Category Archives: Baby Lily

My Northern Daughter (or Borrowed Pronounciation)

Happens our Lily is part northern. Daddy is northern. Mummy is somewhat more southern (although not entirely, I am proud to say). On my calculations, Lily is five-eighths Northern, two-eighths Londoner and one-eighth Cornish. Whether she is a pie, a pudding or a pasty I do not know, but this I have realised:

She cannot pronounce the key word ‘bath’ without a shortened vowel.

I put this down to the fact that daddy operates her nightly bath. I just help her change out of her clothes beforehand (this is getting easier the older she gets) and read her stories after (this is getting harder). In Suffolk, where we live, local folk moight goo an ave a baaaath. But they certainly wouldn’t have a barth. Accents in the Eastern counties share more in common with those in the South West than the South, as it happens. I do not anything to add which Michael McIntyre has not put better, but the British Library apparently do, and I don’t moind hoo they see it.


“You’re actually starting to look pregnant now”

Maybe it’s because I’m an Intuitive Introvert, but I do like leaving things until the last minute.  I have a feeling baby Bean may be the same. Finally I have a bump I am proud of, and which leaves me unable to put socks on without real effort. Sometimes when I look down to pick Lily up I cannot see her. I have developed a huge urge to eat, and when I am not eating, to have a light snack or something. As a result, my new name is shown above. Catchy. 99% of people who see me call me this at the moment. I am not yet sure what the most polite response is, and am less and less inclined to search for it. I mean, I’m due in 9 days time and some people who see me regularly are still surprised to discover we are expecting. This makes me sad. I don’t feel like a proper mother.

Leaving things until the last minute is not a trait I am proud of, but it is definitely part of who I am. It explains the burst of DIY and building on the kitchen over 2007, and the work we’ve been doing on the windows, door, painting and moving rooms round this year. It explains why I can spend 2 weeks researching a topic and put it all together in one night. At a pre-ordained time, I gather up my conclusions, make decisions and take action.

This would be a good point in my pregnancy therefore, for me to have sussed out all that needs to happen for the labour and early days of Bean’s life as a regular, breathing human being. However, looking at my ‘still to do’ list I notice that the teddy still does not have a name (Bean has a short-list, and no, we are not discussing it). Also the nursery does not look spotless yet. Or for that matter, anywhere else in the house, although were I able to reach every last bit of dust (or pay someone to), you can be assured that baby Bean would arrive in a world cleaner than a hospital with a politician visiting. You know, I think a newborn would appreciate that. My hormones tell me so.

Talking of hospitals, I saw yesterday that the chap who invented beta-blockers died. I am eternally grateful to people who have provided such clever medicines following dad’s heart attack. It is not something I would be able to do myself.

Ok, time to waddle off and think about doing a spot of cleaning. After a quick bite.

More door decisions

I asked the decisive person in the family (see this post) today what colour she wanted the new front door to be, and she wants the old one back. Or, failing that, black.

So she doesn’t count.

I also asked mum and dad, who are concerned that we could use it to show allegiance to a political party, football team or university college. Another dead end. What do people read into this? I live in Ipswich, where half the doors are Oxford Blue on inspection. But it is a Labour seat. I suspect ITFC has a lot to answer for. Mum thought Norwich colours might be a bit radical. I suppose so, but am grateful that it wasn’t an early Victorian trend to go for Canary Yellow and Easter Green on one’s portal to the world.

I am wondering about choosing something remotely National Trust, say from Farrow & Ball, but don’t want to send the message ‘please burgle me’. I had liked the trendy grey that has been springing up everywhere (apparently derived from primer, according to the Telegraph). But we already have reclaimed brass fittings, so that is not such a clever idea. We also have to consider what colours we might like in the glazing. Hmm.

This decision has to happen tonight, unfortunately. The painter popped over today with samples and can put on the undercoat in the morning.

So I really ought to stop doing this and get on with it. Ideas gratefully received, as ever, or we end up with ‘pregnant hormonal pink’ or Cath Kidston. Interesting thought…


Less is more. Where less is defined as > 0 and more is greater than, or equal to less. Except when it is less than less, because less is more.

Taking this to its IKEAcle conclusion, we now have a small child sleeping in a small room decorated in very few colours (white, white, white and FABLER). We will soon have an even smaller child, for whom we have made a larger room available, decorated in elephants in custard. Except they won’t usually be sleeping in there: they will usually be sleeping in a basket, in a room with us. Until that is, the basket gets too small or the child gets too large or they learn to snore.

The custardy room is sheltering all kinds of newborn and labour paraphernalia. (This paraphernalia, because it is for a very small person, naturally takes up a huge volume). In the process of nesting, we have also had to make rather grand alterations to a third room which usually houses guests, drying, old telephones and second-hand furniture. Not all at the same time. This larger room has got to be emptied even further.

