Wednesday, 26 September 2012


"I want gets nothing", my mother used to say.  A request prefixed with "Please may I have..." was more likely to gain me favour, but still did not guarantee I’d end up with the object of my wanton desires. (The great hulk of plastic that was the Sindy House, for example.  Didn't matter how politely I asked, it was never forthcoming.)

Last week the lovely Anya at Older Single Mum tagged me to reveal my wants.  I’m not talking about my desire for the world to be a place without war, famine or pestilence, no, I’m talking about revealing my own blatant, self centred, selfish wants.  I wondered if I should change the title of this post to ‘Please may I have’; old habits die hard.  I reckoned that the Gods of ‘want’ might smile more favourably on me if I did so, perhaps would even grant one or two of my wishes.  But, a) it just doesn’t have the same impact - Want is a much better title, and b) I’m not sure that subtlety pays.  If you want something, probably best to be hammer it home properly. 

So, deep breaths, here’s what I WANT, WANT, WANT - and if you find shameless consumerism offensive, well, probably best not to read to the end of this post. 

I WANT... Gosh, it does feel weird writing it. My mother’s conditioning is obviously more deep rooted than I thought.

A good night’s sleep

I’m fed up of lying on my left side all night. It makes my ear go numb and my hips and legs ache.  It’s so uncomfortable. I lie awake thinking, only 9 more weeks to go before I can sleep comfortably again.  So, first up, I’d like a night of lying on my back, deep in the land of nod, without fear of squashing anyone or anything. 

A healthy, happy baby (preferably delivered by a stork)

EB’s health and safe delivery is my number one concern right now.  If he could be delivered by a stork that would be even better.  I would love to minimise trauma to my pelvic floor.  I really WANT to not be incontinent in later life.

GBS testing to be a routine part of normal ante-natal care in this country
I’ve written about it here, so I won’t jump on my high horse again, but suffice to say, the situation regarding diagnosis and treatment of pregnant women in this country is not, in my opinion, acceptable.

A renovated house
The Faulty Towers project has been rumbling on for two years now - and we’re still at the planning stage.  The novelty of living with flowery wallpaper, moth eaten carpets and drafty old windows has now worn thin. I’d like to fast forward to next Christmas when hopefully we will all be sitting in our new open-plan kitchen diner, tucking into turkey and trimmings and marvelling at our warm, moth free, tastefully designed home.

OK - think I’ve found my stride with the ‘Want’ list now.  The guilt has gone.

I WANT... 

A house fairy to do my laundry
Washing and ironing the bedsheets and pairing together socks and putting them away are two tasks that are at the top of my 'most hated' list of household chores.  If a small person could appear once a week to miraculously make this feats happen without me lifting a finger it would be magic. 

To delay the signs of aging
Vain, but true.  If I can’t delay them, then a masterclass in how to disguise the dark circles under my eyes would be most welcome. 

For the Home

Mon Amie Mug

I have been hankering after these beauties for a long time. I love the freshness of the blue and white design. The mugs are the perfect size for a good cup of tea and have a thin porcelain lip, which I find makes drinking a cuppa much more enjoyable than from a chunky cup.  I would love the matching side plates to go with them as well. Their lipped rim reminds me of the Denby Gypsy china my Mum had when I was a girl.  Mugs and plates together, and maybe the big serving plate too, and I’ve got the perfect crockery set for afternoon tea.

For the arm

I’ve been searching for a new tote bag for an eternity.  I’ve been very particular about it’s must have features. Handle length and bag depth being especially important. I think the search is finally over, I’ve found it, the perfect bag - you can find me kneeling at the altar of Orla Kiely, praying to her designer godliness. I love the way this bag is plum on one side and navy the other. It makes it very versatile and easy to co-ordinate with a number of outfits.  *Makes mental note to drop massive hint to Husband for Christmas*

And just because....

