weighty legacy, with many amazing people up and down the family tree. Most notably to us, are Bill and Rose Ramsay, Colleen’s grandparents who live in Berea and about whom we seem to constantly be learning amazing tidbits into their lives. We sincerely pray that young Blaise is inspired by and can live up to the incredible Ramsay heritage.

Also, Ramsay is a Scottish surname that means "from Ram's Island" or "wild garlic." So that's fun. The legend goes that the “-AY” RamsAYs changed from RamsEY when the “-EY” Ramseys got the reputation for being horse thieves… though apparently, if you ask an “-EY” Ramsey, their story is exactly the same in the reverse. Horse-thieves or not, we’re proud that Blaise has Ramsay as his middle name.


Since I’ve written the “Wittig” portion of these name posts before, I’m just going to plagiarize myself and copy it here again:

With Aunti Corinn
Blaise is a Wittig.  Like all Wittigs, little Blaise will be cursed with having his name mispronounced and misspelled for the rest of his life.  Whitting?  Wittrig?  Whitig?  Widdic?  Sometimes I'm not sure I know how to pronounce it.  Blaise better get used to spelling it out every time, just like the rest of us. 

In 4 years of having "Cason Wittig" announced over the loudspeaker when I played high school basketball, it was never pronounced correctly at a road game.  Not once.  I think the only person to ever actually pronounce Wittig correctly was my crazy German soccer coach who would scream "Vittig!" at 12-year-old me from the sidelines in between muttered German curse words.

Incidentally, Wittig comes from the German word for "wood" or possibly the word for "clever"... although I was told as a kid that it meant "little wooden head."  I couldn't find any evidence of the "little wooden head" meaning on the internet, but I'm going to pass that quirky interpretation on to all of my kids because it is way more fun. Also, Wittigs love ice cream, so we've got that going for us. 


Everybody wants milk 1st thing in the morning...
We’re so excited that Blaise is a part of our family and lives… I hope your main take away from this post is that we love him so much that we named him “The Lispy Stutterer from Ram’s Island Little Wooden Head”... or was it “Kingly Wild Garlic Little Wooden Head”?… or perhaps “Cleric the Horse Thief who is also Clever?” Pick your favorite.  

We’ll write more later about Blaise’s birth story and how life is going with three kids under 26 months old (spoiler alert: chaotically). Thanks for all of the love and support, and for reading this ridiculously long post. In the words of Monsieur Pascal, "I would have written a shorter blog, but I did not have the time.” (Rough translation)


Cason for Colleen and the whole crew

PS - As if our lives needed to get any crazier, 3 days after Colleen gave birth to Blaise, our dog Indy had puppies that will be ready to go to homes by Christmas 2014. Check out DoodlesByRosie blog for cute pictures and more info if you're interested.

As promised, here are some of my favorite Blaise Pascal quotes: 

Love at first sight
“All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” 

“Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.” 

“To make light of philosophy is to be a true philosopher.” 

“Curiosity is only vanity. We usually only want to know something so that we can talk about it.” 

Cheeks for days
“It is not certain that everything is uncertain.”

“We are generally the better persuaded by the reasons we discover ourselves than by those given to us by others.” 

“Little things comfort us because little things distress us.” 

“Belief is a wise wager. Granted that faith cannot be proved, what harm will come to you if you gamble on its truth and it proves false? If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation, that He exists.” 

“Reason's last step is the recognition that there are an infinite number of things which are beyond it.” 

"Truth is so obscure in these times, and falsehood so established, that, unless we love the truth, we cannot know it."

"Can anything be stupider than that a man has the right to kill me because he lives on the other side of a river and his ruler has a quarrel with mine, though I have not quarreled with him?"

"Between us and heaven or hell there is only life, which is the frailest thing in the world."

"There is a God shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus."

“If we submit everything to reason our religion will be left with nothing mysterious or supernatural. If we offend the principles of reason our religion will be absurd and ridiculous . . . There are two equally dangerous extremes: to exclude reason, to admit nothing but reason.” 

“Knowing God without knowing our wretchedness leads to pride. Knowing our wretchedness without
Motherly efficiency
knowing God leads to despair. Knowing Jesus Christ is the middle course, because in him we find both God and our wretchedness.” 

“Lust is the source of all our actions, and humanity.” 