More than one charity refused to take away the furniture, so we used freecycle instead and made some people very happy (they were a young family the other side of town who needed beds and a Portuguese clan of scary blokes who wanted a wardrobe and could not speak English and brought their own tools). I have a lot of good things to say about freecycle now, despite meeting my first real pirates. The erstwhile guest room with en-suite office facilities has become an office-come-guest-room with nearby toddler. It will need more ‘less’ doing, and to that end I am still decluttering and trying to get on top of admin before any more important banking/car/guarantee things change without me realising. Think Augean stables. In order to make this room flexible and friendly, we are not re-painting (we already did it in white), but are going to buy a nice white IKEA chest of drawers to house things that don’t file in the filing cabinet and a nice white IKEA wardrobe to put duvets and so on into. In time we will need to buy the right kind of sofa-bed too, but as it happens we can probably manage with the inflatable king-size bed for now. When you are trying to go for the ‘less is more’ look, there always seems to be more to do. This is wrong in my head, but I can’t work out why.

So – why is the post called ‘Definitions’ ?

Good point. I had thought about writing about how Lily is taking to her new room and graduating to a real bed. She hasn’t yet realised you can get out of it yourself after you have been put to sleep. I am hoping this continues for some time. (We did finally install a stair gate, now that she is 2 and 1/3). She is doing her usual trick of facing Mecca, or perhaps Jerusalem or New York or Norwich after being tucked in. And she loves to have all her favourite dolls and teddies around her. Ergo:

Pillow: A place to keep many soft toys while you lie transversely in bed with no covers on.

Guard-rail: What you have to climb over to get into bed, using a straight body and pivoting motion.

Underthebed: Where nappies go to sleep.

Curtains: The pretty things covering the blinds which only naughty people play with.

Letters: Colourful magnets stuck to a metal sheet for learning to spell important words like dda.

Cushions: For stroking and saying ‘ahhhh’. (Compare cats, babies, books with fur in).

Lambskin rug: The place to rub your face when you get out of bed, or need a nappy, or generally want to be silly. Also using for tucking in excess soft toys (see Pillow, above).

Shelf: Out of bounds. Houses pretty things, mostly called ‘What’sthat?’

What’sthat?: Anything not yet defined. Applies to somewhere in the region of 30 items/noises/smells per day. Serious answers not always necessary.

Stories: Books mummy once thought were a good idea, until they became staple reading night after night. They seem to be getting longer, the older the child gets. This is Worrying, as we haven’t yet moved up to Chapters.

Handle: Part of the door which daddy took off to danish oil and was elsewhere (calamitous distress) for the duration, but is now FIXED and needs pointing out each time the door is used. Thank goodness.

Door: FIXED by daddy (see Handle). And also a bit by Lily, who held a screwdriver very capably throughout.

That’s enough definitions for now. I had wanted to say more, but should probably have said a lot less.

More or less.


I lost my mobile phone a week ago.


Having replaced it yesterday with the second cheapest one in the shop I am already feeling that sinking feeling that people in the Americas must have got every time they were ‘discovered’. What – again already? Didn’t you discover us before? And take away your filthy pox and your silly costumes and your strange language. Or leave a message and we’ll discover you back when we’re available.

I quite liked the freedom of not being summoned on demand. Not having to ignore those around me to filter new ‘urgent’ and ‘important’ categories on demand. I am not a computer. I am a person. I don’t have apps; I have skills. I don’t predict what you are about to tell me (always). I don’t lose all my information when set down somewhere random and forgotten about. Well, maybe I do. But that is besides the point.

I would like a phone to act as a PA for me, not as a yapping puppy.

I would also like to be able to choose a new phone (when the need arises once in every ten years), on the basis of the size of the buttons, not on how many mega-pixels the camera uses. Would madam like a few more mega-pixels with her pixel-sized buttons? Or how easily it can be cleaned after sticky fingers get hold of it, not whether it is a candy-bar shape. Does madam take toddlers with her technology? Or whether the phone can be locked and still found useful as a toy for a yappy.

If I was that dead-set against it I should not have bought a new one.

But I needed to find out what I might have otherwise been missing, and parts of my life are currently dictated by SMS contact. Perhaps I should set myself an upper age limit, and aim to be rid of my mobile by then.


My dad tells me that, of me, my husband and my daughter, Lily is the most decisive. I’m not sure. Maybe.

She certainly knows her mind. Maybe I should put that another way. She knows how to look busy. I hope this comes in helpful for her in the future.