All dressed up and nowhere to go

Sequinned Jacket: Zadig and Voltaire

So, I’m just about to have a baby, I’ll be breastfeeding every three hours for goodness knows how long, and frankly, I don’t know when, in fact, if I’ll ever have a night out again.  But just in case I do...I’d like one of these.  To wear with some skinny jeans (I’m such an optimist!) and heels.  Just because I have always wanted a sequined jacket.  Swoon.

Wow. Turns out, it’s not so difficult to get into this ‘wanting’ thing after all...

Now it’s your turn to tell me what you really want:

Mum Down South
The Handmade Mum

Monday, 24 September 2012

The Declaration of Independence

“I’ll do it by my own, Mummy.” he says restraining my hand from helping him.

“Myself, Pip. It’s myself.  You should say, I’ll do it by myself”. 

“Myself. Myself.  I’ll do it by myself, Mummy.”

Protestations of doing it himself have been around a while now. Nothing new in that.  Yet recently I’ve noticed Pip has upped the ante.  Suddenly, of late he wants to do everything by himself.  Because, as he keeps reminding me, he’s a ‘big boy’.

Perhaps it’s the impending arrival of EB that has subconsciously caused this change, or perhaps it’s just the perfectly normal ages/ stages developmental stuff that happens to every three year old boy.  But, I must say, well, I'll whisper, * the timing of it is a little inconvenient.* Changes to your routine, when you’re about to have a baby, are not so welcome.  Frankly, I was quite happy with the status quo of life - but it seems Pip wasn’t, so a few changes have been afoot in the Plum household this last couple of weeks. Some instigated by him and some instigated by yours truly.

Top of his list of his things he now doesn’t want to do:

Use the potty - This I have applauded. I have been wanting to get rid of Mr. Frog for ages.  Every time I put it away, he would single mindedly drag it out of the cupboard again. Obstinately, he refused to use the toilet.  In the end, I figured, as long as he was doing his business in a designated vessel without prompting, I’d let him carry on. In the last few weeks he’s decided completely of his own volition that he wants to use the toilet.  Hurrah.

Wear night nappies - After we returned from our glamping trip where he got pally with a 6 year old boy, Pip insisted that he didn’t want to wear night nappies anymore. “They’re for babies, Mummy.”

Weeks of wet beds? Wet PJ’s? Getting up at 3am to change the sheets? My heart sank.

Forgetting for a moment the slight fixation with letting Mr. Frog retire, Pip was relatively easy to potty train, (something had to go my way eventually).  He’s been in pants in the day for a year now.  However, there was never a doubt in my mind, that dry nights were a long way off, as witnessed by the swollen, sodden state of his pull ups on fifty percent of mornings.

“ He’s not ready” I lamented to Husband.  “ He’s only dry half the time.”
“ He wants to do it” Husband replied.  “ You have to let him try.”

Guilted into it.

Not one to miss an opportunity I wondered how I could turn this new found independent streak, this determination to be a ‘big boy’, to my advantage.  I had a cunning plan.

“Big Boys who don’t wear night nappies, stay in their own bed ALL NIGHT LONG”
“OK. Mummy”.  Positively angelic he was.  Pigs might fly, I thought.

I decided that we both might need a little incentivising.  Me, to stay focused on the tasks in hand, and him, well, to just stay focused, he is only just 3 after all.  Felt tips to the ready, two weeks ago I found myself designing a star chart to monitor progress.  His reward:

When you're 3, this is the best thing in the world. FACT.

He really wants Cranky the Crane. He has done for ages. Even if I say it myself, this choice of prize turned out to be a real coup.

Pip has surprised me. He has been far more focused on getting his daily stars than I ever imagined. I didn’t know if a star chart would have any sway with him, but once I’d explained umpteen times, “No, you can’t put all the stars on in one go” (and confiscated the sticker sheet), he seemed to get it.  On the no night nappies front, he's had a couple of night accidents, but that’s been it. (I’ve come to the conclusion the wet pull ups each morning were possibly him just being lazy. I think he was actually lying in my bed having a cuddle thinking ‘Oh, I’ve got a nappy on, I’ll just pee in that’.)