“Let each of us examine his thoughts; he will find them wholly concerned with the past or the future. We almost never think of the present, and if we do think of it, it is only to see what light is throws on our plans for the future. The present is never our end. The past and the present are our means, the future alone our end. Thus we never actually live, but hope to live, and since we are always planning how to be happy, it is inevitable that we should never be so.” 
Happy Daddy

“There are only two kinds of men: the righteous who think they are sinners and the sinners who think they are righteous.” 

“Man's sensitivity to little things and insensitivity to the greatest things are marks of a strange disorder.” 

“Jesus is a God whom we can approach without pride and before whom we can humble ourselves without despair.” 

“Vanity is so firmly anchored
She loves him
man's heart that a soldier, a camp follower, a cook or a porter will boast and expect admirers, and even philosophers want them; those who write against them want to enjoy the prestige of having written well, those who read them want the prestige of having read them, and perhaps I who write this want the same thing.” 

“We run heedlessly into the abyss after putting something in front of us to stop us seeing it.” 

“Our imagination so magnifies the present, because we are continually thinking about it, and so reduces eternity, because we do not think about it, that we turn eternity into nothing and nothing into eternity, and all this is so strongly rooted within us that all our reason cannot save us from it.” 

“There is no denying it; one must admit that there is something astonishing about Christianity. 'It is because you were born in it,' they will say. Far from it; I stiffen myself against it for that very reason, for fear of being corrupted by prejudice. But, though I was born in it, I cannot help finding it astonishing.” 

“One has followed the other in an endless circle, for it is certain that as man's insight increases so he finds both wretchedness and greatness within himself. In a word man knows he is wretched. Thus he is wretched because he is so, but he is truly great because he knows it.” 

“To deny, to believe, and to doubt well, are to a man what the race is to a horse.” 

"God either exists or He doesn't. Either I believe in God or I don't. Of the four possibilities, only one is to my disadvantage. To avoid that possibility, I believe in God."

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Two Things

Part 1: Finalized
With Judge Petrie!
Thanks for the pics, Jenny!

BabyGirl all dressed up for her big day
Thanks for the pics, Aunti Michelle!
Acacia Grace officially became our daughter on Thursday… ahh, what a great day!  We went before the judge, who happens to be an elder at our church, and swore that we would take care of her, provide for her, and bring her up in a loving home. There were a few hiccups with the adoption process, even in the last day or so, but we weren’t anticipating any major issues in the courtroom. Even so, it was still such a relief to have the judge declare that she is ours forever… the thought that nothing and no one can take her away from us brings a sappy grin to my face every time I think about it.

I’m struck again by what an amazing thing adoption is… sometimes people tell us what a great thing it is we are doing or what a blessing it must be to to our kids... but I feel the opposite. We’re the ones who are so thankful to be their parents, and I think we recognize that more than we otherwise would, because it can be a struggle and fight to finalize an adoption. When it finally becomes official, after already parenting a child for 4 months… waves of thankfulness just pour over me. Even without any major issues, it is still an unadulterated, happy moment when an adopted child is declared ours.

Here's a visual representation of how we all feel about Cacia's adoption being finalized, courtesy of Pharrell's "Happy" and Cacia's big bro, Cashel:
Our BabyGirl, Cacia, is a sweetie, who loves to smile, especially at her lovely mama. She is incredibly active, especially compared to how docile her brother was at the same age1. She loves to stand, jump around in her exersaucer, look around at the world, and squeal at us, especially late at night after big bro Cashy has gone to bed. She is also a professional cuddler when she’s tired, and really enjoys watching sports on TV with me. It has been awesome getting to see more and more of her little personality blossom as she discovers new things every day.

1. Now he’s a constantly moving, bull-in-a-china-shop, but up until about 8 months old, he was supremely satisfied just to sit back and observe the world.

It was wonderful to celebrate with family...

And friends!

And more friends!

Part 2: When It Rains, It Deluges

So, here’s a funny story that we haven't been able to make public until now…

Since “pulling the goalie” almost 5 years ago, we have not been able to get pregnant. Colleen has been to see doctors, and we’ve tried a few things, but we didn’t sweat it too much since we’ve wanted to adopt since early on in our dating relationship. Our original, pre-marriage plan was to have two biological kids, and then adopt all of our other children, but because of the complications things obviously did not happen that way. Life rarely works out as planned, and most people (including us) have to learn that the hard way. “The mind of man plans his ways, But the Lord directs his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)

As we posted previously, Acacia’s adoption came extremely quickly after we completed our home study update, and much before we expected we’d be able to get a baby. Well, here's the rest of the story" from back in February... the day before Cacia was born, Colleen took a pregnancy test that was positive.