We are still a little indecisive about names for Baby Bean, with only 5 weeks to go. I asked Lily, and she suggested ‘Lily’, and ‘Mummy’. I object to naming a child ‘Mummy’, however outrageous baby-naming trends become. I did work with a young offender once whose name was, according to the courts ‘Daddy’, but he joked to me that it wasn’t his real name. Really?

There are several directions we could take in naming decisions, and being a bit of a tangential thinker, I have made it my project to travel along all of them. What was I thinking? It has made me realise we have no choice but to compromise somewhere – a bit like choosing a house or a marriage partner. You love them, but they snore, or need new front doors. The process of whittling the internet down to The Bits That Really Actually Help in this search has proved enlightening. There are countries in the world with shortlists of allowed names; one does not include the biblical name Zebedee, because of its connection with the Magic Roundabout. OK. There are people who are calling their children names along the lines of Le-a (pronounced Ledasha) apparently. I was wondering whether Ma~ might be a riser on this basis, but not many people know how to pronounce ~ and to be fair, families who go for middle-class names may object to punctuating a name unnecessarily. Certainly in the UK.

Names that our great-grandmothers and grandmothers would have known well from school are back in fashion. Well, some of them are. I think that if we take this a little further, we should go back and see what Anglo-Saxon names are still reasonably trendy. I found a useful page or two about this. So perhaps Ælfgyð will make a bit of a comeback soon. Who knows? Ironically, at the same time I started investigating this, my dad decided to tell me all about Old English. It was more interesting than birding, in that the facts stuck a little better in my head, but now a week has passed I think it is gone. Suffice to say, the West Saxon dialect of Old English includes such gems as:

Fæder úre, ðú ðe eart on heofonum,
Sí ðín nama gehálgod.
Tó becume ðín rice.
Gewurde ðín willa
On eorþan swá swá on heofonum.
Urne dægwhamlícan hlaf syle ús tódæg.
And forgyf ús úre gyltas,
Swá swá wé forgyfaþ úrum gyltendum.
And ne gelæd ðu ús on costnunge,
Ac álýs ús of yfele. Sóþlice.

It’s a good thing God speaks Old English too.

(I did not learn it – I googled, but there are other things to be doing you know and I am only blogging now because I got 3 hours sleep last night and there are people noisily working on my front door today so I have no chance to rest).

Then there are the hero names. Some people name their child after their heroes, which is why there are a lot of Charlenes and Kylies of a certain age, and Tigers (up until recently). Company names are getting more popular – for sponsorship perhaps? This is a little dangerous I’d say. And even if they don’t sound silly now, you don’t really want the child in front to be a Toyota. Or the car behind, for that matter.

I had a mad thought while reading the back of a carton recently. The best before date was printed in such a way that it spelt out MAR10. Perhaps numberplate-proud folk expecting a boy this March would do well to consider that one. Or the similar JUL10 or JUN10? Give it a few more years and you could have JAN13, MAR13, JUN13, JUL13, JAN15, MAR15 and so forth. I doubt I’ll be able to persuade my husband to go for such a name, however, even if we produce a boy before the month is out.

Where does this leave us? Back with the usual stuff: consider the initials and the way it sounds, have a think about nicknames, see if the sibling set sounds ok, check the rhythm with the surname (and surnames in general for a girl), and so on. For all my protestation, I am actually enjoying naming this child. Or at least, I’m doing a good job of making it look like I am busy at it.

Spurius Claims

Now normally I trust the BBC. At least I do on matters of ‘Fact of the Day’ as found on their homepage. Today’s QI fact states:

“The letter G was invented by a Roman called Spurius Carvilius Ruga.”

Now, stop me if I’m wrong, but poor Spurius here already had a letter G in his name (albeit lower case). Does nobody check these things?

I am somewhere close to having a second child and busily nesting and preparing, which leaves little time for blogging. This is not intentional, but I do intend to get back on track before long. For example, our house has to be checked soon to see if it will be ready for me to give birth in. Hmm. At the moment, there are rooms like this:

and the front door is something like this:

which makes me wonder if Bean is likely to be born in a barn at this rate. Not your typical Easter solution – more Christmassy I think.

I also just booked the car in to have the back door handle fixed on the side we’ll need to open to get the baby in and out, should we wish to travel with it. It cannot be opened from the outside. I think I have enough nappies, I know we have some newborn clothes somewhere and for some reason it is also important that I imminently: take Lily to the dentist and also have her eyes seen, take a bunch of excited year 7 girls out to ‘All Fired Up’ to paint mugs, help IKEA stay in the black (both online and in person) and visit various people/fit in various activities before it is too late to ever (seemingly) do them again. Two children sounds like a lot more than one. Especially when the ‘one’ has hit the terrible twos with major anxiety at ever being away from me.