Even better, visits from my regular night visitor have been minimal.  Which is fabulous at a time when I’m struggling to sleep anyway. Most mornings he’s now getting into our bed at 6am. This is progress.  Possibly his improved sleeping is due to being exhausted from now attending pre-school 5 mornings a week and it’s nothing to do with anything else, but, frankly I don’t care. If he stays in his bed that long, he gets a star.

It seems that Pip’s little independent streak has improved things for all of us.  The third item on the star chart was eating his dinner at the kitchen table without making a fuss.  Tea times had become a real battle ground, with him continually asking to have his tea in front of the TV, and having a major strop every time I declined.  Finally, I feel I’ve regained some ground on this and he now dutifully sits where he should, bottom solidly perched on his trip trap at the table.

He’s nearly there, a few more days and he’ll have his Cranky the Crane to compliment the rest of his Thomas wooden railway track.  As long as I can prevent any lapses in parenting authority as a result of my exhausted current state, hopefully we can build on this good progress in time for him to be a little more self sufficient before baby arrives.

The only question that remains in my mind is; what could I get him to do for the Thomas the Tank engine shed?  Seems a shame to keep it snaffled away in the wardrobe...

Monday, 17 September 2012

30 Weeks Pregnant

It seems as though it has taken an age to reach the 30 week milestone. But finally, I’m here.   It’s been a slow, lumbering journey this last few weeks. This pregnancy has been very different from my last.  I feel like I've hit the wall earlier this time, I’m really tired.  Here are the headlines:

Mind the Bump
Friends, family (and complete strangers for that matter) appear to think my bump is huge.  I’m past caring. As long as there is a healthy baby inside, I’m not bothered how big I look.  Truth be told, I’ve got to the point where I find it rather amusing when people say; "Oooh, look at the size of you.  You must be ready to drop any day now.", because it gives me the opportunity to say;  "No, actually, I’ve still got another 10 weeks" and watch the reaction on their faces.  Some just stand and stare in amazement, others back track with slightly embarrassed comments.  It’s definitely a bigger bump than the one I had with Pip.  That said, when the midwife measured me this week, everything was bang on average for size, so maybe it’s just perception, or the way I’m carrying. Either way, I look like I’ve swallowed an over sized football.

The Disco Kid

It turns out that EB is already like his brother in one respect.  He loves a late night party.  Well past midnight? Then it’s time to shake out the moves and party like it’s 2012.  This makes me slightly apprehensive, even before Pip was born, his late night shenanigans made me fear that he would be a bad sleeper. And I was right, he wasn’t a good sleeper and never has been.  Clearly, all babies are not the same, but I was hoping this one might be a bit better. Now I’m not so sure, perhaps it's just the reoccuring sense of deja vu.  I guess time will tell... 

I. am. exhausted. For the last two weeks I have been suffering from terrible insomnia.  And if it’s not that, it’s night leg cramps, feeling too hot, feeling dehydrated or getting up countless times to deliver another thimble sized deposit of wee into the toilet.  Husband has decamped to the spare room.  I don’t blame him.  I wouldn’t want to sleep next to me either right now, I’m not a good bedfellow.

Despite the tiredness, I am focused on getting the house ready for our new arrival.  It’s a tricky one, as we did not expect to be at Faulty Towers by the time EB was born - we were supposed to be moved out and mid - demolition and rebuild.  But, for reasons that should probably be the subject of another post, we’re still going to be here.  Having lived in a house with bare light bulbs and minimal curtains for the past two years, just 'putting up with it', I suddenly find myself, even if it’s only to be for a short while, unable to stand it.  After living with substandard blinds in our bedroom for all this time, last week I went and bought some cheap blackout curtains for the room not only to make it darker, but to keep the draft away from EB’s cot - as the only place it can go will be near the window.  I can’t doubt their effectiveness, it’s just a shame that they are responsible for the multitude of bruises  covering my body. It’s so dark in our bedroom now, I keep injuring myself every time I get out of bed to go to the toilet - thankfully my yelps of pain do not appear to be waking the rest of the sleeping household.