Bumpin' bumpin'
My reaction was more dumbfounded than anything, but we had registered false positives before because of some of hormone issues, so I didn’t totally believe it. Colleen, however, really felt like she really might be this time, but because Acacia's birthmother was being induced the next morning, we had no time to do anything or to think much about it. We decided to put it to the back of our minds, as best we could, and focus on Cacia’s incredible entrance into our lives. We didn’t tell anyone2 that we might be pregnant since we wanted all the focus to be on Cacia in her first days on earth. Once we got back home from Cincinnati when Cacia was a week or so old, Colleen went to get a blood test which confirmed the pregnancy test.

It was actually difficult to be excited about it for a little while since being pregnant complicated our adoption of Acacia a bit. Our home study was completed under the reality that we only had one child, and there were a few anxious hours not knowing what would happen after we told the agency that we were pregnant. Thankfully, the pregnancy did not interfere with the adoption, other than a request for us to have some additional help in our home after the baby is born (which we'll probably need anyway!).

Not too long after we brought Cacia home, Colleen started to have some first trimester night queasiness and morning sickness, which did not make newborn night feedings very pleasant. I did my best to pick up the slack, but Colleen was an incredible mom even when not feeling her best. Over the next few weeks and months, we gradually told more people in our family and at our church, but we were asked to wait to make any public announcements until Acacia’s adoption was finalized - which is why we can finally post this now! For those keeping score at home, Colleen is 21 weeks along, and is due October 25th.

Can you see the prego belly hiding behind the baby?
One of the funnier side-effects of having to keep the pregnancy off the internet until now, is how we’ve had to edit or censor what photos of Colleen go online. There have been a few cute ones of her and the kids that we might have normally shared, but her bump was too prominent. A few from the past couple of weeks have had a strategically placed child in her lap as we attempted to abide by the request to keep the news off the internet until the finalization.

Many people have told us that we must have gotten pregnant because we were adopting. Apparently it is pretty common for couples who can’t get pregnant to finally conceive when they are in the adoption process. However, because Acacia’s adoption went so quickly, we were actually pregnant before we even knew about her. Though we definitely believe that God knew and had a plan the whole time! 

Say hello to Pelé!
Looks like he has Nana Wittig's little button nose
A few weeks ago we found out that we’ll have another boy in the family! He is quite a squirmy guy and loves to kick his mama in all directions, so we’ve dubbed him "Pelé" for the time being. If he comes on schedule, he will be 8 months younger than his sister, and 26 months younger than his big bro Cashel. It is going be to crazy in our house for a while!

So that’s our news. 2014 is apparently “the year of babies” for us.

Thanks so much for the prayers and support for Acacia’s adoption, as well as the love we’ve received throughout our whole story as it unfolds… definitely not according to our plans all the time, but according to the Lord’s. Thanks for reading!


2. Except for Colleen’s sister Adrienne, with whom she pretty much has sister hive-mind. I was trying to be rational about everything, apparently annoyingly so. If Colleen didn’t have someone to freak out with her, she might have exploded, so it was good she had Adrienne.

The four of us at the beach

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

An attempt at an update

These two cuties keep us plenty busy
So... who has time to blog anymore? We didn't do a great job blogging after we had one child (and bought a house in the same weekend), so could we really be expected to blog prolifically now that we have two?

Well, here it goes: An attempt at an update. 

We love Acacia. So much. She is such a sweetheart, and has such a fun personality. She brings joy to our family in so many ways and we are blessed beyond measure to have her. Having two kiddos has been quite the adventure thus far. It will come as a shock to no parents with more than two children that we are exhausted all the time and late to everything - but we love it!

We were hermits and didn’t venture out much our first month home with Cacia, mostly because we were so tired from night feedings. Not long after that, Colleen got sick with a virus that has hung around for the better part of a month, and both kids have been sick at various stages, so we’ve been running a bit of a hospital ward. 

It has been so much fun to see Cacia’s little personality develop, especially over the last few weeks. At first, she was just active and wiggly when she wasn’t sleeping, and started to wail as soon as the pacifier left her mouth… which was, on average, every 3 seconds unless she was mummified in a swaddle. These days, she still likes the paci (so much so that Cashel yells out “Paci! Paci!” whenever she starts fussing), but loves to interact and “talk” with anyone who will listen when she’s happy. 