Now to chase up all the excess admin that is lying around as part of our new filing system. Or maybe lunch. There isn’t time for both. And there certainly isn’t time to be thinking about where we would be without the letter G.

Oodness me, what’s ot into these uys? Don’t they know there were Eyptian, Hebrew and Reek letters for it? Why does Latin et all the ood facts?


Lily has been learning her letters. I blame the television, and to a lesser degree the parents. Of course, the grandparents have been instrumental in this as well. She has teaching firmly in the blood.

I am now inflicted with re-runs of ‘Alfagoks’ every time I am accompanied at the computer or television. I am running out of places to hide, but thankfully I do find the show very entertaining and there is lots to notice.

Here is an example. There are many more, on the CBeebies website or on the channel, at around 4:30 most afternoons.

Lily’s favourite character is O. Poor little O doesn’t say much. I like E quite a lot, and the little jokes about silent E and other characters with interesting stories. Y has a song that is stuck in my head. C and K have a contest as the alphabet isn’t big enough for both of them. Lots of great ideas, produced in a child-friendly and amusing way with lots of educational value.

Boring holes

I was starting to wonder where the material previously taking up pothole space had gone as it doesn’t exactly melt, but before I could let my imagination go too far, I discovered the BBC have taken precautions against this kind of question and come up with this. See especially ‘How Potholes are Formed’ which was more interesting than I had thought it would be, in a Mayo kind of way.

The evenings won’t be the same in the kitchen without Chris Evans though. I didn’t have that much respect for him on TV, but he has gone up in my estimation and is likeable and naturally intelligent at jockeying all kinds of discs,  making everyone feel important. This is something I wish more people would devote time to. He even had a vicar on his first morning programme apparently (I forgot to tune in, but these things are documented…) and kicked off with the Beatles, so someone’s been doing their homework on scoring points in Radioland.

I really ought to listen to more Radio 2. It took me weeks to realise that Ken Bruce wasn’t an alter ego of Terry Wogan. And while I will never find Sir Tel as funny as some people do (does he pay them?), I do appreciate being able to run on auto-pilot and let the radio do the talking when I am dopily attempting to keep going as the pregnant mother of an excitable and imaginative toddler.

The set in the kitchen oscillates frequently between Radio 2 (for sanity) and Radio 3 (for connecting a neural networks: mostly mine I feel). I loved listening to Radio 4 growing up and in college, but the world service in Prague wasn’t as inspiring, and my husband won’t agree to wake up to people talking so it’s lost its edge. Somehow classical melodies are less aggressive when fighting the morning off. I do enjoy the humour though, so maybe I’ll be switching back to timing meals for 6:30 in the evening and putting Radio 4 on again then.

I wonder if radio waves exist in a vacuum? I’ll have to ask my husband. Somewhere a neuron or two are debating in my head about needing some kind of matter to carry the vibrations, but surely radio frequencies carry in space, and what’s there? Just a big hole, punctuated by matter?

You can see why I need the radio on so much. It stops me worrying about things I can’t let myself worry about. At least until Lily begins questioning me on science. Crumbs. I’m already digging a hole for myself.

Bobby’s House

Have I been imagining my daughter’s imaginary friend?

She came out with ‘Where’s Bobby?’ a couple of days ago, and this meant nothing to me. This is a two-year-old girl whose imagination usually stretches to naming things after herself (we have two snowmen named in her honour, but mine is currently headless and likely to remain so). When I asked who Bobby was, Lily wanted to talk about Bobby’s house, where you could eat chocolate, do colouring and sticking. These are three of her favourite things, and have not all happened recently together in any one place.

Further questions at different times have indicated that Bobby is a cat, Bobby is a little boy, Bobby is blue, Bobby has yellow hair, Bobby likes peas, jam on toast, cereal and chocolate and Bobby loves colouring and sticking. Bobby is not at our house, but may be at Bobby’s house, when he has one. I’m fairly sure he’s a he now. Lily is getting a lot better at the boy/girl difference. Bobby’s house contains all her nursery friends and some friends that were round my friend Margaret’s house the other day. When I had to return there to help fix something on her computer, I discovered that the origins might be a book called ‘Poppy Cat’, which Lily thinks is fantastic. However, the whole idea has definitely grown since then, and Lily is adamant that Margaret’s house is not Bobby’s house.

If it is a real imaginary person, the timing fits in with seeing lots of family members and having to say goodbye to them all. Not only that, but Lily is getting used to the idea of having a new person in the family soon and asserting her own independence and waiting for Bean to arrive. Maybe she is wondering what it is going to be like.

Well, as long as we don’t have to decorate a third bedroom, Bobby is welcome to stay at our house, but he’d better not start asking me where everything and everyone is. I’m having a hard enough time finding the square root of minus 1.