Getting Organised
Like many mothers to be, there’s a part of me that doesn’t want to plan or organise too much too early.  Superstitious? Maybe.  But last week, I succumbed to temptation and got my Dad to make up the cot and sorted through all of Pip’s old baby clothes.  I felt I needed to do it, to start getting some level of preparation and order into place. Despite turning the house upside down, I simply cannot find a couple of things from first time around.  Electric breast pump - vanished.  Bassinet fabric for pram carry cot - nowhere to be seen. (I simply have to find this as an online search for a replacement indicates it will cost a small fortune.)  Perhaps if I insert some longer matchsticks into my eyes during this week’s search I will find them. 

The Name Game.
Have we found a name for EB yet?  No, of course not. Last week after an extended perusal of the baby naming book I found a name I thought was lovely, unusual and would go with Pip’s.   Tentatively, I dropped it into a conversation with my dearly beloved, only to find that he had actually had known someone with same said name. Said person was damned as being a ‘despicable person’ (strong words coming from one of the nicest men in the world). So, that’s another name crossed off the list.  The quest continues...

Tuesday, 11 September 2012


My perception of time is ever changing right now. Fast. Slow. Fast. Slow.  Pip - everything about Pip is fast. I feel like he’s scooting through life, through each season, each year, so quickly, I can barely keep up.  Sometimes it’s as though I am watching Pip’s early life shoot past like a movie on fast forward.  And I want to slow it down.  Savour the moments more, but each and every day, he’s changing, growing, catapulting towards being that man he’ll one day become, the one I can only imagine right now.  I want to shout; “Not so fast, Pip”. But even if I did, it wouldn’t stop my little space shuttle rattling through the universe. I  can’t stop it, all I can do is watch him orbit, watch him grow and go.  So, I select the fast shutter speed on the camera inside my head and instead hope I can capture enough of the best bits to treasure forever.

Almost in tandem, things feel slow.  Like I’m a time traveller straddling two universes. This pregnancy is passing slowly.  A slow steady wait, until I meet the person inside me.  Like waiting for Christmas as a child, and beginning the countdown in April. Nights pass slowly, uncomfortably, shifting, lying awake in the dark, repositioning the bump pillow. In daytime, tired from lack of sleep, devoid of caffeine, I shift zombie like around the house. Things take longer, climbing the stairs to the top for instance.  I never used to get out of breath before. Time - again, reminding me; you’re not as young as you used to be - take it easy, older mother.

Fast again. Lists. I have many lists. There are many things I must do before baby arrives. I urge myself to work through it at propelled speed. Will I ever get it all done?  On my 'nice to do list' list, albums to make, baby books to finish. Projects I have started but have been slow to complete, thinking I had ‘all the time in the world’. Now I want to go fast. To tidy, to document, to cast my butterfly net into the past, and capture all those blue sky, wonderful moments forever.  Suddenly, it seems urgent that I do it now.  That I ensure everything is in order.

Slow. The watch on my wrist. Twelve years I’ve had this watch. Only two new batteries, ever. I have noticed that recently my watch is running behind time, as if my body has influenced it with some invisible force. It’s weary, like me. Needs a rest. I keep forgetting that it’s not correct. I leave the house, thinking I’ve allowed plenty of time for a journey, only to find  that I have arrived late. My head is slow too. I find it hard to write. This week I spelt Pip’s name wrong.  I looked at it for days, on a piece of paper on the wall, I thought; there’s something not quite right about that name inked in red. Is it the way I formed the letters? Has writing it in felt tip pen make it look strange? Three days later, I realised his name was spelt incorrectly. See what I mean? Slow.