We never realized all of the boy noises that Cashel made as a baby - grunts, ugghs, etc. - until we had a sweet baby girl. Cacia is all squeaks, coos, and seems to be a bit drama queen if the escalation of her cries are anything to go by. She has started smiling and even laughing for us! She is such a happy girl most of the time these days, and is so talkative. She loves to coo and chatter to us continually, and we can usually guess her mood by the tone of her “talking.” She is also still a wiggle-worm, and loves to stand up and look around at the world. She wants to be running around with her brother already! 

Cashel has been incredibly sweet with her... the only real trouble we have had is him being over-loving and over-curious. He just wants her to play with him so badly! As soon as we turn our back, he sets his cars on her, or puts a hat or bow on her head. We have even caught him trying to share food with her! He is very proud of his sister; when we are out shopping or running errands, he responds to anyone who comes and says hi to him with "Tacia! Baby! Over there," and points to her.  It has been so fun see them begin to relate to one another and we are excited to see how they will grow in friendship as Acacia is able to play and interact more. 

Cacia just turned 3 months old, so we will be able to apply for a court date to finalize her adoption soon. We are hopefully confident that by mid-June, Miss Acacia Grace will officially, legally be our daughter! If you think of us, we'd appreciate prayers that things go smoothly these next few weeks!

We are so thankful for the love and support that our family receives from all over the world. We have the best family, friends, and church family! We know we are extremely blessed, especially by the two little lives that God has entrusted to us (even when both are screaming/hungry/poopy at the same time), and we pray that we would glorify him through our parenting and through our lives.

Colleen (& Cason)

We love snuggle time

More snuggles

Bye, and thanks for reading!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

What’s in a name?: Acacia Grace edition

All 4 of us! Cacia was being a little shy

As someone who tends to be cynical and pessimistic at times (my wife says “Ha!” to “at times”), Acacia’s adoption has been incredible so far. To date, it has gone so smoothly, quickly, and easily, that I honestly haven’t been able to enjoy it as much as I should because I keep thinking something is about to go wrong. We have been so blessed by so many different circumstances and people, it truly is overwhelming.

Naptime with Grandma Ramsay
Since Acacia was discharged from the hospital on Friday, we’ve been staying at a hotel in Cincinnati with many family members coming to visit or staying with us. Yesterday afternoon, the birth mother signed her permanent surrender document, and we filled out all necessary paperwork to become Cacia’s guardians. It has been a blissful weekend celebrating and loving on our new babygirl with our families, and we are sad to see them all heading back home after such a wonderful week. I'm leaving tonight so I can go back to work tomorrow, and everyone else except for Colleen’s mom has already left. Colleen, Cashel, and Acacia have to stay in Ohio until both Ohio and Kentucky approves the guardianship, so we’re praying that process goes quickly, so they can all come home by Wednesday or so. Thankfully Colleen will have help from both of our mothers during the week as she gets used to being a mother to two!

So basically, Acacia isn’t official ours yet, and as we’ve learned, you never know what might happen, but we’re past the major hurdles and are trusting that she’s well on her way to becoming a Wittig!

Miss Acacia with Bibi and Babu Wittig
Speaking of becoming a Wittig, it has become somewhat of a tradition to write about the name we pick for our children, since we did so for Asher/Jayson (our failed adoption) and Cashel. We often get questions about what Cashel’s name means or where we got it, just like we have for Acacia in the few days she’s been alive, so we feel that it is important to write out why we choose a specific name and what significance it has to us. 

Without further ado, Miss Acacia Grace Wittig:

We like the sound of Acacia (pronounced a-KAY-shah), and particularly the nickname Cacia (KAY-shah), which we think we’ll call her most of the time. Apparently, we are partial to soothing, “sshhhhhh” - sounds. We will probably get tongue-tied by having a “Cashel” and “Cacia” less than 18 months apart in the same house, but our own moms have called us our siblings’ names (and even the dog’s) before, so the tongue-tied-ness probably would have happened regardless of the similarity.

“Wait, you named your daughter after a tree?”

“Well, yea… kinda.”

Acacia trees grow in warm climates all over the world, particularly in Australia, but the type that we are most familiar with is the thorny flat-top tree found in sub-saharan Africa. During our time living in Kenya in 2009-2010, we loved to go on safari in the Masai Mara, and the amazing expanse was dotted with beautiful acacias. Some of my favorite memories are watching the sun rise over the savannah on a few brisk African mornings, with acacia trees and gazelle all around, and warm hot chocolate in my hands.