I wonder if Pip feels the same sense of fast and slow that I do right now. For him, EB must be taking an age to appear.  He’s known about him for such a long time, I wonder if he thinks he’ll ever come out of my tummy? 

Time is becoming less of an abstract concept for Pip now. ‘When?’  and ‘How long?’ are two common prefixes to questions these days.  He tries to tell the time, looking at the big white clock in the lounge, but he is still too young.  ‘Mummy, it’s thirty past ten’ he’ll say.  He understands minutes though.  Little fingers get pushed together and held up in front of my face; “Mummy, I’m just going to watch the TV for four more minutes."  He knows that one minute is a short time, but he doesn’t remember that there are sixty minutes in an hour, that’s still too much to comprehend. He just knows, that overall, in space and time, there are a lot of minutes.

His favourite new thing to say is; "I love you all of the minutes, Mummy".

When I hear that, everything stops, everything is timeless. I cherish the moment, tucking it away in the memory box in my head.  Fast, slow, however time feels it is passing, knowing that someone loves you, unconditionally, through every tick of the clock is mind blowingly amazing

Saturday, 8 September 2012

At The Toddler Cafe

Flashback : Summer 2009. Pip was very small, possibly a month old. I was breastfeeding him in Carluccio’s whilst enjoying a creamy coffee and a panini. As he suckled contentedly in my arms, I indulged myself in a spot of people watching (always a favourite past time).  The mother on the table next to me was ordering lunch for herself and her two small children.  I eavesdropped casually on the conversation, expecting nothing unusual in the day to day ordinariness of ordering a meal. Yet, I found myself surprised. After ordering her own gastronomic delights, the waiter was instructed to bring "Two bowls of plain pasta for the children." "Two bowls of pasta no sauce, madam?" "Yes, that's right."

I was amazed. Plain pasta? Just the boiled stuff? That hardly seemed worth coming to a restaurant for. Where was the nutritional value in that meal, I wondered?  Judgemental - Me? Of course. I was the most clever mother in the world, I’d just given birth to a gorgeous baby boy, I was idealistic, rose tinted and full of wonderfully good intentions.  I’ll never let my son just eat plain pasta, I thought. 

Oh... how the mighty are fallen.

Fast forward: December 2011.  Despite my best intentions from six months onwards to work my way through Annabel Karmel’s toddler meal planner, by the time Pip was two and a half, I was despairing about his eating habits.  From weaning we had successfully introduced a number of foods, but around the age of two,  he decided to take a jumbo crayon to my menu - swathing crude lines through whole sections of the tasty repertoire I had on offer.  To say he became a tad picky was an understatement; meat (with the exception of pork derived products and finely ground mince) was chewed briefly before being spat out.  A sprig of broccoli? Treated with the utter derision that only a two year old can muster for a humble vegetable.   I became the queen of the ‘hidden veg’, masquerading food as something it wasn’t in an attempt to get him to eat his five a day (actually, even one was considered a success).  But, tricky customer that he was, he seemed to be able to sniff out a speck of carrot a mile off.

I consoled myself that at least he still enjoyed a bowl of wholesome porridge each morning, and that fruit was still deemed worthy of consumption.  Lunchtimes and teatimes however, became torturous.  He would wail if I put something in front of him he didn’t like.  The only thing he wanted to eat was pasta.   When he started to ask for pasta for breakfast, I pooh poohed his requests firmly and continued to plough on, despite protestations,  serving my gruel perfectly prepared porridge. I was convinced that with a Ready Brek halo to protect him, everything would eventually be OK.  ‘We’ll get back on track', I reassured myself.  And then the fateful day came,  the day when I heard those words, his small voice shouting an order into the kitchen at teatime as if I were some Commis chef.

“Mummy, I would like Pasta..NO SAUCE.”


My worst nightmare realised. My comeuppance. That’s what happens to smug mummies.

January 2012:  Full of good intentions and resolutions for the year ahead, I was determined to turn to a fresh new page in the proverbial toddler cook book. Fired with positivity,  I even wrote this little ditty as a reminder of my new found resolve.

Welcome to the Toddler Cafe
Here we serve one meal all day
Pasta for breakfast, lunch and tea
A real crowd pleaser, we're sure you'll agree.

Pasta with cheese or tomato sauce
Pasta with butter or plain, of course
There's something to suit even the fussiest child
Even ragu, for those that go wild.

For specials we offer sausage or fishfingers and chips
Yes, we also offer a tomato dip.
For pudding there's chocolate cake, yoghurt or ice cream
These toddler delicacies sell like a dream.

This new year we have an announcement to make
We're branching out from pasta and chocolate cake
Our portfolio is set to widen
There's a new menu on the horizon.

You'll see the return of fish pie and a delicious beef stew
Why don't you try it? you might like something new
We're making more effort with berries and fruit
And adding in some pulses to boot.
Cous Cous, lentils, blueberries too
A fantastic array of dishes just for you.

Please don't stick your tongue out
Please don't say yuk
Don't drop it on the floor or the chair where it all gets stuck
Eat it up nicely, do it for me,
Make the toddler cafe a place that Mother wants to be.

One further announcement...Pasta will be served just once a week, by this time next year, it will be a special treat.

September 2012: 
Swiftly glossing over the fact that I’m no poet laureate...How am I doing?

Pasta is now much less prevalent on the menu in our house than it was . However, when served, some days I find  I’m still fighting the pasta ‘no sauce' battle.  It’s the randomness of it all I find so difficult to deal with.  On a good day, Bolognese will be eaten and devoured, on a bad day, it will be rejected with a wail; ‘I don’t like sauce’.  It is SO frustrating.  Fickle foodies are not fun to be around.  On these occasions I persevere.  I am determined that Mummy’s cafe will not rustle up meal after meal.  It's a one sitting, one serving opportunity.  Still, I find it incredibly draining, having to sit and persuade him to eat each mouthful.

On the plus side, Pip has become a carnivore.  Fish and meat -he now loves.  I can now cook a roast dinner for the three of us, and know that he will also eat the meat I’ve cooked and not just gorge himself on roast potatoes. He has just recently gained his back molar teeth, and I am sure that his appetite for meat is directly related to the fact now he can chew it properly.

Unfortunately, the vegetable issue still rages too.  Roasted parsnips cut to look like chips fooled him for all of two minutes recently.  Carrots and peas will only be eaten if they are hidden amongst rice, or meat, rather than presented as a side accompaniment on his plate.   As for broccoli.  Forget it.  To Pip, broccoli is the devil’s work.

Reflecting back on my ditty, it seems that despite my best intentions, we’ve not come as far as I hoped.  Perhaps autumn and winter will be easier than summer, as he’ll happily tuck into stew / cottage pie/ fish pie.  Yet, it’s always with a sense of trepidation I carry the plate to the table. Silently praying, ‘Please let him eat this without complaining’. 

When do they grow out of this stage?  I am determined that he’s not going to be a chicken nuggets and chips kid.  (Although sometimes I am sorely tempted.) Does perseverance pay?  All suggestions for tried and tested ‘successful’ meals that appeal to a 3 year old gratefully received.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

From Summer to September

I can tell that summer is over.  Despite the warm sunshine, the last couple of mornings have had a definite chill about them and I’ve wondered at what point I can justify turning the heating on. ( End of October  - if you ask my hardy northern Husband.)  This summer has been great, we’ve spent lots of time together as a family, been out and about lots, and had lots of fun. I feel that we made the most of it, right up until the final furlong.  I haven’t had the chance to write about it as much as I would have liked, but sticking with the motto of ‘live first, write later’, I’ve just tried to document what I can, where I can. Now September is here, I have a little more time to reflect.