Acacia wood is gorgeous, and was specifically cited by God for Moses to use to build the Ark of the Covenant, as well as the first Tabernacle, and many other alters to the Lord. In addition to the tree and the wood, acacia is also a word of greek lineage that means honorable, guileless and genuine. I particularly like this meaning of genuine-ness or authenticity, because I feel that I struggle with being that way in my own life and walk with the Lord. I pray that our babygirl will able to be honorable and genuine in the way she loves and interacts with others, as well as in her pursuit of God.

I mentioned before that we think we’ll call Acacia “Cacia” most of the time (though so far I’ve stuck pretty much explusively to “Babygirl” and “Squeaker” - we’ll see if either of those stick). Like Cashel, the name Cacia has Irish heritage, meaning vigilant; Colleen’s Ambrose side of the family is from Ireland, and Colleen and I started dating while studying abroad on the Emerald Isle 10 years ago this fall, so it has a special place in our hearts.

And finally, we have a lovely friend from college who goes by Kacia (same pronunciation), which is a name I’ve always liked since I met her in Bib Lit I over 10 years ago. (Hi Kacia!)

Colleen is going to take over for the Grace portion of this post (which is appropriate for our personalities… Cason = thorny tree, Colleen = lovely, gracious):

Proud Momma
“Grace is the name of my Great Great Aunt on the Ramsay (my dad’s side) of the family. We grew up hearing stories about her and her husband’s mission work and her faith, strength, and peace. 

She was a missionary in China with her husband for many years until Japan attacked China during WWII. They then moved to the Philippines to continue mission work, but while there, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and much of the Pacific, so the area where they were living was taken over. Both Grace and her husband Fred were imprisoned by the Japanese in an internment camp for almost 3 years in the Philippines. When they were finally rescued by American forces, Grace’s brother was a medic in the troop that found them; Grace and Fred were almost unrecognizable from starvation, but her brother was able to slowly nurse them back to health. They returned to the US to recover, but continued to minister and to share their faith in God. Grace did return to China a few times throughout her life, always in a ministry capacity, and her life is a testimony of dedicated of service to Jesus Christ.

I was blessed to meet Great Great Aunt Grace when I was young, and everyone who spent time with her talked about her aura of strength and peace.  She was a beautiful person, and is a wonderful example and namesake for our sweet Acacia Grace.

Grace also has obvious spiritual meaning to us, and is even the name of our home church that we love so much. As it says in Ephesians, God’s grace towards us is what saves us from ourselves, and there is nothing that we can do to add or subtract from the gift of grace He offers us. We are so blessed by Acacia Grace, and will pray daily that she finds the Lord and lives a life full of the pursuit of His kingdom like her namesake.”

Back to Cason now… I’ve written before some of the ridiculous things about the last name Wittig, so you can just scroll down to the Wittig section this link for that blurb. In summary, no one ever pronounces it correctly, and it may mean "little wooden head" in German. But one great thing about Wittigs: We love ice cream.


Curly hair kiddos with Aunti Adri
Thanks so much for reading our blog and communicating your support via text, Facebook, etc. We really have been overwhelmed by all the love showered our way. A few people have asked how they can help or what we need, and the truth is, we have most of the baby essentials thanks to the generosity of family and friends, but there are a few things on Acacia’s Amazon registry if you’re interested. 

Also, even though we’ve already been unbelievably blessed by our church and others in this regard, adoption is expensive. If you're is interested in helping with expenses of bringing Miss Acacia home it would be greatly appreciated. 

Personal gifts are fine (checks, cash, or even Paypal or Chase QuickPay, both under However, if you’d like a tax deductible receipt for your gift, our church has graciously agreed to accept money on our behalf through their adoption fund. You can make checks out to “Grace PCA,” with “Adoption Fund” in the memo line, but please send them to us or give them to one of our family members since we’ve been asked to collect them and not have them sent directly to the church.

Thanks again for reading! Let me know if you have any question about giving towards Acacia’s adoption, if you are so inclined.

One Proud Daddy,


For those having a little trouble, here's Big Bro Cashel practicing how to pronounce Acacia's name the week before she was born:

Outtake where Cashel demonstrates some not-so-ideal techniques for rocking a baby:

Grandpa and Aunti Adri

Wittigs all around