Here’s some of the things I enjoyed about the last couple of weeks of summer:

Glamping. We enjoyed a few days ‘glamping’ on the Jurassic coast last week.  The tent in the field looks idyllic - doesn’t it?  Pretty much, it was, with fully made up kingsize bed, and a small blow up bed for Pip. The only problem was the 45 degree slope of a field the beds were positioned on, which meant we kept sliding down our beds all night.  Apart from that, we had a fabulous time.  I’ve not visited the coast in that area of the world before, and we had some great days on the beaches (with good weather - hurrah!) teaching Pip how to crab.  He seemed to really enjoy this experience until we actually caught a crab, at which point he would turn and run swiftly in the other direction.

The Orchid.  Last weekend, Husband and Pip returned home from a trip out with an orchid, as an impromptu gift.  I’d been feeling a bit grumpy (don’t know why...hormones? I’m pregnant, so I’ll blame it on that...) and they wanted to cheer me up.  For the next week, said orchid was watered until, one evening, we realised it was actually a fake and the flowers were in fact, silk.  It must be a good fake because it even absorbed the water (although possibly this means the base is now rotting.) Anyhow, every time I look at it, I smile.

Snap Happy. After a spring hiatus when I simply could not get Pip to even look at the camera lens, I managed to take some great portrait shots of him this last month or so. I’m relieved, as my 2013 photo calendar for the Grandparents was in danger of looking decidedly substandard compared to previous years. (I’ve no idea if they still like getting one of these each year, but it’s a relatively cheap, personal Christmas pressie to make and I do enjoy doing it. What grandparent wouldn’t want a personalised photo calendar of their little darling, I ask you?)

Back to School.  This week Pip started back at his Montessori school after the summer break.  He will now be on full ‘pre-school’ hours and attending each morning.  He was so pleased to go back yesterday, and I felt such relief as I watched him bound through the door without any tears, looking forward to seeing his ‘friends’.  I’m really looking forward to having a bit of ‘me’ time over the next three months before baby comes.  At 6 months pregnant, I’m definitely feeling more tired now, and it will be great to have some time to sit down with a cup of tea/blog/read each morning...or rather, sort out all the cupboards and get organised before baby comes.

Right now, I feel content.  The sun is shining through the (rather dirty) kitchen windows,  the birds are singing in the garden, and I’m welcoming the return to routine after a fabulous summer.  The slow chill of autumn is just around the corner and there is much to look forward to; russet red leaves falling from the trees, Halloween, and the opportunity to get Pip dressed up, the wonderment of fireworks on Bonfire night, the promise of Christmas, and of course, the arrival of Baby EB.  There are good times ahead, I can feel it.

Linking up with Reasons to be Cheerful  hosted this week at Tiger Tales.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Names, Names, Names

It’s a weighty responsibility choosing a name for your child.  They’ll be stuck with the moniker you choose for the rest of their life. (Unless they decide to head off to deed poll at the earliest opportunity). I’ve always thought that, in theory, choosing a name for your child should be an enjoyable experience.  With the promise of a person forthcoming, it should be a joy to choose a name to bestow on them; a defining halo that they will carry with them all their life. 

That’s what I thought.

The reality is quite different.  Aside from the responsibility of making a choice your future offspring will be happy with, the majority of people usually have an accompanying partner, which means arriving at name choice you both agree on.  Sometimes it’s easy, you hit on a name you both love; job done. In other situations, such as mine, it’s the complete opposite, and you end up stalemated, like two opposing bookends either side of the baby naming books on the shelf.

I consider myself blessed that on most of the things that matter in life, my husband and I agree. In fact, so often are we on the same page, it doesn’t matter which of us turns it.  Names, however, represent one of those rare occasions in our relationship where our thinking is poles apart. 

I’ll admit, I’m part of the problem. I favour left- field, more unusual choices. (Due partly, I’m sure, to having the most popular girl name in secondary school, and thus always having to be referred to by my first name and surname in order to be identified. )  Husband on the other hand, is far more conservative.  Even finding the middle ground can be difficult.  In the past few weeks I’ve marveled at the fact that we even managed to agree on a name for Pip.  His name is an old biblical name, not chosen because either of us are particularly religious, but just because we liked it. I think one of the reasons Husband went for it, was the fact that if Pip had that name, he and his son would share the same initials.

For baby number two, selecting a name is proving far more difficult than first time around.  We both have certain criteria that the name must meet:

a) Not too popular, ideally, a little bit ‘different’.  (Me)

b) Not unisex (Husband.) You’d be surprised how many names that you’d consider ‘boy’ names in the UK, are also used for girls elsewhere in the world, particularly in the US.

c) Easy to spell (Husband). He thinks this will propel our child to the top of the class...

d) Not associated with a memory of anyone either of us have disliked, either in real life, on TV or in fiction.(Both)

e) Not associated with the name of a pet. (Both)

f) Not a biblical name. In light of son no 1’s name. (Husband.)

So, some basic rules, you wouldn’t think it would be that hard.  Would you?

A typical conversation...

Me: "What about Ptolemy?"

H: "We can’t give our son a name with a silent P. It’s just too much". (See criteria c)

Me: "Quinn?"

H: Checks internet. "No. It’s also a girl’s name in America."

Me: "No, it’s definitely a boy’s name - Irish heritage."

H: "Stats don’t lie - look." Shows me a graph and then firmly refutes based on criteria b)

Me: (Thinking I have a cunning plan). "Ok, Tarquin then. Quinn for short.  Tarquin is a good strong Roman name."

H: "I don’t think I can have a son called Tarquin. I’m worried it’s a bit...poncy." (Note, this name meets all criteria but he still refutes it.)

Me: "Rufus.  Rufus is a good name."

H: "I think I knew a dog once called Rufus." (Thereby referring to criteria e)

Me: "Well, did you or didn’t you?"

H: "I don’t know. Maybe it just reminds me of a dog."

Me: "Rex - What about Rex?"

H: "That’s definitely a dog’s name. Or the name of a dinosaur." (Criteria e again...note it has now been extended to apply to extinct species.)

Me: "Felix?  I like Felix."

H: "It makes me think of tins of cat food." (Applies criteria e to this claiming 'pet association'.)

Me: "Hugo. What about Hugo?"

H: Too ‘Made in Chelsea’. I could never say his name without thinking of the bloke from the programme. (Criteria d)

Me: "Solomon?"

H: "Absolutely not." (Criteria f)

Me: "Joseph?"

H: "No.We are not having another biblical name. It says something about us we’re not." (f)

Me: "Xavier?"

H: "No."  (Criteria c.)

Me: "Griffin?"

H: "Are you serious?" ( Not sure, just starting to feel slightly desperate.)

Me: "I seem to be the one bringing all the suggestions to the table.  All you do is veto the names I suggest.  You haven’t suggested a single name yet.  Go on, you suggest something."

H: "Well, there is one name I like."

Ah ha! .. I await with baited breath...

H: "Tom."

How does Tom meet criteria a) I wonder?
And so the conversation continues....

Possibly all is not lost. Pip has awarded baby no 2 a name in-utero. In the event we can’t decide, we could always go with that. 

I just wish he hadn’t chosen...


Unbelievably, it does however, tick all the boxes on our criteria list.

Did you struggle to determine the name for your child? How did you decide? I’d love to hear your naming stories.

*Disclaimer: If you are a parent of a Ptolemy , Tarquin, Felix, Rufus or indeed, a child with any of the other names my husband has vetoed, please be assured, these are his views only. Personally, I think these are splendid names. *